LATE Chapter 089

Never Anger a Goddess

 

[WARNING: Contains Extreme Sex, Violence, Controversial Material, Non-monogamous relationships.  If you are sensitive to those topics, don’t read this chapter.   You’ve been warned.

 

Sookie was at least enjoying the sunlight pouring on her as she floated face-up on a pink air mattress. Amelia was keeping Alex and his “giddy” busy over on the pool steps, so Sookie had some time to just think.

She was seriously pissed off at Niall. The nerve of him thinking he had a right to keep her baby for his own purposes! And she was sick and tired of his attitude toward Eric. He was Aubie’s father, like it or not, and keeping them apart wasn’t going to change that. She kept remembering how big Aubie’s eyes were when Eric held him, like he was taking him all in. There was no fear there, just curiosity and openness. It was like he had just been waiting to get a look at his daddy.

She was trying to imagine what might constitute a situation where there was no choice but to bring Aubie over, and none of the potential scenarios was less than terrifying. She wondered how she could find out more about this Liam Cullach and find out just how much of a threat he was at the moment. Suddenly her mind flashed on the Fae woman screaming and Aubie crying, and Sookie slipped into something like a trance as she got off the mattress and quickly headed out of the pool, not responding to anything around her as she headed upstairs, dripping all through the house.

“Sookie, did you get tired of floating?” Amelia said, but Sookie didn’t respond. “Bjorn did you see that?”

“Yeah. HEY. SOOKIE! YOU ALRIGHT?” No reply. “Amelia, wrap the baby up and bring him into the den, OK? I’m going to follow her because something is up.”

“OK, thanks!” she said as she accepted the towel from him and managed to get Alex into it as they sat on the edge of the pool. The kitten jumped out and shook itself like a dog, getting both of them wet.

Alex cracked up, “Ewin pasthed me!”

“Who splashed you, Punkin’?” Amelia didn’t quite catch that,

“EWIN!” he pointed to the kitty as it licked its paws.

“Ewin?”

“Nah, nah, Ameeah, EWIN!”

“Erin? Is that what you’re saying? Erin?”

“MEOW!” the cat replied loudly and rose up to tap Amelia on her shoulders as she did for emphasis.”

“Hi, Erin,” Amelia thought she should be polite, whomever it was.

“Meow!” The kitten touched its nose to her cheek as if it were giving her a kiss, then did the same to Alex just as Amelia began to stand and take them both indoors. Alex asked to play with Boss when they went in so Amelia pulled him out of the corner and dropped kid and kitty into the ball pit, then lay back on the couch watching the joy and chaos that ensued.

“Anybody see Sookie come through here?” Bjorn said anxiously as he came into the kitchen where Octavia, Alicia and Margaret were all sitting and having a cup of coffee.

“She came zippin’ through here, but she didn’t speak to anyone. What’s up with her?” Octavia asked.

“I’m not sure. Which way did she go?”

“Sounded like she went up the stairs.”

“Thanks,” Bjorn sped through following Sookie’s trail, which was visible from water on the carpet. He knew there was no way she would do that consciously.

Sookie was in the bedroom turning her side chair to face her new vanity before she was aware of it. She sat before the mirror and said “show me” and was instantly looking at a home invasion in the familiar yellow room. She couldn’t see the Faerie men clearly but she saw the Fae woman’s head struck off by a sword as Freyja commanded “NOW SOOKIE!”

Without thinking, Sookie called “AUBIE, COME TO ME!” and she was in the room, scooping him up out of the crib before the men could react and she was instantly back in her room before the mirror with the crying baby in her arms. The scene still played out in the mirror before her:

“What kind of Witchcraft is this? Where did he go?”

“I thought you said Niall’s magick couldn’t stop us if we used these charms?”

“It can’t. That magick had another source. Liam will want to know about this.”

“Liam will kill us both if we come back without the baby’s head.”

“Well, we don’t have that one, so we either show up without or find another’s head to take.”

“Take them!” Sookie snarled into the mirror. The room was instantly filled with dark wings and the would-be assassins died screaming about falcons. The picture in the mirror faded and Sookie became aware that she was sitting there holding Aubie in her arms.

She was crying, rocking, hugging and kissing him when Bjorn came up the stairs.

“Sookie, is that…?”

“Yes! He’s home! They tried to kill him but I got to him first!” She was talking fast and nearly hysterical as the baby cried.

“Who tried to kill him?”

“Two Faerie assassins. They were talking about taking his head for their boss or killing another baby for its head so I sent the falcon after them.”

“The falcon? Are they still alive?”

“No, they’re dead, so no one will know what killed them.”

“How did you know this was happening?”

“I was in the pool and I saw the Fae woman scream and Aubie cry and the next thing I knew I was sitting here holding him.” She was rocking hard and clutching the baby, who was beginning to calm down now.

“Sookie, come away from the mirror, Hon.” Bjorn helped her up and brought her to the bed. “Sit there, and relax and we’re going to think about this.”

“Why? What are you worried about?”

“I’m worried about the people who will come looking for those assassins. You’re sure they’re both dead?”

“Yeah, the birds ripped them to pieces.”

“The Fae mother is definitely dead?”

“Yes, decapitated by a short sword.”

“There was no sign of anyone else there?”

“I heard Freyja, but I don’t think I saw Her. She yelled “now, Sookie!” and I called him, and I was in the room and grabbed him and was back here now.”

“Did they see you?”

“They saw something – they said it was Witchcraft from someone other than Niall.”

“I’m going to make a suggestion that is going to sound crazy, but I think it’s what you should do.”

“What?”

“Get your suit off, get into bed with the baby, feed him and go to sleep if you can while I talk to Octavia about whether we should call Ludwig and when.”

“Why do you want me to sleep?”

“So Freyja can get to you easily if need be. She’ll warn you if anything happens before we figure this out.”

“OK, let me put on a gown. Here, hold Aubie a second.”

Bjorn took the baby a little hesitantly, noticing how much he looked like Alex. He bounced him just a little, though he wasn’t crying now, and talked softly to him the way he did Alex. Sookie grabbed a lavender knit gown from her dresser and took it into the bathroom so she could use the pot as well as dress. She was back quickly and Bjorn tucked her in, letting her get settled feeding Aubie, who seemed happy as a clam.

Bjorn used his little phone or whatever to call Jerry in the front office. “Kerik?”

“Yeah, boss?”

“I need you up in Sookie’s room. Put the other guards on alert, make sure the back of the house is covered and get up here.”

“Be right there.”

“Jerry’s coming up?”

“Yeah, I figured you’d be more comfortable with him than any of the others. I need to talk to Octavia and maybe Ludwig. I’m just not sure it’s safe to call her at the moment.”

“Oh, OK.”

“You try to relax and sleep. I want Freyja to be able to speak to you easily if need be. Your little buddy there seems to be calm now.”

“Yeah, he’s OK, aren’t you, Sweetie?” She cooed at the baby, the two of them quickly settling in, very content to be together. By the time Jerry arrived, Sookie and the baby were both yawning. Bjorn briefed Jerry quickly about Sookie’s vision and her response, then headed downstairs as Jerry took his usual seat.

“Thanks for watching us, Jerry,” Sookie said with a big yawn.

“No problem, your majesty. You just relax and sleep. We’ve got you covered.”

“Yeah,” Sookie said as she and Aubie dozed off, relieved and happy to be together at last.

Sookie was dreaming that she and Aubie were floating on a cloud for a long while, then she was standing on the shore with him in her arms, Freyja standing before them. “He’s safe for now, but others will try in the future. Never leave him alone.”

“Wake up, my beautiful wife.” Eric was smiling at her, stroking her cheek. “I see our family has grown!”

“Oh, Eric! Did Bjorn tell you? I’m so glad you’re up!”

“He told me there was an assassination attempt and you saved the baby. He also said you commanded the falcon across time and space!”

“Well, Freyja was already there, I think, and when I heard them talking about taking a baby’s head, I just lost it and sicced it on them. There was a bunch of birds this time and they tore them to pieces.”

“That’s one way to be sure they never report back,” he smiled, patting Aubie’s tummy.

Sookie laughed softly, “I guess I learned that from you, huh? I just… I couldn’t let them hurt another baby!”

“You did the right thing, Sookie. You and Freyja did what you needed to do, I’m sure of it.”

Aubie stretched and gurgled, rubbing his little nose and looking up at Eric with big eyes.

“Hi, Sweetie! Are you looking at Daddy? Yeah, that’s your Daddy!” Sookie tickled his chin and he smiled and waved his arms. “Here, Eric, hold him for a minute.”

“With pleasure!” he said, taking the baby up in his arms as Sookie tried to sit up. “Hello, my little Elf! Welcome home!”

“So you’re not angry, right?”

“Not at all. I knew it was just a matter of time, and frankly, I’m relieved that he is here. We just need to get him acclimated, and get Alex used to his being here. I’ve already given the staff a rudimentary explanation. I told them he’s been in the care of a nurse, which is apparently true, and that he is not as advanced as Alex, though they are twins.”

“Is anybody going to quit on us?”

“No, I don’t think so. They were surprised, of course, but they seem generally receptive. The guards all know there are two children to watch now. I’m afraid news of his arrival will spread quickly, whether we want that or not.”

“Did anyone call Dr. Ludwig?”

“Bjorn and Octavia felt it was best to wait until tonight, and we’re going to use Octavia’s phone so no one will be able to trace the call to us.”

“Good idea.”

“Yes, we want to make the call seem unrelated to the events of today.”

“I wonder if Niall knows yet?”

“I don’t think he does, or we’d have heard from him. He’s not going to be happy about this, I take it?”

“Tough. He’s our baby and he’s home where he belongs.”

“Yes, he is,” Eric smiled and stroked the baby’s cheek. “Eric Auberon, are you laughing at your Daddy?”

The baby gurgled and giggled and reached for Eric’s face, so Eric kissed his little palm. Sookie was watching them, glowing, when her tummy growled.

“You need to eat, my Angel.”

“Yeah, I do. I’m going to be feeding three of you now.”

“Well, I’ve been thinking that it might be time to let Alex start feeding from others, too. Amelia and Bobbie have both offered to feed him, and I think that, plus the other foods he’s eating now, might fill him up more.”

“OK, Aubie’s a little too small for food just yet, so we’ll stick with my milk and blood and RM for him.”

“It’s going to be very busy around here with two little boys and a kitten, you know.”

“Yeah, but it will be fun!”

“Let’s hope. I’m still worried about Alex’s reaction.”

“Well, let’s go down to dinner and see what we’re working with, OK?”

“Yes, let’s get you something to eat.”

Eric stood up still holding the baby and held Sookie’s hand to steady her as she walked on her knees toward his side of the bed.

“Oops, one minute, Sweetie!” she said as she went to the dresser and took out a pair of panties, quickly wiggling into them before taking his hand again so they could proceed to the stairs.

The kitchen was full as everyone sat around the table chatting and drinking sweet tea as Margaret, Alicia and Carrie worked on getting dinner together. Alex was in his high chair next to the table, the kitten eating from her new pink dish by the entrance to the pantry, which was next to her new wicker bed with a pink floral-print pillow.

“Good evening, everyone!” Eric said as they came into the kitchen.

Everyone said ‘hey,’ ‘hello,’ ‘welcome back, sleepy head,’ and things to that effect.

“So this is our new little one?” Margaret came over, wiping her hands on her apron. “What a little Angel!”

“Yes, he is!” Alicia agreed, tapping his little chest as he gurgled happily. “Hello, little one!”

“Margaret and Alicia, this is Eric Auberon, but I call him Aubie!” Sookie was tickled to death to finally have him home.

“He’s like a little carbon copy of Master Alex!” Margaret said, enchanted by the angelic infant.

“Nah dat beebee, Dadee!” Alex wagged his finger at Eric as he sat down with Aubie, Sookie taking her seat on the other side of Alex.

“Alex, Sweetie, be nice to Buddy.” Sookie urged him, “that’s your little buddy, Aubie.”

“Nah buggy.”

“Yeah, he’s your little buddy.”

“NAH NAH, MA DADEE!” Everybody was holding their breath, ready for Alex to pitch a fit.

“Lay down the law, Daddy, and let him know how it’s gonna be,” Octavia urged Eric.

Eric shifted the baby over to his left arm, and told Sookie, “give Alex to me.”

“OK,” she popped up and took Alex out of his seat, Eric taking him in his right arm, giving Alex a big kiss and snuggling him under his chin.

“See, Alex – there’s enough of Daddy to share,” he whispered to Alex. “I’m still your Daddy, I’m just his Daddy, too.”

Aubie looked at Alex and giggled, reaching for his face. Alex pouted a bit, leaning his head on Eric’s shoulder, but he reached out and touched Aubie’s hand. “Dat nah Awegs.”

“No, that’s not Alex. You are Alex. This is Auberon. Alex has a little brother named Auberon,” Eric spoke softly and held the two close to his chest and close to each other. Aubie patted Alex’s cheek, which prompted Alex to pat his own cheek, then pat Aubie’s. Sookie was holding her breath, afraid Alex would slap at him, but he didn’t. Out of nowhere, the kitten jumped up on the tray of the high chair and meowed. Alex looked to the side and said, “MA giddy!”

“Yes, that’s your kitty. Auberon is too small for a kitty cat. That’s for bigger boys like Alex,” Eric was still speaking softly as everyone watched, motionless.

“Oday, ahm biggah bo-ee.”

“Right, you’re a bigger boy. Auberon is just a baby, you’re a bigger boy.”

“Ee-ah. Dat?” Alex pointed to the other baby.

“His name is Auberon. Mommy calls him Aubie.”

“Obee?” Alex pointed at him then chewed on his own finger for a minute, everyone practically able to see the wheels in Alex’s head turning.

“That’s really good, Alex!” Sookie said, thinking he was catching on. “That’s your buddy, Aubie!”

“Buggy Obee.”

“Yes, that’s good Alex. That’s your brother, Auberon,” Eric repeated.

“OBEE!” Alex giggled and touched the other baby’s face with his wet finger.

“Right,” Eric kissed Alex’s forehead and Alex looked at him and patted his cheek, “ma Dadee?”

“Yes, I’m always going to be your Daddy, Alex, and Aubie’s Daddy, too.”

“Oday.”

Auberon started to whimper and reach for Sookie.

“I think he’s hungry,” Sookie said, taking him from Eric and putting him to her breast. While she did that, Eric held Alex up over his head and shook him, making animal noises that caused him to giggle and squeal. “Now, my son, you will have your dinner, then we will go flying!”

“FYEEN!”

“Right.” Eric set him back in the high chair and Margaret put his dinner in front of him. “Eat first, then flying.”

“Oday!”

“What are we having, Margaret?” Eric laughed.

“Chopped chicken, potatoes and gravy, dressing, pureed green beans and we have watermelon for dessert.”

“Ooh, yummy, Alex!” Sookie said to him, stroking his little cheek with the backs of her fingers, then going back to looking Aubie in the eye as he fed.

Everyone finally relaxed and dinner conversation progressed, Jerry and Bjorn giving Eric bits of information he asked for as he fed Alex. Carrie warmed up two bottles of RM, one small and one big, and brought them to Sookie and Eric. Alex was able to hold the big bottle himself and Sookie held the little one for Aubie until Amelia finished her dinner and took him from her so she could concentrate on eating.

“Boy, Bobbie’s going to have some surprises when she gets back!” Amelia said, rocking a bit to soothe Aubie. “Maybe it will cheer her up?”

“How’s her mom doing?” Sookie asked.

“Not well. They’re pretty sure it’s just a matter of time.”

“Poor Bobbie! I should call her after dinner,” Sookie said.

“It would probably be better to wait for her to call at 11 tonight. She’s at the hospital and we don’t want to wake anyone up,” Amelia reminded her.

“Good point. I’ll do that.”

Octavia wasn’t in a talkative mood tonight, so she focused on watching Eric and Sookie handle the two babies. There might be some rough patches, but she thought Eric laid a good foundation. All they needed to do was reinforce it.

“Alicia and Margaret, I’m sorry there’s more work for you all now!” Sookie said as Alicia brought more potatoes to the table.

“Actually,” Alicia said, “we’re going to have more help. Carrie will be working full time now and her cousin Lena will come in Fridays and Saturdays to help clean the upper floors.”

“So, is that, like, a promotion for you, Carrie?” Sookie asked.

“Yes, ma’am, it sure is. A lot more money, too, and I’m happy to have it.” She put a big platter of chicken on the table.

“Oh, good for you!”

“Yeah, I’ll be doing laundry most days plus dusting and running the sweeper, then keeping the bathrooms tidy. Margaret is going to focus on feeding everybody, with our help, of course, and then Alicia will keep doing your personal stuff, and Lena and me’ll do the upper floors every weekend. We got it all worked out.”

“Oh, that’s great. You and Lena did such a good job last time!”

“Thanks, Mrs. Northman,” Carrie smiled at her. Carrie loved this job – the house was gorgeous, there were good-looking men around all day, and nobody in this neighborhood paid anywhere near as good as Mr. Northman. She knew that there was always danger around Vampires, but the benefits were totally worth it.

“Alicia, what do we have to do to adapt things for two babies?” Eric asked.

“Well, not too much, really, at least not at this stage. Alex is almost too big for the co-sleeper, so we can put him in the bed or in his crib and we’ll put Aubie in the little crib.”

“Better to put Alex in bed with me – I know Dr. Ludwig wants him to stay close a while longer,” Sookie recalled. “It’s much safer for him than Aubie, although that little rascal can roll over and hold his head up now,” she beamed at him as Amelia held him.

“He can?” Eric was pleased to hear that.

“Yeah, he’s more advanced than a human baby, just not as extremely advanced as Alex,” Sookie explained.

“That is good news,” Eric was happy to know both sons were exceptional.

“We’ll be in the pantry if you all need us,” Alicia excused herself, Margaret and Carrie, who would eat at the table in there.

“Now, Sookie, can you tell me how all of this came about?” Eric asked.

Sookie gave him a quick rundown of the dream about Niall’s visit, her talk with Ludwig and how she went into a trance while she was in the pool.

“Niall actually planned to keep the child in spite of our wishes, knowing there was no reason he couldn’t be with us?” Eric hated that old fucking Faerie more every day.

“Yep, he thought one baby was enough for us,” Sookie said, dripping with sarcasm.

“I have two words to say about that, but I shouldn’t use them in front of the babies,” Eric said angrily.

“Yeah, that was pretty much my reaction, too,” Sookie agreed. “I don’t care how this affects his political goals. Both our kids are with us and, by Goddess, that’s where they’re going to stay.”

“Especially since they’re safer here. That’s the part that gets me,” Octavia said, “he knew that baby was in danger and kept him there, anyway.”

“Oh, yeah – Freyja told me others will try in the future and never to leave Aubie alone.”

“Sound advice, but we’d not do that, anyway,” Eric nodded, “Bjorn, do you have any experience fighting the Fae?”

“No, I really don’t.”

“I’ve got some,” Jerry said.

“Indeed?” Eric was surprised.

“Yeah, I worked for a Vampire King in Florida about 5 years ago and he had constant trouble over some kind of diamond smuggling thing he got into with some Fae named Liam.”

“Liam Cullach?” Sookie said.

“Yeah, that’s him. He’s a greedy MF and that King said he’s been after the Faerie throne for years. At that time, he had tried to overthrow the “crown,” what or whoever that was, three times in 59 years.”

“That would be Niall,” Octavia said, “he’s been in charge since Titania was murdered in 1927.”

“That was just a few years before the war between the Fae and the Vampires,” Eric recalled.

“It’s all connected. I’m pretty sure that Liam was in cahoots with the Vamps, trying to overthrow Niall. What resulted was…”

“A blood bath,” Eric finished Octavia’s sentence.

“Right. Niall has good reason not to trust Vampires. They should have stayed out of it. The Vampires lost a lot of people because Niall doesn’t take prisoners. He staked every Vamp he could find back then. The détente that exists now was negotiated by Carolina of Gotham and some of the European royals who stayed out of it. As a matter of fact, it was those negotiations that put Sophie Ann in power. Some said André was on Liam’s payroll, but it was never proven.”

“I’m glad he’s dead,” Sookie said with a shudder.

Eric didn’t mention that if not for André, they might not have bonded, but Sookie responded, anyway, “Yes, we would have, Eric, we were meant to be.”

“You are right, of course.”

“So, if Alex is supposed to be Vampire King, and he wanted Aubie to be Faerie – King or Prince?”

“Good question. My guess is “Prince,” Octavia said, “Technically, the crown only goes through the female line, but the word is that Titania left a declaration of who her successor should be. The name has never been released, to my knowledge, and Niall always puts off the question by declaring she’s not old enough to rule, but they say he needs to pass the crown by 2027.”

“Why?” Sookie asked

“There’s sort of a term limit for a Fae regent. Niall can only hold the throne for 100 years, then either the True Heir or someone in the line of succession has to step in or the whole thing goes to whoever can take it.”

“But Aubie can’t be in the direct line of succession…”

“That depends,” Octavia told her.

“On what?”

“On who Titania named as successor. No one will know who the True Heir is until 2027.”

“When Niall has no choice but to release the name?”

“Yes, and he’ll try to put someone he can control in that spot.”

“And he thought that would be Aubie?”

“He probably thought Aubie was his best bet as long as he could raise him.”

“But wouldn’t that mean that Claude or Claudine would be in line?”

“Not if they were specifically passed over. How old are they?”

“A lot older than they look is all that I know.”

“How does Niall’s line tie into yours, Sookie?”

“His son, Fintan, had two kids with my Grandmother – my aunt and my father.”

“Did your aunt have any kids?”

“My cousin Hadley, but she’s dead.”

“So Fintan’s only other living heirs are you and Jason?”

“Yeah, as far as I know… You don’t think…”

“That Titania left the crown to you? That’s the only logical conclusion.”

“But she died in 1927. I wasn’t even born…”

“But you were promised to Eric hundreds of years ago, weren’t you?”

“You think that’s part of Freyja’s plan?”

“I don’t know, but consider it for a minute – a Vampire King marries a Faerie Queen, they have two sons – one Vampire, one Fae. One ruler for each world, in the same family. Twins aren’t likely to wage war against each other if they’re raised together.”

“So Niall would keep them apart…” Sookie was following her line of reasoning.

“So they wouldn’t have feelings for each other.”

“But wait, there’s supposed to be a girl, too…”

“A true hybrid to rule them both from the Council, maybe? That’s assuming you and Eric pass up the position. But then, you and the girl are destined for the Pantheon as Freyja’s triune aspects, right?” Octavia was thinking out loud.

“That’s what Alex said…”

“Alex doesn’t get much wrong, does he?” Octavia asked her. “So, if I was a gambler, my money would say, you and the girl on the Pantheon, Eric on the Council and Alex and Auberon each in charge of one realm.”

“But I am only King of two territories.”

“For now. Don’t think I don’t hear the rumblings, Vampire, they reach us Witches, too.”

“What rumblings?” Sookie wanted to know

“All the regents, in the Americas, at least, united under one King,” Octavia told her.

“I’ve heard that, too,” Jerry said.

“Yep, me too,” Bjorn nodded.

“Don’t even try to tell me you don’t know they’re lining up behind you, Eric,” Octavia told him.

“HUH?” Sookie knew nothing about this.

“You want to tell her, or you want me to spill the rumor?” Octavia asked.

“I’d like to hear the rumor,” Eric told her.

“The rumor is that you’re putting together the first Vampire standing army because there’s a serious, military-style threat. You’re preparing for war against human zealots and all the regents in this country, and possibly beyond, are lining up behind you.”

“Interesting,” Eric said as he fed watermelon to Alex.

“Dat, Dadee?”

“Watermelon,” Eric coached the baby, trying to ignore that everyone at the table was staring at him.

“Wadamewon.”

“Very good, Alex!”

“ERIC?”

“Sookie, you knew there was a new threat.”

“That’s big, though.”

“Yes, but we are preparing for it.”

“How big is it going to get?”

“Just a little bigger than they want to make it.”

“So, if they’re an 8 on the Richter scale…”

“We’ll be an 11.”

“Bjorn, did you know about this?” Sookie demanded

“Yes, ma’am.”

“And you’re going along with it?”

“I can be a part of the machine, or I can get my ass run over by the machine, so, yeah, I’m on board.”

“Exactly,” Jerry laughed.

“What’s in it for the Weres?” Sookie asked.

“Freedom. Eric won’t fuck with us if we don’t fuck with him. That’s all we want. We’ve always been mercenaries, now we’ve got a mercenary army to fight. We get paid, we get left alone. That’s more than the humans are willing to do for us.”

“And Eric is a good King,” Jerry added, “We’d all much rather negotiate with him than anybody else likely to step forward. When you know what the options are, the choice is pretty clear.”

“Wait a minute – what about the Council?” Sookie was still trying to understand how the power structure worked.

“You think the Ancient Pythoness takes sides in regional skirmishes?” Octavia asked her

“So She’s backing your play?” Sookie asked Eric.

“From the start. They knew what I would do before I knew it myself.”

“Are there Supe forces against you?”

“Of course. Liam, for one, but there are a few gods and a few Council members that think we should kowtow to the humans or who object to Freyja’s moving back up the hierarchy. Niall is only on my side because he has no choice and I’ll never be able to turn my back on him.”

“And all of this was put in place before I was even born?”

“Yes.” “Yes.” Eric and Octavia spoke at once.

“What about Aubie being left in Elfyria?”

“That was apparently a miscalculation that Niall tried to turn to his advantage. Think about this, Sookie – he thought to set my sons at war with one another.” Eric was letting Sookie know in no uncertain terms that Niall had exhausted the good will that might be afforded him through their familial connection.

“Anybody need anything?” Alicia came back into the kitchen.

“No, thanks, Alicia!” Sookie said since no one else asked for anything, and everyone else called out thanks to all the maids who were beginning to gather up dishes.

They were all about to move outside for Alex’s flying time when Bjorn’s phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Anderson? This is Dr. Ludwig. Is King Eric or Queen Sookie available, please?”

“Yes, just a moment,” he looked at Eric, “It’s Dr. Ludwig.”

“Yes, Dr.?”

“Please tell me you have a new addition to your family?”

“Yes, Auberon is with us now.”

“Alright, I’ll need to come check him out. I’ll meet you in the den.”

“Sookie, take Aubie into the den to meet with the doctor.”

“You’re coming, too, right?”

“I promised Alex to take him flying after he ate. You know more about the situation than I do, so there’s no real need for me to break my promise.”

“Good point. OK, we’ll be out in a bit.”

“Thank you. Come, Alex, let’s go flying.”

“FYEEN! FYEEN!”

Eric and Alex went out the back door with the rest of the group following and Sookie took Aubie into the den, where the little doctor was laughing. “That one loves to fly, I see?”

“Oh, yeah, he’s always wanting to fly these days,” Sookie laughed as she sat on the couch and held Aubie so the doctor could look him over.

Ludwig looked in the baby’s ears and at his eyes, then she checked out his nails and ran her thumb up the sole of each foot to check his reflexes in his feet. She put her hand on his breastbone and concentrated, then she said, “well, he seems none the worse for wear. Niall is furious, you know?”

“Niall had no business keeping my baby from me. Besides, it happened just like you said – there was no choice. They were trying to kill him!”

“Who’s “they?””

“Two assassins that Liam sent. They cut the Fae woman’s head off and were going to do the same to Aubie, but Freyja told me to take him and I did. Then they were talking about cutting some other poor baby’s head off, so I sent the falcon after them.”

“The falcon? You can call it?”

“Yeah, I was watching in my vanity mirror and when they said that about killing a baby I just said “take them” and black birds filled the room and tore them to pieces.”

“Are you telling me that you weren’t even in the room with them at the time?”

“Well, yeah. I popped in just long enough to grab Aubie, then I was watching on my mirror and when I heard them planning to cut off a baby’s head, I just lost it and sicced it, or them, or whatever, on them.”

“That explains why Niall didn’t want me to come to Siobhan’s house. He’s probably still cleaning up the evidence.”

“Would you have done anything different?”

“No, I’d say you did what you should have done. It puts a serious crimp in Niall’s plan, but from what I’ve gleaned of it, it needed to be crimped.”

“He was planning to raise Aubie so he’d go to war with Alex!”

“That’s what I thought he was up to, as well, but I couldn’t be sure. How did you know about the attack?”

“I think Freyja showed me. One minute I was in the pool, then I saw the woman scream and Aubie cry and the next thing I know I’m in front of my mirror and Freyja is yelling “now Sookie!” and I called him. Then I was in the room, I grabbed him, I was back in front of my mirror and then I called the falcon.”

“It’s remarkable you were able to do that across the worlds. That makes you very powerful, indeed, my little Goddess. You probably had extra juice from seeing your child in danger, but that’s still quite a feat.”

“All I know is I’ve got my baby and I’m keeping him. Niall can kiss my ass.”

“I wouldn’t say that to his face, but I agree with the sentiment. Your household doesn’t seem in any upheaval.”

“Everybody seems cool with it. We’re going to have a little more help, but nobody is upset about another baby. Alex is even handling it better than we expected. He’s more interested in his kitty.”

“Knock, knock!” Amelia was at the door.

“Amelia, you remember Dr. Ludwig?”

“Yes, hello, Doctor. I just remembered something from this morning I thought I should tell you both.”

“What’s that?” the doctor asked.

“The kitten’s name is apparently “Erin.””

“ERIN?” Sookie said.

“Yes, why?”

“I’m pretty sure that was Eric’s mother’s name.”

“Interesting,” Ludwig said, “she was Fae, yes?”

“Yeah, she was.”

“That might actually be she, you know?”

“Huh?”

“I told you it’s a Pooka. That’s a kind of Faerie that takes different shapes. What did she look like?”

“Eric says she looked like me.”

“That might have been a projection of you. They aren’t tied to time or space, you know?”

“Holy shit, Sookie!” Amelia loved this stuff.

“That doesn’t mean I’m Eric’s mom, right?”

“No, just that her spirit chose a form she knew he would love.”

“OK, ’cause I’ve heard enough weirdness for today.”

“That was mostly speculation earlier, Sookie, don’t let it weird you out,” Amelia reminded her.

“Dr. Ludwig, do you know who Titania’s “True Heir” is?”

“Let’s take one crisis at a time, Sookie. For now, you have your children. Just enjoy them and let King Eric do what he has to.”

“Great.”

“Relax and enjoy as much of it as you can, Sookie.” The little doctor was very serious. “I’m going to have to pull some very powerful strings to keep Niall from coming after that baby. Don’t leave him alone.”

“I won’t. One of us will be with him every minute.”

“Have you still got those Faerie crosses?”

“Some of them.”

“Write Niall’s name on a piece of paper three times, no breaks, don’t dot any I’s or cross any T’s. Wrap it around one of the stones, tie it with a red string and bury it in front of your front door.”

“I hope I can remember that…”

“I can remember it, Sookie, it’s a simple spell,” Amelia told her.

“Do it now, tonight, before he figures out how to get in here. I think Freyja’s got a block on you but there’s no telling how long it will last.”

“OK, we’ll do it now,” Sookie assured her.

“Alright, call me if you need me.” The little doctor popped out of the room.

“Come on, Sookie, we don’t want to wait on this.”

“Alright, I guess there’s paper in my office.”

“I’ll ask Octavia if she has her string down here.”

“Her string?”

“Yeah, we both keep red and green string on us, but mine is on the fourth floor. Octavia might have some in her pocket.”

“You’re kidding?”

“Nope, hang on,” Amelia went back out the door and came back with red string.

“You’re joking?”

“No, honey, Witches’ Ladders are easy, effective magick. It’s no different than a Catholic carrying a rosary, really.”

“OK, let’s get the paper,” Sookie said, leading the way to the office, still carrying the baby.

“I’ll be right there,” Amelia said, going back into the kitchen.

Sookie found a pad of paper and wrote and remembered not to finish the I’s or the T’s. Amelia came in with a case knife.

“What’s that for?”

“Digging. Got the stone?”

“No, hang on to the baby.” Sookie gave Aubie to Amelia then held out her hands, said “come to me!” and she held one of the Faerie stones. She wrapped it in the paper, Amelia showed her to tie the string in a cross, and Sookie waited inside the door with the baby while Amelia took the stone in front of the front door and buried it there, keeping the sod in one piece so she could stomp it down and hide where the ground was broken.

“What’s that supposed to do, exactly?”

“It will keep Niall from darkening your door, at least for a while. The stone won’t let him cross the threshold.”

“Does that matter if he can teleport?”

“Yes, symbolically, anyway. Magick is heavily symbolic.”

“Right.” Sookie sat down on the couch in the living room and Amelia sat with her.

“Ludwig seemed to think Freyja was keeping him away, but she wanted something more “fixed,”” Amelia explained.

“Do you think Niall would actually swoop in here and take my child?”

“Dr. Ludwig apparently thinks he would.”

“If he tries to take my baby, Amelia, I swear to Goddess, I’ll kill him.”

“You know, Sookie, you need to be careful about saying things you don’t mean…”

“I mean it. If Niall tries to take this child, or harm either of my kids in any way, he’s going to meet that fucking falcon and I’ve never been more serious in my life.”

“That might have far reaching consequences, Sookie.”

“What – in Elfyria? They’ve been at this war for all these years for what? It’s like the Middle East, Amelia, they don’t even really know why they’re fighting, they just do. One warlord is as bad as another.”

“Maybe that’s why Aubie needs to grow up and take over?”

“Well, if he does, it will be HIS way, not Niall’s. That son of a bitch is done in my life. Eric was right about him all along. Liam’s ass may not be long for this world or that one, either. I’m taking Eric’s position – threaten my nest and die.”

“Now, that’s what I like to hear!” Eric laughed as he came through the house with Alex on his shoulder, the kitten following at his heels.

“Woogie, Mamee, Dadee fyeen me!”

“I see that! Did you have fun flying with Daddy?”

“Eeah, fyeen eye-er an eye-er!”

“He likes to go very high,” Eric confirmed.

“OK, I’m just not going to think about that,” Sookie tried to laugh as she shifted Aubie up to her shoulder.

“Obee nah fy!”

“No, Aubie can’t fly yet,” Eric told him. “He’s too little.”

“Doo widdow?”

“Yes, you can fly because you’re a bigger boy.”

“Ahm a biggah bo-ee!”

“Right. Amelia, Jerry said to tell you he’ll be upstairs in a bit if you want to go on up, but of course, that’s only if you want to.”

“I was actually thinking about watching some TV in the den if you guys are going to bed. I like hanging out in there.”

“Alright, feel free. I do think we need to go up for some family time.”

“That sounds good to me. This has been an eventful day,” Sookie laughed at herself for understating the case.

“Alright, let’s go up,” Eric said. “Have a good evening, Amelia, I don’t know if I’ll be back before sun-up or not.”

“You guys have a good night.”

“Thanks,” Sookie said as Eric guided her back toward the stairs, each of them carrying one baby.

“Do you want me to take Auberon from you, Sookie?” Eric asked as they reached the stairs.

“No, he’s not heavy at all next to Alex. I hadn’t realized how much Alex has grown already!”

“Yes, but the size is the only visible difference. They’re both very beautiful,” Eric said proudly.

“Yes, they are. That white hair and those big eyes and those big old smiles just make me melt,” Sookie laughed. “I know I’m their Mommy and biased and all that, but they’re just the most gorgeous things I’ve ever seen.”

“Meow!” The kitten came bounding up the stairs after them.

“Did you lose your master, kitten?” Eric laughed. “She must have missed us coming in the back door.”

“Ah, Ewin!” Alex waved to the kitten over Eric’s shoulder.

“That reminds me,” Sookie said as they reached the third floor, “Amelia says that the kitten’s name is Erin.”

“Erin?”

“That’s what Amelia said, and that’s what Alex just called her.”

“That was my mother’s name,” Eric said as Sookie walked across the bed on her knees with Aubie.

“Yep – Dr. Ludwig said that might actually be your mother,” she told him as she sat on her side of the bed.

“This is a joke?” Eric said as he sat beside her and sat Alex in between them. The cat jumped up after them and walked between their legs to rub against Alex.

“No, not a joke.” Sookie told him as he kicked his boots off, “That’s what she said. She thinks it’s a pooka, and they shape shift, and it might have taken the form of your mother, which could have been a projection of me because they aren’t tied to “time/space” whatever.”

“Alex – who is that?” Eric pointed to the kitten.

“Dat Ewin,” he said as if he couldn’t believe Daddy had to ask.

“See?” Sookie said, settling Aubie in between them near the pillows since Alex was sitting up a little lower facing them, the kitten prancing around and rubbing against him as he giggled.

“Yes, I do. I have to think about this.”

“While you’re thinking, think about this – what are the odds of the three of them ever being asleep at the same time?”

“The cat can be put out of the room for a while, if need be, and Alex and Auberon will have similar schedules, won’t they?”

“I don’t know. We can work on that, I guess.”

“Should we move a crib in here for a while?”

“No, I think Ludwig wants Alex kept close, and I assume the same goes for Aubie, since he’s playing catch-up. Alex will sleep in the bed, Aubie in the co-sleeper, and you and I will deal, somehow.”

“We can always have sex in the tub,” he leaned forward and kissed her, “Or on the floor,” he kissed her again as Aubie gurgled and reached up toward their faces.

“Or at Fangtasia,” she laughed, “with them in the other room?” Sookie joked as she played with Aubie’s hand.

“Right, and Bjorn…”

“What – in the room with them?”

“Wherever – in the room, at the top of the stairs, in the bed with us,” he laughed.

“Yeah, right,” Sookie laughed it off but she wasn’t sure he wasn’t serious. Would she want that? Suddenly she got a hot, flashing image of being pressed between Eric and Bjorn…

“Sookie?”

“Huh?”

“You got lost in your thoughts for a minute. Are you alright?” Eric asked innocently. He knew what she was thinking and wanted those thoughts to stew a bit.

“Yeah, I was just thinking about what you said about a crib. I wonder how old they’ll be before we’ll leave them in a room alone?”

“That would not be advisable for quite some time, I believe,” Eric was smiling as Alex discovered Aubie’s feet, touching them and making them kick a little.

“Yeah, they’ll be pretty big, I guess.”

“At least old enough to protect themselves.”

“How old would that be?” Sookie asked laughing as there were suddenly two kittens wrestling on the bed, as Eric just shook his head and laughed.

“I don’t know – whenever they would know that if a stranger took them, they should teleport back to Mommy.”

“Mmmaa!” Aubie said and giggled, proud of himself as he played with his toes, aware of them because Alex had tickled them, and because the kittens were now tumbling into them.

“That’s good Sweetie!” Sookie kissed Aubie and patted his tummy then looked at Eric, “Amelia and I just buried a little spell in front of the front door to try to keep Niall out of here.”

“Something the doctor suggested?”

“Yes, she thinks Freyja is blocking him for now, but Amelia said she probably wanted something more permanent.”

“Is that who you were talking about when you said “threaten my nest and die?””

“Yeah, among others – that Liam character, Niall, anyone who tries to hurt us. I told Amelia, and I absolutely mean this, if Niall tries to take this child, I’ll call that falcon down so fast he won’t know what hit him.”

“Niall is very powerful, Sookie, so think it through before you go to war with him. Your powers are new, and he is very old and skilled.”

“I’m going to get better than he is, then. Nobody is threatening my kids.”

“Are you going to shift tonight?”

“There’s no moon tonight, is there?”

“Just a tiny crescent. Tuesday is the Dark Moon, you know.”

“Yeah, we’ll need to keep an eye on both of the boys that day. Dr. Ludwig didn’t know what we should expect.”

“We don’t even know if the warning applies to both of them or not, do we?”

“No, that’s right. Loup-Garou – is that his name?”

“Yes.”

“OK, he was talking about Alex at that point. I don’t know if the same things apply to Aubie or not.”

“You should have Octavia read cards about it.”

“Good idea. I’ll ask her tomorrow. Hey, does Aubie smell like Fae or Vampire?”

“I can’t perceive any difference between him and Alex, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one. We need another Vampire to smell him.”

“Pam, maybe?”

“Yes, I’d trust her more than anyone. Tomorrow is Monday – Fangtasia is closed and I had planned to meet her there briefly to go over some paperwork. Why don’t we take the boys, let Pam meet Auberon, then after we finish our work, we can enjoy the downstairs?”

“OK – why not? We’ll have guards all around and nobody will know ahead of time, right?”

“Right.”

“And there won’t be any other people there?”

“Correct.”

“Hmm – I like that idea. Leaving them in the other room isn’t the same as leaving Aubie alone, is it?”

“Ask Amelia to sit with them if you want.”

“Ask Amelia to sit in the little room with the kids while we…”

“I’ll pay her handsomely.”

“She’s rich, Eric, that’s not the point.”

“Why would she care?”

“She might be kind bored in there.”

“There’s a flat-screen TV in the room, with satellite.”

“Since when?”

“Since I realized we might need a sitter in there with the baby so we could play,”

he wiggled his eyebrows at her.

Sookie cracked up. “I’ll ask her, but no promises if she says ‘no.'”

“We’ll work something out, so plan on us all going to Fangtasia when I get up.”

“Yum!” She reached over and kissed him, which made Aubie giggle with delight.

Eric and Sookie were laughing at how cute that was, and Alex and Erin were bouncing on and off the bed chasing each other, when Amelia called, “anybody awake up there?”

“Come on up, Amelia,” Eric told her.

“Hey, sorry to interrupt, but Bobbie’s on the phone. Did you want to talk to her, Sookie?”

“Yeah, I did. Hang on…” she crawled toward the end of the bed carefully, trying not to get in the way of the kittens or get anyone hurt.

“Wow, it’s chaos in here!” Amelia laughed.

“We have a request, Amelia,” Eric started,

“Eric!”

“Talk to Bobbie while I talk to Amelia,” Eric teased her and shooed her away. Sookie took the little phone from Amelia and stepped out into the hallway.

“What’s up, Eric?”

“Sookie and I need a trip to Fangtasia, but as you know, she’s unable to leave Aubie alone…”

“As in leaving the two of them in that backroom she told me about?”

“Right, so…”

“You want me to sit with them while you two get your freak on?”

“There’s Direct TV in there, and snacks,”

Amelia cracked up. “I’ll take some toys to keep them occupied in case they won’t sleep. Sure, I’ll do it.”

“I’ll pay you…”

“That’s not necessary. You’re going out of your way for me, I’m more than happy to help out.”

“OK, Sweetie, you take your time. We miss you and we love you!” Sookie came back in and Amelia took the phone and said goodnight again.

“How is Bobbie?” Eric asked as she crawled back onto the bed.

“She’s sad, which is to be expected, I guess. They don’t think it will be much longer.”

“That is very sad.” Eric could feel the turmoil Sookie was trying to repress.

“Yeah, it is. That’s why we need to appreciate our families when we have them. You never know…” Sookie started to tear up.

“Come here, Sookie,” Eric picked Aubie up and put him in his right arm so Sookie could snuggle up on his left. He kissed her head and held her close, and she cried into his shirt as the baby gurgled and put his hand in her hair. Alex came back up on the bed and shifted to himself, crawling up onto Sookie’s lap. The cat jumped on the end of the bed and lay down.

“I’m sorry, Eric I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

“Don’t apologize, Sookie, you’ve had a traumatic day. Your nerves are just catching up to you, and you’re worried about Bobbie…”

“And it reminds me of my mama and daddy, and Gran…”

“And Niall,” he kissed her hair as she really broke down. Eric let her cry it out, the two of them snuggling the boys close and both babies instinctively clinging to them.

“Oday, Mamee?”

“Yeah, Sweetie, I’m OK, I’m just a little sad,” she kissed Alex and he tried to push up to a standing position so he could hug her, so she helped him lean on her and let him wrap his little arms around her neck. Aubie was reaching for her, too and she kissed his hand. Eric was pouring all the love and comfort into the bond that he could and to their surprise, so did Alex and Aubie. Sookie stopped crying for a second and said, “Eric, do you feel that?”

“Yes, I do. He’s part of the bond.”

“It’s not as strong as Alex but it’s definitely there!”

“This is amazing – it makes him much safer if we can feel him!” Eric was really happy about this and gave Aubie a big kiss. It solved several problems – it made Aubie safer, it meant there wouldn’t be jealousy because they were closer to Alex than with him, it would help them know if something was wrong with him if they weren’t physically right with him.

Sookie wiped her eyes, “I’ll bet it gets stronger over the next week or so as I feed him. I knew my feeding him was bringing out more strengths in him!”

“There, you see, my Angel it’s not all sadness – some good is coming from it all.”

“You know, when I saw Niall talking to that Fae woman, he said that eventually Aubie should have the same abilities as Alex.”

“That’s wonderful, Sookie!”

“Yeah, it is. Who knows, maybe he won’t be much smaller, either, now that I’m feeding him.”

“Undwy, Mamee!” Alex patted Sookie’s breast.

“OK, Alex, here we go.” She put him in position and Aubie reached for her, too.

“Can you handle two of them?” Eric asked with serious concern.

“Yep, I can handle it. They pretty much know what to do. I just need to find the best way to hold them.”

Eric helped her get settled with the boys, which took a little juggling, but they each found a comfortable position. Sookie found that if she sat “Indian style” with a baby sitting on each leg, they could reach easily enough.

“It’s good that your breasts are so large, Sookie, they don’t have to stretch – the boys, I mean,” Eric teased her.

“Oh, you think this is funny, huh?”

“No, Sweetheart, I think it is precious,” he stroked her cheek and Aubie giggled against her.

“He likes it when we kiss or show affection,” Sookie observed.

“He has never seen it before, has he?”

“No, I guess he hasn’t. He’s missed out on a lot…” Sookie was on the verge of tears again.

“He’s home now, Sookie, what’s passed is past. Just love him – that can make up for anything. See how happy he is?”

She smiled down at Aubie. “Yeah, he is. Look at Alex holding his hand! Good boy, Alex, being sweet to Buddy!”

Alex pulled away and said, “Obee undwy.”

“Yeah, Aubie’s hungry, too.”

“Obeeth undwy, doo!”

“Yeah, he is!”

Eric was about to burst, watching Sookie coo at the babies as they suckled, both of them looking at her with big eyes as she stroked their little backs and heads. There was no fighting, which surprised him, and it almost seemed as if Alex was making sure Auberon got to eat, too. ‘This’ he told himself, ‘is bliss.’

Alex yawned first, and pulled away, so Eric took him and held him while he fell asleep. Aubie fed quite a bit longer, which surprised Sookie, but Eric said “he’s making up for lost time. He never tasted anything so sweet.”

“Yeah, I can feel how much he loves it.”

“That’s my boy,” Eric said, teasing her and she laughed softly.

“Yes, he is. Just like his daddy. Yes, you are! You’re just like your daddy!”

Aubie’s eyes sparkled and danced as she spoke to him. He certainly took that after Eric. Their energy was different, but their eyes couldn’t be more alike. Sookie let out a big yawn and Eric said, “time for everyone to sleep.”

“But I want to spend time with you!”

“You’ll be awake again in a few hours, Sookie, and we will spend time together, then.

You are still on vacation and supposed to rest when you are tired. Feeding two babies is a lot of work.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“It won’t always be this way, Sookie, don’t worry.”

“Yeah, I keep telling myself that, and I know they’ll only be small for a short time, I’m just tired and I need attention.”

“You mean sex?”

“That, too, but no, I just miss having all the time we used to have together. I used to get to spend the whole night with you.”

“And you will again when the boys are sleeping through the night.”

“Yeah, that’s right. Alex only wakes up twice now, right?”

“Yes, it’s midnight now, and he’ll wake up again around four. He missed his after-dinner nap tonight.”

“That’s right, he did. He might wake up earlier or sleep later, or who knows what?”

“I’ll be available to him until almost sunrise, and Jerry will begin watching you at 6:00, then Bjorn will be here at 10:30 now.”

“Jerry’s coming in early?”

“Yes, he and Bjorn talked about it while I was flying with Alex and they decided you should not be alone while you sleep. Someone needs to be aware in case there is trouble. We should have been doing this all along, anyway.”

“Jerry will have to come in so early!”

“Jerry is already here. He stayed with Amelia and the plan is for him to move into the chalet with her, as well. That will make him more available to fill in around Bjorn and he will get to spend more time with Amelia.”

“Oh, good! That’s a great idea!”

“We’re going to increase the guards on duty, as well, since there’s a specific threat.”

“How much good will that do, if the threat is from Fae?”

“We’re making some changes in how they are armed and we’ll be adding some special help to every shift in the form of daemon security.”

“Really?”

“Yes, and it may be time for us to seriously consider a daemon nanny.”

“I’d rather not, unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

“Alright, well, we’ll see how it goes with the added security. I do want you to think about it, though, Sookie. If someone were to teleport in and take Auberon, a daemon could go after him immediately.”

“So could I, though, like I did before.”

“What if you were asleep?”

“I won’t always need sleep, Eric, you know that.”

“Alright, then, try this – ask Freyja about it.”

“That’s not a bad idea!”

“Alright, when will you do that?”

“As soon as they’re asleep.”

“I’ll stay here with them, then, just in case.”

“Yeah, in case I disappear.”

“Exactly.” Eric looked at Alex, who was snuggled with his head on his shoulder, “he’s asleep. How’s Auberon?”

“Nearly there. He’s not sucking as hard. He’ll be out in no time.”

“Alright, when he’s ready, put him in the co-sleeper and go to your circle…”

“Mirror – I’ll do it in here.”

“Alright, then, go to your mirror and I’ll lie here with the boys until you are done.”

“OK, he’s out.” Sookie put Auberon in the co-sleeper and crawled off the end of the bed. Eric put Alex down next to Aubie and noticed that their little hands moved so they were touching. He gently got up and got Sookie’s journal while she was in the bathroom and made notes about the events of the day, trying to put in all the detail Sookie had given him. She came out and sat in front of her vanity, taking three slow, deep breaths and looking at the mirror.

“Freyja, speak to me.”

Eric watched, but Sookie sat quietly, motionless. He had a feeling she was with Freyja on some level, but not in the physical space he was watching. He made note that it was 12:23 and went into down time.

Sookie saw Freyja’s face before her. “Hello, My Angel.”

“Freyja – thank you so much for helping me get Eric Auberon in time today.”

“We could not let harm come to Our child, could We?”

“No, We couldn’t. What do I need to do to keep him safe?”

“You need to confront Niall so he is no longer a threat. He fears Me, but he doesn’t fear You yet. He needs to know that You know We are One and the Same.”

“Do I have Your powers yet?”

“You will have what You need when You need it for now, but eventually, they will be Your own. Always drink of the bottle before sunrise.”

“I will. What about Liam?”

“Do what You know You must, just as Our husband will do what is necessary.”

“I have to kill him.”

“You have to safeguard Our child. Liam has committed a Blood Offense against the Goddess and Her child.”

“I can’t use the falcon for this, can I?”

“You do not need the Falcon, You need Your faith in Whom You Are.”

“I understand.” Sookie saw very clearly what she was supposed to do.

She took a deep breath as Freyja disappeared. She was in her room, the babies were asleep, Eric lying next to them.

“Eric, are you awake?”

He came out of downtime, “Yes – did you see Her?”

“Yes, I did. I have something I have to do before sunrise. Stay here and I’ll be back, alright?”

“Yes, of course.”

Sookie was gone. Eric could feel her in the bond and she was determined in a way he had only felt once before – when she first found out about Eric Auberon. He followed her emotions as he lay there with the boys, sending her courage.

Sookie went to the gym first and called the katana off the wall. She swung it a few times the way Eric had shown her. When she was ready, she looked in the mirror, nodded, and pointed the sword at the floor. She traced a circle thrice around and when the light from the third circle tied into the first, she was in a room full of books, weapons and suits of armor. Liam Cullach, a gnarly, red-faced, red-haired Fae man, sprang out of his chair. “Who…!’

Before he could finish, Sookie, as if in a trance and faster than lightening, struck his head from his shoulders. Blood sprayed everywhere, covering the short lavender nightie she was still wearing. She had blood in her hair, on her face, her arms and legs as she picked up the head, which had rolled toward the window, by its orange hair. “Niall,” she snarled, and at once she was in a magnificent room of white and gold with a gilt pentagram on the floor and a line of 5 paintings on one huge wall, the center of which she recognized as herself, but richly dressed in a scarlet gown. Niall entered the room and was shocked to see her standing there covered in blood.

“Sookie, what…?”

Sookie threw Liam’s head at his feet and Niall stumbled backwards in horror, grabbing a huge oaken chair to break his fall, and he turned white as a sheet.

“This is what happens when you threaten My nest. Stay away from My children, or I’ll have your head, too.”

As soon as the words were out of Sookie’s mouth she was back in her room, sword still in hand.

Eric jumped up, defensively hissing and popping his fangs, the scent of Fae filling the room as his wife stood before him covered in Faerie blood, his own bloody sword in her hand.

“Eric!” She cried out as she threw the sword to the side and they flew into each other’s arms, kissing madly, both in full thrall of the blood. Eric tore their clothing to shreds, taking her on the floor, howling as she flipped him over so she was riding him. He stroked her face with his palm and she kissed it, taking it in her hand and then savagely biting his wrist and offering her own. He bit, completing the circuit, and the room shimmered hot and red, waves of ecstasy sweeping through the entire grounds of the house. Everyone on the property felt it and understood the source as Sookie howled as She came. There was no snickering among the guards this night – there was only awe at the power that was channeled by the Queen and Her King.

Eric was the first to regain his senses, still awash in sticky Fae blood, but he managed to get to the bathroom and start the water in the tub. He poured the first bubble bath he could find under the tap and he wet a hand towel that he used to wipe down the katana that was caked with blood. Eric’s mind couldn’t process that Sookie had actually used a sword on someone. As he laid it on the side table, he prayed that She remember what She did so She could tell him about it, not just to share the glory, but in case there were repercussions to what She had done.

He checked the temperature of the water, then picked Her up and floated them upward and into the tub. She was a little “drunk” as She awoke, wrapping Her arms around him and kissing him hard.

“Sookie, are You conscious?” he asked her softly, trying to get the blood off of Her so he could think.

“Um-hmmm, are you?”

“Yes, Sookie, You need to tell me what You have done.”

“Freyja told Me to do what I had to do, so I did.”

“What was that?”

“Oh, I hope you don’t mind – I borrowed one of your swords,” She said as She was coming out of it a bit.

“Yes, my Angel, I see that. Whose blood was on it?”

“Liam Cullach.”

“You went after Cullach?” Eric was aghast.

“Yep, I cut his head off,” She yawned.

“WHAT?”

“Yeah, I left it at Niall’s house.”

“NIALL?”

“Yep,” She laid her head on his shoulder, “I told him this was what happened when you threatened My nest and he better stay away from My children or I’d have his head, too.”

“SOOKIE? YOU DIDN’T?”

She sat up straight and looked at him, “yes, I did, and I meant it. Freyja said he was afraid of Her, but he needed to know he should be afraid of ME, and he definitely is. You should have seen how scared he was when I threw Cullach’s head at him. I wish I had a picture of it,” She said with a satisfied air.

Eric was stunned. “Sookie, Niall commands Fae armies! He could declare war against Us!”

“You command armies, too, and he’s not going to fuck with Me, because I popped into his house in spite of his protections.” She spoke with absolute certainty.

“His protections?”

“Yeah, he had wards and barriers all around his palace or whatever it is, but I went through them like a hot knife through butter. He might have skills, but I’ve got more power – Freyja made that clear to Me. Cullach had wards, too. He never knew what hit him.”

“Alright, let me be clear, Sookie – You took one of my swords,”

“Yes.”

“You “popped” into Cullach’s home?”

“Yep.”

“You cut off his head?”

“Yep.”

“You carried it into Niall’s home, threw it at him and told him You’d do the same to him if he threatened Your nest?”

“Exactly.”

“Min Gudinna!” That was more an exclamation than a direct address because Eric was stunned at Her.

“Damned straight.”

Eric couldn’t tell if She had no idea of the enormity of what She had done or if She was simply that confident in Her skills – which, if this is how it happened, were considerable. This was a feat worthy of Freyja Herself.

“I AM Freyja Herself, Eric,” she read his mind, “I’m not 100% all the time, yet, but She said when I need Her power, I’ll have it, and soon I’ll have it all the time.”

“So You have accepted this?”

“I wouldn’t be hacking off heads if I hadn’t.”

“Good point. I think we need to apprise Bjorn and Jerry of this.”

“Let’s finish Our bath first.”

“I don’t think so – call my phone for me.”

“Phone!” She held up Her hand and the phone was in it. Eric dried his hands and took it from her, texting Bjorn that they needed to be on high alert.

Eric continued to wash the blood off Sookie, rinsing her hair with the handheld, when Bjorn was at their bedroom door.

“Eric?”

“We’re in the bath, Bjorn, come on in,” Eric said just loudly enough that he could hear, but not loudly enough to wake the babies. Sookie was mostly covered by bubbles, but She made no move to hide what wasn’t covered.

Bjorn was in the door, “sorry to interrupt. What happened?”

“Sookie, after consulting with Freyja, traveled to Liam Cullach’s house, took his head, carried it to Niall’s and told him if he came near our kids, She’d do the same to him.”

“Is that all?” Bjorn wasn’t trying to be a smartass, but DAMN!

“Is that all, Sookie?”

“That’s it in a nutshell.”

“OK, I’m going to need a little more detail.” Bjorn was trying to process what he was hearing. “Are we at war with the Fae?”

“Good question. Sookie?”

“No one saw me at Cullach’s place. Only Niall knows what I did, and he’s got the head.”

“You actually cut off a Faerie’s head and left it at Niall’s place?” Bjorn was trying to picture this.

“I sort of … threw it at him.”

“You threw it at him?”

“Well, rolled it at him, I guess. I threw it at his feet.”

“And You threatened to do the same to him?”

“If he messed with My kids, yeah.”

“Is it my imagination or is that water You’re in red with blood?”

“Yeah, We need to drain it and rinse off.” Sookie said, just now noticing it was getting gross.

“She was covered when she got back. Look at her gown out there.” If he weren’t afraid of repercussions, Eric would think this was funny. He was certainly enjoying Bjorn’s reactions.

Bjorn looked out in the room where there were shreds of clothes scattered next to the bed. “This is that purple thing You were wearing earlier?”

“Yep.”

“Yeah, it’s caked with gore.” Bjorn agreed.

“You’ll want to tell Kerik about this,” Eric told him.

“Yeah, I will. Sookie, can You do magick to cover Your trail?”

“Already done. They’ll find Cullach’s body, there’s no trace of anyone being there, and I’m pretty sure Niall is disposing of the head so it can’t be used to raise him again.”

“OK, we need to keep this quiet. We’ll tell Kerik and Octavia, and that’s it. We need strict control of this Intel…”

Eric’s phone rang. “Yes, Doctor Ludwig?”

“Finish your bath and get dressed. I’ll be there in 30 minutes.”

“We’ll be here.”

Sookie looked at Eric.

“Dr. Ludwig has apparently heard the news. We’ve got 30 minutes to get dressed.”

“I’m going to round up Kerik and Octavia. Let’s all meet in the den,” Bjorn suggested.

“Yes, let’s do that,” Eric opened the drain and turned the handheld on again to rinse them off. Sookie just relaxed and let him clean her up. She had an odd sense of calm about the whole thing. She knew She did what She had to do.

“This is how you feel when you get rid of an enemy, isn’t it? Satisfied, instead of guilty.”

“If I did what must be done, yes.”

“I know the night you killed Quinn. It was the night Pam sat with Me and you said you went to Fangtasia because of a fight. This is how you felt then – justified.”

“I could not take a risk on the baby getting hurt,” he fudged a bit as he helped her out of the tub

“That’s not why you killed him. You killed him because he walked out of My house with Me against your wishes.”

He wrapped a clean towel around Her. “True.”

“OK, just so We know We’re straight on that.” She looked him right in the eye.

“Are you angry?” He knew She wasn’t.

“No, I understand it now,” She explained as he combed out Her hair. “I know how scared you were that Bill attacked Me and you weren’t going to risk that with Quinn, especially when he challenged Our bond. It was a blood offense.”

“You seem to have a better understanding of that now.” He could feel that this experience had matured Sookie quite a bit.

“Yeah, I do. I get it. Before, I sort of understood it, but now I really get it. I know how it feels.”

“You are a warrior now, Sookie,” Eric was proud of Her for doing what She had to do for Her family.

“Yeah, I am. I need to get better with a sword, but I wish you could have seen Me tonight. I moved so fast, Cullach didn’t have time to react. I was there and SWOOSH! I was out of there before his heart beat twice.” She was bragging a bit as She put on Her favorite pink gown and a pair of matching panties.

“And how did you approach Niall?” he asked as he pulled on a pair of jeans.

She leaned on the dresser as she spoke, watching him comb out his hair. “I must have been in a room where he does magick, because there was a pentacle painted on the floor in gold. I’m not sure how I knew it was real gold, but it was. He was walking in the door and saw Me standing there, covered in blood, and he fell backwards when I rolled the head at him. He was white as a sheet. I mean, he was genuinely, thoroughly, scared.”

“Let’s hope he stays that way. If he does not, We may be fighting wars on two fronts.” Eric slipped a black tank t-shirt over his head.

“Dr. Ludwig will know how things stand.”

“Yes, I suppose she will.”

“We need to take the babies down with Us.”

“You carry Auberon since he’s lighter, and I’ll carry Alex.”

“OK, good idea.” Each of Them took a twin and headed down the stairs as quietly as They could, kitten at Their heels.

Bjorn, Jerry and Octavia, in her yellow robe, were already in the den when They arrived with the babies in tow.

“Sorry to get everyone up at this hour,” Eric said, putting Alex in the playpen, then taking Aubie from Sookie and putting him next to his brother. The cat meowed at Eric so he picked her up and put her in the pen, too, where she made herself comfy next to the boys.

“War councils are never convenient,” Octavia said, “how bad is it?”

“We won’t know until Ludwig is here,” Eric told her.

“This is more than what happened this afternoon?”

“Oh, yes. Much more.”

-POP-

“Northman – quite a party you’re having here,” the little doctor said wryly.

“What can we do for you, Dr. Ludwig?”

“I thought I should fill you in on the news. Liam Cullach is dead.”

“Really? Eric acted mildly surprised

“Yes, and somehow, his head turned up at Niall’s home. Niall wouldn’t tell me exactly how that happened, but he was scared to death, so I assume there was some powerful intervention of some kind going on,” Dr. Ludwig looked right at Sookie as she spoke. Sookie hardly blinked. “Now, You be absolutely sure You don’t skip any doses of that Ambrosia, because if there’s a chink in Your armor, one faction or another will find it.”

“What do they know?” Eric asked

“Cullach’s henchmen will assume that Niall took his head, but they won’t have a clue how, so that will scare them into laying low for a bit. Only Niall knows the truth of how the head was delivered and I’m quite sure he’ll die before he breathes a word of it to anyone. I’m also quite sure he won’t forget it. Freyja and I will do what We can to see that a ceasefire is reached, so We should be able to avoid war on most fronts, but it would be best if no more heads appear where they don’t belong. Northman, you and your Queen will be receiving a visit from the Ancient Pythoness tomorrow at your office in Fangtasia at 8 PM sharp. Don’t keep Her waiting.” And she was gone.

“Alright, I assume she meant “divine intervention,” so Sookie, You cut somebody’s head off?” Octavia asked.

“Yes.”

“And delivered it to Niall?”

“Yes.”

“Was there a message with it?”

“This is what happens to people who threaten My nest, so stay away from My kids or I’ll have your head, too.”

“Holy Mother Goddess!” was all Octavia could say.

Bjorn, Jerry and Eric were all laughing.

“You think this is funny, Vampire?” Octavia asked.

“I know it is very grave, but the picture of my petite, blood-soaked wife throwing a head at Niall’s feet and threatening him with a sword is quite amusing.”

“What possessed You, Girl?”

“Freyja told Me he needed to be afraid of Me.”

“And She told You what to do?”

“No, the “what” was My idea, I think. She told Me to do what I knew I had to do, and I got a really clear vision of what to do and I did it,” Sookie explained as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

“How many times did you teleport?”

“I popped from the bedroom to the gym, drew a circle to go to Liam’s, went from Liam’s to Niall’s, then I was back here.”

“What did you do to go from Liam’s to Niall’s?”

“I said his name.”

“Anything else?”

“No, I cut off his head, picked it up, said “Niall” and there I was, then as soon as I said what I came to say, I was back home.”

“Jesus,” Kerik shook his head.

“I’ve never seen the kind of power it would take to do that, Sookie,” Octavia told Her. “I can barely imagine it. You must have scared the shit out of Niall if he won’t even tell Ludwig You were there.”

“That was the idea, right?” Sookie asked.

“According to You, it’s what Freyja prescribed. I’ll tell You something else – if You were zipping around Elfyria that easily, You must be damned near omnipotent there.”

“Oh, I almost forgot…” Sookie said suddenly.

“Don’t leave anything out, Child, this is too big!”

“Niall’s magick room or whatever it was had five paintings on the wall and the one in the middle was Me, but I was in this really lovely scarlet gown I’ve never seen before.”

“Scarlet? Not red, but scarlet?” Octavia asked Her.

“Yeah – why’d I say scarlet instead of red?”

“I’ve got an idea about that, but I need to throw some cards first. Your cousin, Claudine, does she have email?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Before You go to bed, send her an email and ask her for a picture of Titania. Tell her someone told You the history and You’re curious about what she looked like.”

“What do we need that for?”

“Mostly, we need to see if she produces one. I say she won’t.”

“Because you think that painting was her and not Me?”

“I’m starting to think that might be like saying it’s Freyja and not You. Remember, there may be, or may have been, other incarnations of Freyja.”

“So I am She and She was Me and I am Me and We are all Together?”

“You’re way too young to be into the Beatles,” Jerry laughed.

“Yeah, but they were always on the radio – still are!”

“Keep that sense of humor, Queenie – You might need it,” Octavia said. “I think Ludwig told us that we’re safe for tonight, so everybody get some rest. We’ll have another war council tomorrow night. I notice Amelia isn’t here – is there a reason for that?”

“We just thought to limit the number who know,” Eric explained.

“You need to fill Amelia in tomorrow, Sookie. I need her and Bobbie up to speed, but don’t dare speak of this over the phone. Tell Bobbie when she gets back.”

“Dadee!” Alex was awake for his last bottle.

“I’m going to bed, Sookie, we’ll read cards tomorrow,” Octavia left the room.

Eric took Alex in his arms and talked to him, and Bjorn picked up Aubie and handed him to Sookie.

“Thanks, Bjorn.”

“Want me to carry him upstairs for you, Sookie?”

“No, that’s OK, we’ll take the elevator.”

“OK, then, I’m going to sleep.”

“I’ll be there when you wake up, Bjorn.”

“Thanks, Jerry.”

“Are there bottles upstairs?” Eric asked Sookie

“I don’t know for sure, Sweetie – grab some while we’re down here, just in case.”

They all took the elevators to their respective floors, and Eric took Alex into the nursery for story time. Sookie sent her email and then she and Aubie went to bed with Jerry watching them.

Eric sat in the glider and picked up the ABC book they had been reading before, and Alex said, “Obee nah wee?”

“Aubie will read with us sometimes, but he’s sleeping now.”

“Doo widdow?”

“Yes, he’s too little right now.”

“Oday.”

Eric read to Alex for a while then rocked him until almost sunrise. At the last possible minute, he tucked Alex in next to Sookie, gave her a cup of Ambrosia, kissed all three of them one more time, and went to his rest. He prayed to Freyja as he waited for sleep that She would keep his family safe.

Sookie, Aubie and Alex slept until about 10 o’clock, when Alicia came in with two bottles. Auberon was the first one awake, so she gave him a fresh nappy and fed him RM, and it just worked out that Alex woke up right as Aubie decided he was finished. Aubie woke again at 12:30 and Alex at 1. Bjorn fed Alex a big breakfast then, but Sookie didn’t move until Alicia brought her breakfast at 3 PM, letting her sleep as long as she dared.

“Sookie, can you eat some now?” Alicia asked.

“Huh? Yeah, what time is it?”

“It’s after 3, dear.”

“Have the babies been fed?”

“A couple of times, but I expect them up soon, so you should eat while you can. I don’t know if I can get them to take RM a third time and we’re out of breast milk.”

“Yeah, they’ll be wanting me this time around. Thanks for waking me.” Sookie dug into the rare steak and something unfamilar. “What’s this?”

“Braised cucumbers.”

“You’re kidding?”

“Try it, you might like it.” Alicia urged her.

Sookie did and found that they were pretty good if you didn’t think about what they were.

“How are you today, Bjorn?”

“OK – tired.”

“Sorry about that. I didn’t mean to disrupt the whole household.”

Bjorn cracked up. Alicia headed downstairs with the laundry and when she was gone, he said, “you didn’t honestly think you’d do all that and not cause a fuss, did you?”

“Honestly, I didn’t think about it – I just did it.”

“It didn’t occur to you that you might start a war?”

“No, it occurred to me I might end one. Think about it – they aren’t going to mess with Niall, Niall knows there’s no need to mess with them…”

“Somebody new will step up.”

“Always, but for now, the crisis has passed. That particular asshole is not going to bother my kids again, and hopefully, neither will the other one.”

“I don’t know if he’s the type to give up, Sookie.”

“He’d better be, or he won’t be any type at all.”

“You really mean that?”

“Yes, I do. I’m over begging him to love me. Eric loves me, and my kids love me, and that’s more than most people have. I don’t need a great grandfather who thinks he’s entitled to steal my kids.”

“That kind of crossed the line, huh?”

“In a big way. It was one thing when I thought he couldn’t cross over, but when I found out Niall knew he probably could and let me think I couldn’t have him – I never felt anger like that in my whole life, Bjorn. I don’t know that I even felt that kind of hate when my Gran was killed. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think I could have gone to sleep after knowing what Liam tried to do to my baby. I needed to fix that before I let go enough to sleep. Freyja understood that. It’s like Eric says, they have to know that you won’t tolerate any enemies.”

“You think Niall got the message?”

“For now, anyway. I gave him one warning. That’s more than the bastard deserves, so from this point forward, I take no prisoners, either.”

Bjorn could tell she really meant it. “So we’re all going to Fangtasia tonight?”

“That’s the plan. Eric needs to meet Pam, the Ancient Pythoness is coming for some kind of meeting, then I hope Eric and I are going to use the downstairs for a bit.”

“Ohh – up for a little kink, huh?”

“And how! We’ve had a lot of sex lately, but it seems like I’m only conscious for half of it,” she laughed, “I hope we just do some straight-up fucking tonight.”

‘Please don’t let me need to stand up now!’ Bjorn thought to himself. Sookie was getting bolder and bolder around him, which was cool, but it was also torturous at times. She was still the hottest thing alive as far as he was concerned. He was glad he knew Eric enough to admire him instead of hate him from jealousy, because if he didn’t, he’d probably get himself killed over her. Her scent was so out of hand now, he worried about taking her around other Supes.

“What do I smell like?”

“Damn, Sookie!”

“I’m sorry – it was a really strong flash. I smell that good, huh?”

“You smell good enough to get a guy killed.”

“Eric hasn’t said anything lately, but he usually tells me I’m the sweetest thing he ever tasted.”

“If you taste half as good as you smell, I completely believe it.”

“Do Weres drink blood?”

“Sometimes. It’s not a survival thing, though, it’s more of a sex thing. It can be dangerous, though.”

“Why?”

“The taste or even the smell of blood can overcome the Animal, you know? You start out to take a taste and end up killing the person you’re fucking.”

“Yikes!”

“Yeah, blood rites are amazing, but they’re no joke. It’s as far from “safe sex” as you can get,” he laughed.

“You ever done that with anybody?”

“A few times, yeah, of course.”

“Has it ever gone bad?”

“Almost.”

“Almost? What stopped you?”

“There was somebody else there who whacked me with a silver cane.”

“No way!”

“Oh, yeah, this friend of mine, who was a Shifter, saw me getting out of control and beat me over the head with this silver-handled cane he always carried with him.

“So it was two guys and how many girls?”

Bjorn laughed.

“Come on, I tell you embarrassing stuff all the time.”

“About 5.”

“Wow – wait. About 5?”

“It was sort of an orgy situation, so people were moving in and out. This one Goth chick cut herself and offered it and the next thing I knew, my friend was wailing on me with that fucking cane.”

“Silver hurts Weres, right?”

“Yeah, hitting me with a crowbar might slow me down, but the silver flat stopped me.”

“Weren’t you worried about the girls outing you?”

“They were so high, they wouldn’t have been able to explain what happened even if they remembered.”

“Pretty wild, huh?”

“I had some good times back then.”

“You still do, right?”

“Yeah, but it’s different, you know? There’s not much risk.”

“You like danger.”

“Yeah.”

“Eric says I do, too. I guess I do.”

“You definitely do.”

“Oh, you know that, huh?”

“Yeah, Sookie, guys talk,” he laughed.

“Ah! What has he talked about?”

“You being there one day when he woke up.”

“Oh, yeah, now THAT was wild.”

“So I hear. Would you ever do it again?”

“Yeah, if someone was around or if I couldn’t be killed.”

“Like someone to stop him before it was too late?”

“Yeah, but honestly, he’s got so much control, there’s not that much danger.”

“He seemed to think there was.”

“He underestimates himself.”

“ERIC?”

“Yeah, where I’m concerned, he does. That’s my fault. I pushed him away for so long, I made him doubt himself.”

“I don’t think Eric has any confidence issues, Hon.”

“You’d be surprised…”

“Hey, Sookie!”

“Come on up, Amelia.”

“We still going to Fangtasia tonight?”

“Yeah, probably right after dinner because Eric and I have an appointment at 8.”

“You do?”

“Yeah, with the Ancient Pythoness. Did Jerry fill you in about last night?”

“No. Octavia said I should get a briefing from you,” she laughed.

Bjorn filled Amelia in on all the events of the night, as Sookie finished her breakfast, then fed Aubie and then Alex and gave them both “dantheen” time, which made Aubie laugh so hard he got the hiccups. Amelia kept looking at Sookie, who nodded her head to confirm that it really happened.

“You should have heard Dr. Ludwig,” Bjorn laughed, “she said no other heads better show up where they shouldn’t be for a while.”

“How did you know you could do all that, Sookie?”

“I didn’t think about it. I just did it. Once I saw what to do, it got done.”

“What did Octavia say?”

“She said she’d never seen power like that before, and that in Faery I might be nearly omnipotent.”

“Octavia never saw it before? Shit!”

“I know – I thought she’d seen everything,” Sookie tried to laugh it off.

“Even Eric hasn’t seen everything, Sweetie. What did he say?”

“Once I convinced him it really happened, I think he thought it was funny. The part about Niall, anyway, I think the Liam part scared him.”

“Because you went in there and nobody knew what you were doing, probably.”

“Definitely. I hope you don’t make a habit of things like that, Sookie,” Bjorn took the opportunity to put it in perspective. “You’ve got kids to consider.”

“My kids are the reason I did it – but I know what you mean.”

Alicia buzzed up on the monitor. “Mrs. Northman?”

“Yes, Alicia?”

“Mr. Northman said to remind you to be dressed by the time he arrives.”

“Yeah, I should get in the shower – thanks!”

“OK, I’m going to pack up stuff to take with us,” Amelia told her as she headed for the bathroom. Bjorn was glad she had a nightgown on this time because the sight of Sookie naked after that conversation would give him blue balls. Alex wanted to play so he and Bjorn went up to the gym, kitten at their heels.

“Hey, Sookie? I’ve got Aubie in the nursery, Bjorn’s got Alex in the gym,” Amelia said at the bathroom door.

“OK, thanks, Amelia.”

Amelia talked to the baby and showed him the toys in the room as she packed up the diaper bag. She’d get food and bottles downstairs, but she filled it with diapers, wipes, baby powder, a couple of pacifiers, a book and some small stuffed toys.

Sookie put on a pink push-up bra since she had lots to push, and a matching thong, though she threw a nursing dress into a tote bag she’d take with her. She was looking through her closet for something sexy and found a new, hot pink dress that had hook-and-eye closures down the entire front. She put it on over the push up bra and decided she looked trashy, which might work another time, but the Ancient Pythoness was going to see her so she opted for the short pink sequined dress with Eric’s favorite Marc Jacobs pumps with the silver-toned metal heels. She did a very quick makeup job but put a little kohl on her eyes, which she was beginning to love, and that made it look like she was really dolled up when she added pale pink lipgloss.

She went into the nursery, where Amelia was changing Aubie’s diaper. “How do I look?”

“That is going to be one happy Viking!”

“Good. We need to have some fun.”

“What do you call that hot, red wave that hit the whole house last night?”

“That was bloodlust and sex magick. Tonight is just going to be down and dirty fun, I hope.”

“Will it bother you that I’m in the next room?”

“Not if it doesn’t bother you.”

“I’m completely cool with it. I’ve got snacks and stuff for the kids – we’ll be fine, won’t we, Aubie?”

“Ah!” he said and bounced.

“Good try, Sweetie. You know he said “Ma” last night?”

“He’s not that far behind Alex, then. Good for you, little guy.”

“Mmmaa!” he reached out for Sookie.

“Yeah, I’m your Mama! I’m your Mama.” Sookie took him and he gurgled happily as she kissed and hugged him, then she nuzzled his ear making animal noises and he squealed with delight.

“He’s happy to be home, Sookie!”

“Yeah, I think he is,” she said, kissing him several times.

Everyone congregated in the kitchen for dinner and Eric came in to find everyone chatting pleasantly, Alex in his highchair, Aubie on Sookie’s lap.

“Hello, my lovely wife,” Eric kissed her, and Aubie and Alex. “Let me hold him while you eat, Sookie.” He took Aubie with him as he sat down.

Margaret put a dish in front of Alex and Eric shifted Aubie to one arm so he could feed Alex with the other. He scooped up a bite of broccoli and Alex asked, “Obee nah undwy?”

“He’s too little to eat food like this. He’s only big enough for bottles and Mommy.”

“Obee Mamee ee!”

“Mommy will feed him when he’s hungry, Alex. He’s fine right now, aren’t you, Auberon?”

“Ah!” he responded and bounced a little and Eric kissed his head.

“Me kitheth, Dadee!”

Eric leaned over and kissed Alex, too, and Aubie giggled with delight.

“Obee wyg kitheth!”

“Yes, I think he does.” Eric smiled at the two of them. Alex didn’t seem to be showing any jealousy so far, and he hoped that trend continued. He hoped it was not too late to form a bond between them.

Everyone finished up and they were packed into the cars by 7:15 so they could get to Fangtasia in time for Eric’s meeting. They had to dispense with the baby seats because there were two of them, and Eric started wondering what they would do when Sookie needed to take the boys out in the daytime. For tonight, they packed two baby carriers in the van with the guards that would be used to give them a place to nap in the basement safe room.

By the time they were all in the doors at Fangtasia, it was nearly 8 o’clock. Sookie waited in the office with Bjorn while Eric got Amelia settled in the safe room with the kids. She propped them up on the couch to watch cartoons, which tickled Alex to no end. Aubie was more interested in watching Alex than the TV, and Amelia had fun just being with the two of them. Alex yawned in just a few minutes and she knew he’d be down for his evening nap soon.

Eric was back upstairs, sitting at his desk while Sookie brushed her hair in the mirror, and Bjorn was standing outside the door when the Ancient Pythoness appeared before Eric’s desk. He zipped around the desk and knelt before Her. Sookie dropped her brush and started to curtsy but the Pythoness said, “No, no, My Dear, Goddesses do not bow. You have learned much, but there is much more to know.”

“My Lady, We are honored by Your presence,” Eric said.

“Very eventful, this day and night past. I bring a message from the Council. We did not know of Niall’s deceit – it would never have been tolerated.” She looked directly at Sookie, “We commend the Goddess for Her swift and proper response. Niall has been warned that there must be no retaliation if he wishes to keep his seat within our Body. Even the Council may not interfere with the Will of the Goddess.”

“Thank you!” Sookie said with great relief.

“Cullach’s forces have been warned, as well, that they were opposing Divine Will. The Council wants peace between the worlds and within them.”

“That is welcome news, My Lady,” Eric told Her.

“We know of the coming conflict with the humans. Your course is true. Do not falter.” And She was gone.

“So they’re backing you in the war with New Centurion?”

“Yes, and it will be a long and protracted one. That’s why they have such an interest in our children.”

“Will Aubie be a warrior, too?”

“My own intuition says ‘no.’ I see him as a gentle soul – a diplomat rather than a soldier.”

“Yeah, I see that. A benevolent King rather than a strong one.”

“Exactly.” He stepped to the door. “Bjorn, come in, please?”

“Yes, your majesty.”

“You will stand your post here. You may sit at my desk. We will call you if we need you.”

“Yes, sire.” Bjorn took a seat and Eric ushered Sookie down the stairs. She started to tell him that the door was open, but he shook his head and urged her on down the stairs. Uh-oh.

“No talking until I say so.” Eric said, then he looked into the safe room. “I’m going to close the door now, Amelia, but it won’t be locked. Call us immediately if there’s any trouble.”

“Will do. You kids have fun.”

Eric laughed and closed the door to the safe room, then the door to the bathroom.

Sookie was sitting on the foot of the round bed waiting for him. Without a word, he went to the far side of it and opened a hidden drawer in the platform, pulling out what Sookie was sure was a tube of lubricant. He was back instantly, kissing her hard, unzipping the back of her dress. He purred with approval when he saw the lacy pink bra and panty set she was wearing, and he whispered in her ear to “keep those amazing shoes on.”

He peeled the straps of the bra off her shoulders with his teeth, nipping at the skin occasionally to make her jump just a little. Aside from soft moans she couldn’t hold back, she didn’t speak. Eric threw her bra back onto the chair and took her panties down with his teeth, running his tongue down the inside of her thigh. He was laughing to himself because she was already on fire and his plan was to get that fire burning white-hot before he moved forward. Once the panties were on the floor, he said, “spread your legs, Sookie” and she did as she was ordered. The edge of her butt was on the bed, she was leaning back on her hands, and Eric was kneeling in front of her, gently running his finger up her inner thigh. She was shaking as he said “we’re going to play a game, Sookie. It’s very advanced,” his fingers found her center, “think you can do it?”

“Ye-yes,”

“That’s my good girl. Now, the rule of the night is, you don’t come until I bite you. No matter what I do, or what happens,” he slipped his fingers inside her, “you don’t come until I drink from you. Understand?”

“Yes.”

“Be as still and quiet as you can.” He wrapped his arm tightly around her waist, taking her nipple in his mouth and working her with his fingers. She was trying not to squirm but he was relentless with his teeth and tongue on her nipples and his hand between her legs. It seemed to go on forever. She was struggling with herself – part of her wanted to get away from him, part of her wanted to come. She willed herself with everything in her not to push, to just take it and enjoy the sensations but not push for their release. He was asking the impossible, she decided, but she was determined to do what he wanted. She began to whimper, and tears actually ran from her eyes, leaving a faint, sexy, trail of black down her left cheek. Suddenly Eric was standing and spinning her around. “Up on your elbows, Sookie, and remember the rule. Legs wide.”

She was bent over the bed, her butt in the air, and she could hear him taking his clothes off. That was good news until he pulled the belt out of his jeans and lay it on the bed beside her. She felt cold all over. She wanted to run. She wanted to know how it feels. How can you dread something so much and still want it so badly?

He reached under her and stroked her center again. “What an amazing body, you have, Sookie. It’s so warm here,” he plunged his fingers in again, “but it’s cold here,” he stroked her bottom with both hands. “I think I should warm your bottom before we proceed, don’t you?”

She didn’t respond.

“I’ll take that as a ‘yes.’ Allow me to point out that, while the children probably cannot hear you, Bjorn certainly can. You don’t want to alarm him, so you be very quiet, and you hold your position.”

He pulled the belt slowly down the bed like a snake, then he doubled it in his hand and struck once, just hard enough to make a loud smack and make Sookie jump. Eric ran his hand over her backside and she caught her breath. Why didn’t she hate this? Why did she want him to do it again?

“Hold your position, Sookie,” he stroked her center again then smack, smack, smack!

She hadn’t been expecting more than one. He went at her with his fingers again and she was trying to hold her position, but her butt wouldn’t stay still. It wasn’t torturous at all – the little bit of pain just made her very aware that her ass was exposed, and she was wiggling it, almost begging for more.

Eric bent over her, pulling her hair back and to the side, whispering in her ear. “I think you like that, Sookie. Just a little more, and then you’ll get your reward.”

Reward? She hoped that meant an orgasm because her middle was gripping, begging for something to enter. SMACK, SMACK, SMACK!

“Unhh -! ” she was trying not to cry out, but those were harder than she expected.

SMACK!

SMACK!

SMACK!

SMACK!

SMACK!

Eric stroked her bottom again, “much warmer,” he whispered as he bent over her, kissed her shoulder, and reached for the tube of lubricant.

‘Here we go,’ she thought, but the thought barely had time to form before she was lubed and impaled. Damned Vampire speed! His arm held her like iron as he swung her around so she was sitting on him as he took her place on the edge of the bed. One arm held her firm while the other twisted her nipples, then slipped down to her center and became merciless in rubbing just the right spot. She could feel him in her throat again. She was shaking her fingers desperately, trying not to pull his hand away.

“Ready for your reward, Sookie?”

“Yes!”

“Call Bjorn and ask him to join us.”

“What?”

“You’ve been thinking about him since I hired him, Sookie. You’ve always wondered what it would feel like to have two men at once. Call him and find out.”

Sookie was going to lose her mind if she didn’t come soon. Eric was relentless with his hand, “Call him.”

“B-BJORN!” she called as Eric made her squirm.

Eric spoke loudly enough that he knew Bjorn could hear him – though he knew Bjorn had heard the whole thing – “Bjorn, you’re under no obligation, but if you’d like to fuck Sookie, now is your chance.”

Bjorn was down the stairs in a heartbeat, his shirt thrown on the floor, and he was kissing Sookie, hands on both sides of her face, as Eric laughed quietly. Sookie couldn’t really think, but there were weird thoughts flashing through her head – how differently Bjorn kissed than Eric, how soft his skin over his hard muscles as she gripped his arms, and then suddenly he was in her and she was coming apart from the soul on out. She felt like she was surrounded by mountain of flesh on both sides. Bjorn pushed slowly in and out, his hand gripping her thighs, Eric’s hands squeezing her breasts, her head thrown back on Eric’s shoulder in ecstasy, joy, bright pain and heat, only strangling gasps escaping her open mouth. Her entire being was between her legs and she never even imagined being so thoroughly opened and filled. Did it feel good? Did it hurt? Yes. Both. Neither? There was no word for this in this world.

“Don’t stop, Bjorn,” Eric told him as he grasped her upper arms, then he bit Sookie’s neck as savagely as he ever had and a howl came out of her as she drowned in a neon violet surge that touched every cell in her body. Even her nails throbbed and her hair stood on end. Eric came just after he bit, and Bjorn wasn’t long after. Sookie collapsed, Eric and Bjorn laughing and supporting her.

Eric whispered in her ear, “want more, Sookie?”

“Unnh” she couldn’t quite get the word out but they knew what she meant.

“Up on the bed,” he directed Bjorn, lifting Sookie and putting her up in the middle of the bed. “The restraints are just beneath the platform there, do anything you want, except anal, and don’t let her come,” Eric told him as he went into the bathroom to clean up. When he came back, Sookie was in four points of restraint, writhing wildly as Bjorn licked her center with great gusto, so he sat in his chair and watched the show.

You didn’t have to be gay to appreciate Bjorn’s physique – it was impressive. Every muscle was developed and defined, and he had very nice skin with just a triangular untanned area where a tight swimsuit would cover. He was nearly hairless – a body-builder thing – and his stamina was impressive. He couldn’t match even a young Vampire, of course, but he wasn’t bad. Eric knew they both had heated thoughts about each other, so maybe this would put out the fire. Or maybe they’d have a new playmate occasionally, or two, if Bobbie were amenable – and he knew she would be. Bobbie would be the most enthusiastic of the four, he believed, and she had experience with discipline, as did Bjorn, so that might be a good way to teach Sookie about more extreme practices before they tried them. He was confident Bjorn would never cheat with Sookie, knowing he’d die a slow and painful death if he dared, and Sookie would never cheat because she was not that kind of person. Eric had no doubt of Sookie’s love for him or her devotion to her kids, especially not after she killed for them.

Bjorn was really making Sookie writhe and she was giving herself over to it, pulling hard at the iron restraints. Eric could feel what Sookie was feeling, and he was enjoying it. As long as he controlled the situation, Eric was quite content to watch Sookie have fun, and she was having fun. She knew this was her one chance to do it with Bjorn, so she was making the most of it, just as he hoped she’d do.

Sookie tried to hide that she had a very intense release as he finished and moved up over her, stopping first to nibble on her breasts, then taking her while she was still restrained. She particularly liked that he licked at some blood that dripped down her chest where Eric had bitten her and he let out a deep growl that was really menacing and exciting. He came very quickly this time and released the bonds, then picked her up and put her on her hands and knees.

“Face me, Sookie, I want to see your pretty face,” Eric directed.

She rushed to face Eric and Bjorn took her hard, making her cry out with the first few thrusts, then taking short, quick strokes that made her pant. He tried to hold back, but Bjorn came very quickly, reaching forward and squeezing Sookie’s breasts, pulling her back to him. As he slowed down and recovered himself, running his hands all over her, Eric said, “I think that’s enough for tonight.” Bjorn kissed her shoulder and grabbed his clothes, going up to Eric’s office to dress. He laughed to himself as he put his pants back on – this was crazy intense and fun. Eric was right about something else, too – Sookie was warmer on the inside than normal. This was a thoroughly successful night as far as Bjorn was concerned.

“Come here, Sookie,” Eric said as she stood unsteadily by the bed and he guided her to straddle his very stiff cock as he sat in the wide, black leather chair. She made that beautiful face as she lowered herself onto him, as if she was feeling the most wonderful thing in the world. If you didn’t know what she had been doing, you’d never believe that she’d just had sex multiple times. It was like the first time, every time with her. There was no such thing as ‘enough,’ there was only stopping at the point of exhaustion. She kissed him as hard as she could, then wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him tight as she moved up and down on him. She concentrated all of her energy on her center and the “grip” was remarkable, even for her. She whispered in his ear, “I love you, Eric.”

He put his hand on the side of her face and they pressed their foreheads together. “Jag alskar dig, min Gudinna. I love you, Sookie, more than anything.” He put his hands on each shoulder blade and pressed her forward as he bit her breast. The two of them came together as he drew blood from her, then before she knew what was happening, she was being whipped around and came to land on her stomach on the round bed. Eric pulled her hips up and took her hard, “doggie style,” to remind her who had the biggest dick, and he made his point with hard, definite strokes. As soon as he came he took her in the back again, crushing her underneath him, pinning her wrists out in front of her to each side a bit. He drove hard, entangling his fingers in her hair, not really pulling it, but holding onto it firmly and moving her head to the side,

He whispered in her ear, “who do you belong to?”

“You, Eric, I belong to you.”

“You’re mine forever, Sookie.”

“Yes, I’m yours forever.”

He nibbled on her ear a bit and nipped at her neck. Sookie felt utterly controlled and possessed as he took her harder and longer than she ever remembered this going on before. She heard the thought that flashed through his mind – she wasn’t pregnant, he was sure she was healed. She knew this would go on for a while because he wanted to push her to her limit and beyond.

It was working.

“Frantic” was the word she heard in his mind and she nearly sobbed as he slid his hands under her to grip her breasts and took harder strokes. She was clawing at the bedspread, kicking her feet, and for some reason she knew she didn’t dare cry out.

It seemed like hours before he came, and she knew he was stretching it out as long as he could. Pictures were flashing through her mind – waterfalls, the belt striking her bottom, crucifixion, images of the Inquisitions she’d seen in one of Bobbie’s books – it was all a jumble of wonder, ecstasy, horror and desperately wanting to get away.

Sookie couldn’t remember what happened next, only that when the ice touched her nipple, she was hanging from her wrists, only the balls of her feet/shoes touching the floor.

“It’s getting very late, so consider this just a sample of things to come,” Eric said softly. He trailed the ice down under her arm and she tried to object but she was gagged. Nice touch, Eric. The ice trailed down her stomach to her nub, and he slipped it up into her as she tried to get away but there was nowhere to go and for some reason she couldn’t close her legs. He walked away from her and turned off the light. Son-of-a-bitch. At least it wasn’t going to last long because it really was getting late and they had to get the kids home. Oh, hell, where was he?

OW! She felt a sting on her bottom, then a serious pinch on her left cheek. She heard a buzzing sound and Eric’s fingers were inside her, but they were vibrating. He had one of those things that straps onto your hand, and his thumb was right on The spot and his fingers all inside her. It was no time at all before she came on his hand, which was exactly what he wanted. He forced out every squeal, throb and wiggle she had left in her. When he could feel through the bond that she really couldn’t take anymore, he released her ankles and let her down, then lifted her onto the bed so she could recover. He dressed while she lay there, putting her panties and her bra in her tote bag, and held her up to slip the pink dress over her head.

“Want to wear the gag home?” he teased her.

“UNN!”

“I didn’t think so,” he laughed and released it, “Next time, we start with the wrist restraints and the whip. That was that little sting on your backside. One isn’t much at all, but a hundred or more can be very uncomfortable, I’m told, especially on tender spots. Can you stand?”

She tried to get on her feet, a little unsteady because she was tired. She laughed to herself that you could be so tired when you had been tied up so much of the time. Eric wrapped his arms around her and let her lean on him for a bit, which was nice but she nearly fell asleep.

“Have a good night?” he whispered.

“Yeah, definitely. Did you?”

“Oh, yes, I enjoyed tonight very much. Can you face people now?”

“Let me check my makeup, and we’ll get the kids.” She went into the bathroom. Yikes! She took a tissue and cleaned the black streaks under her eyes, then brushed her hair. Eric knocked on the door to the safe room, then opened it. Amelia was leaning back, watching TV and writing in her journal as the twins slept.

Amelia and Sookie went up and sent Bjorn back down to help Eric with the babies.

“You take Alex and I’ll take Auberon,” Eric told him. “Everything alright?”

“Everything’s great,” Bjorn smiled and Eric nodded, then they took the babies out to the car. Bjorn drove them home, Amelia in the passenger seat and Eric and Sookie in back with the babies.

“Didn’t Jerry come tonight?” Sookie asked, thinking he must be in the van full of guards.

“No, he was in charge of the security at the house. We figured one of us should be in each spot,” Bjorn told her.

“Where was Pam?” Sookie just realized she wasn’t there.

“I got a message that she couldn’t make it tonight, but by then the Pythoness was expected so we would have gone, anyway. She’ll come by the house before she goes to work tomorrow,” Eric explained.

“The new guards are starting tomorrow, and will be on three shifts,” Bjorn said, looking at Eric in the rearview mirror.

“Good.”

“Are they daemons?” Sookie asked.

“Yes, and they’re very good. Vincent has worked with four of them before and the others are highly recommended. None of them has any love for Niall,” Bjorn told them.

“That’s not surprising. Most of the Supe world has been at war with him at one point or another,” Eric recalled.

“Why didn’t you tell me how horrible he was, Eric?” Sookie was so done with him!

“Niall? I didn’t want to hurt you, Sookie. I knew you loved him.”

“Well, thank Goddess I’m over that. He can’t hurt me again. I’ll never let him get that close.”

“You may have to reach your own détente with him, Sookie. He is family and he is still on the Council, and you might be…”

“Don’t even say it. I’ll think about the True Heir some other time. Right now, all I care about is keeping my kids safe and with me. Can you be a Goddess and still be a Faerie Queen, anyway?”

“That’s the best kind, Sookie,” Amelia told her.

“Fuck.”

“Sookie!”

“Eric, after the day I’ve had, if I want to say ‘fuck,’ I’m goddamned gonna say ‘fuck.'”

Everyone in the car, Sookie included, burst into laughter, which woke up Aubie.

“He’s hungry. Eric, unzip my dress so I can pull it down. I knew I should have put on that nursing dress!”

“Put it on now, Sookie,” Amelia suggested.

“In the car? Nah, we’re almost home and besides, I’m naked under this dress. I might strip down to a bra and panties in the car, but I’m not going completely buff.”

“Good to know,” Eric quipped and everyone laughed again.

Eric unzipped her and she managed to get one side of it down far enough to feed Aubie. He fed most of the way home, all the way upstairs, and even while Eric pulled her dress down over her hips in the bedroom. She got into her spot on the bed with some difficulty and he was still feeding 45 minutes later when Alex woke up. Eric helped her get into position with both of them, but Aubie decided he was done soon after and Eric took him from her.

“He’s a doll, isn’t he?’ Sookie bragged on him.

“Yes, he’s a very sweet baby. It’s so amazing to see how much alike he and Alex are and yet how different.” Eric hugged him up to his shoulder and kissed his head. “I can’t believe I ever doubted…”

“That you could love him? I knew you would, the minute you saw him.”

“I should have believed you. You know me better than I know myself, it seems.”

“It’s only fair that should go both ways,” she leaned over and kissed him as they met in the middle.

Without even speaking, they both moved down in the bed, putting the kids in between them, Alex still feeding and Aubie gurgling and playing with his toes. They whispered to each other, played with the babies, and Sookie dozed off around 2. Aubie dozed off shortly after, and Eric put him in the little crib next to Sookie. Once Alex stopped feeding he moved him more toward his side of the bed. He set up the monitor and went to his office, really needing to catch up on some work.

Alex said “Dadee!” at about 4:40 and when Eric went in the room, Alex and Aubie were both awake. Eric managed to pick them both up and took them into the nursery.

“Boog, Dadee.”

“Alright, let’s see if we can do this with three of us.” He managed to balance Aubie on his left leg and Alex on his right, since Alex could hold himself up and he’d need his right hand to get the book. He supported Aubie’s back with his arm, his big arm wrapped under the baby’s little arm, the book held in that hand. He picked The Fox in Sox since there was an actual story to it. Alex tried to copy words as Eric said them, but Aubie was more interested in Eric than the book. He watched him with big eyes, and Eric got the distinct feeling that he liked the sound of his voice. Aubie was feeling safe and loved, and that was exactly what Eric hoped for. Alex would occasionally reach for Aubie and pat his face or hold his hand for a minute.

“Nah wee – Obee doo widdow.”

“Yes, Aubie can’t read or talk yet. He’s learning, though, so he will someday.”

“Omba,” Alex reached for Aubie to get his attention. “Obee, Dadee!” He patted Eric’s chest, “DA-DEE.”

“nnnDaa!” Aubie tried to imitate Alex and then giggled.

“Ee-ah, Obee, DADEE.”

“DA!”

Eric was fascinated watching Alex try to teach his little brother.

“DADEE!”

Aubie looked up at Eric and said, “DADA!”

“Very good, Auberon! Alex, that’s a very good boy, teaching little brother to talk!”

“Eeah, Obee ma bwuddah.”

“Yes, he’s your brother. He’s talking, isn’t he?”

“Eeah, Obee dokkeen.”

Aubie let out a big yawn and laid his head on Eric’s chest.

“Obee seepeen.”

“Yes, he’s getting sleepy.”

“Ahm undwy.”

“Alright, let’s get Aubie settled here in this little bouncer.” He let Alex down and Alex sat patiently on the floor while Eric got Aubie settled into one of the little carriers they had used earlier. Aubie was yawning again and Eric rocked the little carrier for a minute until he fell asleep.

The insulated bag held a covered, plastic, divided plate and it was fairly full of food. Eric decided the easiest thing would be to sit on the floor and hold Alex on his lap, so he settled between the boys and fed Alex, who devoured the stuff in the dish, which turned out to be a baby’s version of mac and cheese, strained peas, and peaches.”

“Dat beejes, Dadee?”

“It looks like peaches. Taste it,” he gave him a spoonful, and Alex said, “dood beejes,” which cracked Eric up. By the time the plate was clean, Alex was yawning, too, so Eric quickly moved Aubie and Alex into the bedroom, and was getting Sookie’s Ambrosia when Jerry came down the stairs.

“Your majesty?”

“Yes, come in, Jerry.”

“Am I interrupting?”

“No, you’re right on time. I was just going to give Sookie her drink and then go to rest. Thank you for beginning so early.”

“Not a problem. I wouldn’t leave them alone, either, if I were you. I was hoping you would make this change, anyway.”

“Well, we didn’t want to over-stress the staff, but after a specific attempt on one of the boys, I feel we have no choice.”

“Nobody feels stressed, your majesty. We all want the little Princes to be safe.”

“Thank you, Jerry.” Eric smiled at him as he sat next to Alex and Sookie on the bed. “Sookie, my Angel, you must wake up and drink.”

“Huh? Oh, OK. Hi, Jerry.”

“Good morning, your majesty.”

Sookie sat up a little and drank the cup Eric offered. “Have a seat, Jerry, and I’m going to tell you the same thing I tell Bjorn – none of that “your majesty” stuff in the house. You can be formal when we’re out around people, but in the house, family calls me “Sookie,” got it?”

“Yes, ma’am,” he laughed as he sat next to the window. Eric handed him the bottle and he stored it in the little fridge, then Eric kissed Sookie deeply, then Alex and he walked around to kiss Aubie.

“Anything I need to know before you go?” Sookie asked him

“Alex taught Auberon to say “Dada.””

“Oh, that’s so sweet!”

“It was very cute. I think he’s beginning to feel protective of him, which is the best possible attitude.”

“Yeah, it is. OK, rest well.”

“Sweet dreams, my Angel.” He bent and gave her one more kiss, and went to his cache. His mind swirled with trying to calculate all the potential repercussions from the Fae. He concluded that Niall or a single team of assassins was the most likely to strike. Niall wouldn’t want it to be generally known that he could not control Sookie, or her husband. Any action he’d take would be covert, but it also would very likely be some time far in the future. Striking too soon could prompt too many connections to Cullach’s assassination. As he waited for sleep, Freyja gave him a vision of what Sookie had done, so he could see for himself how powerful She could be when She chose to.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s