LATE Chapter 095

Cut from the Same Cloth

 

“Bjorn, come here.”

“Yes, Eric?”

“Do you see the man in the red silk shirt under the exit light?”

“Yes.”

“And the woman in the blue and green dress on the dance floor?”

“Yes.”

“And a man in a dark suit, sitting by himself eating.”

“Yes.”

“I have reason to believe they mean us harm. What do you recommend?”

“I need more information. You and Sookie go dance and see if Sookie can get information from the woman. I’m going to send an undercover Were female after the man having dinner, and I’ll take the guy in the red.”

“Good. Sookie, let’s dance.”

She accepted his hand and he led her to the dance floor, pulling her close and whispering in her ear, “the woman in the blue and green dress. Listen in on her and think what you hear back to me – can you do that?”

“Yeah, of course.”

Eric swung her around, making her laugh and getting them right up next to the woman, who was dancing with a very distinguished Vampire who looked about 50 but you just knew he was much, much older. Eric pulled Sookie close and didn’t speak so she could concentrate and she picked up ‘disgusting bloodsuckers. I can’t wait to kill a few.’ Sookie looked Eric in the eye and thought the phrase to him as hard as she could. Eric sent back “got it. I’ll tell Bjorn. Keep listening.” Eric twirled her again and dipped her, making her giggle like a girl and provoking the woman to think ‘enjoy it while you can, fang banger – we’ll see if you’re laughing at 11:15.’

‘ERIC!’ Sookie thought, ‘something is going to happen at 11:15!”

‘Alright,’ Eric replied telepathically, ‘Amunet is still out here – ask her to dance and keep listening.’ And he kissed Sookie’s hand and walked toward Bjorn without a word.

Bjorn was standing where the man in the red silk shirt had been, and the female Were guard, who looked like just another pretty girl that might work here if you weren’t a Supe who could tell the difference, was sitting with the gentleman who had been eating alone.

“Sookie, you lost your King!” Amunet joked as she and her husband, Prince Badru, came closer.

“You know how it is – he has duties he has to perform. Would you like to dance with me while I wait?”

“Marvelous idea. That will allow me to talk to Giselle while she’s not busy,” the Prince bowed to her and gave her Amunet’s hand. The two women moved closer, leaving no space between them, but leaning back a little to chat. Sookie was wearing her emergency smile, so Amunet whispered in her ear, “to whom are we listening?”

Sookie looked at her surprised and thought ‘the woman in blue and green.’ Amunet gave her a sly smile and they moved closer to the woman and heard the woman think they were ‘sinners’ and would burn in a ‘lake of fire’ which was Sookie’s first hint that these were religious fanatics. Great.

Amunet was leading, so she spun Sookie so that Amunet bumped the woman’s back. “Sorry, dear,” she put her hand on the woman’s shoulder, “I’m not used to dancing with one so petite. Having a good night?” Amunet was smooth, and Sookie knew she was smart, too.

“Oh, uh, yes, I am.”

“Which Vampire are you with? I didn’t see you come in…?” She kept her hand on the woman’s shoulder the whole time they spoke.

“Oh, uh, you wouldn’t know him.”

“Oh, well, let me know if you want me to introduce you. I know a really cute Were who’s unattached.”

The woman looked shocked. “Oh, thanks. And thank you, sir, for the dance. I think I’d like to go to the ladies’ room now.” The gentleman Vampire bowed to her and she scurried off to the ladies’ room outside the door that Bjorn had staked out.

“Give her a minute, Sookie, then we’ll follow. She’s got a military background. I think there are 4 of them here. They came in as wait staff but got access through a grocery supply company that wasn’t vetted by security.”

“How do you know all that?”

“When I touched her. I’m psychic – I can read people very well if I touch them. It’s a kind of empathic ability.”

“I thought empaths were healers?”

“Most are. I can heal, too, but reading is my forte,”

“I heard religious stuff from her. Military and religious sounds like New Centurion…”

“OH, you know about them! I thought they were only a problem in our part of the world?”

“Yes, we’ve been wondering when they’d show up.”

“Alright, you tell your husband, I’ll tell mine and then we go to the ladies’ together as if nothing is wrong, but ready for a fight.”

“Done. Meet me over there – we only have until 11:15.”

Amunet gave Sookie a kiss on the cheek to make it look good, then wiggled over to her husband to tell him there was a problem and what they knew. Sookie skipped over to Eric with a big smile on her face and acted like she was being flirty.

“Hey, boys, guess what I heard?”

“Military background?” Bjorn said

“Exactly, and they’re religious fanatics. Amunet thinks there are four of them.”

“Amunet?” Eric asked, surprised. He didn’t know what she and Sookie had been up to.

“She’s an empath – she touched her.”

“Damn, Sookie, what Intel could do with the two of you,” Bjorn laughed and shook his head.

“Where’s red shirt?” Sookie hugged Eric around the waist, still pretending to be flirting.

“Being interrogated by my men. Jamie, the girl, is trying to get the diner out so our guys can nab him. You say there’s a fourth somewhere?”

“That’s what Amunet said. We’re going to go to the ladies’ room and see what that lady is up to.”

“Be careful, Sookie,” Eric said with some concern.

“Always.” Sookie winked at him. He smiled, recognizing the same answer he always gave her when she told him to be careful. He knew she could handle herself, but anyone can get hurt.

Amunuet zipped on over and grabbed Sookie’s hand and they giggled and went through the door.

“Don’t worry, Eric,” Bjorn told him, “Sookie’s an army all by herself, and I’ve got a feeling Amunet can handle herself, too.”

“They might have to,” Eric said with a smile, leaning back on the wall, pretending he and Bjorn were just shooting the breeze. “You know this is New Centurion?”

“It has to be. FOTS couldn’t get in here. It took several stages for them to get in here. This took good intel, planning and training. OK, Jamie’s got him up and they’re coming this way.”

They let the man get out the door, then followed.

Amunet was the first through the door to the ladies’ room, pulling Sookie behind her. The woman was in the back stall, and Sookie walked down there and stared at the door, whispering, “show me.” It was as if the door disappeared, and Sookie could see the woman arming a bomb. Without even thinking, Sookie made the toilet shoot water up into the air and all over the woman and the device. She shrieked, and Amunuet hid just inside the door as a man came running in, gun drawn “Alice, you OK?” He pointed the gun straight at Sookie.

“She’s having plumbing problems. You should lower that gun,” Sookie told him calmly.

“You fucking whore, I should blow you away.”

Amunet and Sookie spoke in unison. “Take him.”

The man was besieged by birds that knocked him to the ground. The gun fell, but didn’t discharge, and Sookie grabbed it, turning it on him. “Alright, you stand up and you,” she pounded on the stall door, “come out of there, slowly.”

It’s a laptop purchased from HSN. The numbers are rubbed off the bottom the visible part is CND 6110 then it’s an “R” or an “h” and that’s all I can see. The screen is broken-how can I have it repaired?

“I’m not moving!” The woman said defiantly

“You want to meet the birds that just took your friend down, Alice?” Sookie said angrily, “because you’re coming out of there, dead or alive. The only question is whether you still have eyes when you do.”

Amunet grinned wickedly from the corner, staying back so she couldn’t be seen by anyone coming in the door in case the first guy was followed. Sookie was tougher than she’d dared hope.

“What are you?”

“I’m the bitch that’s going to see that you pay for trying to kill innocent people.”

“There’s not an innocent soul in this den of iniquity.”

“You’d be surprised how innocent some of the souls here are. They’re not filled with hate like you are, you pathetic bigot. Now come out of there…”

“I’ve got a bomb!”

“Now you don’t,” Sookie hissed. O 

 ( 

 The woman shrieked as the bomb disappeared from her hands. Another man came bursting through the door, saying, “Alice, is that you?” but before the women could react Bjorn hit him in the head from the back with a .45 just as Amunet tripped him. “Hey, Sookie, you in there?”

“Yes, come in.”

“What the hell…”

“OK, we’ve got three of them accounted for,” Sookie told him, “where’s the fourth?”

“We’ve got him in custody.”

“This one in the stall was trying to arm a bomb. There might be more!” Sookie told him, not taking her eyes or the gun off the men on the floor.

“Where’s the bomb.”

“It went away.” Sookie said, looking him right in the eye so he knew she did it.

“What the hell happened to this one?”

Sookie and Amunet spoke at once “Falcons.”

The two women looked at each other and laughed, knowing both of them were able to access the same entity.

“WHAT ARE YOU?” The woman in the stall was becoming hysterical. Military training or not, things like this simply weren’t supposed to be possible in the real world.

“You come out of that stall or you won’t live long enough to find out!” Sookie hit the door with her left fist and it disappeared. The woman inside screamed, but didn’t get much out because Sookie hit her with the gun, taking her cue from Bjorn. Sookie was tired of fucking around with extremists. The woman was on her knees bleeding as two of Eric’s guards came in and took her away, then two more took the first man, and two more the second.

“Bjorn, we need to know if there are more bombs,” Sookie said.

“Yeah, it’s almost 11.”

“Sookie, if you have telekinesis, can’t you bring them to you or send them away?” Amunet asked her.

“Bjorn, you think I can do that without blowing us up?” Sookie asked.

“Yeah, but not in here. Come with us, Hon, I’ll show you where.”

“Can I come too? I don’t want to miss anything!” Amunet said

“Yeah, they tried to kill you, too. I might need you!” Sookie said and grabbed her hand. They followed Bjorn to a hidden passageway that you had to know the trick to opening. He took them down 4 flights of steps so they were under the club in a basement even more sinister looking than the one in Fangtasia. There were no round beds down here, just dark corridors that went down and down. Bjorn punched a code into a control panel and opened a door and they entered a room full of people. Eric was there, standing next to Badru, Giselle and a Vampire Sookie didn’t know who was wearing an old-fashioned suit with gold embroidery on the wide cuffs of the jacket. The four prisoners were tied to posts. They hadn’t been tortured, though one looked badly beaten, but Sookie knew it was only a matter of time.

“Why are they here?” Eric wanted to know. Sookie didn’t need to see this part of his job.

“I’m going to have Sookie call the bombs into the demo room,” Bjorn told him.

“Sookie, do you think you can?” Eric hadn’t thought of it, either.

“All we can do is try, but I made one upstairs disappear. Give me something to focus on – a rug or a piece of board or something…” Sookie asked.

One of the guards picked up a rubber mat by a different door. “Like this?”

“Yeah, exactly! Put that where you want the bombs to land.”

Bjorn nodded, understanding she wanted a target to aim them at so they didn’t land in her hands. He took the mat and opened another door and threw the mat inside on the floor. Sookie followed him and asked, “what’s this room?”

“We can destroy bombs in it without damaging the rest of the building. Put them in there, and do it fast. It’s 11:11.”

“OK,” Sookie took a deep breath, grounded her energy, pointed at the mat and said “all the bombs in this building.” and suddenly there was a pile of boxes and wires in front of them. Bjorn quickly closed the door and twisted a big wheel of a thing on it that Sookie thought looked like it belonged in a submarine.

“Come on, don’t stand here,” Bjorn took her arm and took her back to the group.

“How many?” Eric asked.

“I counted six.”

“He told us 7.”

“I made one disappear in the ladies’ room,” Sookie reminded him.

“Witch! Witch! You demon from Hell!” The woman bomber, now tied to a metal chair, screeched at Sookie. Sookie waved her hand dismissively and the woman’s mouth was instantly covered with duct tape. Bjorn laughed out loud and the Regents all looked at Sookie with surprise.

Sookie shrugged and said, “I don’t want to hear it.”

“Why is she wet, Sookie?” Eric asked.

“I made the toilet explode on her,” she told him, provoking a look of surprise to which she replied, “what? She was trying to arm a bomb! My first instinct was to douse it.’

“When did you make it disappear?” Eric wondered

“When she wouldn’t come out of the stall and tried to threaten us with it.”

“Sookie finally got tired of fucking with her and made the door disappear, then pistol whipped her,” Bjorn said proudly in front of everyone. “I told you – that little girl is an army all by herself.”

For emphasis, the room shook, the clock having hit 11:15. Bjorn called upstairs on his walkie-talkie and confirmed that there were no explosions anywhere in the building. “All clear, your majesty.”

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, even if they didn’t breathe.

“Well, that was certainly a crisis averted,” Prince Badru said. “Your Queen saved many lives tonight, Northman, and most of them will never know.”

“Yes, I’m pleased you other regents were here. If I had made such a claim without witnesses, people would think me mad,” Eric laughed as Bjorn was notifying the flyers stationed with the boys in the penthouse that the coast was clear.

“She’s vwery special, Eric. The Goddess has truly blessed you,” Giselle said happily. She liked Sookie from the minute she laid eyes on her. She’d seen many people over the centuries and a light as bright as Sookie’s was rare, indeed.

“My men will deal with these prisoners. Let’s all go back to the party and confirm the security of our retinues. Giselle, you, Badru, Sarkasian and the other regents come up to the penthouse at midnight and we’ll all have a drink. Sookie will need to feed the babies, and you’ll all get to meet them.”

“Wvonderful! I cannot wvait to hold a leetle Prince een my arms!” Giselle was very excited about that. She hadn’t held an infant in 500 years, and that was what she missed most about her human life. She adored children and raised many in her human life – her own, her sisters’, and some foundlings from the village. When someone had a child they couldn’t raise, they knew if they left it at Giselle’s door, it would be taken in and loved dearly. Her favorite sound was the sound of children’s laughter. Even now, she liked baby Vampires best, no matter what they looked like. No matter how old they were when they were turned, baby Vampires still needed a lot of care. These days, she welcomed orphaned “babies” whose makers died before they were seasoned. In life and as an undead, she was still beloved and called “Mama.”

Eric hoped Sookie would learn to like Giselle, because he knew she’d greatly favor their children and she was a powerful ally to have. In the Vampire world, Austria was a kind of hub for power and influence as well as money. If she took to the children, as he was sure she would, she could open a lot of doors for his sons, or at least Alex, if they had political aspirations beyond King. Eric would open as many doors for them as he could, but to have such a connection in Europe, where the majority of Vampires still lived, would be valuable indeed. Even if Eric and Sookie took the positions for which they seemed destined, good connections around the globe would be important for the boys.

They went out another secret passage that brought them near an elevator, then went to the third floor. The party was still going strong, no one showing any sign that there had been a problem. Sookie went straight to the table to get the box of chocolates, which she intended to hold onto for dear life. It also occurred to her that she’d like to have a steady source of these special treats. A server came around with a cart to replenish the lazy susan, adding some new things, and taking old away.

“Excuse me,” Sookie said to the young woman, “do you know if Selena will be in tomorrow?”

“The one who makes the candies? Yes, she’s supposed to come in for the meeting at noon, then work on stock for the week.”

“Will you ask her to come to the penthouse sometime after 12 and ask for Queen Sookie? I’d really like to speak to her privately.”

“Of course, your majesty, I’ll tell her now.”

“Thank you so much,” Sookie said as the girl turned to go into the kitchen with her message. Eric was working the room, so Sookie spun the lazy susan and added the remainder of the bloodrose candies she tried first to the box from the kitchen. She was also very pleased to find that among the new items on the tray was big bowl of beluga caviar and a few fixin’s so since it was technically her party, she pulled the containers off the server and made herself a little assembly line for maximum caviar consumption.

“A woman after my own heart!” Amunet was coming back to the table laughing.

Sookie made a come here motion and said, “join me, No fish egg is safe!” she laughed and Amunet accepted a toast point full of beluga and crème fraiche from her.

“Mmmm – beluga!”

“You can tell the difference?” Sookie asked

“Yes. I’ve spent more than a few afternoons with platters of caviar and a good chick flick. At this point, I can recognize most of them with my eyes closed.”

“Are you coming up to the penthouse?”

“Of course – I’m dying to see baby Vampires!”

“I wonder if the kitchen would make us a big platter of caviar and stuff?”

“Of course they would, Darling! You’re the Queen – they work for you.”

“I never think like that.”

“You’ll learn. You just haven’t realized that you can be assertive without being entitled and spoiled. You’re still at the stage where you apologize for your wealth.”

“Yeah…” Sookie realized that was true. “I guess I do.”

“Anyone with a conscience goes through the same thing. That conscience will keep you from going too far, so just don’t let it stop you altogether. You’re allowed to enjoy your money,” she said and Sookie laughed.

A server was going from table to table seeing if anyone needed drinks or anything from the kitchen.

“Here comes a server, Sookie. Tell him what you want – don’t be afraid, and don’t forget the champagne.”

“Hi, can I bring you anything from the bar or the kitchen?” the young man offered.

“Actually, you could do me a favor. I’m Queen Sookie, and I’m having guests up to the penthouse in a few minutes. I’d love a large platter of caviars and all the trimmings but no citrus, and some good champagne for the humans in the party, and a couple of bottles of that carbonated blood for the Vampires, please. Can you tell the kitchen?”

“Of course, your majesty, what time do you want it?”

“Between 12 and 12:30 would be perfect. Thanks so much!”

“Sookie!” Eric was coming up behind them. “Did you order food, Sweetheart?”

“I ordered some carbonated blood and a big platter of caviar and champagne for us upstairs. Is that OK?”

“Of course, it is. That’s actually a very good idea. I’m glad to see you thinking of your guests.”

“Mostly I was thinking of us. Amunet and I are going to wail on the caviar,” Sookie laughed and the other two did as well. Eric loved to see Sookie indulge herself.

“Amunet, your husband said he will meet you up there. He had something to do before hand so he suggested you go up with Sookie and me.”

“Alright, good idea.” Amunet would take all the time she could get with Sookie. It had been a long time since she’d met one like herself. It was such a relief!

“Are we ready to go, Eric?” Sookie asked.

“Yes, we are. Shall we, Ladies?” He offered each of them a hand to help them stand and then offered them each an arm and they started to the door of the room where Bjorn was waiting with a security detail. Bjorn led them into the elevator, trying not to laugh.

“Alright, Bjorn, what is so amusing?” Eric kidded him once they were in the elevator car.

“It’s just like you to leave a party with the two best looking women in the room, your majesty.”

“I do count myself very lucky, indeed, at the moment, escorting my lovely Queen and her beautiful new friend.”

“Bjorn, where’s Bobbie?” Sookie just realized she hadn’t seen her in a long time.

“She and Amelia went down to the Disco for a while.”

“There’s a Disco?” Sookie didn’t know about this.

“Yes, but they play modern, hip-hop stuff.” Bjorn explained.

“Do you want to go dance later, Sookie?” Eric offered

“No, I’m just surprised there is one.”

“The room we were in, the Romanoff Room, is the most exclusive in the building. It’s a little more sedate than the party rooms.”

“What goes on in the party rooms?”

“Dancing, flirting, mingling.” Eric explained “Sookie, there are no dungeons or kink rooms on the grounds. It’s not that kind of place. That’s of no interest to very old, wealthy Vampires, and if it were, there are lots of places to find it. They want a safe place to meet healthy humans for a little romance and fantasy without being afraid that they’ll be jumped in the bathroom or the parking lot by FOTS fanatics, drained by v dealers, or staked and robbed by some young hustler.”

“Sookie, you’re not upset about the purpose of the clubs, surely?” Amunet asked

“I don’t know – I think maybe I don’t really understand the whole deal.”

“Have you seen anything offensive yet, Sookie?” Eric asked

“No, but I’ve only been in one room.”

“You saw people there engaging hosts and hostesses.”

“They were?”

“Yes, very discreetly.”

“People were hooking up right in front of me and I didn’t even know it?”

“Yes. Now, if you’d followed them to the private rooms, you’d have seen more explicit activity, but that happens in any hotel.”

“Sookie, the community has been in need of something like this since the Great Revelation,” Amunet told her. “It has become a very dangerous time to be a Vampire, especially since their blood is being black-marketed. There aren’t enough girls like us to go around,” Amunet said with complete seriousness.

Everybody, Sookie included, cracked up at that, and they arrived at the penthouse floor so they were onto other topics. There were armed guards at the entrance to the suite who opened the door for them and they continued on into the room.

“FABULOUS!” Amunet said as she entered the room. “The décor is stunning!

“MMAMMA!”

“DADEE!”

“Oops, Daddy, guess who’s awake!” Sookie laughed and skipped over to the playpen, picking up Aubie for a big hug and kiss and Eric picked Alex up for the same. “Amunet, this is Alex and Auberon, but we call him Aubie for short, and this is my assistant Alicia.”

“Hello,” she nodded to Alicia. “What beautiful babies!”

“AH!” Alex gave her a big wave and a smile.

“Ah!” Aubie tried to do the same thing Alex did.

Alex made his “come here” motion, opening and closing his hands, leaning toward Amunet, who was shocked that he would let her hold him. She took Alex from Eric and he hugged her, then patted her cheek and said, “Dat, Dadee?

“Her name is Lady Amunet.”

“Waby Amuhdeh.”

Amunet laughed with delight, “that’s very good, Alex!” Alex giggled, clapped his hands and kissed her cheek.

“Alex, you’re such a flirt!” Sookie teased him.

“Ah wyg dat.”

“You like HER, Alex,” Eric corrected him.

“Ah wyg uh!”

Amunet laughed and rubbed his back, kissing his cheek.

“Um, Bumby!” Aubie liked the fact that she kissed Alex even more than Alex did, and he was beside himself.

“Yeah, Buddy’s being a flirt, isn’t he, Aubie?” Sookie bounced him.

“Obee ma widdow buggy,” Alex patted Amunet’s cheek and pointed at Aubie.

Sookie translated, “Aubie is his little buddy.” Eric was about to burst watching the boys entertain their guest, Aubie occasionally giggling and hiding in Sookie’s hair.

“They’re adorable! Does Aubie speak?” Amunet wondered.

“A little,” Sookie explained, “he’s just learning his first few words. “Bumby,” or Buddy, is his favorite. Alex is teaching him, though, so we think he might catch up eventually.”

Bjorn was leading some of the Regents in, so Eric stepped forward to welcome them. “Come in, please!”

“Hi, everybody, come on in!” Sookie greeted the others, then turned back to Amunet. “Are we going to be the only humans?”

“More or less, but then, we’re only more or less human,” she laughed and Sookie did, too. “The babies look so much alike, but they’re not really identical, are they?”

“No, they’ve got some distinct differences…” Sookie didn’t know how much to say.

“Don’t worry,” Amunet whispered, “the charm will protect him.”

Sookie looked shocked, wondering how she knew about the charm.

“Why else would you put jewelry on a baby?” she explained softly, “and especially on one and not the other. Is this the first time he’s meeting Vampires?”

“Outside of family, yes, it is…”

“It’s a good place to test, but I don’t think there will be a problem. He’s Fae, yes? They’ll have more of a problem with Alex than the Vampires will with a Faerie.”

“You think so?”

“Yes. The Vampires will consider him lucky to have Eric for a father, but the Fae will always mistrust Alex.”

“I guess I can see that…”

Room service arrived with the refreshments just as Sookie was summoned by Eric to meet an Australian regent.

“Go ahead, I’ll handle the food.” Amunet urged her. She directed one waiter to put the big platter of caviar on the dining room table and the other to pour drinks for the guests who were gathering on the couches and chairs in the living area. There was a platter for the Vampires, too, so it was put out on the coffee table in the center of the party.

“Sookie, Sweetheart, you didn’t get to meet Robert Sarkasian earlier.” He introduced the man who had been in the basement with the gold embroidery on his sleeve. “He’s based in Australia.”

“It’s very nice to meet you.” She shuffled Aubie to her left arm and offered her right hand, which he kissed rather than shook.

“The pleasure is mine, my Dear. That was quite an impressive performance earlier.”

“Oh, thanks – I’m so glad it worked!”

“You’ve never tried it before?”

“No, I’m sort of just learning to use my abilities.”

“On the job training, then,” the man laughed and Sookie and Eric did, too. Giselle was coming in the door with a nice looking young man, and Eric excused himself, quickly taking Alex from Amunet to meet her.

“Giselle! Welcome!”

“Ah! Meine Göttin, Erik, was für ein Schatz!” [My Goddess, Eric, what a darling!]

“Danke, Giselle! Alexander, this is Giselle.”

“Ah!” Alex waved hello and played cute for the new people, who were interesting because they were like Daddy! He didn’t meet many of those!

Giselle was frozen for a moment, overtaken with emotion. Alex, as if on cue, made his “come here” motion and went to her enthusiastically. Giselle pulled him close, taking in his scent, laying her cheek against his head and rubbing his little back. “Ein hübsches Wunder!” [A beautiful miracle!] “He smells so sveet, Erik. Ees dat naturel?”

“Yes, he takes that after Sookie, I think. She has an unusually sweet scent.”

“Dat strrong cheen – he ees de vwery imache uf you, Erik!”

“Thank you, Giselle. And this is Auberon.” He motioned for Sookie to bring the other baby.

“Ein elf! Zweieiige Zwillinge?” [An elf! Non-identical twins?] She was surprised because the news of Aubie being Fae wasn’t out yet.

“Ja, ein bisschen anders.” Eric replied as if it was no big deal. [Yes, a little bit different.]

“Darf ich  ihn halten?” [May I hold him?]

“Natürlich darfst du!” [Of course you may!]

Sookie held her breath as Giselle shifted Alex to one side and took Aubie in her other arm.

“Solch ein süßes Baby! Er ist so schön wie seine Mutter! [Such a sweet baby! He is beautiful like his mother!”]

“Ja, sehr!” [Yes, very!] Eric agreed, telepathically sending the translation of what she had said to Sookie. “Won’t you have a seat, Giselle? The boys seem very content with you.” He pointed her to a large easy chair and she sat down still holding the babies. Sookie was still a little nervous, but became less so every minute. The woman really did seem to adore the boys. Giselle’s escort, Rolf, stepped forward and took a picture of her with the babies with her cell phone.

“Obee ma widdow buggy!”

Giselle was enchanted, looking to Eric for translation as he knelt next to her chair.

“He’s telling you that Aubie is his little Buddy,” Eric explained.

“You are a vwery smart leetle boy, yes?”

“Eeah, ahm smard,” Alex nodded, to Giselle’s delight.

“Auberon, who is that?” Eric prompted Aubie, pointing to Alex.

“Bumby!” Aubie pointed and giggled.

“Yes, Buddy!” Eric translated, proud as a peacock.

“Dat, Dadee?” Alex patted her cheek.

“He wants to know your name, Giselle. What should they call you?”

“How about Gigi?”

“Alex, that is Gigi.”

“Chichi?”

“Yes, leetle one, that ees excellent. Ve veel be gut friends, you und I, yes? Und you, Auberon, can you say Gigi?”

“Obee – Chichi!” Alex reached for Aubie’s hand to get his attention, then patted Giselle’s cheek again. “Chichi!”

“Yiyi!” Aubie tried his best to copy Alex, waving his little arms and giggling.

“Wundervoll!”

“Very good, Auberon!” Eric beamed at him and rubbed his back.

“Obee dokkeen dood!”

“Yes, Aubie is talking good,” Eric translated, gently stroking Alex’s head. “Alex is a very good teacher.”

“Mamee, Obee undwy!”

“OK, Sweetie, I’ll get him.” Sookie stepped forward and took Auberon, sitting at the dining room table with Amunet as Alicia hooked a nursing cover around her neck.

“You speek for your leetle bruther, yes?”

“Eeah, ahm a biggah boh-ee.”

“I’m a bigger boy.” Eric translated.

“Dadee – mudik!” Alex pointed to the playpen. Eric couldn’t see what he wanted, so Alicia, who was hovering in the background in case she was needed, handed him the little Baby Einstein music player that was hidden by the blanket, switching it on. Alex squealed when he saw it, clapping his hands as Eric gave it to him. “Woogie, Chichi, mudik!” Alex pushed a big button on the front of the little white baby iPod-looking thing and it began to play a sweet classical tune, flashing colored lights, making Alex squeal and laugh and thrilling Giselle beyond belief.

“It’s playing Mozart!” she said with delight.

“Sookie, what is this thing?” Eric asked her as she and Amunet munched on blinis and caviar as Sookie nursed Aubie.

“Alicia brought that for the trip. It’s a music player that he can work himself. They love the flashing lights. She gave it to them on the plane today and they were mesmerized by it.”

“So I see. He loves it. Excellent choice, Alicia.”

“Thank you, your majesty. He loves anything that makes noise, but I think that’s his favorite so far because it’s small and he can take it to bed. He played it over and over when we put them down earlier.”

“Ah wyg mudik, Chichi!”

“Perhaps you veel be a musician some day, yes?”

“Eeah. Ahm a Pwinzth!”

“He’s a Prince. I’m surprised he remembers that word,” Eric said, impressed because it had been a while since he told that to Alex. “What else are you, Alex?”

“Dadee’s widdo bampaya!”

“Daddy’s little Vampire! Very good.”

Giselle actually cracked up when she realized what Alex had said. “Und vat ees Auberon?”

“Dadee’s widdo eff!”

“Daddy’s little elf! Where did you learn that, Alex?” Eric was surprised he said that.

“Dadee!”

“From me?”

“Eeah, Dadee “ewwo ma widdo eff!”” Alex actually tried to imitate Eric’s deep voice, making everyone laugh.

“He’s right, Sweetie,” Sookie said from behind him, “almost every day, when you first see Aubie, you say “hello, my little elf.” Alex picked up on it.”

“I guess I do, don’t I. I wasn’t even aware of it.”

“Alex was,” Sookie said proudly. “He doesn’t miss much.”

“Rolf, bring de presents I brought for de bebés, pleese.”

The attractive young man with sandy brown hair and hazel eyes who accompanied Giselle brought a bag forward and they took two wrapped presents out of it.

“Theese von ees for Alex, und theese von ees for Auberon.” She handed Alex a package wrapped in red foil paper with white ribbon to Alex and Eric took the one in blue foil with yellow ribbons to hold until Aubie was able to open it.

“Dayoo!” Alex said as he looked at the package.

“Alex, what color is this?” Eric asked him

“Wed an wyd. Woogie, Dadee, Obee dod boo an ewwo!”

Eric laughed and told Giselle, who was absolutely in love with this child already, “He seems to like yellow a great deal. It’s the first color he picked out for me in his little books.”

“Do you rread to heem?”

“Yes, we have some quiet time every night when we have a bottle and read a book, don’t we, Alex?”

“Eeah, an Obee wee.”

“And Aubie reads with us, too, sometimes.”

“Eric, Alex needs a little help opening that,” Sookie spoke from the table. “Tear the corner for him so he knows what to do.”

“Look, Alex, pull this,” he indicated the white ribbon and Alex pulled it open, then Eric tore the paper and Alex got the idea immediately, making his “haaaaa!” sound as he tore the paper. “What is that, Alex?”

“Won, doo, fee, fo, fie!”

“Yes, it has 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 on it. Very good, Alex.”

“Hey, did he say “2?”” Sookie asked, surprised at this new development.

“Yes, he did. This is called a Baby Einstein Count and Compose Piano, Alex. You can play music with this!”

“Mudik! Pway mudik, Dadee!” Alex was excited and waving his little arms.

Eric took the toy out of the little box and Giselle said, “Eet hass batterries een eet.”

“Alright,” Eric found the on switch, and pressed a key, causing it to play a little melody and setting lights to flashing. Alex squealed with delight and hugged it, then turned and said, “dayoo, Chichi!” giving her a hug with one arm, the other not letting go of the little piano, and a kiss on the cheek.

Giselle hadn’t felt happiness like that since she’d become Vampire, and tears of blood leaked from her eyes. Rolf quickly handed her a tissue and she delicately dabbed at the corners of her eyes as she lovingly stroked Alex’s hair as he explored the moving parts on the toy with Eric’s help. “Woogie, Mamee, mudik!”

“Yeah, that’s a nice piano! You’ll have lots of fun with that!”

“EEAH!” Alex squealed again and pushed a button.

The other Vampires in the room were virtually silent, except to accept an occasional refill on the carbonated blood, The concept of a baby Vampire was so extraordinary that they all wanted to watch everything he did. They were nearly as taken with them as Giselle.

“Daygid om, Dadee?”

“Yes, you can take it home with you. That was very nice of Gigi, wasn’t it?”

“Eeah, ah WUV Chichi.”

Giselle just lost it at that and hugged Alex tightly, giving him a big kiss. “Süßer, schöner Junge!” [Sweet, beautiful boy!] Alex was more than happy to have the hugs and kisses and he knew the woman was praising him, even if he didn’t know the words. He could feel love pouring from her all over him in Mommy’s favorite color, “peek”

“Chichi, dat por Obee?”

“He’s asking if that one is for Aubie.” Eric translated.

“Yes, vwen he is done vwith Mama, he can open eet.”

“I think he’s done, now that you mention it,” Sookie said. “Eric, you want to take him?”

“Yes, of course.” Eric got up and went to take Aubie from Sookie. He settled Aubie into Giselle’s lap, and took Alex away, but Alex insisted on standing at her chair so he could see what Aubie got. They gave the wrapped present to Aubie and he looked at it with surprise and interest.

“Eric, I just realized, he’s never had a wrapped present before. This is his first!”

“Wundervoll!” Giselle loved that idea. Eric guided Aubie’s hands to untie the ribbon, then he tore the blue paper and encouraged Aubie, “Pull that, Auberon and we’ll see what is inside!” He helped Aubie pull the paper and he made his happy sound as it tore. He was fascinated as Eric opened the box and pulled out a Baby Einstein Discovery Plush Bard the Learning Dragon, according to the box.

“DWADON! Obee, dwadon!”

“Yes, it’s a dragon, isn’t it?” Eric confirmed. Giselle squeezed the soft tummy of the toy and it played a sound, which made Aubie squeal and clap, then he hugged it tight.

“Obee wyg dat dwadon, Chichi!”

“Alex is telling you that Aubie likes that dragon.” Eric beamed at both boys. Aubie was looking all over the dragon and Giselle squeezed it again so it made more sounds and Aubie and Alex both squealed. “Dood dwadon! Ahm undwy, Dadee!”

“Do you want food, Alex?”

“Nah, Mamee ee.”

“Come here, baby, I’ll feed you,” Sookie laughed and Alex patted Giselle’s hand, saying “woogie, Chichi!” then he turned and toddled over to Sookie who was bending down waiting to catch him.

“Heilige Göttin, hee ees vwalking!”

“He just started the day before yesterday,” Eric said proudly.

Aubie was giggling and clapping, “Um, Bumby!”

“Aubie says, “go, Buddy!”” Sookie laughed as she put Alex to her breast under the nursing cover.

Giselle was enchanted showing Aubie how to squeeze parts of the little dragon and make it say numbers and colors, and play tunes. What he lacked in verbal ability he made up for with pure cute. Aubie’s pentacle charm dampened the Fae quality that made Vampires crazy, but it left him with his own magick that made him give off a feeling of well-being that was particularly effective with Vampires and other similar creatures. He and Alex both gave off a magick that made people feel good in their presence – Bobbie, Amelia and the servants had all noticed it – but the twins hadn’t been around outsiders enough to make it clear that it worked on everyone, but especially on Vampires. Niall hadn’t realized yet that Freyja’s magick protected the boys from Fae attacks as well, in addition to the protection that being in line as True Heir gave them both. By the time Niall realized what was happening, it was too late.

Aubie was delighted with the toy, and giggled and waved his arms every time it made a sound. It felt good, too, and he hugged it more than once, to Giselle’s delight. She played with him until he began to yawn, then she decided to give him back to his Dadee to rock to sleep. “You are sleepy, leetle von – you vwant your Dadee now, yes?”

I “Dada!” Aubie reached for Eric and Eric took him and kissed him, “My little elf is tired. He’s used to sleeping after Mommy feeds him.”

“Daba!” Aubie pointed to the dragon. Eric laughed and said affectionately, “are you trying to say ‘dragon’, Auberon? Dragon?”

“Ah! Daba!” The adults all laughed as Giselle handed Eric the dragon and he let Aubie snuggle it as he snuggled him. He knew it would take a few minutes for Aubie to go to sleep completely, so Eric sat on one of the couches with the other Vampires and accepted a glass of the carbonated blood with his right hand as he held Aubie in his left arm.

“Eric, we had thought the rumors of a twin were urban legends.” King Stefan said with all the delicacy possible. “He was not with you in New Orleans…?”

“He was with a nurse at that time. He was much smaller than Alex, as you can see, and we thought it best to keep his existence quiet for his own protection.”

“Some were concerned during the pregnancy that your child would take after its mother…” King Antoine commented in his thick French accent.

“Yes, and one of them obviously did – but one did not. My office as King would pass to Alex if anything were to happen to me.”

“And if he is not yet old enough to rule?” Stefan asked

“Then he will be Prince Regent and Sookie will take the reins until he can rule on his own. I have provided for every contingency. My staff knows what to do, should the unthinkable happen.”

“Sookie? Is she capable of this?” Sarkasian asked. She was sweet, but that doesn’t make her a Regent.

“Don’t let the gossip rags fool you,” Eric told them, “Sookie seems very sweet, and she is… until she is not. You all saw what Sookie did downstairs. I can’t go into detail, but believe me when I tell you, Sookie can be deadly with a sword, and she knows never to let an enemy come back twice. She’s every bit the warrior she would need to be.”

“She is not Vampire… and she is Fae… would she defend us from Brigant’s attacks if he were to strike again?”

“Tell them, Eric,” Sookie said from the table.

“Sookie, that would put you at great risk…”

“I’m already at risk. You have to tell them, or they won’t believe I can handle it.”

Eric considered it for a minute, then said, “Everyone but Regents must leave. This cannot leave this room, and I’m invoking King’s Rights in this matter for my family’s protection.”

Everyone was shocked, but the guards, escorts and Amunet, who patted Sookie’s back as she left, all quickly rose and walked out of the room into the corridor, leaving only the four kings, Giselle, Eric and Sookie. King’s Rights were no joke. That meant Regents only in attendance and absolute secrecy. Everyone who stayed was automatically sworn to a blood oath to keep the information they were about to hear secret, and that they would never use it against the person invoking the Rights. Sookie stood up and took off the nursing cover, putting Alex in the playpen as Eric brought Aubie over and put him next to Alex, the little dragon next to him.

“Alicia, thanks very much for your help,” Sookie said, “you can turn in for the night.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Alicia smiled at how confident Sookie was becoming in front of Eric’s associates, and she was more than happy to turn in now.

Eric let Sookie take the floor. “I know you’re all worried about my connection to Niall Brigant. Yes, he is my great grandfather. He also tried to steal Auberon from us and he murdered my great grandmother, Titania. I am Titania’s True Heir, so it’s entirely possible that I’ll be forced to kill Niall at some point in the not too distant future, or he will kill me. When I found out that Niall was hiding Auberon from us, I became relentless. At one point, Liam Cullach sent assassins to kill Auberon where Niall had him hidden. I was warned by Our Lady Freyja, and I killed the assassins and was finally able to get away with Auberon. Once the children were safe with Eric, I went back to Elfyria, beheaded Liam Culllach and delivered his head to Niall with a warning that if he ever tried to harm my children again, I’d have his head, too.”

“Heilige Göttin!” Giselle was shocked, but completely believed Sookie’s story for some reason.

“If you are Titania’s Heir…” Stefan began.

“I’m not planning to claim the office until 2027 when Niall can no longer rule. At that time, I’ll decide whether I want it, and if not, it will go to Auberon. By that time, the boys will be 18. Auberon would never challenge Alex’s claim as Eric’s heir, because he has his own realm to rule. As long as Niall doesn’t make me kill him, I’ll remain available until Alex is old enough to serve as Eric’s successor. Everyone who owes fealty to Eric owes fealty to me as well, and I am protected by decree by several Were packs. I can’t be harmed by Fae once they know who I am. From a Vampire perspective, I’m untouchable.”

“What you are saying is incredible,” Badru said slowly. “You are telling us that you are Titania, and that you are… favored by the Goddess Freyja, is that correct?”

“Yes,” Sookie said simply.

“Have you reached an agreement with Niall?” Badru had to entirely rethink his political goals in this context. He never dreamed this was possible.

“Not officially. I’m going to meet with him before my title is announced at the boys’ Wiccaning. I’m hoping he’ll agree to this, but even if he says yes, I’ll have to watch my back. I know he can never be trusted.”

“You are planning to name Auberon your heir to Titania’s throne?” Badru wanted to be sure he understood all the ramifications. “This will send shockwaves through the Fae realm.”

“Yes, but those shockwaves make Sookie much safer from Niall,” Eric pointed out. “Auberon and Alex will each be in line as one parent’s successor. There should be no conflict between them. If we can bring them up to care about one another…”

“Peace! There could finally be real peace between the Vampire and the Fae,” Stefan exclaimed.

“Exactly,” Eric nodded.

“Whose plan was this? It had to include at least the Council,” Sarkasian said thoughtfully.

“We only know some of the players, and we won’t endanger the ones we do know,” Eric stated firmly.

“This explains the Ancient Pythoness’ presence at your wedding – not to mention your most eventful wedding reception,” Stefan concluded. “How did they induce you to involve your family to this extent? To risk your children!”

“We were enmeshed in the plan before we knew it existed,” Eric explained.

The Regents all nodded.

“This had to come from the highest levels. It must have taken centuries to arrange this,” Badru said, “did you know before you had the children?”

“No, we found out about all of it gradually after we found out Sookie was pregnant.”

“Neither of you consented?”

“Not in this lifetime,” Sookie said honestly. “There may still be more of it we don’t know. If it helps any, the plan seems to be for Eric and I to live a long, long time, and to pass our offices down when we choose, rather than when we die.”

Badru thought to himself that this would happen when Eric and Sookie decided to move upward in the power structure, which made them very valuable allies to have. He needed to cultivate this relationship as quickly and as deeply as possible.

“There will always be opposition, Eric – never forget that there are those who profit from the status quo,” Sarkasian reminded him.

“Yes, we understand that, particularly where Niall is concerned. Sookie and I have been told that we have specific destinies to fulfill and so do our boys, and we will do our duty to the people who depend on us.”

“Almost everyone seems to benefit if we just do what they want us to do.” Sookie explained. “The only people who get hurt are the people who are hurting others. That makes it worth the effort. We never went looking for any of this – we just want to be together, and this is what we’ve been told is necessary to have that.”

“Theese ees extraordinary. Erik, do you haff enough securrity? These bebés are sacred!”

“Yes, Giselle, we have a very good security team that looks after Sookie and the boys during the day. I have Weres, Vampires and daemons on our team. I’ve extended the boundaries of our property and added the strongest fences available. Short of missiles or an aerial attack, nothing can touch us.”

“Northman, is it true about you amassing a North American Vampire army?” Stefan decided to ask him straight out.

“Yes.”

“This would be in response to New Centurion?” Badru asked.

“Yes. Tonight is not our first experience with them.”

“We have heard of no attacks,” Sarkasian reported.

“There would be no report, just as there will be none tonight. Their soldiers have a habit of disappearing when they come around.”

“That will drive Garner to become more aggressive,” Badru said.

“Yes, it probably will, and we hope to be ready for him.”

“Perhaps your Queen would be more effective in dealing with Garner than an army,” Sarkasian suggested. “A targeted approach rather than open combat.”

“Sookie’s powers are developing. It is possible we will consider such an approach at some point in the future, but she needs a great deal more practice in using her abilities before we take a chance like that. Her guards are working with her daily to develop her skills and to teach her to think to use them.”

“Yeah, like tonight – it was Amunet’s idea that I use telekinesis on the bombs,” Sookie told them. “It wouldn’t have occurred to me.”

Badru saw an opening and dived through it. “Amunet is very skilled in her use of magick. Perhaps our ladies should work together, Eric, and explore Sookie’s abilities. Not to sound immodest, but if anyone can teach Sookie to think like a Witch, it would be Amunet. She doesn’t have telekinesis, unfortunately, but she’s quite formidable with the gifts she does possess.”

“Yeah, she read that New Centurion chick like a book when she touched her shoulder,” Sookie confirmed. “I could definitely learn some things from her.”

“Perhaps we should arrange to get together again some time soon?” Eric said

“I think it would benefit your Queen greatly. Gifts such as she possesses must not be neglected when there is an enemy looming.”

“Yes, you are right.” Eric and everyone in the room agreed with that.

“Well, perhaps we should talk between now and the Wiccaning – we’ll be in attendance for that, of course.”

“Wonderful. We’ll look forward to seeing you then!” Sookie was excited because she really liked Amunet. She was cool and confident in a way Sookie always wished she could be, and she was whip-smart. “I’ll make sure she’s got my cell number before you all go home.”

“Excellent idea. Should the question of your successor ever arise, Eric, you will certainly have my support. I am satisfied that you have your second in place and you have assured Alexander’s ascent in your absence.”

All the Regents agreed that they would support Eric if the question ever came up. They were all from overseas, of course, but they all held sway both within the Vampire hierarchy and with the Global Council.

They adjourned the special conference and the others came back in. Sookie and Amunet finished off the caviar with great relish, and all the Regents except Badru Bast excused themselves for the night, Giselle taking one last look at the very pretty sleeping babies and taking a picture of them with her cell phone.

“Oh, that reminds me, I wanted to give you my cell number!” Sookie told Amunet.

“Oh, good. I’ll give you mine, too. I really want to keep in touch.” Amunet popped up and went to her husband, who had her phone in the pocket of his jacket.

“Your husband said you all are coming to the Wiccaning,” Sookie said when she came back, “I’ll be glad to have some friends there.”

“I can’t wait! I hear it’s going to be huge.”

“The High Priestess told us it might be as many as 1200 people, half of them Fae.”

“That’s why you want to announce your title?”

Sookie looked at her with shock.

“I patted your back on my way out, remember. I didn’t have time to get much, but I did get the part about Titania. It’s a great risk, but I think it’s the smart thing to do. When you have a high profile, you’re often safest “hiding in plain sight.” It gets all kinds of people looking out for you when you aren’t even aware of it.”

“That’s what Eric said when everybody was all excited about the baby. That if people know him and love him, it makes him safer.”

“He’s right about that. If staying anonymous is not an option, stay in the spotlight. Want some more champagne?” Amunet shook a mostly empty bottle of Perrier-Jouet.

“No, I’d better not. I’m feeding babies,” Sookie laughed.

“It probably won’t hurt those babies, but I know it’s better to be cautious.”

“Yeah, we try to be careful because you never know what might hurt them.”

“That’s why you’re so careful about citrus? I noticed you told them not to bring any on our platter.”

“Yes, see, it’s possible either one of them could be poisoned by lemon. I’m not allergic but we can’t even take a chance with the boys. My great grandmother was murdered with lemon.”

“You’re smart to be cautious. It’s not worth the risk. Those children are too important to take any risks.”

“Yeah, a lot of people are depending on them to grow up.”

“Apparently. What kind of teachers do you have around them?”

“School teachers – none, yet. Magick teachers, I’ve got a group of three that live with us. One, Octavia, is older and very powerful. She helps me a lot. Her student, Amelia, is one of my best friends, and then my doula, Bobbie, is a good friend and a Goddess worshiper.”

“Good. I was hoping you had instruction available. When it’s time for a school teacher, let me know – I know a Daemon tutor who will work privately and she can educate them in more than just math and history.”

“Thanks. I know we can never send them to a regular school.”

“There are Supe schools, but I don’t think that would be safe for them. Maybe in their teens, but not the primary grades.”

“Yes, I agree. We intend to keep them close to us until they can defend themselves – though Alex has defended me at times, even in the womb.”

“Really?”

“Yes, he could call down the Falcon before I ever knew about it.”

“That’s amazing. He’ll have the advantage of never learning human limitations.”

“Yes, he will. I wonder if Aubie will be able to do it? They say eventually he should be able to do everything Alex can.”

“They’ve both got Fae magick, right? That’s a huge advantage.”

“It is?”

“Oh, yes – it’s very powerful and far reaching. Do you have it?”

“I’m not sure – I think mine comes directly from Freyja.”

Amunet was shocked and impressed by that. “Really – are you a direct incarnation?”

“I think so, yes.”

“Wow – there aren’t many walking around these days. No wonder you can make bombs disappear. You’ll be nearly invincible when you’ve got your magickal muscles in shape.”

“Are you a direct incarnation?”

“I’m more what you’d call “Goddess-touched,” but I’ve worked hard to develop my skills. I’m in circle every day.”

“Wow – really?”

“Oh, yes – my husband and his subjects benefit a great deal from my work – I can’t let them down.”

“I know how that feels, but I also get scared of being drained, you know? Like I was in a disaster one time…”

“The bombing at the Pyramid?”

“Yes. There was a fire chief there that thought I should be doing that stuff every day, but I just can’t.”

“There are many ways to serve, Sookie, and still have a life. Look at what you did tonight! That was heroic, though no one will know what you did, and think of the carnage if you hadn’t!”

“Yeah – you know what scares me, though – you were the one who thought of it. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to use my telekinesis.”

“That’s where the training comes in, Darling. Are you training with swords at all?”

“Eric gave me one lesson, but we’re going to do more.”

“Think of your magick the same way. You practice form and balance and build your muscles so that when the time comes, you don’t have to think about it, you just do it.”

“I don’t know what there is to try, though – I’m not sure I know what is possible.”

“Anything is possible, so you try everything. You want me to make you a list of things you can try?”

“Yeah, actually, I do. Bjorn said he and Jerry are going to make a list, but I don’t know how much they know, either.”

“Not to worry. Let me put your email in my phone, and I’ll send you a list of things to try.”

“It’s Sookie at E dot Northman dot org. There’s an official one for the kingdom, but I don’t know it.”

“This is better. Your personal one is less likely to be hacked.”

Badru and Eric had finished their discussion and they were standing, shaking hands and agreeing to arrange some time when they could talk with Bill on August 2.

“August 2nd?” Sookie said hopefully.

“Yes, they’re going to spend the day with us after the Wiccaning. That will give you two time to discuss Witch business and at night we will have a meeting with Bill and Bjorn.”

“Oh, OK.”

“Are you ready to go, my Dear?” Badru smiled at Amunet affectionately

“Yes. Sookie it has been wonderful meeting you. I can’t wait to see you again next week. I’ll make some notes for us and we’ll spend the day doing magick.”

“Awesome!” Sookie said as she gave her a hug.

“Very pretty together, aren’t they?” Badru admired the girls.

“Very pretty and very powerful – we are very lucky men,” Eric agreed.

They all chatted pleasantries as Eric and Sookie walked them to the door and waved as they went to the elevator. Once they were inside the apartment alone, Eric grabbed Sookie and bent her over backwards with a smoldering kiss. She was a little bit dizzy when he stopped. “Wow – does that mean we’re not going back to the party?”

“Yes, my lovely wife, I think you’ve worked very hard tonight and now I will be selfish and keep you all to myself. Let me check in with Bjorn and Jerry, then we will take the boys upstairs, alright?”

“Yes, that’s really alright! Hey, is it OK if I teleport us up there?”

“Of course, my Angel, flex those muscles!” He laughed and kissed her forehead, then went to call Bjorn and Jerry into the room. Sookie bent over the playpen, put a hand on each baby and said, “bed!” and they were gone.

“Bjorn, Jerry, can we touch base before Sookie and I retire?” Eric said as he looked out the door.

“Sure thing, your majesty,” Bjorn replied and Jerry followed him into the living room.

Jerry sat on the far couch, Bjorn on the first one and Eric sat in the large white chair Giselle had been using. “Do we have any status from our prisoners this evening?”

“We know how they got in and it won’t happen again. We’re running checks on who they are and, of course, they’ll never report back.”

“Are they still alive?”

“No, your majesty, the captain of the guard here is very aggressive and got the information we wanted very efficiently. No trace will be found of them or their vehicles.”

“They had vehicles here?”

“At the supply house where they sneaked in. They’ll be tin cans by Monday afternoon.”

“Alright, I want you to follow them back to their families to find out if anyone knew what their assignment was.”

“As far as we can tell, they didn’t really have families. One of the men was married to the woman, the other two men were bachelors straight out of the military. We’ve got no evidence of any kids or parents who might come looking, but if they did, they’d go to New Centurion, not to us.”

“I wonder how many of their people would have to disappear for New Centurion to give up?” Eric said wryly, knowing this wouldn’t deter Jubal Garner. Fanatics were rarely logical enough to know they should not pursue an enemy.

“The other regents were very impressed with Sookie tonight,” Bjorn told him.

“Yes,” Eric said, “she saved a lot of people and did it with surprisingly little effort.”

“Maybe we should have her do that at every club?” Jerry suggested, he and Bjorn having already discussed the idea.

“You mean go into the demo room and call bombs whether we know they exist or not?”

“Yes. And maybe New Centurion members, too,” Bjorn said. “She opens up whole new possibilities of warfare with her telekinesis that no one would know to prepare for. It’s a huge advantage.”

“Yes, I see that. Someone suggested tonight that I send her after Garner.”

“I’ve thought about that, too,” Bjorn agreed. “She needs more training first, but it’s not a bad idea.”

“That’s my assessment as well. I want you and Jerry to continue with the program you have for her to practice, and I want you to stay with her and Amunet on the 2nd when she spends the day with Sookie and get an idea what she thinks the possibilities might be. I also want you to consider what Sookie may or may not be willing to do.”

“That’s the only stumbling block I see. She’ll kill someone who tried to harm any of us, but I don’t know if she’d have the stomach for a preemptive strike.”

“After the way she took out Cullach, would she have any inhibitions like that?” Jerry asked.

“That’s the big question. She’s a tigress when there’s a direct threat to the babies, but we don’t know about a non-specific one. Though she was behind my getting rid of Victor Madden.”

“Really?” Both Jerry and Bjorn spoke at once.

“Oh, yes. She said she knew he’d never leave us alone, so she wanted him dead and she said she wouldn’t even mind being the one to do it. I have no doubt that if I’d failed to take Madden out that night, she’d have tried herself.”

“That’s promising,” Bjorn said in amazement.

“Yes, it is,” Eric smiled.

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