LATE Chapter 096

On Top of the World

 

Eric said good night to Bjorn and Jerry and slipped silently up the stairs to the loft. He was pleasantly surprised to find the boys asleep and Sookie posed seductively on the mink bedspread, though she had fallen asleep, too. He waited a few minutes to make sure she was asleep, then he went to a case marked “confidential papers” he’d told Bjorn to store in the closet there, and got out his camera. He hadn’t taken any pictures of Sookie since she’d given birth, and he definitely wanted to document her current beauty. Her stomach had flattened, but her hips were still lovely and round and her breasts were full and practically begged to be touched. He used his flying ability to hover around the bed, and made sure he got pictures of her alone as well as a few that showed the babies sleeping next to her. She was still the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, and he was filled with pride from showing her and the boys off all evening.

She stirred a little so Eric quickly packed the camera away in the closet then came back and began to undress.

“Hey, Sweetie,” she smiled at him sleepily, “whatcha doin’?” she was baby-talking a bit and he was about to burst.

“I was debating whether to wake you or not. You looked so lovely lying there, I was dying to touch you, but I was concerned you might need the sleep…”

“I need you, Eric, then I’ll sleep later while you feed the boys. You’re more important to me than sleep.”

“That’s very romantic,” Eric said as he moved onto the bed over her, “but you know you’re not to neglect your health.”

“Then you better shut up and fuck me so I can go back to sleep!” She laughed and wrapped her legs around his waist.

Eric made a low rumbling growl in his chest as his fangs extended. Sookie purred and reached down to guide him into her, her eyes rolling back with satisfaction as their bodies moved together and away, together, and away, slowly creating a crescendo that both delayed as long as possible. “Shoulders,” Eric whispered hoarsely and Sookie bit Eric’s shoulder as hard as she could as he tore into hers. As both of them started to come, they floated upward, hovering in an apparent black void, only stars and distant lights of the city visible from where they were. Staying in the air was effortless for Sookie now, and she and Eric turned slowly, running their hands over each other time and time again, Eric slowly moving around her body and taking her slowly from behind, squeezing her breasts, kissing her back, teasing her clit until he heard her sigh and felt her stiffen in his arms. He gently pushed her down onto the mattress, bending her legs back, thrusting hard as he approached another release. Sookie was panting, reaching for the solid white iron bars of the headboard, thinking, “tie me down, Eric, please’ and he pulled silk and leather cuffs from somewhere – she never did find out where – and he stretched her arms far apart and secured them so she had no “play” in them at all. He put his full weight on top of her, asking “does this hurt, little one?”

“Not enough.”

He got that look in his eyes – that scary, sexy look that he got when he enjoyed causing a little pain, pushing her to her limits. Sookie’s breathing was rough and she was shaking. She heard him think he was going to try something new, and he slowly pulled her leg up and back, thinking ‘try to keep your leg straight, Sookie. Think of it as yoga,’ as he tied her ankle to the bedpost out from her hand. He moved her other leg up and back to the other side, giving her time to feel the stretch in her muscles. He felt that she was slipping upward too much, so he reached under her and pulled the covers down toward the end of the bed, then he pulled her downward by her hips.

This reminded her of a woodcut she had seen in Eric’s stash in the closet one day when she’d been in the mood to explore a bit. She remembered thinking at the time that it was the most exposed a woman could be – everything pointed to her center, which was the most prominently available part of her. Her face was back behind her limbs, her breasts were somewhat blocked by her legs, and if she bent her knees at all it only opened her up more. As she considered her position, and tried to stretch and relax into it, it occurred to her that Eric hadn’t touched her in a while. She could feel him there, but his mind and body were completely silent. She tried to raise her head a bit and she realized he was kneeling at the foot of the bed, staring at her. She knew instinctively that he wanted her to be silent, to focus on the bonds, her taut muscles, what he was doing to her, all of it.

“Musik,” he said quietly as one of her favorite songs, Bent by Matchbox Twenty, began to play, then “Rusa.”

Sookie had no idea what that meant but she could swear she heard something clicking and the sound of something mechanical moving.

‘Really stretch now, Sookie,’ he thought, ‘give yourself over to it.’

She did exactly as she was told and was completely quiet and content until he said “blixt tre” and there were three quick flashes of light.

What the hell was that?

Did she dare speak?

‘Please, Goddess, tell me that wasn’t flashes from a camera! He wouldn’t do that, would he?’ Her mind was racing and she could feel the amusement, the intensity, the complete sense of self-satisfaction flooding the bond as he stood at the foot of the bed watching her.

‘Mina.’ He thought. ‘Jag vågar du’ [Mine. I dare you.]

Sookie could feel Freyja’s voice in her cells, but knew Eric couldn’t hear Her. “He’s daring Us, Min Ängel, do not give in. No noise until he allows you to speak. Show him Our strength, Our love for him. He is Master – give him all that he wants and We will be rewarded.”

That bolstered Sookie’s resolve as she heard him think ‘Du är min, Sookie, för alltid.’ She knew somehow that he’d meant ‘you are mine, Sookie, forever.’ She projected the response, ‘Ja, jag är. Jag tillhör dig, Erik, för alltid ‘ [Yes, I am. I belong to you, Eric, forever.] She was vaguely aware that she was thinking to him in Swedish, knowing Freyja was giving her the ability, and her hips and legs were beginning to shake a bit. She found herself becoming unable not to move her pelvis, and she heard Eric growl with satisfaction, which really set her off. He crawled onto the bed like a lion on the hunt. Her body and her mind were screaming for him to touch her already. ‘Snälla, Erik, nu!’ [Please, Eric, now!]

‘Töm ditt sinne, Sookie, överlämna din vilja till mig.’ [Empty your mind, Sookie, submit your will to me.] He drew his nails, like claws, down the back of her legs.

‘ja, Herre,’ [Yes, Master.]

‘Min vackra älskare.’ [My beautiful Lover.] He took hold of her hips and pulled her down the bed again, stretching her to see if she’d cry out but all she did was pant. He was beyond smug now. Her training was coming along nicely and she wasn’t even aware that it was ongoing. At this point in the game, she was just a little past the point of pleasure and it was time to push her hard. With no warning at all, he gripped her in a way that made the image of a bowling ball flash in her mind and began to lick and nip at her clit. She managed, barely, not to cry out but she was whimpering and arching her back and OUCH! This was torture of the worst/best kind and she could feel him laughing softly as he snarled and bit hard and she had an explosive release that left her high as a kite. He released her and pressed his torn wrist to her lips to make the pain in her limbs go away. She was a shell of herself, completely hollow, as he arranged her on her side of the bed and pulled the covers up over her. Her eyes were closed, her attention on his hand between her legs, the last words he whispered as she surrendered finally to sleep were that she was “nästan redo för piska.”

 Eric cleaned up then switched out the memory card for the hidden camera and put the used one in his briefcase. He sat on the floor with his back to the tub, watching Sookie sleep. He smiled to himself that if he were human, this would be the time for a cigarette. He was sorry they were hosting a Yuletide party this year. He’d love to see how many times they could do it on the longest night of the year. He decided he would take her to Alaska next year and see how long they could have sex without stopping. Even now, if they really put their minds to it, they could do more, but he didn’t want to over do it just yet. He laughed to himself that he really pushed her hard tonight, and he knew she was struggling with herself, but she did it. She was getting tougher in the right ways, but was still soft and sweet where it counted. She was much improved in the time they’d been together, and he credited himself with most of that, even if she did want the improvements.

“You’re pretty pleased with yourself, aren’t you, Northman?” Sookie teased him from the bed.

“Are you awake already, my Angel?”

“Yeah, I just dozed off for a minute. Was I thinking in Swedish earlier?”

“Yes, you were.”

“Have I done that before?”

“You’ve spoken Svenska a few times before when you were not aware of it.”

“I’m pretty sure I could do it now any time I want.”

“One of Freyja’s gifts?”

“Yeah – a part of channeling Her power. I wonder if I could do other languages?”

“We’ll try it some time when you are not so tired.”

“Yeah, better not push it tonight. I’m wiped out. You left me without any bones again.”

“Are you in any pain?”

“No, your blood took care of that, thank Goddess, or I’d be hurting tomorrow. That was pretty intense.”

“Too much?”

“No. I can take more.”

“But would you want to?”

“Yes. I told you, Eric, I want all of you.”

“And I want all of you, Sookie, every little bit of you.” He got up at Vampire speed and slid into bed next to her, spooning up against her.

“Mmm, snuggle me until the boys wake up.”

“My thoughts exactly. It’s getting easier and easier for us to communicate telepathically,” he said softly as he smoothed her hair away from her ear and kissed it.

“Yeah, that’s not hard at all, anymore. That’ll come in handy at some point.”

“It just did,” Eric laughed, “it kept us from waking the babies.”

“I think Freyja makes them sleep when we fool around.”

Eric laughed at that. “That’s definitely something She would do. She loves babies but She loves sex, too. This way, there’s room for both.”

“You couldn’t hear Her earlier, right?”

“No, I guess not. She spoke to you?”

“Yeah, She was encouraging me to give you what you wanted.”

Eric laughed again softly as he lay with his arm over her, fondling her breast. “Well, you certainly did.”

“So this is pretty sweet up here. It’s like we’re sleeping under the stars.”

“We are. How does it look in the daytime?”

“Bright. I took my dress off today in case I was able to tan while I was reading my book.”

“Keep reading it. I think it will introduce some new ideas to you.”

“That’s a good thing, right?”

“Yes, of course. It’s always good to learn new things, to see things in a new way. Did you have fun tonight?”

“Yeah, Eric, I always love having sex with you.”

“I meant earlier. You liked it more than you expected, did you not?”

“There was nothing I experienced that was not to like – great food, elegant company – I love Amunet.”

“You and Amunet have much in common, I think.”

“I can learn a lot from her. She’s not a direct incarnation but she told me she’s in circle every day. Imagine what kind of discipline that takes.”

“Well, she has no children to raise, so it’s easier for her – though your connection to Freyja is so strong that it might be easier for you to cast a circle. Have you ever tried the “thrice around” approach for anything other than travel to Elfyria?”

“No, I always call the Quarters like Octavia showed me.”

“Ask Freyja to show you the most efficient way to cast. You are not a normal Witch. It may be much, much easier for you. You are moving into areas even beyond Octavia’s experience.”

“You still want her around, though, right?”

“Yes, of course, Sookie – she’s family, and she is still valuable in teaching you to think like a Witch.”

“OK, good. Will you rub my back?”

“Would you like me to summon Bobbie for you?”

“No, I just want you to rub it a bit.”

“Of course, Sweetheart.” He began to knead her back, gently but firmly, making her relax instantly.

“You know I’ve got more of those chocolates like the ones you ate tonight.”

“That was the small box you had earlier?”

“Yes. I asked the Witch who made them to come see me tomorrow. I thought we might need more of them at some point.”

“Good thinking. Offer her a retainer if you’d like, and I’ll tell the chef here to keep her employed. What is her name?”

“I didn’t get her last name, but her Witch name is Selena.”

“Alright, I’ll make a note of that.”

“There’s more, too – she’s the one that told me to feed you one to see if it would work. I think she knew there was some kind of plot, but I don’t know how. I’ll see what I can find out from her tomorrow.”

“Good thinking. How did you find out about her?”

“Amunet – she pointed out the candies and said they’d give my abilities a boost, and said there was obviously a female Witch in the kitchen because of the rose petals. She said “let’s go ask her for a special selection,” and we did, and she had a gold tray waiting for us – she said she heard I was a Witch so she made them for me.”

“How would she know you were a Witch? That’s not generally known, is it?”

“That’s another thing I’ve got to find out, though I’m pretty sure it’s coming from the Coven doing the Wiccaning.”

“Why do you think that?”

“That High Priestess knows Niall personally, I think, and that’s the kind of thing he’d tell her to get her to do what he wanted. Pagans communicate by networking. I think it’s on their grapevine, whatever it consists of.”

“Is there a way to magically “spy” on Niall?”

“Well, theoretically, I could probably see him in my scrying mirror.”

“What is that?”

“It’s a black concave glass that I put water in and I can watch things – it’s how I knew when to go see Aubie.”

“How clearly do you see with it?”

“Like watching it on TV.”

“That would be a very useful skill, Sookie, if you can do it for other purposes.”

“I’ve never tried it for anything else. I guess I should add that to the list, huh?”

“Yes, I’d say so. Start making a list in your journal.”

“OK, I will, and I’ll get the list from Amunet and Bjorn and Jerry and put them in, too.”

“Sookie, do you know what a pre-emptive strike is?”

“Yeah it’s when you hit somebody first because you know eventually they’ll hit you.”

“Would you ever carry one out?”

“I’ve actually been thinking about that. I knew it would come up eventually.”

“And…?”

“I’d want a chance to tell them to stop. Like with that New Centurion guy, Garner – if you or I looked him in the eye and said stop or we’ll stop you, and then he didn’t stop, then yeah, I’d stop him.”

“But you’d insist on speaking to him first?”

“Yeah, I think that’s only fair to confront someone like that.”

“Though he has never confronted us?”

“His behavior is no excuse for ours – we’re better than that, so we should do the right thing.”

“Alright, we’ll think about that for a while.”

“Good. Have you got a file on him?”

“A file?”

“Yeah, I know you must have had Bjorn doing a background check on him – there’s a security file or something, right?”

“Yes, there is.”

“I want to read it. If I’m your second, I need to know about our enemies. We shouldn’t wait until there’s a problem. Forewarned is forearmed, right?”

“Right.” He kissed her and smiled. He was very proud of her and projected that to her in the bond. She smiled as he kissed her shoulder and she let herself drift into sleep. Eric lay there quietly with his cheek resting on her shoulder until Alex woke up for his last bottle.

“Dadee?”

“Yes, Alex, Daddy is here.” He reached across Sookie and scooped Alex up, kissing him and snuggling him under his chin. “Did you sleep well, my son?”

“Seepeen dood.”

“That’s good. Are you hungry?”

“Eeah, baddow pweezth.”

“Alright, let’s see if there’s one up here.” Eric looked in the reading corner and found that Alicia had left a couple of books on the table and there were two bottles in the little fridge which was hidden under the side table between the chairs. There was a bottle warmer on the table itself and Eric was pleased to find that the chairs were gliders, so he was able to rock Alex as they waited for his bottle to heat up. Alex seemed tired tonight but he fed enthusiastically. About half-way through the blood, he said, “Dadee, ah wyg dompamy.”

“You like company?”

“Eeah.”

“You enjoyed meeting Gigi, didn’t you?”

“Eeah, ah wuv Chichi an Waby Ambuduh.”

“Lady Amunet is going to come visit us at home, you know? She and Mommy are friends now.”

Alex giggled and clapped his hands, then went back to his bottle. When he finished, Eric offered to read him a book, but he just wanted to lay his head on Eric’s shoulder and be held. Eric was thinking that he was tired from entertaining guests and travel and it was clear through the bond he wanted Daddy to cuddle him.

Eric was tucking Alex into the co-sleeper when Aubie said “Dada!” and he repeated the process of feeding and cuddling. Aubie wanted to see the little book on the side table, which happened to be a baby’s version of Horton Hears a Who that had a plush Horton face on the front of it. Eric read the book, but Aubie was more interested in the soft elephant face, and Eric laughed to himself that he certainly took after Sookie and Alex in that respect – they all loved plush things. At one point, Aubie just wanted to chatter a little and play with Eric, leaning forward to touch foreheads and patting Eric’s cheeks with his little hands as he giggled softly. Eric smiled and projected love and affection to Aubie and Aubie was feeling safe and warm when he lay his head on Eric’s shoulder and let out a sigh. Eric held Aubie as he slept for as long as he could, but he had to give Sookie her Ambrosia and go to his box quickly once the dawn broke because they were completely exposed in that room.

Alicia let Sookie sleep until 11:30, waking her up then because their breakfast would be delivered at noon. Sookie took a quick shower, throwing on her pink bikini with black polka dots and a black lace cover-up Alicia bought for the trip. She added some mascara and lip-gloss and left her hair down because she thought it looked good today. Bjorn and Jerry carried the babies downstairs so they were seated in their highchairs when Francesca came in pushing a cart with two dome covered plates on it.

“Good morning, Francesca!” Sookie gave her a big smile, which made Francesca feel almost giddy. She loved these people. She put Sookie’s plate in front of her as she told the boys, “Alex, Aubie, look who’s here to give you breakfast!”

“Ah!” Alex gave her a big smile and a wave and Aubie giggled as he tried to imitate what Alex said and did.

“They’re so sweet – do they laugh all the time?” Francesca asked as she uncovered Sookie’s dish for her then turned a chair so she was facing the boys.

“Pretty much – they’re very happy babies. They get a lot of attention and we all play with them so their lives are pretty easy. No one is ever cross or stressed out around them.”

“Some babies cry all the time no matter what you do.” She knew this from personal experience because she had two younger siblings who had been criers that were inconsolable most of the time.

“Yeah, neither of them does much. Now and then they’ll wake up fussy or something will scare them a little, but it’s rare.”

“You get to spend a lot of time with them, right? I read that somewhere.”

“Oh,” Sookie realized she meant she’d read that in a tabloid, “yeah, I’m with them all the time and we’ve got good friends and workers who are always around for them. Eric has things arranged so I can put almost all of my energy into the boys, and even if I have to do “Queen” stuff, I’ve got them with me.”

“He seems a lot nicer than I expected.”

“Eric? Yeah, he’s very sweet to me and the boys, but he’s definitely a Vampire King. He’s not somebody you want to cross in business or politics.”

“Most of them are never nice from what I’ve read. He was so sweet to you. Could I ask you a favor – I know I shouldn’t but it would mean a lot to my family….”

“Sure, Sweetie, what do you want?”

“Would it be OK if I had my picture taken with the little Princes?”

“Of course you can! Hey, you know, you might be able to sell that to a paper and make a little money.”

“Oh, I wasn’t planning to do that!”

“That’s OK – I’m giving you permission.”

“For real?”

“Sure – they write about us all the time anyway, right? Might as well give them something nice and true for a change. Most of that stuff you see is made up.”

“Is it true about the way the King swings you around when you dance?”

“Yeah, that part is definitely true. That’s usually my favorite part of the night when we have to attend a ball or anything like that. Eric swirls me around and makes me feel like I’m flying.”

“Is he really 6 foot 5?”

“Yeah, you saw him – he’s big.”

“Did you fall in love with him the first time you saw him?” Francesca knew she was being bad, but knew she might never get this chance again and she wanted lots of good stuff to tell her sisters.

“Actually, yes, I did, but it took me a long time to admit it. He always knew, though, and he wouldn’t give up on me. He says he knew I was his the minute he met me.”

“Wow – that’s like a Faerie tale.”

“It can be that way with him sometimes. If people would just leave us alone, life would be perfect.”

“There’s a rumor that somebody tried something last night, you know?”

“Yeah, there was an incident, but it was handled very quietly and efficiently. We were very lucky. Don’t be scared, though – it’s all taken care of.”

“Isn’t it a shame people won’t just get along?”

“Yes, it is. All we want is to be left alone. If the fanatics would leave us alone, you’d hardly hear a peep out of Vampires.” OK, Sookie was stretching it a bit, but that was her story and she was sticking to it.

Bobbie and Amelia came dragging into the kitchen area looking for coffee.

“Hey, y’all! Were you up late last night?” Sookie laughed

“Uuunnnnnhhhhh!” Amelia said as Bobbie laughed at her.

“We partied pretty hard. After you guys went upstairs, Bjorn and Jerry found us and we danced and drank and did a few other things I’ll be taking to my grave with me,” Bobbie was obviously in a great mood.

“The guys were just in here – they seemed fine,” Sookie said.

“”Seemed” is the operative word there,” Amelia said as they came over to the table, “Jerry is definitely hurting today.”

“Bjorn’s OK, I think – he never sleeps much anyway,” Bobbie said.

“You all remember Francesca?” Sookie wanted to be polite.

“Yeah, hi, Francesca!” Amelia said.

“Hi, hon!” Bobbie chimed in.

“Ah, Babee, Ah, Mee-ah!” Alex giggled with his mouth full and had food running down his face.

“Good morning, Punkin’!” Amelia tickled Alex and Bobbie kissed his head, then Aubie’s before she sat down.

“Are you all friends?” She asked as she scraped some tartare off Alex’s chin.

“Yeah, we’re friends, though, technically, Bobbie works for me,” Sookie laughed. “She’s my doula.”

“Your what?” Francesca never heard such a word!

“Doula. I never heard of it either, but she’s a mother’s helper. She helps with changing the boys and feeding them but mostly she plays in the pool with us and takes video so Eric can see what we do in the daytime.”

“Oh – I never thought about that – he can’t see them in the daytime, so you video tape them?”

“Right. We should do more of it, but we did manage to get Alex’s first steps on video the other day, didn’t we?” Sookie laughed and everyone else did, too.

“This tiny little baby can walk?”

“You’d be amazed what he can do. When he gets done eating, I’ll show you,” Sookie offered. “By the way, make sure you tell the chef that this tartare I’m eating is the best I’ve ever had. He even managed to make it better than my maid and I didn’t think that was possible. It’s way better than the stuff I had in Vegas.”

“He’ll be happy to hear that, though he’ll never admit it,” Francesca laughed. “He’s really talented, but he’s got this cute baby face, so he tries to be really gruff so people take him seriously.”

“Do you know Selena?”

“Yes, ma’am, she said to tell you she’ll be up after 2 o’clock if that’s OK. She wanted to give you time to have breakfast in peace and relax a bit.”

“Oh, that’s nice. Yeah, I really need to talk to her.”

“OK, I guess they’re done with their breakfast.”

“OK, do you have a camera or a cell phone for the picture?”

“I’ve got my camera.”

“OK, Bobbie, take our picture with her camera, OK.” Sookie pulled the boys’ chairs back a bit and asked, “now, do you want me and the boys, or just the boys?”

“Can I have one of each?”

“Sure you can! Bend down a little here and get between Alex and Aubie. OK, Bobbie, you got a good shot of that?”

“Yep, looks great! Alex, Aubie, smile!” She clicked the camera and showed the girl the viewscreen on the back. She nearly jumped up and down, she liked it so much.

“Ok, now you want one with me, though I’m not really dressed up or anything?”

“You look beautiful!” the girl said with surprise.

“I don’t know about that, but if you say so, here,” Sookie stepped forward and put her arm around Francesca and thrilled the girl beyond belief. Bobbie got a great shot of the two of them standing with the boys and Francesca was almost giddy when she saw it. “OK, now one more thing – go over there and kneel down so you can catch Alex.” Francesca was so excited she could hardly breathe. She knelt down and Sookie took Alex out of his chair and set him down facing Francesca. “OK, Pookie, go to Francesca!”

Alex proudly toddled straight to her with a big smile, saying “Ah!” and hugging her when she caught him and Bobbie snapped another picture right then

“Wow! That’s amazing!” Francesca could almost cry they were all so nice to her and she thanked them all and collected the dishes and her camera. Sookie slipped her another hundred dollar bill as she left and kissed her on the cheek. Those pictures were Francesca’s pride and joy, and she never even considered selling them to the tabloids. Her mom printed them out at Wal-Mart and they put them on the refrigerator in magnetic frames so the whole family could enjoy them.

“OK, y’all, I’m going in the pool – who wants to go swimming?” Sookie said to the boys, Alex in her arms and Aubie still in his seat and both boys were waving their arms and yelling “wada!” and “wawa!” Amelia took Alex from Sookie and she pulled Aubie out of his chair, giving him a big kiss. Bobbie brought the swim diapers from the closet and they put the boys in them. They were blue with little green ukuleles with leis around the neck printed on them.

“These are adorable!” Sookie gushed as she walked to the pool with Aubie in her arms and jumped in from the side. Aubie was tickled to death with the fall and the splash and the water, which he was smacking with both hands. Amelia did a similar move with Alex, who yelled “FYEEN!” as they plunged into the water. Bobbie was cracking up at them all as she threw the floating toys into the pool for them and dived in head first, which thrilled Alex to no end.

“Me, Babee, me!” Alex yelled wanting to swim underwater like she did. No one was sure exactly what he wanted, but Amelia wasn’t able to hold on to him and he was in the water all the way. Sookie started to panic, then told the others, “wait, he’s OK.” As she saw him swim around underwater with no problem then come up happy as a clam, “Woogie, Mamee!”

“I saw you, Sweetie! You can swim underwater like a fish.”

“Eeah, Ahm a pish!” He dived down again and zipped around between them all coming up laughing next to the blue whale floater that Sookie had Aubie in, laughing his head off.

“Alex, say “Aubie, did you see me swim like a fish?”” Sookie instructed him.

“Obee didoo sthee me sthim wyg a pish?”

“Ah, Bumby!” Aubie said and smacked the sides of the whale.

“Alex, ask Aubie “Do you want to see me swim again?”

“Dowoo wandoo sthee me sthim aden?”

“Ah!” Aubie said with his whole body, leaning toward the side to see Alex better.

“Aubie, say “go, Buddy!’

“Wo, Bumby!” and Alex did, right under the water and around in a circle in front of Aubie, who made his happy sound and watched with his mouth hanging open and his arms flailing.

“Yay, Buddy!” Sookie said as Alex came up and Aubie tried to imitate her “Ayyy, Bumby!” and he clapped his little hands. Sookie suddenly realized there was room for two babies in the whale, so she scooped Alex up and sat him in front of Aubie and showed Aubie how to hold him around the waist. “OK, hang on, Aubie! Buddy’s gonna take you for a ride!” and she pulled them around the pool as Alex bounced in front of Aubie and Aubie held onto Alex as tightly as he could, loving the idea that Buddy was giving him a ride around the pool. Alex and Aubie were screaming with laughter as Sookie pulled them as fast as she could, which was pretty fast because she was becoming really strong from Eric’s blood and the Ambrosia. After about 45 minutes, the boys began to get a little quiet and a lot slow, so Sookie knew it was naptime. She and Bobbie got them out of the pool, and by the time they were dry, they were dozing. Sookie had just tucked them into the playpen and was considering whether she wanted to order a snack or go back and swim when Jerry showed Selena into the room pushing a cart with a big platter of sandwiches on it.

“Selena! Thank you for taking a few minutes to see me!”

“My pleasure, your majesty. The chef sent these sandwiches up for your party to snack on between now and dinner since you didn’t order lunch. What can I do for you?” She asked as she put the platter on the dining table, then a stack of small plates and a stack of napkins.

“Those special chocolates you made for me – the ones to expose enemies – worked very well last night. I was wondering if I could get a regular supply of them from you? I’d pay you a retainer and you could ship me, say, two dozen about every 6 months?”

“Yeah, I can do two batches twice a year. Probably not a lot more, though – it takes a while to get the moon phase and the hour right, and one of the ingredients is really expensive.”

“You just tell me what you need, and I’ll pay for all that. Give me your address and phone number, and I’ll write you a check – ten thousand enough for the first batch? And can you finish them by August 10th?”

“Yes, I can do that. That’s very generous…” she was stunned at the price Sookie offered her.

“OK, good. I’ll want them shipped to our New Orleans home this time around, and please be careful to see that they’re in dry ice and all that so they don’t melt.”

“No problem, I’ll be very careful with them.”

“Alicia!”

Alicia came down the spiral stairs quickly, “yes, Mrs. Northman?”

“I need my checkbook, please, and we need to record Selena’s contact information.”

“Of course, I’ll bring it right down.”

“Thanks.” She turned to the woman, “I’d have gotten it myself, but I don’t know where she packed it,” she laughed, “I never know where my stuff is.”

Selena smiled. She had hoped that the candies would get the young Queen’s attention, and when she heard the rumors about someone infiltrating the club, she was pretty sure the candy had something to do with resolving the problem, but she didn’t expect this kind of money for them. This was fantastic. A cash infusion of ten grand every six months would enable her to expand her candy business without taking out any loans, and she was already permanently employed here at a crazy good salary, so this was a dream come true.

Alicia brought Sookie’s checkbook, which was a big book with sheets of pink floral checks instead of a little single check size thing like most people have, and Sookie sat at the dining room table to fill it out.

“Alright, now, I make this out to you?”

“Yes, please. Selena Morgan Candy Corp.”

“Is ten thousand enough? How much should I add for ingredients?”

“Oh, that’s plenty! You don’t need to add extra, that’s more than enough.”

“Oh, cool! Would you mind if I share your information with Lady Amunet if she should ask? She was the one who led me to you.”

“Oh, yes, of course! And these will be exclusive to you and she. I won’t sell them to anyone else or advertise them or anything.”

“Eric will be pleased to hear that, and I’m pretty sure you’ll have a bonus coming your way, too. He pays very well for good service and he rewards loyalty. Plus, it’s safer if not everyone knows what you can do, right? Here you go.” She tore the check out of the book and handed it to her. “Alicia, she needs our New Orleans address and the Shreveport one, too, I guess, and my email so we can confirm where each shipment should go, or if I decide we need them more than twice a year.”

Alicia produced two business cards with Sookie’s information on them and Selena thanked them both profusely. This amount of money would allow Selena to focus on making sure the things she sent Sookie were top quality and produced under ideal magickal conditions. Alicia recorded her contact information in Sookie’s big book and put it in her phone as Sookie wrote a number on the back of one of the cards.

“Are you familiar with Anubis Airlines, Selena?”

“Yes, I’ve heard of them.”

“Alright, Eric has a special account with them. You ship these at our expense and tell them it’s a secure shipment for the King and give them this code, so they’ll keep anyone from tampering with them in transit, OK?”

“Yes, your majesty.”

“Alright – thanks so much for your help, and it was really nice meeting you!” Sookie shook the woman’s hand. Selena hesitated for a minute. “Is there something you wanted to tell me, Selena?”

“Yes, ma’am – when they hire employees here, they do background checks, right?”

“Yes, they do…”

“But not on the undocumented workers. The dishwashers and busboys and especially the food suppliers…”

Sookie knew exactly what Selena was telling her. New Centurion got in that way, through a distributor that used undocumented workers. “Oh, I see. I’ll tell my head of security immediately, and that practice will be changed before night fall, I assure you.”

“That’s good to know, your majesty. It should be a lot harder to get a job here.”

“Yes, indeed. If you have any other suggestions, never hesitate to call my phone or drop a discreet email, alright? Better safe than sorry, always.”

“Yes, your majesty. Good day.”

As soon as the woman left, Sookie had Jerry summon Bjorn, who was investigating their intruders from the night before. Bjorn was there in just a few minutes, “Yes, your majesty?”

“I have some security information for you about how our visitors got in last night.” She pointed to a chair at the table and sat down, serving him a sandwich. Bjorn sat in Eric’s usual seat right next to her as she continued. “The person who tipped me off last night just told me that they’re not doing background checks on undocumented workers – dishwashers, busboys, and especially the distributors.”

Bjorn nodded. “We traced their entry to a place that supplies fruits and vegetables.”

“Right, so that’s where your hole in security is. You need to put the word out to all the clubs that no one sets foot on the grounds without a thorough check – no cutting corners, no admittance for suppliers who haven’t been thoroughly vetted.”

“Yes, ma’am. We need to tell the King about this as soon as he gets up, too. He already gave similar orders, but we still want to confirm this with him.”

“Right. OK, I’m going back to the pool. You want to join us?”

“I would if it weren’t for the problem last night. I’ve got to be able to satisfy Eric that I’ve got this under control. Maybe next time.”

“OK, thanks. Tell Jerry to have a sandwich if he wants and you help yourself to as many as you like.” Sookie squeezed his shoulder as she walked past him toward the sliding doors.

She left the glass door open and gently moved the playpen next to the screen door in case the boys woke up because Alicia was working upstairs and Bjorn and Jerry were really busy. Bobbie and Amelia were still in the pool when she went outside and grabbed something from her tote bag.

“Sookie, do you want me to go in and sit with the boys so you can close the glass door? The air conditioning…” Bobbie began to offer, but Sookie wouldn’t hear of it.

“No, I won’t be out here that long,” she said as she put her hair up with the thing she’d gotten out of her tote. “They’ll want to be breast fed when they wake up, so I’ll go inside for that. I just want to float for a few minutes while I have the chance. There are sandwiches on the dining room table if you’re hungry.” She brought the others each a sandwich so the three of them had plates of food on the cement around the perimeter of the pool. She grabbed a mattress and jumped in at the side of the pool. She lay across the blue mattress sideways and just relaxed for a minute, then found a way to eat and float at the same time.

“OK, Sookie, what’s the deal with the candies in the fridge that say DO NOT TOUCH on them?” Amelia teased her as she dug into her roast beef sandwich.

“They’re magick.”

“What?”

“That girl that was just here? She’s a Witch, a really good one apparently, and she gave me some special candies that can do things like give you prophecies and make your enemies visible.”

“Is that possible?” Bobbie asked as she tore her turkey sandwich in half.

“Yes, because she said they might work for Eric and he ate one and he saw those people last night as if they were in spotlights.”

“What exactly happened? Bjorn didn’t want to talk about it yet.”

“OK, this is just between us, don’t even tell Alicia, but there were four people, or soldiers or whatever, and 7 bombs in the building last night. Basically, Eric saw the people, then I called the bombs and they exploded them in some room in the deep, deep basement of the building.”

“Holy Goddess!” Amelia said

“You mean we were that close to…” Bobbie was just understanding what a close call they’d all had.

“Yep. Within minutes. They found a hole in the security they were able to exploit. That’s why Bjorn is busting ass today – they have to close the hole fast, and make sure it’s safe at all the other clubs.”

“What happened?” Amelia asked

“Apparently, they didn’t do thorough background checks on undocumented kitchen workers and food suppliers, and these people got in through one of them.”

“And Eric spotted them?”

“Yeah, see, the girl in the kitchen said he should try one of the candies right then and see if it would work, and he did and it did. Then Amunet and I followed the one girl that was with them into the ladies’ room and I made the toilet explode and a guy fell and I got his gun, then I made the bomb she had disappear and made the bathroom door disappear and hit her with a gun, and a guy came running in and Amunet tripped him and then Bjorn was there. It was all really fast, then guards took them away and Bjorn took me and Amunet to where they had the prisoners and there was a demo room and I made the bombs appear in there, and then walked away and boom!”

“What would have happened if…?” Amelia was stunned

“I don’t know, but I know there were fliers up here with the boys because I heard Bjorn give them the all clear.”

“So if the bombs started blowing, they’d have flown the boys out?”

“I guess, yeah. I kind of think that’s why we never went back to the parties.”

“You didn’t?”

“No, I went back and got my candy and ordered a caviar tray and some stuff for the guests then we came up and the European, Australian and Egyptian regents met the boys and Giselle had presents for the boys and – oh yeah, Amunet is going to spend the day after the Wiccaning with me doing magick.”

“She’s good, I guess?”

“Yeah, she says she’s in circle every day. She’s really, really smart, too. She’s the one that figured out there was a Witch in the kitchen and took me in there, and she can read a person like a book if she touches them.”

“Like psychometry, where you read an object by touch?” Amelia asked

“No, she says she’s an empath, but she focuses on reading more than healing. She’s also the one that had the idea for me to use my telekinesis to call the bombs.”

“Thank Goddess she was there. What kind of Witch is she?”

“I’m not sure, but their last name is Bast and she said She’s a patroness of her husband’s family. She was telling me about the similarities between Bast and Freyja. And, by the way, the word is out in certain circles about me being a Witch.”

“Let’s just hope nobody makes the leap from Witch to Goddess,” Amelia said.

“Why?” Sookie wondered.

“You’re not immortal yet. If someone wanted to stop you from becoming a deity, they might still do it.”

“Might?”

“Yeah, at some point, if they killed you, you’d just be a Goddess anyway, but I don’t think you’re there yet. Make sure you don’t skip your Ambrosia. Did you take it last night?” Amelia wanted to be sure.

“Yep, Eric gave it to me like he always does.”

“Ok, good.”

“Hey, it just occurred to me – do I have to die to become a Goddess?”

“Maybe. You should ask Dr. Ludwig some time, but I’m pretty sure you do have to die to be immortal.”

“Eric always really wanted to turn me.”

“Maybe he still can. Freyja made every other dream he had come true, maybe She’s got that one covered, too,” Bobbie suggested.

“I hope so. He said it would be the most erotic experience of our lives. It’s a scary idea, though – what if it didn’t work?”

“That’s where faith comes in, I guess. You have to trust Freyja to know what She’s doing,” Amelia said somberly.

Sookie didn’t want to think about this right now so she asked, “are you guys all packed?”

“I will be once I change my clothes. We’re leaving at 9 tonight, right?”

“Yeah, that way I get one more gourmet meal and then Eric gets to look the plane over himself.”

“When do you join the Mile High club, Sookie?” Bobbie teased her.

“I’m not sure, but he already said it was going to happen,” she laughed. “I don’t know, though…”

“You don’t want to?” Bobbie couldn’t believe that.

“Well, it’s a little… I mean, the bedroom is right there, you know, and you all will know and for all I know, you’ll be able to hear everything…”

“We’re used to that, Sookie. You guys aren’t exactly quiet at home.” Bobbie reminded her.

“Yeah, but there are extra people on the plane – five stewards and stewardesses, a captain and a co-pilot…”

“Sookie, don’t you dare refuse Eric because you’re worried about what stewards think,” Amelia teased her.

“Huh? Why not?”

“Because every woman alive or undead, and half the men, would gladly take your place. You owe it to yourself to make the most of him since you’re the one that’s got him.”

“OK, I guess that makes sense.”

“If you really want to make him proud, do it and be loud about it so you have the crew in awe of you the way everyone at home is. The guards look at him like he’s a sex god,” Bobbie laughed.

“Well, he is, kind of…” Sookie laughed.

“How was your first night in the glass loft, Sookie?” Bobbie teased.

“Let’s just say I’m glad Eric’s blood has healing properties or I wouldn’t be able to move today.”

“Indulge in a little kink, did we?”

“Oh, yeah. Thank Goddess the babies sleep when we have sex.”

“They do? All the time?” Amelia asked

“Yep – it’s apparently part of the magick. Freyja makes sure Eric gets what he wants and the babies get what they need by putting them to sleep when we do it, so they can be right there with us and not be disturbed.”

“That’s convenient!” Bobbie laughed.

“Yeah, it is. We’d have to have someone stay in the nursery with them, otherwise.”

“Did they get their time with Dadee last night?” Amelia wondered

“Oh, yeah. I got to listen in last night – usually they’re in the nursery so I don’t hear them, but they were just over in the corner up there and I got to listen to Eric talk to them and rock them. Aubie just chattered and giggled and Eric was so patient with him, I was melting. Alex was really quiet last night, though. I think he was tired from entertaining our guests. I almost laughed out loud, though, when I heard him tell Eric he liked “dompamy.””

Everybody laughed at that.

“What did they think of them, Sookie?” Amelia was dying to know that.

“They seemed fascinated with them. Giselle really doted on them and the others were so silent and intent on watching their every move. And you know what a ham Alex is – he was eating up the attention and playing cute, and even encouraging Aubie to talk and do things. They were a little surprised about Aubie, of course, but they all saw how it’s part of the plan.”

“You told them?” Amelia couldn’t believe that.

“Eric invoked King’s Rights, which I never heard of before, and everybody but the regents left and I told them the story so they’d understand why it would be alright if I had to rule while Alex was Prince Regent if anything, Goddess forbid, happened to Eric.”

“And they were good with that?”

“They all said they’d back me if it came up and that they were satisfied that I’m his second. I’m so glad Bjorn told me about that.”

“Eric didn’t tell you?” Bobbie was shocked by that.

“No, Eric didn’t want to scare me, but Bjorn said it was better if I knew what was up. Eric is very protective, you know, but Bjorn thinks I’m stronger than anybody, sometimes,” Sookie laughed a little as she said that but it meant a lot to her that he thought so much of her.

“Ah, Mamee!”

“Hey, Pookie – are you awake?” Sookie started toward the steps out of the pool.

“Eeah – sthimmeen!”

“Don’t you want to eat first?”

“Nah, sthimmeen.”

“OK, you can swim.”

“Mama!”

“Uh-oh,” Sookie laughed as she wrapped a towel around her waist, “Aubie’s up, too. Are you hungry, Aubie?”

“Nah, Obee sthimmeen, doo.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Eeah.”

“Wawa!” Aubie said as he sat up all by himself.

“OK, rascals, let’s swim,” she laughed as she opened the screen door and picked Aubie up, then was able to pick Alex up, too, because he was standing at the side of the playpen. She slid the door shut with her elbow, wiggled so her towel dropped and jumped in the side of the pool with both of them in her arms, thrilling them both as they all hit the water together. Alex swam off immediately to Bobbie and Sookie pulled the blue whale into the water and put Aubie in it. Aubie patted the seat in front of him and said “Ah Bumby!”

Sookie knew he wanted to ride with Alex again, so she looked around. “Alex, you want to ride with Aubie for a minute?”

‘EEAH!” he squealed and swam back to Sookie, and she put him up in 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?the float. Aubie was beside himself and she and Alex could both feel it. He laid his cheek against Alex’s shoulder and held on as Sookie and Bobbie took turns pulling them around the pool. Sookie was beaming at them, enjoying the feelings they were projecting into the bond. Alex was feeling pride because he knew Aubie looked up to him and Aubie was feeling admiration for his big brother and joy at having his attention. She hoped they always felt so positively about each other. So far they’d shown no sense of rivalry at all, but she knew it was really early and when it got down to sharing toys and things like that there might be more selfish behavior. At this point, Alex was eager to share toys with Aubie and show him things and Sookie was making a conscious effort to praise Alex for that. She might not know a lot about babies, but she knew positive reinforcement was her 

most powerful tool where they were concerned and particularly with Alex because he loved to show off and be praised.

“Obee undwy, Mamee.” Alex said about an hour later as they were playing with pool toys on the steps.

“OK, Sweetie are you hungry yet or do you want to play some more?”

“Mo payeen.”

“OK, Bobbie? Can you play with Alex while I feed Aubie?”

“Sure, I can!” She had been playing with the boys on and off the whole time, but now she took primary charge of Alex so Sookie could get out. Bjorn, who had been at his station for about half an hour, handed Sookie a towel to wrap around her waist and tried not to notice the way the padded top of the bathing suit pushed her breasts up and together. Sookie brought Aubie over and sat with Bjorn while she fed him, not bothering with a nursing cover because it was just family out here.

“Get things straightened out, Bjorn?” she was just making conversation, really, but what the hell – this was important.

“Yes, ma’am, I’ve been in touch with security at every club and warned them about the hole. There shouldn’t have been a hole to begin with, but the manager here was trying to save some money. Eric told him this morning that he wanted things done right, first time and every time, and if he caught him cutting corners again, unemployment would be the least of his problems. He made it very clear that safety was first priority here, closely followed by customer service, and to forget the penny-pinching ways he’d learned from his previous employers. This is a premium service and it needs to be perfect, not cheap. The customers here have more money than most people ever dream of, and what they want is safety.”

“I didn’t really understand that at first, but I think I’m starting to get it. Every Vampire I saw here was very refined. They’re all really old and don’t have that wild streak the younger ones do. You’d never see Sarkasian, let alone Giselle, hanging at Fangtasia or even an upscale club or bar. They really do need a place where everything has been screened and polished. They get stronger as they get older, but they also get more discerning. Eric told me many times that their drive for luxury is almost as strong as their drive for blood. It’s why they take such pleasure in showing off what they have. Aside from the occasional Vampire ball, they haven’t had a place to socialize.”

“Right – there’s only so much you can do at each other’s houses, no matter how fancy they are.”

“So you all went dancing?”

“Yeah, for a while – the dance rooms close at four, so we didn’t have long.”

“Did you, uh…”

“Yes, we uh… with a very hot girl from San Antonio.”

“You and Bobbie both?”

“Yeah, of course, I wouldn’t do it without her.”

Sookie was quiet for a minute, trying to decide if she should ask the next question or not, enjoying another sandwich Alicia brought out to her.

“I had permission, in your case,” he said very softly. “We’d talked about it many times and had an agreement that if either got the opportunity, they’d go for it.”

“I’m such a hypocrite,” Sookie said, sort of to herself.

“Why do you say that?”

“I’m all worried about the purpose of the clubs, but I’ve done things that would be considered just as wrong…”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. Your world is growing and changing and you’re learning things about politics and religion you never knew before. It’s normal to revert to your home training now and then, even if intellectually, you know better. You’re doing fine. You want to be a good person – that’s a worthy goal.”

“I think about that Wiccan Rede a lot – it sounds so simple to say “do no harm” but then you have to define what harm is… ”

“That’s a big question, Sookie. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to answer it.”

“Was the girl you met nice?”

“Very. I saw her a couple of hours ago and she gave me a big smile and was talking about how good the food is here.”

“Does she work in the day time?”

“No, but she lives here, so she was eating down in the dining room. Jerry and I went to get a cup of coffee and she was just having her breakfast.”

“So there’s a central place for them to eat?”

“Yes, and gift shops if they need anything, and cars they can use to go shopping or do whatever else they want to, or there are special areas in the garage where they can keep their own cars. Sookie, this is a dream job here – for everybody, from the hostesses to the bus boys.”

“So this is really more of a private hotel, then?”

“Basically, yeah.”

“OK, Aubie is out. I’m going to put him in the play pen then see if Alex will eat, then I hope I can take a shower and get dressed before Eric gets up so we can relax at dinner.”

“Sounds like a plan,” he was teasing her a little. He thought it was nice that she wanted to dress up a little for Eric. He also knew she wanted to look good in case Eric decided to take advantage of the half-hour flight to Shreveport, and he thought that was a good idea. If he were Eric, he’d absolutely “christen” that big bed on the plane.

Sookie took Aubie inside and gently changed his diaper then put him in the playpen. She went back out and before she had a chance to speak Alex yelled, “Mamee, EE!”

She held up a towel, calling, “come on, baby” and Alex flew into it. She kissed and snuggled him and sat next to Bjorn again to feed him. Bobbie and Amelia wandered out to start getting ready for dinner and decided to go shower so they’d be done before Sookie needed to so they could watch the boys.

“I wonder what we’ll get for dinner today?” Sookie said, just to make conversation.

“Eric sent word to the chef that he wanted him to blow you away again, so it should be pretty spectacular.”

“Again? I can eat regular food, too, you know?” She laughed.

“He wants you to be impressed and have a good time.”

“I’ll make sure I tell him that I did have a good time, then. I want him to know I appreciate how he tries to make me happy, especially when he has so much else on his mind.”

“Thinking about you takes his mind off of the rest of it. You’re the bright spot in his day – don’t ever forget that.”

“What do you mean?”

“He’s been really nervous about taking you to these openings because you’ve been so conflicted about them. He knows when he can be with you at night he can talk you through any reservations you have, but you’ve been alone here for two days when he couldn’t be there, so he’s trying to make sure you’re so busy with food and the babies that you don’t have time to think about where you are.”

“I didn’t think of it that way. I was pushing him to get rid of them when I should have been letting him enjoy the fact that they’re opening. I’m taking all the fun out of it for him.”

Bjorn didn’t say anything, but Sookie heard him think that he was proud of her for finally catching on.

“OK,” she said softly, “Alex is out. I’m going to change his diaper, then hit the shower – can you stay with them until Bobbie or Amelia takes over?”

“Sure thing, hon.” He got up and walked ahead to hold the door open for her and he sat in the big easy chair next to the playpen while she went to do what she needed to do to get ready.

Alicia was checking their luggage, and had everything almost ready to go. “Ready for your shower, Dear?”

“Yes. What do I have to wear home that’s cute?”

“I was thinking about this. It’s more of a maternity dress than nursing, but it’s so cute, it just looks like a sweet little summer cocktail dress.”

She held up a white dress with an irregular pattern of black roses on it that Sookie knew would look adorable on her. “That’s great. OK, I’ll be back in a few.”

Sookie took a quick, but very thorough shower, taking time to shave her legs all the way up. Her train case was sitting open on the vanity table and she was pleased to see that her little bottle of Chanel No. 5 lotion was in it because she knew Eric loved it. She smoothed some all over and blew her hair out a bit while it soaked in, then did a quick make up job that consisted mostly of bright pink lipstick, mascara, sheer gold eyeshadow and black kohl on her eyes. She was sunkissed from playing in the pool, so she looked glamorous and healthy. She put on the dress then added a tiny black headband, a black lace thong underneath and Alicia had a pair of simple diamond earrings picked out for her and some simple black patent leather sandals with a medium heel. She looked at her herself in the full length mirror in the bathroom and was pretty pleased with what she saw.

“Eric will like this, right?”

“He won’t be able to take his eyes off of you.”

“Good, that’s exactly what I want,” Sookie laughed. She thought to herself that he wouldn’t be able to keep his hand off of her, either, and she had decided the girls were right – they had the bed on the plane, so what the hell, make the most of it! As much as she hated to admit it, Eric was right – she did like to show off as much as he did.

Alicia had finished all the packing she could do until Eric was dressed while Sookie had dressed so they headed downstairs and decided to watch a little TV and relax. Sookie insisted that Alicia sit with her for a bit because she’d been so busy all day, and Alicia opted to eat a sandwich even though it was so close to dinner so the tray would be empty when they brought dinner.

Sookie actually fell asleep for a bit and everyone was quiet so they didn’t disturb her, though they all knew she’d never expect that.

“Wake up, my lovely wife.”

She smiled and opened her eyes to see Eric, dressed in a beautiful blue silk shirt and dark jeans, hair slightly damp, kneeling next to her with a big smile. “Hey!

“Hey. They will be here with dinner any minute, Sweetheart. Can you wake up enough to eat?”

“Yeah – I can’t believe I fell asleep.” She lazily wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him. “Are the boys up yet?”

“Already in their highchairs.”

“Did you talk to Bjorn yet?”

“Yes, he told me about your conversation earlier. You gave him exactly the right instruction.”

“All the clubs have been notified?”

“Yes, and he talked to each manager personally.”

“Good. That was way too close last night.”

“Yes, it was.” Eric helped her stand as the others began to gather at the dinner table. She wrapped her arm around his waist and leaned into him as he kissed her hair. “You look very pretty tonight, Sookie.”

“Thank you. I love your shirt – it’s almost as blue as your eyes. Is it new?”

“You might say so, I chose it because I thought it was the color of your eyes. I bought it when we first started dating, but I’ve been saving it.”

Francesca was back to feed the boys, and everyone else sat at the table and enjoyed the spectacular four-course meal, the same headwaiter introducing each course:

“For his majesty, we have Sangria Réal Bisque. For her majesty and company, we have Wagyu Beef Carpaccio, which consists of premium Wagyu beef blended with seven spices, seared, chilled, and sliced razor thin, garnished with fresh arugula and raspberry vinaigrette.”

Sookie and Eric exchanged bites of their starters, and Sookie particularly liked his soup. The second course was simple and delicious – a Summer Watermelon Salad with Texas feta, prosciutto, and pink peppercorns – and Eric ate it along with everyone else and loved it. Sookie had never tasted feta cheese before, and she never imagined mixing something so tart and creamy with watermelon. “Wow – this is really creative! What kind cheese is this, again?”

“Feta – it’s Greek, Madame.”

“I love it!”

Sookie was pretty sure Eric had tipped off the chef about the entreé, which was Chipotle Turkey Bacon Duck Breast in a Maple-Black Pepper Glaze with Cous-cous Risotto and California Avocado Crème Fraiche.

“You told them I like duck, didn’t you, Eric?”

“I might have mentioned it,” he gave her a sly smile and kissed her hand.

They pulled out all the stops for dessert, serving Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Geleé, homemade Marshmallow Fluff, and Caramel Popcorn.

“OK, I guess flying back here for dessert once a week or so is out of the question, right? Because this is AMAZING!” Sookie laughed. “I’ve never tasted anything like this! I wish I had a bag of this caramel popcorn to eat on the plane.”

Eric turned to the headwaiter and asked, “would that be possible? We leave at 9 o’clock.”

“It will be ready, your majesty,” and he motioned for one of the other waiters to go directly to the chef and get it working. Eric didn’t think Sookie would have time to eat on the plane with what he had planned, but she could always enjoy it in the cars or at home. Besides, he wanted to impress her by showing how he could have it made for her immediately. Fortunately, the chef had anticipated Sookie’s love for caramel corn and had a beautiful bag already made up along with some frozen packs of the “kiddie tartare” the babies liked so much, and it was all brought upstairs in a nice little cooler before they had finished their desserts.

At that point, it was time to pack up and by the time everyone pulled everything into the living room and the guards moved it downstairs, it was time to head for the airport. The boys fell asleep in the limo on the way to the airport and Sookie tore into the bag of popcorn. Eric was laughing to himself that she couldn’t possibly be hungry, but he was glad to see her enjoy herself and even ate a bit when she offered.

“That’s not bad. You know, corn had not been discovered in my part of the world when I was alive.”

“Oh, yeah, that’s a Native American thing, right?’

“Yes, I believe it is.”

“I bet I gained ten pounds in the last two days.”

“You haven’t gained an ounce that I can see, Sookie, and I would notice any change in your body, no matter how small.”

“Yeah, I know, I think my clothes actually feel a bit bigger.”

Eric laughed out loud, then caught himself because he was afraid of waking the babies. “When did you start fishing for compliments?”

“I wasn’t fishing, exactly, I just…”

“I told you how beautiful you look earlier.”

“True, you did.”

“And yet you are feeling neglected? Wait until we get on the plane, my Angel, and I will leave you in no doubt of how attractive you are to me,” he wiggled his eyebrows in that sexy way of his and Sookie’s motor instantly started running. Now she couldn’t sit still so her hand sneaked its way over into Eric’s lap and had his full attention instantly. “Sookie you know there are guards in the front seat.”

“Yeah, but it’s just Bjorn and Jerry…” she said with a wicked smile as she rose up and straddled his lap. Eric spread her skirt out a bit and put his hand up under, snapping the sides on the black lace thong she was wearing and pulling it from under her. She had her arms around his neck, running her tongue around the edge of his ear as he opened his jeans and raised her bottom so she was slowly impaled, then rubbed her clit with his thumb as she rode him up and down.

Bjorn and Jerry were trying desperately not to laugh. Eric and Sookie had obviously not noticed the window was open, and they hesitated to send it up and draw attention to it, but when Sookie began to moan, Bjorn couldn’t take it and put the window up.

Sookie moaned loudly then suddenly she and Eric heard the sound of the window between the back and the driver’s seat go up and they both cracked up – but didn’t stop.

“Ah! Ah! AH! AH! AH! AAAHHHHOOOOOOOO Goddess!” Sookie came and nearly fell, Eric just managing to hold onto her as he came, too.

“Uh-oh…”

“What is wrong, Sookie?”

“I’ve got nothing to clean up with and no underwear…”

“Aren’t there baby wipes in the diaper bags?”

“Oh, yeah,” she said as she climbed off of him and went to the bag, trying to keep from getting “stuff” on her white dress. As she was cleaning herself up, Bjorn buzzed the intercom and said, “we’re approaching the airport.”

“Thank you, Bjorn,” Eric buzzed back.

“I really wish I had a pair of panties right now.”

“You want me to have Alicia take one out for you?”

“No, that would call attention to it.”

“Are you sure you don’t have any?”

“Why would I?”

“Look in your tote bag.”

“Holy shit!”

“Find some?”

“Yeah, there’s a black thong just like I was wearing. Why is this here?”

“Alicia anticipated your needs. We’ll be careful not to destroy that pair so you have some to wear home.”

“So she knew… what?”

“That we’re going to fuck on the plane.”

“That’s embarrassing.”

“No, it’s not. Everyone knows. Everyone will hear. They always do. Just don’t think about it if it bothers you, though I don’t know why it would at this point.”

“Yeah, you’re right.”

“I’m right?”

“Yeah.”

“No argument?”

“No, no argument.”

Eric didn’t say anything. Did he want an argument? Was he disappointed that he no longer had to entice her to do things she was embarrassed to do? This was a positive development, right? It crossed his mind that he could always do something that would embarrass her anyway. A spanking was not out of the question and everyone would definitely hear that. He was picturing how much fun that would be when he realized Sookie was looking at him.

“What?”

“You wouldn’t dare…”

“Oh, but I will if I want to,” he gave her the biggest smirk she’d ever seen on his face.

Ah – there it was. That delicious mixture of excitement, lust and fear. That internal debate she has with herself when she doesn’t know which she wants more – to do it or not to do it. To talk him out of it, or to be made to go along. Now the only question was – how far did he want to take it?

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