LATE Chapter 103

Sookie on Channel 6

 

“Dadee?”

“Yes, my son?” Eric smiled and tried not to cry in front of everyone.

Alex tapped his left cheek and said, “dat!”

“He’s showing you where he was hurt, Eric,” Sookie told him softly.

“Is that where you were cut, Alex?”

“Eeah, an dat,” he pointed to his arm.

Eric kissed his cheek, then his arm, and said, “all better.”

“Dayoo!” Alex patted Eric’s cheeks with both hands and leaned forward to kiss him on the lips. “Oday, Dadee?”

“Yes, I’m OK. Are you OK?”

“Eeah. Me an Obee an Mamee wif Dadee seepeen!”

“Yes, you came downstairs with me when I was sleeping, didn’t you?”

“Fyeen ina chym,” Alex pointed up and went “BOO!” and waved his arms out big.

“Yes, Bjorn told me you were flying and there was a big boom. I’m sorry you were hurt, Alex, but you were a good boy to stay with Mommy.”

“Nah, sthtay wif Dadee!” Alex hugged him and almost broke his heart. Everyone at the table was fighting back tears. Margaret was silently putting dishes of food on the table, and motioned to a seat when Vincent came in with Bjorn.

“Yes, Vincent, stay and have dinner with us!” Eric followed her lead, trying to lighten the mood.

“Thank you, your majesty,” Vincent nodded and sat next to Eric, across from Sookie.

“Margaret is an amazing cook,” Sookie bragged on her. “Whatever we’re having will be great.”

“I’m afraid it’s just beef stew and homemade bread tonight, Missus.”

“Just?” Bjorn laughed. “You make the best stew I’ve ever had, Margaret, and I’ve had a lot of stew.”

“Yeah, and that bread smells fantastic,” Bobbie chimed in to help lighten the mood.

“Yes, Margaret, it even smells good to me,” Eric tried to play along, but he was still shaking at the thought of what almost happened.

“Here, Sweetie,” Sookie said, “try a piece with a pat of butter.” She took a slice from the platter Margaret put down and spread it thickly with the fresh butter.

Eric took a big bite, which tickled Alex to no end. “Dadee ee pood!”

“Yes, I’m eating bread. Good food!” Eric teased him and Alex opened his mouth, wanting a bite. Eric let him bite off a piece with his sharp new teeth and Alex hummed as he chewed.

“Ah wyg bwed!”

“Yes, it’s very good. Are you going to eat stew?”

“Wadiz doo?”

“Stew.”

“Sthdoo.” Alex repeated, trying to say it just like Dadee.

“Here you go, sir,” Margaret smiled and gave Eric a bowl that she’d cut into small chunks Alex could handle. She put one of pureed stew on Aubie’s tray and Sookie fed it to him, knowing Eric wasn’t going to let go of Alex any time soon, and she didn’t blame him. This was way, way too close.

“So, everyone, Vincent, Bjorn and I were talking about the idea of moving our travel date up a week or so. They feel we might be safer if we let things around here cool off a bit and do something no one expects us to do. Any ideas?”

“I have an idea,” Sookie said, to everyone’s surprise.

“What is that, Sookie?”

“I think we should go to Sang Riche New Orleans for a while.”

“Really? We hadn’t considered that,” Eric asked, “any particular reason?”

“Yes. They know about our house there, it’s not quite ready yet and they’ll probably be looking at Austin. Nobody expects us at Sang Riche New Orleans. It’s not even open yet, is it?”

“It’s open but the grand opening is not until the 15th. Bill, how would that affect our plans?”

“Well, we’ll have to cancel our tour of the territories, but I think that would be the best course of action, anyway.”

“Where is Pam tonight?”

“She went to Fangtasia, against my better judgment. She’s afraid they might try to strike there since their attempt today was unsuccessful.”

“Vincent, will she have adequate guards there tonight?”

“Yes, she will, and I sent escorts with her. She’s nearly as safe as she’d be here. We’re going to have metal detectors at the door tonight.”

“Really?”

“Yes, we just can’t take any chances right now. If you’re worried, I could go there now…”

“Eat your dinner first, it’s early. I would like you to get there before 11, since that’s when the door gets busy.”

“Yes, of course, if you don’t need me here?”

“We’ll be fine for tonight. Would you consider sheltering here tomorrow, just so you’re on the grounds?”

“Of course, your majesty.”

“The chalet we are in is very comfortable, Vincent – why don’t you take the extra bedroom there?” Bill suggested, nodding and smiling to Margaret as she handed him a warm RM.

“That’s an excellent idea,” Eric said, “would you mind taking it until we can get ourselves together to travel?”

“Of course, your majesty. That’s no problem at all.”

“Good.”

“Eric?”

“Yes, Sookie?”

“Can we go outside after dinner? I haven’t spent any time with Puff today, and I want him to get out and play a bit.”

“I hadn’t even thought about the dragon. How did you keep him hidden, Bjorn?”

“He burrowed back under the straw. They don’t like humans. Sookie teleported out to feed him earlier so he’s been fed once. One of the humanoid Daemons kept an eye on the building today while the police were here.”

“Alright, we’ll go out back for a bit and let your dragon play in the pool, Sookie. We have to figure out how to travel with him, you know.”

“All we have to do is shrink him. Alicia ordered another animal carrier. We’ll have a cat and dragon with us, so it’s going to get interesting,” she laughed.

“Yes, it will. It certainly won’t be boring,” he laughed. If Sookie could smile after a day like this, so could he.

“Excuse me, Mr. Northman?”

“Yes, Alicia?”

“You might want to watch the news tonight. I’m afraid they show the front of the house in their report, and say that it is rumored, but not confirmed, that you live here.”

“Did they name New Centurion?” Sookie asked

“No, but they did say police suspect it was a terrorist attack by a well-known paramilitary group.”

“Eric, I want to talk to the press.”

“I don’t know if that’s wise, Sookie.”

“Eric, if we don’t say anything that opens it all up to rumors and innuendo. We need to tell our side of the story.”

“She has a point, Eric,” Bill said, “the press adores Sookie and it would let her drive the narrative, so to speak.”

“How do you want to do it, Sookie?” Eric asked as he gave Alex another big spoonful of stew which had him humming with pleasure.

“I like that one reporter – Chelly Rodriguez – on channel 6. I want to call her and meet with her tomorrow. I’ll offer to let her and one camera in and I’ll tell her basically what we told the police.”

“Vincent, what do you think?”

“Well, on one hand, it confirms where you are, but on the other hand, Sookie is the best thing going for you. They love her. Put her in a pretty dress, and sit the boys next to her in matching outfits – that’s very effective PR.”

“I agree,” Bill said.

“I do, too,” Bjorn added, “the sight of her, as gentle as she seems, and the two angelic babies. It will make New Centurion look like monsters.”

“Alright, Sookie, when should you call her?”

“The sooner the better.”

“I’ll get the number for you, dear.” Alicia went back in the pantry to look up the news station and came back with the numZber and the cordless phone.

“OK, everybody, here goes,” Sookie said, steeling herself to having to do this because she knew it was the smartest course of action – she’d been thinking about it all afternoon.

“Hi, I’m calling for Chelly Rodriguez? My name is Sookie Northman. Yes, that’s right. Oh, good, thank you!” She put her hand over the phone and said, “they know me.”

They all looked at her expectantly – “they’re paging her,” she told them. “Oh, she is? Wonderful. Thanks. Hello, Ms. Rodriguez? My name is Sookie Northman. Yes, it’s been a very disturbing day. We’re all shaken… Well, actually, that’s the reason I called you. Is there any chance you could meet me at my house early tomorrow afternoon, just you and one camera?” She paused to listen. “Yes, I know we’re going to have to say something, and I always liked your reporting, so I thought it would be easier just to talk to one person and be done with it. Alright. Yes, 1 pm will be fine. Yes, of course, the babies will be with me, though they might doze off on you at that time. OK, great. I’ll see you tomorrow. Yes, we’ll tell the guards to expect you. Have a good night. Bye-bye. Margaret, can I get another bowl of stew, please? Thanks!”

The men were practically coming out of their chairs waiting for her to tell them what they already knew. “Yeah, she jumped at the chance,” she told them as she handed the phone back to Alicia. “She said she’s been looking for our number all day, but nobody she knew could come up with it. Alicia, is that white dress I wore in Las Vegas wearable?” Sookie asked as she handed the phone back to her.

“Yes, actually, it’s in your bedroom closet so it wasn’t damaged.”

“OK, great, and we’ll dress the boys in those little onesies you and Margaret bought them with the bears on them? They’re really sweet and they match but aren’t too matchy-matchy, you know? And Bobbie I’ll need you to dress up in case you need to help me with the boys.”

“OK, sure.”

“Wait – should I wear black?”

“I think the white dress would be lovely, dear,” Alicia assured her.

“Margaret, will it be too much trouble to make tea and some finger sandwiches?”

“Not at all, Missus.”

“OK, I’m going to just act like I’m having a friend over for tea, and I’ll let Alex flirt with her a little and I’ll tell them how horrible it was and we know it’s New Centurion, and all that,” Sookie said mostly to herself, planning out what she was going to do.

“Bjorn, you’ll be there, too, I hope?” Eric asked.

“Yes, I will.”

“I’ll be there as well, since these are people we don’t know,” Vincent said as he looked at his watch. “I think I should get to Fangtasia now, and I’ll be back when Pam closes.”

“Alright, Vincent, thank you for your help,” Eric nodded, only looking away from Alex for a second.

Vincent stood, bowed to Sookie, “your Majesty,” and left. That gave Sookie a little rush but she didn’t know why.

“OK, time to play with my dragon!” Sookie said, “Come on, Aubie,” she said as she took him out of his highchair.

“Let’s go outside for a bit, Alex.” Eric said as he put him up to his shoulder.

“Fyeen?”

“No flying, tonight, Alex. Daddy wants to keep you close, OK?”

“Oday, sthtay wif Dadee,” Alex said as he put his arms around Eric’s neck. Alex knew instinctively that Eric wanted to keep him close because of what happened that day, though he didn’t really know what that was. He just knew it was bad and Daddy wasn’t happy about it. Alex wasn’t happy about it, either.

Bjorn walked to the summer kitchen with Sookie and Aubie, opening the door for her. She turned on the light and saw that Puff had relieved himself on the paper they put down for him.

“Hey, Puffy! Good boy going on the paper! You were good staying hidden today. Come out and swim for a bit, OK?” Puff crawled out of the corner and let her pet his head, then he stretched his head up so Aubie could pet him. Sookie led him back outside as one of the guards cleaned up and replaced the paper. Puff ran ahead a little and rolled in the grass, folding his wings back so he could roll completely over and scratch his back. He sort of barked a little then he made a beeline for the pool and dove in. Eric was standing beside the pool with Alex, who was absolutely fascinated with the dragon.

“Dwadon, Dadee!”

“Yes, Mommy has a real dragon, hasn’t she?”

“Eeah, weew dwadon.”

“What did you name him, Sookie? Puff?”

“Yep, his name is Puff.”

“PUP!” Alex said happily, waving his arms and wanting desperately to swim with Mamee’s dwadon.

Sookie walked over next to them and let Eric wrap his arm around her and Aubie, so the four of them were snuggled together for the first time tonight, finally. Bjorn was hanging back to give them some privacy as they stood there silently, enjoying the feeling of being a family, shaken but safe for the moment.

“Eric, how soon could we leave for New Orleans?”

“Tomorrow night. I’m going to tell Vincent and Bill to do what they have to do to get us together. Tell Alicia to pack whatever she thinks we’ll need and we’ll go. I don’t want you here alone for a while.”

“I’m never alone, but I know what you mean. I’ll feel better someplace else.”

“We’re taking a risk by going, but I want you and the boys in a safe spot.”

“What are we going to do, Eric?”

“We’re going to New Orleans.”

“You know what I mean. What do we do about Garner?”

“I’m not sure yet, but rest assured, we will do something. We’re not going to wait for them to come at us again. Now we take the fight to them.”

“Good, because they’re not going to stop. I can’t believe they tried again so soon after the Dallas attempt.”

“Nor can I. I’m wondering if there’s a specific goal. He’s expending a lot of manpower in a very short span of time. I wonder that his organization can sustain such losses.”

“He wasn’t planning to lose them, though, right?”

“Not all of them, certainly. He must be paying them a great deal to get them to pull such a brazen attack. It will be interesting to see what their next move is.”

“I’ll talk to Freyja about it the next time I see her.”

“Good idea. We need to use all the resources available to us. This was much too close. They’ll not get this close again, my Angel, mark my words.”

“How are we getting to New Orleans?”

“We’ll fly this time. We’re vulnerable a much shorter time that way. We’ll travel at night so we’re harder to follow.” He was hesitant to let them go, but he forced himself. “Stay with your pet for a bit, Sookie, while I brief everyone on what we’re doing. I’ll keep Alex with me, if you don’t mind.”

“Of course not, Sweetie!” Sookie kissed him and let him go as he motioned to Bjorn to follow him, also motioning to Jerry as he came in from the chalet to see what the plan was going to be.

Back in the kitchen, Eric called Alicia and Margaret from the pantry.

“What would it take for you ladies to have us ready to leave by midnight tomorrow night?” He asked, stroking Alex’s back more to comfort himself than Alex.

“Well, it would take some work, but I think I could have Sookie packed by then,” Alicia said, “Your clothing is all in good condition, so we can just throw it in a suitcase. I can continue to work on Sookie’s clothes once we get there. Some things will need to go to a dry cleaner, anyway.”

“We’ll have that done through the club. We’re going to go to Sang Riche New Orleans since the house isn’t quite ready and no one expects us there. Margaret, can you be ready?”

“Of course, Mr. Northman, unless you’d prefer that I stay here?”

“Wouldn’t you be afraid to do that?” Eric liked the idea, but knew it was asking a lot.

“Not at all, with the extra guards. Someone needs to oversee the repairs on the roof and the grounds. I think I should stay in case Vincent needs me here. You won’t need a cook at the club, but the workers here will, and I think it’s too much to leave to Carrie. I can come down once the house is settled and meet you at the New Orleans house when you get there.”

“That makes sense. I want you to do what you feel is best, Margaret…”

“I’ll stay here until the 10th, just as we’d planned, then I’ll come join you.”

“That’s very sweet of you, Margaret. I can’t… I,” Eric couldn’t think of what he wanted to say.

“It’s alright, Mr. Northman. I know what you feel. Alicia and I will have to get to work if we’re going to have you all ready to travel.”

“Yes, we will. If you don’t mind, Mr. Northman, I’ll go get my own things together first, so I can focus on Mrs. Northman’s things.”

“Of course, Alicia, do whatever you need to do. Thank you both. Bjorn, Jerry, you’ll need to coordinate our travel guards with Vincent. Jerry, do you want me to heal Amelia’s arm?”

“Actually, I was going to ask if Sookie or Aubie could do it? She wouldn’t have to drink your blood that way and it would spare you the connection.”

“Sookie? Can she heal?”

“She healed a knot on my head yesterday,” Bjorn told him, “now that I think about it. Couldn’t hurt to try, could it?”

“Alright, then I want her back in bed immediately. I’ve no idea what kind of strain that might be on her, but there’s no point in Amelia suffering unnecessarily. You two do what you need to do and I’ll ask Sookie if she wants to try it.”

Bjorn and Jerry headed straight to the Servant’s Quarters and Eric went out to stand next to Sookie and Aubie.

“Someone made a suggestion, Sookie, that I want you to consider, but if your instinct says not to, I want you to follow that instinct.”

“What is it, Sweetie?”

“What would you think about trying to heal Amelia’s arm?”

Sookie’s eyes popped. “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Eric laughed, “I confess, it didn’t think of it, either. Do you think it might cause too much strain? You have to think of the baby first.”

“Let’s try it. Where’s Jerry?”

“Coming back right now. Jerry? Should you take Sookie in to Amelia?”

“I want to take Aubie and I want you and Alex to come, too, Eric,” Sookie asked.

“As you wish. Would that be too many people in your house, Jerry? We don’t want to make Amelia uncomfortable.”

“No, come on in. Bjorn is going up to tell Bobbie she needs to pack their stuff. I think the washing machine is going to be going all night,” Jerry laughed.

“I’m sorry to inconvenience everyone, but I think this is the best course of action.”

“I agree with you, especially if people start cruising the house trying to get a glimpse of the boys.”

“I hadn’t even thought of that!” Sookie said as they arrived at the chalet door. Jerry held it open letting Sookie and Aubie, then Eric and Alex, go through first, then he lead them up the stairs and into the bedroom on the right.

Jerry knocked on the door, then peeked in, “Amelia? Can you handle a little company?”

“Mmm? Yeah, sure. Who is it?”

“Hi, Sweetie!” Sookie came through the door with Aubie, which made Amelia smile, then she was pleasantly surprised to see Eric and Alex behind her. “Eric! I never expected you to come calling,” she laughed, obviously groggy from her medicine.

“Yes, well, hopefully, I’m bringing you some help.”

“They thought maybe I might be able to heal you, Amelia, because I did that bump Bjorn had yesterday, remember?”

“Oh, I never thought of that! Do you think you can?”

“It’s worth a shot!” Sookie said with a big smile as she and Aubie sat on the bed next to her.

Before anyone could speak again, Aubie pointed at Amelia’s arm in the splint and said, “Nah nah, Mama!”

“Yeah, Amelia got hurt, didn’t she?”

“Umma!” Aubie pointed his finger at Amelia and leaned toward her, so Sookie held him so he could reach her. “Ah, bah, bah buh, nah nah” he chattered playfully as he tapped his finger up and down Amelia’s arm three times. “BAH!” He leaned back and threw his hands up with a flourish to show he was done.

“Oh, my Goddess…”Amelia said with surprise. “It doesn’t hurt! AH!” she started to move too quickly, forgetting about her ribs. She leaned back, trying to catch her breath. The bottom button of Amelia’s blue striped pajama top was undone and Aubie could see the tape on her tummy.

“Nah nah!” he said, making a circle over the tape with his finger. All at once, the tape fell away from Amelia’s skin like it was paper. Amelia stretched a little as Aubie said “bah!” with a satisfied air.

“He fixed it!” Amelia sat up with no pain at all.

“Good boy, Aubie!” Sookie was tickled to death to see Aubie help her that way.

“Thanks, Kiddo!” Amelia leaned forward and hugged Aubie, giving him a big kiss on the cheek that made him giggle. Eric and Jerry both laughed with delight and Alex clapped his little hands, knowing what Buddy had done. “Dood, Buggy!”

“Very good, Auberon!” Eric praised him as Sookie stood back up with him.

“Bah, Dada!” He said with obvious pride on his face as Eric kissed his head.

“Me, Buggy!” Alex leaned forward and kissed Obee just like Dadee had, and that made Aubie just as proud.

Aubie yawned then, and Sookie said, “ooh – sleepy Aubie!”

“Seepy Obee!” Alex giggled.

“Aubie is very sleepy, it seems,” Eric said, “healing appears to have taken a lot out of him, Sookie.”

“Yeah, he does feel tired all of a sudden. This has been a long day.”

“Very stressful, too. I think you and the boys should go to bed and let me finish some work, then I will come join you as soon as I can.”

“You’ll need to work with Bjorn, your Majesty, so I’ll go in and watch them,” Jerry suggested.

“Yes, I would appreciate that. I’m sorry to take him away from you, Amelia, but…”

“Don’t worry about that, Eric, I’m fine now,” Amelia said, almost giddy from suddenly being pain-free. “The boys’ safety has to come first.”

Jerry tucked Amelia in so she could get some sleep, then walked back to the house with Sookie and Aubie, carrying Alex in his arms as Alex chattered him about the “bee boo!” and laughing at how cute it was when he tried to talk.

“Oops! I almost forgot about Puff!” Sookie said as the little dragon crawled out of the pool on hearing her and walked her way, making soft Wookie sounds. “Come on, Puffy, time for bed!” Sookie held the door to the summer kitchen open with her leg and let Puffy go in, giving him a pet and plenty of praise and letting Aubie and Alex touch him as he purred. You could tell Puff liked the boys, especially their scent which he flicked his tongue out several times to enjoy. Once he’d had his fill of attention, Puff walked on all fours back into the room with the big bed of straw and rolled around on the floor. Sookie left him with a pile of fish, and left the screen door open as they had the night before.

While Jerry, Sookie and the boys tended to her dragon. Eric headed for the HQ in the servant’s quarters where Rafael, Bjorn and Bill had been discussing strategy. They knew without question that Eric was going to hit New Centurion back hard, so they were trying to decide how to do it. They had maps of Garner’s three known estates spread out, one on top of the other, on the table used for the guards’ meals.

“Gentlemen,” Eric said as he entered, “any suggestions?”

“One question, Eric – are we going for a strike or total destruction?” Bjorn asked.

“Total destruction is out of the question because too many in Congress have financial interests in Garner’s company. To take him out will have to be a very covert operation.”

“You mean Sookie?” Bill asked with concern.

“Yes, but that’s step 2. Step 1 is to let him know we can take him whenever we want, so he’d best forget about us and mind his own affairs.”

“That’s unusually… restrained, Eric,” Bill was surprised.

“We have to do this without bringing the Feds down on us. Also, I want to be sure that Sookie knows he’s had his one warning so she’ll feel no guilt when she kills him.”

“Alright, if you want destruction without bringing the Feds into it, I say we blow up their training camp,” Bjorn suggested. “His family won’t be there, but taking it out could seriously damage his ability to fight us or anyone else.”

“How many?’

“8 fliers, 8 IEDs, that covers every building and shed, and should take out their explosives, too,” Bjorn said. “I recommend that you not be there, Eric. In fact, I recommend that you be seen somewhere public so it won’t be traced back to you.”

“Bill, do we have 8 men capable of doing this?”

“Yes, we do – the 4 Australians, the Bolivian pair, plus 2 that just came to us from Giselle.”

“When?” Eric asked, determined.

“I recommend waiting until the police have finished their investigation. If you hit them right now, they’ll come right back to you,” Bjorn was stating the obvious, but he knew Eric wouldn’t like it, anyway.

“Alright, then, we wait a month, then we wipe out the camp.”

“Is that all we’re going to do, Eric?” Bjorn knew it wasn’t.

“No, it’s not, but it’s the plan for right now. Proceed with your plan to meet Jack in New Orleans. By the time we get that done, I’ll have figured out our next move. This is far from over. Is there anything else?”

“That’s all we’ve got right now.”

“Alright, I’m going to spend time with my family.” Eric was out of the office like a shot, so quickly he was able to take the elevator upstairs with Sookie, carrying some bottles she was trying to balance with Aubie in her arms. “I’m finished for the night, Jerry, so you can see if Bjorn needs you. Our meeting was accomplished very quickly,” Eric said, happy to take Alex back from Jerry, snuggling him and kissing his head.

“Thanks, your majesty. I’ll see you at sun-up.”

“Thank you.”

Eric and Sookie stepped onto the elevator, each holding a baby and two bottles of RM, and stood leaning against each other but not speaking until they stepped out on the third floor. When they reached the bedroom door, Alex zipped out of Eric’s arms and landed sitting in the co-sleeper, saying “woogie, Dadee, ah wyg ma bed!”

Eric and Sookie laughed at him, and Aubie joined in, everyone feeling much safer and more serene now that they were together and alone. Sookie put Aubie down next to Alex and they sat there watching Eric and Sookie as Eric hugged her tight, kissed her on the head, then grabbed the hem of the long black gown she was wearing and pulled it over her head. They were both cracking up now as Sookie pulled back the covers and crawled into her side while Eric took off his boots, then shirt and pants, throwing them on the floor and slipping into bed next to Sookie at Vampire speed, wrapping her tightly in his arms.

“Wow – you’re not even going to hang up your clothes?” Sookie laughed as he buried his nose in her neck and growled deeply in his chest. She stopped laughing when he shuddered and sobbed, holding her as tight as he ever had before. She knew he was crying into her hair, so she was quiet and let him cling to her until he had control of himself. After a few minutes, he pulled back and looked in her eyes, bloody tears staining his face, and Sookie licked the tears off his cheeks as he closed his eyes, marveling that she knew exactly what he needed in that moment. Sookie stroked his hair and they looked at each other without speaking for a long time.

Suddenly, Alex and Aubie landed right between/on top of them, and everyone laughed. Eric moved back just a little and they got the boys settled in between them, pulled the covers up, and Eric turned the light off and stretched his long, muscular arm over them all. Everyone but Eric was asleep in just a minute, feeling safe in his arms and he let their sense of safety and love wash over him as he lay quietly holding his family. In about half an hour, Sookie opened her eyes and smiled at him, though she couldn’t really see him. She knew he could see her, and when she went to touch his face, he took her hand and kissed her palm, then let her rest it against his cheek.

Sookie concentrated for a minute, and gently sent the boys into the co-sleeper behind her. Eric pulled her close and kissed her for what seemed like hours, quietly, stroking her back, her hip, gently grasping her bottom cheek more to reassure himself than to turn her on. She could tell that rather than rocking the house, tonight he needed to have her close, to feel her tenderness and know she was his. She half expected him to flip her over, but when she pictured it, she heard him think he just wanted to be quiet and feel loved. She tried not to push the process forward, which wasn’t easy when he began to stroke and probe her with his fingers. She heard him thinking, “slow, Sookie, slow,” and she tried to give herself over to it, trying to let herself relax completely though her center was gripping and longing for him to take her. When he finally did slip slowly into her, she moaned with relief and nipped at his earlobe gently. She saw in his mind that he was picturing them on a dance floor, swaying together, he spinning her around so she felt she was flying, and somewhere, they actually were. They moved together and apart in a slow, sensual dance, both awash in the feeling that there was no difference between them, like they were one entity, throbbing in time with Sookie’s heart, Eric’s body synchronizing with her pulses and rhythms. It started as a low, cold shimmer of purple, growing and unfurling like the opening of a rose, flowering hot, luxurious reds and pinks, leaving them exhausted and warm and even Eric slept for a while in her arms.

“Mamee!”

Eric woke up as Alex called for Sookie, amazed that he’d actually slept. Sookie stirred as he reached for Alex, and he helped her get settled on her side to feed him. They talked quietly about baby clothes and the plan for tomorrow as Alex fed leisurely, but not for very long. Aubie woke up as Sookie put Alex down next to him and she stayed facing the crib while she fed him, Eric snuggled up behind, stroking his back as he suckled. Aubie sleepily looked Sookie in the eye, occasionally looking up at Dada with a twinkle in the deep blues, so much like Eric’s.

When Aubie was tucked back in next to Alex, kitten between them, Eric tore his wrist and slipped his arm under her head and up so she could drink from it. As she started to come, he bit her shoulder and drank deeply, his arm over her hip, stroking her as the two were writhing together, moaning loudly as they reached a spectacular, deep, hard release that left them both laughing from the intensity of it.

“Wow,” Sookie laughed, “that was a big one!” She rolled on her back so they were both looking at the ceiling.

“Yes, it was, especially since we were only drinking.”

“There’s no “only” about it, Eric, that’s when we connect the deepest,” she rolled to face him, stroking his chest gently and kissing his shoulder.

“You feel that, too?” He was playing with her hand because he felt too vulnerable to look her in the eye.

“Eric, you know I do!” She was surprised that he didn’t understand that it went both ways.

“Sometimes I can’t tell where I end and you begin…” he said softly.

“Because we don’t. We’re one, in a way no one else on earth is. We’re a whole lot more than bonded at this point. Have you ever known a bonded couple that could hear each other’s thoughts?”

“No, I haven’t, but that’s all you. I’ve never known anyone that could do the things that you do so easily.”

“It is NOT all me. It’s you and me TOGETHER that makes the magick, Eric. Why are you so down on yourself? I’ve never heard you this way before. Where’s my cocky, confident, knows-he’s-the-hottest-thing-walking Viking?”

“You needed me today and I couldn’t protect you.”

“You DID protect me, Eric. You had Bjorn in the room with me and Jerry was with the boys. We had fences around the property, armed guards, werewolves and daemons, even that crazy sprinkler system for the roof. Nobody in the world could have kept us any safer.”

“Sookie, if I ever lost you…”

“Shut up!” She put her hand over his mouth. “Don’t you jinx us. I’m not going anywhere. I’m fine, the boys are fine, you’re fine and we are ALWAYS going to be together. Freyja went to too much trouble to bring us all together so you be grateful, and thank Her for giving us all the resources and opportunities we have, and get focused on our next move.”

Eric laughed against her fingers and kissed them, looking her in the eye and saying, “I love you, Sookie Northman.”

“And I love you. Now, you’re going to rub my back while I fall asleep, then you’ll feed the boys and read to them, and when you get up tonight we’re going to get the heck out of Dodge, right?”

“Dodge?”

“It’s an expression – just agree with me!”

“Sounds like a plan.”

“Good.”

“Do you want me to get Bobbie to rub your back?”

“No, if you don’t mind, I really want you to do it. It’ll make us both feel grounded.”

Eric smiled at her and she kissed him on the nose, then turned her back to him. He smiled to himself the whole 15 minutes it took to lull her to sleep, knowing she knew exactly what he needed in that moment and gave it to him. She always did. She always would.

He knew he should work, but he indulged himself by staying in bed until the boys woke up for their final feeding.

“Dada?” Aubie woke first and Eric gently lifted the covers and floated up out of the bed to hover over the co-sleeper. Aubie giggled as Eric picked him up and Alex awoke and floated up into Eric’s other arm. They slipped silently through the air and Eric came to rest sitting cross-legged on the nursery floor. He set Aubie down on his bottom, but Alex didn’t want to sit, he insisted on standing and looking around. Eric watched him closely, and so did Aubie, who said, “wo, Bumby!” and made Eric laugh.

“Auberon, do you see brother walking around?” He asked as he put Aubie up on his knee.

“Ah, Bumby!” He pointed and smiled up at Eric, and Eric kissed his head and rubbed his back.

Alex toddled all around the room, looking up at the shelves full of toys and clothes, taking note of all the furniture, recognizing the table where he got his “doo nap-pees” and the chair where Dadee read him “boogs”. He was headed for the crib when he noticed the little rocking pony on the floor.

“Woogie, Dadee! Dat?”

“That’s a pony, Alex. Want to ride the pony?”

“Wyd?”

Eric pulled the pony out to the center of the room, sitting Aubie on the floor for a minute while he put Alex on the pony’s back. “Alright, my son, you hold on there,” he put Alex’s little hand on the handles at the back of the pony’s head. “Can you hold on, Alexander?”

“Eeah!” This was pun! Eric balanced Aubie on his knee again and used one hand to rock the pony gently as Alex made his “haaaa!” sound, holding on just the way Dadee showed him. Eric rocked him until Alex said, “Obee an me undwy, Dadee.”

“Alright, boys, let’s have our dinner.” He sat Alex and Aubie in their little bouncers and got the little covered dishes of food Margaret had fixed for them. Alex had a baby’s version of Vienna sausages and absolutely loved them, plus some grated carrot, cucumber and celery in a little salad mixed with cottage cheese. Aubie had a packet of carrots, apples and parsnips that he loved, and Eric got a big kick of the way he still opened his mouth very big to wait for another bite. When they finished their food, there were warm bottles of blood for each boy. Alex sat in his bouncer and held his own bottle to drink, and Eric cradled Aubie in his arm as he held the bottle for him. Aubie fell asleep before he had quite finished his bottle and Alex was yawning, so Eric tucked them back in next to Sookie and stroked their little backs until both were asleep.

“Your majesty?” Jerry called softly from the stairs.

“Come in, Jerry, I’m just kissing everyone good night.”

Eric gave Sookie her Ambrosia  and lingered as long as he could, feeling a bit of panic at the thought of leaving them, but eventually, he had no choice and he prayed as hard as he could that Freyja would watch over them while he rested.

Sookie was dreaming, but she couldn’t see anything.

“Freyja?”

“Not this morning, My Angel. You need your rest. We’ll speak again when you’re in New Orleans.”

“But…”

“Don’t worry, Sookie, you’ll know what to do and when to do it.”

“Mrs. Northman?”

Sookie’s eyes popped open. “Hey, Alicia. It’s early, isn’t it?”

“Yes, you have to eat your breakfast and get yourself and the boys dressed for your interview at 1.”

Sookie struggled a bit to sit up and let Alicia set the tray across her lap. “Oh, goodie! Pancakes!”

“Yes, and the boys are getting some, too. I figured you’d take them in the shower anyway, so we’d let them have fun.”

“Pood!” Alex sat up rubbing his eyes. “Borhd?”

“I’m right here, Alex.”

“Wiwoo peed me bwepuss?”

“Sure I will, Buddy, come on.”

Alex flew back to Bjorn and gave him a hug as Alicia sat his little plate of silver dollar sized pancakes and warm butter and syrup to dip them in. Alicia then put a blue bib with a bear on it around Alex’s neck. “Wadiz dat, Eesh?”

“That’s a bib to keep you from getting syrup all over you and Bjorn,” she teased him and tickled his tummy, which made him giggle and drool a bit, which she dabbed at with the bib. She picked Aubie up and sat in the other chair, putting a bib on him and giving him small bits of pancake soaked in butter and syrup.

“Obee aba beeb?”

“Yes, Aubie has a bib, too,” Alicia coached him as Sookie ate, smiling at how cute Alex was.

“Obee atha beeb, doo,” Alex repeated, turning his attention to the little pancakes. He remembered how to dip them in the little cup of syrup and gnaw on them with his new teeth. “Eesh, wadiz dat?” He held up a little pancake.

“Pancake”

“Pandate!” Alex repeated. “Wadiz dat?” He stuck his finger in the syrup and stuck it in his mouth.

“Syrup,”

“Stheewup. Ah wyg stheewup.”

Bjorn was trying not to laugh out loud as he held Alex, but the kid was too funny. He loved to see him learn new words and he occasionally had to wipe syrup from his arms as he ate because he was sticking not just the pancake but his whole hand in the syrup. Aubie insisted on testing the syrup with his finger the way he always did before he would eat any of it, and he was gumming the soft pieces Alicia fed him with great gusto.

Sookie was watching them as she finished her stack quickly, thinking how cute they were and how much they were enjoying themselves. “So pancakes are a big hit again, Alicia,” she laughed.

“Most little kids enjoy sweet stuff, but these two are just precious when they’re eating something they enjoy. We may have to hose Alex and Bjorn both down after this, though,” Alicia laughed, too.

“He’s not getting any on me so far,” Bjorn laughed, “but he’d climb right into that bowl of syrup if he could.”

“Dood stheewup!” Alex nodded in that exaggerated way of his and made them all crack up.

When the boys were done, Alicia wiped them both down with a warm washcloth and helped Sookie get them ready to dance, Alex sitting behind Aubie on Sookie’s tummy.

“OK, guys, ready?” Sookie teased them, two little wrists in each hand, “Come on, baby! Let’s do they Twist! Come on Baaa-beh! Let’s do the Twist! Take me by the little ha –and, and go like this!” Sookie sang and jiggled the boys and they cracked up, as always, Alex laying his head on Aubie’s shoulder, which tickled Aubie’s ear and made him laugh harder. Before long, Aubie, had hiccups and Sookie pulled him into a hug and patted his little back. “Aww, Sweetie! You OK, Aubie? Huh? You got the hiccups again.” Aubie giggled and hic’d a few more times, but he settled down pretty quickly. Alicia helped Sookie shower with the boys using the system Bobbie had come up with where they wait on towels in the tub, and pretty soon Bobbie and Amelia were diapering and dressing the boys while Alicia did Sookie’s hair and makeup. They all made it into the living room at about quarter after 12.

Margaret had the room gleaming and spotless, and you could tell that the floor was freshly vacuumed and even the front windows sparkled. The fountain looked particularly pretty today the way the sun was hitting it and Sookie was very proud of the way the house looked. The playpen was set up next to the window and the boys were happily engaged in playing with the shape sorting house with the red roof, Alex showing Aubie how the little plastic shapes fit into the holes. “Woogie, Obee, pywamid, Isthisth, dat!” Then he’d reach inside and pull the shape out and guide Aubie to put it in the right hole.

Bobbie was standing next to them just listening to them chatter with each other and she was beginning to think she picked out certain sounds that weren’t words, but the other boy seemed to know what they meant. She began to wonder if Alex and Aubie were developing their own language, or if maybe they could read each other’s thoughts. She didn’t have time to mention it, though, as Margaret was setting up the brass cart with a beautiful two tiered china server with finger sandwiches, crystal pitchers of sweet tea and raspberry tea, and a matching three-tiered server of petits fours and éclairs, napoleons and really fancy chocolate covered strawberries.

Sookie came down looking pretty as a picture in her white dress and a white headband, white Papillio sandals and her favorite Elsa Peretti diamonds-by-the-yard jewelry, which looked really nice with the aquamarine amulet she couldn’t take off.

“Wow, Margaret, this all looks amazing!” Sookie was impressed with all the things Margaret had prepared for her guests. “What is all this?”

“The sandwiches are cucumber and watercress with tarragon butter; a special shrimp and cream cheese recipe of my own; a walnut-nutmeg spread; and apple and Boursin cheese on walnut raisin bread.”

“They’re so pretty! No crusts!”

“I made the bread myself in “pain de mie” pans so they don’t really form a crust so there’s not so much waste.”

“Is there any reason some are in strips and some are triangular?”

“Just a little variety to make a prettier presentation, Missus.”

“OK and these are the deserts? Those are petits fours, right?”

“Yes, and mini éclairs and napoleons.”

“OK, and sweet tea?” Sookie asked and Margaret nodded, “and…?”

“Raspberry tea, Missus, and this one is mint tea.”

“Oh, I’ve never had those!”

“Would you like a glass now?”

“Yeah, I would. I’ll try the raspberry, please.”

Margaret filled a tall elegant looking glass with ice from a gold metallic ice bucket and poured Sookie some tea. “We’ve also got hot tea, of course, and coffee if anyone prefers that.”

“Pretty tea service,” Sookie never really looked at her tea set up close but it was beautiful with soft pink roses on a dappled leafy green background.

“If anyone should ask, this is Heirloom’s Lady Diana Chintz pattern. It’s fine Romanian bone china, decorated in Staffordshire, England,” Margaret told her.

“Excuse me, Margaret?” Bjorn was in the kitchen door, “are these little bottles on the counter RM for the boys?”

“Yes, we were just going to warm them in case the boys got hungry or fussy.”

“OK, I’m going to shake a little out of one of them onto a couple of gauze pads – that won’t hurt anything with it, right?”

“No, I don’t see why it would.”

“What are you doing, Bjorn?” Sookie could have listened in but didn’t feel like it.

“I’m going to put a little on some gauze that we can put on Alex’s cheek and arm. He’s supposed to be hurt, remember?”

“Oh, good idea.”

Bjorn went back into the kitchen and came back with the bandages. Sookie pulled Alex up out of the playpen and held him as Bjorn put a large-ish bandage on Alex’s cheek and a larger gauze pad with adhesive around the edges on Alex’s upper arm.

“Wadiz dat, Borhd?”

“Bandages. Remember where you were hurt? You need to look like you’re still hurt for TV.”

“Dee bee?”

“Yeah, we’re going to be on TV, Sweetie, me and you and Aubie,” Sookie explained it, not sure if he would understand or not.

“Me dee bee?”

“Yes, you’re going to be on TV to talk about yesterday.”

“Bee boo?”

“Right, we’re going to tell the news lady about the big boom.”

“Oday!” Alex understood more than Sookie even suspected, and went right back to teaching Aubie about the shapes once she put him back in the playpen.

Bjorn’s phone rang and he answered. “OK, Sookie, they’re here. Vincent will direct them into the driveway and bring them in the front door.”

“OK, do I look alright?”

“You look beautiful. Eric’s going to be beside himself when he sees you on the news tonight,” Bjorn assured her. It still amazed him that she had no idea how hot she was.

Vincent met the news van in the driveway, smiling and laughing to himself because he saw the look on the reporters face when she saw him. Even if he couldn’t read her thoughts, her face gave it all away. He was sure she’d be star-struck meeting Sookie and the boys, so that worked very well for their cause. He walked to the passenger side door and offered her his hand as she stepped down.

“Ms. Rodriguez? I’m Vincent Oliveri, the King’s head of security. Welcome!”

“Hello, this,” she indicated the side door, where a guy about 27 who was having trouble leaving his hippie college days behind was climbing down, “Is my sound man, Kevin Turner, and our driver over here,” she indicated a shaggy, tough-looking guy who’d fit in better on a battlefield in Afghanistan than he would in Sookie’s living room, “is my camera man, Howard Wise.”

“Mr. Wise, you’ve spent time overseas, I believe?”

“Oh, yeah, I was embedded with some troops in Iraq for almost a year. How’d you know that?”

“Your resume is very impressive. I spoke to your HR people this morning so I could clear all of you for entry. We’re normally strict about who gets on the property, but given the events of yesterday, we must be doubly vigilant while the royal family is here.”

“Oh, would it be possible for us to speak to the carpenters first?” Chelly wanted to ask about the damage and get some pictures.

“We can certainly ask.” Vincent held his arm out for her to proceed toward the scaffolding the contractors were using. The foreman was looking at the plans and making sure they had everything they needed for the work they could finish today as they approached. “Tim, can we bother you for a minute, please?”

“Sure, Vincent, what’s up?” He came over just as Howard hoisted the camera to his shoulder and turned it on.

“This is Chelly Rodriguez from the channel 6 news. She has some questions about the damages. Ms. Rodriguez, this is Foreman Tim di Angelis.”

“Hi, it’s nice to meet you. This looks like quite a job!”

“Yeah, it’s going to take more work to get to the roof than actually fixing the roof its self.”

“How much damage is there?”

“There’s a hole about 15 feet high and 25 feet wide, and it goes all the way through.”

“Oh, my! Was anyone injured?”

“A guard was hit on the head by falling debris, the Queen’s friend had her arm nearly broken and one of the babies sustained some serious cuts.”

“Oh, my god! One of the little Princes was injured! I had no idea!”

“Yes,” Vincent said, “Alex, the bigger boy. He’s doing well now, though he did lose consciousness briefly, but he’s seen his doctor and there’s no permanent damage.”

“What kind of doctor does he see, if I may ask? He doesn’t see a normal pediatrician, does he?”

“The Queen could probably answer that better than I. I’m sure she’s waiting if you’d like to go on in?”

“Oh, yes, I can’t wait to meet her.”

“Shall we?”

Vincent guided them all into the house, where Sookie was still checking out the goodies Margaret had prepared and she turned when they walked in and gave them all a big smile.

“Hi, everybody! Come on in – I’m Sookie, and you’re Chelly, of course and who are your friends?”

“Howard Wise is my camera man and Kevin Turner is my sound man. What a beautiful home you have!”

Sookie shook hands with each of them. “Oh, thank you! I thought maybe we’d want to do the interview here on the couch and we can put the babies between us, if you want. Just tell us what you all need to get set up. You’ve met Vincent, I see, and this is my bodyguard, Bjorn, and Margaret has some snacks ready if you’d like a glass of iced tea, hot tea or coffee, and we’ve got finger sandwiches and pastries. Just make yourselves at home.” Bobbie came out of the kitchen then and Sookie added, “Oh, this is my doula, Bobbie James. She’s here to help with the babies if we need her.

Bjorn showed the men where they could access an electrical outlet, and they moved the side chairs back toward the wall/window to give them room to set up their cameras, and Bjorn set the playpen, boys and all, just inside the dining room door. Chelly and Sookie got themselves a little plate of finger sandwiches and Chelly decided to try the iced mint tea. Gradually, once the camera was on its tripod and everything plugged in as necessary, Howard and Kevin tried a couple of small sandwiches and both opted for black coffee. Bjorn saw them looking at the little sandwiches, giving them a sympathetic nod and saying “chick food,” and they all laughed softly.

Sookie and Chelly sat on the couch and chatted for a few minutes, then Chelly couldn’t wait any longer and said, “I’m dying to meet your little boys.”

“Oh, of course! Bobbie…?”

“Be right back,” Bobbie smiled and went into the dining room, Bjorn close behind, and they brought the boys out together. They put Aubie closer to Sookie and Alex closer to Chelly, knowing Alex would want to flirt as he always did.

Howard and Kevin quietly turned the equipment on and recorded the conversation the women were having about the babies.

“Oh, my! They’re just beautiful!” Chelly was instantly in love. “OK, one is bigger than the other, I see?”

“Yes, the older one, Eric Alexander here, in the brighter blue onesie, is the one most people are already familiar with. This is Eric Auberon in the light blue. He had some problems when he was born, and you can see he’s smaller than Alex, so we kept him out of the public eye so he had some time to grow and get stronger before we brought him out with us.”

“Did you say his name is Eric Oberon? Like the King of the Fairies?”

“Yes, but it’s spelled with an A-U at the beginning instead of an O so they have the same initials.”

“That’s a very unusual name – how did you come up with it?”

“It was given to him by his god Mother.”

“A Faerie godmother?”

“Something like that,” Sookie laughed.

“You call this one Alex, and what’s his everyday name?”

“Aubie.”

“Obee mah buggy!” Alex told Chelly, taking Aubie’s hand.

“Dios mio! He can speak?”

“Yes, Alex is very advanced in some ways, but in other ways he’s like any other baby.”

“Is Aubie as advanced as Alex?”

“No, Alex is further ahead, though Aubie is more advanced than a normal human baby. Alex is teaching him, though, so we kind of expect him to catch up.”

“They seem to get along well.”

“Oh, yeah, Alex looks out for Aubie and Aubie just adores his big brother, don’t you Aubie?”

“Ah, Bumby!”

“That means “yes, Buddy.”

“Mamee – dat?”

“Alex, say, “what is her name, please?”

“Wadiz uh dame, pweezth.”

“Hi, Alex!” she shook his little hand, “I’m Chelly!”

“Ah, Chewwy!” Alex gave her a dazzling smile with his new teeth and pointed at the camera, “dee bee!”

“Yes, that’s the TV camera.”

“Dee bee gamuhwa.”

“He learns very quickly!”

“They both do. They get that from their daddy, along with their bright blue eyes and cleft chins.”

“He’s very dashing and bold, I hear, and somewhat infamous in local legend.”

“Oh, I know, and most of it is true,” Sookie laughed, “Alex has his big, badass personality, too.”

“What about Aubie?”

“Aubie’s a lover, not a fighter, right, Cookie?”

“Ah!”

“Alex takes more after Eric and Aubie is more like me.”

“I see Alex is wearing some bandages. Did you get hurt, Sweetheart?”

“Wadiz uht?”

“Your boo-boos, Alex,” Sookie pointed to them gently.

“Bee BOO!” he showed Chelly, “nah wyg id!” he frowned and stuck his lower lip out.

“Were you scared, Alex?”

“Nah, sthtay wif Dadee!”

“Did he say “stay with Daddy?”

“At one point, we were whisked away to a secure location where Eric was resting.”

“Dadee seepeen.”

“Yeah, Daddy’s sleeping, but he’ll be up soon, won’t he?”

“Eeah.” He looked at Chelly straight in the eye, “ah WUV ma Dadee! Ma Dadee atha sthordsth por FIDEEN!”

“Did he just say something about swords? I heard there was some sign of sword fighting, of all things, here yesterday.”

“Swords are a very traditional weapon among Vampires. We don’t have a lot of big weapons here for defense, but everyone here does know how to handle a sword.”

“That seems very strange to most people, you must admit?”

“Yes, I understand that, but these men – these mercenaries – came at us with grenade launchers, armored vehicles and guns. We’re entitled to protect ourselves if we’re attacked in our own home. We were just living our lives, bothering no one, and they tried to slaughter my children.” Sookie’s eyes teared up. “They did slaughter some of our very brave and loyal guards. Their poor families,” Sookie lost it and cried. Everything that had been building up for the last 30 hours or so came out all at once. Bobbie took Sookie a napkin from the serving table and Chelly just waited to see what Sookie would do or say. This was going to be ratings gold, so she wanted to just let it unfold naturally.

Sookie dabbed at her eyes and Aubie reached up wanting a hug and Alex stood up, holding onto the back of the couch and following Aubie into Mamee’s arms. Sookie hugged them and kissed them and they sent her love and comfort, and she pulled it together. “I’m so sorry about that. I try to stay positive but these fanatics have no shame and no conscience. The Fellowship of the Sun was bad enough, now we’ve got these New Centurion soldiers coming at us with grenades and armored vehicles.”

“New Centurion? The New Centurion being investigated by Congress?” Chelly was trying not to jump up and down. This was a huge scoop no one had published yet.

“Yes, that’s them. This man, Jubal Garner, has decided that his religion gives him the right to kill people who are different. Vampires are people. They have some physical differences, some of which are advantages and some disadvantages, but ultimately, they’re people. I don’t understand people who can just decide they have the right to kill people who have never done them any harm! What gives that man the right to send trained killers onto our property and try to kill these babies? Nothing. The men who died here yesterday will be missed by us, and more importantly by their families. They were just standing a post outside a suburban home. That’s not supposed to be dangerous.”

“If you could say anything to the deceased men’s families, what would you say?”

“I’m so sorry. I’m so grateful that your loved one cared enough to try and keep us safe and I’m so sorry that they died protecting us. You all know that my husband will do everything he can to see that you don’t suffer in any way that we can prevent, but we know nothing can replace them. You’re in our hearts and in our prayers and I swear to Goddess, we won’t let their deaths be in vain.”

“Did you just swear to Goddess? Is that a feminist, or Unitarian thing?”

“It’s the Old Religion, the religion we all shared before patriarchy metastasized like a cancer in the body of Mother Earth.”

“Are you anti-Christian?”

“No, we’re not anti-anything except hatred and intolerance. We want to live in harmony with Gaia, to live in the grace of the Divine Mother and just be happy. Why people can’t just let us be who we are and live our lives, I don’t understand.”

“Do you see this as a kind of religious persecution?”

“Yes, it’s a combination of bigotry and religio-centrism. People are not meant to live in a constant state of fear and violence. We don’t have to accept things as they are. We can choose to be peaceful. War is sickness. It starts in the Old Testament and it’s just slaughter after slaughter of entire civilizations. Crusades and Inquisitions and Reformations and colonialism and ethnic cleansing and genocide are all manifestations of this false idea that any of us is any more chosen or entitled or blessed than anyone else.”

“Are you a Marxist?”

“I don’t even know what that means, except he’s a guy that wrote a book that the Right Wing loves to demonize. I’m not political. This is not about governing, it’s about cooperation, making the most of what we’ve got and being able to stand back and admit that none us can know anything for certain, so we need to be nice to each other. You have to allow for the possibility that everything you think you know might be wrong. If you can admit that you might be wrong, you’re much less lightly to start lobbing bombs at people.

“Are you Wiccan?”

“Yes, but W-I-C-C-E instead of W-I-C-C-A. When you go all the way back, you arrive at Goddess, and everything else is born of Her.”

Chelly was stunned. This interview went to places she never even dreamed. “OK, I don’t want to misquote you. You are saying that you, Queen Sookie, are a Witch?”

“Yeah, of course! And please make sure if you put this in writing that Witch is spelled with a capital W and Goddess is spelled with a capital G.”

“Is that what drew you to marry a Vampire?”

“Marrying Eric was my destiny. A part of that whole process of being his wife, his Queen and the mother of these two special babies was waking up to my innate power. It was in me all the time, but it took meeting Eric to bring it out.”

“If you could go back to being just Sookie, living your life, going to work, never knowing Vampires existed, would you?”

“Never! I can’t imagine being any happier or more blessed than I am right now. Even with these awful terrorists after us, I still love being us. I just wish they’d live their lives and let us live ours. Seriously, if the religious fanatics would leave us alone, you’d rarely hear a peep out of us. We’re private people.”

Chelly tried to get back on track now. “Are you afraid of being here now?”

“Yes, actually, I am. We’re going away for a bit, I can’t say where or when, but I need some distance from this if I’m ever going to be able to live in this house again. This is my favorite place in the world, and those fanatics took that away from me, but mark my words, I’m going to get it back. I won’t let them win. They don’t get to kill innocent people and prosper. Not this time.”

“Is that a threat?”

“It’s a fucking promise.”

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