The Full Moon
“I’m sorry for that outburst,” Sookie said, taking a deep, shaky breath and helping Aubie settle into her lap as Alex stood leaning on the back of the couch, looking at the reporter. “I go from being depressed and heartbroken to anger and back again.”
“That’s understandable – you’re still probably in shock,” Chelly really felt for Sookie, knowing she was in genuine danger. She reached over and squeezed Sookie’s hand which was up on the back of the couch behind Alex.
“I guess I am in shock. You can’t imagine what these babies mean to me, what my husband means to me. I love them so much and the idea that they might be hurt is just too much to bear.”
“I understand, I do. I have another question I have to ask you, about a rumor that’s going around…”
Sookie took a deep breath and got centered, “sure, what is it?” she laughed a little
“Is it true that you’re pregnant again? That’s not possible, is it?”
“Well, what’s possible in our case is very different from what’s possible for a strictly human couple. Yes, I’m expecting again – another reason my emotions are so jumbled.”
“How many children are you planning to have?”
“Hopefully just this one more.”
“It’s too early to tell the sex yet, right?”
“Yes, but I’m pretty sure it will be a girl. I can’t say why I think that, but I just know – mother’s intuition, I guess,” she tried to cover that a little.
“You’ve said some pretty controversial things in this interview. Do you want to take any of it back?”
“No, I don’t. I’m telling the truth. I love my babies, I love my husband, I love the Goddess. I KNOW it was New Centurion who attacked us and I know that, just like the Fellowship of the Sun, it was their extremist religion that drove them to try to kill us. We don’t harm anyone. My husband and I do everything we can to help the people who depend on us.”
“What would you say to people who consider you a role model?”
“I don’t pretend to be a role model for anyone, but I try to be the best person I can be – that’s not a bad thing, is it?”
“What if they say you’re trying to recruit their kids into a cult?”
“I don’t belong to a cult and never would. I’m not interested in converting anyone – you can’t. You’re either born a Witch or you’re not. We don’t proselytize. I’d like people to understand that we exist, and we’re about love and peace, so there’s nothing to be afraid of. We believe everything you do comes back to you, so we try to only do good.”
“Is your husband a Witch or warlock?”
“The word “warlock” is actually an insult, but no, he’s not a Witch of any kind. He is a Goddess worshiper, though, from long, long ago.”
“May I ask how old he is?”
“Oh, well, I don’t really have his permission to share that – he’s a lot older than he looks,” Sookie laughed.
“He only looks like he’s about 30.”
“That’s how old he was when he was turned.”
“Who turned him?”
“You know, I don’t know? He doesn’t talk much about his past. He’s very much a “live in the NOW” kind of person. He says that right here, what we have between us as a family, is what’s real and the rest is just dust and shadows. I’m always interested in hearing about his past, but I let him tell me things in his own time. Maybe some day I’ll talk him into writing a book about all the places he’s been and things he’s done and seen. He’s so wise – he always knows the right thing to do and he’s so good at explaining things in ways no one else can.”
“He sounds fascinating.”
“People think he’s very romantic.”
“He really is – he’s good at the big stuff and the little stuff, too. Nobody ever paid the kind of attention to me that he does. He says I fascinate him and he really means it. He always tells me I’m beautiful and how lucky he thinks he is. I never have to ask for anything, because he knows what I need before I do. And you should see him with “HIS SONS” – he’s so proud of them,“ Sookie smoothed the boys’ hair as she spoke, “and he spends as much time as he can with them. They love to play with their Daddy, don’t you boys?”
“Ma Dadee isth ma earoh!”
“Aww! He says his Daddy is his hero! They have little onsies that say that on them, so that’s where he learned that.”
“They’re very young to be talking so well, aren’t they?”
“Yes, it has something to do with having Eric for a father. They’re very smart, just like he is.”
“Are they well behaved?”
“Yes, they’re very well behaved. I hardly ever have any problem with them.”
“You are aware that some people think they’re… evil, right?”
“Bigots and extremists think that. These children are angelic – they’re loving and fun and curious and bright. Anyone that says anything negative about them is saying more about themselves than about my kids. You’d have to be a monster not to love these children, and I’m not just saying that because I’m their mother. You can’t imagine how sweet they are when we play together, how loving they are to everyone around them.”
“Ah wyg dantheen!”
“Alex says he likes dancing,” Sookie laughed, “that’s something we do every morning when they wake up.”
“You dance with them?”
“We call it dancing, They sit on my tummy and get jiggled and tickled while I sing some old song, like the Beatles or Chubby Checker. “Right guys? Come on, baby! Let’s do the Twist!” she sang just a little and both boys cracked up, especially Aubie, who was waving his arms up and down, giggling
“You get to spend a lot of time with them, then?”
“Most of their waking hours are spent with me or Eric or both.”
“Have you thought about what it will be like when they go to school?”
“Oh, we’ll have to have private tutors for at least a few years. They’d never be able to go to a public school. They’re very different from human children, but fortunately, we have resources to deal with their special needs. Their education will be very different, of course, since they’ll be learning to live in the Vampire world as well as the human world. I’m hoping they’ll be able to get along with all kinds of people.”
“How do other Vampires feel about them?”
“I’ve only ever had positive feedback from the Vampire community. They’re very proud to have little princes and they’re very interested in them and protective of them.”
“Some people thought they wouldn’t be able to grow.”
“They’re growing like weeds! Alex is over 11 pounds already!”
“Do either of them have health problems?”
“No – I told you Auberon was small at first, and they have some special needs in terms of diet, of course, but their doctor is very pleased with their progress.”
“Do they see a pediatrician?”
“No, they have a specialist who is an expert on Vampires. She’s a very elite member of the community.”
“Can you tell me her name?”
“No, I’m sorry, I can’t, I have to protect her privacy.”
“Does she treat Weres, too?”
“Yes, I believe she does.”
“Have Vampires always known about Werewolves?”
“Yes, of course, but they’re separate communities. They cooperated to keep each other concealed all these years, though, for everyone’s safety.”
“Have you met any Weres?”
“Oh, yes, I have met some wonderful Weres and Shifters of all kinds. We have some very loyal friends in their community that we love dearly.”
“Does your husband employ any Weres?”
“I don’t know any specifics of who Eric hires for various things, but almost every business will have some history of hiring Weres. They’re extremely well integrated in society. I doubt there’s a person out there that doesn’t know at least one, especially if they’re in any kind of service. Many of them are in the military, they’re firemen and policemen – those jobs make the most of their natural strength and speed. Weres have been keeping us all safe for a long time.”
“Do you favor equal rights for them?”
“Of course, I favor equal rights for everyone! We have to stop judging people by things they didn’t choose for themselves and can’t change. Being a Were doesn’t dictate a person’s character any more than being human does. Would it make sense for me to assume that all humans are small-minded, hateful and violent because some groups so blatantly are? Of course not. What you do is what matters, not who you are.”
“Have you been attacked by fanatics before?”
“Yes, I’ve been in buildings they’ve bombed, houses riddled with FOTS bullets, I was even staked accidentally when I got between an FOTS fanatic and a Vampire she tried to assassinate. These are people who claim to be Christians, but they’re full of hate and violence. It’s sickening. That guy Jubal Garner thinks he’s going to wipe Islam off the map and Vampires, too, and nobody will stand up to him because powerful people are tied to him financially. That’s the real story here – members of our government investing in radical hate groups, sending them to foreign countries to commit war crimes in our name and letting them get away with hate crimes here. We’re not trying to take over the world, they are! They make money from war. We don’t.”
“Your husband doesn’t invest in any defense stocks or anything like that?”
“Not that I know of. I’ve seen listings of all our holdings, and I may not know every little thing, but as far as I know, his money comes from commerce – shopping malls, construction companies, resorts and hotels, casinos, bio-medical research, things like that.”
“You know, I couldn’t find any record of anyone having interviewed your husband anywhere.”
“He’s never done an interview that I know of. He released a press statement when it was requested once but that’s it. He’s very private.”
“He doesn’t mind you speaking to the press, though?”
“No, he thinks I represent us well, though I don’t know how he’ll feel about today,” Sookie laughed. “I’m serious about one thing, though – New Centurion is not going to get away with this attack on us. I’m going to stay after the local authorities to press charges and I’m going to keep telling the world what they’re up to.”
“Is there any direct evidence it was them?”
“I believe our head of security handed a list of some of the attackers to the police with proof they were connected to New Centurion.”
“Where would he get that?”
“He’s good at what he does. My husband hires the best, then pays them very well, so that he gets the results he wants, when he wants them.”
“That sounds a bit ominous.”
“Good. People need to think seriously before they attack us. We don’t go around threatening people, but if we are threatened, we will defend ourselves with every resource possible. Those men who attacked us yesterday came in here with the best equipment and training available, and as far as I know, not one of them walked away, even though we had smaller forces and no big weapons. Make no mistake – Eric Northman has the best resources in the modern world and he will use everything at his disposal to keep our family safe. Leave us alone – that’s all we ask.”
Alicia peeked out of the dining room door near the window behind where the camera could see and held up her wrist, tapping on her wristwatch to let Sookie know they needed to move on.
“Well, I guess we should wrap this up. I’m afraid we have plans tonight,” Sookie said as sweetly and apologetically as she could.
“Well, thank you so much, Queen Sookie. This has been an amazing afternoon. I hope we get to speak again sometime.”
“Let’s hope next time is under more pleasant circumstances,” Sookie said with a sad smile.
“Absolutely.” Chelly looked down to the boys and shook each ones’ hand as she spoke to him. “Bye-bye, Aubie!”
“Ah!” Aubie said in his playful voice.
“Bah-bah, Dayoo, Chewwy!” Alex batted his eyelashes, flashed her a brilliant smile and reached for a hug, which Chelly gladly accepted.
“Aw – thank you, Alex! They’re so beautiful!” She gushed over the boys and Sookie thanked her. The guys packed up their equipment as Chelly and Sookie had another sandwich and finished their iced tea, then Vincent showed them all out to the van.
“OK, what’s next on the agenda?” Sookie asked Alicia as she picked up the dishes from the coffee table.
“We need to get ready to leave. You’ve only got an hour.”
“What? I thought we weren’t leaving until midnight?”
“Everyone forgot that tonight was the full moon. By midnight you’ll be at Sang Riche New Orleans and most of your guards will be running wild in the bayou,” Alicia laughed.
“Is everything ready?”
“Yes. You and the boys are already dressed to travel, they loaded the luggage while you were being interviewed, so as soon as Mr. Northman gets up, we’ll head for the airplane and have dinner in New Orleans.”
“Wow – It seems so sudden. Is Margaret still staying here?”
“Yes, and she’ll have company. Octavia, Amelia and Jerry are staying here until the 10th, too.”
“Yes, so it will just be Bobbie, you and me taking care of the boys for a few days.”
“That’s the lightest we’ve ever travelled, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is, but it will be fine.”
“We’ll still have all the guards with us, right?”
“Well, not as many. Some are going to go with us to the airport, then there will be local ones we’ll pick up in New Orleans.”
“OK, are my journals packed?”
“Yes, you have a carryon bag with your journals and some other things that arrived for you today.”
“What do you want, Sweetie? Mommy eat?”
“Nah, sthowid pood!” Alex pointed to Sookie’s plate on the coffee table, which still had a couple of finger sandwiches on it.
“He wants to try your sandwiches, Sookie,” Bobbie laughed. “I’ll be back, I’ve got to bring our things downstairs.”
“OK, Alex, let’s see if you can eat them.” Sookie took a knife from the cart and a couple more sandwiches and sat next to Alex cutting the finger sandwiches into even smaller pieces. Alex loved them, but Aubie patted Sookie’s breast, clearly wanting to suckle, so she sat cross-legged on the couch with him in her lap while she fed Alex bits of sandwich. She was having so much fun with the boys, who were both being extra cute, that she didn’t realize how late it had gotten. She was completely engrossed when Aubie leaned back and said, “Dada!” Sookie looked up and Eric was just standing there watching her feed the babies.
“Hey, Daddy, how long have you been standing there?”
“Not long,” he said, bending down to kiss her and the babies. “You all seemed very happy so I just enjoyed the show. Is this where you did your interview?”
“Yep, they haven’t been gone long. I should have had her stay and interview you.”
“No, I think they got more than they deserved as it is.”
“I hope you aren’t mad at me. I said some things that maybe I shouldn’t have.”
“Such as?” He asked as he picked Alex up and sat down, putting him on his knee so Sookie could continue feeding him.
“I talked about the Goddess…”
“The word Witch came up…”
“Yeah. I said something about New Centurion not getting away with attacking us and she said that sounded like a threat and I said it was a fucking promise.”
He looked at her, showing mild amusement, but didn’t say anything.
“I apologized for the outburst and I said I go from sadness to anger and she said I’m in shock, but the way it came out, now that I think about it, would make a really good sound bite.”
“She asked if I wanted to take anything back and I said no – I love my kids, I love you, I love the Goddess and pretty much that we just want to be left alone.”
“That’s fine, Sookie,” he smiled at her softly, thinking how beautiful she looked as she adjusted the top of her dress.
“They’re going to say we’re devil worshipers!”
“They already do,” he laughed softly as he tickled Aubie’s tummy and made him squeal.
“They’re going to think we’re going to go after them…”
“What if I made us look like monsters?”
“Sookie, you look like an Angel. The boys look like Angels. No matter how angry you got, what the reasonable people will see is a beautiful Mommy whose babies were nearly killed by terrorists. You did cry, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, I did.”
“I said I was pregnant again,” she said apologetically.
“Excellent. That alone could explain an outburst and it will certainly elicit sympathy. Did Ms. Rodriquez seem to like the boys?”
“She was wild about them, of course! Alex flirted like he always does and Aubie was sweet and when I got upset both boys reached for me and hugged me.”
“Vincent and Bjorn told me you did a marvelous job, and what you’re telling me is consistent with what they said. I’m very proud of you, Sookie, you did exactly what we needed you to do.”
“You do understand that I admitted to being a Witch, right?”
“Sookie, the people who will be upset by that are already throwing bombs at us. The rest will see it as a curiosity, or an eccentricity, or maybe they’ll learn about the Goddess. It won’t create any more problems than we had in the first place.”
“Well… OK…. I thought you’d be mad at me, especially for cursing.”
He stroked her cheek gently with the backs of his fingers. “You have a hole in the roof of your house and your tiny elder son is sitting here with bandages on his face. Cursing is the least people would expect you to do. You could have declared jihad as the mother of an injured infant and people would understand. You underestimate your innate charms, my Angel. Vincent actually used the words “pitch perfect,” and he is not one for excessive praise.”
Bjorn came in through the kitchen. “Eric, we’re ready to roll whenever you are.”
“Alright, let’s go then. I half expect those detectives back and I’d rather they not delay us.” He stood, still holding Alex and offered Sookie his hand. She put Aubie up to her shoulder, taking Eric’s hand and following them through the kitchen and out the back door.
Bobbie and Alicia were already putting diaper bags in the limo, and Bjorn was making his last round before driving them to the airport.
Sookie felt weird about the whole thing. “Are we really ready to just pick up and leave? I feel like I should say goodbye to people or we should, I don’t know, do something…”
“There’s nothing to do, Dear,” Alicia assured her as they walked past the pool to the car, “it’s all done, it’s all packed, you’ll be seeing the others in four days at most.”
“Wow – how is there room for all of us in here?” Sookie couldn’t figure out how she, Eric, the boys, Alicia and Bobbie all fit in the back of the limo.
“We put the car seats in the trunk. The boys don’t really need them and it eliminated the need for one of the vehicles,” Alicia explained.
“Shouldn’t I call Jason at least?”
“You can call him once we get there, Sookie,” Eric told her, “We don’t want to transmit from here right now.”
“I feel like something is wrong.” Sookie said as they pulled out of the barn and went around the north side of the house. “We’re being watched.”
“Can you tell where they are, Sookie?” Bjorn asked from the driver’s seat. Sookie noticed there was a newer guard she didn’t know in the passenger seat but she didn’t hear anything suspicious in his thoughts.
“No, but they’ve got a radio of some kind, because I can hear it, too,” Sookie said as they pulled out the front gate and headed down the side street instead of going straight toward the highway.
Eric started to ask if the car following them was the police, but before the words formed the car behind them moved up beside them and they flashed their lights. “Damn,” Eric said to no one in particular.
Bjorn pulled the limo over to the side of the road and Detective Johnson walked up to his window. “Detective Johnson. Would you consider following us back onto the compound before we speak? It’s not safe for us to sit here like this.”
“Alright, we’ll follow you back.” Johnson returned to his car and Bjorn turned the limo around, leading them back inside the fences and parking in front of the garage.
“That’s not what I heard,” Sookie said.
“What?” Bjorn asked from the front.
“The police radio is not what I heard. It’s someone else watching us.”
“Alright, Sookie I want you to keep the boys down in the seat while I’m talking to the police,” Eric instructed her. “If someone takes a shot at us, they’re less likely to get hit down there. The windows are tinted, but I still want you to keep the boys’ heads down.” Eric was repeating himself – he was nervous about something but she wasn’t sure what. She just knew something wasn’t right.
“OK, I will,” Sookie heard Eric think that the hairs on the back of his neck were standing up. There was definitely someone out there and it was not these police detectives.
Eric and Bjorn got out of the limo and met the detectives in front of the cars. “Detective, my flight crew is waiting for us,” Eric started, trying to be intimidating and succeeding.
“Why are you in such a hurry to leave?” Johnson asked.
“Someone is trying to kill my family, Detective,” Eric continued softly so only Johnson, Forbes and Bjorn could hear him, “there’s someone watching us right now. Be prepared to hit the ground.”
“She doesn’t know where?” Bjorn asked as the two detectives looked on in confusion.
“Not yet, but she said they’ve got a radio so I’m trying to pick up on them,” Eric said softly. He knocked gently on the window where he’d been sitting so Sookie rolled it down. He bent down and said, “make them visible,” and Sookie knew exactly what he meant, and focused her energy on exposing the watcher.
“You seem awfully sure about this, Mr. Northman,” Johnson started but his partner interrupted him.
“I saw something,” Forbes said, “9 o’clock, about three feet from the ground.”
“You gettin’ that feeling, Sally?” Detective Johnson pulled out his notebook and acted like he was reading from it.
“Yep. I think I caught a glint from an infrared laser sight in the scrub trees toward the highway.”
“Sniper,” Bjorn nodded and Eric and the two detectives agreed.
“If Sally says she saw something, you can count on that,” Johnson said, “I never known her to be wrong in this type of situation.”
“I believe I left that paperwork in my office, Detective, I’ll be right back.” Eric said politely and walked into the house, zipping through the kitchen and out the back.
“Does he know what he’s doin’?” Johnson asked Bjorn
“Oh, yeah,” Bjorn laughed a little, “he’ll be back with whoever it is in a minute.”
“How do you know that?”
“I know the King, Detective,” Bjorn bragged a little. “Unless there’s a small army out there, and a really good one at that, he’ll be bringing them back in just a few minutes.”
“Is this a Vampire thing?” Johnson asked, knowing the answer
“Absolutely,” Bjorn smiled.
In just a few minutes the window where Eric had been sitting went down again and Sookie poked her head out. “He’s got him. He says tell the guard at the front gate he’s in a dark blue Chrysler.”
Bjorn cracked up and buzzed the front gate with his phone. “Hey, guys, Svenska 1 is coming through with an X-I in a dark blue Chrysler. We’ll turn him over to the detectives since they’re here.” You could hear the guards laughing over Bjorn’s phone, which irritated Johnson to no end.
“What would you do with him if we weren’t here?” Johnson asked, though he had a pretty good idea.
“We’d ask him a few questions and impress upon him the importance of not doing it again.”
“Why do I have the feeling he’d not get the chance to do it again?”
“The King’s guard is very thorough,” Bjorn gave him a predatory smile that left him in no doubt that if they weren’t here, whoever was being brought in would never get out alive, but you’d have to have some kind of evidence of a crime and there was none. In just another minute, a blue Chrysler came up to the front gate and was buzzed in and he parked it right behind the detectives’ car in the lights. Eric looked huge as he stood up out of the car and he reached into the back seat and pulled out an unconscious man.
“He’s out cold,” Det. Johnson said in a disgusted tone.
“He frightens easily,” Eric shrugged, not really concerned what the cops thought as he dropped the man at their feet. “Here is his gun. His radio is under the dash there – it’s not a police radio, more of a CB, really.”
“Hey! He’s not even New Centurion!” Sookie said as she looked out the window. “Is Vincent still here? He needs to see him, Sweetie.”
“Alright, my Angel, we’ll call him,” Eric laughed.
Bjorn was already on the phone, knowing Vincent was still in the guardhouse talking to Rafael, and he warned Vincent that the detectives were there. While he did that, Eric called the pilot to let him know they were slightly delayed, but would be there shortly.
“Why are you people in such a good mood?” Johnson didn’t understand these weirdos at all.
“Nobody got shot!” Sookie said from the back seat, which sent Bjorn and Eric into howling fits of laughter. “Don’t forget what day it is, boys!”
“True, we need to be on our way,” Eric remembered. “Detective, is there anything else?”
“Yes, there is!” Johnson was exasperated, and Eric and Bjorn were trying not to laugh, but got to thinking about what would happen if they didn’t get Bjorn someplace safe by midnight, so they both looked up at the moon, then at each other, then tried to concentrate on what the police detective was saying. “Did you hear what I just said?”
“No, I’m sorry, I was distracted,” Eric tried to keep a straight face.
“I said, we got the lab reports and those animal wounds were not from dogs, they were from some unknown wolf-dog hybrids, and I notice there are no guard dogs patrolling your grounds tonight.”
“Oh, shit!” Sookie said inside the car.
“What is wrong, Sookie?”
“I forgot somebody. Give me a minute. Go ahead and talk.” Sookie sent the window back up then said, “Be right back,” to Bobbie and Alicia and teleported to the shed, found Puff, “Hey, Puffy! We almost forgot you! Now shrink!” She spread her hands on either side of his head, the same way she did when she conjured him, and this time she made him smaller instead of bigger and more solid. When he was about the size of an average cat, she picked him up and popped back into the limo. “Look who we almost forgot!”
“I thought they said the animals were in the other vehicle?” Alicia said with surprise.
“They must have meant the cat, because I’m the only one that could shrink him, right?” Sookie reminded them of what she thought was the truth.
“I thought Rafael could and did,” Alicia recalled.
“Where’s his pet holder?”
“It must still be in the basement, Dear.”
“OK, CARRIER!” The Louis Vuitton dog carrier appeared in Sookie’s lap and Alicia opened it so Sookie could slip Puff into it. “There you go, Puffy. You just relax and we’ll be at the new club soon.”
“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Northman, I had no idea he wasn’t already on the bus!”
“That’s OK, Alicia – nobody’s perfect. I knew we were forgetting something,” Sookie laughed.
“Alright, goddamit, I want some answers.” Johnson was about to lose it completely. “How did you know where this sniper was, how did you get there and back so quickly and why is your wife so sure he’s not with New Centurion? How many people are trying to kill you? Does this happen every day?”
“Well, we have been very busy of late. Our children were just Wiccaned on Saturday…”
“They were what?”
“It’s a naming ceremony, like a Christening, but not Christian, of course.”
“Is this some kind of cult?”
“No, just a Vampire royal family,” Eric said simply.
“Are they all like this?”
“No, this is the only one. There have been regents with progeny, and there have been married regents, of course, but our family is the first of its kind,” Eric said proudly.
“Some kind of new science?”
“No, it’s a rare combination of several rare elements. It’s unlikely ever to happen again.”
“So what the tabloids say is true?” Forbes was busting to ask questions. “These are the only Vampire children in the world?”
“Technically, they’re Vampire hybrids, but yes, they’re the only ones of their kind.”
“And your wife is pregnant again?” Johnson asked
“Yes, very recently, in fact.”
“When is that one due?” Forbes was thinking how lucky Sookie was and Sookie “heard” her so she rolled the window back down as Eric answered her.
“We expect her some time before the New Year, but we’re not sure of the exact date. They don’t require the extended gestation period that human babies do.”
“Now how does your wife know this man is not from New Centurion?” Johnson continued
“She’s very intuitive.”
“Intuitive? Is she psychic?”
“Not precisely, but she does possess certain gifts that can give her such information. You may be sure that, if she says he’s not from New Centurion, he is not.”
“She’s a telepath, right? Didn’t she save a lot of people at the Pyramid of Giza bombing?” Forbes bubbled forth with some information that Eric was surprised to hear from a human police officer.
“She’s a what?” Johnson looked at his partner as if she suddenly had two heads.
“That’s the story among the first responders,” Sally continued, “the woman refused to give her name, but she was a petite blonde and I’ve heard fire fighters who saw her swear that she’s a Vampire Queen now. This has to be her, right?”
Nobody spoke because nobody wanted to out Sookie to the police.
“Where did you say you heard that story?” Sookie asked very sweetly since the guys seemed frozen.
“She’s a legend among the first responders. Most people swear it’s impossible, but I know a guy who knows a guy who saw her showing them where to dig people out and he’s a completely believable source,” Sally told her.
“That’s quite a story,” Sookie smiled and laughed a little. “If that story were true, that woman probably wouldn’t want people to know who she was because they’d never give her any peace. I’d bet she’s very private and just wants to be left alone to enjoy her family.” She smiled sweetly as if nothing was wrong and Sally took the hint and decided to let the topic die.
“Yes, you’re probably right.”
“Detectives, are you planning to detain us?” Bjorn was getting antsy. They needed to hit the road or that private airplane was going to be rocking in the moonlight.
“We need to know if you employ any werewolves,” Johnson was not letting this go.
“Detective,” Vincent said as he stepped out on the front porch, having come through the house, “You are not allowed to ask that question of an employer. The new privacy laws prohibit an employer from outing their employees.”
“This is a police investigation!”
“You still can’t ask that question.” Vincent was not backing down now. “The attacks to which you refer happened on private property to criminals during the commission of a capital crime. You don’t even have the right to have our dogs tested for rabies.”
“Those men are dead!”
“So are 5 of my employees,” Eric said angrily. “The men you are referring to were paid assassins. You’re not going to violate the rights of those who survived, let alone expose the families of the slain to bias attacks. Now, do you plan to arrest anyone?”
“Not at this time,” Johnson was pissed. He was hoping they wouldn’t know about that privacy law, because it just went into effect a month and a half ago.
“Do you have a warrant?” Vincent knew the situation and he knew Bjorn was not the person to handle this right now.
“Not at this time.”
“And you do have an armed assailant in your custody,” Vincent reminded them. “Perhaps you should pay attention to that, and let my employer be on his way. He is expected in New Orleans in less than 2 hours for an urgent business matter. Let them go and I will accompany you to your station and answer any legally allowed questions you still have.”
“Alright. When will you be back, Mr. Northman?”
“Our plans are indefinite. If you have urgent need, contact Vincent and he will contact me. I’ll need 48 hours notice if you need me to return. Have a pleasant evening.” Eric turned to the car, Sookie scooting over quickly, as he and Bjorn both got in and left without another word.
Once they were out of the gates, Bjorn floored it and Eric called the pilot to tell them to be ready to go when they arrived. The bus with the luggage and the extra guards had already arrived and they’d all been loaded into the plane, so they were on the plane heading south in 25 minutes. Sookie saw the extra driver taking the limo back off the Tarmac as they taxied down the runway.
The babies both made happy sounds as the plane took off and had everyone laughing at how cute they were.
“Eric, how many guards are we taking with us?” Sookie asked as he handed her a dose of Ambrosia.
“There are 10 in back, plus Bjorn. We’ll be met at the New Orleans airport by a group of 10, then when we move to the house, we’ll increase the guard by 6 per shift.”
“Where are the pets?”
“Bjorn,” Eric turned to him, “where are the pets?”
“In back with the guards. You want me to have them brought up here?”
“Yes, please,” Sookie answered, “I want to be able to talk to them.”
“OK, no problem,” Bjorn went to the back and brought the two carriers forward, though they only had about 15 minutes left to fly. Sookie just had time enough to lie on the floor and look through the mesh windows on the ends of the carriers and give the kitten and the dragon whelp some reassuring baby talk before they had to secure them and she had to return to her seat for the landing. They decided that in the future, the pets would be tethered to a latch on the end of the closet right behind the babies’ seats so they wouldn’t get lonely.
The landing was a little bumpy, but they unloaded the plane in record time because the Were guards were getting itchy. The daemons and Vampires kicked it into Supe speed so they could get to the club in time for everyone to get settled by 10 and eat before the Weres had to head for the Park. Dinner was waiting for the guards as soon as they unpacked the vehicles and Sookie was sitting on a white leather couch, identical to the couches in all the other Sang Riche locations, nursing the babies and looking at the room service menu by 10:30.
Alicia was showing the kitty that the litter box was in the downstairs bathroom and the dragon was tucked into a big straw lined doghouse out by the pool, some papers put down for his use and held in place by bricks so the wind wouldn’t mess them up. Alicia served him a stack of round steaks which he enjoyed immensely and he spent the night swimming in the pool and basking in the light of the full moon, then he’d nap for a couple of hours and do it all over again. From a reptilian perspective, this was a pretty nice set up.
Bobbie came out of her room and sat in the white chair to Sookie’s right, already in her light blue knit pajamas with a kitten print on the pants. “Hey, Sookie – where’s Eric?”
“He went to talk to the head of security for tonight since Bjorn won’t be back until morning.”
“Any idea who it is?”
“No, somebody Rafael recommended, and some new Vamp Bill had meet us here. I hope they’re reliable. I’m so used to Bjorn and Jerry being around that I feel kind of naked tonight, you know?”
“Yeah, I know what you mean. Anything good on the menu?”
“Maybe. What’s a soft-shell crab?”
“Do they have those?!”
“Yeah – are they good?”
“They’re fantastic. See, crabs molt every year, so when they drop their hard shell, what’s left is soft enough to eat the whole thing. They’re usually fried in batter or breading and served with some kind of sauce.”
“OK, this offers 2 per order – is that enough?”
“It’s me, you and Alicia? I’d order a dozen because you’re going to love them and they tend to be small.”
“OK, I’ll ask Alicia to call when she’s done. In the mean time, my buddies need new diapers.”
Bobbie laughed, “I’ll take care of that. Who wants a new nappy?”
“Me doo nap-pee!” Alex leaned back and said, so Bobbie took him from Sookie and headed for the bathroom with the changing table.
The boys were freshly diapered and sleeping in the playpen by the time the platter of soft shells and French fries arrived and the women were half through them before Eric came back. They were gathered around the end of the dining table chowing down when he came in with a frown on his face. He walked over and kissed Sookie and said, “You smell like the ocean, Dear One.”
“We’re eating crabs. What are you upset about?” She asked as he sat in the chair next to her.
“Not upset, just concerned. We’re in a strange place with strange guards and I’ve been trying to ensure that you and the boys will be properly protected tomorrow while I’m at rest.”
“Bjorn will be here, right?”
“Yes, but Bjorn cannot do it all alone. I’m much more comfortable when he has Jerry to back him up. Lane is acting as his second and I’m much less confident in his skills if Bjorn were disabled or distracted.”
“Don’t forget about me, Eric. I can kick ass if I have to,” Sookie said in a delightfully sassy way.
Eric laughed, “Yes, you can. I just want to be as sure as I can that you will not need to.”
“Eric, this is the safest place for us, or we wouldn’t be here, right?”
“More or less,”
“So don’t worry so much. I know you and Bill have these places locked down tight. I also think nobody is going to be looking for us here, so I want your permission to go out tomorrow.”
“Sookie, that is not a good idea.”
“I disagree, and I’ll tell you why – if we get afraid to go out in public, we let Garner and the FOTS and the other fanatics win.”
“You want to go out to prove a point?”
“No, I want to go out to see the city, look at clothes, have a nice lunch and check out some voodoo shops.”
“You can have a nice lunch here, Sweetheart.”
“Yeah, and I could buy clothes on the Jnternet, but I’m in New Orleans and I want to have some fun. There shouldn’t be any crowds on a Thursday and I read about this really old restaurant I want to go to.”
“Which restaurant, Sookie?” Bobbie thought that sounded great no matter which it was. They all needed a day out.
“Oh, my! That would be wonderful!” Alicia said, “I haven’t been there since my honeymoon.”
“You’ve been there?” Sookie thought that was a cool thing to do for newlyweds.
“Oh, yes and the food is fabulous – oysters, escargot, soft shell crabs, steaks, chicken, fish in some of the most wonderful sauces, classic recipes that were created there that spread all over the world. You’ll love it.”
“They’ve been in business since the 1800s. I always wanted to go there, too,” Bobbie added.
“Would you consider at least waiting until Friday?” Eric really didn’t want them out so soon.
“You really think it’s still dangerous?” Sookie asked
“Look at it this way – Bjorn will not be at his best tomorrow. By Friday, he’ll be rested and we’ll know more about the security forces here.”
“Hmm – OK, we’ll wait until Friday.” Sookie wasn’t happy about waiting but she knew he had legitimate concerns. “Will I need to go into the office any time soon?”
“We’ll leave that until after the 10th as we’d planned.”
“OK, that’s good. I guess I’ll have a pool day tomorrow. “
“That won’t be so bad, will it?” Eric said playfully, pressing his forehead to hers.
“Of course not, but I really wish I could go tomorrow.”
“Why is this so important to you, Sookie?”
“I don’t know, but I just have this thing in my head that I need to go to Antoine’s for lunch tomorrow. Friday is too late.”
“Too late for what?”
“I have no idea, but it’s important.”
Eric sat back and looked at her for a minute. She was serious – there was some reason for her to go there, and apparently the time and date were mattered. “You aren’t afraid at all?”
“No, I’m supposed to be there tomorrow.”
“Would you consider lunch and one voodoo shop and leave the clothing and sight seeing for another day?”
“Yeah, that’d be fine.”
“Let me speak to Bjorn when he returns. He knows the city quite well, so I’ll tell him what you want and he’ll tell you what we’ve decided in the morning. Is that acceptable?”
“Yes, as long as you emphasize that I really, really need to be there tomorrow afternoon.”
“Alright. What are your plans for the rest of the night?”
“That depends on your plans for the rest of the night.”
“When the boys wake up, let’s go for a swim in the moonlight. Auberon has never had a midnight swim.”
“That’s right, he hasn’t!”
“Bobbie, Alicia, would you like to swim with us?” Eric was being polite, and they knew it.
“If you don’t need me,” Alicia said quickly, “I’d like to read a book I started this week.”
“I’d like to spend some time looking for voodoo shops on line so we know where to go, if we go out tomorrow. I can check out the street maps and see which one is closest to the restaurant,” Bobbie said, hoping they could find a really good one.
“Oh, OK, then, I guess it’s just us?” Sookie said, kind of surprised no one else wanted to swim.
“The swim diapers for the boys are in the closet with the pool toys. If no one needs me anymore tonight, I think I’d like to go to bed,” Alicia said with a knowing smile directed at Eric, who smiled back.
“Yes, of course, Alicia, whatever you want…” Eric said agreeably.
“Actually, I want to go, too, now that I’m thinking about looking up some stores on the Internet,” Bobbie said, taking a plate with two soft shells, some fries and her drink to her room with her.
“No dessert?” Sookie couldn’t believe they were all bailing on her, but then she caught an x-rated thought crossing Eric’s mind and she caught on, finally, laughing to herself that she needed to start listening in on her friends more. Not listening was becoming so easy now that she hardly did it around family any more.
Everyone said good night and Eric went to the closet for the swim diapers. He looked at the toys in the closet with some fascination, having had little experience with baby toys of any kind. He found a little green “activity center” with a removable canopy that Sookie suggested would be good for Aubie because it had little toys on it. There was a yellow ducky float, not exactly like the one Alex was used to at home, but Sookie knew it was near enough that Alex would love it. There was a little electric pump that had the toys inflated in just a minute each, which Eric took care of while Sookie got a stack of towels from the linen closet in the bathroom. She took a minute to wolf down another couple of crabs while they waited for the boys to stir, which they did in just a few minutes.
“Are my boys awake?” Eric said with an affectionate smile, bending over the playpen to stroke their little tummies.
“Hello, my little Vampire!”
“Hello, my little elf!” He tickled each boy as he spoke to them, giving Sookie time to finish eating what was now her favorite food in the world. “Would my very good boys like to go swimming?”
“EEAH, sthimmeen!” Alex loved that idea. Aubie looked at Alex with surprise and laughed, knowing something good was going on, but not knowing what. Eric threw a baby blanket on the couch and moved them both over. He changed them into the swim diapers, talking to them and tickling them as he worked. Sookie was practically licking the platter clean as Eric threw the toys into the pool, stripped, picked up the boys and went out to jump in naked. Sookie nearly choked when she realized he wasn’t going to wear a suit.
“Everyone is gone to bed, Sookie. We have a couple of hours when no one will be around – drop that dress and come in!”
She stood at the door and sort of whispered, sort of yelled, “alright, Eric Northman, but if anyone comes in on us, or a plane or helicopter flies over, I’m gonna to kill you!”
He cracked up at that, putting the boys into the floating seats while she shed her dress and thong, diving in head first and coming up near the boys saying “boo!” to their sheer delight. Aubie’s float had a little octopus on it that held a few toys, his favorite of which was a rattle. Sookie tried to think and she wasn’t sure Aubie had seen a rattle except at their 1 month party. Alex always loved them, but this was a new discovery for Aubie and it tickled him that he could control it. He’s let it sit for a second and watch it, then he’d pick it up and shake it and squeal at the sound.
“Sthimmeen, Dadee!” Alex was making his “come here” motion to Eric, wanting out of the float and into the water. Eric laughed and took him out, pointing him at Sookie.
“Ready to catch me, Mommy?” Eric teased and Sookie held both her hands open and said, “come to Mommy, Sugar!” Eric let Alex go and he was off like a shot, but instead of swimming straight to Sookie, about half way there he dove down deep, swam a circle around her legs, and came up in front of her saying “boo!”
Sookie pretended to be shocked and scooped him up, swinging him in a circle and making him squeal with delight. He was giggling and yelling as Sookie blew raspberries on his tummy and they woke the dragon up. Puff walked over to the edge of the pool and made its Wookie sound toward Sookie. “OK, Puffy, come on!” she motioned to him and he jumped into the water, doing a lap around the pool down toward the bottom, then coming up to investigate what the Goddess and her whelps were doing. Puffy wasn’t clear on Eric’s role in the group yet, but he knew Sookie was in charge and the babies were hers. Puffy flicked his tongue at the floats in the water, then swam close enough for Aubie to pat his head.
Sookie still had Alex, who was yelling, “DWADON! DWADON!” and waving trying to get Puff’s attention, which he did. Sookie held Alex waist deep in the water and let Puff come close and really look Alex over, flicking his tongue out and tickling Alex’s ear. The baby made that noise (laughing) that Puff liked, so he was sure this was a good thing and he let Alex pet his head and kiss him on the nose. Puffy rose up a bit, flapped his wings and tilted his head at Sookie, and she knew he was offering to give Alex a ride. Sookie didn’t see the harm since Alex could swim so well, so she put Alex on Puffy’s back right below where his wings attached and showed Alex how to hold around his neck. Puffy swam a couple of slow, smooth circles around the edge of the pool with him. Eric was half playing with Aubie and half watching what the dragon was doing, not nearly as comfortable with it as Sookie already was, but the dragon seemed to know to go slowly with the baby and keep him above water.
“He’s OK, Eric, don’t worry. Puffy is really smart.”
“How do you know that, Sookie?”
“I can sort of read him.”
“Yes, he thinks I’m in charge and he knows the boys are my babies, so he’ll watch out for them.”
“You are sure of this?”
“Yep – he hasn’t figured out who you are yet, but he knows me and the boys.”
Puffy brought Alex back to Sookie, made another ring around the bottom of the pool, and came up next to Eric and Aubie. He rose up again and gave Eric the same motion with his wings and his head. “Go ahead, Eric, he won’t hurt him.”
Eric wasn’t sure about this, but he knew he could act very quickly if necessary so he put Aubie on the dragon’s back and put the baby’s arms around Puff’s neck and let him take Aubie slowly around the pool about three times. Puffy gently brought Aubie back to Eric and let him take Aubie, then he rose up and looked right in Eric’s eye and made his sound. Eric could see in the dragon’s eyes that it really just wanted to be friendly, so he smiled and said, “good dragon,” and patted his head.
“Aw – see? He’s a Sweetie.”
“He certainly does seem to understand that the boys are to be protected. As long as I know he is not a danger, I suppose he might be useful. You did say he can see nature spirits and Fae, yes?”
“So I’m told. Maybe he’ll keep any of Niall’s assassins from sneaking up on me.”
“Let’s hope. Sookie, Auberon is getting chilly – he has goose bumps.”
“As hot as it is tonight?” She took Alex with her over to Eric and Aubie and Eric was right, Aubie seemed cold. “Well, we should go in anyway – we’ve been out here a long time playing.” Sookie let Eric take Alex and she took Aubie in her arms, holding him against her and rubbing his arms and back to warm him up.
“It doesn’t seem long but it has been almost an hour and a half. Let’s take the boys upstairs and have a quick bath before we all retire.”
“That’s a good idea,” Sookie said as she headed up the steps to the towels. Eric threw the little floats up on the cement toward the door, and took Alex out. He wrapped Alex in a towel and gave him to Sookie, then wrapped a towel around Aubie as she held him. He dried her off and then himself, finally taking both babies and quickly following Sookie up to their loft.
Sookie ran the bath while Eric played with the boys on the fur bedspread, making the animal noises that always cracked them up, tickling and kissing them as they howled with laughter. Sookie made use of the restroom while the bath water ran, brushing her teeth, and came back with a bottle of Chanel No. 5 bubble bath to add to the water, though she’d already put some vanilla-scented bubbles in the bath. She stepped into the bath and leaned back on a pillow she found in a basket of goodies beside the tub, relaxing while Eric undressed the boys. He dropped their swim diapers in the shower and levitated the three of them into the tub next to her. He could tell Sookie was very tired, so he let her rest while he washed each boy’s hair. The boys seemed to know Sookie was tired, too, because they played and splashed very quietly and tried to whisper like Daddy did.
By the time he had the boys clean, Sookie was asleep, and the boys were yawning, feeling Mommy’s fatigue and reacting to it. Eric diapered them at Vampire speed and had them tucked into the co-sleeper in just about 3 minutes, then joined Sookie in the tub. He gently moved her so he could wash her hair, then he soaped her, rinsed her, and put some nice vanilla lotion on her damp skin as the tub drained. She barely stirred as he combed out her hair and she hummed with contentment when he tucked her into the very soft, expensive sheets and kissed her forehead.
Eric’s business papers were there in the loft, so he got his iPhone and the paperwork he needed and made his calls to Bill and Sandy, checked in with Pam and Vincent, and paid a few bills. He could feel in the bond that the boys were about to wake up hungry and he was sure they’d want Mommy this time, so he put his work away, put the iPhone on his nightstand as always and slipped into bed next to Sookie. He relaxed and listened to Sookie’s breathing, trying to feel the tiny life in her womb. At this stage his daughter was a tiny glow inside her, but he could feel her presence and sent her waves of adoration, picturing her as a little girl about three, the very image of Sookie, precious and willful and the apple of Daddy’s eye. He was getting misty thinking about her and he thought he felt a wave of love flowing back to him then he realized Sookie was watching him as he held his hand over her womb and concentrated.
“Can you see her yet, Sweetie?”
“Not exactly – I see a warm glow that will grow to be her, but that’s all at this point. I thought for a minute I felt a wave of love, but that was probably coming from you.”
“It wasn’t. I felt it, too. It’s tiny as she is, but it’s there.”
“I wonder who she is?” Eric asked wistfully
“I wonder that about the boys…”
“We know who they are now, though – Alex is bold and loves to fight, Auberon is sweet and funny – but she is a complete mystery right now.”
“How do you picture her?”
“I can’t picture her grown yet. I see her at about 3, with your big smile and blonde hair, as sweet and playful as you are.”
“Aww – that’s cute.”
“I wonder if she’ll be petite as you are, or tall, like the women in my family? Will she be a Witch? Will she be more like a Vampire or an elf? Will she be a darling little Princess or a hearty Viking wench?” he laughed. “With you as her mother, she could go either way, you know?”
“Maybe she’ll be all of the above? I can be girly, but I can kick ass, too,” Sookie laughed.
“If she has half your grace and half your power, I’ll be very proud of her. I don’t expect to be lucky enough to have two such powerful women in my life.”
“Try three – don’t forget about Freyja.”
“That’s true, I’ll be blessed with a Trinity of powerful females, then, one more beautiful than the next.”
“Right, so now I need you to stop thinking about your daughter.”
“Because the boys will only sleep another hour and a half at most and I want you to knulla mig until we have to stop!” She laughed and he instantly switched gears.
Neither of them was in the mood to be mellow this night. Sookie had a lot of pent up anger from the past few days and she unleashed it all on him. He gave even better than he got in one continuous throwdown that took place across the entire room. They slammed, scratched, clawed, growled, spun in the air, rolled around on the floor, ending their Odyssey on the red leather ottoman/table/ whatever it was, with Sookie on her back, her legs on either side of his head while Eric took her on his knees. When the moment was right, they each offered the other a wrist and bit, causing an explosive yet silent orgasm in both that left them stunned, spent and laughing.
Sookie was the first to be able to speak. “Now that’s what I call a good hard Vampire fuck!”
That cracked them both up, and they laughed a little too loud, because they woke the babies. “Dadee?”
“Hold on, Alex, Daddy is coming,” Eric said, dragging himself up off the floor as that particular turn of phrase set Sookie off laughing again. Eric scooped her up off the ottoman and dropped her playfully in the bed, pulling on a pair of jeans and picking Alex up from the co-sleeper. Fortunately, Aubie woke up, too, because there was barely time for Eric to feed them and give Sookie her Ambrosia before he had to go into his box. Sookie was sound asleep by the time the boys were fed, and Bobbie came up to sit with them until a Were was available to take over. Bjorn relieved her at 10 am, giving her a big kiss and a squeeze as she headed back to bed.
Sookie was dreaming, but conscious. She was in that place that’s really no “place” at all where she’d only ever seen Freyja – unless maybe she and Eric had been here before during sex? Where was Freyja? Sookie felt like her tongue was stuck in peanut butter, but she called out “Freyja? Are you here?” Nothing.
“Freyja? It’s Sookie! Did you want to see me?” She had to force the words out of her mouth, her tongue feeling huge and hard to move.
A tiny light appeared before her then it flared into a bright star, swirled hypnotically and Sookie was at once face to face with Dionysus! She was startled and jumped, making him laugh, then he looked in her eyes and walked very close to her. He held up a goblet of gold to her face and said, “Would you like a drink, Milady?”
“A drink of what?” Sookie asked and he burst into laughter. He was so beautiful, like a rock star with that curly dark hair and cupid’s bow lips, and Sookie was both repelled and aroused. There was truly no way to know what He was going to do next!
“Very good, Milady. That was a test. You’d be amazed how many will drink from My cup without bothering to ask what it holds.”
“Yeah, I can see that, but I don’t know You that well…”
“Would you like to know Me better, pretty lady?”
“Uh, well, I’d need to ask Freyja about that. I don’t know what the rules are.”
“Your husband never concerned himself with the RULES when he was in My service, Milady. Do you need permission from Freyja to follow your own… loins?” He made a grab for her hootchie with his free right hand but she backed away quickly.
Sookie was shocked because she was sure He was going to say “heart” but somehow His attempt to grope her didn’t surprise her at all.
“Not permission, exactly, but information. No offense but I know Her and trust Her…”
“Do you really? Do you really trust Her deep down in your SOUL,” he grabbed for her again, but she jumped back and slapped his hand way, which made Him howl with laughter. “Very amusing, Milady. Very entertaining.” He looked her up and down lasciviously, making her aware for the first time that she was naked. “It’s a pity We’ve no time to play today – you need to be at Antoine’s by 1…”
Sookie sat bolt upright, making Bjorn, who was in one of the chairs in the sitting area, jump because he was so tired.
“Good morning!” He tried to act as if she hadn’t startled him.
“Have I been here this whole time?”
“Yes, you’ve been watched continuously since dawn.”
“Good. What time is it? I’m supposed to be at Antoine’s by 1.”
“Eric told me about that, Sookie, but I really don’t think…”
“Bjorn, Dionysus just told me I had to be there by 1!”
“Since when do you have visions of Dionysus?”
“Since just now, apparently, in a place I usually see Freyja. I wonder where She was this morning?”
“Can you see more than one deity at a time?”
“I don’t know – I never have before, except at the Wiccaning. I don’t know why Dionysus is around me so hard.”
Bjorn laughed to himself about Sookie saying Dionysus was “hard around her,” but he didn’t call it to her attention. “Maybe he likes you, Sookie?”
“He scares me, though, and did you see Him at the Wiccaning?”
“I know He was there but I didn’t see what He did when He walked to the babies.”
“He kissed their foreheads and anointed their lips with wine. What that meant, I have no idea.”
“You didn’t ask Him?”
“No. I doubt He’d tell me the truth, anyway. He’s like Alex, always laughing at me – wait, I don’t mean that. Alex laughs at me but he’s just a little mischievous. Dionysus is more than that – I think He can be really mean.”
“He supposedly makes women kill their children, you know?”
“Yeah – I’m sure you’ve heard that before, right? I think I remember Bobbie and Octavia talking about it.”
“If I did, it never sunk in. I wonder if there’s a way to keep Him away from us?”
“I’d talk to Freyja about it if I were you, Hon. You can’t afford to insult someone on that level.”
“Yeah, that’s true. I’ll talk to Her when we get home. Anyway, let’s get ready to go to Antoine’s.”
“Sookie, you know all the Weres are tired today…”
“Didn’t you just tell me I couldn’t afford to insult Dionysus?”
“Alright, hang on.” He pulled his phone out, “Alicia? Yeah, I couldn’t talk her out of it and she wants to get there by 1. Uh-huh. Sookie, do you want something to eat now?”
“Just give me a strawberry drink so I can get ready and go.”
“She just wants one of those strawberry things. Oh, OK. I’ll tell her. She says there’s one in this little fridge,” he said as he bent down to look. He handed her a can and a straw, taking her a robe that was hanging on the closet door as he went over to her. “Alicia said you’d better hop in the shower if you want to get there on time. I’m going to go downstairs and let you get dressed.”
“Who’s got the boys?”
“Bobbie is playing with them downstairs and Lane is watching them. Last time I heard them they were in their playpen with the kitty and Alex was trying to teach Aubie to say “kitten” but he says it funny…”
“Yeah, he says “giddnen.” I love that.” Sookie laughed, then chugged the strawberry supplement. Bjorn was already down the stairs, so she didn’t put the robe on, she just held it in front of her in case anyone could see up the stairs as she went into the bathroom.
Bobbie and Alicia brought the boys up and let Sookie give them each a shower, then they dressed them in some adorable Ralph Lauren shortalls that were designed like his classic polo shirts. Alex’s was Pool Blue, Aubie’s Cayman Blue, so they were very nearly alike, except Aubie’s was a slightly richer color. They even had the little polo pony on the little pocket.
“These are so sweet!” Sookie was nearly jumping up and down. “I think they’re dressed for a fancy restaurant, right?”
“Yep,” Bobbie agreed as they put little white socks and shoes on the boys. “They should fit right in. We packed a little food just in case they don’t have anything appropriate for the boys, but I think they’ll have something for them, don’t you?”
“I hope so. Did Alicia pack my camera? I want to take their picture there. I think it will be sweet, their first time in a fancy restaurant.”
Bobbie laughed and agreed and Alicia came up and found the camera, then refilled the diaper bags. Sookie wiggled into the white dress with the black roses, getting a little rush remembering she and Eric had sex in the limo the last time she wore it, oh, and on the plane, too!
“I hope they can seat us all,” Sookie said, just realizing they were going to a very busy restaurant with a large party.
“I called ahead, Mrs. Northman, and told them our party had some special needs and we’d have 10 people plus two babies, and they assured me they could accommodate you.”
“They didn’t have any problem with the babies and all?”
“Not when I told them the reservation was for the Northmans. The person I talked to said “the Vampire King’s family? You mean Queen Sookie and the princes?!”” Alicia laughed, “I said “yes, that’s us, can you handle us?” and they said, “yes, Ma’am, we’ll be very pleased to serve them.” They guaranteed a table for us at 12, so we should go as soon as we’re ready.”
Bjorn managed to corral them all into the car by 11:10 and they were dropped off at the restaurant at quarter to 12. The staff was waiting for them and they led the group to a set of tables at the side of the main dining room where everyone could see them. It did not escape Bjorn’s notice that there were photographers staking them out.
“Hey, Sookie – somebody tipped off the press,” Bjorn was not happy with this development.
“That’s OK, isn’t it? We aren’t afraid of anybody, right?”
“Bjorn, do you trust me?”
“I trust your intentions, but this flies in the face of common sense, Sookie.”
“You want to bet a hundred dollars that something happens at 1 that makes it a great idea that we’re here?”
“Yes, I do.”
“You’re going to lose.”
“I hope I do. If I win, we might all regret it.”
Sookie, Alicia and Bobbie were seated at the center of the right side of the main dining room, Aubie closest to Sookie and Alex between him and Bobbie. Guards sat at the tables on each side of them and in front, so there was a semi-circle of protection around the table. Bjorn sat at the table next to Sookie and kept his back to the wall and his eyes scanning the room even as he ate. Cody Lane mirrored Bjorn’s position just behind Bobbie and Alex.
“Excuse me, Queen Sookie? I’m Richard, the maitre d’…” a very polished man came to their table as they all settled in.
“Oh, hi! Thanks for fitting us all in with such short notice.”
“Oh, it’s our pleasure, your Majesty. We consider it an honor to have you and the princes here. All the city will be buzzing about it!”
“Oh, well, that’s nice,” Sookie said with a big smile, seeing Bjorn’s expression of displeasure in her peripheral vision but choosing to ignore it.
“Since this is your majesty’s first time dining with us, our chef suggested that you might want to try a tasting menu so you can get a good sampling of our extensive offerings?”
“That’s fine with me, especially if it includes different oyster dishes and some soft shell crabs,” Sookie laughed.
“Oh, yes, Madame, you’ll be very pleased, I’m sure. He wasn’t quite sure what to serve the babies, I’m afraid. Do they eat normal food?”
“Yes, they can eat some things. They love vegetables and they’re not picky eaters, except that we’re all very allergic to lemon, so please don’t bring any or use any in our food. Alex needs things that are in small chunks and he loves gravies and sauces, but Aubie needs only soft things, but if it’s too much trouble…”
“Oh, no, Madame, what we had considered was taking some of our best vegetable dishes and pureeing them so the babies could have a taste of what you’re having.”
“They’d love that, I’m sure, and I don’t know if you serve it, but they really like steak Tartare. The rare meat is good for them.”
“Alex particularly likes potatoes,” Alicia offered, “I’m sure he’d love some of your famous pommes de terre soufflés.”
“Alright, I’ll let the kitchen know. If there’s anything at all we can do to make your visit more pleasant, please just let us know.” He bowed slightly to Sookie and walked smartly back to the kitchen. Sookie heard him thinking he was hoping they blew her socks off with their food, because the Queen’s visit was guaranteed to be featured in the local society columns and he was hoping they’d get a nice quote to add to their web site and maybe their brunch ads for the weekend.
“Yep, they’re going to make food for us and bring it to our table. Won’t that be nice?”
‘Eeah, ahm undwy! Sthmew dood!”
“Yeah, it does smell good in here, doesn’t it? This is a restaurant, Alex, can you say restaurant?”
Sookie and company were definitely treated like royalty and the food was rich as hell and out of this world. Just as they finished an amazing array of oysters done four ways and escargots done two ways – Sookie made herself try one and was pleased to find she actually liked them – the bus boys came around to refill everyone’s water glasses as they awaited the next course. They were quietly excusing themselves and working cooperatively, and at just about ten minutes until 1, Sookie picked up on an interesting comment. It occurred to her later that her hearing was improving, because the boys were near the front of the room with the far table of guards and they spoke softly.
“Hey, Johnny,” a young olive skinned boy said to the tall thin Cajun boy that was helping him, “you got this? The boss just waved like he wants me over at the Garner tables.”
“Sure, Petey, go ahead.” Johnny nodded and continued to serve their party.
Sookie reached out into the room with her mind and tried to zero in on the other guests while she watched where Petey went and waited for Johnny to come to her table. She realized that a boisterous group of men on the opposite side of the room seemed very pleased with themselves, obviously celebrating, and that some of their dining companions were scanning the room the same way Bjorn was. She focused on that guy in particular and heard him thinking that there were “too many people here to try taking the Vamp slut and her little demons out.” When he reached Bjorn, Sookie asked sweetly, “excuse me, Johnny?”
“Did I hear you say something about “the Garner tables?” That wouldn’t be Jubal Garner, by any chance?”
“Yes, Ma’am, it is. Do you know him?”
“As a matter of a fact, we have some business to discuss, but I haven’t met him face to face. Which one is he?”
“See the tall man in the blue suit, red tie, with the crew cut?”
“The one who just waved for another drink?”
“Yes, Ma’am, that’s Mr. Garner.”
“Thank you, Sugar,” she smiled sweetly as he finished and moved to the next table.
“Sookie, don’t you even think about it.”
“Think about what?”
“You know damned well “who!” Eric will skin me alive – literally – if I let you get in that guy’s face.” Bjorn was trying not to raise his voice, because there were two photographers and a reporter nursing some drinks and appetizers and trying to listen in on them.
“They know we’re here, Bjorn, and they know there are too many people to try anything. I am NOT going to slink out of here with my tail between my legs,” Sookie said quietly and definitely as the next course was set in front of them. Before Bjorn could speak again, Sookie was half way across the room and the photographers were following her. Bjorn got up and followed her and motioned for a Were named Lewis to go around the other side. The reporter was nearly out of his chair, watching breathlessly to see what the Vampire queen was going to do, not knowing who Garner was but knowing she’d recently been attacked in her home by mercenaries.
Sookie walked right up to Garner’s table as his security and hers all stood to see what was about to happen. Three of Sookie’s guards got right in front of Alex and Aubie so they formed a wall in front of them. Alex was enjoying his “taytosth” and Aubie was wondering where Mommy went, but didn’t fuss. Lane stood in front of Bobbie and Alicia, ready to back Bjorn up.
“You’re Jubal Garner?” Sookie demanded
All the men at Garner’s table were stunned that this gorgeous woman walked up to them, but his security knew she couldn’t be hiding a weapon in that little dress. Garner decided to try blowing her off, which was not a good idea.
“Yes, I am, Little Lady! Something I can do for you?” He sort of laughed to his companions, like she was some kind of groupie, and Sookie heard in her head that the businessmen he was lunching with had no idea who she was. Only Garner’s security knew her.
“Yes, as a matter of fact, you can stop trying to kill me and my family.” Sookie spoke loudly enough for everyone in that side of the restaurant to hear and the gasps were audible. Bjorn and Lewis were right behind Sookie, staring down his security. The rest of them were standing at the tables with Bobbie, Alicia and the boys.
“Now hold on…” Garner thought he could intimidate her if he stood and got angry.
Sookie looked right up into his eyes and spoke, oblivious to the flash of the cameras behind her, “You and I both know that you sent hired killers to my house in Shreveport two days ago and tried to kill my family. This is the only warning you’re going to get. Leave us alone!”
“You’re getting awfully close to committing slander, you little…”
“It’s not slander if it’s true and we ALL know it’s true. You don’t know who you’re messin’ with. You stay away from my family, or you’ll be joining your paid killers in Hell. I repeat – this is the ONLY warning you’re going to get, Jubal Garner. Have a nice lunch!” She sneered that last sentence with all the Scarlett O’Hara sass she could muster, spun on her heels and went back to her table and sat down without another word. Bjorn and Lewis backed away, not taking their eyes off Garner’s men.
Sookie went back to their table, and told her guards, “y’all sit down and eat. We’re not afraid of those bastards.”
“You shouldn’t have done that, Sookie,” Bjorn felt light-headed, wondering how he could explain this to Eric without getting his head ripped off, literally. Shit!
“Yes, I absolutely should. It’s called “hiding in plain sight.”
“They already knew we were here. Now EVERYBODY in this room knows they’re here, too. If we just left and never said anything, they could follow us and attack us on the road. Now that I’ve made a big scene, and had my picture taken talking to him, if anything happens to us, the authorities go straight to Garner.”
Bjorn wanted to argue with her, but she was right. Her making a spectacle gave them some measure of cover they wouldn’t have if she hadn’t called attention to Garner’s presence.
Richard, the maitre d’ returned to the table. “Excuse me, your majesty, is everything alright?”
“Everything is fine! I just saw a business associate I needed to speak to. These soft shells are to die for. Can you tell me, which sauce is which?” Sookie was being as perfectly sweet as she could, sending a clear signal to Richard and Bjorn and everyone else that she expected everyone just to move forward with the meal as if she hadn’t just accused a man of attempted murder in front of “god and everybody.” Richard looked at Bjorn with surprise and Bjorn just shrugged.
“Mamee, wadiz dat?” Alex was pointing to his bowl and Sookie looked at Richard.
“Oh, my! I didn’t know they could speak!” Richard said with surprise.
“They’re unusually bright children. He’s wondering what this creamy green stuff is.”
“I believe that’s the creamed spinach, Madame. They have creamed spinach, broccoli with hollandaise sauce, and of course, the pommes de terre soufflés.”
“He loves the potatoes – that’s his favorite food. Alex, did you try the broccoli?”
“Yes, Sweetie, this is broccoli,” Sookie took his spoon and gave him a bite and he went wild for it. “Ah wyg dat bwoggy, Mamee. Nah Mahdwid.”
“No, Margaret didn’t make that, did she? That’s special broccoli that they only make here.”
“Oh – I don’t know, Sweetie,” Sookie looked at Richard who was waiting, fascinated at seeing the Prince speak. “He wants to know if he can take some home with him.”
“Of course! We’ll make some little doggie bags for them, if you’d like.”
“Oh, thank you.” The meal continued without incident, unless you counted Sookie’s delight when they served a fancy dessert called Omelette Alaska Antoine, a kick-ass baked Alaska dish they’d made just for her. She had Alicia take the boys’ and her picture with it, and she went around and took some pictures of them all, then Bobbie took some pictures with Alicia in them. She took a special one of Alicia between the boys that Alicia just loved when it was printed out later. Richard even took a picture of her whole group seated together on that side of the room.
“Excuse me, Mrs. Northman, I believe?” The reporter couldn’t take it any more, and they were on dessert so he just approached her, but he did it slowly, knowing she was surrounded by armed men.
“Yes, I’m Sookie Northman,” she gave him a big smile, knowing she was going to get to skewer Jubal Garner in the press.
“Well, welcome to New Orleans! That man you approached before – isn’t that Jubal Garner of New Centurion, Ltd.?”
“Yes, it is – he’s tried to have my family killed a few times, the last time being Tuesday, and this is the first chance I’ve had to tell him to stop.”
“I heard him mention slander…”
“You must have also heard me say it’s not slander if it’s true. We’ve turned evidence over to the authorities in Shreveport. The men that fired grenades at my house two days ago were on Garner’s payroll and he’s not going to keep getting away with it.”
“You believe he’s tried before?”
“At least twice, but there’s no evidence. This time, there is. All my family wants is peace. All we ask is that he leave us alone. These religious fanatics need to know that the Vampire community is not going to be victimized. You are not entitled to kill people just because they’re different, or because some religious wacko has decided someone is “unholy” or whatever. It’s the 21st century, for Goddess’ sake!”
“I think that’s enough questions,” Bjorn said firmly with a look that let the man know in no uncertain terms that the interview was finished. “Let the Lady finish her dessert.”
“Of course. Thank you, your majesty.” There was no way he was going to challenge the big blonde with the slight Swedish accent – the man was a mountain!
“Thank you! I know you’re going to print Garner’s name? And that he’s the head of New Centurion, right?”
“Good,” Sookie said with an air of great satisfaction.
When they were all stuffed and satisfied Sookie left god-awful huge tips, especially for Johnny, whom she had Bjorn slip a hundred dollars to – the hundred dollars he lost to Sookie for their bet.
There was a well known shop right around the corner called Erzulie’s Authentic Voudou that Bobbie had found on the Internet, and Sookie insisted on going in, while the babies and Alicia waited in the car. They didn’t stay long, but Sookie found two Connolly Tarot decks for Bobbie and herself, which was the one Octavia told them to get, and she bought an 85 dollar bottle of “Gulab Attar (Pure Rose Attar) (Rosa Damascena),” which is a sacred altar oil. She also bought Rose and Pomegranate room spray “for sensuality,” a pink stained glass pentagram “for passion,” and “”Mambo LaSiren” Peace, Healing & Calming Perfume Oil” for Yemaya.
“Yemaya was at the summit, right?” Bobbie recalled
“Yes, and She said She’s a mermaid, too, and She’d see me in Mexico.”
“Yeah, it should be fun. I hope you get to meet Her.”
Sookie was fascinated as she looked at a display of candles in jars, and some shaped like men, women, skulls, cats and columns of 7 knobs piled one on top of the other. Bobbie was starting to explain what they were when Bjorn cleared his throat to let them know to get on with it. Sookie and Bobbie took their purchases to the cash register, where the owner, a very pretty woman known as “the Root Queen,” rang them up, stopping to look at the Tarot decks closely.
“Did you find these here?” she asked with surprise.
“Yes, of course,” Sookie laughed. “Why?”
“Well, I’m the shop owner, and I do all the buying, and I’ve never seen these before!”
“You must have – they have a price and everything,” Sookie said as Bobbie laughed with delight and Bjorn just shook his head. “They’re exactly the ones I needed.”
“You’ve got the power to manifest what you need, then – use it wisely.”
“Oh, I will! Thank you!”
Bjorn was relieved when he finally got them in the limo and headed back to Sang Riche, and he took some pretty paranoid precautions on the way back to make sure they weren’t followed. It was almost 3:00 by the time Alicia and Bobbie got Sookie and the boys tucked into their beds in the loft for an afternoon nap. Sookie had eaten so much for lunch that she dozed off in the back of the limo and Bjorn carried her in while Cody and Lewis carried the boys, who were also asleep.
Alicia heard giggling in the loft at about 5:00 and went up to find the two babies flying around, turning flips in the air and going up to touch the glass ceiling.
“Come here, Baby E!” Alicia said quietly, laughing, and he flew into her arms, then Aubie followed. She took them downstairs and gave them fresh diapers then Alex wanted “dee bee” so she put their Teleubbies DVD in and that kept them occupied until the kitchen brought their dinner up at 6. Alicia and Bobbie fed them and had them trying to repeat words until Eric came down the stairs.
Eric awoke at nearly 6:30 and found Sookie still asleep in the bed wearing nothing but a white thong. He fought the animal in him that wanted desperately to taste her because he was afraid that she might be ill, although he was pretty sure he felt only fatigue in the bond. He went down to find the boys showing off and eating their dinner, surprised that the others weren’t eating as well. Bjorn was sitting at the table drinking coffee and laughing at the boys, but his mood grew visibly grim when Eric entered the room.
“Good evening, everyone – no family dinner tonight? Is Sookie ill?” He bent to kiss each boy in his high chair, stroking their soft cheeks with the backs of his fingers, reveling in the love and laughter that flowed from them for him.
“No, she’s fine, but we thought if she could sleep, we should leave her alone. We didn’t know if we should wake her for dinner or wait until she got up,” Alicia explained.
“Did she insist on her outing today?”
“Boy, did she, and we need a security meeting because of it,” Bjorn told him, hoping Eric wouldn’t fire him, let alone kill him, once he heard what Sookie had done.
“Was there an attack?”
“No, more of a confrontation. Jubal Garner was in the restaurant,” Bjorn just spit it out to get this over with.
Eric panicked a little bit, which was to be expected. “What?!”
“Yes, apparently the intuition she had, which was reinforced this morning by Dionysus…”
“Yes, He told her she needed to be there by 1, so we went and about half way through the meal, she overheard the bus boys refer to Garner and while I was telling her not to even think about confronting him, she zipped across the room and told him to stop trying to kill her family.”
“She walked up to him in the restaurant?”
“Yes, and there was a reporter and there were two photographers there.”
“Why were they there?”
“To cover Sookie and the boys going to the restaurant – some one tipped them off -it’s a big honor for them, because the whole city loves Vampire royalty.”
“Has anyone watched the local news?”
“We recorded it in case they said anything about it.”
“There was one picture of Sookie and the boys that they posed for and they said there was a rumor that she confronted another diner about threatening her family, but they didn’t have the whole story. I think they’ll have it tonight, though, or in tomorrow’s papers because she did speak to a reporter.”
“They didn’t name Garner?”
“No. He told her she was close to committing slander and she told him “it’s not slander if it’s true and we ALL know it’s true.” You should have seen her,” Bjorn said with pride, “he tried to intimidate her and she stood tall, looked him right in the eye and told him this was the only warning he was going to get.”
“Her exact words?” Eric softened a little hearing that.
Eric smiled, then tried to get serious. “I should be angry at both of you, you know?”
“Yes, I know, I’ve been half afraid you’d fire me and half afraid you’d kill me, but her reasoning for doing what she did makes sense. She said they already knew we were there and they knew there were too many witnesses to try anything, so by confronting them, she made sure they couldn’t follow us home without throwing suspicion on themselves. If anything happens to us, everyone will look at them first.”
Eric nodded, “that’s a very good strategy. She came up with that herself?”
“Yes, she is.”
“Did you go anywhere else?”
“A shop around the corner, but mostly she was happy to come back here when we finished our meal.”
“Finished your meal? You mean she confronted him and went back to eat?” Eric was incredulous – he’d assumed Sookie had given Garner a parting shot on her way out the door.
“Yep, and stayed for dessert,” Bjorn let out a little laugh and Eric laughed, too, then everyone at the table cracked up.
“Any problems with the children?” Eric smiled at the boys as he sat at the table next to Alex’s chair
“No, my men formed a wall in front of them while it was happening and we were on guard while we finished the meal.”
“When did Garner’s people leave?”
“They were still there when we left and I called more guards from the office while we ate so we had a large force with us coming back here.
“And she went shopping?”
“To one Voudou shop around the corner just for a minute. She apparently manifested some Tarot cards there.”
“Yes, she found two of the decks Octavia specified she should get, but the shop owner said she’d never seen them before and that Sookie must have the power to manifest what she needs.”
“Did she recognize her?”
“Honestly, I couldn’t tell. She recognized Sookie as a practitioner, but I don’t know if she knew she was your wife.”
“Did she say anything else?”
“Just that Sookie had the power to manifest and to use it wisely.”
“No, we took a very indirect route to get back here to be sure we weren’t followed. She and the boys were all asleep when we got here, so I carried her up to the loft and two of the guys brought the boys. Alicia and Bobbie got them ready for a nap and she’s been there ever since.”
“Alright. The boys have eaten?” Eric looked around to Alicia.
“Yes, but they should probably have bottles of RM as well,” she told him.
“Alright, order dinner for the five of us and we’ll wake Sookie when it arrives if she’s not up yet. I’ll give the boys their bottles while we wait. Bjorn you can sit with us and we’ll continue our talk.” Eric pulled Aubie up out of his chair and Alex floated up and into his free arm. Eric sat on the couch with them and Bobbi warmed bottles while Alicia ordered food from both the human and Vampire menus.
Alex insisted on standing next to Eric on the couch, facing backwards so he could hold onto it but still see Aubie in Dadee’s lap. Aubie was patting Eric’s cheeks and giggling as Eric tickled and played with both of them. “Alex, did you enjoy your trip to the restaurant today?”
“Ah wyg westhtawant!”
“Did you go eat dinner?”
“Eeah, sthmew dood!”
“It smelled good there?”
“Eeah, dood bwoggy nah Mahdwid.”
Eric looked at Bjorn for that one.
“He had good broccoli that was different than Margaret makes.”
“Oh, did you eat anything else good?”
“Eeah, taytosth and dween sthtinach.”
“I got potatoes and…”
“He’s either saying green spinach or creamed spinach,” Bjorn laughed and so did Eric and the babies.
“Did they have good food, Auberon?”
“Ah!” he bounced in Eric’s lap and giggled.
“Dadee, Mamee “NAH, NAH!””
“Mommy yelled at someone?”
“Eaah, bee!” Alex drew the words out for emphasis and his hands out to show size.
“I think he’s saying “big” – is that right, Alex? It was a big man?”
“Eeah, bee mand. Mamee doo widdow.”
Eric got that, “he was a big man and Mommy was too little?”
“Eeah. Wew nah fway dose basthtats!”
Bjorn nearly spit coffee in the white living room, cracking up when he recognized Sookie’s words.
“What did he say?”
“He said ‘we’re not afraid of those bastards,’” Sookie said from the spiral staircase.
“Mama!” Aubie zipped through the air into Sookie’s arms. Sookie was just wearing one of Eric’s t-shirts, but it reached her mid-thigh.
“Come, my Angel!” Sookie and the baby made a bee line for Eric and she sat in his lap and gave him a big kiss. “Alex has been telling me about your trip to the restaurant.”
“I figured. I didn’t think he’d remember that particular line.”
“You are the one who always says “Alex doesn’t miss much,”” Eric laughed.
“Yeah, I’d better watch that, huh? So what’s the plan for the evening?” Sookie asked with a yawn.
“Alicia has ordered our dinner, then we will all swim – Bjorn, Bobbie and Alicia, too, and then you and Bjorn and I will make a plan.”
“Because he got his one warning?” Sookie knew exactly what he wanted to plan.
“Exactly, my Angel.”