LATE Chapter 106


[A/N: The invocations used in this chapter are borrowed from many sources, old and new, but I don’t know which I got where. No infringement is intended, only a sincere desire to represent our Craft well.]

Sookie felt as if she were dreaming, but was unable to open her eyes. In the background, she heard a familiar woman’s voice whispering, but she was unable to follow the words as they washed over her, red lips chanting in candlelight as if the words were being poured into Sookie’s sleeping mind:

“In the beginning, there was ISIS, oldest of the old, She was the Goddess from whom all becoming arose; Come to me, Come to me, for my speech hath in it the power to protect, and it possesseth life. 
I am Isis the Goddess, I am the Lady of words of power. Lady of the Green Wings And of the Crescent Moon, Queen of the Earth, Star of the Sea, Queen of Heaven who dwells in eternity And travels in the Vibration of the Universe, She Who is all that can be perceived or conceived in the mind, She Who is perfect peace, She Who is the Infinite – 
Beyond Time, the Ultimate Divine, She Who is and is beyond darkness, I am One with Her and All Divinity. In my work I praise Her and in my resting, in my speech, and in my silence. For I am made one with Her, and this is my true estate. HER mysteries will be unveiled to me, I will see…She will whisper her ancient secrets to me, I will hear… Her words will be spoken through my lips, I will be heard. Her wings now embrace me…I feel, I am at one with you, ISIS… I will become Thee, We shall live in blessedness; I live glorious under Your protection. Nehes em hotep,
 Nehes em neferu,
 Nebet hotepet,
Weben em hotep,
 Weben em neferu,
 Nutjert en Ankh,
 Nefer em Pet!
 Pet em hotep, 
Ta em hotep, Nutjert Asha-renu!
Anekh hrak!
Anekh hrak!
Tua atu,
Tua atu,
Nebet Aset!

“Anekh hrak! Anek hrak! Tua atu, tua atu, Nebet Aset!” Sookie chanted along with the voice in her ear, “Anekh hrak! Anek hrak! Tua atu, tua atu, Nebet Aset!”

“SOOKIE! Wake up!” Bjorn shook her and she opened her eyes.

“Quick, I need my book!” she said as her eyes popped open.

Bobbie, who was standing at the foot of the bed, brought Sookie’s new book over to her, sitting on Eric’s side of the bed, and Sookie said, “I have no idea how to spell this, but write it down as best you can before I forget it – Anekh hrak, Anek hrak, Tua atu, tua atu, Nebet Aset.”

Bobbie wrote the words phonetically so Sookie would know how to say them, asking “what does this mean, Hon?”

“I have no idea but someone was whispering it to me. There’s a lot more, but that’s all I remember. What language is that?”

“That last word, Sookie, Aset – could that be Isis?” Bobbie asked her
“What, like, Egyptian?”
“Maybe – it’s a place to start looking. Does it sound familiar, Bjorn?”
“No, but if it is Egyptian, it’s really old. Even Egyptians don’t speak Egyptian any more,” Bjorn said, trying to decide how much to admit that he knew about languages in Africa and the Middle East, because he knew a lot.
“They don’t?” Sookie asked as Bobbie helped her into a her favorite little blue sundress, and it flashed through Sookie’s mind that the last time she wore it, she wound up at Freyja’s for a week in a day.
“No, they speak Egyptian Arabic, but it doesn’t sound like that. I’ve never heard that language before.” He walked to the stairs and called down “OK, guys!
Two Weres came up the stairs and quickly took Eric’s box down to the living room. Sookie noticed all her luggage was gone, too.
“Oh, OK – what’s going on? Why’d you wake me up?” Sookie was a little disoriented as Bobbie spun her around and started brushing her hair and making a ponytail of it.
“If we’re going to Austin, we have to go now. Thunderstorms are coming into the area a little later today and we won’t be able to fly. Eric has to be there tonight, so we’re going early.” Bjorn explained as Cody came up the stairs.
Bobbie helped Sookie step into her black Birkies, then pulled her toward the stairs as she grabbed her book to bring with her. Bjorn handed Alex to Cody and picked Aubie up, trying not to wake the babies if possible. Alicia was coming out of the downstairs bathroom with the diaper bags she’d just restocked, and Sookie found herself in the back of the limo with Bobbie, Alicia and the boys before she was even completely awake.
“Wow – no time for make up today, huh?” Sookie laughed, still a bit dazed.
“You can put a little on now if you want,” Alicia said, “but it’s really not necessary. You’ll be going from the limo to the plane and then right back to another loft. When we get to Austin, you can go back to sleep if you want.”
“How long is the plane ride?”
“About 2 and a half hours,” Bjorn said from the driver’s seat.
“You could get in a nap on the plane, Sookie,” Bobbie suggested.
“You guys wouldn’t mind if I did that and left you with the boys?” Sookie liked the idea of going back to sleep, but didn’t want to take advantage.
“The boys will probably sleep the whole way, too, Dear,” Alicia reminded her.
“OK, then, as soon as we take off, I’m going to bed, ‘cause I’m beat!” Sookie said a little hopefully. She didn’t want to complain, but she was less than thrilled about waking up this way. She knew it was nobody’s fault, but still, she felt like she hadn’t slept at all. She stayed out in the main cabin with the rest of the group until take off, but as soon as they were in the air, the boys went to sleep and Sookie headed for the master bedroom. It made her feel very secure that Eric was in the room in his box, and she was asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow. She barely awoke to go to the limo in Austin, and went straight back to bed when they arrived at Sang Riche Austin. She was already under the covers when Bjorn and his guards brought Eric and the boys in, though she did stop long enough to put the shutter system down so the room was pitch black until you tripped the ambient lighting. She also left her dress on the floor next to the bed and the guards could see by her bare arms that she was nearly naked under the sheets, which would fuel a few fantasies later in the guard’s rec room on the floor below the penthouse.
Alicia managed to get the boys to take food and bottles of blood so Sookie was able to sleep until almost 4:30, when she ran a bath and had Bobbie help her with the babies in the tub. She had them all bathed and dressed in little blue onesies with teddy bears on them. They were sitting on the floor next to the bed rolling a ball with Puff as Sookie got her makeup done and was checking her reflection in the bathroom door mirror to make sure she had the Black Halo violet print, back-cut out dress on right and the back strap was straight. Eric was suddenly standing behind her and she jumped a little when she saw him.
“What are you wearing, my Angel? You look as if you’re in your underwear.”
“No, it’s not underwear, this is the dress for tonight.”
“There is no top?”
“Nope, this is it. It’s no more low-cut than other things I’ve worn.”
“In the front, yes, but from back here, you seem to be wearing only a skirt and a bra,” he said, frowning.
“You don’t like it?” She turned to face him.
“Are you wearing your hair down, at least?” he asked hopefully.
“Yeah, that was the plan.”
“Turn around, again, please?”
Sookie turned slowly in a complete circle, but looking over each shoulder at him as she did. She didn’t think this dress was that bad…
“How attached are you to the idea of wearing it, Dear One?”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes, I’d prefer that you not wear it. Do you have something else to put on?”
“Yeah, I should have one or two other options…”
“Then please do. This is too… trashy. I don’t want people seeing you like this.”
Sookie was stunned. “You know just about anything I put on is going to be short and low-cut, right?”

“Yes, but it will look like a dress to be worn to a party and not lingerie to be worn in the boudoir.”
“OK, let me ask Alicia what else I have.”
“Thank you, Sweetheart. I’ll take my shower while you ladies confer,” he kissed her lips and kicked it into vampire speed.
“Hey, Alicia?” Sookie called down the stairs.
“Yes, Dear?” Alicia looked up from below.
“Have you got something else I can wear?”
Alicia came up the steps as Sookie spoke. “You don’t like this one?”
“Eric asked me not to wear it.”
“Oh… well, let’s see what else we have. There’s this bright red one, and this pink rosette one. “ The two dresses were about as far apart as they could be. The red satin one was a stretch fabric with princess seams in a tank shape with a scoop neck. The pink one was a very pale, delicate pink that fell from the strapless top in tiers that gradually formed a large rosette on the left front hip. Sookie couldn’t decide which way to go, so she said, “hang on a minute,” and went into the bathroom.
“Yes?” he was surprised she followed him in and looked out the door at her.
“OK, the options we have are hot and sexy or sweet and feminine. Which would you prefer?”
“Sweet and feminine sounds lovely.”
“OK, sweet and feminine it is!” She turned back to Alicia, who was laughing and putting the red dress away.
“What did he say about the violet dress?”
“He said it looks like I forgot my dress and am in my underwear.”
“Oh… OK, I can see that. It is a very sexy dress.”
“”Trashy” is what he called it. I like it, but it’s not that big a deal to me.”

Alicia helped Sookie out of the first dress and into the Aidan Mattox tiered rosette silk one. Sookie did like this one better, anyway, though it was a little tight at the top when Alicia zipped it up. She was just hoping she didn’t pop the zipper, but it wasn’t that tight, and it looked beautiful on her. They decided to pull Sookie’s hair up and Alicia was taking some earrings out for Sookie to choose from as Eric zipped quickly out to get his tux and took it back before either woman could react. By the time Sookie had the Elsa Peretti Diamonds by the Yard 18k gold earrings with diamonds dangling from her ear lobes, Eric was back in his tux, smiling behind her.

“Very pretty, Sookie. I like this dress much better.”

“You don’t think it would look better at a tea party?”

“Maybe, but I like it when you look feminine. No one else at the party will be wearing anything like it.”

“That’s a safe bet,” she laughed as she turned to kiss him.

“Mmm – have you had dinner yet, Sookie?” He smiled down at her, his arms around her waist.

“No, we were waiting for you. I got the boys dressed in case we need to introduce them to anyone, and by the time I got myself ready, you popped up,” she was being girlish and flirty now and she could feel his happiness singing in the bond between them. “Want me to dry your hair for you?”

“Don’t you think it will dry while we dine?”

“I actually just want to brush your long hair. It’s so pretty,” she teased him. He knelt down next to her portable vanity and let her run a brush through his hair and use the dryer for a few minutes until she was satisfied with it, then he swept her up into his arms and lightly floated down the stairs with her. The boys were being put in their high chairs and the dinner cart was coming through the door as they landed.

“Good evening, everyone!” Eric was in a wonderful mood tonight, and Sookie was basking in the love he was projecting to her and to the boys.

“Eric! Everything looks good for tonight,” Bjorn told him as they all took their usual seats at the dinner table. “Have you talked about it yet?”

“Not yet, I thought we’d all go down together after dinner. It should only take a few minutes then we’ll go from there to the party.”

“Where are we going?” Sookie asked, wanting to know what they weren’t telling her.

Eric leaned to whisper in her ear, “the Demo Room.”

“Oh – yeah, I forgot we were going to try that! Will you do me a favor?”

“What is that, Sookie?”

“Can we take Amunet down with us? She’s here tonight, right?”

“Yes, she is. Why do you need her?”

“In case something comes up we aren’t prepared for, she has a better idea what I can do than any of us do.”

“Alright, if it will make you more comfortable, we can stop by their suite on the way down and see if they’d like to join us.”

“They will, I’m sure of it. Badru wants to know what I can do almost as much as we do.”

Eric and Bjorn exchanged a brief look at that and the dinner conversation continued normally, Bobbie and Alicia talking about how they would share child care while Sookie and Eric were entertaining, and how they planned to get Cody to play monopoly with them so they would all stay awake and alert since they were short handed this night. Everyone would feel a lot better when the rest of their party reached New Orleans.

The food was great, but Sookie was getting a little jaded by the service at the clubs at this point. Sure, it was nice being waited on, but she’d really rather be home in Shreveport eating Margaret’s home cooking. Anyway, she told herself to perk up, so she gave Eric a big smile when he offered her his arm and he took her cell phone and lipstick and put them in his left jacket pocket, then took her over to the little fridge. He ate one of the candies that were charged to help him recognize an enemy, holding the box open so Sookie could take one of the candies for prophecy. By 8:15 they were knocking on the Presidential suite door on the 13th floor and were invited in by a Were servant they had seen with Badru and Amunet before.

“Sookie!” Amunet popped up from the sitting room couch and hugged Sookie, who was just as tickled to see her. Amunet was wearing a sort of flesh-toned beige and silver sequined dress with a shear top that almost left her topless except for some strategically placed beading

“Wow, that’s some dress!”

“You like it?” She turned and showed it off, “it’s a copy of one Marilyn Monroe wore in Some Like It Hot. I’m not quite zaftig enough to do it justice, but I wanted it anyway.”

“Where did you find that?”

“Darling, you don’t “find” dresses like this, you have them created for you!”

“Where do you get that done?”

“I’ve got a few seamstresses and a design house or two in my address book. Don’t you?”

“Uh… no!” Sookie laughed – such a thing would never occur to her!

“See, this is another symptom of you not knowing how to enjoy your money. You do go to the runway shows at least, yes?”

“No – I’ve never been to one.”

“Oh, my Goddess – you aren’t still buying off the rack?!”

“I guess I am – most of my clothes are from catalogs or the Internet. It’s good stuff, though, like, designer brands, or whatever.”

“Where did you get this dress you’re wearing?”

“I have no idea. Alicia could probably tell you. She buys a lot of my stuff.”

“Well, she’s got good taste. This is really sweet. If you didn’t tell anyone, they’d think it was made just for you. The color is perfect with your skin!”

“I had a brighter, sexier one on earlier, but Eric didn’t like it. He said it looked too much like I was in my underwear.” Sookie and Amunet both cracked up at that.

“He wants his Queen to look like a Queen, then. That’s great that he’s so attentive!” Amunet said with admiration. “Most men rarely notice a lady’s dress.”

“Ladies, are we ready to go?” Eric asked as he and Badru finished talking about whatever they were talking about. Sookie tried not to listen in to Eric’s conversations with the other regents, even though, if she really concentrated, she could hear other vampires now. The less she could deal with Vampire business, the better.

Bjorn and the local Captain of the Guard led them down a corridor to a panel you had to know was there to find and did whatever voodoo made it work and they were in that dark stairway that reached into the bowels of the club again. Sookie could tell at one point that they were underground because the temperature of the walls went down and it got a lot quieter. There was a group of four guards waiting for them in the otherwise empty lowest floor and Sookie picked up a rubber mat and took it to the demo room as they’d done before.

Amunet and Badru stood outside the door with Eric and the Captain while Bjorn stood right next to Sookie at the entrance.

“OK, what exactly do you want me to call?” Sookie asked him as she placed the mat in the middle of the room.

“Start with “all the bombs in this building.””

“All the bombs in this building go there!” Sookie pointed to the mat and two big soda cans were laying there. “Eric! Look! Remember?!”

“Yes, I do – that’s like the one you held in your hand at the Pyramid of Gizeh!” Eric said unhappily.

“But there’s only these two…?”

“Alright, Sookie, call “all the New Centurion soldiers and spies in this building,” Bjorn suggested.

Sookie concentrated and sent out the call but no one appeared.

“Alright, now try “All the FOTS terrorists in the building.”

“All the FOTS terrorists in this building.”

Suddenly, there was a loud POP and there were two men in waiter’s uniforms standing in front of them freaking out over what had just happened. The other guards in the basement grabbed them and took them for questioning. Bjorn closed and locked the door to the Demo Room and did something on a little control panel that reminded Sookie of a fuse box in a house, then Bjorn shooed them all to the other side of the basement where the stairs were. The soda can bombs went off, but it was a much smaller explosion than the other one had been when there were several bombs retrieved.

“Well, your Majesty,” the Captain of the Guard addressed Eric, “I’d say you can go about your business. I’ll let you know what we glean from our two guests.”

“Thank you, Captain.”

“You won’t discover much,” Sookie explained, “this was a last minute deal thought up by someone in their church. It wasn’t meant for mass destruction – it was just meant to intimidate us and make the club seem dangerous. They were more focused on driving away business than on actually hurting anyone.”

“Indeed?” Eric looked at her with surprise.

“Yeah, they’re too chicken to handle the big explosives. This was more of a dare than anything else. Also, they don’t really know what these clubs are – they just know vampires own the building.”

“Too bad,” Eric said, “that “dare” will be their last. Badru, Amunet – shall we join the party upstairs?”

“Absolutely,” Badru said with a big smile, directed mostly at Sookie. Bjorn led them to a hidden elevator at the back of the room, and in no time they were the hallway to the Romanoff Room on the third floor.

“Sookie, there’s the ladies’ room – let’s powder our noses before we enter the party,” Amunet suggested, taking Sookie’s hand and dragging her into the rest room that was just like the one where they fought the New Centurion terrorists. There was no one else in the room this time, though, so they checked their make up, Amunet literally blotting her nose with a little powder and doing the same to Sookie, then Sookie washed her hands because she had handled the floor mat in the basement.

“Do you need to “go” while we’re here?” Amunet asked.

“Not right now – I’m sure I will later, though. You know the guys are waiting for us?”

“Are they? How do you know?”

“Eric is telling me to take my time, and he and Badru are standing this side of the door to the room.”

“Do you “hear” him, or just “feel” him?” Amunet asked as she fixed her deep red lipstick, which Sookie found fascinating for some reason, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on why.

“Both. I can feel where he is, and how he feels, and he can think things to me.”

“That’s a handy trick. Have you always been able to do it?”

“No, my abilities are getting stronger as time goes by, I think maybe because I’m drinking from him so much.”

“Really? Badru and I exchange fairly often, but I don’t think it has affected my abilities to any great extent.”

“Oh – well, I’m supposedly going through a physical transformation, so maybe it’s that?”

“A transformation?”

“Yeah, I…”

There was a knock at the door and Eric pushed the door open slightly. “Sookie, Dearest, are you ready to enter? I think they want to announce us.”

“…Oh, OK…” Sookie looked at Amunet who smiled and nodded toward the door, so Sookie went out and she followed.

Eric smiled and offered Sookie his arm and they turned to the entrance, Badru and Amunet following behind them.

There was a sort of hostess waiting inside the door who quickly welcomed the party and showed them to Eric’s table. A spotlight followed Eric and Sookie, and the band leader announced, “His Royal Highness Eric Northman, and beautiful Queen Sookie.” The crowd buzzed a little and softly applauded as they smiled and nodded, and Sookie gave a quick little wave that that was girlish and endearing.

As soon as their party was seated, one of the lazy Susan servers with the black and white dishes was placed in front of them, and it was filled with several kinds of caviar and every kind of garnish you’d want for it – minced shallots, chopped egg, crème fraiche, capers, chives, dill, small pieces of smoked salmon – and several types of blini, crackers and buttered toast points.

“Oh, this looks yummy!” Sookie said enthusiastically and the server, a young woman with an auburn pony tail, smiled and said, “the Chef created this assortment just for you, your Majesty.”

“Oh, well, tell him I said thanks!”

“Yes, your majesty, I’ll tell her.”

“Oh – a female chef?”

“Yes, ma’am – Chef Andrea Casey – have you heard of her?”

“Maybe – did she have a show on the Food Network?”

“She’s been on there, I think, but she’s better known for a reality show on FOX. She was the big winner.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful.”

“She said she’ll come introduce herself when she gets a minute. She’s working on a special dessert for you.”

“Oh, that’ll be nice!” Sookie gave the girl a big smile and Eric smiled and nodded to the girl, very pleased that she was paying attention to Sookie. He had let it be known that Sookie was to be the center of attention for the entire staff. He had been a little put out that the chef in one of the other clubs had scowled at Sookie and Amunet when they first met and went to find the Witch with the magick candies. The chef had claimed he didn’t know who she was, but Sookie was in the tabloids every day, and at this point you’d have to live under a rock not to recognize her, so Eric wasn’t buying it.

“Ooh, Eric, look!” Sookie said, a little too loudly, so she blushed a bit, but she was beside herself to see a Marilyn Monroe impersonator in a pink satin dress step up to the microphone in front of the “big band” and sing “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.”

Eric laughed with delight and whispered to Sookie, “shall we ask her to join us later tonight?”

Sookie’s eyes popped and she giggled and said, “you’re so bad!” she said and put her hands on both sides of his face and kissed him.

“If you change your mind, just say the word,” he teased her, putting his arm around her shoulders and giving her a squeeze.

Amunet was laughing, and leaned toward Sookie, “I bet I know what he’s thinking!”

“I’ll bet you do,” Sookie nodded, cracking up, “It’s like Marilyn Monroe night, you in that dress and then that singer. Was that a theme or something?”

“Not that I know of,” Amunet said, “but it’s hilarious. She’s pretty good, isn’t she?”

“Very good. I wonder if that’s a wig she’s wearing?”

“I was wondering myself, but I think I see some brown roots, so it’s probably her own. Isn’t that dress fabulous?!”
“It really is.
“You should get the number of her dressmaker, Sookie and have her make one for you. You could carry that off easily. I think I even know a place you could get the over-the-elbow pink gloves. You’ve got that amazing diamond bracelet, too.”

“You don’t think I’d look silly?”
Amunet looked at her with surprise. “Do you think I look silly?”
“Of course not – you look fabulous.”
“Right, and you have more of the body for it. I don’t have the rack to do this dress justice, but you’ve got that perfect Barbie doll shape.”
“Where would I wear such a thing?”
Eric, who had been following their conversation as well as the one he was having with Badru, added, “You do have a costume ball coming up on Samhain, Sookie.”
“Oh – I never thought of that! I guess I could get away with wearing it there.”
“It would be perfect on you, Sookie. When she comes off stage, let’s talk to her,” Amunet urged as she fed Sookie a blini piled high with pearly grey Osetra “berries” and crème fraiche
“OK, I guess it wouldn’t hurt,” Sookie said as she swallowed it, her eyes rolling back a bit at how good it was. “Mmm – this is so good!”
“I know – this Russian stuff is good.”
“How do you know it’s Russian?”
“Oh, I talked to the kitchen earlier and asked them what they had in stock. It’so m, mostly classic Russian varieties and several American types.”
“See the big red ones?”
“The salmon roe? Sure.”
“Where does that come from?”
“Probably Alaska. It’s really inexpensive.”
“It is? Because I love it.”
“Yeah, if you know where to buy it, you could get it for like $50 a pound.”
“I thought caviar was hundreds per ounce.”
“Some of it, sure, but salmon roe is easy to come by.”
“Cool – I won’t feel so bad about eating so much. “ Sookie took a big bite to hide the fact that she was listening in on Eric, who was calling her attention, telepathically, to several people around the room, though there was no sense of urgency.
“Sookie?” Amunet tried to call her attention back.
“Do you know that man looking at you from the doorway?”
Sookie looked where Amunet pointed and was surprised to see Sir Robert of Swansea looking straight at her. “Oh, yes, actually, I do. I need to speak to him. Eric?”
“Yes, Sweetheart?” he bent his head toward her.
“My Minister of Days is here from you-know-where. I need to talk to him.”
“Where is he?”
“Over there.” She nodded and Eric raised an eyebrow. This was someone he didn’t know and a very good-looking someone at that. He was less than thrilled about the prospect of Sookie having such a handsome Fae contact. Not that he didn’t trust Sookie, but he knew better than to trust strange Fae men around his bonded, no matter how loyal she might be. Fae were known to take what they want whether the lady consented or not, and they also had a kind of Fae glamour that could make an unwilling human more pliable. He didn’t know if that would work on Sookie, but he had no intention of trying it out.
“Invite him to join us, Sookie,” Eric said as if Sookie couldn’t feel the jealousy and suspicion rolling off of him like a dense fog.
“I probably need to speak to him privately…”
“There’s an office on this floor. If you’ll agree to take Bjorn with you, I’ll have him take you two to it, but only if Bjorn stays with you.”
“Eric, you don’t need to worry…”
“But I WILL worry so take Bjorn, please?”
“OK. Bjorn –“ she turned and called to him because he was a few seats away from her.
“Yes, your Majesty?”
“Sir Robert is here, see?” Sookie nodded in that direction. “Can you show us where the office is on this floor so we can speak privately?”
Bjorn looked at Eric, who nodded but didn’t smile, and said, ”OK, let’s go,” helping her stand and leading her toward the door at the back of the room behind them. Sookie looked back and nodded toward the door and Sir Robert nodded then stepped out the other door. Sookie jumped a little when she came face to face with him outside the door on the opposite side of the room.
Sir Robert bowed to her, “Your Majesty, sorry to interrupt…”
“Hello, Sir Robert, that’s not a problem. Bjorn is going to show us where we can speak privately.”
“Very good, lead on!” He smiled at Bjorn, who was no more thrilled than Eric about Sir Robert’s relative position to Sookie, so he grunted and led them down the hall to a set of glass French doors. Bjorn used his thumbprint to open the doors and showed Sookie a very nice office with oxblood leather furniture and hunter green wallpaper.
Bjorn stood outside the office door, but left it open a crack so he could get to Sookie quickly if need be.
Sookie and Sir Robert sat in two chairs that faced the front of the desk and he began to explain why he was here.
“Milady, I bring a warning from the Wise Ladies. Lady Ariel has told me that Niall Brigant has been spotted in the OutLands of Elfyria.”
“Where’s that?”
“It’s technically in your realm, but it’s at the very fringes and overlaps several planes of existence. It’s a portal into the past for those who know how to use it, but the Ladies assure me that Niall is not among those. He’s apparently amassing a small army of assassins, much like the one that failed so spectacularly at the Lammas Wiccaning, but these are individuals who’ve been banned from Elfyria. Some believe they will try a frontal attack on the city when they’ve numbers enough. The Ladies and I agree that he is far more likely to be planning a surprise attack on you, first.”
“You mean here, or in Elfyria?”
“Wherever he can find you. There is some speculation that he knows you’ve been to Avalon, and that is making him bold and reckless in his jealousy.”
“Why is he so focused on Avalon? It’s all women there, right?”
“There are treasures on Avalon that can be had nowhere else in all the worlds, Milady. There are also those, Lady Nivian for example, whom he wishes to separate from their heads.”
“If he harms Nivian, I’ll kill him.”
“You’d best kill him the first chance you get, no matter whom he has, or has not, harmed. I have been told that you’ve adopted the dragon whelp?”
“Yes, he’s upstairs.”
“Is he with your babies, Milady?”
“Maybe – should he be?”
“Oh, yes – let him stay with them when they sleep and particularly when neither you nor the king can be with them. He’s small, but he’s very powerful. He’ll protect them with his life, so keep him close and let him get to know them.”
“Oh, he does. They play together and he’s taken them for swims in the pool. He’s fitting right in with the family,” Sookie assured him.
“Good. He’s from a very old, very revered line of protectors, come down from the time of King Arthur. His mother was a protector for Queen Genevieve until she died.”
“But not for Titania?”
“Titania was poisoned – there’s not much a dragon can do about that, especially when the poison is from her own house.”
“Alright, when do I need to come back to Elfyria?”
“I’m surprised you haven’t been back already. We have things under control, but it would be good if you’d come when you can spend some time and I can take you for a ride through your territories. We could hit the high spots in a few hours, and it would reassure people to see you in the villages.”
“Should I bring Aubie for that?”
“That would be up to you. I’ll have a retinue of trustworthy guards with us, so bring him if you like. It might be safer than leaving him at home for an extended period. He’s safest when he’s with you.”
“Even with Niall trying to kill me?”
“Even with – he won’t risk hurting the child just yet.”
“It’s the “just yet” that infuriates me.”
“I know exactly how you feel, Milady. Strengthen your wards on your homes and businesses, and keep the boys near you when you can, or the dragon with them when you can’t. We know it is only a matter of time before Brigant strikes, so be prepared and show no mercy.”
“Don’t worry about that. I can’t wait to take the old bastard down so I know my boys are safe from him.”
“Alright, then, unless something drastic happens, I’ll see you in Elfyria – tomorrow, I hope, or the next day?”
“Yes, of course if you need me.”
“We do, Milady, we most fervently do,” he stood, bowed low and disappeared.
Sookie sat trying to sort through what he’d told her. The people wanted to see her – because they need to know she’ll protect them from Niall? Yes, that made sense. He’s less likely to find Fae to follow him if they know their Queen is around and in possession of the throne. If they know she’s there to lead the army, his band of criminals will think twice before making a frontal assault.
“Yes, your Majesty?” he looked in the door.
“Can we go to the penthouse before we go back to the party?”
“Yes, if you want. We should tell the King…”
“I’ll tell him. Let’s just go.” Bjorn held the doors for her and led her to the elevator, then they took the car to the floor to access the special elevator to the penthouse.
Sookie walked into the penthouse, finding the boys sleeping quietly and Bobbie, Alicia and Cody playing Monopoly as planned.
“Hey, Sookie!” Bobbie said as she came in, “we didn’t expect to see you for a while.”
“Yeah, I wanted to check on the boys. Sir Robert was just here. Where’s Puff?”
“He’s out in his house,” Alicia pointed out the glass door.
“OK, I was told that we should let him stay near the boys when they sleep, especially if Eric and I aren’t around, so I’m going to bring him in. Is that OK with everyone?”
“Yes, of course!” Alicia said and the others agreed.

Sookie stepped over to the sliding glass doors and pulled the right one back “Hey, Puffy!”
The dragon, who’d been lying by the pool in the moonlight, perked up and made his wookie sound. “Come on in, Buddy!” The dragon quickly bounced to the door and stopped inside the door to nuzzle Sookie’s waist as she petted his head. “OK, Puffy, Eric and I are busy tonight, so I want you to stay with my babies and keep them safe, OK?”
The dragon looked Sookie in the eye, nodded and purred that loud purr of his, so Sookie was pretty sure he knew what to do, but just to be sure she pointed to the boys “My babies, Puff. My babies. You keep my babies safe, yes?” The dragon gave another nod and a wookie bark and sat down next to the playpen in an alert position, his claw on the side of the playpen, to show the Goddess he would keep her whelps safe. “OK, good boy!” Sookie kissed his head, then let Bjorn lead her back to the Romanoff room.
They passed a lot of people in the hallway this time because they were using the main corridor. People smiled and nodded to Sookie and she said hello to them each and gave them her emergency smile because she wasn’t used to so many strange people knowing her name. Eric and Badru were standing in the hallway outside the Room when she got there.
“Hey, Sweetie,” Sookie popped up to him and kissed him playfully and he wrapped his arm around her.
“We were just saying we’d wait here for you.”
“No need to wait – where’s Amunet?”
“She’s speaking to Marilyn about her dress maker. She’ll be right out.”
“We aren’t going back in?”
“Did you want to, Sookie?”
“No, I just thought we would. Where are we going now?”
“My wife suggested that we all go down to the Disco room and dance,” Badru laughed.
“Disco? Oh, yeah, Bobbie and Amelia told me about that. They play all kinds of music down there – actual disco stuff, and modern hip hop and almost anything with a dance track. We’ve never done that kind of dancing, Eric, do you do that?”
“Well, we’re about to find out,” he laughed. He had a few moves Sookie hadn’t seen yet and he was looking forward to surprising her.
Amunet came out of the Room then saying, “Sookie – I’ve just been talking to Marilyn! She’s going to meet us down there!”
“Where? The Disco?”
“Of course, she’s going to dance with us!” Amunet pulled Sookie down the hall with her and Sookie just went with it, the two of them giggling a little and Sookie remembered she hadn’t danced like this since Eric saw her and Tara do that dance routine at that club, but that seemed like a lifetime ago. She remembered he didn’t dance that night, but he sure did watch every move she made, and that gave her a deep sense of satisfaction, knowing he had wanted her so badly back then and she – well, at least she told herself back then that she didn’t want him, though if she were honest about it, she really did. They took the elevator to the ground floor of the building and there was a big center room with see through walls and there were spotlights of several colors, an occasional strobe light and the biggest mirrored disco ball she’d ever seen hanging from the building. A relatively young vampire and two very pretty “hostesses” came giggling out to the hallway and into one of a number of doors along the out side walls, closing the door which had a kind of windowed panel where a sign changed from Open to Occupied.
“What’s that?” Sookie asked and everyone else laughed as a pair of elegant but old vampires came out of another door holding hands and whispering. Before Sookie got an answer, Amunet said, “MacArthur Park! I love this song,” and she dragged Sookie into the darkened room and up onto a riser with room for about 20 people on it. There were various risers platforms and stages throughout the room and some of them had dancers obviously paid to be there, while others were just patrons dancing with hosts and hostesses and everyone was having a great time.
Sookie and Amunet and a bunch of other people were jumping up and down to the throbbing dance track, singing with Donna Summer “someone left the cake out in the rain! I don’t think that I can take it, because it took so long to bake it, and I’ll never have that recipe again! OH NO!” Eric grabbed Sookie around the waist and spun her around, then they jumped in unison a few times and he took her hand, spun her and bent her backward. ‘Holy shit!’ Sookie thought ‘I married John Travolta!’ That track went up, then it spun down and a slightly slower song, instantly recognizable, started up and nearly every woman in the room started singing “He met Marmalade down in old New Orleans, struttin’ her stuff on the street.” Sookie, like every girl in Louisiana, loved this song and she camped and vamped it up big time to Eric’s sheer delight. She grabbed his belt buckle and said “Hello, hey, Joe, you want to give it a go?” the she spun around and pressed her butt back into him singing “Giuchie, Giuchie, ya ya dada (Hey hey hey,) Giuchie, Giuchie, ya ya here (here,) Mocha Chocalata ya ya (oh yea) Creole lady Marmalade” Then she spun around, shimmying her shoulders toward him then back, and he moved to follow her with his upper body as she sang “Voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir, Voulez vous coucher avec moi” singing along with the song as best she could, but it was the new version with Christina Aguilera and she didn’t know all the rap stuff in it, but everybody played up the choruses and the whole room was jumping and wiggling and Sookie hadn’t had this much fun in ages.

Next they played “Head Like A Hole,” by Nine Inch Nails and nobody really knows the lyrics to that one, so it was mostly jumping up and down until it got to the part everyone knows. When the lines “Bow down before the one you serve. /You’re going to get what you deserve./ Bow down before the one you serve. You’re going to get what you deserve.” Sookie dropped to her knees looking up at Eric with a wicked grin, then running her hand up the inside of his thigh and squeezing the bulge in his pants just slightly as she stood back up, then she straddled his leg and let him shake her upper body around like a rag doll. Sookie just barely noticed that Marilyn, now in the white halter dress, was dancing with them, occasionally wrapping her arms around Amunet, then the two of them moved in around Sookie as she wiggled against Eric. The song gradually melted into the English version of T.A.T.U.’s “All the Things She Said,” which was mostly an extended dance track that just repeated the chorus over and over :
All the things she said
All the things she said
Running through my head
Running through my head
Running through my head
(Running through my head)
All the things she said
All the things she said
Running through my head
Running through my head
All the things she said
All the things she said
(All the things she said)

Sookie, Amunet and Marilyn were dancing with their arms around each other, the lights going into a heavy purple strobe and suddenly Sookie had Eric’s bleeding wrist pressed to her mouth, then she was swimming in a sea of hot, sexy bodies, vaguely aware that she, Amunet and Marilyn had danced their way into one of the little rooms on the side of the party room. The music was pumped into the room, and so was the strobing light, so Sookie couldn’t really see anything, though later she was pretty sure there was a cube, something from the ceiling, and a big easy chair that reminded her of Eric’s chair in the basement at Fangtasia. They were still dancing when something slipped around Sookie’s wrists and Amunet whispered “Hold on” and encouraged Sookie to step up on some kind of little box as her hands stretched upward. She was high on Eric’s blood, the faint recognition of which made her wonder where he was as her dress was slipped down to expose her breasts and she felt hands with long fingernails slipping inside her thong, which was soon around her ankles. Sookie couldn’t think so she just rode the wave of Eric’s blood, stretching like a cat into the leather around her wrists and the two mouths and four hands all over her, one of which was becoming very insistent inside her and Sookie could feel an amazing orgasm rising up from her toes, that shot up her legs, gripping at her center then covering her torso, face and arms in crashing electric purple waves.

Sookie collapsed into the orgasm and suddenly she was bent over the back of a soft leather chair as Eric took her hard from behind, squeezing her breasts, then running a hand down to renew the throbbing in her clit. She braced her hands on the seat of the chair, the only thing holding her up was Eric’s cock slamming into her, which was hard, hard, hard inside her, then she felt his cool release on her back entrance. Sookie knew what that meant and for some reason found it funny, so she was cracking up as he pushed into her slowly, making her pant, and laugh, then pant some more. Her head was swimming, ‘Where am I?’ she wondered as she found herself balanced on the back of the chair, head and arms in the seat, Eric’s hands holding the front of her thighs, and she wasn’t really aware that she was grinding her crotch into the back of the chair as she and Eric grunted in unison as he slammed to a brilliant conclusion then he rearranged her dress, picked her up and took her out a different door as she lost consciousness.


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