[A/N: ACK! Long chapter and long Author’s Note. Sorry!
Some people are wondering how this story associates to LATE, so I wanted to clarify that. This is an AU for LATE and will combine things from it, the show and the books. It’s still my Eric and my Sookie, but they haven’t been through any trauma together yet, and Eric got to Sookie first. Because they were so close so early in the relationship, Eric saw Freyja in her long before he did in LATE.
This Sookie is lacking 3 years or so of trauma, anger and guilt. She has never killed anyone or seen anyone killed. This Eric is much more secure because she never fought against him or rejected the bond, and Bill was only relevant very early on, though he’ll still be around later in the story. Eric doesn’t have that deep resentment of Bill and Niall doesn’t want to kill Bill. E & S both get to experience the rush of a new relationship, which they didn’t get because of Bill’s actions and Sookie’s subsequent resistance to Eric. There will be no Quinn and not much Sam, I’m sorry to say, because I like Sam – just not with Sookie. They might invite him to the wedding – I’m not sure yet.
This baby IS Alex, but he will progress differently because there’s no rush. Sookie is 3 years late in LATE, so Alex has to grow up fast. This Alex gets to have a great grandma who’s going to love him like nobody else possibly could. Don’t worry, though, it’s still the Baby E you all know. Thanks! M.]
Part 11 An Ounce of Blood
“Sookie, is there someplace in the area where we could go to talk? So that we don’t disturb your grandmother?”
“Gran will be in bed. Can’t we just talk in my room?”
“No, I’m afraid we need more privacy than that will afford…”
“You want to go to a diner? Or out to the lake?”
“The lake might be our best bet, though it’s very late. Is there a motel in the area?”
“What – to have sex?” She wasn’t too crazy about that idea.
“No, I have considered that, but that’s not the goal tonight. I have to talk to you about something important.”
“Eric, what’s wrong?”
“It’s not that there is anything wrong…”
“Is this about Niall? What did he say to you?”
“We shouldn’t do this while we’re driving.”
“OK, there’s a root beer stand out by the highway toward Monroe. We can sit in the car – will that work?”
“I suppose that would work. At least you could eat.”
“Good idea, because I’m starved. I haven’t been able to keep anything down all day and the food at Merlotte’s was grossing me out so I didn’t even try to have dinner. I think I’m coming down with the flu. Make a right turn here.”
“Maybe we should go to Wal-Mart? I should probably get some medicine for this flu.”
“That would not be advisable.”
“Why not? Take the next left up here.”
“You do not have the flu, Sookie.”
“Really?” she laughed. “Do vampires know about human illnesses?”
“Some, of course, but you are not ill.”
“Then why am I throwing up every morning?”
Eric didn’t say anything, but he sped up as they turned onto the highway.
“Did Niall tell you I’m dying or something?” Sookie was only half-kidding.
“No, Sweetheart, the news is actually very good. It’s just that I was advised not to tell you about it. I’ve been thinking of it all evening, though, and I’ve decided it would be wrong to keep such news from my bonded. It would not only be disrespectful, I think you need to know so you can take precautions.”
“What kind of precautions?”
“Watching your diet. Staying off your feet. Not taking medicines or ingesting harmful substances.”
“Eric, what’s gotten into you? You’re acting like I’m pregnant or something.”
“Yes, I am.” Eric looked at her, then back to the road, several times trying to judge her reaction. “Which exit am I looking for?”
“It’s the next one after this. What do you mean “yes, you are?””
“I mean that, yes, I am acting as if you are pregnant.”
“Eric, that would be crazy – you’re a vampire, you can’t…”
“What if I could?” He was still trying to watch the road and her reaction at the same time.
“Eric, I’ve been thinking about that and even though I did always picture myself having kids, if I have to give that up to be with you, then so be it. I love you. Nothing is going to change that.”
“What if you didn’t have to give it up?”
“That would be a dream come true, but I know it’s never going to happen…”
“What if it did?” He was really driving fast.
“Why do you keep saying that?”
“Sookie, do you understand that Fae can work magick?”
“I never thought about it, but I guess I knew they were, like, magickal beings or something. Is that what you mean?”
“Niall is a very powerful magician, Sookie.”
“You mean he can cast spells and stuff? See that light up there? That’s the turn off. It’s down there to the right, across from the gas station.”
“I see it.”
“I’m glad we came out here – they have a fried chicken basket I used to love and I want extra fries with lots of ketchup.”
“Are those healthy foods?” He hit the turn signal at the bottom of the ramp, and got into the lane toward the restaurant.
“Well, not the healthiest you can get, but for this place, it’s about the best I’d be able to do.”
“Alright” They pulled into the brightly lit parking lot, which actually had quite a few cars along the rows because it was Friday night. Eric parked as far from the other cars as he could so they were toward the back of the lot which opened into an area of undeveloped land. Two waitresses were buzzing around on roller skates delivering orders and most of the cars had young couples or groups of teenagers in them.
Sookie unbuckled her seat belt and leaned forward to look at the menu outside Eric’s window. “Hey, Sweetie, they’ve got True Blood here!”
“So I see. That’s very surprising,” he said as he undid his belt, too.
A cute little girl with an auburn ponytail and a nametag that said “Tammy” skated up to Eric’s window. “Hi! What’ll y’all have tonight?”
“Can we get a chicken basket…?” he said hesitantly, looking at Sookie who nodded that was right, “an order of fries and a True Blood?”
“O negative, please.”
“You want anything to drink, Miss?”
“Yeah, I want one of those grape freezey things and bring lots of ketchup, please?”
“Okie doke – be back soon!”
“I wonder if they get a lot of vamps here? She didn’t even blink when you ordered your True Blood.” Sookie sat sideways in her seat, her back toward the door, looking at Eric.
“This is very near the highway. Maybe they get a lot of through-traffic?” Eric speculated.
“OK, now, talk to me. You said there’s good news, but you were told not to tell me, but you think you need to tell me anyway?”
“OK, so tell me.”
“You are pregnant.” He looked right at her, unblinking, and waited.
Sookie just stared at him for a minute, speechless. “Eric, that’s not funny!”
“No, it is not, but it IS true.”
“Wait a minute… vamps can’t…”
Sookie shook her head, trying to clear it. “Are you telling me, that my great grandfather, who I never even met, did magick to make me get pregnant?”
“Fae are very different from humans, Sookie. They have values and motivations that are beyond understanding.”
“So you have no idea why he would do this?”
“I know why he did it, but…” Shit! How was he going to explain this?
“Remember when I asked you to wait until I was ready to tell you about that relationship in my past?”
“This is about that?”
“In a way, yes.”
“Eric, I love you, but if what you’re telling me is true, just suck it up and tell me the whole thing. Nothing you’re going to say is going to be weirder than the idea of getting knocked up by a vampire because of fairy magick.”
“You are taking this very well…” he half expected her to flip out on him.
“I’m in shock. I’ll fall apart once I have the whole story.” She literally didn’t know whether to laugh or cry and he knew it. She was sort of panting, and he encouraged her to breathe slowly and deeply.
Eric wasn’t sure what he was feeling in the bond, but a large part of it was determination, so he knew she would not back down.
“Among Supernatural beings…”
“… at the top of the theoretical food chain…”
“…there are gods and Goddesses.”
“You’re shitting me?”
“Sookie – such coarse language is not becoming…”
“Don’t change the subject. You’re telling me all the gods and Goddesses are real?”
“Not all of them, but some, though many have passed away.”
“Passed away? Like, died?”
“Given up their existence because people stopped believing in them.”
“Many, many years ago, after my first bonded mate had died…”
“What did she die of?”
“The Black Plague.”
“Yes, well, after I lost her, I was wild with grief for forty or fifty years. At one point, I made up my mind to die in war. I threw myself into a group of swordsmen, let them hack at me and I planned to lie there until the sun came up and die.”
“Eric! I’m so glad you didn’t!” She was more concerned about him than herself now and she grabbed his face in her hands and kissed him.
He took her hands in his and looked her right in the eyes. “Yes, but I would have if it had not been for Freyja.”
“Freyja?” She leaned back a bit. “She’s a Norse Goddess, right?”
“Right. She and her Valkyries spirited me from the battlefield and put me in a dark room in her home, Sessrúmnir, in Folkvangr.”
“That’s where She lives?”
“Yes, and when I was recovered, we…”
Sookie leaned forward expectantly, waiting for him to spit it out.
“You fucked a Goddess?”
“Many times,” he stated plainly, “many, many times.” He wasn’t bragging, just trying to be accurate.
“Huh. So what happened?” Sookie was just letting this all wash over her because there was no way to process it.
“I was a warrior – I fought for Her, with Her, wherever She chose. Eventually, we were separated, but She promised that someday She would come back to me as a woman and we would be together forever.”
“How would She do that?”
“She would… I don’t know the word for it, I’m not a magician, but basically, She would be born as a woman who would bond with me and be with me forever.”
“What about me?”
Eric looked at her and waited until she put it together. In the mean time, Tammy was back with their order, so Eric busied himself with getting their food into the car.
Sookie was starving so she tore into the chicken as soon as she had it while Eric was putting her drink in the cup holder. He took his bottle from the tray and leaned back sort of facing her, waiting for her to put it together.
“I can’t believe how hungry I am!” she said with her mouth full. He waited while she finished about two thirds of a chicken breast and was drowning a big pile of fries in ketchup and suddenly it hit her.
“You said you’d been looking for me for hundreds of years…” she said slowly, pushing a stray bit of chicken into her mouth.
“I did, and I did.”
“You think I’m…?” She looked at him like he had two heads, which made Eric laugh because it was really very cute.
“At least a part of Her. I’m not sure how it works. I’m a warrior, not a magician.”
“Did She promise you a baby?”
“She promised to make all my dreams come true when She came back to me.”
“And you dreamed about having a baby?”
“I would never have dared – it was too impossible.”
“So Niall told you today that I’m pregnant with your baby?” she wanted to make sure she had the story right before she went off on him or Niall or whomever else she could direct this feeling of “WTF?” toward.
“My son, to be exact.”
“Your son? He already knows its sex?”
“A part of the magick. He assured me that he would look very much like me so no one will doubt I am his father.”
Sookie started to say something but she got a sudden whiff of the ketchup on the fries and she flew out of the car toward the empty lot beside them and threw up.
Eric could feel that she didn’t want him to come near so he gave her a minute, then he took her drink and a pile of napkins to her. She wiped off her face, though there wasn’t really anything on it, then she rinsed her mouth with the icy grape drink and spit it out.
“Oh my god!” She grabbed his hand and tried to steady herself because she felt as if she might fall.
“More like, “oh my Goddess,”” Eric corrected her.
“What am I going to tell Gran? And Jason? OH, SHIT!”
“Sookie, if you think you are finished we should go back to the car. People are becoming suspicious. We don’t want them to call the police.”
“Ok… Ok.” She was dumb-founded as she understood at least part of it to be true, so she was numb as she let him guide her back to the car and she got in, holding onto the grape drink so she could sip it. “This is really good,” she said weakly as he got back into the car. “These fries are gross, though.”
Eric took the basket and held the chicken pieces as he dumped the fries in the trash can near the car.
“I’m glad you saved the chicken,” she laughed softly as he came back to the car. Tammy came back around to check on them.
“Everything OK?” she asked cautiously.
“Yes, my fiancé is just little sick.”
“Can I get y’all anything else?”
“Another one of these,” Sookie held up the cup, “and some fries with no ketchup.”
Eric nodded to the girl and she went back in to get the order.
“Do you think you can still eat, Sweetheart?”
“Yeah, as long as there’s no ketchup on it. Do you suppose there’s anyplace around here I could get a pregnancy test?”
“We will ask Tammy when she comes back.”
“Good idea. So this is real? I’m going to have a baby?”
“Yes, we are going to have a baby.”
“Eric, I’m so sorry…”
“Sorry?” he laughed, “Sookie, why would you be sorry?” He suddenly became serious. “Unless you don’t want the baby…”
“Eric, don’t be crazy, I’d love to have your baby, I just… do you want this?”
“Oh, yes, Sookie, I want this very much.”
“You’re not just saying that?”
“I won’t lie to you, Sookie. I told you that Niall and Dr. Ludwig didn’t even want me to tell you yet, but I couldn’t do it.”
“She’s a Supe doctor. She’ll have to monitor your progress since the baby is unique.”
“Unique?” Was that a good thing or a bad thing?
“There is no record of anyone ever having a Fae/vampire hybrid baby.”
“Great,” she said a bit sarcastically, “why didn’t they want you to tell me?”
“It’s very early. If something were to happen…”
“Like if I miscarry?” She tore into the chicken leg next.
“That’s why you wanted me to quit my job so much tonight?”
“Yes, and why I don’t want you taking medicine for flu you do not have.”
“Yeah, that’s not a good idea. I’m glad you told me.”
“Yes, if I’m going to have a special baby, I want to do whatever I can to make sure he’s healthy. I wish I hadn’t had that champagne last night!”
“You only had a little. I’m sure Ludwig would have said something if you had done anything wrong.”
“How would she know?”
“She has ways of knowing things. She’s a very unusual doctor.”
“Well, I guess that’s good if I’m having a very unusual baby,” she sucked hard on the straw in her drink, loudly draining the last bit of grape flavor and leaving only ice. Fortunately, Tammy was coming back with her second drink and her fries.
“Want me to throw that away?” Eric offered
“No, I want to keep the ice, OK?”
“Of course.” He turned to the window to take the new items from Tammy. “Thank you. May I ask you a question?”
“Is there an establishment in the area that would be open at this hour that might carry pregnancy tests?”
“Oh,” Tammy said, suddenly understanding why the blonde girl threw up. “The only place I know for sure would be Wal-Mart. If you get on the highway there and go west, it’s only like three exits.”
“Thank you very much. Can we get our check now, please?”
“Sure, here ya go.”
Eric reached into his wallet and pulled out a hundred dollar bill. “Here you go, Tammy. You can keep the change. Take this tray and basket, please? We appreciate your help.” Eric got Sookie settled with her food and buckled her seatbelt, then they headed for Wal-Mart.
Sookie managed to eat the rest of the chicken and fries and she sipped on the drink as they drove. She was still eating when they pulled into the Wal-Mart parking lot.
“Take your time, Sookie, we are in no hurry.”
“Maybe you’re not, but I have to go to the bathroom,” she laughed and he did, too.
“Alright, well, do what you need to do.”
She finished up the chicken wing and the last three fries, then asked, “think they’ll yell at me if I bring this drink in with me? It settles my stomach.”
“I’ll tell them you’re sick and need to keep it with you. They won’t give us a hard time, believe me.”
“Sookie, no one is going to get smart with me. They wouldn’t dare,” he winked at her.
Sookie laughed. “Good point! I’m ready. Hey, you know, it might be too early to use a pregnancy test.”
“Well, we’ll try it and if not, we’ll check later. Do you know how to use one?”
“Yeah, you pee on it.”
Eric laughed. “Well that should be easy enough. Maybe you should wait and go to the bathroom after we buy it?”
“Good idea. Let’s go to the pharmacy and get it, then we can pay for it in back where they have the TVs and that’s right next to the bathroom.”
“Good plan,” he laughed as he got out of the car and came around to open her door.
Heads turned as they walked into the store. Eric looked even whiter in this light and the way he towered over everyone made him seem that much scarier. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he was a vampire. It turned out that the pregnancy tests were locked up in the pharmacy, but Eric asked a young man working in the next aisle to get one for them and he didn’t dare say ‘no.’ He figured it would be better to get in trouble with his boss than to piss Eric off. Once they had it, they realized it was closer to go through the fast lane up front and let Sookie go to the bathroom up there.
Eric had the cashier scan it and Sookie took it and ran to the bathroom while he was still paying. He sat on a bench outside the restroom holding her drink and waited while Sookie figured out what to do. There was no one else in the ladies’ room so she was talking the whole time so he knew what she was doing. She told him she had to wait about ten minutes, which she was doing with her phone. Eric was enjoying the looks he was getting from the other people in the store. He saw the security guards checking him out and had to suppress a laugh when he heard them both say they weren’t going to be the one to question him. They finally gave up and one of them told the floor manager “if you got a problem with him, you tell him.”
“Eric, come here!” Sookie was at the entrance to the restroom. “Look!”
There was a big “+” sign in the little window.
“Give it to me.”
“I don’t care, I want to keep it,” he said as he wrapped it in a handkerchief and put it in his coat pocket.
“Hey, since we’re here, could I look at the clothes?”
“Of course, Sookie.”
“OK, let me wash my hands first.” She went back in briefly and then they cut through an empty checkout lane to get to the Misses’ clothing department.
“What do you think of this?” She held up a little green flowered dress.
“I don’t like that with your coloring. Try that one there,” he pointed to a blue one with lavender flowers.
“Ooh, that’s sweet!” She held it up in front of her and he nodded.
“These clothes are very cheap, you know…” he said with some distaste.
“Yeah, but this is cute.”
“Alright. Hopefully it will be the last garment you purchase here.”
“I don’t see much else.”
“Is there anything you want from any of the other departments?”
“Could I get some salad stuff?”
“Get anything you want. Do you want a cart?”
“Nah, we can carry it,” she grabbed his hand playfully and led him over to the vegetables. He helped her get cucumbers and red peppers, holding the thin bags open as she filled them, then she grabbed several bags of ready-made Caesar salad, romaine lettuce, baby carrots and some blue cheese dressing, plus some croutons and other crunchy stuff to put on a salad. “OK, I’m done!” she giggled and he offered her his arm as they headed for the front. There was no line at this hour so they were quickly out in the parking lot.
“Hold this,” Eric handed her the two bags of stuff and scooped her up in his arms, making her crack up. They kissed all the way to the car, and he tucked her into her seat with a big smooch before heading for his own. He threw the bags in the trunk, then got in and they kissed for a good ten minutes. Before he started the car, he took the little testing stick out of his pocket and looked at it again with a big smile.
“You like that, huh?”
“Yes, my beautiful bonded, I like that very much.”
“OK, you need to be there when I tell Gran.”
“I have a suggestion,” he said as he started the car. “Your closet in your bedroom is lightfast, yes?”
“I don’t know. I guess you could always put a towel under the door.”
“How would you feel about me sheltering there today? I’d be awake before you finished your dinner with Niall, then we could talk to your grandmother and we’ll go back to my house after.”
“I love that idea! I always wished I had a gorgeous man I could keep in my closet and take out at night,” she laughed and wiggled her eyebrows.
“Wishes do come true, it seems,” he beamed at her.
He put the CD back in and Sookie took her favorite position with her head on his shoulder as he held her hand.
About half way home, Sookie giggled. “Eric, you’re so happy!”
“Yes, I am. I never dreamed I could be this happy, Sookie. Finding you was a miracle in itself, and now the idea of a child… it’s almost too much to bear,” he laughed.
“I feel the same way about you, you know,” Sookie laughed.
“I am glad to hear it. I was afraid you would be upset.”
“Upset? Shocked, yeah, but not upset. When Gran told me about Niall, I started to say that she was going to let me get married and have kids without telling me, but then it hit me we could never have kids. I was trying to tell myself that it didn’t matter, but it did. I would never leave you, Eric, not for any reason, but it made me sad. Even if this is way too soon, it’s such a relief, I can’t feel bad about it. I’m so glad you told me.”
“We both need to remember that it is very early, Sookie.”
“Yeah, but now that I know, I can be smart about it. I’m so glad you weren’t going to let me keep working at Merlotte’s, too. The only rough parts I see right now are telling Gran and Jason. Considering what Gran just told me, though, I figure she doesn’t have a lot of room to talk. We’ll put off telling Jason until there’s no way around it.”
“That’s probably wise.”
“Wow – a baby! A little boy! Gran won’t be happy that we’re not married, but she’ll be tickled to death to have a great grandchild.” Sookie was very close to being giddy.
“He will have a great grandmother who loves him and parents who are wild about him. What a lucky boy he will be,” Eric laughed.
“Yeah, Eric Jr. Baby Eric. Baby E! You can be the Big E and he’ll be Baby E.”
“Baby Eric,” Eric said wistfully. Sookie looked sideways at him, thinking she saw a little drop of blood in the corner of his eye.
“Eric, do vampires cry?”
“We can, yes, but our tears are made of blood.”
“I guess that makes sense – that’s why your…. stuff… is pink?
Eric laughed when he realized that by stuff she meant his emission. “Yes, it is tinged with blood. That gives it healing properties, though, so that’s not a bad thing, is it?”
“No, not at all. Healing properties, huh?”
“Yes, it’s a very great advantage. It prevents all kinds of small injuries that might occur in rough sex.”
“Well, I guess we won’t be getting too rough for a bit?”
“No, we will leave that for after the child is born. We have a long life together so there is no need to rush anything.”
Sookie sang teasingly “I’m gonna be a mom-my!” which made Eric laugh with delight. “So the baby is going to look like you, huh? That will be one pretty little boy,” she teased him.
“Hopefully he will look like his mother, too, so he will be very beautiful, indeed.”
“So this doctor – what’s his name again?”
“Her name is Dr. Ludwig. She’s very respected in the Supe world. I talked to her earlier. She told me to give you her number when you figured out you were with child.”
“I was supposed to just figure it out?”
“Yes, unless you began to think you were ill, which you did, so technically I have followed her instructions. I’m sure she would not want you taking medications right now.”
“You’ll give me her number, then?”
“Yes, of course. I thought perhaps we would call her tomorrow night when we get to my house. She’s not human, so you need to be prepared for her appearance. She’s very small and you will see her as a bit strange, I think, but she’s very elite and very good. In an emergency, she can appear human for a few hours or so.”
“OK, so like if Gran is around?”
“Yes, if you think she needs protection from that…”
“Actually, she might not. If she slept with a fairy – more than once, even – she might be fine with a weird little doctor,” Sookie laughed.
“She is turning out to be much more open-minded than I had expected,” Eric agreed.
They turned down the Lane to the Stackhouse residence and as they drew near, Sookie said “hey, why are the lights on? You don’t suppose Gran is up this late, do you?”
“You want me to go up to your window?”
“No, I want to tell her that you’re staying there. I don’t want her to open my closet and get a surprise.”
“Alright, we’ll go in together for a change,” Eric laughed, thinking that they had never done this before. He relished every little “first” that they had together.
Eric parked her car next to the house and opened her door, taking the bags from the trunk and following her up the steps to the kitchen. The lights were on in there, too.
“Hey, Gran – You’re still up?” Sookie motioned for Eric to leave her car keys and the grocery bags on the counter.
Adele was sitting at the table in a blue buttoned-up robe with her hair down, eating oatmeal cookies and having a cup of coffee. “Sookie, I’m glad you’re home. Hello, Eric.”
Eric nodded to her and let Sookie find out what was happening. “What’s going on?”
“I was a little worried, Sookie. I got up and you weren’t home yet and there was a message from Jason asking why you quit your job and walked out in the middle of a shift.”
“Gran, I’m so sorry! I would have called, but I thought you’d be asleep. You could have called my cell phone.”
“I didn’t want to interrupt if there was something going on, so I just decided to wait.”
“I feel so bad – we’ve been all over the place, but we were talking about something very important.”
“Eric, did you meet Niall tonight?” Gran wanted information more than anything, which is why she had stayed up. If they’d gone straight into Sookie’s room, she planned to knock on the door.
“Yes, Mrs. Stackhouse, he came to my office at Fangtasia.”
“Alright, now you and Sookie sit down and tell me what’s going on. I know that if he is involved, there’s something big happening, and Fintan always told me not to trust him.”
Eric nodded as he took a seat opposite Adele. Sookie sat between. “That’s good advice,” Eric began. “He had news for me tonight and he wanted to tell me himself so I would believe it to be true. He asked that I not tell Sookie yet, but I felt it would not be appropriate to keep such a thing from her.”
“Whatever it is, I want to know right now.” Gran was adamant. “We’re family now, and I won’t have secrets. We need to be on the same page so we can stand up for each other.”
Eric looked at Sookie, who reached out and held Adele’s hand. “Gran, remember when we were talking and I started to say something about having kids and you said you hoped I had thought things through?”
“Yes.” Adele’s expression suddenly changed to disbelief mixed with hope. “Sookie, are you pregnant?”
“Yes, Gran, I am.”
“Niall did this?”
“Yes,” Eric continued. “He told me himself so I would not think Sookie had been unfaithful.”
Gran nodded, “Fae magick.”
“Yes,” Eric said.
“I knew he was a powerful magician, but I didn’t know he could make a vampire fertile.” Gran was mighty impressed.
“I had thought it only a rumor, but as it turns out, my mother was Fae.”
“Eric! You didn’t tell me!” Sookie was shocked. Again.
“I meant to, Sookie, we were just occupied with other things. It’s such a small part of the equation…”
“That might make it easier, I suppose,” Adele said.
“Gran – how did you know?”
“I saw you get off the mower today and I thought to myself that if you were dating a human man, I’d think you were pregnant. As I was racking my brain, trying to figure out why Niall would take a sudden interest, I wondered if it wasn’t about a baby in some way. I was hoping he wasn’t going to tell you that you couldn’t be together because Sookie had to have a baby. This is a much better situation than I was afraid of.”
“Yes, I’m very pleased with the turn of events,” Eric smiled.
“This baby – will it be unusual?” Gran was a little apprehensive about that part of it.
“It will be a boy who looks like Eric! Isn’t that wonderful!” Sookie could let it out now that the cat was out of the proverbial bag. The more she thought about it, the more excited she became. This was AWESOME!
Eric smiled lovingly at her and continued, “he will be a hybrid of some sort. He will need a Supe doctor, the finest of whom has already been retained. Have no fear – I will see that Sookie has the finest care available, and everything she could possibly need.”
“Well, that’s a relief. Have you thought about a wedding? You have plenty of time, don’t you?” Adele asked.
“Well, it’s really early in the pregnancy…” Sookie said as she looked over the cookies and picked one that seemed bigger than the others.
“They aren’t sure how long the pregnancy will last, however,” Eric told them, “Fae only gestate for five and a half to six months. Vampire blood has healing properties and they want Sookie to drink from me regularly for the baby’s growth. It might be much sooner than a human child.”
“Wow – you mean I might only have, like, 22 weeks?” Sookie hadn’t known that part of it.
“That’s going to be a bit sticky,” Adele said unhappily. “People will think Sookie was pregnant before she met you. I don’t want people thinking ill of her.”
“Most people won’t know the particulars, Gran, especially if I’m not working at Merlotte’s.”
“Speaking of which, did you quit your job?” Gran got back to her original question.
“Not exactly. Sam said he didn’t want me to wear my engagement ring in there because of insurance or something and Eric showed up and asked me to quit and while we were talking about it, Sam brought my keys and phone and stuff out to me and told me to think about whether I really wanted to work there anymore. He said I’ve already moved on.”
“Well, he’s right about that,” Adele agreed.
“Yes, Sookie, especially now that you are pregnant. You can’t be on your feet like that and you could buy and sell Sam Merlotte with that ring. You’re going to be a mother now so your place is with Eric, taking care of your child.”
Eric nodded in agreement.
“So you’re not mad, Gran?”
“No, darlin,’ I’m not mad. This has all been very sudden, but we are where we are and we need to make that baby our priority. That comes before everything now. Every one of us needs to make up our minds to do what is best for that child.” Gran was pounding the table with her forefinger for emphasis.
“I agree,” Eric said emphatically.
“Now, Mr. Brigant will be here for dinner at 6 PM. What did you two have planned?”
“I feel I should be here as early as possible with Sookie, so I was going to shelter in a closet here today, if you don’t mind.”
“That’s fine. You might want to use the closet in the guest room across from Sookie – it’s big enough to lie down in and we’ll close the door and make sure you aren’t disturbed. I assume Sookie will go home with you after we meet with Mr. Brigant?”
“If you don’t mind…” Eric wanted to be sure she was alright with that because he did respect her and he knew if she was upset, then Sookie would be, too.
“I think we all need to think about Sookie moving in with you. Your house is probably safer and more comfortable and she’ll need to be around you as much as she can while she’s with child.”
“Yes, I agree, but I’d like you to think about living with us, too,” Eric told her.
“What?” Adele had never even considered that a possibility.
“We have plenty of room – there are four unused bedrooms at my house. The entire second and fourth floors are empty. Sookie will need you around to help her as the pregnancy develops.”
“Oh, I couldn’t intrude. You’re a young couple, you’ll want time together…”
“We are a couple with a lot of time to look forward to and you are important to Sookie. You will be important to my son, too, I am sure of it. We would be honored if you would stay with us.”
“How about this. You two have some time alone together now, and when Sookie gets further along, I’ll come visit a few nights a week.”
“Whatever you want to do is fine. You are always welcome in our home,” Eric said with great sincerity. He considered having an elder woman in the family a great advantage for Sookie. He knew that would be a wonderful thing for a young mother to have such experience and love available to her. Margaret would provide good support, too and he had a plan to arrange for more as they progressed. “While we are on the subject, I’d like your permission to have my day man make arrangements to pay your bills and your taxes so you needn’t worry about anything. I’ll be setting up accounts for Sookie now that we are to be wed, and I’d like to see that you have a regular income for whatever you want.”
“Oh, I couldn’t…”
“Gran, please let him? I won’t have to worry about you so much if I know everything is taken care of. You could keep your whole check just for you, plus the gas leases…”
“Well, I don’t know…”
“Mrs. Stackhouse, I would consider it a part of caring for Sookie to see to your needs. In the grand scheme of things, it’s such an easy thing for me to do. You’ve worked hard to care for Sookie. Let me thank you by doing what I can to care for you. It will take pressure off of you both.”
It wouldn’t take much for Sookie to cry right now – Eric was being so sweet!
“Well, we’ll see how it goes.”
Sookie looked at Eric with a furrowed brow and gave him a nod, telling him that was a close to a ‘yes’ as he’d ever get. Eric would call Bobby Burnham before he went to sleep and arrange for someone to manage Adele’s affairs for her so she never had to write out another check to pay a bill. He already had him doing the research to be able to do that. All he needed was the green light and as far as Eric was concerned, this was it.
“Alright, now, I’m going to try to get some sleep. Sookie do you need to get up early for anything?”
“No, I don’t need to go shopping now. I got a new dress at Wal-Mart.”
“Alright, then, I want you to sleep as late as you can and I’ll fix you a good breakfast when you wake up. Drink a glass of milk before you go to bed, and get in the habit of doing that so the baby will have good bones. I’ll go up put fresh linens out on the bed in the guest room and you can make Eric a comfortable spot to spend the day, then during the day we’ll lock the door to the room. No one’s ever in there, anyway, but just to be safe, we’ll keep it closed and dark. Have a good night, you two.”
“Good night, Mrs. Stackhouse.”
Eric went to the refrigerator and took out a carton of milk, looking through the cupboards for glasses. He poured a glass of milk and sniffed it. “Hmm – I’m not sure of the quality of this milk, Sookie. I think we need to make sure you have organic milk available to you.”
Sookie laughed. “You know about organic foods?”
“I did some research on the Internet and read that commercially-produced products are often impure and contain pesticides and hormones. I’ll see to it that you have the best quality foods. I’ll let Margaret know that you are expecting so she can shop accordingly.”
“How is Margaret going to feel about having a baby vampire or fairy or whatever running around the house.”
“She will love it! Who would not love such a special child?” He said with such an air of incredulity that Sookie had to laugh at him.
“Laugh if you want, my sweet bonded, but my son will have the finest of everything,” he said with great pride and finality, but a bit of humor, too.
“This “my son” thing is going to get out of hand – I can see it already.”
“Would you expect anything less from the father of a unique child?” He handed her the glass as he sat down.
“No, I guess not. You think Niall will be angry that I already know?”
“I don’t care. If he wants that baby to be hale and hearty, it’s best that you know now. I can’t imagine letting you walk around unaware. I suspect he did not think it through. He knows little of human culture and environmental hazards, I think. He knows much about magick, but is not that familiar with the human world. I am the child’s father, so I will be the final arbiter of what is appropriate for him.”
“Along with me, right?”
“Yes, of course, Sookie. You are his mother. We are partners.”
“OK, I just wanted to get that clear right up front,” she laughed.
He leaned over and kissed her. Once he heard her grandmother close her bedroom door, he picked Sookie up and flew up the stairs with her, making her giggle. They had sex very quietly since Gran knew Eric was here, then she made a bed for him in the guest closet with a colorful Dutch girl quilt for a base. She spread a white top sheet with tiny lavender flowers over it and he said he didn’t need a blanket, so they went back to her room. He stayed with her until sun-up, then closed himself in the room, and the closet within.
It was 2:16 in the afternoon before Sookie woke up and she was starving. When she went downstairs, Gran had everything ready to make her favorite – waffles! She had even been to the store to get dinner for Niall and she bought fresh blueberries and whipped cream for the top!
She put a glass of orange juice in front of Sookie, which only stayed down about ten minutes, but after she got sick and came back, she did manage to eat enough waffles to feed a family of four.
“Sookie, Honey, do you want some more waffles?”
“No, I think I’m finally done. I can’t believe I ate all of that!”
“You’re eating for two, so you’ll be eating a lot now. Just relax and enjoy it while you can. Can you drink another glass of milk?”
“Yeah, if I drink it slowly.”
“Alright. I bought whole milk because that skim stuff is not enough for the baby.”
“Eric said he wants me to start drinking organic milk,” Sookie laughed.
“Where in the world would you buy something like that?” Gran laughed.
“They have it at Wal-Mart. He’ll have Margaret find it somewhere, I’m sure.
“Is your dress ready for tonight?”
“I haven’t even had a chance to look at it. It’s still in the bag somewhere.”
“Oh, I think I put it in the laundry room.” Gran went out to the screened in porch and came back with the lavender flowered dress. “This is sweet, Sookie. Did you try it on?”
“Why don’t you do that now, and I’ll iron it while you take your bath. I’ll have to start dinner in a couple of hours.
“Yeah, it’s getting late. I wonder why he wanted to come so early?”
“I have an idea it’s so Eric couldn’t be here for all of it.”
“Yes, I do. I think he’ll let you know what he thinks of Eric while he has a chance. Fintan said he’s not one to spare anyone’s feelings, so be prepared for that.”
“So far, he doesn’t sound very nice.”
“He was very polite when he was here, but he was very definite about what he wanted and what he expected. He wanted seafood for dinner so we’re having catfish.”
“I don’t know that I’d choose fish for a pregnant woman. I hope you can keep it down. If you can’t, I got some other things you can have.”
“I can always just eat Pop Tarts.”
“No, you can’t. You need at least three good meals a day. If you can’t eat fish, I’ll make you a little cube steak. If you need a snack, you think apples and peanut butter. You need good proteins for the baby.”
“Yeah, you’re right.”
“Speaking of which, I want to talk to whoever makes your meals at Eric’s house. I want to be sure you’re eating properly.”
“Hey, why don’t you go with us tonight, talk to Margaret tomorrow and I’ll drive you home after?”
“Let me think about that. A phone call would probably be all we really need, but I must admit, I’d like to know where you’re staying.”
“Think about it, Gran. After you talk to Margaret, we could go to lunch and go shopping and then I’d bring you home and probably be back to Shreveport before Eric wakes up.”
“Are you sure I wouldn’t be in the way there?”
“Want me to call Margaret and ask?”
“Yes, I do. Make sure that there’s a bedroom and it won’t be any trouble and if she says they can handle it, I’ll go.”
“I’ll go get my phone – her number is in there.” Sookie headed up to her room while Gran cleaned off the waffle iron and put the butter and syrup away.
She came back down and called Margaret’s cell.
“Yes, Margaret! How are you?”
“Very well, Miss. I hear you have some good news for us!”
“Did Eric tell you?”
“Yes, he did, and we’re all very excited.”
“Oh, that’s so nice. The reason I’m calling is, my grandmother wants to see the house and I wanted to see if it would be any trouble if she came back with us tonight and stayed over?”
“Oh, that would be very nice. I imagine she’d like to see where you’ll be living.”
“Yeah, exactly. Is there a room available? I know they were working on the second floor…”
“Oh, they’ve finished all but the one room, and we can just close that door. There’s a very nice room all set up and it looks very comfortable. We’d be very pleased to have her and I’m sure she’ll be very impressed with your new home.”
“Oh, good, then I guess she’ll be coming, too and I’ll probably bring her back here tomorrow. She wants a chance to talk to you about my diet, if that’s OK?”
“Oh, yes, that will be fine. I can give her the list the doctor faxed to us this morning.”
“The doctor faxed you a list?”
“Yes, apparently Mr. Northman asked her to give us some instruction for your diet. I’ll have a copy ready for her and one you can carry in your purse in case you want to eat out some time.”
“Oh, great. I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, then?”
“Oh, I’ll be here tonight when you arrive. We’ll look forward to seeing you.”
“Thanks so much. Goodbye!”
“What did she say about the doctor, Sookie?”
“Eric had her fax a list of what I’m supposed to eat to the house. Margaret will have copies for us and she’s happy to go through things with you.”
“Oh, that was smart.”
“Yeah, he’s good like that,” Sookie laughed. “Margaret will be there tonight, so you’ll get to meet her. I can’t wait for you to see the house. She said all but one room is finished. I’m guessing they finished the dining and living room, too, because there wasn’t that much to do.”
“I’m amazed he was able to get all that done so quickly?”
“He says if you’ve got enough money, you can get things done quickly. He doesn’t mind paying a little extra to get things done when he wants them.”
“Is he very extravagant?”
“Well, by our standards, I guess, but he says he has more money than I can imagine so it’s not extravagant for him.”
“Well, I’m glad to know you’ll be comfortable.”
“We’ll be comfortable, Gran. He includes you in things because you’re so important to me.”
Gran smiled, “he’s a very nice man,” she said as she wiped down the counter by the stove.
“He would say he’s a practical man. He knows keeping you happy will keep me happy,” she laughed.
“Good thing he’s so smart. He seems very happy about the baby, too.”
“Yeah, he was right from the first. He said he never dared dream he’d have a son, but I guess deep down he really wanted one.”
“Naturally, he did. Alright, I’ll get the ironing board and you try on your dress.”
“Thanks, Gran. Be right back!” She took the blue dress with the small lavender flowers up to her room and put it on. It fit pretty well, though it could have used a little dart in the bust area, so she went down to show Adele. “OK, what do you think?”
“I think it gapes a little at the arms. Let me see this.” Gran tried folding small darts to make it lie flat and thought it looked much better, so she got her sewing basket and pinned it the way it looked best. “Alright, Honey, be careful taking it off so you don’t get stuck. Actually wait – let me help you. Raise your arms.” Gran helped Sookie ease the dress up over her head and the two of them managed to get it off of her without getting hurt or losing the pins. “Alright, take your shower and I’ll get this fixed up.”
“Thanks for doing that, Gran. I’m going to soak in the tub a little bit,” Sookie headed up the steps quickly because she was in her bra and panties.
“Alright, but not too hot,” Gran called after her, “You have to be moderate with baths and such for the baby.”
“I never thought of that. Ok, not too hot.”
Adele went to work on the dress and Sookie gathered her bath items, including a new fashion magazine that came in the mail. She didn’t know why she read these things, because they always made her feel fat, but she loved seeing all the clothes and makeup. She carefully put her engagement ring in the box until it was time to get dressed, ran her bath and relaxed into the water with her magazine. She wondered if there were magazines for pregnant women, but she couldn’t remember ever seeing one, though she knew there were lots of books about pregnancy. She made a note to try to find a bookstore while they were out tomorrow so she could get one. It would be nice to have an idea what was going on.
Sookie shaved her legs, then opened the drain and stood up under the shower to wash her hair. She used a special shampoo for blonde hair she used once in a while that made it appear even brighter than usual and she spent extra time doing a really good blow out, putting a few huge Velcro rollers in it while she got dressed. She spent extra time on her make-up, too, so she was just getting done with her lipgloss when Gran brought her dress to her. Adele helped her slip it over the rollers, and they were both much happier with the way it fit her figure.
Sookie threw her curlers back in the pink flowered hatbox she kept hair stuff in, bent over and brushed her hair out, the sprayed it as she straightened up. She thought she looked extra pretty, and couldn’t wait for Eric to see her. She wasn’t that concerned about Niall, though she did hope he would like her. She figured now that she knew about the baby, that sort of stole his thunder. Meeting him was really only a formality, right? She put on her favorite white sandals that had just a little heel and she as ready. Next she filled her tote bag, which was already half full, with the remaining things she needed to take home with her. She laughed to herself that she already thought of it as ‘home.’ How cool was that?
She stepped out into the hallway, stopping to put her hand on the guest room door and focus on Eric in the bond. Even having him in the house asleep was comforting.
She bounced down the stairs, happy and relaxed, and helped Gran by setting the table and making a salad. She bagged the rest of the salad stuff up to take to Eric’s house.
At 5:23, Sookie started to get nervous. She didn’t know why, but suddenly she had a feeling of dread. At 5:46 she threw up. Great. She brushed her teeth, gargled, checked her hair and fixed her lipgloss and by that time there was a knock at the door.
Adele had put on a very pretty blue dress she usually wore to church and she had her hair up with her best Honora pearls around her neck as she answered the door.
“Hello, my dear,” Niall greeted her with a smile.
“Please, call me Niall.”
“Alright, won’t you come in, Niall?”
Sookie was standing at the top of the stairs, frozen. If she had her “druthers” she’d rather go in the closet with Eric and stay until he got up.
“Sookie, Honey, our guest is here.”
‘OK,’ she told herself, ‘put a smile on your face and go meet Grandpa.’
Sookie came down the stairs and Niall, who was sitting next to the fireplace again, stood as she entered the room.
“Sookie, my dear, how lovely you are. You’ve become a very pretty woman!” He walked over to her and kissed her on the cheek.
He didn’t look anything like Sookie had pictured him. He was thin and had amazing long silver hair. He had some kind of something – is that what they call an “aura?” – around him and everything about him seemed to say magick. He was simply beautiful!
“Hi…uh, what should I call you?”
“Whatever makes you comfortable, dear. Grandpa is fine, or Niall.”
“I like Grandpa,” she smiled apologetically.
“Then Grandpa it is.” Niall was very pleased with that. “I take it the vampire told you the news?”
“Uh, yeah, I hope you aren’t angry. I was talking about taking medicine because I thought I had the flu and he sort of had to…”
“That’s fine. There was no real reason not to tell you. I was more interested in seeing if he would keep a secret from you. I’m very pleased he could not. Let’s sit on the couch for a moment,” He directed Sookie around and sat next to her, taking her hand in his. Adele excused herself to check on dinner, and Niall continued, “Are you happy, my dear?”
“I’ve never been happier. Meeting Eric has been like a dream come true and getting to be with him AND have a baby – I just can’t imagine life being any better.”
“I’m very glad to hear it. If, however, you ever decide you want to get away from him, you say the word and I will kill him.”
“NO! I would never want that!”
“Well, it’s early in the relationship, and we have a long way to go. Just know that escape is always possible and I’ll see that you and the baby inherit everything he owns.”
“I really don’t want to talk about this. I LOVE Eric and I’d never want to lose him, especially now that we’re having a baby!”
“Are you happy about the child? It’s not too late to…”
“Don’t even SAY that!” Sookie was adamant about this. “I don’t even want to hear the words. I want this baby more than anything.”
“Alright, Dearest, don’t be alarmed. I just needed to let you know that you always have options. I knew you would refuse. Truth be told, many people are counting on that little one. He has a destiny to fulfill and he needs you and Northman both to learn all he needs to know.”
“He can learn to be a vampire or a warrior from Eric – is that what you mean?”
“Yes, but you will also teach him magick.”
“I don’t know anything about magick!”
“All in good time, Dearest. Let’s get you married and settled into your new home, then we’ll go from there. Have you ever heard the expression, “when the student is ready, the teacher appears?””
“Remember it. I believe your grandmother has dinner ready.” Niall stood, still holding Sookie’s hand and motioned for her to go into the kitchen. Sookie was brimming with questions, and Niall answered most of them, though he only told her what he wanted her to know.
“Where do you live, Grandpa?”
“It has many names, but my favorite has always been Elfyria.”
“Are there different kinds of Fae?”
“Oh, yes, many, many kinds, but you have plenty of time to learn about our people. Focus on the baby right now and your new relationship. It will be a long, long time before you need to worry about the rest of your Kith.”
“What’s a Kith?”
“Like a family, but much bigger and more inclusive. Ours is the oldest in our realm, my child, and the most powerful, but you needn’t concern yourself with that just yet.”
“Just yet? Implying she WILL need to concern herself with it at some point?” Eric asked from the doorway.
“Vampire – so nice to see you. I believe we were about to have dessert?”
“Yes,” Adele said, “I’ve baked pecan pie.”
“Wonderful! I can’t wait to try it, my dear.” His tone was more stern when he spoke to Eric, “have a seat, Northman, we’re all just getting acquainted.”
Sookie popped up and kissed Eric, prompting a scowl from Niall that did not escape Eric’s notice. Eric would later conclude that Niall was not participating in whatever this was voluntarily. He would always need to watch his back where Niall was concerned, though that would be true of any fairy.
Eric sat opposite Niall, next to Sookie, and Adele brought him a warm blood while the others dug into their pie. Niall didn’t stay long after Eric woke up. He gave Sookie his card and told her to call anytime she wanted, then bid them all a good night, giving Sookie another kiss on the cheek as he left. As soon as he was gone, Eric grabbed Sookie and kissed her, then buried his nose in her neck. Adele made herself scarce in the kitchen, not wanting to intrude.
“Eric, what’s come over you?” Sookie said, a little surprised and embarrassed.
“Fairy!” He showed no sign of letting her go, sniffing, kissing and nuzzling her almost like he was getting ready to take a bite out of her, a low growl rumbling in his chest.
“Is this part of that vampire getting high from fairy blood thing.”
“Yes. You smell so sweet, I never want to let you go.”
“You will, though, in a minute, right?”
He tried to pull away. “I guess I’ll have to – I’m being rude to your grandmother.”
“Speaking of Gran, she’s going to go home with us tonight and then I’ll bring her back here tomorrow, if that’s OK?”
He snapped out of it a bit. “Yes, that’s a very good idea. I’m sure she’s anxious to see your new home.”
“Yes, and she wants to meet Margaret so she knows I’m eating properly.”
“Do you know – did the doctor send over the diet I requested?”
“Yes, she did. Let me help Gran clean up the kitchen and we’ll go, OK?”
“Of course. Actually, your car only has two seats, you know…”
“Oh, that’s right!”
“How about if I go now and the two of you drive the car?”
“Good idea! We’ll be there in a little bit.”
“Good. That will give me time to get home and tend to some business.” He went to the kitchen. “Mrs. Stackhouse? I will be leaving and you and Sookie will follow in her car. Is there anything you need me to help with before I go?”
“Oh, no, thank you, Eric, it will just take us a few minutes and then we’ll be right behind you.”
“Wonderful. I’ll be waiting for you both,” he gave her a big smile, gave Sookie a big, backward-bending kiss, and left. If he didn’t get the fairy scent out of his nose, he was really going to embarrass Sookie in front of her grandmother.
Sookie and Gran finished up while Sookie took their bags out to the car and after Gran locked up, she helped her into the passenger seat. In less than half an hour, they were on their way to Eric’s house. Adele was a little nervous, but she was excited, too, because of the way Sookie had bragged about the house. The intimacy of the car led them to have a heart to heart talk about vampires, fairies, marriage and babies. For the moment, they were just very glad to be together.
Margaret was still at the house when Eric arrived and she had some messages and some questions about things that would be needed.
“Good evening, Sir!”
“Margaret! Thank you for staying!”
“It’s my pleasure, Mr. Northman, I’ll get to see Miss Sookie and her Grandmother this way. I had a couple of things I wanted to discuss with you, if you don’t mind?”
“Of course, what did you want to talk about?”
“I was speaking to a woman I know recently named Alicia Evans. She’s a very experienced Ladies’ Maid. Do you know what that is?”
“Yes, it’s a maid that tends to a lady’s wardrobe and other needs. You know her well?”
“Yes, we worked together for a while a few years ago. She’s quite skilled. I was thinking, since you were concerned about what Miss Sookie had to wear to that cocktail party you spoke of, maybe you’d want to consider hiring her away from her current position for Miss Sookie.”
Eric considered that and nodded. “That’s an interesting idea. What exactly would she do?”
“Well, she could help fill in Miss Sookie’s wardrobe so she always had what she needed to wear for various activities. She’d see that her laundry was done, help her dress appropriately, do her hair and make-up on special occasions, keep her personal items in order, and over-see anything else the Lady of the house might need to do. She’s well-versed in etiquette and even has clerical skills that might come in handy.”
“Would she answer to you?”
“A ladies’ maid traditionally only answers to the lady of the house. She’d be over me, and I’d continue to administer the rest of the household staff. I just think it might help Miss Sookie adapt if she had someone who can give her pointers and help her know what to expect and what is required for different occasions.”
“Yes, that’s a very good idea. I trust that you would not recommend her if she were not very good at what she does…”
“She’s the best I’ve ever known. She could make a fortune in New York or LA, but her children are in Louisiana, so she prefers to stay close enough to visit several times a year. She’s a very nice woman, warm, sophisticated, and I called her today and we talked about the baby. She hasn’t been happy in her current position in quite a while, and I know she’d jump at this job if you offered it.”
“She knows I am vampire?”
“Yes, and she has no problem with that. I described Miss Sookie and what I thought she might need and she’s very open to the whole idea.”
“What kind of salary would she require?”
“I’d offer her $150,000 a year plus bonuses. She’d be able to start immediately.”
“Alright, Margaret, hire her to start on Monday, if possible, so she can help Sookie prepare for the party next weekend. That’s a very important occasion and I don’t want her to feel overwhelmed getting ready for it.”
“Very good, sir. She’ll be here 7 am Monday and we’ll work out our schedule.”
“Thank you, Margaret. I’m sure Sookie will need help as she adapts to her new roles. This is an excellent idea. You know that she and Mrs. Stackhouse are on their way, yes?”
“Yes, I do. I have the blue bedroom across from the kitchenette all ready for her.”
“Wonderful. I’ll be in my office if you need anything else. I’ll be down when they arrive.”
“Very good, sir. I’ll call Alicia now.”
Eric was nodding to himself as he ascended the stairs. This really was an excellent idea. Sookie might or might not like the idea, but he was sure that once she had a few occasions where Alicia helped her in ways she couldn’t anticipate, she’d understand what an asset such a servant could be. He went into his office in a good mood, anticipating having his “whole family” under roof for the first time. He hadn’t had a family in a millennium and the feeling was overwhelming. His thoughts darkened a little as they turned to the Queen’s Dark Moon party. He wanted Sookie to be dazzling that night, for her own sake as well as his. Sophie Ann was going to receive several surprises from their new union, and if she liked Sookie, it would all be a bit more palatable.
He answered email and snail mail and left some instructions for Bobby Burnham concerning the hiring of Alicia and the payments for the Stackhouse residence. He added that, since they were at it, he thought Mrs. Stackhouse could use a new Chevy Equinox to replace her old station wagon. He also needed appointments with his accountant and his attorney about the fact that he was getting married and having a child. He asked that Burnham explore what kind of vehicle he might get for Sookie that he would consider safe enough to carry his son, which included being bulletproof. Eric knew he had enemies and, while he couldn’t have Sookie guarded every minute of the day, that was at least an extra measure of security she could have if she were out driving with his son in the car.
He wound up on the Internet again, reading about pregnancy, when he found a site called “What to Expect” for expectant mothers. There was a book, which he ordered from Amazon, to accompany the website, which he thought Sookie would enjoy. It occurred to him that to access it, she’d need a computer, so he ordered a MacBook Pro for her, too. He was very excited when he heard them turn into the driveway and went tearing through the house to welcome them. Margaret just beamed and laughed at him as he stood on the landing in the garage, waiting for them to pull in.
Sookie was so excited to be back that she was about to bust and Gran knew it. Sookie was actually tearing up a bit. It was obvious that she loved it here. Gran didn’t blame her based on what she saw driving up to the place. It was much grander than she had imagined. As soon as she had the car stopped, Sookie popped out and was in Eric’s arms as he said “you are here!”
“Yes, we are!” she giggled and kissed him, then he quickly went around to help Adele out of the car. Once she was on her way into the house, Eric took their bags out of the trunk and followed them in. Adele was stunned when she saw the huge, modern kitchen.
“Isn’t it nice?” Sookie asked. “Most of it is new. Eric, you want to give us the tour?”
“Why don’t you do it, Sweetheart and I’ll follow to help you fill in.”
“OK, well, first, Adele Stackhouse, I’d like you to meet Margaret…”
“Murphy,” Margaret shook hands with Adele. “Welcome, Mrs. Stackhouse! If you need or want anything at all, you just let me know and I’ll be happy to take care of it.”
“Oh, thank you!” Adele was a little flustered. Knowing Eric had a maid was one thing, but meeting her face to face was… something. She didn’t know a word for it. Not exciting, exactly, but sort of.
Sookie led her in through the den, showing her the huge entertainment center, then they went into the dining room which had just been finished. “Oh, it looks so good in here!” Sookie was jumping up and down when she saw it.
“Did she do it to your specifications, Sweetheart?” Eric wanted her to be pleased.
“Yes! Oh, and look at the china! And the painting over the fireplace! It’s wonderful! She did such a good job!”
“It’s just lovely, Eric, just lovely!” Adele was almost as excited as Sookie.
“OK, the living room is through here.” Sookie directed, and they moved in there. “It’s even better now! I love these new chairs!” she jumped over to two rose velvet upholstered chairs in front of the windows facing the couch. She ran her hands over them, “oh they’re so soft and they match everything else so well!”
“Oh, my!” Adele thought this was one of the prettiest rooms she had ever seen.
“This is Eric’s downstairs office, where he meets with accountants and attorneys. See his library is in here, too, though there are books all through the house. Oh, the stairs…”
“Let’s go back through the kitchen and take the elevator,” Eric suggested.
“There’s an elevator?” Sookie asked
“Yes, it’s a service elevator, but Mrs. Stackhouse will want to use it, I’m sure. Come this way.” They filed back through the kitchen and into the pantry and Eric showed them how to call it. It was right there, so it opened immediately and they took it to the second floor. “Right this way, Ladies,” Eric led them out of the corner bedroom and into the hallway. “That’s the linen closet, that’s the bathroom. Mrs. Stackhouse, this will be your room,” he pointed to the room closest to the stairs, across from the kitchenette.
“Oh, the kitchenette is done!” Sookie loved the way it looked.
“Yes, they finished it Wednesday. It’s fully stocked. Take a minute and look around. Mrs. Stackhouse, I’ll just put your bag on the bed,” he smiled at her and took the bag into the blue room. Sookie and Adele looked around the kitchenette, seeing all the good foods in the fridge and the cupboard. Sookie cracked up, “look, they got me Pop Tarts!”
“They seem to have quite a few of your favorites here, Sookie,” Gran was really, really impressed.
“Yeah, Margaret has that list I made for her. There’s even a little table and chairs here!”
“This is just lovely. This will be very nice if you have guests staying on this floor.”
“Yes, if anyone needs anything in the night, there are many selections for them,” Eric was proud they’d done such a good job. “Shall we continue?” They walked back to the elevator and Eric took them to the fourth floor. “This is the fourth floor. We’ll go back down to the third floor in a minute. Here is the sauna, the bathroom, the guest room and the meditation room, and down here is my gym.” They followed Eric along the hall, both of them just amazed at how nice it was up here. They walked into the gym and the first thing Gran noticed was the swords on the wall at the right end.
“Oh, my! You know how to use a sword?”
“Yes, I am quite skilled with them. I practice a great deal.”
“Oh, that’s interesting.” Adele didn’t say it out loud, but she thought she remembered Fintan telling her that Supes often used swords when they were at war with each other. She didn’t want to know how or why Eric was so skilled with them.
Eric led them back out to the elevator and took them down to the third floor. “This room is only used for storage, so it’s a little messy,” he said apologetically as they stepped out, but Adele thought to herself it was the neatest “junk room” she had ever seen. It was bright, orderly and spotless.
“This is my real office. Anything important pertaining to any of my businesses is in here, Sookie, so at some point you should look around and familiarize yourself with it.”
“Yes, they will be your businesses, too, when we are married. As far as I’m concerned, they were the minute we bonded, but the law will take a few meetings and filings to catch up with us,” he laughed. “This is our bedroom. Sookie, if there’s anything you don’t like here, you should tell Giselle about it. You can make any changes you like, you know.” Eric walked in and put Sookie’s bag on one of the chairs by the window.
“I like it fine. Like you said, it’s restful. Gran, look at the size of the bed.”
“I’ve never seen a bed that size before.”
“Yeah, me, either! It’s a California King.”
“Yes, I tend to hang off the end of the normal-sized ones,” Eric laughed. He knew Adele was a little uncomfortable, so he led them back down. “If you come right down these steps,” they followed him, ” you see, you are right back at your bedroom. If you’d rather stay on the fourth floor, though…”
“Oh, no, this is beautiful.”
“I hope you like it. This room has it’s own full bath in it, too.” Eric indicated the door at the back of the room and Sookie opened it.
“Look, Gran, you don’t even have to go out in the hall if you don’t want to.”
“Well, it looks very comfortable. I hope you don’t mind, but it’s getting rather late…”
“Oh, you want to go to bed, Gran? You go right ahead and get comfortable, and you can wake me up when you get up tomorrow, OK?”
“I’ll go to ground at sun-up, so Sookie will be alone,” he wanted her to know she could go upstairs in the morning without intruding.
“Or, if you get up really early, Margaret will make breakfast for you, right, Eric?”
“Yes, just go on down and tell her what you want. She’s more than happy to do it. Please, make yourself at home and help yourself to anything you want. I’ll go up now, Sookie, you can come up whenever you’re done. Good night.”
“Good night, Eric,” Adele said.
Eric went back up the stairs in case Sookie needed to talk to her before she said good night.
“Well, Gran, you’ve seen the whole place. What do you think?”
“It’s just wonderful, Sookie, I’m very happy for you.”
“And you’re OK with everything…” Sookie knew the idea of her sleeping with Eric was hard to deal with for her.
“This is all very new, Honey, but I’m handling it. You go on to bed, and I’ll see you in the morning.”
“OK, good night, Gran!” Sookie gave her a hug and a kiss and Adele closed the door behind her, She just wasn’t going to think about what Sookie would be doing. She was going to take her medicine, and go to sleep, which turned out to be much easier than she expected in that big, comfortable bed.
“Hey, Sweetie!” Sookie said as she came into the room.
“Hey, that was very quick?” He had his boots off and was stripping off his red silk shirt, his leather blazer already on a velvet hanger.
“Yeah, she really likes the house, but she was tired, so I just gave her a hug and a kiss and let her go to bed. She’s trying not to think about us sleeping together, you know…” Sookie was bobbing her head and crinkling her nose to show it was understandable and unavoidable. He took the hem of her dress and pulled it over her head, then she headed for her bag over on the chair with it.
“I’m sure that will always be the case, but it will be more acute until we are married, I’m afraid.” He kicked his jeans off as she took off her bra and dropped her panties.
“Yeah, so, have you thought about that?”
“Yes, I have. I think it should be very soon.” He turned down the bed and slid in, throwing the covers back for her.
“You do?” She got in and slid toward him instantly.
“Yes – unless you do not want that?”
“No, I’d like to do it before I’m showing if we could.”
She patted her tummy. “The baby – I’m going to get fat, you know.”
“You are going to get ripe, and I will be more in love with you than ever. I love pregnant women.”
“True, I guess, but I never thought of a vampire liking pregnant women.”
“The hormonal changes make them very enticing,” he laughed and nuzzled her neck, making her giggle.
“So you’re going to be a happy vamp, huh?”
“My dear, I am already the happiest vampire walking,” he said and gave her a huge, long, breath-taking kiss.
“Mmmm…” she laughed as he rolled her on her back and kissed her neck, then worked his way down to her breasts. If she only knew how sweet she smelled, tasted, sounded. The only thing that would ever come close to being with her this way was seeing the envy of other vampires when he showed her off. He settled in between her legs and thought he would die of the sweetness.
Sookie didn’t want to be loud, but there was no being silent when he did this. She was writhing involuntarily as he licked her, so she reached up and grabbed the headboard to brace herself. He hooked her knees over his shoulders and held her, pushing her until she came on his tongue. Sookie’s entire body arched from her hold on the headboard and she had something akin to a small seizure that peaked in her skull.
As soon as she collapsed, Eric was over her and in her, and she wasn’t aware that she was digging her nails into his back. He was moving so fast she couldn’t even rise to meet his thrusts, he just hammered home until he reached a hard, slamming release. Sookie was glad she had let go of the headboard because it actually hit the wall. After he came, he continued to move slowly, pressing his torn wrist to Sookie’s mouth, bringing Sookie along to a soft, but deep, second release. When she relaxed, Eric moved slowly back down and rested his forehead on her lower tummy, and she knew he was thinking about the baby.
“Yep, that’s where he is,” she laughed breathlessly.
“I know.” He looked up at her, leaning to the side on his elbow, stretching his big hand over her womb. “I can’t… it’s so amazing, Sookie, I almost can’t process it. My son is in there, growing, getting bigger and stronger.”
Sookie just smiled and stroked his hair.
“He’s going to be amazing, you know?” He told her as he stayed focused on her tummy.
“Of course, he is! There won’t be anyone like him.”
“He’s going to be King.”
“Oh, he is, huh?” She teased him.
“Seriously – I saw him as King. He’s going to look very much like me, and he’s going to be King.”
“Is that good?”
“Yes, it’s very good. Wait until you see him, Sookie, he’s going to be magnificent,” Eric said with a mixture of awe and excitement and determination. “Not to change the subject, but I have something I have to tell you.” He crawled back into his spot and put his arm under her head.
“Good or bad?”
“Good, I hope. I hired another servant who will start on Monday.”
“What’s he going to do for you?”
“It’s more what she is going to do for you.”
“Yes. She’s a ladies’ maid.”
“She’ll be a sort of assistant for you. She’ll see that your wardrobe is clean and in good repair, and that you have everything you need for your various activities. She’ll help you dress and do your hair and makeup on important occasions and she’ll be able to advise you on the many things the lady of the house might need to handle.”
“You’re joking, right?” She looked up at him with disbelief.
“No, I’m not joking. Margaret says she’s the best available. She even has some clerical skills that might be useful to you at times.”
“Eric, that seems excessive, don’t you think?” She didn’t know whether to worry about the expense or to take it as an insult.
“No, I think it will take a lot of pressure off of you.”
“I’m not under any pressure, Eric.”
“May I give you an example?”
“Next Saturday, we are going to a cocktail party at the Queen’s estate. What are you going to wear?”
“Well… I don’t know… I hadn’t really thought about it. I actually… kind of… forgot…”
“Now you don’t have to think about it. Alicia will think about it for you.”
“What – she’s going to buy my clothes?”
“In most cases she’ll pick out things that would be appropriate and you’ll choose the ones you like, or sometimes you’ll go shopping together. She’ll take care of your laundry, help you prepare for the wedding and she’ll help you acquire things for the baby. She’ll keep your things tidy for you and you’ll have free time for the swimming pool, reading, shopping, and later on, you can put all your energy into the baby.”
“This is not because you’re ashamed of me, is it?”
“Sookie, I could not be more proud of you.”
“You think I dress poorly?”
“Your clothes are lovely, but as a bride, a married woman, a mother, wife of a vampire Sheriff, you will have a variety of things that you need and keeping it all straight might be stressful. You know stress is not good for the baby. This way, the stress will be minimal.”
“So you’re telling me that her whole job – what she’s getting paid to do – is just to help me be me?”
“It’s very common for a woman of your station, Sookie.”
“Wife of a wealthy vampire Sheriff.”
“How many wives of vampire Sheriffs are there?”
“After we get married, one.”
Sookie laughed and he kissed her forehead. “And this is not about you being ashamed of me?”
“No, Sweetheart, this is about me taking care of you. It’s me seeing that you have what you need when you need it.”
“Even if I don’t think I need it?”
“Will you give it a try? For me?” he nuzzled her ear.
“You fight dirty,” she laughed.
“The dirtiest,” he laughed, “but I really think this will help you a great deal. She has grown children, too, so that’s three older women you’ll have around who can advise you about the baby. That’s wonderful, Sookie.”
“Yeah, I guess. I just feel like you think I can’t do it myself.”
“Sookie, I have no doubt that if you walked out on me right now, and raised the baby yourself, you would do just fine. You would also struggle, though, and you’re in a position now where you don’t need to struggle. I don’t think you’ve absorbed that yet.”
“That I don’t need to struggle?”
“And she’s starting Monday?”
“Yes. She can help your Grandmother when she’s here, too.”
“Like with laundry and stuff?”
“Yes, anything she needs.”
“That would be great. Laundry is a lot for her at her age.”
“Yes, and she has finer things to offer to you and my son.”
“Finer things to offer…” Sookie repeated.
“Yes, and so do you. My son and I are going to be selfish – we want your time and your energy spent on us.”
“Like I’d do anything else,” Sookie laughed.
“Exactly. I don’t want you wrangling diapers when you could be playing with the baby, enjoying him and teaching him and watching him grow…”
“Now you’re using the baby against me?” She laughed. “I honestly don’t see how she’s going to help me, but if you’ve already hired her, I guess I’ll give it a try and see how it goes.”
“Thank you,” he kissed her forehead again and gave her a good squeeze.
They whispered to each other about little things concerning the baby and Eric let Sookie gradually drift off to sleep. When she was resting soundly, he wrote her a note and went to rest, feeling very, very lucky.
An ounce of blood is worth more than a pound of friendship. ~Spanish Proverb