Part 13 DETOUR Up Ahead
Eric was beaming with pride as nearly every vampire at the party came over to wish them the best of luck, some bragging on how lovely Sookie was while gazing at her with hunger in their eyes, some hinting around wanting to know how to have a child of their own. Sookie just smiled and said ‘hi’ and ‘thanks’ as she continued her conversation with Amelia, still holding Eric’s hand.
Sophie Ann tried not to be short with people as they came by to congratulate her on having such a progressive nest in her Queendom. She’d be damned if she’d let everyone know how disappointed she was in these developments. There was no way she’d let people know one of her Sheriffs had so much influence on her feelings. She certainly wasn’t going to let people know she was jealous of this little blonde girl, for heaven’s sake!
André was ready to spit bloody nails – he hated Eric Northman, and the idea of him controlling that sparkling little diamond in the blue dress, with her telepathy and that glorious scent, let alone making history by siring the first vampire baby in recorded history, would make him want Eric dead even if he weren’t sure Sophie Ann would oust him in a second if she could get Northman into her bed. Sophie was right about one thing, though – if Niall Brigant was behind this pregnancy, no one dared harm the girl or the baby she carried. He also knew that any hint of danger toward Sookie or her baby would provoke Northman’s most vicious protective instincts. Most would consider him having a wife and potential child a weakness that could be exploited, but André knew Eric far too well to suppose he would be cautious in meting out retribution where they were concerned. Northman had never been more dangerous than he was at this moment. Sophie was right about that, too – he had too much to lose. Any action against him or his nest must be carefully considered and executed, because failure would mean certain and cruel death.
Bill made his way around the room to offer Eric his congratulations, knowing that if he did not, Eric would take it as a slight or some sign of opposition. There was no way Bill wanted to be on the wrong side of the fight where Eric was concerned. Sheer will to survive made getting on Eric’s good side a priority.
“Eric – congratulations on your new family. Congratulations to you, too, Sookie,” he looked down at her and she looked up and smiled. “You must be very pleased with these developments, Sheriff.” ‘Yes,’ Bill thought to himself, ‘I’m kissing his ass, but it has to be done.’
“Thank you, Bill. You’ll be invited to the wedding, of course, since you’re Sookie’s neighbor and we’d never have met, if not for you.” Eric said that for Sophie Ann’s benefit, knowing she was listening to every word he said. This was positively delicious.
“That’s very kind of you, Eric, I’ll look forward to it.”
“Eric! Bill! So nice to see both of you!” A tall, striking vampiress with short dark hair approached them, putting one hand on Bill’s arm and starting to put the other on Eric’s, but he subtly pulled away.
“Good evening, Sabrina,” Eric said with a slight undercurrent of irritation. “I’m sorry I can’t give you a kiss, but I am bonded.” She knew better than to touch him that way, and the fact she tried anyway was a great insult to Sookie. Eric wouldn’t tolerate any disrespect to his bonded.
Sookie looked up from her conversation with Amelia, wondering why this chick was trying to paw at her fiancé.
“Sookie, Darling, this is Sheriff Sabrina Maxwell from Area 3. Sabrina, this is my bonded, Sookie.”
“How nice to meet you, dear,” Sabrina said with a little bit of a sneer, “you’ve created quite a little stir tonight! She’s just lovely, Eric, wherever did you find her?”
“It was as if the gods delivered her to me right in my own bar. I knew the minute she walked into Fangtasia that she would be mine,” he smiled at her adoringly.
“My, isn’t that romantic,” she said condescendingly.
OK, Sookie didn’t like this bitch, and she was trying to grab Eric’s arm again, though he smoothly moved away again. Amelia was watching intently, wondering how Sookie would handle this situation.
“Sabrina, would you like to dance?” Bill intercepted her this time. She didn’t want to refuse him, or it would be obvious she was targeting Eric with her attentions.
“Of course, Bill, I’d love to. I’ll see you very soon, Eric,” she purred at him, making Sookie’s eyebrow arch and sending her displeasure into the bond.
“Not to worry, Sweetheart, she’s merely an associate,” Eric bent to reassure her.
“An associate that would like to be a lot more, though. I thought other vampires would know not to paw at you once we’re bonded.”
“Most will. Sabrina is not like most vampiresses, though, Sookie. You might say she has fewer boundaries than most.”
“I heard she’s crazy,” Amelia commented, making Sookie laugh.
“I shouldn’t speak ill of another Sheriff in this company,” Eric smiled, letting Amelia know her comment was accurate.
“You dated her, though, right?” Sookie knew there had to be history there.
“In a manner of speaking. Long, long ago.”
“Every consider going back?” She didn’t care if there were other people there, she wanted to know what was up.
“Not even if my life depended on it,” he said softly as he sent all the reassurance he could through the bond, raising her hand to his lips and kissing it.
“OK, good.” Sookie was happy with that explanation.
“Ready to fight for him, huh?” Amelia laughed.
“I know I couldn’t fight her, but I’m not going to sit by and watch another woman paw at my future husband and not say anything,” Sookie said with absolute determination, followed quickly by a huge yawn. “Oh, my – excuse me, Amelia!”
“No problem. You might want to think about calling it a night. You and the baby need your rest.”
“You do seem very tired, Sweetheart,” Eric said with concern. Now that his business was complete, he’d be happy to go home.
“Yeah, I guess I am. Dr. Ludwig was right – I’m wiped out all of a sudden.”
“We can go any time you want, Sookie. Amelia, we’ll have the pleasure of a visit from you soon, yes?”
“Yes, definitely. In the mean time, Sookie get my number and my email from Eric and we’ll stay in touch every day so you can tell me how you’re doing with your books, alright?”
“That sounds great! Thank you so much!”
“Not at all, kid. I wouldn’t miss this for the world!” she laughed, giving Sookie a big hug.
“Alright, Sookie, let’s say goodnight to our hostess and make our way back to the plane.” Eric helped her stand and let her lean on his arm as they walked back toward Sophie Ann.
Eric bowed as they approached, “My Queen, we wish to say good night.”
“Leaving so soon?” she was visibly disappointed.
“Yes, I’m afraid Sookie’s condition makes her very tired. The doctor wants her to get plenty of rest. We’ve had a marvelous time though, haven’t we, Sweetheart?”
“Yes, it’s a beautiful party, and your home is amazing – I’ve never seen anything like it,” Sookie said sincerely.
Sophie Ann tried to be gracious, “thank you, my dear. You are welcome to visit us any time, of course, so hopefully you and Eric will come again as your pregnancy develops? I’m so curious about the whole process.” That was the understatement of Sophie Ann’s long life.
“We’ll certainly be back before the child comes,” Eric assured her.
“G’nite, Sookie!” Hadley popped up and hugged Sookie and Sookie gave her a kiss on the cheek.
“Is it OK if I tell Gran that I saw you and you’re OK? She’s been worried about you.”
“Sure, tell her I said “hey” – I’d come for a visit but I owe her SO much money,” she giggled with only a little embarrassment.
“She won’t care about that, Honey. Give her a call when you can, alright?”
“Alright! I will!”
Sookie knew she wouldn’t, but at least they knew she was alive now. She’d call Gran tomorrow and fill her in.
Leaving the party was like running a gauntlet. Everyone they passed bowed and looked Sookie over one last time, barely resisting the urge to keep her there at all costs. Eric nodded to them all in turn, leading her back out the front where their car had already been called. Sookie fell asleep with her head on Eric’s arm on the way to the airfield, and didn’t wake up as Eric gently lifted her out of the car and flew her up the stairs to the plane. He held her hand in his as they slipped through the night air. Sookie only opened her eyes briefly when they hit a pocket of turbulence, but it was a fairly smooth flight and before she knew it, she was being tucked into Eric’s Corvette.
“Are we home yet?” Sookie asked sleepily.
“Not yet, Dearest, but we will be soon,” he said as he buckled her seatbelt and then his. “Did you have a good time at the party?”
“Yeah, long as nobody bit me,” she yawned and Eric laughed. “I really like Amelia.”
“Good. I think you can learn a lot from her.”
“Yeah, I’ve got a lot to learn if I’m gonna teach Baby E about magick.”
He smiled and stroked her cheek as he drove and she dozed most of the short drive home. When they got into the garage, Eric carried her into the house, her arms around his neck.
“I’m leaving a trail of feathers everywhere I go in this dress,” she observed sleepily.
“Yes, you left a lot of trails in your wake tonight. I was very proud of you,” he whispered as he set her on the bed.
He knelt in front of her, unzipping the back of her dress. “Oh, yes, Sookie. Every vampire there wanted to be me. I heard so many of them talking about how pretty you are, and how sweet you smelled, and they were all fascinated with the idea of you being pregnant with my child. People could not take their eyes off of you.”
“They didn’t think I was weird?”
“They thought you were a miracle, and they were right,” He kissed her deeply, then kissed her shoulder as he helped her out of the dress.
She let out a huge yawn. “I’ll never be able to wear this again, will I?”
“You wouldn’t want to, would you?”
“The Queen has already seen it.”
“Yeah, but I could wear it to Fangtasia some time if the feathers weren’t wrecked.”
“Well, ask Alicia what she thinks.” He hung the dress up for her, “I think the dress has done its work. You sparkled like a jewel tonight,” he said softly as he helped her out of her undergarments.
“You always say things like that, and I love it, but part of me doesn’t believe it. Nobody ever looked at me before…” she crawled up into her side of the bed.
Eric sat next to her, putting his arm around her. “They looked, Sookie, they simply weren’t smart enough to know what they were seeing. You have amazing qualities that are lost on humans, but are very highly prized in the Supe world. And don’t underestimate your physical charms, my beautiful bonded, you haven’t seen the way men of every description look at you when your attention is elsewhere. Even in that awful uniform at Merlotte’s, men could not keep their eyes off of you.”
“I always felt like people were looking at me because I was weird.”
“Maybe that was an effect of the Goddess in you?”
“Huh? Why would the Goddess want that?”
“If you were not gifted, no one would have been afraid of you, yes?”
“So men would have pursued you as any other attractive woman, yes?”
“So, their fear and, if I may say, their stupidity, kept you untouched until I came along.”
“And that’s a good thing?”
“From my perspective, it’s a very good thing. You have no old lovers I must track down and kill,” he laughed.
“That’s a joke, right?”
Eric didn’t respond, he just kissed her and stood up and started taking his suit off. Sookie yawned again and settled back, saying, “I didn’t like that Sabrina person at all.”
“She’s not very likable. What did you think of Sophie Ann?” He was hanging up his jacket and pants.
“She’s so beautiful. She looks like a Queen.”
“He really scares me, Eric, and he hates you.” She hugged her pillow and watched him undress.
He unbuttoned his blue silk shirt. “Yes, there’s no love lost between us. Don’t worry about André, Sweetheart. He’s busy trying to hold onto Sophie Ann.”
“So, she and my cousin Hadley are…?”
“Lovers? Yes, though I think your cousin is more of a pet than a partner.”
“Is that a vampire thing?”
“Girls and girls, guys and…?”
“Because vampires tend to live so long, it is usual to experiment sexually. Most try everything at least a few times over the centuries, even if it’s not normally their cup of tea.”
“So you’ve done it with a guy?”
“Have you done it with a girl?” He avoided the question.
“No! I never did anything with anybody before you.”
He slid into bed next to her and nuzzled her neck. “Not even little games girls play together as children?”
“I don’t know what girls you know, but none of the girls I knew were ever into anything like that. I sure as heck didn’t know Hadley was, and we were pretty tight until she got into drugs in high school!”
“It might be a new thing for her.”
“Why do you say that?” She snuggled up against him as he put his arm under her head.
“You said she’s a drug addict, yes?”
“Yeah – you heard her say she owes Gran money, too, right? That’s for that rehab she ran away from.”
“Sophie Ann can be generous with her gifts where her pets are concerned. She might be plying her with money or drugs.” He was stroking her back and her hip and it was making her very relaxed.
“Not if everyone is getting what they want. It’s very common in the vampire world to provide compensation for human companions.”
“Honestly, though, Eric, I don’t think so – she looked healthier than she’s been in years.”
“Then perhaps the Queen has had a positive influence on her.”
“Hadley seemed happy.”
“And Sophie Ann seemed to dote on her. I think she was planning on a pair of pets, though, so we’ll see if it lasts,” Eric speculated.
“What do you mean?”
“I think Sophie Ann had designs on you, too, Sookie.”
“For my telepathy, right?”
“Not just that, Sookie, she wanted you the way she has Hadley as well.”
“But I’m not into that!”
“She can be very persuasive. If you were bonded to her, or even to Bill, you might not have a choice.”
“Can you make me do things I don’t want to do?”
“Not if I honor our bond.”
“But you could if you didn’t?”
“Yes, I probably could.” He was fudging because he didn’t want her to know how much control he really had over her.
“What if I became a vampire?”
“Then I definitely could. As your Maker, I could compel you to do whatever I wanted.”
“Not necessarily. Many Makers and their Progeny are very happy together. Pam and I were always happy together.”
“OK, this might seem like a freaky-weird question, but you said I can ask you anything, right?”
“Right.” This could get tasty, he told himself.
“OK, theoretically, say I was into the idea of doing it… with a girl… ”
“Yes?” He loved this question so far…
“…would it be weird or improper or whatever if I did it with Pam?”
Eric looked at her and tried not to burst out laughing, but it wasn’t easy. “No, it wouldn’t be improper. It is not unusual for a vampire to share Children and lovers.”
“You’d be there, too, right?”
“I’m not saying I would do that, because I don’t think I would, I’m just wondering what the rules are.”
“There are no rules that would prevent or discourage it.”
“See, because I think it would be weird if Hadley and I did it together with anybody else, because she’s family.”
“That is a human moral judgment, though, that is not even universal to human cultures. There is no such morality among vampires.”
“What do you mean “not universal to human cultures?””
“Well, in many human cultures, people marry first cousins.”
“It happens even now in this country. It was very common in Europe until recently and tribal peoples often marry very closely. It’s a main feature in some of Jane Austen’s work.”
“Really? Which book?”
“Mansfield Park. Fanny Price falls in love with her first cousin, Edmund.”
“Yeah, come to think of it, I’m pretty sure Ashley Wilkes marries his cousin Melanie in Gone with the Wind, too. There’s a line where somebody says “Wilkes’s always marry cousins.” Have you got Mansfield Park on DVD?”
“Yes, I think I saw it in the cabinet.”
“Can we watch it tomorrow night?”
“If we feel like it when we get home. Remember, tomorrow is Saturday – I must make an appearance at Fangtasia.”
“I can go, too, though, right?”
“Yes, of course. I’d love to have you there if you want to go. You’re under no obligation if you are too tired, though.”
“Nuh-uh, I want to be there to keep all the vampire groupies off of you,” she teased him.
“You needn’t worry about that, my Lover. No one touches me now but my bonded.” He smoothed her hair away from her face. “May I make request?”
“Sure – what?”
“That pink dress you wore the first time we went to the lake – do you have it here?”
“Yeah, I think so…”
“It looks lovely on you. Would you wear it tomorrow night so I can show you off?”
Sookie giggled. “Of course I will, Sweetie!” She yawned again and this time she was really fading. She started to speak again but Eric said, ” shhhh, let go, Sookie,” and rubbed her back until she fell asleep.
“Miss Sookie? Can you wake up and eat?”
“Hm? Oh, good morning, Alicia.”
“Good morning, Miss. I’ve got your breakfast. Did you eat at the party last night? We found your salad still in the fridge, so I assume you didn’t eat when you got home?”
“I completely forgot about eating last night. I was so tired, all I could think about was getting in bed, and Eric was trying to get me to let go and go to sleep.”
“We need to be careful about you missing meals. Maybe we’ll start leaving something up here in a cooler or maybe we could get a little fridge to store your evening snacks in?”
“Yeah, I guess Eric would be OK with that. I do need to eat more than twice a day.”
“Alright, Margaret and I will see what we can do about this. At the very least we can keep some milk up here, and some peanut butter and crackers. Maybe there’s a diet supplement we can find that would help with vitamins and calories?”
“If your salad had been up here last night, you would have eaten it, right?”
“Yeah, if I remembered.”
“Alright, I think a stocked mini-fridge is our best bet. So, how was the party?”
“Intense. You should have seen her estate – it was gorgeous! Kind of like a modern Egyptian palace, with pale teal green marble and purple inlaid accents on the floors and borders around the wall.”
“It was pretty spectacular. Everybody was really nice to me, but they all checked me out pretty thoroughly because of the baby and us getting married and all.”
“That’s a first in his community, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, both the wedding and the baby. People were pretty shocked. You could kind of hear it ripple through the crowd when he said we were engaged, and then when she announced the baby, everybody was stunned.”
“Did anyone say anything about the dress?”
“Eric said I sparkled like a jewel, and he said he heard a lot of people talk about how pretty I was, but I don’t know that I heard anything about my dress…”
“Yes, you want them to notice you, not your dress. The dress should show you off, not outshine you.”
“Oh, well, then I guess that’s good! I was wondering if I could ever wear it again, though?”
“I’ll look it over, but I’d say you’ve gotten your money’s worth and then some.”
“Eric said it had done its job, too. It left a trail everywhere I went,” she laughed.
“Yes, I picked a few feathers up off the stairs and I see a few on the bedspread there. I’ll have to get a lint brush to clean them off. I’ll have one of the gardener’s boys check Mr. Northman’s car. I’m sure they’ll be in there, too.”
“Good idea, thanks! What’s the weather like outside?”
“Sunny and hot – a perfect pool day.”
“Yay! Let’s see, I need to call Gran after I eat, then I’ll head for the pool.”
“You know, I got you a couple of new bathing suits,” Alicia told her.
“Yes, very cute ones. I think you’ll especially like the bright pink one with the push up cups. You might want to wear it while you can – the bottom is low cut.”
“Yeah, Baby E is going to start making his presence known so I’d better enjoy the small ones while I can,” she laughed. “Do they make maternity swimsuits?”
“Yes, but it will be a while before you need one. Don’t worry, I’ll find you something cute before you need it.”
“Thanks. Am I allowed to make requests, breakfast-wise?”
“Of course, you are. What would you like?”
“I’d kill for a big plateful of fried potatoes.”
“You want to wait for it or do you want me to bring it out to the pool?”
“Out to the pool, please?” Sookie said apologetically.
“Alright, we’ll get started on that right away. I’ll just lay out your suit and pack your tote bag for you – did you want to use that white shirt again?”
“Yeah, I like using Eric’s shirt. It reminds me of him.”
“Alright, I think it’s hanging in the bathroom.”
Sookie wolfed down her steak and eggs and knew she’d still be able to eat a lot of potatoes because she was starving. Before she did anything else, she called Gran from the phone on Eric’s nightstand.
“Hi, Gran! How are you?”
“Oh, I’m fine. How are you feeling, Honey?”
“Pretty good. A little nauseous but not too bad, I guess. I have some good news for you!”
“I saw Hadley last night?”
“Hadley? My goodness, where is she?”
“She’s in New Orleans. She was at the party Eric took me to that was such a big deal. She looks really good, Gran, I think she’s cleaned up her act.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful!”
“I told her to give you a call, but don’t hold your breath. I told her you’d been worried about her.”
“Well, I’m very glad to know she’s doing better. How is she making a living?”
“Um, I’m not sure, she lives with a nice lady, though, who I wanted to tell you about. Her name is Amelia and she’s going to help me with some things. She wants to come up here for a bit and she needs a place to stay, so I was thinking maybe she could stay with you? You’d really like her, Gran, and she could help you with things around the house.”
“Oh, I don’t know, Sookie, a complete stranger…”
“She’s really nice, Gran, I promise. Could she just stay a couple of days and you could see if you get along?”
“Well, I suppose I could handle a guest for a few days.”
“OK, It will probably be next weekend, OK?”
“I suppose. Why isn’t she staying with you?”
“It’s kind of hard to explain – she’s supposed to stay with you, to help you out, and you guys can visit a lot.”
“That doesn’t make a lot of sense, Sookie.”
“Can you just trust me on this one? It’s sort of part of the whole Fae/magickal baby thing. She’s a teacher I need to help me get ready for the baby.”
“Alright, well, if you think the baby will benefit, we’ll give it a try.”
“Thanks so much, Gran. Today is Saturday, right? I was thinking maybe I’d come over on Wednesday and hang out with you if you aren’t going to be busy?”
“That sounds very nice. I’ll bake a pecan pie for you, since I’ll be baking for church that night.”
“Oh, great! OK, well, I’m gonna let you go now, ok?”
“Alright, Honey, you take care of yourself.”
“I will, Gran – you, too! I love you.”
“I love you, too, Sookie.”
Once she was off the phone, Sookie got dressed as quickly as she could in the gorgeous pink bathing suit Alicia put out for her and was in the water basking in the sun before Margaret had the potatoes scrubbed and sliced. She started out floating face up in case Baby E got nauseous again. She laughed at herself thinking the baby could already communicate with her but as she was floating she kept imagining he was “thinking” at her. If she closed her eyes, she could see him inside her, floating and sucking his tiny thumb. What was that phrase Amelia told her to think of?
‘The Goddess, the Source of All Life,’ she remembered and the baby agreed.
That was her imagination again, right?
She put both hands over her tummy and closed her eyes. Even if he were conscious, he’d have to be able to read her mind to know what she was thinking. That just wasn’t possible. She suddenly remembered that she was supposed to be writing this stuff down, but she didn’t even think about it when they got home last night. Eric said something about getting a steno pad from his office, but she didn’t know if he had done that or not.
“Miss Sookie, I brought you a glass of sweet tea,” Alicia called from the side of the pool.
“Thanks, Alicia. Hey, you didn’t happen to see a steno pad in my room anywhere, did you?”
“You mean the one in your tote bag?”
“What – over here?”
“Yes, it was laying on the table with your sunglasses and sunscreen and it had your name on it. I thought you intended to bring it with you?”
“Is there a pen with it?”
“Yes, there’s one in the spiral at the top.”
“Oh, OK, thanks.”
“Your potatoes will be ready in just a little bit.”
Sookie figured she’d have to get out of the pool to eat, so she rolled off the mattress and made her way up to the table. There was a really pretty orange and fuchsia Indian print beach towel on the table with her tote bag, one of Alicia’s new purchases, and Sookie wrapped it around her and walked around a bit until she was mostly dry. The steno pad was right in the bag where Alicia had put it, and Sookie smiled when she saw her name written in Eric’s beautiful handwriting. She opened it and started to write what she could remember.
She knew for certain that she met Eric on Wednesday, April 26, 2006. She had sex with him on the 27th, and had a “visitor” which was the code she decided to use for when he killed René. The pink teddy bear was the 28th, Eric met Gran the 29th and they went to the lake, then her first time at Eric’s house was Sunday, which would have been the 30th and that was also the day he had the lawn mower delivered.
They blood-bonded on May 1st, which struck her as significant but she wasn’t sure why, but she put a star beside it, just in case. Eric met Jason at Merlotte’s on the 2nd. She got the Camaro on the 3rd, the ring on the 4th and that was when Gran told her about Niall. She remembered it was Cinco de Mayo the night Eric met with Niall and they hit the drive-in and Wal-Mart.
Niall came for dinner on the 6th, she went shopping with Gran on the 7th, Alicia started on the 8th. The Queen’s party last night was definitely the 12th so today was Saturday the 13th. Sookie looked at the list and decided that she must have gotten pregnant on the 2nd or 3rd right after the blood bond was established. That would mean she’s only 10 days pregnant. She shouldn’t even be having symptoms yet. The pregnancy test shouldn’t have worked yet. But then this would only be a 6 month pregnancy – they’re usually 9 – so how many days would that equal? 9 divided by 6 is 1.5, so 10 x 1.5 is 15 days.
She just stared at the paper, stunned. How could all this have happened in such a short time? And how could the pregnancy be this far along?
‘OK, Sookie, it’s a magickal baby, remember? It won’t follow normal patterns,’ she told herself. She looked in the bag again – yep, there was the book Eric got her. She thumbed through it, finding that there was part of it arranged by months. One page talked about a Pregnancy Timetable, splitting the pregnancy up into trimesters. OK, that was easy – First trimester for Sookie would be 8 weeks, Second to 16, Third to 24. Under a section called What You May Be Feeling, she saw that pregnancy symptoms usually don’t start until the sixth week. This might be a stretch, but Sookie decided she was probably at the middle of the first “trimester,” so she was going start with that. The next thing she saw was something about “frequent urination” and she was glad she was out of the water because just the idea of it made her need to go right now. She wrapped the towel around her waist and went in to the bathroom in the den.
As she started back to the pool, Margaret called her back. “Miss Sookie? Do you want to eat your potatoes out there or in here?”
“Actually, I guess I’ll just eat them in here.” She took her usual seat at the kitchen table and dug into the huge plate Margaret sat in front of her. “Thanks, these look delicious.”
“Are you enjoying the sun today?” Margaret made small talk while she did her work.
“Yeah, I was reading that book Eric got me.”
“The “What to Expect” book?” Alicia asked as she came in the room.
“Yeah. If you had to guess, how far along would you say I am now?”
“Well, you’re having morning sickness and you’re getting a little tummy – I’d say 8 weeks?” Alicia guessed
Margaret didn’t say anything but she knew that wasn’t possible. She was sure it was Mr. Northman’s baby, so she knew the baby wasn’t “human,” so the timetable would vary.
“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking – like middle of the first trimester?”
“More like 2/3 of the way through, I’d say,” Alicia suggested.
“Margaret, does that seem right to you?”
“That’s what your symptoms seem to indicate, yes,” she figured that was close enough.
“Are you having any cravings yet?” Alicia asked.
“I really wanted these potatoes. And this is going to sound crazy, but I really want anchovies, though I’m not sure I ever had them before.”
Alicia and Margaret laughed knowingly.
“Maybe I should make you my special Caesar salad?” Alicia suggested.
“Yeah, I like those – they have anchovies sometimes, right?”
“Right. We’ll try that and see if that satisfies your craving. If there’s anything else…”
“I know they always joke about pickles, but that’s not very appealing. Now, ice cream, on the other hand…” Sookie joked.
“What kind do you like?”
“Ben & Jerry’s, mostly, as long as there’s no bananas. Don’t ever bring bananas around me.”
“Not a favorite?” Alicia didn’t know this but Margaret did.
“Yeah, I hate them even when I’m not pregnant.”
“You need to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, too.”
“You know, my favorite way to eat veggies is raw. I love those trays they have at the grocery store with carrots and celery and little tomatoes, you know?”
“Crudités? Those are really good for you,” Alicia would be very happy if she’d eat a lot of fresh vegetables.
“Yes, we can keep those around for you all the time. I’ll make some up after I finish up with lunch and decide what we’re doing for dinner,” Margaret offered.
“Can you do baked chicken with dressing,” Sookie asked apologetically.
“Yes, we can do that very easily. That’ll leave leftovers for salads and sandwiches, too.”
“Oh, good. Thanks!”
“When you’re done eating, there’s a big box from Amazon that Mr. Northman said you were expecting? Books of some sort, I assume?” Alicia told her
“Oh, yeah, cool. I’ll have lots to read! Oh, I forgot – I was supposed to get Amelia’s email from Eric…”
“I have Ms. Broadway’s contact information for you, Miss, and Mr. Northman says that your email is Sookie AT E dot Northman dot org. I can help you access the email if you’d like.
“Yeah, I want to do that after I see what books he got me. Oh, yeah – do I have my pink sundress with me? It has a halter top with thin straps.”
“I think I remember seeing that in your closet. Did you want to wear it today?”
“For tonight, yeah. I’m going to Fangtasia with Eric. I have to look really good and he specifically requested that dress.”
“Alright, I’ll see if it needs to be pressed or anything.”
“Thanks. I have some white sandals I can wear with it up there.”
“Do you want me to help you with hair and make-up?”
“Can you do a real natural look?”
“Yes, I can – just some dark lashes and pink lips.”
“Yeah, exactly. I had my hair pulled back in a headband the first night I went there and he really liked it, so I want it straight back again, with a bit of body.”
“No problem. Did you want to be dressed before he arrives?”
“Yeah, I do. I want a little more sun, though.”
“Alright, then you should go back out as soon as you’re finished and I’ll call you at 5 o’clock for your shower and we’ll get you dressed. You can look through your books after you’re dressed.”
“Good idea! OK, I’m going back out!” Sookie bounced back out to the pool, and lay face down on one of the lounge chairs with her top undone to get lineless sun on her back. She stayed what she figured was half an hour, then got back into the pool and floated sideways on the pink air mattress until Alicia told her it was time for her shower.
She shaved her legs and showered quickly, making sure she picked the Pantene shampoo and conditioner from the selection in the shower because she remembered that Eric loved the scent of it. In no time at all, Alicia was doing a great blow out on her hair, putting in some big Velcro rollers while she did Sookie’s makeup just as she described – heavy lashes, pink lips and cheeks to set off her tan, sandy beige and soft brown eye shadows. By 6:15, they were headed downstairs, Sookie looking sun-kissed and radiant. She stopped into the downstairs office to open the box of books just to see what was there – two more pregnancy books and 4 books she assumed were about magick: The Spiral Dance, Positive Magic, The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries, and When God was a Woman.
“When God was a Woman?” She said to herself. The baby agreed. Ok, this was not her imagination, dammit, she was really feeling something distinct and it was always about … the Goddess? Sookie had never really encountered the idea before. ‘I mean, yeah, I’ve heard of Venus the Goddess of love and like that but I never heard the idea of THE “god” being female. Is that possible?’ Under the title of the book it said “The landmark exploration of the ancient worship of the Great Goddess and the eventual suppression of women’s rites.” Why was it spelled “rites” instead of “rights?”
She thumbed through the book, finding a page in front with several bits of what looked like scripture. She read the first one:
In the Beginning there was Isis: Oldest of the Old, She was the Goddess from whom all Becoming Arose. She was the Great Lady, Mistress of the two Lands of Egypt, Mistress of Shelter, Mistress of Heaven, Mistress of the House of Life, Mistress of the word of god. She was the Unique. In all Her great and wonderful works, She was a wiser magician and more excellent than any other god. Thebes, Egypt, 14th C. BC
Sookie thought back to learning about the 10 Commandments in Sunday school. The very first one was about not worshipping other gods because “he” was a “jealous god.” It suddenly occurred to Sookie that “he” never said he was the only god – just that you’d better not worship any others or he’d punish your children to the third and fourth generation. She remembered that seemed pretty harsh at the time. She remembered being about 8 and thinking how unfair it seemed to punish kids and grandkids and great grandkids for something their parent, or whatever, did, and it bothered her for a long, long time. That was the first time she ever remembered questioning anything about the church and she always felt that feeling of unfairness created a rift that never healed. Is it possible every thing she ever heard about “god” was wrong? Or at least, not what she was told? Why didn’t people know about this?
“You look very serious and very beautiful, Dear One.”
“Eric!” She dropped the book and hopped over to him, giving him a big kiss as he wrapped his arms around her waist.
“You look very pretty tonight, Sookie, but you were so intent on what you were thinking. Has something upset you?”
“I was just looking at one of the books you got for me. I never… it’s got some ideas I never heard of before.”
“That’s a good thing, isn’t it?”
“Yes, the whole point is to learn about magick and that will probably mean seeing the world in new ways, don’t you think?”
“Yeah. You know Freyja, right?”
“How is She related to the Great Goddess?”
“I believe a magician would say They are One and the Same, however, the Great Goddess might encompass more than Freyja as an individual.”
“This is a question for your Witch, Sookie. I am a warrior, not a magician. She will know how to explain it.”
“Can I call her before we go to the club?”
“How about you have your dinner, then we’ll go and you can call her from my office at the club? I should get in there and you might want to talk for quite a while once you get started.”
“Yeah, that will work. You don’t mind do you?”
“Not at all. I am pleased to see you burning with questions,” he teased her, nuzzling her neck and making her giggle.
“Can I bring this book with me?”
“That’s a very good idea. You might get bored and want to sit in the office and read.”
“I can’t imagine getting bored at Fangtasia but I do want to keep it with me for some reason.”
“Margaret has your chicken ready, Dearest, you should eat.”
Once Sookie was settled at the table with her dinner, Eric kicked it into vampire gear and took his shower and dressed. He was back in motorcycle boots, tight black jeans and a tight Fangtasia t-shirt before she finished her plate.
“Wow!” Sookie said when she saw him. “You look amazing!”
He could feel a little surge of lust in the bond when she saw him and that pleased him very much indeed. She didn’t want dessert, so they were on their way before Margaret and Alicia had finished for the day.
Sookie was looking at the book in her hands as they drove, thinking hard, but it occurred to her she was being rude. “Do you usually go in this early, Eric?”
“Most nights we’ll go in around 8. I need to get there early tonight in case Pam needs help with a shipment she’s expecting.”
“On a Saturday?”
“It’s blood, not beer,” he smiled at her. “Vampires work on a different schedule than human beverage companies.”
“We might have more vampires there than normal, you know?”
“Yes, it’s possible word of our engagement has spread since last night. There might be subjects who want to see us or congratulate us.”
“Oh, yeah – I can see that. OK. Maybe I should have dressed up more?”
“You look perfect, Sookie. I could not ask for a prettier bonded. I’ll be very proud to show you off.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Sookie said, teasing him. If he only knew how hearing him say things like that made her heart race! “Honestly, though, Eric, I’m a little nervous.”
“Why are you nervous?” Eric was surprised she said that. What was there to make her nervous?
“I’ve only been there once and it was a pretty eventful evening,”
Eric laughed, “yes, your introduction to Fangtasia was less than ideal. Do not worry, Sookie, you are with me now. There is nothing to fear… unless I decide to show you the basement…” he laughed again and wiggled his eyebrows at her.
“Is there really a round bed down there?”
“Oh, yes, a very big one.”
Sookie bit her lip and looked out the window. She was scared and excited at the idea. Eric just waited until she was ready to speak again, feeling her excitement in the bond and smiling to himself.
“How many people does it hold?”
“3 or 4 comfortably, though it’s on a solid wooden platform so it cannot break if there are more.”
“What’s the most people that have ever been in it at once?” She was still staring out the window. She didn’t know why she felt embarrassed, but she did.
“Hmm – let’s see… probably 7.”
“Yes, I think that was the most. Some of them were very petite, though.”
“How many girls and how many guys?”
“1 male, 6 females.”
She looked at him as her jaw dropped. “You and 6 girls at once?”
“Yes, but keep in mind that some of the girls preferred girls.”
“Is that the most girls you’ve ever been with at one time?”
“No, it’s not.”
“Do I want to know what the most is?”
“Probably not. They were not playmates, they were payment.”
“I was a mercenary working for a warlord in a remote region of Asia. Part of my compensation was women.”
She looked at him with big eyes, hardly breathing.
“It was a different time in a very different culture, Sookie. It was many lifetimes ago.”
“You know, sometimes, I try to imagine all the things you’ve seen and done, and I can’t wrap my mind around it.”
“You know everything about me that matters, Sookie.”
“How is that possible?”
“All that matters is right now, between us. You know how I feel when I am with you. You know how you feel when you are with me. The rest of it is shadows and dust from the past. It doesn’t touch us now.”
“Do you think a lot about your past?”
“No, not really. I remember most of it, but I don’t dwell on it or pine for most of it.”
They turned off the street into the back lot at Fangtasia. Eric parked the car and turned Sookie’s chin so she was looking at him. “My favorite time is now, Sookie. Being here with you is the happiest time of my long life. The idea that you are having my son is so special to me, I cannot put it into words. Don’t ever doubt that.” He kissed her deeply for a long time, then before she knew it, he was opening her car door and leading her into the back door, which was propped open with a case of cheap beer.
“Good evening, Master,” a girl with short bleached hair said as they entered the club.
“Ginger – where is Pam?”
“I think she’s checking to club to see if everything is ready for tonight. She wasn’t sure if the cleaning crew had finished the front room the way you like it.”
“Alright, then, I’ll want all the employees out front at 7:30. I have an announcement to make.”
“Yes, Master,” Ginger ran up front to spread the word as Eric took Sookie into his office.
“Alright, Sweetheart, make yourself comfortable while I check my email.”
“OK,” Sookie said, taking a seat at the end of the black leather couch and opening her book. “EW – is there a bathroom around here?”
“Out the door to the left, first door on the right.”
She flew out into the hall and managed to get to the bathroom before she lost her dinner. Eric was behind her in a flash. “Are you alright, Sookie?”
“Morning sickness – it hit me really late today, I guess.”
“Very late, indeed. Do you want to go home?”
“No, I want to hang out a while and you need to be here! I’ll be OK.”
“Can I get you something to eat or drink?”
“Ginger ale might be good.”
Eric helped her back into the office and helped her lie down on the couch. He pulled a blanket from a stack of stuff at the end of the couch and put it over her, then buzzed the front of the bar.
“Bring your Mistress a ginger ale immediately.”
“Get used to it, Sweetheart, that’s what they’ll call you.”
“No way to get out of that, huh?”
“No, you’ll have to endure it,” he laughed, teasing her.
Sookie just giggled at the idea and hugged the purple pillow she had her head on. “Why do you have pillows and blankets in here?”
“Just in case.”
“In case what?”
“In case my pregnant fiancée feels ill and needs to lie down.”
“It’s a bar, Sookie, people occasionally get sick and need to lie down. Don’t worry, though, the pillow and blanket were cleaned recently because I knew you might need them some time.”
“You’re kind of ready for anything, aren’t you?”
“One can only hope. I will admit to being caught by surprise a few times since I met you, though, Dear One,” he laughed as he answered an email.
She giggled – she liked that.
A petite brunette in a fangtasia t-shirt brought a glass of ginger ale to Sookie and Sookie thanked her as she pulled a small table from the other side of the office to set it on.
“You don’t have to thank them, Sookie,” he said after the girl left the room.
“Yes, I do, Eric! Gran would be awfully disappointed if she knew I didn’t thank someone who served me!”
“Well, we don’t want to upset your grandmother, but I assure you, no one here will think less of you if you don’t.”
“So when do I get to see the big bed?”
Eric laughed again. He didn’t remember ever laughing this much in his office before, and he liked it. “When you’re up to it, I need to introduce you to the staff and we’ll spend some time out front, then later I’ll give you the deluxe tour.”
“OK, good.” She thumbed through the book looking at the pictures. “Snakes. There are a lot of snakes in this Goddess book.”
“The snake is an almost universal symbol of the Goddess and of prophecy. In the vampire hierarchy, we have an elder known as the Ancient Pythoness.”
“Yes – have you ever heard of the Oracle of Delphi?”
“Yeah, sort of – she was a seer, right? In ancient Greece or Rome or whatever?”
“Yes, that is She. Does your book mention Her?”
“Delphi has two mentions, apparently and…” she thumbed through the index, “No Oracle but there’s an entry for “Oracular div-in-a-tion?”
“Read those passages and see what they say,” he suggested as he sorted his mail and made some notes for Pam.
Sookie looked up the references on pages 44, 203, 210-212, and 214. “I’m not going to have to handle snakes to do magick, am I?”
“I’ve never known a Witch to handle snakes.”
“I’m not a Witch, though, right?”
“Ask Amelia – weren’t you going to phone her?”
“Oh, yeah, I forgot. Will it bother you if I talk while you’re working?”
“Not at all – call your Witch and ask her about snakes.” Eric knew a lot more about the Goddess than he was letting on because he thought it was better for Sookie to search out information and discuss it with Amelia. He’d fill in where he needed to, but so far, Sookie was finding her way pretty well and he was proud of her being so open-minded.
Sookie pulled out her phone and dialed Amelia.
“Hi, Amelia, it’s Sookie.”
“Hey, Sweetie. What’s up?”
“Well, I got some of the books Eric ordered for me today and I’m looking at one of them called When God Was A Woman, and I had some questions.”
“How much of it have you read?”
“I’m just kind of skipping around in it so far, but I was wondering if I’m going to have to handle snakes to do magick?”
Amelia laughed, “no, snake-handling is not required.”
“Whew! That’s a relief. I don’t think I could handle that.”
“Snakes are usually associated with the Goddess because the part of your brain that does magick is the part of your brain that’s reptilian.”
“Part of my brain is reptilian?”
“Yeah, Carl Sagan called it the R-Complex, “r ” for “reptile.” It’s the more ancient part of our brain. It’s a part of our evolution. There were simple organisms that didn’t have brains, then there were brain stems that regulated things like metabolism and heartbeat, then there was a reptilian brain, then a mammalian brain, then humans developed the frontal lobes. Magick mostly uses the R-Complex and the right frontal lobe, though not exclusively. They’re parts of the brain that humans now-a-days don’t understand, or else don’t think much of.”
“OK, I’ve heard people talk about right-brain, left-brain…”
“Right. Most people are left-brain dominant because we use language. It’s mostly a function of the left-brain, which is linear, orderly, uses logic and words. The right brain is more symbolic, creative and intuitive. It doesn’t have language, unless you count art and dreams, but those are images and not words.”
“OK, and what exactly does the R brain do?”
“The R-Complex is all about instinct. It feeds, fucks and sleeps…”
Sookie laughed out loud at that.
“You like that, huh?”
“Yeah, sorry I interrupted…”
“No problem. Anyway, it likes ritual and archetypal images, the most powerful of which is Mother/Female. Reptiles are more likely than other kinds of animals to have only female members of a species.”
“How do they have babies if there are no males?”
“It’s called “parthenogenesis.” Virgin-birth, though in Nature a female always has female babies in parthenogenesis.”
“So there really are animals, living now, that reproduce that way?”
“Yes, there are, but mostly lizards and sharks. Elizabeth Gould Davis had a theory that at some stage our human ancestor might have been female only and that males only evolved later on.”
“You’re shitting me?”
“Sookie!” Eric spoke from behind his desk.
“You’d say it, too, Eric, if you heard what she’s telling me.”
“I can hear her, Dearest.”
“Ok, sorry, Amelia.”
“Yeah, most scientists won’t admit that it’s possible, but the genetics indicate that it is. Scientists just produced a mouse with two mommies and no daddy.”
“Yeah, they did. Geneticists get pissed when people ask about doing that for human women, though – they don’t want to think that males might be expendable. It’s only a matter of time before some pair of power lesbians with a lot of money have a baby of their own, though,” Amelia laughed.
“Do people know about this?”
“Very few. Most would call it science fiction or fantasy, but like I said, they’ve already done it with mice.”
“OK, this might sound weird but when lizards do it, how do they…?”
“The same way they do it when there’s a boy and a girl. Two females do the same sort of mating dances or behaviors and that induces an egg in one of the females to begin to divide.”
“But no human female has been known to do it?”
“There are anecdotal stories of women giving birth parthenogenically. There was a woman in the second world war who was thought to have been triggered by a bombing, and there was a family one time where it was believed the women reproduced without sex and only gave birth to girls, but no doctors have ever seriously researched the possibility. After thousands of years of hymenolatry, it’s possible most of the women with that capability were killed off.”
“That’s a word some feminists coined to refer to patriarchy’s insistence on woman’s virginity. It means “worship of the hymen.” In many cultures for the past 6,000 years or so, even today in some areas of the world, if a woman weds and is found not to have a hymen, she might be killed. The irony of that is that the hymen is a genetic fluke and only about half of women are born with them. The ones that do have them can lose them riding a bike or a horse, doing stretches or gymnastics. They’re not the determinant of virginity that those cultures believe they are.”
“So if a woman wasn’t born with one, she might be killed even if she really is a virgin?”
“Yes. And the fact that the practice has gone on so long is probably the reason they occur as frequently as they do. People have selected that those who have them are the ones who reproduce.”
“Do I have that book you mentioned on my list?”
“Ask Eric – it’s out of print, so I might have to get a copy of it for you.”
“What’s it called?”
“The First Sex by Elizabeth Gould Davis.”
“Eric, did you hear that?”
“Yes, I ordered you a used copy, but it shipped separately, of course, so I don’t know when you’ll get it.”
“Cool! OK, why don’t people like the R-brain?”
“The R-complex is primitive and ritualistic. It’s very territorial and it’s the reason that people stop thinking when they’re scared.”
“Why do they stop thinking?”
“The reptile either goes forward for food or sex, it runs from its enemy, or it attacks. It doesn’t have logic or reason. That’s why Conservative politicians try to keep people afraid – scared people don’t think, they just react. Tell a person he’s in danger and you’ll keep him safe and he’ll vote for you even if your track record says the complete opposite. Fear completely cuts off your higher brain functions. It’s why Liberals have so much trouble talking to Conservatives – they’re using the left-brain to reason with people who have stopped thinking and are just reacting. They’re trying to use language to communicate with the part of the brain that has no language.”
“OK, so the reptile is bad?”
“No, just primitive. The thing is, people think we should move beyond it, but it’s a part of us and it’s not going anywhere. You have to give it an outlet, which is what ritual and magick are about. You can use certain combinations of sound, sight, color, smell, and get that part of the brain to tap into the Divine Feminine and then anything is possible.”
“So the reptile is violent?”
“Only if it’s threatened. It will move away from a fight if it can.”
“So war is reptilian?”
“No, war is a very modern thing. There was no “war” until about 4,000 BCE. War is a tool of patriarchy, which used violence to overthrow the peaceful Goddess people of the old world. That’s what that book you’re looking at is about – the way patriarchy drove the Goddess underground.”
“Why did it do that?”
“Greed. A few men were able to amass huge wealth and power by stealing, enslaving, raping and killing. There were waves of it up from the Near East and down from Scandinavia. Once they had control, they used religion to reinforce their own power and to encourage people to fight wars that gave them little personal benefit. The bible has one story after another where they slay entire cities of people and take their gold and silver.”
“But weren’t those other people wicked?”
“They were peaceful and matriarchal for the most part. Most of them worshipped the Goddess – the golden calf was a symbol of Hathor, they talk about how their women burned incense for the Queen of Heaven, but old “jealous” told his “chosen people” to slaughter everyone who worshipped anyone else and take their valuables.”
“This is giving me chills. I remember hearing those stories, but I never knew what they were doing. I thought everybody killed everybody in those days.”
“No, we can thank the “god” of Abraham for most of it. The religions that came from that – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – spawned war after war, invasions, inquisitions, crusades, then when they killed most of the Pagans around them, or converted them through violence, they turned on each other because each group claims to be more “chosen” than the other. What we know as Christianity today is a blend of several tales of “once and future kings” who were consorts of a Goddess – Dionysus, Odin, Osiris, Mithras, Arthur, and a bunch of others all got synthesized into Jesus as the wave of patriarchy moved up through the Western world. Christianity was as successful as it was because they were willing to commit genocide everywhere they went.”
“My head is spinning. That’s like what they did to the Indians!”
“They did it everywhere they went. Try not to let it overwhelm you, Sookie. Sometimes, when a person learns the history of it all, if can create a kind of emotional or cultural disorientation. Some people have trouble adjusting to seeing our culture in a new light, but you’ll get it in perspective pretty quickly, I’ll bet. You’ve got Eric to help you stay grounded. I know that at first it’s like finding out about The Matrix.”
“I never saw that movie – should I?”
“It wouldn’t hurt.”
“Does this mean Jesus wasn’t really the son of “god?””
“We’re all children of the Goddess. Jesus was a great teacher. He may have been divine, or he may not, but you have to dig deep to find out what he really taught. A lot of his best stuff was left out of the bible.”
“Huh? Who did that?”
“The Church went through all the texts several times and eliminated the stuff that didn’t support their world view. It’s been edited, rewritten, whole books left out. Most of the stuff people think they know about Jesus has nothing to do with the real person, if he really existed. He’s not mentioned in any of the contemporary texts from that area, and all the texts attributed to him were written well after his death, or ascension, whichever.”
“But I always felt like I had a personal connection…”
“You do, Sweetie, but what you’re connected to just might not have the name or gender you’ve been taught to picture. Jesus, Isis, son of “god,” Queen of Heaven – these are all aspects of the Divine Source and She’s the total sum of all the others and us, too. She hears your prayers no matter what name you use to call on Her.”
“She’s not jealous?”
“No, She’s our Mother. She loves us unconditionally. She may get sad, or even angry, at what we do, but She never stops loving us. There’s no concept of sin, or damnation. You don’t need to be saved. What you send out comes back to you, it’s as simple as that.”
“Where do we go when we die?”
“To the Summerland, which is basically back to the Source. If we’re between incarnations, we see family, friends, decide whether to come back or whether to move on.”
“You believe that or you know that?”
“I believe that. All any of us can do is make an educated guess. They’ve done studies recently that indicate that consciousness is non-local to the brain…”
“Non-local? Not located there?”
“Right – consciousness continues even when the brain can be confirmed to have stopped temporarily. When some people have been revived, they’ve found that they knew things that happened while the brain was not functioning, so the brain couldn’t have recorded it. A Dutch doctor named Pim Van Lommel has been studying it for years. Of course, it’s impossible to know for sure what happens when you die until you actually die. Any theory or religion might be right, or none of them, or all of them. All we can do is make educated guesses and do the best we can.”
“I know people that are absolutely convinced they’re going to heaven.”
“They might be right, or they might be wrong. You can be pretty sure there’s no eternal damnation, though, because that was added to the books later on to scare people into converting.”
“That part I know – “the wages of sin is death” – you just don’t get called to go to heaven.”
“Did you know that at one point, Christians believed in reincarnation?”
“No – really?”
“Yeah, the belief changed a lot after Paul got involved, then it turned into something completely different once the church was established. Then the King James interpreters did a huge number on it.”
“Our church always made a point to say that the King James bible was the direct word of “god.””
“A lot of people believe that. They claim “he” acted through the interpreters to get it the way “he” wanted it. Of course, the people that claim that usually don’t know the whole history of the bible. I wonder how they’d feel if they knew how far from Jesus’ teachings it really is.”
“Honestly, I remember somebody comparing the King James to another interpretation somebody had and it just made people mad. They said “if it’s been right all this time, why change it?””
“The irony of that is that it was changed all through history, so technically, it hasn’t been right, they just thought it was.”
“So, are Witches anti-Christian?”
“No. Goddess worship is much older, of course, so we’re not “anti” anything, really, we’re more positive about things. We aren’t crazy about the church as an institution because of its history of violence against Pagans, or its current scandals where children are violated, but most of us have no problem with Jesus, though some doubt his existence. Some theories even say he was one of us.”
“Yeah, there’s a theory that he was an initiate of the Egyptian Mysteries. If you dropped the man as he’s described when/if he existed into the world today, he’d have more in common with me than your average person who calls themselves a Christian.”
“I was always taught he was about forgiveness.”
“That’s closer to the truth. There are churches, of course, that take a more tolerant approach to spirituality and we have no conflict with them at all. Some of them don’t even believe in original sin.”
“Wiccans don’t though, right?”
“No, the Adam and Eve myth is designed to subjugate women. Notice it’s the Goddess and the snake again. The two types of religion existed side by side for centuries, then once the Abrahamites took over by violence, they redefined everything Goddess-related as evil. The apple was one of the Goddess’s sacred fruits, so that was used as the symbol for the “fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” That’s really just another way of saying they wanted women out of power and out of the church. The book will explain it better than I can.”
“Yeah, I’ve got a lot of reading to do. So, when do I learn to do magick?”
“Some of those books are about magick. You need a little background in history, or rather Herstory, so you know the source of your power, but that’s just two of the books to start out. The others are specifically magick.”
“Cool. OK, now, how does Freyja relate to the Great Goddess?”
“OK, the Great Goddess is the ultimate source of everything that is, was, ever was, ever will be. Everything that exists is a part of Her all encompassing body. Freyja is an aspect of the Goddess – a part of Her that is oriented to Scandinavian culture, so She has specific strengths, weaknesses, qualities, correspondences that are more relevant to her than to a Mediterranean or an American Goddess, for example…”
“There are American Goddesses?”
“Yes, there are many Goddesses among the indigenous people of the Americas. One of them, Tonantzín, is still worshipped as the Virgin of Guadalupe. There are Native American Goddesses like White Buffalo Calf Woman and Ananzi, the Spider Grandmother. Some modern Wiccans identify Lady Liberty as our own Goddess of the US. Every culture on earth will have a divine Mother if you go back to their origins. Some lost them along the way, or turned them into males, but in the beginning, there is, and always will be, Goddess.”
“So a specific Goddess is a part of the bigger Goddess and has some limitations, but it’s all connected?”
“Exactly. By the way, in about eight weeks, you can meet my teacher, Octavia!”
“She’ll really lay it all out for you. Try to read as much as you can between now and then, OK? She’s planning to spend July 4th with us.”
“Yeah, I will. Oh, and I checked with Gran, she’s cool with you staying with her for a bit.”
“Great! I was thinking about coming up on Saturday, the 20th.”
“I’ll let her know and I’ll email you the address and directions.”
“Fantastic. I’m looking forward to sitting down and going over the books with you!”
“Me, too. I have so many questions!”
“Those books will go a long way toward answering them, but Octavia and I will fill in where we need to.”
“OK, well, thanks for talking to me! I think Eric wants to introduce me to people now.”
“OK, Hon, have fun and stay in touch.”
“I will! Thanks!”
“Ready to go out front, Dearest? It’s almost 7:30”
“Yeah, just let me check my hair and makeup.” She got up and looked in the mirror over the couch, making a minor adjustment to her hair and announcing, “OK, I’m ready,” as she threw her book on the couch.
Eric held the door open and let her walk ahead of him. He guided her down the hall and into the main room of the club, where the staff was waiting in front of the stage Eric’s throne sat on. He helped Sookie step up next to his chair and called the room to attention. “Good evening, everyone! Some of you might have heard my wonderful news, that I have bonded and become engaged to Miss Sookie Stackhouse,” he held his hand toward her, palm up presenting her and the small crowd applauded a bit and Sookie waved at them. “Some of you might have heard, as well, that Sookie is carrying my child. As impossible as it seems, it is true. I am going to have a son.”
Everyone looked at each other with jaws dropped and eyes wide.
“He will be a child of magick.”
You could hear people say “Ohhh” and “amazing” and other things as they digested the news that magick had made it possible for their Master to have a child.
“Now, I want you all to remember that Sookie is your Mistress, and her word is law here. When you serve her, you are serving me and you will behave and respond accordingly, understood?”
“Yes, Master!” They all responded nearly at once. Sookie was just a little freaked out by it.
“That is all – you may go about your work.” He motioned for Sookie to sit next to him and held her hand as the employees formed a line in front of them. Sookie spent the next 15 minutes smiling, nodding and saying ‘thank you’ as the collection of vampires, Weres and a few odd (very odd!) humans filed past saying, “Welcome, Mistress,” “Congratulations,” and other greetings and well wishes.
When the crowd abated, Eric asked her, “that wasn’t so bad, was it?”
“I guess not. What do we do now?”
“We chat, we watch the action in the room, we greet visitors or those who seek my help.”
“OK, so I think I got us up to date in that steno pad you left for me.”
“Yeah, and I should hardly be pregnant at all, but as near as I can figure, I’m the equivalent of about 2 months pregnant.”
“I’ll leave those calculations to you women. Just remember that because magick is involved, things may not go in the normal way.”
“Yeah, I got that. You know what’s weird, though?”
“What is that?” He perked up because he was resisting the urge to grill her about every sensation she experienced from the pregnancy.
“When I’m lying in the sun, I swear I can see him in my mind, floating inside me, sucking his tiny thumb. And, I swear, this isn’t my imagination because it’s happened like three times already, he likes it when I talk or even think about the Goddess.”
Eric smiled proudly. “I hope that is a sign that he knows Freyja well. It would be a great honor if She were to favor him.”
“That makes sense, I guess, since She made him possible.”
A thin vampire man in a very nice grey suit approached the stage then and Eric motioned for him to approach.
“Hello, Sheriff Northman?”
“Yes, I am the Sheriff.”
“I am Louis van Kamp. I notified you that I would be relocating to Area 5?”
“Yes, I received it. Are you settled here now?”
“Yes, Sheriff and my business will be opening on the 15th.”
“Alright, your tribute will be pro-rated to account for the mid-month opening.”
“Thank you, Sheriff. You might be receiving applications from several of my former neighbors.”
“You’re from Area 3, yes?”
“Yes, there are… some problems in the area that… well, some of the business people are looking to move on because of changes in tribute.”
“Changes in tribute? Are you paying more than 10%?”
“Yes, Sheriff, some are being asked to pay 15.”
“Interesting. If you should speak to any of your old neighbors, encourage them to stay in this territory. Have them come directly to me about locating here in Area 5 if they aren’t comfortable going to Sheriff Maxwell. I’ll take it upon myself to notify the Queen’s offices. If you have any further problems, feel free to come to me.”
“Thank you, Sheriff, I know they’ll appreciate your help.”
“Keep me apprised of the situation, alright?”
“Yes, Sheriff. Congratulations on your engagement, Miss…?”
“Allow me to introduce my fiancée, Miss Sookie Stackhouse.”
“Very pleased to meet you, Miss Stackhouse.”
Sookie gave him a big warm smile. “It’s nice to meet you, too. I hope you like it here in Area 5.”
The man’s eyes brightened because he hadn’t expected such a friendly greeting. “Thank you, Mistress, I’m sure I will. Thank you for your time, Sheriff.” The little man nodded and walked back out to the bar in front and ordered a True Blood.
“Is that going to be a problem, Eric?”
“Not for us. It appears Sabrina might be doing something behind the Queen’s back, which is never a good idea. I’ll have to keep an eye on the situation and let Sophie Ann know if there are irregularities.”
“Is that your job – to report on another Sheriff?”
“It is my job to protect my Queen and her interests. If someone is stealing from her, or misrepresenting her, I have an obligation to inform her and defend her.”
“Could Sophie Ann keep us from getting married?”
“No, that would constitute interfering with our bond and the Council would never allow that.”
“The Global Council that governs all Supes.”
“So it includes all kinds of Supes?”
“Yes, Vampires, Fae, Weres and Shifters, Witches and Wizards occasionally, Seers, Priestesses, Angels…”
“So that’s the ultimate ruling power for Supes?”
“No, the ultimate is the Living Pantheon. The Council answers to them and only to them.”
“Are people elected to the Council?”
“No, they are invited by the sitting body, sometimes at the recommendation of the Living Pantheon.”
“Pantheon is gods and Goddesses, right?”
“Exactly – it’s made up of those who still exist.”
“So Freyja is one of Them?”
“Could She take you away from me?”
“No, nor would She want to. That is the opposite of Her plan as I understand it.”
“The opposite? So She gave you to me?”
“She incarnated as you to be with me.”
“So She gave me to you?”
“Yes, because you are She.”
“And me being with you is Her being with you?”
“Do I have any say in it?”
“You’ll have to ask Amelia about that. That’s why I initially contacted her.”
“So you don’t know what the rules are?”
“In a manner of speaking, no, I don’t know exactly how it works. I know Her intention, but I don’t know the limitations.”
“I’d like to know that, too.”
“You and Amelia will explore that, I’m sure, and perhaps you’ll ask Freyja Herself.”
“You really think that might be possible?”
“I would be very surprised if you don’t begin communicating with Her directly sometime before the baby is born.”
“I would really like that. I have a lot of questions for Her!”
Pam stepped inside the door to the room and pointed a man in a black and grey uniform toward the dais. The man had a large envelope in his hands and he approached Eric, saying, “Sheriff Northman?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Special Delivery from Anubis Airlines. I need your signature to acknowledge receipt.” He handed a brown clipboard to Eric and Eric signed where he indicated.
Eric made a slight motion with two fingers to the bar at the side of the room and the barmaid came rushing over to him. “Yes, Master?”
“Take $20.00 from the cash register and give it to this man as a tip, then tell Pam to record it.”
The man thanked Eric and went back to the bar with the girl to get his tip. Eric sniffed the envelope then tore it open. It turned out to be a collection of maps and registries for the Nevada territories with a cryptic cover letter that bore the seal of the Global Council. All it said was “Confidential: for future reference.”
Eric didn’t say anything, but he slipped the papers back into the envelope and told Sookie, “come with me, Sweetheart,” offering his hand and leading her back to his office.
Once they were inside he locked the door to his office and buzzed the front. “Yes, Master.”
“I’ll be in my office for a bit, but if anyone needs to speak to me on official business, buzz me.”
He motioned for Sookie to be quiet. “Come with me,” he said softly and opened a door behind his desk to the left that led to stairs going down. He motioned for Sookie to go downstairs, and he followed, closing the door behind them. There was the big round bed – damn! – but Eric still had the envelope with him and Sookie knew they weren’t down here for sex.
“Come sit down, Sookie.” Eric led her to the bed and sat down and she sat with him.
“What’s going on, Eric?”
“This package is very strange. I wanted to talk somewhere I was sure there would be no listening devices.”
“What is it?”
“It’s the registry and maps of a different Territory and it has the official seal of the Council on it.”
“What’s a registry?”
“A list of the people who live there, their positions and the tribute they pay.”
“But it’s for a different area?”
“Yes. It’s for the Nevada Territories.”
“Why would you need that?”
“Exactly. Why would I?”
“What do you think is going on?”
“Sookie, we are bonded. I’m going to be honest with you and I need to know that you will not tell a soul what I’m going to say.”
“Yeah, of course, Eric.”
“I suspect the Nevadas are about to invade the Louisiana Territories and someone wants me to have what I need to strike back and follow them home.”
“So, like, their king is going to go after Sophie Ann?”
“That would be my guess, and I’m either supposed to stop them, or drive them back and take over both.”
“How would you do that?”
“I’m not sure. If Sophie Ann were attacked, her subjects would rise up against an invader, but that wouldn’t require knowing anything about the Nevadas. I only need this if I’m to invade that Territory.”
“Do you think she knows she’s in danger?”
“No, I’m sure she has no idea, or she’d have told me.”
“Is there any way to find out what the plan is?”
“I have to think about that. I have to think about what this means.”
“Why didn’t they send this to Sophie Ann?”
“Exactly – why didn’t they?”
“Do they not want her to win?”
“It would appear the Council expects me to stop it, or to step into her place, and move against the Nevadas as well. I assume they have a King or Queen in mind for that Territory, but then again, why would I need the registry if that were the case.”
“Is this going to happen soon?”
“It could happen tonight, it could happen 3 years from now. When it does, they want me to be ready.”
“Is there anyone you can ask about this?”
“I might be able to ask the Ancient Pythoness. She’ll either tell me nothing or she’ll give me a riddle – she rarely says things plainly.”
“Well, a riddle would be better than no clue at all, right?”