Entitlement Chapter 014

Trigger WARNING: The topic of Uncle Bartlett makes a brief appearance, so if that’s a trigger for you, stop reading when Bobbie goes to bed.]

Part 14 At First Sight

 

Sookie was on her knees, again, on the floor of the bathroom. This last week had been a rough one where the pregnancy was concerned. The morning sickness was pretty severe for weeks 2 through 4, then subsided for most of week 5, but this week, number 6, it was back with a vengeance, hitting her right around 4:30 every afternoon. She had gotten to the point where she couldn’t even be in the room with a fried egg or a glass of orange juice, or, as of this week, a bowl of oatmeal. “Breakfast” was usually a small rare steak, or nitrate-free BLTs which she was eating 4 or 5 of at a time. Ginger ale didn’t seem to help but she could manage to keep down some Diet Rite cola if it was really cold and she sipped it slowly. She rarely ate at 6 anymore, but by 8 in the evening most nights she was ravenous and ate like a field hand. Margaret was staying later, making three dinners every night, leaving two that Eric could feed her after she left.

When she was nauseous, Sookie spent a lot of time in the afternoons just lying in bed, watching movies and staring at her tummy, trying to decide if she was showing or getting fat from eating so much at night. It seemed as if it was way too soon, but all the new bulk was in that little tummy area so she had to admit that it was Baby E making his presence known already. Dr. Ludwig estimated, based on Sookie’s weight gain and the size of her tummy, that this would be a 24-week pregnancy. Sookie looked at the little pocket calendar that Alicia bought for her and looked at the circled date: Halloween. Gran shook her head and Amelia was tickled to death when the doctor suggested that date as the target. Sookie had a feeling it was all a part of the “master plan,” and that irritated her in a way she couldn’t explain.

Shouldn’t she have been consulted before all of this happened? One day, she’s waiting tables and the next day she’s living in a mansion and throwing up half the day. Eric had concluded that he wasn’t consulted so he wouldn’t have a chance to say ‘no’ but was that true of Sookie, too? Did it matter?

Actually, when she was throwing up, it all seemed to matter. She knew this wouldn’t last for the whole pregnancy, but the cool surface of the bathroom floor was not conducive to keeping things in perspective.

“Sookie, honey, can I get you anything else?” Adele asked anxiously from the door.

“Thanks, Gran, this soda is enough as long as the ice lasts. Is Amelia out there?”

“Right here, Sweetie.”

“Can you help me get back to bed? I think I’m done.” Amelia helped steady Sookie as she struggled to stand, stopping at the sink to rinse her mouth and wipe her face.

Gran wet a washcloth with cold water as Amelia tucked Sookie in, folding it and laying it on her forehead once she was settled. Alicia brought the glass of soda with a hot-pink bending straw and put it on her nightstand. “Just sip it slowly, Dear, and when the ice melts, I’ll bring more.” Alicia said as she went back to putting Sookie’s laundry away.

“Thanks, everybody. I’m sorry to be so much trouble!”

“Now, now, Sweetheart, don’t you, worry about that,” Adele told her, “just keep thinking about how wonderful it’s going to feel when you hold that little baby in your arms.”

“Were you this sick when you had babies, Gran?”

“No, Darlin,’ I wasn’t, but your mother was sick as a dog with you and your brother.”

“How long did it last, again?”

“About five months, as I recall. She always said she knew she was over the hump when she stopped throwing up every day.”

“I can’t do this that long!”

“It won’t last that long, Sookie,” Amelia assured her, “this has been shorter and shorter every day. It’s only about 6 now – almost time for Eric!”

“Oh, good. I’m just glad the wedding has to be after dark because if it was in the daytime, I’d never make it.”

“Think about how nice that’s going to be Sookie,” Amelia reminded her, “all your friends and family will be there, and you’re not showing so much that you can’t get into your dress!”

“Yeah, that’s major. The last thing I wanted to do is walk down the aisle with a huge baby bump.”

“You know, most of your side won’t know you’re pregnant, Sookie,” Gran hoped, anyway.

“Yeah, but they’ll find out. Even though the dress kind of hides it, all of Eric’s guests know and I’m sure they’ll say something that gives it away.”

“I’ve been thinking, Honey, that it might be time to tell Jason,” Gran gently broached the subject.

“He hasn’t figured it out yet?” Amelia was sure he would have known by now.

“If he has, he hasn’t said anything, and I’m pretty sure he’ll have something to say,” Gran was sure of that.

“Jason’s not the brightest bulb in the box, ya know?” Sookie said, trying to laugh.

“Has Hadley said anything about her bridesmaid dress?” Gran wondered

“No, but I know she tried on the one I picked and she ordered one, so I guess she’s OK with it.” Sookie didn’t really care if Hadley showed up or not, but she was sure she would because Sophie Ann had RSVP’d with twenty guests.

“Do you have your dress yet, Amelia?” Sookie couldn’t remember what she told her.

“I pick it up tomorrow, Darlin’ and Adele’s too. We’re all set.”

“OK, now what is it you and Gran have been putting off telling me?” Sookie demanded, “and don’t say nothing because I know there is something.”

“Well, Sweetie, there’s been a little… interest… from the tabloids,” Amelia tried to break it gently.

“Tabloids?”

“They don’t seem to know for sure, but they’re snooping around,” Gran explained.

“About what?”

“The first vampire baby in recorded history,” Amelia finally spilled it.

“Please tell me it’s not going to be a zoo?” Sookie wailed.

“Alicia, has Eric said anything yet?” Adele asked.

“Yes, he has a special security firm engaged. No one who isn’t invited will get within a mile of the house. Everyone is going to have to go through a gate, park at Mr. Compton’s house and walk through the cemetery to get to the wedding,” Alicia explained.

“They’re parking at Bill’s house? Whose idea was that?” Sookie asked

“Mine,” Eric laughed from the doorway.

“ERIC!” Sookie motioned, wanting a hug right this second.

He sat on his side of the bed and gave her a big hug. “How is my darling wife-to-be tonight?”

“Ugh – sick.”

“But doing better than you have been at this time lately,” Amelia reinforced the point with her.

“True, you are not in the bathroom as you have been recently when I arrive,” Eric agreed.

“OK, now that Eric is up, we’re going to head out,” Amelia said as she and Adele nodded at each other.

“Are you all sure you don’t want to stay another night?” Sookie asked hopefully

“Nope, you need some time with just you and Eric. You kids are going to enjoy your weekend, and then come Monday, Project Awesome Wedding goes into effect,” Amelia laughed.

“Yes, and we have a lot to do this weekend to get ready. We’re making favors for the guests and centerpieces for the tables,” Gran reminded her. “You wouldn’t believe what they’re going to have in them!

“Well, be careful driving home!” Sookie gave them both hugs and kisses as they said goodbye and made their way out to the car.

“I’ll see them out,” Alicia said, leaving Eric and Sookie alone for a bit.

“Is it true what they said about tabloids, Eric?”

“Yes, it is, but the security firm I have engaged should be able to ensure our privacy.”

“I’m sorry you have to go to all that expense, though!”

“Don’t worry about small things like that, Sookie. Your only concern is taking care of you and the baby. Do you think you can eat?”

“No, not yet. I’m sorry.”

“Stop apologizing, Dear One. Whatever is comfortable for you is fine.”

“Look,” she pulled the covers down and her nightgown up, patting her belly. “He gets bigger every day!”

“Yes, he does. What a lucky boy to have such a lovely warm nest to grow in,” he bent down and kissed her belly.

“I feel so much better when you’re here, Eric, I can’t even tell you!”

“Good. It’s nice to come home to someone who looks forward to seeing me.”

“You have no idea – though you’re lucky you get to miss most of the nausea,” she laughed as she reached for the soda to take a sip.

“Is that helping your tummy?”

“Yeah, definitely, but only if it’s really cold. Hey, don’t let me forget my midnight bottle of True Blood tonight – we forgot last night and Baby E was hungry.”

“How do you know that?” he laughed, but he was serious in wanting to know. He was keeping notes, too, because Sookie wasn’t doing enough of it.

“Oh, he lets me know when he wants me to eat – he wakes up really fussy if I forget to eat late at night.”

“How do you know this, Sookie?”

“I can feel… it in the bond, I guess? I just know how he feels when he’s awake. I’ll tell you something else, too – I don’t think one bottle a day is enough for him. I swear he wants one right now.”

“Do you think you could keep it down if you tried?”

“Let’s find out, because he’s not going to let up.”

“What is he doing, exactly, Sweetheart?”

“You can’t feel that?”

“Feel what?”

“That pulling or wanting that’s in the bond. Here, put your hand here and concentrate.” Sookie put his hand on her stomach and held it there. “Say hi to Daddy, Baby E! Talk to him, Eric.”

“Isn’t it too early for that?”

“Not if my calculations are correct. Talk to him.”

“How are you feeling, my son?” Eric felt strange about talking to Sookie’s belly but quickly got over it when he was rewarded with a kick and a sensation in the bond he’d never felt before. He laughed with delight as the baby responded to him.

“You felt that, right?”

“Yes, I did! That’s amazing! Are you happy, my boy?”

Kick – kick – WANT

“You are right, Sookie – he’s hungry.”

“Right, so get me a blood, please? Actually, bring a few of them because I think I’m going to need more than one tonight.”

“I’ll be right back,” he zipped downstairs to the kitchen and got five bottles of True Blood. “Here you go, Sookie, I’ll put these in your little fridge over here in case you want more.”

“Thank you. I’m so glad we got that little fridge. I never saw one that size before – I’m so glad Alicia knew they existed,” Sookie laughed. “I’ve only ever seen the real tiny dorm-room sized ones.”

“Yes, it’s very useful for your late night meals,” he agreed as he opened one of the bottles and put a straw in it.

Sookie took the bottle and sucked it down in no time at all. “Ah – that’s good. Can I have another one, please?”

“Yes, of course, you can.” Eric took another bottle out of the fridge and opened it for her. She drank about half of it straight down, then sipped the rest.

“Sookie, where is your steno pad?”

“Check the pink bag hanging on the chair there, Sweetie,” she said as she settled back and tried to get comfortable.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Northman?”

“Come on in, Alicia,”

“I just unpacked some of the boxes we got today and this wedge I ordered for you arrived.”

“Oh, yeah, great!”

“What is that?” Eric asked

“It should help her breathe better when she sleeps. She’s been snoring a bit, which is not unusual at this stage of pregnancy.”

Eric sat at the side table and opened Sookie’s laptop. “What stage do we think she’s at now?”

“We were thinking it’s the equivalent of 18 weeks, right Alicia?”

“That seems about right.” Alicia helped Sookie get settled and went down to see about her dinner.

Eric found the browser Sookie had open to the What to Expect website for 18 weeks and read through it. “The only symptoms you seem to be having are the larger belly, larger breasts and nasal congestion, yes?”

“The back problems are starting, too, but yeah, Amelia and I think that drinking from you so often is preventing things like bleeding gums and vein problems.”

“Your skin is flawless, too. That seems a great advantage.”

“Absolutely. I can definitely live without varicose veins or hemorrhoids,” she made a silly face that made him laugh as his phone rang.

Eric went around the bed to his nightstand and picked it up. “Yes, Dr. Ludwig?”

“I need to do a check up on your little fiancée and I need to know if you’ll be at your home at 8 PM tonight?”

“We are both available any time tonight. We have no plans to go out.”

“Good. You have an interview with a masseuse Niall recommended at 8. She’s got impressive credentials for a human.”

“You’ve spoken to her?”

“Yes, and she knows about vampires and Fae.”

“That would be a great advantage.”

“Ideal for what you need and I’ve checked her references. She has experience with treating two kinds of patients – depressed Supernaturals and pregnant females or new mothers of several orders.”

“That’s an unusual combination.”

“It has to do with the specialized aromatherapy she does – those particular conditions respond dramatically to the right scents and massage techniques. Her work is groundbreaking – why she hasn’t published, I don’t know, but you won’t find many individuals of any stripe with her combination of skills. Niall pulled a few strings to get her to your door, so unless you take a real dislike to her, I’d say you should hire her. Sookie will be getting uncomfortable soon and proper massage will help her a great deal with that. This is a lot of change for her little body in such a short span of time.”

“What is her name?”

“Roberta James. You talk to her and then I’ll see you at 10 tonight in your room to check on her progress.”

“Alright, we’ll be here. Thank you, Doctor.”

Sookie looked at him expectantly.

“We’re going to be interviewing a masseuse at 8 pm.”

“A masseuse? For me?”

“Yes, the doctor says proper massage will help your body adapt to the pregnancy. I’ve read the same thing on line. I think it’s a very good idea.”

“So it’s quarter to seven now. Should I take a shower?”

“Are you really up to that?” Eric thought she still seemed shaky.

“Not really.”

“Then stay put. I’ll bring her up here for your interview.”

“Is that rude?”

“Not at all. You are indisposed – her purpose will be to alleviate some of the discomfort you are having.”

“You’ll be here, too, right?”

“Of course, unless you’d like me to leave…”

“No way, I’ve never interviewed anyone before.”

“Well, this should be fairly simple. The doctor has spoken to her and is very pleased with her skills. She said unless you really dislike her we should hire her.”

“Where did she find this person?”

“Niall found her,” he said as he went back to the computer.

“What if she’s here to check up on us?”

“Whether she is or not, I’m sure she’ll be very skilled. Niall has a lot invested in this child.”

“Invested? As in money?”

“I doubt that money is changing hands, but there is a great deal of political maneuvering going on. There’s no doubt in my mind that he wants to ensure that the child is healthy. He wouldn’t recommend her unless he thought she would help you.”

“You’re sure of that?”

“Yes, I am. As devious as he might be, he’ll protect you and he’ll protect our child.”

“What are you looking for now?”

“Dr. Ludwig said she practices something called “aromatherapy.””

“What’s that?”

“”Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that uses volatile plant materials, known as essential oils and other aromatic compounds for the purpose of altering a person’s mood, cognitive function or health. The effectiveness of aromatherapy is yet to be scientifically proven, however some evidence exists that essential oils may have therapeutic potential.””

“Where’d you find that?”

“Wikipedia.”

“OK, so it’s something new?”

“Non-traditional, at least. Ask her about it. The doctor said some of her work is ground-breaking.”

“What’s her name?”

“Roberta James.”

“She sounds very serious.”

“Try to keep an open mind.”

“OK – how bad do I look?”

“You look fine, Sookie. No one would believe you had been sick today. You’re a little bit pale, that’s all.”

“That I can believe. I haven’t had a pool day in a week.”

“You’ll be back in the pool soon. You are approaching the time in your pregnancy where the morning sickness will stop.”

“I hope you’re right. I’ve heard of some women who are sick the whole time.”

“You won’t be one of them – you’re too healthy and you are drinking my blood.”

“Yeah, that’s one of the best parts,” she giggled.

“Oh, is it now?” He wiggled his eyebrows at her.

“Yes, especially because of what we’re doing when we do it,” she laughed. “You know, I think being pregnant is making me…” she nodded her head and looked up as if she were trying to find a word.

“Aroused?”

“Yeah. Is that possible?”

“Let me see…” he did something on the computer she couldn’t see.

“Where are you looking?”

“Pregnancy A-Z on that same website. Here we are – “increased Sex Drive During Pregnancy” – it says every woman is different and that some do experience an increase even beyond what their mates would want. You won’t have that problem,” he laughed.

“Oh, yeah?”

“Your mate will always want sex as much as you do. I can go on indefinitely while the sun is down.”

“That’s good to know because these days, when I’m not nauseous, I’m… horny.”

Eric cracked up. “When did you start using such coarse language?”

“I don’t know but in this case, the word fits. It’s like my whole being is centered right between my legs. It’s all I think about unless I’m sick.”

“Mmm – we’ll be sure to make the most of that while it lasts.”

“Good. I’m glad you don’t have to go to the club tonight.”

“So am I. I’m concerned about leaving you alone tomorrow night, though.”

“Yeah, but if I feel this way, you’re going to have to. There’s no way I could get myself together to go out tonight.”

“Knock, knock?”

“Come on up, Alicia,”

“Do you think you can eat some now, Dear?”

“I can try – what have you got?”

“Well, we thought we’d try a different approach, so you’ve got fried chicken and mashed potatoes with broccoli and a big piece of strawberry cake.” Alicia waited at the foot of the bed until Eric helped Sookie sit up more.

“Strawberry cake?”

“I never heard of it, either, but I had a piece downstairs and it’s delicious. It has walnuts in it and big hunks of berry.” She settled the tray across Sookie’s lap.

“And I get fried chicken? That rocks!”

“We thought that the bland food didn’t seem to be working so we’re trying some of your favorites. I just hope you can keep it down.”

“Me, too. It smells so good!”

“Well, there’s more of it, so you dig in and if you want more, I’ll be glad to get it for you.”

“Thank you so much! Tell Margaret ‘thanks,’ too.” Sookie tore into a big fried chicken breast like she was starving, because she was. As soon as the nausea faded, her appetites – all of them – became fierce. “I need to be done by 8, though, because this lady is coming for an interview.”

“Oh?”

“Yes, Sookie’s doctor is sending a masseuse over to see if they can work together,” Eric explained because Sookie’s mouth was full.

“That’s a marvelous idea!”

“It is?” Sookie asked

“Oh, yes – that will make you feel much better. Imagine having a massage down by the pool after a nice swim.”

“That does sound pretty good,” Sookie laughed.

The doorbell rang.

“Oh, no – she’s early!” Sookie was worried about eating in front of her.

“Don’t you worry a bit – she’ll understand that you’ve been ill if she knows anything about pregnant women,” Alicia assured her.

“I hope so.”

“You keep eating Sookie and I’ll go down and explain the situation, then I’ll bring her up,” Eric said.

“I hear Margaret taking her into the living room,” Alicia told him.

“Yes, I’ll be right back,” Eric excused himself and went down to the living room. Alicia straightened up the room a little, just to make Sookie more comfortable with having someone in there, though there wasn’t much out of place.

Eric came into the living room where the masseuse was sitting on the couch with a big black bag that had a pungent-but-pleasant amalgam of scents to it. She was about medium height, pretty, a little plump, but not too much, with long, dark, wavy/curly hair and a big smile. She had a gentle hippie vibe that Eric knew Sookie would love.

“Ms. James? I’m Eric Northman.” He offered his hand, which surprised her because most vamps wouldn’t, but she shook it enthusiastically.

“Please, call me Bobbie. You’re Sheriff Northman, right?”

“Yes, I am. My fiancée has been ill this afternoon and is in bed trying to eat dinner. Would you mind going up to her room?”

“Not a bit. Lead the way.”

Eric led her back to the staircase, noticing that there was a tiny jingle from some silver decorations on the drawstring waist of her gauzy purple Indian print skirt. She was wearing a loose denim jacket and a simple purple t-shirt with a scoop neck underneath it. Eric was smiling to himself because he knew Sookie was expecting someone more severe and serious. His intuition was humming.

“Right this way, Bobbie.”

Alicia was just coming out of the room, so Eric introduced her as Sookie’s lady’s maid, then let her enter the room before him.

Sookie was shocked and delighted – this girl looked like someone you’d go to a Counting Crows concert with, not like a medical person.

Eric tried not to laugh out loud at the joy Sookie sent into the bond when she walked into the room. “Sookie Stackhouse, soon to be Sookie Northman, this is Bobbie James.”

“Hi, Bobbie!” Sookie offered her hand, “I’m so sorry I couldn’t come downstairs. Would you like some fried chicken? There’s plenty of it.”

“Oh, no, thanks, I’ve already eaten.” Bobbie grabbed a side chair and sat it right next to Sookie so she could check her out while they talked. “So, I hear you’re having some nausea?”

“Yeah, it’s been pretty severe from about 4:30 every day until about 7 or 8, then around this time I get super hungry.”

“How far along are you?”

“Well, you know that there’s some unusual circumstances, right?”

“Yes, he’s a vampire/Fae hybrid, right?”

“Right and they’re not sure how it’s going to work, but here’s what I think. I’m pretty sure I’m 6 weeks along, but that I’m the equivalent of an 18 week pregnancy.”

“OK, so Mid-second trimester?”

“Yeah,”

“Has the nausea been tapering off a bit recently?”

“Yeah, I was really sick for the first 5 weeks, then I was OK for a week and able to float in the pool and stuff and then this last week I got really sick again but my friend Amelia says it’s been less and less every day.”

“That’s a good sign. You’ll probably be over that in the next few days and you’ll be able to function again. We can do a little Aromatherapy to make it a little easier to bear, too. Would it be OK if I looked at your legs?”

“Sure, I’ll hold the tray up and you pull the covers, OK?”

“OK,” Bobbie gave her a big smile and uncovered Sookie’s legs, then let her put the tray back down so she could keep eating. Bobbie pressed on Sookie’s legs a bit and frowned a little. “You’ve got a bit of swelling here, so we want to address that right away. The last thing you want is blood pooling in your legs – that’s how you form blood clots. Even if you don’t decide to hire me, I’d like to work on that before I leave tonight. If you catch it early, you can keep it from becoming a problem.”

“Oh, OK. What would you need for that?”

“Well, I don’t have my table with me, but I do have my oils. I can do your legs right here. Go ahead and finish your dinner and we’ll talk some more and when you’re done, we’ll give you some massage.”

“OK, cool. What exactly is “aromatherapy?””

“It’s massage that’s done with small amounts of certain essential oils – usually oils from flowers or herbs – mixed into a carrier oil – I like peanut oil, unless you’re allergic – that are chosen because they have properties that heal or soothe a specific problem. Choosing the right oils is the key, especially where a pregnant woman is concerned. There are some commonly used scents, like jasmine, cypress, cinnamon and cloves, that shouldn’t be used in the first trimester. Did the doctor tell you to avoid lemon?”

“Yes, she did.”

“OK, good. That’s one we would normally use for a human pregnancy, but in your case, we won’t use any of the citrus oils at all, because we can’t be too careful. We’ll stick with soft, soothing scents like sandalwood and rosewood, if you can handle them. We’ll have to keep in mind that what works great one day might make you nauseous the next.”

“Really?”

“Yes, those pregnancy hormones are volatile and they effect every woman differently. Think of it as an adventure,” she laughed.

Sookie liked that. “In my case, some of the problems are eased by the fact that I feed from Eric almost every day.”

“Really – tell me about that?”

“Well, my skin is perfect, I don’t have any veins bulging or bleeding gums or digestive problems so far – knock wood – It’s mostly just my back hurting and my maid says I snore now.”

“That probably won’t last long. It’s normal for your membranes to become sensitive and swollen around this time. The back pain is going to be rough. Dr. Ludwig said your body is changing 2 to 3 times faster than normal. An average pregnancy is hard on the body. Yours is going to be extremely challenging, but that’s why I’m here. We can make you a lot more comfortable and help your body relax and keep your muscles warm and loose so they don’t fight the changes. Did you say you have a pool?”

“Yes, we do.”

“Are you interested in water aerobics at all?”

“Very much,” Eric said and Sookie looked at him. “I’ve read online that it is very effective for pregnant women.”

“Great! I can do that with you, too, as well as yoga and Pilates and other, more traditional forms of exercise.”

“Like a personal trainer?”

“Yes. I can also teach you Lamaze, infant massage for the baby and even help you out with – is it a “him” or a “her?” ”

“Him.”

“OK, help you out with him after, if need be.”

“Excuse me, Bobbie,” Eric had a question, “are you ever available in the evenings?”

“I’m available any time, day or night. I just got into town, so I don’t even have an apartment yet and I hope this would be my only job so I can treat Sookie every day.”

Sookie’s eyes got big at that and she looked at Eric.

“The reason I ask, is that a few nights a week, I need to go into the night club that I own in town, and I hesitate to leave Sookie here alone. All of the servants leave after dinner.”

“Sure, I can stay with her. Just tell me when you want me.”

“Would you be interested in living in?”

“Sure – do you have room for me?”

“The fourth floor, Eric,” Sookie and he were on the same wavelength. “Take her up and show her!”

“We have a gym, a meditation and massage room, a sauna and a guest bedroom with a bathroom on the fourth floor. I use the gym to practice with swords, but other than that, the floor is rarely used.”

“Really? Would you rent it to me?” Bobbie laughed

“No, but I might pay you to live there if you could be available for Sookie when she needs you. Would you like to see it?”

“Yeah, sure!”

“Come this way.” Eric took her up the stairs and turned the light on in the hall.

“This is gorgeous,” Bobbie couldn’t believe what she was seeing. The entire floor was done in beige and light blue and it was a masseuse’s dream. There was even a massage table and a big floor to ceiling flat Asian-design fountain in the meditation room.

“This was the first floor I had done when I moved in. I wanted to have a nice place if I needed to have anyone come to visit, but I never have. I have been known to hire a masseuse to come in and give me a massage, but they rarely want to come back when they find out I’m vampire.”

Eric pointed out the various rooms. “This is the sauna, the meditation and massage room, the guest room with a full bath. This is the gym where I work with my swords.”

“Yeah, I was told about the swords. I’ve never been in a Supe war, but I’ve heard about them. The friend that told me about this job told me what your job as Sheriff entails.”

“You are not afraid?”

“No, because you’ve got a badass reputation, but you’re taking good care of Sookie. I was told you can kick ass when you need to, but you value your privacy and your family. He said you’d take your blood bond very seriously.”

“Exactly. I do what I have to do, but my attention and loyalties are to my future wife and son. They will always come first for me.”

“I’ll be honest with you. Your family is making history. When my friend told me what was going on, I put everything I owned in my car and came to Shreveport. Sookie and the baby have some unique needs and you need someone around them who can adapt things to allow for Fae and vampire tendencies. You won’t find anybody else that can do what I can do for them – I’m a masseuse, a personal trainer and a doula all in one – and I really want to be here to see your son come into the world. Sookie is a doll and I can tell she’s a little overwhelmed. Say the word and I’m on your team with everything I’ve got.”

“Alright, when can you move in?”

“I’m here.”

“Done. The salary is $150,000 through the child’s first birthday. Half up front and you guarantee you’ll stay at least through the delivery. You get the rest at the end. Room and board, all your meals and bonuses included as long as you are available to Sookie and my son, day or night, and if we need to travel you go with us at my expense.”

“Fantastic. Let me bring a few things in, then I’ll work on her legs. We really do need to get ahead of that. She’s not getting a blood clot on my watch.”

“Alright, let’s take the elevator down and see if the gardener’s boys are still here to help you.”

They went down to the first floor and came out through the pantry.

“Mr. Northman – did Sookie like her dinner?”

“Yes, Margaret, she loved it. You met Bobbie, I take it?”

“Just briefly at the door.” Margaret gave her a big smile and a nod.

“Alright, Are Leroy and Lonnie still here?”

“Leroy is, I think – I thought I saw the light on in the servant’s quarters.”

“Good. Bobbie is going to be living in on the fourth floor. I’d like him to help her take her things upstairs in the elevator and then show her where the garage is, and after she’s going to do some bodywork on Sookie.”

“Of course, sir, I’ll have it taken care of right away.”

“Thank you, and thank you for staying so late this week.”

“My pleasure, sir. I like to make sure Miss Sookie is eating properly. Bobbie will you be seeing to her diet at night? ”

“Sure, I can do that.”

“Alright, when you get your things in the house, I’ll explain what she needs tonight and I’ll get you completely up to speed tomorrow. Alicia just took some things upstairs for later.”

“Great.”

Margaret buzzed out to the servant’s quarters and told Leroy what she needed. He was in the house as quick as could be, because he was a little afraid of Mr. Northman, and he carried Bobbie’s boxes and suitcases in from her blue ’98 Chevy Caprice, then drove it around to the servant’s garage for her.

As soon as she had everything under roof, Bobbie headed back downstairs. She had lots of time to unpack, but she needed to make a good impression on the boss right now. She had almost fainted when he mentioned the salary. She was going to make more in a year and a half than she’d made in the last 10. Claude was right – this was her dream job.

Sookie was just finishing her dinner when Bobbie came back in the room. Eric had already told Sookie she was hired and would be living in.

“Hey, Bobbie – welcome to the family!”

“Thanks. Are you ready for me to work on those legs?”

“Yep, what do you need me to do?’

“I don’t want to mess these nice sheets up, so I’m going to spread one of mine over it then you’ll just lie on your bed and I’ll put a blend together. I’m going to let you sniff each essential oil before I use it to make sure it won’t make you sick.” She took a sheet out of the bag and spread it on the bed, then she put the big black bag she had left next to their bed up on the table and started taking big bottles and little bottles and an eyedropper out of it. She took a marker and wrote Sookie’s name on a 4 ounce bottle that already had peanut oil in it, then she picked three oils for Sookie to smell. The first was sandalwood, which Sookie loved. The second, rosewood, she didn’t mind. She liked the lavender but they were only going to use a drop of it because they didn’t want it to smell too “perfume-y.” She added drops of the scented oils to the bigger bottle and shook it up, then warmed some between her palms and spread it on Sookie’s legs.

Eric was standing in the doorway watching closely in case he ever wanted to help with this. You’d think the girls had known each other forever. He’d have a background check done on Bobbie once he had her social security number, just as a formality, but he was sure Niall would have already vetted her before he recommended her. Eric didn’t worry about her spying on them because Sookie would hear it if she had any ill intent. The most important thing was that she was motivated to do a good job and Eric has offered her a very good salary to make sure she’d care very much about keeping it. He figured she might be planning to write a book about the experience or something like that, but all he cared about was seeing that Sookie and the baby had the best of care and he believed she’d be valuable to Sookie in several ways. If the two became good friends, that would be very good for Sookie, too.

“Bobbie, I hope you’re not a light sleeper. Sookie and I can be very noisy at night,” Eric warned her with a smile as he watched.

“No problem. I can always sleep with my headphones on, but honestly, I sleep like a log so I doubt I’ll ever hear it. I know you guys are newly weds, or will be, so don’t hesitate to rock the house when you feel like it. I don’t have any hang-ups in that area.” she laughed. “Is there a specific schedule we need to follow for her care?”

“Sookie is supposed to have her breakfast no later than 2 pm. After, if she’s able, she plays in the pool and reads until dinnertime. That afternoon period would probably be the best time for a workout and massage.”

“Right.”

“It will be nice to have someone to play in the pool with,” Sookie laughed.

“You’ll need to stay with her on Wednesdays and Saturdays, at least, when I go to the club, and see that we don’t forget her nighttime meals.”

“OK, I tend to be a night owl, anyway, so if she starts having a lot of pain, or sleep problems, I’ll do massages at night, too. Don’t hesitate to call me or wake me up if you need me, alright?”

“We won’t,” Eric assured her. “It will be very busy here next week because our wedding is a week from tomorrow, so I want you to keep after her to relax and to get plenty of rest.”

“You’ll come to the wedding, won’t you, Bobbie?” Sookie asked hopefully

“If you want me to, sure. You might need a little rubdown before you walk down the aisle. Where are you having it?”

“At my Grandmother’s house. It’s nothing fancy, just lots of pink and white flowers, chairs and a little arch set up in the yard, a local Cajun group, lots of shrimp and crawfish, my friends from the area, some Fae relatives I don’t even know and a bunch of vampire royalty.”

“Ooh – that sounds interesting!”

“Yeah and it’s going to be heavily guarded because the tabloids are sniffing around for information.”

“I know – I saw one of the stories at the store in the gas station on the way here.”

“You did? What did it say?”

“It was pretty generic – it just said that there was a rumor that the first vampire baby was going to be born in Louisiana, but they didn’t know any details. There was commentary from some experts saying it wasn’t possible, and from others who swore it was true and that some sort of sorcery had made it possible, one said it was the child of the devil, and there was one lady who said that the vampire father was so old that he became fertile again.”

Eric laughed out loud at that and the girls joined him.

“That gets your vote, eh, Daddy?” Sookie teased him

“Yes, it’s much more flattering than saying he’s a child of magick, though that is very special in itself.”

“Just to be clear, I was told that there was some Fae magick involved…?”

“Yes,”

“And that you are part Fae, Sookie?”

“Yes – did they tell you anything else?”

“Just that Eric was really old, though they didn’t say exactly how old, and that he’ll be the first Sheriff in the Americas to marry. That’s really exciting.”

“It is?” Sookie didn’t appreciate the magnitude of it all yet.

“Oh, yes! Some are saying it might be the first marriage of its kind in the world. Reporters are searching and searching and no one has found a married sheriff or its equivalent anywhere yet. Everyone says there must be one somewhere, but no one has proven that. They say the same thing about the baby, too.”

“Yeah, none of our sources knows of another baby like it, either, but again, they say it must have happened at some point.”

“If this is too rude, don’t answer, but is it true that you’re telepathic?”

“Yes, it is, but I try really hard to stay out of people’s heads. That seems a lot easier lately, for some reason.”

“Maybe your control of it is improving?” Bobbie suggested.

“That’s what it feels like.”

“OK, and no one would confirm or deny this, but there’s Goddess energy around this baby and around you, too, right?”

“Why do you say that?” Eric asked, very interested in how she got that impression.

“I had my cards read before I left Florida and she saw a Divine hand in all this but she said it was specifically female and that didn’t make sense to her. It made perfect sense to me because I’m a Goddess worshiper.”

Eric was thrilled with this news. He knew he had a good feeling about this woman.

“YOU ARE?” Sookie was really excited about that. “You have to meet my new friend Amelia – she’s a Witch.”

“Oh, good – I was hoping you were getting some kind of guidance about all of this.”

“She’s trying to show me the ropes. I’ve been reading a lot. Have you ever read When God was a Woman?”

“Yep, I’ve got a copy of it in one of the boxes we just took upstairs.

“Meeting Amelia and reading that book was the first time I ever really heard of the Goddess in that context. It’s such a cool idea.”

“Any idea of which Goddess is involved?”

Sookie looked at Eric, not knowing if she should say.

“Freyja,” Eric offered. “I was very devoted to Her at one point in my life, and it appears She has blessed us in some very wonderful ways.”

“OK, I’ll do some research on Freyja and we’ll see if I can find something to enhance your treatments with Her energy. I do know She loves babies.”

“Yes, She does,” Eric said fondly.

Sookie was really psyched now. “They’re going to be busy all weekend, but maybe if I’m up to it, we can drive to Bon Temps one day next week and you can meet her. She’s staying with my Gran right now.”

“How did you meet her?”

“Eric?”

“I needed some information and asked my Queen for a referral. She happened to be the landlady of one of the Queen’s paramours…”

“Who also happens to be my cousin, Hadley. She’s going to be a bridesmaid, along with this girl Kim who I worked with for a bit right when Eric and I got together. She was really cool and supportive when other people weren’t so I thought it was only fair to put her in the wedding. Eric bought her dress for her so she didn’t have to spend money on it. She cried when I asked her.”

“So your cousin and the Queen are that tight? You didn’t know?”

“I had no idea. I didn’t even know she liked girls! Eric took me to a party in New Orleans and she was there. We weren’t even sure she was alive so I was shocked to see her there.”

“Wow, that’s some coincidence.”

“It wasn’t really, it was more like coming full circle. She told the Queen about me, the Queen sent my neighbor Bill to find me, Bill took me to Fangtasia where I met Eric, and then Eric took me to a party at the Queen’s house. If it weren’t for Hadley, we’d never have met!”

“And now all of this great stuff is happening for you. That’s fantastic. Eric, do you ever do massage on Sookie?”

“Yes, I do.”

“OK, let me show you a few spots you should never massage on a pregnant woman.” Bobbie showed him spots around the ankles, behind the knees and she showed him the right way to rub her tummy without putting any pressure on it, with instructions to put a special cream on it several times a day to prevent stretch marks.

There was a buzz on the baby monitor Alicia kept on Sookie’s nightstand and they heard Alicia say, “excuse me, Mr. Northman?”

“Press the button, Sookie,” she did, then “Yes, Alicia?”

“Do you need Margaret, Leroy or me any more tonight?”

“No, Alicia, you can all go home any time now.”

“Alright, Mrs. Northman’s meals are in the small refrigerator. We’ll see you in the morning.”

“Good night, everybody. Thanks!” Sookie called into the monitor.

POP

Sookie jumped a bit as Dr. Ludwig appeared in the room.

“Good evening, Dr.” Eric nodded to her.

“Northman, Sookie, and I assume you’re Miss James?”

“Yes, please call me Bobbie.”

“I see you’re at work already! That’s good. Anything to report?”

“There was a bit of swelling in her legs, so I’ve been massaging them and I’m planning to do that at least once a day from this point forward to make sure the blood doesn’t pool. I also noticed that she seems pale, and I’m wondering if she shouldn’t be taking True Blood?”

“I’ve had two just a couple of hours ago,” Sookie said, “the baby insisted.”

“The baby insisted?” The doctor’s interest was piqued by that.

“Yeah, he was tugging at me until I drank some, didn’t he, Eric?”

“There was a distinct sense of wanting, then one of satisfaction after she drank them that didn’t come from either of us.”

“Really? You are writing these things down, aren’t you?”

“Not yet,” Sookie said sheepishly.

“Do it before you forget. Bobbie, you keep after her about that. This pregnancy is historic and we need a good account of it. Now, you’ve been drinking 1 every night, but he’s wanting more?” She felt Sookie’s glands as she spoke.

“Yes,”

“Let’s make it four a day and see how that goes. Let me know immediately if that’s not enough. There’s a remote chance True Blood won’t be enough, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Any cramping yet?” She pressed gently around Sookie’s abdomen.

“Not exactly.”

“Explain?”

“I have that feeling like I’m going to have cramps, but they just haven’t started yet.”

“Alright, well, when you start having them, keep a record of what time they occur and how bad they are. I’m afraid they’ll be severe since he’s growing so quickly. Bobbie, do you have any techniques to help her deal with that?”

“Yes, we can do things with yoga, exercises in water, and massage to manage that.”

“Good. Are you living in now?”

“Yes, as of tonight.”

“Good, she’ll need you around. None of the others on staff here have a clear understanding of Fae or vampires, am I right, Northman?”

“Yes, you are correct.”

“It will be good to have a specialist with her just in case. She can’t go to a human hospital, there are too many things they use that might be fatal to a Fae child. If anything goes wrong, you have to get in touch with me immediately.”

“In case of what?” Sookie didn’t like the sound of that. Dr. Ludwig pulled a stethoscope out of her carpetbag and listened to Sookie’s heart, then listened to her abdomen in front and her lungs in back.

“Complications are always possible, but we also don’t know what abilities this baby might have or when he’ll start to use them.”

“Abilities?”

“Yes, he might have various Fae or Vampire abilities that require some knowledge of the possibilities.”

“Like flying?” Eric asked hopefully

“Yes, but we won’t know that until some time after he’s born. At this stage what we want to watch for is telepathy…”

“He’s got it,” Sookie said, “he can read my thoughts.”

“Already?”

“Yep. He agrees with me when I think about the Goddess.”

The doctor brightened at that. “That’s certainly promising!”

“Yes, it is,” Eric agreed, already proud of his son. He didn’t say it, but he was sure his son knew the Goddess personally on some level.

“What else?”

“He might have telekinesis, or be able to teleport or do magick. I don’t think those will show up until he’s older since Fae don’t develop their full power until puberty, but you want to be aware that anything is possible with this child. There’s never been one like him, especially since he already seems to be a part of your blood bond, which we didn’t anticipate.”

“You didn’t? That’s not part of the magick?” Sookie didn’t realize how special it really was yet, but Eric would explain it to her later.

“Not the magick Niall did. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s your own magick combined with drinking Northman’s blood.”

“My own magick?”

“Yes, my dear, you’ve got powerful magick you haven’t begun to tap into yet. Do you have a teacher yet?”

“Yes, my friend, Amelia, is a Witch and I just found out Bobbie is a Goddess worshiper.”

“Excellent. Learn all you can while you’re pregnant so you’ll be up to speed when you’ve got an infant on your hands. You won’t find much time to read then, even if you do have help. I suspect this little one will demand a lot of attention.”

“I’ve been very nauseous. Is there anything I can take for that?”

“When you’re with child, your best bet is a little cola syrup or a prepared cola beverage.”

“Yeah, I’ve been sipping diet cola. It helps if it’s really cold.”

“Stick with that, or better yet, the regular colas with cane sugar, but you won’t have the nausea too much longer. If you have any more questions, call whenever you need to, and if I don’t hear from you before hand, I’ll see you at the wedding.” POP – she was gone.

“Does she always do that?” Sookie asked Eric

“Yes. I told you, Supe elders say what they have to say and they’re done. They rarely stick around long enough for questions.”

“She’s nothing like I pictured her,” Bobbie laughed.

“No, but she’s very respected and very good at what she does. Sookie could not be in finer care,” Eric said with absolute certainty.

“Well, is there anything else I can do to make you more comfortable, Sookie?”

“No, actually, you can go get your stuff unpacked if you want to.”

“Alright, I’ll be upstairs, so you call me if you need me and I’ll be right here.”

She picked up her bag and headed upstairs, thanking Goddess all the way for leading her into this amazing job. She and Sookie would have lots to talk about since she was learning about the Goddess and magick and this bedroom was nicer than anyplace she’d lived in several years. She even had a bathroom all to herself.

Bobbie opened some boxes first, looking for a blank journal she could use to keep track of Sookie’s treatments. She spent the next hour at a small writing desk in her new room, describing the situation, her impressions of Eric and Sookie, and what she saw as potential problem areas for them to work on. She also did the research she said she’d do on Freyja and was excited about what she saw. She made lots of notes to share with Sookie and was thrilled to find out there was a wireless network in the house when she opened her laptop – well, two, actually, one that was password protected and one that was open – so she was able to access the web without a hard connection.

The last thing she did that night was hang up her clothes in the walk-in closet, then she threw on an over-sized t-shirt and crawled into the queen-sized bed, enjoying the cool, smooth feel of the expensive cotton sheets, noticing they’d been ironed before they were put on the bed. She set the alarm that was on the nightstand, laughing to herself that this room had everything, and slept for a while

Sookie was so relaxed after Bobbie worked on her that Eric lay down next to her and talked softly until she dozed off. When she was asleep, he slipped into his office and pushed himself to get through as much of his financial work, which was piling up just a little because he’d been focused on Sookie, and didn’t look up until he heard Bobbie come gently down the stairs at 12:30.

“Bobbie?” He spoke just loudly enough for her to hear him.

“Mr. Northman?”

“Come in – please, call me Eric,” he smiled, “can I help you?”

“I just wanted to remind you that Sookie should eat now.”

“Would you see to that, please, so I may continue my work?”

“Sure – it’s in the fridge in your room, right?”

“Yes, Margaret will have a label on it.”

“OK, no problem.”

Eric listened briefly as she went into their bedroom and got the food out, then gently roused Sookie to eat. Bobbie sat with her while she ate, chatting with her as if they were old friends, and Eric was especially pleased when she rubbed Sookie’s back until she went back to sleep.

When she came out into the hallway and looked in his door, he was making good progress on his paperwork.

“She’s asleep,” Bobbie told him.

“Good. What time is her next meal?”

“She should have something no later than 4:30.”

“Alright, I’ll take that feeding and you can see her in the morning.”

“Will do. Good night.”

Eric continued his paperwork, smiling to himself that he thought this was a very positive development. Sookie didn’t have any girlfriends, really, and women like Bobbie and Amelia, who were personable, well-educated and Goddess-oriented, would be a wonderful influence on a new Witch and a young Mother. No one had said it specifically, but he was quite sure Sookie was a natural Witch if not a full-fledged Goddess. There was too much magick in her just bursting to get out.

At 2:49, Sookie called his name, “Eric?”

He was instantly by her side, “How are you feeling, my Lover?”

“Lonely,” she pouted at him.

“Well, then, let me finish up one thing, and I’ll come join you.”

“Goodie!”

He zipped back into his office to finish the email he was sending to Bobby Burnham about having hired Bobbie James, then was back in the bedroom kicking his boots off and locking the door.

“MMMmmm,” Sookie purred as he pulled his shirt off and dropped his jeans and shorts. “Do you like those?”

“Those what?” He asked as he slid into bed next to her and kissed her.

“Those grey-green shorts you had on under your jeans?”

“I never really thought about it, I have many different kinds.”

“Yeah, you do.” She raised her head so he could put his arm under her.

“What kind is your favorite kind?”

“I’ve only ever seen the kind I like in a catalog,” she snuggled up against him and played a bit with the golden hair on his stomach

“What did you like about them?”

“They were really sexy.”

“I’m intrigued. What was sexy about them?”

“Mostly the fabric. They were silk boxers.”

“Silk boxers? I don’t know if I’ve ever worn a pair.”

“Maybe you’d like them?”

“Are you hinting that you’d like me to wear silk boxers?”

“I’m not hinting, I’m saying I’d like you to try a couple of pair and see if you like them because I think they’re mad sexy.”

“Consider it done,” he laughed as he stroked her cheek.

“Thanks.”

“Is there anything else you’d change about the way I dress?”

“No, you get the big stuff right.”

“Such as?”

“You wear boots all the time, like a real man should.”

“What do other men wear that you don’t like?”

“Tennis shoes, basketball shoes. I hate that – if a guy doesn’t take himself seriously, why should I?”

“Why, Miss Stackhouse, I’ve never heard you be so judgmental.”

“It’s from working in a bar so long. Guys were always hitting on me and I never saw a guy yet wearing tennis shoes that I’d give the time of day to.”

“I have never owned a pair. I wear steel-reinforced boots when I go out because I never know when I might be in a fight.”

“And the boots themselves can be a weapon, right?”

“Right.What else do I “get right?””

“Lots of things – silk shirts, expensive suits, tight jeans, form-fitting t-shirts, leather pants and jackets. You dress like a badass, but one with style.”

Eric laughed with delight. “Good to know!”

“Yeah, but there’s one thing you might want to add to your wardrobe since Bobbie will be living here.”

“What’s that?”

“Swim trunks. You don’t have any and we might have people around when we want to swim. I’m thinking about having a pool party.”

“What is a pool party?”

“It’s where you invite a bunch of your friends over and you cook food on the grill and swim in the pool and play games and have fun.”

“When are you planning this?”

“After the wedding and stuff is all over.”

“Whom would you invite?”

“My brother and his friends Hoyt and Catfish, Kim, Sam, Terry Bellefleur, Amelia and Gran, maybe my friend Tara I haven’t seen in ages, then some of them might bring dates.”

“Would this be day time or night?”

“I thought maybe start it around 5 and then go until maybe 10 o’clock or however late people want to stay. You could invite Pam and people from Fangtasia, too.”

“Is this something you’ve done before?”

“No, I never had a pool or the money to have a real party, or many friends at all.”

“Well, then, let’s get through the wedding and we will see about a pool party.”

“Thanks!” She playfully kissed his face all over.

“Won’t you be seeing all of them at the wedding?”

“Most of them, yeah, but I won’t get to hang out with them. I’ll have to go around and thank everyone for coming and we’ll be dancing and I’m going to eat all the crawfish I can hold, and…”

“You say that as if it’s a treat.”

“What?”

“Eating all the crawfish you can hold.”

“It is! I’ve never been able to afford tons and tons of shrimp and crawfish like we’re going to have at the wedding.”

Eric laughed again. “Well then you should eat to your heart’s content and if you ever want to buy them just for you, get as much as you want whenever you want.”

“Mmm, I love how you spoil me.”

“Good, because I’m going to do a lot of it.”

“You already do!”

“Wait until we are married and we have anniversaries to celebrate and babies to run around the house… ”

“And CHRISTMASES! My baby is going to have the BEST Christmases ever!”

Eric laughed again.

“Laugh all you want, but I’m serious. Gran always did the best she could for us, but Christmases at our house were spare for me and my brother. Our living room is going to look like a toy store every year,” she laughed.

“I’m looking forward to that more than I ever thought was possible,” he confided. “Every aspect of raising and celebrating a child thrills me. I love you so much, Sookie and I’ll love our son just as much. I’m going to be a very involved father.”

“I know you will, because of how intense you are about taking care of us. Hey, is there anything up here for me to eat?”

“Yes, I’ll get it for you.” Eric got up and went around the bed to the little fridge.

“Bring a couple of True Bloods, too, please?” Sookie said as she sat up and pulled her pink knit gown off.

Eric found a salad with chicken and a bottle of dressing with a fork, a napkin and a can of soda and a straw and put it on the tray that was sitting on her dresser.

“Now that’s what I call service,” she teased him as he came back with it all and set it across her lap. “You know, I hardly ever had a meal in bed in my life and now all of a sudden, it’s all I do.”

“You’ve never been pregnant with a very demanding baby before.”

“Yeah,” she said softly, suddenly becoming quiet.

“Sookie, what just happened?”

“Huh?”

“I just felt a huge shift in the bond. You went from being happy and playful to almost sick with worry.”

“Something just popped into my head. I’ll forget about it in a minute.”

“But then it will pop into your head another time. Whatever it is, Sookie, you should talk to me about it.”

“I have a relative that I don’t want to come to the wedding, but he’s asking to be invited and Gran told him ‘no’ but I’m afraid he’ll show up anyway.”

“If he is not invited, he cannot get in.”

“Promise?”

“Yes, Sookie. Sweetheart, I can feel how upset you are thinking about this person. I should know about something that affects you so severely.”

“Let me eat my salad first and then I’ll try to tell you about it.”

“Alright.” Eric knew she was hoping he would forget about it, but her mood dropped from elated to panicked and gloomy in the blink of an eye. This was obviously not something he could leave unexplored.

“So, who’s going to be your best man? Have you decided?” she asked as she dug into her salad.

“I have some ideas, but I don’t think you’ll like any of them.”

“Who is your single favorite choice?”

“Pam.”

Sookie laughed out loud at that. “I never thought about that, but she is sort of family and she’s closer to you than anyone else in the world except me. Have you asked her yet?”

“No, I thought it best to talk to you first.”

“Who are your alternatives?”

“Andre, Bill, or your brother.”

“No, no, and he’s giving me away, so I say go with Pam. What will she wear?”

“I was wondering if you’d be alright with her wearing the same dress your bride’s maids are wearing, and she’d simply stand beside me and hand us our rings?”

“I’d love that. She’ll need to order it right away. If she needs alterations and can’t get them done, Gran can help with that.”

“Give me the information and I’ll order it for her. I’ll be very surprised if she needs alterations.”

“Really?”

“Yes, she wears clothing very well. She’s a perfect size 6.”

“Have you bought clothing for her before?”

“Yes, I buy her gifts now and then.”

“That’s nice.”

“You are not jealous, are you?”

Sookie hesitated for a minute, then said, “I don’t know. I mean, I love Pam and I know you love her, but you actually bought her clothes, but you have other people buy my clothes?”

“Let me clarify – I have had Margaret buy Pam clothes.”

“Oh – OK, that’s OK, then,” she laughed.

Eric figured that was a harmless white lie and made a mental note to pick something out just for Sookie and order it himself.

Sookie finished up her salad and drank two True Bloods down quickly, and Eric cleared away her tray. Setting it back on the dresser, he came back to bed and Sookie snuggled up next to him.

“Let’s have wild crazy sex until you have to go to ground.”

“Nice try. Tell me what had you so upset.”

“I’m over it now, so let’s just…”

“Sookie, I want to know what disturbs you so much about this relative of yours. How is he related to you?”

“He’s Gran’s brother.”

“And neither you nor she want him at the wedding?”

“Right, and I’m afraid he’ll come anyway.”

“Sookie, I know how you and your grandmother are about family. For him to be ostracized in this way, he would have to have physically harmed one of you. What did he do?”

Sookie didn’t answer but the bond was churning with emotion – shame, anger, fear.

“Sookie?”

“Turn the light off.”

He reached up and turned off the light in the headboard and she clung to him tightly in the dark. Eric waited a few minutes, then he spoke. “Sookie, your uncle molested you?”

She nodded her head against his chest.

“How old were you?”

“It started when I was 5.”

“How long did it continue?”

“A few years, until I went to live with Gran and she ran him off.”

“What is his name?

“Bartlett Hale. Why?”

“I was just wondering if he was a Stackhouse. ”

“No, that’s Gran’s married name. She was a Hale before she married.”

“I promise you, Sweetheart, that man will not be at your wedding.”

“Thank you, Eric.” Sookie let out a huge yawn then, and Eric began to kiss her very softly, knowing if he was very slow and gentle, she’d fall asleep. When she was breathing evenly, he kissed her forehead and left her for the day.

Eric used the laptop in his cache to look up Bartlett Hale’s address, and went to rest fomenting a plan that would ensure that HIS Sookie’s “funny uncle” would not attempt to crash her wedding.

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