Freyja was on the shore when Sookie found Her, walking barefoot at the edge of the water as the gentle breeze blew Her billowing white gown around Her legs. She had yellow flowers in Her hair and it flowed down Her back and around Her bare arms in beautiful golden waves.
“Freyja?” Sookie said, not remembering how she came to be there just then.
“Good morning, My Angel! Come walk with Me,” Freyja smiled and reached out Her soft pale hand. Sookie reached back and Freyja pulled her close so They could lock arms. It just occurred to Sookie that she and Freyja were wearing identical white eyelet dresses with white on white embroidery on the front and thin straps that tied at the shoulder. “I like these dresses,” Sookie said with surprise and Freyja laughed almost musically.
“You are so funny, My Angel. Have you had a good rest in Avalon?”
“Yes, it’s been wonderful, but I still know what I did and what happened to Jubal Garner and his son.”
“Some day, you’ll understand how that experience was woven into the fabric of your life – it was fate, for all of you, and nothing that happened should be changed.”
“Changed? Why – is that possible? Could I go back–?” Sookie asked hopefully.
“Listen to me, Sookie. You are not to try to change the past. You need to think of your children.”
“Would the twins be harmed?”
“No, but the child within you affects your magick. As long as she is within you, you are not working magick alone.”
“But you’re saying it IS possible…”
“I’m warning you not to attempt it, Sookie. There could be repercussions…”
“If I go back and try to change it, will any of my children die or be harmed in any way?”
“No, Sookie, you should not bring Garner back to life.”
“Could I change his son seeing me with his heart in my bloody hand? Or could I make it so Amunet never touched this crystal?”
“Amunet loves you, Sookie, you wouldn’t want to harm her, now would you?”
“But she made me…”
“She pushed, but We knew that she would…”
“We?” The idea that there was a “WE” involved set Sookie’s teeth on edge. She felt like there was something going on that no one would tell her. She pulled her arm away from Freyja’s. “Who, exactly, is “WE?””
“The Council decided…”
Sookie couldn’t hear.
Sookie was Swirling —
and Falling —
Sookie struggled for breath –
She tried to shriek , but nothing came out
“OUCH!” Sookie said as she landed on the mattress and hit her head on the big black headboard. Finally, she could breathe. She opened her eyes and stretched, happy to notice she was still wearing the white dress under the covers. She yawned and stretched and reached for the nightstand which was a LO-O-ONG way off to the side.
“This isn’t my bed!” She sat up and looked around, noticing the luxurious covers over her. This bed was enormous! Still a bit dizzy and very disoriented, she tried to remember what had just happened. She was at a picnic in Avalon watching Eric ride an enormous black horse with the boys.
OK, then she was walking on the beach with Freyja and …
“PWEEE-DOHHH!” The bedroom door flew open and a baby she barely recognized hopped on the bed, swinging a small sword and wearing a kilt.
“Alex – what are you doing?!”
“PWEEE-DOHHH!” Alex yelled again, barely missing Sookie’s head with the plastic sword. He cackled with a kind of wicked glee, his fuzzy white head shaking about, his glowing blue eyes lit up looking just like his Dadee’s, his sweet little face painted white and blue like a savage!
Aubie was hanging in the air just inside the door laughing and clapping.
“Aubie, come to Mommy. “ Sookie held out her arms and he flew to her.
“Alex… what happened to your hair!?” She suddenly noticed that Alex had a crew cut! But Aubie’s hair was still longish and Sookie hugged him to her in a little panic. Aubie was happy to let Mommy snuggle him, so he sucked his thumb, laid his little head so his eyes were against her neck. He didn’t stay that way long, though so he could watch all the action.
“Alex, what were you going to say to Mommy?” Bobbie came in laughing, shaking two bottles of blood in one hand and Alex cracked up.
“Twik oh twee!” He said, still standing on the bed, showing off how well he could say it.
“What?” Sookie asked, still confused.
“Twik oh twee!” Alex repeated, indignant that Mommy didn’t understand because he knew he was talking good!
“Trick or Treat, Sookie – did you forget?” Bobbie asked as she tickled Alex.
“Trick or Treat? What day is this?”
“Sookie – it’s Samhain! You’re hosting a costume ball tonight, remember?”
“Samhain – Hallowe’en? Then we’re in…”
“New Orleans,” Bobbie reminded her, realizing Sookie really didn’t know what day this was. “Sookie, are you feeling all right?”
“I hit my head,” she said as she rubbed it a bit, keeping a tight grip on Aubie because he was the only thing that seemed normal right now. “I was… I was in Avalon…”
“Oh, wait. I know what this is,” Bobbie said, giving one of the bottles to Sookie and the other to Alex, who dropped his sword and took it, popping it into his mouth like he meant it, sucking the sweet warm stuff with great gusto as he floated in the air above the bed.
Aubie squirmed on Sookie’s lap, which felt weird for some reason and as Bobbie brought her Book from the side table, Sookie felt a kick in the gut – “OW!”
“You woke her up, Sookie. Now you’ll be in for it,” Bobbie teased.
Sookie held Aubie to the side and pulled the covers down to discover her tummy was huge and round and someone in there was apparently doing aerobics. “What happened?”
“It’s in your book there – you warned us this might happen.”
“This – what is “this?””
“Asynchrony? That’s a word?”
“You described it as more of a symptom – it’s in your book.”
Sookie let Bobbie take Aubie so she could manage the book Nivian had gifted her. She paged through it and came to a passage that said August 19, 2009:
“I know now I shouldn’t have tried it, but I did and it’s done and I’m afraid to try undo it until I have the baby. She’s apparently as powerful as Alex or maybe even more so. Anyway, I believed Freyja enough that I didn’t try to bring Jubal Garner back to life. What I did try to do was glamour his son, who is now in a rehab in Atlanta. Long story short, he saw me in his room, the spell I tried didn’t work, and he had a psychotic break. Freyja assures me that it’s “all in accordance with Karma” but that there might be “side effects” which could include ASYNCHRONY – I made her spell it for me so I’d know it when it happens and basically I’m probably going to skip around in time a bit. I’m writing this here so if – I mean- when it happens, I’ll know what it is and try to roll with the punches. Dr. Ludwig said it will make life interesting for a bit and they think it will end when I have the baby. They’re still not sure when that might be. So, if I seem confused, Bobbie, Bjorn, Alicia or Eric will remind me to look here and I’ll know that what is happening is supposed to happen and I’ll know I shouldn’t panic.”
“PWEEE-DOHHH!” Alex had dropped his bottle and picked up his sword. “Ahm Bwayv-odd, Mamee!”
“What is he saying?” She asked Bobbie, who was cracking up at him. “Freedom – he’s Braveheart!”
“Braveheart?! He’s Scottish, not Viking!” Sookie suddenly realized Alex’s face was painted as Mel Gibson’s was in the movie and he was wearing a little kilt!
“You watched it one day and Alex saw him riding on a horse swinging his sword, so you’ve been letting him play this way to get ready for Halloween.”
“Mel Gibson had long hair in that movie – what’s with the crew cut?”
“Mah ayr ith wyg Bhordsth.” Alex pointed to his head.
“Like Bjorn’s” Bobbie translated.
“Oh – Ok, I guess. Eric is OK with it?”
“He was a little surprised, but he perked up when Aubie didn’t want his hair cut. I showed him the clippers and he watched Alex, then I asked him and he said “No, no, ma Dada.”
“Oh, he wanted to keep it long like daddy’s! That’s good. Eric must have been happy with that.”
“Yeah, he said that Aubie holds onto his hair when he rocks him.”
“Yeah, he does that to me sometimes, too. It’s like he holds on to get closer. OW.”
“You’ve been calling the bun in your oven Jane Fonda because she does aerobics.”
“No kidding. At least it’s not as hard as Alex used to kick me.”
“It’s more like a flutter is how you describe it.”
“OK, well, what’s the story for today…” There were loud footsteps coming up the stairs as Sookie started to speak, then Bjorn came in, “Good morning, your majesty.”
“Don’t you start that “Majesty” stuff, Bjorn I’ve got too much craziness going on already” Sookie quipped, only half joking.
“You’ll have to put up with it today. Jerry and I are afraid we’ll slip and forget if we don’t start early. We have to watch the Protocol tonight. Council members are supposed to be there.”
“Oh, well, yeah, we will have to be on our best behavior,” Sookie agreed.
“And you’re the hostess, so…” Bjorn continued and she nodded.
“What am I wearing tonight?”
“You’re going to look fabulous!” Bobbie told her, stepping into her closet and pulling out a sexy long pink gown and a blonde wig. “Marilyn!”
“Oh, goodie!” Sookie loved that idea, “Did I get that from that Marilyn impersonator’s seamstress?”
“Yeah, she hooked you and Amunet up so you’ll both look hot tonight. She’s doing a 20’s flapper Cleopatra thing..”
“Doesn’t she always…” Sookie started to say,
“She’ll have the crown and a golden asp tonight.”
“So we’re still friends?” Sookie wanted to confirm.
“Yeah, still thick as thieves, but no magic without me or Jerry supervising,” Bjorn stated firmly.
“Oh, by the way – she’s asynchronous today,” Bobbie told him.
“Yeah, I haven’t seen Amunet since…you know?”
“Do you want us to un-invite her? Jerry and I will be glad to do it.”
“No, if we’ve been doing OK, I’ll be fine. What time is it?
“2:30,” Bobbie turned the clock so Sookie could see it. “Margaret was going to start making your breakfast – you want it up here?”
“No, let’s go down and I’ll try to wake up.”
“You’ll need to shower and dress before The King gets up,” Bjorn told her. ”We have to be there by 7.”
“Why so early?” Sookie asked as she tried to get up off the huge bed.
“The parade is going to the Royal Senesta where the Ball is being held. Between 7 and 9 there’s a kid’s parade in garden and they’ll collect candy and prizes, then there will be a formal ball for the adults from 9 until 2 am.”
“Everybody who’s anybody in the Supe world will be there,“ Bobbie said, looking forward to night out of the New Orleans house.
“So we have to be there for the kids’ parade,” Sookie wanted to be sure.
“Yes,” Bjorn said, “a lot of people around here don’t do Halloween – it’s a Christian thing now – they don’t like it. So the kids that will attend are probably all Supes.”
“There are other Supe kids around here?” Sookie couldn’t remember ever seeing one.
“Yeah, Weres and Shifter kids, baby Witches and other Pagans. Plus the New Orleans social sets’ kids.”
“Humans around all those Pagan kids?” Sookie was afraid that might be asking for trouble.
“Don’t worry, Sookie,” Bobbie reassured her, “most of them go to conventional schools and preschools so they know how to act around the uninitiated. They’re going to have a room near the Ball Room where they can play and trade candy.”
“Mamee, Ahm donna Pway wif uddah boysth and guhsth!” Alex was very excited because the only other kid in his life was Aubie. He loved the one time they got to play with fairy kids in Avalon.
“Yeah, you’ll show off your costume and trade candy!”
“Um.. how do I explain trading?” Sookie looked at Bobbie and then Bjorn, and the just shrugged. “You’ll see, Alex, you’ll have fun.”
“Eeah -PWEEE-DOHHH!” Alex hollered as he called the toy sword into his hand.
“Alex, you only call things around Mommy and Daddy, OK. People don’t know we can do that,” Sookie told him, knowing that it would do no good because magic came so easily to both boys and even with the whole staff plus she and Eric, things were going to happen.
“Don’t worry, Sookie, we’ll all help you distract people if we have to,” Bobbie said affectionately.
“Exactly,” Bjorn said, “We’ll all be there.”
“Right,” Sookie nodded and started to get out of bed. “I need some breakfast, then it will probably be time to start getting dressed. Have the boys been fed?’
“Yep, they were earlier. These bottles will do for now, but they might want to eat again before we go. ” Bobbie laughed as Bjorn grabbed Alex, swung him around and brought him up on his shoulders.
“Woogie Mamee! Ahm biggah an biggah.”
“Yeah, you’re almost as big as Daddy up there, huh? Just be careful you don’t hit Bjorn with your sword!”
“Swordths por FIDEEN!”
“No fighting tonight, Alex,” Bjorn told him as they all headed down stairs, “You show people your sword but you don’t hit anybody with it, OK? That sword is just for play.”
“Oday, pway.” Alex said, swinging the plastic thing wildly but managed not to hit Bjorn’s arm too hard.
They all reached the living room and dining room, gathering around the long table where Octavia was already seated.
“Well, good mornin’” Octavia said with a smile, laughing at Alex playing Braveheart. “You doin’ any damage with that sword yet, boy?” She teased him.
“Nah – pwayeen nah fideen,” he said, sounding a little disappointed, but it didn’t last long.
Alicia came in from the kitchen, “good morning, sleepy heads!”
“Eesha, wond thywup!”
“You want syrup?” she teased him as Bjorn put him in his high chair, “What do you eat with syrup?”
“Ok, you finish that bottle while I make some pancakes. Sookie – is that ok for you or should I get you something else?”
“Pancakes are fine with me!” Sookie said as she settled in with Aubie on her lap.
“Me, too,” Bjorn laughed as Bobbie said the same thing at the same time.
“Ware di Chewwy do?” Alex, asked looking around.
“Here I am,” Jerry laughed as he came in from outside, handing a newspaper to Bjorn as he went around and sat facing Sookie.
“Chewwy wond pandatesth?!”
“Sure, Prince Alex, whatever you say,” he laughed, having no idea what Alex had said, but very happy to hear Alex call him by name.
“He’s saying pancakes, Jerry.” Sookie interpreted.
“I could eat pancakes,” he nodded toward Alicia with a smile.
“OK, give us about 20 minutes for Margaret and I to get some going,” Alicia said with a smile. She loved being in this house. Their other places were fine, but the way the downstairs was made here sort of threw everybody together and it was nice. She also liked the fancy stove here that had a flat top and used special pots and pans. It had great temperature control and she could turn out some pancakes in no time because it didn’t have to warm up and stayed at a perfectly constant temperature.
“Ware di Amee-ah do?”
“Good question, Alex – where’s Amelia this morning,” Sookie asked as Jerry poured her a glass of apple juice and passed it across the table to her.
“Shopping,” Jerry said.
“Oh, fun!” Sookie said as she tried to give Aubie the rest of his bottle but he shook his head and patted her breast . She shifted him so she could nurse him – this dress was not ideal for this, but it worked well enough that she didn’t need to change. Sookie felt so happy today, snuggling Aubie, Alex cracking everybody up, the whole – well, most – of the family gathered around the table chatting and laughing.
Alicia and Margaret came out with a platter of pancakes and a carafe of warm syrup to get everyone started.
Alex was bouncing up an down with anticipation. “Pandatesth! Pandatesth! Mo and mo thywup!” he chattered as Margaret put a little white kitchen towel with a red stripe around Alex’s chest and shoulders.
Bjorn pulled the high chair around so he could help Alex and maybe minimize the mess.
“Bhord peed me pandatesth?”
“Yes, I’m going to feed you pancakes, and then I’m going to throw you in the pool.” Bjorn teased Alex.
“I doween ina poo!” Alex cracked up, making every one else laugh, too.
Alicia came back with two cartons of organic milk and began pouring glasses for everyone. “Sookie, if you want to take a dip in the pool, you’d have time.”
“Yeah, I guess you’d have time for that, Soo – I mean, your majesty…” Bjorn laughed and Jerry nodded at him in sympathy. That was going to be hard for both of them – it felt as if they hadn’t used her title in months.
“You’ve got a suit in the bathroom down here, so when you’ve eaten go ahead and take a dip. There are towels out there,” Alicia said as she passed Sookie’s glass to her and started pouring one for Bjorn.
“Margaret – did you bring the sippy cup?”
“Yes, it’s right here,” she reached into her apron pocket and pulled out a little yellow cup embossed with an elephant and the lid for it.
Alicia poured it not quite half full of juice and let Margaret have the cup and secure the little top on it.
“Wadiz dat, Mahdwid?”
“That’s a little sippy cup for you to try, Master Alex!” She smiled at him and patted his cheek, then headed back to the kitchen for more pancakes.
Alex was excited that this new thing was for him, even though he didn’t know what it was for yet. He put his finger through the handle and started to let it swing, but Mamee caught it. “Careful, Sweetie, you’ll spill it!”
“Sippy cup. Can you say ‘sippy cup?’”
“Good! Now, hold it like this, put this part in your mouth and see if you can get a drink.”
“Dwing.” Alex was still unsure of it, but Sookie helped him tilt it and he sucked on the little mouth piece. “appo!”
“Yeah, that’s got apple juice in it!”
Alex held it out and looked at it with great interest, then took another deep drink.
Aubie piped up from Sookie’s breast and asked “Abuh?!”
“You want some apple juice, too, Aubie?”
Alex held the cup out to Aubie, but Alicia came back then with a small bottle of juice for him.
“That’s sweet, offering to share, Alex, but Aubie still needs a bottle, OK?” Sookie was hoping he’d understand.
“Oday. Ahm biggah?”
“Right, he’s not quite big enough to try it yet.”
“Oday, Dwing.” He said and took another sip. He liked this thing that showed he was a bigger boy than Aubie. Alex knew enough to like getting to do everything first.
Breakfast zoomed right along and in just about an hour, everybody moved out to the pool. Once Sookie slipped into the pretty white one piece, she joined Amelia and Bobbie, who already had both babies in the water. Erin, the little black kitten, was curled up under the shade of the table, and Puff was walking all around the pool, but didn’t get in, even when Sookie went in.
The dragon immediately went to the Goddess, but he could tell she couldn’t see what he was seeing. He realized this was why he was picked to protect the Lady and her pups, because he could see the tall man behind the tree. He would wait to see what happened, but he was sure the man was watching the Goddess too closely, and he wasn’t one of the usual group of men that were always around. Puffy let the Goddess pet him, scratching him under the chin, but then he continued stalking around the pool, making a low rumbling sound, never turning his back to the man behind the tree.
“What’s that noise he’s making,” Sookie asked as she took a pink mattress Bjorn threw her and used it under her sideways.
“I don’t know,” Bjorn said, “but he’s been doing it all morning. He was looking back toward the garage, but I had some of the men search the garage. Now he’s looking at the big trees behind the house.
“Something has him spooked,” Sookie said with absolute certainty. “We’ll stick close, just in case,” Bjorn assured her.
Sookie was quickly distracted by Aubie calling “Ohh hooo!” and making a motion that said “come here, Mommy” which told Sookie he wanted to be dunked. Sookie laughed and took him from Amelia, walking to the center of the pool with him.
Aubie nodded and giggled, taking a big breath, and Sookie said “Whoo!” and bent her knees so Aubie went in up to his chest and cracked up.
“Obee wyg dat, Mamee!” Alex called as Bobbie was swinging him around in the water.
“Yeah, I think he does!” Sookie laughed and continued to tickle him so Aubie giggled and got the hiccups. “Woops! Sookie said as he made the hiccup sound:
“hic” “oops!” “hic” “oops!” “hic” “oops!” “his” “oops!” and she finally hugged him and kissed him and rubbed his little tummy until he stopped.
Everybody was paying attention to Sookie and Aubie when Puff took a running jump over the pool and landed in the water with a huge splash as a man appeared screaming, his arm in Puff’s mouth, nearly sinking Amelia’s blue raft. Puff was twice his normal size as they struggled in the water and Puff made a crazed growl, shaking his head violently as he crushed the bones in the man’s arm in his powerful jaws, the man dropping something dark from his hand that sank straight to the bottom of the pool.
The women screamed and Jerry and three other guards ran around from the front of the house. Puff held onto the shrieking man’s arm and dragged him underwater as the twins and Sookie, then Bobbie and Amelia, were scooped out of the pool and taken into the house. More guards came running from the garage area as Bjorn jumped in the water and was trying to subdue the bleeding man with Puff’s help. Cody Lane jumped in with Bjorn and the intruder who had appeared from nowhere as Jerry tried to keep the women in the house, though Sookie was fighting him because she was worried about Bjorn.
“But we have to help him!” Sookie yelled and Jerry told her “You are not going back out there until the property is secured. All of you sit in here at this table and don’t give these guys” he motioned to two guards coming from the dining area, “a hard time.” He motioned to the kitchen table that no one ever used and Jerry gave Sookie a look that told her to stop and focus on the kids. Margaret brought towels for every one and Alicia handed out bottles of water just to have something to do. The commotion from the back yard was so loud Jerry was afraid the fight was going to spread into the house if there were other intruders.
Jerry motioned to the two guards to stay with the women and babies. He pulled an assault rifle from a hidden shelf in the pantry which surprised everyone. Jerry made it back out to the pool area, and could see that Bjorn and Cody had the formerly invisible man in irons. The man was bleeding profusely from his arm and Puff, still twice his normal size, was standing guard over him as the other men restrained him.
“Keep that damned dragon away from me!” The man cried out and Bjorn punched him in the head as hard as he could.
“Who are you?”
“I don’t have to answer your questions,” the man yelled, which made Bjorn look around because he thought he might be signaling someone else.
Bjorn hit him again and Puff let out a snarl that let the man know he was ready to tangle again. One of the guards, obviously a demon, suddenly swooped into the pool, retrieving the knife, then upward toward the roof. and out of sight.
“You’re obviously not human – are you Fae or demon?” Bjorn demanded. “Fuck you, Were” the man spat.
“Puff,” Bjorn said and backed up as Puff lunged forward and snapped onto the man’s crotch. He howled the most unearthly sound and then a dart from nowhere hit the intruder in the throat. He began to shake all over and foam came out of his mouth as his strangled cries subsided because the man literally collapsed into ash.
Puff backed up, still growling, blood all over his face, but he knew that the danger had passed – there was no more intruder, just a bad taste in his mouth.
“Good dragon, Puff,” Bjorn said, patting his head as the beast began to relax and shrunk down to his normal size.
Jerry came back out as things were slowing down, holding the gun, barrel straight up. “Assassin?” he asked Bjorn, who nodded, out of breath and soaking wet.
“Apparently. He must have been Fae,” Bjorn reasoned, getting a nod from the Demon who was back from the roof. “Status?” Bjorn asked him as he handed him the strange knife.
“This is made of iron. There were two of them. The other is dead – he killed this one so we couldn’t interrogate him,” he explained as he also passed a long tube to Bjorn, the weapon used to deliver the dart to the dead prisoner.
“Well, if he’s Fae, we know who sent him.” Bjorn looked around and everyone nodded in agreement. Puff slipped into the water to cool himself off and get the bitter taste of fairy blood out of his mouth. Cody and Bjorn were taking off their wet boots and clothing as a final check around the property satisfied Jerry that they were out of danger for the moment. He returned to the front of the house as Rafael arrived from the New Orleans office to assess the scene.
Bjorn and Cody came in the back door in black knit underwear, wet clothes and boots in arm and turned over to Alicia and Margaret so they could do whatever magic they did with the guys’ uniforms.
Sookie was nearly jumping out of her skin. “Bjorn, are you alright?”
“Yes, we think there were two of them. The one that attacked at the pool was shot with poison from a second one that was “dispatched” by the demons on the ground.”
“Were they demon intruders?”
“No, we’re pretty sure they were Fae.”
“So Niall tried to have me killed again?”
“Apparently. If it hadn’t been for Puff, he might have succeeded.”
“Right. OK, so what do we do now?”
“You take your shower and get dressed for the party. It’s after 5 already”
“Just like that?” She looked at him as if he were out of his mind.
“Just like that, your Majesty. We’ll make sure the security for tonight is adequate.”
“You do your job,” Bjorn told her sympathetically but firmly, “and we’ll do ours. You need to be dressed when the King wakes up.”
“Plus, I need to put Alex’s war paint back on since he went swimming,” Bobbie said, helping to move Sookie along. “You want to take them in the shower with you?”
Sookie just took a deep breath and shrugged it off. “OK, yeah, let’s do that.” And with that, everyone resumed as if nothing had happened, trusting that Bjorn and Jerry had things under control.
Sookie was just getting her blonde wig in place when Eric awoke.
“Hey!” Sookie said as he moved to hug her.
“Hey. What’s wrong?” He could feel her tension, though she was trying to hide it.
“We had an intruder today – well, two actually and I’m in Asynchrony – is that the word?”
“OK, one crisis at a time,” he was making light of the situation but she could feel the terror within him. “The intruders?”
“Puff saved the day with that deal. 2 Fae, apparently sent by Niall. One of them came after me in the pool but Puff could see him and he dragged him into the water until Bjorn and Cody could get ahold of him.”
“What happened to them?”
“Both dead, but I don’t know exactly how. Bjorn will tell you, I guess.”
“None of you were harmed?”
“No, just scared.”
“Alright, and you are outside of time – what’s the last thing you remember?”
“Watching you and Alex ride that huge black horse at the picnic.”
“Yes, that was a few weeks ago.”
“Right. So, what are you wearing tonight?”
“I’m going to be the Highlander, and you will be my lovely consort, Marilyn.” He hugged her tightly and kissed her lips.”
“Mmmm – I was waiting for that before I put my lipstick on,” she joked.
“Alright. I will shower, Bjorn will brief me, and the boys are already downstairs I guess?”
“Yep – wait until you’re dressed to see them.”
“Alright. Send Bjorn up.”
“OK, see you in a few,” she stretched up for another kiss and left the room.
Eric was done in the shower by the time Bjorn got back upstairs, so they talked while Eric dressed.
“Yes, two of them, probably Fae. One tried to attack Sookie in the pool, but Puff grabbed him out of the air and took him underwater.”
“She was in the pool?”
“Yeah, she was playing with Aubie, everything was quiet. Then Puff took a running leap into the air and this man suddenly became visible as they hit the water.”
“Who got them out of the water?”
“The other guards had scooped up Sookie and the babies and they were all in the house as Cody Lane and I jumped in an got him under control. We brought him out and were trying to question him when his partner shot him with a poison dart.”
“Lucky they didn’t use the dart against Sookie or Aubie.”
“The attacker had an odd knife made of iron with him.”
“In case Sookie can’t be killed with anything but iron. Interesting.”
“If it hadn’t been for Puff – we wouldn’t have known they were here.”
“That’s why Puff is here,” Eric said with absolute confidence, “Freyja knows what Sookie needs to be protected.”
“We still got really lucky.”
“Yes, we did.”
“Have you considered going after him?”
“Yes. While he’s alive…”
“… She’s at risk.”
“No, I think he waited until Sookie had Aubie in her arms. I think the idea was to stab Sookie and take the baby. He needs Auberon to extend his reign.”
Eric nodded but didn’t say anything. He pulled his long hair into a pony tail and put on a long coat.
“You look like Vincent. What are you dressing as?” Bjorn asked as Eric concealed a long katana beneath his coat.
“Like from the movies.”
“Yes – I wanted a costume that could include a sword. It was Vincent’s idea – his coat, too.”
“Yeah, he looks just like the guy in the movie. Can you get to the sword if you need to?”
Eric had the sword to Bjorn’s throat before he finished his sentence.
“OK, good to know,” he laughed and Eric did, too.
They got to the Parade a few minutes late, but it went off without a hitch except for a few flying beer bottles which is not unusual in the Quarter. By 7:30 Sookie had the boys in a twin stroller, Alex in his Braveheart costume and Aubie in a little black satin cape and a binky that looked like fangs, pushing them in the Parade around the Pool and through the lobby at the Royal Senestra.
The lobby held several stations of Fire fighters and Police officers all in uniform, handing out candy. The kids got to say “Trick or treat” and hold their bags open as if they were going up to houses, and the little ones were as thrilled as if it were an old fashioned Halloween. Sookie took Aubie around in the stroller but Alex insisted on Daddy taking him up to the men with the candy. Eric was beaming at Alex when he’d say “Twik oh twee!” and wave his little sword. His eyes would get big when the candy dropped into his little bag, and he said “dayoo!” with a big smile every time without being prompted. Eric would translate, “Thank you,” and more than one said “Thank you, Your Majesty,” knowing that they were being paid triple time out of Eric’s pocket to be there for the kids. They all knew Eric had been going to great efforts to help the city get back on its feet and a lot of them only had jobs because of support from Eric’s territory.
There were little groups of kids, about half of them Shifters and Weres, running around, who would come up to Sookie and ask “Is that the Vampire prince?” or “Is that Alexander or Auberon?”
One brave little girl dressed as an Indian princess walked up to Eric and asked “Are you the Vampire King?”
“Yes, I am,” Eric gave her a big smile.
“My mommy says you’re the hottest thing on two legs,” she said, perfectly serious.
Eric laughed “Your mommy has good taste. I like your costume!”
“Are you the one throwing this big party?” she continued.
“Yes, I am.”
“OK, then, I just wanted to say thank you. Is that Alex or Auberon?”
“This is Alex. What’s your name?”
“Alexander, this is Julia. Say “hello.’” He held Alex down so he could see the girl face to face.
“Ewwo, Doo-ya, Ahm Aweks,” he said, waving at her and she reached for his hand.
“Hi! Wow, he can talk!” She said as she shook his hand gently and he giggled.
“Yes, he can,” Eric said proudly.
Alex gave a very exaggerated nod, saying “Ahm dokkeen dood!”
“Neat!” she said with a big smile, and then went skipping away toward the pool area where there was a Fireman she hadn’t asked for candy yet.
It was organized chaos for the two hours kids ran around and filled their bags and the crowd gradually moved upstairs to the Ball Room as 9:00 approached.
There was a special playroom set up just off the ballroom where kids could play or nap while parents were in the ball and it was staffed with both professional child care givers but policemen as well at the doors keeping a list of which child belonged to whom, putting a little numbered sticker on their costumes over their hearts, because it was a Vampire party and they had a history of trouble. You had to have your numbered tag that corresponded to the child’s number to enter the room or take a kid out. There was a lady in a Mother Goose costume in one corner reading a story out loud and about 10 of the kids were sitting there watching her.
“Ooh, Lookie, Alex!” Sookie got his attention as Eric held him and pointed out the lady telling the story. “What’s she doing?”
“Weedeen!” Alex laughed and that made Aubie giggle. “Dadee nah wee?”
“I have things I have to do as King, Alex. Would you like to stay here and listen to the story?”
“You don’t, Alex?” Sookie was shocked because Alex loved books.
“Nah, wandoo wach Mamee and Dadee danstheen!”
“Dancing?” Now Eric was surprised, “How do you know we will be dancing?”
“Babbee chowed me an Obee boff picta!”
“Bobbie showed you a picture?’ Sookie asked as Eric motioned for Bobbie to come over.
“Eeah, picta! Dadee sween Mamee ina thirco!”
“Good job, Alex!” Bobbie was the only one who knew what Alex was saying. Eric and Sookie both looked at her with raised eyebrows as she translated “Daddy swings Mommy in a circle.”
Eric laughed with delight, “Very good, Alex. Alright, you and Auberon can watch us do the first dance, then we’ll hear a story, alright?”
“Eeah! Me and Obee boff dantheen an weedeen!”
“Well, my dear, shall we get this party started?” Eric laughed as he kissed Sookie’s hand in its elbow length pink satin glove.
Sookie laughed and they went to the door of the ball room. Bobbie and Alicia took the babies and stood to the side of the room surrounded by guards. The small orchestra began to play “That Old Black Magic” and the band leader said “And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, your hosts for this evening, King Eric Northman and his lovely Queen Sookie.”
People of all ages, most in costumes, stood around the perimeter of the dance Lloor, excited to see the King and Queen do their famous first dance.
Eric walked Sookie to the middle of the dance floor. He took her left hand and pulled her gently in a large circle all around him then brought her close, dancing her around again and then picking her up and swinging her in a circle. Everyone ooh-ed and ah-ed as they entered and clapped with delight when Eric swung Sookie around. Alex and Aubie were beside themselves watching their parents show off for the big crowd. When the song ended Eric stood back and bowed to Sookie who gave him a brilliant smile full of love and curtsied , and the audience went wild.
“Please, everyone – dance!” Eric motioned and other couples took to the floor as Eric and Sookie went to the side where the boys were watching.
Eric took Alex and Sookie took Aubie and they each spun their way back onto the floor. Alex and Aubie were cracking up as Eric and Sookie danced with them. “Alex!” Sookie said as she waved Aubie’s little hand at him, “what time is it?”
“DANTHEEN!” Alex said and cackled, making Aubie laugh, too.
“Auberon,” Eric got Aubie’s attention now as Sookie held him up to see Eric, “Are you dancing with your beautiful Mommy?”
“Yeh!” Aubie said in his high silly voice and made all of them laugh.
They gradually moved their party toward the tables reserved for them. Sookie was surprised to see high chairs for the boys and then noticed that there were high chairs and booster seats throughout the room. There were a lot of children there!
As Eric was putting Alex in his high chair, Sookie asked quietly. “Eric, did you know there would be this many children here?”
“Bill did mention something about families booking whole sections of the room,” I didn’t really pay attention. Is it a problem?” He fastened the tray in front of Alex then turned to help Sookie get Aubie situated.
“No, I’m just surprised. I hope it’s safe!”
“Do not worry, Sookie, you saw all the police and firefighters downstairs?”
“Aren’t they volunteers just for the party?”
“No, Sookie, I’m paying all of them triple their normal salary to see that this is the safest place in New Orleans. We are nearly as safe here as we are at home.”
“OK… “ she said more to herself “OK – we’re all safe here, we’re very very safe!” Eric could tell she needed more reassurance considering the events of the day. “Sookie, my angel, the boys can stay with us all night if you want.”
“I’m not being crazy protective?”
“No, Sookie if you are this concerned I know better than to dismiss it. What are you feeling? Is something wrong?”
Sookie thought for a minute as she sat down, her hand still on Aubie’s arm. “No, there’s nothing in particular. I don’t feel danger, I’m just a little anxious, I guess.”
“Well, relax and have a good time. Some old friends of ours just came in,” Eric wiggled his eyebrows and nodded to a table behind them where about 12 people were sitting down. Before Sookie could react, she was face to face with Angelina.
“Sookie, HI!” She said as she took a seat at their table that was right next to Sookie.. “Oh, Hi, how are you?” Sookie was still amazed this woman would speak to her, “You brought all your kids!”
“Yeah, I’m sure you know how it is, getting from point a to point b with security and nannies and all, but we’ve never attended anything like this where the kids could participate. It’s a wonderful idea!”
“Oh, thanks, I think it might have been Eric’s idea,” Sookie nodded to where Eric was standing speaking with a very enthusiastic Brad, who was dressed like a pirate.
“So you have both boys with you tonight?” Angelina nodded to the babies.
“Oh, yes – you haven’t met Aubie, have you?”
“Aubie? Is that what you call Eric Auberon?” She smiled at the kids, “They’re not quite identical are they? Aubie is smaller?”
“Yes, he is.”
Angie leaned in and whispered to Sookie, “I know he’s Fae. We’ll be at your Coronation Ceremony!”
“You will in …” Sookie nodded her head and Angie laughed.
“Yeah, there. Brad’s only been there once with me, but he loved it.”
“No one knows this, but my mother was raised in Avalon,” she whispered.
“Oh, was she…”
“Only an eighth – we’re probably third or fourth cousins from way back.”
“Mamee! Mamee!” Alex was making his “come here” motion. “Wondoo sthay ewwo!”
It took Sookie a minute to catch on, “you want to say hello?”
“Ah wyg uh!” Alex pointed at Angelina, who was thrilled.
“Oh, OK,” Sookie said as she jumped up to get Alex. “I don’t know how, but he seems to remember you,” Sookie said as she let Angelina take Alex on her lap. Since she had Alex, Sookie turned to get Aubie, too.
“Mama” Angelina’s African daughter was standing to the side. ”Is that the baby vampire?”
“Yes, Sweetie, this is Alex and this is his brother “Aubie?” She looked at Sookie to make sure she had his name right and the little girl took Alex’s hand and held it for a minute. Zahara, this is Queen Sookie. This is our oldest daughter, and this, “she pointed to a little tomboy looking around “is Shiloh, the middle girl.” Shiloh waved shyly and leaned around her sister to see both babies, then got brave and walked over to get a better look at Aubie.
Sookie recognized the two older boys who were currently enthralled by a video game. “That’s Maddox and that is Pax. They’re in their own world,” she joked. “Umm – Brad, where are the twins?”
“They’re listening to Mother Goose, I think? reading a story… Nanny is with them and one of the guys.”
Sookie and Eric both knew they were talking about security, which was probably even more a problem for them than the Northmans. Brad gave her a dazzling smile and said “Hi, Sookie!”
“Hi! It’s nice to see you again.”
“Ah!” Alex waved at him and Aubie couldn’t tell what was going on but he was with Mama so everything was OK.
“Alex, you’ve gotten so big since the first time I saw you,” Angie bounced him a little and he giggled.
“Wadiz ur dame?” Alex asked her, delighted with the attention. “You call me Angie, alright?”
“Andthsee. Obee, Andthsee!” Alex patted her cheek gently to show Aubie who he meant.
“That’s pretty good, Aubie!” Angelina gave him a big smile, stroking his cheek and making him giggle.
“Ahm Bwavod!” Alex told her.
“He’s Braveheart” Sookie interpreted.
“I see that! you’re all painted and ready for battle!”
“Ah aba shthords por fideen!”
“He has a sword for fighting” Sookie translated, then “Alex, you have a sword for PLAYING.”
“Dadee aba sthords por fideen!”
“Yes, Daddy has swords for fighting but you don’t. Alex has a sword for playing.”
“Mah Sthords!” Alex said forcefully, calling his toy sword into his hand.
“Alex! You know you’re not supposed to do that!” Sookie felt faint as everyone in their little circle gasped.
Eric reacted to Sookie’s panic, quickly discerning that most of the people around them except for the Jolie-Pitts family hadn’t seen anything. “Don’t panic, my angel, no one saw.”
Sookie’s vision blurred and she tried to respond to Eric, but could only manage “I know, I ju…just…”
Eric moved faster than the eye could see, catching Aubie and Sookie both as she passed out.
“Everyone be calm, we don’t want to cause a panic,” Eric said softly and calmly.
“We have a room on the top floor if you need some privacy,” Brad suggested.
“Good idea,” Eric nodded.