Goal! Thank you!

I met my goal, thanks to you! I can’t tell you what it means to me that you all care that much. I’m so grateful! Bright blessings!

Advertisements

LATE Chapter 115

 

Hallowe’en

 

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…”

“The COUNCIL___!”

 

*FLASH WHITE
CRASH

*FLASH RED
*FLASH ORANGE
Sookie couldn’t hear.
*FLASH YELLOW
Sookie was Swirling — 

*FLASH GREEN

and Falling —

*FLASH BLUE
Sookie struggled for breath –

*FLASH INDIGO

She tried to shriek , but nothing came out

*FLASH VIOLET

VIOLET

VIOLET

Bump__!

VIOLET

 

“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.”

“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!”

“Twayd?”

“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?”

“Pandatesth!”

“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.”

“I would?”

“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!”

“Wadiz id?”

“Sippy cup. Can you say ‘sippy cup?’”

“Sthibbee gup.”

“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.

 Knowing something was wrong, Sookie called Puff over to the side of the pool. “Here, Puffy!”

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.

“Ready, Aubie?”

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.”

“But…”

“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.

“Alright, Intruders?”

“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?”

“Niall?”

“Yes. While he’s alive…”

“… She’s at risk.”

“Aubie, too.”

“Not Alex?”

“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.

“The Highlander.”

“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?”

“Julia.”

“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?”

“Nah.”

“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.”

“Are you…?”

“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.”

“Oh..”

“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.

“Anee!”

“Andthsee.”

“Anhee”

“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.

LATE Chapter 116

When Sookie opened her eyes, she was in a dark room with the door ajar so she could see light from what she assumed was a living room. She could see her blonde wig and pink gloves on a little desk toward the window and she felt her head finding that her own hair had been taken down and brushed. She could hear soft voices in the front room and recognized Eric’s laugh. She couldn’t get up and she couldn’t make sense of what was going on so she mustered the attention needed to call out to Eric in her mind.

‘Eric? Where am I?’ Eric was in the door before she finished projecting the last word.

She tried to raise up, but she couldn’t.

“Shhh, my angel, everything is all right.”

“Where are we?”

“We are in a suite on the top floor of the Royal Senesta. Brad and Angelina thought you might like a little privacy since you were indisposed.”

“What happened to me?”

“Your Majesty,” Bjorn was at the door.

“Come in, Bjorn.” Eric motioned to him and Bjorn unrolled a blood pressure cuff and began to put it on Sookie’s arm.

“My blood pressure is too high?” she guessed.

“Just the opposite,” Bjorn told her, “you bottomed out on us.”

“Did I look like a jerk or anything?”

“No, Sookie, we should have been checking you all day, but we had so much going on…”

“Yeah, yeah, Fae assassins and dragons and pancakes and kilts.”

“You sound a little loopy, your majesty,” Bjorn was checking her pupils with a pen light.

“I feel light headed. Did I mess up the party?”

“No, my Angel, we doubt anyone even knew you passed out” Eric reassured her. “ We slowly and quietly brought you to the elevator, then I carried you the rest of the way.”

“Who took my wig off?”

“Angelina suggested you might feel better without something pressing on your scalp, so she took your hair down and even brushed it for you.”

“Wow, that was really nice of her.”

“Yes, she’s a very nice woman. Alex and Auberon love her and they’re in the front room playing with her little ones.”

“They have twins? A boy and a girl, right?”

“Yes, that’s right. Knox and Vivienne – they’re very sweet children. You met Shiloh and Zahara earlier, I believe?”

“Knock, Knock!” Angie looked in at them. “How’s our patient doing?”

“Still a little dizzy but better,” Sookie answered with a weak smile, her eyes half closed.

“Ok, we’re having a little dinner brought up for all of us. Dr. Ludwig wants you to eat and take it easy for while. I have a little knit dress you could throw on instead of your gown if you want.”

“Oh, that would be nice if it’s not too much trouble,” Sookie looked apologetic but she knew her hostess wouldn’t mind lending her something simple to wear. Angie got the little black knit dress from her luggage and she and Eric helped Sookie out of her Marilyn gown and into the much more comfortable black t-shirt dress. Angie put the gown on a hanger and Eric lead Sookie out to the front room where Brad, Bobbie, Bjorn and the two sets of twins were waiting.

The children were playing with some wooden alphabet blocks and having fun. Aubie was able to sit up and to stack one block on top of another, which Bobbie later said she thought were new abilities for him. The Jolie-Pitt kids were a little older than the Northman boys, but they were pretty evenly matched with Aubie in terms of basic skills.

“Here’s our little sick girl!” Brad gave Sookie a big smile and a kiss on the cheek as she let the others lead her into the room. It did not escape Sookie’s attention that he was dressed like pirate with a sword, a goatee and black eyeliner. Yum.

“Sorry if I ruined the party…” Sookie began to apologize, but the others laughed gently. “What’s so funny?” Sookie wasn’t exactly hurt but she didn’t expect them to laugh.

“Don’t worry, Sweetie,” Angelina told her, “the party hasn’t even started yet!” She said with a wicked little wiggle of her perfect eyebrows.

Food was arriving so no explanation followed as every one was dishing out the delicacies and getting bibs on babies, passing out glasses of sparkling wine from Brad and Angelina’s own vineyard.

As soon as she got a few Asian style chicken wings, shrimp balls,  and some grilled pineapple in her, plus a glass of orange juice followed by a little white wine spritzer, Sookie was nearly her old self. Bjorn was wandering in and out, looking fantastic in a tux Bobbie picked out for him, consulting with a couple of big guys who were obviously security and Bobbie was helping Aubie eat some pureed grilled pineapple and little bits of chicken with his brand new teeth.  Their Nanny was helping Knox and Vivienne, but Alex didn’t need any help.

Before Sookie knew he moved he had grabbed two mini-legs from Sookie’s plate, one in each little fist, and sucked all the meat off of them with a happy growl.

“Alex, wait, you can’t eat all that, there’s cartilage and stuff!” Sookie intended to pull it out of his mouth before he choked, but he swallowed it all nearly whole and gave a little kittenish hiss followed by a big burp. Sookie’s mouth dropped open but everyone else laughed. “Eric, I’m afraid he’ll choke!”

“Alex, my son, slow down. Mommy needs to eat, too,” He spoke slowly and distinctly, to let Alex know he was serious, but he also winked at him so Alex understood that this was a “Mamee thing.”

“Wayd por beebee sthisthuh?” Alex asked, provoking a smile and a nod from Dadee.

Dadee prepared Alex for this telling him during story time that he was not to upset Mamee  while they waited for baby sister so he waited politely for Sookie to shred some more meat from some wing pieces and he ate the pieces with his fingers, sticking his whole hand in a bowl of ketchup that came with a big platter of fries, which he also munched while waiting for Mamee to get on with the chicken pickin’.

As the kids finished their food and began wanting to sleep everyone focused on getting them into pajamas and gathering up dishes. Sookie was surprised that there were ‘jammies in a bag for Alex and Aubie, too, and that Alicia and Octavia as well as Amelia and Jerry had come to sit with them during the rest of the party.

“I didn’t know you all were here?!” She said, tickled to see Octavia and Alicia especially.

“There’s a lot you don’t know, Queenie – the fun is just starting.” Octavia teased her.

Eric knelt by Sookie’s chair and asked, “Feeling better, now, Sookie? Would you like to go home now or would you like to go to the VIP party that starts at 11:30?”

“VIP Party?!” Her eyes brightened and Eric beamed at her, “Oh yes, this was just the party before the real party,” he gave her a wicked grin and wiggled his eyebrows in that way she loved. “I want to stay on one condition!”

“What would that be?” He tried to look suspicious because she obviously knew he would deny her nothing.

“I want to put my Marilyn gown back on but not the wig…” she looked hopefully at him.

“Yes, I’ve never liked wearing wigs myself,” he laughed, “Your own beautiful hair is much more attractive – it’s so soft and glows like corn silk. Angelina remarked on the glorious color when she brushed it earlier.” He leaned closer and whispered conspiratorially into her ear “I think she was surprised that the color is natural – she expected dark roots, apparently.” Sookie had been taking a drink of wine and nearly spit it out. She gave a wicked little laugh that told him she was good to go another few hours. This was good news. He wouldn’t tell her until later that this night had been planned for months and he had been afraid he’d have to cut the night short. If she’d been too sick to go on, he’d never have told her what she missed.

It took Sookie, Bobbie and Angelina working together to get Sookie back into the pink satin gown and Alicia had to tape the top a little to make sure Sookie didn’t pop out of it since the pregnancy was making her a little top heavy.
“You’re so lucky – you can barely tell you’re pregnant,” Angelina marveled at her as she turned to change into her own costume – a very pretty lavender Faerie costume with ribbons all over, a thigh split and not a little cleavage. She let Sookie borrow some make up as she added some hot pink hair pieces to her own ebony locks, then sprayed it with a little glitter. Sookie was getting pretty good at doing her own cat’s eye liner and Alicia added some real gold in a special solution to her lids. She finished with a shocking pink velvety lipstick that matched her fuchsia gown.

“Bobbie,  that dress is gorgeous,” Sookie told her about her lacy black gown, “you look like Stevie Nicks… she’s so  beautiful, I always wanted to be her for Hallowe’en when I was a kid but I was afraid people would say I was a Witch.  It’s too bad you didn’t wear a costume, though…” Sookie felt a little bad about that, but it didn’t last when Bobbie replied, “I did, Sookie, I’m dressed as a Witch!” and the three of them cracked up.

“Aren’t you a little young to be a Stevie fan, Sookie?” Angelina asked, her feigning innocence.

“Yeah, but I have all my dad’s old Fleetwood Mac albums and  mom had most of her early solo stuff. I used to dance around my room with Gran’s crocheted table cloth and a hair brush singing along, though she’d yell at me for stretching it out,” she laughed.

“I never heard you mention that before, Sookie,” Bobbie said, honestly.

“I know. It makes me a little sad because I associate her with my mom. I only mentioned it to Eric once, but I don’t dwell. I guess I could have been her for this Hallowe’en but Eric and I like Marilyn and once Amunet hooked me up with the seamstress, I decided to wait for another year.”

Angie and Bobbie exchanged looks, but said nothing. Angelina had several pretty beaded and feathered masks that someone had contributed for the evening, so the three of them were ready to rock.

The funniest part of the evening was when they returned to the living room and Brad, who had been a pirate captain, had switched to Eric’s Black leather Highlander coat, while Eric was wearing the Pirate gear.

There were some hushed (so as not to wake the babies in the other rooms)  squeals from the women, “Eric, you look like such a badass pirate!” Sookie bubbled.

“What about me?” Brad teased, “I’m a Vampire King!” He pronounced with a flourish of the cape-like coat and sword (which was not real as Eric’s was.)

“To match my Faerie Queen!” Angelina laughed and waved a beribboned wand with a silver sparkled star on the end.

“And a lovely one,” Eric nodded to her, then kissed her hand – “I’ve only ever seen one prettier…” He flirted, then winked at Sookie, who was pretty much jumping up and down, five inch heels be damned.

“Why did you guys decide to switch clothes?!” Sookie wondered later how they fit, but that was beyond the point.

Brad laughed, “It was Bjorn’s idea – he thought you’d like Eric to wear some eyeliner for some reason,” he teased.

“You owe me one, Your Majesty” Bjorn kidded Sookie.

“Yes, I do!” she laughed as she grabbed Eric’s belt buckle and pulled him toward her. She popped up on tip toes so he could kiss her but she nipped at his lip instead.

“Someone is back in the holiday spirit, I see!” Eric said, knowing Sookie would love the next part of the night.

“I don’t know, Eric, I think I’m starting to regret changing costumes,” Brad laughed with only a little jealousy.

“Don’t be jealous, Honey, you look pretty tasty, too,” Sookie vamped in her best breathy Marilyn voice cracking everyone up.

“It’s quarter after 11, Sire,” Bjorn reminded Eric, “You want to be seated by 11:30.”

Eric nodded and put his hand on Sookie’s back to gently guide her into the hall.

“Hey, isn’t the ballroom that way?” Sookie asked, wondering why they went this way. Was she all turned around?

“We’re going to the Hospitality Suite that overlooks Bourbon St., Sookie. Wait until you see it!” Bobbie was about to bust. They approached a suite with open french doors and saw Amelia standing outside talking to Jerry as others people moved in and out.

“Amelia what are you doing here?!” Sookie said incredulously, “I thought you were watching the babies?!”

“Don’t worry about that, Your Majesty,” Jerry said with a sly look, “this suite has four bedrooms, and the twins are tucked in safe as can be. We won’t leave them unguarded for a minute.”

“Wow, this is huge!” Sookie marveled as she tried to take it all in. “There’s a bar in here!  And a white grand piano! Pretty red roses! That looks like there’s going to be music in here. I hope it’s not boring…”

“You’ll be happy, Sookie, promise!” Angelina laughed as she took Sookie’s hand and led her to a seat right beside the piano as Eric and Brad went to the bar for drinks and so Eric could schmooze some local dignitaries. There were musicians setting up with acoustic guitars that had “pick-ups” for amplification attached and some primitive looking drums of the type you play by hand. There was a big thing with lots of buttons that Sookie thought was a synthesizer. There was so much to see!

“Hello, Mr. Mayor!” A man said to the man sitting directly behind Sookie. She looked around and recognized his wife, so smiled and gave her some “sugar” as Gran would call it – that extra sweet manner that you use for ladies you know in “society.” “Hi, so nice to see you!”

“Oh, we wouldn’t have missed this for the world!” replied Mrs. Mayor, so pleased the Vampire Queen recognized her.

A tall thin man with very long curly hair walked in and picked up one of the guitars, tuning it and fussing with a stool. Sookie was about to say “He looks so familiar!” but fireworks were going off out in the streets and you could hear people cheering and whooping it up.

“Wow, the crowd outside is crazy!” Sookie laughed at the bacchanal which was obviously in full swing below the balcony that overlooked Bourbon St. Suddenly Sookie saw a familiar face across the room.  “Angie, do you see that woman with the dark hair and the long sleeved black sequined gown over there?” Sookie whispered to her as other people quickly came in and found seats throughout the room.

“You mean Anne Rice?” Angie asked.

“Yes, I thought that was her! This is some swanky party if she’s here. OH – I forgot Brad was in that movie!”

“Mm-hmm,” Angie agreed as the woman waved to her and started toward them. “Time to be the Queen, Sookie,” reminding Sookie that this was her party and hoping she wouldn’t be too starstruck. Sookie caught on and took a deep breath and let it out.

“Angelina, how delighted I am to see you! And your children were here earlier, I saw.”

“Yes, they’re all nearby. Have you met Queen Sookie Northman?” She knew Sookie was about to bust.

Sookie put on her emergency smile and removed the pretty lace mask she was wearing. “I’m so pleased to meet you! I’ve read all your work over and over!”

“I’m so happy to know you enjoy it! I’m sure it doesn’t compare to real life?”

“Oh, well, I’m definitely glad I read your books before I met my husband.” The three women cackled a little as the lights in the room blinked twice.

Anne seemed delighted, “almost show time!” she laughed and headed back to her seat.

“Five minutes, Ladies and Gentlemen.”  A maitre d’ or something announced as people became more orderly and the pace at the bar picked up so people could sit down.

“Wow, look at all the paintings displayed in here!” Sookie said, still trying to take it all in. “Eric, is all this beautiful art from your collection?” She asked as he sat beside her.

“No, Sweetheart these are painted by tonight’s guest performer.”

“He can paint and play piano, too? Some people are so talented” she said wistfully as the lights in the room were turned low and a spotlight pointed at the white piano.

“I’ll be right back, Sweetheart, here hold my handkerchief for me” Eric said as he kissed Sookie’s cheek and stepped to the front of the room .

“Avast ye mateys!” Eric joked, playing up the Pirate look, taking the big hat off, his long blonde hair in a pony tail tied with velvet ribbon, and he bowed to the room. “Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m Eric Northman. My beautiful wife, Queen Sookie, and I are honored to welcome you to our first Samhain in New Orleans. The Witching Hour approaches, so  I won’t keep you waiting any longer, will you please welcome our honored guest, Ms. Stevie Nicks.”

And suddenly, there She was! The Goddess of Rock was sitting right next to Sookie who was so shocked she began to quietly cry and shake. Eric looked at her, putting his arm around her. He kissed her hair and gave her a gentle squeeze and whispered, “Happy Hallowe’en, My Angel.”  She lay her head on his chest, his right arm around her shoulders, her left hand reaching across him to hold his left hand, fingers entwined, to let him know how she felt because there were no words. No wonder he handed her his handkerchief! She was hoping she didn’t have eyeliner running down her cheeks.

Stevie took a quick bow, then sat at the piano and began to sing a song that seemed to be about what was happening right now. She later found it it was called “New Orleans:”

In the city of dreams

Lies the city’s ghost

There’s a beginning

There’s a middle and an end in this city

We reach out for the middle ground

We throw a great party*

 (*she emphasized this line with a flourish as the audience applauded softly)

So hearts will start to mend

We forgive… at least we try

In the midst of the sea of dreams

Lies a perfect storm

In the sea of tears

Lies a city ghost

In the spirit of the Mardi Gras

Well, the people hope

That their lives will get better

The people hope

That their lives will get better

I wanna get a room in New Orleans

I wanna sing in the streets of the French Quarter

I wanna dress up

I wanna wear beads

I wanna wear feathers and lace

I wanna brush by Anne Rice

(the audience laughed and applauded)

And go down Bourbon Street

I see a sea of smiles

I see a haunted city reachin’ out

I see hope in all their faces

Behind the mask of Mardi Gras

Where the good and the righteous walk

And the wicked as well

I wanna get a room in New Orleans

I wanna sing in the streets of the French Quarter

(the audience joined in the chorus this time through}

I wanna dress up

I wanna wear beads

I wanna wear feathers and lace

I wanna brush by the vampires

{Stevie really played this line up}

I wanna dress up, ooh yea

I wanna wear feathers and lace

I wanna brush by Anne Rice

And go down Bourbon Street

Mmmm, go on down Bourbon Street

Within these rooms

{she motioned to show the room they were in}

I go up to my balcony

{she nodded toward the street then spoke the next lines}

And I hang my paintings on the wall

And I open up my gallery

{she indicated her art}

And I open up my doors

I stare at the city

I stare at my city

I wanna get a room in New Orleans

I wanna sing in the streets of the French Quarter

I wanna dress up

I wanna wear beads

I wanna wear feathers and lace

I wanna brush by the vampires

I wanna get back to New Orleans

I wanna sing out in the streets of the French Quarter

I wanna dress up

I wanna wear beads

I wanna wear feathers and lace

I wanna brush by Anne Rice

Go down Bourbon Street

Go down Bourbon Street

Go on down Bourbon Street

Go on down Bourbon Street

Go on down

Go on down

Go on down

Go on down Bourbon Street

In the city of tears

Lies the city ghost

When the song ended, Sookie finally caught her breath. She felt like she was dreaming. It was almost like being hugged by Freyja and by her own mom at the same time. She never dared wish for such a gift. This was so far beyond anything she ever imagined – Eric had reached right inside Sookie and found what she wanted so much she didn’t even know to ask for it.

Suddenly the bass player laid down a minor chord thumping rhythmically in a way that spoke of darkness and Baelfires, spiral dances and fucking.

Stevie introduced the next song: “This is for all my Sisters here tonight on this beautiful Samhain evening, it’s called SISTERS OF THE MOON

Intense silence

As she walked in the room

Her black robes trailing

Sister of the moon

And a black widow spider makes

More sound than she

And black moons in those eyes of hers

Made more sense to me

Heavy persuasion

It was hard to breathe

She was dark at the top of the stairs

And she called to me

And so I followed

As friends often do

I cared not for love, nor money

I think she knew

Well, the people they still love her

And still they are the most cruel

She asked me

Be my sister, sister, sister of the moon

Some call her sister of the moon

Some say illusions are her game

They like to wrap her in velvet

Does anyone, ooo…know her name!

Then Stevie began to play a slow but familiar melody which the audience instantly recognized… Singing very slowly and looking right at Sookie:

Rhiannon rings like a bell through the night

and wouldn’t you love to love her?

She rules her life like a bird in flight

and who will be her lover?

All your life you’ve never seen

a woman taken by the sky.

Well would you stay if she promised to you heaven?

Would you even try?

And he says, “Rhiannon, Don’t go.”

And he says, “Rhiannon, stay.”

And he says, “I still cry out for you.

Rhiannon

{then the bass line became harder, more intense, irresistibly primitive, mesmerizing}

She rings like a bell through the night.

And wouldn’t you love to love her?

She rules her life like a bird in flight.

And who will be her lover?

All your life you’ve never seen

a woman taken by the sky.

Well would you stay if she promised to you heaven?

Would you even try? Say, would you even try?

She is like a cat in the dark,

then baby, she is your darkness.

She rules her life like a fine skylark,

when the sky is starless.

Once in a million years a lady like her rises.

Oh no, Rhiannon, you cry, but she’s gone

Your life knows no answer, Your life knows no answer.

Dreams unwind

Love’s a state of mind

Your dreams unwind

Love’s a state of mind

Your dreams unwind

And love is hard to find, I know.

Your dreams unwind

And still it’s a state of mind, I know

Dreams unwind

And still it’s hard to find, I know

Dreams unwind

And still it’s a state of mind, I know

Take me like the wind, child

Take me with the sky

Take me now

Take me like the wind, baby

Take me with the sky

All the same

All the same

All the same, Rhiannon

All the same

Baby, all the same

All the same

(more slowly now…)

And he still cries out for her,

“Don’t leave me now.”

“Don’t leave me now.”

“Don’t leave me now.”

Sookie just let the beautiful music wash over her. In her mind she could see herself as a child of about three or four, sitting on her mother’s lap as they rocked in the old white rocking chair that still sat on Sookie’s porch in Bon Temps. Stevie’s Bella Donna album was playing softly in the background and Sookie could see a woman in a white dress standing in the corner watching them and suddenly realized that the woman she thought she imagined as a child was Freyja!

As if she stepped back in time, Sookie was the child in her mother’s arms and felt the very real sensations of being held and loved and tucked into her little bed. Mama turned the light out as she closed the door, apparently never noticing the glorious Lady in the corner. Sookie’s eyes blinked slowly watching the Lady float slowly over to her bedside as the scent of roses filled the room.

Little Sookie asked “are you a fairy?”

“No, my Angel, but you are,” Freyja said softly as Sookie fell asleep.

Sookie’s eyes popped open, her head still on Eric’s chest, still in this wonderful dream which she hoped would never end. Had she been asleep? She didn’t want to miss a minute of Stevie’s singing but she was bursting to tell Eric that the “Fairy Lady” from her childhood was Freyja!

Stevie adjusted her mic a little, saying “I wrote this next song with Edgar Allan Poe when I was 17.” People froze, then laughed. “I don’t look that old, do i?” she laughed as the audience laughed with her. “Actually, he wrote the lyrics in 1849, the last poem he finished before his death. I’d like to dedicate this song to King Eric and Queen Sookie because it’s about a love that transcends death. It’s called Annabel Lee.”

People applauded and Stevie sang:

Annabel Lee

It was many and many a year ago

In a kingdom by the sea

That a maiden lived

Whom you may know

By the name of Annabel Lee

This maiden, she lived

With no other thought

Than to love and be loved by me

She was a child and I was a child

In this kingdom by the sea

We loved with a love

That was more than a love

I and my Annabel Lee

With a love that the winged

Angels of heaven

They coveted her and me

And the moon never beams

Without bringing me dreams

And the sun never shines

But I see the bright eyes

I lie down by the side

The angels, not half

So happy in heaven

Went envying her and me

That was the reason as all men know

In this kingdom by the sea

That the wind came out

Of the cloud that night

Killing my, my Annabel Lee

And the moon never beams

Without bringing me dreams

And the sun never shines

But I see the bright eyes

I lie down by the side

But our love was stronger

By far than the love

Of those who were older than we

Many far wiser than we

Neither the angels in heaven above

Nor the demons down under the sea

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee

And the moon never beams

Without bringing me dreams

And the sun never shines

But I see the bright eyes

I lie down by the side

I lie down by the side of my darling

My life, my life and my bride

I lie down by the side

I lie down by the side, my darling

My life, my life and my bride

I lie down by the side

I lie down by the side

I lie down by the side

I lie down by the side of my darling

My life, my life and my bride

I lie down

I lie down by the side of my darling

My life, my life

I lie down by the side of my darling

My life, my life and my bride

I lie down

I lie down

I lie down by the side

At the end of the song, Stevie stood up and bowed as people continued to applaud, and she took a red rose from the arrangement on the white piano and handed it to Sookie, who was awestruck. People were moving forward to speak to Stevie, who whispered to Sookie “Don’t leave yet – I have a special present for you,” then she straightened up and spoke to some of the various VIPs in attendance, greeting Anne Rice with a big hug and kiss.

Eric and Sookie stood up and prepared to talked to the people who wanted to see them, too. Sookie was holding Eric’s hand and was not about to let go, even as Angelina asked her, “Were you surprised, Sookie?!”

“I’m blown away! Is my eyeliner smeared? Did you know about this?” She asked as Bobbie came up to them.

Bobbie and Angelina laughed and said “Yes!” together.

“I’ve been going crazy trying to keep it secret,” Bobbie told her, “The only one who didn’t know was you! Bill went all kinds of lengths trying to make sure you didn’t see anything at the offices.”

“Hey – where is Bill?” Sookie asked as she suddenly realized he was absent.
“Bill is at Fangtasia helping Pam with the party there,” Bobbie explained, “Eric was satisfied that there was enough help through the office and the hotel that he could be spared.”

“That seems strange…” Sookie started, but then she realized Eric was free for a minute, pulled him to her and gave him a huge, hot kiss, his face in her hands. “Thank you, Eric, this was amazing,”

“I’m glad you enjoyed it, my angel. There’s something else – Stevie has to explain it, though, it’s a Witch thing,” he winked at her with that glint in his eye that she loved.

“Ooh, goodie!” Sookie said nearly jumping up and down as she turned back to  Angie and Bobbie. “Do you guys know what the surprise is?”

“I have no idea but Brad said it involves us, too.”

Bobbie wiggled her eyebrows and made them both laugh.

“Bobbie! I can hear you, you know!” Sookie could hear Bobbie’s dirty mind at work and was she getting an earful.

“I have an idea what it is,” Bobbie teased, “but I have no idea how it is.”

“Huh?!” Sookie and Angie looked at each other quizzically.

Servers were moving through the room with glasses of champagne and trays of amazing food as the evening became more of a cocktail party so the girls took the opportunity to eat some cajun shrimp, which was spicy huge shrimp wrapped in bacon, some cheese puffs that Angelina said were called “gougere”

and some little paper cups that had a watermelon and feta cheese salad in them.
“Watermelon and – what’s this cheese called, Bobbie?”
“Feta.”

“I never heard of eating watermelon with cheese before… Or wait, maybe at one of the openings…”

Angelina laughed and kicked one back as if it were a shot of liquor. Sookie did the same.

“Wow – that’s weird! Delicious, and weird,” Sookie laughed.

Brad came over to the girls as Eric spoke to the Mayor, “Ok, Ladies, Stevie requests that we meet in the fourth bedroom back that way.” He pointed to a corridor and the four of them moved in that direction. As they moved past the first door, Bjorn came out and spoke to Jerry, who nodded and took a post at the door.

Brad asked Bjorn. “Is the room ready?”

“Yes, it’s all set up. It’ll just be the 6 of us.”

They entered a bedroom where Stevie was setting a large blue velvet box on a wooden table in the center of three sets of two chairs arranged in a triangle. There were candles all around the room and a soft scent of incense.

“Come on in!” Stevie smiled.

“Are we going to do magick?” Sookie wondered aloud as Eric came through the door and Bjorn locked it behind him.

“Technically, I’m going to do magick,” Stevie laughed, “but you’ll be the ones enjoying it.”

“Not you?” Sookie was a little disappointed

“Oh, don’t worry about me, I’ll be around.” Stevie laughed. “grab your mate and take a seat everyone and we’ll get this show on the road.”

Stevie took the lid off the velvet box and the sides folded out and way from its contents. The thing inside was glowing as if lit from within, and was shaped like a 3-sided pyramid. Stevie left it on the table and stepped out of the circle to stand behind Eric and Sookie. She placed her hands on Sookie’s shoulders, kneading them just a bit. “Relax, Sookie, you’re going to love this. Everything is all right. Now everyone take hands, boy-girl-boy-girl.”

Sookie already had Eric’s left hand and now Bjorn took her other in his. Bobbie had his and Brad’s, Angelina had Brad’s and Eric’s.

Stevie continued,  “Sit up straight and breathe slowly. If at any time you get scared or things start to go bad, all you have to do is release your hands and take off this mask,” she explained as she handed out feathered and sequined masks to them all, “you’ll jolt right back to safety but only do that in case of emergency – it’s a rough ride and not in a good way.”

Everyone laughed and put on their luxurious masks on. They were really nice satin and velvet – simple black ones for the guys and lovely black feathered, purple beaded ones for the girls.

“Do we have to keep these masks on all night?” Eric asked, very curious about the process.

“No, but don’t lose them, and don’t let go of your hands in the triangle if you do. These have to go back to the owner by noon tomorrow.”

Everyone had their masks in place and were all holding hands again. Stevie saw they were settled and began the Work:

Numena, Numena, Mater Magna, Nuema, Numena, Mater Omnia

This…” she pointed to the pyramid which was now throbbing and opening to show a crystalline flower that was pulsing with all the colors of the rainbow, turning and bathing them all with twinkling light, “… is called a Masquerade. It cloaks your true identity and allows you to move among crowds with anonymity. You’re all going to join the pleasures of Mardi Gras as if you’re regular people who are neither rich nor famous. People will see you and interact with you, but they won’t be able to see who you really are.”

Everyone was stunned.

Numena, Numena, Mater Magna

“Is this possible? No one will know us?” Sookie asked, very excited.

“Oh, yes – no Queen Sookie tonight,” Eric assured her, “you’re just a pretty girl running through the streets with everyone else.”

Nuema, Numena, Mater Omnia

“All of us?” Angie couldn’t believe it, either.

“Yes,” Stevie continued as she walked around them and put strings of Mardi Gras beads in gold, purple and green around each of their necks, “You run with the parade, flash the tourists for beads, drink, dance, do whatever you want because no one will ever know you were there:

Numena, Numena, Magna Mater Nuema, Numena, Mater Omnia

“How long will it last?” Brad asked

“Until sun light, so I’d head back here by no later than 5, Cinderella,” Stevie teased. Nuema, Numena, Mater Omnia

“Bobbie and Bjorn, too?” not to be rude but Sookie couldn’t see why they needed it,

“We’re going to keep an eye on you, Sookie. You still need my protection even if you’re invisible.” ‘Bjorn teased her.

“Awesome!” Bobbie was ready party.

‘Invisible?” Sookie asked – that was something different, she hoped.

“Not invisible, anonymous.” Stevie laughed and reassured her, “Three pretty ladies and their beaux out for a night of bar-hopping, parading and raising the roof New Orleans style. Nuema, Numena, Mater Omnia… ”

“Oh, but I can’t drink! The baby…”

“Actually, Sookie, Doctor Ludwig said to drink what you want – it won’t affect her,” Bjorn told her.

“Doctor Ludwig knows about this?”

“Of course, Sookie, we couldn’t risk hurting you or the baby. She assures us this is safe for you both,” Eric put her mind at ease so now Sookie was raring to go. She’d worked in bars before, but she never had a friend to go “clubbing” with. This was going to be fun!

Stevie was continuing to chant, saying “Now watch the pretty lights from the lotus:

Numena, Numena, Magna Mater Nuema, Numena, Mater Omnia,

Numena, Numena, sub rosa omnia, Dea Secreta, sub rosa omnia,

Omnia, omnia sub rosa, Dea secreto, Dea Obscura memoria, Omnia sub rosa

Suddenly the room seemed to shift and Sookie held Eric’s hand as tight as she could. She was very glad Bjorn had hold of her, too! She could hear Stevie’s deep voice chanting but she was spinning in space and praying she didn’t throw up before she landed.

There were three big pulses of energy and light:

Womp,

Womp

Womp … and the world got REALLY LOUD with trumpet blasting out When the Saints Go Marching In.

The six of them were suddenly standing in a circle on Bourbon street with the parade in full force. They all opened their eyes and couldn’t believe where they were.

“Alright,” Eric took the lead, “Are we all here? Everyone make it through the whirlwind?’

“I’m still standing, right?” Sookie laughed, a little dizzy but excited that it seemed to work. She threw her arms around Eric and he kissed her until her knees buckled, then laughed as he held her up.

“Whew! Hey, Sookie, is that what it feels like when you pop in and out of places,” Bobbie asked, delighted with everything that was happening right now, including being on Bjorn’s muscular arm.

“Sometimes, yeah!”

Brad was cracking up and so was Angie as they sort of held each other up. They were surrounded by people throwing confetti, whooping it up, throwing beads and dancing along.

“What do we do first?!” Angie was excited because it had been a long time since she had gone bar-hopping. Brad answered her by lighting up a joint and taking a deep drag, then passing it around.

“Oh, goodie!” Sookie jumped up and down, “I always wanted to try that!”

Sookie took it from Bobbie enthusiastically and took a deep drag. She knew she had to try to hold it in but she coughed like crazy, but she was jumping again as Eric took a drag of it. “Yay!”

“Does that work for vampires?” Brad asked, fascinated.

“For most, no, but I can get a pleasant sensation from it. Probably connected to the fact that I can eat some food occasionally.”

“Hey, when did you figure that out?” Sookie asked, wondering if he’d be doing this without her.

“When we knew what we were doing tonight, I tried it at the offices last week. One of the girls had some in her purse and she …. hooked me up!” It took him just a minute to remember that phrase. Maybe he was a little buzzed?!

“OK, now that we’ve got a start, I suggest we all do some shots!” Angle proposed and everyone quickly agreed. They went into the first bar they found and ordered shots of Tequila, except for Eric who had something called a
“Fairy Squeeze” that was just for vamps.

“Not exactly the most PC name for that,” Sookie joked, “I’m their Queen, you know!’

“That’s right I can’t wait for your coronation!” Angie laughed, showing Sookie how to rub lime on her hand and sprinkle it with salt. “Ok, people, kick it back!” Angie laughed and they all downed their shots.
“Wow, that’s like swallowing sunshine,” Sookie laughed while Angie was ordering another round for the group and gathering up the used lime rinds.

The rest of the night was a blur for Sookie. They finished a third round of shots then hit the street and danced along with the parade.

It was a riot of color and noise. At one point Sookie couldn’t see what was happening so Eric hoisted her up on his shoulder so she had the best view on the street.
“Wow, lucky!” Angie said, a little jealous, but then Eric bent his knees and lifted her up onto his other shoulder. Sookie and Angie grabbed each other’s hands and shrieked and giggled like little girls. “He’s so srong!” Angie never dreamed Eric could do something like this!

“LOOK, There’s the King of the parade!” Sookie shouted, and the float passed them, beads flying from everywhere. There were fireworks going off in the sky, and Angie said, “Sookie, look!”

Sookie turned to her to ask what she was supposed to look at and Angie gave her a big kiss which elicited a bunch of reactions from the rest of the group.

“Hey, no fair!” Bobbie teased them.

Brad and Bjorn were stunned and Eric was happy to be in the middle of it.

“Look,” Angie said when they parted lips “there’s a disco down there. Let’s all go dance for a while!”

Eric let the girls down and Brad had another joint going so they all finished it off quickly and went into the dance club.

They bought another round of drinks and DJ started playing Lady Marmalade which had Sookie, Bobbie and Angie shrieking again.

“I love this song!” Sookie bubbled and the bar tender told her “Easy for you to say, they’re playing the damned song every half hour,” and they were all cracking up as they dragged all the guys onto the dance floor.

Another crazy dance mix came on and Bjorn yelled “Everybody switch partners!” and they did, so Sookie was dancing with Bjorn, Eric with Angelina and Bobbie with Brad. Bobbie thought to herself if they never paid her another dime this job with still the best deal EVER. Nobody was being shy, either, there was plenty of bumping and grinding going on.

That song was an extended dance mix so they spent quite a while with their new partners. When they started playing a Bee Gees mix, Eric said “switch again!” and they did. Bobbie was suddenly chest to chest with Eric, Sookie was with Brad and Bjorn finally got to wrap his arms about Angelina, who didn’t mind at all.  Eric decided to give Bobbie a thrill so he twirled her around and then gave her a big “dip.” Sookie was giving Brad a little dirty dancing and whispered in his ear “I can hear your thoughts, you know?” and they both cracked up at that.

That song ended and they all went laughing and whooping it up to their own partner. This song turned out to be an extended version of “Stand Back” and the girls all yelled, “STEVIE!” and Sookie was sure she could hear Stevie laughing somewhere. In fact, she thought she saw her twirling with a white shawl in one of the mirrored walls of the club, but it was just a glimpse and she was gone.

The rest of the night was a glorious kaleidoscope of color and sensation  for Sookie and she enjoyed all of it. Every now and then, though, the room would spin. She decided it must have been the alcohol so she didn’t mention it and just kept partying. They were all dancing down the street when Eric picked Sookie up and spun around with her and the world was suddenly bright white and spinning.

Sookie finally felt still for a minute and she knew she was on the ground. She was quiet for a while and remembered to put her palms out flat to ground her energy. She thought she was there a long time, and she was very comfortable so she just went to sleep.

“Mom?” A young girl’s voice said, “MOM!”  and someone was shaking Sookie the way you do to wake someone. Sookie opened her eyes and was looking into the very pretty face of a girl about 14 years old with long blonde hair.

“Whew – you were sure out of it, Mom, I thought something was wrong!”
“Sunny?” Sookie recognized her this time and realized she was lying in warm sand by the shore. She smiled gently and placed her palm gently on the side of the girl’s face. “What’s going on?”

“Freyja said I should warn you not to freak out.”

“Freak out?” UH-OH!

“Yeah, I’m tired of waiting…”

Nothingness.

Sookie didn’t open her eyes yet, but she knew she was safe in her bed and she could hear rain and thunder outside. She stretched a bit,  smiling and giggling to herself about all the fun last night. She was sure that she had just been to Freyja’s and had seen Sunny and she should tell someone but she was too comfortable right now. She let out a deep sigh and wrapped her arms around the baby in her belly but suddenly her hand was in something slimy and something on top of her was wiggling like crazy!

“Eric!” She shrieked as she threw back the covers. Eric came flying out of his box in the closet as Bjorn jumped up and Bobbie came running into the room, too. Alex and Aubie, who had been napping next to Sookie in their little wicker bed, were flying above the bed watching her with big eyes.

“Help me!  What’s happening?!” Sookie was frantic – instead of a baby bump there was this squirming little thing enclosed in some kind of membrane on top of her and she couldn’t make sense of it at all. Sookie was covered with blood and trying to hold onto this tiny baby in all of this slime as everyone froze for a minute trying to decide what to do.

“Wookie, Dadee, bud!” Alex knew something exciting was happening but he didn’t know what. He and Aubie both popped their fangs and hissed at the sight of blood.

“Mama!” Aubie started toward Sookie but Alex grabbed his hand and said “Nah nah, Obee, Dadee!”

“The baby” Bobbie was first to find her voice. “I’ll get towels!”

“I’m calling Ludwig,” Bjorn said at the same time and immediately had his phone to his ear.

“Sunny!” Eric was thrilled once he was sure that Sookie was not hurt and fascinated that the baby was enclosed in a sac of some kind. “Sookie, the baby!” Eric picked the little thing up very gently and cradled her in his arms where she stopped wiggling so much and was calm.

‘Dadee, wadiz dat?!” Alex wasn’t sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing.

‘This is your baby sister, boys!” Eric held her so they could look at her and they came a little closer.

‘Beebee?” Aubie asked. “Mama beedeen?” Aubie was starting to cry but Alex held his hand and said, “Nah, nah, Obee, Mamee oday.”

Ludwig popped into the room, laughing with delight. “Well, now, our little girl wouldn’t wait any longer!” She laughed as Bobbie put down a towel and Eric gently laid the baby on it then held his hands open to Aubie who flew into his arms anxiously. Eric kissed him and said “Mommy’s alright, Auberon, Your little sister is here! See.” He nodded to where the baby was being fussed over and Aubie watched for a bit, chewing on his finger, trusting that Dada said it was all right.
Eric was fascinated as Ludwig pierced the sac, then cut and tied off the baby’s umbilical cord. “Doctor, what is this thing she was contained in?”

‘That’s called the amniotic sac. In most pregnancies, that opens when the birth process begins and that’s what they call breaking water. This little one decided to skip the discomfort of the birth canal all together. It’s good that you called me – handling this wrong could be fatal, but all is well now. She looks healthy and strong, though she’s a tiny little thing.”

Bobbie handed Ludwig a little rubber bulb thing that she used to clear the mouth and sinuses. The baby took a big breath and wailed like a banshee.

Eric was laughing with delight as Bobbie took Aubie from him and the doctor let him pick her up and he gave her a big kiss on the forehead.

Sookie was still trying to process what was happening but she knew enough to be concerned, “Is she alright? Isn’t it too early for her?”

“It’s early, but we couldn’t hold her back anymore.” Ludwig laughed. “The minute Freyja was sure neither of you would be harmed She let the little girl go.”

“We should give her a bath, yes?” Eric was beside himself as he held the tiny thing in his hands.

“Put her to Mama’s breast for a bit first,” Ludwig told him, as she turned to look Sookie over. She lifted the bloody white gown Sookie was wearing. “There’s no real bleeding here,” she explained as she felt Sookie’s abdomen, “this is all just from the baby. Does anything hurt, little girl?”

“No…” Sookie considered the question for a bit, “No, nothing hurts. I actually feel pretty good, all things considered.”

“Alright, let me just check your blood pressure, and we’ll let your helpers take over and clean you up.”  She pumped up the cuff on Sookie’s arm and looked concerned but not alarmed. “Anderson, I want you to check her blood pressure every half hour and you call me if it spikes or drops more than ten points. It’s not bad at the moment, but it could be better. Bobbie, you can handle things from here?”

“Yep, we’re good!”

“Alright, feed her for a bit, Mama, then let them give her a very gentle bath. Congratulations on the birth of your little princess, your majesty,” Ludwig said with a big smile then POP she was gone.

“OK, so give me my baby and let me feed her a bit!” Sookie was teasing Eric because she knew he didn’t want to let go of her for a minute.
“Here, we go, Mommy” he said affectionately as he helped her settle at Sookie’s breast, where she latched on quite firmly and mewed like a kitten.

Alicia peeked in the door, “Excuse me…?”

“Oh, hi, Alicia! See the new baby?!” Sookie was now thrilled with the circumstances. She hadn’t been looking forward to giving birth again. Once was enough.
“I see that! She’s beautiful. When you’re ready, Margaret and I will change the sheets on the bed.”

“Oh, yeah – oh, I guess these are ruined, huh?”

“Not necessarily. Margaret is a magician when it comes to blood stains.”

“Yeah, I guess with us she’d have to be!” Sookie was feeling a little giddy right now, which didn’t escape Bjorn’s notice. He gave Eric a little look so he knew that they needed to keep an eye on her. She had had a lot of fun for her first Samhain in New Orleans, but there was a ridiculous amount of energy running through her, too.

When the baby stopped nursing, she let Bobbie show Eric how to give her a little bath. Alicia helped Sookie out of the bloody gown and Sookie went into the shower with Bobbie’s help.

“Wada, Mamee!” Alex called from the room outside the bathroom door.

“OK, baby, come take a shower!” Sookie called out while Bobbie grabbed a clean towel. Both boys came slowly into the room and Alex said “Obee fuhss!”

“OK, Aubie first!” She looked out and let Aubie come in. Sookie held him under the gentle shower and cracked up when he made his “Ooh-hoo!” noise. She washed his longish hair gently and soaped him all over, giving him a good rinse and a snuggle and a kiss, then passed him to Bobbie, who wrapped him and hugged him and set him in the empty tub for a minute. “OK, Alex, come to Mommy!” she called and Alex went next, getting his crew cut washed and his body soaped and he was happy as a clam when Sookie handed him off to Bobbie. Sookie was wrapped in a towel and combing out her hair while Bobbie put diapers on both boys. Eric and Bjorn were sitting in the chairs by the side table, Eric holding the little girl, wrapped in a little pink receiving blanket, in his hands.

“I tell you, Bjorn, there is no happiness greater than this,” Eric gushed over the baby who was looking at him with big eyes. “She’s so perfect!”

“She’s beautiful. She’s very small.”

“Yes, the doctor mentioned that, too. She didn’t seem to think it was a problem, did she?” Eric asked with concern.

“That’s true, she would have warned us if there were any kind of problem,” Bjorn agreed. “A human baby that small would be considered a premie, I think. We need to weigh her and measure her. Hopefully, she’s at least 5 pounds.”

“We’ll all watch for any problems that might arise, of course, but she appears to be perfect on the outside,” Eric said as the baby stretched and let our a wail, making both men laugh.

“Well, her lungs seem well developed, so I’m sure she’s fine,” Bjorn laughed.

In the bathroom, Bobbie had both boys diapered and Sookie was in a bra and panties, looking at herself in the big mirror over the sink. She was flexing her abdominal muscles in and out, facing forward, turning to the side, frowning as she did so.
“Sookie, you barely look like you were ever pregnant!” Bobbie told her, not needing to be a telepath to read Sookie’s thoughts.

“Yeah, I look OK, I guess, I just wonder…”
“Wonder what?”

“When I was in Elfyria, if I wanted to change the way I looked, I just looked in the mirror and made it happen.”

“Do you think that will work here?”

“I’m wondering.” She looked straight into the mirror, “I want my waist smaller, my abs flatter, I want my baby belly completely healed.” As she spoke, her body slowly changed its dimensions to fit her wishes.

‘Wow – unbelievable. How long will it last?”

“I think until I change it. I can do it with my skin, too – I can look pale like a vampire at one moment, then I can have a tan when I want it.”

“How long have you been able to do this?”

“Quite a while, I think, I just never thought to try it here.”

“That’s an amazing gift, Sookie. I never heard of anyone doing a glamour that extensive, or that long lasting.”

“Yeah,” she said, still checking herself out in the mirror. I have a lot of amazing gifts. I hope I deserve them.”
“Have you ever tried doing it to someone else?” Bobbie asked hopefully.

“No, I haven’t. You want to be my guinea pig?” She laughed but she knew Bobbie was serious, too. “What would you like me to try?
“Can you make my tummy a little flatter? And my backside rounder?”

Sookie concentrated for a minute and passed her hand over Bobbies abs which flattened visibly. There was still a little belly there, but it was more toned and a little bit muscular. “How’s that?”

Bobbie was amazed. “That’s just what I pictured!”
“Yeah, I could see it in your head. I can see what you want in back, too.” Sookie stepped behind her, placing her hand on the widest part of her hips then gently ran her fingers over Bobbie’s bottom, creating a nice round bubble.
“Bjorn will love this! I love it!”

“Cool – I’m so glad it worked. We’ll just have to watch and see if it changes back. It didn’t seem to take a lot of energy, either,” she said with a little surprise as Bobbie handed Aubie to her and she had Alex ready to go, the boys wearing similar blue onesies with teddy bears on them. “I’m starving!” Sookie laughed, “What time is it?” she asked as they went out to the bedroom and Eric answered her, “Almost 4, my angel.”
“I guess you’re up early because it’s rainy?”

“Yes, but I think even without the rain I’d be able to respond to you when you’re that scared. You were very upset.”

“Do you blame me?”

“Not a bit. Shall we all move downstairs so everyone can be fed? The only one who has eaten is Sunna,” Eric said, baby talking just a bit to the precious little bundle in his hand.

“Dadee, wadiz ur nambe?” Alex asked now that he could see her.

“Her name is Sunna, but I’m sure you and your brother will call her Sunny.”

“Sthundee- ah wyg dat nambe! Woogie, Obee, Sthundee!”

“Sudee?”

“Sthundee.”

“Sudee!”

“Very good, boys! Now let’s get everyone fed!” Eric laughed as he and Bjorn steered everyone out of the room and down the stairs.

Octavia was sitting at the long table in the dining room drinking a cup of tea and looking at a newspaper while Alicia and Margaret were getting some lunch and breakfast going for the house. “Well, I hear we have a new family member this mornin’!”

Eric held the baby so that Octavia could see her, “Octavia, I’d like to introduce you to my daughter, Princess Sunna Northman.”

“Hello there, little Princess. Welcome to the family. You’re going to love it here because you’ll be running this place by sundown.” Octavia laughed, “I see you’ve already got your big Vamp daddy wrapped around your little finger!”

Everyone took a seat at the table as Jerry came in carrying  a little scale to weigh the baby. Eric happily unwrapped the tiny thing and they measured her to weigh 4.87 pounds.

“Wow – if you had her in a hospital they’d make you leave her there until she reached 5 pounds,” Bobbie explained as they measured the baby to 13 inches long.

Bjorn wrote down the information and called Dr. Ludwig with the information for the birth certificate.

“Babee, beebee doo nappee.”

“The baby needs a new nappy, doesn’t she,” Bobbie agreed with Alex as she put a diaper pad on the table, then she pinned a tiny diaper on the baby who was taking everything in with huge blue eyes. As soon as Bobbie finished, Eric wanted her back,

“Here, Bobbie, let me see her,” Eric took her and held her in a seated position looking at him. “How are you, my daughter?”

The baby got a big smile and wavered her little arms in response and Eric was holding her with one hand and tickling her with the other. You could tell the baby loved it because she was laughing and gurgling. After a minute, she got the hiccups, which was also adorable.

“Eric, what’s that on her back?” Sookie asked when Eric brought the baby up into his right arm. Hic!

Hic!

Giggle,

drool

“What do you mean?” He asked, still playing with the baby, so he turned her facing away from the two of them,

Hic!

Sookie said, “See, what is that? A birthmark?” She touched a little dark curved line next to the baby’s shoulder blade.
“I see what you mean,” he looked closely at the baby’s back. “There’s one here, too. It doesn’t seem like color, it looks like a line or a wrinkle.

Hic,

Giggle,

Flip,

Whoosh,

Hic!

“Eric!” Sookie shrieked but Eric was speechless. They both sat frozen, watching Sunny test her little pink and yellow wings for the first time.

HIC!

 

To be continued!

(Soon, I promise! This is just getting good!)