Six To The Pack
Wednesday, January 6th…
I went to the kitchen and started making homemade biscuits like Gran taught me to and her recipe for sausage gravy. I had just pulled a veggie frittata out of the oven and poured two cups of coffee when Alcide came down the stairs. I plated our food and took it to the table and went back for our coffee.
He gave me a kiss and a hug, “You didn’t sleep either, huh.” Then sat at the table to dig in.
“No, we had too much to talk about.”
“I would guess so. Did you two get everything settled?”
“Not really much to settle. The fact that I had made friends with all those kings and queens threw him for a loop but other than that we just had to hammer out our plans for taking the reins and what I have on my plate for the next month. He’s worried that I’m taking on too much.”
“I think you might be too.” He shoved another bite of biscuits and gravy into his mouth. “But Pam and I know you can do it. Are you guys moving?”
“No, we’re staying put. We’re going to add some guest houses to the other end of the property and convert the room over the garage into a dorm for security but other than that, everything will go as unchanged as possible.”
He nodded approvingly as he gobbled his frittata greedily. When his plate was empty, I took it and got him a second helping and smoothed his hair back into a ponytail. Then I cleared the rest of the table and got started on my chores using the yellow pages to find all of my contacts. I must have called 50 different general contractors, sub contractors and steel workers to set up a meeting. The plan was to meet them all at the new club at 8:00 in the morning and let them all know what needs to be done, then let them put a bid in on the work. I also called 3 interior designers and made appointments to meet them at 9:00 so that I could tell them the same thing. I called 2 different architects and told them what I wanted and made arrangements for them to come out at 11:00, so tomorrow was taken care of as much as it could be.
I called a neon sign company and made an appointment to go see them at 11:00 today and started getting ready. I went ahead and measured and took a ton of pictures of the room over the garage and then the exterior as well so that my general contractors would have an idea of what they were dealing with when putting their bid together.
Alcide offered to tag along and so at 10:00 we left to go to the RV rental place before going Ne-On Ne-Off. We only spent 45 minutes there. I took pictures of every square inch of each one. They only had one RV that was light proof but it slept 8. The other 5 RVs had six bunks and were very nice inside. They were rented in one week increments so I set it up for Sunday delivery and Saturday pickup. The deposit on each one was $1000 and the rental fee was $1100. $12,600 was cheaper than I thought it would be. The decisions at the sign place were easy too. The artist came up with a few ideas after I talked to him on the phone. We went to the hobby shop and bought another 1000 test tubes and dropped them off at the club. So all said and done, I got most of my chores for the day done by noon.
Alcide and I got back to the house and I sent him up for his and Pam’s laundry and while I collected mine and Eric’s. I called the party rental place and rented an enclosed tent and a temporary floor with 15 tables and 50 chairs. I called the bakery near the club and ordered 200 assorted muffins and pastries and coffee to be ready for pick up by 7:30.
Alcide kept me company while I sorted through our clothes and separated our dry cleaning. As he watched me, “You know how amazing you are, don’t you?”
I looked up to smile at him, “What do you mean? It’s just laundry.”
“Not the laundry Shug, everything. Yesterday never ended for you and you have just accomplished in 27 hours what some people would take a week to do and now, you’re doing laundry for 4 adults.”
I patted his shoulder, “2 adults, 2 artifacts.” We laughed. “I’ll make us a snack. You go pick out a movie.”
I filled a serving bowl with bananas, ice cream, oreos, hot fudge, cherries and whipped cream. I grabbed the huge bowl and 2 spoons and sat down on the couch. Alcide turned away from the tv and saw the bowl. He smiled greedily. “Did you make one for you?”
I laughed, “You’d better share! What are we watching?”
“South Park.” He sat down on the couch facing me so I turned towards him and we dove into the bowl. After we emptied it, having fought over the last cherry, I had a chill so I took my shoes off and grabbed a blanket. Alcide followed suit to remove his shoes and lay down so I adjusted the blanket and snuggled between him and the back of the couch. He wrapped his hand around my shoulder and I felt warm and comfortable. I don’t remember seeing much of the movie; I might as well have fallen asleep during the previews.
I felt Alcide’s brain engage just a second after mine did. I heard Pam say, “Aren’t they cute together.”
Eric answered with, “I don’t think she slept last night. I’m possitive she left the bed as soon as I died. So, Cujo. Did you circle the couch 3 times before you bedded my woman?”
When we were done laughing, Alcide gave Eric a recap of my day. “She spent the morning on the phone setting up a meet with every construction company in Shreveport, rented the dining room and RVs, commissioned the neon sign, bought and delivered the extra test tubes, lined up pastry for the meet and did laundry. She busted her ass.”
I sat up, “What time is it?”
Alcide looked at his watch, “5:30.”
“Shit, the pot pie takes an hour. I need to get it started.” I jumped up and went to the kitchen. I quickly put all of the ingredients together and put the dish in the oven. I went to the laundry room and hung Pam and my delicates, moved the rest of the washer items over to the dryer and started the washer to do a load of towels and jeans. I grabbed the bucket of cleaning supplies and vacuum to head upstairs. I started in Alcide and Pam’s room and cleaned their bathroom, stripped their bed made it with fresh sheets and vacuumed, then went to our room and did the same in there. I brought the sheets down to the laundry room and switched all the laundry over; hanging and folding the dry load and starting the washer for the sheets. I went to walk out of the laundry room and I was greeted by a wall of faces.
“Shug? You ok?”
“What do you mean?”
Eric looked worried. “You have not said a word in almost an hour. Are you upset about something, Lover?”
I smiled at him. “No, honey. I’m fine, I just had more to do and a nap was not part of the plan. I still have to draw out some ideas for the contractors, find some tile and wallpaper samples to show the interior designers and find an example of what I’m going for with the mezzanine.”
Pam said, “Why didn’t you say so? Guys go get your laptops and we will help her. Alcide, you can draw right?” He nodded. “See sweetie, we are a team. You don’t need to clean up after us. You don’t need to do everything by yourself anymore.” She came forward and hugged me.
It was really sweet, especially coming from Pam, but I was mad at myself. “Pam, really… If I hadn’t gotten so comfy, I’d have all this done and you wouldn’t be worried about it.” I went to the oven and checked on dinner. Still not done but it would be soon, so I grabbed my sketch pad and colored pencils and sat on the counter and started with a floor plan to include the expansion of the bathrooms, VIP room, and green room along with re-planning the offices. Alcide had grabbed a stack of printer paper and sat next to me and started drawing.
Pam sat at the table with Eric and they fired up their computers. “What are we searching for?” she asked.
One of you can search of dichroic glass tiles. I’m looking for red and black with an aura borealis finish. And the other can look for velvet damask wallpaper and I’m looking for a steel color that looks like a soapy or oily puddle. I want to keep the red and black goth look for the tourists but add some subtle color to it. I also need a glass manufacturer that can make opaque red glass panels for the drop ceiling in the bathrooms instead of Styrofoam.” The vamps shared an approving look then started typing and clicking fast and furious.
Dinner was finally cooked and Alcide’s nostrils flared when it came out of the oven. Pam and Eric waived me over. They had a whole bunch of windows opened. Eric had found the wallpapers I wanted and Pam had found the tiles. Everyone had a look at them and everyone seemed pleased. Eric and Pam went to the office to print out the pictures and came back with 3 copies of each one with the name of the web site written on each one. I dished out mine and Alcide’s dinner into bowls and grabbed a couple of beers and true bloods from the fridge and our vamps kept us company while we ate. Alcide was done in no time and back up for seconds. It made me smile to see him enjoy my cooking.
I was still drawing and thought it was a bit too quiet so I filled the quiet. “Thanks for all the help guys. I appreciate it.” I heard the dryer buzz and jumped up and went and folded and hung the load of jeans and towels and threw the sheets into the dryer. When I sat back down Eric looked angry. “Eric, what’s wrong? What’d I miss?”
“You missed nothing.” He sat in his chair and fumed.
“Ok, whatever.” Hoping it might push a button or two. No luck. “I’m going to need Bobby to meet me just before 8:00. Does your printer do color copies?”
“I’ll call him in a minute and yes it will do color copies. How many do you need?”
“15 of each.” I thanked him with a smile as he took the drawings back to the office to start that.
“Ok Pam, WTF?”
She shrugged. Alcide did too.
I sat there, staring off into space for a few minutes and then I decided to be proactive and drag it out of him. So went down the hall after him. He was sitting at the computer so I put my hands on his shoulders and gave a little squeeze. “Eric?”
“Why did you lock down in there? Did I do something to upset you?” He ignored me.
I was feeling a little defeated and instead of arguing about it, I decided to push it away. As soft spoken as I could, I told him, “Thanks for doing this. I’m going to go change and take a run.” I leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek. I went upstairs and changed into a pair of yoga pants, sports bra and a hoodie. I went to the den and put my shoes on and went for a run.
I ran down the driveway and out onto the main road. I must have been about 5 miles out into the country before he caught up to me and it scared me so bad I fell over and twisted my ankle.
“Eric!” I winced as I turned my leg to see if it was swelling.
“I’m hiring a maid. I don’t like that you are waiting on everyone.”
“SORRY I SNUCK UP ON YOU AND MADE YOU HURT YOURSELF!”
“You snuck up on me and I fell. I’ve hurt myself and you don’t care enough to apologize.” I stood up and started slowly limping back to the house.
He tried to pick me up.
“Don’t you dare.”
“Sookie, what do you want?”
“For starters I want that empty apology.”
“I am sorry. What else do you want?”
“I want to know what pissed you off while I was in the laundry room.”
“I already told you. I’m hiring a maid. You shouldn’t be cooking and cleaning like a servant.”
“Eric Northman, you will NOT hire a maid.”
“I will if I want to. I will not have my wife cleaning up after other people.”
“Yes you will.”
“Are you telling me what to do?”
“Yup. I don’t want a maid.”
“Why wouldn’t you want a maid?” He said it as though having a servant was as imperative as breathing.
“Because I like doing it. I like cleaning and cooking. I like working. It makes me feel useful, productive even and if you take that away from me I will go out of my mind with boredom.” We walked in quiet for a minute before I thought to try something. I sat down on the cold shoulder and put my hands over my ankle and closed my eyes. As I concentrated, I felt the soreness and pressure from the swelling melt away. After a few minutes I stood and my ankle felt as if it had never been injured. I took a few steps and then rolled it around a bit just to be sure and when it felt fine I decided to finish my run. Eric caught up to me and we were both moving along on a pretty good pace (not that he was having any difficulty). I felt my phone ring and I dug it out of my pocket.
“Hey cowboy! How’s it going in Tay- Haas?”
“It’s going well. I talked to Russell and he says that we are getting together on Monday.”
“So it seems. You will be staying be staying at the Northman Homestead, yes?”
“If you’ll still have me. I will need accommodations for 4 Weres and 2 fangs. Russell too, we worked that out when we talked. That way we have 4 on duty at all times.”
“ So 8 Weres and 4 vampires. That’s less than I expected, Are you sure?”
“Yes, that will be fine for us. Oh, I won’t be bringing any company.”
I laughed. “Why no company, sweetie?”
“Because, I am annoyed with them right now. They’re all too dumb to consider for this trip. I would never think of embarrassing myself by bringing one. Northman really is lucky to have someone who can take care of business without having her hand held…. Speaking of Northman, why are you so out of breath?”
I laughed, “Not everyone can eat as much as they want and always have a washboard! I’m out for a run… Hey Stan, I gotta go, Georgia’s on the other line. Text me your true blood type. Kisses. ” I switched to the other line. “Hello Josephine Darling. What can I do for you?”
She started yelling at me. “Russell tells me that you decided to go to Virginia for your honeymoon!”
“That Bitch… Doll, you’ve been punk’d. I want Eric to teach me to ski. So we are probably headed for Colorado. Don’t pick up the phone when Virginia calls. I’m sure Russell told him we coming to you. Don’t worry though, I’ll think of a way to get him back.”
“We need to do something. It’s starting to get pretty bad. He’s gotten me 4 times since Halloween. I’m starting to look a fool.”
“Josie… Whitehurst is on my other line. I’ll call you soon honey, bye.” I transferred over again.
“I know why you’re calling.”
“Russell told you about Eric and I going to Georgia.”
“He lied, Manning. We are going to Colorado because we want to ski.”
“If he keeps it up, I’ll take them both and jail them together so that we all have peace for a while. Bart called me the other night and asked me if there was anything he could do to help with the base closing. I talked to 3 admirals before I realized that he was just solving his boredom at my expense.”
“I’m sorry, sweetie. We’ll come up with something. I’m jogging, so I’m going to get off the phone now. Take care.”
“I’m here if you think of something brilliant.” I gladly shoved the phone back into my pocket and turned my attention to Eric.
“I’m sorry about that. They can be high maintenance.”
“Did you call Josephine Nanesmond; Josie?” He laughed.
I smiled. “Uh, right before I hung up on her. Yes.” We were almost to the security gate when I started to negotiate. “I’ll make you a deal.”
“I promise to tell you when I need help. I am sure at some point that I will. We both saw children that night in the ‘vision’, our staff and responsibilities will grow. I am admitting that eventually Mrs. Northman will need an assistant, a maid or both, but right now Sookie Stackhouse is having a blast taking care of her family and working for Fangtasia. Okay?”
He smiled at me and said, “I can’t argue that logic. You win. I will wait to hire help.”
“I’m happy to hear that. I was afraid I’d go to bed with you still angry at me.” Once we came through the gate we walked holding hands towards the house. I could tell that he’d rather fly or use his super vampire speed, but he humored me. We talked about random things he asked me about how I wanted to use the tiles I had him and Pam find. He remembered to ask me what I meant by retarded genius. I was starting to think that his driveway might be a mile long. Then I saw the car. Why in god’s name would Bon Temps Sherriff department be in Shreveport? Alcide and Pam were on the front porch and when they spotted us they pointed in our direction and Bud turned to approach us slowly since vampires scare the snot out of him.
“Sookie, Mr. Northman. It was quite the wild goose chase to track you down. Sookie, I’m afraid I have some bad news for you girl.”
Before he could get it out, I heard part of the story in his head. “Oh my god! Hunter? Is he OK?”
“Sookie, he’s fine. I’m surprised you know about the boy to be honest.” He started explaining. Remy had been working odd jobs and had been working swing shifts and this morning he was on his way home from work when he fell asleep on the road. He had dozed off and missed a turn and drove over the shoulder and the car hit a fallen tree and the impact snapped his neck. He died instantly. “But honey, the boy was asleep at the baby sitter’s house. You and Jason are the only next of kin and with Jason and his wife being how they are right now…”
“Bud, where is Hunter?” I was almost yelling at him.
“Settle down, Sookie. He’s asleep in the back of the car. The social worker from Red Ditch dropped him off with me less than an hour ago. But I have to ask, Sookie. You are the only family Remy listed, not Jason. The boy keeps asking for ‘Aunt Farbror’. Do you know if that could be someone else?” I felt Eric tense next to me.
Eric sent: “Did you tell him about me?” I could feel that he was angry with me about being kept in the dark about Hunter.
My reply: “No. The last afternoon we spent together was the last day we were in limbo, but he’s like me. I wouldn’t have had to tell him.”
Eric unwrapped his arm from around me, walked over to the car and opened the back door. He stooped down and gently reached in and retrieved the sweet little orphan. He carried the boy silently across the lawn and stopped to stand by me. “Sherriff the child is home now. Thank you.” And offered a handshake.
Bud only stopped to mention that an ex-girlfriend would be packing up his things and bringing them to the police station and that he’d let me know when they’d arrived.
As Bud drove out of site, Hunter moaned “Farbror.”
I followed my Viking into the house as he went to the guest bedroom next to ours. He ever so gently turned down the bed and deposited Hunter between the sheets. As he did Hunter muttered again, “farbror”.
Eric whispered back “shhhhh, Reglera nu prins. Välkommen hem,” as he rubbed his back.
Hunter replied with “Jag är säker med farbror.”
He quietly pulled the door shut and looked at me.
I didn’t wait for him to say anything. “I’ve been a little preoccupied with everything going on. I had every intention of telling you about him, and soon. I’d promised Remy I would help him…”
It felt like I spewed forth the Cliff’s notes version of ‘Hunter’ in one heavy breath. Finding his birth certificate while cleaning out Hadley’s safe deposit box, taking Niall up on his offer of a favor, driving out to Red Ditch to meet him and finding out that the poor kid is telepathic too, showing him some exercises using his shields. Eric didn’t try to interrupt, he just stood there, looking down at me and taking it all in.
“…I’m really sorry. What are you thinking?”
“I think that Hunter explains why I saw a young man with brown eyes calling you Momma in my vision.” What?
Pam walked up to us and said, “Alcide wanted for me to fetch you two.”
So we slowly walked hand in hand to the kitchen where Alcide was sitting at the table pen to paper scribbling hopelessly and he told the person on the other end that he’d call right back. He turned back to us. “You two are never going to believe this, I just got a call from the bartender at the Zoo. A woman is in there and a friend of hers died of cancer last year. She was already a widow and she left behind a little girl. She’s 6. They’ve tried really hard to… Sookie, this little girl can move things with her mind! Her name is Manen, weird name, huh? The friend, she promised to help the mom before she died, but they’re really worried. The woman said that they’d heard about you and hope that you’ll consider helping.
Eric announced, “Call them back. Give them directions. Find out how long.” As Alcide went back to his task, Eric gave me a look I’ll never forget. “Sookie, have you ever felt like the universe was giving you clues?” I know I stared at him like he had 3 heads but I couldn’t help it. This was crazy. We could not take care of children. Barely more than 2 months ago he had to behead a GIANT vampire to keep from getting tortured and killed. And now he’s talking about ‘cosmic clues’? “Sookie, I want you to close your eyes for me and picture something. I know growing up, you must have had a picture of how big or small your family would be.”
I laughed about the memory. “Well until I decided give up that daydream because of my disability, I had always joked that I wanted three sets of twins so that…”
And Eric finished with me. “…they’d never feel alone. Sweet Sookie, I think that by the time the night is over, we may very well have our first set of twins. I am sure that she’ll have white hair and green eyes.” He said it with an unmistakable twinkle in his eye. The one he usually gets when he is unbelievably sure of himself.
Alcide finally got done on the phone and let us know that the ETA was about half an hour. We gathered around the kitchen table and Eric filled Pam and Alcide in on what they missed from Dearborn’s visit and Hunter’s arrival. Eventually, the intercom from the security gate rang. Alcide walked over and buzzed them in. Eric stood and offered me his hand then led me to the door to wait to meet the newest member of our household. Our family. The small and aged hatchback stopped and the then backfired. The woman sat in the car for a moment. I could see that she was talking to her passenger but respected her enough to not listen in. She steeled herself and reluctantly climbed out of the car pausing for a minute in what seemed to be a hope that the fragile child would join her long walk up to the porch. Her mournful gate paused when she took notice that she was approaching a giant vampire.
Eric gave her a friendly smile that seemed to put her at ease. We welcomed her in and made our introductions. Carol was small. Even in my estimation she looked to be as fragile as spun sugar. Her delicate features were crisscrossed with nothing less than disappointment in herself for being unable to fulfill the death bed promise she made to her friend. Her agony pained me so much that I couldn’t help myself but to feel sorry for her.
We all left it to her to begin her story. Carol and her husband along with nearly everyone else in her very small community worked at the same plastics factory just west of Orange County, Texas. Even then it was a struggle to take in the little girl but her and a few other close friends shared in the responsibility and made it work for the first several months. But when the factory that all but supported the town closed, it left them all stunned. The isolated town went into foreclosure one property at a time. Carol and Dean’s house was now in danger, so her family was going to have to move back to his hometown and share the basement with her own two children in the home of his Fellowship member Aunt and Uncle until they could get back on their feet financially.
“She’s no danger. Really she isn’t. We’ve taught her to hide her power when she’s awake. But when she sleeps, she moves things like she’s sleepwalking. She flushes the toilet or pours a glass of milk, now and then. I’m afraid enough for us. The full moons are going to be really hard to get through for us being under the roof of zealots, but we have no other choice. But I promised to make sure she was safe. And then a friend of mine told me about you guys.”
Alcide inquired, “Is she a Were too?”
“Yes, and she already changes under the moon and once during the day when she found out her momma had passed. Beth and Danny McClarity were both true shifters. Manen usually takes the form of an Osprey but she favored an Opossum for a bit. We really want to help her, but she’s so unique, we are terrified that she will be hurt or killed. And a child with her combination of strengths has to be special. Her momma and daddy didn’t know where the telekinesis came from. She’s too special to risk in a Podunk with terrorists upstairs. Can you help?” We told her that we would definitely try.
The 5 of us went out the door as one determined unit. We walked over to the car and I used my gift to roll down the window slowly. That got her attention…
“Manen, I’m Sookie and I can, among other things, move things with my mind.” And I went on with the introductions locked in the stare of her emerald green eyes. “This big guy here is Eric. He’s a vampire that can go flying with you. We heard you prefer an osprey.” He took to the air and did a couple of passes and landed back in the same spot he took off from silently. Alcide called him a show off which made her crack a smile. “This guy here is Alcide. He is the Packmaster here in Shreveport. He’s a very strong Werewolf, but he’s usually more of a puppy dog. And this is Pam. She’s a Vampire too, like Eric and there is a little boy inside that you will meet when he wakes. He is almost 5 and is a very gifted telepath. In the whole world you might not find a family as unique as this one. But we are yours if you’ll have us.” With that, there was click of her seatbelt and she was sliding her small box of belongs off of the seat to carry inside.
A small voice came from the doorway “Manen? I’m glad you’re finally here. I’ve been dreaming about you.”
She ran, long curly corn silk hair flowing behind her and tossed her box on the steps as she latched onto him. “Hunter! I missed you!” You could have knocked us all down with a feather. They walked into the house together and then out of sight, apparently to catch up.
“Clues” Was all Eric had to say to no one of us in particular.
After the introductions, Carol seemed lighter. She seemed to have come to the same awareness as Eric who was wise enough the recognize fate when it stared him in the face. Eric walked her to her car, they spoke quietly I saw him give his calling card to her. He hugged her and she left seeming far more sure of herself than when she arrived.
As the four of us returned to the house we all felt that we were, not exactly unwelcome, but maybe intruding on a long overdue conversation between old friends. So we left them to their bonding and convened at the kitchen table.
I fixed a couple small sundaes for the kids and delivered them. I made a couple of huge comfort sundaes for Alcide and I and handed out true bloods for my vampires and we sat in the quiet enjoying our late night snacks. We were quiet for a few minutes when suddenly Eric broke the silence.
“Sookie, I’m feeling that you are a bit overwhelmed through the bond.”
“It’s a lot.”
“Lover. You can be honest. In one weeks time, we went from separate and desperately lonely, to engaged. I was a sherriff, you a waitress. We have killed one of your former lovers. You are not only wealthy but a millionaire in your own right. We are now the King and Queen of Louisiana and Arkansas. You have absorbed more power in the last few weeks than I have ever seen. And now, you have agreed to move out of the home you’ve lived since childhood to start a nest with Me, my child, a Were and raise two children! And I am pretty sure that they will not be last children that will be put in our path to care for. You are being very calm.”
I laughed at that. “You’re kidding me right! You expect me to back off from a challenge NOW?” my nest silently agreed.
Alcide thought of a snag. “Uh, guys? Do y’all have anything for them? Did they bring anything with them? Kids need a lot of stuff.”
“Sookie you could take the kids out shopping tomorrow after your meetings or you could wait until night falls and we can make a party of it at the Mall. I can arrange for them to stay open late if necessary.”
“That sounds fun, but can you really have them stay open late?”
“Lover, ownership has its privileges.”
We needed a plan… “Ok, I’m going to run up to Target and get them some clothes and shoes for tomorrow during the meetings, maybe something to keep them busy. Eric, neither of them know anything about vampires, so you should go explain that to them.”
Eric gave a counter offer. “I will have Pam do that. I need to call Angela.”
After the 4 of us exchanged some knowing looks like when you watch a movie and the plot unfolds, everyone shares that ‘of course!’ moment, Alcide went into the den to get his shoes so that he could go with me. We all followed him into the room and the kids looked up at us.
Hunter said “4/5. I love red.”
Manen said “6X. I hate yellow.”
The adults shared another round of looks then Pam looked at me with a raised eyebrow, “What a remarkable family trait.”
“Pam, he’s not as lucky you think, he knew why were coming in here because he picked it out of Eric’s head. He can read vampire’s minds.” I turned to look at him. “Now, Hunter, it’s rude to read your family’s minds. So you do your best to stay out of their heads, Ok?”
He nodded, “Can I still us the mind phone?”
We all let go of varying degrees of chuckle and I told him, “Of course sweetie. We do it all the time.”
He smiled back at us, pleased that he could talk about and use his powers openly. Manen looked up to Eric, “Uncle Eric, when will Miss Angela get here?”
He replied, “I’m sure she will be here shortly after I call her. I’ll get to that.”
With that, Eric got on the phone, Pam started explaining that vampires drink blood but they are safe from harm, and Alcide and I were out the door and on the way to the store.
Alcide had questions…
“Why didn’t you tell us about him?”
“The reading vampire minds thing. The less people know the better. Just being able to read human minds put me in enough danger not to mention what happened to people I love. I’ll have to spend the rest of the week teaching him to use and reinforce his shields.”
“He was your cousin’s kid?”
I nodded and explained the Hadley situation.
“How did she know about Angela?” There was no telling. It could be any number of things.
“Maybe he told her.” That seemed safe.
When we got to the store they were just about to close but Alcide and I did a mad dash. Alcide went and grabbed some underwear, socks, clothes and PJs for Hunter, I went and grabbed Manen’s and we met in the shoe department to get them both slippers and tennis shoes. I decided to go to the aisle with the crayons and coloring stuff. I picked up crayons, markers, giant drawing pads, coloring books and lots of moon sand. Alcide had wandered off, but that’s nothing new, we had been shopping together enough for me to know that it was normal. I sent to him: “Where did you get to?”
“I’m back in the entertainment section. I didn’t think the kids should watch Borat or the Godfather.”
“Ok when you’re done, I’ll be in the pet department picking out a leash. You wander.”
“Tease.” Just then, I walked up behind him and bumped him with the cart and spooked him. He didn’t just have movies, he had 3 PSPs and an armful of games and movies and accessories for them.
“Alcide! What is all that?”
“Stuff to play with tomorrow during the meet.”
“There are only 2 kids at the house. You have 3 PSPs.” He gave me a wicked grin and dumped it all into the basket and went over to the case and grabbed another one of everything.
His one word answer needed no elaboration. “Eric” He winked. I couldn’t help but laugh all the way back to the front to check out. The store had officially closed 3 minutes before we got there and as I loaded items onto the belt, Alcide hurried off and before the cashier had rung up the last of the items Alcide returned with children’s toiletries, toothbrushes and hair ‘pretties’.
“Good call.” I told him and he smiled at me very proud of himself.
When we got to the house, I was relieved to see Angela’s car was in the driveway. Alcide and I grabbed the bags of things for the kids, leaving the art supplies in the car for tomorrow, and took them to the kitchen table where we started to unpack and fold their clothes into piles. Eric must have heard us because he led Pam and Angela out to us from the den.
He came up to me and wrapped his arms around my waste and before he had the chance to greet me, I gave him a high eyebrow, “Clues huh?” he nodded. I gestured towards Angela. “Orange.” All eyes in the room were on me. “Angela, lived and died in Orange. Carol didn’t say that they were from Vidor. She said ‘just west of Orange’ even though Beaumont would have been a better landmark to give.”
Everyone nodded thoughtfully. Eric gave me a kiss. “I think you may have seen one that we missed.” He kissed me again. “Angela and I have negotiated for her services as governess for the children.” I gave him a suspicious look that he had apparently anticipated. “Angela, please tell Sookie what your job entails.”
Angela giggled as she started to explain, “I am supposed to see to their educations 5 nights per week since school isn’t really an option for them. I am to tend to them and travel with you when your schedules require it.”
Eric drove it home, “I told her that the only housekeeping she is to do is to pick up after the children’s school and art supplies and to tidy up accordingly when she is left to care for them. Rinsing dishes and collecting laundry, that sort of thing.” He beamed at me. “No cleaning duties except to help keep things tidy and pick up after herself. I’m putting her in one of the rooms behind the pool. It’s small but she’ll have her own bathroom and with run of the house during her waking hours, she’ll be quite comfortable.” He turned to give her a friendly smile.
“Angela, are you sure you want to give up your privacy to come live in a full nest?” She nodded eagerly. I got the feeling she had been pretty lonely. “Ok, then. Welcome to the family.” I turned to Eric and gave him a kiss to thank him for being so thoughtful. “Sweetie, you’re going to have to tutor her given who our company will be next week.”
His eyes widened and rolled up in aggravation. He groaned, “Angela, can I assume you are a quick study.”
“Yes sir, I have total recall. I assume that I’ll need to study vampire etiquette.”
“That is the case. Is total recall your only vampire gift?” He had released me from his hug and I went back to unpacking our purchases. I was amused to see Alcide unpacking the PSPs and plugging them in all over the kitchen.
Angela looked a bit confused. “Vampire ‘gift’?”
Eric became adamant. “Yes; certain skills that you have. Sometimes they are inherited from your maker, sometimes they are completely random.”
“Then I don’t know what the gift could be yet. I had total recall before I was turned. Straight As and near perfect SATs. 1590.”
I was impressed but Eric was getting griped. “You have not had any…
I took over, “Oh hush Eric, it’s not her fault. Angela come here, honey.” I put the PJs down and when she approached me I put my hands on either side of her neck and closed my eyes to concentrate. When she fidgeted a little bit I assumed my hands were glowing. “Okay Angela, do you want to know what you can do?”
“Sure, I… I guess.”
“Do you want everyone else to know?” When I asked, Eric grumped at me. “What? I didn’t hear you volunteering what you can do, and I still don’t know about Pam! Hush!”
Angela giggled at me. She thought it was funny that I was fussing at a vampire that no one else would dare do that to. “That’s fine. The only way I can learn to use it is if you all know. Thanks for asking though.”
“You asked for it… You can be invisible and you can change your appearance.”
Alcide was impressed. He chuckled, “Like Mystique?” I laughed and nodded. Her eyes lit up.
“Alright sweetie, feel free to practice. We’ll all know it’s you, I’m sure of that, even the kids.”
I had started to go collect the kids to ready them for bed when I heard Alcide crack up. “What’s so funny, Beb?”
“We’re the real fucking X-Men!” He was still laughing. “Deadpool, Phoenix, Angel, Professor X, Mystique, and the Beast.”
I lost it. “Y’all need to stop calling Pam a ‘beast’!” Eric laughed at the inside joke.
She looked offended until Eric explained it to her then she looked amused. She looked at me in all seriousness, “Juggernaut” and winked at me. I raised an eyebrow and took a moment to remind myself who juggernaut was. I nodded in understanding and then went into the den to collect the kids and take them to shower and bed.
“Hey, you two. I know you are excited but we have a big day tomorrow that is gonna start really early so we need to get ready for bed.” They didn’t argue they followed me upstairs and into their bathroom. I gave Hunter a quick shower and let Manen take hers while I dressed Hunter. I tucked him into his half of the bed and went back to collect her and do the same. I brushed her hair quickly gave them both a kiss goodnight.
When I got back downstairs, I saw my guys sitting at the table with a cord stretched between 2 PSPs. They were very involved in whatever they were playing. Angela had left and would be back in 2 days to move in according to Pam who was the only one cognizant of my existence. I went into the kitchen and dished out some chicken pot pie and leaned over the counter to chow down. When I was done, I did the dishes and stored the pot pie for later. It was nearly midnight and I needed to wake up in 6 hours so I said goodnight to the room and went upstairs to get in the bath. I started the water and went to my closet to find my clothes for the morning. I picked a pair of low rise boot cut jeans, a sheer brown blouse and a pink suede vest and brown dress boots and belt to match. I got into the bath and did my usual maintenance and decided that while I didn’t have company, I would take care of some girl-scaping too. I was just finished with my underarms; when I dropped the razor and I noticed my company.
I gasped, “Are you going to make a hobby of sneaking up on me?”
Eric smiled. “I prefer my other hobby involving you.” He walked over to the tub stripping on the way over and climbed in with me. As soon as he was settled he slipped his hands behind my knees and pulled me onto his lap and wrapped my legs around him. I wrapped my arms around his shoulders and nuzzled my face into his neck because I was sleepy and wanted to relax but I felt him stiffen under me. He stroked my hair, “Lover you didn’t finish.”
“Hmm, I was interrupted. But I’m not complaining.”
He reached over and grabbed the loofah and soaped it up to start scrubbing my back, he lifted each of my arms gently and cleaned them and moved up to my chest. He may have been having other thoughts but I was nearly asleep because it was so wonderful.
“Did you finish grooming?”
I giggled lazily. “I guess not.”
He took the razor from the edge of the tub and leaned me back. He took one foot and rested it on the side of the tub behind him, lathered up my leg and then slowly glided the blade up and down my leg carefully. He repeated the steps for my other leg. He pulled me back towards him and turned on the shower head and began on my hair. He slowly massaged the shampoo into my hair and then the conditioner. He quietly rinsed my hair and then opened the drain on the tub. I went to stand up and he held me fast and shushed me. When the tub was drained he closed the stopper and started the water again.
“I just want to be near you, I’ve missed that today.” He filled the tub and the water was cooler than I would have liked it, so I turned up my heat to adjust it and he gave a little chuckle. He shifted in the tub so that he was resting on his back and I moved my arms from around his neck to under his arms and I stretched my legs out and then I must have dozed off.
I woke up to the sound of Mississippi Queen, Russell’s ring tone. But more than the sound of my phone, what really woke me up was Eric laughing under me. I called my phone to me, giggling at Eric’s amusement, to answer it. Eric caught it because my hands were wet. He held it up to my ear.
“Hello, Russell. Stirring up trouble again?”
He laughed, “Always. What are you doing?”
“I’m in the tub with Eric. What can I do for you?”
“Not nearly as much as you can do for the Viking!” He thought he was funny. “How much have you done about planning the wedding?”
“Oh Russell! I told you we could take a night to do girl stuff while you’re here! I was even going to drag Eric with us! Don’t bug me about it now.”
“OK. Just answer me this, mariee, Bart and I are ‘collecting’ information, what color have you chosen?
“Yes Russell, Salmon. More specifically, Padparadscha. It’s the only color of Sapphire other than ruby that has its own name.”
“Ok, if you say so. Why?”
“Because it’s the color of sunset. I want everything possible to be oranges and corals. It’s my favorite time of day. K?”
“You are quite the romantic. I’ll talk to you later.” And he hung up.
When I was done Eric stood up to get out of the tub and took the phone and laid it on the counter. I expected for him to come back but he turned to walk out. “Where are you going?” He told me he’d be right back. While he was gone, I noticed that my hands were really shriveled. How long had I been asleep?
Eric came back into the room and climbed back into the tub. “4 hours. You were sleeping so soundly I didn’t want to wake you and you warmed the water several times on your own.”
“Oh. I guess I could complain, but I feel much better now that I slept.” I leaned over and gave him a sweet kiss that he let me progress into a much deeper one. I snuck my hands up into his hair and began to move onto his lap but he pulled back and stared into my eyes for a moment.
“Sookie, I’ve been searching myself, for a long time trying to make sense of what I feel for you. I have tried putting a fine point on the exact moment when I knew what it all meant. The moments you and I have shared have left their mark on me and if you were to leave me, bond or not, I would no longer be of use to anyone. When I talked about clues, it was because, I think I had already seen a few. This house’s foundation had been poured the same day you walked into Fangtasia trying to clear your brother’s name. The night in Jackson when you got staked, I had just read the Rime of the Ancient Mariner while waiting in the car for you and Alcide to arrive only to have you quote it as I carried you to your sick bed.” He took left my hand and slid a ring onto my ring finger keeping his hand over it as he explained, “When I shopped for your engagement ring I fully intended to get a tear shaped ruby to represent our blood bond but I never made it to that case. This stone grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go. You spoke about sunset with oranges and corals to Russell.” He removed his hand so that I could see the ring. I looked down at a huge (probably 6 carat) princess cut pink sapphire surrounded by quarter carat diamonds set in platinum. My eyes were filling fast.
“Padparadscha… clues.” I whispered and threw my arms around his neck. Eventually, he swept me up and toweled us both off as I stood there and stared at my ring with tears streaming down my face even as he laid me on the bed and we made love, over and over. Our skin never left each other’s until we could both felt him being pulled to rest.
“Sookie, you are everything to me…” And he was gone. I kissed him on his tender lips and stroked his hair for a while before sliding to the edge of the bed and slipping on the clothes that I laid out the night before and headed downstairs.