Chapter 33

Alone Time

Sookie’s POV

Friday, January 15th

When I opened my eyes I was wrapped in the arms of my vampire. He had rolled over onto his side and we had ended up spooning. I tried to scoot out of his grasp and he mumbled something, I’m not even sure what language it was in, and hugged me closer.

“Hey honey, it’s time for me to get up. I have a lot to do this morning.” He finally rolled over, letting me loose so I went to my dresser and pulled on my sky blue ‘bootie shorts’ and matching sports bra/running top and my socks and sneakers then went to my closet to grabbed a dress and shrug that Alcide and Eric had debated over who got to buy it at Tara’s, a pair of turquoise boy shorts and a matching strapless bra and a pair of pretty silk turquoise heels that Alcide had found on one of our trips to Macy’s to put on for my appointment and a Saints jersey dress to wear while I made breakfast.

I took my bundle of clothes and put them in the laundry room and ran up the stairs to wake Doze.. Oh my! Dozer sleeps naked. Wow.

I kicked the side of his bed. “Hey Dozer… Dude! Are we running this morning or what?”

He rolled over and was still half asleep as he propped himself up on his elbows. “What time is it?”

I might have been too peppy for only having 4 hours of sleep behind me. I gave him my brightest smile. “5:30… Let’s go big guy.”

“You’re not normal.” He collapsed into the mattress. “Febes! Can you do something with her?”

“Don’t be a baby. We could use a good PT.” She got out of bed (naked too) and went to a pile of clothes and fished out a work out set like mine in dark blue. Dozer rolled over and wrapped himself up in his blanket.

I bounced onto his bed. “Come on Yogi… hibernation is over.”

He grumbled incoherently. “…fuck yogi… muh Kodiak…sleep”

Febes and I called him a pussy in unison and he was out of the bed in a second.

I smiled because I got my way. “I’ll go start a pot of coffee so it’ll be ready when we get back.”

**

I had just hit the ‘brew’ button when they came downstairs. They decided to do some stretching first which I followed along with. They slowed me down for my run and they only did half of the sit ups and pull ups I did. The funny part is that they had been military. I guess that meant I had something to fall back on if the whole ‘vampire queen-mystic justice- Fae/Were cross breed’ thing didn’t work out for me.

We were walking back into the house when I decided to rib them about it. “So, uh, did Alcide ask you to slow me down?” Febes flipped me the bird and Dozer blew a raspberry at me. I laughed at them. “I guess that you’re safe from the early morning wake ups though. If you’re gonna slow me down like that… You guys should get your stuff and move up to your rooms. The construction crew is gonna want to take measurements and whatnot. You can shower up there.”

They smiled at me and headed up to do just that. I took my shower and got to work in the kitchen.

I started the biscuits from scratch and the bacon and drained the pineapple juice from the canned fruit to get breakfast on the way. Everything was all set when I felt Alcide and Jason wake up at almost the same time so I started their pancakes and fried their eggs. By the time they all had come down I had 4 plates ready and 2 on the way to being done for Janice and I (She had just woken up).

I put Alcide and Jason’s plates down in front of them and poured coffees and a chocolate milk and started a fresh pot of coffee.

“Holy shit sis! What’s the special occasion?”

I laughed at what a man/child my big brother was. “No occasion, I was just in the mood for it.”

Alcide was looking down at his breakfast trying to figure out what it was that made it so special. “This smells great. What am I about to eat?”

Jason jumped on the chance to explain. “This is ‘Gran’s special birthday breakfast’. The pancakes are pineapple upside down pancakes. There’s a ring of pineapple and a cherry in every one and it’s got cherry syrup. And the stack of stuff is something Gran learned from her mom. Instead of the normal eggs Benedict, they just called it a Benny. It’s a homemade biscuit with bacon, a fried egg and sauce. It’s the best fucking thing you’ll ever eat for breakfast.” I just smiled and started frying more eggs and kept making the pancakes knowing that Jason, at least, was going to eat past his fill.

Janice would have been happy with breakfast if I had burned it; Jason hadn’t bothered with a shirt again.

I quickly ate mine and then grabbed the hair kit and smoothed back Alcide’s hair into a low sectioned pony tail while Janice watched me groom her brother. Then I went back to doing more pancakes and eggs because, as suspected, everyone wanted seconds. Jason was really excited and even wanted thirds. When the adults seemed to be done stuffing themselves I made the pancakes for the kids and scrambled their eggs then started the clean up. I was rinsing plates when Eric came downstairs and said his good mornings.

“Lover, are you going to our meeting dressed as Sporty Spice?”

I laughed. “Do I want to know why the Spice Girls are one of the few bits of pop culture trivia you know about?”

He chuckled wryly. “Probably not, no.”

I giggled on my way to the laundry room to change.

**

When I came out dressed except for my shrug, my guys went slack jawed. They both very much liked the way I wore the dress and I even blushed at the reactions I got from both of them; Eric’s standard lip licking plus fangs and Alcide’s signature hard swallow. At 8:30 the kids ran downstairs and dove into their pancakes and promptly at 9:00 ES Superstructures arrived.

CaSondra (love the pretentious name) had the new contract and plans for the upstairs apartment and the separate dorm. I looked over the contract and signed it at 9:25.

Alcide and I passed the torch to Jason and Janice. The only reason I was letting Jason tend to the kids for our appointment was because Febes, Dozer and Janice were all going to be there, but he still felt honored to be ‘trusted’.

Once we were on the road it occurred to me that Pam wasn’t with us and I felt really horrible for just assuming she would come along without a formal invitation.

“Eric, are…?”

“Lover, I did ask her to join us. Since Rhodes, Pam is no fan of the doctor but wants a full report when we get back.” He smiled back at me in the rearview mirror.

“Are you sure she doesn’t feel excluded.”

“I am quite sure. She and Dr. Ludwig argued a bit about… triage. Pam told me to warn the doctor that she’d be at the birth though.”

I tried not to laugh. “Warn her, huh? What did they argue about? Wasn’t there enough going on?”

“Leave it to Pam to find something to argue about in such a debacle.”

I let that slide for a few minutes before I decided to call him on it. “Way to side step that one. You know, you could just tell me ‘nunya’.” He winked at me as we made our way through Shreveport to the countryside on the other end of town. I had no idea where we were going but the longer we were in the car, the more anxious Alcide was getting.

**

We finally pulled off of a country road onto a long foggy gravel driveway covered with a canopy of low branches. I laughed to myself when I had the thought that Tinkerbell and Shrek, LLC might have sold the doctor the property. Eric must have heard it because he laughed so I joined him even though I was jealous that he could read my mind and I couldn’t read his. When we finally cleared the trees, we were greeted with a beautiful purple Victorian estate with all of the expected adornments including the gingerbread roof, an octagonal turret and a wide wraparound porch. I felt like I was looking at a doll house. There was even a tabby cat sleeping on the step. It wasn’t really a cat, but it still helped with the pretense.

We were slowly pulling to a stop when I felt like we must have driven through the perimeter of a spell. I started feeling queasy and got an uneasy feeling. I suppose it was a good thing that the doctor was well protected.

I walked into the front door holding the hands of my guys and even though there wasn’t another vehicle outside, the waiting room was filled with all sorts of beings, except vampires; Eric was the first one of those to be in there. Every one of them stood up and bowed.

I looked up at Eric. “Wow, you haven’t even been crowned yet.”

He smiled at me. “They’re not bowing for me.”

It took me a minute to realize that word must have spread about my being a justice. I didn’t have the chance to acknowledge them before the elf (maybe) receptionist slid the smoky glass partition open (then bowed) “Mrs. Northman, Dr. Ludwig wanted me to apologize for the inconvenience. She’ll be with you as soon as possible. Today is her busiest day of the week.”

I smiled at her. “Show me where triage is and I’ll help.”

“But missus…”

“Just send me aches, pains and injuries.” I could hear her ask Dr. Ludwig for permission before allowing it. For the next half hour I ‘fixed’ 8 ‘people’.

**

When I had treated the last patient, the elf (still wondering) Jaya showed us to, not an exam room, but the doctor’s office. There were only two visitor’s chairs so my guys both sat to make a lap for me. Dr. Ludwig rolled her eyes watching us.

“Aren’t you cute?”

We all smiled at her.

“So, how are we feeling?”

“I’m feeling fine, they’re the worried ones. The real problem is that we have no idea what is going on. Niall sent Claudine with a message about undamming my powers and a little while later I had a vision about the babies. It was like a drive-by shooting.”

“Niall didn’t tell you himself? Fucking Fae!”

“Claudine told me that Fintan had blocked our powers when we were little so that we would fit in and when Niall found out he unblocked them and now I can do pretty much anything I want.”

She looked at Eric and laughed. “Obviously, since this one here is starting to tan and looks like he’s never eaten so well… Well, your know-it-all grandfather screwed up but he’s very lucky that you are who you are. Your powers should have never been bound in the first place. But he should have looked into things before unbinding them.”

“Okay, but what does it all mean? Why do I have so much power? So many different powers? How is it that my vampire is suddenly a day walker and able to father a child? How is it that I am only quarter Were and can have Were children? We’re pretty confused about it all.”

She looked annoyed to be doing Niall’s job and I couldn’t say I blamed her. “Alright, Fintan hid you from Niall for a good reason. Niall would have wanted to meet you and he would have led his enemies straight to you. When he unleashed your powers, he noticed right away that you had too much to be just 1/8 Fae and, so Niall came to me. Why?… I don’t know, but he wanted me to help him. We knew about Fintan and that makes you 1/8 sky Fae.”

I gave her a nod. “With you so far.”

“What else do you know?”

“Other than Alcide remembering my grandparents were Were, nothing for sure. We’ve kinda…” I trailed off trying to put things together in my frustration, and I felt Eric start pushing calm to me as he took over.

“All of the mystery and sneakiness bothers her. Alcide and I have been putting our heads together. There are some powers that we are sure have Dae origins and we suspect that since…” I really got worried when Eric paused and gave a look over to Alcide.

He snorted as he took over. It was like tag. “Getting Were and Shifter genes shouldn’t make her so powerful. Since ‘the force is so strong with her’, Eric and I don’t think Gran was human.”

“What?!” I jerked around to look at him, then Eric. Neither of them were joking and both of them felt guilty for not telling me. “Why? She… Why?”

I looked up just in time for Dr. Ludwig to look proud of them.

“NO! No… no! She knew? She… She knew!” Eric started stroking my back and Alcide took my hand. This is exactly why they didn’t tell me before. Both of them knew… they knew I’d be hurt that she’d let me feel like a freak. “Let me guess!,,, FAE! Right?”

“Child, it doesn’t matter anymore, now does it?”

“She let me… She… Yes! It fucking matters. Her and Jason were all I had. She lied to us and even Jason thought I was a freak! He was scared and embarrassed of me AND I COULDN’T BLAME HIM!”

“Killing the messenger, deary. Settle yourself down so that we can move on.”

I nodded, taking a deep breath and wiping the tears from my cheeks. “K. Sorry. You were saying?”

She tilted her head and narrowed her eyes at me. She was clearly curious about something, but didn’t mention whatever it was. “Alright. We dug up Bartlett. I didn’t think you’d mind that as much as you would have if we disrupted your Grandmother’s grave, if we were wrong. After I tested the sample we took, he was, they were Fae and Dae. Half Dae and quarter earth Fae.”

Alcide must’ve been doing the mental math. “She’s only 3/16 human!?”

“Cute and good with numbers, huh wolf? But you’re only half right. 2 of those 3/16ths is natural witch.”

The three of us stared at her like she had three heads. “Now the dilemma we seem to have, is keeping this secret.”

“What do you mean? It’s not like I’m going to advertise that I can bestow powers. I’m a quarter asshole, not idiot.” 5/16ths Fae? I wanted to scream or throw up… maybe both would make me feel better.

She laughed. “From Niall, girl. YOU are a patient of mine, not him. When he came to me for help I agreed to look into things, not tell him anything. He was too anxious about you for my taste.”

“Claudine didn’t trust him either… She told me not to, but didn’t explain.”

She pointed to the bowl of fruit on the table next to Eric’s seat. “Mind handing me that lemon, vampire? Just handle the top though.”

He smirked at her and curiosity got the better of him when he picked it up, he flipped it over to see a small piece of metal sticking out. His eyebrow went up as he placed it in her hand.

Her smile was creepy as she pulled what turned out to be a key from the lemon and started to unlock a drawer in her desk. “I recommend the measures. Hide the key in a lemon, Fae can’t get to it. They’re the only breed arrogant enough to be a problem for you.”

He smiled back at her. “I’ll certainly keep that in mind. Until recently I depended on iron filings sprinkled on more sensitive files, then of course I switched to a retinal scan system.”

She cocked her head to the side. “What made you abandon that method?”

“I ran into a vampire with an eye patch.”

They both shared an eerie round of laughter before she offered him a ‘cheers’ and slid a folder across her desk to me. “That is a more detailed family tree for you. The way I look at it, from what I heard about Adele Hale, she was a good woman and taking that into account I can think of two reasons why she didn’t explain things to you. One: telling you any part of it could have sent you looking for more of ‘your kind’ and defeating the purpose of your binding. The other reason, and the one I would have gone with: She may very well have had the knowledge removed somehow like memory based spell.”

That made me feel only slightly better.

“Alright, Heinz 57, let’s get back to things… You’ve recently been not only playing/practicing with your powers but taking vampire blood. Plus any plain human is stronger when coupled with their soul mate. Niall made plenty sure to voice that complaint. Being part Fae, any other power you have would be amplified. Being all 3, they amplify each other and then the other powers. Child, you are THE strongest supernatural creature in my lifetime. You are all but indestructible as long as you keep your head. That is bonafide little girl. You may be sharing your talents but it doesn’t weaken you and you can take them back. Your brother is pretty strong but he doesn’t have the attention span or the concentration he’d need to be as strong as you or the vampire blood. You can do anything you want.”

Poor Alcide was so worried that his leg almost felt prickly under me. “Ok, so Sookie can go on living life without worrying about the pregnancy. Nothing can harm her?”

“Nothing. She can eat and drink and do whatever she wants without worrying about the babies.” Then she waved her finger between Eric and me. “If what they did last night didn’t kill her nothing will.”

Alcide shot a dirty look at me and then to Eric and Dr. Ludwig laughed at him. “Sookie, how was your run this morning?” Alcide shot me another dirty look.

“Frustrating. I think Alcide paid my friends to slow me down. I only ran about 2 miles, I usually do about 15, but I learned some new stretches.”

She smiled at me and nodded. “And you know how things are going to go?”

I smiled at her and she gave me the fess up gesture. “Smooth sailing. The only symptom will be cravings. One will be lower and she won’t turn.”

She smiled broadly. “That’s good to hear, the smooth sailing part. You know then, about the c-section?” She cleared her throat. “Will your family be a problem?”

I shook my head.

“Good. When you head out, make an appointment for the end of August so that I can do everything I need to do and set up the c-section.”

Alcide was concerned. “That’s it? No monthly check ups? No prenatal vitamins?”

Ludwig was getting aggravated with him, but no more so than any other future father she’s ever dealt with. She’s not exactly known for her bedside manner. “I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you the address of a place that does ultra sounds and you can go every month, every week if you want. Herveaux, these girls will arrive safe, sound, on time and perfect without me or any vitamins. Sookie will do very well. The vampire’s blood is better than anything I can prescribe anyway, but I can write a prescription to calm you down- if you’d like.” I giggled at the idea that she was ready to tranquilize him already, but Alcide relaxed a little more hearing from a doctor that we were all fine. “The only thing I can think to recommend is that Sookie exercises her pelvic floor muscles. It could save her a lot of discomfort near the end.”

I giggled to hide my embarrassment when Eric professed how ‘fit’ those muscles were.

“So the blood exchanges… Should they be regular?”

She ‘smiled’ at Eric again. “They should be as regular as you can make them at least twice per week. Speaking of blood, why didn’t Ms. Ravenscroft join you today? Is she still planning my, how did she put it? Prolonged departure?”

Eric chuckled. “She’s probably not planning it anymore, but she is still holding the grudge.”

The doctor laughed wryly and started writing on a note pad. The confused look on my face prompted an explanation from Ludwig. “Her burns in the bombing weren’t horrible, not nearly as bad as the ones he got since it was only her feet affected, so she rose first. She was appalled that you were still at the site and wanted to go get you even though she was assured of your health. I had to have her restrained until he rose and ordered her to stand down.”

“Awww!” I love Pam. I was kind of angry at Eric for not having told me about that. I spent a fair amount of time after that wondering where I stood with her and that would have given me a little clue. “She’s the best. Don’t worry; she’ll behave when the babies come. She’ll be too busy being the proud Mummy to be angry.”

We finished up with the… I guess you could call it a consultation since there was no exam and she gave Alcide the info about the ultrasound practice and led me around to the nurse’s station to have blood drawn so that the Doctor could ‘look for surprises’.

**

We left holding hands and before I climbed into the back seat I reached up and gave Alcide a big hug. “Do you feel better now, sweetie?”

He thought about it for a minute before he gave me a big smile. “I think I do. I’m sorry I’ve been such a nervous wreck and I’m sorry that I thought that you were just telling me what I needed to hear.”

I gave him a kiss. “I understand.”

“Good, because it probably won’t stop.”

**

On the ride home Alcide and Eric excitedly talked about the nursery. I let them have at it. I didn’t care one way or the other what it looked like and told them to surprise me. To me, the nursery didn’t matter. Not much more than 2 weeks ago, not only did I expect to never have a child of my own, I was willing to sacrifice the options all together out of the fear that something bad was around the corner. Now, I was the mother of 2, soon to be four. All of them would be powerful and strong enough to take care of themselves. What did I care about what kind of rocking chair we get?

When we got out of the car at home Alcide went bounding into the house to find Pam and let her know that everything went well.

Eric stood next to the car and watched him run off smiling and shaking his head as I went over to him and laced my fingers together with his. “Eric, honey, how are you feeling?”

He smiled down in a way that always felt like sunshine to me. “I could not be more excited, but I’m disappointed that I’m not as patient as I thought I was. September can’t come soon enough.” He leaned over and wrapped his arms around me and we lost ourselves in a long kiss.

“Lover, I forgot to ask about Manen and Hunter. I wanted to ask the doctor how they came by their powers. Do you know?”

“Well, I know Manen’s mother was healed by a vampire. So that’s probably part of it. She was injured while she was on a run early in her pregnancy. He hit her with his car. And Hunter, well, you really are his Farbror of sorts.”

He looked a little puzzled. “How is that?”

“You and Hadley had the same maker. He has Sophie-Anne’s blood in him, she even picked his name. She always had a soft spot for fighters and hunters. Her ability to mentally communicate with her children mixed with his genealogy to cause his mental abilities.”

“Are you sure? Hadley could have had any number of other vampire lovers.”

“Hadley had just left Remy, before she ever knew she was pregnant, she took a bus to New Orleans and was walking the street without a penny in her pocket when she saw catering vans behind a hotel. She snuck into the party to grab some food from the buffet but the Barts spotted her and took her to Sophie-Anne who immediately cleaned her up and fed her. Sophie-Anne was the only vampire Hadley had ever fed from. I’ll be able to tell Hunter about what his mother was like when she was little and you’ll be able to tell him all about his grandmother.”

His grin had been spreading across his handsome face. “You know, I remember that night.” He closed his eyes while he recalled the details. “It was a formal event and she stood out. She was in jeans and sneakers and she was unkempt and colorless for a human. Mistress took her upstairs and returned with a beautiful girl in a golden evening gown. She was clean and well groomed. They were holding hands and laughing like old friends.”

I didn’t get the chance to enjoy the thought of Hadley being cared for before one of my new abilities interrupted my train of thought. The memory of Sophie-Anne sparked a flash from a conversation between her and Andre. “Eric, did Sophie-Anne ever tell you why she sent Bill to attain me rather than have you do it?”

His mood grew heavy with the frustration. “No Lover, I never had the opportunity to ask her. We were all very sidetracked by Arkansas’s coup attempt.”

“She had actually come to Merlotte’s one night with Andre to check me out. I don’t remember her having been there but we were there at the same time in the scene I saw. Andre wanted to send you after me but Sophie-Anne told him: ‘she would be good for him but he would resent a human chore. If we send a nobody to her, they will cross paths and he will be happier for the hunt.’ She was playing us together. That’s why she sent Quinn to fetch me for the summit too. She was a sneaky bitch, huh?”

His grin turned nefarious. “She was. She was a sneaky bitch that knew me too well.”

I matched his evil grin. “She also considered Bill a nobody.” We both enjoyed that idea a little too much. “How do you feel about Dagny Lorraine Northman?”

He pondered that for a moment then began to nod. “Her homeland? Is seems to be a sly way of paying homage to our Queen. I think she would endorse it.”

We followed that with another long kiss and eventually headed inside.

**

When we rounded the corner into the kitchen so that I could make lunch and start the stew everyone was waiting. I went straight over to Pam and wrapped my arms around her neck and hugged her without saying a word. She returned the hug but didn’t understand what it was for.

“Eric?”

“She knows about Rhodes.”

“Eric!”

“Don’t blame me. Ludwig told her.”

I kissed her neck and whispered into her ear. “I love you too.”

Pam growled but squeezed me a little tighter. When we finally let go of each other she darted into the bathroom to clear the tears from her eyes and I went to the fridge to start lunch and started pulling groceries for the stew.

Janice noticed that I was pulling out lunch meat and stopped me. “Jason and I just cleaned up the lunch mess. He grilled hot dogs for us.” Wow. Eric was right about Jason growing up. I didn’t think he was wrong, I just didn’t think that it would happen so fast. So I heated up some leftovers for Alcide while Janice checked on the kids.

Pam was just coming out of the bathroom when Eric looked up from his phone. “Lover, do you know about the other one?” He knew. He was just having some fun with Pam at this point.

“Dagny Lorraine and Erika Elise.” I was giving the baby Pam’s middle name. She smiled at me and darted back into the bathroom to hide more tears so Eric laughed at her.

She yelled at him and slapped the bathroom door when she heard him. “Sluta skratta åt mig! Det är ditt fel! Hon är din och hon har gjort ett spel för att göra mig läcka!” Jason had just walked in and jumped when Pam hit the door.

It made Eric laugh harder. “Jag kommer att skratta när det behagar mig, snorunge! Är du rädd att någon kommer att känna ditt hjärta inte är is? ”

Jason looked more confused than usual. “Vad är det ni två talar om?”

Eric and I shared a steady look before Eric leaned back to look at Jason. “Jest wewnątrz żart. Jak dzieci były dla Ciebie? Good?”

“Były wielkie, jak zawsze.”

Eric turned back to me. “He doesn’t realize he’s doing it, I think.”

“Brother, I think you just discovered another power. Nous pouvons comprendre toutes les langues.”

He gave me a silly grin. “Cool, but other than eavesdropping on y’all’s conversations, I’m not sure when I’ll use it. I’m not likely to travel out of the country.”

I started cutting up veggies and browning up the meat for the lamb stew and Eric sat at the bar and checked his phone for emails. Janice came around and started washing her hands and dove right in to take the peas out of their pods.

Alcide chuckled at Jason, “You’ll use it plenty at H & S. You’d be surprised how many of our laborers speak English poorly. You’ll do better than a lot of the other foremen. They belly ache about it all the time.”

I was a little surprised by the subject of Jason going to work for Alcide. Jason had mentioned it when he first heard that I knew a Herveaux but I hadn’t ever brought it up. Was Jason thinking of making his move to Shreveport permanent? What was he going to do with Mom and Daddy’s house. Shit. Like I needed more to think about right now.

“Alcide, what’s up with the job talk?”

“I suggested he take a leave of absence from Public Works and offered him the job so that he would be close enough to keep an eye on, new powers and no pack and all. I offered him my house when he’s ready. Janice wants Dad’s place. Its bigger and on more land. I thought we could take her shopping on Monday for stuff for the house. She wants to move in before we leave for Boston since she doesn’t know everyone very well. Your brother said that he was going to stay here at least until we get back. He seems to really like it here.”

“Ok, then. It sounds like everything is taken care of. Alcide you should call the phone, cable, power and gas and find a company to clean it up since no one has been there in a year.”

He smiled at me. “As soon as I’m done chewing.”

**

I looked over to Jason. “Brother, after the kids turn in tonight, you should go out and change. See what you can do.”

“Why? The moon ain’t full. I can’t do anything except for change into a ‘manther’ anyway.”

“You can only change into a manther because that’s all you thought you could change into. Same with the moon. The new stuff, tells me different.” Alcide looked at me funny. “Not me. I’m the mental one, he’s the physical one. He has full shifter abilities. I picked it up from the doc.”

Jason was so excited his chest puffed out. “No shit! You mean I don’t have to change into that ugly ass monster anymore?”

I smiled at him. “You can turn into anything from Aardvarks to Zebras. Just pick something that suits you.”

“Shit. I guess I’d better think on that. What do you think?”

“It seems I’m partial to wolves, but that’s not my call. It’s yours.” I didn’t look up at either of my men from the cutting board. I could feel them screwing in their cocky smiles, I didn’t need to see it.

After a minute or so went by Alcide cleared his throat (and dirty mind). “You should think about a wolf or something that would keep up, just for the moons when you run with the pack.”

Jason nodded in agreement and while I put the cast iron pot full of stew into the oven (instead of the crock pot to reduce picking- haha) and started the corn bread mix, Alcide and Jason talked about changing and options.

**

Eric listened in while he returned messages and eventually Pam came out of the bathroom and went to sit on the barstool between our men. The room got quiet after that. Everyone seemed to be deep in thought. Jason went and stirred up the kids and took them outside to ride the ATVs and power wheels, offering them a dollar for every baseball they found. I caught myself beaming at him for such uncle-ish (is that even a word) behavior. Janice was a little skittish about Tommy riding one so she went along for peace of mind.

Several more minutes passed before anyone else spoke.

“Eric, what time are we leaving?”

“4 o’clock.” He smiled roguishly.

“40 minutes? You ass!” I ran upstairs and heard him laughing behind me as darted into our bedroom to grab a change of clothes for Fangtasia. “How should I dress? Or should I just guess?”

“You could go nude and that would be fine.”

“Thanks for the help… ass!” Even if I couldn’t hear him laughing on the ‘mind phone’ I could hear him with my inherited vampire hearing.

I dove into my closet and grabbed a black mini skirt, black stilettos with an ankle strap, and the contents of one of the packages Tobin had Febes sniff. It was from my dress maker. It was the same cut as the corset that Pam laced me into but this one was blush pink with black swirls embroidered into it. I figured that since we were stopping at the dress shop at 8:00, Donna could help me get into it before we left. So I threw my ‘later’ outfit into a shoulder bag along with some fishnets. At least that was taken care of. For the meantime I decided on a black push up bra and g-string with a skin tight black pin up style dress and a pair of black and white retro style heels. I pulled my hair back at the sides with combs and wore my makeup normally except for the bright red lipstick.

I grabbed the shoulder bag and walked down the stairs. Pam was the only one of them facing the stairs when I started down and her jaw dropped and so did her fangs. I winked at her while I giggled my way towards them.

When the guys caught wind of Pam’s sudden stupor they turned around and looked at me. Eric’s fangs ran out before his eyes made it up to mine and Alcide clenched his jaw to keep from growling. Eric reached over and popped him in the shoulder and Alcide didn’t react.

“Should I even ask if I look ok?” Before I had the chance to blink Pam had moved to be right behind me and she placed her hand on my shoulder and slowly ran it down on to my butt and gave it a squeeze as she circled.

“If I vote ‘no’ can I help you change?”

I tried to answer her, but she grabbed me by my throat and tilted my head and licked my neck. Grabbing me by my throat was a ‘kill shot’. It caused a hard throb that I could feel in my back teeth and my guys could smell without trying. I decided to suck it up, knowing I’d have to redo my makeup and kissed Pam. Since Eric had the ability to read my mind I broadcasted thoughts of Pam and I in every position I could think of. I had dropped the bag and grabbed her by the back of the head and held her to me. I came up for air every once in a while and flick my tongue with hers and then drove back in for another round. Pam was starting to inch my dress up my thighs and was stopped by Janice clearing her throat. Pam and I laughed into each other’s mouths and broke the kiss.

Alcide fussed at Janice for her timing.

Pam’s hands were still on my hips and most of my lipstick was on her lips. “This color looks really good on you.”

She smiled at me. “What is it called?”

I smirked and raised an eyebrow. “Hot Blooded.”

When I turned around, Eric and Alcide were staring at us. “Oh boys! Pick your tongues up! That wasn’t anything you haven’t seen before.” They were still speechless. “Eric, are you ready to go?” I snapped my fingers in front of his face. “Eric, Heloo!”

“I’ll be back in just a minute, Lover. I need to dress up a little.” Janice dipped into the bathroom. I guess she decided that she didn’t need to babysit us.

I rolled my eyes as Eric sped up the stairs and I went over to Alcide and I leaned into his legs.

“What do you have planned for tonight?”

He cleared his throat a couple of times before he squeaked out an answer. “We’re going to go to the mall after dinner and take the kids to the arcade, maybe see a movie.”

“That sounds like fun. Can I kiss you goodbye before I fix my makeup?” He nodded.

I leaned into his chest and he put his feet on the floor, wrapping his arm around me and resting his hand on my ass. I started our kiss with as much heat as I put into my girl kiss and I straddled his leg and tickled the side of his neck. Pam came over and straddled his other leg and leaned against the other half of his chest and started working on his ear. When I chewed my way out of our kiss Pam took over his lips while I nibbled on his neck. Us two girls were leaning into him with our whole bodies and our thighs were pressed together and rubbing against his hard on. He had his arms wrapped around our backs at the waist and was pressing us against him tightly when we met for a 3 way kiss our blood started to boil just before we were interrupted by Janice.

**

“Alcide Herveaux! Are you going through some sort of midlife crisis or have you always been this big of a horn dog?!”

I giggled into their mouths and breathed: “2 times in 10 minutes. She’s good.”

Pam pulled back. “Janice you’d make a great chaperone if I weren’t already dead.”

The three of us kissers all laughed but Janice was left without amusement while Pam and I thumbed our lipstick from Alcide’s mouth. She had her arms folded across her chest and was tapping her foot. Before I moved back from him I whispered to Alcide. “That was too much fun. Maybe one of these days, the coach will call me in to pinch hit.” I assumed from Alcide’s gulp and Pam’s purr that they were absolutely ok with that.

“Alcide!”

“Yes Janice?”

“Do you realize how demeaning that is to women?”

Pam and I looked at each other and playfully shrugged. Neither one of us felt demeaned. We felt a lot of things, but not demeaned.

Alcide was merely humoring her at this point. “What’s demeaning?”

“The stereotypical hetero male fantasy of having two girls at once, why do guys think that one girl can’t be enough.” Eric was walking down the stairs looking quite dapper in his black 3 piece suit and black ruffled tuxedo shirt. He was very curious if not enthralled at this little exchange.

“I don’t know about most guys but I love Sookie and Pam. I can tell you right now that without a doubt, either one of them ARE enough for me. Both of them have nearly left me in traction and speechless.” Pam and I gave each other a playful high five.

Eric came over and put his arms around Pam and I and looked to Alcide for an explanation. “What have I missed? I have a feeling that I should feel excluded.”

Alcide folded his arms across his chest. “Other than the amuse bouche ménage a trios, nothing except for my baby sister being a huge cock block.” Eric laughed silently at his comrade’s whining.

I was very close to having had enough. “Janice, sweetie, we are all consenting adults here. You’re the only one ashamed of Pam and I kissing your brother at the same time. I also feel the need to defend him by saying that we surprised him.”

“But that isn’t how Alcide was raised; to have threesomes and foursomes and orgies. He was raised in a good Christian home.”

That hit a nerve for Alcide; he reached his fill line. “Good Christian home my ass! Dad snuck around on mom and gambled. Mom snuck around on him and drank and they made an art out of ignoring us. You’re right about the not being raised like this though. I don’t know where you grew up, but Sookie and I would have killed to grow up here.”

“Hey! Y’all look tense” Jason walked in on the tail end of the conversation but Janice decided to pull him in, hopefully on her side. Really?

“I just walked in on your sister and Pam making out with my brother! Doesn’t that bother you.”

I had expected Jason to high five Alcide but he behaved. “Why would it bother me?”

“Because your sister is engaged and making out with two people that aren’t her fiancé.”

“That would be Eric’s concern, not ours. What part of this family should bother me? That they respect each other? That they’d do a whole lot more for each other than any family I know? That they miss each other when they’re separated and appreciate each other every chance they get? That even when they disagree, they don’t fight. Alcide’s right, I’d give an arm and a leg to have grown up under a roof with 4 parents who love each other rather than 2 parents who hate each other. Now that I’ve been through what I’ve been through, I’m jealous of what they have and if I found it, I’d do anything to hold onto it. You should be happy for Alcide, especially after some of the bunny boilers he’s dated.”

We had been absorbed by Jason’s monologue, impressed with his insight and wondering where it had come from. Why had his grasp of things suddenly strengthened? Was it part of a new power? When he made the ‘bunny boiler’ statement we all laughed and were assured that Jason was still in there.

Even Janice was amused at the remark no doubt aimed at Debbie, but she suddenly looked guilty.  “I’m sorry y’all. I guess it’s gonna take some time for me to get used to this.”

Jason walked over to her and put his hand on her shoulder and stared into her eyes. “We understand. You did everything you were ‘supposed’ to do. Find ONE guy, get married and start a family and the rules you followed, fucked you. I been there, but you can’t saddle them with that blame.”

She started to cry a little. Jason wrapped his arms around her and gave her a friendly hug and shushed her. I don’t think I had ever seen him hug any female other than me or Gran in an asexual manner and it surprised me probably as much as Alcide’s 3 way kiss surprised Janice.

**

We watched Jason, calm her down and eventually Eric and I said our goodbyes. I grabbed my long pink trench coat and gave Alcide the run down on how to finish the cornbread and I gave him and Pam sweet little, slightly more than friendly, kisses goodnight and gave Jason and Janice a peck on the cheek on our way out the door. Eric and I sat in the car and smiled at each other when he started the engine and the clock showed us that we were only 5 minutes behind schedule.

We sat in the quiet for a few minutes, just enjoying being alone together while he drove. But eventually Eric took my hand and kissed my fingers and broke the silence. “Lover, I am surprised that you haven’t asked where we are going.”

I quietly laughed in my throat. “If you wanted to tell me, you would have told me what to wear.” I raised an eyebrow.

He chuckled. “You might know me too well. Are you sure you can’t read my mind?”

“Sometimes I wish I could, but for the most part, I very much enjoy that you can always surprise me.” I gave his hand a squeeze.

**

We had only been driving for about 15 minutes when we pulled into the parking lot at a very fancy Asian restaurant. He came over to my side of the car and offered his hand to help me out and I took his arm with a smile. I loved the old fashioned gentleman side of him as much as I loved every other thing about him. But it really was extraordinary that he wasn’t doing it because he was trying to make a good impression on a barmaid he was trying to bed, he was doing it with chivalry. I felt really lucky to have his attention and love considering all of the hundreds of women he could have had. He had chosen me.

When we approached the hostess he told her that we were “Northman, party of three.”

3? Uh oh. He did have something up his silk sleeve. I smiled up at him with a raised eyebrow and he gave me his up-to-something grin.

“Yes sir. Right this way, sir. The other member of your party has already arrived.” She led us through the main dining room that not only had dozens of normal booths and tables but had a row of the Japanese Steakhouse cook top tables. A couple of them had chefs standing at them entertaining diners with the flourishes and fancy moves while preparing their meals. Our walk continued though an archway and into a long corridor lined with sliding rice paper panels enclosing more private dining areas. When our hostess stopped she nodded to our feet and Eric knelt down and unbuckled my ankle straps then unzipped his boots. The hostess smiled at me and thought to herself (in Japanese) how nice it must be to date an ‘American man’ because if her family had their way she would be spending her entire life waiting on her ‘husband’ and never experiencing this sort of give and take. After he kicked off his shoes he smiled at me because he had caught her thought too and I bent over to line our shoes up with the beautiful Jimmy Choo pumps that were already there. When we entered the room a lovely brunette with big brown eyes was bent over what looked like a rolling file cabinet full of books and brochures. We had startled her but she barely faltered reaching her hand out and introducing herself.

“Lucille Montjoy. Lucy.”

“I’m Eric Northman and this is my fiancé Sookie Stackhouse.” We all shook hands and then folded ourselves to sit on cushions at a very, very low table. We took a minute to settle in and I was grateful that even though my dress was very form fitting, it was stretchy. I still decided to bunch it up around my thighs a little so that it wouldn’t lose all of its shape before it was time to change. Lucy had been staring at me. It wasn’t a creepy stare. It was more like the stare I had gotten from the patients at the doctor’s office earlier.

I let Eric take the lead since he knew why we were here. He smiled at me before he spoke. “I assume that your associates sent you because we need someone who is experienced with the supernatural community.”

“Yes sir. There are only two partners with experience with Supes. May I ask what you are?”

I laughed at the incredulous look on her face when Eric told her he was a vampire. “No, really, he is. I am a human… somewhat. I have a few special powers though.”

He argued with me laughingly. “You are a lot of things lover, human being the least of them.”

She stared a little more before she reached to her stack of items and grabbed a legal pad and fountain pen. “So, let’s start with the basics. Do you know when and where? What have you already taken care of?”

I had been hugged onto Eric’s arm and when I realized that he was surprising me with a wedding planner I pinched him under his arm and he laughed.

He started. “Some dear friends of ours have secured the Midyette Plantation for us on March 20th. They have also taken care of the tapas, since it will be late in the evening, the table dressings, the string quartet, the DJ, photographer and bartender.

I added, “And we already know what we are wearing and security is taken care of too.”

She stopped writing the second I said security. “Why would you need security?” She looked clammy.

I giggled at her for not knowing who she was dealing with. “Because Eric is the King of Louisiana and Arkansas and out of our wedding guests, 100 of them will be the other Kings and Queens and Judicial Regents like me. Not to mention we’ll probably have about two hundred other Packmasters, Lieutenants, Sheriffs and magical beings there.”

She took a hard swallow that left Eric feeling very concerned. “Are you feeling well? Do you want to refer us to someone else?”

“I’m fine, I can do the job. I’d be happy to do the job, but I feel like I need to tell you that my experience is not as lofty as you might have hoped. I have done dozens of weddings with supernatural guests, several with a supernatural bride or groom, but never a wedding for a king and queen and judicial regent and primarily Supe guests.”

Eric laughed wryly and looked down at me. “Sookie and I are aware that no one can boast that they have planned such an event. Not a single one has occurred. The closest that there has been, will be, a queen is soon to marry her Were beau. We know that you’ll do your best. It won’t be as difficult as you imagine it.”

She was surprised at the very least to hear that we understood her lack of experience and wanted to hire her anyway. She paused for a moment to process the acceptance before she continued. “So we will need to work on favors, invitations, flowers and cake. How many in your party and how many guests?”

Eric answered her. “We will be 6. Bride, Groom, Maid of honor, Best man and our children are to be flower girl and ring bearer. The number is hard to gage but we expect 400-600 guests.”

Her eyes were huge but she kept to business instead of dwelling on how huge this was. “Do you have an idea about a budget?” We laughed and didn’t answer her. “Ok then, how about invitations?”

Eric: “Since a fair portion of our guests are… older, I was thinking about parchment scrolls written by hand. Can you arrange that?” I smiled up at him, agreeing that it would be a beautiful touch.

I added: “Our color is Padparadscha. So I’d like the tie ribbon and wax seal to match it.” I held my ring out so that she could see the color and she ogled it.

“I like that idea, I’m sure I could have them done and in the mail in about two weeks. How about flowers?”

I answered this one. “Because our guest list is full of… secretive folk, if you have them made and packaged into their tubes, I’ll have my assistant take care of posting them. For centerpieces I want orchids in the same color and I want to hide the pots with wreaths made from ivory roses and Queen Anne’s lace. No baby’s breath. I want salmon and ivory rose and lily topiaries for each row of seats. We need two boutonnieres, each with a rose and an orchid, one in salmon and one in ivory plus a small one for our ring bearer in both colors. I want my bouquet to be a cascade of ivory roses, lilies and orchids and my maid of honor will carry the same in salmon. The carpet I’ll be walking down is white so our flower girl should drop salmon rose pedals and I want some extra for the dining area floor and the buffet and cake table. I think that about covers it.” He smiled down at me again and put his hand on mine where it was still wrapped around his arm.

He chuckled. “This is fun.” I smiled back at him and gave him a smooch.

She was writing like crazy for a bit before she moved on. “Ok, bubble, seed? Do you have a preference?”

Eric had started to shake his head but I knew what I wanted. “Swallowtails.”

He looked down at me in surprise. “Butterflies?” Lucy smiled at me and started writing while I explained.

I giggled. “Well, it’ll be early spring and there will be a lot of robins and sparrows around. If they eat the rice it’ll kill them and if we throw seed the birds could descend like a biblical plague and poop all over our guests. Bubbles stain clothing because of the glycerin and sting when they get in your eyes. But I’ve seen a butterfly release on TV and it’s beautiful. And swallowtails are orange. Oh, I want a lot of extras so that the kids can have fun letting them loose at home after.”

Eric hummed quietly. “I think that will be marvelous.”

“What would you like the envelope to say?” We quickly decided that a monogram ‘N’ would be perfect. “Ok then, cake?”

Eric looked down at me to let me know that it was my call. “A simple 2 tier cake would be fine. Chocolate with buttercream frosting and fondant. Instead of icing decorations, I want chocolate dipped strawberries to decorate it. The cake will be just for us to cut though. With a group our size I think it would be easier to serve everyone a small… basically a fancy cupcake done up like a wedding cake. They should have a salmon colored fondant over chocolate and buttercream and a chocolate dipped strawberry on each plate as garnish.”

Eric had been smiling from the first mention of the strawberries. I had sent him the image of us cutting into the cake to make sure that we get a couple. He fed one to me and I fed one to him and then I kissed him to take back the prize. If we were to do the same with the cake, it could crumble and make him sick. That would be less than fun. When I was done describing it, he looked down at me and licked his lips. He was very pleased with my idea and even more delighted with the image of the wedding cake exchange. Pleased enough that I could smell it.

I playfully slapped his arm and giggled. “Behave vampire, we still have to get through the dress fitting.” He smiled and licked his lips again except this time he showed some fang. He knew I wouldn’t deny him a kiss so when he leaned over for one I let a fang knick my tongue and his kiss deepened and by the time it was over I had been relieved of a small amount of blood but most of my lipstick.

“Lover, does your lipstick look as good on me as it does on Pam?” I giggled and took a napkin from the table and started wiping it from his lips.

Lucy had been ignoring our romantic moment by pretending to be making notes about the cake for longer than she needed to. When she was sure we were done making out, she continued. “Any thoughts on how to take care of the guests gifts? I’m sure the standard candle or photo frame won’t do for your guests.”

Eric took over. He dug a piece of paper out of his breast pocket and held it out to Lucy. “I ordered 600 of these. I assume it would not be a problem to repackage them and set them into a larger box with mixed chocolates to keep them from getting jostled and broken. It is a small trinket but unique enough that the wealthier guests are likely to appreciate the symbolism.”

By the look on her face she was impressed. I held my hand out and asked to see since I had no idea what was on the sheet. She handed it to me and it was a print out of a web page for a Swarovski crystal orchid with a pink center. It was beautiful. When I noticed the price, my eyes nearly popped out of my head. A month ago I wouldn’t have spent that on a wedding gift for one couple and Eric bought 600 of them! Shit. He ‘heard’ me and chuckled.

“Lover, last month you were still wasting time filling salt shakers but this week you donated 12 million dollars worth of property to domestic violence charities.” He took my hand and laced our fingers together. “Try to keep it in perspective.” He gave me a grin that told me he was amused with my grasp on my humble beginnings.

I took a deep breath and let the concept of budgeting escape me. I glossed over my initial sticker shock by giggling. “Hey buddy! Give me a break once in a while. Not everyone has a piggy bank the size of yours. I’m working on my hang ups.” He chuckled at me again and leaned over for a smooch.

Our waitress eventually came in to take our orders and we started going through the books and brochures Lucy had brought with her to decide on the wording of the invitations and thank you cards and all of the other details while Lucy and I ate. Eric gave her the name and contact info for Russell’s helpers so that she could contact them. Lucy had worked some numbers and came up with a figure, and then filled in the blanks on a standard contract, asking only for a deposit and Eric pulled out his checkbook and penned a check for the full amount and at 7:30 we put our shoes back on and walked out the door of the restaurant to go to Donna’s dress shop for our appointment.

**

We rode along in the car with goofy, excited grins on our faces chatting away about our plans for our big day and we were so happy that our ride almost seemed too short. When I showed him where the shop was he was surprised to say the least. It wasn’t far from where we attacked the cursed witches in a small strip mall and sandwiched between a bodega and a wig shop specializing in ‘real hair’ extensions. He was already leery when we pulled up and when I grabbed my shoulder bag and coat out of the back he raised a suspicious eyebrow.

“I can tell what you’re thinking. I almost didn’t go in either, but trust me.”

I took his hand and we walked in. I could tell through the bond that he felt better the second he was inside.

The interior of the store was 180 degrees from what the exterior would suggest. Contrary to the dirty sidewalk and flickering fluorescent bulbs outside we were standing in an upscale couture studio. There were racks along the full length of the long narrow space organized by style. The other wall was lined with sewing and embroidery machines and design tables and the walls were covered with sketches. Eric went straight to the racks of corsets and eyed me over his shoulder a couple of times before Donna emerged from the restroom just past the dressing room.

“Hey handsome! Don’t waste your time with those. I knew y’all were coming so I pulled Sookie’s size.” In one fluid motion she reached her hand out and started towing a gondola wardrobe behind her and as she stopped she leaned over and air kissed my cheek. “Hello Buttercup. How has my favorite customer been?” Eric had been watching our greeting with amusement. Donna had all the flamboyance of Liberace in the body of a short pudgy mid fifties Asian woman, complete with a saccharine sweet southern drawl that put Mr. Cataliades to shame. She was engaging to say the least.

“I’ve been very busy but life is glorious. How about you? Things are going well, I hope.”

She groaned with a smile on her face. “If I can get that PITA ex of mine to stop trying to talk my son out of design school and into the Army, life would be better. I swear, he thinks that being around men in fatigues all the time will make Chris less gay.” We all laughed at that.

“Did you pull the other sizes too?”

She smiled at me and I swear her smile showed all of her teeth. “I just so happen to have exactly what you asked for.”

I got so excited that I bounced and clapped my hands. “Show me!”

Donna pulled out two corsets, one powder blue and one was a pale creamy yellow. They were both in the same style as mine. The blue one had navy blue swirls at the bust line that spread out and trickled down to the middle in a ‘V’. The yellow one had red roses embroidered in vertical rows between the boning.

“OH! They are lovely! Pam will love them! Where’s the other one?” She pulled a garment bag out of the gondola and unzipped it with a smile and a flourish. This one was in an hourglass shape and gold damask. It was slightly shorter and it had bronze colored roses at the bust line. She pulled the matching garter and panties out from the bottom of the bag and showed them off too.

“Donna they’re perfect! You are too good! I know she’ll love them!” I looked at Eric. “I’m sure that everyone else at Niki’s Lingerie Party will get her gifts from LaPerla and places like that. I thought…”

“This, she’ll love, and remember.” He smiled at me and leaned down to give my cheek a sweet kiss. “Donna, before too long you’ll be sewing corsets for every vampire queen and the king’s lovers. You do wonderful work. I haven’t seen talent like this in centuries.” Donna beamed and reached into the gondola and handed him a garment bag.

“Well thank you! Here’s your shirt. Go for a test drive, that way you can shop while we go in for the heavy lifting.”

He smiled at her, I think he might even have been surprised by the fact that she was showing no fear of him, and took his shirt back to the dressing room and came out what seems like no time, probably less than a minute. It was a perfect fit!

“Donna! How did you do that? All I told you was how tall he was!”

“Honey, your vampire is not exactly shy.” She nodded her head over to the Fangtasia calendar hanging on the wall. “Chris got it for me for Christmas.” Eric and I laughed. “Once I knew how tall he is I knew everything else. I’m not new at this. The color is good on him. Right? The little guy’s is in there too.”

We took a minute to seriously bask in her awesomeness. Eric straightened his cuffs a couple of times and straightened his collar. “Donna, do you do suits?”

She laughed at the flattery. “I don’t usually, but for you, I can. What color?”

“I don’t care.” He finally broke his gaze away from his shirt and looked at Donna. “I’ve had the same tailor for 40 years and he’s never fit me this well. I want a dozen and 2 dozen shirts.”

“You don’t even know how much I’m asking.”

He gave her an insulted look and I distracted her. “Think about a number while you lace me up.”

**

We went into the fitting room and I stepped into the ‘lobster’ and then lowered the skirt over my head. Then the arduous task of strapping into the top began. Thank God Donna had been doing this for a while. We were only at work for about ten minutes before I turned around and saw myself in the mirror. I was impressed. It was a perfect fit. The color was perfect. The skirt was the perfect length and the swag in the back fell in the exact right way. I was on the verge of tears.

“You are breathtaking but no sense in tears now. You’ll do enough of that on the wedding day. Are we letting him see it?” I nodded my head and stepped out of the curtain. He had been looking at the sketches on the wall and the second he saw me step out his head snapped to attention and his fangs ran out.

“Eric, do you like it?”

He gave me a very toothy grin. “Lover, I think I prefer you in that to anything and nothing.”

I smiled at him. “Really? You don’t think that it’s too much?”

“I think it’s absolutely perfect. I think that we need to put Donna on retainer. I think that our daughters will fight over this dress.” He held his hand up and I took it. He lifted it up over my head and I slowly rotated. I felt like the dancing princess in a little girl’s jewelry box. When I had come full circle he licked his lips and hummed. “I think that the sight of you in this dress will make every waking second without you unbearable. If it beat, my heart would have stopped the second you stepped out from behind that curtain. You are the most beautiful creature I have laid eyes on in my whole existence.”

I had fought back the tears for long enough. “Donna, can I cry now?”

“Why not honey, I am.” I heard a sniffle come from behind me. “Hey, where were you when I was young enough to be swept off my feet?”

He looked over my shoulder at her. “Waiting for Sookie.”

She darted into the bathroom and grabbed a box of tissues and in a flash she had the box held out to me while she held one to her face. I took one and dabbed my eyes so that I wouldn’t mess up my makeup too badly. I smiled at him and he took the few steps towards me, still holding my hand and put his hand on my lower back.

“Can you dance in this?”

“I can try.” I put my hand up on his shoulder and he waltzed with me slowly for a minute and then we sped up a little. We only took a couple of passes through the space. I was afraid we would knock things over. “I don’t think it’s impossible. I’ve never waltzed before so you’ll need to give me lessons, but the dress isn’t as hard to move in as I thought it would be.”

He smiled at me, his fangs still out. “Good. I’d like for you to stay in this until we get our first dance or two, if that’s alright with you.”

“What the king wants, the king gets.” I gave him a wink. He pulled me to him and we lost ourselves in a long, dreamy, passionate kiss. I had to try to get out of the kiss; he seemed intent to stay right where we were forever.

When I finally reined him in he looked grumped. “Hmm, not everything, it seems.”

I laughed as I dragged Donna back into the changing room. “Patience vampire, patience. 2 months is a drop in the bucket for you.”

Donna called back to him. “Don’t worry. I’ll make a back up just in case this one gets messed up before it walks down the aisle.”

We smiled at each other when we heard him chuckling in the shop.

**

She helped me out of my dress and then I opened my shoulder bag and slid into my skirt and heels and had her help me into my pink corset. I turned around and she knew that we needed to be quiet so she shook her hand at her shoulder to let me know she thought I looked ‘hot’. After I packed up my stuff, I wrapped up in my coat and we came out again. As soon as we did Eric jumped into conversation with Donna with both feet. I say that like he ever pussy footed around anything. Ha.

“These are your designs?”

She nodded. “Most of them. A few are Chris’s.”

“Do you have any made?”

“No. Sookie has been keeping me pretty busy.”

“I think they would look wonderful on Sookie and Pam. When could you have them done?”

She was giddy enough at his interest in her pet project that she giggled her answer. “Which ones?”

“All of them. I like Sookie in light pink, Alcide prefers her in a light turquoise. Pam prefers pastels she looks best in pale yellows and icy blues and she is an inch taller than Sookie. Patterns and textures I’ll leave to you.”

Donna stood there speechless for a minute. Her jaw was moving and he smiled at her as she tried to get words to form in her throat. “You want… 4… of each of these?”

“And 2 evening gowns for our opening. I will pay you in advance. Once the press sees your talents, you will be swamped with orders though. You should hire a proper staff.”

“Ppp..Press?”

“Yes. Apparently, Sookie has been quite successful with our expansion. 14 different shows have contacted me about our re-opening including a couple of fashion shows. We’ll be having a red carpet opening for celebrities and VIPs on the 5th of February and when the press find out that we are wearing you, every Fangbanger in the country will want to wear you too.” He chuckled a bit. “You should raise your prices though.” I stood there smiling at him. Donna was still astonished. He looked at me and smirked. He blurred out the door and came back with his jacket and sat down at the art desk and scribbled out a list then wrote out a check and came over to her, handing them to her and she held them in trembling hands.

“I’ll make a deal with you. You take this, in exchange for the 16 corsets over there, 4 of each of your designs 12 suits and 24 shirts for me, the same for Alcide, 1 suit each for Clancy, Dozer, Tobin and Jason, an evening gown each for Febes, Felicia, Janice, Angela, Sookie and Pam. Once they come in for a fitting, you select what is best for their body type and coloring. I trust your work. If you decide that you want a sponsor for fashion week, we’ll talk and I will go to Queen Nicholette of New York to make sure you have a Bryant Park showing as soon as you are ready.” He smiled at her and stood back with his arms across his chest. I went over to him and put my arm around his waist and I smiled up at him.

Donna finally looked at the check. “Buttercup, is this guy for real?!”

“Nope. He’s a dream come true.”

She turned her attention to Eric. “Why would you do this?”

“The check is because that is what someone with your talents should charge. The help is because I hate to see wasted talent. It won’t cost me as much as a favor, once Nicholette gets that corset, she’ll order more and be anxious to have front row seats at your show with us.”

She looked back at me. “That corset is for a vampire Queen?”

I nodded but Eric took over before I could talk. “You do realize that Sookie is a Queen too, right?”

“She is?”

He laughed. “Yes. she is. She is the Reigning Supreme Judicial Regent of North America. I am just the King of Louisiana and Arkansas and when we marry in March her title as queen here will be redundant since she is already my sovereign.”

I thought she might choke on the gasp of air she took. “You told me that you were dating a vampire that works at Fangtasia.”

I laughed. “I didn’t lie, I just hate name dropping and when you and I met he was Sherriff of Shreveport and owns Fangtasia and I wasn’t even Queen of the bar I worked at. This is new.”

“I just made the Queen of Louisiana and Arkansas’s wedding dress?”

Eric and I looked at each other and nodded.

Without another word to us she ran back to the phone and picked it up and speed dialed. “Chris! You are never going to believe who just ordered 4 each of our designs on the wall!… The Vampire King!… No, I’m not on drugs… No this isn’t a joke…Chris! I am not kidding. This is not a joke. He is standing right here laughing at me because I can’t get you to believe me…”

We were laughing at her and before she had the chance to ask him if he would humor her son his hand was out to take the phone.

“Chris… I could prove it, but how do you propose I do that?… Interesting…” Eric laughed. “Well, I was going to invite your mother to visit with Sookie and me at Fangtasia this evening. I have a couple of vampires that need to be measured. Would you like to join us?… Lovely, I’ll be the one they’re calling ‘Majesty’.”

He handed the phone back to Donna and looked down to meet my eyes. He had been seriously tickled by something Chris had said. “He thought I was put up to it and told me I could I could prove that I was king by biting his ‘queer ass’! This is going to be very amusing.”

“Oh lord! You are just as happy as a kid with a new toy.”

Donna had hung up and was back with us. “I’m sorry about him; I can’t say I’d believe it either though. I’ll bag up your goodies and bring them with me. Is there anything else you need from me?”

“You should bring a tape measure. We’re headed over there now when do you think you’ll be over?”

“I told Chris to meet me here in an hour.”

“Excellent, I’ll call our other vampire and have her come over when she can. We’ll see you then.” He shook her hand and I hugged her and we were on our way.

**

Once we were in the car, I took Eric’s hand. “I’ve had a lot of fun with you tonight.”

He smiled at me briefly before turning his attention back to the road. “I have fun whenever I’m with you, even when we’re surrounded by people. I do love that we got to take care of wedding details without all the help.”

“Eric, are you starting to regret our living arrangements?”

He looked appalled that I would even ask and I could feel the same in the bond. “Of course not. I’m excited to have a family.”

**

We pulled into Eric’s parking spot right by the back door to Fangtasia and just sat for a moment looking at each other. Eric lifted my hand to his mouth and kissed the back of my fingers before he announced that he was ready to open his present and came to open my door.

“What present?”

He ran his fangs out again. “The one you carefully wrapped in that pretty pink trench coat.” He playfully leaned forward and tried to peak into the neckline.

“Viking, you have lost your patience so many times today, I shouldn’t show you at all.”

He pouted his bottom lip at me and whined, yes whined. “Sookie… please?”

“What are you willing to do for me in return?”

He smiled at the negotiation. “What are we asking for?”

“A Vegas wedding.”

“Is that acceptable during the pregnancy?”

“The doctor said ‘eat or drink anything’.”

“What are your other terms?”

“I’m sure that I could get more, but I’ll take it easy on you. That is all. Just a Vegas wedding.”

“Deal.” He opened the back door to the bar and we were hit with a wall of hard throbbing heavy metal music and we walked down the hall but when we got to the doorway to his office he tried to walk in and I pulled at his hand and led him to his booth instead.

“Sookie, how long do I have to wait?”

“Just until I get my drink, you vampires are sneaky.” I gave him a wink.

Within a second of getting to the booth a waitress was there to take our order and when he slid into the booth after me I quickly straddled his lap. He smiled and put his hands on my hips and tried to sneak a feel at what was under the coat by slowly sliding his hands up. I kept my eyes locked on his and slowly shook my head. He laughed when he realized he was caught and lowered his hands again.

When I saw that the waitress was on her way with my drink, I gave him the green light. Literally, I sent him the image of a traffic light turning from red to green. It was silly and it made us both laugh as our waitress was unloading her tray and he started to slowly untie the belt and then unbutton the buttons. He was savoring it and didn’t help it fall open at all before he had every button undone then he slowly started to pull the shoulders back and I watched his eyes glaze over as the coat fell open and he had a full view of the front of the corset. I pulled my arms out of my sleeves, taking the bobby pins out of the pockets and then tossed the jacket over the back of the booth. He slowly ran his fingers over the embroidery like a blind man reading Braille. I pulled my hair away from my shoulders and whipped it into a twist. I had just exposed my neck, shoulders and an ample serving of cleavage mere inches away from a hungry vampire and smiled into his lusty face.

I hunched over as much as I could (considering the corset) and started licking and nibbling his neck he helped by laying his head back I felt a low growl coming from his throat as his hands tightened on my thighs. Even though I had licked him more than enough for the sugar I got carried away and kept going. I reached behind me and grabbed the shots and set them on the seat next to us so that I could reach them and then I poured out a couple of sugar packets into my hand and pressed it to his neck. I put the cherry between his teeth and he reached behind me and grabbed a slice of lemon and I started with a slow lick and then a shot and when I separated the pulp from the rind, I made sure to lick his fingers. Each time I took a little bit more of his fingers into my mouth and when I took the cherry from him, I swallowed it whole and went in to give him his prize. I stabbed my tongue as hard as I could against his fangs and let the blood flow freely while I kissed him deeper and deeper. When the holes closed I did it again and then again and every time I did it he got a little more excited and so did I.

**

He slammed the door shut and hoisted me up for me to wrap my legs around his waist and buried his teeth into my neck. He drank from me long enough for me to get out of breath. He had me pressed against the wall and the friction between our pelvises was distracting me from how much I wanted to bite his neck. My fang marks had healed and my hands laced into his hair when his bloody lips returned to mine as he carried me to the desk setting me down right beside it.

I had expected him to lay me down on the desk right away but instead he took a step back and looked me over.

“Eric, what’s wrong?”

His eyebrow shot up and a sinister grin took over his face as his finger lightly traced the line of my shoulder down to my hand. “Lover, I am planning the best way to enjoy my gift without ruining it.” If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear he was short of breath.

I reached over and unbuttoned his shirt and opened it but didn’t take it off of him. I lightly ran my fingernails down the middle his cool, hard chest before I started sliding my skirt and panties down my legs and sitting on the edge of the desk. I raised my leg and rested my foot against his thigh and reached down to start playing with my hoop. His eyes sparked with lust and the bond was at the breaking point. “Have you made your plans?”

Without hesitation, he was on his knees with his fingers buried in my center and his fangs in my thigh. While he fed a second time he manipulated several releases from me, switching from one thigh to the other when the wound closed and just when I was starting to think that I couldn’t take anymore he was over me and in me pushing me to another then another climax. I was at the point, again, where they were overlapping. I barely overcame one before another started. I was trembling and the tears were running out of my eyes into my hair when I felt the bond crackling like damp firewood. I felt like I had become a part of him, I was feeling everything bit of my lust and his. I could only figure that it was what it must feel like the split second before a head on collision and then it happened. Our bodies exploded against each other in a force of light. Had I not been bracing myself by holding his wrists he would have been knocked over again. He lowered himself to kiss me and then we stared into each other’s eyes with very pleased grins on our faces.

After a few minutes he took my hands and lifted me from the table. I buttoned his shirt for him and he handed my skirt and panties to me. We had righted ourselves in no time. He came over to me and put his hands on my waist and leaned over for a long sweet kiss and when it was over I put my hands to his neck and checked to see what power he had gotten. My eyes started to water instantly and I darted out of his office and into the crowd to divest someone of what I needed to test the theory. When I returned to the office I stopped right in front of him and smiled as I stared up into his perfect eyes and mine started to fill.

“Lover, what’s wrong? Have you discovered a drawback?”

I held my up so he put his hand out to receive whatever it was that I was offering him. I tilted my head back to kiss him and dropped the item into his hand and closed it around the item.

I kept my hand over his and looked up at him. “Just keep your head.” He looked puzzled for a moment before I moved my hand and he looked at the silver necklace in the palm of his hand. He stood there and stared at it for a long moment, running his fingers over it.

“Sookie?”

“It’s sterling, I checked for the stamp.”

He wrapped his arm around my shoulder and kissed my forehead as he hugged me close to him. We were quiet for a long while before I heard him hum. “Keep my head and avoid stakes.”

“Nope, just keep your head. Stakes aren’t a problem anymore either but I’m not about to try to prove that.” I leaned back and looked at him with all seriousness. “Eric, I was right! You are the most powerful Vampire in the country if not the world.”

He laughed at me. “Lover, are you telling me ‘I-told-you-so?”

“Maybe a little.” I giggled a bit thinking about it.

**

We went out to the booth and sat there talking with one another about the wedding for a few minutes, just content to be together when Felicia approached the table and bowed.

“Beg pardon Majesty, there is a gentleman here asking audience with Her Majesty. James Coppersmith.”

I gave her a friendly grin. “Send him over.” Eric looked concerned as we slid out of booth to receive our company.

I watched our visitor leave his table and 3 (uncomfortable) companions behind. He was beautiful. He was not much taller than I and moved with the grace of angel. He had a very long pitch black braid draped over each shoulder that almost vanished against the lapels of his well tailored suit. He wore his grey blue shirt unbuttoned at the neck to show his choker made of bone, turquoise and gold. He was Native American and looked like he had been in his mid 20s when he was turned, and did I mention beautiful?

He stopped in front of us and instead of bowing, the normal greeting for peer groups, James Coppersmith dropped to his knee.

“Majesties, I am James Coppersmith, King of the Northern Kingdom. I have traveled here to offer my fealty and allegiance and beg of you, your assistance in a matter of much distress for me.”

I reached out and patted his shoulder, surprising him. “Please, have a seat.” We slid into the booth and I motioned over to the waitress to come take his order. “What can we do to help Montana from way down here James?”

Eric sat quietly with his ‘business serious’ face screwed on tight as James started flattering. “Rumors travel fast, but not always entirely accurately. I only hope that your amazing intuition has been as understated as your splendor and charisma.” He nodded in Eric’s direction. “I do see that the rumors of your good fortune are entirely truthful.”

Eric smiled slightly and while he spoke Angela silently joined us. “I am a lucky bastard, but I wonder what you have been hearing way out in your neck of the woods.” Eric leaned over to receive a kiss from Angela.

James smiled back. “Well, we have heard about your ascension, of course, and that you have been blessed with children and a very amiable nest. It’s been common, even though I have no enemies, to hear that accords are being made in anticipation of your wedding; for enemies to not act on each other’s territories so that anyone invited may attend your nuptials without the fear of a coup.”

Eric and I smiled at each other. That had been our only real worry when it came to the wedding. When it came to having all 250 ‘American’ Vampire politicians in the same place, the flow chart keeping track of allies and enemies would have to be 3D and the size a comfortable sedan!

Eric sat back with a smug look on his face so I decided to step back up to the plate with an amused grin. “So now that you have flattered both of us, what can we do for you?”

His face grew grim. “I have a dilemma within my territories and personal life. 2 of my sheriffs, South Dakota and Wyoming, have claimed the same human. Neither of them knew until Bike Week last July and since we do try to be as civilized as we can be up there they decided between the two of them to leave her to make a choice. They thought that she had but it was a farce. She had only gone back to her old games. Wendy refuses to choose; proclaiming that she loves them both and says that a battle is the only way, but they refuse because they both know what fallout there would be when either loses the battle. It would spiral into a civil war between two areas in the same kingdom. As king I should pass the verdict but it is further complicated by the fact that one of those two vampires is my maker and one is my child.”

Eric, Angela and I had both listened carefully. “James, what would you do?”

‘Short of killing her only thing I want to do is banish her, but I have no power to do so.”

While I pondered his predicament I stared down at his bottle of true blood as he nervously peeled away the label and then rolled it between his fingers and fidgeted, a wholly un-Vampirelike characteristic. “Is she pure human? Does she have any powers?”

“As far as I know, she is human and defenseless.”

I held up my hand and summoned her with a finger. Both of her suitors looked nervous. When she arrived at the table I held my hand out to shake hers as an excuse to dig through her brain and quickly found what I had been looking for. She moved as though she was going to sit down and I told her not to bother.

I think I did very well at hiding my distain for her from everyone but Eric. To be honest, it wasn’t a like or dislike that I had for her, it was an overwhelming urge to kick her- perhaps even bounce her face off of the bar. She was very lucky that I was boxed in when Angela had arrived. I motioned over to the other two vampires and had them join us, motioning to invite them into the booth. Once they were seated I turned to them. “Are the three of you content to accept my verdict in your matter?”

They all bowed their heads to me and I turned my attention to the ‘woman’ at the end of my table. “Marlene Andrews, are you?” She blanched as well as her two dupes and their king. Other than her reaction I got no answer so I smiled at her. “As a human, you shame me. Your head start ends at sunset tomorrow but since you have had both of their blood, it won’t do you much good. Leave.” She turned and ran out the door like the bar were on fire, as well she should. I turned my attention back to the three men across from me. “That is my verdict. The 2 of you, and only the two of you may hunt her to do with as you please, except turn her. When you rise tomorrow evening AND as soon as she is out of Louisiana and Arkansas. For future reference, you really should investigate your lovers a little. It’s bad enough that you didn’t know her real name but she is fellowship.” I turned to focus on James. “Your bigger problem; Steve Newlin has taken exile in Weston County. I wish I could be more specific.” I continued speaking to no one in particular. “She volunteered to become friends with one of you as a spy but their end game changed when the other showed an interest in a chance meeting. The plot was to pit you against each other and stand back and let you all take one another out. She was never conflicted and never had feelings for either of you. I’m sorry.”

Eric took ahold of my hand under the table and gave it a gentle squeeze as the away team shared a round of looks that seemed to go on for a while.

“Are you gentlemen displeased?”

James looked at me for a moment before he replied. “Not displeased, I would say shocked. Did you really give them permission to… do as they please? To a human?”
I smiled at him brightly. “If a vampire were to be caught as a spy, he would be tortured for information and executed. Humans do the same to one another, and the punishment for treason and hate crimes are steep. She knew she might be… unlucky in her task and even knew that she could die if she was caught. Why not? It seems only fair since, had she gotten her way, most of the Dakota Vampire would have died one by one. One life for dozens, right?  Oh yeah! By the way, if you catch Newlin, tell him Sookie Stackhouse says ‘Hi’.”

They all smiled at me and we spoke for a few minutes before we scooted out of our seats to say goodbye to our company and the three of them dropped on one knee again bowing their heads. They took their leave thanking Eric and me profusely for the audience, information and generous verdict. Just as we were sliding back into our seats, Donna came into the bar with Chris’s wrist tight in hand and I waived her over. She struggled through the crowded bar but slowly made it over to us.

I thought about asking Eric how he thought I did but before the words came out of my mouth he leaned over and gave me a very tonguey frenzied kiss. “I think you did perfectly, but I was as surprised as they were that you sentenced her to death.”

“Yeah, well, fuck her for trying to get away with it.” He laughed into my mouth and leaned back to great our guests. Let the games begin.

**

Donna was aggravated with her son, Chris had realized how foolhardy his earlier words might have been when Donna showed him the check and he tried to get out of coming along. When they sat down she put him in the booth first because she would need to get up to do the measurements. That put nothing but bench between Eric and Chris. After a minute or two of small talk Eric managed to sneak a wink at Donna and she smiled back at him. He took that as the go ahead and slid over right next to Chris and put his arm around his shoulder. He looked down at Chris and the poor kid visibly tensed and started to sweat. I was trying really hard not to crack up.

“Please don’t laugh Lover; it is already really hard for me to keep a straight face right now.”

I distracted myself by getting to business with Donna. “Why don’t I show you where you can do her measurements and I’ll get the other Vampires too.” The three of us scooted out and headed towards the office and I looked over my shoulder and saw Eric lean over and get right into Chris’s face and trace a finger down the boy’s jaw line seductively. I couldn’t hold off a smile so I turned away and told Felicia and Clancy about the fitting. I led them all to the office and then returned to the booth.

“Master, can I join you?”

Eric smiled at me to show me that his fangs were out. “Of course you may, Lover. Doesn’t he have the prettiest eyes.”

I raised my eyebrow at Donna’s unfortunate offspring and licked my lips before I slid onto the bench to sit next to him. “We should make our arrangements for later before his mother returns.” I leaned into his neck and breathed a hot breath against it before I sniffed him. “Mmmm, Master, it’s been a while since we’ve had B-. He’s a virgin too, never been fed from. This will be a treat.” I finally found myself with the chance to have fun with my telepathy. The information I pulled out of his head made him positively rigid. He thought he was flanked by two vampire that were going to fuck him to death.

Eric took over. “You look nervous sweetheart. Would you like a drink to… lubricate your mood?” He motioned over for the waitress and asked for a bottle of Patron and 2 glasses. “Don’t worry Christian, I don’t bite… unless I’m invited.”

“Master, if we take him to the nest we won’t have any privacy. Might we get a suite for our party?”

Eric ran his fingertips across Chris’s shoulders slowly while he answered me. “But the walls in hotels are so thin. Don’t forget what happened last time.” I was really proud of myself, both of us… Eric and I had no trouble at all keeping up our little scare tactic. I have to admit that I was using Pam as my inspiration. I’d have fun telling her about it later.

When the waitress brought the bottle and the glasses over and sat them down, Chris lurched forward and poured himself a drink quickly and tossed it back and then another and then when he went to drink his third Eric gently took it from him and set it on the table. “Shhhh. Precious boy, if you drink too much, it will affect your…” Eric licked his lips. “flavor.”

Just then Donna returned to the table with Angela and the look of dread on Chris’s face made them both giggle uncontrollably. Eric and I burst out laughing, unable to hold back anymore. Eric slid around to his original spot and I moved to join him. Angela decided to go back home because everyone had been playing cards and she had been up $20.

Eric called after her. “Drive safe kid, we’ll be home soon.”
Donna, Eric and I spent a few minutes laughing at Chris and schooling him that even telling a vampire king imposter to bite his ass was a bad idea. They enjoyed a couple of drinks and then they went home after helping us move the garment bags full of pretties to our car. Eric and I enjoyed a couple of dances and at about midnight we headed home.

**

In the car on the way home I leaned against Eric’s shoulder savoring the last few minutes alone together until God only knows when. He kissed the top of my head and I started feeling weird things coming at me through the bond. It was like he had every feeling he’d experienced all night long in a blender.

“Eric, I’ve never heard of a king swearing fealty to another king, allegiance yes, but never fealty.”

“I’ve been around for a long time and neither have I. We should talk to Pam. She lived up north for a few years. Maybe they just do things differently. They are rather isolated up there. He may only have as many vampire in his 5 states that I had as sheriff.”

I pondered that for a moment. “How do you feel about being invincible? I think that should be something we keep really quiet. If someone does try to come after you, there would be extra fun in watching them mess their pants when you don’t react to a net or chains.” He laughed at that as he agreed that no one should know.

“Lover, did what I did with Donna bother you?”

“No. What part are you talking about?”

“Ordering clothing for everyone for the opening as an excuse to help her financially. You have considered me to be high handed in the past.” I growled out of frustration. “You are angry.”

I grumbled. “When I think of all the time I wasted being mad at you for ‘controlling’ me when you were just trying to be kind I want to slap myself. I’m mad, but I’m mad at me.”

He chuckled slightly but the bond betrayed him. I was getting really good at deciphering his feelings in the bond and I was getting slapped with ‘I-told-you-so’.

**

When we got home, he took the garment bags from the trunk and laid them on the kitchen table as we quietly walked through the house looking for signs of life. When we got to the den Alcide was sitting one couch with Pam, Febes and Dozer. Jason, Janice and Angela were on the other couch. They were watching a movie and it was almost over.

Without turning around, Alcide greeted us cheerfully. “How did quiet time go?”

I laughed. “It wasn’t exactly quiet, but we had fun.” I leaned over and kissed him on the cheek and then Pam. “We’ll explain when your movie is over.”

I went to the kitchen and found out that there hadn’t been any leftover stew so I threw a couple of crab cakes into the microwave and munched on those while Eric and I waited for the others to join us. “Do you need a true blood, sexy?”

He smirked at me. “Lover, there is no way I could possibly take another drop.” He came over to me and nuzzled my neck and kissed it gently. “I have had more blood this week than I had in the previous two months. I will more than likely not need to feed while we are in New Orleans either.”

Ugh. I hadn’t thought of that. How will he ‘feed’ while we are apart? Shit, in the scheme of things I know that Eric will be true to me, but I still found myself possessive over him. I just know what goes through live donors and fangbangers’ minds and they had better realize that if they make him sick or try to pull something, I’ll hunt them down and make them suffer.

He went to the fridge and grabbed a pint of ice cream and then a spoon and traded me for my empty plate. I snickered a little while I started eating it. Eric had felt that I was still hungry. I loved our bond. Again, the mind reading vampire filled the bond with I-told-you-so since he had told me once that I would like it one day. I playfully scowled at him as we were joined by our nest mates

**

Alcide came over and kissed my cheek. “So, Shug, what ruined your quiet?”

“Tell me how things were here first.” I shoveled a scoop of ice cream into his mouth.

He smiled at me. “The kids did fine. They loved the stew and had seconds, we all did. Jason and I went out into the yard when we got back from the arcade and he got a little worn out but we got him most of the way into a wolf. By the next full moon he’ll be good to go and Clancy called a few minutes before you got here. Some guy wanted the address so that he could have your ‘thank you gift’ delivered tomorrow morning. Pam told him to meet you at Fangtasia instead at 10. Eric, Pam and I can go with you. Other than that, it was a calm night. So what happened to you guys?” I scooped another spoonful into his mouth with a smile.

Eric decided he would tell the tale. “We started at Dragon where we met the wedding planner. We made arrangements for everything. I think the next thing we’ll need to do is show up. We went to her dress maker and the woman does such phenomenal work that I ordered evening gowns and suits for everyone for the Re-Opening. Everyone needs to work out a time to go in for a fitting this week. Sookie passed her first sentence and then we terrorized a young man who got too big for his britches.”

Alcide wanted to hear about the judgment and Pam was more interested in the terror. Eric and I went through the story again with more detail and saved the visit from the Northern Territory for the end. Eric focused on Pam when he explained the request for help and the peculiar pledge. Pam didn’t wait to hear the rest of the story. “Coppersmith pledged fealty… to you?”

Eric nodded. “It confuses me too. I’ve never heard of a king pledging to another king. Is there a custom you heard about while in Minnesota that would explain it?  Maybe it is simply a regional euphemism?”

“Eric, another King knelt before you and declared himself YOUR subject in front of his maker and all of Fangtasia. Are you being daft? Eric, you know what ‘fealty’ means to us.”

Eric shook his head in disbelief. “You have to be mistaken. He must have simply been speaking of political friendship.”

Pam huffed. “You are being daft. You now have control over 7 states.” When he didn’t respond she stomped her foot at him. “Eric! He must have spent days rehearsing what he would say to you. Do you really think that he would have misspoken? You know I’m right. He’s going to be paying tribute to you.”

Eric shook his head slightly. “Why would he though?”

The 4 of us pondered that for a few moments. Alcide and I were more easily distracted and while Eric and Pam sent back and forth about the king issue, I sent Alcide the details of my first ‘verdict’.

“You sentenced her to death?!?!” Alcide was shocked and Eric immediately caught Pam up on what we were talking about.

“Yes sir, I did.”

“You gave two vampires permission to kill… torture her to death.”

I stood there with a very satisfied look on my face. Pam was very proud of me, maybe too proud. Her fangs ran out. She looked over at Eric with appreciative eyes. “Eric it seems that our concerns about her being lenient in the direction of humans have been satisfied.”

He smirked and nodded in her direction. “Yes, they have. Now we only have to wait to see if she will be seemed impartial or self deprecating.”

As I reached for my ringing phone I told them not to talk about me like I wasn’t in the room.

“Good evening Russell, I was about to call you.”

“Really, what did you want to talk to me about?”

“You first.”

“I heard you killed a human tonight.”

I laughed out loud. “My, oh my! News travels fast. That is part of what I was calling about. Your thoughts?”

“You gave them her life. As a vampire I applaud your severity, but you turned on your own. Are you going to be able to sleep at night.”

“Russell, you are over 700 years old. How many times have you loved a human? Enough to die for them?”

“Never.”

“Right and in your experience, how often does that happen between a vampire and a human.”

“Since I do not consider you human, I have never seen it happen.”

“Russell, she seduced those two men into a lie to start a war and both of them were willing to take a stake for her. There was no history for her. No sob story about a loved one wronged by a Vampire. She had never been glamoured or seduced or fed from. Her soul was pure hate. No punishment would have deterred her, she would have followed Newlin into hell killing ‘bloodsuckers’ and ‘fangbangers’. This way, he can just follow her trail of crumbs.”

He laughed riotously. “Sookie, my dear, you will be a fine Justice and when you become vampire, we will all bow to you. Did you plan to speak to me of anything else.”

“Only if you’ll answer me honestly.”

“Of course I will. Even if we aren’t friends, I still owe you until the end of my days.”

“Ok then. Why the fuck did Coppersmith pledge fealty to Eric tonight?”

“That asshole. Can you trust me enough to wait for that to reveal itself?”

“I want more, but I’ll wait for the big show.”

“I’ve heard pleasant rumblings. It does have to do with your being our front runner as delegate.”

“Thank you.”

“Is that all? You’ll accept that for now?”

“Yes, Russell. I trust you, because we are friends, because we have saved each other’s asses and because you know me well enough to be scared of me.”

He thought I was joking and it was probably better that way. “Yes ma’am, I do.”

“Ok, sweetie, I’ll talk to you later. Kisses.”

“Hugs.”

When I hung up the phone I grabbed Pam’s pretties and presented her surprises from Donna’s shop.

She oohed and ahhed over them and hugged me eagerly. I described Donna’s work until we were joined by the rest of the adults in the house for about an hour of conversation before we went off on our separate ways.

**

When Eric and I got to our room I drew a bath while Eric undressed. He enjoyed every long second it took him to unlace my corset before we lowered ourselves into the tub. I moved forward, intending to sit on his lap and snuggle like I normally do. But I was met with a hand up in a stop gesture. I considered this a bit of a ‘oh shit moment’. Eric was about to turn the tables on me.

I leaned against the other end of the tub and put my hands up on the lip, doing my best to relax.

“One question.”

He smirked at me like the devil himself. “Ok then. Just one.”

“Am I an experiment, or are we to play a long distance game?”

“If I have to choose, then you need to sit still.”

“I’ll do my best.” I couldn’t help but be excited. This was going to be fun…

For the next two hours Eric excitedly stretched his telekinetic legs, rendering me so carnally exhausted that I might not be any good for him tomorrow. It wasn’t enough for him though. Once he had lifted me from the tub and dried me, he carried me to our bed and continued the festivities without any psychic help.

We laid on the bed tangled up in a knot of our arms and legs. We’d been, believe it or not, more athletic than usual so it took me a few moments to catch my breath. He seemed to be content to nuzzle my neck and snuggle close, brushing my thigh with a feathery caress.

“Eric?”

“Yes Lover?”

“You and Alcide, and every other guy that was around all week go into overdrive when Pam and I play with each other. Why is that?”

He chuckled into my neck. “I don’t know, it’s a typical male desire. Why?”

“I was just wondering. Does it turn you on more when we do it than it does when strangers do it?”

“Yes.” I almost laughed at his lack of hesitation.

“Would you like to have Pam and me at the same time?”

He was quiet for a very long time. “Is this a trick question?”

“I don’t think so. What would the trick be? I had always assumed that you were bored with each other, but when you kissed her in the dining tent the other night, you both seemed like you liked it. I know it did something for me.” He stared at me for a long time, forgetting to lock down his face I watched a potpourri of expressions dance across his face.

“Sookie, you enjoyed watching me kiss someone else?”

I giggled at him while I carefully worded my answer. “I enjoyed nibbling on your neck while you kissed Pam. I don’t think you’d get the same reaction out of me if it were someone random. I find myself possessive over your feedings as it is, but Pam and I are the best of friends. We love each other, the three of us.”

“You wouldn’t consider it cheating or feel strangely about it afterwards?”

“Eric?” I sat up and looked down at him. “Do you really think I’m that orthodox? I’m completely aware that the two of you have had sex. If I were one of those girls, I think I might have an issue with living under the same roof with her. If she were one of those girls, she would have told Alcide to stay away from me. But we trust each other. We know that at the end of the day, this is our bed and that is their bed. The games we play are physical entertainment. If you don’t want to, that’s fine, I’m sure you’ve had your share of 3 ways in your long sexy life.”

He chuckled at me. “I’m sorry that I still have shadows of the old Sookie stuck in my head. It hasn’t been so long since I met that scrupulous virgin in the pretty red and white dress. I’ll admit that it hasn’t been very long since I’ve had two women at once, but actually having them didn’t excite me as much as the idea of doing it with you and Pam.” I smiled at him and laid back down. “Lover, are you considering a ‘3 way’ with Alcide and Pam?”

“Sort of. He knows our rules so I would just be Pam’s right hand. I’d be there to be visually and magically helpative.” Oddly enough my answer didn’t make him tense up or growl and I didn’t get punched in the gut with anger in the bond, which part of me was expecting. I also didn’t get any other indications either.

“Lover what would you say if I told you that Pam and I still had sex?”

“Do you?”

“What would you say?”

“I’d be aggravated.”

“Aggravated?”

“Yes, we’ve spent a fair amount of time talking about secrets and telling the truth over the last couple of weeks and you came out and accused me of sleeping with Alcide when I told you I’m pregnant. So, yes I’d be aggravated that you’d hide that from me. When was the last time?”

He stayed stock still for a minute. “The night you and Alcide were at the Zoo flirting through the bond, it was after I marked you.”

I sat up to look down at him again. “Why are you owning up to it now? You were sure enough that it would hurt me that you hid it from me.”

“Because… I love you and I don’t want to hurt you. Sookie, you have to understand, it’s not the same when I’m with her. When I turned her, it was because I wanted a friend. Our sexual relationship was a part of bonding. When we have sex now, it’s…” He propped himself up on his elbows. “There are things you eat because you need to and then there are things you eat because you really crave it. I have never enjoyed sex with Pam the same way I enjoy it with you. You are the craving.”

“I get that Eric. I was dead honest with you. I’m hurt and aggravated that and you are only now telling me.” I laid back and stared at the ceiling. “Does Pam know that you are telling me? Does Alcide know?”

“Pam knows that I wanted to tell you. She was encouraging it. If I hadn’t ordered her not to, she’d have told you months ago. I don’t think Pam told Alcide since we haven’t been together since they started their relationship. His understanding of Vampires is still very fresh and I’m sure she would have thought it would scare him off.”

I snuggled back into his chest, surprising him. “How often?”

“Sookie?”

“Eric, just answer me.”

He brought his hand up to his forehead. “With the exception of while I was being overseen maybe 10 times in as many years. While I had de Castro and Madden babysitting me, every miserable night because I knew I was too angry to…” He had started clenching his jaw. His voice had become angry and coarse. I understood he was frustrated with the nightmare he had to go through. Not only had his Queen and maker been murdered but the guilty party kept him like a cruel child would keep a found frog, keeping him around to poke and torment for fun. Even the orthodox Sookie would have been able to grasp that he needed some outlet and considering how angry he got about things months later, it’s better that he took it out on Pam than a random human volunteer.

“Shhh… Stop.” I hugged his chest. I was hit with a wall of anxiety.

“Sookie, I’m sorry. I’m more sorry now than I was before I told you. If I had known…”

“Calm down. I love you. Nothing is going to change that. I might want to kick your ass, but I still love you.”

“And Pam? Are you angry with her?”

“No. Stop using her though. It isn’t right. Just don’t hide it from me. It’s not a dirty secret unless you turn it into one.”

“Sookie? Are you ‘giving me permission’ to have sex with Pam?”

I snorted at the idea of ANYONE giving or refusing Eric permission to do anything and told him so. “…Look, I can feel it. I know that there’s difference between how you feel for the two of us. When you kiss me, really kiss me, I can feel everything. Lust and want and heat and pleasure. When you kissed Pam the other night, I felt it too. The difference is that when you kiss me, all that takes a back seat to… It’s like fulfillment. Like you’d needed it; to touch me, kiss me. Can you not feel the difference when I kiss Alcide or Pam?”

He was quiet for a minute or two. “Puckish. You feel like you’re being playful. Your lust even feels different.”

“Eric, have you ever heard of Polyamory?”

“Yes. Of course I have, but you’d be willing to share me, with Pam?”

“Eric, the 4 of us are already raising children together. We live and work together. We have rallied around a brother and a sister. We already share everything and eventually, Pam and I will share a maker.”

“If you really feel that way then why haven’t you ever slept with Alcide? You’ve done everything short of that and still have a great friendship.”

I thought about it for a while. “I thought about it, but Alcide and I are friends first. If I had been sleeping with him, a ‘with benefits’ situation, then that would have been another argument for us to have and more wasted time. Given your track record of posturing you would have wanted him to move to Mars and I didn’t want that. I wasted enough time…”

“…You knew that I would waste more time being upset that you didn’t wait for me. I wouldn’t have recognized that it was ‘friends with benefits’ even though that’s exactly what I was doing with Pam.”

I frowned as I slowly nodded. “And what’s more, in light of last night’s revelation, if he had been my fuck buddy, then you would have killed him or run him off already and no amount of visions or testing would convince you that the babies are yours. You would’ve resented and rejected me and them.”

He stayed quiet it for a minute. I could feel that he was slightly offended, even hurt and then it was gone. He realized that he’d have done exactly that. “Sookie, why do you put up with me?”

I smirked at him. “I am patient. I have always known that you would come around to my way of thinking.” He chuckled as it occurred to him that I was using his words against him.

“Ok then lover, when are you supposed to go be ‘helpative’?”

I grinned at him. “I’m going to run downstairs and start breakfast. If they’re still asleep when I’m ready, I might give them a wakeup call. Do you plan on going to Fangtasia with me?”

“Yes, I’m interested to see what your gift might be.”

I leaned to him and gave him a kiss. “Well then, you get a few hours sleep and I’ll wake you up around 8:30.”

3 thoughts on “Chapter 33

  1. Kristie Yamber says:

    Good girl Sookie your first verdict and I am proud of you too. you got to keep this one for resurrection. my best Kristie

  2. loveallsvmtb says:

    I love the way Eric helped out with the wedding plans and with Donna. the chapter was great. i am proud of the way Jason and Sopokie are growing into their powers

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