Chapter 8

Complications

Sookie’s POV

Wednesday, September 8th

I smiled at Eric as I merged myself back together on my way to take a quick shower.

I assumed he’d want some rest, but he followed me. “Lover, not that I am complaining at all, how do you think you’re still going so strong?”

I shrugged with a giggle. “I know you’re not complaining, but if we do that too often the neighbors might. I’m not sure how. I was expecting to be tired, get worn out. Nothing happened while we were gone. I wish I knew.”

He snuggled up behind me while I was trying to wash, getting his big arms in the way. “I wish I knew too. Then we could make sure to piss off the neighbors… Nightly.

I laughed and slapped at his arms. “Eric Northman! Set me loose!”

He chuckled and stepped back. “You were cloaking too. So the kids didn’t hear us, yes?”

I nodded as I started quickly rinsing the shampoo out of my hair.

“Are you running this morning?”

“I don’t think I need too. I might swim a few laps later though. But we have a lot to do today and for now I’m fine energy-wise.”

“Well then, I should tend to the girls and you should go make breakfast so that we can start the day.” He picked me up and moved me to the back of the tub before I was done rinsing the soap off and stepped under the water.

I gave him a dirty look with my hands on my hips, knowing I couldn’t overpower him. I reached out mentally and turned off the hot water instead. He was still giving me his cocky smile when the cold water hit him full on and he nearly knocked me over trying to get out of the way.

“You Dirty Bitch!” He started laughing with me and grabbed me, taking me under the icy water with him.

**

After our playful (and longer than planned) shower, I quickly threw on a short white sundress with red poppies on it and a pair of red crocheted espadrilles. Eric came out of his closet in a pair of khaki cargo shorts and a white wife beater showing off his amazing and tanned shoulders. Yummy.

He licked his lips and gave me a measuring look. “Lover? A white sundress with red flowers? Are you trying to tempt me?”

I giggled on my way through the door. “Why? Is it working?”

**

Alcide was already on the move so I had to hit the ground running. Coffee started, steaks and hash browns on the flattop, eggs in the pan… then the bacon went into the oven for the kids. I quickly put the yogurt, juice, berries and bananas in the blender for the kids smoothies and had Alcide’s coffee out and ready for him when he came around the corner.

“Morning Shug. You get any sleep last night?”

I smiled at him. “Not a wink.”

“You gonna be alright today?”

“I feel fine. Great actually.” I set his plate down in front of him and started my eggs so I could join him. “You and Pam were mighty quiet last night. You guys ok?”

He cleared his throat and blushed a little. “We uh… we didn’t get much sleep either. Whatever you two were up to last night…”

“Three.”

“Three?”

“Three.” I turned and wiggled my eyebrows at him and waited for ‘it’ to click.

“THREE! It worked?!?! Shit!”

I giggled. “Yeah, it worked! Now we only need about 27 more reasons that ‘duplicity’ is a good power to have.” When he first learned about the power, he said there were 100 cool things about it.

He chuckled. “Ok, I’ll bite. What are the first 73?”

“The ‘sweaty 69’ are confirmed. Establishing an alibi, shopping, housework and alone time with the babies.”

He took a minute to shake his head and chuckle. “So is the old man in traction?”

“Nope. He’s with the girls. He sent me down to make breakfast so that we could optimize our time.”

“He’s still going too?”

I nodded as I sat down next to him. “Yup. He had a couple of wake ups.”

He nearly choked laughing. “I’ll bet!”

“I’m sure it’ll catch up to me sooner or later, even if I could infinitely (pardon the pun) keep going physically, my brain will need some quiet time.”

He gave me a nod. “Have you ever met another hyperkinetic?”

I shook my head. “No. Is that what you think this is?”

“Yeah… You’ve always been hyper. You managed for over a year to entertain vampires by night and hold a day job. I think there’s something to it. Just before we all first got together we’d go out all night and I’d go home and crash. You’d tuck my ass into the couch and then clean my house before you went to work. I’d go see you later and you’d be bright eyed and ready to go do it all over again. I think the only reason you’ve needed to rest these last few months has been because of the girls. God only knows how far you could go before you get pregnant again.”

“That’s definitely something to think about. Yesterday I ate normal amounts of food and didn’t drink and didn’t get much sleep the night before. The only thing I did was run.”

We sat and ate our meal quietly while we pondered the source of my new found energy and when I was done, I grabbed the hair kit and climbed up to play with Alcide’s hair.

**

I had just gotten the tangles out when Eric came down carrying a Viking bassinet and a pair of very good humored girls. “Lover, I don’t know how to feel about them liking this contraption so much.”

I laughed. “They can probably sense that the things cost an arm and a leg. They are yours after all. Champagne tastes and all that.”

He snorted at me. “I can live with that.”

“I think they’re just adorable and when Cumberland comes tomorrow I’m having a few pictures taken of them in them and with some of the gifts that our closer friends sent.”

“Are we posing for a family portrait too?”

I smiled at him. “I thought it would be nice.”

Eric smirked. “I hope he has a wide angle lens… So, you said we were busy today. What is it that we’re doing?”

“Well, visiting the Stackhouses, you have a list of errands to give Jordie, you two are touring schools and shopping, seeing Donna & Hideo, I need to get groceries, and I was going to go out to Merlotte’s for lunch with the kids and pictures of the triplets for my friends out there. Then you and I need to entertain the vermin for a while tonight since tomorrow night will be all court shit.”

Eric stared at me for a minute to make sure I was done. “I was hoping to fit a tour of the golf course into the day.”

He seemed genuinely disappointed so I offered him a little grin. “How about I call them and set one up for tomorrow morning before Cumberland comes out?”

He nodded. “That sounds good. Since you are taking the babies to Bon Temps, will you be taking Febes with you?”

I shook my head. “Nope. Dozer is on today. He’s going with me.” The turd was happy to not have to argue with me about taking a guard with me.

“What makes you think that I have a list of things for Jordie to do?”

“Because I know you and you’re at the very least going to be sending him to the bank to set up their allowance, probably finding a driver’s ed school for Des.”

He raised an eyebrow at me. “You think you’re pretty smart, don’t you?”

I giggled. “Of course I do.”

“And you think that I don’t realize you’re going out to Bon Temps to check on Holly.”

I smiled at him. “Of course you know that. She’s 39 weeks pregnant and still waiting tables full time.”

“So we’ll take the Charger and you & Dozer will take the Durango?”

I agreed with a nod as I plated breakfast for the five kids who were all awake and on their way downstairs.

**

Daveigh and Desmond looked like they were in shock when I handed them their plates; steak (medium rare), over easy eggs and nearly burned hash browns (because he liked them ‘extra crispy’) for Des and Daveigh got her steak done well with scrambled eggs and toast because she doesn’t like potatoes.  They weren’t used to more than cereal for breakfast, let alone two days in a row. Diantha wasn’t surprised that I remembered that she like her steak rare, her eggs over easy with tobasco and her hash with extra pepper. But she was grateful enough to give me a kiss on the cheek.

Des smiled when he took his plate. “Thanks, but Dave and I usually fend for ourselves.”

“Yeah, well… I’ll break you of that bad habit. I usually cook twice a day and we eat as a family. Even the vampires congregate when they aren’t working. When I’m gone, Angela, Tobin and Eric do the cooking.”

“The vampires cook?”

I nodded. “Pam won’t. She can’t stomach most of the smells, but Eric started when Hunter and Manen joined us and Angela has only been a vampire for a year.”

“What’s Tobin?”

“He’s a Were. He learned because he has little sisters Hunter and Manen’s age. They came by yesterday while we were shopping. You’ll meet them this weekend though. They’re sleeping over Saturday night.”

Diantha bounced back in her seat with a huge smile on her face. “Can we take over the den?!”

Eric turned to her and gave her a very serious look. “As long as you take responsibility for the mess. The maids at the Abbey are still finding popcorn and feathers from the last insurrection you led.”

She cringed and bit her lip. “I promise.”

He gave her a wink as he turned back around. “Lover, since it’s officially a pajama party I suppose you could ask your ‘devil waitress’ if she’d like to bring her spawn over.”

I giggled, almost laughed. “But what if someone finds out that the king is babysitting for a subject?”

He growled at me.

**

Since the day was going to be pretty full again, we needed to do our visiting early, so I decided to ‘call’ Jason and warn him.

“Hey Jas.”

“Yeah Sook? Everything ok?”

“Yeah. I just didn’t want to call and wake anyone up.”

“Oh. OK. We’re up. Haven’t been for long though. You heading over soon?”

“How’s an hour?”

“Perfect. See you then.”

I smiled at my guys who’d noticed that I kind of ‘checked out’ for a minute. “Jason is expecting us in about an hour.”

Eric probed. “How clear was it?”

“Crystal.”

Alcide looked a little surprised, but not too much. I’d managed 15 miles before. “It’s 20 miles away.”

“I know.”

“Call Sam.”

I started to laugh. A week ago using my powers scared the shit out of my guys. Today, they’re daring me to ‘call’ 50 miles away. “What do I say?”

He chuckled. “What difference does it make?”

I stuck my tongue out at him. “Hey Sam?”

“Sookie? You in Bon Temps?”

“No. I’m coming out for lunch. I wanted to check on Holly.”

“She’s doing great, but we’ll love to see ya, Chere.”

“I’m bringing the babies.”

“That makes it even better. Manen gonna kick me again?”

“Probably. I’ll see ya later.”

“Lookin’ forward to it, Chere.”

Alcide and Eric both growled when Sam called me ‘Chere’ so I blew a raspberry at them. “He’s been calling me that since way before I met either of you jerks. Be nice.”

“Lover, if he called you ‘chere’ like Tray and Doug call you ‘Sunshine’ we’d have no problem with it. It’s the way he says it.”

I raised an eyebrow at him. “You’re a brat.”

He smirked. “So.”

“So how does he say it then?”

Alcide narrowed his eyes at me. “Like he’s IN you and you fucking know it!”

Eric busted out laughing and I threw potholders at both of them. “You two are horrible! You told me to call him!”

Eric snorted. “We didn’t tell you that we’d be nice about his hard on for you.”

Poor Sam. Now that Bill was out of the picture and I was forced to have a civil relationship with Quinn because of work and his mother, Sam was getting a double dose of posturing from my men. I narrowed my eyes at them and decided to let it go.

**

I took the kids their drinks (red bulls and smoothies) and then went up to the girls’ room to pack the diaper bag. Excuse me, MY diaper bag. Each of the four of us got our own since we couldn’t agree. Pam’s is a designer bag (of course) in black and silver and cost over $400. Speaking of spoiled brats, right? Eric and Alcide’s both look like messenger bags because God forbid they get seen carrying something that resembles a purse. Mine is cute. It was a bright floral design with lots of turquoise and orange. I packed four rompers, a handful of diapers, a travel pack of wipes and several bottles and nipples and while I did, I sent to Dozer what the plans for the day are so that he could get ready to go.

**

When I headed back downstairs Daveigh was standing at the sink rinsing dishes.

I smiled at her. “What are you doing, Chica?”

“I’m just helping out. Everyone just left their stuff for you to do.”

“That’s sweet, but they left it because I expect them to. This is ‘mom work’, not kid work. Now scoot.”

She looked bothered as she walked around to sit on the barstool across from the sink. “There’s so many people here, why don’t you have a maid?”

“Ever hear the saying ‘idle hands are the devil’s playground’?”

She nodded.

“Well, not only does taking care of my family make me happy, but it keeps me out of trouble.”

“What do you mean?”

“When I’m bored, I think too much.”

She giggled. “I know all about that.”

“Between you and me, Eric has been haranguing me about getting a maid since we moved in together. I’m about to cave.”

From the hall to the garage… “Oh really?”

Daveigh’s eyes got wide and I whipped around. That bastard snuck up on me and was wearing a shit eating grin. “You giant asshole! Stop sneaking up on me!”

Eric leaned against the door jamb, laughing his ass off. “When were you planning on telling me? Just yesterday you refused again.”

“I’m not talking to you!” Sneaky jerk.

“Oh, yes, you are!” He came over to me and scooped me up and I folded my arms across my chest and pouted. “What made you decide to ‘cave’?”

“You!”

“You’re going to need to be more specific.”

I gave him the evilest look I could while trying not to laugh. “I like doing the work, but it IS time that I don’t get to spend with the family. I won’t budge on cooking though. I’ll feed my own family.”

He gave me a long kiss. “We wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“Asshole.”

He laughed again. “Thank you, lover.”

“She needs to be a ghost. I don’t want her underfoot constantly. She can come at about 9 or 10 and leave when she’s done. That’s when I’m usually out of the house on errands. She’ll answer to Tobin. And the kids still need to keep their rooms tidy.”

He nodded in agreement. “What breed do you prefer?”

“Not human. I don’t want to replace the time I spend cleaning with time glamouring nervous humans to forget half of what they’d see.”

“My thoughts exactly.”

“Will you put me down now? Asshole.”

Daveigh was still laughing as Eric set me down wearing his bratty grin.

“So Lover, Jordie has one more thing to do. Is there anything else?”

“Well, since you are joining me on the project, you could call Danielle about web design.”

He tilted his head to the side slightly confused. “We haven’t even broken ground yet on the new construction.”

“Yes, but Danielle should secure the domain and then design a few advertising banners to get the buzz started. Just something that says ‘The Round Table: Shreveport’ that’ll go to the ‘Under Construction’ website. Humans wouldn’t get it, but Supes will start the gossip. The best advertizing is word of mouth. By the end of next week everything will be moving along and we can start selling memberships as soon as we sit down and work through a contract.”

He was impressed. “Will the resort be themed?”

I knew he wanted to know if it was going to be a campy representation of Arthurian legend. I shook my head and took his hand to lead him to the office. I handed him my sketch book and he sat at the desk leafing through it while I watched.

“Everything is very modern. ‘Chic’ is the word, I suppose. When you said that the cabins would be ‘rustic’ this isn’t what I pictured. I envisioned dark wood and stuffed heads on the walls.”

“We could if you wanted.”

“No. I like this much better.”

“The only thing ‘themey’ about it is that all the tables will be round. The dining tables, end tables, coffee tables, etc. And I want to use a ‘Celtic four’ as the emblem; embroidered into robes and linens, stained glass, inlaid floors and so on.”

“That’s subtle. Like the ‘air’ suite. I love it. Do you think that Jared and Dawn will have a hard time finding everything?”

I shook my head. “Not given that they have several months. I think that hardest part will be the dining tables for the restaurants. The quantity would be the major issue since they need to match, but I was thinking it would be fun to do the cabins and condos uniquely like we did the guest houses.”

He nodded as he started leafing through the drawings again. “When did you do these?”

“Yesterday while we were out. The girls slept for a while.”

He chuckled. “So did Alcide and Pam know what you were up to?”

I shook my head. “Are you kidding? They’re just as protective of me as you are! I didn’t tell anyone. It wasn’t until a couple days ago that I realized we could pull it off anyway. So no one knows. Even Mr. C was kept in the dark about why I wanted the property.”

He smirked at me. “Because I could have read their minds.”

I raised an eyebrow at him. “That was a thought, but mostly it was because this is big enough that I didn’t want to raise any expectations if it wasn’t going to pan out. The guy with the boats is selling out to keep from having to file bankruptcy. His credit depends on it. Vilhelm and Dante might have started closing their place. I didn’t want anyone counting chickens that might not hatch.”

He chuckled. “So Pam has no idea that she’ll have access to couture at cost?”

I giggled. “No, and you need to be the one that tells her. She shakes me when she gets excited.”

When he was done laughing he got up and came over, wrapping his arms around me. “Did I tell you how sorry I am?”

“Yes.” I stretched up to give him a kiss.

He smiled and I could feel how relieved he was that I wasn’t still angry. “Did you ‘hit send’ yet?”

“No. I wanted you to have some time to make sure you weren’t agreeing to it just to end the argument. We can do that when we get home.”

He smiled and gave me another kiss… Then he slapped my butt! “Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s go!”

We were driving through our gate within 20 minutes. There really wasn’t any stopping an excited vampire, especially when it was Eric. He had walked through the house calling for everyone to ‘light a fire’ under their butts and gave Jordie his to-do list and sent Tobin out to get Daveigh’s car since I didn’t have anything for him to do.

**

Jason was walking out the front door to greet us as we pulled into the driveway and was tackled for a hug from Diantha before he could get to either car. The hug became a dog pile when Hunter and Manen bounced out of the car to greet him. I laughed when Dozer looked over to me, begging with his eyes to join in so I gave him a nod while I took the twins out of their seats and put them in their ‘long ship’. By the time I had freed them, Alcide and Eric had included themselves in the chaos leaving me, Daveigh and Desmond standing in the driveway laughing at them all.

When peace broke out, Jason laughed his way over to me, brushing grass and dirt from his jeans and gave me a big hug.

“You look great. You getting any sleep?”

Since Jason was still bashful about my sex life, I decided to not mention that I’d been up all night (especially why). “We’re doing fine. The girls slept for nearly 8 hours last night.”

“Shhh. Don’t tell Janice. Ours sleep in 3 hour stretches, but Dell is waking up in between.”

I poked my lip out at him. “So you’re up every hour and a half.”

He nodded so I wrapped my arms around him again and gave him a wake up.

“Thanks Sook, but you could’ve waited until we got inside.”

I shrugged. “I cloaked it… Jason, this is Daveigh and Desmond Androcles. Dave, Des, this is my brother Jason Stackhouse.”

Jason immediately grabbed them for hugs and welcomed them to the family, putting his arms over their shoulders and leading them into the house to meet everyone else.

**

Janice was in a very good mood and happy to see us in spite of the bags under her eyes so she got a wake up that she thanked me for with a kiss. We had taken the girls and laid them in the crib with the triplets to take a few pictures.

Jason actually seemed bummed when he heard that I was going to Merlotte’s to show off the girls, so Janice promised him that they’d go out for lunch next week so that he could do his own showing off.

Jason was happy to hear that the Hotshot problem had been taken care of and I had extra fun getting a rise out of Alcide when I made sure to mention that Jas needed to come out to the house to meet Damon finally. We decided that a family dinner on Sunday would be fun. I kept it to myself that having everyone in one place might intimidate Joe as an added bonus, but Eric had caught it and raised an eyebrow like he was proud of me for having ulterior motives.

The trip was relatively uneventful. We visited and talked for a few of hours. I hadn’t been exaggerating when I’d said that we’d become almost inseparable. We had gotten so used to seeing each other on a daily basis, going a day without seeing them, just felt weird. Pam had already called them and said that she’d be over as soon as soon as she left work.

**

If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear that Eric had been the one to teach Dozer how to drive. I barely got through the call to the Country Club to make arrangements for a tour. I was white knuckled for half the way to Bon Temps and was tempted to glamour him into slowing down when he finally caught onto my mood and relaxed his foot from the pedal.

“Doze, you ok? You seem a bit tense.”

“Naw. I’m fine. Don’t be mad at him, but Claude told me about what’s going on. The Preston thing. How are you doing with the whole Faerie mess?”

I decided to cover the conversation from the kids. “I’m going to have to kill Niall.”

His eyebrows shot up. “Wow!”

I snorted. “Yeah, well, I can’t have him threatening my family.”

“The evil you know is better than the evil you don’t. What if the Fae that takes over is worse than Niall?”

“I can handle him too, but I don’t think that the next one would try the same thing. I don’t have any control over the Fae realm, but I can sure as hell do everything here to make sure he doesn’t do anything. I’ve already filed with the Fae court for a restriction. If Niall sends anyone after me, I have the right to kill them and him.”

“You’d kill your own grandfather?”

“I only met him a year ago and he immediately started hounding me to breed. It’s not like we bonded. He’s off kilter. He’s driven Claudine mad. Claude doesn’t share much with me, but ‘Gramps’ isn’t exactly one of his favorite people. And the only way for him to have an imposter pose as Alcide or Eric would be to kidnap or kill one. So fuck him.”

“He could just have you raped.”

“Yes. Yes, he could… if I don’t take him out, Eric will go to war with the Fae to keep me safe.”

“You should talk to him. Preston told me that Niall didn’t know that you were married or that the babies weren’t his.”

“Yeah. You should’ve seen the look on Niall’s face when the nurse brought the girls in while he was there. He was a rainbow of pissed that they’re Were.”

He chuckled. “What I’m getting at… Eric hadn’t been crowned yet when the realm was closed off. It’s possible that he doesn’t know that Eric isn’t just a sheriff anymore. If someone tells him that Eric is the Emperor of America and has the influence to sick every fang on him, he might back his shit down and play nice.”

“You make a good point… Has Claude mentioned knowing a way to contact him?”

“No. I’ll ask him though.”

I smiled at him. “How do you feel about Preston?”

“I want to fucking kill the asshole. All he does is sit around Claude’s place and whine about how bad he fucked up. Boo Hoo, Boo Hoo… Niall lied… He’s terrified Eric has put a hit out on him and thinks that he needs to hide.”

I laughed. “I’ll talk to Eric to make sure he hasn’t, but you know him. He’ll feel better knowing that Preston is scared.”

Dozer snorted. “That’s why we haven’t corrected him.”

“Claude’s playing along?”

He nodded. “He likes you, ya know?”

My head shot back in surprise. “He’s always been a jerk to me.”

“He says you were all he heard about for years and then when he met you, there wasn’t much to you. He likes you now that you ‘found your balls’ as he put it.”

I started laughing. “Does he know the saga?”

He shook his head. “Just that Claudine was sent to watch over you a few years ago. He had walked away from things by then.”

“I was only a telepath. Fintan bound everything else but my witch powers…”

“Because he didn’t know?”

“I guess. Since he’s dead, we’ll never know… I worked for Sam for years before I knew about Weres and Shifters, so technically, Bill was the first Supe I ever met. As soon as I met Bill, Sam ‘came out’ to me, then I was blindfolded when I made my first contact with a Were, so Alcide was the first one of you I met face to face… It was one drama right after the next and every time either I was hurt or someone I knew died, sometimes both. It was a lot to deal with all at once and unfortunately, temperance wasn’t something I came by until I was unbound.”

“Sam told me once that you thought you were a freak.”

I nodded. “I was. ‘Crazy Sookie Stackhouse’ was the only telepath. Even now, I’ve only met 4 others. I’m related to one, created one and one’s telepathy was limited to her vampire children. It’s not like we run in packs or get born to a maker.”

“The other one was the Massive-two-shits pervert, right?”

I giggled and nodded. “Barry hated it too.”

“He’s not as good as you though. He still gets into a lot of trouble. He can’t hear anything but humans… He seems pretty useless.”

“Take it easy on him. He is human and when I met him, we were even power-wise.”

“Eh… He didn’t impress anyone in Shreveport. Now that we know what you and Eric can do, he’s a punk. And he doesn’t behave himself.”

I giggled at him. “You can’t fault him for that. Plenty of people have dirty minds.”

“Plenty of people don’t project the fantasy of going down on you to your kids.” He gave me a quick scowl.

I started laughing. “No matter what I do, I can’t get away from posturing men! Eric and Alcide were picking on Sam earlier. Stop it! You can’t help what you think.”

“You’re the one that surrounds herself with alphas. Your fault.”

I nodded in agreement and Hunter noticed as soon as I lifted the veil from our conversation. I spent the last bit of the ride being grumped at from the back seat because he was upset that I had hidden the conversation from him and he wouldn’t (not couldn’t)understand why some conversations weren’t for kids. He announced that he was a member of the round table too and that he should know what’s going on and Manen stayed quiet while nodding in agreement. Dozer and I quietly laughed and shook our heads at how precocious they were being.

**

All I can say is that it’s a good damn thing that Dozer knows most of my friends. The rush of greetings when we walked into Merlotte’s could’ve been ugly with a guard who wasn’t a family member. Tray, Arlene, Sam, Maxine and even Bud Dearborn came over to say hello before we were out of the entryway. Dozer had carried Manen and Hunter in on one arm since neither one were talking to me at the moment, so I had carried in the long boat.

Arlene bullied her way by Sam and gave me a half hearted hug before taking the girls and setting the bassinet on an empty table to dote on them. “Sookie you need to fire that nanny of yours so your friends can babysit once and a while! Send her on a vacation or SOMEthing!”

I laughed at her as Sam hugged me. “I’ll see what I can do, Arlene. In the meantime, the kids are having a sleep over Saturday night. If you let Lisa and Coby come along, you’ll have the excuse to see them when you drop them off.”

She smiled over to me with a nod. “I’m not above using that excuse.”

I smiled back at her. She really had come a long way. For a while I was afraid she’d end up on the list of people who died trying to hurt me or someone I loved. The leaps and bounds she’d made even impressed Eric, even if he wouldn’t admit it out loud. The closest he’d gotten was saying that he didn’t mind her kids being around because our kids like them.

Maxine gave me a quick hug and told me how good I looked, patting my flat stomach before shuffling over to pick up Erika since Arlene had scooped up Dagny. Bud gave my shoulder a pat and agreed as he followed her over. And almost immediately, Tray yanked me up into a bear hug.

“I haven’t seen you in more than a month Tray Dawson! What have you been doing with yourself?”

“Joss has been monopolizing my off time with wedding plans. We have been to every hotel, park, church… You name it. She can’t find somewhere she likes to do the wedding or the reception. How’s Tobin? I haven’t seen him because you’ve been keeping him busy.”

I laughed. “Not me! Talk to Febes. Cuz has his leash on tight since those girls in Hawaii climbed his tree.”

He laughed. “That’s what he gets for going out with the guys and getting back to her smelling like dancers.”

“It doesn’t help that he protected the guys who paid for the dances.” I shot Dozer a dirty look over my shoulder and he hung his head shamefully. Jordie, Jason, Azo, Doug and him had all been in on it.

Tray let out a chuckle and went over to pet Dagny’s head. “I need to get back to the shop. When Sam said you were on the way out here I thought I’d stick around to meet the girls and say hi.”

He went over and pet Erika, just as he had stroked Dagny’s head and as soon as his hand touched her, she started to glow.

I only had a second to react, but I quickly made sure no one else would notice. And I stood just as frozen as Tray and Maxine until Erika’s glow abated.

**

“Sookie, what the hell was that?”

My mind was still flipping through the list of possibilities; all of the different powers that she could have been using. “Tray, are you hurt? Sick?”

He shook his head. “No. I’m fine. I mean except…” He fisted his hand and then spread out his fingers, then again, and shock took over his face. “Sookie, did she… The hood of a car fell on my hand yesterday… It’s fine now… She healed my hand!” Thank God I was still forcing ignorance into the room.

I managed to force a smile. “Yeah, I guess she did.”

He stood and stared at me for a minute and I stayed out of his head in spite of really wanting to know what he was thinking. “Sookie… You can’t have them out.”

I huffed out a deep breath, petrified that he was right.

“If they’re going to glow like you do…”

I was still thinking, almost pouting about having to keep them locked away like secrets until they could control their powers when Dozer piped up. “Sookie only glows when she’s using a power she has to touch someone for.”

THANK GOD! I started to feel better the second he said it. I looked back at him with a big smile. “I guess we can just not let folks touch them in public. Never strangers. Then we’d be alright.”

He nodded and gave my shoulder a squeeze then took the kids over to sit down at the table next to the ‘baby table’. “Just to be sure, Alcide shouldn’t be out with them alone since he can’t glamour.” He nodded in Maxine’s direction.

**

I went over and quickly glamoured Maxine into forgetting the indecent and saw Tray on his way. Arlene whimpered when one of her tables needed her so she handed Dagny to Sam and he sat down at our table. I was still a little awed by what Erika had done so I was grateful when Maxine started chit chat.

“Where’s that pretty vamp of yours? Who’s this one?”

“Maxine, this is one of our guards, Dozer. He’s here to make sure I don’t cause any trouble. Eric is with Alcide touring private schools.”

Sam looked at Manen and Hunter. “You guys are going to start school? That sounds fun.” In spite of how nasty Manen was with him, he was still trying. Hunter had warmed up to him though in spite of his sister’s attitude. He could hear that Sam was a good guy and told me as much months ago.

Manen snarled at him. “No! Daveigh and Des are.” She said it like her going to school was the dumbest idea ever, insulted that he suggest she do something so mundane. I couldn’t sign her up for girl scouts fast enough! Brat.

Sam just looked at me confused so I started the explanation as best I could with Maxine sitting with us. “Diantha called the other day. A friend of hers is an orphan and couldn’t stay at her foster home so we took in her and her brother. They’re great kids that just had a rough road.”

Sam eyed me carefully. “A friend of Diantha’s?”

I nodded confirming that he had understood right. They are in fact Semi-Daemons.

He nodded at my nod. “How old are they?”

“Daveigh is almost 17 and Desmond is almost 16.”

Maxine snorted that Desmond was a horrible name because it sounded ‘demonic’ and the whole table laughed so she thought she was hilarious.

Sam still had a grin on when we got back to talking. “So why isn’t Angela going to school them?”

“They’re used to school and we want them to feel normal so the guys are taking them around so that they can weigh their options. We’re leaving it up to them.”

“I take it that public school is out of the question for the King’s kids?”

I nodded. “Yeah. Security concerns wouldn’t be entertained by a normal school.”

Arlene stopped by to tell Sam that Holly just called to say she’d be a few minutes late and that she was covering for her. Holly ‘didn’t sound so good’. Then she wandered off mumbling about the ‘poor thing’.

As soon as she was gone, Maxine started talking again while she switched babies with Sam. “It’s nice to see you two getting along again. That husband of yours must’ve made an impression on her.”

I smiled at her, knowing full well that it wasn’t Eric who had changed her perspective. “What do you mean?”

“Well last week the news was talking about these little angels and some fool said that someone should stake the whole lot of you. She broke her tray over his head and told him that the King was an honorable man and that he would go to H-E-double-L for thinking such a horrible thing, to kill a baby! Then she dragged him out kicking and screaming.”

I looked up at Sam and he flashed me a grin and nodded as confirmation.

There was NO way she was strong enough to hustle an adult male without vampire blood. I couldn’t help myself. “ARLENE! Are you BONDED to Truman?”

Her eyes met mine from across the restaurant and she stopped dead in her tracks. Her chin puckered, frustrated that I figured it out and went back to work without ‘saying’ anything.

I chuckled and turned my attention back to Maxine. “Well, Eric is great guy, but I’m biased. How excited are you about the new grandbaby?” Changing the subject.

She bounced. “Did you hear they’re naming the baby after me? I’m so excited I could cry!”

“They finally settled on a name?”

She nodded. “Colleen Maxine Fortenberry…” She purred the name proudly. “Colleen was Holly’s mama’s name. I suggested Maxine be first because Maxie or Max is much better to go by than Collie.” She was huffing.

Manen shot a dirty look at Sam. “Because Collie is stupid to go by.”

Sam fired back without thinking. “There’s nothing wrong with Collies!” He was indignant and Dozer started laughing quietly.

Hunter looked at his sister in disgust. “He’s right, Manen! Stop being a snob! Not everybody needs to show off!” Poor Maxine was lost.

I was over it. “Manen, you’re brother’s right. You’re being a snob and you’re grounded for that nastiness.” I didn’t need to say out loud that she was grounded from shifting. She knew.

She gasped. “I’m grounded?!”

“Yes. And if you want to argue about it, you’ll get more days. Far has already warned you about being mean about familiars. And you need to realize that when push comes to shove, a Collie can be far more useful than… oh, say a bird. Knock it off.”

“At least a bird can fly. What can a Collie do?”

“Some Collies can do more than a wolf, but maybe we should ask DADDY and FAR!” I clenched my jaw and waited for another round.

She snarled at me, flashing her eyes so Dozer whopped her on the back of the head to get her attention then pointed his finger at her. “Little girl, now you don’t have to worry if she’s telling your Dad’s. If she doesn’t, I’m gonna.”

“Daddy and Far don’t care! They don’t like Merlotte anyway!” Her chin was trembling and she was fighting off a crying fit. Angry tears.

Dozer leaned in to touch her nose with his, flashing his eyes. “Your Dads don’t dislike him. Your Dads posture with him. He’s looked out for your Momma a bunch and your Dads are grateful for that. You should be too. Now shut your yap and eat your lunch.” Doze gave me a wink when she picked up a chicken tender to gnaw at it.

Sam was slack jawed not knowing how to come back from all that. He’d been surprised to hear that Alcide and Eric recognized that he’d helped me when he could.

Maxine was shaking her head back and forth and humming ruefully. “Miss Manen, mmm, you are a lucky little girl to have the family you do. If I’d sassed an adult like that, I’d have gotten the strap. She would too, right Sookie?”

I grinned at Maxine. “Yes ma’am. I got a whoopin once. Gran gave it.”

Maxine was surprised that Adele Stackhouse ever laid a hand on me. “What did you do to get it?”

I glared at Manen. “I sassed a grown up.” That was an oversimplification of the truth since I had overheard the thoughts of a man whose wife was nasty to me. So I told her that her mean ways were why he was cheating on her with her prettier and nicer sister in front of most of the congregation. Looking back, I deserved every whack with the switch that Gran made me trim from the tree myself. As it turned out though, it humbled Manen enough that she said she was sorry to Sam. It didn’t take a telepath to know that she didn’t mean it, but at least she said it.

**

By the time Holly came in, I was done with my sandwich and just picking at my fries while Dozer and I chatted with Sam. Maxine had abandoned our table to go gossip and announced Holly’s arrival like we were blind.

Holly looked horrible. I turned my head to give Sam the hairy eyeball for saying she was ‘great’ earlier, but he looked just as surprised as I was. Holly was flushed, her eyes were bloodshot and she was shaky. She looked sick, like she had the flu.

“Holly? Are you ok?” We were only about 10 feet away, but she didn’t look at me right away. It was like she was disoriented. “Holly?” She scanned through the dining room, looking for who called her, I suppose. I quickly set Dagny in the bassinet and asked Sam to follow me.

When I touched her arm to lead her back to Sam’s office, she was burning up with fever. She swayed a couple times as Sam and I led her back. Arlene passed us on the way, offering to help. I smiled at her and mentioned that Dozer might need her help with the kids more. She was addressing the dining room with her apology as Sam and I guided Holly to the back, telling everyone to feel free to yell if they needed her.

**

It seemed like forever after we put her on the couch in Sam’s office before her eyes made it up to mine.

Sam looked at me with worry carved all over his friendly face. “Sook, I swear she was fine when she left work yesterday.”

I all but ignored him, I knew that from his expression when he saw the condition she was in. “Holly, are you contracting?”

She looked like the question confused her and she looked down at her belly and put her hand on it. “Maybe a little.”

I knelt at her feet and put one hand on her belly and waited. “Sam, hand me your phone please.”

There must be something in male DNA that makes them all helpless around an ill woman. I swear. He was baffled and helpless and I had to ask for the phone a second time.

I had already felt a contraction by the time I was done dialing and it really bothered me that Holly didn’t seem to notice it.

**

“Ludwig”

“Hey, Dr. Ludwig. Sookie Northman… A friend of mine is 39 weeks along and she is burning up with fever and a pretty out of it.”

“What is she?”

“Witch.”

“A human? Why are you calling me about a human?”

“Because you went to med school and I was hoping you could tell me where to start looking so I can heal her.”

He breathed into the phone. “With as hot as it is, she probably got dehydrated. My guess is Heat Stroke or Urinary Tract Infection. Is she contracting?”

“Yes ma’am, but she’s lethargic enough to not notice.”

“Yeah. Do what you can until you can get an ambulance out there. It could take her blood pressure a while to get back to norm. You know what that can do.”

“I do. Thank you ma’am.”

“Good luck.” She hung up and I handed the phone to Sam and asked him to call Hoyt and go get a pitcher of ice water and a straw.

He froze, panic stricken. He’d heard Dr. Ludwig.

I used the calmest voice I could muster. “Sam Merlotte, get on the phone and call Hoyt now. He needs to know that this is happening and we need to know how long it’ll take him to get here.”

He snapped out of it and went over to his bulletin board to look for the number so I cooled my hands and started rubbing them over Holly’s arms and chest, her belly and legs. Sam watched from his perch against his desk while I tried in vain to get her body temp to come down. I wasn’t sure if I knew how to do it more aggressively without putting her on the fast track from hypERthermia to hypOthermia. I was starting to understand why my guys were always so scared about my safety. Humans are REALLY fragile.

I decided to change tactics and climbed up to the couch, wedging myself behind her and wrapping my arms around. I closed my eyes, concentrating on healing her. It was like hugging a furnace and the contact made me feel like I was in a sauna. I lost track of the conversation Sam was having and stopped healing when I could feel a contraction coming on. I was unsure of what it might do. Then I started healing again. I’m not sure if it was the ‘stop and go’ nature of the healing or if I just couldn’t fix what was going on with her, but nothing seemed to help.

“Sam? What did Hoyt say?”

He was still a little stunned and tried shaking it off while he blinked away the spots in his eyes from watching me glow. “Uh, he said when they got home last night the house was like an oven. The window unit burnt up. So they opened the windows and planned on him going out to Home Depot to get a new one tonight when he got off. He said she didn’t sleep well last night so he took Cody to the sitter this morning and let her sleep so she wouldn’t have to worry about getting him to school. He’s on his way now.”

“Ok. I still need that pitcher of ice water.”

He lunged for the door apologizing that he forgot and was back quickly. He stooped down in front of her and held it up, but she just stared at it blankly. “Holly, sweetie, you’re too hot. You need to cool off. Colleen needs you to cool down.” I pressed myself against her cooling myself down and running my icy arms over her bump. “Holly Cleary, come on. You need to drink that water. Holly. Holly?… Sam is she looking around? Anything?”

“No Sookie. She’s zoned out.”

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why nothing was working unless it was that I was tired and didn’t feel it. I held my hand out to Sam. “How cold am I?”

He took my hand and his eyes widened. “Like ice. How do you do that?”

“It’s a Dae power.” I shifted to sit next to Holly on my knees and tried to glamour her. “Holly. You need to drink this. Slow and constant.” I wasn’t getting through to her. Shit.

I reached down and grabbed the phone from Sam’s belt and called 9-1-1. All there was left to do was watch her until the medics got there.

I kept my hand cold and continued to pass it back and forth over the baby, keeping track of her contractions. “Come on Holly. Snap out of it, girl! I’ve delivered enough babies this week.” From what I could tell, her contractions were close but irregular.

Sam looked at me funny so I ended up explaining our adventure of the night Janice went into labor. Holly seemed like she was trying to join the conversation with a little grin but went right back to being catatonic.

Sam was shaking his head in disbelief through most of the retelling and smiled up at me. “Nothing’s ever going to calm down for you, huh?” We chuckled, shaking our heads and then something occurred to him. “Sookie? How do you think she got here? She drove like this?”

I closed my eyes and lofted to the parking lot… then to my old house. Holly’s house. “Sam, she was out of sorts enough to walk. Her car is still in her driveway.”

The temperature didn’t fall below 85˚ last night so that’s as cool as she could have been in bed and it was 94˚ when we drove by the bank in town and she walked 4 miles in that heat. No wonder her body was scorching. We stared at each other for a second before there was a very light knock on the door and Sam got up to answer it. “Chere?”

I turned around and looked and Hunter was standing there. “Momma, I’m sorry. I was worried. I was being nosey and I was watching…” He held out a bottle of rum (151 to be exact) and a glass. “Maybe this will help?”

I smiled at him and gave Sam a nod so he started pouring with a questioning look on his face. Hunter put his hands on Holly’s stomach while I downed 3 rocks glasses full of the strongest liquor in the bar.

“She’s ready, huh?”

I crinkled my nose at the burn in my throat. “Yes sir, but with her fever it would be dangerous.”

He gave me a nod far more serious than any 5 year old should be capable of. “If you start to heal her infection, I can watch the baby.”

I smiled at him and decided that I would ask him later how he knew it was an infection. When I closed my eyes and started healing her, somehow I felt better having backup even if it was a 5 year old. I started to back down slightly when I felt another contraction start, but Hunter whispered to keep going but ‘go slow’. I could feel the confidence radiating from him, so I did.

While we worked to help Holly, there was another knock on the door. Hunter whispered to Sam that Hoyt would need to stay calm before I heard the door open.

A couple minutes went by before Hunter patted my hand. “Momma, she’s snapping out of it.”

When I opened my eyes, Hoyt and Sam were standing shoulder to shoulder over us and my smart little man grabbed the pitcher of water and handed it to me. I thanked him with a smile and held it up for Holly.

“Sookie?” She was still really dazed, but she was coherent.

“Hey sweetie. How are you feeling?”

“Uh… not so good. I’m dizzy…”

I brought the pitcher closer to her mouth and held the straw to her, urging her to drink and she reflexively started sipping slowly. “Near as we can tell, you got dehydrated from a UTI and then ended up with heat stroke. I’m gonna cool my hands to try bringing your body temp down. Brace yourself, K?” Hoyt sat down and held the pitcher for her while I chilled my hands and put them to her neck and shoulders.

“The baby?” and she went back to sipping.

Hunter smiled at her. “He’s sore but he’s ok. The fever could’ve cooked him.”

Sam cleared his throat and smiled into the back of Hunter’s head. “Sookie tried to help out, but it wasn’t until the little guy came back that anything helped.”

Hoyt was such a simple guy… “He?”

Hunter nodded without taking his eyes off Holly’s belly.

“But that witch said…”

Hunter giggled. “Your witch did the spell wrong.”

I’d been listening while poor Holly tensed through a contraction. “Oh no!”

“It’s ok sweetie. They’re irregular; 5-10 minutes apart and they haven’t evened out yet. Some are strong, some are weak. Hoyt’s here now and Cody will get tended to. The ambulance is on the way.”

She gave a weak nod and Hoyt seemed a little numb, not knowing how dangerous her situation had been was probably better for him.

**

The second that Dozer put the truck in gear, I was on the phone. I called Tobin first. I had him launch his guys out to Sears to get six 12,000 BTU window units and take them out to my old house to install. One for each room. I had him tell them that they were to set them all on 68 degrees and stay until they had all shut off to make sure the house could handle the power requirements. They were to call the second the first breaker popped so that I could arrange an electrician to get out there before they came home from the hospital. I called Cody’s sitter and explained what was going on and told her that Arlene would be picking him up when her relief got to Merlotte’s. I was just getting off the phone with the sitter when Jason called me.

“Hey Jas.”

“Did you do something?”

“Uh… What do you mean?”

“The babies… They went to sleep when y’all left and they ALL slept for more than 2 hours. They woke up and ate and got a bath and now they’re all back out.”

I sighed a long breath and Dozer started laughing. “Jas, I think maybe one of our girls did it.”

“How the hell?”

“I don’t know. We just left Merlotte’s and Tray was there. He touched Erika and she started glowing. His hand was hurt and she healed it.”

“In front of God and everybody?”

“Yup.”

“Shit. What’re y’all gonna do?”

“Dunno yet. I haven’t had the chance to tell the rest of the family. The trip was crazy.”

“What happened?”

Deep breath. “Erika healed tray, Manen was nasty enough to Sam that I grounded her, Holly came into work looking like death warmed over and I spent most of the visit in Sam’s office trying to get her fever down so that it didn’t cook the baby and I still need to have a sit down with the prince about how he was such a big help, but if it hadn’t been for Hunter, she probably wouldn’t be ok right now. Her and Hoyt are on the way to the hospital now.”

He was quiet for a minute. “Sookie?”

“Yeah brother?”

“You knew when you went out there, didn’t you?”

“Sort of. It was one of those tickles. Something told me to check on her during breakfast. I seriously thought that she was just going to be going into labor soon and figured I’d give her a wake up since last time I talked to her she said she hasn’t been sleeping well all month.”

He grunted. “Well, I’m gonna let you go. You have enough going on. I don’t care what they did, so give the girls a kiss from us. Janice cried when she realized they were all on the same schedule. Love y’all.”

“Love y’all too Jas.”

**

I closed my eyes and leaned back against the seat to try to think… about everything… the day had been crazy and wasn’t even close to being over yet. But damn if it didn’t seem like we were pulling into Costco before I had managed to prioritize my list of worries. I needed a vacation from my life if it was going to keep hitting me like this.

Manen walked through both stores with her arms folded across her chest. I’d have to call it the most aggressive act of ‘silent treatment’ I’d ever seen and I’ve gotten the cold shoulder from a thousand year old vampire. Hunter had let go of his pout over being excluded from the conversation in the car earlier around the same time he joined forces to piss off his sister so he was targeted by Manen’s mood too. We were all at the top of her shit list and the funny part was that even though I expected to feel guilty for grounding her, the longer she acted like she was, the more justified I felt. For that matter, she was dangerously close to seeing how serious I’d been about more time.

**

When we got to the house there was a brand new, dark gray, convertible Sebring sitting in the driveway and it brought a smile to my face every time I saw it as we made trip after trip to unload the groceries. I cut Dozer lose to do whatever he wanted once everything was in the house since I didn’t need any help putting things away. Manen was sent to her room and whipped her head around to give me a ‘fuck you’ look when her DS and PSP floated my way as she went up the stairs. I wasn’t about to let her play video games while she was being punished. Her nasty glare was answered with a sneer I borrowed from Pam, though I’m sure it wasn’t as scary as when she does it.

Once I was done with stocking the fridges, freezers and pantry Hunter and I took the girls upstairs to feed them and put them down. They’d been awake for most of the time we were out and I could feel how worn the errands had left them.

Hunter was sitting with Dagny on his lap, propped on a pillow while we fed the girls and while we sat in the peace, I could feel the other family members getting closer to home.

**

Pam was the first to get home. Near as I could tell, she didn’t ‘pass GO’ or collect $200. She came straight to the nursery and sat down next to me.

She kissed us all and then Hunter handed Dagny to her and made his exit.

“You’ve had a rough day. Want to talk about it?”

“Not yet, if you don’t mind waiting for the guys. I’d rather only go through it once. How was your day?”

“I was busy, but everything was fine. Joss and I took care of the payroll and restocked. We trained 3 new servers. ‘Twas an O neg day.” An O neg day, was the vampire equivalent of my calling something ‘vanilla’ instead of boring.

“That’s good to hear. Anything left for Eric to do when we get there tonight?”

“Just what he’s best at; being gorgeous and intimidating. Making an appearance?”

I nodded. “Yeah. We’ll be holed up doing business tomorrow night and Damon will be here Friday… We won’t be able to go back until Saturday when we’ll be doing the armistice.”

“Nice work on that, by the way. Are you really going to make all those Packmasters go to Fangtasia?”

I smiled at her, faking innocence. “I don’t see why not. If Alcide and Damon don’t mind it, the others should be fine with it.”

She cackled. “You’re punishing Norris for causing trouble!”

I just gave her a wink. I wasn’t going to admit to anything so vampirey out loud.

**

When we felt the guys get home, we put the girls in their crib and headed down to the kitchen so that I could start putting dinner together while we did the talking that needed to be done.

I started pulling out the stuff I needed to make dinner and putting it all together.

Alcide was the first one to come in. He had a huge smile on his face and gave Pam and I both a kiss. He was carrying several bags and took them to the couches before settling onto his usual stool where there was a cold beer waiting for him. He stared at me. I knew he was waiting for an explanation. If I had to name it, he was feeling ‘vigilant’.

Pam saddled the stool next to him and told him that we were waiting and he snorted. “K… Eric won’t be long. He’s in the driveway pretending that the glomp* Daveigh just gave him didn’t freak him out. What’s for dinner?”

I grinned at him, thankful that they understood. “Veal parmesan, Chicken saltimbocca, Caprese salad and garlic bread.”

He gave me a very wide smile. “I lost the lunch vote. I was the only one who wanted Italian. We ended up at a drive through.”

“Tell me about it. I had to make myself eat my lunch. Sam doesn’t even have garlic powder at the restaurant.”

It was silly that his favorite part of our bond was that we were almost always in the mood for the same kind of food. He was still smiling like a goon when Eric came in.

**

His arms went around me as soon as he put his armful of loot next to the pile Alcide left on the couch. “Alright Lover, you went to visit with friends but you were doing anything but enjoying yourself. What happened?”

I gave him a kiss. “You first. How’d things go?”

His eyebrow flew up. “That bad?… Dave and Des have been measured and Donna will have at least one formal and one semi-formal for each of them to us by next weekend. Hideo had the perfect katanas for them. We all got one and he had some that he hadn’t honed so I got them for Hunter and Manen so that we won’t have to worry. They aren’t sharp enough to open a letter. Daveigh got Sims2 and all of the expansion packs and Des opted for the PS3 and a few games. Alcide and I got the new Call Of Duty game and the kids are leaning towards being homeschooled. They are a bit apprehensive about having a guard in the school with them.”

I shrugged. “I can’t really blame them. Having a guard kind of defeats the purpose of them going to school to maintain normalcy.”

He nodded. “Alcide and I are working through an idea. We’ll let you know more if it pans out. As we speak they are taking the new car for a test drive. Now, what happened during your visit?”

I took a deep breath and prepared myself. “Tray was there when we got to Merlotte’s. He was just waiting to say hi and he pet Dagny as he was on his way back to work. When he did the same thing to Erika, she started glowing. The hood of a car fell on his hand yesterday and she took it on herself to heal it for him…” I turned around to look for their reactions.

All three of them were unblinking statues for what seemed like forever.

“…I caught it in time and cloaked it before anyone but Maxine noticed. She was holding her so I glamoured her later. Tray was worried about us taking her anywhere, but Dozer mentioned that I only glow when I’m using a power that I have to be touching someone for. So I think as long as we keep people from touching them in public, we might not have to hide them.”

Still nothing. Crickets, so I kept talking.

“We’ll just have to take that as it comes unfortunately. There are still the other powers. I certainly didn’t expect anything to manifest this soon. That wasn’t all. That was just the first thing. Manen is grounded and we need to discuss the terms of her punishment.”

My guys looked surprised. “Lover, what did Manen do to get grounded?”

I reached an arm over the bar and the other to Eric and once they all took hold of me, I replayed the scene from lunch for them. Then I stood back and waited for their reaction, knowing full well that I would get one this time.

The replay was barely done when Alcide let go of my hand. “SHE WHAT!?”

I went back to fixing dinner. “Yeah. She was more than rude. It was like she was waiting for someone to give her a tie in to slam him.”

Eric called over his shoulder. “Manen. I know you’re listening to this. Get down here.” His voice was just glacial.

When Manen joined the party, she was scowling at me. “See, and now this. She’s been acting like her behavior is my fault. She’s acted like this to me, Hunter and Dozer since we left Merlotte’s.”

Pam, the high queen of ‘death stares’ matched her glower and hissed a warning. “Wipe that look off your face right now, or you will double your punishment.”

Manen held firm for a moment until she realized that Eric and Alcide were both wearing very disquieting looks of their own and backed down.

Eric, ever the chief, started. “Let’s start with the way you treated Merlotte. Do you want to try explaining why you would talk to an adult that way? Keep in mind, you better make this really good.”

She just stared at him. She wasn’t refusing to answer; she just knew that she didn’t have an excuse.

Alcide took his turn. “And exactly what is so stupid about a Collie?”

“Dogs are boring. They can’t do anything cool.” She says that to the wolf as though she doesn’t know that they are in the same Family.

Alcide scowled a hole into her face. “You mean that he doesn’t deserve your respect because he doesn’t show off? Because he CAN change into something else, and doesn’t, he’s beneath you?”

She hardened herself, straightening her spine and holding up her chin. “Yes.” I wanted to send her out to the closest tree to cut her own switch.

“Well, miss high and mighty, not only is he not beneath you, but you could learn a lot from him. And if you continue acting like a sanctimonious snob, you’ll get abjured long before you’re an adult.”

Pam’s turn. “You know what? You’re no better than the bottom feeders that made Momma think she was a freak when she was growing up. How dare you judge him?! I think that combined the only bad thing we could say about Sam Merlotte is that he was a sore loser when Momma decided to not be with him. What gives you the right so say anything about how he chooses to shift? What gives you the right to talk about him in front of humans? What gives you the right to ignore the fact that he was raised in a setting that he had to hide his nature and then berate him for choosing a safe familiar? You are a lucky little girl that he’s such an even tempered man. I’ve known Weres who would have torn your throat out for the taunting you did, child or not.”

Eric barked at her through clenched teeth. “Go back to your room until we call you.”

She looked like she was walking the Green Mile as she trudged up the stairs and I started cloaking the conversation as soon as the door was closed behind her.

“Lover?”

I was still putting dinner together so my back was to them all as I huffed. “Part of me wants to ground her from shifting into anything but a canine until she leaves for college.”

Alcide snorted angrily. “Then the little shit will just be angrier at dogs. Did you feel that? Even after we all told her how wrong she was, she was still being self righteous.”

I turned around and saw Eric and Pam nodding. “I don’t understand. Have we created a monster? I mean…”

“No Lover, we haven’t built her up too much. She really is just being putting on superior airs. Alcide, what do you suggest for her punishment?”

Alcide chewed on the inside of his cheek while he thought about it. “We still have a couple weeks until the moon. I think we should start the punishment with not letting her turn until then and remind her that we can keep her from shifting if she wants to keep being a shit.”

Pam added, “And we can get a sitter for the Pack cookout. If she wants to act better than everyone, she should do it alone.”

I still liked the idea of taking a switch to her pompous ass and I must have had the thought too loud because Alcide and Eric laughed. “That should go for her other conscious powers too.”

Eric nodded. “So it’s settled. She’s ‘human’ until the next full moon… and we’ll extend it to the following one if she doesn’t improve her attitude? Do we take shifts lofting to make sure she doesn’t secretly use her powers?”

I shook my head. “Absolutely not. I think being reminded of having to hide her talents would be a huge benefit from the punishment. I still think that part of the problem is that she has forgotten a few fundamentals. You saw it. She didn’t even hint at lunch. She came right out and talked about shifting in front of humans in a public place.”

Alcide gave me a nod and jumped on my train of thought. “It really would serve her right to be surrounded by people who can be who they are and have to hide what she can do. She may very well choke on just the taste of how you and Sam were stifled.”

We sat quietly frustrated with Manen for a few minutes while I finished putting dinner together before anyone tried to move on.

**

Eric could tell I was still bothered by how my day had gone. “Sookie, I’m sorry your day didn’t turn out like you planned. If you want to stay home tonight, Fangtasia can wait.”

I giggled in a slightly loony way. “Oh, you’ve only heard half of it…” I called Hunter and started telling them the ‘Cliff’s Notes’ version of Holly’s crisis.

Hunter came into the room with Spark and Stella heeling behind him. “Yes Momma?”

I picked him up under his arms and set him on the counter. “I just told the other grownups about what happened with Holly until you knocked on the office door. Do you think you can catch them up?”

He scrunched up one side of his face like he was worried that he was in trouble. “Yes ma’am. I guess so.”

“Ok. You were lofting and got worried so you had the idea to bring me something to drink. Start there.”

He nodded and turned a bit so he could face everybody. “When Holly came in she looked real sick and Momma and everybody got real worried. I tried not to listen, but I was worried too. ‘Cause of Aunt Janice, even Momma kept thinking about her. So I watched. Momma tried to fix her with cold and a healing and it didn’t help much. So I sent to Dozer that I thought a drink might help Momma’s powers. He got Arlene to get the bottle for me and I took it to her…” We all listened carefully to his point of view then we started the Q & A.

Pam went first. “Kiddo, how did you know it was an infection?”

He shrugged. “It was like I could feel it. When I touched her belly. It was like I could feel it through her head. Like I needed to pee but couldn’t. I had one of those once. The doctor said my medicine would taste like bubble gum and it tasted like fruity dirt.” He made the cutest ‘grossed out’ face ever.

We all got a little chuckle out of his editorial on amoxicillin and then Eric took his turn. “And you ‘watched’ the baby? How does that work?”

He grinned a little when he shrugged this time. “It was kind of like Miss Holly’s infection. When I touched her, I could feel him. He wasn’t happy. Like his arms and legs were asleep. Stiff and tingly. He didn’t like it.”

Eric was determined to wrap his head around what seemed like a new power. “You could hear his feelings? And how did you know it’s a boy?”

“Kind of like hearing his thoughts, but babies don’t think in words. It’s like the animals. And he thinks like Corbett, not like the girls.”

I think all four of the adults in the room tilted our heads like the RCA puppy from old commercials. We were definitely captivated by the topic as Eric gently pressed for more explanation. “And how are they different?”

We all watched as Hunter rolled his eyes back trying to think of a way to describe it. “Uh, remember when we dyed Easter eggs? And the dye made a cloud of color in the vinegar? And then when a drop of another color mixed in, it made another little cloud?…”

We all nodded and I almost laughed at how enthralled we were.

“…That’s how girls feel. Like a big pool of feelings. Mostly one color with a few tiny clouds of other stuff. Never just one feeling.”

Eric was fighting a smirk. “And boys?”

Hunter smiled and reached over, turning on the faucet. “Like that. No clouds. It’s like a river instead of a pool. The feeling will change, but it’s usually just one feeling at a time. Or a mix of feelings that match like happy and full or mad and tired.”

We shared a round of looks. The five year old pretty much summed up the male/female archetype. Pam started to giggle. “Hunter, with that knowledge alone you will make some woman very happy one day.”

He grumped at her. “Not ‘some woman’. I told you guys. I’m going to marry Diantha… Are you done with me now? I paused ‘Suite Life’ when you called me.”

We all laughed quietly and Eric set him on the floor to let him get back to his show. “We’ll send your girlfriend to the den when she gets back.”

Hunter didn’t bother looking back at him as he walked away, both dogs following closely. “I already told her where I’ll be.”

**

Alcide stared at me for a long while as the vampire were busy being amused with Hunter’s ‘crush’ on Diantha.

“Shug?”

“Yeah?”

“Diantha and Hunter?”

“What? You act like I can see the future.”

When they all got a shocked look on their faces I started laughing through my nose. I watched Eric kind of zone out and I knew that he was using his recall to remember the recent preview.

He started to chuckle. “They do make a cute couple.”

Alcide’s eyebrows contorted together. “Seriously?”

My laugh grew a little as I nodded and decided to change the subject. “The diary entry isn’t over yet.”

Eric got serious again. “Lover, you’ve got to be joking. How much more could’ve happened today?”

“See why you got to go first?… Jason called after lunch while I was running errands. He wanted to know if I did something to the babies.”

“Why?”

“They were all on a different schedule so Jason and Janice weren’t getting more than an hour of sleep at a time.”

“And now?”

“When we left, they all went to sleep for a long time, then they all woke up at the same time, then right back to sleep after they ate.”

Did you have anything to do with it?”

“Nope. Dagny did.”

“Dagny?! What did she do?”

“I suspected as soon as Jas called, but I felt her out once we got home. Dagny is… wait for it, Alcide…  A hyperkinetic empath. She kept them all awake while we visited and that’s how they synced up. ”

More surprised faces, all around.

Alcide started to laugh. “You mean I was right for once?”

I nodded.

Eric smiled like the devil. I love that smile. “Which explains the ‘wake ups’ and how you can wake a vampire during the day…”

Pam interrupted. “… More importantly, how she’s been awake and using beaucoup amounts of power. The multiplier spent the last day and a half using powers in close proximity to another hyperkinetic. Dagny is like a solar panel for her mother.”

I nodded. “I didn’t think we were going to have to think about it for a while, but as it turns out, I find myself thinking that Fintan might have had the right idea about binding our powers. This is going to be interesting.”

Pam smiled sympathetically. “To say the least. Are either one of them multipliers or borrowers?”

I shook my head. “Not yet, but they are stronger when they are together.”

**

After a few more minutes of quiet, Eric almost seemed afraid to ask. “Lover, anything else?”

“That’s everything, but you should discuss some business with Pam.”

He grinned, kissed my temple and popped out of the room. Pam barely had the chance to look confused before Eric startled her by popping back to sit on the stool next to her holding my sketchbook and his laptop.

“Sookie has been drawing again.” He set the notebook on the counter in front of her and as she flipped through he told her about my proposal, going as far as getting his laptop and pulling up the google map of the properties so that I could give them an idea of the layout of the property and where the new construction would go.

When I had first told him about it, the tone he used was akin to that of a bored child humoring an adult who insisted on telling a long story. Right after we fought his interest became more sincere. This morning, he seemed to be having more fun thinking about the project and now he was acting like he was showing off a new car. The tone he was using was like the one he used when he talked about the new Fangtasia and I could feel his excitement. He was looking forward to the project and I felt the same coming from Pam.

When most of the explaining and questions were out of the way, Pam flipped through the drawings again. “Eric?”

He didn’t say anything; he just raised his eyebrows at her.

“Can I have the boutique?”

He eyed her carefully. “Do you think you can handle the Bar, being Lieu and another business?”

“Being Lieu takes less of my time than being your Second did and Joss pretty much runs the bar. She doesn’t need me; I go in out of habit and boredom. The boutique wouldn’t even be work. Not really. Other than keeping the books and scheduling the staff, I’d be ordering the merchandise. I have more than 200 years of experience shopping. I can do it. I can do this.”

Eric gave me a look asking me what I thought and I answered him with a smile.

“Alright then. You’ll need to do your best to get along with Anastasia, since she will be running things with the rest of the resort.”

She nodded excitedly. “Sookie, which designers?”

“I’ll forward the contracts to you. So far, I have D & G, Versace, Balenciaga, Calvin Klein, Yves St. Laurent, McQeen, Dior, Chanel, Fendi, Prada, Givenchy… A bunch more; pretty much Rodeo Drive only more choices.” Her eyes lit up as I had rattled off the partial list.

“Is the space for the boutique planned or is it already part of the building?”

“It’s part of the new construction. There is a small gathering room in the existing clubhouse that acts like a lobby for the pool. The Spa and Boutique will be built off of it and after the pool redo, the pool will share a lobby with the gym.”

She was fidgeting in her excitement. “When do you plan on opening?”

“My goal is to do the grand opening with the first February Session of court since it’s Louisiana’s turn to host.”

“But a large portion of the rooms would be blocked off for the justices and clerks.”

“A third and that is why the Belle Shreveport will be packed too and we’ll be offering free shuttling from the hotel to the resort. It’s the Monday after a full moon weekend too. I was thinking that the PM for the local pack might want to use a lodge for a party house and then test drive the thousand or so acres of ‘Wildlife Refuge’.”

They all smiled at me, especially Alcide.

“Lover, what do we do about humans? You said Supe Exclusive. Vampires employ humans that they travel with. Some Were have human companions too.”

“Which is why they’ll buy memberships. It’ll be the only way a human can be allowed on the premises. A non-member can stay at the resort, but the far more expensive ‘Platinum Membership’ will allow for amenities like human companions as long as they are chaperoned. The other perk to the membership would be that opening week will be ‘Members only’. Every Vampire monarch in the states and no less than 100 Packs will jump on the chance to kiss ass and do the parties. I do want to make one change concerning the Belle. I want to have the coven cast containment spells on the rooms where the Court’s defendants will be staying. I’d rather not have the dregs running around at the resort. When Alcide and I were in New York for court we stayed at the Waldorf but Nicki put the lowlifes in the Ho-Jo in Brooklyn and that’s what she’d done. The hoods could have company and order room service, but were bound from leaving their rooms until they were collected for their trials.”

Eric gave me an impressed nod. “So then when we have Danielle do the web site, we should have her integrate the reservation system so that parties can make on sight and off sight reservations with the same call.”

“Yes sir. I think that would be a nice convenience.”

“And the condos and cabins… how many would be light tight?”

“All of them. I want to do them like the guest houses.”

He nodded. “Electronic panels over the windows in the bedrooms and bathrooms. That way we wouldn’t need to make apologies for being out of light tight rooms unless we were completely booked.”

The four of us bounced ideas around for a bit while dinner was in the oven. It was fun. Even though I had Eric tell her about the boutique, Pam still grabbed me and gave me a hug that would have registered as a 9 on the Richter scale. One day I was going to throw up on her. Then she’d stop. I couldn’t help but laugh though. Every time she did it, I remembered that I spent the first year that I knew her wondering if she’d ever been in a good mood.

**

When the ‘Dae team’ returned, excited about the new car I started plating food and serving while we talked about their day with the guys. Alcide explained Manen’s punishment to her and she quietly accepted it. I think she took it as well as she did just because it was Alcide who told her, but she did promise to be nicer next time she saw Sam.

Tobin and Jordie both came in to give us the news of their day. Tobin’s reports that the breaker box held up just fine sparked my explanation of the new window units. Alcide accused me of ‘overkill’ when he found out that not only did I have them get one for each room, but that they were as strong as they came.

Jordie handed some papers over to Eric and explained that Desmond was signed up for Driver Training classes at ‘Caddo Highway Safety’ starting next week on Tuesdays and Thursdays and told Eric what documentation he would need to have so that he could get his learner’s permit. I don’t want to know what had to be done for Eric to get Daveigh and Des their own credit cards so quickly, but the papers Jordie handed him include the kids’ own AmEx Black cards and the papers on their bank accounts where their ridiculous allowances would be direct deposited. Both of them stopped breathing when they saw that their starting balance was ten thousand dollars. Finding out that they’d get another thousand every month didn’t help. Eric went on to chide Des to let him know that ‘pulling a Micah’ was unacceptable now that he was living with us.

Damn Jason. He’d gotten Eric and Pam hooked on ‘Heroes’, which reminded me… the new season would be starting soon and they’d all start calling me ‘Sylar’ again when I’m cranky. Damn Jason.

**

We were about half way through a very enjoyable dinner when my phone started vibrating from my purse on the counter. Since I was eating, Eric got it for me and started smiling as he read the waiting text.

He calmly walked over to Hunter and handed my phone to him and told him to read it out loud.

Hunter looked confused, but wiped his hands down his pants and took the phone. He cleared his throat dramatically making me smile. “Maximus Hunter Fortenberry was born at 5:22 PM. 8 pounds, 4 ounces. 22 inches long. Thanks to Hunter and Sookie, him and Holly are doing great. Love Hoyt and Cody.”

Hunter was positively beaming with pride when he handed the phone back to Eric and Diantha kissed his cheek. Everyone else started to congratulate him and Eric pat his head as he walked over to bring the phone to me when it started to ring.

“It’s Jason. Hoyt sent that message out to dozens of people.” I finished chewing and thanked my husband for the phone before I answered it.

“Hey, Jas.”

“Hey Sis. Lemme talk to that nephew of mine!”

I didn’t say anything I just shook my head and handed the phone back to Eric. We all listened while Jason gushed with pride and told him what a big deal it was that someone named a baby after him. It was turning out to be a big couple of days for Hunter.

**

When the kids were done with dinner, Eric and Alcide took them all out to the yard with their swords while Pam helped me clean up and put away leftovers. Then she grabbed our laptops and took them out to the porch, dragging me behind her. She led me to a chair and set me down then opened my laptop for me. I knew she wanted me to send her the contacts and list of designers so I quickly humored her exuberant mood and then pulled my phone out to call the florist about an arrangement of blue flowers for Holly and Hoyt.

I enjoyed myself watching Eric’s little army of Samurai with him and Diantha at the head of the group giving them pointers and advice. I laughed when Diantha decided to show the ‘students’ some flare. She swung her katana around so quickly it was hard to see and Eric had to slow himself down to do his exhibition.

The show had been going on for almost 2 hours while I listened to Pam coo into her laptop and watched Daveigh do really well. It was nearly 9 o’clock when I thought to call Margaux and leave her a message since the sun hadn’t quite set yet in San Francisco.

I was pleasantly surprised when she picked up the phone.

“Cookie! I was just thinking about you.”

I giggled. “Really? What were you doing?”

“Having dinner.” Pam jerked her head to look at me. She did not approve of the implications of that statement.

“I’m not sure I needed to hear about that.”

She started laughing. “Not like that! I miss the AB negative that you serve.”

“Oh. That’s a relief. Next time I see you, I’ll fix a case or two for you to keep in reserve.”

“Oh, bless you! You know, I put feelers out for that power of yours. The only person I found with the ability wasn’t worth the time of his audition.”

“Awww, for the sake of argument, it’s probably because he doesn’t know the taste.”

“You do?”

“Not personally, but I’m connected to Eric.”

“So if he were willing to bond to a vampire?”

“If he’s got alchemy as a power, then he’s probably too Daemon to be bonded.”

“Gamisi!… Could you just glamour me to taste it?”

I smiled, feeling pretty flattered. “Sorry. I’ve tried that. Glamouring vampire requires me to be present. I glamoured a greedy vampire to taste nothing but Bombay type but it only held until I left the area on a trip. I tried it on Pam since she travels for work so often too. No luck.”

“I’m sure your Vampire are both quite spoiled.”

I boasted. “They definitely know what side their bread is buttered on. It probably won’t be long before they crave an old fashioned O neg.”

Pam mumbled with a smirk. “Doubtful” and they both started chuckling.

“So Queen Northman, what did I do to be lucky enough to hear from you tonight?”

“Well, Queen Seretis, I was hoping we could do something for each other. We’ve thought of a use for your child if you are still interested in setting her loose.”

“Yes! Of course! Do tell!”

“The Round table is opening a resort and will be in need of someone who has knowledge of a variety of Supe quirks and needs and can be organized as hell. I talked to Eric and he’d like her to be the Director of Operations.”

“You are gearing this resort to Supes?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“What a marvelous idea! The only one I can think of is just dreadful and in the jungle in Peru.”

“I’ve heard. And then there’s an all Vampire Hostel in Glasgow.”

“Ew. I stayed there once. It was worse than a whore house. Everything stunk of old blood.” I got a giggle out of a 600 year old vampire saying ‘ew’. “When do you want her?”

“We are setting things in motion as we speak. I hope to break ground next week if we can close on the property fast enough.”

“I’ll send her out on Saturday. That’ll give us a night for her to pass the torch and one for us to say our goodbyes.” I could tell by the sound of her voice that she was going to miss Anastasia. Sad vampire’s always tugged at my heartstrings.

“Yes ma’am. Which house do you think she’d prefer?”

“Her favorite color has always been blue.”

“Water it is. I’ll have our plane waiting for her at sunset Saturday with a few cases of the good stuff for your driver to bring to you.”

“I will miss my favorite child intensely, but with the way you spoil us all, I know you will take very good care of her.”

“I promise, Margaux. We will do our best.”

**

Once she began crying I let her make an excuse to get off the phone with me. Pam didn’t let me set the phone down before she started grilling me about our new director.

“You’ve met Anastasia?”

I nodded.

“What’s she like? Where’s she from? How old is she? I won’t bother asking if you trust her. You wouldn’t have her on the property if you didn’t.”

I smiled at her. “She was only fifteen when Margaux turned her. She’s about your age. She was the daughter of one of Margaux’s pets and was traveling from Kiev to Odessa with them when they were raided. Her mother was killed and Anastasia was barely alive. She’s quiet and very dedicated. She has a good sense of humor and was very curious about the kids when Alcide and I stayed with them. She was Ukrainian, but Margaux has taught her more languages including Greek and her accent is so faint you’d have to ask what her seed language is.”

Pam nodded. I could tell she was still curious but when she didn’t ask anything else, I figured she was taking a ‘wait and see’ approach.

I watched the activity in the yard for a little longer before I decided to go get ready to go to Fangtasia.

**

I went upstairs and took a deep breath. Even after the crazy day I’d had, everything seemed good. As I pushed hangers along the rod trying to find the right outfit for my ‘post baby debut’ I was grateful that everything that went wrong today turned out alright. Sure, I was forcing myself to see the bright side, but that’s the point. I could be put out that the twins’ powers were coming out so early in the game, but it wouldn’t really make much difference. We’d have to learn how to deal with it all eventually anyway. Manen’s attitude might be a problem if we don’t get it through her stubborn head that she was being hateful, but we can’t punish her for something she hasn’t done yet. I could at least be excited that with four parents, we didn’t argue about how to punish her for her stunt. And of course my friend had been in serious trouble today, but not only is she and the baby healthy NOW… Hunter saved his first life today and it was a two-fer! So all in all, things weren’t so bad. Best of all, I was going out with my husband tonight. Even if it was to Fangtasia, I would still get to dance with him.

With that in mind, I picked my dress for the evening. It was black silk and very, very short. The neckline plunged so low that any bra would show, even if it weren’t backless to the point of showing off my tattoo. In fact the only thing keeping gravity at bay was the single string that tied, connecting the shoulders together in the back. No bra for me. I’m sure Eric would be ‘disappointed’. I dug out my favorite red crepe pumps (Pam was rubbing off on me; I’d become a member of the Louboutin cult) and a pair of low rise, red lace rumba panties to finish off the outfit.

When I got out of the shower, Pam was standing against the wall. I’d felt her come in and something was eating at her. She handed me a towel and waited for me to ask.

**

I started drying off and decided not to waste any time. “Out with it Pammy. What’s got that pretty mouth of yours turned down?”

“Alcide said you and Eric fought yesterday.”

“We did. It was pretty ugly too.”

“Can I ask what it was about?”

“Sure, but I don’t see what difference it makes. We’re fine now. We argued about the resort, but it turned out that we were arguing because he didn’t want me to be so busy.”

She came over and sat on the counter, facing me while I did my makeup. “Does he really want to do this or is he just agreeing to shut you up?”

I smiled at her bluntness while I drew on my eyeliner. “You know better than that. You’d be able to feel it if he were just letting me have my way. Besides, we worked everything out before we even left for the mall yesterday. I gave him extra time to either get excited or come to his senses. Are you developing some hesitation?”

She shook her head. “I just worry about you taking on so much. Last time was a nacht mare*.”

I scoffed. “Was not! You vampires! Total recall doesn’t do y’all any good if you prefer to use your selective memory. Eric did the same thing. Besides, this time will be easier because I’m not a virgin this time around.”

She snarled at me playfully. “So what needs to be done? Can I help with anything? It seems like you’ve got a lot going… as ever.”

“I’m emailing everyone to get started on their parts once I’m ready and Eric is getting cleaned up.”

“And?”

I smirked at her. “That’s it. Eric and I might go up to ES Saturday morning to sign off on the blueprints.”

“You really have that much done, huh?”

I gave her a nod. “And since you want the boutique, I have even less to do. That was going to be a big part of the check list.”

“Eric is going to be helping you though right?”

I studied her; her face and the bond. She was just as worried about me getting in over my head as Eric had been. I moved over to stand between her knees and put my hand on the side of her face. “Pammy, it wouldn’t make any difference. I know that I can ask y’all for help if I need it, but yes, Eric is my co-pilot. You’ll barely notice the time I put into it. Okay?”

She forced a smile. “Alright. You know we just worry because we love you, right?”

I smiled back at her. “I love you too.” I gave her a kiss and when I went to pull away… I reconsidered.

I opened my mouth and nibbled her bottom lip and it was all the encouragement she needed. Her tongue quickly found mine and her legs wrapped around my hips, pulling us together and my hands went to her hair and neck.

And that’s exactly how Eric found us.

**

He walked by us and quietly stepped into the shower, treating us like he didn’t notice. I was more than a little surprised and so was Pam. He was usually eager to pirate the moments that Pam and I shared. Wondering why he didn’t this time distracted us both enough that she slid herself off the counter and set out to find somewhere else to be.

I went back to doing my hair. “Eric?”

“Lover?”

“You alright?”

“Yes. Why?”

“Because you just walked by us while we were making out and you didn’t make any remarks or attempts to join in the fun.”

“I didn’t want to intrude.”

I laughed. “You don’t usually mind.”

He raised an eyebrow at me from under the water, but he didn’t say anything so I went back to getting ready.

**

By the time he was out of the bathroom, I was dressed and ready to go, sitting on the settee with my phone, ‘hitting send’.

He stared at me and licked his lips on his way to his closet. There was something very weird going on in the bond. I could tell that he wanted to talk to me about something. I could tell that he thought I was going to object to the idea. I could tell that it was his reason for not interrupting Pam and me. Since I didn’t want him to realize that I knew he was up to something, I stealthily walked out of our room so that I could go say goodnight to all of the kids. I found Hunter and Manen out on the porch with Angela and then found our teens in the den with Alcide, Pam and the twins.

Alcide appreciated my outfit with a whistle. “Nice outfit. Are we not worried about looking too healthy anymore?”

I smiled at the compliment. “I figured that I can claim that the word of mouth is too kind and that any pictures are airbrushed. The humans at the club wouldn’t dare get close to me.”

He gave me a nod. “How you holding up?”

“I’m solid. Never better.” I looked over and noticed that Des looked bored. “What are y’all up to?”

Des shrugged. “Just sitting around. We’re going to watch a movie or something.”

I giggled at him. “Why? You were just handed AmEx Black cards and 10 grand.”

He looked confused. “So?”

“So get in your sister’s car and y’all go to a movie. Or cause a ruckus at IHOP. Or go to Super Wal-Mart and load up on games and movies and toys. Don’t get into any trouble, text us on the hour and be home by 2.”

“You’re going to let us go out? Now?”

I shrugged. “Why not. If you fuck up your leash will get shortened, but you don’t have school tomorrow. Diantha can keep you safe. Go. Be teenagers. Have some damn fun. You guys can go to Fangtasia with us tomorrow night if you want.”

He looked like just slapped him. “You’re going to take us to a bar?”

I nodded. “It’s not like we’re gonna let you drink. But you can dance and check things out. If you guys decide to go to school, you’ll have to have something to tell your friends. No one would believe the vampire King plays with his kids and watches South Park… ICP is playing Saturday night. Have you ever heard of them?”

“Insane Clown Posse!?”

I giggled at him. “I’ll take that as a ‘yes’. You can go Saturday too if you want. So you can see them.”

“But what if, like cops show up or something? Wouldn’t you get into trouble for letting us be there?”

“A- if you were drinking and you won’t be. B- IF that were to happen, Eric and I would pop us all home before anyone noticed you were there. C- We can glamour them to not remember you, even if they do spot you.”

Alcide added, “And D- Not a single cop has walked into the place uninvited since it opened because they know Eric and Sookie wouldn’t stand for any bullshit. Human or Supe.”

None of them budged. “I’m not throwing you out of the house. If you want to veg, that’s cool. But don’t get hung up on your old rules. If you want to go out, go out.”

Diantha cringed. “My curfew is midnight though.”

I shrugged. “Did Mr. C give you any instructions before you left?”

“To behave and listen to you.”

“Sounds pretty vague. The lawyer should know better… Daveigh, Desmond, I want you to go out and have a good time. Diantha, since you were given such loose instructions, I’m sure your uncle would understand if you break curfew to do as I ask and keep an eye on our kids.”

She smiled as only a daemon can. “You’re a sneaky bitch.”

“So I’m told.” I winked at her and they all shared a quick look and then bolted to their rooms to get changed.

**

Once Eric came downstairs in his black dress pants and a skin tight dark red dress shirt with his sleeves rolled up (Yummy) he said his goodnights and we popped to his office at Fangtasia. This act wasn’t because of laziness. It had become the norm out of necessity. Since the new club opened, we’d been waiting for the ‘stage door groupies’ to dwindle. There were still dozens of Vampire sycophants waiting outside and they were doing it on nights when the club was closed too. I didn’t know if I felt sorry for them or if I wanted to get a restraining order.

Eric smiled as he held the door for me and we went out to the opera box and took our seat as a sudden calm and hush fell over the packed club. The vampires all stopped what they were doing and dropped to one knee. Our Were guards (including Doug) all bowed from the waist and Eric coolly looked over the crowd while I smiled and waved to our friends. All of it was our usual Fangtasia routine.

I was comfortably perched on his thigh for several minutes before either of us said anything.

His hands finally left the arms of his throne and rested on my waste as he leaned forward to whisper in my ear.

He was almost purring. “Lover, I need to talk to you.”

No kidding. The quiet between us was nearly deafening and we hadn’t even fought. ”I’m listening.”

“I’m fairly confident that you are going to think me high handed again.”

Deep breaths. “Ok. I’ve braced myself. Tell me what you’ve done, but you need to start by apologizing for waiting to tell me in public with the hopes that I’ll contain myself.”

I turned my head to look at him and he had his eyebrow raised as he stared. He finally gave me a nod. “I do apologize.”

He really apologized. This can’t be good. “Jesus, Eric. What did you do?”

“Diantha is lonely. She still misses her sister. Daveigh is her only real friend.” His hand started stroking my back like he was trying to calm a spooked cat and, damn him, it felt good. “When Dave and Des mentioned that they might not want to deal with school because of guards, I had an idea. Alcide and I talked about it and then we called Mr. Cataliades. While you were in the shower he called me back with his answer.”

I scowled at him. “You’re pussyfooting.”

He narrowed his eyes at me for the accusation and moved on. “It occurred to me that since I managed to teach Diantha and Gladiola the sword in just a few short months, if we could just keep Des and Daveigh safe for this school year, they wouldn’t necessarily need a guard next year.”

I had a pretty good idea where this was going so I waited out his ‘pause for effect’.

“Alcide and I thought that if Diantha stayed with us for the year, she would be adequate security and the kids would feel more comfortable with her than, say, Goose. Cataliades is willing to let her stay.”

I waited but he didn’t seem like he was going to say anything else until I responded. “Ok. And?”

“And I continue their training and Diantha goes to school with her friends.”

And? I was sure that there was more. He couldn’t have been so worried about my reaction to what he’d already told me. “How does Di feel about relocating?”

Surprised. Something about my question surprised him. His face, the bond and somehow he even smelled like he was surprised. “Lover, she’s happy for the change of scenery. Are you fine with this?”

“I’m waiting.”

“For what?”

“The rest of the story. The part that had you ‘lay low’ and want me to cork my reaction.”

“That is the whole story.”

I just stared at him.

“Seriously Sookie, that’s it.”

I could tell that he was being honest. That’s what bothered me. I got up and went over to the order screen and put an order in while I collected my thoughts, then sat back down on his lap. “Have I been that much of a bitch?”

“Pardon?”

“I could tell when you were getting dressed that you had something to say. You spent the last hour trying to figure out how to tell me and worrying about my reaction. So I ask again, Eric, have I become a bitch?”

“What? No. I expected you to be angry because I made a decision for the whole family without discussing it with everyone first.”

I left the conversation long enough to thank the waitress for the fastest Long Island Iced Tea ever.

“You talked to Alcide about it though.”

He nodded. “Yes, but not you or Pam. I expected you to be upset, but there were several ‘what ifs’ to deal with. All of them hinged on Diantha staying, so I called her uncle first to see if he would entertain the idea. When he called back, I asked if she would want to stay with us.”

I giggled and he raised his eyebrow at me.

“What’s so funny?”

“So you fixed Diantha’s loneliness, the kids comfort level in school, the security issue, and moving Diantha in with one phone call, but you didn’t say anything to me because things were still in the air. You didn’t want to worry me or get my hopes up until you had something more definitive.”

When he nodded my giggle grew into a full laugh. “I still don’t understand what’s so funny.”

“Not funny ‘ha-ha’ as much as funny ‘ironic’.”

His chin dropped slightly and he put on his scowl. “My outburst over the resort… You’re laughing because I got angry before I realized how much could be accomplished with a few phone calls.”

I stopped laughing when I realized that he was angry with himself all over again. I leaned over and kissed him. “I love you.”

“Why?”

“Good question.”

His jaw dropped open and he looked genuinely appalled.

I leaned back against him and kissed his neck and breathed into his ear. “I love you because you’re you. I love you because you love me enough to argue with me. I love you because you worry about me. I love you because my feelings matter enough that you take them into consideration. How’s that?”

“It still surprises me that you love me instead of merely tolerating me.”

“Likewise, but surprise is a good thing, right? Without it, the next few centuries would be pretty fucking bland.”

He chuckled. “Indeed… Lover, would you care to dance?”

I sat up and licked my lips in his direction, knowing what dancing always led to. It led straight to the daybed in his office. “I thought you’d never ask.”

He wiggled his eyebrows at me and took my hand as he led us down the iron stairs to the dance floor.

**

We danced one song right after another. Felicia was in control of the playlist tonight and she had a zeal for hip hop remixes. It wouldn’t have been a problem if I didn’t share her taste. I didn’t want to stop dancing.

Eric and I rubbed and grinded against each other until my thighs burned and I was covered in club-shine* and after enough songs that I lost track, I took his hand and led him over to the bar.

He watched me carefully, like I was the floor show at the Luxor, as I set up a rack of empty test tubes and started pouring true blood into them.

“Lover, what are you up to?”

“Well, the last time I had a business proposal, I had a drink idea. This time isn’t any different.” I waved over a few familiar fang that I knew had some years under their belts for a taste test.

“So what are we drinking?”

I smiled and gave him a wink as I passed out the tubes to Clancy, Felicia, Eric and the 5 regulars. Everyone waited until Eric knocked his back before following the King’s lead.

And when the tubes were empty, I was looking at 8 very pleased sets of pearly white fangs and I wiggled my eyebrows at Eric.

I laughed. “I guess I don’t have to ask.”

Eric looked over the rest of my focus group. “No. Sookie, it’s safe to say that your idea is a hit.”

Felicia took a step closer to me. “Majesty, what shall we call it on the menu and how much do we charge? Fae is so rare…”

“You charge $50 for the AB negative by the bottle, right?”

She nodded.

“Then I think $100 for a flute of this is reasonable, yes?”

She smiled at me. “Yes ma’am. A bargain.”

Everyone agreed with dazed nods except Eric, who had built up a bit of a tolerance for the taste of Fae. “Lover, can we call it ‘Niall’ on the menu?”

I laughed and he gave me his evilest smirk. “That’s a little more antagonistic that I want to be right now. We’ll talk after his funeral. Should we go with a pun or be creative?”

“What do you have in mind?”

“Well, we could call it ‘Fae Negative’, ‘Fae Possitive’ or something fun like ‘Faerie Tale Ending’.” I shrugged. “It’s your call.”

He gave questioning looks to Clancy and Felicia and they both liked all the names. He smirked at me and shook his head slightly. “Let’s go with ‘Faerie Tale Ending’ for now.”

Clancy gave him a ‘yes majesty’ and I grabbed a marks-a-lot from the shelf and went into the fridge, to brew and mark a few cases ‘FTE‘.

When I came back out, Eric was still standing where I left him with the same proud smile on his face. I eyed Clancy and Felicia. “It’s a two drink maximum. Understand? The bar can’t stay open if y’all start going nuts and draining the breathers. I’ll have my Weres watching things to make sure this doesn’t get out of hand. If it does, we won’t serve it anymore.”

I got very sincere nods from them and I went over, taking Eric’s hand and letting him lead me up to his office. Clancy was already adding it to the menu when we walked away.

**

The door had barely closed behind him before Eric started laughing. “Lover! When did you think of that?!”

I smiled and reached up to unbutton his first button. “A few nights ago.”

He smoldered down at me. “It’s brilliant.” Another button.

“No…”

“It is too. I just hope that we can keep it in stock.”

I opened the last button I could and started slowly untucking his shirt. “No, min make. ‘Brilliant’ would be that room service at the resort will charge $500 for a bottle and there won’t be a maximum.”

He hummed and grabbed my hips, yanking me to him. “There is nothing on earth better than you.”

“There’s always ways to improve.” I inched his shirt open and gave his hard shoulder a nibble.

“Mmmm, that’s impossible. How could you possibly get better?”

“I’m always better when you’re inside me.” I switched sides to give his other shoulder a chew and reveled in the rumble coming from his chest.

He bent to catch my lips with his and gave me a kiss so long and deep I hated that I needed to breathe. When I finally pulled away and started kissing down his neck, his hand found its way to the string holding my dress up.  With a gentle tug, my dress was out of the way and I was standing in front of him in nothing but red heels and frilly panties. He growled, “We need a pole for this room.”

I smiled at him and started opening his belt, reaching into his pants to give him a squeeze. “I can improvise.”

He flashed his sexy, fangy smile at me and started backing me up to the daybed, pushing my panties down and nipping at my neck. I pushed his pants down his thighs and by the time I sat down, the only thing either of us were wearing was my blood red heels.

He wasted no time, putting his mouth over my center, flicking my nub, wiggling my hoop with his tongue and lapping with his fingers and fangs buried deep. My back arched away from the mattress and I squealed, feeling what he was doing in every fiber and not wanting it to ever end. He pushed me to the point of tears and yelling out his name before he lifted me and set me down to straddle him. I was still stunned and my legs were shaking when I started moving him inside me, quickly feeling like I was about to topple over again.

I pulled one knee up to set my foot on the bed, giving me the leverage my rubbery legs needed and no sooner than I started moving again the rumbling in his chest became a growl. His nails dug into the back of my hips as he moved me back and forth and my muscles started to spasm around him. I seized around him and I wanted to crumple. But he wasn’t done and he was too close to slow down and give me the chance to recover. I started humming with the constant ache building inside me but it didn’t help for long. I started begging him to come as he moved me round him. I could feel myself starting to build a glow and my whole body felt like it was vibrating when his fangs went into my neck and I latched onto his shoulder. Eric grunted out my name when he came at long last and my glow became an eruption. When he fell back to the bed, I went with him, crashing into his chest.

**

I hadn’t quite gotten my breath back yet when the music from beyond the office flooded the room as the door opened. Without a knock, no less. There was no covering myself. Our clothes were scattered all over the floor. In a gallant effort to protect my modesty, Eric rolled over to put me between him and the wall.

I called our clothes to us as he barked at our rude visitors. “Who are you to intrude?!”

“Mae’n braf gweld rhai pethau byth yn newid. Arglwydd efallai, fyddwn yn ymuno â chi am eich pryd?” He whipped his head around and his anger became protective.

“Gallwch!”

I grunted as I maneuvered my dress over my head. “I take it you know them?”

I still hadn’t laid eyes on them but I could feel 4 very amused vampire brains. Then one of them made the mistake of speaking. “Get your frock, Malakia*. He’s done with you.”

He moved off the bed too fast for me to grab him, not that it would have done any good. He was across his office and backhanded the insulting bitch hard enough to send her flying across the room to bounce off of the wall and hit the floor with a crunch. “You’ve forgotten yourself Treza, and me apparently. You’ll want to watch yourself.” I wasn’t scared for me, but I was terrified for them.

“Eric! They can’t know or she wouldn’t have.” He spun around to say something harsh to put me in my place and I was relieved that he was distracted by the fact that I was holding his pants out to him.

I could feel him trying to calm himself down while he yanked his pants on and the 3 vampires collected their companion from the floor. All of them petite blondes wearing plain clothing and couldn’t have been 20 when they were ‘born’. I knew right away why he was upset.

I handed his shirt to him. “Eric?”

He tilted his head back and stared into the light. “Sookie, for what it’s worth, Pam will be far more pissed about this than you. This is Keva, Liesl, Treza and Mischa.” He looked over at them. “What the fuck are you doing here?”

The tallest of them gave him a respectful bow. “Master, we decided to leave Caldey Island in search for a new residence. When we arrived in New York, we checked in with the Queen who explained that she answered to you and we decided to pay our respects personally. Are you unhappy to see us?” She had a hint of a German accent.

“Liesl, I am unhappy with Treza’s humor. Is it safe to say that you were disconnected from the media?”

“Yes Master. That is why we chose Caldey. The lack of interruptions made our respite very pleasant.”

He was grinding his teeth.

I stood up and went to the bathroom to do my best at cleaning the blood from my backside, neck and chest. When I came out, everyone was frozen where I left them.

I went over to the women and checked on Treza and her arm was broken and healing slowly so I gently took it and healed her. The four of them were stunned when I opened my eyes so I smiled at them. “Come on downstairs ladies. Let me buy you a blood while Master cleans up.”

**

It was after 2 now and thankfully there weren’t any humans left in the bar except the ones that worked there. I grabbed four true bloods and a glass of whiskey and started to carry the tray so that I could claim a couch with our company. Felecia griped at me.

“MAJESTY! Queens don’t wait tables. Where should I take these for you?”

I laughed at her. “You’re silly. I’m going to take this 20 feet and park. Thanks though.” I reached out and gave her hand a squeeze.

“Yes ma’am. Does the King need anything?”

“No ma’am. I just took care of him.”

She beamed at me and it occurred to me that I never would have admitted that out loud a couple of years ago. I laughed at myself as I nodded my head in the direction of a quiet corner couch for us to take. They nearly piled atop each other like confused children.

I handed out true bloods and was about to introduce myself when I was interrupted by the 5 regulars from my focus group. They all either called me ‘majesty’ or ‘queen Sookie’ as they thanked me for the treat they got earlier and kissed my hand before they left for the night.

I sat back in my seat across from them, legs crossed and nursing my drink while I watched the four of them share looks back and forth.

“Are y’all almost done?”

Mischa took the lead. I have to admit I was anxious to hear from them without Eric around. “They called you Majesty.”

I nodded.

“You aren’t a vampire.”Mischa’s Cyrillic accent was only really noticeable in her Rs so it was hard to guess anything more specific.

I shook my head.

“If you wouldn’t mind, the American hierarchy is confusing us. We checked in with Queen della Rovere, yet she informed us that she answers to Master. And now we are here and the vampire are calling you Majesty.”

I smiled at her. She was being very respectful. “Eric…”

Keva interrupted me in a panic. “You mustn’t. Master. Always Master.”

I gave her my full attention. “Keva, I can assure you that I, of all people, am allowed to refer to Master by his name. As I was saying, Eric was elected by the monarchies within America to be Emperor. The 35 Kings and Queens of North America and Oceania all answer to him finally and he has complete control over two states. Eric represents them to the human government here.”

Treza muttered, “Pano*.”

I giggled. “Mother of God is right! Like he wasn’t an egoist before, right?”

The other three shot her a dirty look and her face was taken with lament. “You know Pano?… I didn’t mean…” Suddenly she realized I understood Greek and realized that calling me Malakia was a bad idea.

“Hush. I know you just thought I was a meal. It’s fine. It’s not the first time. I’d have thought the same thing. He overreacted because he’s a bit protective of me.”

“But why? He cares nothing for humans.”

“I’m barely human. How long has it been since you’ve seen him?”

Liesl answered this time. “182 years. He mentioned Pam? Does he still hear from her?”

I was about to tell her that she’d have to get some news from him when Eric interrupted by sending to me. “Lover, it’s fine for you to answer. I’d like to see how they are with you. I’ll loft for a time.”

“You’re calming down.”

“If Treza hadn’t called you a Malakia, I wouldn’t have gotten so angry.”

“Is there anything you want me to omit?”

“No. We will more than likely be taking them home with us.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too. I’ll answer whatever questions you have. I promise.”

“I know.”

Hopefully, I didn’t seem simple while Eric and I had our back and forth… “Pam lives with us.”

“Pamela? Still lives with Master?”

I nodded. “She is his Lieutenant.”

“And you live with him as well?”

I nodded again. “I do. Eric and I are married.”

“Master married a human?”

“Master and I were bonded first. And I told you, I’m barely human.”

“What are you?”

“Mostly Fae and Were with some Dae, witch and human mixed in. I am a Regent Justice on the Supernatural Counsel.”

They shared a round of looks again before Treza took a turn. “We don’t know what that is.”

“The breeds here have banded together to form a legislative branch of government to ease the burden of the human administration.”

“And you are a judge without a breed?”

“Yes. I am Supreme Mystical Judicial Regent. I oversee the cases involving more than one race since I am all of them.”

“All of them except vampire.”

I raised my eyebrow at her. “Oh, I’m very vampirey when I need to be and just because I’m not a vampire yet, doesn’t mean that I won’t be one day.”

“You pledged to be turned by Master?”

I nodded with a smile. “One day.”

“Why wait?”

I swept my hand through the air dismissively. “There’s no rush. I’m immortal as it is and our children are still young enough that they need me.”

“You have children?”

I beamed because I got to brag. “Yes. We have 7, but one of them is borrowed.”

“Master is with you when you have 7 children?”

I giggled. “I have 7 children, thanks to Master.”

They stared at me in disbelief for a long time.

**

Felicia came over with a tray and took my empty glass in trade for a full one and gave the bar’s phone to me. Pam had called.

The phone was barely to my ear before she started. “Sookie! What the fuck?”

“Hey sweetie. Did the kids have fun?”

“They came in at 1:58 and they’d had a blast. You’re turn. What the fuck is going on? You have no idea what the bond feels like right now!”

I giggled. “Uh. Yeah I do and then some. I’m the empath, ‘member?”

“I’m not playing around Sookie.”

“Pam, everything is fine. We’ll be home shortly and you’ll get a full explanation. Okay?”

“Promise me. Promise everything is fine.”

“I can’t do that. Eric is sure that you won’t be happy but there is no danger. THAT, I do promise.”

“I love you, Sookie.” The looks on the women across from me were priceless and I giggled at them.

“I love you too Pam. I’ll see you soon.”

**

When I hung up, I watched Eric emerge from his office and make his way towards us. Felicia swept by and relieved me of the phone without a sound.

“Sookie, you’ve made her sentimental.”

“Eric, I can’t help that everyone loves me.”

“As long as you know who loves you the most.” He leaned over to give me a kiss and his children stood and bowed so he gave them a nod so that they could sit.

“At the moment, I believe it’s Felicia. She’s being very attentive.”

He chuckled and it was great to see his humor had come back to him. “Our Dae enjoyed the night out?”

I nodded. “Immensely, but I didn’t get the chance to ask about the little ones before Pam jumped on my shit about our moods. She’s very worried.”

“If you had told her, she would have had the time to calm down before we get home.”

“You mean she would have taken things out on Alcide.”

He smiled a little wider. “I guess you’re right. Hunter and Manen are fine. He sent to me. Pam’s worry woke him up and they are anxious to meet their ‘aunts’.”

That explained his improved mood. He ‘talked’ to the kids. Jerk.

“Don’t be jealous, Lover. He only sent to me because Pam was worried about my mood. It seems that you are stone again.”

I smiled at him and dropped my shields. “Oops. I didn’t even realize I’d done it. Would you like me to go home to give you some time?”

He tilted his head a hair and I could tell that he was surprised that I’d offer to leave him alone with his harem of busty blue eyed blondes. He smirked at me and then turned to the others. “What did you rent?”

Keva gave him a nod. “It’s an SUV of some kind, Master.”

“We can ride back together then.” He looked down at me and held out his hand. “Are you ready?”

I smiled as I slid my hand into his, standing up. “I am now.”

**

Eric’s children were appalled when he had me sit in the front seat next to him, making them wedge into the back seat together. I have to admit, I thought it was a little silly too since one of them would have fit in the front with us. But Eric was sending a message to them about my position. I got that, so I dropped it.

“Is the reason for Pam being angry about this easy to explain?”

He nodded. “I imagine you could call it sibling rivalry. They treated her badly when they met her. Because I favor her, I believe.”

I could handle that. I was worried that they’d been disloyal or generally ill-behaved.

“Lover? Is that all you want to ask?”

I smiled at him. “For now.”

He smiled at the road, surprised again.

**

When we stopped in the driveway, I could feel Pam and Alcide heading out to us. I quickly turned to the children. “Stay here while I go pave the way…” Treza and Mischa both looked angry about getting an order from me. “Before you say something else that’ll get the shit slapped out of you, you need to realize something. I can physically keep you from getting out of the car. Please just cooperate as a courtesy.”

Eric added to it. “As your maker, her orders are mine. I WILL punish you for disobeying Sookie.”

Damn. He didn’t need to do that. They would have just yielded because he didn’t disagree. Eric started chuckling at my thought. I leaned over and kissed him. “Stay out of my head.”

He kissed me back. “No.”

**

Eric opted to stay in the car and bask in their reaction to Pam. Asshole.

I slowly walked towards the garage and was hit like a ton of bricks when Pam came charging out and jumped up to tackle hug me and bury her face in my neck. Alcide was right behind her and kissed my forehead from behind her.

“I was so worried. You and Eric were having fun and adding chapters to the Kama Sutra and then, suddenly, you were scared and he was furious then your bond went empty. I didn’t know what to do. What did he do?”

“We had company barge in.”

“Who could have made him so mad?”

“When they came in, they assumed I was a fangbanger and called me as much.”

“They?”

“A blast from the bast.”

She looked like she was going to be sick and cringed. “From where?”

I wrapped my arms a little tighter and held her closer. “Most recently… Wales.”

She groaned, “Oh fuck! Sookie!” She buried her face in my neck again. She thought that we were comforting each other, not at all realizing how one sided the hug was. She needed it much more than I did.

Alcide looked confused when our eyes met over Pam’s shoulder.

“Four of Eric’s children showed up tonight. They’d been living in seclusion in Wales and didn’t know he’s king until they checked in with Nicki so they thought they’d stop by.”

He gave me his ‘sorry for you’ face and put his arms around the both of us. “What are we dealing with?”

“After Treza mistook me for Malakia and Eric broke her arm flinging her across the room, I don’t think they’ll get too far out of line.”

“He broke her arm?”

“Yeah, but he let me heal it. I took them downstairs and gave him some quiet time. He’s in a much better mood now.” I kissed Pam’s neck and whispered for her to look at me. “Pammy, what are you worried about?”

“Nothing. I just hate them. They’re cunts.”

I laughed and set her on her feet. “And you haven’t seen your ‘big sisters’ since you were 70. You are a powerful American Vampire with position and standing and they have been stuck in the Carmarthen Bay for the last 30 years doing nothing more interesting than glamouring the occasional pet to play practical jokes on the locals. If they act like bitches, put them in their place.”

“I know. It’s not like I’m going to go hide while they’re here. I just hate them. They are stuck on the old ways and gave me a hard time about staying current.”

**

Eric could tell that Pam was calming down so he slowly climbed out of the car, with his children timidly following suit.

Alcide started chuckling. “I bet a grand that Sookie kills one.”

Pam threw her head back and laughed. “What are the odds on two!?”

I gasped and gave Alcide a shove.

“WHAT!? Exes don’t have much shelf life around you! They drop like flies!”

Alcide and Pam put arms around each other’s backs and formed a united front while we all laughed.

**

Eric stood in the driveway and watched his children unload their own baggage. I found it more than a little odd. I’d seen him look like Pam’s bellhop before, without being asked. He was normally a door holding gentleman, but I couldn’t find any part of him that was happy to see them. I suppose that would be my other question when we talked later. As it was, we were under attack. Manen and Hunter were on the way out with Angela.

The kids leapt into Eric arms without any hesitation and he was smiling from ear to ear in an instant. Mischa was so surprised that she dropped a suitcase. After a quick introduction, he sent the kids back to bed telling them that they could visit with the company tomorrow after they rise… “But you need to get your rest now so that we don’t look sleepy in the family portrait. Plus, Momma is taking us to see our new project after breakfast.”

As they both ran back into the house, Eric’s mood darkened again until he spotted Angela- his ‘youngest’. He smiled at her and gave her a wink as he led everyone over to our small group and started introductions.

“Keva, Liesl, Treza, Mischa… you remember Pamela…” The five of them snarled at each other while they exchanged insincere bows.

“This is my youngest vampire child, Angela McCourt…” Angela waved at them and smiled. They stared at her, pissing Eric off. He put his arm around her and she snuggled into his side making all of their jaws drop.

“And this is my best friend Alcide Herveaux. He and I are the heads of this house. Anything you say or do will be because one of us allow you.” Alcide smiled his friendly grin and gave them a nod.

That was when I realized that Treza must have had tourettes syndrome. “You’ll have us take orders from a Were!?”

The rest of us were amused, but Eric was humorless. “An order from him, is an order from me and I suggest you behave towards your sister since she is his.”

Treza turned to Pam. “You took a Were as a lover?!”

Pam sneered back. “Technically, he takes me.”

Alcide and I laughed and he gave her butt a slap.

**

We led them all inside and Eric instructed his children to sit at the kitchen table.

I went over to him and stretched up to kiss his cheek. “I’m putting them in Air and Fire. I’m going to go put their things in their rooms.”

“But them all in Fire. They’ll be fine with doubling up. When will Anastasia be arriving?”

“Saturday night. Margaux is very grateful that you want her.”

“I need to call her and thank her. It isn’t everyday a Vampire lets go of their favorite Child. I find myself honored that she offered her to us.”

I giggled. “The first time that I talked to her, Margaux told me that she was a ‘fan’ of yours.” I kissed his cheek and went upstairs to change.

**

I grabbed a pair of Eric’s black silk boxers and rolled them down until they were barely resting on my hips and then put on a wife beater and headed back downstairs.

Eric, Pam and Alcide were lined up and Eric was giving them the rundown of how our family works. I didn’t want to interrupt, so I walked right over to the collection of baggage and picked up as much as I could to pop out to the guest house. Then back. I made three trips back and forth with their luggage and my fourth trip was with a case of ‘doctored’ O neg for their fridge and then I joined them in the kitchen. I grabbed a beer and hopped up to sit on the counter as a bystander. Pam noticed me. She came over and leaned between my knees, resting her hands on my knees so I kissed the side of her neck. Alcide and Eric still stood over the four Children with their arms folded across their chests until they were done explaining.

I leaned over and whispered into Pam’s ear. “Come with me to settle our sisters into their room.”

We kissed both of our guys on our way. When we got to the guest room, we showed them where everything was kept and they all quietly thanked us for our hospitality. It only took a few minutes to show them where everything was and as soon as we were done, I popped the two of us back to the kitchen.

Eric went over to Pam and hugged her without a word before he took my hand and led me to our room.

**

He quietly pulled his clothes off and slid between the sheets so I followed, snuggling into his side. It was just before 4 am and it had been a long day. Even if I didn’t need sleep per se, I wanted it.

I had almost drifted off. “Lover?”

“Hmmm?”

“I told you a lie.”

“When?”

“I knew they were still walking.”

“Technically, you skirted the subject. Do you know of more?”

“Four.” That surprised me, but the average was roughly one Child each century.

“Those four are all the same age though.”

“Exactly. What do you want to know?”

“There isn’t any part of you that’s happy to see them. Why?”

“I hate them.”

“Are you going to tell me why?”

“They were a punishment.” Oh my God!

I turned and propped myself up to look at him. “They were how Sophie-Anne punished you?”

He nodded. “I had been tortured for turning a few times before… There was a battle and one of the men I was fighting against fought well and fell during the fight. I thought that he would be even more impressive of a fighter as a vampire, so I turned him. She wasn’t interested in my reason for turning him. She had Andre collect them and bring them to me since I wanted to be a maker so badly, as he told me. While I was with them, Andre executed Duncan. I was Pam’s age.”

I laid back down and gave his ribs a hug. “I’m sorry.” I started stroking his chest. “Were the other four punishments too?”

“No. I turned them for the same reason that I turned Duncan. One at a time. I know you’ll meet them eventually, but was hoping you’d meet the ones I’m proud of first.”

“Why are they like that? Like a harem? They aren’t like Pam.”

“That’s my fault. I never had any more than a maker/child relationship with them. We were never friends. I’ve never liked their company. They were all about 16 and wanted a family and children when it happened. I felt guilty. The others were grateful because they had fallen in battle and would have died. Pam just wanted to escape societal constraints. The others were ‘raised’ the old way.”

“It’s ok. You know I’m not upset, right?”

He squeezed me a little tighter than usual and stayed quiet.

“Eric, tell me about the ones you’re proud of. Where are they?”

“Hjalmar is in Malmo, Sweden. Savion is in Bilbao. Gregory is in Berlin and Straus is in London.” That really didn’t tell me anything about them… Unless…

“You son of a bitch!”

I sat up and looked back to see him smiling like a Cheshire cat. “What?”

“Your children are the kings of more than half of Europe!”

He shrugged. “I couldn’t just leave the area when I got bored. I had to turn it over to someone. When they were ready, I gave them the throne and moved on. Except Straus. He took the UK on his own.”

I did my Eric impersonation. “European allies…” I narrowed my eyes at him. “Indeed!”

He started laughing. “Lover…”

I cut him off when something hit me. “Eric, is that all of them?”

He got serious. He could tell that I was working something over in my head. “You know about all of my living children. Yes.”

“There’s 11 of them.”

“You’re very preoccupied with these numbers, Sookie.”

“Eric, when Diantha and Daveigh leave for college next fall…”

He rolled his eyes.“Rhys and Kerrick will take their place. Our nest will number eleven still.”

“The fact that you were and one of your children is the King of the Basque country where eleven and infinite are the same word is something that even you noticed…”

“And January 1st is a significant day for us. When we started and when we reunited. One, one.”

“Eric, you’re 11 centuries old and when the ‘Round Table’ formed, Alcide was 29 and Pam was 254. 2 plus 9 is 11. 2 plus 5 plus 4 is 11.”

He smiled at me. “I’ll bet the boys are born on the first of October.”

As much as we wanted to sleep, we stayed up until sunrise discussing all of the damn 11s in our lives. As it turns out, I met Alcide 11 weeks after I met Eric. To the day.

2 thoughts on “Chapter 8

  1. Kristie Yamber says:

    I love the new additions i hope you write more for them i noticed you said you only had two chapters after chapter 10, i hope you revise that and give us more. Plus like the others i want to know about Joe’s visit. and the new hotel….. plus the babies yet to come. my best kristie

  2. loveallsvmtb says:

    i l ove this chapter. i to gope that you will someday write moew on this story. it is one of my all time favorites. thanks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s