Chapter 9

Dependent

Sookie’s POV

Thursday, September 9th….

“Eric, they’re laying in bed talking.”

He went quiet for a minute. “I don’t hear them.”

I giggled at him. “Not Erika and Dagny, the valley of the blondes.”

He grumped when I mentioned them. “They’re old enough that they can be up for a while as long as they’re not in the light.”

“I figured. What are the rules?”

“Rules?”

“How do you prefer that I interact with them? Do you want me to be grumpy and superior like you, or should I be your pet when they’re around? What part am I playing as hostess?”

He tightened his grip around me. “You’re taking this very well.”

I gave him a smooch and ignored the ‘compliment’. It wasn’t like I had a choice. Being his wife for 5 months doesn’t erase that he’s been their maker for nearly 800 years. “Well? The rules?”

He rolled his eyes, frustrated that I hadn’t let him avoid the topic. “You are my wife. My equal. So you will not act as my pet. Feel free to act like you usually do.”

“As long as I am not too friendly.”

He gave me a serious look and then an equally severe nod.

I gave him a kiss and rolled over to get dressed. “I’m going to go check on them and do my run before breakfast.”

“Do you think you need to?”

I shook my head while I dug through my drawers for under things and my workout clothes. “No, but I’m on day 3 and I’m worried not to. How are you doing? Are the wake-ups keeping you going?”

“I’m surprised to say yes. They’re getting stronger too. I can’t tell the difference between sleeping and a recharge anymore.”

I smiled on my way to my closet to get my outfit for the day. “It might sound silly, but I want to sleep. I don’t feel like I need to, I just want to.”

His voice was further away. He’d gotten up and gone to his closet. “We should be home early enough.”

I gave him a wake-up and a kiss before I did the popping that I needed to do.

**

I’d startled them when I knocked on the door frame of the room. “Hey ladies.”

They were all laying in bed on their sides spooned up to each other. They stared up at me in shock, and Keva spoke first from the middle of the bed. “Good morning, Mistress.”

I smiled at her and went to sit on the foot of the bed. “Eh. When Eric isn’t around, just call me Sookie. How are you settling in?”

“Just fine. Thank you.”

She didn’t seem very sincere. “Liar. What’s wrong?”

They all stared at me for a minute and Liesl nudged Keva to get her to answer me before answering for her. “Master isn’t fond of us. He is disappointed that we are here.”

I snorted at her answer. “It’s not like you gave him any warning. We are starting a new project and we have company coming. You should know that he doesn’t like surprises.”

“He wouldn’t be pleased with our visit had we given him notice either. He’s never been fond of us.” She sounded almost abandoned when she spoke.

I wanted to cry. “Well, Eric’s a lot different than he was when I met him a couple years ago. We’ll see what we can do about that. Can I get you anything that’ll make you more comfortable? Do you have enough pillows? That kind of thing.”

Treza almost smiled at me. “We are very comfortable, Mistress. Thank you.”

I gave them all a smile before I popped out to the yard to start my run.

**

When I got back to the house, Eric was sitting in the lounge with his laptop. He was showered and dressed and ready for the day. I blew him a kiss on my way to the shower.

When I got out I put on my orange strapless pushup bra and panties, orange maxi dress with spaghetti straps and a pair of wood wedge sandals. They were nude with orange accents, but the best part was that they gave me another 5 inches because of the platform. They made me feel like a giant.

I went straight to the kitchen and started putting breakfast together. I was in the mood for Mexican, but I didn’t want to wait until dinner so I was making huevos rancheros. Eric was being very quiet, but in his defense, we did spend 3 hours talking and to be honest, I was disappointed in him for the way he treated his ‘children’. I felt miserably sympathetic for them and my empathy was probably fueling the flames on the matter.

Once breakfast was well on its way and the coffee was perking, I decided to break the silence.

“I guess I’ll go shopping after Alfred leaves.”

He didn’t look up from his screen. “Shopping for what?”

“I doubt they have anything that would be appropriate for Fangtasia. They’d embarrass you in linen and wool. I’ll take care of it though.”

“Why would they go to Fangtasia?”

“I wouldn’t think you’d want to leave them at the house with the kids. I figured you’d take them along.”

“I don’t want them in public.” Still not looking at me.

That was just shitty. I didn’t say anything though. I just continued to make breakfast feeling more sorry for them. As much as I didn’t like how he was handling things, it wasn’t my place to be an armchair quarterback. I even reinforced my shields so that he wouldn’t be bothered. Which is a good thing. As soon as I did, I realized what I was going through to keep from arguing with my husband and it pissed me off. Sometimes knowing your place is a bitter pill to swallow.

**

I was really starting to fume, even getting frustrated that Alcide had slept in and wasn’t able to help me not think about the elephant in the room.

“Lover, you’ve blocked yourself again.” He said it so matter-of-factly that I wanted to throw something at him, but it wasn’t his fault. Not entirely.

“I know.”

That got his attention. He was in front of me with a questioning look in a blink. “Why? I’m the only one awake.”

I maneuvered around him to get to the fridge. “I’m aware.”

“What would you be blocking from me?”

I bit my tongue. “Just thinking.”

“Just lying. Tell me.” If he were being a jerk, I probably would have slapped him in the face with what I was really thinking, but he was behaving in more of a penny-for-your-thoughts way. I would have thought it was cute under different circumstances.

“I don’t think so.”

His mood became more serious. “Why not?”

“Because you probably don’t want to know.”

He stared at me, folding his arms over his chest. “What did they say to you?”

“It wasn’t anything they needed to say.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

I huffed. “Just drop it, Eric. It isn’t my place to say anything.”

“You’re right about that.” There it was. There was the low blow that I expected. Knowing that something isn’t any of my business is one thing but being told just pisses me off. I was proud of myself though. I rose above the urge to tell him what was spinning around in my head and kept my mouth shut.

He went back to the couch and picked his laptop back up. I could feel the frustration pouring out of him as well as I could feel him making an effort to seem unaffected.

I went back to putting breakfast together, praying that Alcide would be up soon.  Or the girls. Or anyone for that matter.

**

All of a sudden, Eric’s laptop went sailing through the air and exploded into a million pieces against the fireplace.

It felt like I was watching the pieces fall to the floor in slow motion. Little black rain drops.

“I hope you backed up recently.” I didn’t mean to say it. I knew as soon as it slipped out of my mouth that it was not the best thing to have said.

Before I realized he was off the couch, he was in front of me again. “You promised no more secrets.” He wasn’t yelling, in spite of how much he wanted to.

I stayed calm. As mad as I was, as ridiculous as I thought he was being, I took a deep breath and chilled myself out. “This isn’t a secret. It’s a feeling. As much as I want to stay something, I’m keeping my nose out of it because it’s none of my business.”

He stood in front of me, doing his best to lock down. “Fine. Now that we’ve established that it’s none of your concern, what are your feelings in regards to?”

“Eric…”

“Sookie, I don’t care about anyone’s opinion. No one but yours. I want to know. Are you angry that they are here?”

“No.”

“Then what? You’ve never done this to me before. Not purposefully. I hate it.”

“I feel sorry for them.”

“You feel sorry for them?”

I nodded. “I know I’ve only just met them, but they don’t seem so bad. They’ve seen you give kingdoms to other children and they smelled you on Pam last night. You’ve spent the last 750 years hating the object of your punishment instead of the source of it. It isn’t their fault. It wasn’t their idea. This was Andre and Sophie-Anne and I have a strong feeling it was much more Andre. Those women are hurt that you hate them and other than being the type Andre was shopping for, they haven’t done anything to deserve how you treat them… You have a heart whether you care to admit it or not and you ARE an amazing friend, father, husband and maker… To everyone but them. I felt their pain and it would have been much nicer for you to have staked them centuries ago. There. I told you that you didn’t want to know.” Having the weight off my chest was fleeting.

His arms dropped to his sides and for a split second, I thought he might hit me. He stared at me for what felt like forever and then stormed off towards the garage. I expected to hear his car squeal out, but he came right back with the broom and the dust pan. I watched him move the couches, the end tables, the rug… and he swept up the bits of plastic and glass that used to be his laptop.

I waited. He’d blocked me out too. I wasn’t sure if he was regrouping for his volley or if he was planning how to send them away as quickly as possible. When he was done, he disappeared into his office and shut the door.

Great. Technically it wasn’t a fight though. Right? We never raised our voices and neither of us were angry, just frustrated… I guess I had that going for me.

**

Alcide finally came downstairs and knew right away that something was wrong, but unlike Eric, when I told him that I didn’t want to talk about it he respected that and opted to talk about the day ahead of us instead.

“That’s it? Touring the country club and having pictures done, then a couple cases at the bar? Cake walk!”

“YOU ASSHOLE!” I was only half joking.

He started laughing. “I didn’t jinx it!”

“Yes you did! My phone is about to get blown up! I give it 10 minutes.”

“I can’t believe you, YOU are so superstitious! For God sakes, Sookie. Come on. Look at our life.”

I jokingly scowled and wagged my finger at him. “Mark my words, Herveaux. You jinxed me.”

He kept laughing and shook his head.

**

9 and a half minutes later, I was in the middle of pulling Alcide’s hair back when my phone started ringing.

“I TOLD YOU SO!” I jumped down and walked over to answer it.

“Morning Jas. What’s up?”

“Sook, I need you over here. NOW.” I could hear Janice sobbing in the background and Jason sounded choked.

“Where?”

“Living room’s empty.”

I looked up to Alcide and the color had drained from his face, having heard his sister. “I’ll keep you posted.”

He nodded. I popped.

**

The sounds of sobbing were coming from down the hall. I found Janice on her knees in front of the crib in her nightgown… rocking, sobbing, and holding a baby.

Jason was crouched down in front of her. He was telling her ‘Sookie will fix her, Sookie will figure it out’ and my heart was in my throat instantly. It wasn’t until then that I realized the baby she was holding was limp.

“Jas?”

He jumped out of the way as I dove to the floor on my knees. Janice looked up at me and sobbed, “Sookie… we found her…” and then she started to hyperventilate.

I looked over my shoulder at Jason, cuing him to take over. “We came in when the others woke up and found her like that.”

She looked like she was sleeping. A little angel in her little white gown with an ‘A’ monogrammed on the shoulder and little spirals of black hair, long lashes resting on her cheeks. I reached my arms out to take her from Janice, and my heart sank. Her body was almost as cold as Eric’s, even through her gown I could feel it. I started weeping right along with Janice.

There’s no way to detach yourself when you find yourself holding the lifeless body of a newborn. Believe me. I tried.

I did my best to gather myself. I’d managed to bring Eric back from wherever he was headed when his head was crushed with what equals a telephone pole… I put my hand on her chest, covering the tiny thing and put as much into finding the problem as I ever had and didn’t realize that I’d been holding my breath until I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

I opened my eyes and Janice was staring at me, un-breathing. “You can’t feel the difference between them can you?”

The puzzled look on her face answered me.

“This isn’t Dell. This is Jackie. You mixed them up.” I closed my eyes and pushed into her, calming her and letting her know that she was safe. Unlike when she was born, this time she resisted slightly. I guess you could say that I was trying to get her to come back into herself.

I felt her little legs draw up slightly from their wilted dangle so I opened my eyes and told her ‘welcome back’. She cooed at me as I handed her back to Janice and slumped back into the floor. My butt hadn’t hit the floor before I was yanked up and crushed with a hug from Jason.

He cried out of sheer relief and it took us all a while to calm ourselves down.

**

“Sook, how did you get her back? What power did you use?”

I had to think about it. I wiped the tears from my face, then my brother’s. “Uh… I used the remote viewing to find her and then the empathy to let her know it was safe and calm. I guess. Why would she take off? Did you guys fight or something?”

He looked a little embarrassed and nodded, but he tried to laugh it off. “I guess we can’t do that, huh.”

I snorted. “No. I guess not. The next time this happens, if you can’t get her back on your own, I’ll take the power from her and then y’all can practice on me. K? Y’all have got to go to the mall and get their ears pierced with different studs so we can tell them apart.”

He gave me a grateful nod.

“Janie, you need to practice your powers. You aren’t Fae so you aren’t as strong. Go to the grocery store and commit random acts. Calm down crying babies, cheer up grumpy cashiers. Y’all go to a movie, see if you can make people cry during a comedy. Stuff like that, K. You can’t get stronger if you don’t practice. The remote viewing too. Do a mental walk through the house to start with, then start ‘walking through the neighborhood’ to see how far you can push the ability.”

She was clutching Jackie to her when she quietly nodded.

They were quiet for a minute before Jas gave me a look. “Sook, why does she need to see how far she can go? How far did Jackie get?”

“She was in our den.”

Their jaws dropped.

I forced a sympathetic smile. “She was safe there for the last couple of months. It makes sense… I need to get home. Alcide was with me when I got your call. He’s freaking out.”

I popped home before they were done thanking me.

**

Alcide was pacing the floor in the lounge when I got home. His arms folded up and his fists were white. I started crying again as soon as I saw him. The kids were eating breakfast, Tobin and Jordie were at the table with them, but I didn’t spend a second thinking about them. I went over to him and hugged myself to his ribs. “Everything is fine now. Just give me a minute.”

He scooped me up and sat down on the couch with me for a few minutes until I had it in me to tell him what happened and how horrible it was to hold her limp body, not knowing. He held onto me and stroked my arm until I was done and the room sat in silence while I rallied my resolve.

“Shug… Feel free to beat the shit out of me the next time I jinx you.”

I laughed, grateful for the joke. “What makes you think I’m letting you wait for next time?”

“I deserve it. I’m sorry.”

Hunter came over and quietly stacked himself on my lap where I was sitting on Alcide. “Momma, I can try to help. ‘Cause I can ‘talk’ to babies.”

I smiled at him and hugged his head to my chest, petting his hair. “That’s sweet, baby. What kind of approach do you think will help?”

“She’s gonna get scared and hide sometimes. Maybe if I can figure out what makes her feel safest, it could get her back easier.”

“That sounds like a good idea, Hunter. Thank you.” I wasn’t sure if it would work, but it couldn’t hurt for him to try.

“You said she was cold.”

I started to cry again. “She was.”

“That can’t be good for her body. She’s not immortal like Erika and Dagny. She should be careful.”

Alcide and I both stopped breathing. “Immortal?” In unison.

He looked up and smiled at me when he nodded. “They’re Fae-Pire Weres.”

“Hunter, are you power sensing?”

He shrugged and gave me a weak nod. That would explain why he’s always had a grasp on my powers. Sophie-Anne’s blood must have activated more of his Fae heritage then we originally thought. “I don’t have to touch people like you do though, I can just feel it. Like it’s in their heads.”

Shit. “Do you know that Daddy is immortal too?”

He nodded and Alcide and I shared a look.

**

Holy shit. I needed to talk to Eric. Alcide and I finished with Hunter and we went to the office.

I knocked on the office door and cracked it. “Eric, I know you want to be alone right now, but we need to talk.”

“Sookie…” He was using his grumpy voice.

“You’re completely blocking everyone. Something happened.”

That got his attention and I could feel him open back up and as he was hit with the mood in the house his face looked pained. “Sookie?”

I didn’t bother sitting down as I explained what happened with Jackie, crying again, and then about my conversation with Hunter. He was stoic the whole way through my narrative and when I was done he sat quiet for a few minutes.

“…This is too much, Eric. Our daughters are immortal,  I haven’t slept in three days and I held a dead baby today and…”

“Sookie, knowing that they are immortal doesn’t change anything, it will just help us understand things in the future. And you only thought Jackie was dead. They should mark her somehow so that she doesn’t scare you like that again.”

I was still frustrated with him, but damn if I didn’t appreciate how much we were on the same page sometimes. “I told them to take them to the mall and get their ears pierced with different style earrings.”

He gave me a half smile and nodded. “Alcide, could you give us a minute?”

I almost didn’t want to hear what he had to say. I knew he asked Alcide to leave so that we could talk about what happened earlier. I started bracing myself the moment he spoke and tried to steel myself as Alcide left the room, closing the door behind himself.

**

Eric stood up and walked over to me slowly. “Thank you.”

You could have knocked me over with a feather. That was not what I expected to hear. “What for?”

“Telling me what I needed to hear. You’re right.”

I was so surprised that I couldn’t make myself close my gaping mouth.

“I’ve been unfair to them for too long. Ending them would have been charitable in comparison.”

I was still speechless.

He smirked at me. “This is one for the record books, I suppose. Not only am I admitting to being wrong, but you can’t think of anything to say.”

I snickered. “Asshole.”

He smiled at me. “I need that. I need you to tell me when I’m being an asshole.”

“I promise. I always have. It’s just not often that you seem to want to be told.”

He nodded. “That is usually when I need to be told the most.”

I smiled at the simple truth of his statement and decided to change the subject. “Are you still in the mood to go to…”

“The country club?” He gave me a toothy grin.

I smiled back at him, relieved that our fence had been mended. “I like it when you get excited.”

He licked his lips and his eyes darted as he scanned my body and took a step closer. “Do you?”

I slapped his shoulder and started giggling. “Not like that you horny damn vampire!”

He wrapped his arm around my back and started playfully biting my neck and I had to fight him off. Literally. He didn’t let me win. I had to use my powers to push him back.

**

By the time we came out of the office, the rest of the house was empty. When I sent to Alcide to ask what was going on, he and Pam had taken all of the kids out to the barn to saddle up and go for a ride. Pam had finally found an excuse to use the silk slings that Queen Noelani of Hawaii gave us as shower gifts. Alcide informed me that ‘woods are woods’ and ‘Pam’s fun isn’t built yet’ so they’d wait.

Once we were on the way to the property, I decided to bring it up. “Eric, we’ve got to stop arguing. They’re avoiding us.”

“They need to man up. We’re going to disagree from time to time. It’s going to happen and we always work it out.”

“I know that, but other than the noise from your laptop breaking, I’ve cloaked every bit of our disagreements. It’s Pam and Alcide who don’t like it.”

“That is because of their loyalties though.”

“You mean Alcide being mine and Pam being yours?”

“More specifically, when they don’t agree with their own maker’s side of the argument.” Hmmm. Alcide and I would have to talk later.

“That can’t be the case this morning though. I wouldn’t tell Alcide when he asked.”

“It’s possible that he thought you were upset about my other children. Since you didn’t tell him anything, it forced him to use his imagination. I know that he was on ‘my side’ when we fought about the resort.”

I let out a wry chuckle. “Really?”

He gave me a stiff nod. “He doesn’t like that you are always busy either.”

Turds. It all comes down to them not giving me the chance to explain before they overreact. Men.

He laughed at my train of thought. “You’ve completely dropped your shields?”

“Yup. You asked for it.”

He cocked his eyebrow and ran his tongue over his lip. “This should be interesting.”

**

Since the Country Club (as it was) was closing its doors on Sunday, they were relatively busy with visitors ‘saying goodbye’ and a few news vans to cover the closing of an ‘elite local club’. It seemed to escape the media that most of the members had the $11,000,000 asking price in their trust funds. The moody bon voyagers wouldn’t stroke a check to keep the doors open because they knew it would be a bad move to stay in business. Unless of course, they were to just invest a little more and remarket it. Obtuse idiots. I caught myself thinking like vampire again at the same time I realized that I’d just thought of 11 million dollars like it was pocket change and shot a dirty look at Eric for ‘turning me’.

He laughed as he stepped out of the car, making room for the valet. He was proud of himself for bringing me around to his way of thinking. Turd. I stuck my tongue out at him, but we were both distracted by the ‘holy shit’ thoughts by the 2 nearby reporters when they recognized us. We quickly made our way into the lobby. We knew we’d have to deal with them when we left, but if we stuck around they’d get us coming and going.

When we asked for Director Levine, the snob behind the Welcome Desk acted as though she was the only person in the world to ever lose their job to an aching economy. I could care less that she was upset that she was going to be unemployed in a few days since the true source of her attitude problem was Eric. More specifically, how good he looked in a white shirt with rolled up sleeves. So of course, she had plenty of charm for him. Pam had taught me a thing or two about appreciating irony though. A certain type of woman would have a stream of thought that included my estimation as a ‘fangbanger’ along with a catalog of sexual positions starring themselves with Eric. Now that he reads minds, his ego would never improve. Never ever.

**

I’d spoken to Levine when I called to make the appointment for our tour and he approached me with an extended hand and a bright smile. He was dressed in a nice, well fitted suit and had his nails and medium brown hair well trimmed. He looked very professional… He thought I was prettier than the pictures he’d seen when he researched us on the internet… He thought Eric was too… But mostly he was hoping to make a good impression because he really wanted to get offered a position when we reopen. Unfortunately for him, he was 100% human…

“King and Queen Northman! I’m Brian Levine. How wonderful to meet you in person. Welcome.”

Eric surprised him when he shook his hand. “I hope this isn’t an inconvenience. I’m grateful for the tour.”

“Not a problem at all, sir. Where would you like to start?”

“The clubhouse is my primary concern. I care nothing for golf.”

Levine wandered around, chatting away, describing room after room. He took us through the kitchens of each restaurant and the gym. He told us about the new pool. He told us about the billiards and game tables in the game room. He showed us the suite of 6 offices that all looked heavy with all of the dark wood. Even the two offices with windows seemed light tight. Eric’s lack of manners allowed him to compliment my ideas for the redecorating of the spaces. He called the interior of the clubhouse ‘pretentious in a waspy way’. He was right, but the dirty look I gave him was for saying it out loud. The walls were all covered in dark wood panels, dark wood wainscoting or outdated wallpaper. The wallpaper for the whole building was all burgundy, navy blue or hunter green (or a dreary combination of them). It looked like a lawyer’s office, even the bars. We’d been introduced to several of the staff along the tour and unfortunately almost every one of them were just as human as the Director. Sadly, several of them were put off when they recognized Eric too.

As our tour winded down, Director Levine invited us to one of the bars for a drink so that he might answer any questions we might have. It was a friendly gesture even if it was slightly ambitious, so Eric accepted.

Eric only touched his true blood to accept it from the waitress, but Levine and I sipped our coffees happily.

“If you don’t mind my asking, Majesty, if you don’t enjoy the game, why are you interested in the Country Club?”

Eric gave me a look over his shoulder so I let him know that when Mr. C filed the paperwork this morning we were the only ones interested in the property. “Our intent is to open a Resort. Goff will be but an option.”

The poor guy looked excited. “Really? What type of amenities do you plan on adding?”

“The pool will need to be improved. It’s aesthetically boring. We’ll be adding a marina so that the lake can be utilized and of course accommodations for guests.”

“Wow. You know, the current owners tried to get zoning for a marina a few years back and couldn’t get it.”

Eric twitched his eyebrow in my direction and I gave him a wink. He smiled over at Levine. “We’ve taken care of the red tape on the matter.”

I ‘heard’ Levine thinking that it must be nice to have extra money sitting around for bribes… “King Northman, I feel like I should ask… The staff got really excited to hear that the property was being purchased. They are hoping to be able to keep their jobs. Of course, I’d like to as well. Is that a possibility?”

I watched Eric try to put the news together nicely. Of all the things we disagreed about, his lack of sugar coating things was the biggest slice of the pie chart and over the past few months he’d started doing his best since he was forced into dealing with humans so much more often. “Mr. Levine, we are closing the doors to the club for the months it will take to build and remodel. It would behoove most of the staff to seek permanent employment elsewhere. The groundskeepers will be offered the option to keep their positions until we reopen to maintain the course. We won’t have the need for the rest of the staff when we reopen since we will be catering to more exclusive clientele.”

He nodded thoughtfully for a moment and then his eyes widened. He sat forward in his seat and whispered. “Are you going to be Supe exclusive?”

Eric gave him a guarded nod.

“Just vampire or all of you?”

“Mr. Levine…”

“I’m just human, but I was engaged to Were. I know about a few others from working here.”

Eric gave him another nod. “All of us.” We had a sent conversation before he continued. “Mr. Levine, we have already made arrangements for another Director. However she has no experience with hospitality management. Would you consider the job of training her? Once our doors open, I can offer you a position at the Belle since that caters to both Supe and Human alike.”

“So you intend to staff the Resort with all Supes?”

Eric nodded.

“I can do that. What is she?”

“Vampire.”

“You’ll need someone else too. Someone for days. You might want to find them soon so that I can train them both.”

“Why would we need someone else?”

“This job… I wish I could be in two places… hell, 10 places at once. I might as well not have a house. I’m always here. And most of the action happens during the day. Deliveries and staffing no shows. She’d wake up every night to a phone book sized list of crap that she couldn’t tend to. Your vampire guests would be affected too. If anything happens with True Blood deliveries, housekeeping, maintenance, guest services like personal business, their day guys could get round-housed if there are hitches in operations while she’s dead for the day.”

Eric liked him. He always did like honesty. He pulled out his phone with a grin screwed on tight and programmed in Levine’s number. He told him that we would call him once Anastasia arrived so that we could get together again to start the ball rolling.

**

We did the requisite hand shaking and made our way through the clubhouse. As we stepped into the lobby, we were hit with the reality of the outside world. Standing just outside the front doors were no less than a dozen cameras.

“Shit.”

I giggled at my husband. “You’ve been hanging out with Alcide too much.”

He grimaced at me. “They want to know why we’re here. Should we tell them the whole truth or a partial one?”

I shrugged, even giggled. “Fuck it. Let them do our advertising for us. You’ll have to call Danielle the second we get home and tonight we’ll have to work on the membership contracts to have them ready for all of the requests.”

He turned his head to the director and had him ‘fetch’ the contacts for the Country Club for us to use as a guideline. He disappeared into the long corridor leading back to the business offices. Eric stood there and watched the group notice us and as we stared back at them they calmed down, maybe even got nervous. It was almost funny.

Levine got another thanks and we headed out to the fray.

“…King Northman, King Northman!…” He looked put out, but part of the asshole enjoyed it. Prima donna.

He snorted at me before he started taking questions, explaining that our new business venture would be an exclusive vacation resort and conference center. They were eating it up like they always did. They were especially excited to get business news since he didn’t usually mention it. They quickly moved on to ask about the family.

“King Northman, how are the princesses? Is your family enjoying the additions?”

He smiled uncontrollably. “The twins are wonderful. They’re perfect. We are all very excited to have them home.”

“Since you’re a daywalker is it hard for you to get up for late night feedings? Or did you do the smart thing and glamour them to sleep through the night?”

Eric actually laughed. “No glamouring necessary. They sleep their best at night when the house is quiet. They’ve been waking up to be fed just as we ready for bed and then sleep until morning.”

“Where are they now?”

“When we left to come here, the rest of our family was on their way out for horseback riding. So they are getting some fresh air.”

“Do they enjoy the outdoors?” They acted like they might as well be asking about their own family.

“They seem to like it very much. They even enjoy being in their bassinet poolside.”

“We got reports just yesterday that you were looking into private schools. Are you already concerned about schooling?”

“Always. But it wasn’t my younger children who we were considering. We’re adopting more children.”

The reporters looked back and forth at each other. Most of them looked like they shit their pants. “More children?”

Eric nodded. “Two. A boy and a girl. They are in high school. A common friend pointed them in our direction because their foster home wasn’t suitable for them.”

“What are their names? What are they like?”

He chuckled at the question. “Well, since this is a new situation and the interview wasn’t planned, I haven’t had the opportunity to ask them about their feelings on anonymity. You’ll not get an answer until they chose to give it to you. They are great kids though. Very smart and polite. They are making the adjustment to our home more quickly than we could have hoped.”

“Sookie, 6 kids is a lot. How are you managing?”

I smiled at them. “WE are managing fabulously. I’m pretty sure that Eric paid our new daughter to harangue me into getting a maid finally though.”

Eric smiled at them and shrugged. “All it took was a Sims game. It’s good to have allies.” They all laughed as the valet pulled up with the Corvette. “Now if you’ll excuse us, we have another appointment to get to.”

As we pulled away from the crowd of swooning press, I gave Eric steady stare. “You really are becoming a media whore.”

He was amused to say the least. “I am not. A whore would crave it. But you were right to suggest that I learn to deal with them. It’s getting less galling.”

I sent told-ya-so through the bond.

**

“Making those drawings before I saw the space, was a brilliant idea. If I had seen the clubhouse first, I’d have suggested starting with a wrecking ball. The furnishings, floors and walls make everything look like a law library.”

I nodded. “It’ll be fun to see everything get brightened up a bit.”

“Does the price of the property include the fixtures?”

“Yeah, the furniture too.”

He snarled. “What will we do with it all?”

“Well, the asking is 11. I had Mr. C offer 9.5 to include everything. They have hundreds of banquet tables and chairs and we’ll need those. One less-errand. The toilets, sinks, tile, paneling and cabinetry will happily be carted off by Habitat for Humanity. Tax right-off. The kitchens would be redesigned and fitted so the old stuff will be donated to the area churches with soup kitchens. Tax right-off. The yucky deck furniture by the pool can be donated to the YMCA. Tax right-off. The old workout gear in the gym can be donated to the Fraternal Order Of Police. Generosity of spirit and civic esteem. And I was thinking that before we opened we could auction off the old EZ-Go golf carts for a demolition derby to raise yet more money for a worthwhile charity that we let the media cover. Tax right-off, PR, and fun. Possibly even a charity tournament as part of the opening festivities. You would have to play, but you know damn good and well that if you do, several others will jump at the chance to compete with you and not even think that they’ll be spending a fortune at your pro-shop to do it.”

His head fell back when he laughed. He beamed at me. “I won’t ever understand how you can do that. You only thought of the Resort 3 weeks ago and you’ve already planned out so much.”

“Two weeks ago. I spent a week trying to think of what to do with the property to create Supe jobs.”

He was still smiling at me when he gave his head a little shake. “The landscaping is appalling and I’d like to get rid of the blacktop.”

“Pavers?”

He paused to smile at me. “I think so. Maybe a herringbone pattern?”

I smiled back at him. It really was fun to see him getting so excited over busy work. “I was thinking that we could plant honeysuckle around the property. Have the groundskeepers train it up the gates so they wouldn’t look so austere and a bush variety along the drive. The smell is relaxing and sweet, but not too strong. Even Pam likes it.”

He nodded excitedly. “I like that idea… Have you given any thought to toiletries? Russell swears by the washes and shampoos he used while he was here. We could look into the cost of using that.”

I laughed. “Yes! We can buy commercial quantities very affordably and I found a few places online that we can order our own bottles. I’m waiting for a few quotes… You’re acting like it’s Christmas.”

He took my hand and kissed it. “Oh Lover, it is Christmas. You’ve given me something no other vampire has. You know how greedy I am. First children, now this.”

“Well, don’t go peaking on me. If this goes the right way, in a few years we can look into a Supe exclusive beach resort, ski resort, casino… Who knows.

**

I laid my head back and rested my eyes since it felt like forever since they’d been closed. Eric rattled on happily about ideas he’d had for the resort, making me very happy and adding to my own excitement. I had a sudden thought that broke my mood for a moment, but it did make me laugh.

“Eric, I think I should start meditating.”

“Why?”

“Because I think I might have just brought on a preview.”

“Really?” He sounded curious and cautious.

“It wasn’t bad. But I was resting my eyes and I’m in a good mood and your… merriment is probably a factor.”

“What was it about?”

“A pound dilemma.” He raised his eyebrows at me when I told him he’d find out when we got home. Then he laughed when I caught him trying to get it out of my head.

**

Back at home, the kitchen area was full and Pam excitedly came over to start pumping us for how things went.

Eric nudged me with his elbow. “See lover, I’m not the only one to be excited over the project.”

I shook my head at him. “Pammy, did you get the emails I forwarded this morning?”

She smiled. “Yes. I did. Now how did it go?”

I let Eric answer her while I went to get my laptop so that I could get some work done. I hadn’t done my court work last night and I didn’t want it piling up on me. I must have read 20 cases and judgments before Eric came over and gently closed my laptop.

He sat down next to me. “Lover, Alfred should be here any minute. I explained the press situation to our Dae, called Danielle to get started, and sent everyone upstairs to get dressed. CaSondra called.”

“I was expecting an email from ES. Is something wrong?”

“Not at all. She is coming by later with blueprints and renderings. She said that she’d have something for our designers as well.”

I smiled. “Sweet! But I need to go kick Alcide’s ass.”

He started chuckling. “What did he do?”

I smiled and started to explain that Alcide ‘jinxed’ me while we were on our way upstairs to get dressed for our photo shoot.

**

Half an hour later, Eric and I made our way downstairs with Erika and Dagny. Alcide and Pam were watching Alfred flit around and chirp about lighting and staging. They looked relieved that Eric and I were there to save them, but Alfred kept at them.

It took nearly 2 hours. The 5 older kids were really grateful that the family portrait had been done first, then Alfred got their individual pictures out of the way. They were playing happily in the pool within minutes of being ‘set free’, as Manen put it, leaving the round table in the house with our hyperactive photographer. We had the girls photos taken in the crocheted doily dresses that Gamma had made for them. Then posed them in their crib and Alfred had to be creative, but he managed to get a picture of the girls under their chandelier (with the help of a gravity defiant vampire). Even though Eric pretended to threaten me with fangs, we posed them in their longboats and with their horned beanies on. Not only would Stan be getting a copy, but I’d be keeping one in my wallet.

When Alfred finally packed up, he left with orders to call the Stackhouses about getting their photos done as a baby gift from us and I went straight to the kitchen to make lunch.

I was stacking sandwiches when Eric sidled up behind me, hugging my ribs. “Lover, I think I will go shopping.”

“Really? Golf pants?”

He chuckled in my ear, giving me chills. “For our guests.”

“Seriously?”

“You aren’t going to make me say it again, are you?”

I giggled. “No. I’m just surprised. You don’t have to. I told you that I’d go for you.”

“I think I’ll have Pam go with me. We should discuss things anyway.”

I smiled. “I’m sure they will appreciate the gesture. Have you changed your mind about taking them with us tonight?”

“Yes. I’ll have to tell them how to behave.”

“I doubt that. I’m sure that they will be much better behaved than Pam and me.”

“They need to understand that there are boundaries that Pam is allowed to cross that would result in a final death for them.”

“You mean like state matters? I’m sure they…”

He cut me off. “You.”

“Me?”

“Publically and privately. They need to understand that you are not just a shared fuck and meal for Pam and me and any attempt they make will end them.”

“Wouldn’t that be a given?”

“It would be, but because you are bonded to both of us, assumptions could be made.”

“Your other children would assume too?”

“Yes. It was one of the many reasons that I wanted to refuse your bond with her.”

“The Proctors didn’t assume.”

“They never met Pam. Unless you mentioned it, they wouldn’t realize you were bonded to her.”

“Well then, by all means explain to them that there’ll be no orgies. Should Pam and I curtail our interactions when they’re around?”

He hummed against my neck. He knew he was pushing my buttons. “If you were to change your behavior that would affect me, so definitely not.”

I decided to ante up. I rubbed back against him while I worked. “So tonight, Pam and I would be allowed to dance together?”

He pressed back. “That would be acceptable.”

I laid my head back against his shoulder. “Body shots?”

“Encouraged.”

I breathed against his neck. “Fondling?”

“Most appreciated.”

“Eric?”

He purred, “Yes, Lover?”

“You realize that we have work to do tonight, right?”

He rubbed a little harder. “We can always find time for a little fun to make the business tolerable.”

**

Eric and Pam stuck around long enough to sip on a couple of ‘Sookie Brews’ while everyone ate and then left for their shopping trip.

Once they were gone and the kitchen had been cleaned up, I searched out Alcide to turn the house over to him. I found him playing a video game with Des and Di while Daveigh played with Hunter and Manen. I smiled at how normal they all seemed.

“Hey Beb.”

Nothing.

“Yoo hoo.”

Still nothing.

I leaned over the back of the couch, pulling his ear with my teeth.

“If you wanted my attention, you could’ve just said so.”

I giggled through my nose, next to his ear.

“Oh, that’s not fair! You behave. You’re going to get me killed.”

“I just came to tell you that I’m popping out to see Jamie for a few. You’re the one ignoring me.”

He smiled at me. “Did you think of a resolution to his problem that doesn’t include a hole getting dug?”

“I saw the solution, and no. No holes will need to be dug.”

He joked and asked me what I was still bothering him for, so I gave his ear a chew right before I popped out to knock on the bunkhouse door.

**

It sounded like a large machine was at work keeping the world spinning. There’s just something ominous about 5 baritones grumbling and growling at once.

Lisa answered the door. “Thank God you’re here. The 5 of them are going nuts. Chris and Mickey are talking about moving again.”

“Oh no they don’t.” All discussion in the house came grinding to a halt when they heard my voice.

When I walked in, I was stared down by all 5 Quints, the 2 of their wives and the 2 of their girlfriends, including Sara.

“Come on y’all! Stop that. You look like morticians.”

None of their moods improved and Azo’s jaw clenched before he started. “Sookie, you’ve never met the guy.”

“I understand that, big guy. I realized the solution a little while ago though.”

Goose nearly leapt from his seat. “What? What is it? Just tell us what to do…”

Mickey finished, “…and we’ll do it.”

I smiled at them. “I can’t do that. From what I saw, you guys don’t have anything to do with it. It’ll take care of itself.”

Jeremy didn’t look like he wore his happy pants either. “Sookie, if it’s going to take care of itself, than why can’t you just tell us?”

“I don’t know. I’m mostly afraid that if you know, you might accidentally do something to mess with things.”

“You’re sure it’ll take care of itself?”

“Sort of. I know how things happen. I know how things work out. Promise me you won’t leave, guys. He won’t be here long.”

“How long?” All of them. All 5 of them asked at the same time. I even giggled a little realizing it had been hard to get 5 kids to smile at the same time.

“Long enough to piss y’all off, but not long enough to do any damage. A day or two. K?”

They all stared at me.

“Tell you what… You boys elect one of you to ‘see’ what I saw. Then I’ll glamour you to forget it so that nothing happens to mess with things. You might feel better if you hear it from one of you.”

They all wanted to be ‘the one’. I could hear it plain as day. Jeremy was the first, “Azo.”

Slowly, they all started to nod in agreement. “Alright, old man. Get down here.”

He took a couple small steps toward me. “How does this work?”

“You stand there and be pretty. It works better when you close your eyes.”

He smiled sheepishly. “If you say so, Sunshine.”

I reached up and put my hands on either side of his face and ‘gave’ him the picture I saw earlier. It only took a few minutes, but the other four brothers circled around us while I worked and watched their big brother show a range of smiles. Everything from proud to sinister.

When it was over I pulled his face down to kiss his cheek. “How’d I do?”

“You’re better than satellite…” He straightened up and grinned at his brothers. “…She’s right. If we know, it’d fuck with things… but it’s perfect.”

I added, “And for the record, everything y’all came up with to fuck with his little brain works. It doesn’t take long to drive him off. Okay?”

Azo backed me up by nodding with a big smile.

It only took a minute to convince them all and then only a second to take the memory from Azo.

After a hug from everyone, I popped back home.

**

With nothing else to occupy my time until dinner needed to be made, I went back to the den after checking on the twins.

Alcide smiled when I sat down next to him. “You fix the quints?”

“Pretty much.”

“You gonna share?”

“Shouldn’t.” Especially considering the way Alcide feels about Damon.

“You gonna stop fighting with your husband?” He looked at me like he was disappointed in me.

“Probably not forever.”

“Are you being a bitch about his exes being here?”

I hissed at him. “I’m not upset that they’re here. I’m disappointed in how he treats them. I wanted to stay out of it, but he could tell I was biting my tongue about something.”

“None of your business.”

I nudged his leg with my foot. “I knew that. That’s why I was biting my tongue.”

“So where’d he take Pam off to?”

“Shopping.”

“For them? Shit! I had to listen to that shit last night. She really doesn’t like them.”

“Relax. She was upset at first, then she calmed down. She’s having fun now, and yes… they are at the same place.”

He was quiet for a few minutes and I’d almost dozed off. “She says they’re jealous.”

“They are. Eric loves Pam and doesn’t even like them.”

“Why not?”

“That’s personal, but they aren’t ill behaved.”

“Personal? He told you not to tell me?”

“No sweetie, you know how tight lipped he can be about things. Sometimes I’m not sure. If you ask, he’ll probably tell you, I just don’t want to betray any secrets.”

“You say it like it isn’t something I should waste a lot of time on.”

“I don’t think it is.”

He grinned at me. “That’s all you had to say, Shug.”

**

I felt his thumb on my cheek before I opened my eyes.

“Lover, I hate to wake you, but I held off as long as I could.”

I was looking up at the handsomest smile I could imagine. I was a lucky girl to see it when I wasn’t dreaming. “Hey there. How’d your shopping go?”

“Fruitful. How was your nap?”

I stretched out, noticing that Alcide was gone. “Restful. What time is it?”

“It’s nearly 8. The ladies are coming in from the guest house now.”

I sat up like I’d been struck by lightning.

He smiled and shushed me. “I called while we were out, Alcide said that you were sleeping, so he ordered from the Mexican restaurant you like and we brought it home. The children are all eating now.”

I smiled at how sweet that was. “Now that you’re a king, it takes away from calling you a prince among men. Thank you.” I stretched up to kiss him and he took my hand, popping us to the kitchen.

**

Speaking of princes among men, Alcide had a plate held out for me, just like I’d handed him a hundred breakfasts. I thanked him with a grateful kiss and sat at the table with the kids to eat and catch up with what I missed while I napped. Everyone was present and accounted for, even Doug, Tobin and Jordie.

The four sisters weren’t through the door before Hunter had bounced out of his seat to wrap his arms around ‘Aunt Liesl’, causing her hands to fly into the air as she looked to Eric for a clue as to how to handle the situation. It only took him a moment to greet the other three in the same way and Manen and the Dae followed suit without hugging.

Then, big surprise, Eric took the reins on the meeting.

“Liesl, Keva, Treza, Mischa. This is our nest.” The four of them looked at him like he grew another head. “Hunter, Manen, Daveigh, Desmond, Diantha and the infants in the bassinet are Erika and Dagny. They are our children. Febes and Dozer are Sookie’s cousins and our live in guards. This is Doug. You met Angela last night. She is his. Tobin and Jordie are our Assistants. They handle scheduling and business arrangements. We trust them implicitly and if you are to ever get a message through them, you can be sure it’s legitimate.”

The four ‘ladies’ shared looks with each other. Keva seemed to be the one that drew the short straw. “Where did you find children, Sire?”

“Master. If you call me by title, it’s ‘Master’ in North America. I’ve come to prefer it, but if you can remember your place while doing so, you may call me Eric. As for the children, we didn’t find them, they found us. Hunter and Manen were Sookie’s cousins before we adopted them. We are in the process of adopting Daveigh and Desmond who found us via Diantha who has, indeed, adopted us.”

Di grinned and waved. “howyadoin?”

“Master, the infants?”

“I’m their father.”

I heard them question him. None of them believed him, but even the way they thought he was full of malarkey was respectful. “They smell like Were.”

Alcide scowled at them. “They smell like babies. To put a finer point on it, they smell like everything. Were, witch, Dae, Fae and Vampire. Because they are.”

“How could that be?”

Eric’s answer was chilly, at best. “Sookie’s powers are responsible. That’s all you need to concern yourself with.”

As the children finished eating, they disappeared. Angela took Manen and Hunter to the patio for their lessons and the Dae went upstairs to plan their outfits for Fangtasia. Doug, Febes, Dozer, Tobin and Jordie were willing to chew their own arms off to get out of the room by the time Eric ‘dismissed’ them.

**

It came down to the eight of us. I ate as quickly as I could, but was still hungry when Alcide and I rinsed our plates so that we could have a sit down.

We sat across from each other. ‘Us’ against ‘Them’. They stared for what felt like forever while Eric gathered his thoughts.

“Master, I don’t…. we don’t understand. Are we being reprimanded?”

He rolled his eyes, frustrated that he wasn’t quite ready. “We have plans for the evening so I suppose I should get on with it. Things may take some getting used to, and we’ll do our best to bear your adjustment period. We do need to lay down some fundamentals.”

They all nodded expectantly.

“Sookie and I are bonded. She is pledged to me as her intended maker and we are married as per human law.”

They nodded again like robots and gave him a ‘yes master’.

“You need to understand that as my second in command, Pamela has certainly earned certain privileges. As such she has bonded to Sookie as well.” Yep. Jaws on the floor. “Sookie is mine. Make no mistake of that. I share her only with Alcide and Pam. No exceptions. Ever. Any questions?”

Poor Keva might as well have been kicked so that she would do the talking. “Master, the babies…”

“I told you that all you need to concern yourself with is that Sookie’s abilities made it possible. Also, you need to be painfully aware that the four of us as well as the rest of the family is more than willing to die protecting them.”

She bowed her head to him. “Of course, Master, as are we. May we perhaps… hold them?”

He tilted his head to the side, clearly amused.

“We… Most babies are shielded from Vampire. I haven’t held an infant in centuries.” I picked up a sudden and devastating image from her. The last infant she held was covered in some kind of pox and barely alive. It was heartbreaking, even for her.

He gave them all a smirk and nodded towards the bassinet.

I wanted to cry watching them. Keva and Mischa each held a baby, Liesl and Treza fawned, and then they switched. As much peace and awe as I felt coming from the four ‘ladies’, I felt grief coming from Eric.

He’d always opened doors, held me up when I needed it, hated to see a woman cry… He truly felt horrible for having turned them. Pam didn’t want children, Elizabeth Proctor wouldn’t have lived long enough to have the option and that left me. He almost pushed the idea of children on me at first. He felt like he robbed them and he would have felt like he was robbing me if he had turned me before I had the chance to be a mother. It was certainly the easy answer as to why he’d only ever turned men willingly. I wanted to cry for him too.

When he gave my hand a squeeze, I realized he’d been listening. So I called him a ‘sneaky asshole’. He grinned and kissed my cheek.

Pam seemed in good spirits as she left the couch and came back with bottles, handing them to the sisters so that they could feed the girls. All 4 of them were surprised and grateful, continuing to whisper sweetly to the babies.

Treza finally broke her trance to look at Eric. “Master, if I might guess, when Mistress healed my arm this morning, my body felt charged, perhaps even alive for a moment…”

He nodded. “It is similar, yes, and intensified by our bond. But Sookie used only a fraction of her strength to heal your arm.”

“A ‘fraction’?”

“Indeed. Sookie is a rare breed… Now, when you’re satisfied, the four of you need to ready. We’re needed at Fangtasia.”

Liesl cooed. “Master, we shouldn’t wait until we’ve had enough.  That might be a while yet.”

He chuckled and the sound actually startled her. “Of course not. They make it very easy to sit for hours, but every curl will be accounted for when we return. Angela will be sure of that.”

He stood up and went to the laundry room, returning with four really big shopping bags and four garment bags.

“Pam and I went shopping earlier. Sookie suggested that you might like to have something new to wear.”

Keva and Mischa reached out for the loot like Oliver Twist asking for more porridge. “Thank you, master.”

“Once we’ve had the chance to look at your luggage, we can go shopping for your more practical items. I’m sure fashion trends differ in Wales. We’ll need to make sure you have plenty of suitable attire.”

They nodded and thanked him, calling him ‘master’ again.

He watched them all melt over the girls until ES arrived and then sent them on their way to get dressed.

**

CaSondra’s visit was more of a fly by. I’d already sent her some sketches and the plans she brought with her were exactly what we hoped for. Pam drooled when she saw the plans for ‘her’ shop.

By 9:30 we were together in the kitchen, discussing travel options. Eric and Pam had found a couple dozen black cocktail dresses. So the six of us ladies looked like a bachelorette party.

Dave and Des didn’t seem like they were up for popping, so they opted to drive. Without the three Dae, it was only the eight of us.

Eric surprised Keva and Mischa by hugging them his side… and pop, they were gone.

Liesl and Treza looked like they’d seen a ghost, but they let me hug them the same way.

Eric was still laughing at the looks on Keva and Mischa’s faces when we got to the club. He got a second wind when he saw the other two.

I smiled at him and gave him a kiss. “Behave.”

“Or what?”

“Or I’ll bleed bovine.” I was giggling.

He gasped playfully. “You wouldn’t!”

I gave him a wink and popped home to get Alcide and Pam.

**

When Clancy came in, Eric gave him an introduction (surprising the ‘ladies’ again). Clancy was told to make sure that his children were treated properly.

Clancy nodded and almost returned the smile I gave him. “Anything else, Majesty?”

“We’re holding court tonight so we’ll need the VIP room to be in pristine condition. Florida and Alabama are joining us. Let the door know that our older children will be along shortly. Three teens. Dae. Two girls and a male.”

A deep nod and a ‘very well, majesty’ later and Clancy was through the door and we followed.

**

The ‘procession’ out to the opera box seemed even more ridiculous tonight since there were four extra vampire for the humans in the audience to ogle.

Once the audience had calmed down a bit, Eric held his hand out to the bench where his children sat. “Treza.”

She took his hand and cautiously followed his lead, sitting on his lap next to me. “Master?” She looked anxious, so I took her hand. It felt ridiculous considering her age.

He pulled her back to whisper in her ear. “How long has it been since you fed?”

The way ‘fed’ came out of his mouth was a temptation to even me. Her fangs ran out and it took her a minute to put her answer together.

“It’s been a few months, Master.”

“Why so long?”

“Caldey is very isolated. We’ve gotten along on bottles for nearly a year.”

“Why have you not been leaving to feed?”

“There have been rumors about the church declaring war on vampires. We happened upon a witch a few weeks ago who said that North America was the safest.”

He nodded and I was grateful that he didn’t go into the long explanation of why ‘the church’ isn’t much of a problem for us anymore. “We’ve paid our dues.” I watched him scan the crowd and use his influence to draw four of the more ‘gently used’ donors towards us. “Take your sisters to the green room. No need to glamour them. They are quite willing.”

Her eyes sparkled and she really did smile. “Master? We’re allowed?”

“As long as they are willing and you do it in private.”

She clearly didn’t know how to react so I stood up, still holding her hand and gave it a tug, leading her and the other three down the stairs.

I opened the green room door for them and gave them a smile. “They have to be able to leave on their own ladies. Don’t be greedy. Leave room for dessert.”

Before I closed the door behind me, Liesl grabbed my arm.  “Mistress?”

“Sookie.”

“Stress our gratitude to Master, please.”

I smiled and gave her cheek a peck. “You bet.”

**

Eric was waiting at the bottom of the stairs for me. “Did you hear that?”

He gave me a nod and took my hand, leading me to the dance floor.

He danced with me (and Alc with Pam) until our Dae arrived. The four sisters had long since gone back to the opera box to sit quietly. So while the rest of my nest stayed on the dance floor to enjoy a dance with the kids, I went up to check on the sisters.

“You should go dance.”

Keva gave me a respectful nod. “We haven’t a male partner.”

I giggled at them. “You four sleep together, yes?”

They all looked concerned that I asked out loud, but they nodded slowly.

It took me a moment, but the incredulous looks on their faces finally made me realize that they’d been in seclusion since before I was born and God only knows where they were before that. “I dance with Pam all the time. Nowadays, even straight girls dance with each other. Eric and Alcide even share one of us for a dance once in a while.” I held my hands out and grabbed Mischa and Treza, pulling them to the floor, with Liesl and Keva close behind.

As I started to dance with them, directing Keva’s hips and smiling to encourage Liesl, Eric gave me a less than amused look. “Lover, I thought I made myself clear.”

“You did. It seems these ladies have never been ‘clubbing’. They balked when I suggested they dance together even though they sleep together.”

“You are being very kind to them.”

“I’ll stop if you want…”

“No. Thank you. It means a lot to me that you aren’t holding this against me.”

I blew him a kiss and went about my task of teaching four vampire how to ‘girl dance’.

**

I was enjoying an awkward dance with my ‘son’ when our business arrived. He was so many kinds of relieved to be interrupted, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I handed him off to one of our waitresses and he looked much happier.

The Packmasters and Sheriffs of Pensacola and Mobile as well as Kings Joseph and Rey made their presence known with an entourage of no less than 20 lieutenants and captains.

When I had checked my email earlier, I’d read over the case. We had originally thought that we’d be dealing with a couple of cases each. As it turned out, it was an over complicated arrangement between packs and sheriffs and what it all boiled down to was that Rey and Joe didn’t want to rule against their own sheriffs in favor of the other state’s pack. So they spent a day traveling to have the three of us do their dirty work for them.

It took us half an hour to hear both sides and then 5 minutes for Eric and Alcide to mediate the arrangement between the lot of them. There hadn’t been a pending punishment, but there probably would have been if we hadn’t made ourselves available before the next court dates. Their tempers were starting to flare.

All in all it was an easy fix and the only reason for all of us to be present was to cover all the bases.

Rey and Joe sent everyone on their way as soon as the verdict was passed and then stuck around for some visiting before heading home themselves. They had been very excited to see some snapshots of the princesses and they were the first to confirm that they wanted information about resort membership as soon as it was available.

**

Daveigh, Desmond and Diantha had danced almost the whole time they had been there, so by the time our company left, they were tuckered out and left in search of an IHOP.

With the kids gone and the business out of the way, I ordered a round of Vegas Weddings and dragged Pam out to dance while Clancy got them ready.

The song gave us plenty of chance to get warmed up and give Eric and Alcide a bit of a show. By the time we were done, both of our guys and all four of the sisters were watching us very closely.

The Vegas Wedding turned out to be overkill.

When it was over, Eric yanked me into his lap and rubbed me into him.

I giggled, whispering into his ear, “Are we ready to go home?”

His grip tightened and the look on his face got more serious. “We need to talk.”

“Can we talk naked?”

He actually shied his eyes away from me as he stood us up and led us into his office.

He popped himself and two of his children home and I popped the rest of us.

**

Alcide and Pam immediately said their goodnights and Eric sent the sisters to their house, popping us to our room.

He stood in front of me, looking down with the most uncomfortable look on his face. That is the only way to describe it.

“Spit it out, Eric.”

“We’re going to fight. I don’t want to fight.”

Shit. “Thanks for the warning. Out with it.”

“You are aware how vampire maintain a bond.”

Oh you have got to be kidding me! “You plan to go fuck them?”

He gave me a level stare. “No. I don’t want to. I’ve never waned to. Of anyone, they have been Malakia for me hundreds of times, but I do need to share blood with them.”

“Like you have with Angela.”

“Not exactly. I’ve shared blood with Angela so that my scent is on her. It was only to maintain the appearance that she’s mine.”

“So you need to go fuck them and share blood with them to build up your bond. Lovely.”

“No. I’m going to go share blood with them because I haven’t in nearly 200 years. I wouldn’t, but now that we’ve talked… I don’t like it that they are so afraid of me.”

“So this is my fault?”

“Definitely. I spent more than 700 years ignoring them. Suddenly, the fact that they are so timid, grates my last nerve. So, yes, I’m positive that it’s your fault that I care.” He was smirking.

“You think that sharing blood with them will give them some backbone? They’re old enough to rule and they seem so dependent. I mean, Angela is just now a year old and has more spine than them.”

“That is my hope. If nothing else, I’d like to see them not jump every time I move.”

“So you won’t fuck them?”

“No. I’ll spend the night with them, but I’m only sharing blood with them.”

I fucking hate this. This is my fault. I should have just let him continue to treat them like something he stepped in. I don’t know or care why I don’t have any issues with him doing whatever he wants with Pam and as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t matter. “Would you do the same with your other children?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because they are functioning. The other six have taken care of themselves for centuries. At this point, if I want to set these four loose on the world, they need to be retrained. I don’t think I’m the only one who’s noticed that they are useless.”

I huffed. “You’re right about that. It took being offered a donor for one of them to mention that they’d nearly forgotten how to feed. You’d think Treza might have mentioned it when I healed her.”

“Why her healing?”

“Because after a year of bottled blood, it’s safe to assume she’d notice that her joint pain was gone after I fixed her arm.”

“Unless the malnutrition is so severe that your healing didn’t cure the pain.”

“It would have. Alright, I think that I have a resolution for your four pack.”

He grinned at me. “I’m all ears.”

“You need to find them a house. One of their own. Being here makes them your pets and nothing more. They are plenty old enough to take care of themselves. A house, cars, computers. They need to start taking some online classes for childcare and when we open, they can run the child care program for the employees.”

I got a full blown smile for my idea. “You’d let them be around the children?”

“Time will tell, but at their ages there shouldn’t be any risk. They really did seem to enjoy the twins earlier. They need a job and if nothing else, they’re docile.”

“They could help with the resort.”

“Anything they could be of help with would be beneath them. It would be tedious manual labor. I think they could feel valuable by tending to part of your resort. Doing a job like that for you and well, would be a great source of pride for them. It’s fucking ridiculous that they’re so… So much like concubines.”

“I told you that is my doing, didn’t I? I trained them to be seen and not heard. They were nothing more than slaves.”

I hate this. I hate this. I hate this. If I had just kept my mouth shut, I wouldn’t have to deal with this. I can’t even say anything about it since he’s actually trying to make things right. God damn it, Sookie! When are you going to learn to keep your big mouth shut?!

Eric grinned and kissed my forehead. “Lover, you tried.”

I was so frustrated with the whole situation that I grunted when I punched him in the shoulder. “THIS is what I was talking about! The other day, when you asked how you made me wet and furious at the same time!”

He had dialed his laugh back to a chuckle as his arms went around me. “How does it parallel in this case?”

I tried to get out of his arms, completely fed up with being so reasonable all the damn time. I missed being able to have a hissy fit. I missed having the excuse. He wouldn’t let me go. “Because, you giant asshole! You managed to convince your wife that going off to sleep with four pretty blondes is a good thing! You should get into the Man Hall of Fame for this one!” I punctuated my irritation by kicking his shin.

His chuckle got bigger, but he still kept it from being a full laugh. “Would you feel better coming with me?”

“Uggghhhhh! No!”

“I love you, Sookie.”

I hate this. I hate this. I hate this. “I love you too.”

“Will you be able to get any rest?”

“I’ll be fine. Once Alcide and Pam are done, I’ll crawl into bed with them. I’ll be out like a light. Now, get out of here!”

“You trust me, yes?”

I growled at him. “Yes.”

He smiled at me. “Then kiss me goodnight.”

I was cringing when I lifted my face to let him kiss me and as much as I wanted to knee him in his ancient nuts for this, he made it all go away. Even if it was just for a moment, his sweet kiss calmed me down.

**

I took a long shower and got into some comfy PJs. I was feeding the twins when the Dae came in at exactly 2am. Once everyone was tucked in, I knocked on the door to Alcide and Pam’s room.

“Hey Shug, what’s wrong?” I raised an eyebrow at Pam for not asking. The look on her face told me that she knew why I was there.

“My husband is with his other children and if I’m not with you, I’ll stew all night. Is there room in here for one more?”

Alcide sat up in bed with an angry look on his face. “He what?!”

“It’s because of the bond. It’s fine, but you know how I am.”

“It’s fine? He’s out there fucking them and you’re cool with it?”

“Just like Pam and I would be ‘cool’ with you trying to add to the pack. It comes with the territory, but he’s not fucking them. They’re just swapping blood.”

He shot Pam a dirty look for not saying something as he scooted over, pulling back the covers for me. “Just swapping blood?”

“Yup. He’s got to do something. They’re terrified of him, not to mention their own shadows.”

I snuggled into his chest and got comfy with his big arms wrapped around me, almost immediately struggling to keep my eyes open.

I felt Pam’s cool fingers stroke my shoulder. “Sookie, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. I’m tired and frustrated and for like the millionth time wish that Quinn hadn’t killed Andre so that we could, but I’m not upset with anyone alive. It’s ok.”

“Andre? It was Sophie Anne’s order.” Alcide’s silence told me that he’d been filled in.

“For some reason, I picture it happening differently.”

“How so?”

“What I picture is Sophie Anne ordering Andre to end Duncan. The blonde brigade was Andre’s idea. Sophie Anne wouldn’t have ordered that. Not after the way she was treated.”

“Ending Duncan would have been the fitting punishment. Have you said anything to him?”

As much as it pained me to admit it, ending Eric’s child would have been the fitting punishment. Since it had happened so many times, ending Eric would have been ‘practical’ for that matter. “Not yet. Right now I’m just glad that he’s finally doing something for them. They might know less about being vampire than I ever did. It’s sad.”

I yawned into Alcide’s chest and he started stroking my back.

No sooner than I noticed his breathing slow down, I closed my eyes and hoped tomorrow would be ‘easier’.

2 thoughts on “Chapter 9

  1. Kristie Yamber says:

    awww Eric is finally being a true maker to the 4-baby vamps…. I know they are older but they are just starting to learn….. my best Kristie

  2. loveallsvmtb says:

    So many surprises in this chapter. i love it. thanks

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