Something wasn’t right. My period was very much like clockwork. I knew this because I had to rely on my calendar more often since I’d been exchanging blood with Eric. All my usual bloating and cramping were healed with his blood. But I knew something wasn’t right when I missed a day. I didn’t dare hope. I didn’t want to take a pregnancy test and have it come out negative because I knew it would break Eric’s heart.
He didn’t say anything, but I knew he’d been watching my every move for several days now. I could see it in his eyes. He was cataloguing everything I ate, and taking note of everything I did. He’d been overly curious about my comings and goings during the day. I did my normal things: went to Wal-Mart, went to the grocery store, to the bank, to the post office. During those days the only change in my routine had been my visit to my cousins, actually. All three of them were ecstatic with their apple pies. If I thought it had felt good to hug and kiss my family before, that paled in comparison to when they hugged and kissed me in appreciation.
There were other things that told me Eric was being extra vigilant: we had bathed together every single night since the night I’d made the pies. We’d made love slowly, and if I tried to speed things up, he would take charge and slow them down. He hadn’t wanted me to wear the necklace during those times, not that it would have helped with our fertility, since I was past my fertile peak… which made me do a little research only to discover that my fertile peak had been during our honeymoon, when I had used the necklace. It was too much to hope that it would have worked after using it twice.
Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that my body was doing something different, so I went to the nearest pharmacy and bought two boxes of pregnancy tests, each containing two tests. I wanted to make sure. Super vampire sure.
I got the tests home and put off taking them as long as I could. Sunset was approaching, and I didn’t want Eric to know I had taken a test, fearing that it would come back negative. I didn’t know what had made me fear. We were under the understanding that we would start trying to conceive right after this coming time of the month. Maybe it was my own hope. I didn’t want to dash my own hopes.
I went about it very meticulously, reading the instructions twice. I did what I needed to do and swore I wouldn’t look at the stick until after I washed my hands. But I peeked as I washed my hands, seeing as the little lines began to appear quickly: first the test line, which immediately developed as a plus sign. Then the control line appeared, so I knew I’d done the test right. At first I was very clinical. The instructions said that even if the plus sign was faint, it still meant it was a positive test. My plus sign was clear as day and very dark. My heart skipped a beat and began pounding inside my chest at double time. I had to catch my breath, taking in big gulps of air. I started feeling dizzy from it all.
“Eric! Eric!” I picked up the little test and called to my husband. I felt like I would faint.
“Sookie!” I could hear him stumble in the bedroom, and at the time it didn’t register that it was not time for him to wake up yet. He reached me, taking deep breaths, probably scenting for blood to see if I was hurt. He took my face in his hands, his pupils dilating and contracting trying to focus. I took my face away and put the test in his hands.
Besides calling his name, I’d been speechless. I was finally able to blurt out the first thing that came to my mind: “You’re going to be a daddy! You’re going to be a daddy!” I said as he stared at the test. I was so happy that I was crying. My Eric, my beautiful Eric. After so many lifetimes alone and lonely, I was going to give him what he wanted most. I was going to have his baby. Our baby.
Shock jolted me through the bond, and I watched as he began to fall in slow motion. I tried to stop him from falling, but all I could do was catch him and fall with him. He looked so stunned that I had to laugh. His eyes were wide as saucers, and his mouth was hanging open. He sat completely still, without breathing, blinking or moving in any way. I kissed him everywhere, trying to bring him back while he kept staring at the tiny test in his hands.
Eric finally looked up from his hands to my face. A small smile began playing at the corners of his mouth. He closed his eyes and let sleep claim him for what was left of the day. I held him in my lap sitting on the thick bathroom rug in front of the sink. He wasn’t out for very long, or maybe it didn’t seem very long to me. I’d caressed his face and hair the whole time, imagining how beautiful our baby would be with Eric’s glacial blue eyes. I imagined a girl with soft golden curls, playing horsy with her daddy. Then I imagined a handsome teenage boy who looked just like his father. I had no fear that my baby would be telepathic. The odds were in favor of normalcy.
When Eric woke up again, he sat up super vampire fast and reached for the test. It was supposed to be no good anymore, but the lines still showed as bright and sure as before.
“Sookie,” he said my name in a breath. “You’re pregnant?” He seemed to think it had all been a dream.
I grinned and nodded enthusiastically. He threw his arms around me and hugged me tight. His happiness was fierce, and rolling off him in waves. I never knew I had it in me to make another person so happy.
Eric pulled away and held me by the shoulders. He now looked concerned. “Are you all right? How are you feeling?”
I tried to contain my smile, but couldn’t. “I’m perfect. Never better. A little hungry, but it’s my dinnertime.”
Eric smiled too, a big toothy grin that reached his eyes completely. “We need to celebrate. We need to call the doctor. We need to tell Pam…” He stopped talking when I put my finger on his lips.
“You need to kiss me,” I said. Everything else could wait. My kiss couldn’t.
He understood immediately, caressing my hair before taking my face in his hands once again. “I love you, Sookie,” he said, and I couldn’t return the sentiment because his lips were on mine then, soft and tender. I took a deep breath, taking in his sweet scent that I liked so much. He continued trailing sweet kisses all over my face while I smiled like a fool.
We were still on the floor, and Eric decided that wasn’t good enough. He scooped me up and took me to the bed, making quick work of my clothes after he set me down. He took off his sleep pants (a gift from Santa Sookie), and curled up next to me, kissing my face and rubbing my belly, making me feel self conscious. I didn’t have the concave stomach that models have. It was soft and fleshy, and now it would only start getting bigger. I didn’t mind it getting bigger to accommodate a baby though.
Eric put his face on my stomach. “Hello in there,” he kissed the spot right below my bellybutton. “I’m your daddy, and I love you. I love your mommy too. She’s beautiful, wait until you meet her.”
I giggled out of pure happiness. Who knew that the big scary vampire that had walked into Merlotte’s so many nights ago could be such a softy? He continued his kissing trails, peppering my whole belly with them. I pulled him to me, claiming those kisses on my mouth, while his hands got busy elsewhere. He trailed a lazy finger under my left breast, and just that small touch made my skin flush with sudden desire. He moved his mouth to take as much of my right breast as he could, sinking his fangs on the tender flesh and transferring the faint euphoric feeling of tasting the drops of blood he’d drawn.
A moan escaped my mouth as I arched my back to give him more. He was greedy, sucking and licking at my breast and letting his hand move to my hot center. One long finger dipped inside me to bring the wetness outside to my nub. I tangled my fingers into his hair before he moved away from my breast, to taste me. He hooked two fingers inside me, looking for that sweet spot that would make me scream for him, and kissed my nub before lapping at it gently.
My whole body shuddered when he found the magic spot, and his fingers continued their teasing, while I moaned from the top of the bed. I held his head against my hot core. He would not escape before finishing what he started.
“Eric, Eric, please. Please,” I begged for release. I was so close. I panted desperately, feeling my skin erupt in beads of sweat from being so hot. He didn’t let me despair anymore, turned his head and sunk his fangs into my thigh, pumping his fingers inside me, making me erupt and let go, crying out in ecstasy.
The moment I regained control of my eyes and opened them, I saw my beautiful husband hovering above me. I felt a thick pressure waiting at my entrance, waiting for permission, waiting for me to be able to enjoy it fully. Eric held my gaze with his, and his gaze was full of love. I moved my hands to his face, holding him and willing my eyes to look as lovely to him as his did to me. How do you transmit love with a look?
Eric and I were one. He moved within me at the same time that he moved me. I fell in love with him again as we made love, my heart swelling to include our baby. “I love you Eric. I love you so much,” I said, and repeated, over and over.
We celebrated our sweet moment together, and the pure joy that poured through the bond was overwhelming and just perfect at the same time. In the end he laid half on top of me, whispering sweet words into my ear.
“Thank you so much, my love. You have made my world complete. You are so beautiful, so soft, so warm. I love you, Sookie. I will be a good father, I promise. Our children will want for nothing. We will be a happy family,” he laughed, “we’ll have six or seven strong boys that will drive their mother crazy.”
I laughed. I knew he was kidding. He better be kidding. “I don’t think so. For all you know we’ll end up with six or seven girls and you will have to work full time at keeping all the boys away from them.”
He hissed. “Touché, my love. We shall start our family with this one,” he pointed at my belly, “and talk more later.”
“Pam is going to freak, and I don’t think it will be in a good way. At best her first thought will be that I had artificial insemination,” I mused out loud.
Eric was quiet for a moment. “We will have to explain it carefully. Nobody else needs to know the true nature of your pregnancy, but your friends and your brother will wonder, and of course Pam is going to freak, as you say.”
“I really would like to tell Pam as soon as possible, but keep it quiet from everybody else. Most miscarriages happen during the first trimester, so I would rather not say anything to anybody until after the third month.” I was proud of myself. I’d just read all that on Baby Center that same day, while I’d been looking up my peak fertility period.
Eric frowned. “I do not wish to speak of miscarriages.” I felt a pang of fear through our bond.
“Well, honey, it happens. I mean, I have high hopes because I don’t think your goddess would have blessed us this way to then take our baby away like that,” I tried to soothe him.
“Right, right. You are right,” he said, trying to convince himself.
“I do need to pick a doctor. I wonder if there are any that will see me at night,” I pondered, pursing my lips.
“We will have to call Doctor Ludwig…”
“Do we have to? She’s a little creepy,” I interrupted.
“Sookie,” he said in a warning tone. “I’m a vampire who’s having a baby with his wife. We will have to see Doctor Ludwig first, and then see a human doctor only if she deems it necessary.”
“Okay,” I said and made a face.
“What do you have against the tomte?”
“The what?” I asked. Sometimes he threw words like that at me.
“The, um…” he was struggling. “The brownie. Doctor Ludwig is a brownie.”
I started laughing in earnest. “She’s a brownie? A brownie?” I asked, and kept on laughing. No wonder I had Claudine in stitches when I’d given her brownie points. The two creatures were as different as day and night. Claudine was tall and moved in a graceful, vampire-like way. Doctor Ludwig was tiny and kind of hobbled around. I told Eric the story and he laughed with me.
He made me dinner that night, refusing to let me do anything. He’d even picked out my clothes and helped me dress, going so far as to putting socks on my feet, even though we didn’t have plans to leave the house. I didn’t even feel pregnant yet. So far the only sign of pregnancy I had was my missed period.
“I’m not an invalid. I can move around perfectly. You get to do this when I’m closer to giving birth and I look like I swallowed a beach ball,” I snickered as he joined me for dinner.
“Do you want to talk to Pam tonight?” he asked me some time later.
I thought about it briefly. “No time like the present.”
Pam arrived looking happy. “I was bored at home. I didn’t feel like going out tonight, but also didn’t want to stay home,” she said to me. I barely ever heard her express her motivations before.
We all sat in the formal living room, Eric and I sitting on the sofa across from Pam, who was sitting on the loveseat. She actually allowed herself to look curious, so she must have been itching to know why Eric had summoned her.
“Pam, first of all we wanted to give you a gift for watching over Fangtasia during our honeymoon,” Eric began, and pulled out the paperwork with all the printouts and information Pam would need. “We got you a ski trip to Jackson Hole in Wyoming. I remembered you had mentioned you’d never seen the Grand Tetons.”
Pam looked up surprised, a small smile starting to cross her lips. “I’ve always wanted to see the Tetons.”
I rolled my eyes. Figures she wanted to see mountains shaped like a woman’s bosom. “We left the dates open so you can choose to go, but don’t wait too long or you will have to wait until the fall for skiing. We got you lift tickets to several places nearby, so you can choose which one you like best. There’s a gift certificate so you can upgrade your equipment or get whatever gear you need.”
Pam’s eyes got wider and wider as she looked back and forth between Eric and me. I knew Eric had given her gifts before, so I wasn’t sure why she was so surprised. “What’s wrong, Pam?” I asked.
“Something is going on between you two. Eric is… It’s…” she looked at Eric. “You’re so happy I can barely contain my own smile and I don’t even know why I’m smiling,” and she smiled. I should have known that her connection to her maker would give her a taste of what Eric was feeling.
“I am happy. Extremely happy, and that is the second reason we asked you to be here tonight,” he said. He looked at me, looking for confirmation or assurance, I didn’t know. So I smiled indulgently and let him proceed.
“Sookie and I are having a baby.”
Pam’s features froze, and turned confused vampire fast. “Whose baby is it?”
“Mine and Sookie’s,” Eric answered.
Pam blinked. “Sookie cheated?” There’s was a hint of accusation in her tone.
Eric started talking too fast for me to catch all the words, and some of them weren’t in English. I kept out of it because it was obvious that he was trying to diffuse the situation. Pam had practically accused me of cheating. Honestly, I would have thought the same thing if I’d been in her shoes. That would have been my first thought before I started thinking of other possibilities. But, for sure, if I’d been Pam I would have never guessed how we actually became pregnant.
Pam sat speechless for several moments after Eric finished explaining. Her pretty striped sweater in blue made her eyes look almost green for some reason. And now her eyes wanted to bug out of her head. We let her come to terms with the information. She looked at me. “You are pregnant?”
“Yes, Pam. I’m having Eric’s baby and you will be an aunt, sort of,” I said, and smiled wide because I was imagining Pam with a messy baby in her hands.
“Does that mean you get to have a baby shower?” she asked.
Now it was Eric’s and my turn to look at her astonished. “What?” I asked.
“When people have babies they have baby showers. It’s when you get a bunch of your friends together and…”
“I know what a baby shower is, Pam. Thank you, and yes, I suppose I get to have a baby shower when I’m seven or eight months pregnant,” I said. That’s when all my acquaintances from Bon Temps usually had theirs.
“And when will that be?” she asked.
“I’m barely a month pregnant, so…” I did some math.
“August. The baby is due at the end of September,” Eric supplied helpfully. Well, look at him! He’d already done the math.
“There’s no time to waste. You have to set up a registry and we’ll have to close Fangtasia that night. I wonder how many games we can fit in one night… and you’ll have to take care of the food because only you will know your aversions. But it will be August, so I suppose the usual summer fare will be acceptable…”
“Pam!” Eric interrupted. I wasn’t sure whether to roll my eyes or laugh at her enthusiasm.
“Yes, Master,” she said, tilting her head to the side with an angelic smile.
“We told you because you’re the most important member of our family, but we will not announce anything until Sookie enters the second trimester. Therefore you may not make plans for a baby shower until I give you permission,” he said. I thought that was kind of harsh. She could have started with some of it, I thought. But, if I was the one who was going to waddle around with a baby in my belly, I would be more than happy to let the other two fight as to when or how everything else would be taken care of. Either way, I was happy that Pam’s mind had immediately gone to a celebration after she understood everything.
I went to see Jason the next day. I wasn’t sure if I was going to tell him anything about my pregnancy, or wait until later. Either way, the official story was that I’d had artificial insemination to conceive, because outside of my fae family nobody would believe anything else. Actually, I wished Fintan would have come with me, so he could meet Jason and explain our whole ancestry. There was no way he was going to believe me without proof. But if he knew of his ancestry and understood the incredible beings that existed side by side with humans, then maybe he would understand the true miracle of my pregnancy and I wouldn’t have to lie.
I arrived at his house at about the same time that he’s gotten home from work. He waived at me with a genuine smile, the same one he’d given me a week or so before when I’d brought him the apple pie.
“Hey, sis! What brings you here? Everything okay?” he asked, but his smile didn’t falter.
“Yeah! Everything’s good. Brought you dinner,” I said, holding a bucket of fried chicken. I’d had a hankering, and I knew he would share.
“Thanks! I’m starving too, we had to skip lunch today,” he said, and told me everything about the new project they were working on.
We sat to eat chicken and biscuits with honey, until I couldn’t eat anymore. My stomach became distended with so much food. I really liked fried chicken. I really liked apples too, and right at that moment, even as full as I was, I could have done with a Pink Lady.
“So, what’s up with you? How’s married life?” Jason asked. He was feeding bits of chicken to Tina, who had climbed her way to his lap.
“Did you lose Tina at the beginning of the month?” I asked.
“No, not at all. She’s very much an inside cat, why?”
“I thought I saw her,” I said vaguely. “But it was at night, so I couldn’t be sure,” I finished. I’d have to tell Eric. The goddess had indeed shown herself in a shape that wouldn’t scare me. Or maybe she’d sent the kitten to me, to test me, like Niall had said. I’d passed her test, obviously. I’d taken in a baby kitty and fed her tuna.
“Come on, tell me. How’s Eric treating you?” he pressed, since I hadn’t answered his first question.
“Like a queen, especially lately,” I said, waiting for his next question.
“No, I said especially. We’re very happy Jason. There’s some news I have to tell you,” I paused, watching his face. It was open, waiting for me to continue. “I’m pregnant.”
Jason’s eyed widened. “Who’s the father?”
“We did artificial insemination,” I said quickly. I hoped he wouldn’t ask me any questions because I didn’t feel capable of lying to him any further.
“Eric wanted this?” he asked. It was a valid question, I thought.
“Yes, he wanted it very much, and so did I,” I added, so there would be no confusion.
“So it’s your baby for sure,” he said. I knew what he meant.
“Yes. You’re going to be an uncle. You’re going to be Uncle Jase!” I said and smiled.
He shook his head looking amazed before he smiled along with me. He stood up and pulled me from the chair into a hug. He was imagining little blond boys running around the backyard playing touch football with him. Okay, I could take that.
We spoke a little longer until it was time for me to go meet Eric at Fangtasia. I warned Jason not to say anything to anybody yet, that it was my news to give. I knew he wouldn’t say anything. Sometimes he wasn’t all there in the smarts department, but he respected information of that nature for the most part.
There seemed to be a commotion at Fangtasia that evening. I parked in the back, passing by a limo that was parked out front. When I walked in, Pam appeared by my side, and without a word she put her arm around my shoulder and steered me to Eric’s office.
The office was full of people. Pam wove me through and delivered me to Eric, who was standing behind his desk. I finally saw who was there. It was Queen Sophie-Anne, Andre, Mister Cataliades, and a pretty girl with silver spiky hair dressed like a rainbow.
“What’s going on?” I asked, looking up at Eric.
“Sookie,” the Queen said my name, getting my attention. “I’m afraid I will need your help.” She paused, waiting for me to say something.
“Of course, your majesty,” I said. I didn’t think it would be polite to refuse, even if I didn’t know what the favor entailed.
“Your cousin Hadley has disappeared from court and has taken a valuable jewel with her. I need to find them both. I love Hadley very much, and I know she was upset when she took the jewelry. The jewelry was a gift from the King of Arkansas, and I need it back or he will kill me, quite literally,” the Queen said. To give her credit, she seemed truly upset when she spoke about Hadley, and her expression had changed to one of disgust when talking about her jewelry.
I hated how vampires simply delivered news like that without letting one absorb the information first. “You want me to find Hadley? I can’t read her mind, she’s a vampire,” I said, a tiny bit confused.
“I know, dear Sookie, but perhaps you know where she might have gone. I’m only asking for help, not a miracle. If you exhaust all your options and still don’t find her, I will understand,” she said. I hadn’t been born yesterday. I knew she meant my options were my fae family, and I knew she was asking me to seek help from them.
Great! What in the world made the Queen think I could find Hadley? Her standard m.o. was to run away, and it always had been. She’d been impossible to find without super vampire strength. Now she could be anywhere.
I shook my head. “Fucking Hadley,” I muttered.