I hadn’t needed to plead and beg. We were going home because my desire to go home had been echoed by, pretty much, everyone. The whole contingent from the state of Louisiana decided that none of us were safe at that hotel, so we left. Simple. The only bad part was that the vampires all traveled in coffins inside the belly of the plane. The Queen decided we were all to leave immediately, and so immediate was our departure that the plane left only minutes before sunrise. Glad, Diantha, and Mr. C. were all in the main cabin with me, and I had calmed down considerably from my ordeal that now I was just plain tired. It didn’t help that my morning sickness was back in full swing. I had imagined that maybe that was the baby’s way of telling me she was upset. So I slept the whole way home, hoping it would help with the nausea and the exhaustion.
When we arrived in Shreveport, there was Bruce waiting with a van to transfer Eric, Thalia and Pam. The sheriffs of areas three and four were unloaded as well into other waiting vans, and then the plane took off to New Orleans with the Queen’s people and the sheriff of area two.
I was glad to be home, even if I had to put up with Bruce. On the ride to the house, instead of attempting any kind of meaningless conversation with the man, I called Claudine. She was working, so I left her a message. Then I called Amelia. I hadn’t spoken to her in about a week.
“Hey, Preggers! How’s the munchkin?” she asked, not even bothering to ask who it was on the other line. She had me programmed into her phone’s contacts.
“She’s good. We had a huge scare in Chicago so we’re all back early. Everyone from Louisiana boycotted the summit and we all got back today,” I said and filled her in. She liked gossip. “And what’s new with you?” I asked at the end of my account.
“I made a boo-boo,” she said in a shy voice. It must have been a major boo-boo if she was being shy in any way. She was certainly not the type to be shy about anything.
“What happened?” I asked, bracing myself.
“I met this really nice guy, another witch, and we got really kinky one night and I may have, inadvertently, turned him into something other than human,” she said really quickly. Her words had been a jumble, but I’d spent enough time with Glad and Diantha to make out what Amelia was saying.
“What did you turn him into?” I asked, truly curious now. I didn’t know witches could transform people.
“A what?” I asked. I thought she said cat.
“A cat! I turned him into a cat, okay!” she shouted into the line.
“Well, turn him back!” I said, the voice of reason.
“I can’t. Even turning him into a cat is a major feat of magic. I’m not sure how I did it, and now I can’t undo it,” she whined.
This was turning out to be one of the most bizarre conversations in my life. It ranked right up there with the day I found out I was a fairy princess. “So tell Octavia,” I said, again using my very own common sense. This mothering thing suited me.
“If I tell Octavia she’ll punish me for doing this kind of magic. I have to figure it out, and I will, I just need time. Sookie…?”
“Didn’t you say you had a condo you didn’t use?” she asked, her voice dejected.
“You want to move to a condo in Shreveport? Away from your family?” Amelia had never mentioned her family, but I was sure she had some. Didn’t she?
“I am asking whether I can rent your condo, and don’t worry about my family. My dad doesn’t really care. He’s always too busy. So, can I?” she asked.
I started feeling less like a mom and more like a friend. She sounded sad and lost, very much unlike the Amelia I knew. I sighed. She’d made a mistake and was trying to correct it on her own. I could lend her a hand. “Let me run it by Eric tonight and I’ll call you, but I don’t see the problem. We haven’t used the condo in ages.”
We hung up after a little while, and I decided to call Sam. We still weren’t home and I still didn’t want to talk to Bruce.
“Is there something you want to tell me?” Sam asked as soon as he answered his phone. He was another one that had me programmed into his contacts. Didn’t anybody say “hello?” anymore?
“I have tons of things to tell you,” I said, taken aback. “Where do you want me to start?”
Sam took a breath and let it out into the phone. “How you came to be pregnant would be an interesting place to start,” he said. He hadn’t known, and the few times we’d seen each other during the past few months, he hadn’t been able to tell. Since Jason had kept mum about it (something that filled me with a new appreciation for my big bro), Sam found out through the supe vine after what happened the night before. Word traveled fast in the supe world.
“I guess I owe you a visit,” I said, unwilling to talk about it in front of Bruce. Bruce only knew because he had to, in case there was an emergency during the day. He didn’t know how I’d become pregnant, and probably didn’t care.
“I expect one soon, miss. How are you feeling?” Sam asked in a kinder tone.
“Today I feel like crap. I guess I don’t have to tell you what happened last night?” I asked him, suddenly feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders.
“No. Who’s with you today?” he asked, sounding truly concerned. At least there was somebody in the “real” world who understood the kind of danger I was in. However, I didn’t know how to answer. Diantha and Glad had gone on to New Orleans, and Bruce was going to leave as soon as he drove us to our house. Then what?
“You’re thinking that question mighty hard. I’m assuming you have nobody watching you today?” Sam asked.
“No, not really,” I confessed. “We hadn’t gotten that far before we left Chicago.” I was suddenly very concerned. “Let me call… shoot!” I went through my mental Rolodex, trying to figure out a good enough bodyguard for me. Just as I was scrambling, Claudine called me on the other line. I told Sam I’d call him later.
“Where are you?” Claudine asked me as soon as I answered.
“On my way home.”
“Who’s with you?”
“Bruce, but he has to leave as soon as he drops us off.”
“I’m sending Claude,” and with that, she hung up. Well! I wasn’t one to stop her from sending my drop dead gorgeous cousin to me for protection. It felt naughty to think of him that way… he was my cousin, but not that close that it would have been plain wrong. What I didn’t want was another installment of the sex-ed class. I didn’t think I could take much more today.
Then I wondered about the wisdom of having a fairy inside the house. I guessed we’d have to spend our time outdoors as much as possible. And that’s how I found myself sipping peach tea and enjoying the sun in the backyard along with my cousin Claude. The best part? When he gave me his usual hug my morning sickness disappeared as if it had never been.
“How’s business?” I asked. The cousins had been able to buy the club where they worked thanks to a major investment made by me. The money had come from the Queen’s coffers for helping her find the bracelet that Hadley had taken. I figured Claudine had earned that money as much as I had, since she had killed somebody in my defense, and had searched for the bracelet as hard as I did.
“Business is booming, thank you. I’m still doing my thing, but Claudette is now the manager. I think it suits her. She’s bossy to begin with,” Claude said. I giggled. She was bossy.
“Are you dating?” I asked him, curious. I knew he wasn’t dating my friend Tara anymore, since she had taken up with our mutual friend from high school, JB duRone.
“Not really. Why? Are you offering?” he asked and shot me a devastating smile paired with a wink.
“In case you haven’t noticed, I’m kinda knocked up.”
“That only means you have no inhibitions. There’s no danger of you getting pregnant again, although, with me, you never know,” he smirked, and I had no choice but to smile when he made his pecs do a sexy dance. Did I mention he was shirtless? He was working on his tan too.
“You’re a charmer, but I’m happily married.”
“And how is that hunk o’burning vamp? Are you keeping him happy? You don’t want an unhappy guy,” he warned.
“Claude! I’m not going to discuss my love life with you anymore. It’s bad enough you can read it off my brain! Either way, everything was going great until the later part of last night, when some asshole decided I should be dead,” I said, remembering the thoughts of the driver. Claude read me easily and made a worried face.
“We can’t have that. Fae royalty do not become targets of crazed maniacs,” he said reaching for his cell phone.
“What are you going to do?”
“Don’t worry. This isn’t the first time we save your ass. Besides, I love a good fight… or a good covert operation. Trust me, little girl, you’ve given me more thrills in these past few months than I’ve had in the past sixty years,” he said as he texted something to somebody.
I always forgot how much older my cousins were. I found it odd because they behaved like the age they looked. They all looked to be close to thirty, but after talking to them a lot I had pieced together that they were more like two hundred years old. My own grandfather was closer to five hundred! Eternal people just seemed to belong to my world. Too bad I had ended up being the fragile one, with the sort of luck I courted.
“Can you hear the baby? I don’t get anything from her,” I said, figuring maybe he would.
“Babies that young don’t really think about much. Maybe you’re getting it but don’t interpret it correctly. Plus you’re the mother, and the baby’s mind has been developing slowly, sort of… wiggling its way into your brain,” he said.
“I don’t know what that means,” I said, all sorts of confused.
“Your baby’s mind won’t drive you crazy like somebody else’s thoughts might, because it is a part of you. That said, you might not be aware that some of your own thoughts are actually the baby’s. The baby’s mind is at such an early stage of development that there are no true thoughts, more like feelings.”
“How do you know so much?” I asked, still confused, but understanding it a bit better.
“We’re not your only cousins, Sookie. Claudette and Claudine haven’t had children yet, but our other cousins have. Anyway, to answer your question, the baby’s asleep right now. They do that a lot,” he said and grinned.
Something about the way he spoke about “the baby” made my intuition tickle. “You know the sex, don’t you?”
“Yes I do,” he answered without missing a beat, and then frowned. “Now, Sookie, I know you want to know, but I also know you enough that you want Eric to find out at the same time. Tell me I’m wrong.”
I shook my head. “You’re right. It’s only one more week and we’ll find out. I can wait.”
Claude’s phone buzzed. He’d gotten a text message, and when he read it he started to look downright happy, ecstatic even. His grin rivaled the Cheshire cat’s, and he wiggled in his chair in excitement. He immediately started texting back.
“Care to fill me in?” I asked peeved. How dare he not tell me about the super secret plans to keep me safe?
“Did anybody ever tell you how incredibly wealthy our great-grandfather is? We’re about to make the Fellowship’s life a living hell…” he said, typing a text message so fast that his fingers became a blur.
“Everything that can go wrong, will. They will have the worst case of Murphy’s Law on record: their insurance will lapse, their buildings will flood, their stocks will tank, their main guy’s visits to various vampire hookers will be discovered, as will their second’s addiction to V. The vampires are hesitant to do anything against the Fellowship because they’re trying to be good citizens and earn rights… but we don’t have that problem. Nobody knows we exist,” Claude finished his texting with a flourish and hit send. “I copied Eric’s number, the one Claudine gave us.”
“That’s just his regular number,” I said, waving my hand. Eric only had one cell phone number; he just didn’t give it away often.
Claude stayed with me until sunset, and then made sure I’d locked every door before he left. I had to run because there would be three vampires waking up in our garage who did not need to be smelling fairy on me. It didn’t matter. The smell of fairy had lingered a little bit inside the house, so when I came out of the bathroom I found Eric naked on our bed, giving me an exceedingly becoming come-hither look.
Without a word I let my towel drop to the floor and walked to him. He sat up to greet me. Mr. Happy was greeting me too. He reached for my hips, and after kissing our baby, he started running his hands over my body in a hungry way. His tongue made a slow path from my navel, up over my ribcage, until he buried his whole face under my breast. They had become so much bigger, and he loved the extra weight of them on his face.
“How should I take you, my darling? Should I ravage your body from behind?” he nipped at my breast and made me gasp. “Should I lay you down and make sweet love to you?” He ran his tongue in a circle over my nipple and that sweet feeling of desire started making its way down between my legs. “Should I have you ride me?” A growl escaped from his chest, and I knew which one of the three positions he wanted most. I pushed him onto the bed, and he moved back, putting his hands behind his head.
I crawled beside him and swung my leg high on his stomach, nowhere close to his quivering gracious plenty. He moved one hand to touch me more intimately, his thumb knowing exactly where and how to touch. I came down to kiss his mouth, making it sloppy by running my tongue over his lips. He never closed his eyes, but I had to close mine whenever a sweet thrill ran through my body. Whenever I looked into the wild desire in his eyes, my own desire built upon itself, until I couldn’t stand being away from him any longer.
My body found his easily. I reached behind me to guide him, to take him inside me and have my fill of him. I descended slowly, saying what sounded like “ahhh,” like a relief. I moved on him at my own pace, staring into the black pool of his eyes, making him rumble and moan in pleasure. I got so hot that the sweat started trickling down by back, down my chest, between my breasts.
Eric sat up to lick the beads of sweat, finding more around my neck. I couldn’t stand it anymore and began moving faster, panting, moaning. “Mmm, Eric, Eric, mmm…”
“Yeeesss….” He hissed. He leaned back, bracing himself with his arms at either side of him. I was in control again, my swollen nub rubbing against his pelvis and his own golden curls. “Tell me what you want,” he commanded me in a growl.
“I want to come. I want you to bite,” I said breathless without taking my eyes away from him.
“Beg,” he said.
“Please, Eric, please,” I thought I might cry.
“Bite me too,” he said, getting close once again and giving me his shoulder.
I bit him hard, as hard as I could, drawing blood and a feral groan from Eric. I began sucking and he took over the rhythm of our coupling, seeking release. He grunted with the effort until he couldn’t hold himself back and sunk his fangs into my neck. I clamped my lips over the wound I’d made on his shoulder as wave after wave of pleasure crashed and took me out to sea.
Eric’s thoughts transferred. He loved the smell of fairy inside the house, the smell of the sun on me, the way I was always so tight and how I made him come. They weren’t the most coherent thoughts he’d ever had. He had well and truly come undone during his orgasm.
I collapsed against him before he collapsed on the bed. The position soon became uncomfortable with a baby in between us. I moved to his side, with my right arm and right leg draped over him. It finally dawned on me that I’d taken more blood from him during that exchange than the times I’d taken it to feel better from morning sickness.
“I read the message from Claude, so I suppose that is who was here today,” Eric said, running his fingers lazily over my thigh.
“Yeah… hope you’re not mad. Claudine was working, but Claude wasn’t due at the club until tonight. He read my thoughts about the driver, what the driver had been thinking before…”
“Wait,” he interrupted. “You heard him?”
“I did. I thought my fear was what made you lift us off the ground, because I sure didn’t feel yours until later,” I said shaking my head into his shoulder. What a mess!
“I don’t know what made me do that, but your theory is as good as any. I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t realize the car had jumped the curb. We definitely need someone to watch over you during the day,” he said, sort of putting my fears to rest about having Claude watch me.
We were silent for a long time, until the baby kicked and reminded me that I better feed her. I was hungry. Eric felt the kick on his side and chuckled.
“My little darling has woken up,” he murmured and planted a kiss on my hair.
“So now do you accept that she’s a girl?”
“Maybe,” he said then added, “maybe not.”
“You’re so stubborn,” I said looking up at him.
“I learned from the best,” he said and tweaked my nose.
We took a shower together, our soapy bodies sliding around each other. I laughed because taking showers together seemed to be one of our favorite activities, other than making love.
Later, during dinner I told Eric about Amelia wanting to rent our condo, and he said it was fine.
“I’d rather you have friends that are available during the day, and Amelia would be closer than Claudine to help you, should you need help,” was his reasoning.
It made me feel wholly inadequate to be a mother. I didn’t have any friends. Who would my baby play with? I didn’t know anybody who had little kids. I felt very lonely, very suddenly, and the waterworks started.
“Oh, my Sookie… What made you cry?” Eric asked which made me feel even worse. How did he put up with me like this? He needed a stronger woman by his side.
Since he didn’t get an answer to his question, he simply turned the bar stool I was sitting on to face him. He put both hands on my cheeks and made me look at him. “I don’t like to see you cry. I fell in love with your smile, Sookie Northman,” he said in a deep soothing voice, and proceeded to kiss my tears away. When he pulled away he held my gaze again. “Whatever it is, we will solve it together. I love you.”
“I love you too,” I said trying to contain the tears that threatened to spill again.
“Good. I was beginning to think that I was the one who had brought on all this sadness,” he said and smiled a tiny smile.
His phone buzzed on the counter. He reached for it and mouthed “the Queen” before answering it. I didn’t catch much of the conversation because all Eric did was agree with the caller. Agree with the Queen, rather. Whatever she said made Eric happy.
“What?” I asked when he hung up.
“How would you like to spend some time with the demon sisters?” Eric asked.
I frowned in confusion. “They’re very nice and I like them very much, but I don’t want to go to New Orleans.”
“No need for you to travel. Gladiola and Diantha are coming here. They’re your new bodyguards. I didn’t think that Mr. C. would easily part with them, but the Queen found him a suitable replacement. I think this is better than a Britlingen, unless you’d rather have the Britlingen,” he added, but he knew that if I had a choice (which I did) I would choose Diantha and Glad.
“Maybe we should summon the Britlingen when I’m closer to my due date, but I would rather have the girls as my bodyguards,” I said with utter conviction. My night was starting to look up.
My night became complete as we watched the news at eleven. I had curled up on the couch with my head on Eric’s lap, enjoying his gentle touch on my hair, when the news anchor announced that the local chapter of the Fellowship of the Sun had suffered a major blow during a thunderstorm, which weren’t unusual this time of year. Their new building in Minden had been destroyed by the forceful winds. They attributed the sudden collapse to shoddy workmanship when the structure was erected.
“In other news,” the news guy continued, “the Chicago chapter is being investigated for some shady dealings and questions regarding their status as a tax exempt organization. It is believed the whole organization will soon be under investigation by the IRS.”
A slow smile had started to form on my face. The damage was subtle, but it was there. Hit them where it hurts; make them lose the respect of their followers. I was sure the worse news would surface soon. My phone buzzed on the coffee table and Eric did me the favor of getting it for me.
It was a text message. There were only two words, and they were from Claudine: You like?
I sent her a message back with two words of my own: I love.