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Friday, November 9, 2012

Chapter 46 ~ End of Bliss

'A baby? … A son? … A reborn god? … Many children, many reborn gods.' Eric lay stretched out on his side gazing down at Sookie while she slept. He had spent very little time with her over the last two days. Instead, he roamed the wilds of the woods around his cabin, trying to clear his head, rejoining her only when he felt through the bond that she had fallen asleep. He knew the distance he had put between them had hurt and worried her, so each day he left her a note promising that he would explain everything to her as soon as he figured it out for himself. That the distance he was keeping had nothing to do with her or them as bondeds, but just a way for him to sort through all that Odin had revealed to him. He knew Sookie was an insecure woman, and he didn't like that he was hurting her, but he'd needed time alone to make sense of his new world.

Unfortunately, tonight was the night they would be driving back to Stockholm, and he was no closer to determining how he felt about everything he had been told than he was two days ago. He was still suffering the effects of shock from learning that not only was he part fae, half god, and Odin's son, but that he was about to sire the first vampire baby in history. A baby who would consequently be the god that had sired him, reborn in a new body. If this wasn't enough to get his head around, this son would be the first child in a line of many, and their mother was his bonded, a human woman, or, perhaps, only partially human woman, who would never grow old or die as long as he gave her his blood, and together they were destined to remake the world.

What might be hardest for him to accept was that all of it was predestined. That even Godric had played a role in an immense mythological chessboard where Eric had found he was more pawn than king. He had lived a proactive life, used to leading and having others follow, of clear decision-making, of being autonomous. It was unfathomable, unimaginable even to him that his cunning adaptation over the long centuries he'd walked the Earth as vampire were all part of some master plan. And that ALL of it centered on the sleeping beauty next to him.

He knew he needed to at least come to terms with the baby. He couldn't keep this from Sookie for much longer. No doubt the moment they met with the Ancient Pythoness and Niall, one or both of them would bring up the pregnancy. Not to mention that within a very short time, the pheromones excreted by Sookie would alter her scent, and the entire supernatural community would know and recognize it. He had to tell, and soon, but he couldn't speak with her about it until he knew how he felt about it.

He remembered, as a human, being proud to learn his wife Aude was carrying his child. Remembered, too, praying for a son. However, he also remembered having very little to do with his first born son, or the children that followed, and this would not be an option with Sookie. She would expect him to be a father by today's standards, and he just didn't know if he could do that. He didn't know if he could hold a baby and rock it to sleep. He didn't know if he could devote care and attention to a being that was so small and helpless. He found children amusing, as he'd told Pam at the club months ago when the shifter brought two, but that was only for short periods. Being around one all night every night of his existence? He doubted he'd find that as amusing. He wasn't sure if he could care about a baby, and, if he couldn't care about his son the way Sookie would need him to, it would break her heart.

He had no doubts that, once she got over her own initial shock, she would be excited. He knew she had wanted children but forfeited that dream to be with a man whose thoughts didn't hurt her. However unknowingly, she had made that sacrifice when she chose to be with Bill, and it carried over now into her relationship with him. So, to her, this would probably be a blessing once she came to terms with the fact she was giving birth to a god. 

Sookie just didn't have it in her not to love a child, especially her own. Once she had time to think about this new development, he knew she would be all about embracing that woman's dream of a perfect little house with a dog and their children playing in the yard, and she'd expect him to be the adoring father. She'd expect him to care for their children as he cared for her … and, if he couldn't, he didn't think she'd be able to forgive him.

He had to come to terms with how drastically his life had just changed, and he needed to be ok with it. As Odin said, he needed to be strong for Sookie. While she would be excited about having a child, she would also be terrified. Terrified of the truly unknown as this event was unprecedented. Terrified that their enemies would target their child. Terrified that she couldn't do this no matter how much she might want it. He had promised to be her strength when hers faltered, and he could do no less now.

He'd been staring at her angelic face, following the line of the lush curls of her blond hair, the color so like his own, falling over her naked shoulders and breasts, but now let his eyes move down to her belly where her hand rested as she slumbered. It was flat and smooth, showing no indication of the new life it held, but, soon enough, that would change. Soon she would grow round and heavy with his son. So, how did he feel about that? How did he feel knowing his seed, his seed that had long been dead, had taken root inside her body and a part of them both was growing in her womb to house the spirit of a former warrior god?

'I am uncertain about all of this. Pam was my only true child, as I barely remember my human children. Times were so different and I spent so little time with my family back then, always out for months on end raiding, by today's standards I would be a stranger to them. But this child? This child I will live with day in and day out. Sookie will want me to take a significant part in his life, and in the lives of the children that follow. I will need to. If they will truly be vampires, I will, in essence, be their Maker, and Sookie will not have the means to teach them to be what they are. She can love them, and care for them, but she cannot teach them to control their blood lust. She will not have the strength or speed to keep up with them, and, in order to establish the Maker and child bond, I will need to be with them. I will have no choice but to help raise them, but I don't know if I can.'

Eric smiled ruefully. 'I have only held a baby three times in my life. All three times were when my human children were born, and I held them only once after their births. Then I handed them back to their mother, and had so little to do with them. I never saw my children grow to true adulthood. My eldest was but 13 when I was turned, and I don't know what happened to them after I left with Godric. It's been so long I can't even remember mourning their loss. So how can I care for this child? How can I be the father that Sookie will not only want me to be, but need me to be? Demand me to be?'

Eric's attention turned to Thor who moved restlessly in his sleep near the bed, apparently dreaming. He was surprised to find himself feeling ashamed for not having been around to play ball with the dog. The little domestic moments in the cabin had been enjoyable for him, satisfying on levels he hadn't conceived. The emotions were strange and disquieting, and he was feeling apart from himself.

He focused again on Sookie's lithe form. 'Is this child something I can be joyous over? Or merely accepting of? Sookie will know if I am not happy with this development. She will sense it in me. She has begun to be able to read me as much as I read her, and it will break her heart if she learns I am not happy about this. Do I even want to be happy about this? Do I want to be a father in the truest sense of the word? I have been vampire so long; the idea of siring children has never crossed my mind in a thousand years. In all my millennia on this earth I have never thought, wished, hoped, or even dreamed of this. So how do I feel now that the impossible is my reality?'

Lying there beside his true mate, his bonded, his lover, his Sookie, Eric felt utter chaos inside him. He had no heading. No compass. He was a ship without a rudder … and that's when he got an idea. He needed help in accomplishing the task of determining what all this meant to him. Odin had given Sookie a means for him to do that. 

Rising from the bed carefully so as not to wake her, he made his way to the chest holding Godric's journal and the talisman that Odin had given Sookie. Taking out the Aegishjalmur, he sat down cross-legged before the fire with it clutched in both hands.

Closing his eyes, he whispered, "Give me guidance. Sort the chaos of my mind."
The effect was immediate. Power radiated out of his Mjolnir, the last of the power of the Norse gods embodied inside him, flowing through his arms and into his hands to surround the Aegishjalmur. The amulet began to glow and Eric's eyes lit up as visions overtook him. He saw the future … and it was glorious!

He saw him and Sookie standing side by side with dozens of tall strong golden haired warriors that resembled him greatly. He saw women, so much like his Sookie, smiling at him, and he knew, he knew, they were their children. The vision shifted and he saw himself teaching a young golden haired vampire boy how to wield a sword while Sookie looked on as triplets played beside her as she breastfed another baby. The boy was fast and agile, his fangs descended in his excitement as he sparred with his father. Eric grinned and watched as the vision shifted again. This time he saw himself in battle, a vicious and bloody battle as he swung his new sword with deadly precision while three boys that looked so much like him heaved their own as they watched each other's backs. 

United, they were an unstoppable force as they took down an entire army. He felt pride well up in his chest as the vision shifted yet again. This one showed him sitting on a throne in a great hall with Sookie beside him, and lining the walls were dozens upon dozens of other thrones occupied by their children. They were mighty, they were great, and they were his. The vision shifted once more, and he saw himself making love to Sookie who was heavily swollen with child. He saw his hands smooth over her blossoming belly and, as he sat before the fire in the cabin, his cock hardened with desire just at the sight. As this last vision began to fade, and awareness returned to him, he heard whispered words in his mind.

Behold the future. Behold destiny. Behold what is right and good, Chosen King of the Mother. It awaits you.

The light faded from his eyes and body as the Aegishjalmur fell silent in his hands. Eric sat staring at it, reviewing what he had just seen. He saw himself with a family … his family. A family of mighty warriors and beautiful daughters that looked so much like their mother. He saw himself standing side by side with his sons as they took on entire armies of humans with advanced weapons intent on annihilation. He saw himself holding his pregnant mate as he made love to her … and it was good! Unnamed emotions rose up inside him and he couldn't decipher them, he couldn't understand them, but he realized one true thing. He wanted this.

He was unsure how to be a father, but he was certain anything a human male could do, he would excel at. 'Besides, certainly Sookie will handle most of the infant care and I will only truly take part in the raising once they are up and walking. Once they are capable of moving around and learning, then I shall raise them much as Godric raised me, and I raised Pam. It should not be too hard, especially if they carry any of the memories from their former lives. There isn't much I can do before then anyway. Babes are meant to be cared for by the mother. I am still unsure how the birthing and caring of these babes will go. If they are vampires, they will need blood, not food, yet in the vision, I saw Sookie breast feeding.' Eric thought on that oddity as he stared at the talisman before deciding that most of these questions they would learn the answers to from the Ancient Pythoness, or through simple experience when the children came.

Still holding the talisman, his gaze was drawn back to Sookie lying asleep on their bed and he smiled. This is right. He would be a father, and she would be a mother. They would raise children that were gods reborn, but they would be their children. They would carry his blood and hers. She would love them, and he would train and guide them to be great. He was still uncertain what the future held for him and Sookie with regard to the full prophecy, but he knew now that he no longer cared. Prophecy or not, he was going to be a father. As the images of the future he'd seen floated in his mind, he thought, 'And I think I'm really going to enjoy it. My sons will be great. I will teach them as Godric taught me, and my daughters will have their mother's heart. Their beauty will be without equal.'

Having finally made peace with what Odin had revealed to him, he returned the Aegishjalmur to its resting place beside Godric's journal and moved to lie on his side next to Sookie again. There were still many problems that he and his bonded would need to overcome, but he knew to his marrow, together, they would rise above them. He would fight anyone and everyone he had to in order to keep Sookie safe, and she would always be there waiting for him to welcome him with open arms when his warring was done. It would be a nice life. He had some concerns as to the supernatural world's reaction to learning that Sookie would give him children, but if Odin said the Pythoness would rally them around, he could be certain it was true. The Pythoness herself had made it clear she was in his and Sookie's corner completely. The supernatural world would follow her lead without question.

Wrapping his arm around Sookie's waist he drew her into the curve of his own body. It had been two days and he wanted her intensely, rabidly, passionately. He was also fairly sure that Sookie would need the comfort of his touch to soothe her hurt and worry from over the distance he'd put between them over the last few days. He'd felt her longing through the bond, and he'd wanted to answer it, but he'd needed to come to terms with and accept Odin's revelation. He was still angered that he'd been led to believe a lie his entire life, and that he'd been kept in the dark about why he was so different than everyone else, but if those secrets allowed him to find his Sookie, he could make peace with them.

Moving his hand up to cup the fullness of Sookie's breast, he leaned down to nuzzle her shoulder. They only had a few hours before they had to leave for Stockholm and he wanted to make good use of them. It had been far too long since he'd been buried inside her. 

"Sookie," he purred before scraping his fangs along the curve of her neck. "Wake up, my Sookie, I want you."

Feeling a sharp burst of lust through the bond, Sookie's eyes fluttered open. She let out a gasp as strong, insistent fingers slipped between her thighs and began to stroke the satin warmth of her. She wanted this, she wanted Eric, but first she needed answers. His separation from her the last two days had hurt her. She understood he needed time to think, but she hadn't seen him at all for two whole days! He couldn't just slip back into bed with her and carry on like nothing had happened!

Pushing his hand away from between her thighs, she sat up abruptly. Eric now saw her eyes were pinched and red rimmed and he felt a pang in his chest realizing she'd cried herself to sleep, and, checking the bond, he saw his actions wholly to blame. The hand on her breast went to grab her shoulders and draw her back down into a reaffirming embrace but Sookie shifted her body away from him and his hand fell instead to the space between them on the bed. She glared down at him.

Eric knew what she wanted, knew and felt it. He had intended to speak with her all along; he'd just been hoping it could be after they mated. Realizing that wasn't going to happen, he shifted, moving to support his head on the extension of his raised fist from his crooked elbow, and said, "You wish to talk first."

Yanking the sheet up over her breasts so he'd look at her eyes and nowhere else, Sookie affirmed, "Damn right I do. Where have you been?"

"In the woods around the cabin. I was never far from you, just far enough away to think."

"Because you couldn't think around me?"

"Not about this."

"What is 'this'?"

"What Odin revealed to me about myself … and us."

Sookie's voice hitched with worry. "What Odin said to you made you rethink 'us'?"

Knowing her insecurities had been beating at her, Eric sat up as quickly, pulled Sookie into his lap bridal style, and kissed her forehead softly, assuring her, "Sookie, no. Not like that. We're together now, lover. You belong to me in every way for all time. I've told you before, and I'll tell you as many times as I need to in order for you to finally get it … I'm never letting you go. I'll never let another have you. I want you for eternity, and I will have you."

His mouth slanted down onto hers and he kissed her again. "You're mine, Sookie, know it, feel it, get used to it."

She held his gaze for a long moment. Seeing the truth in his eyes, she let out the breath she'd been holding and cuddled into his chest, tucking her head under his chin. "You hurt me, Eric. I was worried. You just left me here and took off. I didn't know what to think. I didn't want to push you, but I didn't want you to just up and leave me like that."

"I am sorry you were hurt," he acknowledged and hurried to continue when he saw her brows furrow. "I am sorry my actions caused you hurt," he said, nuzzling her nose with his own. "Sookie, what Odin told me truly left me speechless. Our lives are about to change in a way that no one else's ever has. Odin didn't just tell me he was my father, he told me about the inescapable nature of our connection, he told me about our future, and, I needed time and space to come to terms with it all, to decide how I felt about everything, before I could return to you. I've done that and now it is time to move forward."

Eric thought about telling her everything, but decided it had to wait. Selfishly, he knew if he told her now she'd become upset and wouldn't have sex with him and he couldn't have that. He needed her, needed her body, needed the intense rapture he felt when he was deep inside her and she was holding on to him for dear life. It was going to take her some time of her own to come to grips with Odin's revelation and they had to return to Stockholm in just a few hours. She'd have to play her part in front of the other vampires in attendance, and he didn't need her overly emotional and showing fear. He decided it would be best if he waited until they were back in Bon Temps. He'd get her home, sit her down, explain that she was now pregnant with a god, that their son was only the first of many, and then he'd help her come to terms with it.

His decision made, he cupped Sookie's face in his hand, and explained, "I will tell you everything when we get home. There is a lot to go over, and much of it will shock you. We must leave for Haldar's court in a few hours, and I don't want you upset when we get there. Just as I needed time and space to accept everything, you undoubtedly will as well. Because of this, I would prefer to wait until we are back home and you can have both.  However, I want you to know that I am happy about this. Concerned about the problems and repercussions likely to result from this new development, but I'm happy for us. I want you to understand that now."

"Is it bad? I mean, if it had you hiding out in the woods for two days, it couldn't be good."

Stroking his thumb over her full lips, Eric promised, "It's not bad, it is just completely unexpected. Nothing like this has ever happened before. Nothing. It took me awhile to get over the shock, and understand what it meant for us, but, now that I've done that, I'm happy about it. You will be too. Once you've taken the time to get over your shock, I'm certain you will be even more pleased by this news than I am."

"Then I want to know now."

"No. It is best to wait for when you won't have to be around others."

"Eric, I—"

"Sookie, trust me. It is best if we wait until we're home for us to discuss this. As I said, there is much to go over and where I took two days to get over my shock and sort through it all, you might want more. That is not an option right now. We must return to Stockholm tonight, and I do not want your thoughts consumed with this."

She searched his face. Eric's beautiful eyes were observing her, his features relaxed and open. Nodding, she replied, "Ok. We'll wait, but, as soon as we get home, I want to know."
"And I promise to tell you … now, my lover, it has been two whole days."

Realizing where his thoughts were headed, Sookie acted as uninterested as she could as she worked to stifle a smile. "Not my fault. I was here the whole time, and, as you said, we need to leave soon so I should start packing all our stuff in the suitcases. Let me up." She went to wriggle off him and he held her steadfast.
Knowing she was teasing, Eric played along. 

"Come my Sookie, let me worship you." His mouth fell on the curve of her ear and he raked his teeth against her lobe. He could feel her heartbeat accelerate, could scent her arousal, and his grin turned feral.

"Why should I?" Her eyes danced with amusement.

"Because you are my goddess, and deserve to be worshipped." His eyes were bright with hunger.

"Try again," she grinned.

Moving Sookie to lie on her back beneath him his hands began to map out her body, charting it with his fingers, as, through the bond, he sent her hot, carnal images. Her grin was lost as she struggled to breathe. He ran his tongue along her neck, sliding down to dip into her throat, his teeth nibbling at her shoulders.

"Because I am going through withdrawal. I am addicted to your body, and I need my fix," he confessed.

She gasped as Eric swirled his tongue around her nipple and let out a low, shuddering moan, "Harder."

Grazing his fangs along her sensitized peak, his tongue wrapped around her nipple and tugged, drawing it deep into his mouth. Sookie arched up, pushing her breast against his mouth as hot tendrils of pleasure poured down her nerve endings. Eric growled, "I cannot suffer the torment of not being inside you any longer … end my pain, my älskade, take me inside you and let me worship you as you deserve to be worshipped."

Raising her knees to cage his body between her thighs, Sookie set her hands on his shoulders and drew them languidly down the front of his chest. "Well, since you put it that way, I guess I can ease your suffering, but first I want you to make love to me with your mouth. Then I'll welcome you inside me."

"As my lover wishes."

As Eric moved down her body to settle between her thighs, he inhaled, the seductive scent of her sex filling his senses. She watched him swallow hard. His large hands caught her behind her knees as her thighs spread wantonly, wanting, waiting. His mouth sealed itself over her sex; his tongue thrusting like a blade and Sookie lost herself to the searing pleasure. He flicked her pearl and suckled its hardness. He began to devour her. Writhing, her hand dug frantically into his hair to hold him to her as she moaned, "Oh, Eric."

He loved when she moaned his name, but he intended to make her scream it. Over and over.
And he set to work doing just that.

Hours later, Eric pulled the Land Rover Haldar had loaned them into the underground parking garage at the Swedish king's home. He left their baggage in the car so that the servants could load it into the limos that would transport them to the airport. He'd put Godric's journal, and Sookie's talisman in her shoulder bag as he didn't really concern himself with any of the other belongings. Anything else was replaceable should something happen to them.

Taking Sookie's hand, he led her into the house with Thor padding behind. The puppy had slept the entire way on Sookie's lap as she lulled him to sleep with gentle pets. Eric had just gotten off the phone with Haldar and the king had told him, in a tone laden with subtext, that Han and Ivan were in his office waiting for them. From the king's cryptic words, Eric figured something was wrong that he did not wish to discuss over the phone. Eric waited while Sookie handed Thor to an attendant, who was instructed briefly on what to feed the dog. That taken care of, they proceeded quickly to Haldar's office where Eric knocked only once and was given leave to enter immediately.

As Eric pulled her into the large, masculine office of the king, Sookie's smile faltered as she took in the grave expressions on everyone's faces. "What's wrong?"

While Han and Ivan shared a concerned glance, Haldar got straight to the point. "Eric's queen is up to something. She disappeared a few days after the two of you arrived here, and hasn't been seen since. Her child, Andre, has been running the kingdom in her absence, and there have only been reports of phone calls between them. She must know there are spies in her court, but, not knowing who they are, she simply left to keep anyone from knowing what she's up to." 

Looking at Eric, he continued, "You should be prepared for an attack when you get back. Han and Ivan have already changed all your flight plans. The jet you were going to take will leave as scheduled and arrive at the original landing point. You will take a different plane and arrive at a private air strip to thwart a potential attack upon landing."

Eric sent a wave of comfort to Sookie through the bond when he felt her seize up in fear. Tightening his hand around hers, he reasoned, "She would be a fool to attack us. Not only do I have the added advantage of my telekinesis, but also Han, Ivan and I are three of the best warriors in the world. She has no hope of defeating us through force."

"There is more," Han cautioned. "The Pythoness can no longer see events clearly. Our enemy blocks her sight, but she tells us she sees shadows of danger." Staring pointedly at Sookie, he conveyed the bad news. "Sookie, she says something bad is about to happen to you after you return home. She says she sees you crying, and she sees shadows in your heart. She says you are not harmed physically, from what she can see, but something is going to happen to upset you greatly. You need to prepare yourself."

Looking up at Eric, Sookie whispered tightly, "We should have stayed at the cabin."

Sending her comfort through the bond, Eric's voice was controlled. "There is nothing we can do but head straight into it. We go home, and we face whatever problems there are to face."
Haldar smiled. "I knew that would be your answer. Your jet is waiting. Luck in battle, my friend."

An hour later, Eric, Sookie, Han, and Ivan were all seated inside the plane's cabin. Thor was curled up in his own seat, mouthing a squeaky toy which made for occasional amused glances from everyone. Sookie's head rested on Eric's chest. One of his arms wrapped around her shoulders while another reassuringly stroked up and down her arm. Her tension was palpable and he was trying to send her calm through the bond. Han and Ivan watched the easy companionship the two now shared, and Han asked, "Do you both bear the true markings?"

Sookie looked up at Eric while her vampire pressed, "You know of our markings?"

Nodding, Han answered, "She told us you would bear them … may we see?"

Eric regarded Han silently for a moment before flicking his gaze to Ivan's. Both enforcers wore eager expressions. Deciding there would be no harm in it, he released his hold on Sookie to begin unbuttoning his shirt. He slid the silk garment from his shoulders to bare his full chest with the new black markings along his right side. He watched Sookie raise her purple cashmere sweater beside him to show her hips and abdomen that were marked as well. "Can you tell us what they mean?"

Han and Ivan gazed at the markings with undiluted awe. Just as the Ancient Pythoness had foretold, The One had used the connection Sookie provided to mark them both. Each was now a vessel of The One's power. Eric and Sookie had no equals in this world save each other from the moment their marks appeared. They were truly great. Shaking his head, Ivan replied, "Not our place to explain. Answers to your questions are at home. She tell you everything."

Sookie lowered her sweater as she looked irritably at Eric who was putting his shirt back on. "Don't you ever get tired of hearing people tell us that? 'Later' seems to be all they can say."

Eric laughed and kissed the top of Sookie's head as he re-buttoned his silk shirt. "My lover, 'later' is only hours away. We'll have our answers soon."

"I want your answers first, Eric. I want to know what Odin said to you."

Before Eric could reply, Han asked, "You spoke with your father?"

Eric and Sookie both stiffened. The Viking leaned forward and hissed, "You knew!"

"Indeed. She told us he was your father, however, she did not mention that he would speak to you. That is strange. As a vampire, the magic of your blood wards your mind in stronger ways than a human's. With his power so depleted, Odin should not have had the strength to pull your mind from your body to speak to you as Isis spoke to Sookie. Nor should he have had the strength to come into your mind. How did he speak to you? What did he say?"

Eric sat back against the couch he and Sookie has been sitting on and draped his arm across the back to pull her against his side again. 

"That is my and my bonded's secret. You have yours to worry about. None of what he said, or how he contacted me, is any of your business." Moving his hand from Sookie's shoulder, he dropped it to her waist to settle atop her stomach, his fingers fanning out possessively, and added, "Besides, I'm sure you know the most important details of what he revealed to me already. Do you not?"

Understanding the unstated, Han and Ivan shared a secret smile before Han confirmed, "Indeed. The time for the world to be remade is here. The Old Ones return."

Looking between the three men, Sookie groused, "Oh that's just great, now all three of you are in on a secret concerning me that I still don't know about. That is so not fair! Why can't I know what's going on if it has to do with me?"

Squeezing her gently, Eric assured, "I promise to tell you all that I know as soon as we are home, my älskade. You can wait a few more hours."

"Would you say that if I were the one with the information, and you were having to wait?"

"You still haven't told me everything your grandmother said to you, and I'm patiently waiting for that information, am I not?"

Realizing he had a point, Sookie stuck her tongue out at him and dug her book out of her bag to continue reading. Eric chuckled and took out his own book while Han and Ivan did the same. The rest of the trip was made in mostly silence with only brief conversation.

Home! As the jet taxied on the runway, Sookie pulled out her cell phone and tried to turn it on, only for her phone to beep that the battery was low. While Eric was checking his messages she asked, "Do we have a phone charger for my phone in the car we came in? I want to check my messages."

"No. Do you not have the spare battery I gave you?" Eric replied as he scanned through the messages Pam had left him.

"I just used up the last of it. I forgot to bring a charger with me, so I had to use the spare battery. I got a message from Jason saying he was going on a little mini vacation a few days after we left, and I had a message from Sam and Tara about how he just kind of up and left, and I wanted to see if he was back yet."

"We'll be home soon enough and you can check then."

Sookie watched Thor run off the tarmac to a grassy area to relieve himself and then bound back happily. He put his front paws up on her legs and she smiled, scooping him into her arms.

Eric continued. "I'm afraid we're going to have to take a side trip to Fangtasia first," He placed his hand at the small of Sookie's back and led her toward the convoy of their waiting cars while the flight personnel loaded their luggage.
"Why? It's Monday. Aren't you closed?"

"Yes. Pam has contacted me and said the queen and her entourage are there waiting for us. Pam said that the queen claims she has new orders to give me concerning the Fellowship problem, but Pam suspects Sophie-Anne is up to something. I must agree since she has so suddenly reappeared after her two week sabbatical."

Sookie could feel her fear rise. As she slid into the car beside Eric, she blurted, "Do you think she's going to attack us?"

Han and Ivan took up their positions in the front seats, while Thor curled up in the seat well. Eric soothed, "No. Pam is not just my child, but also a smart woman. She has ensured several of my underlings will be at the bar by the time we arrive there. This little meeting will be in front of witnesses, and furthermore, the queen would be a fool to try and attack me in such a way. She had little hope of besting me before I gained my new power, let alone now. She is reckless, but not stupid. She will seek to do away with me when I least expect it. Whatever she plans for tonight will be to strike out at me psychologically, not physically."

Sookie's fears were not eased. She continued to fret all the way to the bar as Eric stroked his thumb over the pulse on her wrist. He would whisper softly to her that everything was going to be ok; that he would let no one hurt her, and that the queen would not be able to hurt him. Sookie knew this in her head, she knew that Eric, with his telekinesis, was nearly invincible, but that did not keep the doubt out of her heart. Until Sophie-Anne was permanently out of their lives she would fear the woman.

When they pulled up to the bar, Sookie waited for Eric to come around the side of the car to help her out. Since the bar was closed, Ivan simply turned the car off and he and Han got out to follow them inside the bar's back door, flanking them as they usually did. Depositing Thor inside Eric's office, Eric and Sookie moved down the hall to enter the main area of the bar and found Sophie-Anne sitting regally in Eric's seat atop the dais. The queen was dressed in a bright red cocktail dress with matching diamonds and rubies, and beside her stood Andre, and the twins Sookie had seen the last time she'd met the queen. Bill was standing off to the side of the stage beside Pam, and he looked just as confused as she felt. The bar was filled with about ten other vampires. Some she recognized as being underlings of Eric's, and the one's in suits she assumed worked for the queen.

Eric led Sookie and their enforcers toward the queen. He stopped them before the stage and bowed his head while Sookie curtsied at his side. From the corner of his eyes, Eric saw Bill stiffen. The younger vampire had obviously scented that Eric had finally laid claim to Sookie in every way. Resisting the urge to smirk at the Civil War veteran, Eric focused on the queen as he rose from his bow along with Sookie and greeted, "My queen, it is a pleasure to see you again."

"Is it?" Sophie-Anne asked as a secret smile lit her features. She looked predatory. She let a moment of silence roll out before she asked, "Did you enjoy your vacation, my sheriff?"

"Indeed." Tightening his arm around Sookie's waist, Eric purred, "It was most pleasurable."

Slanting her gaze towards Sookie, Sophie-Anne agreed, "Yes. I can see that … or, rather, smell it."

Sookie shifted uncomfortably. The queen's eyes narrowed with cynicism. "The scent of your semen is heavy on the girl. Is she enjoyable? I was informed she had no knowledge of intimacy before I sent Compton to her, so I wonder if she is able to keep up with you. Your reputation as a lover is well known. You go through more women than I do."

Eric knew the queen was trying to shame Sookie, but he could do nothing about it. When in public, certain appearances had to be tolerated. He sent Sookie warmth and affection through the bond as he replied, "Sookie has surpassed all my expectations. As your majesty said, I have had many lovers, none can compare to her."

Tapping her fingers on the arm of the chair as she continued to regard Sookie, Sophie-Anne laughed, "Well, that is something, is it not? Such high praise from so famed a bed partner as the mighty Northman. 'Tis a shame he is not interested in sharing. I would be very interested in sampling such a delicacy if you are all my sheriff claims you to be. Tell me little telepath. Would you come to my bed if your Master allowed it?"

Before Sookie could respond, Eric pulled her tightly against his side, and firmly stated, "Sookie is mine alone, and I will never share her. Her answer is not needed as the situation you propose will never arise."

There was silence in the bar again as Eric and the queen stared off. The tension was charged, pressing in on Sookie with flashing neon danger signs (Bridge Out! Falling Rock Zone! Slippery When Wet!) and she trembled in spite of herself. The waves of strength and support Eric was sending to her through the bond did little to soothe her fear. She was so afraid that the queen had a trap in place for them, and she didn't want any fighting. She was embarrassed by what the queen had said, but knew she was only trying to goad Eric. Sookie was more than willing to get past the hurtful, barbed words if it meant the queen would let them leave here.

Sophie-Anne was the one to finally break the standoff. She smirked at Eric and laughed, "You never did like to share your toys. I maintain my position that I wish I had managed to secure her first, but I guess it is enough that her skill is made available to me. I did, however, find myself inspired by your intention to take another child, Eric. I decided to expand my own little family while you were gone."

Eric had not lived this long not to miss the subtext in her words. He could taste her malevolence. All his senses were ramped up, coiled, ready. Sophie-Anne's words worried him. She had taken more children than most vampires did, and, as of yet, only four were still living, so her turning another vampire in itself was not unusual, however … there was something in her words that made his nerve endings twitch, something in her eyes that disturbed him, something in the arrogant smirk on her face that put him on edge. Something was not right, and he was beginning to suspect the night was about to go very, very wrong.
From the corner of his eye he watched Pam shift so subtly no one else probably noticed it, and he knew she was sharing the same thoughts. Her earlier emails had said she had no idea what the queen was up to, as Sophie-Anne was being very secretive, but he knew Pam was ready to fight for him if the need arose. Focusing on the queen, he asked neutrally, "You have taken another child? Did you decide to turn Sookie's cousin, perchance?"

Sophie-Anne's smile grew fangy. She looked demonic. Her words were for Eric, but her eyes blazed at Sookie. "Of course not! She was a pretty thing, but not vampire material in the least. I grew bored with her. She outlived her usefulness, and was disposed of. I like fresh pets, as you know, Northman."

Sookie's eyes went wide in understanding. 'She killed Hadley! Oh my God! She … she killed her!' She felt Eric pull her tautly against his side as he shoved strength and resolve to her through the bond. She could feel tears pricking her eyes as she fought to stay in control. She couldn't endanger Eric or herself by speaking out of turn while before the queen. She would cry and scream—and mourn for her cousin later. Right now, she had to keep calm.

Eric was glad that Sookie was able to keep control. He desperately wanted to kill Sophie-Anne, but his honor would not allow him to attack someone he'd sworn allegiance to unless they betrayed him first. His word was his bond. He was often tricky with his promises, but he had never broken a sworn oath. He refused to rise to the queen's baiting and simply remained silent.

The queen was not pleased that the human hadn't reacted by screaming in anger or bursting out crying at the news her cousin had been killed, nor was she pleased Eric had no reaction either. She decided her teasing was at an end. It was time to reveal her reason for calling the meeting. "Well, I guess it's time for me to introduce you to my new child." Flicking her hand at Andre to show he should leave to collect the new vampire from across the street where her new child was waiting in her limo, the queen continued, "This child had no particular skill or use for me, but the entertainment alone I shall receive from this turning is payment enough for the gift I have bestowed upon the mortal." Looking directly at Sookie, she added, "I'm quite interested in your opinion of my new child, little telepath."

Eric's body tensed. He had been a fool to think the queen would strike out against him psychologically. All knew he had few weaknesses. Godric, who was gone, Pam, who was quite capable of protecting herself, and now Sookie—they were his only weaknesses. He was a fool not to consider that the queen would once again use his bonded to further her own goals. He didn't know who Andre was about to lead into the bar, but he was sure it would not end well for the emotional wellbeing of his lover. He began sending her comfort and support through the bond in preparation for whatever was about to unfold.

Sookie didn't hear Andre and the new vampire enter the bar from the front door, but she knew when they had the moment she saw the horrified expression cross Bill's features, while Pam's fangs snapped down. Pam rarely showed emotion, so seeing the clear rage on Eric's child's face sent fear ripping down her spine. Whoever was about to join the Queen before her was not going to be someone Sookie wanted to see a vampire. She tried to mentally brace herself, to prepare … but for what? For whom?

'Oh God don't let it be Lafayette,' she silently prayed. With his recent connections to the vampire world, it very well could be. Sookie's heart was hammering in her chest.

Eric, too, saw the reactions from Compton and his child, and knew the queen had succeeded in striking out at Sookie. Per court protocol, neither he, nor his bonded, could look away from the queen until given leave to do so, so neither of them had turned to see Andre reenter the bar behind them along with Sophie-Anne's new child. However, neither of them missed the words the queen said as she watched Sookie closely.

"Jason, say hello to your sister."


  1. I'm re-reading all of these chapters (again!) as they are posted here, and I love this plot twist so much! It make so much *sense,* especially for Sophie Anne as a character. And it adds such a strong source of tension for the upcoming chapters!

  2. "Well at least he's happy about it..... Wonder how Sookie will take it considering she decided not to have kids because of her ""handicap"". Can't blame her for being upset at his ignoring her for days after being all over her since they'd been there. sigh..... everyone loves keeping secrets from least they could shut up about it in front of her. Think the secrets you all are keeping from her are much more than one little convo with Gran. Ugh Skanky anne. That biatch ...... She REALLY needs to die.


  3. Eric has a lot of explaining to do... but the Queen what a bitch kristie