Chapter 67 – Home
September 24, 2004
“Eric Northman, you vamp your butt up here with my granddaughter and the rest of your family!” Gran yelled from the porch. Of course he obliged and ran Sookie up while Pam helped Frannie and Hunter. As soon as Sookie was within her reach, Gran grabbed her; nobody was surprised with the wailing from both of them at their reunion.
It was a classic Gran hug on steroids: Arms clamped around her baby girl, rocking and patting for so long Eric moved Frannie and Hunter into the living room and started introducing Frannie. “Frannie, this is Jason Stackhouse, Sookie’s brother.”
Since everyone was told about Frannie by Hunter when he’d called earlier, Jason responded warmly to the girl. “Welcome to the family Frannie.” She nodded shyly in thanks. “This is my his girlfriend Michelle.
Eric gestured to the family of three to their right. “Of course you know Dr. Finard but I am unsure if you ever met his family.”
She knelt down and answered. “No but I bet this is the Michael I’ve heard about.”
As she tapped him playfully on the nose he gave out a little smile for her. “You’re pretty.”
“Well thank you kind sir.” Michael giggled at being called ‘sir’ while she stood to greet his mother. “Angie, It’s nice to finally meet you.”
“Yes, it is nice to finally meet. I’m very sorry about your brother.”
Eric could sense that the comment affected the girl so he moved to put an arm around her shoulders while they continued talking with Finard and family.
“Eric,” Finard addressed him. “We wanted to be here to welcome you back, but we’re planning to return home tonight. Thalia told me that was OK; you’ve got a guard for us?”
“Yes, you’ll have a full guard detail shortly; we’re just filling in people for now. Indira is planning to follow you home tonight and two Weres will be arriving before she needs to leave. It’ll probably be a day or two before I’ve got your schedule of permanent guards.”
“Is it really necessary? I mean, you’ve killed Felipe and his maker.”
“There could be fallout and even if we found everyone associated to this situation, you’re too important to us to not be protected. I know you’re adjusting to being home so can we agree to the immediate need, and discuss the future in a week or so?”
“Of course. We’re heading out as soon as Sookie is done greeting her Gran.”
The doctor and family turned to walk to the side and Eric stopped Finard. “Doctor, I want you to understand that I am in your debt. If it wasn’t for you, Roo would likely be gone and Sookie would be in much worse shape than she’s in. The care you gave her? It’s something I can never repay.”
“And you took in my family and protected them. As far as I’m concerned, we’re even.” They nodded that ‘man nod’ and Finard and family moved to sit on the couch to wait for Sookie.
Still with an arm around Frannie, Eric continued the introductions. “We have some guards on patrol, but our main guards are here for a quick introduction. This is Thalia and Bubba, two of our night guards.” Frannie was quickly realizing that not all vampires were bad but she couldn’t stop her initial reaction of fear at meeting any new ones. So at seeing Thalia, she moved closer to Eric unconsciously. Eric did what he could to reassure her. “Frannie, Thalia looks really mean, but she enjoys playing soccer with Hunter too. She’s a very strong vampire and very much feared but not by us, not at home.”
She hesitated for a moment, looking back and forth between Eric and Thalia before she finally focused on Thalia and said, “I’m pleased to meet you.” Then she looked at Bubba, “I’ve seen you in Vegas on occasion though we’ve never met.” He simply nodded his acknowledgement.
Just as they finished introductions, Sookie and Gran came in from the porch, both their faces wet, swollen and red from their crying. Hunter immediately went to Sookie offering a hug to make her feel better. Gran gasped as he heard how Hunter addressed her. “Stop crying Mommy, we’re all home now.”
Sookie pulled him up into her arms. “I know little man, but sometimes even happy occasions make Mommy cry.”
“But you’re OK?”
“Yes, Gran and I spent time crying together and I did tell her about your mother. So it was hard and good at the same time.” She continued to hold her new child as the reunions continued with Jason and he couldn’t hold back the tears at seeing his sister. “I . . . I never been so scared in ma whole life Sook.”
“Same here Jas.” They too hugged for a few minutes while the rest of the room chatted about the fight and the contracts. Gran pulled Frannie aside for a special hug of her own and the girl tucked in welcoming the embrace.
Jason calmed enough and added, “Sook, I’m sorry about Remy. It all happened so fast.”
“I know. There was nothing you could do. We’ll talk more about that later.”
Eric introduced Glad and Diantha to the family informing everyone that they would be staying on in Bon Temps as guards. While the folks in the room chatted, Sookie looked around and asked, “Is Cynthia here?” Hunter smiled at her before Eric got a chance to answer. He knew Mommy was surprised to find out Cynthia had been staying with them.
“No, I’ve sent her to Rasul in New Orleans. We’ll see her next month at the latest.”
“How did you get her out?”
Finard chimed in. “What are you talking about? She was dead when I last saw her.”
“It was a spell Octavia created, a drug she took right before she made cuts to her wrists. She’d been instructed on where and how to cut so she could be saved. It was all Quinn that carried this out since he was the one delivering food to Cynthia while she and Rasul bonded. He also knew to get into Finard’s quickly so Cynthia didn’t bleed out. He had some of Rasul’s blood ready to heal her, stuffed her in what looks like an oil barrel and got her away from the palace. Unfortunately, this is often how ‘bodies’ are or rather were removed from Felipe’s. She arrived here and Dr. Ludwig got her back to full health.”
“WOW. I really thought she was gone.”
“I know, but we couldn’t allow for any knowledge of her survival. Quinn’s duplicity could have been revealed.” He turned to Frannie. “You and your brother have done so much for Sookie, our family and even those outside the family. You have much to be proud of.”
“I know. I am proud.”
After a few more moments of discussion about Cynthia and her escape, Finard and his family spoke to Sookie quickly and headed out.
“Ok, is that everyone I need to meet and greet?”
Gran chuckled at Sookie’s desire to get the evening moving. “Yes. We’ll see others from the town over the next few days Sookie.”
“Good ‘cause right now, I want to get out of this dress.”
Sookie headed down the hall to her bedroom and noticed they were all following; she hoped they all planned to go to the kitchen at the end of the hall. When she got to her door, she turned to Eric and handed Hunter to him. “I’m just going to change and I’ll be right out.” He continued to move with her and she turned placing a hand on his chest. “Eric, I just need a few minutes alone.” She immediately felt the hurt her words caused so she followed up quickly. “I’ve had people or cameras looking at me for weeks. Please? Just 10 minutes.”
“Of course. Let me just grab something for Hunter to change into and we’ll leave you be.”
Eric picked a standard jeans and tee outfit for Hunter and left Sookie alone. She could hear him shooing everyone away from her door before he had Hunter changing in Gran’s room. When she turned from the door she took in her room. Of course it was immaculate and she expected nothing less from her Gran, even imagining her in the room earlier fussing over every detail. Fresh flowers were in a vase on the bureau ‘that was a nice touch’ she thought. An outfit was on the bed: Yoga pants, a comfy tee, cotton undergarments, big white socks and a long wrap around sweater. Someone knew she was craving comfort and warmth, likely because Eric had told them. Changing into her new outfit only took a moment but she wasn’t ready to leave yet. She meant it when she told Eric that she needed time alone – truly alone, so she stayed. For a while she just sat on the bed and relished being home. The stuffed Kanga and Roo were there so she pulled them off the shelf to admire her first baby gift. She had purposely saved the ribbon as a reminder that Hunter said he didn’t want to pick sides; boy or girl. As she toyed with it, she noticed that it wound around the neck only once, and she was sure it was long enough that it wrapped around three or four times. ‘I’ll need to ask about that.’ In her small jewelry box she found her charm bracelet. A knock on the door took her from her thoughts, it was Eric and a quick glance at a clock showed her she’d been in the room for almost a half an hour. “Come in.”
“Min älskade, should everyone start eating? Do you need more time?” He walked in as he asked the question and saw her at her jewelry box. “I’m sorry I didn’t have this for you in Vegas. I couldn’t risk having a bracelet on either Pam or me in the fight or leaving it in my hotel room. Let’s put it on now.”
“I missed my charms.”
“I hated seeing them here without you.” He helped her with the bracelet and he kissed each charm, recalling what each one meant. He ended with Freyja and thanked her for protecting Roo even while her charm sat miles away from Sookie and the baby.
“Eric, I know everyone’s waiting but can I have just a few more minutes with you alone, here? I need my ‘cuddle bear’.”
They snuggled on the bed and Sookie grabbed his fingers to play with them. After a few moments she spoke. “Eric. What happened to the ribbon around the stuffed animal from Hunter?”
“I used it for something.” He wasn’t sure how to answer her or how she would take it. The bond prevented him from lying, so he started replying but felt unsure about what to say, “I . . .”
“You don’t need to tell me now. I’m hungry anyway.”
He suddenly blurted it out. “I used it for the braid I made out of your hair.”
That was a shock, she didn’t know he’d kept the hair, but that gave her an idea. “Where is it?”
“In the middle drawer.”
“Let’s take it to Shreveport, when we go that is, I want to do something with it.” She moved towards the door. “Meanwhile, something smells really good, let’s go.” As she entered the kitchen, much more comfortable though starving, she asked, “Whatcha got for us Gran?”
“I got some good home cookin’ for you.”
Potts glowered at Gran and Michelle for a moment. They’d all been given Ludwig’s orders about Sookie’s diet. “There had better NOT be fried chicken in that oven.” Potts hadn’t smelled it – but Gran could be sneaky: Amelia could have placed a spell around it. Still focused on Gran she explained. “That’s what Gran wanted to make her for her first meal but Ludwig stood firm that Sookie’s system need to adjust slowly.”
“Stop staring at me Potts, or should I say YOUR MAJESTY.” For flourish, Gran bowed dramatically causing the room the giggle at the exchange. Potts turned red while Gran giggled at her own comment. “It’s homemade chicken noodle soup and biscuits – Ludwig approved. I know you ate dinner already, this is just something light.”
Before Sookie started eating, Pam addressed her. “Crumbcake, while you eat I’m just going to start on some kingdom work.”
“You mean you’re hitting send on the shoe order you’re getting for your part in the battle?” Sookie snickered but Pam shocked her with the response.
“No shoes Sookie. I would battle the world again just to get my best friend back.” Even ever stoic Potts teared up over that comment. Pam and Sookie had a final hug and Pam headed to Tara to work.
The chewers ate and enjoyed each other for a while before Gran finally started to flag. “Well, I’m not used to being up this late. I’ll see y’all tomorrow.”
“Goodnight Gran. Love you.”
“Love you Sookie. I think this is the first night I’ll sleep good since you left.”
Jason chimed in with a here here as he walked out with Michelle to the new house to go to bed.
Eric turned to a bit of business. “Potts and Alcide. I know this is happening fast, but we’ll need to meet before sunrise on your new territories. I want to get Hunter and Frannie settled. Can we meet in an hour? That’ll give us a few hours before the sun rises.”
“Yes, I’ll see you up at the office in Tara. I’m going to grab forty winks before then. Glad, Diantha you can come with us and I’ll show you to your rooms.”
The four of them left the kitchen leaving Eric, Sookie, Frannie and Hunter alone. “I know you’ll want to explore Tara tomorrow. . .”
Frannie interrupted. “What’s this Tara, not a person, right?”
“Sookie DOES have a friend named Tara, but in this case, it’s the name of the house we’ve built up the hill. It’s based on the plantation home, Tara, from the movie Gone with the Wind. We plan to rename it but we just call it Tara for now. That’s Sookie’s favorite movie which is why we’re building it. Anyway, I know you probably will want to go up there during the day but please refrain. There are additions and changes I want to show you as a surprise.”
“Thanks Sweetie, now I really want to go.” He glared at her in fake annoyance until she giggled. “But I won’t.”
“It’s even a surprise for me Mommy. I know there’s some work that’s been done in rooms up there – but it’s been behind closed doors and I’ve been really good bout not listening.”
“You know, I love that you want to call me Mommy. Is that something you want? I don’t want you to feel pressured.”
“You’ve already been more of a Mommy to me than Hadley ever was. Why wouldn’t I call you Mommy?”
That comment started another round of tears and she scooped him from Eric’s lap for a hug. “Thank you Hunter.”
“Well, onto our arrangements for the next few days.” Eric started. “I do need to work tonight, but I want to get everyone settled before I head up for that. Frannie, you’ll be in Michelle’s old room upstairs. Tomorrow I’d like you to think about how you’d like your new room to be decorated.”
“I’m not that picky.”
“You’ve been living in a sterile environment for a while – think colors and decorations. I bet if you just told Pam a few things about yourself she’d be happy to shop for you.”
“I’m a little overwhelmed, that may be best. Should I leave her a note?”
“You can think about it and talk to her tomorrow night. I’ll take you upstairs now to show you the room. Hopefully there are some clothes there as I instructed, just enough for a few days. I’m having the contents of your condo packed and brought here. You can go through them whenever you’re ready.”
Eric guided Frannie upstairs while Sookie informed Hunter it was time for PJ’s. “Let’s go little man.”
“Are we going to read?”
Suddenly uncertain, Sookie stopped her approach to her room. “I just realized I don’t know your current routine since I’ve been gone. Can you tell me what we do next?”
Eric had felt a spike of sadness and concern from the bond so he ran downstairs as soon as Frannie was situated in her temporary room. “What is it Sookie?”
She just burst out in tears. “I don’t even know how to put Hunter to bed, what kind of mother am I?”
“Of course you know how to put him to bed, where is this coming from?” He looked to Hunter for answers but the boy just shrugged.
“All I asked is if we were reading.”
“Come on Sookie, let’s get him in his PJs and we’ll all read in bed for a few minutes before I go to work.”
After wiping her tears away, she settled enough to pick out PJs and he quickly changed and brushed his teeth. With Hunter in the middle of the bed, he picked up The Two Towers, the book he’d been working through with Eric, and started reading to both of them. Hunter’s reading skills were far above any child his age, but he still struggled with this material and Eric was there to help him with words or the topics as needed. He only made it a few pages before he was too tired to continue. Out of habit, he turned into Eric for snuggling and Eric obliged as always with a hand rubbing on his back. He was asleep quickly and after a few minutes of just watching him sleep they left him in the room.
“I’m sorry for flaking out on you. Part of me feels like I’ve been gone for like years and I had no idea what your routine was.”
“It’s a routine that’s only in place for a few more days anyway. As you requested, I want to head to Shreveport after the funerals so we’ll be mixed up a bit while we’re there, then when we return all our rooms will be ready in the new house.”
“We really can go to Shreveport for a few days? Won’t you get in trouble for leaving your post right after taking the job?”
“The council can fire me if they want.”
“Hmm, I’m not sure if you want that or not, you’ll have to tell me how to vote.”
“I think we’ll keep giving this a try. I do need to work now though, and I really want you to relax or go to bed if you’re ready.”
“I think some alone time in the living room sounds perfect.”
“Then I’ll find you before dawn. Pam is staying at Tara tonight so we can have some alone time in the chamber below your bedroom before I go to rest for the day.”
She gave him a lingering and very sensual kiss. “Something to look forward to. Get to work your majesty and you wake me when you come back if I happen to be asleep.”
When he returned with about 30 minutes left before dawn he found Sookie in a position that brought back some favorite memories: She was asleep on the sofa with a book sitting open on her chest. Waking her would be fun but first he silently ran to the light tight chamber and turned up the heat before returning to her. With a big smile on his face, he lifted her legs and moved to sit under her feet; then he gave her a foot rub.
Like she often did when he massaged her feet while she was asleep, the moans of appreciation started before her eyes even opened. “God Eric that feels really good. I don’t want to move.”
“Unfortunately min älskade, we need to move into at least your room or the chamber since the sun will rise shortly.”
“Carry us to the chamber?”
He loved she started asking for her and Roo to be carried. “I’d love to.”
He walked by her bed and paused just to peak at a sleeping Hunter before moving downstairs. The work to change the chamber a bit to accommodate the tunnel was complete and Sookie hadn’t seen any of it yet. As she pointed to a new door she asked. “Wow, so this is the tunnel? And the other door is the bedroom?”
“Yes, the room here is a bit smaller as a result, but still fine considering it’s not meant for someone as a long term bedroom or anything.”
“For now it’s a nice haven.”
“Haven? I think I’ll call it my lair now that I’ve captured my prey.”
“Pfft.” She waved her hands. “Like I resisted you.”
“I think we need Gran to watch Hunter one evening so we can go on a hunt.” He was growing excited by the idea and Sookie could see that.
“I think we can arrange that.”
“But now, I want to make love to my wife. I want to give you more of those owed kisses.” The sweater and tee she was wearing were off before she even saw the movement. Next she was being lowered to the bed and her remaining clothes were removed.
“You made it nice and warm in here.”
“I turned up the heat before I started your foot massage. I know you want to be warm and unfortunately as much passion as we have, I’m never warm enough to do that.”
“Good plan Northman but now you’re wearing too many clothes.”
“Shall I strip for you?”
“By all means.”
This was going to take a while since Eric was moving slowly and he had yet to take off any of his suit – including the tie. God how she’d missed him. His eyes pierced hers and he unknotted his tie and pulled so it came out from the collar a millimeter at a time. He tossed it on the floor then removed the jacket from his arms. Sookie wanted to start on the buttons but at the same time, she was mesmerized by the show he was giving her. He could smell her arousal and while he would’ve waited until she was ready for sex, he was pleased that this part of the relationship was back immediately. It made sense if he thought about it; if anything she was deprived of physical touch while being held captive. Probably, he figured, she craved it as he did now.
The striptease was finished and he was hovering over her as she rested on the bed. He stayed in position without touching her for several minutes until she started to squirm. “Eric! Get busy.”
“I was just trying to enjoy seeing your face again. I missed you, everything about you – but your eyes? Looking at me, loving me? I think I may have missed your eyes most of all.”
“Eric, you say the sweetest things.”
“Just don’t tell anyone.”
“I won’t if you GET BUSY!”
He chuckled before capturing her lips for a long kiss. “Now I am unsure.” She looked up at him, puzzled. “Perhaps it’s your sweet lips that I longed for. Both for your kisses and the words you speak to me.”
“The sun is up Eric, you don’t have much time.”
“I don’t want to rush.”
“I don’t want you to be pulled under before we finish!”
“So feisty.” He smirked and took a breast into his mouth. After thoroughly loving one breast then the other he exclaimed. “These breasts are already bigger and they will swell more; filling with milk for my child and hopefully me.”
She gave up. He was apparently going to have something to say about every body part on his way down. Lord only knew what compliments one could pay to a belly button. Hoping to move things along, she started bucking her hips. ‘Maybe some friction will help.’ He started moving further down. ‘FINALLY!’ she thought to herself. Then he stopped at her belly. ‘Here comes ode to a belly button.’ Instead she swooned at his words. “Hello Roo, I don’t want to forget you on my way down. I love what you’re doing to Mommy’s belly. She is blossoming before my eyes, growing to accommodate you. Thank you my baby.” He moved a little further to start playing with her folds, but not touching where she really wanted him. “So beautifully min kära. All mine.”
“Eric, I can’t take the teasing and we DON’T. HAVE. TIME!”
“I can see you’re too impatient right now. I think I’ll go back to worshipping your lips. Though, I was thinking the lower set.” With that, she finally got what she wanted and he parted her to dive in. Truthfully, the foot rub had started the whole thing and she was ready to explode, so when he pet her insides with his fingers – his very talented and long fingers – she came immediately.
“Oh thank God. More Eric.” She exclaimed – and not at all quiet.
He wasn’t worried at all about her volume; she was usually the one who was overly concerned. He’d grown up and raised his family in longhouse, where there was no privacy. Hunter wouldn’t necessarily see as much as he did growing up but with his telepathy, it wasn’t like they could hide anything anyway. He knew she didn’t want words now, but he paused a moment to watch her having her happy moment. Her mouth was still open muttering something (perhaps because his fingers continued playing inside her and he was causing little aftershocks). Her arms were above her head in complete submission; her hands clenching and unclenching unconsciously. One of his other favorite things was present: That mottled blush from her face down to covering even Roo. He loved it. Before she’d calmed completely from her orgasm, he pushed into her heat; then pulled her up to straddle his legs as he knelt. He knew this position would give her control, something he wanted to be sure he did frequently as she was recovering from her captivity. While she set their rhythm of the movements, there was one thing he selfishly wanted, so he asked. “Look at me Sookie. I want to see your eyes.” They sprang open and within seconds tears formed in them from the intensity of his gaze. As she rode him, he told her. “I love you min älskade. I’ll never let anyone take you. I’ll never let anyone tell me I have to let you go. Never. Again.”
“I. . . Know.” She breathed out with difficulty. “Close Eric. So close.”
To help her along, he added a hand to their joining and toyed with her lips and clit. When he felt she was just about ready – as he was – he grabbed a knife he’d put in the room earlier and cut his neck for her. As soon as they were both feeding from each other, they exploded from their actions and continued to ride out the orgasm together.
He held her tight for only a moment. “If you want me upstairs, we need to hurry.”
“You go, get yourself in bed – and don’t FORGET SLEEP PANTS – I’ll be right in after I clean up. I don’t want to change anything on Hunter like this without talking it through with him.”
Knowing he was very close to being pulled under, he followed her instructions and got into bed with Hunter after donning the obligatory sleep pants. He was out before Sookie made it back from the bathroom.
Hunter woke and smiled: He had Mommy on one side and Eric on the other. Since he was close to the kitchen, he could hear several folks talking in there so he snuck out to join them. Frannie, Gran, Alcide and Potts were already seated at the table.
Frannie greeted him first. “Hey Hunt.” While Gran patted him on the back after as he walked by.
“Good morning Frannie.” She was sitting at the table and when she saw him, she pushed her chair out and patted her lap. With a big smile, he joined her. Frannie was cool and they both had just lost someone so it seemed they needed each other right now. “What’s for breakfast?”
“Well it’s late so we’ll call it brunch. As soon as I finish my juice, I’m making French toast.” She got a bit animated while she continued. “I’m so excited to cook again. I never got the chance while at . . .” Her comments faded out, but the room knew what she meant.
Hunter saved her from answering by shouting, “I LOVE FRENCH TOAST!”
“Well Smurf, just so you know what’s going on.” Potts started. “Alcide and I are heading out today. We have to start our new jobs.”
“Are you combining territories? I heard someone thinking about that.” When nobody answered he continued. “Eric knew I was listening in Vegas.”
Alcide indulged him. He was a kid, but it was obvious his telepathy had matured him. “What are you asking Hunter?”
“Are you going to make Potts an honest woman?”
“Where did you hear that phrase?” He chuckled. While Hunter and Alcide spoke, Frannie moved Hunter to a chair so she could start breakfast.
“A movie. . . . Well?”
Alcide nodded to Potts who produced her hand with a new engagement ring on it. “This ok with you?” Hunter gave one of his whole body nods to Alcide. “I was planning something for shortly after Sookie’s return, but with the territory announcement and the baby, well . . .”
Gran gasped. “BABY!?”
Alcide beamed, “Yeah Gran, Potts is two months along.”
“Well that’s wonderful news. Wait! Just how old are you?
“Gran, isn’t there a saying about not asking a woman her age?”
“Yes, but it doesn’t apply to daemons.”
“Half daemon and I’m 54, but you know I age differently due to my heritage.”
Sookie broke up the age talk. “Something smells good in here.”
“Sookie!” Gran yelled. “Did you know Potts is pregnant, engaged and 54?!”
“I knew about the baby and her age but not the engagement. Guess you’re combining the territories. Congrats!” She offered hugs as she spoke.
“When do you head out?”
“We have a contingent of Weres coming in from Arkansas to escort us in. They should be here shortly.”
Gran rolled her eyes. “Guards Sookie. I think you got up too soon.”
“Oh, I just hadn’t thought that out now that y’all are royalty.”
Alcide rolled his eyes. “Don’t remind me.”
“So Sookie,” Gran asked. “What’s on the agenda for the day?”
“Hunter, Frannie and I are going out in to spend time in the sun. Frannie needs to think about her new room. We’ll need Mustapha for a good bit of the day though – Frannie needs too much stuff and well, we ah have the funerals to plan.” Gran frowned. Certainly she knew it was a task that needed to be done, but that didn’t mean she liked it.
“Well, let’s get started.”
The group finished breakfast and began their day. The first order of business was a very tearful goodbye to Potts and Alcide. Their Were guards arrived shortly after breakfast and they got going. Alcide still wasn’t so sure about being a king, but he could hardly say no and honestly, the idea that Were’s and his fiancée as a daemon were being elevated in the supernatural community was just too good to pass up. He certainly wanted to stay closer to Sookie and Gran and the rest of the family and it was apparent with her sobbing and clinging to Potts that Sookie would have wanted that too, but they would stay in touch. Besides, now the Northman’s and the Herveaux’s would also be working together as the supernatural ‘spokesfamilies’. He reminded Sookie of that, told her they’d be back right away for the funeral, and pushed her into Gran’s arms. They needed to get on the road. Some vampires were not happy with the change in management, and the guards all agreed they needed to be in place before the sun set.
Shortly after Alcide and Potts left, Mustapha came in for his tasks, Sam stopped by since he would be providing the food service for the funeral, and finally Reverend Collins and Mike Spencer, the funeral director, arrived to plan the actual service. As Sookie mentioned before, they took all the meetings outside in the sun. It’d been too long since she’d seen it. By 3PM everyone was exhausted and Sookie suggested naps all around since at least she, Hunter and probably Frannie would be up well into the night.
Eric was awake for a moment before he saw Hunter was smiling into his face. “Were you waiting for me again?”
“Nope, you started to ‘come alive’ and your void woke me up. We’ve been napping for a while so I guess I was ready.” Hunter had used a funny creepy voice at describing Eric’s rising and they both laughed at his antics.
Feeling sappy at his next question didn’t stop Eric from asking it. “Is Mommy up?” He loved referring to Sookie as Hunter’s mommy.
“Not yet.” Hunter answered while he crawled onto Eric’s chest, a common occurrence when they rose for the night together. “But she wanted us to wake her. She’s excited to see what you did at the new house.”
“I smell sunlight. You both went out today?”
“YEAH – it was awesome.”
“That’s good. I know Mommy needed sunlight.”
“You betcha, she had everyone meet with us outside. Even the funeral director in his suit – he was really hot but Sookie didn’t care. Poor guy had sweat dripping down his face the whole meeting. He was pretty mean so he deserved it – at least that’s what Mommy was thinking, she looked all polite on the outside.”
He laughed with Hunter and reminded him about shields at home before returning to their discussion. “You guys need dinner, right?”
“We need to eat it, but Lala and Tara are coming with Chinese takeout. Tara doesn’t want to wait to see Sookie any longer.”
“Dinner’s not here, I would certainly smell that.” He skooched them over towards Sookie. “Let’s wake her then. You start.” He had a mischievous smile that Hunter mirrored.
“Mommy. Mommmmy wake up.”
“So Hunter, this is your first lesson about waking Mommy. She always refuses at first, but you must be firm. Watch.” He put Hunter on the bed and started touching Sookie’s shoulder, giving it a little jiggle. “Sookie, time to get up. Come on Mommy.” A smile grew on her face before her eyes opened. “This is standard Hunter, you can see she is awake but opening her eyes is usually the last thing.”
“Are you training him to help gang up me?”
In a sudden burst, she remembered what they had planned for the evening and she sat up excitedly, “Can we use the tunnel and just check out the playroom at least before Lala and Tara get here?”
Eric agreed and even texted Lala telling him to meet them at the new house with dinner instead of the farmhouse. He sent Hunter out to stay with Frannie and Gran while he and Sookie showered; they had several things to discuss.
They both got into the shower after Eric started it and began washing. “As much as I want to eat you up in this shower, we have several things to discuss while we have a moment of privacy.”
“I know – my head spins when I think of the next week or so.”
“It’s going to be bad until after New Orleans I think.”
“Yes, but anything’s better than being separated.”
“Agreed. So first min älskade, your lovely Great Grandfather.”
“He must have NO idea that he can’t block his thoughts. The idiot thought he was safe with his fairy spark and all. He’s still hoping that after Roo he can convince me to give babies with Barry or a full blooded fairy another try.”
“You’re not telling me something I don’t know. He’s not planning to be forceful in any way; he’s hoping to appeal to my sense of fairy and family.”
“So we just tuck that away but not DO anything?” She nodded. “Well, that wasn’t as bad as I thought. So Frannie. How is she really doing?”
“She’s sad, and that’s natural. She also feels guilty. Like she doesn’t deserve the nice outcome since her brother didn’t live. This is where she needs help.”
“What about physically? Was she ever treated for the rape – you know a ah . . . woman’s type of visit?”
His hesitancy to talk about a gynecologist visit would have been cute if the situation wasn’t so serious. “No. I heard her thinking about it and started suggesting that she be examined by Ludwig or Finard when I first heard from her what had happened. We were talking in my bathroom for privacy and she cut me off before I even got the whole suggestion out claiming that the vampires couldn’t give her a disease or get her pregnant so there was no need for an exam. I can’t say I blame her, having that first type of appointment while in a room with surveillance cameras isn’t something I’d want either.”
“Her first appointment? She was a virgin before?”
Sookie nodded and she felt the spike of anger. Figuring he was already mad she decided to tell him the whole truth. Frannie had never even dated before.
“I figured that was the case – but having it confirmed makes me wish I could kill them again. I’m calling Ludwig; I don’t think any physical impact should be ignored.”
“I’ll tell her, she might be more open now since the exam can be done in private.”
“What else can we do?”
“You found a daemon counselor for us?” This time, he nodded. “Then we place our trust in the professional. I also think she’s feeling especially guilty about not hating you because she feels anything but hate. When you stood up for her in front of the rapists, she struggled. She wanted to hide and cry at what they’d done and at the same time she wanted to stand proudly next to you and face them. When you said you were claiming her as a daughter, her thoughts warmed; she never had a father and she really liked the idea. Then she went back to feeling guilty about being happy.”
“Where does that leave us? Can we move forward?”
“I think we can, she just needs to work through it. She feels like, since you’re a vampire she should hate you.”
“Because Quinn did?”
“That’s the thing. Somewhere from the Summit to my capture Quinn stopped hating you; or rather at least he stopped thinking you’d taken me unwillingly. He was having a tough time reconciling his feelings as well.”
“He loved you?” It was said evenly, not in anger but more trying to understand.
“I think he WAS taken with me, wanted me but not love. Once I was in Vegas he wanted to help me get back to you. So I think her struggle has a little to do with her brother’s feelings towards me but more her history with vampires.” While Eric poured shampoo into his hand, Sookie paused while she thought. “Can you try to find some way to connect with her to help? I really want it to work, you know for her to stay with us.”
“I know you do, of course I’ll help. I owe her much and maybe she doesn’t see that so I need to explain. If I see an opportunity to chat with her alone, I’ll take it. You might need to help me out and remove yourself or others subtly.”
“I’ll look for that opportunity then as well. Where will her room be? I know Hunter’s is underground with ours.”
“There are two rooms left in the underground chamber or any of the bedrooms on the second floor.”
“And you don’t mind if she’s sleeping in the chamber with us?”
“Do I have a reason to be concerned?”
“Not at all. It’s just unexpected. You hardly know her.”
“But you do and I want to get to know her better – does that make sense?”
“Plus, I feel like when I wake early and the sun hasn’t set, that’s family time and she needs to be in the chamber for that.”
“Agreed. Though some nights I might send her somewhere with Hunter and make family time sexy time instead.” He growled and gave her a kiss indicating his approval at the idea. “How do we ensure we won’t have issues with Frannie being a minor? I don’t want to get all settled and have the state come in and take her. We have the biological connection to Hunter so I’m sure Uncle Desi can handle that easily.”
“Cataliades is working on the paperwork for both of them. It looks like our options are either adoption or legal guardian. He’ll be over to discuss it with all of us. She won’t be taken even if I have to use glamour to make it so.”
“Thank you, I was worried. So New Orleans. We don’t need to move there, do we?”
“No. I’m running the kingdom from Bon Temps. That’s why I funded a light tight hotel project in town. Sam will run it. The first two floors will have meeting rooms. I’m not even sure I want the whole throne room look. I don’t feel the need to ‘hold court’ and the hotel will have a ballroom space for large gatherings.”
“Smart. And I could go my whole life without sitting in vampire court again. Maybe we can come up with something that satisfies the need for protocol without all the extra crap.”
“Well, that brings me to another point.” He paused to rinse her hair knowing she wouldn’t be able to hear him with the water rushing over her head. “You will be my Queen, not my consort.”
“Eric, I’m not a vampire.”
“Neither are Alcide, Potts, Odair and Toni.”
“But they are supernatural.” He just raised his eyebrow. “You know what I mean.”
“No, I don’t. Do you know how many ‘humans’ like you would have 500 Weres, daemons, vampires and fairies fighting for her release? Do you know the respect you carry with supernaturals? I could probably just give YOU the throne and be done with it.”
“Don’t be dramatic. What does that literally mean? You always want me to do less, now you want me to do more.”
“I want you to participate in our rule. I want to take meetings together, make decisions together. Sometimes maybe we divide and conquer as well. Arthmael will be my enforcer, so I don’t plan to get involved with disputes and Pam is my second so I’ll assign her to work with the Sheriffs. I honestly don’t plan to be King and Queen all of our waking hours. I don’t care how many we need to have on our staff; I won’t give up my life for a crown. But what time I do dedicate to it, I want to share with you. It’ll be rough for the first few weeks, but once we establish our limits, all will fall into place.”
“Wow. Kind of hard to say ‘no’ to that.”
“Good.” They were out from under the water and drying now. “The funerals are all planned?”
“Yes, we’re having open visitation tomorrow at the community center for anyone to come and pay respects. A private memorial service at church will be the next night – and that’s a firm invitation only. It’s all combined for both men; neither Hunter nor Frannie wanted to do things twice. At graveside, which will be immediate family only, we’ll also place a headstone for Hadley and say a few words.”
“Both parts are at night?”
“Hunter didn’t want to do anything without you.”
“Was that a problem? The Reverend and funeral director agreed to a night service at church – with vampires?”
“Pfft. You’re Saint Eric to this town. Your new hotel venture with Sam alone has provided jobs and good medical benefits for about 150 people. You’ve become the biggest employer in town. Plus one look at Hunter’s face and ‘no’ wasn’t an option. Seems you have trained him well.” Eric just beamed while Sookie turned away from that proud face to fuss with her hair. “Well, if you’re all done being happy with yourself for training your own mini-me, we should get everyone up to the new house.”
“Wait ‘til I get done with Frannie. She’s still young enough to learn from the master.”
“Master manipulator that is.” She grumbled under her breath.
Once they collected Hunter, Gran and Frannie, they headed up as a group via the tunnel, stopping only once so Eric could show off the emergency shelter in the center of the tunnel. Eric had designed and stocked it so that at least 10 could fit adequately and for about a month if needed. MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), bloods, basic linens and paper products had been stored in the closet and a small but functional commode and sink were installed. The fireproof walls were lined with silver and iron, making them practically impenetrable. At one point in her life, Sookie would have thought he was overly paranoid, not any longer.
They entered the underground of the new house, and Eric started their tour. In addition to the playroom, which had Sookie’s jaw hitting the floor, he next showed them Hunter’s room also in the underground area. Hunter squealed when he saw what Eric had created for him. Alcide’s foreman, Joshua Thurmond, had done a fabulous and FAST job on the room considering Eric had texted him the specs only two days before when he knew Hunter would be staying with them permanently.
“You got your boats.” Sookie snickered.
“I knew he would like it.”
“I DO! This is so cool Dude!”
“How does he have a window?” Frannie moved to the side of the bed and looked at the glass in the wall.
“It’s a window to the playroom, it was Joshua’s idea.” After giving Hunter a moment to look around, he took them to the next room. “I added the same type of window to the nursery which connects to our room.” His hand on the doorknob was as far as he got before he paused. Sookie guessed he decorated it based on their prior conversations and she could feel he was nervous. “Open it Sweetie, I know I’ll love whatever you’ve done.” When he opened the door she knew she really meant it. “How did you get that muted look? I searched everywhere for Pooh like that.”
“You like it?”
“I love it.”
“You don’t mind that I did this? I needed something to do after Hunter was in bed some nights.”
“I don’t mind at all – not when the results are this.”
“Well, back to your question on how I found this. Did you forget that your Gran can embroider?”
She spun around to her Gran. “YOU MADE THIS?”
“I also needed something to do – only my idle time was in the morning before Hunter woke up.”
“GRAN! This is beautiful.”
“I’m glad you like it baby. We brought the old rocking chair down from the attic; you can get a new one if you want.”
As expected she was a bit misty from the reveal. “NO NO. I used to daydream about decorating these rooms many times to get through meetings and other shit. In my head, the nursery always included that rocking chair.” She moved to sit on it. “Frannie, what do you think?”
The girl moved to Sookie’s side and took her hand. “I think it’s beautiful.” Eric noticed and was not surprised that Frannie was quite clingy to Sookie. They both had much to deal with.
Sookie knew two more bedrooms were in the underground area and as she and Eric discussed during their shower, she wanted Frannie to have a choice so she asked. “Frannie, there are two more rooms down here, you can have a room here or upstairs or frankly, both. What do you think?”
“You would have me sleeping in the underground secure chamber? I mean, this is where Eric rests, right?” She was astonished. From what little she knew of the Vegas vamps, humans were NEVER permitted in the resting chambers.
“Only if you want. You’re more than welcome to have a room with windows to the outside. But you’ll be given the codes so you can spend time here since Eric goes to rest well after sunrise and rises early too. So any thoughts on a room down here or upstairs?”
“Maybe we can look at the rooms but I’m gonna need a minute for this. I’m still adjusting to vampires other than the Vegas ones and that you would have me near your resting place has me almost dizzy.”
“We’ll talk about it when you’re ready. We can just decorate two rooms that will work and you can decide whatever you want whenever you want.” As he was talking Eric raised his head a bit. “I smell your dinner has arrived and since the sun has set we can all go up. I can’t wait for you to see the kitchen.”
Sookie loved everything that had been done to the house while she was away. The kitchen had both her and Hunter a bit sad for a few moments and Eric guessed it was because Remy had built practically everything in it by hand. To help them move on, he suggested they remember the kitchen specifically as a masterpiece created by Remy and they agreed.
After dinner, Eric received a call from Peter at the ward border for the property. “Eric, I have a Nan Flanagan to see you.”
“She’s on the phone or actually here?”
“Here, demanding an audience.”
“Put her on.”
After some muffled speaking, he heard Nan on the phone. “King Northman, it’s Nan Flanagan.”
“Ms. Flanagan, it’s been years since I’ve seen you. What brings you to Bon Temps, UNNANNOUCED tonight?”
“I’ve been assigned by her Grace to put together your publicity schedule for your role as spokesfamily. We have several key dates coming up and I need to coordinate your schedules.”
“This could be done over the phone.”
“I will be traveling with you.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I will be traveling and prepping your pet and her children for your appearances.”
Rather than getting into an argument about using the word ‘pet’, Eric decided to dismiss her and deal with her ignorance at their first official meeting. “I don’t have time for this in the next few days. Coordinate with Pam until I have my Administrative Assistant in place.”
“King Northman, your first appearance with your pet is in two days. I traveled by day today in a coffin to be here now.”
Well, now she just pissed him off and his correction could not wait until their first meeting. “You will listen to me very carefully. I don’t care about your travel woes. Your presence here is not welcome without an appointment. I also must clarify something with you right now: Sookie Northman is my QUEEN and WIFE, not my Pet and the children are OUR children, together we are a FAMILY. Correct your wording immediately or I will assist you with that correction personally. You also forget that we are in mourning right now. You can contact Pam to SCHEDULE an appointment. It will be no sooner than the first full week of October. Do not contact me outside that scheduled appointment.”
“But, the Ancient Pythoness said. . .”
“Good bye Nan. I’m busy with moving my family into the new house.” With that he hung up the phone before she could say anymore. Figuring Peter would have grabbed his phone back from Nan, he called the number. When his new Were head of security answered, he spoke forcefully but without shouting. “Peter, Ms. Flanagan is not permitted on the property without an appointment. Please ensure that Thalia and Arthmael are aware.”
Peter glared at uppity vampire in front of him and smiled as Thalia approached. “I’ll inform Thalia right now your majesty.”
Pam had joined the group during the phone call and after summarizing the outcome, they resumed their tour by heading to the upstairs bedrooms. Pam was thrilled to help Frannie with her décor and they discussed the various rooms and furniture options. Eric noticed her lingering in one of the rooms and he indicated for the rest of the group to move on. Using the insight Sookie provided, he wanted to take some time to talk to Frannie one on one. “You like this one? You know, we won’t be upset if you want a room with real windows; especially this one with the window seats.”
She moved to sit in one of the seats before speaking. “This room is lovely. I’m just a bit overwhelmed is all.”
Eric couldn’t completely empathize with her situation, but he had lost a brother so he decided to try. “I lost my brother when I was about 16. It wasn’t at all like your situation – I still had my parents, but I’m here if you want to talk. We have a counselor, Margo Catz, coming out tomorrow to talk with all three of you too.”
She surprised him by actually talking and even more surprising were the words. “He hated you. Quinn I mean. I love Sookie, make no mistake, but it was strange. Quinn came home from Sophie-Anne’s wedding and it was Sookie Sookie Sookie. He was convinced you had captured her and forced her into the bond and he would spend a great deal of time trying to find a way to save her from you. He thought you were pure evil. I didn’t get it; he’d met her once.”
“Sookie can have that affect on supernatural men.”
“I’ll just take your word for it. Anyway, after the Summit he was still smitten but more reserved about it. When I pushed him, he told me he’d asked everyone who knew you guys all about your relationship. He couldn’t find any evidence that Sookie was with you unwillingly. In fact, he heard a story about you releasing her?”
“I did. But with help I recognized that error, as you can see – she took me back.”
“Well, then I was captured by Felipe in order to ensure his compliance. Until I was released to help Sookie, I didn’t really know what was going on – but then we found ways to talk without being heard and his whole attitude had shifted. He knew what Appius was planning and he decided to do anything he could to save Sookie. That’s why he went back in to fight.” Seeing that she was starting to weep now, Eric moved to sit with her on the window seat. “He told me you ordered him to stay out of it bu . . . but he knew couldn’t live with himself if the mission failed. I think . . . he was prepared to die. He basically told me g . . . goodbye before he went to secure Andy. I don’t blame you or Sookie. I just . . . I miss him.” Eric had taken her hand while she spoke and the girl found comfort in the gesture.
“You will always miss him; your brother was a good and honorable man. He stepped up and raised you. He fought to protect you. You need to always remember that in addition to just missing him. You and Hunter both have much to process and you can lean on each other. I know he’s only four, but honestly, he can be quite comforting.”
“You love him.” It was a statement, not a question.
“We’ve become a strange little family.”
“Yes, I suppose it’s strange. And it’s not like we’re expecting you to call us mother and father, but in addition to claiming you in the supernatural world, Sookie and I would like to officially adopt you or be listed as your guardians. You’re a minor and we don’t want there to be any risk that you go into foster care.”
“Oh, I haven’t thought about that. I have a letter that Quinn gave me for Cataliades. He gave it to me before the battle. It’s kinda how I knew he was saying goodbye since he told me it was in case something happened to him. It’s with my stuff at the farmhouse.”
“I’ll get that to my lawyer tonight. We’ll meet with him soon.”
“Why are you doing all this?”
“Frannie, can you imagine how life would have been for Sookie if you weren’t there for her? Even just the stakes in her shoe. You were so brave helping us – risking your life! That alone would make me want to help you. Now that I’m getting to know you, I’m only more happy to make you part of this family. Whether we use the familial titles or not, I’m proud to call you my daughter – adopted or guardian.” Seeing she was a bit overwhelmed by his declaration, he decided to move on with the tour to give her time to absorb everything. He stood from the window seat and helped her up. “We should probably rejoin the group. I think I hear them in the den downstairs.” He changed into his boyish grin and she couldn’t help smiling at him. “Wait ‘til you see the TV.”
They continued to chat while they walked. “I’m sure it’s huge given what I’ve already seen in this place.”
“So what about YOUR room. Any thoughts?”
“I think I know what I want to do.”
While Frannie and Eric were talking, the rest of the group spent time in Eric and Sookie’s new study. It would become their office as they started their royal duties. “Mommy, this is where you’re gonna work?”
“Yes. What do you think?”
Hunter was still worried about what all this working stuff was going to do to their lives. He glanced at the little wooden table his father had made for him before he was killed. Eric had wanted a place for Hunter in the office for when he could work at home. That was, of course, before Eric was king. “Will I still be allowed in here?”
Sookie could feel the concern from her little man, so she moved to put him on her lap and gestured for Lala to escort Tara and Gran out. Once they were alone she spoke. “You’re still worried about us doing too much work?” Hunter nodded – but it wasn’t his usual wild nod, it was subdued. He really was bothered by this. “I think there may be times when Eric will need to hold meetings without you, but I’m sure that won’t be often. We can also schedule those later into the night – for after your bedtime. Hunter, we both love you very much and we’ll do what we need to balance our life with you and our jobs. You do realize though that having these jobs will also help keep us safe?”
“Yeah, I get that. We’re just going to be busy.”
“We are, and when Roo comes it’s probably going to even busier, and Mommy may be very tired. But I will always find time for you.”
“Will you love the baby more than me?”
She didn’t react emotionally, it was a serious question and it deserved a serious answer. “No Hunter. That’s the beautiful thing about children. The more you have the more love you have to give. I’ll love each of you: Roo, Frannie and you differently. How could I not? Frannie needs a big sister and role model; you need a Mommy to teach you the basics of life and Roo will need to be fed and changed. What I do with each of you is my love – it just looks different because you each have different needs. Does that make sense?”
She knew Hunter was checking her mind to be sure but he found no deceit there, only love. “I get it Mommy. I can already see it now that you’ve explained it. What Frannie needs is different, so you give her that. Do you think she’ll live with us downstairs?”
“I hope so; I think she needs it.”
In the end, Frannie realized that two floors away was too far for her to be from Sookie right now so she decided to move into the chamber with everyone else and she announced her decision to the group after they were all in the den together. Once Lala heard that, he jokingly picked one of the upstairs bedrooms for himself. Eric didn’t hesitate, “You’re more than welcome if you want.”
“Oh you beautiful man, don’ts be teasin’ Lala.”
“Teasing? Having a live in Uncle wouldn’t be a burden, but you must agree to diaper duty shifts.”
Lala looked horrified at the thought and just said, “I’s get backs to yos. I’s could be too sexy for poop.”
“While Lala considers his manicure versus baby messes, I have one more room to show you. This one is actually a surprise for Frannie.”
“Yes.” He held his hand out and was pleased she took it as she had earlier; she really was warming up to him quickly. They moved towards the front of the house to a room with closed doors. “I don’t want you to be bored so I . . .”
She boldly interrupted him. “Then let me plan your coronation.”
He sighed and inwardly thought ‘Stubborn girl, no wonder she and Sookie get along so well.’ But instead of saying that he calmly replied, “We talked about this. I don’t want you to be bored and I hope I’ve provided something FUN, not WORK, to do that.” He paused outside the closed room. “I wanted a music room before we talked about your interests but when you perked up over piano lessons, I ordered this room to be finished as soon as possible. I received a text with a picture already and Joshua is really getting a good bonus for this.” He opened the double doors dramatically to reveal a beautifully decorated room that had been filled with instruments. Two of the walls were almost all glass and they all imagined how lovely it would be in the sunshine. Towards the windows facing the front of the house was a large grand piano. To the left of that was an area full of string instruments and wind instruments were on the right wall. Directly in front of them was a seating area. Eric explained. “The chairs are positioned for conversation right now, but they are light enough to be moved into rows for impromptu concerts.” He turned to focus on Frannie. “Not that there’s any pressure. I just wanted you to have options. You don’t have to play any. . . “
She surprised him by crying and Sookie moved to embrace her. Not fully understanding he turned to Sookie in question as Frannie sobbed. “She never had a piano; she had to use the one at school to practice. It’s not that Quinn couldn’t afford it, but their condo wouldn’t allow it.”
She cried for a few minutes before she calmed down. “I’m sorry I’m so overwhelmed.” She turned to Eric and took his hand. “Thank you for listening to me. I can’t believe we had one chat about piano lessons and you did this! I can’t wait to play.”
“Will you play for us now?” Hunter asked, jumping up and down.
“It’s been a long time. I don’t know.”
“Please?” Hunter begged with a pouty face that rivaled Eric’s when he wanted something.
“Oh LORD Eric! Did you teach him that look?”