All mistakes are mine. Thank God the trips aren’t mine though. Lord have mercy those three . . .
Chapter 13 – Promises
Late Summer, 2008 – Frannie 19, Hunter 9, Moyra 3, Triplets 2
“Sam, you’re looking good.”
“I feel good. Course a month on this island would do that for anyone. Thanks for inviting me.”
Eric’s response was simple but he meant it. “You’re family.”
Sam nodded in response and the two sat quietly on one of the house decks for a moment, enjoying the sunset. They both heard Moyra squealing and Sam laughed. “So no side effects from Moyra healing the daemon girls?”
Eric shook his head. “None. It helped that Claudine gave us the assurance that she wouldn’t be harmed. Once Sookie explained what needed to be healed, Moyra hugged the girls and that was that. Well, she did it several times over two weeks. Glad and Diantha confirmed that they remember everything about their Uncle’s death and that they miss him, but it doesn’t hurt.”
“And she needs to know what to heal?”
“Yes. Claudine said that being in her presence gives anyone a feeling of peace and happiness, but the healing is more specific.” He paused then added. “We won’t be having her specifically heal again until she’s older, or there’s a dire need.”
“Makes sense.” With that topic closed, they were silent again. Finally Sam spoke. “You wanted to talk about something?”
Eric nodded and leaned forward, resting his forearms on his knees. “I do. I’ve given you permission to date Frannie. Now that you’re well and you’ve been seeing each other for several weeks I thought we should have a talk.”
“I’m surprised we haven’t had the talk already.”
“I’m a fair man; you were recovering from silver poisoning. I know that’s a bitch.” They both chuckled; then Eric stopped abruptly to ask. “What are you intentions towards my daughter?”
“I plan to marry her.”
Though not surprised, Eric raised his eyebrow in question. “She’s nineteen.” He spoke the words without any inflection.
“I know I need to wait until she graduates. I’m certain that would be a requirement for you.” Eric nodded. “Do I have your permission to pursue this?”
Feeling like he’d gotten over the hurdle, Sam continued to discuss his plans. “I’d like to ask her before she goes to Baton Rouge for her junior year next fall. Perhaps Christmas.”
“I thought you said I can pursue this. Now you’re saying no?”
“I appreciate that you can do what you want; I’m asking you to wait until after her junior year.” Sam opened his mouth to respond and Eric put his hand up. “Hear me out, please.”
It took a moment but Sam nodded.
“Frannie never had a childhood, you know this. She was forced to grow up fast; take care of her mother, her brother, and her brother’s business at times. When she first moved in, I cared for her as a thank you for what she did for Sookie. You know by now, that I couldn’t love her more if I’d fathered her biologically.”
“That’s obvious to everyone. She loves you the same. You’re her hero.”
“That’s nice to hear.” Eric smirked and added, “Though I’m surprised you two actually take the time to talk.” Sam had the decency to blush and Eric held up his hand. It wasn’t the point he was trying to make. “Back to why I’m asking you to wait.” He paused. “I want Frannie to experience normal for as long as possible; engaged at twenty isn’t the norm. Can you see that?”
Sam hated that he did see it. “Yeah.” He reluctantly agreed, though he did have a clarification. “Are you suggesting we can’t commit?”
“No. Not at all. Sookie had an idea since she guessed . . .” Sam gave him a sideways glance. “Okay, she heard you thinking about this already. I called her; she’ll be here in a moment.”
They spoke for a short about kingdom business while they waited. When it went on twenty minutes and Eric could feel Sookie’s frustration he started growing concerned. A moment later, Sookie joined them. Both Sam and Eric wrinkled their noses when she was within a few feet of them. “Good God Sookie, you stink!”
“Yes, Min Älskade, what happened?”
She sighed. “You know how Hunter wanted to fish for dinner?” Eric nodded. “Well, he and Jason were successful. They were cleaning the fish when your minions decided to play with the fish parts. I’ve been running through the house trying to catch the little fiends while they all made puppets out of the fish heads. There was enough fish for them to put one on each of their hands. Moyra, by the way, had nothing to do with it and in fact was so terrified from being chased by dead fish puppets she’s refusing to eat them for dinner, that is, if she even comes out of our room anytime soon since she’s held up there.”
“Does the whole house stink?”
“Jason is working to clean up the droppings, you know, little piles of fish bits here and there. I’ll go back in a moment.” She moved to sit on Eric’s lap and he refused. The look of shock on her face was priceless.
“Sorry my love, but you really do stink. You can have my seat, but I won’t be your seat for now.”
“Fine! Let me share my idea with Sam; then I’m off. Gran and Hunter are keeping the stinkers outside so we can hose them down before baths.” Sam had pulled a chair over for her while she talked about the mess in the house, so she sat. “How about a promise ring?” When he looked at her blankly, she explained. “It’s sometimes referred to as a pre-engagement ring; a symbol of your commitment.”
“How is that different?”
“It doesn’t look like an engagement ring and you can get it to fit her right hand.” She put her hands up. “I’m not pushing; think of it as a compromise.”
Eric interjected. “And I’ll support it. I’ll be excited for her. That won’t happen if she shows up with an engagement ring before she finishes her junior year. Your choice though.”
Sam laughed. “Like it’s really a choice. Frannie would never want to make you unhappy. As long as you know where I’m headed in the long term, and you aren’t going to push her away from me I can be patient.”
Eric put his hand out. “Then we have an accord.”
Sookie leaned in to give Sam a hug and given how well the talk went, he knew better than turn away because she stunk. “I’m very happy about this Sam. Don’t screw anything up. She loves you.”
“I won’t. Hey, after we’re married, can I call you Mom?”
“Only if you want to die.”
Sam walked off feeling pretty good about the talk. It was going to be a long wait, but Frannie was worth it. He also agreed with Eric and respected his desire to give Frannie the time she needed to be a college student. He prayed Frannie would still love him at the end of her college days, but he wouldn’t push her.
Sookie waited for Sam to be out of earshot before she brought up another idea she had. “I have something else to discuss regarding this relationship.”
“I’m all ears. Especially now since I’ve closed off my nose.”
“I don’t smell that bad.”
“When I turn you, I’m going to repeat this incident. Then you’ll know how bad this is.”
“Fine. Can I get to my idea?” He nodded. “You need to let your blood tie with Frannie fade.”
“NO! Absolutely not. What if I need to find her again?”
She put her hands up. “Hang on, listen. Indira has agreed to give Frannie blood for tracking and safety.” He shook his head emphatically. “Eric! As Frannie and Sam grow closer, you won’t want to feel what she’s . . . doing. It’ll only get worse when she moves to her condo for school; Sam can spend weekends there.”
Eric groaned. Somehow he’d forgotten about the condo he bought for Lilla and how they’d been gently encouraging her to spend more time there so she’d be ready for the move to Baton Rouge. ‘That backfired on me. Maybe I can pay LSU to move the business program to Shreveport’. He continued to stare off, lost in thought for a moment when he realized Sookie was correct about the blood tie. He’d already felt his Lilla’s lust when she was around Sam. He didn’t need to feel more. He summed up his feelings to Sookie. “This is a nightmare.”
“This is life.” She stood and patted his arm. “I have to de-stink triplets and talk Moyra out of fish puppet nightmares. You give this some thought.”
Eric sat and reviewed Sookie’s idea. He knew it was the right thing, but that didn’t mean he wanted to give up his blood tie. Sookie was also right when she said that this is life. He never expected to become so attached to the teen when they took her in. He appreciated what she did for Sookie; he could see that his wife loved her unconditionally, but to have wormed her way into his heart so much? Unbelievable, and yet here he was, saddened at the thought that his Lilla fell in love.
His attention was turned to his right when he saw a nude toddler streak by him on the way to the beach. At the ends of the boy’s hands, Eric could see the fish that would be in Moyra’s nightmares for a while (though he was planning to sneak a quick glamour on the girl if needed). He yelled out. “Christian, what are you doing?”
The boy stopped in his tracks and turned to see Eric. As soon as he spied a smile (not a scowl) on his uncle’s face, he relaxed. He thought he was in trouble at first. “UNCA EWIC! Look!” He held up his hands and started running in Eric’s direction. “Puppets!”
“Where did you get those?”
He already knew the answer but wanted to see what the boy would say. Christian looked side to side for a moment then said, “Trips.” Trips is what he called the triplets – many had taken to the nickname – though some still referred to them as troublemakers, hellions, or a recent favorite he’d heard: scalawags. The nicknames were all in good fun so he usually laughed while Sookie huffed (though he could feel her amusement).
“And were you part of the group that scared my Moyra with these puppets?”
Christian’s face answered for him; it was the toddler version of ‘oh shit’. He tried to defend his actions. “De’s a dirl.” He spit out girl like he was saying, she’s a murderer. Eric wasn’t aware that being female was a crime.
“Addie and Pammers are girls.”
Christian cocked his head to the side; the boy was confused by the statement. He finally said, “No wike moya.”
Eric was about to continue on this interesting chat about different types of girls when they both heard Pam yell from the house. “CHRISTIAN! Where are you?”
The boy squealed and ran away. He watched as Pam ran from the house (in heeled sandals) to catch her son as he headed to the beach. The scene near the water captured his attention. Pam had her hands on her hips as she looked down at her boy. She was telling him to drop the fish and at the moment, they were in some kind of standoff. It pleased him to no end seeing Pam like this. His vampire child was a fierce warrior, and here she was, arguing with a two and a half year old. It dawned on him. His relationship with Pam had changed over the years and like Sookie said, it was life. Once his coddled and spoiled vampire child, then a fighter, now more of a sister – the relationship they’d chosen for this phase of their lives. Though he wasn’t sure how many brothers provided limit free credit cards to their sisters. He’d need to rethink that one. As he had all her life, he still very much enjoyed and loved Pam; he would still enjoy and love Frannie once Sam had stolen her: they would adjust as needed. An excellent idea dawned on him. ‘I’ll start building a house on the property this fall. When they’re married, they’ll still be close. I’ll use security as my reason.’
He barked out a laugh when Pam seemingly won the standoff: Christian dropped the fish heads but on top of Pam’s sandals. Designer no doubt.
Pam scooped up Christian and carried him like a barrel under her arm. She stopped at Eric and cut off his laughter. “Your hellions did this – they gave my angel fish heads. You’re replacing the shoes Eric.”
“I would expect nothing less Pam. Why are you suffering with the smell of the fish anyway?”
She rolled her eyes. “Amelia damn near fainted when she saw the kids making the puppets. I had no choice. You’re lucky Sookie hasn’t dragged you . . .”
Pam stopped abruptly when she heard Sookie call. “ERIC! A little help here!?”
“Seems we’re both about to suffer.” He stood from his chair and answered Sookie. “Coming dear.”
“The plane is boarding, you packed Hunter?”
“Yes Daddy. I love the whole private plane thing.”
Eric laughed. “I love it too but what makes you say that?”
“The sword you gave me. Peter told me I wouldn’t be able to travel with it on a regular plane.”
“It would need to be packed in the cargo, but this is easier.”
“Are we gonna have time to spar at home like we did here?”
Eric could see Hunter was upset that their vacation was over so he took his son and put him on his lap. He’d enjoyed it as well. Having all these kids, a kingdom and a council to run did require compromises in scheduling. He often wondered if something should give, but his positions offered some security. Security he wasn’t sure he’d have if they weren’t monarchs. Making a change was a decision he hadn’t had time to think about yet. For now though, Hunter was looking at him expectantly. “I promise to spend time with you at least three days a week. It won’t be as much time as we had here but we will keep going.”
“And someday you’ll sharpen the blades?”
“Hunter. You know as well as I do that the date of someday will be your mother’s decision. You’ll have to nag her about that yourself.”
“Chicken!” Hunter said as he ran out of the room with his bag.
Eric thought his response while he walked to the plane. ‘Chicken is right. She almost took my head off when I bought the dull blade. Sharpening it? Her precious little man? I won’t survive that one.’ He was pulled from his thoughts by Moyra’s yelling. Sookie was trying to get her on the plane and his angel was practically screeching back.
“NO! Wan Mommy. I no go!” Moyra stomped and crossed her arms over her chest in an effort to ensure her point was clear. Everyone else was loaded on the private plane except Moyra, Frannie, and Lacy (still a constant fixture next to Moyra’s side). Sookie and Eric were staying for an additional weekend and would have only two guards patrolling. Eric loved the kids but he wanted the weekend too much to give into Moyra this time. He could also feel that Sookie was near tears and full of guilt over the situation – he’d be the bad guy for her. Moyra would get over it.
On his knees in front of his toddler, he took her in his arms and hugged her. “Moyra, Daddy and Mommy are staying for two more days.” He could feel her head shaking ‘no’ as he spoke but he persisted. “It’s only two days baby and we’ll head home. Daddy needs to stay here and Mommy is helping him out.”
“You no wuv me?” She pushed her lip out perfectly and he felt the knife go through his heart.
‘Gods she’s good,’ he thought. “Of course Daddy and Mommy love you very much. There’s some work here that needs to be done. When you go home, Gran has a surprise event for you tomorrow. If you stay, you’ll miss it.” Finally, he could feel a spark of excitement over this ‘surprise’ so he pounced. “You don’t want Addie, Pammers, and Jarl to have the surprise without you?” She shook her head violently to say no. “Then you better give us our goodbye kisses and get on that plane.”
“Wha’s da soopise?”
“If I tell you it’s not a surprise.” He tapped her nose gently.
They stared at each other for a moment until Moyra gave in. “Otay.”
Sookie and Eric waited until the plane took off before heading back to the main house. “Where are the guards?” Sookie asked.
“They’re sleeping while we’re up so they can patrol our house when we’re asleep. We’re alone min kära.”
“Good, cause I’m ready for a . . .”
“HUNT!?” He asked with a wide grin and wiggling eyebrows.
“I was going to say nap.” She was lying but wanted to tease him.
“No you weren’t. You aren’t tired at all.” He maneuvered the island Jeep to the road behind their house. “I’ll stop the Jeep at the house and give you ten minutes to get naked and hide.”
“Give me twenty. I’ve been planning some tricks for this hunt.” She smiled at him. “And close the bond.”
“Twenty it is.” He put the car in break. “Starting now my little fairy. Hide well because once I get you, you’ll be devoured until the plane is ready to take off two days from now.”
Sookie bolted from the car and started stripping as she ran. At one point, her shorts got caught on her foot and she ripped them off. She knew Eric had seen it because she could hear the laughter from where she was, so she yelled back. “HIDE YOUR EYES!” He complied of course.
Grabbing a bag she’d been prepping for their hunt, she ran to various locations to leave her scent, and in two spots, she left contraptions of Hunter’s making that mimicked the sound of shallow breathing and a heartbeat. Because he didn’t listen to his mother’s thoughts (at her request) Hunter had no idea why she needed help with that but he was able to get two devices that Pam said worked well.
She was dripping with sweat by the time she placed her decoys so she was happy to head to the water for her resting/hiding place. When they discussed the hunt rules Eric was firm that she stay on the property; then she remembered a conversation Eric had with Hunter about how they owned twenty feet into the water. Drifting in a float a mere fifteen feet from the shoreline and hidden from the shore by vegetation, she waited.
Forty minutes after she left the Jeep she was claiming victory. He’d never had to take this long to catch her. In five minutes, it would be ‘time’ and she’d have to reveal herself. As she was chuckling about winning, she felt something bite her feet and she screamed. A naked Eric flew straight out of the water with her in his arms while she continued to thrash around; he’d surprised her so thoroughly, she thought she was in danger. Once she realized what he’d done, the yelling started.
“You can’t yell at me, my little fairy. I caught you fair and square.”
She needed to take a few deep breaths to calm down; then she said. “But only in the nick of time. I had you guessing.”
“I am impressed but I am also still the victor. I get to choose my reward.” He started floating them down to the water as they spoke.
“Yeah, yeah. Let’s hear it.”
“No clothes at all until we’re walking to the plane.”
“I wasn’t done with my reward.”
“I thought that was easy. What else?”
He carried her to one of their outside tables and told her to open a box.
“Why do I get a present if you won the game?”
“Believe me, it’s my reward.”
She was nervous now and wondering what could be in the box. Blenders, spatulas or some other kind of Eric’s favorite kitchen kink, all of these options went through her head. He felt her worry and had to encourage her to open it. “It’s not bad.”
“Okay, I trust you.” The bow was the only adornment so after that was untied, she lifted the lid. Inside she found two boxes; one from Agent Provocateur the other from Best Buy. She opened the lingerie first and was not surprised to find something smutty. It was black and other than being a bunch of ribbons, she didn’t know how else to describe it. “Does it come with instructions or an assistant?” She held up the bits of ribbon with a confused look on her face.
“I’ll put it on you. Open the other box first.”
Inside the Best Buy box was a new digital video camera. “You want to record . . . us?”
He looked like a schoolboy with his first girly magazine. “Yes. Only for me. Nobody will ever see it.”
“I haven’t lost all the weight from the triplets and you want to record . . . me?” She bit her lip for a moment and mumbled. “Course, at this point, I don’t think I’ll ever lose that weight.”
“I don’t want you to lose weight. You are perfect. You’re the soft woman a warrior wants waiting for him after a battle.”
“The only battles going on are with the bulge and obviously I’m losing. Clearly you’re losing your mind if you think I’m going to wear this ribbon and have you film it.”
This was not how their two days alone were supposed to start. The plane took off an hour ago and they were already arguing. At this point, he didn’t care about the video; he cared how Sookie saw herself. That, he needed to fix.
He picked her up and sat with her in one of the chairs. “Min älskade,” Since she was still turned away, he took her chin and guided her so she was facing him. “Where is this coming from?”
“If I had to guess, it’s coming from too much puddy.”
He growled. “That’s not what I meant and you know it.” He put his hand on her arm. “Talk to me.”
She threw her hands in the air and blurted out. “Sorry. I spent the past month with Pam, Kaley, and Frannie – the size two club in bikinis.”
“All those size two bodies are teenagers.” He squeezed her tightly. “You are a woman. My woman and I love you.” He sent love through the bond hoping it would convince her.
She sat quietly and absorbed the love coming from the bond. “I love you too and I’m feeling out of sorts. I can’t remember what it’s like to be us. We need that dating book we never got. Maybe this topic is covered.”
He held her for some time while he mulled over her words. They’d started their mini-vacation wrong. “I have an idea.” He lifted her from the chair and walked to the bedroom. There, he rummaged in the closet and found shorts and dressed them both in silence. Still quiet, he carried her to the kitchen. Finally Sookie asked. “What are you doing?”
“We’re pretending it’s back when we first started getting along. We had dinner every night together. Remember?” She nodded. “So, I’ll heat leftovers; then we’ll sit in the kitchen and talk. Next we’ll watch a superhero movie and I’ll massage your feet.”
She started blubbering immediately. “That’s perfect.”
He held her and wiped her tears. “Jason told me on that first night that you’re a crier. Truer words were never spoken.” He got her to laugh, as was his goal.
“I love you.”
His eyebrows went up and she felt mischief through the bond before he asked. “Do you love me enough to use that camera?”
“You are so bad.” She smirked at him. “We’ll use the camera before we go home.”
Remember – they’ll be a time jump to the next chapter in book time – and in posting time since I’ve got work to do on the next (and last section) of this story.