A/N Reminder, I do my own beta work for Beauty and the Beast . . .
Glimpses 7 – In a Fishbowl
Hoyt hesitated then added. “Cameraman is already filming. I’m at the gate with them.”
“Let them in – flanked by guards please. As soon as we’ve started meeting with them, begin a background check on both. Use the usual resource for that.”
Several minutes later, Sookie and Eric were meeting the reporter and cameraman that had shown up unexpectedly with the expectation of spending a week with Sookie. “Mr. and Mrs. Northman,” Angie nodded to them, “Or should I call you your majesties? I’m not sure of the protocol here.”
Putting the woman at ease, Sookie took over and explained that only the supernaturals needed to use the titles. They completed introductions quickly and Eric suggested they move to his office, Sookie using every moment to listen to Angie’s thoughts while Hunter listened to the cameraman from a close but secret location. Neither telepath found any ill-will so Sookie nodded subtly to Eric to let him know.
Eric led the discussion once they were all seated. “I’m surprised to see you here. Did you expect we would allow you into our routine for a week without any background checks or other security procedures in place?”
“Honestly, my producer and I weren’t sure but I’ll share our thought process.” Sookie and Eric both encouraged her to continue. “Nobody knows we’re here except the two of us,” she pointed between the cameraman and herself, “and my producer. That will stay that way if you say ‘no’ to the request. There isn’t pressure here to agree. What we’re trying to do is shut Madeline down. My producer and I were incensed by that woman’s comments and believe that if we start this week in your life today, it will prove you had no time to prepare and pad your calendar if you will.”
“I can see that. Doubters will still believe this whole thing was planned from the start.” Eric said. “I see what you’re trying to do and we appreciate it. For this invasion of our privacy though? It has to be worth it.”
Sookie had a thought. “Why not call Papa and get his opinion?”
“I will.” He turned to their surprise guests. “Can you share more of your plan?”
Angie nodded. “We’d like to follow your wife around, exactly as was suggested in the . . . ah ‘tete-a-tete’ with Mayor Reece. The plan is to capture a summary of her day, wrap filming when you wake each evening, and edit it for an 8 minute slot for our nightly news. Then the whole thing would be edited differently to be shown as a weekly special if we can sell the air time.”
“Only a handful of people have ever seen where my family living quarters are.”
“Understood. We can work around that. Mrs. Northman can leave us as needed, then fill us in on what happened.” The news reps glanced at each other and nodded, confirming her response. “We also have a plan where Mr. Northman can review the video for the day before it goes to editing. Anything that needs to deleted can be handled before it’s offsite.”
“It’s all digital though. What’s to prevent you from uploading during the day?”
“We’ll agree to be searched for any devices that can send data. Our calls can be monitored and if we need access to a PC for any reason that can be monitored as well.” Angie leaned in. “Look, we’re on your side here. We aren’t out to make you look bad either.”
Eric turned to his wife and she nodded. “While we believe you, we need to take precautions. Your plan for that will work.”
“Good.” Angie blew out a relieved breath and altered the topic. “Can I ask what you have planned for the next three days? Maybe we can nail down some specifics that will help you make up your mind. We’ll determine if anything more than three days is needed later.”
Sookie stood. “Good idea. I’ll get our assistants in here to review schedules.” Angie hesitated and Sookie heard her thoughts so she waited for the woman to decide if she wanted to make the request or not. “Anything else Angie?”
“Yes. Well, in case you decide to move forward . . . can we start filming? Maybe hearing the schedule right away will help people realize that the mayor is full of it.” Eric and Sookie hesitated so Angie reached into her bag and pulled out her phone. “We’ll both turn over our connections to the outside world right now.”
Eric had two guards come and search through the bags and pockets of the newspeople before agreeing to the recording. Hoyt and Holly were then invited into the meeting.
With the camera catching everything, Angie introduced the review of the agenda. “Tonight, we have a surprise to our station viewers and the supernatural King and Queen of Louisiana: without notice, I drove to the home and supernatural offices of Mr. and Mrs. Northman in Bon Temps. After some discussion and persuasion, they have agreed to host my cameraman and me for the next few days as we follow Mrs. Northman. If you saw the discussion between Mrs. Northman and our own Mayor Reece, then you know we jumped on the challenge presented by Mrs. Northman: to follow her for a week. We’re not sure a week is needed; nor did I pack that many clothes, but here we are. We’ll start with the agenda for the next couple of days.”
The cameraman adjusted his shot and Angie nodded at Hoyt and Holly to begin their review of the schedule: a Council meeting, bi-weekly trip to the park (sounded innocent enough, but Angie had no idea of the planning that went into the trip), final preparations for the upcoming ball, study time for Sookie’s college finals, Christmas shopping (another guard and logistical nightmare) and all the regular meetings and necessities of life needed to run a kingdom, a large corporation and a household with six kids. To say Angie was shocked over the agenda for the next three days would be an understatement.
Angie looked up from reviewing her notes and smiled into the camera. “There you have it Shreveport, the next few days with the Northmans are going to be busy. Won’t you join me?”
The cameraman handed Eric his digital recording as promised and Eric nodded in recognition. “I’ll make the call to my father. Can I offer you some refreshments while you wait?”
“We’ll be fine. Take your time.”
Sookie and Hoyt joined Eric in one of their private meeting rooms while he called Godric. “Father, good evening.”
“My son, Toni and I were just discussion how well Sookie handled her reaction to that horrid mayor.”
“We’ve had a surprise at home tonight as a result of that newscast.”
Eric explained the unforeseen guests and their odd request. The two discussed the pros and cons and finally came to a conclusion and conditions. A full week might not happen, but a few days would reduce the personal invasion and possibly discredit the comments of Madeline Reece. While they finished up with Godric, Hoyt received a summary from their private investigator. It wasn’t a full report, but enough to put them at ease since Sookie had also confirmed their positive intentions via telepathy.
Eric and Sookie returned to the office to share their decision. “Sorry for taking so long. This wasn’t an easy decision yet we know it needed to be a quick decision to have any impact.”
“Yes, the situation has made that true.”
“We’ve decided to move forward and welcome you to join us over the next three days.” Angie smiled and opened her mouth to speak but Eric stopped her. “With some conditions.”
“Once you hear the conditions, you aren’t permitted off the property without an escort. Are you ready for that?” Angie and the cameraman nodded. “You will be glamoured to forget several private and security aspects of your time here. My maker will arrive here on your last night to test the glamour personally. What that means is, while you’re here, you’re welcome to follow Sookie as needed – with respect for her work and her privacy and with a guard for each of you. As you mentioned, I will review the film each night before it goes to your studio. The sections I edit out will be gone forever. You can’t claim the studio owns anything.”
“Agreed. Do we need paperwork for this?”
Eric smirked. “Most certainly. My lawyer is on his way.” He stood and invited everyone to the music room. “I had the family moved to the music room so we can get introductions out of the way.”
Angie gave him a skeptical look. “You have confidence in the paperwork being signed.”
“I’m pretty sure your studio will sign off. This is quite the coup for you.”
They arrived in the music room and Eric moved around introducing them to the children. He had to catch the triplets to show them off one at a time. They were rarely in the music room and were taking full advantage of the instruments within their reach; most notably the drums that Hunter had started playing. “Pammers,” Eric said as he reached for her hands waving over one of the floor toms. “No drums.” She pouted as he picked her up.
“And finally, this one is Pamela Raven. We call her Pammers.”
Angie laughed as Pammers started beating on Eric’s chest in substitution for the drum. “I heard you call her Pammers. How did that nickname come about?”
“Pam, her eponym, lives on the property. As a result, we quickly needed a way to differentiate the two Pams. Hunter said we could call her Pam R for Raven. It wasn’t too long before Pammers started.”
“That might be one of those names that she won’t like later.”
“Is it not a parent’s job to embarrass their children?” He spoke in a serious tone, but gave Angie a playful look.
“Something tells me you’re going to have too much fun with that when the little ones are teens.”
“I plan to excel at it. As I do with everything.”
Sookie heard him and came over, Frannie by her side.
Frannie yelled, “Daddy!” While Sookie admonished him, “ERIC! Don’t give them quotes like that!”
“Why not? It’s true.” Sookie rolled her eyes and giggled with Frannie and Angie.
Two hours later, both Eric and Angie’s studio had signed off on the contract and filming began. The first hour was boring. Sookie and Eric sat in their office, taking turns with the littlest kids to keep them occupied with various toys while they planned for the Council meeting. Two sections of the room were defined by a colorful and (adult) moveable blocks. Frannie and Hunter were heads down at their desks with school work. Angie was impressed with the family’s reaction to the cameras, she could tell that since she and her cameraman were in a corner of the room the family seemed to ignore them. While the camera rolled, Eric and Sookie quietly debated over a few issues on the Council agenda, Moyra played and seemed to need only the occasional hug, and the triplets created ‘music’ with some toy instruments.
Angie held back a laugh as she noticed the triplets getting bored and looking for mischief (it was the only way to describe the looks on their faces). In an effort to keep the three toddlers content, Eric gave the triplets puzzles and crayons. The boy, Jarl, grabbed a crayon and walked to the wall. Eric gently guided him back to their little table and gave him a large pad of paper. That satisfied Jarl for the first five minutes; then he tried the wall again with Sookie giving him a firm no and a stern look while she grabbed his crayon and moved the entire bucket of crayons to Eric’s desk. Sookie’s cousin Claude joined them for the Council meeting set to start in a few minutes as Sookie explained. “The wall is a canvas, or so they think. This has been an ongoing battle.”
Angie laughed. “I can see that. My sister has a two-year old that thinks the blank spot behind the sofa is a canvas.”
To occupy the triplets, Sookie added a basket of Little People toys to the area and they were off and playing. The new toys captured Moyra’s interest so she joined them as well. This gave Sookie and Eric the break they needed to call into the Council. Eric confirmed. “Little People toys are held off for times when we need longer stretches of them being occupied.” He smirked. “They work every time.”
Angie was confused. “I’m missing something.”
“What’s that Angie?” Sookie asked as Eric fiddled with the teleconferencing equipment.
“All the kids work with you? That’s extreme for a working mother. I don’t think anyone would expect a working mother to operate without help during working hours.”
“We have helping hands, sure. Gran comes up with her nurse for some time each night, but she’s currently visiting Alcide and Cara in Mississippi. They had their second baby a few weeks ago.” Sookie moved to her seat at the large meeting table. “Hoyt and Holly will grab them if needed for a particular meeting. Other than that, they are here with us. Frannie usually helps, but as you can see, she’s focused on preparing for her finals.” The web conference came online and Sookie pointed to the screen to indicate the meeting was starting.
Honestly, the Council meeting topic wasn’t a surprise to Angie. The supernatural Council made their meeting minutes and recordings available to the public in general in an effort to ensure complete disclosure of their activities. Angie already knew the topic of holding public office was a current focus for the group. In the two years since all supernatural species were revealed, anyone (with a few exceptions) that disclosed they were supernatural had been ousted from elected political positions. The Council was trying to turn that around.
What was more interesting to Angie was the activity with the triplets. They sat quietly while Moyra played with the chicken in the Little People farm. After a few moments of absolute stillness, Jarl smiled as he watched his sister, Angie thought it was Pammers, go to the colorful block ‘wall’ and try to climb it. She fell back and started crying, capturing Sookie’s attention right away. Eric and Claude stayed in the meeting while Sookie tended to Pammers. Meanwhile, Addie and Jarl quickly climbed a chair they had already moved to the edge of their area where it butted up against Eric’s desk. Angie laughed as she saw Jarl hand two crayons to Addie then climb down again with another crayon in his hand. Further surprising Angie, the toddlers did nothing with their prizes. Though she was dying to say something, she watched. Pammers was kissed and replaced in the toddler area and she joined her brother and sisters in play. Angie’s patience was rewarded: Jarl was first to give up on the Little People as he headed for the wall with the red crayon in hand. That’s when she interceded. “Sookie, the triplets.”
Sookie reacted quickly and grabbed Jarl before he did any damage, snatched the contraband from the others, and returned to the Council meeting, Jarl in hand.
For the umpteenth time since she entered the Northmans’ house, Angie was impressed. ‘They’re exactly like a normal family. Actually, they’re more than a normal family. Others would have a nanny or daycare involved. Sookie and Eric prepped and attended the Council meeting while dealing with the kids and they didn’t miss a beat. They make a great team. Mayor Madeline is off her rocker.’
Later, Angie was in the kitchen while Sookie prepared dinner. “I know it’s late, but our day starts more at Noon or 1:00PM, so our meals are off. Our main meal is at a more standard dinner time since we have that with Gran. At this hour, I’m serving the kids what you might call lunch – something lighter and they’ll have snack and go to bed at about 1:00 AM. I’m certain if you share this information, I’ll get some kind of hate mail about their schedule. Lord knows I’ve received it before when some of this information has gotten out. I can assure you, we’ve worked out this lifestyle with our doctors and because we’re consistent, there are no issues. Not having Eric in their lives as he is would be more devastating to the kids.”
“I’ve already detected that. They’re all quite attached.”
Sookie turned to her from the stove. “I hope you guys aren’t allergic to anything. I’ve got tomato soup and grilled cheese tonight. You know, exactly what you’d expect royalty to eat.” Sookie rolled her eyes at her own comment.
Angie gave a puzzled expression. “My producer arranged for food to be delivered for us to eat at the gate. We didn’t arrive expecting . . .”
“I’m not having you sit in a car to eat! If you can adapt to our schedule, you’ll join us! That’s final.”
“The soup smells delicious, so I won’t’ say no. How about you direct me to the dishes and I’ll set the table?”
“I’d like that. Setting the table is Hunter’s job and he’s been too pre-occupied with his lab and spends as much time as he can there. That’s where he ran off to after he finished his reading and writing assignment.”
“Oh. He’s home schooled and last month his tutor came to us. Seems he needs more in science and math than she can provide.” Sookie turned to flip the sandwiches and then started speaking again. “We added a small science lab and some additional tutors for him. He loves it so I forgive the forgotten chores for now.”
“He’s eight and working in a science lab?”
“He’s advanced.” Sookie answered Angie matter-of-factly not wanting to get into Hunter’s biology goals in detail.
“Speaking of advanced, I was intrigued by the triplets while you were in your meeting.” Angie stopped setting the table to watch Sookie’s reaction to her question. “I could swear they strategized together to get the crayons. Have you ever seen anything like that before?”
Sookie most certainly did not want to get into the triplets telepathy so she was guarded with her response. Her ability to maintain a poker face helped. “Strategy? From an eighteen month old? I guess they have something going on since they’re triplets. But strategizing?”
“It’s what it looked like to me.”
Sookie shrugged as she spun and took the sandwiches from the griddle; then she picked up the house phone and made calls to collect everyone. “I’ll get the soup on when the rest . . .”
She was interrupted by Frannie’s yell. “Mom, I can’t find my new skirt.” The girl had entered the kitchen before she finished her sentence. “Oh! I forgot you guys were going to be here.” She blushed and turned to her mom. “I’m packing to stay at school and I wanted my new skirt for tomorrow.”
Sookie frowned. The reason for her skirt having gone missing wasn’t something she wanted to say in front of the reporter. “Pack something else and we’ll talk about it later.”
Frannie didn’t take the hint. “But, we have a lunch party tomorrow to celebrate the calculus final! The party is why I bought that skirt.”
“I’m sure you have something else that’s perfect. Your blue dress with the . . . .”
“He nixed the skirt, didn’t he?” Sookie knew who ‘he’ was and Frannie was correct. Her father had seen the skirt in the laundry room while it was hanging to dry and thought it was way too short. With a sigh, she nodded to Frannie. “I’m eighteen years old!” In an epic case of poor timing, Eric came into the kitchen with the triplets tucked into his arms and Moyra and Hunter running behind them. Frannie forgot about the camera and given her stress over the finals, she lost it. “Daddy. Mom said you got rid of my new skirt? How could you? I bought that skirt for a party tomorrow.”
He secured the triplets in their high chairs; then stood tall and crossed his arms over his chest. “The skirt was too short.”
Exasperated, she threw her hands in the air. “I had something to cover my legs!”
Eric calmly but firmly reminded her, “Lilla, watch your tone.” Frannie opened her mouth and he stopped her. “Your mother already showed me the ridiculous long socks you had to wear with it.” In that skirt, he thought she looked like an older man’s school girl fantasy and he was not permitting her out the door like that. He watched his teenager take a large breath and knew she was readying to put up a fight. In return, he was ready to make his opinion firm with no room for negotiation – including a sudden restriction on staying at the school condo overnight.
With her next words, she derailed his plans. She offered a meek, “but I’m eighteen” while a tear fell down her cheek.
Eric melted and he knew the kids would be the death of him. “Lilla, I know you’re eighteen. I know if you weren’t living here this semester you’d be wearing what you want. I get overly concerned about your outfits since you are so often in the public eye via newspapers, TV, and magazines. You’re a beautiful and now famous girl because of your family and your own acts of kindness. I don’t do this to make you mad at me. I want you to always put your best foot forward and while that outfit would have been fashionable,” he rubbed his face, pained at the turn of events, “it wasn’t befitting a proper young lady.” He pulled her into a hug. “I know someday – probably very soon – I’ll need to cut you loose but I’m not ready for that Lilla.”
She squeezed him tight in return. “I’m not either Daddy. I’ll donate the skirt if you haven’t done that already.”
After witnessing the whole exchange, Angie let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding. She’d seen Eric’s ire grow as his daughter fought for her right to dress as she wanted. She saw Frannie’s upset at the situation. What touched her though, was when the two calmed and came together. This news project was going to make her famous! This family should have their own reality show.
The rest of the meal was without any significant incident – considering they did give triplets tomato soup to eat. The mess was mostly contained since Sookie had given them their soup in a sippy cup to drink rather than try to eat it with a spoon. Moyra showed everyone just how much a mess a child could make with a soup spoon. Tomato soup covered her place setting, the floor, and even Angie’s hair since she’d seated herself next to the girl.
By the time all the kids were in bed, Angie and the cameraman were practically dead on their feet. They’d had a nap after their producer had decided to send them to Bon Temps for an impromptu visit, but it was too short to sustain them through the evening. So it was with great relief that they learned Eric and Sookie had only one meeting for work after the kids were asleep. It was the daily summary from each of their department heads. It was well-run by Hoyt so each department head provided their update and action plans quickly and the meeting closed in less than 90 minutes. Angie collapsed into a guest room – Eric had insisted they stay on the property until the filming was complete.
The next day started at noon with the triplets and Moyra waking and wanting attention. Angie could barely keep up with Sookie and her kids. At first Angie thought that while she would be able to prove that Sookie was in fact a full-time working mother, she also believed some mothers would be jealous that Sookie lived a life of luxury. Her second day proved her thoughts wrong. While Sookie did have nice clothes and other things that money could afford, simple things were beyond her reach. A trip to the park was a prime example: it took three SUV’s and fifteen guards to provide playtime at a local park. When Angie had asked why everyone went to the trouble for park time, Sookie told her it was important for her kids to play like other kids did. “We don’t screen the families that are here. I want my kids to see what it means to meet other kids. To play with kids other than each other. They’re sheltered enough.” Sookie stopped playing in the sand with the triplets to fix Moyra’s shoe and the girl ran off to the slide. “If you think this is bad, we have Christmas shopping tomorrow night. Add in Frannie, Hunter Eric and even more guards.”
“Is there a bus parked on the property?”
“Don’t you dare give my husband any ideas.” The ladies both laughed at Sookie’s comment.
“So wait, Christmas shopping is a problem because of your family’s size, right?” Angie looked around and started to doubt what she had originally believed. “You can still run out and shop, right? I mean, that’d be a big part of being rich to me.”
“It is more problematic with everyone and their guards so we don’t go out much as a family – and never without planning it.” Angie cocked her head to the side, taking in Sookie’s comments. “I don’t run out for eggs because we’re out. I don’t get to pick out my own tampons Angie. I might have designer labels in my clothes, and my husband thinks Harry Winston is a place you shop as often as some folks order from Amazon, but it comes at a price.”
“I see that.” Angie shifted from one foot to the other. “Is all the security necessary though?”
“Angie.” Sookie sighed. “We get death and kidnapping threats at least monthly. People are positive that our children are at risk to the point they believe they should be kidnapped for their own good.” Sookie took a breath to add something but her phone rang. “Hi.”
“What’s wrong min älskade? Your sadness woke me up.”
“I’ll tell you later.”
Eric guessed correctly at her reason for keeping quiet. “Angie is near.”
“Yes. We’ve only been at the park for twenty minutes or so. I’ll be here for a little while.”
“I’ll see you when you get home. Since I’m up early I’ll get some work done.”
Sookie smirked and sent a bolt of lust through the bond. “Will that leave you and I to enjoy naptime?” She’d turned from Angie and whispered the last part into the phone.
“That’s the plan.”
They ended the call and Sookie returned her focus to Angie. “Sorry about that.”
“Hey, I’m here to observe your life, not prevent it.”
Angie did continue to observe Sookie for the next two days/nights and was continually surprised by the variety of tasks, meetings, and activities that filled the time she spent with the family. Sookie prepped for and attended many hours of meetings each day and night, planned for an upcoming ball, studied for her college final examinations, held the monthly supernatural court with her husband and still served as a hands-on mother for all the kids. The news station aired a segment each night with a short introduction by Angie and the reaction was mostly positive. Shreveport Mayor, Madeleine Reece was asked to comment after the second night but she simply stated the whole production was scripted and she had no other comment she could make on a work of fiction.
Angie joined the anchors in the studio for the final segment and provided a summary to the viewers.
“Good evening viewers. In addition to airing the third and final segment of: The Mother Investigation, I’d like to summarize my three days with the Northman’s since the eight minute segments can’t cover the extent of their days. I’ll start by telling you that I was worn out hours before Mrs. Northman was each day – and per her claims that we needed to make the days as real as possible – she only permitted me to take on the smallest tasks. What the videos you’ve watched over the past few days missed include:
- 63 diapers changed. Fathers, cover your partner’s ears: Mr. or King Northman changed over half of them. Bottom line: if he was up, he changed the diapers.
- Several kid emergencies handled equally by both parents including: two bumped heads (the kids bumped into each other), one scraped knee, a lost little person (the farmer – it was a tragedy until he was found), a holdup in the first planned science project in Hunter’s new home school lab (frogs were ordered for the lab and shipping was delayed) and a debate over the appropriate length of skirts for an eighteen year old.
- Yards of plain wall were saved from becoming triplet works of art (those three can’t be trusted with crayons, period).
- Countless number of hugs, kisses, and words of encouragement and correction freely given. The household exists on an endless source of patience while simultaneously enduring a lack of sleep. As I said, the schedule wore me out – and I run marathons.
I know there is a claim that the videos we’ve shown were scripted and I’d like to offer my perspective as a response. My cameraman and I showed up, unannounced, at the gate to the Northman’s property hours after Mayor Reece and Queen Northman had their discussion at the monthly ‘Louisiana Mom’s Coalition’ meeting. Within two hours of our arrival, we started recording in earnest. Honestly, you’d need to be psychic to have planned and scripted my visit.
The children are front and center in the videos and based on their actions, you can see how comfortable they are with both parents. That comfort and happiness cannot be scripted. What this family gave me was an unplanned glimpse of their real lives; tomato soup and grilled cheese included. The Northmans will tell you they are thankful for the opportunity to have a family and the lives they lead. Sookie, as I was invited to call her, told me that seeing all species working so well together has been rewarding and gives purpose to the long hours she spends on Council work and the precautions they need to make for security since they are in the public eye. On my first full day there, we visited the local park. Park visits are planned weeks in advance and require multiple vehicles and personnel. Regular stops to a grocery store or pharmacy aren’t possible for any member of the family. Sookie hasn’t driven on her own in four years. The Northman’s popularity has paparazzi following them like Hollywood personalities. Unlike a Hollywood personality, though, the Northman’s are equally as likely to have a religious zealot point a gun at them. Their luxury comes at a price. One I wouldn’t want to pay.
I did ask Sookie one question that I thought you might want to hear as well.”
Angie nodded to the screen behind her and a view of Sookie packing a car with kids to head to the mall for Christmas shopping came up. In the background, there was some commotion as they tried to corral two of the triplets. Angie turned to Sookie. “I have to ask.” She paused for a second. “Sookie, would you trade your life? The kids, the work you do, the chaos, the need for security?”
Sookie smiled as she grabbed Addie running by. “Not in a heartbeat.”
The view moved back to Angie at the news desk. “I thank the Northman’s again for their hospitality and invite you to see the extended edit next Friday night on this station.” She nodded to the anchor woman. “Back to you Michelle.”
“Thank you Angie for that interesting view of our state’s supernatural royal family.” Michelle looked to the prompter and started the next update: “And in related news, Mayor Reece’s approval rating has dropped from 42% to 15%.”