A/N: Remember, I beta (such as it is) Beauty and the Vampire Beast on my own.
1) This three chapter story arc is not all sweetness. In fact it’s the opposite – somewhere around chapter 65/66 of BVB I left a window open and I’m pulling something all the way through. I’ll summarize the plot points in a separate chapter after all three of the chapters are posted.
2) The first two chapters are cliffhangers. If that’s too bothersome, I should have it all posted by mid June if you want to wait.
Enjoy, er um, happy nail biting?!
Glimpses 8 – Smarty Pants Part 2
“What’s this?” Eric had stopped at Holly’s desk before heading to his office.
Holly frowned. “Oh shoot. Pretend you didn’t see it.” He raised his eyebrow at her. “Seriously Eric.”
“Now I want to open it more.”
“It’s addressed to your wife.” She was trying for anything to get him off the topic. “It’s against the law to open mail not addressed to you.”
“You open Sookie’s mail all the time.”
“With her permission.” From the look he was giving her, she knew it was a lost cause. “If you open it and want to keep it a secret, you’ll have to glamour me.”
“Done.” He snatched the envelope that peaked his interest from the desk and read it. “Why was this a secret?”
“She wanted to ignore it; she didn’t think attending was feasible.”
He held the letter for a moment while he thought. He knew he needed to be quick since she’d be back from Gran’s pretty soon. “Here’s the plan.” He pulled up a chair. “She’s away tomorrow helping Frannie pack up the condo. I’ll glamour you now so she won’t be able to know I’ve seen it. Tomorrow I want you to make all the arrangements needed for her to attend. I’ll glamour you again when I rise after you share the details with me.”
“She’s gonna be pissed.”
“I’ll live with it.” He heard the dog barking near the front of the house. “They’re almost to the house.” He put the letter back where he’d found it. The barking grew louder as they approached. “How did I get talked into a dog that barks so much?” Holly ignored the question and smirked at him. “Let me glamour you.”
The glamour had taken effect right as the family came into the office. Moyra and their dog Lacy led the charge. As usual, the dog ran to Eric and sat expectantly. Moyra giggled. “Acy wants you to pet hers.”
“Lacy always wants someone to pet her.” He squatted and put his arms out. “I’d rather use my hands to cuddle with you Moyra. Come here.”
Moyra ran into Eric’s arms and snuggled in for a moment then pulled her head back to look at Eric – with a pout. “You no wuv Acy?”
Holly laughed and Eric turned to her – happy for the distraction so he didn’t need to answer the question. “What’s so funny?”
“Her face.” She giggled again. “It’s the answer to your question about the dog.”
He sighed, owning how easily Moyra could sway him with a look. “Yes, you’re right. Moyra is the reason we rescued Lacy and kept her.” He looked down at the girl smiling sweetly in his arms. “Aren’t you Daddy’s Kryptonite?”
As he said this to her many times, she smiled and confirmed. “Daddy’s kripponi,” then nodded her head seriously.
He mumbled to himself mostly as he walked into the office to work – Moyra in his arms and Lacy at his feet. “Daddy’s Kryptonite indeed.”
“Peter, can you get me another garment box in here?”
“Sure your majesty.”
As he walked up to her with the large packing box for hanging clothes Sookie reminded him. “You know, when we’re both sweaty and tired from packing up our daughters’ condo, you can call me Sookie.”
“Not a chance your majesty.”
She glared at him for a moment but he smiled and went back to his daughter Kaley’s room to help.
Sookie and some Were guards were at Frannie and Kaley’s condo the weekend before finals to start packing her up. Sookie was working on Frannie’s closet so she turned on her heel and opened the door. She shook her head at the excess – not Frannie’s doing. Pam had a new outfits shipped to Frannie every week – all designer and all ridiculously expensive. At this point, she’d been with Eric over four years and sometimes the spending still got to her. “So we’re only leaving the clothes you need for finals?”
“Yes. I don’t intend to spend any time here over the summer with all the work I have to do with Sam planned.”
“You know your father already has a limit on your work hours, right?” She hung her first handful of dresses and turned to Frannie. “He’s got a month planned on our island.”
“NO! I didn’t know. I thought I was working all summer?”
“Some work will need to be done while we’re on holiday but it will be minimal.”
“So who’s going?”
“I’ll just cut to the one you’re hoping to hear – Peter is coming so Kaley will be there the whole time.”
Frannie attacked Sookie with a hug. “Mom! This is perfect. The first year at college has been so hard. Vacation time will be perfect. How much fairy blood does Daddy have?”
“Claude got him a supply for two weeks.”
“YAY! Is he using it the first two weeks so any tan he gets will fade before we go home?”
“He’s taking tanning into consideration but he hasn’t made a decision.”
“I can’t wait.”
“I know – but first we both need to get through our finals. Let’s finish packing so we can get back to studying.”
They both continued their tasks for a few minutes until Sookie broke the silence. “Frannie, since it’s just us girls, can we talk about Jimmy working on the property this summer?”
Frannie sighed. She really was fine with seeing Jimmy and her Mom couldn’t get it through her head. “Why are you having a hard time believing me? Can’t you . . . you know, listen to my thoughts and confirm I’m not lying?”
“Well, it’s your thoughts that have me worried. I know you’re pining for someone. Out of respect for you I stopped listening when those thoughts started.”
“It’s not Jimmy. It’s not Bradley either; I knew after three dates that he wasn’t someone I wanted to see for very long.” Sookie opened her mouth to interject but Frannie added, “And it’s not Greg. I know I was upset when the whole thing happened but I promise you, after you heard from his head that he wanted to date me to win a bet that he could sleep with me?” Frannie shook her head with a disgusted look on her face. “I lost all interest in him and thanked anyone who would listen for having parents that cared enough to be involved with my life.”
“I know you’ve had a rough time with a few boys asking you out and then losing interest after you told them they needed to meet your parents. I know you’re eighteen and more than capable of being on your own.” Sookie moved to hug Frannie. “I appreciate that you allow us to be involved. I’m sure one day that will change so I’ll enjoy it for now.” She pulled back from the hug to look Frannie in the eye. “I’ll take you at your word that you’re alright with Jimmy working on the property. I think it’s great that you can be friends after dating. I guess I was worried since I know he’s moved on and has been dating someone.”
“And I’m single. It’s fine Mom.”
“I’m here if you want to talk about your crush or interest – or whatever it is you call it these days.”
“I know. It’s not something that will ever happen so I don’t want to talk about it.” She returned to folding some clothes for her suitcase. “Besides, I think the summer will be busy and fun without having a boyfriend.”
“I agree! Now you have more time to spend with the family. I bet this is our best summer ever!”
The following Saturday, Sookie woke to see her husband walking around in their bedroom; it was almost noon. “Why are you up?”
“I took fairy blood.”
“I figured out the how sweetie, but why did you take fairy blood?”
She stood from the bed and moved into his embrace for a ‘good morning’ kiss. He left her breathless and answered her question. “It’s a surprise. I put out an outfit for you. I’m headed off to dress the kids.” He peeked at the clock on the nightstand and added, “The car leaves in an hour.”
“You’re dressing them all on your own?”
“I’m not that brave, Frannie is helping me.”
He left their bedroom and she walked into their closet. There, she saw a stunning blue and black dress with matching shoes. ‘What does he have planned, I wonder?’ She’d given up trying to figure her husband’s surprise out and got ready. She met the rest of the family in the foyer and raised her brow at Eric. Everyone was dressed in formal coordinated outfits except him. He was wearing jeans, a black t-shirt, boots and of all things, a baseball cap. The raised brow was interpreted correctly. “You’ll see why I’m dressed like this later.” He pulled out a bag from Tiffany. “These are for you to wear today.”
“I already picked jewelry.”
She glared at him for a moment but he simply smiled at her and held up her bag. Inside, she found a new bracelet, necklace and earrings. They were gorgeous, or course, but she hated when he went overboard on her – and these pieces looked overboard. Not knowing everything that was happening though, she leaned in and gave him a thank you kiss.
As she usually did, baby Adele started clapping at the kiss. Someone (Daddy) had trained her to clap when they kissed or hugged. “Yes Addie,” Sookie spoke to her toddler daughter, “Mommy loves Daddy.”
“Dada! Dada!” Addie called from Lala’s arms. “Dada!”
“Not now baby girl. Daddy will see you later.”
That started a crying fit, and nobody was surprised, Addie had a temper. Her namesake stepped in to try to soothe the toddler. Gran typically could calm her.
Since the family and guards had gotten so large, they needed two limos for everyone. Sookie looked around and asked Jason. “So all my kids are going, but not yours; not Amelia’s?”
Jason shook his head. “Nope. Big guy planned it that way. We got a couple of girls from the Packsters group watching them at Gran’s house.”
“But it doesn’t seem right that my kids are going then.”
“Yeah, it’s right. You’ll see.”
It took another twenty minutes to load the limos and Eric watched as they drove off, feeling his wife’s excitement and curiosity through the bond.
Peter, the head of security, pulled up shortly after the family left. Eric had suggested that he could be without a guard but Peter threatened to resign over the monarch’s comments and Eric finally agreed to having Peter guard him personally. To hide his daywalker status, both Eric and Peter were dressed to blend in as much as possible.
Eric walked to the driver’s side and opened the door. “I’m driving.” Peter raised his brow and stared at the vampire king. “I’m serious Peter.”
The Were guard threw his hands in the air and grumbled a ‘fine’ as he walked to the passenger side. Once he was secure, he turned to Eric. “This is a security nightmare, you know that, right?”
“I hardly think my driving can be considered a security nightmare.”
“Not the driving your majesty, the whole day!” Peter waved his hands around to emphasize the breadth of the matter. “A nightmare.”
“I know Peter. It’s why you and your family are joining us on the island as a vacation, not work.”
“Like I can relax when I know you’re prancing around in the sun.” Eric let out a barking laugh and Peter joined him, enjoying a moment of fun.
“Eric grinned and turned to him. “Admit it, you imagined me prancing when you said that.”
With a nod, Peter confirmed. “I did. You were in a pink Speedo, very attractive.”
After a few moments of silence, Eric asked for an update on the vampire guests he’d invited for Sookie’s surprise. “Russell, Bart, Stan . . . they all arrived?”
“Yes, they’re secure in the Bon Temps hotel. I received a text from your father’s guard; they are about an hour out from your house. Toni is already in touch with the caterer as you both planned. She’ll ensure everything is as you wanted by the time we return.” He paused then asked. “Do you think Sookie’s suspects yet?”
“Not yet. I’m sure she’ll figure out where she’s going shortly, but not all the details on the surprise party and the guests.”
“I wish I could see her face when she gets a glimpse of the friends you invited to the ceremony. I mean, it’s been a while since she’s seen Alcide and Potts.”
“It has.” He chuckled. “We’ll have happy tears, I‘m sure.”
Meanwhile, in one of the other cars, Sookie’s guard reminded her of the surprise factor. “No listening your Majesty.” They all knew she could read minds and would know where they were going if she picked up anything.
“Oh my husband told me to keep out. I’m being good Ben.”
They drove for a while and Sookie realized they were headed to the satellite campus of LSU and given the date, she put her surprise together. “How did he know? Is this safe? How are we doing this?” Sookie looked around the car with curiosity as she asked.
It was Kavan who answered. “I’ll be with you for the ceremony. Holly arranged for you to have an end seat and I’ll stand next to you.”
Sookie started shaking her head. “The kids need more protection. Sooree can’t be the only Britlingen with them.”
“Each child has a guard in addition to Sooree. Eric will be at one of the doors to watch you, not with us to keep his daywalker status hidden, but if something happens with the family, he can fly over.”
“This wasn’t necessary.” Sookie was getting upset.
Sam spoke to her. “Yes Sookie, it was necessary. You’ll go through this for each child’s accomplishment and you know it. As their mother, you deserve the same recognition and celebration.” He pulled out some note cards. “Now, I understand you’re actually one of the two students graduating Summa Cum Laude?” He held out the cards but Sookie didn’t move. “You need a few bullet points for your speech.”
“I already informed the school I wasn’t attending graduation and therefore wouldn’t be giving a speech.”
He pushed the note cards and pen into her lap. “Eric changed that.”
“Really?” It wasn’t an excited really. “I’m worried about everyone’s safety and now I need to give a speech?”
Trying to help Sam, Frannie added. “It’s only two minutes, Mom. You give tons of speeches and all of us are in public with security handled. All. The. Time. Besides, Daddy is so proud of you. First – Hunter is a freakin genius now his wife is graduating Summa Cum Laude. You’re setting the bar too high for me Mom. You guys are smarty pants.”
When Sookie sat still, Sam tag teamed and pointed to the note card. “Start writing. You have about thirty minutes.”
Sookie grimaced at both Sam and Frannie but started making notes. She had 6 cards with comments on them in hand by the time they pulled up to the school. Getting them in the auditorium took a while with the family and friends pairing up with their guards. With an invisible Kavan, Sookie separated from her family to join her fellow students. The small amount of students graduating from the satellite versus main campus gave them a security advantage: less people attending.
Sookie waited at the back of the auditorium for the beginning of the ceremony. At one point, the guest speaker for the graduation, new Shreveport Mayor Tracy William, came over to chat with Sookie. “Mayor William, how are you settling in?”
“Nicely. Thank you for asking Mrs. Northman.” She put her arm out and started walking. “We haven’t had the opportunity to talk with since the election. Do you have a moment?”
“Certainly.” Sookie walked with her to the side of the room. “Is there a problem?”
“Not at all. I haven’t had the chance to properly thank you.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Your support during the election; both your campaign donation and your endorsement.” She chuckled. “I guess I should thank you for creating the sudden opening for a mayor in Shreveport, but that would be inappropriate.” She leaned in. “But I’ll thank you anyway. If you hadn’t stood up to former Mayor Reece by having your life videotaped, I probably wouldn’t have my job.”
“Mayor Reece opened her mouth when she should have tried working together; I take no credit for that.” She leaned back and whispered. “But I’m not sorry I helped her move on.” The women shared a mischievous giggle.
The university workers started guiding the graduates into their line so the women broke apart with a promise to meet up shortly. With less than a few minutes until the start, she felt Eric’s presence close, then a burst of love and pride. She returned the feelings through the bond as she waited. The commencement began and the graduates marched in; Sookie with Kavan walking next to her. Once the graduates were in place, the ceremony began. The students would be called by name to receive their degrees, followed by the two student speeches, and then the commencement speaker.
Sookie looked out to the audience, using Hunter’s thoughts as a guide. She was surprised to see Alcide and Potts in the audience with Gran, the rest of the immediate family, and her friends from Bon Temps. ‘When Eric does a surprise, he goes all out. That’s for sure.’
Things went well until the room was mostly quiet as they waited for the College President to adjust his microphone. That’s when the triplets started. Pammers led the group with a loud: “DAAAADDDAA!” The triplets knew Eric’s mind and they felt he was there. The Northman family was a combination of chuckling or cringing. Since Gran led the laughing, the others relaxed and joined in. Gran pulled her namesake onto her lap and had success with shushing her, but Jarl and Pammers would not stop yelling for Dada. To enable the other guests to hear the ceremony, the guards for Pammers and Jarl left the auditorium and took them into the reception area; Sooree went with them since they’d be so separate from the group.
Sookie was relieved. Though she thought it was funny, it’s not like the triplets would miss seeing the ceremony and the quiet was better. After the introduction, the names were called and Sookie proudly walked across the stage to receive her diploma. Earning a degree was something she never dared to dream about. School had been so difficult for her, that she never expected to be able to study in a classroom successfully. When she first started taking courses, she didn’t believe she’d actually fully earn her degree. While most of the general studies courses could be taken online, she knew her degree of comparative religion required several seminar classes and team projects. That meant studying with others, on a campus with many brains. Strengthened shields from Eric’s blood was the difference and she sent him a burst of gratitude as she shook hands with the college president.
In plain clothes and a baseball cap, Eric beamed as Sookie made her way across the stage. The diploma represented her dedication and he was proud of her. She worked full time, cared for six children, loved a needy husband, and was now graduating with honors.
After all the graduate names were called, it was time for the student speeches. Sookie sat quietly as the first student was called to offer his words of wisdom. It was a nicely written speech, but she could detect the boy was nervous with his delivery. Sookie was enjoying the day and the surprise, but she wished she had time to prepare a proper speech. For her, she wasn’t nervous about speaking in public; she was nervous that the speech itself would come across as something written in a car on the way over (exactly as it was).
Sookie was called to the podium next and she stood and gazed at the crowd before her. In attendance were many different people – different in a variety of ways. Then she saw her Gran, smiling with tears in her eyes and she knew what she wanted to say. It wasn’t on her note cards.
“One of my favorite hobbies is gardening. It’s something I learned from my Gran and I cherish the memories of sowing and nurturing our plants together.” She turned to face her fellow graduates and waved her hands to include all of them. “Don’t worry; I won’t be saying that we’re all seeds ready to bloom.” With a spin back to the crowd, she continued. “I am planning to compare us to a garden but in a different way – and that’s in how we are different. A field of one type of flower or plant can be beautiful. I suggest that a garden full of many different plants is more beautiful. A variation of colors, sizes, scents, and purposes offers more visual stimulus in addition to the benefits of preventing erosion, providing shade, or growing food. Like plants, all species of people are different and people within the same species are different from each other in some way. It’s up to us to accept and benefit from those differences. I challenge the graduating class of 2008 to . . . “
That’s as far as she got before Moyra stood on Frannie’s legs and shouted, “MOOOMMMYY. Dat’s MOMMY!”
“Yes Moyra, it’s Mommy.” She said from the podium, garnering chuckles from the audience. “Let me quickly offer my challenge: In addition to using your education from LSU, I ask you to find ways to benefit from the differences that exist between all of us. Like the plants in a garden share their environment and flourish, all people share the earth. We must coexist to thrive. Thank you.”
Sookie returned to her seat and the mayor was called to provide the commencement address. It was too late for Moyra though. She’d seen Sookie and wanted her. Frannie realized it was a losing battle so she stood quickly holding Moyra and headed out with a guard. Sam followed her having seen that Moyra was near tantrum level frustrated. By the time they got to the doors, Moyra was arching her back trying to get down (likely to run to Sookie on the stage).
They got to the courtyard behind the auditorium and decided to let her down to run. Frannie, Sam and the guard made a loose circle around the girl and stayed close, but she was much happier being free to run. Her giggling had Frannie laughing like it was contagious. As Moyra got bolder, Frannie or Sam needed to dart to capture the running girl and corral her back into their circle. At one point, Moyra ran toward Sam and with a loud giggle, she darted to the right to pass him. In a flash, two beings appeared in the courtyard, both heavily armed, and they grabbed Moyra. With Sam’s shifter speed, he was able to grab an ankle of one of the abductors and he flashed away with them. Frannie and the Were guard stared at the empty space for a moment before Frannie fainted and fell to the ground.
I warned you. It’s a cliffy and the chapters aren’t sugar and spice. Hang on til the next one.