A/N: Thank you for the request to write this story. It was a good break from original fiction (that muse was in hiding so it was helpful to do something else).
This is the final part – last chapter and a short epilogue rolled into one. Let me tell you – writing a four chapter story is hard. There are so many places I want to go but had to refrain. As it was, I scrambled to get this finished as it was. THEN – you knew there was a then – my PC started to randomly stop charging. It knows there’s a new one coming from Santa (that’s my guess).
Anyway, thank you for reading. This one has some emotional tissue warning (could impact some of you).
Thank you to my wonderful beta msbuffy, she had to react quickly when I finally finished this last part and I appreciate that. I’d blame my computer completely for that, but we all know . . . I added stuff at the last minute.
Valady and everyone: Have a very Merry Anything and Happy New Year.
One final thing (for fun). I got comments from California Kat. You’re probably shaking your head and wondering why I mention it. That’s a fangirl moment for me. Just sayin’.
CHAPTER 4 – I NEVER THOUGHT
IT WOULD BE LIKE THIS
Luckily for everyone involved, Sookie’s labor progressed so quickly there wasn’t time for a debate on the C-section. It helped that Ludwig did her prep work slowly and she told the on-call nurse to take her time getting to the house. Before Eric knew it, or more accurately before Sookie knew it, Eric was positioned behind Sookie in a bed, helping her push. He’d never attended the birth of any of his children so the experience was a both blessing and a curse, seeing the birth was a wonder, but watching Sookie in pain nearly killed him. As he’d promised, he healed her with blood while they waited for the little one to be bathed and checked out. Ludwig smiled as she delivered the bundle to an exhausted Sookie, “She’s small, but otherwise perfect, and now that she’s had her first bath, she’s ready for her first meal.”
Breaking Eric’s heart, Sookie turned away from the girl and adjusted her shirt while she explained, “I know we discussed the importance of breast milk with a fairy baby. I know I have no choice for the first few meals until I can pump, but for now,” she looked at Ludwig’s face and blatantly ignored the baby, “you put her on.”
“Sookie,” Eric beseeched her, “Please look at your baby.”
“I can’t Eric. I c…can’t.” Her eyes pleaded with him to let this go. “You can look at her and you can enjoy her. I kn… know you want to.”
She was right, he did want to hold the baby, coo to her, and talk to her. He hesitated and looked again at Sookie. With her nod to confirm she meant what she’d said, he took the infant from Ludwig and walked a few feet from the bed. The doctor had swaddled her so tightly he couldn’t see much, but he knew a diaper change would be needed soon. He’d wait for his chance to check her out then. For now, he smiled and welcomed her to the world. With a soft voice, he also promised to speak to her mommy about a name. When he was done with his greeting, he returned to Sookie. With Ludwig and the nanny’s guidance, they positioned her for her first meal and Eric beamed, until he felt Sookie’s sadness, “Sookie?”
“It was easier when the baby was inside,” She looked down. “I could ignore…” her voice trailed off without finishing the sentence.
He wanted to ask her again to look at the baby, and he would, but for now he’d refrain, she had just delivered a six-pound baby. “One day at a time, remember, Sookie?” Keeping her eyes on him only, she nodded while the baby nursed. When the nanny said she’d finished nursing on one side, she helped Eric position her on his shoulder for burping, then helped to get her nursing again. The baby fell asleep while eating and Eric moved her to the bassinet in the room.
Since the baby was settled for a nap, he moved to Sookie’s side and held her while she broke down. While he’d been tending to the baby, he felt Sookie’s conflicting emotions, simultaneous longing, fear, and aversion. Believing Sookie needed to process her feelings, he kept quiet and soothed her through their physical closeness. Finally, she spoke, “I don’t want to feel this way.”
“I know Sookie, I know,” he kissed her forehead. “We’ll get through this together.”
They were quiet for a few more minutes before she spoke again. “You love her,” Sookie stated matter-of-factly.
With the bond, lying was pointless. He nodded, “Since before she was born; she’s a part of you, Sookie, and you know I love you. You can feel that.”
She looked down. Eric didn’t hide his emotions from her as Niall predicted he would. Eric’s love felt like a blanket, soft and comforting. She cared deeply for him. Those feelings had started before her abduction though it wasn’t love, not yet. She might not be ready to mother this baby, but that didn’t mean she’d hold Eric back. “I can feel your love and it helps me. Please know that while I can’t return it yet, I welcome it. Right now, you’re my best friend,” before continuing she looked up, “and I trust you and care for you. As for the baby?” She paused. “I don’t mind that you love her. Lord knows all this isn’t her fault. You can dote on her, coo, anything you want… I won’t resent it, but right now I also won’t participate.”
“I know you’re struggling. Thank you for understanding how I feel,” he caressed her cheek.
“That’s just it, I don’t understand,” he raised his eyebrows in question. “How do you… I mean, why do you love a baby? I didn’t think vampires could love a baby.”
“Of course we can! Well, not Thalia, but the capacity to love isn’t gone. Many wouldn’t love a child because they’re too twisted or have no history of children. As we discussed a few weeks ago, I had a family as a human and I loved my children. Do you remember Maxwell Lee, another vampire from Fangtasia?”
“Yes, suit and tie all the time.”
Eric chuckled, “That’s him. Anyway, he knows about the baby and he wants to meet her.” He could see her protest starting so he followed up with a quick, “When you’re up to it.”
Tears pooled in her eyes as she responded, “I don’t know when that will be, Eric. Be patient with me.”
“I will, I am, I promise,” the soft kiss on the lips was his way of committing to his words. “I do have a request though,” Sookie nodded. “Can we call her something other than ‘her’ or ‘the baby?’”
“I’m… I’m not ready yet,” Sookie wished she wanted to name the baby, but nothing in her called out to do it. She could see and sense Eric’s disappointment, but that only made her feel worse. It didn’t give her the sudden desire to name the baby. She yawned, “Right now, I want to get cleaned up and sleep. Can you take me back to our room?” Eric hadn’t slept in his bed for weeks, to Sookie, her bed was his bed.
“Sure. I’ll take care of you, and then come back for the little one,” He nodded to the nanny as he walked out and she confirmed she’d stay with the baby. Once in their room, he helped Sookie clean up from the birth and settled her into bed. He rested with her until he knew she was asleep then he was out the door like a bullet, heading to the delivery room. There, he found the other ladies of the house cooing over the bassinet. In a whisper he asked, “Is she awake?”
Indira put her head up, “Not yet, Your Majesty, but she’s stirring.” Then her smile took over her face, and she added, “She’s so cute! Do we have a name?”
Eric’s joy at seeing the enthusiasm for the little one dimmed as soon as Indira asked about the name, “Not yet, ladies. I’m thinking I’ll call her Button for now.” Since the others popped their heads up when he said she had no name, he explained that Sookie wasn’t ready to name her, and they were not to push her. The group was saddened by the news that Sookie hadn’t immediately bonded with the baby, but Button gave them some immediate comic relief. She filled her diaper.
The nanny, Carrie, giggled over her shoulder, “King Northman, I believe you were looking for an opportunity to change Button. Now’s your chance.”
He looked around and shook his head, “I suppose I’ll have an audience?” Knowing Eric hadn’t had private time with the baby yet, everyone but Carrie left. “You’re staying to help?”
“I’m pretty sure that’s meconium. That can be hard to deal with, though not smelly.”
With Carrie’s help, he got the baby cleaned and changed, including checking her over like he’d wanted earlier. Eric thought she was perfect. When he was done, she wasn’t crying or looking too sleepy, so Carrie suggested, “Why don’t you take her to the nursery and show her around? You can hear Sookie that way and be close enough in case little Miss here starts to get hungry.”
He went to the suite and when he saw that Sookie was still asleep, he decided to enjoy the baby. Picking her up to his face and whispering, he spoke, “Hi, Button. Mommy’s sleeping so we’re checking out your nursery. Mommy hasn’t seen it yet, but she will soon.” When he put his finger into her tiny hand and she clasped it, his dead heart melted. “Mommy isn’t ready for all this yet, but she will be.” With a look of longing, his head turned to the door where Sookie slept. ‘She has to be ready soon, I hope.’
His gaze came back to the baby and he told her, “Until then, it’s you and me, Button, and we’ll start with a tour of your room.” He angled her so she could ‘see’ the corner of the room where a large tree had been painted over the soft green walls. “This is Yggdrasil, the tree of life. It was very important to my people, so I will be sure to teach you about it.” He turned in the room with her. It had been supplied with linens, diaper goods, and some bright newborn toys, but otherwise was undecorated. “I left the artwork and other decorations for your mother to choose,” with a smile like he’d had an epiphany, he added, “Maybe we’ll all go shopping.” She shifted in his arms and waved a hand. His smile brightened. “You like that idea, huh?” Before he could enjoy that reaction to his talking, her face screwed up and almost as if it was slow motion, she started screeching! “Okay, okay, you’re hungry, I guess,” with a finger in her mouth to quiet the cries, he added, “At least I hope so.”
Getting her latched onto Sookie without waking her felt like a triumph, but the victory was short-lived. Sookie felt the baby and woke. Instead of looking down, since Eric had latched Button on while Sookie rested on her side, she turned to Eric, “Hi.”
“Did I sleep long?”
He shrugged awkwardly from the position he was in, holding the infant, “Maybe two hours. She had a dirty diaper that awoke her.”
Ignoring any mention of the baby, Sookie asked, “Can you get takeout from that Italian place I like on Derberry Street?”
The request was like a blow to Eric, and he had to dull his side of the bond so she wouldn’t feel his anger. Nothing, nothing about the baby? How could she possibly ignore a child attached to her breast? He decided to speak with the counselor directly about the situation. Understanding that she didn’t want to fawn over the child was one thing, but ignoring her altogether was another, and Eric was concerned.
The concern only grew over the next few weeks. The demon counselor told Eric be more patient in his expectations of Sookie. He countered that they were missing opportunities for the baby and mother to bond, and he wanted Marina to get more aggressive with her therapy. While the demon insisted the baby didn’t realize that Sookie was missing from her life, Eric believed she was wrong. Button would turn her head in Sookie’s direction all the time. Now it was happening when Sookie was out of sight. With the baby being over half-fairy, he wasn’t sure if she had some power than enabled her to track Sookie, but, even without a power, he knew Button yearned for her mother. Because he bonded to Sookie while she was pregnant, he had a faint blood connection to the baby, and he felt it from both of them. Further troubling him, Sookie began pumping breast milk, so while they had an ample supply for food, Button was missing out on the one connection she did have to her mother.
Eric stepped in as much as he could and enjoyed having the infant with him as often as possible. To extend his time with Button, he often did his work from an office in the house (Button would never enter the Kingdom offices as far as he was concerned). Happily, the newborn slept on Eric’s chest while he read reports from his Sheriffs, worked on Kingdom budgets, and participated on conference calls (the call attendees were those he trusted with knowing he had the baby as she wasn’t always quiet). In between specific work tasks, he would often connect with Button through talk, touch, and sight. He loved that if she was upset, a word or touch from him would calm her. He was a pro at diapering, sleeper snaps, and swaddling. What he still couldn’t do was get Sookie to bond with the baby, and it killed him. Nothing could replace the time needed to heal Sookie though.
Sookie knew Eric was concerned about her less-than-welcoming reaction to the baby, but she felt he couldn’t understand. “How could I let myself love that little one knowing…” She stopped her thoughts right away. Thinking about Preston’s threats only caused panic attacks. She hadn’t had one since before the baby was born and she didn’t want to take a step back now.
Besides, if anything was going to cause a panic attack, Eric’s planned Christmas Ball would do it. As his presence was required (it was his Kingdom), she would be alone for almost six hours that night. Well, not alone, but without Eric was the same thing to Sookie. Carrie was a wonderful caretaker and nanny, but she wasn’t Eric. The woman had just started dating a new man and in the past, Sookie would have latched onto that topic, trying to pry details from a girlfriend. Not now, not with Carrie. The truth was she didn’t want anyone but Eric, so she didn’t try to forge anything but surface relationships with the other women in the house. She giggled to herself, and recognized her progress that she could now giggle. Eric lived with three women in addition to herself, Indira, Carrie, and Marina. Ludwig moved out after the birth although she visited twice a week. Sookie thought that was just so she could laugh at Eric in baby mode, and that caused another giggle to bubble out.
“What’s so funny, Sookie?” Eric leaned out of the bathroom wearing a towel tied at his waist. He was happy to hear her laughing out loud. Her recovery was progressing.
“Thinking about how Ludwig likes to see you with the baby.”
Eric kept his happy reaction at her words to himself, but Sookie had matter-of-factly mentioned the baby without having the associated rush of pain. To maintain her calm feelings, he kept the conversation light, “She does enjoy it. I caught her photographing me at her last visit. I better not find them on the Internet.”
Sookie smiled, “More likely she’ll save it as leverage for something.”
“That would be her style,” not worried about dressing in front of Sookie, Eric had been prepping for his night out while they spoke. Somewhere during doctor’s appointments, sleeping together and actually sleeping, Button’s birth, and breastfeeding, they’d lost the need for modesty with each other, not that Eric ever considered himself modest. Their closeness wasn’t sexual, it was intimate, trusting, and loving. He turned after his shirt was on and asked, “Bow tie or long tie?”
“Long. I like the more modern look,” Sookie smiled at him, but he felt her worry and sadness. “You look very handsome.”
“Thank you. Don’t be sad though, next year, you’ll be with me.”
“I’m not sad because you’re going without me, I hate that you’re going at all,” she pushed her palms against her eyes in frustration. “That’s wrong, I know it! I have no right to need you to stay on the property with us all the time. You have a life and I… I keep you stuck here because I can’t cope without you.”
Her emotions were a combination of sadness and anger, and he hated it, “Hey. I like being needed. I love you and would stay home with you every minute if I could.” She scoffed and waved her hand. “What does that mean?”
“Eric, I moved in and became your life. It’s not fair to you. You drink bagged blood, and you don’t, ah, do any of the other activities you would normally do with a donor,” he started to speak, but Sookie held up her hand. “People talk, Eric, I’ve had your blood and can hear more than folks expect.” She took a deep breath, “Anyway, I’m an anchor.”
“STOP!” His words were more forceful than he intended, thankfully, she didn’t flinch. He stopped with tying his shoes and moved to sit with her on the bed. “Sookie, did you or did you not deny Bill’s claim on you at the orgy we attended?” He paused, then added, “That sounded more interesting than it was, but my point is, you weren’t Bill’s.”
Her brows drew together, giving her an adorably confused look, “Correct. He’d been behaving like an ass.”
“Because of that, we decided to see each other, give us a chance. We talked about it on the way home,” his eyes sparkled. “In fact, we kissed over it.”
She blushed, remembering the heated kisses, “We did. Then Mab’s program happened. I don’t know where you’re going with this.”
“Since then, I’ve been searching for you, Sookie! What I’m telling you is, you aren’t an anchor, you aren’t here to repay a debt, I want you here, always,” he pointed to the bed at the end of his comments, and she knew he meant with him, not the bed specifically.
Still doubting him, she asked, “What if I never recover from all this? What if I’m never comfortable sexually?”
Taking her face in his hands, he responded, “Then we’ll be best friends forever, friends with snuggling benefits.”
She burst out laughing, knowing he wasn’t kidding. Eric loved to snuggle. “Okay, I get it. I can’t live without you, and I can tell you aren’t lying to me. If that ever changes, you tell me. Okay?”
“I will,” He went back to his shoes and finished up so he could get to his limo. Before giving her a final kiss, he reminded her about the staff remaining at the house, “Carrie and Marina are here with two guards patrolling. If the house is closed up, fairies cannot get in. You’re safe.”
“Logically I know that. I won’t relax until you’re back though.”
“I know. I’ll send you love from Shreveport,” he leaned in to give her a goodbye kiss. “Oh, and Pam is coming home with me.”
“Good. I always enjoy a visit from Pam.”
He smirked over his shoulder, thinking that this visit might not be great. Pam had been shopping for Button and the closet was going to be filled. Reminding Sookie of the baby would probably have a bad outcome, but he wasn’t going to stop Pam either.
He stopped quickly in the nursery to kiss Button on his way out, but refrained from holding her. The serum from Niall covered the fairy scent, but not the ‘baby’ scent, and only a few in his Kingdom knew about the little one. It broke his heart because she was reaching for him as he left, and he wished he hadn’t stopped in the nursery. Reluctantly, he got into the limo with Thalia and Indira, and headed to the hotel for the ball.
A few hours after Eric left, Sookie was reading in her room when she heard Carrie speaking to the baby. The Were did this all the time, believing Sookie couldn’t hear, but with Eric’s blood the chatter was loud and clear. Tonight, the topic was Eric and how much he loved his baby girl. Sookie knew there had been talk about how Eric was the Daddy, but he’d purposely told the women to stop using that term. Until Sookie accepted the baby and honored him with the title, he would not say it aloud. That saddened Sookie because she knew Eric wanted to be the Daddy, not a caretaker.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the doorbell. Carrie peeked her head in from the nursery and announced, “That’s my boyfriend. I left my phone at his house this morning, and he’s just dropping it off,” seeing Sookie’s concerned look, she added, “He’s not coming in, don’t worry.”
“Okay then. Besides, you told me he’s another Were, so I can’t be too concerned.”
Carrie nodded, told her the baby had fallen asleep, and she’d be back right away. Sookie returned to her book and only a moment later, she heard a voice she’d never wanted to hear again.
“Where’s my baby, Sookie?” Preston asked in a sing-song voice as he ascended the stairs. “I’m here to take her,” he paused as he made his way down the hall, “and you back to Fairy. Now that you’ve given birth, you’ll be wanted for the program again.”
Sookie’s worst nightmare had come true! He was back! She sent panic through the bond and thought quickly on her next steps. She listened for Carrie in the house though she couldn’t hear Were thoughts completely, she could tell Carrie was unconscious. Marina was in the house, and Sookie could hear her running from the kitchen to help. The demon counselor could throw fireballs, but that wasn’t safe in the house. Sookie was at a loss for how to get out of this mess. Her gaze turned to her closet door. In the back, there was a panic room and she only needed to get to that. Since Preston wasn’t in the room yet, she could probably make it herself, leaving the baby vulnerable. Sookie knew that wasn’t acceptable. In that moment, she knew her desire to keep the baby out of her heart had failed. Fear of Preston’s return was the exact reason she had chosen not to love the baby. Ironically, it was now the exact reason she knew that she did love her.
As quietly as possible, she tiptoed to the nursery, grabbed her infant, and made a dash for the panic room. She didn’t make it. Preston grabbed her by the hair and started pulling backward, her feet scrambling to stop him while her arms were bound tightly around the baby, “PRESTON! Eric will find and kill you. Let us go!”
His grip only tightened as he tried to pull her back, “I heard Niall hid you with a vampire. Are you letting him feed from my child?”
Preston was making headway on getting Sookie to the door and while she could feel Eric coming closer, she didn’t know how close. If they made it to within a few feet of the open front door, he would teleport with both of them. At that moment, Marina entered the room and tried to fight off the fairy. Marina was thrown against the wall and knocked out, but her fight gave Sookie a few precious seconds to make it to the closet. There, she reached for the door to the panic room, but not before Preston caught her again. He grabbed the end of the long shirt she was wearing, and she was able to get away for a second, but not long enough to get to the panic room.
Sookie knew she had to protect the baby, Button, yes, she knew the nickname, had to stay on Earth with Eric, even if she died trying.
The baby wasn’t going to like it, but she opened the nearest deep draw and shut her in. Then she grabbed a shoe off her rack, turned it with the stiletto heel facing out, thank you for the never worn spiked heels, Pam, and struck! Preston reared back from the blow and shook his head, but lunged at Sookie again.
This time he grabbed her throat and tried to choke her, but with the heel still in hand she lowered her weapon into his back over and over again. The Fairy was persistent though and after giving a good fight, Sookie blacked out.
She woke in bed, cradled by Eric. At first her eyes were wildly looking around for a threat, but she calmed quickly. Her second reaction had Eric bursting with joy, “Where’s my baby?”
Button was sleeping next to Eric, and he handed her to a crying Sookie quickly. “I’m so sorry, baby, so sorry. Are you hurt?” Sookie continued to cry, talk to, and rock the baby until she started rooting for a breast.
Eric was overjoyed! “Guess she didn’t forget about nursing. I was afraid after we switched to bottles,” he leaned over to help the baby attach, and then wrapped his arms around both of them.
The only noises came from a grunting baby as she nursed. Sookie took the time to stare at her baby for the first time. Tears fell as she watched her eat, the baby raising her arm trying to touch Sookie’s face. After the infant was burped and switched to the other side, Sookie finally spoke again, “He’s dead? He can’t take her, right?”
“He can’t take her and he will be dead shortly. I wanted to stay with you for now.”
“So I can love her and not lo…lose her?” Sookie was still scared, he realized. Her voice had a childlike quality to it as she asked.
“That was your fear? That you’d love her and lose her?”
She sniffled and nodded, “For the entire pregnancy, I was told the baby wasn’t mine. ‘Don’t bother to love her. You won’t be allowed to see her.’ You know, things like that. It was drilled into me, Eric. I was afraid to love her.” Her head dropped and she added, “I was afraid to love you, too. I thought I would be taken back.”
He smiled and chose to focus on Sookie’s revelation about the baby. That was most important. “But you do love her?” He nodded to the closet. “You fought for her.”
She nodded and more tears fell, “I felt it the moment I realized she was my baby, not his. I knew I had to save her, protect her. I knew that if I died, she would need to stay with you. If distracting him gave you the time to arrive, then that’s what I had to do.” She turned her head suddenly when she realized something. “Carrie said she was dating a Were! Preston can shift like that, scent and everything. He planned this!”
Eric nodded, “Yes, he tried to shift when I got here, but I put him in iron cuffs. That stopped him.”
“This whole thing was scary, but part of me is glad it’s over. He’ll never hurt us again,” She gazed lovingly at the baby and sighed. “I never knew it could feel like this.”
With her hand cupping the top of the baby’s head, she asked the infant seriously, “Can you forgive your Mommy for being scared? Will you let me love you?”
The baby grunted again and Eric interpreted, “That grunt means yes, in case you didn’t know.”
Sookie looked over her shoulder at Eric, “I didn’t know. You’ll have to teach me everything.” She gave him a peck on the lips.
He added his hand to Sookie’s at the top of the baby’s head, “We’ll both teach you.” Then he leaned his head around so the baby could see him, “Won’t we, Button?”
“I do like that nickname, but I think it’s time she had her real name.”
“Do you know what name you want?” Sookie nodded. “Gonna tell me?”
“Abigail. It means…”
“Father’s joy…” If his heart could beat, it would be stopped right now. He’d considered himself to be Button’s, rather, Abigail’s father, but Sookie never agreed to marriage and never made him an offering of co-parenting. He was going to need to ask, “Why did you select that name?”
She gave him a beatific smile, “Because she is your joy. Also, with the pledge, we’ll be married.” If possible, Eric’s smile grew at this news.
“You’re sure? I mean, the pledging and the baby?”
“Yep. I love you, you’re my best friend,” Sookie shuffled to rest Abigail on her lap while the baby’s eyes continued to explore her Mommy’s face. “As far as the baby, well, Eric, you are her Daddy.” She looked at him with hesitation, “You want that, don’t you?”
“I want all of it, Sookie. Forever.”
They sat in silence while Abigail drifted off to sleep in Sookie’s arms. Eric knew Sookie wasn’t completely healed, but today was a huge breakthrough and he remained silent while enjoying the feelings of relief and love coming from Sookie. Eventually, Sookie started to nod her head as well so he repositioned them on the bed, the baby sleeping between them as she should have been from the start. Sookie was right, feeling her panic, leaving the Ball without explanation, arriving and seeing Preston trying to kill Sookie, the entire thing was scary. The outcome though? He knew they’d make it. Sookie would make it.
A week later, Christmas Eve afternoon, Sookie and Eric came in from the limo, their arms laden with shopping bags, treats, and in Eric’s case, a baby carrier. The day after the Preston incident, Sookie woke with an urgent need to decorate a nursery and Christmas shop. They’d been out every day since then for ‘just one more thing.’ Seeing her excitement was Eric’s Christmas gift, and he told her that often. She still found things to buy him from Abigail and most of them related to him being a Daddy.
Once their bags were down, and Abigail was sitting with Sookie near the tree, Eric announced a special Christmas surprise for Sookie.
“It’s guests, right? I mean, I noticed the dining table was set for three extra.” She’d seen it as soon as they walked by.
He smirked, “Yes. They are arriving now. Is my princess almost done feeding?”
“She’s been on for awhile, so I would say yes,” Sookie answered Eric first, then realized what he’d said. If the guests were arriving now, they weren’t vampires. Her original guess of Pam, Karin, and someone else from Vegas was wrong. The sun was still out.
“It will be a few minutes until they park and unload.”
“I’m very excited.”
“I can feel that.” He watched as Sookie moved Abigail to her shoulder for a burp, and then pulled her back. “Hopefully she’ll stay awake for a few minutes. She’s looking around now.”
“She loves the tree.”
Eric knelt to the baby’s level so he could speak directly to her, “You do, don’t you, Button?” He gave her a wide grin and she gave him the reaction he wanted, a squeal. Squealing had started two days before and he tried to get that reaction from her whenever she was awake. This time, she added a swinging arm to her response, and Sookie and Eric gave each other goofy grins.
The doorbell took them out of their fawning and Eric moved to answer it. Sookie cried out when she saw the three walk in. Hoyt had Arlene’s kids with him. “HOW!?”
Eric smiled at her excitement, “I still cannot find Tara, but with further investigating I discovered that Hoyt took in Arlene’s children when she was jailed. I heard you talking about them to Carrie one night, did some digging, and here they are.”
Coby and Lisa ran to Sookie calling for their Aunt. She handed Abigail to Eric and took them in an embrace, “You got so big! How are you? What grades are you in? Where are you living?”
Lisa answered, “Give us a second, Aunt Sookie.”
Sookie gave a tearful laugh, “Okay. Settle in first.” They hugged for another moment then Sookie grabbed Hoyt.
Eric explained, “Hoyt knows what’s happened. He wanted to see you.”
“Thank you, Eric. This was a great surprise!” She moved to stand beside him, “Everyone, this is Eric Northman and he’s holding our daughter, Abigail.” She waved her arm in a come here motion, “Come on, meet my family.”
Four years later…
Eric was woken in the best of ways. Sookie was naked on top of him, showing all her glorious six-month baby bulge, “Wake up, my husband, I want you.”
He responded immediately and banded his arms around her waist, “What time is it?”
She gave him a naughty smile, “Early enough for a quickie before Button wakes up, if you get moving.” She changed to a pout. “You had to work late last night, you know how horny I am with this pregnancy. I had to go to bed,” she put a hand to her brow showing her hardship, “Unsatisfied.”
He chuckled at her theatrics, “Well, let me make that up to you. I can’t have my wife walking around telling people she’s unsatisfied.” He leaned in and went for a nipple, and had Sookie bucking right away.
Before they went any further, he heard a voice from the other bedroom, “Daaaadddyy, Moooommmy!”
Sookie whimpered and he laughed at her. He was already pulling away since Abigail only needed to run through the nursery to make it to their room. Before Sookie could finish with her nightshirt, Abigail was jumping on the bed, “GOOD MORNING, Mommy and Daddy!”
You’d never guess Eric had missed out on sex from his reaction. He grabbed her and started hugging her as though it had been years since he last saw her, “Good morning, Button!”
Sookie knew Eric loved her, she knew he loved sex, but Abigail was a bright spot in his day and she held no resentment over their special bond. Instead she rubbed her tummy, and thought about the boy they would have in about three months. Likely, she guessed, he would have the same bond as Abigail with Eric since they continued to share blood while she was pregnant. Baby Jason was going to be loved and spoiled like his older sister, no doubt. Sookie shook her head to get going on the day, though silently she counted the hours until Abigail needed a nap. Her husband better prepare to be attacked!
While they were finishing breakfast, Eric received a call on his cell to open the house door. Niall was on his way. He froze. In all the years they’d been together, he knew in the back of his mind that Niall would come and tell Sookie the threat was over. He could feel her love for him, they’d been married for three years now, she was expecting their second child, and yet a pang of concern still rose within him.
“What’s wrong?” Sookie had felt everything right away. “What was that call?”
Eric was already standing to open the door when he answered, “Your great-grandfather is here.”
She wasn’t seeing the problem. “Oookay, why are you upset?” She asked as she followed him with Abigail trailing behind.
He turned from the door with a pained look, “If he’s here, the threat is over.” She nodded and offered a ‘duh’ look. “You don’t need to stay here for protection.”
The ‘AHA’ popped into her head. She wanted to clear it up immediately, “No, we’ll stay because we are your family.”
His face visibly relaxed, “I was pretty sure that would be your answer, but…”
“You thought I’d see him,” she pointed to the regal fairy in the doorway, “and want to leave?”
“Something like that.”
She moved to stand with Eric as he grabbed his Button. “Niall,” she started. “Come in, we were just finishing breakfast. Would you care to join us?”
“That would be lovely,” he pointed to her stomach, “I see marriage and children agree with you so much, you wanted more.”
“It took awhile. Button and Eric were patient with me, but I came around. Marina stayed with us for a year. We still talk on the phone sometimes. Carrie is still with us.”
“I’ve been peeking, I know. Finished your degree, too. What will you do with that?”
“I run the charitable arm of Eric’s corporation. It gets me out of the house part-time, the rest I can do here, so it’s a good balance for a working mother.”
They sat at the table and she laughed when Niall went for a Danish. He loved sweets as did Abigail with her fairy genes. They chit-chatted about the kids and their lives, and Niall gave a summary of the fighting in Fairy. After the breakfast had been cleared, Sookie asked Indira and Carrie to play with Abigail for a little while. She wanted to talk to Niall without the child around.
“I’m glad your war is over.”
“It’s a relief,” he turned to Eric. “I heard about Preston, though the situation had been handled before I knew he had left Fairy.”
Eric beamed at his wife with pride, “Sookie fought him off.”
Niall smiled at her, “I’m glad. Anyone that knew you before your time in Fairy knew you had spunk. Looks like it’s back.”
Eric laughed, “She gives me grief all the time.” She mocked being affronted and he smiled. “I love it.”
“Good, good,” he flattened his hands on his legs and took a breath. “So, now that the threat is over, your debt to me is paid in full, Viking.” Eric nodded and Niall turned to Sookie. “Will you be staying with your vampire?”
“Forever, Niall. We’ve decided to have a few more kids, and then I’ll be turned.”
“That’s as it should be. How many?”
Eric and Sookie answered at once. He said six while Sookie said four. Eric raised his brow at her and she set him straight, “When you’re the one pushing them out, we’ll have six.”
He looked at Niall and shrugged, “Hard to argue with that.”
Niall laughed at their discussion as he pulled a box from his coat pocket and spoke to Sookie, “I guessed that your turning was the plan, so I prepared these.” He opened the box and inside Sookie saw about a dozen sunshine rings.
“For you and your children. At some point, you might need to start sharing, but that’s better than no sun at all.”
“It is, Niall, thank you.”
“I’ve got to get back. Things are still adjusting from the civil war.” Eric left to get Abigail so she could say goodbye to her Great-great-grandfather.
With Abigail back they started the goodbyes, and he gave Sookie a hug, “You be happy, Great-Granddaughter.”
She stood wrapped around Eric while he held Abigail. With a bright smile, she offered, “We are, Niall, we are.”