Sookie was under the covers with me, tangling her legs with mine, clinging to me. She’d been with me for so long, half of my body had absorbed her heat.
It was nearly impossible to listen for other signs of life in the house beyond the thrumming of Sookie’s heart, but I was almost sure Hope was the only other living soul in the house.
I was torn between waking her (for my own selfish reasons) and letting her rest (because I was sure she needed to with the schedule she’d been keeping), but she began to stir on her own accord.
She breathed, “This is beautiful.”
“The peace. The quiet. The amazingness of your mind right now… the idea of heaven is based on the thoughts of a content Vampire.”
I chuckled quietly, “Are you awake or do you mumble hyperbole in your sleep?”
She yawned, contracting her arm and leg over me. “I commit random acts of hyperbole all the time, but that wasn’t an exaggeration. Right now, your mind is… ever just float on your back while you were swimming and bask in the sun?”
She snickered. “But you know that peaceful timelessness, that brightness lighting your eyelids, that feeling of weightlessness that leaves you a little out of sorts when you finally put your feet under yourself… That’s what your mind is like right now, even though you should be quite ashamed of yourself.”
“What have I done now?”
She snickered again. “Do you want to hear about the international stink you caused by marrying a best-selling author, or the simultaneous ovary explosion you caused earlier?”
All I could do was chuckle. I would have laughed if I wanted to wake Hope or Gawain. “How did I cause an ovary explosion?”
“I woke up to Hadley griping at the light blocking curtain because she went to use this bathroom. Gawain was in the hall bathroom showering. When she made it into the room, boom. Her ovaries exploded at the sight of the sexy man sleeping under a mountain of kids. Misty was snuggled against your side with Hope. I couldn’t help it. Mine exploded too… I’d been warned about how kids make you sexier, but something happened to my knees too. Gawain took pictures and I already saved one to my phone as wallpaper.”
“It wasn’t as though I was given a choice. The Legion followed me to bed. Lindy and Jenny weren’t even awake when they staggered into the room.”
“Doesn’t matter. Killer sexy, that’s you. I think it’s worse that it was accidental… Anyway, I had to ignore Hadley’s green-eyed monster while I tended to Hope and made breakfast. Hope got really fussy and I wasn’t getting any clues as to why, so I brought her back here… She was calming down until I put her in the hammock and she fired up again. So since I heard about Magnusson, I laid her on the bed and moved your hand to her back. Instantly calm. When I got back to the kitchen, all I said was ‘Eric’s got her’ and boom. The remains of Hadley’s ovaries exploded.”
“I can’t begin to try to understand that. At least you know you’re guilty of hyperbole. We can try to find help for the problem.”
She snickered and whispered, “Boom… Deadly, yet cuddly.”
“You expect me to believe Hadley was thinking along those lines?”
“I made sure to mention Sweden was your fatherland… just in case she gets a wild hair and tries to find another you. Let her spread gonoherpasyphilaids in another empire.”
I chuckled, “Did you have another ‘bitch, that’s my man’ moment, Sookie?”
“Nope. I had about a hundred in the hour it took to get her out of the house. She started hoping you’d wake up before she left. She must’ve ‘dropped’ a million things hoping the noise would wake you up. Gawain was dying. Seriously. He was laughing so hard it’s a good thing y’all don’t breathe… She pouted for the whole drive to Vivian and thought about how nice you’ve been to her and what a flirt you are.”
“I have not flirted with her.”
She teased, “Oh, yes you have. You’ve been making eyes at her since you met her… and licking your lips… and she thinks you wanted her to see you naked on the sofa the other night.”
She giggled, “She either thinks you’re lazy or if she prefers being on top…”
“If you continue, you could cause irreparable damage to my cock… After watching Jaws last night, it’s too easy to imagine her cunt with row after row of razor-shar-”
Sookie covered my mouth and moved her head to stifle her laugh in my armpit.
It would have taken much more than Hadley to completely disgust me.
“Your little plan backfired.”
She nodded and hissed, “Yeah, it did.”
“Are you done picturing it?”
“No… it’s horrible.”
I chuckled, “Maybe a shark isn’t fitting… Have you seen Star Wars? There was a pit lined with spikes…”
She pinched me and laughed, “The Great Pit of Carkoon… the Sarlacc.”
“That’s the one… When I watched the movie, I came to the conclusion George Lucas had an unsettling anal experience…”
She wailed, “Stooooooooop!”
I watched, waiting for her to compose herself… She wasn’t the only one who enjoyed happy company. Her mood was phenomenal and the only reason I didn’t continue was because I didn’t want her to laugh hard enough to leave me for the bathroom.
When she calmed down, I pulled her leg over and positioned her to lie on top of me…
My new view was much better than imagining being ridden by her whore cousin.
I smoothed her hair and offered, “Whatever you did to cause such a good mood… you should do it more often.”
“Maybe it just helps to have Hadley out of the house. I took her home and stopped to grab ‘po boys’ for Miles and me on the way home. After lunch, I did some housework and I’ve been in bed with you ever since. I tried to get some writing done, but I ended up Googling us to see how bad the gossip is…”
“Did you leave without Miles?”
She narrowed her eyes and answered, “You bet your ass I did. I wasn’t going to leave y’all unprotected, not with the media being all over the fact that you’re in Louisiana. I only made two stops and kept my shields down the whole time.”
I growled, “If you’re going to be stubborn, then we’ll travel with two guards next time.”
“I had a feeling you were going to say that.”
“Are you going to argue about it?”
She raised her eyebrow and smirked. “I can’t really get away with arguing when we have the same reasons to want one another guarded.”
“Any ideas of who we should bring?”
“Ummm… Not Bastiaan unless we invite him to bring his kids along. That would be mean.”
I chuckled, “You want to ask him first, don’t you?”
Her eyes twinkled when she grinned. “Maybe… send them to Orlando a day or two in advance.”
“Are you trying to make me more popular with the staff?”
“Yes, but I think it’ll just be a fun bonus for him.”
“I imagine you’ll be discussing the tentative plans with him once we’ve returned to Eijsden… What about this ‘international stink’ I supposedly caused?”
She giggled, feeling excited and victorious, as she started, “The press researched you and decided our pendants are the Vampire equivalent of wedding rings. You’re the badass who seized an Empire from one of the badassest Vampire Kings ever…”
“He was not. The only reason anyone left him alone was because he was volatile. Clovis, he’s the one no one fucks with. He’s actually been ‘badass’ since he was alive. Marcos and Dmitri are almost as notorious… The first time I worked for Halfdan, I didn’t know better, and the second time I was helping friends find the traitors who had a hand in ending their Maker. Halfdan wasn’t a badass. No. His delusions of grandeur went unchecked, if not enflamed, for centuries. In my personal opinion, his child was his one achievement and unfortunately she was caught in the fray. It doesn’t matter. She was on his list of chores he couldn’t be bothered to carry out on his own. As apathetic as I am about my throne, my peers weren’t disappointed to hear I’d taken power. The only one bothered was Clovis and he’s justified since it seemed as though I was a sleeper of sorts. No. I didn’t end a ‘badass’. I put an end to a pompous impulsive stooge.”
She snickered, “Are you finished ranting now?”
I didn’t really realize I was until she mentioned it. “No promises. What were we talking about beforehand?”
She closed her eyes and chuckled, “The international stink.”
“At least you remember… Try to focus.”
“Riiiiight. So… basically the Human press is spewing what Vampires have known all along. Eric Northman is a lot of things, but a pussy isn’t one of those things… And… I was as sweet as ever at the signing and the book is a gem and the fans are ecstatic and they’re still talking about a movie deal which means some peckerhead at the studio is leaking information… segueing again… The international stink… Well, Allecks was approached at work, which we expected. Even when the last book came out they cornered him for info. He gave them stock answers, but then he got slapped in the face with questions about ‘our wedding’.”
“Did he put his foot in his mouth?”
“No. He left several messages on my voicemail with the most poorly faked composure ever. ‘We need to talk’ over and over… I haven’t returned his calls yet. Call me childish, but he should know better.”
“You wouldn’t marry me?”
She rolled her eyes. “I meant that he should know better than to think I’d let him get blindsided by news like that. He doesn’t have the excuse to be so gullible. He was convinced the Revelation was an irresponsible attempt to drum up publicity for a movie, but he’ll believe anything about me… Speaking of publicity…”
She shifted, moving to leave me, so I held her still. “Where are you going?”
She whispered, “I’m going to settle my best friend’s worries. We haven’t had the chance to talk yet so she’s still very concerned about what’s going on.”
“She’ll know I can hear her.”
“I’m the one that needs to do the talking.”
“Fair enough… I’ll let you go if you answer a question.”
“Is this like a ‘grumpy troll, making me solve a riddle before I can cross his bridge’ question or a ‘curious boyfriend’ question?”
I narrowed my eyes and growled, “Curious boyfriend.”
She made a pouty face and cooed, “Here I thought I was going to see you speak in rhyme and do a little dance… Oh well, go ahead and ask.”
She giggled when I scowled at her. “Why did you and the turnip part ways?”
“Because his mother is a hateful cow… Apparently fat, hypocritical, colorblind house-frau are the only people that can be trusted. She doesn’t like anyone who doesn’t kiss her fat ass. Even Hoyt called her Krampus.”
I chuckled, “Krampus?”
“Yeah… Maxine could even ruin Christmas. In some of the Saint Nick stories Santa travels with Krampus. Krampus is the switch and coal bearer for the little shits. Austria, if I remember correctly.”
“I know who Krampus is… I’m just surprised you do.”
“I had a ‘Christmas around the World’ project in middle school. My teacher thought she was being progressive, but I was sent back to redo my project when I chose to debunk Christmas.”
I snorted, “How did you do that?”
“Between the fact that only a third of the world’s population is Christian, and that Jesus’s birthday was conveniently moved to absorb the winter Pagan celebrations, it wasn’t that hard… Calvin was trying to help me think of a topic for my project and one thing after another, I knew the other kids would have jumped on it. Besides, it doesn’t really matter what they picked because most of it was borrowed by other religions anyway. That year Chanukah didn’t overlap Christmas at all, so my poster board showed pictures of unlit houses and families eating normal dinners. My Krampus project included a bundle of ruten for the nasty bitch.”
I chuckled, “And when the girls are recalcitrant…?”
She finished, “They don’t need to be encouraged. God… Look how I turned out.”
“I like how you turned out.”
She cooed and stretched up to kiss me. “Thank you… Are you gonna set me loose now?”
I tightened my arms over her back and shook my head. “I wasn’t asking about Hoyt. After seeing him dance, I believed you broke up with him for being a clumsy oaf… I meant JB.”
She was blushing before her head crashed to my chest. “You don’t want to know about that.”
“I want to know now more than I did when I asked.”
She growled, “You would… Fine… JB’s mom flipped out when she walked in and found me in bed with her son and the room reeked of pot. She put me in her car and drove me home and told Calvin I was a bad influence on him. Nevermind I got my pot from the same guy she did, but whatever.”
“How old were you?”
“Seventeen… and I was mortified. She wasn’t supposed to be home for hours, so we weren’t exactly being sneaky. She… saw… everything.”
“I don’t imagine Calvin was happy to hear about that.”
She shook her head. “As soon as she drove away, he laid into me for playing Russian Roulette with my future because he knew JB was too stupid to work a condom… I got grounded for a month and part of my punishment was cleaning houses for select underachievers in the pack.”
“He didn’t mind you were high and having sex… His problem was that you could give birth to fool-spawn.”
“And get stuck in a trailer park when I’d been an honor roll student for years… When I told him I met someone in Bern, the first thing he asked was if Allecks was smart enough for me… and then he had me put Allecks on because he didn’t believe me when I told him he was a doctor.”
And the added windfall of getting extra answers… I’d thought I was going to have to try to nonchalantly work Allecks’s profession into conversation somehow.
“He was already a doctor when you dated him at 19?”
Sookie cringed. “Yeah… bit of an age difference… but he was in his internship when his parents found out he ditched law school for pediatrics. They stopped payment on his tuition and sent him a bill… repaying his parents was why we were so broke. Their payments were steeper than our rent. I still can’t figure out why the hell it was a bad thing to have a doctor in the family. They insisted he go to law school, while maintaining he’d inherit the hotel…”
I offered, “Politics. Lawyers become Justices. Justices join the Assembly… Private and commercial property ties him to a community and that wins elections…”
She gasped, “Those assholes! Allecks loved being a doctor. He was proud of himself. He was proud of his book too, but they shit on that…”
“And now his parents have reduced him to being a concierge… Why doesn’t he just sell the hotel?”
“Because he doesn’t want to take the choice away from Lindy. If he doesn’t manage the hotel until she’s 20, the estate, including the family home and hotel, are liquidated and the proceeds are donated to undisclosed beneficiaries. The fucking executor is a Daemon too, so I don’t get anything from him.”
“Does Lindy want it?”
“What the hell does she know? When I was her age, I wanted to live on the moon… The bigger issue is that Allecks doesn’t want to walk away and outlive me. The girls would inherit the Notorious ‘fortune’.”
Allecks Auers was NOT going to outlive Sookie.
“At least he has enough pride to not want to leave his daughter a one-page will… Has the will been contested?”
That usually meant every word was airtight, but not always.
“Tell him to bring a copy of his parents’ will when he visits the children on Friday. I have a talent for finding loopholes and I tend to get my way.”
She sighed, “Alright… Now that you got your answer, plus bonuses, will you let me go?”
“What if I was just stalling because I don’t want you to go?”
She hummed while she pretended to think about it. “I don’t want to go either. I’m perfectly happy right here, but I need to talk to Selma before the girls come home and everyone else is up. Will you still be here when I get back?”
“Where would I go?”
She smiled and kissed my cheek. “Good point.”
When she left the bed, I realized I should have kept her with me… I could have gotten a chill from how cold the bed felt without her.
I listened as she entered my old room… instead of simply sitting on the edge of a bed, the bedding rustled enough for me to be sure Sookie laid down with Selma.
After a moment, Selma offered, “Sookie, you shouldn’t be here.”
Sookie kissed her and offered, “Eric knows too well how precious a loyal friend is. My friendship with you isn’t a threat to what I have with him. He isn’t going to begrudge me for girl-talking with you like we’ve always done.”
Given Sookie’s seriousness, I couldn’t decide if Sookie was trying to reassure Selma, or if Sookie was telling me how to feel on the matter.
Amusing, but given that Selma’s guidance and supervision had kept Sookie alive while writing about the Supernatural for years, Sookie couldn’t have been more right.
Selma asked, “What do you have with him?”
“We’re bonded… and I’m pretty sure I’m falling for the asshole.”
Selma sighed, “Sookie… You don’t know what he’s capable of.”
“I think I do… My ovaries are toast.”
Selma huffed, “That isn’t what I mean, and you know it. He’s dangerous.”
“Ahhhhhh… You mean the whole conquering-an-Empire thing?”
“I mean the whole betraying-his-own-child-for-an-Empire thing… I never, as long as I knew him, thought he was capable of something like that.”
“Because he isn’t… His Maker used him like a pawn and it backfired. Liz was taken and held hostage because Halfdan and Appius were making a move against Clovis. Appius ended Liz for the prize of a Lordship. Eric never wanted to be King, but he wasn’t going to let anyone get away with ending Liz… Ever since then, Francois and Selene have been lying about what happened and misinforming Clovis because they were in on it.”
I imagined Selma with a ‘just slapped’ expression on her face during the long silence following the condensed version of how I came to be King.
Sookie continued, “He’s still the same notorious bastard he’s always been, but he never would have betrayed Liz.”
After a moment, Gawain offered, “He’s run out of Vampires who had a part in the whole scheme. The last of them are in Clovis’s very recently enlightened hands now.”
I’d been wondering how long he’d pretend to still be dead.
Sookie groaned, “Do you mind? I’m trying to have a serious conversation. Don’t be a pain in the ass…”
He cut her off. “Shhhhhhhh. If you lift your hips and relax, it won’t be a pain at all.”
At least Sookie thought he was funny… but there wasn’t enough time for me to try to imagine what he was doing before I was distracted by a loud thud…
Sookie continued to laugh while Gawain growled, “How the fuck did you manage that?”
I assumed she managed to toss him from the bed.
“Long story, short… A friend of mine was raped, leaving work one night. Her good friends do whatever they can to help her heal. Everything from cleaning her flat to taking self-defense classes with her.”
That completely explained how she so quickly managed to toss Ian around, knock me onto my back, drop a Shifter, and eject Gawain from a bed… I’m sure my blood helped, but the more important aspect was that her ‘long story, short’ was another example of how selfless she could be.
Gawain argued, “You couldn’t do that if I was ready for it.”
“In a more calculated match, you’re right, but rapists don’t tend to strike in a calculated fashion, now do they? Even when they do, they tend to underestimate their target because they’re women.”
Selma offered, “That was certainly the case when a man tried to rape me.”
Gawain asked, “Dinner?”
Selma laughed, “I removed his offending body-parts with his own knife and sheathed it in his ass for safe-keeping.”
Perfect… and completely what I expected from her. One of the reasons I always liked her was her flair.
Gawain offered, “There’s a double-standard we missed last night. Not many men are raped by women.”
Sookie scoffed, “Bullshit, my friend, bullshit. Raped women get fucked in the physical sense. Raped men get fucked in every way… wallets, family, friends… Most of the poor bastards don’t even realize it’s happening until there’s a divorce lawyer sitting next to them…”
Selma groaned, “You’ve done it now, Gawain.”
Sookie continued, “Take the violence out of the standard definition of rapist, and you have an individual willing to go to extremes to take what they want from another individual. Take the money out of the standard definition of gold-digger, and you have an individual willing to go to extremes to take what they want from another individual. Being the victim of either crime leaves the prey battered and wary they could be targeted again… but… a raped woman isn’t usually left with the list of regrets a swindled man is…”
She left no fucking question as to why she was so offended that her in-laws thought of her as a gold-digger.
Gawain sighed, “Should I ask?”
Selma snickered, “She’d finish regardless.”
As predicted, Sookie continued, “A rape victim is going to relive, rehash, and regret a few moments, the window of time where they could have done something to prevent or avoid their rape…”
Gawain offered, “Like when Lanier attacked you. You regretted using your shields, yeah?”
Selma gasped, “What!? When did that happen?”
Sookie grumbled, “Don’t fall for it. Gawain was trying to hijack the conversation with shock-value.”
He chuckled, “Bitch,” as though he was surprised she wouldn’t see through the attempt. “Fine. What regrets are men left with then?”
“Years of being played. Fathering children that were nothing more than pawns. Cutting himself off from anyone who loved him enough to try to warn him because he’s the only one who didn’t see he was a meal ticket.”
Gawain chuckled, “Mommy issues, Sookie? Really?”
She snorted, “Truckloads, but all things considered, my mother wasn’t a gold-digger. As much as I hate her, she bought two new dresses every year. Easter and Christmas. She drank cheap gin. She smoked generic cigarettes. She trimmed her own hair and did her own nails. She was a nasty lush, but she was content with being comfortable. She was self-centered and obtuse, but she wasn’t greedy… I’m talking about the bitches who expect the high-finance courtship, then the dream wedding, then the newest/biggest/ultimate everything…. Until the obligatory rug-rats are the perfect excuse to get a monthly allowance for doing fuck-all. Those bitches are the reasons for pre-nups.”
“Then who inspired that perspective?”
I heard Sookie inhale, but Selma answered, “Rose Ebner.”
Sookie growled at her. “You have a big mouth.”
Gawain cooed, “I have to hear this.”
Sookie growled again as she started, “Rose was one of my flat-mates when I first moved to Bern…”
Selma added, “Rose flirted with Allecks for months before he finally asked her out, but she fell ill the day they were supposed to attend a charity function together. Sookie was the one who answered the door when Allecks arrived. Instead of leaving him to attend the function alone, Sookie offered to go…”
Sookie groaned, “I wasn’t bogarting her crush. I never laid eyes on him. Rose asked me to go and talk her up…”
Selma teased, “Sookie wasn’t home until dawn.”
Sookie gasped, “Don’t make it sound like a sex-marathon! We went clubbing! I crashed in the back of the limo so Allecks had the car take him home and then wait at my flat for me to wake up. The only thing I took off all night was my bra and that was in the bathroom at one of the clubs because the underwire was poking me. Seriously, innocent as a nun.”
Selma snorted, “I’ve seen you dance, darling. There’s nothing nun-like about the way you move your hips…”
Gawain offered, “She has you there,” as though he could read my mind.
Selma continued the story, “Rose was livid, especially once Allecks started calling for Sookie. Sookie went as far as ‘assuming’ Allecks meant a group date and brought more friends, including Rose, along… Allecks spent the night waiting for his turn to dance with Sookie and ignored Rose.”
Sookie huffed, “I really felt bad for her. Honestly. Allecks and I didn’t as much as kiss. We danced and had a few drinks. He’s smart enough to have a conversation, so I even told her to read up on stuff he had an interest in.”
Selma chuckled, “After a few weeks, Rose ‘came to terms’ with the situation and gave up on Allecks, but it wasn’t long before Sookie started reading minds again when Corbett suggested it. Once she dropped her shields, she had difficulties controlling them. When Allecks called one night, she heard Rose thinking about how it wasn’t fair Sookie stole her meal ticket… Sookie started taking extra shifts at the hotel immediately so she could afford her own flat…”
Sookie offered, “Leading to how I discovered Vampires, which is a much less annoying story… but now that my maternal archetype is loosening up, I’m going to go snuggle with my leading man. Y’all have fun.”
There wasn’t any pause on Sookie’s part… Her feet hit the floor the moment she was finished speaking.
Sookie rolled her eyes as she pushed through the curtains at the door. “Selma thinks I’m entertaining… She needs cable.”
“You are entertaining… How did you discover Vampires?”
She smirked as she walked towards the bed, pulling back the covers to straddle me.
“Well, I was working the late shift as a maid, and that included turn-down service, fresh towels and so on… I let myself into a room and found a Vampire feeding from a call girl.”
I teased, “Did you try to save her?”
She swatted my chest. “No. I was already backing out of the room because I thought I just interrupted a date… when he noticed me, he looked back… blood, fangs… he blocked the door so I couldn’t leave, and glamoured me.”
I chuckled, “Or so he thought.”
She nodded. “He was actually nice about it, in all of his nakedness… ‘You just walked in on me fucking a hooker. No such thing as Vampires. You must see this kind of thing all the time’… He tipped me a hundred euros. I was scared shitless, and I watched the lobby until she left without a mark on her…”
“And then you steered clear of him for the rest of his stay, yes?”
She shook her head. “I interrupted him every night for two weeks to make the deposit on my new flat…. And then I started interrupting dinnertime for Vampires as often as I could.”
I laughed, “You sneaky little bitch.”
She wiggled her eyebrows. “Lucky you, knowing when I’m full of shit and all.”
I took her hands to bring her closer and whispered, “You weren’t ‘full of shit’ when you said you were falling for me.”
She raised her eyebrows and tilted her hips. “And? Are you going to tease me for it? That seems counterproductive and more modest than I thought you were capable of. ”
“It wasn’t so long ago you stabbed me and said ‘fuck you in your dead ass’.”
She dropped her head and snickered against my chest. “Yeah well… it helps that you stopped being a full-time prick. You’re actually really likeable, loveable even.”
That wasn’t a concept I had any experience with.
“I prefer to think of myself as fuckable.”
She nodded. “As long as you don’t waste a lot of time stating the obvious…”
She leaned onto my hands, pinning me to the bed while she kissed me.
When I tried to move my hands, wanting more than anything to enjoy pushing her as far as she’d let me, she resisted and hummed into my mouth.
It wasn’t as though I was going to argue… but I was sure the clowns upstairs were why Sookie was holding back.
They’d already proven Sookie couldn’t make any noise that could escape their hearing…
And Gawain only proved how abstract boundaries were to him by arriving on my legs behind her.
The ‘Sookie sandwich’ joke she’d made nights ago had come back to haunt us.
I growled when he slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her back against himself while Sookie rolled her eyes.
The only thing saving him from being kicked to the floor was that Sookie would have gone with him.
She leaned to the side to look back at him and warned, “I’ve already proven I’m not scared to be between you two.”
He chuckled, “I know better than to think you’re really playing along.”
More importantly, he should have known better than to think I would.
She raised an eyebrow and whispered, “Aren’t I?”
He already looked like she slapped him when she reached back to twist her fingers into the hair behind his ear…
She closed her eyes and tilted her chin like she was going to kiss him and my fangs dropped even though I could feel she was up to something.
I’m almost sure my ‘friend’ meant for the look he gave me to be apologetic, but it was a fucking smirk…
And I couldn’t tell if Sookie was still feeling turned on from before we were interrupted, or if it was because of the interruption.
Gawain’s mouth was so close to Sookie’s, I began looking for an opening, somewhere I could hit the asshole without hurting Sookie in the process…
I almost missed it when he suddenly dove off of the bed and hit the floor like a slab of lead…
He was still writhing and spitting semi-coherent obscenities when Edward and Richard arrived in the room. They’d taken the comforters from their beds to cover themselves and sped through the house blindly…
They watched Gawain for a moment before Edward called, “Mother! You have to see this! Eric crippled Gawain!”
Sookie smiled from ear to ear and laid down to snuggle against my side. She couldn’t have been more proud of herself as she pulled the blanket over us, even if she seemed comfortable with giving me the credit for dropping Gawain.
She found my hand under the blanket and plucked my palm… and then slid her leg along mine to rub my cock with her knee.
While I was looking for somewhere to punch Gawain, Sookie snuck her hand between them and plucked his cock.
That was an impressive lesson in subtlety.
She giggled, either hearing my thought or feeling my surprise.
Just as Francesca arrived, with Selma in tow, Gawain managed to groan, “It was Sookie,” and nothing more.
Edward laughed and tossed himself onto the bed next to us. “In that case, is there anything you need, Sookie? Foot rub? Tea? Anything?”
She whined, “We were kinda shooting for some alone time, since the actual children aren’t here to barge in on us…”
Francesca and Selma snickered without venturing further into the room.
Sookie offered, “Go ahead, hon. I know you’re dying to get your hands on the bébé. She’s already stirring anyway.”
I couldn’t be sure who she’d been speaking to since Francesca and Selma moved towards the hammock as a single entity.
While the women cooed about Hope’s ginger locks, Gawain finally pushed himself from the floor, admitting he’d asked for it… ‘It’ being a grazing blow to his tenders…
Eloquently described as ‘the metaphorical inspiration for Achilles’ heel and Kryptonite, capable of causing temporary paralysis of nearly any man unfortunate enough to receive such a thrashing.
Sookie giggled while Gawain prattled and whined, and when he was finally finished, she jokingly called Guinness Book on her ‘finger-phone’ to report the world’s longest description of a ‘nut-tap’ in history.
The bedroom was already so crowded, the sound of a car on the driveway was actually welcome.
There was time for me to assume the girls were home and we’d move the ‘party’ to the commons area of the house… but given how violently the car door slammed, I gave up that theory.
We were all frozen, careful not to make any noise that could keep us from hearing…
Loud, aggressive strides through the gravel… met by quick, agile steps…
From the sound of the rocks, Miles had to dig his heels in and was still plowed back by whoever was visiting.
“Whoa whoa whoa… Where are you going, mate?”
A gruff voice growled, “I’m here to see Sookie Stackhouse. Get out of my way.”
Miles countered, “Well, seeing as I’m the guard, that isn’t likely to happen…” He paused to blurt, “Oy! Hello Hadley! Fancy seeing you again!”
Lovely. Because we all missed Hadley.
Miles continued, “If you want to see Miss Stackhouse, and walk away with your head, you’re going about your entrance the wrong way.”
“Tell her I’m here to speak to her. Alcide Herveaux.”
Alcide Herveaux… the Were whose father married Sookie’s aunt… a ‘skip-cousin’.
“Alcide, you say? Lovely name, that is. Like Hercules, yeah? Lucky too. Imagine your parents’ frustration if they gave you a strapping, manly name like Alcide and you ended up a wiry chap like me, eh?”
“Are you really a guard or are you looking for the Yellow Brick Road?”
“Really and truly a guard. Now, when I announce you to Miss Stackhouse, can I tell her how you know Hadley and what your business is?”
“I’m Hadley’s boss. I’m here because Hadley told me her cousin took her baby from her.”
Miles scoffed when the rest of us did. “Oh, this is going to be good. Stay where you are…”
As Miles’s calmer footsteps landed on the porch, Sookie sighed and left the bed.
Miles didn’t leave the foyer, waiting (possibly thinking about details) while Sookie went to the closet to pull on a pair of jeans, a sweater and battered cowboy boots.
She quietly explained in German, “Alcide’s a Wolf. He’s furious, but he’ll calm down once he finds out he was lied to.”
She left the room alone, but she was sadly mistaken if she thought she’d be facing the Wolf alone.
The doorway was bottlenecked thanks to the light-blocking curtains… The only one of them with any manners was Selma, and that was because she was holding Hope.
I couldn’t decide what was more ridiculous… the fact that Edward and Richard looked like quilted ghosts until they were sure the sun wasn’t a threat or the way Gawain was limping and cradling his cock.
When I finally reached the foyer, Sookie was standing on the threshold with her arms crossed, looking up at Alcide Herveaux.
Miles had been right about how fitting Alcide’s name was… I was allowed to be shocked that he made the connection.
Herveaux watched the Vampires fill the foyer behind Sookie and then stared at her for a moment before breathing, “You’re her. You’re Ana Louis.”
“Since you know my cousin, just call me Sookie… What can I do for you, Mr. Herveaux?”
“I don’t want to cause any trouble, but taking someone’s baby from them just because you can’t have your own is fucked up. They have agencies for that.”
Hostile as his statement was, I blamed Hadley… I couldn’t think of anyone else who would have sunk so low.
In spite of the sudden pain in Sookie’s chest, she nodded. “You’ll get no argument from me. Is there a petition you’d like me to sign?”
He growled… it was frustrated rather than aggressive. “Are you saying that isn’t what’s going on between you and your cousin?”
“Then what is it? Because right now, I want to call the cops and the Sheriff.”
“Neither call would do you any good… But since you’re trying to be reasonable, Hadley’s a failure at everything she does…”
“That doesn’t give you the right to-”
“You asked. Do you want the reason or do you want to get knocked off your soap box?”
He growled again and took a step back. “Fine. Alright. Sorry. Go ahead.”
“Thank you… Hope isn’t Hadley’s first child. I’ve been raising her other two, Misty and Jenny, for two years now because her plethora of shitty choices in men have molested and nearly killed them. Hadley gave Hope to me. The men behind me can corroborate that since she stayed here for the last two nights.”
He looked over his shoulder and growled again… that growl was aggressive. “She didn’t bother mentioning any of that.”
Hadley seemed to try to disappear into the seat.
“She doesn’t usually mention anything that makes her look like shit…” After a moment, Sookie took a deep breath and offered, “You were leaving the office when the florist came by. Hadley checked out of the hospital before the balloons and flowers your office manager sent could get to her… so the driver brought them to the shop. Since balloons deflate and you didn’t want the office to stink of carnations, because they remind you and your father of your mother’s funeral, you decided to take them to Hadley’s apartment…”
He breathed, “Holyfuckingshit.”
Sookie continued, “She panicked because she didn’t want everyone at the office to think she didn’t care about the baby and came up with the family drama, hoping when the gossip made it around the office, everyone would just leave her alone about it. She didn’t expect for you to try to help her. She isn’t brilliant to begin with, but it doesn’t help that she’s on beaucoup painkillers… And no, she doesn’t have a clue she’s been in a house full of Vampires. She thinks they’re all harmless businessmen.”
After a while, I was tempted to begin taking bets on when he’d blink again.
Sookie waited, but eventually she offered, “You’re not a sucker. She’s got an honorary doctorate in manipulation,” just in time for another vehicle to pull onto the driveway…
Herveaux turned to watch the old Chevy pickup pull to a stop next to his Ram.
Corbett bounced out of his truck and jogged to the porch with a wide grin on his face to kiss Sookie’s cheek.
“Kidnappin’ me a grandbaby and my ringer…”
Sookie scoffed, “Oh no you’re not…”
“Oh yeah I am. Texted the girls to have Ricky drop ‘em off at my place. Girls are already there with Ema, stackin’ wood for the fire-pit. S’mores, hot dogs, hot chocolate. You’re stayin’ longer, I get more time with the girls. You and Miles’ll come over for breakfast in the morning. All opposed…” He might have waited half of a second before he declared, “See. It’s unanimous. Selma, get together while I move the car seat.”
More amusing than the look on Sookie’s face was the way Selma disappeared into the hallway on command.
Sookie growled and it was actually more menacing than the one Herveaux directed at Hadley.
“See, Mr. Herveaux, this is what an actual kidnapping looks like.”
He finally blinked.
Corbett looked up at the Were and tilted his head to the side. “Herveaux, huh? Not Alcide?”
He nodded. “Yeah. Why?”
Corbett shook his head and tuned to leave the porch. “Just tell your old man Corbett Stackhouse says we need to catch up over a pitcher soon… miss the ole dog.”
Sookie called after her father, “You’re seriously taking all four of them?”
He didn’t look back to answer, “Yeah. Y’all oughta get dressed down and go up ta’ Waller’s Inn. The guys’ll probably get a kick outta line-dancin’.”
Dressed down… I couldn’t imagine what he meant by ‘dressed down’. Gawain, the boys and I weren’t even wearing shirts… but the draw of dancing with Sookie again wasn’t something I was going to reject. The other option was staying at the house and being cock-blocked until Sookie or I killed someone.
Sookie argued, “They don’t want to go line-dancing!”
Before I realized I was speaking, I offered, “It sounds interesting enough.”
Judging by Francesca’s laughter, she knew something I didn’t.