On The Beam
One interruption after another, tempting me to take Jenny outside for a short flight so we could have privacy…
Sookie was still speaking to Allecks. Edward and Richard were reassuring my Lords I hadn’t gone completely mad for marrying my ‘maid’. And Francesca was waiting for the Were she’d called to finish squealing at the mention of providing a wedding gown for THE Ana Louis…
I knew Corbett, Ema and Selma would arrive any minute, so I was pressed for time.
As soon as Gawain closed the door behind himself, I offered, “I don’t want to cheat and hire a telepath to help me… You didn’t seem to be upset earlier. Your mood changed once the chaos began.”
Jenny didn’t answer me… she continued to use Hope’s sleeper as an excuse to not look at me.
It was maddening.
“Are you worried about security at the castle?”
“Do you disagree with having your mother glamoured?”
She shook her head and mewled, “No.”
In an effort to move the conversation along, I began brainstorming aloud, hoping she’d give me a hint accidentally.
“You weren’t upset about the skip once Hope and I returned… You already knew about the chaos we’ll be facing once we return to Eijsden… You were already quite withdrawn when I called Allecks, but hearing his composed reaction didn’t change your mood… Something about the marriage? Do you not approve?”
No shrug. Nothing.
“That’s it… Why are you concerned about that?”
She breathed, “I don’t know. It’s stupid.”
“Nothing about you is stupid… I’m not fond of seeing you so withdrawn. Why won’t you talk to me about what’s bothering you?”
She shrugged again. “You guys are just pretending to be married…”
“We’re not pretending. I’m the King. For fun, when we return to Eijsden, I can marry Misty and Daan…”
She finally let out a giggle (even if it was weak). “So, just like that. Ad vitam aeternam, amen. Mister and Missus.”
I nodded. “Literally ‘ad vitam aeternam’ in our case, but yes. If you prefer a large ceremony, you’d need to discuss that with Sookie.”
“Y’all won’t get a honeymoon or anything.”
“That’s a debatable point… I imagine, technically, Bon Temps has been our honeymoon, and I’ve quite enjoyed it.”
Not only had we completed our bond, but we ‘consummated’ our relationship… and we were returning with an additional mouth to feed…
Oddly, our headhunting mission for Lords had become an incredibly successful honeymoon by most standards.
She shifted to face me, quietly considering something for a moment before asking, “What about the banquet? Like a wedding reception? Is that a Vampire thing, or an old-fashioned thing?”
“My people feasted to celebrate weddings. Drinking and dancing and eating for days and nights on end. My heritage makes for an excellent excuse to distract Sookie’s fans long enough for Sullivan to ward the property, I think.”
“Me too… Eric?”
“We can stay with Grampa… or go live with Allecks…”
“Why would you do that? I’m sure the media frenzy will die down.”
“If you… if…”
Fragile, that one.
I leaned over and finished, “If I’m only tolerating you long enough to earn Sookie’s good graces.”
She didn’t have to say anything. Her eyes filled and chin trembled.
I reached over and led Jenny onto my lap… if she hadn’t been avoiding eye contact with me by focusing on Hope, she might have broken me.
“You should be able to differentiate between lies and truths.”
She sniffled and nodded.
“I’m not suffering your presence, Jenny. I enjoy you and your sisters. I appreciate your honesty, and your creativity, and your intelligence… You aren’t a burden. You’re a blessing, and I adore you just for having the patience to put up with me…” She sagged, laying her head against my shoulder. “We have a lot in common, yes? We’ve been betrayed, mistreated and deprioritized by someone who should have protected us instead of serving their own agenda for whatever reasons… but we’re very lucky to have found someone who sees our scars and loves us enough to take them into consideration.”
She nodded again and cleared her throat… No sooner than I began smoothing her hair, she reached up to hug my neck, hiding her face against me.
“You’re an incredibly brilliant little girl… I’m honored to be your stepfather, and eventually someone will be just as delighted to be your Maker…”
She breathed, “I’m not lucky with stepfathers.”
I should have known better than to use that word, that label… after what she’d been through.
“No… those fools didn’t realize how amazing you are, they cared nothing for your feelings, they didn’t enjoy your smile… they were nothing… They kept your mother as a pet and by extension you became part of their lives. They took you for granted… I was lucky enough to be invited into your life. You still have your work cut out for you, but you’ve already made excellent strides towards house-breaking me. I’ve already learned to not shit where I eat.”
She choked out a snotty giggle. “And you don’t piddle when we come into the house.”
She giggled again.
“Besides, I forbid you to move in with Corbett. I’d look ridiculous in Disney World without short people holding my hand.”
She leaned away and wiped her face as she nodded. “Okay then. I promise.”
“You’re picturing me with mouse ears, aren’t you?”
She giggled, “I am now.”
I kissed her forehead and lifted Hope from her lap. “Go wash your face. I’ll take Hope to ask Sookie if there’s anything I can do to keep her from being overwhelmed.”
Jenny gave me a sheepish grin as she slid from my legs. “It helps that you’re not upset. She was worried you’d be angry. I mean, she doesn’t even like the attention, not this kind.”
That was very good to know.
Sookie was sitting on the side of the bed with her hands over her face… She wasn’t so much anxious; more along the lines of unfocused, as though she knew she needed to be doing something, but couldn’t make any decisions.
It was much better than the alternative, and definitely easier to approach than Jenny’s insecurities.
After propping Hope up on a pillow, I laid back and pulled Sookie down to join us.
Before her head touched the pillow, she sighed, “Eric, I don’t have time for this…”
I couldn’t have cared less about ‘later’ once Sookie’s body was nestled back against mine. I couldn’t have been more perfectly comfortable.
“Did you eat dinner or were you too anxious during my adventure?”
She paused for a moment before answering, “I ate… I made the kids eat, and they called me a hypocrite until I joined them.”
“The hotel and flights have been reserved for us and our temporary staff, yes?”
“Yeah. The guys are double booked in the hotel, but they don’t mind. Alcide already called to confirm they have fourteen, plus him and Simon.”
“Excellent news… Is there anything else we need to do to the flophouse?”
“No. Daddy takes the left over groceries to his place and takes the garbage to the dump for us after we leave.”
“Gawain has already left to glamour Hadley. The boys are no less than halfway through their list of relevant phone calls. Francesca is discussing dress options with the designers now…”
“They’ll be able to boast they made your wedding gown which will boost their image… We can stage photos at the castle once I decide on your wedding ring…” I lifted her hand from where it was resting on the bed to consider carat weight and shape, and continued, “Selma will author the press release and contact the applicable media outlets… What else should we discuss?”
Hope was scowling at her when she mumbled, “How about we talk about how much you’re going to regret this?”
“I’d rather not. You’re the only one who managed to get through to me regarding my other regret.”
“Are you actually being idealistic? You?”
“No. If you decide to leave me at some point, the formality of being married will be the least of my concerns.”
She sighed, “You know, shit like that makes me want to kick you… Just a few nights ago…”
“Just a few nights ago I didn’t realize how completely I needed you. I don’t want to think about how much more miserable I’d be if you leave, or what I’d be like this very minute if you hadn’t proven how determined you could be… It’s not too late to change our strategy if you don’t want to go through with it.”
She laced her fingers between mine and sighed, “Your Lords have already been called…”
“Fuck them. I’ll call them all and retract…”
She snickered, “You need to run, you jerk… I felt horrible about calling them to schedule your meetings after the way you-”
I interrupted, “Because I was an obstinate asshole about accepting your benevolence at face value.”
She giggled, “At least you own it… Do you really not mind?”
“No. Why would I mind having a beautiful and talented wife? I really don’t want stepchildren though… Jenny… She all but shut down at my mention of me being her stepfather. She offered to stay with Corbett because she didn’t want to be unwelcome…”
Sookie mewled, “Awwww… I better go talk to her…”
“I already did. It seemed to help settle her concerns… Is there anyone left to kill on her behalf?”
“Nope. Calvin got Darrell. Chuck was killed in jail because he picked a fight with a guy in a holding cell after being picked up for a bar fight, but he was just emotionally abusive. And Edward and Richard did Tino… I’m curious about Hope’s father though… I might just get other versions to stalk him. I don’t want to clue him in about the baby.”
“Spying across the braids?”
She was nodding when Misty walked into the room… she climbed onto the bed and addressed Hope by cooing, “I called Casteau.”
Casteau? The base? The only thing I knew of it, was that Dillon Rutger was stationed there.
Sookie was already proud and excited when she gasped, “Brilliant!”
Before I could ask, Misty explained, “In Belgium. We know a guy… One of the NATO guys tracked Selma down about a book signing because there’s actually a division of Weres and Shifters stationed there for ‘interdisciplinary tactical training’ from all over the world, so the school on base and housing is full of little Shifters… Commander Baroja is bringing a unit of thirty guys to Gerrit for ‘tactical exercises’. They all speak English, French or German, so language shouldn’t be a problem.”
‘Brilliant’ had been an understatement.
“What is the estimated arrival time? Have you called Gerrit with the news?”
“Commander said four hours… I don’t have Gerrit’s number, so I couldn’t call him.”
Lindy ran into the room and bounced onto the bed offering, “I just got off the phone with Daan. He’s in the crowd, just checking things out. He said he hasn’t come across anybody up to something. Just Mommy’s curious fans and paparazzi. I told him if he hears anything to find Mee and say Gawain hired him so she’d take him seriously.”
Another brilliant maneuver.
As I removed my phone from my pocket, I offered, “Call the boy back and tell him if he hears anything, he’s to tell Mee ‘Gweilo said nǐ hǎo’.”
She raised her eyebrow and giggled, “What?”
“Gweilo is her nickname for me. It means ‘ghost’. Picture me in medieval China and you won’t have any trouble figuring out where the nickname came from. She’ll recognize the message as being from me.”
Lindy giggled as she left for her phone, and I dialed Gerrit for Misty… she kissed Hope’s forehead as she left the bed to pace the hallway as she gave Gerrit the news of reinforcements and explain Daan’s presence in the crowd.
Jenny was the next to join us, climbing onto the bed with a freshly washed face to coo at Hope… but she was barely settled before Corbett, Selma and Ema arrived…
Selma stopped in the doorway, but Corbett made himself at home on the bed and swatted Sookie’s thigh. “Tell me you’re changing your name to Northman.”
Ema made a show of creeping towards the bed like a cartoon villain and stealing the baby from her pillow… then she ran all the way to the rocking chair in the corner laughing, “Mwahahahaha.”
Sookie snickered, “There’s nothing wrong with Auers, Daddy.”
“Nothin’ at all… but Sookie Northman sounds better.”
I nodded. “I agree, but we have a bit of a dilemma on that front. ‘Queen Consort Sookie Northman’ or… ‘Queen Consort Ana Louis’? I’m not sure there’s a precedent for pennames and royal titles.”
Sookie hummed thoughtfully, but Selma offered, “Queen Consort Sookie Northman, I think… She’s established enough that her title will be a novelty to her fans, like so many Knighted Human celebrities… Eric’s subjects could benefit from the reminder that she’s not just an author.”
Sookie whined, “But my real identity…”
Selma sighed, “It’s not as though your maiden name needs to be included in your title, darling. They know Allecks’s identity and haven’t found the Stackhouse connection. We’ll continue to be diligent.”
I added, “And if your uncommon first name leads to the discovery, we’ll think of a way to return to Bon Temps quietly… Perhaps we’ll send Baastian and his family to Disney World in our names as a decoy.”
Sookie turned to kiss me and giggled, “Y’all win. Sookie Northman it is.”
Jenny piped, “Um… even though the adoption isn’t finished yet… I mean, since y’all are making such a big deal about names and all…”
Selma smiled sympathetically and nodded. “Lady Jennifer. I’ll take care of it.”
I asked, “What’s this? Do you not like being called Jenny?”
She shook her head and sighed, “It’s not that… My mother named me Jenevieve, but she spelled it with a J because she didn’t know better.”
Sookie added, “Hadley even spelled Jenn and Jenny like it was short for Jennifer. It wasn’t until we went to court for custody that any of us knew she was Jenevieve instead of Jennifer.”
“By the end of the week, the adoptions and subsequent documentation will be finalized. Nothing greases judicial wheels like a royal decree.”
Misty shouted from the hallway, “BONUS!”
After much deliberation and editing, Selma read from her phone, “Last Friday night, February 4th, 2005, King Eric Northman of the Northern Empire wed Ana Louis in a private ceremony at their home in Eijsden. Their official witnesses were close friends, including Lord Magistrate Gawain Green. The newlyweds’ honeymoon in the bride’s home state of Louisiana was happily interrupted by Hope’s early arrival. King and Queen Northman are grateful for the outpouring of best wishes from the public and wish to express their gratitude while they celebrate their many blessings with family.”
I nodded. “Well done… and since you made it seem as though we intend to stay in Louisiana for a while, the crowds might subside.”
She shrugged. “I’m hopeful, but it’s not likely many will leave. I think the bigger issue will be the demand for a backstory.”
Fuck. Of course, and it was a good thing she still didn’t know about how Sookie and I met; she might not have thought of it.
We all seemed to be stumped for a way to explain, but Jenny offered, “Last year. That leg of the book tour… Dublin, Cardiff, London, Rotterdam, Glasgow… then to New York. We were in Rotterdam for two nights. Cube houses, shopping, Museumpark. After all the attention we got from Tyson and his staff in London, would anyone question that Eric would be curious enough to meet you? Pick a place and say y’all met, and you’ve been in contact ever since. Sookie’s in the clear to have been flirty with him because Onkel had moved out.”
Sookie giggled, “Works for me. There would’ve been plenty of time for an official ‘hi there’. We did a lot of sightseeing, and the only contact we made was a family. We went to their place for lunch and a long talk.”
I asked, “More telepaths?”
“A Shifter actually. It was pretty much like Shelby and Conner…”
Jenny frowned and sighed, “The mom made up a fake boyfriend to hide she was raped from her daughter… fourteen years later, Lotte was ‘obsessed’ with Notorious and birds of prey. She’d even had a dream that she woke up one night and turned into one…”
Sookie continued, “We tracked down the Morphbaas and introduced them. When he shifted, his energy gave Lotte the nudge she needed…”
Selma sighed, “And when the mother became hysterical after watching her daughter shift into the form of a gyrfalcon, I glamoured her to forget, and Morphbaas Masse is now sponsoring the girl.”
I chuckled, “I think Gawain’s ‘Supernatural switchboard operator’ comment stands as the most fitting description I’ve heard yet.”
Edward entered the room and offered, “Richard’s finishing up with Bero now. What happened the other night? He’s got a rosebud over what sort of wedding gift to send.” He wedged himself into the little bit of room left on the bed between Sookie and Jenny to use Jenny’s legs as a pillow.
Selma looked like she had the same problem Bero did.
Corbett asked, “Rosebud? The sled from Citizen Kane?”
Edward made an obscene hand gesture and explained, “Prolapsed asshole caused by rectal trauma.”
Sookie slapped Edward’s side, and Corbett translated, “Oh… A pink sock.”
Edward was already nodding when Sookie reached out to slap her father’s arm… and Edward was swatted again for ‘starting it’.
He chuckled, “Bero,” to remind us he asked.
Sookie explained, “He was shitty to the maid… Eric gave me permission to stab him if he was nasty again.”
Edward snorted, “Daft twat. He should have just sampled your scent. I’ll bet his flirting technique is hilarious.”
I growled, “Do I want to hear about the reactions from Sookie’s molesters?”
Edward chuckled, “Connelly practically called ‘next’ in case you get bored with her, and Willem congratulated your taste. Richard called Cornelius and Bronya though… I know there isn’t a precedent for it, but you should probably have an official reception, a formal affair. Your Lords are one thing, we all know you, but there are hundreds of Earls…” When I growled, Edward scoffed, “You look incredible in a tux.”
Misty came into the room, bouncing onto the bed to sit on my hip for lack of anywhere else. “I vote nay.”
My backup had arrived.
Edward argued, “The Kingdom’s Earls and Knights should know who you all are, because as the royal family, they’ll all be responsible for your safety. As annoying as the affair will be, Sookie should be put on display as a prized possession so Eric’s subjects get the hint. State your case.”
Francesca arrived, stopping next to Selma, just in time to see Misty’s side of the debate, and Lindy was just behind her.
Lindy took Corbett’s hand and climbed onto his lap as Misty started, “The Lords of the Northern Empire know Eric. They know he’s badass and what’ll happen if someone crosses him, which is why Bero is crapping in his bonnet right now. The Earls and Knights are a different story. Most of them are younger. Most of them haven’t been introduced to him. The reception line will be a mile long and full of Vampires who will be monumentally offended that Eric has no clue who they are. Sure, some of them will be asshats who want a standing ovation for wiping their own butts, but how many of them could be actually going above and beyond, but Eric’s just not hearing about it from the respective Lord because Lord Yadda-Yadda knows Eric gives no shits about Earl Blah-Blah as long as things are running smoothly… Who are your most and least reliable Earls, Lord Edward?”
He chuckled, “Casper is our best. Danvor is our slacker.”
“Would Eric be able to pick them out of a lineup?”
Not if their lives depended on it.
Edward shook his head, knowing he’d already lost the debate.
Misty continued, “I move for smaller receptions done locally and hosted by Eric’s Lords. They’ll sit down with their staffs and put them in motion to organize something akin to a semi-formal banquet/dinner party, where Sookie can still be focused on. The Lords will invite their local Morphbazen and coven leaders. The roll call will be smaller, meaning easier to remember and much easier for us to read than a circus of uptight fangs in tuxes… The Lords and Knights would probably be more receptive to see their Lords take the wedding seriously, instead of being summoned for a crowded event that would be boring as hell and, with travel, could eat up a couple of nights for them… Sookie can make a few cameos at local schools and libraries, the happy couple can do an interview or two, plus Eric can take us sightseeing after we’re done with all the ass-kissing.”
Lindy was already raising her hand as she called, “All in favor?”
Jenny raised her hand, Ema raised Hope’s, Sookie and I raised ours… then Misty lifted her foot to nudge Edward’s ass and teased, “You know I’m right… Look, even Selma’s got her hand up.”
He scoffed, “I know you’re right, but you’re only NINE!”
“You rely on your bishops too much. Your game crumbles when you lose them.”
I chuckled, “He’s been hearing that for centuries,” at the same time as Francesca.
Misty giggled, “The point is you just didn’t think about all the pawns on the board because you’ve idolized Eric since you were just a kid…”
Richard interrupted Misty by laughing… He was still upstairs, but he made his way to us quickly enough to startle Corbett.
“I told…” He held his ribs and shook his head for a moment, laughing but trying to calm down.
Francesca snickered, “Brace yourselves. He’s quite proud of himself.”
He nodded and tried again, “Bero’s gone completely mad… He told me he didn’t know who you were the other night, and he was discourteous… I think he might have been crying. He said it was really important to make a proper apology…”
I chuckled, “What did you do?”
“I told him the media ruined your plans to honeymoon in Australia… I told him your bride had always wanted to see koalas and kangaroos…”
Sookie covered her face, shaking and laughing as quietly as she could.
He held his hands up and shook his head, “Oh no! Don’t laugh yet, love. It gets better! He didn’t disconnect the call right away… He screamed for his assistant to find breeding pairs so ‘the King’s royal pet can have her own fucking zoo if she wants it’.”
Lindy reached out to give him a high-five and shouted, “That’s perfect!”
Sookie argued, “Not exactly. There’s going to be aggressive kangaroos on the property, and I heard koalas eat constantly, and last time I checked there isn’t any eucalyptus growing on the property.”
I offered, “But Miles will be beside himself to play with them for a while before he’s charged with taking them to the Rotterdam Zoo. I’m sure they’ll be pleased to have the donation.”
Sookie snorted, “Good. Then we’ll only have one kangaroo on the property to worry about… You know Miles scared the shit out of me this morning… I went out to call him for breakfast and he was hanging from the awning… as a opossum.”
Misty giggled, “And he’s already said he was going to swim in the moat as a gator once it’s warm enough that he won’t freeze off his junk.”
I shook my head. “Shifting into an alligator is pointless. He’d have to shift back to Human form to leave the moat… At least a kangaroo is useful in hand to hand combat. I watched one pummel a reporter on television.”
Edward lifted Jenny, squeezing into her place on the bed and making himself comfortable… Meanwhile, Francesca and Selma were still leaning against the wall…
It wasn’t long before Gawain returned to report that Hadley had been successfully glamoured to have ‘no comment’ in regards to any questions about Sookie or Hope. He precariously perched on the sliver of mattress behind me to spoon…
So continued the brainstorming… on the bed holding more bodies than a normal car could hold.
Selma issued the press release and called Good Morning America. Initially, she planned to cancel altogether, but she issued an invitation for them to send a correspondence reporter to Eijsden to cover the wedding feast and granted permission to interview Sookie… Just Sookie. There weren’t any guarantees I’d be available. Oddly, something about her disclaimer made me more willing to participate.
Misty left the bed to retrieve her laptop and returned to her perch on my hip to show me the videos of the madness at the castle…
I phoned Gerrit about contacting the farm neighboring the castle to the south (a dairy farm should be able to house some of the livestock that had been delivered)… but the conversation was interrupted by Lars Masse. Rotterdam’s Morphbaas introduced himself, volunteering himself and twenty-two Shifters to secure the property. Sookie cooed a greeting and thanked him for being so sweet, but he thanked her for helping a valuable member of his pack.
Mee called Gawain to report that Cornelius had arrived with several of his soldiers.
Sookie called a hotel in Maastricht to reserve fifty double rooms and arrange for shuttles and meals for the incoming guards.
Lindy called Saskia to ask about her progress with catering the feast, and asked her to prepare five rooms upstairs… One each for Allecks, Alcide Herveaux, Simon St Cyr, Commander Baroja and Lars Masse. In the interest of keeping lines from being crossed, the leaders of the visiting security teams could centralize in the parlor… the added bonus was that guards would be in the house with them during the day.
I called Emre to have him meet us at the castle tomorrow night, and warned him to refresh his memory on family law specific to adoptions and name changes in the interim… Calling my lawyer reminded Sookie to text Allecks about bringing his parents’ will with him.
Jenny left us, kidnapping Corbett and Selma to have them take her to Wal-Mart… Walkie talkies would make the guards’ jobs easier, and she wanted to find a way to mark the volunteers since there would be sixty-six unfamiliar faces on the property.
Sookie took a call from her very upset brother… While she assured Jason that she hadn’t been hiding our relationship from him, because in a matter of minutes, he’d already heard the press release. While Sookie explained what was really going on, Francesca answered a knock on the front door.
Danielle and Stephanie, Were designers at large, had arrived with Sookie’s wedding dress…
Actually, they arrived with a rolling rack full of gowns because as Francesca spoke to Stephanie on the phone, Becky (Sookie’s young waitress fan) had been kibitzing… Ana Louis had been photographed on enough red carpets for Becky to be sure the dresses her aunts were planning to bring wouldn’t be in Sookie’s taste.
Becky was sure Sookie wore light colors, form fitting bodices, and full-length gowns as a rule because they were more flattering…
Becky’s opinion couldn’t have been more spot on. All of the dresses were beautiful before Sookie tried them on… so much so that I told Sookie to remind me to mention Danielle and Stephanie in the journal for Pam.
But the dress… the winner of the pageant was an icy blue strapless gown that fit Sookie’s curves perfectly.
It didn’t take any effort on my part to imagine the dress being ruined on a wedding night… but the blue one had the unanimous approval of the girls and our friends before Sookie slipped on a pair of pumps to test the length.
Sookie was absolutely stunning.
Jenny, Corbett and Selma returned with copious amounts of walkie talkies, and the string intended to create unassuming bracelets for our guards to wear. Simple and clever.
As everything settled down, and it seemed as though we were only waiting to leave, Selma was educated on the braid. Initially, she assumed we were playing a joke on her… but it was the same evidence that convinced the boys, the video of Pam and Sookie together, that finally convinced her.
While the girls braided bracelets, Sookie gave examples of different versions of our lives (specifically, the versions I had more knowledge of), including the detail that I’d been in the braid just tonight… After a short debate, it was decided to save the flash drive for after we settled in at home.
Misty synopsized, “Eric didn’t see Pam. Grampa didn’t see Grandma. We know Hope’s empathic. We can save the mindfuck for later.” When Sookie complained about Misty’s language, Misty asked for an acceptable synonym for mindfuck… and Sookie couldn’t think of one.
Having a Sibyl was reassuring, but hearing that the harbinger whose intuition had already saved my life was planning to return to Eijsden with us was that much more encouraging…
Sookie asked Selma to stay for the first few nights for the obvious reasons…
And even though I told Francesca she was welcome to join us, she laughingly passed up the opportunity and made arrangements to return to New York… and promised to visit the boys once they wouldn’t be needed in Eijsden any longer.
So… What happens when six Vampires, six Fae hybrids, and a Sibyl get together?
Apparently, they gather around the coffee table and play Trivial Pursuit while watching Men In Black and the sequel…
Sookie dozed off on my lap before the first movie was over… It was completely understandable after the day she’d had, but I was shocked she managed to sleep through the accusations and threats about stacking teams between the girls and the boys.
Thanks to the fact that the boys expected the girls to explain how they knew the answers to each question, one game lasted longer than the two movies… but even that was amusing, and I was almost sure the boys were pushing for Misty and Jenny to prove themselves. Given that Francesca offered a few impressed looks, the message was being received.
Once the game was finally over, and the girls had finished jokingly complaining that Corbett and Selma had won, the game was put away… blankets and pillows were stolen from the bedrooms… lights were turned off…
And we watched The Mummy.
Lindy snuggled against my side while Jenny and Misty lounged on the floor with the boys… and they were all snoring within minutes.
It was nearly three o’clock when Calvin arrived.
I ran my hand over Sookie’s leg to get her attention and whispered, “Sookie, Calvin’s here. The plane landed early.”
She groaned and turned on my lap, “Don’wanna get up. Yer comfy.”
“You need to get up regardless. You’ve drooled all over me.”
She sighed, “Liar,” and nuzzled against my neck.
That wasn’t going to encourage me to make an effort to wake her up.
Unfortunately, her step-father knew how to wake her up… he walked over and barked, “HOMEROOM STARTS IN TWENTY MINUTES! UP! OUT! LET’S GO! LET’S GO! LET’S GO!”
She’d left my lap as though she was fired from a cannon, gasping by the first ‘let’s go’…
Sookie slapped his arm, but he chuckled, “I love that it still works… What’s with the snuggle pile?”
Sookie might have jumped from my lap as though I was on fire, but the girls hadn’t budged.
Sookie rubbed her eyes and giggled, “Vampires are great cuddle buddies. They don’t dream, squirm, sweat or snore.”
He snorted, “I’ll take your word for it. I like having a whole bed to myself… Speaking of which… Congrats Mrs. Northman. Your cousins want to know what the hell to get for a royal wedding present.”
Sookie giggled, “Tell them to forgo the wedding gifts and send baby stuff instead. Standard shotgun wedding etiquette.”
“Good deal… They’ll be able to handle that… Y’all ready?”
“Not really. I like our quiet little bubble.”
“You always say that.”
“And you always remind me that I’d go crazy if I stayed.”
“And I’m right. We’ll do this again in a couple of months too, right? Still coming back for Easter?”
“Yeah. The kids are taking Eric to Disney.”
He smirked as he reached down to lift Lindy from my side. “Pictures. Lots and lots of pictures… I’ll let you get Jenn.”
Selma and Corbett watched me closely as I lifted Jenny from the floor… She didn’t react to being lifted. She didn’t react when I shifted to put my jacket on. She didn’t seem to notice when I carried her outside into the cool night air…
Even though Lindy and Misty had been roused when they were moved, Jenny was practically comatose until I set her on the seat in the car and reached across her to lock her seatbelt.
She gave me a sleepy grin without seeming to realize where she was. “What’s up?”
“The plane’s waiting for us.”
Her smile widened and she cooed, “It’s time to go home.”
I nodded. “To the town that’s recently experienced a population surge.”
She giggled, “If you’ve got barbarians at the gate, make sure you’ve got great company in the keep.”
That… great company… at least I had that going for me.