AN: I’m a little nervous for taking Sookie a little far from Eric for a little time. I wrote this chapter multiple times but always came back to this plot where some space was required. I just believe that she needs more in her life right now than a new relationship and Eric is known to be a little overbearing, bossy and possessive. I won’t keep them apart though. Only a chapter or two. I hope you readers like this latest piece. Also, Sookie’s peanut is going to get more attention because thats a big part of the story as well. Do let me know what you thought 🙂 🙂
I sat in the front parlor of Gran’s old house and tried to catch up to my life.
The two vampires, Calla and Shikha, handmaidens to the Ancient Pythoness were working on identification papers for me. Doing the actual work was a man who had earlier introduced himself as Desmond Cataliades. This past week, as I had desperately planned and re-planned my escape from Bon Temps, lack of identification kept stumping me. Once, a lifetime ago, I was a citizen of the United States of America, born and brought up in Bon Temps, Louisiana. But time moved in strange ways in Faery. A couple years there had made my body and sense of time out of touch with the human world. Who even knew where I belonged anymore or exactly how old I was?
A guard who had lived in the area for some time told me that this house had remained uninhabited for a time. It had never been looted per se but when Eric bought it in the county auction of lost and unneeded stuff, nothing but few old broken pieces of furniture remained. Eric Northman’s child repaired and refurnished the old house to make it vampire friendly. Old furniture and antiques were carefully restored and new things were brought in lieu of things that couldn’t be saved. They’d found boxes of papers, bills and insurance and legal documents no doubt, but those boxes had long been gotten rid of. The county had copies of death certificates for both Gran and me, which came up during the sale. And that was that.
Now that I was back, I didn’t know how to go about proving that I was legally alive. I was sure I could go to the social security offices, and get them to check out my fingerprints or something, but then what? They would open a case and go about proving that I wasn’t dead. To the people I was running from, that would be clear proof that I had escaped from Faery, returned to the land of humans and was again living as Sookie Stackhouse, resident Bon Temps Louisiana. The fairies would find me the minute they decided to get off their high horses and check if I had found a way to cross their portals. They would catch me and drag me back to hell.
I didn’t want to go to hell. So, I watched Calla and Shikha and Desmond work on new papers for me. They said it was all above board and I didn’t hem and haw and look a gift horse in the mouth.
Instead I settled on hearing what was going on around me. Ginger, Eric’s number one fangirl and live in donor was buzzin’ about in the kitchen, no doubt preparing dinner for me and the guards. I heard a few snarling minds of the were guards far in the grounds. Calla and Shikha, both vampires, were quite to me. Mr. Cataliades looked but didn’t sound very human. I tried listening in to his thoughts but all I got was strange static and a glare from him for my efforts. I had never encountered this kind of thought signature before. Later, if given a chance, I wanted to ask him what he was. Politely.
Mr. Cataliades’ briefcase looked like a bottomless pit of papers, watermarked stationary, rubber stamps, a small printing device, a camera and what not. They took some photos of me in three separate shirts. They produced a birth certificate, a driver’s license and a medical insurance card. I could see him working on a passport, real or fake, who even knew, but I was feeling more comfortable with the new crowd. Calla, Shikha and Desmond seemed to know what they were doing and I was thankful for their help. It would be another favor to return at a later date, but at the point, I could scarcely afford to breath, let alone pay for fake papers.
A hand enclosed over mine. Eric Northman’s.
“Don’t worry about it.” He whispered in my ear.
“Worry about what?”
“The price of things. I gave you my blood. I’ll take care of expenses to help settle you in the world again.”
He squeezed my hand in reassurance.
“You will. It is a done thing. Now. Do you have any questions for them?”
I nodded and shelved the discussion of payment for the moment.
“Where are they taking me?”
Northman looked towards the busy trio.
“Greece.” Replied Shikha as she read over a document.
“Why do you want to take me to Greece?” I asked her.
Calla dropped the document she was looking over and came to sit with me.
“This is a lot to take in. We will answer your questions, as many as we can, when we are on the way.”
Northman tensed. Frankly, that answer didn’t sit well with me either. I hated evasion. And this was my life on the line again. I had learned to not take things at face value and never trust strangers, the hard way. As tough as it was to speak up for me, I needed answers before I put my life in their hands. My life and my child’s.
“Why not tell me now?” I asked again.
“Are you taking her as a prisoner?” Northman cut in, opting to be the rude one.
“No, she is not a prisoner.” Calla replied patiently, “We are taking her in because her purpose lies elsewhere. The Lady has seen it. I promise we will answer her questions as soon as we are done with her documentation and are on our way home. We cannot dither.”
Sookie took a calming breath. This was exactly like talking to the faeries, half-truths, vague statements and putting off answering. But as much as her instinct told her to listen to these people, she had to get Calla to open up before she was yanked away into the unknown once again. Sookie just had to frame her questions in a way to get as much of an answer as she could.
“How do you even know about me let alone this purpose you talk about? I had never heard of the Ancient Pythoness until about an hour ago. Why the sudden interest and urgency to take me away?”
No one answered.
“It’s not very sudden.”
My blond protector murmured in the mounting silence.
“Sookie is the reason the Ancient One told me to purchase this property, isn’t she?” Northman stared at the two handmaidens, “Years ago, when I was told to protect what lies here with all that I am, this was what you were asking me to protect. The Pythoness knew Sookie would come through one day. She knew Sookie would need help.”
Calla and Shikha looked at both of us, vampire and one-eighth fairy, eerily still and hyper alive.
“Out of all the powerful vampires of the world, you contacted me.” Northman mused, “I am part of her story as well. And yet you don’t want to talk details in front of me. I don’t clearly understand why, but I know she is important. I gave my blood to Sookie. Like it or not, vampire law states that she is under my protection. Least we deserve is some straight answers from the three of you.”
“Miss Stackhouse is important. However, you do not merit an explanation on this matter. So we will talk to her later.” Shikha replied, her black eyes and face devoid of expression.
I thought those words would anger Northman. But he didn’t appear ruffled in the least. He kept still and coolly stared at the handmaidens.
“You mean to circumvent our laws. I bet you haven’t notified Queen Sophie that you’re here or what you are doing. That would explain the urgency to leave. Handmaidens to the Ancient one or not, you are still responsible for upholding our laws. Now, I have been welcoming and respectful to the Lady’s wish of secrecy in this matter. You need to return the courtesy and answer Sookie’s questions now, to show good faith.”
Calla dropped the documents she was reading and sighed tiredly. I didn’t know vampires could tire like that. Maybe we were being too demanding and they didn’t know much. Or maybe it was another thing I didn’t know about vampires. Calla and Shikha looked at each other. Then Calla nodded to her fellow handmaiden before addressing us.
“Fair enough Northman. From what we know, you were the strongest vampire in the area who could purchase the place and guard it without generating undue interest. So The Lady chose you, merely”, she paused as if looking for the right words, “to hold fort. You are going to continue doing that while we take care of Miss Stackhouse from this point forward. I am sure you know by now that this property holds a dimension portal. Your queen doesn’t know about it and I am sure you haven’t told her about the portal or Miss Stackhouse either. In whatever courtesy you are extending us by keeping our visit secret, you are keeping your Monarch in the dark by your own design too. You like hunting and hoarding secrets and treasures. Maybe that bit of Viking in you never died with your human self?”
“You understand me then.” Nodded Eric, “But don’t take me for a fool, it pisses me off. I will inform my queen if it comes to a choice between sending Sookie blindly away and not sending Sookie without the information she needs. As I said before, she has had my blood. According to vampire law, I am responsible for her. Sookie is mine. I need to know she and her child will be safe and happy with you and your people. Now, start talking.”
Eric spoke as if he was talking about the weather. No inflection, no anxiety, nothing threatening. Cool as marble. Someday, I’d like to be able to talk like that. Also, he called me his. The possession felt strange but touched me on a level I couldn’t ignore. Did he really think me his?
Calla rolled her eyes and sighed in an exaggerated fashion.
“Young ones are so melodramatic. Must you question everything? It is not as if The Lady shares all her thoughts with us over a glass of warm blood! We want to talk to Sookie without your presence because we don’t wish her to be influenced by you. You saved her life, she might feel obligated to not leave you and try paying her debt off first. You have kept her locked in a room. What sort of happy life is that for her and the baby? Have you thought about that?”
I looked at Eric to see how he would react. We’d had big arguments over locking me up too. I wanted to know if he would have an answer for these old important vampires different from the one he gave me about the need to protect me.
Other than a slight narrowing of eyes, Eric didn’t show any other signs that he was annoyed with the direction the discussion had gone.
“She needs to be protected.” He said.
“She needs to heal. And that baby needs to be cherished.” Calla pinched her nose with two fingers in a very human way. “All we know is that the baby is meant for great things. Miss Stackhouse needs to come into herself to raise him or her as they deserve to be raised. The Lady offers her protection and resources for both mother and child. Before making the decision, maybe Miss Stackhouse would like to meet with Her Ladyship, ask what questions she has of her. We would prefer if that happens without a huge Viking looming at her back.”
This was news to me. They knew something about my baby. The Oracle Lady had seen something about the little life in me.
I knew he or she was special and powerful, having already shared power with me to escape Faerie. I was constantly aware of the spark cradled in my womb, sentient and so alive, trying to warm me up when I grew cold, trying to love me from within when I felt lonely. The feeling of protectiveness and sheer love for my baby was the only reason I could break my chains and run in the first place. That life was bright but so fragile right now. It needed protecting and it needed me to be a worthy mother. I had started having nightmares where I was too weak to care for my little fae, or too stupid. I was afraid those nightmares would eventually come true and I’d fail my baby just as I had failed myself.
Would they really help me heal and become the person my child needed me to become?
And if these people knew something about my baby that I didn’t, then I needed to know what it was.
Eric suddenly looked at me.
“You’ve decided something.”
“I need to go talk to the Ancient Pythoness.” I replied.
His stiff shoulders slumped. Was that relief or was that resignation?
“Ginger!” Eric yelled and the small blond woman entered the sitting room. “Get fresh juice and sandwiches for Sookie and Mr. Cataliades. Would you like some blood?” he asked the handmaidens.
They nodded and gave their preference to Ginger. Eric waited for Ginger to leave the room before addressing Calla again. Out of the two handmaidens, she seemed a little more inclined to clarify things we were asking about.
“I want to be able to talk to her.”
“You can talk on the phone. Or video conference if that eases your mind.” Calla shrugged. “I told you Miss Stackhouse will not be a prisoner.”
“If not a prisoner, what will I be there? At the Pythoness’s home? What’s expected of me?”
Calla looked at Desmond Cataliades. The strange Mr. Cataliades spoke without taking his eyes off the stamps he was putting on my spanking new passport.
“The Ancient one asked me to draft a contract for you. In exchange for your services as a consultant on vetting new connections, you will receive room and board, food, clothing and a stipend while in service to Her Ladyship. It is a standard employment contract. Northman here can take a look at it before he jumps out of his skin.”
Earning room and board sounded fantastic. And the stipend could go some way towards starting a nest egg for harder times. For the first time that evening, I felt some excitement towards my future prospects. What would it feel like to be gainfully employed? With a legal contract and everything?
“I’d like to read through this contract.”
Eric’s clipped command like words jarred me out of my happy thoughts. I glanced at Northman. He looked about ready to jump out of his skin. I wondered what made him forget to hide himself under his mask of marble smooth skin.
Calla fished out a file out of the pile of papers and handed it to Eric. He read through the pages faster than I could follow. Then he carefully put the file on the coffee table in front of him and got up.
“What? What does it say?” I asked Eric.
“Is this true? Can she really do that?” Eric asked Cataliades, ignoring me completely.
Desmond glanced at me before narrowing his eyes at the looming vampire.
“I drafted the contract based on information provided to me. I am not at a liberty to discuss the contents and their validity with anyone but the signee. You should ask your questions elsewhere.” He replied evenly.
Eric looked at me as if he was looking at someone new all over again. He was making me nervous.
“Are you a telepath? Have you been reading my mind?”
Oh God, this again.
How the hell did the lawyer, the Ancient Pythoness and her handmaidens find this crazy little tidbit about me? I hid this secret with my life. People thought me crazy, unhinged or demon possessed whenever they got even a hint of what I could do. Their first response was always to close off and attack me back, as if I was spying on them on purpose and would use that information to further my nefarious purposes. I had wanted to keep this secret for as long as I could. Turned out, things never went my way.
I looked at Eric and he looked pretty damn uncomfortable in my presence now. I mourned the loss of warmth in his eyes.
“No.” I tried to reassure him, “I can’t read vampires at all.”
“That’s what you say.”
I grit my teeth at the implication of being a liar.
“It’s the God’s honest truth. Surely you can tell whether I am being honest or not.”
I had meant to make him trust his instincts about me. But all my question did was make his glare colder.
“Your fae scent fucks up my judgment. I saw you, a clear victim of abuse, pregnant and dying, needing my help. And I helped, didn’t I? Now I hear that you have more magic than you let on. Telepathy is one of the most advanced talents of the fae, very few creatures have it, and all of those are magically strong fairies. What else might you be hiding? Was it all a trap?”
Of course, only a few fairies had that talent namely, her accursed family and whatever remained of it, I thought bitterly.
A trap, he said. He saw me as a trap.
The bits and pieces of hope for this vampire I’d been building up in my broken little heart started crumbling in the face of Eric’s suspicion. How stupid my daydreams of Eric always being my champion sounded right about now. How farfetched the hopes that we could be more…
I couldn’t help pity myself. I was a foolish girl who always rushed herself headlong into hoping that someone would truly see me, me, against all odds, when everyone else had not.
“How does it work exactly? Who can you read if not vampires?” Eric asked on, oblivious to the pain he had caused me, or maybe despite it since he could feel some of what I was feeling.
“Humans I hear loud and clear, each word they speak in their head. Clear enough, that I have to actively block them if I want to keep sane. The others, werewolves for example, in disjointed words and emotions.”
“Were you planning on telling me about your ability eventually?” Eric asked in an accusing sort of way.
His tone made my face heat up. It hurt, even as it made me feel like some sort of naughty child who should be embarrassed about messing up and hiding the evidence from the grownups. Given a little more time, I knew I would have told him about my telepathy and the fae spark I could work on a basic level. But we’d just met about a week ago, under very unfortunate circumstances. Why was I expected to share vital secrets with some stranger who saved my life but kept me imprisoned too?
Coming to think of it, what secrets about himself had he shared with me?
He had all the power over my life. And yet, he implied that he couldn’t trust me anymore. He was acting as if I had deliberately misled him. I knew that he wasn’t being fare, and yet I was feeling guilty. My treacherous head even now was thinking about ways I could make it up to him, make him happy with me again, because apparently, I had become that much of a sucker for approval.
The whole exchange reinforced for me that I was messed up and I needed to woman up and get better. Leaving Louisiana started looking a little better than it had been fifteen minutes ago.
“Well?” Eric prompted, almost glaring at me.
What had he asked? Oh yes, he asked if I had planned to tell him, eventually, about the telepathy.
“Maybe. But we haven’t known each other long. So, I don’t know.” I replied.
He huffed and turned away from me and I acutely felt the loss. What was it about him that affected me so much? Was it that he was the first person who showed me kindness in a long while or was it something more? Was it his blood that connected us or was it fate? Was I just plain pathetic? I felt like crying.
I think I was crying.
I didn’t get the chance to question Eric’s behavior or my irrational need to make him happy further because Mr. Cataliades declared he was done with the paperwork and called me to put my thumb impression on some IDs. I discreetly wiped my cheeks and got up to finish the paperwork. As we did that, Ginger entered with a trolley of refreshments and beverages and I suddenly realized how hungry and thirsty I was.
“Right then. Eat up Miss Stackhouse and we can be on our way.” Calla picked up an empty plate and thrust it in my hands with a little nudge towards the sandwich tray.
I filled my plate with cut fruit and mini sandwiches. I sat down, carefully chose a sandwich and bit into the rich cheese filled bread. A few bites in, washed down with a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and I could think above my teary hungry pregnancy hormones again. I looked at Eric’s back as he stood stiffly in front of a window, watching the darkness outside. For some reason, biting into the next sandwich made my eyes water some more. Was there raw onion in there?
Calla resumed talking after she was satisfied that I was eating.
“So, you will be employed by the Lady and will live in our house with the other sisters. Like all of us in her employ, you will be free to come and go, do what you wish with your money, carry a cell phone et cetera. The Lady’s protection will stand even if you leave the house and decide to live on your own. The contract doesn’t bind you to stay with us, with our commune. Although I’d suggest that you give serious thought to living with the others for the coming future. We have other supe mothers and children and you’ll need help with the pregnancy and the baby. What we do expect is your services as a consultant and for that you will get prior notice of meetings, as much as possible. If your health permits, you will be expected to travel around the world, wherever the Lady travels to. You will receive medical insurance, as is standard for all consultants agreeing to work with supes. You will be a legal contracted employee, working and living in a community of many supernatural beings, not hiding away or on the run or locked up.”
At this she gave Eric a pointed stare which rolled off of Eric as far as his reactions went.
Me? I thought it all sounded too good to be true. However, I had a feeling that this was right, and that I should take them up on their offer.
This surprisingly accurate radar of right or wrong, safe or dangerous, had been growing in me steadily since some time. I had a couple theories about it. One was that in the face of my battered confidence and paralyzed decision-making abilities, the survival instinct in me coupled with the protective mom sense I was developing, had taken to show me the path to safety when I was blind to it. The other more outlandish one was that my child had a knack of knowing what was going on and which way we should go, and made me do what he or she wanted. Call me a fool but I believed in the latter more than the former.
I cradled my stomach and gave the baby a mental hug. In response, I felt a sudden pulse from my little peanut. It was happy and satisfied and wanted me to take this trip to Greece. I got the distinct picture of puppy eyes, exactly in the way my telepathy would have picked up the emotion from a supernatural. This was new. My child had never done this before. Other pregnant moms got kicked in the gut. I got telepathic puppy eyes for trips overseas.
“I’ll go.” I declared and felt immediately at peace with what I was going to do. It didn’t even look so scary anymore.