Eric cradled Sookie in his arms as she wept softly, her tears scalding holes through his heart even as he held silent and let her release her emotions. Holding her was one of the easiest things possible, but holding her while she wept was one of the hardest, yet he made himself endure it. Somehow, no matter how badly his heart was breaking, he knew to just let her cry.
He also knew that he had a lot to think about, plans to consider and make, Dae to eradicate and a progeny’s future to decide, but for now comforting the center of his world mattered more to him than anything else.
And so he held her on his lap, his neck sheltering her flushed, tear-streaked face and his shirt clutched tightly in her palms. His hands were busy stroking her back and her hair as he bit his tongue to keep from saying anything that might deprive her of her right to this catharsis. He monitored the beating of her heart and the sound of her breathing and the small noises of the babe inside to make sure her health wasn’t affected, and although it was killing him, he let her cry.
Eventually her tears began to lessen, and though the bed in his safe-room was only a king, it still offered enough room for him to place Sookie on her side next to him so that he could gaze down into her face while he stroked his hand soothingly up and down her back. When his unborn daughter woke in due course from her mother’s stress and began moving, he drifted his hand from her back and began lightly massaging her enlarged abdomen.
Sookie hiccupped and looked up at him with shocked questions in her swollen, teary eyes.
“My dotter senses her mother’s distress and needs her far’s comfort,” he explained with a tiny but soft smile as he rubbed in small circles over her gently moving belly. His faintly thickened accent went unnoticed as did his deep relief that her tears seemed to be drying.
She blinked in amazement.
“You still…you still want her?”
The trembling uncertainty in her quiet voice broke his heart all over again, and Eric knew then that every member of the damned Pantelides clan would die and by his own hand if possible.
“Of course,” he answered, his tone calm and even in direct contradiction to the fiery need for vengeance flooding his soul. “She is of you and so is a part of me. Very soon, if the doctor approves of it, even more of my blood will flow through your veins and therefore through hers. She will be min dotter in both mitt hjärta and in mitt blod.” He shook his head then clarified, “She will be mine in my heart and in my blood.”
He raised fierce, burning eyes to boldly meet her gaze. The look he gave her demanded that she believe the depths of his intention, and without further doubts, she did.
She lifted a trembling hand to pull his head down and sealed what amounted to a vow with a chaste but heartfelt kiss.
When he raised his head slightly, she with a still tearful but now brilliant smile asked, “But she’s already had your blood through me before, hasn’t she?”
The need for vengeance now tucked in the back of his mind, burning hot but banked for the moment, Eric appreciated the joy glowing softly from his love’s eyes.
“Yes, but only a very tiny amount. Your body used what I gave you to heal your injuries so very little was, I guess you could say, left over for her. “
“But you think we should have more.”
Thankful that he didn’t detect anything but simple curiosity in her tone, he nodded.
“For some reason the Dae were adamant that you ingest no more vampire blood, especially mine which I conclude is because of my age and ability to track you through my blood, so if Ludwig approves it, you will have more.”
“I’ll hook you up a fucking IV,” he added with a growl.
Sookie laughed briefly, then fell silent. Eric watched as her expression fell from humor to contemplation, then to resolve.
“I hate that there was deception in how she came about. I was remembering earlier how things used to be between me and Steve, and I don’t know. It might be wishful thinking but I don’t think it was all deception, not at first anyway.”
“Whichever way I look at it, though, it looks different, you know what I mean? If I look at it one way, we were just two barely-compatible fools falling in lust and having a great time doing things I don’t want to talk to you about, but if I look at it another way, it’s obvious that he was trying to get me pregnant as soon as he could. I guess he was…,” her voice trailed off, but to Eric’s relief she seemed more reflective than angry or remorseful.
“Thank God it took forever or who knows what would have happened. From what Pam said it sounds like they would have kidnapped us both or…or stolen just her.” Sookie’s voice trailed off in horror.
A shiver ran down Eric’s back at the thought of either of those possibilities and he didn’t bother trying to control his fangs or the snarl that followed their fall.
The palm of Sookie’s hand cupping his cheek helped him assume at least the appearance of control…a thing he would not have until that Dae clan ceased to exist.
She continued speaking calmly.
“Either way and no matter what, though, I’m glad she’s here,” she finally said as she placed her hand over Eric’s where he’d been smoothing his palm over her stomach.
The baby gave an obliging kick that brought a small smile to both her parents.
“When she’s born, I’d like to have your name put on her birth certificate.”
Eric inhaled sharply.
Through large donations and no small amount of glamour – portions of both having come from him – vampires now had equal rights in most common situations. Unfortunately, however, a small but vocal “moral” minority faction had managed to obstruct vampires’ right to adopt even when part of a vampire-human marriage.
Adoption, however, wasn’t the same thing as being listed as the father by the delivering mother on a birth certificate.
“I’d like that,” he understated with a furious blink and instinctively pulled her just that much closer.
“Then consider it done,” she confirmed as she pretended she didn’t notice the faint rim of red in his eyes. Instead she burrowed her head into his chest, stretched out a little more, and enjoyed the simple bliss of recovering from her recent upset in the most secure place in her world.
If the events of that evening didn’t call for a bit of a nap before heading back home, nothing did.
Willa had quietly left the room but internally she was seething.
The sight of Sookie crumbling under the weight of all the deceptions…it would take quite a while for that to fade.
She couldn’t believe Pam. She’d known, of course, that her so-called “sibling” was a selfish, jealous, controlling bitch, but she would never have dreamed just how crazy the woman truly was.
She was off her fucking Prada rocker.
Did she actually think her excuses for depriving Eric of his right to make his own choices would work? Who did she think she was fooling?
There was no way she could convince herself that she hadn’t willingly betrayed Sookie – she probably hadn’t even bothered trying. She probably hadn’t even blinked a single eyelash as she more or less sold Sookie with her silence into a form of…of…
Willa couldn’t stand to think about it anymore just then and wisely changed her mind about going for a live feed. With the mood she was in she would likely drain some poor donor dry.
As she entered a more private area of the main bar and took a seat in Eric’s official booth that he very rarely used, she wondered where Sevrin was. When she’d left the office, he was still visible on the screen linked to Pam’s cell…maybe he was still down there?
The place where she wished her heart wasn’t felt a bit sore at the thought of tall, dark, and confusing.
She wondered how he had known what questions to ask Pam, how he would know if she was lying or whatnot, but figured it was a vampire gift of some sort. Something about it all tickled the back of her mind, but just then she couldn’t be bothered trying to figure it out. She did wonder, however, when the hell her own gift would magically appear.
Her Maker was gifted, and from what Pam had told her during Eric’s absence, their grandMaker had been very strong and extremely powerful, and he had had several gifts of his own, so she knew she came from a strong line. Even Pam had a gift. She and Eric had both told her that sometimes it took years for a vampire’s gift to make itself known, though, so being impatient about it wouldn’t do her any favors.
Although the bar was crowded, a waitress very quickly appeared at her table, and Willa gave her order for two heated bottles of the ‘private stock’ Eric kept reserved for himself and special guests, then scanned the crowd with eyes more alert than usual.
From what Pam had said, this Pantelides clan had some way of keeping tabs on her interactions with Eric. She didn’t doubt it, but she just couldn’t quite believe they could somehow keep tabs on every single movement Pam made.
Every single movement?
As if they followed her around from sun-down to sun-up just waiting to see if she held her mouth wrong.
Willa rolled her eyes.
As if dear darling Pam had forgotten how to, what, write a fucking note? Send a fucking text?
The waitress reappeared with her order and interrupted all the various ways Willa had obsessively cataloged that Pam could have used to let her Maker know what was going on.
The “message left in cat litter in Eric’s sleeping quarters” might have been a bit farfetched, but damn.
Pam most certainly could have warned Eric in over 200 ways that she’d thought of in the time it took a waitress to find, heat, and deliver two bottles of fucking blood.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Fucking bitch hadn’t even thought about trying. She saw a way to get Sookie out of the way and took it so fast she probably thanked the Dae for the excuse.
Willa angrily chugged one $25.00 bottle of the spendy blood and didn’t even notice the highly touted flavor.
Feeling faintly guilty over having wasted the “exquisiteness” of the first bottle, she savored the second as she pondered how Eric must be feeling about the situation.
Their bond had been more muted than normal since just before she and Sookie had exited the restroom, and while she’d felt a couple spikes of temper and loathing since, that was all she’d felt from him. She was somewhat glad that he’d muted the bond since she had a damn good idea about what he would be feeling, but she wished she knew how to make it all somehow…better.
If Sevrin were around she’d ask him, but since he wasn’t she contented herself with scanning faces and sipping her rapidly cooling blood.
She rolled her eyes again – like she knew what all the Dae in the world looked like.
While she didn’t for a moment buy Pam’s excuses, she also didn’t doubt that the damn Dae were somehow watching everything that went on in the public areas; it only made sense if they were wanting to secure the consent-irrelevant babymaking services of a telepathic fairy-hybrid. Despite all the prevaricating and self-delusion, Pam’s fear had been real…too bad none of that fear had been for Sookie and none of the erstwhile “concern” had been for her Maker.
Before long the constant noise of the bar, and the constant searching for a Sevrin who hadn’t appeared, started wearing on her nerves. With a low growl of frustration, she decided to head back to Eric’s office on that floor and grab the keys to one of the spare SUVs he kept around for whatever reason. It had been a long night in that short amount of time and she was more than ready to go home.
Ten feet from the door to his office Willa felt a stream of fire enter the side of her neck, and the world went black.
**A/N: The writer has officially gone into hiding. If you feel you have reached this recording in err…erm, wrong message…hang on…: If you murder the writer, you won’t find out what about Willa? Yeah? Ok, that’ll work, but the writer is still in hiding.
You know how I normally reply to all comments/reviews, right? I apologize for not having had the time to get to them yet and figured you’d like a new chapter to read while you’re waiting on my intelligent, witty, smart-ass’d and/or explanatory replies. Was I right? (You get the idea. I’m still aww’ing over Eric so my attention may be drifting.)
So, what did you think? I truly do adore and appreciate your comments and reviews as evidenced by Ch. 26’s sudden appearance! (That and Eric was being chatty.)**