“So what are you gonna name our little girl?” Willa plopped down on the sofa beside Sookie and immediately reached a hand toward her slightly even larger, to vampire eyes at least, abdomen before automatically stopping.
The dark-haired vampire had read somewhere recently that just because a woman happened to be pregnant didn’t give anyone the right to automatically invade her personal space and start petting her belly as though it were a cuddly animal. The fact she sat approximately three inches away from her best friend wasn’t included in the ‘personal space’ definition.
Dark green and rather firmer than most sofas to help Sookie with the complicated task of rising, the piece of furniture they sat on was new just like every other piece in the new den of the new house they all now suddenly inhabited. Although the house itself wasn’t new – it had been built in the late ’00s but never lived in – all furnishings, appliances, linens, pillows…even the items in the kitchen, were.
Sookie and, to a lesser extent, Willa were both still trying to catch their proverbial breath.
It turned out that when provoked by war, fury, or a simple sonogram of an endangered little girl baby, Sevrin was a breathtaking whirlwind of Class 5 intensity…with incredible wealth and a horde of connections at his disposal.
He had acted normally after returning the image to Sookie and, although Eric had raised his brows at the dark mountain a couple times as they left the hospital and stopped off at several of Sookie’s favorite all-night restaurants for to-go orders, Sevrin had said nothing.
Once back at Eric’s safe house, he had simply nodded at the trio hanging out in the kitchen before stalking off to some other area of the house with his phone in his hand…and completely missed Eric’s calculating gaze.
An hour or so later and in a normal tone meant to rouse no suspicions, he had called Eric’s name. Approximately half an hour before sunrise Eric had returned to Sookie’s side. En route to their room, she had asked him about behaviors which had finally seemed ever so slightly odd to her, but he had soothed her worries with vaguely truthful language and, once alone, far more pleasurable actions.
Sookie’s routine continued as normal the next three days and two nights – waking, peeing, showering with Edna’s increasingly necessary assistance, eating, peeing, drinking the orange supplement, eating more…peeing again…then being very happy to see Eric, and Willa and Sevrin, when they would rise for the evening.
All were splendidly concerned for the health and safety of both her and her baby. Even though it was more than obvious that Eric wanted to remain by her side at all times, he still had to go into the club for various reasons. Thalia had reluctantly accepted the promotion which technically named her his Second, but at this point there were many tasks that only Eric could accomplish.
That the tasks had more to do with investigating those who would harm his fairy and his baby girl than anything concerning business was highly relevant, but he didn’t want to worry her in her condition nor did he wish to raise suspicious should the Dae still be watching Fangtasia. He never wanted her to worry, of course, but at this stage he wasn’t risking anything. He’d made a point of never lying to her, however, and did relay a few facts to her as they became known.
With the additional investigative network of the quietly but lethally pissed-off mountain combined with his own, he had been glad to finally state with assurance that their Dr. Ludwig truly was trustworthy.
Unfortunately the same could not be said of her indistinguishable littermates Carlene and Darlene. One of them, and they had yet to discern which as both went by “Ludwig”, was indeed working with the Dae; perhaps they both were to varying extents, but one apparently had far fewer scruples than the other who seemed to be genuinely researching propagation difficulties but was morally disinclined toward testing theories on unsuspecting fairy hybrids.
Apprehending the two gruff triplets was proving even trickier than they’d thought, and they were already aware that their kind could teleport and, if touched in a way they found threatening, their skin could cause blistering burns. Eric had contacted a trusted coven of powerful witches – Octavia Fant’s old coven – who were looking into methods and means.
Dr. Ludwig – Marlene – had not been told of the investigations and suspicious yet, and would likely remain out of all loops as long as possible.
According to Cataliades, with whom both Eric and Sevrin had recently been in seemingly constant contact, Mr. Pantelides was ‘noticeably touring several projects on the Continent’ and hadn’t been seen in North America for weeks. No one believing the demon to be ignorant of modern communication devices, the information was taken for what it was – an essentially useless attempt at an alibi. Sevrin’s “continental” contacts – some paying off owed debts, others hired at top rate – were keeping an eye on the old demon’s activities and associates.
When the old demon sneezed, it’d be in a report. Apparently that ‘esteemed’ older Dae had allergies.
The other old demon, the one who was actually trusted, expanded his search into not just top Dae families known for having reproductive difficulties and the financial resources to attempt to do something about it, but other species that might be inclined toward wanting fertile fairy-hybrids and their offspring. The reports were not encouraging.
The move came during the fourth night after Sookie’s visit to the supe hospital.
Eric, fully supportive of and involved in what had initially been Sevrin’s plan, had kept mostly quiet about everything. He had briefly mentioned to Sookie the potential need for relocation, had been pleased with her somewhat resigned but mostly accepting attitude, and had quietly and quickly made appropriate plans for his local businesses. Mr. Cataliades was handy in quite a few ways and could safely be counted on to hire the right people to capably tend to the lot.
Even then Eric hadn’t been certain what he’d have done if Sookie had raised hell at the idea of moving, but the move would have happened regardless. Although he’d realized all along that they couldn’t remain in their somewhat convenient present location forever, relocation options had proven unexpectedly difficult – he had no way of knowing which sites had been compromised by Pam’s association with the scum-dae.
But…even with all the security and evasive maneuvers associated with their current residence, their safety could have been compromised there at any time, too. Sevrin’s burst of what Eric could only describe as “familial affection” couldn’t have erupted at a better time.
Thalia was the only person at the club who knew of his plans and even she didn’t know the upcoming location. He’d strongly debated between leaving her in charge of Fangtasia in case the Dae decided to rear their ugly heads there again or bringing her along, but in the end decided to keep her in place for the moment. She could always be flown in later. To his surprise, she’d bluntly expressed her willingness to join them should her presence be needed.
Eric may have been a bit surprised with Willa’s intuitiveness had he known of it. She had definitely figured out that something was up. Despite her technical inexperience in such situations, she wasn’t a politician’s daughter for naught. When firm-faced men began meeting in other rooms alone and having whispered conversations that stopped when she entered hearing range, something was definitely up…especially when neither male seemed the least bit interested in having an affair with the other.
And then there was the rather telling fact that Sevrin acted in no way unusual… Bless his heart, but that was the biggest clue of all – no one naturally acted “in no way unusual” – they just couldn’t. She knew her Maker and the drop-undead gorgeous mountain of a vampire who held her so gently as she fell into her daysleep would never allow harm to come to either her or Sookie or that unborn baby, so she left them be…for the most part.
Her eavesdropping talents came in handy, though, and so she knew by the second night that a move was coming, but figured the guys had their own reasons for not wanting to upset Sookie with the news. So she quietly gathered and packed the things she would want to bring with her in case “time to pack” wasn’t going to be a thing that happened, and did the same with Sookie’s accumulated possessions.
Thankfully the results of the preggo’s online ordering adventure had been delivered to Edna’s address and the Were had brought all the new stuff by when she came to work, and much of that stuff lived in an unopened pile in the blonde’s closet and would be easy to gather and shove into a bag…whenever.
As for Sevrin… Sevrin glowered, plotted, made phone calls, sent emails, received emails, and grunted…until that fourth night.
That night, he switched into “visible” high gear.
He and Eric had been busy on their phones, burner and otherwise, in the living room while Sookie and Willa had been in the kitchen giggling over something called “onions and strawberries” when both males had paused then exchanged satisfied glances.
As the sound increased, both grinned. Although for various reasons an exact time couldn’t be pinned down to the second, they’d arranged for the private plane to do a fly-by over the house en route to the nearby hidden area they were using as an airstrip. While both had easy access to any number of planes and private jets – some of which were their own – the likelihood of having their flights targeted was simply too high.
The night had finally come, though. They could easily load up the two SUVs with people and belongings, haul ass to the barely accessible but quite literal long, narrow field, ditch the vehicles for Edna’s son to bring back to the safe house, and be on their way.
Sookie had been far less surprised at Sevrin’s sudden order to pack what she needed for now than Eric had thought she’d be. When he’d voiced his concern as Willa blurred to pack for Sookie and herself while Sevrin gathered the orange supplement and whatever else from the kitchen in a blur, her reply had caused several snickers throughout the house.
“Eric, I’ve survived a lot of things in my life – from all the problems that go along with telepathy to ugly court procurers to a trumped-up insane faepire asshole who thought he owned me because some dead ancestor decided he had the right to sell me…the list goes on. With all that under my belt, sweetie, I know when guys are plotting about something. And besides, you were just too casual the other night when you oh-so-casually mentioned something casual about moving.”
After smilingly shaking his head, Eric had kissed his sweetheart and blurred to pack the few things he’d wanted to bring then finished in the kitchen while Sevrin left to do the same.
Within five minutes, the SUVs had been loaded with people and bags, and a cooler, and were on the road.
Eric had left a brief note for the as-yet uninformed Edna stating that they had moved temporarily to an undisclosed location for safety but that she was to continue her daily shifts as though nothing had changed, to notify him immediately of anything unusual, and to inform absolutely no one of their leaving. Her son was aware of the situation but knew no details but any place they might talk could well be bugged therefore the location would not be shared.
Undisclosed locations outside Greensboro, N.C. needed to remain undisclosed. After all, who would expect them…there?
It had become obvious during the past couple nights that Sevrin had more than a few high-quality “acquaintances” in multiple fields and in numerous locations.
So did Eric.
The house came courtesy of the child of a child of a friend. It had been designed with vampire life in mind, the vampire being on the disgustingly wealthy side of well-off and possessing adored human companions whose needs had been seamlessly incorporated into the plans. The vampire in question had lost interest in the place soon after its completion and had apparently forgotten its existence. Thanks to the auspices of the friend, the friend’s grandprogeny had been able to quietly acquire the house with surrounding acreage.
Many monetary units traveled through appropriate Swiss banks that night.
After being assured of the acquisition – aided of course by the always-amenable Dae Cataliades – Eric had set in motion all that was needed to fully furnish the place from top to bottom…bedrooms, dens, kitchens…the whole 9-yards (squared)…in two nights.
Between Sevrin and Eric and with the not-inconsiderable help of Desmond (and his nieces), within a total of three and a quarter nights, a suitably large and surprisingly appropriate but relatively unknown property including generous acreage had been purchased, furnished, and outfitted for mortal and immortal occupation.
The move could possibly have happened the night before had the Dae’s nieces been more aware of the kitchen needs of a pregnant mortal.
Once in the air being piloted by “a trusted Were” hired by Cataliades and co-piloted by Desmond himself, Eric and Sevrin soothed a mildly ruffled Sookie with photos of the empty interior of her future abode. With four compete vampire suites below ground, and guest rooms for four more, and four complete “mortal” suites on the ground floor, and guest rooms for four more, there was more than enough room for everyone. The secure and light-tight but ground level garage was large enough for the ‘housekeeper’s quarters’ above it to easily hold four to six staff members.
The place was so large it would need that staff.
Sookie especially liked the size of the ground floor den and the layout of the mortal’s kitchen, but thought the same rooms in the vampire’s level were cute given that they were a bit smaller. Once assured that the place was now fully furnished, although she could certainly add or change anything she wanted, she was fine…and sleepy.
The flight seemed to take just long enough for her to fall fully asleep not too long before being woke up, and so it was a slightly grumpy Sookie…who had to pee…who descended from the plane in Eric’s strong and secure arms. As Sevrin, Willa, and the lawyer saw to the unloading of a rather massive amount of baggage, Eric escorted Sookie into the office building at the private and apparently empty airstrip.
Once her mission in the single-occupant lady’s room was complete, they hit the road in the matching SUVs waiting for them beside the small office. Cataliades’ contacts had performed their tasks well – the large gleaming black vehicles he and Sevrin had purchased sight-unseen came with all possible options and a new-car smell that made Sookie sneeze.
Desmond and the Were flew on to Washington, DC where the attorney was to begin side-investigations of several suspicious, and highly corrupt, congressmen.
The private airstrip they had chosen was located more than an hour away from their final destination which gave them plenty of time to ensure that they weren’t followed. Although the drive seemed to take forever, Sookie and her vampire passengers couldn’t help but notice how much greenery – light forests, fields, and over-grown patches slowly being reclaimed by nature – lined the four-lane road Eric had chosen. They passed quite a few turn-offs to small towns but all were glad that Sookie hadn’t needed to stop. The urge to get settled in at the new house for both convenience and security was strong.
Willa and Sookie were both amazed that a high-voltage electrical fence enclosed the entire four-acre site and both pondered aloud about how much that alone must have cost. The gated entrance required a security code. Eric used the one that had been sent to them via the child of the child of the friend, then promptly changed it. He drove ahead several feet, met Sevrin to give him the new numbers, and made a mental note to share the new code with The Flowers.
Judging by a light sniff of the air, they were inside the house where they’d all planned to meet.
He hoped like hell Sookie and Willa got along well with their new daytime/nighttime/anytime guards. Within twenty minutes, he was slightly afraid that maybe they would all get along a little too well…
Cataliades’ beloved nieces Gladiola and Diantha had both rather eagerly agreed to “helpasistahout” (Diantha) and “dowhatthey could to makeherlife better” (Gladiola).
To Eric’s consternation, when he and his party first arrived, that apparently involved basically kidnapping his Sookie with cries of “ohsweetieyoulooksotiredandmiserable” (Diantha) and “comeon overhere, let’ssityou downand water you – you lookquitedry” (Gladytoherfriends). At first Sookie appeared quite overwhelmed with the chaos that would always surround the sisters, but within minutes and after several requests to repeat their words slowly, she and Willa were laughing along with their new guards and helpers.
To Eric, the look on Sevrin’s face had been priceless. Although the dark mountain had encountered the sisters years before, they, their fashion “sense”, and their method of communication were still just as bizarre as ever. Their innately solicitous treatment of the telepath, and to almost the same amount with Willa, had been a relief to see, though, so he knew Sevrin would…deal.
The fact that they had taken over two of the suites above the garage – well away from the vampire’s underground quarters – would help.
It hadn’t been long until Sookie’s exhaustion had caught up with her, so after eating a surprisingly ok-smelling light dinner prepared by Gladiola, she had gladly allowed Eric to escort her down to what would be their daytime quarters.
As he tucked her in and gently rubbed her back as she fell asleep, he’d mentally reviewed the growing list of things he wanted to do before going into his own rest. Within moments she was softly snoring, so as his first task, he checked the small “vampire” kitchen and found it well-stocked with what he considered light, medium, and heavy snacks, and quite a few frozen dinners she could easily heat up in one of the three microwaves. One drawer even held utensils and cotton swabs. The fresh loaf of bread on the counter combined with the items in the large refrigerator said she could easily make herself any number of sandwiches, and the amount of bottled liquids told him that hydration wouldn’t be a problem, either.
A separate refrigerator held several flats of blood bags and several gallons of milk.
Satisfied with that small stockpile, he decided all else could wait until the morrow – the pull to ease himself down beside his Sookie and slip into downtime until the sun rose was too alluring to resist.
**A/N: Yeah, yeah, I know…we didn’t get an answer to Willa’s question in this chapter, but it was rather busy anyway, right? Were Sevrin and then Eric right to get on the mountain-moving ball? So…what did you think?**