I awoke a couple of hours before sunset as I normally did these days. I didn’t think I would probably sleep this late if I wasn’t pregnant, but I’m not complaining. I loved spending as much time as I could with Eric and I had been getting plenty of it. We both knew that as soon as the baby arrived life would change for the both of us, and the honeymoon would be over.
I got up, took a long, hot shower, and then had breakfast before I went back to bed to sit with Eric. Tonight he was leaving for the takeover that was to take place tomorrow.
I didn’t know how I would be able to continue if he died while trying to insure our freedom. I had never loved anyone as much as I loved Eric. These last few months had been the happiest I’d ever had.
I looked down at Eric’s angelic face and trailed my fingers over his cheekbones, jaw, and lips. “You really are the most handsome man I’ve ever seen,” I said to him. I lightly kissed his lips, and then lay down to snuggle him trying to get as much of my body touching his as I could. It would be a couple of days before I would see him again, and I knew that it would also be very stressful.
I ran my hand over Eric’s abs and chest. “I love you. Do you know how much I love you?”
To my surprise Eric said, “I do,” I hadn’t realized that I had been lying here as long as I had.
“I didn’t realize you were awake yet,” I said as I tried to get my heartbeat under control.
Eric chuckled as he climbed on top of me as best as he could with my large belly, which wasn’t very close at all. He was up on his hands and knees hovering over me.
“I can tell. Your heart is beating very quickly. I thought you knew I was awake or I would have done something to let you know I was,” he said with a smirk. “What were you thinking that had your thoughts so far away?”
I hated that I was so worried about anything happening to Eric. I didn’t want him to think that I didn’t have confidence in him, but if anything happened to him …
Eric leaned down and brushed a tender kiss onto my lips. “Don’t worry. I’ll be back as soon as I can. Nothing’s going to happen to me,” I nodded my head. Eric placed another kiss on my lips, and then moved south to kiss my belly.
“How are my girls doing today?” he asked as he placed his ear lightly down on my stomach to listen to our daughter.
“She’s good. Kicking up a storm lately.”
I watched as Eric placed his large hand where a hand or foot had just appeared.
“She knows your voice,” I said while running my hands through Eric’s hair. “She’s always more responsive when she hears you.”
Eric smiled a big, beaming smile before he whispered something in Swedish and placed another kiss on my belly before coming back up my body.
“I’d like to make love to my wife before I have to go,” Eric said before kissing me passionately.
Eric laid down behind me, pulling my leg over his. He kissed my neck and shoulder while lightly kneading my breasts. I turned my head toward him so I could kiss him. Our kisses were slow, but burning with passion. I never wanted this to end. We might not be able to have the sex like we used to, but Eric could still pleasure me like no other.
Eric circled my clit with light strokes while moving in and out of me with long, slow thrusts. I could feel our pleasures building together. I turned my body as much as I could toward Eric. Our mouths collided and we swallowed each other’s moans as wave after wave of our combined orgasms crashed through our bond.
I lay there panting with tears cascading down my face. I was on emotional overload. Eric was somewhat used to me crying about everything and nothing. He still hated to see me cry, but I think he finally realized that my hormones were out of control with being pregnant.
Eric pulled my body to his, wrapped his arms around me, and caressed my hair. “Did I hurt you?” he whispered. I shook my head as best as I could. “Can you tell me what it’s about?”
I burrowed my face into his chest and began to sob. I didn’t think I could possibly describe what I was feeling to him or why I was crying. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t get myself under control and that he had to feel this coming from me through our bond.
“I’m sorry,” I said after a few minutes when I had finally calmed down some.
Eric pulled back and I could see the concern in his eyes. “What are you sorry for?”
“I don’t want you to go,” I said as my lip started to quiver again.
“I know,” he whispered, placing a kiss on my forehead. “I know. I’m doing this for our freedom. I promise I’m going to be fine. We have planned for two months now, so there should be no surprises. All will be fine.”
“I just worry,” I felt that’s all I had been doing for the last two months ever since I had heard that Eric would be the one to take out DeCastro.
“I know you do, but you don’t need to worry. This will be easy. Not very many know about the takeover, and the ones that do we trust not to deceive us.”
“If you see Sam, are you going to kill him?” I asked. We had found out a couple of days after seeing Bill that it was Sam who had informed DeCastro that I had returned. Eric hadn’t heard anything from his king, which was not the norm. His theory was that DeCastro knew I was pregnant, and was waiting until after the baby was born to take me away. It didn’t matter because after tomorrow night, he would be no more, and Eric would have an alliance with the three monarchs who would be taking over DeCastro’s states.
Sam had disappeared and been seen by one of Eric’s spies in Vegas with his Sookie look-alike girlfriend.
“I doubt I will see him, but, yes, I will kill him if I see him. I know you don’t like it, but he’s the one who told DeCastro that you were back. He knew you’d be taken away from here. Away from me,” he said in a menacing growl. “How could you ever trust him again?”
“I couldn’t and I understand. You know I hate people dying because of me, but I do understand.”
We lay there for a few more minutes. Our time was running out. Tears welled in my eyes once again. Eric ran his thumbs along my cheekbones, and then placed feather light kisses all over my face ending with a toe-curling kiss.
“I love you, my wife, and I will come back to you. That I promise. Please try to stop worrying. It’s not good for our dotter.”
“I know, and I’ll try my best,” I giggled at him using Swedish. “I hope you don’t plan on teaching our daughter Swedish and not me. I can’t be the only one that doesn’t speak it.”
“I will teach you any language you want to know,” he said with a smirk. “We need to get up and get ready before Pam and Alcide get here.”
My body stiffened and I tightened my arms around him, not wanting to part ways with him. Now or ever. Eric chuckled at me. “Just pretend you and Pam are having a girl’s night and I’m at work.”
“It will be hard to pretend that, and why would Alcide be here?”
“He can be your man-servant. Getting anything that you wish. Have him help you with finishing the baby’s room. I know Pam is planning on bringing everything over and setting it all up. That should keep you entertained.”
“I don’t want to be entertained. I want you home and safe.”
“Lover,” he sighed. “I know you don’t want me to do this, but I must. I know you’re worried about me, but I have been a fighter since my human days. I will not encounter anyone who is more skilled or older than I am. You want to be free from DeCastro, don’t you? You don’t want to always be looking over your shoulder waiting for something bad to happen, do you?”
“Of course not. I’m sorry, I’m just worried and I love you.”
“I know. As I love you. You’re starting to give me a complex that I’m not capable with all your worrying,” he said with a smirk, and then placed a quick kiss to my lips and shot off toward the shower.
“Are you going to join me?” He called from the bathroom.
How could I turn down the opportunity to get my hands all over his body one last time tonight?
Shortly after Eric left, Pam ordered Alcide to start bringing in all the furniture from the moving truck she had brought over. I wasn’t sure why Pam was having Alcide do it since she was the vampire and couldn’t get tired, but I wasn’t going to argue with her. I guess she didn’t want to break a nail or scuff up her designer pumps.
Pam already had the walls painted a light gray color and had very soft, plush carpet installed about a week earlier. Poor Alcide, I didn’t think he was ever going to stop bringing stuff in. I think we were both having the same thought. I caught one of his thoughts that the moving truck was never-ending. The boxes just kept coming. I felt bad, and if I wasn’t so pregnant, I would have helped him.
After Alcide had finally brought everything inside and we a short dinner break, Pam had Alcide back to work putting all the furniture together.
While the furniture was being put together, Pam decided that she would paint my toenails while we watched movies. That was fine by me seeing as it had been awhile since I had been able to paint my toenails, and I didn’t think Eric would want to do it.
“Pam, why is Alcide doing all the work of putting the nursery together?”
“He is just putting the furniture together, that’s why he’s here. I’m going to put the room together.”
“He’s here to protect me and help me during the day, not be your slave.”
“Seriously, Sookie,” Pam said while waving her hand in the air and rolling her eyes before going back to putting a coat of clear gloss on my toe nails. “You’re becoming such a bore these days.”
“I’m pregnant, Pam! I plan to stay out of trouble, have no one out to kill me, kidnap me, or anything like that once this takeover is finally done.”
“You used to be so entertaining.”
I awoke just a couple of hours before sunset. I was definitely living vampire hours. If it wasn’t summer, I probably would be. It would be interesting to see how much changed once the baby was here.
After showering and brushing my teeth, I went upstairs to find Alcide, and eat some breakfast. Alcide was sprawled out on the couch watching a baseball game. When he saw me walk into the room, he sat up a little straighter.
“Hey, Sookie. Did you sleep all right?”
“I did, except waking up to go to the bathroom every two hours. How’d you sleep?”
“Good. I have some breakfast in the oven for you if you’re hungry.”
“You didn’t have to do that. I’m sorry Pam put you to work last night, but I don’t see her putting all that furniture together, so thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Alcide said with a chuckle. “I don’t see her doing any labor and I’m sure you want that room done.”
“I do. Although I wish it was done before now.”
“We’ll get it done tonight. Everything just has to go into its place. Don’t worry.”
“I’ll try. I may stake her if it doesn’t get it done,” Alcide snickered at my comment. “I just need everything in its place.”
“You’re nesting and it’s typical for all pregnant women,” Alcide said with a smile. It was good to be back and have my friends in my life again. I may not have many, but the ones I did have were the best ones.
I went in search of my breakfast and found biscuits, sausage, and eggs in the oven. It had been a long time since anyone had cooked for me and this was some good cookin’!
“Alcide, you’re a really good cook. Thanks for making breakfast!” I yelled to him from the kitchen.
“I’m glad you like it. It probably gets a little lonely eating by yourself when you’re around so many vampires.”
“Eric normally sits with me and drinks a TruBlood while I eat for at least one meal a day. It’s just not very fun cooking for one. I’ve been making batches of stuff and freezing it. I’ve also been having dinner or lunch with Amelia or Jason at least once a week, so it’s not too bad. I’m not around too many vampires. Eric gave Pam Fangtasia so he’s only there two nights out of the week. He’s trying to get it down to one.”
“He gave Pam Fangtasia?” I nodded. “Wow. I can’t believe he did that.”
“I couldn’t either, but he didn’t want to spend all of his time there.”
“So what has he been doing with all his time now that he has more?”
“Spending it with me. We go out to dinner or watch TV, read, go shopping. Whatever we want. It’s been nice. It’s what we should have had before.”
“It’s good that you’re happy now. I can’t wait to see him with the baby.”
Alcide and I continued talking until Pam came down to the kitchen. I warmed her up a TruBlood, and once she drank it down in one gulp, she went upstairs to finish the nursery. It was nice having Alcide to talk to and try to get my mind off what Eric was doing tonight.
I tried to watch TV with Alcide, but I was too worried about Eric and all the vampires who were helping him with the takeover.
Pam was in the nursery for about two hours trying to make it actually look like a nursery. She had promised me it wouldn’t be so pink that Eric would never set foot in there.
When she came to get me, she insisted that she blindfold me. She placed her hands over my eyes and led me to the nursery. Once we were inside, she removed her hands to reveal one of the most stunning nurseries I’d ever seen! I stood in awe of what Pam had envisioned and accomplished!
Alcide whistled, “Wow! This has to be the nicest baby room on the planet!”
“Pam,” I said, but couldn’t say any more. Tears started trickling down my cheeks as I slowly walked around the room.
There was shelving with cute stuffed animals and baskets filled with baby products on them, a white changing table, dresser, a light pink chair, rug, and curtains. The crib was a brushed metal with pink and gray bedding, and above the crib was a beautiful mirror. Pam had even changed the lighting so there was a little chandelier hanging in the room.
I walked over to the crib and noticed the pink blanket hanging over the railing. I trailed my hands down the blanket until I got to the name that was embroidered on it. It was the softest blanket I had ever felt, but I was touched that Pam had our daughter’s name put on it.
Seeing ‘Ella’ written in calligraphy across the light pink baby blanket that was laid on the railing of the crib brought me back to how we came up with her name.
I was standing in the doorway of the nursery looking at the vacant room, about ready to have a breakdown. Eric came up behind me with his arms around my stomach, one hand on the top and one on the bottom almost as if he was supporting my ever-growing belly.
“What has you feeling this way? You weren’t in bed with me when I rose. You know I hate it when you’re not there.”
“I’m going to be a horrible mother. The nursery isn’t even done! Does Pam know when this baby is due? I need for this room to be done. I only have a few items of clothing! Pam said she’d take care of it and I’ve let her. What am I going to do? I’ve never even held a baby! I have no idea how to feed one! She could starve… I’ll have no idea why she’s crying! What if she hates me?” Eric went to speak, but I continued. The words left from my mouth faster than a flash of lightning.
“I won’t know how to burp her! What if I drop her while giving her a bath? The state will take her away from us! What happens if I don’t hear her in the middle of the night?” Pausing, I took in a deep breath and started sobbing. “And those ointments? What are they all for? How will I know which one to use and how much to put on? What am I talking about? I don’t even know how to change a diaper! Is she going to be laying on the changing table naked because her mother doesn’t know how to put a diaper on her?”
Eric chuckled, “First of all the state is not going to take our daughter away. I will never let that happen. I’ll glamour or kill anyone who tries.” This time it was me who tried to interrupt, but Eric placed a finger against my lips to stop me. He picked me up, took me into the living room, and sat us down on the couch.
“You are going to be a wonderful mother. I know you are. You’re the most kind and gentle person I know and I know you will never let anything happen to her. It’s all instinct. Once she’s placed in your arms you’ll know what to do. As for hearing her in the night, that’s what I’m here for. I will hear her if you don’t.”
“How do you know so much?”
“It’s because I’m an old man.”
I giggled at him. “You definitely are old. Aren’t you scared?”
“Of course, I’m scared. When I was human, the women did all the work. I didn’t have to do anything but provide for my family. I would have taught my sons to fight and use a sword, but I never got the chance,” he said and I could feel his sorrow. “When I was to marry Aude I was young, but it was my duty. I was nervous about taking my brother’s place in her and their children’s lives, but my mother told me to follow my instincts, that they had always led me well in the past and would continue to do so.”
I gave him a soft kiss and lay my head on his shoulder while snuggling up to him.
“What was your mother like?”
Eric was quiet for a minute, so I looked up and noticed he had a distant look on his face as he always did when he was thinking about his long past.
“She was strong like all Viking women were back then, but she was very beautiful and kind.”
“Does it bother you to talk about her, about when you were human?”
“It makes me sad sometimes when I talk about my family. I mourned the loss of my family for many years after I was turned, but until I met you I had not thought about them in hundreds of years. I am only sad that I don’t know what became of them and they didn’t know what happened to me. For them, I vanished. I never came home from a dinner with the family of the daughter I hoped would marry me.”
I couldn’t imagine what Eric must have gone through after he was turned, never being able to see his family ever again.
“Do you remember what your mother’s name was?” I asked him barely above a whisper.
“Her name was Ella,” he said while pulling me tighter into his body.
“What would you think if we named our daughter after your mother? How about Ella Adele Northman?”
“You would name her after my mother? You don’t want her to have your own mother’s name?”
“I wasn’t close to my mother. She always thought I was a freak and that my father paid me too much attention. I would like to honor you and your mother by giving our baby your mother’s name and giving her Adele for a middle name after my grandmother.”
After inspecting every little thing in the room, I finally looked over at Pam. She had a genuine smile on her face.
“Pam!” I exclaimed, and rushed over to her, which wasn’t too fast these days. It was more like a waddle. I gave her a quick hug and she patted my back awkwardly. “Thank you so much. It’s so beautiful!”
“Thank you. Now if only you could convince my Master to let me decorate the whole house…”
“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” I said while giggling.
Alcide left and went back into the living room after a few minutes. Pam and I stayed in the nursery looking at all the cute little baby clothes that were in the dresser and closet. I knew one thing; this baby would probably never have to wear the same outfit twice with the amount of clothes she already had. I had to remind Pam that the baby would grow.
“I know, and it’s going to be so much fun shopping for her. I hope that she won’t have your fashion sense, and she and I will become shopping buddies.”
I could only laugh at Pam. I knew she would try her hardest to make Ella into a fashionista just like her.
We stayed in the nursery for nearly an hour looking at everything. I knew what Pam was doing and I was grateful. Yet no matter how hard she tried, I couldn’t get my mind off of what Eric might be doing that very moment and praying that he would be safe and come home to me in one piece.
Every second that passed felt like hours and the hours felt like days. Never had I been so anxious for a single phone call before, but I felt as if I was going to lose my mind if I didn’t hear that phone ring soon. The takeover was tonight, and I was waiting for Eric to call me and let me know that it was a success.
It was a little after four a.m. when I heard my phone ring. I tried to scramble to get the phone, but Pam reached it before me. She was speaking quietly in Swedish. I guess she didn’t want me or Alcide to know what they were discussing. I knew it was me by the side looks she was giving me. After a couple of minutes, she finally handed me the phone.
“Eric,” I said, not bothering to hide my anxiety or the concern in my voice.
“Hello, my love. How are you?” My heart fluttered at hearing the sound of his voice as relief washed over me.
“I’m fine now that I’ve heard from you.”
“I’m sorry this has been so stressful for you, but it’s all over and I’ll be home tomorrow.”
I closed my eyes, sinking into the couch with a sigh of relief. “How’d it all go? Was anyone hurt?” I asked.
“No, not even a scratch,” he assured me.
“He’s no more. You have nothing to worry about. We’re free from him.”
His words lifted a heavy weight from my shoulders that I hadn’t even realized was there, and a sense of peace and gratitude washed over me.
“Thank you, Eric.”
I could hear the smile in his voice and feel his love for me. “Anything for you, my love, my wife.”
“I really miss you. I hated waking up today without you there.”
“I miss you too. We are too far away from each other. I can feel the pull to get back to you.”
“I feel it too. I’ve never felt it before. Have you?”
“I have not. You know I’ve never been bonded before and our bond is very strong. We are not two people anymore.”
“What do you mean?”
“We are one now. We cannot live without the other.”
“I already knew I couldn’t live without you, but I’ve never felt this. Is it a bad thing?”
“No, it’s not bad,” he chuckled. “I like it very much. It’s nothing to worry about. I want you to get some rest now. We are on our way back to Mississippi as we speak and I’ll be staying there for the night. I won’t have time to get back home before the sun rises. I will leave as soon as I can tomorrow night. Can you do that for me?”
“Yes,” I said and took a deep breath. Eric was coming home tomorrow and everything was going to be okay.
“I need to go. We are going to be landing soon. I will see you when I get home tomorrow. No more worrying. I mean it.”
“Alright. See you tomorrow. I love you. Good night.”
“Good night, dear one. I love you.”
I hung up the phone and said my good nights to Pam and Alcide. I quickly stripped off my clothes and fell into bed. I pulled Eric’s pillow to my chest and took a deep breath in before closing my eyes. I fell asleep, and amazingly my bladder didn’t wake me up once through the night.
I could feel Eric getting closer and closer through the bond. I had a big smile on my face, and Alcide gave me a strange look, but I ignored him. Nothing was going to take away my happiness!
Alcide had been a good sport while he stayed here protecting me. I knew he was nervous that something might happen while Eric was away, but he never let it show. I felt bad that he must have been up all day with nothing to do, but he informed me that since he was up almost all night as well as the night before, he had slept most of the day away. Pam had really worn him out.
We heard a loud thud outside on the deck. Alcide stood in a protective stance in front of me until he saw it was Eric walking through the door.
Eric came strolling in as if he had just been gone to wash his car, not like he was coming home from a takeover where he could have died. Even though I knew he was okay, I was still anxious for him to be home with me.
Eric walked over to me, swooped me off the couch, and laid the mother of all kisses on me while he took us down to our bedroom. He strolled over to the bed and stopped abruptly. I turned to see what could have caused him to stop. Not much would stop Eric once he had his mind on sex. All I could see was the cradle from when I was a baby.
“Is that the cradle you mentioned?” he asked softly. I couldn’t place what he was feeling, but it wasn’t what he was feeling a few moments ago.
“Yes. Jason just finished fixing it up last week. Alcide went and picked it up for me before he came over the other night. There’s a crib in the nursery upstairs, but I thought it would be nice to have something down here with us. At least at first since I may be sore. Pam has another cradle for the living room.”
Eric placed me on my feet, and then sat down on the bed looking at the cradle. “It’s very small,” he said. I sat down beside him placing one hand on my stomach and taking one of his hands with the other.
“It is. Babies aren’t very big,” I said and squeezed his hand. After a long moment, Eric finally looked at me and gave me a sad smile.
“I had forgotten. It’s nice that you still have yours from when you were a baby,” I nodded, unsure what to say. Eric turned back and continued to stare at the cradle.
“Eric?” I said after a few minutes. “Do you want to talk about it?”
He pulled me closer to him, hugging me and placing a kiss on my lips. “I do not often think of the time when I was human. You are the only one I share it with. I had forgotten how small a baby was until I saw your cradle. It made me think of my other children for a moment. How I will never know what happened to them. What became of them. This time will be different. I will be there for everything I possibly can for our dotter.”
I wrapped my arms around him as tightly as I could. Tears were streaming down my cheeks. There had never been a doubt in my mind that Eric would make a great father. “I know you will,” I said and placed a kiss on his cheek.