I woke up in the arms of my Viking and snuggled back into his chest for a few minutes before I had to take care of those pesky human necessities. It was my second day back, and I had decided to call Amelia to see if she would have lunch with me at Merlotte’s. That way I would be able to see Sam and, if anything went wrong, then I knew Amelia would get me out of there. I called Jason and left a message saying that I was back, but living in Shreveport, and to call me when he had the chance. I didn’t want him to hear that I had been at Merlotte’s and hadn’t tried calling him. We may not have been on the best of terms before I left, but I knew how much I would hate it if he had been gone for so long and just shown up without calling me.
Amelia answered on the second ring, “Hello?”
“Hey Amelia, it’s Sookie.”
“Sookie! Oh, My God! I can’t believe it’s you. How are you?”
“I’m good. I’m sorry it’s been so long since we last spoke, but I have news…”
“Oh Sookie, you have no idea how good it is to hear from you!” Amelia exclaimed. I could practically feel her happiness radiating through the phone.
“It’s so good to hear your voice,” I said with a smile on my face.
“So, what’s the news?”
“I’m back. Well, back, but I’m in Shreveport. I thought we could have lunch and catch up. I have so much to tell you.”
“You’re lucky you caught me. I was just on my way to lunch! Where do you want to meet?”
I looked at my phone and realized that it was almost noon. I should have set my alarm so I could have gotten up earlier. I hadn’t even looked at the time before I used the phone.
“How ‘bout Merlotte’s? Say in about an hour and a half? Are you at work?”
“I’m at work, but it should be okay for me to have my lunch later,” she said, and then made a high-pitched squeal. “I’m so excited to see you! I’ve missed you so much!”
“I’ve missed you too. I need to get ready, but I’ll see you around 1:30.”
“I can’t wait,” Amelia said and I could hear the smile in her voice before she hung up.
It was going to be so good to have Amelia back in my life. Not as good as having Eric, but I knew that I couldn’t spend all of my time with him. I missed having friends, something I had avoided while I was in Rockland. I needed someone to spend time with during the day although I did plan to shift my hours more toward Eric’s.
I took a quick shower, dried my hair, threw it into a ponytail, put on some mascara and lip-gloss, and picked out a new sundress that I had bought recently. It would hide my pregnant belly more than anything that I currently owned. I knew that I would soon have to buy some maternity clothes or I would have nothing to wear. I also knew Eric would be happy if I walked around naked all day, well, maybe not once I turned into a whale, but I planned on getting out of this house every once in a while, and I’d need something to wear. Eric and I were going to need to have a serious talk soon about me working and money.
After getting ready, I wrote a quick note to Eric letting him know that I went to meet Amelia for lunch at Merlotte’s. I planned to be home before sundown, but I wanted to let him know where I was just in case. I gave him a quick kiss and left the note on his bedside table.
The closer I got to Bon Temps and Merlotte’s, the more nervous I became. I should have scheduled lunch somewhere in Shreveport, but I didn’t really know the area yet, and I really wanted to see Amelia and Sam. I looked down at my dress and I thought that it really did hide my pregnancy quite well. It wouldn’t in a couple of weeks, but for now, people would probably just think that I had put on a little weight.
When I pulled up outside of Merlotte’s, Amelia was stepping out of her car. She looked just like I remembered her, except now she looked much happier. She had on a pair of khaki pants and a light pink twin set with loafers. Total soccer mom.
The thought made me giggle. That could very well be me in a few years, but Eric would never be able to go to any games during the day. While I knew he would be a good father, there were going to plenty of things he would miss out on. We’d just have to buy a good video camera so he could watch later. I’d make sure that he wouldn’t miss out on anything if he didn’t have to. Seeing Amelia wave from behind her car pulled me out of my thoughts and my car.
Amelia hugged me tightly after I walked up to her, and then drew back looking at my stomach in total shock.
Oh My God! Is Sookie pregnant? Did she find a boyfriend while she was away? I thought she said she was back.
“Let’s go inside, Amelia, and I’ll explain.”
Amelia blushed knowing that I’d heard her thoughts. I linked my arm with hers as we strolled into Merlotte’s. The whole restaurant stopped talking the moment they saw us walk in. Sam looked up from behind the bar, and he didn’t look happy to see me at all. Maybe I had ruined the friendship I had always had with him, but he was always telling me to get away from all the vampires in my life. He quickly schooled his features and came around the bar to give me a hug, and I tried to keep him away from feeling my stomach. I heard him take in a deep whiff of my scent, and then his brain went redder than ever and his emotions were all over the place.
None of them were good.
I stepped back and plastered on my ‘Crazy Sookie’ smile. “Hey Sam! It’s so good to see you.”
“It’s good to see you, too. Where have you been?”
“I was up North, but I’m back living in Shreveport now.”
“Shreveport? Why aren’t you back in your home here?” Sam asked.
“We’ll talk about that some other time. Amelia and I are here for lunch and to catch up.”
“Sure,” he said with a strange look on his face. “Sit anywhere you’d like and a waitress will be right with you. It sure is good to see you again. Are you at least back to stay?”
I put a genuine smile on my face, “I am, Sam. I’ve only been back a couple of days, but we’ll talk soon and catch up.”
Sam gave us a nod and went back behind the bar. I pulled Amelia to sit as far away from everyone as we possibly could. I didn’t need anyone hearing what we were going to talk about. I could hear all the patrons already whispering so I pulled up my shields as best as I could. I noticed that it was much easier than the other night at Fangtasia. Having Eric’s blood was definitely helping me block everyone’s thoughts.
A new waitress by the name of Maddy came over to take our order. Surprisingly, she strongly resembled me. She was around 5’5, blonde hair that was shorter than mine was before I cut it that went just past her shoulders, blue eyes, and she was curvy, though not as curvy as me. Amelia raised her eyebrows after Maddy left, giving me a questioning look.
“Is it just me, or does she look a little like me?” I asked Amelia.
“Thank God! I thought I was the only one who thought so. She’s also been dating Sam since about the second day that she started working here.”
“Well, I’m glad that Sam’s found someone even if she does look like me.”
“I think that’s the only reason he’s dating her,” Amelia said, trying to hide her smile.
I shrugged at her. I knew that Sam always had a thing for me, but I never thought he would go so far as to find a look-alike. I guess he thought I was never coming back and no one would make the connection. I snuck a glance over at the bar to look at Sam. He was staring over at us, but turned and started to wipe the counter once our eyes met. He was definitely acting strange, but I just attributed it to me having been gone for so long.
“So, are you going to tell me what’s going on?” Amelia asked, making me look back at her.
“Of course I am. That’s why I asked you to lunch. Where should I start?” All of a sudden, I was really nervous that Amelia would not approve of Eric being the father of our baby, and wouldn’t want to be friends anymore.
“How about you start with that?” she said and pointed to my stomach that was hidden behind my dress.
“As you could feel I’m pregnant,” I said, but Amelia’s patience was running out. She raised her eyebrows and motioned with her hands for me to continue. “I found out after I had been gone for about a month. I was planning on coming back until I found out. I didn’t want to come back to live in a town where everyone already thinks I’m crazy to then thinking I’m a whore. I don’t want my baby being raised around that.”
“I’m confused. Who’s the father? Before you left you were with Eric and I know that he wouldn’t let you be with anyone else.”
That time I raised an eyebrow at her. “See, that’s exactly what everyone will think. Everyone around here thought I only dated vampires, and then I show up pregnant.”
“I didn’t mean it like that. I’m sorry, Sookie. I’m not judging and I don’t think you would cheat on him.”
“I didn’t cheat on him,” I said, but thought ‘everyone is going to think I cheated on him. How am I going to live with everyone thinking that? How can Eric?’ “It happened when the fairies had me,” I said, and then looked down at my hands in my lap.
Amelia came around to sit next to me in our booth and put her arms around me, laying her head against mine. We just sat there silently hugging each other. I struggled to keep my shields up. I didn’t want to hear her pity or thoughts because that had been one of the main reasons I had left to begin with. Although I had healed and no longer had nightmares about it, I didn’t want to relive any of it.
“Thank you, Amelia. I really appreciate it.”
She smiled and went back to her seat. “So why did you come back? Not that I’m not happy, I am, but you could have made a life anywhere.”
“Eric found me.”
“What? How did he do that? No one knew where you were,” she asked surprised.
“After I found out I was pregnant, I stopped taking the potion. I didn’t want it to do anything that would harm the baby.”
“When did he find you?”
“Last month. He got in trouble with the King of Louisiana, and he came to look for me as soon as he could after he felt me in the bond.”
“How did that reunion go? I know you were afraid of how he might react if he found you.”
“It was awkward at first. I had written him a letter after I found out I was pregnant, telling him that I loved him and wished things were different, but I wasn’t coming back. When I first saw him, it was the first time I felt the baby kick. I couldn’t believe Eric was there, it had been months since I’d stopped taking the potion. He thought I had cheated on him at first too,” Amelia frowned at me mentioning that she had the same thought. “Let’s just say that we had plenty to talk about and they were all very difficult topics. It took us a few days to cover most of them.”
“So he made you feel safe enough to come back,” I nodded. “For the first month he came by the house weekly and he seemed sad, although it was hard for me to tell since he didn’t really talk to me. I told him I didn’t know where you were, so he would just walk around the house, stand in front of the fireplace looking at it, and then he would go into your room for hours. I don’t know what he was doing in there, but after the first time, I would just go to bed when he showed up. In the morning, the house would be locked up and the only thing that seemed changed was that your bed was a little wrinkly. After that first month, I never saw him again. I did come home a couple of times and found your door closed, but I figured if he was in there, he would want to be left alone.”
“Thank you for telling me,” I said and she gave me a sad smile. Tears welled up in my eyes thinking about Eric being sad after I left. I wished I could take it all back, that I’d stayed, and talked to him.
“What’s wrong, sweetie?” Amelia asked.
“I just feel so bad about hurting him. I should have talked to him instead of leaving.”
“It certainly seems that you two are on better terms.”
I smiled at her. “We definitely are,” I raised my left hand to show her my wedding ring. I still couldn’t get over how beautiful it was, and that Eric was really my husband.
“What the hell is that?” Amelia squealed out. “Did you get married?”
“Technically, I was already married. Remember? I just never accepted it. Before Eric left, he asked me to marry him,” Amelia looked at me questionably. “When we talked about being married I told him that I wanted a choice, so he gave me one. He said he wanted us to live as a real married couple and asked me to move back to Shreveport once I was ready.”
“Where are you going to live in Shreveport?”
“With Eric,” I said, thinking that should be a given.
“What about the baby? Is it safe?”
“We’re going to raise the baby together. Eric assures me that the baby will be safe.”
“I’m sorry, I just can’t see the Sheriff of Area 5 being a father to any child, let alone a newborn baby.”
“You don’t get to see him like I do. He’s not going to be the sheriff at home. You know how difficult things are in the Supe world. He can’t look weak in front of anyone, but he’s very caring,” Amelia gave me a skeptical look. “I know it seems crazy because he’s a vampire and he doesn’t think much about humans, but he loves me and he’s going to be the father to this child. He would never do anything to hurt the baby or me.”
“As long as he’s good to you and the baby, that’s all that matters.”
“Thank you,” I said and gave her a big smile. It really meant a great deal to me that she would accept Eric and me together.
“I guess I get to plan a baby shower for you,” Amelia said while clapping her hands together.
“You need to include Pam. She’s fascinated by baby and wedding showers.”
“No problem, it will be great to see her. I haven’t seen her in quite a while.”
We spent the rest of lunch talking about all things baby. It felt good to finally have someone to talk to and to have my friend back. I was a little sad that she had to go back to work, but we promised to try to have lunch or dinner at least once a week. I’d need to ask Eric about having people over to his house, I guess our house now. It made me a little nervous since I didn’t want anyone to know where his resting place was, but I’d like to be able to have friends over sometimes, too.
I gave Sam another hug and told him I’d talk to him soon. He was still acting weird, but I assumed it was from him being hurt when I left with no notice or his girlfriend who looked so much like me. I drove back to Shreveport in Eric’s Escalade, which drove better than anything I’d ever driven, feeling happy with my life. I couldn’t remember the last time I was so happy. I had my Eric back, a baby on the way, and my friends.
I awoke to Sookie sitting beside me on the bed with a large, bright smile on her face. I didn’t think I’d ever seen or felt her so happy. I reached out my hand and trailed my fingers along her cheek. Once I reached her chin, I grasped it in between my thumb and finger pulling her toward me. She lay herself across my chest and wound her fingers through my hair once our lips met. I slipped my tongue into her mouth, caressing her tongue with mine while running my hands down her body. Once I reached her ass, I squeezed both cheeks and pressed her even closer to me. Only stopping when she had to pull back for air.
Sookie rested her forehead against mine trying to catch her breath. I closed my eyes letting the content feelings I felt wash through me while enjoying her warm breath caress my face.
“How was your day, dear one?” I asked after a few minutes.
“Mmm, it was good. I had lunch with Amelia at Merlotte’s. It was really good to catch up with her. I saw Sam, we didn’t get a chance to talk, but I told him I’d talk to him soon. He was acting kind of weird and I couldn’t get much from him. Did you know that he hired a waitress that looks like me and is now dating her?”
“I didn’t know that. Why do think he was acting ‘weird’?” Not that I cared for one moment about the shifter, but I could tell it was slightly distressing to Sookie when she talked about it.
“I’m not sure. Like I said, I didn’t get much from him even when I hugged him,” she said and only stopped talking when my body slightly stiffened. I hated when she let any other male touch her, let alone the ones that wanted her. She swatted me when she felt my possessive need for her take over the bond. “His mind was redder than normal, and his emotions were all over the place, but when he first saw me I could have sworn he wasn’t happy to see me.”
I rubbed my hands up and down her arms and back, trying to give her a little comfort while letting her feel my love for her.
“Either he’s mad that I left and didn’t tell him I was leaving, that I didn’t come to him first when I got back, that I’m living in Shreveport, or because he has some waitress who looks so much like me he’s embarrassed. I’ve never felt anything like that from him before.”
I could tell she was sad that her friendship with Sam might be in trouble or worse yet, over. It made me feel better knowing that she wouldn’t be trying to get her job back with the shifter.
“Just give him time. Maybe he was surprised to see you.”
“Maybe,” she said with a frown.
I sat us both up and placed a kiss to her forehead. “I need to shower and get ready, we have a meeting with my lawyer tonight.”
Unfortunately, I took a quick and lonely shower by myself and got dressed while Sookie was upstairs eating a snack. She was just finishing an apple that she was dipping into something. I was definitely going to have to get better acquainted with food before the baby ate solid foods.
Once we arrived at Fangtasia, Sookie went straight into my office and plopped herself down on the couch.
“Are you going to tell me what this meeting is about? I don’t understand why I need to be here when you meet your lawyer.”
“Since we cannot legally wed, then I want to make sure you and the baby will be taken care of in case anything happens to me. I want to put you on my accounts so you can use the money to start buying things for the baby, the house, or anything else you want.”
“You know I don’t want your money,” she said with an exasperated sigh.
“I know that, but we are married and now we will share my wealth. We will share everything.”
“Are you planning on something happening to you?” She asked with worry flooding our bond.
“I am very careful about my security. You know this. I don’t think anything is going to happen to me, but I want you to be taken care of just in case since we cannot legally marry in your world.”
Just as she was getting ready to argue with me, there was a knock on the door. Pam opened the door and came to sit on a chair in front of my desk.
“Mr. Dumas is here for your meeting,” Pam said while looking Sookie over. She raised an eyebrow, but I subtlety shook my head. I wanted to keep Sookie as calm as possible.
“Send him in,” I said. I stood and took the chair Pam had been sitting in and moved it beside my chair for Sookie. “Sookie, please come and sit over here for the meeting.”
Pam walked back in with my lawyer ushering him to a seat, and then she sat down on the couch. He sat, pulled his briefcase onto his lap, and started pulling out papers.
“Good evening, Mr. Northman,” I nodded. “I assume this is Miss Stackhouse.” I nodded again. “I have all the paperwork you requested,” He handed over the paperwork for me to look over first. I could tell he was nervous about something, but didn’t want to say what it was about. I had felt a spike of irritation from Sookie for a moment, but it was gone now. After reading through the documents, I handed the ones for Sookie to her and the ones for Pam back to the lawyer to hand to her.
“Good evening, Miss Stackhouse. I’m Jonathon Dumas,” he gave her a nod.
“Good evening Mr. Dumas,” Sookie said quietly.
“Please look over the documents before you and sign where I have placed the sticky notes. If you have any questions, please ask.”
“Master, what is this about?” Pam asked me. I hadn’t discussed this with her, but I figured this was something I needed to do. I was more than a thousand-years-old and starting a family. I needed my time to not be tied up with all the mundane bullshit of Fangtasia.
“I am giving you Fangtasia,” Sookie and Pam were both in shock and disbelief.
“I can see that, but why?” She asked.
“This bar takes up too much of my time, and I’m starting a family with Sookie. I don’t want all my time spent here. I’m already going to miss so much being dead for the day,” I looked at Sookie and gave her a small smile. From her emotions, I could tell she had also had the same realization. “You’ve wanted your own business for quite a while now. Here’s your chance. You can do whatever you want to it. I only plan to keep my office for my sheriff duties. If you don’t want it, then we can sell it and you can find something else.”
Pam sat staring at me for a few moments taking it all in, probably trying to ascertain if I was serious or not. I let her feel that I had never been more serious. I wanted to be done with being put on display and spending so much of my time here.
“I can do anything?” She asked.
I chuckled at her, “Anything you want. It’s all yours, just leave me my office.”
“You got a deal,” she said, and then signed her paperwork and handed it back to the lawyer. I signed my name, and felt free for the first time in centuries.
Sookie had barely been reading her own paperwork while paying attention to Pam’s conversation with me. As she went back to reading over everything, her eyes got wider and wider; I could feel her disbelief and what I attributed to her feeling unworthy. I had hoped with time she would realize just how truly special she was to me and how completely worthy she truly was.
Finally, she looked over at me. “Eric, this is too much. You know I don’t want your money. There’s no reason for me to be on all these accounts.”
“You are my wife, therefore; I will share everything I have with you.” I could feel Sookie wanted to argue with me, but wouldn’t in front of the lawyer. That was definitely a pleasant surprise. She looked down to her lap for a moment, and then nodded before wiping her eyes.
“I have a question, Mr. Dumas.”
“Of course, ask anything. That’s what I’m here for,” he said.
“If I wanted to change my last name, would I have to resign all of this?”
“I can get the paperwork together to change your name by tomorrow night. If you sign the name that you want changed it to then you would not have to resign. I’ll file the paperwork right away. It shouldn’t be a problem.”
Sookie was nervous again as she looked over at me. She flicked her eyes over to the lawyer, and then back at me.
“Mr. Dumas, if you could please give us a few minutes,” I said. Pam walked him back out to the bar while I went to sit beside Sookie again.
“Lover, you have no reason to be nervous. You can talk to me about anything.”
“I want the baby and me to have the same last name,” I nodded. “Your name,” I nodded again, and it took a moment for what she had told me to sink in.
“You want to take my name?” I asked her.
“Yes. Although we can’t legally wed, we are married. If you’re plan to give the baby and me all this, it’s the only thing I can think to give you. I had thought of it briefly before, but I didn’t know if you would want me to have your last name, or what I’d have to do.”
I didn’t think I could express to her how much it meant to me for her to want this. Everything was falling into place and working out for us. I did feel that we deserved our happiness, I just hoped nothing happened to take it away from us.
I smiled, grabbed her face in between my hands, and smashed my lips to hers. She smiled against my mouth and giggled.
“I’ll take that to assume that you approve,” she said.
“I more than approve,” I kissed her again, and then called Pam to bring Mr. Dumas in. “We need to hurry up, so I can get you home and ravish you.”
Sookie giggled, “Don’t think that we’re done talking about you adding me to all these accounts and setting up a trust fund for the baby.” I started to say something, but she stopped me. “I truly appreciate it. I really do. I just don’t feel worthy of all this. It’s too much.”
“You’ll get used to it and you are truly worthy. This is me taking care of you, and the baby, and that’s what I can do for you. You have given me love, a family, and made me feel more alive than I have in a thousand years. What I can give you hardly compares to what you give me.”
“You are a very sweet man, Eric Northman. I love you. Thank you,” she said with tears in her eyes, but a bright smile beaming back at me.
“I love you, too,” I said, picking her up out of her chair and straddling her across my legs. I cupped her face, pulled her closer to me, and placed feather light kisses all over her face until I reached her mouth. I parted her lips with my tongue and savored this moment with her.
Watching Sookie sign her name Sookie Stackhouse-Northman over and over again on all that paperwork made me happier than I ever thought it would and I could tell Sookie was as surprised by my reaction as I was. Once she was done, I carried her out to my car and raced home. We still had many hours until dawn for me to show her just how happy she had made me by becoming Mrs. Northman.
And by choice.