SEPTEMBER 1, 2005 (ALMOST 3 MONTHS LATER)
My maker strode toward his throne.
As always, as soon as the vermin in Fangtasia noticed Eric Northman, their eyes locked onto him. And as always, I heard several humans begging for his attentions as he passed by them. But Eric was not one to give notice to humans who begged—unless it was to kick them across the room.
I studied the club’s clientele and saw that we had some very attractive humans—of the non-begging variety—in attendance as well. But I knew that Eric wouldn’t be selecting any of the slightly less “verminish vermin” for his attentions either.
I rolled my eyes. Eric’s choice of companions might have left a little to be desired in certain ways, but I was well aware that he was “all in” when it came to trying to maintain a monogamous relationship with Olivia.
In truth, I blamed Sookie Stackhouse for Eric’s foray into the world of romantic relationships—which I judged as “human foibles”—though Sookie was not currently available for me to tease or torment about the situation.
In fact, I’d not seen the blonde since the previous March, though I was kept somewhat abreast of her “condition” by Doctor Ludwig.
At times, I found myself missing the telepath. She certainly had the ability to make things more interesting in my life. Olivia didn’t share in this talent.
“How’s Olivia?” I drawled as I stepped onto the dais and then leaned against Eric’s throne. He looked up at me and then back at his blackberry without answering my question—not that he needed to. How many different ways were there to say “fine?”
I looked toward the front entrance and saw that Maxwell Lee was escorting Olivia Miles to the dais even then. I could tell by Eric’s emotions in our maker-child bond that he was pleased that she was present. However, his reaction to her was nothing like his reactions had been to a certain buxom blonde.
Still, I took in Olivia’s appearance with appreciation. She was what the people of my time would have called a “handsome woman.” At 31 years of age, she was several years older than Sookie. And, clearly, those years had brought confidence with them, but—then again—she’d lived a charmed life compared to the telepath’s.
Of course, I’d investigated Olivia when my maker had taken an interest in her—just as I’d investigated Sookie the year before. One would be amazed by the amount of information that a little strategic glamouring could yield.
And—what Eric didn’t know wouldn’t hurt me.
Whereas Sookie was born into a family that would have been charitably described as at the lower end of the middle class, Olivia’s family was at the lower end of the upper class.
Literally a world of difference!
While Sookie was being dragged to various doctors from around the time she was five years old by a mother who wanted to “cure” what should have been seen as a gift, Olivia was being driven to ballet lessons or violin lessons or horseback riding lessons—depending on the day of the week.
When Sookie was seven years old, both of her parents died, and she went to live with her grandmother. Her father, whose main talent seemed to be inspiring his wife’s undivided attention, hadn’t been capable enough to have much of a job, but his work at a saw mill had enabled him to adequately care for his family in the rural community of Bon Temps. Once he was gone, however, that income was gone too. And the grandmother’s income was limited to social security and a small pension from her deceased husband. Regrettably, Corbett Stackhouse hadn’t seen the need to have life insurance. Needless to say, Sookie’s class status quickly changed from relatively comfortable to downright poor.
By contrast, when Olivia was seven years old, her grandfather died, leaving her a trust fund large enough to cover her college expenses—not that she needed it, given the income earned by her father and mother in their successful law practice.
While Sookie struggled to earn passing grades in school—likely because of her telepathy interfering with her ability to learn—Olivia earned top marks.
At sixteen years of age, Sookie got her first job, and she’d worked steadily from that time—though she switched jobs often until the shifter hired her. As far as I could tell from my research, Sookie had never gotten a paycheck that didn’t find its way into Adele Stackhouse’s budget.
By contrast, Olivia was able to work at her parents’ law practice during summers and on weekends, and the money she made was put into an account for her own use.
When Sookie graduated from high school, she did so by the skin of her teeth, and—to celebrate—Adele Stackhouse had passed down her “hope chest” to her granddaughter. Having grown up during a time and in a place where similar traditions existed, I recognized that Sookie would have been thankful for the gift. But—later—as I’d got to know Sookie better, I wondered what she actually thought about having a “hope chest.” After all, my investigation had shown me that she’d had very few dates in her life before Bill Compton. And, from off-handed comments she’d made, I knew that being with a human man was impossible for her. I doubted she’d found much “hope” in that, which was likely why she’d been willing to give a douchebag like Compton the time of day.
On the other hand, when Olivia graduated from high school, her parents sprang for a two-month trip to Europe for her and her three closest friends.
After graduation, Sookie doubled the hours she worked each week, eventually working forty to fifty hours a week at Merlotte’s for $2.13 an hour plus tips.
After her summer European trip, Olivia started college at Yale University. When she decided that she preferred numbers to the law, her parents encouraged her to pursue whatever profession she wanted. Undeniably hardworking and driven, she eventually studied abroad, learning about international finance. She spent the summers of her junior and senior years of college interning with huge accounting firms in Manhattan and Boston. And then she went on to get her Master’s degree before wading through an avalanche of job offers all over the globe.
However, she was neither greedy nor overly ambitious. And, clearly, she craved her roots.
Thus, she chose a job at an up-and-coming accounting firm that would return her close to her family home where her parents still lived and thrived.
She had lunch with them each Sunday.
During my initial investigation, I’d learned that Sookie, too, enjoyed a Sunday meal with her family.
So they’d had that in common—until Sookie’s grandmother had been murdered.
It was a stretch to find other things they had in common, however.
For example, my investigation had found only one leisure activity that Sookie indulged in: a cheap one.
Not surprisingly, Olivia’s list of leisure activities was quite long, and they included socializing with a large group of friends. She was especially fond of the opera and the symphony. And her charity work included raising funds for both.
Sookie’s “charity” work included babysitting Arlene Fowler’s children for free and helping her grandmother bake pies for various church fundraisers.
In my earliest investigations of Sookie, I found that she had only a handful of friends: Tara Thornton, Ms. Fowler, Lafayette Reynolds, and the shifter. And then there were her grandmother and brother.
Glamouring Ms. Thornton showed me that she was a legitimate friend to Sookie, sometimes even putting back items in her small clothing store for her friend and calling her when the items went on sale. However, part of Tara thought of this as “charity,” and I couldn’t help but to wonder if Sookie had picked up on those thoughts. It was also clear to me that Tara and Sookie didn’t “hang out” often. Tara liked crowded clubs and dancing, and—although Sookie enjoyed dancing—she wasn’t comfortable in crowds, nor did she have the money to go to them often.
A quick glamour-job of Ms. Fowler had shown me that she was more of a user than a friend. She often asked Sookie to babysit her kids—since she didn’t want to pay a babysitter and Sookie would do it for free. In my estimation Arlene was a “bought” friend, but it seemed apparent that Sookie didn’t mind doing the “buying” since there were so few people in her life.
Hell! I was a vampire—and a “Pam” (a unique sub-species, no doubt)—and I had more friends than Sookie Stackhouse did!
That point was brought home even more so when my investigation into Mr. Reynolds ended before I could even glamour him! He was murdered.
Not long after Adele Stackhouse was murdered.
As for Sookie’s brother? Well—I found him to be a waste of space and a simpleton. Unlike his sister, he was easily glamoured. I quickly learned that he resented his sister more than he loved her. In fact, the best thing that could be said for him was that he liked her cooking.
And—as for the shifter? Well—sadly—I couldn’t risk trying to glamour him, but it quickly became clear to me that he wanted Sookie for himself. It was also clear just how critical he would be of her when she didn’t fall in line with his narrow, vampire-hating point of view.
I held in a sigh because—really—I didn’t think that vampires should indulge in such useless human behaviors. Indeed, the lives of Olivia Miles and Sookie Stackhouse couldn’t have been more divergent.
And that was brought home yet again by Olivia’s appearance as she stepped gracefully onto the dais and curved up a smile for my maker. Eric stood up, took her hand, kissed it, and then helped her get seated in the chair he’d placed next to his throne.
Just for his boring human.
I knew a certain telepath who would have slapped him for even daring to suggest that she be “shown off” in such a way.
Olivia’s blood-red outfit was impeccable, and my trained eye immediately recognized it to be Oscar de la Renta from head to toe. And—though Olivia would never be accused of having voluptuous curves, the ones she had were certainly better than the norm and were well-presented in her perfectly-fit dress. Against the red lace and silk, her skin was a milky white that most vampires would have envied. Her eyes were a kaleidoscope of hues, and her brunette hair looked like it would have the texture of spun silk—though Eric wouldn’t share her.
Thus, I’d never gotten to touch it. Or any other part of her.
I suddenly felt sulky.
Eric truly was selfish at times!
In addition to being beautiful, Olivia was intelligent, and I knew that my maker was well-pleased with the work her company was doing for him. She was 5’4″, slightly taller than I was—but she could rock a pair of Jimmy Choo’s like no one’s business.
A woman after my own heart.
Indeed, in a lot of ways Olivia was the perfect woman for a vampire who wanted to “settle down” for a while. And she smelled quite pleasant too, having B-positive blood. She had what humans thought of as a “good job” and had already been made a full partner in the accounting firm where she was employed. She wasn’t a fangbanger, nor was she addicted to anything.
Except maybe Eric’s cock.
And I had to own that she was pleasant to be around. And no one had tried to kill her since she’d been with my maker.
In short, she was boring.
Olivia could match Eric when conversing about almost any topic, but I’d yet to hear her sass him.
Olivia always looked flawless and dressed in clothing that even I would have worn, but I missed the charm of a simple sundress.
Olivia was mouth-watering to look at, but I’d never seen her hands fly to her hips in frustration.
I couldn’t help myself. I missed Eric’s most effective chain-yanker!
Olivia wasn’t nearly as fun in providing material that could be used to tease my maker. But, at least, he seemed “steadier” with her than Sookie. However, I wasn’t sure that was a positive, for Eric was now as boring as hell too!
But I had hope that he would end the relationship soon.
I could feel that he was just as bored with Olivia as I was—despite how “perfect” she was. In fact, he’d been bored with her since nearly the beginning of their association, though I could tell that he was truly “trying” to remain interested in her.
He’d never had to try with a certain woman.
But I didn’t mention Sookie Stackhouse to Eric anymore, nor did I give Eric too hard of a time about Olivia. If he needed Olivia in order to heal what had clearly been a broken heart, then who was I to interfere?
Still—the overall boredom of the current situation was grating.
Case in point: as Olivia sat next to my maker, I felt his boredom hit him—and me—like a thick wave, though he hid it well as he tried to show interest in a story she was telling about one of her work colleagues.
As if Mary’s “snafu with the Peterson account” could be interesting!
But then I suddenly did sense something very interesting coming from my maker: anxiety of a particular brand that I’d only ever discerned from one source.
Though Eric was currently stuck on stage with Olivia, I certainly wasn’t, and—as I got to the front door of the club—I could hear Sookie’s rust-bucket choking its way into the parking lot.
About a minute later, she exited her vehicle ungracefully.
One thing was for certain: she was much fatter than she’d been the last time I saw her.
But then again, she was well on her way to growing a child.
I doubted I’d go down in the history books for not being selfish. In fact, sometimes I felt like the most selfish person in the world—mostly because it was difficult for me to figure out how I’d done much “good” in the world.
I mean—I’d helped out Sophie—at least a little. I’d found some Fellowship members in her court, and I’d told her when her potential business partners weren’t exactly being honest.
And I really did try to be a good waitress. But that certainly wasn’t helping out society or anything.
And I was paid for my work, so it wasn’t as if I were being unselfish about it.
I’d let Amelia come stay with me as Hurricane Katrina had borne down on New Orleans.
But who wouldn’t have? Plus, she’d insisted upon paying rent, so there was that too.
Still, I figured that I was doing “good” when it came to Eric. For months, I’d stayed away from him, despite my desire to see and be with him. Once I realized just how much I loved all of him—and how I’d fucked things up so royally—I had wanted to head straight for Fangtasia. I’d wanted to beg him to give me another chance. But I hadn’t been willing to disrupt his life—not when he’d so clearly found someone a lot more worthy than me to share that life with!
Indeed, whenever I would allow myself to fantasize about going to Eric—fantasize that he would tell me that he loved me—I would always be met by a swift burst of reality. In truth, I couldn’t think of a single bit of “good” I could bring to his life. So I’d stayed away from him.
And I’d focused on getting my own life in order.
But I’d received a call from Sophie the night before. She had evidence that Arkansas was sending spies into Fangtasia, and she wanted me to use my skill to try to find them.
So, after months of not seeing Eric, I walked toward the entrance of Fangtasia. I was nervous to see him—anxious to see him.
“Look at what the cat didn’t drag in,” Pam drawled as I approached the door.
Her humor had never been “kind,” but I’d missed her nonetheless.
“I think Bubba’s eaten all the cats in Area 5,” I answered just as dryly.
“Please tell me that your life is in danger. If you are here to invite me to an insipid human ceremony to honor your unborn child, I will be devastated.”
I couldn’t help but to let out a soft laugh.
“You are in fine form—I see.”
“And your form has widened—I see,” Pam returned with a frown before looking down at her own narrow hips. “You see—this is why I am glad I never spawned. I would likely have died in childbirth.”
I shook my head. “No—you were killed before you could have any children,” I deadpanned.
She looked pleased. “Yes!” she agreed.
I rolled my eyes. Pam was certainly one of a kind.
“Nice dress,” she grinned, taking in my simple dark blue maternity sundress. I wondered for a moment if she was being sincere or teasing me. I suppose it didn’t matter much.
“Thank you,” I smiled. Regardless of her true meaning, I’d received very few compliments as of late, and I was grateful for her kind words.
As a matter of fact, the garment was the nicest I owned—at least the nicest that I could fit into. Tara didn’t carry maternity clothing at her store, so Walmart and secondhand stores had needed to do when it came to my current wardrobe. Generally, I was in maternity yoga pants and T-shirts when I wasn’t working, but I’d needed a few nicer things for my trips to New Orleans. And—though a clothing budget was included in my pay—I couldn’t bring myself to shop at stores which would generally be out of my price range.
“So—are you in mortal danger tonight?” she asked eagerly. “Please?”
“Not tonight. Not that I know of. Not yet,” I chuckled.
I tried to see further inside the club. I couldn’t yet see the stage since Pam and I were still by the entrance and the expanded gift shop obstructed the view. “Is he here?” I asked.
“Yes,” she returned, though her smile left her eyes.
“Has Sophie called yet?” I asked.
“The queen is allowing you to call her that?” Pam asked, somewhat surprised.
“Yeah—um—we’re friends. And she’s found several jobs for me over the last few months. We’ve—uh—hung out a bit,” I added by way of explanation.
“If she’s given you work, then why are you still driving that piece of shit?” she frowned.
I rolled my eyes. “House first. Then car.” I sighed. “Anyway, I almost have enough saved up to buy a car free and clear. I don’t want to owe any debt if I can help it. And—since I’m working tonight—the next time you see me, I should be driving that new Ford Focus I’ve had my eye on.”
She rolled her eyes. “That sounds so exciting. So—you are here to work?”
I bit my lower lip, suddenly much more nervous than before. “Uh—yeah. Um—Sophie sent me. With her focusing so much energy on dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, she’s worried that Arkansas might try something. She wanted me to ‘listen’ here tonight.”
Pam’s expression sobered. “Many good vampires were lost because of that fucking hurricane,” she seethed.
“And lots of humans too,” I sighed as we shared of moment of commiseration. “Uh—could you tell Eric why I’m here? I don’t wanna ruin his evening.”
“Why do you think you’d ruin it?” Pam asked.
“Um—old habits—I guess,” I said tentatively. “And I can see that he’s busy.”
“I’ve—uh—already started scanning the humans inside. I can see Olivia in their thoughts. They are jealous of her.”
“And you—Sookie? Are you jealous?” Pam asked knowingly.
“I don’t have a right to be,” I said, rather than offering a direct response to her question.
Clearly, I’d been hanging around Sophie too much. She was the Queen of Louisiana and the queen of giving vague responses—at least to most people. That she’d been straightforward with me still never failed to amaze me.
“It’s a pity that our one-time Area 5 investigator had to resign,” Pam said with a smirk.
“Have you found a replacement for Bill?” I asked evenly.
“It seems that you are the replacement—at least for tonight,” she returned.
I nodded. After all, I couldn’t very well deny it. I was there to investigate.
“Will you tell Eric why I’m here?” I asked her again. “Sophie said that she’d call him, but I don’t know if she did. And I don’t want him to have to wonder—okay? And—uh—please ask him if he can spare five minutes for me at some point during the night?” I added, knowing that my request sounded like a question.
Pam looked at me through narrowed, questioning eyes, but then simply nodded in agreement.
“Come,” she said, before leading me toward Eric’s booth.
“I can’t sit here,” I said, stopping in my tracks before we’d reached it.
“He’s not using it at the moment,” she smirked.
I couldn’t keep myself from glancing at the dais.
He was on his throne, looking as gorgeous as ever. A smaller chair had been placed next to the throne, and Olivia sat there. She looked beautiful in a red cocktail dress that made her skin seem almost as white as a vampire’s. The couple looked to be having an animated conversation. Olivia giggled and Eric smiled widely.
They looked beautiful together—and happy.
The Viking had no glance to spare for me.
But—then again—why would he?
Even if I hadn’t been an idiot when it came to us.
Even if he wasn’t clearly in a relationship with a woman who so clearly outclassed me in every way—a relationship that had outlasted anything he and I’d had by months!
Even if I’d been as selfish as I wanted to be.
Even if I desperately wanted him to be in my life.
My desires were now fruitless.
After all, I would never attract him now.
I looked down at my ever-expanding body. It appeared that my unborn child—a daughter, as I’d discovered a few days before—was taking after her biological father when it came to size. But—thankfully—Dr. Ludwig had determined that she would likely not be able to shift. It looked as if I wasn’t Supe enough to help her along in that way. I sighed and settled one hand over my daughter. Though I didn’t want to limit her—never wanted to limit her—I was glad she wouldn’t become a weretiger because I knew that I couldn’t hide her paternity if she did.
I was also praying that she wouldn’t have purple eyes.
But the tiny doctor couldn’t predict her eye color, nor did she have any idea of whether or not she would inherit my telepathy.
I’d started to feel my daughter kicking only the week before—light fluttering thumps that made me realize that I no longer mattered. I knew with certainty that I would die for her. But I hoped to live for her instead—to be the sort of mom my own couldn’t manage to be.
To never make her feel unloved.
To never make her feel unwanted.
Gracelessly, I sat down and scooted into the booth. No—Eric would no longer find me attractive. I was certain of it. Not only was my “much fuller” form a sign that I’d had sex with someone other than him, but also, I was just “big.”
Arm flaps? I’d gotten them.
Wider hips? Check.
Swelling ankles? You betcha!
Bigger boobs? Oh, yeah.
But they came with side and back fat, too—so it wasn’t as if they made me more attractive.
Heck! Everything from my forehead to my toes felt bigger. And—admittedly—some of that was my fault. I’d wanted—needed—to look a month further along than I was. So I’d not exactly watched my weight. Plus, after my first trimester, my morning sickness had mostly ended, and my cravings for gravy and ice cream—though thankfully not at the same time—had increased exponentially.
And Gran’s pecan pie—with ice cream. Not gravy.
I made and devoured about three of those pies a week!
Not that I could make them as well as she had.
“I guess a gin and tonic is out of the question?” Pam snarked, breaking me from my reverie.
“Water?” I asked.
Pam nodded and a waitress approached moments later to take my order. She was frustrated that I wasn’t placing an order that would guarantee her a tip, so I vowed to leave her the five dollar bill I knew I had in my wallet.
After she returned with my glass of water, Pam left to speak to Eric. I’d purposely sat so that my back was to him and Olivia.
There were just some sights that I didn’t need to torture myself with.
I pulled out a pad of paper and got to work.
A/N: Hi! I hope you enjoyed the chapter.
I wanted to address the issue of Sookie being pregnant with Quinn’s child because a lot of you hate that plot point. Yes—I find Quinn gross, but the moment Sookie decided to keep the baby, it became “hers” in my mind. And—given his motives for trying to knock up Sookie—I believe Sookie’s justified in not telling him about the paternity. I have a good friend who met a guy at a club, got too drunk, and slept with the guy (not a good decision, but most of us make dumbass moves at times). Anyway, after she sobered up, she realized that she’d made a mistake; however, the guy seemed cool, so they arranged for a “proper date.” To make a long story short, the guy turned out to be bad news, and my friend turned out to be pregnant (though they’d used a condom). To this day, the guy doesn’t know he has a child. And—knowing something about what became of the father (he’s now in prison for manslaughter and drug trafficking)—I can’t blame her for keeping the paternity from him. Anyway, I say all this because—while normally I wouldn’t be “for” a mother keeping the paternity of a child from his/her father—there are times when doing that seems to be the best choice.
As for the notion that Sookie is somehow less worthy for Eric now that she has a child too—I don’t believe that. Not at all! The world around Sookie is influencing her to think that Eric won’t want her now that she’s carrying another man’s child (esp. someone like Quinn’s), but I couldn’t disagree more with such a notion. Yes—Sookie’s gonna be a mother, but she’s not hiding that. And there are lots of men out there who have no problems dating women with kids from previous relationships.
Also, I think children are mostly the products of their environments, though nature is involved in things that cannot be controlled. However, even if the kid turned out to be a purple-eyed weretiger, it wouldn’t stand to reason that he/she would be anything like Quinn—in personality—because Sookie’s the one raising him/her. I know I’m rambling, but I want to make clear that I don’t see the child she’s carrying a “bad”—any more than I saw Mikey as “bad” on the show. In fact, I thought it was horrible when Arlene decided to try to get rid of the baby because Rene was his father. Simply put, I don’t believe in the concept of the “bad seed.”
So—yes. Quinn is gross and nasty because of his choices, actions, and chauvinism. But there’s no reason that Sookie’s child will be anything like that. And I don’t think that being pregnant is encumbering her with “baggage” that would scare Eric off. If Eric chooses to be with her again, I don’t think the baby will be a factor. He’s either okay with it or not, and Sophie-Anne already theorized why he would be. Sadly, my thoughts on this matter aren’t exactly matching Sookie’s. She has accepted and loves the child she’s carrying, but she isn’t letting herself off the hook. In other words, she believes the narrative in the small minds around her more than she believes in her own worth. But having a friend like Sophie-Anne is helping.
Anyway, I’ll stop rambling now. I hope you enjoyed the chapter and will leave a comment if you find the time.