Adilyn shook her head. “No. I can’t hear what you’re thinkin’. You’re like a big hole in the air. But it’s funny. I can pick up your feelings and the other vampire’s feelings a lot stronger than I can humans and fairies. I actually have to try with them. Maybe vampire feelings are just stronger,” she added with a shrug.
“Thalia. The other vampire’s name is Thalia,” I shared.
Adilyn smiled. “Will you tell her thanks for watching over us?” she asked.
“So—why are you worried?” she asked.
It was then that I remembered that Pam was still on the phone.
“My vampire child, Pamela, arranged for the furnishings for the nursery, along with many other things, to be delivered and set up tomorrow. But I told her to delay a day. I don’t like the thought of a bunch of people in the house tomorrow.”
“You should let the deliveries happen,” Adilyn said firmly. “My sisters and I won’t be able to train all day, and we can help Sookie set stuff up. My dad can help too; it’ll give him something to do, and I already know he likes to build stuff.”
I frowned. “I don’t know. Jason is staying over, and the nursery was to be in his room.”
Adilyn smiled. “No matter how much Braelyn hates the idea, Danny and I will kick him out when it’s time to fix up the nursery. Plus, his brain said he would have to go to work first thing tomorrow to cover for Daddy. Anyway, when else would you have four telepaths—at least—checking the delivery people out?” she asked.
I smirked. She made a fair point. “Pam,” I said into the receiver.
“I got it,” she said, sounding only slightly perturbed that I’d made her wait as long as I had. “Lots of fairies. Lots of telepathy. So the delivery’s on.”
I chuckled at my presumptuous child. “Yes. Unless you hear otherwise, but make it the afternoon,” I added, thinking that Brady’s extra men would be in place by then.
I hung up on my child, even as Adilyn spoke out a goodnight and went back upstairs.
Though I was anxious to get to my wife—whom I could tell was sleeping—I walked outside to speak with Brady.
He was at his “station” on the porch.
“Once sunrise comes,” I told him, “I want everyone inside the house. If Warlow comes, I won’t want him getting to any of our people. When the others get here, you can rotate patrols on the property line, but I want the majority of the force close to home.”
“You don’t think Warlow will attack at night—do you?” Brady asked.
“I don’t. I think that he always intended to approach Sookie as a daytime suitor if he could, which is why he pretended to be the victim of a vampire attack. Given the fact that Sookie and my relationship has come to fruition—and borne fruit—so quickly, I doubt that he initially knew what he was dealing with.” I paused. “He is likely regrouping. He might even withdraw for a time,” I contemplated. “But my gut is telling me that he’ll be even more impatient to have Sookie now that he knows that she’s mine. And—at night—we are stronger,” I said matter-of-factly.
Brady nodded. “I agree. I’m a badass, and so is Mustapha. And—from what I’ve seen—Tray is too. But—against a fairy/vampire hybrid?” He sighed. “I admit to being unprepared.”
I contemplated for a moment. “Andy’s girls have already shown that they can teleport,” I said.
“To their father,” he returned.
“They need to imprint on someone with their blood. I suggest that—if Andy is with them—they go to Terry Bellefleur if they find themselves in extreme danger.”
“Can they all teleport?” Brady asked.
“No—just Adilyn and Danika, but they can take Braelyn with them,” I informed.
Brady nodded. “Going to Terry Bellefleur is a good back-up plan. What about Sookie? Can she teleport?”
I shook my head. “No. But I’m hoping that Claude will stick to her like glue when I’m not around. He can take her with him when he teleports.”
The Were sighed. “We still have to find a way to kill Warlow.”
I nodded in agreement. “Yeah—we really fucking do!”
In that moment, four figures emerged from the tree line. Three were hurriedly putting on clothing. Thalia zipped up to the porch.
“Anything?” I asked her.
“Nothing fresher than the scent I picked up before,” she reported.
“You will need to seek shelter soon,” I said, looking toward the East.
“I’ll stay under this house,” she said. “There’s a crawl space under part of it.”
I nodded. “Okay. I’m sorry I cannot invite you in to rest in the space I made for vampires.”
“I understand why,” she said.
“For the record, one of the girls wanted me to thank you for being here,” I told her.
In fact, Adilyn’s statement of confidence had almost been enough of an endorsement for me to issue an invitation to Thalia.
“Adilyn is empathic—so it seems,” I added. “She is more,” I paused, “comfortable knowing that you are here.”
A tiny smile brought up Thalia’s lips, and her brilliant blue eyes seemed to travel into the past for a moment. “Loxias και σκέφτηκα ότι η κόρη μου ήταν, επίσης,” she sighed. [“Loxias and I thought that my daughter was also.”]
Just as quickly as her smile appeared, however, it was gone. “I will make one more sweep before I seek my rest.”
I nodded and then looked at the four Weres on the porch.
“Ms. Cooper,” I said, acknowledging our new member.
“Yes,” she said evenly.
“Tray has explained the situation to you?” I asked the fierce-looking Were.
“And you are up for the challenge?” I asked.
“Do you have the adequate time to commit?”
“I’m currently between jobs,” she returned.
“I don’t like bigoted bosses who hassle me for preferring my girlfriend to them. And I certainly don’t like assholes who suggest that a ‘good threesome’ would cure me and my girlfriend of being lesbians,” she informed.
I smirked. “Well then—welcome aboard.”
“Tray suggested that you wouldn’t be averse to listening to an idea or two—even from a woman,” she said with challenge in her tone.
“You haven’t yet met my wife,” I chuckled. “She has taught me that women are ten times stronger than men. And—of course—my vampire child, Pamela, has been prepping me for Sookie’s tutelage for more than a century now. Not to mention the fact that Thalia was responsible for many of my early ass-kickings as she helped my maker train me for vampire-on-vampire combat.
Maria-Star smirked. “I know Pam. She and I shared an evening together about a month before I met my girlfriend, Amelia.”
“My child always did have good taste,” I complimented. In truth, Maria-Star Cooper was very beautiful. Of course, even if she “batted for my team,” I wouldn’t have been tempted by her. My mate was enough for me.
More than enough.
“My girlfriend, Amelia Broadway, is a witch,” Maria-Star began.
I tensed up a bit. I now had very little tolerance for witches. And I was already making an exception for Holly—though that was partly because she’d helped Sookie save me from becoming an “Eric-shaped” steak on the stake.
“I know about the Marnie Stonebrook business,” Maria-Star said knowingly. “As soon as she heard about the situation, Octavia Fant, Amelia’s mentor in New Orleans, sent Amelia up here to make sure that the situation was contained and that the witches involved in Marnie’s coven weren’t planning on continuing her less-than-natural pursuits. In fact, Amelia spoke with two witches in Bon Temps: Lafayette Reynolds and Holly Cleary, whom I believe is inside your home now,” she said.
I nodded in confirmation.
“Amelia and I had a casual relationship before Octavia sent her to Area 5 a few weeks ago. She planned only to stay with me while she was here, but we got serious, and she moved in,” Maria-Star offered.
“You think that Amelia can help with the current situation?” I asked.
Maria-Star nodded. “Unlike Holly, who’s not a natural witch and Lafayette who isn’t an educated one, Amelia has both natural ability and learning. Hearing about my trouble with the former packmaster of the Longtooth Pack, she placed a protection spell around my home—so that no one with ill-intent could pass onto my property. I know for certain that the spell keeps out Weres who intend harm. On others, it hasn’t been tested. However, it might be worth utilizing such a spell here—as well as on the King’s residence and the Bellefleur home once it’s repaired.”
I nodded. “Good idea. Could Ms. Broadway erect the spells immediately?” I asked.
“She would need to scout the properties first. Each property is different and requires a slightly different mixture of ingredients,” Maria-Star explained. “Some ingredients are easy to find and some are not,” she added. “But I talked to Amelia earlier. She could come tomorrow morning to scout out the properties.”
“Good,” I said. “Thank you for your suggestion, Ms. Cooper,” I added, knowing that Sookie would be proud of the fact that I actually remembered to express my appreciation. Though Maria-Star’s suggestion was truly valuable, I wasn’t exactly known for being polite, something that the young Were had obviously heard about, given her surprised look in my direction.
“You’re welcome, Mr. Northman,” she said, a hint of a smirk on her face. I had the distinct impression that she didn’t use niceties much either.
“Eric,” I corrected. “Sookie insists on niceties.”
She chuckled. “Then you may call me Maria-Star.”
I nodded in agreement and looked toward Brady. “Remember, keep close to home tomorrow—though if Amelia can erect a protection spell around the property as a whole, feel free to leave the house and patrol the confines of the property. But keep the girls inside until we know for sure that a spell will keep Warlow out.”
“They will be kept safe,” Brady promised.
“I will return in a few minutes,” I said, before flying in the direction where Thalia had said she’d smelled Warlow.
It didn’t take me long to find the place she’d been referring to.
There was no mistaking the smell of Fae.
There was no mistaking the smell of magic. However, my sense of smell was slightly more nuanced than Thalia’s, and I detected a hint of vampire underneath the magic. I smirked. As Jason had said, it was like using Lysol to try to cover up the smell of trash.
I took a deep whiff of my enemy, determined that the bastard wouldn’t be able to hide from me.
I studied the complete destruction he’d caused to the grouping of trees around me.
It was evidence of rage.
It was evidence of madness.
It was evidence that Warlow had found out all about me and Sookie.
And our children.
I couldn’t control the growl that emanated from me.
I flew back to my home at full speed and zipped to my wife’s side.
She was safe.
She was sleeping.
Only when I touched her belly and felt my sons moving did my growl stop.
I moved air in and out of my body in time with my wife’s breaths for several moments. And I prayed to Alföðr—to Odin—that my family would stay safe.
After I’d finished my prayer, I took out my phone and walked quietly into the bathroom.
I dialed a number that I’d had very little cause to use over the years, though—thanks to my vampire memory—I recalled it perfectly.
A tired voice answered the phone. “Hello?”
“Octavia Fant?” I asked.
“Yes,” she grumbled.
I’d clearly woken her up.
“It is Eric Northman, Sheriff of Area 5.”
“And interim king,” she added, though her tone was unenthused.
Still, I knew that—for a witch—she was trustworthy enough. Sophie-Anne had used her services before.
“Is Amelia Broadway your student?” I asked her.
“Yes. And she’s a good one,” Octavia confirmed.
“And is she trustworthy?” I asked.
“What is this about?” Octavia returned.
“A Were in my service recommended Ms. Broadway for setting up wards around the homes of people I care about,” I responded. “I need to be sure that she is not mistaken about Ms. Broadway’s intentions.”
Octavia sighed. “I understand your wariness after the business with Marnie Stonebrook, Northman. Are you back to normal?” she added cautiously.
“Yes,” I returned.
“How?” she asked.
“My mate,” I said simply.
“Interesting,” she responded. “Is your mate a witch?”
I chuckled. “No. A fairy,” I said truthfully, figuring that Octavia would soon hear that information from Amelia anyway, given the fact that the witch would be meeting at least four part-fairies at my house.
“No,” I said. “Thank the gods.”
“You are an intriguing vampire, Northman,” Octavia said after a silent moment. “I hope you stay king.”
“Not likely,” I intoned before changing the topic. “I will pay for anything Amelia needs to make those I care for safe.”
“Understood, vampire,” she said before hanging up.
I slipped out of my clothing, and went back into the bedroom. I lay behind Sookie, holding her close and placing a hand over our boys. The light tight shutters in our bedroom had been programmed to activate near dawn; however, I stayed awake for a while after that, enjoying my closeness to the three most precious things in my world.
The last image in my mind before I succumbed to my day-death was the cluster of uprooted trees.
A/N: Hello! I hope that you are all having a good weekend! This would have come earlier, but I’ve been getting caught up with the advent calendar on the directory site! I hope that you will all check it out! It’s a wonderful idea and much work has gone into it! Plus, there are new stories to read there! Given the negativity and overall ridiculousness that is occurring among the trolls turned grinches of the world, the advent calendar is a wonderful gift to our fandom.
That being said, I hope you enjoyed this chapter. I’m creating yet anyother incarnation of Amelia; I think you’ll enjoy her. And Maria-Star is one of my favorite new characters, probably because of the actress I’m picturing her as. (Sarah Shahi: Love her! She’s on Person of Interest, but I first started loving her in Life.)
Anyway, thanks again for sticking with me and the INNER-Verse.
MANY Thanks to Kleannhouse and Sephrenia–as always! Love you ladies!