Eric got up and began to walk naked toward their balcony door. Sookie sighed at the view and then cleared her throat. “Um, Mr. Northman, you’d better put on some pants.”
Eric chuckled and went over to the new dresser that had just been moved to the room along with the rest of the furniture. “With a small boy in the house, I’ve had to adapt my clothing habits when I sleep. But, luckily I can smell when he is near, so he’ll never be able to catch us in the act―so to speak.” He winked at her.
She laughed as she got up and went over to the dresser as well. “I thought about that too, so I’ve been monitoring to make sure he was still asleep with this.” She lightly touched her temple. She grabbed a pair of panties and clean pink pajamas that looked like they must have been picked out by Pam. Then she walked nude into the bathroom, shaking her ass all the way and giggling when she heard Eric growling. She quickly cleaned herself up, took care of her human needs, and dressed. When she rejoined Eric in the bedroom, he was dressed in track pants and a T-shirt. She sighed. She loved him dressed like this—comfortable and at ease. Of course, he was still hot as hell too.
She looked at the furnishings closely for the first time. They were all beautiful—each made with a mixture of rich woods. In addition to the new bed and dresser, there was a huge armoire, which they planned to put a television into so that they could watch movies in bed. Since the remodeling had occurred, the room was longer, but the fireplace was still cozily close to the bed. In the middle of the outside wall was the set of French doors that had been put in, and there was a little sitting area near them, complete with a small sofa, also made by Eric. A beautiful chest that Sookie had wanted to hold quilts and blankets was also in that part of the room.
“I love it all,” she said.
Eric could feel her happiness at the furnishing and looked at her with pride in his eyes. “Hunter helped. He is quite a good woodworker, actually—much more talented than I was at his age.”
Sookie smiled at Eric’s parental pride and knew that she felt the same for the boy. She went over to the chest and got out a quilt. She was once again thankful for the speed of Eric and Pam, who not only had moved the furniture upstairs but also had put everything into place.
“This part is from the fairy realm,” Eric said, as he pointed out the small piece of carlottan wood on the footboard of the bed. Their intertwined initials were carved into it, and she touched her pendant, which had the same design. “Niall said that the tree this came from is a symbol of eternity and everlasting blessings.”
Sookie smiled. She came over to Eric and stroked the wood on the bed before raising her hand to stroke his cheek. “Thank you,” she whispered.
She took his hand, and they walked out onto the little balcony that had been added during the renovations.
“This is my first time out here,” Eric admitted as he sat in the lounger he’d made to accommodate both of them for mornings just like this one. He pulled Sookie down into him so that her back was against his chest. He settled his hands onto hers as they faced due east where the sun would rise right in front of them in a few minutes.
Eric watched appreciatively as the colors of the late-July morning—a mix of pinks, roses, oranges, and then reds―began to shatter the dark sky, trumpeting the approaching sun. He sighed and felt Sookie sigh along with him, their shared contentment resonating through both of their bonds.
He inhaled unnecessarily as the sun became visible, and he could feel Sookie probing the bond to make sure that he was okay.
“Do you know you’re doing that?” he asked quietly as he kissed the top of her head even as his eyes stayed focused on the rising orb.
Sookie nodded and chuckled, “I’m just checking on you like you always check on me.”
“Not just that,” Eric chuckled back.
“Huh?” Sookie asked. Then she assessed what she was doing. She was checking on Eric’s welfare through the bond—as she knew she’d been doing—but she was also sending him a steady, though slight stream of magic. “Huh,” she said. “I didn’t know that I was doing that.”
Eric twined his fingers into hers and pulled her more closely into him. “Mitt vackra mirakel.”
“Vackra?” Sookie asked.
“Beautiful,” Eric said. “My beautiful miracle.”
Sookie settled into her husband, though a part of her kept an eye on him through the bonds.
“Don’t worry, min kära. I will tell you when the sun warns me,” he said quietly against her temple. “Plus, I promised to wake Hunter before I needed to sleep, so we will go in at the first hint of danger.”
She nodded, closed her eyes, and relaxed into his body for a few minutes while he finished watching the sunrise.
“I have something to tell you, Eric,” she said softly after a while. She took a deep breath and felt nothing but peace about her decision. “All that has happened—especially our separation—has made me think about so many things. And I’ve also learned some things from Niall too.” She took another steadying breath, and knowing that she needed to see his eyes while she told him what she was about to, she sat up and turned around.
His own eyes shifted from the morning sun to her. He smiled. Indeed, she was the more beautiful of his two options in that moment. “You have green flecks in your eyes,” he said dreamily.
She smiled. “Like the leaves of mahogany trees?”
He nodded, “But more lovely.”
They looked at each other silently for a few moments.
“Eric,” Sookie said quietly, “when Niall took me into Faerie, he showed me a book that carried with it all of the knowledge and history of the Sky Fae.”
Sookie was a little surprised that she felt no pause in telling Eric about the book, given what Niall had said about its secrecy, but then again, Eric did share her blood and her heart, and she figured their bonds entwined them to the point that nothing could be held back between them.
She continued, “He told me that the book chooses only certain Sky Fae to share its knowledge and power with, and it had never chosen a hybrid before.”
“But it chose you,” Eric said, not surprised.
“Yes,” she confirmed. “And because of that, I was able to choose to take what Niall called the ‘light of my ancestors’ as well. Initially I was going to discuss it with you before completing the ritual, but then I felt that you were in trouble, so I,” she paused.
“So you took the light of your people so that you could come to save me,” Eric guessed. “And this is the ritual you told me about before—the one that accounts for your increased power and the new control you have over your Fae abilities?”
Sookie smiled, “Yes—that and the fact that I realized what it took to really get the most out of my power.”
Eric raised an eyebrow in question.
Sookie hit him on the chest lightly. “It took you, vampire. Actually, it took us. It took me realizing that when I tap into what we are and not what I am, then that is when I get that extra kick I need to kick ass.”
They both chuckled at her phrasing, and then she became serious again. “Niall was wrong, Eric. I didn’t need to be closer to the fairy in me to be more powerful. I just needed to be closer to the us in me—if that makes sense.”
Eric nodded and stroked her cheek lightly. “Maybe to no one else―but that makes perfect sense to me, min kván.”
Sookie took another breath. “Okay—so according to Niall, the light of my ancestors will enhance all my fairy-ness to its full potential, and I can already feel that with my abilities. But there is more.” She smiled.
“And you like this more, don’t you?” Eric asked, smiling back.
“Oh yes!” she said. “Niall thinks that the fairy booster from the ancestor light thingy plus just being near Faerie for all that time is gonna make me age more like a fairy.”
Eric’s smile widened as he realized where Sookie was going with this line of conversation. He couldn’t help himself. He pulled her to him in a tight embrace. “So I’ll,” his voice caught in emotion.
“So you’re gonna have me like this for a long time.” She pulled back and took in the radiant smile on his face, made even more radiant by the colors of the sun reflecting on his skin.
She continued. “And that’s not all, Eric. I’ve made a decision. My fairy-ness is probably gonna keep me alive and like I am for a long time, but eventually, my human-ness will age me. When that happens, I want you to turn me, Eric. Or if I attract more danger to me―as I always seem to do―and I’m gonna die because of it, then I want you to turn me.”
Eric’s smile had only grown. He’d waited for a long time for her final acceptance to spend her life with him as a vampire when the time came for that. Hearing her proclaim that choice out loud and feeling her certainty in the vampire bond made him joyful. And the knowledge that she’d get to say a very long goodbye to the humanity that she loved so much because of her Fae blood made him even more joyful.
She was still talking, and he was savoring every word. “Eric, you are my life, and I know that I’m yours too. Our souls are one soul, and our hearts are one heart, so it doesn’t really matter how we go through this life. Hell—Niall thinks that by the time we get to the point when I need to be made vampire, we may have both been changed into something brand new because of the sharing of our blood and because of our bonds. Who knows?” she asked as if relishing in all the possibilities.
He was relishing right along with her.
“All I know is that no matter what, we’ll always be one,” she continued as she raised her hand up to brush away the red tear that he didn’t even know was falling. “And I also know that with you, I can never say . . . ,” her voice caught in emotion as her own tears began to fall. She couldn’t finish her sentence.
He captured one of her tears with his thumb. “You can never say never,” he finished for her in a whisper.
“Never,” she managed as she kissed him.
After a few minutes of soft kisses passing between them―kisses that were a reaffirmation that they were together again and that was where they would stay―both of them sat up straight with huge smiles on their faces.
“Hunter,” they said as one.
Hunter had awoken shortly after the sunlight began to stream into his bedroom. He looked around his room and smiled when he saw that Emma was still sleeping next to him. He lightly squeezed her hand, which he’d taken before he went to sleep.
To Hunter, there was something inexplicably comforting about Emma’s presence that he couldn’t even understand, let alone name, but he was happy to see her snuggled up and safe.
Hunter let go of Emma’s hand and rubbed his eyes. His brows furrowed a little as he realized it was light outside. He was confused; his daddy hadn’t woken him up before going to sleep. Immediately, he worried that something else may have happened to his daddy.
However, when he moved his eyes to Batanya, who had an uncharacteristic smile on her face, his worry faded. Hunter knew that his guard wouldn’t be smiling like that if his daddy was still in trouble.
He used his telepathy to probe around him. He didn’t need to go far. Aunt Sookie’s head was in her and Daddy’s room, and that head was telling him that Daddy was there too! In addition, she was telling him to come and see them!
He jumped out of bed and was running full speed down the hall a moment later. He stepped into Daddy and Aunt Sookie’s room and scratched his blond head. He was surprised when he didn’t find them there right away. He also noticed that all the furniture that Daddy and he had made was in place.
“We’re out here,” he heard the voices of Daddy and Aunt Sookie say together. He looked at the open set of doors leading out to the balcony he’d never seen his daddy use before, and he cautiously approached, fearful of his daddy being in the sun.
He peaked outside with concern on his face.
“It’s okay, Son,” Eric said. “Remember that Aunt Sookie’s magic lets me be in the sun for a while sometimes.”
Hunter breathed a sigh of relief at both his daddy’s words and at seeing him. He launched his body at the vampire, who had sat up so that he could capture Hunter inside of a deep hug. Sookie had moved away a bit and was just enjoying the sight of father and son reunited. From Hunter’s head, she was getting joy, which she was also picking up from her vampire bond with Eric. Her cheeks burned because of the size of her smile.
Eric’s blue eyes opened to her, and once again she took a mental picture of his look. It was pure radiance.
Eric gestured for Sookie to join Hunter and him in their embrace, and when she did, he felt a kind of heaven that was probably too wonderful for any one being to have, but he took it all gratefully. He settled into the lounger with Sookie lying on one side of him and Hunter nestling into his other side. It wasn’t long before they were both dozing in his arms. The steady stream of Sookie’s magic in him didn’t stop when she fell asleep, so he continued to be safe in the sun, despite the fact that it grew brighter and the early August day promised to be a hot one. It wasn’t long before Odin jumped up on the lounger too, taking a place at the foot. A few minutes later—not to be left out—the cat jumped up too, and it settled against his returned mistress’s sleeping form with a dramatic flop.
Eric chuckled; the little cat was becoming more and more of a ‘ham,’ as humans called one who was over-theatrical. Eric decided right then and there what the perfect name for the creature would be. And he knew that Sookie and Hunter would approve. They’d call him, “Hamingja.” It meant ‘luck’ in the language of his human parents. And the creature could be “Ham” for short.
In that moment, Eric felt luckier than he’d ever been before—and more contented. He looked at the sun, which had now been in the sky for almost an hour, and even the previous twenty months without Sookie seemed like a gift to him. They had taught him to appreciate the moment he was living in more than he ever could have before.
Talking only to the sun in the sky, he whispered out a single word, “Valhalla.”