Sookie came home three hours later, laden with pastel shopping bags from a store called Egg. She was still wearing Pam’s black track suit, the one Pam left behind in case she was tasked with wet work and needed an outfit she didn’t mind ruining. She had an envelope in her hand alongside her keys.
I prowled on the dark landing of my stairs, making sure Alcide didn’t follow her inside. My daywalking was still secret from everyone but Pam, and I wasn’t about to make the wolf suspicious by lounging around in my living room watching tv at five o’clock in the afternoon. Luckily, he stayed in his truck, only driving away once Sookie had locked the door behind her.
The physical space between us had been agony, as usual. Her Radia had been seriously displeased, choking my heart as punishment for letting Sookie leave its comfort orbit of ten feet. After thirty minutes of Sookie’s absence, the Radia, cruel little mistress that she was, began filling my head with horrible images of Sookie getting into a car wreck. Seeing a squid-like monster on the ultrasound. Kidnapped by another pack of wolves. Even smiling sweetly at the male nurse behind the desk at the clinic as he blatantly eye fucked her, all while she heard him wondering if it would be strange to ask a pregnant woman to dinner. The last one had me ordering more online groceries to be delivered to the house, with emphasis on leafy greens, red meat, bean salads, and anything else the internet suggested I feed a growing fetus.
I knew the Radia was goading me, showing me my worst fears in an attempt to propel me into the daylight and retrieve her. Or perhaps it was all my own doing. I wasn’t sure. Whatever the case, I only began to feel better once I felt her getting closer and closer, until she walked through the door, moving through the rooms she was beginning to know well.
From my perch high on the mezzanine, I watched her as she set her purse down on the entry table before turning back to the wall and reactivating the security system. Her mind was focused on her task as her small hand danced over the number pad. She wasn’t paying attention to our bond and was unaware of my presence.
I watched her ponytail hop from one shoulder to the other, making swishing noises on the godawful material of her track jacket. I watched the seductive curve of her neck as she cocked her head, remembering the long string of numbers needed to lock us in. I leaned forward, trying to peek into the bags at her side, ascertaining that she appeared to have bought clothing, which pleased me. She needed new things for her ever-changing figure. As I’d discovered just that morning when she’d spent hours administering my “physical”, her stomach was growing at a phenomenal rate. I made a mental note to be careful with her new wardrobe, as I was learning to be careful with the exquisitely finespun rest of her. She kept laughing at me, calling me silly, saying she wasn’t made of crystal and my precautions were unnecessary.
Of course not. I shattered crystal all the time and forgot about it as quickly as the noise died down. This was Sookie carrying my baby. So I kept my hands and body as soft as a monster was capable. Her maternity clothes would require the same consideration. A gentle man did not tear the clothes off his pregnant woman anyway. He removed them slowly. Very slowly. My own father, gruff asshole that he often was, had morphed into a fawning pussycat when my mother carried my baby sister. She had smiled just as indulgently as Sookie did with me when he repadded their bedding with more furs and sang softly against her swollen belly. He gave her the choicest cuts of every deer kill. He rubbed her aching back and calves. He even broke with tradition and breached the threshold of the women’s blood hut, staying at her side as she endured labor, as I was told he had done at my birth as well. He couldn’t help himself. The blood-caked warrior king went stupid with domestic contentment while his queen made new life.
Evidently it was genetic.
Sookie set her shopping down by the door. Turning, she leaned back against it, lifting the envelope and, with shaky fingers, opened the flap and pulled out several pictures. Their white backs faced me, I could only see her expression as she fanned them out in her hands. The envelope fell to the floor.
After several uneven breaths, she smiled weakly at the photos.
“Hi, baby,” she whispered uncertainly. “I… I don’t know what’s going on, or who you are, but don’t you worry. I’m here. I’ll… I’ll keep you safe.” She gave a stuttering laugh, dropping her head to her chest, then quickly lifting it again. “Baby boy. I’m here. Everything’s gonna be okay.”
I was in front of her in a flash, flying diagonally from ceiling to floor. She yelped, sending the photos flying in all directions. She continued to smile for me, even though she’d plastered herself to the door in surprise at my appearance. Unable to tear my eyes away from her, I reached down and picked up a photo from the floor without looking.
I held it up. A small, unmistakable profile of a baby, drawn in the hazy mechanical lines of sonar, met my gaze.
My hand trembled slightly as I slowly slid the picture into my back pocket. I would carry it with me for the rest of my life. I took Sookie by the shoulders, drilling her with my most predatory glare.
“What are you giving me?”
Her eyes were huge. Her heart beat in her chest like a caged bird. She looked impossibly fragile and beautiful. “I…”
“WHAT?! Are you giving me?” I barked. I wanted her to say it again. More than I wanted anything with the exception of her.
She jumped under my hands at my shout. With her shoulders pinned to the door, she leaned her head towards me and whispered softly, “A son.”
I lost my mind for the next few minutes. I don’t remember what I’d said or how it came to pass that Sookie and I were naked on my hard, cold floor. The photos remained scattered around us. I’d apparently ripped her shopping bags apart and made an impromptu nest to buffer her back and head while I pistoned into her nubile body, staring into her wide, startled eyes. Her hands cupped my back in reassurance, her mind telling me that whatever mania had me pumping into her like an animal, it was okay. She would help me through it.
She peppered warm kisses on my face and neck, whispering to me as I pounded out my violent joy.
Her arms began to slacken as my pace left her sweating, boneless, and gasping against more orgasms than she could withstand.
I leaned down to her lips, mindful of the precious cargo between us.
I kissed her softly. “What are you giving me?”
Her eyes fluttered. “A son,” she moaned again sweetly.
“How many more will you give me?”
She fought her drugged state to look at me clearly. I saw a spark of defiance in the sea of exhaustion. “Three?”
I snarled. Gripping her by the hair, I pulled her head back, baring her perfect throat. I nipped her chin in disapproval. “No. More. How many?”
“Five.” Her answer held slightly more sass than the first.
I grabbed her soothing hands from my back and pinned them over her head, into the mess of polka dots and sunny hues beneath us.
“More! How many?!”
She bowed upwards into my face, fearless. “Ten!”
“Better!” I roared. “And as many daughters! In having a boy, you’re in debt for my girl children. We start the month after his birth!”
She swore at me, then closed her eyes and whimpered my name as her body took over and clenched around my relentless cock. How would she ever give birth to our children when her pussy narrowed to the width of a dime? I bellowed as my release was choked out of me. Sookie sobbed against me, clasping my hands, her body alive with tremors as she rode out the electrical storm that occurred in a sated Fae.
I kept my weight on my hands and knees. My forehead pressed into her damp hairline, I whispered little gratitudes and compliments in my old tongue, and delighted when she returned them in the same. She truly was the most astounding thing.
She eased her fingers from mine and resumed stroking down the length of my spine, snaking her index finger between each vertebrae.
I chuckled as her mind resumed sending me balm for my temporary insanity.
“One day,” I rasped against her lips, “I will be able to look at you and not lose my mind.”
“Not me,” she said hoarsely. “There’s no cure for what you do to me, and I don’t want one.”
I gently surged forward, edging deeper inside her, pressing my body into her, noting how her soft flesh molded into my harsher anatomy.
“How was your appointment? What did Ludwig say?”
“Are you sittin’ down? I’m pregnant.”
“With what again?” I squinted, trying to recall.
She sighed in exasperation. “Your son.”
“Fucking yes you are.”
“Caveman. Anyway, everything’s all good, as far as she could tell. Head, shoulders, knees and toes. She took more blood. She gave me vitamins. I got to listen to his heart beat.”
My own clenched in jealousy. She applied more balm to me. “Why dontchu take a listen for yourself?”
She pecked me, the pushed me down by the shoulders until my ear was against her stomach, as it had been earlier that day. I had heard him kick, but I hadn’t detected his heart. It should have been as clear as Sookie’s, but I’d simply assumed that his heartbeat, like his scent, was being purposefully elusive.
I pushed all of my focus into my ear canals. I picked up, then eliminated the traffic of Sookie’s body. Her own heartbeat. The rush of her circulation. The small windstorm of her breathing. The flap of her eyelids. The rustling of her hair. I pushed them all away, concentrating hard.
Every bit as faint as his scent, but every bit as real… his heart. On finding it, I went deathly still. It faded a bit, as if hiding. I tightened my ear to her, desperate to keep it. Without thinking, I threw out a mental plea, similar in the way I communicated with Sookie, asking the tiny life to please stay and talk to me. I wasn’t sure why I’d done so. I had no mental tie with this child as I did with his mother. I wasn’t even sure if such a connection was possible with such a nascent mind. I just didn’t want it to leave, not when hearing it did caused such a wonderous ache in me.
And he must have heard me.
My child, who seemed capable to cloaking himself so well against detection, allowed his heart to beat as loudly as an ordinary baby’s would. The sound went from muted to thunderous in my head. I gasped at the change in volume. It was fast and strong, ringing out in Sookie’s belly like an iron bell.
My son heard me.
He knew me.
He knew he could bare himself to me, unlike the rest of my kind.
I trapped him in my hands, breathing him in as I listened.
Sookie held still and patient under me. “Anything?” she whispered, not wanting to disturb my quest.
I nodded very slightly. “He knows I’m here,” I replied quietly. “He’s letting me listen.”
Sookie gave a soft, shuddering breath. “Amazing, isn’t it?”
I was silent and just held her, pressing my love through the barrier of her skin. She held my head, her thumbs rubbing my forehead. Together, we lay quietly, the three of us absorbed in each other.
After many minutes, Sookie finally spoke. “We need a name. Something better than Moses Skywalker Stackhouse-Northman.”
“Too late. I’ve already ordered the monogram.”
“Unorder it. It sucks ass. What about a family name? Your dad maybe? Or uncles?”
“You’re thoughtful to offer, but my father’s name was Björn and my uncles Olof and Styrbjörn. I wouldn’t wish those names on any modern child.”
“Yikes,” she giggled. “Okay, do you object to Bible names?”
“No. As far as themes go, I only object to place names and action verbs. No Dakota. No Buck. No Ticonderoga. No Chase.”
She giggled throughout my list.
We didn’t speak for awhile again, returning to silence for her and the pounding drum of her womb for me.
She picked up a lace bra from our nest, idly letting it tangle around her fingers.
“What about Adam? Do you like Adam?”
I lifted my head, gazing up her beautiful body until I reached her questioning eyes. “The first man.”
“Yeah. Seems… I dunno. Fitting.”
Her uncertainty was adorable. I looked down at her belly. Her navel had almost popped outwards against the strain. I put my lips to it. “What do you think, my son?” I asked. “Shall you be Adam Stackhouse-Northman when you enter this world?”
He didn’t answer. He simply thumped away, his heart just as loud as before. I took it as assent.
I looked back up at my queen. “He agrees to your choice. Adam will be our first.”
I was about to tease her for her trembling lower lip and emotional reaction to the naming of our child when my phone rang in my pocket somewhere nearby. I cursed. Why was someone always encroaching on our private moments?
The clock on the wall said it was seven o’clock. Had Sookie really been home for two hours? It felt like minutes. The sun had set, so that meant anyone could be calling, including vampires. I had to make myself available as king.
I cursed again, lifting from the arms of my woman, and found my pants. I stabbed the green button blinking below Private Number. “Northman.”
“Good. You’re awake. I’ve run some tests and thought you’d like to hear my findings,” the doctor’s dry voice informed me. My glamor had obviously allowed the woman to remember to call me with new information. Good.
I needed to get dressed and get to Fangtasia. I had several meetings over the course of the evening. I balanced the phone on my shoulder and stepped into my pants. “Tell me.”
Sookie took my cue, rising from her pile of clothing, sighing in resignation that we were done for the night. Her nude, young body looked absolutely edible as she began to lift and refold her new things before piling them up according to garment type. She bent at the waist, flashing her pert ass at me, only to straighten and provoke me with her cute little bump. Innocently done, but I saw it as outrageously provocative. It was on the tip of my tongue to order her to stay naked.
Luckily, the antithesis of provocative distracted me.
“Your semen yielded no information. It was a vampire sample like all others I’ve seen,” Ludwig said.
“It’s your blood that intrigues me. Rather, your bloods.”
“I examined the sample you provided. Alone, it’s unremarkable. Inert, as all vampire blood is. That is, until it came into proximity to Sookie’s blood.”
I waited. She resumed.
“I decided to test them alongside each other. When I placed one drop of each on a level slide, they came together like magnets, dragging across the glass until they merged as one large drop.”
“Interesting was a weigh station fifty miles back, Northman. Let me finish.”
“All right,” I said.
“I tested them again. This time I allowed them to inhabit the same slide, but I surrounded yours with a circle of silver dust. It tested every direction, looking for a break in line of poison before it finally just slogged across it, burning the majority of itself away. The small amount that survived the crossing limped to Sookie’s drop, which had been making its way towards yours, but not fast enough for its liking. Your battered drop fell into hers like it was home from ‘Nam. Her drop curled around that smaller, burned drop, as if it wanted to heal its broken mate.”
She’d asked me not to interrupt and I didn’t. I was happy not to. While her description didn’t surprise me, it still amazed me.
She let me absorb that, then went on. “Finally, I put two vials of each blood sample next to each other on the counter. Sweet Christ. The blood roiled in their tubes, seeming to grow frustrated. The vials themselves grew hot and pressurized until they shattered under the strain. Your bloods united again, puddling as a single body, growing calm until it settled down entirely. Picture of innocence. Someone walking in ten minutes after the event would never have had a clue about the impossibility that just occurred.”
I still did not speak.
She gave a pained clearing of her throat. “I imagine I could have run tests of this nature all day until I ran out of sample. Your bloods need each other. They’re drawn to each other. They fight for and heal each other. As a medical professional, I can’t help but violate my scientific beliefs and assume I’ve witnessed a miracle.”
“Am I allowed to say ‘interesting’ now?” I asked.
“Sure. Astonish me with your cool head. Meanwhile, mine’s on fire. The only conclusion that’s in keeping with my examinations of Sookie and both your blood is that you are the father of her child. Given their attachment, I doubt your bodies would have allowed anything else.”
“I continue to see Sookie every day. That’s all I can offer at this point.”
“Fine. See you tomorrow evening.”
“I’d rather see her during the dayti-,”
“I don’t care. I’m at her side for every appointment from now on. Fangtasia at midnight. Understood?”
“I’m charging double.”
“Beautiful.” I hung up.
As I turned to Sookie, I was greeted with a vision in a mint green sundress. She looked exactly the same as she always did, only a tiny bulge, which the dress artfully concealed most of, betrayed her. Bare feet, wild hair, and beestrung lips swollen from my kisses.
“I love you,” I said simply.
She smiled and curtseyed, holding the ends of her dress. “Thank you, my king.”
I relayed what Ludwig had told me. Sookie let out a long, low whistle. “Well if that don’t beat all.”
We went upstairs. I put on a new shirt while she hung and shelved her new clothes. She turned to me. “You mind if I stay home tonight? Maybe call Jason over for dinner? And try to contact Claudine again about this Custos business? I haven’t slept today and I’m feelin’ it.”
I nodded. “Yes. In fact, we must decide how to procede now that you’re showing so clearly. Fangtasia isn’t safe for something as tempting as a pregnant Fae. Nor is it wise to advertize. Stay here. Call your brother. I’ll glamor him later to forget the address.”
She smiled and hugged me. “I’ll miss you.”
“And I you.”
I tipped her chin up and smiled into her dark eyes. “An ocean of silver can’t keep me from you.”