“Mr. Northman? Sir? Excuse me! Sir?”
Sookie’s flustered assistant continued to trail behind me, in spite of my blatant disregard, and sounded as though she was about to hyperventilate when she added, “I’m very sorry, but Mrs. Northman is very busy right now. If you would just have a seat, I’ll let her know you’re here.”
I was half-tempted to drop my fangs and hiss in her direction. It had been quite a while since I’d had the occasion to act like an asshole, but knowing my darling wife would take umbrage, I ignored her human and let myself into my wife’s office.
Busy or not, she was exhausted, but she wasn’t the only one who was sick and tired. Thanks to our bond I was feeling the effects of her weariness too.
Stronger than ever – now in its seventh decade – I was certain if either one of us attempted to break our bond now, as Sookie had done once before, neither one of us would survive the experience.
Nor would I want to.
Blue on blue, our eyes locked the moment I shut her office door and she gave me a small smile, but continued to speak to her business associates and ignored me otherwise. I didn’t take offense. I knew she was busy, which was why I had waited as long as I did before coming to her.
My beautiful bride might be nearing her hundredth birthday – even though she hadn’t aged at all since the night of our second bonding and would never admit to being a centenarian – but at times she could still act like a hormonal tween.
Especially as of late.
Her moods swung wildly. Giggling one moment, she’d be in tears the next. But that wasn’t my concern right now, instead focusing on her sheer exhaustion. Stubborn as the day I’d met her, she refused to take any time off from her work, using the excuse she had just returned from an extended leave.
While true, I didn’t give a fuck.
It hadn’t been by choice and could hardly be considered a vacation.
She worked because she wanted to, not because we needed the money. And while her position as the North American Liaison in the Department of Supernatural Affairs was an important position, nothing was more important to me than her and her wellbeing.
And right now nothing about her being was feeling very well.
Her call had barely ended when I captured her eyes with my own and said, “Get your things. We’re leaving.”
Her eyes rolled, more from exhaustion than annoyance, and she gestured to her cluttered desk, arguing, “I can’t Eric. I have all of this to get through before my meeting tomorrow morning.”
“I’m sure your snoring through the meeting would be titillating, but hardly constructive,” I volleyed back, with an arched brow.
“I don’t snore,” she grumbled.
I could sense her mood was turning sour, so I teased, “Then I must have been sharing a bed with John Deere for the last seventy years.”
Our bond began ascending up the rollercoaster of her emotions, with her sour mood forgotten and a more playful one taking its place, as she glared back at me saying, “Keep it up, Mister, and you’ll need a tractor since you’ll be forced to find another kind of meadow if you get the itch to plow through one.”
Her libido surpassed even my own at times.
I was a lucky vampire.
But she’d been so tired lately, we hadn’t done more than some making out and light petting since our return from the Fae Realm, two and a half weeks earlier. And while I always wanted her, I hadn’t minded or even had the urge to complain, knowing just how exhausted she’d been feeling.
And we’d both been more than satisfied before we returned to this world.
Fucking her under the sun in the fairy-scented Fae Realm had been fucking spectacular.
But I quickly reorganized my thoughts before I was forced to readjust my pants and filled our bond with my concern for her, while saying, “Really, Lover. You need to rest.”
And for once, she didn’t argue with me.
I loved that she could still surprise me after all of this time.
She was hiding something from me.
It had been four weeks since we’d been back and her exhaustion was still prevalent in our bond, but now it was tinged with worry.
Our bond made it impossible to keep much of anything from each other, but knowing there were times when one just needed to deal with whatever issue was bothering them, we’d both learned when to back off and give the other space.
One such time had been when her brother had finally passed away a decade earlier and she’d crawled inside of herself for weeks.
It was the one and only time I’d been afraid of losing her.
But I’d given her the space she’d needed then and allowed her to come back to me on her own. Now, though, I got the sense something similar was going on and had nothing tangible to hold accountable for her actions.
She was acting secretive.
Her demeanor was off.
Any questions posed by me as to the cause were met by her wide eyes and stuttered denials.
Interrogating my wife was at the top of my short list of things I never wanted to do, so I did the next best thing.
I had her followed.
Her telepathy made it so that I couldn’t choose just any private investigator if she would be able to read their thoughts and know their mission. Her ability to move about freely during the daytime meant using a vampire was impossible, so I went one step beyond.
My bonded was priceless to me, so the cost of hiring a Britlingen was nothing.
I’d known from our experience in Rhodes she could sense their presence, much like a vampire’s void, but with their ability to cloak themselves, I hoped she wouldn’t notice.
And she hadn’t.
Lursa had been able to remain undetected for nearly a week, following my bonded’s every step as she moved about. Her daily reports were filled with nothing but Sookie’s meetings with her colleagues and the occasional lunch with one of her girlfriends. Nothing that appeared out of place or unexpected.
Nothing to confirm my suspicion that she was keeping something from me.
But it was on Day Six of her reconnaissance mission that everything seemed to fall apart.
Sookie wasn’t home when I’d risen for the night, which wasn’t all that unusual anymore, so I checked my email to read Lursa’s report when the bottom seemed to fall out from under me.
Sookie had been to see Ludwig. Lursa wasn’t sure of what the appointment entailed – not wanting to get close enough to alert Sookie of her presence – but it had been just the two of them in the office and when Sookie left, she’d been in tears.
She still did the occasional favor for the doctor, listening in on the thoughts of patients too traumatized to speak their fears aloud, so I didn’t think much of it at first.
A hundred year old part-fairy, bonded to a thousand year old vampire, my wife still had a tender human heart, whose strings were easily pulled.
But instead of returning to work or home, she’d driven all the way to Bon Temps and visited her family’s graves.
She’d been in tears the entire time, but hadn’t said a word out loud.
We still owned her ancestor’s farmhouse, but we hadn’t stayed there in years. Sookie had given up on the idea she needed the house to remind her of her roots.
She’d said I was the only foundation she couldn’t live without.
So when her brother had finally passed and with him, her last tie to the life she’d once lived, she allowed his children and grandchildren to take over the running of the household indefinitely.
And while she’d forgiven her grandmother her secrets, she rarely felt the need to go to the cemetery. So while it too was unusual, it wasn’t unheard of, but it was her next stop that gave me pause.
Lursa had followed Sookie to the town’s church.
The last time she’d entered any place of worship had been for her brother’s funeral. While she was still spiritual, she no longer believed in one almighty God and instead her faith encompassed a more earthly spirituality.
And given everything she’d been feeling – everything she’d not been saying to me – I could only draw one conclusion.
She was dying.
She could have contracted some sort of mystery fairy disease when we’d been in the Fae Realm, helping Niall fight off the attempted coup. Sookie had been there for a little more than two days earth time, during one of her scheduled visits to recharge her fairy spark, when our bond erupted like Mount Vesuvius. I couldn’t have ignored it if I’d tried, but the force of it was able to draw me straight through the portal and into their world.
Not even being in another world could have kept us apart.
The weeks we’d spent there turned out to be months here, but she’d appeared fine when we’d left. If anything, I had been the only to experience symptoms – if you could call it that – by being able to be in the sun and not burn up from it.
At times I would have even sworn my heart had been able to beat for the first time in a millennia.
But just as the realization she could be dying came to me, I heard the front door open in the next and only then realized I could feel her close by through our bond. So I flew from the bed and into the foyer, prepared to turn her right then and there, when I was greeted with her accusatory eyes.
“You had me followed?”
That so wasn’t the important issue right now and in my anger, my mouth took off on its own by hissing out, “I will do whatever I have to do when it comes to you. You know this.”
Never one to back down – least of all from me – she took another step closer and poked my chest with her accusing finger as she hissed back, “Why can’t you have a little faith in me and let me come to you when I’m ready?”
“Why can’t you have a little faith in me and know there is nothing I wouldn’t do for you?” I yelled back. “You’re my bonded! I should be the one you can come to with anything, no matter what it is, so we can deal with it together!”
Her face heated up and I was sure I was in danger of getting fried with her fricassee fists, when she yelled, “Maybe there are times when our bond does jack shit and I need to figure things out on my own before bringing you into it!”
Done with her stalling – and terrified of what was to come – I waved her off and said, “You’ve just been delaying the inevitable. Make whatever calls you need to make to rearrange your schedule because I’m done waiting for you to tell me jack shit.”
“What?” she asked, feeling genuinely confused. “What calls? What are you talking about?”
“I’m sure your eternal absence from your morning meetings will be noticed,” I scoffed. “And I need to contact Pam so she can clear her schedule and remain here while we’re underground. Lursa can stay here for the next three days to guard us while the sun is up.”
“What?” she repeated, feeling even more confused.
But the fact she’d felt any confusion at all only gave me pause.
To become even more terrified.
“We’ve discussed this,” I reminded her, taking her by the shoulders and staring into her eyes. “You agreed when the time came, I would turn you. I’m not going to lose you.”
The thought alone was enough to weaken my knees.
“And you think the time is now?” she asked incredulously. “Why?”
“I’d prefer if we didn’t wait until you’re actually knocking on death’s door.”
“What?” she repeated once more, only this time she added, “You think I’m dying?”
I was sure my expression all but said, ‘Duh!’
From decades spent with her brother, I was sure.
“Eric,” she said more calmly than she actually felt. “I’m not dying.”
“Then what is it that had you going from Ludwig’s, to your family’s graveside, to church?” I asked. “What’s made you feel so not like yourself over the last month?”
My fear only grew in tandem with hers, so I was quite possibly the palest vampire on earth, when she finally whispered, “I’m pregnant.”
“What?” I asked, repeating her own question back to her.
It was impossible.
Not only would I have been able to tell from both our bond and my sense of smell if she had been unfaithful, I knew in my core she would never stray.
In. My. Core.
We had discussed the possibility of having a child of our own in the past. Technological advances in medicine meant we could have selected a donor who not only resembled me in physical appearance, but we could even select the gender. But she’d always claimed it wasn’t something she’d wanted. She’d said she was happy spoiling her brother’s offspring and then their offspring. That our lifestyle wasn’t conducive to raising a child of our own.
Her job was our only obligation and it was one she could leave at a moment’s notice if the mood struck.
“I’m pregnant,” she repeated, while tears filled her eyes. “I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want you to think I cheated on you because I haven’t, but Doctor Ludwig said she’s sure. I’m knocked up and somehow, you’re the one that did it.”
“The Fae Realm,” I guessed out loud.
I’d fucked her six ways from Sunday when all was said and done.
Bloodlust was our mutual aphrodisiac.
And as I pulled her into my arms and kissed the tears from her cheeks, I felt my own forming in the corners of my eyes at the thought of laying eyes on a little person in the very near future.
One who was a little bit of Sookie.
And a little bit of me.
“Again,” she whispered, stubbornly fighting against her eyelids’ want to close.
So much like her mother.
But I closed the book I could recite from memory and kissed the top of her head, saying, “Tomorrow. Right now, little ones need to go to sleep.”
“But Daadddyyy,” she whined, using her most lethal weapon against me.
My baby’s baby blues.
So I opened the book and started back from the beginning, while Sookie smiled at us from the doorway and whispered, “Sucker.”
I couldn’t really refute it.
Sleep seemed to finally win out over her stubborn nature halfway through the tale, so I gently closed the book and kissed the top of her head, still just as awestruck now almost three years later, as I had been when Sookie had first told me the news our little miracle was on her way.
She’d been right. I should have had more faith in her.
But I’d learned my lesson and found an ingenuous way to never forget it.
As I bid my daughter a good night, and stood from her bed, she sleepily returned the sentiment in a whispered, “’Night Daddy.”
Unable to contain the smile, with the love that always filled me hearing her precious little voice, I gently pulled her door shut, while whispering in return, “Sweet dreams, Faith.”