The Wedding: Chapter 8 – Rolling in the Rushes

Author’s Note: Thank you to Breathesgirl and Ms Buffy! These lovely women pre-read and polish these chapters. I am in their debt.

And you those of you who read my work: anyone can scribble on a page. It is by having others read that a person transcends from writer to author. Thank you for the honor you do me.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author.  The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise.  No copyright infringement is intended.

The Wedding

It was late when Sookie and Tara pulled up to the DuRone house. Owen followed. He would be sleeping on a sofa in the small office downstairs.

Sookie protested bringing a guard for this trip. She informed Eric she would be with people every minute of every day. No one would be able to approach her undetected and tying up someone else’s time was just silly. Eric was unmoved. Thalia was unmoved. Even Charles and Owen rolled their eyes, and Sookie threw up her hands, barked out ‘Fine!’ and stomped off to pack.

“I hate that word!” Eric grumbled.

“Then you shouldn’t be married,” Charles mumbled, keeping his eyes down so the King could ignore him if he chose.

Once the cars came to a stop, between greeting the children and saying hi to JB, Sookie found she barely had time to drop her suitcase before she was falling into bed and closing her eyes.

The next morning, they had a noisy, busy breakfast. It was Saturday and JB’s mom came over. Young Bob headed over to Michele’s house to hang out with JC. Sarah was heads-down on her phone. “Snap chat,” Tara rolled her eyes.

As soon as everyone was settled, Tara and Sookie got in one car and Owen shadowed them in another as they headed to the house on Hummingbird Lane. Michele was already in the driveway waiting when they arrived. Sookie pulled the key from her pocket and turned to Owen. “I’ll be patrolling,” he informed her and headed for the tree line at an easy lope.

Once they were inside, the women walked from room to room. Michele and Tara measured, and helped Sookie sketch out each on a yellow notepad. “It will help you figure out where you want to put the furniture,” Tara told her.

There were catalogs from several furniture manufacturers stacked in the kitchen. Sookie had received an email from Dermot telling her she had a furniture account set up as a wedding gift and she could order anything from the catalogs. All she had to do was call a number that was clipped to the first magazine and the purchases would be charged to the account. The emailed instructions didn’t mention any dollar limit. In fact, the message encouraged her to buy as much as she liked. “It is our fondest wish that you should have the home you desire,’ the message concluded.

Eventually the three made it up to the third floor master suite. As Sookie showed them the bathroom and the walk-in closet, Michele whistled and Tara hugged her. “You so deserve this, girl!” she said, her eyes moving from one feature to the next.

Then Sookie headed to the closed double doors. She held her breath, bracing for the feelings she had when she saw that bed, but when the doors opened, they revealed an empty space. Sookie let out her breath and turned to see her friends’ smiling faces. Sookie expected to feel relieved, and initially she was, but as they walked around the space, talking about what could be done and whether Sookie wanted a television up here, the telepath found her eyes returning to the bed space, half expecting to see the beautiful bed had magically returned.

“Well, why don’t we head downstairs and get started?” Tara announced, pulling the telepath from her thoughts and together they walked down to the kitchen.

This wasn’t Michele’s first time at the property, but it was her first since the house was finished. “Love the appliances,” she ran her hand down the black, glossy surface before opening the refrigerator door to find it was stocked with bottled water and a bowl of fruit. Shrugging, they pulled things out and set up around the kitchen island. They spent the next hours flipping through catalog pages that displayed photographs of one room design after another. When Sookie saw something she liked, they walked back into the room they intended to furnish, standing in the light, and using the tape measure Michele brought to figure out placements for couches and tables, rugs and chairs.

Tara wrote down item numbers and quantities. When they got a good start on the first floor, Michele said, “What about the second floor?” At the thought of all those bedrooms, Sookie hesitated.

“Maybe we can hold off on those,” she found herself blushing.

Michele smirked, “Yeah, better wait to see how many cribs, huh?”

Tara shot her a look, “You thinking about starting right away?”

“No!” Sookie gasped, “No, I’m not! That’s the point, and I really don’t want to talk about it anymore.”

“I’m sorry,” Michele laid her hand on Sookie’s arm, “I didn’t know you were having second thoughts.”

“I’m not,” Sookie shook her head, “I just have enough on my plate right now. After all, “and she looked away again, “Eric and I have plenty of time to figure it out.”

“Of course you do,” Tara said and squeezed her friend’s hand. “So, what about that master that I’m going to take away from you? We could look for some furniture for that, right?”

Sookie found she could breathe again, and they looked through bedroom pictures. There were a variety of styles, but Sookie was finding it hard to picture any of them as being right in the space. She finally narrowed it down to three choices. There was a sleigh bed, a sleek, contemporary piece, and another that reminded her of the bedframe on her Gran’s bed. “I don’t want to make a final decision until Eric has a chance to weigh in,” Sookie smiled, “After all, it’s the bed he’ll be sleeping in, too.”

“Dollar says he could care less,” Tara laughed.

“I’ll take that action,” Michele smiled. “Northman strikes me as more of a control freak. He’ll have an opinion!”

“Guess we’ll just have to see!” Sookie laughed, but she couldn’t escape the uneasy feeling that there was only one bed for that space, and she wasn’t going to find it in the catalog.

Tara called the number Dermot provided, and with the other two looking on, started reading down the list of items they had selected. The female voice that answered seemed incredibly well-versed on the items, and asked questions about color and finishes. She seemed to have knowledge that wasn’t included in the catalogs, and when the woman asked about lamps, Tara put her on speaker phone. Together they finished flipping pages, adding lamps for tables and a few more area rugs. When Sookie asked about delivery, the woman told them not to worry. Everything would be in place in the next few days.

“Will there be anything else today?” the voice asked.

“Well, gosh! No, no I think we’ve done enough damage for one day!” Sookie giggled. It was like a day out of a dream and she kept waiting to wake up.

“If you have a minute, Miss Stackhouse,” the voice said, and then a different voice was on the phone.

“Hello, Granddaughter!” Sookie immediately recognized Niall’s voice. “I’m so happy you decided to take advantage of my gift. I hope you will continue to use this account and finish purchasing those things you wish to have around you. When you return to your brother’s house you will find more books. I am informed that you need household goods. Linens, dishes, pans. I recall you are fond of cooking. I wish to make certain you have everything necessary to prepare meals, but if I have missed something, you need only mention it. I wish you to be able to turn your new house into a home. I wish very much for you to consider this house your home, Sookie, the place where you belong.”

“Thank you Great-Grandfather,” Sookie stuttered. Tara was looking wide-eyed, and Michele was, too. Sookie wasn’t sure what they were hearing, but she had the impression it wasn’t the same thing. He suspicions were confirmed when together, Michele and Tara stood up and walked out of the kitchen, leaving Sookie alone with the phone.

“I will send you the names and numbers of some decorators,” her Great Grandfather continued, “You may wish to purchase some pieces for your walls. Of course, it is possible that Northman will take care of that. He has a rather extensive collection, as I recall.”

“He does?” It was news to Sookie. She and Eric were pretty well settled in New Orleans, but there weren’t many of what Sookie might consider personal items. Most of Sookie’s things were lost in the fire that took the original homestead here. Even in their retreat, most of the furniture and furnishings had been purchased, either new or from stores that specialized in antiques or collectibles. Sookie knew Eric owned several homes in this area before he went to Oklahoma. Sookie was familiar with his primary residence and spent nights there. She had been impressed by his artwork and decorations and she realized she didn’t see any of those items in New Orleans. “I’ll have to ask him,” she stammered.

“Would you take me off speaker?” her Grandfather asked. It was a reasonable request, but Sookie was too aware that this wasn’t some kindly Grandfather with a big bank account. This was Niall, a dealer in tricks and magic. The idea of holding his voice close to her ear had her swallowing hard. ‘He is my relative,’ Sookie reminded herself, ‘he won’t intimidate me!’ and she hit the button.

“There we go,” she said, letting him know she made the change, then added, “The house is beautiful, Grandfather. Thank you so much for this gift.”

“It is little enough for my Granddaughter,” then the Prince said, “I hope my excitement and happiness for your future has not made you uncomfortable. I only wish the best for you.” He paused before adding, “I notice you have not ordered any bedroom furniture.”

And that was enough. Sookie felt her face flush as she said, “You just need to stop! You tell me you care for me and you want me to be happy, but that’s not really it, is it? It’s really about what you want. Until now, a part of what I dreamed about for my future was a family and babies. But now? What is it with you? Why is this so important that it doesn’t matter what I want or how I feel about it?”

Her Grandfather was quiet and but she felt a pressure all around her and she found herself facing him. Niall was wearing his grey suit, the jacket fastened just so, and his long hair was pulled back from his face. He stepped forward and took the phone from her hand, laying it on the counter. Sookie felt that wonderful sense of well-being she associated with being close to the Fae. Niall smiled and waited for her to draw a breath. He just looked at her with his deep, green eyes and then his mouth turned down, “Oh, bonding sickness,” he nodded, “How long have you been apart?”

“Apart? From Eric?” Sookie asked.

“Of course,” Niall said as if it was the most natural thing in the world to ask.

“Since yesterday,” Sookie answered. Her Grandfather took her hand and stepped in close. He kissed her and pulled her into a hug, and Sookie felt the low-level strain she hadn’t even realized was there lift from her. The ache around her heart that she did recognize also lessened.

“There, Granddaughter. That will help make you more comfortable.” Sookie had the impression he might have really meant ‘more reasonable.’  “I have selected your trainer. She is adept at channeling energy. She will help you learn to draw from your environment to offset the effects of being separated from the Viking. I imagine you will want to travel apart from time to time.” He smiled in that kindly way he had, “These vampire bonds are wonderful, but they can be demanding as well, ensuring that partners never stray too far from each other. I believe the magic evolved as a defense mechanism.” He was glancing around, then brought his eyes back, looking for all the world like a professor who caught himself giving a history lesson, “but you would be most interested in how the bond serves to tie you in place.”

“I see what you’re doing,” Sookie wasn’t fooled. “I know the bond makes being apart from Eric more difficult, but I don’t see it as a trap, and I don’t appreciate you trying to tell me it is. I made my choice, and that’s the difference. This business here?” and Sookie glanced around the room so her Grandfather knew she meant the house and all that came with it, “This doesn’t feel like a choice. This feels like you working me into whatever corner you choose and then expecting me to be too stupid to figure it out.”

“You are my granddaughter!” the Prince pulled himself up to his full height and Sookie could feel his anger, “You are not stupid, and I would never wish you to think that about yourself. You have shown remarkable resiliency and you continue to demonstrate grace and strength through challenges that would have crushed others. You are a Queen now among your mate’s creatures, and the heir to another realm although you have shown little interest in learning about it. Is it wrong for me to desire that you open your eyes to your heritage? How can you expect to make the right choice if you have no knowledge of the worlds that are open to you?”

“And that’s what this is all about? Helping me understand my Fae heritage? Not getting me pregnant?” Sookie’s eyes blazed, “So, that bed that was here, and the crazy way my body reacted to the jewelry you sent? That was about teaching me how to be Fae?”

“You will control your temper!” Niall snapped, “I am a Prince and you will remember that!”

It was as if cold water had been thrown over her, and Sookie felt a moment of fear, looking at the creature who stared at her, sliding just under her Grandfather’s skin. “Well?” she said, but more reasonably.

“As you said, you have ever wished for a family. You have told me you love the Viking, and I am certain that he has tied himself to you. I am anxious for you to have all the things you wish, and I have invested resources to make sure that will happen. I admit, I have been a little heavy-handed, and that was a mistake. Please forgive a meddling Grandfather who looks forward to holding babies again,” and Niall gathered her hand in his and bowed over it in a courtly gesture. “It has been many ages, and I find that as my years are now drawing toward their end, I yearn for the sound of young voices among our kind. I yearn for our future,” and the eyes that looked into hers drew her into their depths and she saw both pain and great longing. She could feel his loss of kin. She felt the deaths of Fintan, Dillon, and her Crane cousins, and his wish for new hope.

“Just give me some time,” Sookie heard herself saying, “I just need to settle a bit.”

“Of course,” and he was her kindly Grandfather again. “Now, I am sure you have many things to do before your little ceremony here. I am very much looking forward to seeing you in two weeks,” and the Prince stepped back.

“Me too,” Sookie said, but her words were said to empty space. The Prince was gone. Sookie took a deep breath and then wandered out the open front door to find Tara and Michele sitting on the porch furniture.

“Everything all right?” Michele asked.

“Well, sure,” Sookie said as brightly as she could. She looked out at the crazy, overgrown jungle that surrounded them, and it all seemed very beautiful to her. She noticed both women gazing in the same direction. “What you all looking at?”

“The roses,” Tara said without hesitation. Sookie glanced over at the bushes that were her Grandmother’s favorites. They weren’t little bushes anymore. They were great bushes that were taller than her. What’s more, they were covered with buds, which was wrong for this time of year.

“Huh, go figure,” Sookie shrugged, then looked at her watch. For some reason, she felt anxious to leave.

They packed up the books. Tara headed home to settle her own family, and Sookie rode with Michele, leaving Owen to follow. They stopped at the Piggly Wiggly to pick up chicken nuggets to feed the children, and dropped by Michele’s momma’s house to pick up Michael Eric. Sookie sat in the back next to the baby seat. The infant noticed her right away. He watched her carefully, and Sookie found she couldn’t resist reaching her finger toward him. He wrapped his hand around her finger and then yawned before settling to watch her again. “You landed on a nickname for this one yet?” Sookie asked.

“We were thinking Mickey,” Michele said over her shoulder.

“I don’t think that’s such a great name,” she said in a rush. Tara had found herself handed over to a vampire named Mickey once in the past. It had taken Eric’s intervention as Sheriff to free her.

“Well,” Michele shrugged, “Bit got his name because it’s what JC called him.”

“Maybe that’s how it will happen with you, too,” Sookie spoke to the solemn face who stared at her. “Your brother will figure it out, cause Michael Eric is a pretty big mouthful for a little guy like you!”

“Better to come up with something that yells well,” Michele agreed, “Because that’s what I’ll be doing for the first twenty years of his life!”

As they pulled into the driveway, the older boys came running out the front door to greet them. “Is Uncle Eric here?” Bit asked hopefully. When he realized his Uncle wasn’t hiding in his Mother’s car the boy looked so down-hearted, Sookie felt the need to apologize.

“I’m sorry, Bit. I bet if Uncle Eric realized how much you were looking forward to seeing him, he would have come, but tonight he has to work. I won’t get to see him either!” and as she said it, Sookie felt the ache in her chest return.

Sookie offered to carry the baby, and Owen carried groceries as they made their way into the house. Jason was already home and showered. He was pulling hamburgers out of the freezer. The weather was so nice they decided to eat outside in the screen house. Michele pulled salad makings from the refrigerator and put Sookie to work.

Holly and Hoyt arrived, bringing their infant daughter, dessert, and extra beers, and then Tara, JB, and their kids walked in right behind them. The level of noise escalated, but it was happy noise. Holly pitched in and Hoyt and JB moved to stand near Jason, manning the grill. Babies were settled and the older children sent outside. Sookie nursed a beer and listened to the latest story about Holly’s mother-in-law, Maxine Fortenberry. Sookie knew that Holly was a witch, but she could tell it was something Holly didn’t speak about much anymore. As the shadows grew, Sookie found her eyes drawn to the area along the wooded edge of the yard. She knew she wouldn’t see Eric tonight, but she found herself yearning for the sight of her tall, blond vampire, standing in the tree line as he used to, many years ago.

Michele fed the kids inside and the babies were put down to sleep in Michael Eric’s crib. Grabbing salads and rolls, the adults walked to the screen house and lit the candles. Owen came in from his search of the area and joined them.

The table was crowded, but for Sookie, it felt like coming home. She liked the informal dining room at the palace. She liked the people there, but it wasn’t like this. It wasn’t hamburgers and teasing. It wasn’t stories from their youth told to the sound of spring peepers. Sookie knew what she was feeling was nostalgia, that there was plenty about this place that hadn’t been good, but tonight she couldn’t seem to remember any of the bad things. As she looked from one smiling face to the next, all she could remember were the good times.

It was like her Gran used to tell her, ‘Hold on to your happiness with both hands, and let sadness fall through your fingers.’ Sookie wondered if maybe she did want to spend more time here, if her life with Eric could include this too.

When the dishes were all inside and the dishwasher was running, they retreated to the front porch. Michele made coffee, and Hoyt grabbed his guitar from the car. The older children were upstairs playing a video game. “Bit will fall asleep, but the others will keep going until we pry the controllers out of their hands,” Michele told her.

As Sookie listened to the tune Hoyt picked, Jason looked over at her, “I guess Vampire Bill is gone, huh?”

Sookie knew her brother was really asking a question, but she played dumb and said, “Really? For good?”

“Could be,” Jason answered, but the look he gave her told her he wasn’t fooled. “I mentioned to Hoyt and Holly you’d be interested in them taking over Merlotte’s.” Holly’s eyes snapped up and Sookie could feel how hopeful they were.

“Would you be interested?” Sookie asked politely.

Hoyt stopped playing and laid down his guitar as Holly launched into her plans for the place. Tara made some suggestions, and JB recommended the accountant he and Tara used for their businesses. Before Sookie knew it, she was yawning so hard she thought her jaw would split.

“Time to head home,” Tara confirmed, and together, Tara and JB gathered their children. Sookie climbed into the passenger seat to ride with Owen and she woke to Owen’s shaking. Tara helped her bundle up the stairs. She was sharing a bed with Tara and JB was rooming in with their oldest son. It was a tight fit, but it reminded Sookie of all the best of being family.

The next morning was bright, and Sookie woke when Tara’s alarm sounded. “Church, right?” Tara asked.

It had been awhile, but Sookie knew the Reverend Collins was informed she was in town. “Wouldn’t miss it,” she groaned. Tara laughed as she made her way down the stairs, and Sookie rolled out of bed, too aware of the minor aches that came with sleeping on a strange mattress.

The church was as she remembered it. Sookie sat in her Gran’s old spot, the place where the light from the stained glass window turned the pew into a kaleidoscope of jagged colors. Sookie closed her eyes, feeling the light shift and play, moving over her face. As the choir sang, there was a moment she felt as if she would open her eyes and find her Gran beside her, her gentle face peaceful as she listened to the music. “I miss you,” Sookie said softly, “I wish you were here with me now.”

The sermon was a good one, it was from Matthew. As the Reverend read each of the beatitudes, Sookie felt their sentiments all the way to her backbone. Afterwards, she walked out and shook the Reverend Collins’ hand at the door.

“I am so happy to see you here,” he smiled. “It warms my heart to see you in your seat. It made me feel that all was right in the world.”

“Made me happy, too,” she agreed. The Reverend reminded her that she needed to pick up the wedding license, and then he waggled his eyebrows, reminding her that he would be seeing her Friday and to let Eric know he was looking forward to seeing him too.

“Good sermon?” Owen asked as he held the door.

“Blessed are the peacemakers,” Sookie smiled.

“Sure,” Owen smirked, “but if they get between the King and the Regent, they’ll be little, greasy spots.”

“Why?” Sookie asked. “What have you heard?”

“Nothing definite,” the Were told her, “but I don’t think it’s over.”

That night, Sookie could feel Eric’s fury. Even if she hadn’t, she would have read it in the tense, terse way he was firing off his text messages. While Sookie had been here since Friday, Eric hadn’t been able to get away until late last night. He stayed at Pam’s house, under the impression that the truce that had been declared the night of the Second Line held. He was mistaken.

Sookie didn’t have to imagine what he was describing. Pam’s phone sent her a picture. While the vampires were resting, someone (probably someone named Brock or Twy or people they hired) had transformed the outside of Eric’s Corvette into a clown car.

It was built up to look boxier and it was wrapped in bright, primary colors. There was a large logo on the door that said ‘Clown King’ and a clown head mounted on the roof. There were plastic flowers hanging off the front bumper and a ‘Honk if you Love Me’ sign mounted on the back. Sookie was sure no permanent damage was done, but she knew the minute he found it. It was like being on the receiving end of a hot air blast from an oven.

Another sign of how badly he was taking this was that he didn’t call. She figured he was too angry. Instead she was receiving text message after text message. The first few were barely coherent.

When he did call, his voice was strained and he stopped using contractions, “I will not be seeing you tonight. I am sorry, my wife.”

“You okay, honey?” she asked. Owen shot her an inquiring look, so she excused herself to walk outside. She could see Eric in her mind’s eye, grinding his teeth.

“She… my car…”

“I guess she hasn’t forgiven you,” Sookie pointed out unnecessarily.

“She will be very sorry,” Eric growled.

“Eric,” Sookie decided she had better get ahead of this, “You know there’s no permanent damage. She wouldn’t do that. You two prank each other, it’s what you do. Now, I will admit that this one was a little…” and Sookie couldn’t help herself. She snort-laughed. She knew it was the wrong thing to do. Eric wasn’t anywhere near the place where he could see the humor in this.

“I’m moving to Indira’s house,” he growled and he hung up on her. Sookie found herself staring at the phone screen, confirming her call had been disconnected. She switched to text mode and quickly typed, ‘I’m sorry, Eric. Really. Call me when you get settled,’ and headed back inside.

Owen waited just inside the door. He looked worried, so Sookie pulled up the photo from Pam’s text and she handed it to him. “What is it?” Owen asked.

“Eric’s car!” Sookie meant to sound sad, but she couldn’t. She started to laugh. Owen was looking at the screen and his lips twitched. It made Sookie laugh harder. Tara came out from the kitchen and Owen handed her the phone.

“Oh, my God!” Tara snorted, “Pam told me she was going to do this. Are there any more pictures?”

Sookie was leaning against the wall and waving her hand. She tried to pull herself together  but every time she thought she was getting to the other side of it, she would think of some feature, the head or the colors or the captions, and she would start to laugh again. Her side was hurting and she finally slid down to sit on the floor. Owen was trying to be straight-faced and failing at it. JB, Tara’s husband, walked into the room and Tara handed him the phone and explained what he was seeing.

“Jesus, Sookie! Someone going to get hurt over this?” JB couldn’t see any humor in it, “If this was my car, I’d be grabbing my bat and looking to hand out some serious whoop ass.”

The image of Eric trying to go after Pam with a baseball bat, all righteous, red-neck indignation, just struck Sookie funny all over again and she turned over, holding her sides, crying, “Please! Stop! Please!” Tara flopped down in a chair and was laughing just as helplessly.

“You women are just evil!” JB declared and headed toward the door.

“You have a good night!” Tara called after him, “Shake it like you got it!” Tara’s husband, JB DuRone, was now the owner of Hooligans, a strip club near Shreveport, the same club that had been owned by Sookie’s fairy cousin, Claude Crane. After the Fae returned to their realm, the club was sold to a company that planned to tear it down and build a strip mall. The company ran into financing problems and the deal fell apart.

JB had danced there when Claude owned the place, and he found he missed the attention. He and Tara talked about it, and he purchased the business and the building from the bank. It happened just before the boom in natural gas exploration hit, and now Hooligans was crowded most nights with the men who had moved here, following the promise of easy money. Most nights it was women who danced, but two nights a week, it was Ladies Nights. The drink menus changed, the emcee was a woman, and the dancers were all male. JB didn’t dance in the revue as often as he once had. He was still in great shape and his face was even more ruggedly handsome, but time had left its mark.

Sookie hadn’t heard it confirmed, but she was pretty sure a trip to Hooligan’s was planned for later this week.

Owen cast a long look at the both of them and said solemnly, “A man’s car is sacred. The Regent may have gone too far,” but then his traitorous lips starting twitching up again, and he headed outside saying, “I’m going to take a patrol.”

The plan was for a quiet night to relax before the festivities started. Eric had been noncommittal, and now Sookie knew she wouldn’t see him at all.

It had been a long time since they spent more than one night apart, and this would make it three. Sookie knew Eric was spending time with Indira and Rubio, listening to local concerns and adding his weight to their decisions. It was the part of ruling that she didn’t see herself doing. She might technically be Queen, but she knew no vampire would accept her adjudicating disputes or dispensing justice. She had done nothing in their eyes to earn that kind of respect.

Doesn’t matter,’ she told herself, but there remained that part of her that asked, ‘if you can’t rule, then what are you going to do to fill your days?

I’ll think about it next week,’ she promised herself. For now, there were still so many things she needed to do before the wedding.

Tomorrow Sookie would head into Shreveport with Owen. She wanted to pick up some gifts for her attendants, and she wanted to see Alfred Cumberland, the supernatural photographer. She knew he preferred to work inside or at his studio, but he had done work for both Eric and her cousin Claude in past, and Sookie hoped he would agree to coming to Bon Temps to take the official wedding photographs. The other thing she needed to do was pick up the marriage license at the Shreveport County Courthouse.

There was a lot of paperwork involved. Mr. Cataliades had to be contacted and a phone call for a favor made. Sookie had to deliver a copy of her divorce decree. Eric had to deliver a copy of Freyda’s death certificate. Copies of Eric’s passport and identification cards were sent and a special exception had to be granted since he couldn’t appear during daytime hours. The exception meant the license couldn’t be issued locally. Fortunately, the level that could grant the exception was in Shreveport. There were several more phone calls before Sookie was told the license would be waiting for her, but she would need to pick it up personally. What’s more, there was a 72-hour waiting period, so although she could pick up the license, the Reverend Collins couldn’t officiate until Thursday at the earliest. Since the wedding was planned for Friday, Sookie breathed easier, but she knew she wouldn’t relax until the license was in her hand.

 

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Sookie found herself sitting on the same bench in the same hallway on the same floor she had been on, waiting for the court representative to decide she could have her divorce from Sam Merlotte. ‘Déjà vu,’ she thought. But this wasn’t really the same. Then she was waiting to be free of a big mistake. Now, she was waiting to tie herself to someone for the rest of her life… It was Owen who stood nearby this time, and not Mr. Cataliades.

Wonder how he’s doing?’ Sookie wondered as she looked from one end of the corridor to the other. Sookie hadn’t seen the demon attorney since her pledging in Indianapolis. She knew he had traveled to Nebraska and she would see him when she and Eric went there. Still, she missed his funny wisdom and easy friendship.

The telepath was asked to wait in the hallway while the judge reviewed her application. She could tell this judge was reluctant to do any favors where vampires were involved. Sookie also ‘heard’ the judge was having a flirtation with one of the court reporters. Sookie didn’t feel good about using blackmail, but she would play that card if she was forced. As two minutes turned to five, she considered pushing her advantage. She decided to give it another five minutes, and was just sitting back when she saw Mustapha Khan turn the corner and walk toward her.

He spotted her at the same time, and Sookie saw his surprise. “You in trouble already?” he asked. He was wearing sunglasses inside which was so him. He stopped directly in front of her.

Owen stepped forward to stand a little closer to her, “Packmaster,” he said respectfully.

“You could always work for your own kind,” Mustapha said conversationally.

“This work suits me fine,” Owen replied

It was in the way Mustapha Khan looked at her, the curl of his lip. Sookie hadn’t understood how little he liked her. ‘What is it with Eric’s day men?’ she asked herself. “I’m here to pick up our marriage license,” Sookie explained.

“Oh, yeah, the big wedding.” The sarcasm dripped, the Packmaster holding nothing back.

“You don’t hold with marriage, or is it just my marriage you don’t like?” Sookie challenged him.

“Guess some folks don’t appreciate what they have,” and the Were removed his sunglasses. “Ain’t never good enough for some folks, the rules we live by.”

“The Queen doesn’t need to justify herself to you,” Owen snarled.

“I’m fine,” Sookie placed her hand on Owen’s arm and stood up to face Mustapha. ‘Sure,’ she chided herself, ‘you had to wear flats!’ Her hands landed on her hips, she tilted her chin up to face him down. She could see the curl of his lip. She amused him, and it made her furious.

“Yes, I want my silly human wedding!” she hissed at him. “I’m not going to say that some part of this isn’t me wanting to have my dream. Standing in front of the Reverend Collins and getting married with my friends and family around me is something I’ve spun since I was a little girl. It was all my Gran ever wanted for me. But the fact is, this is my tradition. It is what I believe, that when you love someone with your whole heart you stand before God and you promise it.”

“Seems to me you already made promises,” Mustapha’s tone was a little more respectful, but not much.

“I did, and I do consider myself married in the Supe world. That’s Eric’s tradition and I respect it!” Sookie could see that the Packmaster didn’t believe her. “Look, maybe you don’t understand, but I’ll always have my foot in two worlds, the supe world and the human world. Eric won’t. He’ll visit the human world from time to time because of me, but he doesn’t have any real ties here. I do, and I can’t forget who I am.”

“Well, I remember who you are,” Mustapha replied. “I remember a gal who fought for everyone and everything except the one man who loved her. You had your chance and you threw it away.”

The Packmaster’s words cut Sookie to the quick, “You’re right,” she sniffed. Her eyes stung and her chest hurt.

Owen crowded between them, “The King will not be happy that you’ve hurt her!” he hissed.

“Owen, step back!” Sookie ordered. “The Packmaster and I have something we need to straighten out and it’s past time.” She laid her hand on Owen and with a nod, he stepped back. Sookie turned to Mustapha. She knew that her eyes were wet, but she didn’t hide it.

“You’re right,” Sookie said again. “I was stupid. I didn’t realize what I had and I almost lost him and myself forever.”

“And now you’ve changed,” and the Packmaster made sure she knew he wasn’t buying it.

Sookie looked at the man who had been KeShawn Johnson, “Did prison change you?” she asked quietly.

The Packmaster’s eyes narrowed, “I have to say that it did,” he replied slowly.

Sookie nodded, “I think that any traumatic event changes you, at least, that’s what Lydia said.” When Mustapha looked puzzled, Sookie said, “She was a healer. She helped me after…” Sookie glanced at Owen. She wasn’t sure how much of her past was known to her guards, but then again, knowing Supe gossip, she figured her guard probably knew most of it. “You know I married Sam Merlotte,” and Mustapha nodded.

“I figured it was headed that way after you threw away your magic on him,” he confirmed. “He was trash and you condemned Eric for him.”

“Yes, I did.” Sookie nodded, “And Sam taught me that lesson at the end of his fist for years.” Sookie wasn’t angry, and she wasn’t defeated by it anymore. It was a fact about her, a fact that had changed her forever. “I wonder if Sam hated me because he hated himself,” Sookie said more to herself.

“Sam loved that psycho bitch, Jannalyn,” Mustapha told her.

Sookie shook her head, “Yeah, I suppose he did. Point is, you don’t need walls to make a prison, and I learned my lesson the hard way. I shouldn’t have lived through it, and I almost didn’t.” A tear escaped and fell down her cheek, “By some miracle I did survive, and I got a second chance with Eric. I wake up grateful every day. I figure it had to be God because I can’t explain how else I ended up here. It’s a miracle, and one I won’t be forgetting, not ever.”

The Packmaster nodded, “I won’t say I didn’t heard about it. After Eric left, I laid low. Alcide figured I’d challenge him someday, but I didn’t want to run anything,” and Mustapha broke eye contact. “I just wanted a place for Warren and me where I wouldn’t have to watch my back every day. Pack could give us that, but we kept to ourselves. I sure as hell wasn’t volunteering for guard duty or anything else that would put me in Bon Temps.”

Sookie nodded, “I won’t betray him,” she spoke to the fear she heard. “I know you probably don’t believe that right now, but all I ask is you give me a chance. You’ll see.” Sookie didn’t bother adding that it was a guarantee. She couldn’t betray Eric without condemning herself. ‘Mutual destruction,’ the words came unbidden as she continued to stare at the tall Were.

Owen held out a handkerchief for her and she took it with a small laugh. “Someday I’m going to remember to carry my own,” she thanked him. She turned back to Mustapha, “Jason told me he invited you to the wedding.”

“Invited me to your whole week of crazy-ass shit,” the Were replied. He chuckled at Sookie’s look. “I think this is a lot of wasted time. You want to get standing in the human world? That makes sense to me. I understand wanting to get legit here,” and he jerked his chin so she knew he was talking about the world of Courts and human laws. “If something were to happen to me, and I ended up in one of their hospitals, I’d want Warren to make my decisions. If shit went down and we ended up in Court, I wouldn’t want to be asked to testify against him. But you can get that in front of a justice of the peace right down the hall.”

Sookie shrugged, “I guess you don’t have family besides Warren. I do, not a lot, but some. I have friends too. While there are a lot of folks in Bon Temps who weren’t nice to me, there were others who were, or who were nice to my Gran. I want to celebrate and give them no doubt that I am his for life. Is that so wrong?”

“No, I guess it ain’t.” Sookie could tell she had regained some small part of his regard. Then he said, “I’ll be seeing you,” and his Blade persona returned as he slipped on his dark glasses.

“Please say hello to Warren for me,” Sookie called after him. She turned to Owen whose eyes never left the Packmaster’s retreating back, “I’m going back down the hall to check on things. I can’t imagine what’s taking so long.” Sookie held her smile in place and thought, ‘I can’t wait to get back home,’ and when she thought of that place, it was Eric Northman.

 

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In the end, it took another call to Mr. Cataliades to get the license finalized. Sookie didn’t want to know what the demon said, but the judge looked paler than the first time she’d seen him. When he handed over the paper, his hand shook and he didn’t make eye contact. ‘Don’t need to be your friend, anyway,’ Sookie thought as she and Owen headed out to the parking lot.

 

They barely had time to get to Alfred Cumberland’s studio before closing. He remembered her right away. “Sorry to hear about your cousin,” he said sympathetically. Al had taken photographs of Sookie and Claude Crane that found their way onto the covers of a couple of romance novels.

Al looked excited when he asked, “Are you here to do a second calendar?” The Vampire Hunks calendar from years ago had been a big hit. Eric posed for Mr. January, and truth be told, Sookie kept the calendar open to January the whole year.

“I don’t think so,” and Sookie blushed. “I came over to ask if you would take our official wedding pictures. I know it’s short notice, but I was kind of hoping.”

“Will I get exclusive distribution rights?” Al gave her a beady stare and was so enthusiastic that Owen leaned forward.

“I guess,” Sookie stuttered. She was so surprised by his reaction she dipped into Al’s head. Al had always been a loud broadcaster and Sookie heard him hope to use their photographs to further his fame, but her was also honorable. He’d only sell the shots she and Eric sanctioned. “Let’s do it,” she nodded, and she wrote down the address and time.

It was full dark before they pulled up to the tailor shop. JC and Michele Stackhouse were already inside. The teenager was standing on the round stool while Anton, Eric’s favorite tailor, moved around him sticking pins in the pants legs. Michele glanced up, her eyes soft with the pride of watching her oldest in his first real suit.

Sookie started to speak but the words never escaped her lips. Instead, she turned to stare at the door. She could feel him. He was close and then closer. The bell on the door rang, and the tailor barely said, “Welcome,” before Sookie was in Eric’s arms and all was well with the world again. Just standing there, her head pressed to his chest, made her happy. “I’ve missed you,” she murmured before looking up into his face. She saw the way his skin was pinched around the eyes, paler than usual.

“Have you had anything to eat tonight?” she asked.

“Bottled,” he replied and shrugged as if to say, ‘No big thing.’

“I’m sure you’ve fed since New Orleans,” Sookie persisted. She didn’t usually talk about Eric’s eating habits in front of humans, but this was family and he really did look hungry.

“Indira doesn’t use the Registry,” Eric said quietly. “It’s Fangtasia, and some things don’t change.”

Sookie glanced at the tailor. “We’ll be back. Come on then,” and Sookie took Eric’s hand in hers. Once outside, Eric escorted her to his car. It had been cleaned up and there was not one plastic flower or colored streamer in sight. “Taking me to the circus?” Sookie couldn’t resist. Eric growled. “Oh, promises, promises!” she teased. Eric demonstrated the horsepower the engine could deliver as he sped down the street, cornering sharply enough to make his wife squeal and her heart race. Within minutes they were in a park overshadowed by trees and he was at her side.

“Come, Sookie,” he held out his hand and she placed hers in his, never doubting. He held her with his eyes as he closed the door behind her, and then led her to the front of the car. He walked forward, backing her up until her knees hit the hood.

“Just what did you have in mind, Mr. Northman?”

“Pink lycra,” he answered, and dipped his head to her neck.

 

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Owen finished texting James. There was a pool on how long before separate sleeping arrangements were violated. Charles guessed longest at 36 hours, so technically he was already the winner, but there was still curiosity over the matter. When Owen turned to follow the couple, Eric growled, “Stay!” as he walked by. Owen knew that meant semi-public sex. It was risky behavior, and he would have to report it to Thalia. She could take it up with the Viking, and Owen was sure she would. He was pocketing his phone when Pam arrived with her entourage. Twy’s face was pinched and Brock looked as if he’d sucked lemons. If Pam had a heartbeat, Owen was certain her blood pressure would have her face beet red.

Michele Stackhouse looked up, “Why Pamela, how lovely to see you! Everything all right, honey?”

“No,” Pam said tightly, “Everything is not alright! Where is my Maker?”

Young JC opened his mouth, but it was the tailor who said, “Master Eric will be back shortly. He and his Queen had an errand.”

“An errand with Sookie?” Pam repeated.

Brock barked a single laugh, “Oh, nooky with Sookie time? You know the guards bet on how often they do it?” and he arched his eyebrows at Owen.

JC’s face split into a large grin, “You mean they’re having…”

“I think that’s enough from you!” his mother said quickly. She turned to Pam, “So what has you looking like a cat with a hairball?”

“He destroyed my house!” the blond vampire sniffed. She threw herself into one of the armchairs and pulled her phone from her purse.

“Destroyed it? You mean he burned it to the ground?” Michele asked.

While Pam texted, Brock said, “Of course not! It was really funny in a way,” and refused to acknowledge Pam’s acid glance. “I don’t know when he did it. Twy and I were running errands in Shreveport and we got back too late.”

“My floors are going to buckle. I just know it,” Pam was texting, then waiting, then texting again.

“The whole house was wrapped in saran wrap,” Brock continued. “Not the cooking box kind! I mean the big industrial kind! It was all around the house! Over the windows, all the doors. Someone must have taken rolls and walked around and around!”

Pam looked up, “I thought it was dark when I couldn’t see out of any of the windows. I opened the front door and I was sealed in.”

“That must have been frightening!” Michele replied, and JC stepped down from the little platform to stand next to his mother, his face rapt.

“Oh, I figured it was Eric doing payback for the car,” Pam shrugged. “Back door was the same. That’s when I knew he’d done the house. So, I got my sword…”

JC made a sound. “You have a sword? That’s so cool!” and he continued to watch Pam, his mouth slightly open.

Pam rolled her eyes, “Anyway, I cut through and then…”

“There was some kind of tank set up. As soon as the sword when in, oily water poured out,” Brock interrupted.

“It was like standing in a filthy flood,” Pam confirmed. Owen snorted and Pam snapped her eyes his way, “You better hope I don’t find your fingerprints anywhere near this, Dog!”

“I was with the Queen all day, Mistress,” he bowed.

JC laughed out loud and Michele picked up her coat, grabbed her son’s arm, and said “I think we’re all done here. Thank you!” she said to the tailor, and “See you soon!” she called to the others as she pushed and pulled her protesting son from the shop.

“How long?” Pam shot at Owen.

“They left about fifteen minutes ago, Mistress,” Owen replied. Settling in, Pam and her entourage engaged the tailor in a conversation about costumes the man made for Eric over the years. As the clock neared the top of the hour, the sound of a car engine had them all turning toward the door.

Sookie was laughing but that stopped when she saw Pam, Twy, and Brock. “Well, good evening!”

“How did you find your shower?” Eric’s voice rumbled.

“I always appreciate it when you arrange little skin treatments,” Pam answered sweetly.

“I find a good wash does wonders,” and then Eric greeted his tailor, “Anton, I hope I didn’t keep you waiting.” The vampire stepped up on the round platform and dropped his pants. When Eric stripped off his sweater, Brock took a step forward, and then stepped right back when Sookie growled at him.

“The new suits have already been altered to your measurements, Mr. Northman. If you would be so kind as to let me know the heel size of the shoe you’ll be wearing,” and the man handed Eric a pair of pants while grabbing his pins.

Eric slid the pants on, “A standard one-inch heel,” he replied and then he moved to snap the pants, but the waistband didn’t meet. Eric frowned, looking down. His tailor moved around him and pulled at the back and then Eric tried again, but the pants were too small. “Anton, are you sure this is my suit?”

The tailor retrieved the bag and confirmed it was tagged to Eric. He pulled out the second pair of pants and handed them to the Viking. The second pair was too small as well. Eric tried on the jacket to find it was a little tight around the shoulders. The tailor was apologizing when Pam laughed out loud, “That’s what they say,” she drawled, “As soon as you get married, you put on that extra ten pounds.”

“Pamela,” Eric growled.

Sookie dipped into Anton’s head, “Glamour,” she confirmed.

“Pamela,” Eric rounded on her, “Where are my new suits?”

“You’re trying them on,” she smiled. “I can’t help the effects that marriage has on men.” Eric was eyeing Pam and Sookie could see the wheels turning. It occurred to Sookie that this suit thing had taken some time. This had to have been planned before the latest round of tit for tat.

“Remove the glamour,” Eric growled softly. When Pam restored him, Anton blinked, and then blinked again as he realized the suits were cut to the wrong measurements.

“I am so sorry, Mr. Northman,” he sputtered, “I can’t think what happened.”

“It is nothing, Anton,” Eric assured him, “It was unavoidable,” shooting a sharp look in Pam’s direction. “If you would go to my storage locker and retrieve two alternates. You have my keys.” Eric turned toward Sookie, “I think we’re done here. I told Indira I’d stop by Fangtasia this evening. Would you care to accompany me?”

Sookie didn’t need to answer. She just put her hand in his and together they headed for the door, Owen trailing them. When they got to the club, Eric didn’t bother parking around back. He pulled right up front into a reserved spot. The line tonight was long, and all eyes turned their way. There was a ragged cheer, and a vampire Sookie didn’t recognize bowed with a flourish, stepping aside to let them sail through the door.

Inside a DJ was spinning records and the dance floor was crowded. As they headed for the booth, Sookie caught sight of Mustapha. ‘Great,’ she thought, ‘twice in one day.’

Eric squeezed her hand and she glanced up at him, “You saw the Packmaster today?” he asked.

“At the Courthouse. He said he was looking forward to being part of the wedding.” Sookie figured she didn’t need to get into the other part of what they’d said. “I’ve been running into all kinds of folks,” she added,” Niall, for example.”

They sat and Eric drew her against him, “What did your Grandfather say, my Lover?”

“He apologized,” she shrugged, “and he said he’d back off.” Sookie could feel some combination of emotions from Eric. There was skepticism, but also annoyance. “What? You don’t want me talking to him? He’s my relative!”

“It’s not that,” Eric growled.

“Then what?” and Sookie’s eyes narrowed, “You talked to him, too, didn’t you?”

“I called him,” Eric nodded. “I told him to remove the bed. I told you I would.”

“And the bed is gone,” Sookie nodded. “Whatever you said, Grandfather said he’s sorry and he’ll stop shoving so hard.”

“And does that mean you’ve changed your mind?” Eric asked, but Sookie didn’t have a chance to answer him.

“My favorite fairy!” Doctor Ludwig slapped her hands on the top of the table. The small woman was wearing a dress. She had on chunky heels and her eye makeup was a bright shade of turquoise blue. Jane vamped up right behind her, all smiles, and bowed deeply. Sookie watched as Amy Ludwig swayed a little, and then cocked her head to smile owlishly up at Eric, “And it’s Eric, the famous fairy killer!”

“Why, Dr. Ludwig, I believe you’re drunk,” Eric chuckled.

“I am so happy you invited me to your wedding!” the doctor slurred. She looked directly at Sookie, “I’m coming to your shower tomorrow. I hear it’s going to be a good one!”

Pam, Twy, and Brock walked in. Pam kissed Jane’s cheek, then placed her hand on Dr. Ludwig’s shoulder. “Come on, Amy,” she smiled, “Let’s dance!”

“She’s smashed,” Sookie watched the diminutive doctor stagger off.

“Yes,” Eric deadpanned, “So you must take special care that you don’t get staked or run into a maenad tonight,”

Sookie rolled her eyes, “You act like that’s an everyday thing!”

“You are a great deal of trouble, wife!” Eric laughed.

Sookie stroked Eric’s arm as she watched the dance floor, “What is it with you and Pam? I felt you loud and clear tonight when you found your car. She looked madder than a bonnet full of bees about her house.” Eric grinned before looking back at the crowd. “That’s what I mean. She does something, you do something back. You even get annoyed, but instead of yelling or stopping, you just get busy thinking about what to do next. It’s like you’re…” and Sookie’s eyes went wide, “You’re playing! Eric! This is play for you, isn’t it?”

“We are very old, Sookie,” the vampire said reasonably.

“I haven’t seen you laugh like this, well, maybe ever. Every time you start plotting what you’re going to do next, you are just one big ol’ ball of glee.” Sookie shook her head.

Eric shrugged before saying, “She should not have tried to involve you, Lover.”

‘So, what if I wanted to join in?” Sookie glanced toward Pam dancing on the dance floor.

“I’m sure Pam hoped you would. These games are always more fun with more, but I think you might have become very angry. It would be too bad if you shot someone,” and when he said it, Eric didn’t look worried, he looked almost hopeful.

“I am not going to shoot Pam,” and Sookie swatted his arm. “I mean it, Eric Northman! I don’t want this ruining the wedding. Declare a truce or something, because I’m not going to spend the next few days worrying about what is coming next! She’s already started on your suits. What’s next? The cake?”

“It’s only Monday,” Eric pouted. “There are many days until the wedding.”

“Eric!” and Sookie’s lip jutted.

“Tonight doesn’t count, though,” the Viking grinned, looking away from her.

“You did something else?” and Sookie bit her lip. “What?”

“I think Pam will enjoy searching for her jewelry,” Eric laughed. When Sookie looked puzzled, he said, “Her jewelry is encased in Jell-O. Pam hates slimy things,” and he chuckled again. Sookie was about to scold him when Twy approached the table and slid into the bench.

“I know we haven’t talked about it, but I thought we should make it official. I’m not working as your publicist any more. With the travel I’ll be doing with Pam and the work needed for the event planning launch, I’ll be too busy to be pulling double-duty, and frankly, you need someone to pay attention to you full time. I have a short list I’m recommending as my replacement,” and the New Yorker smiled archly, “Not that I could ever be replaced!”

“I believe our needs have changed,” Eric replied quickly. “I think it’s time our lives became quieter,” the Viking took Sookie’s hand. “We want to enjoy our lives together, and that is best done without the noise of people following us.”

Twy blinked and stared at them, then waved her hand at the faces that continued to stare their way, “You think all of this will just shut down and go away if you don’t feed it?” Twy looked at the couple as if they were crazy. “You think people will stop wanting their story, your story? If that’s your goal, then great, but it will take at least a year to unravel all of this. I don’t recommend that you just ignore it. You won’t like the consequences.”

“Like what?” Sookie. “If we just tell people we aren’t interested, folks will move on.”

“You really don’t get it, do you?” and Twy rolled her eyes. “The public is like a spoiled child. You just spent time and money telling them you are their favorite brand of chocolate and now you’re just going to cut them off? If they can’t get the story you craft for them, they’ll make shit up! You really need to think this through.”

“I think you’re wrong,” Eric said with finality.

“Tonight may not be a good time,” she patted Twy’s hand. “We have a few more days. We’ll talk about it then.” Twy shook her head and walked over to Pam. The two of them talked for a bit, Twy the more animated of the two. Pam shrugged before Jane came back over and Brock jumped, Dr. Ludwig laughing behind him. “Damn,” Sookie told Eric, “that just looks like trouble,” and she jerked her head toward the small doctor who was cackling.

“Brownies shouldn’t drink,” her Viking said sagely.

Sookie looked back at Twy. The woman was not happy, and Sookie could ‘hear’ she was worried about them not replacing her. ‘What could go wrong,’ Sookie thought and then she remembered Angel.

“What is it?” Eric asked her.

“I met Devrah’s daughter,” and Sookie remembered that it wasn’t only human ears that could hear. “Maybe we should talk about this later.”

Before she knew what was happening, she found herself in Eric’s old office, the one Indira held for Pam. “What is it?” Eric asked again.

“Jesus Christ, Shepherd of Judea!” Sookie sputtered. “Give my stomach a minute to catch up!” and she swatted the vampire’s arm. Eric wrapped his arms around her and sat down on the old couch, pulling her into his lap. He turned her until her head laid on his shoulder and he ran his fingers up her thighs, making her shiver. “Missed me, huh?”

“Yes,” he sighed. “What is it?” he asked for a third time.

Sookie sighed too, “I met Devrah’s daughter, Angel. Eric? She remembers the donors,” and Sookie found herself blushing. “I thought right away about asking to have her glamoured.”

“I am proud of you, Älskade!” Eric was both surprised and pleased. “You are thinking like a Queen!”

“I’m thinking in a way that makes me feel guilty,” Sookie huffed. “But it got me worried. How many other people are there who could tell the press about it? Supes get it. They aren’t going to tell stuff that will get us in trouble.” Sookie took a deep breath, “I’m wondering if we should have humans working in the Palace at all,” and she immediately felt terrible that she’d said it.

Eric stilled beneath her, “It’s not uncommon to have humans as part of the staff.”

“And how is information controlled?” Sookie asked, “Glamour, right? So, now glamour is frowned on, so what? And if a human decided to run or caused trouble, then what?”

“You know the penalty,” Eric said.

“And you know that those days are over too, so where does that leave us?” and Sookie shook her head. “I trust Devrah, and I’m willing to give Angel a try, but I’m thinking we’d be better off hiring more vampires and Weres in the Palace.”

“The Palace is your household,” Eric said reasonably. “This decision is yours,” and then Eric’s hand resumed its stroking as he said, “Perhaps you wish to issue more orders?”

The way he said it had Sookie laughing. “I’m thinking I should be ordering you to get me home before Tara locks the doors!” and she scrambled away from his protesting arms. “Come on, if you’re really nice I’ll let you neck with me in the driveway!” and together they headed out into the night.

 

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25 thoughts on “The Wedding: Chapter 8 – Rolling in the Rushes

  1. They still shouldn’t trust Naill. Glad Sookie stood up to Mustapha. I understand many think another wedding is not necessary but when you have different heritages or beliefs they should all be allowed to be honored. Hope the pranks can be at least turned down somewhat so they don’t over shadow the main event.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Niall is not trustworthy in the sense that what he says is his motivation most likely isn’t. He wants her to have a child. Children would be better, but you can bet there is something more in his mind than being a doting grandfather. It’s not his style.
      When Sookie isn’t busy doubting herself she is quite capable of meeting the world with strength. I wouldn’t say Mustapha trusts her and all is forgiven, but she has the benefit of his doubt.
      The pranks! I don’t think either Eric or Pam is particularly motivated to stop!

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  2. She said the right things to Mustapha. With time she can gain his respect, and after what he witnessed, she needs to prove herself. Using his time in prison was a good analogy.
    Niall, want to like him (he is her family after all), but he is also a tricky fairy. I guess time will tell with their relationship.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right. It will take time with Mustapha and he seems an ally worth gaining (unlike a certain prior wolf, who I never liked!)
      Niall? Niall is family but since is he also a Prince and very old I think we will see him believe that family obligations are not two way streets. They are one way streets with all leading to him!

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      1. Your point about Niall is dead on. His behavior is very much old world monarch thinking. Children (and in this case great grandchildren) are pawns to move around the board. They represent the potential to expand and/or solidify his control. And of course the idea that this might not be right would never occur to him since that is how it has always been. And it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love her, but that duty comes before all else. If she were pure fae and had been raised in his world it would be a moot point..I have this image of him wanting to just tell her, do what I say, I know what is best…..and that makes me laugh because he really doesn’t understand her if he thinks that is even a possibility.

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    2. You have him dead on, but I think he has her number, and he knows exactly what to say. When they get to Nebraska you will see all the old world duty come to the forefront. It’s business for Niall – the business of dynasty and alliance. He’ll sugar coat it and play on her feelings. He’s old enough and smart enough to know what to say to get what he wants. Eric will see through him, although neither can see so far into the future to figure out what the old Fairy is really planning. But when you live forever, what else do you have to live for?

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  3. Great chapter! Love the pranks –it’ll help blow off steam when the pressure cooker of the wedding ramps up —It’s as if Ericizmine is sitting on her shoulder, because those pranks made me think of her and her multi-verse…….
    Pat

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am a great admirer of Ericizmine’s stories and this is a nod to her. Hers were among the first I read and I laughed out loud. Such a loss! I do see Pam and Eric’s interest as you describe. It is something they know in a world in which they are strangers. It keeps their left brains occupied so that they don’t get too stressed out about the rest. Having to interact and behave among to many humans! All that touching! shudder.

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  4. The pranks are so funny! I’m glad Sookie stood up to the pack master. Her reasons were well articulated too, maybe he can pass it onto the rest of the supe community. I’m sad to say that I agree with Twy. They can’t just leave the public scene and expect nothing to happen. Fame is fickle.

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    1. Twy is right and Eric might want to listen. On the other hand, he didn’t listen to Charles when it came to Bill. He has a tendency to discount what most humans or Weres tell him. Foolish vampire.
      Fickle can turn to cruel. Eric should know that it doesn’t take much to turn an adoring crowd into an angry mob and our couple has secrets to keep.

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  5. This chapter made me laugh so hard:the pranks, Dr. Ludwig drunk, Sookie growling at Brock!
    Naill apologizing! Well that’s a thing I never would have expected to see but for how long will he stay put?
    Loved the talk between Sookie and Mustapha ,maybe with time Sookie will people see how she has truly changed.
    Eric will always come first for her.
    Twy is giving some good advice.
    They need to realize that people will always want to know about them.
    A private life isn’t what they are going to have from now on.
    Jackie69

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Niall has mastered the art of stepping back to step forward. He is a master manipulator, so don’t expect much beyond crocodile tears when it comes to him!
      The point you make about changing how people see you is a good one. You can do all kinds of work on yourself, then spend fifteen minutes with your family and revert to who and what you were at twelve! Perception/Reality can be compelling!
      Twy’s point about publicity is something Eric should have considered, but he has a tendency to discount information when it doesn’t come from vampires.

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  6. Every time I read about ‘the clown car’ I burst into loud laughter! Even thinking about it makes me do the same…that is the funniest prank I’ve ever read Pam pulling on Eric, and to his precious ‘Vette! LMAO! OMG, here I go again!

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  7. Excellent as always. As long as Eric and Pam keep their pranks between each other, I can see them as funny. Manipulating a fight between Eric and Sookie was not funny. The car was funny, so was Pam’s house. She deserved it. I wonder if Sookie can get them to call a truce until after the wedding.

    I agree with Sookie that the wedding will cement their relationship in the human world, which is Sookie’s world, too. Expecting her to ignore that part of her would be wrong. I think Mustapha was loyal to Eric as much as he could be with when Warren was kidnapped, and he didn’t like that Sookie seemed to turn her back on him. Eric’s choices were taken from him and Sookie was trying to protect her heart. The exchange between them seems to have cleared the air. Sometimes you have to travel through Hell to find Heaven. As for Twy, yeah, fame can turn on a person like a rabid dog. They do need someone like her even if they keep their life quieter.

    Niall has more to think about than the happiness of his great-grand daughter. As a Prince, he is a servant of his people as well as their ruler. I can understand him wanting to be succeeded by family. In the book, his soon Dillon was his heir. I don’t know if Dillon is still alive in this one. The story suggests that he is not or that he was no longer suitable. Obviously, Dermot is not suitable to replace his father, or Niall would not consider Sookie his heir. We all have duties in life whether we want them or not. Sookie hates being manipulated by anyone. Niall wants an heir. If she and Eric have children, why wouldn’t one of them or their children be suitable, especially if they were raised with full knowledge of their various heritages?

    Sorry, I’ve been rambling and letting my thoughts dribble out of my fingertips. I love this story and will enjoy it where ever you take it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!
      Dillon: I established that when Niall returned through the portal (Bellenos describes it in Far Reach) there was another war. The Water Fae were near exterminated and Dillon was killed. It led to a softening in attitude about hybrids. Many among the Fae are now thinking that hybrids may be the next step in their evolution as a race since hybrids are immune to lemon and iron. I have also followed the story that Niall considers Dermot in some way unfit to rule. Dermot is the de facto ruler at the moment, but Niall seems willing to risk him, for example sending him into a room full of vampires to secure a promise at Sookie and Eric’s pledging.
      In this respect, Niall is easy to figure out. Of course he wants an heir, and specifically, we wants a child with spark from Sookie. Since she’s with Eric, he has grudgingly accepted the vampire half of the bargain and even funded research to enable their creating a child using cloning techniques.
      It’s oh, so logical, and if Sookie was a bride in the 1800’s, no problem. But she’s not. She has some modern woman ideas about owning her own body and romance. Both pretty contemporary concepts, which can be puzzling to Niall, the ultimate live in the past guy. But, there are some things that remain the same, like how to set people up to do what you wish, and Niall is good at that. He is just figuring out her levers.

      Sookie understands the unspoken requirement that she be married in order to have status in the human world of Louisiana. It is interesting that in different parts of the world, the concept of legal marriage is disappearing, while in other places, like back country Louisiana, it is alive and well. If you are a white girl from a Christian, middle class family, there is still a stigma placed on you if you have children and are not married. It’s not like it once was, but older folks still have things to say about your character, and it’s the kind of stigma that passes to your kids. Eric has heard about it from Reverend Collins, but seems to only believe it with half his heart. But, he loves her, so if she wants to do it, he’s along for the ride. He does seem to be spending more attention on pranks than wedding planning, but in that, he’s not unlike many American males I know.
      She has gained the benefit of the doubt from Mustapha. Now that the door it open it will be up to her to earn his regard, or not.
      Hope you have a great weekend.

      Like

  8. Interesting run-in with Mustapha… Supes have got a long memory and I reckon those who saw Sookie’s behaviour during her first ‘marriage’ to Eric will have similar qualms about her this second time round… She handled it well in how she responded but I expect Mustapha will wait and see if her deeds match her words…

    Glad to see Twy and her inappropriate ways out of Sookie’s life but Twy is right in that they still need a good publicist working for them now that they’re in the public eye… Just one less judgemental of how much Sookie eats and uninvolved in pranks…

    Drunken Dr. Ludwig was hilarious… Glad she’s having a good time and good to hear Sookie’s her fav fairy… if the pregnancy/ies happen, she’s going to be an even more frequent client…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When the time comes, Ludwig will be helpful.
      I agree that Supes who were around that first time would remain skeptical. How could they not? They haven’t seen her since and would have no context to know how or if she’d changed. I felt Muatapha had a great deal of promise but was never really developed.
      Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

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