Tuesday, January 31, 2012

41 - Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman Look to the Future - Part Two

Chapter Forty One

We stayed another week with Char and Darren, paying a little wake up call to various people on our pervert list, baddies that were living on the North Island.

These visits were made after it became too late to keep our daughter and son-in-law up. Charlaine needed more sleep now that she was sleeping for two and Darren didn't want to leave her side, even in the safety of their own house.

The number one rule on our "Make the World a Little Safer" tour was for me to keep my temper, not to become so enraged at the things I learned that Eric had to physically restrain me. Even a full meal of donor blood wouldn't stop me if the red haze descended on my consciousness. I hated being in a red out.

I was a quick learner, by night six I had learned how to sufficiently detach myself from my angry emotions so that I could accomplish the higher good of stopping the men from their former behavior. Revisiting Tim and the others I saw first hand the powerful effect I had on them with my original visit.

Tim no longer had a computer or a TV. He had blocked his windows with heavy shades. A bundle of paper recycling outside his trailer revealed clothing catalogs and parenting magazines where pretty little girls could be seen.

Best of all was my follow up visit to assess his progress.

"Little Pig, Little Pig, let me come in," I crooned, glamouring him from the dark outside his shiny trailer.

He opened the door for me and invited me in again. Unlike most vampires that needed eye contact, I could telepathically glamour him right through the walls of his house, like vampire Wi-Fi, and force him to give us an invitation to enter.

Eric had been astounded on our first visit here when Tim had simply opened the door and invited us both into his trailer. Then I was on Peeping Tim like white on rice.

I was so grateful and relieved Eric had been able to quickly pry me off him. Eric was pleased as punch at my ability to enter a human home without needing eye contact to glamour the resident into giving us an invitation. One more feather in his Maker's cap.

Tim wasn't much pleased about anything. Dark circles under his eyes attested to his headaches, blood loss and worry. Better him than the symptoms innocent children would suffer all their lives from his perverted needs.

In the long run I knew he would be a happier man once he retrained his mind away from little girls. If I could control my emotions to not rip his stupid head off, he could learn to look for adult female companionship.

Satisfied his training was going well, Eric and I left to visit a man that was allegedly stalking his ex-wife. We got most of this information online or through the newspapers because there were very few vampires on New Zealand's North Island and no vampire sheriffs.

We had read about Tim in a Melbourne sheriff's report, he had briefly belonged to a small local chapter of the Church of the Sun, a poorly organized anti-vampire hate group that petered out on the North Island due to lack of interest.

Across the planet these anti-vampire hate groups were filled with drifters, the mentally unstable - unemployable losers that needed some emotional whipping post to give their lives a sense of purpose. Hating someone more than they hated themselves also passed for an excuse as to why their own lives were unlivable.

As pathetic and irritating as most anti-vampire groups and fanatics were, they could occasionally cause real trouble if led by someone smart and determined. They were all watched closely to see if their activities were heating up, moving towards an actual attack.

All a vigilant sheriff had to do was wait outside a Sun meeting and glamour one of the people as they left to find out everything they had up their sleeves. Vampires didn't kill the hate mongers because that would be too obvious. They had other ways of toning down their activities.

The sheriff would find out all the incriminating evidence they could about any illegal activity of the members. Just about everyone had something they were doing that could get them in legal hot water. Sending human police an anonymous tip was a sure fire way to tie up an activist in the human court system for a few months or years.

Evidence could be planted, criminal activity could be staged, humans could be glamoured to confess to crimes they never committed. Even if they retracted the confession later when the glamour wore thin it would still be on record.

The bottom line was that it wasn't good to get on the bad side of vampires, even the "new" mainstreaming vampire. Like most folks vampires just wanted to be left in peace. They wanted to go to ground assured they would not be staked or burned in their sleep.

Of course there was the occasional bad apple in the vampire community - a vampire that wanted to use shortcuts to financial solvency or wanted to kill for revenge or just plain cussedness, but those vampires didn't survive very long due to the vigilance and heavy hand of the sheriffs that protected everyone.

My beautiful Eric was such a sheriff and I was proud of him. It also gave me an insider's ability to know what what was going on. And what was going on was a lot of nasty stuff, stuff I might be able to stop, one miscreant at a time.

With the added bonus of a good meal for me. Like Eric said, "Unpleasant on the outside, delicious on the inside."

Or as Reverend Fullenwilder would say, "No one is all bad."

I honed my hunting and glamouring skills in New Zealand and tried to tone my down my initial attack so Eric wouldn't have such a job of it. Not to swirl my own cape or anything but I think I did pretty darn good in the land down under.

I felt ready to take on our "European Tour". I was excited to see the sights.

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more to come ..... (I am always so pleased to see that I have not over-stayed my welcome among you. Your kindness and graciousness to visit and leaving a note are ALWAYS appreciated! Wishing you health and happiness .. see you all Wednesday!)

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Monday, January 30, 2012

40 - Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman Look to the Future - Part Two

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Chapter Forty


Eric was smeared with blood, not vampire blood - human blood. Specifically, peeping Tim's blood.

The red haze that had filled my vision like crimson smoke slowly dissipated. From the crazy disarray of Eric's mane and the grim set of his lips I had obviously put up quite a struggle. I had latched on to Tim and fed until I was completely full. Fortunately I didn't feel blood drunk.

I didn't want to kill anyone and I greatly feared I had.

"Did I?" I asked again, my guts clenching in terror at what Eric would say.

Then I heard a soft groan. My heart leapt up in hope.

"Apparently not," Eric said, unstraddling me and glancing over at my prey.

As I sat up he patted me on the shoulder in a reassuring way. He wanted me to keep my spirits bright even if I had an accident. Maybe Tim wasn't going to make it.

I got up and went to the man slumped on the built-in pleather couch. His throat was a horrible mess. I must have hung on like a rabid raccoon until Eric managed to rip him from my mouth. Blood pulsed from a severed artery. He was going to die very soon if I didn't save him.

The picture of the little girl, mouth open with happiness as she splashed water in the air, was frozen on the computer screen. Her sweetness and innocence hurt my heart. This scum would rob her of that if he could.

Still, I just could not kill him outright, not without knowing if I could make him stop. I gave him some of my blood and glamoured him. He stopped moving, healing and breathing calmly while he sat in a daze. Slowly his eyes opened.

"Tim, have you hurt anyone? Have you touched any children?" I asked.

I didn't rely on his verbal answer, I went into his mind where the truth hid like a maggot under a rock.

"Yes, back in Melbourne. But it was just a hug," he said dreamily, or perhaps that was just weakness from blood loss.

I saw a big angry bald headed man with a gun threatening to kill Tim, a little girl with wide blue eyes hiding behind the bald man's leg. The little girl's father had come in before anything untoward had happened.

Bless vigilant parents!

Tim left Australia for New Zealand within the week, certain the father was going to hunt him down and kill him. Judging from the murderous gleam in the father's eye I think Tim was probably right.

Now he was here ... with us. Out of the frying pan, into the vampire.

Since he hadn't carried out any of his awful desires yet I decided to let him live. I told him that he would have a blinding migraine headache every time he looked at a child.

Even if he saw one by accident, or a picture or drawing of a child, his head would instantly feel like it was going to explode. The pain would be beyond anything he had ever experienced in his life.

Then I erased his memory of our visit. I broke a glass and made a superficial cut on his hand with a shard. That would explain the blood that had gotten spread around. He might be a little weak for a while. Maybe seven days, I thought humorously.

"We have to come back in a short time to see how this worked," I told Eric once we were outside the trailer.

Eric nodded. Of course we would be back soon. Char was expecting, we planned on spending a lot of time with her.

We watched as Tim looked around and saw the glass, the blood, and he began to make sense of what had happened to him.

We watched as he picked up the broken pieces and threw them in the trash. We moved around the trailer to watch him in the bathroom washing his hand and running cold water to drink from the tap as he bent over the sink. Blood loss had made him thirsty. His neck had completely healed.

Best of all, we watched as he walked by the computer, saw the image of the happy little girl on the screen and clutched his head with a terrible groan. His eyes squinched shut with the pain of it.

When he opened his eyes again and saw the screen a new wave of agony shot through him. He slammed the lid shut on his computer. The first step in his rehabilitation.

Eric and I high fived and then kissed.

"You are a marvel," he said gleefully. "We will have so much fun."

His teeth shone in the lights that surrounded the trailer park. His eyes glowed with the supernatural radiance all vampires had, at least to my eyes. Eric was into this big time.

I wasn't sure if he cared deeply if I stopped humans from hurting other humans but I knew he cared deeply for power, especially supernatural power. Most especially for the kind of power I had.

He hit the jackpot with me and he knew it. Every miscreant I could control would be an experiment to see just what kind of long term impact I could have on the human mind.

Could I control the entire Congress, the Army, everyone on Earth? Could I stop all the wars?

I immediately stopped those thoughts from going any further. That was Vampire Liberation crazy thinking - the idea a benevolent vampire should run everything.

Even if I could I wouldn't want to. Running my own life was a full time job, running the planet would be impossible, something I was hoping the vampires that wanted to take over would finally realize.

I looked at the way Eric was beaming at me and hoped very much he felt the same way.

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more to come ..... (It's a wonderful Wednesday when you're here with me. I send my love and best wishes to you. I bask in the golden glow of having readers. You are my sunshine!)

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Monday, January 23, 2012

39 - Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman Look to the Future - Part Two

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Chapter Thirty Nine

"Where are we going?" I asked Eric as we effortlessly sped through the night.

I never got tired of the freedom and thrill of being able to run like this. If you don't breathe, there's no breath to get out of, I thought ungrammatically.

We had stopped at the guest house to change onto our black hooded jogging outfits. With the hood up the only thing a human would see was two disembodied white faces. To cut back on our visibility even further our hoods had face masks that could be pulled down, like bank robbers in a movie. In our case that would be a blood bank.

"We are going to the trailer park. The manager there is a Peeping Tim," Eric told me.

Since we were moving so fast we were halfway there when I told him the term was Peeping Tom. I didn't ask him how he knew about the manager, he had a pile of folders on problematic humans we could visit and instill some kind of inhibition into. Peeping Tom would be my second experiment in behavior modification.

The trailer park we were headed towards was about half a mile away from a national park I had visited with Eric and Adele years ago. Adele had wanted to try and repel a bloodsucking creature we called a "yawhoo". I forget what its official name was.

That adventure had turned out badly for Eric because the spray Adele used contained Valerian, an herb harmless to humans but very damaging to vampires. I suddenly realized that now I too would be susceptible to the destructive powers of Valerian. Good thing I had warned Adele away from using it.

The sounds and smells of the New Zealand woods at night were so different from the ones back home. I scared the heck out of a little brown kiwi when I flashed over to see what had been rustling through the lush carpet of feathery ferns. The small flightless bird looked at me with bright dark eyes, his downward curving beak slightly opened in surprise.

"Sorry, little guy," I said to it while backing away, not sure if I should have been calling it a "little gal" instead.

I also saw some small geckos. None of them offered to sell me car insurance. The smell of the very dirt itself was different. How I looked forward to having "time enough and world enough" to explore each little detail that drew my attention. Eric had century upon century to discover all the wonders the world offered. I was a newbie.

While Eric might wait patiently for me to check out what I wanted to see, the dawn was not so accommodating. Neither was my appetite. Somewhere ahead of us was a sexual deviant that would offer me both blood and a chance to try out my theory about leaving the man with a nasty symptom that would only act up if he acted up.

The trailer park was sort of run down, though the mental images I got from the sleeping human occupants was as pleasant as those of any other group of people. A few were awake due to worry, illness or looking at computer porn. One elderly lady was downloading crocheting patterns. It takes all kinds to make a world.

Most were sound asleep. A dog barked in warning, letting the occupants know there was someone approaching the trailer.

The owner yelled "Quiet! Shut up!" in an irritated voice and the dog stopped barking.

Why have a dog if you weren't going to heed their warning or appreciate their ability to sense the presence of danger?

That's what Eric and I were, danger. If we behaved ourselves we were harmless enough but if we indulged the very lowest drives in our nature we could have killed and destroyed everyone here faster than you could think of it. Humans letting their lower natures run wild could do terrible damage too. That was why we were here.

At the farthest edge of the trailer park was a modest silver old fashioned trailer, shaped like a Twinkie. I believe it was called an Airstream. The sign out front said "Tim Douglas - Manager".

Huh, I guess he really was a peeping Tim.

I looked through the small grimy window and saw him hunched over his laptop, downloading photos from a compact modern digital camera with a cable attached to the CPU. The blue glow of the screen gave him a creepy look.

As I watched I saw a picture of a little girl about eight years old come up on the screen. She was playing in a blue plastic kiddie pool, wearing a tight little pink bikini decorated with ribbons and bows.

Why would anyone dress an eight year old child in a bikini?

From the blurry leaves at the edge of the photo it was obvious the picture was taken while the photographer was hidden in some foliage. I entered the man's mind as he cropped the photo to zero in on the little girl and save it. His thoughts were a cesspool of images so ugly I blanked out.

The next thing I knew Eric was sitting on me. I was laying on my back and Eric straddled my waist. He was holding my wrists. I blinked at him, trying to understand where I was. I tasted blood in my mouth. I felt full as a tick.

I looked up at the ceiling, which curved at the edges to follow the curve of the exterior of the trailer. I noticed a water stain from an old leak. One of the bulbs in the square fixture was burned out.

"Did I kill him?" I asked in a tiny voice, my heart sinking. My fangs snicked back in.

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more to come .....(Happy weekend everyone! Thanks for providing the link for SD, this week was a really busy one for me. Hope things are going well for you and the coming of spring puts joy in your heart. Thank you for stopping by, see you Wednesday!)


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Sunday, January 22, 2012

38 - Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman Look to the Future - Part Two

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Chapter Thirty Eight

"Did I please you, Master?" I asked him in a seductive submissive voice, walking my fingers from his sensuous lips down his chin and neck.

We were still cuddled together on the floor, the unconscious actors laying next to us under a blanket. They were in a glamour trance filled with imaginary vampire sex. I lifted the edge of the blanket and took a peek.

They both had dreamy smiles on their handsome actor faces. Good.

I had already healed their wounds. I would put their shirts back on before they woke up. I was proud of how neat I had been with them. They weren't messy at all.

"Stop Sookie, my head will explode with joy," he warned with a growly laugh, kissing me deeply and allowing me to taste all our flavors mixed up together.

I could see every inch of his naked body, much better than the movie stars' chests. When you have the best why mess with the rest? That was probably how Eric felt about me too.

"You're the best," I told him, seeing him respond to my heartfelt praise. There was more we could do, we hadn't done all our favorite things. Now that I was Vampire the list had grown.

Unfortunately I felt the night slipping past. I felt the rotation of the earth. I felt the threat of the sun just the other side of the blessed darkness.

"Do we have more time or should we shower soon?" I smiled up at him, placing my hand on his flat golden downy stomach.

Eric lifted up, looked at the clock on the nightstand and groaned. "We better shower. You like to go to bed clean," he said reluctantly. "But keep the thought about me being the best. We will explore it later"

By later he meant the next night. I got up and headed for the bathroom. It was true that I liked to go to ground after showering.

Eric didn't mind waking up covered in the remnants of the night before, probably a hold over from the time he wouldn't have had access to running water before going to ground. He knew I liked him to be clean so these days he made sure he was presentable when he rose.

I knew some vampires made it their policy to wake up wallowing in old blood. I just wouldn't be able to accept that, even now that I was Vampire.

I liked to wake feeling fresh and clean, ready for the new adventures the night would bring. Eric said once that I was dainty. It pleased me to have him think that, though I really didn't think it was true.

The other reason I wanted to shower and clean up the room was that I didn't want Charlaine or Darren to see any of this.

It looked worse than it was. A little blood looked like a lot when it had been smeared around. Vampire finger paint. A human wouldn't understand, would be shocked at what looked like carnage but was really only a little harmless fang fun.

After a lovely shower together we dressed the actors, waking them up and waiting until they were safe to drive. We hadn't taken enough blood to make them woozy. I could tell they were wondering, in a vague sort of way, why Eric and I looked freshly showered. We would have to remember to blow dry our hair if we did this again.

Since they were imagining someone other than me in their sex-with-a-vampiress dreams they wouldn't know me if they tripped over me in the future. I saw how easy it was for vampires to have lived among humans for thousands of years without detection. Some rumors and stories circulated but most people had truly been shocked to find out vampires were real.

After they left I saw some blood on the large area carpet. Would Night Tide get that out? Eric had a better idea. He took up the old carpet and would have it replaced after we left. He rolled it up and stood it in the corner.

I opened my mouth to ask him if we should let Charlaine choose the new carpet but before I could speak I was out like someone threw a switch.

Then I was awake again. I knew it was the next night because I could sense the sun just below the horizon. Eric was on the phone giving his best deputy Lawton instructions. The rolled up rug still stood in the corner. I remembered the night before and smiled, while a rumble of hunger shot through my tummy.

"I have to go," Eric said to Lawton. Then he closed his phone.

"Who's for dinner?" I asked, a joke between us.

Eric looked at the writing on the bag of blood he took from the fridge.

"Number 7332448 tonight," he said, putting the blood in the glass container we used to warm it and punching in the time on the microwave. I was sure I could taste the plastic if we left it in the bag.

If we used the "defrost" setting it didn't alter the fluidity of the blood. After it beeped I had the first of my nightly feedings. It took the edge off. I would have preferred the real thing. Maybe Charlaine had someone else lined up for me?

"Do you think Char has anyone else for me to meet and eat?" I asked Eric hopefully on our way over to their house.

He didn't answer, he just looked at me with his eyes glowing slightly in an affectionate way.

All the lights were on in the back of the house facing the guest house meaning that Char and Darren were in the kitchen. They were seated at the breakfast bar finishing up their dessert. Char looked bigger through the middle than she did yesterday, as if our reassurances had caused the baby to have a growth spurt. Who knows, maybe it did.

"We slept so well last we never heard a thing," Charlaine said after hugging us. "How did it go?"

Her eyes darted to the french doors and the guest house where she was probably hoping we didn't still have her clients tied up or worse.

"Very well, I'm sure they'll be happy with their experience," I told her, feeling proud of myself. "You don't have anyone else coming for tonight?"

"No, sorry Mom. I wouldn't have even had those two if they hadn't almost insisted I introduce you," she said with a little downturn of her mouth.

As a properly raised Southern woman it would upset her if she felt she wasn't being a good hostess. I didn't believe being a good hostess extended to finding donors for your vampire mother.

"That's OK honey," I said at the same time as Eric said, "I have made dinner arrangements for us."

"You did?" I asked him, surprised. No wonder he hadn't responded to my question about Char finding anyone else to serve up. Eric liked to give me unexpected presents.

He just nodded, then asked Darren about his production facility in New Orleans. We were both hoping we could get them back to our neck of the woods before the baby came. If they could get their company running in the U.S. they could leave New Zealand and the branch of the company here to someone they trusted.

Darren's folks, Allison and Dewey, were completely in agreement with us. They wanted the kids home too. We all wanted our first grand baby to be born where we could cuddle it and love it up.

Darren signed while Charlaine said out loud what he was signing. I was able to understand some of what he was saying. Maybe I would become proficient at it if they moved back to Shreveport where I could see signing all the time. I got rusty if I went too long between sessions.

We had a lovely visit that night. Darren and Char were lighthearted now that they knew their child could hear. Eric and I had to cut our visit short when I began to feel the first stabs of hunger.

It was amazing how my entire focus changed when my hunger arrived. One minute I was thinking about names for our grandson, the next minute I was hoping I could get out into the night before Char started to look good to me. That was something I would not abide, seeing one of my kin as a potential meal.

A warmed bottle of True Blood staved off starvation for another half an hour so I drank the vile metallic stuff to stay a bit longer. Then I absolutely had to go. With much hugging and gladness Eric and I made our way to the door and out into the beautiful night, so full of the promise of adventure ..... and food.

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more to come ...... (Greetings and joy to all. Thank you for stopping by! Hug your necks!

SD - you can start finding my stories in order (by date) from the list at the left of the page.

If anyone could supply a link for SD it would be appreciated. I am running out the door this A.M. so I don't have the time to create one. Maybe I can get to it this weekend. Welcome SD!)

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37 - Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman Look to the Future - Part Two

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Chapter Thirty Seven

I looked to Eric to answer for me, in keeping with our ruse that I was the obedient Child of a powerful Master Maker.

These guys might be famous actors but they could also be agents of the King, reporting back any unusual behavior on my part. It wouldn't be the first time a vampire ruler had sent a handsome man to spy on me and assess my value.

"She is," Eric said, waiting patiently for them to explain their presence here.

The back door of the house flew open and Charlaine came rushing out. "Mom, Dad, this is a surprise I had planned for you."

Charlaine said to Eric, "Dad, I was going to clear this with you before I told them it was OK...." her voice drifted off, unsure of her father's reaction.

Darren followed behind her. He looked like he knew what was going on.

"We're a night early," Taylor said with a boyish shrug. "Our shooting schedule got changed and tonight would be the only night we were available."

"Available for what?" I asked Char.

"These guys are your dinner," she said with a beaming smile. "They positively flipped when I told them my Mom was a newly minted vampire."

"That was alright, wasn't it?" she asked with a little worried frown. "I mean, it's not a secret or anything, is it?"

I hadn't actually thought about it but when I did I realized it wasn't a secret that I had Turned. I had filed papers, everyone could see that I was Vampire.

Still, it was kind of weird having Charlaine set up a meal for me. Sweet of her, but weird.

"No, of course it's not a secret," I said, my big pointy canines sticking out in a most unsecret way. "That was really thoughtful of you."

I was getting better at talking with my fangs out but "secret" still came out more like "thecret". Oh well.

I looked to Eric to see how he would react to my chowing down on handsome and famous movie stars. He seemed completely unconcerned by it. He knew, as did I, that a meal, no matter how attractive, enjoyable and tasty, was just a meal.

"Shall we?" Eric said, opening the door to the guest house and gesturing that all who wanted to could come in while I fed.

"We're just off to bed," Charlaine said, tightening the belt on her robe and putting her hand through Darren's arm. "You guys have fun."

I noticed the robe belt was now above the baby bump and I felt a twinge of nostalgia seeing that shift of waistline. I had enjoyed the first months of my pregnancy very much. I had loved carrying life in me.

Darren gave us a jaunty little wave goodnight.

They went back into their house and shut the lights off immediately to show us they were in for the night. That was thoughtful of them, or perhaps they would have felt it was awkward watching me pounce on a couple of guys and fill up. Vampires usually fed in private or with other vampires, not in the midst of a family gathering.

One we had the men inside the safe house Taylor and Robert explained that they were in New Zealand shooting the umpty umpth sequel to the movie that had launched them to fame and fortune. Robert had played a vampire but he had never gotten to meet a real vampire until now. Taylor played a werewolf but he assured me that he would have preferred to be cast as a vampire. I wasn't sure that was true. He had the thickly muscled build of a werewolf.

Neither of them could tear their eyes from my mouth. I tried to hold my lips a little closed so I didn't look like a scary vampire, just a cute harmless one. I even tried to smile around my fangs.

Eric and I had seen several of their movies. They were ridiculously inaccurate and very entertaining. Like many movies they had portrayed the main vampire as a tortured soul that longed to be a normal mortal.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Most vampires I knew were quite pleased with things the way they were and wouldn't go back to their human life if you gave them mortality, a Chevy truck and a million bucks too.

Robert and Taylor were having their screen persona's sculpted by my talented daughter. The statues were to be set up in the vampire and werewolf mecca Forks, Washington.

They explained that while taking their measurements and setting up the poses Charlaine had mentioned to them that her mother was recently Turned.

That somehow led to them volunteering to be a meal. After all the years of playing supernatural beings on the big screen they were finally getting to have a close encounter with a real vampire.

They both looked great. In an almost vampire-like way they had hung on to their youthful and boyish qualities, most likely due to strict diets, hours at the gym and every cosmetic product money could buy.

It reminded me of Jason, how he scrupulously maintained a regime to stay as young looking as possible, waiting for the day he would be Turned and join the ranks of the Ageless.

Being around vampires made mortals sharply aware of the spinning hands of time, the effects of gravity and entropy on the human body. It was sad and made me feel guilty that I had been twice blessed while my brother aged.

I hoped the little seed I had planted in Pam's mind would bear fruit, that she would decide to Turn Jason, even with all the problems that might bring. Both Pam and Jason had strong personalities, if they clashed there would be no peace in our strangely extended family.

"...hurt?" Robert was saying.

"What?" I asked, aware that I had tuned him out as I thought about my brother.

He smiled thinly as if to apologize for his fear. I could smell it coming off him in waves, an exciting smell that made me want to bite him.

What was he so frightened of, me?

"I asked how much it would hurt," Robert said, his hands jittery.

Before I could answer, he looked around our small guest cottage and asked, "Is there a bathroom in here?"

A lock of hair fell over his forehead in a most appealing way. The tension he was experiencing made the veins in his neck stand out. Everything he did just made him yummier.

I showed him where the facilities were and we waited while he emptied his bladder. Though the door was closed I heard it clearly, like a mighty waterfall. I thought he might have been afraid he would wet himself.

I suddenly realized I didn't need to go to the bathroom, would never need to go. It was good not to have to lose those little slices of time to natural functions. Having time was better than having riches.

I could smell their healthy blood and hear their pulses more intensely as my hunger grew. They were more than eye candy, they were my candy. Eric smiled at me in a knowing way, sensing my appetite rising up to fang snicking goodness. I was so glad he wasn't jealous.

When Robert came out of the bathroom he said, "Now, tell me, is this going to hurt?"

I could hear him beginning to think about backing out of this idea. He was wondering what he could say so they could leave with their dignity intact. Taylor was not as frightened but he was on the fence. He would follow Robert's lead.

"Absolutely not," I reassured him as I walked towards him, putting him and Taylor in a trance with my glamour and telepathy before they could change their minds. "This is going to feel absolutely wonderful."

"Wonderful for you," Eric said with dry humor after they were completely zonked. He sat down on the edge of bed to watch me feed.

I removed their nice shirts so they wouldn't get sullied, and so that I could see them with their shirts off, then started with Robert. Through our bond I felt Eric respond to seeing me eat. I lifted my face to him and ran my tongue slowly around my wet lips and over my dripping fangs.

I moaned, "Mmmm."

I stripped off my top and bra so I could smear my breasts with blood.

It was more than Eric could stand. He roared with passion and joined me on the floor where eating and sex merged into one absolutely wonderful feeling. A good time was had by us. A good time memory would be implanted in the actors.

See? I was learning how to behave.

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more to come .....(Super Saturday Sensational Sisters! Hope this posting finds you on the sunny side of life. Thank you for brightening my day. Love you! See you Wednesday!)

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36 - Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman Look to the Future - Part Two

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Chapter Thirty Six

The walls were hand painted paisley in muted colors, many colors that swirled and intertwined endlessly creating interesting patterns for the eye to follow. Soft lighting, empty cradle, cushioned rocking chair and thick sky blue rug were the beginnings of the final furnishings.

Other things lay in boxes ready for assembly including the crib and changing table Eric and I had sent by mail. The shipping to New Zealand had been nearly as costly as the furniture. For the life of me I couldn't recall which wood finish I had finally decided on when I ordered it for her. I had pored over catalogs for days before finally making a choice. Now it all blurred together in my mind.

"Will the furniture match the design you have in mind?" I asked. "We can exchange it if it doesn't fit in." I touched the antique cherry wood rocking chair and made it rock.

From far away I could smell a human rich with blood. I was beginning to get a little hungry but it hadn't become crucial yet.

"Absolutely, the furniture is a perfect match for the chair Darren's folks gave us. It was like you could read my mind," she laughed with a merry twinkle in her eye.

In truth I could hear her thoughts but I wouldn't dare. She knew if any tendrils of telepathy touched her mind, all the girls did. I believed it was a talent they had developed in the womb when they were packed in together so closely.

For each of them to develop their own personality they would have needed to partition off their own mind from their sisters. The girls had similarities but they had differences too, evidence their protective shields had worked. None of us intruded on the others mind.

That gave me an idea.

"Char, would it be alright if I checked on the baby, tried to find out if he can hear?" I asked.

Either way she would want to know. Maybe having time to plan ahead would allow her put therapists or special learning in place.

"I tried that Mom, he has me blocked already," she said sadly. "That means he's definitely going to be telepathic. He needs to grow a separate mind from mine, just like we need to be separate from each other."

Apparently it was a natural developmental stage for telepaths to stop others from blending with their own minds. It started much earlier than I thought.

"Maybe he wouldn't have the same barriers to me. Before he could put them up I could find out what he's hearing. How about if you sing and I'll check in with him?" I asked.

"OK, but be real gentle. If he resists at all then don't push it, I don't want him to feel invaded," she cautioned.

"Absolutely, I'll use my lightest touch," I said.

Charlaine started to sing and I placed my hands on either side of her rounded belly. Gently, gently I put out my tiniest tendril of telepathy. Instantly I saw a pink glow and experienced the floaty aquatic environment.

I felt the thick umbilical cord brush against my feet as I tried to shift my position in the close space. I tasted the amniotic fluid enter and leave my mouth rhythmically as if I was breathing and swallowing it in at the same time. Muffled, very sweet and familiar I heard my mother's voice. The sound waves entered my mind and ears as if heard through the wall of a house. He could hear!

I backed out of his mind immediately. I don't think he even knew I was there.

"He can hear!" I exclaimed joyously. "He heard you singing and loved it!"

It had sounded muffled, but it was definitely hearing. I didn't mention the muffled part because I didn't know if it was the natural effect of being enclosed in a fluid filled uterus.

There might be some impairment but it would not be the total impairment Darren was born with.

Charlaine and I hugged, jumped up and down and squealed with celebration. I knew that she would have been fine either way but perhaps Darren would have felt guilty that he passed his deafness on to his precious son.

"What are we so happy about?" Eric asked from the doorway. He brought Darren level with him and put his hand on smaller mans shoulder in support.

Darren stood next to him, his eyes red and puffy from crying. I could smell his blood but the slightly reptilian scent wasn't attractive. Eric looked at me sharply, sensing my growing hunger. I didn't know how long I had before I became dangerous but I didn't want to risk it. I nodded to Eric, letting him know it was time to eat.

"We are so happy to find out our baby can hear," Charlaine said clearly so that Darren could read her lips.

His red rimmed eyes got huge, then filled again, this time with relief. He rushed into the room and took his wife in his arms.

Eric and I went back to the living room to give them a moment of privacy.

"Let us go to the guest house and have dinner," Eric said.

In the time since our first visit Eric had turned the guest house into a big safe room. The Bishop brothers had gone to Madrid, the next leg of our journey so we could have private family time with Char. Since we had a safe room and their house was pretty remote Eric felt it would be safe for us to stay without guards.

We left Darren and Charlaine signing wildly to each other, their faces glowing with joy. I didn't know if Char had ever revealed my telepathic powers to Darren, though I suspected it was common knowledge in the supernatural community.

It wouldn't matter to him that his mother-in-law was telepathic. His mind would be virtually opaque to my viewing. The same with most supernaturals.

I had been half hoping that I might be a little better at getting into supernatural minds once I Turned, but that hadn't happened. It was probably for the best. I had had enough trouble learning to tune out the cacophony of human thought waves bombarding me from every direction.

The blessed silence of being around vampire minds was what had drawn me to them in the first place. It wasn't all Eric had going for him, but I doubted if I could have been happy if I knew every single flash of thought that moved through his mind.

He wouldn't have liked it either. A certain amount of privacy is necessary to function normally. Even our blood bond didn't go into details, it simply conveyed the sharply outlined peaks of intense experiences. It made sex into a mind blowing 3- D experience.

Thinking of 3- D experiences, I told Eric I was hoping Darren could show us the advanced working prototype of his Lacertus 3000 and the special DDDennison search engine he developed. He had the only search engine in the world that projected cup sized 3-D holographic images on a special pad to the other side of the keyboard from the mouse pad.

"I am sure he would be pleased to demonstrate it for you," Eric said. I knew he was an investor in the company, maybe the only investor since he had eliminated Tony Soprano from the bargaining table.

Before we could punch in the security code on the keypad to the safe room a Dagger GT Super Sport pulled into the driveway.

To my utter amazement the famous human actors Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner got out, their tall fit bodies uncoiling from both sides of the low slung blood red car like a dream of male pulchritude. My jaw dropped open, probably to make room for my fangs to spring out.

They came up to us, both smiling amiably with about a million dollars worth of first class dental care.

"Are you Mrs. Stackhouse?" Robert asked me.
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more to come ...... (Lovely Leap Day to all!

Thanks for your visit and wonderful comments.

**Please note that I amended Saturday's posting when it was pointed out to me that I had forgotten to mention Adele's secret (very very secret apparently!) ability to read vampire minds. **

I suppose I should keep notes on the characters but I just keep it all swimming around in my brain like a supernatural aquarium and something will slip through the cracks once in a while. Thanks for your reminders, they are appreciated. I feel like we're all in this thing together! lol)

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35 - Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman Look to the Future - Part Two

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Chapter Thirty Five

Charlaine and Darren had made all kinds of improvements to their estate. From the meticulous landscaping to the new green roof and solar panels they had worked hard to beautify their home while doing all in their power to lower their carbon footprint.

Our Charlaine was an artist, a sculptor with famous and highly placed clients wanting her to render their likeness. She needed beauty and tranquility to inspire her artistic muse. She needed seclusion to give her clients the privacy they required. That worked well for Eric and me too.

Char had the almost unique ability to sculpt people the way they wished or hoped they looked instead of how they really appeared to others. This was partly due to her telepathic powers and partly due to an artistic sensibility that had blossomed under the loving guidance of her art teacher, Auguste Rodin. He still came to stay with Charlaine from time to time, he was always welcome.

Auguste, like many of our vampire friends, had become extended family to our human daughters. Now I was glad our girls had grown up in close and loving proximity to vampires, my arrival at Charlaine's home as a vampire was no big deal to her or Darren.

When the girls were small I had wondered about the wisdom of filling their world with more vampires than humans but their telepathic powers had made it a necessity.

Though Adele could read vampire minds she found their thoughts quiet, infrequent and focused on the task at hand, not disturbing to her mental equilibrium. Vampire minds didn't chatter away endlessly like human minds, perhaps because vampires had so much less to fret and worry about than humans.

Adele had kept her secret for so long and so well I seldom thought about her special ability. We never spoke of it because it could be a death sentence. Many powerful Vampires would not allow a human girl to know their thoughts.

The rest of us could not read vampire minds at all. The telepathic peace and freedom of their society had allowed my girls to be educated, to have social lives and to keep an open mind about those that were different from human.

Adele was living with a werewolf and Charlaine was married to a were-gator. Most of the month Char's sweetie pie looked like the aw-shucks intelligent and handsome young man he was, but when the moon was full he became a very large alligator. As a human Darren was deaf but as a gator he could hear.

Sometimes Charlaine sat by the water and sang to him. As a gator he didn't understand actual words but the tone and sweetness of Charlaine's voice pleased him, drew him close to the shore.

Occasionally he would roar and slap the water with his mighty tail, an alligator's way of applauding, maybe. He didn't recall what he did while transformed, he relied on Charlaine to keep an eye on his behavior insured by the pile of raw chickens they left by the small lake he used.

Charlaine greeted us in a brightly patterned caftan. Under its generous material I could see the rounded shape of my first grandchild. I resisted the urge to place my hand on her tummy, I would wait until I asked permission.

Both she and Darren looked radiant with joy. Darren's computer company had expanded and grown, they were now financially comfortable. Darren got to stay with Char most days, working from home.

Charlaine's studio was in the house too. I wondered briefly if her happiness at staying home was due to her early years, shut away from people whose thoughts might have frightened or confused the telepathic little girl.

"Mom, you look so different!" she exclaimed, holding me at arms length to look me over after hugging me. "You look just like daddy now!"

"In that case I better go fix my makeup," I joked. Everyone laughed.

I knew what she was saying. Eric and I shared the same gold blond coloring. Our matching paper white vampire complexions took away one of the notable differences that had existed between us. He was still a foot taller than I was and outweighed me by half.

I hugged Darren, noticing for the first time the faint smell of reptile on him. It was not thick and gagging like dog or wolf. He signed his greetings and Charlaine spoke the words aloud. She had done it for so long it was automatic with her.

We all sat in the living room after Eric got his hug. Charlaine sat on the edge of her cushion next to Darren so I thought she had something to tell me.

"It's a boy," she said, patting her little belly. "We're going to have a boy."

I squealed and went to sit next to her. "Oh honey, that's wonderful! This is just so fantastic, I can't wait to hold that little baby boy."

"Tell her the rest of it," Darren signed and Char said aloud.

She gave him a very light little punch in the arm, angling herself so Darren could see her lips as she spoke. "Darren thinks that since it's a boy there is an increased chance the baby might be born with some hearing impairment. I asked the doctor but she didn't know. Darren has a cousin that has some hearing problems. This has led him to believe it might be hereditary."

I could see a frown creasing Charlaine's brow. She was either concerned for the baby or else she thought Darren was wrong. Either way I could tell it was causing some tension between them.

"With two excellent parents the lack of hearing has not diminished Darren's life," Eric observed. "We will all love this baby. He will have a happy life with whatever talents the fates decree."

Darren hadn't been looking at Eric until right at the end so Charlaine repeated what her father said in sign language. Darren looked for a long moment at his father in law, then suddenly rushed to him and hugged him, startling the still seated Eric.

Awkwardly Eric put his arms around Darren and patted his back as his son in law bent hugging him. I suddenly realized that Darren was sobbing silently in Eric's arms. Eric stood, putting his arm around Darren and together they walked into the kitchen then out into the back yard.

I heard the door close quietly behind them. I had no idea how Eric was going to comfort Darren. Eric could neither speak nor understand sign language and Darren couldn't hear anything Eric said. Darren could read lips but it was very dark out there.

Charlaine stood, tears in her blue eyes. "Maybe I should go and translate for them?" she said uncertainly.

"Let them have a moment together. Eric knows how concerned a father is for the safety and happiness of his children. Darren is having the same fears about his role as any man, hearing or not. Sit back down and we can talk about things like names and what color you're going to paint the nursery."

"Colors. It's already been painted. I used just about every color in the rainbow and then some," she laughed a little.

"Well for goodness sake, let me see it right this minute!" I exclaimed, standing up.

Hand in hand we went to the other side of the house to see the nursery. I caught the low rumble of Eric's voice coming from outside but I didn't eavesdrop. I was glad Eric knew what to do to help Darren. I guess a thousand years of life gives you a lot to draw on.

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more to come ..... (Super Saturday Sisters of the Supernatural - Thank you so much for stopping by and letting me know you were here. I send you all my best .... see you Wednesday!

p.s. You were right of course. I neglected to mention Adele's unique ability to read vampire minds. That girl sure can keep a secret, even from me! lol! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

You are also right about Linda, she was Sookie's Aunt, Hadley's mother. )

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34 - Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman Look to the Future - Part Two

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Chapter Thirty Four

Jure and Linda were staying in the castle for the night, then they were going to Vienna where Jure owned a small villa on the outskirts of the city. How Jure managed to run all his properties from his home in Shreveport was a wonder. I worried about my house every second I was away from it.

Before we departed I checked Linda's face and body language carefully for any signal she might want her father and I to stay with her or remove her from this place but every sign she sent was quite the opposite. She was chomping at the bit to be alone in this grand castle with Jure, it didn't take telepathic powers to guess why.

I had hoped to have an opportunity to speak privately with Jure and let him know he was on thin ice, that he better take good care my Linda was not made even slightly unhappy with his behavior or he would have to answer to me and Eric.

That opportunity never came. I put it on my mental "to do" list, knowing we would all meet up again in a few weeks before Eric and I returned to Shreveport. I figured he probably knew we would be a hornet's nest of unhappy if he messed with Linda's mind, I just wanted to drive the point home like a stake.

Our daughter hastened to get our coats and kissed us each briefly but with finality on the cheek at the door, not exactly shoving us out the massive front door into the night but darn close. She wanted Jure to herself, this was her adventure and she didn't want Mom and Dad eyeballing her every move. Actually I didn't blame her or feel at all hurt, I was exactly the same way at her age.

Linda was the one expediting our departure. Interestingly, I thought Jure was the one that seemed reluctant to let us leave, asking us more than once to reconsider and stay until tomorrow night. I was not comfortable doing that, I wanted the security of our substantial were-Bigfoot bodyguards keeping watch outside our room.

I didn't think Jure would do anything untoward against Eric while Linda was around. Maybe he would never raise a finger against either Eric or I. My instincts told me he wouldn't harm us but we would be foolish to trust him with our secrets.

As Eric had told me many times before it was best to follow your instincts. My instincts also said to go back to the Annex and the Bishop brothers. Eric and I flew through the night to the stable. Jure had phoned his driver to let him know we were coming so the horses would be put back in harness.

As Xorvat guided the carriage back down the mountain the half moon rose, lighting everything, to my eyes, as bright as high noon in an icy blue white glow. I thought about the next leg of our journey, our trip to New Zealand.

Now that we had seen Linda and reassured ourselves she was doing well, I began to anticipate seeing Charlaine. Her pregnancy would be visible by now. She would look different and so would I. Despite our physical changes there would be no change in our love for each other or in my excitement at the upcoming arrival of my first grandchild.

Eric made the travel arrangements by phone when we got back to the Annex. We would leave during the day in our travel containers and wake up tomorrow night in New Zealand. This level of trust was difficult for me. Seeing the ease with which Eric made the plans reassured me, however.

Having the Bishop brothers with us, guarding us every inch of the way, was a big relief. How could less prosperous vampires stand the worry of travel? Some vampires could not even afford safe rooms. A charity had been established by the WVF, the World Vampire Federation, to help those vampires in need. As with all charities there was never enough money to go around.

The ones that chose to remain in countries where vampirism was illegal would have a hard time getting funds and their safe rooms built because of their need for utter secrecy. Being a hunted fugitive for no other reason than who you were was a terrible way to live.

If Daynight was perfected those vampires could live their lives in their home land and in peace - well, as much as anyone on this planet could live in peace.

As a human I had been opposed to the completion of Daynight because it would be one step closer to the Day of the Dead, the day vampires took control of the world and set things right, at least according to the way they saw right. Now I saw that the two things might not necessarily be related.

If the ruling vampires could be persuaded to give up the idea of world wide vampire control and accept a harmonious co-existence with humans then the development of Daynight wouldn't have any drawbacks for humans and would be the greatest advance ever for vampires.

That was a big "if" though.

After a few discussions Eric and I had both come into agreement that it was not feasible for vampires to become dictators over human affairs. Anna Hita would make her report to Tesla and he would present the results as if they came from extensive long range forecasts made by a super computer. If that put an end to the whole Vampire Liberation movement then Daynight could be made available and vampires would be able to live their lives for 24 hours a day, not just at night.

Too bad vampires were so stubborn, that they had so much invested in the idea of vampire rule. Something would have to be done to make them see the pointlessness of their plan. Would the feasibility study be enough?

I hoped so, and hope, as Gran used to say, is what keeps us going.

As in other places around the world the Annex had a long list of human donors that wanted nothing more than to have a close encounter with a vampire. Before I blanked out for the night we had two humans sent up by room service. I must say I was proud of myself for my behavior. I glamoured them, didn't make very big holes, remembered to heal them with my blood and filled their minds with "lovely thoughts" as Mrs. Wainright would have said. Lovely thoughts of Debbie Pelt, I might add. I was keeping her memory alive, I rationalized.

All in all I was getting better by leaps and bounds at being Vampire. As I brushed my wavy golden hair I looked at Eric in the mirror. He came up behind me and put his big warm hands on my shoulders.

"I chose well when I chose you," he said.

I could feel his calm satisfaction and his pride. Despite our current equal status he still tended to think of me as "his", a vampire term for owning a human that especially pleased them. There was no point in arguing about it, if he wanted to think of me as "his" I had no objection. I knew it was a term of affection, not a term of subjugation.

"Did you choose me or did I choose you?" I asked in a light teasing tone of voice, as if perplexed. "I forget now which of us made the first move."

"I always make the first move," he said, turning me, standing me up and gathering me to his strong silent chest. "And the last move too."

True to what he was saying he did make the first move but I must have made the last move by going limp in his very loving arms a while later. Or maybe he did make the last move by tucking me safely into my travel container. However it went, I opened my eyes to an entirely different part of the world.

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more to come ....(Wonderful Wednesday All! I can never thank you enough for stopping by and taking the time to write, it is a big happy place in my life! I hope you are well and at peace.)

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33 - Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman Look to the Future - Part Two

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Chapter Thirty Three

We rejoined Linda in the great room where she was modeling the antique gold embellished dress for Jure. Her buxom shape filled it out and then some. Her bosom swelled and almost overflowed the tight blue bodice while the jeweled belt emphasized the narrowness of her rib cage. The gown flowed to the floor, trailing behind her on the layered carpets.

She would have looked regal if not for the tall pointed hat and flowing veil. I don't know how they kept them on in the olden days but my pretty Linda wasn't having any luck with it. It slid from one side to the other if she moved her head even slightly.The band in the back of the hat did little to hold it in place.

When she turned to see us approach it comically slid down over her eyes, then over her entire face. In trying to get free she stepped on the floor length veil, which had wrapped itself around her legs, making the hat impossible to slide back without loosening it again. Now the pointed hat looked like a big beak covering her entire face. Linda resembled some exotic squawking flapping bird.

After some comical struggling and my help she finally managed to take the blasted thing, veil and all, completely off. I handed it to Myrna. We were all smiling at the incident, all except Jure.

"Sorry," Linda gave a little embarrassed laugh. "I hope I didn't tear it or anything. Guess that style isn't for me."

He came and took her hands in his, not caring at all if she wore the hat or not. His coal black eyes looked into hers. I saw them briefly flash a hot orange color glow but as soon as I saw it they went dark again.

"My dear," he said in his deep voice, "My dear."

He seemed almost overcome with emotion. Was this dress special to him? I hoped Linda hadn't overstepped her bounds by wearing it. Myrna had given her permission for Linda to try anything on in the wardrobe room and Myrna was Jure's agent.

"It suits you. Any garment fit for a queen would suit you," he said gallantly.

Linda relaxed. "Thank you for letting me try it on. I better go change back into my real clothes before I mess the dress up too."

She pushed her tousled mane of hair back from her face. The hat hadn't improved her up swept hairdo either.

I felt proud, I had raised her to be respectful of other people's nice things.

"That might be best. We must leave soon to get your parents back to their hotel," he said.

He took and kissed her right hand reverently. If this was all a show it was a good one. He seemed genuinely taken with Linda.

I accompanied Linda as she went to change. Jure's comment about the dress being fit for a queen jogged my memory. While Linda changed I told her about Queen Trinity's obsession with pregnancy and her seeming inability to come to grips with her permanently sterile status.

As I spoke quietly to Linda I knew it was possible that Jure could hear our conversation. If he cared anything for Linda's feelings, and I was coming to believe he did, he would be old enough and wise enough to take a warning from Queen Trinity's plight.

Linda, her cheeks pink from the exertion of changing clothes and the warmth of the room, sat at the dressing table when I was done speaking. She fixed her hair and make up, looking at me in the mirror as she spoke.

Contrary to popular fiction vampires are visible in mirrors, a good thing since many of them are rather vain. The notion they didn't show up in mirrors or on film was started by vampires long ago so that a vampire could "prove" they were not vampire by appearing in a mirror, thus avoid staking.

"I can see how it happened but I don't think there's any going back, is there?" she asked rhetorically. "I suppose that Queen Trinity will eventually learn to live with her decision. It isn't a happy one though. I have given all this some thought...." her voice trailed off and she turned to speak to me face to face.

"You have?" I asked encouragingly, sitting down too. Linda continued to fuss with the back of her hair, not answering right away. Had I sounded too nosy?

I knew not to stick in my two cents, this was something she was going to need to figure out for herself. I just wanted to make sure she had considered her options.

I glanced in the mirror and noticed that my face was also pink, not from the warmth of the room but from feeding. Jure had a good thing going here with his spooky castle and his vampire vacation package. How often does a dinner pay to be eaten?

I thought of the jolly accommodating Mrs. Wainright and her family. Centuries of having a vampire overlord had bred servants born to serve the Vampire master. Not a bad thing judging from the excellent care I had received in the kitchen. I was sure Jure compensated Mrs. Wainright handsomely too. A vampire couldn't afford disgruntled human employees. A human with a grudge and a stake could end it all for an immortal.

Linda put down her brush, considering how much to tell me about her private concerns.

"Yes, as a matter of fact I have spoken to a few doctors about it. They suggested freezing some of my eggs if I decide to Turn. Then I could use a surrogate mother to carry the child when I chose. Of course that wouldn't fix the problem if the father was also Vampire ..." she stopped talking.

Then she went on. "You don't think our friend would .." she was shaking her head no and didn't finish her sentence, knowing that anything she disclosed might be overheard by any vampire nearby.

By "our friend" I knew she meant Anna Hita. Although Anna Hita had glamoured us all to forget that we knew she could time travel to nearby dimensions, Charlaine, wearing a magic garnet ring, hadn't been glamoured at all and had told us later on what happened. We all knew how the girls had come into being but we were totally committed to keeping Anna Hita's secret.

"I don't know anything about freezing eggs. Is it successful?" I asked, directing the conversation away from the top secret stuff. We could discuss that back home in our tunnel where we were sure not to be overheard.

"Only about 35% at best," she said sadly. "That's not too good is it?"

"It's better than nothing. And not every woman wants to have children. Some want to adopt ..."

She interrupted. "Not me, I want to have at least three children, maybe more. But I also want ..." Again she stopped, aware we might be overheard. Her eyes flickered towards the door.

"Anywhoooo ....," she said in a much louder and more cheerful voice, standing up and picking up her hand bag and fancy coat, "We better get you and Daddy back down the mountain to the town. Wouldn't want the sun to catch you out in the open."

"Perish the thought!" I said with an overly dramatic shudder to also lighten the mood, linking my arm through hers.

As we walked back towards the staircase something in one of the rooms caught my eye. On the wall of one of the sitting rooms was another portrait of Jure in vintage clothes. With him was a blond woman. She was wearing the same dress Linda had tried on tonight.

For some intuitive reason I didn't mention this to Linda and we swept down the grand staircase to rejoin the men.
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more to come .....(Good weekend everyone! So glad you could visit, hope all your cares are melting away like the last snow. I give each of you a big beautiful bouquet of my happiest thoughts and wishes.)

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32 - Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman Look to the Future - Part Two

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Chapter Thirty Two

Linda and I went from bedroom to bedroom, punctuated by the occasional sitting room, modern bathroom and wardrobe room. Linda exclaimed at and touched the ancient items, something she never would have been allowed to do in a museum. I thought that if she married Jure then all these beautiful relics of the past could be hers too.

Her childlike wonder and delight touched my heart. She might be a grown woman in the eyes of the world but to me she was still my cherished child.

He better not hurt her, I thought savagely. I'll rip out his heart with my bare hands if he does. I wanted to protect her from every harm, every heart break - even though I knew that would not be possible. She had to grow and learn just as I had to.

I couldn't smother her but I could threaten Jure to use extreme care in his dealings with my child. Would he just laugh at my threats? I was so much weaker than he was, yet I had Mama power behind me. Never underestimate Mama power.

Myrna proudly took us from room to room, pointing out a four poster bed Anne of Austria used, a rug seized during the Polish-Ottoman War, a painting of Jure in a ruffled collar by Frans Pourbus the younger and much more. To learn about the belongings in the castle was to learn European history, a living lesson on the past.

Not a bad way to enlarge your knowledge of the world, better than a book, really. As I had learned from Eric, hearing about these events from someone that was actually there at the time brought the past to life in a way that no mere history book could.

All the furnishings and fabrics were splendid. Everything was spotlessly clean and fresh as if a crowd of esteemed guests were expected at any moment. It would have made a nice hotel if anyone could be found that was willing to stay in the castle of active vampires.

In the wardrobe room antique clothes hung on padded satin hangers in ten foot high armoires. I could see that Linda was wanting to try some of the outfits on. She took down a diaphanous blue gown studded around the neckline and down the full sleeves with tiny gold beads, each one laboriously sewn on by hand with delicate barely visible stitches. The dress came with a tall pointed hat, filmy veil and jeweled belt. The stones in the belt looked like real gems, not glass.

"The belt is worn here," Myrna said, indicating her ribs just under her bosom. "Would you like to try it on? I assure you it is clean."

Ogneslav was already shuffling out of the room to give us womenfolk privacy for such talk. He was taking the lantern with him but he flicked on a light switch hidden behind a small tapestry on the way out. The castle had electric lights, so why all the candles and lanterns?

Linda looked at me to get my reaction to the idea.

"That's fine with me. Are you sure you won't be too cold?" I asked, noticing the dressing room was unheated.

I wanted to make sure Linda didn't catch a chill. I was glad she had kept her thick fake fur coat on.

"Ah, yes! How thoughtless of me. I can quickly warm this room," Myrna said in her female version of Dracula's accent. She pulled aside a teal blue velvet brocade drapery to reveal a shiny new modern radiator attached to the wall.

She pushed a few buttons and electric heat glowed from the coils. Myrna affixed the drape off to the side so it wouldn't catch fire. They had the modern conveniences, why didn't they use them? Maybe they all liked living like it was the sixteen hundreds.

We're gonna party like it's 1599?

My stomach rumbled and sent a stab of sharp pain through my innards. Suddenly I could hear Linda's heart beat and see the vein in her long neck. I felt a moment of panic. Surely I would never attack my own daughter, no matter how many hunger pangs I felt.

Surely ...

A soft knock sounded on the door. Myrna opened it and Eric entered the room. He looked only at me. I could feel the waves of concern coming from him. A more attentive Maker no one could wish for.

"Please come with me now," he said calmly, holding out his hand.

I took his hand and walked out with him, saying to Linda on my way, "I should be back soon. I'm eager to see how you look in those clothes."

Eric spoke to me as we descended a back staircase, "I hope you do not mind using the servant's passage, it is the fastest way to get where we are going."

"Where are we going?" I asked.

"To the kitchen to get you some food," he replied as if that should be obvious.

"Great," I said. That would make perfect sense if I was still human.

Then I asked, "Would it have been possible for me to have gone after Linda if I was hungry enough?"

Eric stopped and turned to me, his expression grave. "It is better not to ask such questions. My job is to make sure you never get that hungry."

I supposed that was an answer of sorts, not the one I wanted however.

"What did you and Jure talk about?" I asked, my mind mostly focused on how hungry I was getting. It just kept escalating.

"Nothing of consequence," he replied casually.

We came to a rough hewn wood door and opened it to the largest kitchen I ever saw in my life. You could prepare a meal for hundreds of people in this kitchen. In the center of the kitchen was the biggest kitchen table ever. There were twenty old fashioned wooden chairs on each side of the long rectangular table.

Three stout human women varying in age from twenty to sixty sat at the table. With their matching cherubic faces and short curly hair they might have been three generations from the same family. They nodded to Eric and me as we entered. The sight of vampires didn't alarm them. They wore crisp blue uniforms with white aprons.

The room had all the modern conveniences, done in a way to fit in with the castle decor. The tiles, while new, were somehow artfully chipped and aged to make them look like ancient used tiles. The wooden table top was distressed in an antique looking way. The painted chairs had been rubbed on the edges to give them the look of worn heirlooms. The overhead electric lamps were ones that might have held candles back in the day. All in all, a very pleasing and useful room.

Useful, that is, if this wasn't a home full of vampires. Whatever would all the vampires that lived here do with all this cooking equipment? The puzzlement must have shown on my face.

The oldest of the three women stood and came up to me. " 'Ere now dearie, sit a' the table and take your pick," she said with a motherly smile. She had the kind of British accent I thought of as Cockney.

I looked at Eric and he gave me a slight nod of approval.

I sat at the head of the table and the woman opened a wireless Toshiba laptop computer, something that seemed shockingly modern in this throwback to the past kitchen. She turned it on and placed it in front of me. Heck, they even had Wi-Fi!

She tapped a few keys and photos of eleven humans appeared. I was immediately drawn to a man that reminded me of Sam Merlotte, my old employer. He had the same crinkly kind eyes and halo of reddish blond hair Sam had.

"Do any of these draw your eye?" the woman asked.

"Him," I said, not sure what I was saying. I popped into her mind.

While she asked the youngest woman, her grand daughter Eliza, to go fetch Mr. Dingle, I found out that these people on the screen were paying guests at the castle. The west wing was used as a vampire Bed and Breakfast. It was funny, I had thought that the castle might make a good hotel, now I saw part of it was just that.

The castle supplied the beds but the guests provided the breakfast. The guests were on a vampire vacation, waiting and hoping to be picked as a donor. They were treated to lavish meals, activities like hiking, sightseeing and horseback riding, but the main attraction was the chance to be glamoured and bitten by a real vampire.

"She better have two, Mrs. Wainright. She is still young," Eric informed the woman.

Eliza paused in the doorway, awaiting my second choice.

"O' course, o' course. Who else do you fancy, dearie?" she asked me, hovering over my shoulder as I picked. She smelled mouth wateringly good, like fresh baked bread slathered with butter and cinnamon. Maybe I would fancy Mrs. Wainright if I didn't get someone to eat pretty soon.

"Him, " I said, pointing out the young goth guy next to Mr. Dingle. It didn't matter, I needed to eat right now!

"I will get them," Eric said. He was off in a flash.

Before I could worry about being left alone with the delectable Mrs. Wainright, her juicy daughter Mrs. Croft and her scrumptious grand daughter, the lovely Eliza, Eric was back, a struggling human man tucked under each arm.

He dropped them at my feet. They weren't glamoured so they were cowering and complaining. The goth guy was speaking in what sounded like German. He wore only red thong underpants and black socks. Mercifully Mr. Dingle was still fully clothed.

I was so famished I didn't care about their objections or their wardrobe. I glamoured the both of them at once and pounced on Mr. Dingle. Despite his unfortunate name he was delicious. He had dined on venison tonight, it gave his blood an extra good hearty flavor. Holz, the goth guy, sat there dazed while I fed on Mr. D, then it was his turn.

Holz had been smoking pot and it too made its way into his blood stream. I didn't get high but I felt mighty mellow by the time I was done feeding. Maybe it was just the effect of being full.

Mrs. Wainright, wetting a cloth at one of the sinks, chortled happily to Eric. "Oh my, she were a hungry one, weren't she?"

She spoke as if she was talking about a baby, which, in a weird way, I guess I was.

Beaming affectionately she came over to me and gently wiped my chin and cheeks with a warm damp wash cloth, saying, "It wouldn't do to mess that fancy outfit."

Then she said, "Now set them right and we'll take them back."

Set them right?

As my red haze parted like a fog, I could think again. I supposed she meant to heal their bite marks, something I had forgotten once again to attend to. I did that. I was glad to see my new vampire blood worked as well as Eric's to fix the rather jagged holes I had made. I knew I would be more precise in my fangwork once I wasn't so darn hungry at the beginning.

"And the lovely thoughts?" she hinted.

"Lovely thoughts?" I asked Eric.

"Yes, part of their deal is a very exciting encounter with a vampire. Send them a suggestion that they just had the greatest erotic vampire experience of their lives. They will supply the details and remember whatever their fondest desire was. It is both courteous and useful to fill their minds with a positive experience," he informed me.

I could see how a sexy memory would be preferable to remembering being snatched up in the dead of night by a giant vampire Viking and plopped on the floor like roadkill in front of his bloodthirsty mate. Still, it was kind of unsettling thinking about these guys picturing being intimate with me.

Using glamour and telepathy I sent them a memory but instead of me I substituted the mental image of a vampire version of Debbie Pelt. She was long gone and it amused me to have them thinking of cavorting with her instead of me.

They were led away by the fair Eliza with dazed happy smiles on their faces, the dream of fantastic vampire sex playing like a movie in their minds. When the glamour wore off they would remember me, or I should say Debbie, very very fondly.

I'm glad somebody would.
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more to come ......(Happy Wednesday Women of Wonderful, so happy to have you here. Happy Birthday and Valentine's day. Every day is like Valentine's Day for me with you here, our merry band of fanpires.

I was thinking how much better this is than just writing something and never getting to interact with the readers. Plus you get to meet each other too. This is beyond special!)

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31 - Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman Look to the Future - Part Two

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Chapter Thirty One

I hiked my dress up to run faster but Eric had other plans. He gathered me in his arms and flew, over the tree tops, over Jure streaking through the night with Linda, through the glowing magical sky to a large square castle with four tall square towers at the corners.

The massive gray granite structure was made of big hand hewn square stones fashioned and shaped so expertly that you couldn't have slipped a playing card between them. The architect was obviously a big fan of squares, maybe playing with wooden blocks as a boy had been his inspiration.

I laughed with the sheer joy of this unexpected flight, this perfect moment shared with the husband of my blood. He laughed because I laughed. My happiness was his own happiness. This was not just our blood bond, it was the bond of any two people that love each other from the bottom of their hearts, whether those hearts beat or not.

Lights showed in a few of the narrow castle windows as we zoomed up the side of one of the towers, coming to light on the floor inside the crenelated wall surrounding the top of the tower. Oddly, there was a modern aluminum patio set complete with folded sun umbrella set up on the tower roof as if this was a recreation area, not the pinnacle of a mighty ancient fortress.

Eric set me down and kissed me passionately, the night sky seeming to spin and sing out in a crescendo of heavenly music over top of us. I felt one with the universe and one with Eric. I was as large as the night that surrounded us.

Once I smoothed my hair and calmed down we went into the castle through an unlocked tower door made of planks so massive and thick they must have cut been from trees the size of redwoods. We went winding down, down, down narrow stone steps, worn lower in the center from the pounding of countless feet, to the main floor. I could imagine soldiers rushing up the steps to defend the castle from the top of the tower.

Eric knocked at the normal sized modern door at the foot of the steps. Jure opened it wide, a crooked Elvis Presley smile curving half his mouth, sinister Jure's attempt to look warm and welcoming. His dark bottomless eyes did not smile however, they looked calculating, as if he was assessing the risk to himself from a vampire that could fly and land on his turret roof.

I thought everyone knew Eric could fly but apparently Jure hadn't known until this moment. Vampires didn't like surprises. Like humans, the older they were the less they wanted things to change.

"Come in, come in, welcome to Castle Crna Boja," he said grandly in his deep booming voice. It echoed off the stone walls and into the vast space of the castle great room. Linda stood a ways behind him in the flickering light of the fireplace, pushing back her hood, unbuttoning her beautiful faux fur coat but leaving it on.

He gestured us into the large room heated and illuminated with a gigantic field stone fireplace. An entire elk could have been roasted on a spit in that fireplace with room to boil several large cauldrons on the sides. A big pile of twig kindling under huge logs blazed and crackled but the logs themselves were hardly charred. The fire must have been laid already but only lit when Jure and Linda arrived.

On the wall around the fireplace were mounted heads of exotic looking deer, longhorn sheep, moose, mountain goats, elk and boar. Rows of antlers and horns of every size and configuration surrounded the stuffed heads. A complete enormous black bear was stuffed and posed standing in a fighting stance in the corner. Animal skin rugs lay on top of the oriental rugs that covered the uneven stone floor.

"Adele better not see this," Linda said, walking the length of the room, looking around frowning.

"Did you murder all these animals?" she whirled and asked Jure accusingly.

"Me?" he replied, startled. "No, I do not hunt ... animals."

He brushed off his already immaculate suit lapels as if even a single animal hair would despoil him. Was he really so fussy and fastidious or was this all a pose?

I took his answer to mean he only hunted people but Linda didn't pick up on that. I hunted people now too, so who was I to talk?

"Then who shot all these poor creatures?" Linda asked, going over to stroke the bear's fur.

"Xorvat and his human clan have lived here for generations. They have hunting rights on my property. Ljovisna Vuk is my game warden. His father was a famous taxidermatist. I imagine he mounted most of these specimens," Jure told her, looking around as if she had just drawn his attention to the carnage displayed on the walls and in the hand blown glass and wood cases around the room. Some of the stuffed animals were so strange and unfamiliar to me they might have been extinct by now.

"You must understand, I rarely visit this castle. I own it, but it has never been my residence," he went on smoothly and soothingly. "Come, sit by the fire. Try the wine from my vineyard, it is from heirloom vines cultivated since the Greeks were in the area."

I figured it had been a looong time since the Greeks were here. I made a mental note to look it up on Google.

He led Linda to a tall wing back chair upholstered in needlepoint so old and threadbare the pattern was all blended into a dull orangy tan. With a flourish he uncorked a squat bottle of red wine and waved the cork under Linda's nose. I ventured a sniff and found the scent to be intoxicating and rich. He poured her a big stemmed crystal glass of wine and watched while she took a sip.

She smiled and said, "Very good. I don't have a trained palate but I know what I like. This is wonderful."

"I will see you are sent a case once we return to the New World," Jure said importantly.

She looked at each of us standing around watching her drink the wine, then she scanned the heads and horns and antlers on the wall. The fire cracked loudly and she jumped. The burning logs shifted and spewed a big puff of acrid smoke into the room. It floated up to the high vaulted ceiling beams where it was lost in the darkness. From her point of view this must all seem sort of creepy. Jure picked up on that.

"Perhaps you and your mother might enjoy exploring the bedrooms. There are some remarkable pieces of furniture upstairs, as well as textiles dating from the sixteen hundreds. Ogneslav will show you the way," Jure said, taking the glass from Linda's hand and waiting until she stood to indicate the vampire standing behind us in the shadows by the grand staircase. We vampires could see him but to Linda's eyes he would appear as just a dark shape.

Ogneslav was holding a lantern set on low. He turned up the flame so Linda could see him clearly. He had been born with several defects including a hunched back and one eye inches lower than the other. His smile revealed large oddly placed teeth. He wore a puffy sleeved white shirt, black vest and full black cloth pants gathered at the ankles. His shoes were made of felted fur and hand sewn with elaborate red wool embroidery stitching.

Vampires usually didn't Turn anyone that wasn't fit and attractive. Yet someone had decided that this man was worthy of being Vampire and Jure kept him on here in the castle. This made Ogneslav a special person.

"Come," he said in a sonorous voice, waving us towards him. "My wife will light the upstairs as we tour."

His English was really English, meaning he had a lovely cultured British accent.

Linda and I followed Ogneslav up the wide marble staircase. He had a pronounced limp. I saw the compassion on Linda's sweet face as she watched how difficult it was for him to get up the stairs. Even becoming vampire wouldn't straighten out his twisted leg. Still, he seemed happy.

In the near dark the staircase and upper floor looked spooky. If the massive chandeliers had been lit it would have looked like a palace fit for a grand ball. Every rung of the gilded banister was a different figure of a lithe graceful woman, perhaps a mythical goddess, in a one shouldered floor length gown. The stairs curved around until we saw the upper landing.

Standing at the top of the stairs was an astonishingly beautiful woman. Her wavy dark brown hair reached almost to her ankles, her face oval and perfectly proportioned. Her full skirted dress was white lace with an embroidered decorative flowered apron tied around her slender waist. Her pale face was radiant with love for her husband, she touched his arm as he reached the top, a feather light touch but one full of affection. Her hands were tattooed in a delicate lacy pattern, even down her slim fingers.

He smiled at her and said, "Lead the way, my dear."

Then he turned to us and said, "This is my wife, Myrna."

Myrna nodded to us and went to a large ten candle candelabra on an ancient sideboard. One by one she lit the candles until Linda could see far down hallway. It was filled with things you would only come across in a museum.

"Oh wow," Linda breathed, dashing on ahead.

She stopped at a dark wood dresser carved like a castle with the taller rear turrets holding up a mirror so tarnished with age she looked like a ghost in its reflection. The pulls were miniature brass door knockers in the shape of lion's heads. Linda ran her hands over the carved surfaces. I noticed there was no dust on the furniture.

"It must be quite a job to keep all this cleaned," I remarked to Myrna. Once a housewife, always a housewife.

She smiled and shrugged. "Many hands make light work," she said, her voice young and musical. Her accent was more regional, like that of Jure or Count Dracula.

Many hands? How much help could a nest of vampires have here in a country that permitted, even rewarded, the staking of the undead? How many vampires lived here in Jure's castle? I tried to use my sense of smell to detect the presence of others, human, vampire or whatever but my sense of smell was blocked by an unusual fragrance.

"What is that I'm smelling?" I asked Myrna.

"Wolves-bane, a particular climbing strain that grows only here. See?" she asked, going to a slit of a leaded paned window in the foot thick stone wall and opening it to the moonlight.

All around the window a green vine with purple flowers rustled in the breeze. The smell got much stronger, too strong in fact. I put my hand in front of my nose to block it but Myrna was already pulling the narrow window shut on squealing hand hammered iron hinges. I tried to remember not to breath. Old habits die hard.

"It is a bit much at night, I try to keep these windows closed," she said, latching the iron bolt with a sound like a rifle shot.

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more to come ...... (Happy Saturday Lovely Ladies! So glad to hear you could make it here and some of you had a chance to post a comment. This is evolving into something much better than just a blog about vampires isn't it? Something wonderful this way comes .... hugs and well wishes to you. See you Wednesday back at the castle ....)

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30 - Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman Look to the Future - Part Two

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Chapter Thirty

The two vampire guards that accompanied Jure and Linda could have been Jure's distant cousins. They too had those heavy brows, the slightly oriental slant to their dark unreadable eyes and the high cheekbones that spoke of noble ancestry. They were tall, but didn't match Jure's height of six foot six. They wore matching dark teal hotel jackets bearing patches indicating they were "Annex Security".

After the guards were assured these were welcome guests they left with very respectful nods. They were both much younger than either Eric or Jure and I could tell they were a little star struck at being in the presence of such ancient vampires. They barely glanced at me. Somehow vampires were able to sense which of their kindred were the oldest. I was even able to do it.

Linda rushed over to me and hugged me tightly, her clear blue eyes glittering with happiness. Jure nodded at me, stared at me without expression for a long second, then looked away. Did the sight of me Turned vampire repel him or attract him?

"You did it! I didn't believe you would go through with it but you did! You look absolutely beautiful!" Linda gushed.

As I held her I could tell she had recently been intimate with Jure and that she was in the fertile stage of her cycle. TMI - too much information, but I couldn't help it. I never entered her mind but my vampire senses just picked this information up. I tried to increase my sensory filters, Linda had a right to her privacy.

"Thank you, my darling daughter, you look as pretty as a picture yourself," I said, holding her at arm's length to get a good look at her.

Linda then turned to hug her father and kiss him on the cheek. Their hair was the exact same color, evidence that Eric was her biological father. I hoped no one else found out the truth.

Jure pretended to examine the room, never looking in my direction. I could feel a faint buzzing traveling over every inch of my body, but when I looked at my Maker to see what Eric was trying to convey I could tell he was fully engaged in greeting his daughter and was not trying to "text" me with his vampire mojo.

That left Jure. I looked at him with suspicious narrowed eyes and the buzzing suddenly stopped.

Ha! Gotcha! I thought smugly. He was no longer able to slip into my mind at will. Either my magic ring or my new Vampire status was blocking him. I gave him a slow superior smile.

Linda wore the type of clinging red dress Jure loved, her long wavy blond hair piled on her head in an elaborate style, making her neck look especially long, slender and vulnerable. I could see the pale blue veins just under the tender skin, I could hear her heart beating.

Did she know this would draw a vampire's eye or was it just a style she chose to go with the dress? Her neck was unblemished. Of course no sign of feeding would remain if she allowed Jure to take blood from her. It would be the greatest indication of disrespect to allow her to walk around with unhealed bite marks. In this country it might even be punishable by law.

I wanted to talk to her about Queen Trinity's sterility problem but not in front of the men. I would wait for a moment to get Linda alone to tell her. She was so happy with Jure, I didn't want to sully that, however, I wanted her to take all her options into consideration before making any permanent decisions. Queen Trinity's dissatisfaction with her choice might serve as a cautionary tale.

I noticed that there didn't seem to be any tension between Jure and Eric. On the contrary, they made polite little nods to each other and Jure inquired about the trip here, standing to avoid having me in his line of sight.

When Eric asked about their arrival in Zagreb, Linda answered with enthusiasm. She was so excited to be traveling and seeing all the sights. She was also delighted to be with Jure, a vampire she had crushed on since she was a teen.

She told us about her trip up the Sava River from the Danube on Jure's fabulous yacht. Tonight Jure was taking us to one of his castles. We went out into the beautiful crisply cold star lit night to find an old fashioned carriage pulled by two matching black horses waiting for us.

Steam puffed from their flaring nostrils as we approached but they didn't act up. Obviously they were used to the presence of vampires. In many cases horses would rear and bolt at our presence.

The beautifully crafted black enameled carriage had an enclosed cab for the passengers. The driver rode in the open way up near the roof on a rickety looking bench. It looked like something out of an old movie, an antique vehicle that suited Jure's mystique. The horses had tall plumed black feather head dresses and shields for their eyes to prevent them from looking to the side. I wondered why that was necessary.

The driver, a cadaverous, stooped, elderly vampire was dressed in a fancy pin striped suit from a previous century. The suit was so dusty and streaked with soil he might have climbed right out of the grave to attend to Jure's transportation tonight. The carriage had two polished brass lamps which the driver lit with long matches. I could smell the sulpher in the matches and the lamp oil as it ignited.

Jure wore a charcoal grey suit, perfectly custom cut to show off his massive chest and arm muscles and small waist. He also had on several pieces of expensive jewelry, matching green sapphires that glittered and glowed. Linda wore impressive ruby and diamond earrings, ones I had never seen before. A gift from Jure? Probably.

No doubt about it, Jure had it all when it came to a suitor - wealth, charm, sophistication and drop dead good looks. But could he be trusted with my daughter's happiness, her future? She seemed so much more fragile to me now that I was Vampire. Her very breath and heartbeat indicated to me how easy it would be to snuff out her little flame of human life.

I mentally stopped myself. I was making myself worried and fearful on what was a happy social occasion. I held Linda's hand for a moment, marveling at the intense heat that radiated from her skin, then we all boarded the carriage.

The driver climbed onto his high perch and picked up the reins. With a hoarsely shouted command and a mighty clatter of hooves on pavement we took off hurtling through the night. The carriage went very fast, as if we were being pursued, though no one was behind us.

Soon we were outside the city limits and slowed down to climb a steep trail up the Medvednica mountain, as Jure informed us. It was good the driver was vampire because the woods were almost completely dark to human eyes, the antique oil lamps doing little to light the way. I could smell the beech and pine trees that towered over the rough road and the wild deer and boars in the forest. An owl hooted, another owl answered, and the first owl hooted back. They could probably go on like that all night.

Linda bounced in her seat, giggled and clung to Jure's thick arm as the carriage hopped and swung over the rugged terrain. A very old stone wall appeared on our right, we branched off and followed the crude trail that ran along side the wall until we came to a ruin. Here the carriage stopped.

The driver climbed down from his seat and held the bridles of the brace of horses. He also extinguished the lamps, perhaps to avoid drawing attention to our location.

"It's pitch black, I can't see my hand in front of my face," Linda laughed when the carriage lamps were snuffed out. I could see her hold her hand up, blinking to try and see. She was the only human here and to her it appeared utterly dark. She shivered a little in the cold. I could see her little silvery plumes of breath.

Eric and Jure got out first, then Jure helped Linda and Eric helped me down from the carriage. I didn't need help but I didn't want to draw attention to my enhanced strength in front of Linda. She would need time to adjust to my new status.

Jure buttoned Linda's fake Arctic fox fur coat all the way to the large hooded collar. It was a beautiful coat, one she hadn't owned back in Shreveport. He held Linda's hand.

Adele didn't approve of fur coats, not even fake fur. She said it still showed a callous disregard for the life of animals, something mostly-vegan Linda obviously didn't agree with. As long as Adele didn't see the coat Linda could enjoy it. I wondered if it too was a gift from Jure.

"This is the Medvedgrad fortress," Jure said, indicating the ancient crumbling stone building, looking everywhere but at me. "My castle is just a few miles away. We will leave the carriage here so the horses may go into the barn, be tended to and stay warm. Xorvat will stay with them and see they are cared for."

The elderly Xorvat gave us a nod to assure us the horses would be well cared for. I supposed we were going to need them to get back to the hotel. I hadn't planned on staying in Jure's castle during the following day. I was still pretty paranoid about my safety during daylight hours. I wanted a safe room in a modern building that catered to vampire concerns. And my own armed guards. I trusted only the Bishop brothers to guard me and Eric as we slept.

With one gesture Jure scooped up the laughing Linda up and took off into the night at a run. Eric and I high tailed it after him.

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more to come .....(Greetings Fanpires! Thank you, thank you, thank you for stopping by! As I was looking out at the full moon this morning - I get up very early - I saw a shooting star and I made a wish that all your challenges will have the very best outcome and that you will be happy. Hugs and healing to you and those you care about. See you Saturday!)

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