Saturday, December 29, 2012

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

Chapter One Hundred and Twenty Three

The 'vette's headlights revealed to Linda what my vampire eyesight had seen before we even pulled into the apartment parking lot. Lingza and Taryn were walking the three D's, Linda's fancy poodles, back a ways from the edge of the lot, past the manicured grassy area near the wild scrub and trees.

The poodles were from show dog stock. One was peach, one was black and one was white. They were all freshly groomed in their poofy cuts and had three different colored ribbons on their topknots. Their nylon harnesses matched their ribbons. Adele would never have allowed a dog in our family to wear a collar except to hold their tags.

When the three D's saw their mommy get out of the car they wagged like crazy and pulled hard on their leashes, like a dog sled  team.  Lingza pretended, in a stumbling exaggerated way,  to be towed over to her by the dogs, making Taryn laugh.

Lingza continued to make progress in all areas of his recovery from being sealed in an underground cave for a very long time. His sense of humor had developed and he could speak much more clearly now.

He even understood why the sight of three prancing poodles being walked by a bad-looking gang banger, the disguise Taryn had perfected for him to conceal his otherness, would provoke amusement. He scowled at anyone that looked at him, a glare scary enough to discourage scrutiny.

In the beginning I hadn't known how much of his stunted development had been due to his skeletal dehydration and how much was due to the fact that he was a Neanderthal. Time had revealed that a Neanderthal was very much like a modern human.

Lingza had the added bonus of being able to walk in the daytime and eat fruit and sweets in addition to blood. He had been studied extensively by the research center without the learned scientists discovering the secret of his enviable ability to be out in daylight without bursting into flame.

"Wow, that's some rock!" Taryn exclaimed, instantly at Linda's side, reaching for the hand sporting the engagement ring. Faster than even my super sight could see, she disappeared into the night.

"Where'd she go?" Linda asked, looking around with a startled expression.

Lingza immediately took off into the night, dropping the leashes. Linda quickly picked them up, though the dogs weren't planning on leaving Linda's side.

"I have no idea," I said, looking as far into the night as I could.

While the dogs sniffed around Linda's feet we waited. In a few minutes I saw Taryn and Lingza coming back together at vampire warp speed.

"Here they come," I told Linda, knowing she wouldn't be able to see them yet.

When they got back I saw that Taryn was wet around the edges and had several kinds of aquatic plants trailing from her overalls.

"What happened, where did you go?" Linda asked as the poodles smelled Taryn's damp pant legs with great interest, their tails wagging like crazy.

"I was in Bossier City," Taryn said, brushing some of the plant material out of her hair.

"Across the river? Why did you suddenly go there?" I asked. I realized she must have traveled through the river water to pick up the plants.

"I have no idea! I was whisked away and found myself standing in downtown Bossier City, dripping wet."

Linda plucked a leafy frond from Taryn's shoulder strap. "What is this stuff?"

Taryn looked at it more closely. "Grass carp. I also have some of that damn parrot feather. That's an invasive plant imported from the Amazon," she explained to Linda.

"She has a protective spell," Lingza said to his girlfriend. "You must not startle her."

"How do you know that?" I asked.

"I can see the golden flecks in her aura. If they are disturbed the spell is activated," he said.

His diction, vocabulary and comprehension were now par with anyone's. His features were still obviously Neanderthal and were not not completely disguised by the purple bandanna tied low on his jutting brow.

"You can see auras?" Linda asked, impressed. "Far out!"

I wondered what my aura looked like. Did it have gold sparkles too?

"Let's go inside so I can change," Taryn suggested. "I smell like a swamp."

She was right, she did smell pretty bad. The muck in the river was loaded with icky deposits. I was glad she was good-natured about being flung off into the night like that. Now I would know to warn everyone against sudden moves.

When we got inside the apartment building Taryn and Lingza went to their apartment so Taryn could shower, shampoo, change and launder her clothes. Linda, the poodles, and I went to Linda's place.

"Would you like some True Blood?" she asked me after hanging up her coat.

"No, I'm good," I answered, still thinking about our protective spell.

I had been able to hold Linda's hand and hug her. Eric had kissed her cheek. The spell must only react to certain movements, not any attempt to touch Linda. That was good, otherwise it would put quite a damper on Linda's love life.

Linda made the dogs their dinner and herself a cup of tea. She turned on the lamp behind the couch and turned her hand this way and that, admiring the light reflected from her ring.

"I can see you like the ring," I said to her, "Do you like the man that proposed to you as much?" I said it in a fun way so she wouldn't feel like I was interrogating her.

Her eyes opened wide. "Oh yeah. Jure's all that and a bag of chips! When I'm with him the whole world seems to melt away and it's just us two. He pays attention to me, you know what I mean? Like, he seems interested in everything I say, everything I do. Anything that concerns me concerns him, no matter how trivial. It's like we're one person when we're together."

I did know exactly what she meant. Eric was the same way. He had immersed himself in my human life and had wanted every drop of my human experience. I enjoyed the close scrutiny, his interest in a new shade of nail polish, if my polish matched my coat, or even if I nicked myself shaving my legs. It was the kind of intimacy you couldn't get with a human man.

Like every human, many self concerns crowded into their minds so only a portion could be devoted to the relationship. Sometimes that portion was almost non-existent. With Eric it was different. He thought only of me when we were together.

With a very old vampire it was the human experience that interested them. They sopped up every drop of it like gravy on a plate. It was delicious to them. I had been afraid my Turning would make me less interesting to Eric but that had not been the case. Our closeness was based on a bond of shared abilities, interests and staying and playing in love. I hoped the same thing for Linda.

"I know what you mean," I told her. "He has definitely chosen you as his significant other. Have you chosen him too or have you just been swept away by his extravagant courtship?"

Linda gave her answer a little thought. "I chose him years ago but didn't think I ever stood a chance. I love everything about him. If he didn't have a dime I would still love him. He's everything to me. I just need to figure out how I want to proceed. He'll do whatever I want, mostly."

Ah, spoken like a woman in love. I wanted to explore the word "mostly" a bit more but I stopped.

Calmly, in a low voice, I said to her, "Linda, get the poodles right now. Your apartment building is on fire."

I pointed to the smoke coming in under the door.

more to come ..... (Happy year's end everyone! This has been a great year with you and I look forward to 2013. Please stop by when you can, the party can't begin until you're back in the nest. Love and hugs!)


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

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

Chapter One Hundred and Twenty Two

It took Linda a second to focus on my question. Her mind was still spinning with all the new possibilities Anna Hita's offer had opened up for her.

"What? Why aren't I wearing the ring?" she repeated. She seemed to return to the present.

"Oh, that's because I'm scared to wear it. It must be worth a million dollars or something like that. What if robbers broke into the office? What if the stone fell out of the setting? What if I whacked it against something or it accidentally slipped off my finger? The truth is, it makes me nervous. I feel better right now that Daddy is ring-sitting it."

She went on, warming to the topic. "I'll need to get some kind of major safe in my apartment to keep it in. And I think a vampire could pretty much tear open any safe there is. Are there any vampire robbers around? Is there such a thing as a safe room for jewelry?" Her face was tense with worry. "I should ask Daddy."

She added, "I would love to wear it for a few hours."

She sighed, looking down at her ringless hand.

This was no good. The ring shouldn't cause her such anxiety yet I could relate. I have a spectacular diamond tiara and I keep it locked up unless I'm wearing it for Eric. I wouldn't dare to ...

I stopped and realized something. Now that I'm Vampire I could wear it in the seediest neighborhood in Shreveport and not worry about someone snatching it off my head. It might be a good way to lure robbers into my rehabilitation donor project.

Or would that be entrapment?

I knew there was such a thing as an attractive nuisance. Jason had to put a fence around his swimming pool to avoid law suits from neighborhood kids coming into his yard and falling into the pool and getting hurt. Maybe walking around with a diamond tiara on my head would be the same thing? Or would it be like me wearing a nice watch? Where would you draw the line? Another thing to ponder in my chambers. Once I got the chambers, that is.

"I don't even know how I'm going to get the ring back to my place tonight without seeing a robber behind every bush," she finished.

"I could go home with you. You could wear the ring for a while then I could bring it back to my house and put it in the safe with my jewelry. How would that be?" I offered.

Her face lit up. "That would be great! I've been so worried. Jure doesn't realize how dangerous it is for me to be walking around sporting a big flashy rock like that."

She was right. He hadn't thought about that. He had put her in danger without even knowing it. Had he been a vampire for so long he forgot how dangerous it was to be human?

Still, other women walked around in jewelry without fearing for their lives.

I guess it was a matter of degree. And we did supposedly have a protection spell around us, though I had yet to check that out with Amelia. She could tell me if the spell extended to our possessions.

"Can we leave now? Jure said he'd stop by the apartment later. I want him to see me wearing the ring. After he sees me in it you can take to your safe until I figure something out."

We went upstairs to the office and told Eric I was taking Linda back to her apartment. I also told him about our plans for the safety of the ring.

"I see why you are cautious," Eric said, the reality of Linda's predicament dawning on him.  "It is sensible for you to only wear it when you are in the presence of those that can protect you."

Linda laughed and gave him a hug. "You mean like my Mom and Dad? I agree, I need to figure something out."

For being so worldly Jure had made a major miscalculation. He had hoped to impress Linda with the extravagant engagement ring. Instead he made her worried and confused.

That was one of the problems with being a vampire for centuries, you just got so out of touch with humans. I recalled Bill once served the Bon Temps sheriff warm beer in cans so old they were rusted around the rims, wilted carrots in the bag and a box of uncooked pasta he had dumped in a bowl.

Bill had been pleased and proud at being able to offer a human guest something. The sheriff, after a moment's hesitation, had politely pretended to nibble a rubbery carrot and take a sip of the flat cloudy beer to not hurt Bill's feelings.

"Linda wants to go home now. Should I take her or do you want to come too?" I asked Eric. I knew he had things to attend to at the club, I didn't want to rush him.

He threw me the keys to the Vette. "I need to stay and discuss our upcoming charity fundraiser with Pam. Some lucky human is going to win a date with her."

He looked at me meaningfully and our eyes smiled at each other. This annual charity Win-A-Date event was how I had ended up seeing Eric. I had won a date in a raffle for charity, a raffle I hadn't even known I was registered for until Eric called to tell me I won.

"How does Pam feel about that?" I asked, knowing she was fairly intolerant of fangbangers, especially those that worshipped her. She called them "vermin" and had kicked a few until Eric asked her to stop before they got sued.

"She knows it is her turn. We have gone through everyone else," Eric said. Then he looked thoughtful. "Except Jure. Do you think that he .."

Linda headed him off. "No Dad, absolutely not. He hates having to interact with fangbangers. He won't even come to the club unless I beg him.

"Then Pam it is," Eric decided, a wicked little smile on his lips.

He liked giving Pam a hard time occasionally. I think on some level he has never forgiven her for being wild and footloose after he Turned her. Still, they have remained friends over the centuries and occasionally business partners, like now.  That said a lot.

Linda went to get her coat and we left by the back entrance. I noticed how she clutched her purse to her chest.

"You can put that pretty ring on your hand, sweetheart. Mommy's here," I told her.

She looked startled for a moment, then she grinned. She got out the ring and put it on. Even under the dim lights in the back lot the ring shot fire and light. You could probably see it from space.

"You're the best," she told me, giving me a hug.

"You are too," I responded as we buckled ourselves into the Corvette. I put the top up, cranked the heater up to high to keep my little girl warm, and off we went into the beautiful night.

more to come ..... (Howdy Fanpires! Hope you are having a good time at year's end. I am having a wonderful time coming here and visiting with you. See you Saturday, til then, wishes for health and happiness to you.)


Saturday, December 22, 2012

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

Chapter One Hundred and Twenty One

Linda was an orderly person, that was one of the qualities that made her good with numbers. She prioritized her response.

"First of all, I do not appreciate the way you discussed my personal business with Anna Hita. She has no right to know what Jure or I are up to unless we tell you that it's OK. Can we agree on that?" Her Stackhouse blue eyes regarded me steadily but without animosity.

"Yes honey, I knew I had goofed the second the words left my mouth. I won't do it again." I really did need to keep a watchful eye on every word out of my mouth, the stakes were so high, no pun intended.

That mollified her. "However, it did turn out to be some amazingly great goof up." She was smiling as she took my hand. "Somehow whatever you do, no matter how crazy, always turns out pretty good."

Crazy? Well dang, I wouldn't say the things I did were exactly crazy.

"I want to tell Jure about this right away but what about Anna Hita wanting to keep this all hush hush? Is she OK with Jure knowing all about how we three got here? Doesn't that put her in terrible danger from the Founders?"

I had kind of put that aside thinking that Anna Hita would know how to handle things when she made the offer, but was that true? Did I owe it to ask Anna Hita again now that she had a chance to think her offer over? No, I didn't believe so.

As with all older Vampires, she was the very soul of discretion and self preservation. If she decided to make this offer it wasn't on a whim. Vampires her age didn't survive if they were impulsive. Something had happened to make her less cautious about the Founders possible exploitation.

"We can check back with Anna Hita, honey, but I think she knows what she's doing. If she made the offer she already has it all figured out how it's going to work. You might not want to take up her offer once you hear what else I have to tell you."

"There's more?" she asked, her heart beating even more rapidly.

I didn't know any gentle way to tell her. The truth was the truth, all the pretty words in the world wouldn't change it.

"I found out from Anna Hita that Jure had been married before," I said,  clasping her hand between both of mine like a mini-hug.

She slumped in relief. "Is that all? Lots of folks have an ex-spouse, that doesn't mean anything to our relationship."

"It shouldn't, however, he has never actually divorced her. She has gone missing but their marriage was never declared over."

"You mean she's Vampire?" Linda asked, starting to grasp the additional entanglement that could imply.

"Yes, Jure Turned her and she rebelled. She ran wild then she ran away. No one knows where she is or if she is even alive. She's been gone for centuries."

 "Then she's not coming back," Linda declared confidently. Then, less surely, "I wonder why he's never mentioned this to me. What else is there about him I don't know?"

She shrugged that off. "Everyone has some baggage from the past. No sense in sacrificing my future happiness on the altar of past mistakes."

Her words triggered off a sudden vision, something that had been swimming around in my subconscious mind since my trip with Eric to the Vampire Cave in Patagonia. It was the place every vampire went at least once in their long lives to leave a message or see the messages left by others of their kind over the ages. It was like Facebook for Vampires and their wall was really a wall.

There had been a rock painting of a vampire that looked remarkably like Jure sacrificing a blond woman that resembled me to a slight degree. I knew Jure was old, though not cave-man old like Lingza. Just because the painting had been on a rock in a cave didn't mean the painting was as old as the stones. I had no idea when the painting was made, who made it, or what it represented.

I needed to know. Maybe Jure was some Bluebeard type psycho that married blond women and then killed them. A serial killer of Jure's age could have left behind dozens of murdered wives. He seemed so quiet. He kept to himself.

Wow, wasn't that what they always said about guys that turned out to be major crazies?

Still, Eric didn't seem to be sending any signals that he believed Jure was a wolf in sheep's clothing. I didn't have time to think about this right now, I needed to pay full attention to Linda.

"Your happiness is all that matters to your father and me, " I told her, adding mentally - and that you don't marry some deranged serial killer.

"I don't know if I'm ready to start a family but it's good to know I have that option. I can't wait to tell Jure. We had planned on using a donor and maybe even a surrogate if I Turned before I was ready to have kids, but now I don't need either one of those."

She sat back and stared, looking into a future that might just have everything she wanted. She smiled and said, "I need to talk to Anna Hita first, I won't rest easy in my mind until I'm sure she isn't going to get into trouble."

Linda, like all my girls, was kind right down to the bone. She wouldn't buy her happiness at someone else's expense.

I had one more thing I needed to know.

"Honey, if you don't mind my asking, why aren't you wearing that ring Jure just gave you?" 

more to come .... (Yippee! The world didn't end! I am glad about that and I am ultra-glad you are with me here and in our little nest. I send health and happiness to each of you as we celebrate our various holidays. Stay hydrated, get enough sleep, and come back on Wednesday. Love you so so much!)


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

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

Chapter One Hundred and Twenty

When Eric and I entered the office, pleased expressions pasted on our faces, Linda had her back to us. I could smell the vapor of frustration coming off  her like a tart perfume. She was was trying to cram some invoices into the chock-full filing cabinets.  The edges of yellowed papers peeked out of the not-able-to-close drawers.

She turned when we entered the room and complained.

"I simply can not get another sheet of paper into this thing! You have invoices going back to the stone age. They need to be weeded out to have only the current accounts up here. You can store the archived ones .." she waved her ringless hand in a brushing away gesture "..  wherever."

"That would be a good idea," Eric said. "While you are sorting them out you can go through the boxes on the couch."

He glanced at the two stacks of grey cardboard boxes. I counted, there were eight boxes, all full to bursting.

"Me?" she protested shrilly. "Me? You have to be kidding! This mess started before I was born! I'm going to need big time help to tackle this project."

She calmed down and thought for a moment. "Ginger is useless .... I could get Katie Marie and Bertha Jewel. I know they're both looking for work."

Katie Marie was Tara and J. B. Durone's adopted daughter. Their marriage hadn't survived but they both loved Katie Marie with all their hearts so they set aside any animosity to provide a harmonious life for their daughter. Bertha Jewel was J.B.'s youngest sister.

"Pam could help at night," Eric offered.

"I don't think so Dad," Linda laughed. "She just about spits nails whenever she has to do any paper work. Mike Malone would be a better choice. His great- nephew has an accounting firm so Mike has helped me out in the past."

"Perhaps we should hire his accounting firm," Eric suggested.

Linda pointed out, "They're in Ireland, I don't think it would be worth shipping them here to sort old invoices. No, I can do it, I'll just need help. Maybe Taryn and Lingza can help at night too. Lingza can carry the sorted boxes to wherever you decide to store them."

Since Taryn and Lingza had become an "item" they were inseparable. Lingza wouldn't be up to sorting files but he would come in handy if anything heavy had to be moved. Of course, with all the vampires around Linda would have her pick of moving personnel. Lingza and Taryn lived in Linda's apartment building. Lingza often took care of Linda's poodles while she was here.

She added, "Once we get this mess sorted out maybe we could redecorate the office. I don't think it's been painted or changed since the Ford administration."

Eric looked around at the shabby office and concurred. "I might redecorate this whole back area. The club profits are good enough."

Linda's eyes lit up. "Could we do it all in an 80's disco theme? You know, mirrored balls, neon lights, psychedelic patterns?"

"I believe the psychedelic theme was from the 1960's, however, we can do whatever suits you, as long as the office area doesn't become more alluring than the club for the patrons," Eric said with a twinkle. He was enjoying his daughter's initiative especially because it meant her continued interest and involvement in her parents and their enterprise.

"Linda, I was hoping for a chance to talk to you privately," I told her.

"In the basement," I added. She knew we couldn't be overheard there.

Linda looked puzzled but agreeable. "Sure, Mom. Want to go now?"

"Yes," I said, butterflies in my stomach at the enormity of what I was going to tell her.

Linda grabbed her purse and said, "Let's go."

Eric said, "I will wait here. You can leave your purse with me if you want." He meant that her ring would be safe under his protective eye.

"Thanks Dad." She set her purse down at his feet. "You won't go out and leave it, right?'

"I will not move from this spot, except to sit at the desk and use the computer," he confirmed.

We left Eric with the purse and headed towards the basement. I saw Pam across the dance floor. She was at the door checking ID's, her huge skirt acting like a fabric turnstile to stop patrons so she could check their credentials and decide if their outfit was steampunk enough to get a free drink voucher.

I quietly said, "Pam". Amid all the pounding music and ambient noise she heard me speak her name, as I knew she would.  She turned to look at me.

I pointed straight down with a questioning look on my face, meaning, "Is is all clear to go to the second basement with Linda?" I didn't want Linda to walk in on some glamoured donors or worse.

Pam smiled and nodded the all clear. Then she turned back to the door, frowning at a group of giggling girls in Granny gowns, maxi skirts and a bridesmaid dress. They were trying to get free drink vouchers but they weren't in proper steampunk attire.

Pam shrugged and gave them vouchers. I guess she was relaxing her rigid standards since I saw people in all sorts of costumes - tuxedos, military jackets, camouflage, ball gowns, a wedding dress and the like. They all had Jack The Ripper cocktails in their hands. Maybe I wasn't the only one that had no idea what steampunk was.

We went through the regular basement to the second basement, the only thing left of an old building that had stood next to Fangtasia. It had been leveled and a paved parking lot covered where it had stood. The basement had not been filled in. Instead it was reinforced, making an underground room without windows.

Eric had waterproofed and soundproofed it. Now it was a cozy place for the in crowd of vampires to bring a donor and feed in peace. It wasn't legal but human laws were not vampire laws. We only had to appear to comply.

After I shut the door I sat down next to Linda. I could still smell the blood of the men I had fed from, though I knew Linda couldn't smell it. The air was exchanged and purified with a hepa filter to make it nice for our human guests.

"Linda, I spoke to Anna Hita tonight. She made you an offer that I think you should know about right away. We were discussing your involvement with Jure.."

She interrupted, her temper flaring up. "You were discussing me?"

"Only in a good way. You know Anna Hita is like a grandmother to you. She cares very much about your happiness. I had mentioned that you were conflicted about Turning because you wanted to have children .."

Her eyes grew wide with indignation but I plowed on with what I wanted to say, "I know I shouldn't have been telling her this but anyway, let me get to what she said. You know how she helped me have Daddy's biological children? How she went back in time and ... anyway .. she helped?"

Linda nodded, a slight frown between her brows. She was trying to process her irritation with my big mouth at the same time she was trying to figure out where I was going with this.

"Well," I said relieved to have finally gotten to the point, "She has offered to do the same thing for you and Jure, if that's what the two of you want."

Linda sat back, her mouth open in surprise. I had managed to shock her speechless.

more to come ..... (Greetings Fanpires! I could not ask for more than your continued presence and your most generously kind and supportive words. Your interest is the bedrock of my desire to keep going. Thank you for making this year so great, looking forward to 2013! When I was a kid I thought we would all have flying cars by now ... instead we have flying vampires. Isn't life strange?)


Saturday, December 15, 2012

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

Chapter One Hundred and Nineteen

I may have been a Vampire but that didn't mean I couldn't do what any female knows to do in that situation. I began jumping up and down, squealing and exclaiming about the ring, her engagement, and her plans for a wedding.

At the mention of the last a little dark cloud poofed from each of us. My dark cloud concerned the missing ex-wife, though actually, legally, she was still his current wife. She might be dead or she might be biding her time for some reason I couldn't imagine.Whatever she was, she presented a possible future obstacle to Linda's happiness.

I knew how much trouble a blast from the past could be from personal experience. I had dealt with Lorena, a crazy Maker, more jealous and possessive than a wife, when Bill was dating me. That hadn't gone well for me, or her. Mostly her.

And I had been forced to kill in self defense a crazy ex-fiancee of Alcide's with similar unfortunate results to Ms. Pelt. I surely hoped this wasn't a case of history repeating itself. I hoped very much that Celandine was well and truly gone.

I was wondering about Linda's dark cloud when Eric expressed our sentiments. "Is there a problem with the wedding?" he asked, sitting down on the squeaky creaky visitor's chair. I sat down on the part of the much-abused leather couch that wasn't holding stacks of banker's boxes containing who-knew-what.

The siren lure of all that donor blood was calling to me but I needed to know what was happening with Linda first.

"We don't have a date set for the wedding, in fact, there may not be an actual wedding. Jure has asked me to become engaged and start a family. If and when I decide to Turn then we will get legally married. A piece of paper doesn't change anything..." she trailed off, her weak argument against marriage was made weaker still by the obvious fact that she didn't even feel that way herself.

"He'll provide for me and our children," she added quickly as if the financial aspect was the crucial thing.

I knew it wasn't. I knew Linda wanted Jure's unconditional love, however she decided to proceed. She had the model of her father and me, she wanted it all. I knew, too, that Jure wasn't going to go that far unless Linda decided to Turn.

Another thought occurred to me. Was this just a stalling tactic for him to avoid coming clean with Linda about his current wife? Would his marriage to Linda present legal problems for him, problems he didn't want to confront? 

Linda needed to know about Celandine. We were going to have to have a talk.

First I needed to eat. My stomach was rumbling loudly in that embarrassing way it did when I was past my meal time.

Eric didn't jump up and down and squeal at Linda's news. Instead he bent down and kissed her cheek. "We are truly happy for you. Jure is a lucky man. Your mother needs to eat, then we will return."

Linda had put the ring on briefly to model it for us. Now she took the ring off, put it back in the box and put the box back in her purse. I wondered why, but not enough to slow me down from getting my meal.

"Come with me," Eric said when we left the office, his face shining in the particular way it did when he was pleased to surprise me.

We went down to the basement, then over to the secret second basement. Standing in the center of the room was Pam. She was wearing a huge hoop skirted grey wool dress with elaborate tucking on the bodice and black velvet trim. Her hair was done up in a bun at her neck. She wore no jewelry or make up. She might have stepped right out of the Civil War era. The dress and multiple petticoats must have weighed twenty pounds.

"Wow Pam, fancy dress," I said. "Is tonight 'War of Northern Aggression Night'?" I asked playfully.

I smelled something familiar though I couldn't place the exact where or when I had smelled it before.

"Steam Valve Coffin is playing tonight," she said, sounding like I should know what she's talking about.

"Can't say I know who that is," I said agreeably. Since the girls moved out I was out of the loop when it came to the latest music, or even the next-to-latest music.

"It's a steampunk band. Anyone wearing the appropriate clothes gets a free Jack the Ripper cocktail. I wore this to demonstrate the full costume. Wearing a floor length mint green taffeta skirt left over from the prom isn't going to qualify," she said sternly. She took her job as Maintainer-of-Order in the club very seriously. No slippage around Pam.

"You look wonderful," she said graciously to me, meaning I looked like a Vampire. "You look hungry too." she added with a twinkle in her eye, looking at Eric.

He gave a nod and she stepped aside. Hidden behind her voluminous skirts was a naked man sitting stiffly in a chair. He had a red Fangtasia bar towel discretely draped over his lap. The man was obviously glamoured into a docile trance. He looked soooo familiar. Who was he ...?

"Spencer Clark Little," Eric filled in the name.

Oh! My first feed. I had fed from him in the room Eric had for us after we brought him inside and showered him. I had caught him abducting a waitress in the parking lot outside the hotel where our room was located. He was on a path towards kidnap and worse. I had glamoured him to change his evil ways. Had it worked?

"Spencer Clark Little," I said to him, concentrating my mind on him, "Have you abducted any women?"

"No, I have Cathleen," he said woodenly. I got the mental image of ropes tying ankles, strange artificial feet, handcuffs ..

"He has a woman?" I asked Pam in alarm. "Did you see her in his room?"

Pam looked at him scornfully, her pale unlipsticked lips curling in disgust. "He has a hideous rubber mannequin, a big life sized doll with anatomically correct features, if you get my meaning. I found it tied to a chair in his room. I left it there. Should I go back and retrive it?" she asked.

"No," Eric told her. "You did well finding him and bringing him here. Now Sookie will eat. Would you pick out a suitable second course from our usual donors and bring him too."

"Certainly," she said, turning to go.

"Pam," I stopped her before she left. "Is there a reason he doesn't have any clothes on?"

"They were filthy rags. I threw them out while he showered," Pam said.

Spencer had a hygiene issue, apparently. She had washed him up the same as we had. It hadn't occurred to her that he might want clothes or that he might be chilly down here in the basement. Maybe she thought I was going to finish him off tonight but I wasn't.

He had transferred over his sick fantasies to a big mail order doll. It wasn't a cure but it made him eligible to keep living. I would check in with him again. And again. As long as he lived I would keep a watchful eye on his conduct.

Eric got my drift and instructed Pam. "Check the lost and found for clothes that would fit him and bring them. We will be sending him home tonight."

Pam nodded and left with much rustling of fabric.

"You think they have pants in the lost and found?" I asked, approaching Mr. Little with my fangs snicked out.

"I know they do. Things get a little wild around here in the wee small hours," Eric said, sitting down on the sofa we had in the room.

He loved to watch me feed and then sample what I had from me. When the second donor came I rounded out my meal, fooled around with Eric, then we went to see Linda. On the way back to the office Eric let Pam know we were done and asked her to send the donors home in cabs.

Pam had found pink and turquoise striped stretch pants, a Hello Kitty tee shirt and a pea green coat with rhinestone buttons for Spencer Clark Little to wear home. Maybe Cathleen could use them afterwards.

"Linda isn't wearing her ring," I mentioned to Eric before we entered the service hall.

"I noticed, perhaps the ring distracts her from her numbers," he suggested.

"Perhaps the ring is meaningless without a wedding date," I suggested.

"That too," he said.

We put on our happy parent faces before we went back in the office.


more to come ...... (Greetings everyone!  Glad to have you come around! Thanks for the delightful companionship of your visit, it means the world to me. See you Wednesday!)


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

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

Chapter One Hundred and Eighteen

I didn't know how to answer Eric when he asked if my phone call with Anna Hita answered all my questions about Jure.

I knew whatever Anna Hita said was just the tip of the iceberg. There was a whole lot more to the big Croat than one phone call could cover. I didn't want to worry Eric about what I might do next.

"Eric, does anything ever answer all my questions?" I joked evasively. "Let's get ready and get to the club. I can't wait to see Linda and tell her what Anna Hita said."

"Just be careful when you are there," Eric warned. "The walls in Fangtasia have ears."

"I will be," I called cheerfully, already on my way to the bedroom to change.

 Now that I had embraced the idea of being a grandmother with Char's little bundle of joy on the way the thought of additional grandchildren in the future made me very happy.

I threw on some long vampirey dress and did my lips in crimson. That was as much as I could manage in my excitement to talk to Linda. I was a real Vampire, I didn't need to raccoon my eyes or wear bat jewelry to play it up.

Just to confirm this assertion I hissed at myself in the mirror, making my lovely fangs pop out and glint menacingly in the lamplight. Oh heck yeah, I was Vampire Woman enough for anyone. Hear me roar.

I winked at my reflection.  "Looking good Sookie Stackhouse, looking good," I told myself as I turned off the light.

Eric had put on a "Creature from the Black Lagoon" tee shirt and he was ready to leave too. The Creature had actually been moved from the Black Lagoon to another location after Adele discovered industrial waste pollution in the Black Lagoon was making him sick. Now I guess he would be called "The Creature from Some Nameless Lagoon fed by a Small Tributary of the Amazon River".

It didn't have the same ring to it.

I gave Adele a quick call while Eric fired up the Corvette and brought it around. Adele wanted to complain about Linda leaving Fangtasia with Jure but I didn't have either the time or the inclination to hear it. I thought about the squawk she would make when she found out she was going to be the aunt to Jure's children.

 If that happened ... I sternly cautioned myself. I didn't want to go putting the cart before the horse.

 I made sympathy noises and told her I would call her tomorrow night. She was going to talk to Charlaine later, she could fill me in on that too. I couldn't wait til Char was here in this time zone, having her on the other side of the world made it difficult for me to figure out what time it was in New Zealand.

On the ride to the club I asked Eric if he was all right with the things we had learned tonight, especially that Jure might have an ex-wife out there somewhere floating around.

"Jure had an experience similar to mine," Eric said, roaring around a corner at exhilarating speed. I refrained from going "wheeee!"

Eric added darkly, "Pam was not the meek and obedient young woman she had been once I Turned her."

That was an understatement. If there were two words in the English language that would be the opposite of everything Pam was,  they would be "meek" and "obedient". She was respectful of Eric's role as her Maker due to her profound gratitude at being made Vampire, a state she deemed superior to any other life form.

Eric went on. "Every Vampire risks much when they Turn a spouse. There is no way to know what hidden desires lurk in the recesses of a human mind until the Turning takes off the shackles of human limitation."

He looked at me with affection. "I was very lucky with you. Even though you were not under my direct control you were willing to accept direction and stayed loyal to me."

"It was more than luck, Eric!" I protested. "You are the perfect man, an ideal husband in every way."

I silently added "after we had worked out a few glitches in our early days". No sense in bringing up all that Saytanna business. Or him running off with the elf queen which really wasn't his fault. Or his being insistent that he be the one to Turn me. Or his support of a vampire take over until I pointed out that humans had never thrived or been content in captivity.

I wasn't one to dwell on past mistakes. 

"I was the same man back when I Turned Pam yet she exploded out of her conventional life into ... how did Anna Hita phrase it .. into being willful, wild and wanton."

"Pam didn't even really know you, Eric. You bought a pig in a poke when you decided to Turn her based on her looks and her conventional demure human demeanor."

Eric laughed out loud. "Do not let Pam hear you call her a 'pig in a poke'. She might feel the need to defend her honor."

"I wouldn't dream of it. Anyway, back to Celandine .. do you think she's really gone for good?"

"There is no way to know for certain. Her long absence would be highly unusual if she still had a legal claim on Jure. He is a wealthy man, his wife would have a right to some of his riches."

Our speculating was cut short when we tore around the club to the gravel lot in back where the employees and the over flow crowd parked. The club was hopping, the back lot was half filled. I began to pick my way in my high heels over the rocks and ruts when Eric swept me up in his arms and flew me to the service door. He set me down as gentle as you please.

"See? Perfect!" I grinned at him.

He smoothed back his hair with both hands in pretended vanity.

He unlocked the door and we entered the outdated employees hallway, so different from the flashy and flashing night life in the club. Down the worn linoleum was the battered office door and behind that door was Linda.

Eric and I made eye contact outside the door and he kissed my cheek, not wanting to smear my heavily applied lipstick. It took years for him to learn that. I took Mr. Perfect's hand and we entered the office.

Linda was busy adding a column of numbers. She held up a finger, eyes still down on her task, signalling us to wait until she was done. Then she hit a button and the machine whirred, extruding a long sheet of numbers. She looked at the total and sighed, then looked up at us.

Her face broke into a big smile. "Mom, Dad, I have some good news!"

"The books are balanced?" Eric offered teasingly.

She made a dismissive sweep of her hand. "Heavens no, they're all messed up. Did monkeys keep the books while I was away?"

She didn't wait for an answer. "No, this is my good news."

She reached down into the purse at her feet, took out a small box and opened it, holding it up to us with a big cat-that-ate-the-cream grin.

A million watts of diamond shot fire around the dingy office. Jure had given her a ring!

more to come ..... (Happy Wednesday Fanpires! Hope your hearts are filled with peace and happiness. My heart is filled with gratitude for your presence and the time you took to leave a note. See you Saturday!)


Saturday, December 8, 2012

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

Chapter One Hundred and Seventeen

Eric leaned forward. "Jure is already married?" he asked, his voice hard.

His hand sought mine out of camera range and clutched it. He was going to kill Jure for real if he was leading our little girl on. He might be hanging on to me to avoid leaping up and doing something impulsive at this moment. He needed to hear her answer. I was reminded of the time HoloGran told me that I must be his guiding star.

"Yes ... and no," Anna Hita said with a charming tilt to her head, trying to explain. "He married her and Turned her. She grew wild, willful and wanton. It affects some women that way, especially women that were raised in repressive societies. She took off, mocking him, challenging him. He used his Maker's power to control, but, as you know, that eventually wears thin. She hated him for controlling her. All love she had for him died. She became vengeful, refusing to divorce him. He has not heard from her for centuries. Even if he did, he would not love her. All he wants is to be rid of her for once and all."

"Would a marriage even be binding after all these years?" I asked. I knew Vampire traditionally had marriages that lasted a set amount of time. Eric and I were unusual in that our marriage had no "sell by" date.

"Jure is ... old fashioned," Anna Hita said in a kindly way. I knew she really cared about him. "If he is finally contemplating a new marriage he must consider his old marriage to be defunct. Celandine is long gone. She was a telepath also, a distant relative of ours. His mind would have found hers if she was still here. At Jure's request I too looked for her years ago, before this country was founded. I found no trace of her here either."

"Here?" I asked.

"Among the living," Anna Hita amplified.

"You believe she is dead, the final death?" Eric asked, his hand seeming to relax it's grip on mine a little.

I hung on to his hand too. I would be his anchor and he would be mine whatever the future brought. That knowledge soothed my worries a lot.

"How else could her complete psychic absence be explained?" she asked.

I had no answer for that. "What else should I know about him? Bad habits, vices, crazy streaks?" I asked.

"He is fussy about his appearance and possessions," Anna Hita said, as if beginning a list. "He will not tolerate disrespect or uproar. He keeps a close eye on his finances ... On the other side he is playful, fun loving, generous to those he cares about and worldly."

It was hard to think of the gloomy and imposing Jure as "fun-loving", though he did send me some creative romantic dreams in the past before I put a stop to it. Of course this was after he had glamoured me and taken advantage of me .... but he didn't remember that. Anna Hita had downloaded his memories to me and erased them from his mind. At least, that was what was supposed to have happened. If Jure did retain any memory of his attempt to steal me from Eric he never let it show.

"Is he glamouring Linda?" I asked.

"No, he is not. He is forbidden to glamour you or any member of your family."

"So you believe his ex-wife is really dead dead?" I asked again.

"How long would it take for someone to be declared dead if they did not reappear or send any sign?" she asked back.

Good question. For humans I think the time limit was seven years, though I got that from watching movies. For Vampires ... no telling. I was a judge now, I might need to weigh in on these issues. I would need to retire to my chambers and give this some thought.

First I would need to get me some chambers.

"If Linda were your daughter, would you let Jure court her?" I asked Anna Hita. She had seven daughters and seven sons during her very long ago human life, she would know where this question was coming from.

"Sookie, she is as a granddaughter to me. Yes, I believe Jure, for all his Old World ways, would make a fine match for Linda. How does she feel about it?" Anna Hita asked with a glint in her eye. I was sure she already knew the answer to that.

"She is sure about her feeling towards Jure, not so sure about giving up on her human aspirations such as motherhood..." I answered before thinking. Then I immediately worried I was revealing too much about Linda's personal life to Anna Hita.

Anna Hita stopped smiling. She looked directly into the camera, serious as sunrise. "That has a solution, as you know."

I saw a few flecks of gold begin to swirl around in her eyes signalling magic was being spoken of.

Her calm gaze was unwavering. She was sending me a message. A direct message. She was saying she could do for Linda what she had done for me. She could retrieve seed from a past human Jure and bring it back to the present so Linda could have Jure's children.

"Can I ... can I let Linda know that?" I asked her in a voice just slightly above a whisper, hardly daring to speak of such a big step - big for Linda and Jure, big for Anna Hita. Heck, big for Eric and me too. And Linda's sisters.

Anna Hita laughed, a sound like tiny temple bells ringing in a spring breeze. "Of course. How else would she decide?"

"Thank you ... thank you so much ... there are no words to express ..." I stammered.

"And none are needed. How does Eric feel about Jure joining your nest?" she asked, looking directly at him, the gold swirls gone.

She was changing the subject. Even though this line was secure there was always the remote danger something might be overheard and used against us or her.

"I would accept him if he proves worthy," Eric said. "I have no use for foolish pride, vain strutting or pointless power struggles. He would be joining my nest, not the reverse. If he can keep that foremost in his mind, he would be welcome."

I thought Eric put that very well. I had my doubts about how much pride or vanity Jure could set aside, but maybe it would be enough to be tolerable to Eric. As for power struggles ... well, I had even bigger doubts. I hope their love for Linda could cause both strong willed men to be flexible in their requirements.

"I'm going to speak to Linda sooner rather than later," I told Anna Hita, my mind more on Linda's future than anything else.

"That would be wise," she said. "Time is of the essence."

I knew she was referring to Linda's biological clock. Was there also some time constraint on her offer? Well, I would be seeing Linda tonight. If I could get her to the secret basement or our sound proof tunnel I could tell her of Anna Hita's life changing offer.

"What about Jure? He must be informed of this," Eric said.

"I know I can trust Jure," she said confidently. "However I can not guarantee what his reaction will be. He had no children in his human life, perhaps that was by choice. In that case ..." She shrugged her bare white shoulders causing her three strand diamond necklace to flash and twinkle.

"I'll let Linda tell him," I said. "This is a private matter between them."

As private as this arrangement can be, I added to myself silently, considering we were here plotting and planning without her knowledge.

I knew Jure kept himself to himself. He probably wasn't going to welcome us into his confidences. And children, with all the noise and the rotation of staff they require ... I tried to picture Jure dandling a squalling infant on his knee and failed. The thought of him changing a poopy diaper was beyond me to conjure up. He had recoiled at the task of caring for me when I was a weakling. Caring for a fragile human infant ... ?

No sense thinking about all that now. First things first. We said our very warm farewells. I wished I could hug Anna Hita and be enveloped in her scent and soothing aura. Perhaps soon.

After the screen went dark Eric asked me, "Did that answer all your questions?"
more to come ..... (Happy weekend everyone! Thanks so much for stopping by. I know this is a super busy time of year, thanks for making me a part of it.)


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

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

Chapter One Hundred and Sixteen

The next night I discovered that Linda had not returned here after her trip to Fangtasia. She was staying at Jure's house. She had come, gotten her three poodles and left a note for us with Simona.

The note read -

"Hi Mom and Dad,

I'm staying at Jure's for tonight. Will return to my apartment  tomorrow and be at work tomorrow night. Thanks for all your love and support. It really helped.

Love, Linda

p.s. Can I keep Aunt Linda' s sweater? I promise to take good care of it and I think it may have brought me good luck!

"Good luck? What kind of good luck?" I asked Eric as we read the note together.

He shrugged, not looking terribly concerned.

I took my worry out on him, unfairly.

"Eric, this is Linda's whole future we are talking about! Don't you care?"

He took my tone in stride. "I care about her future with all my heart, that does not give me insight into what might be lucky for her."

Eric wrapped his arms around me. "Poor Sookie, it is so hard for you to let her go. We did a good job raising her, she has both common sense and a zest for life. Now our little bird has flown, looking to make her own nest. Let us see where she lands before we decide how we view her adventures. Can any parent guarantee happiness for their children?"

"No, I guess not," I begrudgingly admitted, my cheek pressed against his silent loving chest..

In my heart I was still plotting schemes to find out all I could about Jure behind his back. I decided to call Anna Hita tonight and see if I could speak with her.

I was also thinking that Bill, with his access to Jure's computer, might be a goldmine of information.

I was also thinking the unthinkable.

I knew Adele could, with effort, read the minds of vampires. I could send her into Jure's mind for his whole story. The problems with that were multiple. Jure might know immediately what was happening. I had told Adele to never read vampire minds because she might let something out that would clue in  vampires what she could do. Jure might retaliate if he felt his privacy was being breached.

He might take his anger out on Linda or Adele. He was too dangerous to poke with a stick. I had to be very very careful whatever I decided to do. If Eric thought Anna Hita would be my best bet I would start there and see what I turned up.

I heard hammering and sawing. I made a questioning face at Eric.

"The work has begun on our second kitchen and the telecommunication dining room," he explained. "It will all be wired discreetly so that the cameras and screens will be less intrusive than laptops on the table. The screen where we appear will look like paintings when not in use, the tiny cameras are concealed in the chandelier. The angle will be slightly higher than eye level,  eliminating the sight of the table and the plates."

It didn't bother me much but the sight of food sometimes icked Eric out. Some older Vampires used terms such as "breathers", "breeders" or "chewers" in a derogutory way, implying those things were evidence of a lower, grosser nature. Eric didn't go that far, after all, I was recently human and his daughters were human. Still the sight, smell and chewing of food seemed yuckier and yuckier the longer I was Vampire.

I hoped I never got an "us vs. them" mentality. The best thing about being Interim Pythoness, aside from having Eric as my bailiff, would be my ability to enforce fair and equal treatment between vampires and humans.

We were going in to Fangtasia tonight to welcome Linda back to the office and check things out. Before I got ready to go I wanted to call Anna Hita. I didn't know if she would insist on us coming to New Orleans to speak to her. Eric had set up a Skype connection that he promised was private. I believed it, whether Anna Hita would trust in such a thing I would find out.

We went in the office and shut the door to keep out the sound of the construction. I had downed a couple of bottles of True Blood - vile stuff - but I was really looking forward to hitting the donors at the club to feed. Eric said he had a special surprise for me too.

Eric had informed Corinth, Anna Hita's excellent secretary, we were calling. She was right by the phone when we called.

"She is expecting your call, let me turn on the camera ...." The computer screen lit up and we could see Corinth in the office. I had only been in the office once many years ago. It had been entirely redecorated since that time and had the same creamy light color scheme as Anna Hita's apartment. Maybe the same decorator did them both.

Nobody had touched Anna Hita's scrying parlor in all those years, maybe not in centuries considering the massive Victorian furniture and dusty red velvet upholstery. Her parlour didn't even have electric lights, just an antique kerosene lamp on the sideboard.

Corinth leaned forward to do what most people do, she peered closely into the camera. Our camera was already on so she could see us.

"All set, I see," she said. "I'll go get her."

She moved out of range and Eric and I were left looking at a beige six drawer filing cabinet. There were cards marking each drawer but the writing was all little squiggles and triangles. Were they labeled in cuneiform?

Anna Hita appeared as she sat down and adjusted her chair.

"Hello?" she said to us, sounding unsure of how, or even if, this worked.

"Hi Anna Hita, it's us, Sookie and Eric," I said, though she could see and had been told who it was.

She smiled, truly pleased. "Isn't this wonderful? The things they have these days." Her eyes traveled around the screen and found the camera.

This comment was coming from a woman that could travel through time and alternate dimensions!

"Anna Hita, we have a few questions .. about Jure. He is courting Linda and we need to know more about him, about his past, before we decide how we feel about it. He wants Linda to Turn and it's driving her crazy because she's not ready yet. Is he going to break her heart?"

Anna Hita nodded as I was talking. "I see. Of course you want to protect Linda from taking a wrong path. Jure is wealthy, powerful, old. He has holdings in both the New World and the Old. His last Child was Adrijana Dragan, she's in the Underworld right now... .."

I knew that because I was the one that got her sent there, indirectly.

"I think he Turned Adrijana more than two hundred years ago  ...Jure lives near you, doesn't he?" she asked.

I got the feeling Anna Hita was stalling, telling us things we already knew. I decided to take a more direct approach.

"We were visiting him at his castle in Croatia. I saw a painting of him with a blond woman, an old painting. Who was she?"

"Her name is Celandine. She is his wife." Anna Hita said.

more to come ..... (Welcome to one and all! I'm feeling merry and bright knowing you are here, hope life is treating you well. See you Saturday. Til then I send my warmest thoughts your way.)


Saturday, December 1, 2012

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

Chapter One Hundred and Fifteen

Looking at the lawyer perched on the footstool, I felt a wave of admiration and kindness towards that cute little elf Merry Dixon.

I knew intellectually that this feeling was the result of a natural emanation given off by the blue elves, an emanation that made vampires giddy with adoration. My muted response was thanks to the bespelled necklace I was wearing, one that lessened my unnatural feeling towards blue elves down to manageable proportions.

Eric had a ring that did the same thing. We might think Merry was the cutest thing on two thick legs right now but at least we weren't going to trip over our own feet to pander to her.

Jure didn't have the same protection.  It was good he had already gone off to his home to change. If he was still here we would have a heck of a time prying him away from Merry so we could conduct business.

The kids left for the club in high spirits. The gleam was back in Linda's eye, the color in her cheek. Whatever Jure's shortcomings might be, I thought, at least tonight he and Linda would have a good time. You couldn't really get into any weighty issues in the club, it was just too loud for that kind of discussion.

Merry hopped down off her stool and got her leather briefcase. She had upgraded to a Valextra "Diplomatico" complete with her initials embossed in gold, probably a gift from a smitten and pleased vampire client. She was very good at brushing off most vampire attempts to woo her.

I supposed occasionally she might allow a gift for services rendered. Maybe I should get her a diamond studded Rolex to replace her plain Timex wrist watch. It seemed little enough to give her for taking the time to visit me like this.

Merry got right down to business once Simona had popped in the living room and asked if she wanted anything. Merry requested a cup of green tea, no sugar.

"As I understand it, right now we have agreed that I will be your Judicial Assistant at a salary commensurate with the one Issussra was receiving, is that correct?" she asked, her sweet little face serious as she began her list of court officers.

"Yes, that's right," I affirmed.

"Now, for our law clerks, those are the lawyers that will assist you in all aspects of legal research relating to your prosecution cases. I was considering the Narlock sisters. They can work two at a time in rotation so it doesn't become burdensome if one or the other is already involved in a case." She looked up at me over the top of her bifocals for approval. Her faded blue eyes were utterly charming in their intensity.

"Brilliant!" I said enthusiastically, hoping in some little worried corner of my heart it really was brilliant and didn't just seem that way 'cause I was intoxicated by Merry's presence.

I looked to Eric for his input but he wasn't in the room. Where was he? Wasn't his ring working? Did he have to leave to keep control of himself? No matter - I was here with Merry Dixon, that was all that counted right now. More attention for me.

"Next, we need a court clerk to keep records," she said, bringing a list out of her costly briefcase.

"We sure do," I agreed wholeheartedly.

"Since you are unfamiliar with the names on this list, might I recommend Madison Dole? She's very fast, accurate and retired, meaning she would be available any time we needed her. I must tell you that she's a were-monkey which might pose a problem during the full moons ..." she trailed off, not sure of my reaction to this news.

"So what if she's a monkey, she sounds great!" I burbled cheerfully.

"She's not a monkey all the time, just during the full ...." Merry Dixon stopped talking as Eric strode in.

Her jaw didn't exactly drop open but she stopped moving to gawk. Eric was naked to the waist, wearing his glove soft brown leather kilt low on his narrow hips, fur lined knee high boots, and a thick leather strap across the broad white expanse of his mighty chest, a strap that held a fearsome broadsword diagonally across his back.

All he needed to do to begin killing was reach behind his neck, grab the hilt of the sword and unsheathe it in one rapid movement. His thick wrists and developed forearms were custom made for sword fighting, having been trained in that art during his human life.

In vampire terms a sword was much more lethal than a gun or even a stake. The speed and dexterity with which Eric could spin and kill made him deadly on a level humans couldn't even imagine. Few vampires would be strong or fast enough to escape Eric when he was in warrior mode.

Merry and I both stared at Eric. His blond rock star hair was wild, his striated muscles were defined by the low living room lights. I don't know what she was thinking but I was thinking that this was a display of manliness to impress Merry.

Merry cleared her throat and consulted her list. "This brings us to the position of bailiff," she announced in her quavering voice.

To Eric she asked, "I assume you are applying for that position?"

Ah! So that was the reason for the fighting gear!

To me she quickly added, "A bailiff has authority from the judge, that would be you,  to do whatever is necessary to maintain order in the court and uphold the law."

"I am applying for bailiff," he declared, whipping out his sword and cutting our blue ceramic table lamp and mahogany end table in half for dramatic effect. His sword was back in its scabbard before the two halves of the table hit the ground. Fortunately the lamp was not on. I darted over and unplugged the lamp's remains from the wall anyway so it couldn't start a fire. Better safe than sorry.

"How do you feel about that?" Merry asked me, suppressing a small smile at Eric's imposing presence and his show of swordplay. This was a job application she wouldn't forget in a hurry. It beat submitting a written resume by a country mile.

"I think it's hot!" I said, admiring my husband's good looks, fierce skills and noble bearing. I never cared for either the lamp or the end table, now I could get new ones I liked better.

"By 'hot' I am interpreting that as a yes? Eric will be your bailiff?" she asked, just to make sure we were all on the same page.

"Oh yeah, he can be my bailiff any old time," I purred at him, realizing that my warm fuzzy feelings for Merry were spilling over to Eric. The little blue elf was like a walking love spell. Too bad you couldn't bottle the stuff, you could make a fortune.

I thought of names ... Viagr-elf ... Elfrodesiac  .. Elf Potion Number Nine.

"Well, that completes our roster," Merry said, straightening her papers and placing them neatly in her briefcase.

Simona came in with the tea, looked at the halves of table and lamp, looked at half naked Eric in his Viking warrior gear and made up her mind to say nothing. Very quietly and carefully she set the tray down on the coffee table. I dismissed her for the night and she scurried out of the room.

I hoped this wasn't "it" for Simona, so far she had been very satisfactory. I bet PBS hadn't prepared her for this. They needed a few new shows - Upstairs, Downstairs, Saferoom or Vampireton Abbey. I was aware that my mind was wandering all over the place, intoxicated by the presence of the elf.

Merry took a few polite sips of tea and told me she would check back with me in a week or so to set up our first case. The Queen of California was most eager for a hearing. Eric helped her on with her coat and walked her to her car. He looked as imposing from the back as he did from the front.

As soon as he got back in the house I led him to the bedroom to continue his job interview. My first question as his employer concerned what weapons he concealed under that leather kilt.

He got a raise before he even got the job.

more to come ..... (Greetings Fanpires! There's a dusting of snow on the ground but there's a warm place in my heart for you. See you Wednesday!)