Being awaken way too early – even though it was already mid-day, after a rather long and eventful night by a cranky, hungry, stinky baby wasn’t what I had in mind. But I guess that’s part of motherhood, right?
“Hey there, doodle bug… Someone isn’t a happy camper this morning. Come on, baby, mama will take you out of your stinky diaper.”
After a little struggle, Hunter didn’t want to leave his daddy’s side, my son was changed and dressed in a cute duckie romper.
“Wanna stay with daddy while mama get dressed?”
I was rewarded with a now nearly toothless grin. Yeah, he sure was a daddy’s boy. I quickly changed into a pair of Capri pants and a comfy top. The sight I got once I exited the bathroom sent a tug to my heart. Hunter was once again trying to wake Eric and, obviously, failing miserably.
“Oh my sweet little boy…”
How could he possibly understand that his daddy would never be up in the morning? That his daddy would never get to play with him during the daytime? Was there a book, a guide for that? ‘How To Handle Fatherhood And Its Responsibilities While Being A Vampire‘? Or one of those children’s books explaining life? ‘Why Daddy Can’t Go In The Sunlight‘ or ‘My Daddy Is A Vampire‘? The last few days had been such a rollercoaster ride, I hadn’t thought for a second how Eric and I would handle raising a child together.
Fae people, especially Sky Fae, craved sunshine. Even a Fae hybrid like me did. And Hunter was a hybrid too, so a nighttime lifestyle would probably be detrimental to his development. I sighed, we really needed to have him checked out by Doctor Ludwig as soon as we went back home to Shreveport.
“Come on, doodle bug, let’s fill out your tummy with lots of good food.”
I blew a few raspberry on his chubby cheek, sending him laughing. Jason was already seated at the dinning table, dressed in a dark business suit, surrounded by a variety of dishes and several newspapers.
“Hey bro, sharply dressed for such an early time…”
He sighed as I seated Hunter in the high chair and handed him a piece of warm biscuit.
“You know what they say, no rest for the wicked. And it’s not that early, you know…”
“Where’s Gran? Sleeping in today?”
“I think she waited ’til Godric and I came in before going to bed. The front desk clerk called her when we got the keys…”
“Sorry we didn’t wait for you. Eric and I retired shortly after coming back. The little one was getting restless…”
A shy smile appeared on my brother’s handsome face.
“Dad would be so proud of you, you know?”
“He would be proud of you too. He WAS proud of you.”
“Yeah, well… He didn’t have high expectations for me… But for you… You’ve practically achieved all he ever wanted for you.”
I frowned. “What? What do you mean by that?”
“Well almost all… He thought you and Eric would already be married or at least pledged before starting to think about babies…”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “Dad thought… No! Daddy would have never… How could he have known…”
“That what was between you and Eric was out of this world? A one in a billion time type of thing? Yep, he knew. I guess he knew from the moment you two met. The only one oblivious to it were you two fools. That summer you spent together in Sweden only cemented it. Do you remember when you came back? You cried for hours after Eric dropped you at the brownstone.”
I nodded. I had been inconsolable for days afterward. It had become so bad that dad had to call Doctor Ludwig, fearing I was suffering from the mythical bonding sickness. I say mythical but bonding sickness was very real. However, since very few vampires bonded with human without at least turning them shortly after, bonding sickness due to lack of physical closeness was rare. The good doctor had expected the worst but ended up diagnosing a huge case of temper tantrum.
“But back to my initial question, is there a reason behind your attire or are you trying to impress somebody?”
He took a deep breath.
“If by somebody you mean the human population of the United States of America, then the answer is yes. In about an hour I’ll be live on national television, commenting last night’s attack.”
“Shouldn’t the King’s people or the AVL take care of the PR crisis?”
“You know the King’s reputation, right? He’s one lazy a-hole. He told Godric ‘it’s your area, take care of the mess yourself. And don’t expect me to lower your monthly tribute just because you lost a couple of my subjects’. Of course I’m paraphrasing, he used a more colourful language not suitable for little ears.”
“Sensitive as always, isn’t he? What about Nan Flanagan? She’s always eager to appear on TV…”
“She’s coming tomorrow. Currently she’s in Japan, meeting with some Tru Blood big shots. Rumour has it they’re trying to buy all the share of Royalty Blend in order to merge it with Tru Blood. They’ve already got 19% and are now trying to figure out who owns the 81% left.”
“Will they figure out that there’s only one owner and that it’s Eric?”
He smiled. “Not unless we want them to know. Don’t worry, sis, Eric’s assets are well protected. The shares were divided through several of AIK subdivisions and are practically impossible to link back to Eric.”
I wasn’t worried, most people at AIK didn’t even know who they were working for. I wiped Hunter’s mouth which was full of biscuit crumbs and started to feed him some oatmeal. I laughed as he made yum-yum sounds, opening his mouth for more.
“He’s got quite the appetite…”
“Just like his daddy, right doodle bug?”
“He’s already talking?”
I nodded. “Gran thinks it’s the telepathy. I was an early talker too. So… Which channel do I have to tune in to see my dashing brother charming the crowd?”
“First I’m doing TBBN, then CNN and some local news outlet. And I gotta leave right now if I don’t want to be late.”
“Well break a leg, Jase!”
And with that I was now alone with my baby boy. I finished feeding him the oatmeal and handed him an other piece of biscuit then poured myself a cup of coffee before grabbing one of the newspapers. As expected the attack made the front page. ‘Hate Crime’, ‘Attack Agains’t Dallasite Philanthropist Vampire’ and ‘Anti Vampire Terror Attack’… It surprised me how sympathetic toward vampires they were. This was Dallas, Texas for God’s sake! The buckle of the Bible Belt, the land of Republican… But according to what I was reading, Godric was well-known and well-loved by the population since the Great Revelation. The fact that he donated to numerous charities and organisms helped. I remembered daddy telling me how he had bought more than $20,000 worth of Girl Scout cookies a year after the Great Revelation.
“Come on, doodle bug.”
Room service came and cleared the dishes from the table in record time. I settled Hunter on the floor in front of the TV with his play mat. I channel surfed for a while until I found TBBN. The news ticker was already advertising Jason’s appearance as well as the Newlins. I couldn’t wait to see my brother face the ‘good’ Reverend and his bitch of a wife.
“Your uncle is about to nail some bigots, doodle bug.”
“For those joining us, late last night the house of Godric Nervii, the vampire representative of the Dallas area, was the target of a suicide bomber identified by the FBI as Luke McDonald, a member of the Fellowship of the Sun. The attack made a total of 28 victims, 15 humans and 13 vampires. Now we welcome in our studios attorney Jason Stackhouse, spokesperson for Mr Nervii, and live from the church of the FotS Reverend Steve Newlin and his wife. Gentlemen, Mrs Newlin, good afternoon.”
I couldn’t help but laugh at the sight of Steve Newlin sporting a rather nasty looking bruise on his forehead where Jason had hit him with the paintball gun.
“Mr Stackhouse, if I understand correctly you were at Mr Nervii’s house at the time of the attack?”
“Yes, I was at the gathering last night. We were celebrating the return of my client after an… unfortunate two weeks absence. The suicide bomber actually stated that he had been sent by Reverend Newlin…”
“Nonsense!” exclaimed Newlin, outraged. “I never sent anybody to that creature of the night’s nest of evil!”
“Are you calling Mr Stackhouse a liar, Reverend?”
“Of course not! I’m only saying that it’s his word against mine…”
“But you aren’t denying the fact that Luke McDonald was indeed a member of the Fellowship of the Sun?”
“An active member, maybe. You don’t expect me to know all the members of my Church!”
“According to his Facebook account, Mr McDonald wasn’t just an active member of your Church, Reverend” said Jason, waving a pile of paper. “These are screenshots of the late Luke McDonald very public account. ‘Attending the Light of Day Institute retreat and met the Newlins. Best day ever!’, ‘It’s official: I’m now a soldier of the sun! Let’s exterminate those fangers like the good Reverend preached us!’ And I’m not talking about the multiple pictures showing Mr McDonald posing with both you and Mrs Newlin…”
Jason 1, Newlins 0
“I won’t allow you to… These could have been fabricated to…”
“Is it true, Reverend, that earlier this morning the ATF raided your Soldiers of the Sun’s compound? That this branch of your Church is in fact a paramilitary group whose objective is the annihilation of the vampire race? That the ATF found a large amount of weapons specifically modified to destroy vampires?”
I knew Jason had a secret ace hidden! Jason 2, Newlins 0
“Reverend? Mrs Newlin?”
“We have been advised by our lawyers not to…”
“We are only trying to defend ourselves!” said Sarah Newlin who up until now had remained silent. “We are creatures of light! Children of God!”
“And by defending yourselves, Mrs Newlin, you mean holding my client prisoner for two weeks and planning his public execution by burning him at the stake during one of your church retreat?”
Jason 3, Newlins 0
“He came to us! He wanted it!”
“Mr Stackhouse?” asked the newscaster.
Jason took a deep breath. “While it is true that Mr Nervii went willingly to the Fellowship of the Sun, his objective in doing so was to open dialogue between them and the vampire community. My client is the most non-violent being I known, unless being provoke…”
“Dialogue? They murdered my family! I’m pretty sure your so-called non-violent client ordered it!”
“If I were you, Reverend, I’d be careful with what I say. While your preaching fall under the freedom of speech, those accusations you just made against my client could earn you a slander lawsuit. You wouldn’t want me to say on national television that your wife is a two-timing whore…”
Jason 4, Newlins 0. Match point. Game over. Whatever you want to call it. The live feed from the Fellowship was abruptly cut.
“It seems that we are experiencing some difficulties with the satellite feed from the Fellowship of the Sun… I’d like to thank Mr Stackhouse for his appearance. In other news, the Vampire Rights Amendment…”
I turned off the TV and sent a congratulatory text to Jason. I took Hunter in my arms, waltzing him through the suite, resulting in a fit of giggles from my son.
“Susannah Adele Stackhouse! You put that baby down right now! You’re going to make the poor thing sick. It’s bad enough that Eric is vamping with him all the time, that poor baby will end up with motion sickness!”
I laughed as I handed her Hunter for a cuddle.
“Room service came earlier to pick up the dishes. Do you want me to order you something?”
She sat on one of the couches, kissing Hunter’s chubby baby cheek.
“A light soup would be good, my dear. I don’t think I can hold anything else.”
“Are you alright? Do you want me to call Doctor Ludwig…”
She smiled that warm Gran’s smile that meant ‘don’t worry’.
“Nothing is wrong with my health, dear, or at least I don’t think so. No, it’s those boys of mine that are worrying me. Barely slept at all… Speaking of them, where’s your brother?”
I finished ordering her light lunch before joining her in the living room.
“He left about 2 hours ago. Had to be at the TBBN studios for a live interview. Here, let me show you…”
I grabbed my laptop and log on to the Tru Blood Broadcasting Network’s – yep, Tru Blood was sponsorasing a news channel – website. The ‘Stackhouse-Newlins Confrontation’ was the most watched and most commented video online before even the exclusive Angelina Jolie interview regarding her adoption of a vampire baby. Attentively I looked at Gran as she watched the video. I expected her to be amused but she looked extremly worried.
“Gran, are you alright?”
She sighed. “This confirm my worst fear…”
I frowned. What could she possibly mean by that?
“Don’t you see? Godric tries to make us belive everything is alrigh, but obviously it’s not! Only a suicidal person, a suicidal vampire would willingly go to the lion’s den and surrender… Maybe he truly wanted to open dialogue with those… with those bigots, but he’s a smart boy! He knows those Bible thumpers will never listen… We need to do something, my Sookie. I’m affraid of what he might do…”
She let out a sob before burying her face in Hunter’s neck.
“I’ll talk to Eric… I… I guess the thought that he might be suicidal never… Are you sure? I mean, Godric, suicidal? No…”
“I saw it before. Your great-uncle Francis, Earl’s brother… When he came back from the war… To the outside world he seemed okay, but he wasn’t… He commited suicide years before your birth. When I look in Godric’s eyes, sometime I see the same melancholia…”
“I see… I… Please, wait until I talk to Eric before you corner Godric for an intervention, okay? Here, I’ll put Hunter down for a nap. You eat your lunch and try not to worry too much, alright? Oh and watch CNN… Jason has an interview with them later on…”
It took a while, but Hunter finally went to sleep… snuggled up next to Eric. I sighed, Gran had warned me not to spoil him too much, but of course I didn’t listen to the woman who had raised two children! Eric and I nedded to set some ground rules regarding our son. And from the way things looked I would probably end up being the bad cop parent… No way in hell Eric would be able to discipline our son. No, he could be a ruthless vampire sheriff able to punish his delinquant underlings, but that little boy had him wrapped around his little finger.
Looking at the two of them, napping and resting together, I realized how lucky I was. I kissed both of their foreheads before laying down next to them.