I mustn’t have slept long, because I was awoken by kisses trailed along my spine and hands playing with my hair. I sighed and choked a moan.
“Eric… I think you forgot our little bed mate.”
I opened my eyes and started to laugh. Eric was dead for the day, but Hunter was wide awake and the kisses I felt were him trying to ‘eat’ me.
“Hey there, sweet pea.”
He babbled, giving me a nearly toothless smile. Taped on his little pyjama was a note in Eric’s careful script.
Good morning Aunt Sookie,
I hope you were able to sleep well. Uncle Eric took care of me, feeding me a bottle he found in my bag and changing my diaper before rocking me to sleep. He says that he like the modern diapers better than the one they had when he was human. They are less messy.
The mean lady has arranged for a construction team to come and set up my nursery. She said they should get here around mid-afternoon. Uncle Eric said not to worry, that they will be glamour to forget the location of our house.
Uncle Eric’s dayman should bring a car seat so you, me and Gran can go shopping. He also said to take his credit card, not to look at the price tag sand that you should understand what he means.
“Seems like Uncle Eric thought of everything, don’t you think, Hunter?”
The only answer I receives was a string of babbles. He was so damn cute. He had stopped eating my back and was now trying to eat his fist.
“I think someone is hungry. Come on, sweet pea, let’s find you something to eat before you lose your hand.”
Carefully lifting the baby, I dropped a kiss on Eric before leaving the room. The house was eerily quiet, the only sound coming from Hunter’s babbles. Making our way downstairs, I dropped my shields and smiled. Gran was up and apparently she wasn’t alone.
“Gran has a visitor, sweet pea. And if I’m not wrong he came with gifts for you.”
We found Gran and Mr. Burnham in the kitchen with little Freyja in her wicker basket.
“Good morning, Gran, Mr. Burnham!”
“Good morning, Miss Stackhouse.”
“Sookie, dear, Mr. Burnham was nice enough to bring a car seat for Hunter and some baby food.”
The white haired man smiled, sipping his coffee.
“I’m only doing what Mr. Northman is paying me to do, Mrs. Stackhouse…”
“What have I said, Mr. Burnham, please call me Adele!”
“Only if you agree to call me Bobby.”
While I fed Hunter some cereal, Mr. Burnham – or Bobby as he insisted, told us about his wife and his own children. It surprised me to learn he had been working as Eric’s dayman for close to forty years. He was even training his oldest son – also named Bobby, to take over once he finally decides to retire.
Looking at his watch, Mr. Burnham – I could never call him Bobby, finished his cup of coffee.
“I’ll have to cut my visit short, ladies. Miss Pam left me an exhaustive shopping list…”
“I hope she’s not over…”
“Don’t you worry, Miss Sookie, all I have to do is order and arrange for delivery. From what she sent me, this little guy will have a wonderful room.”
We said our goodbyes then Gran ushered me upstairs to get dressed while she took care of Hunter. Choosing to go with casual, I put on a pair of blue jeans, a frilly blouse and beige cardigan matched with booty-like high heels. When I finally made my way down, Gran had dressed Hunter in a little white overall.
“Come on, Sookie! We don’t have time to be lazy if we want to be back before the construction team gets here! I already feel so bad about leaving Eric, Pamela and Jessica alone for the day…”
Grabbing my purse and taking Hunter in my arms I sighed.
“They’re going to be alright, Gran. The house has a state of the art security system…”
“I still feel bad…”
While Gran continued to fret over leaving our vampires alone, I secured Hunter in his car seat, kissing his soft head before taking the wheel.
“Do you know where we should start?” I asked.
If I was completely honest with myself, I had no clue what a baby needed. But I had an expert with me. Gran had, after all, had 2 kids and 3 grandchildren, so she must know what we needed.
“Well, Pamela left me a list of items not to buy… Isn’t there a Toys R’Us next to Eric’s bar? We should find some toys for Hunter…”
And so we went to downtown Shreveport and spent 2 hours strolling down the aisles buying way too many toys and plush. Luckily this Toys R’Us also had a Baby R’Us section and we were able to get more outfits for the little one.
“Sookie” said Gran, while we were looking through rack of clothes.
She showed me a cute little onesie that made me burst in laughter.
“If you think I’m a stud you should see my uncle? We have to get this for Eric!”
Our next stop was the Monroe Walmart. We had a trolley full of diapers pack, baby foods, sling like baby carrier and more toys.
“I think we should be okay for a while, Gran. If we continue like this there won’t anything left on the shelves.”
Gran, who during our shopping expedition proved to be as crazy as Pam, reluctantly agreed.
“Do you want me to hold Hunter while you check out?”
I hadn’t let go of Hunter once since we arrived at the shop. I felt so comfortable holding the little one and a part of me was afraid to let him go. I might not have Eric’s vampire bubble, but by keeping my shields up I was able to provide a safe haven for the baby.
“No, I’m going to be okay. And he seems like he’s enjoying himself.”
And enjoying himself he was. Lowering my shields a little I felt comfort, love and peacefulness coming from him. His little head was resting in the crook of my neck, his hand holding a strand of hair as if his life depended on it.
The cashier, a nice looking middle aged lady, scanned each items and bagged them carefully.
“You have a beautiful baby, Ma’am.”
“Thank you” I said, not really sure how to answer.
Hunter wasn’t my baby, even if, in the really short amount of time I had known him, I had felt a maternal love for him.
“You look just like mommy, don’t you little guy? But those big blue eyes must come from daddy, right?”
I politely smiled and bit my lower lips. Wanting to escape the awkwardness, I managed to put the bags in the trolley, handed Eric’s credit card and signed the receipt.
“Have a nice day, Mrs. Northman…”
Mrs. Northman… How I wish it could be true. How I wish I could be Hunter’s mother and Eric his father… How I wish I could be his wife and him my husband… How I wish he was human… How I wish to be able to give him a child of his own…
“Come on, Sookie” said Gran, pulling me out of my daydream.
“What? Oh, yeah. Have a nice day, Ma’am.”
The car ride was silent, except for Hunter’s babbles. But Gran, being Gran, soon realized something was wrong.
“What’s the matter, Sookie? You’re awfully quiet! It’s what the lady at Walmart said, right?”
I sighed. “You really know me too well…”
She smiled. “You’re my granddaughter, Sookie. Blood of my blood. Of course I know when something is bothering you. You feel conflicted about the fact that she thought you were Hunter’s mother, am I wrong?”
“When are you ever wrong, Gran?” I joked. “It’s not that I’m conflicted or… I don’t know… I’ve known about Hunter for what, 24 odd hours? A little more than a day and yet… I feel this connection to him, this unconditional love for him. I know it’s crazy…”
Gran offered me one of her warm smile. “It’s not crazy, my Sookie. Any mother feels that way upon meeting her child for the first time. That’s exactly how I felt when the doctor handed me your father and your aunt Linda after their births.”
“But I’m not his mother, Gran! Hunter is not my son! He’s Hadley’s…”
I stopped the car in the driveway and Gran took my hands in hers, looking in my eyes. I saw years and years of wisdom in them and in that moment I knew that she knew better.
“You listen to me, Susannah Stackhouse! This little boy might not be yours biologically, but deep down you already know that he’s yours. That he was meant for you, just like you were meant for him. It’s like you and Eric, you were meant to be together. It’s Fate, my sweet little girl. Fate has decided that you and Eric were meant to take care of this precious baby. Don’t try to understand it, just go with it.”
“But… I’m afraid! Afraid to get attached to him, afraid that one day Hadley will come back and take him away. I already love him, Gran…”
She wiped away a tear that was rolling down my cheek.
“You got to have faith, little girl. And if by any chance Hadley was to come back and claim our little miracle, do you really think Eric would let her take him? He would glamour her and have her on her way before she even has a chance to say one word. And there’s always Bartlett’s money. We can bribe her with it!”
I was shocked. Was this really my Gran? My sweet, nice, little Gran?
“What? I told you, I know my grandchildren. Hadley has unfortunately inherited her father’s selfishness and, from the way she treated her own child by leaving him to a stranger instead of taking him to her family, I’m pretty sure if we offer her money she would go away without an argument.”
I had to agree with Gran on that. Hadley would do anything for money.
“Now, take a deep breath and calm down. You wouldn’t want Eric to rise before his time with your distress.”
Again she was right. I wiped away my tears and a quick glance to the rear view mirror brought a smile to my face. Yes, Hunter was a precious miracle. A miracle for our family, as strange and unconventional a family as it was.
“Look, Mr. Herveaux has already arrived!”
Gran got out of the car and went to welcome the gentleman standing by the truck near the garage. I unbuckled Hunter and followed her.
“Mrs. Stackhouse! I didn’t know you would be here” said the man.
“My dear Jackson, how many times do I have to tell you to call me Adele! But where are my manners! Jackson Herveaux, allow me to introduce you to my granddaughter, Sookie Stackhouse. Sookie dear, this nice gentleman is Mr. Jackson Herveaux. He’s the owner of the construction company that did the renovation at the farmhouse.”
“A pleasure to meet you, Miss Stackhouse. Your grandmother told me so much about you.”
“Don’t believe everything she says! She tends to embellish things!” I smiled.
“She wouldn’t dare! And I guess this is the little guy for whom we are goin’ to build a nursery?”
I nodded and let my shields down. From what I got from his thoughts, which were red and snarly, Jackson Herveaux was a were.
“How about I give you a hand with your bags, ladies? My team should get here just before dawn and I have time to kill.”
We took the shopping bags to the living room and headed to the kitchen where Gran put water in the kettle for tea. We all sat down in the breakfast area, little Freyja appearing out of nowhere and settling in her little basket.
“I have to tell you that you did an amazing job on the farmhouse, Mr. Herveaux.”
“Please, call me Jackson, Miss Sookie. And I can’t take all the credit for the work on your family home. I only oversaw the work. My son Alcide is the one who came up with the plans, just as he did for this house…”
“Your company built this house as well? Then I owe you and your son a big thank you, Mr…. I mean, Jackson. It’s really fabulous.”
“Speaking of your son, how is this dear Alcide doing? And what about your Janice?”
“Well, he’s still gettin’ over his breakup with his former girlfriend, Debbie. I think you might remember her, she came down from Mississippi while we were doin’ the work at the farmhouse. As for Janice, she just opened her beauty shop and doesn’t have time to call her ol’ man as much as I would like.”
Jackson Herveaux then told me how his company, Herveaux & Son Construction, had two offices, one in Shreveport and one in Jackson, Mississippi. He was in charge of the Louisiana office while his son Alcide was taking care of the one in Mississippi. He told me about his previous gambling problem that nearly left him bankrupt and in debt with several supernatural owned casinos, how Eric had bought his marker and given him the opportunity to open a second office in Shreveport under his patronage.
“And I don’t regret it one bit, you know. Some people might think that doin’ business with vamps is a bad idea, especially people like me, if you know what I mean…”
“You mean weres? I know that the history between weres and vampires isn’t an easy one, but it’s great to see that you’re making the best of it.”
“The best of it ain’t even coverin’ it, Miss Sookie! With all the work Mr. Northman got me and the company in the past 3 years, I’ve been able to repay my debt to him 10 times! Some people told me to stop doin’ business with him as soon as I finished repayin’ him, but it’s good business, you know. My company is doin’ more than well and I was able to help my baby girl when she decided to start her own business. Why stop now? I have a nice egg nest for my retirement and a legacy for my son. And the fact that I asked Mr. Northman to glamour me not to gamble anymore is cherry on top of the sundae! And of all the vampires that could have bought my marker, Mr. Northman ain’t that bad. Sure, he looks menacin’ and ruthless, but he’s a fair Sheriff and quite the successful businessman.”
“You haven’t seen him with little Hunter, yet” said Gran. “With this little one in his arms, he’s just a big teddy bear!”
“Who’s a big teddy bear, Adele?”
Hunter let out a shriek and tried to escape my grasp. I turn around and smiled at the newcomer. Eric was standing at the entrance of the kitchen, dressed in a tight black t-shirt and dark jeans. He went to kiss Gran on the cheek before kneeling in front of me, taking a very eager Hunter in his waiting arms.
The sight of him holding the baby and the lust filling his voice was enough to make me melt.