I imagine Humans are gradually pulled from a deep sleep by their alarm clocks…
Sookie’s heartbeat was the first thing to reach me when I began coming back to myself. Each beat made me want to reach for the next. It was rare for me to be anxious to rise, but Sookie was already a catalyst for so many surprises…
When I opened my eyes, she was sitting on the corner of my bed with her legs crossed, but her eyes weren’t focused.
She started, “It’s really weird to be completely blind…” She snickered, “I had to feel for the bed so I could sit down because I felt like I was swaying.”
“And you braved blindness because you missed me, yes?”
“I braved blindness hoping you can tell where my aunt is. She disappeared.”
And I felt NOTHING of her.
“We think it’s the braid again. With Gran and Jason coming over, I was in the kitchen putting pies together. Gawain was in the den with her. They were looking through the baby magazines I picked up for her at the bookstore. He came into the kitchen for a sec because she wanted me to see something and when he went back with her blood, she was gone.”
“Did either of you hear her mind leave like Hadley’s did last night?”
“Nope. We weren’t on duty, just hanging out. It happened about fifteen minutes ago. I came down here because I was wondering if it would make you wake up. Another negative.”
“And Gawain checked for her scent at the exits, yes?”
“The braid seems like the logical conclusion then.”
She swatted my leg and scoffed, “That’s no help.”
“I’m more worried about my child than your anxiety. Pardon me for not sugar-coating or placating.”
“Sorry! I was hoping you might have some sense of her through your Maker/child thing. And don’t be a bitch to me about it. It’s not my fault you’re hungry, horny and have a vanishing child. If it makes you feel better, Pam’s-”
I was already looking at Pam’s empty bed when Sookie gasped.
She jumped from her seat and shouted, “GAWAIN!”
Without hesitation, the trapdoor opened and slammed shut behind him because he didn’t wait to lower it.
As soon as he was through the door, his eyes were on Pam’s bed.
He stared at it for a moment before he offered, “That actually makes me worry… less. Pam won’t let anything happen to Lynn.”
Sookie breathed, “It must have happened when I was focused on Erik. She was there when I sat down.”
He nodded. “I know. I scanned the saferoom for Lynn when she vanished.”
Sookie tossed herself onto my bed and groaned, “That settles it then… Pam’s been Pam longer than I’ve been me.”
I growled, “Would you mind elaborating for those of us who aren’t mind-readers?”
She pouted and reached out, finding my arm before grabbing a pillow and wrapping her arms around it. “We were taking guesses earlier. Faeries live freakishly long lives and the one story Gawain remembers with any specifics is about a guy who’d waited a century or two to get revenge on the guy who murdered him…”
Gawain added, “Lynn was hopeful, perhaps too hopeful, she’d encounter more Hadleys. I tried to offer some perspective without crushing her. The fact is… we don’t know how often this could happen.”
Sookie sighed, “Gawain told her, ‘it could happen again tonight, or you could have to wait a decade’.”
“Good. I’ll blame him.”
She snorted, “All this crap going on and you’re grumpy that he jinxed us? Nice… Anyway, we started brainstorming. The popular consensus is that the weirdness last night was Aunt Linda’s doing. Nothing else changed about anyone but her. Gawain’s been Gawain forever and he’s never seen the braid. His grandmother was a bystander once that he knows of…”
That made her earlier statement decipherable.
“And the braid happened between Aunt Linda and Hadley and nothing big’s happened to Hadley.”
“That theory held up until the moment Pam disappeared. Did stories of the braid ever include mentions of Vampire blood?”
Gawain actually cringed. “Not that I remember. I was always told to avoid Vampires at all costs if I wanted to live another day… I actually sent a message to my mother to tell her she was right after I was brought over.”
Sookie asked, “You think this could be a… If Faeries and Vampires don’t usually mix… you think something could have been left out of the stories?”
“Granted, I only gave my blood to Lynn to bring her over, but you’ve had my blood…”
She groaned, “And you, Gawain and Pam all had mine… Shit.”
When the fuck did they have her blood?
Gawain volunteered, “Pam wanted to taste the difference. I was curious myself. I’ve never been subject to the intoxication, possibly because of my own heritage…”
Sookie finished, “Pam acted like a Weight Watcher in a chocolate shop, like you did, but Gawain acted like a kid with a mountain of cold peas.”
Oh goody. We know Gawain isn’t likely to drain himself.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
There wasn’t anything to do but wait and hope neither of them were harmed.
Wait how long?
If they were harmed, would I know or would I be left to wonder what happened to them indefinitely?
The situation, my plethora of concerns…
It was all too maddening.
Anything could happen to them and I’d never know.
“What the fuck happens if one of them is ended!? Would there be a mysterious puddle left behind somewhere!? Would their remains return!?”
It was rhetorical… a waste of time to ask… If Gawain knew, he’d have already mentioned it.
While he paced, Sookie reached out to take my hand and offer, “Hadley was fine. We were confused as hell, but it isn’t like she was in danger.”
“FUCK HADLEY! She didn’t enter the braid before sunset! She isn’t a newborn who could succumb to famine and drain an innocent!”
Sookie jumped when I shouted, but her hand only tightened.
“I should just shut up, shouldn’t I?”
The last fucking thing I needed was a pep talk from a pseudo-Human when my children were missing.
After a moment, Gawain left, announcing his intention to prepare the kitchen for donations.
Blood to feed my missing newborn.
The one who might not return because there was no way for me to be sure of anything.
Hadley was completely unaware of her entrance to the braid. We’d come to the realization ‘it’ happened after she left her Pam and Sookie’s company, but before she tried to let herself into the Herveaux household.
If the transition was simple and unnoticeable, and Lynn was in the den, would she have suddenly been in another version of the same den? Hadley’s version? If so, Lynn would be fried because there was no reason for that version of this house to be light-proofed. Would she think clearly enough to make it to the trapdoor? Would she eventually jump over the privacy fence and drain the neighbors to recover from the burns??
“How hungry was she?”
Sookie answered quietly, “She wasn’t really. She wanted to have something in her stomach before the models get here. She plans to push herself to learn to feed because it isn’t as obvious as slicing wrists in the kitchen. She doesn’t want Maguire to see that.”
Providing Lynn ever returned from the braid to meet her grandson.
Far be it from me to argue against Sookie’s plans to break up with Alcide, but her point about the braid was moot considering it seemed as though Maguire was going to be familiar with the same insanity as her hypothetical Herveaux children would be.
Maguire attending school might have been a point in Lynn’s favor because she’d have the time to rest during the day, but the vanishing act meant she couldn’t be left alone with the boy. She’d need to have someone on standby indefinitely.
After several minutes, Sookie asked, “Is there anything I can do?”
“Bring them home.”
She sighed, “I wish I knew how,” and tightened her grip on my hand.
“Was Lynn lamenting about Hadley’s death?”
“No. We discussed it earlier, but when I got back from errands, she’d already called the funeral home, and she and Gawain were talking about other stuff… Why do you ask?”
“I complained that Faeries were a pain in the ass to catch because they escape by popping out of existence. He told me they only have to think of somewhere to leave one place and arrive in another. I hoped we’d have an idea of where Lynn went.”
After a moment, Sookie offered, “Well, when Lynn disappeared, she was surrounded by baby and parenting magazines because she was planning Maguire’s room… but…”
“But Pam wasn’t thinking when she disappeared because she was still dead…”
She sighed again, “Did y’all talk about anything before dawn?”
“She teased me for bringing over a Faerie, for having a Faepire friend… She rambled about the braid a bit.”
Sookie groaned, “So she died for the day thinking about the braid in general. You might be onto something.”
“Unfortunately, it seems like we’ll find out by trial and error eventually… if they return from this trip.”
She offered, “Do you just want to stay put? You could get dressed, feed… Gawain said to tell you the windows are blue, so I guess, you could help tap the models. It’ll kill a few more minutes.”
The sun was already that low? How fucking long had I been floundering? Panicking? Had I risen late?
“That might distract me for all of five minutes.”
She moved, pulling her knees up to sit next to me, sweeping her hair over her shoulder. “But it’s stuff that needs to be done. You didn’t get to go out last night and I doubt you want to leave when you’re waiting for them to come home.”
As much as I’d rather feed from Sookie when I could enjoy it, she was right.
If Pam returned and I was just lying around, anxiously waiting for her… she’d taunt me for how upset I was while she was in the ether. Not that I’d mind once she returned, as long as she returned, but she’d still tease me enough she could lose sight of why I was so concerned.
I asked, “Who else have you fed?”
She shook her head. “When Gawain and Pam tasted my blood, they just pricked my finger. You’re the only one.”
At least I didn’t have to worry about harming Sookie.
As I sat up, she leaned slightly and warned, “Don’t forget I’m blind. Just move me if you need to.”
It actually occurred to me that she’d accidentally invited nearly anything on herself, but I wasn’t in the mood to misbehave.
Preparing her neck didn’t push me either… Any other time, the way she whimpered into my ear would have been too encouraging.
But it was just a meal.
A much needed meal.
A much better flavor than I was used to.
But just a meal.
As I healed her marking, she breathed, “If that’s not a tell, I don’t know what is… I’m sorry I can’t help, Erik.”
“Of how worried you are… last night, you would’ve been forward, handsy even.”
She was right about that.
She half-smiled and put her hands on the sides of my face to help her find and kiss my cheek. “I’m sure.”
Sookie waited on my bed, staring at the ceiling while I dressed even though she couldn’t see anything…
It was actually amusing, but as I buttoned my jeans, our attention was simultaneously drawn to Pam’s bed.
Sookie gasped as we sensed Pam’s return… The insanity of the situation was only compounded by the fact that she reeked of chemo and fresh soil. She was completely smudged with dirt and clutching a grocery bag.
One down, one to go.
Pam sat up, raising an eyebrow at Sookie and sampling the air.
Did she really believe I’d think about my cock while she was missing?
At least she was happy, sound, perhaps even a bit excited…
I groaned (perhaps it was more of a heavy sigh of relief), “I hope you enjoyed yourself. I’m handcuffing us together before we die for the day. Am I safe to assume Lynn didn’t experience any major obstacles?”
“Lynn? Did she- Erik, I never saw her. Not our Lynn.”
“What do you mean you never saw her? She’s gone too… She disappeared within moments of you…”
Just as Gawain joined us, Pam shrugged. “I don’t know. I couldn’t even guess. I was in contact with you and Sookie’s family. If she was there too, I should have run into her.”
Fuck… that false sense of security… How the fuck was I supposed to enjoy Pam’s return when the braid seemed to have a liberal return policy?
Sookie pressed, “Maybe y’all were like ships in the night or some crap… What happened? What was it like? Did you see Hadley again?”
Pam nodded. “No, but I met her daughters, Misty and Jenny, and spent a fair amount of time drooling over your father. He’s mouthwatering.”
“We held our meeting outside because his scent… Good Lord…” She actually shivered. “Just standing in the doorway… anyway, his father had recently passed and his mother was gone as well. He was caring for Linda, secretly keeping Jackson Herveaux up to speed as well… Hadley was alive, but she’d dropped her children off with her uncle to babysit them for a job interview four days ago. Lovely little telepaths who thought I was the bees knees because they couldn’t hear my thoughts. They climbed all over me. Anyway, I used the phone and called my Maker to come out to meet the lovely Stackhouse family. It took some convincing, and only because he spoke to the other me and gave me a pop-quiz, but he took his new child to ground just before I went to rest.”
I pushed, “Details. Where did you rise? How did you fair?”
She shrugged. “Here… actually…” She nodded towards my bed. “There. I was at a loss for clothing, but I used the Audi in the garage to go to one of my houses for an ensemble. I have an indelible sense of style. While I was at my house, I called you and you were typically bored, and surprised to hear from me because I should have been ‘flipping every stone in Milan’ for another couple of days. Since everything was the same for us as it was a week ago, I explored, going out to Bon Temps. Linda’s house first, scaring the fuck out of the new owners. She sold her house and moved to ‘the family home’ to offset her medical expenses. Corbett was living there as well, tending to his sick sister…”
Sookie argued, “I wouldn’t make Daddy do that alone.”
“Apparently, you were attending university in San Francisco. Jason too. It was odd to hear you were raised elsewhere. Your parents didn’t die in a flood. They divorced and your mother remarried. You were… get this… your step-father was the Packmaster of Hotshot. Anyway, I explained who I was, and why I was there and your father looked like I hit him. I told him as much as I knew about you and Jason… then gave him the news of Brandon. He knew who the boy was because he’d run into his former flame at little league games. Given everything I knew, he carried Linda through the door for us. Also, I called our lawyer when he asked for a reference because he wanted to seek custody of Misty and Jenny. I knew by the way the little darlings stared at me they were telepathic. Apparently, your psycho-cunt mother sent you to an asylum of sorts and your father had forgotten the claims you used to make while you were younger as though it was a phase because you were fine once you were released… Fuck fuck fuck… I need my computer so I can type as much as I can before I die. I’m afraid to forget it all.”
Gawain beat the rest of us to ask, “What do you mean ‘die’?”
She rolled her eyes. “You know… when a HUMAN becomes a Vampire, they die at dawn and don’t rise again until sunset. Cocky day-walking Faepire.”
She left her bed and darted up the stairs, and returned just a moment later with her iBook.
She plugged in her charger and opened her computer to begin typing right away. Sookie was the one to ask, “You had a full night?”
She nodded as she typed, “Erik and I were racing the sun to dig the hole for him and Linda. I rushed into the house because I cut it so close. Sookie, I don’t know how you sold Erik so easily, but congrats. I would have called the other me to have me bring her over, but I was worried I wouldn’t have enough umph at my age.”
As ill as Lynn had been, she was probably right.
Sookie specified, “The sun just set.”
She looked up from her screen and asked, “It’s Wednesday already?”
I shook my head. “You were missing for one hour, not twenty five…” That long might have killed me. “Tuesday.”
She stared back at us, waiting for signs we were joking.
And we were all waiting for her to say something when the trapdoor opened and Lynn thundered down the stairs shouting, “Erik, Erik, Erik! Ohmigod, Erik!” When she entered the room, she blurted, “The braid, I was in it!”
I nodded and felt as though a huge weight had been lifted from my body.
They were home.
They were safe.
They were unharmed.
I wasn’t going to be comfortable with the braid unless I eventually experienced it myself, but having them back was enough for the time being.
“How did you fair?”
She lunged for me, hugging my neck and laughing, “You might just be the best thing to ever happen to my family!”
She reeked of sour milk and peanuts.
“You’re going to need to be more specific.”
She released me and stepped back. “I started by scaring the shit out of my son-in-law.”
“Shawn Ingram. He’s a Vampire… it was so weird. I closed my eyes trying to imagine different nursery colors for here. When I opened them, I was in a bedroom, in bed, with my poor son-in-law. He flipped his lid, while covering his junk, about me being a Vampire and argued that he’d just seen me the night before at Tammy’s birthday party and that you wouldn’t bring me over… It was so…”
Insanely happy. She was so elated, I felt drunk.
She continued, “So, you were playing this prank on Pam a couple of years ago, right? Hiding her clothes because she hid your books. You walked into the storage unit place and that’s when you met Sookie…”
Pam mumbled, “I remember that, asshole.”
I grumbled, “That would have been nice. Sookie smells much better than the ferret-keeper I dealt with.”
“You two hit it off right away and she’s your new pet, right… so you go nuts trying to figure out what she is because she smells yummy and doesn’t act like a normal teenager. She never acted her age though. So your sneaky ass tells her you’re a Vampire so she’ll tell you what she is, planning to glamour the Vampire detail away and ‘oops, can’t glamour her’… So she knows you’re a Vampire and you know she’s a telepath… but a telepathic what? You basically convene a mini-meeting with me and Momma and as soon as you hear about my citrus allergy, the light bulb comes on and you have yourself an ‘oh shit moment’. You put feelers out…”
She pulled a piece of paper from the back pocket of her jeans.
“Don’t laugh. It’s a habit because the chemo made my brain Swiss cheese… Niall Brigant.”
I asked, “What about him?”
“He’s my grandfather. Apparently, I’ve got Fae cousins in the area too. I totally forgot that my daddy used to tell me, what I thought were, fairy tales about feuding Fae princes. Turns out, they were about my grandfather and his brother…”
I hardly glanced at Gawain before he shook his head and offered, “I’ve never heard the name before. They have to be younger than me if he’s a prince.”
Just knowing I’d brought over Niall’s granddaughter… that could be an epic problem.
I nodded to Lynn to have her continue.
“Anyway, you get to the bottom of what we are and who we’re related to. Sookie called Me out on my ability… You figured out what was up Hadley’s ass and she did a complete 180° and got her shit together, but she was already pregnant. In the meantime, Shawn got brought over. When you found out his Maker brought him over, and kept him in the same Area where he lived with his family, and kept him a secret, you ended the fucker and sort of adopted Shawn. That’s how he met Hadley. By the time Hadley realized she was pregnant, she was already dating Shawn. Shawn’s got three little ones with his Human wife who he divorced instead of going through the rigmarole of faking his death. Tammy, Archer and Tucker, and he married Hadley and country-adopted that baby…”
Pam asked, “Country adopted?”
“He claimed the baby by putting his name on the birth certificate instead of doing the court thing. Hadley was partying really hard right up until she found out about her ability so she has no clue who the bio-dad really is. They named him Leif…”
Gawain chuckled, “Leif? You’re joking.”
Lynn scowled at him and thumbed in my direction. “Can you think of a better namesake for a child than the guy who saved the mother from herself, the guy who spared the daddy from a Maker they compared to some cockbag named Appius?”
I asked, “They compared Shawn’s Maker to Appius?”
Which one of my Maker’s beautiful characteristics was to thank for that comparison?
She nodded. “Yeah, who is…” She paused for a moment before cooing, “Oh honey…”
I didn’t really care what she envisioned… I interrupted, “What else did you learn?”
She nibbled her lip before continuing, “You saved my ass… when you heard about my endometriosis and that I’d been taking iron supplements for most of my life, you sent me to a Supe doc… Ludwig? She lied her ass off to get me the hysterectomy. Six months made the difference because I’m alive and cancer-free in that version too. I’m married to Jack and our kids get along like best friends and cousins should. In fact, Alcide, Jason and Brandon were ‘in the wild’ on a hunting trip and you and Sookie were watching Brandon’s little girl for him…”
“Me and Sookie?”
“MARRIED! Newlyweds! Can you believe that? There was a thing, with the press, because you’re the Area’s Mr. Big and they jumped to the conclusion that you were gearing up for nuptials… Y’all had fun fucking with them for a while, but eventually, y’all did the actual thing…”
Me? Married? That was fucking hilarious…
She dove onto my bed, landing next to Sookie and digging into her other pocket to remove photos.
“He’s so beautiful, Sook… Look at Leif…He’s just a little older than Maguire…”
Sookie slapped blindly and connected with Lynn’s shoulder. She grumbled, “I can’t see shit in this room, Vampire! Piggy-back me upstairs and show me!”
I reached into the bathroom and turned the light on. Sookie was already moving to saddle her aunt’s back.
“Wait. You went to a light-proof room and returned to one, yes?”
Lynn nodded. “Yeah. Shawn’s bedroom had a door on it like a photo-lab, and the windows were boarded over. And I went right back to the den… He’s such a sweetheart. I thought about it, while I was feeding Leif, and I think Shawn might have been the big deal about the braid. It didn’t seem like I had anything to offer them except Gawain. They kinda have a handle on the Fae thing and life in general, but Leif was playing on the floor and gave Tammy a look and told her ‘tanny’ and she went to the kitchen like she was on auto-pilot and brought back a candy bar. If it wasn’t for Gawain, I wouldn’t have thought about it. Shawn said that would explain why Momma always caved and gave him junk food when she watches him.”
“The reason for your visit could have been so we could be warned that you’re the granddaughter of a Faerie Prince who just so happens to be a complete pain in the ass.”
“Ummmm… for them, he’s shown up a couple of times. He even offered to kill you and Shawn for Sook and Hadley. Something about forcing a bond and worrying about their safety, but by the time he did, they could’ve been drained if y’all were like that. He basically showed up long enough to pretend to give a fuck and then dipped out again. They call him Prince Kramer.”
Pam was already laughing from her throat when Gawain asked, “What is that in reference to?”
Lynn giggled, “There’s a character named Kramer on a sitcom. He busts onto the set and makes a big ridiculous bravado without actually being any help. He’s just an annoying interruption.”
I nodded. “In a nutshell, that would be Niall… so you’re assuming Shawn, a Vampire I’ve never heard of, is the reason for your experience, yes?”
She nodded. “Did you… did you kill anyone, a newborn who asked? He said he went to you and tried.”
“I tried and tried, but every difference I thought of was either impossible for us or them to change. Even once I pointed out Leif’s ability, I couldn’t hear enough about Shawn… I guess he could have moved on… He said if you hadn’t ended Leland, he probably would have ended up cuffing himself to a tree at dawn.”
Leland… that son of a bitch.
I growled, “Pam, take a break from your typing to search for Shawn Ingram.”
She nodded and asked, “How old is he?”
“He’ll be two years in May.”
Gawain blurted, “You let a newborn Vampire that young have contact with his children and fuck a Fae!?”
No I didn’t. Another me did that… fucking insane.
Lynn held her hand up as though she was in elementary school. “I’m no pro or anything, but he was fine. He gorged on bagged blood. He’s bonded with his empathic wife. She’s been taking the edge off for him from the night they met. Erik told me Shawn has so much control of his hunger they thought it might be a quiet gift or something at first. Oh, and news… newborns give two shits about Faerie blood. They don’t know it from B-negative. It’s different for y’all older guys because it’s rare to you, but Shawn was none the wiser…. OH! And there’s a connection between Brandon and Shawn. Brandon’s mom is friends with…”
Pam finished by reading grimly…
“Patricia Ingram. Age 34. Mother of Tamara, Tucker and Archer Ingram. Her tragic death last week rocked the small community of Minden. Patty entered the Quick Shop on Bolton Highway to pay for fuel when a masked man walked into the convenience store just behind her. The cashier noticed the suspect and triggered the silent alarm, but the assailant lifted his weapon and fired one shot into Mrs. Ingram’s head, killing her instantly and leaving the scene without making any demands. This mysteriously vicious act is only made more tragic by the fact that Patty’s husband, Shawn Ingram, disappeared just three months ago. If you have any information regarding… yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah…”
Sookie whimpered, “He tried to see his babies and his Maker taught him a lesson.”
It was similar to the lesson I was threatened with.
I took my phone from my nightstand and dialed… and I actually thought to turn the speaker on so Sookie could eavesdrop with the rest of the peanut gallery.
Which reminded me… “Lynn, why do you smell like sour milk and peanuts?”
She answered quickly, “Leif barfed. We had too much fun on the swing set.”
I’d already decided I didn’t want details when the phone was answered, “Hello?”
After a pause, the voice answered, “Yeah. Who’s this?”
If it was Leland, he wouldn’t have asked, but Lynn was already shaking her head.
After another long pause, Shawn answered, “I think you have the wrong number.”
“Shawn, Sheriff Nordmann calling. Where is your Maker?”
After yet another long pause, he offered, “I haven’t seen him in over a year.”
He still had so much to learn.
“Do you realize how much your hesitation says? You ended your Maker after he murdered your Human wife, yes?”
He actually didn’t answer at all. He didn’t even make any noises to suggest he was trying to answer.
“Would it help things along if I explained how easy it would be for me to find Tammy, Tucker and Archer?”
“Oh fuck! No! What do you want from me!?”
“What became of your children, Shawn? I’m sure you watched them long enough to find out.”
Before he could finish trying to formulate another lie, a tiny voice demanded, “Daddy, op’et.”
“You have your children?”
“I… I… I had too. Leland killed my wife. They were going to be in foster care if I didn’t do something!”
“And what did you do, exactly?”
“I went to friends and told them what was going on. They got custody of them for me and we live together. They take care of them during the day for me.”
Fuck! Were his friends at least Weres?
“You exposed Vampires because you were too selfish to allow your children to live in a foster home?”
“I had to do something.”
“What if your friends went to reporters?”
“They wouldn’t do that. I’ve known them for years.”
“Shawn, bring your friends and your children to me and let me be the judge of that…”
“Look! They’ve got custody! If you’re gonna end me for ending Leland…”
It wasn’t often high fives came to mind.
“Who said I’d do that?”
“Just don’t do it in front of my kids.”
“If I want to stake you, Shawn, I’ll do it whenever the fuck the mood strikes me. You don’t exist. You have no Sheriff. You have no way to protect yourself… And you can’t go anywhere because all I have to do is email your DMV photo to every Vampire I know, and eventually, you’ll be delivered to me.”
“I’ll come, but I’ll come alone.”
“Shawn, if my intention was to end you, you wouldn’t have risen at home. Even if you thought to give your house a Human owner, which I doubt, I have Weres and Humans in my retinue who would happily drag you past the threshold for me.”
He breathed, “Human owner? Oh shit.”
The poor bastard hadn’t had a Maker long enough to learn much of anything… Not that I had any faith that Leland would have been decent Maker before I heard about Shawn.
“Tell me, did you contact the local coven to have them author a ward for your property?”
“Are you aware that frequent glamouring can result in the Human’s retardation?”
He whimpered, “Oh Jesus.”
“Do you have scheduled deliveries from the blood bank or do you prey on neighbors and glamour them to forget you fed from them?”
He cleared his throat. “I, uh… bars. I take them to a quiet parking lot and feed, then I take them back to their cars.”
At least he’d been doing that correctly.
“How many victims have you disposed of?”
“None. Leland’s the only person I’ve ever killed.”
“I’ll see you in two hours…”
While I gave him directions to Glamour, Pam and Lynn abused me with their disapproval.
Pam breathed, “You can’t expect him to take a three-year old to Glamour. Have him come here.”
“Where we rest?”
“Like it matters? You’re adopting him.”
Yes, of course I was adopting him. He was a two-year old Vampire who probably didn’t know the difference between Dae and Fae… It wasn’t until a few nights ago that I knew what a hybrid smelled like… I wouldn’t force him away from his family, not after what his Maker had done, but if he was going to reside in my Area, he was going to know what the fuck he was doing.
Three different braid experiences in a 24-hour period was a bit much, but given that the focus seemed to be on Lynn and her family, it was safe to say Lynn was the Fae responsible.
Hopefully, the braid will only interfere for a short time while comeuppance and enlightenment get its share of attention… and then it’ll stop.
How many versions of the braid could there be?
There had to, eventually, be an end to the reasons for the braid.
Pam used the downstairs bathroom to shower, and Gawain followed Lynn upstairs when she left the safe-room to shower. His excuse to follow her was to finish preparing the kitchen, but I was sure he intended to ask for details even though we decided ‘show and tell’ would happen after Lynn fed.
Pam’s mysterious little grocery bag full of treasures and Lynn’s collection of photos had everyone’s curiosity, especially since Pam and Lynn agreed their souvenirs from the braid would help convince Adele and Jason.
And I’d forgotten, with all of the stress caused by my vanishing children, Adele and Jason would be arriving shortly to be informed of Hadley’s death and Maguire’s existence.
But that, I could be distracted from…
Easily distracted given that Sookie had been stranded in the darkness of my room.
Sookie whimpered, “Oh shit,” as I walked towards her.
“Why ‘oh shit’? You didn’t mind being alone with me before.”
She scooted back and answered, “Your head was close to exploding. I didn’t want you to be alone… Now that they’re home, safe and sound, you’re back to your old self and…”
She stopped when I leaned over the bed, crawling towards her slowly.
She scooted back again and sighed, “And you’re a damn fiend.”
“Still worried about a scarlet letter when you’re planning to dispose of your cousin-lover?”
She giggled and faked a gag. “You jerk. Do have any idea how hard it is to not think about that? It was already creeping around in the back of my head.”
“That’s two versions we know of. Two Sookies who think of Alcide as a cousin.”
I took her ankle and pulled her to me until she was laying flat… she stared up at my chest from under me for a moment before finding my arms and following them up to my shoulders.
She was laughably anxious.
She blurted, “How old were your parents? How old were you?”
“Why do you ask?”
“Because Gawain was wondering, but he said it’s not polite to ask… Nevermind that he talks about my boyfriend’s anatomy like he’s- Shit. Off-topic… He’s wondering if you were Fae too because Pam got pulled into the braid.”
Her lack of concentration was hilarious.
“I doubt I was a hybrid. We had no abilities to speak of. My parents didn’t appear younger or more attractive than their peers. I only remember one of my grandparents because the others died young of simple illnesses that could probably be easily treated now. My father was a Jarl, but because he was more calculating than brutal. We were all quite normal… Also relay to Gawain… if Pam was Fae, she was adopted. Her parents were so hideous I assumed she was a fluke of genetics. Her mother would have been more at home in a sty and her father looked like his eyes were melting…”
Without a delay, I could hear Gawain laugh upstairs.
“Did he hear that… live?”
She nodded. “I told you, we’ve been playing with our telepathy.”
“That’s not fair. What can I play with?”
I chuckled, “I’d rather play with you.”
She snorted, “We don’t even have time to do the rejection dance.”
“But Sookie, we’re married.”
She slapped my shoulders and cackled, “I knew you wouldn’t wait long to use that! Oh my gawd!”
“Jokes aside…” I watched as she forced the smile from her face to fake seriousness. “Should I leave you alone?”
She was suddenly genuinely serious.
“What do you mean?”
“If you aren’t interested, just tell me. I don’t enjoy wasting my time.”
“You’re asking because you can tell if I’m full of crap.”
“I’m asking because I don’t know if you’re a constant flirt as Hadley described.”
“I’m not a flirt. Eye contact isn’t flirting.”
No, but giggling at my advances instead of telling me to fuck off, the way she worked my wrist like it was a cock the night before, and not making an effort to leave my room… that could be considered flirting.
“Eye contact isn’t flirting, fair enough, but you have been flirting with me.”
“And telling you to back off is that simple, huh?”
“It would be disappointing, perhaps surprising, but yes… it’s that simple.”
Intimidation wasn’t a method of foreplay I enjoyed.
She closed her eyes and sighed, making me wait for her answer… and her emotions weren’t offering any clues. If I had to guess, I’d say she was silently making a mental list, possibly pros and cons.
Given my wake-up call earlier, and all of the stress and perspective it delivered, I waited patiently and enjoyed my view…
Puddle of blonde hair behind her head, the thoughtful crease in her brow, the way her chest moved as she breathed…
And then there was her heartbeat again.
When she opened her eyes, she was chewing on her lip… but she continued to stare at me for a moment.
That, the way she looked up at me, was a chore to suffer.
When she finally moved, I assumed she was leaving and I had my answer…
But she stretched up and caught my lip between her teeth.
She didn’t seem to notice or care that my fangs had run down, or that she’d cut her lip…
Unlike when I fed from her, barely an hour earlier, I struggled to control myself.
It was as though I hadn’t just fed.
And the way she rolled her tongue against mine, only reminded me of how long it had been since I fucked.
Fisting her hands in my hair, pulling my legs closer with hers… and when she ran out of air, I enjoyed every inch of skin between her mouth and her neck…
And her signal for me to stop, tugging my hair just as I stretched her shirt and bra out of my way, might as well have been a kick to the balls.
I wanted so much more.
I growled, “You’d better not be punishing me for misunderstanding second base.”
She panted, “I’m not.”
“Then why are we stopping?”
“Because we still have a boyfriend to break up with… and we have a hungry child upstairs. The models are here.”
No. No. No.
“You’re going to abstain until you break up with him.”
Forcing her fucking ethics onto me.
She scowled. “You’re right. I can keep him for days and you for nights. Like makeup. I’m sure that won’t hurt him at all.”
When I pushed away from her, I wasn’t just growling at her sarcasm… I was growling at the icy sensation left in her wake.
“How long do you intend to string both of us along?”
She shoved herself from the mattress to find the wall and use it to lead herself to the stairwell, mumbling, “Oh that’s awesome. Let’s be a bitch. That makes blue-balls easier.”
I was going to have to settle for one of the sweaty drunks at Glamour… maybe three.
She fumbled for the doorknob and growled, “I’m meeting him later. Happy?”
“Not quite. Were you planning to fuck him or reject him?”
She snorted, “Did you just ask me if I’m giving Alcide ‘one for the road’?”
“No. I was asking if you were planning to fuck him because I’d rather fuck desperate dance-floor fodder than test the lubricative properties of Were cum as your sloppy-second.”
His scent would ruin hers… Just the idea of it made me cringe.
She stopped and stared into the room for a moment before the doorbell rang.
She turned to begin making her way up the stairs and scoffed, “That’s what you’d call ‘saved by the bell’, prince charming. Have fun with your fodder.”