Three nights of boredom and hope…
Three nights of feeling how close Pam was, but being too insulated by dirt to hear much of anything… only the occasional hints of conversation or movement in the house.
Since Pam arrived, I’d been rattled by her mood. She was anxious and annoyed…
After centuries together, she had to know she was irreplaceable… but I’d be lying if I said the ‘only child’ behavior was a complete surprise. She enjoyed being a spoiled brat and I never did anything to discourage it. I had to assume she was afraid something would change between us.
For three nights, I contemplated, hoping once Pam spent some time with Linda they could become friends rather than rivals…
My only real conclusions after three nights with nothing to do but think, considering how family oriented Linda was, I doubted she’d deliberately try to make waves.
The last hour before sunset on the third night was the most miserable and disorienting of them all. I couldn’t even be sure it had been a full hour before I began clawing my way out of the soil.
I couldn’t really say I cared either.
Clowns, spiders, heights… there were plenty of phobias Humans complain about that amused Vampires… taphophobia wasn’t one of them. We understood the repulsion too well.
And the cliché of emerging hand first just made going to ground that much worse. Without a sense of time, older Vampires who rose before sunset had to test to be sure the sun had set enough to not harm them.
As soon as I pushed my hand through the surface, I heard Gawain’s muffled chuckling… and the clown sang Thriller until I pushed through.
He was sitting with his back against one of the support beams for the deck above. “Rumpelstiltskin.”
“I’m guessing. Is that the password to your secret fort?”
There was a plush cobalt blue robe waiting where Linda had left her neatly folded clothing. The elaborate bow in white satin ribbon was completely Pam.
I joined him, leaning against another support beam, and chuckled, “Close enough. Have you been wreaking havoc on my Area while I’ve been otherwise engaged?”
“We’ve had our moments. Your little houseguest has made things interesting.”
“Sookie? What did she do?”
“Other than the fact that she’s a telepathic Fae hybrid, you mean?”
I nodded. “I knew she was a telepath, but not that she’s Fae. Did you taste her?”
He shook his head. “When we arrived, Liz was less than pleased that you’d already gone to ground and even more annoyed that you’d let a Human know where you were resting… She filled her time by pumping Sookie for information about your new child… Sookie’s ability was reason enough to suspect Fae, but hearing Linda had an unfortunate reaction to citrus lent that much more to the suspicions…” That would have solidified it for me too. “We drove to the tiny town they live in. After inspecting Linda’s closet, Liz has been shopping with Sookie to update Linda’s wardrobe…”
“At least she’s kept herself busy… What have you been doing? Basking in the humidity?”
He nodded. “If I’d realized… It’s so fucking cold in Helsinki… Having errands was a great excuse to enjoy the weather.”
“What errands did you run?”
He gave me a level stare. “Seeing as you’ve seen fit to expose Vampires to Humans…”
“One Human, Gawain. The grateful woman who would have lost her child. Sookie is telepathic and the boyfriend is a Wolf. It’s not as though one woman is impossible to glamour if she has a change of heart.”
“Which is why I visited Adele.”
“Adele? You’re on a first name basis with Linda’s mother?”
He snorted, “When she opened the door, I introduced myself as a Vampire… She lunged at me.”
“With a stake?”
I laughed, “You’re joking.”
He shook his head. “What’s more, she asked how old I am… That little wench knew who I was as soon as I answered her.”
“It’s not as though there are many Gawains, asshole. What do you expect?”
“Right. Few Gawains indeed. I’m inconceivably old to a Human. Yes yes, I see the segue. She might have guessed even if I’d lied about my age… Care to compute the odds of how many people, regardless of background, would ask if I gave Geoffrey credit for Historia Regum Britanniae or if I just assisted him?”
Impressive… and I couldn’t help but laugh at the look on his face.
“I’ve been informed the Stackhouse family very much enjoys classic literature. Adele’s a bit of a History enthusiast as well. She belongs to a club that focuses on the American Civil War and its social and economic impacts. Linda joked that she wouldn’t be able to introduce her mother to her ‘Vampire friends’ because Adele would cross examine them about their pasts… What did you learn from Adele Stackhouse?”
“When she was finished molesting me, you mean?”
I nodded. “Yes. I don’t care to hear those details. Your fetishes are your business.”
He rolled his eyes, but a moment later he faked a gag. “At her age…” Another gag. “At least that helped bump your adorable little houseguest out of my mind for a moment. But…” Another gag. “She bowed and scraped, thanking me most egregiously for saving her daughter’s life… Of course, I corrected her. ‘Eric the North Man is your champion,’ I said. ‘I’m only one of his faithful brothers in arms,’ I told her…”
Suddenly, I fully understood the term ‘drama queen’.
“Could you be more theatrical?”
He nodded. “Always. I told her it pleased me how liberally she doled out hugs, because you love hugs.”
I snorted, “Asshole. Did you learn anything or not?”
“She’s Human. She’s quite sociable and clever, not just ‘for a farmer’s wife’… Apparently, as Sookie is a telepath and always suffered a certain stigma, she encouraged Sookie to read anything with supernatural subtexts… They learned Sookie’s not a Vampire or a Werewolf.”
I chuckled, “That’s good to know.”
“I was surprised I didn’t have the urge to glamour her as soon as she opened her mouth. She was actually quite entertaining.”
“Good to know. Linda’s excited to introduce us.”
“The same couldn’t be said for the Wolf… He’s wound tighter than you are.”
Nevermind that Herveaux was allowed to be on edge given that he’d already watched his wife wither because of a cancer similar to his lover’s… I wasn’t wound tightly!
“I really missed you.”
He blew a kiss at me and continued, “He wants to see her. He wants to apologize for sending you and explain how scared he was to lose her…”
“He’s assuming I made off with her, escaping into the night, yes?”
He nodded and laughed, “Of course he does. There wouldn’t be any fun in it for me if he knew she had the choice!”
There was a sudden groaning under the soil…
Even though there were still a few minutes until the sun was completely set, Linda was beginning to stir… and she was not amused by Gawain’s fuckery.
I chuckled in Linda’s direction and offered, “There’s no point in struggling. You’ll come back to yourself slowly… Gawain, you should go.”
“I need to talk to you first.”
“Is Pam upset enough to have said something to you?”
“Yes, but I’m concerned, knowing what Linda is… She’s a hybrid, Erik. Her illness could have changed the rules, but… She’s going to be much stronger than a newborn should be. And her blood could taste more of Fae now than it did when she was well.”
“I’ll take your word for it. Taking her blood was a chore, but if Sookie’s flavor is any indication, I can only imagine… Do you know of another former hybrid, or is this just based on reports you’ve heard?”
“I was a hybrid… Half. Of course, my scent was Vampire bait. I’d gotten a flesh wound while sparring and it attracted my Maker… If Sulis hadn’t been so greedy to want more, and intoxicated enough to assume I’d still taste of Fae once I rose, I’d have been nothing more than a feeding… I rose stronger than her even though she was centuries old. She was pleasantly surprised to be right that I still tasted of Fae… In a stroke of self-preservation, I ended her after years of being tapped like a common pet. She was a fucking goddess before bringing me over, but all I knew of her was what she became. She went mad. She stopped feeding from Humans to have me gorge and then feed her. You do not want to become a mockery of the life you’ve led.”
I’d known that… the bones of it… That he’d ended his Maker in self-defense after being mistreated. There was no fondness to the few occasions he’d spoken of her. Of course, I assumed Sulis had used him the same way Appius used me.
“That’s it. You’ve broken one of the rules to my secret fort. Sharing is for shopping with the girls. Take your handbag when you leave.”
“Don’t be flippant. Not on one of the rare occasions I’m being serious… I’m using my somber voice and everything… What abilities did Linda have while she was alive?”
“I’m not sure what it is… My first impression was that she was telepathic like Sookie. Linda was sleeping and Sookie tried to wake her so I could speak to her… Sookie read Linda’s thoughts and perfectly narrated the moment when I discovered Pam. She quoted what Pam said to her maid.”
“She had a vision of your past?”
I nodded. “A very detailed recounting from the sound of it. She’d only just returned from the hospital after a treatment. Sookie excused it as a drug induced dream… I suspect it’s been chalked up as an active imagination, but… Lady Winifred Kendal.”
He snorted, “This should be interesting… If she was seeing into the past before she was brought over, I can only imagine her ability as a Vampire.”
“Rising early isn’t enough?”
“No. I doubt she’ll die for the day. I never have. We probably woke her… but she’ll still have to avoid sunlight.”
“Lovely. She was already concerned she’d become bored waiting to be unleashed.”
“That could just be me though. It’s not as though I know of more like me.”
“And what gifts do you have?”
He eyed me carefully for a moment before huffing, “You could call it pushing… Glamouring, a puppeteer, without the eventual retardation. I’m telepathic now. And your little friend told me how to catch you lying.”
I chuckled, “That might be useful information if I was in the practice of lying to you.”
“I think it’s very useful, considering I’ve been justified to have trusted you for so many years.”
“Fair enough… any other news?”
“Liz is worried that you’ve opted to make another child to inspire some independence on her part, that you’re pushing her to strike out on her own… Fragile little daddy’s girl, you have there. I’m sure all she needs is to be included.”
“Hence the shopping and preparing, yes?”
He nodded. “She’s livid that she’s had to wait three nights. She’s in a ‘holding pattern’. She’s ordered several items, but without knowing where Linda will be staying, she doesn’t know what to do beyond that. She wanted to have a resting place prepared for Linda. Sookie, precious little advocate that she is, has done her best to assure Liz her aunt is very ‘low maintenance’ and doesn’t expect the to-do.”
“I think we’ll be staying here for a while. There’s plenty of room for more furnishings in the saferoom.”
“And there’s nearly a furlong between houses. The quiet will be good for Linda while she adjusts.”
“That’s what I was thinking… Anything else?”
He raised his voice slightly to offer, “Sookie’s a tiger in the sack, a growler. Grrrrrrr… Of course, I had to loosen her up with half of a bottle of rum, but it was completely worth it. She easily ranks in my Top 100, if not 20.”
He was lying… and again, Linda wasn’t amused.
I chuckled, “You’d better run. She has an assault charge on her record.”
Gawain whined, “But I like our secret fort. Liz has been shopping for three nights. Nary a place to sit indoors.”
“You’re just prying at this point. Go. Tell Pam she has nothing to worry about. Leave Linda to rise in peace.”
He rolled his eyes as he stood and made a show of sulking as he left.
As soon as Linda’s hand emerged from her grave, I grabbed it… She might not have wanted my help, but getting a solid footing in loose soil was probably responsible for quicksand fallacies.
I hadn’t been wrong… She held my hand but didn’t pull against it as though she wanted to be lifted even though she was exasperated…
“At least you’re vertical… Lift one knee as high as you can, and then step down… you’re packing the dirt down in absurdly small increments, but you only have to struggle until your head and shoulders are clear.”
Something about that amused her, but she only spent a few more moments underground… She spit out a mouth full of dirt and rolled her eyes at herself as she continued to climb… But she stopped, releasing my hand to brace her elbows under herself.
She looked absolutely stunning. Even through the filth she was radiant.
She made a disgusted face and spit more dirt before groaning, “Your house was actually clean enough for my standards. I’m not tracking all this grime through it.”
She’d successfully usurped her illness… rising as a Vampire, her first concern was tracking dirt in my house.
I laughed, “Fuck the house, Linda. How do you feel?”
She beamed, “Other than how desperately I want to brush my teeth? My God, Erik… I don’t think I’ve ever felt so good.”
“Good… You look incredible… I chose this house, in part, because of the lake. We can rinse off with a short swim and there’s a tunnel from the boathouse to a room with a bath.”
She smiled and continued her climb. “Alright then… Lead the way, chief.”
I took her new robe and turned to leave. “Keep in mind, you have to close your throat. Don’t swallow any water.”
“K… Why not?”
“Because if you swallow anything but blood, you’ll heave and retch violently.”
“Awwww hellllllll, if I’d known I was never gonna eat or drink anything but blood again, I would have stuffed myself until I split yesterday…”
I corrected, “Three days ago.”
“Right… I can’t be pissed about it though. I feel like…” She paused for a moment and snorted, “Erik, I feel like the lies they tell dying people. Those deathbed promises you tell your loved ones… about being pain-free and young again. I feel… energized… I had endometriosis since I was in high school, so that slowed me down. I was lucky to have one baby, but after she was born the endometriosis got much worse… Carrey ran off because he couldn’t handle it. He found himself a woman whose plumbing worked the way it was supposed to…”
I snorted, “I wouldn’t have guessed you’d excuse being abandoned.”
She rolled her eyes and offered, “I married a weak man for stupid reasons. We were in love and love fixes everything when you’re kids. I kinda got what I paid for. You think I should still be having a pity-party nineteen years later?”
“Besides, my health aside, our marriage exceeded the life expectancy of any couple who tied the knot right out of high school. At least we had the chance to want a baby before it just happened like most kids… Carrey’s a long story.”
“I’m sure you’ll have plenty of time to tell me everything.”
Her smile pulled her cheeks into tight little apples and her eyes rimmed with blood.
As we stopped at the bulkhead, she pointed, “Just jump in?”
“Feet first. It’s not deep enough for diving here.”
She hissed at the coolness of the water as soon as she dropped in, but she ventured into the lake in search of deeper water.
“I guess I can’t get hypothermia, huh?”
I left her robe on the embankment and waded into the water behind her, offering, “There are things that can injure and weaken us, but you won’t ever be as much as ‘under the weather’ again.”
Once the water was to her waist, she pinched her nose and closed her mouth, falling back to submerge herself…
I couldn’t help but be amused by how much Linda enjoyed something as simple as a swim. I was going to have to remind myself her spirit had been a prisoner in a deteriorating body.
While Linda enjoyed the fact that she no longer breathed, staying underwater for several minutes, I realized we were being watched.
Gawain and Pam were studying us closely while Sookie sobbed with most of her face hiding behind her hands.
Knowing Gawain and Pam would hear me, I offered, “Tell her Linda hasn’t drowned at least.”
Pam was smirking when she offered, “Sookie isn’t upset. She’s been weeping since she saw Linda cross the yard. Sookie is excited to see Linda so ‘healthy’.”
Of course she was.
Linda emerged from the water and asked, “Are you talking to me?”
I shook my head and pointed towards the deck. “The peanut gallery.”
Linda looked at her audience and waved happily, mumbling under her breath, “Damn… She’s prettier than I imagined… just gorgeous.”
I chuckled, “She knows.”
“How long before I can see Sookie?”
“Your meal should arrive while we shower. I doubt you’ll be a danger to her once you’re gorged.”
She nodded thoughtfully for a moment. “So this is gonna kinda be a routine, huh? We get up for the night, then hookers for dinner…”
She snorted, “PoTAYto/poTAHto, pal… Eat first, then visit?”
I nodded. “As long as everything goes well, yes.”
“And if Gawain’s right about me not dying like normal Vampires… I can call them during the day too.”
Innocently hopeful. Nibbling her lip.
“I don’t see why not.”
She raised an eyebrow and pointed towards the boathouse. “There, right?”
I nodded, but she’d already began swimming towards the boathouse.
I called, “Pam, have Sookie call her grandmother with an update. Linda will call later.”
Pam relayed, “Erik said to call Gran. Linda can call once she’s bathed and fed.”
Without more than a whimper, Sookie turned and darted into the house as quickly as her legs could carry her.
Of course Gawain pulled his phone from his pocket… even if he hadn’t blown another kiss at me, I could hear the 2-1-2 area code…
He was calling our friends.
Linda made Batman jokes as we passed through the ‘Bat-Tunnel’ to the ‘Bat-Cave’ until I explained I’d kept the house because of them. I briefly explained that Vampires and their politics made escape strategies necessary… but she said she was still going to call it the ‘Bat-Cave’ for a while.
And Pam was waiting when Linda and I emerged from the closet that concealed the opening.
And dated as it was, Gawain’s ‘nary a place to sit’ comment was all to true. The bed was covered with shopping bags.
“Pam Ravenscroft… Linda Delahoussaye.”
Linda asked, “Ravenscroft?”
Before Pam could explain, I offered, “Pam was born and raised in Cumbria, England. When I brought her over, she changed her name to Sarah Clifton. Clifton is in Cumbria. When she changed her name to Elizabeth, she used Pennington, also in Cumbria… Ravensglass and Crofton…”
Linda nodded, “Gotcha. Seems kinda gothic is all, maybe a little cliché… Have you read those Anne Rice books?”
Pam sighed, “It wasn’t intended. I chose the name in the early 80s. I used Elizabeth Pennington until we reinvented ourselves… Have you thought of your new name yet?”
Of course Pam would assume Linda would want to change her name.
I argued, “There’s nothing wrong with her name.”
Linda snorted, “My ass. I’d rather shit in my hands and clap than carry my ex-husband’s name around forever.”
Pam smirked and cooed, “You could have changed it before you died… Gawain said you’re planning to stay here on the lake, so I began unpacking the items I bought…”
Linda interrupted, “That’s really sweet, but Sookie told you I’m a low-maintenance broad, right?”
Pam nodded. “Everything can be returned, but your closet was full of cheap clothing that would stand out to a Vampire. Your Maker has an image to keep… Vampires are pretentious and they’ll assume your choice in clothing has some bearing on Erik’s finances, oh, and they have nothing better to do than gossip… Not good. Sookie talked me out of formalwear, but we’ll need to see to that soon. Fundraiser season is upon us. I simply upgraded your basics because Sookie said you’re ‘at home in jeans and Ts’.”
I explained since Pam’s point was hiding under designer labels. “Technically, I’m in a position of power… but I’m actually more of a warden. I’m one of four Sheriffs of Louisiana. I only answer to the Queen. My thralls know I’m strict in regards to my policies because my child doesn’t step out of line. One of the conditions to residing in my Area…”
“What’s your Area? You said there’s only four of you. Is that the state or… Wow. I’m going to need a notebook, aren’t I?”
“My Area, Area 5, is officially fifteen parishes in Northwestern Louisiana, but the Sheriff of the Area to the east is a useless whiner who sends his miscreants to me. Gervaise doesn’t climb off of his pets long enough to be bothered with his job. Cleo is the Sheriff of Area 3. A friend of ours, Salome, is Sheriff of Area 2. The Queen rules the state from her own Area. Area 1 is New Orleans.”
“K. Sorry. I’m just trying to get the bigger picture. You were saying, conditions of living in your Area…”
I nodded and continued, “When a Vampire checks into my Area, they’re required to file a will with me and name me as executor. It serves multiple purposes, including that they’re naming possible co-conspirators, lackeys, contacts, siblings, Makers, children and comrades. What Pam is trying to impress upon you is that it isn’t wise to trust your estate to someone who appears to be suffering financially. If you dress in inexpensive clothing or drive a battered, aged car, it could cause my thralls to question the wisdom of entrusting me to execute their wills.”
Pam added, “And with the possible chaos involved in the pending announcement, that could be very bad. If Humans, even a small group of them, lash out and begin staking Vampires, Erik needs to know who to remit their estates to.”
“We weren’t in the Area for long before a hurricane ended a nest of Vampires. Seven of them. After six months of searching for heirs, the Queen inherited everything.”
Linda took a deep breath and sighed, “Alright… but… okay… so I should think of it as a uniform so I don’t get hung up on the fact that I’d never spend a hundred dollars on a pair of jeans.”
It was cute that she thought Pam would have bothered with jeans that cost so little.
I chuckled, “Yes… and you’ll have a ‘company car’ as well. Next time, you can do your own shopping, but Pam was anxious and medicated with her favorite drug.”
Linda giggled, “Y’all could’ve started with that. I craft when I’m nervous… now I need some yarn so I don’t freak out about how I’m supposed to behave.”
“That’s easy. You’ll behave like yourself when it’s just us, and a select number of friends. We have plenty of time to discuss etiquette while you’re adjusting.”
Pam offered, “And Sookie brought your knitting bag from your house. She sent Bobby for yarn.”
Linda beamed and cooed, “God bless that girl.”
Pam nodded, “She went on and on about how you’d get bored if you didn’t have anything to do… Go shower. Your supper should be here shortly.”
As soon as Pam pointed to the bathroom, Linda moved…
She flipped the switch for the light but then turned around. “I… I didn’t even realize it… there wasn’t any light, but…”
I nodded as I finished for her. “But you could see perfectly? I know. Do you consider night vision cliché?”
She scoffed, “No! It’s fucking amazing.”
“Reserve that judgment until later. The other side of the coin could be your bane. You could feel blinded by even the dimmest light. How is your hearing?”
She seemed to think about it for a moment before offering, “Good. I think. Yeah. I mean, I can’t hear anything right now and when we were still outside, nothing really jumped out at me.”
As soon as Linda closed the door behind herself, Pam sighed, “If this is a joke, it’s horrible.”
“Why would you think it’s a joke? Gawain’s been with you. If nothing else, he should have sensed deceit in Sookie.”
“As we drove to Bon Temps, I realized why I recognized the name of the shithole. It’s where you hid my clothes when I stole your books… I mentioned it to Sookie and she thought it was a hilarious coincidence because she used to work at the very storage facility you…”
I shook my head to end her paranoia. “I dealt with a nasty little troglodyte who reeked of ferrets.”
“So you actually responded to the pleas of a drunken Were?”
“I’ve never even heard of it happening… Yes, I was curious enough. I was expecting to encounter a woman with no redeeming qualities. She hadn’t remarried since her husband left her. Her own daughter ran away from home. She had a job at a chicken processing plant. On paper, she seemed to be a stereotypical underachiever with a dysfunctional family. I was prepared to call the Were and point out Linda’s flaws and tell him he’d get over her loss… I expected her to be too withered to benefit. Instead I found her struggling to walk, but insisting on carrying herself. I expected to find a simpleton who couldn’t as much as spell Shakespeare, but I found someone who could quote several scenes while on heavy doses of narcotics…”
Pam started laughing in her throat. “Jesus Erik. It’s a good thing we didn’t move to New York. As close as the boys are to Broadway, you’d have found a new child on every street corner.”
“Very funny… Don’t try to deny how exceptional it is for this Area though. I’m not even sure Shakespeare is part of the curriculum in Louisiana. If you want to point fingers, blame Sookie. She’s very persuasive.”
She nodded. “I noticed. Lovely D-cups. I’m really bitter that she’s so firm on her heterosexuality.”
“I’m sure… Gawain told me you’ve been keeping yourself busy.”
She nodded. “Clothing basics are taken care of. Her house and its expenses have been covered. Sookie fought tooth and nail to keep me from buying a car. Apparently, Linda’s brother bought the station wagon for her so she refuses to let it go. The refrigerator is as full of bagged blood as possible. I’m still close to shitting over the fact that Sookie doesn’t have an aversion to seeing it next to her lunch meat. And a week’s worth of donors are lined up. How, you ask? I’m glad you did. Sookie did it. Apparently, since you proved that Vampires can feed from Humans without harming them, she suggested a casting call. Every night for the next week, ten models, male and female over the age of 18, are interviewing for a chance to be in the brochures for vacation rental properties on Cross Lake. Sookie says, ‘Strippers do drugs and my aunt isn’t eating crap’.”
Of course she would.
I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Thank you for seeing to Linda’s needs while I was with her.”
“I didn’t have anything else to do… I imagine we should re-appropriate some of the furniture from upstairs to make her more comfortable down here. Gawain seems really sure Linda won’t die for the day.”
“Perhaps the den should be light-proofed so she can use the room during the day. She could find it unsettling to be in the room with a body.”
She nodded. “I’ll go to the hardware store after supper. She can use the finished basement at your other house. All that’s needed there is a curtain on the stairwell.”
“That’s what I was thinking. Have I said thank you?”
Pam sighed, “You did.”
“Do you want to get anything off your chest?”
She shook her head. “No… I’ve gotten used to Sookie. She’s been my little shadow for the past couple of nights. Naïve, but eager to learn. Other than her spontaneous leaking fits, her company is enjoyable.”
A Human she wasn’t fucking? Enjoyable? Pam?
“Leaking? More than just seeing Linda move so easily?”
Her eyes widened as she nodded. “She sprung a leak nearly every time we discussed Linda… She dreamt Shakespeare plays. She was an amazing cook and always aspired to open a restaurant of her own. She doesn’t have a favorite color. She made lemon cookies to share at work because she loved the scent of them, but couldn’t eat them. Citrus gave her a rash. The station wagon was a baby gift because until Linda became pregnant with her daughter, she drove a motorcycle…”
“That isn’t a car. Buying a new motorcycle for her won’t damage the sentiment of her brother’s gift.” And given her free-spirited nature, she’d probably enjoy the independence of a cycle again… she’d been chauffeured for months.
Pam nodded. “I already chose one. I’ll have Bobby handle the delivery… Corbett bought the station wagon from a coworker, causing a monumental fight with his wife, and gave it to Linda as soon as she reached her second trimester. He also talked the owner of the chicken processing plant into hiring her as an office manager so she wouldn’t work construction while she was pregnant. Another fight with his wife who thought she deserved the job because she wasn’t happy with her position as a receptionist at the lumber mill. Carrey moved to New Orleans with a ‘dirty home-wrecking slut’ because the fact that Linda loved him wasn’t enough to help him forgive her for having gynecological problems… He never called, even to speak to his daughter, once the divorce was final. Linda is incredibly stubborn and compassionate. She’s been known to make meals for friends and neighbors in need, even when she couldn’t afford to spare it. She’s a ‘determined bitch’ and her only regret, because Sookie knows these things, is that she couldn’t figure out how to be what Hadley needed. Apparently, Hadley was wild. Drugs, sex, generally hostile… She disappeared three years ago. Linda used to think about her and imagine what Hadley was doing, good or bad, but it’s been more than a year since she’s had anything more than hope…”
“If I had to guess, I’d say she’s dead. Did Sookie, by chance, mention my first conversation with Linda?”
“No. She said Linda was dreaming about a movie they were watching before she fell asleep.”
“Funny that the mind-reader would be dismissive… I hadn’t mentioned you when I spoke to Sookie, but when I spoke to Linda, she asked if I brought you with me by name… asking Sookie to elaborate on the so-called dream, Sookie blamed the movie. Midsummer’s Night Dream. Of course, it was a contemporary scene from the 1600s. A young girl, very pretty, telling her maid she’d rather die than suffer an arranged marriage as she climbed through a window…”
I didn’t have to finish before Pam gasped, “She was dreaming ME!?”
I nodded. “Vividly. What’s more, Linda argued that you weren’t a dream. You were Lady Winifred Kendal… Sookie identified you as soon as I offered the photo of you modeling your newest Balenciaga suit.”
Pam breathed, “That’s why you called me that? Oh my God. I thought you were just being… I don’t know, you were planning to bring over a new child. I thought maybe you were melancholy. It’s not as though I could get a great sense of it from Milan…”
“I was shocked and impressed. Given how often that happens, I doubt you’d have had a sense of it if you were on my lap.”
She laughed, “No shit… So Sookie can’t read Vampire minds, but Linda can? Is it because she’s more Fae?”
“She wasn’t reading my mind. She’d tapped a memory… It’s a level of cognition we aren’t familiar with.”
“You say that like we have a list of telepaths at our disposal… Gawain said the grandmother is completely Human.”
“Then it was her Husband who carried the Fae heritage. Not that it matters… Are we going to talk about the fact that you read into my reasons for bringing Linda over?”
“No. I’m running late to stake Gawain…” She turned to leave, mumbling, “Blathering Welshman… that’ll teach me to talk to him…”
I was chuckling when I caught up to her.
I wrapped my arm around her shoulders to hold her still and offered, “I plan to tell Linda you’re everything any Maker could hope for… and after all this time, you’re still with me because you aren’t just my child, you’re the best friend I’ve ever had.”
She cleared her throat and groaned, “If you make me cry, I’ll glamour Sookie to glue feathers all over your body while you’re dead.”
Too late… and that was why I hadn’t turned her around to face me.
I kissed the back of her head and released her. “Of course you will. That’s why I’m finished.”