Linda seemed to suddenly forget her escalating exchange with Gawain and began pacing the length of the kitchen.
Sookie only gnawed her lip for a moment before offering, “This is my fault. I should have blocked the number before I called home. I’m sorry… Maybe… I mean, he’s on the road now, and Gran’s with him…”
Linda gasped, “Momma!? She’s coming here? Oh, good Lord!”
Sookie snorted, “You didn’t think she was gonna let Jas go off halfcocked, OR see you before her, did you?”
Linda gave me a wide-eyed look, and it felt as though she wanted me to panic along with her.
I asked, “What are you so worried about? You’ve just fed. If you were going to attack, you’d have attacked Sookie…”
Gawain snorted, “The Frigidaire is more likely to be your victim. Calm down… Sookie already warned us your nephew is an idiot. You’ll visit with your mother and I’ll glamour the boy.”
“Don’t call him an idiot. He’s simple, but he’s got an amazing heart…”
Pam wiggled her eyebrows and offered, “And abs judging by the pictures in your house.”
Linda sighed, “There’s a long line for that boy’s attention… but he’s a sucker for a low-cut top…”
Gawain slapped the countertop and shouted, “I BEG YOUR PARDON! I show an interest in Sookie and I’m admonished. Liz…”
Linda rolled her eyes and offered, “She complemented my nephew’s appearance… I wouldn’t have gotten bitchy with you if you just said Sookie’s beautiful, or even sexy for that matter… and can we please stop talking about sex… Jesus.”
He chuckled, “Feeling frisky, are we?”
“Are you kidding? Chemo knocked me on my ass just when I thought I was going to get a break from my monthly bed-cation. Now that I feel fabulous…”
He snorted, “You fancy a fuck, yes? Shame you’ve been such a recalcitrant cont. I might have volunteered.”
“Shame you’ve been such a creepy hard-on… I might’ve considered it long enough to look for a bag to put over your head.”
Pam and I were struggling to keep from laughing, but Sookie’s face was bright red and her jaw was sagging…
It was safe to assume she wasn’t used to hearing Linda speak so frankly.
Gawain argued, “You’d bag MY head!? You forget, I met that eyesore you call a boyfriend…”
She snorted, “For all the good it’ll do. I’m sure you’ve chewed your way out of plenty of gags…”
While Linda and Gawain continued to bicker, Sookie walked towards me and stretched up to whisper, “Has he ever backed down?”
I shook my head. “I’ve only ever seen him bite his tongue in the presence of a King.”
Sookie’s eyes widened as she offered, “If something doesn’t break them up, they could still be going at it when you rise tomorrow night. Aunt Linda won’t let him get the last word.”
Telling Gawain to shut up wouldn’t work, and I was curious about how crass my new child would be when pushed…
But I actually managed to think of a way to shut them both up.
I took Sookie’s hand and tilted my head towards the front of the house… she followed along curiously as I led her through the foyer and up the stairs, into one of the bedrooms overlooking the front yard of the house, so we could watch for her brother and grandmother.
She was nibbling her lip when I closed the door.
I leaned over to put my mouth to her ear and breathed, “Is there a way for you to keep your own thoughts from being heard by Gawain?”
She nodded and whispered, “Done.”
“Linda is very protective of you and Gawain is…”
“A nosy pervert.”
I chuckled, “Notice they haven’t said anything since we walked out of the room.”
She giggled, “That’s one way to get ‘em to stop goin’ at it.”
“Indeed… half of the problem is concerned with what I’m doing to you…”
She giggled again, “And the other half is wondering what I’m doing with you. Nice.”
“Has he been haranguing you since they arrived?”
She shook her head and when she did, her cheek brushed mine. “He’s actually been really nice. He’s pushing Aunt Linda’s buttons on purpose. He warned me he was going to do it. Right now, Aunt Linda’s focused on us, but Gawain’s focused on her.”
“It seems as though you’ve been well-informed.”
She shrugged. “I guess. I mean, since he doesn’t die, we’ve spent a few hours a day chatting back and forth; him in the safe-room and me wherever. It’s really neat. I’ve never met another telepath before.”
“I’m sure. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to have gone twenty years without meeting another Vampire… For that matter, not even knowing what to call myself.”
I bent over and lifted Sookie’s foot to remove her shoe, so she hunched over and giggled into my ear, “What are you doing?”
I made a show of tossing her shoe over my shoulder before explaining, “I’m using you to fuck with my friend.”
She almost lost her balance when I lifted her other foot, so she leaned against my shoulders…. She snickered at herself, and breathed, “What the hell is this going to do?”
I held my finger up to have her wait while I removed my shoes…
I tossed one over my shoulder, as I’d done with hers, but she took the second. “Here. Lemme get that for ya.”
Just as the boot hit the floor, there was a loud gasp… but it wasn’t Pam or Linda.
Sookie cupped her hands over her mouth and hunched her shoulders… the only thing she left me to see was the impish look in her eyes.
I held my finger up again and reached for my belt…
While I made as much noise as I could with the buckle, Pam told Gawain she was taking Linda to the saferoom to discuss ‘girl things’.
Gawain argued, “You’ve got no objections? Your Maker’s trying to dock his Viking Longship in your pretty little niece and you’re going downstairs to discuss hosiery. Brilliant.”
Viking Longship? He was trying to push me, force me to engage in an argument.
I led Sookie to the bed, sitting to face the window and pulling her back to sit on my legs…
She glanced over her shoulder to give me a confused look until I began kneading her shoulders…
The little hum she let out was absolutely perfect.
She sighed, “Before you make me forget where I am…”
“Something I missed while I was with Linda?”
She groaned, “Ohhhhhhhh God… Uhhhh… Yeah. My brother is an idiot. He has a hard time understanding some stuff. He can be kind of a pain in the ass until his wheels stop spinning.”
“I’ll take that into consideration.”
She leaned forward to brace herself on her knees and sighed and moaned as I massaged her shoulders and back… playing into my attempt to fuck with Gawain.
I couldn’t help but wonder how annoying he’d really been for her to be so willing to toy with his hilariously fragile ego.
I was making my third pass down her spine when she suddenly tensed for a moment before turning on my lap. She cupped my face with her petite hands and breathed into my ear, “He’s not buying it. He’s trying to sneak up here.”
That nosy asshole… No wonder I hadn’t heard as much as a creaking board in the first floor…
“How far are you willing to go to fuck with him?”
She breathed, “Well… you already fed from me… I guess, like second base wouldn’t be too much.”
Right. She said that as though I was familiar with the euphemism, but without time for a tutorial, I took the hem of her shirt and pulled it over her head…
She blushed instantly and folded her arms to cover herself, but she giggled as I leaned her back…
While I yanked my shirt off, Sookie’s eyes bulged as though she was hinting that time was short… and then I heard one of the stairs groan. Gawain wasn’t far enough away to give me any time…
Without a better idea, I took the waist of Sookie’s shorts and pealed them off, diving between her thighs before her clothing hit the floor….
Her back arched and she squealed, “OhmyGod!”
She was digging her heels into my shoulders and pulling my hair by the time I realized how amazing she tasted…
Joke be dammed, I could have happily spent my night between her thighs.
What Sookie’s quiet moaning had done for the joke, the way she panted my name made me want to forget that we were, inevitably, going to be interrupted. Even if Gawain only lurked in the hallway, we were expecting company.
Of course, Gawain timed his entrance perfectly, waiting until Sookie pleaded, “Stopstopstop, I’m gonna… Oh God…”
When he walked into the room, Sookie yanked my hair with enough force that my options were to move or wait for my hair to regrow.
I covered her with my body while Sookie hid her face against my neck.
“Is there something I can do for you?”
Sookie’s heart was racing and she was breathing as though she’d just run a marathon.
He narrowed his eyes at me and asked, “Sookie, are you alright?”
She growled against my neck, “Get out, you ancient turd!”
He probed, “You didn’t agree to be his pet in exchange for your aunt’s life, did you?”
“Noooooo. Why are you still here?”
His nostrils flared, and I would have laughed if my cock wasn’t being teased… Sookie was still twitching. Even through my jeans I could feel it.
He growled as he left the room and slammed the door.
While he stomped down the stairs, I chuckled as I began inching down Sookie’s body, but she grabbed my ears… perhaps to separate them from my head judging by the scowl on her face.
She whispered, “That. Was. Not. Second. Base.”
“What is second base then?”
“Like making out with heavy petting… that was third base.”
“How is that possible? If oral is third base, then what is anal?” As far as I knew, there were only four bases.
She released my ears to cover her face and whine, “I don’t know…”
“That doesn’t make sense. Anything less than heavy petting shouldn’t be worth a base at all. Heavy petting is first, then oral and hand-jobs are second, third would be edging and other stopgaps that aren’t quite fucking.”
The frame of her face was glowing, like a stop sign.
She argued, “Second base is above the waist.”
“I didn’t make it up.”
I inched down, pulling her bra down and catching her nipple between my teeth. “This is second base, yes?”
“I meant the necking you did to prepare my neck, you jerk, but yeah. That’s second, I think.”
“You think? If you aren’t sure, can I go back to second?”
She took her hands away from her face to slap my shoulders as she snickered, “Get off me.”
“But you were close to cumming, and I’m still so hard I’m in pain. Why stop?”
“Because I’m not screwing you as part of a prank.”
Implying that she’d be willing to ‘screw’ under other circumstances?
I didn’t care that my concept of bases was askew… I didn’t even blame Sookie for our misunderstanding…
I was comfortable blaming Gawain.
Sookie opted to stay on the first floor and watch for her family’s arrival (‘die of embarrassment’ privately), and I continued downstairs.
Pam and Linda were watching the doorway when I entered the saferoom. Pam had changed into a blouse that was cut so low it could have been called a vest.
Both of them had an eyebrow raised, and I was sure it wasn’t staged.
Pam offered, “We thought you were taking Sookie upstairs as a joke.”
“I was… that nosey prick followed. I had been massaging her back…”
Linda urged, “We heard that much. Keep going.”
She wasn’t nearly as amused as Pam.
“Define ‘second base’.”
In unison, my children answered, “Fondling above the waist.”
“Why am I the last to know these things? And is there a way to dispute that? I really don’t agree that kissing is significant enough to have its own ba-”
They both blurted, “Erik!”
“Right… When Gawain began climbing the stairs, we reevaluated the ruse. I even asked what she was comfortable with…”
Linda rolled her eyes and offered, “And after the way you prepared her neck the other night, she said second base because you’d pretty much already done that.”
I was nodding when Pam laughed, “You accidently went down on Sookie!”
Linda gasped, “You! That wasn’t… I thought that was mostly put on!”
She was one part upset, one part amused.
“It was in the begin-”
“GO. WASH. YOUR. FACE!”
But I quite enjoyed my reminder.
“She was going along with it… She’s too embarrassed to make eye contact, but she’ll-”
“You can’t be upset that I misunderstood the meaning of a euphemism. Baseball? Really? She could have just said ‘groping and petting’ were her limits.”
Pam offered, “And she only said ‘stop’ when she was close to cum-”
Linda squeezed her eyes together and shouted, “WASH IT! YOUR FACE! GO!”
Pam held her hands up to stop me. “Wait. What did you think the bases were if you thought oral was second?”
“Heavy petting as first. Third… perhaps sumata, frottage, trib… the more physical steps between oral and fucking.”
Pam shrugged. “That makes more sense. Good thing she didn’t give you the green light for third, but still…”
“Out of curiosity, what base would anal be?”
“Home plate is fucking. I don’t think 20th century Humans care where they put their cock. Any hole is a victory.”
“Would that mean a blow job counts as third or home plate? It’s technically penetration.”
“I’m almost positive it counts as third.”
“Tell me you see the reason for my confusion. Humans are sexually retarded.”
“I never liked the baseball euphemism… If you’re too bashful to say it, then you’re too bashful to do it. Go balls-deep, or go home.”
I chuckled… She was so ladylike. I might as well have brought over a man.
Gawain walked in and asked, “Who’s balls deep?”
Pam raised an eyebrow at him and snorted, “If you can keep your foot out of your mouth and your knickers from getting twisted, you might be later.”
He kissed her neck and tossed himself onto the bed. “My knickers aren’t twisted… You’re all horrible actors… And Sookie’s shields didn’t hold up. I imagine, technically, that could be a new sort of slip of the tongue.”
Linda barked, “Hey! That’s my niece!”
“Don’t look at me. I didn’t go down on her.” He pointed at me and specified, “He’s the guy who went diving for pearls in your niece’s panties.”
Pearl diving? Really Gawain? Asshole.
I growled, “Pam, sit on his face so he’ll stop talking.”
She scoffed as though I was serious. “But I want to meet Gran and Jason!”
He argued, “Someone’s going to sit on my face by dawn, damn it.”
Linda snorted, “I’ve got just the girl for you. Her name is Maxine…”
She didn’t finish before I started laughing.
The mental image… of Gawain’s legs sticking out from under Maxine’s muumuu… his muffled cries for help… her plump fingers twisted into his hair to hold on…
I was still picturing it while I (finally) washed Sookie from my face… and I was so amused that Linda and Pam were laughing with me when Sookie slapped on the hatch to announce her family.
Linda nominated me to meet her nephew and mother to ‘test the water’ and when I reached the foyer, Sookie was struggling to keep her brother from charging past her. Linda’s mother was wringing her hands next to Jason’s pickup truck.
“Is there a problem, Sookie?”
Her brother stopped pushing against her to look me over.
She offered, “Jason’s got it in his head that Aunt Linda’s here to kill herself…”
He shouted, “I heard that message on her machine, Sook!”
I asked, “What message?”
“Her doctor called. Said they needed to schedule a sit-down… I don’t know how many times they’ve said it over the past couple’a years, but docs don’t mind givin’ good news over the phone.”
Out of morbid curiosity, I was tempted to have Linda return her doctor’s call.
Given that my plan was to glamour Jason to forget his visit anyway, I stepped closer to him and explained, “Three nights ago, I brought your aunt to this house and helped her die.”
I fully expected an extreme reaction from him, I wasn’t expecting him to punch me with enough force to hurt my neck in the process of breaking my nose.
Surprisingly strong little asshole.
He scowled at me until I straightened my nose so it would heal correctly.
Then his jaw dropped.
And when Sookie took my face to examine my nose, it was adorable enough that I let her tend to me while she chided her brother…
“The other day at her last dose, the doc came through and he blew sunshine and rainbows up our asses… but he was thinking about how much morphine to give her to make her comfortable. He was thinking that if Aunt Linda was responding, he’d be surprised.”
I couldn’t help but wonder why Sookie hadn’t mentioned that before… when I already knew she was a telepath.
“What were you plannin’ to do!? Lie to me and Gran? Tell us she went to stay somewhere else? Then have her ashes sent home? BULLSHIT! What the fuck gives you the right to be the only one to say goodbye to her!?”
I asked, “Do you believe in Vampires?”
He looked me over and snorted, “Sorry dude, you’re too pale to be a Haitian Witch Doctor.”
When I chuckled at him, I let my fangs down.
He took one step back, then charged me, bumping Sookie out of his way to grab my face and stare into my mouth.
“You brought my aunt here and helped her die?”
When I nodded, he put his hands to my neck to check for a pulse.
I could have sworn Sookie said he was slow.
“You… She…” He shoved my shoulder and ran up the stairs, shouting, “Aunt Lin!”
Sookie’s eyes were watering but she smirked at me. “You soooooo deserved that punch for dropping the bomb like that, but…” She held her hand up for a high-five and finished, “Well played shock value.”
I actually returned the gesture and before I dropped my hand, Pam and Linda darted into the foyer and slapped it as well, offering in unison, “Amen.”
Those two might have been too much alike.
Maybe those three.
Sookie tilted her head to call after her brother, “Jason, she’s downstairs!”
Jason’s footsteps automatically became more frantic, coming closer and he completely skipped the first set of stairs by jumping over them to the landing…
He ran down the rest of the stairs, but came to a full stop once he was face to face with Linda.
The look on his face may very well have been why his family thought of him as simple.
“Aunt Lin… You look… So good.”
Linda sniffled, “I’ve never felt better, kiddo. Ever.”
“Dead. No more treatments. No more being sick. No more being weak. I lifted a pool table.”
“You ain’t fragile no more?”
She’d hardly shaken her head before he tackled her, wrapping his arms around her and spinning in circles until Sookie nudged Pam with her elbow and joked, “Good thing Vampires don’t get sick. How many pints did she take?”
Pam snorted, “Enough to ruin my Valentinos and your Keds.”
“Like an open fire-hydrant.”
“Or the prom scene in Carrie.”
Sookie was giggling when her brother finally placed Linda on the floor… Jason held his aunt’s face, crying about missing her smile and the sparkle in her eyes, while I realized the insanity of their reunion. Of all the cases Gawain mentioned, where Vampires stayed in contact with their families, he didn’t mention if any of them knew what their relative had become.
I’d heard of Vampires who tried to return to their loved-ones, only to have to glamour them and take their leave. I’d heard of cases where they returned home and slaughtered their loved-ones and gone mad with grief. Edward and Richard’s mother nearly suffered the same fate, but she had her own Supernatural family and knew Vampires existed as most Human royalty had.
Even if Sookie and Linda were Fae in part, they didn’t know that. They were raised as Humans… Jason Stackhouse’s only exposure to the Supernatural was his sister’s mysterious telepathy. He had no reason to be so accepting of his aunt’s new state.
Sookie leaned against Pam’s shoulder before shoving off and walking towards the door to collect her grandmother…
She offered quietly, “You need to be prepared…”
The woman urged, “Don’t pussyfoot.”
“No ma’am. She’s worried you might have changed your mind, you know, about being okay with what she is… she’s crying blood, which is absolutely normal for Vampires, but she’s worried nonetheless… Gran, she’s gorgeous. She doesn’t look a day over 30. Her skin’s like porcelain, and her eyes are clear, her hair’s even healthy now.”
Could she still read her aunt’s mind?
“How’s Jason taking it?”
“He’s not thinking. His mind is like staring into high-beams right now.”
“You said we shouldn’t see her until after she was fed and whatnot… Did Jason’s tear interrupt anything?”
“Nope. Eric had a bunch of donors here just after sunset. They’d already left when you called. She’s Thanksgiving-fat and she keeps switching focus to the yard. You ready?”
Switching focus? She could still read her aunt’s mind.
As Sookie and her grandmother approached the house, Jason stepped back and used his sleeve to wipe the tears away from Linda’s cheeks.
They hadn’t shared any meaningful conversation, but he still whispered, “Don’t you worry. Seein’ you suffer’s been eatin’ Gran alive. Seein’ you strong again’s all she’s been prayin’ for.”
Pam caught it too, raising a suspicious eyebrow in my direction. Unless he could hear Sookie and Adele Stackhouse’s conversation, Jason didn’t have a reason to think Linda was worried about anything.
Sookie had her arm wrapped around her grandmother’s when they appeared in the doorway, pausing for just a moment before Adele Stackhouse slapped her hands over her mouth to breathe, “My stars!”
Linda gave a tense smile, but she was so anxious, she felt like needles under my skin.
“What do ya think, Momma? Amazing makeover?”
The woman charged towards Linda, wrapping her arms around her daughter. “You won, baby! I don’t care how you did it, you beat it!”
Linda sobbed, “Technically, Erik beat it.”
Adele snorted, “I’ll get to him in a minute… Oh God, You look so good… You’re hurtin’ me…”
Linda lurched back. “God Momma, I’m sorry.”
Adele shook her head and grabbed Linda again. “Don’t be sorry. Gimme some more! You got your strength back! FUCK CANCER!”
Sookie and Jason yelped, “Gran!” as Linda blurted, “Momma!” I had to assume the woman had an aversion to cursing, or at least ‘fuck’.
Adele laughed, “There’s a time and place for everything and I think that might be my new favorite saying. Fuck cancer… I might try to squeeze that onto my license plate.”
Pam sniffled, “F C K C N C R… but it might not make it past the censors.”
Sookie swatted Pam’s thigh and whispered, “No more jokes outta you. You’re leaking too.”
Pam very maturely blew a raspberry at Sookie.
For the next three hours, yes, three hours, Adele and Jason visited with Linda, insisting that I be part of the company gathered on the back deck.
After being introduced as Linda’s ‘big sister’, Pam left the house to buy supplies for light-proofing the den… and when she returned, Jason jumped into action to help insulate and board up the windows, and install the hardware for the light-blocking curtains. While they worked, Sookie offered telepathic insight as to his eagerness… Jason Stackhouse had been having nightmares about building a wheelchair ramp for Linda. He couldn’t have been more elated to help given the spirit of the project.
In a surprising display of discipline, Linda actually excused herself when she began feeling hungry, before I could suggest it. She drank her chilled stash of blood quickly and washed her glasses before returning to the deck… I decided I’d need to ask Gawain about his feeding habits as a newborn, if he had better control than a Human would. But it didn’t seem to matter… I couldn’t have been more impressed with her. By the time Pam was just a few hours old, I’d already seen several warning signs, personality quirks that would need to be tamed to some extent… But Linda was remarkably tempered. Passionate, but practical. Beautiful and witty without arrogance. Protective of those she cared for… and most importantly, Linda considered herself blessed to be ‘alive’.
And, of course, I was feeling very lucky that curiosity didn’t kill the cat. I was lucky to have found Pam and become so close to her. There had been a sliver of concern that I was tempting fate by following my curiosity to Bon Temps…
But as we talked I could feel Linda’s unyielding gratitude and optimism… it was the same way Pam felt about being brought over.
I couldn’t help but take that as a good sign.