My first instinct was to grab for blankets before I could burn.
Sunlight and warmth weren’t my friends.
As I moved, there was a weight on one side of my body that had to be pushed aside.
The weight made a solid thud as it hit the floor… then a grunt. A woman answered, “Eric? Eric, what’s… Oh shit!”
No one belonged in my resting place. Pam didn’t even know where that one was. And I couldn’t remember the last time I heard that accent. “Who the fuck are you?”
I heard a zipper, then again. “Oh, thank God. Eric… This is going to sound weird, but I’m Sookie…”
“That has to be the dumbest fucking name I’ve…”
She giggled, “What are you doing?”
She took a few steps before the bed sank and I felt her hands on my arm through the duvet. “Sweetie, that’s me. There’s no sunlight in the room. Take the blanket off.”
I didn’t want to. I had no idea who that woman was. I had no reason to trust her and the only reason I removed the duvet was because I realized that there weren’t any beams showing on the blanket.
As I pulled the blanket from my head, the tiny Human with the ridiculous name had a smile waiting. She sat on her knees next to me, long blond hair falling over her shoulders and bright blue eyes that seemed to sparkle without the benefit of light. “I know it’s a stupid name, but it’s not like I picked it… Where are we? I mean, like what neighborhood?”
“Zuid. Who the fuck are you and why are you in my resting place?”
She tilted her head to the side slightly. “Well, I’m Sookie Stackhouse and I’m kind of out of place. I didn’t mean to intrude. I’ll just get a cab to take me home so that…”
“How did you get in?”
“You’ve seen a Faerie pop in and out from one place to another. It’s like that, but slower.”
“You’re a Faerie?”
“Part Faerie. Enough Faerie to get myself into trouble. Where is Zuid? That doesn’t ring any bells for me.”
“Zuid doesn’t ring any bells for you?” How could it not? Zuid was marked on nearly every street and tram sign.
She shrugged. “I liked your house in Western Hills the best.” How the fuck…?
“You’ve been to my house in Western Hills? When was this?”
“A few weeks ago. The lake was beautiful. Pam took over the den… You know what, we’re getting ahead of ourselves…” She moved to sit on the edge of the bed and reached into the tiny purse she had with her to pull out a cell phone… and looked endlessly puzzled by the message that the call couldn’t be completed. She bit her lip for a moment while she stared at her phone. “Eric?”
“You said that we’re in Zuid.”
“We are. Amsterdam-Zuid.”
“I’m not even in America anymore, am I?” I’d been more than patient. That was pushing my limits. It was grating enough that she’d managed to get into a saferoom that Nazis hadn’t found.
“No. You’re in Holland. It’s part of the Netherlands. Is this where I give you a geography tutorial or is this where you start explaining how the fuck you got into my resting place?”
She gave an animated nod with wide eyes and shoved herself from the bed to pace frantically in spite of the fact that she shouldn’t have been able to see her hand in front of her face. “Yeah. I guess I need to start talking. I’m Sookie Stackhouse, part Faerie. I smell like sunshine and taste like honey. Blah, blah, blah… I’m from Bon Temps, Louisiana which is in Area 5. That’s how I met the Vampire I’m bonded to. This happens to us because I’m part Faerie. We wake up and for some inexplicable reason, we aren’t where we’re supposed to be, you know, like I’m in fucking Holland instead of where I went to sleep in Shreveport. This is just fan-fucking-tastic. I’m in HOLLAND and I don’t have my passport. Why the fuck would I nap with a passport? Oh my God! This is so ridiculous! I swear! It’s bad enough that I have to crawl into bed with my purse on my goddamn arm! Shit! I know a little Italian and a little Norsk. No Dutch. What the hell am I gonna do about getting home!?”
“Go to the Consulate. They’ll confirm your identity and they’ll arrange for everything…”
She whimpered. “Can I… Can I use your phone to call home? Eric’s going to flip his lid. God only knows who he’s waking up next to.”
“Did you just say, Eric?”
She cringed. “Yeah… I’m… do you have a computer?”
“I’m not answering anymore questions until you do.”
“Look, you big ass, I’m sorry. I don’t want to be difficult. I’m asking if you have a computer because I have a memory card… You know what…” She tossed her phone to me. “The album is full of pictures of me and my Vampire. Eric Northman, Lieutenant Regent of Louisiana and Sheriff of Area 5. I’ve been bonded to him, another version of you, for 4 months. This shit… blame it on my Faerie relatives if you want. We do… I’m sorry for the trouble. I really just want to get home.”
She continued to pace while I looked through pictures of myself with the unhinged American, an elderly woman, a young boy… several children for that matter… in multiple cities. At multiple houses.
“Those aren’t all me and My Eric. Some of them are different versions of Us. There’s an SD card in my wallet behind my library card… It has our journals. We make new ones every time we skip so that they’re up to date. I… Sophie-Ann and Andre’s notes are on it too. It reads like bad fiction so we videoed quick blurbs so that… you know… other versions of Us could see ourselves, so…”
She wilted to the floor and sat with her head in her hands while curiosity made me grab her purse. “Mark Jacobs?” And the matching wallet.
Without looking up, she sighed, “It’s a Pam thing… She says it looked bigger on the website. It’s bigger than anything I’d normally carry, but…”
“And why are you carrying $5,000 in cash?”
“Well… a cab from Shreveport to Bon Temps costs almost $100… I almost always have to buy clothes, like this time…” She didn’t seem to care that I was going through her purse when most women would fight to keep their inner sanctums as private as possible. “…I mean, I’m just wearing one of Eric’s Ts and panties because that’s how I crawled into bed. And we’ve skipped to a version or two where there was an extenuating need. It’s just in case… but thank God I’ve got it. Our tickets to Longyearbyen cost…”
“You’ve been to Longyearbyen?” Longyearbyen wasn’t something anyone would know. Pam’s obsession with clothing and accessories, yes. My history in the states, possibly. That I owned a house in Western Hills, with research. No one would know that Longyearbyen had been my favorite ‘quiet place’ for more than two centuries.
“Yeah… we went for the Dark Season Blues Festival in October. It’s why I know a little Norsk… He taught us all…”
“Who is we?”
“Me and Eric… Gran and Hunter… Jason and Alcide and Paulette… We had a blast. Have you been?”
“Not since they started holding the festival.”
“Neither had Eric…. Most of those pictures are private. We enjoyed the sun being down for the whole week… You going to Longyearbyen doesn’t narrow it down for me though. Eric said he’d been going for a couple hundred years.”
“I have too. I’ve also been the Sheriff of Area 5. I didn’t renew when my contract was fulfilled in 1987.”
She scoffed, “God only knows about how fucked this version of Me is… Bill’s probably racked up some serious brownie points with his telepathic pet. Maybe Hadley avoided Sophie-Ann in this version.”
“Who is Hadley?”
“My cousin. She was a junkie and became a pet of the Queen. She was knocked up and died giving birth to Hunter. He’s the little boy in the pictures. Anyway, the Queen turned her and she started whining about being homesick and about her family. Bill Compton was sent to check me out, but decided that I needed to be his. In every version where he was sent to meet me, he’s fucked everything up…”
“Not surprising. He’s got the Mephitic Touch…”
She snorted, “Instead of your Midas Touch… everything he touches turns to shit. Cute. I’m gonna use that.”
“You really belong to Me?” Un-fucking-believable… just saying it aloud made me question my sanity. If it hadn’t been for her photo album, I wouldn’t have listened as much as I had.
“Another version of you. Don’t go getting any ideas.”
“Ideas?” Too late.
“I’m not even looking. Don’t waste that innocent look on the dark.”
I chuckled at her sass. “You hold up to the wear and tear of someone like me?”
She snorted, “You’re an arrogant pervert no matter where I find you… Yes. I hold up just fine.”
Even though I had the memory card, burning to be put into my laptop, I couldn’t help myself. I moved quickly to put myself on the floor behind her. Smelling her skin and getting lost in it. Sunlight wasn’t something I could enjoy without severe consequences. It was no wonder why I’d keep her. “You… you sweat sunlight?”
Somehow, she wasn’t startled. “No. I smell sweet naturally. I hold on to the smell of sunlight though. We had a warm front come through, so I laid out. I came in and put on one of Eric’s shirts because he likes them to smell like me… If you grab me a clean one, you can take this. It’d be a shame to waste it. Eric doesn’t get many this time of year.”
“You smell like sunshine, you taste like sugar…”
She sighed, but still hadn’t budged. “Honey actually.”
“And you brave skin cancer just to take your Vampire perfumed shirts.” I’d have been tempted to tease her for being ‘romantic’ if I wasn’t thinking of how to make her mine.
“I won’t live long enough to die of skin cancer. He’s going to turn me if he doesn’t get sick of this skipping bullshit.”
“Did he not learn his lesson from turning Pam?”
“Him and Pam are great together. Did you two have a falling out?”
“Of sorts. She hasn’t talked to me in nearly two decades.”
She teased, “Did you take a joke too far?” Yes.
“What did you do?”
“I may or may not have convinced her that she’d been cursed by a gypsy…”
She started laughing, “She’s still bitter about that one for us too. And the brief comeback gauchos made only egged her on.”
“No one but Pam would know about that… did she put you up to this?”
She sighed, “No one put me up to this… What’s the time difference between here and Louisiana? Do you know?”
“Nine or ten hours…”
“Shit! That means Eric just died for the day! Damn it! Wait. No… that’s a good thing, right? If I get to the consulate now, I might be home before he rises…”
“Or you could stay here with me. Aren’t I the same?”
“No…” She tried to push herself from the floor, but I held onto her. “Let me go, you big turd.”
“Yes, turd… You need to let me go. I have a family to get home to. I need to call them. Eric might be down for the day, but Gran and Hunter will be up around noon. I need to…”
“You need to sit still…” I was pushing.
She elbowed my ribs hard enough to hurt. “YOU NEED to stop trying to glamour me, jerk. You can’t. Let me go. I have calls to make and you have a journal to read.”
“What if I don’t want to read?”
“I’m not cheating on Eric even if it is with him. But… I’ll venture to guess there’s a version of me that you can open your Can O’Flirt on. Get your own Sookie.”
“But you’re here.”
“I am. And the best you’re getting out of me willingly is a happy-shirt. You can be an asshole when you want to be, but you’re no rapist. Lemme go.”
“I’m sure I could convince you to cooperate.”
“I’m sure you can kiss my ass. If you bite me, you’re going to have to answer to a well fed version of yourself.”
“You’re very cheeky.”
“That’s not the first time you’ve said that.”
As it turned out, reading the journal was easier said than done. Atop the mountain of evidence that something bizarre was taking place, the fact that my belongings were ‘wrong’ added to it.
My resting place adjoined a sitting room equipped with a top of the line entertainment center and my desk was where I charged my cell phone, iPod and laptop…
Instead, we found a table with a radio and a candlestick telephone with no dial tone and a phone book full of five-digit numbers… Sookie snickered her apology while I went through my closet to find absurdity of massive proportions… fedoras, twill caps, wing tips, dated suits and the knickerbockers I’d tried so hard to forget. All of it moth-eaten and dusty…
Just like it was when I returned to Amsterdam in the 80s.
Sookie thought it was fucking hilarious and explained that I came to her ‘version’ and that my house was just as it was when I originally left it in the 20s because her Eric hadn’t been there since then.
It was hilarious until the cold January air blew up her shirt and the least disgusting sweater I could find for her to wear as a dress so that we could hail a taxi to Vondelpark for the shopping we needed to do.
While the taxi driver gaped at us in the rearview mirror because of our clothing and her lack of shoes, I listened to the call Sookie made…
She was groaning about international calling codes when a gruff voice answered, “What the hell are you doing awake so early?”
She giggled, “It’s 4 o’clock, big guy.”
“No… It’s 8:30. Don’t fuck with me. I haven’t had my coffee yet.”
“I’m not fucking with you.”
There was a long pause before what sounded like a car door slamming. “Are you Skippy again?”
“Yes sir… Guess where I woke up.”
“No. I don’t think I want to. You weren’t snuggled up with a Compton, were you?”
She giggled again. “No. My dumb ass managed to nap my way to fucking Amsterdam.”
“Tell me that you mean NEW Amsterdam. New York. Right? Tell me I’m right.”
“That’s only a one hour time difference, Alcide. I’m actually in the… Wait. Eric, tell me you aren’t fucking with me. All kidding aside, if you managed to get me to Amsterdam to play a joke…”
“I’ve already been told that wasn’t allowed. Alcide is your guard?”
“Yes. Alcide is my guard and I know you. Tell me that you aren’t fucking with me.”
“I’m not fucking with you. You are in Amsterdam-Zuid, Holland, The Netherlands. I’m not your Eric and how would I get you to Amsterdam without you knowing about it?”
She snorted, “We shared… nevermind… You don’t have to be a twat about it. You know you’re a sneaky, prank-playing asshole…” So. “Alcide, you heard him?”
“I heard. How the fuck did you manage that?”
“I’m Fae-rific… So, I’m calling you to let you know where I am and whatnot since…”
“Since everyone at home is still crashed out for a while yet. Alright… what’s the plan? Do you need me to like fax a copy of your passport somewhere?”
“I don’t know how that’ll play out. I’m sure there’s a record that I just got it in October…”
“You’re just going to claim you lost it? Wouldn’t there be a record of you entering the country? Fuck, girl, this is crazy.”
“Tell me about it. What are the odds that the consulate will buy that I’m a magical time traveling elf?”
“Good. Lemme know how that goes.”
She sighed, “I’m going to have to charter a goddamn jet to get back to Shreveport.”
“You know Eric isn’t gonna care how much it costs, right?”
She scoffed, “I know that. It’s just wasteful. It’s gonna cost thousands… and on short notice…”
“Just get home… that’s all we care about.”
“Alright… I better get a move on. I have a lot to do.”
“I’ll go by the house on my lunch break, fill Gran in and check your room for an extra lump under the covers. You’re going to keep me posted.”
I couldn’t help myself. “Did he ask if you woke up with Compton?”
“Oh… that’s right. You knew him when he was a baby Vampire. Turns out that ass-clown’s destiny is to die because he won’t leave me alone.”
“He’s dead in your version? What about his Maker?”
“Burned at the stake by the Fellowship. They managed to abduct a nestmate of Dallas’s Sheriff. They were more than happy to take those two assholes as trade.”
“Lorena’s sibling of sorts, Gwen is who took over my Area when I retired.”
“Ew. Why did you retire?”
“I was bored.”
She giggled, “Figures. I tease Mine all the time that he has ADD.”
“If that were true, wouldn’t he be bored with you by now? He should think about giving you to me and find a new Sookie.”
“You should think about saving your flirt. It’s wasted on me.”
“Did you say that you can’t be glamoured?”
“Yeah. Side effect of being telepathic. My brother can be, so it’s not just the Fae thing.”
“Pity. If you can’t be glamoured, then how did I make you Mine?”
“By being sweet.”
“He must’ve gone soft in recent years. I’m not sweet.”
“He says the same thing, but you’re full of shit. You’re a good man who just doesn’t have the chance to show your good side often.”
“Perhaps you’re just gullible.”
“Perhaps you need to shut up. My eyes are wide open, buddy.” Shut up? Buddy? Who the fuck did she think she was talking to?
“Your Eric might be pussy whipped, but I’m not suffering that affliction. Don’t…” She had the gall to shush me when her phone began ringing…
“Who do you love?”
She hummed mischievously. “You’re my favorite Were on the planet. Now tell me what you thought of.”
“Well… You might try calling Eric’s other girlfriend. Wally was on vacation last time I…”
She shrieked, “You brilliant mother fucker! I owe you SO HARD RIGHT NOW!”
“Good. You can repay me by bypassing the lingerie shops next time we’re at the mall.”
She hung up on her guard and grabbed her phone to find the number she was looking for…
“Sut mae, my little Sookie?” A Welshman was her saving grace?
“That’s a long story, Majesty. How about yourself? Enjoying your vacation?”
“I am… It’s lovely to be home this time of year, now that I don’t have to concern myself with digging for my own peat. You understand humble beginnings though, yes?”
“Absolutely, sir. I’ve resorted to burning an old chair.”
“Ahhh, the ‘good’ old days… What can I do for you?”
“Well, I know this is a big deal, but I was hoping you’d loan me your plane.”
“My plane? Is something wrong with my wife’s?”
“Not a thing that I know of. It’s just that yours should be with you in Cardiff. It’s a lot more convenient to give me a lift home from Amsterdam.”
“Might I ask how you found yourself in Amsterdam? You weren’t abducted, were you?”
“No sir, I woke safe and sound with Eric. We snuck away… but we’ve lost our passports and want to avoid the consulate if we can.” Beautiful diversion.
“Pickpockets. Eric should know better than to keep his credentials where…”
“This is my fault, Majesty. They were in my purse the last time I checked.”
“I’d forgive you both either way… Yes, yes, of course you can use my plane. It’s faster than Sophie-Ann’s in any case. It should be there in an hour or two.”
“Thank you soooooo much. You know you’re my favorite King, right?”
He chuckled, “I’d better be, darling. Run along.”
When she hung up, she snickered at the phone while she redialed. “I’m gonna kiss Alcide. That saves a lot of trouble… Eric, are you gonna read that or not?”
“That was Wallace Milne of Texas?”
“Yeah… he’s married to Sophie-Ann in our version. So he’s technically my King… The first couple of months I was with Eric, it was one political nightmare after another. Nevada and Arkansas were up to their fuckery and when we had a skip, we found out that Milne was willing to marry Sophie-Ann just to show DeCastro and Threadgill whose Kingdom was bigger… You know, if you can’t read the journal, you’re just gonna think I’m nuttier than a squirrel turd…”
“I imagine I have time to read it on the plane.”
“Yes. I’m going with you. The King of Texas just substantiated your claim to belong to Me and I have to ‘get my own Sookie’, yes?”