Oh Danny Boy
While Sookie begrudgingly dressed, she continued to giggle at Miles.
Sookie’s laugh was directly proportionate to how much I needed to leave our room… every tiny improvement to her mood made me want to lock the door and keep her to myself.
I couldn’t have needed the bittersweet distraction waiting upstairs more.
Sookie held my hand as we walked upstairs and towards the parlor where our company was waiting.
We were nearly halfway there when Julie gasped and ran out of the kitchen.
Brandon called after her to ‘chill out’, but she’d risked looking behind herself as she ran and when she came around the corner, she crashed into me, bouncing off of my legs.
I released Sookie’s hand to catch Julie instead of allowing her to tumble to the stone floor.
When I lifted her, she giggled and grabbed my face, chirping, “We have company.”
I nodded. “I know. I sent for him.”
“Where’d you hear about him?”
I took Sookie’s hand again and continued to the parlor. “He was mentioned when we skipped.”
“What do you know about him?”
She cackled, but still tried to give me a dirty look. “He’s not that short. He’s a kid!”
I shrugged and told her she was splitting hairs just before we entered the parlor.
The boy looked stricken when we joined them…
He was sitting on the sofa with his elbows braced on his knees as though he was expecting a scolding, while his aunt studied the self-portrait of Johannes Vermeer over the fireplace.
As Bastiaan took his leave, the woman bowed respectfully as I offered, “Nell Bennis and Daan Klompenhower… This is my pet, Sookie Stackhouse, and her niece Julie Rousseau.”
Daan closed his eyes as though he was praying or trying to wake himself.
Nell Bennis gave a respectful nod in Sookie’s direction and offered, “I don’t know what Daan has done, Majesty, but I assure you, he will be dealt with to your satisfaction.”
I was sure she assumed he was being reprimanded for trespassing. Managing to steal an apple from the orchard had become a rite of passage of sorts, a test of one’s courage since I began using the estate again.
“Then be sure to congratulate him, Mrs. Bennis. When I contacted the school to find a potential tutor for my wards, the head mistress didn’t hesitate to recommend your nephew. He has the highest marks in English and grammar.”
“A tutor?” Her posture was instantly less apologetic and more proud.
I nodded. “My pets are American and since two of them are quite young, I thought they’d be more comfortable learning to speak Dutch from a peer. Our goal is for the children to have a strong enough understanding of the Dutch language to begin attending school next year. Until then, they’ll be homeschooling.”
Sookie’s hand tightened around mine… Not only did she approve of the charade, but she was grateful for it. I wanted to tell her it was Her idea.
Nell Bennis nodded. “He’s a very smart boy, easily distracted, but very smart. He’s quite well-behaved too.”
I nodded. “I heard as much from the head mistress. If he’s interested in taking the position, he’ll be paid, he’ll be given extra credit from the school, transportation will be provided, and I’ll extend my protection to him… There’s a possibility for travel. It would be invaluable to have someone along to translate so my wards can enjoy sightseeing during the day. Of course, when we’re traveling he’ll be provided with an allowance and his room and board will be included.”
She widened her eyes and looked at her nephew, urging him to accept my offer, but he seemed unsure.
Julie asked, “Would he miss school when we travel?”
“Perhaps a day or two on occasion, but the head mistress and I have discussed that those days would be considered ‘home study’ days. He’ll be given his assignments ahead of time so he doesn’t fall behind… Daan, this is Julie. She’s six years old. Hunter is four. They’ll be your pupils… You’ll be acting as a translator for Sookie and her brother from time to time, but for the time being they’re learning to speak Dutch from our maid and steward.”
He nodded and finally spoke. “What would be required of me?”
His minimal accent was promising.
“I’ve always found immersion learning to be much more successful. You’ll spend a couple hours with the children coaching them…”
Sookie cleared her throat and offered, “Even if you just tag along when we go to the grocery store, you can help…” When Hunter entered the room, Sookie released my hand to lift him and continued, “We’re babies when it comes to Dutch. When you’ve got a newborn, they learn nouns and verbs first. Everything else grows around that… This is Hunter, by the way.”
Hunter waved at Daan. “Hi. You should stay for dinner. Sookie’s making prawns.”
Daan stared at the children long enough to make his aunt anxious, but I was only curious about what he was thinking to the children.
I nodded. “That’s an excellent idea. Daan’s free to decline, but perhaps he’d like the opportunity to meet everyone before he makes his final decision.”
He nodded slowly with a startled look on his face.
After a moment, Sookie giggled and walked towards him with her hand out. “Come on. It’ll be like a dress-rehearsal. If you’re coming over after school, you’ll be here for dinner anyway, right?”
He looked like he was afraid Sookie’s hand would burn him as he took it and stood. “Uhhhh, yes ma’am. I suppose so.”
As she tugged him along, she offered, “Alright then. Let’s leave the King to negotiate with your aunt, you know, just in case you think you can put up with us. Is there anything you’ve been saving up for?”
Julie watched them leave the room, but once they were in the kitchen, she cupped her little hands around my ear and whispered, “He’s worried about taking the job because he stays after school to use the computers. His uncle uses theirs for work.”
I nodded and set her down. “I forgot to mention Daan would be given a laptop to help him organize his responsibilities.”
She smiled as she ran to the kitchen. “On it!”
Nell Bennis bowed again. “Lovely children, Majesty. Am I behind on my gossip or is Miss Stackhouse a new pet?”
“They’ve just joined me from their home in Louisiana. Do you have any objections to allowing your nephew to work for me?”
Sookie whispered my name to get my attention and offered, “She’s thrilled all over herself. Mental cartwheels.”
From the kitchen. She was helping me from the kitchen.
Daan’s aunt shook her head. “No Majesty… I’ve been quite worried about him. He’s always been shy, but since his mother passed, he’s gotten worse. I’m shocked he took Miss Stackhouse’s hand. He’s usually quite against physical contact.”
“Perhaps having an activity away from school will help. You said his mother passed.”
She nodded. “She was beautiful. She modeled. A few years ago she collapsed during a photo shoot. As young as she was, she had a heart attack. She’d been taking diet pills for years.”
“What of the father?”
“We don’t know who he is. My sister said there wasn’t any point in talking about him because he wasn’t ‘in the picture’. Daan is under the impression he’s an American firefighter. It’s why he’s always been so keen about American English, anything American really.”
Daan’s impression was probably based on what he’d taken from his mother’s thoughts… and I was sure the identity of Daan’s father was something Charlie would be willing to help with.
“That’s unfortunate… Perhaps you’d like to discuss Daan’s position and his wages with your husband before we come to an agreement.”
She nodded thoughtfully. “I’m sure whatever you offer will be fair, Majesty. My primary concern would be his transportation. I know there haven’t been any Der Butzemann reports in this area, but I still worry.”
“You needn’t worry about that any longer… Given Daan’s age, he could negotiate his wage for himself. Of course I’ll make sure you approve before anything is officially settled.”
She nodded. “He could benefit…” She paused to gasp. “Did you say Der Butzemann isn’t a threat?”
“I did. He was discovered, identified, tried and executed. Lord Edward and Lord Richard apprehended him after we learned he was in Tandel. Der Butzemann has attacked and drained his last child.”
Her eyes welled and she shook her head. “Thank you, Majesty. I know the news will be a relief to every parent in Europe.”
“I’m sure… Given that Daan will be negotiating his own terms…”
She stepped towards the archway and offered, “Yes, of course, Majesty. I’ll see myself out.”
“You’re free to leave, but I wasn’t excusing you. I was suggesting we join everyone in the kitchen.”
When she realized she was staring at me, she shifted her focus back to the Vermeer.
“My apologies. I was just thinking… If you don’t mind, I think I’ll wait for Daan at home…”
I assumed she was uncomfortable in the company of Vampires, making her etiquette that much more impressive.
She continued, “Majesty, I think this experience will do wonders for Daan. He’s very smart and well-behaved, but his imagination gets the best of him sometimes. His chores at home haven’t helped to ground him.”
“You think this new responsibility will be a reality check for him, yes?” I almost laughed… I was sure Daan’s telepathic claims were the cause for her concern.
She nodded. “Yes Majesty.”
As I showed her to the door where Bastiaan was waiting, I offered, “That sounds like the perfect excuse for you to run home and call your friends to gossip about Der Butzemann. You’re the first Human to hear the news.”
Dinh was sitting at the table while Sookie coached Saskia, Brandon and the children through the steps of preparing the polenta… As soon as I walked into the kitchen, Hunter abandoned his task at the counter to leap into my arms.
Hunter put his tiny hands on either side of my face and grinned. “You’re in a much better mood tonight.”
I nodded. “That doesn’t say much since I can’t remember a time when I was in a worse mood than the one I was in last night.”
“Yeah, but you’re even better than before… How’d you find Daan?”
“Cornelius told me.”
Hunter nodded very seriously. “He’s a very smart horse.”
“That he is. Was that your only question you have for me tonight?”
“Nope. Where’s Miss Klaasje and Miss Pam?”
Since I’d been hoping one of them would interrupt Sookie and me earlier, I’d come to realize Pam was on the property. Close enough I assumed she’d spent the day in Charlie’s apartment. What Klaasje and Pam could have been doing with Charlie wasn’t something I considered suitable for young ears.
“That’s a very good question.”
Brandon offered, “They stayed in Charlie’s room for the day. They were working on the glamour therapy thing until he crashed, then Rosalie woke up and they got on the topic of the Fair…”
Sookie finished, “Charlie and Rosalie went to take naps, getting used to the new schedule and all. They’re up and heading this way.”
I wanted to mention it was the first civil thing Brandon had said to me since the night we met… instead I nodded. “Apparently you saved that question for the wrong person. You should have asked a telepath.”
Daan gulped loudly enough for Hunter to hear him.
Hunter giggled, “Daan isn’t sure about this. He’s nervous.”
“Nervous about his job offer, nervous about meeting other telepaths for the first time, nervous to be with so many strangers in general, or nervous that his aunt left him in the care of a Vampire?”
Hunter snorted, “The Vampire one is really low on the list, but all of that.”
Before I could say anything, Brandon snorted, “The Vampire thing should be at the top of your list, kid. The same thing that made you telepathic, makes your blood taste like candy to a Vampire. You’re really lucky you were summoned to the castle instead of tossed in the trunk of a car.”
Daan gulped again and nodded. “You know what causes it? How I’m like this?”
Before I could ask what I’d missed, Sookie offered, “We hadn’t gotten to genealogy yet. We’ve just been making introductions and discussing shields.”
I didn’t set Hunter down before I approached Daan, but he still froze when I leaned over to sample his scent.
“He’s fourth generation. His scent is as strong as Sookie’s. His aunt said her sister was a model…”
Sookie sighed and leaned against the counter to ask, “Was she just beautiful or was she alluring?”
I shrugged. “Nell Bennis is completely Human… and his father is an unknown.”
Daan shook his head. “Nell and my mother only have the same mother. Half-sisters… And my father isn’t unknown.”
“According to your aunt, he is. What do you know about him?”
“His name is Daniel. He was a fireman in Boston when my parents dated. She was in Boston for a job when they met.”
“Why is he estranged?”
The boy shrugged. “I couldn’t guess. My mother didn’t think about it.”
Brandon offered, “In my experience, that usually means it was her fault. People don’t like thinking about their own mistakes unless they’re pushed somehow… That’s nothing against your mother though. Mine did the same thing. I never knew my father either.”
When Brandon snorted and shot a look at Sookie, she shook her head and explained, “A Daniel in Boston… Oh Danny Boy is stuck in my head right now. Sorry… This might be a job for Charlie.”
Brandon narrowed his eyes and mumbled, “Maybe not,” as he dried his hands on his jeans.
When he walked towards his laptop, I set Hunter down… While we waited, I explained, “Hiring you as a tutor for the children is a ruse. The children should learn to speak Dutch, but I could do that. Being employed by me is an excuse for you to spend time with other telepaths. Sookie and Brandon struggled with their shields, but they’ve since learned to control them. They’ve separately developed strengths. Sookie can gage every nuance of Vampires’ minds, while Brandon excels with deciphering the thoughts of Weres and Shifters…”
Daan shook his head. “Weres? Shifters?”
“Baastian, the guard who brought you to the castle, is a Werewolf. The rest of my guards are Shifters… Red, pulsing, difficult to interpret, occasional growling…”
He breathed, “That would explain why stealing your apples is a big deal… rumors about rogue horses and deranged cattle.”
I chuckled, “The guards look forward to the attempts… Dinh, Daan will need a laptop and a cell phone to keep with the appearance of being Hunter and Julie’s tutor. Let the guards know there needs to be someone waiting at the school for Daan daily. And tell Gerrit to begin considering more staff. The traffic at the estate isn’t likely to subside in the immediate future. Sullivan should be recharging the wards more often as well.”
He nodded and began adding his tasks to his phone… Sookie turned to the stove to explain to Saskia that she used to ‘cheat’ by using ‘quick grits’, while the children resumed shaking a bowl full of peeled shrimp and spices.
After a few minutes, Daan blurted, “FAERIE!?”
It didn’t really matter which one of the telepaths had told him.
I nodded. “They’re nothing like what you’ve read about or seen in movies. Full-blooded Faeries appear to be Human with the exception of pointed ears. They live impressively long lives. They’re vulnerable to citrus and iron… And apparently, when they breed with Humans, their children inherit certain abilities… When I mentioned that you’re fourth generation, it was a reference to your scent being sweeter than a Human’s. We can safely assume one of your great-grandparents was the full Faerie… There’s a lot I don’t know about Faeries because the best chance a Faerie has for survival is staying the fuck away from Vampires. Their scent and blood are intoxicating…”
Sookie quickly added, “But not us. We’re Human enough that we’re only a curiosity in general. We smell and taste slightly different.”
I corrected, “It’s probably better not to sugarcoat for him, Sookie.”
She grimaced and sighed out a deep breath. “Good point… You need to be really leery of Vampires. There are Vampires like Eric who would hire someone like us to screen employees for lies, but the Vampire who held me captive for months kept me as a bloodslave.”
I nodded. “Therein lies the problem, Daan. Your scent is strong enough to catch the attention of Vampires, and if your ability is discovered…”
Sookie volunteered, “You could be used as a spy and mistreated in ways you couldn’t imagine to make you cooperate. Until Eric saved me, I was a prisoner…”
Brandon added, “It’s all stuff Sookie would’ve done for the prick if he just played nice, but it didn’t even occur to him to not kill the last of our family and her friends to get to her. Sookie’s lucky Eric came along when he did.”
Sookie and I couldn’t have been more surprised. I doubted grits had been responsible for his apparent volte-face.
Brandon’s jaw clenched before he waved, signaling me to join him at his computer. “Wait. I summoned Daan so he could be warned about what could happen to him if he isn’t guarded in regards to what he is. Sookie’s oblivion disproved the ‘ignorance is bliss’ theory. To my knowledge, no one has asked the boy if he wants to contact his father.”
“I’d want to know if I had kids running around out there, especially with my ability being a factor.”
I agreed, “I would too, but you’re assuming Daan’s father has a blatant ability. Your father died without knowing his heritage affected him… His father could be telepathic, as you passed your ability on to Julie, but Hunter’s mother produced a telepath when she was an undiscovered empath. You can’t assume they’d instantly have anything in common… Regardless, Daan is old enough to make the decision.”
He rolled his eyes and huffed, “Fair enough… but… I’m not trying to be an asshole about this, but… I regret not meeting my family. Hindsight and all… I could have met my brother, grandmother and aunt before they all died, and I almost didn’t get to meet Sookie. Just my two cents-”
Daan blurted, “I don’t care! I’ve always wanted to meet him, before my mother died even, but I don’t know enough about him to even start looking. If he’s like me, if he’s a freak too, that’s just a bonus!”
I offered, “Are you prepared for him to deny paternity? Tell you to fuck off? Be hostile towards your mother for keeping you to herself? He may or may not calm down, but…”
I paused, out of pure shock, when Brandon nodded to agree with my train of thought. “Eric’s right. You can’t guess how he’s going to take the surprise. You kind of need to brace yourself.”
Daan snorted, “I’m terrified… but I want to know. I want to try.”
Brandon mumbled, “Good for him.”
I shook my head as I walked towards Brandon. “Not necessarily… What did you want to show me?”
He cleared his throat and pointed to his laptop screen. He’d opened the document we’d been given by the hostess of out most recent skip, the list of ‘Extra-Humans’ that Sookie had met thanks to her books. Our new copies of the journal weren’t something we were preoccupied with last night.
The search field contained ‘Daniel’ and nothing more. The first of the highlighted results was Nigel Daniels from Ipswich, England and his three children with various gifts. He’d known all along he was third generation because he was raised by his half-Fae mother. He only came forward when his eldest child began reading the Notorious books…
Brandon pressed the enter button to skip to the next ‘Dan’ in the document. Daniela DiPolito from Como, Italy and her brother Corrado. Salome had compared their scent to Sookie’s, labeling them as fourth generation. They were clueless because their parents had mysteriously disappeared while Daniela and Corrado were quite young…
The third ‘Daniel’ in the document was Daniel Driscoll. He was practically a footnote in a long entry about another Fae hybrid. He lived in Worchester, Massachusetts with his wife and 10-year old son. Daniel met his wife, Rosario, when he ‘filled-in’ at the fire station she was assigned to. As an empath, Rosario recognized Daniel’s ability… she was familiar with the sensation of having her mind read because her mother and grandmother had been telepaths. Daniel Driscoll was married to Rosario Trejo, older sister of Pilar, eleven years ago.
I read the details of that entry four times to be sure I wasn’t connecting dots that weren’t meant to be connected.
Brandon sighed, “That’s all we got, but I think it’s strong enough for a phone call. If it isn’t him, he might know who we’re looking for at least, since he’s on the list and all.”
I nodded, trying to decide if I would contact Driscoll or Pilar first… Given how difficult Pilar had been, I didn’t think about it for long.
“Daan, in the interest of sparing you from false hope, would you like for me to contact a likely prospect?”
“You… you… you think you know someone who could be him?”
“We have a list of people who might have abilities. One of them is a firefighter named Daniel. I’m offering to call him to ask if he even knew your mother.”
He nodded and blurted, “Marieke! Yeah. Please. I’d… I can’t think of the word… kotsen?”
I snorted, “Vomit.”
Hunter piped, “Barf, puke, hurl…”
Julie added, “Spew, retch and… ralph!”
When Julie said ‘ralph’, she actually sounded like she was in the process of it… Rrrraaaaaalffffff!
We all stared at her.
She giggled and repeated the disgusting process with ‘kotsen’ until Sookie asked her to stop.
I shook my head. “It’s a very good thing you’re cute, because that was revolting… Brandon, if you’d care to join me for the elimination round…”
It wasn’t as though the distance between the kitchen and my office required careful consideration of footwear, but given how eagerly Brandon followed me, I pondered about what the fuck changed his attitude so quickly until I sat behind my desk.
He began typing as soon as he sat down and explained he was checking to be sure the phone number for Daniel and Rosario Driscoll was the same for both versions and then read the number to me…
His knee bounced as the phone rang through the speaker and he blurted a reminder about the time difference. It was amusing enough that I almost missed hearing the front door open as Klaasje, Pam, Charlie and Rosalie finally joined the party.
A man grunted incoherently into the receiver, snorting several times before answering, “Dan Driscoll.”
“I apologize for the late hour, Mr. Driscoll, but I’m calling from the Netherlands…”
“Wait…” There was a rustling before several clumsy footsteps and finally the sound of a door closing. “Look, I’m sorry, but I don’t have any pictures of Marieke. I told your friend, we only dated for a few months.”
Brandon’s eyes lit up and he mouthed, ‘jackpot’.
“I wasn’t calling to ask about photographs.”
“Then what are you calling me from Holland for? Who is this?”
“My name is Eric Northman. I’m curious about your relationship with Marieke Klompenhower…”
“Look, she was a really sweet girl. I’m sorry about what happened to her, but we dated for a few months while she was in Boston, working on a Visa. When she went home, we split up and she called me again a few months later and said she wanted to see me, but I was seeing someone else by then so I turned her down…” That explained most of the estrangement, but we’d probably never learn Marieke’s reasons to drop the subject. “She liked sad movies. She always wore something red. She talked to her sister every day. Call her sister, man. She’ll be able to tell you whatever you want to know.”
I almost needed my own translator… Bah-stin, lay-tah, sis-tah… If Richard and Edward didn’t mock the Red Sox in full accent, I might have been lost.
“When she called did she mention why she wanted to see you?”
“I got the feeling she was coming back to the States for a shoot or something and she wanted to hook up. It wasn’t like we didn’t get along. When I turned her down, she accused me of dating her just for bragging rights, you know, blue-collar guy dating an international model, and then she slammed the phone down… So what are you working on? Like a retrospective like the other guy?”
“No. I’m the King of the Northern Empire. My official residence is in Eijsden…”
“No shit! That sounds like the town Marieke’s from. Is she like getting a park bench or something? Famous native and all?”
I’d like to think I’d remember hearing about or being introduced to her. I’d been introduced to a native of Maastricht who’d played the role of a body in Law & Order. It seemed like any excuse was good enough to expect an introduction.
I covered the receiver and whispered to ask Brandon to Google Marieke Klompenhower, just to check my memory.
“No. It’s a funny coincidence though. I spoke to your sister-in-law a few nights ago. Pilar was on a list of extra-Humans I stumbled upon…”
His tone became much more serious. “How did you stumble upon this list, pal?”
“I was contacted by an old friend who had been held prisoner. Three Vampires, who have since been executed, abducted her and enslaved her for the use of her telepathy. I’ve since evacuated her family from Louisiana.”
“Me and Pilar, we’re on this list?”
“As are your wife and son, yes.”
He growled, “What the fuck do you want?”
“Nothing. I’m not a threat to you. I have several telepaths at my disposal already… The reason I’m calling is Marieke had a son. His name is Daan Klompenhower. The boy is being raised by Marieke’s sister.”
“You’re not telling me the boy is mine.”
“Unless Marieke was a hybrid as well, it seems very likely. Daan is telepathic like you. Judging by his scent, he’s fourth generation.”
“She named him Daan?”
Brandon was watching his computer screen and chewing on his cuticles.
After he muttered to himself about dates and months, he breathed, “Holy Mary, mother of God,” and shoved open a door.
“It seems he only knows enough about his father to be frustrated by a lack of facts he can actually research. He only learned as much as your first name and occupation from his mother’s thoughts. If it hadn’t been for the list of hybrids I confiscated, we would have had to call every firehouse in Boston.”
It didn’t seem like he noticed anything I’d said.
“Rosie. Rosie, baby… Rosie, wake up.”
A woman groaned, “I’m off tonight, Cappy. Call Maretti.”
Brandon and I chuckled at the woman and he turned his computer around to show a large image, a Vogue cover… an attractive dark-haired girl in a couture wedding gown with a single red feather in her hair.
It took a moment to realize I fucked her… I actually winced.
Brandon whispered, “You fucked Daan’s mom?”
“Of course not. I’m a thousand-year old virgin.”
He quietly sang, “Awkward,” while Dan Driscoll continued to try waking up his wife.
“Only if Daan finds out.”
“How the fuck do you remember them all?”
“I don’t… I barely remember her and only because she didn’t look as though she needed a chaperone and a meal like most models have for decades. I’m not even sure where I met her… but I remember a rose tattoo in the small of her back…” And heavy curtains…
Brandon covered his mouth with his fist to hide he was nearly biting through his lip to keep from laughing.
“Don’t pretend to be an innocent.”
He shook his head. “Not judging… hoping my blocks don’t slip before it stops being funny.”
I opened my mouth to mention Luus’s arrival, let him believe there was a connection between girls I’d fucked and his new interest, but we had company.
Just as he did the night before, Gawain arrived quickly enough to surprise Brandon… He easily relieved Brandon of his laptop and sat on his legs.
He raised an eyebrow at the phone while Dan Driscoll tried to explain the situation to his wife, but decided to peruse Brandon’s computer.
He immediately began chuckling quietly. “I love models. They’re a modern marvel. They fuck like animals and they never smell like food. Unless you find them at a formal affair. Then they smell of champagne and berries.”
That reminded me… and explained why I remembered curtains. “That’s where I met her… the Opera House opening.”
Gawain nodded. “You too? Red dress, rose tattoo on her back?”
I refused to think about which one of us had the first turn.
Brandon started laughing through his nose. “Yeah… poor kid doesn’t need to know all that.”
Why not? Every boy should know his mother moonlighted as a carnival ride.
Gawain turned enough to ask Brandon, “What kid?”
“Another version of them found a local telepath. Eric called him out to the house so we can share tips and tricks, and warn him about how he’s asshole bait…”
I added, “Our recent hostess provided a list of known hybrids. The boy’s long lost father was on it.”
“How did she manage that?”
“She’s written a series of novels about the adventures of a young telepath. Several of them were published pre-Revelation. Curiosity drew them out.”
He raised his eyebrows and asked, “Have you been back to the Opera House? I haven’t.”
I snorted, “No… She died a few years ago. The boy has been living with his aunt.”
Gawain turned to look at Brandon. “Will you feel neglected if I follow my curiosity to the kitchen?”
Brandon rolled his eyes and cooed, “I’ll try to be brave.”
Gawain kissed him and called him a good girl as he left. Brandon shook his head and rolled his eyes, calling him ‘Chester the molester’.
Dan Driscoll’s wife clarified, “You knocked up that model you dated?”
He answered, “Crazy huh?”
“Where is he? How did he find you? How old does that make him, like 15? Have you thought about anything, like when you want to meet him? Is his aunt cool with… WAIT. What is he?”
“He’s in Eijsden, that town Marieke was from. He’s 14. I wanna go out to see him ASAP. Danny’s gonna shit… I dunno ‘bout Nell though. Marieke always said she worried a lot. Could wanna be protective of him… He’s a telepath like me… He didn’t call me. Some Vampire did…”
“Vampire? Not Eric Northman.”
Uh oh. Pilar had warned her sister about Vampires trolling for telepathic pets, but the news didn’t make it to the rest of the family.
“Yeah. And thanks for telling me Pilar called.”
She groaned sleepily, “I was on duty and then we got a call. Besides, you know how paranoid she is… Guess I’ll have to call her and tell her to chill her tits. If he’s callin’ to tell you about your kid, he can’t be but so shady. He coulda just kept him to himself.”
The logical side of the Trejo family tree.
Daniel lifted the phone to huff, “You said the telepath in your kitchen. He’s there. Daan. My boy’s there now.”
“Is he listening? Is he who you’re whisperin’ to? Can I talk to him?”
“I called you because he was anxious about your reaction. He’s waiting for word. What should I tell him?”
He chuckled, “He’s in a Vampire’s house and he’s scared of ME!? Tell him not to be scared. I wouldn’t have left him in the wind if I knew about him… He’s got a brother, a little brother… grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, lots of ‘em. I’m from a huge family.”
“Is Boston a hotspot for Faeries?”
“Nah. My mom couldn’t have kids. I was adopted… so were my four siblings. Never found my birth-parents. They all know about me though.”
“Would you like to speak to Daan?”
“Hell yeah… Fuck. Nell’s Human. How the fuck are we gonna tell her how Daan found me?”
“I’m a king. We’ll just say I found you by pulling political strings. Marieke Klompenhower’s notoriety will help…”
“Thank God! Firemen named Dan are a dime-a-dozen so callin’ firehouses wouldn’t have narrowed it down much… three of ‘em at my station. Like Bobs and Joes. Well, it’s Boston, so it’s Dannys, Bobbys and Joeys.”
“As it stands, he’s posing as a Dutch tutor for the two children in my care while my pet and her brother can offer their support and tutelage. All four of them are telepaths… I’ll tell the boy you’re waiting to speak to him, but I suggest you slow down and possibly curtail your accent. He speaks English fluently, but it’s his second language.”
“Fuck. Yeah. Thanks. I didn’t even think a’that.”
For the second time that night, I collided with a running female…
Ema threw the front door open and slammed directly into my chest as Brandon and I were passing through to the kitchen.
I had to catch her just like Julie while Dillon occupied himself by collecting the papers she dropped.
She laughed, “You’re like a brick wall!”
“You aren’t the first one to bounce off of me tonight. Why are you so rushed?”
“I’m soooooo late. I wanted to help with dinner, but just when I started grabbing my stuff to head out, I had a spell…” She snatched a pair of drawings from Dillon and shoved them towards me. “Dillon’s worried because he’s seen this kid around town, but he doesn’t know who the guy is. Any ideas?”
The ‘kid’ was very clearly Daan… and given the similarities, Daniel was most likely the subject of her other sketch.
I chuckled, “I might,” and motioned for them to follow me to the kitchen.
As soon as we entered the standing-room only kitchen, Dillon spotted Daan and mumbled, “One down, one to go.”
I offered, “Daan, assuming you’ve been introduced to everyone else, this is one of my guards, Dillon Rutger. You’ll see him on the property often if you haven’t already noticed his presence in town.”
Daan nodded. “I’ve noticed him… Everyone knows who your guards are.”
“And this is my friend, Ema from Texas. She’s a psychic of unknown ancestry… She just delivered these.”
When I held the sketches up, drawn on pages ripped from the Maastricht University course catalog, Daan breathed, “Scheiße. That’s how… that’s how Mama remembered my father.”
I nodded. “I assumed as much. Speaking of your father. Daniel Driscoll, telepathic firefighter from Boston, is currently on hold.”
The boy didn’t budge, frozen as though his shoes were anchored to the floor. “Is he angry?”
“He doesn’t seem to be. He’s anxious to speak to the son he never knew about. He answers to Dan. You have a stepmother named Rosario, and a half-brother named Danny. They’re all hybrids with abilities like you.”
Julie warned, “Don’t puke!”
Gawain put his hands on Daan’s shoulders and began steering him towards my office. “Let’s avoid that, shall we… The most negative thing I overheard was a comment about your brother being jealous you’re telepathic. It seems he prefers the usefulness of his father’s ability. He inherited empathy.”
As they walked through the hall, Daan snorted, “An hour ago, I thought I was the only one… Just meeting these people was enough… then they mentioned family… I don’t know if I can do this…”
“Sure you can. Save the vomit for when you meet him in person. You didn’t have the opportunity to ruin his clothing when you were an infant.”
I was actually proud of Gawain for making him laugh.
Before I could ask, Sookie offered, “You didn’t miss much. Charlie wants to go with us to Ramstein tomorrow night to offer field-related input. Dinh answered a phone-call from the grocer’s wife. She wants to kiss your butt by catering to your American pets by carrying our favorites so we’re working on a list. Pam and Klaasje are downstairs showering and putting on fresh clothes because they’re meeting with the fair committee about details… And you helped a little boy find his dad.”
Other than a possible visit to the barn with the children, and figuring out why Brandon was suddenly so cooperative, I had no clue what the fuck I was going to distract myself with until it was bedtime.
I nodded, trying to remember how much of Alexei’s affairs were left to settle when my back, just between my shoulder blades, was jabbed with something sharp.
“Your back was turned to an unsecured door, Majesty. You’re slipping.”
I spun around to catch her arm and Luus’s weapon was an ink pen.
She shrugged and smirked. “Miss me?”
She’d been ‘sneaking’ up on me since she learned to walk… and she was still just as amused as she ever was. She shifted for the first time at the estate, appropriate given that she’d taken her first steps here too…
Luus wasn’t fearless (close, but not quite), she just spent more of her life thinking of me as her father’s boss.
“Of course I have. It’s more fun to make fun of Miles with company.”
She leaned towards me, pecking my cheek as she always had and Brandon’s face fell.
That settled it… Fucking with Brandon was going to be my next distraction.