From my seat, I watched every move Sookie made, hung on every word she uttered to anyone…
She knew… it wasn’t as though I was hiding it, but she winked at me from time to time, secretively signing for me to behave and that she loved me between tasks.
It was nearly 11 o’clock when a man sat at the bar near her.
Short blond hair. Blue eyes. White dress shirt and black tie, but no jacket. He seemed tense, but not quite fearful.
What got my attention was that when Ramon took his order for a Jack and Cherry Coke, he asked for Sookie by calling her ‘Miss Stackhouse’.
Sookie didn’t look back at the man right away, holding her finger up to signal him to wait while she finished unfucking a large party’s tab.
She finally turned around, grinning hospitably. “What can I do for you?”
He cheeked the ice he was crunching and cleared his throat. “My name is Brandon Rousseau… I was hoping to talk to you in private for a minute.”
“Private is a matter of perspective, sir. No one talks to me without my Master present. If you just want to make a pass, you’re wasting your time. I’m spoken for.” Good girl.
“Trust me. I’m not going to hit on you.” How was that believable? Even gay men had been appreciating what Sookie was doing for her tiny red dress.
“Then what are we talking about?” Before she was done speaking her head tilted to the side.
“It’s a private matter.”
She narrowed her eyes and looked towards me. “Do we have a moment?” Something about him was bothering her, but she wasn’t scared. If I had to put a finger on it, I’d say she was confused.
I left my seat, leading the way to the way to my office and waiting for Sookie and her visitor to enter before closing the door.
Sookie barely held it that long. “What do you want to talk about, Mr. Rousseau?”
He eyed me carefully before starting, “Just so you know, I want information. I’m not up to anything creepy.”
She huffed and pointed to a guest chair. She rambled, “Damn it. Sam Merlotte was here for a grand total of five minutes earlier. He didn’t say where he was going and the only hint he gave was that he was staying ‘just over the state line’, but not which state. I haven’t heard from him since the night the baby was born otherwise and I didn’t bother reporting it because I thought it was a waste of manpower…”
He’d looked surprised while she gave the limited details of Merlotte’s visit and finally shook his head to stop her. “You think I’m a cop? No… That’s not why I’m here.”
I took her hand and led her over to my chair, sitting down and leading her to sit on my lap. Since she seemed more baffled, I offered, “Then perhaps you should explain your reason.”
He huffed as he sat down. “It’s kind of a long story. I was actually looking for Corbett.”
“Then how did you end up in Fangtasia asking for Sookie?”
“Well, I… Corbett wasn’t home. I ended up at this little bar out in Bon Temps. Business was slow and the bartender tried to chat me up. I told him that I was just looking for someone and since it was a small town I figured I’d ask… He said Corbett’s never home, but if it was an emergency I should try to find Sookie here.” He’d barely taken his eyes off of Sookie, but at least he was looking at her face.
“Why are you looking for Corbett?”
“That’s personal. I was just hoping Sookie would contact him and give him my number.”
Sookie sighed, “If he owes you money, I’ll take care of it. What was it? Did he forget a hundred dollar bet on a football game?” It wasn’t unlikely. If he could forget to put gas in his truck routinely, he could forget a small bar bet.
He shook his head. “No.”
“I’m not telling you jack-shit unless you tell me why you’re trying to find my father. Sorry pal.”
He cleared his throat again. “He’s… he’s my father too.” Suddenly it made sense… Why he clearly wasn’t interested in making a pass, why he walked into Fangtasia wearing a tie instead of a leash… Blond hair, blue eyes, athletic build… He’d even chewed on his ice like the rest of the Stackhouses. And the sudden return of a ‘wild oat’ might explain why Corbett felt like he was waiting for something to happen… why he felt like he should be with family… unfuckingbelievable.
In spite of the deluge of feelings Sookie was swept by, all she could muster as a reply was, “What?”
“Who is Jason? The bartender said we look alike.” I had to guess that Terry had been working the bar at the time. Lafayette would’ve just made advances.
“Jason is my brother… How is Corbett your father?”
“He hooked up with my mom for a while… I’m not out for anything… The thing is, I’ve got a girlfriend. She wants to settle down, have some kids… I kind of just want to make sure I wouldn’t… I wanted to know if there was something on my father’s side that I could pass down.”
Sookie jerked and blurted, “I KNEW IT!”
She narrowed her eyes, tilting her head. “Drop your shields, Brandon. Enjoy the echo.” No.
“Is Corbett one too?”
She shook her head. “No… He has other stuff going on… for instance, the reason he isn’t home tonight is because he’s in Shreveport. His Spidey-Senses were telling him to be closer to family tonight. Jason’s just… Eric, what would you call it?”
“Empathic, I think, since he can read moods easily.”
He squeezed his eyes closed for a moment before opening them again, still looking just as shocked as he did before. “Corbett’s a psychic. His son is an empath and you’re a telepath too… I guess that answers my question about genetically fucking my kids… but how the hell does that happen?”
“There’s something supernatural in the Stackhouse woodpile. Daddy’s parents were normal as far as we know… So who are you? Where did you grow up? What… oh, that’s funny now that I think about it. Cherry Coke and Jack is Daddy’s drink… Do you know if he knew about you? Wait. How old are you?” There was no way to describe how Sookie was feeling other than saying that her guarded feelings had waned.
“I manage a book store in town, but I grew up in Minden. I’m not sure if he knows about me. The father line on my birth certificate was blank until my step-father adopted me. All he knew was that my father’s name was Cort Stackhouse and he lived in Bon Temps with his family. Corbett was the only listing for a Stackhouse in Bon Temps. My mom died without ever telling me anything about him. I never asked because I had Tom. My birthday is March 15th. I’m 25… Your turn.” He was only a matter of weeks older than Sookie.
“You gotta understand that I’m going to beat Daddy’s ass. My mother was a bitch, but fathering kids… I mean… damn.”
“No… I get it. I caught that he was married and a few scattered details, but not much else.”
“Cort is what women call Daddy unless he’s in the doghouse, just so you know… Daddy and my mom split up when I was nine-ish. Daddy never remarried, but my mom did. Calvin’s awesome. He practically raised me and Jason while Mom slowly drank herself to death. Jason went to school for computers and works for a bank in San Francisco maintaining their networking… He’s married to a fabulous girl. Lauren’s a party planner when she isn’t being a super-mom to their little boy, Junior… Me? My mom had me locked up for a while and I ended up walling up my mind and not using my telepathy for 15 years. I married an asshole who’d been cheating on me since we were still engaged, that’s what I get for not using my ability, and we recently split up. We had three beautiful babies though and now I’m with Eric. Happy as a clam.”
“You said kids… you and Jason have four between you? Are they all ok?”
“I mean are they normal?”
“Mag’s only two weeks old, so the jury is still out on him… Junior, Tina and Shelly are all like us. Proud little telepaths.”
She shook her head. “Do you want to meet them? Daddy? They’re all at the house.”
“You’ve got four telepaths in the family? What the hell are you smiling about? I was in high school before I got a handle on my shields.”
“Just because your mom was normal though. Our kids aren’t stuck thinking they’re the only telepaths on the planet. Hell, Eric and Lauren are more creative than I am. They’ve been reinventing old-school kids’ games for them. They love it.”
“You’re shitting me.”
“Nope. I’m not gonna tell you to have kids if you don’t want to, but you should at least see the difference. The adults in their lives know what they are and we do everything we can to nurture it instead of make them feel like freaks like my mother did. Lauren is a Human and I just told her earlier that I wished I had her for a mom instead. She’s being great about it… and she’s only known for a few weeks. Junior hid it. Tina and Shelly had each other though.”
“What’s he like? Corbett.”
“He’s perpetually 15. He’s sweet and loveable and fun, but make no mistakes about it… he’s more of a drinking buddy than a dad type. My stepfather had to walk him through parenting. He’s a much better grandparent than he ever was a father because he can just be fun.” That was probably the most fitting description I’d heard of Corbett yet.
“You’re being really cool about this. I kinda pictured being tossed out on my ass.”
“I dunno. Family skeletons and all.”
She giggled, “Ohhhh, but you got here after my ex-husband went on the lam for murdering a Vampire, forcing me to pay child support to the children he fathered while we were married. I can so handle a ‘long lost’ brother… What do you say? Wanna go meet the family? Eric wanted to go home early anyway.” Not for visiting!
“How do you think it’ll go? I really don’t know why he wasn’t around.”
“We can’t know for sure unless we ask him. C’mon, man up. You were going to introduce yourself earlier anyway, right?”
She left my lap to go hug him and told him to go get his car while she left instructions for the staff and changed so Corbett wouldn’t have a heart attack as soon as he saw her.
The car door was barely closed behind me when she huffed, “The other Sookies and Jasons probably have a Brandon too.”
“Why wouldn’t he have contacted them?”
“Well… there’s nothing saying that all of the versions have a Brandon thinking about meeting Corbett right now, but… If other Brandons are looking for Corbett, he won’t find more than a grave and an obit… Those Brandons might look up other Stackhouses in the area, but most of the Grans are dead and the Sookies moved to Shreveport and those Jasons aren’t ever home either because he took up the roll of ‘town ho’… I need to add him to the journal. If we have another skip, Gran’s going to want to know.”
“Have you been adding to the journal?”
She nodded. “Like a diary… especially stuff like Hide and Seek… Memory is going into it too. It’s hard to decide what gets put in though. I mean the differences between the first two versions are huge and it all boiled down to an Eric being in his office instead of kicking a groper. It makes me wonder… Without a skip, there could be an oblivious Sookie sitting across from her telepathic half-brother in Merlotte’s right now, telling him that there’s no reason for him to think his kids would get more than blond hair and blue eyes from him… Have you been adding to it?”
“I have… while you add paragraphs about Memory and Brandon, I’ll be adding that blow job.”
She snickered. “Twas nothin’… you needed it before you pulled someone apart. I told Darius to maim someone if it was necessary to keep them out of the back hallway.”
“Smart… I definitely would’ve ruined your clean floor if we’d been interrupted…” And if I continued to think about it, I’d deteriorate again. “How do you think your father’s going to take the news of Brandon?”
“Before or after I kick him in his balls for cheating on my mother? Did you catch that Brandon is only 15 weeks older than me? We’re practically twins.”
“You’ve considered your father to be a slut all along. This would just adjust the date of onset. Don’t let yourself be too preoccupied with it. What’s done is done.”
“Does monogamy come with the X chromosome? Is it just a damn guy thing? I mean, did you do that shit?” I should’ve just continued to think about the blow job.
“Did I spread nameless children everywhere I went? No.”
“How do you know? Was monogamy big in Medieval Scandinavia?”
“No. Anal and oral were.”
She gave me a dirty look while she tried to keep from laughing. “Smart ass. You know what I mean.”
“I do, but you’re inviting a multilayered debate during a 12-mile drive with someone whose seed language didn’t have a translation for monogamy. The short answer is that your concept of monogamy isn’t an idea that can be simplified down to verbiage. I personally think it’s a matter of mutual respect and sacrifice.”
“I wouldn’t say sacrifice. I don’t think it’s a big deal to expect…”
“Hold on. I’ll clarify… A man and a woman meet and fall desperately in love. The man is emphatically vegetarian for devout religious beliefs, but the woman enjoys bacon too much to take him seriously… yet she goes through the motions of converting to Buddhism and gorges on meat products by the pound behind his back. When the man discovers his wife at a restaurant with bloody steak in her mouth, is he upset by the meat, or her lie?”
She pouted, “The lie.”
“Because if she’d been honest about how attached she was to meat, he’d have been able to decide if her diet was a forgivable difference… See, in your case with Merlotte, you have the right to begrudge him for hypocritically accusing you of his own indiscretions every time you were friendly to a customer and you have the right to be upset by the three, possibly four, children he fathered elsewhere… He married someone who expected fidelity when he didn’t have the willpower to provide it… Now, I ask you, would you expect him to refrain from shifting?”
“No. He can’t help… fuck you. Are you seriously trying to say that I was being unreasonable to expect him to stay out of our friends and neighbors?”
“Not at all. I’m saying that if he told you he was still sleeping with other women before you were married, you wouldn’t have married him. And the same could be said for him. There are acceptable differences and there are deal-breakers.”
She huffed, “I’d have accepted his shifting. He’d have accepted my telepathy. But whoring around would’ve been a no-go…”
“It’s simply a matter of personal preferences and tolerance. You were ill-suited for each other.”
“Does the long answer include pointing the finger at religion for convincing people that monogamy is a prerequisite to heaven?”
“If I tried that argument, I might have to share you or defend myself from a hypocrisy allegation. No… The long answer includes a full psychological profile on your ex-husband to explain what’s so wrong with him that he’d ignore a treasure to play in sand.”
She blushed. “That’s sweet, but we aren’t talking about Sam this time.”
“There’s countless reasons why people ‘cheat’, Sookie… Your mother was a bitch. She wasn’t any better at being a wife than she was a mother from what I’ve heard. I’d venture to guess that Corbett preferred a bed without her in it… Since you’ve made no secrets about how important Calvin was to you while she was still alive, you cheated on her too. Try to not judge your father so harshly until you know more.”
She sighed. “Fair point… At least Daddy would’ve had a valid reason to shop around. It would’ve been more ethical for him to cut mom loose first, but whatever… if you’re so Zen about it, why do you hate Sam so hard? Is it just because of us or is it on principle?”
“Both. I have no patience for traitors. You might’ve been ‘just a wild school girl’ once, but you sacrificed your own goals in the process of giving him children and a home. You deserved to be treated like a Queen… by straying from your bed, he went against his Queen’s wishes… an unforgivable act of treason… I have a firm grasp of the concept of loyalty and I’m enjoying the spoils of war.”
“Yes. His loss being my gain.”
“Hmmm… talking about us like we’re property again.”
“Nonsense. Property doesn’t make me smile.”
Corbett was standing at the front window as we pulled to a stop in the driveway.
Continuing the childlike behavior he displayed earlier, he met us as we climbed out of the car. “You’re not supposed to be here. You were going home… and you’re early. What’s up?” He truly looked terrified… and it didn’t escape me that he didn’t have any reason to watch the driveway since we hadn’t called ahead.
Sookie didn’t stop walking until she was toe to toe with him. She put her hands on her hips and huffed, “In the interest of fairness, I’m going to ask… how many girlfriends did you have while you and Mom were married?”
“You didn’t date anyone?”
“Well… we split once. Call it a rocky start. Jason was still little. I dated one girl for a while, but I was living at my folks’…” When Brandon stepped out of his car, Corbett interrupted himself.
Brandon seemed to be bracing himself, slowly walking over to join us, saying nothing more than, “Hi.”
Corbett looked him over for a moment before he gasped, “Holy shit! You’re Julie and Tom’s boy, aren’t you? Brand? Last time I saw you, you were playing Bronco baseball… no, Pony. You were a hell of a 3rd baseman.”
“You saw me play baseball?”
Corbett nodded. “Yeah… yeah… Sookie was in your age bracket until she started playing softball in high school. Jason played too so I practically lived at the ball field. How’s your folks? It’s been like ten years since I talked to ‘em. Good people.” The fucking dullard had been watching his son play baseball and didn’t know.
“My mom got a really bad case of pneumonia a few years back. Didn’t make it. Tom had an aneurism in the spring.”
Corbett shook his head. “Damn shame. Tom was a lil awkward around me for a while ‘cuz I dated your…” And there it was. The moment. Corbett looked like a deer in headlights as ‘it’ hit him. “NO!”
Brandon nodded and shrugged and Sookie had to snap her fingers in Corbett’s face to get his attention. “Daddy, you were saying… you and Mom were split up… finish the story. Your nuts are in jeopardy.”
“I… uhhhhh… Jason was real little. We split up right after his 2nd birthday, I thought for good. Contract came through for a long term remod at a hotel… I met Julie at the diner next door. I asked her out… I was on that job for three months. Julie was an angel, kindest heart ever. She knew I was separated and had a boy at home… I asked her to move to Bon Temps with me once I shook loose from Michelle…” Sookie slapped him and Brandon and I were given dirty looks for laughing. “What!? It ain’t like you liked her!”
“Oh, nothing… except I almost didn’t happen! Finish your story.”
“Nothing else to tell. She turned me down. I got tangled up with my wife again…” Brandon’s mother probably didn’t realize she was pregnant when she turned Corbett down… Just going by dates, it hadn’t taken long for Corbett to get ‘tangled up’ with his wife again either. He wagged his finger in her face when she tried to slap him again. “Stop hitting me. I love ya. You know I love ya… You also know your mom was a damn monster and you and Jason are the only reason me and Calvin put up with her shit.”
She scowled at him. “Could you work on sugarcoating shit? Just a little.”
“Sure… Anyway… I ran into your folks again when you and Sookie started playing T-ball. Raynard didn’t have baseball, so we drove to Webster… I didn’t even think about y’alls ages being so close. I just figured she met Tom right after since Sookie didn’t happen until Michelle used Jas to get her hooks back into me.”
Brandon nodded. “They got married before I was a year old. He adopted me. I didn’t find out until I was in high school.”
“You ok? I know losing parents is hard… Why’d you come around all of a sudden? Just curious?”
When Brandon struggled to answer, Sookie offered, “Brandon’s found himself a girl, Daddy. He’s thinking he might want to have some kids, but he’s a little worried about passing certain genes on.”
“Hell, he’s a good lookin’ guy…” He stopped himself and sucked air past his teeth like he’d hurt himself. “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”
Sookie nodded. “Yeah, OH.”
Brandon nodded and pushed his hands into his pockets.
“Well, I’ll be damned. That shit’s my fault after all… The verdict was still out since it coulda been Michelle too.” He went over and hugged Brandon’s shoulders and pat his back. “Welcome to Telepaths R Us, boy. C’mon in… Let’s get you warmed up and introduced to your nieces and nephews… Hey Sook, you think Jason’s home from work yet?”
“Daddy, it’s midnight. There’s only a two hour difference.”
“Good. Call him. He’s already hating on me enough. He’ll take it better from you.”
Sookie must’ve called for the children as soon as we were inside because we were barely in the kitchen before the sounds of three little sets of footsteps were racing down the stairs.
Corbett was shoving a cookie into his mouth when the children sped past Sookie to leap on me… Junior used me for a boost so that he could sit on the counter, while the girls were content to stay in my arms.
Sookie winked at me. “Spoils, huh?”
She lifted herself to sit on the counter next to Brandon and started, “Hey kids, look what I got.”
She pointed towards Brandon and they studied him for a moment before they asked, “Who’s he?” in unison.
“I went out and got myself another brother. His name is Brandon. Ain’t he cute?” She reached over and mussed his short hair.
Junior shook his head. “No really.”
She nodded. “Seriously… the longer version is that one of Grampa’s old girlfriends didn’t tell him she was pregnant. Brandon came to Fangtasia tonight to introduce himself. Guess what.”
They all asked, “What?”
Sookie sang, “He’s like us.”
The children all gasped, but didn’t say anything… Brandon chuckled, but put his hands to his temples. “Hold on. Hold on. One at a time… I’ve… I’ve never been around other telepaths before.”
Sookie put her finger up to hold the children off long enough to explain. “They’ve all got different strengths. Junior can pick up a really clear picture, Tina has the best range, and Shelly can hear everything clear as a bell… and just because one of them is asking doesn’t mean that they haven’t elected a spokesman for the group…” At least Brandon got a warning.
“Wouldn’t I hear that though?”
“Not necessarily. They’ve been working on partitioning since Junior got back for Thanksgiving…”
Tina giggled, “And we’re tryin’ to get in Mommy’s head.”
His eyes widened. “You can’t?”
She shook her head. “Nope… she’s like a safe.”
Sookie shrugged. “15 years of never dropping my shields…”
Junior blurted, “And she cheats!”
She giggled, “As close as it is to Christmas, you bet your little butt I cheat.”
Brandon stared at her, willing her to answer him… She only looked back, watching as he closed his eyes… waiting a moment before he opened his eyes again, only to be looking at me… “Holy shit! How did you…” She must’ve demonstrated how she used my mind as a buffer since the children said that it was as though she puts her mind into mine.
She went to the refrigerator and pulled out a container. “It’s easy once you get the hang of it. I’ve had a couple of months to play… Are you hungry? Lauren made venison stew and fresh bread for dinner…”
“Uhhh… sure. Thanks… How do you do that?”
She ladled leftover stew into a pair of bowls and but some bread in the toaster while she explained, “It takes a while at first… Eric is easy since his mind is so vast. You kind of just let it swallow you, like you’re walking into a fog. It’s automatic for me now that we’ve been living together for a while… I padded my mind with his yesterday while I did some online Christmas shopping… and at Fangtasia, I use him as a funnel to block everything but certain people or smaller groups. My mind registers as Eric’s when I do it too.”
“Are all Vampires… I’ve only ever met a couple, but I was at work and wasn’t listening.”
“So quiet you could hear a pin drop… Are you working tomorrow?”
“Because I’m voting for a slumber party. It’ll give us all a turn with the new guy. What do you say?”
“Um… I don’t want to put y’all out.”
“It won’t put anybody out. The house is set up for company.” The house’s purpose was company.
I couldn’t tell if he was considering the invitation or if he was being told something privately, but he finally shrugged and said, “Ok.”
“Good… Eric, would you mind tucking the kids back in? Then I can go check on Mag while Brandon and Daddy eat and I’ll call Jason when we’re all done.”
I nodded. “Is there a reason for the militant micromanaging?”
“Yes.” She kissed them both on the cheek as she walked out to tend to her mission.
I was trying to think of her possible reason for directing everyone when Corbett began shaking his head. “Don’t look at me. You catch her sitting on her ass in refried jeans because she was too lazy to do laundry, then you can blame me. I don’t know where she got her energy. The joke when she was little was that even pictures of her sleeping were blurry.”
I raised an eyebrow. “You took pictures of her while she was sleeping? That’s disturbing.”
“You cut the highlights out of Pam’s hair while she was dead and you’re calling me disturbed?”
“That wasn’t disturbed. That was funny.” The children proved it by laughing as I turned around to let Junior climb onto my back.
“Where is the Great Pambino anyway?”
“If you keep calling her that, she’s going to change her name again… She’s taken some time to go Christmas shopping… By the time she’s done, every room in the house will have its own Christmas tree.”
“Yeah? She should look at inflatables… she could cover the yard…”
“If I find out you helped her turn this house into a National Lampoon’s Christmas nightmare, I’ll glamour you into bed with Maxine Fortenberry…” His face turned up like he was going to be sick… so the kids ended up giggling through telling him goodnight again.
While I told the children an abridged version of Robinson Crusoe as a bedtime story to help calm them from the rush of new family and extra cookies, both thanks to Corbett, I heard Sookie explaining our reason for being over to Lauren while she nursed Magnusson. Other than sleepily grumbling that Jason was going to shit his pants, she seemed excited to go downstairs to meet her new brother-in-law.
I was just leaving the children’s room when Sookie left Lauren’s to meet me in the hallway.
I turned away, ‘ignoring’ eye contact and she followed. She whispered, “Ooooooh, what’s that? You’re not mad, are you?”
I shook my head and ‘sniffled’, whispering back, “Hurt… you kissed everyone but me when you…”
She grabbed my arm with both hands, tugging until I turned around so she could climb me, grope, kiss until I used the wall to hold us up. She whimpered when she ran out of air and tilted her chin up instead of pulling away. “I need to ask you something.”
I growled against her neck, “Do I have to stop?”
She panted, “God no. Please don’t… Do you want to go home in a little bit or do you feel comfortable staying here for the day?”
“What are the differences?”
She giggled, taking her turn to start chewing under my ear, breathing as she nibbled, “Scenery. Either way, you and I go to bed in a little bit. If we go home then I’ll just come back in the morning.”
“And you’ll stay here for the day. No errands. No work.”
She hummed against me while she thought about it. “Yeah. Doable.”
“I’ll stay here then.”
She panted, “Not just because I want you to, right?”
“No. Because staying gives me an extra 10 minutes with you tonight and guarantees I won’t rise in an empty house tomorrow.”
I felt her smile against my neck as she worked her way up to nibble my chin. “I guess… it would be… in my best interest… to make that 10 minutes… worth your while then, huh?” She just did.
I was close to clawing through the legs of Sookie’s jeans when Lauren stepped into the hallway in her robe. She grumbled that she was going to get the garden hose if she caught us rubbing her nose in her ‘long distance widow’ status again.
After Brandon got a long hug with his introduction to his sister-in-law, we made ourselves comfortable in the den.
While Sookie unzipped her boots so she could pull her legs up and snuggle against my side, Brandon jokingly asked, “Blonds only? Should I have Ashley dye her hair?”
Sookie giggled, “Absolutely. Hadley’s always whined about being the only brunette in the family… When we get together we tell dumb blond jokes, but we flip them to be dumb brunette jokes… We wouldn’t want to hurt Ashley’s feelings.”
“Oh shit… You’ve got a cousin, bubba. She lives up in Fayetteville with her husband and kids. They’ll all be down for Christmas.”
“Damn. Does she have anything extra going on?”
“No… we don’t know about her kids though. I haven’t seen them in person since Tina and Shelly were wee-little and I wasn’t listening at the time. I’m thinking something’s up with them though.”
“Because Hadley’s been trying to find a doctor to do something about the girls’ headaches and mysterious ailments that keep them from going to school for years…”
Corbett frowned and nodded. “It would make sense. It’s the same thing you went through…”
Brandon added, “Me too. Ballgames were ok because the chatter is normal. Concentrating in school though, that was tough… How old are Hadley’s kids?”
“Misty and Jenny are nine and eight respectively… Hadley has complained that they don’t have friends, they prefer staying home to draw, they don’t like going to the movies… They were both bed-wetters until a couple years ago and Hadley’s found them both sleeping in the car from time to time…”
Brandon had been nodding, agreeing with every detail and finally finished for Sookie, “Because the garage is at the other end of the house from whoever was dreaming… Been there, done that. They got the curse too.”
Corbett shook his head. “Ya can’t look at it like it’s a curse, boy. It’s part of ya. Learn to use it. It sucked for you and Sookie that you didn’t have any help with it, but look at those kids. They don’t think they’re cursed. Hell, after what Sookie went through with Sam, she’s kicking herself in the ass for not using it all along…”
Sookie nodded. “Amen.”
“See? Look, you got a parent in a wheelchair, you walk late. Simple as that. Hell, even Vampires gotta learn how to be a Vampire and no Human’s gonna help with that. You think they wake up knowing how to control how fast they can go?” He was going to have a headache from suddenly using so much of his brain at one time.
I figured I’d help his point. “And feeding without killing and glamouring… he makes a fair point. Those children won’t ever suffer thinking they’re freaks because someone is around them to help.”
Corbett continued, “When anybody has kids, they want them to be better, do better, have more, have it easier… You got lucky. If you have telepathic kids, then you’ll know exactly what they’re dealing with. Me, Jason, Eric and Lauren are just winging it, but ain’t a damn one of us ever wished those kids wasn’t born. Think about it… Hey Eric, you was right there. When Mag was born, what were you thinking about?” Something going wrong. Losing them.
“Anything but telepathy.”
“See. And he’s up to his asshole in telepaths and he wasn’t even thinking about whether the boy was gonna read minds. And um… not for nothing, but every kid has a bitch. Curly hair, straight hair, short, tall, fat ass, no tits… the kids upstairs are gonna be pissed that they got anything but telepathy.”
Sookie cleared her throat and shifted to grab her phone. “Alright Daddy, lay off. Give him more than an hour. He wasn’t prepared for all this. We still need to call the peanut gallery… Ready, Brandon?”
He cringed. “I think so.”
Sookie winked at him and dialed her phone, turning the speaker on and turning the volume up.
Jason answered, “Sook? Something wrong?”
“Not a thing.”
“Then what made Eric take his tongue out of your mouth long enough for you to call me?” Smart ass.
“We have company.” As though that was the only reason… granted, there was a very short list of reasons why I’d leave her mouth free, but still.
“What kind of company? You know I hate it when you’re cryptic.”
“Ok. It’s a long story, but did you know that Mom and Daddy split up for a while when you were little? It was before I was born.”
“Yeah. They almost got a divorce before you happened.”
“Tell me about it… Well, Daddy met someone while they were split up. Nice lady down in Minden.”
“That doesn’t surprise me at all. As old as he is, Dad gets phone numbers at the bottom of comped bartabs.” Corbett shrugged rather than show any swagger.
Sookie giggled, “Jason, it wasn’t just a hook up.”
“What? Did she turn up? Is Dad ‘going steady’?”
“No. She passed not long ago…”
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Sookie… get to the damn point.”
“Jason, we have another brother. Daddy didn’t know until a few minutes ago. He went looking for Daddy and ended up stopping for dinner at Merlotte’s. Terry pointed him towards Fangtasia.”
There was a long pause and Sookie had to say his name several times… the longer we waited the more anxious Sookie became while she listened to the background noise on the line.
He finally said, “Can you read his mind?”
“Of all the questions you could ask, that’s the one you put at the top of your list?”
“Well, Sookie, you married a guy whose dick was in half of Bon Temps. You had a Vampire come asking for you out of nowhere. Your Ex is on the run and you’re hooked up with a Vampire the guys I work with have heard of. Yeah. I want to know if you can read his mind because there’s assholes in the real world that are up to shady shit. Do you have any idea how valuable telepathy could be to the wrong guy?” At least he was thinking about her safety rather than on a tirade about Corbett’s private life.
“Fine. I see your point. Yes, I can read his mind when he isn’t using his shields.”
“Shields? He’s got shields?”
“Yes… Brandon is a telepath too.”
His laughter could only be described as maniacal. “I DARE DAD TO ASK FOR A PATERNITY TEST!”
Sookie cleared her throat and agreed, “I know, right? The thought never crossed his mind. He recognized him because we played ball together.”
“Ok then. How old is he?”
“He was born on the Ides of March, right before me.”
“Cutting it close, huh? His name is Brandon?”
“Yeah. Brandon Rousseau… He’s in shock a little. He only went looking for Daddy because he’s thinking about settling down and he figured he’d ask about what kind of genes he could be passing on.”
“And he hit the mind reader bonanza. Nice. Is he local?”
“Yeah. Lives here in Shreveport with his girlfriend.”
“Wait. Are you all at Holiday House?”
“Yeah. He’s met everyone but Mag.”
“Good. Tell Lauren I’ll call her when I find out what time my plane’s landing.”
“I’m not fucking waiting until Christmas to meet my brother. Mark it on the calendar, because I’m actually going to dip into my vacation time without Lauren bribing me.”
“You don’t want to talk to him? He’s right here.”
“Hell no, I don’t want to meet my brother over the damn phone. Crazy bitch. Would you?”
She rolled her eyes. “Okay.”
Lauren asked for the phone and wandered to the kitchen for privacy…
She turned the speaker off and asked, “Jas?”
“How much vacation are you thinking about taking?”
“Lauren, I got a new nephew, a boy who needs help with his gift and a brother I need to get to know. I want to take all of it… maybe look for a job in Shreveport if you’re ok with it. Now, I know you like being down the coast from your folks, but…”
She cut him off. “Okay.”
“I was thinking about it earlier when I was tending to Mag… I don’t want more babies if we can’t be where they fit in. You’ve seen the difference in Junior already. Find a job here. Junior belongs here, so I belong here. My parents will adjust.”
“How much have you been thinking about this?”
“Since Sookie brought Junior back from sleeping over that first time. He hadn’t smiled so wide since before he could talk. It broke my heart when he cried on the plane home.”
“Me too. You should’ve said something. I would’ve started my resume earlier…”
Sookie elbowed my ribs, breaking my concentration. “Eric? Brandon wanted to know…”
“Shhhh. Don’t be rude. I’m eavesdropping.”
She laughed, “I’m going to bite you. I swear… Brandon wanted to know if it’s okay to bring Ashley over to meet everyone… He’s thinking that maybe if she sees that we’re kind of normal, she won’t think too much about it when he tells her he’s got a bonus.”
“You interrupted my prying for that?”
“What were you listening to?”
“Lauren and Jason are thinking about moving to Shreveport.”
“And how is it any of your business to know before they’re ready to say something to the rest of us?”
“You’re a fucking telepath. You know everything before I do. Don’t be bitter because I beat you this time… And it’s not my business to know first, but it might be Jason’s business to know that I can make his job search less of a burden. Between my companies and the Vampires in my fealty, I only need his resume. Obligatory ass kissing will do the rest for him.”
She cut her eyes in my direction. “Damn. Okay. I withdraw my lecture about privacy. Carry on.”
“That’s what I thought. And I have no problems with Ashley being on the property, if that’s what you’re asking.” Not when the property had been warded against ‘ill will’ so tightly that the neighbor urinated in his pants while trying to spy on our comings and goings.
“I didn’t think you would. Just checking.”
We stayed together in the den until nearly 2:30 while Brandon was inducted to the family. Most of the conversation hinged on him even though he tried to learn more about them. He was simply outnumbered.
Every time he asked a question, it gave everyone else an idea to ask their own. We learned that he’d met Ashley because she backed into his car when she was leaving her friend’s apartment. He shared Sookie’s affinity for books and dancing, and Jason’s knack for computers. It was decided that Sookie had been the ‘little bitch’ to fuck up Brandon’s batting average… and he was the ‘little dickhead’ that ruined her RBIs… and they laughed while Corbett reminded them that there was an actual rivalry between the two of them for a season. It hadn’t come to blows, but there was ‘Big League Chew’ and hair involved in their feud.
Everyone took a cue when Mag woke for a feeding. While Sookie tended to him, I gave Brandon a tour and showed him to the bedroom he’d be using for the night… then introduced him to Maggie since I hadn’t laid eyes on the boy since just before I went to rest that morning.
Sookie grumbled ‘goddamit’ before encouraging Brandon to listen to Mag’s thoughts… He’d bitten his lip to keep from laughing… Magnusson had heard my voice, and in spite of being draped with a blanket while he nursed, he was very clearly picturing me, asking for me.
Mag and I waited for Sookie in the den since Sookie took a basket of clothes to the laundry room… I killed time by texting Darius and Ramon that they’d be opening the bar the next night so that Sookie and I could go in late (if at all).
When Sookie found us she had a smirk on her lips. “Have you already called in sick for us?”
I faked my innocence and lifted the sofa so that she could lead the way down to our room. “What? Why would you think I’d do that?”
She snickered, “Because you’re looking for a reason to play hooky…”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I simply told Darius that he’d need to open the bar since you agreed to stay home tomorrow.”
While I put Magnusson in his bassinet, she argued, “During the day. No errands or work during the day.”
“Excuse me, but you agreed to three separate articles. 1- Stay here for the day. 2- No errands. 3- No work.”
“Excuse me, but I agreed to one article with two subsections. I wouldn’t have agreed to all three of your so-called articles without adding a proviso for emergencies…”
“I beg to differ. You would’ve agreed to nearly anything given how distracted you were by dry humping me…”
She gasped, “I was not dry humping… you were the one with your feet on the floor…”
“My feet were on the floor, and you were writhing and rubbing. I’m not complaining, but I was on the receiving end of the humping that was done.”
She snorted and pulled her shirt over her head, tossing it at my face. “Whatever.”
“What does that particular whatever mean?”
“It means that we would be at an impasse if I didn’t know something you don’t.”
I almost forgot that we were talking at all, let alone what we were talking about, when I watched her wriggle out of her snug jeans… leaving her in nothing but purple lace. “What would that be?”
“That I don’t have any intentions of leaving the house tomorrow. I’m just giving you a hard time.”
She nodded and stepped closer to me, pulling my shirt off. “Would you care to discuss a more regular schedule?” Abso-fucking-lutely.
“What are you proposing?”
“You’re the boss. You start.” She snaked around behind me, nibbling my back and reaching around to open my pants… I would’ve agreed to anything and she knew it.
“You’re testing me.” I was beyond caring by then though.
She pushed my pants down, breathing against the back of my legs as she went, “You’re not doing so well either.”
“Do you have any fucking idea how difficult it is for me to focus when you’re…”
She interrupted me by humming, rubbing her cheek up to my back… around my side… nipping along the way. “I can stop so you can concentrate…” Fuck stopping. Fuck pausing for that matter.
“Two nights per week.”
“Your first offer is to cut me to part time?”
She breathed down my ribs slowly, making me stammer, “This is where you make a counteroffer.”
My fangs ran out when she giggled against my thigh. “Four. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday we’ll work together. I’ll work Tuesday night with Pam so that you can do your rounds.”
“Sunday, Monday and Thursday…?” It had taken me too long to remember which days were left to haggle over.
She whispered, “Ours,” as she slowly stood up, pressing her body against mine. She purred, “God help any fool who needs the Sheriff to hold their hand those nights.” I couldn’t tell if she meant they should be scared of her or me… like it mattered.
I growled, “They’ll need it.”
She tickled her fingertips up my spine and giggled, “And you’ll stop joking about burning the bar down.”
“For now… Vacations and other travel notwithstanding. If we can’t go on Friday for some reason, we don’t sacrifice Sunday.”
“Are we done negotiating yet?”
She grabbed my cock and stepped into me, encouraging me to go towards the bed…
Beautifully certain about what she wanted…
On her knees over me, kissing and stroking my dick with her tight little fist between us.
She didn’t back down until she needed air again and when she did, she covered my face with a pillow.
“Hold that for me.”
“Over my face?”
She shifted, leaving the warm areas of my skin to cool. One knee then the other… then her panties weren’t coming between us anymore. “Yeah… it’s better that way.”
“What is?” As physical as we’d been, flirting and teasing while we were letting her heal, I doubted she had an aversion to eye contact.
“I’m ‘testing the water’, remember? I don’t think I could live with myself if I can’t follow through… the look on your face if we have to stop will break my heart.”
I chuckled, feeling wholly ridiculous with a pillow over my face. “And if we can’t follow through do I get to move the pillow and get creative?” My options by that point were talk or bite through my lip… The way she was stroking me almost made the idea of actual fucking a bonus. If she wasn’t ready, I was sure we could find something to do.
She purred, “Creative how? I’m not sure I’d be happy with anything short of fucking you… I want it too bad.”
“You want to fuck me too much to let me…”
There were plenty of ways to finish that thought, but I stopped dead… I’d been trying to distract myself from feeling so much like I was about to lose my virginity, and doing a horrible job of it, until Sookie lifted, moving her legs to line up…
Everything but lust was replaced with anticipation…
She angled my cock, sending an ache to every part of my body as soon as I felt the head make contact with her…
I was too rapt to decide if she whimpered or giggled for me to wish her luck…
She held her breath as she lowered…
Taking her time to the extent that I compared the wait to silver…
One inch and then back a little…
Another and then back again…
She was halfway before she took the first breath since she started killing me…
Sookie rested her hands on my stomach when she began lowering again…
Not as slow but still agonizing…
Resisting the urge to move had been nearly impossible for the eon it took Sookie’s ass to finally rest on my thighs…
Still unsure, thanks to that fucking pillow, I put my hands on her knees when she whimpered.
I wanted to ask, but I wasn’t given the chance before she groaned, “Oh noooooo…”
“What’s wrong?” I didn’t feel that she was in pain, but I wasn’t sure if I could when I was inside her.
“This is bad, Eric.”
“What? What’s bad?”
She put her hands over mine and whimpered again as she lifted herself and slid back down again… and again… and again… She stopped her up and down, replacing the motion by twisting and pitching her hips. “I’m not broken anymore.”
“How is that bad?” Not bad. Not bad at all… the way she was moving gave my thousand years a purpose.
She leaned over to take the pillow from my face, slowing her hips and still looking as wild as she did before we were interrupted earlier. “It’s bad… because… we only have three hours before the sun comes up.”
I flipped us over, pushing, pulling her knees out, testing the water myself…
Even though her eyes rolled back, I asked, “No pain?”
Pinned as she was, she only moved to tighten around me. “Not like this… we should try all the positions to be sure.”
“All of them?”
She tightened again and nodded. “Three hours… Tick. Tock.”