Not My Night
There were no words to accurately describe the way it felt to rise that night.
Sookie and I barely beat sunrise, showering and getting back to bed in just enough time for me to die… Sookie had stayed with me in my resting place during the Thanksgiving festivities and even though little Magnusson slept on the bed with us then, there was something more complete about Sookie bringing him to bed with us this time.
Rising to the two of them curled up against my side was too amazing to put into words.
The house was bustling with activity and I was awed for long enough that I began making fun of myself for becoming a modernized sap instead of letting myself become maudlin over the fact that I had to walk away from one family and wait a thousand years to find another one… maybe I was just ignoring the temptation to feel guilty about not appreciating the first family enough, but that could be blamed on being modernized too.
I had the time to add to the list of unsolved mysteries regarding Sam Merlotte. Maybe it was because of what I’d lost that I could see the folly in his disrespectful behavior, but not a night had gone by since Sookie and the girls stepped foot in my house that the phrase ‘his loss, my gain’ hadn’t found a new reason to cross my mind. That fool’s list of failures had become my winning lottery ticket.
The first to stir was Maggie. He began squirming and even though he’d gained a pound since he was born, he still felt like nothing as I lifted him and sat him on my chest.
Sookie had left the bathroom light on so it only took him a moment to find my face and grin. Fuck anyone who tried to claim newborns only smile because of gas. That was a lie perpetuated by a dismal prick who’d never had a baby smile at him. I’d been assured by multiple telepaths that Magnusson’s smiles were genuine… and he saved them for me.
I smiled back to him and said, “Eventually, someone is going to burst your bubble and tell you how crazy it is that you smile at monsters, little boy.”
His grin didn’t budge, but Sookie did. She rolled to her back and stretched, mumbling sleepily, “Do you think he’ll listen any better than the rest of this stubborn lot?”
“I hope not.”
“He’ll be pigheaded as hell and he came by it honestly. Nurture and nature.”
“I’m not terribly stubborn. Pam’s worse than I am.”
She choked from laughing so hard. “Okay, Mr. Yielding, let’s test that… What would you do if I told you I broke a promise to you?”
I narrowed my eyes at her. “For instance or in fact?”
“That would depend on the promise.”
“What if I left the house today?”
“That would depend on the reason. Did something happen?”
I growled at her. “Sookie…”
“FYI, Mags loves it when you growl at me.”
“Probably because my chest vibrates. Why did you leave the house?”
She rested her chin on my shoulder to look up at me with those eyes. “Are you mad that I broke the promise?”
“I’m frustrated by your stall tactics. I’m reserving the right to be angry because I doubt you’d leave without a fair reason.”
“I think it was a good reason, but that’s a matter of perspective, of course.”
“You’re trying to rattle me, aren’t you?”
She chewed her bottom lip for a moment before nodding slightly. “Maybe, since I was willing to agree to anything…”
“Because you were dry humping me.”
“Oh, definitely that… I didn’t take something into consideration… I only ran home long enough to get fresh clothes for us. I didn’t want to wait until you were up and then have to run out.”
“Paulette couldn’t have done that for you?”
“Mmmmm… I kinda had an OCD moment over what to wear and I didn’t want to give Paulette anything else to do anyway. She had a very important mission… the scarves, remember?”
I growled again, but frustration wasn’t the reason. “Did she accomplish said mission?”
Sookie poked out her bottom lip and began skimming her fingers over my ribs, clearly trying to manipulate me. She cooed, “She did… Jason got here at about noon and I used the errand as an excuse to run home for clothes to leave him with Brandon for a lil bit… Ashley is coming for dinner and I called Calvin and he wanted to talk to you anyway, so he’ll be over too… I didn’t want anything else to end up hogging our evening. I even thought to feed Sunshine and Snuggles while I was home… Are ya mad?”
Mad? No. Even if she was manipulating me, I didn’t care. It wasn’t an emergency, but… both of us were more focused on getting out of our clothes when we’d struck the ‘deal’ that barred her from leaving the house without a good reason. The teasing was a different matter completely…
I looked up at Magnusson. “Go back to sleep.”
He grinned while Sookie cackled. She rolled off the bed too quickly for me to put the baby down without giving him whiplash and still get to her before she closed the bathroom door behind her… Meanwhile, Mag was still grinning at me as though he understood what was going on.
She giggled from the bathroom, “Don’t be impatient. It’s something to look forward to.”
I sat up, taking Magnusson with me to make myself behave. “Whatever.”
She gasped from behind the door. “Did you just ‘whatever’ me?”
“I did… If you tell Pam, I’ll deny it… Do you know anyone else with an infant?”
“Not really. I mean… I’ve seen a couple of newborns at the gym for Mommy & Me.”
“Do I want to know what that is?”
“It’s just a workout geared to undo what pregnancy does…” She was smiling when she opened the bathroom door. “Why do you ask?”
I forgot the fucking question… I was distracted by her outfit. Her jeans were scandalously tight and her light blue sweater didn’t seem to allow much room for breathing… The heels on her boots were tall enough to noticeably close the gap on our height, but the most distracting item…
Like the matador waves his cape…
She was wearing a light blue silk scarf as a belt.
She giggled, “What?”
“You know ‘what’… the scarf.”
She narrowed her eyes. “Did you have a point to the infant line of questioning?”
“I forgot… How the fuck am I supposed to behave in a house full of your family when you’re wearing…”
“If I start taking Ritalin will it help you focus?”
“Get your head out of the gutter…”
“That’s not where it was…”
“Ohhh, I know where it was. You need to settle down. You can’t get spun up over every little thing that can be used as a sex prop.”
She pitched her eyebrow and pinched my chin to pull my face to hers. “Because if you do, then your fangs will run out and your pants will get tight every time you see candles, feathers, rocking chairs, neck ties, egg timers, dice, handcuffs, belts, and about a hundred other things… A scarf is just a scarf until later.”
“Later is the time when family obligations and work responsibilities no longer require the conventional use of clothing.”
“Why don’t I get any say in the definition of later?”
She put her hands on her hips and huffed, “Sorry you got stuck with someone with kids, hon. I understand if you want to reevaluate…”
“That’s not what I meant!” For once, I’d accidentally sounded like a total fucking asshole.
She took Magnusson without looking at me and walked towards the door.
“Sookie, that’s not what I meant. You know that’s not what I meant…”
She waited until she was at the top of the steps before she answered, and it was just long enough that I had the chance to sense that ‘I won’ feeling hit me. “Less focused on the scarf?” She set me up?
Her triumphant ‘HA!’ echoed off the stairwell and she ran back to stop at the doorway. “What about them?”
“I was wondering if you listened to any of their thoughts.”
“Yes, I have and I’m leaning towards Mr. Magnusson having something extra going on.”
“Something, but not necessarily telepathy?”
“If I wasn’t an idiot, I’d have his sisters to compare him to.”
“How are his thoughts different from other infants?”
“He’s über specific. Other babies just see the bottle or the boob. Mag gives me the whole picture.”
“As opposed to just a nipple?”
“If he has a chill, the blanket. If he wants quiet, our room. If he wants to be more social, the kitchen or den. Whether he’s in the mood to lay flat on the bed or be wrapped in the hammock… Other babies just picture someone’s face and it’s all distorted like a funhouse mirror, but Mag pictures you, how the room looks from your height… He got hungry while I was getting stuff from home and Junior said he didn’t think about feeding. He thought about Lauren giving him a bottle.”
“That’s… Sookie, that’s impressive.”
She shrugged. “It could be or we could be setting the bar too high. It’s possible that he’s completely normal or has a more passive ability like Jason.” I doubted it. Her passively able brother fathered a very gifted boy with a Human.
She narrowed her eyes and growled as she turned around to leave. “You know, anyone else would get kicked for placating me. Why is it so sexy when you do it?”
“You’re automatically forgiving me because you want me to tie you down later.”
“Oh yeah… thaaaaat.”
Junior, Tina and Shelly cackled as they rolled to the other end of the sofa while I lifted the opening to the saferoom.
“What did I miss today?”
The three of them stared at me for a moment before they all started laughing. Shelly climbed the incline to lean over the arm of the sofa and kissed my cheek. “Sorry.”
“You tried to answer me silently because you’ve gotten used to extra telepaths, didn’t you?”
I closed the trap door and lifted Shelly. “You should be careful. I understand we’re meeting Ashley tonight. Brandon wants her to see how normal the Stackhouses are in spite of their abilities.”
She nodded and said, “I’ll try. I promise.” as I turned to go to the kitchen.
Tina and Junior complained that I was leaving, asking to be carried too.
I shook my head. “Shelly apologized for making me feel inadequate.”
She giggled over my shoulders, “Cuz Shelly loves Eric…” and then she blew a raspberry at them as they followed us to the kitchen.
Jason, Brandon and Sookie were lined up, leaning against the kitchen counter while Lauren and Corbett sat on the island facing them.
“Is this a telepathic party game? If it is, Shelly and I are going to go to the mall to spoil movie endings for people. It’s more fun.”
Corbett turned enough to face me and grumbled, “The kids are flipping their lids because Ashley got off work early.”
“And with the deviation in her schedule, there was time for her to be reprogrammed by an Islamic jihad cell and she has a bomb strapped to her chest?”
Sookie shook her head. “It’s a good thing you’re sexy. It makes up for what a sarcastic asshole you are…”
“I’m not sure you realize that I don’t consider sarcasm a negative feature. What is the problem with Ashley arriving early?”
She huffed, “We’re in the middle of a battle royale with the kids… we’re deadlocked in an ethical debate that started after Brandon called Ashley and told her to come meet his family.”
“The ethics of what?”
Jason gave the children an angry look and growled, “Your little friends have a problem pretending to be normal so that Ashley doesn’t bolt.”
“Are you calling them Mine because you’re implying that I’m a bad influence?”
“No. I’m calling them yours because I’m not expecting you to be on our side.”
“Welcome back to Shreveport, dickhead. Why is that?”
“Because you’re older than dirt and were stuck in a closet most of your life.”
“The vernacular is coffin… I’ve never been in a closet that could hold me, ssssexy.”
Lauren giggled, “Hey’eyyyyyy.”
Sookie snorted, “Could you flirt with Jason later, hon? Where do you stand on this?”
“Which side of the battle offers a prize?” A small token would do nicely… Like… a scarf, perhaps.
She narrowed her eyes. “I heard that. And you know the answer.”
“I haven’t heard both sides yet…” I looked down at Tina and she was wearing a smile like she’d already won. “State your position.”
I put Shelly on the island and began lining the children up, saving Tina for last. “Because this has ‘Tina’ written all over it. Shelly asks questions when she’s confused. Junior is swayable with reason… you are the born leader, the fighter. Explain your position.”
“We shouldn’t have to pretend to be something we aren’t.”
“They’ve asked you to pretend to be… lamps?”
“Do you want to frighten Ashley?”
“No! We aren’t scary!”
“This is why you’re standing stonewall against the adults?”
“Yes! If she’s scared then she’ll be mean if she has kids like us… She’ll do like Mommy’s mom did.”
“It’s not your place to decide how to find out what kind of mother she’ll be. There’s a difference between being shocked and being intolerant. Michelle was intolerant. Easing Ashley into the concept of her boyfriend having supernatural abilities is the more strategic course… There are going to be times when you have to play your ability close to the vest. This is one of them… You’re a very smart girl. I’m sure you can be convincing enough to make it through dinner.”
She folded her arms and growled, “What if I don’t?”
“If you’re caught reading her mind, you’ll be sent to your room. If you expose anyone’s gift, I’ll glamour her to forget… Either, both it doesn’t matter. Disregard the wishes of the adults of the family and you’ll stay home when I take the children who behaved properly ice skating tomorrow night. Do you understand?”
“It’s not fair.”
“If you’re so worried about fairness, I’ll take you to apologize to Colonel Flood for using your ability to embarrass his men.”
“That’s not the same thing.”
“Yes it is. You have no qualms keeping your ability to yourselves when you’re with them. We could change your middle name to ‘hypocrite’… maybe ‘spoiled hypocrite’.”
“I’m not spoiled!”
“You most certainly are spoiled… and I enjoy spoiling you, but tonight isn’t one of those nights. Tonight, you learn a lesson…”
She sassed, “What?”
I inched closer to put my nose to hers. “I might not refuse you often, but when I say ‘no’, I mean it.”
“I wanna go.”
“Away from YOU!” Silver was easier to take than hearing her say she wanted to get away from me… then again, silver couldn’t look like it was close to crying.
I set her on the floor so that she could run away from me in tears and did my best to ignore the urge to go after her. I gave Shelly and Junior a level stare and asked, “Do either of you have any questions as to where the adults stand on the showing of abilities tonight? I’m sure you both noticed that none of the others contradicted me.”
Junior shook his head. “No sir. No questions.”
Shelly stretched up to kiss my cheek. “No ‘bilities. Got it.”
As I watched the children scurry to the den, Lauren came over and hugged my side. “Way to stand your ground, chief. None of us could get through to her.” At least they tried instead of just leaving it for me. I had been ready to ask how I drew the short straw while I was dead.
“I didn’t get through to her. I bullied her into faking compliance. She’s going to fester all night, but she’ll keep her ability to herself.”
Brandon cleared his throat. “If it makes you feel any better, she’s not as pissed at you as she is pissed at me for showing up and bursting her bubble. She’s mad that she has to fake it at home and I can’t blame her… I’ve made a great first impression on that one… Um… mind if I ask how y’all know Colonel Flood?”
No one else in the room knew anything about him. He was ‘just an associate’. Sookie and I were the only ones whose mental gears were spinning and she seemed to be at a loss as to how to answer.
“I think the more important question is how you know him.”
Brandon shrugged indifferently. “He’s a friend of Ashley’s mom.”
“Does Ashley have any siblings?”
“No… She’s an only child like me… well… you know what I mean.”
Since we were waiting for Ashley to arrive anyway, I told him to get his coat and join me on the front porch to take advantage of the privacy of the yard.
As soon as the door was closed behind us, he groaned, “Why do I have the feeling you’re about to tell me something that’s going to make me wish I still smoke?”
“Have you by chance noticed that Tina’s thoughts are different from everyone else’s in the family?”
“Well… yeah, but… I mean she’s not the first person I’ve come across like that. There’s all types. I’ve got a girl at work whose mind is yellow and there’s a professor from the college that sounds like snow on a bad TV.”
“So Tina’s mind resembles Ashley’s and Colonel Flood’s and your future mother-in-law’s…”
He shrugged again, still not realizing anything was amiss. “Yeah.”
“Did you tell Ashley that your sister belongs to a Vampire?”
He shook his head. “No. I didn’t see the big deal. What’s… what’s going on?”
“I don’t think you need to worry about being rejected for your ability…”
His mood finally changed, making it the wrong time to laugh at the scowl on his face… it looked too much like Corbett’s ‘football face’. “What the fuck is she?”
“Do you want me to tell you or do you want to give her the chance to come clean? You know, during the conversation you already need to have about you being telepathic and part Faerie.”
“I haven’t seen her since I found out I’m part Faerie and I haven’ been hiding my ability…”
“A lie by omission is still a lie… so I’m told. I’ll tell you what she is if you want, but she has the same reason for keeping her secret as you do… Sookie and I will be happy to answer any questions you have… I’m warning you now, this is going to be a clusterfuck.”
“Do I even want to know?”
“You only have a few minutes to decide how to blurt an explanation. She’s going to begin thinking about what she is as soon as she sees me. She’ll assume that I’m going to expose her secret…” I paused as he tensed and his head jerked towards the end of the driveway when a truck cleared the trees. Since it was Calvin instead of Ashley, he relaxed. “In light of the new information, I suggest you get the reveal out of the way. Otherwise you’ll have no chance of enjoying your evening.”
“Quick. Like a Band-Aid.”
I nodded. “That seems like your only option unless you want to listen to a paranoid inner monologue about what she is and I’d be willing to wager that she’ll be focusing on all the things that would upset you instead of how completely and mundanely Human most of her existence is.”
As Calvin stepped out of his truck, Brandon asked, “So it’s nothing to worry about?”
I shook my head. “No more than she should worry about telepathy. There are things you need to take into consideration on both sides.”
As Calvin approached, Brandon realized that his mind matched the kind that brought us outside to begin with and grumbled that he couldn’t decide how he felt about being an idiot and not realizing there was something to the difference.
Having heard in spite of the distance, Calvin chuckled, “How do you think Sookie feels? She’s been around us her whole life. I’m lucky she’s already talking to me again…” He offered his hand and Brandon shook it. “Calvin Norris. Stepfather.”
“Brandon Rousseau. Half brother. Nice to meet you.”
“Y’all need to bring in Humans for poor Lauren so she doesn’t feel so outnumbered.”
I chuckled, “She jokes that she’s wearing Junior’s shoes since he went for so long being isolated from others like him… Sookie said she called you to tell you ‘it’s a boy’, but you needed to talk to me already, yes?”
Calvin shifted his eyes towards Brandon and without prompting he said he’d wait for Ashley inside and he wouldn’t be listening.
He barely waited until the front door closed behind Brandon before he said, “We have a problem.”
“What kind of problem?”
“Bernadette called me.”
“I was under the impression that Merlotte’s mother was giving you a cold shoulder nowadays.” Finger pointing seemed to be as inherent in the Merlotte family as shifting and small frames. Somehow, Calvin’s failure as a Packmaster was to blame for her son being a philandering murderer.
“She is. She wouldn’t have called if she didn’t need something… Sam called her… with his ‘one phone call’.”
“How did that stupid prick manage to go this long without choking on his own tongue?”
“Don’t ask me. I have guys that can’t fill out a job application in the pack and they’ve got more common sense that Sam.”
“What did Bernadette want from you?”
“She wanted to know if I have enough pull to stage a jailbreak.”
“When you told her you don’t what did she say?”
“She told me to get ready for Weres to come out of the kennel because we have 3 nights before the full moon and he’s being held until they extradite him back to Caddo.”
“He’s going to have to stand trial at this point. We can’t help him anymore. How did he get caught?”
“In a stolen car. He got picked up on westbound I-20 in Gregg County around 8 last night.”
“Because he came to Shreveport to see the ‘children’…”
“Which ones? He wasn’t in Hotshot or Bon Temps with the others. The moms would have called me.”
“What an asshole.”
“She told him that Lorena wasn’t an issue any longer, reminded him that there was still a murder charge he needed to avoid… he suggested I turn him so that he could avoid prosecution…”
“Fucking tard… Do you know anyone who can get him a new identity?”
“Several. Sookie and I discussed reinventing him… she was willing to go as far as making deposits from the bar’s profits into an offshore account for him, but neither of us were sure he’d be smart enough to actually lay low…”
He shook his head and snorted, “Good call.”
“I’ll make some calls and see what I can do. If nothing else, we might be able to get a message to him that he needs to misbehave so that he’ll be put in solitary confinement during full moons.”
“You act like he cares enough to go to the trouble. It wouldn’t matter to him if the rest of us get fucked… Are you forgetting that Sam is all that matters?”
I deadpanned, “Oh, that’s right. Oops… Regardless, I’m not willing to continue helping him.”
“We keep to ourselves, but when one of Hotshot fucks up like this and risks exposing us, he’s done. Dead-done. It doesn’t have to happen often for everyone else to learn the lesson.”
“Vampires have always done the same… Maybe I should have made arrangements for him to be brought over. Then his trial wouldn’t risk anything since we’re acknowledged.”
“Then you’d have him as a poster-boy… Think the Colonel could have some ideas?”
I nodded and fished my phone out of my pocket. “It’s possible…”
“Otherwise, how are things going? Is Jason being an ass about Corbett’s wild oat?”
While my phone rang, I explained, “He’s actually quite excited… Brandon doesn’t know that you’re a Were though. He just thought that Tina’s mind was different because some are. He didn’t realize there was a reason for the difference… it just so happens that Ashley’s mind is the same… I gave him the choice and he opted to hear it from Ashley.”
“Shit.” That covered it.
I nodded as Flood answered, “Are you calling to schedule another epic embarrassment for my pack?”
“I’ve been considering venues and tactical plans for our next outing if your men would be willing to cooperate with a temporary cloaking spell, but that isn’t my reason for calling.”
“I can’t speak for the rest of them on something like that, but I’m willing. Herveaux would be too. It’s a matter of pride at this point… What’s up?”
“Merlotte’s mother contacted Norris about arranging a jailbreak today. It seems her ‘pride and joy’ stole the car he used to try to make contact with the children last night.”
“Proof that fucking is part of animal instinct. If the brain had any part of that function, he wouldn’t know what to do.”
“This is me not arguing… Do you have any ideas as to how to keep Weres from being exposed when he shifts in prison?”
“I’ll make you a deal, Northman. I’ll fix your problem if you tell me how those kids can make us look like idiots.”
“You understand that I’m not at any risk of being exposed because everyone already knows about Vampires. And the only Were I have a vested interest in is years away from her first shift, yes?”
He huffed, “Yes, but I was hoping you wouldn’t go there.”
I chuckled, “I was going to tell you before the next round of Hide and Seek in any case… Your ears only. They’re telepaths. They can hear your thoughts, how you strategize, and where you are as you move through your environment.”
“Both of them? Sookie too? What about the little guy?”
“Yes, both of them. Yes, they inherited the ability from their mother. We aren’t sure about Magnusson yet, but he’s showing signs of having something special as well.”
“Are they Faerie?”
“I know that’s a stupid question to ask since Vampires and Faeries don’t mix, but I’ve been trying to put it together for a while… if they’re just part Faerie…” Calvin looked impressed.
“Explain your suspicions.”
“First thing, I don’t mean any offense, but Sookie, even when she was ripe was just too… attractive. After the toy store hunt, two of my guys were going on and on about how hot she was and they date those tiny things that look like a cotton ball could tip ‘em over. And when you add in that she was raised with Weres, married a Shifter and is living with a Vampire… Faeries are Supe bait. And I heard that some Faeries can mask their scent so that’s what I was blaming for why we couldn’t find the kids. I didn’t even think they could be cheating… It makes me wonder what the boys were thinking about around them since Sookie got their attention.”
“It’s nothing they haven’t seen from their own father, I’m sure. Do you by chance know of any others? We have questions for obvious reasons.” Abilities, skipping, who Corbett’s father was. Considering how much stronger the Fae scent was on Corbett, if his mother was the Faerie, the other me wouldn’t be able to tolerate it… As it was, Pam needed to give Corbett a wide berth.
“I know of one. She just pops in and out whenever she feels like it. She goes by Claudine. You know she won’t go within a mile of you though, right?” Claudine the ‘nurse’.
“She’s a full Faerie?”
“Roger that. Last time I ran into her, two packs stopped mid-skirmish to drool.”
“We’d settle for a phone call… Now you have something to tell me.”
“Oh yeah… I almost forgot about that fool. You’ve got no worries. There have been Weres in the corrections departments for Texas and Louisiana since before Angola or Huntsville. As hot-headed as some of us are, we’d be out by now if we didn’t have that going for us. He’ll be segregated for the full moon. Let his dumb ass rot. It takes a complete moron to not take a second chance when it’s offered and I’m a Darwinist.”
“So am I… Thank you for the information.”
Calvin opted to call Bernadette before going inside… his eyes were rolling like the tumblers on a slot machine during his berating and he finally hung up on her when another car pulled onto the driveway. He growled, “God forbid she just be grateful that he won’t get shot by a spooked guard.”
“You say that as though it’s a shock Merlotte’s mother is belligerent and myopic.”
“No. I’m saying that, hoping God’s listening to fix it.” Fair enough.
The Wrangler stopped along the side of the driveway that already looked like there was a party taking place, but the driver didn’t budge after taking her key out of the ignition and spotting me.
The girl was beautiful in spite of the tension on her face. Petite enough to look like a child pretending to drive… Staring at me with big brown eyes…
In an effort to keep the evening from being a complete disaster, I approached the car to explain before she could panic, but it was too late to prevent that. I could hear her heart racing through the closed window before I stopped to stand next to her Jeep.
She leaned away as she rolled down the window. “Um. Hi.”
“I’m Eric Northman.”
She looked at her lap and whispered, “Fuck.”
“Are you scared because you’ve heard of me or because you’re concerned that Brandon doesn’t know you’re a Were?”
“So do I, but that doesn’t answer the question.”
She almost smiled. “That’s not what I meant.” There were echoes of a British accent that reminded me of when Pam slipped into hers from time to time.
“I know. What were you told about Brandon’s family?”
She huffed, “He called me this morning and told me that he went to meet his dad last night. Said he’s been thinking about it a lot and just got a wild hair… he ended up meeting him and he’s got a brother and a sister he wasn’t sure about. A whole family. He said everything was great and told me to come over for dinner because they want to meet me…” She huffed again and slammed her head into the headrest to whine, “And he didn’t mention that there would be any Supes here to out me because I haven’t told him anything. And this is all my fault because I want kids and I put the bug in his ear about wanting kids as kind of a test to see if it would scare him off because if the idea of having Human kids spooks him then there’s no way in hell I’d even think about having half breeds with him and why the fuck am I telling you all of this because you’re just going to…”
She bit her lip and her face pinched together when she closed her eyes.
“Brandon’s sister belongs to me and her stepfather is Packmaster Norris from Hotshot… Brandon is the only person in that house who doesn’t know about Weres. Colonel Flood was mentioned in passing, so Brandon asked how we know him, because he’s a friend of your mother’s. Are you with me so far?”
She sighed, “Yeah. My dad met him in the Air Force. It’s the truth so…” She trailed off instead of voicing that the military connection helped her to avoid lying.
“You are getting the same warning Brandon did. He sought out his father to find out about genetic pitfalls. You need to tell him what you are as much as he needs to tell you what he is.”
“Brandon’s sister married a Shifter who didn’t tell her what he was. Sookie didn’t tell him about herself either. They had three children together so you can consider your visit tonight to be a glimpse at possibility.”
“You said Sookie is yours though.”
“She’s mine because I don’t lie to her about what I am.”
“You don’t have to. Vampires are out.”
“There’s more to being a Vampire than having fangs… It’s just as likely that you won’t be accepting of his gifts as the reverse. To quote him, ‘quick like a band-aid’.”
“So he knows that there’s something Supe about me, just not what.”
I opened the door for her and stepped back. “Yes.”
“Why didn’t you just tell him?”
“I offered. He wanted to hear it from you.”
She finally slid out of her Jeep and took a deep breath. “I’d probably be more grateful if you had busted me. I’ve been trying to think of a way to tell him for a long time.”
“He said the same thing.”
She balked with half of the yard left to cross and stared at the house. Frozen, like she’d been dared to enter a haunted house. She shook her head and moaned, “No pressure, right? I’m just having dinner with my boyfriend’s family. Sure the family includes a fuckin’ Packmaster and a Vampire Sheriff and I have to tell him that I turn into a fox during full moons… No pressure. No pressure. No pressure…”
“I’m the one that should be scared. I have to hope I’m immune to the venom of an embittered 4 year old.” Calvin followed along as we passed him.
Ashley gasped, “She spits venom!?” I probably could have worded that differently.
Calvin chuckled, “All females do, darlin’. Ain’t nothing Supe about that.”
All eyes were on the doorway as I led the way into the kitchen. “Look at what wandered into the yard. Should I call animal control?”
Corbett laughed and tossed a beer that Calvin hardly looked at to catch. “Nope. Just sauce ‘em up. He’s docile…”
Sookie leapt from the counter and kissed Calvin’s cheek. She finished as she took his coat, “And feed him. Lauren made 3 kinds of ravioli and 2 kinds of sauce…” Sookie held her hand out for Ashley’s coat, but it wasn’t noticed… Brandon and Ashley had their eyes locked on each other. The look they were sharing could not be described as ‘smitten’, but I couldn’t tell if they were about to be sick or if they were going to kill each other. Sookie huffed, “Eric, you want to handle the intros?”
I nodded, already bored by the drama that would have Pam leaning against a wall fully rapt. Once she found out what she missed, I was going to need to mark the calendar… it was going to be the first time since the 1600s that she was going to regret a shopping trip.
I started with Corbett to give someone the chance to stop me. “This is Corbett Stackhouse. His special ability is making beer disappear and has an intrinsic gift of jinxing any sports team just by rooting for them…” Even though we didn’t have anything concrete when it came to Jason and Corbett’s abilities, Brandon knew where I was going. Corbett hugged Ashley and Brandon didn’t budge. “Jason Stackhouse, the brother, he can actually fit both of his feet into his mouth at the same time… Lauren Stackhouse, wife of the foot-eater, peace keeper and master of homemaking… Am I to keep going, or does someone else want a turn?”
Brandon and Ashley both said, “Keep going,” without taking their eyes off of each other.
I rolled my eyes, but they asked for it. “Bringing up the rear we have Packmaster Calvin Norris, crown prince of Panthers and ironically he prefers the Steelers…”
Calvin patted her shoulder and went to stand next to Corbett and joked that the Steelers needed someone to cheer for them, but she didn’t notice anything but the stunned look on Brandon’s face as the scattered facts knit themselves together for her boyfriend.
I continued, “And the keeper of the coats is Sookie. Sister, mother of three, Mine, and operator of telepathic accuracy to within 300 yards. It seems her father has a mysterious branch of Faerie heritage.”
Ashley gasped and looked back and forth between Sookie and Brandon for a moment before settling on Brandon.
The tension in the room was palpable… and I was fucking sick of it.
I ordered the two of them to follow me and led the way to the den where the actual children were watching A Muppet Christmas Carol. All of them moaned when I paused their movie.
When I turned around, Brandon and Ashley were glaring at each other with their arms crossed.
“Ashley, the little boy is Jason’s son, Junior. The girls are Sookie’s. Tina and Shelly. Junior, Shelly, go see if you can help set the table…” While they left, I lifted Tina from the sofa so that she could glare at me as I took her to the sidelines of the impending argument. “I have to apologize for Tina. She’s usually much prettier when she doesn’t hate me…”
She grumbled, “Don’t hate you.”
“She’s not happy right now because just before you arrived I told her that she needed to pretend to be humble. You see, she’s very proud of what she is. Even if we’re a decade from her first shift, she’s already a very talented little mind reader. If you don’t believe me, you should call your Packmaster because she’s slaughtered him and some of your packmates in a hunt…”
Tina cackled, “She’s a Were!?”
I nodded and turned my attention back to the feud waiting to happen. “I’m going to make a few points and then I’ll leave you to do whatever it is you’re going to do… 1-You’re both guilty of keeping the same secret. 2- You both kept the secret for the same reason, which is perfectly justified from both perspectives. 3- You both intended to confess. 4- You’re both close to shitting your pants right now because you had no idea that one of you reads minds and the other is a fox from time to time and Tina, Shelly and Magnusson are proof that you could have gone on indefinitely without being honest… Is there anything else you need or would you like for me to forgive each other for you too?”
Brandon shook his head. “No… thanks. Really.”
“Good. You don’t have long because Jason and Corbett are ‘pickers’. If you delay dinner, most of the food will disappear and there will be an uprising.”
There was nothing but silence behind us when we joined everyone in the kitchen again… where we were greeted with more silence.
Silence and crazed curiosity. Pam didn’t need to be there. It was as though all 5 of them were channeling her nosiness from New York…
Since Magnusson was asleep in his hammock, he was the only innocent.
As I put Tina down, I shook my head and told the peanut gallery, “Don’t look at me. I’ve done my part. Calvin’s hearing is good enough to eavesdrop on them from here and you have the other options covered.” I should have never left my room.
It took them all a moment to adjust to my noncompliance, but Jason broke the surface tension by asking Lauren how he could help put dinner on the table…
Instead of joining the rest of her family, Sookie turned and curled her finger so I’d follow her to the deck.
She had her mouth open to say something when she turned around, but I didn’t give her the chance…
I didn’t bother warning her before I grabbed her for a kiss…
She whimpered, fisting her hands into my hair as she lifted her legs to wrap them around me…
She bit my lip when her back hit the wall, caught her breath while she licked the trickle away, and went back to giving me what I wanted until she was gasping and lightheaded…
Her idea of calming down was wrapping her arms around my neck and hugging me as she asked, “Rough night?”
“I’m not sure I like having the night off from Fangtasia if I have to be Sheriff at home too.”
“Is it that bad, hon?”
“I’m up to my ass in drama, Sookie.”
“It’s family shit, Eric. The dam breaks and everything is chaos for a little bit. I promise it’ll settle down.”
“Is it almost over? I hate that I was saddled with disciplining Tina. I’m past my breaking point with Merlotte… Calvin explained, yes?”
She nodded. “I got it from his head while y’all were out front.”
“The only positive to come from that is Flood mentioning he has a lead on a Faerie we might be able to get some answers from… And on top of it all, natural selection put me in the position of being an inter-breed matchmaker for complete strangers…”
“They really appreciate it though…”
“Oh good. I’ll sleep better knowing that.”
She giggled, “I love you. You know that, right?”
“I love you too. Can we go to bed now?”
She nuzzled my neck and sighed, “Brandon and Ashley don’t plan to stay for long because they want to go home and talk. Daddy’s going home early because he has to be up early for work. He’s been edgy all day anyway because he’s had one of his ominous feelings again… So you aren’t alone… You’ll get some quiet time. I promise.”
“Are there any more soap operas that we need to participate in? If something else is brewing, I’m going to make Pam come home so she can stand in for me.”
“That’s not a bad idea. How does she feel about scarves?” Not funny.
I growled, “She detests them…”
“Water sports?” After showering with her before I died, all I could do was hope it took a while before she realized she could use them to make me her puppet.
“She’s afraid of slipping.”
She snickered, “I guess you’re stuck with me after all. You just can’t catch a break.”
“A blow job might ease the pain.”
“I just so happen to have one with your name on it. I hid it in our room like a Thanksgiving egg. You can look for it later.”
I quoted her definition from earlier, “Later is the time when family obligations and work responsibilities no longer require the conventional use of clothing.”
She giggled, “Damn right. You’re pretty smart for a blon-“
Sookie was cut off by an earsplitting scream coming from inside and the only thing that held me back was putting Sookie down…
I left her behind.
I was at the archway to the dining room when the girls met me…
I was prepared to see a threat. Instead both of them were smiling, excited as they jumped into my arms.
Jason was the one standing at the door and when he looked over his shoulder and saw me, the color drained from his face. “Um… we’ve… got… company…”
I raised my eyebrows, practically willing him to elaborate, but I had to ask, “Who?”
The door was keeping me from seeing who was at the threshold and by the time Jason’s chin bounced repeatedly as though he was mute, Sookie had made her way to my side.
She barked, “Jason! Who. Is. It!?”