In The Genes
**December 22, 2003 continued**
In light of the new information, and without bothering to elaborate on what he knew, Gawain snorted, “I’ll be there as soon as I can,” and ended the call.
I knew that tone, but I usually only heard it from Pam… and when she’d seen a trailer for a new Disney movie.
I slid my phone into my pocket as I made my way back to the porch and offered, “Gawain didn’t offer any answers, but he wants tickets to the show. What did Jason dream?”
Jason cringed away from Marcy and mumbled, “I woke up in bed with Pam.”
I pointed and chuckled, “This Pam?”
He shook his head. “Naw, well, A Pam, but different… Fuck. See why I never mentioned it! A’ight… I crashed at home with Marcy, because I love her. I wake up in this bedroom that’s so pink it’s gotta be a joke, like when she had pink hair. Turns out I’m bonded to her. We’re living together at that casino. She’s Sheriff ‘cuz you moved ta Europe and became King. Yadda this, yadda that. The whole thing was all fucked up, but when I woke up, I woke up with Marcy like nothin’ happened. I grabbed the phone book ta check on some of the shit I thought might be legit, but there wasn’t nothing… I mean, you were King’a that Kingdom Sook ain’t supposed ta even drive through. The guy Aunt Linda’s married to is a construction big-wig an’ you see his trucks all over the place. And Pam kept pushing about a brother and some sisters I never had, but I couldn’t find him in the phone book. It was like any other weird-ass dream. On Mother’s Day, I told Sook the part of the dream where our mom died a different way though.”
“You dreamt you were bonded to Pam.”
He nodded. “I met her after going to a college I never heard of.”
“Which Kingdom did I take over?”
“The Northern Empire? Some dude rubbed you wrong.”
“Linda was involved with someone other than Trey?”
“Jack Herveaux. Uncle Jack. We got cousins named Allie and Jan out of it.”
Trey mumbled, “Alcide and Janice.”
Jason blurted, “THAT’S THEM!! Wait. They’re real? I thought, you know, most dreams are brain soup.”
Trey cringed in Linda’s direction and scoffed, “Jackson Herveaux, Lin? Really?”
Linda backhanded his chest and argued, “Hadley didn’t die in childbirth, and Jason isn’t bonded to Pam. Don’t be a turd about boyfriends I don’t have.”
In an effort to get things back on track, I offered, “Hadley’s ‘dream’ included ‘characters’ who turned out to be real, ‘characters’ she shouldn’t have any knowledge of. Jason’s ‘dream’ did the same. Sookie’s note to me implied that there was a reason for her presence… If Hadley ‘awoke from her dream’ after delivering her other self’s baby to her family, and Sookie only needed my blood…”
Everyone turned to look at Jason.
He shrugged. “What? Am I supposed to hook Aunt Lin up that Herveaux guy?”
Trey growled, “Over my dead body.”
Adele finally offered, “What about those other kids?”
Jason shrugged. “Pam told me not to bother lookin’ into the twins ‘cuz of how Daddy died… She said if I’ve got a Sookie, I should have a Brandon too because he’s older. That’s who I looked up in the phonebook. I couldn’t find him or his mom.”
Linda probed, “Older than Sookie? Does that mean older than you too, or in between?”
“In between. See, that was another thing that made it so weird. Too complicated. My parents split up for a while, and Daddy started dating another woman…”
Before he could finish, Adele and Linda breathed, “Julie Emery.”
Jason choked, “HOLY SHIT!”
What had my attention was the way Shawn looked like he’d been punched.
Pam breathed, “Fucking faeries… Okay… Stepping into the Quantum accelerator…”
Hadley and Marcy offered, “Love that show,” at the same time.
“We’ve got Hadley, bonded to Shawn… she had a weird out-of body experience where she takes her baby to Sookie to be raised. The dead Hadley was also sharing blood with a Vampire… Then we’ve got Jason bonded to Me. He leapt home while waiting to meet another version of himself. A Sookie, bonded to Eric, has an emergency and needs to heal Hadley. Our Sookie’s also had Simza’s blood… Linda, any weirdness for you?”
When Linda cringed, Trey groaned, “If you say you woke up in bed with Jackson Herveaux, you’re going to need the garden hose and new shoes.”
She rolled her eyes at her husband. “Um… I… I woke up in… I woke up with Corbett… We were sure we were just dreaming… His sister had just died of cancer. He told me about his life and I told him about mine. We dozed off on the couch together.”
I asked, “Have you had Vampire blood?”
She shrugged. “I sliced into my finger at work. Shawn just gave me a dab.”
Pam blurted, “VOILA! We have a winner, folks! When Faeries have Vampire blood, shit gets weird. One Sookie had Eric juice. Another had Simza. A Jason had my blood. Hadley had Shawn’s and Sophie-Anne’s. And Linda had Shawn’s too.”
I groaned, “But what is it that’s happening? That’s the pertinent question. All of them seemed to have a reason except for Linda’s. A posthumous visit isn’t really-”
Linda interrupted, “It was after I found out we’re Fae. I told him about that. He might have needed to know.”
Shawn blurted, “Hadley’s empathic. Jake, the Were she hung out with, told her… She has a legit ability like Sookie does …”
Jason breathed, “Goddamn… Me too. That was the first thing Pam told me… I thought I was being pranked. She told me I’d be able to tell if she was full of shit or not… I’ve been playing with it… I calmed down a mom in the back of the rig on the way to the hospital about a week later.”
My eyes rolled, “And none of you bothered to share that information?”
Jason snorted, “Right, like I want an invitation to a padded cell? It’s not like I was gonna hide it forever, but…”
Hadley offered, “And I thought it was because I was bonded to Shawn. I mean, the sharing feelings thing combined with the Faerie bit. I mean, Jake acted like he was… I got the feeling that Jake and the other Me were an item. He wanted to know how Shawn treated me.”
Adele added, “And I’m sure they all remember how Sookie used to feel about her ability, and how nasty Michelle was about it… Can we get back to my other grandbaby, please? If there’s another piece of Corbett running around out there, I need to meet him.”
I pulled my phone from my pocket and asked, “Julie and Brandon Emery?”
Jason nodded, but Shawn offered, “Rousseau.”
Somehow, that one word had gotten everyone’s attention.
I probed, “You know Adele’s grandson and never bothered to mention him?”
He shook his head. “I know him, but I didn’t know there was a relation… Julie was a friend of mine, but I lost her when I pulled the mid-life crisis stunt to cover that I was brought over. She picked Patty’s side. It’s not like we had words. I understood. She’s a really sweet woman. I knew her since Brandon was still in high school.”
Adele demanded, “MORE!”
Shawn looked guilty as he continued, “Julie was married to Tom Rousseau when I met her. Patty’s office is in the same strip mall as the bakery Julie was working at. I only know her maiden name because Brandon’s got a mouth on him. He got the full-name treatment a lot. Brandon Emery Rousseau. Tom’s health was horrible and he died a few years later. I know Brandon knows about his real father’s family, but he was really quiet about why he didn’t approach them. Julie told Patty that Brandon’s father was only separated from his wife and he went back to her before Julie found out she was pregnant… Brandon’s a really good kid, stand-up enough to take responsibility for getting a girl pregnant in high school. He… now that I’m thinking about it, he does favor Jason. Blonde hair, blue eyes, same build…”
Linda offered, “Corbett. Brandon looks like Corbett.”
Shawn shrugged. “From what I’ve heard, yeah… I’m sorry, but I didn’t know… They’re in the phonebook, but they’re under Rousseau.”
Hadley darted into the house for the phonebook, and Trey offered, “At least there was a collateral benefit to Eric getting mind-fucked by phantom-Sookie…”
Adele snorted, “Y’all keep it up. You think I’m letting the cussing slide, but I’m counting…” Of course she was. “Wait. Brandon’s got a baby of his own?”
Shawn nodded. “Twin boys. Emery and Jules. The mom pretty much dumped them. She was going to put them up for adoption, but Brandon put his foot down. Let her terminate her rights, but kept the boys on his own. They’re the same age as Archie. The last time I saw them, they talked up a storm, but they were only about a year old.”
Jason sighed, “Probably because they’re telepaths like their father…”
Adele and Linda shouted, “What!?”
Jason nodded. “When I woke up with Pam, she… That Me went to school in Vegas with Sookie and Brandon and we all used our abilities ta gamble professionally. Brandon’s like Sook. He could be travelin’ around makin’ a mint like she does.”
Marcy narrowed her eyes, “This happened last spring, right before we went to Vicksburg and you turned $300 into enough for our new cars.”
He nodded. “Yeah…”
Marcy slapped the back of his head from one side and Adele got him from the other. Marcy shouted, “Goddamnit! We thought we needed to have an intervention! We thought you had a gambling problem!”
He shook his head. “Nope. Just padding the savings account. After you saw Sook’s pictures of Italy, you said you want to honeymoon there. Thought we could go in style.”
Trey snorted, “If she’s too upset, I’ll go with you, precious.”
Jason chuckled and blew a kiss at him. “Big spoon or little spoon?”
Before Trey could answer, Marcy declared, “Mine,” and kissed Jason with enough zeal that Adele threatened to spray them with the garden hose.
Poor Tucker’s birthday party had been waylaid, but fortunately Zee was creative… She’d entertained the children by basically teaching them to play Quarters. She’d lined up shot glasses on the counter and had the children use Lemonheads instead of quarters, and fruit punch instead of liquor.
The children were actually disappointed when the actual adults returned to the house.
While the children were settled into the playroom to watch Lilo & Stitch (as per the theme of the party), the adults brainstormed.
Adults, minus Pam. She wanted to watch Lilo & Stitch.
Calling Brandon wasn’t a consideration. Adele wanted to meet him. Telepaths are cynical. If she called him and told him his sister was telepathic as well, he’d wonder what Adele was hiding. She wanted him to see his family in her mind.
And, of course, waiting until anyone had calmed down was a ridiculous idea.
While everyone agreed with Adele, she admitted that she was nervous enough to not want to go alone. Hadley and Jason admitted that they weren’t suited for the task because their anxiety to meet Brandon could ‘bleed’ to their new kin. Shawn was ‘out’ because it wasn’t likely that he’d be warmly received. Linda refused to go because it wouldn’t do any good for her to go if she was just going to be a ‘blubbering wreck like Momma’…
Trey nominated me.
I was already covered with tears and I could stay calm.
He needed to be fitted for a muzzle.
And even though Pam was singing along with the children, she added her vote, making it a unanimous decision for me to be Adele’s escort… If they’d just shut the fuck up for a moment, they wouldn’t have needed to vote. They hadn’t even given me a chance to consent.
Armed with directions to a subdivision in Minden, the drive was free of conversation…
Given the way Adele clutched my hand, I didn’t need to ask if she wanted me to lead the discussion at Brandon’s house.
At nine o’clock on a Monday night, I’d have thought being quiet as to not wake the children would be necessary, but as we approached the house, it sounded as though there was a battle happening inside.
All it had taken to make Adele cry was the sound of wrestling… Her hold on my arm was vice-like, and she started trembling the second I knocked on the door.
One of the children chirped, “That was fast!” and the other began chanting, “Food, food, food…”
I watched the light flicker behind the peephole and (who I assumed was) Brandon breathed, “What the fuck?”
It actually made me feel better to know I wasn’t the only one who could thank Santa for a shiny new mind-fuck.
He opened the door, completely focused on me in spite of Adele’s nervous sobbing, and undammed the scent of an unfamiliar Vampire.
Any man might have recognized a Vampire as a threat (especially with young children to consider), but a telepath wouldn’t have been guessing about my nature.
Oddly, Brandon Rousseau didn’t seemed threatened, just surprised.
He nodded and offered his hand. “What can I do for you, Sheriff Northman?”
“I’ve been nominated by the Stackhouse family to act as an emissary. I’m not likely to weep.”
He glanced at Adele, but focused on me. “My grandmother wants a Vampire to hold her hand when she meets me?”
“Not necessarily my hand, but she’s a little overwhelmed at the moment. She just heard of your existence a few minutes ago.”
The children in the townhouse ran into the tidy foyer and shouted, “GRAN!” in unison, and I had to catch Adele to keep her knees from folding.
At first glance, the only way to tell the two children apart was their clothing. Blue eyes, freckled faces, closely trimmed blonde hair… The one in a little Guns N Roses T-shirt (as opposed to the Braves T-shirt) asked if she was okay while Brandon invited us into the house and led us to the den so Adele could sit down. Emery and Jules (short for Julian) rattled on about meeting her while Brandon tried to hug his grandmother before his sons pushed him out of their way.
The children immediately climbed onto her lap… Still referring to her as Gran like most of the children in Bon Temps tended to do. The mystery was how Brandon knew me on sight… telepathically or from a mysterious close encounter of the third kind?
As confusing as the situation was, at least Adele was given a warm reception.
As Brandon righted the upturned coffee table and tidied up spilled playing cards and chess pieces, he sighed, “When I was a kid, I played sports with Jason and Sookie. When Sandwich Island opened, I started going there once in a while… Keeping tabs without intruding…”
One of the boys giggled, “Stalking.”
Brandon continued, “I started avoiding the place when your cars were there once the boys caught on to why we were going. They don’t have any freakin’ verbal filters and I didn’t want them to burst anyone’s bubble.”
Adele was actively hugging the boys’ heads to her chest. “Why didn’t you want to meet us? Did you hear something to scare you off?”
One of his children offered, “He’s a wussy.”
The other child added, “He didn’t know Aunt Sookie’s a telepath until she left town. Y’all didn’t think about it.”
Brandon grumbled, “Y’all want to do this?”
They both nodded as much as Adele’s hold would allow.
Adele asked, “You thought you were a freak so you were worried about how we’d react.”
Brandon nodded. “That and the whole bastard-crawling-out-of-the-woodwork thing. It festered from when I was a kid.”
Adele whimpered, “You got us now though. You know that, right? The whole family’s waiting to hear about you. An aunt and uncle, cousins, a brother… Sookie will find out as soon as she’s home in the morning. She’s staying home for a few months before she takes off again.”
I asked, “Am I to assume you know who I am via the thoughts of your family?”
He shrugged in an oddly noncommittal way, but the Braves fan offered, “You’re cool. You can fly.”
There was a camera hiding somewhere.
Had to be.
Brandon growled at his son, but Adele gasped, “You too!”
Brandon narrowed his eyes. “I’m not the only one?”
“No. Linda, Jason and Hadley… the wrong Sookie visited Eric tonight.”
“Thank God it’s a family thing! I thought I was getting some fresh-hell ability.”
I sat next to Adele and asked, “Do I want to know what you learned?”
The boys turned around on Adele’s lap and the heavy metal fan started, “Daddy had a girlfriend. He woke up with her…”
The other twin added, “Instead’a us, Daddy had a girl. Julie. She’s the same age as us, right down to the birthday. Same mom and everything.”
They switched. “And the other Daddy woke up at another house. That’s where Daddy met Christine. She’s the awesomest.”
Brandon interrupted, “Can I tell the damn story? Y’all weren’t even there.”
The Braves fan rolled his eyes and scoffed, “He’s grumpy when he’s hungry. It’s calzone night.”
Once the wrestling mess was put away, Brandon sat on the coffee table and ran his hands through his hair. “So I guess this is how I got discovered, huh? The craziness with skipping.”
Adele nodded. “Jason was told about you, but he didn’t know to look for Rousseau instead of Emery… Can we talk about that later? Now that poor Eric knows there isn’t someone running around with a master plan, we can just have a family meeting to compare notes. I want to hear about you and your babies.”
He smiled and nodded. “What do you know about me?”
“That your momma was a beautiful, sweet lady. She made your daddy smile from ear to ear and all he had to do was think about her. We know you’re telepathic…”
The twins piped, “Me too!”
Adele kissed their foreheads. “Of course, you too… But Jason’s ‘dream’ was so different I can’t even begin to guess.”
He shrugged, “Everything was good, great even. My stepfather never gave me any hint I wasn’t his. I didn’t find out until Corbett died. I lost them a few years back. Dad had a stroke and mom caught a super-virus from the hospital while she was visiting him. He lingered for a while, but he’d been a lost cause since the stroke… These two jokers snuck up on me in high school. Their mother wasn’t ready for the mom gig, so it’s just us…”
The one in the Guns N Roses T-shirt added, “Christine now too.”
He nodded. “I found her a few months ago because of the skip. I spent plenty of time getting info and whatnot, but I didn’t reset like I should have. They said it was because they missed something. They didn’t spend a lot of time focusing on Christine, but when I didn’t reset, that’s what we focused on. She gave me some contact information… The fact that it seemed like I skipped because of her was a great excuse to stall meeting the family.” He turned his attention to me. “I know she needs to check in with you, but we’ve just been quiet while she settles in. She’s overstayed as a gypsy, but she’s only been here for three months.”
In the spirit of picking battles, I asked, “Has she ever been a threat to you or the children? Has she left any messes that will come back to bite me?”
He shook his head. “No. She’s over 800. She’s scared shitless of your reputation. She spent most of her life in Germany. Her Maker’s a total dick, so being on the other side of the world is a good thing.”
I definitely understood that…
If a newborn could surprise me by being the model of a perfect family man, Christine’s secrecy could be placed on the back burner so to speak.
“Details can wait for now. As long as she isn’t a rogue… You should know your connection to Adele is the only reason I’m willing to show any patience on the matter.”
He nodded. “We were kind of relying on the ‘friend of a friend’ thing… Thank you. We were planning to come to you after the holiday. If you weren’t cool about her being here, we were going to try the Caribbean. We’ve heard it’s one of the few hassle-free zones for Vampires.”
“Backup plan and exit strategy. I’m a mechanic, so I’ve been studying up on outboard engines. I didn’t want to get there and not be able to find work.”
Practical. If I didn’t know better I’d start thinking there was a family connection.
Adele blurted, “Where is she then?”
The Braves fan offered, “She ran up to Sandwich Island for calzones.”
Adele gasped, “Beautiful redhead! Three calzones and lime-ades for dinner, with a streusel cake and abuelita for dessert!”
Brandon chuckled, “That’s us.”
Adele gasped, “My stars! That skipping thing has turned out… Eric, if Christine waited until after Christmas to come to you…”
I nodded at her line of thinking. “She would have been lucky to have a few nights to leave my Area… Brandon, when was the last time you ‘kept up without intruding’?”
“It’s been about three years, I guess… Christine’s been having fun bringing me the gossip from Sandwich Island though. I heard Hadley’s married, Jason’s engaged, Sookie travels for work…”
“Did you hear anything about who Hadley married?”
He shook his head. “According to what Lafayette told Christine, the guy’s sex on a stick and seeing him play with their kids makes Lafayette’s ovaries explode.”
His delivery was so dry, he reminded me of his sister… and it was too easy to imagine Lafayette fanning himself while talking about his ovaries.
I chuckled, “He is incredibly sexy… He’s also how we found you. He was a friend of your mother’s… Shawn Ingram.”
Brandon cringed. “Damn. We used to be pretty tight. I helped him coach his daughter’s soccer team. He’s the one who taught me how to change a diaper… but… Y’all know he walked out on his first wife, right?”
Adele argued, “Oh no… he didn’t walk out. He had a sudden change of circumstances. He’s a Vampire now. That’s just not something you can hide from-”
Brandon blurted, “NO!”
Adele nodded. “Patty knows now, of course, but it’s not like he could lightproof or stop eating dinner with his family. He started bringing the kids into the shop for dinner when he had them.”
“I wrote him off for that bullshit… I mean, new car, new job, new house… Patty told my mom he had a young girlfriend. A sudden midlife crisis… and he was just turned! Damn.”
Adele nodded. “He understood the way it looked, but he knows he’s lucky to have the loophole he did… Arianna is two now, and they’re expecting again in the spring.”
He left the coffee table and began stepping slowly towards the foyer. “How is that possible?”
“He needed to have his sperm frozen-”
Brandon winced and shook his head. “Nope- stop there. I remember now.”
Once Brandon stepped into the foyer, Adele looked at me and shook her head. “What is it with men? Y’all can watch the most gruesome movies and beg for more, but…”
The boy in the Guns N Roses shirt gasped, “A NEEDLE!?” and they both covered their laps protectively.
Brandon had just walked outside when I chuckled, “From the mouths of babes, Adele.”
The Braves fan blurted, “Balls are off limits!”
No doubt, a wrestling rule, but his statement was perfectly fitting.
I agreed, “Don’t ever let anyone try to convince you otherwise, Emery.”
“I won’t. I saw a guy puke from a nut-shot.”
I had to assume he would have corrected me if I’d guessed which twin he was incorrectly. A temporary fix. Hopefully they wouldn’t wear matching clothes to Sunday dinners before I could identify them by their freckles. Even those were similar though.
The front door closed and Brandon led the ‘beautiful redhead’ into the den, carrying their dinner.
She looked positively horrified.
He started, “So Christine, this is Gran…”
“Nice to meet you, Mrs. Stackhouse.” Christine offered her hand, but Adele set the boys on the floor and stood up to hug her.
“It’s so good to meet y’all… You better not have plans tomorrow night. Are the boys out of school for the holiday yet?”
Christine answered, “They’re homeschooled.”
“That settles it then… Everyone will be dying to meet you by then. Y’all should come to the pageant. It’ll be fun. Emery and Jules can play with their cousins.”
Brandon grinned at his grandmother’s insistence and offered, “We’ll be there… Christine, that’s Sheriff Northman.”
She bowed towards me respectfully and offered a sheepish smile. “An honor, Sheriff.”
“We’ll discuss particulars another time. Have your references ready for me tomorrow night though.”
She didn’t seem to relax at all.
Adele turned to me and asked, “Do we have to be so formal? She’s family. You’re family…”
I chuckled, “You’re a Vampire-loving lunatic… She’ll call me Eric regardless, but I still need to do my job.”
She sighed, “That’s the best I’m going to get, huh?”
“Until I have more than a pretty face as a reason to trust her in my Area, yes ma’am.”
Jules piped, “That’s cool. He’s just handicapped.”
Brandon laughed, probably because of the look on my face, “I said they don’t have filters, right!? He meant because you aren’t telepathic, you can’t automatically tell when you can trust people.”
That wasn’t insulting at all then… and I’d certainly be willing to accept Sookie’s appraisal of Christine.
I offered, “I used to know a little telepath who thought she was handicapped.”
Emery mewled, “What happened to her?”
“She took over the world.”
While Adele snickered, the children shared a look as though they were making their plans for global domination.
Adele insisted that everyone enjoy their meal and sat at their kitchen table to visit with Brandon, Emery and Jules while they ate…
Adele jokingly told them about the first time she’d noticed them in Sandwich Island. Linda had pointed them out and said she’d seen Brandon in the shop before. He stood out to her, and Linda actually mentioned that Sookie was the last baby she’d ever noticed who was so verbal.
In tag-team fashion, the little telepaths explained their shared ability was why they were homeschooled. They pointed towards a bookshelf loaded with fifth grade texts and asked if Sookie had stood out like a sore thumb too. While their kindergarten classmates were focusing on the most basic concepts of phonics, Emery and Jules were telepathically playing amongst themselves… Brandon withdrew them from school as soon as the teacher suggested placement testing. He knew they needed to go to school (if for no better reason than developing social skills), but weren’t mature enough to assimilate.
Assimilate. A S S I M I L A T E. To socially integrate. Also, to blend or interlope.
Emery and Jules could define and spell ‘assimilate’, and point out that it was a cool word because it started with a ‘cuss’. Archie’s flashcards included words like have, good, soon and there.
I couldn’t help but think ‘poor Sookie’. Having Brandon with her as a child, a peer who shared her ability, probably would have done amazing things for her morale.
I wasn’t stoic, but taking a less active role in the visit allowed me to focus on my surroundings. Considering Brandon’s employment as a ‘mechanic’, the home seemed to be out of his price range. It wasn’t ostentatious, but it didn’t seem like the house was within what I thought he could afford… unless, of course, Brandon was understating his position or had begun moonlighting as a telepath. It seemed more likely that he’d inherited his parents’ house. There were other clues to that effect scattered throughout the commons that rang of an older woman had cared for the home at some point; there were tailored floral curtains on the windows, someone collected Carnival Glass, and there was a bookshelf full of Danielle Steel books and several ‘chick flicks’ in the entertainment center. They could have been Christine’s, but there were plenty of newer releases that could have been part of the collection.
The cleanliness of the house was something else altogether. Spotless. In fact, other than the large dog bed in the corner of the living room, I didn’t think anything of what pets they might have until Christine opened the laundry room door and a white puppy ran out to inspect the floor under the table for crumbs. Libby systematically sniffed everyone, checked the floor again, sniffed everyone, happily ate a pepperoni Jules dropped accidentally, and then proceeded to ignore her water dish to drink the water in the basin for the large Christmas tree.
The fortunate aspect of the twins’ lack of a filter was that I wasn’t forced to ask about the dog. The White Shepard was a gift to Christine from Brandon… At their tender ages, the twins teased their father by joking about looking pretty in a skirt once they’re older so they could have puppies of their own. Emery went as far as suggesting red hair might be necessary as well.
Christine almost smiled at the ribbing… She was taking dishes from the dishwasher while the children teased their father, and that was par for the course. She did laundry, dishes, excused herself to clean bathrooms, and tidied the twins’ rooms.
Eight hundred-year old Vampires did not serve as maids and au pairs… I wasn’t sure where she got the impression that I expected to see domestic behavior, but it seemed as though she was putting on a show for me…
The mail-order Vampire bride didn’t seem as though she’d harm anything. If Christine had been in my Area for three months, the situation would keep until after my calendar of holiday events was cleared unless there was something awry with her references.
I had to assume that Pam had been elected to call me (like I’d been elected to accompany Adele)… I let her ask how the meeting was going before toying with her, telling her that we’d tracked Brandon to a trailer park in Robeline and had to wait for him to finish beating his wives before he answered the door. The twins held their hands over their mouths until I ended the call, but as soon as they let themselves laugh, Jules cackled that he couldn’t wait to meet Pam, and Emery hissed that he was just looking forward to our pranks. Whatever situation Brandon found himself in during his ‘skip’ he’d been told about a few pranks… The twins had read Thinner and watched the movie just because of the prank it inspired me to play on Pam.
Adele sat quietly as we returned to Shawn and Hadley’s house. It wasn’t until I stopped the car at the curb that she said anything.
“Thank you. I know you’re only being patient about Christine for my sake. And I’m sorry I put you on the spot about it.”
Only for her.
Anyone else would have been taken to the airport in silver.
“You’re welcome, but don’t get used to referring to her as Christine. It isn’t the name she’s really using.”
“What? How can you tell?”
“A slight hesitation. If it were just a new name, the children wouldn’t still be getting used to using it after they have been living with her for three months. She answers to something different at home.”
“I didn’t even notice… I guess that’s why you’re the Sheriff.”
I chuckled, “Perhaps you were just excited to get new grandchildren for Christmas.”
“That too… I wish I knew what got into Sookie. Even if that one isn’t mine, the way she took off with your blood…”
“In light of what we know now, there is most likely a comatose Hadley somewhere who actually needed it. There was nothing deceitful about how distraught Sookie was.”
I opened my door and walked around my car to open Adele’s for her. When she stepped out, she wrapped her arms around me. “It doesn’t matter if it came from the wrong Sookie. You really are a saint…”
“Don’t get ahead of yourself, Adele. It’s entirely possible that Christine will need to leave my Area.”
“Not that. I know that… You saved a Hadley tonight.”
“It might be in Hadley’s best interest to relax as much as possible.”
“We’ll do what we can. I’m sure Shawn’s already thinking of ways to lighten her load… You need to go to Fangtasia and find something for dinner.”
“And then I’ll go home for a long bubble bath…” and burn my shirt. The scent of Sookie’s tears had been needling me for hours.