Because I needed more reasons to be happy Sookie was home, feeling the way she was wrapped around me as I came back to myself was almost too much. That little trick she brought home from the braid made the drawbacks easier to swallow…
‘They’ had called it losing time, but that term needed to be reevaluated… I felt as though sharing blood with Sookie gave me hours of incredible playtime while I should have been dead. Blurry memories of what we’d done weren’t a loss in my estimation. Blurry memories were still memories, and if it weren’t for the scent of the guestroom, I might have wondered if it had all been a dream.
I knew she hadn’t stayed with me all day. She was carrying too many scents; she’d been somewhere else and had seen Adele at least… but I couldn’t help but feel more confident about our conversation because she’d come back to me.
She was sleeping so peacefully I didn’t want to wake her… and I was so preoccupied I didn’t notice the extra heartbeat right away, but it seemed like Atum noticed it at the same time I did.
From his bed, he asked, “Eric?”
I opened my mouth to respond, but My voice asked, “Atum? Is that you? Where am I?”
Just after he asked, Sookie giggled, “Uh oh,” but it wasn’t the one snuggled up to me.
There was another Me and Sookie in the room.
The other Me asked, “Who the fuck are you?”
While she giggled, I offered, “That one is Mine. I think I have yours…” I assumed the loud thud just before I saw the face of another Me appear over the pony wall was Sookie hitting the floor. “Be careful not to break her.”
“Who are you!?”
“I’m another version of you. You’re experiencing what the Fae call ‘the braid’, and it’s probably a direct result of Sookie and me sharing blood this morning.”
“A hallucination? I haven’t drained a Faerie in years.”
Sookie stood up, slapped his chest for pushing her from the bed, and lifted herself over the pony wall, giving me a glimpse of a marking on her inner thigh that brought back more than a few memories.
She explained, “It’s not a hallucination. Certain Fae have the ability to slide in and out of different versions of reality. My Faerie ancestor, whoever he is, passed that ability to his increase, and once we have Vampire blood, we usually end up in the braid. I had my first experience with it not long after Atum healed me…” She pulled back my comforter to join us, nudging the other Sookie. “Get off my Vampire. Get your own… Anyway, you’re here to learn something or tell us something we need to know. It doesn’t matter that you haven’t shared blood with a hybrid because plenty of Erics have. It just happens and it corrects itself after everyone has what they need… You’ll still have your night ahead of you. Roll with it.”
With a Sookie snuggled against either side, it was easy to see a difference… One batch of blonde locks was brighter with more highlights. One arm had a much deeper tan. One hand had longer nails. One body was tighter.
He asked, “Roll with it?” but Sookie hardly seemed to notice.
She asked me, “Any port in a storm, huh?” and glanced at the other Her.
“Excuse me? You actually fucked another Me. And you were snuggled with Him too.”
“He woke up confused. You woke up happy as a fucking clam…”
Yes. I. Did.
“Why wouldn’t I? My cup runneth over…”
She snickered, “You can’t hog all the Sookies,” and moved to kiss me. “You know, the braid has kind of ruined my plans for the night.”
“What were they?”
“They didn’t include a lot of conversation.”
“Oh really? Am I invited?”
The other Me blurted, “EXCUSE ME! Could someone at least tell me where the fuck I am!?”
Sookie dropped her forehead to my chest and sighed, “Lake Bistineau. You’re in my house. My attic’s been converted to serve as a Vampire guestroom.”
Atum appeared and slapped his back. “Is nice. You like it… Sookie, the cats?”
Leave it to Atum to rise in a room with duplicated versions of anyone, and ask about the damn cats. At least it seemed as though Sookie had clued him in to the fact that he might find himself guarding extras from time to time.
My Sookie explained, “I checked on them when I went downstairs earlier. They were in my bed. Since nothing was broken, I treated them to some steak and eggs.”
He nodded approvingly. “Good-good… Eric-”
Both of us asked, “Which one?” but the other Me was an asshole about it.
Atum palmed his face and shoved him backwards over the bed as a gentle reminder to be more respectful. He shook his head and approached the side of my bed where the extra Sookie was and squatted down…
He raised an eyebrow and tossed a piece of what used to be a lovely robe onto the bed, so Sookie snickered, “Worth it. His jeans were sacrificed to the Fuck Gods too.”
He mumbled to call us assholes again before turning his attention to my extra companion. “Sookie… Sookie, wake. Is important. Soooooookie…” She didn’t respond at all, so he looked at me and ordered, “Up. She is swimming.”
He nodded and repeated, “Up.” It was actually funny to see him so curious about something. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he was excited to witness the braid firsthand.
Sookie followed me from the bed and explained, “Swimming. She’s enjoying the bliss of a nearby Vampire mind, floating in the sweet nothingness you have to offer.”
The other Me asked, “Care to explain what that means?” as he walked towards us.
I answered, “She’s a telepath. She doesn’t hear Vampire’s thoughts, but she does have a sense of our minds.”
Sookie asked Atum, “Has she had blood?”
He sampled her scent and shook his head. “Why?”
“Light… I can barely see and I had Eric’s blood this morning.”
I caught the other me watching Sookie’s ass (not her tattoo because her hair covered it) while she walked towards the desk to turn the lamp on, so I elbowed him. “Mine.”
He shrugged unapologetically, but Sookie teased, “Oh really?” and crossed her arms. “That’s not what my marriage license says.”
“Fuck your marriage license. Say it.”
“Say what? Erica Herveaux?”
“You took my name long before you took the Wolf’s name. Say you’re Mine.”
She snickered and stopped in front of me with her toes on top of mine. “You’re Mine.”
I grabbed her, but before I could toss her onto a bed, Atum demanded in Arabic, “Children! Stop playing!”
Sookie poked my side and scowled at me like it was entirely my fault we’d been scolded.
While Atum tried to rouse the other Sookie, the other Me complained, “Lake what? I’m still lost… And I don’t smell Faeries. I smell fucking, but not Faeries.”
My Sookie leaned back against me and offered, “I’m the Faerie, but I’m only a hybrid. We aren’t sure who snuck into the family tree, maybe a country adoption or something… And you’re on the banks of Lake Bistineau, Webster Parish, Louisiana…”
“Louisiana? I’ve never…”
“Where do you live?” Sookie and I asked at the same time.
“New York.” He answered as though we were stupid for asking.
My Sookie cooed, “Awwww, the boys convinced a You to stay,” and she might as well have been reading my mind. “You’re better off than some. I’ve heard the braid is even worse when two sets of braid virgins are involved.”
His eyes widened. “You’ve heard of this happening when none of the parties knew what caused it?”
She nodded. “You ask like you’ve heard of the Fae ever not being a pain in the ass…”
He sighed, “Fair point.”
She snickered and turned to me. “You need to shake her up. She’s focused on you.”
“Shake her up?”
“Yeah. Go figure, the New Yorker’s impatient for answers, and we should explain to both of them… Can you… can you do a repeat of the Tyson ‘drop’?”
Of course she’d bring that up.
“I told you, you’re really calm. She’s locked in sensory deprivation and needs a reason to come out. The Tyson drop is the most drastic change I’ve ever felt from you.”
She waited, watching me with a raised eyebrow, while I tried to reenact the mind-fuck that knocked over the first domino in weeks of emotional silver…
Just as the other Sookie sat up gasping as though someone had doused her with ice water, My Sookie snickered, “We’ll talk about that later… That wasn’t the same reaction.”
The other Sookie scurried to press her back against the headboard and covered her face. “Where am I?”
My Sookie sighed as she turned to face the other one, “Lake Bistineau. You’re in my house…”
The other Sookie immediately uncovered her eyes to see where Her voice was coming from, but covered them again.
“Is there a nudist colony on Lake Bistineau I never heard of!?”
My Sookie snickered, “No. Are you auditioning for one of the Von Trapps? What the hell are you wearing.”
Granted, there wasn’t anything sexy about the flannel sack of a nightgown, but… at least she was warm?
I snorted, “Pam would be so proud of you.”
My Sookie groaned, “God help me… that did sound horrible… Alright men, put’em away.”
Atum laughed as he walked towards his dresser. “Shy Sookie?”
Shy Sookie corrected from behind her hands, “Modest. Maybe. Not naked at least… Really, what’s happening? How did I get here?”
My Sookie easily caught the T-shirt Atum tossed in her direction and pulled it over her head as she explained, “We’re telepathic, and our ability came from a Faerie hiding in our woodpile. You got here thanks to what’s called the braid. It’s a Supernatural anomaly that lets you interact with another version of your life for a brief time. These gentlemen are Vampires… My habibi, Atum- he’s so badass he doesn’t need a last name… And both of these guys are Eric Northman, not just eternally sexy twins. They’re badass too, but their child- children? Anyway, Pam has a thing for monikers and gave them one anyway. One of them is Mine, and we’ll call the other one Big Apple Eric because you’re not going to get an Eric of your own in flannel. Leather is a much better bet…”
While Sookie made the introductions, I’d given Big Apple one of the two outfits in my dresser and grabbed my ruined jeans from the floor…. I was missing a button and two belt loops… and my T-shirt had been stretched until the seams popped.
I was definitely going to need to bring over a stash of clothing.
The other Sookie looked down at her nightgown and cringed while she absorbed the new information. “So… This is kind of… like a dream, but not really… and…”
When she trailed off, I offered, “And when this happens, both versions share notes on their realities. It eliminates variables and helps more often than not… It’s not perfect. It can cause some confusion, but the braid has been very helpful for us.”
She cleared her throat and looked over the room. “Like how I can have a house this nice?”
I shook my head. “No. Sookie earned this house without the braid’s assistance… She reads minds professionally. What do you do?”
“I’m a… I’ve been waiting tables.”
There wasn’t even a hint that we should expect an ‘and’ or a ‘but’… Sookie… a waitress? A telepath was waitressing… and what? Using her ability to spare herself from asking if her customers wanted ‘fries with that’?
My Sookie couldn’t have been more shocked if she’d been punched… she shook her head and asked, “Helping out at Sandwich Island?”
Good question… Arlene and Terry weren’t always reliable… Adele wouldn’t fire either of them even if they were both going through one of their many rough patches at the same time.
Sookie shook her head. “Merlotte’s… Someone opened Sandwich Island?”
“Gran used her severance package after her boss died.”
My Sookie sighed and sat on the bed. “This will be a lot faster if we telepathically upload in bulk and I can just tell them how we’re different.”
“Okay. How do we do that?”
“Think about your autobiography, try to be chronological… When you’re done, I’ll give you mine.”
“It might be easier if you do it first. I don’t know what I’m doing.”
My Sookie answered her with a long stare that made Shy Sookie cringe.
While they stared at one another, the other Me whispered, “You said she took your name and then married a Wolf. I don’t smell a Wolf.”
Of course not. He smelled fucking.
I shook my head. “You won’t smell one upstairs… Her professional name is Erica Weiss. She uses it, as well as a Welsh accent, to protect her family from the occasional greedy cunt. At the moment, she’s married to her guard to create the illusion of a ‘good Christian couple’ so she can infiltrate the Fellowship of the Sun.”
“Is that anything like Dawn’s Angels?”
I hadn’t heard of them, but I had heard about the ‘High Noon Army’ operating in the Midwest. They had been just a small group of assholes who ruined True Blood shipments and defaced Vampire-owned businesses with spray-paint… They’d been traced back to a college campus and miraculously changed their perspective.
My Sookie explained, “The Fellowship’s congregation is twenty-thousand strong. Dawn’s Angels are a blip on the radar comparatively. I’m keeping My Francesca posted because we’re hoping they dissolve when the Fellowship goes down…” She held her finger up and sighed, “We need a minute. She’s having trouble focusing.”
One mind to read and she was distracted by a quiet conversation? The poor thing definitely needed practice.
Given that I was in need of a shower, I removed my fresh clothes from my dresser and nodded towards the ottoman to have the other Me follow… and Atum joined us.
As much time as I’d spent in Sookie’s house, I hadn’t seen the other bathrooms… Sookie’s bathroom was still my favorite, but the bathroom between the attic guestroom and the children’s room impressed the other Me enough for him to snort, “She has decent taste.”
The walls, floors and counter were all maple, and the large tub, toilet and sink were white porcelain with brass fixtures… it was simple, clean, uncluttered…
I nodded as I started the shower. “This one is nice, but her bathroom is worth building a house around… My next house will have something very similar.”
“You said she’s a professional telepath… and we’re in Louisiana… She works for Mata’utia?”
I laughed, “Mata’utia? Martín’s Sheriff?”
He nodded. “Once upon a time… Is he… Did he lose Louisiana?”
“He never took Louisiana. Mata’utia is still in Seattle. Sophie-Anne is still in control…” I stepped into the tub and forced myself to ignore the cookie jar on the shelf behind me. “How did a kid like Mata’utia end up taking over Louisiana?”
“Sophie-Anne lost her head to de Castro decades ago. I think it was the 50s. It wasn’t long after that when Mata’utia ended de Castro and took Nevada and Louisiana. I know it was before the Bay of Pigs invasion. That cocky prick has a reality show on MTV. He has six pets that bicker about everything and treat the servants like shit. Pam won’t even watch it.”
“We still have Sophie-Anne to contend with, but she’s laying low at the moment. She made a public ass of herself and Sookie was the catalyst for that. Sookie is technically under contract with Milne for the Fellowship project, but she signed on to read pets for the subjects of Louisiana while she’s here. She’s actually a free agent. She has contracts lined up with Martín, Marcos, Rhemaxos and Dmitri. I was a Louisiana Sheriff until Sookie optioned me as a personal guard. I’ve known her for most of her life. Her grandmother was my assistant for years.”
The other Me snorted, “You’ve clearly lost your fucking mind if you keep a politicking Faerie for a pet.” It wasn’t long ago that I would have said the same thing.
Atum chuckled, “Eric is pet.”
“Thank you very much, habibi. Will you stop ribbing me about my personal life if I arrange for your pussy to get a Visa?”
I couldn’t tell by the look on his face if he was pissed at me for mentioning Alice, or if he was considering my offer.
The other Me chuckled, “Is she that good?”
He growled, “Assholes,” and went into the closet to use the ladder… We’d been abandoned for a pair of Sookies.
The other Me asked, “Assholes? Don’t you miss being called ommak fasya?”
“He spends a lot of time with Sookie. He’s been her guard off and on for more than two years. Gawain and Simza as well. Mee trained and they got on really well. I’ll be joining the force…”
“Does she fuck all of her guards?”
“No… What made you stay in New York?”
He scoffed, “I suppose the better question would be why the fuck you would have left New York to come to Louisiana…”
“Pam and I spent a few years in California. We enjoyed it, and we only left when my name came up during the communist witch-hunts because a film I financed was deemed ‘un-American’. We went to New Orleans for a while on Rubio’s recommendation because I was still overseeing expansions at the Cuban refineries. Sophie-Anne was intimidated enough to option me.”
He snorted, “I might not tell Pam that detail… She’ll enjoy that I-told-you-so too much. She successfully talked me into going to California for a while, but decided she liked New York too while we were visiting. We flipped a coin…”
I chuckled, “Fuck. We did that too… Are you enforcing for Francesca then?”
“I’m semi-retired, bored out of my mind, and split my time between the city with the boys, upstate with Connelly, or Long Island for peace and quiet. Pam, on the other hand, is- Yours will be furious.”
“Mine is fostering a young orphan and hasn’t kept an exotic pet in years because she enjoys spoiling the orphan’s Human children.”
“Sookie’s cousin started dating a newborn who’d freed himself from his Maker. Instead of faking his death, he faked a mid-life crisis so he could continue to see his children.”
“He knows. We tell Shawn how fortunate he is regularly. He’s currently expecting his second posthumously born child. He had fertility obstacles with his first wife, so he had his sperm frozen.”
He repeated, “Lucky prick.”
“What about your Pam? You said mine would be furious. Did you let yours bring over Versace in time?”
He groaned, “No, but she had the manhole covers around Bryant Park bronzed and stamped with his logo… She started with a fashion magazine when we first decided to stay in New York. Beau Monde… a few years later, she bought a dilapidated church and used it as a fashion museum. She edited and curated behind the scenes until the late 80s when she bought them from herself. Now…” He sighed, “Now she has the magazine, the museum, a boutique, a web-site and has a show on the E! network.”
Honestly, I didn’t think my Pam would trade her relationship with Shawn and Hadley for a fashion empire of her own. She was completely invested.
I laughed, “She has a constant excuse to shop, and you achieved semi-retirement. Congratulations are in order.”
“Did you miss that I said I was bored out of my mind?”
I shook my head. “But it seems like something interesting finally happened… If your Sookie is waitressing, she’ll probably need guidance.”
He stared back at me blankly for what seemed like ages before I gave up and continued to wash… He still hadn’t said anything by the time I was finished rinsing, and when I turned to look at him, his jaw was sagging.
“Did I break you?”
He snorted, “Perhaps.”
“There always seems to be a reason for one to enter the braid. Gawain has actually heard of the phenomenon, so when you return, you can discuss it with him… Sookie’s brother entered the braid and was given a laundry list of the undiscovered abilities in the Stackhouse family tree…”
“Sookie was the only member of the family with an obvious ability. Everyone else’s are passive enough to be considered sneaky. Apparently, it’s a common misconception that Jason and Hadley are sluts, but they’re empathic…”
“So they were just reciprocating attractions.”
“Until they realized they had abilities, yes. Case in point, Hadley is notoriously hostile and promiscuous. Except the Hadley I know couldn’t be more sociable and loyal to her husband. Jason’s ability is just as strong, but it seems to come down to influence. Hadleys are faced with men who want to fuck. Jasons are faced with women who want to live happily ever after. Hadleys have forceful mothers with suspicious streaks. Jasons were raised by Adeles who are tempered and understanding.”
He sighed, “Making the whorish perceptions completely understandable.”
“Exactly… Linda, Hadley’s mother, entered the braid to spend an evening with her brother. Our version of him died years earlier, but that one had just lost Linda to cancer. He didn’t know Sookie was actually a telepath because his ex-wife had sent her to an asylum as a child, and she’d been hiding her gift ever since… Hadley entered the braid to watch another version of herself bleed to death after delivering a baby. My Hadley then transported the orphaned child to the hosting version of Sookie to be raised. Later, My Sookie visited the same version of events to discover the baby is telepathic as well.”
“Telepathy seems like a dominant trait.”
“It is. Sookie, Brandon, his twins, and Hadley’s daughter are all telepathic.”
“Sookie’s half-brother, whose existence was also revealed to us in the braid.”
While I dried myself, the other Me stared blankly into the sink… I was completely dressed before he argued, “But with all of that information, how can you be sure the reason we’re in the braid is Sookie’s telepathy? This might just be so she can meet her brother, or help her cousin…”
“But you’re here too. Everyone else went alone. You wouldn’t have entered the braid as a spectator.” At least, I didn’t think he would.
“Is that how you met your Sookie?”
“I met Sookie when she was a child. Adele was a retired widow when her son and daughter-in-law died in a car accident, orphaning their young children. Adele interviewed for the position of assistant. Sookie’s ability came to light a few weeks later, and she could tell I wasn’t Human, so we distanced ourselves from her. We’d faked our deaths, and years later she noticed my photo in the paper. I’ve been attending Sunday suppers and holiday gatherings with the Stackhouses ever since. If I had to guess, I’d say your version of the Stackhouses are sheltered and naïve, but don’t underestimate their intelligence, wit, or understanding of anything.”
“You’re serious. You want me to take a family of Faeries under my wing.”
“They’re fun, grateful, refreshing… Pam and I spend most of our time with them and we enjoy it. We haven’t gone mad… Don’t let the flannel nightgown fool you into dismissing her. Sookie has incredible potential. I’m bringing her over…”
I was interrupted by a knock on the bathroom door and Sookie joked, “Are you filling his pockets with salt?”
The interruption was probably for the best given the look on his face.
I opened the door chuckling, “You should know better than to think I’d share bath salt if I can help it.” The drapes in the children’s room were hazed in twilight, and Sookie had taken the time to dress… Light blue boots and jeans, a snug one-shoulder tank top, and simple gold and topaz jewelry… she looked as delicious as ever.
She snickered, “Tough titty, pal. He lives in New York and I’m particularly fond of his Regent and her children. Big Apple’s getting a care package.”
I blew a raspberry at her. “You’re wearing heels and jewelry. Are we going out?”
She smirked and cooed, “Eventually.”
I would have known she was up to something even if I couldn’t feel it.
In an effort to focus on the braid, instead of trying to guess what she had in store for me, I asked, “How did uploading go?”
She shrugged. “Alright. Depressing, but alright. She needs help with her telepathy. She’s further behind the curve than Brandon because he started working out when the boys showed signs… So… dead parents, raised on survivor benefits, barely made it through high school thanks to telepathic interference, but that’s okay because there wasn’t money for college anyway… Aunt Linda is in the family plot. Hadley hasn’t been home in years, and Bon Temps closely follows her on a Vampire reality show because she’s Mata’utia’s favorite blood bag. Jason works for the Parish road crew. She’s excited and terrified to meet Brandon. She waits tables for a Shifter named Sam Merlotte. He’s a recurring character in the braid, but Shy Me has no fucking clue what a Shifter is…”
“I just warned him she could be sheltered…”
Sookie stepped closer and whispered, “Epic understatement… Y’all are the first Vampires she’s ever met, and she’s freaking out right now because she’s on her period. Part of me wants to tease her for being a baby about it…”
“But you made the mistake of saying you’d be self-conscious about it too.”
She hissed, “Damn it… I was hoping you’d forget I said that… So, she isn’t just sheltered. She doesn’t have enough of a handle on her ability to have a private life. You woke up with a unicorn, Eric… a sexy blonde virgin.”
I chuckled, “That would explain why she’s so bashful.”
Sookie snorted, “You and I both know that my immodesty came from being at Wallace’s compound. Cocks and six-packs as far as the eye can see and all of them attached to a man who saw me and thought ‘ewwwwwwiiiie boobies’ or ‘cute anklet’.”
Big Apple chuckled along with me. Apparently, he’d heard about Milne.
“Do we have a plan? You’re the one who’s done this before.”
She turned to lead the way through the children’s room and into the hall, explaining, “Shy Me is making copies of my awesome new grimoire. I’m just waiting for my laptop to start so I can transfer the digital info for them… I’m going to run around and grab a few things… Shy Me kind of wants to get home because I’m not stocked for periods… Hang out in the office?”
She was already on her way down the stairs when I asked, “A few things?”
“Yeah. I’m hoping bottles can go through the braid.”
I argued, “Just give him the recipe. Let him kill a Faerie for the ingredients.”
She only answered me with a laugh, so the other me asked, “Kill a Faerie?”
“While she was working in London, she discovered a massage oil that’s actually relaxing to Vampires. The running joke is that I’m a ‘useless retarded lump of happy’ during a rubdown. Not only is it accurate, but I don’t give a fuck to argue the choice of words…”
Sookie chirped from downstairs, “Addicted!”
Not just to the salt.
I continued, “Faerie dust is the key ingredient. Sookie recently improvised an adaptation of the oil. The bath salt variation of the recipe is more potent and uses less Faerie dust.”
He gave me a skeptical look (that I almost laughed at because he’d know better soon enough), but when we stepped into Sookie’s office, he balked… and for the same reason I had the first time I was in the room.
He stared at Leda until Shy Sookie looked up from the copier to ask, “What’s wrong?”
She was standing next to the desk, correlating copies of Sookie’s grimoire. She’d opted for darker blue clothing, and hugging a loose purple sweater around her waist… When I sat in the desk chair, she inched away from me. It was completely unsettling until I convinced myself she was self-conscious about bleeding.
I answered, “That painting is a lost Da Vinci. My Sookie was fortunate enough to stumble over an estate sale where they knew nothing of the value of the house or contents… She paid less than two million dollars for three Da Vinci paintings, a Monet and a library full of one-of-a-kind and first edition books.”
The other Me nodded like he was stoned. “I heard about the paintings… They were on display in New York until they were taken to the Louvre. There were more though. An anonymous collector.”
Seeing how that would make sense given the idiocy of the collector’s daughter, I nodded. “The collector died and his daughter didn’t know his collection was legitimate… Wait- More Da Vincis?”
He shook his head as he made himself comfortable on the rise of the chaise next to Atum’s legs. “I only remember three Da Vincis, but there were Klimts and Van Goghs… It made headlines… I was a little distracted at the time because someone had recently discovered two new codices and a Guttenberg bi-”
I blurted, “SOOKIE, I’M SEEING THAT HOUSE TONIGHT!”
She laughed loudly enough to drown out the sounds of her heels on the hardwood stairs. She imitated me to tease, “You’re wearing heels and jewelry. Are we going out?”
When the other Me looked like he needed an explanation, I offered, “Sookie’s extra house has a vault that’s yet to be opened. The idiotic heiress who sold the house thought her father’s claims that he owned several Guttenberg bibles were part of the mental illness that made him claim to be a Daemon changeling.”
“If it’s the same estate, it included Guttenberg’s Biblia Aurum that was stolen before it could be presented to Pope Nicholas V.”
Sookie ran into the office, dropped an armful of items on the desk, and turned to leave. As she ran out, she shouted, “Y’all are on your own! Lay down like you’re taking a nap to get back! Bon Chance!”
Cute. I knew she was joking… which was the only reason I stayed where I was instead of grabbing my keys, but the other Me left his seat to chase after her.
She started cackling as soon as he caught her, complaining that I was supposed to chase her.
When he returned, his arms were strapped across her shoulders and she’d lifted her knees to make it easier for him to carry her.
He complained, “It was only photographed for press releases before the Vatican hid it away again. You’re not allowed to rub it in that you own it.”
She giggled as he set her down. “Fair enough. Did you ever get a copy of Clarissa?”
He glanced at me before grinning. “Years ago. Sotheby’s.”
I could have been jealous that his search ended sooner than mine, but my acquisition was sweeter. Sookie’s presentation made up for the wait.
The other Me watched her stoop next to the desk to begin rifling through the bottom drawer… and Shy Sookie was still working at the other side with the copier and grimoire.
I joked, “Is there a way to avoid leaving the braid? Take a vacation in it? I could get used to having two Sookies.”
As My Sookie began stacking straps of hundreds on the desk, she giggled and Shy Sookie began glowing…
When Mine stood up, she fanned herself and breathed, “Now that that’s going to be in my head for a while…”
Both of me asked, “What?”
Shy Sookie covered her face and whimpered while mine answered, “Geese and ganders, Eric. I can’t think of a better sandwich recipe…”
Sookie with two Mes… as greedy as I was when it was just the two of us, I wasn’t sure she’d survive that.
She sighed, “Anyway… I’m thinking large amounts of cash might be an issue because of serial numbers. Don’t deposit this. Keep it at home and use a couple at a time. Sell the jewelry and deposit the proceeds of that because that cash won’t raise any flags… Okay?”
Shy Sookie shook her head. “I don’t need that. I don’t want your money.”
My Sookie took a deep breath and offered, “I can go about this several ways… A- I can remind you that I earned this with OUR ability and I know damn well you’d give another You the clothes off your back in my place. This is just the cash I keep as mad money and isn’t a fraction of what I actually make in one night. And the jewelry was thank you gifts from strangers…”
I agreed, “She gave more to Pastor Roper for the Christmas Fund, and notice you aren’t being given opals.”
My Sookie continued, “B- I could say ‘fuck your pride’ because Gran’s worked too hard to take care of you and Jason. She deserves to breathe after all these years. Pay off the house she mortgaged so she wouldn’t have to sell Daddy’s house out from under y’all. Kidnap her to tour Civil War battlegrounds. Buy her a car with air conditioning. Treat her like a Queen because she’s due…”
Shy Sookie nodded and choked, “Okay. That got me. You win.”
I complained, “You caved before I could suggest you might need a reminder of how much potential you have.”
My Sookie smiled and leaned over to give me a kiss. “And I didn’t have to say they might need cash to travel because they could reset weird either.”
Shy Sookie and Big Apple asked, “Weird?” at the same time.
My Sookie nodded. “One of y’all fell asleep on Hummingbird Lane, and the other was resting on Park Avenue… Y’all could go back to your starts, or both of y’all could go to the same place. I went from Hoshinoya to Bossier to Hoshinoya. Brandon went from Minden to Bon Temps, and reset to Bon Temps.”
I had to wonder if it would mean something if they reset together… if it would push the point that Sookie needed guidance and protection.
My Sookie itemized everything as she split the lot between two backpacks… cash, ruby and diamond jewelry to be sold later, discs containing biographies, braid diaries, and the contents of Linda’s deathbed journals…
That was when the other Me stopped her. “Gleanings?”
“My aunt can see into the past. I met her family in the braid and they had journals they’d talked her into keeping before she died. There’s very sensitive information in them about a lot of your friends. It seems like anything can trigger one of Aunt Linda’s visions… Brandon and I edited the Vampire info out of the version we passed around because of my position, but you’re getting the unabridged version…”
“What does that include?”
After a moment, she shrugged and offered, “Connelly was a Shifter…”
Big Apple actually gasped.
I offered, “Atum was my guess. Everyone’s pets always gravitate to him. Or Cornelius, but that’s because he’s a temperamental ass.”
Sookie argued, “I think animals like Atum just because he’s so gentle and chilled out… Connelly though, it made me wonder about his gift. Weres don’t need to be invited either… Atum was your ‘guess’? I thought you would’ve read the journals while I was out of town.”
I was busy breaking everything I touched.
“I didn’t know there was a homework assignment.”
She raised an eyebrow at me and shook her head. “Anyway… speaking of Connelly and his gift…” She took the handful of gris-gris bags from the desk and held them up before slipping them into the backpacks. “The recipe is in the grimoire. The ingredients are common. Rub one drop of blood on each bag and pin them to the wall inside of whatever room you want to protect. Tyson uses one pair on his resting place, and another on his office. He changes them on Wednesday, and he’s never had a problem. One of the ingredients is harder to get abroad. Gumballs…”
Shy Sookie giggled, “At least there’s a purpose for those damn things. The lawnmower spit one out against my leg this summer. Felt like a snake-bite.”
I could imagine…
I offered, “Hitting the ward is like being smacked with a plank of wood. It’s not as forgiving as an uninvited threshold.”
He gave My Sookie an impressed look. “Really? How long have you been practicing?”
She specified, “Private practice. I’ve been sharing recipes with friends for six years now. Everywhere I go, I look in on the local covens to appraise threats and whatnot. Everybody has a secret recipe or a favorite trick, pardon the pun… but there’s no such thing as a secret to a telepath. I have a ward against ill-will here, and one that can be used on a box- anything from a cage to an apartment. They’ve got extra ingredients, but anyone can cast them. Oh, and there’s a variation you can use for pets in there too, like wireless fencing without the shock.”
“Not completely. You can hardly call relaxing massage oil defensive… benevolent magic…”
“The oil includes the remains of murdered Faeries…”
She snickered and reached for the pumper bottle of oil she’d filled for him…
I watched him sample the air as she squirted a small amount of oil onto her hand and made her way towards him.
He guessed, “Neroli, ylang ylang, agrimony…”
Sookie added, “Brewed in hyacinth oil by the sun… I suggest you find a supply of Faerie dust before you share the recipe with the boys. If I can sense them even when they’re using their gifts, a full-Faerie probably can too. I wouldn’t want them to go hunting for Faeries and get hurt…”
He was giving her a skeptical look when she stopped in front of him. She held her hands up as though she was giving him the chance to tell her to fuck off, but he slipped his shirt over his head… and as soon as her hands touched his shoulders, he groaned and let his eyes roll back.
She giggled, “Thomas John doesn’t get the recipe unless he saves your life. I have a grudge against him and all twenty of his hands.”
He moaned, “Noted. Fuck Thomas John.”
“Riiiight… anyway, I mentioned Tyson’s use of the wards because he called me to tell me he was being sued because of them. While I was working in London a couple of years ago, we went to Edinburgh and he warded his suite there… he didn’t take them down when we left and a burglar shattered his shoulder trying to get into the room. That was back in September, two years later. Tyson won the lawsuit, but he was pushing for me to patent the recipe…”
I chuckled, “Like you need the money.”
She giggled as she agreed and tried to back away from Big Apple, but he grabbed her hips to hold her still. “Just another minute.”
While My Sookie humored him, Shy Sookie asked, “Does it only work on Vampires?”
In an effort to avoid being jealous (and probably because I wanted to see Sookie’s treasure trove more than I wanted a backrub) I left my seat and took the bottle with me.
She backed away from me and shook her head. “I wasn’t fishing… I was just…”
She was just… terrified.
“Just give me your hand. I won’t harm you.”
My Sookie sighed, “It’s not you, Eric. She isn’t used to touching anyone…” Hence the virginity. “She pretty much hasn’t touched anyone willingly since Aunt Linda died.”
“And she doesn’t remember how soundly she was sleeping with me? I’m hurt.”
She giggled, “I’m sorry, I’m just…” She held her hand out to me, and it seemed naked without Mine’s tattoo. “I’m not used to not getting bombarded.” As soon as I pushed my thumbs over her palm, her eyes rolled back and she sighed, “Sweet… baby… Jesus…”
Big Apple offered, “He said the bath salt was better.”
I corrected, “I said more potent. It’s incredible, but my masseuse is an artist…”
My Sookie offered, “Speaking of Zee…”
“I wasn’t talking about Zee.”
She scoffed, “I know that, jackass. I was changing the subject so I don’t spend any amount of time thinking about what would come of a backrub right now…”
Shy Sookie snickered, “Too late.”
My Sookie groaned, “I know…” She was quiet for a moment before she growled, “Shit. Still thinking about it… Okay, peripheral information that might not be on the discs… anyone?”
Atum immediately said, “Shawn. Klaasje.”
I offered, “Shawn’s definitely on the discs, but there’s no guarantees for him. The Louisiana regime is completely different. Leland could have settled anywhere…”
Big Apple offered, “I’ll look into it, but any Sheriff worth his salt would have executed both of them.”
Worth my salt?
“I would have too if it weren’t for the fact that Shawn had proven he wasn’t a risk before I discovered him… It would be a shame if he didn’t make it. His only impairment is his attachment to his family. Once his children leave the nest, his possibilities are endless.”
Atum agreed, “Is good Vampire. I would foster.”
Big Apple took a deep breath and sighed, “That’s more than enough for me. I’ll track them down and make sure Shawn’s taken care of.”
My Sookie sighed, “I can’t imagine how miserable he’d be… after four years with Leland.”
I offered, “I lasted much longer with my Maker. Try not to think about it,” as Shy Sookie stepped back to lean against the bookcase and close her eyes. “Klaasje might be just as difficult to help.”
My Sookie stopped rubbing Big Apple’s shoulders so he’d look at her. “Halfdan’s child. Klaasje Van Baaren is one of the gentlest creatures I’ve ever come across. If you can think of a way to help her get away from that prick Maker of hers, please do. Wouter will help. He’s loved her since she was alive.”
He nodded and agreed to do what he could, but she knew that unless Klaasje had been released to Teague or Maximo, there wasn’t much he could do in his position.
Atum shook his head and left the chaise, demanding, “Camera,” so Sookie called after him to let him know they’d left it in the den.
He was stomping.
Atum didn’t stomp.
Both Sookies cringed tensely while they waited to find out why he needed a camera.
I could hear him briefly explain the setup of the braid in Arabic as he made his way back towards us, and then explain as though he was talking to himself that Klaasje was indeed salvageable even at her age.
Just as he stepped into the office again, he offered, “Father would not have wanted war, but he would have ended Halfdan himself if he knew how he treated his child. If he released her, take her to your side. If he has not or refuses, end him. I would do that if Sookie’s family wasn’t caring for her…” He turned the camera around to pan the room to show two of me and demanded in English, “Move… over here. Proof is not trick of camera.”
Once Shy Sookie and I did as ordered, he zoomed in on both Sookies faces and cursed that the camera wouldn’t focus on their eyes well enough to prove they had identical irises.
Shy Sookie nibbled her lip and asked, “Fingerprints? If you film us…”
My Sookie continued the idea on her way behind her desk, “Yeah-yeah-yeah… We can fingerprint a page and, Atum, you can sign it. If you want Eric to deliver the tape to his You then he can give him the fingerprints too. It might be good enough since You won’t remember filming yourself, right?”
Atum beamed at her. “Is reason I love you. Clever girl. Thank you!”
While My Sookie removed an ink cartridge for a fountain pen from the drawer, Shy Sookie slipped into the office’s bathroom, quickly returning with a damp washrag… and while My Sookie opened the cartridge, Shy Sookie removed a piece of paper from the copier…
Like they were synchronized.
Once we’d all left a fingerprint, Atum folded the paper and shoved it into the black leather backpack with the tape. “Is done. You will deliver tape. Other Me will care for Klaasje. Father would have wanted it.”
While My Sookie kissed Atum’s cheek, Big Apple nodded. “I’ll start calling friends to find You as soon as I’m home.”
Atum returned Sookie’s kiss, and started for the door. “I will walk with cats. Call me if there is need.”
The other Me was just as gobsmacked as I was, but all four of us were left watching the door to the office while we listened to the cats chase Atum through the house for their nightly exploring.
I had just been waiting for him to be out of earshot…
I whispered against Sookie’s ear, “Was he lingering just to be sure something was done for Klaasje?”
She nodded slowly. “I think he was. He’s feeling very finished right now… It makes sense. He spent a lot of time with her while I was out of town… and he did his homework.”
So he knew what Halfdan had done to Klaasje.
The other Me asked, “The journals from Linda, they provide extra details about Klaasje’s situation, yes?”
My Sookie nodded. “There’s so much in those journals… There’s a passage in there about Eric and Sookie that was written before they met…”
“How the fuck did she die before anyone realized she had an ability?”
“She has an incredible imagination and her entertainment of choice is Shakespeare. Even when she watches new movies, she picks out Shakespearean plots… When she was dreaming of Vampires when they were alive, she assumed they were just dreams inspired by something else she experienced… Um… there’s a version where an Eric mentioned hunting with his brothers, and she ‘imagined’ that they were calling him Minsting. Others knew all along that her lovers, whether it was Trey or Jax, were Werewolves… She just didn’t know what it was, and I couldn’t even tell the difference because she thinks and dreams in high-contrast Technicolor. Now that I know, the difference is situation. Her imagination is focused on one thing, but her ability puts her mind in what she’s seeing so it’s 360 degrees, for the most part.”
Shy Sookie added, “And my Daddy was a harbinger. He could feel when something was going to happen… and that kind of explains all the extra time and hugs we got right before he died.”
“What about your grandmother then?”
My Sookie shook her head. “It’s not Gran. She’s incredibly tolerant, but she’s just a very open-minded Human. The Fae came into the family tree on Granpa’s side, and we have contrary evidence about whether he knew what he was or not.”
“How is that?”
“There was another version of Eric who stumbled over the Stackhouses years ago. He was still pretending to be Human and Sookie didn’t want to tell him she could read minds because she liked him too much to scare him away. They were in a Supernatural standoff for a few nights before they sat down and had a talk. By the end of said talk, Aunt Linda’s extreme reaction to citric acid came out, and the fact that her father used to tell Faerie tales about actual Faeries… It just so happened that one of the Faeries her father mentioned was the only one Eric had any kind of knowledge of… So he tries to get info and they get a letter from Niall Brigant, who is somehow my great-grandfather, acknowledging our branch of the family tree, explaining that Grandpa didn’t lie about what he was, and that he couldn’t risk contacting us in person. That was the version Brandon visited, and apparently Niall finally did show up, but he refused to discuss how it was that his son knew Faerie tales but didn’t know what he was.”
“Typical Brigant.” Both of Me had spoken at the same time.
My Sookie nodded. “Right… to be fair, I might have been able to find out earlier because I had a couple of Faeries approach me, but I was avoiding them like a plague. On top of the fact that I trust Wallace completely and he explained how much trouble we usually are, I was also afraid to find out if my mother cheated on my father with a Faerie. Until I was in the braid, I thought I was the only member of the family with an ability… well, other than Ari, but by the time she was born, Eric had confirmed that Jason and Hadley taste Faelicious too.”
Shy Sookie sighed, “I would have killed for that tidbit. I think it was worse knowing the Blanchards never did anything for me or Jason, so…”
Big Apple offered, “You felt a bit like a changeling.”
She nodded. “That’s a good way to put it- well, wait…” She giggled, “Keep in mind that I’m relying on Lovecraft and Yeats for my ideas of changelings. I’m picturing something like an elf replacing a Human baby.”
He snorted, “Fair enough. At least you read… So Shawn, Klaasje, homework… and we’ll need to find a masseuse as soon as we return… Is that it?”
Shy Sookie added, “And I need to get in touch with Hadley to find out if she had a baby and gave it up. She ended up being a pet in New Orleans, so… I think my boss’s daughter might be my cousin.”
He shook his head slightly. “Do I want to know what comes of a Shifter breeding with a Faerie?”
My Sookie answered, “A Shifter you don’t want to fuck with because it bleeds Were and fights like Fae…” She might as well have dropped a bomb. “But since you’re dealing with a Shifter and a hybrid, the baby will probably shift and have an extra ability. The extras peter out over generations.”
“You know this, how?”
“Gawain is well-versed. The Fae started mixing with other breeds to negate their fertility issues and weakness to iron. Late Bronze-Early Iron Age. Were plus Fae equals Shifter, and a first-generation Shifter is a powerful motherfucker.”
I added, “Second-generation Shifters aren’t a joke either. I’ve witnessed one shift between familiars and still have stamina to spare.”
My Sookie continued, “And Faeries and Humans produce beautiful children who are frighteningly strong, have abilities, and some resilience to iron and citrus… but they bleed Fae, so they aren’t as safe on a battlefield if they’re wounded.”
Big Apple scoffed, “Gawain never bothered to mention that to me.”
“You aren’t a hybrid, and by the time you came along the Fae played in Were gene-pools until Shifters were the majority. If my timeline is right, the clans had started killing each other off long before you met him. In Gawain’s day, you could throw a rock and hit a Faerie. They’re a dying breed now. Civil wars do that.”
“He knows, but he’d have the same reason not to mention it. Hell, he’s got a better reason since he’s so quiet. Gawain blabbers like a drunk lunatic.”
“So he shared that information with you because you’re a hybrid?”
“More or less.”
“That was loaded.”
She began slipping the last of the items on the desk into their backpacks and snickered, “The good news is that your Sookie hasn’t honed her skill of giving half-answers yet… There’s information you need to know, like that you can’t just lie down in a field and die for the day… and there’s information that you could probably go the rest of your life and never need, like the fact that I’m an excellent cook.”
Big Apple had watched her work and asked, “Anxious to get rid of us?” She’d just stowed her printer and laptop in a cabinet, returning her office to the more classic look.
“Well, on top of the fact that I prefer the library feeling that the tech kills, I have plans for My Eric-”
“What kind of plans?”
“Debauched lascivious plans… Do you want me to draw diagrams?”
Shy Sookie slapped her hands over her eyes and mewled, “You’re shameless.”
My Sookie snickered, “There’s no shame in having fun as long as nobody gets hurt… in a bad way.”
Shy Sookie was beginning to turn beet red again and whined, “Stop ittttttttt… Ew no… stooooooooop.”
My Sookie snickered, “For God sakes… Just in case…” She turned her attention to the other Me and explained in German, “Don’t play blood games with a hybrid during sex unless you’re in a lightproof location. Eric and I didn’t fall apart until after noon today…”
He blurted, “NOON!? Define blood games!”
“Little exchanges. A few drops of blood from each party mingling… It’ll keep you going for a while, but it won’t keep you alive all day… and if we sunbathe, you can get stoned on the scent. We absorb sunlight. Wallace Milne hasn’t ever been… Hang on…”
She left the room and returned a moment later with a towel in her hand…
She stopped next to him, but before she could say anything he’d buried his nose against her neck and started backing her against the wall.
I complained, “Not fucking fair.”
“I have more for later. I wouldn’t use the only one on a demo.”
At least there was that.
He groaned, “Unfuckingbelievable,” into her hair, and even though his arms were wrapped around her, she was completely calm.
While Shy Sookie looked on, My Sookie explained, “This is completely harmless. Sunshine induces more of a happy buzz than an aphrodisiacal… Check out his mind. It’s like staring into a bright light and almost completely still…” She held the towel out to Shy Sookie. “Try it. He won’t hurt you.”
Said the trained Vampire handler.
Shy Sookie stared at the towel for a moment before asking, “Do I just… rub it against me?”
“Take your sweater off so it’s not in the way, yeah. Neck, face, chest… thighs if you’re feeling naughty…”
She whimpered as she caved to peer pressure, dropping her sweater onto the chaise and rubbing her neck and shoulders with the towel, sending wafts of sunshine into the office…
Making me anxious for Mine to be released so I could have a turn.
While Shy Sookie was working up the nerve to approach the aggressive cuddling, My Sookie explained, “There’s a few of these guys who are unimpressed by the scent, but the first time I came home from the beach while I was living with Wallace, he… well, it was pretty awkward and he apologized all over himself. They just haven’t smelled this since they were alive, not as concentrated as this. Just little hints from time to time, teases that just remind them what it is.”
Shy Sookie made a few timid steps towards them and whimpered, “I don’t smell anything. I didn’t know sunshine has a smell.”
Big Apple growled, “It’s just beyond your senses… It’s incredible… If you don’t want to read minds professionally, you could just snuggle Vampires.”
My Sookie giggled at him and took Shy’s hand to lead her closer. “See what I mean by ‘buzz’. He’s not making a lot of sense.”
As Sookie tried to inch out of his arms, he whimpered, “No no no… Whatever you make as a telepath, I’ll top it. All you have to do is sunbathe and then leave your scent on my clothes.”
I actually chuckled at him. “Ten million per month?”
He growled, “Worth it”, and reached out for Shy to pull her between him and the wall… he was hogging all the Sookies and they were both giggling at him.
My Sookie argued, “New York’s a little chilly this time of year.”
He argued, “We can move to my property in Cuba,” as though he could take Mine with him.
My Sookie pinched his side and giggled, “You’re being greedy. I have a knee and I know how to use it. Cut me loose.”
He whimpered again when he released her and she snickered as she walked towards me, taking the towel from the chaise to recharge her scent, including her hair… but she balked…
She took the backpacks from the desk and slipped them over Big Apple’s arm before finally giving me my turn.
She offered, “Just in case,” but I was already getting lost. “Not that it matters folks, but a honey and milk bath is a popular favorite… and sweets and booze on our breath aren’t a turn off because our chemistry keeps them from becoming an issue… Eric had a sweet tooth while he was alive.”
The concept of how much intimate information she had about me because of the braid was too much to think about, especially when I wasn’t even aware of some of it… the state I was in… not an aphrodisiac, my dead ass.
Shy asked, “Not that I’m complaining… but… is there an off switch? I mean…”
Sookie explained, “It passes on its own. Scent transfer. His scent will replace the sunshine. If there’s an emergency, fight or flight will kick in… But if you’re interrupted prematurely for something stupid, he’ll be a complete twat for a little while until he comes down… Oh- don’t pull his hair.”
Both of us chuckled, “I don’t mind.”
My Sookie laughed, “Gears will change… liberties will be taken…”
I nipped her collarbone and growled, “You say that like being pinned to a wall by a stranger is common.”
She lifted her legs to wrap them around my waist and giggled, “Being pinned by you can’t happen often enough as far as I’m concerned…” As soon as I sat on her desk chair, she shifted to rub against me. “How you doing over there, Big Apple?”
He glanced in our direction and gave a dopey grin before lifting Shy to take her to the chaise… He’d been inspired, but he didn’t just sit on the edge, he lounged back…
My Sookie sighed, “Ignore it, Sookie. He’s just getting comfortable… Relax. He won’t push you…” She switched to German, “Eric, let the virgin move a little. Your cock is scaring the poor thing.”
Both of me chuckled, and I swatted Mine’s ass. “Be nice to her.”
“I’m not being mean. She’s not used to it like I am. I understand that she’s bashful. It’s not like she’s ever had the cock of a completely gay man digging into her hip.”
Shy asked, “This one’s gay?”
The rest of us answered, “No,” and My Sookie continued, “I meant because full mast is the normal reaction. Wallace has officially been gay since his Maker told him he could fuck whoever he wanted and that was over 800 years ago. Sunshine does the same thing to him. If you want a demonstration to prove Big Apple isn’t spun up, I’ll toy with My Eric so you can compare minds.”
I chuckled, “Do I get any say in the matter?”
She shifted her hips to rub against my cock again and breathed, “Of course.”
Shy mewled, “Ummm, as long as he doesn’t mind… Just… I guess I need to start practicing somewhere.”
My Sookie’s eyebrow twitched as she cooed, “Do you mind being my toy… in the name of science?”
That sounded like more of an invitation than a request…
I growled against her neck, “How can I be sure you’re My Sookie?” and began nipping, stealing little tastes of sunlight…
She laced her fingers into my hair and sighed, “If the fresh-from-the-Caribbean tan and tattoos aren’t enough…” She began switching from one language to the next, starting with French, “I have your marking on my thigh…” Spanish, “The way you growl my name makes me wet…” German, “I want you to teach me Old Norse so I know what you’re saying when you cum…” Mandarin, “You are the person who understands me better than anyone…” Arabic, “You are my best friend…” Old Welsh, “The only one I trust to see the real me because you know all my secrets and love me anyway…” Italian, “Don’t tease me, Eric. If I’m not Yours, I’m nothing.”
If the taste of her skin hadn’t had the desired effect telepathically, her evidence would have…
She pulled her hair over her shoulder to give me fresh real estate to enjoy while she began chewing my neck, pulsing her tongue and raking her teeth until I growled her name without thinking about it.
Being her toy was not an imposition… keeping our clothing on for the sake of our bashful company was the imposition…
Shy Sookie finally cleared her throat and whimpered, “Um… I can tell the difference, but… um… y’all…”
My Sookie continued to work my neck as she explained, “If I said all that in English, you’d be embarrassed, sweetie. Don’t worry about it.”
“Um… but… Big Apple… You got him too. Not… not the same, but his mind still… Yeah, it’s different.”
I looked past Sookie’s hair and he was already staring back at us… and if he’d just been turned on by hearing the more lusty portions of My Sookie’s multilingual confession, his fangs would have made a showing…
I offered, “She meant every word of it. Yours needs patience and guidance, but she’s worth the time. She’s had potential since she was a child.”
He actually blinked, and My Sookie turned back to add, “She’ll be skeptical, but she’s been shit on and ostracized so much that she’s more cynical than I am. Life’s given her so many thorns, she doesn’t trust the beauty of roses.”
The thorns reminded me…
I started, “On that note…”
My Sookie whipped her head around and scoffed, “Really!?”
I sighed, “If you know what I’m thinking about, then you know ‘it’ bothers me.”
“And you want to hear it from the horse’s mouth.”
“The other side of the coin, yes. Can you blame me?”
She frowned. “Only because I know it’ll still nag at you…” She turned to face Shy Sookie. “Big Apple was feeling surprise and curiosity when you asked. The surprise was the sizzle and the curiosity was the forward presence that came my way…”
Shy nodded. “Okay. I get that… Yours is curious now too, but what’s that… that… it’s like he’s in a press.”
“Like he’s weighted down, and darker, right? That’s guilt.”
Fuck. Hearing it described made it seem even worse.
Shy Sookie asked, “Why does he feel guilty?”
“Because he glamoured my family to forget what Bartlett did and then killed him so he couldn’t molest me again…”
Shy Sookie’s eyes welled and she choked, “So you didn’t have to hear…” She stopped and the other Me released her so she could sit up and clear her throat. “Here I was, thinking you were lucky to get some encouragement. You hit the lotto.”
My Sookie sighed, “I know… but Eric’s hung up on the fact that because what happened was off the record, Gran didn’t take me to a doctor. Bartlett gave me an STD that developed into PID. An abscess ruptured and I needed an emergency hysterectomy.”
Shy was still weepy, but she shook her head. “And?” After a moment she breathed, “Ohhhhhh… Is it weird for a Vampire to be hung up on that?”
My Sookie nodded. “Maybe a little… He needs to hear you say it, but if it makes you feel better, he’ll probably ask a dozen more Sookies before he gets it through his thick skull. I think he’s the only person on the planet as stubborn as me.”
Shy Sookie almost grinned and shook her head. “I like kids, but… even if I ever thought about being a mom… really, you don’t… Months. Bartlett only got to me a few times, but… Everyone kept imagining it over and over… Gran and Aunt Linda… it’s all they thought about when I was around… Even now Gran will think about it from time to time… I would have given anything to make it stop. I wanted to die…”
While Shy covered her face and tried to collect herself, Mine turned back to me and whispered, “Dear God, please make it stop. Just make it stop. Please, please, please… and then there was a knock on the door… and one mind at a time… it stopped.”
No melancholy. No remorse. None.
Nothing but gratitude.
I whispered, “You proved your point.”
“Don’t keep doing this to yourself, Eric. How many Sookies do you need to hear it from?”
As it turned out, just Mine.
As cliché as it might have been, I felt like a weight had been lifted.