Like A Rock
The Greatest Game Ever Played
The only Vampires I could think of who were dumb enough to look for me were, likewise, too stupid to have found me. Pam was the only one who knew where I was, but she felt as though she was happily situated between the thighs of a beautiful brunette (or two). She clearly hadn’t been harmed to divulge my location.
Thanks to the driving rain, I couldn’t hear the Vampires’ voices, but I also couldn’t hear well enough to know if Adele was asleep at the other end of the house or if she was likely to emerge from her room assuming the knock had been Trey.
“Go to the book room. Unscrew the handle from the plunger to use as a stake and stay there until I come for you. I will not just call for you. Go.”
I kissed the top of Sookie’s head as I left the sofa and went to the kitchen, going over the bar to avoid being seen, to rummage while Sookie and the boys hid.
Their rolling pin was marble. Their kabob skewers were metal… Most of their utensils were plastic…
Three surprise visitors… and I was armed with a spatula with a wooden handle and a nine-inch carving knife.
I moved through the dining room, lurking around the corner, hoping one of the visitors would make some sort of noise with no luck.
The only noise to be heard over the fucking rain was the nervous breathing of the family hiding from Vampires who were looking for me.
I stepped around the corner and a familiar face smiled back and blurted, “We’re here to kidnap you.”
Edward, Richard and Connelly.
“Retard! You should have given your name to the boy.” I could have come around the corner quickly enough to stake him.
And of course Pam hadn’t needed to be harmed… She volunteered my whereabouts because they were friends.
I left them standing on the porch, ordering them to behave on my way to spare Sookie from the anxiety of not knowing what the fuck was happening.
She jumped when I opened the door, giving me a nervous look until I offered, “Friends.”
“Your friends? Here?”
“I’m sorry. I don’t know why they’re here… As soon as I realized it was just them, I came back. I didn’t want you to worry.”
She slapped my shoulder and leaned against my chest. “That scared the crap out of me.”
“You’ve learned a valuable lesson. I’m the ‘better safe than sorry’ type.”
As Sookie and I entered the foyer, I asked Edward, “And why are you kidnapping me?”
Edward explained, “The World Series. We have tickets and we lost Gawain, Bronya and Simza. Those twats were bored, so they hijacked our charter. Glamoured the pilot to land in Shreveport instead of Miami, they did. Should’ve known better than to expect those Euro-brats to appreciate the sport. We’ve been ditched for Pam.”
Happy birthday to her.
“I can’t blame them… Sookie these are my friends, even if I don’t always remember why… Connelly, Edward and Richard. Edward and Richard are such devout Yankees fans they’re responsible for the ‘Curse of the Bambino’… Connelly enjoys any situation he can bet on, which is why he owns half of the horses in Upstate New York… Gentlemen, I’m not leaving my Area for a baseball game.”
Richard snorted, “No one’s asking you to. This isn’t just baseball. It’s the World Fucking Series.”
From just behind me, Hunter gasped, “He cussed,” probably thrown off by the fact that Richard didn’t look old enough to drive.
I chuckled as I lifted him and explained, “He’s a New Yorker. They don’t have any manners… Invite Edward and Richard in.”
I shook my head and Connelly winked as he stepped over the threshold.
“Connelly doesn’t need an invitation.”
“He coulda shased Cort!”
I nodded, “Cort’s lucky Connelly’s a friend. His gift is much less common than mine.”
He was quiet for a moment before he proposed, “If a Vampire’s hidin’ with’a family, in’a Human’s house, Connelly can still go affer ‘em. He enforced like you.”
My friends chuckled and Edward agreed, “Clever one, you are. How about that invitation?”
“D’you have’a cool ‘bility like Eric an’ Conn’ly?”
Not one he could demonstrate.
Richard chuckled when Edward’s face puckered, “Being beautiful isn’t enough?”
Hunter chuckled, “Juss ‘cuz I feel sorry for ya, Edward and Risshard, c’mon in.”
When Richard stepped in, he reached up to put a cap on my head, so I rolled my eyes and gave it to Hunter. A black Yankees cap. Really?
I led the group to the kitchen and asked, “Even if I went, I’d cheer for the other team.”
Richard argued, “Do you know what a sin it is to let box seats at the Series go to waste?”
“I think I missed that part of the Bible.”
Connelly eyed Sookie and crooned, “What about you, Love? Baseball fan?”
She whimpered, “If I didn’t have so much going on right now… You have no idea. Braves fans in this house. Big ones.”
Edward’s eyes lit up. “Yeah? Perfect, that is! Eric, be a hero. Take the lads to a World Series!”
AssHOLE! Hunter and Cort’s faces lit up.
“They’re too small to be left unattended during the day.”
“It’s Miami. We take them to games, arcades, beaches. They’ll sleep all day while we’re dead if we keep them up. If I remember correctly, you did the same with us.”
Connelly added, “The tickets will be used and Pam will probably never realize you’re gone. We’ll have no problem finding takers for the tickets to New York games.”
“Right. And who runs my Area while Pam and Gawain fffff… While they’re together?” The boys giggled because they’d already caught on.
Hunter began squirming to get out of my arms so I set him down. “Y’all talk. I’ma pack!” Cort was right behind him.
They were speeding down the hall when Sookie squeezed her eyes shut and took the spatula from the counter to hold it out for me… I couldn’t tell if she was joking about wanting me to stake Edward, but I was tempted.
Richard moved to put his arm around Sookie’s shoulders and whispered, “Don’t worry, Sookie… Your boys couldn’t be safer with Eric. Brother and I were wee lads when he took quite good care of us.”
“Did you miss school? Cort would miss school.”
“The boy was smart enough to run from a porch full of Vampires. Common sense will serve him more than a formal education. We were spoiled little assholes too…”
I interrupted, “Are, not past tense. You’re still spoiled little assholes. Case in point, chartering a jet for baseball.”
He continued as though I hadn’t spoken. “We’ll leave tonight and return after the game on Thursday, IF the Yankees don’t put the Marlins out of their misery sooner and your Cort will have an extra-credit report prepared on the history of the greatest sport ever played. His sources will be two Vampires who’ve enjoyed the game since we still called it rounders.”
She snorted out a laugh. “Y’all haven’t even asked Eric if he wants to go, let alone if he wants to chase two very precocious little boys around Miami. Convince Eric. Convincing me is his job.”
Not the reaction I was expecting.
It didn’t even seem like it crossed her mind that someone was proposing she send her children on a Vampire holiday.
Three strange Vampires and one she’d only known for a few nights.
I took her hand, leading her to the garage and I didn’t realize I was growling until I heard it echo through the cavernous space.
Sookie’s hand followed my arm up to my shoulder and to my neck so she could find my ear to whisper, “Disney princesses, dragon-slaying Knights, and the inventers of Baseball, huh?”
“They didn’t invent it. I’ll go as far as giving them credit for planting the seed. They played rounders as boys and started teaching neighborhood children how to play with them when they lived in Boston, then New York.”
She giggled, “That’s still crazy… What do you want me to do? Should I pitch a fit and say I won’t let you take them? Use school as an excuse?”
“Well… I don’t know how to be a pet. You said that’s what I am to other Vampires. You’re on your own for coming up with a reason to not go…. Wait, I could call Gus and tell him to come ‘arrest’ you.”
I chuckled, “I’ll just tell them ‘no’. I have responsibilities. I’m not a baseball fan either.”
“K. Why are we in here then? Is this an excuse to reach through the bars? If you don’t want to go, I should go stop the boys.”
I slid my hands down to cup her ass. “That’s why we’re in the garage. Why doesn’t the idea of sending your children to Florida with me bother you?”
“It does… I’d love to work on my tan by day and go to the Series by night. I’m gonna be a green-eyed bitch.”
I chuckled, “You know what I mean.”
She shrugged. “You want me to be bothered when you haven’t been uninvited and still knock?”
“I almost didn’t knock tonight. When I heard Lillian crying, I thought something happened to Hunter.”
“The guy who likes playing board games with little kids?”
“Your aunt was brilliant. The fine art flash cards were inspired. They don’t even realize it’s educational.”
“The guy who saved a baby tonight?”
“I didn’t do that. I just connected the individuals who could.”
“The guy who improvised with a spatula and a knife when he thought we were in danger?”
“I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
“Which is why I know the boys would be safe with you. You wouldn’t have had Hunter invite them in if they were any kind of threat…”
“I don’t like baseball.”
“You’d be home for Pam’s birthday. You’d be home for the conference. You wouldn’t even miss a Sunday supper. You might actually have fun.”
“He’s never sick and he isn’t struggling with his lessons. He can afford to miss a few days for something like a World Series.”
“They wouldn’t sleep for the entire day. They would be unsupervised for at least a few hours.”
“If you keep them up late, they’ll sleep for most of it… and if you lay out finite rules for them, they’ll behave. Plus, I have every intention of giving them a cell phone so I can monitor them, babysit by phone… Ummm, you might want to tell the guys to behave though… since I can’t be glamoured…”
I finished, “Cort might not be able to be. I’ll have to approach that topic carefully… Someone will think I’ve abducted them.”
“If the power comes back on, so we have lights, I can use your phone to record a short video of me giving you permission. I’ll use the computer at work to print out a copy of the Power Of Attorney Jas and Brandon keep copies of, just in case. Besides the boys are old enough to say you’re their mother’s… eh, I’ll leave it up to you, but a worried Human would probably rather hear a kid say you’re their mom’s boyfriend than her Master.”
“Noted… I’m taking your children out of the state.”
“Lucky. Little. Turds. I wanna see a World Series game. They get to see three.”
“If I thought Connelly would keep his hands to himself, I’d send you instead.”
“Connelly? Richard’s the one who touched me.”
“The same way he touches his Maker when he’s trying to sweet-talk her… Connelly was eye-fucking you.”
She giggled, “As dark as it is, I didn’t even notice… They’re taking you away from me. I thought we were going to your house tonight.”
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
“We’ll be back on Thursday. Plan a ‘date’ for us on Friday. The whole night.”
She tightened her arms around me. “Hmmmm. My consolation prize, huh?”
I thought it was mine.
“If that’s your consolation prize, then what will mine be?”
Her eyes rolled up even though she couldn’t see anything. She’d been inadvertently talking to my nose. “Ummmm, how about, for every run the Yankees score, you get two minutes… It’ll soften the blow when your friends cheer because they’ll be celebrating your secret victory.” Brilliant.
I chuckled, “You might turn me into a baseball fan.”
“It’s a shame the season’s almost over… Do you want to kiss me goodbye now while your friends can’t see?”
No. I didn’t want a goodbye kiss at all. I didn’t want to leave.
“You have no idea how much I’d rather stay here.”
Just when she smiled and stretched up to kiss me, there was a loud thud inside the house… followed by a pained scream.
I darted through the kitchen, hardly glancing at my friends, but they were trading confused looks.
It might have taken five seconds for me to reach him, but Cort was on the floor just inside his bedroom. His hands were covering his face… blood was pouring from an obscured wound and had already reached his elbows…
I could hear Sookie stumbling towards us in the dark and Hunter came from the bathroom.
Even though Cort was covered in his own blood, he was only wincing and grunting after the initial shock.
I knelt next to him and asked, “What happened?” as I reached for his hands.
He let me pull his hands away and I watched gush after gush flow from a deep gash in his eyebrow.
“Tha door. Stupid blackout. Stupid doorjamb… How bad is it?”
Not good. I was surprised he didn’t knock himself out.
Sookie made her way to the room, candle in hand, but still struggling to see until she joined us on the floor.
She gasped, “Dear God! That’s going to need stitches!”
He growled, “Get tha sewin’ kit! I don’t have time fer tha ER! I gotta plane ta catch.”
Sookie winced and shook her head. “No baby, this is bad. If you don’t get stitches, you’re gonna have a scar.”
“Tha’s what ya said last time an’ I still gotta scar! I’m not missin’ tha plane, woman!”
Edward chuckled in the kitchen, “Trooper, that one.”
Part of me wanted to laugh.
He grimaced at his bloodstained hands and pouted, “Tha ER took forever last time. I’ma miss it.”
I asked the peanut gallery, “When do we take off?”
“We were planning to take off as soon as you can pack a bag, but we can hold off until… one-ish.”
Cort shook his head. “Tha storm… ERs are gonna be packed.”
Cort getting stitches would have been a perfect excuse to stay home… but the boy was absolutely devastated.
I let my fangs down and pricked my finger… and swiped a dab of my blood over his wound.
I had the perfect fucking excuse to stay, and I didn’t use it.
Sookie grabbed Cort’s head while the wound was still healing, watching the gash close by itself… she licked her thumb to smudge the blood away and gasped…
I took the candle and helped Cort from the floor to lead him to the bathroom. I set the candle on the counter and explained, “Take a shower so I’m not arrested for torturing you before we can board the plane.”
He looked at himself in the mirror, seeing how much he’d bled and leaning closer to wiggle his eyebrows.
“All gone. It isn’t even sore… Tha’s what helped Nat?”
“It made her stronger because it was administered orally. That just healed your wound. You won’t have any side-effects like shifting, night-vision or flying.”
He snorted, “Oh, thank God for that.”
I chuckled at the sarcastic little asshole and left him to bathe. “When you’re done, slide your hand along the wall as your guide and don’t run. There’s no rush. We won’t leave without you.”
Sookie was still on her knees where we left her, and as soon as I took her hand to help her to her feet, she crashed against my chest… hugging me without using her bloody hands. Again, not the reaction I was expecting. I would have thought she’d at least be bothered that I didn’t ask first. Something.
But she was silently thanking me for sparing Cort from a few stitches.
While I was at my house, packing a small bag with jeans and T-shirts, the power was restored…
And when I returned to Sookie’s house, everyone was still sitting in the darkened kitchen. The only light came from the overhead in the den.
All six of them were sitting on the counters, staring at me.
Cort raised his eyebrow at me and snorted, “You said ‘enforcer’.”
“I knew I shouldn’t have left those histrionic assholes alone with you. The title just makes the job sound more dazzling than it is. It’s no different from being a Sheriff… Except now my boss is much more annoying.”
He argued, “But a Knight?”
I shrugged. “I executed those I was sent to execute. I controlled those I was sent to control… I babysat yammering little royal pains in the ass…”
Richard chuckled, “Don’t lie. You love us.”
Connelly added, “And you were vetted by every King in Europe. Lads, you should see him swing a sword. It’s so beautiful, you’ll weep like you’re in the presence of God…”
Those assholes could and would go on all night.
I argued, “The connotation of ‘Knight’ implies suits of armor I never wore and dragons I never rode… I’m willing to concede to Edward and Richard being called ‘damsels in distress’ though…” In an effort to change the subject, I asked, “Sookie, do you have a camera?”
She nodded. “Digital. Cort has it in his bag with a pack of batteries and a huge memory card… and I used Edward’s phone to make that video to hold you over until I can send the POA.”
“Something to do on the plane? Napping isn’t an option.”
Hunter nodded and pointed to his backpack. “Got books an’ Mommy packed snacks too.”
Cort added, “We got our walkies an’ mad money fer souvenirs an’ a cell phone so we can call Mommy when we get up to check in.”
“Walkie-talkies. Got ‘em for Splash Kingdom so we don’ get sep’rated.”
Sookie offered, “They have a one-mile range, so you should be all set.”
Funny coincidence. My house was less than a mile away from hers… Something to play with once I returned from Miami.
I asked Cort, “Are you accident prone and a wanderer?”
He giggled, “No. Mommy’s a worry wart.”
“Fifty thousand people in one place…”
Richard corrected, “Sixty-five thousand… Brother and I have been separated at games. It’s complete madness…”
Edward finished, “And we can find each other…”
Hunter demanded, “How!?”
Edward shrugged. “Makers and children are connected to each other. They can feel their emotions and find them, call them even… Brother and I were brought over together and something went haywire. We’re bonded to one another like we’re bonded to our Maker.”
“Tha’s so cool!” He jerked his head to look at me and order, “Call yours! Your child. Pam! How duzzit work?”
Since I needed to speak to her anyway…
I pulled my phone from my pocket to turn the power on again… I set the phone on the counter and as I called for Pam, I explained, “It’s difficult to explain. I’ve always been connected to someone, my Maker and Pam… It’s inherent. Have you ever had a sudden and unshakable need to contact someone? That’s what it feels like when she calls me.”
“So ya jus’ think ‘bout her real hard?”
I nodded. “In essence.”
Hunter and Cort were staring inquisitively at Sookie when my phone began ringing. Cort declared calling was ‘hella-cool’.
I answered, “Pam… Gawain, Simza, Bronya… Having fun?”
While the women laughed, Gawain mumbled, “We were. What do you want?”
He could have at least moved whoever was riding his face.
“Don’t speak with your mouth full… I was just calling to tell Pam I’ll be in Miami for a few nights…”
Pam giggled, “Sucker.”
I added, “And turn over my Area to Gawain. Enjoy your visit.”
When I ended the call, the boys (all four of them) and Connelly laughed, but I knew that wouldn’t be the end of it.
I counted down on my fingers for Cort and Hunter.
On cue, my phone rang again.
He complained, “I have three amazing pairs of thighs to tend to. Fuck your Area.”
“Your little stunt is why I’m being kidnapped. You can handle it. I’ll let you know if anything needs to be tended to in person. I’ll have my phone and that’s how I do most of my business.”
“You’re punishing me. Me?”
“I’m going to the World Series, asshole. Someone has to be responsible for my Area while I’m gone and some of my thralls could be stupid enough to challenge Pam in my absence because of her age. I doubt you’ll even have to do anything. I’ll only be gone for three nights.”
Pam volunteered, “The most exciting thing to happen in weeks has been Sookie. It’s boring here. He’s just fucking with you.”
“What’s a Sookie?”
“Pam can explain. I have a plane to catch.”
I slid my phone back into my pocket and told Cort and Hunter, “Kiss your mother, boys. We should go before it occurs to Pam that the World Series could keep me away for her birthday.”
Cort kissed Sookie, then Hunter… they were both hopping from the counter when Edward and Richard kissed her cheeks from either side and told her they owed her because they never would have talked me into going along if she refused to let me take the boys…
At least they knew that.
Connelly didn’t just peck Sookie’s cheek to continue the joke… he nuzzled the side of her neck and groaned, “I’ll stay to keep an eye on Sookie, hold down the fort…”
Hunter and Cort laughed… With Connelly’s Irish brogue, fort sounded like fart. Hold dohne the fart.
In spite of how nervous Connelly’s attention made her, she pushed his face away from her neck and laughed, “I can hold dohne tha fart joost foyn. I’m Eric’s inanycase. Hump off.” Her Irish accent was hilariously accurate.
The way I said, “Mine,” probably would have sounded more convincing if I wasn’t chuckling at the look on his face.
But he was actually more impressed by the way she rejected him.
“Where did you learn to speak Irish pillow talk?”
I don’t know how the fuck she managed to keep a straight face while the rest of us (including Connelly) were laughing.
Connelly finally backed away, patting my chest on his way to the door, “She’s a keeper, Eric. Bring her over before she comes to her senses about you… Come on, boys. Cab driver’s waitin’.”
While the boys (all of them) filed out of the house, Sookie called, “Don’t think for a second I won’t fly to Miami to bring home anyone who screws around. Not you Connelly. Y’all behave for Eric.”
Once the door was closed, I walked towards her and asked, “What if I misbehave?”
She giggled, “Sorry sweetie, no escape… You should start a list of no-nos as soon as you think of them. I’ll text you as they come to me too. Leave the list for them as a reference. The little turds are loophole bloodhounds. If you leave one, they’ll find it.”
“Children after my own heart.”
She smiled and rested her hands against my chest. “You say that now, but they’ll getcha… Is it silly that I’m going to miss you?”
I was just happy she’d said it first.
I shook my head. “I’ll miss you too. At least I have the boys to keep me busy. What will you do?”
“We’ll have Lill and Margie until you’re back and now that I’ve met Pam, I have a very spoiled woman to find a birthday present for. I’ll manage…”
They hadn’t been outside for a whole minute before the taxi’s horn started blaring.
At least Sookie thought it was funny.
She giggled and stretched up to her toes for a kiss, but I didn’t just want a kiss. I wanted the whole fucking night.
When she finally pulled away for air, she panted, “Go Yankees.”