Chapter 20: 2740

Meanwhile

Chapter 20

2740

**

Even with Pam available to substantiate our claims, it took seeing the videos of Bill and Lorena’s incineration for Alcide and Paulette to stop thinking Sookie and I had lost our minds. Even then, I’m sure it helped that their Alcide had used his own phone to capture one of the videos and he could hear his own voice and Paulette’s in the background.

Paulette hadn’t said anything. She only sat in the chair of my study that Hunter had called ‘Gran’s’ and stared blankly while Alcide rewatched the bonfire. He apologized in case it bothered Pam or me that he was so amused by burning vampires even though every time I watched it, my smile grew. It wasn’t what happened to vampires in the sun that he found so entertaining. It was a combination of who it was happening to and the circumstances since ‘our’ Bill and Lorena had both lost their heads. Either way, since her maker was long gone, that chapter was closed in two versions of our lives. All the while, Paulette sat quietly… She seemed to be trying to figure something out.

Even though Sookie’s mood was better than it had been before Adele Stackhouse became part of her evening, it continued to improve while she and Pam ‘played dress up’ downstairs. I monitored their moods and came to the conclusion that Pam was getting a crash course on Sookie’s time with her grandmother. Her improvement made me curious enough to want to ask questions, but I wasn’t sure how to go about solving my curiosity without causing more upset for her. I’d already proven that I could accidently trigger the wrong response from Sookie.

Hoping to overhear something, I left Alcide with my laptop so that he could amuse himself. His twisted sense of humor might’ve been almost as warped as mine.

There was no talking… When I walked into the room, Pam was zipping Sookie into a ‘dress’ that was so short, it was probably sold as a blouse. Considering that the snug fit and cut showcased her breasts and the cantaloupe color boasted her tan, I wasn’t going to complain… my hands would be on her thighs until I could get to the rest of her.

I didn’t have any intentions of changing out of the T shirt and jeans I’d been wearing, but I needed the excuse to be in the room… even if changing into almost identical items made Sookie giggle and Pam remind me that men’s fashion was unfair.

Sookie noticed as soon as I pulled my hand out of my suitcase with the tiny ring box and dropped her borrowed shoe.

“We were distracted last night.”

She nodded. “You aren’t going to tease me with it?”

I chuckled and put the box in her hand. “Not tonight.”

She opened it so slowly that the box creaked. She looked somewhat stoned, maybe even glamoured as she stared at the ring inside. “Papillion is butterfly?”

I nodded even though she wasn’t looking at me. “And bleu is your favorite color.”

“Why butterflies?” She didn’t seem disappointed, just curious, but I was still confused about why she’d have to ask.

“The Butterfly Effect… it came up several times and I thought it was fitting.” I was starting to wonder if she might not be happy about the ring including diamonds even if they were small accents.

She grinned and finally took it out of the cushion to slide it onto her finger. “You’re right. It is fitting… Wow… It’s… It feels heavier on my finger than it did in the box.”

I nodded. “Mine too.”

“Ummm… when you’re wearing the ring and I’m this close to you, does it feel like I’m in your chest?”

I was nodding when Pam blurted, “Congratulations. You two are so disgustingly sweet that you’ve made me the world’s first diabetic vampire… would you stop romanticizing and get ready to go.”

Sookie stared at the back of Pam’s head for a moment, and then questioningly shook her head slowly.

I shook my head to answer her… No. No, I didn’t get the same sensation from Pam’s ring.

Sookie’s eyebrow was still raised when Alcide shouted for us from the kitchen door. “Hey y’all, ummm… I think I thought of something… about that skip thing.” He barely waited long enough for us to get to the kitchen. “Alright… so that MP4 of the news footage takes a while to load, right… I noticed that diary or whatever in the window underneath it. I would’ve stopped reading it but the only line I saw was the one that said Granny…”

Sookie corrected, “Gran.”

“Right. Sorry. I called mine Granny. Anyway, Gran had a heart attack…” We both nodded, hoping he’d get to the point since he was so excited. “She had a fucking heart attack the night before they came to see y’all… They get here and your Gran wasn’t so lucky.”

Sookie locked onto his presentation instantly. “You think that there’s a connection?”

“Well, I wouldn’t, but… Ok… the next time they did it, was…” He started laughing again. “The night another you eloped with that Compton dude… then he shows up with Lorena in Dallas to stir up shit since he was banished from Louisiana and ends up toasted in trade for that hostage… I went back and skimmed… The Queen skipped after her Hadley died and saved a version of her and the baby… So… I mean what did y’all do during this skip? I’d bet that whatever it is will have something to do with something that happens in the next couple of nights.”

Since Sookie had spent her evening, seemingly getting some much needed peace from visiting with Adele and we knew that couldn’t happen again… It left only one possibility in my mind. Sookie and I spoke in unison, “Hunter.”

Trying to prepare for the infinite number of variable scenarios wasn’t possible. My first thought was the connection between the two realities. One had a living Adele, but in our version she was dead… Their Hunter was quite well and it was possible that something could’ve happened to ‘our’ Hunter since we’d been too busy to research his life.

I began bracing myself for more of Sookie’s tears, knowing that anything could’ve happened to the boy.

**

Jackson Herveaux and Colonel Flood were both waiting in the gravel parking area of Herveaux & Son when we arrived. While the career military ‘man’ stood in a formal stance, Jackson paced like a raving lunatic. His behavior only seemed to get more erratic when Alcide’s first order of business was to leave his truck and go directly to Sookie’s side of my car where he led her over to me and flanked her as we approached with Pam and Paulette just behind us. He greeted both Weres with the same respectful, yet level stare. Even if Weres healed quickly, Jackson Herveaux was still looking much better than he could have. Swerenger’s goons had taken it easy on him.

Flood gave me a civil nod. “Sheriff.”

“Packmaster. Is something wrong with your friend?”

He glanced in Jackson’s direction and rolled his eyes. “His nerves are getting to him. He isn’t sure that cooperating with you won’t get him or his family killed.”

“Has he come up with another way to settle his debts?”

Flood shook his head. “That would be a negative. Your offer was more generous than he deserves. That’s why he’s questioning it.”

“Ah. Then to settle his curiosity, he should try to understand that I don’t have a generous bone in my body. I do have an ulterior motive… Sookie’s guard can’t exactly focus on her safety if he’s preoccupied with concerns for his sister because his father is irresponsible enough to gamble with vampire money. I want Sookie’s security. Our arrangement is making sure that happens. Are there any more questions?”

Jackson stopped pacing to stare at Alcide for a moment before turning to me. “Why should I believe you?”

Jackson didn’t know that I was moving until I had him by his throat with his back on the gravel under us. “Because you sloppy piece of shit, some of us know better than to take risks that would affect those we care about. I can kill you in an instant and claim your debt when your insurance pays out, but that wouldn’t exactly guarantee the safety of my pet, would it?”

His face was red and swelling from his struggle for air. His only option for answering was shaking his head.

“Make no mistake about it. There are thousands of variables for how I can get my money back from you. Your son is the reason you are getting off as lightly as you are. Without his part in MY interests, you could find yourself running errands of questionable morality and outcome. And if I were a betting man, I might put you in a crate and take you to New Orleans for some sport. I hear Quinn is feeling cagey. How do you think you’d hold up against a tiger half your age, wolf?”

He struggled to shake his head again.

“So you understand that my ‘generosity’ has nothing to do with you?”

He rattled his head enough to get his ‘yes’ across.

“And you know that our arrangement isn’t written in stone and I can easily change my mind if you decide to be difficult?”

Another weak nod. His eyes were starting to cross.

“Because if I have to put you down to prove my point, I will.”

He struggled to meet my eyes and judging by the look on his face he might have been realizing that his son and Packmaster had yet to say or do anything to defend him.

When I released his throat, he rolled away from me, choking to refill his lungs while I went back to Sookie’s side. Alcide and Flood were both glowering at Jackson without giving me any reason to think they disagreed with the ‘attitude adjustment’ he’d just gotten.

**

Alcide was the one to offer a tour of the offices so that we would know what we were ‘working with’. As Alcide led us from one room to another, his father was increasingly anxious.

When our tour went in the direction of the workshop, Jackson finally said something. “You said the office and the waiting area. Not the whole fucking place.”

Flood and Alcide growled at him, but it was Sookie who said something. “Do you think that a vampire as old as the sheriff would’ve left such a gap in a verbal contract accidently? No. By seeing what the property has to offer, it gives you two an opportunity to negotiate for extra space on an as needed basis. Do you think the Sheriff wants to drag your debt out 7 and a half freaking years? Don’t be a fool. Shut your damn mouth and HOPE he finds something useful, you territorial ass.”

While I raised an eyebrow at her for being just as irritated with Jackson as I was, Flood and Alcide chuckled at him.

When the tour ended at the compound where all of the trucks and machinery were kept, Alcide asked which room we wanted to use for meetings… Sookie and I had spoken in unison to tell him that we wanted the conference room. I couldn’t have been sure about her reasons, but when I felt her approval once we’d seen the room, I started considering it. My first choice had been Jackson’s office, but only because he’d be irritated by the lingering scent of vampires… The conference room was more formal than the office and wasn’t haunted by the sickening stench of lunches left in the garbage bin. It was close to an exit and buffered by a long corridor from the reception area for privacy. It was perfect for our needs.

**

While Sookie, Alcide and I situated in the conference room, Pam and Paulette went to the front of the building to unlock the doors and organize the amassing business.

Flood followed us. “Knowing what she does, how does Sookie work?”

“Internal combustion. No batteries required.” Sookie apologized for laughing so loudly, but given how much her mood had improved, I enjoyed it.

Flood chuckled. “I meant fees and whatnot.”

“That would depend on who’s asking. Do you have a situation that a telepath could help with?”

He shrugged. “Word’s getting out. Some of us wouldn’t call a vampire for details.”

I nodded. “The public at large pays $1000 per head. Their disclaimer includes that no bodies are to be dumped in Area 5.”

“Does she offer group rates?”

“She worked for Salome for $20,000 per night plus expenses, but that was including travel. It would depend on the circumstances. You seem to have something specific in mind. Lying around a telepath is redundant.”

He took at long look at Sookie and judging by the look on Alcide’s face, he’d been the one to suggest the tactic, but still annoyed by the secrecy. She shook her head slightly, then nodded… several silent answers later, she smiled and told him ‘we’ll talk about it’. He returned her smile and gave her an appreciative nod on his way out.

I wasn’t given the chance to ask Sookie about it before Pam escorted the insurance adjuster and the fire inspector to us. Sookie gave me a subtle wink and reassuringly stroked my arm as my cue to not worry about Flood’s thoughts even if her mood wasn’t hinting that I had anything to concern myself with.

**

Other than the fact that Sookie used my hand to let me know the pricks were being accusatory because they were hoping to be bribed even though they had no proof that I had anything to do with Fangtasia’s bombing, the meeting was boring and nearly over when Pam interrupted with an ‘urgent matter’ and requested Alcide’s presence in the waiting area.

Well before the ‘urgent matter’ had been brought through the door, Sookie tensed again. ‘Oh Lord’ was all Sookie managed to say in the moment we had before they entered.

Jason at the lead and Hadley’s friend Jake just behind him… Curiously, a very anxious Hunter was walking alongside an unfamiliar man that I could only assume was his father. The tiny little boy with brown hair and big brown eyes immediately zeroed in on me as though he already knew me. Even though I didn’t know the reason for the visit, I was relieved that we weren’t getting more grave news.

I leaned to put my mouth to Sookie’s ear. “How could I ever give you up? Look at how interesting things are with you around.”

She giggled as chills rolled over her neck. She whispered back, “You say that now… Eventually you’ll get bored with Stackhouse flavored excitement.” Stackhouse flavor.

I sat back, smiling at her and spelled ‘never’ over the skin of her thigh before I turned my attention to the Were who was so tense his ears were flushed. “Jake, are you always wound so tightly? It can’t be good for your health.”

“I uh… I… Hadley’s going to kill me for this.”

“From what I’m told it’ll be years before she’s allowed out of her home.”

“Out, yeah, but she’s allowed to have company. Amelia called me. She went to see Hadley. Hadley was bragging about how stupid Sookie is. She apparently made some threats. Sookie didn’t know better and thought the threats were against Jason here. She…” When he became quiet, Sookie grabbed my hand under the table and spelled out, S H E M E A N T H U N T E R.

Her. Own. Fucking. Child. “Why?” I’d been just as surprised as the other me to compare notes on Hadleys… Theirs was self-centered, yes, but still tolerable. We came to the conclusion that Adele’s life had to be the difference.

I waited for Jake to silently answer and have Sookie translate into my hand again. 2 I S O L A T E M E

I whispered into her ear, “You deserve to be alone? Not the only Stackhouse. The only telepath.”

She nodded, looking like she was on the verge of tears again. My evening just got better and better.

“So you went to Bon Temps to find Sookie and when she wasn’t there, you found Jason.”

He nodded, leaning away from Alcide when his anxious step forward was discouraged with a growl. “Hadley’s nuts. If she keeps it up, Andre’s going to kill her. I’m no tattletale. Working for Triple E, I know how to keep my mouth shut, but she’s not right. The only thing I could think of was to bring them to you because God only knows if she set something up already. I wanted to get them out of the area just in case.” Smart boy. It was a shame he cowered from Alcide. He’d make a decent guard otherwise.

“Calm down. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Go wait in the reception area while we tend to this.”

As soon as he skeptically closed the door behind himself, Jason scowled at the rest of us in turn. “I’m gonna hold off being pissed that everyone a’you already knew about Hunter and Remy.” How lucky for us.

The boy wasn’t nearly as scared as his father was. “Hunter…” The father stepped forward and tucked the boy behind his legs defensively when I gave him my attention. “Is there any reason for us to watch what we say around you or do you already know exactly what’s going on from everyone’s thoughts?” The father’s mouth fell open.

Hunter waited a second before he answered quietly. “I already know… My mom isn’t dead. She’s a vampire and she wants to hurt me.”

“Do you know why?”

He nodded unhappily. “Because I can hear what people think and someone she hates can  too.”

Remy scowled at Jason. “You didn’t tell me that!”

“Because Jake doesn’t know he can read minds. I felt the kid poking around in my head. I know Hadley’s history with Sookie. It don’t take a genius to figure everything out.”

“So you tell me you know who can help and then bring me to a vampire den? You must’ve been the ‘retarded cousin’ Hadley talked about, asshole!”

I interrupted and tried to hide how amused I was that Pam was feeling protective of Jason. “Nest.”

“What?”

“Vampires gather in nests. Werewolves run in packs. Witches practice in covens. To the best of my knowledge, only bears and Boy Scouts assemble in dens… Hunter, would you like to draw or watch a movie on Pam’s computer while we talk about how to see to your safety?” As soon as I said it, I hoped he’d choose drawing. I wasn’t sure if Pam separated her animated movies from her porn (or her home movies for that matter).

He smiled at me while his father continued to gape. “If I draw can I listen?”

I nodded.

“I’ll do that then.”

I patted the chair next to me and Pam left to raid desks for Hunter’s art supplies.

Remy immediately followed Hunter, still scared beyond his wits, but Jason sat right next to Sookie, kissing her temple as a greeting. “Remy Savoy, this is my sister Sookie and that’s Sheriff Eric Northman. He ain’t gonna hurt Hunter. Settle your ass down.”

“How does everyone know about Hunter? I’ve never told anyone.”

Sookie and Jason looked to me. “Hadley’s maker has a high profile. I met her while she was still pregnant. I only found out recently what became of the baby. I’d assumed he’d died when she was turned… I think what you need to concern yourself with is that you need to be able to hide your son from his mother.”

“Why?”

“You were married to her. You should know quite well how irrational she is. She has a grudge against her cousin for nothing more than an argument. She’s made an attempt on her life and when she was caught, she made plans for Hunter to stand in for her axe to grind against telepaths.”

“This is crazy. How am I supposed to trust one vampire to keep me safe from another.”

Jason spoke up. “Because he’s more family than Hadley ever was.”

Before I had the chance to think about Jason’s proclamation, Hunter suddenly blurted, “I want to try.”

Sookie giggled and answered my unasked question, feeling my curiosity. “He wanted to know how I can hold your hand and not get a headache. He wants to touch you.”

“I’m going to set a rate.”

“Bubble rentals? An amusement park for telepaths.”

I scoffed at the idea and held my hand out for the boy. His father actually gasped when Hunter’s hand touched mine.

With a relieved grin on his face, Hunter breathed, “Nothing.”

Even as Pam reentered the room, with a collection of various markers and a stack of copy paper, he didn’t let go. For that matter, he barely seemed to notice when she put them in front of him.

“Hunter.”

“Yes sir?”

“Call me Eric. Pam wants an excuse to stay while we talk. If you sit in her lap while you draw, you can enjoy her ‘nothing’.”

Before she could argue, Hunter shoved his art supplies across the table and jumped out of his seat, grabbing her hand to pull her over to sit next to Jason.

I chuckled at the look on Pam’s face as Hunter settled into her lap. She’d never had a child in her lap before… and it showed.

**

“Down to business… Remy, you need to leave New Orleans.”

“How the hell do I do that?” He was still watching Hunter, awe written all over his face.

I was amused enough at meeting our own Hunter that I explained, “Like Sookie, Hunter can’t hear vampires’ thoughts. We’re very relaxing for telepaths to be around…” Hunter agreed with me by giving an excited nod. “As for your relocation, I suggest you start with new names. Yours aren’t terribly common. You’d be easy to find.”

“How am I supposed to swing that?”

“Give it some thought and tell Pam what you want to change them to. She’ll handle the rest.”

He huffed out a deep breath. “And then disappear. Just fall off the face of the earth so that Hadley can’t come after us.”

“That’s an option.”

Jason volunteered, “Y’all can stay with me until you get set up. I’ve got plenty of room and there’s carpentry work all over the place.”

Sookie shook her head. “Not Bon Temps. We smell different. Before too long I’ll have met every vampire for miles. Bon Temps is isolated enough that the connection could get made… Eric?

She already knew I agreed with her she just wanted me to voice it. “Sookie’s right. Beside’s Hadley could easily have Jake reveal their location. Even if we don’t tell him what is done with them, leading them to you would have her search Bon Temps.”

Sookie looked at me with pleading eyes. “What would you do?”

“Shreveport.”

Remy shook his head. “Why here? It might as well be New Orleans.”

“Because I’m close enough that I could be at your house in a moment if there was a need. Because I can have your property protected so that nothing can get in without your invitation. Because I can see to your employment here.”

“Are you serious?”

Pam added, “And I know of a woman who’d babysit without making Hunter feel like a freak. Maggie has a, I think the term nowadays is ‘special needs child’.” Paulette’s sister-in-law. Inspired.

Hunter turned to scowl at her. “I’m not ‘special’!”

Pam actually smiled at him and whispered. “Her 5 year old has a ‘special’ gift like you do.”

“Nuh-uh!”

“He can’t read minds, but I’m sure they’ll explain if you visit them.”

Hunter nodded, satisfied with Pam’s explanation. He was adjusting to the idea of reinventing himself more easily than his father.

“Remy? Thoughts?”

He shook his head. “I… I don’t know. I mean… All I know about vampires is what I’ve heard… I mean… They have a reputation for being nuts.”

Sookie leaned forward and gave Remy a very serious stare. “Remy… Your ex-wife, Hunter’s mother, my cousin is one of them. She’s one of the unstable ones who does whatever they want to do. She was a temperamental and rebellious kid and she’s nastier now that she has fangs. You have no choice but to do something if you want to stay alive. Going back isn’t an option. She could glamour a servant to kill you both in your sleep if you stay local.”

“Shreveport isn’t that far away though.”

“She’s young as far as vampires go. Eric could glamour someone to walk cross-country and they’d do it, but Hadley’s influence wouldn’t last long enough for someone to fly to Shreveport to harm you. It’s a safe distance.”

Remy stared at the center of the table. I couldn’t really blame him. His world had crashed down around him in an instant. When he started to shake his head, Jason cut him off. “Leave him with Sookie.”

Remy and Sookie both gasped, “What?” Saying that Sookie wasn’t happy about being volunteered for the duty of caring for a toddler would be an understatement. Even though she’d seen firsthand that it was completely possible, she was no less thrilled about the concept than she had been when I’d first explained Hunter.

“Leave the boy with Sookie. He’d be with family…” He paused when he realized Sookie was trying to kill him with a look. “WHAT!? No one would say jackshit. You can help him with his telepathy too. With Supes there’s too many variables to hiding him. Hide him in plain sight. Be public. Mags can still watch him when you’re working and I’ll pitch in and your guard even has experience with kids… Alcide, you got a nephew his age, right?”

Alcide nodded from his post at the door. “Yeah. But I’m starting to think Tommy might be retarded… He doesn’t speak as clearly as Hunter.”

Jason snorted, “That’s the telepathy. Sookie did that too. I remember… Mom used to freak out big-time. She’d go to the cabinet to get her baby food out. I guess Mom read the labels to herself or something. Sookie’d say ‘pears’ or ‘peaches’… I think the hardest thing for her to say was ‘applesauce’… sounded like ‘appleshots’. She was little. Well, still on baby food.”

Remy sighed, “Hunter did too. He asked for ‘cookie cake’ for his first birthday. He walked and teethed like normal, all the physical stuff, but he’s already starting to read.”

After giving the silent tension the chance to swell, Jason gave everyone a puzzled look. “Y’all stop being assholes. Admit the best thing for the boy and his safety is for him to be with Sookie.”

Sookie threw her head back in frustration and shouted at the ceiling. “Jason! No one is saying that knowing another telepath is a bad idea. No one is saying that being with me is bad for his safety since I’m already guarded. But we have no idea of what kind of nightmare Dallas will be and no clues about what’s going to happen in the next few months!” She punctuated her outburst by widening her eyes to remind him of the pending coup d’état.

“He ain’t in school yet. He can go with us to Dallas. I told you I’d help. Damn.” Sookie’s sense of responsibility was battling with displeasure over being forced to take on yet another responsibility… I couldn’t be sure, but I thought Hadley’s safety was becoming a concern. Sookie might’ve been close to ending her.

Remy blurted, “I’m not giving up my son.” Sookie enjoyed a slight relief knowing that Remy wasn’t going along with having his son taken from him.

Hunter grimaced at his father. “Daddy, you know it’s smart. It would keep me safe. And you’re scared of me. They aren’t.” Sookie’s moods were coming to her in spikes and she was starting to feel more than anxious. I’d learned too recently that letting her emotions get out of hand wasn’t in anyone’s best interest…

I took her hand and led her out of the room to speak privately. On our way past Alcide, he mentioned that he’d worn his ‘smart pants’ tonight. The wolf had definitely earned a treat, but I wasn’t sure if a new collar or a Thai hooker was in order.

**

As soon as the door to Jackson’s office was closed behind us, she growled through clenched teeth, “I want to scream.”

I agreed, “The past 24 hours have been very demanding.”

“You think?”

“Having the boy with us makes the most sense as far as his safety is concerned.”

She huffed, “Us, huh? Where is the halfway point between Bon Temps and Shreveport?”

“Ruston.”

“I was being facetious.”

“I know.”

She put her hands to her hips and frowned with every part of her face. “What else do you know?”

“I know that I don’t want to take the boy away from his father any more than you do, but that something needs to be done and Remy doesn’t want to erase his life. There’s a lot of merit to Jason’s idea since we know in detail that it can be accomplished.”

“Except this me doesn’t already live with you or have Gran’s help… I don’t think I could do it.”

“You could move in with me.”

Her eyes widened. “How can you say that after what happened last night?”

“How could you doubt it after how quickly we learned from that mistake? And after how we spent our early evening?”

“Are we back on taking Hunter away from Remy? I know he’s just as scared of Hunter as my Mom was of me, but things are different. Now that he knows something about it he could come around.”

“You still haven’t thought about living with me.”

“Yes I have. I’ve thought about it for a few days now. I didn’t want to come home because I didn’t want to be away from you… I don’t think we should be considering moving in together because of a child though. Word could get out that you’re acting too human.”

I chuckled at the idea. “Fine. You’ll move your things to my house when we get back from Dallas. Now on to the matter of the child.”

She puffed out her cheeks and kicked my shin. “You giant turd!”

I laughed at the look on her face and took her arms to pull her to me. “Missing you was the last thing I thought about before I died. I hurt Pam’s feelings by being disappointed to see her on my bed instead of you. How empty did your bed feel?”

She closed her eyes to sigh, “It never felt so big…”

“So you’re moving.”

“I don’t want to give up my house though…”

“Then don’t. We should keep it warded and well stocked. We can use it when you want to get away. We might need to return to it from time to time because of the ‘skips’ anyway. Since you’ll be living with me, you can make repairs without the workers getting in your way and Jason can tend to it.”

“Hunter and Remy could stay there.”

“The safety concerns would be the same. If something were to happen, I’d be 20 minutes away.”

“So they need to be in Shreveport as a minimum.”

“I think so. I could send them into Southern Unknown with new identities, but the father isn’t willing and the boy would be just as unguided as you were.”

“I don’t like Remy.”

“His thoughts remind you of your mother’s?”

She nodded. “But at least he’s mostly blaming Hadley.”

“Then I could publically announce ownership of Hunter and the boy could stay with us, visiting his father when time allows for it.”

“On warded property with a guard.”

“It’s better than nothing.”

**

Sookie and I weren’t in our seats yet before Remy rolled his eyes. “Are you two done talking about my life?”

“Not quite. Sookie and I needed a moment to brainstorm…”

He interrupted, “So what are you? To her? Jason said that you’re family.”

“We’re bonded.”

“Like married.” Hardly.

“It’s far more than that. Marriage is a temporary human notion that can be undone… Moving on to the matter at hand… Sookie and I have come to the conclusion that you only really have two options…”

“What are they then?”

“The first is that you throw a dart at an atlas and move with new identities. The drawbacks of which include that if Hadley were to ever discover your location, both of you could be quite dead before any of us would know to help you.”

“Great! I barely need to hear the second option since that one is so sexy.”

“Your other option is to have Sookie tend to him on a daily basis. His daycare would be provided by a woman with an understanding of his ability and he’d travel with us so that he wouldn’t be left unguarded. The drawback to that scenario is since you’d be living separately, you’d only be able to see him when schedules allow for it. You should consider relocating to Shreveport so that it can happen more regularly since we aren’t in New Orleans often.”

“He’d be safe and I could still see him.”

Sookie and I nodded.

“Could his ability be used? I mean… exploited…”

Sookie shook her head. “Not on Eric’s watch. I use my ability for work. I’m paid very well for it and Eric makes sure no one tries to take advantage of it. If Hunter wants to work as a telepath, when he’s old enough to make that call, then Eric will make sure that’s he’s taken care of.”

“How do you work as a telepath?”

“At the moment there are vampires filling the lobby who are paying me to make sure their interests are in the right hands.”

“Really? Why not work for cops or something?”

“Because humans tend to think telepaths are charlatans or freaks and don’t see the potential because they’re paranoid about what we could be hearing. It’s a rare ability that run of the mill humans can’t understand.”

Remy sat back from his aggressive posture and ran his hands through his hair. His eyes skimmed over the room erratically while he contemplated his situation. “No new names. No hiding. Everyone would know Hunter is a telepath, but he’s under your protection.”

I gave a nod.

“How soon?”

“Backdated. Going back isn’t an option. You either disappear from here or stay. Hadley could have already set things into motion.”

“Our things?”

“We’ll hire a moving company to bring them to Shreveport. You should know that we leave for Dallas at sunset tomorrow evening. Hunter would need to go with us, but it would give you some time to settle into a new house and job.”

“Doctor records…”

“We’ll make sure you have the name of his new doctor so that records can be sent.”

Remy buried has face in his hands and mumbled. “Hunter?”

The boy barely looked up from his drawing. “It’s good. We’ll be fine.”

“You’re sure? You’ll be living with a stranger.”

He giggled, “Daddy, we’re mind readers. We’ll get to know each other.” He made an excellent point. I had the distinct impression that Hunter was simply excited to not be alone in his gift, just as Sookie had been to find Michelle.

“And you’ll be around vampires a lot.” Hunter’s eyes lit up, pleased with the idea of silence.

I added, “More than being around us, he’ll be living with one of us.” Pam’s mouth fell open when she realized I meant that Sookie was moving in with me.

Remy choked, “You?”

I nodded. “We’ll keep him under the stairs like Harry Potter.” Hunter cackled and Pam raised her eyebrow to remind me that she’d been the one to drag me to the theater to see that movie…

Remy wasn’t as amused. “What are you going to do with him?”

“I have a very normal house. He has his choice of three vacant bedrooms. Did you assume I slip into a crypt in the cemetery at dawn?”

He cringed. “Well… yeah.”

Pam and I laughed at the idea while I pulled my phone out of my pocket.

“Who are you calling?”

“Insurance.”

“Like hospitalization?”

I shook my head while the phone rang. “Better.” Remy concentrated his confusion on me as Andre picked up the call. “Andre.”

“Good evening Northman. How did your Area fair in your absence?”

“I don’t know yet. Sookie and I rose in a ‘unique state of confusion’. Once everything reset we started our plans as scheduled but business has been waylaid by Hadley related excitement again.”

“A unique state of confusion?” I’d quoted Sophie-Ann’s journal, hoping he’d catch on.

“I wouldn’t think I’d need to describe it. I’ve been assured that you’ve experienced it yourself.”

“Of course… How many times has this happened to you?”

“Twice. I’m starting a journal in the case that we need to refer back to it later… None of that really matters for the purpose of this call though. It seems that Sookie’s reaction to Hadley’s threat was misdirected. While Sookie assumed Hadley meant for her to be the only living Stackhouse, we have new information that corrects the miscalculation. As it turns out, Hadley was threatening her own child so that Sookie would be the only telepath.”

“Child?” Playing dumb wasn’t going to do anything more than piss me off. He had to know that.

“Yes. I’m declaring ownership of Hunter Savoy and offering my protection to his father. The boy will be living with me and Sookie in my warded home. I’d appreciate it if you pass the word along to Hadley. My hope is that it would deter her from an act of aggression against the boy. I’d hate to upset the Queen and tarnish our working relationship by killing her child in defense of what’s mine.”

“You think that would be wise?”

“No offense to the Queen intended, Andre, but you know for a fucking fact that one telepath can accidentally be more valuable than 10 Hadleys on her best day.”

“I’m assuming that you learned of Hunter via a crossing?” I preferred Adele’s terminology. ‘Crossing’ sounded queer, like a sideshow gypsy expression… And it didn’t escape me that he wasn’t arguing with my opinion of Hadley.

“You assume correctly.”

“And you’re taking on the responsibility of the boy’s safety and secrecy?”

“Safety, yes. Secrecy, no. We’ll keep his origins to ourselves, but his ability isn’t going to be hidden. The boy has talent and will be given no leash on practicing his ability.”

“Publicity could make him a target of greed.”

“No more than Sookie and Hunter won’t be working any time soon.”

“No. Of course not. He’ll need a decade….”

“Andre, you forget old man, he won’t be considered an adult until he’s 18.”

“I do forget. Society coddles them now. One decade or two, Sookie’s services are more than we could’ve hoped for. You should turn her so that Hunter’s coming of age isn’t so highly anticipated.” For Andre, that was ‘gushing’.

“In time… What will be done of Hadley? Her vendetta is growing tiresome. I’m assuming that her dissatisfaction in Adele’s death is enflamed by known possibilities.” Knowing that Adele was alive and well in other versions irritated me, but it didn’t excuse anything she’d done especially since it seemed as though she was erroneously blaming Sookie for everything.

“It seems to me that she can’t be trusted. I’ll discuss with the Queen limiting the few freedoms she has. Her witch friend is going to need to find a new tenant to say the least. How are you dealing with the father in this version of events?”

“Remy is as agreeable as you could expect in regards to turning his son over to strangers. He’s relocating to Shreveport so that he’s available to visit Hunter when our schedule allows it.”

“A contingency that we didn’t consider. He’s been killed or glamoured in the crossings that we’ve made where the boy was already with you… Make sure to tend to the journal. We’ll compare notes when we meet again. Expect to see Cataliades in Dallas so that he can register your new pets.”

“Thank you.”

“Get to business then. Call if you need anything.”

**

Remy hardly waited for the call to end. “Who was that?”

“His name is Andre…”

Jason interrupted to take over the clarification. “He’s like Hadley’s brother. They have the same maker. He’s a lot older and he gets stuck cleaning up her messes a lot.”

Remy’s eyes widened. “So what now?”

“Now, you’ll go with Pam. She and Paulette will start making arrangments.”

Remy’s questions continued while we waited for Alcide to fetch Paulette and Jake. Hunter couldn’t have seemed happier while I gave Paulette her list of chores and made Jake aware that I owed him two favors and that no one knew of his involvement in Hadley’s defeat. Even if he didn’t understand how he was blameless, he was still too busy shying away from Alcide to ask for more details.

While Remy went with Paulette and Pam, Hunter asked if he could stay with Sookie and me. He sat on my lap through dozens of meetings both telepath and non-telepath related with the promise to not listen to anyone’s thoughts. Sookie hadn’t been happy when I let him stay, but considering that the boy was going to be in our company for plenty of business, he needed to start exercising his shields and practicing with my ‘bubble’. Bickering vampires and thieving pets would be at the ‘soft’ end of the spectrum considering what he could see and hear in Stan Davis’s nest.

He’d taken a short break at one point to go to the restroom and Jason kidnapped him to search for food. He came back with Wendy’s bags for Sookie, Paulette and Alcide and climbed into my lap to eat (and offer to share) his ‘frostie’. Sookie had it in her to joke about not being sure how she felt about ‘sharing’ me. She told Hunter that when she found another telepath she made arrangements for another vampire bubble for her to borrow. I’d thought that she would’ve assumed (and correctly) that I wouldn’t have wanted to be pawed. Finding out that she was being territorial was not only entertaining, but inspiring.

I’d been on the receiving end of several curious and/or amused looks as vampire after vampire was led to us that only became more exaggerated when Hunter felt comfortable enough to doze off against my chest. Sookie and I took turns explaining that I was starting a collection of telepaths in one way or another. One vulgar ass offered to buy Hunter from me since I already had Sookie… Being carried out by his hair and his dick and thrown into the gravel parking lot hard enough to embed a few rocks in his face had been enough of an ‘attitude adjustment’ for the prick to offer an apology. As I went back through the lobby full of gaping vampires, they were informed that I wasn’t entertaining offers for my ‘bonus telepath’… When I took my seat next to Sookie again, Hunter giggled and climbed back into my lap as though I hadn’t just given him a reason to be startled as a minimum.

Maybe Sookie and her family of nonconformists would eventually stop surprising me, but I wasn’t hoping for it.

**

It was nearly 2 o’clock when the final business matter left. Pam reassembled the ‘A Team’ in the conference room. She had seen to the moving company, made a reservation for Remy and Hunter to stay in a hotel for the night and called the hotel in Dallas to arrange for a suite for Sookie and I to share with Hunter. Paulette had called the real estate agent she’d met with during the day about an additional rental property, had all of the utilities set to start and called her sister-in-law to confirm that she was willing to provide Hunter’s daycare when we needed it… Everything was set in motion and moving smoothly…

Unless you count that Alcide moped through the meeting because he’d wanted to go to Merlotte’s for ‘dessert’, but we’d worked too late. I promised him a rain check. Antagonizing the shifter could become my favorite sport.

I sent Alcide home for the night and sent Pam on her ‘merry’ way so that she could spend some time with Jason since I was planning to tuck Sookie in myself… Hunter snored quietly until I set him in his carseat in his father’s truck. He awoke startled and argued to stay with me for the night…

“I’m supposed to stay with you!”

“You will…”

“I’ll get my stuff.”

I had to dodge the seatbelt when he flung it away from himself. “You’re staying at a hotel with your father tonight.” Sookie’s sympathy was noticeable from her stance directly behind me.

“I don’t want to… I want to go with you.”

“Tonight will be the last time you’ll see him for a while. We don’t know how long we’re going to be in Dallas or if we’re coming back to Shreveport as soon as we’re done there.”

“I… I don’t… Sookie!?” The boy was shaking his head when he seized my arm.

I started trying to explain, wondering if I’d said something he misunderstood, but Sookie stopped me. “It’s going to be a long time before you spend the night with him again.”

“Why not? If I’m going to live with him anyway?”

She tried to calm him down by reaching past me to stroke his hair. “We’re coming to get you early tomorrow. We have a lot to do. We have to go shopping for stuff you need and…”

“No. I’m going with him.”

“Hunter, you need to give your Daddy some time. He’s seeing you off tomorrow…” He shook his head again and after a moment Sookie sighed and looked up to me. “Remy has nightmares about Hunter being a monster whenever Hunter uses his ability.”

“So it would be safe to assume that Remy won’t be having ‘sweet dreams’ tonight.” Sookie’s nod was calmer than Hunter’s. “Grab your things then.”

He looked back at Remy for a moment then back to me while Sookie tried to blink away how surprised she was. “Really?”

“Not if you waste time. You need to get some sleep. From the sound of things, you’re going to be very busy tomorrow.”

When he reached for a dinosaur backpack, Remy stopped him. He’d been present but silent while his son begged to abandon him for strangers. That had to be a blow to his ego. “Are you sure you want to go with them?”

“They said I could go! I don’t want your dreams!”

Remy hung his head and sighed.

Sookie quietly cleared her throat, grabbing the boy’s bag so that he could climb out of the truck. “I know you can’t help it, Remy… but he wants to have his own dreams.”

“You’d know right?”

She nodded. “My father’s dreams were about making ends meet. My mother wished I wasn’t born… We’ll come get you in the morning so that you can spend the day with him before we leave.”

He shrugged solemnly and nudged Hunter’s ‘booster’ to me…

While Remy pulled out of the parking lot, Sookie folded her arms and stared at my car. “How are we going to do this, Mr. Two Seater?”

“He’s small. He’ll fit in the trunk.” Hunter cackled, making it very hard for Sookie to seem annoyed. “Fine. You ride in the trunk.”

She faked a scowl and reached into my pocket to grab my keys and punished me for making jokes by tickling my thigh. “I’ll drive. You follow us.”

“I’ve never let Pam drive my…”

She pouted and huffed, “I’ll call a cab since you don’t want me to…”

“No. Drive. I’ll stay right over you.”

She grinned and stretched up to kiss my cheek. “K. We’ll see you back at the house.”

**

I quite possibly scared the shit out of Sookie when I landed in the driveway as she was pulling in, but I could hear Hunter cackling just as loudly as Sookie’s shriek.

Hunter giggled from time to time as he was given a full tour of the house that included where my room was so that he would know to close the kitchen door behind him before he opened the second. There was a brief pause at the thermostat because it had been set on 80. It was warm enough in the house that Hunter mentioned it and Sookie felt uncomfortable.

Of the three bedrooms upstairs, he chose the same one that the other Hunter was occupying even though I offered to move Pam’s boxes from the biggest room for him.

His things had been shoved into his backpack without much thought. His pajamas were mismatched and he’d forgotten to pack socks. Hunter’s change of clothes consisted of another dinosaur t-shirt and a darker version of the jean shorts he was already wearing. His father had clearly not expected Jake’s visit to end in an abrupt upheaval of their life.

He giggled again when Sookie went into the private bathroom that Hunter was practically giddy over to start his bath.

I sat down on the corner of the king sized bed that made him seem even smaller. “Since I’m not a mind reader, I have to ask. What has you giggling?”

“I’m happy. I could ‘hear’ my neighbors at my old house. It’s really quiet here.”

“It should be. There’s room for a house this size to fit between mine and the neighbors. Since I have such good hearing, I can’t live too close to people either.”

“Cool… You know, my Daddy’s freaking out.”

“Of course he is. His son is in danger.”

“Not that… He’s scared of me more now that he knows I’m not just making lucky guesses.”

“Sookie’s mother did the same thing to her. It’s hard for humans to understand. Sookie is happier now that she doesn’t have to hide it. I think you will be too.”

“Me too. Daddy gets scared a lot. That I’ll do it at bad times.”

“There will be times when I tell you not to read thoughts, like tonight, but most of the time you’ll be free to practice. When Sookie made friends with Michelle, she mentioned that practicing made her shields easier to use. She used to have problems, but she hasn’t been suffering that I know of.”

He nodded very seriously. “She told me.”

“Were you two ‘talking’ to each other during our meetings?”

“Some. She told me to look for her through you. It wasn’t easy.”

“But it worked.”

He nodded. “She’s really good.”

“She was born with it like you. She’s had a lot of practice. It’ll get easier for you too.”

“Good… Why are we going to Dallas?”

“Because there are some people who want to hurt vampires. Sookie is going to listen to make sure some of them aren’t pretending to be friendly…”

“Ohhhh… Like she did tonight… That’s easy. Liars echo.”

“Oh really? How is that?”

“Tell me a lie.”

“Grass is purple.”

“Ok… If grass was purple you woulda just said that it is. But since you lied, you woulda thought ‘grass is green’ and said purple out loud… Lies are loud too.”

“That’s very interesting.”

“But since I can’t hear what you think, your brain just got swirly.” Uh oh.

“Swirly?”

“Yep. You’re like a cloud or a fog, but it gets busy when you lie… Like some of the vampires you said it was ‘nice’ to see them…” Shit.

“Are you up for a test?”

He nodded excitedly and studied me very closely.

“I can pick up your father’s truck. I have 600 pairs of shoes. I own a dolphin named Violet.”

“You have a dolphin!”

“Which one was the lie?”

“Shoes. Why do you have a dolphin?” Fuck. I had to wait until I talked to Sookie, but being able to sense deceit in vampires was more of a worry than Sookie occasionally hearing a stray vampire thought.

“Pam talked me into making a donation to an aquarium. Evidently, I’ve adopted her.”

Sookie stepped out of the bathroom and smiled at us. “What’s up?”

“He can tell when vampires are lying.”

She grabbed Hunter’s night clothes. “Oh. Why are you worried about that?”

I raised my eyebrow. “Why aren’t you?

“Because I can too.”

“All along?”

She nodded. “I didn’t know what it was at first… And it’s not always lying. It’s the same when y’all think about more than one thing at a time. You do it a lot.” She felt how relieved I was… She stepped closer and ran her fingers through my hair as she bent to kiss me and leaned against my side. “It can be like snakes tangled together when you’ve got a lot on your mind.”

While I recovered from worrying over a nonpoint, Hunter looked up to Sookie. “Did you know he has a dolphin?”

She giggled. “Pam told me. She has a soft spot for animals. They didn’t know she was ‘adopted’ until the aquarium sent them a ‘thank you’ letter, but now that she knows, she’s trying to decide what to adopt next.”

He smiled at me. “You should adopted a shark. They have sharp teeth too.”

I chuckled at him. “That’s what I said.” I’d actually told Pam that dolphins were pussies and if she had to adopt something, to adopt something less cuddly next time.

“Oh! Walruses have just two!”

Sookie giggled at him. “Something nocturnal would been good too… Tub’s ready. Do you need any help?”

Hunter jumped from his new bed, shaking his head and darted into the bathroom. We laughed when we heard a splash loud enough to sound as though he’d jumped in from a diving board.

Sookie ran her fingers through my hair again. “Where am I going to find paper so I can make a list? I’ve thought of a hundred things we’re going to need.”

“The desk in our room or the one in the study. Why didn’t you tell me you can sense when we’re lying?”

She smiled, but she felt embarrassed. “Well… at first it was because I was paranoid about it. Specifically, I thought the big, scary sheriff was lying to me…”

“When?”

“Your mind was a mess when I came to Fangtasia over the Long Shadow thing… Since I trusted the asshole at the time and he was filling my head with crap, I assumed the worst of the differences… Once I was around you more, I realized that… Well, the night we had the first skip, I was freaking out because the other you was like that too, but once we got to my house I realized that even though you hadn’t said much of anything, yours was too… Once I realized it wasn’t always lying that caused it, it kind of became a nonpoint.” Explaining why she mentioned that I’d been quiet… and probably added to how quickly her opinion of me shifted. She cleared her throat and sat sideways on my leg. “Your mind was like an anthill the night we left for New Orleans… Until… well, until you were on top of me… that’s all you were thinking about. One thing. You were so focused on my scent that your mind was completely still.”

“You didn’t start to trust me until I mauled you?”

She giggled. “How weird am I, right?” Usually, I’d call her unique… but weird unquestionably defined that situation.

“Does it bother you that I still have a million questions about your gift?”

“Not as long as you space them out. You’re only allowed one a night.”

I couldn’t help but smile at her. “You realize that would mean you’d have to be available to answer them for 2740 years, yes?”

She rolled her eyes and swayed her head from side to side playfully. “2739 years, 8 months and 19 nights, but who’s counting?”

“I’m going to have to turn you so that you can make good on your offer.”

She giggled, “You’re so pushy.”

She was at least joking about it again… Much better than the night before when she threatened to die… Even in jest, it was much better than the idea of losing her…

**

On Sookie’s suggestion, Hunter called Remy to tell him goodnight. He excitedly rattled about his new room and how quiet the house was. It had to be yet another blow to Remy’s ego for Hunter to not only be so excited to be away from him, but that someone else could so easily provide what he couldn’t.

The boy didn’t want a night light. He didn’t want the door to be left open… There wasn’t a readable mind within his range and that was more than enough… Sookie promised that she didn’t dream when she slept with me… No more than he had earlier. His eyes were blissfully closed before I walked out of the room.

As soon as the door closed behind us, I scooped Sookie up and dashed for my (soon to be ‘our’) room.

I’d gotten to the kitchen before she broke into a full laugh and told me to stop.

“Why?”

“Because I have something to do first.”

“No you don’t.”

She gave a halfhearted scowl after dodging a kiss. “It’ll only take a minute.”

“What needs to be done?”

“I need to start a load of laundry and grab my purse.”

“He has a change…”

“I don’t have a change of clothes though. I can’t wear this to run errands. I need to wash my tank top and shorts from earlier.”

I growled and set her down. “2 minutes. Go.”

She licked her lips, doing nothing to help me stay patient and ran down the stairs to my room. She was back with an armful of clothes in just a few seconds… She’d grabbed the clothes that Pam and I had been wearing last night along with her things.

When she bent over to look at the buttons on the front of the washer, I reached for the zipper on her dress.

She snickered, “I’ve been warned. This Dior is on loan from the ‘Ravenscroft Museum of High Fashion’. If you ruin this dress trying to get to me, Pam is going to have a pallet of Alpo sent to Flood, from me.”

“That makes ripping it more tempting.”

“That’s what I was afraid of. Don’t you get me in trouble.”

I pulled the zipper down slowly in spite of myself and started sliding the straps over her shoulders. “You push your luck as it is…”

As soon as Sookie started the washer, I grabbed her, pulling her against me to speed to my room… She giggled and called me impatient.

Two nights had been too long. She was lucky that I’d been as patient as I had…

My clothes. Her panties. We ripped and clawed until it was all left in ribbons along the way…

She called me impatient, but she was just as eager as I was.

Waiting wasn’t an option for either of us.

There was nothing playful or innocent…

We attacked one another.

Too much had happened since the last time we’d been together. Too much had kept us apart.

I was needy, depraved, holding her as tightly as I could without hurting her…

And doing my best to make sure everything in my room smelled like her…

No holding back…

The way her legs felt around my hips, her heels pulling me to her, bathing me in her scent and her heat…

It made me want to run away with her and keep her to myself.

All mine.

Nothing had ever tasted better.

Nothing had ever meant more.

Nothing had ever made me feel like Sookie did…

Breathing.

Throbbing.

I felt alive with her.

Through her.

I wasn’t ever going to let her go.

I couldn’t.

**

While I struggled to stop breathing, she trembled and curled into my side like she should’ve been the night before, her mood shifted. First was worry, then anger, then embarrassment… everything came to her as though each mood was being added to a blender and it happened in a matter of a minute or two. There wasn’t much time left before sunrise, but I didn’t want to ignore it. “You should be more calm. What’s wrong?”

“I can’t… I think this is more crazy than hanging out with my dead grandmother.” I couldn’t have been sure what she was talking about.

“Explain how that is possible.”

She laughed quietly through her nose and inched closer to me. “We just tucked a baby into bed together. I never figured I’d have kids and I’m going to take a stab in the dark and bet you didn’t either… So… somehow, me and you are going to end up raising a kid together.”

“It can’t be harder than being Pam’s maker… You’re taking to the idea of having him fairly well.”

“I had some Gran wisdom tonight… It could wear off though so watch out for that… Why are you so, I don’t know, cool about this?”

“I spent the early evening keeping him company… He’s smarter than Jason and I tolerate him.”

She raised her chin to look at me through narrowed eyes. “Bullshit.”

I should’ve known she wouldn’t let me leave it as a joke. “Even though I balked at the idea after our first ‘skip’… I like that better than trying… ‘Skip’ is a…”

She cleared her throat. “Stalling.”

“You’re being a brat.”

She giggled, “And you’re still stalling.”

“I’m not stalling… After our first skip I was leery. I couldn’t imagine why I’d be accepting of having a child around, but then again, nothing about the past week was anything I could have predicted. ‘He’ told me how important you’d be to me. He told me how unique your family is… He had his own misgivings about having the boy, but I saw for myself that everything seems to be working out for the best for everyone involved… I decided during the skip to not resist the situation when it came to us.” And that was before the phone call from Fangtasia when the other me described taking care of Hunter as a combination of duties… Not only was he feeling as though he was given the chance to prevent Hunter from having the same unhappy childhood as Sookie, but since I was turned while my children were still small, he likened the situation to a second chance at fatherhood… Of course, he’d explained that point while his Sookie was in the restroom, but I’d understood his sentiment nonetheless.

“What kind of misgivings did he have?”

“To begin with, I haven’t been around children since I was alive unless you count slaves. Also they were concerned that being around vampires would be frightening for the boy and since Hadley was sharing blood with the Queen while she was pregnant with him they were concerned that his ability could be heightened… they were all anxious about the adjustments.”

“His ability is stronger than I remember mine being. He doesn’t seem to get tired from using his shields as fast as I used to, he just can’t hold them for long without them slipping… Jake didn’t tell Remy much of anything until they caught up with Jason so he was scared of Jake until Jason thought to him that Jake was a ‘good guy’ and we’d explain the difference to him…  You’re really sweet with him.”

“Which one of us?”

She giggled. “Both of you… This Hunter likes Remy less now that he’s met you.”

“What about the other Hunter?”

“You’ve replaced his father according to Gran… He hasn’t thought about him since he got here. There. Hell, you know what I mean.”

“I do… And how is it that you’re so ‘cool’? You weren’t happy when Jason suggested that he stay with us.”

“We hadn’t decided to live together yet.”

My turn. Bullshit.”

She giggled and blew a raspberry. “I listened to Hunter’s thoughts for a while. He loves that we aren’t scared of him. That really hit home for me… And it took me a few minutes to remember something Gran told me… We talked about Hunter and how I hadn’t been asked to take care of him yet. I told her I wasn’t upset about it either because I had enough changes to deal with right now… she told me, ‘don’t be scared of change. Without change, there’d be no butterflies’.” She grinned as she cast a glance at her ring.

“So I have your grandmother to thank for not having to coerce you to move in with me, yes?”

“That helped, but I told you I was already thinking about it before the skip… All you had to do was bring it up.”

“Just because you wanted to live with me, doesn’t mean you’d have yielded without a fight.”

Of course, you’d have needed to wait until you could think of a good excuse for me to live here… Lord knows that you wouldn’t have just admitted that you missed me and risked your ‘hard-ass’ reputation by being sweet.”

“Excuse me! I did tell you that I missed you.”

“To add to your case for me to move because of Hunter’s…”

“Tell me that you wouldn’t have been stubborn without an excuse, an actual purpose.”

She raised an eyebrow. “I can’t say that.”

“You can be such a pain in the ass. Do you realize that you made fun of me for waiting for an excuse, when you were waiting for me to find one too?”

She giggled. “Yes. Do you realize that you just argued to point out that you were being sweet?” No… No I hadn’t… Fuck, maybe I had…

“Aren’t you tired?”

She laughed and stretched to give me a kiss as she left the bed. “Exhausted. I’m warning you now. I think today is going to be a Red Bull day.” The last thing I needed was to be in an unfamiliar city with that rattled feeling.

“Just make sure you eat during the day. You and Hunter should nap on the plane… What are you doing?”

“I’m grabbing my phone so I can text Alcide to bring Red Bulls and munchies for Hunter with him and I’m grabbing something for us to wear.”

“Why are we getting dressed?”

She snorted. “Uhhhh, so the 3 year old doesn’t come looking for one of us and get an eyeful. And don’t give me any crap about it. I know you’re not shy, but it’ll make me feel better.”

“I wasn’t going to give you any ‘crap’. I was curious. It didn’t occur to me.”

**

She was pulling on one of my T shirts and laughing that I only had one pair of pajama pants (and that the tag was still on them) when Pam knocked on the door.

“Cutting it a little close, aren’t you?” She might’ve had 10 minutes left before sunrise.

She shrugged. “I wasn’t happy to leave when I did either… How did the boy end up here?” At least she’d been there long enough to notice.

“He wanted to come back with us…”

Sookie corrected, “Him. Not us. It was all Eric.”

Pam grinned. “I’m not going to bother hiding how amusing it is that you’re telepath bait.”

Sookie snorted and slid back into the bed with me, leaving plenty of room for Pam. “As opposed to redneck man-slut bait?”

“I’m just in the mood for a change of equipment.”

“And the best part of that is since your fangs ran out when Remy called Jason a retarded asshole, you kind of forfeited your pocket full o’jibes about us.”

“It’s not like I’m moving in with him or anything.”

After a long yawn, Sookie cooed, “Of course not. Is it scientific, like Dian Fossey? Maybe instructive like Annie Sullivan…?”

I started laughing, “Maybe agricultural like George Washington Carver?”

Sookie shook against me while she laughed, “Good luck with his peanut sized brain!”

“I don’t think those are the nuts Pam’s interested in.”

Pam turned around in a sulk. “I’m going to go die in the back yard now…”

Sookie laughed, “I’m just kidding! Y’all are having fun. That’s all I care about. I’ll drop it. Promise.” She gave Sookie a skeptical look over her shoulder. “Really. Get changed and get into bed so I don’t have to move you.”

Pam begrudgingly trudged to her luggage and changed into one of her many silk robes since Sookie explained why she wasn’t allowed to ‘sleep’ nude with a child in the house.

Pam carefully (comically) arranged her hair on her pillow as though someone would care about what she looked like when she died. “This is more awkward than I thought it would be. It reeks of sex and blood in here. How long before my house is…?”

I groaned. “Are we whining? Poor Pam has to wait for a free house. Honestly… You’ll move when we return from Dallas.”

“Yes, I’m whining. I’m sharing a bed with the funny little bitch that put used stockings on me while I was dead… and the clown who thinks it was hilarious.”

“Sookie is going to be too busy to play any practical jokes today. Shut up.”

“You shut up. You’re the one who told me to keep my resting place private.”

“And if you had listened, you could die in your own house.”

“Go ahead. I know you want to say it.” Of course I did.

“I told you so.”

“You’re not funny.”

“I’m not trying to be funny, Pam…”

Sookie started laughing about needing to separate us and moved to kiss me. Knowing how much more awkward Pam would feel made it that much more enjoyable even if Sookie was just trying to break up the bickering. I rolled away from Pam, wrapping myself around Sookie, coveting her and returning the kiss… Pam complained the whole time, but by the time I felt Pam die for the day, all I wanted was more of Sookie.

“Don’t wash this shirt. I’m wearing it tonight.”

She grinned and whispered against my lips, “Normally, I’d put up a fight, but I owe you one.”

“Oh really? What do you owe me for?”

She ran her finger along my jaw and kissed my cheek. “You took me to see to my Gran. Thank you.”


Last Chapter   Story Home   Next Chapter

55 thoughts on “Chapter 20: 2740

  1. This was a good chapter. I love how different everything is but still the same. I am glad that one version of Hunter will still know his father, only poor Hunter not getting a father that isn’t afraid of him. Oh well, can’t have it all. Hunters enthusiasm is so cute. I love how easy Eric is with him. Thanks for the update and everything else you put up for our enjoyment. Have a great week.

  2. I don’t think for a minute you missed us more. I have been looking everyday for you. I was worried you had stopped writing due to the new CH book. All I will say is I am not a fan. You, I love! This was a great chapter. I am so glad they are moving in and taking Hunter. Can’t wait for more. I am sorry to hear about the “infinite” series I was enjoying that. But I was glad to hear that BTD was going to have a sequel.

  3. To be happy that you’re leaving your Dad is so sad… Can’t wait to see what Hadley gets coming to her.

  4. I have to ask if Swerenger’s goons are a nod to Deadwood? Loved the chapter as always. So glad for the update. I was really starting to show signs of withdraw. Oh BTW, I would like to point out I love your Sookie’s so much more then the real Sookie. After reading the last book I was reminded that I never really have liked her that much.

      • Ahh ok. The Swerenger from Deadwood was way cooler. No ass kissin at all. He was more likely to feed you to the pigs.

  5. I cannot get enough of this story. I LOVED Hunter in this chapter. Please keep working that voodoo magic that keeps us all coming back for more.

  6. Thank you for writing this story and for updating. I’ve missed it!

    This way of getting Hunter is so much better, in my opinion. It’s nice that he gets to live and see his son grow even though he’s scared of him *for now*. Hadley is such a hateful bitch! Her own son?! She should get a more durable ‘attitude adjustment’.

    I can’t wait for the next chapter of this and the sequels that are to come. on all your stories. addicted. ’nuff said.

    xoxo
    Gaby

  7. Lovely. I love that Eric is telepath bait. Though of course, thinking that just get’s me grrring about the most recent book. Explain that to Barry, Charlaine!

  8. I’m so incredibly addicted to this story that it’s crazy. Thanks for sharing another great story. I love all the what ifs and how different everything can be. How about a what if where Hadley was never with the Queen? Maybe she died of an overdose early on. Or what if Remy took Hunter to the police in one of the skips? Last one, what if, in one of the skips, this S/E find themselves King and Consort of the King!!! That would be fun.

  9. I loved this chapter, not only are they back to a good place, their family is growing, and they have decided to live together. Love Pam having Hunter in her lap, I can envision her face, and the fact that Hunter is so enthralled with Eric. Your stories are the best, have missed you and checked everyday to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.

  10. So, so, so good! I can’t stand it. I have the new book and I’d rather read more of this…. As always, thanks for writing.

  11. I liked this chapter. I am happy that Hunter found his way to them. Pam does not know how much she is going to become attached to Hunter does she. I feel bad for Remy but it will work out in the end for him, he will still be able to see his son and they might just get along better becasue of Eric. It was sweet how Eric took to Hunter and they bonded just not by blood. I am waitingto see Alcide take on all this and what is going on…… until the next chapter thank you Kristie

  12. Great chapter! They are always worth the wait. I love Hunter in this version, he is such a sweet kid. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us next!

  13. O sweet Chapter. we get Hunter, more insight into the ‘gift’, lemon, and comedy O YOU REALLY KNOW HOW TO DELIVER 🙂 TY SO MUCH FOR THE UPDATE… Made my Day… now to read it again 🙂

  14. I have to agree with everyone, i loved it and have missed you!!

    Oh and the fella from Deadwood was Swearengen(White Cocksucka… YOU! SWIDGEN! ) – said by Mr. Wu see memorable quotes, funny stuff Deadwood Quotes

  15. My withdrawls were not pretty this past week….. can I say that after reading your stories with your sookie and Eric I couldn’t get into book 11. I was unhappy (at best) with that book. I HATE that Sookie. This Sookie rocks though….and Eric with Hunter is uber cute. And Pam and Jason-yea!@

  16. Delightful. I hate to say it but it seems to me the Hadley of this reality will need to be put down at some point. She’s absolutely vicious. I can’t imagine even a vampire wanting to kill her own child. The rest was awesome, too. As for ideas for skips, I just got off work so my brain isn’t firing on all cylinders. I’ll just wait for what you come up with.

  17. I love the skips and how Sookie and Eric work out the differences.What if in one skip Remy is accepting of Hunters ability and seeks out Sookie and Jason to try to help Hunter learn some control.What if in one skip Alcides out at Sookies house remoldeling per Gran and saves Sookie from Compton stealing her for her telepathy by hearing Compton giving orders to someone in the woods and convinces her to go to the vampire sheriff for her own protection. Great chapter.

  18. Very interesting what Hunter said about vampire minds getting swirly especially since said Sookie didn’t recognize it at first… since Bill’s was always swirly because he lied to her so much. *lol* when they were talking about raising a kid together and Eric said “I can’t be harder than being Pam’s maker…”. Great chapter. Thanks for the update.

  19. I love both of your stories that “SKIP” across each other. I am glad that BTD is going to have a sequel. I am very invested in your chacters. I am sorry that Remy is afraid of Hunter. That is sad. There are a lot of parents that are afraid of their childern for many reasons. It is not so unheard of. My son was one of those kids (he lit my bed on fire when I was sleeping in it when he was 4 years old. It burnt to the springs. I took it outside of course. Things are fine now that he is grown). Of course you know there are parents that kill their kids and you don’t have to be a vamp to do it. I do believe that maybe it would have been for the best if her head had been taken by Waldo. She will have to be delt with. Sophie-Anne loves her too much to do it so once again Eric will have to step in to do the deed. I am looking forward to how Stan reacts to Hunter. I bet he will charm the Dallas vamps. Eric is smart to not hide him. It makes it harder for someone to come at him.All I can say is I love ya and write fast.

  20. I really like this story but I have to say it was a bit confusing in the beginning because I couldn’t remeber what happened in the previous chapter

  21. Awesome chapter. After reading that I have to say about Hadley, bitch needs to die, finally die, the big die. I can’t believe she was going to harm her own child just to make Sookie suffer. She’s got some nerve blaming Sookie for Gran being dead in there world, if she would have kept her big mouth and loose legs shut, Bill would never have been sent to Bon temps to scout her out. Can’t wait to read what happens next.

  22. Great update. love the growing family and Hunter’s ready acceptance of his new situation. you say you missed our reviews more than we missed your updates… NO WAY! i checked your site twice a day for the past week – i missed your stories very much 🙂

  23. Love all the Al Swearingen references from Deadwood. When you get some downtime, take a peek at it. I think you would like it. Good story lines and strong characters (even women, considering the time period).

    Okay, if it were my child, I’d figure out a way to stay with him. I’m just sayin’, a person can grow. I’m surprised Remy didn’t ask to stay with Hunter, in Eric’s house. Maybe that can be a “what if”… It would do Remy good to see Hunter’s gift appreciated, as it is within the Vampire community. He wouldn’t need to be so worried about Hunter exposing his gift in an embarrassing or ill-timed way. Would be interesting if he could help Paulette be Eric’s day person, or if he became some kind of construction project lead for Eric. Maybe on the replacement Sheriff’s offices …

    I’ve always felt like Remy got stuck with something he didn’t want – not that he didn’t want Hunter. Would be good to see him come into his own, with Hunter in his life.

    I was glad to see Sookie and Eric regain their stride. Things just aren’t right when they aren’t right with each other.

    Gotta love Pam: “You two are so disgustingly sweet that you’ve made me the world’s first diabetic vampire…” Can’t wait to see her get all sappy with Hunter. And, will she get even sappier when she sees Jason with Hunter? lol

    Loved that Jake was brave, even if he was leery of Alcide. Loved that Sookie put Jackson in his place. Loved that even the Weres are seeing the value in Sookie’s gift.

    I’m so glad you posted. I too wondered if you got tangled up in Depressed!Sookie. Now I have to go read your other chapter. Love ya!

  24. Glad that they got Hunter, so sad that Remy is scared of him but too cool that he is so attached to Eric. Pam and Jason make me laugh. Thanks forth update bit was amazing.

  25. Am I a doofus? I just can’t figure out the 2740 reference of the chapter title. Love the chapter. Oh BTW its great that when you did your website revision a while back that all your chapter names were included in the story links – chapter names really add something I think.

  26. There were too many kinds of cute in this chapter and I was giggling most of the way through. Hunter was completely precious and I loved that Eric was so cool with taking him on after the ‘skip’. I have to hope that Remy will get better around Hunter, but I can see him backing out of their visits more often than not… I dunno, I guess I just wish that all kids were treated well and had nothing to be scared of from their parents.
    You had some really great lines in this chapter – I loved the diabetic vampire comment, and the argument about whether E was sweet or not. Can’t wait for moving day though! 🙂
    Thanks so much for the chapter (s) and you did a great job on the vid too! So creative! How often have you thought about publishing some of your fics with original characters – because I think you could do really really well… I’d buy it 😀

  27. GREAT Chapter!!! I was wondering about the title 2740 – I loved what it meant and how you worked it into the story.
    Hunter was great – very endearing.
    I love reading this story. I feel as though I’m entering a new world every time I start reading the next chapter.

  28. Couldn’t have missed us more than we missed you! Nun ya! Nope.

    Don’t make us send Alpo to Alcide and mark it from you. Or target coupons to Pam. Or a blood donation card to Sookie, sent via Eric….the possibilities are endless so you better keep writing, you hear? Don’t make us do anything drastic…. 😉

    I loved it, it was sweet, clever, sexy and heart wrenching. Pure Ericizmine.

    Hey, it’s not like you have a lot to do, you could write prank one shots! We could even donate to charity to get ‘our’ idea written…

    The Canine Defence League in the name of Mr A Herveaux

    Help the Aged in the name of Ms. P Ravenscroft

    Overeaters anonymous in the name of Eric Gehry Northman and Sookie Stackhouse 🙂

    I could go all night, just like the Viking….

    We could send him a year’s supply of Viagra, signed Bill Compton (okay that would have to be AIW, SS or ICB) 🙂

    • You are very entertaining but, where did Eric “Gehry” come from. Did I sleep thru something? In all the stories I have read I have never heard of that name and don’t know what you mean by it.

  29. awesome chapter, i really love how this story meshes with the other, Alcide had some good views about the skips, and I love how you wrote Hunter!!!just innocently blurts out he can tell when amps are lieing, perfect, so adorable

  30. Thanks sooo much for the update! It was a great chapter, I love the Huhnter/Eric relationship. Can’t wait for more, and a new AIW!!?

  31. oh man, I just love this story! I am so glad Sookie has moved in with Eric and Hunter will live with them. I can’t express how excited I am about Hunter loving Eric, it is just so sweet. I think you can’t possibly miss us as much as we miss you, however. Your story plays with my emotions and my brain; I’m all stirred up! Thank you so much.

  32. Really good chapter! I’m glad Pam and Jason are still “together” I’d love to see more of them together. Eric and Sookie teasing her about it at the end was very cute. I’m glad Hunter has joined them too. I’m looking forward to the Dallas trip. The way things are different but the same is going to mean this will be a very interesting trip. I really love your stories!!!!

  33. Poor Remy I kind of feel bad for him but then not at the same time. Why would hearing thoughts make you child a monster?

    I love Eric being on the DL about really wanted to be Hunter’s fath er (at least figure). He just a big Viking softie! *itching to pinch his cheeks*

  34. First off I want to say that I’m truley sorry to hear about the “infinite” series but I definitely understand and I LOVED this chapter the way that Sookie and Eric are in this story is awesome I like the “alternate” story line I can’t wait to read more.

  35. I did not see this whole twist with Hunter coming, but I love it! What a great play on the Hunter/Hadley story line. I am also really digging the Pam/Jason action. So funny! Pam getting all defensive and protective of Jason is something I never would have anticipated, but you make it work seamlessly. This story is SO perfect!

  36. Love that no matter the “altverse” you write, the Hunter and Eric relationship is so cool!
    Like others, I wish your “infinite” series would continue –it was what endeared me so to your writing! I love the savvy, smart Sookie you write and your Eric PoV are some of the best written out there. That’s why I like Meantime and Bored to Death so much –you are da bomb when it comes to Eric…..
    Hope your muse will come back from an extended vacation; rested and ready to go and maybe you can continue/finish the Infinite Series –I love your Super Sookie in that one and there are still butts to kick….

    Pat

  37. I started reading this as soon as I finished Bored to Death on ff.net. The fact that I came here to read the spinoff (I never read anything that isn’t on ff) is a testament to your writing. I’m loving this, and loved BTD far more than the last couple of Southern Vamp Mysteries. While I love them both, I prefer BTD, but maybe because it’s the happier less angsty version of Meanwhile. Are you still planning on writing the sequel? I hope you do, and know that you will have at least one reader who is like Sookie on Red Bull for updates, or even better, the posting of the sequel.

  38. I love how long your chapter are. It’s like getting a bunch at once. Always worth the wait. I loved the imaage of Hunter curled up against Eric’s chest during the meeting. It really would be a hystarical addition.

  39. oh how i missed you, this was a wonderful update, i always love your hunter interactions, and cant wait to read more 🙂

  40. Great chapter as always! Who doesn’t love “sexy Viking father figure Eric”!!!!
    Great introduction for Hunter, damn Hadley to the deepest parts of a special kind of HELL! So she hates Sookie more than she loves her own son. WOW

    I was a little confused with the “skips” at first, but I like that Sookie got to see Gran again, and I loved how Gran compared the two Sookies. I’m still trying to figure out which one I like the best.

    “what if” Sookie and Jason were already vampires when they met Eric and Pam. They first meet “douche bag Bill” who informs them they have to check in with the “Sheriff” of area 5.

    “what if” and I say this with a small grimace, but Bill is a nice guy and killed Rene before he killed Gran. He has to inform Eric of his actions and explains about the gifts of the Stackhouse family. Bill and Lorena are happily married, and they take Gran, Jason, Hadley, and Sookie to meet Eric. They are all one big happy family.

    Just some thoughts. I really enjoy your stories and can’t wait to see what happens next.

  41. Loved this chapter. Alcide makes me laugh. I love that he and Eric share such a sadistic sense of humor. I’m glad that Alcide made the cut for Sookie’s guard in this story!

    Poor Hunter. I can’t imagine what it would feel like knowing that my own parents were scared of me. And then to find out that his own mother was threatening his life. At least now he has Eric, Sookie, and the rest of the gang to protect him and to make him feel loved. Eric is turning in to such a softie! It’s so sweet.

    Pam is such a fun character. Her and Jason together is rather amusing.

    You do such a great job of dialogue between the characters. I could read your stories all day long and never get tired.

  42. I laugh out loud and enjoy your writing so much that I haven’t slept in a couple of days and my dog is getting annoyed that I keep waking her up by laughing so loudly in the middle of the night that I shake the bed! 🙂 Great chapter!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s