Rising was interesting, to say the least…
Instead of spending the moments as I came back to myself, guessing about who was in the house and what they were doing, I rose to the sensations Sookie caused.
First it was her scent, her usually sweet freshness…
Then it was her weight, only across my thighs where she was straddling me with the comforter between us…
And then it was her smile when I opened my eyes… Greeting me by leaning over to give me an all too brief kiss.
Given that Gawain was in his bed only a few feet away, I couldn’t think of a more enjoyable way to rise.
“Good evening. The girls are back. They’re chomping at the bit to see you. They want to talk your ear off… They brought presents for everyone.”
It surprised me how happy I was to see them again… If for no better reason than having more adults in the house.
I nodded. “That’s good to hear, but Misty’s unhappy about something.”
Sad and irritated, to be specific.
Sookie cringed. “Yeah… That’s what happens when they see their mother… Poor Jenny’s been near tears since she walked through the door. She’s terrified to let herself get attached to Hope because she knows Hadley can change her mind about letting me adopt her… They hate talking to her at all because they’re worried Hadley will get a wild hair and want them back.”
Gawain asked, “Have you ever caught them wanting to return to Hadley?”
Sookie frowned and shook her head. “No… The closest was Jenny. When she heard about Leif and Minerva, she was jealous that those Hadleys are good moms. And there’s a Hunter and Chloe who are happy, but they spend most of their time being spoiled by Sophie-Anne.”
He raised an eyebrow in my direction. “Did you say Leif?”
Sookie nodded. “Saint Leif of Stackhouse. The family loves Erik to death, pun intended. And the Daddy thinks the moon shines out of his ass. They named the baby after him and the only reason Erik didn’t argue was because of how pissed Pam was. Leif is a stupid name… She suggested they have more children and name them Weed, Mud and Compost.”
Gawain rolled his eyes and chuckled, “She was always such a snob about names… I want a copy of the journal. It sounds like an interesting read.”
Sookie raised an eyebrow. “I suppose that depends on how nice you can be… I might be willing to give you an entry or two at a time.”
I wasn’t sure if she was just being difficult because of how asinine his behavior had been, but it was perfect… Whether she realized it or not, she was buying time for me to hear more details so I wouldn’t be surprised by any questions he might have.
Trying to move things along, I asked, “Are you warning us about the nature of the girls’ gifts? Did they buy a silver ball gag for Gawain?”
“Wouldn’t that be nice? No… I need you to get your pretty ass downstairs because I’m not allowed to have my gift until everyone else gets theirs. C’mon.”
When she took my hands to begin pulling my arms, so much time before the sun was fully set, I laughed, “You’re going to have to wait just a bit longer… Use the time by telling me about your busy work. Did Miles arrive safely? Is Hadley behaving? Did Isabel’s references check out?”
Knowing I wouldn’t venture downstairs quite yet, she jokingly scoffed, “Lazy… I woke Hadley up to feed her and she took a pill and smoked a joint. She’s been out like a light ever since… And Miles is such a goon. He’s in love with the local wildlife. He’s pouting that a bald eagle got away from him. He’s found a nutria, a gray fox, two kinds of squirrel, three kinds of king snake, a whitetail buck and a raccoon. He’s brought them all to the porch to have me identify them.”
I could only imagine… the idea of Miles wrestling a deer to bring it to the house.
“Of course he did. He was flown from the Netherlands to start a Louisiana zoo exhibit.”
She giggled, “He came by them honestly. He’s been watching the property from the graveyard.”
“He found that many animals so close to the house?”
“They’re all harmless, but I wasn’t kidding when I said this land is really secluded. The only neighbor died last year and we don’t use the flophouse but a couple of times a year. Daddy only really comes by after big storms… so technically, we’re on their turf. Miles is lovin’ it. Daddy offered to put him up for the night, because this house is practically busting at the seams, but Miles asked for a tent. He wants to camp out… Oh, and he’s not a fan of American breakfast sausage and our beer is a joke, but he loved the Mufaletta I made for lunch… How many kids do I have again?”
I chuckled, “The important thing is that he doesn’t think Louisiana is a horrible place. Perhaps he’ll be willing to travel with you when you return for your Easter visit.”
She tilted her head to the side slightly and offered, “Maybe… so, other than playing ‘Name That Species’, I spent the early afternoon bouncing back and forth between calls from the bookstore and searching for confirmations on the references Isabel gave you. I actually found a query board looking for one of Isabel’s aliases. Apparently her New York step-children thought she was their real mother. She has ‘grandkids’ looking for information about her.”
Gawain snorted, “I can’t help but be curious about how they’d react to hearing their parents were raised by a Vampire.”
Sookie nodded, “I know, right… I was curious enough to start looking through the ‘lost relatives’ listings. I found one website called Vamp-connect. You’ll never guess who we traced the site back to.”
“The one, the only, shit breathing ass dragon.”
I chuckled, “Compton’s little hobby. The computer program that was responsible for so much nonsense… it has a skip-sibling?”
She giggled as she explained for Gawain. “Compton started idly making a Vampire family tree. Makers and children, just to remedy boredom. He managed to talk it up until his database was treated like some kind of Rosetta Stone. The whole thing became a debacle and nearly got a few Sookies killed.”
I added, “It’s all very impressive until you know a four-year old amassed a more impressive list with a laptop and a genealogy program. Hunter didn’t just record Makers and children, but managed to find several generations of Human records as well.”
Sookie corrected, “Technically, it was two four-year olds. Another Hunter started tracking Vampires birthplaces. All of the info is available in the journals so August and September can pass it back and forth. When those Hunters saw a copy of the ‘VDB’ they laughed. A lot of Compton’s entries were word of mouth. Hunters’ info was straight from the horse’s mouth. Case in point, Eric is listed as ‘approximately 1000 years old, Scandinavian in origin’. Hunters’ files say Eric was ‘turned in 1046 at the age of 24 in Gamla Uppsala’. And there’s a little notation about the accuracy of the year because that could be off as much as a decade. Calendar differences between regions and whatnot. One of the Hunters actually called a calendar expert about how much wiggle room there is with dates. Apparently, Pam’s three years younger than she thought she was.”
Gawain asked, “Hunter is one of Hadley’s children, yeah? Misty in male form?”
Sookie nodded. “Sort of… I’m dying to meet him. I think he’s more like Jenny though. Introspective, inquisitive, compassionate… just with less battle scars. In most cases, he was raised by his Human father who was freaked out by his ability, but he wasn’t mistreated, just misunderstood.”
“What about you? No one has any fondness for your mother.”
Sookie shrugged. “She drank too much to have great aim. Heavy handed spankings were the extent of things. They stopped when I was twelve.”
“Twelve? Did you mark the calendar or did something happen?”
Sookie rolled her eyes up and sighed before starting, “She kept me home from school to take care of Cal Jr. because he wouldn’t let her near him…”
“An ailing Were?”
“He’s only half, but he’s never had more than a cold… It was a broken ankle. He was sitting on the floor playing Atari and she stepped on him while sauced, go figure… Anyway… I mixed my mother’s breakfast, gin and tonic, too weak. She dumped the drink on me and called me stupid… I punched her, I mean dotted her eye… She sent me to my room and waited for Calvin to get home from work. She shoved one of his belts into his hand as soon as he was out of his truck and told him to deal with me… I felt like I was walking to the electric chair when he called me to the living room. He asked me what happened, and when I was finished, he gave me permission to fight back… She backhanded me for manipulating him with ‘doe eyes’. We ended up in an honest-to-God fist fight that ended in Calvin pulling me off of her because I had her in a choke hold. And then we went out for pizza without her. She never laid a hand on any of us again. To go a step further, she gave us all a wide berth… That was the day our mother died, when Calvin let her know her place in our lives. When we got home from dinner, he signed over Mom’s car to Jason so he could take us to and from school and errands. He moved his things to the den. Within a week, the bank sent a new box of checks with my name where hers used to be so I could take over… She was just a boarder from that point on.”
Gawain asked, “Why not just divorce or kill her?”
“She would have tried to take us with her. He wasn’t worried about losing Cal Jr, but he knew he’d have lost me and Jason. We’d been a family for too long by then. I mean, he’d been Daddy’s best friend for a while before Gran died, and that was when I was eight…”
I interrupted, “He knew your father before your grandmother passed?”
She nodded. “Yeah. My parents had been on the rocks for a while before I was born. When they separated, my mother got a job answering phones at Calvin’s shop… She wasn’t drinking as much back then. Calvin thought she was just a social drinker.”
If the other Sookie hadn’t stressed how important Adele’s death had been in Her family’s timeline, I would have urged her to tell me more about Pam.
“That’s the difference. The one you mentioned last night. The other Sookie’s parents were still married when Adele passed. Adele had taken Her home after she sat with Sookie and Jason. Corbett and Michelle had been to some sort of counseling session.”
Her eyes lit up. “Good catch! For me, Gran was on her way to Daddy’s house. She used to go over and clean for him. She was bored after she retired. Mystery solved!”
She leaned over, hovering on her hands and knees to kiss me… My reward for remembering a detail from a five hour drive with my first visitor…
Gawain snorted, “Sorry to interrupt…” No, he wasn’t. “What are ‘doe eyes’?”
She moved to sit back, taking extra care to settle comfortably, and sighed, “A pitiful look…”
“No. I know what they are. I meant what do yours look like?”
“I wasn’t using doe eyes on Calvin. I swear. Even he’ll tell you. I was too pissed to use them.”
“Yes, yes, but what do they look like? I need to see.”
I chuckled, “No you don’t. They’re devastating.”
Devastating enough to keep me from making her scream the night before. If it hadn’t been for those eyes, she’d have no modesty left.
She gasped and slapped my chest with both hands. “How would you know!? I haven’t used them on you!”
“You did. Just last night. I’d be willing to suggest they’re part of your allure, perhaps an inkling of Gawain’s seed ability to manipulate, but that would require research I’m not willing to take part in.”
“OH. MY. GOD! I haven’t manipulated you! I haven’t even tried! If I could, we wouldn’t have argued like we have!”
“I’m not suggesting you’ve done anything intentionally… Gawain, how many people did your exact bidding before you realized there was something more than your charisma at work?”
He rolled away from us to face the wall and chuckled, “I’m not here. I’m not part of this.”
Sookie blurted, “HA! He knows you’re wrong, but he doesn’t want to say it.”
I countered, “He’s never had a problem contradicting me. Perhaps he’s afraid you’ll turn the doe eyes on him.”
“I wasn’t even looking at you! We were both staring at the ceiling!”
“Not then. Not while we were on the sofa. Once we came upstairs… I’ll go as far as to suggest I’ve seen you use those eyes against Allecks.”
She gasped and slapped my chest again. “I. HAVE. NOT!”
“When I first drove to Bern, Allecks manhandled the other Sookie and was livid until She made eye contact with him. He calmed immediately.”
“He’s normally a rational guy. I told you he’s pretty even-tempered.”
“He was upset by the idea of you visiting the States until you made eye contact with him… He calmed instantly then as well… Yet somehow your phone call last night became heated.”
“He was being an egomaniacal turd…”
“Without your influence.”
“I’m going to kick your ass.”
“That could prove to be difficult since you’re sitting on my cock… In fact, now that I think about it… Gawain…”
“Not here, remember?”
“Can you think of a time I would have cared if someone overheard…?”
He growled and held a hand up. “If you insist on including me, I’m only willing to keep score. Five-naught, Eric’s favor.”
Sookie yelled, “FIVE!?”
“Twice with Allecks that Eric mentioned. Eric mentioned once with him, but I witnessed your influence over him after you interrupted our argument…”
“That’s only four.”
“The pilot… He didn’t look at you for a while, but once he did, he was easily convinced that the asphalt wasn’t much different from a tarmac. Five. Carry on.”
“It would have worked on Merlotte.”
I offered, “He was mesmerized by your nipples… As the Packmaster was preoccupied by your cleavage last night…”
Gawain snorted, “Seven.”
Sookie argued, “If I could manipulate people that easily then why won’t you shut up?”
“Because you aren’t calm. You aren’t trying to influence my opinion with rational facts. That’s what you were doing in the other cases I witnessed…” I thought better of continuing to argue and called the girls.
Sookie slapped my ribs and moved to the bed. “If y’all are going to use my kids against me, put pants on… Asshats.”
Gawain left his bed to pull a pair of jeans on and tossed my pair from the floor to me. He added, “You were facing Eric when you put yourself between us. You calmed him… It wasn’t until later, when you were facing me, that I listened to what you had to say.”
She scowled at him and snapped, “If you’re just taking score, then shut up and count.”
“I am. I’m eight… It’s a little more than basic allure, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s an ability… You aren’t forcing anyone to do anything outside their nature, perhaps just… Could you be drawing out their rationale? It could be possible for your allure to be strong enough that your subject’s mentality is drawn to the surface… The Shifter became more feral. The Were became dumber. Isabel was enjoying her staged test until she was in the room with you, and then she was quite professional. I wonder… What would the score be in other strands? If presented with the new theory, how many Erics would have a list of instances when someone was more enthusiastic to listen to Sookie’s perspective than they would be towards anyone else?”
Sookie reached for the light switch to turn on a small lamp on the dresser, while I pulled my jeans on and sat on the side of the bed just in time for a light rap on the door.
Lindy cracked the door and squeezed through the smallest opening she could, sparing us from the ambient light in the hallway. Misty and Jenny mimicked her careful behavior… but the light was already so blue she probably could have left it open. The wooded area surrounding the house seemed to be useful for more than just a habitat for wildlife…
All three of the girls came directly to me for a hug.
So bizarre… to have anyone so pleased to see me.
After a round of eager greetings that included the unanimous opinion that they’d enjoyed their visit, but missed me, Misty took the floor by asking, “So what’s up that you didn’t wait another half hour until the sun sets?”
“Why do you assume I want something?”
She rolled her eyes and sat next to Gawain to face me. “Because I’m smarter than the average blonde. What’s up?”
While Lindy and Jenny settled between Sookie and me, I explained, “We’re amidst a debate… Can any of you think of an instance when Sookie might have been controlling someone’s mood or practically glamouring them?”
The girls shared knowing glances and Lindy huffed, “It’s about time. We were starting to think it was just us.”
Sookie shrieked, “Y’all too!?”
Jenny nodded and snickered, “We kinda noticed when you got us. Aren’t judges supposed to listen to both sides?”
Lindy added, “You and Pappa only ever argue on the phone, but he… He says he can’t stay mad at you… And you managed to convince him that you needed to be alone last week. Mommy, he’s a doctor. He knew you needed to be monitored, but he still gave his flat to you.”
A doctor? Unfortunately, I was going to have to wait to ask about that.
Misty snorted, “Come on… the neighbors let you mediate about leaves from a tree their parents have been fighting over…” She looked at me and said, “The difference in you is a no-brainer, but are we talking about other Sookies?”
Before I could answer, Gawain nodded. “Yes, please do.”
“K. How about the Sookies who do those clinics? They’ve got Vampires from all over trusting them. Not just with pets either. There’s a few who brought their children to her. Whose business is Maker/child business? That’s right. No one. Joe Blow off the street tries to interfere and they find themselves the subject of a newspaper article about the importance of carbon monoxide detectors. Sookie Stackhouse pulls a two thousand-year old Vampire aside and tells her to watch her ass as far as her progeny’s concerned, and she gets tipped with a platinum and diamond choker… There’s the one who made a mountain of money selling cars, mostly convincing young single soldiers from Barksdale how good they look behind the wheels of their new whatevers… From what we can tell, she can kind of turn off people’s feelings so they can focus on facts… Like she can make smart people stop to see logic, but stupid people just get worse. Like that Compton knob and that Tiger who doesn’t get what ‘buzz off’ means.”
If I didn’t feel so vindicated I might have laughed at the way Misty presented her evidence.
Sookie argued, “And what’s your theory on why Eric and I had such a rocky start?”
Misty stared at Lindy for a moment before Lindy sighed, “Because you felt bad for him and you were upset on your own. It wasn’t until he was crappy enough that you stopped sympathizing and started trying to think of him as a puzzle you refused to give up on solving that he started listening to you. You don’t even like having anyone feel sorry for you and you still went at him like a hug therapist at first. When you stopping being all sweet and sensitive and put your thinking cap on, that’s when he responded.”
Fuck. Dead on. Perfectly explained.
Sookie snorted and folded her arms. “You’re all grounded.”
Misty rolled her eyes. “Pshhhh, shut up. What’s the big deal? I mean, it’s not like you can glamour or push… Wait. Is that what they’re getting at?”
I shook my head. “No. I was only suggesting there’s more to her allure than she once thought. Everyone seems to focus on her telepathy. She mentioned being accused of using doe eyes.”
Misty nodded. “Those are badass, but it’s more of a ‘please, don’t kill my puppy’ look… That’s not the same thing.”
Without knocking, Richard and Edward entered the room… Richard sprawled out next to Gawain and Edward laid on my bed, pulling Jenny down to use her as a pillow…
While she giggled, he groaned, “You should get a bouncer and decide on a cover charge if you’re going to keep having parties in here… What are we all going on about?”
Misty offered, “The difference between Sookie’s ‘take me seriously’ face and her ‘Oliver Twist’ face.”
“What about the ‘where’s my fork’ face? That’s the one I’m watching for.”
I offered, “She’s making it now… She’s not pleased that I’m suggesting she could have been manipulating people all along without realizing it.”
“If she didn’t realize it, I’d hardly call it manipulating. Perhaps ‘swaying’, but manipulation is an art. I’ve only ever seen you accomplish it without detection. Sneaky prick.”
“Thank you… See, Sookie, even Edward knows there’s a difference. Can you really be annoyed…?”
She interrupted, “Hell yes I can be annoyed! Do you know how many times I’ve been treated like crap for irrational horse shit!? My in-laws! My God! If I’d known all along, I probably would have tried to reason with them instead of calling them ‘Herr and Frau Ass-Face’!”
Jenny giggled, “She really did. To their faces and everything.”
I was still chuckling when I began, “So to be clear… You aren’t angry that I noticed. You’re angry at… hindsight?”
She nodded. “Twenty-twenty my ass! What’s your eyesight? 1000/20? That’s closer. I’ve walked away from so many arguments thinking there was no point in trying… wanting to pull my hair out…”
“But you’ve clearly walked away from enough debates victoriously to give you that arrogance you wear like an accessory.”
She gasped, “That’s the pot calling the kettle black! You’re lucky there’s a kid between us!”
Lindy snorted and moved to sit on Gawain’s leg. “Don’t put me in the middle of this.”
Misty left Gawain’s bed to sit on my knee. “If that’s neutral territory, I’m picking sides… Jesus Sookie, you act like being a telepath doesn’t trump having a trivial amount of influence over people. How many times have you told me to gage my opponent? You can’t be pissed if you forgot to follow your own advice. If you make stupid assholes, bigger stupid assholes…”
Sookie huffed, “Could you pretend to care that I don’t like it when you cuss?”
“I usually do. It’s not like I shout random cuss-words. At least I use them in context. Anyway… If you can make rational people more rational, then no amount of the serious-face would have helped the mouthy window-lickers. Better?”
“Yes. Thank you.”
Gawain chuckled, “I think Misty’s doing it.”
Yes, yes she was. She was calmly rationalizing while concentrating on making eye contact…
She beamed. “Cookie for you.”
He blurted, “Finally!” After a moment of reveling in earning his first cookie, he continued, “I still want to see Sookie’s doe eyes.”
Richard mumbled, “Doe eyes? Is that the Oliver Twist thing or is that like DSEs?”
Diez y seis? Diez y siete? What the fuck was that? DSEs?
Sookie gasped and tossed a pillow at Richard. “Oliver Twist!”
Since the girls were all giggling like they knew what DSE stood for, I asked, “What are DSEs?”
Richard opened his mouth to answer, but Sookie darted across the narrow aisle between beds to cover his mouth and bark, “Not around the children!”
Not bothering to resist her attack, he chuckled, “Gawain was the one asking. I had to be sure. I abbreviated it.”
Misty snorted, “Hadley’s a ho. Do you really think we don’t know?”
If that was the case… “I have a feeling you’re lucky this conversation isn’t happening near access to forks.”
Since Edward’s mouth wasn’t covered, he offered, “DSEs and DSLs are fundamental to…”
He stopped when Sookie left the other bed and ran to the door…
As her feet hammered down the stairs, he shouted, “NO! I STOPPED! NO FORKS!”
I heard a man’s voice ask, “What the fuck, Sook?”
It sounded like it could be her father, but not quite. I assumed it was her brother, but finally realized I’d been distracted. I hadn’t counted heartbeats to realize there were two extra in the house.
“I’m going to shut a Vampire up. Do you know if Daddy brought the silverware back?”
He chuckled, sounding more like Corbett. “What did he say?”
“They’re upstairs talking about DSEs and DSLs with the girls in the damn room. Turds. They thought the acronym would slide past them.”
“Awwwwww damn… You’re fucked. Y’all need to hide.”
Gawain shook his head. “Only half of us. Eric and I are innocent.”
Edward kissed Jenny’s forehead before darting to his room saying, “Better safe than silvered. Brother, you’re on your own. You started it.”
While cabinets and drawers were being jerked open and slammed shut in the kitchen, Richard argued, “Did not! I asked a legitimate question. You pushed her!”
The man warned, “Oh shit! She found scissors!”
A female voice warned, “And I’m going to use them on you if you wake this baby up. Hush, Brand.”
Her accent was muted, but still English. It reminded me of Pam’s new American accent from the videos.
Misty noticed my curiosity and explained, “Ashley. Her father’s American, but her mother’s family is in London. He was in the military, so when he deployed, they took long vacations.”
Lindy whispered, “Uncle Brandon already doesn’t like Miles. He was flirting with Ashley. He knows she shifts into a fox, but hearing a Shifter call her ‘foxy’ and offer to father her cubs pissed him off.”
Ashley giggled quietly, and a moment later Lindy offered, “She says it’s cute that he postures. We aren’t allowed to make fun.”
Brandon groaned, “I heard that. Both times… It’s not fuckin’ cute to have some limey Shifter offer to knock up my fiancé so she can have ‘one proper’ kid. Fuck him. I hope that buck comes back with friends.”
Richard asked, “What if a limey Vampire promises to not impregnate her and suggests she lie back and think of England?”
The girls began laughing with Ashley and Sookie and Lindy volunteered, “He’s helping Mommy look for the silver now.”
As amusing as their argument was, I still had no idea what the fuck DSEs were… I was almost positive I didn’t want the definition from a child.
Richard chuckled, “Just kidding… If you’re half as pretty as your sister, you’re more my type than your woman is. Leave the silverware to Sookie. Come introduce yourself.”
Suddenly everything in the house stopped for a moment until Sookie began cackling. “He’s… The look on his face… Oh God… I’m putting the scissors away… That made up for it…”
Gawain moved Lindy to the edge of his bed and went to the closet for a shirt. “I’m going downstairs. Brandon just became my new toy… He’s not homophobic until his ass is in question.”
I almost didn’t hear him over Sookie’s braying.
Richard whined, “We have a while yet before the sun’s low enough. Lucky bastard.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll warm him up.”
Once his shirt was on, Gawain lifted Jenny from the bed and carried her with Misty and Lindy following close behind.
I listened, expecting him to be as obvious as grabbing Brandon’s cock the moment he was downstairs, but the first thing to be heard was, “Gawain. Nice to meet you. Mind if I borrow that?”
Ashley giggled, “Sure, nice to meet you.”
After a moment, he explained, “Hope should get used to her sisters’ voices…”
He’d taken the baby from Ashley and given her to Jenny… I could feel how anxious it made Misty, so I was sure Jenny was close to rattling apart.
Jenny interrupted with a quiet mewl. “But if Mom… she could…”
“If Hadley changes her mind, I’ll take care of it. Hope will be returning to Eijsden with the rest of you. Enjoy your sister. Hadley won’t be a problem. I promise…”
It didn’t matter that the girls’ didn’t know what one of Gawain’s promises was worth… the important thing was that Misty believed him.
He continued, “Now enjoy her while you can. The little thing has horrible taste. She prefers Eric, if you can believe that…. Stay in the living room so I’m not stabbed for how I introduce myself to your uncle.”
As he began walking towards the kitchen, Ashley warned, “Brandon’s not going to think this is funny.”
I was sure that was the point.
Gawain cleared his throat to catch Sookie’s attention and mocked Miles’s accent to ask, “Sookie! Look what I found! What is it?”
I wasn’t sure why his voice was muffled but I wasn’t sure I wanted to know either…
Sookie was so amused, I almost laughed aloud.
“Put her down!”
He continued his Miles impersonation to argue. “It’s quite foxy, it is. Can I keep it? I’ll take good care. Feed it, give it plenty of exercise.”
Sookie cackled, “I can see that! If I’m not mistaken, that’s a Morphus Vulpes. They’re very rare around these parts, and she’s spoken for.”
He whined, “But you said the girls’ brought presents. I had my hopes up. I was already thinking of leashes and everything, I was. And look, my face is a perfect fit…” His voice was muffled again as he pleaded, “Please. Please with marmalade?”
Richard chuckled, “It’s scary how much he sounds like Miles.”
I agreed with a nod while Sookie offered, “Talk to Brandon. He’s pretty attached though… Brandon, this… the guy with his face between your fiancé’s legs…” Richard rolled over to try to mute his hysterical laughter, and there was nearly as much noise coming from Edward. Gawain had lifted Ashley to saddle her to his face. I was sure Sookie narrated just for us. “This is Gawain.”
The brother growled, “Gawain, huh? Why not use Lancelot? He gets more press.”
Ashley squeaked just before she was set on the floor.
Sookie giggled a warning, “Careful Gawain. Faeries are kinda territorial and he’s getting riled.”
Gawain cooed, “Faerie? Why didn’t you just say so?”
At least he’d finally dropped his Miles act.
I felt how amused Sookie was before Brandon argued, “What the fuck are you… don’t… watch it, bud- WHOA!”
If I had to guess, that was when Gawain chose to grab Brandon’s cock… and I could easily imagine Brandon tripping over his own feet trying to get away.
Sookie chided, “Jesus Brandon! Be nice! He’s just being friendly!”
“Euro friendly or Vamp friendly!?”
Edward laughed as he joined us, “At least he asked.”
He left the door open, showing that the stairwell was hardly lit with the blue glow of dusk and I went to the closet for a shirt. I wasn’t about to let Gawain have all the fun… and at the rate he was going, the joke would be exhausted before the sun fully set and the boys could join the mischief.
Sookie was completely amused by the eager greeting Gawain was giving her. He’d practically wrapped himself around her with his nose buried in the crook of her neck… and judging by the wink she gave me over his shoulder, I was expected to play along.
I could do that.
Considering Sookie’s ‘that’s my man’ moment, and that my options were a young version of Corbett and a pretty little Fox with big brown eyes meant for blow jobs, Ashley was the target of my eager greeting.
Sookie was explaining, “Brandon, they just wake up very friendly is all…” when I grabbed Ashley and kissed her, bending her over, pulling her leg up to my side…
Sookie’s eyes were narrowed as though I couldn’t feel how annoyed she was. Her brother wasn’t any more amused than she was.
She forced herself to continue the joke. “It’s harmless. Chill out.”
Ashley giggled as I stood her upright and stepped towards Brandon.
He backed into the counter and put his hands up. “Harmless my ass! You might be used to this shit, but…”
Gawain released Sookie and quickly pinned Brandon. “No you don’t. I saw him first.”
I slithered up beside them and lifted Brandon’s chin. “He’s almost as pretty as his father. We can share him.”
He chuckled and spoke in Greek, “Sookie warned me that he speaks French and he’s been learning German.”
I nodded and tugged the side of his T-shirt up. “He’s very close to shitting in his pants.”
Gawain followed my lead and started trying to take Brandon’s shirt off, but he’d locked his elbows at his sides and pleaded, “Sookie, call your friendly friends off!”
She giggled, “Brandon, you’re going to hurt their feelings.”
Gawain continued in Greek, “He’d actually be fuckable if he wasn’t such a whiner,” and leaned over to lick Brandon’s neck.
I countered, “Your own kind isn’t good enough for you? Whining telepathic Fae. You two seem like a perfect pair.”
Gawain growled at me from Brandon’s neck, making the boy that much more nervous. Brandon opened his mouth, probably to beg for help again, but Gawain caught him.
Before Brandon could think to fight him off, Gawain’s tongue was in his mouth and Sookie actually dropped to her knees and folded into a tight ball, laughing silently and weeping against her knees while Ashley gaped.
It was hilarious, nearly impossible to keep a straight face, and the boys were probably going to pout for most of the night because they missed it.
By the time Gawain stopped, and only because Brandon needed to breathe, Brandon’s belt and jeans had been opened… and Brandon looked ill.
In perfect time, Misty walked into the room and huffed in her uncle’s direction, “I was going to get you to help me bring in Richard and Edward’s presents, but you’re busy… Ash, can you-?”
We let Brandon shove his way between us and he wrestled with his pants to close them. “Nonono. I’m good. I’ll go.”
He charged outside, leaving the front door open… I was finally able to let myself laugh.
Misty shook her head slowly as she watched Sookie shake on the floor. “No wonder you called. I can’t believe you didn’t crack up earlier.”
Sookie wailed, “I couldn’t help it… I was okay… but then… then Gawain… Gawain kissed him and…”
She pushed herself from the floor and ran towards the back of the house.
Misty giggled, “She laughs. She pees. She’s like one of those dolls I hear normal nine-year olds play with.”
Ashley blurted, “Baby Alive, right?”
Misty shrugged and turned to leave. “I dunno. Ask a normal nine-year old… Be right back. Miles is already curious about the hissing coming from the back of y’alls car.”
Gawain didn’t seem to notice that Misty just said Edward and Richard’s gift hissed. He reached out and offered his hand. “Sorry for that. I couldn’t help myself…”
While he continued to explain that Brandon was in for a long night, I followed Sookie to the bathroom.
When I reached the door, she was just flushing the toilet, so I let myself in.
She was still giggling while she washed her hands. “I almost didn’t make it back here in time.”
“You certainly seemed to be enjoying yourself.”
She nodded. “Except for that part when your tongue was in someone else’s mouth, yeah.”
“You were otherwise engaged at the time.”
She laughed through her nose as she dried her hands. “Oh really? Is that how it’s gonna be? If that’s the case, why don’t you get your shower. I’m sure I can find someone, oops, I mean something to do while you’re busy.”
She clicked her tongue and tilted her head. “You’re right about that. There is a word for it though… Hippocratic? Hippopotamus? Hypodermic?”
I offered, “Yes. The word is ‘serious’. Serious is that antonym for funny. You are far from funny.”
She chewed her lip as she closed the gap between us until her stomach was touching mine. “I’ve got it… Hypocrite… That’s the word I was looking for. A hypocrite is someone who expects others to conform to a standard of behavior contrary to the way they behave.”
“Are you suggesting that if you kiss Gawain, all will be fair?”
“No. If our goal is evening things between us, I think I’ll need to kiss Ashley too…”
“I could subscribe to that.”
“While you’re being groped by someone much stronger than you.”
She giggled and pinched my nipples, pulling me down to her level and sliding her hands around to my back. “If you wanted a kiss all you had to do was say so.”
“Is that true of anything?”
She tilted head slightly and whispered, “Most things, yeah.”
“Good. What the fuck are DSEs?”
She put her forehead to my chest and giggled.
“What is so funny? I’m sure it’s just an Americanism that I’m not familiar with, but it seems like everyone knows but me. I’m almost certain the E stands for eyes. Am I right about that?”
She nodded, but continued to giggle for a moment before clearing her throat. “I’m not laughing because you don’t know. I’m laughing because you’re preoccupied by it.”
“It was worth trying to gag and stab Vampires.”
She sighed and suddenly became shorter…
It took me a moment to realize she was dropping to her knees at my feet… sliding her hands over my ass as she lowered and settling them behind my knees.
The way she licked her lips as she looked up at me helped me fill in the blank left when Edward tried to explain.
“DSEs and DSLs are fundamental to…”
She tilted her chin up and pressed her mouth against my cock and breathed her answer through my jeans, “D… S… E… dick… sucking… eyes…”
More devastating than the look she’d used to get her way.
The actual definition was almost wasted…
My want for information had been shoved aside.
She whispered, “Not impressed with my DSEs?”
“Fishing for a demonstration because I’m sure L stands for lips.”
She smirked, taking my hand and pulling it to her mouth… nipping the tip of my thumb… lightly scraping the top with her teeth and cradling the underside with her tongue while my thumb disappeared into her mouth… and tightening her lips around while she pulled it out…
I was completely fucked.
I growled, “You’re teasing me. After last night…”
She used my belt loops to help herself stand again and sighed, “We’re both in the same boat… praying for a miraculous window of opportunity…”
“That’s a beautiful way to say waiting for a chance to fuck, but I can think of better things for you to do with your mouth.”
“You and me both…” She tugged my belt loop and moved towards the door. “C’mon… I need to put dinner out before we go to dinner.”
“Perhaps I’m rusty, but isn’t that superfluous?”
“I promised the girls they could meet Merlotte. We’re going to eat a real dinner and then we’ll go make the Shifter twitch. We’re going to have a real Shifter and a Were with us.”
“And the Sheriff’s personal number.”
She nodded as she opened the door, only to gasp and lurch back to slam into my chest.
Miles was standing at the threshold wearing a maniacal smile and holding out some sort of hissing rat.
Sookie barked, “You scared the shit out of me!”
“Caught you in the proper room then. What’s this? It’s like a cat and a squirrel had a baby… They’re all over out there.”
“It’s a opossum.”
“Is not. Seen one at a zoo. Opossums look a bit like lemurs…”
“SouthAmerican ones do… kind of. What you’ve got there is the only North American marsupial. A Virginia opossum. It’s the first thing to ever be called a opossum too.”
Misty called, “Told ya!” from the front of the house.
Miles ignored her and stepped closer to Sookie. “Look. He’s got thumbs. Cute, that is. I want to keep him.”
Absolutely. The hissing made it more charming.
Sookie reached out for it and offered, “How ‘bout I make possum pie for lunch tomorrow?”
Miles stepped back, cradling the opossum, hissing, “He heard that!”
“Sorry. I grew up with those damn things all over the place. Only thing a opossum’s good for is target practice.”
His face contorted like she’d insulted him personally. “That’s horrible!”
Nevermind that his favorite shift was closely related to so many cows who made their way to his digestive tract… and his breath.
She shrugged. “If you think he’s cool, you should watch for a Jackalope.”
“It has the body of a rabbit and antlers like a deer.”
Alright, perhaps Sookie was funny… once in a while.
I nodded. “Wolpertinger? I thought they were extinct.”
Sookie’s eyes lit up. “There’s something like that in Europe? Allecks thought I was making it up until he saw one in the yard.”
I nodded. “Most of Bavaria was infested. They were like locusts. They decimated crops. It’s been nearly a hundred years since I’ve heard any reports. I assumed pesticides killed them all.”
Miles’s mouth was agape… He hadn’t believed Sookie until I corroborated her lie. He was completely snowed… Perhaps it had been too easy given that he was high on all of his new discoveries, but that didn’t take away from the fun.
I called, “Gawain, when was the last time you heard about a wolpertinger sighting?”
After a moment, he answered, “It’s been ages. Did Miles find one?”
Gawain arrived just behind Miles quickly and looked over his shoulder. “That’s just a opossum.”
Sookie nodded. “I know that… Miles thinks it’s cute because it looks like a squirrel and a cat had a baby with thumbs. I thought he’d be interested in jackalopes… turns out Europe has… what was it?”
Gawain and I answered, “Wolpertinger.”
“Right… Anyway, Miles doesn’t believe me.”
Gawain nodded. “I knew someone, of course it was centuries ago, who baited and poisoned them. The poison made the hair separate from the hide. The hair was too short to spin into thread, but the pillows were heavenly.”
Beautifully intricate bullshit.
Miles blurted, “You’re serious!? Wolpertingers, jackalopes… they’re real.”
Yes. They carry messages between unicorns and mermaids.
I nodded. “They weren’t as menacing, but in Sweden we called them skvaders. Their meat was a last resort though. Even fresh it tasted as though it had turned.”
Sookie huffed, “I guess he’s just reached his daily capacity for new species.”
Gawain snorted as he turned away. “Keep him from the side porch then… Edward and Richard are playing with their new pets.”
“Do I want to know?”
“The children brought them their own alligators.”
Miles shoved past Gawain and ran towards the front of the house. “Where did they find them!?”
Sookie giggled, “One of their grandfathers has a cousin with a small gator farm. They’re babies.”
“They really brought alligators for the boys?”
Sookie nodded. “They went on and on about them… George releases a lot of males just to keep the posturing down. Calvin’s had them since the girls called him and told him we were visiting. Sneaky little turds. I didn’t know about it until they got here.”
“Why aren’t you more worried about alligators being in the house with the children?”
She shrugged. “Alligators have a bad reputation. Even full grown, they aren’t fond of Human snacks. Gator attacks are usually because someone startled them… These guys are so tiny they’re still being handfed.”
“How many hands do they eat at a time?”
She stopped and turned around, stretching up to kiss me and mouth ‘sweet’ before whispering, “Don’t worry…”
A knock on the front door distracted her and she tilted her head towards the kitchen.
“It’ll make you feel better to see how small they are… go ahead.”
I growled as I walked away from her, picturing the boys wrestling to keep control of alligators their size…
Sookie said small, but I didn’t have any gage… I’d seen a movie with an alligator the size of a small fishing boat… Come to think of it, almost any alligator I’d seen in a film was at least three-meters long. Crocodiles as well. They were large.
When I stepped out to the side porch, I was greeted with smiles and two lizards.
Tail included, the monsters I expected were barely a meter long… their bodies were smaller than housecats…
It wasn’t a mystery why Sookie wasn’t worried. It hardly seemed as though they would be a threat to the opossum Miles was trying to hold to get a closer look while he asked a steady stream of questions.
The girls were beaming, proud of how happy the boys’ gifts made them…
But I hardly had the chance to feel foolish about my anxiety before Sookie ran into the kitchen, repeating, “My phone, my phone, my phone… BRAND! Do you have your phone!? Ash!?”
“Sookie, what’s wrong?”
Excitement was the only emotion I felt, but I couldn’t tell what kind of excitement…
She ignored me, perhaps didn’t realize I’d spoken since she was rifling through the items on the countertops…
Brandon had his phone in his hand and a confused look on his face when he came into the kitchen. “What’s up?”
His question went unanswered as well…
Sookie quickly dialed the phone and rattled while the phone rang… cursing whoever she was calling for not answering right away, complaining about her ‘brilliant idea’, shouting an apology towards the foyer…
As soon as the call connected, she blurted, “Daddy! I need an invite…”
Corbett drawled, “I’ll be right there. Ten minutes. Just left the-”
“Shut up! I need you to invite someone in now… Francesca’s here.”