I Can Help
Alcide was only looking for Sookie to swap keys for the evening… For the amount of time we spent walking from my room to hers, Sookie nearly bit a hole in her cheek with the effort it took for her to not mention the leap to him…
And that was in spite of his constant chatter… the rules of borrowing his truck.
“Don’t fuck in my truck. Don’t eat in my truck. Don’t wreck my truck.”
She’d driven his ‘baby’ before, but he didn’t trust Sookie to behave and hearing that Klaasje would be with us didn’t change his mind.
To be fair, he had a point… and it didn’t exactly calm Alcide down when I asked him to be specific about his definition of fuck, eat and wreck.
I could have sworn his lip trembled when he left Sookie’s room, looking over his shoulder… and he definitely whimpered in the elevator.
It was more than slightly amusing that Sookie changed clothing while we waited for Klaasje… Sneakers, jeans and a white blouse were replaced with a tank top, a wrap sweater, much more flattering jeans, and a pair of boots with a stiletto heel. Sookie Northman was a size larger than My Sookie and dressed more modestly, so Sookie felt like she was wearing someone else’s clothes… she was, but she wasn’t… The only thing to keep us from pondering that insanity indefinitely was remembering to call Trey.
He was given a list of searches to complete. Every bit of information he could find on Tim and Lacie Burroughs and Lacie’s uncle, Adam Love… And she hung up when Brandon came to the door…
Of course she knew it was him before he let himself in.
“We just leapt…”
As he closed the door behind himself, he scoffed, “Riiiiiight. I’ll nibble the bait, but I’m not biting yet.”
“I woke up here with another Eric. That one was King of Louisiana and married to Me… The kicker is that Hadley’s married to Tucker Archer.”
His eyes widened and he nodded, “Not bad. I like it. Hadley’s married to a dirtba-“
When he stopped suddenly, I knew Sookie interrupted him by showing him what she’d seen of the two of them together.
“NO FUCKING WAY!”
Sookie nodded. “Way fucking way… He’s like super-hubby and shit… carried her two blocks because she was bed-rested and bored at home.”
After a moment he asked, “And those are their kids? They’re cute.”
I sat on the chair next to the table while Sookie opened her laptop. “I’m jealous. I want to see the telepathic flash cards too.”
She giggled, “Shut up. You got the 3D adventure… By the way, Bran, that adorable little girl… she isn’t Hadley’s. She’s Yours.”
“Now you’re fucking with me.”
Sookie shuffled through the disks we’d brought ‘back’ with us and loaded the disk labeled ‘Adele’s 81st’ (in my handwriting) into the tray.
“Not fucking with you. That’s why I called you. Amy Christopher is Jules’s mother.”
“Amy Christopher… I don’t remember hhhh- ooooooh shit.”
He scowled at me for laughing at him.
Sookie ordered, “Be nice,” and raised her voice slightly to call, “Come on over whenever, Klaasje.”
“I’m allowed. I rose with a dog and a wife and a house full of candy and a little boy who told me to suck a fart out of his butt because he didn’t like my version of reality.”
Sookie cackled, “Suck a fart?”
I nodded. “Out of his butt. Charming, isn’t it?”
She snorted, trying to dial back her laughter. “Are you allowed to use a straw?”
“That’s worse than the original image, thank you.”
Brandon blurted, “Could y’all stop joking with each other so we can get back to the baby-mama thing, please! Fuuuuck!”
Sookie rolled her eyes and explained for Klaasje’s benefit, “Eric and I leapt. Just now. Brandon had an adorable little girl…” She backed away from the laptop and offered, “There, on His lap. Julia Emery Rousseau, AKA Jules.”
Brandon argued, “Who the fuck is Rousseau?”
Sookie clarified, “Mom and Daddy didn’t stay together in that version. Mom ended up with a guy named Tom Rousseau. He adopted You.”
“Yeah… crazy shit. We didn’t meet until We were nineteen either. We’re pretty tight now though. So when was the last time you saw Amy? The other You said She tried to talk Him into putting the baby up for adoption. He wasn’t even sure if telepathy was genetic, but He didn’t want to risk it.”
“I wouldn’t have either, but Amy never came to me. Me-me. You know I would’ve told you something like that… I think the last time I saw her was right before we left for school.”
“We graduated in June of ’96.”
“Jules was born in late July… It would’ve been a little obvious if Amy was pregnant the last time you saw her.”
“I could just be pissed that she got an abor- NO. Wait. Do the math for me. When would Amy have gotten knocked up?”
Klaasje immediately offered, “If the baby was born on time, she would have been conceived in Novem-”
Brandon shouted, “AH HA!” loud enough for Sookie and Klaasje to jump. “I didn’t hook up with Amy until later. Remember Sook, I was with Amber until New Year… Amber! You know, ‘the mermaid’!”
Sookie nodded. “Nice. No baby-mama for you.”
“Fuck the baby-mama. I need CPR!”
I offered, “I’ll beat on your chest, but someone else will have to blow you… Why did you call Amber ‘the mermaid’?”
“Showers, pools, hot tubs, lakes, rain… the wetter, the better.”
That made sense.
“I was thinking along the lines of a manatee, so well done.”
He winced and sucked air past his teeth… and then shivered…
Sookie laughed at her brother. “I can’t even call him shallow without risking a lightning strike… So, Jules is off the list of possibilities, and we’ll do Olivia later…”
Klaasje shook her head. “What about Olivia? Are Pam and Jason already raising her in that version?”
I offered, “They aren’t even a couple. Their relationship is akin to fraternity brothers. I originally suspected Their Olivia could be in need of a home given that Olivia is a recent addition to the family. Hadley was immediately interested in spite of being pregnant with twins… but before we left, Sookie called a number listed to TR Burroughs. She spoke to Olivia’s parents. Denise Ashley Burroughs was still living with her parents in Fairlee…”
Sookie finished, “Tim, the father, he had an idea right away about what happened. They went out of town to a family reunion and came home to find out another family in town went missing instead. Turns out Olivia’s grandmother was a match-maker. Her ability worked like Olivia’s. Olivia’s parents got together because Grandma wanted to know where to find a match for her daughter. Oh, and Olivia probably has a cousin. I have Trey trying to track him down.”
Klaasje gaped… as though she’d been slapped.
I offered, “Assuming it’s a male. Tim used the word ‘kid’… The third possibility is that Shawn or his family could be in some sort of need…”
Brandon asked, “Shawn?”
“You know him as Tucker Archer…”
Sookie clarified, “Bran, that guy… Night and day. It was insane to see a kid on his lap when I walked in… After what we’ve been assuming about him… The other Erik thinks Archer’s been watching his kids play ball.”
Brandon sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “We can’t feel but so guilty about it, Sook. Pam asked him what the fuck he was doing out there and whenever she suggested he was a creep his fucking brain went haywire. How the hell were we supposed to know it was because he resented the accusations instead of hating her for figuring it out? And you haven’t talked to Archer yet. He could still be a dirtbag.”
Sookie shook her head. “Nope. Just thinking about it… I feel horrible.”
She wasn’t exaggerating. After just a few drops of my blood, it took no effort on my part to identify the remorse she felt.
Brandon shrugged dismissively. “Give him a blow job. It’ll make him feel better…”
He smirked and pointed at me. “Busted… I’m going back to work. Y’all have fun in Bon Temps.”
After making a brief visit to Pam’s office to collect Tucker Archer’s file, we spent the next thirty minutes on the road to Bon Temps, explaining our leap to Klaasje… I’d never seen her be more inquisitive. It wasn’t just amusing, it was refreshing.
For the last few minutes of the drive, Sookie spoke to Nate (via speaker so Alcide wouldn’t ‘flip his shit’) confirming the details of Shawn Ingram’s official death… his Grand Cherokee crashed through the I-20 railing over the river with witnesses and the driver was never found and presumed dead after three days of diving… One of the ‘Top 3’ ways to die in the technology age and the best way to be sure widows and children could become beneficiaries of any insurance policies. Science made the process a challenge… It used to be as simple as leading one’s horse back to their home after smearing the saddle with blood.
The address Patricia (Patty) Ingram had on file with the DMV was 821 Magnolia Creek Road… the house I rose in.
Sookie turned onto Ford Lane, looking for Shawn’s house number among the cookie-cutter homes, but it wasn’t as though we were going to get lost. One side of the street was occupied by six houses, the other side was taken by a Methodist church that had a large playground… and the intersecting street was Magnolia Creek.
He’d strategically purchased a house overlooking the park closest to his children’s home… I didn’t have to say as much either. As Sookie parked the truck in front of Tucker Archer’s house, she leaned forward to study the street and whimpered, feeling regretful again.
As we approached the house, Shawn came to the front window and his face fell. I could only imagine what was going through his head… One of the Sheriff’s associates was paying a visit with other Vampires.
Shawn opened the door as we stepped onto the porch and Sookie sighed, “Tucker Archer.”
Average height, well built… henley, flannel shirt, jeans and boots… his fangs were the only things to keep him from looking like any average man.
His eyes rolled and he leaned against the doorframe. “Here we go again… I can’t help it if soccer moms are scared of Vampires. You don’t have proof I’m doing anything wrong.”
His choice of words left something to be desired… the subtly between different ways to relay the same message. ‘You don’t have proof’ implies that he’s been careful not to leave evidence. Had he said ‘I haven’t done anything wrong,’ there would have been little room for imagination.
Sookie offered, “One might suggest you bump up your cable subscription and look up sports bars in the phone book.”
“I have all the channels, but screaming drunks aren’t my scene… Watching kids play is fun because they aren’t in it for the paycheck.”
Sookie nodded. “You had one more chance before you went on lockdown for a year. You were warned. The Sheriff gave you finite consequences when she let you out of the box last time.”
His lip curled and he spat, “Is that what this is? You’re here to ward me in?”
Suddenly, he didn’t look anything like the ‘man’ who’d been rubbing his wife’s shoulders earlier. Five years had jaded him and it was showing.
She shook her head. “No… Why didn’t you just tell the Sheriff you were watching your own children play, Shawn?”
His jaw dropped and the angry look on his face was replaced by horror.
“How did you find out?”
“Shawn Tucker Ingram… born September 29th, 1962 in Natchitoches Parrish… attended LSU, earning a BS in Civil Engineering… Married Patricia Kelly Archer in New Orleans during the Mardi Gras of ’86… Fathered Tamara, Archer and Tucker…”
He interrupted Sookie’s rundown by shouting, “FUCK! You aren’t warding me in! You brought them to- I’m getting evicted!”
Sookie shook her head. “How long ago did you end Leland?”
“He burned my house down and let me think they were in it! I went nuts… How fucked am I?”
“How long ago?”
“I… I was… It was my birthday, the one right after I died. It had been hard enough to adjust, but… I wanted my birthday dinner bad enough to drive out to the restaurant we usually went to just to smell it… how fucking pathetic is that, right? So he thought I’d gone to see them and burned the house down to ‘teach me a lesson’. I didn’t find out they were fine until later, but I don’t fucking regret it.”
I was trying… but I couldn’t think of a reason to blame him. And I was jealous it had been so easy for him.
“So you called the Sheriff and impersonated your Maker to check out by phone…”
“I needed him to still be ‘alive’ so I had something to live on. I couldn’t find work. Drafters keep bankers’ hours.”
“As an orphaned newborn how many of your victims are ‘missing’?”
“None! I was a fucking cliché, trolling bars and lurking around, but I healed the marks and glamoured them…”
“And now all you have to do is walk into a feeding lounge and dinner’s served… Have you contacted your family?”
He nodded. “I called for a while at first without saying anything… once I ended Leland I just watched from a distance…”
Sookie raised an eyebrow, feeling suspicious, “Bullshit.”
He cringed and mumbled, “I had someone pretend to be an insurance agent and take a cashier’s check to her… then I glamoured her to buy the house we wanted.”
“I went to her the night after the Revelation, but she flipped out. I glamoured her again.”
He was still cringing, dropping his chin to stare at Sookie’s feet. “Annnnd… I glamour her to bring the kids to the park after dinner so I can watch them play…”
“Shawn! She’s going to be retarded! How long did you plan to keep it up?”
“Until they’re too old to like the park… Christmas and birthday stuff too though, since I’m being honest. What’s going to happen?”
“We’re going for a walk…”
He shook his head. “If I’m done, just do it now.”
She rolled her eyes and reached into his house to grab his shirt and yank him onto the porch. “Not that kind of walk, jackass…” She towed him until we were on the sidewalk. Once she released him, she asked, “Back to the original question, why didn’t you just tell the Sheriff they’re your kids?”
“Leland made it pretty clear she’d boot us out of the Area if she found out I was local before I died. The box was better than the idea of leaving my kids.”
“Since the Revelation?”
“It’s not like I’m stupid enough to think she’d believe me now.”
Sookie sighed, “Fair enough… What about Leland’s Maker? Has he contacted you?”
“Leland never told him he brought me over and I didn’t stay at Leland’s place.”
Sookie was quiet for a couple of minutes as we walked towards the intersection of Ford Lane and Magnolia Creek Road… I could feel the determination while she thought…
She finally sucked her teeth and offered, “The official story will be that in March, Leland was ended during a clash with another Vampire, Lord Francois of Brussels. Given the status of the other Vampire, Sheriff Ravenscroft released Lord Francois to King Northman who punished Francois by executing him. After six months of trying to contact Leland’s Maker to execute the will, Sheriff Ravenscroft declared the sole heir to be Leland’s only child, Tucker Archer…”
Fucking beautiful. Everything wrapped into a perfect little lie… with a bow on it.
Shawn yelped, “You can do that!?”
Sookie looked over her shoulder at me, seeking approval for her strategy, so I offered, “Among other things, yes, she can do that.”
Sookie knocked on the door to Patty Ingram’s home just after eight o’clock.
Shawn seemed like he was going to rattle apart while we waited for the door to be opened.
Black cat silhouettes in each window, two Jack o’ lanterns on every step, plastic cauldrons with green lights and dry ice…
I listened to a child whisper to himself as he divided fractions (he needed a tutor), a pirate battle in a bathtub (complete with canon blasts), and the world’s most annoying theme song (possibly ever)… Aman, aman, aman, aman, aman, aman, Amanda shoooooooooow…
Since Sookie had taken a stance front and center, the woman who answered the door didn’t even seem to notice Klaasje, Shawn and I were standing to the side on the large wrap-around porch.
By then, I was just along for the ride… the entertainment value that came from watching Sookie work. And… as ‘take charge’ as Sookie was, it was settling to know Pam could afford to take some ‘family leave’.
Sookie raised her eyebrows and asked, “Patty Ingram, right?”
The woman nodded and glanced at Sookie’s hands. “That’s me. What can I do for you?”
“My name is Sookie Stackhouse. I’m Sheriff Ravenscroft’s public affairs liaison. I’m here to discuss your husband.”
Patty frowned and offered, “My husband died in a car accident five years ago.”
Sookie corrected, “Actually, your husband died when a Vampire chose Shawn to be his child. I’m here to notify you that your husband’s state has been altered and explain a few things.”
“A… uhhhh… Shawn’s a Vampire?”
Sookie nodded, ignoring that the woman was beginning to cry. “As per the preliminary statutes in effect in the state of Louisiana and enforced by both Human and Vampire officials, Vampires are afforded the same rights under law as Humans… You are not obliged to remit any funds you received as part of death benefits or insurance claims as he is legitimately dead… But as his wife at the time of his death, you are now considered his common-law wife until you petition to dissolve or reaffirm your union. While your husband’s situation is uncommon, the statutes also protect Mr. Ingram’s rights as a father until such time as he forfeits those rights by means of petition.”
“Shawn’s alive? Why didn’t he contact me?”
“He did. You didn’t react well, so he glamoured you to forget the visit. That’s why I’m here. Shawn misses his family, Patty. Your reaction is keeping him from his children. I’m here to tell you that your opinion of Vampires means nothing. Legally, you have no right to keep him from seeing his children until there is cause for concern.”
She shook her head. “No… of course not… I…”
Sookie scoffed, “Expect to hear from a representative for Sheriff Ravenscroft, Jupiter Cataliades. He’ll proceed with mediating the terms of Mr. Ingram’s visitation with his children. If you have any questions or concerns about Mr. Ingram, don’t hesitate to contact The Palace Hotel in Shreveport. If you feel as though he’s a threat, feel free to dial 9-1-1. Mr. Cataliades will provide a copy of the Statutory Vampire Act of 2002. Do you understand?”
Patty shook her head. “No… I…” Patty finally looked away from Sookie and noticed her husband standing next to me. “Shawn?”
It didn’t seem as though he could think of anything to say, so Sookie suggested, “Do you think you can invite him in to see the kids or are you going to make him get a court order? Keep in mind, since he’s legally your common-law husband, he has the right to press charges against you for custodial interfe-”
Patty nodded with wide eyes, “Stop! I’m… Give me a damn minute to process this. He’s been dead for five years.”
Sookie raised her eyebrow without looking away from the woman, all but daring Patty to deny Shawn access to his children.
The standoff was almost amusing… until Sookie began feeling evil. That was the only way to describe it.
Just evil… and the smirk that formed on her face made it that much sexier.
Before Patty or Shawn managed to formulate a sentence, the sound of footsteps in the house caught everyone’s attention…
The bathtub battle raged on and the pencil was still scratching incorrect answers in a notebook… leaving the child who’d been watching the annoying television show.
Patty’s heart was racing by the time the footsteps stopped just behind her. “Who’s here, Mommy?”
When Patty froze, the little girl poked her head out of the doorway and smiled up at Sookie…
Slightly healthier than Olivia, short golden brown hair and big blue eyes behind glasses with bright purple frames… The glasses matched the rubber bands on her braces.
Sookie smiled back at her and offered, “I’m Sookie… and these are my friends.” Some of us had benefits.
The little girl looked over and smiled at the three of us, but she concentrated on Shawn… She went as far as stepping out onto the porch and narrowing her eyes.
Guessing her age as ten, give or take, she would have only been five when Shawn was brought over. I couldn’t have been more curious… actually letting myself be anxious about whether she’d remember him or if she’d need a reminder. Since Leland burned their house down, I doubted there were many surviving photos.
She asked, “Are you okay, lady?”
The question was directed at Klaasje… because she was crying. I almost laughed.
She looked up at me apologetically and wiped her eyes while I offered, “She’s very emotional for a Vampire.”
The girl gasped, “Y’all are Vampires!?”
I nodded. “Trick or treat.”
She giggled, “You’re early… Do you sleep in a coffin?”
Here we go…
“On a bed in a room without windows.”
Why me? They always picked me.
“Do you know Dracula?”
“Yes, and if you see him, tell him he owes me money.”
“Drive a hearse?”
“Do you really only eat Humans?”
I shook my head. “No. In fact, I ate a candied Faerie last night.”
Sookie and Klaasje broke, covering their mouths to laugh (snort) into their hands, but since the girl couldn’t have known how vulgar my answer really was, she assumed I was being sarcastic and rolled her eyes.
“Har har… So… are y’all really trick or treating?”
Since everyone else was gobsmacked, I made it easy for them.
I shook my head and explained, “No. Sookie came here to tell your mother that your father didn’t die in a car accident. He’s a Vampire.”
She immediately made the connection to the ‘familiar stranger’… she took a deep breath and stepped back… and then ran directly to her father to leap into his arms.
Tammy quietly wrapped her arms around her father’s neck and cooed, “We missed you…” It was Shawn who wept. “You look different from what I remember.”
“Me? You changed so much…”
She lifted her face and put her hands on either side of Shawn’s neck. “Wait til you see Archie and Tuck… You’re cold.”
He nodded. “That’s a Vampire thing.”
She pinched her lips together while she thought and asked, “What about blood? You drink blood, right?”
“You’re safe. I’ll stick to eating Faeries like him.”
He was going to have to find his own.
Tammy hugged Shawn again, and he began wandering, pacing slowly along the porch…
Sookie’s eyes were glassy, but she cleared her throat and pushed past Patty to enter the house. When she returned, she had a box of tissues in her hand, offering it to Klaasje.
Klaasje breathed, “Oh, bless you,” as she snatched several from the box.
Patty took Sookie’s arm and nodded towards the other side of the porch… I could feel how amused Sookie was when Patty began whispering a few meters away.
“How do I know the kids are safe with him? Vampires drink blood.”
“I love a good steak and managed to drive past four farms on the way here without going on a killing spree.”
Patty’s whisper became a hiss. “Don’t make fun of me. I’m asking because I don’t understand.”
Sookie sighed and offered, “Sheriff Ravenscroft has an excellent relationship with Human law enforcement in her Area. She keeps a very close eye on violent crimes. If Shawn didn’t have control of himself, the Sheriff would have noticed. Considering how often he needs to ‘eat’, you would have noticed. There would be a pile of unsolved murders and missing persons reports or a remarkable decline in traffic at homeless shelters. For that matter, if Shawn couldn’t control himself, he would’ve tried to feed from me and I wouldn’t be here.”
Sookie made it sound like she wouldn’t be helping him… If Shawn couldn’t control himself, and he tried to feed from Sookie… We wouldn’t be here because I would have ended him.
“And… according to the law, I have to treat him like we just split up, right? He’s just another guy in court?”
“Sort of. The courts only consider his state when it comes to scheduling. It’s impossible for him to attend a hearing during the day. That’s going to come into play when it comes to his visitation too. He can’t be one of those weekend dad’s…”
Patty nodded. “Right… I… I don’t know what to ask next… I’m…”
“You’re freaking out. Calm down. You don’t have a reason to flip out. Ignore all the crap you hear about Vampires. Seeing is believing with these folks. If Vampires were as bad as the rumors, they wouldn’t have been able to be ‘fictional’ until now.”
“You know a lot of Vampires… because you work for the Sheriff, right?”
“Sheriff Ravenscroft currently has 318 Vampires in her Area. I’ve met most of them. They answer a nightly phone tree, but otherwise she rarely hears from any of them. Case in point, last week was a busy week. She greeted two check-ins and seven tourists, and said farewell to a check-out and four tourists. She rearranged the blood donation schedule to accommodate a sudden leave of absence. She sent a pair of Vampires to help find the lost hunters in Bodcau bayou and she side-barred at five hearings regarding Vampires. Only one was a violent matter, and it was a drifter who hadn’t checked in.”
“So you’re saying I don’t have anything to worry about.”
“No. You have the right to worry, but you should focus on the transition you’re facing rather than safety… You need to deal with your husband as though he’s a POW. Shawn wasn’t willingly away from his family. It’s been five years for you and that’s long enough to move through the stages of grief since you’ve thought he was dead all this time, but he hasn’t been in the same mindset. He’s been looking forward to, if not fantasizing about, a time when he could reunite with y’all… Try to understand the situation that was forced on him. His diet has changed. His schedule isn’t just skewed, it’s finite and exclusive. He can’t just go to bed early so he can wake up before sunset, even if sunlight wouldn’t singe him to death. Don’t probe or be invasive about what he’s been up to for the time he’s been away from you because he was miserable for most of it… but that’s exactly what he’s going to do to you because of how much he’s missed.”
“You sound like you know what you’re talking about. How many times have you seen this?”
“A few times.”
“How did they go?”
“Mixed results for various reasons. One parent reunited with adult children after a 30-year absence and an abusive step-parent. They’re struggling, but trying. A son reunited with his parents after just a few years and his parents and siblings are split 50/50… A friend of mine died in the seventies and his wife and daughter jumped at the chance to reunite with him… But my favorite is the woman who came out to one of her best friends from 40 years ago. The former bestie slapped her friend for staying young… and then held her friend’s hand while she called her children and went with her to meet her grandbabies a week later.”
Patty nodded with wide eyes. “Yeah… ‘mixed results’ is right… How do you think this’ll work out?”
“I’ve got my fingers crossed. One guy in particular had the same thing happen. Wife and kids and He woke up dead. It was a while before the Revelation though.”
“He broke up with his wife. He couldn’t go back to living with his family because they’d all find out He was a Vampire. They divorced and He stayed close by and spent as much time as He could with his kids. When He told them what He was, they asked to go for ice cream. It didn’t make a difference to them… If I met you yesterday, how would you describe Shawn?”
Patty sighed, “He was my life for as long as I can remember. He was my best friend and an amazing father… I’ve missed him every day since he died.”
“Well then, take that into consideration when you get frustrated…” She nodded towards the other end of the porch where Shawn was rocking Tammy. “That, that’s beautiful. Anyone who looks at that and sees the Vampire instead of the father, feels fear instead of awe, they’re the ones you need to watch out for because they’re the real monsters.”
“You’re saying I should try to be tolerant…”
“No. I’m saying that you need to realize he didn’t have a choice.”
She stared into the yard nodding slowly… but Sookie was only becoming more frustrated.
Sookie cleared her throat and called, “Hey Tammy, why don’t you help your mom explain to your brothers about your company.”
It took a few minutes before Tammy seemed ready to leave Shawn, but as Patty took the girl inside, Patty turned to Shawn and said, “When you’re done talking, come on in.”
He gave her a surprised smile. “Yeah. Alright, I’ll be right in.”
Once the door closed, Sookie folded her arms and asked, “Did you hear my conversation with Patty just now?”
No. Not a word of it. Pity really; it was incredibly convincing.
He shook his head. “I saw you were talking to her, but… It’s been so long since I hugged my little girl… I just…”
Sookie waved her hand to cut him off. “It’s fine… Okay… I basically just laid out a guilt trip that should buy you a few nights to be the epitome of awesomeness. She’s a little freaked out by the Vampire thing, but a dump truck just dropped a metric assload of uncertainty on the lawn. The fact that you’ve been glamouring her for five years isn’t helping because half her brain might as well have a fucking sunburn. Stop that shit.”
His jaw dropped. “Yeah, yeah, yeah… I’ll stop… how can you tell?”
“I’m a telepath… and if you tell anyone, I’ll end you… Especially since I’m exposing my ability to help your ass out. Don’t you dare make me regret it.”
“Okay. I swear. Thank you.”
“I know this town. I grew up here. The old bitch across the street is going to tell everyone in town about Patty’s ‘new suitor’ because that’s how she rolls. Be careful about what happens in her line of sight…”
He glanced over his shoulder and offered, “Got it.”
“Good… Patty’s confused about your marriage. She’s worried you’ll want to resume where y’all left off…” Shawn opened his mouth, but Sookie waved her hand again. “None of my business. I’m just giving you a head’s up… She was thinking about giving you a relatively open invitation, but she doesn’t know how you’ll take boundaries. She was picturing fangs and hurt feelings, so this isn’t just about you being a Vampire… The biggest thing running through her scorched thoughts was a bitter beast. You’ve been a bachelor for five years while she’s been left alone to do everything by herself. I told her you haven’t been living it up, but she was still picturing beers with friends, yes beers… She’s been grieving and lonely and doing everything she can to make sure your children remember you as a saint… Don’t. You. Dare. Leave this house tonight without telling her what an amazing job she’s done.”
“Don’t start buying shit. Do things with them instead… Tammy remembers little things, but they’re completely different little people now… Go with the flow. Don’t push too hard or it will freak Patty out… Don’t judge her for dating…”
“She’s been dating?”
Sookie snorted, “Like you’ve been celibate? It’s been years. Don’t go there. And besides, she didn’t think about sex. She thought about wasting time on blind dates her friends have talked her into. Don’t ask for details either… She knows you’re their father, and that’s her priority right now, but you need to understand she’s been a single parent for long enough that you can’t jump right back into ‘Team Parent’ mode. Defer to her. Remind yourself that she clearly knows what she’s doing.”
He nodded. “Yeah. I already thought about that one. I don’t want to step on her toes.”
“Good boy… When you go in, remind her she can rescind your invitation, but let her know you prefer to be told if you’re doing something that makes her uncomfortable… Do yourself a favor and address the relationship issue ASAP, even if she’s more comfortable doing it over the phone. This shit could fester and become an ulcer… Any questions?”
“No… I think… I think I’m good.”
“No. You’re ecstatic. I’m putting a detail on the house. Consider yourself under surveillance until further notice. Sheriff Ravenscroft will be contacting you in the very near future, so will Jupiter Cataliades… Haunted Hotel at the Palace on Halloween. Family friendly. Starts at eight. Good night.”
She turned to leave, but he followed and grabbed her arm… in the amount of time it took for Klaasje to twitch, I left the porch and reached them in time for Shawn to kiss Sookie’s cheek and hug her.
Appreciative or not, he’d been a Vampire long enough to know better.
He didn’t get Sookie’s benefits.
She offered, “You’re welcome,” and as he turned to leave, she raised an eyebrow at me.
My fangs were down.