It Feels So Right
I was sure that telling her I hadn’t meant to say anything wouldn’t help matters.
“This is your fault. I probably started caring while you ‘had amnesia’. You were curious and fun, but I hadn’t added you to the list of reasons to visit Shreveport yet.” The original list only had one thing on it: Pam.
“Good. Maybe we can manage to salvage this, keep it light once you aren’t babysitting me…”
“I don’t enjoy babysitting, Sookie. It wasn’t the supposed curse, it was later… When the necklace raised concerns that Jason was betraying Pam… When I was sure you’d been part of it… Normally, when someone lies to me, I write them off, or teach them a lesson… It bothered me that you could have been lying to me.”
“Fuck… Pam cares about me…”
I snorted, knowing where she was going, “Really? Imagine what I’d be like if I let Pam’s plethora of passions affect me.”
Sookie bit her lip to keep from laughing. I was almost sure she was picturing me dressed like a flamboyant pimp… surrounded by exotic animals…
She shook her head and sighed, “Way to complicate things.”
I nodded. “Yes. Thank you for pointing that out.”
“For the record, Erik is a bigger asshole… I was fighting like crazy to stay realistic about how much I like you… That prick has the conversation from the first time His Sookie said She loved Him MEMORIZED.”
“How does that make Him an asshole exactly?”
“Because until that asshole started waxing romantic, ‘friends with benefits’ was my probability ceiling.”
“And now what? It’s not like anything’s changed since the leap. Your Kingdom is still 5000 miles away from everything I love. I’ll give you a call if we find a wormhole that makes it less of a long-distance clusterfuck.”
“I’d like to point out that every sentence you’ve spoken since you took my blood has sped up.”
She snorted and shook her head, rejecting my attempt to change the subject. “Thanks, but I’m not afraid of hearing how impossible and irrational caring about me is.”
“I’m sure Erik would disagree.”
She started, “I know I’m slightly more than a friend with beni-”
“Fuck. First of all, I’m beginning to hate that term. If nothing else, say ‘bonded pet’… Secondly, you are worth it. Erik clearly didn’t hesitate to ascend when the need arose.”
“This is because of the leap?”
“It doesn’t help matters to know even a domestic, uneducated version of you hasn’t bored Him in five fucking years…”
“Yeah well, I’m different.”
“You didn’t trip over an ignorant virgin.”
“She isn’t ignorant either. Ignorance is terminal… Naïveté isn’t the same thing. That’s completely curable with regular treatments of information… Given the scent of their bedroom, they found a cure for her virginity too.”
She hugged her legs and rested her chin on her knees. “This is completely fucked… and now we’re bonded… that makes it all worse… fuck your verbal flu.”
“Sudden, projectile up-chucking of words… Also known as a critical filter failure… and you… youuuuuuu… Hallmark Tourette’s.”
“At least it doesn’t seem to be contagious… We should watch you to make sure the little hearts you were drawing on the back of my hand weren’t an early symptom.”
She whined, “I couldn’t talk. I tried spelling ‘thank you’ but you didn’t seem to get it. I didn’t even know if the heart was working… it was the closest thing to a hug I could think of… Focus on that though. We’ll blame the trauma of what happened last night and forget this ever happened.”
“Forget what? That I told you I care about you and you began making fun of me?”
“I’m not making fun… I’m pissed… The universe and it’s cocked up sense of humor puts me in America, surrounded by troglodytes and gold-diggers… and puts someone I can actually have fun with as myself in Europe. Moving pieces, making shit happen, is easy for me… but I might as well have gotten a text… ‘Haha. Try figuring out 5000 miles, you omnipotent cunt. This message was sent from The Universe’s Blackberry.’ I made out with Klaasje and it still didn’t distract me from how excited I was to hear you’re staying until Halloween… I was managing to keep you compartmentalized. Why the fuck did you have to say something?”
“You ask as though I penned a fucking sonnet. I slipped… Who are the troglodytes and gold-diggers?”
She snorted, “Retarded eye-candy. Only good for sex, but the babysitting to keep them from hurting themselves with grown-up talk isn’t worth it… and I’m a 22-year old self-made millionaire. I get all kinds, from shameless gigolos to snobbish parental matchmakers. The ‘Ring of Darwin’ doesn’t help because those cocksuckers actually research my background and know I’m single. I might just be pissed at that double-standard though. Girls don’t research Brandon. They just throw themselves at him. Less creepy. Every time he’s mentioned in the paper… we call the subsequent surge of attention ‘the pussy parade’.”
“You might as well have been describing me.”
“Strange men bring you flowers because you went to the garden center opening with Gran too?”
I chuckled, “Disposable, mindless whores with only one use…”
She corrected, “Well, two since they can bleed and do splits.”
“Fair enough… I have the attention of gold-diggers as well, even now that everyone knows I’m a Vampire. My financial success is less impressive than yours though, given how long I’ve had to amass my wealth… and the universe frequently makes me its punchline… case in point, we’ve seen what could happen if I stayed in the Area.”
“You’d probably only know me as a name on a black-list. Erik only moved to Bon Temps because of Sookie and the other Sookies They’ve met were in the same family situation. None of them went to school or anything. You should’ve seen the look on Erik’s face when I told him I bought into The Palace with money I made gambling. It was one of those ‘if Vampires could shit’ moments.”
I took her ankle and pulled her to me, moving her onto my legs and wrapping her legs around me. “I can imagine… Was it anything like the expression I wore when you stole my wallet?”
She nodded. “Pretty much… This isn’t going to help us think of a way to fix our problem.”
“The ‘we’re stuck liking one another from different continents’ problem…”
“We’re in the same place at the moment.”
“Eventually, you have to go home. The distance doesn’t bother you at all?”
“Because all either of us has to do is board a plane. It isn’t as though my Kingdom or your hotel will disintegrate if we escape for a few nights. The Atlantic Ocean isn’t as big as it used to be. You aren’t old enough for that excuse.”
She snorted, “Frequent flyer miles?”
I shook my head. “After I buy a Panzer tank to replace your Viper, I’ll shop for jets.”
She giggled, “A Panzer tank? Do I get any say in the matter? I prefer American rides.”
“A Sherman tank then… Blue?”
“Bright blue, not ‘practically black’ blue.”
I was almost positive she thought I was joking.
She pushed her fingers through my hair and fisted them behind my ears.
“I’m a lot stronger than I was a few minutes ago.”
She giggled and pulled my head back, breathing against my neck, “Hindsight being 20/20, I should have just ignored your Tourette’s and distracted you with sex.”
“I would have been fine with that. If I’m not mistaken, I tried to change the subject.”
She giggled, taking a little nibble before breathing, “But then you would have been cranky when we were interrupted.”
I growled, “Who?”
“Bran and Klaasje.”
She dropped her head to laugh against my chest. “We’ll get over it… It’s only a matter of time before Jason and Pam visit too.”
“At least they’re visiting in pairs. Eventually I’ll have you to myself again. You visit. I’ll start filling the tub.”
She licked her lips as she left my legs. “You have to wait or it’ll all be cold by the time our company leaves. They want to see you too. I wasn’t the only one who was hurt last night… You scared the shit out of Pam and Jason.”
Pam was a given, but, “Jason?”
Sookie took my hands, tugging my arms with a respectable grip… Much better than earlier. “Pam was knocked on her ass. Her empathic bonded pet was in enough pain he could barely move… That was before you called her.”
Brandon let himself into the boathouse and had Klaasje directly behind him… She actually suggested he knock first.
Sookie giggled and let me remind Klaasje that telepaths don’t have to ‘knock’ while Brandon stared at the way Sookie was wrapped around my arm.
He hadn’t seen her walk or heard the recent improvements to her speech yet… it was obvious he was anxious for some sort of show.
Sookie held her hand out, palm up and wiggling her fingers. “Let me use your phone to call the ‘rents. We just got settled in and Eric gave me more blood. It made a huge difference.”
He grinned and pulled his phone from his pocket and tossed it to her… and she didn’t have any difficulty catching it. He nodded his head as he loosened his tie and shrugged off his jacket. “Beautiful. How mobile are you? Is he holding you up?”
“I’m feeling really good. I’m not off balance or weak or anything.”
“Good. Go change out of my clothes, creep.”
Sookie was more amused than her laugh let on as she walked back to her room. “Mom had Eric put me in that night-sack from Mini’s baby shower. This was just available. Calling the house…”
Brandon walked to the kitchen and poured himself a glass of rum and then rolled his eyes when he noticed the contents of the refrigerator. He found a bottle of Coke in the pantry and then growled about having to water down his drink with ice to Sue.
He leaned into Sookie’s room and whined, “Daaaaad, Sookie’s hoggin’ the fridge with sex props.”
While her father laughed, Sookie volleyed, “Daddy, Bran’s bein’ a bitch because I cock-blocked him by almost dyin’ and all.”
Corbett congratulated Sookie for getting her ‘sailor mouth’ back and then told them they’d made their mother blush.
Meanwhile, Klaasje stared at me as though she was waiting for me to perform parlor tricks.
No sooner than I sat on the sofa, Sookie emerged from her room in a little black robe, inviting Klaasje to ‘take a load off’ as she took her brother’s drink from him and sat next to me.
The bird didn’t appear to care if he was invited… He hopped onto Sookie’s lap and assumed what seemed like a familiar position… He stretched his head up to lay it on Sookie’s shoulder and she instantly began stroking his back. It was too easy to imagine Sookie absently petting ‘her baby’ while she read.
And Klaasje was still staring.
In an effort to end the leering, I asked, “How was your meeting with the Deputy Retard of Area 2?”
Brandon shrugged and started unbuttoning his dress shirt as he walked towards his room. “His father should’ve shot that load into a chamber pot… The only way I can figure he survived a battlefield is that there’s a leprechaun clinging to the top of the rod lodged in his ass… Fucker had the balls to smell me, but wasn’t too happy about being pinned to a wall with a death-grip on his baby-dick…” Klaasje nodded to confirm Brandon actually attacked a Vampire. “Business-wise, the prick started by telling me he didn’t deal with underlings and insisted on dealing with Pam. Nevermind that Klaasje waaaaaay outranks him and she seemed fine with getting a tour from me. I walked into his room and tossed his shit into the hall. Underlings my freckled ass. I introduced myself as co-owner of the hotel and the author of the wards he’d be using…”
Twins. That sounded exactly like something Sookie would do.
When Sookie laughed quietly, Sue mimicked the sound somewhat.
Brandon continued, “So once he left…”
Sookie shook her head and said, “Nuh-uh. Eric needs to hear this.”
Brandon snorted, “Jesus… I called Roth. ‘Hello, this is Brandon Stackhouse, Director of Security for The Palace Hotel and Casino. The embarrassing excuse for a deputy you sent as your representative doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to realize he’s pissing off the wrong mother-fucker. If my twin hadn’t been nearly killed in a car wreck this morning I would’ve remembered to grab my clip of wooden bullets and I’d be sending your incompetent ass a bill for the mess instead of giving you the unique opportunity to calibrate this little bitch. Tighten his leash or recall him. I’m not putting up with him tonight.’ That part?”
Sookie snickered, “Keep going.”
Brandon returned from his room in a pair of jeans, carrying his shirt and a pair of boots. He tossed himself onto the sofa next to Klaasje, and continued as he pulled his shoes on. “She made the mistake of asking if Pam was too busy playing with her food to grant ole Billy-Boy an audience. I told her there were more important guests at the hotel than a stupid fuck who can’t see to security at his own hotel… Anyway… I carried his shit to the lobby, tossed it to the valets, yanked him into your office and deconstructed the standard gris-gris for him. EIGHT fucking ingredients, most of them from a goddamn supermarket and I wrote them down, and the fuck-nut still wanted to ‘borrow’ a Witch. I’m sorry, who the fuck is he and since when did anyone in our Area EVER get a favor from Roth’s camp? Fuck him, and fuck his father for not whipping his ass, and fuck his Maker for not teaching him better manners, let alone not to fuck with Faeries… Sully was just passing through and told him any Human could cast a protection ward, but Compton wasn’t catching on. I told him the ward was mine. I’m not a fucking Witch. I don’t know what the fuck was so hard to understand about that… He was asking for it.”
Sookie gasped, so I asked, “What was he asking for?”
Brandon chuckled to himself while he tied his laces, so Klaasje offered, “Brandon used silver-plated handcuffs… put the deputy on a luggage gondola, wheeled him out to the curb… He…” She began giggling, “He shoved Compton into his car…”
When Klaasje began laughing too hard to finish, Brandon offered, “While Sully warded Billy-Boy into his car so he couldn’t get out until he was back in his Area, I cast an impotence incantation. No blood, no fuck, until Area 2 makes a formal fucking apology to Area 5 for sending a retard to do a man’s job.”
Note to self: Never test Brandon’s limits.
Sookie snorted, “But you’re in a good mood anyway.”
Brandon nodded and leaned back to spread his arms out over the spine of the sofa. “Therapy… I Photoshopped a sign…”
“What kind of sign?”
“A little sign for Planned Parenthood…”
Klaasje corrected, “A billboard, using Compton’s likeness. It says, ‘Deputy Sheriff Bill Compton’s parents didn’t have options. You do. Take advantage of the services provided by your local Planned Parenthood facility.’ Compton’s address is included and…”
Sookie snorted, “And he booked a billboard right by the Danube, didn’t he?”
Brandon winked at his sister and added, “Gwen’s new view through her office window…”
Brandon continued, “So then… Sook, your boyfriend shows up…”
Sookie blurted, “Oh Jesus… tell me you warded him into his truck and told him to look for me at the bottom of volcanoes or something.”
He chuckled, “Not that boyfriend. The new one. He showed up at the hotel with a box of truffles and a bundle of roses for you. Vewy thweet.”
What fucking boyfriend?
Sookie shook her head. “Who the hell are you talking about?”
“Shawn-Tucker-Archer-Ingram… Klaasje dealt with him because she was with you last night. He was there to see Pam and to thank you.”
Oh. That ‘boyfriend’… and fuck Brandon’s little test. The asshole winked at me to let me know I didn’t pass.
Klaasje explained, “He very humbly offered his services if you ever find a need for his admittedly limited skills. He also RSVP’d for the Haunted Hotel affair and mentioned his wife would be in attendance. They’ve decided to work on regaining their friendship first.” Just that much information and Klaasje was close to tears again.
Sookie wiggled her eyebrows at me and nudged my side with her elbow. “If only I could think of a purpose for a civil engineer… Hmmm… something like a park, maybe?”
She wasn’t exaggerating when she said making things happen was easy for her.
“I’ll call Dinh before dawn and have him purchase the property and forward the details to me. Since Ingram will be at the hotel for the party, I’ll schedule a meeting about the park then.”
Sookie widened her eyes. “Can I kibitz?”
I was nodding when Klaasje offered, “I needed something to do last night. I researched. There is a company boasting to be the world’s largest carousel manufacturer… in Ohio. Is that nearby?”
Brandon offered, “A few hours on a plane, but it wouldn’t be out of your way to layover before you leave the States.”
Sookie scoffed, “Fuck Louisiana for not having a wooden horse farm… So what are y’all up to tonight?”
Brandon explained, “Jas and Pam should be here any minute to check up on y’all. We were just going to do some brainstorming. Klaasje’s done costume parties before, but this is her first American Halloween… and… are you up for some Hope Lodge details?”
Sookie was excited enough to grab my wrist. “Bran called the director today. She said they don’t ‘need’ anything because they get state funding, but…”
Brandon finished, “The kids have jackshit. Any toys they have are communal and donated. The only new clothing they’re guaranteed is underwear; most everything else is handed down. The vans they have are broken down more often than not. Fourteen kids share three TVs… Donated cash takes from their funding, but donated items don’t… I’m thinking the commons room they have needs new furniture and movie screen…”
Klaasje offered, “Beds. New beds, mattresses and linens.”
I added, “And I’m sure their appliances are just as lacking as their transportation.
Sookie nodded. “Computers. Some games, but I’m guessing they don’t have much access to reference materials and it’ll be easier for them to keep in touch with Olivia. Books too… So what have you already covered?”
“The easy/obvious shit… I made a couple of calls. Local Chevy dealership is delivering two brand new 15-passenger Expresses, and a Silverado in the morning… The vans are only really practical for when they’re all going somewhere. Space shuttles get better gas mileage and they have to pay for gas. The truck gets great mileage and it’s more practical for the day to day stuff. Errands and grocery shopping… Also, Party City is opening an hour early for them so they can get their Halloween costumes… then they’re going to lunch at Friendly’s. Liv loved the place enough to want to eat there four times… Five minutes at Toys R Us…”
I asked, “Is the purpose of the time limit to have the children grab what they want most?”
Sookie explained, “Five minutes at Toys R Us is a kid’s wet dream. There was a sweepstakes when we were little, don’t even know if they do it anymore, but kids would get five minutes to grab whatever they wanted. Even kids like us who didn’t want for anything drooled over winning that. We were the worst armchair quarterbacks too. ‘Stupid kid, stuffed animals take up too much room in the cart.’ Or ‘Who wastes a toy run on Magic Sand and Floam?’… He’s actually doing the opposite of limiting them.”
He shrugged again and continued, “I told her to tell the kids while they ate lunch. I’m hoping the mob mentality takes over so they aren’t shy like poor Liv was last night. And they’re going to Sears for clothes, shoes and coats… There’s a lot of stuff they can’t do because of legalities and insurance, but field trips are completely allowed. I’m sure Liv can help us line up a monthly mini-trip for them.”
Sookie shook her head. “I’m seeing a problem there. This needs to go down as a barrage. One fell swoop, making sure their living arrangements are more comfortable and they have new clothes. We can’t make promises to spoil a perpetually cycling flow of orphans. Once the shock wears off for Olivia, she’s going to connect with us and disconnect from them. We can’t set her up to dwell. Eric and I have already established the Brat-rule about charity. I say we leave Olivia to choose how to do that. It’s natural for her to focus on Hope Lodge for now, but eventually, it would be better if she thought of being underprivileged in the past tense…”
Klaasje nodded and offered, “It’s entirely possible for the children at Hope Lodge to come to expect regular gifts from anonymous benefactors. They could dissociate. Material possessions could become more important to them than a sense of family. It could do more harm than good.”
I agreed. “We should find a local group home and mirror the efforts we’re making for Hope Lodge… to push the point that Maryland isn’t the only place with orphans.”
Brandon shrugged. “I did that already, chief. Da Vinci Farms in De Soto. Eighteen boys from 6 to 13. It started as a foster home for two boys because someone the couple went to church with died and there wasn’t anyone to take her kids. The original couple still runs things with the first two boys and their own kids… He’s a retired cop. Trey said De Soto cops do car washes for the kids’ school clothes and whatnot. The kids work the little farm and run a little roadside farmer’s market… It’ll take me half an hour to make arrangements for the same bonuses.”
Sookie nodded. “Make sure those kids come to the Haunted Hotel so Olivia can see the results.”
Sookie took a deep breath, and recapped, “We’ve got Halloween, clothing, bedding, appliances, transportation, technology, and toys… I move that we discuss general repairs to the facilities, make Thanksgiving and Christmas arrangements, and then end it… All in favor?”
It was no fucking wonder why The Palace was operating so smoothly… I was almost certain I’d never seen so much accomplished in a five-minute brainstorming session between Vampires.
Brandon’s phone began ringing as we all agreed to Sookie proposal.
He crooned, “Hey sweetness. How my baby doin’?”
A man’s voice replied, “How’s Sook?” Trey Dawson. “She said she was fine, but she wasn’t talking right.”
“She’s good. Much better than earlier. Her speech is fine now… Leave it to her to almost die and only take one night off of work.”
“No shit. Don’t act like you aren’t the same breed of crazy though… So, you owe me one BJ. A deep one… We’ve got a return on your boy…”
“If you’re talkin’ about the dude Sook called you about, I’m not cashing that check.”
“Fine. Sook’s got a prettier mouth anyway… You with her?”
“Yeah. She’s right here.”
“Good. Put me on speaker…” As soon as Brandon touched the button, the Were started, “Adam Terrence Love married Rosalie Constance Stiles in 1958 in Indianapolis. Adam and Rosalie Love had one child, Charles Adam Love, in 1963. Adam died in 1987. He drowned while the family was on vacation at their place on Dogwood Lake. The wife was a real estate agent until three years ago. Charles finished school, Yalie like Jude, and went home to work in Evansville. House and cars, everything’s in his name, but his mother lives with him. No wife. No kids.”
Brandon snorted, “Fuck. We thought we were looking for a kid.”
“Yeah well, this guy’s good for something. He was just named the CFO of a huge pharmaceutical firm. Youngest one in company history, and by a decade.”
“D’you do a credit check?”
“His score’s so high he looks like he’s cheating… Brand new Benz for him, classic Jag for mom, house in a gated community, no student loans. He’s a good boy too. The only place his name pops up is when a guy he worked with went missing. The wife filed a report and Charles Love was questioned about the meeting the two had before leaving work on Friday. Guy turned up in a sleazy motel room that night. He suicided. The only thing off about the case was that someone called the front desk and asked for towels. Maid found the guy when she delivered them, but the pathologist placed the time of death 48 to 60 hours earlier…”
Sookie and I raised eyebrows at one another… If Love’s ability was similar to Olivia’s and he was questioned about the whereabouts of his coworker, he could have known where to find him.
Sookie giggled, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.”
Trey was still giving Charles Love’s contact information to Brandon when Jason, Pam and Olivia walked in. Pam and Olivia were holding hands and wearing their pendants (and nearly identical ivory sweater sets).
Sookie spoke in French to ask Pam, “Did you tell your little girl about our discovery during the leap?”
Pam rolled her eyes, “Yes, but can we discuss how you’re feeling first?”
Sookie shrugged. “Trey found her cousin. We’re pretty sure he’s got a gift too…” She switched back to speaking English to explain, “It was a long rough day. Momma’nyms were all over me and crying constantly. My eyes were hemorrhaged, I was punch drunk, and I was a complete fail for dexterity. First dose after sunset healed my eyes and helped with motor control. The second dose, about 45 minutes ago, that set me back to rights. I’m still feeling a little off, but much better. I’d say I’m operating at 90%.”
Feeling Pam’s skepticism, I offered, “Her speech was so affected, I translated for her during dinner. She isn’t exaggerating.”
As Brandon ended his conversation with Trey, he added, “And I’m vouching for her too.”
Pam practically ignored us. “Mom told Jason she thought you might be brain damaged. She wanted to take you to the hospital.”
Sookie nodded. “I thought I was brain damaged for a while too. I’m fine now though… And Eric’s fed from half of Shreveport.”
Olivia offered, “She looks fine, not like she was in an accident… What are you guys doing?”
“Mostly grownup talk. Bandon was telling me about a meeting he had and we were discussing some holiday secrets. Do you know what you’re going to be for the Halloween party yet?”
Olivia nodded and approached us so she could pet Sue. “I’m gonna be a magician. I get to wear a top hat and leotard… and the Mary Janes Gran put on my cake… What about you?”
“I’m going to be a fortune teller.”
“Fortune tellers aren’t blonde. Are you gonna wear a wig?”
Sookie shook her head. “Nope. I’m going to dye it… Black.”
Why wasn’t I consulted?
Olivia gasped and lunged for Sookie, putting her hands on Sookie’s head as though she could protect her hair. “No! Dark colors won’t come out unless you fry your hair! I know somebody who did it! She looked like a skunk while it grew out!”
Sookie giggled, “I learned that lesson already… but I’m going to use a dye kit, just for Halloween, and then I’m going to take a nice long nap snuggled up with Mini so my blonde grows back.”
“She can make your hair grow that fast?”
“She can. And my nails will be crazy long too. Eric and Klaasje are still trying to decide what they’re going to be.”
Olivia snorted, “And I bet they can’t be anything cool like Vampires or Werewolves, huh?”
Brandon offered, “Eric should go in full drag as a milk-maid.”
I scoffed, “Will you be wearing a diaper and a bib?”
Sookie giggled, “Cut it out, you two.”
I growled, “Perhaps I’ll go as a Faerie. I’ll wear all black and cover my face with glittery glycerin tears.”
Brandon volleyed, “I’ll go as a Vampire… I’ll go naked and roll in raw sugar.”
Jason offered, “Why don’t y’all both go as women… Y’all can hand out Tic Tacs with Midol and Pamprin labels.”
I looked back at him and asked, “What are you going to be dressed as?”
“Pam’s going as Elvira. I’m going as a mad scientist.”
Brandon snorted, “I still think you should go as Dr. Frank N Furter and Rocky Horror.”
Jason scoffed, “Kids, Bran, there’s gonna be kids there. You’re a damn pervert.”
“Am not! My costume’s completely G-rated!” He turned to Klaasje and asked, “Can you think of anything perverted about Bach?”
She raised an eyebrow at him. “The classical composer or that heavy-metal singer?”
There was a heavy metal ‘singer’ named Bach?
“Baroque. Johann Sebastian Bach.”
She shook her head. “Nothing comes to mind.”
He nodded and turned back to Jason. “THERE! Not perverted… and Mom made my damn costume, so fuck off!”
Jason rolled his eyes and scoffed, “Yeah… You’re going to start off as Bach…”
Brandon added, “Even planning to play Toccata and Fugue for the ankle-biters.”
Brandon’s eyes rolled up and he whistled innocently at the ceiling.
Pam offered, “Once the children’s party is over, the Bach’s ghost costume converts into De Sade’s ghost. He’s even ordered inappropriate gifts to hand out to adult trick-or-treaters.”
I couldn’t object… “Jealous. Well done.”
Brandon dropped the innocent act and held his hands out, nearly a foot apart. “How could I resist? I found suckers shaped like-”
Jason lunged to cover Olivia’s ears and Sookie, Jason and Pam all shouted, “KID IN THE ROOM!”
He continued, “And gummies… and edible con-”
Sookie blurted, “I’ll tell Gran you’re talking like that around a little one. She nearly pinched a hole in Jas last night… She’ll wait for you to go to sleep and surprise you.”
He laughed, “Fine. I’m just playin’ anyway.”
Olivia rolled her eyes at our fuckery and offered, “Klaasje could wear a pretty sheath dress and go… she could go as a snake. She wouldn’t even need fake fangs.”
Pam’s eyes lit up. “They make snake-eye contacts too, if you could deal with them.”
Klaasje nodded approvingly. “I like that idea…”
Brandon offered, “I know a place where we can get you a snake-skin corset…”
Sookie shook her head. “No… Y’all need to go inside… those women have enough nervous energy to light up New York City. They will jump all over making that dress for her.”
Jason nodded. “Amen to that. I can feel it from here… What about Eric?”
Brandon mooed again.
Olivia snapped, “Why are you mooing at him!?”
Without a G-rated answer, Brandon’s face puckered while the rest of the adults laughed at him.
Pam offered, “He could go for a spray tan and wear a bikini bathing suit. Be a life guard…”
Sookie snorted, “Eric in a bikini? When Jas won’t go as Rocky Horror? Talk about obscene…”
Brandon offered, “Cowboy.”
I growled, “Do you know how De Sade died? I do.”
He chuckled and blew a raspberry at me. “Old MacDonald?”
I growled, “Sookie save your brother’s life and make a suggestion.”
She smirked and hummed, “Jekyll & Hyde? Top hat, waistcoat… The perfect gentleman during the children’s party, and the bad boy can come out later.”
As she wiggled her eyebrows, I offered, “Sold.”
Jason offered, “I’ll call Alfred to set up an appointment unless you want to take your chances with a costume shop.”
Sookie rolled her eyes and snorted, “Jason’s tailor. Probably your best bet for a last minute job. His name is Ronald. Jas just calls him that because he’s a stuffy old Englishman you could picture as a butler.”
I nodded. “Thank you.”
Brandon blurted, “And if he can’t get you in, I’m sure we can find a white uniform and a little paper hat. You could be a milk man.”
Klaasje offered, “If Jekyll & Hyde falls through he could dress normally. After all…” Her too? “He is a sugar baron.”
I argued, “And tobacco! I’ve really enjoyed the visit, but it’s past my bedtime…”
Brandon chuckled as he stood, and I knew… I knew he had another joke… one for the road.
He acted perfectly nonchalant as he walked towards the door, and just as he opened it, he blurted, “You heard ‘em, Sook, get his milk and cookies,” and darted through the door as though I couldn’t catch him.
I growled, “He chose the wrong costume.”
Pam laughed, “He doesn’t have to know that until Halloween… But thanks for the warning. I’ll make sure we’re all armed with cameras.”
Klaasje snickered as she stood. “He’s calling me… But for the record, I’m not on his side.”
I narrowed my eyes at her, planning to ask her why she’d mention my Caribbean plantations if she was on my side, but Jason offered, “That’s not a call, this is…”
I was immediately distracted by my curiosity. I watched Klaasje sway towards Jason before correcting herself… she was just as amazed by the phenomenon as I was.
Jason corrected, “He was just givin’ ya a little poke or a tickle.”
Klaasje gasped, “Mein Got… I don’t know how to describe that… My Maker couldn’t have called me like that without hurting me… Can you do that to anyone?”
He shrugged. “Anyone in my range…”
Sookie offered, “Aunt Linda. Do Aunt Linda.”
Linda was in the house, more than the length of a football field away… That was within his range?
Jason continued, “It’s more like a child’s call to a Maker than the other way around… Makers’ calls are harder, more aggressive. The way Pam described it, I bet it’s because of the feeding and discipline aspects. When a child calls his Maker, it’s more need than dominance… I can repel folks too, make ‘em want to leave me alone. If what happened last night had been Pam and me, I wouldn’t a’had the problems with everyone dotin’ on me like Sook did…”
Before he was finished elaborating on his ability, his phone began ringing.
He answered, “Hello.”
Linda promptly replied, “I didn’t even know you’re here, Jas. What’s up?”
Klaasje gasped again.
“Just makin’ sure y’all aren’t playing strip canasta or somethin’… Liv had an idea for Klaasje’s costume, but she’s gon’ need…”
Linda cooed, “Oooooh, get y’alls asses up to the house then! We’ve been done with costumes for a week now and we’re bored.”
“K. Be up in just a minute…” He slid his phone back into his pocket and picked up where he left off. “I can isolate people, but at this distance, I was probably pretty sloppy… and I can follow folks. Sook and Bran can follow a person based on their minds, but I can track people through the hotel based on their moods as long as I can keep a bead on them.”
Pam offered, “I used to be proud of how much eavesdropping I can do with my hearing. The Stackhouses have been humbling… At least they’re entertaining. You should see some of the stuff they pull to relieve their boredom.”
Yes, I was curious enough… “Call me.” Klaasje didn’t have any children. She didn’t know the subtle difference between a Maker’s call and a child’s.
It hardly took a second for me to feel drawn in Jason’s direction… If I hadn’t known he was responsible, I might have thought Pam needed me… Under different circumstances, I would have dialed her number or set out to find her.
“Describing it as a child’s call is perfect. I could have mistaken it for Pam… Tell me you’ve used it on other Vampires to fuck with them.”
He chuckled, “Yeah, but that got retired last night. Now that I know what a Maker’s call feels like, through Pam anyway, I’ll use that. Can’t think of a better way to get a Vampire to back his shit down than cripplin’ his ass.”
Sookie giggled and held her hand up, immediately getting a high-five from her brother. “Nice. Bran’ll be jealous of that one.”
“Doubt it. He likes waving his gun around. You ladies ready to head on up to the house?”
Sookie moved to leave my lap and explained, “I’m gonna head up to the house with them.”
Pam rolled her eyes. “Subtle, Sookie. Very subtle.”
It had been obvious Sookie was giving Pam and me a moment alone… and I knew Pam and I needed to talk… but, did it have to be before bathtime?
No sooner than Jason closed the door behind everyone, Pam moved to sit next to me and sigh, “You scared the shit out of me last night.”
“It was very inconsiderate of me. I’ll avoid life-threatening automobile accidents from now on. Perhaps I’ll revert to traveling on horseback.”
She leaned over to rest her head on my shoulder. “Good. That was easier than I thought it would be.”
“I lost consciousness. You know I wouldn’t have let the pain transfer to you if I had the choice.”
“I almost lost you.”
And I almost lost Sookie.
“I’ll try to avoid dying so you don’t inherit the Kingdom.”
She reached up to slap my cheek, but she never moved her head from my shoulder. “Fuck your Kingdom. You know how many Vampires would have been giddy to feel their Maker in that much pain… I love you. I don’t want anything to happen to you…”
“I love you too.”
“Not good enough. I’m afraid you’ve forced my hand.”
“Meaning what, exactly?”
“You haven’t left me any choice but to move so I can keep an eye on you.”
As much as I wanted her to be closer, as much as I missed her… “You’re not leaving Shreveport on a maudlin knee-jerk reaction to a car accident, Pamela.”
“No. I miss you and you’ll be more than welcome if you chose to leave the States to live closer to me, but you aren’t allowed to uproot your life just because…”
“Shut. Up… Jason suggested moving to Eijsden right after we visited you. He could tell how happy I was to be with you again. While we’ve considered raising children we’ve discussed changes… specifically cashing out of politics. Now that we actually have Olivia, we aren’t just entertaining the idea of leaving, we’re sure. I was being stubborn. I was worried you’d be disappointed that I was giving up or looking for an excuse to leave the Area…”
When I opened my mouth to reassure her that I wouldn’t have been disappointed, she covered it.
“I said ‘shut up’… Fact of the matter is that I miss you. I want to be with you again. Jason bought the castle, planning to remodel it so we’d have somewhere to vacation with the family…”
I mumbled into her palm, “Not a summer home from Shreveport?” I wasn’t supposed to know Sookie had already explained that facet.
“No. The gift itself was so sweet I might be diabetic now, but he knows I want to be with you. In the process of being supportive, he’s eliminating my stall tactics. When I rose tonight, he told me he was estimating it would take two years… Waiting for the house to be rebuilt, closing up shop in Shreveport… I gave him the green light to sit down with the family.”
Two years. My pale ass. I could make it happen in a month.
“Meaning what exactly? They all have a vested interest in The Palace, and if you relocate, you can’t offer the protection they need as Fae.”
“In his little fantasy world where everything is perfect, he wants them all to go with us. He’s even managed to think of reasons they’d be willing too.”
“How soon? What do you need?”
Cars, houses, furnishings… I could certainly kill many an infuriatingly bored hour with preparing for their relocation.
“We’ll know more once we talk to the family.”
“Will you stay at the castle? I can have the building used for barracks converted to flats for the extended family or I could shop for properties.”
“Talk to Jason about properties, but we’ll probably stay with you for a while…” She snickered, “You feel like you’re about to squeal like a teenage fan-girl.”
I nodded. “I might.”
“Even I knew my excuses were bullshit, but… I almost lost you. Nothing like a devastating wreck as a wake-up call.”
“You mentioned Jason’s ‘little fantasy world’. Who do you foresee as part of the Stackhouse entourage?”
She sighed, “If Jason can sell Sookie and Brandon on relocating…”
“Because the three of them are inseparable… If Sookie and Brandon are on board with the move, Corbett, Julie, and the girls will follow. Alcide wouldn’t want to miss anything, so he’d at least be a frequent flyer. Gran and Linda are toss-ups… Jude and Hadley are a given. Once I don’t need him any longer, Felix will bring him onto your team. We can probably get Linda if we offer Tray and Nate positions in Limburg Koninklijk…”
“With more traffic, I’ll need more guards… You’re assuming Janice would move with Nate and Tray’s friendship with Jack and Corbett would be a draw, yes?”
“Yes, but it all hinges on Sookie and Brandon. They’re the keystones to the fragile framework of Jason’s fantasy.”
“I’ll begin sweeping the Eijsden area as though I’m playing Monopoly.”
She finally sat back to stare at me with her mouth agape. After a moment she gasped, “You aren’t going to use your new bond with Sookie to sway her.”
“Of course not.” The thought hadn’t even occurred to me.
“Why do you seem… you feel like you do when you play chess.”
I chuckled, “If that’s true, it’s because I can appreciate the ‘fragile framework’… But I think I’m remembering something that’s escaping you. The Sookie who’d been brought over, she was absolutely miserable without her family. Your keystones are both in the know about leaping and how miserable they are without each other. I don’t think they’ll be a hard sell.”
Her eyes bulged. “I’d forgotten about that… Don’t say anything to Jason though. He’s already hopeful enough.”
She said that as though she couldn’t feel how hopeful I was… It was bound to transfer to her bonded.
“I won’t say anything, but I’m not sure I can keep the ‘fan-girl’ feeling to myself.”
She giggled, “You love me.”
“More than anything. I might paint the castle pink in honor of your return.”
She snorted, “Don’t do that… Hanging pink curtains in all of the windows will do…”
“I can add some rose quartz to the pebbles in the drive.”
“Ooooh. Good idea… some pink water lilies in the moat too.”
“And the fountain… I might be able to arrange for pink and purple doves to be released. I’ve seen it done in blue.”
She rolled her eyes, assuming I was joking. “Are we going to discuss that you planned to bring Sookie over last night?”
I shrugged. “Do we need to?” I almost left it at that, but given our recent problems with communication, I explained, “Not only is she very important to you, but I care for her enough that I wasn’t thinking about anything but keeping her.”
She raised her eyebrow at me… the eyebrow might as well have asked if I slipped.
“You care for her?”
“I’m not having this conversation again. I just finished having it with Sookie before company arrived. Yes, I care for her. I enjoy her company even when I’m not fucking or feeding from her. I’d go as far as saying, knowing that there are leaps where other Mes have Sookies in a more permanent situation, I think They’re quite fortunate.”
Her eyes bulged again.
“You bonded to her and… now she’s Yours?”
“No. She was Mine before we bonded. I almost took the head of a young Vampire for thanking her, and the hands of an Elf for touching her.”
She stared at me for a moment before throwing her head back to cackle… She sounded deranged.
When she finally calmed down enough to speak, she teased, “Oh, this will be brilliant! ‘Mr. Fuck’em and Forget’em’ has fallen for ‘Miss High Expectations’…”
Yes, I was offended.
“High expectations? Are you suggesting I’d fall short?”
She snorted as though I was stupid for asking. “Yes. You aren’t after her money and you’re definitely attractive and smart enough for Sookie… But as soon as you fuck something else, you’re toast…”
Sookie had reset the bar… I hadn’t fucked anything since my last visit to Shreveport without comparing it to Sookie.
Pam narrowed her eyes and pressed, “Does she know she’s Yours? You said you talked to her.”
It looked like her face was going to turn inside-out. Something about ‘yes’ was hilarious.
“What did she have to say about her new status?”
Before or after I was berated for having feelings.
“It was lovely to chat with you, Pam… Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a bath to run.”
I left the sofa, but Pam stayed where she was and gasped, “Eric! You can’t just… Not… Not someone like Sookie! You can’t just waltz in and demand her to be a perfect pet from thousands of miles away.”
“If I wanted a submissive pet… well, constantly submissive… I would have had them all along.”
Pam shook her head. “What did Sookie say? You told her you care for her. How did she react?”
“WE are shopping for a jet to make the distance between us less of a burden.”
She gasped again, leaving her mouth open…
“Careful. Jason’s cock could fall out.”
She finally stood up… and slapped my shoulder as she darted from the house.
The biggest drawback to large tubs was how long it took to fill them.
I had more than enough time to feel Pam’s curiosity, and Sookie’s unease… and second guess adding the milk to the tub.
Sookie found me in the bathroom with a gallon of milk in each hand and rolled her eyes. “You need to ground her or something. She just crossed all the lines she knows better than to cross with you and she did it with my family in the room.”
“The type of lines that had the hens in my family thinking about planning a wedding… I’m warning you now, Eric, it’s on. I’m gonna get her.”
“Do I want to know?”
She shrugged and took a gallon from me to begin pouring it into the tub. “Basically, the white version of the dress I wore the other night.”
Lavender looked amazing as it was, but the way white would complement her tan… annnnnnd then I remembered Our wedding photo.
“I meant, do I want to know what you’re going to do to ‘get’ her?” and if she wanted my help.
She shook her head as she left the room again. “It’s probably better if you don’t. Culpable deniability and all…”
Fair enough. I knew better than to think Sookie would harm Pam. That was good enough for me.
Sookie returned with two additional gallons of milk and a large bottle of honey. “You know it’s bad when Bran tries to change the subject…” She passed a jug to me and while we poured she explained, “It’s only worse because you’re my ‘first boyfriend’.”
“You know what I mean… I haven’t introduced anyone I’ve dated to my family. My siblings and cousins, yeah, because we’re really tight and we’re always together… As far as my family’s concerned, you might as well be my first boyfriend.”
“Then it should make you feel better to know that’s the same reason Pam’s in shock… I don’t bother with names and I’m sure I haven’t given anyone a repeat performance in your lifetime, possibly your grandmother’s.”
And then there was the fact that I actually looked forward to spending time with Sookie… so much so that I didn’t mind that Pam had her own obligations that kept her busy.
Sookie tossed the empty milk container to the counter and shook her head. “Nope. Still gonna get her… Changing the subject… Tell me about being a sugar baron.”
“There’s not much to tell…” She began untying the sash on her robe and shrugged it from her shoulders. “I only set foot on the plantations once. It was actually our excuse to move to the States. I was in service to the King of Iberia. He sent me to deliver a gift to his Maker, who at the time, was the King of the Caribbean. I was paid for the job in property… and I may or may not have considered the change of scenery payment enough.”
She pushed her panties down and stepped into the tub. “What was the gift?”
The tub wasn’t quite full yet… as she leaned back the milky water washed over her stomach…
She slid underwater, submerging herself and sitting up again…
Little droplets of milk… everywhere…
What the fuck was I saying?
I couldn’t remove my clothing quickly enough…
As I stepped in to join Sookie, I finally remembered her question… “Slaves. Rodrigo seized several ships because Moroccan and Algerian piracy was a problem for him on his southern coast. He had more than he could use or sell. I walked away from the errand with several thousand acres of fertile soil. Once slavery was abolished, I ignored the properties for a while. There wasn’t much I could have done from St. Petersburg. When there was a change in rule, I was given a ‘pay or quit’ notice of sorts. I hadn’t been paying tribute to Rafael because it was part of the arrangement we had. When Wyannie took over, that changed.”
“Naturally…” Sookie unscrewed the top of the honey bottle and laid it on its side to dribble into the tub. “Did you not realize how far away California was from the Caribbean when you opted for Los Angeles?”
I wasn’t sure if she was aware of how affected I was until she held her hand in the stream of honey and sucked it from her finger.
“Some asshole told us the country was smaller than it seemed on maps… Of course, he’s been a New Yorker for centuries… Pam enjoyed Los Angeles though. The starlets.”
Sookie narrowed her eyes and growled, “I’m gonna get her.”
I chuckled and found her ankle to pull her onto my legs. “Would you like to blame me? I was vague when I spoke to her.”
Sookie gasped, “That bitch! How vague?”
“I told her I have feelings for you… and they existed before we were forced to bond.”
“And… and I’m going to want to get her too, aren’t I?”
“She started waxing romantic about destination weddings. Tropical beaches and icebergs… stuff they know about from leaping. And, ohmyGod, the way she went on and on… I broke an ex’s nose for playing Wedding-What-If…”
“I’m gonna bind Jason into his pants. Ha! That’ll teach her…”
We clearly needed to change the subject again.
“Come to visit me.”
She shook her head, confused by the sudden deviation. “What?”
I repeated, “Come to visit me. Come to Eijsden. We’ll ruin my house with sweat and cum.”
She laughed, “You want me in Eijsden? Without distractions? You’d get sick of me in one night.”
“I doubt that.”
She rolled her eyes. “Oh, because we’d just fuck all night, huh?”
I shook my head and pulled her hips closer. “As exciting as that sounds, it’s not mandatory.”
“Seriously? If our clothes stay on, you’ll get sick of me in a couple of hours.”
“That sounds like a challenge. What are the terms?”
She froze for a moment, staring while she considered her answer.
She finally asked, “You’re staying until the 1st, right?”
I nodded. “That’s my plan.”
“Okay… All night, every night, for the next week until you leave. No sunshine, no candy-coating. Just me and you. Like we’re handcuffed together. No fucking until 3AM.”
Fuck… eight hours with her, only to have two hours to fuck her…
“When I meet the challenge, your bags will be packed and you’ll be ready to spend a week in Eijsden when I rise on the 2nd.”
She whimpered and nibbled her lip. “Yeah.”
“Are you going to tease and taunt me to make it nearly impossible to wait until 3AM?”
She nodded. “Yeah. There wouldn’t be any fun in it for me if I didn’t.”
“Starting at dusk tomorrow night, yes?”
She looked between us and smirked. “Are you kidding? I’m not wasting this bath.”
“You realize that however cruel you are to me for the next week is going to come back to haunt you, yes?”
She gave an evil smile and leaned over to catch my lip between her teeth…
She dragged them away slowly leaving the sweetness of honey behind as she cooed, “Looking forward to it.”