It was a tight squeeze fitting Glad, Diantha, Eric and me in the Bon Temps house overnight. I ended up sleeping in my old bedroom and gave Glad and Diantha the bigger bed in the master bedroom so they could share. Eric and I spent a very… interesting night in my tiny twin size bed. He certainly seemed to enjoy it, and I got a small thrill out of making love in the bed that had been mine for so many years.
Spending our free night in Bon Temps had been a compromise. I needed to check on Bill’s house the next day, and my fairy family was coming the next night to meet Jason. I had talked to Claudine at length, and she agreed to help me convince Fintan that Jason needed to know more about his background. Most of all, I wanted him to be aware of the fantastic world around him, and to understand our place in it. It was a way to keep him safe, in my opinion.
Jason had changed considerably in the past few months, ever since I’d told him he was going to be an uncle. It seemed to sober him up. He was now dating one girl steadily, and it seemed to be serious, judging by the way he spoke about her. Her name was Michele with one “L,” whereas our mom’s name had been Michelle with two “L’s.” Both women could not be more different. I’d met Michele, and she was not the kind to moon over Jason like my mom had mooned over my dad. Maybe that was why Jason liked her so much. She was not an easy catch.
Claudine had said that Jason may not be able to wrap his head around the mighty revelation that he was part fairy, and I told her that if things went wrong I’d have Eric glamour him into forgetting the meeting. I was hoping it wouldn’t come to that. I really wanted Jason included into the family, even if they were not the most well-adjusted of peoples. At least they did right by me, for what it was worth.
The early morning, about half an hour before dawn, found Eric and me making good use of the bed. His feet were hanging off the bottom edge, and I was wedged between the wall and him, with Idony sleeping peacefully between us. We’d already made love once that night, and then we had talked a lot. Eric had been so stressed since Fangtasia had burned down that we had barely spent quality time with each other. After Neave and Lochlan disposed of Victor Madden, his stress had eased, and spending time in Bon Temps brought back good memories for him.
“The night I tucked you in this bed, I wanted to make love to you so badly,” he confessed. He didn’t want to say “the night your grandmother died,” which was kind of sweet of him. Eric knew how to be tactful most of the time.
“I know you did,” I said, pressing my body against his. “But I’m glad you didn’t. It made me fall in love with you that you were so attentive and sensitive to me.”
“Are you really in love with me, Sookie?” he asked, rubbing my nose with his.
“Silly question, honey. I’m head over heels in love with you, and I can’t believe you haven’t noticed,” I said and he smiled. He gave me an open mouthed kiss on my bare shoulder and I felt like I would melt. Yep! I was still very much in love with him. “Are you in love with me?” I asked shyly… I don’t know why.
“I’ve been in love with you since I first laid eyes on you. The feeling only gets stronger by the day.” He meant by the night, but I understood and smiled too.
“I think Idony will have your eyes,” I said, barely able to see them in the dark. I was sure she would have the glacial blue eyes of her dad.
“You may be right. Tow-headed too,” he said caressing my hair. I saw my baby girl the way Eric saw her, and felt a little heartache thinking that he was probably remembering how his children looked. He caught on quick, feeling the little sadness that had crept in. “It’s okay, Sookie. You’ve made everything better, my love.”
Eric left me and hid in his cubby hole for the day, and I slept like the dead until the smell of food and coffee beckoned. It was almost one in the afternoon when I finally emerged from my bedroom. Whenever the girls cooked they went all out: eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, fruit. Actually, that morning they had made crepes, and I was all kinds of happy about the unexpected treat. They both ate so much that they put even the pregnant lady to shame. They had found my old cast iron pan and made crepes the size of the pan; in other words HUGE!
“Can’t wait taseeBill’s ‘ouse,” Glad said and then stuffed her face.
I frowned in confusion. “Why’s that? I don’t like it at all. It reminds me of a haunted house on Scooby Doo.”
“Oh! That’s kindacool. We’lltellya ifit’s haunted,” Diantha said, looking a little too pleased at the prospect. Well, they could see auras… maybe they could see ghosts. I asked and they both nodded because their mouths were too full to answer properly.
After breakfast we took the truck to Bill’s house. It was still as eerie as ever, but now the gardens in front of it looked beautiful. I’d hired a landscaper friend of Jason’s to come every other week and keep everything tidy. He’d done a great job. Too bad it was wasted on the house. I’d also hired a crew to paint the outside, and they had done an excellent job of whitewashing it. It still looked like a creepy house with a new coat of paint. I wondered why I felt that way, I mean, besides what I’d found inside it and the shifter that had tried to kill us.
Glad, Diantha and I stood in front of the house taking it all in. The girls said they would check for ghosts, and by golly that was exactly what they did. We visited every room as I made sure that the new windows were sealed good and locked, dusting a few things here and there, and a couple of other small things. The lady I’d hired to clean the house every month had done a great job, and since nothing was getting dirty, she’d managed to find the time to polish the wood surfaces. She hadn’t said anything about ghosts or feeling creepy inside the house, but I caught motion out of the corner of my eye and realized that Diantha was moving very fast towards the second floor.
Glad and I followed slower than her. Glad was staying by my side because one of the girls always did unless Eric or Pam was with me. Besides, I couldn’t have moved as fast as Diantha anyway, and the baby made it a little difficult to breathe lately so I had to take it slow up the stairs.
“Whatchafind?” Glad asked as we caught up with Diantha. They were both looking wide-eyed at the end of a hall.
“IfindSookiewas right…” Diantha breathed out and I felt scared and excited all at the same time. She took my hand and somehow I was able to see what they were seeing.
There, at the end of the hall, was a person. It was a woman, and she didn’t appear to see us or even aware that we were there. She was dressed plainly in turn of the twentieth century clothes, and she was older, in her seventies was my guess. It was uncanny how the demon sisters saw the ghost. It looked as tangible and “there” as a real person.
“What is she doing?” I asked in a whisper, but the ghost didn’t hear me.
“She’snotatrue ghost, she’slikearecording,” Glad explained and I turned to look at her confused. She slowed down her speech for me. “Thatghost is a residual haunting. Shedon’t seeus and won’t interact with us. ‘Slike watchingamovie.”
I understood. I’d watched some ghost shows, enough to know what Glad was saying. I was still very curious. “I wonder who she is…” I said with a lilt in my voice, like a question but not.
“Relatedta’ Bill, no doubt,” Diantha said.
We watched in silence for a long time, following the woman here and there. She was interacting with objects that were no longer there. I felt vindicated, and couldn’t wait to tell Eric that I was right… or at least half right. That ghost was not out to scare us out of the house. She was, like the sisters said, a movie. At one point it flickered and the image died, so I resumed my inspection of the house. I was happy that the girls were able to show me the ghost. I felt better knowing what kind of ghost it had been and that there was nothing to fear.
“How do I look?” asked Jason. He was wearing a button up light gray shirt and a dark gray tie with black slacks. It all looked brand new and carefully pressed. I had no doubt in my mind that Michele was responsible for the ensemble.
“Handsome,” I answered sincerely. My brother was certainly gifted in the looks department. We were all sitting around my kitchen table, waiting for Eric who had just woken up and was taking a quick shower. In a few minutes my fairy family would arrive and hopefully we would have a small reunion. I had told Jason some parts of it.
I’d explained that my telepathy and his ability to attract the females so easily had to do with the fact that we had a little bit of supernatural blood in us. He had nodded and understood, mostly because my telepathy wasn’t a normal thing. Then I tried to explain that we were not Grandpa Stackhouse’s grandchildren, but I hinted at the fact that he had still loved dad and Aunt Linda very much. I wasn’t sure exactly how it had all happened, and if Grandpa knew that they weren’t his children. All I knew was that I was right and that Grandpa had truly loved his family, because I had read that in his mind when I’d been a little girl. He’d been a good man.
Jason seemed to understand, and he also knew that we were about to meet with our extraordinary side of the family. I hadn’t tried to sugarcoat it. I’d tried to introduce him to the shocking news little by little. I’d been introduced to the fact that I was a princess during a time when knowing that information was necessary. Jason would know that he was a prince, and he didn’t really need to know that. But he needed to be part of his family, and his family had to make him a part of it. No matter what our greedy great-grandfather had asked from Queen Sophie-Anne to solve the problem with me, he still helped when I needed help. I could be pragmatic.
Eric emerged from his shower looking good enough to eat, and even Idony seemed to know that her Daddy was nearby because she woke up and kicked me. I leaned back in my chair and stretched my shirt over my belly, and all five of us proceeded to watch her run around, making my tummy stretch and bulge in places. Jason reached out and put his hand on me, filling me with thoughts of him holding his baby niece. He imagined her blonde and blue-eyed, but looking more like me than Eric. I smiled and looked up at my husband, who was watching our exchange with a sort of… prideful peace, I wanted to say. He moved to get the door and that was our cue to go to the living room.
Jason carried the tray with the two pitchers of peach iced tea and glasses, and I carried the tray with the cupcakes I’d made. They didn’t exactly go with tea, but fairies didn’t care about that, as long as the offerings were sweet and delicious. Glad and Diantha had already declared everything delicious, so I was confident that they would be well received.
Niall entered first, nodding at Eric and looking like he was going to a board meeting in a dark blue suit. His blond-almost-white hair was brushed back completely, and he was carrying his staff. I’d left my shields down to gauge Jason’s reaction, and he was taking it all in slowly, not really passing judgment yet. The little bit of preparing we’d done had helped him a lot.
Next came Fintan, our grandfather, and right beside him was our great-uncle Dermot, both wearing outfits similar to Jason’s. I’d seldom seen Dermot, but there was no confusing him. He looked exactly like Jason, maybe a few years older. Even Jason was taken aback. He didn’t say anything out loud, but I could see it was costing him not to say one of his usual “well, I’ll be damned.” I smiled wider and he seemed to read my mind. He elbowed me jokingly, knowing I was reading his mind.
The last one through the door was Claudine, who made a bee line for me and hugged me. She also hugged Jason for good measure, since they’d already met. I suspected she was doing this to calm both of us down, more Jason than me.
“Welcome,” Eric said, then started making the introductions. He was the master of his house. I let him, even when my own instincts told me to take over this meeting. I had to remind myself that there is nothing wrong with letting a man take ownership of his family and his home. Besides, Eric needed to be in control. He felt proud of me, and even of Jason. We belonged to him. The way he thought of us… we were of the Northman clan. That’s the best way I could describe it.
Everyone took their seats and Glad and Diantha excused themselves. Fintan sat near Jason. He was in charge of explaining everything. I sat on an armchair, and Eric sat on one of the arms, making sure to keep constant contact with some part of me. Niall preferred the armchair closest to the fireplace, across from me and Eric. He was eyeing us and smiling. I think that was the first time he saw me pregnant. Dermot remained standing close to his father.
Claudine did me the favor of distributing the drinks and the food, knowing it was getting uncomfortable for me to lean forward. We spoke a little bit about not much at all (the hot weather, the tornadoes further north and how horrible they were, whether or not Louisiana would be in line to get hit with another hurricane this year, et cetera).
When the cupcakes were eaten, and most of the tea was gone, it was Fintan’s turn to speak. Jason listened carefully to everything Fintan was saying. He explained it to Jason just like he’d explained it to me: our grandmother was beautiful, young like me, and he’d been instantly smitten. She wanted children very bad. Thankfully (again) he didn’t go into any more detail than that. Jason nodded slowly, trying to take it all in. He wasn’t having as hard a time about it as I thought.
“So I’m a fairy?” Jason asked.
“You are only part fairy, one eighth to be exact,” Fintan corrected, “just like Sookie.”
“Is that why Sookie can read minds?” I knew the question had been bugging Jason. He didn’t want to read minds and didn’t envy my power. He was acting like the overprotective brother. His question was charged with “how could you do that to Sookie?” and a hint of “it’s not fair.” I couldn’t have agreed more, but I already knew the answer to all those questions: genetics. Pure and simple and screwed up.
“Yes, that’s how come she can read minds,” Fintan answered and shot me an indulgent look. He knew my plight well.
Then I remembered something. “So how come I can sense vampires and y’all can’t?” I asked Fintan, but I would accept anybody’s answer.
“That was my doing, I’m afraid,” Fintan answered and made a face of apology. “Your sponsor gifted you with that ability. He thought it would come in handy when we realized you were telepathic.”
“Your godfather, if you will,” Fintan explained, then decided to elaborate. “The sponsor of all my descendants, a good friend of mine, and a demon. I think you know him,” he said, pointing in the general direction of the kitchen, where Glad and Diantha were sitting patiently.
“Mr. Cataliades is your friend?” Eric asked, though I had understood that too.
“Yes, Desmond and I go way back,” Fintan said and smiled.
“So why did he ask me for proof that I was related to Prince Niall when I told him?” I asked, remembering that night at our hotel in New Orleans when he came to visit with Andre.
I should have known that Fintan would pick up on my thoughts. “Perhaps he was trying to keep up appearances for that other vampire that was present. It is best if nobody knows that Desmond is your sponsor,” he warned.
“Oh, jeez!” I said and leaned back in my chair. Eric squeezed my shoulder in solidarity. He thought it was screwed up too. There was a lot of that tonight.
“I can’t say that I approve of giving Sookie the extra burden,” Niall piped up, “but I can understand why you did it.” Well, well, well… whatdayaknow? Niall hadn’t known about what Fintan had done.
Jason was following the conversation and taking it all in. He was formulating some really good questions, like the ones I had about Idony. “Will my children be telepaths?” he asked suddenly.
“There’s a possibility,” Fintan said, and I knew he was being cryptic. Then I remembered he was supposed to look into Hadley’s son, Hunter.
I felt my stomach do a quick flip-flop. “Is Hunter a telepath?” I asked, but I could barely make the words come out.
Fintan looked at Niall, then at Jason, then at me. “Yes.”