That simple word coming from my brother was like a stake through my heart. My answer to his command was to tell him everything.
He thought, rightly, that my being turned was something I’d asked for, but he didn’t know how it had happened. I had to explain what a blood bond was, that I couldn’t be glamoured into being okay with dying, that Eric had devised a way to turn me by accident on purpose, and what happened to my body afterwards – I really was dead for a few days. How my views on blood and death had changed forever. How I no longer cared if I took a life because that person was meant to die anyway. And, finally, how I knew all this without a doubt.
“I have something to tell you about Gran,” I began, and Jason seemed receptive enough. He was trying hard to understand it all, to listen rather than pass judgment, which was actually difficult for him, but he was trying nevertheless.
Jason nodded, afraid of speaking for now.
I continued, “Our grandfather was not who we thought. Gran was never able to conceive children with Earl Stackhouse.”
He took a deep breath, absorbing the information at the same time that he felt the blow of it. It’s not every day that you’re told you are not who you thought you were. “Who was our grandfather?” he asked carefully.
“A half-fairy man by the name of Fintan Brigant.”
“Fairy? Like the ones that…”
“Yes,” I interrupted, fearing he would say the words that would hurt me. I simply couldn’t bear his talk of Neave and Lochlan and the way they had tortured him. Rather than hear him say it, I interrupted him. I was such a coward.
Jason cleared his throat and shifted uncomfortably in his favorite chair. He was still convalescing, even though all his wounds were healed. I imagined that after my own torture I must have looked the way he did. The story he’d given to his employer was that he’d been in a car accident in my car, and it was easy enough for me to procure the necessary paperwork for him to be excused from work. It was the least I could do.
“Anyway,” I continued, “Gran learned that you never, ever, thank a fairy, because when she did, she ended up owing Fintan favors. Although, as far as I understand, she was very happy that she was able to have children finally. Our Grandpa Earl was happy with his sudden family as well.”
“Do you think he knew that Gran cheated on him?”
“I don’t know for sure, although I don’t think Gran knew of every single time that she was with Fintan instead of Grandpa. Fintan could disguise himself and did so several times.”
“I’ll be damned,” Jason whispered.
“I do know that Fintan loved Gran very much.”
“How do you know all this? How did you find out?”
“Gran left me a letter inside that old desk in the attic,” the one that was probably still there because I hadn’t moved it when Jason and I had exchanged houses.
For Jason’s sake, I didn’t want to tell him about the cluviel dor, but also for his sake, I had to tell him everything. So I did, but bound the information inside his brain in such a way that he would be able to think about it, use the information knowingly and with care, but never be able to speak about any of it, in any way, under any circumstance. That would ensure that nobody could glamour the information out of him, or torture him for it – God forbid.
The only acknowledgment I got from him when I was done explaining the cluviel dor was, “That explains so much.” He looked at me pensively before his next question. “How come you can read minds, then?”
One more time, I told him everything: that the same half-demon that had delivered the cluviel dor to Gran was our sponsor, that he had given his blood to Fintan and Gran, and that their offspring could pass down the telepathy to anyone who had the essential spark like me.
“I guess, better you than me, huh?” he mumbled.
Not to behave like a total lunatic, but I took offense to that even though I didn’t show it. Not overtly. “What do you mean?”
“You’re the smart one, Sookie. If I’d been telepathic, I would have used the gift for stupid shit like getting into women’s pants.”
Fair enough. His honesty made me smile. “Chances are you wouldn’t want to have sex with humans either,” I shook my head sadly.
He nodded, apparently aware of my previous troubles. “But now you can read everyone’s minds. Doesn’t that drive you nuts?”
I shrugged. “I can control it better now, much better, actually.” And then, being the good sister that I am, I also concealed the fact that I could still read minds within my brother’s own mind.
Even though I hadn’t cooked in almost a year, I cooked my brother several meals for him to save and eat throughout the coming week. While I was at it, I cleaned the house, although the blood and gore had already been cleaned by a special crew that Eric had hired. They had also repaired anything that had been broken, or else replaced it. I was thankful that Jason’s favorite chair had remained whole. It was a small comfort to him.
After visiting my brother that late Monday night, I went straight home. I found Eric and Pam upset at each other, both talking in loud voices from his home office. Since there was no way I wanted to get upset at either of them, or have them be upset at me, I went to the den and turned on the TV instead. Even vampires have to decompress.
“Hello,” a shy voice said from a nearby chair.
Startled, I turned quickly and noticed a beautiful woman, thin and willowy, who apparently had been in the den the whole time, sitting in the large chair and getting swallowed up by cushions. She immediately became apologetic to have caught me by surprise.
“I’m Miriam. I thought Pam might have mentioned me.” She sat up and closer to the edge of the chair.
Immediately, I willed my fangs to retract back into my gums and forced myself back to calm. “Hi, Miriam. Pam hadn’t mentioned you to me, I’m sorry. My name is Sookie, how do you do?”
She smiled shyly. She was the complete antithesis of Pam. I’d only met her once in my other life, and she’d died soon thereafter. Pam knew this, which was probably why we hadn’t known anything about Miriam at all. And, I noticed with regret, the reason I hadn’t noticed her presence before she spoke was because she didn’t quite smell right. Her scent didn’t scream “human” to my nose.
“Pam and I met about two months ago,” Miriam started to explain, “before she got sick.”
Wow! During the time I’d been doing nothing, only studying how to make a cluviel dor, Pam had started a relationship with this woman. I truly hadn’t noticed, so immersed I’d been in my own pursuits. It made me a little proud that I’d stayed out of Pam’s head so completely that I hadn’t even perceived that she was in love.
Smiling, I searched for answers, both spoken and not. “How did you meet?”
The picture in her mind was actually a very happy one. She was so taken by Pam, who had behaved like the wonderful, truly nice person I knew her to be. They were both smitten with each other – love at first sight. It happened one night when Pam had been invited to a nighttime game of golf in nearby Bossier City. Miriam had been at the shop and the meeting had been serendipitous. She wasn’t supposed to be there that night at all, had in fact skipped going somewhere else with a group of friends citing her health that day was not great, but had gone shopping by herself instead. They ended up playing golf together that night, with Pam helping since she was the only one who could see perfectly in the dark.
The hissing and arguing continued in Eric’s home office while Miriam answered my question in a low voice. But all I needed to know, I’d already gathered from her mind, even Miriam’s melancholy about her own situation, and her guilt for being the one to put Pam at odds with Eric.
Whether she said it aloud or not, I addressed her concerns. “Don’t worry about those two,” I made a dismissive gesture in the general direction of the office. “They fight like this all the time.” Not really, but I didn’t want to scare the poor woman.
Miriam frowned in disbelief. Obviously she was way smarter than I’d given her credit. Rummaging through her mind, I also found that she was a lot more courageous too. She was battling cancer, but she had gone through the stages of grief in quick succession until her acceptance turned into full out battle. Miriam was confident that she would beat her illness. I found myself rooting for her, even though her days were counted.
Could turning her be the way to circumvent her death? I was sure this was what Pam was arguing with Eric. Once again it was out of his hands and she needed to seek the approval of the Louisiana regent. She might actually get it this time.
The sudden silence from the office made us take notice. Pam exited slowly, her head held high. She nodded at me, took Miriam’s hand, then they both left. Miriam gave me a polite wave before rounding the corner to the kitchen. Eric plopped his large frame on the sofa next to me, gathered me close and kissed my temple.
He knew what I was wondering and tried to answer my unspoken question. “It’s not that I want to deny Pam her love, but turning a person is serious.”
I almost wanted to laugh. But didn’t. “How long did you know Meg or Pam before you turned them?”
He sighed. “It’s different nowadays.”
“Not really, not if Miriam wants to be turned and Pam wants to turn her.”
Eric was thinking hard, but not for long when he reached for his cell phone and typed a few lines on an email. “There. I asked for approval.”
“And if Victor won’t approve?”
“Then we do for Pam what she did for us.”
I nodded and smiled. Of course we would. “Do you think Miriam is too sick to be turned?”
“Not if we do it soon, before the treatments make her worse.”
The fact that he said “we,” and not “Pam,” was encouraging. I didn’t expect him to turn another, of course, but he was not so mad at Pam that he would leave her without guidance or recourse.
“Did you have somebody’s approval before turning me?” I asked, curious. He’d never said.
He moved his head from side to side. “Sorta.”
I snorted at his unexpected use of the word, then laughed when he smiled. Finally I settled enough to listen to his answer.
“I didn’t have Sophie-Anne’s permission, nor did I seek it. I was going to turn you and ask forgiveness later. But I did have permission from Meg, and the kings and queens in Europe have reciprocity, since a lot of vampires move around anyway. It depends a lot on the vampire death rate.”
Well! I wanted an answer; I got it. Never again would I accuse him of not telling me vampire business. I was now mired in it, what with working alongside him at Fangtasia, and seeing his subjects and his sheriff duties almost every night.
“Would you like to watch a movie?” he asked, letting me go to reach for the assortment of remote controls that ran his entertainment system.
No sooner had I answered and he was kneeling at my feet in a most un-Eric way. I sat up immediately, fearing something might be wrong with him. Weren’t we about to watch a movie? What happened? Did he fall off the couch? Was he in pain? None of the above? All of the above? I claimed his face and searched for clues, but other than looking serious there seemed to be nothing wrong with him.
He took my nervous hands away from his face and held them tight in his, studying them, one thumb idly playing with the rings on my left hand. He smiled in an amused way. “Your hands smell like onions.”
“I cooked for Jason,” I mumbled, still unable to figure out what was wrong and not wanting to look into his mind, fearing something really bad.
“It’s not the first time. I almost miss the smell. It reminds me of home.”
Eric got closer and looked deeply into my eyes. “Don’t feel sorry.” His voice was tender and deep. “You are my home.”
He reached into his pocket and produced the tiny millefiori bead, gently placing it in the center of my palm. He closed my hand around it and kissed my fingers as he closed his eyes. “Tell me again what that vampire said when he wished to meet the sun.”
My heart sank and fear took its place inside my ribcage. Did Eric want to give it all up? Why now? Without knowing more, I wouldn’t find answers to my own questions, and I had to trust that Eric would tell me without my invading his privacy and searching for the answers within his thoughts.
I screwed in my courage and answered with as much detail as I remembered. “Godfrey was ancient, but he looked like a teenaged boy. He felt the guilt of the countless young lives he’d taken and the rapes he had committed. I guess he’d done it for so long that even coming out of the coffin wouldn’t stop him from continuing. If you recall, Godfrey was misguided in many ways, wanting to die along with another vampire who didn’t share the same level of guilt. But I think he was just scared of dying alone.” I paused and caressed Eric’s hair with my free hand. “Why do you ask, baby?”
He shrugged. “My death is fast approaching. I thought that perhaps I could feel some sense that I’m done with my time here, but I don’t. There are yet so many things I want to do. I have no guilt or regrets. I just want to keep on living.”
“Then you will,” I said with as much conviction as I could infuse into my words. Meanwhile I wasn’t sure if I could follow through. However, I knew this much: I would try anything, everything, to save Eric’s life again.
“Mighty Sookie will rescue the whole world if allowed,” he laughed. Laughed!
Of course I would. I’d been trying to rescue everybody for years, but now I actually had the means: super strength and a super mental ability. Not to mention that if we could make the cluviel dor, it would make me unstoppable. A glorious force of nature. A goddess.
We had several busy nights ahead of us at Fangtasia, but we made plans to be alone in our home the next time the bar was closed on Christmas Eve. We were going to attempt to make the cluviel dor and I finally had the meaningful small trinket that would play host to all our magic; a tiny piece of Eric’s past that he had passed to me, his future. It meant something to both of us. If we could both infuse it with our love and whatever fairy magic I still possessed, then we could change history, if we so chose.
Even though I worked that whole week to the point of exhaustion, every morning as the sun rose I spent time writing down the steps we were going to follow to make the cluviel dor. I figured I’d spent enough time doing research and trying to understand the process and the frame of mind needed for the assignment. Now I had to work on the ritual.
Throughout the week, Pam would stop by Fangtasia and check on my progress with the bar, saying very little as she checked the books and the orders, making sure to point out any mistakes or lapses, but otherwise giving me free rein. She looked a little depressed, definitely subdued. Once in a while she would ask Eric a quick, “Anything?” and he would have to shake his head. She was checking whether Victor had approved Miriam’s turning. Eric had sent him a message in every way he knew how, except carrier pigeon. So far we’d heard nothing. Either Victor was extremely busy, or else he was up to his old tricks.
“Short of me going over there and asking him…” Eric said to me one night when Pam left crestfallen. I hadn’t been in the office while they spoke, preferring to let Pam air her business with her maker in private.
“He’s in New Orleans,” I pointed out.
“I’ll go with you,” I said. “If he’s against it, then I can talk him into approving it.”
Eric nodded thoughtfully. “We’ll bring the cluviel dor with us.”
“That’s if we’re successful the first time attempting it.”
And that was the point of it all. No matter how much I’d prepared for the act of making the love token, no matter how much meaning we gave every step of the ritual, we could still fail miserably simply because neither of us was an actual fairy. But nobody could ever accuse us of not trying.
And, if we were successful, we would try to make another, and another, and another, anything to keep our family safe forever.