Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Breandan announced he’d cut back his hours at the hotel to spend more time with Amelia and Sean during their visit. They were all sitting together in the sunroom, eating breakfast and complimenting Sookie on her latest version of Irish brown bread. It was a welcome development as far as Sookie was concerned, but she found it bothered her she was just hearing about it now along with their guests. ‘Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!’ she scolded herself, ‘You were wondering how you’d entertain them all day by yourself. Now you don’t have to worry about it!’
The day was overcast, so they decided to make a late start of it and travel into Slievemore. Breandan was almost bubbling, “We can do some sight-seeing. Dinner will be at the hotel. Of course, you will be my guests, and then we will visit the local pubs for music.” Having Amelia and Sean there seemed to bring the old Breandan back. He was the man she’d fallen in love with in Boston, happy and uncomplicated.
They had a marvelous time. Sean wasn’t interested in the local museum, but Amelia indulged Sookie’s curiosity while Breandan took Sean to start their pub crawl.
“You seem to like it here,” Amelia observed as they read over an exhibit on early Irish Kings.
“I do,” Sookie replied. “It’s as if I’ve come home. I can’t explain it, but everything here kind of seems familiar. Breandan tells me stories about Ireland and I just want to see all the places he talks about. You know, my Aunt Linda told me I can apply for dual citizenship since my grandmother was born here?”
“You’re kidding!” Amelia’s eyes widened. “That is so cool! My ancestors came from here, too, or at least some of them. Do you think I could get citizenship, too?”
Sookie explained what she had learned. “I think it’s only back to your grandparent, but there’s a process.”
“So, how far have you gotten?” Amelia quizzed.
“I haven’t started,” Sookie confessed. “I know!” she said before Amelia could start on her, “I’ve been here for weeks, but…”
“Don’t worry about it!” Amelia lifted her chin and had that ‘I’m taking charge,’ look. “I’m sure all that Breandan loving turned your brain to mush! Anyone that good-looking has got to be talented! Anyway, I’m here and this would be an awesome project! We’ll get you all settled and when you become rich and famous, I’ll always have the coolest place to visit!”
“I don’t want you wasting your vacation doing paperwork!” Sookie protested, but Amelia was having none of it.
She walked right over to the woman behind the information desk and announced, “My friend is thinking about applying for dual citizenship. We’re from the U.S.”
“I could tell by the accent,” the woman behind the desk might have been laughing, or laughing at them, Sookie couldn’t tell. She confirmed the rules and Sookie assured her that her grandmother had been born in Ireland. “Well, there’s a computer terminal set up for visitors such as yourself. It links you to the General Registry Office. You’ll need some documentation for your grandmother, her birth certificate and a marriage registration, if she was married here. You can look up the list of documents you’ll need at the Foreign Birth Registry website. That’s on the computer, too.”
Amelia grabbed Sookie’s arm and pulled her toward the computer. “Are you sure you want to do this?” Sookie asked again.
“Are you kidding? This is so cool! Consider it my late Christmas present,” and Amelia’s fingers flew. A half-hour later, they had an intimidating list of documents they’d need to acquire, but the General Registry Office had a copy of a civil wedding certificate for Adele Clare Hale and they’d printed it.
“Niall O’Hara,” Sookie read the name of the groom and she got an uneasy feeling.
“You think he’s related to Breandan?” Amelia asked.
“It’s a small country,” Sookie answered evasively.
They hadn’t been able to locate a birth certificate, though, and that seemed to be a pretty big deal. They knew from the wedding certificate that Adele had lived in Carreigh. Together, they walked over to the map and found the town. It was located some distance to the south. “It just seems odd,” Sookie told Amelia. According to her birthday, Adele’s birth certificate should be in the Registry. I wonder why we can’t find it?”
“Let’s ask the helpful information lady,” Amelia smirked, looking back at the woman who had directed them to the computer.
Sookie didn’t think it likely the woman could help them, but she was surprised. The museum worker nodded, “Your friend is right. It’s not common.” She looked at the wedding certificate and the dates. “Carreigh is to the South,” she commented, “In Kerry. Things move a little differently down there. It could be there was something unusual about your Grandmother’s birth, something that kept it from being registered the usual way.”
“Like being born at home?” Amelia suggested.
The woman laughed, “It would have been uncommon not to be born at home!” she explained. “No, there could be something else.”
Sookie thought of her Father’s birth certificate. The Father’s name was blank, but she was holding a wedding certificate in her hand. “What if she was illegitimate?” she asked.
“Aye,” the woman nodded. “That could do it. Carreigh is still a farming place and in those days, the local priests wouldn’t have been keen to have a girl under their protection ending up in the family way. They might have pressured her to give the child up and if she didn’t, they could refuse to baptize it or add it to the Church rolls.”
“But she had to have some kind of record,” Amelia protested. “After all, we know she was married, so…”
“You could try the Church there,” the woman told them. “It’s a bit of a drive, but the Church record would do the trick if that’s the case.”
“And you think the priest would have a record of it?” Sookie didn’t like the idea of inconveniencing her friend, but the idea of seeing the place her Grandmother grew up was beginning to take hold.
“You’ll have to ask nicely, but most are accommodating when it comes to Americans. He might even hand the book over to you, but you should be prepared to spend some time there. Nothing like spending the night and dropping some money in the pub to make things go easier.”
“We’ve got to go!” Amelia was practically hopping up and down in her excitement. “We could make an overnight of it! I bet there’s some charming little inn down there and we could all bunk up…”
“I don’t want to do this with Breandan.” It just popped out. Sookie couldn’t explain it, but she knew she didn’t want to tell him.
“What’s going on?” Amelia asked and she dragged Sookie further away from the Information Desk. “You two are having problems, aren’t you?”
“No… maybe.” Sookie shrugged, “It’s like the old Breandan is back with you here. Maybe it’s because he’s back to work. Maybe he was always like this. Maybe it’s just the stress of settling back into a routine.” Sookie stopped and took a deep breath. “I’m probably making too much of things. You know what this is? It’s that first rough spot all couples get. My Mother always told me I was a questioner and maybe I’m just making a mountain out of a molehill, but something is telling me that sharing this won’t make things between Breandan and me easier. I want to do this, but I’d rather tell him after it’s done.”
“You do hold yourself to some pretty high standards, girlfriend,” Amelia teased, trying to lighten things up. “I’m sure he’ll be flattered when he finds out. I wonder how long this will take? I’d love to see the expression on his face when you show him your new passport!”
For some reason, Sookie found herself remembering the night Breandan thought she purposely tried to get pregnant. He looked so feral, eyes shining and teeth bared, and the thought of it almost made her shudder. “Yeah,” she made herself smile instead, “he sure gets some interesting expressions.”
They caught up to their guys in a pub about mid-way up the hill. The men were already feeling fairly frisky and the women were soon caught up in their teasing. One pub led to the next, and then they broke for dinner. The hotel was expecting them and they were shown into the informal dining area. They held off on drinks and the food started to arrive. There was a chowder followed by mutton and a medley of root vegetables. Everything was wonderful and they were deciding on dessert when Mae approached the table.
“These must be your friends from America,” she spent no time pulling up a chair, inviting herself to the party.
Sookie struggled to keep her smile in place. Sean seemed immediately captured by her, but Amelia held back and assessed the other female. Mae leaned closer to Breandan, reaching for a piece of bread from the table, and her fingers seemed to accidentally brush across Breandan’s arm in the process.
“What are you up to, Mae?” Sookie asked. The words came out a little more sharply than she’d intended and she could see Breandan’s reaction. It was as though he was actually taking time decide which side to take and Sookie felt her temper rising.
“We’ll be leaving soon,” he told Mae, “but our friends are here for the better part of the month.” He took the time to formally introduce them, and then said, “I’m sure you have duties. We wouldn’t want to keep you from them.”
Sookie watched Mae’s displeasure register on the face that slid under her masque. Mae’s eyes slid toward her and she made sure Sookie saw her stroke Breandan’s leg before saying, “I really just came by to let you know you have an old friend arriving. I expect him any time.”
Breandan’s eyes narrowed, “That’s good to know,” he nodded, but then moved away from Mae, making clear it was time for her to go.
“She’s a man-eater,” Amelia teased once Mae was across the restaurant.
“She’s a cousin,” Sookie volunteered.
“I had a cousin like that,” Sean laughed. “I spent just about every holiday hiding from her. I think she fucked half the men in my family before she was done,” and he blushed before saying, “No offense!” to Breandan.
“None taken,” Breandan replied. “I guess there’s one in every family.” He made a point of taking Sookie’s hand in his and raised it to his lips. “Unfortunately, interacting with Mae comes with the job, but once we are living here, she’ll be spending most of her time with Sookie and I know my beautiful, American girl will put her in her place!”
“Just don’t kill her until you become a citizen,” Amelia laughed. “That way they can’t kick you out of the country!”
Breandan’s eyes narrowed, but Sookie intercepted her friend’s gaffe by saying, “Then I guess I better take up religion and start praying because it may be a little while before Breandan and I decide to get married and that woman is looking for a beat down right now!”
It was inevitable that they ended up at Ghoul’s Kiss. The sound of music could be heard coming down the alley and Sean wouldn’t be stopped. The musicians gathered in front of the stage. They were surrounded by instruments and Sean said, “I can’t believe I didn’t bring my mandolin with me!”
“We have house instruments.” It was Pam. She was wearing a spectacular black dress, far too formal for a pub in Slievemore, but she didn’t flaunt herself. Instead, she indicated a bank of instruments on stands near where the band was playing.
Sean didn’t need to be asked twice. His eyes were bright with drink and he kissed Amelia, then made a beeline for a mandolin, calling out, “Come on, Breandan! Let’s show them how it’s done!”
It was a foolish challenge for anyone to make in such a very American accent. Breandan barely hesitated before following Sean, lifting a fiddle from its carriage. Sookie was sure she heard someone behind her whispering, “It’s an O’Hara!” in a way that sounded impressed and soon enough, they all were.
Sean was good, but Breandan was better than they’d ever seen him. He played with real fire and his fingers flew. The music was brisk and feet were tapping. Amelia stood and pulled Sookie up with her. They started to dance and within minutes, the tables were pushed back and everyone seemed to be rising, forming sides, and dancing to the music. As she swung in the arms of another stranger, she found herself looking around for Eric. There was no reason to be searching for him. She was here with her boyfriend, still, her eyes searched.
“Are you looking for me?” She had been looking so intently she hadn’t seen him step into the line, but she was twirling in Eric’s arms, and then he physically picked her up, twirling her above the floor.
“I wasn’t,” Sookie lied, but she was sure he could feel her heart hammering against her chest, and then the line moved and she was twirling in the arms of another.
It seemed hours they danced, the music carrying them on. Sookie found herself in Eric’s arms several more times and each time, he teased her in some way.
When the band took a break, drinks were sent to their table. “You were wonderful!” Amelia gushed to Sean, stroking his sweaty face.
“I could listen to you all night,” Sookie told Breandan and inspired by the shots of whiskey, she leaned over and kissed him like they were all alone.
Amelia whooped and Sookie pulled back, blushing, but not really embarrassed. Breandan’s eyes were shining and he leaned in, but before his lips connected, they were interrupted by a tall, black-haired man. “Is this what you’ve been up to? I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes!”
Breandan reacted as if he’d been doused with cold water. His eyes flew to the man and he sat back abruptly. The pleasure that had lit his face was gone, replaced now by a sudden wariness. “Claude! Mae told me you were in town. I’m sure you’re just traveling through.”
Claude’s eyes were taking in first one and then another of the companions. His lip was curled and he seemed poised to make some unpleasant remark when Pam appeared. “I thought it was you,” She inserted herself between Claude and the table. “I thought you understood you’re not welcome in our establishment.”
“That was Carrack,” Claude snipped. “This is a different place.”
“Same name, same club,” Pam leveled a poisonous stare at Claude. “Eric told you not to come back. You know the consequences.”
“You are here by sufferance!” Claude sniped. It was escalating, so Breandan stood.
“Cousin, it appears your prior behavior hasn’t been forgotten. It’s good to see you. I’m assuming you’re staying at the hotel,” and Breandan took Claude’s arm as though to escort him out.
“You’re not?” Claude pulled back. “Then where…” and his eyes zeroed in on Sookie. She’d never met him, but she could see the face beneath the face and it was venomous. “You’re at the cottage.” It was a statement and Sookie realized that Claude was another of Breandan’s lovers.
“Mae is in town. Have you seen her?” Breandan kept talking, yanking Claude’s arm harder to get him moving. Pam remained standing beside the table, her arms crossed, and Sookie’s eyes traveled to the bar where she knew Eric was standing. He seemed to be staring directly at her and she realized just seeing him there made her feel better, but then she realized what she was doing and pulled herself back.
Breandan had Claude most of the way to the door. “Who is he?” Amelia was asking Sookie.
“Mae mentioned him before,” Sookie answered. “I think he’s another of Breandan’s cousins.” She kept her back straight and plastered her smile in place. She watched the door, but then one minute stretched into another. The band started to play and Sean held back, waiting for Breandan, and then he didn’t.
Finally, Amelia rose, saying, “This is ridiculous!” She marched out the front door and glanced around the street. There were a few pedestrians, but no Breandan.
“Sookie deserves better!” she mumbled under her breath and walked toward the far road. She was passing an alley when she heard a noise and that’s when she saw them. Breandan had Claude against the brick wall of the building. The noise she’d heard had been a moan, the two men entangled with each other. “What the fuck!” she said.
Breandan broke away, but it was Claude whose eyes captured hers. She remembered his saying, “You don’t know what you saw,” and then she felt as if things became a bit blurry.
The next thing she remembered, she was seated beside Sookie again. Sean and Breandan were playing and Sookie was asking if she’d be up for more dancing. “There was something I wanted to tell you,” Amelia said out loud, but when she tried to find the words, they seemed to dance away from her as quickly and nimbly as the music being played.
They all spent that first week together. There was a trip to Dublin and another to Limerick. They enjoyed each other’s company, exploring stores and the occasional castle. It was cold, but not as cold as Boston. Then, the second week ended and they found themselves left to their own devices.
Breandan had made a point of teaching Sookie to drive properly, on the left, so they had his car for their adventuring. Amelia wanted to see the Cliffs of Moher and that prompted more general driving across the countryside, looking for monuments and views.
It was more than halfway through the second week when Sean said, “I hate to ask, but I have some work I need to get started for next term. It’s the write-up on my internship and I was thinking, if you gals still want to drive to Carreigh, I’ll make arrangements to stay in town while you do it.”
Sookie had been thinking often about Carreigh, wondering what they’d find there, and Amelia latched onto the idea right away. They spent less than an hour searching for bed and breakfasts in the area, calling the first one with decent reviews. “I’m not usually open this time of year,” the woman told them, “but you’d be welcome,” and so it was arranged.
“Overnight?” Breandan asked at dinner.
“I’m dying to see the southern part of the country,” Amelia jumped in. “Sean’s sick of landscapes and besides, he really needs to get some work done. It will just be the one night and think how grateful we’ll be when we return!” Amelia batted her eyes at Sean who leaned in to capture her lips.
Sookie couldn’t help thinking that this couple had known each other longer than she and Breandan, but the easy affection still flowed between them. For his part, Breandan took her hand. “It will be the first night you aren’t in my bed since Boston,” he said softly.
He said the words in a way so heartfelt that Sookie felt her breath catch and she chided herself for comparing her relationship to any other. Her Breandan was ancient and wonderful, talented and hers, so she opened her heart to him as she said, “I’ll miss you, too.”
That night, Breandan’s lovemaking was tender and Sookie returned the favor. It was sweet and consuming, and even if Breandan didn’t declare himself hers anymore, it was still wonderful. “Tell me you love me,” he asked as he lay across her, stroking her stomach.
“To the stars and back,” she replied and that seemed to be enough.
The ride to Carreigh was long. It wasn’t the distance, but the roads that morning were icy and driving along the narrow mountain ways seemed especially treacherous. Amelia started singing in lieu of white-knuckling and when she was especially scared, she fell into show tunes. Soon, the two of them were belting out ”Oklahoma” at the top of their lungs, hoping they would make it off the mountains without sliding off an edge or rolling down a hill.
By noon, they were through the mountains and motoring around rolling hills, once more hugging the coast in their search for Carreigh. They found it tucked inland hidden behind two missed turns and one impossibly long wait behind a tractor. It was nestled between green hills that became more barren the higher they rose. There were sheep in this part of the country and the fields surrounding the town were dotted with them, grey and shaggy with bright colors painted on their backs.
The B&B was easy to find. It was just one in the cluster of buildings at the crossroads. “Won’t have to search for the Church,” Amelia laughed. It was sitting directly across the street; a tall, dark building with a graveyard to one side trailing down the hill beside it.
Their hostess was a broad-shouldered woman named Christine. She welcomed them at the door and shuttled them quickly up the stairs. “The room below is where I serve breakfast,” she informed them. Their room was near the top of the stairs and had two full-sized beds and its own bathroom. “Now, you settle in and I’ll bring some tea up for you in a half-hour.” She handed them a card with information about the place including the Wi-Fi password and left them alone.
“Do you think we can get lunch around here?” Amelia checked the card, but there wasn’t information about restaurants.
“We can ask Christine when she brings tea,” Sookie shrugged. “In the meantime, let’s get unpacked.”
It didn’t take long. They hadn’t planned on staying more than one night but, after the drive they’d had, Amelia announced she was taking a hot shower. She emerged in time to pull on clothes and join Sookie and Christine in the small sitting area next door. Their hostess had brought a tray with a teapot and three cups along with two plates of cut cakes.
Sookie’s face was beaming as she said, “Christine was telling me that during the warmer months, she’s full up. This inn is on one of the national marked trails and people come from all over the world to hike here.”
“Hiking!” Amelia said sarcastically, making a point of looking at her fingernails, “Sounds like a blast!”
“Even you would like this kind of hiking,” Sookie told her, and then turned to Christine.
“It’s a good system,” and their hostess went on to describe how hikers walked from one town to the next, staying at a different B&B every night. “And there’s companies that come and move your luggage for you,” she told them. “That way all you need do is carry your lunch and water and enjoy the view.”
“Sounds up your alley,” Amelia told Sookie and it did. Sookie could imagine the countryside she’d see, traveling from marker to marker.
“But you’re not here for walking,” Christine gave them a pointed look, and then waited.
“We’re here to see if we can find Sookie’s Grandmother’s birth certificate,” Amelia told the innkeeper. “We couldn’t find it in the General Registry website and a woman in the museum in Slievemore suggested we come down here and ask the priest.
Christine looked at Sookie, “You’re a fairly young woman. Could be there’s some here who remember your Grandmother. What was her name?”
“Adele Hale,” Sookie told her and both she and Amelia noticed the way Christine sat back. “What?” Sookie asked. “Do you know something about her?”
“You’re related to her, you say?” Christine asked.
“Did she do something terrible?” Amelia was almost giddy with excitement. “Was there a reason she ran away to the United States?”
“Amelia!” Sookie warned.
“What?” Amelia shrugged, “You could be related to some thief or infamous character!”
“I wasn’t even born when she left,” Christine told them, “so I never heard the whole story. I doubt Father Balint across the way can tell you much more. He’s new here, but he would be able to help you find your Grandmother’s Certificate.”
“Well, obviously, you heard something!” Amelia prompted, then leaned forward, saying “Come on! Don’t keep us in suspense!”
“It’s a foolish tale, but one that’s been passed down as a warning to the children hereabouts,” and Christine smiled and shook her head before saying, “Adele Hale was said to be stolen by the Fae. She was reckoned the most beautiful girl in the county and men came from miles around to court her, but it’s said she lost her heart to a fairy prince. Her mother begged her to stay inside and lock her door, but she wouldn’t listen, enthralled as she was, and one night he came riding over the hills on a horse, white and airy as any ghost, and Adele climbed up behind him and they rode away. The story goes that her fairy prince took her down into his fort, never to return.”
“That’s a great story!” Amelia told Sookie. “I wish I had that kind of story in my family tree!”
“Well,” Sookie rolled her eyes at Amelia, “We know she must have come out of the fort at least once, because we have her marriage certificate and we know she ended up in Minnesota where she had my Father.” Sookie sipped some tea before asking, “Do you think the priest might be available? It may take him a while to find things or he may have plans for tomorrow. I figure if we go over and introduce ourselves, it could get things rolling.”
Christine agreed and she pointed out the sidewalk that led behind the Church to the priest’s small house.
“By the way,” Amelia asked Christine before they left, “is there a place nearby for lunch?”
“There’s a lovely pub a few doors down,” Christine told them, “but it won’t be open until later. If you want, I can set you up with some sandwiches to hold you over until then.”
Sookie thought of the cake they’d both devoured and was relieved when Amelia said, “No, that’s all right,” but she checked the time the pub would be open twice.
Father Balint was younger than either of them anticipated. He told them he was from a few towns over and happy to be in a parish close to home. “Near my family, but not too close,” he winked. It was as Christine said. He was newly-assigned and didn’t know much of the parish history. “But what you tell me doesn’t surprise me. Father O’Neill was a priest cut from the old cloth. If there was something odd about your Grandmother’s birth, he would have taken it as a personal insult done him by a member of his own parish and your Great-Grandmother would have been made the example of the parish.”
“Small towns are pretty much the same everywhere you go,” Sookie shrugged. She’d survived her share of small towns and she recognized the price of not fitting in.
“We can take a look in the book now, if you like,” the Father offered and they walked into a small study lined with bookshelves. He confirmed the year of Adele’s birth and pulled two volumes from a low shelf. “Now, this one,” and he pointed to a thick leather volume, “is the official record of the parish. It would be where the births, deaths, and weddings were recorded. And this,” and he pointed to a slimmer volume backed in cardboard, “is the record for the sinners. You see, that was how Father O’Neill saw things. Sinners didn’t belong with the godly, even so much as to have their names in a book side by side.” He winked, but Sookie didn’t really see anything charming or amusing about it.
“Let’s start with the sinner’s book!” Amelia was having a fine time and she took the book carefully from the priest’s hand and opened it on the large central table. The priest moved the lamp a little closer and soon Amelia and Sookie were leaning over the book, trying to decipher the old priest’s spidery handwriting.
It took a while and some flipping of pages back and forth. It seemed Father was not so meticulous when it came to his record-keeping for those who were sure to be heading to hell and they soon figured out that some of the entries were not in sequence, but eventually Sookie found her. “Here!” and she pointed to the entry. It was just two lines:
Adele Hale b. May 2nd, 1923.
Mother – Colleen Hale. Father – Unknown.
“Does that mean she doesn’t have a birth certificate?” Sookie asked.
“Most likely,” Father Balint nodded. “It may seem harsh to you, but, at the time, these children of God were shunned. I’m sure Adele grew up to be fairly self-sufficient. Father would have seen that the good families of the parish didn’t consort with her for fear that the contagion of sin would taint them, too.”
“Explains why your Grandmother would run away,” Amelia chuckled.
“I guess,” Sookie nodded, and then asked the Father, “Do you think a copy of this would be enough to prove my Grandmother was born here?”
“Working on citizenship, then?” and Father nodded, “I can draw up some papers that should do the trick. Will you be around for another day? It’s best to get them stamped and registered and I can do that in the morning.”
Amelia and Sookie were surprised when they walked out to find a couple hours had passed and it was dark and much colder. “Suppose that pub is open now?” Amelia nudged Sookie and they walked down in the direction Christine had indicated.
The light was on and the door was unlocked when they pulled it. There was a man behind the counter and a woman standing before him. “Dinner or drinking?” she asked.
“Both!” Amelia told her and they were seated in a cozy booth near the fire.
There was a shellfish in pastry on the menu as an appetizer and they both ordered it as well as the stew with Guinness. There was plenty of bread on the side and they chose to wash dinner down with a local beer. “You think we should order a couple shots?” Amelia asked. “After all, it’s cold out there and we’ll need all the warming we can get before we head back to Christine’s.”
“Perhaps you’d let me buy the round for you?” It was a tall, black-haired woman. She was beautiful and Sookie could see she was Fae.
“This is without a doubt the nicest country ever!” Amelia announced, then, “I will be right back!” She got out of the booth and headed to the Ladies Room sign.
Sookie stared up at the woman who stared right back. “You can see what I am,” the stranger said. Sookie nodded. “Good,” the woman looked pleased. “That makes this all so much easier. I can see what you are, too. I must say, we don’t get many of you around here.”
“You mean hybrids,” Sookie nodded. “I guess folks like me aren’t exactly considered polite.”
The woman’s eyes widened, “Hybrid is a polite word. I’m surprised you heard it, but seeing us must have made you curious.” The woman motioned for Sookie to move, so she should slide into the booth beside her. “I suppose I should introduce myself. I’m Claudine Brigant and you should know that I’m your cousin.”
Sookie blinked, and then blinked again. “How do you figure that?” she stammered. She glanced toward the bathroom, hoping Amelia would take her time.
“Oh, don’t worry about your friend!” Claudine laughed. It was a tinkling sound and reminded Sookie of bells. “She’s suddenly discovered a desire to redo her makeup. She’ll be busy for a while. You see, your Grandmother, Adele, married my Grandfather, Niall, according to human custom. I’m not sure whether your Grandmother had a boy or a girl…”
“My Father’s name was Corbett,” Sookie told this beautiful woman. Now is was Sookie’s turn to ask questions. “Was my grandmother, Adele, Fae?”
Claudine laughed again. She seemed to like to do it, finding everything, especially Sookie, amusing. “Oh, no! Your Grandmother was very much human, but she was beautiful. She looked much as you do, although I only met her once. My Grandfather, Niall, he fell in love with her.”
“Then, the Fae do fall in love?” The words just jumped out of her and Sookie realized she’d been wondering this question quite a bit over the last few weeks.
“It’s rare,” Claudine shrugged “The Fae live through time differently than you. Love locks us to one place or one person, so it takes real effort and a strong desire for that to happen for us.”
“Sounds like love anywhere,” Sookie told her, “regardless of the species,” and then worried she’d offended Claudine, she said, “I didn’t mean anything by calling us ‘species.’”
“None taken,” and Claudine was laughing again. “It’s a convenient way to describe things. So, then, Corbett was Adele’s child. Niall will want to know.”
“Niall is alive?” and it was starting to occur to Sookie that Claudine was family, her family. Sookie had cousins here and a Grandfather.
“Of course, he’s alive,” Claudine nodded. “He didn’t hope to ever see you again. He will be happy to know you are here.”
“It just seems strange to think I have more family than I knew,” Sookie told Claudine. “I grew up with just my Mom and Dad and my brother, Jason.”
“Is Jason like you?” Claudine asked.
“In what way?” Sookie asked in return.
“You have the spark,” Claudine’s head tilted a little. “The magic of the Fae is strong within you.”
“I don’t think so,” Sookie replied, “We always said Jason was more like my Mom and I was more like my Dad.”
“And where is your family now?” Claudine asked. She seemed to lean a little closer, so Sookie shifted back.
“My parents are dead. Dad about eight years ago. Mom…” and a tear fell over Sookie’s cheek. Claudine reached forward and lifted the tear, then placed it in her mouth. Her slanted eyes glowed briefly and Sookie was so surprised, all she could say was, “Oh, my!”
Claudia didn’t seem to notice she’d done anything odd. “Niall will be unhappy to learn that. He doesn’t speak of your Grandmother often, but he misses her. Your Father would have been my step-uncle, so that makes us cousins,” and she leaned over and kissed Sookie’s mouth. Sookie immediately felt wonderful, even more wonderful than Breandan made her feel.
“How do you do that?” Sookie couldn’t help grinning. “Ever since I met you Fae folks, just touching you makes me feel like I’m growing things!” Sookie recovered a little, glancing around to see if they’d been observed, but no one was looking their way. “So, if Niall missed her, why didn’t he come looking us? Why did my Grandmother leave Ireland? She changed her name. My Father always called her Grandma Clare and that’s the name she used in Minnesota where my Dad grew up.”
“It’s a long story,” Claudine answered somewhat evasively. “And not truly mine to tell.”
“Well, the innkeeper told us one heck of story about my Grandmother being stolen away by the Fae and how some fairy prince took her away on the back of an enchanted horse,” and Sookie rolled her eyes.
“The people here have long memories,” Claudine laughed again, making Sookie wonder.
“Well, I guess seeing what I’ve seen, I shouldn’t really doubt anything, then, should I?” and Sookie stared toward the Ladies Room again. “Breandan says…”
“And who is Breandan?” Claudine interrupted her
“Breandan O’Hara,” Sookie told her. “My… well, I guess it’s still boyfriend. I came to Ireland with him and we’re living in Killary.”
“Breandan O’Hara, the Fae Prince?” Claudine was sitting very still.
“He never said Prince exactly, but he said his Father’s a King,” Sookie shrugged, “but Breandan isn’t like that. We met in Boston. He was there doing some business and we… well, we met and fell in love. When my Mom passed, he asked me to come home with him and now we’re here in Ireland, living together.”
“I see,” Claudine told her. “This changes things. She pulled a card from her purse. “I want you to keep this in a safe place,” she told Sookie. “I want you to remember I represent your family. The Fae protect their own and if you ever need anything, you must call me. I will help you if I can.”
“You know Breandan,” Sookie wasn’t really asking.
“Of course,” Claudine smiled, “There aren’t that many of us. We all know each other. I don’t mean to alarm you, it’s just I’m surprised. Breandan never struck me as someone who would become involved with a…” and Claudine stopped, then cleared her throat, and looked embarrassed.
“If it helps, I think he’s pretty surprised by it, too,” Sookie was smiling, but she wasn’t happy. “We’re moving into town in another month. We’ll be staying at his hotel in the manager’s apartment. If you’d like to visit and get to know each other better, you know where to find me.”
“You’re attached to him?” and Claudine leaned forward, pressing her attention in that way Sookie had come to recognize.
“If you’re thinking you can glamour me, you should just stop. That doesn’t work on me and yes, I’d say I’m attached to Breandan. Like I told you, I love him,” and Sookie looked at the Ladies Room. “Do you think you can release Amelia now? It’s just embarrassing how long she’s been in there!”
“Of course,” Claudine continued to stare at Sookie. “Are there other things you can do, other magic?” she asked.
“I don’t know exactly what you mean,” Sookie answered pleasantly. She wanted to like this woman, but she’d seen enough here to know that sometimes even the nicest exteriors could hide evil intent and Sookie could tell there were some ill feelings between this person and Breandan.
Amelia joined them and Claudine nudged a shot toward Amelia. “You’re behind,” she told the woman, then waved her hand for another round.
“I don’t think I should,” Sookie stammered as the second set of shot glasses was set on the table.
“Why? Where are you driving? You’re walking down the road in territory where you are under my protection. Enjoy yourself!” and Claudine lifted her whiskey and downed it in one gulp.
“Are you the mayor here or something?” Amelia asked.
“Something,” Claudine answered. She turned back to Sookie as she rose from the table, “I am glad you have found your true love. Understand that Breandan’s territory is different than mine. I can’t explain it, but your family would not be welcome there. Do hold onto my card, though. As I told you, call and I will come to help you.” Sookie was struck again by how tall Claudine was. She also noticed for the first time there was something familiar about her face.
“Do you have a brother?” she asked.
“Claude,” Claudine nodded before turning and leaving.
“So, who was she?” Amelia asked.
“She says she’s my cousin,” Sookie answered. She pulled Claudine’s card from her purse and looked at it. It was a heavy cream paper and it didn’t have much writing. Just ‘Claudine Brigant’ and a phone number. With a sigh, Sookie ripped it in two, and then ripped it across again. “She told me my family isn’t welcome to Slievemore? Then what is Claude doing there? No one aside from the folks at Ghoul’s Kiss seemed upset about seeing him.”
Amelia nodded, “I wouldn’t want to trust anyone related to Claude either!”
There was something in the way Amelia said it that prompted Sookie to ask, “What did Claude do to you?” Amelia opened her mouth to say, but realized she couldn’t remember.