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.
Fran was dead. It was a reality that hit Sookie with each item she picked up in Fran’s house. There were particular items that had been set aside in Fran’s will and those she’d packed first. Most of her mentor’s books were donated to Wellesley College, the place she’d taught and found the love of her life. The remaining first edition Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters went to Sookie. ‘Because I know with you, they will live forever,’ the old witch had written.
There was an odd combination of furniture and knickknacks ear-marked for Lora and Sean, and other people with whom Fran felt connections. To Rick, the witch left a small assortment of things; toys he’d loved and the blanket he favored as a child. ‘Which I may allow him to live long enough to enjoy,’ Sookie thought sourly.
The remainder of Fran’s things were to be sold, along with the house. The money would be unequally split between Sookie and Rick. Sookie would receive $500,000. ‘Your Get the Fuck Out of Town Money,’ Fran called it. The remainder, an estimated $4 million, would go to Rick.
Sookie glanced at the kitchen table where she’d spent so many nights sitting across from the old witch, drinking tea. ‘People are stupid to pay this much for any piece of dirt,’ Fran had told her, pushing the most recent appraisal of the brownstone toward Sookie, ‘but I’m not too stupid to take their money!’ Sookie placed her hand on the back of Fran’s chair as though touching it would bring her mentor back to her.
“I miss you,” she whispered, glancing down to see first one drop of blood and then another hit the wooden chair.
Then, Sookie jumped as one of Fran’s good linen napkins struck her. She twirled to find Pam Ravenscroft glaring. “You are hopeless, Sookie Northman! We are never getting out of here if you keep this up. I have things to do at home and you know I can’t leave you on your own, so wipe that shit off your face and get moving!”
“I’m not ruining Fran’s good linen,” Sookie snapped, and then, carefully, refolded the creamy cloth. When Pam remained standing in the hallway, arms crossed, Sookie sighed. “You’re right, I’ll get ahold of myself.”
“You told those people in Rhode Island you’d be there tomorrow,” Pam reminded her for the third time since rising. “Just let me call someone and we have all this stuff moved into storage. They’ll ship it to New Orleans where you can sift through it until it turns to dust.”
“I know, I’m being too sentimental. Maybe we should get movers, but let’s see how much progress we make tonight. I swear, I’ll step it up,” but Sookie couldn’t help running her thumb over the soft cloth of the napkin she remembered before carefully setting it on the table. Taking a deep breath because it felt necessary, Sookie walked to the sink, ran some water, and used the washcloth she’d placed there specifically to wash blood tears from her face.
“I mean it, Sookie! Tonight, and we’re out of here. This place is one big dust trap. I’ll never be able to get my suit clean!” Pam turned sharply on her heel, stalking back to the dining room where she’d been working.
It wasn’t just Pam’s way to keep Sookie moving. Pam was irritated and it showed in every tap-tap of her stilettos against the tile hall. Pam’s accompanying Sookie to the funeral hadn’t been either of their first choices. It wasn’t that they weren’t getting along, far from it, but Pam was worried about things at home. So was Sookie. Eric was in Texas handling their scheduled visit with Stan and Thalia was with him. That left Louisiana in the hands of Eric’s Sheriffs.
There had always been trouble, mostly in the northern part of the state, and Eric had started showing up at local Assizes unannounced, sitting in and providing both a steadying force and visible reminder that vampires living in Louisiana were vassals of the Viking. Their troubles weren’t as bad as those being reported in some other kingdoms, but Sookie believed it was because they worked so hard to be accepted, even embraced by humans. No transgressions were ignored on either side, and any time an incident looked as if it was more than the usual hate crime, Eric became involved. ‘Bringing in the big guns,’ she joked him.
He listened to the stories told and even accompanied Sheriffs on investigations. Sometimes Sookie wondered if it damaged his Sheriffs’ credibility, his being so hands-on, but things didn’t escalate the way they did in other places, so she figured it must be working. So far, whenever humans were caught, Eric had stuck to his promise to her to turn them over to human law enforcement, but Sookie worried that would change. On their call earlier, he told her a group of humans were caught by vampires in Indira’s Area. They were vandalizing a vampire’s car and had silver chains with them. They were immediately recognized as the same humans who’d been turned into local human law for breaking windows at a vampire business only a few weeks before. Glamour revealed the local sheriff had turned them loose with little more than a hand slap and warning not to let their ‘high spirits’ get them into any more trouble.
“I doubt there’s enough left of them to trouble anyone ever again,” Eric told her. He would have to mete out a punishment to his vampires, but what was done was done. “It’s worse than the days of the Fellowship,” he’d said. “At least then, there was a central place these troublemakers could be found. These humans don’t seem to be united by anything beyond their hatred.”
“Well, they must have some kind of leader,” Sookie reasoned. “Hasn’t Hunter turned up anything?” Eric was paying Hunter Savoy to make supporting his Sheriffs his priority, the young telepath’s skills allowing the interrogations to move faster and with fewer protests.
“He can’t read what isn’t there,” Eric sighed. Now, as she thought through their discussion, there was something niggling at the back of her head but Sookie couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Giving up, she squeezed the bloody stains from the washcloth and returned to packing.
Upstairs, she found sheet music written in Peter Chandler’s strong hand. She knew both Peter and Karin had come here to visit. Fran and Peter’s mom, Sarah Chandler, were friends from their days in Chester. Sookie knew Karin and Peter celebrated human holidays with Fran, and she wished they had been able to attend the funeral, but, of course, they couldn’t. It would be a risk for either of them to return to New England, at least, for a while. Tania was angry and their coming would have caused problems.
Karin’s speedy departure from Chester last month left Tania in a bad place. There were vampires from Pennsylvania threatening to sue the Queen and a job Tania gave to another assassin was infamously botched. Tania really had no one to blame but herself. She was the one who made it appear Karin was her hired employee, still, the Queen preferred to blame Karin. Things were frosty enough that Sookie felt no hesitation in booking a hotel room for herself and Pam, rather than look for an invite to the Queen’s Palace. Nevertheless, they both checked in, sitting with Tania in her lovely office their first night in town. There was no offer of hospitality, which suited Sookie fine. It was like the elephant in the room. Tania acted as if everything was normal, so did Sookie and Pam, but they both knew Tania was likely a dead vampire walking.
Sarah Chandler was the first to tip off Sookie as to how desperate Tania had become. Within days of Karin’s departure, Tania sent people to determine where they’d gone. Her agents hadn’t hidden who they were. They said the Queen had money for Karin and Peter but it was a large sum and they needed to deliver it in person. They said vampires only did business in cash, which was a common myth that seemed to fool most folk. They questioned everyone, including Sarah, asking first about Karin and then, to Sarah’s horror, about Peter. Wouldn’t he return to visit? Didn’t he have a business up here? The agents finally left, but then others came. Sarah didn’t think those who came later had anything to do with Tania and that scared her more.
In a community as small as Chester, these incursions didn’t go unnoticed. Whether these strangers were in Chester to make sure Tania was telling the truth, or they were thinking to grab Karin or Peter for themselves was anyone’s guess. Sometimes they asked questions, but sometimes they were just seen lurking around the B&B or walking through town, staring at faces. It was enough to trigger alarms at the boarding schools and so the two societies, the society of town and the society of schools, came together for the sake of all their children. The next set of strangers who showed up found themselves dogged. Word was passed through cell phones and the Chester version of a neighborhood watch formed a group around their uninvited visitors, following them, photographing them, and refusing to answer any questions, even the best way to leave town. It seemed to work. Sarah told Sookie at the funeral the town hadn’t been harassed in the past week.
Sookie headed back upstairs to the library. The shelves were empty, making the room look almost decrepit. She took a box and started wrapping the small statues on the far table. They were an unlikely collection of mythical creatures. When she lifted the dancing satyr, she paused. This had been one of Rick’s favorites. He’d mimic dancing and pipe-playing, a bunny-ear headband on his head, ‘My horns, Mommy!’
“How could you be so stupid!” Sookie scolded the statue.
She thought about the letter she’d received from her son just before she’d received the news about Fran. Even clouded in her grief, the immediacy of vampire made every moment of opening that letter crisp in Sookie’s memory. The worn feel of the paper, the slight salty smell, let her know Rick had been near the ocean when he wrote it. He told her not to worry. He said he was doing this to protect Brigid. He couldn’t explain other than to relate what Brigid told him about her family and the importance of her twenty-first birthday. He wrote her that by the time they returned, Brigid would be safe and free and he’d be a much better sailor. Sookie had been furious, first at Rick, and then at Eric when her husband refused to mount a search party. ‘He will learn, Lover,’ Eric shrugged. ‘He is possessive of what is his. That is vampire.’
Sookie realized she was gripping the statue too tightly. The dancing feet had begun to bend, so she reluctantly opened her hand. The laughing face stared up at her and Sookie stared back. She saw Rick’s laughing face and a low growl escaped as she said, “I know what is vampire and what is just high-handed nonsense, Eric Northman!”
“Talking to yourself is not a good sign,” Pam interrupted from the door.
Sookie held up the small statue, “Talking to yourself is something every parent understands. Sometimes it’s the only way you can say the things your stubborn child refuses to hear!”
Pam took the statute, turning it one way and then the other. “Interesting. Reminds me of Hunter,” and she gave Sookie a quick grin before handing the figurine back and turning Sookie toward the table. “Look, I know this is something you don’t want to hear, but while you’re wrapping, you might consider Rick needing to spend more time with vampires. He is vampire for all he’s a day-walker. If he really felt he was part of our world, he wouldn’t be so quick to run off this way.”
“He is a part of our world!” Sookie protested, but in her heart, she knew Pam wasn’t wrong. “He’s following his pecker. Lots of young men do that,” she equivocated.
“When he returns with his woman, he’ll need a job,” Pam said and then lifted her hand when Sookie opened her mouth to object. “Rick’s not going back to a human school, Sookie, accept it! He’s done with that world, and should have been long ago. That leaves him at loose ends and, for someone like Rick, he’ll find ways to fill his time and it probably won’t be anything you like.”
“But, Rick isn’t…” and Sookie stopped talking. She’d been about to say, ‘like you.’ If she’d been able to blush, she would have, and she could see Pam knew.
Instead of the scorn Sookie knew she deserved, though, Pam took her hand. “It’s time, Sookie. Your great friend has passed from this world. You have become one of us, and it’s time for Rick to be his Father’s son. He has skills. He deserves to feel respected. It’s time for you to let him grow up.”
They were simple words, but they struck deep. Sookie knew Pam was right, but she found herself struggling. It was as if agreeing meant she was giving up something she could never reclaim. “I don’t know if that’s what Rick wants,” she said, but she couldn’t summon any conviction behind her words.
“It’s what Rick needs and that’s more important,” Pam said very directly.
Sookie hastily wiped her leaking eyes and then said as steadily as she could replied, “Well, we have to find him first.” She found laughter bubbling up as she added, “I’m so angry at him I may just kill him myself. Good thing I can’t get grey hair or this latest stunt would have given me a full head.”
Pam patted Sookie’s arm before asking, “You really think these Cranes know where they’re headed?”
Sookie shrugged, “Well, Elizabeth Crane didn’t seem surprised to hear from me.” Taking another breath to steady herself, Sookie shook her head. “She wasn’t happy, that was clear, and she let me know she blames Rick. You should have heard her tone when she told me she was willing to ‘allow’ us an hour of her time tomorrow.”
“I still don’t see why we have to travel there,” Pam growled. “Why not just phone it in?”
“I suppose I’m curious,” and Sookie sniffed and started moving more quickly again. “There’s something about all of this. Brigid just shows up at the right time? She shares all the right interests? She has this mysterious family who sends her all over hell and creation? Who is this Brigid, anyway?” If Sookie had a mirror, she would have seen the determined set to her jaw. “Besides, there’s an airport near to where the Cranes live. We’ll see what we can find out from those people and be home tomorrow night. It would be helpful to know where the fugitives are supposed to land. I’d like to pick them up before they decide to add European touring to their ‘excellent’ adventure. If the Cranes know, we will, too.”
“If Rick had purpose, he wouldn’t have done this,” Pam scolded again. “For all he’s a pain in the ass, he’s also clever… and stealthy. Rick managed to arrange all of this without attracting attention. He isn’t easily distracted. With his gifts and properly trained, he could a be formidable asset.”
“I know,” and Sookie knew in that moment her son was no longer her baby. “It’s just feels as if admitting all that is letting him go. I don’t want to lose him.”
“Well, you won’t,” Pam shrugged. “In case you haven’t noticed, Supernaturals are a small world. Of course, we fight…”
“If by that you mean you kill each other…” Sookie pointed out.
“Why focus on the outliers?” Pam snipped. “For the most part, we’re friendly enough. We keep tabs on each other, we visit, we talk… we gossip. Rick in our circle would never be far from you, he’d just be a happier vampire.”
“And Brigid?” Sookie asked. “Would she be a ‘happier vampire,’ too? What future could they possibly have?”
“Let it go!” Pam laughed. “He keeps her or he doesn’t! They’re spending a whole month on a small boat together in the middle of the ocean. Chances are, they’re already not talking and wishing they’d never met.”
Sookie couldn’t help it. She actually had a moment she wished Pam’s words were true, but in the next minute, she guiltily asked, “And if they are?”
Pam grinned, “If they are, Sookie Stackhouse Northman, you might as well face facts. You’ll be a mother-in-law because Brigid won’t be going anywhere and we’ll have another woman in the family!”
In her head, Sookie could see her son, now a man, with Brigid beside him and she had to admit, it didn’t rankle as much as it had. “I suppose,” she pouted.
“Brighten up!” Pam laughed again. “It’s more likely they’ve discovered everything about each other they hate. He’ll be begging to come home!”
“Somehow, I don’t think that will be the case,” and with a sigh, Sookie took a piece of paper and wrapped the satyr, hiding his knowing smile.
That night, Sookie packed her suitcases, tucking away the treasures she was taking home, including the statue of the little dancing goat man. Although she didn’t need to, she turned the lights on and slowly, carefully, walked through the house one last time. She remembered the first time she’d walked into the kitchen, tired and sick, running from Louisiana and all her worries. She remembered the night Rick was born in the room right upstairs. She thought of the time she and Fran talked about Scarlett O’Hara and how it made her realize she’d thrown away the man she needed. She remembered how Rick drank his first blood in this house, starting a journey he still hadn’t completed to become who he was meant to be.
She ended her wandering in Fran’s room, sitting on the edge of her friend’s bed. The linens were gone, and all her mentor’s things packed. Tomorrow, professional movers would come and the house would be laid bare. “Goodbye,” Sookie said aloud. “I will miss you for the rest of my existence.”
“But as long as you exist, she will never be forgotten,” Pam said from the doorway. Sookie knew she needed to get up and secure herself into her travel coffin, but it was hard, walking away. After a moment, Pam walked closer and taking her hand, said, “There’s enough room in my coffin for both of us. Come on,” and together they fell to their rest.
When Sookie next rose, she was alone and in a new hotel room. The sound of ocean seemed nearby although Sookie couldn’t see water from her window. “Finally,” and Pam walked from the bathroom. “I’ve already fed and showered. You are later than usual.”
“I was dreaming,” Sookie told her. Sookie knew it wasn’t usual for their kind to dream, but she didn’t want it to go away. She’d dreamed of Fran. The witch was telling her everything would be all right and that she needed to believe in those around her. In her dream, Fran hadn’t been in the wheelchair. She’d been older, but standing upright. Very clearly, Sookie recalled moments when Fran looked like Gran, and Sookie remembered feeling first like a child and then a woman grown. The overall effect had been calming and Sookie was reluctant to let the images go.
Pam was moving around the room and then stopped to tap the clock in her coffin, reminding Sookie there were things they still needed to do. Sookie pulled herself together. “I know. I’d like to call Eric first, but I’ll be quick. Can you send for a donor?”
Pam was fast-texting with one hand, “Already done,” she said, not looking up. “I’ll order the car to be here around nine. When you finish harassing my Maker, can you call to let the Cranes know when we’ll arrive?” and Pam walked into the other room as her call to Indira connected.
Eric answered the phone before the first ring, almost as if he’d been waiting for her. “I’ve ordered you to be placed beside me when you arrive,” he told her. “I wish to rise beside you in our bed. You have already been gone too long.”
“I’ve missed you, too,” Sookie grinned. It was likely she’d already be resting by the time she was back in the Palace and, if there were flight delays, Eric would be, too. Letting her know he’d have her coffin opened was courtesy but Sookie knew it was more. She couldn’t stop smiling as she asked, “How was your visit with Stan?”
“He seems immune to the troublemakers, for now,” Eric told her. “He enjoys doing business with humans and they treat him as their tame vampire.” Sookie couldn’t help grinning. Stan didn’t bother hiding who he was when he was with them, but when in the company of humans, his wardrobe reverted to how she’d first known him. The sleek slacks disappeared in favor of jeans or khakis and the thick glasses with the slightly bent frames reappeared. Stan had perfected the look of high-tech geek and it was an effective weapon. He managed to look both smart and approachable. Humans were comfortable around him, and that translated to good relations. “Barry sends his regards,” Eric added.
“Glad he’s back in everyone’s good graces,” Sookie replied. “And, Desmond?”
“Nervous,” Eric informed her. “He pulled me aside. There are rumors being floated about you and me, Älskade .”
“Like what?” Sookie laughed. “That I love you? Old news!”
“That you captured me using witchcraft,” and Eric’s voice was quiet.
It sounded silly. “Damn straight!” Sookie chuckled. “I used the oldest witchcraft in the book and proud of it!”
“It’s not a good thing, Lover.” It was in the way he said it.
“So, what’s the problem, Eric? It’s not like vampires don’t use witches. I’ve seen them around as long as I’ve known Supes were real. What’s got Desmond all worked up?” and Sookie glanced toward the door through which she could hear Pam chatting. It was in that moment Sookie knew she’d listen to what Eric told her and then, when she got the chance, she’d grill Pam for more information. It caught her, how much she’d changed, and then Sookie re-focused on her husband’s words.
“Since the time I was enthralled and lost my memories, there’s been a shadow over my reputation,” Eric was saying. “Vampires are supposed to be in charge at all times. Of course, Marnie Stone strong. She could have placed any vampire under her spell, but it was me. There are some who feel that time leaves me open to suggestion.”
“Weak,” Sookie translated.
“Or beholden,” Eric added.
“What do you mean?” Sookie asked.
“There are some who are saying our success is due to my being in league with witches, or under their command through you,” Eric told her.
“They think I’m a witch?” It didn’t make sense to Sookie. The only truly magic thing about her had been her telepathy and now that she was vampire, it was gone.
“They think you sold yourself to witches,” Eric explained. “They are saying Rick was the result of witchcraft.”
“But, he wasn’t!” and Sookie frowned. “Amy confirmed dhampirs can happen for any vampire with age. Why would anyone question that?”
“Because Amy Ludwig is also our friend. So far, no other vampire old enough to try has been tempted. We are the only ones to have produced a viable dhampir,” and she could almost see Eric’s small smile. She knew he felt an odd pride about it, and then he changed the subject. “Things are set to see Brigid’s people? You are going there tonight?”
“Yes, and I have to get moving.” Sookie heard the knock on the door. “Look Eric, my donor’s arrived. I’ll call you after we meet with them.”
“Use glamour if you must. I feel it is important we find our son.” It was easy to dismiss the warning in Eric’s tone as simply his worrying. Sookie was worried, too.
“I know,” Sookie half-growled. “And when I get my hands on him…”
“Why punish him for what he is?” Eric teased. “After all, only a Stackhouse…”
“You can stop right there!” Sookie laughed. It was a joke between them. He teased that Rick’s transgressions were the result of his Stackhouse blood, and she countered that their son was high-handed Northman all the way. After a moment, she told Eric her truth, “I miss you. It’s like my heart wants to crawl out of my body and just fly home.”
“Call me later,” he replied, and then, after a moment, added, “Soon, my Lover, I will have my cock back where it belongs, between your legs. I will…”
“Come on!” Pam interrupted. “Chop, chop,” and then glancing at the phone, “Good evening, My Maker. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of her.”
“Tell Pam I am proud of her,” Eric chuckled.
“Oh, why not just tell her yourself?” and Sookie held up the phone, knowing they could all hear perfectly well, even when they shouldn’t.
Sookie barely started feeding before the text came through, telling them the car had arrived. “Hurry!” Pam scolded, and before she knew it, Sookie was standing outside, watching the driver load their bags.
As they settled side by side into the back of the car, Sookie took Pam’s hand. “Thanks again for coming with me. I’m glad you’re here.”
“We’ll see if you still feel that way when I fang rape Brigid’s family,” Pam sniffed. “We don’t have time to dick around. Let’s find out what they know and get the hell out of here. I’m done with all this New England!”
Even though Rhode Island was a small state, there seemed to be plenty of wooded, sparsely populated roads between the hotel and the Crane residence. After almost thirty minutes, they turned down a paved single lane road that led between tall stone columns. Sookie thought it must be a private road, but when it continued for over a mile, she began to wonder. Finally, they emerged from woods to see a lawn that ran into the sea. It was a clear night and the sky was filled with stars. As Sookie looked to the left, she saw the house. It was made of some dark stone, old and gothic. “Well, we always knew Brigid came from money,” Pam said quietly. Sookie stared at her. It was hard to impress Pam, but the drive and the house had done the job.
“Yes, we did,” Sookie replied, giving Pam a look that said, ‘We’re as good as this!’ and was pleased to see Pam’s slow grin in response.
Still, when Sookie looked back at the approaching house, there was something about it, a recognition. She couldn’t place it until she stepped from the car and then she knew. “They’re Fae,” she hissed to Pam. “I can feel it! It’s different from Bon Temps, but there’s magic here, and it’s Fae!”
They were already standing on the doorstep, but before Pam could say anything, the door opened, and a human butler inclined his head. “Please,” he said. He opened the door wider and gestured that they should step inside.
“I don’t have my sword,” Pam hiss-spoke, stepping forward anyway.
“I don’t have iron,” Sookie hiss-answered, following her.
“I can promise, you won’t need either,” and a tailored man who was standing at the foot of the staircase toward the back of the hall bowed slightly. Had he been human, he wouldn’t have understood their speech, but he wasn’t. Sookie could feel that warmth she felt whenever she encountered her kin radiating from him. It didn’t take a moment for Sookie to recognize him from the photograph she’d seen, but he introduced himself anyway. “I am John Crane. Elizabeth Crane is my Mother.”
“Your mother?” Sookie asked. It seemed improbable, but then she remembered this person wasn’t full Fae. The essence was strong, she could feel that, but he didn’t have that pure magic feeling she identified with Niall or even Dermot.
“She is my biological Mother,” John confirmed, “and she is waiting for you. Please follow me,” and he gestured toward a doorway.
“I thought the Fae lost the gift of children,” Sookie stuttered. She couldn’t help it. She was so surprised, her internal filter stalled and the words just slipped out.
“Of course, you’ve noticed.” John seemed amused about Sookie’s statement. “But then again, you were one of us, once upon a time.” The way he said it let Sookie know where she stood with him. As he glanced back at her, Sookie felt his Fae nature but now it felt thin and faded, like a gentle, warm wave flowing over her.
With every step, her instincts screamed for her to either fight or flee. Sookie’s nerves jangled and her fangs itched and then dropped. ‘Hold it together,’ she chastened herself, managing to retract her fangs before they entered the room that dominated the back of the house.
Elizabeth Crane was seated at the far end. ‘Enthroned,’ was the right word. She was diminutive, white-haired, and wearing pearls, every inch the New England doyenne holding court. “She recognizes us for what we are, Mother,” John said quietly.
“Good,” Elizabeth replied, “That will make this easier.” She rose from her chair and seemed to gain a few inches in height. It wasn’t anything Sookie could see, but somehow the woman shifted, leaving nothing soft or vulnerable. “You seem surprised,” Elizabeth told them as she gestured toward the armchairs set across from hers. She waited until Pam and Sookie sat before resuming her own chair. John walked behind his Mother’s chair, positioning himself at her right hand. Another man Sookie hadn’t realized was in the room stepped forward and took his station at Elizabeth’s left.
“I thought the Fae were gone,” Sookie stammered. She glanced at Pam. Her friend was sitting a little forward, her hands held loosely, and it made Sookie feel better.
“Did you really think yours was the only family of hybrids?” and Elizabeth Crane reached for her teacup. “Do forgive me. I’m afraid I don’t have anything to offer you by way of refreshments, but I’m sure you understand.”
“Under the circumstances, that’s probably best,” Sookie replied politely.
The Fae weren’t polite. John laughed, and the man beside him as well. Even Elizabeth smiled tightly. She glanced behind her. “You’ve met my son, John. Allow me to introduce Christopher, Brigid’s intended.”
Sookie eyed Christopher. He looked too old for Brigid. “I don’t understand. Your granddaughter seemed pretty straight-forward. If she was engaged, why didn’t she…?”
“Surely, you know that Fae alliances are arranged,” Elizabeth interrupted. She glanced behind her once more before settling herself. “Of course, under the circumstances, a primary alliance wouldn’t be appropriate. Brigid is the product of my daughter and a stray she picked up in Ireland. She was born with no appreciable spark. I believe you have a sibling like that.” Sookie felt her temper prickle, but Elizabeth Crane seemed unaware of her guest’s reaction.
“There is no question of Brigid becoming a formal part of Christopher’s household. Fortunately, he has a primary mate whose essence is strong. She has already produced several promising progenies,” and Elizabeth glanced up at John.
“Your Regina is a worthy mate,” John spoke directly to Christopher, adding, “but I think you’ll find Brigid favors my sister. We’ve taken care with her education. You should find her able to sustain a decent conversation, in addition to her obvious uses.”
“And, if she fails to produce, you are only out the cost of her secondary residence, which as we’ve agreed, we’ll reimburse by half.” Elizabeth brought her attention back to Sookie. “Brigid is nearing her birthday, and we’ve been concluding the arrangements for her.” She said the words as though she was confiding a secret to a friend.
“Brigid told us her guardianship ended when she turns twenty-one.” Sookie had to work to keep her hands from reaching across the space between them to strike the older woman.
“It does,” Elizabeth said smugly, “and her maturity begins, which is why we’re so anxious to have her returned to us. This dalliance with your son has been innocent enough and Christopher had no objections. After all, no one could think the great Eric Northman would allow his natural son to take a human as a mate, and it’s been clear from the first what you thought of the situation. So, Sookie, why don’t you just tell us where they’re headed, and we’ll promise to collect Brigid when they land. It will be simple enough to arrange. We can even make it look like a death, if that would make the parting easier for your young Prince.”
Sookie knew her eyes narrowed and she saw the moment the woman sitting across from her realized it. Gritting her teeth, Sookie forced herself to sit back. She counted to two and even managed a tight smile before answering, “You may be underestimating Brigid’s attraction. It’s true my brother doesn’t have the spark, but he still has other Fae traits.”
“Quite so,” Elizabeth nodded, “and Brigid does as well. She is attractive and has our gift for music. Christopher’s family has a history of successful breeding, and we’re thrilled he’s agreed to take her.”
Sookie’s eyes flicked up to Christopher again. He looked slightly bored and his mouth looked cruel. He barely glanced her way, but Sookie felt her chest tightening. Fighting to keep her tone civil, she asked, “Does Brigid know anything about this… Christopher, I mean?”
“That’s really none of your concern,” Elizabeth snapped, and Sookie had her answer.
“I think there has been some misunderstanding.” Sookie wasn’t sure what she was going to say until the words started to tumble out. “We already consider Brigid a member of our family. Eric, my husband, has become particularly attached to her. Even if she and Rick decide to part, Brigid will retain our protection. Now, if this is something she wishes,” and Sookie nodded toward Christopher, “We’ll support her decision, but…” and Sookie waited until Elizabeth was looking in her eyes, “We’ll defend her, as we would any member of our family.”
“You don’t dare interfere!” John stepped forward, and for a moment, he looked a little more Fae than human, but it quickly diminished.
“If you know where they are, you would do well to share it,” Elizabeth grated, making a show of restraining her son.
Sookie glanced at Pam before sitting up as straight as she could. “As you already know, our children have decided to take a little trip sailing across the Atlantic. Other than that, I really have no information as to where they’re headed. I was hoping you would. It would seem we have different motives, and now it would be best if you allowed me to find them.”
Elizabeth leaned forward slightly, and Sookie felt the menace. “Why lie? You don’t want our cuckoo in your nest any more than we want your kind in ours. We saw the videos of your little soiree. Anyone could see the disgust on your face every time you looked at her, lording her pathetic state next to your son. Of course, I don’t fault you. She had the scorn of every vampire there.”
From behind her, John growled before spitting out, “Brigid’s roommate said your son arranged everything. She said the boat was his.”
Pam stood up and very carefully walked to stand behind Sookie’s chair. Sookie found her eyes narrowing, realizing the spoon next to Elizabeth’s cup was likely silver, and the utensils next to the cake plate as well. “As I’m sure you’ve noticed, young people don’t always tell their families their plans,” Sookie replied rather stiffly. “If I knew where my son was, I wouldn’t have bothered to come here.”
“Are you sure?” and Elizabeth’s lips curved. “Are you sure you weren’t curious? Not even a little?”
“About you?” and Sookie snorted. “Until I got out of the car I didn’t realize you were hybrids. Fran didn’t know, or if she did, she never mentioned it. There’s nothing about Brigid that gives you away, but now I know who and what you are, and more importantly, I know exactly where you’re located. If you try to interfere with me or mine, and that includes Brigid, I’ll let all my friends know,” and Sookie let her fangs drop. “I’ve said it and I mean it! Brigid Meaney is under the protection of Eric and Sookie Northman.” She heard the snick that told her Pam had done the same and it put more steel in her backbone.
“You are even shallower than I thought,” Elizabeth hissed, her eyes narrow and her teeth sharp. “You know you don’t want my Granddaughter anywhere near you or yours, but you’ll do this because you’re greedy and that’s what vampires are.”
Sookie felt her chin rising. “I know who I am,” she said steadily. “I am a Queen among my kind. I live openly in this world because my husband and I have made it so. Our son is a wonderful young man and from what I’ve seen, your granddaughter is charming and talented. From where I’m sitting, we live full, happy lives.” Sookie stood and brushed the front of her skirt. “Thank you for your hospitality. Always interesting to know there are still Fae lurking in the corners of this world and you’d do well to remember my threat. I didn’t miss you before I knew you were here, and I wouldn’t miss you for one second if you were finally gone.” Sookie leaned forward and audibly sniffed. “I bet you’d be a real mouthful for a bunch of vampires. Hear there’s nothing so delicious as fresh Fairy!”
Sookie half-bowed before saying, “Pleasure to meet y’all, and I’ll ask Brigid to drop you a line when I find them.”
Sookie didn’t hesitate. She turned and headed back toward the front door with Pam following. As they entered the front hall, Sookie whispered, “Are they following?”
“Who cares?” Pam whispered in return, moving ahead to open the front door. Their driver was lounging against the door, but jumped to attention as they approached. “Airport,” Pam snapped.
As they drove down the road and then back into the woods, Sookie looked down to see her hands trembling. “That poor girl,” she said.
“Yeah,” Pam nodded. “but you’re the one who’s going to be sorry! Fuck a zombie, Sookie! I can’t wait to see Eric’s face,” and although Pam’s voice was scolding, it was her arms hugging that seemed to tell the real story.