Chapter 38 – Couple of Good Points
March 7, 2013
“So I guess Sookie is pretty proud of herself for single handedly bringing down the Fellowship of the Sun.” Hadley’s words were snarky and frankly disrespectful to one of state Sheriffs – even if she was bonded to the Queen.
Hadley and Eric were on the plane back from New Orleans. He was stuck with her for the duration of the flight and he was currently chastising himself for volunteering to be an escort.
Feeling that he was being baited into an argument, Eric replied to Hadley choosing his words and tone carefully. “She SHOULD be proud but I’m sure you know how modest she is about her gift and really, she is mostly happy that we escaped. While she is relieved the Fellowship is no more, she does not take credit nor does she believe we can relax. Unfortunately, there are too many who still carry the beliefs from the Fellowship and she believes we need to remain vigilant.”
“Oh, she thinks ‘WE’ must remain vigilant? She’s planning strategy for vampires now?”
Again, he fought for control in his response. “Of course she is, as I am sure your bonded, my Queen involves you.” He knew damn well Hadley was involved in nothing. The Queen pampered and favored her, but she was certainly not included in matters of state. He hoped her desire to keep the fact that she was not Sookie’s equal would end her attitude and comments. He was wrong.
It took her a few minutes to start up again, but she did. “So her crazy brain is why you two are together? I mean, I’ve heard about your reputation from the donor pool and I know your lily white Sookie. She can’t possibly hold your interest.”
The temptation to respond by saying he was going to ‘tell Gran on her’ was growing on him, but he was pretty sure at 1000 years dead that wouldn’t be the most mature response. He found he couldn’t help himself. “As mesmerizing as this conversation is Hadley, I regret that I have some work to complete before we land. I look forward to continuing this conversation tomorrow night with your Gran.” There, he said it – maybe he didn’t say he was going to tell on her but it was implied. If Gran scared HIM, he hoped the threat would work on Hadley.
It did work and he enjoyed quiet for the remainder of the flight while he worked on his laptop.
Thalia greeted them at the airport where Eric’s car had also been delivered earlier. “I am here to escort Miss Dalehoussaye to Gran’s. Andre is at Fangtasia completing his final tasks before he is released. He will need a ride to Gran’s with you after close.”
“That’s why the SUV is here I guess.” Thalia nodded. “Pam was also planning to spend the day at Gran’s – our daychamber will be a bit full I fear.”
“Alcide has started work on Tara, he’s already built a small outbuilding, a cottage, which includes a light tight chamber, it’s not fully decorated but it’s secure.”
“That’s excellent news Thalia.”
Hadley interjected with a guffaw. “Work on Tara? Don’t tell me she’s getting that house she always whined about when she was young.”
Thalia looked at Hadley coldly. “If you are referring to my Mistress and the home she and the Master are building, then I will confirm it is based on the mansion residing on the plantation called Tara from the movie Gone With the Wind.” She leaned in a little closer to Hadley to continue. “You will do well to remember that Mistress Sookie is well liked and respected in this area so you may want to choose your comments wisely little girl.”
“ERIC, are you going to let her speak to me like that?”
“I think she is giving you good advice. I suggest you take it.”
“I can speak to and about my cousin however I choose. Sookie’s just playing you – likely for your money. Maybe you should consider my words as advice to you.”
His patience was now gone. “Hadley, I have a commitment from my Queen, your bonded, that you will behave while you are here. That includes speaking poorly to or about Sookie. I know I can’t control your thoughts, but I will know if Sookie has been made upset and I will ensure she tells me if you are to blame. Keep that in mind while you are at your Gran’s.”
“So you would beat Sookie to get her tell on me?”
He sighed; his frustration with this one human had him reaching the limits of his patience and that impossible vampire headache made an appearance. Excedrine was something he really needed to try. “Not that it’s any of your business, but Sookie has NEVER needed punishment. Can you say the same?” He glared at her for a moment. “Ensuring she tells me would be simply because of the bond; I’ll know if she is hurt and then hiding the source of the hurt. She knows this and as a result will speak the truth. That goes both ways for us, we both speak the truth to each other – so it’s NOT a punishment.” He headed to his car. “Thalia take her away before I lose all my patience and I’ll need you to monitor her visit with Gran and Sookie. Feel free to report any problems with her OR Andre.”
“Yes Master.” She took Hadley’s arm. “Shall we?”
“Hadley, come over here so I can see you!” Gran yelled to Hadley before she’d even finished walking through the door.
“Gran. It’s good to see you.”
“Hadley, Sookie was right, you do look wonderful, so healthy. A little thin, but we’ll get some extra biscuits in you while you visit.”
“Gran, that’s not necessary, I don’t want to get fat.” She said as she eyed Sookie; a move that Gran didn’t miss.
“Tell me about your vampire. Eric treats Sookie like a Princess; does Queen Sophie-Anne do the same?
“Oh of course we have a great relationship.” She was lying; Sophie-Anne treated her well when she had time for her, but she was often left on her own since Sophie-Anne was just too busy. ‘I know Sophie-Anne loves me, I can feel it in the bond, but she’s too busy to spend much time with me; and she sure isn’t monogamous. On top of that, because of my companion status, I can’t have any other friends. The donors don’t like me, the other vampires aren’t allowed around me. Shit, it’s lonely at the palace, I wish I had Hunter’.
Sookie heard every thought and while she didn’t like Hadley, she couldn’t help but feel for her cousin. Knowing her cousin, if she let on that she’d heard, Hadley would just become defensive so she kept the information to herself. She did want to know about Hunter, but she’d save that for a time she could speak to Hadley alone.
Gran, however, had no idea that Hadley had lied, so she pushed. “So tell me about Hadley. I know she’s a queen and I’m sure she’s busy, but tell me more about your relationship. What you both do together. Do you have similar interests, like Eric and Sookie love to read together and gardening?”
Hadley panicked and Sookie could tell. “Gran, give Hadley a chance to visit with us. I’m sure she wants to know about your recovery.” She tried to break the tension. “Besides, you know Eric likes to enjoy the garden after the hard work is over.”
The conversation turned to Gran and her recovery. Sookie was glad this topic was less stressful for Hadley. Since they were enjoying their catch-up, she stayed in the kitchen while Hadley walked Gran around the farmhouse. Gran was in the middle of describing the changes Eric had made to the house when Sookie joined them in the living room. “. . .and all the rehabilitation bars you see in the hallway.”
“Wow Gran that’s great. Eric sure has spoiled you. I guess Sookie’s gift has been very valuable to him for him to spend this much on the house.”
Appalled, Gran yelled. “HADLEY! Where do you come off saying something like that? Nothing could be further from the truth. Eric wishes Sookie didn’t have her gift.” Hadley snorted. “That’s the truth girl. He’s been caring for and spoiling us since the fall – before he ever knew about her telepathy. What is wrong with you? You’d think you’d be. . .”
“Hadley, look at you!” Jason came running into the living room.”
Hadley smiled brightly at Jason; he’d always been a good friend. “Jase! I’m glad you came for the visit.”
“You bet. I was planning to stay the night. Maybe light a fire and have a campout in the living room like we did when we were kids.”
“That sounds good.” Sookie heard her think ‘hope he doesn’t mean Sookie too. That would ruin the fun.’
Again, having mercy Sookie gave her the out. “That sounds nice for the two of you. Tell me what I can get for your campout, I’ll run out for you before Eric gets here. We’re planning to spend time at the construction site up the hill so I won’t be able to join you.”
She got the expected fake response. “Oh, Sookie, that’s a shame. But we’ll visit tomorrow.”
Jason ignored the part about Sookie not joining them and asked her to get beer and pretzels. “Oh, and can ya make us some wings? Will ya have time for that?”
“Sure Jas, it’ll be a few hours before Eric gets here. I’ll get a guard and head to the store.”
“Thanks Sookie.” Hadley put on a fake smile; then turned to Jason. “Hey, show me your fancy truck.”
When they left Gran turned to Sookie. “What’s going on in that head of hers?”
“She didn’t want me at the campout, there’s more, but let’s not talk about it now. I really just want you to enjoy your visit with Hadley. I mean, she’s so healthy, we haven’t seen her like this in years.”
“I really hope she’s happy.”
Lying to Gran wasn’t something Sookie wanted to do, so she ignored the part about Hadley’s happiness and commented on her errand. “Well, I better grab a guard to head out for their stuff.”
“That’s very kind Sookie. What will you and Eric do while they have their campout?”
“I’ll have to talk to him. I’m not even sure where we can go since we have a full house tonight. In addition to Thalia, we have Pam, Eric and Andre staying here.”
“Can’t say I’m looking forward to meeting Andre.”
“Can’t convince you otherwise.” They both chuckled and Sookie headed out.
“I am here mistress.”
“Who’s here if you leave?”
“Bubba and Indira. Do you need something?”
“I need to run to the grocery store.”
“I’ll stay with Hadley and Indira can run out with you.”
Sookie returned a short while later and got to cooking for her brother and cousin. She really didn’t mind missing the campout since Eric had been gone for a few days and she was looking forward to time alone with him. The problem was WHERE they could have time alone. Once the wings were in the oven, she ran outside to check out the new cottage. She’d heard it was structurally complete, but not decorated. Maybe she could make it comfortable for a rendezvous with Eric.
“Indira, I’m walking up to the other property.”
“Right behind you.”
She was surprised to see the building looking done, at least from the outside. On the inside, she was expecting drywall with mud, but it was actually fully painted, and as the bathroom door was open she could easily see the tile was already installed. She was also very happy to see that the bathroom appeared complete – and just to be sure she flushed the toilet. Lights had been installed and there was a small table and chairs in one corner. Floor plans were laid out on the table so she suspected that this building was done first so Alcide and his team could use it as a project room for the mansion. She knew there was a light tight chamber below the building but she didn’t know where the access was. Certain Eric would know, she returned to the farmhouse to check the wings and gather some pillows and blankets to make a temporary nest for later.
“Sook, your phone beeped while you were out. Those wings done yet?”
“I’m checking them now Jason, can you bring me my phone?”
Her smile was bright a few minutes later when she ran a platter of wings out to the living room. “What’s got you all smiley?”
“They’re on their way home. I’m packing a bag to stay next door.”
She was so eager to see Eric she sat on the porch swing waiting for them. When the car stopped, she launched herself from the porch as Eric ran out of the car. He scooped her up and gave her a blazing kiss. “I missed you.”
“I missed you too.”
Hadley had stepped out of the house and noticed the enthusiastic welcome. Sookie started to hear her thoughts and since they were of a jealous and unpleasant nature she closed her mind off immediately. She’d heard enough nastiness from Hadley’s mind already. “Eric, I have a bag on the porch, we’ll be up at the new cottage. I was hoping Thalia, Andre and Pam could stay in the chamber under the farmhouse?” She looked around. “Wait, where’s Pam?”
“She found a date. Thalia, you will show Andre to the chamber at dawn.”
“Yes Master. Enjoy the remainder of the night.”
“Come min älskade.” He leaned into her ear to whisper. “I haven’t had you since Thursday.”
Once sated from their reunion and snuggling comfortably on the pallet Sookie made from blankets and pillows, Eric inquired about the visit with Hadley so far. “She’s lonely. I mean, she’s nasty too. It gets worse when Gran mentions you and me, our relationship I mean. But it’s kinda sad. She knows Sophie-Anne cares for her, but they don’t have the relationship or the companionship we have.”
“Most relationships with vampires are not like ours is.”
“That’s sad.” He nuzzled her neck for a few moments enjoying the fact that he did have something so wonderful with Sookie.
“Not that I’m not thrilled, but why didn’t you stay with them at the farmhouse for this campout that Hadley was mentioning to Andre?”
She shrugged her shoulders. “She didn’t want me there. Worked out for the best since I would rather be with you.” She moved to kiss him to emphasize the point.
“Do you want to go home tomorrow, you know, not be here with her? I can even fly us back now if you want.”
“No, I need private time with her tomorrow. She thought something about someone named Hunter and I really want to find out what that was all about.”
He gave her a nod in agreement with her plan; then changed the subject. “How are things with Gran?”
“Getting better now that the shock is wearing off. I can still get myself riled up at the years of lies though.”
“You can get riled up?”
“Hey, you’ve known that I have a temper since day 1.”
“Yes, but we’ll need to work on that a bit, I can’t have a new vampire running around that can get that easily riled. Imagine the damage you could do with fangs.” He constantly added comments about Sookie’s turning to their chats so she could better acclimate to her decision.
“We have time, babies – remember.”
“How can I forget that? Pam has already started looking at nursery themes.”
“SHE IS NOT! The pressure to get pregnant once we start trying could hinder us. Please tell her to stop.”
“I will. I hadn’t thought about her enthusiasm as being pressure.”
“Thank you.” Taking a sip from her wine, she asked, “tell me about your final hours with the prisoners.”
“I thought you didn’t want to know about such things.”
“Not the details silly, but do you feel satisfied?”
“Honestly, no. I feel that they should have been killed, but the Queen needs Compton for some database he’s writing about Vampires. She wants to sell it at the Summit. Lorena will be banished from the state, but to me, that leaves her as a risk.”
“I don’t like that, but surely nobody would go after a protected asset of yours, one that has the Queen’s stamp of approval – even someone from another state.”
“You just stated your contract designation without a feeling of disgust, are you reconciled to your status in the vampire world?”
“Not me, never.” He chuckled at her answer.
“The risk should be very low of anyone going against the asset of another state, but there is always a risk.”
“There are risks everywhere, but knowing Lorena is one of them can be a benefit.”
“How do you figure that?”
“Well, can’t you, I don’t know have her followed? At least from a state to state or maybe city perspective. At least know where she is? We know we’re going to Nevada in June. Perhaps just keep a check to see if she’s even in that state.”
“Your sexy when you’re smart; that’s something I will do my little strategist.”
“Hmm, little? I doubt that. Now that I’m back in Shreveport Pam has those pastries delivered every damn day.”
“You lost weight while I was in Dallas; I don’t like that.”
“I’ve said it before; you’re good for girls’ egos.”
“I only care about your ego min älskade.” They stayed jumbled together on the pallet for several moments, just enjoying each other’s presence and the light caresses they were sharing. “I’m surprised you aren’t more tired.”
“Trying to get rid of me by putting me to sleep?”
“No, I just know you. You probably spent much of the days while I was in New Orleans awake with your Gran.” He shifted so she was below him, her head cradled in his arm while he was off to the side.
“I did. But I napped today. I have plenty of energy.”
“Oh really?” He punctuated his comment by moving a hand between her thighs to play with her sex.
“Yes, but we should move our little pallet downstairs in case the dawn sneaks up on us.”
“Planning to keep me that preoccupied?
‘Ok,’ Sookie thought. ‘Gran’s taking her nap so now I can have that chat with Hadley.’
“Hadley, can we talk about something?”
Hadley answered with suspicion. “If you want.”
“Look Hadley, I heard you when you answered Gran yesterday. I know you know Sophie-Anne cares about you, but I also heard that you’re lonely.” Hadley stiffened at having her innermost thoughts exposed.
“That’s none of your. . .”
Her hands went up trying to keep the peace. “I know it’s not my business, but I’m trying to help here. I also know you don’t like me much, but there’s no reason why we can’t repair that, maybe try to talk on the phone regularly? Try to take away some of the loneliness?” Sookie could hear her cousin’s thoughts calming and accepting what Sookie was saying. “Listen Hadley, in many ways we’re different but honestly we’re actually more alike. I think we both could get something out of moving past our, well our past.” She grasped Hadley’s hand across the kitchen table where they were seated. “Whaddya think?”
Hadley was quiet for a while as she worked through Sookie’s words in her head. Finally, she responded favorably. “I think I want to try. Thanks Sook.” She smiled then it changed to a bit of a frown. “You know, I’ve got a lot of baggage, I mean, I’m not that easy to get along with.”
“I know, but we’ll both try. I’ll try to not get offended if you try to hold your tongue?”
Hadley put her hand out to shake. “I agree.”
“There’s something else.” Hadley nodded for her to continue. “Hadley, who’s Hunter?” Sookie couldn’t believe what she heard as tears formed in Hadley’s eyes. “A child? You had a child?”
“I did Sookie.” She wiped her eyes. “He’s three years old and lives with my ex-husband Remy Savoy. I only get to see him occasionally.” She stared out the window few minutes then finally back to Sookie. “Sookie, I’m pretty sure he’s . . . I think he’s like you.”
“Hadley! Does anyone know?”
“Sophie-Anne, probably Andre.”
“Is he protected?”
“No, we figured if nobody knew he didn’t need protection.”
“Well, I’ll tell Eric, but the secret will stay with us, and if Remy needs any help with Hunter, tell him to reach out to me.”
“I appreciate it. He does need it so I’ll call him right away.”
“What about Gran?”
“Gran would be over the moon to have a great-grandbaby. You should tell her.”
“I don’t know Sook. . .”
“You’ve been gone but you’re part of this family. We’re all here for each other and now that includes Hunter.”
“You’re probably right but I need to think about that. I’ll call Remy though while Gran is napping.”
She went to the porch to make the call and came back almost an hour later with her face swollen from crying. “You OK?”
“Yeah. Even though Remy and I divorced he’s still been really good about shared parenting. Anyway, I told him about our chat and he would really like your help. He also believes I should share Hunter with everyone.” As she took a breath, her eyes darted around indicating her nervousness. “I . . . I invited them for dinner tonight.”
“Hadley, that’s so exiting! I can’t wait to meet him.”
“Really? It’s OK? I mean, I’m scared and excited at the same time.”
“It’s perfect Hadley. . . . What time? The vampires won’t be out of their light tight shelters until about 6PM. Does Hunter need to eat early? If so, I’ll need to start dinner.”
“I told them dinner at 6:30, wouldn’t we need to cook anyway?”
“Oh, it’s Eric’s night to cook; he cooks dinner when we don’t go to Fangtasia.”
“He . . . he cooks? He would’ve cooked in front of Andre and the other vampires that are here to guard?” Hadley’s pitch rose as she spoke.
Sookie smiled. “Yep. He took lessons so he could cook for me. As for the perception with other vampires, honestly he rules his territory fairly but firmly, he takes threats to those under his protection fiercely, but he doesn’t hide his affection for us, I mean the whole family.”
“Jesus Sook, how can I not be jealous?”
“You can’t compare the life of a Queen to one of her Sheriffs. They’re different. As long as you care for Sophie-Anne, that’s what matters. You do, right?”
“Yes, I do. She saved me from myself Sookie. She just doesn’t have the time to spend with me like Eric does. I also can’t believe that you stay with Eric in his daychamber. That’s pretty much unheard of with vampires.”
“I know it’s a huge amount of trust but the extra time is beneficial to the relationship. Eric is so old he rises pretty early and rests later than most vampires. He just can’t leave the light tight chamber.”
“That’s huge Sookie.”
Wanting to steer the conversation away from topics that caused Hadley to be jealous, Sookie suggested they start dinner. “Will Hunter like Chicken Parmesan?”
“Yeah, he’s not picky.”
They cooked side by side and had the tray of chicken ready for the oven and the prepared salad in the fridge. They would only need to cook some pasta for the side when Remy and Hunter arrived. Gran woke and joined them, just enjoying that her two grandbabies were getting along. After the meal was prepped they sat to look at some old family photos in the living room. Not soon after they started on the albums, Hadley saw Sookie stiffen a bit. “You OK over there?”
“Yes, Eric’s up and he wants me.”
Hadley giggled. “Guess we’ll see you back here when the sun sets?”
“I’ll come over just before 6.” She winked at Hadley and left.
She ran to the outbuilding across from the cemetery and used the security panel to join Eric below ground. Before she even got into his arms he questioned, “What has you so happy?”
“A really good day with Hadley.” From there she told Eric about their accord and then about Hunter. As she suspected, Eric did not agree that Hunter should be without protection, the problem was tactfully informing the Queen of his thoughts. It wasn’t even the telepathy that was the concern. Hunter could be taken and used to coerce Hadley to hurt the Queen or the state in some way. He decided to try a few comments on Andre that evening to gage his reaction. She was curious about what he would do if he was the Queen so she asked.
“Probably, if the Queen really does care for Hadley as you say, I would have the boy moved into the palace. Hadley could adjust him to more nocturnal hours and a governess could be hired for his care. This would provide protection for the boy and provide him with a quieter environment, and by that I mean less humans.”
“But Eric, the humans at the palace are donors. Their thoughts are not kid appropriate.”
“Ahh, good point. . . . Perhaps a warded home close to the palace but with enough buffer from those thoughts.” He continued to think on the topic of Hunter’s safety for a moment, then changed the subject a bit. “You said that Remy was looking for help with his gift?”
“I won’t know much more til they get here, but yes, Hadley felt he needed help.”
“We’ll know more shortly. You want to head over early in case Remy shows up before the sun sets?”
“If you don’t mind. I don’t want to miss Gran’s reaction.”
“I understand. I wish I was in the house so I could at least hear it, but I will need to wait for your recount after the fact.”
“I’ll make it up to you later, since we just used your pre-sunset time on my family drama.”
“I’ll be sure you pay for that as double time later. Now, go on before you miss something. I’ll be over as soon as it’s safe.”
As she approached the back door, she could hear Gran fussing at Hadley. “What has you so jumpy girl?”
“Nothing Gran. I guess I’m just trying to make sure dinner is nice.”
“I thought Eric was cooking, I was looking forward to trying that.”
Sookie entered the kitchen. “He’ll cook tomorrow. Hadley and I wanted to cook together tonight.” Sookie moved to stand next to Hadley to try and calm her down before she blew the surprise.
“You both have that look like you’re up to something. I haven’t seen the two of you like that in years. Warms my heart to see you both getting along.” Waving her hand at the empty table, Gran added, “well, let’s set the table then.”
“NO! I mean, what’s the rush Gran? We have about 30 minutes before we eat, I’ll put the water on for the pasta.” Sookie stumbled out her excuse for not setting the table as it would just need to be set with the extra place settings when the guests arrived shortly. Both she and Hadley started fussing around the kitchen to avoid conversation or eye contact with Gran. The good news was that Remy was running late, it was just after 6 and the sun was just about fully set. Sookie was excited that Eric might get to see Gran’s reaction after all.
Sure enough, just 10 minutes later he came running in through the back door just in time to hear the car pull into the drive. Sookie turned to Hadley who was twisting her hands together nervously. “Sookie, you . . . you tell her.”
“Had, it should really come from y. . .”
“Please?” She asked with a pleading look.
Sookie conceded and smiled at Gran. “Gran, Hadley invited some guests to dinner.”
“Guests, anyone I know?”
“No, but you will definitely be happy to meet them.” The doorbell rang and Eric offered to greet the guests and bring them into the kitchen. They heard a young voice yell from the front. “You’re quiet like my Mr. Andre.” Sookie giggled. When a man and a boy appeared with Eric a moment later, Sookie nodded to Hadley. She was NOT going to introduce two people she’d never met herself.
Hadley was nervous but she reached down and grabbed Hunter to pick him up for comfort. “Gran, I want you to meet my son, Hunter Savoy.” Gran gasped. “This is my ex-husband Remy Savoy.”
“Ex-husband, son? Well this is very big news.” Gran leaned into Hunter. “Hello Hunter. I’m very happy to meet you.”
“Who are you?”
“I’m your Gran.”
“Yes, I’m your Mama’s grandmother, so technically I’m your great-grandmother, but you can call me Gran.” She quickly moved to Remy. “Mr. Savoy, It’s nice to meet you.”
“You can call me Remy Mrs. Stackhouse.”
“And you can also call me Gran. Now let’s get the introductions finished.” Andre and Thalia had joined them in the kitchen for the introductions so Adele turned to him, “You must be Andre. Welcome to my home.”
“Had! Gran, whose truck is that?” Jason had walked in announcing himself in his usual loud manner.
“And that everyone, is my grandson Jason. Somehow he missed several of my lessons on proper behavior.” The group laughed and the introductions continued.
Andre started back where they had left off. “I’m very pleased to meet you Mrs. Stackhouse. You have a lovely home.”
Eric almost fell over, but he said nothing. He didn’t even look at Andre or Sookie for fear his facial expression would give away his shock and amusement at Andre. It was bad enough he could feel the shock from Sookie through the bond.
Gran continued to make the introductions and after Thalia met the boy and his father, she turned to Eric. “Master, are they to be protected while they are in the area?”
‘This could be the door to having the discussion with Andre. I didn’t even need to prompt Thalia.’ He turned to Andre and offered, “We can discuss this after dinner.”
“Certainly. I’m afraid I have some business to attend to though so I can’t join you for dinner. Is there anywhere I can work while you eat?”
“The outbuilding just through the cemetery has network connectivity.”
“I’ll show you Andre, I need to start my patrol outside.”
After they left, the group sat for dinner and the focus was all about Remy, Hadley and Hunter. Sookie finally lowered her shields and thought to Hunter and the boys eyes widened. ‘Hi Hunter. Your Mommy thought you might be like me. Can you hear me?’
‘Yeah! I was wondering why I couldn’t hear anything before; I thought you were like Eric and Andre.’
‘Nope, I’m human like you. We’ll talk more after dinner since everyone is staring at us now.’ She heard him giggle through the bond then looked up at eyes fixated on her. “Well, in case you’re wondering, Hunter is a telepath just like me.”
Remy spoke first. “Can it be removed?”
Sookie groaned to herself and Eric felt a stab of pain. Just like her mother, the first thought Remy had been that Hunter was broken. “Remy, I would rather discuss how we can help Hunter as he learns to use his gift.”
“Gift? He’s being tested for autism and brain tumors!”
Sookie cringed again. It was her childhood being played out with Hunter now. Not necessarily the autism part, her tests were for mental retardation. She remembered bitterly that after she took the test, the damn testers thought the results were invalid when they came back in the genius range. Then she was put through dozens of physical tests: x-rays and blood analysis; trying to find anything to blame for her ‘condition’. She decided then she wouldn’t stand by and watch that history repeat itself. “Remy, how about you, Hadley and I talk while Gran and Jason get to know Hunter? We have a nurse on duty to help with Hunter since Gran’s kinda slow these days.”
Hadley was the first to rise from the table and she grabbed Remy’s hand, but Remy protested. “Hadley, he won’t be comfortable around Gran, you know how he is.”
“I’m fine Daddy. She’s mostly quiet.” His eyes opened wide and his mouth hung open.
“Come on Remy, I’ll explain while we talk. Let’s take a walk around the house.” She turned to Eric and reached out her hand. “Join us?”
Eric had felt Sookie’s sadness, anger and the resolution through the bond and he figured she needed his support. As he wanted Andre to participate to discuss security, he suggested the cottage across the cemetery.
Once settled around the table Sookie began. She told Remy about her childhood, how she’d been misunderstood, teased and even punished for her telepathy. She left nothing out, and even Eric cringed at some of the stories, though his respect for Jason grew as Sookie also shared his actions as protector and friend. He’d already known that Tara, Lala and Sookie had somehow banded together as misfits, but he hadn’t heard the extent of Jason’s comfort to Sookie as they grew up. Remy sat stunned by her story. Part of him was relieved to hear that Hunter really wasn’t sick, but a bigger part was concerned that this was not something to be cured by a pill.
“How do I deal with this?”
“I can help Hunter with shields, and now that the truth is out, we can all help Hunter with his behavior. He’s going to slip up, but if we instruct him carefully – not as a punishment – we can help him keep a ‘poker face’ in the midst of some shocking thoughts of those around him.”
“What about the protection that Thalia woman mentioned?” He posed the question to Eric.
Eric quickly turned the question to Andre. “Andre? Since Hadley belongs to Sophie-Anne, Hadley’s concerns need to . . .”
“BELONGS TO? Hadley, what the hell does he mean?”
Eric’s eyes went wide. “Hadley? What has Remy been told?”
Hadley’s eyes darted around as if looking for a rock to crawl under but she eventually answered. “Eric, perhaps Remy and I can speak for a few minutes privately. He believes I am dating Andre now – he is uninformed of my . . . circumstances.”
“Normally, and ex-husband wouldn’t need to be informed, but with a child and a gifted child at that. . .” He shook his head. “It’s not my business, but we’ll leave you to talk”
Sookie and Eric headed to the farmhouse hand in hand. He wanted to talk more about Sookie’s revelations, but he could feel she was already on edge so he refrained. She felt his eagerness and it didn’t match his quiet so she offered, “I know you want to talk about all that. I just want to spend some time with Hunter, help him for as long as I can. He’s got an early day tomorrow since Remy needs to drop him at daycare at the crack of dawn. Remy’s already thinking it’s time to get him home.”
“You read me well even if you can’t hear my thoughts, I do want to talk, but I know now is not the time. Let’s go see what you can do for Hunter.”
Knowing she wasn’t going to have much time, Sookie chose to chat with Hunter about what his gift was, how others might see it, and how he shouldn’t respond to thoughts – no matter how much he wanted to. The confusion from Hunter on this was not a shock to Sookie. He just didn’t understand why people’s thoughts didn’t match their voice, and he didn’t understand why he couldn’t respond to their thoughts. The whole visit had turned into a trip down memory lane for Sookie and this topic was no different. A detailed, logical discussion wouldn’t really help Hunter at three years old, but she was struggling.
Then Jason offered, “Hunter, do you need to make you bed in the morning?” Luckily he nodded yes. “Well, sometimes that doesn’t seem to make sense, right? You’re just going to get back in and mess it up later.” Sookie was so proud of Jason putting into terms the three year old could understand. It made sense since Jason hadn’t progressed much farther than Hunter on a maturity level.
“I say that to Daddy all the time! On weekends, I have to take naps and the bed would be messy again right after lunch – but he still tells me to make the bed.”
Jason continued. “Well, not answering other’s thoughts or telling someone about other’s thoughts is pretty much the same. To you, at three years old, it just doesn’t make sense, but you have to do it. Can you trust me on this?”
Jason smiled. “I think we’re going to be good friends.”
Sookie smiled and added to their conversation. “Do you promise to try and only respond to spoken words?”
“I do.” She held out her pinky and Eric laughed. Hunter took Sookie’s pinky in his and stated. “I pinky swear.”
While she really wanted to work on shields, she knew the time Remy would give them right now would only scratch the surface. She decided to ask Remy about longer visits, maybe even sleepovers, with Hunter. They’d only spent about 20 minutes with the boy before Remy came to collect him. While Hadley said goodbye to Hunter, Sookie first asked Eric about having Hunter as a guest occasionally and when he agreed, they approached Remy.
He rubbed the back of his neck in nervousness. “I don’t know Sookie. You live with a vampire.”
She got her fur up but bit back the initial comments she wanted to make. “Remy, at the very least, Hunter could enjoy some true quiet while he learns how to use shields. We could also spend time here at the farmhouse, but Eric would still be with me, as well as Gran’s guards.”
“Yeah – about the guards. You really live like that? Andre said he would be talking to Hadley’s girlfriend about the same thing for us.”
“I do. At first it was strange, but now I either invite the guards in on whatever we’re doing, or I don’t notice them at all.” He shook his head and she cut him off. “Look, let’s talk later this week about a visit and we can discuss guards at that time as well. I can tell you’re antsy to get him home and to bed.”
“Yes, thank you.”
Back in the safe room of the cottage, Eric questioned Sookie on some of the stories she related from her youth. He’d arranged them on a blow-up mattress Jason had brought over, Sookie on her back, and he was lying on his side. This was a favorite position when they were talking because he could see her face and play with her at the same time – something he was doing at that very moment.
She stopped his questioning. “I know you want to talk about the stuff I said from my past, but it won’t change anything. We’ve talked about this before: my past doesn’t define me.”
“How about your comments about Jason? I was impressed.”
“Yeah, now you know why, in addition to Dawn’s pregnancy, I was so adamant about finding and saving him. He’d come to my aid for years. He even had one of his friends take me to the prom at the last minute when we realized my date only asked me on a dare.” She looked away from Eric for a moment to add. “I’d been dressed and ready to go, when he was late showing up, Tara called from the prom saying he was already there with his ‘real’ date.” He felt the pain from that one and squeezed her tightly. ‘I’ll question Jason about the identity of the idiot, he’ll pay.’
“We’ll leave this if you want, but I am here to talk about anything from your past if you want.”
“What about you?
“What about me?”
“I’m here for you too if you ever want to talk about your past.”
“I’ve shared Viking stories before. I’ve told you plenty of my travels; I know you’re here for me.”
“You also promised to tell me about your family.” A bit of pain squeaked through the bond, so she backed off. “I’m not pushing, I’m just reminding you.”
He was quiet for a few minutes and he stroked Sookie’s stomach while he thought. Finally he answered. “I had two wives and six children. My first wife, Aude, was an arranged marriage but we did fit well together. I had a very healthy respect for her and probably loved her as the mother to my children, but I wasn’t ‘in love’ with her. That’s a gift that waited for you.” She smiled at him. “She died with our 5th baby, both of them from a fever that was not controlled after the birth. Today it would probably have been diagnosed and treated easily as an infection of some sorts. They were laid to rest together.” She squeezed Eric having felt more of the pain coming across the bond. He was pensive for moment, then continued. “As I had young children, it was a priority to find another wife, so I traveled to another village to meet a prospect.”
He smiled slightly at her comment. “Far from it my sweet.” His face grew serious again. “I secured the woman, a widow with one child, made arrangements for her clan to bring her to my village for the wedding and headed home. I barely made it home alive.”
“What happened, an ambush?”
“No, wild animals of some sort. I was traveling alone and could hear snarling and hissing in the woods along with flesh being ripped so I ran for it. Returning home with a large animal would have been a boon, but traveling alone and going after the creatures making the noises? That would have been foolish.”
“So you married this woman?”
He nodded. “Her name was Gillaug. When we married, her child became my child as my children became hers as was tradition in our clan. We were only married a short time before Godric found me on a battlefield and turned me. At least I knew with a mother and my brother in the village, my children would be cared for. Godric allowed me one last glance before we left the area. My brother Sighfridh had taken Gillaug as his wife and he was going to take my father’s place as Chieftan.” He positioned Sookie to be more on top of him, her head in his shoulder while he hugged her tight. “I’ve always felt I was born to be a vampire and I never regretted Godric’s actions. If he hadn’t turned me, I would be dead. I do miss that I never got to raise my children though. My oldest was 8 and my youngest was 3 when I was turned.” He could feel the wetness from her tears on his chest as he spoke. “You are a gift to me Sookie. I believe that now. I’ve never spoken of my children, and I certainly never hoped to have another chance. Now I, rather WE have the chance to have a family and I will forever be grateful to you. Even though I will not father these children biologically, I vow that will never make them any less than mine.”
“Oh Eric, that . . . I mean . . . thank you. I can’t wait to get started.”
“Call Ludwig tomorrow; ask her if she can guide us to the right specialist.”
“I will.” She laughed out loud.
“What’s so funny?”
“We’ll be makers of tiny humans.”
“You think you’re clever.” He laughed with her.
“I know I am.”
“And now, even though we aren’t creating our babies in the traditional way, I think we should keep practicing for authenticity sake.”
“You make a good point.”
“You make two good points, and they’re currently rubbing against my chest.”
She laughed at him. “You’re a dirty old man.”
A/N – I can’t even try to take credit for the maker of tiny humans comment – it came from a Grey’s Anatomy episode and as soon as I heard it – I knew I would be borrowing (stealing) it. So thanks to the writer’s of Grey’s for that particular tidbit.