Eric left me a set of keys for one of the cars out in the garage so I could drive back to Bon Temps when I woke up. I needed to decide what I was going to do about my car but it was going to depend on how quickly I found a new job. Finding Gran had taken precedent to scheduling an interview with Rita Collier so unless by some miracle the position hadn’t been filled it was back to the drawing board for me. When I woke up late the next morning I felt well-rested and better than I had in weeks.
Gran was safe, Eric and I had come to an understanding and I had an overall more positive attitude. I had pressed him a bit more about the other women he had been with since he’d been rather silent about it yet again in the shower. I didn’t like it, but from his perspective he hadn’t done anything wrong. We weren’t together, and he had no guarantees that I would give him a second chance. Even as a human monogamy hadn’t been expected of him so it was a new concept for him to deal with. He promised me from that point on that I would be the only woman he had sex with, and that was all I could really ask for.
Since Eric had dirtied me up I decided a quick rinse off in the shower was called for. After that I went to the closet to dress myself. I picked a pair of jeans that were snug in the hips and a camisole I could wear under a fitted flannel shirt. I paired my outfit with plaid flats. I called Gran just to check in on her to make sure she was doing alright.
“I’m fine, honey. Pam left me a note to let me know you were okay. Will you be home tonight?”
“I’ll be leaving Eric’s house shortly. He left me the keys for one of his cars. I think he’ll come by after dark.”
“Were you able to find out anything about the man that was at the hotel?”
“Not much else besides his name and that he knew where Hadley lives,” I told her.
“Did he make it?” Gran asked in lieu of asking if he was dead.
“No, ma’am,” I said.
“That’s probably for the best,” she said with reluctant acceptance.
I appreciated Gran’s attempts at pragmatism but I knew the Christian in her prickled at the notion of murder as a preemptive strike, or maybe my boyfriend taking it upon himself to play the roles of judge, jury and executioner. When I thought about it I figured if Eric wanted a woman who thought like a vampire, he would just be with a vampire.
“Perhaps. What are you going to tell Jason? Does he know you’re back?”
“Yes, he does. I called this morning and he came for breakfast,” she said and it was then that I remembered Jason’s hairbrained idea about getting married. “I told him that I went over the border to Arkansas to that pumpkin patch I used to take y’all to and on my way back I had some car trouble. The nice gentleman that stopped to help was able to get my car towed on but didn’t have a phone.”
“And he believed that?” I quirked my eyebrow.
I never would have bought that load of horse puck in a million years but I wasn’t as cluelessly accepting of things as my brother was. As long as Gran was back home safe and willing to resume making his meals that was probably all that mattered to my brother. Bless his heart.
“You know Jason, eat first ask questions when it suits him.”
Gran was right about that. Jason’s dander really only got up when he thought the answers might affect him negatively. So long as Gran wasn’t going to ask him for money to recoup the cost of having her car fixed, Jason would probably just settle for giving Gran as much grief as she would allow for disappearing like that without so much as a phone call. Personally, I was a little irritated about that still myself, but what was done was done. Gran had apologized and it was ultimately Hadley that I was angry with.
“You haven’t heard from Hadley today, have you?” I asked just to be sure. Abe was supposed to glamour her into leaving our family alone but it was better to be safe than sorry.
“No, I haven’t. I know she went and got herself mixed up with the wrong crowd and that she should fix her own mistakes. But I feel sorry for that poor baby of hers. He didn’t ask to be brought into all this mess. On top of that, Remy sure seems like a nice young man. I would hate for something to happen to the baby if for no reason other than it would devastate Remy.”
I held my tongue over the possibility that this baby might not be Remy’s. There was no need to bring that up if Gran didn’t already know. It was safe to assume that she might have entertained that possibility. About the only good thing I could say about Hadley at the moment was that she was clean for the first time in about a decade. I just hoped it would say that way for the sake of the baby.
“Rogues may come looking for the one that’s missing. Eric and some of his associates have a plan in place for that. I think he may keep Pam with you until he’s sure the Rogues have been dispatched for good.”
“That’s fine with me. I enjoy Pam quite a bit. She’s got a sass to her that reminds me of you,” Gran told me. “Plus she can give me her firsthand accounts of historical events. We had a lovely discussion about the women’s movement and suffrage last night before bed. Pam is quite the feminist.”
“I’m happy to hear you’re getting along so well. Is there anything you’d like for me to pick up on my way home?”
“No, I think I’m alright. I went out once for milk, eggs, bread and a few other things. Will you be spending the night at Eric’s again?”
“I think so. Until I speak to Niall I think it’s best. It’s too difficult to be around a mind I can read clearly and I don’t want to invade your privacy like that.”
“You’re a grown woman, Sookie. You don’t need my permission to spend time with Eric.”
“What do you think of him, Gran? I mean honestly, what do you really think?”
I could have waited and plucked her thoughts from her brain but I wanted her to say things out loud. I wanted to repair the trust that had been broken over the fairy issue, which was something we would probably have to tell Jason at some point whether we liked it or not. The hypocrisy of what we were doing by not telling him the truth about Granddaddy right away wasn’t lost on me. The difference was that I was prepared for Jason to be angry with me.
It had seemed like Eric and especially Sam were expecting me to just accept what they were saying like it was no big deal. That got me thinking about Sam again, wondering if I could ever find a way to forgive him. It was bad enough that he had lied to me but on the laundry list of things I was angry at him for, lying didn’t even clear the top five.
“I think Eric made a mistake by not telling you the truth sooner but I also think it’s obvious he cares for you a great deal. He went out of his way to help you when you needed it and I think as long as he can find a way to make you smile the way he used to, it’s worth giving him another chance,” Gran told me.
Her opinion meant a lot to me and she knew it. Giving Eric a second chance without Gran’s blessing would be difficult for me now that she’d met him. Having her on board made me feel even better about the conversation Eric and I had the night before. Things weren’t quite perfect, but they were getting closer to it.
“Oh Sookie before you go I thought of something! Would you please stop at the craft store and pick up a few spools of fishing line for me?” Gran asked.
“Sure. Do you need anything else?”
“An extra pair of arms?”
I chuckled and said, “You could put Pam to work. I’m sure she would love to help you make wreaths for All Saints Day.”
“I might just do that,” Gran said seriously.
Just for the fun of it Eric could order her to help. That could be fun.
“Alright, Gran, I’m leaving here in a few minutes. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
“I’ll be here,” she said.
We hung up and I grabbed the keys Eric left for me on my nightstand. The car key had a remote attached with a Nissan emblem on it. I went up to the garage to find a shiny new SUV parked inside that hadn’t been there the night before. It was pearly white and I stopped short when I saw the personalized plates on the back of the car.
He’d better be kidding by that license plate. Mr. Comedy was going to have to explain that to Gran if he was serious.
I hated to admit it, but I loved driving that SUV. The ride was much smoother than my old Honda, nevermind how fast it was, or how much better it handled. I loved my old Honda and it would always have a special place in my heart but I knew its life was pretty much over.
I couldn’t keep Eric’s car, though, no matter how ‘thoughtful’ the license plates were. I had agreed to be his girlfriend, not his wife. I could play along as the dutiful kept pet around vampires but I wasn’t sure how I felt about the car. The clothes were one thing but a car? I was going to need Gran’s opinion about that too.
On my way back to Bon Temps I stopped at the craft store and went looking for the clear thread Gran had asked for. I got a little sidetracked looking at the display of Christmas ornaments that were already out. It seemed like Christmas started coming earlier and earlier every year. I first started to see Christmas things at the beginning of October. I loved Christmas and all, but how long did I really need to have my house decorated for it?
Gran didn’t decorate until the first week of December and that was always soon enough for my taste. I found a sparkly pink high heel ornament that made me think of Pam for some reason so I bought it. I didn’t know if Pam decorated for Christmas or not but if she hated it I was sure I could find someone to take the ornament off my hands.
“Oooh I love that!” the woman next to me said.
“It’s cute, isn’t it?” I smiled, but then recoiled a bit when I realized that her mind wasn’t like the others I was doing my best not to listen to.
This woman’s mind was like the peaceful white light brain I’d been exposed to the night before.
“It’s alright, Sookie. Niall sent me. I’m here to help you,” she said with a slightly perky edge to her voice. “My name is Claudine Crane. Niall is my great-grandfather, too.”
“So we’re cousins?”
“We are blood, yes,” she smiled a radiant smile at me.
I wanted her to prove it to me somehow but I wasn’t sure how she could do that… that is until she touched a glowing fingertip to my forehead and all of the other voices were magically shut out of my mind.
“Oh my gracious what did you just do?” I asked with a blend of shock and relief.
“Niall received word that your gift had manifested. Telepathy isn’t a common trait among the fae,” Claudine explained. “However, our magic allows is to do just about anything. Sadly you don’t carry enough of our line to have all of the power we do, but as a chosen of our First Sire Niall endowed me with the magic to assist you in your transition.”
“So I’m not cured?”
“Cured?” Claudine seemed aghast that I would want to be cured of my gift. “No, of course not. The First Sire went to great lengths in selecting your special gift. It is only because the Norseman has already proven his worth to Niall that he has been spared a visit from some of our distant demon relatives. Apollo also has called a truce with Thor, god of thunder, and that extends to his believers.”
“What’s the problem with Eric?”
“He’s not safe for our kind,” Claudine said as if I was some silly goose for not connecting all the dots.
“I would love to talk to you more about this but seeing as we’re in the middle of a craft store…”
“Oh we’re shrouded,” she said dismissively. When I looked confused she added, “All that means is that you and I are invisible to the other customers. If anyone walks by they won’t hear or see us until I remove the shroud.”
That was a neat trick.
“So do you know anything about telepathy control?” I asked her.
“I do not. Niall was good enough to reach out on your behalf to the First Sire and he explained that the human mind is often limited by the notions of what society deems to be acceptable. Creativity is stifled by fear of rejection. If you want to control your mind, and the way it works, then you must take ownership of it back and dust off the tainting of human society.”
Easier said than done, but given that I had a vampire boyfriend I supposed anything was possible. If I ever wanted to have an at least semi-normal life again I was going to have to get my telepathy under control since it seemed there were no refunds or exchanges with my ancient relative. Really, once I got the hang of it, being telepathic might not be such a bad thing.
Claudine and I stayed right there for a while with her telling me everything she could about how to control my gift. It all seemed simple enough but putting it into practice was harder than I expected.
“It won’t happen for you overnight, but keep practicing. First Sire insisted that over time you will come to rely on this gift he has given you, and he sees with perfect clarity,” Claudine insisted.
According to her, Apollo had told Niall that in time I would be able to channel and filter thoughts so that my head wouldn’t feel like it was one of those chambers where the walls were all spiked (the spikes were the voices) and slowly closing in on me. Claudine suggested that I practice this as often as possible. Cutting myself off would do me no favors. She was right, most likely, but in the beginning it would be a taxing task.
“I’m not far away if you need my assistance, Sookie. Niall has assigned me to look in on you. I do not inhabit this realm, but my brother does,” she informed me. “Claude doesn’t care much for Fairy after visiting earth.”
“I must get back to Fairy now. I would advise waiting a while before seeing your vampire. My scent will linger and it will be difficult for him to resist having you every way he can,” she warned.
“Thank you, Claudine. It was lovely to meet you.”
“And you. Be well, cousin,” she said with another radiant smile and then she disappeared from sight with a little noise that sounded like a bubble popping.
Since her little head trick was still in effect I went to get what Gran needed so I could get home.