I practiced the techniques Claudine had suggested every chance I got. I started off slowly, going to public places I didn’t think would be too populated at one time. Book stores and libraries were great for that. Telepathy also forced me into practicing my poker face a little more. The difficult thing was to catch myself before answering a person’s thoughts. That was particularly tricky when they were wondering about something.
I did it to Jason once and as a result I had no choice but to tell him that I was telepathic, which led to Gran telling him the truth about granddaddy and the fairies. For as much as Jason lived in the gray area of morality his thoughts were surprisingly black and white… when it came to other people. He had trouble accepting the truth at first, insisting there was no way he was a fairy, not even a little bit. For whatever weird reason he got all homophobic in his thoughts.
“Jase, you’re not going to get any special gifts like I got,” I informed him. “Only one child in each generation is touched and you weren’t it.”
“So then did Daddy have special power?” he asked after a minute.
I hadn’t thought of it and suddenly wondered myself. He and I both looked to Gran. Even though I could have read her thoughts I didn’t want to, and instead practiced using my strengthening mental shield to keep her mind at bay.
“No, your father didn’t get the gift. Linda, however, had dreams that told the future. The problem was that Linda had a hard time remembering the dreams and since some of them had a nightmarish quality to them she preferred to forget. She did dream her own funeral once. She was only seventeen when that happened,” Gran recalled with a hint of sadness.
I couldn’t imagine dreaming of my own death. I was one of those people who always said I didn’t want to know how I’d die if someone could tell me. Just like Gran had suggested when it came to my gift, I would always be living in fear of what was to come instead of enjoying my life like I should. That was no way to live.
Hey I wonder if my kids’ll have some sort of magic power. Flying would be cool. Oh, or super strength! No, x-ray vision! I woulda killed for that back in high school. Hell, I’d like having it now. Wonder what that’d be like, being able to see any naked—nah, I’d rather be invisible. Then I could just go in the ladies bathroom and—
I stopped listening there. Nothing Jason was thinking after that could be good for me to hear. He had yet to tell Gran about the proposal to Dawn, or about the fact that he was supposedly going to be a father. I’d seen Dawn a handful of times around town and she looked the same to me. The pregnancy was being kept on the downlow, according to Jason. So far he’d only told Hoyt and I only knew because I had figured it out. They didn’t talk about the engagement either, which I thought was odd, but then the whole situation had a funny smell to it like something was off.
I left it alone though. It wasn’t my business to tell and just like Gran had been saying for as long as I could remember the truth always found its way out into the open. I was reluctant to believe Dawn was pregnant but if she was, at least my brother was willing to step up and deal with his responsibilities. Truthfully, I had always assumed that Jason would be a runner, even with Gran boxing his ears every chance she got until he changed his ways. Maybe growing up without a father had gotten him to realize how shitty it would be to abandon his child by choice.
When Gran sent Jason outside to chop firewood I went out with him to ask after Dawn since he’d been silent on the whole thing.
“Jason, I want to apologize if I came off sounding judgmental about Dawn. I was still mad at the two of you for all the stuff regarding Eric. I know you don’t need me to protect you but I don’t want you to marry her just out of obligation. It’d be different if you loved her-”
“I do love her,” he cut me off. “I didn’t know it right away but I realized that I do. We ain’t gettin’ married no more, Sook. We talked about it and she decided it ain’t the right move for us.”
“Are you okay with that?”
“I feel like I dodged a bullet,” he admitted. “I guess that’s how I know she was right to take it off the table.”
“Are you really sure she’s pregnant? She doesn’t look like it.”
“She says she is and I saw a pregnancy test that says she is.”
For some that would be enough but I still had a suspicion she was lying. There’d be a real easy way for me to find out if she was telling the truth or not, but I decided I didn’t want to get involved. If I found out it was a lie or that she knew Jason wasn’t the father I would end up feeling obligated to tell him the truth, and it wasn’t my place to do that. My ‘gift’ had its ups and downs to it.
“What’s it like to read minds?” Jason asked, changing the subject.
“It’s… Well, it’s not all that great sometimes. At first it was painful to be in a room full of people. It’s not easy having all that noise coming at you all at one time. Not to mention some of the things people think… You wouldn’t want to know every single thing someone thinks of you.”
“Oh come on, Sook, it can’t be all bad,” Jason said.
“No, it’s not all bad. I’m sure there are plenty of good things I can do with it, but until I get a better grasp on it, it’s going to keep being a bit of a pain in the neck.”
“So you can really hear what I’m thinking right now?”
“If I want to.”
I really didn’t want to get in my brother’s head. There was more than likely too much going on in there that I just didn’t want to know anything about. The less I knew about Jason’s private thoughts the better.
So of course he said, “Tell me what I’m thinking right now.”
I dropped the shields I’d worked on keeping up and his thoughts hit me. He was thinking of quotes from The Godfather, of all things, but at least that wasn’t something predictable.
“You’re thinking about The Godfather,” I said with a shrug.
Jason looked surprised, like he hadn’t really believed in my ability until that moment. But then he changed trains of thought and started thinking about using me as a human lie detector.
“Oh no you won’t,” I told him. “I’m not going and getting myself mixed up in other people’s business like that. If you think Dawn is cheating on you that’s between you and her. Would you want her to use me against you like that?”
“You’re my sister. Blood is thicker than water.”
“I don’t want to be in a position where I have to lie, Jason. I don’t like lying and I really don’t want to end up the messenger or the narc that gets other people in trouble. I don’t want people thinking I’m a freak for being able to do this.”
“Fine,” he reluctantly conceded.
“Thank you. Now do you want help stacking the firewood when you’re done chopping it?”
“Sure. Thanks, Sook. Not just for helping with this but for helping Gran all the time. I know she relies on you more than me and I don’t blame her. She wants you to be happy with that boyfriend of yours. Just promise me you’ll let me know if he treats you bad.”
I could imagine the sort of tongue lashing Jason might attempt to give and the funny thing was that I could see Eric patiently letting Jason vent, but ultimately dismissing my brother.
“Will do, Jase.”
I turned to go back in the house but Jason’s next question stopped me.
“Hey Sook? You think Daddy and Aunt Linda knew Granddaddy wasn’t their father?”
I thought about it for a moment before I answered, “I suppose they might have wondered about it some.”
I don’t think I’m the father of the baby.
“Then why were you going to marry her, Jase?” I asked him.
“Because I know what it’s like to grow up without your daddy being around,” he said simply.
My respect for him grew by leaps and bounds just then. I went over and hugged my brother. He might have a head full of rocks most of the time but every now and then he’d surprise me by saying something like that.
“You know Dawn would be lucky to have you,” I said and kissed his cheek before pulling back.
“Yeah she would,” he agreed less than modestly, and just like that he was back to being his usual self.
Keeping my shields up was exhausting for me at first. It took a lot of concentration to keep them up, but another meeting with Claudine assured me that once I got used to flexing those muscles, so to speak, it would get much easier. I’d be able to raise or lower them at will. I worked on the filtering thing Claudine had talked about, slowly building different pathways in my mind so I could really hear individual voices instead of just a loud cacophony of noise.
It got to be overwhelming pretty quickly at first, but the more I worked at it the better it got. We didn’t hear a peep out of Hadley or Remy so at least the glamouring had worked. After discussing it with Eric, he had agreed to lift the glamour from Hadley and Remy once we were sure the Rogues were no longer a threat.
If they were mobilizing they were doing so very quietly. Eric had Gervaise in the next area over keeping an eye on things. If there was going to be a battle it wouldn’t be taking place in area four. The presumed targets would be Remy and Hadley. I knew it made Gran nervous that they might get attacked, but there was little else Eric could do outside of alerting Gervaise about the problem. As much as I wanted to find another way to help Hadley, it was best if I stayed away and she stayed put.
If she took off again there was no telling where she would go. I was willing to bet she’d get out of Louisiana and it was a big world out there. Who knew where she had friends that would be willing to take her in. Plus Gran and I both were worried she would get back on drugs. I was concerned enough that she had been doing drugs at the start of her pregnancy. We wouldn’t know until the baby was born if he was healthy and normal or not.
Then there was the matter of whether or not he would be touched by Apollo. Hadley wasn’t stupid, contrary to what some of her actions and decisions might suggest. Her biggest problem was her sense of entitlement. It was another form of selfishness. I guess Hadley and Jason were making up for my selfless behavior. Jason accused me of being a doormat more than once but I didn’t see it that way at all.
A doormat was a person who let themselves get bullied into doing something they didn’t want to do. I did things for people because I wanted to help and because I enjoyed doing them. I had a choice in the matter. When I said no, which wasn’t often, I meant it. Doing favors for people didn’t make me a doormat at all. Besides, Gran had taught me to lend a helping hand when I could so that’s what I did.
I took Eric’s words to heart, however. Sacrificing my own life to save someone else’s might be a noble thing to do in some situations but I couldn’t constantly put my neck on the chopping block for others. Mentally I knew this, but then I’d look at the talisman hanging around my neck and wonder if I would still make the sacrifice when push came to shove. I could talk the talk but would I walk the walk? Only time would tell.
It was after my third meeting with Claudine, almost two weeks after Gran came home, and I decided to go surprise Eric. All Saints Day was the following day so I wouldn’t be able to see him. I would, however, be seeing Sam. He didn’t have any relatives buried at Home Sweet Home, but he always came out to support his friends. This year he had been approached about doing some catering for the event. It was shaping up to be a morbid version of a parish fair. All we needed was a pie contest.
When I got to Eric’s house it was just a few minutes before sunset. Things between him and I were better. I still wasn’t prepared to get back to the D/s stuff quite yet but Eric was leaving all of that up to me to decide. If I ever wanted to get back into it he said he would be willing to resume my training. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me that missed it. But I’d come to the conclusion that we had approached it like a business deal the first time around. That may have been okay if that was the basis of our relationship, but it was obvious to me that we meant more to each other than just scene partners.
I figured out that Eric was most likely never going to be an open book about his feelings, but there was something so typically male about that that it was actually kind of comforting… even if it was annoying. The important thing was not letting myself get distracted by how sexy he could be when I was angry with him. We still bickered over little things and it wasn’t like Eric was intentionally trying to throw me off by doing something that turned me on, at least I didn’t think that was what he was doing. Then again, Eric didn’t survive for as long as he had without being at least a little sneaky, devious or even manipulative. He had his flaws but the pros outweighed the cons.
I left my shoes by the front door and my purse was on the floor by the fireplace. I went to the kitchen to make myself some tea while I waited for Eric. I knew he would sense my presence as soon as he was awake and since we hadn’t seen each other in a few days I could only imagine what would happen when he rose for the evening.
The answer to that question came before my water was even boiling. One minute I was standing near the stove, patiently waiting for the water to heat up and the next there was a super horny vampire grinding against me from behind. He was sniffing me while he was rubbing against me, and I definitely felt fangs on my neck.
“Lover, you smell of fairy,” he said in a husky voice.
“I met with Claudine,” I explained, and then remembered her warning from the first time we met about her scent clinging to me.
Eric’s hands were all over me and just when the kettle was starting to make some noise, he tugged my shirt up over my head. It went flying through the air and my bra quickly accompanied it. If this was what he was like after just smelling a fairy I was a little afraid of what he’d be like after tasting a fairy.
Eric removed the kettle from the heat for me and then picked me up to set me on the large island behind us. His lips attacked mine while his hands found purchase on my chest. We’d had sex a handful of times since the night in the playroom upstairs and it hadn’t been rough and demanding. I was thankful for it. Not that all we ever had was rough sex, but lately it felt like connecting on a deeper emotional level. It hadn’t just been about release or finding a way to exorcise the passion we feel for one another.
But the fairy smell had thrown the slower, more patient Eric out the window. He wanted me and at that moment he was taking what he wanted d I was more than willing to let him. There was a part of me that missed feeling like a ragdoll, constantly feeling off balance and unsure of what he’s going to do next. A moment came when I pulled his head from my breasts while his hands were fiddling with my jeans to get them off of me, and I kissed him softly, sweetly.
To my surprise Eric slowed down and sobered up enough to look into my eyes and ask, “Too much, Lover?”
“No,” I answered and started to plant little kisses along his jaw.
He worked my jeans down over my hips and I lifted myself up so he could slide them off of me. Something in me shifted. I’m not sure what, but there was just a very different feeling passing back and forth between Eric and me. My attempt to slow things down just a little bit had paid off, at least for the moment. My vampire took his time, kissing his was down my neck and along the heated skin of my torso. He would kiss every square inch of me if I let him and I loved him for it.
My pulse jumped and it just so happened to coincide with the first pass of his tongue over my clit. My eyes rolled back a little and I lay back against the cool granite countertop. Eric grabbed my thighs and pulled me closer to the edge of the counter. My legs ended up over his shoulders with his thumbs spreading me open while his tongue flicked at an inhuman speed against my clit. My moans got louder and louder, and it was a good thing Eric had a hold of my hips already. My hands were in his hair, tugging gently to move him where I wanted him.
Two of his fingers plunged into me and immediately curled in search of my magic spot. He found it quickly and in no time I was exploding from the inside. I didn’t even notice that Eric had bitten me until my head lifted from the counter to see just a trace of blood on his lips.
That got me thinking, however, that I hadn’t gotten my period like I should have the week before. The realization brought everything to a screeching halt. I sat up and pushed Eric’s head away from my pussy.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Can you get me pregnant?” I asked him.
“No. Vampires are sterile.”
I nodded but didn’t feel better for some reason. Something was nagging at me and after a few seconds I realized what it was. It was friggin’ Callisto, groping on my stomach the night we met, talking nonsense about how strong I was. Nevermind that fucked up dream where she said I would give Eric sons.
“I haven’t gotten my period,” I told Eric. “Its always come like clockwork for me. I should have gotten it last week.”
“Lay back,” he said.
“Eric, I’m not exactly thinking about round two right now,” I narrowed my eyes.
“If you’re pregnant I may be able to hear it,” he explained.
“The baby’s heartbeat, of course. ”
“You could hear that?” I asked with wide eyes.
“It’s possible. Lay back so I can take a listen,” he said. He was remarkably calm which led me to think he was doing this just to humor me.
It was more than likely that I was late because of the stress I’d been under. Between the breakup, getting fired, Gran going missing, Jason’s near engagement, Hadley resurfacing and finding out I was part fairy I’d had a busy month or so. It was all stressful so it would make sense for me to be off. Eric pressed his ear to my lower abdomen and I stayed silent while he listened.
“Do you hear anything you shouldn’t?” I asked after a minute.
“No. There’s only one heartbeat in your body.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. Eric lifted his head and said, “I thought you said you weren’t with anyone else while we were apart.”
“I wasn’t!” I said defensively. “But a lot of strange shit has been happening lately so for all I know you knocked me up somehow.”
“I don’t think it’s possible to suddenly become fertile, Sookie.”
“I didn’t think it was possible to just start reading people’s thoughts either, but it happened. Plus Callisto said something about me giving you sons in a dream I had-”
“It was only a dream, Lover.”
I shook my head and said, “My Aunt Linda used to be able to see the future in her dreams. What if I was seeing the future?”
“I think you’re panicking over nothing,” he said with a caress of my neck.
“I think if there’s a possibility you could get me pregnant when you shouldn’t be able to, that’s something we should know about. I’m not ready to be a mother and I don’t have the slightest idea how you would feel about being a father.”
I liked what I had with Eric but I didn’t feel like there was room for a child in all of that. Having Pam willing to but in whenever it suited her was irksome enough. Babies were cute and all but they were a lot of work.
“So we’ll talk to Callisto and see if she knows something we don’t. Maybe she learned something from the Pythoness that she held back,” Eric suggested.
“Okay,” I nodded and relaxed just a little.
Eric grabbed my face and cupped it gently in his hands. He looked into my eyes and said, “If it is true that you and I can somehow make a child you don’t need to worry about me abandoning you, Sookie. I’ve had a millennium to live selfishly. Being a father at this day and age might be quite the adventure, and you would make a wonderful mother.”
His words calmed me a bit and he kissed me I kissed him back. My arms wrapped around his neck and it was when he was scooping me up off the counter that I realized what the shift inside me was.
I was in love with Eric.