I could hear thoughts. Every single thing Hadley was thinking was filtering through my head as loud and clear as if I was thinking the thoughts for her. Odd that I couldn’t hear the man in the house, but then maybe it was because he was glamoured. What I wanted to know was why Eric had come hauling ass up to the house like he did.
“Hadley, calm down,” I said gently. “Why do you think someone wants your baby?”
Eric cleared his throat behind me and when I looked his way he was staring at Hadley. All of a sudden her mind went quiet and I assumed she was being glamoured as well. One look at her told me all I needed to know. Eric had definitely put the whammy on her.
“Eric, what the fuck is going on?” I asked him, even though he probably knew as much as I did.
“You responded to the man at the door but he hadn’t spoken. Callisto said your gift would help you hear and see better. It never occurred to me to consider telepathy,” he whispered to me.
I felt a sudden white noise sort of sound and wondered if it was coming from Hadley. When I let go of her the sound lessened a little. Since Eric had her glamoured I asked, “Hadley, where is Gran?”
She looked at me with vacant eyes and said, “She’s in a hotel.”
A hotel? Why the hell was she in a hotel?
“Where is the hotel?”
“On Lamereaux Road four miles south of here.”
“Why is she there?”
“Because it’s safer.”
“Why is it safer?”
“Because I met some bad people and I got into some trouble. I got away and met Remy. Now I’m pregnant and I’m scared they’re going to take the baby as payback.”
“What did you do that would make then want your baby?”
“I was with the Rogues and one of the women thought I was fucking her old man. We got in a fight and she miscarried. Eye for an eye.”
I sighed and asked, “Who are the Rogues, Hadley?”
“They’re werewolves that don’t belong to a regular pack,” she said and I looked to Eric.
“It’s a bit more complicated than that but we’ll discuss it later,” he said.
“Why did you kidnap Gran?” I asked Hadley.
“I didn’t. I told her I was in trouble and needed her help. She wanted to go home and leave a note for you but I convinced her not to.”
Fucking Hadley. Just like Jason, her consideration for others ended at the tip of her nose. No one in the world ranked higher to Hadley than Hadley. We could all be selfish sometimes, and we should be, but not to the extent that Hadley was. It pissed me off that she disappeared for as long as she had only to resurface long enough to once again drag Gran into her mess. When was this shit going to stop?
“When is the baby due?”
By the looks of it she was maybe about two thirds of the way through her pregnancy.
“The end of January. It’s a boy.”
“Is the man that lives here the baby’s father?”
“I think so.”
I looked at Eric, unsure of what to do with Hadley.
“Hadley you stay here. Sookie will be right back,” he said and then led me out of the room.
We went across the hall to what I assumed was the master bedroom, even though it wasn’t much bigger than the half decorated nursery.
“What are the Rogues?” I asked him.
“They’re wolves without a pack in the sense that they disassociated themselves from the organized packs. Just like vampires have a chain of command, so do werewolves. These Weres, however, don’t feel they need to answer to anyone but themselves. There’s usually an alpha leading them, and they have their own code but the most important thing to note is that they’re not generally law abiding.
“These are Weres that ride motorcycles, work in garages, start bar fights and many of them do drugs, including drinking vampire blood,” Eric informed me.
“Vampire blood? But how?”
“They capture a vampire and drain it,” he said, which was just a shocking thing to me. “Or maybe they have a vampire that supplies them. Either way, they’re dangerous, and Hadley made a mistake getting involved with them. The Rogues like to buy and sell their women, so if she escaped that means she cost her owner money. He will be coming for her, and if she killed a female werewolf’s baby she’s right about them wanting revenge. The fertility rate among female Weres has declined.”
He was like a walking encyclopedia.
“So how could Gran help her? Why bring a seventy-something-year-old woman into this mess?”
“Maybe she hoped that your Gran would help her raise the child,” he suggested.
“No way would Gran give up the farmhouse,” I said. Hadley knew it, too. There had to be another reason beside that.
“Then I think we should go pay your Gran a visit,” he said.
“Yes, probably. If she wants to stay here I can’t make her come home, but I still don’t understand why she didn’t call me,” I huffed.
“How’s your head?”
“It feels strange. I didn’t even know they were thoughts,” I told him. I have no idea how to turn it off, either. What if there’s no way to control it and it drives me mad?”
“We’ll figure out something,” Eric said, and when he touched me all the noise went away. “Can you hear my thoughts?”
“No, I don’t think so. When you touched me just now everything got quiet again for me.”
“I’ll contact Niall after we speak with your grandmother. Perhaps he can help in that area as well,” Eric suggested.
“I hope so,” I sighed, and then followed him back to the nursery to deal with Hadley.
For the sake of that innocent baby I hoped that the Rogues didn’t find Hadley either.
Before we left Hadley and Remy, Eric glamoured them into forgetting we were ever there. Instead they thought a motorist needed directions. It made me sad to think that might be the last time I saw Hadley. With her it was entirely possible that she could disappear again without a trace. Part of me hoped that she did. Hadley was nothing but trouble and if she was involved with a bunch of vampire blood drinking werewolves that was just a mess of trouble that Gran didn’t need.
Eric had questioned her a little more invasively than I had since he had a greater understanding of the supernatural world than I did, and it turned out that Hadley hadn’t just gotten involved with any old werewolf, but the Rogue’s leader, the alpha male. That was how it started, anyway. When the alpha’s wife learned of the affair she had insisted that he trade her off to someone else. Hadley had been passed around like a pie plate, going from one member to another until she got into a fight with the mate of the one Were she’d never been involved with.
Unfortunately for Hadely, by that point the mates were pretty sick of her presence and didn’t really want her around very much anymore. According to Eric she was lucky she hadn’t been killed since female werewolves were even more deadly than their counterparts.
“But then the female of the species is always more deadly than the male,” Eric had said in a slightly lofty tone.
Once we were out of the house Eric let go of my hand and the din of noise started to build up again. I had no idea how I was going to adjust to that feeling but I supposed I would over time. I got in his car and Eric sent Abe on his way. I felt better knowing that Gran was only a few miles away but I worried about anyone that might have trailed Hadley after she disappeared.
When Eric got in the car I asked, “How likely is it that she’ll be found?”
“Her best bet is to stay away from big cities,” Eric told me as he started the car. “The quieter her life is the better, but I get the feeling she’s not the quiet type.”
“Hadley disappeared the first time when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer,” I told Eric once we were headed to the hotel where Gran was holed up. “She was gone for three weeks before she came back strung out and asking Aunt Linda for money to support her habit. When Aunt Linda refused, Hadley started stealing antiques from Gran’s attic to pawn. Aunt Linda was in and out of the hospital for a little more than a year before she died.
“Hadley came back for the funeral and just long enough for the estate to be settled. There wasn’t a lot of money but enough for her to disappear with again. She called Gran a couple of years ago to ask for money for rehab and Gran wired it to her. We didn’t hear a peep out of Hadley after that. For all any of us knew, Hadley was dead. She basically scammed Gran, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not happy that she’s resurfaced and I’m damn mad that she’s trying to drag Gran into her mess.”
“I can glamour her into staying away if that’s what you want,” Eric offered. “I can fix it so she never contacts you again.”
I took a deep breath and considered that for a few seconds. Life was easier without Hadley that was for damn sure. Even Gran would have to agree with that. At the same time, Hadley was still family and Gran had raised me to never turn my back on family, no matter how much they screwed up. In Hadley’s case she was pregnant. I didn’t know anything about the baby’s father so I didn’t know if he came from a good family, but I wasn’t crazy about Hadley having to raise that baby alone.
“Let’s wait until we talk to Gran,” I said. “Maybe she knows something that we don’t.”
I doubted that was true. Hadley had always been good at snowing Gran. She was able to manipulate things so it seemed she was the victim and for some reason, Gran always fell for it. Like Jason and me, Hadley had lost both of her parents at a young age. Her father died when she was a teenager and Aunt Linda died just before Hadley turned twenty. It was a sad state of affairs in our family that people died so suddenly and so young, but to me that just meant I needed to take better care of myself and be more careful.
We all had different ways of coping with things that much I knew. Hadley turned to drugs to numb her pain. Jason used sex to distract himself. My defense, although I was loathe to admit it, was denial. I never wanted to take a closer look at just how bad something was. I’d chock things up to just being the way life went sometimes and moving on before the pain could ever really settle in.
Eric pulled into the parking lot of the hotel and I felt relief flood over me when I saw Gran’s car parked in the gravel lot. Hadley had told me Gran was in room five, so Eric parked nearby and turned off the car. I’d been so anxious to find Gran and to know that age was okay, but I was suddenly bombarded by thoughts coming from the other people staying in the hotel and I had no idea how to make it stop or shut it off. There were so many different voices and it was hard to latch on to any one of them.
Until I heard Gran. She was thinking about yarn colors. She was knitting a blanket for her first great grandbaby and she was having a hard time deciding between blue and green.
“What’s wrong?” Eric asked when I didn’t move to get out of the car.
“I can hear them all,” I said. Every single person in that hotel was thinking about something.
My gift was about selflessness and Apollo had chosen wisely.
Eric reached for my hand and all of the thoughts dimmed out of my head. I felt my energy drain a little bit. How was I ever going to be around anyone ever again? I didn’t want to know what everyone was thinking all the time. I knew how ugly my own thoughts could be sometimes so I had no desire to hear those things in the minds of others.
“Are you ready to go see your grandmother?” Eric asked after a minute or so.
“Yeah, I am. Will you come with me?”
This wasn’t how I’d planned for Eric to meet her but since he’d been instrumental in finding her it only seemed fair.
“If you’d like,” he said.
I nodded and reached over to open my door. Not only did I want him to meet Gran but I also needed the silence that touching him provided. I was beyond thankful that I couldn’t hear Eric that way. I really didn’t want to know every thought of the person I was having sex with. There were plenty of things I was better off not knowing.
I had to let go of his hand to get out of the car, and the voices all came barreling back at me. In that moment I was glad I’d already told Gran that Eric was a vampire. That way I wouldn’t sound completely insane when I told her about the fairies and being gifted by a Greek god. I did, however, realize that my gift could make me a total outcast. How would my friends and family feel about knowing I could read their minds to pull out their deepest and darkest secrets any old time I pleased?
I knew what it felt like to be an outsider but that was nothing in comparison to how people might treat me once they learned what I could do. Eric rushed around to the other side of the car and took my hand again. The voices went away and I stiffened a little at the idea that I might end up a secluded shut-in for the rest of my life because being around people might be overwhelming for me. My gift, as I understood it, was meant to help others but unless I figured out how to control it I was going to go insane.
We walked to the door of room five and I knocked. I could hear Gran moving around in her room to come to the door.
“Gran, it’s me,” I said just in case she was afraid to open up for some reason.
“Sookie?” she sounded confused but also happy. The bolt on the door turned and then it opened a little.
Just a sliver of Gran’s face appeared to me and I grinned. She was okay. There were no bumps, bruises or anything like that. Gran was fine.
I could breathe easier.
“Sookie, how did you find me?” Gran asked.
“I had some help. Can you let me in?”
The door opened all the way to reveal Eric standing at my side. Gran’s reaction was nothing short of priceless. She had the same wide eyed look on her face that I assumed most women did the first time they laid eyes on Eric Northman. Her head craned back to take in his full height, but once she got past his beautiful packaging her eyes went to work scrutinizing him. No doubt she was taking in his posture, expression and a whole bunch of other things.
“Gran, this is Eric Northman. Eric, this is my grandmother, Adele Stackhouse,” I introduced them.
“Mrs. Stackhouse, it is a pleasure to meet you,” Eric said and even offered her his hand because it was the polite thing to do.
“Mr. Northman,” Gran said as she took his hand. I was glad to see that if she had been enamored with him she wasn’t letting that cloud her perception of him.
“Gran I’ve been to see Hadley,” I told her and that got her to snap out of her analysis.
“You have? But how? Did she finally call you like I told her to?”
“No, she didn’t. A friend of Eric’s was able to follow your trail. It’s a long story and best not told out here in the open.”
“Yes, of course. Come in,” she said and stepped out of the way so Eric and I could enter the room.
Clothes that I didn’t recognize as hers were hanging from the metal rack fixed to the wall near the back of the room. There were piles of yarn just waiting to be turned into blankets, booties, hats and other things for Hadley’s baby. The beds were made and the television was tuned in to TCM. The room was probably the cleanest it had ever been with Gran living in it.
She closed the door behind us and then locked it too. Eric continued to hold my hand to keep the voices at bay. Being the good southern woman she was Gran immediately offered us drinks.
“I’m fine, Gran, thank you,” I said.
“No thank you, Mrs. Stackhouse,” Eric said politely.
“So you’re the fella that Sookie’s been so nervous to introduce me to,” Gran said as she sat in one of the chairs beside the small table by the windows.
“I hope so,” he said.
“Gran, I told him that you know what he is,” I told her so she didn’t try to dance around the issue, not that that was her way.
“Why did you wait so long to tell her the truth, young man?” Gran asked Eric, and being called that made him smile. Gran didn’t seem to think it was funny since her eyes narrowed.
“With all due respect, Mrs. Stackhouse, I’m more than 1,000 years old,” Eric said and I couldn’t remember if I’d told her that or not. Regardless, Gran didn’t look particularly impressed. Whether it was because she didn’t believe it or because she didn’t want Eric think that had her flustered I didn’t know. “I didn’t tell her sooner because, as I’m sure you can imagine, this must remain secret for a reason. It isn’t safe for vampires to make themselves known yet.”
“Yet?” Gran and I said at the same time.
“As we speak there is a research company in Japan that is very close to perfecting a synthetic blood supplement that would allow vampires to give up drinking human blood,” Eric said, and that was also news to me.
Gran and I both remained silent for a moment while we absorbed that. I tried to imagine what the world would be like with vampires out roaming among us without hiding what they are, but nothing was really coming to me. Well, nothing good.
“Well there’s just one more thing for those Klan fools to get fired up over,” Gran said. “You know if they had as much sense as they did prejudice the world would be a better place.”
I wasn’t around to experience the racial divide back in the sixties, but Gran had told us plenty of stories as kids about it. There had been improvements since then but there were still plenty of ignorant rednecks that made comments about African-Americans like it was still cool to say such nasty things. In spite of all the time that had passed I hated that a lot of people still viewed the south as a bunch of racist, inbred assholes.
“Does this mean that vampires don’t plan on staying hidden?” I asked Eric.
“I don’t want to say anything here that I may have to take back later. The price may be too high,” Eric said in a cryptic sort of way.
“Mr. Northman,” Gran piped up, “Your secrets are your own to share at your leisure. However, if you’re putting my granddaughter at risk that’s something I’m not okay with and she shouldn’t be either. She has the right to be informed.”
“You are correct, Mrs. Stackhouse. If there are things I do not tell Sookie it is for her safety and not because I enjoy keeping things from her. There are some things she is simply better off not knowing at this point in time. Not just for my safety, but for hers as well.”
“Speaking of secrets,” I cut in to keep the two of them from getting into an argument. “Gran, what do you know about the necklace you gave to me on my sixteenth birthday?”
“No more than I told you before, that a relative gave it to me to hold for you,” Gran said, but there was something a little shifty about the way she answered.
“You told me that you don’t remember who this relative was. Is that still true?” I asked her. “Because I think I know who it was.”
Gran sighed heavily and muttered, “The weight of lies will bring you down,” but both Eric and I could hear it clear as crystal.
“What does that mean, Gran?”
I knew what the saying itself meant, but in that context I wanted to know what she was talking about.
“As a teenager your grandfather had a bad case of the Mumps. He ran a dangerously high fever for close to a week before it broke. He recovered from the illness but the fever did its damage, leaving him unable to have children. He didn’t learn that until after we were married and trying to conceive a baby,” Gran started to explain.
My heart leapt into my throat as she continued on to tell me about a man named Fintan who had come out of the woods one day while she was hanging the wash out on the line.
“He was a good looking man with captivating charm and a wonderful sense of humor. I had no idea who he was, and it was even rarer back in those days not to know every soul in town than it is today. Fintan was disappointed to learn that I was already married. When I told your grandfather about him, he didn’t get upset. A week or so passed before Fintan came again, and again I told your grandfather. Each time Fintan came I learned a bit more about him, and I always told your grandfather about it. Three months passed before Mitchell finally made a suggestion that changed everything.
“By then he knew that Fintan was interested in me in more than just a neighborly way. I had resisted because I loved your grandfather and because I took vows that I meant, and intended to keep. But we wanted children, so your grandfather suggested that I give in to Fintan,” Gran explained.
I was completely dumbfounded. Gran had cheated on my grandfather. Even if she had done so with his permission it was still cheating. I looked to Eric who had his poker face firmly in place. I liked to think I was open-minded about a lot of things, but infidelity wasn’t something I could ever see myself budging on. Gran had always drilled it into me how important it was to see through my commitments. She had told me more times than I could count that divorce wasn’t an option and that marriage was for life.
While it was true that Gran and Granddaddy had stayed together until his death when I was a very little girl, I still had a hard time understanding how either of them could be okay with Gran having cheated.
“So Granddaddy isn’t really my granddaddy,” I said.
“He didn’t share your genes, but he is your kin, Sookie,” Gran insisted. “Family isn’t just about blood.”
“So why didn’t you ever tell us this, Gran? Granddaddy couldn’t have kids. We would have understood.”
“Because it shouldn’t matter,” she answered. “At the end of the day Mitchell Stackhouse is still the man that told you stories in front of the fireplace, whittled you little animals so your dollhouse would have pets and he was the one that taught you to shoot a BB gun before you could even write your name. None of that changes because he doesn’t share your blood.”
“Of course it doesn’t!” I snapped at her, which wasn’t like me. I picked up my necklace and said, “But this changes everything, Gran. The isn’t just a necklace. This is a talisman, and it came from Fintan, didn’t it?”
“Don’t you raise your voice at me, young lady,” Gran stared me down with a look that still sent shivers up my spine. “Yes, it came from Fintan. It was a gift that was given to me after you were born.”
“Did Jason or Hadley get one of these?”
“No,” Gran said. “I asked why and all Fintan would tell me was that it would protect you someday when you needed it. He insisted that I keep it safe for you until you turned sixteen.”
“Did he tell you what he is?”
At the moment I didn’t trust Gran very much and I couldn’t really afford to have any more secrets coming out of the woodwork. Gran had her reasons for keeping things from me, and I was sure at some point I would come to understand it better, but for the moment I was disappointed in her decision to hide things from me. I thought about all the times I’d needed protection as a child and it had never come.
“Yes, he told me,” she admitted. “And I never told your father or Aunt Linda about it because I didn’t want them to feel like Mitchell loved them any less because he didn’t share their blood. To your grandfather none of that mattered. Corbett and Linda were his babies and that was all that mattered to him, just as Hadley, Jason and you were his grandchildren.”
“Do you know how I can get a hold of Fintan?”
“He’s passed on, from what I’ve been told. His father, Niall, came to me shortly after your sixteenth birthday to see how things were going. Fintan died two summers after you were born. We had agreed that Fintan wouldn’t interfere with the way Mitchell and I raised our children. He came from time to time to see how the kids were doing, and he was elated when they were old enough to have children of their own.”
“So he never mentioned anything to you about the culture of his people? Nothing about how they came into existence?”
“No,” Gran said, looking at me suspiciously.
I looked to Eric, wondering what, exactly, I should tell her.
“Mrs. Stackhouse, the talisman that Sookie was given as part of her birth right has been god touched,” Eric said. “The talisman itself is only a symbol of the real gift that is attached to the necklace.”
“What gift is that?” Gran looked from Eric to me.
I let go of Eric’s hand and said, “It seems I’m a telepath now.”
Shut the front door.
“Are you sure, honey?” Gran asked.
I wonder if that dreamboat can read minds. I thought I read somewhere they can.
“No, Gran, Eric isn’t a mind reader,” I answered for her, and her jaw dropped. I looked to Eric and asked, “Actually, can you read minds? I never thought to ask.”
“No, I can’t read minds. There are some vampires bestowed with that gift, but they don’t usually last for too long because they can read other vampires, and you as you both know we’re secretive types.”
If he gets my Sookie killed I’ll stake him.
“Gran, you’ll do no such thing,” I turned to look at her.
“How long have you been able to do this?” Gran asked, completely ignoring my admonishment.
“Just since earlier this evening. I have no idea how to control or how to shut it down so I was hoping that you might know something about how to get a hold of someone,” I told her.
In the woods behind the house there is a door. Niall always said if I needed him I could wait for him there and he would find me.
I wanted to talk to Gran alone for a minute without Eric because it was obvious she would tell me more if he wasn’t around so I looked to Eric and asked, “Can you give us a minute alone, Eric?”
“Of course,” he said, and leaned over to kiss my forehead. “I’ll wait in the car for you. Mrs. Stackhouse, it was a pleasure to meet you. I hope to see you again.”
“Likewise, Mr. Northman,” Gran said.
Eric left the hotel room and closed the door behind him.
“Gran, did you know about vampires? Is that why you weren’t so surprised when I told you?” I asked her.
“There are a lot of things in this world that seem to go unexplained, Sookie. I always had my curiosities and Fintan was kind of enough to educate me on a lot of things. Vampires were one of them.”
“But you never met one until just now?”
“Not to my knowledge,” she said. With a knowing smile she added, “He’s a looker, Sookie.”
“Yes, he is,” I agreed. “And he is good to me. One of his friends is good at following scents which is what led us to Hadley. Why didn’t you call, Gran? I went looking all over Bon Temps. The sheriff’s got a BOLO out on your car and most of the town is probably ready to form a search party to check the woods for you.”
“I didn’t call because Hadley asked me not to, and because I was afraid that if I did she would take off running again. She’s in trouble with some bad people, Sookie, and I don’t want that baby of hers paying the price for her foolishness and bad judgment.”
I sighed heavily and said, “Gran, I know she’s family but she’s been nothing but trouble since Aunt Linda got sick.”
“You don’t give up on family, Sookie,” Gran said firmly.
“When I was a teenager and I had problems with friends you always told me it was important to know my limits, when to walk away and when to pick my battles and fight for someone,” I reminded her. “The people that Hadley got involved with, they’re scary bad people, Gran. I don’t want to get mixed up in her problems. I don’t want you to get involved her problems. I don’t want anyone to get hurt because they’re trying to make a point to Hadley.”
There was a part of me that wanted to go over Gran’s head and have Eric glamour her into going home. I loved Hadley, I really did, but I loved Gran more. What was Gran going to do? She couldn’t live in the hotel for the rest of her life, waiting for Hadley to give birth. Then what? Was she expecting Gran to raise the baby? There was a part of the puzzle I was missing, and I knew Gran was frustrated with me for wanting to just walk away from Hadley.
“I wasn’t there for her when she needed me after Linda died,” Gran said, and that was when I picked up on the guilt she was feeling.
The sight portion of my gift came into play when I saw Hadley through Gran’s eyes. Hadley was alone in the cemetery, kneeling beside a fresh grave. Hadley wasn’t crying, speaking or anything like that. She was just there, almost like an empty shell of the person she used to be. Rather than going over to comfort her, Gran had left her alone there in the cemetery. She didn’t leave because Gran didn’t want to comfort Hadley, but because she didn’t know how. She didn’t know what to say.
“Gran, you’re not responsible for Hadley’s decisions. She wasn’t a child when Aunt Linda died. She knew that drugs were bad and that was how she chose to cope. Now she’s bringing her own baby into all this mess. I’d like to help her too but there has to be a limit somewhere. At some point you’ve got to tell her she’s on her own or she’s always going to think that you’re going to clean up her mess every time she makes one.” I didn’t want to make Gran feel bad or guilty, but I wanted her to realize it was a mistake to get involved with Hadley.
I can’t give up.
I sighed, knowing that Gran was just as stubborn as I was. Something was going to have to happen in order for Gran to snap out of this.
“Will you please at least call me and let me know you’re okay? How long are you going to stay here?” I asked Gran when I was sure she wasn’t going to change her mind and come home.
I found that when I focused on her mind I could hear her a little more clearly. When I dug into her thoughts a little bit I found dark spots, like someone had wiped that piece of the slate clean. There was something not right about it but I thought maybe it was just because Gran was getting older. I had no way of knowing what belonged there, and for all I knew it was an old memory that time had naturally dulled.
“I’ll call, I promise,” Gran said.
“If you change your mind about Hadley just let me know. I’ll do what I can to get her out of your hair.” I stood up and went over to give Gran a hug.
I wanted to tell her about Callisto and give her the whole story but it wasn’t the time. Gran had enough stress on her at the moment and I didn’t want to make that worse.
“Where in the woods can I find that door?” I asked Gran as I hugged her.
“Between the two big oaks about a quarter mile northeast of the house,” she told me. “There’s a large knot in the tree on the right. Put your hand up to it but don’t press. Someone will come. They might not come right away, but someone will come.”
I nodded and let Gran go. I couldn’t believe I was leaving her there in the hotel, but at least I knew where she was.
“Don’t tell Jason I’m here. He’ll come to get me and he won’t take no for an answer,” Gran said.
That much was true and I knew it.
“I’ll let him know that I talked to you and that you’re safe,” I promised her. “Call me if you need anything, Gran. Do you need me to write down my cell number?”
She nodded and so I took the pad of paper out of the nightstand to write it down. On a whim, I wrote down Eric’s number for her as well.
“Gran, if you get into trouble and it’s after sunset I want you to call Eric. He’s faster, stronger and a whole bunch of other things that you’ll need if there’s a problem.” I handed her the slip of paper. “Put that someplace safe.”
“I will,” she promised, and to prove it she folded the paper and then tucked it into her shirt. That was safe enough.
Gran got up and walked me to the door. I hugged her one more time, my head swimming a little from all the thoughts. I needed to get somewhere silent and for just a little while I wanted forget about all of this mess. I could only think of one place to go.
“I love you, Gran,” I whispered and kissed her cheek as she said it back.
I gave her one last look goodbye, and then went to join Eric in the car.