“Eric, there’s something I have to tell you,” Sookie said quietly, but couldn’t bring herself to look at him. “While you were stilled, Claudine told me something about you…”
“Go on,” he urged when Sookie trailed off.
“She told me to ask you about your family before you were turned,” Sookie started.
“What about them?” Eric asked.
“It’s complicated and I don’t fully understand it myself, but from what she told me when I gave you my blood that morning to test it and find out how long you would be safe in the sunlight, I gave you some of my fairy light when I did that. What I didn’t know was that when I did it, I was choosing you as my mate,” Sookie told him, and she didn’t need to be fully bonded to see the surprise on his face. “But that also means that if I was able to take you as a mate, that you have fairy in you somewhere.”
That really got him.
“I’m not fae,” he said.
“Claudine says you are. She says the mating couldn’t have occurred without it. She said you aren’t full fae, but a hybrid like me, which is why she asked me to ask you about your parents,” she said.
Eric’s mind reeled back through time and the faces of his parents came into focus. His mother’s face and her ethereal beauty that never seemed to fade with the years that had passed glowed behind his eyes. Her silky blonde hair, always so intricately braided as if it had been styled by Frigg herself; he remembered the scent of berries and herbs that had been mixed into her soaps, and how he sought out that combination of smells for centuries after she passed. He recalled the softness of her skin, and how in spite of countless hours out in the sunshine, she never got wrinkles like the other women in their village.
Eric could clearly recall her being round and heavy with his sister. Well into his teen years by that point, his mother had been approaching the age of forty when she had birthed her last baby. It wasn’t unheard of for women that age to deliver a child, but it was unusual for both the mother and child to survive the process. His sister had come into the world with a strong pair of lungs and a cap of blonde hair.
In fact, all of Eric’s siblings had the same blonde hair as their mother. His father had been old and weathered for as long as Eric could remember. Even when he was a young child, his father’s hair had been salt and pepper. His eyes had always been tired, but full of fight and wisdom. The more Eric thought about it, the more he realized he shared very few physical features with his father. Even his mother had been taller than most women in the village.
Even by the modern day’s standards, she would be considered a knockout. His father, on the other hand, would be just any other old man. Eric snapped back to the present but to him, regardless of his genetics, his father would always be his father.
“We could talk to Lafayette,” Sookie suggested. “Maybe there’s a way he could get in contact with them.”
The prospect of speaking to either of his parents again after so long… Eric wasn’t sure how he felt about that. He supposed it was possible that his mother had been part fairy, but he didn’t know it for sure, nor did he know if she had even known it. Even then there had been myths and legends handed down, many of them in the Sagas he had been raised with. He was old enough, and had seen enough, to know better than to count out any possibility. That extended to the idea that he could very well be part fairy.
“So the fairies recognize me as your mate?” Eric asked and Sookie nodded. “That would explain a lot…” he said rather numbly.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“I’m a vampire, Sookie. We are natural enemies to fairies because their light is addictive to my kind,” he told her.
“But you don’t have the same trouble controlling yourself when you feed from me that others do,” she said as the pieces slid into place for both of them.
“Claudine released me from the silver. If she believed me to be a threat to you she wouldn’t have done that,” Eric said in a dumbfounded kind of way.
This was all news to both of them, but to Eric it explained quite a bit. Fairies were quick to defend their kin, and he had no doubt that even though Sookie was a hybrid her family would come to her aid if she was in danger. The pendant around her neck and all of the recent visits from Claudine were proof enough that she was being watched over. Back before the fairies sealed themselves off in their own world to preserve their numbers they had mixed in with the humans. In his time Eric was personally responsible for the deaths of three fairies, yet no harm had come to him like it had others.
If it was true that he was part fae, and it certainly started to seem as though that might be the case, the questions he’d long had about why he had gone unscathed by those encounters were answered. It was almost like having dual citizenship in two different countries. The vampire in him was much stronger than whatever fairy might be there, but it was the trace of fae that had saved his undead life. And now, it seemed, he was mated to Sookie by fairy standards.
He explained all of this to Sookie and he felt her struggling to keep up with him. She understood his line of thinking, and she listened intently while he talked of his dealings with fairies over the course of his life. His knowledge of her kind was limited because they were so secretive of their ways, but he had mentioned this before to her.
“The letters!” Eric suddenly said.
“What letters?” Sookie asked.
“The letters your grandmother wrote. When you were abducted from the penthouse the letters were taken as well. I saw them scattered in the apartment and relocated them in the car. I think it’s time you read them and see what your grandmother had to say,” Eric told her, and Sookie nodded her agreement.
He pulled the letters from the inner pocket of his leather jacket and handed them to Sookie. Since there were no postmarks on any of them it was hard to tell which was the first without sifting through them and checking them for date marks somewhere. She supposed it didn’t really matter, and maybe after reading all of them she would be able to piece together the order they belonged in. Assuming the chronology was even important.
She pulled one from its envelope, unfolded it and began to read aloud.
I apologize in the lapse since my last letter. Time moves so much more quickly here than it does in your world. In the blink of an eye here a full day as passed for you. I trust that all is well, or I would have heard otherwise long ago. I crossed over just last week to check in on Corbett and Linda, and I was delighted to learn of Corbett’s marriage and the impending birth of his first child.
Niall was thrilled as well, and has every intention of coming to check the child after he is born to see if he has been given the spark. Of course we will make proper arrangements prior to the visit so as not to scare Corbett and Michele.
How is Earl doing? I’m writing this at the table in your yard, as you aren’t here for me to visit with. I hope that all is well for you, and that you are continuing to take good care of him. He needs a strong defender like you in his corner. Love him well, as you always have. It’s a shame you aren’t fae, or a bond like yours would one to be matched for the ages. I must go now, but I hope to find a letter from you soon.
Take care of yourself,
“My parents didn’t know anything about this,” Sookie said as she scanned the letter one more time, and then handed the paper to Eric. “I would have heard my mother thinking about it at some point. She was always a really clear broadcaster, so if she had known about the fairies I would have heard it.”
She pulled another letter from its envelope and started to read aloud again.
It has been a while since your last visit. Jason is doing very well. Just last week he discovered his first little girlfriend. Her name is Annabelle and she has the most outrageous red curly hair you’ve ever seen. Jason adores her. Every time he sees her he kisses her cheek and picks a flower for her. He’s a little charmer, that one.
Sookie’s second birthday just passed. She’s talking quite a bit now. Her vocabulary is impressive, but I worry that she’s got Earl’s abilities. Sometimes she watches grown-ups as they talk, and it’s obvious she’s confused by something. She’s been answering questions that no one asks just like Earl did when he was young before he learned to control it. Michele hasn’t said so to me, but I know it makes her uncomfortable. If it’s true that Sookie has the same ability that Earl does I need for you to tell me how to help her manage it. I don’t want her to struggle the same way her grandfather has with his ability. I want Sookie to be normal, or at least as normal as she can be with a gift like this. I don’t want her to grow up feeling like she has no place in the world.
I have to go now. Earl’s just come home and I need to see to supper.
You take care now.
“Gran new,” Sookie said, her eyes filling with tears. “Gran new I was different before anyone else did. She knew, and she tried to help me.”
Sookie set the letter down and allowed herself to sob for a few minutes before pulling herself back together. She thought about the way her mother had treated her as a child, like she was a pariah of some kind, or something to be feared. Her mother’s thoughts got to be pretty ugly sometimes, and even though Michele didn’t want to believe her baby girl could read her thoughts, she was always telling herself not to think about certain things when Sookie was around. Of course that always meant she thought about them more.
Having a loud broadcaster for a mother didn’t make things any easier on Sookie. She didn’t like being privy to her parents’ marital problems or financial troubles. Nor did she like seeing some of the things she saw in their heads. Like why did her father often imagine himself with another woman that wasn’t her mother? Why did her mother think about living a life without her children on a beach somewhere tropical? As a small child it was confusing to see or hear things like that and not understand that they didn’t necessarily mean anything.
Everyone has passing fantasies or thoughts with absolutely no intention of following through on the things that cross their mind. Random thoughts filled with anger didn’t necessarily make a person dangerous, regardless of how many times they might think they want to kill someone who irritates them. It took time to learn those things, though.
Sookie read through the rest of the letters that Eric had collected, all of them verifying the fact that Sookie was indeed part fairy. It turned out that fairies had been popping in and out of Sookie’s life from the time she was born. She started to remember dreams she used to have of a little girl with dark, curly hair with bright green eyes. Was it possible that Claudine had always been a part of her life? Sookie was going to have to ask the next time they saw one another.
All of a sudden Eric let loose a curse in another language as he read one of the letters, and Sookie turned her head to look at him. His muscles were tense and his fangs were extended. Something he’d just read pissed him off.
“What? What’d you find?” Sookie asked, and Eric handed over the letter.
I need your help. Earl has gone missing, and I’m afraid he’s been taken. It isn’t like him to just disappear. The sheriff is saying that he probably ran off with another woman, but we both know how devoted Earl is to his family. He wouldn’t leave me, and he certainly wouldn’t leave the kids now that Corbett and Michele are gone. He adores his grandbabies, especially little Sookie. They talk for hours, mind to mind. I think it’s safe to say that Earl is her best friend right now, and he’s gone. I don’t know what to do, Fintan. I don’t know where to look for him.
Is it possible he crossed over to your side? If he has, please just leave word with me so that I know to stop looking for him. I’ll figure out what to tell the kids, but I won’t tell them that their grandpa ran off with some floozie because Bud Dearborn is too lazy to get off his keester and look around a little more.
Anything you can tell me, I would appreciate.
There was a second letter on the next page and Sookie found it curious that Gran had put the two letters together, but read on anyway.
I regret to inform you that Earl is here. He has crossed over to our final resting place. He was accosted by a redheaded female vampire. He has been with us for several weeks now. Had I known his death was of mysterious circumstances I would have made myself available to you sooner. Without being too graphic in detail, Earl was drained by the vampire, and this news is very unsettling to Queen Mab, who has be contemplating cutting off contact with the earth realm for centuries. I fear a day may come when she might try to round up all of the hybrids to bring them over where they will be safe. We have seen the future, Adele, and the vampires will not remain in darkness forever.
Keep a close eye on Sookie. When the vampires reveal themselves she will become a fast target for them. Should the need arise, contact me directly and I will personally usher her to the other side until such time as the danger has passed. In the meantime, Claudine is keeping a good watch over her. Again, my deepest sympathies in regards to Earl.
I’ll pass along your love to him.