Pam kept her senses alert, but relaxed a bit when she sensed that there was no one near—at least until she heard a familiar voice behind her.
“Good evening, Miss Ravenscroft. I hope I’m not intruding.”
Pam turned around slowly and looked at the speaker with suspicion. Right as she went to respond, her bond with Eric burst to life. He was still alive―though very weak―but he was calm. Strangely happy even.
The vampiress steadied herself and pulled out her sword again, “That’s Ms. Ravenscroft to you. And if you think you can come here and take Hunter away on my watch, you have another thing coming.” Under her breath, she mumbled, “Fucking fairies—fucking scent blocker.”
Niall put his hands up as if in surrender and chuckled, though his laugh betrayed his weariness. “You have no need for your sword, child of Eric. I have not come for the little one; he is Eric’s and Sookie’s.”
Pam narrowed her gaze. “What do you mean?”
The fairy shrugged as if the answer to Pam’s question was obvious. “He is not the child of their loins, but their hearts and minds belong to each other. When they were all together in the ‘in-between place,’ their connection was clear—very clear. Sookie will feel guilt because she will soon supplant Hadley in the child’s affections—if she has not already. But she will have to get over that and accept the truth of the matter. She is the child’s mother, just as young Eric is his father. They are a family.”
“Well—they’ve been waiting for her,” Pam offered stiffly.
Niall nodded, and his tone conveyed his sadness at that situation. “I suspect they have.” He smiled a little. “Claude has already gone to the house, but I wanted to see my Viola first.” Niall gestured toward her grave. “She calms me. After my visit with her, I had hoped that I would be welcome to wait for Eric and Sookie with you—with your people. I find that I am,” he paused, “very anxious now that it is beginning.”
Pam slowly lowered and then put away her sword. “It’s beginning?”
Niall nodded. “Sookie just left us—not ten minutes ago, and since we could no longer see what was happening, we came here. We know that if they survive, they will return to their home, so―may I stay?” Niall’s voice was conciliatory.
“And if they don’t?” Pam asked in an accusatory voice, her fingertips still touching her sword. “Will you take Hunter then?”
Niall shook his head in denial. “For now, let us not consider the possibility that my great-granddaughter and my,” he paused, “and Eric do not survive. But know this much—Hunter is loved by and loves many, and I believe that we—you and I—could come up with a way for him to keep contact with all if the worst happens.”
Pam gave him a sharp look. “Fine. You can stay and wait with us. But Hunter is asleep now, and I don’t want him woken up. And know this: If you try anything—anything at all—I’m gonna get my second taste of fairy blood. And I won’t stop at just a vial this time—like I did with your tasty little spawn.”
Having “overheard” the details of Claude’s bargain with Pam from his son’s mind when Sookie was listening to his thoughts, Niall chuckled heartily. “I will keep that in mind.”
She glared at him a little, but then turned back to her task.
Niall looked at the hole that she was kicking dirt into; he also noted the fresh vampire remains inside of it. The grave’s headstone read, “William Compton,” whom he knew had been killed more than a year before.
“An enemy?” he asked.
“Lillith,” Pam informed. “I assume you know about her.”
Niall questioned, “You have placed her with her vampire brother and lover, Mr. Compton?”
“She deserved some compassion, though I was not prepared to offer her mercy,” Pam said gruffly.
Niall nodded and gestured again toward Viola’s grave. “I will greet my wife and then return with you to the house—if that is agreeable with you.”
Pam returned Niall’s nod, but hers was curt. Both of them conducted the rest of their business in the graveyard in silence. But Pam was not blind to the fact that Niall seemed to be keeping an eye on her—as if he cared.
The very thought of that possibility made Pam work even faster to dispose of Lillith’s remains and to make sure that no trace of her was left behind.
She didn’t like the thought of the fairy actually caring about her, and one thing was for damned sure. She didn’t intend to care back.
A few minutes later, the unlikely pair had passed into the protection spell’s barriers. It had not escaped Niall’s notice that Pam was watching him like a hawk.
The fairy chuckled. “I will be on my best behavior, and if I’m not, the magic of this place will kick me out.”
Pam gestured for him to move toward the house. “You walk in front of me,” she said.
Niall’s chuckle became deeper. He liked young Eric’s child very much. She was amusing.
Pam walked a few steps behind Niall, keeping a close eye on him. To be honest, with Russell running amuck, the pragmatist in her was glad to have a couple of strong fairies on hand to help if need be, and Claude had proven himself to be trustworthy. Who knew what Russell would do if he was able to take out both Eric and Sookie? She concentrated on the bond again. It was the same as it had been before: Eric was weak—very weak—but alive and calm. And still happy. She wondered if Sookie’s presence was causing that. Maybe Russell had left and Sookie was tending to her maker’s wounds, but if that was so, then why would he still be so damned weak? Pam shook her head a little and pulled herself out of their bond. At least―she thought to herself―there was no new pain being thrust into the bond. She sighed out a mixture of relief and apprehension.
Pam’s sigh made Niall pause as he turned to look at her right before he ascended the porch steps. “You are well?”
Pam spoke a bit hesitantly, “She’s ready for this—right? I mean, did she complete her training with you?”
Niall exhaled. “I think so, but there was no time to make sure by testing her properly. But I do think so.”
Pam sighed again when she realized that Niall was trying to convince himself just as much as he was trying to convince her.
“What I do know,” Niall confessed, “is that I could not defeat a vampire such as Russell Edgington. And Eric has been,” he paused, “injured. But if Sookie is ready to meet her potential, then I believe that she and young Eric will prevail—together.”
“Did you see him in that pool thing that you fairies spy on us with?” Pam asked with some trepidation.
Niall nodded. “Yes—when Sookie was there with us, we were able to see.”
“And?” Pam asked nervously.
Niall stiffened. “And―I will keep that part of my mind forever closed to Hunter,” he paused, “and to Sookie if I can.” He sighed, “And to you, child. I will say only that your maker is a vampire of great strength in body and mind―but especially in spirit. In his place, I would have broken apart into fairy dust.”
Pam looked into Niall’s eyes. Her own were burning with a red tear that she wasn’t about to let drop in front of a fairy. “He’s the fucking bomb,” she said simply before climbing the steps of the porch and walking into the house.
Pam was—much to her chagrin—met at the door with a hug from Lafayette. A smiling Jessica was right behind him.
“I got your message,” Jessica said joyfully. In fact, Pam had been sending Jessica feelings of resolution and triumph through their bond to let her child know that she had disposed of the Lillith problem.
Pam awkwardly disentangled herself from Lafayette and took a step back. “Don’t do that again,” she said with a snarl that none of them really believed.
“Bi-atch please,” Lafayette said in an exaggerated way and with a roll of his eyes. “I’s just glad to see you’s skinny ass back in one piece.”
“As are we all,” Jesus added with a smile.
“It went well?” came Miranda’s voice from the side.
“Of course,” Pam responded, looking at Jessica. Pam pushed comfort to her child, and Jessica smiled appreciatively.
Niall stepped into the house with a bow. “Good evening. He nodded to Claude, who had just walked into the room with Duncan, who was holding a still-wide-awake Godric against his chest.
“Hey Gramps,” Jason said coming forward and patting Niall on the back affectionately. “Long time no see!” He grabbed Jessica’s hand and pulled her over to him. His pride in his beloved was clear from his puffed out chest. Jessica bit her lip a little nervously as she took in Jason’s great-grandfather.
“You didn’t get to meet Jessica last time, did you?” Jason asked. “And hey, you really should ‘cause I’m gonna marry her!”
“Jason!” Jessica burst out. “You were supposed to wait before you said anything!” She looked around anxiously. “We were gonna wait until things had gone back to normal.”
Jason looked at his apparent fiancé sheepishly, “Oh yeah. Sorry, sweetie.”
Pam’s fangs clicked down, “Jessica, what the F-U-C-K is going on?”
Jessica shifted a little nervously and her voice was quiet, “Well, night before last―a few hours before you called to warn us to stay put―Jason asked me to marry him.” She smiled at Jason shyly, “and I said yes, but we’re gonna wait for a while.”
“But she said yes!” Jason said triumphantly, as he slapped Niall on the back again.
Pam thrust out her hand toward Jessica. “Ring,” she said insistently. Her fangs were still down.
Shakily, Jessica drew a long chain from around her neck, and on it was a very pretty―though modest-sized—diamond ring. Jessica unfastened the necklace and then took the ring off before handing it to her adoptive maker.
Pam eyed the ring like a jeweler would. “Nice clarity. Half a carat. Princess cut—a decent color. Is it Tiffany?” Pam asked in disbelief, recognizing the ring from the last catalogue she’d received. It had been on sale, but it had still been lovely.
Jason nodded. “That’s where Sook said hers from Eric came from, so I knew those rings had to be good. I could’ve got somethin’ bigger somewhere else, but this one seemed to be somethin’ Jess would like more.”
“Good,” Pam said as if by judging the ring positively, she was also approving of the engagement. Her fangs retracted as she spoke to Jason as a lecturer might. “You must always buy quality jewelry, Stackhouse. It is an investment. You do not want a shitty diamond, for Jessica is immortal, and we don’t want things falling apart on her!” Pam handed the ring back to Jessica and looked at her expectantly.
Jessica smiled a huge smile and then put the ring onto her finger. At that point, there was a collective sigh of relief in the room as everyone realized that Pam was not going to drain Jason. Congratulations were then spread out to Jason and Jessica.
Jason accepted them all happily for a moment—until a sudden thought seemed to hit him. He looked at Claude and then Niall, “Wait! If y’all are here, then that means that Sookie’s tryin’ to rescue Eric right now—right?”
Niall nodded in confirmation as Pam rolled her eyes and tried to ignore the fact that Jason had been the last one in the room to grasp the obvious. Hell, even the slobbering Godric seemed to know what was going on before Jason. Pam steeled herself. At least the boy loved Jessica, and she could feel that her own child was crazy about him too.
As Jason realized that Sookie was in immediate danger, his worry clouded his face, and Jessica moved to retake her fiancé’s hand. “She’ll be okay, honey,” the redhead comforted.
“Yes, they will both be fine,” Pam said insistently. “I have the bond back, and though he’s weak, he is calm, and something—or someone—is comforting him.” She looked around the room pointedly.
Jesus smiled in relief as he grasped Lafayette’s hand. “Sookie’s with him.”
Pam shrugged. “That’d be my guess. All I can say for sure is that he’s not being hurt right now, but he was hurt badly earlier—if his current weakness is any indication.” She paused. “Now—I have mud and Lillith on me, so I’m gonna go shower.”
Pam zipped into the bathroom attached to the first-floor bedroom. She cleaned her sword and then her body. As she quickly dressed, she checked her bond with Eric. He felt a little stronger to her. She smiled and went to rejoin the others.
The group had settled into the living room, everyone sitting down and gearing up for a long wait. Lafayette handed her a blood, which Pam accepted with a nod. Then she also sat down.
A nervous silence filled the air.
After a few minutes, Pam spoke harshly to Lafayette. “What is it? You’re staring at me. I demand to know why this instant!”
Lafayette let out a little chortle. “Hooker, I thinks you’s hair’s crooked.”
“What do you mean?” Pam asked, immediately lifting up a hand to run it through her blond tresses.
Studying Pam, Tara tilted her head. “Hey, Laf, I think you’re right.”
Pam stood up, feeling her hair again. “Fuck!” she exclaimed. “I knew I should have worn it up tonight. Fuck!”
Miranda gave her a warning growl.
“What is it?” Jessica asked, the concern clear in her voice.
“That bitch cut my hair! If I hadn’t already ended her, I would, fu—.”
Miranda growled a little louder and cut Pam off before she could complete her thought.
Pam rolled her eyes. “I mean F-U-C-K and B-I-T-C-H, and what’s he still doin’ up anyway? I don’t like havin’ to spell!” She pointed toward a very amused Godric, who was now bouncing in Duncan’s arms and looking very pleased with himself.
Miranda glared at her. “He’s teething. Plus, he senses that something is going on. And you know the rule about cursing when he’s in the room. And,” she added dramatically as a smirk spread across her lips, “at least his hair’s not crooked.”
Pam scoffed as she thought about the details of her fight with Lillith. “Ugh. It must have happened when I made that turn,” she said angrily.
By this time, Miranda had started snickering, and soon everyone was joining in on the laughter, except for Pam, and―strangely enough―Lafayette.
“Damn it,” the vampiress said. “Don’t fucking laugh. Do you know how long it takes vampires to grow hair?”
Miranda glared at her again.
“Fine!” Pam said with frustration. “No more F-bombs with the tiny Were in the room. But dammit—it does taken an ‘F’-in long time to grow!”
Everyone broke out into louder laughter with a gurgling Godric leading the charge.
Lafayette stood up and settled everyone down with a harsh tone that was not usual for him, “Don’t go laughin’ ‘bout hair, now. This kinda thing’s serious.” He looked at Pam sympathetically.
“Eric will never let me hear the end of this,” Pam lamented.
“Ain’t no one here gonna tell him,” Lafayette said. “Right?” he added, looking pointedly around the room, before his eyes settled onto Miranda, who stopped her chuckling long enough to nod.
Lafayette looked back at Pam, who was still feeling her hair. He spoke in a comforting voice, “It’s just a little chunk. I’s can work in a little layerin’ throughout if you’s wants, and we’ll get it taken care of lickety split. It’ll look good and be very trendy, Bi-at-chhh,” he said, exaggerating the curse word. Lafayette had become extremely creative in his cursing so that he wouldn’t also incur the wrath Miranda.
Pam looked at Lafayette with some trepidation but then nodded. She glared at the rest of the group, and then she and Lafayette went into the kitchen, where he sat her down in a chair. He got some scissors, a comb, a towel, and a brush from the bathroom.
“Do you even know what you’re doin’?” Pam asked a bit harshly as he came back in.
“Bitch, who you think cuts Sook’s hair, and Amelia’s, and Jesus’s, and Miranda’s, and Luna’s, and Jarod’s, and Tara’s. Now if I’s can deal with a black girl’s hair and that crazy-ass mop on Jarod’s head—I mean, whoever heard of four cowlicks on the same head!—your pretty tresses is gonna be a piece of cake.”
Pam settled back into the chair as Lafayette began combing through her still-damp hair.
“This ain’t bad at all,” he said as he got to the part that had been chopped by Lillith. “I hardly noticed it myself, and I’s is a professional.”
Pam nodded; her demeanor almost conveying gratefulness.
Lafayette picked up a spray bottle in the kitchen and wet Pam’s hair a little more. He took a deep breath. “I know you’s don’t talk ‘bout shit, but I’m gonna ask, and if you wants me to shut the fuck up, just tell me to shut the fuck up―okay?”
Pam nodded again.
“I knows you gots to be feelin’ a little worried now that the bond’s open again. And I’ve been seein’ Jess look at you all concerned-like since you got back, and it ain’t just ‘cause that fool finally asked her to marry him,” Lafayette said as he picked up the scissors. “I’ll just make a few layers all around so everything blends, okay? The overall length will stay the same.”
“Okay,” Pam said. After a few moments, she responded to his earlier question in a quiet tone. “Yes—it is worrisome to feel that he is so weak.”
Lafayette sighed as he began cutting. “Bad?”
“Yes,” Pam said in a whisper. “He must have been hurt very badly tonight.”
“Worse than last night?”
Pam stiffened. “I don’t know. I think so.”
“Sorry, hooker,” Lafayette said in a soothing voice. After a minute or so of silence, he spoke again. “When that Claudette bitch shut down Eric and Sook’s bond, I used to see Jess tearing up a lot, and Eric was obviously in the shit. Hell, he was a fuckin’ zombie most of the time when Hunt wasn’t ‘round! So that meant you were in the shit too ‘cause you could feel him, and I think Jessica could feel you. And,” Lafayette paused, “well, I’s gets worried ‘bout you too sometimes—that’s all.” He added quickly, “Don’t fret though. I still knows you a badass motha fucka.”
“That’s fuckin’ right,” Pam said quickly, though still quietly. She added, “I can tell it’s bad. A lot of,” she paused, “physical pain has been inflicted, and Russell is a sadistic bastard. And,” she paused again, her voice becoming almost inaudible to Lafayette, “very strong. I worry about him.”
Lafayette sighed, “I was thinkin’ that’s how it must be.” Feeling Pam stiffen again, Lafayette decided to take the focus of the conversation off of her, “Jesus is real worried ‘bout Eric. I mean―I am too, but Jesus thinks of that motha fucka like a brother, and even though it’s kinda fucked up, I guess it makes sense. Apparently, vampires and demons gots this kinda cooperation thing goin’ on.”
“I know,” Pam said, better able to deal with the topic now that it wasn’t focused on her own feelings. “Eric told me about what Jesus said the night after the attack by Quinn and de Castro’s people, and he was,” Pam paused again, “pleased with the brujo’s words.” She scoffed, though Lafayette could tell that she was not really disgusted. “Since Sookie, Eric’s suddenly getting all this family, and he can’t even settle on a fuckin’ species to take it from either!” She sighed and after a few minutes added, “But it suits him.”
Lafayette chuckled a bit before adding seriously, “Suits you too.”
“Not that I’d say that in mixed company,” he assured.
“Don’t say it at all,” she warned.
“Gotcha, Bitch,” Lafayette said with a little smile in his voice before his tone turned more serious. “So you’s doin’ okay?”
Pam didn’t answer, and Lafayette didn’t push. After a few minutes of silence, he said, “Okay, you’s done and as good as new—better even, if I do say so myself.”
Pam got up silently and turned to him. She gave him the tiniest of bows before zipping into the bathroom to check for herself. While she was there, she allowed the tear she’d been holding in to slip out as well.
Her moment was interrupted when she heard a surprised shriek from Lafayette in the kitchen, “Sookie!”