A/N: This “INNER-Lude” comes chronologically after chapter 23 of From the Inside Out.
“But we don’t wanna grow up!” Charlaine—or Charl, as we thought of her—told our daddy as he asked us to go to bed for what seemed to be the millionth time during the past day and night.
“But you can’t stay awake forever,” he said in his gruff voice—a voice that somehow sounded like music to me. Maybe that was because I could read from his thoughts just how much he loved my sisters and me.
“We know, Daddy,” Braelyn—or Brae—said, acknowledging the truth that sleep would eventually win out, no matter how stubborn we were. But that didn’t mean we were willing to be its easy conquests.
Simply put, we knew that—as soon as we slept—we would grow up more. And, currently, only Danika—or Danny—was in favor of us doing that. She was anxious to grow up, but Char, Brae, and I weren’t convinced. And majority ruled, so Danny had to deal with it.
Daddy sighed and mumbled about our stubbornness as he left our room, but I knew that a part of him was really grateful that we were trying to stay “his little girls.” I could tell from his thoughts that he hadn’t been expecting to have us, but now he was glad that we were his kids—very glad. In fact, he was the reason why my vote was still to try to stay awake.
And—once Charl had discovered Red Bull? Well—all bets were off! That stuff was like a magical formula for energy! And, with it, we intended to stay kids for at least a few more days! Plus, that would also give Sookie and Eric’s babies a chance to catch up with us a little.
I smiled as I thought of my baby. Though not as vocal about claiming him as Danny had been about claiming hers, I’d felt my baby’s spirt as if he were yelling at my own. And—when Holly had read us the story of “Sleeping Beauty” the night before, I couldn’t help but to think that I’d already discovered my prince.
Not that I was really like the princess in the story. There was no way I intended to sleep through my life!
Speaking of which, I pushed my hand against Brae, making sure that she was good and awake.
“What?” she asked grumpily.
“Let’s get more Red Bull,” Danny suggested, for—though she was against us staying awake—she was still our leader and had accepted the group decision without argument.
Daddy was drinking coffee at the kitchen table as we skipped in and grabbed our beverages.
“I’m still not sure little girls should be drinkin’ those,” he grumbled under his breath, even as he stood up. “Y’all want pancakes?”
“With chocolate chips!” Brae grinned.
Daddy chuckled and lifted her up into his arm. “How else would I make them, princess?”
Brae giggled as Daddy darted kisses over her cheeks before setting her down.
I grinned at them both. I couldn’t rightly explain how I felt older than a human child—even one who “looked” my age. But I did. I also “felt” older than my sisters for some reason, and I appreciated the moments like the one I was in the middle of—with Daddy looking so happy and my sisters all smiling up at him.
I found that I was able to notice little things that my sisters seemed to miss—like how Daddy knew that Brae and Danny preferred sausage, while Charl preferred bacon. And he knew that I didn’t really like either one, which was why he would make sure I had extra pancakes.
I guess those were just the kinds of things that daddies knew, but I couldn’t help but to be grateful that my own daddy seemed to be learning things faster than other daddies would have. I guess he had to since we were growing up so fast.
Maybe that’s why most of my sisters and I wanted to put the brakes on as far as our growing went.
I understood the fact that my sisters and I were very different from human kids in a way that my sisters didn’t really think about. But that was okay. I figured that noticing things like that was my role among my siblings, and—as soon as Daddy had finished plating our food—I entwined my arms around his waist.
“Love you, Daddy,” I said, starting off a round of more “I love you’s” from my sisters as they began eating.
Daddy smiled brightly, and I knew I’d done my job as I jumped up onto my seat and began eating my own breakfast.
Unfortunately, Daddy had to go to work after breakfast, and Aunt Portia was our babysitter again—since everyone else seemed to be working.
She walked into the kitchen and gave us her “normal” look—which spoke volumes about just how “abnormal” she thought we all were.
“Do you think we could glamour her?” Brae asked me telepathically. She and I were definitely the stronger telepaths among our sisters, and we had learned that we could “speak” to just one another if we focused our thoughts.
“Vampires are the only ones who can glamour though—right?” I asked back.
“I don’t know,” Brae returned contemplatively. And then she unfocused her telepathy so that she included Charl and Danny in her projected thoughts, too. “Hey, do you think fairies can glamour people?”
Why she’d not just included them to begin with was initially a mystery to me, but then I thought about it for a minute. And then I realized that Brae thought differently from the rest of us. She was shyer—more humble. And I recognized in that moment that she liked running things by me first because she trusted me not to make fun of her. I felt honored to have that trust.
Not being as good at projecting thoughts, Charl shrugged and spoke aloud in response to Brae’s question, “I don’t know, but it’d be nice!” Of course, the fact that Charl seemed to speak randomly caused Aunt Portia to look at her funny.
“Hey, Danny?” I projected. “You’re the one who can tell what people’s gifts are. What about it? Can fairies glamour people?”
Danny looked to be thinking really hard, and I put myself into her head so that I could hear her. I could tell that Brae and Charl were in her head, too.
Danny seemed to be shuffling through the things we’d learned from Claude the night before about fairy powers. And she was also thinking about how she’d known about Sookie’s babies’ gifts; the knowledge had just seemed to pop into her head. She looked at me, Charl, and Brae closely. Unfortunately, however, she couldn’t pick up any signs that any of us had the ability to glamour anyone.
“Sorry,” she thought.
“We’ll just stun her if she’s mean to us,” I spoke up into the others’ heads as Daddy finished his breakfast and stood up.
“Can I get some hugs before I go to work?” he asked.
My sisters and I all grinned as we surrounded him and hugged him tight.
“I’ll be back around 5:00 p.m.,” he promised before bending down to give us each a kiss on the forehead. “You’re gonna try to stay up until then—right?” he asked hopefully.
“Yes, Daddy!” my sisters and I chorused.
Aunt Portia looked as if Daddy’s words were somehow frustrating to her. “I’m going to the library to read,” she huffed as she exited the room.
“Do we really have to have her here?” Charl asked.
Daddy nodded. “Y’all are the ones tryin’ to stay kids,” he chuckled before kissing us all again and then moving toward the door. “Y’all be good—okay?”
“Yes, Daddy,” we chimed innocently.
As soon as he was gone, however, we smiled at each other wickedly. “Addy is right,” Danny said. “If she messes with us, Brae and I will stun her.”
“Why can’t I do it?” Charl complained.
Danny rolled her eyes. “‘Cause your light’s different, and Daddy’d be real mad if we killed Aunt Portia!”
Charl pouted. “I guess you’re right.”
“I don’t get to do it either,” I said, trying to make Charl feel better. Having light that came out green apparently meant that I was a healer or something! Frankly, I would have preferred white light like Brae and Danny. Stunning Aunt Portia had been my idea—after all.
But I’d already figured out that things didn’t always happen the way I wanted them to.
THREE HOURS LATER
The sun was well up in the sky when Charl suggested that we go play outside in the old treehouse that had been built by Daddy and Uncle Terry.
Everyone in agreement, we ran down the stairs.
Of course, that also happened to be when Aunt Portia stepped out of the library for the first time that day.
“Where are you four going?” she asked haughtily as we came to a screeching halt in front of the front door.
“Treehouse,” Danny answered somewhat defiantly.
“You didn’t get my permission to leave the house,” Aunt Portia said through narrowed eyes.
I scoffed. “You don’t care about what we do anyway.”
“And you want us out of your hair,” Brae said—though somewhat timidly—having read the thought from Aunt Portia’s head.
The woman scoffed. “You four are to go upstairs immediately and take a nap! Why your father allows you to run wild is beyond me, but it stops now!”
Danny and Brae exchanged a look, even as I yelled, “Hit her!” into their heads.
Charl yelled, “Do it,” out loud.
The next thing I knew, both Brae and Danny had shot their light at Aunt Portia, and she hit the ground.
“She isn’t dead—is she?” Brae asked nervously.
I shook my head as I saw her chest rise and fall. “Nope, but I reckon she’ll be out for a while.”
“You think Daddy’s gonna be mad at us?” Charl asked.
“Oh—yeah!” Danny said with a shrug.
“But it was worth it,” I added.
My sisters and I giggled as we went outside and skipped toward the treehouse.
Not surprisingly, Danny led the charge up the treehouse ladder. Charl followed, but I stayed back since Brae was scared of heights. I offered to teleport her up, but she merely shook her head and—with a determined look—climbed the ladder herself.
I felt proud of her as I followed.
I didn’t know exactly how we were like or unlike other young girls as we giggled through a discussion of boys—with Danny and me fawning over two who hadn’t even been born yet. Gratefully, neither of our sisters seemed to have any interest in the Northman boys. Charl said that she’d settle for no one less that Prince Harry.
Whoever that was.
Meanwhile, Brae just giggled as the rest of us went on and on about our chosen mates.
We’d wiled away at least an hour before we decided that we should get some snacks. Since Danny and I were the ones who could teleport, we were elected to go and get them, but that was okay. I needed to use the bathroom anyway!
Danny and I popped into the kitchen, and she started making us sandwiches as I skipped toward the nearest bathroom. I had to step over Aunt Portia on the way and was pleased to see that she was still “asleep.” I did my business in the bathroom, making sure that my thoughts were shut off from my sisters as I did.
There were already some things that I didn’t care to share with them. And “going number 2” was definitely one of them!
After I was done, I carefully washed my hands as Daddy had taught and stepped back over Aunt Portia before making my way back to the kitchen.
And that was when I opened up my mind to my sisters again.
I screamed as I heard them screaming in my head!
And then I teleported to them.
I was the smallest of my siblings—by a few inches. I’d heard Aunt Portia call me “the runt of the litter” in her head. And I knew that wasn’t a positive description.
But maybe my diminutive size was why all my sisters were more protective of me.
I did know that they were all more outgoing with others than I was. And—somehow—I felt like they were all more special too. My telepathy was good, but I felt that Addy’s was better. I had white light, but Danny’s was stronger. And Addy and Charl both had different kinds of light than I did—with Addy’s being green and Charl’s reddish.
Danny was so fearless! And Addy was so smart! And Charl was so happy with herself!
I suppose I should have been jealous of them all in some ways, but I loved them too much for that.
Addy and Danny had gone inside for snacks, and Charl decided that we should go swing on the tire hanging from the treehouse. I hated going down the ladder since I was scared that I might fall, but seeing Charl do it so quickly gave me the confidence I needed to scramble down to the ground as well.
Charl had insisted that I take the first turn on the swing, and she was pushing me as high as she could.
When I heard him.
The sound of his thoughts was scarier than anything I’d ever imagined—anything I’d thought possible.
And—in that moment—I learned what evil was.
“Run!” I yelled to Charl, even as I jumped from the swing. I landed on my hands and knees and felt the pain of skinning them for the first time in my life, but I immediately got up and took off for the house, even as a confused Charl followed me. Her telepathy couldn’t stretch out like mine could, so that was how I’d “heard” the evil in the woods when she hadn’t.
But, still, she trusted me enough to run with me.
But it turned out that evil was much faster than Charl and me.
It had caught up to us before we could make it half-way to the house.
And it came in the shape of a handsome man who seemed to appear before us on the breeze.
“Hey there, little fairies,” he said in a tone that sent chills through my spine.
Charl immediately stepped in front of me—obviously in a protective mode.
“Don’t come any closer!” she ordered bravely.
The man looked at us with amusement. “This is going to be fun,” he said before speeding to Charl.
Her red light fired, but he was too quick for her. Her light hit the bush that had been behind him—rather than Warlow.
He grabbed her, and her legs dangled in the air as he bit into her neck. Her scream filled the air, and only a moment later, I heard two “pops.”
One was Danny teleporting to us.
The other was the snap of Charl’s neck breaking.
Danny was wide-eyed as she took in the predator who had our sister in his grasp.
His fangs were down and bloody.
“Vampire,” Danny whimpered.
I knew that her identification was true, even though it was daytime.
Danny ran toward me and we both raised our hands to fire white light at the man who now held the limp body of Charl in his hands. But he didn’t let her go, despite the fact that he staggered back a few steps when our light struck him.
Addy appeared in the next second, looking stunned as she took in what was happening.
And that was when the vampire threw Charl to the ground before zipping toward me.
I felt white-hot pain seer through my body as he bit into my neck.
I tried to kick him with my dangling feet, but failed. And I was sure that I was going to die.
“Run!” I yelled again—this time to Danny and Addy. I prayed that they could get away, even as I somehow called upon the last of my strength to grip the arm of the evil vampire who was feeding from my frail body. I sent all of the light I could into him.
But then I had no strength left inside of me, and the world went black.
I was surprised when I woke up.
Surprised to still be alive.
“Oh, my God!” I heard. It was Danny’s voice. “She’s dying!”
I couldn’t open my eyes, and my whole body was cold.
“She’s alive,” I heard Addy say.
“Charl!” Danny yelled. “We have to go back out and get her!”
“No,” I choked out, somehow finding the strength to speak. “She’s gone,” I whimpered.
I knew that she was. I’d heard the snap of her neck. I’d seen her fixed eyes.
And I instinctively knew what death looked like.
Charl had stepped in between our attacker and me; she’d bravely tried to save us. But he’d been quicker, and he’d killed her!
I managed to get my eyes open and saw the tear-streaked faces of Danny and Addy.
I felt myself shivering.
“She’s dying,” Danny repeated fearfully as she looked at me.
And I knew that she was right. I was dying—bleeding to death.
“No!” Addy yelled, even as a greenish light filled the air. I felt warmer after that and then stronger.
I looked around and could tell that we were in the foyer to the house, and I speculated that my light had stunned Warlow so that Addy and Danny could teleport us all inside. I heard a banging at the door and somehow knew it was the predator who’d been after us.
“Warlow,” I muttered.
“He can’t get in!” Danny yelled. “If he really is a vampire, he can’t get in!”
“But he’s outside during the day,” I heard Addy say, though she sounded tired. I wondered if she’d been hurt too as more warmth filled me and the green light around me became darker.
“Stop, Addy, before you hurt yourself!” I heard Danny cry out.
“But she was almost drained,” Addy said back, though she sounded even weaker.
And that’s when I realized that she was using her healing light to save me.
Feeling stronger, I sat up even as Addy fainted to the floor.
“Addy!” I yelled out as there was more banging at the door and then at the side of the house.
I stretched out my telepathy and “found” Warlow. I focused on him and “heard” that he couldn’t come into the house without an invitation, but he could still tear it down.
“I can smell you in there, little fairies,” he said menacingly. “Come out, or I shall blow your house down!”
I looked at Danny and suddenly had an idea. We’d all been to Daddy’s workplace.
“Teleport us to Daddy,” I sent Danny telepathically, focusing the thought only to her.
Danny’s eyes widened as she nodded in understanding.
I glanced toward Aunt Portia. “Her first,” I sent to Danny.
Though she frowned, Danny nodded and then ran to Aunt Portia. Within seconds, they were gone. And then seconds later, she was back.
“I think I can take you both at once,” Danny thought toward me.
I nodded, even as I felt the impact of a large object against our house. It was Daddy’s pickup truck and it smashed a hole into the wall not far from where we were crouched down.
The evil Warlow immediately peered at us through the opening.
“I might not be able to get to you yet, but there are so many more things to throw,” he grinned before hefting Charl’s dead body through the opening. Her corpse came to a skidding stop right in front of me, and I put a hand onto her as Danny focused all of her strength to try to teleport all four of us out of there.
I closed my eyes and prayed that it would work, and—when I opened them—I saw that it had.
Daddy was crouched down next to Aunt Portia.
But as soon as he saw my sisters and me, his focus turned toward us.
And on all the blood on us.
I was aware enough of our surroundings to know that we were at the police station as Daddy ran to us, yelling at Kenya to call an ambulance. Addy was still unconscious from healing me, but Daddy seemed to recognize that she was alive—just as he knew that Danny and I were alive.
It was Charl’s opened and unmoving eyes that he focused upon as a sob left his body. He fell to his knees and took her into his arms, large tears falling from his eyes as he hugged her tightly to him.
Addy whimpered as she began to wake up, and I reached for her to help to steady her as she sat up.
“Oh God!” Kenya yelled out as she realized that Charl was dead. “What happened?”
“A bad man,” I said. “Warlow. A vampire.”
“Vampire?” Kenya asked disbelievingly.
“He had fangs,” Danny said.
“But it’s daytime,” Daddy said in disbelief.
I don’t know how I did it, but I projected a picture of the bad man straight into Daddy’s head, making sure to show his fangs.
“Ben Flynn,” he muttered.
Daddy’s eyes widened in shock, but then he widened his arms, beckoning Danny, Addy, and me into them.
We went to him, with Addy accepting my help getting there since she was still weak from saving me. And there we stayed as Daddy rocked us while we all cried.
Neither of my remaining sisters nor I could speak again as Daddy held us all tight.
And then I heard him speak, though the grief was thick in his voice.
“Call Sookie Stackhouse,” Daddy said. “She might be able to help. But—regardless—she definitely needs to be warned.”
Daddy rocked us all some more as we heard the sirens of an ambulance coming, but it was too late for Charl.
“She saved my life,” I whimpered as I took my deceased sister’s hand.
Daddy wept even louder and then he hugged us all—including Charlaine—tighter.
A/N: In the show, we see Andy losing 3 of his children when Jessica kills them when Billith is out of the room. I hated this. First, I thought it was horrible to take so many of Andy’s girls in a mere minute. Secondly, I hated that Jessica was even in the position to do this. I mean—how dumb was Billith? Jessica is only a year or so old at this point, and her maker trusts her with half-fairy children?
Also, on the show, the fact that Warlow was a monster who decimated the fairy club and killed everyone there was “hurried over” when the writers decided to put Sookie with him (Hey, Sookie, in addition to killing your parents and wanting to own you, this guy killed all those fairies you hung out with last season. You okay with that? Sure! When’s the sex scene?) Anyway, don’t get me started! I’m just happy to be able to totally rewrite this season.
Now—onto what I did and why: My first draft had two of the girls being killed by Warlow, but Braelyn (the other girl who was going to be killed off) just wouldn’t let me do it to her. I didn’t kill Charlaine because of her namesake either. Honestly, when I was writing this section, I considered what the girls’ future stories would be, and Danika, Adilyn, and Braelyn “spoke” to me more.
Now—to the harder question: Why did I kill off any of the girls? Sigh. It was a difficult decision, especially after I started writing scenes with them and they came alive to me. In the end, there were three reasons. One: I needed to show that Warlow—despite any protestations he might make—is a villain. He hunts down these kids because he’s evil, though he might protest that he was just “building up a tolerance” so that he wouldn’t hurt Sookie later. Two: I wanted the girls to prove their potential, but, honestly, I thought it would be unrealistic to put them up against Warlow and have them all come out alive. I think that the fact that any of them made it is pretty amazing. Three: I thought that Andy was one of the best characters in Season 6; clearly, he’d evolved as a character—as a man, as a father, as a potential mate to Holly. (In fact, the only thing that gave me pause regarding him about that season was when they made him be part of Bill’s “prop-up”/Jessica & Hoyt’s wedding—but that was just another moment of writer asininity.) Anyway, I felt that some of Andy’s evolution couldn’t have happened if he’d not lost his children. So I kept part of this element in my story.
All this being said, I’m still sad that I killed off Charl. Even this morning, I thought about changing this part of the narrative. But, in the end, no story can be all happy and without loss—especially with a homicidal faepire on the loose. So—yeah—I’m sorry if I left you sad. I’m sad too.
We’ll be back to Eric’s POV next week.