Last time: “Now—just what the hell is causing your behavior to my . . . ,” Eric paused and looked at Sookie.
“Just his,” Sookie emphasized, looking up at him. Despite the tension between Thalia and Cataliades, Eric and Sookie shared a moment and a knowing look, which marked the significance of Sookie accepting Eric’s claim of her in a public way.
“Mine,” Eric agreed matter-of-factly before looking back at the demon, whose lips momentarily retook their round shape.
Mr. Cataliades shook his head a little as if waking himself from a daydream. “I am sorry. I just . . . .” Again, he pierced Sookie with his yellowish-green eyes. “You look exactly like your grandfather.”
“You knew Granddad Mitchell?” Sookie asked about the only grandfather she’d ever known.
“No,” Desmond Cataliades answered with a shake of his head, his expression paling noticeably.
“Oh!” Sookie said with understanding. Her mother’s father had died of pneumonia before Michelle Stackhouse had walked her first step, but that didn’t mean that the demon attorney hadn’t known him. “I forget that Supes can be older than they look. Did you know my mom’s dad, Jack Morningside?” Sookie asked, using the name she’d rarely had an occasion to say.
“Figures that she’d have kin with that name,” Pam snarked from behind the bar, where she’d been watching the action like it was a tennis match.
“I did not know Mitchell Stackhouse or Johnathan Morningside,” Desmond said in a low tone.
Sookie’s eyes widened—as did Eric’s.
“I—uh—I’ve only ever heard my mom’s dad called Jack. How—uh—why would you say Johnathan?”
“I helped your grandfather run a background check on Michelle Morningside when she became engaged to his son,” Desmond returned.
“Why would Granddad Mitchell do that?” Sookie asked with curiosity—and more than a little confusion. “And how would he know you? And why did you say you didn’t know him a second ago?” she continued questioning him.
The demon looked at Sookie helplessly for a moment and then gestured toward a table. “We should sit for this,” he emphasized as his gaze turned to Eric, his eyes almost pleading with the vampire to allow them a moment of reprieve to reshuffle. “Better yet, we should speak—in private,” he rethought, glancing at Pam and then Thalia.
To his credit, the demon seemed to know better than to ask Eric to leave.
However, Thalia growled and planted her feet, clearly not liking the idea of leaving her charge.
“I will not harm her,” the demon assured calmly. “Indeed, I make the vow to my forebears,” he added loudly and with formality.
Immediately, the air in the room seemed to get hotter as if an oven had been momentarily opened to it.
“A demon oath,” Eric said for her benefit even as he squeezed her hand. “From this point on, he would be struck down before he could harm you,” the vampire added, looking at the demon with curiosity. “Such oaths are rarely taken, for they are permanent.”
“Okay?” Sookie said confused, even as she noted that the air had gone back to normal.
Eric looked at his child. “Has Fangtasia been swept for listening devices this evening?”
She nodded. “Of course. And even if some were missed, the witch, Amelia, created this privacy spell.” She held up a Tupperware container.
Sookie couldn’t help but to laugh at the object. “Do all witch spells come in Tupperware?” she asked, thinking of the containers that had held her food in a stasis spell the night before.
Eric chuckled at her reaction. “Not all of them. But—to be honest—Tupperware is a convenient conveyance for transporting a privacy spell. Once the lid is lifted—the room where it sits will seem to be silent to anyone listening from outside of it; moreover, surveillance devices will also be useless. I’d second-guessed ordering it, thinking I was being overly cautious to have it; now it seems the device is fortuitous.” He gestured toward Thalia and Pam. “We will go to my office since the privacy spell will last longer in the smaller space. You two stay here.” He glanced at the demon before looking back at Pam. “If you sense that I need you through the bond, do not hesitate. And bring Thalia.”
Pam nodded, and—though Thalia looked very unhappy about letting her charge out of her sight, given the demon’s odd behavior—she did not move to follow when Eric guided Sookie toward the back of the club after Pam had tossed her maker the Tupperware, an action which caused another nervous giggle from the telepath.
The demon followed them pensively.
Eric motioned for Mr. Cataliades to enter the office first and then motioned for him to sit. The attorney quickly squeezed himself between the arms of the chair and placed his briefcase at his feet before pulling an already damp-looking handkerchief out of his pocket. As Eric closed the door and guided Sookie to the couch—where they could sit next to one another—the demon tried to sop up the sweat that was dripping from his brow. When it became clear that his small handkerchief wasn’t up to the task, he pulled a not-so-small towel from his briefcase.
“Sorry. The oath takes quite a bit of magic, and I am only part-Dae,” he said a little winded, though managing an apologetic tone.
Eric made a show of opening the Tupperware.
Again, Sookie noticed a change in the air as the magic filled it; she’d noticed a similar—though smaller—”feeling of magic” the night before when she’d taken her food from the container Christa had delivered it in.
“Desmond, what the fuck is going on?” Eric asked, using the demon’s first name, which he only uttered when the two were alone. For him to use it in front of Sookie signaled to the demon that the vampire intended to hide nothing from the woman at his side—not even little insights into his relationships with others that were not known even by his own child.
It took Desmond a moment to take in that unexpected turn of events. “I am sorry for my reaction, Eric,” the demon apologized, still sopping up sweat. “I was surprised—shocked even—when you walked into Fangtasia, dear,” he added, looking at Sookie with a kind smile.
The Southern woman was used to older gentlemen using endearments with her, and—since the demon’s endearment held no double-entendre (a word she’d learned from her trusty word-of-the-day calendar)—she wasn’t bothered by it. What did bother her was why the demon seemed so interested in her.
“Why were you surprised?” she emphasized pensively. The look in the demon’s eyes told her that she wasn’t going to like what he had to say. Goodness knows she’d been trying to pry his thoughts from his brain, but all she was getting was static.
A thought shot into her own mind like an arrow.
“Are you with the vampire by choice?” Mr. Cataliades’s voice rang in her head—clear as an unwelcome bell. “If not, simply shake your head, and I will help you escape him during the daylight hours tomorrow.”
“What? No!” Sookie responded aloud—and loudly—as she jumped to her feet. “I mean—yes! I am with Eric by choice! And where the hell do you get off goin’ into my head like that! Stop it! Or this meeting ends right now!”
Eric’s fangs clicked down as he stood next to Sookie. “What happened?” he demanded.
Mr. Cataliades actually looked relieved and leaned back into his chair, still sopping his brow. “I projected to Miss Stackhouse in order to make sure she was yours by choice. I offered to rescue her from your clutches during the day tomorrow if she was not,” he added with a playful twinkle in his eyes.
Eric growled. “What the fuck, Desmond?!”
The demon shrugged. “I did not wish to take her now; that’s why I would have waited until tomorrow. I would truly have hated having to harm you to save her, Eric—even though I would have had to place her needs above yours in this case,” he added casually. “Of course, if I needed to take her with me now, I would have tried. Nargal would have been angry to have to go against you; he does so enjoy sparring with you when he’s in the realm.” The demon moved the towel to mop on the back of his neck. “Plus, he hates it when I call him to this realm with no notice; of course, I wouldn’t have stood a chance against you without his help,” he rambled. “Not with Diantha outside; I cannot call her like I can my brother, you know,” he said conversationally.
“What the F?” Sookie demanded, echoing Eric’s question. “What’s a Nargal? And what the hell gave you the audacity to say—think—stuff like that at me!?”
‘Audacity’ had not been from her calendar; she’d learned that one because Gran had always used the word when scolding Jason.
“Nargal is my half-brother—a full demon. And—for the record—I am truly sorry, dear. However, I am your guardian, so—you see—the task of looking out for you is mine,” the demon shared.
Sookie sat down quickly—and heavily —with Eric following.
“Guardian? Explain!” the vampire ordered, even as Sookie yelled out, “Guardian! What do you mean?”
Again, the demon’s face held a look of apology. His gaze took in Sookie’s face before moving to the entwined hands of Eric and the telepath. He could not help but to marvel at the relationship that clearly had formed between them. He shook his head and refocused on the eyes of his previously unknown charge.
“I must begin by telling you about something that occurred more than half a century ago,” the demon started. “Only then will you understand.”
Sookie frowned, but motioned for him to go on.
“Give the abridged version,” Eric ordered, feeling Sookie’s impatience and confusion in their blood tie. He did not like that she was so disconcerted. It made him feel the same.
Desmond nodded. “I will try to be quick. I regret that the story begins with information you may find troubling, dear.” He sighed. “The man you knew as your grandfather on your father’s side, Mitchell Stackhouse, was not your biological grandfather.”
“What?” Sookie gasped. “Wait! You aren’t tryin’ to tell me that Gran was . . . .” Her voice trailed off when she couldn’t bring herself to say aloud the word she was thinking: “unfaithful.”
“Your grandmother, Adele, was twenty-two years old when Fintan Brigant, my closest friend and ally, first spied her. She captivated him.”
“Brigant,” Eric whispered, his eyes widening.
“Yes. One of the twin sons Niall had with his human wife,” the lawyer confirmed to the vampire, who knew well the Brigant name.
“What is it?” Sookie asked, having sensed the tension rise in the vampire next to her.
“He just confirmed that you are part fairy—and part of the Fae royal family,” Eric said softly, squeezing Sookie’s hand comfortingly.
Sookie looked back at the demon. “Keep talking,” she said after a few seconds of trying to re-ground herself in the moment—in her reality and not in some kind of odd Disney movie.
“Fintan—Finn as I called him—was enthralled by Adele. And he enthralled her as well,” Desmond conveyed.
“Gran wasn’t like that!” Sookie charged. “She wouldn’t!”
Desmond sighed. “Any human woman would have succumbed to Finn; he had the Fae ability to captivate. Generally, he could control that ability, but he could not do so around Adele; from first sight, she enraptured him. You see—she was his Charmaleé.”
“His what?” Sookie asked.
“Charmaleé,” Eric echoed. “For humans, the closest translation is half-soul mate.”
Desmond nodded sadly. “Yes.”
“Half?” Sookie asked with confusion.
“It happens when a fairy finds a perfect mate for himself or herself, but that mate could never return the same kind of affection. It is an inequality of love that no time could ever change and no magic could ever alter. Finding one’s own soulmate is a rare enough undertaking as it is,” Desmond explained. “To find it, but to have no hope of reciprocation is a tragedy. Arguably, a curse much more than a blessing.” He shook his head sadly.
“Wait. How would Finn have been able to tell all that from first sight?” Sookie asked, unconsciously glancing at Eric.
A look of understanding—almost revelation—came to Desmond. “Fairies are one of the few kinds of creatures who can know in an instant if they have found their Charmaleé or their Charmali, which is a full soulmate. They sense them with their light.”
“Light?” Sookie asked.
“The magic that animates them.”
“Fairy spark,” Eric commented.
“The light is a component of the spark all fairies have. It is what takes them to the Summerlands when they pass from their corporeal bodies. It is also what can allow them to become angels,” the demon explained for Sookie’s benefit. “It helped Finn to know his other half in an instant.”
“But he wasn’t her other half?” Sookie asked, still a little confused. “How is that possible?”
Desmond sighed and shrugged. “It happens sometimes—especially when one has a twin, as Finn did.”
Sookie felt herself becoming sad for Fintan, and the vampire next to her gripped her hand just a bit tighter in comfort and support.
“Finn despaired when Adele was drawn to him like a moth to the flame—not because she truly wanted him—but because she was enthralled by his allure,” Desmond continued. “He went against his instincts to have her right then and there; instead, he came to visit me in New Orleans. There, he asked that I investigate Adele, and I did. I ventured to Bon Temps, and,” he glanced at Eric, “using my telepathy, I learned much of what there was to know about both Adele and her husband, Mitchell.”
“You are telepathic?” Eric questioned.
Desmond nodded in confirmation. “That is information not many are privy to.”
“I understand,” the vampire said with a nod. Despite his own long-term friendship with the demon, that information had not be shared. The vampire rightly guessed that Desmond had spilled that particular bean because Sookie sat by his side. He was also beginning to suspect that Sookie’s own telepathy might be related to Desmond’s, though he held his questions and waited for the demon to continue—willing to allow his old friend to tell his tale in the manner in which he thought best. At least, for the moment.
Desmond looked at Sookie with a softened expression. “Your grandmother was beautiful, but there was a sadness to her as well, for she longed to become a mother. She and her husband had tried for a while before Mitchell learned that he could not father children because of a disease he’d had as a child. After speaking with Finn about what I’d learned, he asked me to present a proposition to Adele and Mitchell.” He raked his round fingers through the thinning hair on his round head.
“What proposition?” Sookie asked.
Desmond sighed. “Finn had too much honor and—yes—love for your grandmother to present his offer in person, for he did not trust that he could control his allure around Adele or Mitchell, given his feelings for her. Even if he just presented his idea to Mitchell—without Adele there—he worried that his own desires would transfer to the man, so I was tasked with presenting Finn’s proposition.”
“What proposition?” Sookie repeated, this time impatiently.
“Finn wished for time—time with Adele. Specifically, he requested one week per year for ten years. During that week, Adele would live as his wife, and—in return—Finn promised two children,” Desmond said, wiping a tear from his eye. “I told Finn that such time would only hurt him. However, he would not be talked out of attempting to make the deal. For their part, your grandparents denied him at first, though thoughts from both of their heads told me that they were tempted by the idea of children. The Gods help me—I preyed upon that desire. And then I told them the other part of Finn’s plan.”
“What part?” Sookie asked.
The demon sighed. “I told them that magic could be used to cover up Mitchell’s memory of the deal entirely. However, Finn asked that Adele be allowed to remember him and all that had passed between them—but only when they were together—during their week. Other than that, Mitchell and Adele would truly believe the children were theirs, and they would experience no strife due to infidelity. I left them my card. It was three months later that they contacted me to agree to the proposition.”
Sookie was shaking her head in denial. “Gran would never . . . .”
Desmond interrupted gently. “Never is a long time, my dear. From what I could discern, Mitchell had to talk your grandmother into accepting, but accept she did.” He paused for several seconds as if losing himself in his memories. “Adele and Finn spent their weeks together in a house I own on the Gulf; everyone in Bon Temps, including Mitchell, believed that she was visiting a cousin each year.” He paused. “From Finn’s first visit with Adele, your father, Corbett was produced. From his third, Linda was conceived.” He patted down his neck with his small towel again. “Finn became a shell of himself once his tenth week with her was over. He watched her and his children from afar, but never approached her or them—as was part of their agreement.” His eyes took on a faraway look. “I knew them as a couple—your grandmother and Finn. Adele, when with Finn, really did come to love him in a way, though she remained affected by his allure to a certain extent. Finn could not prevent that. He was haunted, however, by the fact that her affection stemmed from her pity for him. You see—I told Adele and Mitchell why Finn was so enamored with Adele. I explained the concept of the Charmaleé to them. Adele had a,” he paused, “very compassionate heart, so when she was with Finn, she tried not to hold back with him.”
“And when she wasn’t?” Sookie asked.
“As I said, she did not remember Finn at all when they were not together. She and Mitchell also did not remember that Mitchell couldn’t father a child. For fifty-one weeks of the year—at least for the first ten years after the deal was struck—they both believed to their core that the children belonged to both of them. It was only ten weeks total that Adele knew Finn—knew the father of her children. After those weeks were spent, she had no remaining memory of him. Mitchell and your grandmother were,” Desmond sighed, “happy and very much in love with one another.”
“And Fintan?” Sookie asked.
“He contented himself with watching over your family from a distance. And, not able to do anything else, he made it his aim to ensure that the Stackhouse family remained unknown to the Fae world, which had become dangerous for hybrids by then. However—unbeknownst to him—he had already made what turned out to be a grave error.”
“What error?” Sookie asked.
A/N: Sorry (not sorry) for the cliffie. I do hope that you like this chapter. I have always struggled with my feelings about Adele because she could have helped Sookie to understand that her telepathy had a supernatural origin if she’d only been willing to admit her infidelity. But Gran didn’t do that; instead, she seemed to encourage Sookie to learn to live with her telepathy as “normally” as possible. Also, I wondered how Gran never thought about the father of her children; indeed, that seemed “cold” for Gran to not do. And—of course—if she had thought about Fintan, then why had Sookie never overheard that? Anyway, this “new” universe gave me the opportunity to alter Adele’s backstory with Fintan and to come up with a logical reason why Gran never thought about Fintan. I hope that you enjoyed it.
Until next time,