Chapter 41: Mine
Last Time: “Yes—if you are choosing freely to sign the contracts, the magic will do the rest,” the vampire assured.
Nodding, Sookie used her freehand to touch first one and then the second scroll.
Desmond closed his eyes for a moment even as Sookie—once again—sensed the presence of magic. “They are sealed,” he stated. “And—remember, Sookie—you can change the clause about being turned or null either contract any time you wish. However, if you are being forced or you are not completely sincere, then the change will not go into effect.”
“I understand,” Sookie nodded.
Desmond looked at the vampire and then back at Sookie. “Now—if it is permitted—I would like to speak with Sookie—for a few minutes longer. But in private.”
Eric tensed, as did Sookie. “Anything you wanna say to me can be said with Eric here, Mr. Cataliades,” she said firmly.
Desmond was silent for a moment. “I believe that is true. Yet I still ask for a moment of privacy, Sookie. Perhaps, I do not deserve it—haven’t earned it—but I ask.”
Sookie looked up at Eric.
“It is your decision,” the vampire said. “But I have known him a long time; the demon is trustworthy.”
The telepath took a moment to consider. “Okay. I’ll talk to him. You’ll be able to feel it if I get too freaked out? Even through the privacy spell thing—right?”
“Yes, I will feel you,” the vampire assured. “But—even if I couldn’t—the privacy spell will dissipate quickly once I open the door.”
“Wait! You’re gonna project to me anyway?” Sookie asked the demon.
“Then Eric doesn’t have to leave for us to have privacy—now does he?” Sookie challenged.
“No—he doesn’t,” the demon said with a little smirk.
“Then he stays,” she said decisively. “But I’ll give you permission to project your thoughts to me.”
The demon nodded, his expression displaying something akin to pride. “You can project back as well.”
“Okay,” Sookie acknowledged, letting her shields fully drop.
“Ready?” Desmond asked.
She nodded, her nervousness causing Eric to squeeze her hand in support.
As soon as she dropped her shields, she began to hear the demon lawyer. “You have the spark, Sookie. Tell me—do you believe that Eric is your soul mate—your Charmali?”
Immediately, Sookie’s expression clouded with anxiety.
“Demon!” Eric said warningly, having felt Sookie’s distress.
“It’s okay,” Sookie said aloud. To Desmond, she thought, “You don’t think he’s my half-soulmate thingy—do you? I mean—I don’t know anything about how all this works! How can I be sure?”
“No—I do not think Eric is your Charmaleé,” Desmond assured, emphasizing the final syllable of the word. “However, I do sense your worry about this topic, which is why I wished to speak with you about it; I believe I can ease your mind. You see—I am an empath—in addition to being a telepath.
“Oh—uh—did you not want Eric to know that? Is that why you wanted to speak with me without his hearing?” Sookie asked.
Mr. Cataliades shook his head. “No. Indeed, now that your and Eric’s lives are connected, I do not have an issue with his knowing about all of my abilities, my dear. So feel free to tell him. After all, the Viking will want to account for all of my skills being at his disposal—just in case.”
“In case?” she asked.
“In case he must go to war to protect you,” the demon responded, his voice in her head soft and hesitant—as if he did not want to upset her. “I don’t think that will happen, but that doesn’t mean that Eric won’t wish to be prepared for every contingency. He will place me upon that gigantic chess board he keeps in that strategic mind of his,” Desmond said, his tone now indicating his amusement. “It is important that he knows I am more of a rook than a pawn. You may also assure him that my brother Nargal would come—if need be—to help to protect you.”
Sookie was a little taken aback by the offer. “Uh—thanks.”
“You’re welcome, my dear. As I said, I do not think an all-out war for you will break out. What I am worried about most in this moment is the anxiety I felt from you when the subject of a Charmaleé was discussed—especially as it befell Fintan.”
“I was worried that kind of thing might run in the family,” Sookie admitted pensively.
“It doesn’t work that way,” Desmond said with a twinkle in his eyes. “Perhaps, I can quell you fear.”
“Quell?” she asked.
“Dissipate. Make it go away,” the demon responded without judgment for her limited vocabulary.
She nodded her thanks. “Okay—well I’d appreciate all the help you can give me with the—uh—quellin’.”
The demon smiled. “If you tell me what you felt upon first seeing Eric, I believe that I can help you confirm that he’s your Charmali,” he offered.
“Okay. Well—when I first saw Eric—I was shocked a little. I mean—he’s beautiful, but he also had this presence that was captivating. Part of me felt like I’d been hit by lightning,” the telepath answered honestly. “But—then again—it seemed like everyone at Fangtasia was havin’ the same reaction to him. Plus, I tried to pretend I hadn’t felt anything at all since Bill was there. And—of course—Bill’s blood helped with that. At least, I think it did.”
“You had Bill Compton’s blood?” Desmond asked inhaling deeply and then growling. “When? Did he force you?”
“It’s a long story,” Sookie sighed.
“Show me then,” Desmond suggested.
“How?” Sookie asked.
“Just think the memory at me, and I’ll see it,” he instructed.
Sookie closed her eyes and thought about the night she’d met Bill—the night she’d “saved” him from the Rattrays. And then she thought about the night that the “Ratts” attacked her. Finally, she recalled the part of her Friday-night conversation with Bill when he’d confessed to glamouring the “Ratts” to attack her so that he could get his blood inside of her.
“I’ll kill him,” Desmond growled, his fists clenching.
“Get in line,” Sookie chuckled. “And—anyway—Eric banished Bill from Area 5, and I banished him from my life. If he tries to enter either again, Eric’s gonna take care of him, and I’m not gonna care how he does it!”
Desmond nodded and unclenched his fists. “So—Bill’s blood may have affected your first meeting with Eric.”
Sookie shrugged, but nodded.
“Yet you still felt something when you first saw Eric?” the demon asked.
Sookie nodded in affirmation. “A lot of something. Could I just project that memory to you too?” she asked.
“It would not work. I would not be able to feel the power of what you felt then,” he returned with regret.
She sighed. “I know I felt something—something big. I guess it really doesn’t matter if Eric’s my soulmate though. What I feel—whatever it’s called—is more than enough.”
The Demon smiled softly. “Though I am empathic, I lack the ability to sense the presence of soulmates, for that is more complex than simple emotions,” Desmond conveyed. “But I can sense that there is great love between you and Eric. Something stronger—from the both of you—than I commonly feel from mates. I believe you recognized him as yours at first sight—though you would have had no way of knowing what was happening.”
“Wait. I thought you said my magic wouldn’t kick in until my fairy spark matured,” she challenged.
“The magic that connects the souls is innate, so it is not limited by your age.”
“Is there any way to be absolutely, 100% positive that what Eric and I have is not one of those one-sided soulmate things?” Sookie asked pensively.
Desmond nodded. “As an empath, I felt Finn’s emotions after he met Adele; his emotions were a jumble of love and sorrow because of the Charmaleé. I feel no such conflict in you. In addition, I feel Eric’s love for you. It is,” he paused, “unrelenting, something which I believe could indicate that his soul is matching yours—a love for a love.”
“Love,” Sookie whispered the word even in her own head.
“Your love for him is deep, my dear, and it is not conflicted as Finn’s was for your grandmother. You should trust your love for him—Charmali or not.”
“I know. I do. And—uh—thanks,” Sookie thought sincerely. “To be honest, there would have been a time when I would have doubted my feelings because I’ve had Eric’s blood. And I would have likely let those doubts make me miserable,” she added critically.
Desmond glanced at the vampire warrior. “I have known Eric for almost a century. I choose my friends and alliances carefully, and I’ve never regretted choosing him for one. I am sorry I upset you earlier—by offering to take you from him. You must understand—the idea of a fairy and a vampire being together—the idea of a vampire claiming a fairy hybrid as Eric has tonight . . . .” He paused for a moment. “Well—it was a foreign notion to me and one that took me by surprise. I worried he might have glamoured you.”
“I can’t be glamoured,” Sookie shared.
Desmond smiled widely. “Ah—excellent! I worried that part of the telepathic gift might have been lost—since the spell was not 100% effective. Rest assured that—after witnessing your closeness and your emotional connection with the Viking—I will do nothing to interfere with your relationship. On the contrary, I will do all that is in my power to protect it—since it clearly means so much to you. I have known you only a little while, and I can already tell that you are special. And I can attest from experience that Eric is worthy of you—though your Fae kin might beg to differ.”
“I know he is,” Sookie said aloud, even as she squeezed Eric’s hand. “And any Fae kin that don’t like my choices can kiss my derriere!” she added telepathically.
“Good!” Desmond said aloud, rising. “I really hope that we can get to know each other, Sookie. I see much of Finn in you, and he requested that I be your guardian—a godfather of sorts—should anything happen to him.”
“Wait!” Sookie said, causing the demon to sit again.
“Yes?” he asked.
“I’m beginning to understand the reasons why Fintan Brigant couldn’t have relationships with my family.” She gestured to the air around her with a swirl of the hand not holding Eric’s. “I’ve felt the magic that binds Supes to their oaths. But I need to know something. Would you or Fintan’s dad have ever had anything to do with any of us—my brother, my cousin, her little boy, or me—if none of us had the spark thing?”
The genial look that had been covering Mr. Cataliades’s face faded. “No.”
“And do you have any interest in my brother or Hadley?” Sookie asked.
“No,” the demon repeated, though he looked slightly ashamed for his response.
“Would your offer to be my godfather stand if I wasn’t a telepath? If I didn’t have the fairy spark?” she asked, barely audibly.
The demon could only shake his head in the negative.
Sookie sighed. “I appreciate your help and your honesty, Mr. Cataliades, so I feel like I need to be honest with you. It’s cool that you’re getting me a Britlingen guard. I appreciate that you’re sending your niece to help out till she gets here. I appreciate that you’re protecting Hunter too. And thanks for tellin’ me the truth about my family. Oh—and if Eric ever wants to call you in for any legal stuff or because we need to use the guardian thing for any strategic reason, then we’ll do that. But I don’t see us gettin’ to know each other beyond that—at least, not anytime soon. Even if I were only human, I’d still have Fintan’s blood in me—just like my brother and Hadley do. That should have been enough to warrant a visit from you or my fairy great-grandfather after Fintan passed. Because it didn’t—well . . . .” Her voice trailed off as she gripped Eric’s hand tightly.
For his part, the demon looked crestfallen but nodded. “I will follow your lead then. And I will ensure that you have updates on Hunter so that you can see him if you wish.”
“I’d appreciate that,” Sookie said softly as the demon nodded to Eric and then bowed in Sookie’s direction. Somehow managing to make no noise as he moved—despite his large body—the demon left with his head hung low.
As soon as he was gone, the tears began to fall in large drops from Sookie’s eyes as the knowledge she’d gleaned about her family and the emotions she’d felt about it all caught up to her.
Eric brought her into his embrace and held her tightly.
And—as much as he hated her tears—he didn’t try to stop her crying them. Her emotional roller coaster throughout the last several days and nights was certainly enough to justify them.
Finally, Sookie looked up at him with sad eyes. “Thanks for still wanting to be with me and for still wanting to go into business together.”
He shook his head. “Not doing so was never a thought.”
“Well—we wanted an uncomplicated time. Guess we’re not gonna get that—huh?”
He chuckled. “It doesn’t look like it. Would you like for me to contact Niall? I have my own ways of doing so—around Desmond.”
Sookie shook her head. “I want some time to get my head around everything before I even consider that. And—honestly—I’m leaning toward a big fat ‘no’ anyway. If I didn’t have a spark, he wouldn’t want anything to do with me either.”
Eric sighed. “I understand your perspective, Dearest One. And I’m not going to try to talk you out of your viewpoint about Desmond and Niall, but they are both steeped in very similar notions about family ties.”
“Niall had kids with a human woman. I don’t understand why he’d ignore his human kin or their customs about family. And Mr. Cataliades is part human, so he should know better too.” She shook her head. “And—beyond all that—it’s gonna take me a while to come to terms with the deal that Gran and Grandpa made with Fintan.” She sighed loudly. “I guess Grandpa Mitchell’s not really my Grandpa. I’m not even a Stackhouse,” she added ruefully.
Eric lifted her chin and looked into her eyes. “Of course, you are. And—I believe that your grandfather is still as he always was—as you knew him to be. He believed himself to be your grandfather. It is he who raised your father and your aunt. It is he that loved such a woman as your Gran.”
“Maybe Gran wasn’t such a saint though,” Sookie groused.
Eric shook him head. “Did you ever actually believe she was? In what you have said about her, she seemed headstrong and opinionated—stubborn.”
Sookie gave him a glare. “Are you implying I’m like her?”
“Absolutely,” the vampire said with a chuckle. “However, you also suggested that your grandmother was accepting, loving, devoted, and hardworking. Her fault seems to have been that she longed for a family more than she clung to her fidelity. The man who loved and married her was clearly also a good man. He—no doubt—understood how badly she wanted a family. And he sacrificed in order to share her—even knowing that he would not remember doing so.” He shook his head. “I will admit that I am too selfish of a creature to ever consider doing what he did.” He looked at her seriously. “Thus, Dearest, if you want children while we are together, you will have to either adopt them or do the artificial pregnancy thing. I could not bear to think of you conceiving a child with another,” he added, clearly upset at the notion.
Sookie could have taken his words as an order or a mandate regarding her reproductive choices, but she understood well where Eric was coming from. The thought of his being with someone else made her upset, too. Plus, she knew she wouldn’t want to conceive a child with someone she didn’t love.
“You don’t have to worry about that,” the telepath said with certainty. “I’m not at a place in my life where I’m thinkin’ about having kids.” She shook her head. “I might be like Gran in some ways, but being a mother was never something I yearned for to such extremes. It’s hard for me to imagine the lengths she was willing to go to. And I do feel sorry for Fintan—for Gran and Grandpa too.” She paused. “I will admit that I would have been a lot more upset if I’d learned that Gran remembered Fintan—if she’d held back that knowledge from me on purpose in order to protect the secret of her affair.”
Eric nodded in understanding. “Because that affair could have helped to explain your telepathy.”
Sookie nodded. “Gran was accepting of me—despite my,” she paused, “differences. And it’s comfortin’ to know that she wasn’t able to remember what might have made me that way. Plus, it seems that—to the best of their ability—Fintan, she, and Grandpa Mitchell tried to protect any of their kids and grandkids that were born with a fairy spark—though I have my doubts that telepathy was the best way to do that.” She sighed. “They just didn’t know that the potion cooked up by Mr. Cataliades and Octavia wouldn’t work right.”
Eric could feel how tired Sookie was. “Shall I take you home?”
“I think Molly’s here to meet with me. I felt a baby void come in a while ago. And I already feel bad about making her wait,” Sookie said, wiping her eyes with her sleeve.
“She can come another night,” Eric responded.
“No. I’d like to meet with her tonight—to get the ball rolling on my Internet and my computer. It’s what I was excited about when I came here tonight—well, that and seeing you,” she blushed a little.
Eric smiled and then stood, before leading her toward a tiny private washroom that was attached to his office. She’d never even noticed it was there, probably because it was accessed by more of a panel than a door. Inside, there was a sink, a small shower, and some shelves with towels. Obviously added with a vampire in mind, the washroom held no toilet.
As if reading her mind, Eric said, “If you need to use the lavatory, you can use the one for employees. Pam says it’s better than the public one. However, I thought you might like to wash your face and freshen up before you meet with Molly.”
“Thanks,” Sookie said sincerely. “Will you go tell Molly I’ll be out in a minute? And make sure it’s convenient for her to stay—okay?”
Eric nodded in agreement, knowing that Sookie wouldn’t be pleased if he simply ordered his subordinate to stay regardless of her convenience. Politeness was an attribute he would have to work on when it came to working with Sookie; asking Molly to stay—rather than telling her to do so—would be a start.
The vampire bent down to kiss Sookie’s forehead in comfort.
She shook her head and pointed to her lips. “I need one here too.”
Eric chuckled and did as requested, bending down further to press his lips against hers. Their kiss was soft—not exactly chaste, but not into the territory of making out either. The sweep of his tongue against hers was gentle. And hers answered in whispers as well. Still, she was breathless when she broke the kiss.
“Thanks,” she smiled up at him. “I really needed that.”
He nodded and left her to splash water on her face. He was not surprised in the least to see Thalia standing in the hallway, ready to guard her charge now that the demon was gone.
“Diantha?” she asked, her brow raised. “She didn’t leave with her uncle; she’s currently loitering outside—humming ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.'”
Eric spoke in a low voice so that only she could hear, though he planned to give Pam the same information later. “Mr. Cataliades has a connection to Sookie and has a vested interest in her safety. Fairies were involved in her father’s death. Diantha will be joining the guard detail for a while.”
“So she is part-Fae?” Thalia half-asked and half-stated.
“She is the great-granddaughter of Niall Brigant, and he knows about her existence. It was Rogan’s henchmen, Neave and Lochlan, that murdered Corbett and Michelle Stackhouse. Niall’s enemies may not know of Sookie at this point, but—if they learn of her . . . .” His fists clenched.
Thalia nodded in understanding. “Even those two deranged fairies wouldn’t come after Sookie at night—not with vampires protecting her.”
“But during the day,” Eric said, “fairies might get around even the best of Were guards. So Diantha will help until the Britlingen Cataliades’s is hiring arrives.”
Thalia could not keep the surprise from her face. “A Britlingen? Will you keep the rest of us on then?”
Eric chuckled. “Don’t worry. You will keep your job as the Head of Security for Sookie. And the others will keep their places too. The Britlingen will answer to you. However, I want her to keep concealed for the most part; in fact, I want only Sookie’s closest guards to know about her.”
“So that potential enemies do not know about her either,” Thalia remarked with a smirk.
Eric nodded. “Yes—a secret weapon that cannot be foreseen by an attacker is a potent asset.”
“True,” the vampiress nodded, showing a little fang.
Eric left the hallway to quickly have a word with Molly, who was sipping a TrueBlood and tapping happily away at the keyboard in front of her. She took out her earbuds as Eric approached.
“We were delayed with Sookie’s contract, and she wishes to know if you still find it convenient to meet with her tonight. She will be ready soon,” Eric said.
Molly shrugged. “This is all I’ve got goin’ on tonight,” she said, swinging her legs back and forth in a very human-like movement—an action that reminded Eric of just how young she was as a vampire and just how young she’d been when she was turned. Indeed, he’d punished her maker—who’d turned her both against her will and prior to her eighteenth birthday (which had become the minimum age of turning in the decades leading up to the Great Revelation)—with the true death. Then—after learning of her propensity toward computers—Eric had tasked Maxwell Lee with fostering her. The young one had thrived and was extremely loyal to both her adoptive maker and her sheriff.
Pam was giving Eric a questioning look as he moved away from Molly, even as the young one put back in her earbuds. To appease his child, Eric took Pam to a corner of the bar and almost silently informed her of what was going on.
Pam’s reaction had been to laugh heartily. She’d—thankfully—come just short of congratulating Sookie for being the “best show on television” when the telepath had emerged from the office area.
Feeling her determination throbbing through the blood tie, Eric watched as Sookie introduced herself to Molly. The two quickly began talking about computers and the Internet, and Sookie’s excitement level rose as Molly started typing a list of things Sookie would need on her new computer, which the vampiress promised would be done within hours. Molly also said that she could pull together a “tech team” to get Sookie up and running with Internet access the next night. After their conversation, Sookie was relaxed and even more excited as the two talked about the telepath’s plans for school.
As he observed, Eric found himself extremely glad that Molly had stayed and even more impressed with Sookie than he’d already been. And that was saying a lot. He’d felt her emotional turmoil as Desmond had spoken with her—both out loud and telepathically. However, as upset as she’d been, she was coping and moving forward. Such determination garnered only respect from the Viking.
“You look like a lovestruck teen,” Pam snarked in Swedish.
Eric gave her a sideways glance. “I am simply enjoying witnessing her blossoming, Pamela.”
The vampiress looked at Sookie and nodded. “Yes. She is more confident than before—surer of herself. More comfortable in her own skin.” She licked her lips with appreciation.
Eric rolled his eyes.
“Of course, that does not negate that you do look like a lovestruck teen,” she challenged.
“Lovestruck—yes,” Eric acknowledged.
“At least you admit it,” Pam smirked.
With Thalia driving Sookie’s car behind them, Eric drove Sookie home in his Corvette. She’d fallen asleep only five minutes into the trip. He nodded to Bubba, who was sitting on the porch, as he carried an unstirring Sookie toward the house.
“I’ll get the door for you, Mister Eric,” the younger vampire offered quietly.
The Viking nodded. “Any issues while we were gone?” he asked.
Bubba shook his head. “Nah. One of them Weres scared away somethin’ I was hopin’ would be my dinner, but—other than that—it’s been quiet as a mouse out here.”
Eric nodded again and continued his trek to take Sookie to her room. He laid her down gently.
“Don’t go yet,” she said groggily, reaching out a hand as soon as he’d turned to do just that. She opened her eyes a little. “Unless you need to.”
“I don’t,” he said. “I was even so bold as to bring a duffle bag so that we could go directly to Fangtasia from here tomorrow—if you honored me with an invitation to stay in your cubby.”
She chuckled. “That was bold, Mr. Northman. Here, give me a hand,” she said as she sat up and then he helped her to her feet; clearly, she was still almost asleep on her feet.
“Just because I stay doesn’t mean you have to stay awake,” he assured.
“I just wanna put on comfy sleep clothes and brush my teeth,” she said. “Then would you mind if we just—uh . . . .” She gestured toward the bed. “Would you mind just holding me till I fall asleep again? I’m sure it won’t take long.”
“I don’t mind,” the vampire assured. While she was going through her nighttime routine, he zipped to his vehicle to get his duffle and then zipped back to the room where the cubby was located. There, he also put on more comfortable garments—having made selections that he figured Sookie would view as “appropriate sleep attire”: a pair of lounge pants and a Fangtasia T-shirt. He was back in Sookie’s room, waiting in her bed, when she emerged from her bathroom.
She half-chuckled and half-yawned as she climbed in next to him. “Vampire speed is pretty darned cool.”
“It is,” he agreed as she laid her head onto his chest and snuggled into him. “I love how you’re cool,” she sighed, placing a kiss on his chest through his shirt.
“And I love how you’re warm,” he said as she drifted away from consciousness.
The third installment of The Trunk Series has begun. Click HERE for Chapter 01 of The Engine!
A/N: Well-there you have it! Another finished story. Of course, there is more to come from these two. Let me know what you though of The Boot if you have the time and the inclination.
And-of course-let me know how you feel about the chapter. Many of you might not like that Sookie basically said no to Desmond’s offer at a closer relationship, but she had her reasons. I wanted to show that though she is accepting her Supe status, her general ethics aren’t changing. Sookie in the books seemed to be uncomfortable with the fact that Jason wasn’t included (especially not initially) in her fairy family relationships. But she didn’t really do anything about that until the truth couldn’t be hidden from him anymore. In this piece, I wanted her to actually act on what she sees as unfair treatment (based on who has a spark and who doesn’t), so she called Desmond out on this. I’m not saying she’ll never be close to Desmond or her fairy kin, but I am saying that she’s making choices based on who wants to be a full part of her “family,” not just who will pick and choose. What do you think? Stubborn or healthy on her part? Maybe it’s both.
Anyway-I hope that many of you will be with me when I start The Engine! I promise a lot more action in that sequel as all the threats that have been closing in will have to be dealt with.