Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
All mistakes are my own.
Sookie held her breath as she waited for an answer. Gran’s eyes darted away.
“So it’s true?” Sookie frowned.
“Honey…” Gran patted her hand, but Sookie pulled away.
“All this time? You’ve lied to us for years.” She couldn’t keep the hurt out of her voice.
“That’s not fair,” Gran said, straightening her back. “You don’t understand.”
Sookie’s temper flared. “Well then, why don’t you explain it to me?”
“My husband, Mitchell, God rest his soul, had suffered from mumps as a child. It left him sterile. I wanted children so badly. We both did.” Gran looked past her, into some distant memory. “He was gone a lot. Sometimes for weeks at a time.”
Sookie’s stomach churned. She wanted her to stop, but couldn’t bring herself to speak.
“Fintan came to me during those times. He looked so much like Mitchell.” She smiled. “At first, I couldn’t tell them apart.” She focused on Sookie’s face. “I knew it was wrong. I had made my vows with Mitchell. But I loved Fintan too. He knew I wanted children, and he gave them to me.”
“You cheated on Grandpa! He must’ve known.”
Gran nodded. “Deep down, he knew. He used to say it was a miracle, and that all our prayers had been answered, but he knew. You have to understand. It didn’t matter. He loved your daddy and aunt Linda as if they were his own. Where’s the harm in that?” Her eyes searched Sookie’s.
“Why don’t you tell me about Desmond?” Her heart raced. Desmond had gifted her telepathy. That particular gift had harmed her more than she cared to count.
“Desmond was Fintan’s friend. He insisted I accept his gift…”
“How?” She crossed her arms over her chest.
“He gave me a thimble of his blood when I was with child. He said that my descendants would have a wonderful gift.”
“Some of your descendants. Only those of us with the essential spark.”
“I always knew you were special, honey.”
Tears stung the corner of her eyes. “I don’t want to be special. I hate it. I wish I hadn’t been born this way.”
“I couldn’t refuse.” Gran swallowed hard. “Desmond is… Desmond isn’t someone you disagree with.”
At that moment, Sookie realized her gran didn’t have a choice any more than she did. Her shoulders slumped. “So Fintan is my grandpa, and Niall is my great-grandpa.”
Gran nodded and hobbled over to the big old desk wedged in the corner, pulling out a drawer Sookie hadn’t known existed. She extracted a yellowed envelope and closed the drawer quickly before Sookie could see the other contents. “I wrote you this letter when you were born, explaining the whole thing. Everyone knew you were special, so I figured the day would come when you would have to find out the truth.” She handed it to Sookie and frowned. “Why now? Did Niall say?”
Sookie opened her mouth to respond and then remembered her promise to Niall. Instead, she opened the envelope and read the twenty-three year old words.
Fresh tears rimmed her eyes. “All these years you’ve put on such a good show. A devout wife, loving mother, doting grandmother.” She tucked the letter back into the aged envelope. “You’ve judged Jason. You judge me.” She pressed her lips together, silencing her grandmother with her anger. “You judge me for spending a night with the man I love. The only man I love—”
“You watch your mouth,” Gran bit back. “You have no right.”
“I have every right!” she shouted. She turned away and only released the cry stuck in her throat when she got outside. She held her face in her hands and cried. Giant sobs racked her chest, shaking her shoulders and knocking the air out of her lungs. Her entire life had been a lie. And the one woman she trusted more than anything had helped keep it a secret.
Shuffling feet slid across the back porch toward her. She glanced up with bleary eyes and noticed Jason. He stood close, but seemed wary. “Are you feeling all right?” he asked.
Sookie frowned. Since when does my brother speak properly, especially after throwing a few back? She scoffed. “No. Everything is not all right. I’m just so… So upset.”
He nodded. “I can see that.”
“All I ever wanted was to be normal. To be like any other girl.” She squeezed the tears out of her eyes with her palms, but more replaced them. “It wasn’t in the cards for me. I was doomed from the beginning.” Her face crumpled as she cried, unguarded.
He sat down next to her and patted her back gently. He didn’t say a word; he just sat there, patting, completely silent until Sookie ran out of tears. It was exactly what she needed.
She sniffed and wiped her nose on the back of her hand and gave her brother a feeble smile. “Thanks for listening. You’re a good guy.” Feeling a little guilty about what she’s said to Beth about him, she leaned toward him and kissed his cheek.
Jason’s eyes went wide and then they started to roll up into his head.
“Hey now, don’t pass out on me.” She patted his other cheek and waited for his blue eyes to drop back into view. “Come on, let’s get you inside.” With as much strength as she could muster, which was quite a bit since her last exchange with Eric, she heaved him to his feet and dragged him inside. Something clattered onto the porch as they made their way inside, but she couldn’t turn to see it without losing momentum. Gran opened her mouth when she caught sight of the two of them coming in from the back porch through the kitchen, Jason on the brink of collapse, and Sookie all red and blotchy. “He’s had one too many, put a blanket down on the couch.”
Gran nodded and moved as quickly as she could, smoothing a blanket over the lumpy cushions.
Jason’s body went limp just as they rounded the end of the couch, where he slipped out of Sookie’s arms onto the blanket. Sookie tugged him until he was on his side and tucked a pillow under his head.
She straightened her back and stared right into Gran’s eyes. She’d been crying too.
“We don’t need to talk anymore tonight,” she said, and then she hugged her. “I’m beat. We should let him rest too.”
“I’m sorry,” Gran whispered.
“Me too,” Sookie replied. “We can talk tomorrow.”
Gran nodded and then went to her bedroom. Sookie tucked an old afghan around Jason’s sleeping body and then fell into her bed. She didn’t wake until late the next morning.
“I’m so hungry, how about you Ja—” Sookie said as she rubbed sleep out of her eyes and greeted her brother. But there was no one in the front room. The couch was empty. Even the blankets had been folded neatly.
“Morning!” Gran called from the kitchen. The aroma of biscuits, gravy, and fried potatoes filled the air.
“What time did Jason leave?”
Gran shrugged. “He was gone before I got up. Must’ve had an early day at work.”
Sookie poured a cup of coffee and frowned. “That’s funny, I don’t remember seeing his truck last night.”
“Maybe a friend picked him up.”
“Maybe.” Seemed as likely as anything else.
“I really am sorry for everything,” Gran said without looking up from the pitch-black pan sizzling in front of her.
“You didn’t have a lot of say in things.”
“That’s partially true, but I did choose to be with Fintan, and that was wrong.”
“Fairies are very irresistible,” Sookie added, trying to smooth things over. “Charming, beautiful, manipulative.” Truth be told, she was describing Niall, but she hadn’t met any other fairies … that she knew about.
“I’m still sorry it’s impacted your life. I know it’s been hard.”
If only she knew how much it impacted all of their lives… Sookie fought tears as she remembered how much her gran had grieved when her parents had died. Everything was connected. “It’s been hard for all of us,” she said finally.
She cleaned up after they ate while Gran got on with her regular morning routine. Sookie tucked the blankets back in the cupboard, shaking her head at her brother’s weird behavior last night. That’s when she remembered the sound of something falling on the porch when she carried him in.
She retraced her steps to the spot where she’d cried and he’d comforted her and didn’t see anything. Maybe he picked it up, whatever it was. She sat down and looked around, just to be sure, and saw something, tucked under the edge of a storage shelf. She frowned as she pulled out the thin rectangle of metal. “What the…?”
When she picked it up, the metal seemed to react to her skin, humming in her hand as if it were alive. She turned it over and examined the beautiful surface, which had been carved with unusual symbols, and then gasped when a dark metal blade flicked out one end. She searched for the mechanism she must’ve triggered, but couldn’t find one. Hmm, how do I close it? Just like that, the blade disappeared into the ornate handle. She frowned. Open, she thought. And it opened. The blade was covered with incredibly detailed carvings and seemed impossibly thin and sharp. Close. The blade disappeared again inside the ornate handle.
“What in the world is this? Why did Jason have it? Where did he even get it?” She put it down. Open. Nothing happened. “I have to be holding it.” She tried again, and sure enough, the blade slid out of the end as soon as she said, “Open.” She closed it and called out, “Hey, Gran, come look at this.”
With a broom in her hand, Gran came out onto the back porch.
“Have you seen this before?” she handed it to her.
Gran turned it over and looked at it. “Nope. It’s real pretty though. What is it?”
“I think it belongs to Jason. Can you open it?” she asked, hoping Gran would repeat the word.
“Open it? I don’t even know what it is.” Gran shrugged and handed it back to Sookie. “If it belongs to your brother, you best get it back to him. Might be something he needs for work.”
“You’re right. I’ll be back later.”
* * * *
Sookie’s car sputtered when she pulled up to the construction site where Jason had been working all week. He and his crew were digging up one of the old parish roads to get to a water main.
“What’s up, Sook?” Jason asked, leaning heavily on his shovel and taking his gloves off so he could wipe his forehead.
She glanced nervously at the other guys, but decided it was probably safe to talk since they were far enough away not to hear. “You dropped this last night.” She held the knife out to him.
Jason took it and frowned. “I’ve never seen this before. It feels weird in my hand. Like a buzzing feeling.”
“But I heard something hit the ground, and then I found this.”
He lifted his eyebrows. “I don’t even know what it is.”
“It’s your knife,” she whispered. “Go on, tell it to open.”
He chuckled. “You gettin’ enough sleep?”
“Don’t mess with me, Jason. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now. Tell it to open.”
“Open sesame!” he commanded. He dropped it as the blade flipped out. “What the hell? Where did that come from?”
She bent over to pick it up. “I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t matter since it’s not yours. Did you find what you dropped?”
“When you left this morning, you must’ve picked it up, whatever it was.”
“Left this morning? You’re not makin’ sense.”
Sookie rolled her eyes and sighed. “Last night? When I was a mess?”
He stared at her blankly.
“You sat on the back porch with me?” She waved her hand. “Never mind. You were drunk as a skunk, I don’t expect you’d remember.”
“I was over at Hoyt’s last night. Yeah, I got drunk, but I crashed there. He can vouch for me.” He twisted and hollered over his shoulder, “Hey Hoyt, where were we last night?”
“My house, you damn fool!” Hoyt shook his head. “You owe me a twelve-pack, you know that.”
“See?” Jason shrugged.
Sookie shook her head. “No. You were at Gran’s, barefoot and drunk. You wouldn’t come in. And then you listened to me cry and patted my back. You left early this morning before breakfast.”
Jason laughed. “Doesn’t sound like me.”
Her eyes went wide. “No, it doesn’t.” She swallowed hard. “I gotta go.”
“Hey Sook, get some rest, will ya?”
She didn’t reply she just got in her car and drove to the nearest phone.
Just as most of you suspected…that wasn’t her brother on the porch last night. On to Up All Night: Chapter 16