Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
All mistakes are my own.
Sookie fiddled with the edge of the business card while she waited for the phone to connect.
“Elemental Laboratory, how may I help you?”
Sookie frowned, “Um. Can I please speak with Niall Brigant?”
“One moment, please.”
Pleasant musak played over the phone for a minute before the line clicked. She strained to listen to the faint sound of someone breathing.
“Niall? It’s Sookie.”
“Where are you?” came his hushed voice.
“At the Grab It Quick. I couldn’t wait until I got home to call.”
“This number is for emergencies only. It’s not safe,” he added, his voice full of urgency.
“I’ll make it quick,” she said, determined to speak her piece. “Jason came to visit me last night, only it wasn’t him. It looked just like him though, but he acted strange. Anyway,” she went on, pleased that he hadn’t interrupted her, “whoever it was dropped some kind of beautifully carved metal knife on my back porch. It’s the strangest thing.” She pulled it out of her pocket and held it. “It can hear my thoughts,” she whispered, even though she stood outside the gas station alone.
“It’s not listening to your thoughts, you control it with your will. You give it power.”
“Where did it come from?”
“Faery. It was made for and can only be used by fairies. It is a devastatingly powerful weapon.”
“Who was the guy?” She turned the knife over in her hands. It sure didn’t look devastatingly powerful.
“My son, Dermot,” he said gravely.
“My grand-uncle that’s working with the bad guys? Why the hell didn’t you mention he and Jason could be twins? That kind of information could keep a girl alive, you know!”
“I didn’t realize it would be important.”
“Anything else you want to fill me in on?” She struggled to keep irritation out of her voice.
“If you see him again, kill him. Use the knife,” Niall replied. “It’s either you or him.”
“Kill him? Are you nuts? What if it’s my brother?” She couldn’t wrap her brain around a brutal command like that.
“Make sure he’s not your brother and then kill him. Be careful. Forces are moving faster than I anticipated. I must go.”
“Wait…” she said, but it was too late. The line disconnected. She hung up the pay phone and held the fairy knife in her hand. She drove home on autopilot, her mind going over the details of the previous night. She decided to tell Eric as soon as the sun went down. She guessed he wouldn’t be happy about it.
She spent the rest of the day helping Gran around the house and pulling weeds in the garden. When night approached, Gran left Sookie to work the front flowerbed so she could make dinner.
While Sookie took a break to enjoy a tall, cold glass of lemonade, footsteps came up behind her from the back porch.
“How’s dinner coming?” she said, waiting for Gran to call her in.
“I’m going to enjoy killing you for my master,” a slippery voice said.
Sookie, still crouched on the ground, spun around and launched the remaining lemonade in her glass at him while she tried to pull the knife from her pocket.
“It burns!” he screamed, scratching at his smoking face, tearing into his flesh with his needle-like fingernails.
In the split second it took her to get to her feet, he had her by the neck. His fingers crushing her windpipe. She scrambled against him, trying to pry them off, but his skin was too slimy. She tried to scream, but nothing came out. Stars twinkled behind her eyelids as her brain started to shut down. No. I’m not going to die. Not like this.
A wave of adrenaline shot through her, guiding her hand out of her pocket. She willed the knife open, the wicked blade shaking as she swung at him. She aimed for his shoulder, and steadied her hand with the thought: it’s him or me. I choose me.
He shrieked and then her hand sank inside the hole the knife had made. His grip loosened, but he didn’t let her go. She clung onto consciousness and watched in horror as his body melted, the blade creating a chain reaction of decomposition. His fingers disintegrated moments after his arms. Sookie gasped for air. He opened his mouth to scream again, but nothing came out. His throat and jaw vanished. His beautiful eyes opened wide with dismay and then they disappeared too, followed quickly by his pointed ears and long hair.
All that remained was a sparkling pile of dust.
Still panting, Sookie didn’t have time to recover when three more fairies rushed toward her. “Stay back!” she croaked, lunging toward them with her tiny knife.
They stopped simultaneously and then one of them stepped forward. “Put your weapon down. We are friends.”
“How do I know?” She wheezed, afraid she might pass out at any minute. The three fairies looked nearly identical, except one was a man wearing a cowboy hat. They all had long, flowing dark hair, chocolaty almond-shaped eyes, and creamy white skin. “Who are you?”
“Claudine,” the woman said, bowing slightly. “My sister Claudette, and brother Claude. We are Niall’s grandchildren.” She gave Sookie a radiant smile.
Sookie’s hand relaxed a little, but the blade remained out, held there by her will. “If you’re Niall’s kin, why is he dressed like a gigolo?”
Claude stepped forward and crossed his arms over his perfect sculpted chest, making the fringe on his cuffs hang across his abs. He wore a matching fringed bikini bottom and a pair of cowboy boots. “I’m an entertainer!”
Sookie laughed, raw and full of nervous energy. “So you’re telling me that fairies are all around these parts working as strippers?”
Claude turned to his sisters and said, “I’m not going to put up with this shit. I need to be on stage in ten minutes.” He stormed away and after a few steps into her backyard, disappeared.
“Whoa! Is there a portal in my yard?”
Claudine and Claudette smiled in unison. “Yes. That’s how we got here so quickly. Niall mentioned you might be in danger, so we’ve been observing you all day, just in case. Truth be told, I’ve been watching over you for quite some time. Who do you think woke you up when you fell asleep at the wheel while driving home from work last year?” Claudine asked. “It’s nice to finally get accolades for it.”
“Thanks, I guess.” Sookie’s arm relaxed slightly. “If you were watching, who was the guy that attacked me?”
“Murry. He worked for Breandan,” Claudette answered. Her eyes were slightly wider apart along with everything else, giving her features a warm and friendly appearance. “We are so sorry we didn’t get here sooner.”
“Not that she needed our help!” Claudine added. “Where did you get that knife?” She eyed it warily.
“Dermot left it here last night.”
Claudette’s mouth fell open. “Did you kill him too?”
“No. I thought he was my brother, so I just talked to him for a while.”
Claudine frowned. “And then what?”
“He left, without even saying goodbye, which seemed weird for my brother, because he never leaves without eating first. I didn’t know they looked so much alike.”
“Why would he left his knife behind?” Claudette asked. “May I see it?”
Sookie narrowed her eyes, but before she could make up her mind to trust either of them, her gran poked her head out the back door.
“Honey, dinner’s read—” She froze mid-sentence when she saw the three of them. “I didn’t realize you had friends over,” she said when she got her composure back. The scent of fried chicken and mashed potatoes surrounded them.
Sookie wasn’t finished talking to the fairies, so she said, “This is Claudine and Claudette, they just popped in to say hi. This is my gran, Adele Stackhouse. Gran, can you give me a minute?” she asked.
Gran waved her hand. “Nonsense. I made plenty. Come and eat, girls. Any friend of Sookie’s is a friend of mine.”
Claudette clapped her hands lightly and hooked her arm with her sisters, tugging her toward the house. Claudine smiled wide. “I do love fried chicken,” she said before she glanced at Sookie. “May we join you, Sookie?”
Everyone looked at her, making her hot under the collar. “Sure. I guess.” She followed them inside, taking one last look at the pile of shiny dust near her flowerbed. “I’m covered in … dirt,” she said. “I’m going to wash up.”
Alone in the bathroom, she cleaned the trace of dark fairy blood and glittery dust off her neck. By the time she stepped into the kitchen, her hands had stopped shaking.
While they ate, Sookie kept one hand on the knife, just in case Claudine or Claudette tried anything funny.
Claudine talked about everything and anything, filling the kitchen with pleasant chatter while they ate. “Mrs. Stackhouse, you are a wonderful cook.” She licked her fingers.
Claudette added, “Oh yes, this is the best meal I’ve had all week.”
Gran grinned from ear to ear. “Well I’m happy I could feed ya’ll. Oh,” she said, looking at Sookie. “I forgot. Your young man is on his way. He called while I was in the middle of dipping chicken, so I got to listen to his message. Something about having something to show you.”
Claudine and Claudette exchanged looks and then smiled politely at Gran. “Thank you so much for dinner. We must be going,” Claudine said, pushing away from the table.
“You have to leave so soon? We didn’t finish talking,” Sookie said.
“Walk us outside?” Claudette pointed to the back door.
While still clutching the knife in her pocket, she followed them outside. “I’ll get those dishes cleaned up in a minute, Gran. Take a load off, okay?”
Claudine and Claudette headed toward the spot in the woods where Claude had disappeared. “We can’t be here when he arrives. You understand?”
“Yes. Vampires are very dangerous to fairies,” Sookie said before she stopped and looked at them both, cutting to the chase. “Tell me what’s going on.”
“Breandan has sent two assassins to kill you. They both failed.”
“Dermot didn’t try to kill me, we talked. He was nice.”
“Why did he have a knife then?” Claudine asked, looking at Sookie’s hand in her pocket, where she still held it. “Breandan will try again. Come with us. We’ll keep you safe.”
“No offense, but I don’t know you well enough to feel safe around you.” Just as Sookie finished talking, Eric’s car purred down the long driveway.
“You shouldn’t stay here. Go somewhere safe,” Claudette said as she stepped one foot in the portal, making it disappear.
“I can’t leave. My gran…”
“He’s not after your gran. He’s coming to get you,” Claudine warned before she pushed her sister into the portal and followed her.
With a whoosh, Eric came up beside her, sniffing the air, his eyes dark and hungry. “I just missed them, didn’t I?” He reached a hand out and passed it right through the fairy entryway and growled.
“How can you feel it?” she asked.
Eric didn’t answer her with words. He pushed her up against a nearby tree and buried his face in her hair before licking her neck.
Sookie fought the lust rising inside her as his hands kneaded her ass. “Simmer down, Eric. I need to tell you something.”
“But you smell so good,” he said pouting.
“I was visited by another fairy tonight.”
“I can taste them on your skin.” He sucked and licked his way down her neck and onto her shoulder before reaching inside her shirt to cup her breast.
“Eric!” she scolded. “One of them attacked me.”
He pulled away and searched her body for signs of a fight. Worry covered his face.
She breathed heavily and swallowed hard as she repositioned her clothes. “Apparently, two fairies have tried to get me in the last twenty-four hours.”
He opened his mouth and growled, baring his fangs.
She took his hand and pulled him toward the house. “Look.” She tapped the glittery heap with the toe of her shoe.
“You killed it?”
“Him,” she corrected in a whisper. “Murry.”
Eric narrowed his eyes. “I’ve fought Murry before. He’s a formidable opponent.” He looked at her. “How did you kill him?”
“With this,” she pulled her hand out of her pocket and showed him the fairy knife.
He eyed the woods nervously. “We need to go inside.”
Sookie nodded and walked into the house. Gran sat in the front room, her eyes glued to the loud T.V., seemingly oblivious to their presence. Sookie motioned for Eric to follow her into her bedroom and then she closed the door behind them.
“Where did you get that?” he asked, keeping his voice hushed.
“From the fairy sent to kill me last night. Although it didn’t seem like an attempt on my life, I guess that’s what it was. Niall’s son, Dermot, looks just like my brother Jason, so I just talked him, but when he left, I found this.” She held it out to him and once it was in his hand, she said, “You have to—” She gasped as the blade opened. “How did you…?”
“It feels like mine,” he said, pulling a square piece of metal out of his pocket, putting it in her hand. “Can you feel it?”
She nodded. The piece made her palm warm with the tiny pulses of energy coming off it, just like knife. “Where did you get this?”
“My father’s crown.” He stared at the knife making the blade appear and disappear over and over.
“That’s a fairy knife. Niall said it was made by fairies and only fairies could use it. That we gave it power.”
“Controlled by intention. Interesting.” He turned the blade toward his palm and Sookie shrieked when he pierced his skin.
“Eric! No!” She watched in horror, waiting for his hand to disintegrate, but nothing happened. The wound closed and Eric licked the blood off. “When I stabbed him, he … melted. Why didn’t it happen to you?”
“Because I didn’t intend harm,” he answered matter-of-fact. “That was a gift from a fairy,” he said, nodding to the carved piece in her hand. “A gift from my grandfather to my grandmother before she died giving birth to my father.”
“Wait a minute. You’re a fairy too?” She slumped on the edge of her bed. “Oh god, please don’t tell me we’re related.”
“We’re not related. I’m Breandan’s grandson,” he whispered.
Her mouth fell open. “What? Seriously? The guy who’s trying to kill me?” She turned the medallion over in her hand and followed the fine engraving with her fingertip. It was similar to the handle of the knife.
“I had no idea until last night.”
“What about Breandan?”
Eric shook his head. “Only you and Pam know. The last time I saw him was a century ago, when Niall hired Pam and I to help him stop a war between water and sky. He’s ruthless. Cold. Calculating. But above all else, he’s unpredictable.” His face filled with awe and fear.
“And he’s got his sights on me. Great.” She buried her face in her hands.
“You’re not safe here. He will try again.”
“That’s what Claudine told me.” She looked at him. “Do you know them? Niall’s grandkids?”
His fangs ran out and his eyes glazed over.
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
Eventually, he snapped out of it. “We should go. Pack your things.”
Sookie crossed her arms over her chest. “I’m not leaving my home.”
“Niall is planning a meeting with Breandan. You need protection, and I can’t keep you safe here.”
She snatched the knife out of his hand and thrust it into her pocket. “I can protect myself!” She lifted her chin defiantly.
“And if Breandan comes for you? Then what?” He shook his head and gathered her in his arms. “I love you too much to lose you. Please,” he begged. “Come with me.” He kissed her then, bathing her in love.
“You drive a hard bargain,” she murmured against his lips. “Fine. I’ll go with you, but only until Niall gets things taken care of. I don’t like leaving my gran alone.” She pulled away from him and started gathering clothes out of her closet and dresser. She paused when she touched her battered jeans, stained with bleach. “What am I going to do about work?”
“You’re going on vacation. That’s what you’re going to tell them.”
“Beth can work with someone else for a while. It’s not safe for you to be out during the day.”
Her shoulders fell. “Fine.” She opened an old piece of luggage and stacked her clothes inside. “I’m going on vacation. But I’m going to do the dishes before we go.”
She turned on her heal and faced him, hands on her hips, defiantly. “I’m going to do the dishes. I promised.”
Eric nodded at her and left her in the kitchen, slipping outside with her luggage.
“Oh Eric, I didn’t realize you were here,” Gran said from the front room.
Sookie leaned away from the sink just in time to see Eric squat in front of Gran, taking both of her hands as if they were having a serious discussion. She dropped the sponge and sprinted into the room, but it was too late.
“You just glamoured her, didn’t you?” Soapy water dripped from her fingertips onto the worn floor.
Eric released his grip on Gran’s hands and stood. “Yes. She mustn’t suspect you’re at my house. I also just told her to stay with your brother, since you’re so worried about her.”
“But if someone’s watching the portal, they’ll know you were here with me.”
“And, if anyone asks, your grandmother is going to tell them I’ve taken you on a cruise. To the Caribbean.”
Sookie smiled. “I’ve always wanted to go on a cruise.”
“So it will be the perfect cover.”
“You don’t think Breandan will be smart enough to come looking at your house?”
“He’ll find us, eventually. And when he does, I’ll be ready for him.”
You can see why I changed the Fae heritage now, right? 🙂 On to Up All Night: Chapter 18