I woke up around noon and headed into the kitchen for much needed coffee. I stopped in my tracks, however, when I saw Claudine and another woman sitting on the deck. She seemed to sense my presence and suddenly there was a cup of coffee and a bagel with cream cheese on a plate sitting on the counter in front of me. Claudine grinned at me, and I headed to the deck with my food.
“Hello, cousin. I wasn’t expecting you,” I said after my first sip of caffeine.
“I know, Sookie, but it’s time for your first lesson.” I must have looked a little startled, because she continued right away, “You don’t have to come with me for this one, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“Oh, okay. Um, hi,” I said to her friend. “I’m Sookie.”
She smiled. “I’m Adalia. Nice to meet you.”
Claudine laughed a little. “Remember the fairy statue Niall said was in your front yard in Bon Temps?” I nodded. “Well, since you haven’t been staying there, we moved her here.”
I nodded again and Adalia stood to leave. Now I was confused, “Wait, are you the statue? I mean, you just turn into a statue and wait in the front yard?”
She grinned, “Pretty much. Until you need me.”
“Okay, that has to suck.”
“It’s a special assignment. I am honored I was chosen to protect you.”
I still wasn’t sure that anyone could enjoy being a statue for weeks or months on end, but I guess if they went into a ‘downtime’ like the vamps did, it might not be so bad.
“Adalia is here to help us with your first lesson.”
“Okay.” This was all so completely foreign to me. I had no idea what fairy lessons would be like. “What are we going to do?”
“I’m getting tired of masking your smell for you, so it’s time you learned to do it yourself.”
“It’s pretty basic, Sookie. You’ll just have to practice.”
“No. What do you mean you’ve been masking my smell? I didn’t think it had changed that much. I mean, the other vampires haven’t really reacted to it….”
“Constant cloaking, cousin. Thanks to me. And it’s getting to be spring, which is sort of a busy time in my realm, so I need you to figure out how to take care of yourself, in terms of your scent at least.”
“I thought…But…How? I mean –”
“Sookie, Seamus even sent me a message to step up my game and train you to do it yourself.”
“He did say I smelled like you.”
“Ha! He would! Anyway, it’s time to teach you to smell all,” she paused and made a face, “Blah. Human. Are you ready?”
“Yeah, I guess so. Is it like magic or something?”
“It’s just…fairy. You have to remember, the Fae incantations are never spoken aloud like the chants Amelia does. Our history must be protected. So I’ll show you the phrase and you have to concentrate and try to connect with the Fae realm and then repeat the phrase twice.”
“Yeah, let’s see if you can connect with the Fae at all. Think something at Adalia.”
My cousin Claudine is crazy.
Adalia tilted her head a second and then shook her head. “Okay, I heard a mumbling. Close your eyes and concentrate. Not on where I’m sitting, but on communicating with me.”
My cousin Claudine is crazy. It took three or four tries, but she laughed.
And she’ll kick your ass with the snap of her finger!”She grinned. “Good job, Sookie! You’ll have to concentrate very hard to make sure you get through to the Fae.”
“I guess I’m confused. Claudine, you and Niall always said you’d come for me if I called. You didn’t say I had to concentrate.”
“That’s because we’re blood, Sookie. The message you’re sending is on a different frequency, if you will. It has to get above the familial communication lines to be heard by the powers that be to work.”
“So how will I know if it works or wears off? I mean, before I get eaten by a vampire.”
Claudine closed her eyes and Adalia laughed at me a little. “You’ll just know. You’ll feel it.”
“I haven’t felt it when you’ve been doing it to me.”
“Did you think I wanted you to?”
“Umm… I don’t know. Why wouldn’t you?”
“Cousin, you are suspicious, mind you it’s usually warranted, and you’re sensitive. What would you have done if you felt me shielding you?”
“I would have freaked out and told Eric something was wrong.”
“Exactly. So let’s get to it. I’ll show you the phrase you need, and you can practice a few times.”
After about an hour, I was getting exhausted and having only moderate success. Claudine and Adalia had laughed at me off and on, but I could tell Claudine was beginning to get worried. We decided to take a break and she materialized a book she said I should read. I figured she would give me “Fae Magic for Dummies” or something, but it was just a leather bound black book. As I opened it, sure enough, it was a more sophisticated version of the For Dummies series.
The book gave a brief history of Fae and Fairy culture and contained information on the basic skills even a partial fairy should be able to master. Scent Transmutation was listed as a beginner task. Nice. I couldn’t even do that. Other things I would eventually, hopefully, be able to do included Particle Manipulation, Individual Mobility, and Atmospheric Influence. It all seemed a little too Harry Potter for me, but Claudine suggested I not worry about how difficult things seemed and focus on the fact that genetically I was more than capable, and my being nervous was just self-defeating. Easy for her to say.
She went out front to talk with Adalia for a while and left me in the backyard enjoying the sun, flipping through the book and drinking an endless cup of coffee. I was feeling pretty down about my Fae abilities and worried that I wouldn’t get the hang of things. I mean, I knew Claudine would keep helping me, but if this was supposed to be easy I was in big trouble.
The two goddess-like fairies came around to the back of the house, laughing together and the sun glinted off their hair. They really were amazing creatures. We talked for a little longer, and Claudine said she would be back the next day. They made me promise to keep trying, although Claudine was going to be on alert and promised to mask my scent if needed, and they headed off in opposite directions. Adalia to her post in the front garden and Claudine, well, she just disappeared as she walked away.
By then it was around 3 p.m., and I was hungry for lunch. I made a chicken salad and found some fruit. When I came back to the kitchen after showering, someone was buzzing the keypad at the front gate. I checked the monitor and it wasn’t anyone I recognized. I tried to read his thoughts, but they were muddled. Shifter.
I pushed the button on the intercom. “Can I help you?”
“Hello, ma’am. I hope you can help. I’m looking for Sookie Stackhouse or Eric Northman.”
I had been around Eric long enough to know better than to confirm or deny anything without additional information. “And this is regarding?”
I saw him smile; he probably didn’t realize there was a camera in the monitor. “Alcide sent me. I’m his cousin, Luc. He said it was best if I spoke to Miss Stackhouse, but that the message needed to get to the gentleman.”
“I see, and where is Alcide?”
“Ahh, that’s why I’m here ma’am,” he paused and shifted around a little and cleared his throat. “My cousin is in jail.”
Shit. “Come on up.”
I met him at the door and saw his nostrils flare through the glass. I closed my eyes and recited the chant Claudine had taught me.
Blessed be the Fairy Kings – the Earth, the wind the water. Mask my scent, but hold my heart, protect your loving daughter.
I repeated the chant and opened my eyes. Luc was standing there pursing his eyebrows, and I knew, rather I felt, that he couldn’t smell fairy anymore. He looked a little like Alcide, but you could never be too sure. Eric had taught me that. I cracked the door, but left the chain hooked and asked to see his ID. It read Lucien Herveaux and gave his address as Oil City, Louisiana. Before I could ask, he handed me a note from Alcide.
In his chicken scratch handwriting, Alcide explained he had been arrested under suspicion of involvement in the attack on Fangtasia. The police had seen him around the building the day after the attack and had flagged his license plate. They had seen his car outside or driving near the bar several times in the next few days, and since he did not have any jobs on record that were anywhere near Fangtasia, they were suspicious. They were also just generally suspicious of Alcide based on his history. I shivered as I remembered the dead body he and I were found with a couple of years ago. Yeah, that hadn’t done good things for his reputation.
Barry had told the police that Alcide was a friend to the bar, but because they had not been able to speak with Eric, they insisted on holding Alcide for questioning. I had a feeling Eric would want to make him suffer, but hoped I could convince him to contact the police immediately. He would be waking shortly, and I knew he would want to hear the story from Luc himself.
I smiled as I read the last line of the note, Don’t let that bastard make me wait too long. I shook my head a little and invited Luc in.
We sat at the dining table drinking sweet tea and waiting for Eric. I felt him wake up and stretch, his mind to figure out why I wasn’t in bed with him, naked. Horny vampire. I made sure he understood we had company, but was not shocked to see him come out of the bedroom in nothing but a pair of unbuttoned jeans. He grabbed a True Blood from the refrigerator and put it in the microwave before acknowledging our guest.
“Were,” he growled. “I smelled you from the other room. What can I do for you?”
Luc introduced himself, and Eric sat with a groan as the Were began to explain Alcide’s situation. When he finished, Eric was angry but still amused by the thought of Packmaster Herveaux behind bars.
“So let me get this straight, Barry explained to the police that he was speaking on my behalf and they still arrested your cousin?”
“Yeah. Apparently, no one felt they could risk believing Barry. They felt that if he wasn’t really speaking for you that they would all be dead, or wish they were.”
Eric grinned a little at that, but continued, “Do you know if Barry showed them documentation of his status as my daytime man?”
“No, sir. I’m not privy to that kind of information. I just know they spoke to Barry more than once.”
Stupid bloodbags, he thought. “Sookie, it is a miracle your human police ever solve a crime.”
“Yes, well,” I said with a shrug. “What are you going to do for Alcide?”
Eric shook his head and flipped open his cell phone as he said, “I’m calling the local vampire detective to see where he’s buried his common sense.” After a few seconds, he began speaking in super-fast vampire voice, and I had no idea what he was saying. He would pause occasionally and I would hear maybe the first word as he started into another tirade. There were a lot of “No’s,” and a few “Never’s” throughout the conversation. Then suddenly, he closed his phone and it was over.
He didn’t look like he was going to explain, so I had to ask, “OK, what did you find out?”
He sighed. “Eben, the vamp detective that consults with Shreveport P.D., was out of town over the weekend. By the time he got back to town, the police had decided Alcide was a good suspect no matter how many times he explained to them that they needed to listen to Barry before Alcide or I sued them.”
“Will they release him now?” Luc asked, seeming hopeful.
“He’ll be out first thing in the morning. All charges will be dropped and nothing will appear on his record. Eben asked me to have Barry fax over the document indicating he is my daytime man so it can kept on file for Fangtasia.”
Luc was relieved, but I knew Eric had not even asked to get Alcide out any sooner. Ah, well, we had enough going on dealing with the David debacle (word of the day – how fitting?). Luc thanked Eric several times and left quickly. I’d never met him before, but Weres and vampires were not the best of friends on any occasion, so I was sure he just wanted to get out of there. Eric chuckled at his hasty retreat, but didn’t do anything to encourage him to stay.
I stood and went to sit on Eric’s lap, putting my arms around him and feeling the tension in his shoulders dissolve. He sighed and held me in his arms. “Lover,” he said quietly, “I swear our lives will not always be this complicated.”
I laughed and kissed his neck. “Sure thing, Sheriff.”
He shook his head as he chuckled and then was pulling my shirt over my head when the doorbell rang. I had recently realized that some people didn’t have to use the intercom at the gate, and Eric explained that Bill, Pam and Barry had the combination. However Barry and Pam were the only ones who could get into the house itself.
So with the doorbell ringing, I figured it was Bill. Eric was muttering as he walked over to answer the door. Sure enough, he opened the door and Bill came into the house, giving me a nasty look because I’m sure he could smell my desire for Eric. But he kept his mouth shut and took a seat at the table across from me.
He gave a report on Gill’s business holdings and his key employees and guards. But the biggest news was that he had discovered who David’s maker was, and he was on his way to Shreveport. Apparently, his name was Gordy and he was living in Northern Michigan but had no idea that David was still alive. He had called for him twice, but when he didn’t come he figured the bad feeling he had in his blood confirmed that his child was dead. When Gordy found out David was alive and that he was in need of him, he had found someone to supervise his twenty-four hour coffee and doughnut shop in Manistique and was on his way.
Bill said he talked funny, saying, “Yah,” and “You betcha,” a lot but was expected by the next dusk. It seemed Gordy was pretty fired up. He told Bill that David was his kin and that Gill was a dirty city slicker that had earned what was coming to him.
Eric was grinning, and I was trying hard not to laugh. He had told me about a secret Supe getaway island up in Lake Superior, and we had watched “Escanaba in da Moonlight” so I could see how much snow there was up there. I had been most amazed, however, by the Yoopers, that’s what they called people from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, who are oddly similar to Cajuns. They appeared to be an amazingly hearty bunch who hunted, fished, camped, drank beer, lived and breathed hockey – and they were a breed apart. Yoopers looked out for their own and didn’t take well to trolls, people from below the Mackinac bridge, interfering. I could only imagine that a Yooper-vampire was super territorial, and Gill was about as big of a troll as you’d find.
David came in from his backyard resting place, and Eric explained to us that Bill would be staying at the house while he went to the bar to check on progress. They were planning to open the following night, and he wanted to be sure everything was ready.
I was debating what to do when Amelia called to say she was coming to take me out for dinner. Eric had smiled, and although I hadn’t asked for his approval, his acceptance was a welcome surprise. I changed clothes wondering if Amelia had a problem or if she was just lonely, but I knew I’d figure it out as soon as I got in the car; her mind was an open book.
I rode with Amelia to a restaurant owned by a witch she knew in Shreveport. Many of her friends had scattered after Katrina, and she hadn’t seen Saturnalia in quite a while. Amelia assured me that was really her name, and that it wasn’t one of those names that people make up for themselves during a crazy acid trip or something. The restaurant specialized in organic and vegetarian foods, but I was sure I could find something I liked. Amelia was trying to small talk about absolutely nothing, and finally, I just told her to stop because I knew there was something on her mind.
“Fine. I’ll just tell you, because I don’t want you peeking around in my head like you do,” she harrumphed. “It’s Sam. I’ve been working at the bar a lot, and I think he has a new girlfriend.”
“Well, that’s good.”
“Yes, but…Sookie, there’s something not right about her.”
Oh, Lord. I wanted Sam to be happy. “I’m sure it’s nothing.”
“It is not nothing. I mean, it’s something. She has the strangest aura I’ve ever encountered. I mean, Sam’s is kind of more animalistic than most, but I’ve seen that before. But this girl, she is off the charts weird.”
I grinned. “Okay, so she’s not right because she has a strange aura?”
“Yes. And I want you to come to Bon Temps and try to read her.”
With everything else I had going on, there was really no time for a trip to Merlotte’s. Not to mention I apparently wasn’t going unchaperoned any time soon. Maybe I could get Pam to come along. I had a feeling Sam was dating a new shifter and she just wasn’t reading right. Maybe she was purebred. Sam was going to be pissed, too if I went out there to listen to her. I was going to have to call him first and warn him so he didn’t think I was spying on him, but now she had me concerned or at least curious.
I sighed. “Amelia, if you’re really worried about it I’ll come out and give her a listen.”
“Oh, Sookie! You would do that?”
“Of course,” I said. Of course I will sift through one of my best friend’s new girlfriend’s minds. What are friends for? If I’ve learned nothing in the past few years, it’s that friends are some of the most important people in your life, and you have to do what you can to help them out. Although, I wasn’t sure if this favor would really be helping Amelia or Sam.
What the hell is the chapter title?
Say yah to da U.P., eh! is a fairly common bumper sticker in Michigan. It’s a parody of the “Say YES to Michigan” state tourism and shows an outline of the Upper Peninsula and the phrase, “Say yah to da U.P., eh!” It’s a take on the dialect that Upper Peninsula natives speak, which is influenced by Scandinavian and French-Canadian languages.
Also, I’m sure most of you caught the nod to Terri Botta’s Let Love In with the super secret Supe getaway in Northern Michigan. I figured if we were bringing down the Yooper, it had to be mentioned. If you haven’t read this story yet – what are you doing? It’s the story that got me interested in writing fanfiction and really, it’s how I wish things had gone between Sookie and Eric.