For one of the very rare times in over a thousand years, I was completely and irrevocably without the ability to speak.
Hell, I couldn’t even think of anything to say let alone actually form words.
So, I just stared at her.
And she stared back.
She was obviously waiting for my reaction.
Yet, I stood as still as a statue and devoid of any real chain of thought.
Of all the possibilities I had considered when trying to ascertain her secret, I never even would have dreamed this was possible.
The only coherent thought going through my mind was the ever-helpful phrase –
‘What the fuck?’
Other than that question, my mind was a jumble of words like: impossible, sexy, dangerous, beautiful, hunted, powerful, secret, protect, how, and target.
I don’t know how long we stood staring at each other before she retracted her fangs and started walking back down the beach. I’m not sure how I managed it, but I put one foot in front of the other and fell into step beside her. I was in a daze.
Sookie startled me when she started speaking again. Her voice was back to the detached tone she had used earlier in our walk.
“When I saw Belinda dead in my arms, I screamed as loud as I could. The two royal guards that were stationed outside my suite came rushing in and my guardian, Claudine, popped into the room. I can remember everything that happened next, but at the time I felt like a bystander in my own body. I had no control.”
My brain was starting to catch up with her revelation and I understood exactly what she was talking about. She was explaining her feelings in the same way a newborn vampire would describe bloodlust. Hunger, pure instinct, no restraint.
“Without a word, I lunged for the fairy guards. They smelled wonderful. I took the first one by surprise and drained him while Claudine and the other guard yelled at me to stop. They were unable to get to me. Afterward, we realized it was my cloak or barrier that kept them away, but at the time I didn’t even think about it. I was still visible but untouchable. When I was done with the first guard, I went after the second one. I didn’t have a weapon and he did. He defended himself well, but again my magic took over. I became invisible and attacked him from behind. Claudine continued to yell at me to stop but she couldn’t get near me and none of her spells affected me.”
“Feeling both Claudine’s distress and my new bloodlust, Niall, Claude, and Claudette all popped in a few second later as I was dropping my cloak and finishing the second guard.”
When Sookie stopped speaking for a moment, I realized I had regained my ability to communicate.
“What happened next, Sookie?” I asked her softly.
“I looked at the bloodshed in the room and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I saw the blood dripping down my mouth and onto my chest. I stared at the fangs in my mouth while my family stared at me. Eventually, the silence was broken when I collapsed into hysterical sobs.”
“You didn’t attack your family?” If she didn’t, then this was surprising. Even if she were no longer thirsty, a newborn would not be able to resist a full-blooded fairy.
“No.” She shook her head slightly. “It’s my one saving grace and we don’t know why, but it seems that I don’t have any desire to feed on someone that shares my blood. So, my family is safe.” Her relief was palpable.
After a couple of moments of silence, I saw Sookie glance at me to see how I was taking everything she had revealed.
“No questions, Sheriff?”
“I thought it best to let you finish the story before asking anything.” I said reasonably and then continued after a slight pause. “I assume the political clean-up after the slaughter in your room was most unpleasant.”
Sookie visibly blanched when I mentioned the slaughter and I chastised myself for my word choice. Then I berated myself for chastising myself. Why should I give a damn about her feelings?
Maybe manipulating emotions was another talent of hers. Even if it was, however, I didn’t have any way of confirming it. If I asked her, then I would have to reveal I was feeling something other than my normal callousness and that was NOT going to happen.
“I don’t know much about the politics and clean-up.” Sookie whispered as she looked down at her feet as we continued our meandering walk along the beach. “Grandfather took me in his arms and we all teleported to the penthouse I’m staying in now. It’s a safe house we keep in this realm. After they were assured I wasn’t going to attack them, Claudine and Claudette helped me bathe and dress while the Prince left to Faery with Claude to handle the clean-up of my mess and the cover story.”
“You didn’t even care to ask about how your actions were explained or the ramifications of your change? It’s been a week.” I challenged indignantly. I thought she was more responsible than her actions portrayed.
“I’ll admit I’ve been . . . distracted . . . hell, I’ve been selfish.” You could hear the self-loathing in her voice. “Niall has been working on the politics in Faery and he’s been giving me items to work on here while we finalize an alliance.”
“In other words, you’ve been avoiding the consequences.”
Sookie’s eyes flashed with rage and her fangs snapped into place as she turned to take a step towards me. I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful she was in all her glory.
“Avoid the consequences!” She shrieked at me. “Tell me almighty Sheriff how I can avoid the consequences because I would take the opportunity in a heartbeat?”
She stepped towards me again until our bodies were only separated by a few inches. “I’ve killed my best friend of eighteen years and two loyal guards. I’ve drained at least one person nightly since my birthday because I can’t control myself and neither can anyone else. Whenever my vampire self decides she wants blood, she doesn’t want it from a bottle! So, instead, my magic kicks in and finds a human to drink from. Iron and silver do not work on me so my family can’t contain me. I do not have a Maker to show me how to stop or command me to stop when I should. It is no longer safe for me in Faery so I can never return home. I will be replaced as Niall’s heir. I have more than likely lost the ability to have children. My existence is a danger to all Fairies and I have to see the disappointment, fear, and worry on my family’s face every time I see them. So, tell me again Eric how much I’m avoiding the consequences!”
Sookie shook with her anger throughout her speech but the tears also started to fall. I don’t think she realized she had started to cry until she finished speaking. Once she did, she quickly turned away from me and back towards the water in order to roughly wipe away the tears.
As much as I hated to admit it – and I never would admit it to anyone but myself – I felt compelled to comfort her. In many ways, she was a newborn vampire. Lost, confused, and angry. Normally, I would add scared to the list, but this woman in front of me didn’t seem to have the word fear in her vocabulary.
I really needed to stop feeling things around her.
But I had always hated to see a woman cry.
I sighed and stepped up behind her. I placed my hands on her hips and whispered softly.
“That is why you seemed so reserved and different when you returned to my office tonight, isn’t it?” I asked. “You left with your cousin and drained someone in your bloodlust which remained from the fight with the wolves?”
She sniffed lightly as she nodded curtly.
I had to begrudgingly admit to myself that I felt bad for her. Without a Maker, she had no one to explain things to her about feeding and other items of wisdom that Makers passed on to their children in order to help them adapt. I’m sure her family was trying to help but with her powers and apparently her immunity to silver and iron, they would be powerless to stop her.
Thinking about a Maker’s responsibility brought up a very important question. “Sookie, do you know how you’ve managed to become a human, fairy, vampire hybrid?”
“Are you sure you want to know?” Her tone was dark and held a warning. “There’s no going back once you know. Marriage, blood oath, or final death are the only options.”
I dropped my hands from her hips and stepped back. She turned around to face me as I responded.
“Didn’t we already establish that?” My tone was curt.
“Yes, but I haven’t told you yet so I wanted to give you one more chance to change your mind.” Sensing my confusion she explained further. “It will be hard to hide what I am from the world forever. It will get out.” I nodded in agreement. “However, the how of my tri-hybrid status is the secret that will be protected at all costs. The truth puts all fairies and fairy hybrids at risk.”
“As I said before, I will either agree to the alliance or take the oath.” I responded firmly.
Curiosity killed the cat or so human’s say. I wonder if the same goes for vampires.
“Fine.” Sookie and I started walking again as she told her fateful story.
“Niall told my cousins and I the story I’m about to tell you after he returned from Faery on the night of my birthday. He said the only other beings that knew the story were my late grandfather, Fintan, and Dr. Ludwig.”
I wasn’t surprised at the mention of Dr. Ludwig. She was the best supernatural physician and she had developed magic that kept her from divulging patients’ secrets. It was why I used her for my retinue’s purposes when needed.
“My mother and father were both biologically one-quarter fairy. My father was Niall’s grandson and was raised knowing about the fairy side of the family. However, he did not have the spark. My father, Corbett, only inherited the good looks and appeal of the Fae. My mother was the same way except Patricia didn’t know about her fairy heritage until after she met my father’s family. Her parents died when she was a child and no one was around to tell her. Fintan recognized her as part-Fae and told her of her background. Soon after my parents were married, they had Jason and, as you’ve seen, he does not have the spark either.”
Sookie paused for a moment in her story and a bottle of blood appeared in her hand. I must have shown my surprise because she shrugged and said, “I’m thirsty and there’s no need to hide it now. Would you like one?”
I shook my head in answer and in awe. Marriage or not. She was an amazing creature.
“Suit yourself.” Sookie said nonchalantly as she drained her bottle of blood and ‘poofed’ the bottle away before continuing her story.
“A few years later, my parents decided they wanted to have another child and started trying to have another baby. They had been trying for a couple of months when my mother disappeared.”
Sookie seemed to collect her thoughts for a moment before continuing. “On the first day, my father was worried about car accidents or other human aliments so he called the human authorities. By the second day, he realized he should contact the fairy side of the family to see if they could find her. However, communication between the realms isn’t instantaneous and it was the third day before Niall and Fintan came to see him with a couple of royal guards. They asked him if they had an argument or if anything else seemed wrong, but he said everything was perfect. He told them they had a wonderful evening while Jason stayed at Gran’s for the weekend and he shared with them that they were trying to have a baby. My mother had told him she was going to go to Monroe to browse at the baby stores the next evening since he was going bowling with his friends from work the following night.”
“She was taken at night?” The question slipped out but it was fairly obvious by now that a vampire had taken her mother.
“Yes.” She agreed. “Niall had to return to Faery but he left two guards to accompany Fintan on his search for my mother.”
Sookie’s heartbeat was speeding up so I knew we were coming to the end of her story.
“When Fintan found her, she was being held by a vampire in a small home on the state line with Mississippi. He had raped her, bonded her to him, and shackled her to his bed. My grandfather told Niall that he was very sadistic and said the vampire told him he took what he wanted. She was unclaimed and smelled almost as sweet as she tasted.” Sookie let out a shuddered breath. “Fintan gave the vampire his final death, cleaned up my mother, and decided it would be best if she didn’t remember anything. Niall agreed so they worked magic to cover-up her absence so my father and Gran didn’t even remember my mother was gone. Worried about family disgrace, they also ended the two fairy guards that had accompanied Fintan to find my mother.”
I made a small sound of disgust and Sookie’s eyes shot to mine.
“I know. I don’t agree with rewarding a loyal subject with death either.”
I was surprised she questioned her family’s decisions and I said so.
“No one’s infallible. My grandfather and I have had several disagreements on similar subjects, but that’s a different story.”
I was really become annoyed at how much respect I was feeling for this little fairy.
Before I was too lost in my ruminations, Sookie finished her story.
“A few week’s later, my mother and father announced they were having a baby. Neither my grandfather nor Fintan considered any ramifications on the pregnancy from my mother’s abduction. However, as I aged and showed stronger than average magical skills and strength, not to mention my telepathy, they started questioning the effects of the vampire blood on my powers. When I was two, they took me to see Dr. Ludwig.”
“After doing several test, the good doctor concluded that the fertilization of my mother’s egg by my father’s sperm occurred during the time when she was being held captive by the vampire and receiving his blood for the bonding.” I stopped walking and just stared at her.
“What are you saying?”
“A human male’s sperm can stay viable in a woman for a couple of days and vampire blood doesn’t travel in a human’s body in the same way as human blood does. Dr. Ludwig believes that some of the vampire’s blood seeped into the egg with my father’s sperm. Therefore, it became a part of my growth even though I was still biologically the child of my mother and father.” She finished her biology lesson sounding like a high school teacher.
I considered her words for a moment before trying to pull all the information I had gained tonight together into one package.
“So, on your birthday?” I prompted her to help me tie it all into a nice pretty, complicated package that should never really be unwrapped.
“Niall said they had no way to predict this would happen.” She shook her head sadly. “Obviously, it’s never happened before and I hadn’t shown any signs of turning. I’ve always been stronger both physically and magically, but the only other difference I had was my telepathy, which my grandfather said he knew of a couple of vampires with telepathic skills.”
I nodded my head in agreement. The Queen of Louisiana could communicate telepathically with her children.
“They all thought they had seen all of the implications of the vampire blood play out and didn’t expect any other ramifications.” She sighed. “After speaking with Dr. Ludwig about what has happened, the assumption is my surge of magic at my maturity activated the remaining dormant magic of the vampire blood when the sun set that night. Since the vampire blood was there at my conception, it is as much a part of me as my mother’s egg and my father’s sperm. Therefore, my tri-hybrid state.”
We had been standing still as we talked for the last several minutes and I admit I just continued to stare at her. I had learned so much tonight. She was right that there was no going back from the knowledge I had gained.
“If vampires knew this they would kidnap fairy females to breed and bond with hoping to time it correctly to create a tri-hybrid child and then take their powerful children for their own purposes.” I concluded aloud.
“The fairy purists will have a single minded focus to end your life.”
“Vampires will want to control you to control your power and the Prince.”
“The alliance is to protect your life.”
“You need a relationship with a vampire in order to construct a plausible lie that will not endanger other fairies and will explain your current hybrid status.”
Before I could say another word, Sookie got a distracted look on her face for a moment and then sighed.
“Niall is calling us back. Our time is up.” She explained sadly as she held her hand out for me to take so she could teleport us back to my office to finish the negotiations with the Prince.
The real question was: Did I want to continue the negotiations now that I knew their secrets and the enemies I was gaining?