I’d often thought it would’ve been exciting to live through The Great Revelation partly because I had read so many stories about vamps that I’d always been more fascinated than fearful. Human society at that time had been presented with challenges that were utterly unique in all its history. We’d previously spent our entire existence finding reasons to hurt and abuse each other, but we’d made lots of progress learning to be accepting too. Humans were forced to shift that inward-only focus and were made to deal with no longer being top dog. I’d always believed we’d just thrown away the keys to utopia in favor of just plain being narrow and not wanting to change. I’d been sad that the vampires had been mostly killed and the few surviving were forced into solitude.
It turned out, I had been grossly misinformed.
They were not gone. They were so very not gone that I was kinda… pissed.
I had been very naive the night before (shocker!) when Pam and Eric were arguing over where we should stay.
He’d insisted that we would be less easily traced in place that didn’t have humans crawling all over it. To her horror (and, I admit, my own), he began contemplating materials for light altering some top floor in an abandoned building he had in mind.
Pam thought staying in human anything was tantamount to suicide.
That confused me because all the places that had been built for vamps early last century had either been torn down or repurposed. I asked her if New York had any vampire friendly hotels left, and told her I was sorry for her kind, humans being so terrible to them and all.
She found that very funny, and proceeded to tell me that her kind had willingly gone back into hiding. No closing the barn doors, we knew they existed and how to hurt them, but we humans were so easily misled, manipulated, or mangled that what did it matter? Did I really believe that some small groups of humans could do any real damage to a powerful vampire? I was just a silly coos. (What’s a coos? Much laughter from both vampires.) No, a few young vampires met their final deaths, but the blood-sucking population was still larger than life and twice as rich. They’d sold their public businesses before the withdrawal from society at large, see? Why should I pity them?
Well, how was I supposed to know?
As we’d made our way through the city in the dead of night, Pam delighted in pointing out the various vampire-owned businesses, making me thoroughly sorry I’d ever opened my big mouth.
There were tons, from apartment buildings, to bars and restaurants, to dry cleaners.
I’d mumbled that they were all a bunch of secretive supernatural jerks. Both vamps had laughed again, and Pam pointed out that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. That’d shut me right up.
Eric had of course won the battle over accommodations. He had to forbid her from bringing it up again.
We’d ended up on the roof of the tallest building I’d ever been in. It was magical. I was exhilarated already from the flight to the top. I imagined Eric looked quite the fantasy hero holding two young (okay, so technically only I was young) women to himself while gliding through the night sky. The velvety, blackness lacked stars but, when I’d looked down from that height, the earth was covered in jewel-bright lights. It took my breath away. I’d danced and twirled around a bit as the other two did some breaking and entering. Too soon, I’d been ushered through the door and down some stairs, where I’d then been picked up (I was getting a little tired of being manhandled, but it was dark as pitch) and carried through another door and set on my feet. Candles were lit. I’d sat down and leaned against a wall as my companions were making the adjoining room light tight. I’d nodded off to the sound of ripping tape and metal sheeting.
When I woke, I knew I’d missed sunrise, but I was in total darkness. I was also trapped under a mass of cold arms and legs. Too many. I realized with a giggle, that I was the filling in a blonde sandwich. A few more silent jokes (equally stupid and hysterically funny to a tired, disoriented me) about being stuck between them, and I was impatient to get up.
Wiggling one arm free was a massive effort, but I used it to pull myself onto my belly and slither the rest of the way. How the heck had that happened?
I crawled over to a wall and soon managed to locate the door. I hesitated before I opened it. Would that let in daylight? Was it direct sun exposure I had to worry about, or did any type of sunlight do damage? What if this door faced an eastern window?
Despair grabbed a hold of my guts. Daylight was on the other side, and I wasn’t going to see or feel it!
That gave way to irritation. I wanted to go over and kick the two idiots that had gotten me into this. Why couldn’t they have left me where I was?
Damn it! Vampires were not supposed to be cuddly! Why did I always wake up in a vise-grip?
It dawned on me that this may not have been an accident… but Eric had promised me windows! And a bathroom! I really did have to fight the urge to take my frustrations out on them while they were helpless. I had been promised windows, food, and a bathroom. I just knew if I felt around the room I’d find a bag of Pam-logic from the market, maybe some candles –
I scrambled on my hands and knees until I felt the tapered shapes and their corresponding matchbook.
Sure enough, the room had an adjoining bathroom with shower and toiletries. I riffled through the latest bag of nourishment for me (which wasn’t bad this time, I wondered if she’d just glamoured someone and taken their cart) and brooded.
I would be having a word with Eric about sneaky dealings.
I asked for windows but didn’t make sure to stipulate that I wanted daytime use of them. Everything I’d been promised had been delivered.
The air next to me shimmered, and my heart jumped into my throat. With a soft pop a familiar dark haired fairy was sitting next to me.
“Hello, Nan. Will you take a walk with me? Maybe we can go for lunch?”
“Do you think I’m stupid?”
She smiled and shook her head, “I’m not here to take you away. I promise to bring you back here as soon as we’re finished.”
“Nuh-uh. I’ve been a fool too often lately.”
“Nan, you cannot sit here in the dark forever. Have you noticed not feeling your best lately? Sky people don’t last cut off from the source. If I wanted to take you, I’d just do it. Right now.”
That did make sense. I only distrusted Siobhan by association. That wasn’t really fair, and I had so many questions…
“Okay. We can go to lunch with provisions.”
“The instant I want to come back, we pop back.” I fixed her with a look that said I meant business. She nodded. “No other Fae or shifter connected to the Brigants in any way, be it employ, kinship, loyal oath, or whatever is allowed within fifty feet of us, or we pop back immediately. And no one is allowed anywhere near here. I’m serious. There will be consequences if these vampires are harmed in any way shape or form. You can tell Niall I said that too, since hiding from him was just a big ol’ waste of time. I know what he was hiding from me, and I know how little control he has in this.”
Siobhan had lost her smile. She regarded me silently with troubled eyes for a minute, then nodded.
I glanced down at Eric and had a moment of doubt. He’d think I was an idiot. A reckless fool. He’d be so angry. He’d probably need to break something. Preferably fairy-shaped. And what if I was wrong and got taken? I couldn’t be forced into anything, but I could be held against my will so that I could never see him again…
“Siobhan… I’ve changed my mind. Let’s not go out to lunch… but maybe you could just pop us to the other room here?”
She grinned and nodded eagerly.
Have you ever had a moment in your life so sweet that the old cliché concerning clouds and choirs of angels is the only possible descriptive? That’s what the balcony and a rickety old fire escape was to me then. I exploded into song the minute I stepped out, tears streaming down my face. I had never felt such utter relief. I hated to tear myself away but Siobhan hadn’t come out with me and I realized I was standing in a Fae nightmare. Rusty cast-iron everywhere.
Handy. It would make a good retreat if I needed it.
“So, do you get your ‘Nan, I know what’s best for you’ speech out of the way first, or can I just jump in with some questions?”
“I’ll answer what I can,” she offered.
I sighed. In other words, she pick and choose what she answered and how much of the truth I’d get.
Better than nothing.
“What the heck am I? I mean, I know what I am, but what the heck am I?”
“You are the most unique being I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.”
“Not an answer.”
“You’re you, Nan. The same you that you’ve been since you were born.”
“So I was, uh, born? You know like the traditional way. I didn’t just show up one day and everyone played along, or something?”
“No, you were given life through the love of your mother and father like every other being.”
It was pathetic how happy that made me.
“How much do you actually know about Sookie?”
“We never met.”
“Siobhan, come on. Not an answer.”
“I’m sure that you know much more than I do about her.”
“If we’re going to talk, you have to a least try to give me something useful. You do want me to be making the most informed decision I can, right?”
“Sookie Stackhouse Merlotte the daughter of Corbett Stackhouse son of Fintan son of Niall, and the only part Fae to have lived and died a natural human lifespan.”
Better. Closer. Warmer.
“Well, part Fae often find themselves attracting trouble and it can lead to premature death.”
“No! Why did you say ‘natural human’ lifespan?”
She went silent. Just when I was about to give up and ask something else she screwed her face up. “She gave up her essential spark. Ripped it out. She didn’t want to outlive her children. When Niall found out, he never went to see her again. I swear that is all I know. I don’t know how it was done and I don’t want to. It was crazy and dangerous and unthinkable! The spark has to have a vessel! What she did was unforgivable!”
I was a bit dazed. “How-”
“I’ve told you all I know on the subject.”
“Who would know?”
“Doesn’t really help. She’s dead and I can’t talk to the dead.”
“Sometimes they can talk to you.”
“Cryptic crap. What happens if I let Eric bite me?”
She looked horrified. “It will hurt!”
“Thanks, anything else?”
“You’re unique. I don’t know. He’s able to resist draining you, yes?”
“Yes, but the not biting is getting… it’s… well…” I was blushing furiously, “I feel like I really want that type of thing to happen, but there are little warning bells that go off when I think about letting it. Like it’s gotta wait. Not just because I’m a prude,” my thoughts flashed on Claude and his teasing, “just that there’s something important about it, and I should listen up.”
“I’d never encourage you to seek out a vampire bite, Nan, but even if you won’t take my council, you’re giving yourself sound advice right now. If he puts you in danger that way, are you prepared to fight or run?”
“You can’t run from Eric, Siobhan. And fighting seems a bit pointless too.”
“I wish you could teleport. Even that is not guaranteed protection, but it would have made me feel better.”
“Why isn’t popping a guarantee? Don’t you just pop before they bite?”
“Once a vampire grabs a fairy, its magic is contained. We can’t get away from them.”
“Hmph.” Suddenly cuddly vampires made a whole lot more sense. “What do you know about cluviel d’or?”
“They’re a type of love-magic. That is their origin. They’re usually just an unobtrusive token given to a lover. But they’re very rare and hard to make. It requires quite a bit of time and true love. They’re powerful and one time use only.”
“Can it… warp time… or change the past?”
“Past events can be changed, yes.”
I nodded. I just wanted to be sure it was possible.
“Does Niall hate me?”
“Anabelle, Niall is the reason I’m here.”
“Well, I know that. Is this where you start the ‘don’t do it’ portion of our talk?”
“No, I mean Niall is missing. He went missing early this morning and I was hoping to find him wherever the Viking was. I was sure he had something to do with it.”
I just stood there catching flies.
“Eric doesn’t have Niall. I was with him all night.”
She nodded. “I trust your word more than his.”
“So, y’all are gonna leave us alone now, right?”
She sighed. “I wish it were that simple. You never have anything to fear from me, but I can’t guarantee anything about the others with Niall gone.” She reached out and stroked my hair, then popped away.
I wished she’d thought to pop me back into the dark room so I didn’t have to be alone.