Sookie had sayings she used all the time in her journal which I don’t think she always knew the meanings of. Others were antiquated, but applicable in some cases. I liked using them as a novelty most of the time. Others times, they came readily because they best fit the situation.
Today had ‘gone to Hell in a hand basket.’
I looked at the Were seated in the pickup truck just feet from me, but feeling as if we had worlds between us.
What the hell had I done?
Dante tried giving me a reassuring smile.
It didn’t work.
The fact was, I’d taken off.
I swore I wouldn’t, and I tried not to. I did. I didn’t go running to the Fae when Eric freaked in New York. I put up with miserable living conditions. I dealt with being kept in the dark, literally and figuratively. I had been so determined to let destiny take its course.
I was an idiot.
I was a trusting fool that had no business being involved with any of these beings. All any of them wanted was to use me and one up or kill each other. At least Dante was being good to me and felt the same way about his kind, my kind (wasn’t feeling too keen on claiming the fairies as my own at the moment though,) and vampires.
Untrustworthy and twisted, the lot of them.
It wasn’t right, and it wasn’t fair! I mean, Eric had all but said he just wanted to keep me around for future use, he wasn’t even going to… do what he was supposed to… go back to Sookie. So, even though I’d asked him not to use me for something awful, it was probably going to be the case anyhow. What was I thinking? Had I really believed Eric’s words about feeling peace with me meant I’d get a happily ever after? I was such a fool. And a tool. Naïve. So many things that all centered on being just plain stupid.
The things I had found out tonight… How could he be so cruel? How did he expect me to forgive?
Internally, I was at war. Part of me (the Sookie-magic part, I had no doubt) was screaming that I needed to go back, that this was a disaster. The other was staunchly protesting that I still had free will, and the choice of how the wish inside me was used had to be given to someone that would do some good… or something.
I’d had an uneventful day playing cards and getting to know Dante. We ate and talked and I was so happy to have the company. He was a good man. He didn’t have a pack, and didn’t want one. He’d met Eric through less than ideal circumstances and basically been blackmailed into babysitting me. But he said he didn’t mind being asked (nice euphemism, Dante) to stay with a pretty girl for a while. His mind was no more clear to me than the snarled red vortex that most shifter minds are, but I had an easy time reading him because he always spoke whatever he was feeling. I liked the honesty. He reminded me of Tommy, and I missed my brother terribly. I wanted to run to him and hide from the world that hated, rejected, and sought to use me up until there was nothing left. But all I had was Dante, in his beat up old truck and miles and miles of black sky leading to nowhere fast.
Eric had risen a few hours before with fire in his belly and cold steel in his eyes.
I knew he was planning on killing some vampires tonight. I was trying not to judge. It was hard to accept, but they had their own way of dealing with each other that I’d never grasp. What good was avenging wrongs and honor and whatever else when you died trying to get it? I suppose when you live forever, those things become a bigger deal. No ‘life’s too short’ mantras for the immortal.
He had been trying to get that crate out again and into a vehicle when I decided to be nosy. I put my hand on it when he had finished loading and went back inside. Made of cold iron, the thing must have weighed a ton, but the strangest thing was that I felt magic within. Something… familiar.
“Anabelle, I will return as soon as I can,” Eric had come up behind me and folded me into the me-sized nook in his body. I’d let the intoxication of him whisk the curious suspicion right out of my head. I had only wanted him to be safe. “My business may potentially take another night and I may not make it here before dawn. Do not worry. I will be fine. Do not leave unless it is imperative to do so. Please,” he added with a pleading smile. I had nodded and dared to kiss him softly.
It didn’t sink in until he’d left. I didn’t just feel magic. It was a magical signature I knew. He had my great-great-great-great-grandfather locked up in that iron box, draining his ability to use any magic that might keep him alive, and he was going to use him and kill him.
I had confessed to Eric that I still loved Niall and didn’t want him hurt, and he’d lied to me. He’d kept one of my only living relatives prisoner in the fairy equivalent of a torture chamber. For days! How sick can you get? Had all this time changed Eric from the vampire Sookie believed deserved anything he wanted? Or had she been a love-sick fool that overlooked the evil? How had I allowed myself to go along with this killing spree thing anyway? I was no better.
“He told me… the very night I gave myself to him that he was vicious and awful…” I mumbled.
I started weeping, I couldn’t help it.
Dante looked uncomfortable, cleared his throat, and reached across me to the glove box and pulled out some tissue. I accepted it gratefully, but couldn’t stop the tears streaming down my cheeks.
I felt helpless.
I had told Dante I wasn’t safe with Eric any longer. The good man didn’t question, just went for his truck and we were driving north without a destination in mind.
“Nan, I’m not gonna question needin’ to get away from a bloodsucker. They’re all bad news, anyhow, but how does a fairy end up goin’ round with one anyway? How come he didn’t just drain you dry?”
“I’m only a little bit Fae.”
“Sure don’t look it to me. You shine brighter’n any I ever saw.”
“It’s hard to explain. I’m not a normal part-Fae. But Eric never took my blood.”
“Seems like he’s got a lotta control then.”
“You making a case for him?”
“Nope. I’m glad we’re both getting as far away from Northman as possible right now. He’d kill me for lookin’ at you. He ever finds me now, I can kiss my furry ass goodbye.”
My stomach dropped.
“Dante, I’m so sorry for this! I don’t want you to get hurt because of me! Maybe, we ought to turn around and pretend this never happened.” I was beginning to panic. I had just risked this poor man’s life without even thinking about it. I was furious with myself.
“Wouldn’t even if you begged. You don’t seem like the kinda girl who belongs in a world fulla darkness. It ain’t right involvin’ you in this vamp shit. ‘Scuse my language.”
“I’m serious. You don’t know the mess I’m involving you in. I have no place safe to go. The fairies want me, Eric does too, and if anyone else finds out about me, well, you can just add them to the list of beaux on my dance card.”
“What’s a dance card?” He grinned. That did earn a small smile from me. “Cheer up, girl. Maybe the mess that vamp is makin’ tonight will take care of him for ya.”
I cringed. “Please, don’t say that, please… I don’t want him… anyone to die. It makes me sick that I didn’t yell and scream and try to stop him. I don’t know what was wrong with me!”
“Glamour. They do that.”
“No, that doesn’t work on me. I was plain being a bad person.”
“Makin’ mistakes is easy. Cleanin’ ’em up is hard. Whatever he wanted from you, he can’t get now, right?”
“Then you’re doin’ all you can at this point.”
I nodded again.
“You wanna tell me what spooked ya?”
“He’s going to kill… someone I love.”
“You wanna try to stop him?”
“I think it’s too late. I felt N…his spark. It was so weak I didn’t recognize who he was until it was too late. I know he’s going to die anyway from the iron poisoning. I… don’t… I didn’t… He wouldn’t have wanted me to try to fight for him and hurt myself…” At least, that’s what I told myself. I still wasn’t sure that Niall gave a fig for me, but I knew I could never have fought Eric and won.
“It’s a fairy?”
“Yeah, I don’t have human relatives left. Just my brother I told you about in New Orleans.”
“You got strange blood ties.”
“You have no idea.”
“How did you get tangled up with Northman?”
“That’s the strangest of all, and I’m not ready to tackle it tonight. I’ll tell you another time if that’s okay.”
“Sure. As long as you ain’t cryin’ no more.” He mumbled something more about making pretty girls cry and fell silent. I just looked out the window and tried to make sense of things.
We didn’t stop driving for anything more than gas and coffee until we got to a town called Milford in Nebraska. It looked like a safe place to me. I couldn’t see what humans would be doing there, let alone supes, and all the minds I scanned were full of the commotion and chatter which all normal humans had. No snarls, no haze, no silent buzzing (not that there would be at almost two in the afternoon) to indicate vampires. It was as safe as I was going to get, I told myself.
We got a motel room, but it only had one bed, so I insisted Dante rest while I took first watch, after all, he’d been up all night driving. I’d at least had the option to nap if I’d been able to shut my brain up. I still couldn’t. Sleep wasn’t going to take me for a long time.
The Were had been asleep for about an hour when the knock came. Ignoring it didn’t make it go away. Only one person was that annoying to my knowledge.
“Cousin? You’re really hard to find. I’m glad that shifter is an idiot and let you in sight of the security cameras here.”
“I’m not opening the door, Claude. Go away.”
“Can’t. I need to talk to you.”
“About what? Making wishes, Claude? Do you have a wish you’d like granted? Do you want to lock me away and keep me as a possibility forever? Go to hell.”
“Of course I have a wish I’d want you to grant me, but who wouldn’t?”
“Fairy answer. Go away.”
“Cousin, use logic. I could get you right now if I wanted.”
“Nope, I have lemons,” I lied.
“Fine, I’ll talk from here, but humans are staring. We need you back home. We need your light.”
“Great. So what? I just give it up and then what? Die? Crumble into dust like a dead fairy? Become nothing? Not loving my options there.”
“No, of course not. You only need live there.”
I hesitated, then opened the door with the latch in place, revealing only a small portion of my beautiful black-haired cousin. He was staring expectantly.
“That’s it? I just go live in Fae, and… what exactly?”
“Yes, for the most part. Nan, did you really think your family would want to harm you?”
Guilt roiled within me. I glanced back at the sleeping Dante, then opened the door to my cousin. “We’re not staying here, let him sleep. Let’s get food.”
We walked to a nearby diner and sat in a secluded booth.
“So, what the hell is going on? For real. I can’t handle any more half truths, lies, or manipulation.”
“Cousin, what do you understand about the essential spark?”
“It’s the source of magic in fairies.”
“It’s the source of all magic, period. Any being that has magic abilities, houses some form of spark. Vampires carry it in their blood, shifters in their bones, witches tap spark found in nature, and Fae are pure vessels. We’re the only race built for it specifically, which is why all variants of pure magical creature come from fairies, or fairy descent, aside from the gods.”
“Humans are not capable of housing the spark at all while still remaining human.”
“Ok. I’m not completely human. Old news.”
“No, you don’t understand, a spark can be passed to a mostly human, but the fit is terrible and it changes things.”
“Like my telepathy.”
“Exactly. Your body, trying to cope with excess magic found an outlet in a part of the brain humans can’t yet tap. This was the case with Sookie too. You both had too much spark in a too human container.”
Yikes. I swallowed and motioned for him to continue.
“Halflings are rare. Mostly they get killed on this side early because other supes find them irresistible. Mostly human part Fae are even more unlikely because of the propensity of early halfling deaths. You hybrids just don’t survive.”
“I love being categorically lumped into a doomed-”
“Just listen! It’s hard enough breaking the law to tell you this way!”
“Wait, what? Did you just say you’re breaking the law?”
He nodded vigorously. “And fairy law is magically binding. This physically hurts the longer I do it.”
I was an awful, nasty, mean person for all the fairy bashing I had done. “Claude, I am so-”
“Later! I have to do this!”
“Fae was created by Queen Titania before anyone remembers, but it was a plane called into existence by the sacrifice of her essential spark and meant to be a safe haven for our kind. Its power having come from one who’s existence was finite, is also finite and needs a refill now and then. Part Fae humans are the perfect candidates to recharge the magic, if you will, your spark is too big for your body, and most of it is just wasted as the light builds up and diffuses. All you have to do is come home to Fae and live with Siobhan in the temple. You’d be a priestess! That’s why she’s been tutoring you all this time!”
“So, you need me to, what, keep the place alive?”
“Essentially. You’d be a source of power, but you have to understand, cousin, you house not one, but two within you. You may be closer to immortal as a result than I am. Screw wishes! You could save Fae forever, just by living and worshipping in it. It’s your destiny.”
“What about the wish in me? What do you know about Sookie?”
“Not much that you don’t already, but I know the way you can find out.”