The room was dark and deep inside the Earth. The smooth stone walls of nearly unbroken stone gave it the appearance of an underground cave. The walls formed a perfect circle. There were niches in the wall all around, at measured distances, each holding a burning torch. The torches were the only source of light and were infused with herbs causing dull white wisps of fragrant smoke, which were slowly emanating from the torches and filling the closed room. There was no visible chink in the walls or the ceiling.
A lone figure sat at the exact center of the stone floor, shrouded in a pure white flowing robe. She was old, the ancient kind of old, with sparse white hair, shriveled white skin and a tangle of deep lines of concentration on her face, around her closed eyes. She slowly started rocking back and forth. Seven shadows rose from the corners of the room and stepped forward in synchronization to make a perfect circle around the sitting crone. All of the seven were dressed in long black robes in perfect contrast with the figure in the center. They clasped hands to form a circle and started chanting. The words were unrecognizable, out of this world, as if from another time. The one in the center rocked faster now and the seven shadows started moving in a perfect circle around her, never breaking the chant.
Suddenly the room disappeared from around white priestess, and she was transported to a meadow on a hill, in the middle of a thick clump of dark ancient trees. The night stood silent and still, as if on a brink. The meadow was awash with soft light from the full moon. The tall trees surrounded the small secluded spot overgrown with grass and brush. In the middle of the meadow, on a lone flat rock stood a figure, a woman, in a flowing white dress, her hands raised towards the sky, as if calling on to it. Her long gold hair was being caressed by the gentle wind, mixing the perfume of the spring night with her. Someone came up from behind and walked to stand beside her, a tall man, almost leveling up to the woman on the rock. They stood silently, looking towards the East. The moonlight painted them in the same soft glow, which shimmered a little on their faces. The woman dropped her hands and reached out, same as the man reached out towards her and they twined their fingers, never taking their eyes off the direction they were looking in.
It was time. The night grew grey as dawn took over, in all the magnificent shades of blush and the two looked on as the Sun majestically rose up.
The priestess gasped and came back to the present. A small drop of blood oozed out from her left ear and everyone in the circle was immediately aware that she was back from her meditative trance. Though their mistress could not see with her eyes, they knew she saw much more than someone with eyes could see and fathom. The witches stopped chanting and moving in the circle. They had been chanting and meditating all night and almost half of the next day. On a nod from the priestess, they bowed respectfully and slowly made their way out of the room, from a small door in a dark corner of the room. One of the seven did not make a move to leave and remained with the head bowed.
The ancient Pythoness spoke up in a raspy but high pitched voice. “Prepare the ritual. I want a word with Zisa, the queen of the Earth and Fire fae.”
“It shall be done ancient one.” The lone witch nodded respectfully to the Pythoness and without asking anything else, left the room.
As Sookie finished her shower and dressed in a plain cotton tee and a pair of denim shorts, gran woke up and came upstairs looking almost apologetic.
“Bless my stars darling…I am really getting old! I slept while talking to you…”
Sookie smiled, “We have all the time to talk gran. How is the police investigation on those murders going on?”
“Oh they haven’t cought the murderer yet, but Jason if off the hook for now. Apparently they found a couple of similar murders in other towns as well and they think it’s a serial killer or something.”
“I know I shouldn’t say this gran and I am really sorry for those poor girls, but thank god for Jason.”
“Yes thank god. The boy already has a reputation and this investigation was not improving things as they stand. Jason is now back to being a wild animal again. I thought maybe he could learn a lesson or something.”
Sookie huffed and made a face, “Jason is pretty much Jason gran. What did you think?”
Adele winked at the girl and they both made an indulgent face for Jason.
“Oh yes there is another thing. It never came up this morning and I am really ashamed at not telling you before. You need to call Mr. Northman, uh, Eric. You need to thank him young lady and I mean thank him real proper as a lady should.”
Sookie was brushing her hair with her head upside down and gran did not see her face but her eyes went wide as saucers and she broke into a silly grin at the mention of his name. Did gran actually order me call the tall blond dream?
“Uhhh Jason told me about how he took care of hospital and my treatment and all. I was already going to find a way to meet and thank him gran.”
“He did fix up your treatment dear girl and he was so nice about it. Didn’t even let me pay, saying that you were in this condition because of an attack on his place and all. Now I would not have let him do that if I had any doubts about him being the complete gentleman he is. And that is not the only reason that we should be thankful. Something happened honey, something happened with you and him and I have never heard of such a thing. You were in coma and wouldn’t respond to anything and then he comes up, talking to the doctor and asking about you and all and as he does that, they get a spike in your pulse and you smile! My dear girl, after four days of not responding to anything, you actually smiled when he talked. Everybody was so surprised, Eric most of all. After that whenever your condition worsened, the good doctors would call Mr. Northman and the blessed man came every time we needed him. He just had to sit with you and talk to you, but we would never have gotten him to do it if he didn’t want to. He genuinely wanted to help you honey and never once did he let me or anyone feel we owed him something for doing all of that.”
Sookie was shocked at this, “Gran are you kidding me? Jason never told me any of that.”
“I would never joke about that time my dear. We were really loosing hope and I cannot tell you how we were at our wits end. Then, in steps Eric, Mr. Northman, and you start getting better. I don’t even know how to thank him for that.”
Sookie didn’t have words for all that information. Eric Northman at my bedside … unbelievable! But I did find him at my bedside when I woke up….OH SHIT…shit shit shit…if I told gran how I talked to him when I found him in my room, she would flay me…Oh my God, he has been sitting beside me to get me better and *groan* I called him Bill! Why don’t I remember stuff that really matters at the right moment when I need it…shit… how would I even begin thanking or apologizing! But he did say stuff that riled me up!
Thankfully her gran wasn’t the telepath of the two and couldn’t listen to the screaming fit going on inside Sookie’s head.
“Tell me everything gran!”
“Two weeks you were kept there and subjected to all sorts of tests. There was nothing wrong with you physically so it had to be some shock or mental trauma. Forgive me my love but at last I had to tell Eric about your telepathy and how you could be getting thoughts from all around the hospital with sick and dying people and all and he was such a gentleman even with that.”
“So you told him about my telepathy?”
“I had to. He wouldn’t have let me get you away from disturbing thoughts through any other argument. I knew it was a risk my child, but I know you inside out too. You were never comfortable with hospitals and when sick you got worse in a hospital. The only reason I waited two weeks was that we didn’t know for sure that you didn’t have any concussion or hidden injuries that could be treated there. It was for your best.”
So gran told her all about the fight Jason put up against shifting you home and the strange dwarf Dr. Ludwig that came to check on Sookie after they got home and got her settled. She didn’t seem to know that Eric had been right there in her room after everybody left. Sookie decided to keep that detail to herself in case gran wanted to know more about it.
“So my point is honey, we owe him a big bag of thank yous for all he has been doing for us. We could call him some evening for a visit, although I won’t be able to cook for the dear boy!”
Sookie rolled her eyes at that, “Gran he is a thousand years old and so not a boy! Besides he is a vampire so of course he won’t be able to eat your pecan pie.”
“Bless my stars! Thousand years?” This time it was gran’s eyes that were round as saucers.
“Yep…that’s what I know.”
“Wow…To live so long dear girl! Think how much he has lived through, how much he must have seen and experienced. He might as well be a walking museum or encyclopedia. We must invite him soon.” Gran looked positively gleeful by this time. Not that Sookie minded the idea of inviting him over.
“Ok so if you have his phone number or something, I could call to thank him and invite him over.”
“Sure I have the number. He gave it to me for emergencies.” Adele went to her room as Sookie finished her hair and make-up and brought her Eric’s business card. It was a thick ivory sheet with just his name and contact number in red cursives, very elegant stuff. Somehow that card in her hands made everything with Eric seem real. She could have dreamt that eye lock in Fangtasia, his presence in her bedroom and of course the shower was a dream but this card was a finite object with Eric’s contact information on it. She immediately became nervous at the thought of having to call him. Oh get a grip! You are not a teenager about to call a cute guy from school for a date to prom!
That thought on dating yanked her back to another reality she’d been avoiding since she woke up.
“Yes dear girl…Something wrong?”
“How was Bill? You haven’t told me anything about him. Jason said he came just once. Was he alright?”
Adele looked levelly at her granddaughter for this one. “Sookie, love, how are things between the two of you?”
“With Bill? I dunno…I mean it’s fine. We did go to Fangtasia that night, I mean as a date or something. What are you asking?”
“I am asking how you feel about him.”
For the life of her, she couldn’t find the right words for her gran. If last night hadn’t happened, she would have told gran that Bill was her boyfriend, if you could call a vampire that. But last night had happened and it had opened a lot of doors of doubt. What do I feel for him? I thought I could fall in love with him. But do I want to try?
Sookie took a deep breath before replying. “Gran, Bill is a good friend and I like to spend time with him because he blocks out all noise and helps me relax. I really thought I could have something more with him. But I am not really sure now. I guess I need some time to sort stuff out for myself. I missed out on just two weeks but it feels in my heart that something big has happened to me and I absolutely need to know what that is. Am I making any sense?” she bit her lip nervously.
“That’s what I thought and you are making some kind of sense. Take as much time you need dear, but don’t keep anyone hanging for your words. Can you do that?”
“Of course gran! I would never lie or cheat on anything. I guess then, I need to talk to Bill about this. He would not like what I have to say but I need him to know.”
“That’s my girl. Now, when do you have to leave for Merlotte’s?”
“Oh I need to be there at around seven in the evening. We have lots of time on our hands.”
“Then let us cook something nice for lunch.”
The two smiled at each other and went down to the kitchen.