The kitchen window was not where it was supposed to be.
Her customers were not where they were supposed to be.
Merlotte’s was not where it was supposed to be!
In place of everything, there was a big dark red hall filled with dim dancing lights and smoke, with a platform in the end, a spotlight on a throne smack in the middle of the platform. On the throne sat a vampire, her vampire, who she had wished all of her previous night to swoop in on her.
“I’ll be God damned!”
There he was, sitting on his damned throne.
She had one look at him and breathed out in relief. Just looking at Eric was healing her despair and struggles of the past three weeks.
I never did stand a chance fighting this out, did I? I really am no better than everybody else here who just want a piece of him. I can tell. I would do anything to have him look at me like he looked at me for the very first time.
She tilted her head slightly to the side and a slight smile tugged her lips. She sighed and felt something inside her click into place.
God I am lost even before I started putting up a fight. How will I go back now? I can’t go back…Not when I feel this damn euphoric when I look at him. Not when he looks like that at…who is that?
She followed his line of sight and noticed a gorgeous woman standing in front of Eric… Tall, blonde, stunning, just like Eric. Sookie felt a sharp pang of jealousy and anger as she quickly looked back at Eric. He was gripping the arms of the throne tightly, as if controlling himself from standing up, his fangs were down and his eyes, those deep blue tempestuous eyes that held Sookie’s soul in them, were dilated and fixed on the piece of silver perfection in front of him.
Just the intensity of his gaze at that woman…
Her knees buckled and she landed on the floor on her knees, again brought down by a vampire, she thought bitterly, just as a wave of nausea hit her.
No no no…
The woman had a slight smile on her face too. One look at her and Sookie was sure this was not any ordinary human woman. She didn’t know how she knew this, but she did. Everybody else seemed to be drawn to that one creature, as if she had some spotlight on her.
Sookie turned her gaze back to Eric.
ERIC! Look at me…
Eric did not notice the lone small figure in white lost in the crowd of the bar and stepped down towards the supermodel in silver.
He began moving towards the other end of the room, and the woman followed a step behind him.
Sookie felt everything close in on her. The huge room was making her claustrophobic.
Don’t go Eric! Please…look at me!
Sookie wanted to follow them. She tried to get up but was stuck, the oppressive surroundings getting to be too much for her nerves. They stepped through a door. Eric turned to shut the door and the woman caught sight of Sookie. The moment she looked into her eyes, a powerful wave of urgency struck Sookie, as if something was deadly wrong and she had to stop it. She gathered all her strength to get up and spoke out.
The door was half closed when she called out. She saw Eric stiffen, yank his head and blink in surprise.
Someone tapped her on her shoulder from behind. Sookie jumped in surprise and spun around.
“Sookie? Urrmmm…the fries? Can I ,uh, get them?” What is wrong with her? Why is she stuck at her spot and not bringing in my order? She really is weird…
Andie Bellfluer was looking at her as if she was having a fit of craziness.
This was way beyond weird…Sookie was sure she hadn’t been dreaming because she had been serving people right and left and she sure as hell couldn’t fall asleep on her feet. She looked wildly around her, searching for Eric and that silver woman, but she was in Merlotte’s, in the middle of a very busy dinner shift.
Shit! After everything going on, I just had to begin hallucinating now! And in the middle of Merlotte’s…If anyone had any doubts about my craziness, tonight was when they buried them! Oh God! What is wrong with me! The town loon award goes to….
Sookie’s attention snapped. She buried her shock and apologized before quickly going to the kitchen to get Andie’s fries. She served them up and without saying another word to anyone, half ran to the restroom and locked herself in. Once inside, her hands started to tremble and she just stood in front of the mirror above the sink and looked at her own shocked eyes. It was straight out of a mystery or horror or fantasy movie. For the life of her, she couldn’t fathom what just happened to her.
Dermot stormed through the silent corridors of the autumn palace. The corridor opened up at one side, giving a spectacular view of a terraced flower garden with roses in all imaginable colors. Niall loved roses. Dermot could not help think that his father probably loved the thorns more than the flower itself. He hurried towards Niall’s private chambers. He found Niall sitting in the middle of a pile of ancient looking books and dusty yellowing manuscripts, reading a papyrus scroll intently.
His voice did not rise above the level of polite, but he was seething inside. “What have you done?”
Niall looked over from the scroll and assessed his son’s mood. Hmmm angry and not showing it. He might still become king someday!
“Dermot! Come on, sit.”
“I need to know what you did father…”
Niall showed no outwardly sign of any emotion going through his mind. “Are you asking me about my day, son?”
Dermot’s control slipped a little at the nonchalance his father was showing. “I am asking you about my daughter! Claudine! What have you done with her?”
Niall fixed a gaze at Dermot and sighed. “Dermot sit down” Dermot huffed and took a seat opposite to Niall on the couch. “Good. Now do you know what I am reading?”
“I don’t know.”Dermot replied with clenched teeth.
“Well of these are dossiers on supernatural phenomenon over the centuries. All of the books and documents here record sightings, visions, incidents, any other knick knacks on all supernatural beings ever seen. I have quite the collection here.” He lifted the scroll he was reading, “This one here is sightings from the human dimension in their sixth century. You see, this is not the first time the strange white flashes have been recorded amongst humans.”
Dermot was getting more and more agitated and none of what Niall was talking about made any sense to him in context to his daughter. “Father I am sorry but this is hardly the time to discuss the light. Where is…”
Niall cut in “Claudine? Oh yes my dearest fiery granddaughter!” Niall smiled indulgently. “She wanted to go on an adventure Dermot. I am afraid she was feeling a bit antsy here. She is going to help me with my businesses with the humans, just like our dear Claude and Claudette.”
“Adventure? You call this an adventure? You sent Claudine to the snake pit and you call it human business and adventure! You knew I had forbidden her to go to that accursed realm again!”
Niall brushed him off with a hand sweep. “Oh calm down son. Claudine is a full blood, powerful, royal fairy. No one can touch her without raising our ire and starting a bloody war. Cut her some slack. She has been confined here since a century now.”
“A century is nothing father and you know it. She has been mooning over that filthy vampire ever since she saw him hundred years ago. And you sent her straight to him? WHY?” Dermot was half yelling now, in helplessness over his daughter.
“She wished to go and I sent her.”
“She is not pledged and by right she belongs to me. I am not claiming my right in front of you. Instead father, I am politely asking you to bring her back.”
Niall’s light manner subtly changed and he now gave a frigid look to his son. Dermot quickly lowered his gaze.
“We decided to keep tabs on this Sookie Stackhouse creature. When did you start worrying about Eric Northman so much that you sent your own granddaughter to spy on him?”
“Northman is part of our problem.”
“Whoever is the problem, Claudine belongs here, not on some pedestrian spy mission. I am afraid for her safety father.”
“She can mask her scent.”
“That doesn’t explain why you sent her.”
Niall chewed the corner of his lip as he thought about how much he could tell Dermot.
“It is time you start putting this realm ahead of your emotions Dermot. I have very good reasons of sending Claudine over. All the reading I have been doing, just blew this little problem that we had out of proportion. I suspect something much bigger is afoot. Now” he again waved the scroll he was reading, “this, is a scroll about miracles in ancient Rome. Look at this one. It says –
Into the 6th century, a plague struck the city and the sick slept at night in the church of Castel Sant’Angelo. While the devastating plague persisted in Rome, a strange but brilliant white light appeared as a sword over the mausoleum of Hadrian, in apparent answer to the prayers of Pope St Gregory I the Great (c. 590-604) that the plague should cease. After the plague ended, in honor of the occasion, the pope called the mausoleum “Castel Sant’Angelo” (Castle of the Holy Angel), the name by which it is still known.”
Dermot looked blank. “We know about the plague father and how the people were all healed miraculously on the night the blinding light appeared.”
“We also know that our fathers and grandfathers found no traces of magic after the light disappeared. It just healed thousands and vanished without a trace. There was one fairy regent present in Rome who witnessed the light and could not find the source of the magic. He tasted the verve and again found nothing. There was no signature left, no physical signs left other than the healed humans. Have you heard of any such flashes recently?”
“It is not possible that this is the same light we are looking at father. The two events are far far apart from human standards. And there certainly hasn’t been any healings in Louisiana we know of.”
“True, there have not been any healings. But think. We do not know what happened in that vampire bar or at the back of the shifter’s bar, but we know there was a blinding flash of light that fairies could not place anywhere and I could not find the source even when I was right there. This might lead us somewhere. I am looking through all records for more sightings.”
“What about Claudine?”
“The two manifestations of the light in our time have two things in common. Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman. It slipped from our forefather’s hands and it slipped from my hands. We cannot leave phenomenon like that uninvestigated. It was too close to our main portal to Fae. Claudine is my eldest granddaughter, our most beautiful fairy and because she is a Brigant by birth, she can mask her scent and disappear to save herself. This matter is very secret and I cannot let it become common gossip across the realm otherwise the councilors are going to demand closure of our portal. I do not wish that portal closed. I wish to make sure there is no threat and I want to know everything that is out there worth knowing. So we needed someone powerful, clever and trustworthy to get to the bottom of this. Claudine wanted to go. I let her go. She is protected by Neave and Lochlan and her brother and sister.”
Niall squeezed his son’s shoulder and tried to reassure him.
“She will be fine son. I have faith in her.”
Dermot sighed and nodded. He could not argue or challenge his father’s decisions. He knew how much was riding on the safety of their portal and their family secrets. For once he decided to let go and have faith in his family.