Highway to Hell
Fintan’s breath caught in his throat as he stood up suddenly. He kissed the top of Susie’s head before excusing himself and stepping outside.
“That fairy fucker needs to die,” Jason blurted out thinking about Niall.
Russell’s eyes glanced to Susie, but she didn’t react to the curse. He figured with the ability to read minds, she had heard every curse, every sexual thought, and every violent idea people had thought. For her to be as childlike and sane as she seemed, Jason must have worked hard to help her retain those elements.
“All in good time,” Sookie whispered, her eyes darting to the door Fintan had just gone through.
“Go ahead,” Eric whispered to her, knowing she wanted to go to her grandfather. “Just be patient.”
Sookie nodded as she rose to her feet, and she flashed Eric a quick smile before hurrying out of the room after Fintan. It didn’t take her long to find him. He was standing in the garden looking up at the night sky.
He didn’t respond to her joining him or acknowledge her presence. On some level, she knew that required a huge level of trust on his part too; a fairy who trusted a vampire not to attack.
“I’m sorry if you think I pushed you to reveal more than you wanted,” Sookie said as she moved to stand beside him.
He looked over to her, his eyes slightly red-rimmed. “You didn’t, dear Sookie. Sile’s a part of my life I hadn’t thought about in a long time.”
“Susie was right, wasn’t she? Niall took her away from you. She was the woman he gave to Warlow in your story.”
“Yes,” he whispered. Speaking full volume, his voice hundreds of years after puberty would have cracked.
“I’m sorry,” Sookie replied, her voice barely above a whisper.
Fintan looked over to his granddaughter taking in her stunning beauty. She was standing closer to him than he realized, and he wrapped his arm around her in a fatherly way. “It was a long time ago,” he soothed her.
“It doesn’t mean it hurts any less,” Sookie said, letting out a sigh. “Niall must’ve known it would hurt you. Doesn’t he care about anyone but himself?”
“He did it to hurt me. Well, to save me, I guess is the better thing to say.” He breathed in the warm air before letting it out in a slow breath. “I loved her, but she wasn’t good enough for me. The son of a prince, even a half-human son, had no business being with the daughter of a half-human water fairy.”
“The more I learn about Niall, the more I hate him,” Sookie replied bitingly.
“He thought he was doing what was best for me,” Fintan said sadly. “Your grandmother, she reminded me of my Sile.” He blocked his mind as he thought of a young Adele and the trouble they’d made. There was no reason for their granddaughter to see that, uninhibited vampire or not.
“He was doing what was best for him,” Sookie countered.
“I know, but everyone likes to think the best of their parents,” he said gently. “Susie will probably be very angry at Jason when she’s a teenager. He told her she’s going to an all-girls school and then a convent, but she will still love him, even if she’s mad at him.”
Sookie laughed at the familiar threat. “That’s something most fathers say to their daughters,” she replied.
He closed his eyes. “I wish I had been there to see you grow.”
“Would it have made any difference if you had?” Sookie asked. There was no bitterness or scorn in her tone, just genuine curiosity.
“For me, yes. For you, I would like to think so. I would have assisted you with your telepathy, ensured you never felt badly about it. Enjoyed spending time with you and seeing you develop.”
“That would’ve been nice,” Sookie admitted with a small smile. “It wouldn’t have changed the contract. Warlow would still be after me.”
“Yes, however, that was not my point.” He glanced at her, a small smile on his face. “I’m hoping to guide Susie as I wish I could have guided you.”
“That’s Jason’s decision, but I think he’ll allow it,” Sookie said. “He’ll do anything to keep her safe.”
“He already approved,” Fintan stated. “I only have to wait until sundown for one of my grandchildren,” he added, trying to tease.
Sookie’s lips curled into a small smile and she let some of the tension that had been plaguing her since she left Eric’s side drain out of her. “It’s the sun’s fault,” she retorted playfully. “It seems these days I’m quite allergic to it.”
“Well, don’t worry, dear; I’ll wait for you,” he squeezed her gently. “Do you miss the sun?”
“Sometimes,” Sookie admitted with a shrug. “But I learned to adapt. I’m happy now, like this.”
“That’s all I want for you,” Fintan replied, his care for her apparent in his voice. Sookie ducked her head as she smiled, suddenly a little embarrassed. “I promised to protect Susie, but I want to tell you I will do all I can to protect you and your brother as well, and don’t talk to me about the futility of protecting a vampire; you are still my granddaughter.”
“I wasn’t. Russell taught me that being a vampire doesn’t mean you’re invincible,” Sookie said. “Something tells me if this is as bad as I think it’s gonna be, we are all gonna need protection.”
“I’ll do my best to trust your vampires,” he added.
“They’ll protect me and Susie,” Sookie replied. “Of that I’m sure.”
“Do you love him?”
“Who?” Sookie asked.
“Eric,” Sookie whispered a smile tugging on her lips as she thought about her blond haired Viking. “I care a great deal about him.” Fintan hummed quietly in response.
“What?” Sookie asked curiously.
“Nothing, dear,” he sighed quietly, enjoying the silence of the night. “Ignoring all else, I will never regret this time with you.”
“Hopefully we’ll have a lot more time in the future,” Sookie replied. “I’m sure Jason will want to get to know you better as well.”
“I’m happy to spend time with him. He has grown into a strong man and a wonderful father,” Fintan added, having enjoyed his day with his grandson and great-granddaughter.
Sookie smiled as she thought of all the ways Jason had changed. They had just been starting to mend their relationship when she was kidnapped, and she was sorry that she never got to see Jason grow into the man he had become. A frown began to crease her brow as she thought of one of the reasons for the change in Jason. Michelle. Regardless of what they knew now, her brother had fallen in love with the duplicitous woman. He would be hurting just like Susie.
“He is strong,” Fintan reminded her, not able to listen to her thoughts, but understanding the source of her worries regardless. “Your brother will endure and persevere.”
“I know,” Sookie said with a sigh.
“No, child,” he said, moving before her and placing his hands on her shoulders. “You need to trust him. Your strength and belief in his abilities will help him. If you doubt him, he will doubt himself.”
Sookie looked up at Fintan as she played his words over in her head. She knew he was right. If she doubted Jason, he would also doubt himself. She still couldn’t help but worry about him, about all of them.
“Your strength is his,” he repeated.
Sookie nodded as she let his words sink in. Her strength was Jason’s. Fintan placed his lips against her forehead and she could feel her body becoming, not stronger, but more self-assured. More positive; almost as if the kiss was a mood-boosting medication.
Pulling back slightly, Sookie tilted her head back and stared at Fintan. “What did you just do?”
“My strength is yours,” Fintan said gently.
“Thank you,” Sookie replied after a moment’s pause.
“You have that skill as well,” he explained, making sure she understood his meaning.
“Will it work on anybody?”
“I do not know about vampires without any fairy blood, but it works on humans, fairies, and obviously you.” He pictured a time when he had used that ability to help his Adele, shortly after their son had died.
“Okay,” Sookie nodded, taking it all in. Fintan quickly kissed her forehead again, letting it be just that this time. His warm lips almost heated her skin briefly as she felt their heat against her.
Sookie let out an unneeded breath before looking over her shoulder back at the house. She was torn. She wanted to go to Eric, but, at the same time, she thought she should spend a bit of time with her grandfather.
“Go on, dear,” he said, sitting on a stone bench. “I’ll be here. If you want, go get him.”
Sookie gave Fintan a heartfelt smile and kissed him on the cheek before speeding back into the house.
Fintan looked at the moon, absorbed in his memories of Sile. He breathed in the cool air while thinking of their last time together, and how his father’s guards had surrounded them. She was pleading with him to help, but nothing he did would sway the fairies who held her. Nothing he said after that convinced his father to release her either.
As he stared at the moon, Fintan made a promise that Niall would not take his family from him as he did Sile. He was pained as he recalled her cries again, almost hearing them now.
It took Sookie only seconds to get back to Eric. She smiled as she entered the room and retook her seat next to him.
The frustration was apparent on Eric’s face as he argued with Roman, “It’s not logical to hold it still. With everything going on, that’ll be the easiest place for Warlow to attack! Or for any vampires who supports turning Sookie over to Warlow to go after her.”
Sookie frowned as she heard the argument and she wondered what they were discussing. Hold what?
“Now is the only time. Between Sookie and Susie we can weed out those who would go against us and destroy them before they can get a hold. The government is struggling or were you not here for that conference call?” Roman growled impatiently.
“Weed who out?” Sookie asked, her eyes darting between the two.
“Roman wants to go forward with the ball,” Eric gritted out.
Roman growled, “It only makes sense! By using Susie, we’ll know exactly who plans to go against us and we’ll be able to take them out!”
Sookie’s head snapped around and she fixed her gaze on Roman. “You’re not seriously thinking of putting a six-year-old girl in with a roomful of potentially hostile vampires, are you?”
“Of course not!” he scowled. “She would be in a secret area, able to tell her mind-reading aunt who needs to be destroyed.”
Sookie looked to Eric, wanting to know his thoughts. She wasn’t at all happy, and if it would’ve been up to her, her answer would’ve been no, straight away.
“Absolutely not!” Eric said, standing up.
“It is not your decision,” Roman replied coolly. “I am the Guardian and my word is Law. She will not be harmed. Thalia will be with her the entire time.”
“Oh, because Thalia knows how to humor a six-year-old’s sensibilities!” Eric growled. “She should be nowhere near. What if it goes wrong? What if she’s discovered? That is not keeping her safe!”
Sookie nodded in agreement. She hated putting Susie in a situation where she would be in danger, and it wasn’t just physical danger, it was mental as well. The mind of a vampire was no place for a child.
“I’ll do it,” Susie said, ignoring her family. She was sitting on the couch in the other room, reading, but she knew they could hear her.
“Susie, you don’t have to do this,” Sookie said, rising from her chair and moving into the other room to be nearer to her.
“I know, but I want to.” Her crystalline blue eyes examined her aunt so plainly. “I want to help, and it’s not like I don’t know everything that’s out there anyways. I’ve heard it all. I choose to not remember, to not think of it, but if I can help, I will.”
Sookie let out a sigh as she regarded her niece. She remembered all too well what it was like to hear it all as young girl. There was no such thing as child-proofing or child-friendly when it came to being a telepath.
“Don’t tell Daddy,” Susie whispered. “He likes me to be six, and it’s fun, but I’m not a normal first grader.”
“I know, baby,” Sookie said as she sat down next to her.
“I can do this, Sookie,” Susie continued, still staring at her aunt. “We, together, can help you.”
“I don’t like it,” Sookie admitted, but she also realized she didn’t have much choice.
“You don’t like it, so I know you’ll do everything you can to keep me safe,” Susie supplied.
“I will,” Sookie admitted. Susie stood on the couch to get to the right height to hug her aunt. Her blonde head rested against Sookie’s shoulder as she embraced and comforted her.
Sookie wrapped her arms around Susie and held her tight as she hoped they were doing the right thing. “It is,” Susie whispered again.
She had been practicing all day. Grandpa told her to keep her mind open. As soon as Roman came downstairs, she had scolded him to take the time to feed and that the call to the New York monarch could wait. Of course, he hadn’t said anything about a call or not feeding.
Sookie pressed a kiss to Susie’s head before pulling back. “You shouldn’t overdo it,” she said, having read her mind. “You’ll exhaust yourself.”
Susie smiled, “No, I won’t. Your strength is mine.”
Sookie rolled her eyes as she mumbled, “Fintan.” Susie giggled, taking Sookie’s hand as she recklessly jumped off the couch. She knew that if she was in danger Sookie would save her.
She led her aunt back into the room where Eric still looked pissed off. So she ignored him. “What do I need to do? Who’s Thalia?”
“Before we get to all that, there are certain rules I wanna lay down or she’s not doing it,” Sookie said, cutting Roman off before he had a chance to answer Susie. Seeing Roman move to open his mouth, Sookie held up her hand and cut him off again. “Before you say you’re the Guardian and your word is Law,” she added, knowing what he was going to say. “I don’t care. I don’t care if you’re in charge. Susie is my niece and I will put her safety and wellbeing above everyone else’s. Even my own.
“If she does this I want her protected at all times. She’s not to come into contact with any other vampire… In fact, outside of the five of us, I don’t even want anyone to know about her or the things she can do. If she does this, I want her treated right. Refreshments on hand for her so she can keep up her strength. Fifteen minute break every hour…and you’ll set up a trust fund for her for when she’s older,” Sookie added as an afterthought. She wasn’t sure where all this was coming from, but she stuck by her words. If they wanted to use Susie’s abilities they would damn well protect and look after her.
“Anything else?” Roman placated, a smirk on his lips.
“I’m sure I’ll think of something,” Sookie replied, a hint of steel to her voice.
“When you do, I’m sure you’ll let me know.” He turned to Susie, addressing her question. “Thalia is Eric’s second. For now, all you need to work on listening to vampires and pulling out thoughts and information.”
As Roman explained to Susie, Sookie flicked her eyes to Eric. She grimaced as she saw the look of anger in his eyes.
“So I should know that you’re hoping this will work, Eric is really pissed off at you taking advantage of me, Sookie’s blocking me, and Nora’s feeding. And someone is here; I’m assuming Thalia since she’s thinking about a little brat she needs to babysit.”
“You don’t need to be in my head,” Sookie told Susie, turning her attention back to her little niece. Susie giggled in response, but Roman stared at the young girl, slightly slack-jawed and awed.
“You swear Thalia will protect her?” Sookie asked.
“I swear,” Roman replied before he sped to the door to let her in.
Sookie nodded reluctantly as she waited for Thalia to enter the room.