"Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken."—Frank Herbert
Chapter 01: Dear Diary
June 14, 2004
A fairy walks into a vampire bar…
That sounds like the beginning of a bad joke—or maybe a horror movie—doesn't it?
Well—that's exactly what I was doing. I was walking into a vampire bar—in my best dress and with my scent amplified by magic.
From my count, twelve pair of vampire eyes were already locked onto me as I took my second and third steps into Fangtasia. Of course, that included the eyes of Pam, the vampire who had ID'ed me at the door.
Three days prior, I'd never even met a vampire, but now my fate lay in the hands of one of the vampires in the room.
How did I get here?
How had I gone from being relatively "safe" to inserting myself into the dragon's lair in less than a week?
I suppose I walked into Fangtasia because I've been taught to take my fate into my own hands—to accept the world around me without letting myself be crushed by it.
Things weren't always that way, however. There was a time when I was scared and broken—a time when I felt like I was a freak.
A time when I felt unwanted and unworthy.
But that had all changed one day when my grandmother gave me the best gift I've ever been given—a sounding board in the form of a notebook: a diary.
My first diary had been one of those Big Chief tablets—not a very politically correct name, now that I'm thinking about it. I still had that first book—full of my hopes and my dreams, as well as my fears—just as I still had all of the other notebooks I'd filled. They were stacked in a fireproof safe in the corner of my closet.
"Write down every thought you hear, baby girl. And write down every thought you have," Gran had told me.
My first words into that first Big Chief tablet had been, "It's my fault they died."
I had been six years old when I wrote those words.
Thankfully, Gran didn't stop with having me writing things down. At the end of every day, she would ask me if I wanted to share any of the things I'd written. Most nights I did.
She would also ask me if there was anything I was afraid to write down. Some nights there were such things. And I would tell them to her as well.
She would listen to me read my words and say my thoughts.
She would listen to anything I wanted to say to her.
And after I was done talking, she would always ask me the same question: "Do you wanna know what I think about all that, baby girl?"
I usually did.
When I was six, my mom and dad died in a flash flood. Their car got swept away while it was on a low water bridge.
At the time, their accident was called an "act of God." Later, I learned that it was actually the act of two fairies who had happened across a mostly human who was in denial about being a fairy hybrid.
Knowing "why" my parents had died had not brought them back, however.
Before they were killed, Momma and Daddy had been fighting a lot: fighting and not making up. Most of their fights had been about me and what Momma called my "disability." Momma wanted to pull me out of public school and home school me—so that no one would be around when I made my "mistakes," as she called them.
Daddy liked to pretend that I was a perfect little princess and that there was nothing wrong with me beyond good "intuition."
I now knew that one of my parents had been too extreme, and the other had been too blind. I now knew that both had been wrong, but neither could be blamed.
When I was a little girl, however, I didn't understand anything beyond the feeling of discord that I'd caused between them.
Momma took me to doctors in Shreveport on days that Daddy worked. A couple of them thought Momma was running some kind of scam. One of them thought that Momma should arrange for me to join the circus. Another of them thought that I was possessed by the devil and told Momma to get a priest to perform an exorcism on me. Luckily, instead of doing that, she called up Lettie Mae, Tara's Momma, and got the name of a local Voodoo witch.
Momma took me to see that witch—who called herself Miss Marie Laveau, the Fourth. I later learned that Marie Laveau—number one—was a renowned Voodoo witch who died in the 1880s. I don't know if Marie number four was her true decedent or not, but Miss Marie certainly "thought" she was.
Miss Marie had a "pet" water moccasin in a small aquarium. It slithered right over to where Miss Marie was holding me up to the glass. I looked at it, and it looked at me. It showed me its "cotton mouth." I thought it was beautiful.
After my short "introduction" to the snake, Miss Marie told Momma that I couldn't be helped—that I was cursed. She asked Momma to take me away as quickly as possible.
Momma had been scared of Miss Marie—but even more scared of me—after that day.
The night Momma and Daddy had been killed, they'd just dropped me and Jason off at Gran's house. They were going to Monroe for a "date night"; truth be told, "an excuse to get away from Sookie" was a more accurate description of their night out.
I wrote about all of this in my diary—and a lot more too—in the shaky handwriting of a fearful six-year-old who was remembering things that I'd been keeping to myself because most of the adults around me hadn't wanted me to be who I really was.
They'd wanted me to be a normal human—but I wasn't one of those.
When I told Gran about Miss Marie, she told me that some hack Voodoo witch who kept such a beautiful snake trapped in a tiny cage wouldn't understand the first thing about what Gran called my "gift." She also told me that my Momma and Daddy had loved me—but that they were damned fools. She also told me that on my tenth birthday, she would tell me the story of how I'd come to be "special"—but that, until then, I would just had to take her word for it that I was.
I did believe her.
Gran didn't pull me from public schools like Momma had wanted to, but she did pull aside my new teachers at the beginning of each school year. She would invite my new teachers over for coffee and her famous pecan pie near the end of the summer—and she'd have a little "talk" with them. She always asked me to "make myself scarce," which meant that I should go to the little treehouse that she'd told me about on our property.
The treehouse was little more than a wooden platform with a slanting root—really more like a lean-to than a house. It was only six feet or so off the ground, but I thought it was perfect. Since it was about a half mile from the house, I couldn't hear a single thought—except my own—when I was there.
Before I turned ten, I had no idea who'd built the place, but it truly was ideal. The wood never creaked or splintered or buckled under the sun or the rain or the wind. In fact, the treehouse always looked pristine, and anything I tacked to the trunk of the tree also stayed pristine.
When it was sunny, the little treehouse seemed to be able to read my mind—as if the very wood were telepathic like me. When I wanted to bask in the warming light, the roof seemed as if it wasn't even there—even though I could see that it clearly was. When I felt like sitting in the shade, the roof provided cover. And—when it rained—the roof protected every single board from getting wet.
I'd often take my diary there, and sometimes I would write for hours.
As I said before, Gran would talk to my teachers each year once I'd made myself "scarce." Much later, I learned that she was telling them that I could read minds and that they could either do their moral and paid duty to help me learn as best as they could—or she would yank me out of school.
Gran was the kind of person that people listened to—even if they didn't believe her. And, luckily, she always managed to get me into the most "understanding" teachers' classes.
In addition, Gran helped me to work on my shields—every single day. Also, instead of hiding my gift from Jason—as my parents had done—Gran had Jason help me learn how to stay out of people's minds.
For that reason, Jason became my ally, and I became his—at least in a manner of speaking. When he wanted to know that a girl "wanted" him for more than just his own "talent," I would tell him. When he didn't care, I kept my mouth shut.
Gran would also invite her friends over for me to "practice" on. Most of them had no idea what I could do. Gran would never ask me what those people thought; in fact, she told me once that she didn't need to hear about people's thoughts unless those thoughts were important for me to tell her about.
The one exception had been when she requested that I "listen in" when she asked Maxine Fortenberry about the secret ingredient in her lemon bars. It turned out that it was Limoncello; we'd all benefitted from that little secret many times over the years as Gran had perfected Maxine's recipe.
Of course, Gran would never showcase our nefariously-gotten knowledge. She would always hide any lemon bars she'd made if company came over.
Over the years, I have written about so many things—both good and bad—in my diaries. And Gran always listened. In fact—when needed—she would act or help me to act accordingly.
The Uncle Bartlett episode was particularly difficult on our family. One day, Uncle Bartlett had thought about how he wanted to sneak into my room to look at my underpants! He'd also thought about wanting to see me in only my underpants. After I'd told Gran about his sick thoughts, she'd ordered him never to come anywhere near any of us again. Then she'd called Aunt Linda; Uncle Bartlett had been putting up some new gutters on Aunt Linda's house. After that phone call, Gran had called the sheriff, and Uncle Bartlett had been arrested. A few days later, I'd found out why he'd been arrested; he'd been molesting my cousin, Hadley.
After that, Hadley spent a good deal of time in therapy, but—from her mind—I knew that she never really got over what Uncle Bartlett had done to her. Aunt Linda and Gran would try to help her, but all the progress that Hadley made was undone when Aunt Linda got sick with cancer.
Hadley and Aunt Linda moved in with Gran, Jason, and me for a while, but they went back home after Aunt Linda went into remission. Soon after Aunt Linda got sick again, Hadley ran away from home.
I'd heard Hadley's thoughts about running away the last time I'd seen her. And, of course, I'd talked those thoughts over with Gran.
Hadley had come to "visit" Gran's house with the purpose of stealing money. I'd tried to talk Hadley out of it; I'd begged her to stay with us—to live with us again and to stop taking the drugs she'd already become addicted to. I told Gran of Hadley's intention to steal her "stash" from the old cookie jar on the kitchen counter. Gran took out most of the money and then wrote Hadley a letter, telling her that we all loved her and that we wanted her with us.
Gran put the letter, a bus ticket home, and fifty dollars into the envelope. She also included the name and address of a rehab center for teenagers in Shreveport.
Just as I had heard her planning to do, Hadley did take all the money she could find. We haven't heard from her since then; it's been almost a decade now.
I have "heard" more than just the secrets of my family members over the years. Most of the time, I keep things to myself, but—sometimes—I've needed to tell people even beyond my grandmother.
Over the years, Gran has helped me with that too. Bud Dearborn, the Chief of Police in Bon Temps, is a friend of Gran's, and she calls him whenever I've heard something that he needs to take care of.
When I was seven, I heard how Lettie Mae would beat up Tara. When I was nine, I overheard Mr. Martin, the owner of Bon Temps National Bank, thinking over his plan to steal from the retirement funds of several residents—including Gran. I'd heard other things over the years too, and I'd also learned to distinguish "mere thoughts" from "real crimes."
So, behind the scenes, I've "helped" Sheriff Dearborn find out about and solve many cases of child abuse and spousal abuse. I've helped him find thieves and those guilty of assault. Most recently, I told him about Rene Lenier, who'd been thinking about how he'd killed his sister because she'd been involved with a vampire. Rene had gotten a taste for killing too—and he'd been planning to kill other girls whom he thought had "defiled" themselves. He'd already targeted Maudette Pickens, whom he'd seen with bite marks on her neck. He'd just been waiting for an opportune time—a time which would have implicated Jason in the act!
Thankfully, Sheriff Dearborn had acted before Rene had. In fact, the sheriff always acted when he got information from me. Deep down, Sheriff Dearborn was a good man and appreciated the "help." Of course, he always said that his information came from anonymous sources. And that was just fine by me.
When I turned ten years old, Gran threw a nice party for me and then sent Jason over to Hoyt Fortenberry's house for a sleepover.
It was then that she explained to me why I was a telepath and introduced me to my real grandfather—Fintan Brigant.
It turned out that I was an eighth fairy!
It also turned out that Fintan had been "helping" Gran "talk" to my teachers every year. Along with Gran, he would assess the teachers' "worthiness." Then he'd use a kind of fairy glamour on them to make sure that they couldn't talk about my being a telepath to people outside of our family. He also made sure that they wouldn't remember him. Apparently, he'd done something similar to Jason and Tara and Sheriff Dearborn.
Fintan made clear that he'd not hidden my telepathy because he thought that I should be ashamed of it. In fact, he said that I should be proud of my lineage and my gifts. However, he cautioned me to keep my supernatural abilities hidden from the untrustworthy, who would want to exploit me and my abilities. He advised that I always choose my confidants carefully—using my intellect and my instincts.
After my tenth birthday, I saw Fintan about two or three times a year. He'd come to my treehouse, which I found out he'd built and instilled with fairy magic in order to protect the space and to ensure that it was a true sanctuary for me. Each time he visited me, he would help me to develop my telepathy—both my ability to "hear" and my ability to shut out the thoughts of others.
As I'd gotten older, the most difficult thing for me had been coming to terms with the fact that Gran had cheated on my Grandpa Mitchell in order to have children. She'd also truly loved Fintan.
In fact, she'd loved her husband and her fairy lover equally.
I also learned that Fintan had used his magic to keep thoughts about himself and fairies in general from entering Gran's mind until I turned ten. After that, Gran's mind became more open to me. Though she'd not needed to, Gran apologized for not telling me certain things earlier. However, she'd wanted to wait until I was old enough to understand. I couldn't blame her for that.
Gran also told me that she'd talked to my dad about my being a telepath, but apparently Daddy had been in complete denial about who I was—and who he was. He'd thought that Gran was going senile.
Regardless, as soon as she'd been able, Gran had been very forthcoming about her past. She told me that Grandpa Mitchell had known about Fintan and had "looked the other way" because he, too, had wanted children. Gran told me that—out of respect for Grandpa Mitchell—she'd refrained from "being with" Fintan intimately other than the two times that she'd conceived children with him.
And that fact held true even after Grandpa Mitchell died.
The older I got, the more the whole situation seemed tragic to me—especially since I could tell from Gran's mind how much she continued to love Fintan and I could tell from his mind how much he loved her back.
Three years ago, Fintan missed one of his normal visits; as soon as that happened, Gran called Fintan's best friend, a mostly demon named Desmond Cataliades.
Mr. C had immediately come to visit Gran and me and told us that Fintan had been killed by fairies who were rivals of my great-grandfather Niall. Of course, I knew all about Niall from Fintan's teachings. I also knew about vampires, Weres, shifters, and demons from my fairy grandfather.
After Fintan died—Gran and I knew exactly what to do, based on what Fintan had advised us. Fintan's magic had been keeping me and my spark concealed from Niall and other fairies, but that magic wouldn't last for long following his death.
Mr. C told us that Fintan had recast his protective magic each time he'd visited us. He also reported that he still felt Fintan's spell, but that it was fading.
Even as Gran and I had grieved for my grandfather and her former lover, we destroyed the nearby fairy portal in order to ensure that no one else could use it. Fintan had been instructed—by Niall—to demolish the portal years before; that's how he'd come to meet my grandmother in the first place. But Fintan had disobeyed orders; instead of destroying the portal, he'd used his magic to cover its existence so that he could continue to see Gran and his "human" family.
It was Gran and I who completed Fintan's original assignment.
It wasn't that I didn't want to know my fairy family. If I could have done so safely, I would have. But it seemed impossible, given the amount of unrest in Faerie. A large faction of Niall's enemies wanted to destroy all hybrids, and Gran and I thought it best that I not let myself become a target.
And we had good reason for our concern too. According to Fintan, it had been enemy fairies who had killed my father and mother. They'd happened upon them by chance, and—being Water Fae—they had been able to manipulate that element to create the flash flood.
Fintan had hunted them down; made sure that they knew nothing of Adele, Linda, Hadley, Jason and me; and then killed them.
In an effort to continue to protect me, Fintan had left behind an amulet for me to wear if anything ever happened to him. It was designed to cover up my spark so that other fairies wouldn't be able to sense it. The only problem was that it couldn't last forever—and, apparently—I was going to be around for a very long time because I had the essential spark. Fintan had made clear that I would have a lifespan similar to his own.
He also made clear that once I began wearing the amulet, it would have enough magic for only a decade or so—after which time my "spark" would become "visible" to other fairies—if they were looking. It was because of this that Fintan had hoped to live for much longer—so that he could continue covering up my existence and so that he could help me to refine my fairy gifts.
But I'd figured a decade was better than nothing. And—who knew how things could change in ten years? Gran had advised me to continue practicing my fairy powers—my telepathy and what Fintan had called my "light."
And I did continue practicing, but I worked on controlling my "light" only at my treehouse, which Fintan said would always conceal the presence of fairy magic.
With my light, I could now fire orbs of energy from my hands. And, according to Mr. C, those orbs would stun—or even kill—anyone who was threatening me.
So how does all of this help you to understand why I'm currently five steps inside of Fangtasia—Shreveport's premier vampire bar?
I don't suppose it does.
But maybe if you read my last two diary entries, you will understand why the clicking of twelve sets of fangs into place isn't making me run for the hills. Maybe, if you read on, you will understand why I am—even now—taking another step toward the throne on the other side of the room.
Toward a pair of crystalline blue eyes that have already captured me in a way that I cannot fathom.