The characters of the Southern Vampire Mysteries belong to Miss Charlaine Harris. No infringement on my part is intended. The characters on True Blood belong to Mr. Alan Ball. No infringement on my part is intended.
I have no BETA, editor, or other such charming person. All mistakes are my own.
This story is rated M.
The 747 lumbered to a stop in Denver. The limo backed out and drove them to the helipad.
“Clear night,” Eric smiled as they climbed out of the car and helped his family into the helicopter. “And cold. Always a good night to be a Viking,” he grinned.
Samuel arched an eyebrow at him. “My people are desert dwellers.”
“Just think of the snow as a different kind of desert,” Eric laughed as they buckled in and were gone into the night.
Sookie watched all the things around here. She was not dirt-floor poor but nor was she used to this type of opulence. This was…well damn, just damned impressive.
“Just a short flight into the mountains, Miss Sookie,” Samuel said into the headphones. “Then we shall be home.”
Grinning at Samuel she said, “I wish Josiah was awake to see this. The stars look so close, like you could just reach right out and touch them.”
“He probably has,” Samuel watched the sleeping child.
“Yes,” Sookie kissed her boy on top of the head, “he probably has.”
“We are at the top of Peak 8,” Samuel pointed in that direction. “See the flashing landing lights, that is where we are headed.”
“Nice view of the valley,” Sookie commented.
“Yes,” Samuel nodded. “Once we are on the ground we’ll get you settled and tomorrow shall be most exciting. I believe the way is known to the dog sledding area.”
“How close are we talking?” Eric eyed is brother.
“Well, perhaps, close enough that we can snow mobile for about fifteen minutes and be there.”
“I won the toss,” Clifford said rather smugly into the headset. “Mr. Eric, if you would like to get up with the young master first thing on a cold, snowy morning, while a fire roars in your bedroom, you are of course, invited to do so. Otherwise, I will be at Master Josiah’s disposal. I have gone dog sledding.” And Eric thought maybe for the first time he saw Clifford actually smile.
“I think we should be there with our son the first time he sees snow,” Eric replied as he turned around to see Clifford looking like innocence, itself.”
“Yes sir,” the majordomo nodded, “of course.”
The landing was smooth and it was an easy transition from the helio-pad to the house. “If,” Sookie looked around, “it could actually be called a house.
This is lovely,” she said to Samuel as they settled in the living room. “I think it is possibly the largest log cabin ever built!”
“When you live in the Rockies, you should embrace the lodge concept,” he smiled at her. “It actually started out its live as a small, luxury resort. Before it was finished, I had it customized.”
“I guess so,” she nodded as she settled back onto the couch and looked out the window that soared three stories into the sky.
“Something to drink, Miss Sookie?” Clifford asked.
“Clifford, I think that with this view of the valley, the mountains on the other side and the stars lookin’ like they are blazin’ right into this room reflecting off the snow…”
“Hot chocolate?” he asked her.
“Yes,” she smiled. “That would be perfect.”
“Sookie, do you know if Lafayette is working today?” Eric asked as he shifted Josiah around on his shoulder.
“Oh,” she nodded, “I am sure he is. Probably a double-shift. He missed a full day of work. Actually, he missed two shifts. He’ll be scrambling to make up the difference. I know he appreciates you fixing his car, but he would not take the check you left for him. He just wants Compton dead. Payment enough, he said.”
“That won’t do,” Eric looked thoughtful. “And I miss seeing the aunties. I know he needs to be present if it is someplace they have never been. I’ll wait until later to speak to him and maybe face time with the aunties, there.
But I don’t like it,” he mused out loud. “These two weeks we will need constant up-to-date info.”
Samuel nodded. “Easy fix,” he smiled. “If you will excuse me for a moment, I am going to call my lawyer.”
“What?” Sookie asked as she watched Samuel walk off.
“Things are about to be set in motion. Sit back and watch Samuel work his magic.”
Yawning, Sookie tried to shake it off and sit up straighter.
“Bedtime, lover,” Eric grinned at her. “We’ll be up with Josiah but then I think he will have plenty of playmates that he loves so we can go back to bed. Or, since there is snow…” he wiggled his eyebrows at her, “Viking sex.”
“Ah-h-h-h,” she eyed him. “Please keep in mind I have never seen real snow, before. And Viking sex sounds like sex, oh, I don’t know….maybe outside.”
Eric grinned. “I used to have a bear skin that I enticed the ladies with. I bet there is one around here, someplace. I’ll ask Clifford.”
Laughing quietly, as they stood, Clifford magically appeared. “This way to your suite,” he smiled. “What does the young master like for breakfast?”
“Just about anything,” Sookie replied. “This morning Lafayette made stuffed French toast and bacon. He was rubbing his tummy the whole time.”
“I shall inform Cook,” he said as he led them to their rooms and set the hot chocolate down. “Your things have been put away. Miss Sookie, you have the closet on the left and Mr. Eric, you have the closet on the right. Mr. Josiah’s things,” the smiled covered his face, “has been placed in the nursery. That door is opposite the one that leads out onto the patio.
Rest well,” he smiled as opened the doors. “I am available for dog sledding anytime during the day.”
“I just bet you are,” Eric eyed him.
“Anytime, Mr. Eric,” he said, batting his eyelashes.
“Please tell Samuel I’ll be right down. I am going to see to my family and then business.”
“Of course sir,” Clifford bowed his head.
“How old is he?” Sookie asked as she looked around and started opening doors.
“Well, Samuel rescued him from the British Navy during the American war for Independence. I believe he was twenty something at the time.”
“Wow,” her attention was back on Eric. “Is he a…a….?”
“Supernatural, well, maybe he is now but he did not start out to be so.”
“Oh, then what happened?”
“Long story short,” Eric cleared his throat. “There was a night in Paris, I pissed off some witches. I was on the run and did not really have any time to try and block what they were doing. There were perhaps one or two angry villagers with pitchforks chasing me.”
“Sounds like you are stalling,” Sookie smirked.
“Me, no,” he vigorously shook his head. “They threw curses and spells at me that apparently followed me to Samuel’s. Clifford was probably about forty at that time. The spell was that those that are bound to you shall be forever bound to you spell. Well, Samuel and I are bound to each other and Samuel, being Samuel, had a house full of devoted servants. They have been with him ever since.
We believe, that when Samuel meets the true death, so shall his staff, but until then, he pays well. Very well,” Eric said as he tucked Josiah into the massive master suite bed.
Their little man stirred. “Daddy, is it snowing?” he asked. “I can’t hear its song? Will you sing the snow song for me?”
“Of course my son,” he got in beside him. “Let me think about that for a moment…what the snow sounds like.”
Sookie watched father and son on the bed.
“To bring the snow, my son,” he said softly, stroking his hair, “you must have the cold. And cold sounds like the deepest and darkest of nights with all the stars blazing a river across the sky. Then come the clouds, big and fluffy like pillows stuffed with the down of geese and roll across the sky, their gray underbellies preparing to let loose the white flakes that looks like the tops of the clouds that reach into the sky. Then comes a quiet that softens even the owls hooting in the trees as they search for their meal under the now blanketed earth. The song of the snow, my son, is the sound of a peaceful sleep,” he kissed him on the forehead as Josiah was once more fast asleep.
Standing, he walked over to her closet and put his arms around her.
“I have never heard it snow,” Sookie sighed as she kissed Eric and then opened her closet door. “I am looking forward to that.”
Then, “Holy cow!” she gasped.
Stepping back out she heard Eric chuckling.
“It is like being in a department store in here,” and there was a bit of wonder in her voice. “I’m just going with my jammies and old comfy robe for right now. But wow,” she wiggled her eyebrows at Eric. “I hope that little black outfit with the red bows is not so very out of place for Viking sex.”
Before the words had left her mouth, Eric was there, with his arms around her and his mouth nibbling on her ear.
Looking over her head, he grinned. “I don’t remember anything like that from my raiding days, so I would have to take it off of you…slowly, of course. With my teeth.”
She was looking very interested but watching her stifle a yawn, he leaned in and kissed her. “We have this, lover,” he said softly against her lips. “Let me help you with the jammies and comfy robe. You need some rest.”
When Eric reappeared in the living room, Samuel was standing at the window watching it snow.
“We beat it home,” Eric smiled. “Good. Starting to look like white-out conditions.”
Samuel turned and faced him. “There was no snow predicted for tonight.” His eyes watched Eric.
“What?” the big blond chuckled. “How could anyone miss the system that is producing this?”
“Good question,” Samuel raised an eyebrow at him.
Eric stopped in mid-stride. “Josiah woke for a moment and wanted to know if it was snowing. He said he could not hear its song. I told him no, it was not. He asked me what snow sounded like,” Eric’s voice became quieter, “and so I told him.”
“So my brother, by singing its song, you can make it snow,“ Samuel said in an off-handed way. “I expect nothing less from you,” his voice was sincere. “Now,” Samuel started walking, “Clifford has set up the castle mock-up in my study. Are you ready to get started?”
“Yes,” Eric’s eyes went to the window as the blizzard roared past. “But I am going to need a lawyer. Soonest,” his brain was processing what had been said and perhaps what he had actually done. Shaking it off, he was back in the moment. “I need Lafayette here without arousing suspicion.”
Samuel nodded. “I am working that and how about if you bring the music of the rampant tempest down to a pianissimo, something very gentle so that we are not blown off the mountain.”
“Will do,” Eric smiled as he thought about the quiet snow filled nights he had spent as a boy with his dogs in front of the fire, listening to his hounds’ gentle breathing as the main hall settled into the rhythm of sleep.
Samuel tilted his head, listening to the lessening of the wind and snow. “Better,” he nodded. “Now, to work.”
Eric gave Samuel the walk through of the castle.
“The wise man builds on a solid rock foundation. The foolish man on the sand,” as Samuel carefully inspected the foundation stones. “My father would see this as a clumsy attempt to imitate what the Jewish architects did when building for the Pharaohs.”
“Billy said that the foundation stones were not anchored,” Eric nodded in agreement with his brother. “They are massive stones but just sit on the sand.”
“Just a house of cards,” Samuel mused, “given the right trigger to push it down.
What other songs do you know?” Samuel asked as he set all the floors back onto each other. “Or perhaps a better question would be, how many can you learn?”
“Momma,” Sookie heard the little voice in her ear. “I can hear Daddy’s song. I need to go pee. I’m gonna follow it and he can take me to go potty.”
“Sweet Boy,” Sookie smiled sleepily, “There is a bathroom right here. We can use that one.”
Giving her a kiss he replied. “Okay, but Daddy is up with Uncle Samuel. I can hear them.” His voice became very intense. “ Are we where it snows and there are puppies?”
“Yes,” she replied, her voice just as serious.
“After I go pee, you think we can then go see the puppies?”
“Sweet Boy, it is still dark and I think those puppies just might still be sleeping. Besides, both you and puppies need breakfast and a little more light.”
“Yes ma’am,” he gave her another kiss and she could hear him musing things over in his little guy voice. “But Daddy can take me out to see the snow,” and he was up out of bed and hurrying away.
“Daddy!” Eric heard Josiah’s excited voice and turned to greet him. “I told momma I could hear your song and Uncle Samuel’s and that when I found you I would ask you to take me to go pee. Momma said the puppies were still sleeping and that we all needed breakfast and more light but will you take me outside to see the snow?”
Sookie stood at the study door. “He led me right to you,” she chuckled. “Which is good. Daddy, since you are up with our son, there are things he needs to do and I am gonna sleep a bit more.”
When Josiah and Eric came out of the bathroom and back to the study, Samuel was watching the father and son. Eric was answering questions about snow and reindeer and how he had lived as a Viking as they stood at the window and admired the scenery. The least bit of light caused the shadows to dance on the drifts of snow outside.
The excitement was running high! “What did you and your daddy do the first time it snowed?” Josiah asked. “Did you go see puppies?”
“No,” Eric blew a fluffy on his tummy. “I was born during the winter months. I was just a baby the first time I saw snow…” Eric voiced trailed off, remembering. “Because it was my first snow,” his voice started again, “my father and I, my mother wrapped us both in a fur and with her blessing sent us both out for my father to say a blessing over me.”
“Can we do that?” Josiah asked. “Do you think Momma would do that?” his little was voice full of excitement.
“I am sure she would,” Eric smiled at him.
“Can we do it now?” Josiah asked. “It is so pretty. I can hear the stars singing. You find a warm lovey!” Josiah sang, “For Momma to wrap us in.
I’ll go get her! I know her song. I know how to find her!”
Giving Eric a kiss, down he slid and off he went.
“Do you mind if we use your bear skin rug?” Eric grinned.
Samuel grinned and started to say something when Clifford stuck his head in the door.
“I have roused Cook. Breakfast will be in an hour. There shall be all manner of things to break the fast.”
“You are not referring to my breaking of the fast, are you?” Samuel quizzed his man.
“I can heat a bagged blood if you so desire,” Clifford said with a straight face. “But the young master takes precedence. I actually saw Cook do a backflip when I said the family was coming for two weeks. I know not what he has planned but the pantry greatly resembles a green grocer and he had recipes taped everywhere. There is not a bit of blank wall space in the kitchen to be seen.”
Sookie was asleep and dreaming…dreaming…
“Momma,” she heard the quiet little voice. “Will you come wrap me and Daddy in a fur so we can outside for my first snow? He is gonna say a blessing over me!”
Hearing the unfiltered joy of such a small act of kindness made her start to cry.
“Momma,” Josiah wrapped his arms around her neck.
“I am just fine,” she hugged him close. “That is just so sweet and it makes me so happy…”
Josiah pulled back from her and placed a kiss on her nose. “Daddy will hold me and we’ll be outside…” he giggled, “in the snow. Then we are gonna have some breakfast ‘cause my tummy is wakin’ up.”
“All right Sweet Boy. Let me grab my robe and off we’ll go.”
The men folk had been hard at work. There was a bearskin rug on the couch. Sookie could tell from the size of it that she would never have been able to lift it if Eric had been standing.
Both her guys were sitting on top of it, Josiah was in Eric’s arms.
“What do I need to do?” Sookie asked.
“Just say a blessing over us,” Eric smiled at her. “’The one my mother said over my sister to my father was This is your daughter. She is mine as well. I trust you keep her warm and fed and safe. Just as I trust you to do this for me as she wrapped my father and sister in the fur.
Thoughtfully, Sookie asked the next question. “Would it be okay if Samuel and I stood at an open door and listened to your blessin’ for Josiah?”
Shrugging, Eric said, “I don’t see why not.
Are you ready my son?” Eric asked blue eyes that looked just like his.
“Yes Daddy,” Josiah smiled as he stood and wrapped his arms around Eric’s neck.
Sookie went to them and kneeled down in front of them. Taking Eric and Josiah’s hands she said, “This is your son. He is mine as well.” Tears started to gather in her eyes. Her heart was beating out of control! In such a short time, she had come so far. Had done the impossible…fallen in love…and had a son. A child of her once upon a time body and one of her spirit.
Her words had affected Eric as well. She could see tears in his eyes. Standing, she then draped one side of the skin across Eric’s shoulder and then the opposite side, enclosing both of her guys in warmth. Her eyes held his, as her voice cracked. “I trust you to keep him warm and fed and safe. Just as I trust you to do this for me,” she said tenderly as she ran her hand down Eric’s cheek and then Josiah’s.
Eric could feel the tears. There was something inside of him that responded to her words. He could hear it in her love filled voice, she meant it! All of it. She was now his to care for and protect as well.
With her sharing those words, they both knew. Together they had found sanctuary. If either one of them had any doubts, fears, or irrational thoughts, they were now gone.
Standing, Eric pulled the fur tightly around he and his son. Samuel was waiting for them by the door.
Josiah had turned his face to the front and had it lying against Eric’s cheek. Two sets of ancient blue eyes gazing into the night and the future.
Josiah squealed in delight when they stepped out into the night and the cold air hit his face!
“Just this far, my son,” the proud father said quietly. “This way your mother and Uncle Samuel can hear.”
“It’s so pretty,” the little boy said in a hushed whisper as he was turning his head in all directions, as he gazed at everything.
“You ready?” Eric asked, whispering in his little man’s ear.
“Yes,” he whispered back.
“Look at me,” Eric said softly. And…” he thought for a moment. This was done with a baby, not a child. But no one was going to deny him this moment he thought would never come in his life. Say this after me,” the father said…
“The Frost King may blow his spirit upon us—“ Josiah carefully repeated the sentence.
“But my spirit is strong—“ Josiah said the words with quiet conviction.
“I will learn the ways of my father—“ The little boy repeated with pride.
“And my people shall fight the Frost King with warmth—“
“Fight with a warm heart,” Josiah said with a sure nod of his head…
Eric smiled in agreement and then became very serious.
“And stave the death he brings to the land with our table set with plenty.”
“Daddy I hear your song,” Josiah placed a hand on each of Eric’s cheeks. “It says those we love, they can come and eat with us and they will be safe in our house.”
Kissing Eric, Josiah snuggled back in and looked out into the night sky. “It sure is pretty here,” he whispered.
“Yes, it is my son,” was whispered back.
“That boy…” Sookie wiped the tears from her eyes as she closed the door.
Samuel stood looking at the two males that were wrapped in a bear rug as snow began to fall gently from the sky. His life had certainly taken stranger twists and turns, but Josiah was beginning to take up room on that list.
“They will be in when they are ready,” Sookie said with a sigh.
“Yes,” Samuel smiled at her. “Cook is up. I can smell something…something…”
“Bacon!” Sookie smiled and wiggled her eyebrows. “I am just gonna have a tiny taste until they are ready for breakfast!”
When Eric and Josiah came in, Josiah was dancing around and singing, “The puppies are awake! The puppies are awake! Momma, Uncle Samuel, the puppies are awake!”
Sookie put her cup of hot chocolate down and offered Josiah a sip. “How do you know that?” she asked as he carefully picked up the cup.
“You can hear them,” he laughed in joy. “I asked Daddy who was singing and he said it was not wolves so it must be the puppies.”
Samuel grinned in delight. “That is correct. Huskies howling does sound differently than wolves howling. Huskies speak more and wolves are a bit more mournful.”
“Come listen,” Josiah set the cup down and took her hand. Going over to the door, she opened it and took a step back when the cold hit her.
“Listen,” Josiah whispered.
“Oh-h-h,” she laughed. “I can hear them,” she said in wonder.
Closing the door, she looked over at Samuel.
“The dog sledding and snowmobiling business is about fifteen minutes from here by snowmobile. Clifford has been timing it. That was one of the deciding factors when I purchased this house.”
“Really?” Sookie eyed him. “And just when did you make this purchase?”
“Oh,” Samuel smiled and shrugged and winked at Josiah. “When I found out about my nephew,” he swept the little boy up into his arms. “Now, I think it is time for breakfast and then for snow angles and then we should all go and visit with the dogs. We are all going to need our snowmobiling suites. The weatherman has promised us an overcast, snowy day. A good day for all of us to be out and about for a bit.”
“My son,” Eric tweaked his nose. “Your Uncle Samuel, I think he can hear the music. But not always. I would like for us to watch Fantasia, just a small bit before we go. The puppies will still be there when we arrive. What do you think?”
“Oh-h-h-h,” Josiah turned and looked at Samuel. “Uncle Samuel, the sun’s song is so pretty!” Nodding his head vigorously, Josiah was all business. “I like watching that. Did we bring it?” he asked.
“Yes,” Eric grinned. “Just a small amount of movie before we start our day of out and about. That way, perhaps, Samuel can stay with us longer. But we shall breakfast first and then we shall movie.”
As the movie played, Samuel concentrated on what he was watching and Josiah’s voice. Yes…a song…he knew that now. On God’s holy days he could day walk. That was because he sang the Psalms during those days. Not always out loud, but they ran constantly in his mind.
Eric looked over at his brother. Smiling he went back to watching the movie. Clearly, Samuel had the concept. The morning sun was rising behind the clouds and a stray beam or two was peeking through the snow that was still falling. Samuel’s right hand was stretched out, palm up. There danced a sunbeam, haloed by a rainbow. It was going to be a most excellent day.
As they were dressing to go, Sookie looked over at Eric. “How do you want to handle this? Are we safe here? I mean…” her voice trailed off. “It is just that Josiah is so looking forward to seeing the dogs…how careful do we have to be?”
“Samuel said he had this. I take that to mean that he has this,” Eric took her in his arms. “This is his town, literally, and he knows who comes and who goes. Flight manifests, the roads coming into town, all are monitored in real time.”
Nodding, Sookie let out a deep breath and smiled.
“Feel better?” he asked.
“Yes. I really like it here Eric. I would love to be able to come back. I just don’t want any of the bad guys waiting for us.”
“They won’t,” he kissed her. “I am the only bad guy who is going to be waiting for you,” he whispered in her ear as he pulled her body up to his.
“Daddy, Momma,” they heard his voice coming down the hall. “Come on. Uncle Samuel says the puppies are waking up!”
The snowmobile ride over was not long enough. Josiah and Sookie wanted to see everything. The mountain steams, the elk that was following the path down to a small creek. There was a fox that sat and watched them as they roared past.
They followed Clifford’s snowmobile until they reached the compound. Past the building where the public parked and paid and up the hill to a much smaller building but as far as the eye could see, there was fence!
Mr. Ed came out to greet them and began walking them to the back of the building. Opening the gate, they all passed through.
“You are just in time,” he smiled at Josiah. “Puppies will be pushing out through that small door any minute!”
Mr. Ed, who was in charge of socializing the new puppies had squatted down, so that he was face to face with Josiah. “Before they come out, Josiah. You need to know. Puppies have sharp teeth and they like to chew. Just keep your gloves on but you might be able to feel their sharp little teeth if they bite down.”
“Okay,” Josiah smiled and nodded. “I won’t cry if they do.”
Mr. Ed winked at Josiah. “I know you would not. But I just needed to let you know.”
“Okay,” Josiah nodded again, his eyes fixed on the door where the puppies were going to come out.
Mr. Ed stood up and looked at the parents. “We just don’t want the little ones to grow up to be afraid of dogs.”
“Not to worry,” Eric smiled. There was a chorus of tiny little howls as the ESCAPE DOOR, were the words stenciled above it, opened.
It was a husky puppy extravaganza!
Josiah was in his snowmobile suite, out in the snow, making a snow angel, covered in puppies! It was social hour in the new puppy fenced area. Seven sat on top of Josiah as they licked, chewed and nuzzled him in general. Sookie was next to him with three in her lap.
It was a good day to be a puppy. There was some new snow, a little human that spoke their language and laughed right along with them while he stroked their noses. He also made a nice pillow and did not mind an occasional chew-upon and kiss and life was exceptionally fine!
Eric was out walking and taking everything in. There were a hundred mature dogs with over ten acres to call their own. All of them had a house with a front to back slanted roof. When they were not working, they were laying on top of their house, king of their domain, enjoying the snow and sniffing the air.
Their workday had not yet started. Eric heard the mushers’ cars arriving and ears were starting to perk up. Their mushers were coming in and that meant breakfast!
They all eyed Eric as he walked past. Some dogs would yodel at him as he passed by and Eric, with a grin, would yodel back which would cause the dogs to laugh and to comment among themselves about the tall blond that smelled like snow! Anyone who could call the snow was a keeper!
Eric admired them as well.
The door from the kitchen opened and here came breakfast now, each musher greeting his dogs as he pulled the small wagon behind him.
“They like you,” Ed said as he fell into step with Eric. “You have really got them talking.”
“Beautiful animals,” Eric replied. “I had a couple of dogs as a boy. They were Jämthunds. They looked a lot like these huskies, maybe a little more on the wolf side than dog, but their coats greatly resembled these. They were loyal and fearless. I used them to hunt and at the end of the day they would lay down in front of the fire and not move,” he laughed, “unless you wanted to lie down in front of the fire. Then they just shifted a bit and laid on top of you.
That’s interesting,” Eric was watching the dogs. “That one. He does not like…just what exactly are they drinking? Or not drinking? He just turned his bowl over.”
“Each dog gets a pail of warm fatty, bits-of-meat soup along with his dish of protein. You can see what some of them think of it. They eat the snow,” Ed told him, “when they are thirsty.
Some are interested in the soup, but mostly, they knock the bowl over, eat the meaty bits and then look at their musher like he is crazy and that was a lot of work to get to the meaty bits and is it time to go to work?”
“How often do they run?” Eric asked.
“Each team goes out twice a day. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon. That is all,” Ed stressed. “I manage the dogs and I don’t care how much the main office cries about people wanting to go. That they have folks standing there in the building and wanting to go, money in hand. If all the teams have gone out twice, I tell Georgie, she is the one that sets up the appointments, that they can just come back another day.
I get that there is only so much of the season you can do this. And the dogs have to eat every day and see the Vet whether they are making money or not. So make hay while the sun shines and all that,” he shook his head no. “Not with these dogs.
“Sorry,” he looked at Eric. “I know that did not sound good. Management really does care. And I want you to know that no one here would hurt one of these dogs, but there have been some lean years when we have been light on snow and no Christmas bonus and we humans do other things during the summers. But the dogs come first. Always.
The owner knows some of the restaurant owners in town and they give us the fat trimmings off their meat, before they cook it. That is how we make the soup for them in the mornings. But it still cost seventy-five thousand a year in food. And they eat high protein and that is not cheap.
They each get a snack after a run and when they come in at the end of they day then comes dinner and bedtime. Most of them sleep on top of their house. After a big snow, some mornings you see big lumps covered in snow. Just the eyes and maybe the nose peeking out. Of course, once one of us steps out, it is all over but the howling.”
“We heard you this morning,” Eric chuckled.
“Yes, they were singing and not just talking. You get them wound up and the whole crew will be putting in their two cents worth. They are not eerie sounding like wolves when they howl…”
Ed and Eric both turned when they heard the squeals of laughter!
“Sled must have arrived,” Ed said. “That would be your ride. We have never picked anyone up from the kennels, before. Everyone leaves from the main building.”
Eric grinned. “I can tell by the look on your face you want to know what makes us so special?”
“Yes,” he nodded.
“New owner,” Eric smiled and shook his hand. “Thanks for the tour. We’ll go for a ride and then I will continue to snoop around.”
“Aw-w-w-w,” Ed stopped, worry on his face. “Are you going…?”
“To shut down the business?” Eric laughed out loud. “Do you hear my son? That is his mother laughing right along with him and his Uncle Samuel.
You obviously love the dogs. Everyone here loves the dogs. They are in good health and well cared for and respected. And I know you will see to this. I see a raise in your future, Ed. I see a raise in everyone’s future.”
It was quiet at Merlotte’s. Lafayette was beginning to think it was too quiet. Those that had the gift were a bit uneasy. His La La fineness had no idea old man Guthrey and Miss Redman was sensitive to spooks. Small A.J. who worked the grill kept looking around as well. Billy and Jean would from time to time concentrate on one of them and they would get nervous.
“I ams preppin’ for lunch and the kitchen is sufferin. They are off their game and his La La fineness says you two Aunties needs to be takin’ you fashion forward selves someplace else.”
“You know that’s a Were-wolf sitting there in that booth,” Jean fluttered his fan. “The smell alone is enough to put anyone off. You wants us to chase him out?”
“No,” Lafayette mumbled. “Everything around here has to be this side of normal. You know that’s. We don’t need anymore of those who sniff their own shits hangin’ in here.”
The door opened and in walked the preacher with a man in a suit following him. “Okay, there goes our fucked up normal,” he sighed. “This cannot be good. Times for the third shoes to drop.”
“Oh lordy,” Arlene crossed herself as all the patrons at the bar turned and looked and then crossed themselves as well.
“It’s the third death,” Tara shook her head, lookin’ around as she took down a bottle of tequila. “Well, we knew it was gonna’ happen,” her voice got quiet and everyone at the bar nodded.
It was clear where the reverend was headed. They all crossed themselves again when Lafayette stepped out from behind the counter. “Is it my momma?” he asked.
“No,” Reverend Daniels put his arm around him. “Can you take your break now? Let me introduce you to Phillip Phillips. He is lawyer.”
“Who died?” Tara came over and sat down.
“Mississippi Reynolds,” Daniels said.
“Who?” Tara asked.
“Great Auntie Mae thought he had passed ten years ago,” Lafayette offered up. Then turning to Tara he said, “He was Great Uncle Syrus’ boy. Had him late in life. Ran off and joined the Merchant Marines or somethin’. No one was real sure cause they never heard from him again.”
“Joined the Navy,” Mr. Phillips countered. “As his possible beneficiary, I am here to read to you his last will and testament.”
“No foolin?” Tara said as she sat down.
“No fooling,” Mr. Phillips said as he sat down and opened his briefcase.
“Possible beneficiary?” Lafayette said.
“I’ll read the will and you will understand. Let’s begin.”
“Thank you Jesus,” Arlene said as she crossed herself again as she set down a beer.
“What’s the deal?” the man asked as he watched what was going on.
“You are not from around here,” Arlene began. “We have all just been waitin’ for the Angel of Death to strike for the third time. First it was Big Al’s momma. Then we all started lookin’ around hoping it was not gonna be one of us and Sookie’s aunt passed. We have all just been walkin’ on eggshells around here. Wondering who was gonna’ be next. I am real sorry for Lafayette but I am sure ‘nuff happy it was not one of mine.”
“Happens in threes?” the man drew back.
“Yes,” she nodded. “Last year it was at school. Year before that Reverend Daniel’s church. We may go years before anyone dies but when they do,” she shook her head, “there is gonna’ be two more.
Huh,” Arlene took a step back from him. “Did you tell anyone your name?”
“What?” came his startled reply.
“You’ve been here since this started,” she sadly shook her head. “I brought you that beer when Big Al got the news. I had to finish off your burger, myself.”
“What?” his voice was worried. “Well, I told Holly my name. But she has been the only one.”
Arlene crossed herself, again. “Lordy, that is how it starts. All three passed and we have gotten the news with you sitting here in Merlotte’s. You have started the Bon Temps curse in your family. God bless you sugar,” she patted him on the shoulder. “Just be prepared. And make sure someone in your family has enough money to put your kin in the ground.”
Phillip carefully read the will, stating the stipulations. “Because there is livestock, you have to be there, physically. You can sell if you so desire, but you must spend two weeks on site. It was your uncle’s desire that it stay in the family. But he also understood the mountains are not for everyone but he wanted you to make an informed decision. I have plane tickets for you. Your flight leaves tomorrow. If you cannot be there physically on the land, by the day after tomorrow, the will is null and I shall be calling on someone else.”
Carefully looking over the document, Lafayette was running the numbers. “So I gets the cabin, one-hundred acres and ten horses and twenty five head of cattle.”
“How do you knows that I will be there?”
“I travel with you,” Phillips replied.
Lafayette was nodding then leveled his gaze at the lawyer. “Why me?” he asked.
Phillip shrugged. “Why not you?”
Lafayette gave that a thought “Fair enough. Let me inform Arlene. She’s in charge while Sam in gone.”
“I’ll meet you at the Shreveport airport. The time and gate is on the ticket. Until then, Mr. Reynolds.” Standing he shook Lafayette’s hand and headed out.
“Well just damn, La La, you are landed gentry,” Tara nudged him in the ribs.
“Do not’s be knowin’s about that’s,” he looked thoughtful.
“What?” she asked. “Tell me?”
“We here is born to the bayou, Miss T. How did one of ours ends up at altitudes?”
“He wanted somethin’ more,” she said quietly as she squeezed her cousin’s hand. “You sell this place and you be somethin’ more,” her eyes held his. “I mean it. Go back to school,” she whispered.
She saw the tears in his eyes before he blinked and looked back at her. “Gots to get back and inform the redhead she is down a mighty fine cook. There will be cussin’ and yellin’ but I knows Terry is lookin’ for hours.”
Phillip Phillips got in his car and then fired off a text message. Mr. Da’vid. I made contact with Mr. Reynolds. We shall see you tomorrow night. Shalom.
Real life, that nasty assed bitch, has come calling.
My oldest sister Sharon has been diagnosed with uterine cancer. I leave tomorrow for Oklahoma so that I may visit with her. Surgery is the 19th. Any prayers, kind thoughts or candles lit would be appreciated.
I wanted to get this posted tonight before I left zero dark thirty in the morning. I am sure there are lots ‘o mistakes. Lolol…what else is new….
If you are kind enough to leave a review, I will not be able to respond until I return. Which is Monday, the 22nd I believe.
I know this is a lot of fluff, but I needed fluff. Blessings, happy families, and little boys playing with happy dogs.
I was hoping to get this posted on Valentine’s Day but it was not to be. So consider this my Valentine to you!
I suspect the battle will be within the next chapter or two.
As always, thanks for reading!