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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.

 Chapter 27

Lafayette sat in a dark corner of the restaurant, surrounded by potted plants. It was his favorite spot. It was outfitted with overstuffed chairs and a small but heavily carved wood table. This was his favorite eatery in New Orleans and it was owned by two brothers with the last name of Pence. Two Pence was its name and it held special meaning to him. It was the first place he had eaten at when he had started school here. He and his momma toasting to his future…he would not get lost in that sorrow. His life was back on track…and he was grateful.

The place was shabby chic. Beautiful furnishings that had once seen better days now found a home among some of the best locally grown and fished offerings New Orleans served up.

The building was not old enough to be historic or young enough not to have exposed pipes and a few other detractors. It did not call to the high rollers nor did it make the list of the bus tours. But it served up the locals and it did a fine job of feeding families and maybe the mayor once a year when he was out looking for votes.

Damn, this place held a lot of memories. He had come to New Orleans to attend school with a lot of wonder and excitement in his heart.  Classes had started at Tulane and he found a part time job working weekends in an upscale restaurant but his soul had found comfort in the Two Pence and after a rough day at school, he would stop and have a cup of sea brine, they called it, which was just a  crushed bulb of garlic in a fish stock with a crusty, buttered piece of baguette straight from the oven. When the weather cooled, he would sit out on the side porch and it gave him the opportunity to sort out his day and dream about his future.

Then, once a month he treated himself to an actual meal. He would use his tip money from waiting tables to take himself out and celebrate that he was still alive and kickin’ and holdin’ his own and dreaming of the day when he would bring his office staff here for lunches, birthdays, and victories. “Damn,” he smiled to himself. “I am back, with millions. Just did not make them lawyer’n…at least not yet.”

So when Dean Smithy suggested dinner out and a chance to talk and catch up, Two Pence had just popped out of his mouth.

So here he was, tucked into his favorite spot in his old stompin’ grounds wondering just “what the fuck?” Because that was not the Dean heading his way, but he did vaguely recognize her.

“M-m-m-m-m hm-m-m-m, “Lafayette arched an eyebrow when a woman sat down. “This is not what I expected. I am supposed to be meeting with Dean Smithy tonight for dinner. Who are you?”

The woman across from him and straightened out the napkin and actually looked down her nose at him before she began. “I am Judith James and I am handle all correspondence for admittance into the university’s law school.”

“Wait one,” he sat back in his chair. “I know you. You were the Dean’s secretary.”

“Administrative Assistant,” she said through clenched teeth. “And the Dean was a very bad boy for bypassing me and admitting you.”

“So you did what? Cancelled his dinner appointment and decided to come yourself? To do what? Shake me down? Tell me that I am to give you a little something extra so that I can be admitted? Really?” he drew back. “I saw this on one of those garden fresh mini-series on TV. Can I tell you it did not end well for the skank trying to shake down the students.”

“Keep your voice down,” she hissed at him. “Let me tell you about being admitted. There are certain rules and procedures. Protocols put in place to keep the riff-raff out. There is not an application for admittance from you along with the application fee. Or an introductory letter with references.”

There was a reason he was La La. He had seen it all, heard it all, and was not afraid to call bullshit when it was being shoveled. “You mean, there is nothing for you to take your red pen and mark through along with a note that Tulane is not excepting such substandard work.

The parents call you sobbing and weeping and you tell them to push the paper through again, of course with another fee made out to you because once you have that rejected stamp across the top of your form, you have to wait a year before applying again.”

Lafayette rolled his eyes. “Are you really just a dumb-ass cracker? Just the fact that I am having dinner with Dean Smithy, did that not make you think twice before doing this?”

“Think twice,” she chuckled. “Actually, this requires no thought at all. My coven stands with me in all things and I am the stereotypical wicked witch. You want to know how the castle in Vermillion Bay disappeared? We did that…we called enough ghosts and wrong doers of the dead that they each picked up a stone and cast it into the ocean.”

“Really?” Lafayette arched an eyebrow at her and could feel OI chuckling. And maybe snorting with mirth! She was looking at him funny, around his neckline. Yes, his little man was snorting out loud! He just could not tell because his La La fineness was snorting out loud!

“And just how did you call them?” his voice was all mystified as he leaned in to hear better. “You send a text…phone…how about a video of you chanting your shit that don’t stink?”

“Oh…so you want my bona fides.” Now she was laughing. “Blood, jawbones and sacrifices. The dead all over Louisiana have not been resting easy since we cursed their graveyards and left guardians there to poke them awake when they thought to slumber. Tired spirits of the dead are like tired humans. Cranky when they are disturbed from their slumber. Willing to do just about anything so that they may return to their rest. You should be afraid of just who I can send to come calling at your door.”

“M-m-m hm-m-m-m, this is me, terrifieds,” he chuckled as he widened his eyes and held up both hands. Then he became serious. “You use jute to tie those cursed charms together?” he asked.

“Found one, did you?” she smirked.

“Oh, more than one,” came his reply. “And you knows the funniest of the funny, when I was into the St. Louis payin’ my respects to my great-granny, there was nothin’ like that, there,” Lafayette eyed her. “I am thinkin’ you are lyin’s ‘bout that, havin’m all over our home blessed restin’ grounds. Maybe you just did ones or twos. And why the Bon Temps Cemetery?”

When she smiled at him, she showed all of her teeth. For a moment, Lafayette thought they looked somewhat long and pointed. When he blinked, they looked just like teeth. Well, just fine then; this bitch was not pure of heart or kind to strangers. Across from him sat a purveyor of evil and a liar…and a thief.

“My little man’s, did you see that?” he asked.

“Who? What?” Judith looked around. “Are you wearing a wire?”

“No,” he sadly shook his head. “But I am wearin’ a dragon.”

Her mouth fell open in stupefied wonder as death from above uncurled from around Lafayette’s neck and fluttered down to the table.

“Skank,” OI hissed, catchin’ her eyes. “Who helped you to spread this misery around?”

“No one,” she replied. “It was just me.”

“You go anywhere beside Bon Temps with yous trashy dark ways?” Lafayette asked.

“No. Just there. And it was a testament to my genius to begin in a boneyard. I was looking for fae. I thought I would start with the dead and work my way out through them. Because no human was going to admit to being fae, but I knew I could coax the dead into telling me.”

“This clearly was not your brilliant design or showcase of intelligence. So whose? La La wants to know.”

“I was approached about finding a fae and I was mightily intrigued because I wanted one for myself. So I marshaled the energy of Sanctuaire de Paix Inhumé and I made it my own. With great and unlimited power, I went searching.”

OI looked at Lafayette and shook his head in wonder. “I can sees why I was sent to be helpin’ you along. This skank believes her own press. Sorrowful and pitiful,” the diminutive sized dragon sighed. “My big mans, this calls for an eye rollin’ moment on behalf of angels, everywheres.”

“Amen and amen, so says his La La fineness” as they both clasped their hands together and looking heavenward, rolled their eyes.

The dragon was still shaking his head when he addressed the skank. “Who asked you for a fae?” OI was intrigued.

“I don’t know. He wore a mask and a cape. It was a male. His Louisiana accent was from the northern part of the state. The drawl was the old way of speaking, where every day was slow and easy. He sounded like my great grandpa, the way he had of phrasing his words and carrying himself.”

“And this was the same person who told you to spell the Bon Temps Cemetery?”

“No, not exactly. He said nothin’ about Bon Temps. Said if I really was that good, I would know where to start. If I came back with the right name, he would pay me then.

Turns out I am that good,” she said with a smug look. “The cemetery came to me in a dream. Bright and vivid as if I was there…I was the vessel for a ritual. I was chained to a wrought iron cemetery proclamation sign. I kept trying to look and see on what sacred ground I stood. But alas, I could not see where I was blessed to be an inspiration to those that would partake.

I entertained one and all and when they were finished with me, they laid me down, licked the wine from my naval and called me blessed. That is when I could read the sign. Bon Temps. So great was the revelation, I wept for three days straight and walked from the blinding darkness to the crystal light of the believers.

I met with my benefactor the fourth night. When I told him the name, he paid me and said there would be more once the dead were raised. And that spells must hold for 24/7, so that he could be there to check for himself.”

“Vampire,” OI clucked his tongue. “Probably that lyin’ bastard Compton,” he hissed. “Could you see the color of his eyes?”

“They were blue,” she replied.

“”Anythin’ else noteworthy about him?”

“Yes, he wore Old Spice aftershave. He smelled just like my grandpa.”

“Cheap bastard,” OI rolled his eyes. “Must be Compton.”

“How many jawbones did you place?” Lafayette asked.

“Four,” she smiled. “North, South, East and West. And buried four.”

“Can you draw us a map?” Lafayette asked.

Confusion filled her face. “I used a compass and put them down at the four cardinal points. I did not note any other surroundings.”

“We’ll find’m,” OI said with surety. Lafayette nodded in agreement.

“What is the Sanctuaire de Paix Inhumé from which you suckled off their power? La La wants to know.”

“The Sanctuary of the Interred Peace,” she became very serious. “This is the apostolic ecclesiastical of Marie Laveau and her Jack-in-the-Box. Powerfully she brings the inspiration to us as she speaks of death and life and what it means to be immortal. He sits on a Deacon’s Bench behind her, fanning the flames of believe and truth. From them flows power and desire and a wantonness to take all and leave nil. Her children fall from the stars and brings manna for those of the Brethren of the Righteous to feast upon while our two lovers feed from each other, their energy flowing out from them and to the faithful, like a waterfall crashing into the ocean. It spills out onto their worshipers as we chant, Blood of my blood and a feast of my flesh. We rise, we fall, we put all to the test.”

“M-m-m h-m-m-m, yous La La says. Disrespectful and brazen and insolent. The dead are to rest, not be the playground of the impertinent hustlers of the damned who cannots forges their own good words, but has to be borrown’ from the good book.”

Lafayette sat back. “Can you actually see their energy?”

“It is powerful and godly,” she sighed. “And I bathe in it and come clean and yet insignificant. I am my happiest to sit and absorb the light and offer nothing in return.”

“That is not an answer,” OI snorted.

“Sounds like she has been drinkin’ the kool-aide and dunkin’ in her plastic cup hashish brownies,” Lafayette furrowed his brow.

“Where do you meet?” the dragon held her eyes.

“In a church out in the swamp. We get a text message saying that a bus will stop for us at a certain place and what the love offering is so that we are able to enter the bus. We drink the sacred wine and smoke the sacred herb and the windows become dark and we leave the city in a whirlwind of magic and the tide of the spectacular! Once we arrive in the swamps, we disembark and make our way to the church and we are ready for our gift giving and for the receiving of the divine.”

“You is payin’ to have sex with these mo fo’n imposters?” Lafayette rolled his eyes. “Who did not see that coming’!”

She drew back, indignant. “His essence is spread to the faithful and our priestess welcomes us to partake from her as well. We are indeed blessed.”

OI looked up at Lafayette when he snorted. “Lordy my little mans, we done white trashed ups. They cannot be gettin’ on the bus to the Land of Sin without payin’ first. Guess that culls the herd. Once they get there, they start them drinkin’ laced kool-aide and smokin’ only Jesus himself knows what. There is an altar call for the orgy and they are callin’ it righteous. Gonna’ have to make that phone call to Mr. Eric and Miss Sooks. Hope’s Mr. Josiah has returneds. My little man, can you tastes the winds and tell me if he is earth bound?”

OI stuck out his tongue and wiggled his ears. “He is here my big mans. Let us send the skank on her ways.” OI focused his attention back on her. “Yous take your lying and stealin’ and wicked assed ways to the Dean and yous do it this minute and yous tell him what you has done!

And you did not sees no dragon and there is no such thing as fairies. Go on now, get! Just as fasts as you can! You be safe drivin’ that car but you maybe gets a speedin’ ticket ‘cause you wants to do what is right,” he thrust his chest and head out at her and blew flames.

With a screech she was gone and Lafayette was chuckling. “Let’s me buy you a beer!”

“I really likes the tequila,” OI wiggled his eyebrows.

“Can do. Two shots of the blue agaves comin’ our way. We shall toast Mr. Josiah’s return to his family and then a little somethin’ somethin’ to wash the foul taste of skank from our mouths. Then, lordy, come mornin’ it is times to be on the big road and callin’ on Mr. Eric and Miss Sooks. I think this needs to be delivered in person. Figures we cans give them the night with their little man home to be celebratin’. Sorrowfully, not much more than that cause somethin’ is just not right.”

 

Sookie woke several times during the night. She would giggle, kiss Eric, giggle again and then snuggle in and go back to sleep.

For Eric there was no sleeping. Just marveling at his life! When Sookie would giggle, sometimes in her sleep, all Eric could do was giggle right along with her as he placed kisses all over her face, her tummy, her face, her tummy…her fabulous, wonderful, magnificent tummy!

 

Dawn was heating up the air. He could feel it. Time for vampires to go to ground. Well, not this vampire!

Eric had not slept all night…he had however, laughed, cried, made plans, nixed those plans, made other plans and thought about building a tiny dragon boat for their son to sleep in. After all, he had been a Boatwright back in the day and his boy was a Viking, just like his father! He would use Mr. Woo to custom make the mattress. Woo’s family had custom made all his mattresses for the last two hundred years.

The sun had crested the horizon. Nighty-night to vampires that had retired for the day and good morning to humans that  went to work to keep America humming along. “I have got no place I need to be except right here,” he grinned as he kissed Sookie’s tummy. “Good morning, Josiah,” he whispered. The he lightly kissed Sookie. “Good morning lover,” he grinned as he got out of bed.

That was odd…listening, he could hear Lafayette’s Volvo turning onto Hummingbird Lane. But…even more distant was the howling of hounds, their calls urgent and they were coming in fast…!

Pulling on his jeans he was vamp speed out on the porch in time to see one of the residents of the graveyard fast approaching. Where his head used to be, there was now the jaw-bone charm, snapping its teeth and yelling for his eyes! Coming out of the woods was his mate. The dress was in tatters but her head had been replaced with the jawbone as she screamed obscenities.

The dogs were incoming. There were two of them. Eric could distinctly hear them.

“Rosta! Gramr!” he yelled in happiness as watched in wonder as Rosta hit the male full on in the back and they both went tumbling. Gramr hit the female with as much force, they were both on the ground…then he was on top of her and there was the crunching of bones.

“What in the world?” Sookie said as she peeked around from behind him.

“Stay here,” he kissed her on the nose and then took off into the yard.

By the time he arrived, the spelled jawbones were being devoured. Both dogs then looked at Eric, threw back their heads and howled so loudly, Sookie was sure they could be heard on the moon. And then, Eric was down on the ground with the them on top of him, licking his face as he wrapped his arms around them, his face in the fur of one and then the other as he laughed in joy and then sobbed as he hugged them to him!

Sookie walked out into the yard and the dogs made room for her on top of Eric. Sitting down on him, she put her arms around their necks while they licked her face.

“Nice to meet you,” she smiled as she kissed one on the nose and then the other.

“Oo-oO!” Rosta answered back while Gramr thumped his tail wildly.

It was at that time Lafayette pulled in and parked. Getting out, he walked over to where the family was in the yard.

“Who are these two fine fellows?” he asked, kneeling down.

“Lafayette,” Eric grinned, “the black one with the white face is Rosta and the black one with the white feet is Gramr.”

“Rosta,” he held out his hand and the dog put out his paw to shake. “That means brawl or a riot. And Gramr just means good old fashioned wrath.”

“How did you know that?” Sookie asked.

“My little mans,” Lafayette nodded, “he told me. Now where is Mr. Josiah? Would have been heres last night but we wanted to let you be a family without family bustin’ in and takin’ all his kisses.”

“I’m pregnant, Lafayette!” she shouted and the smile covered her face.

“Woooohoooo and then some!” he yelled as he pulled her up off of Eric and danced her around the yard accompanied to the howling of the dogs who ran circles around them, joining in on the celebration of life!

When OI joined in with his victory dance, everything stopped.

“Hello,” Sookie held out both hands for him to land on.  “You are so very handsome. And your name is…”
“I am,” he said with a grand sweeping bow, “OI, Miss Sookie. And I am pleased as punch to know that our Mr. Josiah is going to be born to his momma and,” bowing just as grandly to Eric, “his daddy.”

“You boys have anything to say about this,” Eric said to the dogs as he nodded with his head toward the dragon.

“OOO-o,” Gramr said and Rosta echoed it right behind him.

“Old friends?” Eric grinned at OI.

“The oldest,” he smiled as he fluttered over to Lafayette and landed on his shoulder.

“Now, my big mans and I are here on official skank business.”

“Of course you are,” Eric looked at the dogs and then at the dragon. “I think we would all be more comfortable on the porch.”

“Tru dat,” the little dragon said as the dogs took off in that direction.

“This all seems vaguely familiar,” Eric and Sookie both said at the same time.

“Tru dat,” OI said again as the dogs laughed and waited for Eric and Sookie to settled in.

“So what merits the trip?” Eric asked as they sat down on the porch swing and then the dogs sat down on top of their feet.

“Hates to be startin’ your mornin’ off, especially with your good and blessed news, but it has everythin’ to do with skanks and such,” Lafayette sighed. “And also, we caught the tail-end of the bone crunchin’. We knows for a fact that eight evil charms were set. Four above ground, four buried at the four cardinal directions.”

There were low rumbles coming from chests of the dogs.

“My good boys,” Eric’s voice carried the command, “they are yours to deal with you as you see fit.”

Both dogs lifted their heads and howled. All eyes went to the cemetery as wails of “No!” flooded their ears. Then the dogs were gone and screaming started in earnest. When they came trotting back into the yard, yodeling their victory, the Bon Temps cemetery was once more at peace.

Lafayette and OI retold the conversation from the night before.

“Marie and her Jack-in-the-Box,” Sookie sounded perplexed. “You know, we grew up with Marie’s stories….voodoo priestess. Her magic blazed across New Orleans. Buried in the St. Louis. But that she walks? There were rumors of her being seen on the day that she died, after she had passed. But there was nothing about her being a vampire. Or something that would regenerate her after her death. Not ever.

Lafayette, you got anything more than that to add?”

“Well, after the Archdiocese of New Orleans closed the cemetery to only guided tours and folks could no longer place an X on her tomb, I have heard stories about her roamin’. Did not place much stock in it, ‘cause, hell, this is Louisiana, and they all roam from time to time.”

“I could use some breakfast,” Sookie said standing. “Maybe over food things will make a little bit more sense,” she smiled.

“I’ll call Samuel,” Eric said as he opened the door for her. “See what he knows.”

“OI,” she turned to the dragon, “you have some beautiful purple eyes. Are you the same dragon Eric and Samuel saw?”

“I am,” he grinned.

“Good,” she smiled in return. “Eric said you were lookin’ out for them. I like that about family. We should all be lookin’ out for each other.

Now, I’m hungry. Let’s have pancakes and bacon. We’ll talk during breakfast.”

 

 

Dear Readers,

Honest…all I was going to do was put the cemetery back to rights. I knew the dogs were going to do that. That they would be back to be the guardian angels for Eric and Sookie and they would deal with the cursed charms.

I have not one flipping clue as to Marie and her Jack-in-the-Box…WTF?

And again I say…WTF?

I am hoping they are just imposters with a little mo-jo…and can easily be sidestepped. If Marie turns out to be the real deal…oy vey….just say’n.

Sister Sharon is doing great! Thank all of you for you well wishes and prayers! We both are deeply humbled.

As always, thanks for reading!

CES