I’d never thought of carrying it around on my person. Part of me was afraid of wasting the power of the cluviel dor. If I used it recklessly, it would amount to using a nuclear device to kill a fly.
The cluviel dor was a rare and ancient fairy love gift. I guess it was the fae equivalent of a Faberge Easter egg, but magical. My grandfather-not my human one, but my half-human, half-fairy grandfather, Fintan, Dermot’s twin-had given it to my grandmother Adele, who had hidden it away. She had never told me she had it, and I had only just discovered it during the attic clean-out. It had taken me longer to identify it and to learn more about its properties. Only the part-demon lawyer Desmond Cataliades knew I had it … though perhaps my friend Amelia suspected, since I’d asked her to teach me about what it could do.
Up until now, I’d hidden it just like my grandmother had. You can’t go through life carrying a gun in your hand just in case someone wants to attack you, right? Though the cluviel dor was a love gift, not a weapon, its use might have results just as dramatic. Possession of the cluviel dor granted the possessor a wish. That wish had to be a personal one, to benefit the possessor or someone the possessor loved. But there were some awful scenarios I’d imagined: What if I wished an oncoming car wouldn’t hit me, and instead it hit another car and killed a whole family? What if I wished that my gran were alive again, and instead of my living grandmother, her corpse appeared?
So I understood why Gran had hidden it away from casual discovery. I understood that it had frightened her with its potential, and maybe she hadn’t believed that a Christian should use magic to change her own history.
On the other hand, the cluviel dor could have saved Gran’s life if she’d had it at the moment she was attacked; but it had been in a secret drawer in an old desk up in the attic, and she had died. It was like paying for a Life Alert and then leaving it up in the kitchen cabinet out of reach. No one could take it, and it couldn’t be used for ill; but then again, it couldn’t be used for good, either.
If making one’s wish might lead to catastrophic results, it was almost as perilous to simply possess the cluviel dor. If anyone-any supernatural-learned I had this amazing object, I would be in even more danger than my normal allotment.
I opened the drawer and looked at my grandmother’s love gift. The cluviel dor was a creamy green and looked not unlike a slightly thick powder compact, which was why I kept it in my makeup drawer. The lid was circled with a band of gold. It would not open; it had never opened. I didn’t know how to trigger it. In my hand, the cluviel dor radiated the same warmth I felt when I was close to Niall … the same warmth times a hundred.
I was so tempted to put it in my purse. My hand hovered over it.
I took it out of the drawer and turned it over and over in my hands. As I held the smooth object, feeling intense pleasure in its nearness, I weighed the value of taking it with me against the risk.
In the end, I put it back in the drawer with a powder puff on top of it.
The phone rang.
Pam said, "Our meeting is at Eric’s house at nine o’clock."
"I thought I’d be coming to Fangtasia," I said, a little surprised. "Okay, I’ll be on my way in a jiffy."
Without answering, Pam hung up. Vampires are not experts on phone manners. I leaned over to look in the mirror while I applied my lipstick.
In two minutes, the phone rang again.
"Sookie," said Mustapha’s gruff voice. "You don’t need to be here till ten."
"Oh? Well … okay." That would give me a more reasonable amount of time; I wouldn’t have to risk getting a ticket, and there were a few more little things I’d wanted to do before I left.
I said a prayer, and I turned down my bed as a sign of faith that I would return home to sleep in it. I watered my plants, just in case. I quickly checked my e-mail, found nothing of interest. After looking at myself one more time in the full-length mirror on the bathroom door, I decided to leave. I had a comfortable amount of time.
I listened to dance music on the way over to Shreveport, and I sang along with songs from Saturday Night Fever. I loved to watch the young John Travolta dance, and that was something I was good at. I could sing only when I was by myself. I belted out "Stayin’ Alive," aware that might be my own theme song. By the time I stopped at the guardhouse at the entrance to Eric’s gated community, I was a fraction less worried about the evening.
I wondered where Dan Shelley was. The new night guard, a muscular human whose nametag read "Vince," waved me through without getting up. "Enjoy the party," he called.
A little surprised, I smiled and waved back at him. I’d thought I was going to a serious council, but evidently this visit by the Grand Poobah was starting off on a social note.
Though Eric’s fancy neighbors on the circle raised their eyebrows at cars parked on the street, I did just that because I didn’t want to be blocked in. The broad driveway to the left of the yard, running slightly uphill to Eric’s garage, was packed solid. I’d never seen so many cars there. I could hear music coming from the house, though it was faint. Vampires didn’t need to turn the volume up like humans did; they could hear all too well.
I turned off the motor and sat behind the wheel, trying to get my head together before walking into the lion’s den. Why hadn’t I just said no when Mustapha told me to come? Until this moment, I literally hadn’t considered the option of staying home. Was I here because I loved Eric? Or because I was in so deep in the vampire world that it hadn’t occurred to me to refuse?
Maybe a little of both.
I turned to open the Malibu door, and Bill was standing right there. I gave a little yip of shock. "You know better than to do that!" I snarled, glad to vent some of my fear in the guise of anger. I shot out of the driver’s seat and slammed the door behind me.
"Turn around and go back to Bon Temps, sweetheart," Bill said. In the harsh streetlight, my first vampire lover looked horribly white except for his eyes, which were shadowed pits. His dark thick hair and his dark clothing provided even more contrast, so much so that he looked as though he were enameled with luminescent paint, like a house sign.
"I’ve been sitting in my car thinking about it," I admitted. "But it’s too late."
"You should go." He meant it.
"Ah … that would be kind of leaving Eric in the lurch," I said, and there might have been a bit of a question in my voice.
"He can manage without you tonight. Please, go home." Bill’s cool hand took mine, and he applied very gentle pressure.
"You’d better tell me what’s happening."