Chapter One Hundred and Thirty Eight
Linda and Jure looked into each others eyes and connected. I felt out of the information loop.
"What's not him?" I asked Linda, guessing I stood a better chance of getting a straight answer out of her. Jure was like information sushi - a riddle wrapped in an enigma surrounded by mystery.
She wrenched her gaze away from her betrothed and focused on me.
"That wasn't Jure staking Celandine. After I was done crying I thought about what I had seen. The stake was in the left hand of the man, not the right. That meant he was left handed. Jure is right handed. I put that together with something else Jure had told me and I figured out that it wasn't Jure, it was Drevan."
"Who is Drevan?" I asked the both of them. This sounded suspiciously like what Eric called the SODDI defense - Some Other Dude Did It. I saw Jure with my own eyes in the ectoplasmic reconstruction. I recognized him.
"Drevan was my twin brother," Jure said. "Celandine left me for him."
"There were two of you?" I was astonished. Jure was so unique it was almost impossible to picture him doubled like those old gum commercials.
"No, there was one of me and one of Drevan," he said with a small crooked smile. "Now there is just me."
Linda said, "They were like mirrors. Jure was right handed, Drevan was left handed. Jure has a mole on his ..." she smoothly changed direction in what she was going to say, "... on his right side, Drevan had an identical mole on his left."
"Weren't you married to Celandine?" I asked Jure, though even as I said it I knew that wouldn't prevent her from taking off with someone else.
"Yes, but she discovered she had more in common with Drevan than with me after she Turned."
I knew that once a person Turned it was unpredictable how they would react. Some people adjusted, some went mad, and some went hog wild into blood, sex and death. That was why Eric had spirited me away to a remote location to Turn me and then took me even further away to watch over my fledgling stages of vampirism.
"So she went over to his castle?" I asked, trying hard to sort all this out in my mind. That must have been awkward.
"When she told me she preferred my brother I left her in my castle and she moved Drevan in. I didn't like the castle, I didn't live in the castle. I preferred Vineta or Riga."
He saw I didn't know where or what those were. "Those are cities in the Baltic. It was easier for me to remain inconspicuous in a more populated area. The missing humans in our županije of rural Croatia made the locals suspicious. They had gotten to the point of organizing to storm the castle and kill the vampires that lived there. Drevan had stopped killing years before, but Celandine ... she was addicted to killing. Drevan finally got tired of her excesses and staked her."
"So that was Drevan we saw tonight?" I asked. "How do I know it wasn't you? You might be ambidextrous."
He barked a laugh at that and held up his hands in an "I don't know what to tell you" shrug.
"Um, Sooks?" Amelia said timidly. I had forgotten she was still standing in the doorway.
I looked at her. Jure knew she was there so the things he was telling us must not have been big secrets.
"When we were doing the re-enactment - the way the window doubled in size when the vampire .. er ... entered, that showed me that Drevan is also not living. His ectoplasm was way too strong for a living person. Sorry for your loss." She said this last bit to Jure. He gave a short nod.
"Didn't Drevan have his own castle?" I asked.
"He was the second born son. I was born first so I inherited everything. He had a small farm and a smaller annual stipend." Jure looked unmoved by Drevan's bad luck.
Seeing the frown on my face he added, "It was the custom in those days. No one questioned the fairness of it. We were both Turned the same night. I was first then too."
That must have made Drevan wild. I remembered how crazy Jason had gotten when Gran left me her house and possessions. He was bitter and angry over it until I pointed out that I had turned over our parents home and land to him.
If Drevan couldn't get the castle and land then he must have figured he could get Jure's wife and get even with his brother in the process. He must have felt triumphant living on Jure's estate and sleeping with Jure's wife. I felt bad for Jure.
"That must have been rough, having him move in and take your wife," I said sympathetically.
His surreptitious glance at his jeweled wristwatch led me to think that he was tiring of this topic. "To tell the truth, it was a relief to get her off my hands. She was not the same person once she Turned," he said in a dismissive tone.
Maybe he really was bored that easily with ancient history, or maybe that whole episode of his life was too painful to dwell on.
To Linda he said, "Are you ready to leave?"
"Amelia, Stanley's in the oak tree again," one of the witches called down the stairs.
"Oh bother," she groused. "Excuse me. It was good seeing you again," she said to Jure in case he left while she was gone.
He again gave her a small polite nod. Amelia sped out of the room at the sound of a big crash upstairs.
"I'll walk you two out," I said. I had one more question for Jure.
Linda got her coat and they headed for the door. I would bring the box of objects later, I wasn't sure if Jure knew Linda had them.
Once outside Jure questioned me in a mild tone. "Why the elaborate scheme to get the truth about my past? Why not simply ask me?"
I noticed he didn't ask Linda so he was holding me primarily responsible for this uninvited visit to his past. That was only right, it was my idea.
"I needed to know if something was going to come back to threaten Linda. She's my daughter, I feel very protective of her." I thought of what else he might reveal to me. "All right, if you're willing to be open and honest then tell me this, what happened to Drevan?" I challenged.
His face and voice remained completely expressionless. "I killed him. I had to, it was a debt of honor."
"You killed your own brother?" Linda gasped, stepping back from him. "Because he stole your wife?"
"Not because he took her. I loved her enough to give her the freedom to choose where and how she wanted to live. I executed him because he murdered my wife. She might have preferred to live with my brother but she was still my wife. I was her Maker. I could not permit her to be staked and not demand payment. A life for a life. That was the law back then."
He was confessing a crime, a great crime, to me. I knew I could not and would not keep this from Eric. He might choose not to bring this to the attention of anyone but it was too great a secret to keep from him. Was there a statue of limitations on Vampire murder? I didn't know. This wasn't my call to make, it was Eric's.
As if he was reading the thoughts in my head Jure said, "Naturally you will need to tell Eric the truth about what you learned tonight."
Then there was the strangest thing, like a great cosmic blink. Everything, all reality blanked out for a split second, then it was back. Linda looked around squinting, as if she was a tad surprised to find herself in the parking area of our old farmhouse. I heard an owl in the woods and Amelia in the side yard coaxing Stanley down from the tree with a peanut butter sandwich. I noticed Linda was wearing a blue sweater under her coat. Hadn't she been wearing a green top before?
No, it had been a long night filled with magic and bizarre events. I was reading too much into what might have been a momentary glitch in my concentration. I needed to get home to Eric and share what I had learned.
I hugged my daughter and watched her drive off with Jure. Then I went back inside and thanked the exhausted witches and my dear friend Amelia. I got the box of items Linda had brought and drove home as fast as I could without getting stopped by the police.
The lights were on in my house making me feel warm and welcome. Eric came out on the porch to greet me. We sat in the living room and I told him about the night's events - Stanley, the reconstruction, the death of Celandine, Jure appearing as smoke, and the things he had revealed to us about his past.
Eric listened intently without interrupting. When I was done he asked, "Did Jure ever say what happened to his brother Drevan?"
Oh, I had left that out.
"Yes, he did. Drevan felt so bad about killing Celandine he met the sun."
Wait .. wait .. that wasn't right.
"No, no. I meant to say, Jure killed Drevan in retaliation for killing his wife."
I had a weird feeling in my throat and an uneasy feeling in my head as I said this. Was this post traumatic shock over the memory of seeing a vampire meet the sun a long time ago? That seemed hard to believe.
In my mind I heard Jure's deep voice saying, "Drevan felt so guilty about staking Celandine that he went to meet the sun the very next day."
But I also clearly remembered what he had really said, about the debt of honor.
"What is wrong Sookie? You look confused," Eric said, moving to sit next to me. His face was drawn with concern.
"My head feels a little funny, fuzzy, like all my thoughts are blurred. Maybe I'm hungry or just overloaded from the reconstruction?" I said more as a question than as a statement. "Maybe hearing about ... about .... what's his name?"
"Drevan?" Eric supplied.
"Yes, Drevan. Maybe hearing about him being killed by Jure, ..." but I didn't finish. Confusion swirled around me.
"Let me get you something to eat," Eric said in a kindly way. "You have had a big night and protected the best interests of our daughter. That is enough to put anyone into a fog."
Into a fog .... yes, I was surely in a fog. Then why did it seem more like smoke and mirrors?
more to come ..... (Howdy everyone! I hope my story makes you even a bit as happy as your kind and encouraging words make me. See you in a week, until then, be good to yourself.)