“This is your bargaining position,” he explained as he placed it over half of the shares that Dermot Brigant held. “Fintan Brigant’s shares were bequeathed to his brother as he appeared to have no legitimate heirs at the time. Your grandmother never laid claim on behalf of your father.”
Sookie made a quick calculation of the shares that once belonged to her grandfather. “If we lay claim to them, Jason and I are the deciding vote between the two factions,” she deduced with Brendan and Niall on different ends of the spectrum as laid out before them.
“Yes,” Eric smiled glad to see her catch on so quickly while Jason simply scratched his head in continued confusion. “Niall, Rogan, and Mab inherited an equal amount of shares, but the trust stipulated any recognised children would be bequeathed parts of the shares upon birth. The more children and grandchildren Mab and Rogan had, the less sway they had. The fact that multiples are not uncommon in the family meant they lost a great deal of ground soon in comparison to Niall. It meant Dermot and Fintan held more shares than their cousins. Without Fintan, Dermot holds the same amount of shares minus one as his father. His continued absence; however, has always forced them to discount those votes, thus working to Niall’s favour.”
“Where do we come in?” Jason questioned.
“The source is vague, but it assures the power block with absentee votes is coming to an end; the only absentee to pose any threat being Dermot.”
“We were invited as leverage,” Sookie concluded, at which Eric nodded while Jason was barely grasping what he was trying to explain. “It’s why Uncle Des is coming in as a surprise guest at the reunion. Niall seeks to recognise us with stipulated conditions, I’m sure.”
“Uncle Des is coming over?” Jason replied unsure of how to respond to any of the information, the mention of their grandparent’s old friend was at least something to which he could truly react.
“Yeah, he was friends with Fintan and some of the other Brigants,” Sookie explained. “I don’t know if they’re really going to petition us to claim the inheritance or just threaten with it, but it explains their insistence on suddenly enveloping us into the fold.”
Jason let out an exasperated sigh, “I thought we were done with all this inheritance, legal mumbo-jumbo. Now we have to listen to it all over again.”
“Now that you two are both aware, you hold this sway,” Eric offered in commiseration. “At least you get to decide how you want to handle this. If you want, you can leave them to fight it out amongst themselves. Sell your shares to the highest bidder or disregard your claim. Expect everyone to be extremely nice to you as soon as they all figure it out.”
“What do you mean figure it out?” Jason said in confusion. “If you knew within a night, wouldn’t they all know already?”
“The article will be out in tomorrow’s paper,” Eric explained. “That’s assuming this journalist hasn’t already been probing the other members of this family, which I’m almost certain he has.”
“Well, at least they’re not trying to kill us this time,” Sookie said in exasperation, any energy for the day already gone with early mornings’ revelations.
Jason looked at her with shock at her slip of the tongue, catching on quickly for once.
“What do you mean this time?”
“It’s nothing Jas,” Sookie dismissed, hoping her brother wouldn’t pry any further.
“You’re a shit liar! Tell me!”
“Not here, not now,” Sookie pleaded with little success. With a small sigh she sought out his eyes, trying to instil her influence on him with deep remorse. “Jason, look at me.”
“Don’t you fucking dare do whatever shit you do!” her brother screamed, averting the wet pair of eyes as they sought him out. “You tell me the truth right now or we never talk again.”
“I can’t Jas, it’s too important, it’s not just about us anymore,” she whimpered, pulling Eric beside her for support causing Jason to scrutinise him, falling to deep thought.
“It’s not a coincidence he’s here, is it?” he ascertained, looking at Eric.
Sookie shook her head while wiping away the tears of confrontation. “No,” she exhaled. “Nothing’s a coincidence.”
“A’right then,” Jason whispered while pulling her into a hug. “You’ll tell me when you can, right? Which you are.” She nodded against his chest while whispering her apologies. He cupped her face momentarily, checking the threat that ability had dissipated before saying, “We may be related to them all by blood, but when it comes down to it, us two is all we got left. Now go clean yourself up, no man wants to see his girl upset,” Jason winked at her.
“Sounds more like you don’t want to see your sister cry,” Sookie sniffed with a wet smile.
“Can ya blame me?” he huffed while her smile grew wider, causing him to groan and escape the room before noisily stepping into the bathroom.
“Come here, älskling,” Eric gestured, pulling her to him and carrying her to their bedroom.
“Is it just my destiny to be collateral all the time?” she sighed into Eric’s chest while lying atop him as his hand stroked through the tangled mess of her hair.
“We’ll get through this,” he offered with a soft kiss to her forehead. “Like everything else.”
The buzzing of Eric’s cell phone interrupted their conversation. “The demon,” Eric offered in explanation before pressing the green button. Sookie played with the soft blond hairs on his chest while she overheard half the conversation, but it didn’t last long and he soon hung up.
“He wants us to meet in Lausanne before he arrives for the Brigant reunion,” Eric summarised for Sookie. “He wants to discuss things.”
“Things we spoke of earlier?” Sookie asked, even though she guessed she didn’t need an answer. Eric merely hummed in the affirmative.
“We’re taking Jason,” she stated rather than asked.
“We’ll park him at the bar,” Eric said, acknowledging his need for protection. “Maybe he’ll finally score himself some Euro ass.”
“You make it sound as if we’re leaving him at daycare,” she giggled.
“He’s family, Eric,” she said seriously. “In more ways than one.”
“I understand,” he returned before he kissed her softly while snaking his hand into her pyjama pants.
“He’ll hear!” Sookie hissed in horror with the feel of his probing fingers when they cupped her ass cheeks.
“Not right now,” Eric grinned as Jason’s severely out of tune singing grew excessively loud over the pounding shower. “We can be quick,” he reminded, flipping her over, muffling her momentary cry of protest into the pillow. His hand trailed down her sides, effectively removing her underwear and sleep pants in one swift motion, leaving her legs locked at her ankles while dragging his own clothed erection over the suddenly bare skin. “Let’s do it like this,” he spoke lowly into her ear while his fingers came to trace the lower contours of her breast underneath her shirt.
“You’re the worst,” she groaned as he expertly tweaked her nipples and with a yelp moved her behind further up against him involuntarily.
“I dare you to tell me that again after you’re screaming my name in minutes,” he chuckled while kissing down her exposed spine as the fabric of her shirt started to gather down towards her neck.
“Just hurry up already!” she hissed while moving up desperately against him, genuinely worried Jason would step out of the shower any moment now to overhear exactly what they were doing.
“Ah, ah,” he taunted effectively stilling her movement by wrapping his arms around her waist. “This is going to last exactly as long as it can.”
“Eric!” she protested while squirming in his loose hold. “Stop teasing and get on with it!”
He released her with little grace, causing her to fall forward with a high-pitched shriek. With panting breaths she listened obsessively if they had been overheard while he pulled his erection out of the elastic waist of his sleep pants.
“Am I the worst, älskling?” he taunted with great satisfaction while he slid his erection through the moisture he had managed to produce with his mischief.
“Eric!” she huffed out, refusing to give into his game, trapped between the anticipation and anxiety of it being over before they had truly begun, or worse, being caught by her brother mid-act with no assurances that she’d be able to stop this road she was travelling down now.
“What am I?” he demanded again, inching in with the slowest movement while she desperately tried to buck up against him from her somewhat confined position to little avail. She groaned in frustration against the pillow causing him to swiftly move out, leaving her even emptier and more wanting than before. “Tell me,” he whispered into her ear while holding her still by the waist.
“You’re the best,” she conceded with little enthusiasm at which he immediately thrust into her, setting a frantic pace married by his chuckles, and producing sounds of slapping skin that revealed exactly what they were doing. At that exact moment the dial on the shower turned off, and despite her best efforts, her muffled screams into the heavy down pillow could still be heard. “Oh my God! Jason!,” she cried out in shock of being discovered.
“Say it again,”Eric growled, not happy hearing the name of another man while rubbing her clit with insistent fingers, set on driving her to another edge. “Eric,” she whimpered before her voice ran to a higher pitch with the onset of another orgasm, leaving Eric not far behind, “You’re the best.”
“Fuck, yes, I am!” Jason’s voice suddenly carried through the walls, tapping the hollow wall for good measure. “Best damn brother in the world! Thanks, Sis!”
A gulp travelled down Eric’s Adam’s apple with the scorching hot glare that emitted from her eyes. “He didn’t hear a thing,” he defended with hands held up innocently in the air.
“I take it all back,” she ground out, high on indignance. “You’re the worst!”
“The best worst,” he grinned before swallowing her cries of protest with a kiss.
It didn’t surprise Sookie to meet the demon lawyer in luxurious accommodations to rival those of the hotel in Monte Carlo. In the relative warmth of spring, they were seated on the terrace enjoying a late brunch while Cataliades informed Sookie and Jason of all that Eric had already previously unravelled the night before.
“I can assist you in claiming your inheritance,” the lawyer concluded. “It will be a lengthy process and stall Brendan’s takeover attempt.”
“What would Gran have wanted?” Jason asked. “She avoided them for a reason. Having spent these last few days with them we understand some, but not all.”
“I once asked Adele why she resisted,” Cataliades began, remembering the financial struggle she suffered in favour of bending to the Bigants’ will. “They denied your father’s paternity at first. There were no accurate tests back then. She saw your father and you as Stackhouses because Earl was the man who raised you as such. She acted from that.”
“What do you think, sis?” Jason directed towards Sookie.
“We share some DNA with them. Do I want to know them under other circumstances? Yes. If we’re just here to split the forces, I don’t want to be the cause of that,” Sookie answered with a small shrug.
“There are two of you,” Cataliades observed. “You could always split the votes making your combined impact void.”
“No,” Jason said, grabbing his sister’s wrist. It was still small enough to cover fully with his hand. “We’ve fought enough over useless things. We shouldn’t be played against one another.”
“I agree with Jason,” Sookie said with a smile for her brother. “If they ask us to claim the inheritance just so Niall can keep his majority, then our answer is no. If they want to use our presence as leverage, let them, but I want no part in it.”
“Me too,” Jason added.
“You will be forfeiting a large fortune,” Cataliades informed them diligently.
“We’d be forced to sell the shares anyway,” Sookie said. “Jason and I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay the inheritance tax. I’m sure that whoever wants to buy our votes would happily pay those. I think we want to keep our hands clean.”
“Very well,” the lawyer replied. “Know that it is yours to claim should you ever change your mind in the future. Now if you will excuse us, I do have some business with Mr. Northman,” Sookie and Jason nodded in understanding when the attorney and Eric stood to move to the furthest end of the terrace offering an equally private setting overlooking the water.
“Are they making the right decision?” Eric asked.
“Depends on who is asking,” the scheming demon in the lawyer replied. Eric responded with a quirk of his brow, his question causing Cataliades to elaborate, “It is difficult to wear many hats at once. The Brigants all presume Fintan’s shares reside with Dermot as was expected; however, they are in Halina’s trust. They will all be courting the Stackhouse siblings in lieu of you, they are inevitably wasting their time on the wrong people.”
“How much of Fintan’s assets reside in the trust?” Eric asked, intrigued.
“He placed all he owned with Halina,” the attorney answered. “It was supposed to be a temporary solution until he was able to marry Adele. The arrangement lasted longer than intended.”
“His death was not accidental then,” Eric stated.
“I suspect the same,” Cataliades spoke regretfully of his good friend. “Fintan did not trust many. I was one, Halina was the other. He didn’t share with either of us why he wanted the trust established.”
“How did he know Halina?”
“You are aware of her work for the resistance in World War Two?” he asked at which Eric nodded, her position as a diplomat’s daughter had made her essential role in carrying messages throughout war torn Europe and still remained a particular point of pride of hers. “Fintan was her liaison. They went through so much together. It was the reason he believed he could trust her above all others.”
“What made him trust you?”
He chuckled before answering. “Drinks will do that to men attending Law School,” he explained as his tone became more serious, “I was his third college roommate in his initial six months. He had great difficulties sleeping after all he witnessed during the war. My own father suffered similar trauma and I knew how to cope with him in a way where others couldn’t seem to manage.”
“How well do you know Dermot?”
“I met him once when he posed as his brother,” Cataliades said with a hint of disgust. “As much as they looked alike, their personalities were polar opposites. Fintan was kind, gentle whereas Dermot is scheming and manipulative. Other lawyers at my firm have handled his business every so often.”
“You will vote on Halina’s behalf?”
“Whenever situations such as these emerged in the past I deferred to Olle, and he always chose to abstain. The decision is now yours ,” the lawyer answered.
“I’m not the legal guardian of the trust,” Eric returned.
“This is a mere technicality, you are the rightful heir,” Cataliades indicated.. “You can lay claim in the same way as the Stackhouses on your own family estates.”
“I would rather not have a greater target on my back presently.”
“Understandable,” the Demon nodded. “It will be waiting for you when this is no longer the case. I will continue to informally recognise you and still defer to you in the in the interim .”
“Do whatever is in Jason and Sookie’s best interest,” Eric replied. “I have no expertise in these matters,” Again Cataliades nodded in understanding.
“Watch your back among the Brigants,” Cataliades offered in caution. “They have been scheming from the time when they stepped off the Mayflower.”
“I’m pretty sure it their scheming that took to them to crossing the ocean,” Eric returned dryly while he offered his hand to conclude their dealings. “We’ll see you tonight.”
A/N: Thanks to msbuffy for her superior editing skills.
Thoughts? …and all those other nice things 😉 We’ll get back to the Brigants and their crazy schemes next time…
Since you all seem to love the interior porn so much, Cataliades’ hotel below.