“Did you call the dogcatcher?” I had the creeping suspicion that (with my recent luck) Alcide had gotten drunk and arrived to profess his undying love for the mailman… resigning to elope… No one knows with Weres.
Pam groaned, “I don’t think they have enough leashes.” Sookie giggled and called us ‘bad’.
“Did the whole pack get lost?”
Pam shifted to her other foot. “Like it matters. Flood is here with that bitch from last night… There’s another one too.”
“Three? Coincidentally, the Pack Master, the girlfriend of Sookie’s guard and a third unidentified Were…”
“I can take a guess. I think it’s Sookie’s shifter.”
“Why would you think that?”
“Tragic hair, plaid shirt, smells of fried food… and they noticed each other; Flood and Mr. Random Mutt. They’ve traded a few awkward looks, nothing more.”
I turned to look at Sookie, and she was mirroring Pam’s frustrated stance, only her eyes were closed.
She growled a few times before she opened her eyes and sighed, “I can’t be sure why Sam is here, but Jason said something to him to make him want to talk to me. He’s not in a crappy mood, just questioning his sanity for being here… Flood is here because he’s looking out for Alcide. Debbie went to Flood and told him that you’re blackmailing Alcide to be our guard.”
“It sounds simple enough. We simply kill that bitch Pelt and that’ll end the problem.”
She started shaking her head. “I don’t know why, but he loves her… You should call Alcide. They’re here behind his back. Besides, you can’t kill every pain in the ass.”
“Things would be so much easier if I could.”
I pulled my phone out of my pocket… Sookie in her bikini- quick mood lifter… calling the Were… Because every Vampire bar needs to have 4 of them…
“Your phone manners are for shit.”
“I’ll tell my dad that you think he could’ve raised me better. I’m sure he’ll lose sleep. Everything alright?” Just what I need, another flippant pain in my ass…
“That depends on how you define ‘alright’. Normally I don’t mind repeat customers…”
“FUCK. She’s at Fangtasia isn’t she? She’s stirring shit up.”
“Not yet. We thought you might want to join the party though… she brought your Pack Master along.”
“Oh… You’ve got to be kidding me!”
“I wish I were.”
“No. Seriously. I’ll still come by if all you want is to put Bobby in a mop and have him sing Spice Girls or whatever.” Pam’s eyes lit up at the idea.
“We’ll have to save that for another time.”
Other than growling and grunting, he was quiet for a minute. “Be there in 10.”
The three of us were on our way out to the floor when Sookie stopped and tilted her head. “You’ve got a dealer.”
Pam huffed. “That’s just spectacular. Who?”
“You were working the door… You noticed that he smelled too much like coffee. He didn’t think he’d get in. It isn’t blood though. Just powders and pills.”
“At least that’s something… Tell Me What You Want?” Already making Spice Girls plans?
Sookie giggled, “I pictured If You Wanna Be My Lover. Scary or Baby?”
Pam started laughing evilly. “Definitely Baby. What should we send?”
Sookie was quiet for a moment while she thought about the question. “Oooooh, how about a Care Bear?”
Pam was giddy. “A huge PINK one!”
“And bon bons… I’ll email Bobby in the morning so that he doesn’t have any warning.”
“Don’t tell him it’s for Alcide though. The look on Bobby’s face will be half his fun.”
I almost laughed before I realized that eventually… they’d get me.
Pam broke ranks to remove the drug dealer since we did not need the extra hassle of a narcotics raid…
And as we made our way over to Flood and the instigating bitch, Sookie reached up and gave Sam’s shoulder a pat and asked him to ‘sit tight’ until we could tend to some business.
“Mr. Flood. What can I do for you tonight?”
“We need to talk about one of your employees. It seems he was hurt in your service.” He was faking graciousness poorly, but at least he was making the attempt.
“That’s news to me… Alcide’s on his way here. My office?”
He gave a nod and began to follow us, but it was the bitch that had a problem. “What is she doing? Why does she get to go?”
I stopped and turned to her. “Miss Pelt, feel free to join us if you like, but I’m sure Mr. Flood will find Sookie’s input helpful.”
Instead of going directly into the office, Sookie went to the back door first. She led her clients in, apologizing for our ‘pressing business’ and promising to get to them as soon as possible.
They all seemed to appreciate being informed rather than being left outside witlessly and filed out to the bar politely…
With Sookie seated at my side behind my desk, I invited Flood to explain…
“Debbie here told me that Alcide painted a different picture for her than he did for me. You’re holding Jackson’s marker over him so that you’ll have a guard for your pet.”
“That’s simply not true. Mr. Herveaux was given no ultimatums.”
“How can I know that for sure? You’re a sneaky shit and you’re proud of it.” Not the point.
“Feel free to ask him when he arrives. Sookie had already chosen him to be her guard before she discovered his father’s debt. While it’s the incentive he needed to sign the contract, I told him nothing would come of turning down the job offer.”
“How did she ‘choose him’?”
“Out of all of the Weres in attendance that night, He was one of only two that weren’t behaving inappropriately towards her. That combined with his working and personal situations made him favorable to the other Were who has a family.”
The bitch sniped in Sookie’s direction, “Alcide has a family.”
Sookie scoffed. “Alcide has a father and you and his sister live out of town. When we have to travel, the other Were would miss his kids. Alcide would miss his empty house.”
How much sense that made to Flood was written all over his face. “He hasn’t been working for you a whole week yet and he’s already been injured though.”
I looked to Sookie, but she shook her head. She didn’t know anymore than I did about what the fuck he was talking about. “We aren’t aware of any injury.”
The bitch again… “He has a huge bruise on his arm! He got it from protecting her.”
Sookie forced a grin. “Picture it for me.”
The bitch snarled and Sookie started to giggle.
“Girl, if that’s what I think it is, he did that to himself…” She looked to me. “Alcide was a little overzealous when he pinned Bobby to the wall. The bruise is on his forearm and Bobby’s probably not moving his neck too comfortably today.” Gooooood boy.
Flood started shaking his head. “You’re really a telepath?”
“Yes sir. I lived under the radar for a long time, but things have changed for me recently. Now that I’m public, so to speak, I need a guard during the day to keep an eye out for me.”
“You can read any mind?”
“No sir. Vampires are a blank, but I’m useful to them when it comes to their pets and employees. For anyone else I’m a walking lie detector.”
“So how full of shit is this one?” He pointed to his ‘offended’ companion.
Sookie giggled. “Completely. She’s got a bad temper on her and she thinks Alcide and I are fooling around. He told her exactly what was going on with his dad’s marker and she chose to make you think Eric is blackmailing him because she doesn’t want him around me and knows that Alcide wouldn’t go against you. Alcide also told her exactly how he got that bruise, but she told you that he was nearly killed… That there was a ‘big fight’ when Alcide just pushed a man away from me and did the ‘big and scary’ thing. He’d have done more damage, but we were in public.”
Flood nodded and turned to scowl at Pelt, but we were joined by Pam and Alcide…
Pam came in to place a drink on the corner of the desk for Sookie, grab a handful of disclosures and pens and leave again without a word.
No sooner than the door closed, Alcide growled at the girlfriend. With his arms folded over his chest, the bruise in question was easily seen and impressive even though it was already fading. “What the fuck could you possibly have told the Colonel to get him out here on a Sunday night?”
She stared at him without a good excuse so I took over. “I’m blackmailing you with your father’s marker and you were injured in sizable brawl.”
“So she left out the part where we argued about what happened last night and she told me she was going back to Jackson, but decided to stick around to fuck up tonight with her bullshit.”
“That seems to be the case.”
Flood turned to him. “What happened last night?”
“She waited for me to fall asleep and came up here to pick a fight with Sookie, but that was my fault. Everything got explained to her while she was here. She knows better than what she spewed at you.”
“How was that your fault?”
“Instead of denying her accusations, I egged her on. My fault.”
“But you said it was settled before she left.”
“Yes sir. Sookie humored her even though Debbie was bowed up on an officially protected asset of the queen. She did it out in the bar with plenty of witnesses and these folks put up with more than they should’ve.”
Flood stood up, adjusting his belt with a huff. “This isn’t a pack matter, but if she comes to me like this again, I won’t have a choice… I’m missing the news. My apologies, Sheriff. I was just…”
I cut him off, accepting that I’d most likely have done the same thing in his position. “Just looking out for your pack… Our jobs aren’t much different.”
“Just the same… Pleasure to meet you Miss Stackhouse.”
Sookie reciprocated politely as he showed himself out.
Alcide hadn’t wanted to, but he eventually took the seat that Flood had vacated. Before anyone had the opportunity to speak, Pam came in to deliver a beer for Alcide and she turned to leave again…
The bitch snapped, “What? You aren’t going to offer me one?”
Pam didn’t bother to look back as she left. “No.”
Debbie scowled at Alcide for thanking her though… I’d have to get to the bottom of that later… If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Pam had a degree of respect for Alcide.
Sookie interrupted my wonder by snorting, “No. He’s not ‘screwing’ her either.”
“STOP DOING THAT!”
All three of us laughed at her.
Alcide sat back, taking a sip of his beer. “I’m sure y’all are sick of hearing it, because I’m sick of saying it… Sorry. I’m sorry about all of this.”
I raised an eyebrow at him. “Are you permitted to keep her on a leash?”
“No, and she’d chew right through it if I tried.”
“Then, all things considered, there doesn’t seem to be any responsibility lying at your feet. I assume Flood was suggesting that he’d abjure her if she doesn’t learn to heel.”
He nodded, but she gasped. “HEEL!?”
As though I was in the mood for her before… “Let me explain it to you, Miss Pelt. You’ve embarrassed your boyfriend, his Pack Master and have wasted Sookie’s valuable time while disrupting the course of the Sheriff’s business. Any one of those acts by themselves is out of li…”
“How valuable could that trash be?” Trash? More infuriating than her opinion of Sookie was Sookie’s lack of reaction to the word…
“On average, she makes approximately $400 per MINUTE. Do you have any other questions?”
“Yeah, as a matter of fact… Who’s that Shifter out there? Is he the guy you’re replacing Alcide with once you get him killed?”
“How many other Weres are risking their asses protecting your pets?”
“I don’t keep pets. Alcide is the personal bodyguard for my bonded and her grandmother. Are you done yet?”
Sookie shook her head. “No. She’s just getting started… No, Eric’s not ‘screwing’ my grandmother too. No, Alcide doesn’t want to ‘screw’ me. Yes, I do think he’s too good for you. And no, it’s not true that Were blood makes vampires ill. Some of them are quite fond of it so you aren’t ‘safe’ just because you’re a Were…”
“GET OUT OF MY HEAD, YOU FANGBANGING CUNT!” Even Alcide understood how close she was to going missing and leaned away from her.
Alcide’s head fell back out of exasperation. “Are you seriously that stupid?”
“She’s reading my mind!”
“Uh-huh… That’s nice. You could’ve asked her to stop without name-calling. I probably should’ve let you think she’s just a fangbanger…”
“She fucks a vamp. She’s a fangbanger.”
“No more than one beer makes a person an alcoholic. They’re practically married for fuck sakes! Why don’t we stick to the Top 10 List of ways you’re being a complete idiot.” Only 10?
She delivered a snotty look to her boyfriend that needed to be slapped off of her face and turned to Sookie and slathered on a faux gentile tone. “Fine… Soooooookie, could you find it in your heart to stop poking around in my head?”
Sookie snickered. “Debbie, I use a lot of energy respecting the privacy of others and trying to avoid their thoughts, but you can bet your narrow ass, if you’re around I’m going to be listening to you. All you’ve done is give me reasons to watch out for you.”
“YOU BITCH!…” Her indignation was laughable, but short lived…
Sookie cut her off by growling and stood up to lean over my desk quickly enough to scare the bitch back in her chair. “You need to shut up. You need to stop pushing buttons when you don’t know what’ll happen. You need to learn how to back down when you know you’re wrong. You need to apologize to Alcide, Mr. Flood and the Sheriff, but since YOU are a bitch and won’t, YOU NEED TO GET OUT BEFORE YOU FIND OUT HOW MUCH DAMAGE I CAN DO TO YOU!”
The bitch stood up, matching Sookie’s stare. “You think you’re any kind of match for a Were, sweetheart?”
“Since I have the backup, I’m willing to find out.”
Debbie took a step to put herself in Sookie’s face. “Bitch, you have no idea who you’re fucking with.”
Before any of us knew what was happening, Sookie reached out and with a slight shove, had put Pelt into her seat. Our recent exchange had increased her speed and strength that much more… Sookie glared at the shocked Were. “I think the important thing for you to have a handle on here, is that you don’t know who you’re fucking with…”
Alcide started chuckling as he took a sip of his drink. “Told ya. Keep it up.”
“You son of a bitch… Defend me!”
“Defend you? You mean make excuses for your lying and trouble making? You pulled my Pack Master out of bed by telling lies that could’ve started a damn grudge war… And if you want me to defend you from Sookie, well, you’ve got the wrong guy. I told you she’d beat your ass if you kept it up. And just so you know, I’ll tell everyone that you got your ass handed to you by a human.”
“She’s not human… she’s a blood fed redneck…”
“Whatever… You gonna head home yet or talk yourself into a hospital? You can share an ambulance with that Shifter you’re preoccupied with… He doesn’t have much sense either.”
“You’re fine with this? You’re fine risking your ass to protect some vampire’s whore!?”
“Noooo… But I’m fine with keeping an eye out for Sookie.” Well put, but the longer Debbie was allowed to speak, the closer I was to going over my desk to get my hands around her spindly neck.
“This is ridiculous! Vampire shit’ll get you killed.”
“Right now, my bigger concern is your mouth getting you killed. You don’t have to like that I’m moonlighting as her guard. You just have to deal with it.”
“All for your dad’s debt!? What happens next year when it’s paid off and runs up another marker?” By then he’d be blacklisted.
“Debbie. Go home.”
She stared at him for so long that I was tempted to grab her mangy ass and carry her out, but she eventually stomped out of the office on her own volition…
Sookie grinned sympathetically. “I don’t know, but it should tell you something.”
He growled at her half-heartedly, apparently annoyed that she was answering one of his thoughts.
She giggled and swirled her finger in the air. “Sorry. Working. It was an accident.”
His eyes rolled. “This time… So, uh… did I say I’m sorry yet?” I actually found myself feeling sorry for the bastard. He probably had no idea how trivial the production had been… a drop in a bucket compared to most of the shit that I have to deal with.
“Don’t be. If she keeps this up, I can cancel Pam’s subscription to TeleMundo.”
He snorted, “Like sands in an hour glass…”
Sookie giggled the ending, “…These are the days of our lives.” I pretended to not understand rather than explain that one of Pam’s safe house past times had been catching up on her ‘stories’… 47 episodes once. Back to back… Needless to say, after 5 nights I was willing to deal with the risks of leaving the safe house.
Pam came into the office and shared Sookie’s chair with her with a wide grin. “So, what’d I miss?”
Sookie laughed and nudged her. “Nothing! You were spying.”
Pam gasped playfully. “Whooooo? Meeeee?… By the way, that dress…” She pointed back and forth between Sookie’s breasts. “See why it didn’t fit? Those are… simply hypnotic.” She was right about that.
“And your ass woulda hung out. You’re longer in the bod than me.”
Pam gave her a knowing smirk. “But a flirty little pair of rumba-panties…”
Sookie snorted, “Bullshit. You’da worn a thong… If anything.”
Pam shook her head. “And?”
Alcide’s eyes started rolling at the ‘girl-talk’. “So why is Merlotte here? Y’all have a Were Night I haven’t heard about or did y’all just hit the two-natured lotto?”
Pam deadpanned, “Just lucky, I guess.”
I snorted at her. “You’ll get over it. You’re a closet animal lover.”
“I. Am. Not.”
“I have evidence.”
“You do not!” She regretted her denial as soon as she’d opened her mouth.
“Your charitable tax write-off for the past 5 years have been zoos… AND you cried at Tarzan.”
Alcide started laughing. “Which one?”
“The last couple of years… Houston. They need a new primate habitat.” Pam crossed her arms to set into her pout.
“No. Which Tarzan?”
“Greystoke and Disney’s.”
She spat her defense. “He wasn’t happy living as a human!”
The rest of us shared a round of looks before we started laughing at her.
“…It was a metaphor!”
“If you say so… What’s your excuse for violently sobbing over the baby gorilla’s death at the beginning of the cartoon?”
She opened her mouth to reply, but Alcide beat her to it… “Hey… That was some sad shit… and then when the mom gorilla found baby Tarzan… Cried like a baby.” He nodded solemnly enough.
He managed a serious face for moment before he started shaking his head and laughing. “No! Not really! It was a cartoon!”
We all laughed hard enough that I almost felt sorry for Pam…
It was decided that Sookie would go out to the bar to deal with her Shifter…
His ‘comfort level’ being her primary reason… He’d feel uncomfortable in close quarters with me. Not that I gave a shit, but she managed to sell her plan by reminding us that meeting him out at the bar would give us all access to spy more subtly…
While Sookie took a moment to use the bathroom, Alcide posted himself at the other end of the bar, Pam went to work the door and I went to my seat on the stage… the orchestrated positioning was anything but subtle.
Once in place, I grabbed my phone to check for messages…
I had the usual barrage of needy requests for how to attain Sookie’s services… and one from Jason… ‘You’re house is all electric right? I just heard on the news that 6 ppl died cuz of a gas leak.”
That was NOT stupid.
That was a well veiled message if ever I read one… I couldn’t bring myself to care that he probably spent a while trying to come up with it… The message that my ‘drainer’ problem had been defused was impressive considering its source. Not only was the text well guarded, but I had to give him credit for thinking to word it carefully at all… He could’ve sent, ‘them vamps kilt those drainers 4 ya’.
Jason’s nature wasn’t as puzzling now that I understood that a mysterious Faerie heritage was involved, in fact it explained what I could only describe as a heightened intuition… Impressed as I was with his instincts, every display reminded me that Sookie and I had a long discussion ahead of us…
And it would need to happen soon so that she wouldn’t feel as though I was hiding it from her…
As Sookie emerged from the back, I began using emails as cover for my observation.
She patted the Shifter’s shoulder again as she sat next to him. “Hey Sam.” Her ‘companion’ attracted attention immediately. Every undead set of eyes in the bar was drawn to the two of them.
“Hey, busy night?”
“Pretty slow actually. Who’da thought vampires rest on Sunday too, right?”
He snorted. “That is kinda funny.”
Sookie grinned and ordered a beer and a cherry coke from Chow… “So what brings you out?”
He cleared his throat and squirmed. “Is this as private as I’m going to get?”
“Unless you want Eric to be with us in his office, yes. After what happened at lunch the other day, you’ve got no right to argue his reason for concern.”
He groaned quietly in submission. “I guess not. The wolf a necessity too?” Alcide smirked and showed his ‘fuck you’ finger from his perch.
“Not with Eric here, but it’s never a bad idea for your guard to be in the know.”
“Guard? You called him your friend the other day.”
“He’s that too, but I didn’t want everyone in Bon Temps to wonder why I have a guard. Silly me, I thought you might have figured that out… So what did Jason say to make you want to talk to me?”
His face looked almost angry when he turned to look at her. “You couldn’t always read my mind like that.”
She shrugged. “My telepathy is stronger now.”
“Because of his blood.” His tone was accusatory and she didn’t appreciate it anymore than I did.
“That’s probably part of it, but I’m using the telepathy now too instead of pushing it back.”
“So you are taking his blood?”
“We’re bonded, Sam. Yes.”
“Did Eric kill Bill to get him out of the way? Whole towns talking about how he disappeared right after they had that argument.”
“I guess the gossips aren’t mentioning that Eric ordered him out of the area.”
“No… They’re making sure to mention Bill was tossed like a hot potato though.”
Sookie huffed. “Bill’s probably still strung up with silver… He was going to turn me and use my ability for his own gain. The queen is not amused.”
He gasped… like a girl. “He was… what if you rose and didn’t have it anymore?”
“I think he was hoping I’d rise and it’d be stronger, but I’m sure he’d have ended me if he was wrong.”
“That explains the 3 vampires who came into the bar looking for Bill… Any idea why 2 giant Germans came in? I’m pretty sure they glamoured Arlene, Terry and Lafayette after pumping them for info about you.”
She giggled, “Saxons.”
“Saxons. They’re older than Germany… They’re Saxons. They were probably just making sure that there weren’t any home town concerns about safety. They might have glamoured them to report seeing Bill around once he’s cut lose since he’s banished from the state… And I was still on the fence about working.”
“What changed so suddenly?”
She was quiet for a moment, taking a sip of her drink… she spent a moment deliberating before she reached across the bar to grab a pen and a napkin. “By a strange twist of fate, I’m going to be a mother.” She was still having the same peculiar feeling when it was mentioned. Not planning for his arrival or his care, simply when things were put into terms of relationships… It was as though the idea of motherhood gave her a sense of playing Russian roulette. As though she knew she shouldn’t do ‘it’, but felt compelled… terror and thrill in tandem.
She grinned at him, clearly anticipating his reaction and slid the napkin over. Wondering how that napkin’s note was worded would nag at me until I could ask.
He looked at it for a moment, holding it in a shaky hand. “No.”
“Yeah. Crazy huh?”
“How the hell are you going to manage that?”
“You… You’re… And he…?” He glanced in my direction for a moment. He obviously had a thousand and one questions to ask that he couldn’t get answers to in the open…
“Yes, yes, and yes… He’s moving in this week… You still haven’t told me what you and Jason talked about.”
He stared at Sookie. He stared for too long… I had just realized that he was letting her read his mind when Alcide snarled, “Out loud, dickhead. There’s a reason you don’t get any privacy.” Even though he had a better vantage point, I was still impressed that he picked up on Sam’s maneuver… As subtle as Sam was trying to be, the fact that Sookie’s guard was capable of noticing made me feel much better about his position… Pam even sent an approving glance in my direction… Sookie really had picked a good one.
Merlotte all but ignored Alcide’s order, intent on finishing his thought before moving to speak. “I’m starting to realize I’ve been more of an asshole than called for.” You think?
She giggled, “Behave.”
He lifted his hands in confusion. “What? I was…”
She shook her head, waving her finger in my direction, then Alcide’s. “Not you. Them.” She’d heard me again… 5. Five times that I knew of… I caught myself wondering why it didn’t bother me…
“What’s he doing?”
“Nothing… Why’d it take Jason, Sam?”
He shrugged and moved as though he had a death wish, lifting Sookie’s hand from where it was resting on the bar, studying her ring as he spoke. “I don’t know. I guess it was how he hated Bill even talking to you… He’d sit in the bar and bitch about him. The more he drank, the worse he got… He’d just hurt you. He’d just use you. There was just something about the shifty asshole he didn’t trust… There had to be more O negative blondes, why’d Bill have to pick his sister for dinner…”
“So you figured that if Jason isn’t worried about my safety and bitching about Eric the same way…”
“He’d know since he’s been around y’all.”
I felt her flash of anger as she yanked her hand away from him. “You mean as opposed to just taking my word for it?” I’d anticipated when I felt how calm Sookie was about his presence, that she’d easily forgive his behavior… A fact that only mildly annoyed me. Not that her burying the proverbial hatchet with him is something that’d bother me, if not for her peace of mind but for the fact that having a Shifter as an ally rather than an embittered romantic reject is a plus… but my sense of fairness admittedly would have been damaged since I’d suffered her indignant wrath for two nights. It wasn’t going to bother masking that it was nice to see he wasn’t as easily forgiven, all things considered.
“I told you… I’m only now starting to realize what an asshole I’ve been.”
“An asshole that very nearly got himself killed for not knowing how long his chain is…”
“Knock that off…”
Sookie didn’t even look back to bring Alcide into the conversation. “Alcide, how long is my leash?”
“You don’t need one. You know how to behave.” Good answer… He might get a treat for that… especially since every single fucking nosey ass vampire in the bar was tuned into Sookie’s discussion with Sam like it was the season finale of their favorite TV show. The humans were typically oblivious, but the vampires weren’t customers as much as spectators.
“Thank you…” She gave Sam a look daring him to be indignant before she continued with him. “Sam don’t think for a second that showing up here now that you heard from my brother is going to make up for the fact that you spent more than a week treating me like dirt based on some misguided belief that you’re the only ‘special’ person who isn’t what nightmares are made of. You have no idea how much it hurt that you would dismiss how long we’ve been friends because you don’t approve of who I choose to spend my life with.”
“You’re going to be pissed at me for a while, huh?”
“You bet your ass I am. You had the balls to insult my grandmother’s stability and you called me brainless!”
“I told you…”
“Are we going to talk about how you suggested that I was only with my master because of what he spends on me?” Like hearing her say the words weren’t enough… Feeling how she meant them… watching the metaphorical rod go up Sam’s ass at hearing them… I couldn’t get her home soon enough.
“What I meant…”
“Because I can tell you, not that you’ll pay it any mind until someone else testifies, that Eric spoils me by keeping me safe.”
“I know that now…”
“Right. Because someone else informed you that I’m not a gold digger. Not because you know me better than to think that.”
“Would you stop interrupting. I said I’m…”
“Starting to realize what an asshole you’ve been. Funny thing about that… You’ve known me a hell of a lot longer than Eric and he…”
“I get it! I’m sorry!”
“Yeah. Good. I’m glad something finally yanked your head out of your ass.” No, his head was dislodged when she called me her master loud enough for the whole bar to hear her.
“Yeah, well… who’s gonna do that for you?”
“You act like you’ve never had a bad reaction to anything in all of your life. You’re a stubborn bitch when you want to be.”
“Yep. I’m a real horse’s ass about having one of my closest friends be a complete hypocrite.”
“How am I being a hypocrite?”
“Because you’ve been damning me based on Dark Shadows/Bram Stoker notions… How much would you like it if I turned it around on you and trusted The Howling and Silver Bullet? It’s all bullshit and you know it.”
“Not all of it. Vampires actually do drink blood.”
She cleared her throat. “And what do you do during a full moon?” Alcide coughed out ‘goats’ earning a dirty look from Sam… He seemed oh so worried.
“Not the point.”
“Yes it is. Why don’t we all set a date for a movie night. We can watch Underworld…” She rolled her eyes and looked over to Alcide. “Thanks a buttload. You just ruined the ending!” Alcide managed to look apologetic while he laughed.
Sam growled at her. “Fine. I fucking get it…”
“Do you? Because I’m pretty pissed that you’re acting like you’re the only one with the right to be different.”
“I was born like this though…”
She cocked her head to the side. “Seriously?… You’re not the only one who didn’t get any choices. You’re being really biased… And neglecting the fact that I’M the only one here with the distinction of being born a certain way. Everyone else can remember something about being plain ole human. Look, I’m glad you miss our friendship enough to feel guilty about how you’ve been acting, but missing me doesn’t make me any less Eric’s and you’re obviously still hung up on that. Go home.”
He stood up, looking very confused. “Sookie. I…”
“It means a lot to me that you tried, but I can hear your doubts. I’ll give you a do-over later.”
“I don’t expect you to go around singing vampire praises, but I don’t want to be around you when you’re still being hateful since you can’t hide it from me.”
He gave her a long look before he nodded and started for the door.
As soon as he was gone, Sookie made a show of using the sink behind the bar to wash his scent from her hands… further proving to the audience of on-looking vampires that she doesn’t need a leash…
She walked directly over to me and waited until I held my hand out for hers to lead her into my lap since there was still some lingering interest from the peanut gallery.
“Adele was right. He’s starting to come around.”
She huffed, “We should talk about it later. Right now, I’m being negligent.”
“I don’t think any of your clients mind too much. They were paying close attention to the show.”
She giggled. “No more than you and Alcide.”
“We were being alert… They were prying.”
“Nice loophole. Let’s get this taken care of… Most of them aren’t going to take but a minute.” She stood up, still holding my hand.
“You’ve already read them, haven’t you?”
She winked at me. “Before they were out of the back hallway.”
Seven vampires and twelve pets were in and out of the office in less than 30 minutes…
Sookie had paid little attention to how anyone had been in position in line, but since she was moving her customers so quickly (most of them hadn’t needed to sit down), no one seemed to mind…
Hendrick was Sookie’s 8th paying customer… He was one of the ‘young’ vampires that I had intended to call in for Sookie to test… to listen for the ‘whispering’…
Rather than the brisk yet polite service she’d been offering to the turnstile of clients, she sat back into her chair and eyed the vampire curiously before informing him that the only concern he had where his pet was concerned was that she was only interested in him for the sex… and he couldn’t have been happier to hear the news. He was only in the office for a moment and once he was gone, Sookie gave me a frustrated shake of her head…
The mysterious whispering she’d heard from Hadley wasn’t because she was a young vampire like I’d hoped…
That left Faeries… and finding a cooperative Fae was probably going to prove to be as simple as finding a sexy troll.
Even if finding one was possible, there was still the possibility that the ‘whispers’ were a product of still unknown variables…
Sookie let gravity do all of the work of putting her into the car to go home.
“Your fatigue is sudden.”
“I’m just sick of the crap. It bothers me that Sam underestimates me so much… And he’s being so two-faced right now… He says he’s sorry for being a jerk, but he’s blaming you… even though Alcide was right there, he’s positive that you’ve turned me against him because ‘it’s no secret that Vamps hate Weres’.”
“So what wisdom was it that Jason imparted on him that inspired the visit?”
“It all started when he asked Arlene how she was holding up… She lashed out at him and called him a sympathizer… He actually didn’t say anything directly to Sam, but most of the bar heard him.”
“Do I want to know?”
“He told her that he is a sympathizer now that he’s met a few vampires… some good, some bad… he told her, and I quote, ‘That vampire Sookie’s with is a scary mother fucker when he needs to be. You wouldn’t want to cross him any more than you’d tell Mrs. Fortenberry a secret… but he’s good to Sookie and Gran and that’s all I give a shit about. But none of that changes that I was asking how you and your youngins are doing. If I wanted to hear crazy anti-vampire shit I’d just visit your boyfriend in jail.”
“Sam was what… remembering it to you?”
“That’s a good way to put it… Do you think Jason did any damage when he went running off at the mouth?”
I faked a sniffle, hoping to lighten her mood. “I think your brother likes me.”
She giggled lightly. “You’re not worried, then.”
“No… He did call me a scary mother fucker…” Drawling like Jason earned another giggle from her. “…I’m sure no one paid much attention, but his sentiment was harmless.”
“Good. He’d be upset if he found out he screwed up.”
“I’m sure… How was it that you worded the news of Hunter to Sam?”
“That I’m adopting a little boy. I’m not willing to give any more details than that especially considering Sam’s state of mind right now. The last thing we need is for him to start gossiping while he’s still upset.”
“I think that remaining unclear in general is in our best interests. More details would lead to more examination. We shouldn’t have to answer too many questions… Once your Bon Temps neighbors know, there won’t be many others who would think to ask.”
“You’re the ‘sneaky shit’… I guess I’ll defer to you.”
“Flood certainly has a way with words.”
“He thinks you’re ‘a conniving bullshit artist’, but he’s heard stories that make him grateful… He had some serious ugliness playing out in his head… it was a long time ago… palm trees… it was much less successful Vampire/Were relations.”
“We’ll have to keep that between us. If rumors get out that we have any kind of esteem for each other, things could get ugly.”
She smiled at me. “My lips are sealed… What are you still curious about? Debbie?”
“Not her. She’s typical enough that your ability is superfluous. She’s just another jealous bitch… What I was wondering about was Alcide’s thoughts… the ones you reacted to.”
She cringed. “In the office… He thought, ‘why am I always happy to see her leave?’ and then in the bar when you were being sarcastic, he was wondering if Shifters could actually turn into just an asshole… the mental image was horrible.”
When I started laughing, she managed to snicker… barely.
Adele had spent a large part of the day baking and had worn herself out enough to fall asleep in the library while Jason and Bubba rattled on about baseball… Bubba actually apologized for having bored her and was disappointed to hear that he’d have Monday night off… But the goon was just as happy to have been ‘visiting with Jason’ and the feeling was seemingly mutual.
The two geniuses took their leave while Sookie and I settled Adele into her bed. She hadn’t budged when I picked her up and only stirred to offer a sleepy ‘goodnight’ as I set her down…
Once in our room, Sookie unceremoniously let her dress fall away before sliding into bed…
I sat at the desk in our room to get some actual work accomplished including writing a stock email with answers to the most frequently asked questions about Sookie’s services and replying to the more complicated ones I’d received earlier in the evening…
While my activities weren’t much different from the motions I’d gone through on the night we argued, a certain peace came from being close to her… She was exhausted… enough that even in her sleep it was affecting me… but it wasn’t my fault this time.
Pam waited until I was nearly done with the chore of paperwork to call and check in… rather, pry about my weary mood. The brat was disappointed that the reasoning wasn’t more ‘exciting’… so harassing her about waitressing for a Were gave her an excuse to leave me be.
I’d barely slid into place next to Sookie before she snuggled into my side.
She mumbled sleepily, “Sorry.”
“If he’s going to have this effect on you, I don’t want Sam around you.”
“You’re too drained to smile.”
I watched her try, but she failed before she managed to fake a grin. “I wish you hadn’t told me that he’s a Shifter… I don’t think it would hurt as bad if I still thought he’s just a human.” It wouldn’t matter… he had still turned his back on her. He hadn’t been one of her best friends, he’d been one of her only friends and he should fucking know her well enough to see that she’s fine.
“Can I kill him?”
“No… Screw him. He doesn’t get the satisfaction of being right about anything.”
“What if I just have him neutered during the next full moon?”
She tried to laugh, but it was merely a hum. “That… if he keeps it up… maybe.”