From our vantage point at the curb, I could only see Sookie’s feet resting on Alcide’s back. Gawain chuckled, reminding me about the dog he used to have that greeted visitors the same way Alcide greeted Sookie…
Sookie gasped and muttered, “Nononononono,” before there was a long menacing growl. “I need you to chill.”
The growl continued, “I missed you.”
She answered, “I missed you too, but… this isn’t a booty call.”
“What’s wrong? Baby, why do you smell like death? What happened?”
“I’ve been staying with Vampires the past few nights… Alcide, Jack went to the Sheriff and suggested Aunt Linda might be Vampire material…”
Another growl, “HE DID WHAT!?”
When Alcide pushed himself up, Sookie went with him because she was holding onto his head. His hands held them together, cupped under her ass, but otherwise, she looked like she was clinging to the trunk of a tree.
“Sweetie, she wasn’t going to kick it. The doctors didn’t even think treatments were going to work… Northman talked to her about it first. She had the choice… Alcide, she keeps saying she’s never felt better.”
He raised an eyebrow. “No shit? You talked to her?”
“Sweetie, that’s why I smell like Vampires. Northman took her to ground and he let me stay at his place while he was with her. They’ve been great… to me and to her.”
“She… she’s fine though. She’s okay, right?”
Sookie nodded. “Gran and Jason have already seen her. She’s staying in Shreveport for now, but she’ll be able to go back to Bon Temps once Vampires come out…”
He snorted, “And she’ll be able to scare the shit out of everyone on a whole new level.”
Sookie laughed, “Her fangs are sexy… She’s a knockout. No one’s going to believe your old man used to date her.”
“We don’t know. I haven’t even talked to her about him. I promised to let him know if anything changes, and something changed…”
“You’re here to feel him out. Check him for buyer’s remorse so you can let her know how to approach their breakup.”
“No. That’s only half right. I’m checking him for buyer’s remorse and repulsion and hope… not so she knows how to break up with him, God knows she already knows how to do that. So she isn’t surprised. That’s it.”
“Has she mentioned him at all?”
“Yes, but it was in passing, sort of… and I can’t hear her thoughts anymore. She’s a void like that Vampire we ran into at the bar. Turns out, I can’t hear their thoughts.”
“At least you finally have some peace and quiet… Back to sort of in passing.”
“There was another Vampire teasing her, picking every nerve he could think of to test her temper… When he slammed Jack, she called him her Wolf and she was not fucking around. And then there was a shitload of TMI and unless you want to hear about garter belts…”
He quickly covered her mouth, but he was laughing. “Don’t you dare. I’ve been dreaming about you tying me down again. Don’t ruin it.”
She giggled, “I didn’t need that floating around in my head either.”
He uncovered her mouth and asked, “Now that you aren’t tending to Linda anymore, can our bullshit break be over?”
Sookie was silent for a moment before asking, “Do you have a baby-momma yet?”
He’d barely moved to shake his head in the negative before she leaned back and started crawling away, but he caught her around the waist and barked, “Stubborn bitch! Get back here and listen to me!”
If I wasn’t sure making noise would result in a closed window (and more difficult eavesdropping) I would have laughed… he had to tackle and pin her and she didn’t give up easily.
Shortly after a loud thud, she snarled, “Ten words or less.”
“I tried. You ruined me. Sperm bank. Win/win.”
“Already or eventually?”
“Eventually. I told Flood I’m not interested in playing the Jerry-Springer-baby-daddy-child-support-visitation games involved in knocking up some random bitch. He’s going to let me know because everyone goes to him about breeding recommendations. He took it to Dad so they’re looking that way. All done. I’m clear.”
While I was curious about the silence, Gawain started laughing through his nose… and wandered away from me. “Do you have anything to read? We’re going to be here for a while…”
I had my mouth open to ask a question I was sure I didn’t want the answer to when Alcide growled, “Oh my fucking God… that mouth… fuuuuuuuuuuck Sookie…”
And for the first time, I was jealous of a Were.
In the amount of time I spent trying to decide if I would ring the doorbell or knock on the window, because I refused to stand on the curb and wait for her to fuck her boyfriend like a chauffeur, Sookie decided for me.
There was a loud slap and a grunt, followed by Sookie ordering, “Pants. I told you this isn’t a booty call.”
“I don’t have pants that’ll cover what you just did. Tease. That’s just wrong.”
“You’ll get over it. We’ll meet for lunch tomorrow.”
“Public or private?”
“Get pants. Private…” She appeared in the window again when she stood up, but she disappeared again and landed with a loud thud.
Gawain sucked air past his teeth and hissed, “That’s going to bruise.”
Sookie only grunted.
Alcide argued, “I’m not going to behave if it’s just us.”
He groaned again and she answered, “We need to talk.”
“You don’t… fuck. Loosen up… Thanks… You don’t talk. You Scream.”
Gawain chuckled, “As much fun as this is, I want a visual…” He sped through the yard before I could suggest otherwise and scaled the house, taking almost the same path Sookie had…
Then he perched on the windowsill silently.
He waited a moment before blurting, “That’s remarkable. You can barely get your hand around that thing. How the fuck did you swallow it?”
Alcide growled, “Sheriff?”
Sookie snorted, “Gawain. Welsh God of fuckery… Gawain, Alcide Herveaux…”
Gawain finished, “Lwizyané God of abundance. I might convert… Do you prefer candles or offerings?”
Sookie groaned, “You’re so freakin’ creepy when you want to be… Thanks for the bucket of ice water. We’re back on task. Get off the roof.”
“I’m not going anywhere until I see how the fuck he walks with that in pants.”
Sookie growled, “Gawain…”
He motioned for Sookie to come towards him. “Come along. He can calm down while he finds a hoop skirt to cover his cock and open the front door for us…” Sookie made a subtle noise, but Gawain shook his head. “You won’t behave either. You can pole dance later.”
Sookie took Gawain’s hand, but Alcide offered, “Sook, Dad’s gonna need… He’s tanked again.”
Sookie sighed, “Invite Gawain in. He can help me get him to the tub… Eric’s on the curb waiting too.”
Sookie nodded. “He can’t be mad at you this time. He opened this can of worms by going to the Sheriff.”
By the time Alcide pulled on a pair of sweatpants and invited me in through the front door, Jackson Herveaux was laying in the tub in the master bathroom with a cold jet of water pounding against his chest.
He didn’t seem to notice, and I had to assume the empty Johnnie Walker bottles on his nightstand and floor were responsible for his stupor. It didn’t seem as though he’d changed out of his work clothes, but since Sunday wasn’t usually on construction schedules, I had to wonder how long that had been going on… As it was, the bathroom smelled like a bar-rag at last call.
Every other part of the house I’d seen had been exceptionally neat… they either had a maid or Alcide was an excellent housekeeper.
Sookie sat on the edge of the tub… patting Jack’s hand, trying to rouse him… going as far as pushing her thumbnail into the quick under his.
Alcide was leaning against the vanity while Gawain and I filled the doorframe… Witnesses to rock-bottom.
Without any response, Sookie turned the water off and stepped into the tub, squatting between Jackson’s legs.
Alcide warned, “Watch it, Sook. You know how he gets…”
She shook her head and leaned closer, kissing Jack’s cheek and whispering in his ear, “Jackson Herveaux, you should be ashamed of yourself. Uppity asshole, going on a bender with Johnnie Walker Black. That’s sacrilege. You should just get a cheap jug of rot-gut to drink once you catch a buzz. You’ll never notice the difference and you won’t be barfing up money you could be using to spoil the grandbaby you’ve got coming.”
His eyes fluttered.
Sookie cleared her throat and continued to whisper, “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
The Macbeth passage was oddly fitting… but she was impersonating Linda… trying to make a dream he was having work in her favor?
Jack lifted his arm, clumsily resting his hand on Sookie’s shoulder, whimpering nothing more than, “Lin.”
She held his wrist and cooed, “Wake up, big guy. We’ve got talking to do.”
He balled his hands into fists, but he wrapped his huge arms around her shoulders to pull her down… She looked like a doll being strangled.
Alcide shook his head. “How the fuck do you do that? I couldn’t get him to move that much with a bulldozer.”
We could barely see Sookie grin over Jack’s arms.
She warned, “Jack, you snap out of it or I’m gonna cover you in cow bites.”
Without another reaction, Sookie lifted her hand to demonstrate, pinching a large amount of the flesh under his arm until the pad of her thumb was white…
When he winced, she grabbed his side…
He actually let out a groan, so she pinched the meat of his love handle…
He gasped, pulling one of his arms away…
His eyes finally opened when she pinched the top of his leg.
He didn’t seem to notice anything but the blonde in his arms.
He grabbed Sookie’s shoulders and yanked her away, growling, “Lin,” as he tried to focus on her face.
Sookie put her hands on either side of his neck and corrected, “Sookie, big guy. Sookie.”
His face pulled down and he slurred, “Sookie? Sookie, I’m sorry. I killed her.”
She shook her head and stroked his cheek. “No Jack, you didn’t.”
He nodded. “I did… I went to a Vampire… Sook, she’s gonna hate me. She’s gonna hate me. She coulda beat it, but I got scared… I went to the house. No one’s been there… She’s gone. Hank said Northman hasn’t been back…”
“Shhhhhhh, calm down, Jack.”
His voice boomed, “How am I supposed to calm down!?”
“She wasn’t going to beat it. The doctor called and wanted her to come in for the results. You know how it goes. For good news they call and let you have a party at home. For bad news, they want you see how sad they look when they break the news.”
He nodded and hissed, “Those motherfuckers practice that face.”
Sookie smiled at him. “Screw them. They don’t get to use it this time… Jack, she rose tonight.”
“Northman met her. That’s all it took.”
“And she hates me.”
Sookie shook her head. “She loves being a Vampire. She loves being strong. She loves having a clear head. She talks with a lisp when her fangs are down so Gran and Jason made fun of her.”
“She’s okay? She saw her mom and everything?”
“Gran couldn’t be happier. She’s never going to have to bury her daughter…”
Before Sookie finished, she leapt to her feet and out of the tub, opening the toilet as she moved…
One of the benefits of being a telepathic nurse.
Jack lurched forward and heaved into the commode, and when Sookie began rubbing Jack’s back, Alcide hissed, “Don’t you dare.”
Sookie looked remarkably like Linda when she raised an eyebrow at him, abandoning her efforts to comfort Jack…
When she walked by her boyfriend, her hand cracked against his bare chest… By the time she politely squeezed past Gawain and me, her handprint was already glowing.
Sookie returned to the master bedroom just a few minutes later with a garbage bag and an armful of fresh linens.
Alcide scowled at Sookie while she worked quietly to bag two dozen empty bottles…
He only seemed more agitated as Sookie stripped his father’s bed and redressed it.
She carried the garbage bag out to the hallway, and bundled the old bedding and tossed it over the railing to the first floor…
And when she jogged down the stairs, he followed, leaving Gawain and me to listen to Jackson Herveaux retch and spit.
Gawain whispered, “He’s having a one-sided lovers’ spat in his mind. Apparently, cleaning up after him is ‘enabling’… She’s biting her tongue. I think we should keep track. I’m sure it doesn’t happen often.”
I snorted, “Do you know anything about Jackson’s reaction to the news that Linda’s been brought over?”
“Too much, but all of it was enhanced by a Sookie-filter… There’s a bridal set and a revolver with one bullet in the cylinder in the drawer of the nightstand…”
“That doesn’t surprise me. He mentioned he would have married Linda if she hadn’t estranged herself.”
“Jack is relieved to hear Linda doesn’t hate him, but he feels even guiltier for not going to similar extremes when his wife was ill.”
“I wonder which binge is responsible for his memory loss. I told him Weres don’t make the transition well.”
“Given the number of bottles, I think this is all the same binge… I’m not sure what the verdict is when it comes to Linda’s relationship. Sookie might have a better guess.”
“As it stands, I’d rather Linda wasn’t a witness to this. Sookie’s been hiding her relationship with Alcide because she didn’t want Linda to feel as though her health was keeping Sookie from anything. It seems like rejecting Jack’s attention caused this.”
Sookie’s light footsteps began jogging up the stairs again, with Alcide’s just behind her.
Gawain chuckled, “Again, my advice is holding out until we hear the Stackhouse opinion.”
Sookie reentered the room, moving for the dresser, but Alcide scoffed, “You’re tucking him into bed now?”
She didn’t answer until she’d found a pair of pajama pants.
“Alcide, do you love your father?”
He rolled his eyes. “I don’t know anymore… I sure as hell don’t have any respect left for him.”
She growled and opened the nightstand, removing a .38 Special from the drawer to release the cylinder and let a single bullet fall to the bed.
“What about now?”
Alcide stared at the bullet as though it had already done its job.
Sookie offered, “This isn’t just my aunt. This is your mom too… He only let himself come apart a few drinks at a time when Hattie was dying. He wasn’t working late, he was waiting for everyone to leave so he could have his meltdowns in private. He did such a good job at hiding it, you assumed he didn’t care. He probably would have been better off if Aunt Linda let him see her. He would have held his shit together, but she thought she was sparing him… To answer your question, yes, I’m tucking him into bed. I’m telling him that as far as my family is concerned, he’s a freaking hero for having the stones to go to a Vampire. And I’m letting him know that he isn’t allowed to mourn anymore because Aunt Linda couldn’t be better.”
“You think that’ll do any good?”
She shrugged and returned the gun to the drawer, but put the bullet in her pocket. “I don’t know, but maybe it’ll help for him to hear I’m not letting him see her until he goes for a week without drinking.”
Sookie closed the bathroom door behind her, immediately locking it, and tending to Jack beyond Alcide’s annoyed supervision.
The boyfriend shook his head and warned, “Don’t ever… ever… ever… try to win a debate with her.”
Gawain scoffed, “I already learned that lesson the hard way… I hear you aren’t fond of Merlotte.”
Fuck… three days in the ground… I missed a lot.
Alcide sneered, “That Shifter’s got nothing. No pack. No family. No social graces. Sookie tells me he bartends, but you don’t see hide or hair of him unless Sookie’s waitressing. He uses that bar as an excuse to watch her and drool.”
Gawain leaned against the wall and offered, “We popped in for a little bit a few nights ago. Sookie, me, a female Vampire… Sookie leaned closer to the female Vampire to whisper… she was just pointing out an old friend… so began Merlotte’s deranged rape fantasy. Apparently, Sookie is his and she’d look amazing with a broken jaw and dislocated hips… He’s entirely wrong about the color of her nipples though. At least he hasn’t been spying on her, posing as bird on a window ledge. That would be creepy.”
Alcide’s irises didn’t just flicker, they glowed as though he was fighting a shift… the ominous growling that seemed to be coming from his chest actually made him seem threatening as far as Weres were concerned.
Gawain continued, “I assume this means you agree the Shifter is a threat to Sookie as long as she keeps company with Vampires… So I ask you, does Herveaux & Son keep nitrogen gas in their machine shop?”
Alcide nodded slowly… and Gawain’s face lit up.
“Lovely. Kill the security cameras before you leave work tomorrow evening. I’ll take care of our little friend.”
“Need help putting him down?”
“No. Just kill the security cameras. Thank you.”
Seeing Sookie try to control Jackson Herveaux as he staggered out of his bathroom was absurd enough for Gawain and me to chuckle. Her frame was so petite and Jack was built like an armory… If he stumbled, she was going to need to be treated for crush injuries…
He slurred his appreciation for clean bedding as he sprawled out… and languidly agreed with every word of Sookie’s pep talk. He never seemed to notice that anyone but Sookie was there.
As we left the room, Gawain took the garbage bag with us, knowing something I didn’t…
Then Sookie nodded, answering a question I hadn’t heard…
And then Gawain said he’d follow us to Wal-Mart because my trunk wasn’t big enough for something I didn’t know was on the shopping list.
I was very much beginning to understand Pam’s earlier comment… that she’s hated the telepaths for three nights.
And Wal-Mart was even more bizarre.
Gawain immediately took a cart with him, telling me to grab my own… and we set out in the opposite direction as Sookie.
He quickly found the hardware department, adding duct tape and a clear plastic tarp to his basket before leading the way to kitchenware…
He’d take a moment to peruse a display before adding an item to the basket, time and time again… filling both of our baskets with everything a Human would need in a kitchen…
Cutlery, tableware, dishes, pots and pans, serving dishes, cooking utensils, cutting boards… Anyone else would have thought he knew his way around a kitchen.
Every time, he paused for a moment before he chose an item… and then gave me a cocky smirk.
I couldn’t decide if he was amused that I was out of the telepathic loop or just playing with a new toy.
We found Sookie without effort (because Gawain led the way) in the crafting department. She was adding yarn to a basket so full of food, I was surprised she could push it.
She smiled and tossed a few bundles of yarn into my basket and chided Gawain, “You’re a turd. Stop basking in Erik’s cluelessness.”
That answered my curiosity.
He faked an innocent look and shrugged, “It’s a new language…”
She interrupted him with a raspberry. “It’s the only one he can’t learn.”
He chuckled and added a skein of blue yarn to his basket. “You’re having just as much fun as I am, but my ability has been a pain in my ass much longer than yours has been. I’m allowed…”
Only because he put it that way.
She scoffed, “What is that for? The yarn.”
“Fun… I think you’d look stunning in a macramé bikini.”
She laughed, “I’m so not wearing that.”
“You don’t have to. The fun will come from making it.”
Sookie gasped and slapped his arm. “You turd! You already know she’s protective of me…”
He chuckled, “Like I said, fun. Do you shave or wax?”
Sookie sighed, “Shave.”
“What shape do you leave?”
Nothing… and thank you for reminding me, asshole.
“Shave-shave. All of it.”
“Why not get a Brazilian?”
Why not stand in Wal-Mart, talking about Sookie’s pussy?
“Because I don’t have to make an appointment to meet with a razor that only costs a buck.”
He chuckled, “Fair enough… Do we have everything?”
“Pretty much… I need a card and giftwrap, but that’s on the way to the checkout.”
He took her cart, offering his lighter one to her, and asked, “For Alcide?”
“Janice’s baby shower is next week.”
He corrected, “I meant shaving.”
She finally blushed and shook her head. “For bathing suits. Since long before Alcide… What about you? Why are you so cropped?”
When the fuck did she see his cock? For that matter, when did he see her nipples to know Merlotte was imagining them incorrectly? She’d covered her bra when I removed her top earlier.
He answered simply, albeit grimly, “Chainmail.”
She winced and sucked air past her teeth. “Yeah… damn I bet that would pinch. I had a watch tha- Wait. Didn’t you wear something under it?”
“Tunics were hip length. Bathroom breaks.”
“Ahhhhh. Yeah… Damn good reason to keep it short.”
Sookie stopped at the shelves full of greeting cards and browsed while Gawain abandoned his basket in the aisle… returning a moment later with a roll of wrapping paper and a premade bow.
Sookie giggled, “You’re so my new Wal-Mart buddy.”
Awww. So cute. What a pair.
“I prefer being your Victoria’s Secret buddy.”
She swatted his cheek and giggled, “Creeper.”
It wasn’t until Sookie asked me why I was pouting that I realized I was… by then we were only a couple of miles away from the house.
“I’m not pouting.”
She snorted, “Oh, that’s convincing… I want to deal with the Jack and Linda thing. Do you mind? I know she’s your child and all, but this carried over from when she was still alive. I’ve been struggling with this, hoping she’d go into remission so I could do something about it… Now that I’m not scared to death by the concept of time, I can wait for her to forgive me.”
“What does she know?”
“Nothing really. I told her he’s been drinking, but she was sure he’d get over her. You really need to watch out for how stubborn she is. I think it’s her worst quality, but it’s also her best. She’s never given up on anything.”
“Her relationship with Jack isn’t really my concern. I’ve never meddled in Pam’s private affairs.”
“Yeah. I noticed your bestie and your child have a funky little homance going on… friends with benefits. I could totally picture them as brother/sister or an old married couple. It’s fun, but they’re just fun in general. They definitely kept me from dwelling on y’alls grave too much for the past few nights.”
“By taking you to Merlotte’s to be raped in the mind of a Shifter and shopping at Victoria’s Secret, yes?”
She leaned back in her seat and sighed, “Yeah… So, do you mind if I deal with Aunt Linda the family way? It’s a little late, but now that she’s alright, things need to be said.”
“Yeah. Have you ever seen a come-to-Jesus?”
“I can’t say I have.”
She laughed in her throat. “It’s not actually biblical or anything, just a calibration, an attitude adjustment. I’d be willing to bet you’ve actually performed a few and just don’t realize it.”
“Oh really? What are you willing to bet?”
As I turned onto my driveway, she giggled, “Oh look at that, we’re home already.”
“You didn’t answer me.”
She rolled her eyes. “I’ll know if you try to lie.”
“Fine. I’m not going to be in the mood for anything else tonight though… We’ll bet the shirts on our backs. The loser stays shirtless all night tomorrow.”
Pam and Linda joined Sookie in the kitchen to help store everything from our ‘Wal-Mart run’ while Gawain and I continued to carry bags from the cars… Between coming and going, I noticed Linda’s nostrils flare when she brushed past Sookie… For the rest of the chore, Linda’s curiosity grew.
I could only assume Pam knew the nature of Sookie’s errand to the Herveaux house because she wasn’t expectantly waiting for the unveiling… She didn’t even mention that Sookie smelled like Weres and whiskey.
Gawain was looming, nosy bastard that he was, and I probably seemed just as intrusive because no one else knew I was waiting to hear about my bet.
Once order was restored to the once empty kitchen, and Pam had been given her ‘Topsy-Tail’, Sookie walked to the foyer where Gawain had left the bag of whiskey bottles and returned with it.
“I got you a present, Aunt Linda.”
“In a trash bag?”
Sookie nodded, stopping at the island across from her aunt and removing the bottles, slowly displaying an homage to Jack’s alcoholism.
Linda couldn’t have been more confused.
Then Sookie fished the bullet from her pocket and placed it on the counter.
Linda stared at the bullet like Alcide had.
“So I went to tell Jack the good news. I found him on his bed surrounded by empty bottles, so sauced he didn’t wake up when Gawain hoisted him by his ankles and dropped him into the tub. I had to pretend to be you to get any kind of rise out of him…”
Linda’s tears spilled when she shook her head, and she barely said, “What,” before Sookie interrupted.
“SHUT UP… You see, I didn’t know if you’d want Jack back now or if he’d want you back now that you’re a Vampire, so I thought I’d be helpful and go talk to him, feel him out. I would have lost a bet. I thought he’d be too angry to want you back and I’d be able to warn you accordingly. It was almost impossible to get anything out of his head. It’s a soup of pain and regret and disappointment. His wife’s illness was actually easier for him to take because she didn’t push him away. Weres don’t abandon their own. Weres won’t even let someone else bury a loved one. You were his… Your cancer nearly killed him and he dragged his family down with him. There wasn’t a bit of food in his stomach. The only things in his fridge were take-out containers and condiments. The only things in his nightstand were a .38 Special with that bullet in it and a gorgeous engagement set you didn’t give him the chance to give you.”
Linda sobbed, “I thought I was sparing him! After what he went through with Hattie…!”
She was in more pain than I could imagine possible. Actual physical pain.
“You were wrong… Your perfectly healthy ass is going to cook for him until his fridge is full because he’s lost nearly fifty pounds and so jaundiced he looks tea-dyed. Hopefully he remembers how to chew. I told him once he’s sober for a week straight he can see you, but that’s mostly an excuse for him to be sober enough for Gawain to glamour him to dry up completely. After you see him and he has the chance to get some closure, you’re going to stay the hell away from him so he can move on. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to shower away the stench of perfectly blended puke.”
“Why didn’t you tell me months ago? This didn’t happen overnight.”
Sookie stopped in the doorway to the foyer and sighed, “I tried. Gran tried. Alcide tried. You were too busy being a hero to realize what a goddamn hypocrite you are… You actually told Eric you’d rather die with your family than live without us, but you ignored that he wanted, needed, to be part of that. A year and a half in a bottle and getting updates about your health from me and he still cared enough to sell his soul to the devil for you.”
Linda covered her face for long enough that Sookie had already closed the door to her room upstairs.
She finally wiped her eyes and washed her hands… as she pulled open the refrigerator, she sniffled, “Y’all don’t have to say you agree with her. I know she’s right… Every. Damn. Word.”
Gawain left, following Sookie’s footsteps. “Make sure you cook enough for the boy. He’s afraid to find his own house because he doesn’t want to leave his father alone.”
She nodded even though he was already around the corner… She practically undid the organizing that had just been done. One item after another was removed from the pantry and refrigerator…
I offered, “When Sookie first confronted me on your lawn, she assumed Jack sent me. She said the only reason she wasn’t fighting for Jack’s cause was because she didn’t want you to die angry at her. Just a few minutes ago, she said she could afford to wait for you to forgive her.”
Linda grimaced. “She hasn’t done anything… Maybe she’ll live long enough for me to forgive myself.”
Stubborn to a fault, yes, but she was capable of remorse.
Pam asked, “Do you want help or privacy?”
Linda choked out a short laugh. “Isn’t it ironic enough that I’m finally cooking again now that I can’t eat… No thanks, hon… I’d love some paper so I can make a list for Sookie though. This stuff is a good start, but she didn’t know Jack’s favorites.”
“Coming right up.”
As soon as Pam walked into the den, Linda asked, “How much does she hate me?”
“She doesn’t. I was worried there would be some bickering between you…”
“Not Pam. She’s a riot… I meant Sookie. Did she say anything to you or Gawain?”
“She doesn’t hate you… She’s worried enough about Jack to have argued with Alcide. She called this a ‘come-to-Jesus’.”
Linda snorted, “She’s been biting her tongue for so long… I’m surprised she didn’t beat my ass.”
“She might have thought about it, and then remembered you can lift a pool table now.”
She chuckled wryly, “You need to get to know that girl better if you think that would stop her. One night, Jack and Alcide argued just before dinner. Alcide pointed at the pepper and growled for it because he was still in a pissy mood… Sookie threw it at him. As big as he is, she fired that pepper shaker across the table at one of the strongest Weres in Long Tooth…” And it left a scar. “I think he ended up with a crush on her for that. Can you imagine? The size difference between them just boggles the mind.”
Linda said that as though her former beau wasn’t big enough to fill a bathtub for two by himself.
“I imagine she’d look a bit like a fly on a skyscraper… What did you and Pam do while Sookie was tucking Werewolves into bed?”
Her eyes lit up and finally left the roast she was shoving garlic cloves into. “We rearranged the den… I moved furniture… We relocated beds from the upstairs bedrooms. One went down into the Bat-Cave for Pam, and two went to the den for me and Goofus. Dressers too… And we talked about my new name.”
“And you didn’t run from the house, begging to be staked?”
Pam joined us again, note pad in hand, and blew a raspberry at me.
Linda giggled, “Eh… she took it easy on me… I don’t want to make a huge change because it would just feel weird. We came up with Lynn with a ‘Y’, because I’m already used to Linda being shortened, and Mitchell, because it was my father’s name. I’m forgoing a middle name.”
She nodded, biting her lip with wide eyes as though my opinion really mattered.
“I like that it’s unpretentious, but not drab. Good choice.”
Pam cooed, “I’m glad you like it. I already made the call to order her new IDs…”
Lynn’s face and mood fell when Gawain returned to the kitchen…
He’d removed his shirt and unbuttoned his jeans… It was a standard for him, one she’d become accustomed to soon enough since he planned to stay for a while, but she only knew that he left the room fully clothed just a few minutes earlier… with Sookie.
While he easily found a bottle of chocolate milk and a package of cookies, he asked, “Pam, where did we leave the party favors?”
Pam nodded in the direction of the stove. “Spice cabinet… Tucking Sookie in?”
He nodded. “She won’t last long though…” He kissed Pam’s neck as he left, carrying the party favors and promising to have plans for her.
Lynn almost let a pan full of potatoes burn while she stared at the archway, gobsmacked without asking for answers.
She jumped when Sookie’s bedroom door closed.
Pam explained that the pot had been Lynn’s. Her leftover ‘cancer weed’.
Gawain wasted no time taking the bag considering the state they’d found Sookie in. They’d landed hours after I took Linda to ground and Sookie was curled into the fetal position on the deck just over our grave… She’d cried herself to sleep and her body was so cold she called Gawain ‘snuggly warm’ when he carried her into the house.
They’d been nearly inseparable since they discovered each other’s abilities… but if anything, their relationship could be described as a ‘secret club for telepathic assholes’.
After my outing with them, I agreed with Pam… and pointed out that since Alcide knows about Sookie’s ability, he was thinking to her in an effort to keep his family skeletons private.
Of course, Pam and I were annoyed to be excluded, but hearing the details, that Gawain wasn’t misbehaving (this time), made Lynn beam… She was happy for Sookie to have finally met another telepath.
Gawain returned for Pam, taking her downstairs, leaving me alone with my youngest child for the next couple of hours… While Lynn cooked, and made lists and menus, we took advantage of the ‘quiet time’ to discuss rules and etiquette.
Casually, calmly, without interruption until Gawain emerged from the den just after six o’clock, freshly showered and arrogantly satisfied… singing Here Comes The Sun by the Beatles.
Linda glanced at the oven timer and shouted, “Fuck a goddamn duck! The pies!”
Gawain asked, “I’m going to need help with that Americanism.”
He wasn’t alone.
She groaned, “Two pies in the oven. They have forty minutes left to bake, but the kitchen isn’t lightproof…”
“Is there duck in the pies?”
“Were you planning to roast a duck as well?”
Good question. I was still stumped.
“Would you forget about the duck…”
“First, it’s ‘fuck a duck’. Now, it’s ‘forget the duck’? That’s hardly gentlemanly.”
That asshole. He already knew what she meant, probably having heard it from Sookie.
“It’s just a damn saying, Gawa- You asshole. How long did you have Sookie going when she said it?” At least I wasn’t the last one to catch on.
He chuckled, “I didn’t. She could tell I was teasing her for her little outburst… I’ll have Sookie come downstairs long enough to remove the pies. I’m settling in. Did you claim a bed yet?”
She shook her head. “No. They’re up for grabs.”
“Drink a couple of glasses of blood before dawn. I’ll be able to fetch glasses for you later in the afternoon, but the kitchen faces east.”
She nodded, thanking him as he left and quickly did as he suggested while she double-checked her lists.
I followed her to the den, seeing for the first time what Lynn and Pam had done while I was on my telepathic field trip.
They’d removed the old furnishings to arrange bedroom areas at opposite ends of the long room… the pool table seemed to equate to a ‘do not cross this line’ barrier.
Gawain had already chosen the bed closer to the windows and settled in… While Lynn mentioned that Pam had a ‘closet plan’, Sookie staggered into the room…
She’d only shoved one of her arms into her robe and she had a bed pillow with her… and climbed into bed with Gawain.
She hardly seemed conscious enough to have made it down the stairs without falling.
She mumbled, leaving Gawain to translate, “She said she wouldn’t hear the timer from her room. I’m to wake her… Her mouth stopped, but she’s still mentally rambling about how far away her room is… And you need to hurry to bed before she tries to join you.”
Lynn blurted, “Excuse me?” She beat me to it.
Gawain explained, “I’m sure it’s your quiet mind, but… her thighs are reminding her of your second base debacle…” He looked down at his bare wrist and chuckled, “Oh look, tick tock.”
What I wouldn’t have given for him to be able to hear my thoughts just then.