Burning eyes, crushing weight in my chest and a nagging void in my abdomen… I wasn’t sure I’d ever felt so distraught in my entire existence.
By the time I had enough control to open my eyes to check on Pam, someone had started walking down the stairs to the safe-room slowly.
The knocking on the doorjamb gave Sookie away. Gawain wouldn’t have bothered and Lynn was the one overwhelming me with grief.
She stepped into the room with her arms folded, leaning against the frame with a swollen, blotchy, tear-streaked face.
“I uh… I got back to the house from running errands and… Aunt Linda was… Gawain was holding her. They’d been playing around… he was encouraging her to use her ability and whatnot. Funny-man tried to get me busted, but when he asked if Aunt Linda could ‘guess’ what I was up to, she guessed I was eating lunch with Alcide. Little Tex-Mex place near his house. She ‘guessed’ right down to the green straw in my iced tea. Pretty impressive, huh?”
I nodded… I couldn’t have been more anxious about what kind of discovery could upset Lynn so much. “Incredible. What else has she guessed?”
“She guessed Gran was up to her elbows in figs, pears and peaches… Gawain asked what her nephew was up to. That threw us for a loop. Aunt Linda didn’t picture Jason. She pictured some guy at a bookstore. Nothing about the guy is familiar to us, but Gawain had her try to stick with him, focus for a while. She didn’t learn much else, but she can imagine what’s happening for several minutes at a time. Lousy fucking introduction to a sweet ability, I swear.”
“What happened to cause the disappointment?”
“Most of their idle time was remarkable… seems a shame… Gawain didn’t push her. He feels horrible that encouraging her planted the seed… Aunt Linda focused on Hadley.”
“What did she learn?”
“At first, all she could see was the sky, like she was laying on her back. She ended up… I can’t see what’s in her head anymore, but from what I gather, she was in a cemetery… the more she focused, the more info she found… Erik, we’re pretty sure Hadley died in a sleazy motel room in Texarkana. Gawain called the motel before I got back and no one would say anything to him because he acted like a reporter. Once I was filled in, I called the library in Texarkana. The woman in the periodicals room was bored enough to humor me. On August 19th, the body of a ‘young caucasian female’ was found by the cleaning staff of the State Line Motel. The police looked high and low to identify her, but prescriptions found in the room weren’t hers and she’d sold a few things at a pawn shop nearby too. The police were hoping something might help ID the body. It’s really weird that they tried so hard to ID her, I mean…”
I shook my head and left my bed. “You don’t have to explain… I can’t think of a reason why they wouldn’t have just checked her fingerprints and then buried her in an unmarked civil plot. It’s an odd waste of manpower… Have you contacted your grandmother yet?”
While I pulled my jeans on, Sookie scoffed, “Not yet… I’m driving up to Texarkana to talk to someone about identifying her. There’s a lot that doesn’t make sense though… Aunt Linda reported Hadley missing last summer, early summer. Texarkana is only four parishes and three counties away. Hadley’d been arrested before.”
“Are you so sure it’s Hadley then?”
“Aunt Linda is… Jane Doe checked in. Someone heard her ‘with company’ that night and when her body was found, all of her belongings were gone except for the garbage.”
Sookie shrugged. “She could have turned a trick for her dope or she could have been traveling with a friend who subsequently bailed. Who knows?”
“We’ll know soon enough…” She jumped when I spoke from just a few inches away from her. “Sorry. I think you’re the first Human to ever enter this room… It didn’t occur to me that you couldn’t see in the dark.”
She shook her head as I took her hand to lead her upstairs. “No. You wouldn’t have snuck up on me normally. I would have been tracking your m-” She stumbled on the first step, so I scooped her up to carry her instead of waiting for her to climb in the dark.
The first thing to be seen when I opened the hatch was Lynn’s bed…
Bloody tissues on the edge of the bed… the wretched angles of the way her body was pulled into a ball…
It didn’t seem like Sookie could leave the room quickly enough.
I sat on the bed behind Lynn’s legs and asked, “How much can you be sure of?”
She sniffled, “I have a harder time when I don’t know who or where I’m focusing on. Goofus had to spoon-feed me some ideas a bit so I could focus, but I got it. I can’t keep with it for long though. My head starts pounding if I push too hard.”
“Try not to be discouraged by that. Eventually…”
She snorted, “Fuck eventually, Erik. My baby’s dead and I need to know what happened to her.”
“I’m sure there will be more information than you can stomach in the police report.”
She choked, “I know… I just… I could’ve died. I could’ve done that… but this. Rotten little bitch or not, she was my baby and she wasn’t supposed to die first. She was supposed to grow up and realize how much we love her… She was supposed to come home. She was supposed to settle down…”
Anything I could have said would have been insignificant because nothing compared to, or eased the pain of, losing a child.
Any attempt I could have made to ease her grief would have been unfair because she was going to have to face the pain eventually.
Without a better idea, I just sat there with her, knowing there was nothing that could be said or done for her.
Several minutes passed before she admitted that she was still trying to glean more details of Hadley’s death. Visions of Hadley talking to herself about the possibility of moving to Memphis or Orlando only upset Lynn that much more because Hadley hadn’t ever been prone to soliloquies.
I left Pam to get her intel from Gawain and Sookie while they worked to ‘audition models’… meanwhile, Lynn picked apart every aspect of what she’d seen.
She was only torturing herself. Each detail only gave her more to agonize over.
Sookie finally returned to the den and ordered, “If you don’t feed, I’m not going. Sit up and drink so I can get on the road.”
She had two tall glasses of blood in her hands and a very resolute look on her face.
Lynn complained, “I’m not a baby. I’ll eat when I’m hungry.”
“Did I ever push you to eat during treatments? No… I understood that food did unpleasant things to you and trusted you to judge. This isn’t the same thing. You’re only in emotional pain and I’ll be damned if I let you go on a hunger strike.”
Lynn argued without looking back, “This isn’t just pouting…”
“And it’s not like I expect you to wine and dine a date for God sake! Gawain and Pam did all of the work for you already. In the amount of time you’ve been arguing with me, you could’ve gotten rid of me.”
Lynn scoffed and shoved herself from the mattress to sit up with her hands out for a glass. She snapped, “Why can’t you just leave me in peace for a while?” and began gulping from her glass.
“Because you’re going to outlive me and you know I’m stubborn enough to wait sixty years to get my revenge.”
Lynn snorted into her glass.
Sookie exchanged the full glass for the empty one and giggled, “I’ll get one of those medic alert pendants, that way when they find my wrinkled senile ass wandering around in a mismatched bikini, they know to bring me back to you… More?”
Lynn rolled her eyes, refusing to admit she was hungry, so Sookie left the room, returning with two more glasses.
And then two more…
By the time Linda had taken her fill of blood, Sookie had brought twelve pints to her bereaved aunt.
Sookie took the last of the glasses from Linda and leaned over to kiss her cheek. “I’m going to head out now. Text me if you think of any questions you want me to ask. I’ll call as soon as I have something to tell you, but I’ll probably stay in Texarkana for the night.”
“My dead ass! You aren’t staying there alone! Just have them send my baby home!”
Sookie sighed, “Last time I checked, paperwork needs to be filed before a body can be exhumed…”
But there were only so many wheels that could be greased by a pretty face… sooner or later, glamour would be helpful.
At least there was a way I could help… Making the arrangements to bring Hadley’s body back for Lynn, that was a chore I could do.
“I’ll go with you. Officials can be difficult.”
Sookie snorted and turned to leave. “My ass. I sleep in a house full of Vampires and Aunt Linda’s scared der butzemann is going to be waiting for me in Tex-Ar-Freakin-Kana.”
Sookie waited for me in the foyer, quietly sulking with her arms folded across her chest… Her eyes were closed as though she was meditating, but given how uncharacteristically quiet Gawain was as I passed through the kitchen, she was more likely communicating with him.
She sulked, making me sure that staying with an inconsolably crying woman would be a less miserable option until we were turning onto the highway…
She finally sighed, “It’s not you. It’s anything but you. You coming along only bothers me on principle.”
“What principle is that?”
“She felt better about me going as soon as you offered like I need a damn babysitter… like I haven’t been taking care of her for two years, like I can’t wipe my own ass.”
“I’m sure she wasn’t thinking about your feelings being hurt. She’s quite sure her daughter is dead. She’s devastated.”
Sookie snorted, “At least this is the last time Hadley can hurt my aunt. Her mom loved the hell out of her hateful ass even though she took off and left her to rot. That bitch left knowing her mother was sick and didn’t even leave a note. She was too busy cleaning out her mom’s wallet and stealing her gun and pain meds. And of course she’s going to die in a way that my ‘wouldn’t piss on her face if her teeth were on fire’ vow has to get reneged on.”
“Were you two competitive?”
She snorted, “Yeah. Her goal in life was to take everything for granted…”
“Not to play devil’s advocate, but I assumed she was acting out because her father abandoned her and her uncle molested her.”
Sookie stared at the side of my face until I thought I could feel it.
“Tell. Me. You’re. Kidding.”
“I’m not excusing her behavior. I simply thought that was the popular theory. Aren’t Humans fond of blaming childhood traumas for everything?”
“Yeah. Poor Hadley.”
Given her deadpan, one could have thought Pam had been coaching her since she was born.
“Do you reject the popul-?”
“Hell yes, I reject it! Yeah, her childhood could’ve been better, but whose couldn’t? I don’t use my screwed up childhood as a free pass to be an irresponsible slut. Hadley had an amazing mother who loved her, warts and all, so much that after being abandoned, kicked while she was down, she’s still beside herself with grief right now. Aunt Linda deserved better. I’m upset because of the pain Aunt Linda is in, and because Gran and Jason are going to be upset… and because punching that little bitch’s lights out isn’t an option now…” She reached for her purse and grumbled, “That reminds me…”
“Reminds you of what?”
As she dialed her phone, she whispered, “Someone might be getting the punch I was saving for Hadley…”
The phone was answered with a muffled, “Bellefleur.”
“Sook? What do you want? How’s your aunt doin’?”
Whoever Andy was, he actually sounded concerned for Lynn.
“She’s about as good as she can be after a round. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this treatment did the trick though… I wanted to ask you an investigation related question.”
“Oh. Alright. I’ll do what I can.”
“Hypothetically, if someone was found dead in a motel room, why wouldn’t cops be able to identify her?”
After a long pause, there was the sound of a door closing. “Is this about Hadley, Sookie?”
“Yeah. A friend of mine tried finding her online… he thinks it might be worth calling Texarkana because a Jane Doe was found dead last summer.”
“Awwwww shit. Sookie, if I knew they were trying to ID a Jane Doe…”
She finished, “You would’ve sent Hadley’s fingerprints to them, right?”
“Well, I would if we had any… We did everything we could to keep her out of the system. Bud didn’t want to mess up her record for the petty stuff she was doing. We’d been thinking she was gonna grow outta her wild streak.”
That answered that question.
Sookie groaned, “So Hadley’s fingerprints aren’t in any kind of system or database that you know of?”
“Nothing in Louisiana. I checked when Linda filed that report last year. Part of me was hoping she was picked up, maybe checked into a hospital or something. Did you say Texarkana?”
“Yeah… They were trying to ID her, using the media to advertise that she was found…”
“You can’t be sure that’s Hadley though. I mean, they shouldn’t have released a picture of her…”
“They didn’t, but you’ve known our family long enough to know what our luck is like. I’m not saying anything to anyone yet though, just in case.”
He let out a loud grunt and agreed, “That poor grandmother a’yours… buryin’ more kin… and while Linda’s sick. You let us know what you find out. I’ll do what I can, maybe I can do something to cut down on the time y’all gotta wait for her to get moved if that’s what you’re thinkin’bout doing.”
Sookie scoffed, “Goddamnit Andy. I wanted to be pissed you didn’t fingerprint her or something. Don’t be so nice right now.”
Another long pause, and I was sure Sookie had thoroughly confused him.
“Just keep us posted.”
Sookie leaned back in her seat, sighing that Hadley had been helped to death, but otherwise remaining quiet…
Her silence offered the time I needed to call the Sheriffs in Texas and Arkansas to announce that I’d be present in their Areas. Stan Davis was cordial enough to actually offer any assistance I might need… But Danny Ray Dobbs, 200-year old Sheriff (and native) of Southern Arkansas, acted as though I would have decided to strategically take over the state, starting in Texarkana, after announcing myself.
Sookie might not have been able to hear both sides of my calls, but given the way she giggled as soon as I ended my call to Dobbs, she had gotten the gist of his paranoia.
Sookie half-jokingly mentioned Arkansans were Arkansans, no matter how long they’d been dead… Dobbs’s suspicions were akin to having a security system in a trailer park.
An oddly fitting analogy.
Sookie’s mood finally seemed to be improving when her phone rang, but she chided herself when she reached for her purse again because she’d forgotten about Alcide.
Sookie sighed, “Hello.”
Alcide answered, “Hey baby, I know you’re coming over later, but I thought you’d want to know right away… I got home from work and Dad was chowing down on the food you brought over. It’s the first time in weeks that I’ve seen him eat anything I didn’t put in his hand myself. And he was washing it all down with a glass of tea… Also, from now on, I need to open the windows to air out my room because the whole upstairs smells like cum and sweat. He complained about the smell, not that I took a three hour lunch, the smell. Be bashful about it if you want, but I could’ve farted in his pillow last night and he wouldn’t have smelled it. So far, so good.”
She cleared her throat. “That’s good to hear… Alcide…”
“Wait…” His voice was suddenly brusquer, more serious. “Why are you crying? You’ve been crying for a while too. What’s wrong?”
I couldn’t tell if it was because his hearing was that sharp or if he just knew Sookie incredibly well…
“There was a message waiting for Eric when he woke up… There’s a lead on Hadley.”
“Oh shit. What kind of lead?”
“Eric and I are on the way to Texarkana to look at morgue pictures of a Jane Doe.”
He growled, “At least Linda got one night to be happy for herself before Hadley struck again… How’d y’all find out about her?”
“Eric put feelers out… I dunno… However he does his thing.”
“Lin’s not taking it well either, huh?”
“Not at all. Gawain’s sitting with her.”
“Is there anywhere I can be? Anything you need me to do?”
“I can’t think of anything, sweetie. Thanks though.”
He sighed, “At least Linda will finally know what happened to her kid… I’m here if you need anything. Just call. Love you.”
“Love you too… I’ll call later.”
As she returned her phone to her purse, I probed, “You love him?”
My goal was to irritate her… The last thing I wanted to do was dwell on the underlying tension being provided by Pam and Lynn.
Sookie snorted, “Sure do.”
“And how long have you known him?”
Her tongue played on the inside of her cheek for a moment before she answered, “Good point. I’ve only known him for a couple of years. I couldn’t possibly know him well enough to make any sort of commitment to him. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.”
Coyly reminding me that I brought over Lynn within 24-hours of meeting her… Cheeky.
“I was just trying to make conversation… You mentioned that you needed to have a serious conversation when you saw him last night. Did your three-hour lunch allow for that?”
She snorted, “Yeah, we talked. That’s why we went out for lunch first.”
“And what did you discuss?”
“Gawd, you’re nosy!”
“I’m more than happy to talk about what I did for the day.”
She giggled, “At least you seem to own what a troll you are, fishing for details about a lunch date… We talked about the Fae development.”
“Your heritage? Why was that a topic for discussion?”
“Because…” She paused to take a deep breath as though she was bracing herself. “Because the Faerie thing touches on other aspects of life. We’d discussed kids and a future together and stuff…”
“He’s been considering it… He spent the morning house-hunting too.”
She snorted, “I’m going to ignore how condescending your tone was because it’s scary as hell. He says it’s just because he’s wanted to move out for a while, and that would have been believable, but then he started wondering if I’d have a problem reaching the shelves in the kitchen cabinets of the house he liked… and then he started wondering if there was a way to get a snapshot of your pool because I told him how pretty it is. He wanted to surprise me.”
“But you said you love him.”
“Love him, yes… but I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the idea of going from a break to moving in together. There’s still so much that’s up in the air and it seems like he’s going from zero to sixty…”
“Like going from a backrub to third base in under a minute?”
She groaned and her cheeks turned red. “Yeah. Something like that.”
“And in an effort to make sure there were no mixed messages between you and your Were, you rode him like a mechanical bull until his father’s house smelled like mating season.”
She covered her face with her hands and shook her head, mumbling, “Your damn hearing. Are you always such a pervert?”
She giggled, “Of course not… you’re an angel and the lechery is all my fault.”
I nodded. “It’s good that you’re willing to admit that. How do you plan to make amends for your behavior?”
“I’m sure you already have something in mind…”
“You can start with a back rub and finish with third base…”
She snorted, “That sounds perfectly fair… I’m sure you’re known for your objectivity, Solomon.”
I put my car in neutral and merged onto the shoulder of the highway. As soon as she realized I was implying she could make her apology on the side of Highway 71, she started laughing and slapping my arm with both hands.
“Don’t you dare! You better keep driving!”
“I don’t think you can fit your head between the steering wheel and my-”
Her face puckered and she narrowed her eyes. “I said the settlement was fair, but no one said life’s fair!”
“You were teasing, yes?”
“No. You’re more than welcome to feed from me, but no… no… no…”
“Was that discussed during your three-hour lunch?”
“No. That’s not a negotiable topic and I’m pretty sure Alcide wouldn’t vie for me to have sex with you anyway.”
“I meant that you seem willing to be my personal donor.”
She gave me a puzzled look and shook her head. “What difference does that make?”
“You belong to Alcide…”
“I. Do. Not! And stop saying his name like that.”
“You’re his girlfriend, his lover, his potential mate. He’s considering your opinions while shopping for a house he plans to eventually share with you. Sookie, you belong to Alcide.”
“Oh. My. God… Stop talking now. You’re actually making my nerves come back. I was better off thinking about the Hadley situation.”
“Why does that bother you? Was he just a fling to you?”
“NO! It isn’t like that! I’m not like that… It’s just… too fast… and everything is so complicated.”
“Not like what, exactly?”
“The type to just have someone around for booty calls… I love Alcide, but I’m only 21 and it freaks me out a little bit to know how serious he is when this is my first relationship and I’m totally in over my head… and…”
She made a sound that sounded a bit like a frog croaking and covered her face with her hands.
“Your first relationship? Puppy love?”
She groaned, “If you’re just going to make fun, I’m fine with a comfortable silence until we’re in Texarkana.”
“I wasn’t making fun… I’m curious about why you wouldn’t have had other boyfriends before Alcide.”
“Because being touched by Humans turns the volume up on their thoughts. Next time you’re with someone, try to keep track of all the stuff that goes through your mind…”
I chuckled, “They’d leave in tears. I usually make a conscious effort to ignore their scent, get distracted by their laughable tattoos, and amuse myself with how irresistible they seem to think they are.”
She scoffed, “How very sweet of you… See my point though? I was lucky to get through an awkward first date…”
“I didn’t have those problems with you… I’m surprised anyone could think about anything but how amazing you taste, how much sweeter you were the closer you got to cumming, how much their cock ached to…”
She jerked her hands up to a stop gesture and blurted, “Picture painted! Thanks!”
I laughed, “Shy?”
“Shy enough… The point is that Alcide wasn’t preoccupied by being terrified of me, or too distracted by other stuff… I can talk to him and touch him without a crazy barrage of fantasies.”
“I understand why you’d cause fantasies, but who would be terrified of you?”
“I’m ‘Crazy Sookie Stackhouse’. Everyone in Bon Temps either knows I’m a telepath or thinks I’m insane, or both… and Hadley’s reputation didn’t help. Guilt by association. She’s a slut, so I must be too. Jason isn’t much better. He’s probably close to running out of girls to sleep with. Eventually, he’s going to need to start looking for fresh meat in another town.”
“Are you sure you actually like Alcide? You could just enjoy less mentally demanding company.”
“I knew Sam first… He offered me a job shortly after I graduated.”
“And you aren’t interested? Did you let him go down on you and then…”
She slapped my arm again and tried to control the corners of her mouth without luck. “I’ve never as much as kissed him! You stop it.”
“You’ve never kissed me either.”
“Fair enough, but I still don’t think about him like that.”
“Just me and Alcide, yes?”
“Just Alcide. Why do you say his name like that?”
“Like… like you’re humoring a kid with an imaginary friend.”
Because he was making it difficult for me to join Sookie’s tea party.
“I didn’t realize I was.”
“You really need a date. You should have stayed at home and went bar-hopping to get it out of your system.”
I chuckled, “That isn’t likely. I’m not sure anyone’s ever been in my system. I doubt a filthy drunk bimbo will suffice.”
“Oh goody… I’m such a lucky girl. I have a boyfriend who’s on the fast track to proposing and a not-boss/roommate who won’t talk about anything but getting into my pants.”
“Would you rather discuss my pants?”
She scoffed, “You’re such a turd… No. I don’t want to talk about getting into your pants either. I have a boyfriend… I also have a single friend. She’s very pretty…”
“Sookie, the matchmaker… Does she taste like honey?”
“Could we talk about something else?”
“Alright… Last night, Alcide complimented your mouth. What were you-?”
She moved quickly, turning on the radio and turning the volume up… she pretended to be completely engrossed in the song until Mick Jagger sang, “I go wild when I taste your taste…”
She changed to the next radio station, only to change it again because the pop song’s lyrics included “Touch me, touch me…”
Then a song that was nothing but a baritone voice saying ‘Oh yeah’ repeatedly…
Sexual Healing was the last straw, apparently… She rolled her eyes as she turned off the radio and slammed herself back against her seat.
I chuckled and turned the radio on again, watching her squirm awkwardly… Pouting with her eyes closed and her arms folded.
I offered, “We could always talk.”
“I’m good. This is fine.”
“Hoping your luck with the radio will change?”
She snorted, “Praying for it,” without opening her eyes.
Sookie’s posture was so stiff she seemed plastic as we walked into the Texarkana police station… and while we waited for the attention of the officer at reception, Sookie dug through her purse anxiously as though she was itemizing the contents.
The only officer behind the counter was red-headed woman in uniform… She was on the telephone, taking a report about an unleashed dog. She gave a somewhat friendly grin in our direction and held her finger up in a wait gesture…
In less than two minutes, it seemed as though Sookie was going to rattle apart.
She shook her head when I asked if she wanted me to do the talking, promising she’d be ‘fine’, but I was almost sure she was trying to convince herself more than me.
After the woman, Sergeant Fogleman, dispatched animal control to tend to the stray, she left her desk to pour hot water over a tea bag and ask, “What can I do for you folks tonight?”
Sookie cleared her throat and started, “I’m Sookie Stackhouse. I heard you guys found a Jane Doe a few months ago and my cousin has been missing since before the body was found.”
Sergeant Fogleman cut her eyes in Sookie’s direction skeptically. “Your cousin?”
“Yes ma’am. You see, my aunt is dying, uterine cancer, and she really wants to track down her daughter so she can see her, you know, say goodbye. I asked my boyfriend to help me look on the internet because I’m not used to computers. We found an article about the Jane Doe online.”
“Tell me about your cousin. When did she go missing?”
“Hadley Stackhouse Delahoussaye. Born September 3rd, 1978. We found out Aunt Linda had cancer the week after Thanksgiving. Hadley took off right after that. She did that a lot, taking off, but she always came home. I filed a missing person report in Bon Temps when she wasn’t home after a month. Aunt Linda had to have surgery and chemo and she was in the hospital more often than not for months. She finally got sick of calling for updates and she filed another report in June. When Hadley disappeared, she was 5’6”, wearing a size four, but she was complaining about how fat she was getting because our Gran cooks too much rich food. She’s known to dye her hair, but she’s naturally a brunette and gets pretty auburn highlights when she gets sun. Her freckles went nuts when she tried to tan though. She always gnawed her nails to the quick. She even tried to get acrylics to kick the habit, but she chewed those off too. Brown eyes, but they weren’t flat. They had gold and green flecks. She wasn’t a stranger to drinking and drugs or promiscuous behavior… My aunt has been hoping, more than anything, that Hadley just settled down somewhere where she didn’t have a past… but… we haven’t heard anything in so long…”
Sookie reached into her purse and removed a rolled up folder.
After leafing through the contents, she removed a photograph and laid it on the counter.
“I’m… Ma’am if you could please, just have someone look at this and tell me this isn’t the girl you found at the motel… I don’t want to go home to my family to tell them she died alone.”
The Sergeant approached carefully, maintaining eye contact with Sookie as though she was afraid to look at Hadley’s graduation photo.
“There are Jane Does all over the place, darlin’. Why start here?”
Sookie snorted, “Because this would make sense for Hadley. She never did anything the right way. Leave it to her to die alone when her family was praying for her to come home. I talked to Andy Bellefleur, he’d just made Detective before Hadley disappeared, so she was his first case… He said all the times Hadley got pulled in to the station for being drunk or stoned or indecent, she wasn’t fingerprinted. Sheriff Dearborn didn’t want to mess up her future. He was a Mason with my grandfather so he was just hoping she’d grow out of being so wild.”
The Sergeant still hadn’t looked at the photo.
“I’ve done that myself… It doesn’t have a positive effect often enough… Where is Bon Temps?”
Sookie pushed the photo closer to the Sergeant as she answered, “Raynard Parish, between Bienville and Clairborne. Just east of Webster.”
The woman finally glanced at the photo Sookie had been trying to show her and sighed, “Jane Doe checked into the State Line Motel, paying cash and using the name Holly Houser…”
Sookie groaned, “That’s not a stretch from Hadley Delahoussaye.”
“She talked to the clerk when she checked in, asking about local jobs because she left Dallas after breaking up with a boyfriend.”
“That’s right up Hadley’s alley… She’s been throwing the baby out with the bathwater for as long as I can remember.”
“Jane Doe’s hair was bleached blonde. Her nails were gnawed to the quick. She weighed 135…”
Sookie sniffled, making me sure the Sergeant had imagined Hadley. “How did she die?”
“She… I should call the detective and have him come talk to you… I’ll be right back.”
Sookie opened her mouth and took a deep breath, but the Sergeant turned towards her desk.
Sookie spun on her heel and began pacing while she waited.
Sergeant Fogleman made a call, quietly reiterating the details of Hadley’s life to Detective Brandt, offering details that hadn’t been published during the search for her identity…
Sookie walked to the water cooler, helping herself, letting her hair fall forward to cover her mumbling, “It’s definitely Hadley.”
I whispered, “I assumed as much. How did she die?”
Sookie sniffled again. “Accidental overdose… prescriptions and wine, of all things.”
“Accidental? How can they tell?”
She shrugged. “I’d guess that intentional overdoses have stomachs full of pills and accidental overdoses have stomachs with reasonable amounts. I’ll be able to get more…”
Sookie trailed off and looked over her shoulder to watch the Sergeant, reminding me she was there… I’d been more concerned with how Lynn was going to take the news, the confirmation…
Watching the color drain from Sookie’s face, I concentrated on the quiet conversation between the Sergeant and the Detective…
She offered vaguely, “It doesn’t even seem like the girl knows about it, but her version of events leads me to think the vic was hiding it.”
The Detective grumbled, “Great. Just what I need. I get to walk out on date-night with the wife, to confirm a dead girl’s identity with a next-of-kin. At least this isn’t another barren woman looking for a free baby.”