I could hear Sookie moving around downstairs. The smell of hot iron and food had wafted up to me in my room over the kitchen… that Sookie had so carefully sealed for me. Since Sookie was the only person in the house, it was promising that she seemed up to the task of cooking.
I’d just reached for my phone to check for word from Pam when Sookie let out a quiet giggle.
I answered her twice at increasing volumes before I dialed her number instead of yelling.
“Have you been saying my name at random intervals all day?”
“As a matter of fact, I have.”
“Have you tried adding a prefix to my name? Something like, ‘ohhhh’ or ‘more’…”
“No… thanks to the pavers, and my mysterious grocery delivery and maid service, the most common words used in proximity to your name have been ‘fuck’ and ‘ass’.”
“You want me to what?”
The call ended suddenly… she hung up on me to start laughing uncontrollably. She went on for a while and I only regretted not being in the room to see it.
She was still catching her breath when I redialed. She giggled, “You’re awful.”
“Good behavior is boring. How are you feeling tonight?”
“I’m really good actually. I woke up a couple times with a chill, but I took something and went back to sleep. I got up around noon when my fever broke. I took a shower and I’ve been good ever since.”
“What maid service were you talking about?”
“Becky cleaned my house when she dropped off an ass ton of groceries.”
“I’d think there are worse things than having a friend who cares enough to help. I didn’t have her clean for you, if that’s what you’re wondering.”
“Yeah. I was wondering about that, but I hadn’t cussed about it yet…”
“So tell me, how is it that you knew I was conscious?”
“Your mind was a big calm void until just a minute ago… I felt your thoughts come to you. Kind of like a machine hums to life. How are you awake so early? The sun’s still pretty high.”
“I usually ‘wake’ an hour before sunset. Sometimes longer when the weather is right. It’s not uncommon for older Vampires.”
“That’s cool… weird that I’m on the phone with you when you’re just upstairs, but… Oh geez. Eric, I gotta hang up. I’ve got company.”
“What kind of company?”
She whispered, “The kind that loves me to death, but looks pissed as hell. He’s a Were so be careful about his hearing. K… hanging up.”
She’d barely put the phone on the rocker again before there was the sound of belligerent pounding on the front door that she practically ran to answer.
A loud, deep, angry tone cut her greeting short, “Northman? Eric fucking Northman, Sheriff of Area goddamn 5?” I considered having my letterhead redone. I liked the way that rolled off the tongue… Or… I could just have ‘Fucking’ added as my legal middle name.
“What?” Sookie hadn’t invited him, but I listened as he took a heavy step into the house to pace, seemingly frantically, in the foyer.
“Ohhhhh, don’t you dare. Don’t do that. I know you’re way too fucking smart to even try getting away with playing dumb. What fucking business do you have with the Jimmy Hoffa of Vampires?” His tone left something to be desired, but sunlight aside, what kept me in my room was that he acknowledged that she wasn’t a ‘stupid kid’… Merlotte should’ve taken lessons from him.
“Come on. Now you’re being melodramatic. Slow your damn roll and talk to me. What about Eric Northman?”
His pacing stopped. “So you’re not denying that you know him?”
“No, of course not. Not to you.”
“How? Why was he here last night?”
“Is this between me and my friend or me and the retired cop I work for?”
“This is between you and the fired up son of a bitch who can only fucking imagine how much help a telepath could be to a bunch of Vampires who need to slaughter a coven of vicious Wiccunts… I know you, Sookie. You’re sweet to a fault and you help anyone. That’s exactly why I know you can get taken advantage of… How fucking dirty are your hands?” I immediately texted ‘wiccunts’ to Pam. She’d appreciate it as much as I did.
His pacing started again, but it was somewhat calmer than before. “Specifics. Now.”
“You know I can’t do that. I’m gonna have to plead the Fifth… The important thing is that it’s over. Hallow won’t be killing any more people… she won’t be ruining any more families…”
“NO! No! Tell me that’s not why you got involved! If Becky lost you… If it weren’t for you, she probably wouldn’t be talking yet!”
“She’s not the only reason, Tray. You can’t stand there and tell me that you ever stood by and watched someone get hurt!”
“I was a fucking cop!”
“I might not have a gun, but you know mind reading can be useful from time to time. And calm down. It wasn’t like that.”
“What was it then?”
“I was helping someone I cared about… Like you did by asking me to talk to Becky.”
“You know that was different. Those monsters were draining Vampires and tearing apart Wolves. Becky wouldn’t have killed you.”
“But you were looking out for her…”
“And now you’re looking out for me.”
“Yeah… Don’t… Don’t you dare… no hug for you! You’re scaring the shit out of me! Stop it…” I doubted she held any disrespect for him if she was forcing a hug on him… She hadn’t as much as touched Merlotte.
Sookie laughed when he growled. “I’m fine, Dad. It all worked out.”
His voice was more composed, less angry when he answered, “Baby doll, you’re a good girl. I don’t want to see anything bad happen to you.”
“You’re not allowed to save the world again until I’m dead, got it? I have enough gray hair.”
“I can swear that I won’t do it again for at least another week.”
He growled again, but it made her snicker. “Where was he? Why didn’t he do something sooner?”
“He was out of contact… He’d left town and he didn’t know until he got back.” Well put, I thought.
“Sabbatical? You fucking kidding me? Shit. At least he took care of those bitches as soon as he found out. Everyone thought they’d got him too. That mother fucker wouldn’t have taken that shit lying down.”
“From what I gather, they just missed each other.”
“No shit… So how do you know him? Did he scout you out because of your sonar?”
“No. He knew Gran.”
“Gran? How the hell did your Gran end up rubbing elbows with a Vampire?”
“She… she wouldn’t tell me.”
There was a long pause before her friend started laughing insanely, hard and loud. I could barely hear her laughter under his. “Your… your… Gran was a… a Fangbanger! That’s. Fucking. Priceless!” I bit my lip to keep from laughing at his theory… That was the priceless part.
“I prefer to think that she was taking care of him. You know, what’re they called? The folks that run errands and do shopping for Vampires when they can’t do it themselves?”
“A ‘day guy’… I bet you would prefer that mental image! Sorry Doll, your Gran was a fox back in the day and I’ve seen Northman. I’d go gay for that pretty bitch.”
“You’ve seen him? Hey. How did you know it was him?”
“He’s been Sheriff for longer than I’ve been walking… When Becky said you had company, described him. Psshhhh… after more than 2 months of thinking he was ‘good to the last drop’ like most of the other Fangs in the Area, those bitches suddenly burned up and you’re calling in sick the day it happens. It didn’t take long to get there. I had Becky get his plate number when she came by earlier. Had an old friend run it.”
“Who’s the smarty of the party?”
“Yeah. That’s me. What the fuck’s up with the black top? Tell me he paid you for helping out.”
“I’m telling ya, I didn’t help out with the Witch thing really. But it was him who did the driveway and apparently gave Becky money to fill my fridge since I’m under the weather… Opportunistic jerk jumped right on that when she came by last night…”
“If you didn’t help with the bonfire, why are you getting the Daddy Warbucks treatment?”
“He says he owes Gran, so he’s looking out for me. He hired a new lawyer for Jason when he found out about him too.”
“It’s not because you’re a fine young thing that smells like candy and has an ability with epic potential, right?”
“No sir. It’s because he’s trying to repay Gran for something she did for him.”
“Fine. While he’s at it, he should replace your old locks and install motion activated lights for your yard… He lay a hand on you?”
“He carried me through the cemetery because I was having a hard time walking through the weeds in the dark.”
“He feed from you?”
“Eric Northman has not fed from me…” I certainly hadn’t. Jan was the lucky asshole to get that pleasure. “Wouldn’t that constitute ‘laying a hand’ on me? Besides, I think I’d remember that.”
“Not if he glamoured you.”
“Can’t be glamoured because of my telepathy. I asked to be glamoured so that I wouldn’t know any of the details of what happened the other night. It didn’t work.”
He huffed. “You watch your ass, Sook. He had absolute control of his Area before his vacation. Other Vampires wouldn’t bow to him if he was a Care Bear and bitches would shiv their sisters to be shit on by him. If he gets it in his head that he wants you, he won’t take no for an answer.”
“Don’t do that. Don’t make him sound like some savage rapist. There’s a difference between that and being dominant and determined. You can’t exactly begrudge him for being an Alpha-male, now can you?”
He growled again. “Fair enough, but…” Another point in Tray’s favor. The more Sookie had tried to calm Merlotte, the more riled he became. Tray could be reasoned with.
“But… you’re telling me that Eric Northman is bad-ass enough that other Vampires don’t fuck with him. I get it. You don’t want to see me end up in the morgue because you love me.”
“Like you’re mine. I love you like my own kid. Don’t fucking forget it. We have your back. Shit gets out of hand, you let me know.”
“I promise, but don’t lose any sleep over this. I couldn’t be safer.”
“Why is his car still here? He around?”
“Alright. Gimmie some love so I can hit the road. If I meet the fucker in person I might offer him a blow job for executing those toxic twats.”
Her laugh was muffled, followed by the sounds of patting. “I love you.”
“Love you too. Give him a message for me?”
“They’re calling it the ‘Supe Alamo’. Tell Santa Anna I said ‘gracias’.”
“Will do. Don’t confirm anything about Eric though. Let the guys assume it was him or whatever, but he isn’t ‘back’ yet. K?”
“If you say so.”
Dawson’s truck was still driving away (very smoothly) when Sookie started climbing the stairs.
She leaned against the door and sighed. “You got your message?”
“He gave me a couple of newspapers… Headlines called them a ‘cult squatting in former night club’.” That would be an amusing read.
“That was the Were, the one you mentioned last night who told you what he is?”
“Yeah. Tray Dawson. We joke and call him the UN-Packmaster because he ended up being the guy everyone went to… He bought the service station when he retired. Back in September, he was in Merlotte’s for lunch one day and overheard a couple of old biddies gossiping about what was going on with Jason, that Gran had to mortgage the houses. He was waiting for me when the shift was over to offer me the second job. It started as piece work. Inventory and whatnot. He said I could have as many hours as I wanted and I wouldn’t be stuck on my feet, getting my butt grabbed by drunks, and depending on tips… He’s the closest thing to a Dad that I can remember, but that’s his type. He looks out for people.”
“And Becky is…?”
“His niece. Hallow killed her parents…”
“Was there a reason?”
“The pack sectioned off at first when Flood and his Lieutenants were murdered. Becky’s dad was kind of top dog for a pretty big group of them. Hallow wanted to scatter the pack so they couldn’t reorganize. Becky found her folks ripped apart and was traumatized enough that she wasn’t talking at first. Hell, that was a couple weeks after you got here. I went and stayed with them for a few nights… all the poor thing thought about was either seeing her parents all torn up or that the last thing she did was tell her parents she hated them. They’d grounded her for leaving the pack when they went out for a run… She’s a sweetheart. Calls me Sissy.”
“Was Nate’s father killed too?”
“Nate is Tray’s. His ex-wife got scared when her sister was killed and gave him custody of both kids. It’s better. She ended up dying too.”
“How many of Longtooth are left?”
“I know of about 50 former members of Longtooth, but there’s more floaters that gravitated out to the country to get out of the line of fire. But there’s probably 40 orphans. Tray’s scared they’re gonna end up in state foster care. There aren’t enough families to take them in. Most of the men were killed off.”
“So the women are forced to work instead of raise their children, let alone reach out to strays.”
“Yeah. That’s about it… Hey, I was wrong when I said that talking to you on the phone was weird. This is worse. Talking to you through a wall kinda reminds me of visiting Jason. I’m gonna run downstairs and finish eating my dinner. K?”
“Call Dawson. Have him come back.”
“Because as the Sheriff, I should get to know the Packmasters in my Area. I’ll join you in just a few minutes.”
I’d worked until I heard Dawson return. It hadn’t taken long to get things in order. The hard part had been doing it all without letting anyone know I was ‘back’.
Dawson had been leaning against the counter holding Nate when I walked into the kitchen, but he straightened his stance as quickly as his eyes bulged.
“For the purposes of this conversation, you’re meeting with Pam Ravenscroft who is acting as Deputy in my absence.”
“Well… uh… nice to meet you, ma’am.”
“Where are the children who were orphaned?”
He closed his eyes and shook his head, struggling with the shortage of small talk. “I… They’ve been farmed out to different families. Some were lucky enough to stay with family who knows what they’re in for. I’m keeping tabs on 32 in temporary situations.”
“Are the situations temporary because of finances?”
“Most. There’s a few who it’s just too much for. You know, small kids of their own and whatnot. The biggest thing is money. Extra kids means everything gets nickled and dimed. More groceries. Higher utilities. Needing more room, means paying more rent.”
“There are condos vacant and complete in Riverwalk Quarter. Do you know it?”
“That new development by the country club?”
“That’s the one. Have your foster parents complete job applications for themselves and the children they’re caring for…”
“Job applications for where?”
“They can get them from anywhere. It doesn’t matter. They all have fields for relevant information. Name, date of birth, contact information, social security number… just collect them and pass them on to Sookie.”
“Ok… what’s the plan?”
“Place the families in need of more room in the condos to help their situation. There are 3 and 4 bedroom units… With the information they provide on the forms, leases will be established and I’ll be able to ‘hire’ the foster parents in various positions in my companies. Officially, they’ll be paid a salary based on how many children they’re caring for. They’ll be able to benefit from hospitalization and dental insurance. A trust will be established for the children to assist them with their university expenses. The offer stands for any widows as well.”
He was breathing through his gaping mouth.
“Are there other families affected?”
Still no reply. I’d expected him to be surprised, not become a mongoloid.
I pulled my phone out of my pocket to read the perfectly timed text from Pam. “ROFLMAO. Wiccunts! Love it!” At least she hadn’t lost her affection for slang and cursing.
Nate seemed to be waiting for his father to answer too, but he gave up to give me a toothy grin. “Hi.”
“Hello. How are you?”
He put his hand up and when I mimicked him, he slapped mine. “High fiiiiiive!”
“And why do I get a high five?”
He screwed his smile even wider. “Dweeeeamscicles.”
“What is a dreamscicle?”
“The color or the fruit?”
He didn’t seem to be able to explain and twisted around to look at Sookie.
She smiled and smoothed her hand over his back as she walked past him. “Both. Dreamscicles are vanilla ice cream with a layer of orange sherbet over it. They’re his absolute favorite. He made sure that I got my own box when they went shopping. He’ll do anything for one… Pam, can I have a minute?”
I walked slower than usual so that I could enjoy the view as I followed Sookie to the back of the house.
She closed her bedroom door and folded her arms under her breasts. “That’s going to cost you a fortune. Why are you doing it?”
“It’s a small price to pay. I’m investing in a fresh Pack when they first start out… Making their childhood more carefree will make them more docile adults.”
She pointed, leaving her finger just a few inches from my face. “That’s your only freebie. I want the real reason.” She was warning me?
“I’m old-fashioned. Women should be at home with children instead of burdening the work force only to take sick days and maternity leave for granted, leaving their male counterparts to make up the work they’re missing.”
I watched her face for her reaction, which is why I missed that she was about to slap me until it was too late. “If you’re testing how easy it is for me to tell you’re lying, I’m passing. I warned you. Don’t lie to me.”
“Did you slap me for being a sexist or…?”
“I slapped you for only being half-honest. I can tell you meant it, but it isn’t your reason… Seriously, Eric. Why? You’re talking about millions of dollars.”
“I’m bribing my conscience.”
She narrowed her eyes. “What does your conscience have to do with Longtooth?”
“I might as well have killed them all myself.”
“Sweetie, it’s not your fault that you didn’t know fixing the problem would be so easy…”
“I killed the Witch booby-trapped with a spell because I lost my temper. It’s exclusively my fault that I didn’t know that my amnesia could be cured because it’s entirely my burden that there was a problem to begin with. I was ME when stomped on a landmine.”
“In other versions, some guy named Chow did it and you’re still the one that ended up cursed.”
“But here, in our world, I’m the one who precipitated a practical genocide. The other versions aren’t relevant here. If I’d kept my temper, those children would still have parents. Seeing to their financial needs is the least I can do.”
“Do you plan to write checks to all the Vampires who suffered?”
“No. Every one of the Vampires who are finally dead because of Hallow should be ashamed of themselves for falling to a Were. Vampires are stronger, faster, more experienced and as a minimum, the Fellowship was reason enough for them to already be on alert. Darwinism applies to Vampires as well… Weres don’t have the advantages we do. They might as well have been Human. The fact that the other Sookie hatched a plan to end Hallow’s reign in seconds, and that it only took 3 Vampires and 2 Humans 8 minutes to end 16 Witches proves that Hallow’s games only went on as long as they did because she was lucky.”
Sookie huffed, “K.”
“Ha. You can’t always tell when I’m lying. You actually believed that, but I’m just pretending to have feelings since paying your bills didn’t get me any closer to fucking you.”
She slapped me again, but that time it was because I let her. She truly could sense when I was lying. She stepped close enough that her chest brushed mine. “So, you ‘soulless son of a bitch’, do you by any chance have something larger than a condo available that could inch you closer to my bed?”
“I have a vineyard in Tuscany.”
She giggled, “Something local?”
“The first house I bought when I arrived has 6 bedrooms. It’s in Western Hills on the lake. Why?”
“Because there’s a pair of widows that have three kids between them, but took in 3 more… They said they’d take more if they had the money and room. They’re looking for a bigger place to share and combine efforts.”
“It’s theirs until the youngest one leaves for college.”
She smiled from ear to ear. “Folks really buy it, don’t they? That you’re a giant asshole.”
“I am a giant asshole.”
She reached up and I assumed she was going to slap me again, but she grabbed my nose and tugged my face closer to hers. “It must suck to care then.”
“I’m just thankful that it doesn’t happen often.”
She smirked and kissed me, my lips instead of my cheek… progress. “I’ve been keeping your secrets this long…”
Dawson had apparently gotten his IQ back while Sookie and I took our sidebar.
As soon as we returned to the kitchen, he started, “Buying a loyal pack?”
“Of course not. Officially, if anyone asks, and I doubt they will, Pam will pay for her bleeding heart. Sookie took the sob story of Longtooth’s struggle to Pam once news reached Bon Temps that she was acting in my stead. I won’t be vacationing for long, so you should call a meeting and encourage your pack to strike while the iron is hot. Everything will be set into motion by the time I ‘return’ and I won’t renege on Pam’s promises because it would undermine her authority.” I had donation receipts to zoos and aquariums that went back decades to prove Pam had a soft spot for animals if I was ever forced to discuss it.
He blinked a few times before he opened his mouth to say something, but Sookie interrupted him. “Tray, I’m on a contract. I’ll be doing my thing for him in return.” Brilliant cover story. A beautiful lie to cover the ugly truth.
“Your thing is worth a fortune, but even a decade of it isn’t worth what it’ll cost to…”
She interrupted, “He has a bigger house… one for Danielle and Stephanie. It’s got 6 bedrooms and…”
“Sookie seriously…” I had to give him credit for not being distracted by something shiny. “How can you be sure you aren’t making a deal with the devil?” He looked to me and almost cringed. “No offense.” None taken. I was far more comfortable with that reputation.
Sookie nodded, “Oh, I am… but I’m making a deal with the devil I know. Think about it, if he’s got condos and houses collecting dust that he can afford to loan out, then chances are good that sitting in on business meetings with him could catch a lie worth millions. He probably donates more every year as tax shelters… It’s fine. I’m happy to do it.”
I nodded, agreeing with how valuable her telepathy could be in business matters, but I couldn’t care less about her ability. Another text from Pam confirmed, “Your calls have been made. Everything is in motion. Why are we doing this?”
“Y’all are sure. I mean… This is crazy big. Those families…”
“I’m sure. My accountant will be calling you soon for information. Bruce Chastain is establishing the John Flood Memorial Relief Fund as we speak. You’ll be trustee so that you can disperse funds at your discretion. Pam contacted our Property Manager to let him know to make arrangements for the properties your pack will be using. Mr. Kinsey will be contacting you as well.”
“Like a post-bitchpocalypse FEMA?” I watched Sookie take Nate from Tray and walk to her freezer. She jokingly suggested meatloaf, peas and chicken as a snack, but the boy laughingly corrected each time with ‘dweamscicle’.
“A helpful loophole… I suggest you go online and become ordained so that you can minister for the Church of Loup Garou or something of the like… It gives you the right to assign foster homes within your congregation and supersedes most reasons for Social Services to be involved unless there are allegations of abuse or neglect.”
He seemed to relax marginally. “Shit. I hadn’t even thought about that… it’ll make custody and adoptions go smoother with a preacher backing them too. What’s that cost, like $15?”
“It cost $25 to renew mine last year.”
“It’s been useful. I’m also a Notary.”
He shook his head and chuckled. “Ok, so the condos…?”
“Available until the children are adults. I’ll just wait to sell them until then. Property values increase faster than the income from the sale would gain interest. It’s not as though I’m in a rush.”
“The Relief Fund?”
“On paper, your benefactor was a Vampire in my Area. Jesse Garon’s…”
“Sorry, isn’t Jesse Garon the name of Elvis’s twin? The one that didn’t make it?”
I nodded, surprised he’d asked since most people didn’t make the connection. “We called him Bubba… His will was nondescript only saying that his assets should be donated to charity upon his final death. I’ll add more to it, but it should be enough to get started.”
“Yeah. Alright… If you’re hiring the adults and putting them in condos, why the fund?”
“I’m sure the pack incurred an abundance of losses. The fund isn’t just for the orphans. Property damage, headstones, hospital bills… in addition to relocating multiple families. I doubt you’ll have difficulty spending it.”
He nodded and was lost in thought long enough that I was distracted… After settling Nate at the table with his snack, Sookie had gotten her own dreamscicle…
Since I’d been turned, food had no appeal to me whatsoever. At best, food offered the occasional aroma that I considered pleasant as opposed to bearable… She wasn’t being crude or suggestive, but she didn’t need to be. I filled what could’ve been an awkward silence by blatantly watching her lips wrap around the ice cream over and over…
The only thing to break my concentration was Sookie sliding her hand down my arm. “You ok?”
“I’m fine. Why?”
She looked amused. “You zoned out for a minute. Tray just wanted to be clear… Chester was maimed, still in the hospital. His girlfriend works, but once he’s home from the hospital…”
“Does he have a family, a home, insurance?”
She shook her head and her lip quivered as she spoke. I couldn’t stand to see it. “Nope. He lost a leg. He’s only about halfway through…” She paused to clear her throat. “He’s needed a lot of plastic surgery too.”
“Out of morbid curiosity… his leg?” I wasn’t quite sure if he’d be ‘complete’ in his shifted form. It wasn’t as though I’d spent a lot of time with wolves.
Dawson shook his head. “No, he’ll have to learn to run again too.”
“I’ll have Pam discuss things with our Property Manager to determine which residence is his best bet for handicap accessibility. Use the fund for his medical expenses. Contact Dr. Ludwig about the possibility of having a prosthesis made for him since it’s not likely that a vet would cooperate with fitting a wolf. And see to a vehicle for him once he’s well enough. Whatever he needs. That’s what the fund is for.”
“Um… not for nothing… how much is in the fund?”
“At the moment, just over $600,000. Like I said, it should be a good start. Once Pam can meet with Bruce to glamour him, five more will be added. You can let me know when you need more.”
“$500,000 just like that?” How cute.
“I meant five million. Speaking in terms of just the orphaned children, that only averages to be $175,000 each. Furnishings for the new residences will be needed. Pickups may need to be upgraded to sedans, sedans to minivans. Utility bills will need to be caught up to be transferred. And I’m sure that there are things that are escaping me because children aren’t my specialty…”
Sookie nodded. “Tray, the women are on WIC and Food Stamps… the few men left are struggling to take care of as many as they can. Times were hard enough before. They need this. You can take Bernie and Dave out to Costco and fill pallets with staples so everyone gets a full pantry. Yvonne’s kids are growing out of their clothes. Carol and Gina’s need glasses. They’re scared. They survived Hurricane Hallow, but the cleanup in the aftermath. This will help them get back on their feet.”
“By taking advantage of you. It’s not right. If anyone is going to get paid for your services it should be you.”
She snorted, “You can’t deny them. You love me. You’re attached to me, but their survival instincts aren’t going to let them ask more questions after they hear that ‘someone’ set up a memorial trust in the Colonel’s name. They’re going to take the help because their families need it. I’m not sacrificing anything but spare time. Go home and call everybody… tell them to come to the shop tomorrow afternoon. I’ll be by to help.”
He snorted, “Gonna ‘not talk’ to the whole bunch of them at once, are ya?”
“Only because they need me too.”
Sookie stood at the window by the front door and watched the Packmaster drive away.
In general, I couldn’t complain about the Were. Tray Dawson didn’t make a single complaint about being saddled with the burden of allocating a trust. His concern was that Sookie had made a deal with the devil as far as he knew. I was endlessly fonder of him than Merlotte. Even the way he admonished her or made accusations was less grating than Merlotte’s performance the night before.
I walked up behind Sookie and put my mouth to her ear. “If I have a vote, I think you should keep the job with him.”
“Because he doesn’t want to have sex with me?”
I corrected, “Because he wants to keep you safe. Even if he wanted to bed you, he’d be preferable because he’s legitimately protective of you.”
She nodded. “He’s good people.”
“From what I’ve seen, I’ll concede to that. I liked Flood too. He was principled, sensible, strong leadership skills… Dawson isn’t much different.”
“I hated lying to him, but he was worried that he’d end up leading an army of Weres for you… like Edgington has. Jackson’s Packmaster sold out. A beautiful lie to cover an ugly truth?”
“You… did you hear me? My thoughts?”
She nodded again. “Yeah. First time… It’s not ugly that you’ve got a conscience, you know… I’d equate it to having tonsils.”
“Humans don’t realize they have them until they flare up.”
“Now I’m jealous that tonsils can be removed.”
“Don’t be. This’ll pass.”
“I’m sorry that you lied to help cover my ‘affliction’. I owe you a lie in return.”
“No you don’t. I had to do it. I had a hand in those deaths too. I could’ve, should’ve confronted you when you didn’t have a memory. We could’ve put our heads together… It all could’ve been over weeks ago. Hindsight being 20/20 sucks, doesn’t it.”
“I suggest we fuck until dawn. It’ll make us both feel better.”
She snickered as she turned around. “You did good. Money doesn’t fix everything, but with what you’re doing, those folks are going to be able to start healing.”
“I don’t want to talk about it any longer… Pam will run the topic into the ground. I’m for changing the subject… Do you mind explaining what ‘I’m not talking to you’ means?”
“When Becky first came to stay with Tray, she stayed in bed for days, not talking, just replaying nightmares in her head over and over… When he finally asked me to help, I went over and sat with her. At first, I just listened… after a while I started answering her thoughts… It weirded her out enough that she yelled at me to stop listening…”
“But she was talking.”
“Yeah… ‘I’m not talking to you’ became a joke. A way to say ‘helping’, usually whether the recipient likes it or not.”
“So the care package and cleaning your house…?”
She giggled, “Not talking to me.”
“And keeping your distance from me…?”
“Not talking to you too.”
“You do realize how much hypocrisy there is in the fact that you fought to keep me from spending $2000 on your bills while you just helped convince a man to take millions from me.”
“Maybe, but you aren’t going to say anything about it.” Oh really?
“A- I own that I’m stubborn, but my obstinacy only affected me at the time. And B- If you’re a jerk about it…” She put her hand on my chest and raised an eyebrow. “I’ll volley by reminding you that you have a heart.”
“Fair enough.” I certainly wasn’t going to invite that on myself.
She tilted her head in an obvious ‘that’s what I thought’ gesture. “So… when you zoned out… in the kitchen earlier. Were you remembering something?”
“Then what was that?”
“I was wishing I was a dreamscicle.”