Chapter 23: Schadenfreude

Nuclear Winter

Chapter 23

Schadenfreude

**

I had a list…

Details that had been kept from me either by circumstance or design…

  • I still wanted to know what Lindy meant by saying Allecks was a doctor… Was or is? What type of doctor? I was sure Lindy wouldn’t be confused by her father’s title if he held a doctoral degree in a field other than medicine, but… What kind of fucking doctor would ignore that his wife couldn’t carry a child to term? Considering the physical and psychological effects made me question Allecks’s acumen… Factoring Sookie into the scenario made me want to twist his head from his shoulders.
  • I still wanted more details about Gawain’s combination of abilities. Even if I didn’t expect many answers, the fact that he could glamour without being in the company of his target was too curious. I would have settled for the details of a few instances when I was sure he’d used his gift… and saved our heads.
  • I still wanted to know why the scales of disclosure were so obviously lopsided between the girls and Francesca. The girls knew where she was from, where she lived, what she did to fill her time. Francesca knew Sookie had three little girls and nothing more… My working theory was the boys were either anxious Francesca wouldn’t approve, or were taking their time because the girls were still a decade away from fulfilling their potential. Either way, it seemed like they preferred the idea of asking for forgiveness over begging for permission… And if they continued to dote over Misty and Jenny while watching Francesca like a hawk, it was all going to come crashing down around them.
  • I still wanted the details Gawain had been given about our gifts. The mysterious information that even the cleverest of little girls couldn’t think of a way to veil while Francesca was party to the information. While I tried to figure that out on my own, it occurred to me Francesca would learn about it eventually… Knowing various Sookies were less burdened by the heightened senses of being brought over, I was planning to strongly suggest to the boys they bond with Misty and Jenny before becoming their Makers. Bonding, even though the girls were farther removed from their Fae lineage, meant they could enter the braid.
  • I still wanted to fuck Sookie. That item might not fit into the list in conventional terms, but it’s my fucking list. It was annoying enough obligations forced that item to the bottom of the list.

I’d already made peace with waiting for an explanation from Edward and Richard until we were in Europe again. Nothing about the matter was pressing and whose business is Maker/child business? That’s right, no one. The sudden change of plans for the evening only made it that much clearer to me we wouldn’t have an opportunity to discuss the situation…

The original plan was for the boys to be with us for toying with Merlotte and Sookie’s signing, and then we were to part ways so they could visit Avalon with Gawain… The deviation was puzzling, to say the least. The boys claimed they wanted to visit with Francesca, opting out of all of the original plans… but even though they didn’t have any complaints about Ema, they didn’t want to stay at the flophouse and asked Sookie for the use of Jason’s van. Ema and Hadley had normal hearing and only spoke English, so there was no threat to their privacy.

It wasn’t as though any of it mattered in the scheme of the evening, but it was curious nonetheless… without Francesca in company, I was determined to cross at least one item from my list.

**

We were all wearing T-shirts and jeans when we left the flophouse…

Sookie carried a garment bag full of our dress shirts to the limo driver… Fresh shirts and tightly secured hair that could be let down later to minimize the scent of Merlotte’s as much as possible…

With only six kilometers between the flophouse and Merlotte’s, I barely waited for everyone to settle for the ride.

Since Miles was in the front seat, babbling about Louisiana wildlife to the driver, I asked, “There’s more… More to the story behind the druzy and you couldn’t explain with Francesca present, yes?”

Sookie shrugged. “Not that I can think of…”

“Lindy thought something to Gawain. I assumed there was more, something anecdotal perhaps?”

Without looking up from her phone (she’d been texting for nearly an hour) Lindy giggled, “Just that we’d take pictures of the tokens later. Pams insist they get added to the journal. Gawain said it was nice to know some things never change, her thing for jewelry, and it’s all your fault she’s such a brat…”

Fair enough… That would explain why he’d winked.

“Anyway, Pams swear it’s to keep Erics from buying duplicate markings, but from what we hear, there’s at least one Pam who has them all ranked on a favorite list.”

“Do I want to know?”

“Corvette Pam, the one who did her testimonial with Cort and Hunter on her lap, decided her least favorite is a string. She says Eric did it just to piss her other self off… and her favorite markings are charmed rings set with art-glass…”

Gawain asked, “Charmed how?”

“Eric and Sookie were looking for a way to outsmart the braid. Since skipping sometimes negates the bond, They had the rings charmed… They had to cancel the charm though because it amplified their bond so much They couldn’t focus on anything unless They were together, like same-room-together. Eric compared it to being called… Plus when They skipped, They were pulled in two directions because both Sookies have the same blood.”

“The charm on the ring was strong enough to be compared to a Maker’s call?”

Lindy nodded, still without looking up from her phone’s screen. “Yeah. Paulette’s got juice. It’s a good thing she uses her powers for good instead of evil.”

I snorted, “We should introduce her to Misty.”

Misty smirked and put her fingers to her temples… ‘horns’. “Who? Meeeeeeee?

I nodded. “Whose business is Maker/child business?”

She giggled, “Mine?”

“All in an effort to bank favors.”

“Not really… Francesca’s alright. She thought I was cute. She wasn’t annoyed or anything.”

Since Misty had been monitoring Francesca’s mind for cues, I didn’t have much of an argument.

“She was most likely amused the same way she’d be amused by any child… Jenny impressed her.”

Corbett’s arm was already around Jenny’s shoulders… he gave her a gentle squeeze and kissed the top of her head…

Jenny grinned at her knees, but Misty argued, “She barely said anything. Is Francesca one of those ‘children should be seen and not heard’ types?”

“Hardly, but Jenny’s inspiration for our tokens and markings is Francesca’s personal obsession. As rarely referenced as Pliny the Elder is, Francesca would have been impressed if I mentioned him.”

“We all read Naturalis Historiæ.”

Sookie offered, “Yeah, but Jenny’s the one who remembered the text well enough to make the connection to quartz…”

Lindy nodded and agreed, “Because Jen rocks. We were fighting over what to pick when she had the coolest brain-fart ever.”

I couldn’t help but ask, “What were you debating?”

“Ammolite, tanzanite and turquoise. Three-way deadlock.”

Misty huffed, “Jen won double, because she still picked a turquoise Druzy for Edward… Lindy, who are you texting that you’ve blocked everyone?”

Lindy stuck her tongue out and blew a raspberry before explaining, “I’m pacifying Pappa because Mommy was a snot to him last night…”

Sookie blurted, “I was not! I had a good reason to be angry at him!”

“He didn’t tattle to put me in the middle or anything, but he mentioned he upset you and I know what that means because I’m not an idiot… He put his foot in his mouth and you blew up at him…”

I was elbowed for chuckling… it was nice to see the 6-year old wasn’t suffering any delusions about her mother.

Lindy continued, “I sent him a picture of Jen with Hope and told him we’re excited to decorate the nursery… Eric, you mentioned Paris earlier. Pappa isn’t planning to be in Eijsden until Friday, but it would probably be better if he knows about the detour ahead of time. Do you mind if I mention it?”

I shook my head, but Gawain asked, “Would we still go to Paris if I already sent the videos of Bethany and Francois to Clovis and copied Tyson? Once Tyson knows, Clovis is forced to act on the new information and subsequently play nicely with you… I also contacted Teague to extend your invitation to him and mentioned that he might want to begin packing or he could find himself filling a vacant seat in Clovis’s House of Lords.”

That was the problem with computers. I thought the asshole was checking his email just before we left the flophouse… Phones were phenomenal because eavesdropping was possible.

Fuck his initiative. It robbed me of an excuse to extend my vacation.

“Fabulous. I like the idea of seeming to hide behind my Lords.”

“I like the idea of the situation being buried.”

I growled at him… I wasn’t ready to go back to Eijsden. I’d only just gotten my first taste of freedom in decades.

As the limo pulled into the parking lot, Misty asked, “So are y’all gonna have a political pissing match?”

I shook my head. “No. He did what I would have done… with very few deviations.” The one deviation being that he sent an email instead of having me go to France.

I still sounded like I was pouting.

Misty nodded thoughtfully for a moment before elbowing Gawain’s side and hissing, “Thanks a butt-ton, clown! We were gonna go to Paris! The Louvre was going to soften the blow of going to see Anne Frank’s safe-house eventually.”

As she stomped towards the door of the limo to leave, I offered, “I think you should skip the safe-house. It’s bland and depressing if you know how the story ends…”

Misty stopped in her tracks and Sookie took a deep breath as though she was bracing herself.

“I recommend Het Verzetsmuseum. The Dutch Resistance is related subject matter, and the memorabilia collection is so impressive it’s practically a time-capsule… The exhibits are geared towards both the victims and the heroes.”

A win/win considering the varied audience…

Sookie rolled her eyes and sighed, “Replacing the Anne Frank House with Het Verzetsmuseum on our ultimate-Amsterdam itinerary. All in favor?”

AYE!

Misty’s arm flew into air quickly enough for her knuckles to rap the ceiling… she was already wincing when Lindy and Jenny raised their hands.

“All opposed?”

The girls froze, going as far as holding their breath so nothing could be misunderstood.

Perfect. We could return to Eijsden for a few nights, give the girls the time to visit Allecks and settle Ema and Hope… I’d be able to check on matters of state and arrange for our jaunt to Amsterdam.

Sookie shook her head as she giggled, “Motion carried…”

I wasn’t sure why Gawain didn’t see it coming, but I left the car before the girls could deafen me with a triplicated squeal…

Then again, he would have needed to shove past Misty. I just used the moon-roof.

**

When we walked into Merlotte’s, Miles held his arms out and arched his back, basking as he announced, “Inebriated extroverted imbeciles! My people.”

The bar was full of customers and he’d earned the attention of every fucking one of them.

Until a few of them recognized the Stackhouses… Hoyt included.

He was standing next to the pool table with a beer in one hand and his cue in the other, just as we found him during his first visit. He reached out to slap the shoulders of two nearby men who smiled in our direction before opening their mouths…

They began bellowing out the most dreadful noise imaginable… and it spread through the bar like a plague, including to the women and children.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Judging by the looks on their faces, they weren’t hostile. All of them were using different pitches and calls… torture for the hearing.

And, of course, Miles joined them.

Corbett chuckled, “Now you know what a rebel-yell is… betcha coulda gone the rest of your life without hearing that.”

Definitely.

When the noise began to die down, Hoyt made his way through the crowd to Sookie…

Pecking her cheek and asking to be introduced to the girls…

We didn’t have to wait long before Dawn spotted Corbett and yelled to a busboy to clear a table for our party…

But in the meantime, the rebel-yell had drawn Merlotte out.

He scowled, studying us as we took our seats… He was so focused on Gawain and me that he didn’t seem to notice Miles was watching him just as carefully.

Misty raised her eyebrow before turning to look over her shoulder. She snorted, “This is going to be fun. He needs a diaper…”

Miles added, “And a proper smile. He looks like he needs more fiber in his diet.”

Corbett added, “And a cheap date…” He looked up at our waitress and asked, “What happened? I thought you had the night off.”

“I did until Sam called me in. Arlene called out. Her husband’s missing.”

Corbett snorted, “I’m sure someone knows where he is…” The girls began giggling. “He probably won’t be the last asshole to run out on Arlene and her lil’uns. She’ll settle for any guy willin’ to lie to her for a while.”

Dawn rolled her eyes. “Yeah. Tell me about it. He’ll turn up… So what can I get y’all?”

Corbett pointed at Miles and said, “This poor bastard needs to have a Burger Lafayette before he goes home… What does Merlotte stock by way of stout?”

“I think we have some Guinness left over from last Saint Paddy’s Day.”

“That’ll work… I’ll have the same… Girls?”

Jenny grinned and nodded, “We heard Laffy makes good onion rings and we want cherry cokes, please.”

Miles added, “And tell the mousey chap behind the bar to stop eye-fucking me. My dance card is quite full tonight.”

Once Dawn was sure no one else wanted to order something, and finished laughing at the looks being shared between Miles and Merlotte, she left…

**

I opened my mouth to ask how the fuck Corbett could eat again so soon, he and Miles had eaten more gumbo before we left the flophouse, but a man approached the table.

He stooped down for the last few steps, putting himself very close to Sookie’s face. He drawled, “Looky what the cat drug in… SookieSookieSookie…

When Sookie looked at him, she squinted, but then her eyes widened. She stood quickly to hug the man, gasping, “JB!”

Meanwhile a completely unamused (and bulbously pregnant) woman watched their greeting… the two strangers wore matching wedding bands… She scanned Sookie’s body, stalling at Sookie’s tiny waist…

The man released Sookie and stepped back. “Sook, this is my old lady, Amanda… Manda, Sook and me go way back. Kindergarten. Even dated for about… What was it Sook?”

Sookie offered to shake Amanda’s hand and answered, “For about a semester in high school… JB, these are my girls. Misty, Jenny and Lindy… and…”

“Manda’s still bakin’ our first… Which fella’s yours?”

His wife was happier with him with every word out of his mouth.

Sookie pointed at me. “I belong to the tall blond. Eric… and our friends are Miles and Gawain. You remember my Daddy.”

At least she hadn’t called me her boyfriend.

He waved in Corbett’s direction, but didn’t look away from Sookie. “Yeah, run into ‘em once in a while… Where ya been keepin’ yourself?”

“Switzerland mostly, but we just moved to the Netherlands.”

JB nodded for a moment and finally said, “Nope. I got no clue where that is. Europe though, right?”

Sookie nodded. “Yeah… What have you been up to?”

“Not much. Been working for a moving company. We just came in ‘cuz Manda can’t get enough fried pickles… She could eat ‘em by the pound right now.”

Amanda was close to widowing herself… and the way she was looking at her husband could have done the job.

In an effort to keep blood from being spilled, Jenny piped, “Miss Amanda, is it going to be a boy or a girl?”

Judging by the size of her bulge, it was going to be a Titan.

Amanda smiled, grateful for the attention, but JB offered, “It’s a boy. Havin’ a hard time thinkin’ of a name though. Never liked mine enough to force Junior on him and her maiden name is Kelly and that’ll just get his ass kicked.”

Jenny nodded. “I like your mom’s maiden name. Beauregard. You could call him Bo for short.”

“Yeah? I didn’t even think a’ that…”

He also didn’t think about how Jenny would know his mother’s maiden name.

He turned to his wife said, “That’ll work. I like it…” She opened her mouth to say something, but he called over his shoulder, “HEY HOYT! BEAUREGARD!”

Hoyt shouted back from the pool table, over a crowd of customers, “WE’LL CALL HIM BO ‘TIL HE GETS A STRAIGHT JOB, BUT THAT’S A KEEPER, MAN!”

JB laughed as he turned around. “Hot damn! Who’da thought I’d get anything outta this place but a hangover!? Thanks girlie. Which one are you?”

“Jenny.”

“Jenny, how’d you know my mama’s maiden name?”

“She used to babysit us. Sookie’s raising us now, but Hadley’s our mother. You don’t remember us?”

He covered his mouth and dropped to squat next to her. “OH MY GOD! Y’all are Jen-Jen and Mimi! Y’all got SOOOO big! Look at y’all! How y’all been?

Jenny giggled at his reaction. “We’ve been great since Sookie got us. Miss Sara always said we needed structure. She was right.”

He chuckled, “Mama loves being right… Y’all seen her while ya been in town?”

“No… This was a short visit. Maybe when we come back for Easter.”

He nodded and snatched his wife’s purse. He pulled out a cellphone and looked back at Sookie to ask, “Mind if I take a picture for Mama? She won’t believe how grown they look!”

While Sookie shook her head and told him she didn’t mind, Amanda suggested, “I should probably get off my feet soon, JB…”

Sookie pulled her own chair out to offer it to Amanda, but JB was too distracted by his phone while the girls leaned closer together to realize his wife had been invited to sit.

He huffed, “Go wait in the truck then, hon. I’ll be right out.”

Sookie waited just long enough after Amanda stormed out and for JB to say he’d taken a good photo… Then she kicked his ass.

“J. B. Du. Rone!”

He effortlessly lifted himself from the floor and poetically asked, “Whut?”

She snorted, “It was nice knowin’ ya…”

Corbett sat back and chuckled, “You just pissed off the pregnant woman you sleep next to, kid. You’re a dead man.

He looked like he’d been slapped. “What’d I do!? I was just sayin’ hi!”

Corbett shook his head and drawled, “You mean, before or after you grabbed an ex-girlfriend for a hug? Are we countin’ Sookie’s wearin’ a push-up, has a waist, and can see her feet?”

JB winced and whined, “Yeah… I’m gonna die.”

Miles offered, “And maybe I’m new here, but that baby naming ceremony was a bit bizarre… Had you even considered Beauregard amongst yourselves before having strangers and a shitfaced friend add their pence to the pot?”

“You don’t like it?”

Miles snorted, “I think it’s a lovely name, mate, but Bo isn’t giving me the urge to binge deep-fried atrocities…” He sat back and lifted his legs to rest his feet in Corbett’s lap as he crooned, “The female of the species is more deadly than the male…”

JB whined again, “I’m gonna die… twice.”

Sookie giggled and shook her head. “You’ll be fine. When you get in the truck, tell her you dumped me because I’m conceited and bossy…”

I offered, “You say that as though he’d be lying.”

JB grinned and offered, “That’s not what…”

Sookie slapped her hand over his mouth and growled, “But your insecure wife doesn’t need to hear you just ignored her for a girl you didn’t want to break up with…”

He mumbled into Sookie’s hand, “But… my mama…”

“The kids don’t need to hear that.”

“Oh… right… Sorry.”

Sookie nodded and removed her hand slowly. “I was uppity and bossy in high school.”

“And hot.”

Corbett laughed, “Damn it, kid…” He shook his head and stood up to take JB’s arm and lead him to the door. He quietly explained, “Sook’s just givin’ ya a pretty lie…”

I didn’t bother listening to the rest of their conversation. I was distracted by seeing Lindy switch between functions on her phone. She’d recorded the encounter with JB. When she realized I noticed, she whispered, “Cort never met his Daddy. I thought he might want to hear his voice or see his smile happen.”

Because I needed another reason to regret how I treated them when we first met, the little Sookie statuette inadvertently rubbed my nose in the fact that I’d confused their caring nature as charity and pity… and lashed out at them.

I smiled at her efforts, but Merlotte arrived before I could compliment Lindy.

**

The Shifter blustered from behind the bar to wedge himself between JB and Corbett as though there was some sort of conflict.

JB stumbled back a step, but Corbett Stackhouse didn’t budge, didn’t blink, didn’t show any sign he was intimidated by the Shifter’s behavior.

Wonder where I’d seen that fearlessness before.

Corbett rolled his eyes and groaned, “What now, Merlotte?”

The Shifter spat, “Are you trying to pick a fight with one of my customers, Stackhouse?”

Miles began whistling a song, earning a scornful look from Merlotte and giggles from the girls. Gawain and I were oblivious to what was so funny.

Even Corbett was struggling to keep a straight face when he answered, “You been watchin’ and listenin’ since we sat down. JB’s an old friend. Back your shit down before it ain’t funny anymore and you get hurt.”

Fair warning.

“Is that why you brought backup this time, old man? You wanna kick my ass?”

“Yeah, you peckerhead, I brought my grandbabies to help me kick the shit outta you… Why can’t you just settle your ass down?”

Miles finally stopped whistling to offer, “Erectile dysfunction.”

The song had been a mystery, but I knew what the fuck that was.

Merlotte and Miles were the only ones in the general area who weren’t laughing…

Miles calmly picked a bit of lint from his shirt as he stood and walked over to join the fun.

He patted JB’s back and offered, “Best wishes to Beauregard and his mum, mate…” and gave a gentle push to cue JB towards the door. When Miles turned to Merlotte, he looked him over and explained, “State your case for touching my companion, sir.”

Merlotte nervously laughed, “What the fuck are you supposed to be? His bodyguard?”

“I prefer the word soldier. Miles Jeffries, Limburg Koninklijk…”

“What the fuck is that?”

Corbett quietly growled, “Limburg is where they live. Limburg Standaard are the average Joes. Limburg Koninklijk is the Royal fuckin’ Guard. Keep it up, Sam. You’re really shittin’ in your own lap here.”

Sam narrowed his eyes and looked at me.

Miles smiled and put his mouth to Merlotte’s ear to whisper, “That’s right, love. You grabbed a Vampire King’s pet…”

The color completely drained from Merlotte’s face before Misty left her seat…

She hung her head and climbed onto my lap, clinging to my neck as she cried, “Why is that man being so mean to Grampa?” So adorably evil.

As if that wasn’t enough to make Merlotte’s customers curl their lips in disgust, the way Lindy and Jenny left their seats to cower behind my shoulders was priceless.

Fucking hilarious.

Somehow I managed to continue the farce… I cradled Misty’s head and shushed her consolingly.

Miles continued in full volume, “If you need a hobby, try football. Scaring little children is just beastly.” I don’t know how the fuck Miles kept a straight face. He knew better than to think Misty was fragile.

Merlotte growled, “Why the fuck are you here?”

Corbett offered, “Better question is why are you here? Congrats. You broke up a friendly conversation and scared three little girls…”

A woman at a nearby table chided, “I hope you’re proud of yourself, Sam. They weren’t hurtin’ nobody.”

A man at another table added, “They was mindin’ their own business till you caused a stink, Merlotte. Leave ‘em alone.”

Corbett took the long route around the table, turning his back on a riled Shifter without showing any fear, and lifted Jenny.

Sookie snarled, “You can be a douche bag about Vampires if you want to, Sampson Merlotte, but you’re the one causing a scene. What the hell’s wrong with you? They’re just kids.

He rolled his eyes… which is probably why he was surprised to be hit by a basket of food one of his customers threw.

He scoffed, trying to ignore his growing popularity, and argued, “It isn’t my fault their mother’s too stupid to keep them away from Vampires. You should be reported!”

Sookie scoffed, “Right, because the Vampires walked up to someone and grabbed them without reason…”

Lindy patted my shoulder to get my attention and whispered, “This isn’t right. We need to go.”

Whether she meant to or not, she’d gotten Merlotte’s attention too.

I asked, “Are you picking up on a reason we should be concerned?” I was sure Miles could hold his own in a brawl… It was an attack on Sookie I was concerned about.

She nodded and breathed, “Sam’s going caveman, but it’s them… everyone else. We’re in a fishbowl. When Weres come out, this town’s going to associate all Shifters with Sam’s short fuse. Grandaddy has to live here. We need to go.”

Fair enough… and amazing confirmation of the warning I’d been given about Lindy being a natural strategist.

As I stood, I lifted Lindy…

But when Gawain tried to usher Corbett, Jenny and Sookie towards the door, Corbett helped Jenny move to Gawain’s arms.

Fuck.

Corbett approached Merlotte again with his head down, more bold behavior from a man who knew Were etiquette enough to know his posture practically screamed ‘go fuck yourself’.

Merlotte rolled his eyes again. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, you got friends in Hotshot. I’m not scared of them, Stackhouse.”

Corbett was smirking when he lifted his chin to look at the Shifter. “I get that. You’re too dumb to keep your hands off girls who don’t belong to you. You’re too dumb to know better than to advertise what a bigot you are in public. It makes sense that you’re too dumb to know even though ‘my friends’ are inbred that there’s more of them…”

Merlotte snorted, “Are you threatening me, Stackhouse?”

Brilliant. Because his customers seemed like they were having difficulty choosing sides.

Corbett shook his head. “Naw. Just statin’ facts…” He whispered, “But you’re collectin’ enemies. Vampires and Weres…”

Merlotte taunted, “Oooooh, and Stackhouses. I’m scared now.”

Miles looked at me and shook his head… The Shifter who argued about chocolate bits, cooed at marsupial rats and dubbed himself the ‘Ear-Worm King’… He knew Merlotte’s behavior was absurd.

Corbett breathed, “You should be… Faeries take their family seriously.”

While Miles looked like his face had been pickled, I could only see enough of Merlotte’s face to know his color was gone…

He was too stunned to hear he’d pissed off a Faerie to realize Corbett’s hand was fisted…

One punch.

Merlotte barely had time to flinch before Corbett’s fist collided with his temple. He was hit with enough force he was limp when he landed on the floor. Unconscious.

Misty managed to maintain her sad little show, but she was so amused, I was close to laughing.

The dining room of the restaurant gasped as a collective, but no one moved as though they considered tending to Merlotte.

Corbett looked down at his victim and took a deep breath and then scanned the dining room… and stopped to stare at Lindy for a moment before pulling a chair out and calling towards the kitchen. “Laffy, bag up our food, will ya baby!?”

He was sitting down to wait for his order?

After dropping a Shifter?

Faerie.

Somehow I managed to keep a straight face, even though the customers returned to their meals and drinks as though there wasn’t a body on the floor… Most of them gossiped about the scene, and we listened until Dawn ran from the kitchen window with bag and an armful of Styrofoam cups for Corbett.

**

As soon as we were in the limo, Corbett began distributing cups and food to everyone, lowering the window to the front seat to pass Miles’s food and drink… Given the way everyone was watching him, I wasn’t sure if he was excluding me from an explanation until he cleared his throat…

“I’m driving his ass outta town.”

Sookie shook her head. “What? Why?”

“Cuz Bon Temps don’t need his shit. Just based on that journal a’yours we know he’s a wolf in sheeps clothin’. Never took a likin’ to the pissant anyway. He’s lucky he heals quick or he woulda been in the hospital after the way he acted ‘bout Selma, then Ema. I’m done with ‘em.”

Sookie scoffed, “So you’ve got a grudge, but Daddy… you can’t just run him out of town. He’s got employees.”

“Yeah.”

He took a large bite of his burger and he didn’t seem like he was planning to elaborate.

He finally offered, “I forgot how much Lin wanted to open her own place… She was sick for so long… I’ma buy the place once Merlotte’s out. Basic sandwich shop like she got to do in those other versions. Me and Ash started knockin’ ideas around a couple weeks ago. She’s already got Lin and Momma’s recipes. I know Laffy and Terry’ll stick around and…”

Sookie sighed, “Is there any talking you out of opening a restaurant when your experience is limited to flirting with waitresses?”

“Nope.”

She sighed again. “All for Aunt Linda.”

He nodded and took another bite of his burger… he finally offered, “Calvin and me, we’ll have fun runnin’ Merlotte’s ass out on rails, but then I’m takin’ care a business… The way I look at it, with the skippin’ around and whatnot, if you see Lin again… I don’t want her to hear she took me with her when she died. I want her to hear I kept part of her alive.”

I felt the sympathetic lump in Sookie’s chest and the burn in her eyes.

Corbett raised his eyebrows and pressed, “What?”

She shrugged. “Nothing… I’m sure she’ll be happy to hear that.”

When Sookie gave my hand a subtle squeeze, it might have been a subtle hint… that Sookie finally considered something paralleled to my circumstances.

Whether it was a hint, or a coincidence, it didn’t matter.

I’d already made the connection on my own.

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42 thoughts on “Chapter 23: Schadenfreude

  1. Awww. Great chapter! Merlotte seems to be extra shitty in this version. Ah well, Corbett will see that he’s gone soon enough.

  2. Woohoo for getting rid of Merlotte. Lindy certainly is a smart girl, thinking far enough out to consider Calvin and the reveal coming. Love Corbett though, he makes me smile.

  3. Loved this! The girls were perfect little actresses and the closing was lovely. I adore that Corbet is being proactive about Sam and in carrying on Linda’s dream. So sweet. I’m getting anxious to see what happens when/if Eric and Sookie skip and see a Pam. I’m ready for that to be heartbreaking…and heartwarming. I’ll be keeping tissues near for any NW updates just in case, lol.

  4. What a fantastic chapter. Loved it. Every bit of it, especially the part where Corbett unknowingly forms a grief coping
    strategy for Eric, as well as himself.

  5. Love the theme from lassie in the middle of he story. Also miles is great when he first walks in can’t wait for more and the answers to Eric’s list. 🙂 thank you for the chapter needed the cheering up today.

  6. loved it loved the girls they are awesome…. and Miles, i love that shifter he is tooooo funny….. until the next post Kristie

  7. I think I’m in love with this Corbett, he is such an alpha. The girls are all fantastic, I am so proud of them and really look forward to them growing closer to Edward and Richard. Miles I really like to read about the mischief he gets up to, but from a safe distance…

  8. awww so sweet of Corbett wanting to open the Sandwitch shop in honor/memory of Linda. Merlotts needs to go. Merlott got a asswoopin and needs a good boot out of town. love that thats Corbetts plan. Smart, that man.

  9. The girls are awesome. They were hilarious. I love corbett putting Sam in his place and it’s a brilliant plan to turn the town against him to run I’m off. He really is a big pussy in wolfs clothing….nah, he’s just a pussy. Lol! JB is so simple, I was hoping his wife would whap him one. Hehe! Fab as usual.

  10. Uh…I think Merlottes is worse in this version than in the Dark –Seriously. Love that Cobett clocked him and will take over the restaurant. The girls are a hoot and Miles is just….Miles…..You would have thought with another shifter in the house he would have behaved himself…but no….

    And the “Lassie” theme –I know a lot of the readers here may be too young to remember it, but I could name that song in 3 notes 🙂

    Loved the update!
    Pat

  11. Awesome. Too bad Sam is such a twit. He’s biting his own nose off. The kids were wonderful . Eric didn’t need to do anything but sit there and observe.

  12. I was so happy to see this alert in my email. It was a great thing to sit down to after spending 3 hours at a two year old’s birthday party. Along with some of the worst parents, who can not be bothered to watch their brats. It is at a public park, your child can wander away IDIOTS, and can not be bothered ti pick up their plates when they are done eatting. Thank for letting me vent!! Awesome chapter, I was looking forward to them messing with Merlotte since it was mentioned.

    • Sorry again for venting, I was just soo thankfully for this chapter. It took my mind off of how annoyed I was until it ended. I need more pleease!!

  13. great chapter…thanks for the update!!

    “When we walked into Merlotte’s, Miles held his arms out and arched his back, basking as he announced, “Inebriated extroverted imbeciles! My people.”” – too freakin funny…was LMAO 😀

    loved, loved how the girls got in on the fun…if you didn’t know they were Sookie’s kids, you know know!

    also loved how when Corbett TKO’d Sam, Eric was like…

    “He was sitting down to wait for his order?

    After dropping a Shifter?

    Faerie.” couldn’t have said it better myself!! thanks again 🙂

  14. Another great chapter. I loved that in spite of being a shifter and supposidly having a great nose he was unable to smell the fairy in Corbett. This Sam is a loser and it will be great to hear how he gets run out of town. I love the girls they are so smart. Of course I love the Eric and Sookie connection. Looking forward to more.

  15. “I don’t want her to hear she took me with her when she died. I want her to hear I kept part of her alive”

    That has to be the most profound thing any of them could have said (even accidentally) about Eric and Liz. The sentiment suited both situations and, like Sookie, brought a lump to my throat. Good job. You have such a way with words.

    I’m also hoping that that’s the way Eric is starting to think…or at least the direction his thoughts are going in. Remember her, always love her and find ways to honour her memory. Don’t ever let her (in any verse) know that her death almost brought him to his. She couldn’t have stood that.

    Love the evil little Misty. I think she’s one of my favourite child characters. Hell, she’s one of my favourite characters. Period.

    Merlotte. What a dick. In every verse. ‘Nuff said. Oh…and Corbetts a hoot!!!

    Anywho…loved the chappie. Looking forward to more. And as always…YOU ROCK 😉

  16. haha the girls were just amazing
    loved it but i cant wait to see what edward and richard were up to hopefully that comes in the next chapter 🙂
    thanks for updating!

  17. OOOOO Loved it, first of all, thanks for getting my mind off the fact that I busted the shit outta my knee again last night. Now, as for the way to remember Liz, how about bringing rubbernecking into it, and starting a line of Jewelery for her…..since they were talking about how Pams love the way they “mark” themselves…LOL

  18. This is the second time reading and both times I had tears in my eyes when Corbett explaind he planned on fulfilings Lin’s dreams etc. LOVE it and I’m so looking forwared to an update. 😉

  19. I just want more, more NW, more EP, more Alpha, more RN, just more…. we were so spoiled the last couple weeks I’ve checked for even more updates like 50 times today while re-reading NW leading up to the update. It doesn’t matter how many times I re-read, I love all the stories each and every time.

  20. DAMMIT!!! I don’t wanna like Russell Brand!! How terrible is it that I like him better because of his role as Miles than anything I’ve seen in the movies or in his cameos on Tv? I think you should think of writing a screenplay for him. Could do extra wonders for his career, bring over the last of the naysayers like me. The girls were just perfect in this chapter too. Usually Misty is my fave, cuz she’s so pushy, but this time they were equally perfect in their Merlotte’s roles. The only request I would have coming out of this chapter: Can we stay in Louisiana until Corbett runs Sam off? Please oh please?

    • I totally agree about Russell Brand!! visualizing RB has also helped me get a handle on Miles – give him a ‘voice’ that just works with the dialogue.

  21. Oye! I’m totally obsessed with this MV!! I honestly find myself in this terrible state of addiction! I’ve read this chapter more that 3 times, the entire story just about ever other time there is an update (simply to make the high last longer, not because I can’t remember) … I NEED MORE!! 😉 Keep it up, all of your stories are amazing (but seriously, this one is better than crack). I must have more ASAP! 😉

  22. The eye candy is the gift that keeps on giving, and giving, and giving..Such a packed chapter and you brought Corbett’s situation with Linda around to a perfect analogy for Eric and Liz/Pam.
    VaLady

  23. Hello there i have another one for you
    the line pairs up with RN chapter 11 His Lastest Flame on the right side border
    “I though the asshole was checking his email just before we left the flophouse… Phones were phenomenal because eavesdropping was” the second word(though) is missing the T, thought …
    my best Kristie

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