Endorsing Pam to replace me as Sheriff had been the most miserable decision I’d ever made. The only peace I got from the situation was knowing that Halfdan would have ended her if she’d been at my side when I returned to Europe.
She’d done well for herself and served Louisiana dutifully, but I’d missed her enough to have found frequent excuses to tend to some of my American holdings personally just as an excuse to visit her…
This time, I’d used touring some old properties I intended to liquidate as my reason to be in Shreveport. It was perfectly reasonable pretext. It wasn’t as though I was going to need them when I wasn’t ever going to escape my throne… and, of course, I needed to talk to her to make sure she wasn’t using any of them.
I’d managed to arrive in Shreveport just after midnight and as I walked into the lobby of The Palace, I noticed two things…
The first situation to stand out was the remarkable changes that had been made to the lobby. The last time I visited, there was such an explosion of color I joked that the valets should dress like clowns… The new interior design was simple, bright, textures replace patterns… the only clue to being in Pam’s Area was the dusky lavender ceiling that warmed the white and chrome fixtures.
The second item to be noticed was an old friend walking away… Storming was a more fitting term, but at least he thought to control his speed. If I hadn’t caught a glimpse of his mutton chops, he might have escaped my notice until a girl ran after him. She shouted his name several times before catching up to him and grabbed his arm. Ballsy. She was gorgeous, but it hadn’t ever been in Bubba’s nature to appreciate conventional pussy, so it was entertaining to see him allow a Human to paw at him.
“Damn it, Bubba, be nice.” He stopped walking, but when he didn’t turn around, she moved to face him. “Don’t be like this.” I turned my shoulder to wait for the reservation clerk… It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see Bubba again… I wanted to see Pam more.
He drawled, “It’s not right, Sookie. It’s mine.”
She huffed, “Technically, it’s Paul Anka’s.”
“You know what I mean.”
“You’re being stubborn. Where’s the sweet man I love to bits?”
“He’s ‘bout to whoop on that Guinea singer ya hired.”
“Oh, no, you’re not either! Am I gonna have to call Gran?” The conversation might have been close to setting a record for one of the strangest I’d ever heard. When I risked looking over my shoulder, the girl grabbed his face and pulled him down until they were nose to nose. She whispered sternly, “You are the King of Rock and Roll. You won so many awards you can play chess with them. You went Gold and Platinum so many times you can tile a pool with them. You’ve been dead for 25 years and your house still has more than half a million visitors every year. Let those pecker-head wannabes have that depressing ass funeral march. You’re a legend. You don’t need it.” The fact that she knew his real identity was no less surprising than the fact that she acknowledged he was a Vampire and she was still manhandling him.
I almost laughed when he grumbled, “But Sookie, I thought you liked My Way.”
“I love it… but… you know my favorites are happy songs. I’d rather dance than cry…” She sang, “Stop, look and listen, baby…”
There was a brief pause before he finished, “That’s my philosophy…” and kissed her forehead.
She hugged his neck and mumbled, “See… you don’t mind when I sing your stuff and I’m much worse than the Sinatra poser.”
“That’s ‘cuz yer my best girl.” Someone had been holding back a few things when I called. Having help taming Bubba should have made its way into conversation.
“You heading home for the night?”
He leaned over to kiss her cheek and walked away. “Yup… see ya t’morrow night.”
“You’re bringing Gran with you, right?”
He called back, “You bet. She never misses a show.”
With Bubba’s tantrum successfully defused, the girl walked in my direction to join the concierge behind the desk…
Long, confident strides in spite of her age (and tight skirt)… She barely looked old enough to be in a casino unchaperoned. Her attire was nothing if not proof she had some manner of relationship with Pam. The Balenciaga suit stood apart from the simple blazers the rest of the staff was milling around in.
While the concierge gave Sookie a status report, she removed her phone from the waist of her skirt to check her messages…
The curious little creature multi-tasked, texting and delegating… and the businessman checking in ahead of me finally left the counter…
The clerk greeted, “Welcome to The Palace. Do you have a reservation?”
I shook my head. “No. I need a king suite.”
“Yes sir. Your name?”
“William Thackeray.” Even if Sophie-Anne hadn’t proven how anxious my visits made her, I had no intention of making my arrival easy for Pam to notice.
She nodded and stared at the keyboard blankly for a moment before asking, “Would you mind spelling that for me, please?” Illiterate idiot.
By the time the clerk was finished asking the question, Bubba’s handler bumped her out of the way. “I’ll take care of this guest, Marie… How many nights do you expect to be staying at The Palace, Mr. Thackeray?”
“No less than four. No more than 14.”
She nodded and typed as though she already had all of the information a normal hotel registration would need. Before I preemptively reached for my wallet to provide a credit card, Sookie piqued my interest by walking out from behind the counter to take the handle of my suitcase. “If you’ll follow me, Mr. Thackeray, I’ll be happy to show you to your room.”
I wouldn’t have argued even if the view weren’t remarkable.
Sookie stood at the elevator panel with a sharply aligned back… it was a professional stiffness, rather than anxious.
Once the elevator doors closed behind us, I mentioned, “You’re new to the hotel since the last time I stayed here.”
She cut her eyes in my direction and smirked. “You should stay with us more often, sir. I’ve been at The Palace for over a year now.”
“How lucky for the owner.”
She nibbled the corner of her mouth before replying, “So she says… Would you like for me to arrange for room service, Mr. Thackeray?”
“Yes, thank you.”
“I’ll see to that immediately. So what brings you back to Shreveport? Business or pleasure?”
“Ah… well, if you need anything and you aren’t satisfied with the concierge’s competence, you can find me downstairs nearly every night. Just ask for Sookie, Sookie Stackhouse.”
“I might take you up on that. I could need help finding something to entertain me.”
“I’m sure I could help you find something to do. I recommend the Viva Lounge’s live entertainment. The performers fit into the new 50s theme of the hotel. We have Jimmy Dorsey, Elvis, Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and Rat Pack acts.” I was grateful Pam had become bored with the previous saloon theme. There was only so many can-cans one could sit through.
“Which do you recommend?”
“The Elvis impersonator is on point and I get chills every time I hear Patsy Cline rehearse…” She lifted her foot to take her first step a split second before the elevator doors opened again. “Right this way, Mr. Thackeray.”
If I didn’t know better, I’d swear her hips could hypnotize me.
I stood closer than I should have as she unlocked the door to my suite for me, trying to sample her scent… Seeing a Human completely at ease in the company of Vampires before our pending announcement was impressive and promising. If she was anything other than Human, her scent wasn’t giving me any clues. She smelled of citrus and vanilla…
After placing my key in my hand, she moved through my room like a breeze, taking my suitcase directly to the bedroom and lifting it to the settee at the foot of the bed.
Turning down my bed, taking the mint from the pillow, and dimming the light on the digital clock on the bedside table…
Pushing open the light blocking curtains in the sitting area to expose the view of the river…
I’d fed less than 14 hours ago and I was still tempted as she moved through my room, sweeping for quality control.
She stopped in front of me with her hands clasped behind her back. “Do you have any special requests, Mr. Thackeray?”
“Nothing regarding the room.” It was a fucking slip.
Rather than being offended, she offered a slight smirk. “At the risk of inviting a lapse in manners, sir, do you prefer a specific type?”
I bit my tongue to prevent another slip. “No. I’m indifferent.”
She nodded and stepped to the side to leave me. “Thank you, Mr. Thackeray. Your meal will arrive shortly.”
I managed to thank her before the door closed, but I was still left puzzled enough to stare at the door.
She’d been educated about Bubba and knew of the existence of Vampires… She sounded as though she was either Bubba’s keeper or his flat-mate.
I was almost sure Pam was keeping a prospective child to herself.
Based solely on first impressions, Sookie seemed suitable enough I’d consider it.
I managed to work through my musings, taking my laptop to the table while I pondered why Pam would have hired a Human to manage a Vampire owned hotel… The only logical explanation was Sookie was one of Pam’s pets.
I showered and put on a pair of lounge pants, knowing room service would arrive eventually, while my computer cycled through booting and accessing the hotel’s dial-up connection…
I’d just sat down to check my messages when there was a knock on the door.
As soon as I opened the door, Sookie’s eyebrows went up. I’d been expecting a waiter, not the curiosity that caused my imagination to take over.
I stepped out of the way so she could push a room service cart past me, and park it next to the table…
She silently removed the serving dome to reveal several bags of blood and take them to the mini-fridge, then return to squat next to the cart to remove a stack of towels and a gift basket to take it to the bathroom.
She was behaving like a trained servant, moving quietly without insisting on filling the silence with awkward small talk…
She finally stopped in front of me with her hands clasped behind her back again when she was done with her chores. “The carafe should keep your meal at body temperature for at least an hour. Right now you have two warm pints of AB- and your refrigerator has two more. The coffee pot in your kitchenette has a warming function if you fill the pot and sink the bags, the blood will be the right temperature in 15 minutes. If you aren’t familiar with the method, it preserves the flavor to an extent because it’s gentler than a microwave…”
She nodded. “On the cart, you’ll find two gris-gris bags. You simply need to smear a drop of your blood onto each one and pin them on either side of the door. Your room will be warded for you during the day.”
“Aren’t you thorough?”
“I try… Will you be needing anything else this evening, Mr. Thackeray.”
“I’m sure you know that isn’t my real name.”
She smirked again. “Of course not, your Majesty.”
“You know who I am?”
“Yes sir. I’ve heard all about you from the Sheriff.” I was too tempted to pull the pins out of her hair just to watch it fall over her shoulders to think about what Pam could have possibly said about me.
“Have you seen photos?”
“No sir. Your alias gave you away. I’ve heard you enjoy irony and literature… Satire, specifically Vanity Fair, is a particular favorite of mine. I keep a collection of books downstairs at guest services if you’re interested.”
“Am I to assume you share shopping as a common ground with your Master then?” Yes, I was fishing to find out if she belonged to Pam. Sookie wasn’t Pam’s ‘type’… if she was, she would have offered movies from the ‘Disney vault’.
“No sir. She says she has nightmares about my off-hours attire… The Sheriff will be here shortly. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“You’ve told her I’m here, yes?”
She nodded. “I called her while I prepared your meal. She was on an errand…” Then there didn’t seem to be a point to blocking our bond any longer… When it came back to me, I felt a bizarre unease coming from Pam.
“Then I’ll dress and wait for her in her apartment.” I wasn’t going to wait to find out why my arrival would cause anxiety for her when she’d always been pleased for me to visit.
She nodded and started for the door. “Yes, sir. I’ll wait in the hall so I can let you in.”
I rushed through dressing in a clean outfit and all but guzzled the blood Sookie delivered. When I opened the door to my room, Sookie was waiting.
She was leaning against the wall facing me with one leg crossed over the other at the ankle… Without a word, she pushed herself away from the wall and led the way towards the elevator.
As I followed her, all I could think was it had to be an act. A façade. Pam kept mindless pets. Pets she could be relaxed, if not foolish, with.
Sookie was an interesting little mystery I couldn’t wait to expose.
When we stepped into the elevator, Sookie pressed the button for the penthouse level even though Pam had been staying on one of the lower floors the last few times I’d visited.
“The hotel recently underwent some renovations in preparation for The Revelation, your Majesty. She moved to one of the penthouse suites because the bedrooms are light and sound proof.”
“Is that where you sleep when you stay with her?”
“I don’t get a lot of sleep when I stay.” Fuck. Her answer was so dry, I couldn’t decide if her lack of sleep was because of their sex life or Sookie’s job…
“What exactly do you do?” Dutiful assistant or well trained lover?
“You close your eyes and relax. Everything else happens naturally.”
I chuckled, impressed she kept a straight face. “I meant your position here at the hotel.”
“Officially, I’m the ‘Services Liaison’. Unofficially, I micromanage the different department heads and make sure certain clientele, such as ones with special needs, are taken care of.”
“Such as seeing to room service for Vampire guests, and soothing moody musicians, yes?”
“Among other things, yes sir…” When the elevator door opened, she led the way again.
She stopped at the first door along the hallway to unlock it. She stepped inside and waited to close the door behind us…
As she guided me to the large living room, she apologetically offered, “Please make yourself at home…” The suite was actually more of an impressive loft… I doubted the renovations had been identical in the other units. From what I could tell, Pam’s unit used nearly half of the top floor of The Palace.
“You aren’t staying to keep me company?”
“I wouldn’t want to intrude on your visit, sir.”
I motioned to the sofa as I sat down. “There isn’t a visit to intrude upon yet… Stay. Please, I’m curious as to what Pam’s been up to in my absence.” Since she’d clearly omitted the more interesting details.
Sookie sat on the arm of the club chair across from me and draped one leg over the other instead of taking the invitation to join me on the sofa. “I wouldn’t dream of speaking out of turn, sir. I’m sure you understand.”
I nodded, impressed with how delicately she’d avoided the topic. “Then tell me how long you’ve known Bubba. I haven’t seen him since I left the states. What has he been up to?”
She grinned slightly and offered, “I met him shortly before I came to work for the Sheriff. He’s a sweetheart… My grandmother is a bit of a night owl so she considers him to be the best roommate ever. They’re the best of friends.”
“Does your grandmother know he’s a Vampire?”
She nodded. “Of course she does.”
“And how did you come to work for Pam?”
“Well, I’m the youngest and my brothers brought me to the casino to celebrate my 21st birthday…”
“Your brothers thought you’d enjoy a gambling house?”
“They knew I would. They helped me burn my fake ID before we left so I could use my real one… just like they did on their 21st birthdays. Nothing made us happier than a deck of cards when we were growing up. We could play for hours… We liked playing cards so much we all went to school at UNLV.”
“And you ran into Pam, yes?”
She nodded. “My brothers were locked into high rollers’ games, so I wandered to the bar to wait for them. The Sheriff introduced herself…” She trailed off and looked towards the door, making me wonder enough to concentrate on Pam…
Fuck… Pam was on the elevator.
It wasn’t enough that it seemed like Pam and Sookie were a couple, but it seemed like they were bonded too…
There went any ideas I might have had for entertainment in Shreveport.
Sookie made the motion to stand, but stopped for some reason… concentrating on the entryway until the door opened.
I stood to greet Pam, taking a moment to rue the completely unavailable cleavage… If Sookie belonged to any other Vampire, all bets would be off.
By the time I pried my eyes away from Pam’s pet, I had another astonishing sight.
Pam was standing in front of me with two men…
Her jeans looked like she’d been attacked with a knife and a belt sander. Her shoes were black high-top, canvas basketball shoes. Her shirt was fishnet over a latex tube-top and…
Her hair and makeup… a sloppy ponytail and enough eyeliner to look like a psychotic raccoon.
She’d frozen in her tracks while her companions (in similarly ridiculous clothing) continued rolling towards Sookie and me on skateboards.
One of the men sucked his teeth and offered nothing more than, “Wow.”
The other pointed at Sookie, “Take your top off, Sook…” He grabbed Pam and slung her over his shoulder, running to the other side of the apartment. “He’ll forget he saw this.” It was possible. I was willing to try the technique.
Pam was still speechless… and more embarrassed by the second. She wasn’t expecting for me to see her like that.
The remaining man took a beer from the refrigerator behind the bar and approached Sookie. Without warning, he shoved her back and sat on her legs, lifting her feet to remove her Louboutins.
“Stubborn bitch. You got off three hours ago.”
She was already trying to push him off when he leaned back, reaching behind himself to retrieve her cell phone, removed the battery and tossed the pieces to the sofa next to me.
“Why are you still in manager mode?”
“Because I had to mediate between Fake Sinatra and Bubba. I was just finishing up when I… Screw you… I’ll tell you when you get off me!”
He twisted the top from his drink and sipped before he shook his head. “Naw. I’m good. I already know…”
Sookie punched his ribs but when he didn’t seem to care, she began swinging lower to try to reach his dick. That was enough to inspire his departure.
When the man left Sookie’s lap, she shook her head and watched him walk away before turning back to me. “I’m sorry about him… I’m going to go get into something comfortable…”
Pam shouted from wherever she was changing to correct Sookie. “Atrocious!”
Sookie huffed and nodded. “That too. I’ll be right back.”
Once I didn’t have Sookie’s ass to watch anymore, I was left in the large room with the nameless man…
He dialed his phone, ordered two steak dinners and a sandwich, yanked his T-shirt over his head (exposing some impressive scratches down his back) and made another call. “Kevin. Table 8. Fake Rolex and a pinky ring. Call Sweringer. He’s blackballed. Keep his chips so we can apply them to whatever markers he’s got.”
The man answered with a simple ‘on it’.
Nevermind that he looked like a skateboarding throwback, he was giving orders as though he worked at the casino.
I had no fucking clue what was going on… And I wasn’t getting any hints from Pam either.
The STILL nameless man excused himself to take a shower, passing Sookie as she emerged from the hallway. Her tank top was tight enough to show every contour of her body and short enough to expose her belly button. Her shorts could have been marketed as panties. And striped knees socks. Pam could complain about Sookie’s clothing all night long if she wanted… I probably wouldn’t notice.
She went behind the bar to take a soda and leaned on the counter to sip from it.
“She’ll be right out. She’s having a hard time getting her makeup off and leaving the skin where it is. She lost a bet so the guys took her to Massive Attack concert in ‘full costume’.” That explained something at least.
I nodded. “I should have thought of English techno as a punishment years ago.”
She smirked and took another sip of her drink… tilting her chin up to show her neck as she swallowed. “The one thing I still haven’t gotten used to when it comes to keeping company with Vampires… I automatically want to offer drinks when I get one for myself.”
“You could still offer.” Fuck. Slip.
She blushed. “You’ve got all the good stuff in your room. Nothing but plain ole O neg upstairs…”
Pam joined Sookie behind the bar looking much more like herself in designer jeans and a silk blouse. She swatted Sookie’s hip and cooed, “Don’t sell yourself short, darling. You taste spectacular…” She reached up to take the pins out of Sookie’s hair and ran her fingers through it…
Sookie’s eyes rolled back and she groaned, leaning against Pam… rubbing and purring like a cat. Yes, it was playful… an exaggerated response to having her hair toyed with… but it was still evocative. I thought to do it first.
Pam continued to smooth Sookie’s hair and asked, “How was business while I was surrounded by sobbing emos?”
Sookie cooed, “Same old, same old… princesses with fangs, thugs with fur, dating drama in accounting, and retarded Humans with ‘foolproof’ card counting methods… I swear to God, Pam, I’m going to DeBeers tomorrow morning to buy myself the biggest bridal monstrosity I can find. Those seniors’ groups… they need help with the damn Keno board, but they can see I’m not wearing a ring from a tour bus away. If one more old biddy tries to pimp their grandson to me, I’m going to snap.”
Pam laughed, “It’s a free dating service.”
“Not funny… I’m so far past thinking it’s cute…” She changed her tone to sound decrepit for her impersonation. “He’s a sweet boy and he’s a student at Whothefuckcares U… or he’s the assistant manager is charge of under-appreciation at Slacker Enterprises… and you’re so pretty. Pretty babies, you’d make together…” I wasn’t the only one struggling to keep from laughing. Pam was biting her lip. “But I smile at the blue haired, Yoda yentas instead of telling them their grandsons are single because they’re fugly, simpleton losers… Alcide complained about the pressure he gets from his pack to breed… When he finally saw it for himself, he told me I won.”
“What’s your prize?”
“Apparently, it’s not the vial of digitalis I want so I can slip it into their diet sodas…”
“Do you fault them for wanting grandchildren?”
“No. I fault them for using their age as an excuse to mention that I have ‘breeding hips’ and ‘ample bosoms’ in mixed company. No manners, I swear. I’ve tried telling them I’m a lesbian, I only date fill-in-the-blank, I’m sterile, I’m a man…”
Pam snorted, “I’m sorry. You’re making this funny.”
“Give me a handsy Were. I’ll take those all night long.”
Pam snorted again. “You should have that printed on your business cards.”
Sookie continued, “Or frisky Vampires. I can handle them too…”
“Shhhh… you could start a riot.” I’d get in line.
“But I can’t bring myself to punch one of those… those… raisins.”
“That’s it. I’m making the executive decision to change the subject before I laugh my ass off… You dealt with the Battle of the My Way?”
Sookie closed her eyes to lean over the bar. “Yeah… since Sinatra recorded it first, I gave it to the imposters.”
“Even though Bubba actually recorded it?”
“I hate his version of the song, okay?”
“Because he recorded it right before he died… it’s like a damn suicide note.”
Pam snorted, “You weren’t even born yet.”
“I grew up listening to him. I might know more about Elvis than Bubba does…”
“Fair enough… Have I pet you enough or are you going to dig your claws in if I try to stop?”
Sookie’s eyebrow pitched just before she stood up to rub her cheek against Pam’s… and then she licked it. “Kitty’s happy. Thank you.”
I tried telling myself they seemed like a ‘cute couple’… but that didn’t last long.
Pam smirked and told Sookie, “You need dick.”
Sookie kissed Pam’s cheek and walked towards the back. “A mile of it…” Was she taking volunteers? “I’m gonna babysit the boys while you visit.”
I finally took my eyes off of Sookie’s ass when Pam flopped down next to me.
“I’d ask ‘what’s new’, but I already have an idea.”
“I told you the last time you visited I was thinking about a taking a partner. The hotel and casino were too much on top of the Sheriff gig. Things run more smoothly now that they’re…”
“Sookie is your business partner?”
“She’s much more than a business partner… So what excuse do you have for being in Shreveport this time?”
“Liquidating old properties. It’s not as though I need a dozen safe houses in an Area I only visit once every couple of years. I’m going to tour them while I’m here to approve updates and put them on the market.”
“What about the house on the lake?”
I shook my head. “I always liked that one. I was going to keep it.”
“Good. It’s occupied.”
“The Stackhouses. I assumed you’d sell it eventually since you stay with me when you visit.”
“And Bubba, yes?”
“Yeah. He uses your old safe room. The family moved from their tiny town in the sticks… They all have a hand in The Palace in one way or another.”
“That is definitely new… You’ve always kept several pets at a time… Keeping an entire family is an interesting development.”
“They all have their strengths. They have my protection and I have their help. It’s all very copacetic.”
“Those men… they’re related?”
“Oh shit… you didn’t get introduced. Yes… those are Sookie’s brothers. Jason and Brandon Stackhouse run the casino.”
“And Sookie specializes in ‘guest services’… what of the other Stackhouses?”
“Sookie shares the responsibility with one of her cousins. Her parents and aunt run the restaurants…”
I shook my head and snorted, “And how many of them are you fucking?”
She raised an eyebrow. “Just one…” Of course she was. Why wouldn’t she be fucking the only one I was interested in? I should have just been pleased that Pam’s taste finally seemed to improve. “So, how goes the Kingdom?”
“It runs itself. It’s infuriatingly boring. Klaasje enjoys my little vacations to visit you. Tending to affairs while I’m gone gives her the chance to…”
Pam tried to finish my statement, “Suck up by being a good little girl.”
“I didn’t say that.”
Pam snorted, “You didn’t correct me either.”
I shook my head. “No… I didn’t.” Klaasje, while an apple polisher, was the easiest breed to tolerate. She kissed my ass out of appreciation rather than fear.
“Some things never change.”
“Some things do… I’m curious. What would you be doing right now if I hadn’t surprised you?”
She shrugged. “Fucking my brains out and feeding on a delicious vintage from Stackhouse Farms, I suppose.” Rubbing it in? Really?
“And how is it that you’ve failed to mention your new pet? I think we’ve talked enough that the topic should have come up.”
She shrugged again. “You’ve never been terribly interested in my pets in the past. You’d have made fun if I mentioned it… let alone that I’m fucking a business partner.” She took the pieces of Sookie’s phone from the sofa cushion and reassembled it.
“More than a year… and you don’t mention being bonded to someone?”
She huffed, “Noticed that, did you?” How could I not? She reclined slightly and offered, “I couldn’t help myself.”
“Are you thinking about becoming a Maker?”
She hesitated, but she eventually nodded. “We aren’t sure yet. We’ve only been together a little over a year. It isn’t out of the question for one of us to get bored and want to move on…”
As she seemed to be scrolling through Sookie’s messages, Sookie ran into the living room quietly, looking more like she was cross-country skiing thanks to her knee socks… How Pam thought she could become bored with a bounce that perfect was beyond me.
Sookie offered a smile on her way to the door and opened it long before the waiter came into view with the room service cart. She looked over the cart carefully, lifting domes to make sure the order was correct and instructed the waiter to ‘toss the parsley and use mint instead’ because it had wilted.
She pushed the cart to the bar to add several drinks and as she worked, Pam asked, “Sookie… what’s this from Hadley?” Pam was suddenly feeling unhappy and protective.
“Not just one. Five. They’re all about the same thing.” Uh oh.
“Don’t worry. I can’t help it that I’m…”
“You spent a lot of time with Isabel while she was here.”
“And she sent roses when she got back to Dallas… even invited me to visit for a week.”
“Sookie.” Again, uh oh. Trouble in paradise?
“Sheriff, it was business related. I haven’t given her an answer yet.”
“If it’s business related, then why haven’t you accepted?”
“I’m stalling because Isabel is calling about business… but Stan Davis is calling because he’s interested in me.”
“I told you, you were flirting.”
“I wasn’t flirting. I. Don’t. Flirt.”
“My pale ass. You flirt constantly.”
“Being too vain to hide under a shroud and too pragmatic to tell customers to fuck themselves does not constitute flirting… I don’t flirt. You’re getting me confused with the other Stackhouses.”
Pam huffed, “Eric, she flirted with you, didn’t she?” Not nearly enough.
“Don’t drag me into your quarrel.”
“She did… See. Sookie, you flirt.”
Sookie pushed her breasts together and up to her chin. “You’re the one who keeps buying suits for me that showcase the girls…” She dropped her hands and began pushing the cart towards the other end of the apartment. I wasn’t sure what room she was going to, but I had the unshakable mental image of her sprawled on a fur rug… I accepted that. She called back to Pam, “Stan’s interest will blow over… Jason, Brandon, you were around. Did I flirt with Stan Davis?”
One of them answered, “Other than letting him motor-boat your tits?”
“Fuck you, Jason. That wasn’t a motor boat. He pretended to trip as an excuse to smell me.” A Sheriff ‘tripped’? Amateur.
The other man offered, “And we’re ignoring the way you gave him a personal tour of the hotel, right?”
The brothers started laughing and a moment later, Sookie stormed out of the hallway with a plate in her hand. She stomped past me and held her hand out, silently demanding that Pam return her phone.
As she placed the cell in Sookie’s hand, she offered, “I worry, Sookie. It’s my job. You have his attention.”
“You’re leaving? Don’t be like this, Sookie.”
Sookie turned to look at me. “At the risk of being accused of flirting, your room is across from mine if you need anything. It was a pleasure to meet you.”
No sooner than the door slammed closed behind her, the man with scratches on his back ran through the room after her in nothing but a pair of athletic shorts. He grumbled, “Nice going. She’s so pissed she’s locked me out.” Locked him out of what?
“Brandon, did you know?” At least I finally knew which was which.
“Know what? That Davis groped her every chance he got after he caught her scent? Yeah… She didn’t say anything to you so the visit could stay civil. She’s got her fucking head in the game, Pam. You don’t have to worry about her.”
He didn’t answer her as he left.
I chuckled at Pam. “I told you your obsession with reality shows was out of hand. I think your enjoyment of melodrama has gone too far.”
“You can’t tell me you wouldn’t be concerned. Another Sheriff in another kingdom has his sights set on her. It’s not likely he’ll forget her.”
“Granted, but I doubt he’d risk poaching charges. There were women in Texas last time I checked.”
“Not like Sookie.” She meant that with every fiber of her being.
“I’m sure they have pretty blondes with D-cups somewhere in Davis’s Area.”
“She isn’t just tits and DSLs, Eric.” Oh, it was definitely time to make fun of her.
I pouted my lip and teased, “Of course she isn’t… I don’t mind if you go after her. Far be it from me to be the reason you let things fester between you.”
Pam narrowed her eyes and stood up. “I know we just talked a couple of weeks ago, but I haven’t seen you in two years. Don’t be an asshole so quickly…”
She only made one step towards the door before the other man (Jason, by process of elimination) piped up from the other room. “Bran’s got it, Pammy. No worries. Do your visiting. Sook’s pissed at us anyway. She knew you were just worried ‘cuz you didn’t know what all happened. We were the ones who made fun.” Pammy?
Pam answered without raising her voice. “Shouldn’t you be apologizing too then?”
He chuckled, “I got mine in before she locked down, sweetness. Like I said, no worries. Bran’s already on his way back.” Sweetness?
“Are you going to tell me how bad?”
He answered, “No worse than usual, but Stan being a Sherriff in Texas means she’d have to go to the King to complain. Politics with Arkansas and Nevada being the way they are, she doesn’t want to risk going to Milne if Sophie-Anne needs allies.”
Pam tossed herself onto the sofa again and huffed. “Fuck me. I should have known better…”
I shook my head and chuckled as I stood, “This has all been very illuminating. I’m going to go back to my room, where it’s very quiet, and tend to some business matters. I need to check for updates from my Lords. With The Revelation coming so soon, I’m getting more and more questions.”
Pam stood to follow me. “Thank God for cells and email… can you imagine having to receive subjects all night long?”
“I was excited enough over my first pager. I was actually able to leave my office occasionally. You’re going downstairs regardless of Jason’s input?” How sweet.
“She was justified to keep it from me while Davis was here, but once he was gone diplomacy went out the window. I don’t like that she kept that from me.” Oh. Excellent excuse.
I nodded and offered, “Reasonable.”
“And other than you, she’s the best friend I’ve ever had.”
I was fighting the urge to make a joke about ‘besties’ when the elevator slowed as it reached the penthouse level.
Brandon smiled as he stepped out to put his hands on Pam’s shoulders and kiss her cheek. “She’s already chilled out. When I left the water was running so she could take a bath with Thackeray.” Taking his comment literally, I was running late for more promising activities.
Pam rolled her eyes. “Her and her books. I swear, sometimes it’s like having my Maker in miniature. Business, politics and books… Alright. I’ll wait to talk to her tomorrow night.”
Brandon snorted, “Damn. That was easy… Let’s go. My steak’s getting cold and… I still have trolling to do if I’m going to get laid tonight.”
Pam grinned in my direction. “Listen for drowning noises?”
I nodded and stepped into the elevator. “Goodnight.”