Home > Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1)(15)

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1)(15)
Author: Charlaine Harris

As we were about to go out the door, I remembered the bartender, Long Shadow, had answered my questions willingly, so I turned and jabbed my finger in the direction of the door, unmistakably telling him to leave. He looked as alarmed as a vampire can look, and as Bill yanked me through the double doors, he was throwing down his towel.

Outside, Eric was waiting outside by his car - a Corvette, naturally.

"There's going to be a raid," Bill said.

"How do you know?"

Bill stuck on that one.

"Me," I said, getting him off the hook.

Eric's wide blue eyes shone even in the gloom of the parking lot. I was going to have to explain.

"I read a policeman's mind," I muttered. I snuck a look to see how Eric was taking this, and he was staring at me the same way the Monroe vampires had. Thoughtful. Hungry.

"That's interesting," he said. "I had a psychic once. It was incredible."

"Did the psychic think so?" My voice was tarter than I'd meant it to be.

I could hear Bill's indrawn breath.

Eric laughed. "For a while," he answered ambiguously.

We heard sirens in the distance, and without further words Eric and the bouncer slid into his car and were gone into the night, the car seeming quieter than others' cars, somehow. Bill and I buckled up hastily, and we were leaving the parking lot by one exit just as the police were coming in by another. They had their vampire van with them, a special prisoner transport with silver bars. It was driven by two cops who were of the fanged persuasion, and they sprang out of their van and reached the club door with a speed that rendered them just blurs on my human vision.

We had driven a few blocks when suddenly Bill pulled into the parking lot of yet another darkened strip mall.

"What - ?" I began, but got no further. Bill had unclipped my seat belt, moved the seat back, and grabbed me before I had finished my sentence. Frightened that he was angry, I pushed against him at first, but I might as well have been heaving against a tree. Then his mouth located mine, and I knew what he was.

Oh, boy, could he kiss. We might have problems communicating on some levels, but this wasn't one of them. We had a great time for maybe five minutes. I felt all the right things moving through my body in waves. Despite the awkwardness of being in the front seat of a car, I managed to be comfortable, mostly because he was so strong and considerate. I nipped his skin with my teeth. He made a sound like a growl.

"Sookie!" His voice was ragged.

I moved away from him, maybe half an inch.

"If you do that any more I'll have you whether you want to be had or not," he said, and I could tell he meant it.

"You don't want to," I said finally, trying not to make it a question.

"Oh, yes, I want to," and he grabbed my hand and showed me.

Suddenly, there was a bright rotating light beside us.

"The police," I said. I could see a figure get out of the patrol car and start toward Bill's window. "Don't let him know you're a vampire, Bill," I said hastily, fearing fallout from the Fangtasia raid. Though most police forces loved having vampires join them on the job, there was a lot of prejudice against vampires on the street, especially as part of a mixed couple.

The policeman's heavy hand rapped on the window.

Bill turned on the motor, hit the button that lowered the window. But he was silent, and I realized his fangs had not retracted. If he opened his mouth, it would be really obvious he was a vampire.

"Hello, officer," I said.

"Good evening," the man said, politely enough. He bent to look in the window. "You two know all the shops here are closed, right?"

"Yes, sir."

"Now, I can tell you been messing around a little, and I got nothing against that, but you two need to go home and do this kind of thing."

"We will." I nodded eagerly, and Bill managed a stiff inclination of his head.

"We're raiding a bar a few blocks back," the patrolman said casually. I could see only a little of his face, but he seemed burly and middle-aged. "You two coming from there, by any chance?"

"No," I said.

"Vampire bar," the cop remarked.

"Nope. Not us."

"Let me just shine this light on your neck, miss, if you don't mind."

"Not at all."

And by golly, he shone that old flashlight on my neck and then on Bill's.

"Okay, just checking. You two move on now."

"Yes, we will."

Bill's nod was even more curt. While the patrolman waited, I slid back over to my side and clipped my seat belt, and Bill put the car in gear and backed up.

Bill was just infuriated. All the way home he kept a sullen (I guess) silence, whereas I was inclined to view the whole thing as funny.

I was cheerful at finding Bill wasn't indifferent to my personal attractions, such as they were. I began to hope that someday he would want to kiss me again, maybe longer and harder, and maybe even - we could go further? I was trying not to get my hopes up. Actually, there was a thing or two that Bill didn't know about me, that no one knew, and I was very careful to try to keep my expectations modest.

When he got me back to Gran's, he came around and opened my door, which made me raise my eyebrows; but I am not one to stop a courteous act. I assumed Bill did realize I had functioning arms and the mental ability to figure out the door-opening mechanism. When I stepped out, he backed up.

I was hurt. He didn't want to kiss me again; he was regretting our earlier episode. Probably pining after that damn Pam. Or maybe even Long Shadow. I was beginning to see that the ability to have sex for several centuries leaves room for lots of experimentation. Would a telepath be so bad to add to his list?

I kind of hunched my shoulders together and wrapped my arms across my chest.

"Are you cold?" Bill asked instantly, putting his arm around me. But it was the physical equivalent of a coat, he seemed to be trying to stay as far away from me as the arm made possible.

"I am sorry I have pestered you. I won't ask you for any more," I said, keeping my voice even. Even as I spoke I realized that Gran hadn't set up a date for Bill to speak to the Descendants, but she and Bill would just have to work that out.

He stood still. Finally he said, "You - are - incredibly - naive." And he didn't even add that codicil about shrewdness, like he had earlier.

"Well," I said blankly. "I am?"

"Or maybe one of God's fools," he said, and that sounded a lot less pleasant, like Quasimodo or something.

"I guess," I said tartly, "you'll just have to find out."

"It had better be me that finds out," he said darkly, which I didn't understand at all. He walked me up to the door, and I was sure hoping for another kiss, but he gave me a little peck on the forehead. "Good night, Sookie," he whispered.

I rested my cheek against his for a moment. "Thanks for taking me," I said, and moved away quickly before he thought I was asking for something else. "I'm not calling you again." And before I could lose my determination, I slipped into the dark house and shut the door in Bill's face.

Chapter 5

I CERTAINLY HAD a lot to think about the next couple of days. For someone who was always hoarding new things to keep from being bored, I'd stored enough up to last me for weeks. The people in Fangtasia, alone, were food for examination, to say nothing of the vampires. From longing to meet one vampire, now I'd met more than I cared to know.

A lot of men from Bon Temps and the surrounding area had been called in to the police station to answer a few questions about Dawn Green and her habits. Embarrassingly enough, Detective Bellefleur took to hanging around the bar on his off-hours, never drinking more alcohol than one beer, but observing everything that took place around him. Since Merlotte's was not exactly a hotbed of illegal activity, no one minded too much once they got used to Andy being there.

He always seemed to pick a table in my section. And he began to play a silent game with me. When I came to his table, he'd be thinking something provocative, trying to get me to say something. He didn't seem to understand how indecent that was. The provocation was the point, not the insult. He just wanted me to read his mind again. I couldn't figure out why.

Then, maybe the fifth or sixth time I had to get him something, I guess it was a Diet Coke, he pictured me cavorting with my brother. I was so nervous when I went to the table (knowing to expect something, but not knowing exactly what) that I was beyond getting angry and into the realm of tears. It reminded me of the less sophisticated tormenting I'd taken when I was in grade school.

Andy had looked up with an expectant face, and when he saw tears an amazing range of things ran across his face in quick succession: triumph, chagrin, then scalding shame.

I poured the damn coke down his shirt.

I walked right past the bar and out the back door.

"What's the matter?" Sam asked sharply. He was right on my heels.

I shook my head, not wanting to explain, and pulled an aging tissue out of my shorts pocket to mop my eyes with.

"Has he been saying ugly things to you?" Sam asked, his voice lower and angrier.

"He's been thinking them," I said helplessly, "to get a rise out of me. He knows."

"Son of a bitch," Sam said, which almost shocked me back to normal. Sam didn't curse.

Once I started crying, it seemed like I couldn't stop. I was getting my crying time done for a number of little unhappinesses.

"Just go on back in," I said, embarrassed at my waterworks. "I'll be okay in just a minute."

I heard the back door of the bar open and shut. I figured Sam had taken me at my word. But instead, Andy Bellefleur said, "I apologize, Sookie."

"That's Miss Stackhouse to you, Andy Bellefleur," I said. "It seems to me like you better be out finding who killed Maudette and Dawn instead of playing nasty mind games with me."

I turned around and looked at the policeman. He was looking horribly embarrassed. I thought he was sincere in his shame.

Sam was swinging his arms, full of the energy of anger.

"Bellefleur, sit in someone else's area if you come back," he said, but his voice held a lot of suppressed violence.

Andy looked at Sam. He was twice as thick in the body, taller by two inches. But I would have put my money on Sam at that moment, and it seemed Andy didn't want to risk the challenge either, if only from good sense. He just nodded and walked across the parking lot to his car. The sun glinted on the blond highlights in his brown hair.

"Sookie, I'm sorry," Sam said.

"Not your fault."

"Do you want to take some time off? We're not so busy today."

"Nope. I'll finish my shift." Charlsie Tooten was getting into the swing of things, but I wouldn't feel good about leaving. It was Arlene's day off.

We went back into the bar, and though several people looked at us curiously as we entered, no one asked us what had happened. There was only one couple sitting in my area, and they were busy eating and had glasses full of liquid, so they wouldn't be needing me. I began putting up wine-glasses. Sam leaned against the workspace beside me.

"Is it true that Bill Compton is going to speak to the Descendants of the Glorious Dead tonight?"

"According to my grandmother."

"Are you going?"

"I hadn't planned on it." I didn't want to see Bill until he called me and made an appointment to see me.

Sam didn't say anything else then, but later in the afternoon, as I was retrieving my purse from his office, he came in and fiddled with some papers on his desk. I'd pulled out my brush and was trying to get a tangle out of my ponytail. From the way Sam dithered around, it seemed apparent that he wanted to talk to me, and I felt a wave of exasperation at the indirection men seemed to take.

Like Andy Bellefleur. He could just have asked me about my disability, instead of playing games with me.

Like Bill. He could just have stated his intentions, instead of this strange hot-cold thing.

"So?" I said, more sharply than I'd intended.

He flushed under my gaze.

"I wondered if you'd like to go to the Descendants meeting with me and have a cup of coffee afterward."

I was flabbergasted. My brush stopped in midswoop. A number of things ran through my mind, the feel of his hand when I'd held it in front of Dawn Green's duplex, the wall I'd met in his mind, the unwisdom of dating your boss.

"Sure," I said, after a notable pause.

He seemed to exhale. "Good. Then I'll pick you up at your house at seven-twenty or so. The meeting starts at seven-thirty."

"Okay. I'll see you then."

Afraid I'd do something peculiar if I stayed longer, I grabbed my purse and strode out to my car. I couldn't decide whether to giggle with glee or groan at my own idiocy.

It was five-forty-five by the time I got home. Gran already had supper on the table since she had to leave early to carry refreshments to the Descendants meeting, which was held at the Community Building.

"Wonder if he could have come if we'd had it in the fellowship hall of Good Faith Baptist?" Gran said out of the blue. But I didn't have a problem latching on to her train of thought.

"Oh, I think so," I said. "I think that idea about vampires being scared of religious items isn't true. But I haven't asked him."

"They do have a big cross hung up in there," Gran went on.

"I'll be at the meeting after all," I said. "I'm going with Sam Merlotte."

"Your boss, Sam?" Gran was very surprised.

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