Home > Dead in the Family (Sookie Stackhouse #10)(10)

Dead in the Family (Sookie Stackhouse #10)(10)
Author: Charlaine Harris

There was a significant pause while Eric and Pam considered my question.

"I think Victor will do his best not to openly cause you harm, until and if he decides to try to become king in his own right," Pam said. "If Victor decides to make a grab for the kingship, all promises made by Felipe are so many words without meaning." Eric nodded in agreement.

"That's just great." I probably sounded petulant and selfish, because that was the way I felt.

"This is all assuming we don't find a way to kill him first," Pam said quietly. And we were all silent for a long moment. There was something that creeped me out, no matter how much I agreed that Victor should die, about the three of us talking about murdering him.

"And you think this Heidi, who's supposed to be such a great tracker, is here in Shreveport to be Victor's eyes and ears?" I said briskly, trying to throw off the chill that had fallen on me.

"Yes," said Pam. "Unless she's here to be Felipe's eyes and ears, so Felipe can keep track of what Victor is doing in Louisiana." She had that ominous look on her face, the one that said she was going to get her vampire game on. You did not want Pam to look that way when your name entered the conversation. If I were Heidi, I would take care to keep my nose clean.

"Heidi," which conjured up braids and full skirts in my imagination, seemed like a very perky name for a vampire.

"So what should I do about the Long Tooth pack's warning?" I said, to bring the discussion back to the original problem. "You're going to send Heidi to my place to try to track the fairy? I have to tell you something else. Basim scented a body, not a fresh one, buried very deep at the back of my property."

"Oh," Eric said. "Whoops." Eric turned to Pam. "Give us some alone time."

She nodded and went out through the kitchen. I heard the back door shut.

Eric said, "I'm sorry, my lover. Unless you've buried someone else on your property and kept it from me, that body is Debbie Pelt's."

That was what I'd been afraid of. "Is the car back there, too?"

"No, the car is sunk in a pond about ten miles south of your place."

That was a relief. "Well, at least it was a werewolf who found it," I said. "I guess we don't have to worry about it, unless Alcide can identify her scent. They won't go digging the body up. It's none of their doings." Debbie had been Alcide's ex-girlfriend when I'd had the misfortune to meet her. I don't want to drag out the story, but she'd tried to kill me first. It took me a while, but I'm over the angst of her death. Eric had been with me that night, but he hadn't been in his right mind. And that's yet another story.

"Come here," Eric said. His face held my very favorite expression, and I was doubly glad to see it because I didn't want to think too much about Debbie Pelt.

"Hmmm. What will you give me if I do?" I gave him a questioning eye.

"I think you know very well what I will give you. I think you love me to give it to you."

"So ... you don't enjoy it at all?"

Before I could blink he was on his knees in front of me, pushing my legs apart, leaning in to kiss me. "I think you know how I feel," he said, in a whisper. "We are bonded. Can you believe I'm not thinking of you while I work? When my eyes open, I think of you, of every part of you." His fingers got busy, and I gasped. This was direct, even for Eric. "Do you love me?" he asked, his eyes fi xing mine.

This was a little difficult to answer, especially considering what his fingers were doing. "I love being with you, whether we're ha**ng s*x or not. Oh, God, do that again! I love your body. I love what we do together. You make me laugh, and I love that. I like to watch you do anything." I kissed him, long and lingeringly. "I like to watch you get dressed. I like to watch you undress. I like to watch your hands when you're doing this to me. Oh!" I shuddered all over with pleasure. When I'd had a moment of recovery, I murmured, "If I asked you the same question, what would your answer be?"

"I would say exactly the same thing," Eric said. "And I think that means I love you. If this is not true love, it's as close as anyone gets. Can you see what you've done to me?" He didn't really have to point. It was pretty damn obvious.

"That looks painful. Would you like me to nurse it?" I asked, in the coolest voice I could manage.

In reply, he simply growled. We switched places in an instant. I knelt in front of Eric, and his hands rested on my head, stroking. Eric was a sizable guy, and this was a part of our sex life that I'd had to work on. But I thought I was getting pretty good at it, and he seemed to agree. His hands tightened in my hair after a minute or two, and I made a little noise of protest. He let go and gripped the couch instead. He growled, deep in his throat. "Faster," he said. "Now, now!" He shut his eyes and his head fell back, his hands opening and closing spasmodically. I loved having that power over him; that was another thing I loved. Suddenly, he said something in an ancient language, and his back arched, and I moved with increased purpose, swallowing down everything he gave me.

And all this with most of our clothes on. "Was that enough love for you?" he asked, his voice slow and dreamy.

I climbed into his lap and wound my arms around his neck for an interlude of cuddling. Now that I had recovered my pleasure in sex, I felt limp as a dishrag after a session with Eric; but this was my favorite part, though it made me feel very "women's magazine" to admit it.

As we sat holding each other, Eric told me about a conversation he'd had with a fangbanger at the bar, and we laughed about it. I told him about how torn up Hummingbird Road was while the parish was patching it. I suppose this is the kind of thing you talk about with someone you love; you figure they'll care about trivial topics, since those things are important to you.

Unfortunately, I knew that Eric had more business to get through that night, so I told him I'd go back to Bon Temps with Pam. Sometimes I stayed at his place, reading while he worked. It's not easy to arrange alone time with a leader and businessman who's awake only during the hours of darkness.

He gave me a kiss to remember him by. "I'll send Heidi to you, probably night after next," he said. "She'll verify what Basim says he smelled in the woods. Let me know if you hear from Alcide."

When Pam and I left Eric's house, it had started raining. The rain put a little chill in the air, and I turned the heat on low in Pam's car. It wouldn't make any difference to her. We drove for a while in silence, each lost in our own thoughts. I watched the windshield wipers fan back and forth.

Pam said, "You didn't tell Eric about the fairy staying with you." "Oh, gosh!" I put my hand over my eyes. "No, I didn't. There was so much else to talk about, I completely forgot."

"You realize Eric won't like another man living in the same house with his woman."

"Another man who is my cousin and also gay."

"But very beautiful and a stripper." Pam glanced over at me. She was smiling. Pam's smiles are somewhat disconcerting.

"You can strip all you want to - if you don't like the person you're looking at while you're na**d, it's not going to happen," I said tartly.

"I kind of understand that sentence," she said, after a moment. "But still, having such an attractive man in the same house ... It's not good, Sookie."

"You're kidding me, right? Claude is gay. Not only does he like men, he likes men with beard stubble and oil stains on their blue jeans."

"What does that mean?" Pam said.

"That means he likes blue-collar guys who work with their hands. Or their fists."

"Oh. Interesting." Pam still had an air of disapproval. She hesitated for a moment, then said, "Eric hasn't had anyone like you in a long, long time, Sookie. I think he's levelheaded enough to keep on course, but you have to consider his responsibilities. This is a perilous time for the few of us in his original crew remaining since Sophie-Anne met her final death. We Shreveport vampires doubly belong to Eric, since he's the only surviving sheriff from the old regime. If Eric goes down, we all go down. If Victor succeeds in discrediting Eric or somehow eating into his base here in Shreveport, we'll all die."

I hadn't put the situation to myself in terms that dire. Eric hadn't spelled it out to me, either. "It's that bad?" I said, feeling numb.

"He is male enough to want to look strong in front of you, Sookie. Truly, Eric's a great vampire, and very practical. But he isn't practical nowadays - not when it comes to you."

"Are you saying you don't think Eric and I should see each other anymore?" I asked her directly. Though generally I was very glad that vampire minds were closed to me, sometimes I found it frustrating. I was used to knowing more than I wanted to know about how people were thinking and feeling, rather than wondering if I was right.

"No, not exactly." Pam looked thoughtful. "I would hate to see him unhappy. And you, too," she added, as an afterthought. "But if he's worried about you, he won't react the same as he would - as he should ..."

"If I weren't in the picture."

Pam didn't say anything for a while. Then she said, "I think the only reason Victor hasn't abducted you to hold you over Eric is because Eric married you. Victor's still trying to cover his ass by doing everything by the book. He isn't ready to rebel against Felipe openly. He'll still try to show justification for whatever he does. He's walking on thin ice with Felipe right now because he almost let you get killed."

"Maybe Felipe will do the job for us," I said.

Pam looked thoughtful. "That would be ideal," she said. "But we'll have to wait for it. Felipe's not going to do anything rash when it comes to killing a lieutenant of his. That would make his other lieutenants uneasy and uncertain."

I shook my head. "That's too bad. I don't think it would bother Felipe very much at all to kill Victor."

"And it would bother you, Sookie?"

"Yes. It would bother me." Though not as much as it ought to.

"So if you could do it in a rush of rage when Victor was attacking you, that would be far preferable to planning a way to kill him when he couldn't fight back effectively?"

Okay, put like that my attitude didn't make much sense. I could see that if you were willing to kill someone, planning to kill someone, wishing someone would die, quibbling about the circumstances was ridiculous.

"It shouldn't make a difference," I said quietly. "But it does. Victor has to go, though."

"You've changed," Pam said, after a little silence. She didn't sound surprised or horrified or disgusted. For that matter, she didn't sound happy. It was more as though she'd realized I'd altered my hairstyle.

"Yes," I said. We watched the rain pour down some more.

Suddenly, Pam said, "Look!" There was a sleek white car parked on the shoulder of the interstate. I didn't understand why Pam was so agitated until I noticed that the man leaning against the car had his arms crossed over his chest in an attitude of total nonchalance, despite the rain.

As we drew abreast of the car, a Lexus, the figure waved a languid hand at us. We were being flagged down.

"Shit," Pam said. "That's Bruno Brazell. We have to stop." She pulled over to the shoulder and stopped in front of the car. "And Corinna," she said, sounding bitter. I glanced in the side mirror to see that a woman had gotten out of the Lexus.

"They're here to kill us," Pam said quietly. "I can't kill them both. You have to help."

"They're going to try to kill us?" I was really, really scared.

"That's the only reason I can think of that Victor would send two people on a one-person errand," she said. She sounded calm. Pam was obviously thinking much faster than I was. "Showtime! If the peace can be kept, we need to keep it, at least for now. Here." She pressed something into my hand. "Take it out of the sheath. It's a silver dagger."

I remembered Bill's gray skin and the slow way he moved after silver poisoning. I shuddered, but I was angry with myself for my squeamishness. I slid the dagger from the leather sheath.

"We have to get out, huh?" I said. I tried to smile. "Okay, showtime."

"Sookie, be brave and ruthless," Pam said, and she opened her door and disappeared from sight. I sent a last waft of love toward Eric by way of good-bye while I was sticking the dagger through my skirt's waistband at the back. I got out of the car into the pelting darkness, holding my hands out to show they were empty.

I was drenched in seconds. I shoved my hair behind my ears so it wouldn't hang in my eyes. Though the Lexus's headlights were on, it was very dark. The only other light came from oncoming headlights from both sides of the interstate, and the brightly lit truck stop a mile away. Otherwise, we were nowhere, an anonymous stretch of divided interstate with woods on either side. The vampires could see a lot better than I could. But I knew where everyone was because I cast out that other sense of mine and felt for their brains. Vampires register as holes to me, almost black spots in the atmosphere. It's negative tracking.

No one spoke, and the only noise was the pelting of the rain drumming on the cars. I couldn't hear an oncoming vehicle. "Hi, Bruno," I called, and I sounded perky in a crazy way. "Who's your buddy?"

I walked over to him. Across the median, a car whizzed by going west. If the driver caught a glimpse of us, it probably looked as though two Good Samaritans had stopped to help some people with car trouble. Humans see what they want to see ... what they expect to see.

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