Home > Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse #11)(10)

Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse #11)(10)
Author: Charlaine Harris

"Ah . . . Jannalynn have a vengeful ex, anything like that?"

Sam was startled by the idea. "I really haven't heard of anyone who resented me dating her," he said. "And Jannalynn's more than capable of speaking her mind. It's not like I could coerce her into going out with me."

I had a hard time repressing a snort of laughter. "Just trying to think of all possibilities," I said apologetically.

"That's okay," he said. He shrugged. "Bottom line is, I can't remember when I've made anyone really mad."

I couldn't remember any such incident myself, and I'd known Sam for years.

Pretty soon we were pulling up to the antiques shop, which was located in a former paint store in a down-sliding older business street in Shreveport.

The big front windows were sparkling clean, and the pieces that had been positioned there were beautiful. The largest was what my grandmother had called a hunt sideboard. It was heavy and ornate and just about as tall as my chest. The other window featured a collection of jardini?res, or vases, I wasn't sure which to call them. The one in the center, positioned to show that it was the cream of the crop, was sea green and blue and had cherubs stuck on it. I thought it was hideous, but it definitely had style.

Sam and I looked at the display for a moment in thoughtful silence before we went in. A bell--a real bell, not an electronic chime--jangled as we pushed open the door. A woman sitting on a stool behind a counter to the right looked up. She pushed her glasses up on her nose.

"Nice to see you again, Mr. Merlotte," she said, smiling with just the right intensity. I remember you, I'm glad you came back, but I'm not personally interested in you as a man. She was good.

"Thanks, Ms. Hesterman," Sam said. "This is my friend, Sookie Stackhouse."

"Welcome to Splendide," Ms. Hesterman said. "Please call me Brenda. What can I do for you today?"

"We've got two errands," Sam said. "I'm here to look at the pieces you called me about. . . ."

"And I've just cleaned out my attic and I have some things I wondered if you could take a look at," I said. "I need to get rid of some of the odds and ends I brought down. I don't want to put it all back." I smiled, to show general goodwill.

"So you've had a family place a long time?" she asked, encouraging me to give her a clue about what sort of possessions my family might have accumulated.

"We've lived in the same house for about a hundred and seventy years," I told her, and she brightened. "But it's an old farm, not a mansion. Might be some things you'd be interested in, though."

"I'd love to come take a look," she said, though clearly "love" was overstating it a little. "We'll set up a time as soon as I help Sam pick out a gift for Jannalynn. She's so modern, who would have thought she'd be interested in antiques? She's such a little cutie!"

I had a hard time keeping my mouth from dropping open. Did we know the same Jannalynn Hopper?

Sam poked me in the ribs when Brenda turned her back to fetch a ring of small keys. He made a significant face, and I smoothed out my expression and batted my eyelashes at him. He looked away, but not before I caught a reluctant grin.

"Sam, I've put together some things Jannalynn might like," Brenda said, and led us over to a display case, keys jingling in her hand. The case was full of little things, pretty things. I couldn't identify most of them. I leaned over the glass top to look down.

"What are those?" I pointed at some lethal sharp-pointed objects with ornate heads. I wondered if you could kill a vampire with one

"Hat pins and stickpins, for scarves and cravats."

There were also earrings and rings and brooches, plus enamel boxes, beaded boxes, painted boxes. All these little containers were carefully arranged. Were they snuffboxes? I read the price tag discreetly peeking out from under a tortoiseshell and silver oval box, and had to clamp my lips together to restrain my gasp.

While I was still wondering about the items I was examining, Brenda and Sam were comparing the merits of art deco pearl earrings versus a Victorian pressed-glass hair receiver with an enameled brass lid. Whatever the hell that was.

"What do you think, Sookie?" he asked, looking from one item to another.

I examined the art deco earrings, pearl drops dangling from a rose gold setting. The hair receiver was pretty, too, though I couldn't imagine what it was for or what Jannalynn would do with it. Did anyone need to receive hair anymore?

"She'll wear the earrings to show them off," I said. "It's harder to brag about getting a hair receiver." Brenda gave me a veiled look, and I understood from her thoughts that this opinion branded me as a philistine. So be it.

"The hair receiver's older," Sam said, wavering.

"But less personal. Unless you're Victorian."

While Sam compared the two smaller items to the beauties of a seventy-year-old New Bedford police badge, I wandered around the store, looking at the furniture. I discovered I was not an antiques appreciator. This was just one more flaw in my mundane character, I decided. Or maybe it was because I was surrounded by antiques all the day long? Nothing in my house was new except the kitchen, and that only because the old one had been destroyed by fire. I'd still be using Gran's ancient refrigerator if the flames hadn't eaten it up. (That refrigerator was one antique I didn't miss, for sure.)

I slid open a long, narrow drawer on what the tag described as a "map chest." There was a sliver of paper left in it.

"Look at that," Brenda Hesterman's voice said from behind me. "I'd thought I'd gotten that thoroughly clean. Let that be a lesson, Miss Stackhouse. Before we come to look at your things, be sure to go through them and remove all papers and other objects. You don't want to sell us something you didn't intend to part with."

I turned around to see that Sam was holding a wrapped package. While I'd been lost in exploration, he'd made his purchase (the earrings, to my relief; the hair receiver was back in its spot in the case).

"She'll love the earrings. They're beautiful," I said honestly, and for a second Sam's thoughts got snarled, almost . . . purple. Strange, that I would think of colors. Lingering effect of the shaman drug I'd taken for the Weres? I hoped to hell not.

"I'll be sure to look over everything real carefully, Brenda," I said to the antiques dealer.

We made an appointment for two days later. She assured me that she could find my isolated house with her GPS, and I warned her about the long driveway through the woods, which had led several visitors to believe they'd become lost. "I don't know if I'll come, or my partner, Donald," Brenda said. "Maybe both of us."

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