Home > Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse #11)(6)

Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse #11)(6)
Author: Charlaine Harris

It really didn't take long. The burned bits drifted to the floor like sad snowflakes.

"You need to go shower now and come back with clean, wet hair," Immanuel said. "After that, I'll even it up. Where's your broom, your dustpan?"

I told him where to find them, and then I went into my bedroom, passing through it to my own bathroom. I wondered if Eric would join me, since I knew from past experience that he liked my shower. The way I felt, it would be far better if he stayed in the kitchen.

I pulled off my smelly clothes and ran the water as hot as I could stand it. It was a relief to step into the tub and let the heat and wetness flow over me. When the warm water hit my legs, it stung. For a few moments I wasn't appreciative or happy about anything. I just remembered how scared I'd been. But after I'd dealt with that, I had something on my mind.

The figure I'd spotted running toward the bar, bottle in hand--I couldn't be completely sure, but I suspected it had not been human.

Chapter 2

I stuffed my grimy, reeking clothes into the hamper in my bathroom. I'd have to presoak them in some Clorox 2 before I even tried to wash them, but of course I couldn't just toss them out before they were clean and I could assess the damage. I wasn't feeling too optimistic about the future of the black pants. I hadn't noticed they were a little scorched until I pulled them down over my tender thighs and found that my skin was pink. Only then did I remember looking down to see my apron on fire.

As I examined my legs, I realized it could have been much worse. The sparks had caught my apron, not my pants, and Sam had been very quick with the extinguisher. Now I appreciated his checking the extinguishers every year; I appreciated his going down to the fire station to get them refilled; I appreciated the smoke alarms. I had a flash of what might have been.

Deep breath, I told myself as I patted my legs dry. Deep breath. Think of how good it feels to be clean. It had felt wonderful to wash away the smell, to lather up my hair, to rinse out all the smell along with the shampoo.

I couldn't stop worrying about what I'd seen when I'd looked out Merlotte's window: a short figure running toward the building, holding something in one hand. I hadn't been able to tell if the runner was a man or a woman, but one thing I was sure of: The runner was a supe, and I suspected he--or she--was a twoey. This suspicion gained more weight when I added in the speed and agility of the runner and the strength and accuracy of the throw--the bottle had come at the window harder than a human could have hurled it, with enough velocity to shatter the window.

I couldn't be 100 percent sure. But vampires don't like to handle fire. Something about the vampire condition causes them to be extra flammable. It would take a very confident, or very reckless, fanger to use a Molotov cocktail as a weapon.

For that reason alone, I was inclined to put my money on the bomber being a twoey--a shapeshifter or were of some variety. Of course, there were other sorts of supernatural creatures like elves and fairies and goblins, and they were all quicker than humans. To my regret, the whole incident had happened too swiftly for me to scope out the bomber's mind. That would have been decisive, because vampires are a big blank to me, a hole in the aether, and I also can't read fairies, though they register differently. Some twoeys I can read with fair accuracy, some I can't, but I see their brains as warm and busy.

Normally, I'm not an indecisive person. But as I patted myself dry and combed through my wet hair (feeling how strange it was that my comb completed its passage much more quickly), I worried about sharing my suspicions with Eric. When a vampire loves you--even when he simply feels proprietary toward you--his notion of protection can be pretty drastic. Eric loved going into battle; often he had to struggle to balance the political savvy of a move with his instinct to leap in with a swinging sword. Though I didn't think he'd go charging off at the two-natured community, in his present mood it seemed wiser to keep my ideas to myself until I had some evidence one way or another.

I pulled on sleep pants and a Bon Temps Lady Falcons T-shirt. I looked at my bed with longing before I left my room to rejoin the strange crowd in the kitchen. Eric and Pam were drinking some bottled synthetic blood I'd had in the refrigerator, and Immanuel was sipping on a Coke. I was stricken because I hadn't thought of offering them refreshment, but Pam caught my eye and gave me a level look. She'd taken care of it. I nodded gratefully and told Immanuel, "I'm ready now." He unfolded his skinny frame from the chair and gestured to the stool.

This time my new hairdresser unfolded a thin, shoulders-only plastic capelet and tied it around my neck. He combed through my hair himself, eyeing it intently. I tried to smile at Eric to show this wasn't so bad, but my heart wasn't in it. Pam scowled at her cell phone. A text had displeased her.

Apparently Immanuel had passed the time by combing Pam's hair. The pale golden mane, straight and fine, was pushed off her face with a blue headband. You just couldn't get any more Alice-like. She wasn't wearing a full-skirted blue dress and a white pinafore, but she was wearing pale blue: a sheath dress, perhaps from the sixties, and pumps with three-inch heels. And pearls.

"What's up, Pam?" I asked, simply because the silence in my kitchen was getting oppressive. "Someone sending you a nasty text?"

"Nothing's up," she snarled, and I tried not to flinch. "Absolutely nothing is happening. Victor is still our leader. Our position doesn't improve. Our requests go unanswered. Where is Felipe? We need him."

Eric glared at her. Whoa, trouble in paradise. I'd never seen them seriously at odds.

Pam was the only "child" of Eric's I'd ever met. She'd gone off on her own after spending her first few years as a vampire with him. She'd done well, but she'd told me she was glad enough to return to Eric after he'd called her to help him out in Area Five when the former queen had appointed him to the position of sheriff.

The tense atmosphere was getting to Immanuel, who was wavering in and out of his focus on his job . . . which was cutting my hair.

"Chill out, guys," I said sharply.

"And what is it with all the crap sitting out in your driveway?" Pam asked, her original British accent peeking through. "To say nothing of your living room and your porch. Are you having a garage sale?" You could tell she was proud of getting her terminology correct.

"Almost finished," Immanuel muttered, his scissors snicking at a frantic rate in response to the growing tension.

"Pam, that all came out of my attic," I said, glad to talk about something so mundane and (I hoped) calming. "Claude and Dermot are helping me clean it out. I'm going to go see an antiques dealer with Sam in the morning--well, we were going to go. I don't know if Sam'll be able to make it, now."

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