Home > Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse #11)(9)

Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse #11)(9)
Author: Charlaine Harris

"Here, I'll make some coffee," I said, and when I stepped into the kitchen, Sam close on my heels, I stopped dead. I'd forgotten all about the fight the night before.

"What happened?" Sam said. "Did Claude do this?" He looked around with dismay.

"No, Eric and Pam," I said. "Oh, zombies." Sam looked at me oddly, and I laughed and began to pick things up. I was abbreviating one of Pam's curses, because I wasn't that horrified.

I couldn't help reflecting that it would have been really, really nice if Claude and Dermot had straightened the room up before they turned in the night before. Just as lagniappe.

Then again, it wasn't their kitchen.

I set a chair on its legs, and Sam dragged the table back into position. I got the broom and dustpan, and swept up the salt, pepper, and sugar that crunched under my feet, and made a mental note to go to Wal-Mart to replace my toaster if Eric didn't send one today. My napkin holder was broken, too, and it had survived the fire of a year and a half ago. I double-sighed.

"At least the table is okay," I said.

"And only one broken leg on one of the chairs," Sam said. "Eric going to get this stuff fixed or replaced?"

"I expect he will," I said, and found that the coffeepot was intact, as were the mugs that had been hanging on a mug tree next to it; no, wait, one of them had broken. Well, five good ones. That was plenty.

I made some coffee. While Sam was carrying the garbage bag outside, I ducked into my room to get ready. I'd showered the evening before, so I only needed to brush my hair and my teeth and pull on some jeans and a "Fight Like a Girl" T-shirt. I didn't fool with makeup. Sam had seen me under all sorts of conditions.

"How's the hair?" he asked, when I emerged. Dermot was in the kitchen, too. Apparently, he'd made a quick run into town, since he and Sam were sharing some fresh doughnuts. Judging from the sound of running water, Claude was in the shower.

I eyed the bakery box longingly, but I was all too aware that my jeans were feeling tight. I felt like a martyr as I poured a bowl of Special K and sprinkled Equal on the cereal and added some 2 percent milk. When Sam looked as though he wanted to make a comment, I narrowed my eyes at him. He grinned at me, chewing a mouthful of jelly-filled.

"Dermot, we're off to Shreveport in a few minutes. If you need my bathroom . . ." I offered, since Claude was terrible about hogging the one in the hall. I rinsed my bowl in the sink.

"Thanks, Niece," Dermot said, kissing my hand. "And your hair still looks glorious, though shorter. I think Eric was right to bring someone to cut it last night." Sam shook his head as we were getting into his truck. "Sook, that guy treats you like a queen."

"Which guy do you mean? Eric or Dermot?"

"Not Eric," Sam said, trying his best to look neutral. "Dermot."

"Yeah, too bad he's related! And also, he looks way too much like Jason."

"That's no obstacle to a fairy," Sam said seriously.

"You've got to be joking." I felt serious in a hurry. From Sam's expression, he wasn't joking one little bit. "Listen, Sam, Dermot has never even looked at me like I was a woman, and Claude is g*y. We're strictly family." We'd all slept in the same bed, and there'd never been anything but the comfort of their presence in that, though of course I'd felt a little weird about it the first time. I'd been sure that was just my human hang-up. Due to Sam's words, now I was second-guessing myself like crazy, wondering if I'd picked up on a vibe. After all, Claude did like to run around nude, and he'd told me he'd actually had sex with a female before. (I figured there'd been another man involved, frankly.)

"And I'm saying again, weird things happen in fae families." Sam glanced over at me.

"I don't mean to sound rude, but how would you know?" If Sam had spent a lot of time with fairies, he had kept it a close secret.

"I read up on it after I met your great-grandfather."

"Read up on it? Where?" It would be great to learn more about my dab of fairy heritage. Dermot and Claude, having decided to live apart from their fairy kin (though I wasn't sure how voluntary those decisions had been), remained closemouthed about fairy beliefs and customs. Aside from making derogatory comments from time to time about trolls and sprites, they didn't talk about their race at all . . . at least, around me.

"Ah . . . the shifters have a library. We have records of our history and what we've observed about other supes. Keeping track has helped us survive. There's always been a place we could go on each continent to read and study about the other races. Now it's all electronic. I'm sworn not to show it to anyone. If I could, I'd let you read it all."

"So it's not okay for me to read it, but it's okay for you to tell me about it?" I wasn't trying to be snarky; I was genuinely curious.

"Within limits." Sam flushed.

I didn't want to press him. I could tell that Sam had already stretched those limits for me.

We were each preoccupied with our own thoughts for the rest of the drive. While Eric was dead for the day, I felt alone in my skin, and usually I enjoyed that feeling. It wasn't that being bonded to Eric made me feel I was possessed, or anything like that. It was more like during the dark hours, I could feel his life continuing parallel to mine--I knew he was working or arguing or content or absorbed in what he was doing. A little trickle of awareness, rather than a book of knowledge.

"So, the bomber yesterday," Sam said abruptly.

"Yeah," I said. "I think maybe a twoey of some kind, right?"

He nodded without looking at me.

"Not a hate crime," I said, trying to sound matter-of-fact.

"Not a human hate crime," Sam said. "But I'm sure it's some kind of hatred."


"I can't think of any economic reason," he said. "I'm insured, but I'm the only beneficiary if the bar burns down. Of course, I'd be out of business for a while, and I'm sure the other bars in the area would take up the slack, but I can't see that as an incentive. Much of an incentive," he corrected himself. "Merlotte's has always been kind of a family bar, not a wild place. Not like Vic's Redneck Roadhouse," he added, a little bitterly.

That was true. "Maybe someone doesn't like you personally, Sam," I said, though it came out sounding harsher than I'd intended. "I mean," I added quickly, "maybe someone wants to hurt you through damaging your business. Not you as a shapeshifter, but you as a person."

"I don't recall anything that personal," he said, genuinely bewildered.

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