I cut my eyes toward Bernie, who was every bit (and more understandably) as unenlightened as Sam. Of course, she hadn’t been at the pack meeting, and she hadn’t talked to anyone else who’d been there until now. She’d met Jannalynn, though I wasn’t sure she’d known how involved Sam had been with the werewolf. There’d been sides of Jannalynn that few men would want their moms to see.
"That Were that showed up at the house?" Bernie said. "The one Sam didn’t want me to know he’d been seeing?"
I felt horribly awkward. "Yes, that Jannalynn," I said.
"I have been wondering why I hadn’t heard from her," Sam said readily. "But considering all the bad things she was accused of – and the fact that I believed she’d done them – I hadn’t planned on seeing her again. Someone told me she’d gone to Alaska."
There wasn’t a psychologist hotline at hand. I didn’t know how to handle this.
"Sam, do you remember what happened to you that night? You remember why we were there?" Begin at the beginning.
"Not exactly," he admitted. "It’s pretty hazy. Jannalynn was accused of doing something to Alcide, right? I remember feeling mad and pretty miserable, because I’d liked her so much when we started dating. But I wasn’t exactly surprised, so I guess I’d figured out that she wasn’t basically . . . a good person. I remember driving to Alcide’s farm with you, and I remember seeing Eric and Alcide and the pack, and I think I remember – there was a swimming pool? And some sand?"
I nodded. "Yeah, a swimming pool and a sand volleyball area. Remember anything else?"
Sam began to look uneasy. "I remember the pain," he said. He sounded hoarse. "And something about the sand. It was all . . . I remember riding back in the truck, with you driving."
Well, shit. I hated to be the designated revelator. "You’ve forgotten a few things, Sam," I said, as gently as I could. I’d heard of people forgetting traumatic stuff, especially when they’d been badly injured: people in car wrecks, people who’d gotten attacked. I figured Sam was entitled to blank out on a thing or two since he’d actually passed over.
"What did I forget?" He was looking at me with the sidelong wide eyes of a nervous horse, and his back was stiff as a board. Somewhere in his head, he knew what had happened.
I held out my hands to him, palms up. Do you really want to do this now?
"Yeah, I guess I should know," he said. Bernie crouched by her son’s chair in a distinctly nonhuman way. She was looking at me with a level gaze. She knew I wasn’t going to say anything that would make Sam feel better. I could understand her unhappiness with me, but Bernie or no Bernie, I had to go through with it.
"Since Jannalynn turned traitor and almost killed Warren with neglect while she held him hostage, she and Mustapha Khan fought," I said, paring down the story to the essentials that affected Sam. "You remember Mustapha?"
"She got a trial by combat, though I don’t know the hows and whys of that. I was surprised they’d give her the privilege. But she and Mustapha were fighting with swords."
Suddenly Sam’s face went white. I paused, but he didn’t say anything, so I went on.
"Jannalynn was doing real well, but instead of focusing on beating Mustapha, she decided to make one last attempt to control the pack – at least, I guess that was her goal." I exhaled deeply. I’d thought about that night over and over, and I still didn’t understand. "Or maybe she just had an impulse, to get the better of Alcide, to have the last word, sort of. Anyway, Jannalynn maneuvered the fight until she was close to where you and Alcide were standing." I paused again, hoping that he would tell me to stop, that he remembered what came next.
He didn’t, though by now he looked almost as pale as a vampire. I bit my lip and braced myself to continue.
"She leaped for Alcide and swiped down with her sword, but Alcide saw her coming in time and jumped to the side. Instead, you got cut. She never intended to hurt you."
Sam didn’t respond to my lame attempt at consolation. Sure, your lover killed you, but she didn’t really mean to. ‘Kay?
"So . . . the blow was bad, as you know. You fell down, and there was . . . It was pretty awful." I’d thrown away the clothes I’d been wearing. And Sam’s shirt, the one he’d left at my house. "You got cut," I said. "You got cut so bad you died."
"It hurt," he said, hunching over as if a strong wind were blowing at him. Bernie put her hand over her son’s.
"I can’t even imagine," I said quietly, though I was certainly no stranger to pain. "Your heart stopped beating. I used my cluviel dor to heal you and bring you back."
"You were calling me. You told me to live." Now he was finally looking at me directly, meeting my eyes.
"Yes," I said.
"I remember opening my eyes again to see your face."
"Your heart started beating again," I said, as the enormity of it swept over me. My skin tingled all over.
"Eric was standing behind you, looking down at us as though he hated us," Sam said. "And then he was gone, vamp quick."
"Do you remember us talking on the way home?"
He ignored that question. "But what happened to Jannalynn?" he said. "Isn’t that what you were going to tell me?"
He’d walked right by her body – and her head – as I’d helped him get to his truck. He’d looked at the corpse. I could see why he didn’t want to recall that. I didn’t, either, and I hadn’t even liked Jannalynn.
"Mustapha executed her," I said. I didn’t elaborate.
Sam’s gaze was fixed on me, but there wasn’t anyone home. I had no idea what he was thinking. Maybe he was trying to recall what he’d seen. Maybe he remembered very clearly and didn’t want to.
Bernie was shaking her head at me from behind Sam’s shoulder. She thought Sam had had enough, and she was ready for me to go; that was easy to read even if you weren’t a telepath. I’m not so sure I would have walked out otherwise – I figured I needed to offer a little more debriefing – but this was Sam’s mother. I heaved myself to my feet, feeling about ten years older than when I’d knocked on the trailer door.
"See you later, Sam," I said. "Please come back to work soon." He didn’t answer. He was still staring at the spot where I’d been sitting.
"Good-bye, Sookie," Bernie said. "You and me need to have a talk later."
I would rather walk on nails. "Sure," I said, and left.
Back in the bar, the working day proceeded in a strangely normal rhythm. It can be hard to recall that not everyone knows all the big events that occur in the supe world, even when those events take place right under the noses of the general human populace. And even if every human soul in the bar knew, they might not care very much.