"Michele’s got a good head on her shoulders," I said.
"She’s no kid," he agreed. "In fact, she’s a little older than me, but she don’t like me to bring that up."
"You won’t, then, right? No jokes," I warned him.
He grinned at me. "No jokes. And she’s not pregnant, and she’s got her own job and her own money." None of these facts had been true of his first wife.
"Go for it, Brother." I gave him a quick hug.
He flashed the grin at me, the one that had hooked scores of women. "I’m asking her today when she gets off work. I was gonna eat lunch here, but I’m too nervous."
"Let me know what she says, Jason. I’ll be praying for you." I beamed at his back as he left the bar. He was as happy and nervous as I’d ever seen him.
Merlotte’s began to fill up after that, and I was too busy to think much. I love being at work, because I get to be around people and I know what’s going on in Bon Temps. On the other hand, most of the time I know too much. It’s a feathery balance between listening to people with my ears and not listening to them in my head, and it’s not too surprising that I have a big rep for being eccentric. At least most people are too nice to call me Crazy Sookie anymore. I like to think I’ve proved myself to the community.
Tara came in with her assistant, McKenna, to order an early lunch. Tara looked even bigger with her pregnancy than she had at Hooligans the night before.
Since she’d brought McKenna along, I couldn’t ask Tara what I really wanted to know. What had happened when she talked to JB about his second job at Hooligans? Even if he hadn’t seen Tara in the crowd, he’d have to know we were going to tell her.
But Tara was thinking about the shop with great determination, and when she wasn’t planning to restock the lingerie counter, she was concentrating on the Merlotte’s menu-the very limited menu that she knew back and forth-trying to figure out what she could digest, and how many more calories she could ingest, without actually exploding. McKenna’s brain wasn’t any help; though McKenna loved to know every little snippet of information about Bon Temps happenings, she didn’t know about JB’s moonlighting. She would have been vastly interested if I’d told her. McKenna would have loved to be a telepath, for about twenty-four hours.
But after she’d heard stuff like I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to wait till he’s asleep and slash him or I’d like to take her and bend her over the bar and drive my … Well, after a day or two of that, she wouldn’t love it so much.
Tara didn’t even go to the ladies’ room by herself. She towed McKenna along. I looked questioningly at Tara. She glared at me. Not ready to talk, not yet.
When the lunch rush was over, only two tables remained in use, and they were in India’s section. I went back to Sam’s office to work on the endless paperwork. Trees had died to make these forms, and that seemed a great pity to me. I tried to fill out anything I could online, though I was very slow at it. Sam came back to his office to retrieve a screwdriver from his desk, so I asked him a question about an employee tax form. He was leaning over me to look at it when Jannalynn walked in.
"Hey, Jannalynn," I said. I didn’t even look at her because I’d identified her mental signature before she’d entered, and I was trying real hard to complete the form while Sam’s instructions were still fresh in my mind.
"Oh, hey, Jan," Sam said. I could feel his smile in his voice.
Instead of a response, there was an ominous silence.
"What?" I said, filling in one more figure.
I finally looked up to see that Jannalynn was in high offensive mode, her eyes round and wide, her nostrils dilated, her whole slim body tense with aggression.
"What?" I asked again, alarmed. "Are we being attacked?"
Sam remained silent. I swung around in the swivel chair to look up at him, and he was in a posture that was tense, too. But his face was one big warning.
"You two want to be alone?" I scrambled to get up and out from between them.
"I would have thought so before I walked in," Jannalynn said, her fists like little hammers.
"What … wait! You thinking Sam and I are fooling around in the office?" Despite Mustapha’s warning, I was genuinely astonished. "Honey, we are filling out tax forms. If you think there’s anything sexy about that, you should get a job with the IRS!"
There was a long moment when I wondered if I was going to get my ass kicked, but gradually the suspense ratcheted down. I did notice that Sam didn’t say anything, not a word, until Jannalynn’s stance had completely relaxed. I took a deep breath.
"Excuse us for a minute, Sookie," Sam said, and I could tell he was really angry.
"Certainly." I was out of that room as fast as a greased pig. I would rather have cleaned the men’s room after a Saturday night than have stayed in Sam’s office.
India was helping D’Eriq clear off a table. She glanced at me and half smiled. "What lit your tail on fire?" she asked. "Sam’s scary girlfriend?"
I nodded. "I’m just going to find something to do out here," I said. This was a very good opportunity to dust the bottles and shelves behind the bar, and I moved them all carefully, cleaning a bit of shelf and moving on to another one.
Though I couldn’t help but wonder what was going on in Sam’s office, I reminded myself repeatedly that it wasn’t my business. I had the bar as clean as a whistle by the time Jannalynn and Sam emerged.
"Sorry," she said to me, with no particular sincerity.
I nodded in acknowledgment.
Jannalynn thought, She’ll get Sam if she can.
Oh, please! I thought, She’d be real happy if I died.
And then she left the bar, Sam following her to say good-bye. Or to make sure she actually got in her car. Or both.
By the time he returned, I was so desperate for something to do I was about to start counting the toothpicks in the clear plastic dispenser. "We can get back on that paperwork tomorrow," Sam said in passing, and continued walking. He avoided my eyes. He was surely embarrassed. It’s always good to give people time to recover from that, especially guys, so I cut Sam some slack.
A work crew from Norcross came in, their shift over and some celebration in progress. India and I began putting tables together to accommodate all of them. While I worked, I thought about young shifter women. I’d encountered more than one who was very aggressive, but there were very few female packleaders in the United States, especially in the South. An outstanding few of the female Weres I’d met were extremely vicious. I wondered if this exaggerated aggression was due to the established male power structure in the packs.
Jannalynn wasn’t psychotic, as the Pelt sisters and Marnie Stonebrook had been; but she was uber-conscious of her own toughness and ability.