Deadlocked (Page 23)

Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse #12)(23)
Author: Charlaine Harris

She was simply packed full of information.

I kind of admired her. I hoped we wouldn’t be enemies.

Cherie Dodson said, "Tell me she doesn’t have on a green and pink dress." All the flirty fun had drained from her voice.

"That’s what she’s wearing," the detective said. "Do you know her?"

"I met her this evening," Cherie said. "Her name’s Kym. Kym-with-a-y, she said. Her last name was Rowe, I think. T-Rex, you remember her?"

He looked down as though he were working hard at recovering the recollection, his dyed platinum hair showing a quarter-inch of dark root. T-Rex’s cheeks sported reddish-brown bristles, and his tight black T-shirt revealed that he’d shaved his chest. I thought that he had some ambivalence about his hair growth, but I was kind of fascinated by his musculature, I have to admit. He just bulged muscles everywhere, even in his neck. I glanced up to find Eric giving me a frosty look. Well, big whoop, considering.

"I had quite a bit to drink tonight, Miz Ambroselli," the wrestler said, with a charming ruefulness. "But I remember the name, so I must have met her. Cherie, honey, was she at the bar?"

"No, baby. Here. While we were dancing, she walked through the living room. She asked where Mr. Northman was."

"How did this Kym arrive here?" Ambroselli asked. She looked at me first. I don’t know why.

I shrugged. "She was already here when I came in this evening," I said.

"Where was she?"

"She was giving Eric blood back in the first room on the left past the bathroom."

"And you invited her?" Ambroselli asked Eric.

"To my house? No, as I said, I’d never met her-that I can recall. I’m sure you know I own Fangtasia, and many people come in and out of the bar, of course. I had gone to Sookie’s room because I wanted to have a private word with her before the … before we entertained our guests. This woman, this Kym, came back to the room. She said that Felipe had sent her to me as a present."

The detective didn’t even ask Felipe. She just switched her dark gaze to him. The king spread his hands charmingly. "She seemed at loose ends," he said, with a smile. "She asked me if I knew Eric. I told her where Eric might be found. I suggested she go back to Eric and ask him if he wanted a drink. I thought he might be lonely without Sookie."

"Did you see the dead girl arrive? Do you know how she got here, or why she came?" Ambroselli asked Pam.

"Our other guests entered through the front door, properly. I suppose this Kym entered through the kitchen," Pam said, shrugging elegantly. "Eric sent me on an errand, and I didn’t see her arrive."

"No, I didn’t," Eric said. "What errand?"

"Mustapha told me you wanted me to go buy some more rum," Pam said. "Was this not the case?"

Eric shook his head. "I wouldn’t send you on an errand if Mustapha was here at the house," he said. "You’re better protection, any day."

"I’ll check from now on," Pam promised. Her voice was cold. "I assumed the order came from you, and of course I set off for the store. When I got back, I checked the living room to make sure all was well, and I heard Sookie enter. Since I knew you were anxious to see her, and I knew you were in the bedroom, I took her back there."

I was in a group of multi-projectors. Ambroselli’s brain was the busiest, naturally. T-Rex was thinking he was glad his publicist was on speed dial, and wondering whether or not this incident would help his image. Viveca and Cherie were terribly excited. They didn’t have the imagination to be relieved that the body on the lawn wasn’t one of them. My own head was whirling with the excitement pouring from so many heads.

"Mr. Compton, same questions for you," Ambroselli said. "Did you see the victim arrive?"

"I did not," Bill said very positively. "I should have. I was in charge of watching the front of the house. But I didn’t see her get out of a car or approach by foot. She must have come through the back gate and up the hill to creep around the corner of the house and enter through the garage, or perhaps she came in through the French windows that open onto the kitchen and the living room. Though I’m sure some of our guests would have noticed if she’d entered there."

There was a round of headshakes. No one had seen her come in that way.

"And you didn’t know her? Had never seen her?" Ambroselli said to Pam.

"As Eric pointed out, she may have been to Fangtasia. I don’t remember meeting her or seeing her there."

"Are there security cameras in Fangtasia?"

There was a moment of silence. "We don’t permit any sort of camera in Fangtasia while the club is open," Eric said smoothly. "If patrons want pictures, there is a club photographer who is happy to take snapshots."

"So let me see if I’ve got this right," Ambroselli said. "This house belongs to you, Mr. Northman." She pointed from the floor to Eric. "And you’re the proprietor of Fangtasia. Ms…. Ravenscroft works there with you as the club manager. Ms. Ravenscroft does not live here in this house. Ms. Stackhouse, from Bon Temps, is your girlfriend. She doesn’t live here, either. Mr. Compton-who sometimes works for you?-also lives in Bon Temps."

Eric nodded. "Exactly so, Detective." Bill looked approving. Pam looked bored.

"If you-all would go sit over at the dining table"-and the cop’s eyes expressed sardonic pleasure that a vampire had a dining table-"I’ll talk to these nice people." She smiled unpleasantly at the visiting vamps.

Pam, Eric, Bill, and I went to sit at the table. The darkness pressing at the windows loomed at my back in a very nerve-racking fashion.

"Mr. de Castro, Mr. Friedman, Ms. Witherspoon," Ambroselli said. "You’re all three visiting from-Vegas, is that right?" The three vampires, wearing identical approving smiles, nodded in chorus. "Mr. de Castro, you have a business in Las Vegas … Mr. Friedman is your assistant … and Ms. Witherspoon is your girlfriend." Her eyes went from Eric, Pam, and me to the Las Vegas trio, drawing a definite parallel.

"Right," Felipe said, as if he were encouraging a backward child.

Ambroselli gave him a look that told Felipe he was permanently on her shit list. She turned to the next trio.

"So, Mr. Rexford, Ms. Dodson, Ms. Bates. Tell me again how you came to be here? You met up with Mr. de Castro and his party in the bar of the Trifecta?"

"I been dating T-Rex here for a while," Cherie said. The massive wrestler put an arm around her. "And Viveca is my best buddy. We three were having a drink, and we met up with Felipe and his friends in the bar. We got to talking." She smiled to show off her dimples. "Felipe said they were coming over to visit Eric, here, and they invited us to come along."