Deadlocked (Page 25)

Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse #12)(25)
Author: Charlaine Harris

"And you came upon Mr. Northman in your bedroom, or at least the bedroom you customarily use, taking blood from another woman."

There was really nothing to say to that.

"Didn’t that make you really angry, Ms. Stackhouse?"

"No," I said. "I get anemic if he drinks from me too often." At least that part was the truth.

"So you’re not mad, even though he could get the same nourishment from a bottle?"

She just wasn’t going to stop. That was what you wanted in a cop, unless you had stuff to hide.

"I wasn’t happy," I said simply. "But I accepted it, like death and taxes. Comes with the territory when you’re dating a vampire." I shrugged, trying to imitate nonchalance.

"You were unhappy, and now she’s dead," Ambroselli said. She looked down at her notepad for dramatic effect. She thought we were all a bunch of lousy liars. "According to Ms. Dodson, she heard Ms. Ravenscroft threaten the victim."

Eric turned a dark blue gaze on Cherie Dodson, clearly visible through the glass of the enclosure. At the same moment, her wrestler friend, T-Rex, was looking at Cherie almost as unhappily as Eric. Though I had to stretch a little, I could get the gist of his thoughts. T-Rex knew what his girlfriend was saying to the police. Cherie’s disclosure didn’t accord with T-Rex’s code of ethics. Thad Rexford had a very interesting mind, and I would have liked to wander around in it a little longer, but Eric gripped my hand to give it what he thought was a gentle squeeze. I turned to look up at him with narrowed eyes. He could tell I was distracted, and he didn’t think my mind should be wandering.

"I advised the woman that she should leave town, yes," Pam said imperturbably. "I don’t think that was threatening her. If I’d wanted to threaten her, I’d have said, ‘I’ll rip your head from its neck.’"

Ambroselli took a deep breath. "Why did you tell her to leave town?"

"She had been insulting and insolent to Sookie, who is my friend, and Eric, who is my boss."

"What did she say that was so insulting?"

Probably I should answer this one. It would sound haughty coming from Pam. Of course, Pam was haughty. "She was pretty excited that Eric had taken blood from her." I shrugged. "She seemed to think that made her special. She wasn’t happy Eric told her to leave after I showed up. I guess she’d assumed that Eric’s taking blood from her meant he wanted to have sex with her, and she thought I would, you know, participate in that." This was hard to say, and it must have been unpleasant to hear, from the face the detective made.

"You didn’t feel that way, too?"

"Honestly, it was the equivalent of being insulted by a pork chop my boyfriend was eating," I said. And then I was smart enough to shut my mouth.

Eric smiled down at me. I would have given a lot to wipe that smile off his face. I took advantage of Ambroselli being distracted by her cell phone to smile back at Eric. He understood my expression well enough. His mouth straightened out. Over his shoulder, I could see that Bill looked unmistakably pleased.

"So, Ms. Ravenscroft, you told Kym Rowe to go, she left, and she died," Ambroselli said, by way of resuming the questioning. But she didn’t seem focused on Pam the way she had been, and I could see that she was preparing to move out.

"Yes, that’s right," Pam said. She’d read Ambroselli’s body language the same way I had, and she was eyeing the detective thoughtfully.

"Please stay where you are. I have to return to Mr. Northman’s place to check something out," Ambroselli said. She was on her feet, gathering up her shoulder bag. "Givens, make sure everyone stays here until I say they can go."

And just like that, she left.

Givens, a man with a starved, concave face, looked very unhappy. He called a few more people in-all men, I noticed-and assigned one to each batch of us. "If they need to go to the restroom, send someone with ’em, don’t let ’em go alone," he instructed the heavy guy in charge of our little group. "She’s the only one who should need to go," he added, pointing at me.

Bored, I turned my chair around to watch the Nevada vamps for a while. Felipe, Horst, and Angie seemed to have had a lot of experience with the police. They sat together in silence, though a little downturn to one corner of Felipe’s lips told me he was mighty displeased. As a king, he probably hadn’t been treated like an ordinary vampire in a long time-not that humans knew who or what he was, but ordinarily Felipe would have several layers of insulation between him and the regular pitfalls of the vampire world. If I had to pick a word to describe the king of Arkansas, Nevada, and Louisiana, that word would be "miffed."

He could hardly blame Eric for this turn of events. He might, anyway.

I switched my gaze to the human group in the glass-enclosed office. T-Rex was signing autographs for some of the uniforms. Cherie and Viveca were preening themselves, proud to be in such illustrious company. Under his air of just-a-good-ole-boy, T-Rex was bored. He would have been glad to be somewhere else. When the little cluster of cops dispersed, he pulled out his cell phone and called his manager. I couldn’t tell what they were talking about, but from his thoughts I could read that T-Rex couldn’t think of anyone else to call in the middle of the night. He was tired of conversation with his female companions, especially Cherie, who could not keep her mouth shut.

I spotted a familiar face among the cops going to and fro in the big room. "Hey, Detective Coughlin!" I said, oddly happy to see someone I knew. The middle-aged detective swung himself around, using his belly as a fixed point. His hair was shorter than ever, and a bit grayer.

"Miss Stackhouse," he said, coming over to us. "You found any more bodies?"

"No, sir," I said. "But a woman was found dead in the front yard of Eric’s place, and I was in the house." I jerked my head toward Eric, in case Coughlin didn’t know who he was. Pretty unlikely that a police officer in Shreveport wouldn’t know the city’s most prominent vampire, but it could happen.

"So, who you going with now, young lady?" Coughlin didn’t approve of me, but he didn’t hate me, either.

"Eric Northman," I said, and I realized I didn’t sound at all happy about that.

"Out with the furries and in with the coldies, huh?"

Eric had been talking to Pam in a very low voice, but now he turned to stare at me.

"I guess so." The first time I’d seen Detective Coughlin, I’d been with Alcide Herveaux. The second time, I’d been with Quinn the weretiger. They had been in their human forms then, and he hadn’t known their second identity since the two-natured hadn’t revealed their existence. By now he’d figured it out. Mike Coughlin might be slow and unimpressive, but he wasn’t stupid.