"So you’re with the party that came in with T-Rex?" he asked.
I wasn’t used to the humans being more interesting than the vampires. I smiled. "Yes, I met him tonight at Eric’s."
"You ever see him wrestle?"
"No. He’s a big guy, huh?"
"Yeah, and he does a lot for the community, too. He takes toys to the kids in the hospital at Christmas and Easter."
So, though T-Rex was not a wereanimal, he was two-faced. One side of him did community service and helped area charities raise money. The other side of him hit opponents upside the head with chairs and made out with women on other people’s dining room tables.
Mike Coughlin said, "If they rope me in to help question, I’ll ask for you."
"Thanks," I said, wondering if that was really anything to smile about. "But I hope I’m through with questions."
He went off to have a closer look at Thad Rexford. Pam, Eric, Bill, and I sat together without exchanging a word.
Vampires are super at silence. They just go into motionless vampire mode. You would swear they were statues, they get so still. I don’t know what they think about when they do this; maybe they don’t think at all, but just switch themselves off. It’s almost impossible for a human to do this. I guess deep meditation would be the closest state a breather could achieve, and I am no practitioner of meditation, deep or shallow.
After a while, during which nothing much happened at all, Detective Coughlin came over to tell us we could go. He gave no explanation. Eric didn’t request one. I had been on the point of asking if I could curl up under someone’s desk. I was too tired to summon the energy to be resentful at our treatment.
Pam whipped out her cell phone to call Fangtasia so someone would pick us up. Dawn wasn’t far away; Felipe and his party wanted to go directly to their vampire-safe rooms at the Trifecta, and the Shreveport vamps didn’t want to wait on a human cab.
While we were standing outside waiting on our ride, the three vampires turned to me. "What was it the man on the telephone was telling Cara Ambroselli?" Pam asked. "What did they find?"
"They found a little glass vial, like florists stick individual flowers in?"
The vampires looked puzzled. I measured one off with my fingers. "Just big enough for one flower stem to soak in water," I said. "The vial may have had a stopper on it, but they didn’t find that. The vial was on the ground underneath her. They think it had been tucked in her bra. It had traces of blood."
They all considered that. "I’ll bet you a demon’s dick that she had a bit of fairy blood in it," Pam said. "She came into the house somehow, and when she got close to Eric, she uncorked the little vial and made herself irresistible."
"Except he could have resisted," I muttered, but they all ignored me. "And if that’s what happened, where is the stopper?"
We were all too tired to talk about this interesting development any further; at least, I was, and the other three didn’t.
In five minutes, Palomino showed up in a candy-apple-red Mustang. She was wearing the uniform the female waitstaff wore at the Trifecta, and there wasn’t much to it. I was too sleepy to ask her when she’d begun working at the casino. I climbed into the backseat with Bill, while Pam sat in Eric’s lap in the passenger front seat. We didn’t even discuss the seating.
Eric broke the silence by asking Palomino if anyone had heard from Mustapha.
The young vamp glanced over at him. Her hair was like corn silk and her skin was like milky caramel. The unusual combination had earned her the nickname, and that was the only thing I knew to call her. I had no idea what had been written on her birth certificate.
"No, Master. No one has seen or heard from Mustapha."
Bill silently took my hand. I silently let him. In the heat, his hand felt pleasantly cool.
"Everything all right at the club?" Eric said. "At least, as far as you know."
"Yes, Master. I heard there was one disagreement, but Thalia settled it."
"How big was the bill for this settling?"
"A broken arm, a broken leg."
Thalia was ancient, incredibly strong, and notoriously short on patience.
"Not this time."
"Indira and Maxwell Lee kept an eye on things?"
"Maxwell Lee says so," Palomino said cautiously.
Eric laughed; not a big laugh, but something in the chuckle range. "Damned with faint praise," he said.
Indira and Maxwell, who lived and worked in Eric’s sheriffdom, Area Five, were required to put in so many hours a month at the bar so Fangtasia could boast that every night there were real vampires in the club. That was the big draw for the tourists. While Indira and Maxwell (and most of the other Area Five vamps) were dutiful about their bar appearances, they were not enthusiastic.
Palomino and Eric might have solved the mysteries of the universe during the rest of their conversation, but I didn’t hear their conclusions. I fell asleep. When we arrived at Eric’s, Bill had to help me scramble out of the backseat. Palomino pulled away the instant Bill slammed the door. Pam quickly got into her own car for the short drive to her house, casting an anxious glance at the sky as she backed out of the driveway.
If a crime-scene team had been at the house, its job was finished. We had to enter through the garage door, since there was tape around the place where Kym had lain. I trudged into the house, so groggy I was only partly aware of what was going on around me.
Bill didn’t have time to get back to Bon Temps, so he was going to take one of the fiberglass "guest" pods that Eric kept in the second upstairs bedroom. He headed toward the back of the house immediately, leaving Eric and me by ourselves. I looked around me in a dazed way. The kitchen had an array of dirty bottles and glasses by the sink, but I noticed that the garbage bag was gone. The police must have taken it.
I told Eric, "Mustapha had that door open when I came in," and I pointed to the door onto the backyard patio. Without a word, Eric went over to the door. It was unlocked. He took care of that while I started across the living room. It wasn’t too disordered since Felipe, Horst, and Angie had neatened it, but still its disheveled state disturbed me. I began straightening chairs and gathering up the few remaining bottles and glasses to take to the kitchen.
"Leave it be, Sookie," Eric said.
I froze. "I know this isn’t my house," I said, "but this mess just looks so nasty. I’d hate to get up to face this."
"The issue is not ownership of the house. The issue is that you are exhausted and yet you feel compelled to do the maids’ job. I hope you’re spending the rest of the night? I would feel uneasy if you drove back, as tired as you must be."