Deadlocked (Page 29)

Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse #12)(29)
Author: Charlaine Harris

If Mustapha had not been a Were, I would have sat on his chest until I read the answer in his brain. As it was, I could only get an impression of the turmoil in his head, and his grim resolution that he would survive no matter what. And he was consumed with worry for someone else. A name crossed his mind.

"Where’s Warren, Mustapha?" I asked. I leaned forward, trying to get a clearer read. I even reached toward him, but he flinched back.

Mustapha shook his head angrily. "Don’t even try, Sookie Stackhouse. That’s one of the things I can’t talk about. I didn’t have to come here at all. But I think you’re getting a raw deal, and you’re caught up in the middle of stuff you don’t know about."

Like that was a new situation for me.

Dermot was looking back and forth between us. He couldn’t decide how to act or what I wanted him to do.

Join the club, Dermot.

"You tell me what’s going on, and then I’d know what to be careful of," I suggested.

"This was a mistake," he said, looking down and shaking his head. "I’m going to find somewhere to hide while I look for Warren."

I thought of calling Eric, leaving a message telling him his day man was here. I’d keep Mustapha a prisoner until Eric could come fetch him. Or I could phone the police and tell them a material witness to a murder was sitting in my kitchen.

These plans passed through my head with great rapidity, and I considered each of them for a second. Then I thought, Who am I kidding? I’m not going to do any of those things. "You should go to Alcide," I said. "He’ll keep you safe if you pledge to the pack."

"But I’d have to face …"

"Jannalynn. I know. But that’ll be later. Alcide’ll keep you safe for now. I can call him." I held up my little phone.

"You got his cell number?"

"I do."

"You call him, Sookie. You tell him I’m trying to meet with him. You give him my cell number, and you tell him to call me when he’s by himself. And that’s a big thing. He has to be by himself."

"Why can’t you call him?"

"It’d be better if it came from you," he said, and that was all I could get him to say. "You got my cell number, right?"

"Sure."

"I’m leaving now."

"Tell me who killed that girl!" If I could have yanked the answer out of him with tweezers, I would have.

"You’d just be in more danger than you are now," he said, and then he was out of the room and onto his bike, and then he was gone.

This had all occurred with such speed that I felt as though the room were shivering after he left. Dermot and I stared at each other.

"I have no idea why he was here instead of in Shreveport where he belongs. I could have held him," Dermot said. "I was just waiting for a signal from you, Great-Niece."

"I appreciate that, Great-Uncle. I guess I felt like that just wasn’t the right thing to do," I muttered.

We sat there in silence for a moment. But I had to explain to Dermot about the night before.

"You want to know why Mustapha showed up here?" I asked, and he nodded, looking much more cheerful now that he was going to get some background. I launched into my narrative.

"No one knew her, and she hadn’t come with anyone?" He looked thoughtful.

"That’s what they all said."

"Then someone sent her, someone who knew there would be a party at Eric’s. Someone ensured she could walk in and not be challenged because there were strangers at the house. How did she get past the guard at the gate?"

These were all pertinent questions, and I added another one. "How could anyone know in advance that Eric wouldn’t be able to resist taking blood from her?" I sounded forlorn, and I could only hope I didn’t come across as self-pitying. Unhappiness will do that to you.

"Obviously she was selected because she had two-natured blood of some variety, and then she enhanced that with the smell of fairy. We know too well it’s enticing to the deaders. Since Mustapha’s phone call made you late and, therefore, Eric was more willing to yield to temptation," Dermot said, "Mustapha must have had some hand in what happened."

"Yeah. I figured that out." I wasn’t happy about this conclusion, but it fit the evidence.

"He may not have known what would happen as a result, but he must have gotten instructions from someone to make you late."

"But who? He’s a lone wolf. He doesn’t answer to Alcide."

"Someone has power over him," Dermot said reasonably. "Only someone with power over him could make a man like Mustapha betray Eric’s trust. He’s looking for his friend Warren. Would Warren have some reason to want Eric behind bars?"

Dermot was really operating on fully charged batteries today. I was having a hard time flogging my tired brain into keeping up with him.

"That’s the key, of course," I said. "His friend Warren. Warren himself would have no reason I can think of to want to harm Eric, who, after all, provides Mustapha’s livelihood. But I think Warren’s being used as a lever. Someone’s taken Warren, I think. They’re holding him to ensure they have Mustapha’s cooperation. I need to think about all this," I said, yawning with a jaw-cracking noise. "But right now I just have to sleep some more. You going over to Hooligans?"

"Later," he said.

I looked at him, thinking of all the questions he’d never answered about the strange accumulation of the fae at a remote strip club in Louisiana. Claude had always told me it was because they’d all been left out when Niall closed the portals. But how had they known where to come, and what was their purpose in remaining in Monroe? Now was not the time to ask, since I was too exhausted to process his answers-if he would give me any. "Okay then, I’m taking a nap," I said. It was Sunday, and Merlotte’s was closed. "Just let the answering machine take the calls, if you don’t mind." I switched the ringer volume down even further on the kitchen phone and would do the same in the bedroom.

I took my cell phone into my bedroom and called Alcide. He didn’t answer, but I left him a message. Then I plugged in my cell phone to charge. I dragged my weary body into my bedroom. I didn’t even take off my clothes. I fell over the bed and fell asleep.

I woke two hours later feeling like something a cat spit up. I rolled onto my side to look out the window. The light had changed. The air conditioner was fighting the afternoon’s worst heat, which shimmered in the air outside. I sat up to look out the window at the dry grass. We needed rain.

More random thoughts floated through my muzzy head. I wondered how Tara was doing. I didn’t know what "effaced" meant. I wondered what had happened to Mr. Cataliades. He was my "sponsor," apparently the otherworldly equivalent of a godparent. I’d last seen the (mostly) demon lawyer running through my yard being chased by gray streaks from Hell.