Had Amelia gotten back from France yet? What were Claude and Niall up to in Faery? What did it look like there? Maybe the trees looked like peacock feathers and everyone wore sequins.
I checked my phone. I hadn’t heard from Alcide. I called again, but it went right to voice mail. I left a message on Bill’s cell to tell him that Mustapha had made an appearance. After all, he was the Area Five investigator.
Though I’d showered at Eric’s that morning, that seemed like a week ago, so I got under the water again. Then I pulled on old denim shorts and a white T-shirt and flip-flops and went out in the yard with my wet hair hanging down my back. I positioned the chaise perfectly to keep my body in the shadow of the house while my hair was trailing over the end in the light because I liked the way it smelled when I let it dry in the sun. Dermot’s car was gone. The yard and house were empty. The only background noises were the ever-present sounds of nature going about its business: birds, bugs, and an occasional breeze fluttering the leaves in a lazy way.
It was peaceful.
I tried to think of mundane things: a possible date for Jason and Michele’s wedding, what I needed to do at Merlotte’s tomorrow, how low on propane my tank might be. Things I could actually solve with a phone call or a pad and pencil. Since my car was in my line of sight, I noticed that one of my tires looked a little soft. I should get Wardell at the tire place to check my pressure. It had been wonderful to shower without worrying about having enough hot water; that was the upside to Claude’s absence.
It was good to think about things that weren’t supernatural.
In fact, it was blissful.
When it was dark, my phone rang. Of course, that wasn’t until after eight, this far into the summer. I’d had a very pleasant few hours all by myself. "Pleasant" didn’t mean a positive good to me anymore: It meant an absence of bad. I had done a little straightening in the kitchen, read a little, turned on the television just to have voices in the background. Nice. Not exciting. I’d had enough exciting.
I hadn’t checked my e-mail all day, and I’d considered giving it a pass for a couple more days. I found I didn’t really want to answer the phone, either. But I’d left messages for both Alcide and Bill. On the third ring, I yielded to habit and picked it up. "Yes?" I said.
"Sookie, I’m on my way over to see you," Eric said.
See, I knew there’d been a good reason for not answering. "No," I said. "I don’t think so." There was a little silence. Eric was as surprised as I was.
"Is this a punishment for last night?" he asked.
"For drinking from another woman when I was present? No, I think I have that issue squared away."
"Then … what? You really don’t want to see me?"
"Not tonight. I do want to say a couple of things to you, though."
"By all means." He sounded stiff and offended, which wasn’t any surprise. He could deal with it.
"If Bill is still the Area Five investigator …"
"He is." Cautious.
"Then he needs to get to work, don’t you think? He could take Heidi with him, since she’s supposed to be such a great tracker. How did Kym Rowe get past the guard? Unless someone bribed the guard-and it was a guy I didn’t know-it’s possible Kym came up from the gate at the back of your yard, right? Maybe Bill and Heidi could discover how she got there. Plus, I need to talk to Bill about something."
"That’s a good idea." He was thawing out. Or at least he wasn’t dwelling on the offense he’d taken.
"I’m full of ’em," I said, feeling anything but clever. "Also. How did Felipe know all about the death of Victor?"
"None of my vampires would say a word," Eric said with absolute certainty. "Colton is still in the area, but Immanuel has gone to the West Coast. You would not tell anyone. Mustapha’s friend Warren, who acted as our cleanup man …"
"None of them would speak. Warren wouldn’t say boo to a goose if Mustapha didn’t tell him to." I thought so, anyway. I didn’t really know much about Warren, who wasn’t big on talking. I was just about to tell Eric that Mustapha had appeared in my kitchen when he continued, "We should have taken care of Colton and Immanuel."
Did Eric mean the vampires should have killed the human survivors of that vicious brawl, even if they’d fought on Eric’s side? Or was he simply implying he should have done a preemptive glamour, erasing their memories? I closed my eyes. I thought of my own humanity and vulnerability, though glamouring had never worked on me.
Time to move on to another subject before I lost my temper. "Do you know why Felipe is really here? Cause you know it’s not because of Victor, or at least only partly because of Victor."
"Don’t discount his need to discipline me for Victor’s death," Eric said. "But you’re right, he’s got another agenda. I realized that last night." Eric grew more guarded. "Or at least, I became surer of it."
"So you already know this secret agenda, and you’re not telling me."
"We’ll talk about it later."
Of course I should have told him about Mustapha’s visit, but I lost my remaining patience. "Uh-huh. Right." I hung up. I looked down at my hand, a bit stunned at my own action.
I spotted the little bundle of mail and the newspaper on the counter. Earlier in the day, I had walked down the driveway in the bright sunshine to retrieve the previous day’s mail and the daily Shreveport newspaper from their respective boxes on Hummingbird Road. Now I sat down to read the paper. On the front page I discovered that Kym Rowe had been twenty-four, she had been from Minden, and (after looking at the picture of her accompanying the main article) I wasn’t surprised to read she’d recently been fired from her job as an exotic dancer for assaulting a customer.
That must have been a hell of a night at that strip club.
The cause of Kym’s death, according to the paper, had been a broken neck. Quick, quiet, requiring only strength and the element of surprise. That was why, even in that quiet neighborhood, no one had heard her scream … not even Bill, with his vampire hearing. Or so he said. Kym Rowe, I discovered, had good reason to have a short temper.
"Rowe was desperate for money. ‘She was behind on her car payments, and her landlord was about to evict her,’ Oscar Rowe, the victim’s father, said. ‘She was doing crazy things to earn money.’" That was the short and sad story of the life of Kym Rowe. One thing stood out: She’d had nothing to lose.
Of course, much was made of the fact that she’d been found on the lawn of a "prominent vampire businessman and his party guests." Eric and his uninvited company were in for a hard time with the publicity machine. There was at least one picture of T-Rex in his wrestling costume. The words "bulging" and "manic" came to mind. I turned to the inside page where the article continued. Kym’s grieving parents were posed clutching a Bible and a bouquet of daisies, which they said had been Kym’s favorite flower. Though I chided myself for my snobbishness, they didn’t look like much.