"Sookie." He moved closer. Even when I knew he was there, I couldn’t hear him. Vampires can be so quiet.
"I guess you heard my visitor?" I said.
"Yes. Found what was left of the deer. Elf?"
"Bellenos. You’ve met him."
"The guy who took the heads? Yeah. Dermot is home?"
"You really shouldn’t be alone with Bellenos." Bill, a serious guy, sounded very grim indeed when he said this.
"I don’t intend to be. Dermot will take him back to Monroe, either tonight or tomorrow morning. Eric call you tonight?"
"Yeah. I’m going to Shreveport in an hour. I’m meeting Heidi there." He hesitated for a moment. "I understand she still has a living relative."
"Her son in Nevada. He’s a drug addict, I believe."
"To have living flesh of your flesh. It must be a very strange feeling to be able to talk to your immediate kin. This age of vampires is so much different from that when I was turned. I can hardly believe that I now know my great-great-great-grandchildren."
Bill’s maker had ordered him out of Bon Temps and even out of the state for a long time, so he wouldn’t be recognized by his wife and children or his local acquaintances. That was the old way.
I noted the wistfulness in his voice. "I don’t think it’s been very healthy for Heidi to keep in touch with her son," I said. "She’s younger than he is, now, and …" Then I shut up. The rest of the sad story was Heidi’s to tell.
"Several days ago, Danny Prideaux came to me to ask if he can be my daytime man," Bill said suddenly, and after a moment I understood that Bill was thinking of human connections.
So that was Danny’s big secret. "Huh. He already has a part-time job at the lumberyard."
"With two jobs, he thinks he can ask his young woman to marry him."
"Oh, wow! Danny’s gonna ask Kennedy to marry him? That’s wonderful. You know who he’s dating? Kennedy, who works behind the bar at Merlotte’s?"
"The one who killed her boyfriend." Bill seemed displeased by this bit of information.
"Bill, the guy was beating her. And she served her jail time. Not that you have any room to talk. You hired him?"
Bill looked a little abashed. "I agreed to a trial period. I don’t have enough work for a full-time person, but it would be very pleasant to have a part-time helper. I wouldn’t have to ask you for help all the time, which I’m sure is inconvenient for you."
"I haven’t minded making the occasional phone call," I said. "But I know you’d like to have someone you don’t have to keep thanking. I wish Danny’d tell Kennedy what he’s up to. Not knowing is making her have all kinds of bad thoughts about him."
"If they’re going to have a real relationship, she has to learn to trust him." Bill gave me an enigmatic look and melted back into the trees.
"I trust people when they’ve proved they’re trustworthy," I muttered, and went back in the house. The kitchen was empty. Sounded like Bellenos and Dermot had gone upstairs to watch television; I caught the faint sound of a laugh track. I climbed halfway up the stairs, intending to suggest that Bellenos move his own clothes from the washer to the dryer, but I paused when I heard them talking during a commercial break.
"It’s called Two and a Half Men," Dermot was telling his guest.
"I understand," Bellenos said. "Because the two brothers are grown, and the son isn’t."
"I think so," Dermot said. "Don’t you think the son is useless?"
"The half? Yes. At home, we’d eat him," Bellenos said.
I turned right around, sure I could put the clothes into the dryer myself. "Sookie, did you need us?" Dermot called. I might have known he’d hear me.
"Just tell Bellenos that I’m putting his clothes in the dryer, but he’s responsible for getting them out. I think they’ll be dry in …" I made some hasty calculations. "Probably forty-five minutes. I’m going to bed now." Though I’d had the nap, I was beginning to drag.
I barely waited to hear Dermot say, "He’ll get them," before I hurried to the back porch to toss the wet clothes into the dryer. Then I went into my bedroom, shut the door, and locked it.
If the rest of the fae were as casual about cannibalism as the elf, Claude couldn’t come back soon enough to suit me.
Cara Ambroselli called me first thing Monday morning, which was not a great way to start the week.
"I need you to come to the station so I can ask a few more questions," she said, and she sounded so brisk and awake that I could easily dislike her.
"I’ve told you everything I know," I said, trying to sound alert.
"We’re going over everything again," she said. "I know you’re as anxious as we all are to find out who caused this poor woman’s death."
There was only one possible response. "I’ll be there in a couple of hours," I said, trying not to sound sullen. "I’ll have to ask my boss if I can be late to work."
That really wasn’t going to be an issue since I was scheduled to work the later shift, but I was grumpy enough to drag my heels. I did call Jason to tell him where I was going, because I think someone always needs to know where you are if you’re going into a police station.
"That’s no good, Sis," he said. "You need a lawyer?"
"No, but I’m taking a number with me just in case," I said. I looked at the front of the refrigerator until I spotted the "Osiecki and Hilburn" business card. I made sure my cell phone was charged. Just to cover all kinds of crises, I put the cluviel dor into my purse.
I drove to Shreveport without noticing the blue skies, the shimmering heat, the big mowers, the eighteen-wheelers. I was in a grim mood, and I wondered how career criminals managed. I was not cut out for a life of crime, I decided, though the past few years had held enough mayhem to last me till I was using a walker. I hadn’t had anything to do with the death of Kym Rowe, but I’d been involved in sufficient bad stuff to make me nervous when I came under official scrutiny.
Police stations are not happy places at the best of times. If you’re a telepath with a guilty conscience, this unhappiness is just about doubled.
The heavy woman on the bench in the waiting room was thinking about her son, who was in a cell in the building. He’d been arrested for rape. It wasn’t the first time. The man ahead of me was picking up a police report about an accident he’d been in; his arm was in a sling, and he was in a fair amount of pain. Two men sat silently side by side, their elbows on their knees, their heads hung. Their sons had been arrested for beating another boy to death.