"Your boyfriend doing well?" Alcide asked.
I came back to the here and now. "Eric’s always well."
"Find out how that girl got into the house? The gal that got killed?"
"You-all don’t want any dessert? Let me get your check." Of course I had it ready, but I needed to create a little bustle in the air, get them moving. Sure enough, Alcide had pulled his wallet out of his pocket by the time I got back. Roy had gone to the bar to talk to one of the men who worked at the lumber mill. Apparently they’d gone to high school together.
When I bent over to put the check by Alcide, I inhaled his scent. It was a little sad to remember how attractive I’d found him when I first met him, how I’d allowed myself to daydream that this handsome and hardworking man might be my soul mate.
But it hadn’t worked out then, and now it never would. Too much water had passed under that particular bridge. Alcide was getting deeper and deeper into his Were culture, and further and further away from the fairly normal human life he’d managed to live until his father’s disastrous attempt to become packmaster.
He was scenting me, too. Our eyes met. We both looked a little sad.
I wanted to say something to him, something sincere and meaningful, but under the circumstances I really couldn’t imagine what to say.
And the moment slid by. He handed me some bills and told me he didn’t need any change, and Roy slapped his buddy on the back and returned to the table, and they prepared to go back out into the heat of the day to drive to another job in Minden on their way back to the home office in Shreveport.
After they left, I began to bus their table because I didn’t have anything else to do. There were hardly any customers, and I figured D’Eriq was taking the opportunity to slip out back to have a smoke or listen to his iPod.
My cell phone vibrated in my apron pocket, and I whipped it out, hoping that it was news about Tara. But it was Sam, calling from his cell.
"What’s up, boss?" I asked. "Everything’s fine, here."
"Good to know, but not why I called," he said. "Sookie, this morning Jannalynn and I went down to Splendide to make a payment on a table she’s buying." Sam had been the one who’d recommended Splendide to me when I’d cleaned out the attic. It still seemed strange to me that the young Jannalynn was an antiques fan.
"Okay," I said when Sam paused. "So, what’s going on at Splendide?" That I need to know?
"It got broken into last night," he said, sounding oddly hesitant.
"Sorry to hear that," I said, still not getting the importance to me of this situation. "Ah … her table okay?"
"The things you sold to Brenda and Donald … those things were dismantled on the spot, or taken."
I pulled out a chair and sat down in it abruptly.
It was lucky no one was waiting for service for the next few minutes while Sam told me everything he knew about the break-in. Nothing he told me was illuminating. A few little items that had been in the display cases had been grabbed, too. "I don’t know if you sold them anything small or not," Sam said.
"Was other stuff taken? Or just mine?"
"I think enough else was gone to kind of camouflage that the targeted stuff had come from your attic," he said, very quietly. I knew other people were around him. "I just noticed because Brenda and Donald pointed out your pieces to show me how they’d cleaned them."
"Thanks for letting me know," I said, strictly on autopilot. "I’ll talk to you later, Sam." I shut my phone and kept to my seat for a moment, thinking furiously.
Danny was talking so earnestly to Kennedy that I could tell he’d finally told her why he’d been out of her sight lately. She leaned across the bar and kissed him. I made myself get up to carry the bin of dirty dishes back to the kitchen. Behind me, the door swung open. I looked over my shoulder to check on the size of the party and got yet another unpleasant surprise.
Bellenos was standing in the doorway. I glanced around quickly, but no one-not that there were more than five people in the big room-seemed to be paying the elf any attention. They were not seeing the same creature I was seeing.
Bellenos, who looked very strange in regular human clothes (when he was being himself, I’d seen him in a sort of kilt and a one-shouldered T-shirt), looked around Merlotte’s, slowly and warily. When he didn’t spot anything threatening, he glided over to me, his slanting dark eyes full of mischief. "Sister," he said. "How are you today?" He showed his needle teeth in a big smile.
"I’m good," I said. I had to be very wary. "How’re you?"
"Happy to be out of that building in Monroe," he said. "I see you are not busy. Can we sit and talk?"
"Yes," I said. "Let me clear this table." I was sorry that didn’t take longer to do. By the time I sat down with the elf warrior, I was no closer to having a good idea about how to handle this visit than I had been the moment Bellenos walked in. I pulled out a chair to his right. I wanted to talk in a low voice, because I certainly didn’t want anyone to overhear our conversation, but I also wanted to keep an eye on the few people in the room.
In the fae way, Bellenos took my hand. I wanted to snatch it back, but there wasn’t any point in offending him. The bones stood out so much that his hand hardly looked human-which, of course, it wasn’t. It was pale, freckled, and very strong.
Past his shoulder, I saw Kennedy glance our way. She shook a playful finger at me. She thought I was flirting with someone besides Eric. I gave her a stiff smile. Ha. Ha.
"There are too many of us crowded under one roof at Hooligans," Bellenos said.
"Claude is a leader. Dermot is not."
I nodded again, just to show I was following his conversation. He wasn’t voicing any new ideas, so far.
"If you have any means of reaching Niall, now is the time to make use of it."
"I would if I could. I don’t have any such secret." His slanting eyes were a bit disturbing close up.
"Is that the truth?" An auburn eyebrow rose.
"The truthful answer is that I really don’t have any certain means of contacting Niall," I said flatly. "I’m not completely sure I would get in touch with him, if I had the ability."
Bellenos nodded thoughtfully. "The fairy prince is capricious," he said.
"That’s for damn sure." Finally, we were in agreement.
"I’m sorry that you can’t help," Bellenos said. "I hope nothing worse happens."
"Like what?" Did I really want to know?
"Like more fights breaking out." He shrugged. "Like one of us leaving the bar to have some fun amongst the humans."