Deadlocked (Page 76)

Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse #12)(76)
Author: Charlaine Harris

They were disappointed in me, I could tell.

When the phone rang again, I picked it up without bothering to turn down the sound on the TV.

"Sookie?" said a familiar voice.

I pressed the Off button on the remote. "Alcide, how is Warren?"

"He’s much better. I think he’s gonna be fine. Listen, I need you and Sam to come to the old farm tonight."

"Your dad’s place?"

"Yeah. Your presence was requested."

"By whom?"

"By Jannalynn."

"You found her?"


"But Sam, too? She wants Sam?"

"Yeah. She deceived him, too. He has a right to be there."

"Did you call him?"

"He’s on his way to pick you up."

"Do I have to?" I said.

"You whining, Sookie?"

"Yeah, I guess I am, Alcide. I’m mighty tired, and more bad stuff has happened than you know."

"I can’t take any more than I have on my plate. Just come. If it makes you want to attend this little soiree more, your honey’s gonna be there."


"Yeah. The King of Cold himself."

Fear and longing rippled along my skin. "Okay," I said. "I’ll come."

By the time I heard Sam’s truck in the driveway, the lack of sleep I’d experienced the night before was hitting me in a major way. I’d spent the minutes I’d waited by refreshing my memory about the route to Alcide’s family place, and I’d written the directions out. When Sam knocked on the door, I stuck the paper in my purse. We were going to be walking around a farm at night; I’d want to leave my purse in the car. I made certain the cluviel dor was still in my pocket and I felt the now-familiar curved shape.

Sam’s face was grim and hard, and it felt wrong to see him that way.

We didn’t talk on the way to the farm.

I had to turn on Sam’s overhead light from time to time to read my directions, but I was able to steer us right. I think the preoccupation with actually getting there helped keep us from worrying too much about what we’d see when we arrived.

We found a mess of cars parked higgledy-piggledy in the front yard of the old farmhouse. To call it "remote" was to be kind. Though there was more cleared land around it than there had ever been at my place, it was even more private. No one lived here full time any longer. Alcide’s dad’s dad had owned the farm, and Jackson Herveaux had kept it after he’d gone into construction so he’d have a place to run at the full moon. The pack had used it often. The front of the house was dark, but I could hear voices around the back. Sam and I trudged through the high weeds. We didn’t say a word to each other.

We might as well have walked into another country.

The meadow behind the house was mowed and smooth. There were lights up. I could see from posts that normally there was a volley-ball net set up across a sand court. A few yards away, there was a pool that looked new. I even spotted a baseball diamond farther back. A Weber grill was under the covered patio. Clearly, this was where the pack came to relax and have fellowship.

I saw the tall and quiet Kandace first. She smiled at me and pointed to Alcide, who stood out among his people as much as Niall did among his. Tonight Alcide looked like a king. A king in jeans and a T-shirt, a barefoot king. And he looked dangerous. The power gathered around him. The air was humming with the magic of the pack.

Good. We needed more tension.

Eric shone like the moon; he was pale and commanding, and there was a large empty space around him. He was alone. He held out his hand to me, and I took it, to a flare of dismay from the twoeys.

"You know, about Jannalynn and Claude?" I looked up at him.

"Yes, I know. Niall sent me a message."

"He’s gone. They’ve all gone."

"He told me I would not hear from him again."

I nodded and gulped. No more crying. "So what’s going to happen tonight?"

"I don’t know what we’re here to see," he said. "An execution? A duel? With the wolves, I can’t predict."

Sam was standing by himself, just under the awning over the patio. Alcide went up to him and spoke, and Sam shrugged, then nodded. He stepped out to stand by Alcide.

I looked around at the faces of the pack members. They were all restless because of the night and because of the promise of violence in the air. There was going to be bleeding tonight.

Alcide raised an arm, and four figures were led from the back of the house. Their hands were bound. Van, Plump, the bandaged Airman (Laidlaw, Mustapha had called him), and Jannalynn. I didn’t know where they’d caught up with her, but her face was bruised. She’d put up a fight, which was no surprise at all.

Then I saw Mustapha. He’d blended with the darkness. He was magnificently nude. Warren was in the shadows behind him, huddled in a folding lawn chair. He was too far away for me to get a good look at him.

Mustapha had a sword. Too many of those in my life these days, I thought, feeling Eric’s cold hand tightening on mine.

"We are here to judge tonight," Alcide said. "We’ve had to judge members all too often lately. The pack has been full of dissension and disloyalty. Tonight I require all of you to renew your oaths, and tonight I say that the penalty for breaking them is death."

The werewolves drew in breath sharply, collectively, like a single quiet scream. I looked around. Werewolfism manifests itself along with puberty, so none of the faces were younger than early teens, but that was young enough to make their presence shocking.

"After the judgments are rendered tonight, anyone who likes can challenge me on this spot," Alcide said. His face was savage. "No candidate has announced against me, but if anyone would like to win here and now, without a ceremony, you’re welcome to try single combat. Prepare yourself to fight to the death."

Everyone was frozen in place now. This was not at all like the packmaster challenge I’d seen before, the one in which Alcide’s father had died. That had been a formal, ceremonial contest. Alcide himself had succeeded to the position when his father’s challenger, Patrick Furnan, had died fighting side by side with Alcide against a common enemy. Packmaster by acclamation, I guess you’d term it. Tonight Alcide was throwing down the gauntlet to every wolf present. It was a big gamble.

"Now for judgment," Alcide said, when he had looked into the face of every pack member.

The prisoners were pushed forward to land on their knees in the sand of the volleyball court. Roy, the Were who was dating Palomino, seemed to be in charge of the miscreants.

"The three rogues I had turned down for admission into the pack acted against us," Alcide said in a voice that carried across the yard. "They abducted Warren, the friend of Mustapha, who in turn is a friend-though not a member-of this pack. If he hadn’t been found in time, Warren would have died."