I sat down on one of the couches and realized how underdressed I was. The ladies and Gran were all dressed finely, while I was barefoot and wearing an old Harvard t-shirt and yoga pants.
“Don’t worry about your attire” quickly said Mrs. Rochon. “I for one also love to lounge in my house in loose pants and my dear husband’s old plaid shirt.”
They were a funny bunch of ladies, Gran’s friends.
“Does Bud have any leads on who might have killed those sweet young girls?” asked Gran.
Sweet young girl… That’s so not the words I would have used to describe Dawn Green, but then again I had a privileged access to her mind.
“No” answered Mrs. Hebert, stirring her cup of tea.
“I don’t know for y’all ladies, and especially you young Sookie, but I don’t feel very safe in our good old Bon Temps anymore” sighed Mrs. Belanger.
Mrs. Norris dropped her tea cup on the coffee table and shook her head.
“Bud Dearborn better find out who’s responsible for those crimes! My husband doesn’t pay him to do nothing!”
“If they don’t find out who did it, Bud Dearborn can say goodbye to my Red Velvet cake for his re-election’s rally!”
From what I gathered from everybody’s minds, Mrs. Miller’s Red Velvet was the best cake in all Renard Parish. I poured myself a cup of tea and listened to the dear old ladies chatting away.
“Tell us, Sookie dear” said Mrs. Hebert, “do you have a beau?”
I smiled awkwardly. Did I have a beau? Could we consider what was between Eric and me as a potential romantic relationship?
“You can tells us, little girl” said Mrs. Belanger.
“Jeannine is right, Sookie dear, we’re not a bunch of old gossips like that Maxine Fortenberry” explained Mrs. Norris. “I don’t even know why we’re all still socializing with her.”
“That’s because of her poor dear boy, Violet” explained Gran.
“You are right Adele, and didn’t Maxine go to school with your younger sister, Lucille?” asked Mrs. Rochon.
Mrs. Miller nodded.
“And she was in the same class as your younger brother if I’m not wrong, Elizabeth, and wasn’t she after your nephew at one time, Aurora?”
Violet Norris, Jeannine Belanger, Aurora Hebert, Lucille Miller, Elizabeth Rochon and Adele Stackhouse might not be a bunch of gossips ala Maxine Fortenberry, but they sure loved to hear about said gossips!
“So, dear Sookie, is there a young man who makes your heart flutter?”
I was quite flabbergasted.
“Or did you left a broken heart in Boston?” asked Mrs. Norris.
I looked at Gran who smiled at me.
“She does have a beau, Violet. And he’s here, in Louisiana. You must all have heard Maxine gossiping about my supposed beau…”
“The big, tall, blond one who comes for Sunday night dinner?” asked Mrs. Hebert.
“The one that came for dear Corbett’s, may he rest in peace, wake?” then asked Mrs. Rochon.
“I thought he was married with that blond woman he came with… Wasn’t he with his teenage son as well?”
I had to try hard not to laugh at Mrs. Norris’ description of both Pam and Godric.
“Are you one of those jaguar women, Adele?”
“It’s cougar, Jeannine! Not jaguar, cougar” explained Mrs. Miller.
Gran laughed. “No… No, there’s absolutely nothing between dear Eric and I.”
“So, he’s young Sookie’s beau, then!” exclaimed Mrs. Belanger with delight.
“Where is he from?”
“Is he from the South?”
“Does he have any brothers?”
They were throwing questions at both Gran and I, and it was starting to make me dizzy. Mrs. Norris silenced them all before turning toward me.
“Tell us more about him. Does he have a good job?”
“Well… He’s what you would call… an entrepreneur? He owns several successful businesses.”
“Is he from around here or did you met him in Boston?”
“He’s originally from Sweden. But he’s been living in the States for a while now. He’s established in Shreveport.”
“Did your father approved of him? Assuming Corbett met him, of course.”
Did my father approved of Eric? Yes, he was one of his best friends, but as a potential ‘suitor’ to his daughter?
“Corbett sure approved of Eric” finally said Gran. “And most importantly I approve of him. He’s like a grandson to me. ”
“You said he was a successful entrepreneur, Sookie dear, but he sure looks young for being one!”
I smiled at Mrs. Miller. They were in for quite a bombshell.
“Eric is older than he seems, Mrs. Miller. He’s quite old actually.”
“Then give me the name of his plastic surgeon, sweetheart, cause he sure doesn’t look a day older than 30!”
“Well, Mrs. Rochon, when Eric was a young man in Sweden he was a Viking.”
The five ladies frowned.
“Was he working in one of those theme parks? Like the Civil War one we visited last year?” asked Mrs. Hebert.
Mrs. Hebert was so sweet and naive. I really liked her.
“No, Aurora. Eric was a Viking. As in a contemporary of Leif Erikson.”
“I don’t understand, Adele…”
Mrs. Norris clearly had enough of the cluelessness of her friend.
“What Adele and young Sookie are trying to explain, Rory, is that this Eric is a vampire! And quite an old one, if I may say.”
Mrs. Hebert let out a gasp before smiling brightly. The questions once again started and again I got dizzy.
“Is it true what they say about vampire, little girl?” asked Mrs. Rochon. “That they have quite the sexual stamina?”
“Elizabeth Rochon!” exclaimed Mrs. Miller.
“What? I’m just asking! Young Sookie doesn’t have to answer if she doesn’t want to.”
I let a small laugh.
“I wouldn’t know, Mrs. Rochon. Eric and I are quite in the early state of our relationship, if you can call it that.”
“Waiting until your wedding night, little girl?”
If only Mrs. Belanger had known about my dream last night and how I woke up this morning. The subject quickly changed tothe ladies old beaux and their past relationships. Apparently both my grandfather Earl and Mayor Norris had fought for Gran’s affection before grandpa finally won her heart and Mrs. Norris came back from her finishing school in Savannah. We were nearly finishing up our second tray of Mrs. Rochon’s scones when the front door opened on a very excited and out of breath Maxine Fortenberry.
“Didn’t your mother ever teach you that it was polite to knock and wait until someone open the door, Maxine Fortenberry?” said Mrs. Norris, a bit haughty, but oh so true.
“They’re going to regret turning their backs at me once I tell them… Adele Stackhouse, get ready to fall off your pedestal!”
“Oh my… You haven’t heard yet?”
“Heard what, Maxine?” asked Mrs. Rochon, rolling her eyes.
“Well… it’s all over town!”
“If it’s about Dawn Green” started Mrs. Miller, “then yes, we know all about it. Violet is after all the Mayor’s wife and Aurora and Elizabeth are both Caroline Bellefleur’s neighbours.”
A creepy smiled appeared on Mrs. Fortenberry’s face.
“Dawn Green? That’s old news! I’m talking about your grandson, Adele!”
Gran quickly grabbed my hands.
“What about Jason, Maxine?”
“Don’t let the poor woman wait, for Heaven’s sake! Tell her what this is all about! Don’t stand there and gloat at her misery.”
“Your husband might be mayor of Bon Temps, Violet Robillard, but that doesn’t mean you are superior!”
“No, what makes me superior to you, Maxine, is my lack of crass and vulgarity.”
“Will you both stop it!” nearly yelled Mrs. Hebert. “Now Maxine, will you put poor dear Adele out of her misery…”
“Your grandson was arrested for the murders of Maudette Pickens and Dawn Green!”
My heart stopped. My brother? Arrested? It was impossible!
“You’re lying!” I finally said.
“Don’t you dare call me a liar, little girl! We all know your brother was fooling around. And you’re both working for vamps!”
“Stop spewing your venom, Maxine Fortenberry” said Mrs. Miller, getting up.
The difference between the two women was obvious. While Mrs. Miller was tiny and slender, Mrs. Fortenberry was several inches taller and way more imposing.
“And sweet Jason is innocent until proven guilty!”
“Kevin told Hoyt that the evidences against your so-called sweet Jason are concrete! He killed those girls!”
Gran was crying softly.
“Can’t you see how much you’re hurting poor Adele? You really have no shame!” said Mrs. Belanger, offering a handkerchief to Gran.
“Who’s Kevin?” I asked.
“Kevin Ellis is one of Bud Dearborn’s Deputies” explained Mrs. Norris. “A good for nothing deputy if you ask me.”
“He’s a Deputy? And he told your son Hoyt about an ongoing investigation?”
“Well, Hoyt and the other guys from the Road Crew were doing some work near the Sheriff station… They asked him what was going on and he told them.”
“A Sheriff Deputy on duty told passersby, passersby who could very well be the real serial killer, about an ongoing murder investigation?”
“You already said that, little girl! And are you implying that my Hoyt is the one who killed those girls? Do I have to remind you who’s currently being held in a prison cell?”
I got up and grabbed Mrs. Fortenberry by the arms, hauling her toward the door.
“Get the fuck out of my house!”
“Watch your language, young lady!”
“This is MY house and I’ll use whatever language I see fit. Get back in your filthy car and get your big fat ass out of my property!”
I shut the door and tried to catch my breath. This was a nightmare! I was going to wake up and realize it was all a dream.
“Oh… Sookie… We have to call Eric and Pamela! My poor, poor Jason!”
I closed my eyes for a second and opened them as both Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Rochon were taking me in their arms.
“You have to stay strong for your poor grandmother, little girl” said Mrs. Miller.
“Go get dressed” said Mrs. Rochon, wiping away the tears I didn’t know I was shedding. “I will drive you to the Sheriff Station.”
The next half hour was blurry. Mrs. Miller took a powder blue dress out of my closet with nude pumps and a black leather purse – ‘you need to look your best, little girl’ she said – while Mrs. Rochon did my hair and put a delicate pearl necklace around my throat. I barely registered Mrs. Rochon telling me she would go back to the farmhouse and stay with Gran when she dropped me in front of the Sheriff Station.
I took a deep breath before walking in, as if I owned the place. Behind the counter was a funny looking man, absorbed by whatever he was watching on his computer. A look at his badge told me he was the infamous Deputy Ellis who had babbled about Jason’s arrest.
It took a little while before he acknowledged me.
“Yes, Ma’am, what can I do for you?”
“You can tell me if you are the Deputy Ellis who told passersby about an ongoing murder investigation.”
“What… I… ongoing…”
“Did you or did you not told the Road Crew about Jason Stackhouse’s arrest? Did you or did you not told them that the evidences against him were… what was the word? Oh yeah, concrete?”
“I… The Road Crew… I did…” he stammered.
“Are you or are you not Deputy Ellis?” I yelled.
“I am, Ma’am.”
“It’s Miss Stackhouse for you, idiot! Just know that I’m going to complain to your superior about your lack of professionalism. And when I’ll be done with you, you won’t even be able to get hire as a mall cop.”
The stupid man gulped before pressing several buttons on his phone.
“Sheriff… You better come… I… Please, come out front!”
Sheriff Dearborn soon came out of his office and seemed to want to disappear once he saw me.
“Little Sookie Stackhouse…”
“I think it would be more appropriate if you’d call me Miss Stackhouse, Sheriff Dearborn.”
“Yes, of course, Miss Stackhouse. What can I do for you today?”
What can I do for you today?! Really!
“Well, first you can take my complaint against Deputy Ellis. Unless there’s a different law in Bon Temps, officers of the law are prohibited to talk about ongoing investigation with the general public. Your so-called Deputy apparently told passersby about my brother’s arrest and about the evidences against him.”
“Aren’t you making a big deal of…”
“A big deal? Sheriff Dearborn, if my complaint against Deputy Ellis is not taken seriously I’m going to sue this Sheriff department for slander and emotional distress. My brother is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law! Aren’t you supposed to be friends with my grandmother? My grandmother who had to learn about her grandson’s arrest for heinous murders by the town worst gossip? I won’t just have his badge, Sheriff Dearborn, I’ll have yours too!”
The poor man looked scared. He stammered a little before asking me to sit down for a moment. I took the time to call Mr. Burnham, Eric’s daytime assistant.
“Mr. Burnham? Sookie Stackhouse. We have a problem. Jason has been arrested or so it seems. I need you to contact Mr. Northman and Ms Swynford De Beaufort as soon as the sun sets. Yes, thank you.”
A female Deputy, whose badge read Kenya Jones, came and offered me a cup of coffee. Unlike her boss and her colleague, she didn’t seem scared of me and a quick look at her thoughts told me she wasn’t really surprised at Deputy Ellis poor work ethic.
Sheriff Dearborn came back, followed by Andy Bellefleur.
“Fucking Kevin! Ain’t able to shut his fucking mouth!”
Detective Bellefleur clearly wasn’t impressed with Deputy Ellis.
“Detective Bellefleur, can you explain to me why my brother was arrested? And most importantly why his right to be represented by a lawyer of his choice wasn’t respected?”
“At least she’s calling me detective and not Andy like the rest of ’em. Bud was right, she’s not one to be messed with.”
“Well, Miss Stackhouse… Your brother has not exactly been arrested…”
“Yet” added Sheriff Dearborn.
A look at his mind and I realized that dear old Sheriff Bud was pretty convinced of Jason’s guilt while his detective thought that the so-called concrete evidences were not making any senses.
“If he hasn’t been accused nor arrested, then why the fuck are you holding him in?”
“I will ask you to watch your language, young lady” said Sheriff Dearborn, patronizing me.
“How many times will I have to remind you that it’s MISS Stackhouse, Sheriff Dearborn. Your familiarity is not welcome right now. Detective Bellefleur, since my brother is not under arrest and only being hold for questioning, may I have a moment with him?”
“Of course. If you’ll come with me.”
I found Jason looking quite defeated, dressed in the suit he normally wore for court, his tie half done and his jacket lying on the back of his chair.
“Oh my God, Jason!”
I threw myself in his arms and let some tears fall down once the door closed behind me.
“Fucking Sheriff Dearborn and Andy picked me up at the court house! At the fucking court house! In front of all the other lawyers and judges! My career is over, Sook!”
“Hush, your career is not over, but Bud Dearborn’s and Deputy Ellis’ are! I’ll sue their asses until they have nothing left but the clothes on their back!”
“How did you found out?”
He helped me sat down on one of the very uncomfortable interrogation room’s chairs.
“Deputy Ellis apparently opened his big mouth and told the whole Road Crew and Hoyt told his mama who came to gloat at the farmhouse while Gran and her DGD friends were having tea…”
“Gran? Shit… Is she okay?”
I nodded. “Mrs. Belanger, Mrs. Norris, Mrs. Hebert and Mrs. Miller stayed with her while Mrs. Rochon dropped me here.They’re going to stay with her until Eric and Pam…”
“I had to, Jason! You’re being wrongfully accused of murdering two girls! Two fangbangers, by the way! Eric was bound to find out. And under the VRA it would be considered a hate crime against vampires…”
I took his hands in mine and for one of the first time in my life I was the one who had to be strong for my brother.
“What are these evidences they have against you? I mean, apart from seeing these girls at Fangtasia… You’ve never sleptwith them, right?”
“Of course not! I didn’t even know that Maudette! But apparently Dawn was keeping a diary… She wrote that I was having an affair with her… I never would have touched her with a ten foot pole, Sook, you’ve got to believe me!”
“I believe you, Jase… I don’t even have to you-know-what, I know you never could have done that!”
Sheriff Dearborn and Detective Bellefleur came back an hour later and the old Sheriff had the guts to ask me to leave.
“Even if he’s not under arrest, my brother has the right to be assisted by a lawyer during his interrogation, Sheriff.”
Jason spent the rest of the afternoon telling the same story, that he had never met Maudette Pickens, or if he had, he had no recollection of it. That he never had an affair with Dawn Green. That the only times he ever saw her were when he was at Merlotte’s and when he was at Fangtasia for business. He told them how she had once approached him there, but that he had rebuffed her.
Sheriff Dearborn brought in the evidence, i.e. Dawn’s diary, but Jason’s reminded him that there was no proof it was real. Detective Bellefleur asked him once again about his whereabouts on both nights of the murders.
“On the night Miss Pickens was killed, I enjoyed a quiet evening with my grandmother, my sister and two of my bosses, Mr. Northman and Ms Swynford De Beaufort, as well as Gran and Sookie’s new neighbor, a Mr. Compton. Around 11PM, I drove back with Ms. Swynford De Beaufort to Shreveport…”
“And after that?” asked Bellefleur.
“Well… Ms Swynford De Beaufort and I finished the night at my place.”
“Can we get this Ms Swingford to corroborate your version?” asked Dearborn, mispronouncing Pam’s name.
“As soon as she awakes… Ms SWYNFORD De Beaufort is a vampire, Sheriff.”
“Both Ms Swynford De Beaufort and Mr. Northman are going to come here as soon as the sun sets, Sheriff” I explained.
Jason took a deep breath. “I can’t believe you would accuse me, a lawyer actually working for vampires, of killing two girls who were…”
“Fangbangers?” asked Dearborn. “Isn’t it what they called them girls who have relations with fangers?”
“It ain’t politically correct to call them that, Sheriff…”
“Listen to Detective Bellefleur, Sheriff Dearborn. And be careful about your use of the word ‘fangers’. Some people might see it as some sort of discrimination against the vampire race. You wouldn’t want a discrimination case on top of the slander one, would you?”
I was clearly pissing Sheriff Dearborn off.
“How about last night, Mr. Stackhouse?”
Jason sighed and for the Xth time told them what he had done the previous evening.
“I had dinner with my Gran, left shortly after 9 o’clock and went directly to my apartment in Shreveport. My doorman will be able to tell you I never left. And he’ll be able to give you copy of the building’s CCTV…”
There was some sort of commotion outside the interrogation room and the door quickly opened on stupid Deputy Ellis looking quite distraught.
“Sheriff Dearborn… There’s Mrs. Stackhouse with… with two… vampires!”
His last word was uttered with fear and I was pretty sure he soiled himself. Gran appeared in the doorway, wearing her grey tweed set, followed by Eric in a blue midnight suit and Pam, pink from head to toe, except for her grey trench coat.
“Eric, Pamela… I have to displeasure of introducing you to Bon Temps’ Sheriff, Bud Dearborn. The other gentleman is Detective Andy Bellefleur. Bud, Andy, Mr. Eric Northman and Ms Pamela Swynford De Beaufort, my dear friends and clients to my grandchildren.”
Pam smirked at the two men, while Eric dropped a big manila envelope on the table.
“What is that?” asked Dearborn.
“These, Sheriff Dearborn, are the evidences proving Mr. Stackhouse’s innocence. You’ll find copies of the CCTV of his apartment the night of Miss Green’s murder, CCTV of Fangtasia the night Miss Green accosted Mr. Stackhouse and proving he rejected her advances, an affidavit from Ms Swynford De Beaufort concerning the whereabouts of Mr. Stackhouse the night of Miss Pickens’ murder and finally a transcription of the data of Mr. Stackhouse’s car’s navigational system.”
Sheriff Dearborn looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Andy took the manila envelope and quickly look through it.
“All right, Mr. Stackhouse. You can leave. Thank you for your help today. And really sorry for any inconvenience it might have caused you.”
“You’re welcome, Detective Bellefleur” answered Jason.
After a quick handshake Jason went to hug Gran before leaving the interrogation room, sighing deeply. Gran approached her old friend and slapped him across the face.
“That is for not doing your job properly, Bud Dearborn!”
I couldn’t help the smile that appeared on my face. I grabbed my purse and followed my party outside. Pam had driven her pink minivan, while Gran had taken her Caddy.
“Thank you, Eric!” said Jason once we left the station.
“You’ve got nothing to thank me for, Jason. Let’s just hope these cretins are able to catch this killer.”
“Can I have some fun, Master?” asked Pam. “Can I glamour them into…”
“They’re not worth it, Pamela. Bud Dearborn try not to look like it, but he’s quite a bigot and once he’s convinced of something…”
She didn’t finish and let out a sigh. She was clearly tired. This whole day must have been hard on her.
“Pam, will you take Jason back to Shreveport. I’ll escort Adele and Sookie back to the farmhouse.”
Gran hugged both Jason and Pam goodbye before sliding in the back seat of her Cadillac, throwing the keys at Eric.
The drive was quiet. I think Gran might have fallen asleep at one point, but she woke just as we were pulling in front of the farmhouse. Eric helped her out and she kissed him goodnight.
“You’re coming tomorrow night, right?”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world, Adele.”
She went inside, leaving us alone. I sat on the swing and smiled.
He just smiled back. How I loved his smile. I patted the seat next to me, inviting him. In two long strides he was sitting by my side. My hand found his and soon my fingers were intertwined.
“Thank you, for coming tonight…”
He shut me up by pressing his finger on my lips. Soon his free hand was caressing my face, tracing my jaw, tucking a stray lock of hair behind my ear. His eyes were an endless pool of blue. I could get lost in them. His face got closer, closer, closer. Our foreheads were touching, his nose nudged my own. His hand, his big, safe hand, cradled the back of my head… I closed my eyes and waited… Finally his lips took possession of mines. His tongue caressed my lips, asking permission, and finally battled with my own. I grabbed the lapel of his jacket, wanting him closer, needing him closer.
I don’t know how long we kissed, but it wasn’t long enough. One last kiss to my nose and he was getting up.
“You’re leaving?” I asked, almost begging him not to go.
He smiled. “You need your beauty sleep. You wouldn’t want to look tired for our date tomorrow. Good night min älskare.”
And with that he took to the sky. My fingers lingered on my lips and I giggled. I had a date with one tall, blond, sexy vampire.