Pam came into Eric’s office to let him know his next appointment was waiting for him. I was a little annoyed because I hadn’t had the chance to ask about the blood that Thalia gave Tray. I whined about it and Eric laughed.
“There’s no great mystery Sookie. Thalia works in conjunction with Dr. Ludwig. She is, quite possibly, the oldest vampire in the state, no-one knows exactly how old she is but she works for me in a special capacity. Thalia hunts any rogue vampires in my area, when she catches them, she kills them. The older ones have their blood siphoned by Dr. Ludwig before they meet their final death and it’s used to decrease the healing time on those we value.”
Well that was disappointing. I thought it would have been something much more interesting. Although, this mysterious Dr. Ludwig had me intrigued; but I wasn’t about to seriously injure myself so I could meet her. I went over our plans, again, for the next evening for Pam’s benefit, then I kissed Eric goodbye and patted Pam on the shoulder (one day, perhaps, we would get to full hugging.) before I drove home. When I got to the large tract home Eric and I shared, I parked in the garage and stood next to my car. I saw headlights turn off a ways down the road and smiled.
“Alcide? Are you there?” I saw him creep out from between two trees at the end of the driveway. “Why have you been hiding all day?”
“I didn’t want to crowd you.” His swirly red brain gave him away. He was lying. Why he was lying was unknown but the fact that he was concerned me.
“Uh huh. Care to try that one again? Why don’t you come inside?”
“I’d rather not.” He looked over his shoulder, he was worried about something.
“Alcide, if you have problems and they land on my doorstep, I will not be happy. I’ll ask you again. Do you want to come inside and explain to me, truthfully, why you haven’t revealed yourself?”
“Sookie.” He sighed and rubbed at his forehead. “I’m trying not to get you involved in this. Really. Just let me do the job I volunteered for in the way I want to do it.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Fine.”
I watched him slink back into the shadows at the perimeter of the garden and went into the house. Once I’d had a snack and ironed my suit for going to work the next day, I settled in front of the TV to wait for Eric to come home. I smiled when I noticed that ‘While You Were Sleeping’ was on, even though it made me cry a little at the end, I enjoyed watching it.
I noticed Alcide’s car again when I was driving to the office. It made me miss Tray all the more. We always drove together. The days Tray had his boy, he would pick me up in his truck and the days he had to work, he caught a cab to my house and we’d take my car. Even my ‘bouncer’ Andy asked why Alcide wouldn’t be riding with me when I called him to let him know I’d be working that day. My cell went off as I was fishing my briefcase from the back seat.
“Hello, Sookie Stackhouse speaking.”
“Sookie, its Portia. I spoke to Andy and Jason about what we’re planning. I don’t see why I had to do it though.”
“Don’t whine, Portia, it’s unbecoming. We both want this murder put to bed, I need you to be invited to the next party; you need me to find out the truth. Is it such a hardship to do a little of the work?”
“I don’t think I need to remind you that my reputation is on the line here …”
“Oh boo hoo! Your brother’s reputation and job are in the toilet, get some perspective. We meet at Merlotte’s, tonight, at the previously arranged time. I’ll see you there.”
I hung up on the call before she could get self-righteous on me. It made me a little sad that, even though we had the same goal, I was helping her but she still couldn’t bring herself to be nice to me. Just because she was some big shot lawyer, she thought she was better than everyone else in Bon Temps. Thinking that you’re better than someone else and acting like you’re better than someone else are two completely different things. Add to that, I had to tell her I had a ‘talent’. It galled me that here I was, a small business owner, independent woman and a telepath to boot, and she couldn’t see her way to being civil because my Gran lived in a run-down farmhouse. I grabbed my case, locked the car and waved to Andy. He opened the door for me, as usual. Even though I had a key, Andy always got to the office before me and opened up to check that nothing nasty had been left for me.
“Mornin’ Sook. Your answering machine is gonna set off an epileptic fit it’s flashing so much!”
I laughed. “Just another busy day at the office, Andy!”
It took me most of the day to get through my messages and call back clients to make appointments and contact potential candidates to come in for interviews. Then I had to go through the available positions and phone all my existing candidates to set them up in the right jobs. Before I knew it, it was 5pm and even though I could have stayed a couple more hours to get more done, I had to go home, eat and change for my meeting with Portia.
“See you tomorrow Andy!”
“Sook.” Andy nodded towards Alcide’s car. “Is he supposed to just hang around like that?”
I shrugged. “I have no clue what he’s doing Andy, last night he told me to let him do the job in his own way so … anyhow, I gotta run.”
I sped home and threw my dinner down my gullet before changing into a ‘joke’ dress that Pam had bought me. It was tight, black, made of PVC and had zips in strategic places; she had told me I’d need to wear it if I was ever in Fangtasia – like a uniform. She had me with that little joke for about four days until Eric saw me trying to squeeze into it and asked me what the hell I was doing. I called Jason to make sure that Portia had passed on all of the information, she had, then I realised I would need to run interference with Gran too. Sighing, I dialled her number to let her know what the gossips would be talking about for the next week and tried to make sure the monstrosity of an outfit covered both of my ass cheeks.
“Stackhouse residence, Adele speaking.”
“Hi Gran, I just wanted to let you know you might hear some … strange rumours about me and Portia … and some other folks. None of its true, we’re just … putting on an act to try and solve a riddle.”
“What kind of rumours? And what riddle? Is this about Andy being accused of that cooks murder?”
“Oh … you know, that me and Portia are lesbian lovers who … uh … involve vampires. We’re trying to get invited to one of the orgies, we think that whoever runs them is involved with Lafayette’s death and I can find out who and also where they might have left clues.”
“Oh Sookie.” Gran sighed. “You know I don’t put stock in half of what the town gossips come up with but please tell me you’ll be careful?”
“I will Gran, I promise.”
“Okay child, you take care now. Oh! Should I try to put people right about the rumours or …”
“No! Until someone is arrested for Lafayette’s killing just let them think what they wanna think.”
“Okay sweetheart. Take care … please.”
“I already told you I would! Bye Gran. Love you!”
“I love you too Sookie!”
I had a last check over in the mirror. I looked like a prostitute but that was the point. For Portia to be invited to the orgy, she had to have a slutty girlfriend right? Grabbing a long coat from the back of my wardrobe, I went to the garage and got in my car. I spent the whole drive to Merlottes hoping I wouldn’t be pulled over for anything and that Alcide would be far enough behind me that he wouldn’t be able to discern what I was wearing.
I sat in my car for quite a while after pulling into the parking lot at Merlottes. The thought of parading myself like we had planned wasn’t sounding so good right now but I’d made a promise and in a couple of hours I’d have Eric and Pam to back me up. I sent a text to Portia to let her know I was there and got a reply a moment later to tell me that she was waiting in a booth for me. The plan was for Portia and I to spend the whole evening there, we would have dinner and act as a couple. Then Eric and Pam would show up and we’d act as a group. I just hoped Portia could pull the stick out of her ass long enough for this to score an invite to the orgy.
Obviously her ploy of taking a heavily pierced Goth guy to the local football match last night hadn’t worked or she’d have called me. Wouldn’t she? I shook my hair out and stalked into the bar, the light was just starting to fade as I opened the door. The bar was quite full and I let my coat slip from my shoulders as I headed for Portia’s table. I kept my shields up tight but I couldn’t fail to notice that all eyes were on me. It felt good and mortifying at the same time. I’d always known I had been born a fair bit away from the ugly tree, but I was just pretty. Not stunning or gorgeous. My boobs were nice, a lot of guys thought about my boobs but a lot of guys thought about a lot of women’s boobs. I tried not to listen too much but sometimes stuff just gets through. I saw Portia and smiled a, what I hoped was, sexy smile. She was wearing a high necked but sleeveless shirt and a jean skirt that would probably come to mid-thigh when she stood up. Stopping in front of her, I bent over to give her a peck on the cheek before I sat down.
She looked terrified. That made two of us.
I made sure to sit in the booth right next to her so we could talk quietly and pressed my hand on her knee to stop it from jumping up and down under the table.
“Honey, I missed you!” I lowered my voice and leaned closer. “Portia get a grip! You’ve been going all out to get an invite to this damn orgy, you agreed to let me help you so just suck it up and look at my tits!”
Portia closed her eyes and straightened her back. You could have knocked me over with a feather when she opened her eyes, licked her lips and pulled me closer to her by grabbing my scantily clad ass.
“Stop telling me what to do Stackhouse! I think I know the people in this town better than you do and right now I can tell you exactly who is paying us the most attention.”
I was a little shocked at her tone but it was obvious that I had, somehow, woken a sleeping beast. It was true that Portia thought she was better than me, but now it seemed she wanted to prove it. At least the Merlottes patrons would get a show. We continued to sit very close during our meal, whispering about who was staring and who wasn’t, punctuating the conversation with fake giggles. Around an hour after sunset my cell buzzed in my purse, Eric had sent me a text.
“Eric and Pam will be here in 10 minutes. Are you ready for this?”
I could see the indignation flash in Portia’s muddy brown eyes. “Of course I’m ready! So far the only anomaly, you do know what an anomaly is don’t you?” I narrowed my eyes and nodded slowly. “The only anomaly is that usually Mike Spencer only has one beer after dinner, tonight he’s ordered another and he hasn’t been able to take his eyes off us.”
“So either he’s just a perv or he’s a perv looking for people to invite to a perv party.”
I started feeding Portia little pieces of my chicken strips, trying to look turned on when she sucked on my fingers. The whole thing just made me want to go up to a serious actor and give their hand a darn good shake. I asked Portia to describe what Mike Spencer looked like and stood up to take a trip to the ladies room. I spotted him straight away; he was the one with drool over his chin. I swallowed down my desire to shudder with revulsion and instead winked and licked my lips as I walked past him. I locked on to his thoughts and was glad my back was now to him so he couldn’t see my face.
God that’s hot. Portia ain’t much ta look at but seein’ her with Sookie, damn! I could sell tickets to that show.
I cut the connection when he started to imagine himself naked next to Portia and me and locked myself in a cubicle. I took a few deep breaths to centre myself and took care of my needs before washing my hands and going back out to the bar. I got back to our table just as Eric and Pam walked in, unfortunately they had to walk past my brother to get to me and Portia. And there was no way Jason was going to let Pam walk past without at least saying hello to her.
“Hey Paminator! You free tonight?”
Pam quirked an eyebrow at Jason and looked over her shoulder to make sure everyone was listening to her. “No, tonight Eric and I will be having an incredibly hot four in the bed romp with your sister and her lesbian fling.”
My eyes were drawn to Mike, he was staring open mouthed at Pam. I managed to look away as his gaze darted to our table. I listened in on him again, hoping I wouldn’t see something I didn’t want to see.
I’ll wait ‘til Portia goes to the restroom, she’ll need to go soon. I can stop her on her way by.
Eric and Pam squeezed into the booth with us, Eric next to Portia and Pam next to me. There was plenty of room but they wanted it to look like we couldn’t wait to be joined at the pelvis. Portia froze a little when Eric brushed some of her mousy hair away from her face but I could tell it was only because he was a vampire. The expression on her face when she saw him walk over told me she had no problem with the way he looked at all. I smiled at Eric and Pam, Pam had a glint in her eye and I remembered her saying how much she was looking forward to playing lesbian with me. I really didn’t think this through at all. I spoke in the quietest voice I could, knowing that Portia was listening intently and the vampires would hear anyway.
“Mike is waiting for Portia to go to the restroom. My guess is that he’ll invite her to a party when he stops her. He’s been thinking about us but since you guys walked in he’s become very resolved about something.”
I heard Portia whisper ‘Oh Thank God!’ under her breath and smiled. I caught Eric staring at my outfit but before he (or I) could say anything I almost jumped out of my skin when I felt Pam licking my neck. I shot a glance at Eric, who was grinning at my discomfort. That made me mad. I shifted a little in my seat and snaked a hand around the back of Pam’s neck. Then I kissed her. Not just a peck but a big ‘ol open mouthed, tongue tussle. When I pulled away I turned back to my boyfriend and smiled.
“See? I can roll with the punches baby.”
“Indeed.” He tried to look angry but I could see he was amused at my efforts to shock him.
Portia tugged at her skirt and mumbled about getting this scene wrapped up. Pam and I moved out of the booth so she could get out and we watched her walk towards Mike. When he stopped her, I let out a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding. I leaned closer to Eric as he repeated what Mike had said to her, I was too far away to hear but the vampires would have probably heard them whisper.
“Yes, he’s asking her to a party. At someone called Jan’s house.” I didn’t have a clue who this Jan person might be. “It’s tomorrow night.”
Pam looked at Eric. “Bill is rising with Jessica tonight. You may be needed tomorrow Eric.”
Eric closed his eyes. “Bill should be perfectly capable of filling out the registration forms on his own. I’m not letting Sookie go to this … party with a homely lawyer for protection, especially if the Maenad decides to make an appearance.”
“Besides.” I spoke up. “We need Eric so he can pretend to be gay and maybe trigger some memories of Lafayette.”
Eric stiffened next to me. “And just when were you planning to inform me of this development?”
I grinned hopefully. “I just thought you’d be able to roll with the punches too.”
When Portia came back from the bathroom, she was very confused as to why Pam was cackling with joy and Eric was sitting in the booth with his head in his hands.
Once we had left the bar it was a relief to give up the act. Portia and I went back to keeping a respectable distance but Pam had to be told by Eric that her fun was over for the evening. I wasn’t looking forward to picking up my lesbian girlfriend persona the next night but it was just one more night, right?
The drive home was uncomfortable. The heat in Merlottes coupled with my nerves had made moisture gather inside my dress. I couldn’t wait to get inside and have a shower, if I could peel the thing off without taking some skin with it; that was. That made me realise that I had worn the only slutty outfit I had. Pam had followed us back to discuss arrangements for the party; the first thing I wanted to address was clothing.
“What do I wear to an orgy?”
Pam laughed. “As little as possible!”
I blanched but Eric put his hand on my knee. “The last time I was at an orgy, I wore an animal skin.”
“Was it so long ago you didn’t have proper clothes or was there a theme?”
“It was … impromptu. I had been scouring a battlefield for sustenance, wearing the skin of a bear for camouflage until the fighters had left the injured to die. While on my way back to my resting place I came across a group of gypsies who had partaken in some interesting berries.” He grinned at me. “Who was I to pass up such an opportunity?”
I shook my head to try and get rid of the images my imagination was coming up with. “That still doesn’t answer my question.”
Pam sighed. “Keep it simple, tight and show as much skin as you can. You do have lovely skin Sookie.”
“Uh … thank you. So … lingerie?” Both vampires nodded.
“Am I to attend?” Pam grinned.
“I don’t think your presence will be required, as Sookie mentioned earlier – we want them thinking about men, specifically homosexual, so she can guide their thoughts to the incident with the dead human.”
Pam nodded but didn’t look too disappointed. If only I could get out of going so easily.