Chapter 8

I woke the next day feeling deliciously sore in all the right places; from the ache in my arms to the muscles in my thighs shouting at me for using them so much the night before. I padded out of our bedroom, through the light-tight vestibule and downstairs to the kitchen for something to eat. I was making an omelette when I remembered what I was supposed to be doing that evening. My appetite vanished. I finished cooking and ate it anyway – a girl has to keep her strength up when she’s involved with a vampire like Eric. My cell started ringing as I was buttoning up my blouse after a shower. Thinking it was probably Portia I picked up without checking the caller ID.

“Hi, it’s Sookie.”

“Sookie? It’s Barry. Uh … Barry from Dallas?”

“Hi Barry. Did you think I would forget who you were?”

“I … I wasn’t sure. I wanted to talk to you about … stuff.”

“Well, I’m just about to leave for work but I’ve got some time. What did you want to talk about?”

“You work? For the vamps during the day?”

“Not now, I used to. I didn’t always have the independence I have now, I used to live with the vampires in a big compound and spent my days reading all the staff and donors there.”

“What do you do now?”

“I have my own business. I run a personnel consultancy, making sure people have jobs and the people in jobs for Supe clients aren’t there for ulterior motives.”

“Wow … that sounds cool! Right now Stan and Isobel have me reading all the humans at their bar. It’s pretty …”

“Boring?”

“Yes! It’s the same questions all the time, I found someone trying to steal money yesterday but … does it get easier? More interesting?”

“It can, with time. All of the stuff you’re doing now is a one-time thing. After you’ve caught up with the existing people on their books, you just need to vet the new starts.”

“Then I can be like you, off doing my own thing for the majority of my time?”

“I guess; it just depends on what kind of contract they give you.”

“Contract? You have a contract?”

I closed my eyes and sighed internally, once again counting my lucky stars that the Queen was so in touch with small human things like that. “You need a contract Barry. Do you have email or a fax I could send something to?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, I’m going to send you copies of my contracts I’ve had with Louisiana. There will be a bunch of stuff missing but it’s the wording and clauses you’ll need more than anything. Just take them to Stan and show them to him.”

“You think he’ll appreciate that? Won’t he be more likely to just … I dunno … kill me?”

“Barry, we’re telepaths, the only two known telepaths in North America right now. Stan is probably fully aware that you could take that contract and show it to another state and you’ll get snapped up in a moment.”

“I would?”

“Sure, but don’t do that. Stan seems nice, for a vampire. He just isn’t used to dealing with humans.”

“Okay, I’ll do it!”

I smiled as I wrote down the fax number Barry gave me. I would just cut up some post-its to hide my salary before I sent them and he’d have a great point to negotiate from. I finished getting ready in record time and drove to work. Alcide was following me again. I pulled into a branch of Wendy’s and parked up, getting out and waiting for Alcide to do the same. I had to stomp my foot in frustration when he parked on the other side of the lot and sat in his car staring at me. I stalked over to him and slapped the driver’s window so hard I hurt my hand. Alcide sighed and got out of the car.

“I’ve had it! I’m sorry Alcide, I know you’re just doing your volunteering thing but it feels like I’m being stalked!”

He stood with his arms folded, a frown on his face. I thought, for a moment, that if he cheered up he would be very handsome. Just as he was about to speak, a car screeched to a halt next to us and a very irate woman with the strangest hair style I’ve ever seen jumped out.

“I knew it! I knew!” She huffed, her cheeks pink with anger. “How could you do this to me?”

Alcide stepped towards her with his palms outstretched. “Debbie, this isn’t what you think it is.”

“Really? You meeting up with some blonde bimbo in a parking lot isn’t suspicious?”

“Uh … excuse me?” I waved my hand to get her attention, I was sorry I got it. The look she gave me made me wish I’d packed clean panties in my purse. “Do you think that we’re … together?”

“If I want your point of view, I’ll beat it out of you.” She snarled before turning back to Alcide. “Are you going to explain? I thought we were working things out?”

“Debbie.” Alcide sighed and rubbed the back of his neck with his hand. “This is Sookie; I’m protecting her since Tray is out of action.”

“And you expect me to believe that?” Debbie sneered.

“It’s true.” I said, extending my hand. “I’m Sookie Stackhouse; Alcide is filling in for my regular guard while he recuperates.”

She slapped my hand away and poked me in the chest with one of her bony fingers. “And I’m his goddamn girlfriend! If I hear about any funny business going on between you two … you’re first Blondie.”

Alcide rubbed his hands on Debbie’s arms and gently pulled her away from me. “Debs, come on! You know I sometimes have to do pack stuff; this is one of those things. She goes to work; I follow to make sure she doesn’t get ganked – that’s all.”

He eventually managed to convince her to get back in her car. I was now late for work and knew that Andy would be getting antsy. I continued on my way to the office but couldn’t shake the feeling that I had just made an enemy out of someone by doing absolutely nothing wrong. It was obvious that Debbie was unhinged and it made me wonder about Alcide’s own mentality if he was involved with her. At least now I knew why he was being so weird about getting in close proximity to me while on guard. Crazy chicks will do that to a guy.

–**–

Thankfully, I didn’t have much time to think about my dreaded task while I was in the office. I was so busy I had to get my lunch delivered and eat it while I was emailing the application packs to potential candidates. Before I knew it, Andy was peeking in the door to tell me it was 6pm. I sighed, not in relief that another work day was over, but in resignation that tonight was actually happening. My one bright spot on the drive home was a call from Tray telling me that he’d be picking up his guard duty again the next day.

I made myself something to eat when I got home, but I don’t think I tasted any of it. I chewed the pork chops, carrots and mashed potato, but everything seemed to be cardboard flavoured. My fork clattered against the plate as I dropped it. Why was I so nervous about this? Deep down I knew it wasn’t just the thought of being semi-naked in front of a group of people who knew my Gran. It was the Maenad. She wanted to cause chaos and here I was, trying to tie up the loose ends that she left. Eric had told me about poor Jessica, she had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. What would this Maenad do to me if she didn’t like the fact I was sticking my nose in?

Eric had said that a Maenad ‘sent her madness’ the last time he encountered one. Would my ‘different’ mind make me more susceptible to this Maenad’s madness? Or would the shields around my mind protect me from that kind of intrusion the same as the thoughts of others? Like it or not, I had put myself in this position and now I just had to deal with whatever tonight was going to throw at me. I checked the time, 7pm, Eric would be coming to life soon and we had to meet Portia at 8.30pm. I went upstairs to scowl at my ‘outfit’ some more.

–**–

The camisole and French knicker set I was wearing kept annoying me on the car ride to Bon Temps. The straps kept falling down and the bottoms kept riding up between my butt cheeks. I spent the whole journey fiddling with it, much to Eric’s amusement.

“You can take them off as soon as we get home, if that’s any consolation?”

“It’s not.” I huffed. “How am I supposed to act sexy – not just sexy but turned on and concentrate enough to read minds when my outfit is trying to crawl up my ass? And speaking of outfits, you haven’t shown me what you’re wearing.”

“I wanted it to be a … surprise. I know you wanted me to act homosexual but I didn’t think I could convince these humans that I was a … uh … screaming queen? Is that the phrase?”

I nodded. “So you’re not wearing a feather boa, is your outfit even a little gay looking?”

Eric chuckled and I looked over, noticing his fangs making an appearance. “Uh … honey, could you maybe control the fangs a little more? The last thing we need is for these people to freak out and wind up scared of you.”

We picked Portia up at the street corner near her house; I guess she didn’t want her Grandmother, Caroline, seeing her being picked up. Even if the chances of someone recognising either myself or Eric was slim. Like me and Eric, Portia was wearing a knee length trench coat. I wondered if that made us more or less obvious. I also wondered that if her previous evening’s attire had been racy, or what she considered to be racy, what would she consider to be slutty? As Portia didn’t speak to us, even to say hello, I spent the rest of the drive imagining her in a neck to knee night gown and spending the whole orgy in a corner nursing a glass of lemonade.

When Portia did speak, it was to give us directions to Mimosa Lake. She sounded very shaky; whether it was nerves or Eric’s driving I couldn’t tell. We turned into the driveway and Eric frowned as his car bumped along the rutted surface. He turned off the engine and we sat in silence.

“I guess this is it.” I tried to sound chirpy and enthusiastic. I don’t think it worked.

“Yeah.” Portia made no effort to sound chirpy or enthusiastic.

“Well, ladies, let’s get this over and done with.” Before I could turn to open my door, Eric grabbed me and kissed me. Hard. Passionately. It left me a little breathless. “That’s better; you look more … amenable to further kisses now.”

All I could do was nod while Portia huffed and muttered under her breath. Eric was at my side of the car before I could get the door fully open and he helped me to my feet. There was a mutual straightening of coats before we made our way up the steps onto the large front porch. The screen door made a hideous noise as Eric pulled it open and Portia grimaced before stepping forward and knocking on the door.

“Who is it?”

“It’s Portia and … friends.”

“Oh goodie! Come on in!”

We opened the door and instantly noticed everyone staring at us. The hostess, I assumed it was Jan Fowler, was wearing a slip and her hair and make-up were very glamorous for a party in the middle of nowhere. Eric took off his coat first and I had to bite back my laughter. He was wearing a pink tank top, which showed off his wonderful arms beautifully, and a pair of Lycra leggings. I had no idea where he got them but figured they had to be special order. I doubted a single store stocked pink and aqua Lycra leggings in extra large, tall sizes. I decided to go next, removing my coat and watching the other party goers scrutinise my cami set. Jan took our coats and held her hand out for Portia’s. Portia reluctantly revealed her ‘outfit’. It was a strappy mini dress with a flirty looking skirt. It was a nice dress, I would have considered it for a summer outing if it was a little longer but I could tell everyone in the room was disappointed she wasn’t close to being naked. I noticed that many of them only briefly glanced at me and Portia then went straight back to staring at Eric. Jan was one of the main offenders.

“Is it okay that we brought a friend?”

“It’s more than okay!” She licked her lips, her eyes never ventured above Eric’s waist. I could understand that, the Lycra wasn’t really hiding much. I was quite distracted myself. “Would you like some drinks?”

“Blood?” Eric asked hopefully.

“I think there’s some O in the fridge, we … uh … pretend sometimes.”

“Well, there won’t be any pretending tonight.” Eric raised his eyebrow and moved further into the room.

I noticed him stroke one man’s shoulder, Tara was sitting next to him so I guessed it was her fiancé, Eggs. She wasn’t happy to be there. She had made great efforts to look good but when I smiled at her she looked away. I didn’t need to be a telepath to recognise shame. I blanched when I saw Mike Spencer lounging on a sofa wearing nothing but a smile. When I looked down, there was a very out of place soft, shaggy rug. It was at odds with the rest of the room, which was full of beat up old furniture covered with pillows and cushions. Some of the objects on the floor were completely unknown to me. I had seen a great many vibrators in the minds of other people but these sex toys were different.

I pasted on a smile and returned a hug that was forced upon me by a large breasted lady. Her milk-chocolate skin was shiny, like it had been oiled. Mike tried to grab my hand but I side-stepped him and made my way over to Tara. He accosted Portia instead, much to her intense displeasure. I sat next to her, which was very uncomfortable as she had a man kissing up the inside of her thigh. I guessed it was more uncomfortable for her than me though.

“I sure never thought I’d see you here Sook.”

I patted her knee, she was miserable. She was smiling but it didn’t reach her eyes. Eggs interest in Eric may or may not have had something to do with that. Before I could say anything else, Portia was at my side. Her eyes shone with fear. I stood up and she attached herself to me. She was stroking her fingers back and forth across my forehead and staring at me, like she was trying to tell me something. The pieces finally clicked and I peeked into her head.

I hate this. I hate this. We need to get out of here before I puke. Do your thing and get us out of here!

I wasn’t exactly having a blast myself, seeing as someone had started fumbling their way up the inside of my camisole while I was listening to Portia. When I turned my head, it was Eggs, but he wasn’t looking at me. He was looking at Eric.

“You’re friend is really big.” He murmured into my ear. Portia sprang into action, in a manner of speaking, to try and speed things along.

“Yes, Eric is huge. Much bigger than Lafayette.”

Eggs nodded but his thoughts never strayed from Eric. Eric’s butt, mostly, and what else was under Eric’s leggings. I closed my eyes and willed something, anything to distract Eggs from his quest. When his hands came up to cup my breasts I must have been sending a signal or something because I felt another pair of hands coming up to remove the ones belonging to Eggs. The new hands were cold. I opened my eyes to find Eric in front of me, he had his arms around me but his hands were touching Eggs. And Eggs hands were now roaming Eric’s body. I was effectively trapped between the two men. Portia was looking at us with disgust; I frowned at her and looked back at Eric. He gave me a significant look and leaned in to kiss me. I knew what he was doing; he was making me appear busy so I could concentrate. With Eggs pressed up against me I was getting his thoughts loud and clear. A little too clear.

He was remembering Lafayette. The thin brown body, talented fingers and heavily made up eyes. I could almost taste his memories as the suggestions Lafayette whispered to him were replayed. Then the happy memories were being replaced by other, more unpleasant ones. Lafayette’s shrill voice, protesting, begging …

I pulled out of his mind and focussed somewhere else. Jan Fowler was behind Eric; touching parts of him I really didn’t like her touching. Her mind was consumed with my Vampire. On the other side of the room Mike Spencer was in a tangle of limbs with the hugging lady, he was imagining her brown skin was the skin of someone else. Limp, lifeless brown skin. I could hear Lafayette’s threats, if they didn’t stop hurting him the whole town would know what they were doing. I could see Mike’s own hands beating at Lafayette, the man who had been kissing Tara’s thighs was kneeling on Lafayette’s chest.

I had to get out of there. I whispered in Eric’s ear, low enough that only he would hear me. He acted fast, picking me up and throwing me over his shoulder and grabbing Portia around the waist.

“I don’t think these ladies are warmed up enough. Let me see what I can do.”

“Oh yeah!” Mike growled. “I’d love to see what these girls can do.”

Eric walked out of the house and sat down on the hood of his car, arranging me on his lap before picking Portia up and sitting her next to him and holding her close to his body.

“They are watching. Sookie, what did you learn?”

“I learned how awful that kind of casual sex was. It’s so … soulless.”

Portia nodded. “I have no idea how people can enjoy that.”

I sighed and rested my head on Eric’s shoulder, putting a hand on Portia’s arm. “I didn’t learn much of anything. I know what they did but … that’s all. And my kind of evidence isn’t permissible in court.”

“So all this … was for nothing?” Portia sobbed faintly and let her head fall onto Eric’s other shoulder.

There was a rustling in the bushes before Andy Bellefleur appeared, waving a gun around. “Portia, step away from the vampire.”

Portia eased herself from the hood and placed her hands in front of her, trying to placate her brother. As it turned out, Eric was right. They had been watching. A few of the people from the orgy were gathering on the porch. Most of them naked. Andy swayed and cocked his gun.

“Stand together in a group!” It was obvious that Andy had had a lot to drink, although in his position I couldn’t really blame him.

Eric and I stood, my vampire placing me behind him protectively. “Have you dealt with a vampire before?”

“No.” Andy grinned. “But I know I can kill you with silver bullets.”

I knew he was wrong on that count; a silver bullet could wound a vampire significantly if it hit a vital organ. But it wouldn’t kill one. I kept my mouth shut. Correcting Andy right now would open a whole can of worms. We backed towards the porch, watching as Portia slowly made her way to stand next to Andy.

“Stackhouse, over here. Portia told me all about your little excursion. Tell me what you heard in there.”

I looked to Eric and he nodded. I knew he could get to me extremely fast if Andy tried to hurt me. As I was walking towards Andy with his shaking gun, I heard a dog whine at the edge of the woods. Andy looked over at where the noise came from.

“What the hell is that dog doin’ here?”

“I … I don’t know.” I looked at the dog and it cocked its head to one side and pawed at its face. I could have rolled my eyes when I realised it was Sam. “Just don’t shoot it okay?”

Andy looked at me like I was nuts. “I would never shoot a dog!”

He grabbed me as soon as I got close to him, digging his fingers into the back of my neck like I was a naughty kitten. Sam the dog growled at him. I glanced at Eric, he was being groped by Jan Fowler but his eyes were intently watching what was going on where I was. A voice came from behind us.

“Who is being held like a little cub?” I watched as she walked around to stand in front of us. Her hair was a tangled mass of black and she wasn’t wearing a stitch of clothing. “I am Callisto.”

“Sookie Stackhouse.” I croaked out.

“And who is this stalwart brave grasping at your neck?”

“Uh … this is Andy Bellefleur. He has a problem.” I felt my skin crawl as she moved closer. I noticed Eric had started moving away from the humans he’d been standing with. That wasn’t good.

She looked at Andy. “You have never seen anything like me, have you?”

“No.” Andy replied in a dazed voice.

“Am I beautiful?” Andy nodded. “Do I deserve tribute?”

“Yes.” I felt Andy sway behind me as he answered.

“I love drunkenness, and you are very drunk.” Callisto beamed at him. “I love pleasures of the flesh and these people are full of lust. This is my kind of place.”

“Okay.” Andy sounded uncertain. “But one of these people is a murderer and I need to know which one.”

“Not just one.” I muttered, earning me another shake. I was getting pretty tired of being treated like a doll. Callisto had gotten close enough to touch me, when she stroked my face I could smell earth and wine from her hands.

“You are not drunk.” She cocked her head to the side as I shook my head from side to side. “And you have not had pleasures of the flesh this evening.”

“Oh, just give me time.” I said, for some reason this comment made her laugh. A lot. It was a high whooping laugh that went on and on.

Andy let go of me quite suddenly. I don’t know what the people from the house thought they saw, but Andy knew he was looking at a supernatural creature.

“Come on up here new girl.” Mike Spencer stood on the porch and called to Callisto. “Let’s have a look atcha.”

I was sitting in the dirt with Sam the dog licking my face. From where I was, I could see Callisto’s arm snake around Andy’s waist. Andy moved his gun into his other hand so he could return the compliment.

“Now, what did you want to know?” Callisto crooned into his ear calmly.

“One of those people killed a man named Lafayette, and I want to know which one.” Andy’s drunken confidence was shining.

“Of course you do darling.” Callisto stroked Andy’s face. “Shall I find out you?”

“Please.” Andy begged.

“All right.” She scanned the people on the porch and crooked a finger at Eggs. Tara held onto his arm to try and keep him next to her. But he lurched away from her side, grinning at the Maenad as he walked over to her. When he got in front of her, her eyes glowed. Eggs wasn’t grinning anymore.

Seeing as everyone was ignoring me, I crawled towards Eric. He was staring at the ground. Sam the dog stayed by my side as I moved. As I got to his side, I didn’t want to stand up, so I wrapped my arms around his legs. I felt his fingers tangle in my hair as I watched Callisto whisper in Egg’s ear. He whispered back to her, then she kissed him and he went completely rigid. She left him to glide over to the porch and Eggs stayed stock still, staring into the woods. Her arms wrapped around Eric and I huddled closer to him.

“Lovely. But not for me, you beautiful piece of dead meat.”

I breathed I sigh of relief and watched her move on to the others. She walked among the party goers, inhaling deeply. It looked like she was getting high from the scents of sex and alcohol from them. Suddenly she stopped and swung to face Mike Spencer, looking at him like he was a present ready to be opened.

“What are you?” Mike asked her.

“Have you ever seen anything like me before?”

“No,” he said, and all the others shook their heads.

“But you’ve made me an offering before.” Mike looked at her, confusion etched over his face. “When you killed the little black man. The pretty one. He was a lesser child of mine, and a fitting Tribute for me. I thank you for leaving him outside the drinking place; bars are my particular delight. Could you not find me in the woods?”

“Lady, we didn’t make no offering,” The man who had been kissing Tara’s thighs, Tom Hardaway I learned, said, his dark skin was goose pimpled and the chilly weather hadn’t done his anatomy any favours at all.

“I saw you,” she said. Everything fell silent then. Everything. There wasn’t even the noise of the wildlife in the woods surrounding the lake. “I love the violence of sex, I love the reek of drink,” she said dreamily. “I can run from miles away to be there for the end.”

I could feel myself filling up with fear and covered my face with my hands. I built up my shields but I could feel the terror banging against them. My back arched and I bit my tongue to try and stay quiet. Eric picked me up and wrapped himself around me. The fact that he seemed frightened made our circumstances all the more dangerous. Sam the dog pressed against us in an effort to offer protection.

“You hit him during sex,” the maenad said to Tom. “You hit him, because you are proud, and his Subservience disgusted and excited you.” She stretched her bony hand to caress Tom’s dark face. I could see the whites of his eyes. “And you” she patted Mike with her other hand “you beat him, too, because you were seized with the madness. Then he threatened to tell.”

I saw Tara backing up out of the corner of my eye, her desire to survive burned in her eyes as she folded herself under a table on the deck. The strength of the thoughts being broadcast made me tremble with the effort of keeping them out. My barriers were breaking down bit by bit. I realised that soon there would be nothing left of me, only fear. Eric held me tighter and whispered to me to focus on his void.

Jan made the mistake of approaching Callisto and was left, limp on the wooden porch, foaming at the mouth. But something bigger was coming with the little group. Something terrible and pure. The fear was lessening and I felt my body calm down. The pressure in my head eased off but soon a new force was scratching at my walls. It was beautiful and evil. It was pure, mindless madness. The Maenad poured the rage, lust and pride from every pore. I was crushed under the weight of how overwhelmed the group was. I jerked as the insanity rolled off Callisto and into their minds. The only thing that stopped me screaming was Eric’s hand in my mouth; I bit him and heard him grunt in pain.

The screaming went on for the longest time; under the sounds of horror were awful wet sounds. Sam the dog whimpered and pressed against us. Suddenly, it was over. I felt like my bones had turned to jelly. I felt Eric pick me up and opened my eyes as he laid me on the hood of the car. Callisto looked down on me, she was smiling again. She was drenched in blood from head to toe.

“You were close,” she said to me, her voice as sweet and high as a flute. She moved slowly, deliberately. “You were very close, maybe as close as you’ll ever come. I’ve never seen anyone maddened by the insanity of others. An entertaining thought.”

I just stared at her. “Entertaining for you, maybe.”

I watched as she said her goodbyes to Sam, he jumped around her legs happily as she spoke of all the things they enjoyed to do together. Eric told me he had to clean up the mess. I closed my eyes and listened to the wet thumps, I tried not to think about what it was Eric was moving around.

“Oh! Here’s a live one! Tara isn’t it?”

I opened my eyes and saw him helping Tara out from under the table. She scrambled away from him and ran over to me, throwing her arms around me and sobbing. As weary as I was, I let her cry. I noticed that Sam was back in human form now and asked if he could go look for a blanket. When he came back out, I wrapped the blanket around me and Tara and asked Sam how Eggs and Andy were.

“They’re still there, standin’ right where she left ‘em.”

I saw Portia slapping Andy’s face and could hear her mumbling, wondering out loud what she was going to do with him now. Eventually she gave up and came over to stand next to me and Tara. Eric came back over too and asked Tara which car she came in.

“The white Camaro.”

He nodded and sorted through a collection of car keys in his hands. I wasn’t sure when he had procured them and maybe I didn’t want to know. Sam grabbed his arm to stop him. “Eric, you need a hand?”

“That would be … helpful, Sam.”

“Tara, did you have a purse?” I thought it would be odd if any of Tara’s things were found by the authorities after the ‘clean up’.

Sam watched as she raised her arm and pointed inside the house. Shaking his head he ran inside and came back out with a huge bag, handing it to Tara. Portia huffed as Tara emptied the purse, pulling out make-up, her cell phone then eventually a change of clothes. As Tara was covering up her fire engine red underwear with a light sweater, Portia got sick of keeping her mouth shut.

“This was a waste! A complete waste! We know who killed the cook but there’s no evidence!” I could see her cheeks pink up as her rage swelled. “Now I have to cope with the reputation of going to sex parties as well as having a suspected murderer for a brother!”

“Portia.” I sighed. “Calm down, we’ll get this mess cleaned up then we focus on the details.”

Eric was dumping Eggs in the back of the Camaro; Sam was still walking around the edge of the house naked, pouring kerosene onto the wooden porch and bushes as he went. Eric came back over and stared at Tara.

“He will not remember any of this.”

There was some deliberation over whether Tara should remember. She wanted to remember and I thought it would have been a good idea to leave her with the knowledge of what happened but it was necessary for her to forget. People who remember can break down and confess under duress. Portia was given the same treatment, with the addition that she was to forget I was a telepath, and placed in Andy’s car. I watched Sam drive away with Tara and Eggs in the Camaro, only Eric, Andy and I were left. After some soft suggestions from Eric, Andy came out of his stupor. He blinked and looked around Eric to the cabin.

“It’s on fire.” He observed. I glimpsed at the flames licking out from one of the windows.

“Yes, they’re all dead. Except Tara and Eggs, they’ve gone back to town. And Portia, of course, she’s in your car.”

“These people … they killed Lafayette?”

I nodded. “Mike and the other two, I guess Jan knew about it too.”

“But there’s no proof.”

“Oh I wouldn’t say that.”

Eric beckoned us over to a Lincoln that had the trunk open. We gazed into the dark space; I could smell the coppery undertones of dried blood. As my eyes adjusted to the light levels, I could make out some stained clothes; Eric pulled a wallet out of the mess.

“Who does it belong to?” Andy asked, his brow knitted together in anticipation.

Eric flipped it open. “Lafayette Reynolds.”

“Oh thank God!” Andy sagged before my eyes. “We can just leave the cars here, when the police and fire crews arrive they’ll find everything.”

“Look at me Andy.” Eric crooned and Andy was easily trapped in his gaze. “Sookie was not here and neither was I. You know nothing of Sookie’s mind reading.” Andy nodded vaguely. This was the most I had seen Eric use his glamour, it really was fascinating, if a little creepy. I wondered if there was a reason Eric didn’t remove all of his memories. “You will go home; the authorities will be here soon. Make sure the people you live with will swear you were at home all evening.”

Without another word, Andy got into his car and drove away with Portia. Eric opened the passenger door of his car for me and I slumped into the seat. It was close to dawn and this had been one of the longest nights I’d known. I didn’t look back once as we drove away from Jan Fowler’s cabin in the woods.

“Where did Callisto go?” I asked sleepily.

“I have no idea. She will move on though, Maenads stay long enough to cause chaos but not enough to be caught.”

We spent the rest of the drive in silence, after all we’d seen and heard – I think we were both glad of the respite. We made back home just in time, I didn’t have the energy to change into my PJ’s and just fell into bed, I heard the shower start up but I was already drifting into sleep.

I felt myself being shaken gently and opened my eyes. I felt like mould. Eric was smiling at me as he perched, stark naked, on the edge of the bed.

“Hey, are you finished in the shower?”

He frowned and spoke slowly in reply. “Yes … twelve hours ago.”

I sat up with a start. I had slept through the whole day? Eric chuckled and picked me up, setting me back down in the shower stall and closing the door behind him as he reached over and turned on the spray. We washed each other without speaking, and the only sounds while we dried off were my giggles when Eric tickled me and his laughter as he caught me every time I tried to squirm away.

–**–

Later, after we’d made love and Eric was getting dressed to go to work, I asked him if he’d heard from Bill.

“Yes, he called me moments before dawn. You were asleep by then. He will be bringing Jessica to Fangtasia to fill out the necessary forms before taking her to New Orleans.”

“Oh? Can I meet her?”

“I think not. She’s barely risen and will have difficulty controlling her urges and emotions.” His mouth pressed in a thin line. “Her parents seem to have the same problem.”

“I’m sure they just need time to adjust.”

“I’m sure they just need time to realise that Jessica will not be returned to their care. Her father has demanded she be returned to them so she can be punished for sneaking out with her boyfriend.”

“That’s awful!”

“Indeed.”

Eric kissed me goodbye and I decided to check my phone messages. Most of them were work related but there was one from Barry.

“Hi Sookie, I just wanted to thank you for faxing over those papers. I’ve had a talk with Stan and we hashed out a great deal for both of us. I can’t believe how quickly my life has changed. If I’d never met you, I’d still be a bell boy with no idea what opportunities were out there for someone like me. So, thanks for that too, I’ll keep in mind to call you if I need help. Bye Sookie.”

I thought back to my activities in the last week. I’d met another telepath, been kidnapped and brutalised, pretended to be a lesbian, attended my first, and last, orgy and had narrowly escaped being driven mad by a profoundly powerful Supernatural being. Knowing that Barry was happy with the way things had turned out, Lafayette’s killers had been exposed and that the Maenad had moved on felt like a good amount of closure.

I spread myself out on the couch and turned on the TV. If the life of a telepath was going to be this interesting all the time, I should probably get life insurance. If dealing with the Supes didn’t kill me, the heart attacks surely would!

-Fin-

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