“Do you want to tell me how Jason Stackhouse managed to be accused of murder?” I’d landed in front of Alcide Herveaux’s truck, startling him from his reclined position of watching the small home a few feet away. We are not at Stackhouse’s home, which I know is in an isolated, wooded area near a pond. I do not know why we are here, though if the sounds of sex are any indication, I would be willing to bet that Stackhouse found a willing female to comfort him after his harrowing jailhouse experience.
“He didn’t do it,” Herveaux mumbles as he gestures for me to enter his vehicle so we are less conspicuous. Though no one is paying attention to us; with the exception of Stackhouse and the moaning woman with him, all the humans in the vicinity are asleep. It is late in the evening for them; I’m sure most of them will need to work in the morning.
“I know he didn’t do it. My question is why weren’t you or one of the others keeping an eye on him last night.”
“Did you forget last night was the full moon? I waited as long as I could, but I couldn’t fight the need to shift indefinitely. I saw him leave the girl’s place and head home. He was asleep when I ran off. Why didn’t you arrange others to watch him?” Herveaux is being defensive which makes him attack others in response to being questioned. Most people will do this to deflect blame from themselves. However in this case he is correct; I should have arranged for other guards for the Stackhouses the previous evening. As with Sookie’s telepathy, it slipped my mind. I am not accustomed to having to take so many things under consideration when I make plans. This situation is mentally taxing. I believe I feel a headache coming on for the first time in a millennium.
Pinching the bridge of my nose, I close my eyes and ask the Were, “How are you fighting the shift now?” It’s still a full moon, and his eyes have that yellow glow to them.
“It ain’t easy,” he says in a voice that sounds less than human and more like an animal’s growl. His body shakes slightly as he fights for control. As much as I hate to say it, I admire Herveaux in this instant for his strength, sense of honor, and determination.
“Go,” I command. “They have finished for now. I will see that Stackhouse returns to the family home. It will be for the best if he stays there until this murder is solved.”
Alcide grunts and climbs out of his truck. He begins to remove his clothing so he can shift. “How are you going to manage that one? Jason Stackhouse doesn’t seem the type to take suggestions from a vamp.”
“Who said I was giving him an option?” Alcide has completed his shift and stands beside the vehicle as a large black wolf with green eyes and white markings down his torso and around his paws. He is larger than the majority of wolves I’ve seen, a sign that he is meant to be an Alpha. Interesting since I know Alcide, like Dawson, prefers to run solo instead of with a pack. “Run along dog; I have work to do. I’m sure there are some trees that need to be marked and rabbits to be chased,” I say with a humorous smirk. If it were possible, I do believe Alcide Herveaux would be giving me the finger right about now, but all he can do is bare his fangs at me. I flash him my own in return. Instead of taking the bait, he turns and runs into the woods nearby.
With a slight chuckle, I walk the necessary steps to bring me to the door where Jason Stackhouse is. How fortunate for me that I have been inside this home before and do not require an invitation. Humans have no sense of self-preservation; if they did, than the woman who lives here should have rescinded my invitation the moment I’d left her house. Instead, she had fallen into a deep slumber because of how thoroughly used her body had been. So it is a rather simple matter for me to remove the screen from the open living room window and climb inside. I creep quietly through the halls looking for Stackhouse. I find him in the kitchen. The refrigerator door is open; his left arm rests on top of the door, his right holds a carton up to his mouth. The light from the refrigerator illuminates his naked body. Looking at him critically, I can see what the fuss is about; his body is sculpted and tan, his face is attractive, and despite the cold from the refrigerator, he still seems well-endowed. Too bad he has a five-cent head.
“One would think you would be in the safety of your home or that of your grandmother’s after your experience today.” My voice startles Jason and he drops the carton he had drunk from. The orange liquid spills out around his feet. He gapes at me with his mouth opening and closing like a guppy.
“Are you really so stupid that you think your charming attitude and good looks will always get you out of trouble? Have you even thought of the possibility that the dead woman was killed because of her association with you? Now you are potentially endangering another woman, not to mention your blatant disregard for your family’s worry about you.” My voice is an angry hiss as I make my way further into the room. Stackhouse tries to scramble away from me, but the only place for him to go is in the corner.
“How’d ya get in here? I thought vampers couldn’t enter a home without an invitation.” I say nothing, waiting to see if he will connect the dots or if he will need to be guided along like a tourist at the White House.
“Sonofabitch!” Jason finally exclaims after a few tense minutes. It’s as if I can see the light bulb turning on inside his head. “You’re the vamp that bit Dawn’s thigh! Were you with Maudette too? She showed me a video of her with some bald, tattooed freak . . .” His voice trails off in horror and he holds his hands up in a conciliatory gesture. “No offense,” he offers lamely.
“None taken. Get your clothes. We are leaving. Now.”
“But,” my fangs snapping down and the low growl are enough to shut him up. He walks around me carefully before scurrying down the hallway to the bedroom. I vamp to the bedroom door to make sure he doesn’t try to wake his fuck buddy so she will rescind my invitation to her home. However, the intelligence-challenged Stackhouse has taken my words to heart. He’s thrown on his jeans, stepped into his construction boots, and has slipped his t-shirt over his head. Rather than tie his boots, he’s pulled the laces tight and then tucked them inside so he won’t trip. He walks to the bedroom door but stops. His gaze returns to the woman in bed before looking at me.
“Shouldn’t I leave her a note?”
My eyebrow rises in silent question. “I’m sure you aren’t the first man to leave while she sleeps. I doubt you’ll be the last.”
Rather than go home, Jason opts to go to his grandmother’s house. Of course, his decision may have been influenced by the sullen, nearly seven-foot tall vampire sitting in his passenger seat. The ride is a silent one. Stackhouse keeps looking at me from the corner of his eye, trying to be covert and failing miserably. He fidgets and shifts in his seat nervously while driving the truck.
“If there is something you wish to know, ask,” I tell Stackhouse after he has opened and closed his mouth for the fourth time without uttering a word. He looks sheepish as he makes the turn on Hummingbird Lane. The truck pitches and rocks unsteadily as we drive down the road to his family’s ancestral home. I make note to have the driveway taken care of first. My Corvette will not survive this path, and I imagine it is not comfortable for Adele to traverse. Stackhouse stops in front of the house and cuts the engine.
“Why you doin’ this? I know what you said the other night, but this goes above and beyond lookin’ out for Hadley’s family. Why do you care what happens to me?”
“I don’t care what happens to you,” I say shortly and Jason shrinks back even further from me. “But your grandmother and sister care for you very much. It is my job to protect the three of you, and I value my existence far too much to let a dim-witted redneck that can’t keep his dick in his pants be the reason my thousand years on this planet ends. Now get in the house. Stay out of trouble. You will sign the contract without argument when it is brought to you. Are we clear?” Stackhouse nods his head rapidly before climbing out. He jogs quickly up the porch steps and slips inside the door. I frown as I realize that he didn’t need a key to enter the home. There is a killer on the loose and these women leave their home open for anyone to stroll through. I climb out of the truck and angrily slam the door shut. I’m about to rouse the occupants of the home with a lecture on basic safety when the stench of wet dog assaults my nostrils. Turning around, I find Dawson standing a few feet away from me.
“Before you get a full head of steam, you should know that Mrs. Stackhouse insisted on leaving the door unlocked if I needed a bathroom or got hungry,” Dawson says with an edge to his voice. His arms are crossed over his chest, his legs braced for a fight. With the way tonight has gone, I am in the mood to release some aggression. But not on Dawson; with the way I’m feeling, he wouldn’t survive the confrontation. And I can’t fault him for doing his job, even if he should have reported the issue with Stackhouse immediately. I understand why he didn’t; I too find it difficult to deny Sookie anything she wants.
“Did she get home safely?” My eyes drift up to the second level, searching for her room. It did not take long for the male Stackhouse to fall asleep; I can hear three heartbeats at their resting rate inside the house. It would be so easy for me to sneak in the house and check on Sookie. I imagine that when asleep, she looks like Sleeping Beauty. How I wish I could be the prince that could rouse her from her sleep with a kiss. Though I doubt either of us could settle for a mere kiss with the bed nearby. Our chemistry together is explosive, but given her reaction earlier, I doubt she would welcome such an advance from me.
“There were no issues with the drive. She was quiet until we got here. Then she wished me a good night before bounding into the house like a scared rabbit.” Dawson’s stance shifts to a more relaxed one, as he senses the hostility leaving me. He walks closer, resting his arms on the hood of Stackhouse’s truck. “Did you learn anything about the investigation of the murdered girl?”
“The police are clueless; they think it’s either a vampire or Jason Stackhouse,” I admit with disgust. “I’m going to put Mustapha on it. As for the Stackhouse’s, I want guards 24/7. You will be in charge; whatever you need, you will have it. I do not want there to be any instances like this in the future.”
Dawson nods in understanding and I continue. “Since Herveaux’s company will be doing an extensive amount of work here, I want him to hire the male Stackhouse as part of his crew. Having Stackhouse close by will keep him out of trouble, make it easier to keep an eye on him, and he’ll be around more which I’m sure will make Adele especially happy.”
“Herveaux isn’t going to like you telling him to hire Stackhouse,” Dawson chuckles.
I smirk in return. “I’m not telling him; you are.” Dawson’s smile disappears. As he opens his mouth to respond, I take off in the night sky. His muttered “asshole” is the best thing I’ve heard all night.
My flight takes me to Fangtasia which is closed for the evening. I slip in through the employees’ entrance and walk silently to my office. The door hits the wall with a bang and Pam whirls around with her fangs down. She is once again using my office as her personal changing room even though she has her own office. Her fangs retract when she sees me lounging against the door frame. Pam slips her pink velvet track jacket over her shoulders and zips it partly over her black lace bra. The jacket matches the pink velvet pants she wears with the word ‘Juicy’ across her rear.
“Jesus Christ Eric, you scared the shit out of me,” Pam says drolly as she begins pulling the pins from her hair. My child abhors the campy costumes we are required to wear in the bar. She prefers pastels, pink especially, and soft, luxurious fabrics that feel smooth against her skin. Pulling the last pin from her hair, she turns to look at me. “Is everything alright?”
“Do you want to tell me why there is video of you and Long Shadow fucking the murdered girl?” Pam stares at me with wide eyes and an open mouth; she clearly did not know she was being taped. “Really Pamela, I thought you had better taste than that. I could maybe understand the girl, but Long Shadow?” I cluck my tongue in disapproval. Long Shadow may be a partner in the bar, but I do not trust him, nor do I like him. He is a necessary evil. “Were you really that desperate? I’d rather you fuck the Were than Long Shadow.”
“What the fuck do you mean there is video?” Pam’s fangs snap down in disapproval and I feel her rage building.
“I’ve never known you to be so careless Pam. There is nothing I can do about the video now; it’s catalogued as evidence in the murder investigation.” That’s not entirely true; I’ve already removed the tape from the police station and altered the evidence forms accordingly. However, I am going to let Pam stew for a bit. She needs to be reminded not to be so careless with her feed and fucks.
“Fuck,” Pam mutters angrily as her fangs snap back in place. I stare at her expectantly and she rolls her eyes while crossing her arms. “Please,” she drawls out condescendingly. “Like you haven’t fucked someone you shouldn’t. I was bored, she was willing. I didn’t do anything with Long Shadow; he repulses me. We both fucked the girl. He thought he could please her better than I could, simply because he has a dick. He was wrong,” she says smugly. “Why do you care so much that I fucked her?”
“The police think a vampire killed her.”
“How did she die?”
“Idiots,” she mutters. “A vampire would have used other means and they wouldn’t have left the body for anyone to find. That’s Vampire Survival 101.”
“The police in Bon Temps do not strike me as the most logical beings on the planet. That is why I want Mustapha looking into this matter.”
“I will call him immediately,” Pam says as she picks up my office phone.
“Good.” I settle at my desk, opening my email to see if there are any new issues I need to deal with before going to ground. Buried in the slew of non-important emails from the vampires in my area as well as the other sheriffs in the state is an email from the bar’s accountant. Scanning the contents of the brief email, I feel my fury rising again.
Someone must have a death wish if they think they can steal $60,000 from me.