A few hours later, Mr. Cataliades led me out the back of the courthouse to a black sedan with tinted windows. Mustapha and Warren, along with two Weres from the Shreveport pack, were waiting to pull out behind us. Demon or not, this man knew how to work the court system. A part of me wondered if he had inappropriately interceded with the judge to grant me bail. Mr. Cataliades even put up the cash to speed up my release.
As he opened the car door for me, Mr. Cataliades turned his head with a bit of a smile. “Of course, my dear. And, as you’ve guessed, you might not want to know the details. Highly irregular, but a satisfactory outcome.”
I started to reply, but thought the better of it. He already knew what I thought about it and besides I was clearly benefitting from whatever stunt he pulled. As my “sponsor” of sorts, Mr. Cataliades had shared his telepathic powers as a gift to future generations of my fairy grandfather’s line with my very human and Christian grandmother.
A transgression I was still wrapping my mind around. Today though, I wondered how demons and fairies mixed. I knew fairies came to a point where they chose which way to go. My late fairy godmother, Claudine, was working her way up to angel. I wondered if my grandfather Fintan’s choice had led him to his unlikely friendship with this demon lawyer. Since he was known to be mischievous, including seducing my grandmother while disguised as her human husband, I was pretty sure that he hadn’t strived for the angelic side of the scale. Maybe I took after him more than Gran after all.
As I ducked into the car, my eyes immediately locked onto the vibrant blur in the driver’s seat. Dianntha, Mr. Cataliade’s niece, always took me be surprise with her unconventional style. The hosts of Fashion Emergency would have had a field day with Dianntha. Today, the semi-demon looked like she’d taken cues from an 80’s Jane Fonda gone punk rock. She was something of a marvel to me – a whirling dervish of color and deadly mayhem.
“Sookie, gladwecouldspringya! Wheredoyawannago?”
“You can say that again!” I turned to Mr. Cataliades. “First stop should be the bank. I’ll have to pull out of my savings, but I can cover it in full with my inheritances from Claudine and Hadley.”
“I won’t hear of it, Sookie. There’s something of an emergency fund set up for you now. As humans go, you seem to attract more than your fair share of trouble. Not to mention deadly enemies.”
Since I didn’t plan on skipping town before my trial, I decided it was time to put my pride on the back burner and take the gift, especially since it was a temporary one.
“Alright, but I can pay interest on it.”
“Stubborn. Just like your grandfather Fintan really.”
“Speaking of family, where’d Jason get to?” I was disappointed that a couple of my friends and family were not waiting for me. To be fair, it had been a long time since the hearing ended. Sam would need to get back to the bar to open just in time for lunch. While Merlotte’s had recovered some of its business (especially after Vick’s Redneck Roadhouse hit the skids), we certainly couldn’t afford to miss full days of business.
“I sent Jason on ahead to your house. There will be a little “Welcome home” gathering.”
“Oh.” I wasn’t sure I was ready for company after a couple days in jail. Not to mention “Well, I hope it’s something small.”
“That’s the plan.”
“Let’sgetouttahere. Sookie, whereto?” Diantha was clearly ready and rearing to go. She was probably right to put some distance between us and the courthouse. Because it had taken a few hours to post bail and release me, Mr. Cataliades explained that most of the crowd from this morning dispersed shortly after the hearing, but a few were sticking around. I put my money on Arlene’s last boyfriend being among them.
“Diantha, let’s do one stop before my house. I’d like to swing by Bill Compton’s place. It’s out on the other side of Sweet Home Cemetery from my place.”
“Surething.” And we were off with a squeal of tires. Diantha seemed to only be able to go at one speed: fast.
I looked back to see if Mustapha and Warren were in pursuit. Sure enough, there were three motorcycles in formation behind the sedan. As we pulled out of the courthouse parking lot, one of the Shreveport Weres rode up alongside and took the lead, with the other two motorcycles flanking the back of the car. I rolled my eyes at the level of security I was being afforded. I made a mental note to tell Alcide and Eric to call the dogs off. Or wolves rather. I smiled imaging what Alcide’s reaction would be.
Of course, I should be appreciative for the extra security, but I was a little worried that I might have actually had more freedom at the Bon Temps police station. Both Alcide and Eric were incredibly high-handed under normal circumstances. Now there would likely not only be a turf war between the two, but extra caution given the real threat of the FoTS worshippers. Just a while back, two enterprising members planned to crucify me for my association with the supes (and possibly because I’m a little different myself). Now that they thought I’d killed Arlene, I could only imagine what they had in store.
Two demons were more than enough protection that is assuming Mr. Cataliades and Diantha could stick around for a while. I still had some questions about the cluviel dor, especially now that I’d used the darn thing. During his last visit to Bon Temps, he gave me some insight into the origins of my magic fairy object and warned me about serious repercussions. I was hoping to learn more on that before I saw Sam again.
“Mr. Cataliades, Diantha, thank you for taking on guard duty. I’ve got a couple guest rooms set up since my cousin and great-uncle are gone. You’d be welcome to stay a while.”
“Unfortunately, we can only stay a few days. We’ve been constantly moving since taking out the hellhounds. With the fae and witch protections around your home, it will be harder to trace us there.”
“Glad to hear it. I just need to slip into Bill’s for a minute to leave him a note.” Since Mr. Cataliades could definitely read my thoughts (and Diantha too), I focused on asking Bill for help as the Area 5 investigator. I had other motives for getting into Bill’s house, but I wasn’t ready to talk through my plan until I worked it out some more.
Diantha pulled into the big circular drive and parked by the carport behind Bill. Since it was well before dark, he wouldn’t be moving the car for a few more hours. Better still, I would have a few hours before he came over to investigate exactly why I’d been in his house while he was dead.
“Sookie, do you want us to take a look inside first?”
“Nope, there’s no one there. At least, no one who up and at ‘em. Can you ask Mustapha and the other Weres to sweep the woods by my house? I’ll be right back.”
As I hopped out of the car, Mr. Cataliades gave me a quizzical look, but got out to consult with the Weres. He knew that there was more to this little side errand than delaying my arrival at the impromptu “Welcome home” party, but didn’t ask any questions.
Since my personal items were still at the Bon Temps police station, I found Bill’s extra key that he left outside just in case. As I slid the key in the lock, I prayed that Danny Prideaux, Merlotte’s bouncer and Bill’s new daytime assistant, would be out on errands for Bill. It would only be trouble if Danny caught me sneaking through Bill’s house, not to mention his computer.
I slowly opened the door and triple checked that no one was inside. I didn’t register any human or Were brains, so stepped inside and headed back to the office.
Last time I entered Bill’s house without his permission, I had been looking for information that would lead me to his vampire sibling, Judith. That little bit of sleuthing saved Bill’s life – and likely broke Judith’s heart again since Bill couldn’t appreciate a good thing when it was handed to him. I shook my head and reminded myself to stay focused. It was best to get in and out.
Thankfully Bill hadn’t increased security on his vampire database. If anything, security looked more lax given the sheer volume of Bill’s inventory. Pretty soon, his little side business would outgrow the Compton Place. I was proud of Bill’s success.
Because I needed to do more extensive research this time, I took one of the cd cases from a partial stack in the back, careful not to touch anything else on the table. I opened the case and confirmed that Bill was still putting the passwords on a post-it note inside the case.
I decided to leave a note to cover my tracks a bit. Just next to the inventory, I spotted a pen and Post-Its. Since Danny would likely read this note too, I wanted to be careful with the contents. No sense in bringing him into my troubles too. Kennedy would never forgive me.
Bill – Mr. C. bailed me out. Could use some of your tracking skills if you have time this week.
I read it through and signed it. Good enough. Bill would likely feel gratified that I was asking for his help and hopefully wouldn’t think too much about me stopping by before dark. I put the sticky note on his monitor where he’d be sure to see it and headed for the door.
Just as I was locking up, I heard tires on the gravel driveway. Shit. Luckily, it was just Danny. I glanced at the sedan and noticed that Diantha was now casually leaning against the side of it, poised to intercede if there was any trouble. It also looked like the Weres had taken off to scan my woods. That was a stroke of luck. If anything, their presence would have only put Danny on the alert.
When Danny noticed me coming down the stairs, he slowed a bit and gave me a little wave. From his thoughts, I could tell Danny as surprised to see me out so soon. (I knew it. I just hoped that the judge hadn’t been glamoured or blackmailed into letting me out. Probably both.) He was also surprised to see me on Bill’s porch, but wasn’t on his guard. Good. I walked down the stairs and waited for him to get out of his car.
“Hey, Danny! Just stopped by to write a note to Bill. I could use some of his help, you know, with the investigation.” I was nervous again, so my smile was a little too taut.
“Hey, Sookie! Glad to see you a free woman again. Bar’s not the same without you.”
“Thanks, Danny. We both know you only have eyes for Kennedy when you’re on duty. The rest of us are just background noise. If you two aren’t working this afternoon, stop on by the house. My brother’s having putting on barbeque since I’m home and all.”
Danny smiled. “Thanks for the invite, but I’ll be tied up here today. Kennedy and I will swing by to check on you. She’s been real worried about you.”
“Appreciate it. Well, you tell her I’m holding strong.” I started to walk to the car and then remembered to leave a message for Bill. “Oh, Danny would you mind asking Bill to come by tomorrow night. I expect I’ll have some company tonight, but could use his help after that.”
Danny nodded. “Sure thing.”
As he walked up the stairs to the porch, I let out a sigh of relief and then felt a bit guilty. I had just successfully robbed Bill’s house right under the nose of his daytime man. If Bill found out, it might not be good for Danny.
After talking to Danny at normal speed, I took a split second to work out what Diantha said. “Nothing. Let’s get on over to the party.”
As I got back into the car, I carefully held the cd case against my stomach under my shirt. Mr. Cataliades raised his eyebrows but gave me another pass.
“I’ll tell you soon, Mr. Cataliades. I may need to ask a few favors, but I don’t know what they are yet.”
As we drove over to my house, I tried to put my mind at ease. I was out of jail. I was still alive. I had a tool that might help me stay alive for the foreseeable future. Not to mention two demon bodyguards. Now, I just needed to get through a family barbeque.