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Dead as a Doornail

Dead as a Doornail: Page 54

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No one would miss him. Oh my God! Charles borrowed my keys! I bet the man was in my trunk! Not dead, but hypnotized. Charles planted that card in the guy's pocket. The poor fella wasn't a member of the Fellowship of the Sun anymore than I am."

"It must have been frustrating for Charles, when he found you were surrounded by friends," Eric said a little coldly, since a couple of those "friends" had just clomped by noisily, using a trip to the john as a pretext to keep an eye on him.

"Yes, must have been." I smiled.

"You seem better than I expected," Eric said a little hesitantly. "Less traumatized, as they say now."

"Eric, I'm a lucky woman," I said. "Today I've seen more bad stuff than you can imagine. All I can think is, I escaped. By the way, Shreveport now has a new packmaster, and he's a lying, cheating bastard."

"Then I take it Jackson Herveaux lost his bid for the job."

"Lost more than that."

Eric's eyes widened. "So the contest was today. I'd heard Quinn was in town. Usually, he keeps transgressions to a minimum."

"It wasn't his choice," I said. "A vote went against Jackson; it should have helped him, but it... didn't."

"Why were you there? Was that blasted Alcide trying to use you for some purpose in the contest?"

"You should talk about using."

"Yes, but I'm straightforward about it," Eric said, his blue eyes wide and guileless.

I had to laugh. I hadn't expected to laugh for days, or weeks, and yet here I was, laughing. "True," I admitted.

"So, I'm to understand that Charles Twining is no more?" Eric asked quite soberly.

"That's correct."

"Well, well. The people here are unexpectedly enterprising. What damage have you suffered?"

"Broken rib."

"A broken rib is not much when a vampire is fighting for his life."

"Correct, again."

"When Bubba got back and I found he hadn't exactly delivered his message, I rushed here gallantly to rescue you. I had tried calling the bar tonight to tell you to beware, but Charles answered the phone every time."

"It was gallant of you, in the extreme," I admitted. "But, as it turns out, unnecessary."

"Well, then... I'll go back to my own bar and look at my own bar patrons from my own office. We're expanding our Fangtasia product line."


"Yes. What would you think of a nude calendar? 'Fangtasia's Vampire Hunks' is what Pam thinks it should be called."

"Are you gonna be in it?"

"Oh, of course. Mr. January."

"Well, put me down for three. I'll give one to Arlene and one to Tara. And I'll put one up on my own wall."

"If you promise to keep it open to my picture, I'll give you one for free," Eric promised.

"You got a deal."

He stood up. "One more thing, before I go."

I stood, too, but much more slowly.

"I may need to hire you in early March."

"I'll check my calendar. What's up?"

"There's going to be a little summit. A meeting of the kings and queens of some of the southern states. The location hasn't been settled, but when it is, I wonder if you can get time off from your job here to accompany me and my people."

"I can't think that far ahead just at the moment, Eric," I said. I winced as I began to walk out of the office.

"Wait one moment," he said suddenly, and justlikethat he was in front of me.

I looked up, feeling massively tired.

He bent and kissed me on my mouth, as softly as a butterfly's fluttering.

"You said I told you you were the best I'd ever had," he said. "But did you respond in kind?"

"Don't you wish you knew?" I said, and went back to work.

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