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The characters of the Southern Vampire Mysteries belong to Miss Charlaine Harris. No infringement on my part is intended. The characters on True Blood belong to Mr. Alan Ball. No infringement on my part is intended.

I have no BETA, editor, or other such charming person. All mistakes are my own.

 This story is rated M.

 Chapter 13

 Everyone enjoyed the popcorn and Cinderella.

Josiah and Sookie both were resting against Eric during the movie. “Before bedtime,” Eric hugged them both to him, “let us call Uncle Samuel.”

Sookie decided it was always fun to speak to Samuel. Eric’s brother had another book at the ready. This time it was Hershel and the Hanukah Goblins. After he read that one to them all she could think was, “Damn, he needs to have kids! What a great story teller!”

During this time, it was arranged that Samuel’s entourage would be here with the new dark to pick them up. Excited about those arrangements, Sookie and Josiah had gone to bed chatting away about breakfast and the trip to Colorado.

 

The evening had passed and Eric worked his contacts and checked in with Pam. Sunrise was going to be a horizon event in a couple of hours and they still had not heard back from his ladies who were eyes-on Castle Death. Appropriate name, Eric thought. He could hear noise coming from the kitchen.

Lafayette was in there, prepping for breakfast. Sookie had said she liked French toast and bacon and Josiah’s eyes had gotten round and Lafayette said he had this. That there would be stuffed French toast that could just go into the oven when Sookie woke and forty-five minutes later breakfast would be ready. That the bacon would come out at the same time and all she needed to do was make coffee and pour up their boy a glass of milk.

Eric was grateful for what Lafayette had brought into the mix.   More than grateful. Taking on HRM in her New Orleans compound would have been doable. He knew that place, the ins and outs and who could be bribed and who was on someone’s other than HRM’s pay role. At least half of Sophie-Anne’s day staff was being subsidized by HRM Florida. All of her night staff was for hire and HRM Mississippi paid for the privilege of knowing when a human farted in her mansion. HRM of Mississippi believed there was no such thing as too  much information and he wanted to know everything.

Eric stuck his head in the kitchen. “Lafayette, is it possible for you to contact the ladies?”

“I has never tried that,” he replied as he put the bacon on the cookie sheet. Washing his hands he was thoughtful. “Hm,”he placed the bacon in the fridge. He took off a plain gold band he wore on his little finger. There was a Mason emblem stamped into it.

“On my Uncle Jean’s side, they were free men, not slaves,” he began as a way of explaining. “Great-Great-Great Uncle Benjamin, he belonged to the African Lodge in Boston, chartered out of England. This ring was his and is passed down in the family. At one time, Jean wore it as well. I am just going to sit here and stare at it, call out his name, maybe cuss a little and see what happens.”

“Thank you,” Eric bowed his head and went back to the living room. Pam was on her way over and she wanted to talk about the war to come. It would be best to let her not get too wound up. He was just a hair’s breath away from loosing control! Just a small nudge in that direction was all he needed! He could be on the New Orleans’ coast in less than ten minutes. And Compton could be dead just twelve short minutes from now!

“Do not linger there,” Eric chided himself as he thought about the silver particles he had suspended in the Sucks to be You artificial blood in an IV format. If you set the bag for slow drip it could last for two days. Why, if you had twelve of them, that could be twenty four days, if you had a thousand of them….that was two thousand days….and if you divided that by three hundred and sixty five…why that was 5.47945205 years that Compton could be on a slow drip of silver solution with just enough It Sucks flowing into him to keep him alive…barely, while he screamed in agonizing pain.

That thought gave him a lot of satisfaction and a smile. Eric then laughed out loud. “Right, like Compton could last that long. He would die from the bleeds before he did anything else. No stamina at all. By the end of the second day he would be a goo spot on the floor.”

There was a noise of multiples coming from the kitchen. When he stuck his head in, Billy and Jean were there, water dripping from them. Their dresses had been left behind.

“Shower and towels,” Eric said, “are downstairs if you are interested.”

“Thanks,” Jean answered. “But we’ll be just fine as soon as we throws off this stink. Back to one-hundred percents in five, four, three, two, one.”

In the kitchen stood two well-dressed and nicely coiffed spooks. Hair and makeup perfect.

“Let’s get started,” Billy was all business as he sat down at the table. “Big Sugar, if you have something to draw with, we have a lot to talk about. We are going to start under the castle and work up.”

“Wait one, I’ll make a call. Pamela will have what is needed. There is a pad of paper and pencils in living room. We can start by making maps and doing some sketches until she gets here.”

When Pam came in, Eric merely motioned her over with his head. She was all too familiar with how Eric did business. He was tactical and exact, doing mock-ups and replicas when possible.   Laying out the art supplies, everyone took a packet of card stock, a pencil and a ruler and listened as Billy described what they saw.

Picking up a pair of fine work scissors, Pam looked at the map of the ground floor that was being sketched out and began cutting and fitting pieces together.

The five sat at the table. Jean sketched each level. Billy was making corrections as the paper castle began to go up.

Once or twice Lafayette excused himself to go puke. His uncles would pat his hand when he came back but continued on with what they had seen and the perversions and horrific deaths they had witnessed.

As they worked, Eric was listening for names and the ladies had caught one or two and gave descriptions of everyone else who had come to play. Some he knew, others he did not but they all went on his to-be-killed list because they had all come to bid on Sookie.

The mock-up was top quality.   It looked like Lafayette could hold his own in this crowd. He had probably studied drafting at one time. He marked each piece with the dimensions and left 1/8th of an inch to fold and glue to the next piece. Eric was impressed. This human took care of his mother, had tread lightly enough amongst the vampire population to know the Sheriff of Area Five’s name and feared him and loved Sookie. Not to mention he had relatives that were most excellent spies.

Whatever Lafayette’s sins were, he cared not. That was the past and Eric was walking into the future and taking this young man with him. From what Sookie and said and not said, her brother Jason sounded like a waste of time. But Lafayette, Sookie had said, he had won scholarships and had attended Tulane but had to quit because his mother needed special care. And now he was stuck. Working multiple dead-end jobs so his mother did not have to deal with her reality.

Loyalty…

…you could not buy it and when you found it in someone, they were generally worth getting to know. Even if they were against everything you stood for. If a person was loyal, you knew where they stood at all times. And if they thought you needed your head removed…you could always count on them to take that stand and you could plan accordingly.

And his team…they were planning, Eric observed. The castle…rightly named. This place was a fucking monster built of mega ton rocks and had withstood what Mother Nature had thrown at it.

There were four floors constructed of card stock that rose up off their foundation. As best as could be guessed, it was all to scale. Each layer could be detached and lifted off, giving the viewer a more intimate inspection.

With their pencils as pointers, Billy and Jean were now capable of walking them through.

Billy was giving a tour of the basement. “There has been no one looking about on ground level under the building in ages. There is twelve feet of solid rock from the sand up making the foundation. The stone henge was incorporated into these foundation stones and sits in the middle of this massive rock layer. They have it laid out like a clock face.

Down here, there is enough headroom so you can walk around and upright. Big Sugar,” his eyes went to Eric, “you woulds have to duck.” Then his attention was back on the group. “But the rest of us mere-mortals would do just fines.

There is nothing else there now except for spiders and webs. Now, here and here,” he pointed to the rock walls, “are doors that lead to the outside. They pivot and the release catch is here. Clearly, those have been forgotten about. The sand has blown up around the base of the castle and vegetation has grown in. You would not even know that this sits on a twelve-foot foundation. There are three sets of stairs that go up, to the main part, located here, here, and here,” he said pointing with his pencil. “There are lots of secret passages running through this place. We walked through most. Does not look like the dust has been disturbed.”

“Interesting that they are unknown,” Eric was thoughtful as he watched Billy trail with his pencil through the first floor. When they placed the second floor back onto the replica, Billy continued on with his secret passage walk.

“Sun will be up soon,” Eric said, as he looked at Pamela. “If you are staying here, that is fine, but if want to be someplace else, now would be the time to move that way.”

“What about you?” she asked.

“I am singing the sunbeam song,” he grinned. “I think I can be up for a while.”

“Auntie Pam!” they all heard the excited little voice as Josiah stuck his head in the kitchen. “Daddy,” Josiah ran toward Eric, the smiled covering his face. “I had to go pee and I heard you in hear talkin’. Is it time for breakfast yet?”

“Little man,” Lafayette smiled at him. “Let’s yous Uncle La La get breakfast in the oven. By the time we has done this and that and maybe had us a shower, it will be time to eat.”

“Oh-h-h,” Josiah admired the castle that sat on the table. “Is that where the snow is?” he asked. “Is that where we are goin? Do they keep the puppies there? And the dogs? The ones that pull the sled?”

“No my son,” Eric sighed and then kissed him on the nose. “This is not that place. However, when we leave tonight, this castle shall be going with us. After you and your mother are tucked into bed where it snows, it will give me and your Uncle Samuel something to look at.”

“Okay,” he grinned. “Are we gonna shower now? I like that big shower,” Josiah wrapped his arms and legs around Eric’s torso and kissed him. “And those big towels. Momma wrapped me in one and she said I got lost in it. She could not find me,” he laughed.

“Go ons now,” Lafayette stood and shewed all of them out of the kitchen. “Breakfast is goin’ in right now. You gets all showered and smellin’ nice and when your momma smells the bacon cookin, she will be up and comin’ this way.”

Josiah leaned over from his daddy’s arms and gave his Uncle La La a kiss. “We’ll be right back,” he smiled. “All clean and ready for breakfast!”

“I’ll be heres waitin’,” Lafayette hugged him. “Now go ons,” he motioned them off with both hands. Watching them as they walked down the hall, he could not help but smile. Moments like this should last a lifetime. A father and son wrapped in each others arms. That vision could give the world hope.

“And you two,” he turned back to the kitchen and raised an eyebrow at his uncles. “I see the pinks you are wearin’,” he rolled his eyes. “This was not my show and you could wear whatevers…and I see that you has…but I now reign in the kitchen…you want to sits in here with the family, that has gots to go,” he said with a snap of his fingers.

“What do you thinks about navy with polka dots for daywear?” Jean asked as both spooks were now dressed in a variation of old Hollywood daytime out and about complete with hat and gloves.

“Lovely,” Lafayette nodded. “I’d go with a blue-red lipstick and nails. Peep toed shoes. A bit much for breakfast, but nice. Why, what you two ups tos?”

“We is going back in,” Billy smiled.

“No one stopped us because we was dressed,” Jean nodded. “Those with clothes on, has the power, everyone else…” he paused for a moment, “those that is naked, they is just entertainment.”

“You two be careful,” Lafayette’s voice was soft. “I means it. Vamps go to ground during the day and things just might get a might bit uglier. No tellin’ if wards was sets or not. I mean it, proceed carefully.   And Mr. Eric, when he can’t go along to lop off heads, he likes to be in the know. Check in occasionally so we don’t’s worry.”

“Will do,” Jean answered. “We is just gonna go check the mirror in this bathroom and be gone. Walk on the beach until the sun comes up and then go take a look-see who is settin’ down for breakfast in the Castle Death.”

 

Sookie was coming up through the layers of sleep. She was speaking intently with a crow when she smelled…she smelled…taking a deep whiff she followed her nose right on up and sat up in bed. “Bacon,” she wiggled her eyebrows. “And French toast and coffee,” she wiggled them again.

“Momma!” was shouted and then she was being charged by something that smelled the best of all. Her clean little guy and his daddy!

“Sun is just about up,” Sookie said to Eric as he tossed Josiah onto the bed and then jumped on after him.

“I am singing the sunbeam song in my head,” he grinned. “The sun and I have become one.”

“That’s right Momma,” Josiah nodded, his face earnest. “Daddy can hear Mr. Sunshine’s song and that means Mr. Sunshine can hear Daddy’s. So they are sharing in the music.”

Sookie’s eyes got wide as she looked from Josiah to Eric back to Josiah and then looked toward the window where it was getting lighter by the second.

“Well, just to be on the safe side, let’s keep Daddy out of Mr. Sunbeam’s path, what do you say.”

“Okay,” Josiah nodded as he jumped up and down on the bed and into Eric’s outstretched arms.

“Lafayette says breakfast is ready,” Eric winked at her. “I know I am ready to eat,” he wiggled his eyebrows.

“Mm, Momma, bacon…” and her boy wiggled his eyebrows, just like his daddy. “That smells good!” he said rubbing his tummy.

“You two just go on now,” she said sagely. “I’ll slip out of my jammies and get dressed and be there before the bacon is all gone.”

When Eric and Josiah stood, Sookie jumped out of bed and ran laughing toward the kitchen. “Ha! I am Goldilocks and the bacon is jussssst right! All for me! Woohoo! Lafayette! Quick! Poppa Bear and Baby Bear are on their way, hide the little piggy!”

There were incoming squeals and laughter behind her and when Sookie eyed the paper castle in the middle of the table she stopped. “The Rightful Queen of Scotland, huh?” she slowly walked around the table.

“Complete with hidden passages,” Eric smiled lazily. “Ones that the present owner knows nothing about. Ones that can be accessed from the outside when no one is looking.”

“Interesting,” Sookie said, arched an eyebrow at Eric as if to say don’t you dare and then smiled at her boys. Pouring a cup of coffee for herself and Lafayette, her eyes went back to the mock-up. “I’m hungry. Let’s eat.”

 

Eric ate the cream cheese mixed with the orange marmalade filling from the French toast and the entire thing enchanted Josiah! The maple syrup was set over between he and Lafayette. Sookie kept crumbling up the bacon and adding it to the top of hers along with just a smidge more of syrup!

“Sun is up,” she said as she got up and closed the curtains. “How are you feelin’?” she asked Eric.

“Good,” he nodded, “but I think I’d like to watch Fantasia, again, just to make sure I stay on track.”

Nodding her head, she got up from the table. “I want to do the visual where the TV is. I’ll be right back.”

The curtains were drawn in the living room. When it was declared a no sunbeam zone, Sookie sent the guys in to watch. “I’ve got the kitchen,” she hugged Lafayette. “Thanks, that was delicious.”

“My pleasure,” he smiled at her.

“I know you have been up all night. I don’t want you drivin’ back until you sleep, some.”

“Got that’s,” he grinned. “That extra bedroom is callin’ my name. And I told the Aunties to check in from time to time.”

“What?” Sookie paused in drying a dish.

“They changed to day wear and went back. Tolds them to be careful…vamps by day is way more cautious then vamps by night.”

“Thanks,” she hugged him, again. “Get some rest.”

 

Billy and Jean strolled arm and arm through the castle, fluttering their fans and smiling politely.

They passed one large open room with a cage in it that held twenty nude humans; a mix of male and female. There were people milling about demanding to know when the show started; others, their slave becoming their bench to sit upon while they had their drink of choice.

“Feeding time,” one of the male guests smiled at them as he pointed to the two guards up on the walkway above them, carrying a body on a board . “My name is Peter,” he eyed them knowingly, running his tongue around his lips and then nervously chewed on his little finger. “I just love mornings rituals,” he gushed. “This is one of the best times I have had in a while and watching these animals have breakfast makes me hard and I have not slept in a week!” The sisters smiled prettily at him and that gave him the courage to go on.

“What makes it so special,” he giggled, “is that they are all junkies. Just the worst of the lot. I mean there are plenty of us humans here that are using,” he covered his mouth and giggled louder, “but as you can see, these are just animals. Not even housebroken. They have soiled themselves! Oh, here goes their breakfast now!” he laughed gleefully as one of the guards grabbed a rope that opened the top of the cage. That started the howling and screaming down below. “See,” he smiled, “they know it is feeding time!”

Jean squeezed Billy’s arm. Clearly, it was a dead body. One covered in its own waste and vomit and had been knifed, repeatedly.

“It is just the best,” Peter simpered as he watched. “The body has been rolled in heroin and maybe some shoved up her ass and a few other places,” he smiled wickedly. “Oh, delicious,” he laughed when the body was dumped from the board down to the floor. Fights and screaming broke out while others were immediately horizontal on top of the body, their mouths searching to suckle for the life giving substance.

“You see that little blonde, the one with her mouth giving the dead beast the tongue bath, she’s part fae. Of the Stackhouse faes,” he said with surety. “Sophie-Anne says the Stackhouses are the oldest fae family left in the New World. And the easiest to get hooked on whatever their owner likes…drugs, sex, pain…” he giggled, again. “Or maybe all three! I am so bidding on her at the auction. Just look at her work it. Sucking on that dead bitch’s nose, oh, she must have scored. She has stopped screaming and clawing and look at the smile on her face.”

“Yes,” the spooks both said as they fluttered their fans and walked off.

“Enough of this,” Billy said as they sashayed down the hall and then stopped. The shadows on the floor were taking form and coming to life!

“As the sun comes in the windows,” Jean took a polite step back. “There is a spell waking up. Would you just look at that! I hear it asking the question, do you have an invitation?”

“Well I thinks we do, but our invitation-in is different then I am sure what was sent out. Careful as we go,” Billy smiled and nodded to the couple who just passed them, disappointed that they had missed the feeding frenzy.

“Into the library and on past the stacks and here we are,” Billy smiled. “Secret passage. Let us get to the western side of the building where there is no sunlight yet, taking notes but being careful and push out and haul ass on home.”

 

The Aunties came into the living room.

“Good, Fantasia,” they smiled.

“We could use a few more pointers,” Billy sat down next to Eric and tickled Josiah on the bottom of his feet.

With a giggle, Josiah leaned over and gave him a kiss.

“Thank you for that, baby boy. You has fixed what ails me. I feel all better now.”

“Did you have an owie?” Josiah asked, his hand patting Billy on the face.

“I dids. One on my heart, but you have done loved it away,” Billy’s voice was soft and full of peace.

“Does Auntie Jean need a kiss?” he asked in his little boy voice as he gave him a smile.

“I sure snuff do,” he sighed as he sat down on the other side of Eric.

Josiah reached over and hugged Jean’s neck and gave him a kiss.

“You feel all better now? You need another kiss?” he asked.

“I would take all the kisses you could spare, but your Momma and Daddy and I know that your Uncle La La would sure nuff have somethin’ to say about that. Mr. Josiah, woulds you minds sittin’ here with us and explainin’ about the colors and the music?” Jean asked.

“Your momma is ‘bout through in the kitchen,” Eric smiled at his boy. “Would you miss me if I helped her wash her hair?”

“No Daddy,” he grinned. “I like it when you help me wash mine.”

“Thank you my son,” Eric kissed him again. “I’ll go get your mother and then we’ll shower and be back up.”

“We like that big shower, Daddy,” Josiah smiled. “I’ll be right here with my Aunties.”

When Eric looked over at Billy, Billy made a face and shook his head no!

“We won’t be long,” was all Eric said as he went to get Sookie.

 

 

When Eric and Sookie came back up, Billy motioned them into the kitchen. “I drew the short straw,” was all he said as they sat down.

“I feel like I am sitting in the shadow of that thing,” Sookie eyed the castle as Eric helped her into a chair.

“’Cause you are Miss Sookie,” Billy said, his voice low as his eyes went to Eric. Billy knew where the threat lay. He also knew that the Viking was holding it together by sheer will alone.

Eric sat down and his eyes began to blaze. “If you had to draw straws. This cannot be good. Just tell us,” was all he said and Billy began.

“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit,” Sookie was mumbling. “Oh shit…” she felt Eric’s grasp on her hand get tighter.

“Stackhouse,” she wiped at the tears. “Josiah’s last name is Stackhouse. If they find out about him…” she was grasping Eric’s hand with both of hers.

“You cannot Big Sugar,” Billy said, “go rampaging down there during the day. Like I said, they have spells and wards and other serious shit floating on the breeze and in the shadows.”

Sookie stood up and climbed into Eric’s lap and wrapped herself around him as she felt herself being eaten by fear.

“Momma,” Josiah stuck his head in and then hurried in. Sookie scooped him up in her arms.

“Momma, don’t cry,” he patted her face. “I love you,” he kissed her. “Please don’t cry,” he kissed her again.

Eric put his arm around both of them, the rage lessening and his brain once more in control. “We need two weeks,” he smiled at his son and kissed him on the nose. “As a family, where we can play in the snow and sit by the fire and watch Fantasia. That movie is about old, deep, magic. Which is composed of music.”

Sookie looked up at him, the panic gone. “Well yes, I never thought of it that way. But, if you can day walk and eat food, anything is possible,” she smiled at him.

“Yes,” he grinned. “You know water goes wherever it wants, too. That is just the physics of water. Samuel said something about the worst of them maybe showing up in two weeks. We will be ready,” he smiled.

“Hadley,” the word escaped her lips.

“Billy, can you carry something tangible in?”

“For instance?”

“Say face powder? In a compact?”

“I think if I was to tuck it into my clothing, it could ride.”

“I am going to need to talk to Pam when she rises,” his hand was stroking Sookie’s. “We cannot take Hadley out, but we can manage her ending,” was all Eric said as Sookie nodded in understanding.

“If you do not want to do this,” Eric began. “With the secret passages, I could manage a way in.”

“Big Sugar,” Billy patted his hand. “It will be a blessing to her. What they has in store for her…this is a mercy.”

 

Eric, Sookie and Josiah spent the day cuddling on the couch. They read, sang songs, and listened to Eric’s Viking stories. Around four, they packed what few things they were taking, woke Lafayette and then had dinner.

When the dark fell, Lafayette was out the door.   Once more dressed in his jeans and white button down, he collected his keys and motored toward home. “You can just follows me,” he smiled as his foot hit the 9mm that was tucked under his seat. “You thinks to fuck with me, not if I can fucks with you first.”

Pam appeared at ten. “Uncut,” was all she said to Eric as she handed him the compact. “Instant heart attack.”

“Thank you child,” he kissed her on the forehead. “You know the drill. I’m out drinking and whoring if New Orleans comes looking. Anyone looks at you cross-eyed, kill them then get to Samuel’s.”

“Will do,” she nodded and then she was gone.

“Jean. Billy,” Eric turned to the two spooks. “Thank you both. Check in with Lafayette later tonight and he will call us. We want to know that you are just fine.”

“Will do,” Billy nodded. Taking the compact, he placed it inside his bra.

“Ronnie has opened the garage door and is now closing it. Samuel’s car is here. Thank you,” he bowed his head to them.

“We gots this,” they both smiled and then vanished.

The family got into the limo and waited while the baggage was loaded. Once everyone was settled and Uncle Samuel was loved on, the car pulled out and was gone into the night.

Ronnie was putting away his tools. It had been a good day. He had accomplished what needed to be done.  It was time to lock up.

There was a knock at his outside door. Grinning he went to open it. Some folks could just not help themselves.

“Packmaster,” the out-of-town Were bowed his head respectfully. “Was that…?” he swallowed. “Was that really…?”

“You mean in the back seat of that limo, probably with his ass hanging out the sunroof, the biggest movie star to fall from the heavens? Yes,” he nodded as he continued putting away his tools.  Samuel Da’vid was just the best!  He could throw his glamour out into the universe and make you believe that you had seen God and all the Apostles ringing your door bell.  This poor dumb Were.  He wanted to believe.  Hell, he could show this dumb fuck the crack in his ass and tell him it was the Mississippi River and he would believe it.

“They were here? In your garage? How? Why?”

“Because,” he smiled, knowing Samuel would laugh his ass of when he told him this story. “Shreveport is a stopping off place for the rich and famous. Yes really, who knew?” Ronnie laughed out loud when he saw the confusion on this stupid fuck’s face. “New Orleans, one direction, Dallas the other or maybe they have a taste for a Southern Belle and take off for Atlanta then head on down to Miami for some blow straight from the factory.

I am on their speed dial. When they are really fucked up, they want to play with my tools. Get under the hood. Get their hands dirty. Remember the days when they used to change their own oil. Struggled to make ends meet. I believe it is called slumming. And for a price, I let them slum. But not to long and for a lot of money. I take their credit card and run fifty-thousand on it. The Mrs. hates it when I get called to come in during the night so they can have a beer and cry. They have to pay to keep me in her good graces.”

“Damn,” the out-of-town Were was all kinds of impressed. “How did you meet him?”

“Used to be his stunt double,” he grinned. Ronnie started laughing.  Samuel was five foot even.  He was six six. He had muscles in his shit, his wife would tell him. Big deal! Samuel could bench press the Empire State Building with Eric standing on top of it if he had a mind too. “Now,” he regarded the Were,  “Move your ass on out of here. I am going home.”

 

Out-of-town Were, Clyde Fuller, was at Merlotte’s having a beer, more than one and wishing he was on anyone’s speed dial beside his probation’s officer.

“Do you know Ronnie’s Garage, in Shreveport?” he asked Lafayette who was pulling beers at the moment.

“Do,” Lafayette replied. “He is the only person who knows how to works on my ride.”

“He opened up tonight for like, maybe thirty minutes and made fifty thousand dollars.”

“His twin must be back in town,” Lafayette rolled his eyes. Northman had said Samuel had the best glamour in the world and specialized in movie stars.  When it came to Eric and his friends, seeing was not always believing.  The Northman had a flair for the dramatic and liked to leave you with your eyes bugging out.

“What?” Clyde said, slurring his words as Lafayette refilled his glass.

“Ronnie used to be a stunt double in the Wood of Holly before he bought his garage. Broke somethin’ or another and was out of the stunt business.”

“Did you know his upstairs was haunted?” Clyde said conspiratorially.

“Oh fuck yes,” Lafayette said and crossed himself.  “God please and Jesus, his La La finest is praying.  Please…I knows I don’t deserve this kind of entertainment, but thanks you!”

Leaning in he whispered.  “Everybody knows that. Whatever you dos, do not be lookin’ at them spooks. They will chat yous up. And like Rip Van Winkle, you will wakes up twenty years gones.”

“Who?” Clyde asked. “The wrestler? Does he know Ronnie too?”

“You bet,” Lafayette smiled his fakest, turned to get a glass and the tequila, left the glass and took the bottle and rolled his eyes. “Dumb-ass cracker,” he rolled his eyes again. “Probably cannot reads his own name. I has gots to get back to the kitchen. Blue agaves, it is you and mes for a bit. Glass not required.”

 

Hadley had a case of the shakes. She was not a stranger to withdrawal, but tonight she was to be branded. Stackhouse was to be burned on her just above the crack in her ass. They had already shaved her pubis. It was to go there as well.

The bath felt wonderful. She had clawed, bit, and killed her way through a game of Fuck You and she was the winner and her prize was a this tub of hot water. A lovely bath that she did not have to share.

“Hey sugar,” she heard the voice and raised her eyes.

“You are so pretty,” Hadley lifted her swollen face. “I used to be pretty,” she smiled.

“You still are,” Billy stroked her head. “I gots somethin’ for you to ease the pain a bit.”

Taking out the compact, Billy opened it.

Hadley’s smile covered her face, exposing her missing teeth.

“Now look here,” Billy’s voice was gentle, “I has this straw made from this here bill. You just have some of this and you will be on top of the world.”

“Yes,” she smiled. “I like living on top of the world.”

Billy got down on his knees next to the tub. “Here you let me hold the compact while you inhale.”

“That’s a lot,” her eyes cut to him. “Do I need to share it with you?   I hurt all over. I don’t know if I can share?”

“That is just fine, it is all for you baby girl,” he stroked her hair.

For a moment, the old Hadley struggled to the surface. The one who liked for her momma to brush her hair at night and read her stories. “Will you hold my hand,” and Billy saw the tears form.

“Of course, baby girl. I am right here with you.”
Hadley finished the first line, smiled and then her heart seized as she slipped into the water.

“I fucking hate this place,” he wiped the tears from his eyes. “Big Sugar, work your plan,” he sobbed, “and put it in the sea!”

Taking a step, Jean was there by his side. “You did good,” he whispered to him. “Let’s go home.”