My Telepathic Friend
A/N- This Pam POV one shot takes place immediately after the first chapter of Charlaine Harris's Dead and Gone, and my two POVs in, Dead and Gone, With The Wind. You can read the first chapter of Book 9, Dead and Gone on Charlaine Harris's website. Charlaine Harris writes the Southern Vampire Series/Sookie Stackhouse Series, and I hope that she doesn't mind my borrowing her characters for a bit.
It had been one argument after another. First she didn't want to be picked up in Bon Temps because it was 'stupid' to waste gas driving there, driving back to Shreveport, then back to Bon Temps to drop her back at home or the bar. After explaining that it wasn't stupid because that was what I'd been told I should do, and explaining it not once but several times, I felt lucky she agreed to meet me at the mall at the west side entrance to Dillards. That was after the argument over which mall because she liked Pierre Bossier, but the Dillards there was smaller than the one at St. Vincent. Since St. Vincent was closer, she thankfully consented to meet me there at 7 pm, so we could shop. She needed clothes for the Vegas trip. I was already edgy not to be doing it exactly the way Eric wanted it to be done, but she was getting so upset arguing with me that it got to the point where I thought I should give her the space and let her drive into Shreveport on her own. It really would be so much easier if she could glamoured, I lamented to myself as I waited in my car outside Dillards.
She looked distracted. She was wearing black slacks, a black jacket and a white Merlotte's turtleneck sweater that fit her snuggly. She had on black flats. Just a touch of makeup and her hair in a ponytail, high on the back of her head. She looked like she had lost a bit of weight since I last saw her. But she had been very busy. It was her first night away from the shifter's bar in more than two weeks and it showed in that she looked really tired. She had been working about sixteen hours a day from what I gathered when we'd spoken on the phone. Before we went into the department store, she checked to make sure she really had her cell phone in her purse, in case there were problems before she got back for closing. She was still managing everything at the bar. The shifter was still in Texas with his mother. How quaint.
I greeted her with a kiss and said, "Good evening, my vaguely fae telepathic friend." I did not think it necessary to mention how tired she looked. The shifter really owed her.
She laughed at my greeting. "Pam," she said as she hugged me, which caught me of guard, and returned the kiss on the cheek. "I've missed you!"
She complimented me on my peach cable knit sweater, which was blended silk and alpaca, and took my arm as we walked into the department store. She seemed talkative but she was still somewhat guarded. She seemed on edge every time I mentioned Eric, so I made sure to mention him often, to get her over it. Plus, I have to admit, it's fun seeing her look exasperated.
"So what are you looking for tonight, Pam?" she said in an attempt to change the subject away from Eric.
"Corsets. But not here. Do you have a list?"
She looked at me, and then stopped walking.
"Pam, I can shop on my own for what I need for the trip. If this is some kind of setup where you're supposed to supervise my shopping and try to pay for anything, it is not going to work for me. I thought we were just going to have fun looking at stuff together?"
"I am having fun, Sookie. I'm not having to deal with legions of mindless idiot fangbangers. I'm looking at clothes I like, that are not work related. This is fun." I made sure to say it all in a monotone to maximize the effect.
Sookie laughed. "Pam, honestly, I am not your job. Really. When we agreed to do this, I thought you were just offering your company and good advice on what was appropriate."
I started to ask about the list again, but Sookie cut me off.
"No, I don't exactly have a list. What I have is a budget."
"But Eric said you just got paid by Felipe?"
"I did get paid. But I live in a world in which that money goes first to the house, for property taxes, then homeowners insurance, which is higher than ever since Katrina, even though I'm not in a stupid floodplain, my car insurance, upkeep for the house, upkeep for the car, and then half of the remaining funds, if any, get put into savings. Basically, I have about five hundred dollars left for clothes."
She had to be kidding. "Sookie, five hundred dollars is not going to cover what you need. You told me you lost all your newer dressy clothes in Rhodes."
"So I will get a few new things and take some older things, Pam. You know, this is the way most of the rest of the world lives."
Since she left me no choice, I took out my list. At least two formal dresses, a cocktail dress, four suits/professional outfits, one for each day, and dressy casual for going to the two shows. And perhaps special undergarments for the formal dresses. And then shoes. And the jewelry. She needed jewelry that was appropriate for the outfits. So fifteen hundred perhaps? Plus luggage, I thought. I wonder if she replaced the luggage she lost in Rhodes? Probably not.
We went upstairs to see the formal dresses and every dress she was pulling from the rack was dark, very dark. Black, navy? Too drab.
"Sookie why don't you try something lighter? Look at this, in a warm lilac. It would be great with your eyes and hair. Or cornflower blue? Look at this one with the beading. It goes nicely with your eyes."
She examined the tag before she even looked at the dress and shook her head.
"Pam, the word of the day is budget. B-u-d-g-e-t. Say it with me. Budget."
"No. And why are you looking at such dark colors?"
"I'm tired of discarding clothing because of bloodstains. If it gets ripped that's one thing, but blood spatters? It's enough already. No more ice blue, pale pink, lilac, or anything very light. You can never get the stains out, because believe me, I've tried."
I shook my head. "Are you expecting a battle in Vegas? Because I really don't think…"
Sookie cut me off. "Trust me Pam. I've had enough experience to know I'm not getting some pale colored dress only to have it ruined. I've ruined more good clothing in the past two years than I had in my whole entire life before two years ago. No more."
She gravitated toward the sales rack. There were not many size 8 dresses on the rack and I knew none of them were suitable, just barely looking at them.
"Sookie, you know you need these clothes in a professional sense, and we can provide you with funds…"
She stood pretty much eye to eye with me, since I was in heels. She said in a low tone of voice "Bullshit, Pam. Eric is not buying me any clothes. I am not an Area 5 business expenditure. A professional appearance is required when you're being paid to do a job. I am not working. I'm attending some kind of celebration of Felipe's being able to successfully kill off poor Sophie-Anne and take over Louisiana and Arkansas, after killing a lot of other people I knew and liked on top of it. I am not happy to attend, I have a budget, and I'm wearing dark colors. Are we square?"
Well, she had made her points clear, yes. As much as she is often difficult, I've always really liked her for the way she thinks about us. She actually really meant it. I could tell. She was still upset over Sophie-Anne, and Arla Yvonne and Cleo and many of the others. And Sophie-Anne had sent Bill Compton to basically seduce her. She forgave Sophie-Anne but wouldn't forgive Bill for not coming clean about it. Well, she did have her priorities straight on that one. I found myself lingering on the idea that she really cared about all of them. They were real to her, people no different from herself, at least in her eyes, even if they might have looked down on her. Although, I had the feeling that Sophie-Anne had really liked her immensely. And I knew Cleo and Arla got a real kick out of her. I couldn't help but think back on Rhodes and what she'd done to save us. Eric had told me she literally slapped him as hard as she could to get him to wake up enough to help put me in one of the coffins. I could see her trying to save him. Because no matter what lie of the month she's telling herself, the way she feels about him is just so obvious. But that she fought so hard to save me… I still wasn't over it. Still couldn't talk about it. It was somehow harder to feel so superior with her now. Vamps first, I reminded myself, just as I had told her before Rhodes. But I wasn't so sure, really. Not where she was concerned. I was happy we were officially protecting her now. It removed the difficulty of explaining any choices later. Because really, in a choice between Sookie and quite a few people, I was getting to the point where I knew the telepath was my choice.
"What about red? You look great in red and Eric loves red. You could get a dark red dress right?" I said as I pulled her firmly toward a rack with red dresses with some beading and sequins. There was an 8 and the dress, which had a décolleté neckline, was a gorgeous cranberry red. But it was $198.
She took out her cell phone and called someone, which was a little unexpected. She put her hand on my arm as if asking for patience.
"Claudine, I wanted to find out if you were able to check on the discount? Yeah, I'm here at the one at St. Vincent. Well, I guess…" She looked at me, a bit worried. "Um, I'm here with Pam. Eric's Pam. Yes, that Pam, Claudine." She rolled her eyes and tipped the phone away from her ear a bit as she walked away from me a ways. She mouthed 'excuse me' to me. As I glanced through some of the other dresses, I could still hear her at a distance saying in a much lower voice "Because she's my friend, Claudine… Well you dress like you're in a harem half the time, and while it looks wonderful on you, that's not my style. She knows what's appropriate for this type of thing and she's generous to be spending her night off to help me shop… No, I don't want to go. I told you, it's one of those invitations you can't refuse deals… Yes, I am cranky. You're right. I'm cranky and really tired and I never want to own my own bar. Ever. I'm sorry if I'm cranky with you but I just want to get this over and done with."
I had just found a deep Prussian blue dress that was in silk satin, with beaded trim on the neckline. It was bias cut, and would really flatter. They had an 8 and a 10. I slipped both off the rack and grabbed the cranberry red dress in the 8. It was just a bit more A line, looking her over I was sure the 8 would fit. I remembered she had that black wrap the Were had given her. I wondered if she had taken it to Rhodes. I didn't remember seeing her wear it. That would go with the red dress. But then she'd need something for the blue because a black wrap would be too dark.
She walked back over to me. "I'm sorry, Pam. Claudine works at the Dillards in Monroe and she gets an employee discount of about twenty percent. She's going to come at the end of our shopping here and use her employee ID to get me a discount."
"I suppose you expect me to promise not to go for her at the register, right?"
Sookie burst into laughter and really grinned. "Yes, Pam. Definitely a wash for the evening if that happens."
She looked at the Prussian blue dress with interest but reached for the tag. I swatted her hand away. "Let's have you try them on first, okay? Then we worry about the price."
"That attitude has financially ruined many women and many marriages, Pam."
"You should marry me. I'd understand. And it would totally piss Eric off."
"Flattering, but this is Louisiana, Pam, not Vermont," she chuckled. She was looking at the dress admiringly.
I laughed. She has such a good sense of humor and doesn't miss a beat, this little human. But I still didn't let her see the tag.
In the changing room we found that the red dress, while hard to get into on your own because of the way it zipped, looked really flattering. She said had a good strapless bra she could use, at home. I noticed while she was changing out of the dress that there wasn't a mark on her. Not even a healed mark, because with a careful eye you could always see it for several weeks after. This was very surprising. He'd been there on the weekend for the past two weeks, and had 'visited' her at the shifter's bar twice a week during the week since he started seeing her again. But not a mark on her. After struggling with the cut of her bra and the silk dress she looked a bit shy as she took the bra off and finished pulling on the dress. No bite marks. Even on the breasts. She has really great breasts… But I realized I was making her uncomfortable by staring at them in the mirror reflection with my fangs down a bit, so I tried to focus on how the dress looked as I zipped it up. And it looked fantastic. We were getting both. No matter what she said. My mind strayed back to the lack of bite marks. There was only one conclusion to be drawn from that and it was very surprising to me. Because he'd certainly been refusing people left and right at the bar. So she still didn't trust him, obviously. Well, that's going to be an interesting trip, I thought to myself with a wry smile. And Eric being refused, for several weeks? This was rich. It was so rich, I'd have to be very careful about it. He might not take teasing about that well. I'd find a way, though.
We left the two size 8 dresses with the clerk and headed over to look at suits. She was focused on jackets rather than any full suits and said that she'd just get two jackets and wear them over slacks or skirts she already had. She said she'd just accessorize and that she already had one complete outfit that was fine to wear, anyway. She still wasn't sure why she had to dress for business if she wasn't actually working, but better safe than sorry, we agreed. After about ten minutes she had two jackets, one that was very well cut in black and another that was just okay in navy blue with a pinstripe. She said the latter would look good with a pair of ivory slacks she had.
"But what about shoes and jewelry?" I asked.
"I already have shoes that will work. I have my grandmother's pearl necklace and earrings. That would work for the daytime stuff. I usually don't wear jewelry with evening clothes anyway. So that's fine."
"Why don't you borrow something from me, Sookie? I have a pair of sapphire earrings that would go with the blue dress and I'll loan you these ruby studs" I pointed to the ones I was presently wearing, "to go with the red dress. I have a ruby bracelet that matches, too."
She looked very surprised by my offer. If I didn't know better I'd think she was going to start the usual crying thing. Ugh, so much emotion all the time with her. But she smiled at me and shook her head. She still looked like she might cry. She better not...
"Thank you so much Pam. It's really so kind of you to offer, but I'd feel worried about borrowing something like that from you, especially if I'm traveling. I mean, in case anything happened and…"
"You're borrowing them. End of story. You need a cocktail dress. That should be black."
"Amelia has one that she's loaning me. It looks okay. It's actually red and by Fendi. I tried it on the other day and it pretty much fits okay. I worried I'd stretch it in the bust, but she says it's fine to borrow it and that if it stretches she'll just give it to me because she's had it a while."
"What about luggage. Did you replace your luggage?"
"Geez Louise, Pam. What are you, some sort of professional travel and events consultant? I'm borrowing a suitcase and garment bag from Octavia."
We took everything back to the register and she tallied it all up. The blue silk dress was $240 and she said she wasn't getting it.
"Even with a discount from Claudine, I would be way over my budget. I have an old dress that I could try to wear. I'll look at it on Sunday and see what I can do with it. I think I have to take it in a bit."
"But this looked beautiful on you. You should get it, Sookie. It looks great on you and it will stay in style. It's a classic style." I could see she was weighing whether to get it instead of the red dress. She hesitated. But I had told her that Eric liked red, and I bet she was going to get the red dress. She set aside the blue, but looked sad to do so.
"Going with the red for the boyfriend, eh?" I said with a note of sarcasm. The blue actually fit her better as far as I was concerned. That bias cut…
She turned to me and gave me a positively withering look.
"He's not my boyfriend, Pam. The red dress is less expensive."
"You seem to be living in denial, Sookie." She's kidding herself, not me, I thought to myself.
"I'm not in denial. I've had two boyfriends, Pam and what they've shown me is that I've got lousy judgment when it comes to men. I don't know that I'm ready for more. So no, he's not my boyfriend." At that moment, Claudine must have popped in behind a clothing rack because she seemingly stepped out of nowhere, and she and Sookie embraced. She draped herself over Sookie and started looking through the clothes.
I stepped away from them, and contemplated what she had just told me. Bill Compton was her first boyfriend? The way she said it pretty much made it seem like he was the first one she'd ever had, not the first vampire boyfriend she'd ever had. This I had not realized. Not a happy experience for her, I thought to myself. He took off and left her for Lorena and then it turned out he'd only gotten involved with her at Sophie-Anne's behest. And Sophie-Anne paid well, so I know he must have been earning a pretty penny for the whole thing. Highly motivated to pull the wool over the poor little human's eyes, then, no matter how remorseful he was about it now. Eric and I equally enjoyed kicking him about for it. I frankly was amazed she hadn't staked him right after staking Lorena and just given Eric his database. I would have, if I'd have been in her shoes. And yet she'd still looked for him and saved him from the sunlight at Rhodes. Now I understood that part a bit better. Her first lover. And the stupid weretiger, no matter how big and buff he was? That one almost got her killed. Amelia had made it plain to me that she thought Quinn was a real piece of shit boyfriend, who rarely ever called Sookie and that she thought Sookie was just his girl in the Shreveport area, no matter what he had told Sookie to the contrary. She said Sookie told her that she was sure that wasn't true, but who knew? And though she'd briefly been with Eric, he'd been such a jerk afterwards, for much of the past year because of his lost memory due that that Hallow's stupid curse. She had been so kind to him when he was downright pathetic and an embarrassment to himself. She'd kept him safe and then some. He'd given her nothing but nastiness in return, to the point that sometimes I had Indira call her because it made me feel bad. I'd told him once that she deserved better and he practically took a swing at me. It was obvious that she wasn't taking his renewed interest seriously. I knew that she really, really cared about him. I saw the way she looked at him. I looked over at her again. She really had had a difficult life. Dead parents, grandmother murdered, a bad time with men. Even the brother was a pill from what I'd seen. Some of her friends were awful. That nasty woman Arlene had quit she had told me. And she worked so hard to eke out a living. Having a bad life happened all the time to humans, but I liked her. It seemed different when it was a human you liked. Eric had better be serious about this. If he's not he should just leave her alone. I've seen the way her shifter boss looks at her. If Eric wasn't serious, then he ought to leave the shifter caring for her. But he seemed serious. He had hated it, but it seemed that he felt for her very deeply and had kind of given in to it. Perhaps it would all work out…
Claudine talked to the sales clerk and made the arrangements for the discount, handling the clothes as if they were her own selections, I suspected. I kept my eye on the blue dress. There had been a wrap downstairs on a mannequin in almost the same shade of blue.
In the middle of the payment process, Sookie got a phone call that appeared to be from someone at the shifter's bar. She looked upset. I walked back over, even though Claudine was nearby.
"What's wrong, you look upset?" I asked. I was supposed to be making sure she was safe so if something was wrong at the bar, I'd better know.
She closed the phone, shaking her head. "The new waitress I hired just quit. One of the regular guys had too much to drink and he made some stupid remarks that upset her. Tray said he couldn't get her calmed down and she just walked out." She sighed heavily, and rubbed her hands across her eyes, as if she was very tired. "I have to get back as soon as possible because we still have five hours 'til closing. I'm so sorry Pam. I thought we could go do something fun and spend more time together when we finished here. I'm really sorry you came just because of me."
Claudine put her arm around her and looked over at me.
"It's okay, Sookie. I really hope the shifter appreciates what you're doing for him. He really owes you, Sookie." Boy, did the shifter owe her, I thought.
"It's where I work Pam and we all count on the income, just like Sam does. He doesn't owe me. Besides, he's giving me five days off work, no questions asked, so I think we're even."
She hugged Claudine, then signed for her purchases and told us she had to run. She kissed Claudine goodbye.
She came over and gave me another big hug, and kissed my cheek. She smelled so fae scented after hugging Claudine it just bowled me over. It wa a good thing she was going to be in her own car... She looked me in the eyes and said softly,
"Thanks, Pam. Thanks, for being a good friend. I really appreciate it. You don't know how much I do." Her eyes were so expressive when she said it.
"Call me when you get to Merlotte's okay, Sookie? Remember that I was supposed to be driving you and if something happened to you, it's my skin, too, not just yours. I need to know you got back okay," I told her. I didn't even want to think about what Eric would do to me if something happened to her. But she was so stubborn… Maybe I should follow her back, even if she didn't know I was.
As she walked away, Claudine nodded to me and said "I'll make sure she gets there okay. Don't worry about it. I'll ride in the car with her." She glanced around quickly and popped when the salesclerk was looking the other way.
I looked back at the blue dress. It had looked gorgeous on her. She should have it. The clerk looked at me oddly when I took out a credit card to pay for it. She could tell I was not human. I could smell her fear. I snarled a bit and delighted in watching her jump. She gave me the same discount she'd given Claudine, as I laughed internally.
The wrap downstairs was very slightly darker in color but since it was filmy I thought it wouldn't show much. I got that, too. I carefully hung up the dress in the back seat of my car. I'd take it to her in a few days. I should visit her more, I thought to myself. I really like her, even if she is a human. I have fun with her. She gets my humor and I get hers.
I drove by Fangtasia just to see what was going on. Eric was in his office signing checks. He glanced up briefly and went right back to what he was doing, but asked,
"Do you have any receipts?"
I thought about the dress and the wrap, but decided that really, I wanted to give them to her myself. I knew she would accept them from me more easily than Eric, but that wasn't why I wanted to give them to her. I just wanted to give her something.
"No. Claudine got her a discount. I bought her something, but I want to give it to her."
He glanced up at me, with a slightly surprised look.
"You know Eric, you better not do anything to hurt her. I really mean it. If you do, I'll quit."
He looked at me through narrowed eyes. "What the hell are you talking about?"
"I really mean it."
"I can assure you that you will have no reason to quit, as if you could, anyway. Isn't it your day off? You clearly need a break. You should leave instead of making threats. To your Sire, no less. Leave!" He pretty much shouted the last part. I could feel his anger and to punctuate it he picked up an empty bottle of True Blood that was on his desk and threw it toward me. It hit the doorframe and shattered. Clearly he was only going for effect, or it would have hit me square in the face.
I turned and left. I wanted to go home and relax for a while. More corsets for work could wait.
As I got into the car I got a text message but it was from Eric.
Sometimes you amaze me. No need for concern.
When I pulled into my driveway, I got her message.
Back at Merlotte's. Bill, Tray here. Hectic. But safe. Thanks so much for your company. xoxo
The problem with humans is that they often make you feel things you don't expect or want to feel. Disgust, disappointment, sometimes even fear.
And sometimes, great fondness.