Dead as a Doornail

Free Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris

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Authors: Charlaine Harris
for your insurance all by yourself; then laugh.
    It occurred to me (as it should have right away) that Calvin was in a perfect position to force my compliance—Jason’s life for my companionship—and he hadn’t taken advantage of it.
    I leaned over and gave Calvin a kiss on the cheek. “I’ll pray for your recovery,” I said. “Thank you for giving Jason a chance.” Maybe Calvin’s nobility was partly due to the fact that he was in no shape to take advantage of me, but it was nobility, and I noted and appreciated it. “You’re a good man,” I said, and touched his face. The hair of his neat beard felt soft.
    His eyes were steady as he said good-bye. “Watch out for that brother of yours, Sookie,” he said. “Oh, and tell Dawson I don’t want no more company tonight.”
    “He won’t take my word for it,” I said.
    Calvin managed to smile. “Wouldn’t be much of a bodyguard if he did, I guess.”
    I relayed the message to the Were. But sure enough, as Jason and I walked back to the stairs, Dawson was going into the room to check with Calvin.
    I debated for a couple of minutes before I decided it would be better if Jason knew what he was up against. In the truck, as he drove home, I relayed my conversation with Calvin to my brother.
    He was horrified that his new buddies in the werepanther world could believe such a thing of him. “If I’d thought of that before I changed for the first time, I can’t say it wouldn’thave been tempting,” Jason said as we drove back to Bon Temps through the rain. “I was mad. Not just mad, furious. But now that I’ve changed, I see it different.” He went on and on while my thoughts ran around inside my head in a circle, trying to think of a way out of this mess.
    The sniping case had to be solved by the next full moon. If it wasn’t, the others might tear Jason up when they changed. Maybe he could just roam the woods around his house when he turned into his panther-man form, or maybe he could hunt the woods around my place—but he wouldn’t be safe out at Hotshot. And they might come looking for him. I couldn’t defend him against them all.
    By the next full moon, the shooter had to be in custody.
    Until I was washing my few dishes that night, it didn’t strike me as odd that though Jason was being accused by the werepanther community of being an assassin, I was the one who’d actually shot a shifter. I’d been thinking of the private detectives’ appointment to meet me here the next morning. And, as I found myself doing out of habit, I’d been scanning the kitchen for signs of the death of Debbie Pelt. From watching the Discovery Channel and the Learning Channel, I knew that there was no way I could completely eradicate the traces of blood and tissue that had spattered my kitchen, but I’d scrubbed and cleaned over and over. I was certain that no casual glance—in fact, no careful inspection by the naked eye—could reveal anything amiss in this room.
    I had done the only thing I could, short of standing there to be murdered. Was that what Jesus had meant by turning the other cheek? I hoped not, because every instinct in me had urged me to defend myself, and the means at hand had been a shotgun.
    Of course, I should immediately have reported it. But bythen, Eric’s wound had healed, the one made when Debbie’d hit him while trying to shoot me. Aside from the testimony of a vampire and myself, there was no proof that she’d fired first, and Debbie’s body would have been a powerful statement of our guilt. My first instinct had been to cover up her visit to my house. Eric hadn’t given me any other advice, which also might have changed things.
    No, I wasn’t blaming my predicament on Eric. He hadn’t even been in his right mind at the time. It was my own fault that I hadn’t sat down to think things through. There would have been gunshot residue on Debbie’s hand. Her gun had been fired. Some of Eric’s dried blood would have been on the floor.

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