It was late into the afternoon when Sookie finally met up with Hadley. After spending the night in the company of Sophie-Anne and Andre, Sookie wasn’t looking forward to even spending five seconds in her cousin’s presence, but she knew she didn’t have any choice. Eric and Sookie couldn’t let them know that they were on to them. They needed to keep Sophie-Anne and company in the dark. But that didn’t mean Sookie was going to meet Hadley unprepared and unprotected. Sookie had invited Jason, who was staying at the hotel with Thalia, to join her at lunch to reconnect with Hadley as well. And Eric had arranged for Gladiola and Diantha to be having lunch at the same time. Eric may not have been able to be there personally, but he was making sure his wife was well protected.
Arriving in the hotel dining room a few minutes early, Sookie grinned as she saw Diantha and Gladiola sitting at a table by the window. Tapping Jason on the arm, Sookie led him over to the table in front of her demon friends and took a seat. Sookie and Jason exchanged small talk as they waited for Hadley to show up. Jason snorted as he saw their cousin arrive. True to Hadley fashion, she was nearly forty minutes late and looked like she had just climbed out of bed. A quick dip inside her head told Sookie that was exactly what had happened. Sookie shook her head as she dug further into her cousin’s mind.
Her mind was hazy with glamour, but Sookie could easily see through it. Lowering her voice, Sookie leaned into Jason and whispered, “She’s late because she was up late pleasing her mistress.”
“Oh gross, Sook. I didn’t need to know that,” Jason complained, as he leaned back in his chair. Casting his eyes over their cousin, Jason took a minute to take her in. She certainly looked better than the last time he had seen her, but then again, she would have had to have been dead, probably dead not vampire dead, to have looked worse. Despite how well she looked, Jason could still see the ugliness in her. Jason had received a crash course in reading people when he was introduced into the supernatural world; a pretty face in a large rack no longer blinded him. Thalia had schooled him in seeing behind the appearance, something he was grateful for seeing how many women have tried to use him to get closer to his sister’s husband.
After what happened with Dawn, Jason swore no one else would use him to try to hurt his sister. And one look at Hadley told Jason that was exactly what she wanted to do. The Queen might have wanted Sookie for her telepathy, but Hadley wanted to hurt her. It was written all over her face; Jason could read it as plain as day.
Jason smirked as he saw Hadley falter as she laid eyes on him. Surprise, bitch.
“Hadley Hale, you get your butt over here right now and hug your cousin,” he said, as he rose from his seat.
“Jason!” Hardly cried, feigning excitement after a brief pause. She threw herself in his arms, hugging him tight. “What are you doing here?” she asked as she pulled back.
“What kind of question is that?” Jason replied as he reclaimed his seat next to Sookie and waited for Hadley to sit down opposite him. “Once Sook told me she’d seen ya, I had to come and see ya myself.”
“That’s real sweet of you, Jason,” Hadley said, as she rested her arms on the table. “But you didn’t have to fly out just to see me.”
“I didn’t,” Jason snorted without thought. Feeling Sookie kick him softly under the table, “I mean… “ He faked a cough to hide his hesitation. “I was already here in the city at the hotel;” the words came out rushed as he tried to explain. “Sook invited me. I think she wanted her big brother with her.”
A calculating smile spread across Hadley’s as she flicked her eyes between the siblings. “You two look a lot closer than you were last time I saw you both,” she commented fishing for information.
“We are,” Jason admitted. “I finally understand how precious having a baby sister is. We couldn’t be closer.”
“That’s great,” Hadley replied. “How’d that happen?”
Sookie barely restrained from rolling her eyes as she realized what Hadley was doing. She couldn’t believe it, but her cousin was actually stupider than she remembered. Despite selling her out because of her telepathy, Hadley actually seemed to have forgotten that Sookie was a telepath. Sookie could see all playing out in the blonde backstabber’s mind. Hadley didn’t care how Jason and Sookie became closer; what she did care about was how they – Sophie-Anne – could use Jason against her. Hadley was already planning on how she would tell Sophie-Anne and how she could get Jason alone so Andre could take him.
“We understand the importance of family,” Sookie answered, her tone unflinching. “Family above all else. But that’s a simple and quick answer. The other would be that we grew closer when I was planning my wedding to Eric. Jason actually gave me away…”
“You should’ve seen it Hadley. Sookie was the prettiest bride I’ve ever seen,” Jason interjected, taking a small jab at Hadley, knowing how much she hated it when anyone complimented Sookie’s looks over hers. He grinned as he saw the look of anger flash in her eyes.
“As a thank you, I introduced Jason to his vampire,” Sookie continued, as if she hadn’t been interrupted.
“Jason’s vampire?” Hadley questioned.
“Yes. Thalia was quite taken with Jason,” she replied, fighting a grin as the color drained from Hadley’s face. Oh good, you’ve heard of her. “You’ve been together for what now? About 18 months,” she added, directing the question to Jason, embellishing the relationship between her brother and the ancient vampire in front of their cousin. “It’s really because of Thalia that Jason is here. He’s here with her.”
Hadley blanched as she heard the name of Jason’s vampire. While she’d never met Thalia personally, her reputation was well known around the palace, and both Sophie-Anne and Andre feared the ancient vampire. Knowing that Jason belonged to Thalia changed everything. They wouldn’t be able to use him to coerce Sookie. The ancient vampire would kill them all without question. Thalia wasn’t like Eric; she held no respect for the throne or the power of her monarch.
“That’s great,” Hadley said, forcing the words out of her lips and she seethed internally. “Gran must’ve been so proud that her favorite grandchildren became vampire pets,” she sneered after a moment’s pause unable to help herself.
“It beats being a buffet to any vampire who knows how to use the phone,” Jason retorted bitingly. He snorted as he saw tears pool in Hadley’s eyes. “Spare me the tears, Hadley,” he added, as he leaned forwards and rested his arms on the top of the table. “Those don’t work on me any more. Neither do your nasty little words. But to answer your question, yes, our grandmother was extremely proud of Sook and me. Before she died, she was happy to know that two of her grandchildren had found partners that loved them and made them happy. It wasn’t perfect happiness cos’ her other grandchild was too selfish to pick up the phone and let her know she was alive. If your life sucks so much, that’s your fault, don’t try to hurt Sook or me cos’ of it. Grow up, little girl.”
Hadley stared at Jason in shock. He had never spoken to her like that before, and she didn’t like it. Growing up, it used to be her and Jason that was the close ones, and Sookie was the outsider; she was the freak.
“My life doesn’t suck,” Hadley cried, her voice rising slightly. “I have a good job and Soph… Friends,” she amended quickly, but neither Jason nor Sookie missed her slip up.
“A good job?” Jason snorted. “What? Turning tricks in a fancy hotel.”
“I’m not turning tricks,” Hadley argued insulted. “I work as a donor.”
“You get paid to provide blood and sex to vampires,” Jason countered no longer able to even pretend to play nice with his cousin. “Ya can put a different name on it, but it’s still prostitution.”
“Why’re you being so mean to me?” Hadley pouted as she crossed her arms over her chest.
”I’m not being mean, I’m being truthful,” Jason replied. “You just don’t know what that is. So you can’t tell the difference.”
“No, you’re being mean,” Hadley argued, refusing to concede that Jason had any kind of point. “You’re blaming me for things that weren’t my fault. I didn’t have…”
“I swear on Gran’s grave, if you say you didn’t have a choice, I will take a switch to you and spank you like the brat you’re acting like,” Jason cut her off, furious that Hadley was still the same brat she always was. He shook his head as he stared at her, she was nearly thirty and she was still acting like the jealous, selfish brat that she was as a teenager. “Everything that happened was your fault, and your choice. You chose to steal your momma’s silver when she was dying. You decided to only think of yourself when your momma needed you more than anything and run away. You decided to rob Gran of the little she had, the little she would’ve given you willingly to help you, and take off again. You choose to act like a selfish, jealous brat because both me and Sook are happy now…” With his eyes focused intently on Hadley, Jason pushed his chair back, stood up, and leaned over the table. “Grow the fuck up, Hadley,” he said before straightening up and storming out of the hotel dining room.
Sookie fought a smile as she watched Jason storm away. Things hadn’t gone the way they had planned, but it but she couldn’t fault Jason for speaking his mind. She just wished she could do the same. Feigning a shocked look, Sookie turned her gaze back to Hadley and gave her cousin what she hoped was a sympathetic look.
“Well, that was unexpected,” she said finally not sure what else you could say. Pushing her chair back, she held up her hand, “I’ll be back in a minute,” she added quickly chasing after Jason before Hadley had a chance to say anything.
“Jason!” Sookie called out, as she saw him storm out the front entrance of the hotel. “Jason, wait,” she added, as she picked up her pace. “Jason,” she repeated as she grabbed his arm and stopped him several feet away from the hotel. Turning around to face his sister, Jason let out a breath of air as he tried to calm himself down. “I’m sorry, Sook,” he said after a few minutes, brushing a hand through his hair. “I just can’t sit at the same table as her and pretend that everything is okay knowing what she’s done. I wanted to hit her, and I’ve never hit a woman. But damn it, Sookie, she deserves it.”
“I know,” Sookie replied, as she reached out her hands and grasped Jason by his arms. “It took everything I had not to slap her round the face last night when she showed up,” she admitted. “She is fully complicit in all this, Jas. She’s actually looking forward to it. So believe me, I know how you feel. I hate having to play nice with her, but it won’t be for much longer. The trial is set for tonight, and once it’s over and everything is done, I’ll hit her for you.”
Jason lowered with his head as he let out a laugh, his sister’s words soothing the anger inside him. “Okay, but I want ringside seats.”
“Deal,” Sookie agreed with a smile. “Now I better get back before she throws a tantrum. Jas, just do me a favor?”
“What?” Jason asked curiously.
“Don’t leave Thalia’s side,” Sookie replied. “I heard Hadley thinking about telling them you’re here and how they could use you to get to me. It’s unlikely they’ll try anything knowing you’re with Thalia and given her reputation, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
“Okay,” Jason agreed, seeing how serious his sister was. He had come to understand just how devious and selfish vampires could be over the last several years, and he trusted Sookie’s and Eric’s judgement. If Sookie wanted him to stay close to Thalia he would. Not that it would be a hardship; Jason really did like the tiny vampire.
After sharing with a hug with her brother, Sookie took another minute to compose herself before pasting on a smile and venturing back inside. As she approached the table where Hadley was still seated, she caught the tail end of a conversation her cousin was having with the daytime manager.
“… Sunset is at 6:04 PM, be ready,” he said before giving Hadley a nod and walking away.
“Where’s Jason?” Hadley asked before Sookie had a chance to say anything.
“He’s gone to cool off,” Sookie answered, as she retook her seat. ”He’s a little wound up,” she added with a tense smile as she saw Hadley roll her eyes. She didn’t even have to dip into her mind to know her cousin thought Jason had been in the wrong. As far as Sookie was concerned, the only thing Jason had done wrong was that he hadn’t continued with his well-deserved telling off. The more time she spent in Hadley’s presence, the more she realized that Hadley had only gotten worse. Thanks to Sophie-Anne, her cousin now had a sense of entitlement. She thought they all owed her something and should worship her.
Silence descended over the table as Sookie and Hadley stared at each other. For all of Hadley’s talk of catching up, it was obvious that she really didn’t care about what had happened in the last three and a half years. And Sookie wasn’t in a hurry to fill the silence either. Sitting in silence was one of the few ways Sookie could tolerate her cousin.
“So…” Hadley began once the silence had grown too uncomfortable for her. “You still living in Bon Temps?”
“Yes,” Sookie answered, biting back a snort. You know full well I am. She had to hand it to Hadley; she was certainly playing the part of the clueless cousin well. It was good that she already knew about Hadley’s part in Sophie-Anne’s little plan or she might’ve believed her. Well, she would’ve believed her until she read her mind. You really don’t have any shame, do you, Hadley?
“Eric and I live in the old farm house,” she added, seeing no point in hiding it. She figured Bill had told Sophie-Anne where she lived by now. “Gran left it to me in her will on the condition I sold my share of Momma and Daddy’s house to Jason.”
“What?” Hadley spat, greed flashing in her eyes. “What about me? Why didn’t she leave it to me? Didn’t she care about me? You always were her favorite.”
“Probably because we all thought you were dead,” Sookie replied, her tone taking on a hard edge. “Like Jason said, you took off after robbing Gran. We didn’t know where you were on whether you were even alive. Honestly, Hadley, you didn’t deserve anything. Gran loved you despite everything she never stopped. For once in your life don’t be selfish and complain that you didn’t get anything from the woman who loved you with her last breath.”
Hadley crossed her arms over her chest and sulked. She couldn’t believe Gran had left the house to Sookie. It was just like when they were children and Sookie had stolen Gran’s love and attention away from her. And now as adults she had stolen her inheritance. The house should’ve been hers. She deserved it, not Sookie. As she stared at Sookie, Hadley swore she would make her pay for stealing everything away from her. Once she belonged to the queen, Hadley would get Sophie-Anne to forced Sookie to sign the house over to her. In fact, she would get Sophie-Anne to force her to sign everything over to her. She would own everything.
“If you’re just gonna sit there and sulk, I’m gonna leave,” Sookie said fed up with Hadley’s attitude already.
“I’m not sulking,” Hadley pouted. “It’s just…” She trailed off as tears trickled down her cheek. “I didn’t get to say goodbye to Gran.” She wiped the tears away with the back of the hand as she took a shaky breath. “I know I wasn’t always the best granddaughter; I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I did love her. Gran was the only one who loved me unconditionally. Momma loved me, but she always blamed me for daddy leaving. But Gran never blamed me for anything, even when she probably should’ve. She just loved me.”
As she watched Hadley, Sookie realized for the first time her cousin was being honest. Despite everything Hadley did love their Gran. She was the only one she did love though. And she only loved her because, like Hadley said, Gran loved her unconditionally, not that that was a bad thing. Adele was a wonderful woman, but one of her flaws was she only saw the good in her grandchildren. She made excuses for all three of them. Adele was blinded by her love for her grandchildren. If she would’ve been alive, she would’ve been furious that Sophie-Anne was targeting Sookie, but she would’ve overlooked Hadley’s part in it. She would’ve been disappointed, but she would’ve placed the blame solely on Sophie-Anne.
“She didn’t suffer… Gran; it was peaceful,” Sookie he said, her tone becoming softer. She might not like her cousin, but she wouldn’t use their gran’s death against her as a weapon. “She passed away in her sleep. She was happy… Before she died. Eric fixed up the house for her, restored it to how it was… She was happy,” she repeated. “Gran danced at my wedding. She told off a vampire for cursing.” Sookie laughed as she recalled watching her Gran telling Pam off for using the f word at the wedding reception.
“That sounds like Gran,” Hadley said with a smile. “She always did hate it when she heard someone cursing.”
“Or gossiping,” Sookie replied with a laugh. “Even though her and Maxine Fortenberry were the biggest gossips in Bon Temps.”
“They knew everything that was going on,” Hadley remembered. “No secrets survived in Bon Temps with them. Is Maxine still around?”
“Oh yeah.” Sookie nodded. “She’s still about, tightening the apron strings on Hoyt every month.”
With the ice somewhat thawed, Sookie and Hadley spent next several hours catching up. Sookie was careful as to what she shared with her cousin she didn’t give Hadley any information that she could use against her or Eric. But she didn’t think mentioning how Arlene had married and divorced again would hurt. Sookie smiled as she shared how Arlene had been caught with her kids’ principal at a sleazy hotel.
The two of them were laughing over some silly tale when Hadley recently noticed the time. “I’ve gotta go, Hadley said suddenly. “I’ve gotta get ready for work. Maybe we can meet up again tomorrow,” she added, as she quickly stood up.
“Maybe,” Sookie replied a frown marring her face as she noticed Hadley’s eyes darting around the dining room. “Are you looking for someone?” she asked suspiciously.
“My boss,” Hadley answered without hesitation. “I need to know if I’m working the rooms or the lounge tonight.”
A quick dip into Hadley’s mind told Sookie she was telling the truth. All she was thinking was finding her boss Cameron and getting it over with.
“Are you leaving now?” Hadley asked eagerly with a fake smile.
“No,” Sookie replied carefully, her eyes flickering over the dining room quickly before returning to Hadley. Although her mind gave nothing away, Sookie thought Hadley wanted her to leave at that moment. She was almost anticipating it. “I’m going to finish my drink first.” A quick look outside told her she had maybe thirty minutes before sunset. She would stay in view of everyone until she felt Eric rise and then she would go to him. He would be able to feel if anything happened to her. “I’ll go to my room after.”
“Okay,” Hadley said disappointment coloring her tone. “Well, I’ll see you later.”
“Yeah,” Sookie replied, smiling tightly.
Hadley gave Sookie a smile and wave before she practically skipped away, a devious smile spreading across her lips.