“You’re looking good, Sook,” Alcide said, giving her a wolfish grin as he raked his eyes over her.
From the moment they had met Alcide had been hitting on her. It didn’t matter that at the time he was married to Debbie, or he was currently dating Rikki, he just couldn’t seem to help himself. Years ago Warlow had warned her that she would attract Supes; her fae attributes acting like a beacon pulling them in. While that was undeniably true, it wasn’t the sole reason of Alcide’s flirtation. When it came down to the bare facts the truth was… Alcide was just an asshole. He had cheated on Debbie with Danielle, another wolf from his Pack, and then cheated on her with Rikki.
“Thank you,” Sookie replied stiffly. “Now what brings us all out to Bon Temps tonight?” She asked, cutting straight to business. She had no desire to exchange small talk with them, at least not Alcide, Rikki, or Jannalynn. She wouldn’t have minded taking a few minutes to chat and catch up with Jackson or Debbie. It was surprising just how well she and Debbie got along considering how Alcide had kept trying to get her into bed when he and Debbie were still married. Debbie had never held Alcide’s behavior against her and had placed the blame solely where it lay. The two of them had managed to remain somewhat civil after the divorce so they could remain in the same Pack. Debbie had gone on to remarry Jake Purifoy, another wolf from the Pack.
Seeing that Sookie was in no mood for his flirtation, Alcide straightened his shoulders as he leaned forward and placed his arms on the table. Despite his inability to keep his dick in his pants, Alcide was a good Packmaster and only wanted the best for his Pack. He nodded at his father and Rikki, silently telling them to take a seat as Jannalynn stood with her arms crossed at the top of the table.
“As you probably know there’s been an influx of new Weres entering the Area,” Alcide said, getting down to business. “The troubles in Florida had many of them upping stakes and rather than getting involved in vamp shit…”
Sookie nodded as she listened to Alcide. She was well aware of the recent flood of Weres into the state. There was little that happened in Louisiana that she didn’t know about. She made it her business to know what was going on just so she could keep ahead of the competition; the same way she knew the ‘vamp shit’ that Alcide was talking about was really a few Packs wrongly deciding to side with a charismatic, but dumb, young vampire who attempted to overthrow the Queen of Florida. The Queen, Annabelle Sanchez, had quashed the attempted takeover in minutes and many of the Weres had fled instead of staying to face the consequences. Not that Sookie could actually blame them; Annabelle could be ruthless when she wanted to be, but for the most part she was a just and fair queen, much like Louisiana’s.
“… The Longtooth Pack has gained a lot of new members and we have more lobbying for admittance,” Alcide preened as he spoke. He was incredibly proud of his Pack. It had a good reputation among other Packs in the surrounding states, and a large part of that was due to Alcide’s role as Packmaster. “Problem is, some of the old members are suspicious of the new members and it’s causing some tension. I need to ease the tension and get them working together on the same side for the good of the Pack, so…”
“You want Only at Night to arrange one of our obstacle courses,” Sookie deduced, cutting straight to the heart of it. A year after Only at Night had started up they had employed a former U.S. Marine by the name of Tray Dawson. Tray was a full-blooded Were but he didn’t want to join a Pack. He preferred to be a lone wolf. Only at Night had utilized his talents by not only putting him in charge of their security, but also by having him prepare anything to do with Weres. Tray had used his knowledge and skills to come up with an obstacle course that would make most grown men weep. It had been tweaked over the years to fit a number of situations, and it had been very well received by the Weres. “Very well,” she added, seeing Alcide nod of confirmation. “That won’t be a problem. I will contact Tray and have him call you to set up the date and location…”
Sookie didn’t miss the stiffening of Alcide’s shoulders at the mention of Tray and she fought back a smirk. Tray’s decision to not join a Pack had never sat well with Alcide. The Packmaster had hoped to convince Tray to join the Longtooth Pack but Tray had never been interested. He had no problem with Alcide, but after spending twenty years in the Marines Tray had no desire to join a Pack and take orders from anyone else, especially someone twelve years his junior.
“Tray will handle all requests and if you require something in particular, let him know,” she continued as she grabbed her cell phone out of her purse and made a few notes. “Is that all?”
“Not quite,” Alcide said, exchanging a look with Jannalynn before he leaned forward even more. “As I said we have more Weres lobbying for admission into our Pack, and, while that’s a good thing, we fear that some of them might be plants from other Packs who’re looking to infiltrate us…”
“I fail to see what this has to do with me or Only at Night,” Sookie interrupted. She had a good idea where Alcide was going, but was hoping she was wrong.
“You have a good… instinct…” Alcide chose his words carefully as he stared at Sookie from across the table, “when it comes to discerning people’s true intentions. We’d like… be grateful if you’d…”
“We want you to check them out for us,” Jannalynn said, laying it all down and stopping Alcide’s beating around the bush. “We can give you the names and you can do whatever it is you do…”
“I’m an event planner, not an investigator,” Sookie replied, her tone rising in pitch as she cut Jannalynn off. “As Pack enforcer it’s your job to investigate possible threats to the Pack.”
“Sookie, be reasonable,” Alcide said, shooting Jannalynn a dark look and cutting her off before she had a chance to reply. The last thing he wanted was for his enforcer to get into a fight with Sookie. They needed her help too much for Jannalynn to piss her off. “It would take Jannalynn days, maybe even weeks to investigate all of them. With your gift we’d be able to get through it much quicker and without any bloodshed, especially if you took the potion and became our Shaman.”
“My gift is just that… Mine! It’s not something to be loaned out to anyone who desires to use it,” Sookie replied heatedly. “So if that means your Pack enforcer has to investigate every new wolf in Louisiana, well then she better get to it.” Leaning forward, Sookie placed her hands on the table as she stared directly into Alcide’s eyes, “Now I’ve told you this before and I don’t ever wanna have to tell you again… I will never be your Pack’s Shaman. The politics of your Pack are of no concern to me. I have no vested interest…”
“That’s not exactly true,” Alcide growled, cutting her off. His eyes flashed amber as he glared at Sookie. He couldn’t believe she had refused again. Being asked to be a Pack’s Shaman was a high honor; it was the utmost level of trust and something of which she should be proud. It was bad enough that she wouldn’t give into his advances; he knew the two of them would have been explosive together. However, her continued refusal to be his Shaman was disrespectful and insulting. “You do have an interest in my Pack. Many of my wolves work for you.”
“They’re paid very well to do so,” Sookie said, nodding her head toward Debbie, who had done a few jobs for her over the years. Only at Night had many Weres on their books as employees; they had a good working relationship with many of the Packs throughout the US and even in Canada. They treated the Weres with respect, paid well, and even provided medical insurance for the full-time workers.
“My wolves provide security for you at many of your events.” A smug look entered Alcide’s eyes as he leaned back in the booth and spread his arms over the back of the seat. “It’s a dangerous job. One of them could be hurt at anytime and be unable to fulfill their obligation go the Pack…”
“Donovan was hurt just last month,” Rikki said, speaking for the first time. “Remember, baby?” She added, smiling up at her Packmaster and boyfriend. “He broke some ribs while working an event for Only at Night.”
Sookie barely held back a snort at Rikki’s words. The Were in question had worked an event for her down in New Orleans at the palace of Sophie-Anne Leclerq, The Queen of Louisiana. He had suffered some broken ribs, but the injury hadn’t come from any work he had done for Only at Night. It was the result of some very violent and consensual sex he’d had with Sophie-Anne’s second and eldest child Andre Paul.
“I do remember,” Alcide nodded. “Donovan was unable to run with the Pack that month. Then there’s Maria-Star Cooper…” Alcide smiled rakishly as he thought of nubile young Were who had worked full-time for Only at Night since the beginning. He’d had his eye of the young wolf for some time; the buxom brunette appealed to both the man and the wolf, and he wanted her for his own. Unfortunately for Alcide, Maria-Star had no interest in him and had rejected his every advance. She had no desire to be the latest in a long line of wolves that Alcide bedded and then discarded. Her interests lay elsewhere. Not that it mattered to Alcide, he had set his mind to bedding the young Were and he wouldn’t let anything would stand in his way of getting what he wanted…not even his current bitch Rikki. “Maria-Star’s work with you has interfered with her responsibilities to the Pack numerous times. In the past, we haven’t minded, but now…” Alcide smirked as he exchanged a look with Jannalynn, thinking they finally had the upper hand. “Well, now things are different. Weres will be revealing themselves soon and my Pack needs to be strong. As Packmaster I need to do what it best for us, regardless of personal feelings. Over a third of my Pack works for you in one way or another and quite a few have been injured under your employment. I can’t in good faith allow members of my Pack to continue to be put in danger working for you when we receive so little in return. Now if the relationship was mutually beneficial…well, then it’d be a different story altogether.”
“So in other words, if I agree to be your Pack’s Shaman you won’t fuck with my business and cost me some good workers…” Sookie snorted out a humorless laugh as she eyed Alcide. She couldn’t believe she once found him attractive. “Okay… If that’s the way you wanna play it, fine…”
“So you’ll be my Pack’s Shaman?” Alcide asked, a smugness creeping into his tone.
“No,” Sookie replied simply, taking Alcide, Rikki, and Jannalynn by surprise. “When I go into the office tomorrow I will terminate the contracts of all the Longtooth Pack’s members, and then I’ll spread the word that Only at Night won’t do business with the Pack in any capacity. Then you can explain to some of the members of your Pack why they’re losing a couple of grand in earnin’s a month and are outta of a job. I’m sure that’ll make you real popular, Mr. Packmaster… When you’ve done that you can call Quinn up and get him to organize an obstacle course for your Pack… I hear he just bought some new jump ropes.”
Alcide stared at Sookie in shock, unable to believe what he had just heard. He was sure he had the upper hand. He and Rikki had gone over the plan at length to try and convince Sookie to agree to be the Pack’s Shaman. Having one of the owners of Only at Night as his Shaman would have only strengthened his Pack. Sookie had more connections in the Supe world than even him and he was hoping to capitalize on it. Now, instead of securing Sookie’s services for his Pack and strengthening it, it seemed he had pissed her off and weakened it.
Grabbing her drink, Sookie brought it to her lips and took a small sip as she watched Alcide. She could tell he was shocked at her response and she had to wonder at how stupid he was. It was common knowledge that she didn’t respond to threats or intimidation of any kind. Alcide should have known that better than anyone… After all, he was there when the coven of Werewitches had tried to shakedown the Supe businesses in Shreveport, and she and Jesus had given them a lesson in real magical power.
Deciding to drive the lesson home, Sookie placed her glass back on the table and leaned forward, “I don’t respond well to people tryin‘ to blackmail me and damage my business, Alcide,” she said, her voice void of all emotion, making her sound even scarier. “The last person who did that ended up in a shallow grave…” She didn’t mention that she wasn’t the person who put her there. “Now I respect your Pack and…” She flicked her eyes over Jannalynn judgingly, “most of your members, and up until this point we’ve had a good relationship; don’t let greed ruin that.”
Alcide let her words sink in as he watched her, trying to discern if she was sincere. It didn’t take him long to realize she was, her very posture screamed, ‘fuck with me and I’ll fuck you up.’ He let out a sigh as he realized the last time he had seen that look on her face. It was the night a Werewitch by the name of Hallow had tried to shake her down for protection money. Hallow had had success with her little extortion racket in other Areas and decided to try Shreveport as her next port of call. Hallow had been expecting an easy run of it and wasn’t prepared to face the combined force of brujo and a seriously pissed-off telepathic faery. Sookie learned what she planned to do before she even opened her mouth and blasted her halfway across the room. Hallow had disappeared five days later without a trace and her coven had been ruined and collapsed. No one knew for sure what had happened to her, but it was widely suspected that Sookie had had a hand in her disappearance.
Realizing it wasn’t a fight he would win; Alcide nodded his head reluctantly and conceded defeat. “Okay.”
“Good,” Sookie replied, leaning back in her seat and smiling. “If you still want Only at Night to organize an obstacle course we will be happy to negotiate a contract. I’ll even give you a discount,” she added after a brief pause, offering him a small gift.
Alcide opened his mouth to reply when the ringing of Sookie’s cell phone disturbed them all. Sookie held up her hand as she checked the caller. “Sorry, but I really have to take this,” she said before slipping out of the booth and answering the call.
“What the hell was that?” Jackson growled once Sookie was out of earshot. He had been thoroughly disgusted to hear Alcide try to blackmail Sookie as he’d attempted. “Many of the Pack wolves rely on Sookie and her company for their pay check. Your arrogant ass almost financially crippled the wolves in your Pack…”
“It was for the good of the Pack,” Rikki said heatedly, defending Alcide. “We thought it’d be worth the risk,” she added, nodding her head towards Jannalynn who was scowling at the back of Sookie as she disappeared out of the bar.
“Then thinking is clearly not your strong point,” Jackson barked, silencing Rikki with a harsh look. “And you…” he added, turning his ire back to Alcide, “start using the head on your shoulders and not the one in your pants. Your obligation is to all the members of your Pack and not just the ones you use to keep your dick warm.” Jackson shot Alcide a look of disappointment before he stormed out.
“Don’t listen to him, baby,” Rikki said, rubbing a hand over Alcide’s arm. “He’s just jealous that you’re the Packmaster and he’s not. You did the right thing.”
Debbie snorted as she saw Alcide lap up Rikki’s foolish words. “Now that you’ve finished trying to lose me and my husband our jobs, I’m gonna take off,” she said, sliding out of the booth. She paused at the edge of the table before turning to face Alcide, “Just for the record, Alcide, if it would’ve come down to it, I would’ve quit the Pack before I allowed you to cost me my job and so would’ve Jake. We love the Pack, but it doesn’t pay the bills. Working for Only at Night does.” With her piece said, Debbie turned on her heels and walked away; leaving Rikki and Jannalynn telling Alcide he had done the right thing.