Marcus was sure he heard wrong. Sookie couldn’t have said Hadley was involved in the attack against Portia. In the many times he had met Hadley, Marcus knew she could be a selfish and spiteful bitch but he never pegged her as outright heartless, which, in his mind, was what it took to arrange an attack on a heavily pregnant woman. “Hadley?” He said, the name coming out like a question. “Are you sure?” Seeing Sookie’s raised eyebrow in reply, Marcus shook his head and added, “Stupid question. How’d you find out?”
“Burnham,” Sookie replied, snarling the name in distaste. “At the hospital, he was thinkin’ the baby wasn’t supposed to survive. After hearin’ that, I dug ‘round his head a bit…” There wasn’t an ounce of guilt on Sookie’s face as she admitted what she did. As far as she was concerned, Bobby got off easily. “Hadley involved him. He paid the fuckers who attacked Portia…”
“Why? What were they hoping to achieve?” Marcus asked, disgusted by everything he was hearing. He couldn’t fathom a single reason why they thought it was a good idea.
“They were hopin’ Portia would lose the baby,” Sookie answered, clenching her fists, trying to force away her anger. She had every right to be angry, but she didn’t want that anger to explode just yet. No, she was leaving that little treat for Hadley and the other fuckers involved. “Hadley convinced Burnham the baby was the only thing keepin’ Jason and Portia together. Well, I say ‘convinced.’ The jackass knew she was lyin’ through her teeth, but he thought the trauma of losin’ the baby would push them apart and, with the ol’ Bellefleur bitch’s help, he’d be able to weasel his way in and comfort her.”
A rueful smile tugged at Sookie’s painted lips at the thought. Anyone with a half a brain knew coming between Jason and Portia was nearly impossible. The two of them had weathered every storm that had hit them and only came out stronger. “Hadley,” Sookie spat, contempt dripping through her tone just from the name, “wanted Portia to lose the baby ‘cause the deluded bitch thought it’d overshadow her baby. She thought Adele would prefer Portia and Jason’s baby over hers.”
Marcus stared at Sookie in disbelief. He couldn’t believe Hadley’s logic for arranging an attack on her cousin’s wife. He may have only met Sookie’s grandmother twice, still, it had been long enough to realize that Portia could give birth to the second-coming of Christ and Adele would still prefer Hadley’s baby. “Forgot the weed,” he said, thinking back on his previous offer to set Hadley up. “I can plant some coke on her, add a couple of unregistered guns, and have her picked up and charged with possession and concealing a weapon. She’d be locked up for five years, minimum.”
“Temptin’ as that sounds…” And, by God, did it sound tempting! It would be an easy way to get rid of Hadley, leaving Sookie to focus on the others involved. “I’m gonna have to decline. That bitch is mine! By the time I’m finished with her she’s gonna wish she was in prison.”
“Sookie, don’t do anything you might regret,” Marcus warned, eyeing the blonde cautiously. There was a limit to what he could cover up for her. Marcus would always have Sookie’s back and do anything he could to help her, but he knew her well enough to know that she got carried away sometimes also. It was a rare occurrence; Sookie usually had a great control over her emotions and knew her limits, but she wasn’t perfect and she knew it. “Hadley might be a giant cunt, but she’s also pregnant. If you hurt the baby in any way, you’d never be able to forgive yourself.”
Sookie would’ve been insulted if anyone else warned her in such a way, but she knew Marcus only had her best interests at heart. “I’m not goin’ to touch Hadley,” she replied, reassuring her friend. “Beatin’ her ass until it’s blue won’t do a damn thing, except get me arrested. She’d had no problem reportin’ me to you guys, and you know my dear ol’ gran would back her up and say she witnessed it, even if she didn’t. Nah, I’m gonna hurt that bitch where it really matters. I’m gonna destroy her, but not until after the baby’s born. She’s safe for a couple of months. The ones who helped her…” Sookie’s eyes narrowed as she thought of the people who had helped Hadley. They had a world of pain coming to them and she could hardly wait to make the fuckers pay. “Not so much. They’re gonna pay sooner than later. As I promised earlier, I’ll make sure the bodies drop outside of Shreveport. I’ll be headin’ to New Orleans soon, so I’ll see about droppin’ them there. Sophie-Anne won’t mind… Andre will probably help. He was complainin’ last time I was there he hasn’t had any fun in a while.”
Knowing Sookie wasn’t going to do anything she would regret and that any bodies dropped would be outside his area, Marcus let himself relax. He did not want to know what Andre considered fun. Some things were best left unknown. Nevertheless, something still troubled him. Sookie had asked him to meet her to go over a mutually beneficial proposal, something they hadn’t approached yet. They had discussed Hadley, her involvement in the attack on Portia, and the bodies soon to be dropping.
What does any of this have to do with me? Sookie rarely involves me with any of her nefarious business unless… Marcus let out a groan as his head fell back against the bathroom wall with a thud when everything suddenly clicked into place. He hadn’t advanced so quickly in the police force due to his good looks. He was a damn good detective, when he wasn’t covering up crimes for Sookie. “Unless it’s Pack business,” he said, voicing what he had just realized. Although he wasn’t the Longtooth Packmaster, Sookie trusted him more than she did Alcide. She would always go to him if there was a problem, something Alcide hated. “Were Pack members involved in the attack on Portia?”
Sookie nodded her head. “Yeah. The two that carried out the attack are nomads,” she continued, explaining what she had discovered from Bobby’s head. “They did it for the money…and sex. They had no vested interest in it. The others, well, that’s a whole ‘nother story.”
“Who else was involved?” Marcus asked, scratching a hand through his hair. Whoever it was, he had to question their intelligence. Everyone in the Pack knew what Sookie had done to Jannalynn. They knew the blonde telepath was not someone you wanted to fuck with, yet, they had foolishly done just that by attacking her sister-in-law. It was as if they had a death wish!
“Rikki, Annabelle, and a young, dark-haired women I’ve not met,” Sookie replied, listing off the Pack members she’d seen in Bobby’s head. “I need to get my hands on one of them to see if anyone else in the Pack was involved. There’s a puzzle piece missing.”
“What do you mean?” Marcus questioned.
“Neither Hadley nor Bobby have any connection to the Pack,” Sookie explained, rising from edge of the tub and moving toward the window to stare outside. “They don’t know Rikki or Annabelle, so how’d they manage to arrange it all? There has to be someone else involved, arrangin’ it.”
Marcus’ eyes widened once he realized what Sookie was saying. “You think it was Alcide?” he questioned.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Sookie admitted truthfully. She turned from the window to face Marcus. “I want to say no. As big of a bastard as Alcide is, I don’t want to believe he’s capable of it. I know him and Hadley have met…and fucked, but half the men in Bon Temps have fucked Hadley. If Alcide’s involved, I’ll deal with it. If he isn’t, it means Rikki’s working behind his back, and he’s lost control of his Pack. If that’s the case, he’s no longer fit to be Packmaster…”
Marcus’ head snapped up and he met Sookie’s amused gaze. “No!” he exclaimed, pointing his finger at her. “I don’t want to be Packmaster. If that’s your proposal, then no!” To say Marcus didn’t ever want to be Packmaster wouldn’t be accurate. It wasn’t that he never wanted the position, it was that he didn’t want it right then. He was too young and had many things he still wanted to do. He didn’t want the responsibility of all the Weres in a Pack. It was one of the reasons he hadn’t thrown his hat into the ring when Colonel Flood retired as Packmaster.
Without wanting to sound conceited, Marcus knew he would have beaten Alcide for the position if he had desired it. The two of them had come to blows a year prior to Flood stepping down when Marcus had beaten the shit out of the arrogant wolf. It remained a point of contention between the two. Alcide never forgot the beating he took from the Shreveport detective, nor the reason behind it.
“I know you don’t,” Sookie replied truthfully. She didn’t see any point in pretending she thought differently. The blonde telepath could lie like it was an Olympic sport if needed, but she was always truthful with those closest to her. She might not tell them everything, but what she did tell them was always the truth. “I don’t like askin’ you to do somethin’ you don’t want to yet, but I’m tryin’ to make the bastards behind Portia’s attack pay and protect the members of your pack…”
“How? Why? I don’t see how the two are connected,” Marcus said, slightly confused. If members of the Pack were involved, they didn’t deserve protecting. They deserved to be abjured. “Rikki, Annabelle, and the other one don’t deserve protecting…”
“I’m not protectin’ them,” Sookie snarled, revolted by the mere thought she would help them in any way. “Those three are dead, they just don’t know it yet… It’s the others, the ones who work for me that I’m tryin’ to protect… Maria-Star, Jake, Debbie, to name a few. If I find out Alcide was involved in the attack on Portia, he’ll suffer just like the rest.”
Letting out a breath, Sookie moved closer to Marcus, stopping just inches before him. She stared up at him, letting him see the conviction in her eyes. “His body won’t drop like the others, but only out of respect for Jackson, still, he wouldn’t go unpunished. As long as he was in charge, I wouldn’t have anythin’ to do with the Pack. I’d terminate all contracts between Only at Night and any Pack members. Once word spread that Only at Night won’t do business with the Longtooth Pack, others in the Supe world would follow suit. I have the backin’ of the Council, connections through most of the US, so the Pack wouldn’t survive. I don’t want that to happen…”
As much as he hated to admit it, Marcus followed her reasoning. If Alcide was involved, she couldn’t let it go unpunished. She would lose face. However, it would all depend on if Alcide was involved. If he wasn’t, then there would be no reason to move against him. “What if Alcide wasn’t part of it?” He asked, voicing his thought.
“It means Rikki arranged it behind his back, and if that’s the case, it means he doesn’t know what his members are doin’,” Sookie replied. “Rikki’s his bitch. If she was able to set it all up without him knowin’, then he’s not fit to be Packmaster. Word will get out about the attack on Portia and Rikki’s part in it. You know how Weres think. If Alcide didn’t know, they’ll see it as a sign of weakness on his part. He’ll be challenged by all comers…”
“And, depending on the challenger, he could end up dead and not just demoted,” Marcus said, seeing where her mind was going. He still didn’t want to be Packmaster, but he could understand Sookie’s reasoning. As much as he despised Alcide, Marcus didn’t want to see him dead. “Why me, though? Why not one of the other members?”
“You’re the better choice,” Sookie answered with a smile. “You’re stronger than Alcide, well respected by the pack, and have no hidden agenda.” Taking a few steps back, Sookie pursed herself on the edge of the bath again and continued. “I thought of Jake. He’d make a good Packmaster, but his history with Alcide would cloud the challenge. Alcide wouldn’t hesitate to muddy the waters and claim Jake was only challengin’ him due to his history with Debbie; the new husband challenging the ex over some macho, jealousy bullshit. Some of the Pack would buy it and it’d make it difficult for Jake. Alcide can’t use anything like that against you.”
“Alcide hates me though…a feeling that is entirely mutual,” Marcus added after a brief pause. “He wouldn’t hesitate to use his hatred against me if he could.”
“Yeah, but the hatred is well known amongst your Pack,” Sookie countered. “A lot of them witnessed the fight you two had years back before Alcide became Packmaster. Alcide can’t claim you’re challenging him outta jealousy, when…”
“It’s him who’s jealous of me, or, rather, he’s jealous of where I’ve been,” Marcus finished for Sookie, seeing where she was going. He ran his eyes over the stunning blonde and grinned dirtily. “I’ve been where he wants to be…between your lovely thighs…”
“More than once,” Sookie replied, laughing softly. “The Pack knows we’ve been fuckin’ on and off since we met. It’s no secret. Alcide can’t use it against you, especially considerin’ the fight between you two happened ‘cause he caught you balls deep inside me at an old Pack party…”
Marcus groaned as images of that night rose to the forefront of his mind. It had been a very good night. Weres had finally revealed themselves to the world and, for the most part, the reveal had gone extremely well. There were some groups that balked at the knowledge that Werewolves existed, but that had been expected. One of the wealthiest members of the Longtooth Pack had thrown a party at their house and Marcus invited Sookie to the party. She had been well known amongst the Pack even then, and liked by the majority, so she hadn’t hesitated to accept his invitation.
At that point in the time, the two of them were already fucking. They had engaged in a physical relationship only an hour after first meeting. There was a deep-seeded respect between the two and a healthy amount of affection. The two loved each other but were never in love.
Alcide hated the relationship between them from the start. From the second Alcide met Sookie, he had wanted her, despite the fact he was married to Debbie at the time. He had bragged to anyone who would listen that he was going to bed the telepathic blonde, so when he had walked in on Marcus pounding Sookie through a mattress, he had been incensed and attacked the handsome police officer without thought.
The fight that ensued had been a knockdown, drag-out affair that left Alcide with a dislocated shoulder, broken nose, cracked ribs, and a mild concussion. Marcus hadn’t come away unscathed, but Alcide definitely came off worse. Alcide’s dislike of Marcus had been borne that night and only grew stronger as the years passed. The fact Sookie and Marcus continued their physical relationship only made it worse. However, neither of them was willing to give the other up just to make Alcide happy.
“I’m sure Alcide would get even more pissed off if he knew you’d fucked both me and Maria-Star at the same time,” Sookie continued, pulling Marcus out of his head. “His head might explode if he found out I rode your cock while Maria-Star rode your face…”
“Sook, you’re not helping,” Marcus groaned, feeling his cock harden as those images filled his head. The last thing he needed right then was for his head to be filled with the memories of all the depraved things he and Sookie had done. Lord knows there were plenty of memories. Maria-Star was not the only third they added to their trysts over the years.
“Sorry,” Sookie replied, not meaning it for a minute. Next to Eric, Marcus was probably the only man with whom she had ever made a connection. In another life time she could have probably settled down with him and been happy. However, this Sookie Stackhouse was not that kind of girl. She wanted more than being tied down and conforming to social norms. She wanted everything, the top of the list being a thousand-year-old Viking vampire.
“No, you’re not,” Marcus said, calling her on her bullshit. He knew she wasn’t sorry, nor was he, for that matter. The memories were very welcome. “How does me being Packmaster benefit you, or me, for that matter?” he asked, getting back to the point at hand.
“I can work with you,” Sookie replied, putting aside her playfulness for the moment. “I trust you. If he stays as Packmaster, sooner or later Alcide is gonna do somethin’ I won’t be able to overlook. You heard ‘bout the whole Shaman bullshit he tried to pull…” Seeing Marcus nod his head, Sookie continued, “I managed to slap him down without doin’ too much damage to his ego and the Pack, but soon he’s gonna push me too far and I’m gonna strike back hard. If it were just him, I wouldn’t care, but it’s gonna affect Jackson, Debbie, Jake, the whole Pack. Marcus, you know better than most how well connected I am. You’ve been with me when I’ve met the Council. I could cripple Alcide financially, but doin’ that would hurt Jackson as well…”
Marcus knew she was telling the truth. He had acted as her guard for her when she went before the Council. He knew they adored her. She was probably the most well-connected women in the Supe world. The council wouldn’t hesitate to back her against Alcide if needed.
“I employ over half the Pack at Only at Night,” Sookie carried on, “and, to be blunt, most of them are more loyal to me than they are to Alcide. The majority of them would back me over Alcide, so the Pack would lose more members than it could afford. If Alcide was Packmaster and I moved against him, the Pack would break. I don’t want that, Marcus.”
That was the last thing he wanted as well. Despite the asshole who was Packmaster, Marcus loved his Pack and didn’t want to see it fall. Alcide’s inability to keep his dick in his pants had already caused enough problems, both within the Pack and outside it. Marcus wasn’t sure how his becoming Packmaster would benefit him, outside of keeping the Pack going, but he trusted Sookie. If she said it would be mutually beneficial, he knew it would be so.
“Fine, to protect my Pack, I’ll challenge Alcide,” Marcus said, agreeing to her crazy idea, “but, before I do, we need to get ahold of Rikki and find out how much Alcide knew about the attack on Portia.”
“Deal,’ Sookie agreed with a small smile. She knew Marcus was going out on a limb and trusting her, so she wasn’t going to give him a reason to regret it. Getting ahold of Rikki would only benefit Sookie, too, so she wasn’t going to argue against it. The blonde telepath had a busy few weeks ahead of her and she was going to need those she trusted close. First things first though, “We’ve just gotta get ahold of Rikki without Alcide findin’ out now.”
A devious smile lit up Marcus’ face as he stared at Sookie, “That will not be a problem. You free tomorrow night?”
“For this? Definitely!” Sookie replied.