“What the fuck are you doin’ here?” Alcide Herveaux demanded with anger, though there was a part of him that was very glad to see the woman before him.
The Were had returned to Shreveport from Jackson that night so that he could begin as foreman on a new job his father had been hired to do. Jackson Herveaux should have been able to complete the work himself, but a run-in with a bookie two days before, as well as three broken ribs, had changed that plan. Weres healed fast, but not that fast. Alcide was none too happy about the change to his own work schedule; however, he’d gotten used to having to cover for his father’s sorry-ass hide!
Alcide had hoped that eliminating his family’s obligation to Northman would solve a lot of problems, and Jackson had sworn that as soon as that debt was clear, he’d stop the gambling, which he’d claimed he needed to keep doing only to pay Northman. He’d further sworn that the incident with the bookie wouldn’t have happened if he’d not been trying to scrape together a payment for Northman. After Alcide told his father that the debt with the Viking had been settled, Jackson promised—for the millionth time—that he’d be changing his ways, but Alcide hadn’t believed him. He could no longer emotionally afford any belief in his father.
Speaking of people he could no longer afford to believe in, he took in Debbie Pelt, who’d made herself alluringly comfortable sitting on his bed in his master bedroom—though they’d once shared both.
He had smelled her, of course. Indeed, though he’d not seen a vehicle at his place, her scent had invaded him from the moment he opened his truck door.
She rose from where she’d been lounging, offering him a coy, seductive smile as she did so.
Alcide tried to stifle having any physical reaction to her at all—but he didn’t succeed. He hated himself a little for how easily she rattled his body.
He hated himself a little more because more than just his body was affected by her.
“Answer me!” he said, his voice raised. “What the fuck are you doin’ here? And how the fuck did you get in? I changed the locks after I kicked your ass out the last time!”
Debbie’s face moved to a pout. “I’ve left Charles, Alcide. I left him for you. I realized when I saw you at Josephine’s—with that other woman—that I didn’t want to live without you.”
“And what makes you think I wanted you back?” Alcide growled, slapping away the hand she was lifting to cup his cheek. “And—more to the point—don’t you fuckin’ know what Northman will do to you if he finds you in his area?”
“You mean the vampire sheriff here?” Debbie asked innocently. “Why would he care if I’m here or not?”
Alcide shook his head in anger. “Dammit, Debbie! Don’t fuckin’ play innocent with me! I know your games! God knows I’ve been forced to play them enough! That woman you saw me with at Josephine’s—that woman you tried to kill in my fuckin’ parking garage—isn’t just some random blonde! Eric fuckin’ Northman himself is determined to claim her!” he finished, now shouting.
Debbie’s sweet exterior disappeared. “You seem mighty upset about that idea!” she yelled with rage and jealousy. “Don’t tell me you actually like that fangbanger cunt!”
“Don’t call her that!” Alcide stormed.
“Oh—clearly you do have a thing for her!” she taunted. “And clearly you don’t like the thought of the little slut sleepin’ with one vamp after another,” she grinned evilly. “You know—I smelled the blood of two of ’em blood suckers in her!”
“I thought you quite liked vamps—given how you and your owl had your nose pressed into Edgington’s ass! Not to mention your addiction to V!”
Debbie looked torn for a moment—torn between continuing to fight with him or trying a different tactic. She decided on the second option.
“Cide, I did leave Charles. And I left behind that old life too. I just don’t love him—not like I love you,” she said, her lip quivering with emotion. “I want to change, Cide. I want to change for you—for us!”
Whether her emotion and sentiments were faked or real was unknown to even Debbie in that moment.
“And—uh—as of last night, I’m not a part of Russell’s court anymore,” she added, looking at the floor.
“Ah—so that’s what this is really about,” Alcide said, suddenly sounding tired. “Edgington threw you out of his court. And I bet Clausen also kicked you to the curb; I can’t imagine he’d turn his back on the king for you,” he added bitterly, clearly hoping to hurt her.
Debbie’s volatility rocked her back into anger. “Fuck Charles! And fuck you! I thought I would come here and apologize before movin’ on—and to see if we could give us another try! Clearly, I’m wastin’ my fuckin’ breath!”
Alcide sneered. “Admit it! You came here because you didn’t have anywhere else to go. Tell me—why’d you get tossed from Edgington’s court? It’s your V-thing—isn’t it?”
Debbie slapped the Were with a force that indicated she had some of that ‘V-thing’ in her system even then. “It’s your fault I’m in a bind with Russell!”
Alcide rubbed his cheek and left the bedroom in a huff—with Debbie on his heels, of course.
“How do you figure that, Deb?” he asked with a growl as he got a beer from his refrigerator. Briefly, he placed it against his reddening cheek before twisting its cap off.
“You’re the one that brought that fangbanger bitch around! Apparently, she’s important enough to some high-up vamps to cause Russell to push me aside like I’m nothin’!” she spat.
“Well—since you pushed Sookie into that trunk like she was nothing—I’d say that you pretty much got what you deserved!”
Debbie broke down into angry tears. “That bitch is the one who deserved pain! Not me!”
Alcide felt his hand twitching to rise; he wanted to hit her so badly in that moment. But he didn’t.
And he hated himself that he couldn’t.
“Just how do you figure she deserved it, Deb?” the Were asked incredulously. He raked his fingers through his hair roughly and then took a long swig of his beer as if to drown the flames of his anger.
“She was tryin’ to steal you from me!”
“Steal me?” Alcide asked incredulously. “For fucks sake, Deb! You are engaged to another man!”
“Were engaged!” she shrieked. “I told you Charles and I are through!”
“That doesn’t fuckin’ matter!” he yelled. “We are not fuckin’ together and haven’t been for a while! Even if Sookie had been tryin’ to be with me, it was none of your goddamned business!”
“You are my business! You always have been! Always will be!” She jutted her chin out stubbornly. “And—one day—you will see that. And, in the meantime, I’m not gonna allow you to get entangled with a fangbanging slut!”
Again, Alcide’s hand twitched, and he couldn’t stop it from forming a fist this time. “You’re fuckin’ insane, Deb!”
“Well—if I am, then you need only look in the mirror to know who made me this way!” she accused. “And—it’s not like anything too bad happened to your little girlfriend anyway,” she spat out. “Fuckin’ bitch got out of it with hardly a scratch! On the other hand—now—because of her, I’ve lost everything—but you, Cide! Please, baby! Please! Give us another chance. I promise I’ll do better this time—be the woman you want.”
Alcide’s mouth hung open for a moment in disbelief of her attitude—in disbelief that she was seeing herself as the victim in the situation.
“Sookie was almost drained and raped,” the Were said with barely controlled rage. He didn’t add that it was because of Debbie’s antics that Eric Northman had been able to play the hero in the fucked-up situation! Alcide was convinced that, if that hadn’t been the case, then Sookie wouldn’t have been as keen to leave with Northman, nor would she have rejected the offer he’d made to her to stay.
The Were growled. “Get the fuck out of here, Deb! You ruin everything you touch, and I’m done with you!”
Debbie let out a sob and rushed toward Alcide, trying to fling herself into his arms. He held her off.
“Please, Cide! Don’t turn me away!” she begged. “I love you! I’ve always loved you! And I only left you because you didn’t want to have children with me, and—then—when I saw you with her, I just lost it. Don’t you see? She can give you what I can’t! What I’ll never be able to give you! The chance to have normal kids!”
Alcide pushed her away roughly, but guilt flickered across his face.
Debbie had been hoping to see that look and immediately played up her slight advantage over her ex.
She fell to her knees before him, playing the broken woman to perfection. In that moment, she may not even have been acting—at least, not fully.
“I’m so sorry I can’t give you kids that won’t shift, Cide. You know I would if I could!” She shook her head. “I was just so angry when I pictured you and her with a perfect little family: the family I have hoped and prayed that you would want with me.” She wept, burying her face into her hands.
Only half of the tears were crocodile tears. The other half were evidence of Debbie’s very real heartbreak. It was that half which compelled her to continue speaking. “I hated you and then myself when I realized that you didn’t want me to be the mother of your children. I love you so much, Cide. With everything I am! And not being with you led me to make horrible decisions. To do horrible things!”
As her weeping prevented her from speaking more, she heard him toss his empty bottle into the trashcan and then get another beer.
“You can’t blame me for all your sins,” he said gruffly, though there was some guiltiness in his voice.
“I know,” she whimpered as she looked up at him pitifully. “And I can’t even blame the drugs—at least not fully. I chose to take them to cover up all the feelings that I just couldn’t deal with—all the pain. But, Cide, I want to stop taking V.” She brushed her tears away with the back of her hand. “I want to start over. It’s why I’m here.”
“Deb, we’re not starting back up!” Alcide said with frustration.
“I know,” she said quietly. “I mean—I’d hoped that you would want me again, but I see now that I’ve done too much wrong to deserve you—to get your forgiveness,” she whispered. “But, please, if you ever loved me—please help me. Help me get off the drugs, Cide,” she begged.
He shook his head. “I don’t see how I can help you with that.”
“Just—uh—give me a safe place to stay while I detox—okay?” she begged. “I can’t do it out in the open. I just—uh—need a little time here—where I’ll be safe from Northman. Somewhere that I can get better—please. You always made me feel so safe.”
He was still shaking his head.
“I swear, I’ll just stay here until the drugs are out of my system. Then I’ll make arrangements to leave the state. I’ll go north!” she promised fervently. “I always wanted to live where it snows—remember? I’ll just go somewhere where no one knows me. I’ll be safe and out of your hair forever. Please, Cide! I know you don’t want me. Charles doesn’t either,” she sniffled. “But if you ever loved me, please help me now. If you don’t, I don’t think I’ll make it,” she said with very real fear.
The Were couldn’t help but to respond to her with compassion as he took in the very broken form still kneeling in front of him. Yes—she was batshit crazy. But she was also a woman he’d spent a lot of his life loving, and he did have some culpability in her downfall from a sweet young woman full of dreams and aspirations to a drug-addled wretch full of pain and hate.
“I need someone to believe in me, Cide,” she pleaded. “I know it’s not fair asking you, but I need someone. I’m so afraid I’ll die—either here in Area 5 or in some nameless alley somewhere—if you don’t help me.”
“What about Sandra? Your parents?” Alcide asked, his tone softer than before.
“Sandy’s in college now,” Debbie sighed. “And I don’t want to fuck up her life. And my parents are,” she teared up again, “not my parents.”
“I know you’re adopted, Deb, but your parents love you!” Alcide said confidently.
“Would they still love me if they saw me like this? If they knew all I’d done? What I’ve become?” she asked before shaking her head. “I can’t hurt them by letting them see me like this. I won’t. I’d rather die.” Her whole body now shaking, she wrapped her arms around herself. “It took all the courage I had left to come to you, Cide. I don’t have enough to go to them.”
The Were frowned and raked his hand through his hair. “I’ll let you stay here for one week, Deb.”
She practically launched to her feet and went to embrace him.
He held her off again. “No!” he said firmly. “You can stay here—in the guest room. I’ll provide you with shelter and food—if you can stomach to eat it. But that’s fucking it! I won’t be your lover or your friend. And I won’t be your nursemaid through your withdrawal either!” He sighed. “But—God help me—I can’t turn you away.” He sighed again—this time louder. “I hope you’re being sincere, Deb. I hope you detox and start that new life—a better one for yourself. I never wanted you to suffer when things didn’t work out with us. And I still don’t want you to suffer,” he admitted.
“You don’t?” she asked hopefully. “Even after all the bad I’ve done?”
He shook his head. “I have a limit, Deb. This is it. If I find out you’re playing me for a fool, you’ll be dead to me—abjured.”
“I’m not playing you! I swear!” she averred.
“This is it, Deb. No matter what happens—you’re out of my life forever after this week.”
Large tears began falling from her eyes again. “I understand,” she whispered.
“It has to be this way,” Alcide said with pity and sadness. “We’ve been hurting each other for too long. And it has to stop, Deb—for the sake of both of us. Tell me you understand that!”
She nodded. “You’re right, Cide. And—again—really—thank you.”
He huffed. “You got a bag?”
She nodded. “Yeah.”
“Well—take it to the guestroom. And—if you’ve got any drugs in it—flush ’em. Now! If I find them later, you’re gone!”
Debbie bit her bottom lip guiltily, but nodded. “I have some V left—not much, but a little. It’s here,” she said, taking a vial from her jacket pocket and handing it to him.
Her hands shook almost uncontrollably.
“Is there any more?” he asked after he’d poured the contents of the vial down the sink and turned to find large tears streaming down Debbie’s face as she looked at the now empty vial.
“No,” she whispered.
Alcide softened a little. “I’m proud of you for giving me this, Deb. Now, I’ll make us something to eat while you get settled into the guestroom.”
“Okay,” she said meekly.
“If you leave this house, I won’t be able to protect you or myself from Northman. I’m risking my life to let you stay. Don’t fuck me over,” he warned.
“I won’t. I’ll prove it!” she said. And—at least in that moment—she spoke sincerely.
Moreover, she wanted to believe that she was telling the truth—for Alcide.
A/N: As promised, here is your second chapter of the day! I’m hoping that I’ll be able to continue as I was before my brief hiatus—giving you one chapter a week—from here on out. Fingers crossed.
Well—The Trunk featured Debbie quite prominently. Yes—Bill and Appius are certainly more killably delicious, but Debbie’s a bad penny. You had to know she’d turn back up. Hope you enjoyed the offerings this week. Thanks for all the support about both the story and my health!