A Fresh Start
There were only two remarkable things about my early evening…
- On top of the excitement I felt coming from Pam (most likely explained by her unleashed shopping spree), I was feeling an unreasonable amount of anxiety and hesitation. It wasn’t Pam. Sookie had seemingly come to terms with ‘if’ and was struggling with some sort of dilemma. Not only was I going to be the enjoying the fruits of her irrational tirades, I was going to be feeling them too. The only peace I got from what I’d been told came from knowing I wouldn’t steer myself wrong…
- I found myself looking forward to Sookie’s appearance at Fangtasia. I growled at myself as I reached for my phone, sure that having Pam kick me in the balls nightly would probably be more enjoyable than being taunted by the enigmatic little mind reader on a regular basis… And the idea might get added to the short list of chores that Pam doesn’t mind.
She huffed a bothered breath into the phone. “Hello?”
“What seems to be the problem?”
“Shortly after I rose, I began feeling Pam’s shopping mood. It’s an odd combination of determination and giddiness… And you… you seem to be bothered by something.”
“Wow. Really? That’s…” She was suddenly fearful and angry as an alternative.
“I did tell you that I would be able to feel your emotions.”
“No… I mean, yeah, you did… but… It kind of makes me sick to know how well that works. Bill could feel me all this time.”
“Unless he’s the only vampire I’ve ever heard of to be lacking in that department, yes… You’re healed though.”Changing the subject since I had never been guilty of enjoying Bill as the topic du jour.
She giggled. “Yeah. By the time I was done drinking it, my bruises were gone… Thanks again.”
“You’re welcome. I have my uses… So back to why I called. I had a pretty clear picture in my mind of you pacing the floor and chewing on your lip. What had you so flustered?”
“Ok, THAT you didn’t tell me.”
“You knew I was pacing and chewing my lip.”
I started laughing at her. “You were doing it last night in my office. I was imagining it, nothing more.”
“Oh. That’s a relief. I was thinking that you could like, I don’t know… ‘SEE’ me.”
“No. I just have a vivid imagination. What are you wearing?”
“You’re not funny.”
“Are you lying in bed? I am.”
“That’s more like it… try moaning my name instead though…”
“If I thought I had half a chance of winning, I’d try to kick your ass.”
“If I promise to play fairly, would you consider a wrestling match? Naked of course.”
“I’m going to hang up.”
“Without telling me why you were so anxious? I could help you to relax.”
“Or you could give me a headache… What do I wear to Fangtasia? The way you looked through my closet last night… I don’t think I want to wear a sundress again even if I had many left.”
“I quite enjoyed the sundresses.”
She growled at me. “Are you always such a pill?”
“No. I think you bring out the best in me.”
“Eric, you’re not helping…”
“You aren’t playing along either.”
“What should I wear?” Before I had the chance to tell her that clothing was optional, she caught herself. “…because I WILL be dressed.”
I laughed at her again. “If you insist… I can’t say that it really matters. You’ve seen the usual customers. The dress code is pretty liberal, though… I have to admit that I’m curious to see you in something backless.”
“It doesn’t matter?”
“Come to think of it, something sheer would be nice.”
“All of that… and it doesn’t matter?”
“What are you wearing right now, Sookie?”
“What are you wearing, you giant pervert?”
“You asked and I’m still in bed. Well?”
She cleared her throat and I felt a healthy dose of impishness from her… “I’m wearing long johns, tube socks, a snow suit and mask, and boots that come up to my knees. Happy now?”
“Delighted. It’s as though you’ve wrapped yourself like a gift. The snow suit should be fun. They have a lot of zippers.”
She started cackling. “I should’ve known you could make that dirty! I’ll see you in just a little bit.”
“Panties weren’t on the list.”
She gasped. “Oh. My. G…”
She’d hung up before she finished and judging by her blend of aggravation and amusement, she was most likely still ‘complaining’ about me to her rack of clothes.
When I walked into my office, Pam was behind my desk in her ‘people’ clothes with her feet propped up. The usual. “Get your bejeweled ass out of my chair, brat.”
“Liar.” She didn’t bother looking up.
“No… No, I’m pretty sure that I genuinely want to sit behind my own desk. Get up.”
She rolled her eyes and took her laptop to the couch to continue her shopping. “I don’t like this couch. It’s lumpy and smells like a Guadalajara goat hospice… and you’re lying about your disposition. Don’t fake being grumpy when you’re in a good mood for once.”
“Buy another one… And why would I be in a good mood?”
“I already ordered it and the matching rug. The other Sookie told me where I found a good one last night. The shelter up the street will appreciate this one as a donation, I suppose… And you’re in a good mood because Sookie is coming to the bar tonight.”
“How would you know that?”
“I called her. Do you know she’s listed?” Coy, Pam? Really?
“Of course I know that she’s listed. Why did you call her?”
“My task of outfitting her. A girl can’t just give a size to a boutique and keep her fingers crossed. I needed to know details. As it turns out, her waist is more of a 6, but her curves need more room… I’m sure you’ve noticed her curves though… by the way, light pink with black ribbon trim.”
“I’d thank you for being thorough if I thought that was your only reason to call her. What’s pink with black ribbons?”
“When I called Sookie, she answered the phone by snapping, ‘They’re light pink with black satin ribbons. Now would you let me get dressed?’ I’m not sure what she was talking about, but she apologized for thinking you were the one calling… What was she talking about?” The panties I was going to be thinking about until I could chew them off of her…
“You deserve a merit badge for message delivery, Pam. Well done.”
She snorted, knowing the answer. “Would you like to know about the clothing I’ve arranged for the trip?”
“I’m sure it’s all spectacular. I’ll see it all soon enough. You might as well be speaking another language when you describe women’s clothing anyway.”
“Fine… The other Sookie gave me a couple of specifics… items the other you enjoyed in particular…”
“Is it at all possible for you to not torment me about my interest in Sookie Stackhouse?”
“It isn’t torment… Don’t take the joy out of this for me.” Of course, how could I have possibly forgotten it was all about Pam? How foolish of me.
She rolled her eyes and started to leave. “You might have been too distracted to notice, but I saw what you look like ‘happy’… Call it what you want, but I’m looking forward to this.”
“You being with Sookie. It makes sense… God knows you wouldn’t let yourself fall in love with anyone otherwise. I’m going to go dress for work.”
“Who the fuck is falling in love? You can’t be serious! In lust, in fuck would be nice, but you’re making a mountain out of a molehill here…”
“Riiiiight… and before you get pissed at yourself and take it out on me, I’m going to point out a few things and then lay low for the rest of the night. 1- I dare you to lie to me and tell me that you didn’t have any fun with whatever you two were talking about last night when you took her home or when you talked to her earlier. 2- Last night, HE was just as happy to see HER as vice versa. He felt so strongly about her, that he tipped you some ‘get Sookie’ info… and 3- Sookie told me that the worst thing about what happened last night was that she hadn’t realized how much you love her until she woke up without their bond… Whether you’re merely in ‘fuck’ with her right now or not, eventually you’ll be in love with Sookie Stackhouse. She’s already responsible for that stupid grin you’re wearing and it only took them two weeks.”
Before I had the chance to respond, not that it would’ve equated as much more eloquent than a ‘mind your own fucking business’, she was gone to ‘lay low’… and I spent more than a few minutes irritated enough with my child to email Uncle Bob’s Self Storage to cancel one of her rentals and tell them to auction the contents… But by the time I was done typing, I realized that Sookie was getting closer to Shreveport and I was already smiling.
I was shuffling papers, making some progress with keeping orders and invoices from collecting dust, when I realized that Sookie had arrived. The bar had only just opened, so I blamed Pam for the delay in Sookie’s appearance in my office. I wasn’t going to go looking for her.
I’d stayed at my desk, only slightly distracted by what they could possibly be talking about, but after another half an hour I’d completely exhausted the stack of mail and all of my personal business matters… If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that Pam was keeping Sookie on purpose. I definitely wasn’t going to go looking for Sookie.
After filling the schedule for the next week since we’d be in New Orleans, I found myself staring at the hideous sofa that would soon be gone and remembered what Sookie had looked like sprawled out on it the night before… and started scrutinizing her emotions…
She was in better humor than she had been earlier. I could actually hear her occasional laughter through the door of my office and over the growing horde of vermin. Strangely, even in her fun, she was set on something. Driven… she had purpose… She was already ‘practicing’.
Even though I wasn’t ‘looking’ for her, I still needed to make an appearance on the floor. As I reached to open the door I was suddenly aware that Sookie was getting further away from me…
She was leaving?
She’d only been there for an hour.
“Where did she go?” Speaking to the back of Pam’s head was always easier at Fangtasia considering how pissy she looked when she wore latex ‘for show’.
Pam shrugged and bothered trying to hide how amused she was. “Home. She said that she didn’t want to bother you while you were busy.”
“Why didn’t you just show her back to my office instead of letting her think I was busy?”
“She didn’t really give me the chance. She stood here at the door with me for a few minutes and bounced a couple of undesirables out of the line… Then all of a sudden she announced that ‘it’ was easier than she thought and told me to tell you she said ‘thanks again’ and ‘hi’.”
“Nothing happened? She just left?”
“One of the fangbangers mentioned getting another crack at you, but that’s no different than any other night.”
“Except we don’t usually have a mind reader on hand who might hear… FUCK!”
I was already half way back to my office when Pam asked me why I’d care what Sookie heard…
It seemed like it took forever for her voicemail to pick up.
“Hey, it’s Sookie. You got my voicemail. If this is Sam and you need me to work, call the house ‘cause Gran’ll know where I’m at. If this is Gran, call Merlotte’s. Sam doesn’t mind when you call me. Everyone else, just leave a message. There’s no telling why I didn’t pick up. Could be anything from I’m in the bath to I can’t hear my ringer over the radio or vacuum. You know what to do at the beep. Bye.”
Amusingly verbose as her outgoing message was, I hung up… I had no fucking clue of what to say. Since I couldn’t be sure of why she left in the first place, I had no starting point for talking her into coming back.
And as though my disappointment wasn’t enough of a pain in my ass, it seemed that the more pissed I was for any given reason, the more the livestock craved attention. Pam had the gall to blame me, stating that our horribly morbid attire wasn’t the only part of the spectacle that the tourists expected. A seething fangy vampire was ‘sexier’ than one smiling like a used car salesman… She might have had a point, but it wasn’t any less irksome. It did make its way into my fantasy plans for closing the bar though… The fangbangers who didn’t gravitate towards Weres, could probably be ‘turned off’ by happy hour and friendly service from perky co-eds.
I had a fleeting moment, hoping that Sookie was the reason for my phone to be ringing… Unfortunately it was Andre calling to inform me that our travel arrangements had been made for tomorrow as I expected. The good news portion of that phone call was that the ‘flowers’ were already en route to Shreveport.
Other than that… I was trying to score the heated debate running through my mind. Go out to Bon Temps vs. stand my ground. Standing my ground wasn’t making much of a showing… Not only did I want to go talk to Sookie, Andre’s call gave me an excuse that would keep Pam from irritating me about it.
Since every bit of actual work was out of the way, I decided that Bon Temps tipped the scales and once I was done putting on the required show for the cattle, I’d be heading out to greener pastures.
The customers were offering even less entertainment than usual… They were all too pathetic to laugh at, fuck or feed from… even if I had the ‘hankering’ for fast food… the bagged blood I had at home didn’t even get my attention. After tasting Sookie last night, it wouldn’t have been good enough anyway.
When Pam took her nightly ‘quickie’ to the back room, I decided that I’d waited long enough… As soon as she was done with ‘dinner’ I’d leave.
I felt like I’d been thrown a life raft when I heard her step onto the platform behind my seat…
“I don’t have to tell you how fucking annoying these assholes are tonight. I’m either leaving or staking myself on a chair leg.”
“But I just got here.” Sookie’s giggle directly in my ear suddenly drowned out every other noise.
I didn’t have anything to say that wouldn’t give me away as being happy to see she’d come back and turning to look at her made me wish I had told her to wear jeans and a t-shirt. The black cocktail dress she was wearing was going to torture me all night. She was nearly spilling out of the top and the skirt was so short that it was only a matter of time before I’d get to see her “Pink panties?”
She narrowed her eyes at me. “You have a one track mind.”
“Only recently. I thought you’d decided to go home.”
She was confused instantly. “No… After you called, Pam did. When I told her that I was trying to find something to wear, she said she’d grab a few of her things for me to try. I went to the diner down the street to grab dinner and change. She told me that… She told you I left.”
“Yes she did.” I was going to kill her.
Sookie giggled. “Have you been pouting?” Yes.
“No. I’ve been annoyed that I might have to go out to Bon Temp to let you know about our travel plans though.”
“Was it like you thought? Tomorrow?”
“The plane will be waiting for us at sunset.”
“A plane will be waiting?”
“The queen is sending her private plane.”
“We’ll have even more room than I thought since Pam will be walking.”
“You’d make her walk all the way there?”
“After her little trick, absolutely.”
She stared at me for a minute before she squatted modestly next to my legs to look up at me, grinning devilishly… “I didn’t want to be stuck in the middle…”
“I didn’t have any parts that. She…”
She shook her head and leaned forward. “Where is she?”
“In the back, feeding.”
“Can you fake getting pissed? I mean, with her?”
“Yes.” I wouldn’t necessarily be faking though.
“I’m going to go wait in my car… storm out bitching about how you can’t get in touch with me to let me know about New Orleans… Once you’re ‘gone’, I’ll come back and give her grief about letting you leave and play it up on my end… How long would it take you to get to Bon Temps?”
“If I fly, 20 minutes.”
“I’ll call my friend Lafayette and get him to call here to complain about a big scary vampire trashing Merlotte’s looking for me.” Beautiful.
I’d have laughed if I could have risked spoiling Pam’s payback. “Go on then… I’ll be back here in under an hour. No waiting tables though. I was warned that you’d get bored and try to keep yourself busy.”
She giggled and patted my knee as she left the stage. “I promise.”
When Pam came back from feeding, she found me listening to Sookie’s voicemail message as part of the production and realizing that she needed to change it since her grandmother was still mentioned.
“What’s got you so pissed?”
“My new pet.”
She snorted out a laugh. “What about her?”
“Knowing that we have a trip to deal with, not only did the stupid little bitch not bother herself with making a genuine appearance so that she could get some much needed practice, but now she isn’t answering her phone so that I can tell her to be at the airfield at sunset… You’ve had your fill?”
I got up and started for the back door.
“Eric? Where are you going?” The panic in her voice was so satisfying…
“My pet seems to need a lesson in answering when I call. I’ll talk to you later.”
“I don’t have time for this, Pam. She needs to learn that I’m serious. If she keeps this shit up, I’ll just turn her and be done with the games.”
I let the door close behind me since slamming it would have had me waiting for a locksmith again.
Sookie was waiting in her car parked next to mine. She looked up from her paperback with raised eyebrows and a curious grin. “She buy it?”
I nodded and rested my elbows on the edge of her window. “She’s panicking… If you want to have some extra fun, I told her that I’d turn you so that you wouldn’t be able to be so stubborn. Surely one of the fangbangers heard me so that you could claim you heard them thinking about the ‘threat’.”
She threw her head back when she laughed and I caught myself mesmerized by the movement. “You’re evil!”
“This was your plot. I’m but an actor in your direction.”
“But how I am I supposed to resist ‘freaking out’ about the idea of being turned!?” She started laughing again when my phone began to ring. “…You should get out of here so that she can feel you getting farther away.”
I shrugged. “She’s too busy ‘freaking out’ over the idea of me doing something drastic and temperamental. She doesn’t realize that I’ve practically blocked her off.”
She was still giggling when her phone started to ring once mine stopped.
“Since I have a minute… is the snow suit in your trunk?”
“I wore jeans because Pam was going to bring something for me.”
“Pity… so, to be clear, does your bra match said pink panties with the little black ribbons?”
She gave my arms a push. “Get out of here.”
“You can’t uninvite me from a parking lot, Sookie.”
“Then how do I get you to get on with things? Time’s a’wastin’ and I still need to practice.”
“For luck of course. So much could go wrong while I’m flying here and there and I’m not sure of this Lafayette fellow. Is he reliable?”
“Oh, for God sakes!” She grabbed the front of my shirt and pulled me through the window enough to barely kiss my lips. “There. You’ve been kissed for luck. Now go on.”
She put her finger over my mouth to quiet me and it worked, but only because it made me want to stay and see what else she’d let me taste. “Eh! You said that you’d go if I kissed you. You didn’t specify what kind of kiss. You’ve been kissed. Go on. We had a deal.”
I finally backed away from her car. “I suppose you’ll need to get into character… But I’ll be showing you what I meant when I get back.”
I watched the suspenseful look on her face as I went into the air. Nothing about how she felt made me think she’d be contrary either.
Something to look forward to.