As we all rode to Merlotte’s together, Edward interrupted Sookie and Corbett’s advice about redneck interloping to mention that all seven of us were comfortable in the Navigator… He leaned forward to smell the seat in front of him and asked how easy it was to fuck on it. Sookie wasn’t too shy to say the seat configuration left something to be desired, but she didn’t have any complaints about the back seat of her Mercedes SUV… and continued on to sing her praises for minivans in that facet.
I’d had the passing notion that Sookie used the girls as an excuse to avoid certain topics… she was American… That theory was tossed aside before her father segued from the topic of fucking in cars to mention that ‘Hoyt says hi’.
Gawain and I turned, both of us surprised to some extent… Edward and Richard were on either side of her giving her disbelieving looks.
She shrugged unapologetically. “Ex-boyfriend.”
“In a new car?”
She hissed, “Hushit.”
Gawain was still staring at her when I turned around again. “And… He’s still saying ‘hi’.”
“Of course he is. I’m unforgettable.”
“How unforgettable? Would you want the girls to meet this Hoyt while you’re wearing that top?”
She didn’t answer with anything but a giggle… Gawain fumed until Corbett parked.
The parking lot of the bar was rank with cooking grease, beer, urine, vomit and blood…
Sookie stared at the small building with a bizarre feeling I couldn’t place… but the way her lip was curled up gave me a hint.
“I can’t believe how many Mes have wasted years in this shithole.”
I chuckled, “Is Sookie Auers too good for the common folk?”
She backhanded my stomach and scoffed in German, “No. Thanks to your blood, I’m a little grossed out… No wonder y’all are such bitches.”
Edward argued, “Bullshit. We’re bitches whenever it suits us. Only newborns can complain. Deodorant is very new… First thing we did when we rose was bathe. Our own smell was killing us…”
While Richard and Edward were plagued by their sense of smell above all other changes, I couldn’t adjust to my new strength quickly enough, and Liz hid under piles of blankets to drown out the sound of insect wings… I couldn’t help but wonder what the other Sookies’ bane had been, if any.
Edward put his arm around Ema’s shoulders, sampled her scent, and offered, “Vanilla scented bath products are even newer.”
We all rolled our eyes at him. His flirting style was grotesque on a good night. He did it for fun, with or without an interest in the girl in question… He flirted to fill his idle time like some watch television or read.
As soon as we walked in, a man boomed, “Sookie fuckin’ Stackhouse!” Ironic since it had been suggested that we ‘lay low’.
A tall, well-built but clumsy man charged towards our group from the pool table, leaving his beer on what seemed like a random table along the way.
Sookie barely had the chance to say ‘hey Hoyt’ before he bent over to sling her over his shoulder and carry her outside again, patting Corbett’s shoulder as he moved past.
I couldn’t help but laugh at the look on Gawain’s face.
He growled, “He’s just a Human.”
I taunted, “He’s an ex-boyfriend she’s fucked since she bought the one-year old car outside.”
“You’re not my type… It looks like you’re striking out all over Louisiana.”
Corbett chuckled until a waitress approached us. She leaned against Corbett’s side and kissed his cheek. “A kid with a fake ID is one thang, Cort, but you can’t have three youngins in here. This ain’t like when ya used to let Jas have parties at your place. It’s after midnight and Sam’s real mindful of ABC.”
Slim brunette with long legs… Perhaps it was the freckles under her eyes and across her nose, but she didn’t look old enough to be serving alcohol.
He smirked as he slipped his arm behind her back. “Ain’t nuthin’ darlin’… Just put us at a table and start pourin’ shots and pumpin’ pitchers. I’ll take care of your boss if he gets his hair up.”
She sighed, “He ain’t gonna start nuthin’ with you, but he’ll stand behind the bar and watch every damn thing you do all night.’
“Let ‘em. We’re just here for a few drinks. The only empty spot big enough for us is in the red-head’s section anyway. You won’t be stuck in the middle.”
She bit her lip and whimpered as she turned to lead us to a large table at the back of a section of tables… Corbett helped her to pull two small tables together and as he sat down, she offered a menu to him. “You know your girlfriend’ll be hurt if you don’t order something.”
He chuckled, “I’ll take a couple baskets of fries as long as they come with a kiss from the cook.”
She laughed as she walked away, “I ain’t even gonna ask why you don’t care if it’s Terry or Laffy cookin’ tonight.”
Once everyone took a seat (Edward being the last of us because he pulled out Ema’s chair for her), I asked, “And why wouldn’t a Shifter say anything to you?”
He shrugged. “Maybe cuz my best friend’s a Packmaster.”
Ema giggled, “Or because you owned his ass in public.”
Richard snorted, “You bested a Shifter? What did you fight about?”
He shrugged. “Can’t remember. I was drunk off my ass…” He narrowed his eyes in Gawain’s direction. “Get out… Pick through Sam’s head.”
I chuckled, “Strike three.”
The red-head Corbett mentioned arrived and squatted next to the table between Corbett and Richard. Her name-tag said Arlene, her legs were skeletal, there was more mass to her padded bra than to the rest of her chest, and her hair was so unnaturally red it looked like she’d had it dyed at a clown college.
“Evenin’ Mr. Stackhouse… Ummm…”
He cut her off. “Dawn’s already takin’ care of the first round, sugar. Give us some time and check on us once we need a fresh pitcher. We’re good for now.”
“Yeahhhhh… We need to talk about that. It’s after midnight and… shouldn’t they be in bed this late?”
Granted, Richard was 16-years old when he was brought over and suffered from a ‘baby face’… Edward looked every bit of 19. She should have asked for his proof of age.
“They’re fine. You aren’t servin’ them anyway. It’s just Ema, Sook and me drinkin’ tonight.”
She huffed, “Sam says I need to check their IDs and if they aren’t 21, they’ve gotta go, cuz’a the time and all. I’m sorry.”
He looked over Arlene’s head to direct his voice towards the bar. “Tell Sam Merlotte if he wants to see their IDs, he needs to show me his shot record first.”
The waitress whined, “Mr. Stackhouse… I don’t want to be in the middle of this.”
“Then don’t let him send you over here to do his dirty work…”
Corbett was interrupted when a black man in a pink mesh shirt and matching scarf tied around his head pushed Arlene over and threw himself on Corbett’s lap.
“Back off ho. He’s mine.”
Corbett laughed, “How’s my little cupcake been?” while Richard offered a hand and helped the waitress from the floor.
“I been better. I ain’t seen you in a while. You replaced me with that ho.”
Ema giggled when the man pointed at her and said, “Hi Laf.”
Corbett cooed, “You’ll forgive me once she’s gone. She’s leaving in a few days… Lafayette, these are my friends… Eric, Gawain, Richard and Edward.”
Lafayette looked us over before saying. “He doesn’t have a type at all, does he? Don’t get attached. He always comes back to me.”
Corbett rolled his eyes in good humor and whispered. “Go tell Sam to call Arlene off. She’s asking for IDs and the last thing I’m in the mood for is that bigot’s reaction to seeing those ‘boys’ are over five hundred years old.”
Without hesitation, Lafayette kissed Corbett’s cheek and left his lap. “On it, boo.”
As Lafayette walked away, Corbett lifted his hand to show his middle finger to what seemed to be the whole dining room. “Fuck all y’all…” He was being watched like a sideshow. He shook his head and grumbled, “Poor kid… Assholes like that would be happier if everyone stayed in the closet about everything. Anyway… What’s takin’ Sook so long?”
Nothing interesting. Judging by her mood, she wasn’t doing any more than catching up with a friend… That didn’t mean I couldn’t fuck with Gawain though. He’d mentioned on the plane that he didn’t have Sookie’s talent for crowds. He was limited to closer ranges than the girls.
“You don’t want specifics… Does she relive the good old days with Hoyt every time she visits Bon Temps?”
If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Gawain’s body temperature was rising.
I could tell by the look on Corbett’s face that he knew I was taunting Gawain.
He shrugged. “Not every time… it’s called a booty call here. Hooking up for nuthin’ but sex…”
Edward asked, “Did they stop calling them ‘one-nighters’?”
“Naw. One night stands are usually someone you never seen before and hope you don’t run into again. Booty calls are like… You know enough about baseball to understand the bullpen?”
I heard Gawain’s fangs run out behind his lips.
Thanks to the fact that Edward and Richard were devout Yankees fans, I knew enough to ask, “As opposed to a pinch-hitter?”
Corbett took a deep breath and sighed, “That’s more of a fuck-buddy, I think. You know, at the end of the night, nobody goes home alone.”
I could already feel that Sookie was on her way towards us when I nodded. “That makes perfect sense… You might want to catch the waitress. I doubt Sookie will be back before the bar closes. You don’t want to drink her portion too.”
Corbett leaned back in his chair and sighed, “It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it… Shit… Lemme give you Calvin’s number. If I get smashed, just text him and let him know Sook went home with Hoyt. She might crash over there and…” He was reaching into his pocket for his cell phone when Sookie returned.
Confused as I was by the fact that she draped her arms over my shoulders, it only annoyed Gawain more.
Hoyt took the empty seat next to Gawain while Sookie pointed to everyone in turn. “Hoyt, Edward, you know Ema and Daddy, Richard, this is Eric, and that’s Gawain. What did I miss?”
Corbett chuckled, “The sound of an asshole puckering. We mostly been fuckin’ with Gawain… Oh, and I got a lap dance from Laf.”
She chided, “Daddy, stop picking on the Vampires, please. There won’t be anything left for Dawn… or Margie… or Danielle…”
His eyes lit up. “Oh. Danielle’s here. Didn’t even see her.”
“Pool table. Green top…” She moved to whisper into my ear, “Can I have a minute?”
If it was going to continue to irritate Gawain, absolutely. “Where are we going?”
I followed her to the restroom and as soon as I closed the door behind us, she started, “I need a boyfriend.”
“I’m sure you can find a volunteer… I think your nipples could cut glass.” Apparently she’d caught a chill outside.
She laughed, “Jackass! Hoyt’s single at the moment. I lied and told him I’m seeing someone to put him off because Gawain’s already being a tool.”
“Why not just tell Gawain you want to put on a show? I’m sure he wouldn’t mind at all.”
“Yeah… because I need to spin him up. Thanks anyway… Edward’s trying to hook up with Ema and… I’m sorry, but Richard looks way too young to play the part. You’re it.”
She rolled her eyes and huffed, “C’mon, I don’t know enough about Gawain to pull it off and you had no problems mentioning the Eric/Sookie porn when it suited your needs.”
“You could have started with that.”
She shrugged. “Like it matters. You already want to help me out to fuck with Gawain… One dance, maybe two, and as soon as one party leaves, we come clean to Gawain.”
“Don’t call me your ‘boyfriend’.”
“Agreed. Don’t do anything creepy when my father can see it. There’s a fine line between acknowledging that I have a sex-life and being a spectator to it… or the collateral weirdness it creates.”
I nodded. “Agreed… Are you implying that I’m free to be creepy when your father isn’t looking?”
She giggled, “You would anyw-”
She stopped short, pinching her face together and shaking her head. She was amused and annoyed simultaneously.
She held her finger up and closed her eyes for a moment while a wicked little smirk slowly developed.
She breathed, “You’re going to owe me for that.”
“Gawain was trying to hear my thoughts, so I let my shields slip.”
I chuckled, “What did he see?”
She giggled, “Eric/Sookie porn,” and bit her lip.
She sighed, “Glad you’re happy about that…” She stepped towards me and wrapped her arms around my sides.
“Why am I being hugged again?”
“If he’s going to buy it… you need to smell a little like Hoyt after the greeting I got from him.”
“There’s a hole in your theory…” She looked up at me and rested her chin on my chest. “Depending on what you showed him, we should smell like cum too.”
She hissed, “Fuuuuuuuuuck.”
“The smell of blood might suffice though.”
She pinched her face together again and groaned, “Oh, poor you.”
“This is your idea.”
She laughed through her nose. “Nice try. Putting Hoyt off was my idea. Your benefits are seriously tipping the scales.”
“He’s making it easy to taunt him. I’ve never seen him so intent to fuck someone. This is hilarious… I won’t take much. Is he still trying to spy on us?”
“Yeah, but he can’t get past my shields. God knows he’s tried. He’s starting to get a complex.”
“Let him see.”
Her eyes widened as she stepped back. “See what?” She was more anxious than scared really… not comfortable with not knowing… my little control freak.
I let my fangs down and took a step towards her. “The show.”
“What are you going to do?”
She took another step back and lifted her arm to offer her wrist, but before she could argue with me, I took her hand and to pull her closer.
“You aren’t a donor. He’ll know better.”
She squeezed her eyes shut and growled, “I should have just told Hoyt I’m back with Allecks…” She took a few deep breaths and sighed, “Shields being dropped in 3… 2…”
I grabbed her legs and pulled them up, pinning her to the wall, surprising her enough that she yelped my name… definitely loud enough to be heard at our table.
Her neck was rigid when I put my mouth to it… I’d barely licked when she giggled, trapping my head in the crook of her neck and squirming to get away.
I let go of her leg to put my hand to her throat and push her chin up, retracting my fangs to drag my teeth over her skin…
“What about now?”
She gasped, “Are you giving me a hickey?”
I hadn’t been planning to… I was just preparing her neck…
She must have sensed that she’d given me the idea… she laughed ‘fuck my big mouth’ and began slapping my sides before I started gnawing…
She wiggled and whimpered, complaining that I made her lose a shoe…
Pinching me when I told her to shut the fuck up and cooperate for once…
She finally groaned, “Jesus Eric, mission accomplished. I’m actually getting turned on. Bite already.”
I was surprised she’d admit it.
It was hard enough to not laugh at the look on her face when I lifted my head. All I could muster was, “Really?”
She rolled her eyes. “Yeah really… Wipe that smirk off your face. My neck is sensitive and you hit that sweet spot under my ear. You can screw with Gawain’s fragile little ego without spinning me up. Knock it off.”
“What if I don’t?”
She had a sudden dawning that made her gasp and push against my shoulders. “You shit! Are you trying to…”
She figured out too quickly that Gawain would practically choke if Sookie reeked of lust. He’d assume she’s attracted to me.
Sookie snarled, “I’ll soooooo fight back… And keep in mind you’re guessing and I’ve read the journal.”
I snorted and lowered my face to her neck again. “You’re more than welcome to try. Good luck.”
As I nipped the side of her neck, she whimpered, “You’re asking for it. I’m serious.”
I teased, “I can tell. I’m almost scared.”
“Bite now. Last chance.”
I ignored her…
And it was a colossal mistake.
I was expecting for her to continue talking, run her mouth to try to distract herself…
Why didn’t I know better?
I should have known better.
She wasn’t too passive to stab me.
She wasn’t too passive to put herself between two Vampires with their fangs down.
She wasn’t too passive to keep a secret even though she was tickled until she cried…
And more currently, she wasn’t too passive to lift her arms to twist her fingers into my hair…
Pull my head back…
Tighten her legs around me…
And begin chewing my neck.
When I growled, it only made her giggle…
And the next mistake I made was grabbing her hair to try to pull her away.
Feeling her moan as her teeth dragged away…
Raised eyebrow, feeling proud of herself. “Giving up so quick? Lightweight.”
“Are you willing to go as far as fucking me to prove your point?”
She snorted, “No, but if you kept romancing my damn neck for much longer, I wouldn’t have cared if I had a point… Are we square?”
No. I hadn’t noticed a single thing worth fucking in ages… definitely nothing that could make me hard in under a minute.
When I lied with a nod she breathed, “Thank God,” and lifted her chin to offer her neck. “Just bite… or I’m gonna end up cheating on you with Hoyt just to get it out of my system.”
No. He’d have a hard time fucking her if I bent his knees the wrong way.
What little good trying to calm down had done was reversed when I pushed my fangs into her neck.
Her legs tightened around my waist, her nails dug into my arms, her back straightened… and the ragged sigh she released when she started breathing again…
Two pulls, even though my initial plan just included a superficial bite… two pulls, thinking blood would cure the problem she’d created.
I could have taken more… I could have taken it all, but it wouldn’t have done any good.
I couldn’t bring myself to pull away, growling against her neck while I let her punctures continue to torture me.
When I finally pried myself away, she thumbed her blood from my lip coolly… It was infuriating that she wasn’t nearly as affected as I was.
She giggled, “Your fault. You could’ve just bit me… Heal me up so we can go walk it off.”
“I’m not admitting to that.”
She rolled her eyes and snorted, “Why I am not surprised?” and as I was healing her marking, annoyed that I’d bit over her hickey so it was fading, we were walked in on.
“This is a public restroom, therefore that was a public feeding. Am I going to have to call the Sheriff?”
If he was listening to know I’d just fed, why the fuck didn’t he try to prevent it?
I looked over my shoulder to see Sam Merlotte, in the flesh… the most threatening thing about him was the potentially seizure inducing pattern of his shirt.
Sookie was still pinned to the wall, thighs locked on my hips like a vice… making me realize she was comfortable enough in that position to not make separating a priority over her wound.
She smirked. “How about that? Speaking of a bucket of ice water.”
It was going to take more than that, but at least it was a well timed interruption.
“Ma’am, are you alright?”
“Yeah… my boyfriend and I just got a little carried away. We were just heading out.”
When I narrowed my eyes at her, she stuck her tongue out.
He snorted, “Boyfriend, huh? Well, your boyfriend just broke the law by feeding…”
Her eyes rolled and she finally moved to lower her legs. As she slipped her foot into her dropped shoe, she countered, “Public restrooms are only open to the public, yet not considered public while occupied. If they were, everyone who used one would face public defecation or urination charges as well as fines for indecent exposure…” She crossed her arms under her breasts and tilted her head to the side. “What else ya got?”
She’d claimed another victim. His jaw was slack.
I offered in German, “He isn’t intelligent or attractive. Huge cock?”
She covered her face and laughed silently into her hands… her entire body shook while she tried to calm down.
The Shifter was not amused.
“What’s so funny? What did he say?”
She wiped her eyes, careful of the makeup she didn’t need, and answered, “I’m sorry. He’s just so… His English is horrible. He thought you wanted to join us.”
If it wasn’t so hard to keep a straight face, I’d have called her answer perfect.
The color was already draining from his face when I blew a kiss at him.
Even better… he was completely frozen as Sookie took my hand and led me past him.
As Sookie sat on my lap, I heard a woman shriek, “Sam Merlotte! Get out of the ladies!”
He was still standing there?
I might have laughed if it weren’t for the fact that Gawain and Corbett were both glaring at Sookie and me.
Corbett grumbled, “Do you think, since you get to take her back to Eijsden with ya and all, you can share her now?”
Maybe with her father…
I pointed at Sookie. “Talk to her. It’s not as though I enjoy spending time in public restrooms.”
Sookie teased, “Ha ha. It didn’t work… He’s not as easy to mess with as Gawain… Think you can talk Dawn into firing up the juke box? I think it’s a safe bet these guys need a Cajun Jitterbug lesson.”
While Ema sipped from one beer, Hoyt, Sookie and her father seemed to be competing to find out who would fall over first.
Three shots of cheap whiskey and two beers each… Hoyt and Corbett were making fun of Sookie for the face she made at the taste of her beer when Sam Merlotte made his second appearance of the night.
He delivered a fresh pitcher of beer and then slammed four bottles of True Blood on the table.
Outing us? Really?
Corbett was more irritated than the actual Vampires. He snarled, “Do you care to explain your issue, Merlotte?”
“You know how I feel about Vampires, Stackhouse.”
Corbett nodded. “Yeah. You shit your pants a lil bit every time you see one… Pussy.”
“I’m gonna have to ask you to take your friends…”
“Go ‘head and ask. See how far that gets ya. Payin’ customers. Minding their own business. We ain’t causin’ no problems.”
“I got a problem with that one feeding from his bimbo-”
Before he could finish insulting Sookie, Corbett reached up to grab the front of Merlotte’s shirt and yank him down to his level.
“His bimbo is my baby girl. You’re treading on real thin ice right now. We ain’t give you no reason to hassle us. I think you’ve already been schooled on how I feel about your Vampire hatin’. This is just one o’them times when you roll over and play dead for your own good. Hear me boy?” His voice was like ice.
Sookie’s father had been cheerful since we’d first met him. His mood had only soured enough to edge the range of neutral while Ema’s ability was discussed. Even then I was sure the way I was speaking to his daughter was responsible for that, rightly so…
Seeing Corbett Stackhouse’s behavior when he was being challenged… his Faerie was showing.
Hoyt warned, “Sam, you’re gonna get your ass handed to ya again.”
Sam scowled at Sookie when she let out a slight snort, but his mood only seemed to deteriorate when Sookie’s snort morphed into a giggling fit… and she took Gawain with her. Whatever had crossed her mind was amusing enough to make him chuckle.
Corbett released Sam’s shirt with a push and snorted, “Yeah. I guess you just got a problem with happy customers, huh? Go’on… git.”
As Gawain continued to laugh quietly, I realized I was bitter. I couldn’t help it. Unless Hoyt left the table for some reason, I’d have to wait to be part of the joke. Even Richard grumbled that it wasn’t fair.
When the Shifter stormed away from the table, Sookie leaned over to put her head on table, continuing to laugh.
Gawain asked her to stop, but she held her finger up to signal that she needed a minute.
Corbett’s good mood seemed to return quickly enough for him to chuckle, “The first stage of drunk for Sookie brings out her inner comedian. Something funny’ll pop into her head and she gets to laughin’ too hard to share with the class…”
Hoyt snorted, “And the first stage of drunk for you is pit viper. Hand over your keys old man.”
Corbett stood up and tossed Sookie’s keys onto the table, but he argued, “I ain’t there yet. Sam caught me right as I needed to take a squirt. Be right back.”
As soon as Corbett left the table, Hoyt reached across Gawain to shake Sookie’s shoulder. “Alright, get your shit together… Share the joke.”
Sookie sat up and wiped her eyes and took a few deep breaths to try to calm down. I preferred it when she was still shaking.
She opened her mouth to begin explaining, but started giggling again. “I have these neighbors… One’s got a Doberman… the other has a little terrier…”
“One of those crickets on a leash?”
Sookie nodded. “Yeah, that kind… the owners always stop to talk to each other…” Her giggling flared up again, “The terrier barks and snarls… the Dobie just sits there and stares at him like he’s daring him to do something… When the owners…” She started hissing, forcing herself to talk while she was laughing. “When the owners walk away… as soon as the Dobie stands up… the terrier… he… a little fountain… piss everywhere…” She bent over the table again to slip into hysterics, but she finished in German, “And it’s even worse because Sam usually morphs into a dog.”
Until she left my lap saying, “God help me… I’ve gotta pee now too.”
Gawain snorted, “What did you say to him in the restroom?”
“Nothing. I blew a kiss at him though. When I said something to Sookie in German, she translated that I thought he wanted a threesome. He froze.”
Edward laughed, “So that begs the question… whether you or Corbett are his Doberman.”
Hoyt shrugged and leaned back in his seat. “Probably both. Laf says he’s straight, but I swear… he pays too damn much attention to Corbett for me to buy it.”
That would be the allure of the Fae… Positive or negative, their presence demanded attention.
Hoyt continued, “Sam overheard Catfish trying to get dirt on Corbett’s lady-friend Selma and went off about Vampire bullshit this and Vampire bullshit that… Got his ass whoooooped. The first time Corbett came in for dinner with Ema, he was introducing her around and Sam interrupted him to tell him to keep his ‘baby banging’ private and to keep his hands to himself while they’re here. Between his crush on Corbett and his hate for Vampires… Booooom. Not a good combination.”
Richard snorted, “He probably just needs a proper ride. I doubt he could find anyone to fuck him with those social skills.”
Edward offered, “Sookie would have stabbed him by now, she would.”
Hoyt laughed that Edward seemed to know Sookie well, but Gawain and I had been distracted.
I focused on the hallway leading towards the restrooms when I felt Sookie startle. I was sure Gawain had been monitoring her, if not communicating with her telepathically…
The crowd of drunk rednecks next to the pool table wasn’t making my eavesdropping easy.
Merlotte warned her that the first time her Vampire pals stepped out of line, he’d call Beaumont.
She snapped, “Do you think everyone is an idiot? You don’t have a direct line to Isabel. Long Tooth does and I seriously doubt you’re a member since you don’t know how to play nice.”
He asked, “If you’re so smart, why don’t you know better than to fool around with Vampires?”
She answered, “My choices are a table full of friends or a hallway full of bullshit… Fuck off, Shifter.”
It was too easy to visualize the look on her face and the way she was likely to brush past him…
But I didn’t need to use my imagination to feel the pain in her arm.
That prick grabbed her.
I hadn’t spent an entire second speeding towards her…
But by the time I reached her, she was smirking, looking down at Merlotte while he writhed on the floor with his hands clutched to his groin.
She offered a full smile and nodded. “Yeah, thanks for checking on me though…”
I kicked him out of my path on my way to look Sookie over… He’d grabbed her tightly enough to leave his handprint.
“There will be a bruise.”
“I’m fine. I doubt it will last long. You know I’m not fragile…” She pulled her arm away from me and walked over to squat next to the Shifter. She warned, “Vampires are dangerous, Sam… You’d get a cookie for figuring that out, but you failed to learn from what happened the last time you crossed a Stackhouse. My Daddy’s already stomped your ass for being hateful about Vampires. My step-father’s a Were. And my ‘bloodsucking boy-band’ friends are pretty damn protective of me too. Now, if you know what’s good for you, you’re going to act like you’ve got some sense and lay low for the rest of the night. If I’ve learned anything from my Vampire friends, it’s how to shove a person’s nose into their brain and stage a car crash. Got it?”
I thought for a moment that Selma had earned a cookie, but then I realized Sookie could have learned that trick from Tyson… or Markos…
The Shifter grunted while he tried to push himself from the floor. “I’ll still be better off than you… I’d rather die instantly than be drained slowly.”
He was just putting his feet under himself when Sookie replied, “Who says I was talking about you? Your family’s a bunch of sitting ducks in a tiny town like Wright. Bernadette, Mindy, Craig…”
She was threatening his family… and the look it left on his face was spectacular.
She reached for my hand and shoved him over again as she led me out… but we couldn’t leave. Gawain, Edward, Richard and Corbett were completely blocking the doorway. One at a time, they retracted their fangs and slowly drifted towards the dining room, disappointed they wouldn’t get to play.
Another pitcher of beer and another round of whiskey shots came and went without a trace of the Shifter.
Corbett paired up with Lafayette and loaned Dawn to Gawain for our ‘redneck dance lesson’… Hoyt had found a dancing partner for Richard and himself, joking that he’d show us how not to dance, and that having two left feet was why Sookie broke his heart.
It was close enough to closing time that we were the last of our waitress’s customers, so when her husband arrived to wait for her shift to be over, he pulled her onto the dance floor…
At least our lesson wasn’t the center of attention since there were others dancing.
The actual lesson, the bones of the dance as Sookie called it, was simple enough. Easily remembered and not too unlike several standards I’d learned over the years…
The devil was in the details.
The first song was instructional.
The second was a completely different form of entertainment.
Once Sookie relaxed from teaching, and began adding her own flare I was all but hypnotized… the way her hips moved during the ‘trunk twist’ was mostly to blame.
I only looked away long enough to notice that Gawain was watching Sookie move instead of focusing on his own partner… I only begrudged him for it until the next song started and we switched partners. I chose to watch Sookie as well.
Four dances with Sookie…
She put more energy into each one as we went. Moving fluidly, adding more of her own style…
Remembering that she’d said her first date with Allecks had been a blind date to a charity function they left early in favor of clubbing…
Seeing exactly why Allecks would have preferred a hotel maid to an inheritance.
And planning to shop for zydeco music as soon as possible… just in case.
I actually clenched my teeth when we returned to the table, annoyed that there had only been five songs on the jukebox that were suitable for the style of dancing we were being taught.
But disappointment didn’t last long… Sookie crashed onto my lap and sagged her body back against mine. Her heart was pounding, her breaths were shallow, and her sweat smelled phenomenal.
She laughed, “I’m such a mom… I’ve gotten out of practice enough to forget to pace myself. Dance first, then drink.” as our waitress arrived to began loading empty glasses onto a tray.
Once Arlene warned everyone that it was ‘last call’ Corbett ordered another round, but Sookie and Ema asked for Cherry Cokes because they were cutting themselves off. Ema hadn’t finished her only beer.
Sookie was still panting… everyone was still curious if Merlotte would make an encore appearance while they waited for their drinks when Corbett noticed a customer arrive.
He growled, “Fuck a duck. Ricky’s here.”
Sookie sat up and looked over our shoulders to wave. “Don’t be a turd, Daddy… Hey Ricky!”
When I looked at Ricky, there was something insanely familiar about him and it wasn’t that he was wearing the Bon Temps standard of jeans and a T-shirt. Average height and build and curly hair.
He smiled and pulled a chair over to sit between Corbett and Richard. Corbett and Hoyt had been more comfortable dancing with a gay man and drinking with Vampires.
“Hey hey folks. How’s my baby-mama?”
Sookie tilted her head from side to side. “Pleasantly buzzed right now. Calvin stole the kids from me as soon as we got to town. I was going to call you in the morning to let you know we’re visiting… Everyone, this is Ricky Mason, Misty’s father.”
That explained why he looked so familiar… and Corbett’s happiness to see him.
Edward and Richard’s fangs snapped into place, inspiring Sookie to hurriedly explain, “He’s never hurt a curl on her head. It was Hadley’s other whatevers who hurt the girls. Calm down… Sorry Ricky, they’re pretty fond of Misty. They know she’s had it rough, but they don’t know a lot of details.”
The boys retracted their fangs and relaxed their posture while Ricky smiled at them. “It’s all good. It’s nice to see someone willing to stick up for her… She’s awesome… and smart enough to not think much of her old man. That’s why I call Sookie my baby-mama… on account of she’s the only one who’s ever taken care of Mimi…”
Sookie giggled, “She hates it when you call her that.”
“Jenn started it… So this is nice. Hadley said y’all would be pissed, but here y’all are celebratin’. Tell her I said ‘told ya so’ when y’all visit.”
There was a long awkward silence while Sookie and Corbett stared at one another.
Sookie finally shook her head. “Why would we visit her in Chicago?”
“She’s been back from Chicago for a few months. Broke up with her… awwwww shit…”
Sookie interrupted, breathing nothing more than ‘no’ and the fun and playful mood I’d been enjoying fell into a numbness I was all too familiar with, yet gave me no hints.
Ricky continued, “Hadley came home… She’s been up in Vivian with Tino for a while now.”
“And I’m guessing she called you for the usual reasons?”
“A fix, yeah… but she was pissed.” He gave a nervous look to Edward and continued, “She started playing outta my league. I don’t touch the kind of stuff she was looking for. I keep myself in enough trouble with herb and pills.”
Corbett growled, “She’s with Tino again?”
Ricky shrugged. “Stayin’ with him, but I don’t think they’re together. She called me cuz she needed some stuff and couldn’t get ahold of him. Felt sorry for her.”
Sookie sighed, “Do I want to know what kind of stuff she needed?”
“Toothbrush and socks, but it was just an excuse for some company. We talked about Mimi the whole time I was there…”
Corbett clarified, “At their place? You know where Tino’s staying?”
Ricky gave him a confused look for a moment before answering, “I know where they’re staying, yeah, but… When me and Hadley was hanging out, it was at the hospital.”
I watched goosebumps spread up Sookie’s spine.
Ricky nodded. “Yeah… The baby was early, but they’re both fine.”