In For A Surprise
Sookie’s reaction was puzzling to say the least, but rather than answer when I asked what she meant by ‘amazing’, she shook her head and started walking towards the bar.
She laced her fingers into mine casually, oddly avoiding eye contact for the first time, and as we stepped into the wretched, deep fried dive, her grip tightened.
As quickly as she reacted, she calmed again, pointing towards a small open room in the back. Her friend was standing with other teens next the pool table ordering from a chunky waitress with long, unnaturally platinum hair.
Sookie shrugged and looked up at me. “We should go place our orders.”
“Right. Obligatory chicken fingers, yes?”
She giggled and led the way. “Don’t order them like that unless you want to define obligatory.”
“Tell me you’re joking.”
She sighed, “Not this time.”
I couldn’t resist. I waited for Tara’s friends, then for Sookie to order a cherry Coke with extra ice because ‘they have good ice’… then I ordered ‘obligatory chicken fingers’.
The waitress snorted, “It’s a five-piece, Mister. If you want a bigger order than that, you’re gonna need to order two baskets.”
I was already biting my tongue when Sookie’s forehead crashed into my arm. She snickered, “A five-piece is fine, Arlene. Thanks.” Once the waitress left, Sookie offered, “The best part is that’s baby weight. She’s got 2 kids to not read to… Alright guys, this is Erik…” She pointed, beginning with Tara. “Tara, JB, and Amy.”
Directly after Sookie was done with introductions, someone in the dining room whispered, “Crazy Sookie Stackhouse has a date, y’all. Check it out.” The remark was answered with, “Fuckin’ hell. Dude’s huge. He her date or her bodyguard?” Followed by, “Like it matters. Uppity bitch.” Then another, “Might be worth all that craziness if she was a slut like the rest of her kin.” The last one, “She’s too hot to bag her head. That one needs a gag. Just bend her over and…”
I turned my head enough to draw their attention and stare them down, letting them know I could hear the little fuckers. There were four of them in a booth. All of them were Sookie’s age and mortified they’d been heard.
“Teams?” I had no clue what I’d missed while I was distracted. Teams of what?
Sookie stared up at me expectantly. “Erik?”
“What are we discussing?”
“Me and you against Tara and JB. Pool.”
“I’m not sure… How good are you?”
Tara laughed, “She sucks, but so do the rest of us,” as she placed the balls in the rack.
Trying to ignore the teen fuckery I’d just heard, I shook my head and joked, “Your problem with math again?”
She squeezed my hand as she giggled, “I’ve only ever played twice. You can’t hold that against me… How much have you played?”
JB thrust a cue in my direction. “Good. You break. We suck at that too.”
“Do we shoot until we miss?”
“Does each player shoot until they miss and when the table is turned over, the other teammate takes that turn?”
“No. You shoot, then Sookie shoots… back and forth like that.”
Sookie asked, “Can I forfeit some turns to him? I wasn’t thinking about bending over when I…” That skirt.
JB shook his head. “You live, you learn, Sook. Next time, you’ll wear panties.”
She gasped and slapped his chest. “I’m wearing panties, you ass! I just didn’t want everyone to know what they look like!”
He snorted, “Then next time, don’t wear any.” That would be my vote.
She growled, “That’s not what I… Nevermind.”
I chuckled as I lined up the cue ball and when I broke, I sunk 5 balls including the 8-ball.
Tara blurted, “AH HA! WE WIN!”
“No, you lost. Sinking the 8-ball on the break is an automatic win unless you scratch.”
“Bullshit! Sam! We need a ruling!” Already?
Sookie called her a sore loser and began racking the balls again while we waited for whoever the fuck Sam was.
In the meantime, I showed Sookie how to load a rack correctly, putting the 1-ball in the front of the triangle, the 8-ball in the middle (since her friend put it on the back row), alternating stripes and solids… JB, Tara and Amy argued about whether ‘the blond team’ won amongst themselves.
A man finally joined us with a beer he barely looked old enough to have, asking, “Damn Tara, what are you hollerin’ ‘bout?”
She hopped from her seat to shout, “Jason! Say someone sinks the 8-ball on the break…”
He snorted, “How much did you lose?” I assumed he was just another schoolmate until he kissed Sookie’s cheek. The others hadn’t as much as touched her.
“I’m just asking.”
He nodded and drawled, “Alright… then someone won the fucking game on the quick. Happy now?”
“Win? Not lose?”
He spun the cue ball on the table and cooed, “Did the pretty little white ball go in too?”
Sookie opened her mouth as though she was going to introduce me to Jason, but Tara interrupted by growling, “Noooo.”
“Sinking the 8-ball on the break is an automatic win unless you scratch.”
“That’s exactly what Erik said…” Word for word.
“Erik… would be right… trust me, I know my pool.”
Sookie made another attempt, but was interrupted by Tara again. “You’re a bonehead, Jason.”
“Fuck you very much…” He shouted over his shoulder, “MERLOTTE! COME SETTLE A DISPUTE!” and turned back to Sookie. “So you’re out of the house, in public. What’s up? House burn down? Gran and Aunt Linda aren’t even here.”
Even though he seemed to be joking, she punched his side. “I leave the house all the time…” She finally seemed to be at her wits end. Trying to offer an introduction wasn’t going to happen in the chaos. She sighed, “Erik, that’s my big brother, Jason.”
Jason bobbed his head back and forth and he countered, “Work, school, work, school… You don’t even have a book in your hand. You feeling alright?”
When she tried to hit him again, he grabbed her. He had one arm wrapped around her throat and the other was pinning her arms to her sides… and he managed to do it without spilling a drop of his beer.
Yet another man joined us in the alcove, looking Sookie over appreciatively and grumbling, “Stackhouse, I’m gonna have to ask you to leave if you…” The man in a Merlotte’s T-shirt trailed off when he spotted me.
Fuck. It only took a moment for his scent to reach me over the stench of fried food and beer, but… Fuck.
A fucking Shifter.
A fucking Shifter who knew the Stackhouses.
Jason finally let go of Sookie when she stomped on his foot. She straightened her top and giggled, “Hey, Mr. Merlotte. Sorry ‘bout that. We were just wondering if sinking the 8-ball on the break is a win or a loss.”
He never took his eyes off of me as he muttered, “Win… unless the cue ball sinks too.”
Tara blurted, “FUCK!” as I handed the cue to JB.
In the interest of getting him to leave, I offered, “Thank you. That was all we needed. We’ll whistle if we have anymore trouble.”
He rattled his head from side to side and asked, “Who’s your friend, Jason?”
Jason shrugged, “Ain’t been introduced yet… since he can sink an 8-ball on the break, he’s my new doubles partner though.” Cute.
Sookie stared at Merlotte for a moment before squeezing her eyes closed so Tara answered, “That’s Erik. He’s Sookie’s date… and a pool shark.”
I nodded. “Erik Nordmann.” I was hoping he’d recognize my name and know better than to interfere. It wouldn’t end well for him.
“What brought you all the way out to Bon Temps?”
Jason chuckled and slapped Merlotte’s shoulder. “Thanks for the ref job, Sam. We got this… Hey Erik, next?”
I nodded. “Since you seem to know the rules, sure.”
Tara snorted and shoved JB’s shoulder towards the table.
Sookie was startled by the crack caused by the break and opened her eyes to watch the balls scatter over the table.
They went everywhere but in the pockets, making it Sookie’s turn.
She took the easiest of all the available shots, sinking the 7 ball and handing her cue to me…
After I sank the 2 and 6-balls, I returned the cue to Sookie and noticed Merlotte was still staring at me.
I was bored with him from the moment I smelled him. He could very easily be the only thing to prevent me from keeping Sookie as a pet. “Is there something I can help you with, Merlotte?”
“Aren’t you a little old to be dating Sookie?” Oh really? That was how he wanted to play his hand?
“Perhaps… the gap closes in when you count in dog-years though. Don’t you have a business to run?” He was in the same paradox as I was. Exposure. Shifters weren’t even discussing the notion of revealing themselves and Vampires were still squabbling about the details. If he tried to expose me, I’d have a bar full of drunk rednecks to try to glamour and he’d pay dearly for that mistake.
“Have you bothered introducing yourself to Mrs. Stackhouse?”
“Met her tonight actually.”
“She invited you into her house!?” That prick had no idea how close he was to being put down.
Glaring at him didn’t seem to discourage his fuckery either. “Do you take such a vested interest in all of your customers or just the teenagers you eye like you’re in heat?”
Jason snorted, “No shit… You’re starting to creep me out, Sam.”
Merlotte defended, “ME? You don’t have a problem with their age difference?” Sookie’s lip curled… I wasn’t the only one to notice he hadn’t denied my insinuation.
I walked towards him slowly. “You’re interrupting our night out… Shoo.”
He tried to stand his ground even though he was terrified. “You aren’t funny.”
“I’m not trying to be… Are you planning…?”
Jason blurted, “Damn Sam! I don’t know about him, but I’m close to clocking you. Go pour beer or some shit. We’ll mind our business. You mind yours…” Jason actually grabbed Merlotte’s shoulders and turned him around, walking him out to the main floor of the bar. When he returned alone, he shook his head and grumbled, “Sook, you need to find somewhere else to hang out if he’s gonna be actin’ like a jealous Ex…”
Sookie shook her head and offered, “No shit, Sherlock. That was probably the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen…”
Tara added, “And he’s got to be older than Erik! What’s he, like 30? What the fuck?” Nevermind how long I’d been 24 and holding…
Jason offered, “Why don’t we go out to my house? Get the fuck out of here before…”
I shook my head. “If we leave now, he’ll think he scared me off. I’m staying.”
Sookie nodded. “Me too, but I’m not coming back. That crap was ridiculous… I mean… I’ve only been here twice. He’s got no cause to act like that. He’s not even ‘looking out for a regular’.”
Jason shook his head and huffed, “Take your shot then.”
For the next hour we ‘hung out’.
Jason proved he did, in fact, know his pool. It was ironic that the one who’s grammar I wanted to correct every time he opened his fucking mouth, was the only one in the group who knew what the fuck High English was and how to make it happen… even if he did take several turns with one of my unwanted chicken fingers hanging out of his mouth, it was the closest game I played all night.
JB seemed to be held up by the hot air in his head. Polite. Friendly. Turnip. And as it turned out, JB and Sookie had dated. As articulate as she was, that would give me something to ponder for a while.
Tara spent most of her time watching the front door for the object of her obsession who never arrived, but at least she was preoccupied enough to not show her ass the whole time.
Over the course of Jason’s visit, he asked Sookie how she was ‘holding up’ several times. Eventually she began hitting him for asking, telling him ‘fine’ each time.
And I was no closer to identifying Sookie’s scent than before… I was only more confused once I realized Jason carried the same fragrance under his cheap aftershave and beer.
And Amy spent her time eye-fucking Jason Stackhouse until they left together at 11:30. Granted, the good natured conversation led me to believe they had a past, but it still made me wonder about the Stackhouse-slut comment I’d overheard.
The dining room was full of recent graduates and their parents bragging or whining about their graduation presents or new jobs.
All the while, we’d been under the Shifter’s watchful eye. He’d started bussing tables to have the excuse to observe what was happening around the pool table whenever possible. I suppose it was his idea of inconspicuous.
With ten minutes left before midnight, we started one last game.
When Sookie’s turn came to her, she tried to line up an advanced shot. She’d been doing well given her experience, but she seemed to be trying to bank the cue ball across the entire length of the table when there was a much easier play available.
“Sookie, what are you doing?”
She bit her lip, cringing as she looked up at me. “I… I’m not even going to try the purple ball. I don’t want my butt hanging out.”
While JB laughed at her, I snorted, “I can either help you try to make that shot, or stand behind you so your ass isn’t exposed to the drunks of Bon Temps while you sink the 4-ball.”
“Ummmm… help me with this one?”
“You don’t seem sure.”
“Well, either way, my butt is covered… I guess… I’d rather get a lesson since I’m pretty sure I can get the purple one in.” Pragmatism too?
Far be it from me to complain because Sookie opted for more contact.
When I reached her end of the table, she was still bent over the table, waiting… for me, my help… like it mattered which.
Even with the lift from her heel, Sookie’s body was resting on the table… blue lace panties.
I couldn’t help myself. “What’s wrong with those panties?”
She stood up so quickly her back slammed against my chest. She tugged her skirt down and called me a pervert.
I chuckled and took her hands, guiding them to the correct places on the cue for the first time all night.
As I leaned over, I realized the heel on her sandals were the perfect height…
Since she was crowding herself, I had the excuse to put my arm around her and pull her back…
Her shot was lined up, but more importantly, Sookie was pinned between me and the table, her addictive scent practically reached for me…
It was all but ruined.
The pricks in the dining room who’d been slandering her earlier noticed us when they were on their way to the door.
One of them said, “Holy shit dude, Sybil’s letting him touch her.”
His friend called over, “Hey pal, I hope you have something lined up for later. You aren’t getting anything from Crazy Sookie but blue balls. You can get Hadley’s number off the bathroom wall though. That one’s a sure thing.”
I was already growling when Sookie moved her hands to hold mine to the cue. She snarled, “Your mother’s sleeping with your father’s sister. Why don’t you spend less time thinking about who’s touching me, Danny.”
I’m not sure Danny noticed I was laughing because all of his friends were.
“You psycho cunt!”
“You forgot to call me a goody-two-shoes that time. Don’t think I haven’t heard you running your mouth.” He took a step into the alcove while Sookie calmly took her shot and made it.
“What of it? I don’t care what you think about me!”
Even though she seemed calm as she stood up to approach Danny, JB tried to stop her, claiming he was wearing one of his ‘good shirts’ and his mother would kill him if he ruined it backing her up.
She shook her head and patted his hip as she stepped around him. She didn’t stop until she was toe to toe with Danny. He wasn’t an especially large boy, but she looked tiny in front of him.
“Maybe if you learn how to kiss, you won’t be an angry virgin until you die.”
“I’M NOT A…”
“Yes, you are. Your breath is horrible and you drool. Kissing you is like drowning in raw sewage. You can’t get past first base because of it and then you call anyone who makes out with you a ho. It’s pretty bad when the town slut won’t even give you a ride… Leave. Me. Alone.”
He opened his mouth to defend himself, but Sookie’s hand shot up between them so quickly I think I was the only one to notice before she slammed his mouth shut for him.
Danny staggered back and the only thing to keep him from falling was bumping into one of his friends.
Sookie stayed with him, punching his stomach and shouting, “Why don’t you leave us girls alone!? You know FOR A FACT sheep don’t mind your breath!”
Tara and JB (and a few others) cheered and clapped, only riling Sookie.
“Go home, Danny. Go home and snuggle up with the wubby your GamGam made you. Get a good night’s sleep while everyone else goes home and calls their friends to gossip about how you got a puttin’ from ‘Crazy Sookie’ in front of God and everyone!”
He hadn’t learned anything. He stepped closer to her, leaning to put his face closer to hers and hissed, “All you’re doing is proving how crazy you are, you bitch!”
“Everyone already thinks I’m crazy, so all you just did was confirm all the rumors about you being true, DUMBASS!” When she shouted ‘dumbass’, she punched him in his throat and took her first step back since the altercation started, but it was only to get out of the way as he crashed to the floor.
So feisty… It made me question whether I wanted to keep her as a pet or bring her over.
I was laughing with the rest of Merlotte’s customers when I scooped her up, clenched fists and all, and carried her outside. “Do people think you’re crazy because you’re prone to assaulting individuals twice your size?”
She giggled until we were nearly halfway to the van. “Don’t worry. You’re safe since you’re three times my size… Sorry about that.”
“Don’t be. I thought I was going to be bored all night.”
“You gonna put me down?”
I shook my head. “I will when we get to the van.” I was taking my time so I could inhale as much of her as possible. Having her in my arms, I could hardly notice the deep fried stench of the bar.
“You gonna tell me what that crap was between you and Mr. Merlotte?”
“I asked why people call you crazy first.”
She folded her arms over her stomach, shrugging as much as my hold would allow. “Fair enough.”
“You aren’t going to tell me why you’re known as ‘Crazy Sookie’?”
“Nope. It doesn’t have anything to do with you. Nothing.” She’d said it so whimsically I couldn’t help but be more curious.
Just before we reached the van, Tara and JB yelled to Sookie they’d see her later and then quietly discussed that Sookie was ‘letting’ me touch her.
I set her on her feet and unlocked her door. As she bounced into her seat, I asked, “Do you have a phobia about being touched or being in crowded places? It was mentioned a few times and you seemed to brace yourself before we went inside.”
“Chiraptophobia and demophobia? No. Not really… I guess you could say I usually prefer being alone… Would you call a preference for peace and quiet an aversion to social activity?” There wasn’t anything rhetorical about her question.
“I don’t suppose I would.”
“I just prefer small doses and, truth be told, I’d rather spend time with Gran and her DGD friends than hear about how my friends will ‘just die’ if they don’t get a new pair of Diesels for their birthday.”
“Before I agree with that, what is DGD?”
“Descendents of the Glorious Dead. Gran’s a history junkie…”
“Hence her loss for words earlier.”
She snickered, “Bon Temps lost most of its guys from 1861 to 1866, so there’s actually a club that gets together to discuss it, plan trips to battlefields, organize learning booths for fairs and whatnot.”
“I would assume the American Revolution would be more significant.”
“Not here it wasn’t. Bon Temps was crippled economically. There were only a few families who could afford any kind of labor, let alone slaves. When the men left there weren’t many guys left to work farms. The Red River Campaign put most of the male population of Bon Temps in the cemetery next to my house… and more than a few of the women left behind worked themselves to death. Bon Temps wasn’t settled until 1747… the town was lucky to hear about the Revolution before it was over.” Since I had my own problems while the American South was bickering over manual labor and couldn’t have cared less about their Civil War, all I could think was the MTV generation had a black sheep.
I nodded. “Do you ever act like a normal teenager?”
She shook her head slowly. “Close to never. I read instead of watch movies. I go to the library or museums instead of the mall. When I go shopping, it’s for groceries…”
“And you spend most of your free time with your grandmother and aunt, yes?”
She nodded. “Yeah. I spend all of my time with old people…” If she had any idea. “I think it’s your turn to talk about you. What do you do when you aren’t reliving your high school days?”
“I was… homeschooled, so I’m not exactly reliving anything. I have a security company and a nightclub in Shreveport.” Among other things.
“Really, which club? I think Jason’s been to all of them since he turned 21.”
Her eyes rolled up to study the ceiling of the van for a moment before she giggled, “You don’t have Bud Light on tap and the DJ played nothing but hip hop.”
I nodded. “That’s it.”
“You should have an 18-and-over night so I can go.”
“Would I need extra bouncers?”
She giggled, “I doubt I’d get followed all the way to Shreveport.”
“I’ll see what I can arrange then.”
She grinned from ear to ear. “Sounds awesome… Are you going to get in or are you just going to stand next to the van all night?”
“I’m fine where I am.” I was having too much fun. Given how rare that happened, I wasn’t willing to take her home yet.
She giggled, “I’m enjoying myself too, but Gran knows we get booted at midnight. She’ll be watching the clock.”
“She’ll still be awake?” Fuck.
“She’s a night-owl anyway, but she always waits up for me.”
“Is that loving or domineering behavior?”
“That’s a phobia… My parents died in a car accident 5 miles from home. She worries.” I shouldn’t have asked… not taking her home would make me look like I was trying to be a bigger asshole than usual.
“How old were you?”
She smirked and offered, “I’ll tell you when the van’s in gear, Mr. Stall Tactic.”
Eight. Sookie was 8 years old when her parents died… a flash flood washed out the tiny bridge they were crossing. Adele Stackhouse had only just retired, supporting herself with her social security benefits when she took in her orphaned grandchildren. She soon began working as a housekeeper for ‘old Mrs. Bellefleur’… she further supplemented her income by baking, tailoring, and joining her daughter, Linda, in her ventures at craft fairs. They made everything from candles to preserves. The flea market Sookie planned to take Adele to in the morning was in Clarice. They’d be shopping for old clothing that would be ‘autopsied’ and used for doll clothing and quilting, containers and molds for candle making, and any other trash they could turn into a treasure.
Sookie described her family as ‘simple country folk’ who did what they could to get by. There wasn’t money for tuition, but she didn’t mind staying home instead of going to university because she and Adele were ‘just fine’.
In the short drive back to Sookie’s house, I learned enough about Sookie Blanchard (her mother’s maiden name) Stackhouse to write a short biography and it actually bothered me that I couldn’t reciprocate. There wasn’t much about my ‘life’ I could share with her.
By the time I turned onto her driveway, my plans changed. Pets weren’t something I kept, maybe only a handful in centuries (even then, only for feeding), but I was settling into the ridiculous notion of having an unglamoured pet. There hadn’t been one that I knew of to ridicule their Masters for in decades… phones and radios made damage control nearly impossible.
I enjoyed her company enough to loathe the idea of watching her mind become useless from superfluous glamouring.
I’d only glamour her sparingly… as needed, if something happened she shouldn’t have seen… I’d been pretending to be human for so long, I had the practice needed to pull it off.
Pam would tease and taunt… because even if I refused to answer her prying questions, she’d figure things out and have Sookie investigated.
Given Sookie’s age, I’d hear jokes about ‘babysitting’ whenever I visited.
Given the Stackhouse’s humble home, I’d get emails about available trailer rentals…
Pam was nothing if not predictable, but I couldn’t find it in myself to care. It wasn’t often I was entertained and I wasn’t going to let mocking from someone with several pets spoil that.
By the time I reached her side of the van, Sookie had already slid from her seat and closed her door.
“Aren’t you supposed to wait for me to open it?”
“Am I? Sorry. Maybe there’s a rule book mixed in with all the others. I’ll let you know if I get a ruling.”
“Should we call Merlotte for the ruling?”
“Nah… call Jason. He’s the dating expert… Are you going to tell me anything about you?”
“Psssh. Please… I just rattled on about arts and crafts. You have a nightclub. You have a sister. You were homeschooled. You’ve played a lot of pool… How about… what part of Sweden are you from? What does your father do?” Simple enough.
“A small village in Uppsala… My father was what would equate to a mayor.”
“Uppsala? Like, Gamla Uppsala? You’re kidding! Wait… Is this like someone hearing I’m from Louisiana and assuming I’ve been to a Marde Gras?”
“What are you assuming?”
“You grew up in the town… Thing of All Swedes… the town with the Royal Mounds. Have you seen them?” Seen them? I was punished once for sledding down one.
I nodded, crediting her grandmother for being a ‘history junkie’.
“When Gran finds out you and Odin go to the same freakin’ Founders’ Day parade, she’s gonna lose her everlovin’ mind.” I was too close to laughing.
“It’s not like I’ve met him.”
She wobbled her head from side to side and jokingly mocked me, “It’s not like I’ve met him… Erik, it’s not like we get out much… and your grandmother totally gets to be superstitious. Gamla Uppsala… Gran’s gonna compare it to Mount Olympus.” She narrowed her eyes and grumbled, “Don’t look at me like that. I told you she’s a history dork.”
She blushed, hiding her face in her hands for a moment before looking up again. “Okay… maybe she rubbed off on me.”
“Is that the best I’ll get?”
“Yup… how long can you hold your breath?”
“For a while. Why?”
“Curtis, when you go in tomorrow night. He’s got this ferret…”
“Thank you for the warning.”
“And you need your own locks unless you want to pay ten bucks a pop for the ones we sell…”
“Noted… I know you’ll be busy tomorrow morning… but I’ll be in Bon Temps tomorrow night… will you be home?”
“With a mother lode like the one you gave us? Hell yeah I’ll be home… I’ve got reading to do.”
“Do you mind if I come over for a visit?”
“You’re going to feel up to visiting after relocating 5 storage units full of stuff?”
“I’ve already stolen her wardrobes. When she ri- wakes up tomorrow, she’ll have a message waiting from Uncle Bob’s Self Storage in Shreveport, asking her to complete a satisfaction survey now that she’s no longer renting from them. While she’s searching, I’ll take every stitch of clothing out of her house and bring it to Belanger’s.”
She giggled, “You’re a sneaky bastard.”
“Thank you… I have plenty of practice. Pam and I have been playing practical jokes on one another for what seems like forever.”
“Sounds like it… I think the most advanced I ever got was buying a pack of underwear for Jason. I took the elastic waistband off and sewed it back on backwards and mixed them in with his others…” I was already laughing when she said, “He still won’t wear Hanes brand. Says they don’t have any quality control.”
“That’s fabulous. You never told him?”
She shook her head. “What would the fun be in that? I also keep a little shaker of glitter in my pocket when he’s over for dinner and I dust his head with it. Wanna know how many times he’s gone to work like that? When I go to his house I put pennies in his socks, just one in each, because he’s been leaving them laying around since he was little… One day, I can’t even remember what we were talking about, but someone said something about ‘the mysteries of the universe’… Jason was all, ‘Like how spare change gets from your pockets to your socks in the wash’.”
If I hadn’t been biting my lip, I would have been laughing too hard to let her finish. “It’s a shame I can’t use the same tactics on Pam. She wears glitter intentionally and she wears socks so rarely she considers them disposable… We should compare notes though.”
She nodded and looked towards the house for a moment. “So… are you going to try to kiss me or what? Gran’s still up so…”
“How do you know that? She could have dozed off with a book.”
She balked, but it was brief. “Old house. I can hear her trying to move stuff around.” That was blatant. Since we were still in the yard, I’d barely heard the gentle bumping sounds of books being stacked.
“Or you’re trying to skirt around an awkward moment of hesitation by rushing through it.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Maybe a little of that… Well?”
“You asked if I was going to try. Does that mean you’d reject a kiss?”
“So a kiss is guaranteed, yes?”
She narrowed her eyes and hesitantly said, “I suppose.”
“Can I trade said kiss for another view of your panties?”
She gasped and tried to slap my arm, but I caught her hand and pulled her body against mine.
“I’ll take that as a ‘no’.” She wasn’t resisting.
She bit her lip and shook her head. “You planned that.” Absofuckinglutely.
“I’m a sneaky bastard, remember?”
She rolled her eyes and huffed, “God help me,” before she lifted her chin.
As her lips met mine, I had to remind myself to control my fangs… and breathe…
Breathing was the easy part.
She tasted like she smelled…
And every fucking time her tongue grazed my teeth, I considered giving in…
But once would snowball…
She panted, whimpering as I backed her up, pinning her against the side of the van…
Sliding my hands down to her legs to lift her…
So fucking close to failing, feeling her pulse throb against me…
Forcing myself to breathe only added to my torment… her smell was sweeter every time I inhaled…
Pulling away when she ran out of air would have been the best move she made if she hadn’t laid her head back and exposed her neck…
I was fucking shaking to keep my control.
She growled breathlessly at the sky, “You have a wife and 10 little Eriks running around at home. You skin small animals alive. You poison orphans. You sneak up on blind people and…”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” If I wasn’t so close to bloodlust, I would have laughed.
She lowered her face to look at me and whimpered. “The packaging is perfect. Books, sense of humor, employed… Where’s the catch?”
“I’m a Vampire.” I hadn’t slipped. I was on the edge and if she believed me, I would’ve used it as my excuse to feed… I would have needed to glamour her anyway.
She huffed, “Right… like working nights and sleeping during the day is going to make me want a refund. Seriously…” Of all the times for her to be smart. She thought I meant I was simply nocturnal.
“If that doesn’t bother you, I don’t know what will. You’ll have to look for something while I stalk you.”
She sighed, nodding slowly… I was not ready to let go of her when she tried to move her legs to put her feet back under her. “Stalking me… That starts tomorrow night, right?” Stalking her had started when I first smelled her.
I nodded, watching her straighten her skirt. “I’ll be here.”
She studied the ground for a moment before stretching up to peck my cheek on her way to the door.
The crowd at Merlotte’s was much lighter than it had been earlier. The only ones left were practically pickled.
Merlotte froze as soon as I opened the door. He wasn’t giving me a single hint he was surprised to see me return… but he was still alarmed.
I sat at the bar, directly across from him… staring until he couldn’t stand it anymore.
He blurted, “What do you want?”
“Simply, Sookie Stackhouse is Mine.”
“Yeah. That was kind of obvious earlier… does she know what you are?”
“I’ve told her what I am… You’re going to avoid her. Your little display earlier actually scared her.”
“I scared her? She belongs to you and I scared her?”
“We had a lengthy discussion about stalkers tonight.”
The man on the barstool next to me shook his head and slurred, “Stalkers? Who’s bein’ stalked?”
“Sam Merlotte hasn’t been given any reason to believe Sookie Stackhouse considers him to be more than ‘the guy who just opened a bar’. Earlier tonight, her brother had to discourage him from acting as though she was being unfaithful to him by being on a date with me. It was quite upsetting… Who are you?”
“Um Deputy Andy Bellefleur… Sookie Stackhouse? There was witnesses?”
I nodded. “A few of Sookie and Jason’s friends were with us playing pool. Given how young Sookie seems, I have to wonder if Bon Temps’s newest resident might have eccentric tastes.”
He scowled and directed his answer to the Shifter. “You mean like young girls?”
“Sookie made a fine point earlier. Why would a guy leave his military service and move to a tiny town no one’s ever heard of to open…”
The drunkard finished for me, “And open a place in a town with nothin’ for teenagers to do… That’s just wrong Merlotte!” That had been too easy.
I shrugged passively and winked at the Shifter. “I would suggest looking into his background, but… I don’t think guys like that ever leave much of a trail.”
The deputy shot from his stool and almost fell over. “No! They never leave a trail ‘cuz when rumors start circulating they find somewhere new to go! You didn’t waste no time, did ya, YA PERV! You only been open a month and you already causin’ mess!” By the time Bellefleur was finished with his tirade, the customers had turned their attention from the television to watch the ‘new best thing’.
“Sam Merlotte seems to have picked the wrong Area for that. There isn’t any room for poaching young victims here, is there?”
“HELL NO!” Bellefleur wasn’t the only one to answer and the Shifter seemed close to being sick.
“Perhaps it would suit him to just move on. It’s not as though he’s done anything… yet. But who wants to know what he’s capable of if he’s pushed?”
Merlotte shook his head and croaked, “You think you’re slick, don’t you Nordmann?” The world is a chess board. Being ‘slick’ had nothing to do with the fact that I knew how the fuck to play.
I winked at him. “My concern is Sookie’s safety… these men have daughters and nieces her age…”
A man piped, “GOOD GIRLS! They’re good girls and don’t need the likes of you! C’mon fellas. I ain’t helpin’ him keep this joint open.” As a large crowd stomped from the bar as though it was on fire, there were grumblings about boycotting because ‘it’s cheaper to drink at home’.
“Gee whiz, Merlotte. How will you keep the doors open if your customers walk out without paying?”
“Fuck you! That was slander! I’ll keep the doors open by suing your ass!”
“Keep the doors open for what customers? And it’s only slander if I’m lying. Jason and I both told you to leave us to our fun and you still gawked. There are witnesses who can attest to the fact that Jason Stackhouse had to physically remove you from the pool table’s area so you would stop telling Sookie I’m too old for her as though it’s your place to decide that. Adele Stackhouse and I are on very good terms. I only just met Sookie and I’d feel better if you moved on.”
“You son of a bitch… You evil bastard…”
“You should have checked in with the Chamber of Commerce when you relocated, Merlotte. You probably would have been warned about making me repeat myself…”
The deputy grunted, “Chamber of Commerce?” How the fuck else could Supernaturals know who was who from one Kingdom to the next?
I nodded and offered my hand to shake and introduce myself. “Erik Nordmann, President of the Northern Louisiana Chamber.”
“Damn… You’re a little young for a position like’at ain’t cha?”
“Perhaps… but I’ve paid my dues… I’d prepared myself for a more violent confrontation with Merlotte, but meeting you has been fortunate. I trust you’ll be keeping an eye on his behavior now that you’ve been made aware, yes?”
A beer bottle was thrown and crashed into the display of liquor bottles, causing a domino effect of shattered glass… And a man shouted, “If he don’t, we will!”
Another man growled, “He ain’t got long to get out of Dodge.” Beautiful.
When I walked out of Merlotte’s, I stopped at the front window to poke out my lip and wave…
With that obstacle out of the way I began driving back to Shreveport…
I needed to feed and still have enough time to make a list for Bobby.