Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
I woke up late the next morning, exhausted by a night filled with dreams of Eric, and found a note from Gran in the kitchen. ‘Breakfast is in the fridge, be back at noon. Gran’ I opened the fridge and found a plate covered in foil with a pile of buttermilk pancakes. I was always grateful that my gran took care of me, but was especially grateful that she made me breakfast on mornings like these.
After breakfast, I slipped into a bikini and made a date with my favorite lawn chair and the hot baking sun. These legs didn’t stay golden on their own! Gran pulled up and popped the trunk, which was full of groceries. I bounced out of the chair and helped her carry them inside. She thanked me and then, as if struck by lightening, she said, “Oh my, I almost forgot! I am waiting for my full report! Did you meet one? A vampire?”
I nodded and a smile spread across my face. “Boy did I ever! Several in fact!”
“And?” Gran stood with her hands on her hips, tapping her foot impatiently.
“I met the owner of a vampire bar in Shreveport. He’s tall, incredibly handsome, and…”
“And?!” Gran shouted.
“He’s wonderful. I am going to see him tonight.” I squealed and Gran hugged me.
“Honey, I’m so happy for you.” Gran gave me a worried look and then shook her head, her look changing as if she were remembering that I was a grown woman who had never been on a date before and that it was about time I enjoyed myself. “Here, help me unload these groceries and then you can get back out to your lawn chair.”
An hour later, my skin felt hot and sticky from cooking in the sun, so I jumped in the shower and started to plan what I was going to wear that night. With my head buried in my closet, I didn’t hear the phone ring. Gran came in and said, “Sookie, Dawn’s on the phone for you in the kitchen.”
I tightened the towel wrapped around my chest and picked it up.
I could barely get the words ‘Hello’ out of my mouth before Dawn started firing questions.
“What is he like? Did he take you home? I didn’t find your car at my place, so I assumed he did, but oh my god, what did you talk about. Did you get to talk to her too? Sookie?! Tell me everything!”
I relayed most of the events of the evening back to her, leaving out the parts where I told him I was a telepath and that the bar was going to be raided. I told her how he had kissed me, and how he gave me an invitation to the Wet Vampire Contest.
“Ugh, you got an invitation? I heard all about last year’s Contest. I would give anything for one of those!” Her voice softened, “He didn’t happen to give you an extra one, did he?”
“No, he didn’t. I’m sorry Dawn. I would give it to you, but I told him I would be there.” I wasn’t lying…not really, I had told him I would think about it, but now that I knew how much Dawn wanted to go there was no way I was parting with that piece of black paper. “What is it? The Contest…”
“It’s a wet T-shirt contest, but from what I have heard, there’s more than just wet shirts…if you know what I mean.”
“Why would he invite me to judge a wet t-shirt contest?”
“Duh! Because all the hottest male vampires are in it!”
“Oh!” I said feeling dense, and then I realized what I was in for. “Oh…” Eric, in a wet t-shirt was enough to make my knees weak. I leaned heavily on the counter next to me, and felt my face flush. “Hey Dawn?”
“What should I wear?”
“Don’t ask me…I’ve been trying to get Master Eric’s attention for months now, and you managed to succeed where I failed in just a few minutes. You must know something that I don’t.” I cringed when she called him ‘Master.’ She was trying too hard to be a part of the scene and that kind of desperation made her seem sort of pathetic.
“Oh, okay…I guess I can find something to wear. Hey, thanks for taking me last night. I haven’t ever had that much fun!”
“You’re welcome, any time you want to go again, you know I’m down. Gotta go, Sam’s giving me the eye telling me to get back to work!”
“Bye!” Dawn was gone before the whole word had formed in my mouth.
I hung up the phone and went back to my room, trying to decide on something to wear. The problem with most of my wardrobe was that it was not sexy enough for a date, which hadn’t been a problem up until now. My head raced with thoughts about what would happen tonight. Was it a date? Or would I just be lost in a sea of adoring fang-bangers throwing themselves at Eric? I decided on the spot that a trip to town was my only option.
My first stop was Tara’s Togs, run by my friend Tara, which had a good selection of pretty clothes. I said hi to Tara and started flipping through the racks. She offered to help me find something, but I didn’t really feel comfortable enough telling Tara where I was headed tonight, so opted to look by myself. I went to the rack full of black clothes, and turned away almost immediately. I couldn’t imagine trying to squeeze into the fang-banger role. Not me. Instead, I turned to the selection of summer dresses and found a patterned white and gray-blue silk wrap dress. The shoulder straps were narrow and the dress hung in long points on both sides. I found my size and went to the fitting room. I wrapped the soft material around my body, fastening the gray-blue belt around my waist. The neckline plunged low enough to show off most of my tan cleavage, which was accentuated by the graceful white swirls that graced the dress in a sweeping diagonal from shoulder to hip. The bottom hem brushed against my thighs, with the long points draping off my hips and dangling near the top of my calves. I twisted my body and the material floated around me, making a soft swish as the silk brushed against itself and came to rest against my legs again. I held up the price tag and stared for a few seconds, thinking of how many nights of tips it would take to pay for the dress. I took a deep breath and decided that I needed the dress, despite how expensive it was.
As I was walking up to the cash register, I noticed a pair of gray-blue slide sandals, with a solid strap across the top. They were a perfect match and had a three inch platform lift, which would make me that much closer to Eric. I put the dress and the shoes on the counter and handed Tara a wad of cash I had been saving for a special occasion. She smiled and we chatted for a few minutes about work, life, and family before I went home to help Gran get dinner ready.
I was distracted all through dinner and fidgeted in my seat while Gran talked about her afternoon working in the flower garden. She smiled at me and noticed that I hadn’t been paying attention.
“Honey, did you find something nice to wear tonight?” I nodded and told her about my shopping trip. “I think that’s wonderful! A girl needs a new dress every now and then.” Gran gave me a knowing smile.
I took my time to get ready, counting down the minutes until I could leave. I wanted to get to Fangtasia just before ten, and knew exactly how long it would take for me to get there. I twisted the hair around my face, pinning it in place and letting the rest of my hair spill down my back. I touched up my lips with a little pink lipstick and felt ready to go.
I went to the front room where Gran was sitting, reading a book. She looked up and smiled at me. “Oh Sookie, you look lovely. Are you sure you won’t be too cold tonight?” I shrugged and shook my head. “I have a shawl you could borrow to cover yourself up with…” Gran said, being a little less subtle.
“No thank you Gran, I’ll be fine. See you in the morning!” I leaned over and kissed her cheek and left before she could say anything else.
The parking lot outside Fangtasia was full tonight, and there was a line of women, and a few men, starting at the red door and wrapping down the length of the gray building. I joined the group and smiled nervously as I noticed the discrepancy in our wardrobes again. I had to tell myself to take a deep breath and not to worry about the condescending looks I was getting. I was already nervous enough, the butterflies in my stomach were making it difficult to breathe.
At ten o’clock sharp, the red door creaked open and Pam’s beautiful face appeared, followed by her flowing black dress. In a flat voice Pam announced, “Please have your invitation and identification ready.” There was a flurry of movement as everyone hurried to comply. The line moved quickly and when it was my turn, Pam smiled at me, making me feel a little uneasy since her fangs were fully extended. “Welcome back, Miss Stackhouse. I absolutely love that dress.”
“Thank y…” I started to say as a woman behind me snickered, assuming that Pam was mocking me. I couldn’t say for sure if Pam had been mocking or complimenting me, but it only took a second for Pam to clear everything up.
“What’s so fucking funny?” Pam asked the woman, standing with her hand on her hip.
The woman’s smile froze and she gulped loudly. “Um, nothing. Sorry.”
Pam gave her a warning look and turned her attention back to me, “I hope you have a good evening. Master Eric has been looking forward to seeing you again.” I felt the butterflies try to leap out of my stomach. I just smiled and nodded and went inside.
The center part of the room had been turned into a raised stage and the growing crowd of people clustered around the platform trying to get the best position to see. I stood back, nervous that I might get trampled. Hanging above the stage was a series of pipes that had been rigged with misting nozzles like you would find in a greenhouse, which were connected to a hose at the bar sink. It was clear that someone had put a lot of effort into this contest.
We didn’t have to wait long before a procession of vampires made their way towards the stage. There were five contestants, all dressed in tight white t-shirts and jeans. The first was a serious-looking stocky Asian man with long black hair and intricate tattoos all over his arms. The second was taller and had red hair. He winked and gave the crowd a flirtatious smile, whipping the women into a frenzy of excitement. Next came a black vampire with skin the color of caramel. He looked uncomfortable in a t-shirt and jeans, but had a determined and dedicated look on his face. The fourth was a dark haired, dark eyed vampire with old-fashioned side burns and a bored look on his face. He was handsome, but not quite enough for what came next. Eric strutted out, last in line in all his six foot four inch glory. My mouth went dry and my skin felt hot as I watched him stalk across the room and climb the stage. He scanned the room, giving me a quick smile when our eyes met. My heart was beating fast and I was panting, making me feel like I might faint.
Pam closed the red doors behind her and jumped up on the bar, making an official announcement. “Welcome to the Second Annual Wet Vampire Contest.” She waited out the sounds of cheers from the large crowd. “Here are the rules: keep your hands to yourself and be sure to cheer for your favorite wet vamp.” Eric gave her an approving smile for completing her role in the event, and then she spoke again. “If any of you think we should also have a female wet t-shirt contest, please let the management know.” The crowd cheered wildly and Eric rolled his eyes at Pam and she replied by giving him a satisfied smirk. Pam jumped down from the bar and put her hand on the faucet and shouted, “On with the show!” The stage lit up and the rest of the bar went dark.
En mass, the crowd turned from Pam to the stage, faces pointing up expectantly at the series of nozzles. The water dripped slowly at first, and then came down as a fine mist, making the five vampires on stage jump at the initial contact. The thin material of the t-shirts clung to their shoulders as it became saturated. The red-haired vampire shook his head sending water flying into the crowd, enticing screams of ‘Yeah Clancy!’ from the sea of adoring fans. Not to be outdone, Eric tilted his head back, letting the water push his long hair out of his face, where it stuck to his neck in dark blonde pieces. A woman standing next to me moaned as she watched the water spread across Eric’s chest, revealing each defined muscle.
I glanced down the stage and noticed that the tattoos that covered the first vampire’s arms extended to other parts of him as the thin material clung to his light skin showing the outline of the drastic artwork covering his body. The noise in the room became a continuous roar of voices screaming one name or another, and in the darkness of the room, I gave into the mob mentality and started cheering wildly too. It was exhilarating.
The third vampire was still very stiff and uncomfortable looking, standing still and letting the water drip off of him. He looked like a wet cat. Vampire number four pushed his hair out of his face, and stroked his chest, pandering to the audience. It worked for most of the crowd, swooning over his dark eyes. It all seemed rehearsed though, and made me laugh at how pathetic he looked.
My eyes were drawn back to Eric, who was now gyrating his hips in the most delicious way, the cheering got louder, spurring him on. He hooked his thumbs in the waist of his jeans, letting his fingers rest seductively against the fly. I couldn’t look anywhere else, even if I wanted to…and I didn’t want to. Any reservations I had yesterday about having sex with Eric evaporated right then. I could feel my legs shaking with need and my panties getting wet. The water dripped off of his chest, hitting his bare feet. He shook his head and the audience squealed.
As suddenly as it had started, the water stopped. The audience let out a collective ‘Ah!’ of disappointment, and then fell to a hush when Pam jumped up on the wet stage. “Are you ready to select the winner?” Pam said with as much enthusiasm as she could muster. The crowd clapped and screamed. She moved to the end of the stage, “Chow!” An earsplitting scream filled the room. Pam nodded approvingly and moved on. “Clancy!” The crowd hollered, some of the women screaming his name. She smiled and moved on and with more energy than before she said, “Maxwell!!” The room filled with polite applause except for a few really excited women that were shouting his name trying to get his attention. “Bill!” Pam shouted in front of the fourth vampire. The room echoed with his name, women calling for him and clapping wildly. It was the best response yet, and Bill was smug about it, puffing out his chest…and then Pam moved on. “Eric!” The room filled with a roar of noise, my hands clapping so hard that it hurt, screaming until I was hoarse, and I couldn’t stop myself. A smile spread across Eric’s face and he looked down at Bill, who had retreated behind him, deflated. Clancy, Maxwell and Chow clapped for Eric too, conceding the victory.
Pam took Eric’s hand and held it over her head, “I declare Eric the victor!” Pam shouted over the noise. “Who do you claim as your prize?” The crowd went silent, the tension palpable as everyone waited for his decision. Eric stepped off of the stage and parted the sea of faces until he was standing in front of me.
“Her,” he said looking directly at me.
Please comment. Two down, one to go!
On to The Contest: Chapter 3