Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
Thank you for all the lovely reviews! I loved each and every one! Big love to SeriousCrush for her approval and encouragement.
On a side note, there are still a few days to enter the giveaway for my book. Search FaceBook for ‘Orchids for Lila,’ like the page, and click on the blue giveaway button. You can enter twice by following my blog (Septemberroberts.wordpress.com) and by answering a question (the answer can be found on my blog on the excerpt page). The winner will be announced on Sunday and an epub copy of the book will be e mailed to the winner. Good luck!
Eric leaned against the door, watching the young woman fidget in her new uniform. “What is your name?”
She blushed and shook her head. “Where are my manners? Sookie Stackhouse.” She held her hand out to him and when he didn’t take it, she began fidgeting again.
“Pleasure to meet you, Sookie Stackhouse. I am Eric Northman.” He inhaled again, the intoxicating scent of her skin assaulting him. He kept his mouth closed, shielding his fangs, which were fully descended again. It was the second time in the last half hour. He willed them to go away.
“Is there anything I should know before I start?”
“Watch for handsy men, don’t break anything, and don’t forget to smile.”
She plastered a smile on her face.
“A real smile. If I can tell the difference, so can they.” He grazed her cheek with the back of his hand.
“Right.” Sookie’s face relaxed and then she gazed into his eyes and a genuine smile crept up the corners of her mouth.
“Perfect.” He led her out of the office toward the bar. “Chow, this is Sookie. She’s our new server. Give her a rundown of the beverages we offer. Sookie here is our menu. Ask questions now.”
As Sookie looked over the menu, Chow openly displayed his appreciation for her curvy body. Eric growled and flashed him his fangs. Chow bowed and immediately looked away. Satisfied with his response, Eric slipped away to a place where he could watch Sookie without being too obvious. He sat in his favorite booth, tucked in the corner, where he could see everything.
He watched Chow point out the different beers on tap, and then nodded and answered questions about menu items. Chow’s eyes flicked to Eric several times. When Sookie touched Chow’s arm as she thanked him, he pulled away from her. Eric smiled.
Sookie shook her hair out of her face, grabbed a notebook and a pencil and walked up to Ginger, who had been working for him since the night they opened five years ago. Ginger gave her directions and a reassuring pat on her shoulder, and with that, Sookie got to work.
Every time Sookie walked past his table, he leaned a little closer to her, and before too long, he was on the edge of the seat.
“Enjoying yourself?” Pam slid into the seat opposite him.
Eric cleared his throat and sat back into the corner. “Shut up, Pam.”
“Don’t get me wrong. I want to fuck her too … but if you don’t ease up a little, you’re going to scare her away. We can’t have that.”
Eric shook his head. “We can’t have that.”
Eric’s attention focused on a table of men right behind where Sookie was standing. His entire body went rigid as he saw a man reaching for her ass.
Pam touched his arm. “Let’s see how she deals with it.”
Eric growled, but did not move from the booth.
The second before the man made contact, Sookie spun on her heel, effectively knocking his hand away. “Is there something else from the menu I can get you, sir?”
The man muttered something about extra wings as his face flushed. His friends laughed at him, and Sookie turned around to finish the order she had been working on before she was interrupted.
“Can we keep her?” Pam’s face rested on top of her hand, which were pressed together in a silent plea.
Eric nodded. “I definitely want her. She seems to be a competent server too. I’m not sure how to deal with her if we cannot glamour her.”
“Perhaps we won’t need to.”
Eric hoped she was right.
Two hours passed quickly, and when Eric raised a finger to summon Sookie, she did not hesitate to come to him. She was fidgeting with her pencil as she approached his booth.
“Yes, Mr. Northman?”
Eric smiled. “It seems as though you are going to be a good fit here. Are you interested in finishing the shift? It ends at one.”
Sookie beamed at him. “Yes. Oh, thank you Mr. Northman. You won’t be sorry.” Her skin flushed and he could hear her heart pounding.
Eric had to close his mouth again as the sound of her pulsing blood called to him. “That will be all.”
Sookie turned and got back to work, picking up right where she left off.
Just before one in the morning, the last customers left and Sookie joined the other servers at the bar where they refilled bottles and prepared for the next night. Eric moved to his office, which was just down the hall, and listened to their chatter and picked up bits and pieces of information about Sookie as the other girls got to know her.
Pam interrupted their conversation. “Sookie. Please come with me so I can give you spare uniforms.”
Sookie obediently followed her to the hall outside Eric’s office, where cupboards were stocked with clothes. “You have four uniforms. Keep them clean. If you need a replacement while you’re here, just ask.”
Sookie cleared her throat. “I meant to ask about that. What are my hours?”
“Our winter hours are five-thirty to one, with a half hour break to eat. Eric has your money for the night.”
Eric picked up a pen and a bill for the latest shipment of food in an attempt to appear like he hadn’t been eavesdropping. A minute later, Sookie was standing in the doorway to his office.
She knocked quietly on the frame. “Mr. Northman, Pam said you had my money for the night?”
Eric stood and opened his wallet. He flipped through the stack of bills and pulled out a fifty. “Five hours.”
Sookie checked the clock. “I didn’t get started until eight-thirty.”
Eric raised an eyebrow. “Consider it a tip then.”
Sookie blushed and accepted the bill he was holding.
“Speaking of tips, did you do well?” His pants became increasingly uncomfortable as she reached inside the black leather pouch around her waist. As she pulled out a wad of cash, the waistband of her skirt dipped down, exposing the top of lacy white panties. She blushed again when she realized he was staring at them.
She thumbed through the bills, counting quickly. “Better than I’ve done at Merlotte’s all week.” She smiled.
“So I’ll see you tomorrow night?”
“I wouldn’t miss it.” She gathered her belongings, which were still on the chair in his office and walked toward the front door.
“Pam, will you please escort Miss Stackhouse to her car?”
Pam appeared in his office immediately and flashed a wicked grin. “I’d be delighted.”
It took longer than Eric anticipated for Pam to come back inside, and when she did, she closed his office door behind her. Her eyes were dark and she was about to say something when Eric beat her to it. “I hope you acted like a gentlewoman.”
Pam scoffed. “I was going to tell you that your presence is requested at the front, but now I may not.” She crossed her arms over her chest.
“Who?” Eric stood and went to the door.
“Fucking Bill. He showed interest in Sookie.”
Eric’s jaw clenched.
“Simmer down. I explained she is your employee and he’s to keep his fucking filthy hands off her, or something to that effect.” She waved her hand dismissively.
“Is he alone?” Eric wanted to beat him to a bloody pulp.
“No, he’s with Diane, Liam, and Malcolm.”
Eric squared his shoulders and walked out to the main part of the restaurant. He was surprised to find not four, but five people waiting for him. The fifth was human, and appeared to be on some sort of drug.
“Well if it isn’t Sheriff Fucking Northman!” Diane slurred.
Eric tightened his jaw. “I have told you before. This is my business and you will not bring your blood bags with you when you come to meet with me.”
Diane mocked him and kicked her feet up onto the table.
Eric bent over and looked into her eyes and then his hand was on her throat. “What I mean is GET OUT. And take your trash with you.” He picked Diane up by the neck and threw her toward the front door. She landed with a thud and then moved in a blur to collect her human.
“Fuck YOU!” she spat as she slammed the door.
Eric was seething and focused his energy on Bill. He desperately wanted a reason to throw him across the room too.
Bill disappointed him by being polite. “Sheriff Northman. We came tonight to let you know we have moved to Monroe. I apologize for Diane’s behavior. She is under the influence.”
“You better make sure she behaves, or I’ll have all of your heads.” Eric scowled at the three remaining vampires.
“Of course. You have my word.” Bill stood, but before he left he leaned toward Eric. “That woman with Pam…”
“Is under my protection.”
“Yes, that is what Pam eluded to. She works here?” Bill’s serene face begged to be hit.
Bill smiled. “I am glad to hear that. I’d like to get to know her.”
Eric’s brow furrowed. “She’s under my protection.”
“I do not intend to harm her, and if she is not yours, then you have no claim on her.”
Eric growled. “Are we done?”
“Yes, thank you for seeing us, it was most enlightening.” Bill nodded and escorted his nest-mates out the door.
Pam came up behind Eric. “Does this mean we’re going to be seeing more of him?”
Eric nodded, his mouth set in a grim line. “I’m afraid so. He’s right. I have no claim on her.”
“Not yet. But I have faith in you.” Pam gave him a confident smile.
Eric’s plan to claim Sookie morphed from desire to necessity. He had to keep her away from Bill. “She will be mine.”
I have faith in Eric too. Any of you vote for Bill?