Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest. Thank you FairytaleAmber for all you do for me…
“What in the hell is going on out there?” Sam whispered as soon as they were in the storeroom together.
“What do you mean?” Sookie frowned.
“Two vamps in Bon Temps? Something’s not right.”
“One’s a creep, and the other is here on business.” She smiled and let her thoughts return to his electric blue eyes and the easy conversation they shared.
“It’s got my hackles up.”
She chuckled as they carried a case of beer into the walk-in refrigerator. “I wasn’t aware you have hackles.”
Sam stopped and pulled the crate out of her hands as if it didn’t weigh anything. “It’s an expression.”
She followed him and watched him carry another case of beer alone. “Do you actually need my help?”
He sighed. “I wanted to talk to you where they couldn’t hear us, and technically, I’m supposed to team lift all of these cases.” He didn’t even grunt when he picked up a case of liquor bottles.
She scoffed. “Doesn’t look like you need help, and I’ve still got customers in my area.”
“Just be careful, okay?”
“You too! You can get a hernia lifting heavy stuff like that,” she said as she turned to leave. She knew Sam had ulterior motives, but it was nice to have someone looking out for her all the same.
When she stepped back into the room, both vampires were gone. Relief and disappointment hit her simultaneously. As she cleared Creepy vamp’s table, she tucked the large tip into her pocket and shook her head. And then she made her way over to the corner table and found an empty bottle, a large tip, and a note.
I’ll be back.
She smiled stupidly and read it again, hearing his voice in her head. She slid the slip of paper into her back pocket and then cleared his table. It had been ages since she’d actually been excited to come back to work. Of course, Gran got an earful that night.
* * * *
Sookie attempted to focus on work, but nothing could keep her mind away from the note-leaving vampire. The way his large, cool hands held her face or the way he smiled when he talked to her. Funny. I didn’t notice his fangs. Maybe he only brings them out when he needs them. She tilted her head and frowned as she wiped off a table and thought about how vampire fangs worked.
She checked the clock on the wall. Creepy vamp didn’t come in at his regular time. Maybe he won’t come anymore. She smiled. Maybe handsome vamp scared him away. Her smile grew. She thought her heart might stop beating when he showed up later that night.
“B pos again?” she asked when she came up to take his order.
He nodded and smiled. Perfect even teeth.
After she brought the warmed bottle to him, she lingered at the table next to him, watching his mouth closely while he sipped the synthetic blood. Nothing happened.
“Why don’t you join me?” he said, startling Sookie.
“Sorry?” She blushed and looked back at the table she’d been wiping. She’d cleaned one spot really well.
“You seem to be very interested in my B pos.”
She checked over her shoulder to the bar. Sam watched them carefully. She took a deep breath and sat down across from the vampire. “It’s not the blood. It’s your teeth.”
“What about my teeth?” he asked.
“You don’t have fangs.”
He tipped the bottle to read the label. “This may nourish me, but my body is not fooled.”
She frowned and whispered, “Can you make them come and go?”
He opened his mouth a little and his fangs appeared, accompanied by a clicking sound.
She gasped. “I guess so.” She cleared her throat. “I didn’t mean to pry. I need to get back to work.”
He looked like he was going to respond, but she left before he could. I shouldn’t have asked him that. I probably looked like an idiot. It’s not my fault my guard is down around him. He’s so different than anyone else I’ve met. She watched him for the next hour, hustling through her routine to get ready for the next afternoon. The tall golden vampire in the corner watched her, but didn’t interrupt her. His silence soothed her.
Before he left, he said, “May I come back?”
“It’s a free country, ain’t it?” She smiled.
He stretched his body as he stood. “What I meant to say was, may I come back to see you again?”
Sookie nodded numbly. “Yes.” She blinked and then he was gone.
For the next three nights, the handsome vampire came to Merlotte’s, ordered a couple of bottles of blood, and offered easy conversation to Sookie.
During one of her many trips to the bar, Sam said, “What happened to the dark-haired one?”
“I guess he found a better place to hang out.”
“What about the blond guy?” Sam narrowed his eyes as he looked at the vampire’s table.
“I guess he likes it here.” She shrugged. She didn’t have to read Sam’s mind to know he didn’t like it one bit.
Her week of night shifts was about to end. All the servers at Merlotte’s took turns working dinner and lunch because lunch never gave them very good tips. Not only would Sookie be faced with less take home cash, she also wouldn’t get to see her nightly visitor.
“We’re closing in a couple of minutes.” She couldn’t keep the regret out of her voice as she talked to the quiet vampire.
“May I walk you to your car?”
“Sure. Give me a minute to finish up.” When she stopped by Sam’s office to get her purse, he was pouring over invoices. “Night Sam.”
“Oh, let me walk you out.”
“It’s okay, I got it.” She smiled and ducked out before he could question her. She smiled at her mysterious vampire and said, “I’m ready.”
He rose to his full height, towering over her.
“You’re tall,” she said.
“You’re short,” he replied, a smile playing on the corner of his lips.
She tapped his arm playfully. “Am not. I’m average height, for women. You’re freakishly tall.”
“Freakish?” His eyebrows rose together and then he laughed.
Sookie led the way, walking around the side of Merotte’s to the back parking lot. They filled the silent night with each step in the gravel, until they arrived at her car. She tilted her face up toward him. “So… Thanks for walking me to my car.”
“If you know what I am, why aren’t you afraid?” he whispered.
She swallowed hard. “Should I be?”
“Perhaps.” He took a step toward her. Only a few inches remained between their bodies.
Her heart pounded in her chest. Words failed her.
“Can I see you again?”
“I won’t be here tomorrow night. I’m working the lunch shift.” She couldn’t stop staring at his mouth. “Maybe after?” She frowned. “You know, I don’t even know your name.”
“Sookie Stackhouse.” She offered her hand to his.
“I’ll pick you up.” He cradled her hand inside of his and kissed the back of it. “Until then.”
She blinked and somehow he was in his car pulling away. She let out the breath she had been holding and shook her head.
“I can’t believe I have a date with a vampire,” she said as she got into her car.
* * * *
“I know you don’t like it, Sam, but it’s my life.” Sookie slammed the drawer shut, her purse strap still hanging partially out. She fumbled with it and slammed it again. Sam jumped. “I also don’t appreciate you eavesdropping on me.”
He looked away when she glared at him. “I’ve got good hearing. I’m just worried, that’s all.”
“I can make my own decisions. I’m not discussing this with you again.” She turned and walked away. She spent the rest of the lunch shift avoiding him. Their encounter soured her attitude from the start, and her tips suffered terribly. As her shift came to an end, the dinner rush started. She gathered her things and waited outside. She couldn’t stand another confrontation with Sam. She leaned against the trunk of her car and counted her tips. Twice. Pathetic. Just as she stuffed the money into her pocket, someone loomed over her. She gasped and clutched her chest.
“You scared me. Again.” She smiled up into his face.
He pressed his lips together, trying not to laugh. “I thought you’d be inside.”
She rolled her eyes. “Sam’s driving me crazy, so I waited out here.” She took in the sight of his neatly pressed slacks and button-down shirt. “Do you mind if I go home and change first?”
“I’ll follow you.” He disappeared around the corner faster than she could track and then his sports car hummed as he pulled up next to her.
She stood there with her mouth hanging open and then pulled her keys out and drove home with his headlights in her rearview mirror. As she parked, she was struck by her carelessness. What if he kills me? Now he knows where I live, what’s to stop him? She frowned as she walked over to his car where he unfolded his long body to stand next to her.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“You’re not going to kill me, are you?”
A laugh burst out of his mouth. “No one has ever asked me that before. No, I’m not going to kill you.”
She relaxed and smiled. “You’re different. You’re making me break all kinds of rules.” He just stared at her, so she went on. “I don’t usually spend time with customers.”
“Or bosses?” he asked.
“Definitely not bosses.” She scrunched up her nose. If she dated Sam, things would get mighty complicated.
His shoulders fell a little.
“I also don’t bring strange men home with me.”
“Am I strange?” He tilted his head.
“Strange as in stranger.” She laughed. “All the same, I think you should wait here while I change. My gran is kind of old fashioned.” She left him standing there, in the dark, but could feel his eyes on her back while she walked away. She put the measly cash from her tips in the bill bowl and called out to Gran. “I’m going out!”
Gran came out of the living room, smiling from ear to ear. “He showed up, huh?”
“Yep.” Sookie grinned.
“Can I meet him?”
“I think it’s too soon. Maybe next time? If there is a next time…” She could tell Gran wanted to inspect him, but Sookie didn’t want to scare him off.
She ducked into her room, tossed her Merlotte’s uniform onto the end of her bed, and pulled a dress over her head. It hugged her breasts and hips, and the soft blue brought out the color in her eyes and the pink in her cheeks. She put a little lipstick on and smiled at her reflection. It had been years since she’d been on a date.
“Oh, honey, you look beautiful. Have a good time!”
“Don’t wait up!” Sookie said as she stepped through the front door.
“You know I will!” Gran called out after her.
Sookie chuckled as she walked toward Eric, who leaned against his sleek car. He drank her in as she approached, making her fidget with her dress.
He let out a low whistle. “You look amazing.”
She looked at the ground. “Thank you.”
“Are you hungry?” Eric asked.
“A little.” She almost asked him the same question out of habit, but stopped herself. What would I do if he is? What would it feel like if he bit me? She swallowed hard. “There’s a good Italian restaurant not too far from here.”
He opened the passenger door for her and took her hand, helping her into the low seat. A shiver of pleasure coursed through her body, and lingered for long after he let go. They drove in silence, only interrupted by Sookie giving directions. By the time they arrived at the restaurant, her stomach was tied in knots and her hands were clammy. It wasn’t until they were inside that she realized she never told her gran Eric’s name. I’ll tell her later.
Once seated, Sookie started talking, and her nerves turned idle chitchat into an endless stream of words. She stopped herself and took a deep breath. “I’m nervous.” She chuckled uneasily.
She cradled her face in her hands and shook her head. “I also forgot my purse.”
“You don’t need your purse. My treat. Now, order something.” He handed her a menu and leaned back in his chair, the epitome of cool.
Sookie chose a meal she thought her stomach would be able to handle and took a big drink of water. As soon as the server left, she leaned across the table and whispered, “Can I ask you some questions? I’ve never talked to a vampire before, well besides that other guy, the creep.” She rolled her eyes.
Amusement danced across his face. “Of course. Ask away.”
“Do you have a reflection?”
Eric laughed, warm and low. “Yes.”
“How old are you?”
“I have lived for many centuries. Too many to count.”
“Centuries…” Sookie’s eyes widened. “Wow.”
“How old are you?” he asked.
“Twenty-five. Doesn’t sound like much compared to centuries.” She shrugged.
The server returned with her salad. Their conversation paused while she ate. Eric watched her with a kind of easy silence.
“Do you have special powers?” she asked, picking up where she left off with her line of questioning.
“Yeah, you know, like Dracula could transform into a bat and mist and he could control that guy, Renfield.”
Eric took his time before he answered. “I have a few.”
Sookie inched forward on her seat, but sat back promptly when her food came out. “It’s strange, eating alone. Why didn’t you order anything?” she asked as soon as the server stepped away.
“I’ve already eaten.”
She swallowed hard and stared at her plate. The idea of his fangs sliding into her flesh made her heart race. What’s wrong with me? Don’t look at him, just eat your spaghetti. She ate in silence, and only when she fished, did she dare to look at him. “That was really good.”
“Excellent.” He smiled at her.
“So, do you know the creepy vampire?” she whispered. “That one night when you were both there, he seemed on edge.”
“I do know him.” Eric sat up in his chair, his easy demeanor instantly replace with tension. “He came to me at Fangtasia, the bar I own in Shreveport. His name is Bill Compton. Apparently, he lives in Bon Temps now.”
“Is he the reason you came?”
Eric shook his head. “No.”
Sookie frowned. “I just can’t make sense of it. You both show up in Bon Temps, at Merlotte’s, of all places. What’s so special about it?”
He leaned toward her and whispered, “You.”
“Me?” She tilted her head. “You said you were here on business.”
“I was. I am.”
“I’m your business?” Sookie pushed away from the table. Is he lying to me? “You better start explaining yourself, mister.”
“I asked you out tonight so I could offer you a job.”
“A job?” I thought this was a date. She ran through their conversation the night before. He never said date. He said he wanted to see me again. I just assumed. I’m such an idiot. She stood up and turned her back to him, trying to stifle the tears threatening to ruin her mascara.
“Sookie, please let me explain.”
She shook her head and sniffed, and then walked out of the restaurant.
I think Sookie should reconsider her stance on dating bosses…On to Worth It: Chapter 4