Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
This is a story Padore and I have been brainstorming for months. She inspired a whole new twist to Sookie and Eric’s first meeting. It’s pre-revelation and I’m going to take CH’s canon and do all kinds of unspeakable things to it. There will be spoilers through the 11th book (eventually). You’ve been warned.
All mistakes are my own!
Sookie smoothed her hair into her ponytail for the fifth time and clutched her purse on her lap. She sat there, waiting to be called.
“Sookie Stackhouse?” a woman called from the door of her office.
A tight smile tugged up the corners of Sookie’s mouth as she straightened her back and followed the woman.
With Sookie’s application in her hands, the woman sat behind her desk and lifted the reading glasses off her chest. “My name is Mrs. Mahon.” She smiled and then scanned Sookie’s resume. “I see here that you’ve been working as a server for a couple of years at Merlotte’s. Before that, you worked at a burger joint.” The woman frowned. “Why are you applying to be a Sunny Maid? You don’t have any experience working for a cleaning service.”
Sookie shrugged. “Well, ma’am, I found your advertisement and I think I would be a good fit. I’m trustworthy, efficient, and always sunny,” she said, quoting the ad.
“I just got off the phone with your reference,” she paused and read off the paper, “Sam Merlotte. He couldn’t say enough good things about you. So, why did you quit?”
Sookie sighed. “Sam’s a great boss, but I’m tired of being groped by drunk men, you know?”
“I do.” Mrs. Mahon squared her shoulders and nodded. “Sunny Maids work in teams. How do you feel about working with someone else?”
“I’ve never met anyone I couldn’t get along with,” Sookie replied.
“Our clientele expect quality work. We offer nothing less. That is how we made a name for ourselves.” Mrs. Mahon thought, I wonder if she’s the kind of girl who steals. We can’t tolerate that.
“I was raised by my gran to work hard and always treat others the way I expect to be treated,” Sookie said, nodding her head.
Mrs. Mahon relaxed. “I am willing to hire you on a trail basis. You’ll be paid cash upon completion of your first job. If Beth gives me the okay, we’ll put you on our payroll.”
Sookie grinned and then grabbed her hand across the desk. “Oh thank you, Mrs. Mahon. You won’t regret it!”
* * * *
On her first assignment she met Beth. Beth was one of those women who broadcast her thoughts so loud Sookie didn’t need to concentrate to listen in.
“So, you’re the new girl, huh?” Beth asked.
“Yep. Sookie Stackhouse, nice to meet ya.” She offered her hand and Beth shook it.
She seems nice enough. “Beth Boswell. Well, let’s get to work.” Beth said as she unlocked the front door. “This is the Campbell’s place. I’ve cleaned this house for almost a year now. We come every other week. They have two kids and a dog. Are you okay with dogs?” She hesitated.
“As long as they don’t attack me!” Sookie said.
“The only thing Sparky will do is lick your face if you let him. He’s outside most the time though, so you might not even see him.”
Sookie laughed. “I’m okay with that.”
Beth pushed the door open. “I’ll get the kitchen, you take care of the kids’ room, upstairs on your left.” I hate cleaning the kids’ rooms. They’re slobs, the lot of them!
“I’m on it!” Sookie grabbed a bucket full of cleaning supplies and followed Beth’s instructions up the stairs. She paused outside the first room. Toy cars spilled into the hallway, clothes hung from the curtain rods, and a half-eaten sandwich was stuck to the nightstand. Once she stepped inside, it was much worse.
It took over an hour to put everything away, and then another thirty minutes to actually clean the room. The second kids’ room only took an hour.
She wiped her forehead and made her way downstairs with a stack of dirty plates and moldy food in her hands.
Beth poked her head out of the bathroom just off the kitchen. “Let me guess? The boy’s room?” She inclined her head toward the plates. Slob.
“Yep. You need a hand down here, or should I clean the parent’s bedroom?”
I’d rather scrub a toilet than change a stranger’s sheets. “I’ve got this. You do their bedroom.”
Sookie had cleaned enough toilets at Merlotte’s to last her a lifetime. She smiled and got back to work.
* * * *
Sookie and Beth stood side-by-side in the main door, admiring the gleaming surfaces.
“We make a good team.” Beth thought it moments before she said it. “The other girl I worked with wouldn’t do dishes or sheets. You did a good job in there.” They walked to the curb together. Beth counted a pile of cash and handed it to Sookie.
“You’ll tell Mrs. Mahon?”
“You bet. How would you like to work with me full time?”
Sookie grinned. “I’d love it. Thank you so much!”
Beth smiled. “I’ll get a you a schedule pronto. Can you be in Shreveport tomorrow night?”
Beth wrote down the address. “Be there at eight unless you hear otherwise.”
“Yes. It’s an old guy and his daughter. I usually clean the house by myself, but I would like the company. That place gives me the creeps.” Beth gave her a weak smile. “I’m not trying to freak you out or anything, nothing bad has ever happened to me or anything, I just get a weird feeling when I’m there. That’s all. It’s easy money,” she added.
Sookie laughed. “Count me in.”
* * * *
Sookie made more in an afternoon cleaning the Campbell’s house than she would serving drunk, handsy men on a good night at Merlotte’s. Of course, her back ached and her skin itched from the cleaning chemicals, but she was used to that.
Nothing a shower can’t fix!
She said hello to Gran and then headed for the bathroom. With her hair wrapped in a towel, she joined Gran in the front room. She folded her feet under her as she sat on the couch.
“Well, how was it?”
“I got offered a full time job! I’m officially a Sunny Maid.” Sookie beamed.
“That’s great, honey!” Gran patted her hand.
“Beth is my partner and boss, kind of. She’s nice and seems to like me too. We cleaned a big ol’ house over in Monroe. You should’ve seen the mess in the kids’ rooms! Nothing the two of us couldn’t handle though. It’s hard work, but so was being a barmaid. I’ll be in Shreveport tomorrow night.”
“You be safe, okay?”
“You know I will be!” Sookie grinned. “What are you watching?”
Gran caught her up on the T.V. program already in progress and then they watched together. It was the perfect end to a perfect Saturday.
* * * *
Sookie’s car rattled as it came to a stop outside the house where she was meeting Beth. Something seemed strange about the house, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. It looks too dark or something. She checked the piece of paper Beth had given her. Yep. I’m in the right place.
A few minutes later, Beth pulled up, but she didn’t get out of her car right away. Instead, she signaled for Sookie to get into the passenger seat.
“What’s up?” Sookie asked as she got in Beth’s car.
Beth spoke in a hushed voice, “I just wanted to let you know that this house is under surveillance. I haven’t figured out where all the cameras are yet.” She scrunched up her nose. “Do you still want to do it?”
Sookie shrugged. “I don’t mind being recorded. It’s not like I’m doing anything bad. I’m just cleaning.”
“I’m not crazy about being watched.”
“I appreciate you giving me a heads up, but I don’t mind. Honest.”
“Good. I come here once a week. Sometimes more. They throw a lot of parties. Especially on the weekends.”
Sookie took a deep breath and then followed Beth inside. She grimaced as the foul smell of stale beer assaulted her. Empty bottles and cans covered every surface in the kitchen and front room.
“I’ll take these two rooms, if you can do the bedrooms. They’re just down the hall.” Beth pointed. Without waiting for Sookie to respond, she got to work in the kitchen, collecting the garbage.
Sookie nodded and walked down the dark hallway, the stale beer smell dissipating the farther she got from the front room. The first bedroom she opened was pink. It was the most feminine room she’d ever been in. I would’ve died to have a room like this when I was twelve! Beautifully ornate wallpaper adorned the walls, and hand-carved antique furniture filled the space. The sweet fragrance of perfume lingered in the air, only adding to the ambiance. Sookie sat at the vanity and smiled at herself in the mirror. Make up containers covered the surface, which reminded her to get to work. She pulled a cloth and wood polish out of her bucket of supplies and started wiping the wood, making a tidy pile of lipstick tubes, powder compacts, and mascara.
Delicate pastel clothing littered the floor. Sookie made a sweep around the bed, collecting them all and depositing them into the laundry hamper in the corner. She rolled her eyes. Kids today. At least there’s not a jelly sandwich stuck to the table.
The closet door hung open, so she stepped inside and flipped the light on. Her mouth hung open. Nearly half of the space was dedicated to shoes. Row upon row of the most beautiful shoes she’d ever seen. Sookie sat in front of the shelves and started organizing. Righting the ones that had fallen over, and picking up the pairs that had been discarded on the floor. Above the shoes, more petite pastel clothing hung from hangers. Her fingers brushed against the fine silk and soft cotton and she sighed. Some teenagers are so lucky!
Next, she turned her attention to the bed. She folded the blanket carefully before changing the sheets. With her arms full, she walked back down the hall and said, “Beth, where’s the laundry room?”
Beth poked her head up from behind the kitchen counter and pointed to a set of double doors next to the bathroom. “Linens are in there too.”
“Thanks.” Sookie pulled the doors open and started washing the pale pink sheets. Just as she was about to pull down a nearly identical set of sheets from the shelf above the washer and dryer, Beth swore in the front room.
Sookie sprinted toward her as Beth fell from the chair she was standing on to dust the shelves mounted above the couch. Beth fell forward onto the cushions, knocking something metal toward the floor. Sookie lunged for it and caught it before it hit. She sighed and examined what could only be described as a crown. The metal had been marked with tools, making a beautiful and intricate design of lines and dots. It reminded her of rune stones from her history class in high school.
“Thank you so much for catching that, Sookie. You have fast reflexes!” Beth struggled to get to her feet.
Sookie handed the crown to her and smiled. “You’re welcome. You have to be fast when you’re waiting on drunk people. They spill things all the time.” She watched her put the crown back on the shelf next to an ancient book. “That’s really beautiful.”
Beth nodded. “I’m sure it wouldn’t be so beautiful if I dented it.”
Sookie glanced at the other things on the shelf. It’s like a museum. “Better get back to work!” she said before returning to the pink room.
While she was tugging the silky sheet in place, she looked around the room and finally figured out why the room seemed so dark: the windows were opaque. They were covered with solid shutters from the outside, and sheer curtains on the inside.
Sookie frowned as she pondered why in the world someone would cover windows with wood. She shrugged and got back to work. When she moved to the side of the bed, her foot caught the edge of the nightstand, tipping it until the tiny door opened. She bent over to close it and gasped when she saw what was inside. The small cabinet was packed with sex toys. Her cheeks flushed as she closed it. I hope this isn’t a teenager’s room!
After running the vacuum across the floor, the pink room looked pristine. She closed the door behind her. Beth had moved into the bathroom in the hallway, so Sookie waved to her as she moved onto the next room. She flipped the light on and stood in the doorway. It was the complete opposite of the pink room. Everything was modern and steely gray, much like the rest of the house. A massive bed filled half the room.
Sookie ran her fingers across the sheets and smiled as she imagined stretching out across the bed and not being able to touch the sides. She closed her eyes and inhaled. It doesn’t smell like an old guy in here. The faint scent of the ocean hung in the still air; crisp and cool, making her heart skip a beat.
Since there weren’t any clothes to pick up, she got straight to work changing sheets. As she tugged and tried to get them off, it got stuck. No matter what she did, it wouldn’t budge. She kicked her shoes off and climbed onto the mattress toward the headboard, which doubled as a bookshelf. She dipped her hand down between the wood and mattress and hissed when something sharp poked her finger. The sliver of wood that had caught the sheet gave way when it impaled her. She sat back on her heels and squeezed her fingertip, coaxing the piece of wood and a drop of blood out of her skin. She sucked on her finger and then checked it again. The bleeding stopped almost immediately. She flicked the splinter into the empty garbage can next to the bed and turned her attention back to the job at hand. She flushed with panic when she looked down and noticed a drop of blood on the sheets. “Oh shit.” She yanked the sheets off and dragged them into the bathroom where Beth stood in the tub, scrubbing the tiles. Sookie ran water over the stain, but it didn’t wash out. She frowned at it and rubbed it together.
“Everything okay?” Beth asked.
“I poked my finger on a splinter and thought I bled on the sheets, but it’s not coming off.”
Beth nodded. “I should’ve warned you. Sometimes his sheets are stained.”
“So it’s not from me?”
Beth shook her head.
“Maybe he gets nose bleeds?” Sookie guessed.
“Whatever the case, I’ll stain treat it before putting it through the washer.”
After grabbing a fresh set of gray sheets, Sookie returned to the bedroom. Because of the height of the bed, she had to get on it to make it. On her hands and knees, she carefully tucked the corners on either side of the headboard, smoothing it into place along the top edge. She grunted and tucked her hair behind her ears before getting the last part in place, avoiding the splintery wood. Instead of getting off the bed, she just wiggled her body toward the two remaining corners, securing the sheet.
Before finishing the bed, she decided to wipe down the bookshelf. She sat back on her heels and removed each book and knickknack, working her way across the shelf. When she got to the center, she paused as she dusted a shiny black dome. She tried to pull it out, but it was wired through the bookshelf. She tilted it so she could wipe the base and the overhead light revealed the camera lens inside. Surveillance camera. She almost dropped it in her rush to put it down. Her cheeks flushed again as she looked down at her cleavage. I was just on my hands and knees in front of this thing. If someone is watching, they just got a show.
On to Up All Night: Chapter 2