Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
All mistakes are my own. Are you still reading? I hope so.
Worry creased Sookie’s forehead as she ordered her gin and tonic from the Fangtasia bartender. She couldn’t stand to be near him, so she stalked over to the corner booth and leaned across the table to talk to the two men occupying her previously claimed space.
“Hey,” she started before they had a chance to express their discomfort at sharing a space with a stranger. “You should go sit at the bar.”
One of the men frowned but the other smiled. “Why?”
“If you want to be noticed, you should sit out there. Not back here in the shadows.”
“I told you,” the smiling man said. He slid out of the booth and his friend followed. “Thanks.”
Sookie nodded and took his seat, already scanning the room. She stretched out and wedged her shoulders into the corner so she could find him. It didn’t take long, what with him being a foot taller than everyone else. She watched him for the better part of the night, nursing her drink. She didn’t want to get drunk. She wanted to make her decision with a clear head.
Hours passed, but before Fangtasia closed, he came over to her. “Do you want to be alone?” he asked.
She shook her head. “No. I want company.”
A smile flickered across his lips. “Where would you like to go?”
“Give me a few minutes to wrap things up.”
She nodded and watched him work. A couple of minutes later, he made eye contact with her and then inclined his head toward the door. She responded with another nod and made her way outside.
He joined her and motioned to his shiny red Corvette. “I can drive.”
She frowned. “I don’t want to abandon my car.”
“Okay. I’ll follow you.”
During the hour drive to her house, she must’ve checked her mirror a thousand times to be sure he was following her. He was. She pulled into her driveway first, and then he parked next to her. When he got out he stretched, making him appear even taller than he was. Doubt crept into her mind.
“You didn’t mention how far away you lived.”
“Sorry,” she mumbled.
He put his hands on the small of his back and turned to take in the vast property. “Is this your place?”
“Thanks.” She flipped through her keys until she found her house key. “Do you want to…?”
He smiled again. “Yes.”
She unlocked the front door and walked inside, but he didn’t follow.
“You must invite me in,” he stated.
“Oh. Please come in.” Heat spread to her cheeks as she watched him look around her sparsely decorated and unkempt home. “I live alone and I don’t really like to clean,” she added feeling more embarrassed than ever, especially since he was looking at the spatters of blood trailing down the hall.
His nostrils flared and his pupils dilated. “Is that yours?” he lisped through his fangs.
She swallowed hard. She’d never seen fangs up close. She nodded and showed her palm. “I cut myself last night … by accident.”
“I see.” He brushed his thumb across her angry wound.
She looked up into his face at his sharp teeth. “Will it hurt?”
“It doesn’t have to,” he whispered, taking a step closer.
“Make it quick,” she requested, closing her eyes, taking a deep breath, and bracing herself for her impending death.
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” he said before his mouth made contact with her injured hand. He kissed her palm gently and then his tongue probed into the raised folds. She winced and tried to pull away from him, but he held her fast. Within seconds the dull pain disappeared and his mouth moved up her arm to her neck.
Her breath caught in her throat and she tensed. His cool lips grazed her pulsing flesh. The tips of his fangs scraped her skin, sending a ripple of fear through her. Her instincts kicked in and she had to fight them with all her might. I want this. I asked him for this.
But he didn’t bite.
Instead, his mouth moved again, that time lighting on her lips. A moan escaped him as his tongue pushed inside. His large hands spread out across her ass, lifting her off the linoleum to deepen the kiss.
She pulled away to breathe and pushed against his chest. “Wait.” She frowned. “What are you doing?”
“Kissing you,” he said as he released his grip ever so slightly so her feet made contact with the floor again. “Is that okay?”
“No.” She shook her head and he let go of her all together. “That’s not what was supposed to happen. That’s not why you’re here.”
“It’s not?” He lifted an eyebrow.
She glanced at her hand and her eyes widened. “You healed me.”
He shrugged. “It looked painful.”
“This is not how it’s supposed to be.”
“How what is supposed to be?” he asked.
“I was…” Tears filled her eyes. “I was ready to die tonight.”
He straightened his back and stepped away. “That’s why you invited me?”
She nodded and buried her face in her hands. I ruined my final plans and I’m crying in front of a stranger. Great.
“You assumed I would murder you?” he asked with disbelief.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered and then she ran out the door. The cool night air whipped her hair all the way to the dock. Crickets chirped softly all around the edge of the pond while a fish surfaced, slapping the water before retreating. She fell into a heap on the aged wood and her cries joined the chorus of night, seeping into the dark forest around her.
Everything hurt and she just wanted it to end. But that hadn’t happened. She couldn’t even get that right. Fresh tears spilled out of her eyes and a strangled sob escaped her lips.
Footsteps echoed on the wooden planks behind her. She hid her face again. Thankfully he didn’t say anything. He sat down next to her as still and silent as a statue. His presence was oddly comforting. She had never been around anyone so quiet.
She squeezed her eyes shut and focused on the beat of her heart and the hum of insects. He put his arm around her so she leaned against him. They sat like that for a while, silent and comfortable.
“You’re not like them, you know.”
“Like who?” she asked.
“The ones who seek us out because they want to flirt with danger.”
“I’m way beyond flirting with danger.” She scoffed. “I’m not like them. I’m different. Always have been.” He didn’t interrupt or respond, so she went on. “I’ve never belonged anywhere. Even my own parents didn’t want me. This was their house, you know? They died when I was seven. Even then they knew something was wrong with me.” She took a long shaky breath. “My gran raised me and my brother. I guess he should’ve gotten the house because he’s older, but why move out when someone is there to make every meal and do your laundry?” she asked not waiting for a response. “He’s lazy, which suits me just fine. I couldn’t stand to live there anymore. Knowing what they thought of me, knowing how disappointed she was.”
“Disappointed?” he murmured.
“Yeah. I was always getting into trouble … making bad choices. I think she was glad to see me go.”
“Yeah.” Her chest tightened and tears threatened to fall again. “I was never good enough for her. Jason was the golden boy. Star football player, pretty girlfriends, good-paying job.” She wiped her eyes. “Did she think I didn’t want those things? I couldn’t have them. She doesn’t understand.”
“Understand what?” he asked.
“How hard it is. Hiding who I am day in and day out. It’s exhausting.”
“Who are you?”
“I’m a freak.”
He chuckled. “Join the club.”
“I didn’t ask for this.” She pulled away from him and glared at him. “I wish I could make it go away.”
He frowned. “You think I asked to be turned?”
Her anger dissipated quickly. “I’m sorry. That wasn’t fair.” She sighed. “I’m not good at this.” She motioned between them. “I don’t have many opportunities to talk. Except now. You’re so quiet.” She touched his temple.
“I’m a telepath,” she admitted. “Everywhere I go it’s noisy. Their thoughts are incessant. I can’t stand it. You’re different. You’re silent.”
“You can’t hear my thoughts.” He laughed again. “That explains why you were so confused earlier.”
“Right. I’m sorry you drove all this way.” Her cheeks flushed.
“Don’t be sorry.”
Sookie took a deep breath and sighed. “Thanks for being here.”
“I’m not going to kill you,” he said. “Just to be clear.”
“I know. I’m sorry I assumed you would.”
He shrugged. “There are plenty who would.”
Her skin crawled. “Like the bartender at Fangtasia.”
“Long Shadow.” He nodded. “Gladly.”
“Why are you being so nice to me?”
He put his arm around her again. “You seem like you need a little kindness in your life.”
“And a big bad vampire is the one to give it to me?” She scoffed. “How ironic.” She frowned and tilted her head. “I don’t know your name.”
“Pleased to meet you,” she said. “I’m Sookie.”
“Sookie,” he whispered and absentmindedly stroked her shoulder.
“You’re nice,” she stated.
“Shh, don’t tell anyone.”
She laughed for the first time.
As time crept by and Eric’s arm became more comfortable, Sookie couldn’t keep her eyes open. She woke slightly when he picked her up, but the movement of him carrying her lulled her back to sleep.
She awakened to the sound of her alarm after the most restful sleep of her life. When she rolled over she found a note on the pillow next to her scrawled on the back of an old Halloween flyer from Brews.
See you tomorrow?
A little kindness goes a long way. There’s more! She Courts Calamities: Chapter 3