Sookie’s eyes opened just as the sun was about to slip beneath the horizon. She sat up slowly and pushed back her blanket. Her feet touched the ground slowly, and she made her way to the windows to watch the last sliver of the sun disappear. She smiled to herself and then went to the bathroom to start the shower. While she waited for the water to warm she stripped off her clothes, and then climbed into the tub.
Warm water rushed over her, bouncing off her skin as she stepped under the spray. She closed her eyes and let the water douse her hair. She started washing her face, and it was while she was rinsing that she heard the slight scrape of the shower curtain moving. A hand touched her shoulder and she turned to see Eric standing before her completely naked and with a hungry look in his eyes. Her head tilted back and he pulled her close before kissing her. Just as before one hand went into her hair while the other pressed her against him by the small of her back.
She heard the clicking of fangs when his lips moved to her neck, and her eyes opened to look up at the ceiling. She concentrated on the rush of feelings moving through her… lust, desire, want, nervousness, anticipation—they all worked together to consume her. Sookie’s hands moved from Eric’s broad shoulders to grip his face and pull it to hers once more. He kissed her deeply and with more skill than anyone else she had ever kissed.
But then there were two more hands on her hips, and Sookie broke the kiss to see Bill standing behind her with the same look on his face that Eric had when he first entered the shower. Sookie broke the hold Eric had on her, and turned in Bill’s direction. He stroked the side of her neck, his thumb rubbing against the pulse point there. His fangs descended as well, and rather than kissing Sookie when he pulled her close, Bill tilted her head and bit her neck.
She whimpered with the intrusion of his fangs, but that only made him drink more powerfully. She could feel Eric behind her, stroking her skin gently while Bill drank. When Bill finally released her as her heart began to slow just a little, Eric turned her around and placed his bleeding wrist to her mouth. Sookie drank hungrily, her eyes holding Eric’s while she took him inside her. She felt his excitement as it poked against her hip, but he made no moves to touch her in other ways.
When Sookie pulled back her mouth was bloodied, and Eric lunged forward to capture her lips with his own. Bill’s hand moved between Sookie’s thighs and began to touch her in an intimate way she couldn’t help but respond to. Sookie broke the kiss to gasp and cry out. Despite having just fed one vampire, she tilted her head the other way, exposing the other side of her neck to Eric, but before he could lean in to get his taste of her Bill’s fangs were once again buried in Sookie’s neck.
Only this time he didn’t stop drinking when Sookie’s heart began to slow. Instead he sucked a little harder, his fingers moving faster between her thighs. Sookie was just about to orgasm when everything went black.
Sookie sat bolt upright again, rubbing the side of her neck, gasping for breath and feeling the pleasant aftereffects of an intense orgasm. Her body felt tingly and weightless, and her heart was beating rapidly. A glance at the clock told her it was just after ten. She had less than an hour to get ready for work, and she kicked herself for forgetting to set her alarm.
Sookie got out of bed and went to the bathroom to start the shower. A strange sense of déjà vu overwhelmed her, but given the hour there was no way a vampire companion was going to be joining her while she cleaned up. She stripped off her clothes while she waited for the water to warm, and went to brush her teeth. When she looked at herself in the mirror she saw how tired she looked, and hoped a shower would help with that.
Her mind reeled back to the night before. She had kissed Eric. Technically, she had cheated on Bill, but it didn’t feel like cheating. Something in her heart had shifted in the last few days, and she realized she didn’t feel the same loyalty to him that she had before. Her heart was no longer in the same place, and she attributed much of that to her trust in the vampire she had been so in love with being destroyed systematically, one lie at a time.
While she brushed her teeth Sookie replayed her kisses with Eric. The first she could write off as something attributed to bloodlust, but she knew that wasn’t entirely the motive behind that kiss. If she was honest with herself, she knew she could have pushed Eric away and he would have let her go. She hadn’t done that, however. No, she had welcomed that kiss; she had stroked his fangs with her tongue and she knew damn well what sort of reaction that would get her. She had felt the raw power of Eric’s body as it pressed itself against her much smaller one.
Granted, Sookie hadn’t had a great number of kissing partners in her life, but not a single one of them had ever kissed her like that. Not even Bill, who loved her and could be quite passionate in his own way. Sookie realized then that it was the moments when Bill embraced the vampire in him that she was more attracted to him. She gasped at the realization and quickly spit the toothpaste into the sink. She hurried into the shower and quickly washed herself off.
How had it escaped her attention that it was the power and that little bit of a threat she felt when Bill would bare his fangs at her, wanting her to retreat so he could chase her that made her heart flutter wildly? Sookie had never thought about it before, but now the realization was slapping her in the face and refused to quiet down. What was that about?
“I am not a fangbanger,” Sookie said out loud to herself.
But was she? The thought was taunting her, and she couldn’t help but think about the things she had heard in the minds of the desperate humans that frequented Fangtasia. While it was true Sookie’s life didn’t revolve around when she could feed or sexually please a vampire, and she wouldn’t accept just any vampire in her bed, the dream she’d just woken from forced her to wonder if maybe she didn’t have more in common with the fangbangers than she originally thought. In her dream she had willingly, hungrily taken Eric’s blood when he offered it. It wasn’t just to heal her, but because she knew it would bring him excitement and pleasure.
Did that make her a fanbanger? Sookie pushed the thoughts away since she needed to concentrate on getting ready for work. She dressed when she got out of the shower, and ran down the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. No way was she could get productive at all without a steaming cup of caffeinated goodness. While the coffee brewed she fried herself an egg and made some toast. There wasn’t time to sit around and read the paper while she ate, and in fact, she stood at the kitchen counter to eat so that she wouldn’t take too much time or get lost in her thoughts. There was no time to wash the dishes so she just rinsed her plate and determined she would wash them when she got home.
Sookie grabbed her purse and keys, only to remember that her car was gone and she had returned Eric’s loaner to him the night before as she was rushing out the side door.
“Shit!” she shouted in frustration, and continued to walk around to the front of the house while digging her cell phone out from her purse.
She stopped short when she realized the BMW was right back where Eric had stopped it the night before when he drove her home. Yet another note was left under the windshield, and she raced to grab it.
While I appreciate your stubborn nature, you still need a ride to work and into Shreveport later. I’ll talk to Dawson to see what I can do about speeding up the process. For now the keys in the driver’s side wheel well.
Sookie sighed with relief, stuffed the note in her purse and began looking for the keys. She found them right where Eric said they would be, and let herself into the car. The engine purred to life and Sookie wasted no time speeding off to work. She arrived with about thirty seconds to spare, and as soon as she walked in she stopped in her tracks. A new girl was standing at the bar dressed in a Merlotte’s uniform, talking to Sam in a rather animated fashion. Sam’s last new hire hadn’t worked out so well, from what Sookie heard from Arlene, so she hoped this new one would be better.
“There she is!” Sam said when his eyes found Sookie. “Sook, this is Holly. Today’s her first day and I was hopin’ you’d be willin’ to train her and get her started on the regular routine.”
“Of course,” Sookie said as she approached the two of them. She extended her hand and said, “Sookie Stackhouse, pleased to meet you.”
“Holly Cleary, and it’s likewise,” Holly shook Sookie’s hand, and immediate Sookie could hear her thoughts.
Isn’t she just cute as a button? Seems like a nice girl. Got a pretty smile on her. Her energy is a little off-center, though. Maybe I can help her with that.
Sookie released Holly’s hand and wondered how it was possible her energy was off-center, but she figured it was best not to delve right into that. She excused herself and went on back to Sam’s office to put her things away. On her way back from the office she stopped to grab an apron, and was tying it around her waist while Sam went over the delivery schedule for food and liquor. The phone rang so Sookie reached out and grabbed it so Sam could keep on talking.
“Merlotte’s Bar and Grille,” she answered cheerfully.
“Sook, it’s me. Where’s Sam?” Tara demanded rather forcefully.
“Oh good morning, Tara, nice to hear your voice. You’re awfully pleasant today,” Sookie said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
There was a pause and then Tara said, “Sorry. I didn’t mean to be snappy with you. It’s important, though, so if Sam’s around I really need to talk to him.”
Sookie felt a little rejection over the fact that Tara didn’t even try to have a personal conversation with her before asking for Sam but she said, “Sure. Hang on just a second.” Sookie put the call on hold and then looked over at Sam, who nodded that he’d overheard her.
“Holly, why don’t you let Sookie give you the tour, and then she can show you the rest of the set up process for the lunch shift?” Sam suggested as he reached for the phone.
“Sure thing,” Holly nodded, and followed Sookie to the back. “So I hear you been here the longest?”
“Yes, I guess I have,” Sookie smiled. “I been here since the bar opened. It’s really a good place to work. The boys get a little rowdy sometimes, and it can get a bit hectic on Friday and Saturday nights, but it’s usually not too bad. The tips can be pretty good, and Sam’s a real fair boss.”
“That’s what Arlene told me,” Holly continued to smile.
“Have you waited tables before?” Sookie asked, and they paused outside the kitchen.
“Oh, heck yeah. I’ve had just about every small time job a girl can have. I got two kids at home and have divorced as many husbands. Somehow I always end up with the losers who can’t hold a job for very long. But that’s what us women do, right? We buck up, take up the slack and do what has to be done to survive,” Holly said with a far too cheerful demeanor.
“Right,” Sookie slapped on her emergency smile, and reached out to Holly’s mind again.
Wonder if she’s got any kids. Don’t see a ring on her finger. Arlene said she’s engaged to a vampire. Maybe it’s not too late to get her on our side. Vamps ain’t all evil, but why take the chance?
“So, Holly, what do you like to do for fun?” Sookie asked as they walked into the kitchen.
“Oh, I uh… well, I don’t really have too much time for fun with the kids and all, but I guess you could say I spend a lot of time practicing my religion,” Holly told her.
“Oh yeah? You know, the church has some nice singles dances on Saturdays if you’re interested,” Sookie mentioned, and Holly laughed nervously.
“I’m sure it does, but I’m not a Christian,” Holly revealed.
“No? Don’t take this the wrong way or anything, but that’s unusual around these parts,” Sookie whispered, her voice free of judgment.
“My religion is sort of unusual everywhere. I’m a Wiccan,” Holly told her.
“A Wiccan?” Sookie repeated. She’d heard the term before, but only on Buffy the Vampire Slayer back when she was a teenager and her swoony, romantic heart had a crush on Angel. “So you’re a witch?”
“Not a natural one, but I do practice magic,” Holly said.
“Oh,” Sookie slapped her emergency smile back on.
“Don’t worry, Sookie, I ain’t gonna curse ya or nothin’. Wicca ain’t like that. My religion teaches me that it’s wrong to put negative energy on others, and anytime I do it comes back on me threefold. I got enough trouble without pissin’ off the powers that be.”
“That’s good to hear,” Sookie said sincerely, but the next dip into Holly’s mind had her worried.
I keep tellin’ Marnie she’s gotta back off. Hope she listens before she does something to get us all killed.
“So do you practice in a… shoot, what’s it called? You know with other witches,” Sookie played dumb even though she knew what a coven was.
“A coven?” Holly supplied and Sookie nodded. “I do, as a matter of fact. We meet over in Shreveport every week. You know, if you think that’s something you might be interested in tryin’ out, you should come on by sometime. I’m sure Marnie would be delighted to have some fresh blood in our circle. You’ve got a powerful energy about ya.”
“Do I?” Sookie grinned.
“You do. You know, you should talk to Marnie anyway. She’s a medium, and I can tell there are spirits floatin’ around you. I ain’t got the same gift she’s got, but I can tell they’re there. I can give her a call if you want?” Holly offered, and even though it made Sookie nervous, she nodded her agreement.
“I’ve never met a medium before, but it would sure be nice to talk to my Gran. She was killed not too long ago,” Sookie said the latter bit sadly.
“Aww, I’m sorry to hear that, hon,” Holly put a hand on Sookie’s shoulder. “Tell you what? I’ll run outside right quick and give Marnie a call to let her know you’ll be stoppin’ by. Maybe a chat with your Gran will make you feel better.”
“That’s sweet of you Holly; I appreciate it,” Sookie nodded again.
“No trouble at all. I’ll be right back,” Holly promised, and disappeared out of the kitchen.
Sookie grabbed her cell phone from her pocket and sent a text to Eric with the new information.