"Hey Sam, can I get my check before I take off tonight?" I asked as I poked my head into the office at Merlotte's Bar and Grille. Sam paused working on the schedule for next week to look up at me and run his hands through his hair, giving it a tousled I-don't-care look.
"Of course, Sookie. Come sit for a minute though, I want to talk to you." Oh, joy. Most of the time, I considered Sam to be one of my closest friends instead of my boss, but him wanting to talk normally wasn't a very good sign. I sighed and perched myself on the corner of his desk. As he turned to face me, he leaned back and the chair let out a loud squeal of protest that made me wince.
"Alrighty, boss, what's up?"
"I just wanted to check up and see how things are going for you. The vampires haven't stolen my best waitress for over a month now, and I was wondering if this is a permanent change, or what? Not that I'm not grateful that you aren't in mortal danger every day, I'm curious."
I had no idea how to answer him. What should I say? That even though I'm glad to not be risking my life, I feel discarded by those I helped and protected? That even though my life is a lot less complicated than it was six weeks ago, that it was exponentially more boring? "I don't know, Sam. You know as well as I do that the new king could come in here in five minutes and demand my 'services'. I'm glad of the vacation though."
"Okay, hon. You be careful going home tonight," he said as he dug my paycheck out of his desk and handed it to me. "If you need anything, just let me know, okay? Someone to talk to, a guard dog, anything, just let me know."
"Thanks, Sam. That means a lot to me." I hopped off the desk and leaned over to give him a hug. "I'll see you on Monday, boss."
I picked up my purse, fished my keys out, and headed out the back door to the employee parking lot. A month ago, I wouldn't have been surprised to see a vampire leaning on my car, waiting for me to get off work. As it was, I was comforted by the fact that there wasn't a vamp in sight, or in range of my 'gift'. I climbed into my new car - well, new to me, despite the fact I had run over a vampire in this very parking lot with it not very long ago - and started on my way home.
As I pulled up to my house, I was surprised to see someone sitting on the front porch swing. All the lights in the house were off, and Amelia and Octavia were visiting some spiritual retreat with some of the remaining New Orleans coven, so I knew it couldn't be one of them.
I had rescinded every invitation into my house that I had given any vampire, so I felt more secure approaching whoever it was from inside the house. I drove around back and did a mad dash inside. I turned on all the lights on my way to the front door, took a deep breath, and opened the door. What I saw let all the tension out of my body in one big whoosh. Unfortunately, my tension was quickly replaced by a feeling of dread, since this particular visitor, although not necessarily unwelcome, meant the end of my peace and quiet, which I was just getting used to.
"Miss Sookie, it's awful late for you to be out by yourself." Bubba took a swig out of his 'water' bottle and gave me his trademark crooked smile. He had on a black shirt, a pair of faded blue jeans and some black boots. His hair was slicked back casually, with a few strands escaping. No wonder people still lost it when they saw him.
"Hey, Bubba, it's been a while. What brings you out here?"
"Mr. Eric sent me." Oh, crap.
"Okay. It's getting cold out here. Why don't you come on in and tell me about it."
Bubba took another gulp from his bottle and stood up to come inside. I asked if he wanted a True Blood, and he shook his drink, saying he had his favorite already. "I still like cats an awful lot, Miss Sookie." Ick.
As he made himself comfortable on the couch, I ran into my room to change out of my work clothes. I pulled on a pair of sweats and an old t-shirt, then grabbed a soda and sat in an armchair facing him. "So Bubba, what's up?"
"Mr. Eric said that I was to come watch over you tonight."
Ooo-kay. "Any particular reason?"
"He said that wanted to make sure you were still in one piece, and since Mr. Bill is gone, I volunteered." He puffed out his chest and smiled with pride. "And he gave me this, too." Leaning forward, Bubba reached in his back pocket and pulled out an expensive-looking envelope, folded in half. He held it out to me and I reluctantly took it, glancing at the name on the front. Sookie. In Eric's handwriting. Oh, boy.
"Well, Miss Sookie, it's been real good catchin' up with you, but I gotta get to watching the house. I'm supposed to stay in the woods tonight." He stood up and walked out the front door, closing it behing him.
I looked at the letter I loosely held and sighed. Mentally bracing myself, I opened the envelope and pulled out the paper inside.
I hope this finds you well, my lover. It is time to discuss the matters between us. I understand that you have some time off from the shifter, and I ask that you be ready tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. to come speak with me.
I look forward to seeing you then, dear one.
P.S. Expect a parcel in the morning.
I could feel my anger rising at the note. Mr. High-and-Mighty Sheriff says it's time to talk, so I have to? The audacity of that man....ugh. But the more I thought about it, the anger was slowly replaced by a feeling of anticipation. I finally, finally, get to deal with this. I had been on the verge of calling Fangtasia a dozen times, only to hang up the phone each time. I knew he had been busy with the contingent of vampires from Las Vegas... wait, he has time, so that means the Vegas vamps are heading back to Nevada, if they aren't gone already. And at least I know Eric is safe, or else he couldn't have contacted me. I sighed and massaged my temples. Forget it, I'm going to bed and thinking about this in the morning.
I walked through the house and did my nightly checks, and then I checked again. Lights off, windows closed and locked, deadbolts thrown on the doors. Hey, a girl can never be too safe, right? Especially with my history. You can only be shot at so many times before you start being a little paranoid. As I laid down and pulled my comforter up to my shoulders, my last fleeting thought before I drifted into sleep was how happy I was that Bubba never met Bob the cat.