Amelia opened the door and poked her head in. "Hey, sleepyhead. You got a delivery."
"M'kay. I'll be out in a few." She closed the door and I forced myself out of bed. My whole body ached. I guess that's what happens when you have more sex in three days than you have in the past year. I showered, towel dried my hair and threw on some sweats and a baggy t-shirt.
Amelia was waiting for me in the kitchen. She bounced over to me and gave me a big hug. "Sookie, I missed you. What's been going on while we were gone?" I mumbled something not-very-nice at her. "Oops, I know, no perkiness before coffee. My bad, Sook." She sat down and fidgeted impatiently, waiting for me to pour a cup and sit at the table before she started again. When Amelia was excited, she was more hyper than a terrier on crack.
"When did you get back, Amelia?"
"About ten. The retreat was so much fun, I learned a few new spells, and met some more people that live closer than New Orleans. And Tray called this morning and we have a date tonight. And you got some packages." So that's what she was excited about. She enjoyed me getting gifts almost more than I did. Amelia was one-of-a-kind, and that was a good thing. I love her like a sister, but I don't think the world could handle more than one of her.
I had two boxes. A large square and a long rectangular one. Talk about dejá vu. I opened the long one first, and it contained two dozen long-stemmed red roses. There was a note attached.
A rose for every hour of the day that I miss you when you are not in my arms.
I love you, Eric
I felt the warmth of a blush spread across my cheeks, and I smiled to myself. Amelia was beside herself. "Ohmigod, Sookie, are those from Eric? I knew the two of you would work things out! Aaww, I wonder if Tray will ever get me roses?" I made it a point to ignore her, because I knew she was just thinking out loud. I opened up the second box to find an outfit identical to the one Eric destroyed last night, except it was much finer quality. The sweater was cashmere, and the skirt was silk. Underneath that were at least twenty pairs of skimpy underwear. Red, blue, black, white, pink. Lacy, smooth, see-through. Boy-short, bikini, thong, and even a pair of...crotch-less? I blushed furiously and quickly covered up the offending garments with the skirt. I saw another note tucked in the corner of the box.
Lover, I hope you enjoy your presents. I know I will. Wear some for me tonight.
I could see the leer on his face when he was writing that. Well, if he wanted to buy panties specifically to rip off me, that was fine by me. Amelia said she was going to finish unpacking, and I was left alone with my thoughts. I drank my coffee and tried to think about Eric asking me to move in. It seems wrong to move in with him right now. I mean, we've officially been together for three days. And already he wants to buy me a car and have me move into his house. If I didn't know to expect that type of stuff from him, that would be seriously creepy. And we are bonded. Hm, he's big on negotiations and compromises, what can I do so he'll be satisfied without letting him buy me a car or move in?
Pondering that, I put the roses in a vase in the living room and I got ready for my shift at Merlotte's. I worked the split shift today, and even though I hated it, I was happy because I got off work at nine and I had all night to be with Eric. I decided on wearing a pair of lacy pink boy-shorts that he bought me. Luckily, I had a matching bra. I put on my uniform and headed to the bar. I would be a little early, but I didn't mind, and I knew Sam wouldn't either.
I walked in the employee's entrance and stopped in the office to put my purse in Sam's desk. He was leaned over some paperwork, and I interrupted his concentration when I came in. "Hey, boss. How's it going?"
"Fine, Sookie. You look better today. Did you have a good weekend?" His eyes ran over my neck and stopped at the edge of my shirt. One of Eric's fang marks was showing. "Oh. I guess you and Eric made up, huh?"
"Yeah, you could say that."
"Well, hon, you make sure he treats you right. You aren't some skanky fangbanger to be treated like a piece of meat. I'll stake him if he starts that stuff." I felt a jolt of pain when he said that.
"Oh, no, Sam. I appreciate the offer, or at least the thought behind it. But I doubt I'll ever be treated like 'some skanky fangbanger'. I'd stake his ass myself before I'd let that happen." He smiled when I said that.
"Point taken, Sookie. Just be careful with him. You know how vampires are." More than you know, Sam, more than you know.
"Okay, I'm off to work for the slave driver." He laughed. "I'll talk to you later, Sam." I gave him a peck on the cheek and went out front.
It was dead, just as I expected. One o'clock in the afternoon on a Monday isn't exactly the busiest time at a bar. Arlene was waiting on a table, and turned just enough to glare at me when I entered. I didn't even give it a second thought. She had completely changed since her sixth -or was it her seventh- 'soulmate' turned her onto The Fellowship of the Sun. Every time she walked by me, she made it a point to huff loudly, like she smelled something bad. I ignored it. If she was weak-willed enough to be drawn into that cult of wackos it was her own damn problem. I had enough issues of my own to deal with to be bothered with hers anymore.
I busied myself with refilling all the salt and pepper shakers and napkin holders. I wiped off all the tables and chairs, the bar and all the stools. I even took the time to face all the liquor bottles and clean all the taps. The only person to come in was Jane Bodehouse, our resident alcoholic. I poured her drink, took her money, and went back to the storeroom to get a few more bar towels for Sam.
When I came back out front, Claudine was sitting at the bar, looking fabulous as usual. Her hair was down and fell almost down to her butt. She had on a turquoise sweater and a chocolate colored asymetrical skirt. She also was wearing stilettos that added about five inches to her already considerable height. I broke into a wide smile when I saw her and ran up to give her a hug. Then I remembered I was supposed to be upset with her.
"Claudine, why didn't you tell me Claude got a contract? I found a romance novel with my picture on it the other day!"
"Actually, dear, that's what I was here to tell you. He just got signed last month, and he only told me about the book last week. I figured with everything else going on in your life, you didn't need to worry about it."
"My life hasn't been squat except for work until a few days ago." I blushed, remembering my date.
"Oh my, come, sit, spill." I followed her to one of the tables in my section, noticing that with her shoes she was taller than Eric, and that was saying something. We dished about my weekend, about how her and Claude were doing, and just enjoyed each others company.
I got up twice to refill Jane's drink, but other than that, I didn't have a single customer. Sam came out to say hi to Claudine, but seeing all my work was done, plus some extra, he didn't say anything about me talking for so long. Arlene kept giving me dirty looks, so I indulged my evil side and smiled at her while I took a sip of my soda. She turned red and went back to working. Claudine left around 4:30, and about half an hour later, people started coming in.
I served burgers and beer and did it with a genuine smile on my face. My shields were up and everyone's thoughts were just a gentle buzz in the background. Only twice did I actually pay attention to the buzzing. Once when Arlene got close enough to me to see my fang marks, she practically screamed in my head that I was damned and a slut and blah blah blah. Arlene calling someone else a slut is truly the pot calling the kettle black.
The other time I paid attention is when a blank spot appeared. It was only likely to be one of two vampires, and one I knew was out of town until next week. Lo and behold, in walked Eric. He caught my eye and smiled. I blushed, and I felt desire run across the bond.
To my surprise, instead of taking a seat in my section, he walked up to the bar and spoke to Sam. Sam's eyes widened, and he motioned for Terry Bellefleur to take over bartending. Terry wasn't working tonight, but he was in a good enough mood to oblige Sam for a little while. Sam and Eric stepped in the back as Terry took over the bar like he had been there all night.
A little while later, they came back out and Eric took a seat at my section. He ordered an O negative, and when I asked what he wanted with Sam, he promised to tell me after I got off. I went behind the bar to heat up his blood and I asked Sam the same thing. He just shook his head as if to say it wasn't important and kept serving drinks. At least I had Eric's promise to tell me later.
I worked the rest of my shift like a madwoman, and I refreshed Eric's drink twice. When I got off, I went out to my car and he was waiting for me. He hugged me and inhaled deeply. "You smell delectable, lover."
"Claudine was in earlier. I sat with her for a while." His fangs ran out when I told him that. "Never mind that, what was all that business with you and Sam?"
He tensed up. "I was warning him about the new drug. I know that the redhead that works here is attached to the Fellowship, and that vampires drink here." I sensed there was something else, so I crossed my arms and waited. "And... I also asked him to give you some time off." I was enraged.
"Eric, how dare you! We start seeing each other and all of a sudden you want me to move in, and buy me a car, and work for you, and now you're trying to get me to come away from my job for whatever reason? I thought you knew me better than that, Eric Northman!" He looked at me without expression.
"Felicia is dead."
I sat at my kitchen table and watched Eric. We had driven to my house separately and I warmed him up some blood to drink while I changed. He was deep in thought, unmoving. If I didn't know better, I would have thought he was having some downtime. "So what happened?"
He looked up at me and then back down to his bottle. "After we left someone slipped something into Felicia's favorite girl's drink. She closed down the bar, and they went out in the alley. When the owner of the dry cleaners next door came in to work this morning, he found the girl laying there and what was left of Felicia disintegrating. He called 911 and now the girl is in the hospital in Shreveport, in a coma. They are trying analyze whatever is in her system, but that could take a while."
"That's horrible! Was Felicia staked or did the stuff kill her outright?"
"I do not know. There was no stake at the scene, but that does not mean that one was not used."
"What does this mean for Fangtasia?"
"I honestly do not know, Sookie. If this cannot be resolved... I might have to close down." I felt his misery at that. Fangtasia was Eric's baby. And to tell the truth, I couldn't imagine it not being there. The thought of him not being able to sit in his booth and be king of his own little domain sent a pang of hurt through me.
"What can I do, Eric? I don't want to see the bar closed. Anything, just ask me." I reached across the table and held his hand. He absently stroked the back of my hand with his thumb.
"I got you a temporary reprieve from working for the shi- ...for Sam." I raised my eyebrows at that. He never called Sam by his name. "He understands the severity of this situation. If the Fellowship manages to drive vampires back into obscurity, what will happen to the Weres and shifters when they go public? I do not particularly care for their issues, nor do they care for vampire problems, but the Fellowship of the Sun has become a thorn in many supernatural sides, and something must be done to stop them. With this new drug, they are going out of their way to harm fellow humans because of their different beliefs.
"To answer your question, I would like you to accompany me to the bar from opening to closing daily, until we get a lead on this. Starting tomorrow, Fangtasia's hours will be restricted. You have been given a leave of absence until further notice. Sam's only stipulation is that we keep him informed, which is no hardship. You will be compensated for time spent away from your job, and you will immediately be placed on our payroll, according you all the benefits of working under me." He smiled a bit at that.
"I would still be waitressing though, right? Or would I just be arm candy?"
"Waitressing, However, I reserve the right to claim you as 'arm candy' when I deem it necessary." He genuinely smiled at me. "I would also like to suggest that you stay with me for the duration. I do not believe your car would survive very long going back and forth to Shreveport so often, and I would prefer not to spend half of my night driving."
I wanted to argue with him, but I could see he was right. My Malibu was almost ten years old, and Shreveport was an hour away. And even though it was only a twenty minute drive when Eric was behind the wheel, it wasn't fair to make him chauffeur me around because I couldn't suck it up and stay with my boyfriend for a couple weeks.
"Alright, Eric. Let me go pack." He looked shocked. I guess he was prepared to fight me on it. Jeez, how hard am I to get along with? I really need an attitude adjustment if everyone thinks I'm going to fight them tooth and nail for everything. "Oh, shoot. I never got new luggage after Rhodes." I would have asked Amelia to let me borrow hers, but she was out with Tray, and I didn't want to bother her.
Apparently, Eric thought I was trying to make an excuse to not come with him. "Oh no, lover. You agreed and you are coming. Let me take care of this." And with that, he grabbed my hand and pulled me out the door, barely giving me time to lock up. I slid into his Corvette -I was beginning to love this car- and he drove to the 24-hour WalMart a couple towns over.
He picked up the biggest set of luggage they carried and bought it for me. When we walked back outside, a few people had stopped to gawk at his car. I had to laugh. It wasn't often, or ever, that you saw a brand new Corvette parked in front of a WalMart. Eric growled at the teenagers and they scattered. He threw the bags in the trunk, and when we got back to my house, he sat on my bed while I packed just about everything in my room.
I wrote a note for my roommate while Eric carried my stuff to his car.
Something came up and I'm staying with Eric for a couple weeks. If you need to get a hold of me, I have my cell. I'll keep in touch.
Eric was almost giddy when we reached his house. He refused to let me carry a single thing, floated up the stairs (literally), and he had such a huge smile on his face that I thought it would get stuck. It was without a doubt the most ludicrous thing I have ever seen, even though it was beyond touching that he was so happy to have me staying with him. I never, not in a million years, would have ever thought that a vampire could act like a schoolgirl high on PixieStix, but Eric proved me wrong.
We cuddled on the couch and watched 'Gone With the Wind'. We talked and laughed and made love. When we finally made it to his day room, I was exhausted. Eric wrapped his arms around me and held me close while I drifted to sleep.