I closed the door and leaned against it. I slid slowly down to the floor. My legs simply refused to hold me up anymore. After everything that had happened, I was surprised that I had kept most of my sanity, but now the enormity of what I’d done hit me. The years of memories were still in my brain, but they had never happened at all. Was I in a different dimension? Everything seemed to be working as expected. I lowered my mental shields and found my grandmother’s brain shut down for the night. She was in the house, in her room, sleeping and safe. I had saved so many with that one wish. I had saved Eric’s life, Pam’s life, my life, Gran, Lafayette, Tina!
I used the door’s handle to lift myself up and opened it, stepping right back outside into the cool night air. I called Tina in a whisper, and she came bounding out from under the house. I would get in trouble with Gran, for sure, but I brought her inside the house with me, making my wobbly way to my bedroom after making sure the door was locked. I had missed Tina. She had been completely innocent and I had mourned her death deeply. A silent tear escaped me. Frankly I expected to be sobbing by this point. I snuggled her close and smelled her kitty scent. She purred, happy.
Tina curled up on my bed and I started changing my clothes with trembling hands. I wasn’t even sure about what to do next. I couldn’t remember whether I had to work the next day or at what time. I wasn’t sure of the exact date. I didn’t even have a handy cell phone to check.
I went to the bathroom and took a very quick shower, washing the makeup off my face while I was at it. I went through my bedtime routine mindful that things in the small hall bathroom looked odd and out of place because I hadn’t used it in so long. I ended up stubbing my toe again, this time on one of the claw feet of the tub. I swore under my breath. Before putting on my nightgown I examined my body. I had less freckles; there was no sign of the torture I had suffered; I was less lean than I had been lately, but not in a bad way. How many years did I go back? Two? Three? My brain was so befuddled that I decided to go to bed and see if I could get some sleep. Maybe in the morning things would be better.
In the morning things did not get better. I woke up to the smell of coffee and bacon, and I knew Gran was cooking. A new anxiety settled deep in my belly. I hadn’t seen Gran in years. I had missed her terribly, but I knew she was awake and going about her usual morning routines. The phone rang, she answered. My mind’s eye could see her so perfectly, perched on that old stool so she could talk to the caller.
Tina had settled herself near my waist and was purring up a storm. I petted her for a long time, gathering the courage to go see Gran. What would I say? What could I say? How should I say it? Should I tell her I knew about my fairy ancestry? How would she receive that news? And, if she took it well, she would ask me how I came by the knowledge. What would I say then? I really didn’t want to upset her. I wanted to make our reunion a nice one, even if I was the only one reuniting.
“I got to call Sam,” I muttered to Tina. She was the only one listening. I needed to find out what time was my shift and if I was even expected to come in. Surely I was, wasn’t I? I looked over at my hamper and it seemed empty. My clothes from the night before hadn’t quite made it all the way over.
With a lot of effort and my mind full of so many things, I started my day. I picked up my dirty clothes from the floor, double checking the emptiness of the hamper. I looked in my drawers to make sure I had uniforms to wear to work, and I did. I scampered off to the bathroom, with Tina at my heels, and did my business. I managed to miss the claw feet, so that was a bonus.
When I emerged and walked slowly to the kitchen. Gran was still on the phone, wearing her house dress and smiling at me, probably itching for me to tell her how my date had gone with Bill. Then it dawned on me: I could breach the subject of my fairy heritage by telling her that a very old vampire had asked me if I was part fairy. Gran knew that vampires had superior senses. I could make it sound like a joke, even.
I got some coffee and some food and sat at the table, not really listening to Gran’s conversation. I snuck some bacon to Tina at my feet. I was going to spoil that kitty rotten from now on, I knew it. Gran finished her conversation and joined me at the table. She had the paper splayed out in front of her. It didn’t even dawn on me to check the date on it. I kept sneaking glimpses of my grandmother, who looked just like I remembered her. It took a lot of effort to keep my cool in the face of this miracle.
“How was your date, sweetheart?” Gran asked, smiling. Her smile broke my heart. I had missed her so much. My throat closed up and I quickly grabbed my coffee. It would help me to keep from crying.
“It was great! We went to Shreveport,” I said, leading into the conversation about my fairy blood.
“What did you do there?” she asked good-naturedly but eyed me disapprovingly when I gave another piece of bacon to the cat. I was taking a page from Eric’s book: I’d ask for forgiveness rather than permission.
“We went to a vampire bar. They had music, but we talked most of the time, and he introduced me to a really old vampire,” I said. My heart did a little somersault thinking of Eric. I still loved the man very much and I would miss him terribly until I could figure out how to get us back together.
Now THAT would be a problem. I wasn’t sure how to lure Eric into being my boyfriend again, since what he liked most about me was the fact that I wasn’t easy to catch. But I could make it very easy for him now that I knew how much I cared for him. I could give into his charms so easily… He’d looked so good last night, wearing only boots, jeans and a vest, his hair down…
“What was he like?” Gran asked, bringing me out of my reverie.
“The really old vampire, what was he like? Are you alright? Did you have a lot to drink last night?”
“No, ma’am. I’m still a little sleepy, is all. The really old vampire… he was very tall, very muscular, with long blond hair and really pretty blue eyes. He was a little scary, though. Do you know what he said when he met me?” I asked her, leading into the question that would open the door to so much more.
Gran was really interested in my account. She was a history buff, after all. A really old vampire would be full of stories. “What did he say?”
“He asked me if I had a little bit of fairy in me,” I said and giggled, watching as Gran’s face started to lose color. Oh, no! I quickly rectified. I wasn’t supposed to know fairies were real. “I think he was coming on to me, even though Bill was right there,” I said, keeping my smile in place.
I ventured a peek into her mind. She knew I could read it, so whatever she was thinking would be easy for me to gather. Unfortunately her thoughts were chaotic. I found a lot of guilt, and a lot of images, but nothing concrete. I saw my grandfather Earl’s face over and over, but I also saw a beautiful man who must have been my real grandfather, Fintan. I wasn’t surprised, but I acted as if I was.
Gran sat up straight in her chair. I knew what was coming. She was getting defensive. God only knew what she thought I had read in her mind. My former self would not have been able to understand much from the chaos in her mind.
“I have things to do,” she said and got up. She put her cup in the sink and walked away. Before she left the kitchen she turned to me. “Don’t you have to go to work?” she asked. Once again, if I’d been my former self I would have found her behavior extremely odd.
I looked at her in confusion, trying to match the right emotion with the right expression. There were so many things I would have to hide from now on. I said, “Yes, ma’am,” and watched her walk away to her room. I picked at my breakfast, giving Tina a few more bits of bacon, and then decided to call Sam before I forgot.
“What time is my shift today?” I asked him, pretending I knew I was scheduled to work at all.
“Oh, um… I thought you always wrote it down in your little notebook,” he said. I’d done away with that little notebook a long time ago, so I’d completely forgotten it.
“I can’t find it anywhere,” I said. I hadn’t even looked for it. I could hear Sam breathing on the other line, moving.
“You’re off today, cher. You’re not scheduled until tomorrow at ten. But you can come in today if you want to and tell me about your date last night. I’m assuming you had a nice time?” he said like a question.
“Y-yeah… How do you know?” I asked. I needed to keep a diary! I couldn’t remember anything. Last night everything felt like déjà vu, like I’d lived the same night millions of times. Today was vague, foggy.
“Are you okay, Sookie? You came in last night all dressed up and picked up your paycheck, remember?” he said.
Oh, yeah! That was the night that Sam got really close and smelled me. That first impression hadn’t left me after all these years. It was explained later when he told me he was a shifter. It just went to show where my mind was at that particular moment. Thank goodness I’d remembered that I wasn’t supposed to know that Sam was a shifter. Plus it also reminded me that I needed to stop at the bank that day.
“Yeah, sorry,” I said and cringed, even though he couldn’t see me. “I’m just a little out of it today. It’s nothing that some more coffee won’t solve. I wish I could blame it on alcohol, but I only had one drink the whole night,” I explained, badly.
We hung up and I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. I really wanted to see Bill, but mostly because I wanted to see if he had come up with a way to help me with Rene Lenier. I stood in the middle of the kitchen and looked around me. This was the old kitchen. I hadn’t seen the old kitchen in a long time, with the inadequate amount of wall outlets and the really old appliances. I sighed and rubbed my forehead. There was so much to take in, so much to keep hidden. I’d watched enough sci-fi shows to know about messing with the future. Things didn’t always turn out the way you expected them. What if I ruined everything instead of fixing it? Surely I could save lives. That ought to be okay in God’s eyes. I would use this second chance for purely unselfish reasons. If the people I loved happened to spend some extra time on Earth as a result, then so be it.
But what about Eric? I had done this for him. I loved him more than I had thought I would be capable of, or the cluviel dor would not have worked. Just thinking about him and knowing we weren’t yet anything to each other was maddeningly sad. I was scared to simply show up at Fangtasia one night. He would think I was a fangbanger. I also had to remember that my current body was untouched. I had many decisions to make regarding that, and none of them involved Bill in any way… at least, I hoped not.
I was feeling confused and vulnerable as I washed dishes and went about my day. I decided to go to the bank and the library. I had no books to read at home and I needed to find something to keep me occupied. I was tempted to go to Merlotte’s, but the fact that Rene Lenier might show up gave me horrible anxiety. After all, the last time I’d seen him he was trying to kill me, and nearly succeeding. He’d killed my grandmother!
I was sitting at a table in the silent library, half hidden by a mountain of books I had gathered when I had a tiny fit of hyperventilation. I put my head down on the desk and calmed myself down by degrees. When I was finally calm enough, I decided I’d rather have these tiny fits in the privacy of my own bedroom. I checked out the books and drove home slowly, not bothering with the radio. Gran wasn’t home, she had left.
I took the opportunity to go upstairs to the attic. It was cluttered and full of dust, but I wanted to find out, NEEDED to find out if the cluviel dor was still inside that desk. I waded through the junk, shifting things and sneezing until I got to the desk. I had to shift more things to get to the small compartment where Gran had hidden the small love token. I found it easily and retrieved it, taking out the letter that had been attached to it. I didn’t linger up in the attic, in case Gran came back and found me rummaging in there. There was no good enough lie for my being in the attic.
Locked inside my room I examined the box. It was lackluster, the green looking almost gray and the golden rim looking like tarnished silver. I could no longer feel the fairy magic that had made me feel giddy when I’d first held it. I was sorry about that. I had really truly used it in an act of love. Now it was expended and lifeless. I hid it and the letter inside my nightstand.
This strange feeling was getting out of hand. It was as if my current state of inaction would bring things about easier and quicker. I felt like I needed to enlist more help, more strong people who would be on my side, to put a stop to Rene before he killed my Gran, my cat, and attempted to kill me. I couldn’t go to Eric, he would think I was nuts! We’d only met once. But I knew someone who was strong, who liked me, who could protect me even during the day. Sam.
With my new resolve I showered and put on a nice pair of jeans, a pretty pink shirt and pink sandals. I needed all the help I could get. I would feel guilty about it afterwards, using my feminine wiles to lure these men into helping me, but I could only use what I had.
There weren’t many people in Merlotte’s when I arrived. The lunch rush was over and the girls were cleaning tables and getting ready for the dinner rush in an hour or so. Arlene smiled up at me like nothing bad had ever happened between us. I gave her a shy smile, trying to remind myself that at this junction she hadn’t wanted to kill me yet, and I was still her friend.
“Where’s Sam?” I asked her.
“In his office, I think,” she said. I thanked her and went to Sam’s office. The door was ajar so I knocked softly before opening it. He’d been hunched over some paperwork on his desk but he turned around and greeted me with a surprised smile.
“Hey! To what do I owe the pleasure?” he asked and pointed to a chair next to the desk.
I closed the door behind me and sat down quickly, my heart hammering in my ears. I was about to do something that hadn’t gone over well already: I was going to show Sam I knew about him and about what he was. The first time he’d shown me I’d freaked out, which hadn’t been fair to him. I was trying to remember if he knew that I could read minds or not, but I would have to tell him anyway. Fair was fair. Then I would ask for his help. I recalled him asking me to read his mind anytime. I would have to trust all that had already happened.
“Do you have a few minutes? Can we talk?” I asked and swallowed the lump in my throat.
Sam got serious and curious. “Sure, what’s going on?”
“Remember you gave me permission to… look… at you?” I said and pointed to my temple. I was pretty sure we’d already had that talk in which he’d told me I was welcomed to read his mind. He nodded slowly, waiting for me to continue. “I can’t read your mind like I do others. It’s different,” I said and he arched an eyebrow but remained silent. I explained myself. “No two minds are alike, but I can tell what someone’s thinking easily enough. Not you. Why?”
Sam looked away and sagged in his chair. At least he didn’t become defensive like Gran had. He wanted to tell me what he was. He wanted to come clean with someone, I knew that much. Moreover, he liked me and wanted me to know him. I felt another lump in my throat. When he turned back to me he leaned forward and asked for my hand. I couldn’t very well refuse him now. When we touched it was like touching a furnace. He was so warm. His feelings, what little I could gather, were pointing to his desire for me and to his apprehension. He was going to tell me. I braced myself.
“I’m not… human,” he said tentatively and took a deep breath, waiting for my reaction.
“Okay,” I said, waiting for him to continue.
“A statement like that should have you running for the hills,” Sam said, barely containing a smile.
“Sam… I can read minds; I went on a date with a vampire. There are things in this world I may not understand, but I have no reason to run away from you.”
Sam’s smile widened. He seemed to gather his courage at the same time that he took a deep breath. “I’ve been meaning to tell you, but I didn’t know how,” he paused and said, “I’m a shifter,” inside a puff of air.
What was I supposed to ask now? I knew what a shifter was. How to ask without giving myself away? It’s not like I could start asking questions about his favorite form. I wasn’t supposed to know what a shifter was. “You can turn into something else?” I finally asked.
“Yes, into any animal,” he corrected, and then he told me all about shifting: the full moon imperative, imprinting on an animal, his preferred form. I listened as best I could, even though my mind was racing. “I’m also stronger than the average human and can heal real quick,” he added.
“Sam, I can’t tell you how touched I am that you decided to share this with me,” I said, meaning it from the bottom of my heart. He rolled his chair closer, our knees touching. He was still holding my hand, so I knew exactly what he wanted. I’d already kissed Bill the night before… I wasn’t about to kiss Sam too. I looked down and came clean. “There’s another reason I came to see you,” I said in a small voice. I was looking at my hand still in his.
“What’s that Sookie? Are you alright? Did the vampire hurt you last night?”
“What?” I looked up suddenly. He was starting to get angry. “No! Bill would never hurt me. Why did you think that?”
“You’ve been… never mind, Sookie. What’s wrong? You can tell me,” Sam said, but didn’t seem to calm down very easily.
“I think I know who killed Dawn, and I think he is coming after me next,” I said, scared. Would he believe me?
“Wait, what? Who? Why?” Sam was confused. In a way he was like a vampire: none of these men enjoyed being confused. They detested it.
“I heard Rene,” I began in a small voice, pointing at my temple again, “saying that I was a fangbanger whore.” It wasn’t true. I’d never read Rene’s thoughts like I should have. I continued anyway. I knew the truth was that he was a killer, so what I was saying was definitely not calumny (Word of the Day). “I saw Dawn in his mind, looking blue and about to die. I’m really scared. I asked Bill for help…” I said. If I knew one thing above all others was that those two men would try to outdo each other in keeping me safe. I felt bad about using them that way, but only about that.
“God! Sookie! I didn’t know. When did you find out?”
“Last night when I came to pick up my paycheck he hugged me. When somebody touches me I have to listen to their mind, whether I want to or not,” I said. In truth I had never suspected Rene of anything. Sam looked down at our hands but didn’t stop holding mine. “I don’t know how to tell the police. I don’t think they’ll believe me. Andy Bellefleur already thinks I’m crazy.”
“Honestly, Sookie, I’m not sure either. Other than catching him in the act of trying to harm you…” he trailed off, thinking. “I’d rather he didn’t get that close. He killed those women while having sex with them.”
I shivered involuntarily. “I know.”
“I’ll think of something, but you should not go anywhere alone until I can figure it out,” he said, squeezing my hand. I had no plans to be alone, so I didn’t balk at the suggestion.
I stood up. I’d already taken enough of Sam’s time. “Thank you for listening,” I said. He stood up too but never let go of my hand.
“You too, Sookie, and for not judging,” he said and pulled me closer. Uh-oh! I knew what was coming. I could see the heat in his eyes and feel how his body radiated with warmth. I was like a deer in the headlights, completely aware of what was coming but unable to move.
My brain took control of my body and quickly moved to give Sam a peck on his cheek. I retrieved my hand from his, smiled and left. I sat in my car for a few minutes gathering my wits, knowing this counted as being alone. I drove home, dashing for the house and noticing that Gran was already home.
I walked to the kitchen. She was moving about, making dinner. “Do you need help?” I asked, feeling apprehensive because of our conversation in the morning.
“Mr. Compton is coming tonight. Could you please make sure everything is clean in the parlor? I would like you to vacuum the main rug again,” she said curtly. Obviously she was in the defensive mood still.
“Yes, ma’am,” I said and set out to work. I didn’t know Bill had made arrangements to visit that night, but I knew he was going to speak to Gran’s club, the Descendants of the Glorious Dead. Maybe that was going to happen in the next few nights. I remembered that night very well. I’d gone to the meeting with Sam and listened to Bill’s talk. Then Sam and I had gone out for coffee. When I’d gotten home I’d found Gran lying in a pool of her own blood, dead. I let my tears fall as I vacuumed. I needed to stop Rene from killing Gran. Bill and Sam would have to help.
“Are you crying?” I heard Gran’s voice above the noise of the vacuum. I shut it off and quickly wiped my face with the heel of my hand.
“I was thinking of Dawn,” I said. These lies would put me in hell, surely.
Gran’s expression softened and she sat on the couch, patting the seat next to her. I sat and she put her arm around me. I tried very hard not to give in to my impulse to cry some more.
“You found her, didn’t you?” Gran asked. I nodded. “That must have been shocking. I’m sorry you had to see that,” she said. She was thinking of too many things at once and I wasn’t able to catch any of them. “Come, dinner is almost ready.”
We ate dinner in silence then I helped her make some peach tea. She was going to offer some to Bill. I hadn’t even thought of buying some True Blood. I’d apologize to him later. I waited for him on the porch swing, listening to the little night creatures become louder as the night got darker. I knew there was a predator in the woods when everything went quiet.
One moment I was sitting alone on the porch, the next Bill was sitting right next to me. He leaned over and kissed my cheek, his cool lips sending a chill through my body. I turned to him and saw his fangs starting to lengthen. I was sure he was thinking of our kiss the night before… or whatever else he wanted to do to me.
“Hi, Bill,” I said, not in the mood for his advances, but trying to keep it cordial.
“You look lovely, Sookie,” he said, even though I was still in my jeans and pink shirt.
“You look very nice yourself,” I said, and meant it. He had on a dark pair of jeans and a red plaid seersucker shirt. It was amazingly normal.
“Were you waiting for me?” he asked cocking an eyebrow.
“My appointment tonight is with your grandmother,” he pointed out.
“I know, but I’ve been very nervous about… well, honestly, I don’t know what you could have done last night to help me. It was pretty late already,” I said, not making a lot of sense.
Bill got me though. “I know you are nervous, but I won’t let any harm come to you.”
“I truly appreciate your concern, really, I do; but you can’t protect me during the day, Bill.” I swallowed and continued. “I asked Sam for help too,” I said. Bill, of course, knew exactly what Sam was.
Bill frowned but cleared his face off all emotion before he said, “I suppose that is wise. He can watch after you during the day.”
I turned to Bill, willing him to understand. “Look. Rene Lenier hates vampires. He HATES you, and anybody connected to you. If your friends ever came to Merlotte’s he would find a way to dispose of them,” I said, giving Bill a vague warning. “Believe me, he could find their day hiding place and he would burn it to the ground. That is the kind of person he is. Vampires are not people to him…”
“Am I a person to you?” Bill interrupted me.
“Yes, Bill, you are. But to that man I’m nothing, you’re nothing. He has no respect for any kind of life, and he won’t hesitate to kill you or me. I’m the easy target.” I was trying desperately to drive the point home.
“I believe you, Sookie. But I can’t just make him disappear. If you believe I’m a person then you have to know that he’s a person too,” Bill said, the voice of reason. He took the wind off my sails. How could he be so rational? “Don’t misunderstand me, Sookie. If he so much as lays a finger on you, he’s dead. But until he does, I cannot make him disappear. Do you understand?”
I nodded, deflated. Bill was making sense. Eric could make sense like this too. I missed him so much at that particular moment that my eyes betrayed me and shed a few tears. I was an emotional wreck! I needed to get a grip! “Let’s go inside. Gran is waiting for you,” I said and stood up.
Bill stood up and put his arms around me, hugging me close. He was new at this, but he was already good at soothing me. I took a deep breath, and his scent reminded me that he was a good friend. He had loved me, I knew he had. At this point in his life he didn’t know that his current actions would hurt me so deeply. I wanted to shout at him and hug him closer all at the same time. He’d been sent to procure me by whichever means, but he never counted on falling in love. I understood that. I hadn’t counted on falling in love either. Who does?
We joined Gran in the living room and she and Bill set everything up for the meeting that would take place in a couple of nights. Bill would speak about his time as a soldier in the Civil War, and the Descendants of the Glorious Dead would fawn over him. He would cement his status within the community and everyone would be happy. Then I would find my grandmother dead in the kitchen.
I walked Bill to the door but he took my hand and didn’t let go. “Walk with me?” he asked me. I agreed and we went for a walk outside.
“Nobody will harm you,” he said in his quiet voice. It sounded like he was part of the night.
“Thank you, Bill,” I said.
We stopped walking halfway between the road and the house. All I could see was the faint glow from Bill’s skin, unless I looked straight up and looked at the bright stars. He reached behind me and took the clip out of my hair. He handed it to my then ran his fingers through, bringing my hair forward over my shoulders. It had felt strange to have my hair long again. Strange but welcomed. Bill certainly had always been an admirer.
He caressed my hair, following a strand and grazing one of my breasts with a finger. I moved slightly back. I didn’t want my body to betray me, as it liked to do whenever Bill was around. He had no way of knowing that all our times together were ingrained in my brain, all of them bittersweet memories.
Bill closed the new gap between our bodies and held my face. Sure enough, my hormones and body betrayed me by giving in. I relaxed into his touch. It felt comfortable and familiar, and at that moment I needed it. I told myself it was only a kiss, nothing more, when his lips alighted on mine. I closed my eyes.
Visions of Eric making love to me floated up behind my eyelids like a movie. The way he’d called me his wife, and meant it. I’d never called him my husband and now I regretted it. Maybe if I had accepted it, maybe if I had done everything he’d asked of me… How come I never gave it to him? I had accused Quinn of not being able to put me first, yet I’d done the same to Eric. On the other hand, that last night together when I’d finally given in and done it Eric’s way, I’d been so happy in his arms. I’d felt so loved. I’d felt so cherished.
I opened my eyes and found myself kissing another man, and I couldn’t do it. I pushed against Bill, trying NOT to do it in a violent way, even though I just wanted to run away. Bill let me go with minimal effort on my part. He wanted me; I could see it plain as day. I could feel it too, against my lower abdomen.
“I’m… I’m sorry,” I said. “I’ve had a very bad day, I’m so sorry,” I explained. It wasn’t even a lie.
“I understand. Come, I’ll walk you back.” Bill was good. He took my hand and walked me back to my door, bidding me goodnight with a chaste kiss to my forehead.
I had two lunch shifts in a row. The first went on uneventfully and I was really glad that Rene Lenier hadn’t shown up with my brother Jason and Jason’s best friend Hoyt. When I got to Merlotte’s the second day, I went about my usual routine. It was Lafayette’s turn to do the lunch shift and the first time I’d seen him, so I gave him a huge hug. I had to save him too, I knew. There was no way I would let him die at the hands of those horrible people and in such a way. His big mouth should not have been a death sentence.
The bar got full at around eleven in the morning with the lunch rush, so I kept too busy to think much about my predicament. The only fly in my ointment was Detective Bellefleur. He seemed to want to tell me something, but when I approached he simply ordered something else. Eventually I let my guard down, only to find he was thinking very deliberately about yours truly in compromising positions. After everything I’d gone through, to have this man bully me in that way… let’s just say it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I went to get him a refill on his soda, and when I returned to his table he looked up at me expectantly. In his mind he was thinking of me frolicking with my brother. I remembered this. I remembered it so clearly it hit me. I was no longer sad or embarrassed. I was angry, beyond angry. I was livid and I exploded right then and there.
“Listen to me, Bellefleur! You better go out there and find whoever is killing those girls instead of playing dirty mind tricks with me! You make me sick!” I yelled and dumped his drink on him.
Sam was at my elbow immediately, looking from me to Andy. Andy was looking beyond sorry. Good thing, too, because if he had looked smug in any way, I was fit to deck him and been thrown in jail for assaulting a police officer. And I wouldn’t have cared. The tears were streaming down my face and I didn’t care who saw me.
“What the hell did you do to Sookie, Bellefleur?” Sam demanded, coming to my defense. I’d never been anything but nice to all my customers, so this outburst was not like me at all. At least Sam knew the reason.
“I’m sorry Sookie…” Andy began.
I interrupted. “It’s Miss Stackhouse to you, Andy Bellefleur!”
He opened his mouth a couple of times and finally settled on one expression: contrition. “I’m really sorry, Miss Stackhouse.”
“Go sit in somebody else’s area, please,” Sam said, keeping his voice even, but I could tell he was fuming. He was red as a tomato.
I was left to clean the spill, but at least Andy felt bad enough to leave me a big tip. The rest of my customers didn’t know exactly what had happened, but they knew me and knew Andy had been nasty to me. I may have been known as Crazy Sookie, but I was also known for being a good person and a nice barmaid.
Sam followed me into his office at the end of my shift. I took my purse from the drawer in his desk and he started fiddling with papers on his desk. I knew it was coming. I knew he was going to ask me out on the date. I even knew what my answer would be. I had come up with a plan.
“Is it true that Bill Compton is going to speak to the Descendants of the Glorious Dead tonight?” he asked without turning away from the paperwork on his desk.
“Yes he is.”
“Are you going?”
“I’m gonna help out Gran, plus you told me not to be alone so… yeah, I’m going with her,” I said and he finally turned to me.
“Can I help too?” he asked.
I smiled widely. Sam was going to get himself that date by whatever means possible, even if it meant carrying dishes and coffee urns.
“Maybe after the meeting you and I can grab a coffee,” Sam suggested.
My smile was still in place. Everything was going according to my plan. “I’d love that. Thank you. Will you meet us at my house at around six?”
Sam returned my smile. He was happy I had accepted his invitation so readily. “Sure will.”
I left Merlotte’s with a spring in my step. I could have felt guilty. I SHOULD have felt guilty, but all I felt was triumph: my plan was coming together, and there was no way that my grandmother would die that night.