Eric was quiet as we drove out of Merlotte’s, which was fine by me. I had too much in my head, what with the way Sam treated me and the way Bill talked about me. I knew they were mad, but their attitudes had been uncalled for. And, well, no matter what Bill had done, I was still going to worry about his safety tonight. How do you explain that to someone who no longer liked you?
“You’re quiet,” Eric said, bringing me out from my thoughts.
“It’s the thing with Bill,” I said before I could censor myself. I winced and opened my mouth to explain but Eric cut me off.
“I spoke to Queen Sophie-Anne,” he said, and left it at that. I wondered why his mind went that route instead of the house-burning-down-with-vampires-inside-it route, and then I realized that he didn’t care if the vampires had gotten in trouble and they were about to be burned along with their house. Eric cared about me. His mind had drifted to whatever issue involved Bill and ME, not Bill by himself. He didn’t care about Bill. I flushed quickly and hoped he couldn’t see it.
“Oh? And… um… what did the Queen say?” I asked, none too eloquently.
“Obviously she wasn’t pleased that Bill had neglected your safety, and she transferred the duties to me. She did so reluctantly until I told her you were mine.” Eric turned his head to glance at me, expecting me to balk, maybe.
“Are you in trouble?” I asked.
He frowned in a confused way. “Why would I be in trouble?”
I made a motion with my hands, but his confused face didn’t clear. We weren’t on the same wavelength. “You saying I’m yours means I’m your meal. The Queen wants to use me as her telepath, not as food for you.”
“I’ve never thought of you as my meal,” he said immediately. His tone told me he was mad I’d even thought to say that. “I thought we were past this point. You asked me to be yours too. Does that mean I’m your meal?” His voice was getting hot.
“No. I’m sorry I even considered it and I apologize.” My voice came out strong and sure, in keeping with my promise to myself that I was not going to push him away, or run away from him. I felt like hitting my forehead at that very moment. “Insert foot in mouth” barely covered my slip-up.
“Apology accepted. What I said to Bill was the truth, even if I don’t like to call you my girlfriend since it doesn’t sound mature enough. That is indeed the kind of relationship I want to have with you,” he said as he pulled onto the highway that would take us to Shreveport. Once the car was zipping along at a good pace, he was able to let go of the shifter and ask for my hand. I gave him my left hand, and he began stroking my wrist with his thumb. “I’m not in any trouble, you’re not in any danger, all is well,” Eric said, his voice soothing me.
“Thank you,” I said and squeezed his hand.
“Now tell me what is going on with your boss. Why is he so gruff with you?”
I shook my head. I didn’t really want to talk about it, but I knew I needed to talk about it with someone. Eric was the first one to ask. “I’m not sure, to tell you the truth. We had a date the night I got attacked, but it wasn’t even a serious thing, not on my part. After I came back to work…” I paused, letting the silence speak for itself. I took a deep breath, then another. “I think I might have to look for a new job,” I admitted in a whisper with a little bit of panic in my voice. Of all the things to change, switching jobs was one of the scariest.
Eric’s smile looked triumphant, and I knew I had to nip that thought in the bud. I knew exactly what he was going to say before he said it. “Come work for me.”
I smiled with him, simply because I couldn’t help it. I hated dashing his hopes. “Eric, I’m sorry. I can’t work at Fangtasia. Hearing what people think about you, all the sex, and alcohol, and…”
“Then don’t work there,” he interrupted me. “Work for me doing something else. Do you not realize what an amazing gift you have? I don’t understand why you sell yourself short. There are so many things you can do!” Eric was beyond excited, smiling ear to ear. Was this the person that had fallen in love with me? Once again the little pin in my heart reminded me of how awful I’d been to him. So far we’d been together for less than two weeks, and already I could see him, the real Eric.
“There are so many things I have to tell you,” I blurted out, thinking of the maenad, the witches, the curse… Rhodes, the death of Sophie-Anne and the horrible takeover that followed… my own beatings, abductions… torture. I wanted to spare us both from it all. I closed my eyes trying to drive the memories away, but had to open them back up and concentrate on something else. Eric’s face in the here and now offered a very nice distraction.
“So tell me,” he said and shrugged.
“Get ready to pay tribute to a daughter of Dionysus,” I said without preamble, sounding every bit like the Ancient Pythoness.
“Wait, what?” he turned to me with wide eyes. “A maenad? There haven’t been any sightings…” he paused, knowing better. “You’re never wrong, are you?”
“God! I hope I am!” I said, my censor failing me again. “If you don’t pay the right tribute she’ll come after me. It’s going to be painful, to say the least.”
Eric shook his head. “I can’t allow that. You’re mine to protect.” He was serious as a grave, no pun intended. “How do you see all this? Does it just come to you? Do you think that maybe you’re an oracle?”
“No,” I said too quickly and a smidge too loudly. His surprised face had me backtracking. “I mean, I don’t know. I’ve read about oracles and it seems like events are set in stone as they relate them. What I tell you about the future changes with the actions taken, until what I think will happen doesn’t come to pass.”
“Have you ever changed the outcome?”
“Yes,” I swallowed. Here it came. “Rene Lenier was supposed to kill my grandmother that night, even though I was his intended victim. If I had followed through with my original plans for the night, he would have killed her, but I changed things so that he would attack me instead.” My voice had come out as nothing but a whisper.
“You’re brave,” he said in a grave voice.
“I had no choice.”
“You did have a choice, and you chose the path of the brave. You’re also smart, calling upon me as backup,” he smiled, probably thinking of himself as an extra cop. His smile faded and he grimaced. “I want you to tell me immediately whenever you feel your life is threatened. I need to know.”
“And if something affects you?”
“Tell me,” he said. It was a command.
“How long does it take to write up a vampire marriage agreement?”
He thought about it. “An agreement could take at least a year, usually, why?”
“Do you know the Queen of Oklahoma?”
“I know of her. What does that have to do with me? I don’t want to marry a queen.”
“You might not, but your maker might want you to,” I said and withdrew my hand from his. Sure enough, he looked as if his eyes were about to become red hot lasers and shoot through the windshield.
“He released me,” he said, his voice hot. I said nothing. I’d done enough damage for one night. “What else do you know?” he demanded.
I knew I’d better answer. Quickly. “By the time you see your maker again it will be too late to undo the agreement and you will be bound to it.”
“The hell I will!”
I smiled and looked away. His anger was glorious, and inside the Corvette his anger was huge. More than that, I wanted him to be angry about it, to do something and stop it his marriage before it even got a chance to reach the agreement stage. I wanted him to ask me to marry him, to offer to do the knife ceremony properly. I wanted to hear him call me his wife, and this time I would call him my husband.
“I’m sorry, Sookie,” he said beside me, his voice still hot but the air around us settling. “I didn’t mean to yell. I didn’t mean to yell at you, least of all you.” I felt his cool finger on my arm, tracing a lazy route down to my hand. He took my hand in his again and brought it to his lips, kissing my fingers. Twice.
“I know,” I said. If there was anything Eric excelled at, it was his ability to keep his cool. He’d only been nasty with me once, and then he’d apologized as soon as I gave him the chance.
“Let’s forget about all that just for tonight. I missed you this past week. I don’t think I can go that long without you again,” he confessed and kissed my palm. I felt that kiss all the way down to my toes and up to my scalp. My whole body tingled.
“I don’t think I can either.” My own confession took me by surprise, not because I didn’t know that I missed him. I was never one to wear my heart on my sleeve, and that was exactly what I’d just done.
“What did you miss about me?” he asked, waggling his eyebrows, a slow smirk gracing his lips.
“I missed your football-stadium-sized ego and your very large head,” I deadpanned.
Eric burst out laughing, a thick belly laugh, one that would leave a human breathless. I could only contain my own laughter for a few seconds before I joined in. I’d missed his laugh so much. I wished I could have told him exactly what I missed about him. The thought sobered me up some. I was starting to feel happy again. Or was that happy for the first time? I wasn’t even sure anymore. It seemed like I had skipped along from happy peak to peak, with low vast valleys of sadness, aggravation, panic, fear… And some of those valleys had been carved by me. I could fix it now.
“What are we watching?” I asked, referring to the movie.
“There’s a new one with Bruce Willis, or an animated one about food from the sky or something.”
“Bruce Willis sounds good,” I said, trying to be fair and not subject him to a movie about food, much less with cartoons.
Eric smiled. “I don’t think I’ll be watching much of the movie,” he said in that deep sultry voice.
I blushed again, my heart picking up the pace and my lungs failing. I gathered up my courage to answer. I wanted to get back into flirting, but had very limited experience. “You’re not supposed to have your phone turned on inside the theatre, so you will have to watch the movie.” I knew what I was doing. I knew it well. I’d given him the perfect opening.
“My phone is not the only thing turned on right now,” he said, having to let go of my hand to downshift onto an exit ramp. We were almost to the theatre. I was almost wishing for a dark corner, even as I tried to keep things proper.
“Oh? What else is turned on?” I asked, keeping my voice innocent while my body started to warm up. I looked in Eric’s direction to see he was biting his lower lip, smiling and shaking his head. I reached up a tentative hand to his hair, caressing it and following it down to his shoulder. The coolness under his shirt was familiar. What was meant as a warning to keep away from vampires was actually a comfort to me. I remembered a quick succession of times when his cool skin had been pressed against me.
He was still feeling what I felt because he said, “Sookie, we might have to skip the movie altogether,” and shifted in his seat. My own lust had transferred.
I tried to hide my smile. “I’m sorry,” I said, not feeling sorry at all. Nor did I take my hand away.
“I don’t believe you’re sorry at all,” he accused, still smiling. I giggled as we parked in a spot far away from the main entrance to the theatre. “Say the word and we’ll go back to my place.” He turned in his seat and was staring at me with those blues full of plain desire.
“We’re already here,” I said, unable to look away. Without taking my eyes off him I undid my seatbelt and turned my body towards him, slipping my hand behind his neck and pulling him to me. My kiss started slow and a little shy, but then became demanding. Eric followed my lead, unbuckling and grabbing me. Somehow I ended up sprawled on top of him inside the cramped cabin. Our mouths were locked in a steamy kiss, and his hands were holding my waist tight.
I pulled away an inch, mostly to breathe. I simply couldn’t catch my breath through my nose. I needed my mouth back. The groaned that escaped me was in response to one of his hands finding its way over my butt and then dipping a little farther down. I let my head sag onto his shoulder.
“Say the word,” Eric mumbled. “I don’t mind waiting another twenty minutes so I can have you all to myself. I promise to bring you to the movies another day.”
My mind and my body started warring with each other big time. This wasn’t as simple as I thought. I thought I could put off being with Eric. What I hadn’t counted on was the fact that my heart would enter the war and throw its weight around, bullying my mind into agreeing to be taken to Eric’s. “Don’t you want to be his again?” my heart asked me, screaming. It felt like it would break if I didn’t give in. I nodded fiercely before saying a breathless “yes,” feeling Eric’s soft kisses on my cheek and neck.
He was as good as his word. We were at his house in twenty minutes flat. I was unimpressed, having seen it all before and having nothing better to look at than Eric. I took off my shoes as we entered the kitchen through the garage door, already knowing the rules. He toed off his shoes too, looking at me curiously.
“Did you read my mind?” he asked, a slow smile playing on his lips.
“No, I can’t. Why do you ask?”
“You took off your shoes before I said anything,” he explained.
I almost hit my forehead with the heel of my hand. Idiot! “Everything is white,” I said, pointing to the tiny bit of white carpet that could be seen from the kitchen, figuring it was a good enough explanation.
Eric didn’t care about my explanation. There was only one thing on his mind, and it wasn’t my feet. He did pick me up, though, and set my butt on the counter, settling between my legs. He caressed my face and hair, searching, memorizing. I crossed my legs behind him, pulling him closer, reaching for the hem of his shirt. While I was mesmerized by his eyes on my face, my fingers went in search of some bare skin. I found it right above the waistband of his jeans. He did the same to me, fiddling with my shirt, running his fingers over my waist. I pulled his shirt up, revealing more skin, running my hands over his middle, knowing every dip and curve of muscle and the softness of his skin, the hardness of his body.
As soon as his shirt came off, so did mine. “I’ve been wanting to feel your skin on mine… so warm…” he whispered in my ear, holding me tight. I held on to his neck as he walked to his ground bedroom, the one that was going to be ours.
The room was dark, so he set me down gently and went to turn on a lamp on “my” side of the bed, or the side I’d adopted eventually. I barely recognized the room. It was pristine. He definitely had never used it. It took me a little to get over the look.
“You don’t like it?” he asked, returning to me.
“This isn’t your room,” I said.
“It’s in my house, so it’s mine. But my bedroom is downstairs,” he said, and I could tell he was done talking. His eyes told me so. His hands were speaking loudly too, tugging at my jeans, undoing the button and fly. He slowly peeled them off me, and I was again captivated by him. I couldn’t look away or move.
I had to move, though. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake I’d made with Bill. I also didn’t want to push Eric away. It was a fine line that I was treading. I wanted him to know he was mine and I was his. I wanted to give him something. Proof. Love. The physical representation of what I felt and what he meant to me. Without having sex…
I pushed him down onto the bed, and his look of surprise was priceless. The point was that I knew his body, I knew it very well. I wanted to make love to it, make love to him. He didn’t know my body yet, barely knew me. I still felt I had to do this, just to give him something, something good from me. I unbuttoned his jeans, my hands trembling with anticipation. He wrapped his hands over mine and stopped me, taking over the task and even helping me by taking them off. His erection sprung to attention, still confined inside his boxer-briefs. I put my hand around it, stroking through the material.
Eric’s head fell back in bliss, a loud moan coming from his mouth. He took himself away, but only to get more comfortable on the bed. I followed, kneeling next to him, still holding on to his massive gracious plenty. I liked the name I’d come up with for his beautiful manhood. Who ever thought a penis could have beauty? But it was large, and it was proud, just like the man. A thing of beauty to behold.
He took off his underwear, which already sported a small bead of moisture. I licked the next droplet, making Eric hiss and twitch. His hand found my bottom and began a soft caress over my panties. I moved out of reach. This was not for me, this was for him. My treat, my gift to him. I wanted him inside me, but he would have to know my body was untouched. Tonight was not the right night for that revelation, I thought. It was the right night for this, for my kisses on him, for my mouth around him.
When I took the gracious plenty into my mouth, Eric howled and squirmed. I knew how he liked to be pleased (a little bit of teeth, playing with his balls), so I set to work. He kept trying to reach me as he moaned with each of my strokes, but I kept moving farther away. He finally settled for touching my hair. He didn’t grab it, he didn’t direct my head; he just caressed my hair in silent gratitude.
I worked on him steadily, and I knew he was close so I redoubled my efforts, making Eric buck and dig his heels into the mattress.
“I need to be inside you,” he said in a pant, but I chose not to listen. Instead I moaned my own satisfaction at seeing him writhe at my hands. Eric’s hand in my hair decided to grab it and stop me, pulling me off him as he sat up. He took my face in both his hands, taking deep breaths of the air around us, saturated with our mingled scents and our arousal.
“I need to be inside you,” he repeated. The need was etched on his face.
“Tonight is for you,” I said, giving voice to my wish.
“And I NEED to be inside you,” he growled it this time, pushing me back, or trying to. I pushed against him. He was not the kind to take me forcefully so he stopped.
“Let me give you what you need,” I said, pushing him back into the bed. He acquiesced with a groan, and sank back into the pillows.
“Let me touch you, please,” he said, almost desperate. “Please, Sookie! Your scent is driving me mad.”
I moved my body, unable to resist his plea, and knelt closer to him. I set back to work, licking and kissing trails all over that very large pleasure stick. He moaned, lifting my hips as if I weighed nothing so that I ended up straddling his shoulders. He pulled my panties to one side, his tongue making a cool path within me. A low purr of pleasure rumbled through him, and I realized it was because of my taste on his tongue.
I sucked him for all I was worth, and he returned the favor. It was hard to concentrate on his pleasure now that he’d taken over mine, so I pumped with both my mouth and hand in a steady rhythm that was easy to follow. His legs started twitching, a sure sign that he was getting close again. When he hummed into my center, I knew it was just around the bend. Sweet shivers ran through my body as I imagined us both coming together.
We started moaning in unison. The strange synchronicity was enormously arousing and I felt my orgasm build rapidly. I exploded into Eric’s mouth, screaming onto Eric who was still inside my mouth. He quickly bit my thigh, prolonging my bliss and bringing about his own. He drank my blood as he came, and I drank his cool offering, which tasted so much like his blood.
He was finally spent, and so was I. I was about to fall on his body just the way I was, when he sat up and got me, lying back down, tucking me into his side. This was my most favorite spot in the whole world. I wondered if he knew that.
“Sookie, that was phenomenal,” he declared. His voice sounded almost reverent.
“You too, Eric. Thank you,” I said and ran my hand over his chest. I couldn’t stop touching him, not that I wanted to stop, and he seemed to be enjoying it.
“You’re thanking me? Sookie, your taste is so sweet and you’re so beautiful. Plus your mouth is as delicious on my body as it is on my lips,” he growled low and pulled me up a little. I looked up and he bent his neck enough to kiss me slowly, savoring this union. I had missed this part most of all: the slow kisses, the cherishing, the feeling of being safe only in his arms.
He pulled away, looking intensely into my eyes. “Why won’t you let me be inside you?”
“I told you this was for you,” I answered, wanting to hide my true motives.
He saw right through me. “There’s more. Won’t you tell me?” He ran a finger from my temple to my chin. “Did someone hurt you?”
Oh, jeez! I wasn’t expecting that question. It made me flinch when I didn’t really want to. “It’s not that,” I said trying to save the moment. I would have to tell him the truth to keep the other part hidden, the part that I was not going to tell anybody, ever. “I haven’t been… I’m…” I couldn’t say I was a virgin. I knew it all! In my head! “My body is untouched,” I finally said, and that was the God’s honest truth.
Eric was silent for what seemed like a long, long time. For once I wished our bond was complete so I could at least gauge his emotions. Eventually, when he spoke, his deep voice cut through the quiet night like a hot knife through butter. But his words hurt me to the core, more like a knife through my heart. “You don’t want me to take that from you. You don’t really want me that way.”
“I want you, Eric,” I said quickly. My words stumbled upon themselves as I spoke rapidly, without censoring myself. “I want you so much it hurts and it’s scary. I don’t think you want me in the same way.”
I gasped at my own words and turned away, ready to bolt from the bed. Before I could sit up I felt Eric’s hand on my shoulder, pulling me back gently. I lay staring up at the ceiling, feeling exposed in more ways than just physical. He tried to pull my body again, to pull me into him, but I resisted and he didn’t want to hurt me. He shifted his weight, coming to me instead. He put one leg over mine, slowly covering my body with his. His hand circled the side of my neck, stroking my jaw softly with his thumb. I closed my eyes and let my hands do as they wished. They wished to touch him, love him. One hand caressed his arm, and the other found his shoulder, both knowing where to go even with my eyes closed.
“I want you, Sookie,” he whispered against my jaw and kissed it. He followed the first kiss with others all over my face, on my cheek, on my nose, on my closed eyelid, on my temple… One of his arms snuck under my body, bringing me closer to him, crushing me against him. I opened my eyes as his free hand continued caressing the right side of my face, sometimes smoothing my hair. He was making love to me. The realization was more than my heart could bear. His cool tongue caught a tear on my cheek. “Don’t cry, Sookie. Has nobody loved you before?”
I gave in and felt my body shake. “Yes, I was loved once,” by you, I wanted to say. God! This was torture!
“What happened?” he asked, his voice gentle.
“He died,” I sobbed. “He was killed in the most horrible way,” I felt my breath come in short spurts, remembering the night I almost lost Eric at the hands of Felipe De Castro. If it hadn’t been for the cluviel dor…
Eric put his hand on my chest and shushed me. “Breathe with me,” he said, but I was too far gone, hyperventilating as if all the bad things were happening again, all at the same time. “Sookie,” he said my name. I looked into his eyes. They looked clear blue in the light from the lamp. “Breathe with me,” he said again, modulating his breathing into something slow and deep. My breaths slowed to match his. The fact that he was holding me, here and real, was more calming than his calming touch.
“Your loss seems to follow you,” he murmured, searching my eyes.
Considering that I’d lost my grandmother twice and this trip into the past had been for nothing, he was right. Eric was the only good thing in all of this. I didn’t want to push him away, or scare him away.
“I’m sorry,” I said, wiping my face quickly.
He stopped my hands. “Don’t stop touching me, please,” he said, bringing one of my hands to his neck. My heart lurched inside my ribcage, trying to get at him apparently.
Eric licked the trails my tears had made on my face, where they had pooled at my neck, his tongue making a trail up my chin, following the rise and the dip right below my bottom lip, then across my mouth. I opened for him, accepting. He took and I gave, and I took from him too. He gave me comfort. He barely knew me and he gave me comfort.
“I’m not as brave as you think I am,” I murmured.
“It takes a brave person to show a weakness that could be exploited,” he said. If I didn’t know him so well, that sole statement would have me running for the hills. “But do not worry, my lover. I have the patience necessary to make you forget all others so that you’re only mine.”
I thought it was funny. He didn’t know that he was the one I always thought of. But I would let him try to make me forget the “other lover.”
Eric gave me a soft peck on the lips, and then we started a conversation. I had the feeling he was trying to distract himself enough to keep me in bed without him wanting to ravage me.
“So, about that job I offered you…” he started.
“You do realize that this,” I pointed between him and me, “is considered sleeping with the boss, if I do accept your offer.”
Eric smiled wide. “I do realize that. What you don’t realize is that nobody cares, and if they do I will make them not care.”
“I would rather nobody knew, then,” I said.
“Fair enough. You can start on Monday.”
“Eric…” I rolled my eyes. “I will listen to your offer, but I won’t accept it until you give me full disclosure.”
His eyes narrowed and he became pensive. “You ARE smart,” he muttered. “All right, here’s the deal. I need a new day person, someone who can…”
“Do what you can’t during the day, I get it. I don’t think I can work for you as a day person,” I said. I knew I was being stubborn, but I knew the things that Bobby Burnham had been made to do.
“Sookie, my dear one, you’re getting ahead of yourself. It is very hard for me to hire the right person for this job, as I cannot read minds.” He let the last statement hang in the air.
“So… you would want me to be your recruiter?”
“Yes! And not just for that position, but for all the positions currently available in all my businesses and Pam’s.”
“That doesn’t sound too bad…” I mumbled.
“It’s a steady job; you wouldn’t be surrounded by a myriad of minds, just a select few; you’d have your own office away from Fangtasia… And you would be close to me.” He hugged me closer against him.
“Enticing,” I said, running my hand over his arm. He’d never offered me this job before. Oh, right! I used to shut him down at every turn, why would he offer me a job with this sort of responsibility? For all he knew I’d have hired a member of the Fellowship of the Sun!
“Is there any way I can persuade you?” he asked, waggling his eyebrows and running a smooth finger over the edge of my bra. He had yet to see me fully naked. He didn’t let me answer, though. “Give me a second,” he said, getting up from the bed. It took him two seconds to go and come back. I didn’t say anything about taking twice as long to come back as he said he would. He walked to me in all his naked glory, his gracious plenty at half mast.
“Come here,” he said, helping me sit up. In a quick motion he had me clad in his shirt, the one he’d gone to get from the kitchen. He put on his underwear and then pulled me to stand up. “I owe you something,” he explained as we walked through the house, past the living room, to the den. He sat on the couch and pulled me to sit against him, making sure I reclined against him. He started fiddling around with about three remote controls and his home entertainment system came to life. “I owe you a movie.”
I smiled, falling in love with him again. I remembered how he was fascinated with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” while he stayed in my house. I wondered if compos mentis Eric liked the show. I’d never asked him.
“What are we watching?” I asked for the second time that night.
“I don’t know. What would you like?” he asked, showing me the choices available for instant viewing.
I don’t even know what movie we ended up watching because I became hyperaware of Eric’s body behind me, his soft caresses and gentle kisses. Once in a while I would feel a kiss on my hair, or he would run his fingers over my arm. I settled to enjoy this time with him, feeling as happy as I ever had for the first time in too long.
When he took me home our goodbye was bittersweet. Eric made sure to kiss me some more and extracted a promise from me that I would come by Fangtasia the next evening. Since I had the day off, I readily accepted.
“What is this?” Sam asked, eyeing the piece of paper in his hand.
“It is my resignation. It’s time for me to move on,” I said, my voice sure. My heart was beating fast and scared. I’d never written a letter of resignation before. I’d had help with this one from Mrs. Beck in the library, and she had even wished me luck. She thoroughly approved of my move, even if she hadn’t said anything out loud. Her exact thoughts were that I was too pretty and too smart to spend the rest of my days working at a bar. Of course, she probably knew me better than anyone, since she was the one who helped me with my reading choices.
Sam’s face blanched as he reread the letter. I hadn’t thought it would be that much of a shock. When I walked into Merlotte’s on my day off the first words out of his mouth had been, “What are you doing here?” and not in a nice tone. What had he expected me to do? It hurt me that he couldn’t get over whatever was holding him back. I remembered our friendship fondly, but I simply couldn’t stand his attitude anymore. He’d made my decision an easy one.
“You and I don’t work well together anymore,” I said. “I don’t know what happened, and I don’t want to know. I’ve found another job and I start a week from today. I’m sorry for the short notice, but I didn’t think you would mind, given the way you’ve been treating me lately.”
Sam sagged in his chair and closed his eyes. His brain pattern was pointing towards regret. It was too late, though. I needed to leave my old life behind before it dragged me down again. Working at Merlotte’s had been like living at my old house: a liability, a part of my life that drained me and didn’t let me grow. I couldn’t let it rule my days anymore. The inertia that had kept me tethered to a life I didn’t love was getting as old as moldy bread. I’d been given a second chance. Now that I knew what my first time around had been like, I didn’t feel the need to repeat it. As a matter of fact, my aversion to that life was becoming my new drive. To live larger and better… I was leaving my old car behind and taking out Eric’s Corvette, figuratively speaking.
I waited until Sam got over his shock, even though I wasn’t sure why he was so shocked to begin with. When I couldn’t stand the silence anymore I cleared my throat and sighed. Maybe he would come out of whatever mental halt he’d been dwelling in.
“I’m sorry, Sookie,” he said and closed his eyes. “I’ve been a jerk, and I’m sorry.” His voice came out in a whisper. “I’m so sorry.”
“I’m sorry too, Sam. It’s more than that, though. I think I would have left either way. But what you did…” I paused to pick my words carefully. “You drove me away sooner. I thought I had a friend in you, but I was wrong. I’m sorry about whatever I did to make you mad at me. I’ll see you tomorrow during my regular shift.”
I didn’t let him answer or add to the conversation. I left his office without stopping until I got in my car. I was nervous and elated, scared and happy. It was a strange emotion. I drove home to continue packing up my house, and for the first time I felt like I was in control of my life.