(A/N): Thank you! I’m so over the moon by the response this story has received. I hope I can continue to delight with this…
Disclaimer: I do not own the Southern Vampires Mysteries by Charlaine Harris or HBO’s True Blood, created by Alan Ball. However, this story and the AU/OOC I’m playing with are mine. 🙂
“Sookie dear, what a wonderful surprise. Is everything okay?” Gran asked from the doorway before stepping out and enfolding me in her firm embrace.
Gran smelled of vanilla and peonies. The light fragrance I loved and would recognize anywhere.
“I think so. It’s just, well, I got a strange feeling that someone was watching me just now but,” I shrugged when she pulled back to examine me. “I guess it was nothing.” I looked back over my shoulders toward the woods.
“Hm,” Gran pursed her lips, not believing that was the end of my tale. “Well, you are sure to freeze your tush off out here, come on in and warm up by the fire. I made turkey pot pie.” Gran moved to my side and we walked arm in arm inside her warm home.
My Gran, always ready to feed anyone who walked through the door. It wasn’t even a question, you sat at the kitchen table and ate her food…or else.
I sat as Gran busied herself around the kitchen. Filling me in on the gossip around town and the arrival of Bill Compton and of course, more of the talk of him turning his family’s historical homestead into a gothic style castle.
“I swear, some folks have rocks for brains.” Gran rolled her eyes.
I giggled, that was the perfect description of Bill Compton. Fir him to a tee. Before I could fill Gran in on my evening with her neighbor we heard Aunt Linda pulling up the drive.
Good, now I only have to tell this story once. Truth be told, Gran had a knack of filling in people of the goings on.
Gossip it was called, although my Gran would simply shrug unapologetically and say, it was news.
“Sookie, my darling. Love that jacket on you.” Linda said cheerfully as she walked in the kitchen with open arms. I smiled wide back, stood and walked into her fierce hug.
“Not looking too bad yourself, Linda. Did you find another man to string along?” I giggled.
Linda had never married, she was perfectly content on having a temporary relationship when it suited her needs. Nothing more. This little quirk of Linda’s drove my Gran crazy for many years before she finally concluded that Linda was going to do exactly what made her happy. Mother and daughter had learned to accept each other and because of that, they were best friends.
Linda’s eyes twinkled mischievously. “I saw Sam Merlotte tonight, poor man.” Linda chuckled. “He needs a woman, stat. It’s not right for a man to be alone after the age of thirty-five. They are simply unable to be more than menaces to society.”
“And women aren’t?” I teased.
She scoffed and Gran laughed from the kitchen sink. Linda walked over to give her mama a kiss on the cheek.
“Hey, mama.” Linda walked over to the table and we sat waiting for Gran to join us.
“Women will always be menaces to society. Men’s presence makes no difference in my book.”
We all giggled. Gran served the flaky pot pies and as we ate, I filled them in on my night with Bill Compton.
Linda drank her tea, absorbed every detail before she finally said, “What a psycho. Do we need to start sleeping with mace and a shotgun under out pillows?”
“Like you need a new excuse to assault an asshole.” I said before sipping my hot tea.
“No, it was just strange. Then just before I got inside Gran’s house tonight I had the feeling of someone watching me. But I might have been still shaken from his behavior when I left Bill’s place.” I said. Although a big part of me denied that. I had a way of picking up on things that were not apparent to others. I had known for years that I was some sort of empath.
“Maybe,” Linda tapped her finger on her tea-cup. “Daddy always said that your first feeling is the right one. Especially your feelings Sookie. Don’t downplay them.” Linda scolded.
“You’re right, either way. I won’t be going over there alone anymore. I’ll make sure to bring in the big guns.” I grinned wide.
“Oh Shit, not Tara Mae!” Linda shouted.
“Language!” Gran smacked Linda’s forearm with her spoon.
“Mama, you know how that girl is. I want video, Sookie darling.” Linda asked, sweet as could be.
“I should have named you Trouble, not Linda after my favorite aunt!” Gran huffed at her daughter as I stood from the table to pick up the now empty plates.
As I cleaned the supper dished in the sink, talk turned to Gran’s home and getting her Christmas decorations out.
Jason’s truck pulled up, carrying Gran’s fresh Christmas tree. She loved the clean smell, fresh from the forest filling her home with scents of the season ahead.
“Merry Christmas!” Jason exclaimed with wide arms after he opened the back door. A large Blue Spruce tree rested on the side of the house.
“Well bless my soul, Jason love! Did you bring me a Christmas tree?” Gran ran over and pulled Jason and tree inside. My Gran had some strength to her that was disarming at times.
Jason hugged her back, then picked her up. She hollered for her only grandson to put her down.
“Course I did. Set the stand up and everything. Just need to give the old girl a good drink once you tell me where you want her.” Jason said. His devotion to our family was a beautiful thing to see. Maybe one day he would settle down and lavish a girl with the same adoration.
My brother was handsome in that good-old-boy-athlete way. He had the same hay colored hair and smoky blue eyes that I did. A gift from our Daddy. Linda also matched us in the looks department.
“And where is my tree, Jason Stackhouse?” Aunt Linda rose from her chair, hands on her hips and tapped her foot impatiently. Jason was not deterred from her stance and gave his mega-watt smile before answering.
“In your living room in front of the big window. I figured you wanted the lights to shine out when you sit on your porch. And before you start, woman. That beautiful Blue is all set up the same way as this old gal.” Jason thumbed behind him toward Gran’s twine wrapped tree.
“If you hadn’t been so busy tying Sam Merlotte in knots tonight at the bar, you would’ve been home when I stopped by.” Jason reprimanded, then laughed out loud as he rushed to pick Linda up. Spinning her around while she hit his shoulder in protest.
Those two were one of a kind. Neither were looking to settle down anytime soon, happily playing the field. Or teasing it, whatever Linda was doing with Sam was fine by me. He was nice enough as a vendor to work with, but something about him was always off.
Remembering what Linda had said about my first feeling being the correct one, I vowed to myself to follow that instinct from now on.
“Forgiven, forgiven.” Linda snickered as Jason set her back down on the hard wood floor.
“Hey Sook,” Jason came over and hugged me. “I have another tree in my truck. You on your way home?”
“Yeah, you don’t mind the drive?” I asked.
“Not at all, but let’s get a move on. Looks like that Maudette’s Bachelorette party is going to have a lot more clean up than anticipated tonight.” Jason grimaced.
Maudette was the town bicycle before she tagged an older businessman to wed. Lawrence Doubt was nice enough, but it seemed to me that he was tired of being alone. Settling for a younger woman who will probably step out on you when she got bored was not my idea of a happily ever after. But, whatever floats your boat.
I was going to marry for love. Not tediousness or the fear of being alone. At least, I hoped I would find someone worth a date, forget about, ‘I do’.
I laughed at Jason’s frown. He also worked the family business, Occasions. He handled the accounts who demanded a man’s touch. Like single women looking for a night of crazy. Jason could always deliver and luckily I was never able to hear the details from the women minds. Although the goofy jealous feelings were enough to fill me in on what went down.
I kissed everyone farewell and quickly climbed back into my jeep. Jason followed me home in his truck. I smiled as I listened to the sounds of the highway. A Christmas tree in my home covered in my hand-picked decorations. I couldn’t wait to spend and evening drinking wine in front of my fireplace and gazing at the glowing tree.
Depending, of course, on when I could get the final projections done for Bill-the-weirdo-Compton.
Another long work day of setting up dates and times for vendors. Confirming the upcoming Christmas parties and even one baby shower on the 23rd. I locked the door to the office and strolled over to my now lone parked Jeep in the lot.
Lists played in my mind as I drove. Groceries to buy, laundry to do, gifts to be wrapped. One more week til Christmas Eve and most everything with respect to the parties were set to go.
After the cast iron gate shut, I drove past a few neighbors before pulling up to my condo. A fabulous feature of the development was that I had no lawn care to handle. I was free to ignore the Colonial Revival exterior of the complex instead of stressing about weeds after a long day at work.
Since my garage was filled with decorations in varies stages of ready for the upcoming events, I parked in the driveway. Not something I would normally do on such a dark evening, but it couldn’t be helped lately with the sheer number of events planned. What I needed to do was rent a larger warehouse for our props. Until then, my garage seemed to be the catch all.
Large holly leaves and bright red berries made from thick paper were stacked neatly. Ready to be hung indoors on banisters and over archways. Making a normal event seen larger than life. Silver bells of varying size and fairy lights were rolled meticulously. Each décor item was packaged and marked with where and when it would be used next week.
Admittedly, I was a tad OCD. But I figured that in my line of work the disability paid off in the long run, so I went with it. No use in fighting my quirky nature.
I hit the key fob to lock up my jeep with a beep and a wink from the lights. Walking to my front door, I felt the hairs on my neck stand to attention. A chill ran straight up my spine, halting my steps.
Someone was here.
I looked around casually as I could as I double timed it to my front door.
I jumped ten feet in the air, my keys fell on the concrete front step of my entry. Fumbling to pick them up I realized the vibration was my phone in my pocket.
Just a text.
I sighed and unlocked the door. Ducking inside, I exhaled a long breath as I shut and locked the large heavy door. Leaning against the rich wood, I flicked up the switch to allow another light to shine in the entryway. I was panting as I wiped my wrist over my forehead.
“Calm down, you just freaked yourself out for no reason.” I told myself.
“Meow.” Tina agreed with me. She rubbed up next to my leg and purred. Her head seeking more attention. I scratched behind her ears as a reward. We girls needed to rely on each other after all.
“Time to eat Tina-beana. Did you scrub the tub and empty the dishwasher like I asked?” I questioned my adorable cat. “You need to start earning your keep around here.”
“Meow.” Tina responded.
“Excellent. You make mommy very happy.” I praised her as flicked on another light. Illuminating the white and gray tiled kitchen. I opened a cupboard and reached in for a can of her expensive cat food. After getting some of it into her dish, a starving Tina was on the counter pushing at my hand with her head to get the food she desired.
“Calm down girl, you’ll get everything you want.” I smiled. I was just there to make sure she had food and a clean litter box. But at least, I didn’t have to arrive home late alone.
Shrugging off my coat, I hung it in the coat closet and retrieved my phone from the coat pocket. I groaned loudly at the sender, it was none other than Bill-the-freak-Compton. This man was so annoying and getting on my last nerve. I walked back into the kitchen to check on Tina’s dinner progress.
Finished and waiting for more. She must have been starving as I forked the rest of the food into her bowl.
I had received numerous bouquets and calls to apologize for his prior behavior from our first meeting. Requests for dinner which I easily refused, and two boxed seat tickets for an opera in New Orleans.
All politely declined with a parting message that I did not mix business and my personal life. And most definitely not for him.
Now, another late and inappropriate text. What would he say this time?
From Bill Compton:
“Miss Stackhouse, when I reviewed the guest list I noticed that YOU had yet to RSVP. I would very much enjoy introducing you to my clients the night of my party. Most of my acquaintances are wealthy beyond their years and plan to hold similar events. I am confident that you could double your business from one meeting. Formal dress, of course. See you at 6 P.M.”
“This man is insufferable!” I leaned against the counter as I re-read his text. I never attended an event as a guest. There was no point when I had attended in the past. I found most parties lacked good conversation. I was happy being the person behind the scenes.
Another buzz sounded as I was typing out my polite response to Bill of, no fucking way!
From Bill Compton:
“I have already passed your information around to my inner circle. Many of my colleagues are dying to meet you that evening.”
“Well shit. Now I have to go, Tina.”
“Thanks for the advice you little white fur ball. Eat the rest of your dinner.” I said.
From Sookie Stackhouse:
“Mr. Compton, Thank you for the invite. Since you have already shared the information I will attend your event on the 24th.”
I set my phone down on the granite countertop and stared out through the sliding glass door to my cozy backyard. My infinity pool filled most of the space in my tiny backyard.
A swim in the warm saltwater would be good to work of my aggression to this no-win situation. I could have said no. But this was the business that would suffer, with my non-attendance. At least, this time, I would not be alone with Bill and I would have Tara there as my imposing shadow.
I flicked off the lights in the kitchen and smiled as I passed my beautifully lit Christmas tree in the living room. I love the quiet time I allow myself to turn on Christmas carols and set out my boxes and boxes of decor. Carefully picking the blue, white and silver theme for my tree.
Heading upstairs toward the master suite I started peeling off clothes and stepping out of my heels. Tonight I was going to soak in a long hot bath. As company a large bottle of Pinot Noir and the romance novel that had sat by my bed untouched for well over a week.