It had started out just like any other day of my life. I was rushing around, trying to find my keys… AGAIN. I was cursing myself for not actually using the rack Gran had gotten specifically for that reason.
I finally found them after retracing my steps… in the fridge? Really?
I went about my job, making sure everyone had whatever they needed. I was a waitress at Merlotte’s, the only bar and grill we had in our small town. Well, the only good one anyway. The other place in town was in trouble with DHEC… often. Yuck.
I liked my job, and it allowed me to help Gran with the house, even though she always fussed about it. My mind flashed back to our usual argument.
“That’s your money, Sookie.”
“I know, Gran, but I live here too and I’m gonna help whether you like it or not. You’re too stubborn to let me help with the bills, so you’ll just have to live with the repairs I’m able to get done.”
She would always pull me into a hug – every time we had this conversation. “You’re a good girl, Sookie. And it seems I’m not the only one around here who has a stubborn streak.” I’d laugh as she winked at me. Gran was everything to me… my grandparent, parent, counselor, and best friend.
I was at the bar getting some drink orders taken care of when my older brother came in. It was late afternoon, so he must’ve just gotten off work. His buddies went over to a booth as Jason made his way to me.
“Hey, Sook.” He leaned behind the bar to give me a quick hug. “How you doin’?”
“I’m just peachy, Jas… you?”
“Pretty good. We just finished up that road over by the sheriff’s office early, so we’re gonna unwind a little.”
“That’s great. You want a pitcher of the usual?”
“Yeah, sounds good.” He turned to go to his friends, but stopped. “Oh, how’s Gran?”
“She’s stubborn as ever, which you would know if you came by more often.” Jason just laughed and shook his head as I went to deliver the drinks.
I was back at the bar getting Jason’s pitcher when my boss, Sam Merlotte, came out from the back. It was getting close to supper time, so business would start picking up and he usually worked the bar himself.
“Hey, Sook. How’re things going out here?”
“Oh, fine. Not busy yet. Just gonna take this over to Jason.”
He nodded as I headed towards my brother’s booth.
‘Just look at her – she’s real pretty… Jason’d kill me…I sure could have some fun with her…’
When the images of the ‘fun’ Rene, was imagining he could have popped in my head, I shuddered. Ewwww! I took a deep breath, put my shields up and continued to the booth.
Did I mention I’m telepathic? Yeah, I can hear people’s thoughts. It’s more like a curse most of the time, but since starting at Merlotte’s a few years ago, I’d been able to improve my shields a lot… I could keep the thoughts out a little easier. They just slip sometimes, especially when we weren’t busy because I‘m not as focused on keeping them up then. I was glad of Jason’s reputation when it came to me at that moment. I’d never really liked Rene, so him figuring Jason would kill him was a good thing. He just creeped me out for some reason.
“Hey, Sook. Things been going good with you?” Now Jason’s best friend, Hoyt, was about as sweet as they came. I’d known him so long, he was more like another big brother. He was a real sweetheart though; and would make some girl very happy one day.
“Everything’s great, Hoyt. How ‘bout you?”
“I’m doin’ real good, Sook.” I couldn’t help but grin at him. I was just about the only girl in town who didn’t make Hoyt as nervous as a long tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs. It really was too bad there was no interest from either of us in being more than friends. He’d be way too scared of Jason and he’s really easy for me to ‘read’ anyway.
That was actually a pretty big problem for me. Knowing everything your date is thinking is just not a good thing. When I’m nervous, my shields aren’t so great. Trying to keep them up while nervous… I ended up with a bitch of a headache every time I’d tried. So, I was very single.
Once I’d delivered the beer and gotten everyone settled, I wandered over to the bar, where Sam was making sure he was fully stocked for the night. Friday was usually one of our busiest nights, of course.
“So Sam, who all’s working tonight? I forgot to look at the schedule.”
“Ummm… Dawn and Arlene are in with you. Lafayette is cooking with Terry.”
I nodded. It’d be the usual Friday night crew then. Guess I was just seeing if anything would be different. I went to make sure salt and pepper shakers were full, there were enough silverware rolls, etc. and got lost in my thoughts. I was slipping into ‘lonely Sookie’ mode and I hated that.
I was startled out of my thoughts when I felt someone tap my shoulder. I’d gone on autopilot and had everything done. I turned and saw Sam. “Penny for your thoughts.”
I laughed. “Oh, it was nothing. Just fighting off a ‘poor lonely me’ pity party. I’m fine.”
“Well, you know that could change anytime, right?”
Here we go again. “Sam,” I took a deep breath. “You’re my boss as well as one of my best friends. I’m just not comfortable with that, and you know it. Stop bringing it up, or I’m gonna have to make some changes that neither of us would be too happy about.”
I went to walk around him, but he grabbed my arm. “Come on, Sook… we could be good together.” Wantwantwant… lustlustlust…
Sam was generally really hard for me to read for some reason, but when I was touching somebody, things came in clearer. I was very glad that all I ever seemed to pick up from Sam were his feelings.
“Sam, you need to let go of me… now.” He looked at his hand on my arm and immediately let go.
“I’m so sorry, Sook. Really, I am.”
“I know, Sam. Just give me a minute, ok?”
He nodded and went back to the bar.
I was double checking, even though I knew everything was done… just buying myself some time to compose myself, when I felt an arm go around my shoulder and I jumped.
“Sorry, Sis. You ok?”
“Damn, Jason! Thanks for the heart attack. Yes, I’m fine.”
“I heard Sam and saw him grab you. I set him straight about it.”
“Oh god Jason, what did you do?”
“I just told him he needed to stop following you around like a lost puppy. You just ain’t interested and he needs to back off before I make him.”
I love my brother, really I do, but sometimes…
“And before you get your panties in a knot, he apologized and agreed with me. He said he’d back off. You’re welcome.” He had a smug smile on his face.
I couldn’t help but chuckle a little. “So big brother saves the day, huh?”
“Just doin’ my job.” He winked at me.
I rolled my eyes. “Thanks, Jas. I love you, but you really are a pain in the ass.”
He laughed. “I love you too, Sis. We’re gonna head out, but we’ll probably be back in later on. You closin’?”
“Nope, I’m off at 10.”
“K- see ya.” He kissed my head and went on his way. I went to check on Sam.
“You ok? I’m sorry about Jason. He’s just a little overprotective of me.”
Sam chuckled. “If he’s a little overprotective now, I really feel sorry for the guy who ever hurts you. I’m sorry, Sook. We ok?”
“Yeah, we’re good.” I smiled at him and things went back to normal. I hoped it had sunk into his head since Jason had gotten involved. Before long, I saw Dawn and Arlene coming in and heard Lafayette in the back.
The night was going like any other Friday night. Even though I wasn’t closing, I was still making good tips. They were always better at night anyway.
I was taking an order to the kitchen when Dawn went by me. “Hey, Sook… the Ratts just got here.” I groaned as she nodded her agreement. We turned to see the trashiest couple in Bon Temps coming in. And believe me, it’s really saying something to say they are the trashiest around here. We both breathed a sigh of relief when they sat down at a booth in Arlene’s section. I was never happier to see someone not choose a free table in my section. But then Dawn groaned.
“Well, now Arlene’s stuck with ‘em. That’ll do wonders for her mood.” Arlene had been nothing but sour grapes since her boyfriend dumped her. We all knew she’d be back to her old self once she’d found the next ‘love of her life’. I was just glad I wasn’t stuck with the Ratts.
Dawn went to check on her tables as I heard, “Mmmm, Sook… bow chicka wow wow.” I turned and saw Lafayette in the kitchen window.
“What’s up, Lafayette?”
“You’re looking pretty scrumptious tonight. Any particular reason, hmmmm?”
“I’m just wearing a little eye makeup, Lafayette. I get better tips when I do.”
“Well, I thought yous was trying to impress somebody. The night’s still young though.” He winked and did a little dance before he went back to the grill.
I laughed, “You’re incorrigible, Lafayette!”
I made my way out front with plates for one of my tables. I heard the door open as I was delivering them. When I looked up, I couldn’t stop my gasp. There was a group of 7 or 8 men and I didn’t recognize any of them, but my jaw hit the floor when the last one came in.
They looked like they might be construction workers… with their muscles and tans, it would definitely make sense. They were all pretty big, but this guy was huge. The uniform was jeans and Ts with work boots, and Oh. My. God how nicely he filled those jeans … he could be the king of levis though… damn! He had wavy black hair that looked like he had trouble taming and the most gorgeous eyes I’d ever seen.
We were pretty busy right then… in fact, the only tables open were booths… one in Dawn’s section and the other in mine. They split up, and the one who had caught my eye was heading over to my section. I did an inner happy dance.
I noticed Arlene pouting by the bar as I made my way over to the new customers. She must have been bummed because they weren’t in her section and she was stuck with the Ratts… who chose that moment to bellow for her.
“Evening y’all. Welcome to Merlotte’s. Can I get you something to drink?” I smiled as I handed them menus.
“Well, hey sweet thang. You look good. How ‘bout I take you?” Seriously?
“Well, it’s a real shame I’m not on that menu, isn’t it.” Was this guy for real? I took a deep breath and noticed my guy giving him the evil eye. Wait… my guy? Where did that come from? I think I’ll stick with ‘King Levis’ for now. “Now, what can I getcha to drink?”
Beers were ordered all around. “I’ll be right back with those.” I flashed a big smile and headed to the bar to get the beers. I heard some loud laughter and noticed it was coming from the booth I’d just left. One of the guys patted King Levis on the shoulder.
“Here ya go.” I handed out the beers once I’d returned to the booth. When I was giving King Levis his, his fingers grazed mine and I swear, I tingled. “Y’all ready to order?”
“I think we’re ready.” A different one spoke up this time. The others nodded and various burgers with fries were ordered by everybody.
I was collecting the menus when the obnoxious one from earlier decided to try again. “Hey… Sookie? Really?” He’d read my name tag. “Anyway, we’re new in town… is this the only place to eat around here?”
“Yep, pretty much anyway. There is another place, on the other side of town, but they aren’t very good from what I hear. What brings y’all to Bon Temps?”
The King of Levis finally spoke up. “Work. We’re working on the new library. We’re outta Shreveport.”
I could only nod for a second. Then I finally regained my focus. His voice was gruff, but oh so sexy. He had a scruffy beard and when he smiled at me, I melted a little.
Then the pathetic one with the stupid lines spoke up again. “Look, Sookie… I’m sorry about earlier. It really was a stupid line.”
“All’s forgiven as long as you promise to never use it again. It really was dreadful.”
“Done.” He smiled at me and glanced over at King Levis. I decided to think on what that meant later. I took their orders to the kitchen and turned to go check on my other tables. As I went by their table, I noticed some of them needed refills already. I knew from dealing with Jason that they were going to be really thirsty.
“Hey guys, would you like me to bring you a pitcher? I’m sure you’re pretty thirsty after working outside all day.”
“That’d be great.”
“Thank you.” I smiled at their responses and hurried to get their pitcher. I was trying to think of a way to find out a little more about my guy without seeming obvious… like was he single? I didn’t see how it would be possible for a guy like him to actually be single, but I could hope…
“Here you go…” I refilled the ones who needed it and set the pitcher down. “So, how long do you think the new library will take? I have to admit to being pretty excited about it… we’ve needed a new one for a really long time.”
“Well, we’re just getting started. Depends on the weather cooperating… A few months at least.”
“Ok. Then I guess I might be seeing y’all around a while then.” I grinned at King Levis and was thrilled to see him nodding at me with a grin of his own. “I’ll be right back with your food.”
I checked all of my other tables and the kitchen to see I didn’t have any orders up before I ducked into the restroom. My thoughts kept going back to the stranger who had definitely sparked my interest, so I was caught completely offguard when I found myself cornered by Mac Rattray. I had just walked out of the restroom when I heard him.
“Well, what do we have here?”
‘Sure like to see how ‘crazy’ Sookie can really get…’
I was hit with images that seriously turned my stomach. “Hey, Mac. Hope y’all are having a good evening. I better get back to work.” I tried to get past him, but he blocked me and I wound up backed against the wall.
“Outta my way, Mac. Get back to Denise.” I hated being cornered like that. It made me extra nervous.
“Awww, don’t be like that, Sookie. I bet we could have a lot of fun together.” He pushed himself up against me and smelled my neck. I could smell the alcohol all over him, mixed with who knows what else, so I knew he was pretty drunk at minimum, but I didn’t care.
Everything that happened next was a blur.
I brought my knee up… HARD. “LET. ME. GO!” My aim was spot on too. I caught Mac in the groin, but before he could crumple to the floor, he was pinned against the wall by a large arm. He had tears streaming down his face as he demanded to be let go. I looked up and saw my guy’s face… And boy was he angry.
“I believe the lady asked you to get out of her way. Are you hearing impaired?”
Mac refused to answer. Instead, he looked at me. “You bitch! You’re gonna pay for that!”
Mac got shoved into the wall harder. “Huh… I guess you’re just stupid then.”
Sam appeared at that moment. “What the hell is going on here?”
“Sam! Get this guy off me!”
“Sam, Mac was… being very… inappropriate with me and this man is helping me. But I did knee Mac when he wouldn’t back off. Now, I’m gonna wash up and get back to work.” I walked away, deciding to let the men work it out. I washed my hands and started delivering my orders and making sure my customers were happy.
I made one more run by the kitchen to find I was caught up for the moment, but as I turned, I ran into a wall that I knew wasn’t supposed to be there. I felt 2 strong arms go around me to keep me from falling. I looked up, and up some more and saw those gorgeous eyes again. He was so warm it was like I was being saved by a blanket..
“Oh gosh! I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize you were there.” I was a little sad when he removed his arms from around me.
“No harm done.” He smiled at me, “I wanted to talk to you, but without the peanut gallery.” He nodded towards his friends. “I didn’t mean to practically tackle you.” He chuckled, but he seemed a little nervous for some reason. He ran his hand through his thick hair.
“Ok, is everything alright?” I saw Mac huff back to Denise and they left in a hurry. Sam headed back behind the bar, but not before shooting a look towards us.
“Oh yeah, everything’s fine. Uh…” He was nervous. I suddenly realized I hadn’t tried to ‘read’ him or his friends. I always checked out new people. I figured it was better to be safe than sorry. I’d been too distracted. So, I lowered my shields a little while focusing on the man in front of me.
I was shocked. I couldn’t pick up much at all. What I did get was… red… even snarly, but no clear thoughts. It reminded me a little bit of how Sam was when I tried reading him. I couldn’t help myself… I touched his arm to see if it helped any.
I could tell he was definitely nervous… I realized I was picking up on his mood, but his thoughts were still unclear. He looked at my hand on his arm and I thought he didn’t want it there, so I started to remove it. He grabbed my hand and I was surprised by how warm his was.
“You aren’t going to get in any trouble for helping me, are you? I didn’t get to thank you for doing that either… so, thank you.”
“No, I’m not going to get in any trouble… you’re the one who did the damage anyway. And I’m glad I could help.” He winked at me before continuing, “Sookie, I’m usually not this forward, but since I’m not usually around here that much either, I’m just gonna go for it. I’d really like it if we could get to know each other.” His other hand was going through his hair again. He was just as adorable as he was drop dead sexy. It didn’t take long at all for me to give my answer. He was really hard for me to read, and he seemed so sweet. I figured what the hell.
“I think I’d like that, but it would help if I knew your name too.”
He chuckled, “I’m Alcide.” We were wearing matching grins now.
“Well, it’s nice to meet you, Alcide.”
“So, when are you free? I’d like to take you out. Would you go out with me, Sookie?”
I was just about to tell him I was free the next night, when Sam had to ruin my little moment with Alcide. “Sookie – you need to get back to work… now.” I looked at him, very confused. All my tables were fine and he’d never spoken to me that way. He was shooting daggers at Alcide… just great.
“I’m really sorry, Alcide, but I guess I should get back to work.” I figured I’d deal with Sam later.
Alcide nodded. “Sure, I don’t want to get you into trouble. Can I get your number before I leave though?” I nodded as I heard Lafayette holler “order up!”
A big grin spread across Alcide’s face. “Ok, I’ll get back with you before we leave.” I nodded again and he went back to his friends.
I didn’t think it would be, but I made sure the order wasn’t for one of my tables, and it wasn’t. So, I checked on everyone again.
The next “Order up!” was for Alcide’s table. I couldn’t help grinning at him as I delivered their burgers and was rewarded with a big grin from him in return. I’d never been this excited about a date before… maybe my luck was finally changing…
I was standing by the bar, lost in my thoughts, when I heard someone come up behind me, “Hey, Sook.”
I jumped and jerked my head around. “Jason Stackhouse! Are you trying to kill me? That’s twice in one night!”
He laughed as he raised his hands in the ‘I surrender’ motion. “I thought you heard me come in, Sis. I swear! What’s with the goofy grin?”
Yeah, I had been thinking about Alcide… I guess it showed more than I’d realized. “Nothing. It’s close to time for me to be getting off.” I lied, but Jason bought it and went back to whatever, or whoever, he was up to that night.
Sam had been acting weird ever since he’d seen me talking with Alcide, but I couldn’t find it in me to care in that moment. I couldn’t help that I didn’t feel the way he wanted me to about him. I really hoped he would stop acting this way soon. My shift was finally over and Alcide was still around, which made me very excited…
I practically skipped to the office to clock out and grab my stuff. I decided I should tell Jason ‘bye’, so I headed back to the dining room… yeah, sounded good to me.
When I got back, I saw Alcide’s friends who’d been in Dawn’s section were gone. I jerked my head over towards Alcide’s table and was relieved to see them there. They were getting ready to go though. It looked like they were giving Alcide a hard time about something, but he didn’t seem to mind.
One of his friends noticed me and I heard him say “Well, guess we’ll head out Alc, See ya tomorrow,” as he nodded towards me.
Alcide turned and smiled when he saw me. He got up and made his way over to where I was. “You getting off already?”
“Yeah, I worked the afternoon/evening shift today.”
“Ah, gotcha. Well, would you mind if I walked out with you then?” I shook my head and took the arm he was offering. Jason who?
“Sook… who’s this?” Jason just suddenly appeared… great.
“This is Alcide. And before you ask a bunch of questions, we just met tonight. Alcide, this is my brother, Jason.”
“Nice to meet you.” Alcide stuck his hand out. Jason eyed him for a moment before finally shaking it.
“You hurt her, you’ll answer to me… got it?”
Alcide looked him right in the eye as I wanted to go crawl in a hole somewhere. “Got it… but hurting Sookie is something I won’t do.”
“Ok… just so we’re clear.” They nodded at each other.
Whoa… he didn’t back down from Jason… that was a first. But, he was respectful to him as my brother. Jason seemed pacified and we headed to the parking lot.
“This is me.” I said as we reached my car. It definitely wasn’t much to brag about, but it got me from point A to point B… most of the time, anyway.
I opened the door and threw my purse in. Then I turned back to face Alcide. “I’m sorry about Jason. He’s always been overprotective of me.”
“I don’t mind. Shows he’s a good brother. I’m the same way with my baby sister. We joke that’s why she moved to Mississippi – so I couldn’t scare the guys away from her anymore.”
“Oh great. There’s two of y’all?” I was trying not to giggle.
Alcide chuckled. “I guess there are, but I don’t think your brother will be apologizing any sooner than I will be to my sister.”
“Oh no, he definitely won’t be doing that. He’s like the rest of our family… too stubborn for his own good sometimes.”
“Do you have that stubborn streak in you too?”
“Yep… sure do.”
“Good to know.” He gave me a smile and winked.
I was really enjoying talking to him, but I was also completely exhausted from working the long shift and keeping my shields up. I was starting to get a headache.
As if he read my mind, “Well, I better let you go. I bet you’re worn out and I got the drive back to Shreveport ahead of me. Can I get your number?” I smiled and nodded. He stored it in his phone as I gave it to him.
“I look forward to getting to know you better, Sookie.”
“Me too, Alcide. Getting to know you I mean. But, I do need to go before I collapse.”
He kissed my hand, then held my door open for me to get in my car. “Sookie?”
“When are you off next?”
“Ummm… tomorrow, actually.”
“Can I see you?”
I knew my goofy grin had to be back. “I’d like that, Alcide.”
His smile lit up his whole face and he said he’d see me tomorrow. I was on cloud nine as I made my way home that night.
As my old car bumped and bounced up the driveway, the cool night air gave me a chill. Alcide’s big warm arms would have definitely come in handy… Then I just shook my head at how I was reacting to this man I barely knew at all.
I walked in the back door, made sure I hung up my keys, and headed to the kitchen. I knew Gran was waiting up for me to get in, just like she always does.
“Did you have a good evening, dear?” Gran asked as I bent to kiss her cheek.
“It was really good… super busy, but good.” I knew she was going to notice the grin I couldn’t get rid of to save my life.
“Really? Well, what has you in such a good mood?” She gave me a knowing smirk.
“I met somebody tonight.”
“A man I’m guessing?”
That’s all it took. It was like she’d opened the flood gates with that one question. I spilled my guts – everything about my encounter with Alcide came tumbling out of my mouth. Once I was finished, Gran was smiling at me.
“Did I hear you correctly… you can’t ‘hear’ him?”
“Well, I could pick up on his mood, but his thoughts weren’t clear. Almost a buzzing energy… it seemed ‘red’, kinda like Sam.”
Gran stood up and kissed my cheek. “Well, I think that would be a good thing for you. I’m heading to bed, sweetheart. Good night.”
“Good night, Gran. Sweet dreams.”
I grabbed a glass of water and headed to my bedroom too. I took a quick shower just to get the greasy smells off of me because I just couldn’t sleep smelling like that.
As I got settled into bed and began drifting off, I smiled as I thought about Alcide again… looked like I’d be having sweet dreams myself.