TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2004
Sookie woke up to the sound of chirping; however, that chirping was not from birds—or even the werehawk, who’d become one of Sookie’s guards. No—the noise sounded artificial.
Sookie fully opened her “extra-sense” even as she opened her eyes, a new step that she’d decided to take each morning—for her own self-preservation and despite the guards that she knew were watching over her.
Her eyes landed on a new and very chirpy cellphone—one that she’d never seen before! It was the kind that flipped open. Arlene had been going on and on about them a couple of weeks before, commenting on the colors available. The one before Sookie’s eyes was cobalt blue.
Meanwhile, her telepathy “landed on” Tray Dawson and Tara. Tray—as seemed to be his way—was thinking more in images than words, and Sookie could vividly see a distraught-looking Tara sitting on the porch swing. Further beyond Tray, Sookie could “hear” Onawa, Willow, several Weres, and a human. She “listened” to the human for a moment to make sure that it was Warren, whom had been expected with Mustapha that morning; it was.
The telepath sprang out of bed and grabbed the still-chirping phone. “Hello?” she asked as a question.
“Sookie, you have a visitor,” came Tray’s deep voice.
“Tell Tara I’ll be right there,” Sookie sighed, knowing that Tray had already been informed about her ability.
“Oh—uh—sure,” the Were said as he realized that he’d not used Tara’s name, yet the telepath had known who was there from his thoughts. “That’s gonna take some gettin’ used to,” he added with a mutter as he hung up.
Sookie saw a note that had been left under the phone and quickly picked it up as she flipped the phone closed. She quickly identified Thalia’s handwriting.
Obey your guards today.
The phone is from Eric. He asked that I tell you that it is an aspect of your security and will allow you to communicate with your guards. Several numbers are programmed already. You may reach me by pressing #2. Maria-Star, who will be heading your day-time security, is #3. Your other guards are also programmed, though I will leave it to you to learn their codes. Eric also asked that I make sure you know that he can be reached by pressing #1; he believes you will accept the phone without too much argument; however, he still hopes to receive a complaint call at sundown.
There was no greeting, nor was the note signed. Sookie rolled her eyes as she put down the message, muttering, “Figures that Thalia would manage to hang-up in a note!” She grabbed her robe as she considered the content in the note.
It was just like Eric to look for loopholes in order to give her a gift. “An aspect of my security,” she chuckled to herself with a shake of her head as she looked at her old phone plugged into its cord.
“Well—that thing is a piece of crap,” she allowed, putting her new phone into her robe’s pocket. She was already looking forward to calling Eric after her Merlotte’s shift that night in order to “complain.” However, she’d also already decided to thank him too.
But—in the meantime—she had a crying friend downstairs.
Her robe in place and her slippers on to combat the cold floor, Sookie quickly went to the front door. Tara was in her arms not a second after the telepath opened it.
“Oh, honey! What’s wrong?” Sookie asked with concern, even as she ushered Tara toward the kitchen table so that she could start them some coffee.
“It’s Franklin,” she hiccupped. “He broke up with me last night. Actually, early this morning,” she added with another sob.
“I’m so sorry,” Sookie said compassionately, even as she felt guilty that Franklin’s action might have been her doing. “I didn’t know you cared so much about him,” she added somewhat pitifully, wondering if it was too late to have Eric contact Franklin again to have him reconcile with Tara.
Her friend sniffled, and Sookie grabbed a box of Kleenex for her. “I don’t even know why I’m so upset. It’s not like I’ve known him that long. It’s just that it was so nice dating someone who wasn’t from here! He knew so much about the world and even about the fashion business. He helped me write a new business plan for the store and everything!” She wiped her eyes and then blew her nose in such an unladylike fashion that it made Sookie have to turn away to smile. She figured she’d start the coffee while she was at it.
“You want some coffee, sweetie?” she asked her friend.
“Okay,” Tara agreed in a whimper. “I don’t want to put all this on you, but—uh—you’ve dated a vampire. Are you still with Bill, by the way? That guy at the club the other night was smoking hot, you know. And there was that other one with the glasses who couldn’t take his eyes off of you. He was really handsome too!”
“The one with the glasses?” Sookie asked, though she had a suspicion about whom Tara was referring to.
“Yeah. The real tall blond guy? He was hanging back from everyone. I thought you noticed him,” she commented. “In fact, I know you did! I caught you looking at him a few times!”
“Was I?” Sookie asked. “I mean—yeah. I’m sure I was, but I didn’t think I was that obvious about it.”
Tara shrugged. “You were to someone who knows you. I mean—every time you looked over at him, you held your breath. I know you only do that when you’re really attracted to someone. Remember Leo in Titanic?”
Sookie blushed and then giggled like the teen she’d been when Leonardo DiCaprio had taken her breath away. Tara was right, of course. Sookie had never been able to maintain a poker face when she was really drawn to someone.
That was what made it so ironic that she could hear a myriad of embarrassing or disturbing thoughts without giving herself away. But a man who captured her attention would capture her breath as well—in a way that was definitely noticeable to her best friend (if not others).
Sookie started the coffee maker and then took a seat at the table with Tara while the glorious dark liquid percolated. “Oh, yeah. Well—uh—that was Eric. He’s a—uh—friend actually,” she smiled to herself, but held off on telling Tara that she had a date coming up with him. She didn’t want to be insensitive, especially given that Tara’s relationship with a vampire had just ended.
“Is Eric a vampire?” she asked. “I can’t always tell, but—hanging out with Franklin . . . ,” she paused for a moment to swipe at an errant tear, “I learned to tell better who’s a vampire and who’s a . . . .” She stopped.
“A what, hon?” Sookie asked.
“Uh—Franklin told me that there are other things, too,” Tara practically whispered, leaning in to talk to Sookie as if there was someone in the house who could overhear them.
Immediately, Sookie poked into her friend’s head to hear that Franklin had told her about Weres!
“I know about werewolves too,” Sookie said honestly, though she intended to mention what Tara knew to Eric. The telepath didn’t think it was smart for vampires to tell “regular” humans about the two-natured. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust Tara; however, her friend had almost let slip the existence of Weres at her kitchen table not two minutes before!
For the first time, Sookie found herself feeling “protective” of the supernatural world—worrying about what others knew about it or how they could hurt it. Even a week before, she would have denied that she was even a part of it. The thought of “looking after it” now, however, made her feel happy—as if she’d stumbled upon a purpose she’d always longed for but was too afraid to acknowledge. She resolved that she’d use her gift to protect as many supernaturals as she could from the Steve Newlins of the world.
Tara interrupted Sookie’s thoughts. “I figured if anyone knew about things like—uh—werewolves, it’d be you. So—uh—do you know anything about Sam? Franklin taught me how to figure out if someone’s a werewolf, and I think he might be one!” she shared, still whisper-talking.
Sookie rose to get them both a cup of coffee. “You should ask him, Tara. Even if I knew anything, I wouldn’t want to say. Okay?”
Tara nodded again. “Thanks,” she said as she took the steaming mug. “I was gonna ask Sam, but it felt a little awkward. I mean—how do you raise that topic? ‘Hey, Sam! What’s up? I was wondering if you like howlin’ at the moon!'”
Sookie couldn’t help but to giggle for a moment, but then turned serious. “You know—until they decide to come out like vampires—it would be best not to ask anyone about whether or not they’re a werewolf. I mean—what if you’re wrong and accidentally let the cat out of the bag?”
Tara considered for a moment as she took a sip of her coffee. She sighed. “You’re probably right. Maybe you can ask Bill to glamour me to forget or something; I imagine Franklin shouldn’t have told me about it.”
“Probably not,” Sookie agreed. “But—uh—I don’t wanna talk to Bill about that—or anything right now. I’ll ask Eric—okay?”
Tara shrugged. “Okay. So—where do you and Bill stand?”
Sookie frowned deeply. “We’re over, Tara.”
“Oh, Sook!” Tara said compassionately, reaching out to pat her friend’s arm. “Are you okay?”
Sookie considered for a moment just how much she wanted to tell Tara about her situation. “You’re here about you,” she tried to deflect.
Tara scoffed at herself. “I really shouldn’t be that upset about Franklin. If I’m bein’ honest, I’m probably mostly surprised and my feelings are hurt—because he broke things off so suddenly.” She sighed loudly. “I mean—I was having a great time with him and thought he felt the same!” She shook her head. “This is a new feeling for me.”
“What is?” Sookie asked for clarification—needing to make sure that Tara hadn’t been on her way to falling in love with Franklin when she interfered.
“Getting dumped when things are good,” Tara pouted. “I mean—when Franklin did the whole ‘we need to talk’ thing, I thought he was gonna suggest we get more serious! It’s not great for the ego or the confidence that I was wrong about that,” she admitted.
“So that’s why you’re upset? You don’t love him?” Sookie asked.
“No!” Tara answered quickly and vehemently. “I mean—he was fun! And the sex was—just wow! I mean—vampires!” she exclaimed.
“You ain’t kidding!” Sookie laughed. Bill had been her one and only lover, and she couldn’t deny that she’d enjoyed sex with him (at least most of the time)—though a couple of their encounters had pushed her comfort levels. And—of course—there was Eric. What he’d done to her body had been word-defying. And he’d used only his hands! She felt warmer and caught herself holding her breath as she thought about his kissing skills and talented fingers.
Tara gave her a knowing look—even though she had no idea that Sookie hadn’t been thinking of her first lover.
“Maybe vampires just get bored with humans quickly,” Tara commented before she took another sip of her beverage.
Immediately, Sookie’s countenance deflated.
“Shit! I’m sorry, Sook! I didn’t mean to suggest that’s what happened with you and Bill!” Tara apologized profusely.
“It’s okay,” Sookie sighed. “And—to be honest—I think Bill did get bored with me. Either that or he was never with me for the right reasons. It was exciting to be in a relationship with him at first, but he did lose interest in me as a person before the end.”
“So—uh—based on the way you’re talking about him in the past tense—um . . . . Is your relationship with him is over over?” Tara asked.
Sookie nodded. “Yeah—so over.” She hesitated for a moment. “Things happened. I was in Jackson to try to save him from his maker, who was holding him prisoner. Of course, before that, Bill had voluntarily gone back to her in order to pick up a sexual relationship they’d apparently had off and on throughout his vampire life.”
“So wait! They hooked up and then she locked him up!” Tara exclaimed. “That’s fucked up!”
“Yeah. It really is,” Sookie agreed.
“Why’d you go to Jackson to help him at all?” Tara asked with a confused frown.
Sookie shook her head. At herself? At the situation? She hardly knew which. “You know—I don’t exactly know why anymore. The way Bill left town—um—I wasn’t sure if we were together anymore or not. I wasn’t even sure that he’d be coming back! And then Eric told me that Bill had passed my—uh— ‘ownership’ over to Eric!”
“Ownership?!” Tara half-exclaimed and half-huffed.
Sookie nodded. “Yeah. As f’ed up as it seems, on account of my telepathy, it’s safer for a vampire—of my choosin’—to claim ‘ownership’ of me so that other vampires won’t think that they can. Some vampires would even hurt the people I love to make me—uh—accept their ownership.”
“Oh my God!” Tara exclaimed. “That’s crazy!”
“Yeah,” Sookie agreed. “And, if I was targeted by a bad vampire, tellin’ people like Sheriff Dearborn wouldn’t do any good. The vampire could just glamour human cops. Or he could get mad and do even more damage to those I love.”
“So Bill was sort of what? Protecting you when you were together, and—when he left—he got Eric to do it?” Tara asked for clarification.
“Yeah. Well—sort of,” Sookie responded with a shrug. “Saying that I was Bill’s human kept other vampires from trying to take me away and use my gift. Now—Eric’s making sure I’m protected with guards and stuff.”
“So—you’re his now? You officially belong to him?” Tara frowned.
“Officially—yeah. I am his,” Sookie confirmed. “At least, that’s what I’m gonna claim to any vampires or other Supes who ask.” She smiled to herself. “But the thing is that Eric . . . .” She paused for a moment and considered her words. “He cares about me. He’s brash and highhanded sometimes. And he can be arrogant! I definitely wouldn’t want to cross him! But there’s a side to him that’s chock-full of amazing things. He’s smart and as handsome as hell! I mean—you saw him!” Sookie said to her friend. “His picture is probably next to the word ‘handsome’ in the dictionary!”
Tara nodded in agreement.
“But there’s so much more to Eric. He can be sweet and caring,” she smiled, thinking about when the vampire had so carefully removed the glass from her wounds in Dallas. “And—uh—he wants . . . .”
“What does he want?” Tara asked after Sookie had paused for several minutes.
Sookie shook her head. “I don’t want to be insensitive. I mean—you came over here to tell me about a break up, and I don’t . . . .” Once again, the telepath stopped midsentence.
“You don’t want me to think you’re somehow rubbing my break-up in my face by telling me you like Eric? That you guys are an item?”
“Something like that,” Sookie blushed.
Tara smiled softly at her friend. “Listen—I know how much you were into Bill. What you felt for him was a lot more than what I felt for Franklin Mott.” She got up to grab the coffee pot to refill their mugs. Her task done, she sat back down. “I’ll get over Franklin—probably in just a few days if I’m being honest. Once I get over my hurt feelings, I’ll miss the fun things we did and the good times we had doing those things, but,” she chuckled at herself, “you know me, Sook. I’ll bounce back. Right now, though, I’m worried about you. I mean—you were just with Bill a few weeks ago, and now you have moon eyes for Eric. Don’t you think you’re moving too fast, Sook?”
A/N: Hi all! I hope you had a nice week. Mine has been very busy, so-again-I don’t have time for a long author’s note. I just wanted to thank everyone who takes the time to comment on my work. And thanks if you simply read it too!