Well, Pam told me to be patient. We talked about things. Pam explained that with the takeover, and Eric’s new “situation” things would be hard for a while. “Eric is under a microscope” were her exact words. Knowing what was going on helped me to understand but it did nothing for the waiting. That’s what I had Alcide and a few other ‘super’ friends for. Alcide and I had been hanging out a lot recently, going to movies and lunch. He had even helped me paint my living room and foyer one Saturday.
Eric had Pam call me every week to check in on me. For Halloween he sent me an arrangement of orange roses with red tips; the card red “Get Well Soon from Th’E’ Fangtasia Staff.” A couple weeks later Pam, Amelia & I went out dancing together and when I went to powder my nose I found myself wrapped in his arms (nothing torrid or elicit, just a long hug) and he told me he missed me and then disappeared through the back door. Another couple of weeks went by and I came home to find that someone had put Christmas lights up while I had been at work. And even though the secret Santa price limit was set at $10, I got a brand new blood red iPod. Once in a while I would clear a table to find a Fangtasia napkin with a note scribbled on it such as “soon” or “it’s killing me”. He came to Merlotte’s twice for a “meeting” but he sat in the other waitress’s section and we did little more than stare at each other the whole time he was there.
I wanted nothing more than to accept the invitation to Fangtasia’s New Year’s party; I used work as an excuse not to go. Pam understood when I told her pretending to be Eric’s employee was hard enough when it wasn’t, what I considered, our anniversary…
Thursday, December 31st…
That night at Merlotte’s was an exercise in futility. There were more fights than usual (even for a drinking holiday), my customers were nastier, the kitchen was backed up and I really just wanted to go home and cry but I motored through it. Everyone in Bon Temps was there it seemed and then some.
Bill placed himself strategically to be my New Year’s kiss. That wasn’t a problem by itself. God knows I had gotten and given friendly and/or meaningless kisses in the course of my life. Bill had come in by himself. At midnight while everyone else got to kiss someone they loved, I was scraping the proverbial bottom and kissing the man that had hurt me the deepest. He put his hands on my waist and smoldered. I knew this was not going to be good; my intentions were very… I guess you could say: Amish; it was evident that his were not. When my innocent smooch was interrupted by his tongue I pulled back. He stared a hole into me as I went back to work. I was clearly not in the mood for his attentions tonight and he’s lucky that I didn’t punch him, really.
Sam had been really busy all night along with the rest of the staff. Once the partiers were all gone, the staff did the cleaning up and at nearly 3am Sam and I were walking out the backdoor as I sighed with relief that the long miserable night was over.
Or so I thought. I was halfway to my car when Sam called after me. When I turned around he was standing right in front of me with one of those looks right before his mouth attacked mine. It completely took me by surprise. I raised both of my hands to his shoulders and gave him a shove that could in no way be mistaken for playful.
Sam got indignant, “Damn it Sookie! Why won’t you give me the time of day? You know how I feel about you.”
“Sam. We’re friends. You’re my boss. I care about your feelings., but I love someone else.” I was furious.
“You mean Alcide?” he scoffed “You’re just a trophy to him!”
“Alcide and I are none of your business, BOSS. But for the record, we’re just good friends. He’s not who I’m talking about.”
“So you’re back on the vampire, huh? Is that what you really want, to be treated like property?”
“Sam Merlotte! You’re one to talk. You’re acting like you found me in a lost and found box!”
“You are better than that. He doesn’t love you. He can’t love you!”
“No, Sam. I’m better than this. He can. He does. More importantly he does everything he can to make sure I know it, which is why I DO belong to him!” I spun on my heel and started towards my car so that I could get the hell out of Dodge. “But all things considered, I’ll make sure he knows that some people think me to be insufficiently claimed!”
As I drove home I hoped that I’d see my Viking standing on the side of the road waiting like he had been a year ago. As I drove by the stretch of road where I found him, my heart sank a little but I was still more than a little preoccupied with having stood up to not only Sam but Bill too. I wonder if the bond had anything to do with my new found steel.
I pulled up the driveway to my dark house and parked around back. Amelia had gone to New Orleans for a New Year’s thing there so I had the house to myself. I made a bee line to my room and cued up the playlist on my iPod labeled “Peace and Quiet”. There had been several songs preloaded and organized in the memory when I opened it as well as season 1 of Buffy which made me laugh but it made me miss Eric even more.
“Peace and Quiet” was my favorite of the playlists though. Amelia called it ‘Trip Hop’ but it was slow and mellow and I rarely heard more than 2 songs before I drifted off to sleep.
I followed my nightly ritual by docking the iPod in the speakers turning the volume up enough to hear the music over the water, then shed my clothes and got in the shower. When I got out I threw on my pajamas, turned down my bed, climbed in and closed my eyes. It went differently tonight though. I felt myself drifting off while a Massive Attack song played and I felt the bed move. When I looked, I saw Eric climbing into bed with me. Great! It’s not bad enough that I miss him and everything I see reminds me of him, now I’m hallucinating about him. I felt my eyes filling, wishing that we could just be together. But, he was here or so it seemed so I decided to make the best of it. I rolled over and buried myself so close to him I was almost part of my Viking mirage and enjoyed the imaginary smell of him. While I slipped into a deep sleep I quietly admonished myself for letting my mind pacify me this way.