Several weeks pass and Eric keeps his word: he doesn’t make a single untoward or unwanted advance on me. I think he’s just naturally a flirt, so that hasn’t changed, but there aren’t any accidental-on purpose brushes against me or attempting to corner me alone. Hell, he’s even made the trek out to Merlotte’s and met Sam. I only hear about that after the fact.
Sam’s not pleased with the friendly relationship I’ve made with Eric, knowing what he does about my attraction to him. He has pointed out on multiple occasions that I’ve never become personally involved with any renters from my other properties. I’ve turned the point to tell him that most of my other renters are families on short term vacations. Since Eric is spending close to half a year here, it’s only considerate to help him get used to the area and introduce him around so he can meet people.
Memorial Day is this coming weekend and Holly, Danielle, and I have to hunker down for the next busy holiday weekend. We spend the last week of May sorting files, checking to make sure that our houses and condos are ready. Amelia flits in and out bringing updates for the binders and a short list of local events in the area through the end of July. More than one customer has stayed longer than they planned to take part in one of the many tourist-based events on the lake.
Once she has everything sorted to hand out to check-ins, she grabs a chair and rolls to sit across from me at my desk. “I got an interesting invitation this week,” she says in a sing-song voice that I know instantly means she wants me to ask. As she’s my oldest friend, of course I have to tease her.
“That’s nice, hon. Can you hand me that stack of files over there,” I ask, ducking my head to hide my smirk while pointing at my bookshelf.
Her face falls slightly as she spins across my office in the chair and retrieves the files I requested. “Don’t you want to know who invited me to what?”
“Thanks,” I say, pulling the files closer. “If you wanted to tell me about this invitation, I figured you would just tell me rather than forcing me to play a guessing game when I’m busy.”
“Oh poo,” she pouts giving me boo-boo lip. “You’re no fun. Fine. I got a call at work from a certain tall, blond hunk inviting me and all of my friends, male and female, stranger to him or not, to a Memorial Day cookout.”
Well, I have to give him points for thinking outside the box by going to Amelia. “That’s great sweetie, but have you forgotten my job? The holiday weekends are murder with the check-ins. There’s no way we can all take-off for a cook-out.”
Now it’s her turn to smirk. “That’s the great thing. It’s on Monday, actual Memorial Day. You guys can work the weekend uninterrupted, then forward the calls on Monday. You know as well as I do that ninety-nine point nine percent of your houses will be occupied by Sunday evening. You, Dani, Holly, and even Sam can come out. You know he won’t open Merlotte’s on that Monday. I was going to call Jason and get him to bring some of his buddies too.”
Alrighty. Am I an adult or not? I am perfectly mature enough to handle by crush and my boyfriend in close proximity. When they’ll both be shirtless… and wearing board shorts that are too fucking sexy. Damn it. The universe is bound and determined to fuck with me. I have to admit going to Amelia as a work-around was brilliant on Eric’s part.
Finally, I sigh and call Holly and Danielle into my office so Amelia can spread the word. Other than Danielle being annoyed that she’ll have to put up with being hit on by Jason again, they both agree to be there. Ames practically skips from my office after I tell her to call Jason to issue the invite. After she leaves, I call Sam.
“Merlotte’s, how can I help you?”
“Hey hon. You slow?”
I can hear him shuffling around behind the bar. “Yeah, the lunch crowd just slowed down. What’s up?”
“Let’s you and I go out to eat tonight? Can Terry cover the bar?”
“Hmm… yeah. It’s slow enough right now that it shouldn’t be a problem. Where’d you want to go?”
I give him the place, a little lake-side pub and ask him to meet me at six-thirty to give me time to run home and change out of my work clothes. He agrees and we both hang up to finish our day’s work.
“So you’re going to be closed on Memorial Day, right?” I ask after we finish our burgers and sip our drinks.
He looks at me, eyes narrowed suspiciously. “I was planning on it. Why?”
“Oh, it’s nothing really. Amelia came by today to invite us to a Memorial Day cook-out at the lake.”
The suspicion leaves his face. “Oh. Miss Daily Manicure is going to handle raw meat? I’d close up any day just to witness that.”
“Weelllll…” I stall, “she was really just passing on an invitation.” I take a deep breath before continuing, knowing he’s really not going to like it. “Eric is the one having the cook-out and we’re both invited.”
“Really,” he states flatly and won’t look at me. “Sookie, I want you to tell me straight. Is there anything going on between you two? I need to know because this is killing me, the wondering.”
“You know your whole “List” thing practically gives me permission. If you hadn’t started that shit and telling me how hot all these women on TV and in movies are and wanting a freebie list for the unlikely chance to screw someone besides me, I would never have been inspired to make my own matching list. How was I to know that he was coming into town?”
“Not helping, Sook. I need the truth.”
“No. Nothing is going on between Eric and me. But even if there were, you couldn’t be mad at me. The rules of ‘The List’ say so.” Yes, I’m bound and determined to throw that in his face since it’s the entire reason he doubts me.
“It’s only supposed to be about sex! Damn it, Sookie! A one-time fling with a celebrity. It’s not about becoming friends with them and having some kind of relationship on the side. A one-off that you can brag to your friends about later. Not having practically a second boyfriend,” he growls and pounds back the last of his beer.
“Oh really?” I ask, feeling my face heat up, but this time I’m red in anger, not embarrassment. “So you think that a single fuck would hurt less than… whatever it is that you think Eric and I are doing? We are professional friends, Sam. That’s it! Nothing else.”
He tosses some cash onto the table and stands. “Well, I have no proof otherwise. But what the hell am I supposed to think when you spend more time with him than me?”
“Sam, I don’t spend any less time with you than I did before. I just spend less time sitting at home alone. My library card hasn’t been used as often since I’m not chilling with a book at home so often, but you’re not getting short-changed. I’m not neglecting you in favor of him. I’m just going out with a friend more often than I used to.”
“I guess I’ll just have to trust you on that, since I’m never invited along on these little friendly outings. I need to get home.” He wraps his arms around me in a half-hearted hug and gives me a kiss on the cheek before he rushes into his Bronco and peels out of the parking lot.
I check to make sure the bill is covered before I leave. Somehow… things just got very messy despite my best intentions otherwise.