Sam pulled into my driveway and cut the engine. He looked over to me with a sad smile. “I guess this was pretty much a disaster, huh?”
I gave him my own smile, more relieved than sad. “Pretty much. We’re good friends, but I don’t think it can be anymore than that. At least, not right now.”
“I think you’re great, Sook, but I agree.” He reached over and put his arm around me. “We’re still okay, right?”
I leaned into his side like I always had, relaxed now that nothing had to change. “Always okay. I should go in though. We’ll hang out again before you leave for school, right?”
He nodded and kissed the top of my head. The brotherly affection was comforting. I hopped out of the Jeep and waved as he backed out and pulled away.
I wasn’t ready to go in yet. I waited until Sam’s tail lights had disappeared from view, ran in the house to leave a note for whoever, dug my keys out of my purse, and drove to Tara’s.
She and I had been friends for almost ten years and I knew her almost as well and I knew myself. I was too antsy to sit at home and stew, so I drove to my second home.
It was still fairly early as far as the Thorntons were concerned. Tara’s mom answered the door with a smile and a hug. “She’s in her room. You staying the night?”
“I don’t think so, Dee. I just need to talk.”
“Well, you’re welcome to stay if you get too tired to drive. Have a good night, sweetie.”
I ran up the stairs to Tara’s room and scared the hell out of her by barging into her room without knocking. I flopped onto her bed without an invitation and asked, “Am I a complete idiot?”
Tara glared at me, her hand to her chest and breathing heavy. “When I get my breath back and my heartbeat regulated, you’re going to have to start from the beginning.
“I’m sorry for barging in. I’m just confused as fuck right now. Well, I’m not, but I am.” I pulled a pillow over my face. “This summer sucks!”
She laughed and pulled the pillow away from me. “Talk now.”
I told her about my day at the beach and my conversation with Eric. How it had transitioned to a date at the party that same night. That Sam had come over earlier and had asked me out. Her eyes sparkled a little bit at that. She had a great thing with JB, but had always had a little crush on Sam since we were, like, twelve.. I told her that the date was a disaster and about my run-in with Eric. The talk, the ground rules, that hot-as-hell-how-the-fuck-am-I-still-standing kiss. I thought I had played it off pretty well, but damn, no seventeen-year old should be able to kiss like that.
Tara listened silently and didn’t interrupt once, for which I was grateful. When I ended my monologue, she spoke up. “So you told him that he can’t get pissy if you make plans or go out with anyone else? Are there any other boys sniffing around that I don’t know about?”
“Well, no. It just seemed like something that needed to be said.”
“So does it go both ways? Are you going to get bitchy if you see him out with another girl?” I opened my mouth to answer and she poked me in the shoulder. “Be honest.”
“Fine. It would completely piss me off and my inner super-bitch would probably come out to play.” She smirked at me. “But the fucked up thing is I don’t even know why it would piss me off. With the exception on that first fucked up night in the woods, he’s never tried anything with me. He’s kissed me. Twice. And he danced with me at the beach.”
“Honey, have you ever seen you dance?” I shook my head no and she smirked again. “You look like sex, sugar. No girl should be able to move her body the way you do while being vertical.” I know my jaw dropped and felt my face start burning. “Why do you think guys just stop and stare when you dance?”
“I never thought about it,” I mumbled and reached for the pillow to cover my face again. “Why does he do this to me? I don’t even know if I like him.” I pulled the pillow away. “And Jason really doesn’t like the idea of Eric and I even just hanging out.”
“How does Jason know him? And the fact that you two even know each other, much less have been spending time together. I know you aren’t stupid enough to tell him.”
“Jason doesn’t know him personally, but he’s heard of him. And you can guess what he’s heard.” She nodded. “I have Sam’s big mouth tho thank for telling him about the beach party. He though he was giving me a compliment. Said I had Eric ‘captivated’.”
“Honey, you’re smarter than this. What do you want to do?”
I giggled. “Honestly, I want to climb that boy like a monkey. I want to do so many things that I really shouldn’t want to do. I want to drive back to Merlotte’s and just jump him in the parking lot.”
“So why don’t you?”
My eyes widened. “I can’t do that!”
She folded her arms over her chest and looked at me sternly. “Why not?”
“What if that’s all he wants?”
“So? That’s all you want. Do you want him showing up with flowers and candy? Do you want to be his girlfriend, and go on dates, and have dinners with his family?”
I wrinkled my nose because, really, I didn’t want that. At all. She laughed at my expression. “So what’s with the worry? If it’s a fling, it’s a fling.”
I smiled. “I knew there was a reason I loved you,” I said and gave her a big hug. She leaned back and stared at me. “What?”
“I’m waiting for you to go tearing down to your car like your ass was on fire.”
I leaned against her. “I considered it. Nothing says it has to be tonight.”
I drove home in a haze. When I pulled up to the house, I couldn’t recall the drive there. Was I really going to do this? Try to commit to one person? I don’t think I’d had a “girlfriend” since I was thirteen and the high point of the relationship was making out in dark corners during school dances.
But I knew Sookie would be worth it. She was feisty and not clingy or desperate for attention like every other girl I knew. And holy shit could she kiss! I couldn’t believe how fucking awesome her little body felt pressed against mine.
She had gone back in first after our talk outside. I waited a few minutes before following her in. She was standing at the order window talking to Senior, laughing. That asshole Sam was standing next to her, his hand on her back. Only knowing that she considered the date a disaster kept me from growling. And what the fuck was that? I’m not possessive.
I turned my attention back to the pool tables and had to keep from rolling my eyes. It was so fucking stereotypical. It was like a bad movie from the nineties. All the girls seemed posed, leaning against the wall or on the tables. Even the guys, huddled by the cue sticks passing a flask back and forth, seemed scripted. I played a game of nine-ball against Clancy and wiped the floor with him. After that, I decided to leave. I hated to admit it, but my friends bored me. Nothing ever changed.
I wanted to change for Sookie. I meant it when I told her that, for her, I would learn patience and invest the time to get to know her like she wants. I was completely fucking honest when I’d said that I wanted her more than I’d ever wanted anyone. Maybe it was that shallow part of me that just wants what it can’t have. I was so glad that she’d said she wasn’t playing games.
I had one full weekend, two more whole days, before football practice started. I wanted to take Sookie on another date, preferably one where she would dance again. It was just wrong (or right, depending on how you looked) how she was able to move her body. It just made me think of all the fun we could have together… when she decided she was ready.
I laid in my bed when I got inside and tried to think of something she and I could do. I just wanted to be alone with her. With the exception of that very first night, we had yet to be completely alone. I needed that time with her. It was just the matter of convincing her.
Fucking Hadley. Only she would think it was acceptable to jump on my bed on a Saturday fucking morning. At seven fucking thirty. “Rise and shine, sleepyhead!” she chirped in an annoyingly perky voice.
“Run. Now. Or you will be in extreme pain,” I moaned from under my comforter.
“Aunt Michelle told me to get you up. We’re all having breakfast at Gran’s,” she said as she bounced off my bed.
We usually had breakfast or dinner at Gran’s maybe two times a month and it was always scheduled. A spur-of-the-moment meal was unusual, but not unheard of. I grumbled and groaned as I trudged around. Cutoffs and a t-shirt were going to have to do. Ponytail, glasses, teeth brushed and I was as ready as I was going to get. Hadley pulled my slacker ass down to the truck where Sophie and Andre were waiting.
It only took about five minutes to get from my house to Gran’s. As soon as Andre put the truck in park, I was out and making a beeline for the coffee maker. Jason, Mom, and Daddy were already in the kitchen and Uncle Victor and Aunt Sandy pulled up behind Andre’s truck a few minutes after we parked.
I still needed my first caffeine infusion before I was fit to deal with other people. I took the supersize mug Gran kept just for me and went to sit on the front porch. As much as I hated getting up early, I did love the haze and the smell of dew on freshly mowed grass. And rocking in Gran’s old wooden chair was just plain relaxing.
A pair of figures appeared, walking through the early morning mist. Aw, fuck. Bill Compton and his dad, Phillip, walked right up to the porch. Phil was a bit of a snob, but Gran had known him since he was a baby and he adored her. Bill had a bedhead style going that looked like he was trying to look like he wasn’t trying. It really didn’t look good on him.
Phil gave a courtesy knock before walking through the front door. Bill didn’t follow. He lingered, looking down at me with a creepy-ass leer. “Can I help you with something?” I sighed.
“I can think of several things you can help me with,” he said, adjusting himself as he spoke. One- Eww. Two- it was too fucking early to deal with this bullshit.
“You’re just gonna have to help yourself with those things. Or, if I can have a preference, I can call Jason and Andre out to help. I know that they would just love to know that you wanted me to help you with that ‘little’ problem,” I said, nodding my head towards his crotch and wiggling my pinky.
“You’re such a stuck-up little bitch now, aren’t you,” he grumbled. “You think you’re too good for me? You weren’t too good for Northman last night, were you?”
“What the hell are you talking about?” I know I paled.
“I walked outside last night and saw you pinned against the wall with Northman all over you. If you’re easy enough for him, you should give me a try.”
I stood up in front of him, fury making my face burn red. “You’re calling me easy? How the hell do you figure that? Because I was kissing someone who wasn’t you? Maybe that’s because I find you completely repulsive and I don’t really like vomiting.”
He sneered at me. “How can you say you don’t like what you’ve never tried?” he growled and pushed me against the front door. My head banged on the window and I winced. I felt Bill’s cold, slimy lips press against mine while I pushed against his shoulders, trying to get him off me. He took the opportunity to grope my breasts so hard that I cried out in pain against the mouth that was still assaulting mine. Then, all of a sudden, it just stopped. I opened my eyes.
Everyone that had been outside was now either on the porch with me or in the front yard. Jason and Andre had a hold of Bill’s arms and they dragged him off the porch. Uncle Victor looked like he was holding Daddy back. Phil stood off to the side, away from the family, looking both furious and embarrassed. I heard him apologize to Gran before he rescued his son from my cousin (dangerous) and my brother (lethal, by the look on his face).
When they were gone, Daddy and Jason came up onto the porch to make sure I was okay. Surprisingly, except for the bump on my head and the bruises that I was sure were blossoming under my bra, I was okay. Mad enough to spit fucking nails, but overall, fine. Gran was crying and Mom and Aunt Sandy were trying to console her. Sophie and Hadley were just gaping, confused as to what exactly had just happened.
We all made out way back into the house, and Gran went to splash some cold water on her face. “He was always such a nice boy,” she muttered as she finished getting breakfast together.
Once we all sat and said grace, Gran told us that she was going on a trip through Mississippi and Alabama with her Descendants of the Glorious Dead club and would be gone for a week. She had asked the Comptons over to ask them to keep an eye on her house, as her nearest neighbors. She wanted breakfast with us since she was leaving that afternoon and missing a meal with her family was something that Gran just could not abide.
Honestly, it was nice to get together with family every so often and catch up. I didn’t share friends or interests with Hadley or Sophie, so we didn’t hang out a whole lot. I almost never saw Andre anymore. I also liked talking with my aunt and uncle. I knew for a fact that everyone else around me enjoyed these meals too and it would take more than a minor assault b y Bill to shut up the Stackhouses.
Once we had all eaten our fill of eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, toast, and whatever else Gran had gotten up to make at the crack of dawn, we all went our separate ways. Since I would be starting a new job the following week, I wanted to spend as much time as possible at the lake. I wanted to be toasty brown before I had to start spending my days inside.
I changed and drove to the beach. I had my fully packed tote bag with me and, being a Saturday, the beach was already busy and space was limited. I managed to find an unoccupied patch of sand. I was getting ready to put my headphones on when I heard my phone ring. I pulled it out and I didn’t recognize the number.
“Hello?” I asked, not knowing who could be calling me and fully expecting to be told that someone had dialed a wrong number.
“Sookie? Is that you?” I knew that voice immediately and was impressed.
“Eric! How on earth did you get my number?” Maybe not the most polite question right out of the gate, but I was exceptionally curious. No one who had my number was be on Eric’s contact list.
“Umm… I got Pam to call some of her drama friends until she found one who had your number. Is that too stalker-y?” he asked uncertainly.
“No, I would call that resourceful. How are you?” Now that I had made my decision as to what I wanted to do and where I wanted this thing with Eric to go (with Tara’s help) , I felt much more at ease speaking with him.
“I was calling to see if I could take you out tonight,” he said, kind of mumbly. Hmm… did I do that to him? I was a little bit stupefied by that.
“Well, I’m free, if that’s what you’re asking. What did you have in mind?”
“I wanted to surprise you. You willing to accept a date on blind faith?” he asked, sounding ridiculously hopeful.
“You know what, I think I might just take you up on that.”