I went by the school before going into work. I found out what I needed to try out for the dance squad. Application and list of requirements in hand, I headed to Merlotte’s. The second day was easier than the first, but still harder physical work than I’d ever done before.
After I was done, I headed to Tara’s house. We looked over the requirements. I had to choreograph and perform a dance of no longer than five minutes to a piece of music of my choosing.
Tara had been in dance classes since preschool and helped me with the choreography since I knew nothing about planning out a dance. We both scrolled through our I-pods and her old CDs until she found a song that she felt was perfect. I thought “Hips Don’t Lie” was a bit obvious and suggestive, but she overruled me. We made plans to practice a few times a week until the tryouts.
Dee invited me to stay for dinner and afterward, Tara and I took our tea out to her old swing set. We swung back and forth and talked over the creaky chains.
“How are things going with Studmuffin?” she asked, flashing me a wicked grin.
I rolled my eyes. “Eric is fine. We’ve gotten together a few times, but we’re staying casual.”
Tara smirked. “How on God’s green earth are you thinking you’re going to stay casual? I can already tell you’re smitten.”
I glowered at her. “I am not smitten. I just don’t dislike the guy. He’s fun.”
She chuckled like she didn’t believe me. Bitch. “So you’re hooking up like cats in heat and all you can say is that you don’t dislike him and that he’s fun? Honey, you can’t down play everything. Your eyes get all sparkly when you talk about him.”
“Look, we agreed to keep things easy. He has football and basketball, plus this is his senior year and he’s angling for a scholarship. I have the newspaper, and drama, and my job, and dance squad if this thing works out. I’m going to be too damn busy to handle a relationship on top of everything else.”
Tara suddenly looked down at the ground. “Please tell me you’re not going to become some anorexic little bobble-head like Heidi. We used to be so close and now she doesn’t even say hi to me anymore. I don’t think I could take it if I lost you too.”
I wrapped my arms around her and dipped my face to look in her eyes. “T, you’ve been my best friend for almost ten years, more than half our lives. We might get busy with other things in our lives, but that single fact is never going to change.” Tara returned the hug and we went back to swinging.
The next couple of weeks passed quickly. I split my nights after work between my family, Tara, and Eric. He and I had had to get creative on our nights out. We went to a drive-in theater and never saw a single minute of the movie. We learned all about the parks in the area and places we could park and not get interrupted. Nothing kills a mood faster than an overweight security guard shining a Maglite through fogged up windows.
I was ready to beat the hell out of Coach Quinn. It is to damn early to be running drills at seven thirty in the fucking morning. But it got us off the field and showered so I could see Sookie after she got off work. The nights she hung out with her friends or family gave me time with my friends. It wasn’t nearly as satisfying. My friends were now split into two factions: Bill’s group and mine. I refused to be in the same room as him if there was a choice.
But the nights with Sookie were amazing. No matter what we did, I couldn’t get enough of her. That surprised me. I wasn’t one to stick around. But she was like glue. I didn’t want to leave her. She was so… real. Every other girl I had been with had been fake from their hair extensions to the acrylic nails. There was nothing artificial about Sookie. I loved that.
She also hadn’t tried to ingratiate herself into my group of friends. She wasn’t interested in hanging out with them. Not that I could blame her. The more I exposed myself to life outside of my little clique, the more I realized how boring and bland they were. I loved just talking with Sookie. She would tell me funny stories about the tables she waited on or things going on in her family. I could tell her about the shit going on at home or just how anxious I was, in general, about getting a scholarship. My grades weren’t the best, because I tended to put things off and bullshit my way through my classes. My only real chance of getting into a decent school without having to go the community college route first was to get an athletic scholarship.
And then there was the sex. I had no idea how good it could be. For such a tiny little thing that looked so innocent, she was a sex kitten when she wanted to be. I had a spank bank full of her expressions and sounds that she would make. She was, far and away, the best I’d ever had, and I had no intentions on letting her slip away. I know I had told that this… whatever it was we were doing was casual, but it didn’t mean that I would be looking for anyone else. And she had told me that she wasn’t looking anywhere else either. I don’t know why she insisted on keeping things casual, but that’s what we were.
Max grabbed me after practice one afternoon. “Man, you gotta come out to the gym. Dance squad tryouts this afternoon. We can watch the horrible wannabes shimmy their way to laughingstocks. And seeing Heidi and Thalia do their thing…mmm.” He actually licked his lips. Uugh.
This was one of my non-Sookie afternoons, so I figured why not. Some of the girls that tried out should not ever be allowed near a dance floor. Not to mention, they probably couldn’t fit into the tiny little outfits that the squad wore when they performed. Some of the other guys on the team joined us in the gym to watch.
Felicia, as the team captain, and Halleigh, the coach, sat behind a fold out table, flipping through applications. They had a large boombox and an mp3 player dock at the table. The applicants were waiting in the locker room for their name to be called. The first few girls clearly didn’t have the skills needed to keep up with the demanding routines that the squad performed. But it was fun to watch. A few girls later, and there was maybe one or two who would be able to make it. Thalia was actually a disappointment. She hadn’t been practicing and I had doubts as to whether she would be making the team this year, even with her best friend as captain.
“Sookie Stackhouse,” was called and I froze. No way. What the fuck was she doing? I suddenly didn’t want to be there. But you couldn’t have unglued my ass from the bleacher if you tried. She was wearing light blue yoga shorts and a hot pink sports bra. That was all. My shorts we getting uncomfortable.
She smiled brightly and popped her I-pod onto the dock after handing her choreography to Felicia. After scrolling through, she found her song. When she was ready, Halleigh hit play. I heard the intro of trumpets and Wyclef mumbling… ffffuck! Fucking Shakira? Seriously? She moved her body like… like fucking Shakira. I know my eyes were wide as saucers, not wanting to miss a single shimmy, shake, or hip swivel. After the song ended, I glanced around and my teammates were having similar reactions. She was a dismissed with a “We’ll call you when we reach a decision,” like everyone else, but I knew she’d be making it. Fuck me.
I left the gym, no longer interested in watching any of the other applicants. I found her blue Cabrio in the parking lot and leaned against it, waiting for her. She exited the gym and smiled when she saw me. She had pulled on a sleeveless white button down shirt over her sports bra, but left it unbuttoned. She bumped my hip with hers. “So what did you think?”
“About what?” I asked, distracted by the sheer amount of skin she was displaying.
“My tryout, you goof. Do you think they’ll be calling me with good news or bad news?” she asked, bumping me again.
“Umm, good news. Definitely. You looked amazing out there. I’m kind of jealous that everyone else there got to see you, though. I thought some of those moves were just for me,” I babbled. I was still looking over the long, smooth legs, toned belly, and plentiful cleavage she was showing like it was nothing.
“You get to see the moves when I’m naked. It makes a difference,” she said nonchalantly.. Those words went straight to my dick and I think I might have moaned a little, because she giggled.
“You want to get some food? You have to be hungry. What good is an employee discount if we can’t take advantage of it?”
“Uh-huh.” I would agree to just about anything she said, just to spend some more time with her.
She nodded her head toward my car. “Meet me there.” She got in her car and pulled out of the parking lot before I had even reached my car. I shook my head and drove to Merlotte’s.
Pulling in, I saw the big blue pickup that I despised now. I parked next to Sookie and called to her before she got inside. She came back to meet me. “We should go somewhere else. It’s not going to be pleasant in there.”
She looked over my shoulder at the pickup and nodded. “I know Bill’s here. I don’t give a fuck. I’m not going to let him scare me off. I work here. I go to school with him. I’m not going to let him stop me from enjoying parts of my life just because he’s a douche. Now do you want some free food or not?”
Damn, she was fierce. “When you put it that way, let’s go.” I followed her in and sat with her in one of the booths, ignoring the gasps and whispers from the pool room.
I sat with Eric, ready to order my favorite chicken and mushroom sandwich when Sam approached the table. “Hey Sook. I saw you come in and wanted to say bye. I head back to school this weekend and you’re always so busy that I haven’t gotten to hang out with you again.”
I smiled and stood to give Sam a hug. “Don’t forget to go out with Jason before you leave. He’ll be pissed if you don’t.”
He hugged me back and I sat back down. “I know and I won’t forget. It was good seeing you again, Sookie.” He looked over at Eric. “You hurt her and you’re going to be in a world of hurt yourself. Don’t forget that, man.”
Eric scowled, but didn’t say anything. I picked up the slack. “Yeah, yeah. I can take care of myself, Sam. Have a safe trip this weekend.” He went to school about five hours away and the trip was mired with speed traps and overcrowded interstates. It was not a fun drive.
He patted my hand and pulled out a ticket book to take our orders. I guess Senior was shorthanded if Sam was waiting tables and I felt faintly guilty to be taking advantage of my discount when I could be working. But I knew I wasn’t ready yet to be working the evening shift. The dinner rush hadn’t started yet, so I felt a little better. I ordered my sandwich, Eric got a cheeseburger, and we got a basket of fries to share. I got my Coke and Eric got ice water. We talked about what we were going to do with the rest of our breaks and were amazed that there were only two weeks left until school started again.
Suddenly, “Umbrella” started blaring from my pocketbook. “Sorry,” I said sheepishly. I knew it wouldn’t be anyone I knew. My phone book was littered with personal ring tones for everyone. “Umbrella” was the default.
After I said hello, an overly perky voice responded, “Sookie? Is that you?”
“Umm, yeah. Who is this?”
“This is Halleigh Robinson. We were very impressed with you today and would like to know if you’d accept a position on the dance squad.”
I felt my eyes widen. I knew I had done well, especially when I saw the reaction my little tryout had had on the members of the football team that had come to watch. “I would love to, but I would need to know the schedule so I can work everything out with my job.”
“For the remainder of the summer, we’ll be practicing daily in the afternoons, getting used to new routines and new squad members. After school starts, we will practice Tuesdays and Thursdays after school and Friday mornings if there’s a home game. We don’t travel with the team to away games. It changes a little in the winter for basketball season. Is that doable?”
I was bouncing, that’s how happy I was. “If you don’t mind holding on for a few minutes, I can find out. Just a sec.” I put my phone down on the table and ran back to the order window. “Senior, I got the dance squad! I would need Tuesdays, Thursdays, and home game days off. Is that okay?”
He high-fived me through the window. “More than okay, sugar. Your mom and dad would shoot me if I gave you more than sixteen hours a week anyway, because you need time to do your homework, and the weekends are wide open, right?
“You got it. Thanks!” I grabbed my phone off the table. “Everything is all good. When do practices start?”
I could hear Halleigh smile through the phone. “We start this Monday, four thirty, in the gym where the tryouts were held. Welcome to the team, Sookie.”
I ended the call and smiled at Eric. “I got the squad!”
“Did you doubt it?” he responded, with a smile for me.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” a nasally screech came from the pool room. “This little nobody gets my spot on the squad? I get called saying that I’m not a good fit for the team anymore and she gets it? And what the fuck are you doing with her, Eric?”
I looked her over. She was beautiful, in an antique cameo kind of way. Long black curls to her shoulders and a profile from an ancient coin. But her face was screwed up with malice, looking back and forth between Eric and myself.
“Thalia, you need to calm down. She earned a spot, fair and square. If you had stayed to watch the rest of the tryouts, you would have seen how awesome she was.” Eric defended me from scary popular chick. Huh. Okay.
“Don’t give me that shit, Eric. This new girl thinks she can take what’s mine?” New girl? Say what?
Eric rolled his eyes. “She’s been going to school with us for years, Thal.”
“How come I’ve never seen her?”
“Maybe because your head was shoved to far up your ass to notice anyone who wasn’t in your little gang. You tried to date my brother. Remember Jason Stackhouse? He wouldn’t give you the time of day?” I asked. I felt petty for throwing that in her face, but she was pissing me off.
“You’re Jason’s sister? I don’t remember you,” she said, just as nasally, but at least the screech was gone.
“Doesn’t make it any less true. Just makes you oblivious.”
She apparently didn’t like me using words she didn’t understand. She decided to try to play nasty. “You know he’s just using you to scratch an itch,” she said tossing her ringlets in Eric’s direction. “He never sticks around. I would know.”
“Then it’s a good thing I have nice fingernails. His itches get scratched quite well. Can you say that you were able to do the same?”
Her jaw dropped and shot Eric a furious look. He just raised his eyebrow at her with a little smirk and she huffed, turned, and flounced back into the pool room, where all her little girl friends huddled around her, giving her fake sympathy during her hissy-fit.
Damn! I knew that Sookie had attitude, but it was kind of hot to see it come out that way. I hadn’t known Thalia was going to be a bitch and throw our history in Sookie’s face. But, thankfully, she took it in stride and turned it around on her.
Bill stared at us from the pool room with a strange mix of envy and rage on his face. I ignored him and went back to eating my meal. Sookie did the same, with a smile on her face.
“So why didn’t you tell me you were trying out for the squad?” I asked, curious that she left that little detail out of all our conversations.
She finished her bite and swallowed before answering. “First, I wasn’t sure I was really going to do it. And I didn’t want to get excited about something if it wasn’t going to happen. I wanted to try out and see if I had a chance to make it. I just thought I’d see what happened. The only people I told were Senior, since I would have to leave work a little early to make the tryout, and Tara since she helped me with the choreography.”
“I would have been happy to help you, if I had known.”
She gave me a small smile. “I appreciate it, but it’s kind of a moot point now. Besides, it’s going to kind of cut into our time since I’m going to have to practice every afternoon after work. That’s going to suck.”
I thought about that. That would suck. “I could always take you out afterward. Maybe pick you up and take you out on a real date.”
She looked down while she thought about that. “With a couple of exceptions, we haven’t really dated, have we? We met at the beach party and went out for ice cream.”
“Don’t forget the drive-in.”
“You can’t call going to a movie a ‘date’ if you don’t actually watch the movie. That was an excuse to get busy in your car,” she replied with a smirk. “And you knew that when we went there,” she said in response to my fake-wounded look.
“I want to take you out. Do the whole dinner and a movie thing, where we actually sit in a theater and watch a movie… well, most of a movie,” I corrected, knowing my inability to keep my hands to myself around her and a dark room would be too much temptation to resist.
“Umm… I don’t know.” she hedged, sounding indecisive.
“Look, it doesn’t mean anything has to change. Even friends can go out to eat and watch a movie together, right?”
“Yeah..,” she said, looking a little more sure.
“I promise. Nothing serious. Just a couple of friends going out.” I lowered my voice so she had to lean forward to hear me. “Friends that have amazing sex.”
She giggled. “You’re right about that. Fine. We can go out this weekend. Be prepared to answer a full interrogation from Jason, though. He’s still not your biggest fan.”
“I can handle your brother. He just wants you to be happy,?” She nodded. “And I make you happy, right?” She flushed pink and nodded again. “Than we’ll have no problems.”
“You know you’ll have to meet my parents too, right? That doesn’t freak you out?”
“I don’t think I’ve ever done a ‘Meet the Parents’ thing before. Should I be freaked?” I asked.
“I guess not. Daddy’s like an older version of Jason, but Mom’s like Hadley. She’s all bubbly and sweet and kind of overwhelming.. If you can handle them, it should be okay.”
“So do you want to get out of here and celebrate your new extracurricular activity?” I asked, with what I knew was an evil grin.
“You read my mind. Let’s go!” She tossed some money on the table as a tip and we tore out of the diner.