I got home from my exciting day after Eric and I “celebrated” me making the dance squad, and I can honestly say that the goofy grin on my face had nothing to do with any kind of illegal intoxicants in my system. That boy knew how to do things… damn. Mom and Daddy were curled up together on the couch and they both smiled at me when I came in. I told them about making the dance squad and Mom squealed like a teenager. She had been a cheerleader and had always wanted me to do something like that. She had always been proud of the work I did in drama and with the newspaper, but this was something she could point out to her friends. It wasn’t the same with the other stuff. She couldn’t bring them to a play and talk about the makeup I did or the sets I helped paint. And I was entertainment editor on the paper, writing reviews of music, books, and movies. Not really things we could bond over since I had to target fourteen to eighteen year olds.
I had to work lunch on Saturday and wanted to get some rest, but I wanted to give them a heads up that I would be going on a date that evening. Mom squealed again and Daddy just asked who with. I gave them the intro course to Eric Northman. Age, class, extracurricular activities. Daddy seemed to approve after he heard “football”, so we were good. I asked when Jason was going to be home. I wanted him prepped so he wouldn’t make an ass of himself when Eric came to pick me up. Mom rolled her eyes. “No way to tell for sure. He got some text and took off like a shot. Who knows who he went off to meet?”
Jason is a great brother, but a bad date. He was with a different girl every week, never committing to anyone for more than a night. Was kind of weird on how he came down on Eric for the same thing, but maybe it’s different when your sister’s interested in a guy like that. I wonder how many brothers have given their sisters hell for going out with him.
I changed into my jammies and took my book out onto the deck. As soon as I saw the living room get dark and heard Mom and Daddy head to bed, I lit a cigarette before I went in myself. Jason’s truck pulled in behind the house and he looked furious when he stomped onto the porch.
“Where the hell were you tonight? Your car was at Merlotte’s, but you weren’t.” He was breathing heavy and his face was all red.
“Why do you care, Jase? You can see I’m home, all safe and sound. Where were you?”
“Looking for you! I got a text saying that some guy had grabbed you in the parking lot of the diner and… shit, Sook, I was scared.”
“Jason, I went out with a friend. We were celebrating my getting onto the dance squad. No one grabbed me,” I said calmly. Well, no one had grabbed me in a way I hadn’t wanted. “Who sent you the text?”
His breathing had slowed and his face was returning to it’s normal flesh tone. “That’s the weird thing. It was from a number I know I recognize, but it wasn’t in my phone book. He pulled the phone it out and showed me the message. “You know that number?”
“Nope,” I said, shrugging. “You should have just called me.”
“Where’s your phone?” he asked. When I told him, he went and grabbed it out of my purse and held it out to me. “There’s this great little button on top here called ‘power’. You might want to turn it on.”
I grimaced. “Shit, I’m sorry. I must have powered it down after I got the call about the dance squad. I really am sorry, Jase.”
“It happens. So what did you and your ‘friend’ do to celebrate?”
“Not important. Umm, Jase, Eric is taking me out tomorrow night.” I figured now was as good a time as any.
“Why are you letting this guy in, Sook?” he asked, taking a seat next to me and stealing one of my cigarettes. By the way, you know you’re gonna have to quit this when you get started on the dance routines, right?” he asked, motioning to the cigarette he was lighting
“I fully intend on quitting… after this weekend. And I want you to give Eric a chance. He has been a total gentleman around me. If he didn’t have the reputation he has, you wouldn’t have a problem with him, would you?”
“Hell, the only reason I know who he is is because of that reputation. But it’s enough to make me worry.”
“He broke Bill’s nose,” I told him. It worked on Andre; let’s see if it would work on my brother.
“Excuse me?” he asked, his eyebrows raised in surprise.
“He found out about Bill pushing himself on me that morning at Gran’s. He punched him in the nose and broke it.”
“How did he find out about it and why would he care?”
“Jason, stop being so damn cynical. He found out about it because I told him. I told him because we’re getting to be friends. That’s also why he cares and that’s why he’s willing to come over tomorrow night and face your overprotective ass to take me on a date.”
He scowled at me for a minute, then relaxed the tension in his shoulders and leaned back on the swing. “I’m not used to it, Sook. You’re my baby sister. I’m supposed to look out for you, and it feels like I’m sending you out to the wolves.”
I leaned into his side and put my head on his shoulder. “I can take care of myself, big brother. But, know that there’s already a line forming to kick Eric’s ass if he steps out of line.”
“How is that?” he asked. “I thought this was kind of a new thing.”
“Jase, I’ve been telling you for almost a month now that Eric and I have been hanging out. Did you think I was going to stop just because you didn’t like the idea of him? The line forms behind Sam and Andre,” I said and had another of the “Shut the fuck up while you’re ahead” moments that came too late.
“Andre? How the fuck does Andre find out about this before I do?” He sat up and nudged my head off his shoulder so he could look at me.
Shitshitshit! Come on, Sook, you’ve got a decent brain. Think, God damn it! “Umm,” I said, stalling, trying to think of a reason my rarely seen cousin would know about Eric before my brother and coming up with nothing. Shit.
“Sookie,” he said quietly and tipping my chin up to look in his eyes. “Why does our cousin know more about who you’re going out with than I do?”
“Umm…” Fuck, I still had nothing. I would be vague, but honest. “Jase, honestly, you really don’t want to know that.”
“Fine. I’ll call Dre and ask him,” he said and pulled out his phone. I grabbed his hand, knowing that Andre wouldn’t lie if asked directly.
“Jase, just trust me on this. Trust me that Eric has not done a single thing that I haven’t wanted him to do and leave it at that.” I gave him the puppy dog eyes that worked on Daddy to see if they worked on version 2.0.
His face relaxed slightly and he slid the phone back in his pocket. “I’m holding you to that, Sook. But I’m cutting to the front if that fucker steps one toe out of line with you.”
I put out my cigarette and marked my place in the book before going inside. I gave Jason a hug and he grabbed my pack before I left the porch. I wondered who had sent him that text and what they were hoping to accomplish.
I pulled into our driveway and parked, hitting the security button on my key chain before letting myself into the house. Pam looked toward the door from her position on the couch. “What the hell are you so happy about?”
“Nothing. Just had a good day,” I replied and her grumpy face broke out and an evil grin.
“You finally get some?”
“I will neither confirm nor deny. You’ll just have to wonder. And, for the record, eww. I don’t want to think about you thinking about me ‘getting some’,” I said with a shudder.
“Then what’s with the goofy-ass grin?” Her sourpuss face returned.
“I am taking Sookie out on an official date tomorrow. I’m excited about it.”
“Well, what the hell have you been doing all these other nights with her? Learning chess? Playing Monopoly? Why not just admit it?” And now, the grin was back.
“Give me something here. Being stuck at home is boring as hell. Mom and Dad at work, you either at practice or out with Sookie or those douche friends of yours. I have nothing to do and no one to hang out with and this, frankly, amuses the shit out of me.”
“Well, I’m glad I amuse you, but I’m still not saying anything. I’m going to bed. G’night.” I grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and downed it as I headed to my room, leaving Pam pouting behind me.
I really was excited, but kind of nervous about an official date. I was not looking forward to meeting her jerk of a brother who kept trying to turn her against me, no matter how I may have idolized him once upon a time. But I had no one to blame for his attitude but myself. I sure as hell wouldn’t want Pam going out with a guy like me. And if any girl before Sookie had tried to get me to do the parental meet-and-greet, well, it just wasn’t happening. I hadn’t had any plans to stick around long enough for them to get to know me.
I made it to sleep and it seemed like only minutes before the alarm went off. I yanked the cord and went back to sleep. I never remembered to turn the damn thing off on Saturdays. Around ten, I made my way to the kitchen and made myself some breakfast. I grabbed the paper and tried to see if there were any decent movies playing, but none caught my interest. I texted Sookie, knowing she was just getting to work and might be able to check her messages before starting.
E- Comedy, Action, Horror, or other?
A few minutes later, I got the chirp.
S- Depends on my mood. I like a little of everything. What are you up for?
Damn, so many ways I could take that, but flicked the panting devil off my should for the moment.
E- None of the above. Everything I want to see is on pay per view.
Yeah, I hit send before I thought that through.
S- None of that porn shit.
Fuck. She went there.
E- No! Captain America, Green Lantern, Thor, X-men, those movies.
S- LOL! Are you a closet comic geek?
I knew she wasn’t making fun of me, but I did just realize they were all comic book movies.
E- My dad’s out of town, my mom’s on graveyard shift, and Pam’s sleeping over with a friend. You want to order takeout and come over for a movie?
S- Sounds just about perfect. I wasn’t really in the mood to go out-out anyway. What for food?
E- Up to you. We can decide later.
S- Pizza. I’m easy like that. Pepperoni and extra cheese. Sound good?
E- Great, I’ll order it when I leave to pick you up at five thirty so it’s ready on the way here. Umm… I just realized I don’t know where you live.
She texted me her address and said she had to get to work, so I closed my phone and attached it to the charger. I called Pam into the kitchen and told her she needed to help me neaten up her pig-sty in the living room. I went to work on my room. I went all out. I’m by no means a slob, but I’m no neat freak either. I put the laundry in the hamper and changed my sheets and made my bed. I was set if the movies were bad and we needed something else to kill time. Even if not, it always feels good to sleep on fresh sheets. Since Pam had basically been living in front of the TV this summer, there was a lot more to do in the living room, so I went to help her.
I was nervous as hell about picking up Sookie. I could probably handle her Mom, but her Dad and Jason worried me. I made my lunch and killed time until I had to get ready, drive Pam to her slumber party and still pick Sookie up on time. After dropping off Pam, I called in the order and pulled up to a house that looked newer, but similar to her grandmother’s house. I saw her car, a faded green truck, the black truck with the pink and aqua swirls, and a red station wagon. Looked like everyone was home. Yeah, that would be a cold sweat on my forehead and neck.
I didn’t really dress up since we’d be spending the evening on my couch, but I did want to look nice. I made due with some dark jeans and a plain red t-shirt. I wiped my sweaty hands on my jeans before I knocked on the door. I beautiful older woman with blond hair and brown eyes answered. She was older I could tell immediately from her features that she was Sookie’s mom. I introduced myself and offered my hand. She bypassed that and gave me a hug, temporarily stunning me. She told me to call her Michelle and led me into the house.
An older man with dark hair and the same blue eyes that I loved was sitting on the couch. He stood when I entered. “I’m Corbett. Hope ya don’t mind if I skip the whole hugging thing my wife is so fond of,” he said and offered me his hand. Shaking it gratefully, I re-introduced myself. Michelle said that Sookie was still getting ready and offered me something to drink, which I turned down. I had sat in the chair opposite the couch and made small talk about the upcoming football season with Corbett. I still hadn’t seen Jason and was honestly relieved.
Sookie came down the stairs in one of the sundresses that I hadn’t seen yet and was temporarily speechless. Michelle smiled at my reaction and asked about our plans. Sookie spoke up before I could answer. “I think we’re going to get some pizza then watch a movie.” Talk about telling the truth in a dishonest way. I don’t think I’d ever seen a skill like that.
“Sook, can you bring your date in here for a sec,” a deep voice called from the back of the house. Shit. I was assuming that would be Jason.
Sookie rolled her eyes, but took my hand and led me through the kitchen onto a little screened-in deck. Jason was about six-one and had the same blond hair and blue eyes as his sister, but a less pleasant expression was on his face. “What are you planning on doing with my sister?” he asked, looking up at me slightly.
“For God’s sake, Jason. Daddy just spent the past ten minutes questioning him. He doesn’t need it from you, too,” she said from my side.
“Daddy questioned him about football. My question is more important.”
“Jason, we’re getting some food and going to watch a movie. That’s it. Nothing seedy, sordid, or dangerous. Stop.” She was shooting him her pissed off glare and I remembered from the past that that was not a pleasant experience.
He closed the gap between us and narrowed his eyes. “Anything happens to her on your watch and you are gonna get all kinds of fucked up. Got me?”
“Jason, shut up.” She put her hand on his chest and pushed him back. “I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself.” She looked up at me. “Let’s get out of here.”
I felt like a pussy not speaking up for myself, but I wasn’t really given the chance. I followed Sookie back through the house and said good night to her parents. When we got to the car, I opened the passenger door for her and went around to the driver’s side. After I got in, I just looked at her.
“Sorry about all that. I would have met you, but I had a table that wouldn’t leave and I wanted to get the smell of grease off me. Did everything go okay before I came downstairs?”
I started the car and pulled out onto the road. “Your parents are great. But I could have handled your brother. I can speak for myself.”
“Yeah… I tend to go off when Jason pulls the overprotective shit. He hasn’t gotten used to the fact that I’m not twelve anymore. Plus, I know my darling brother. He would have taken anything you said and twisted it.” She gave me a shy smile. “I took the most efficient route to shut him up so we could leave. Next time, I’ll let you deal with him.”
“So there’s going to be a next time?” I asked with a smirk.
She gave me a smirk of her own. “You’re still here, right? I’m here, heading to your empty house. I can’t see why there wouldn’t be another date. Unless I’m misreading things…” She glanced at me out of the corner of her eye.
“Nope, just making sure we’re on the same page.”
Eric pulled up to his house and opened the garage. He led me in and gave me a quick tour: kitchen, living room, and various other rooms before grabbing plates for the pizza and a couple of sodas in the kitchen. Taking our meals to the living room, I just stared at the massive entertainment center and a TV that was probably bigger than my bed. Eric noticed.
“Umm, yeah. My dad got that earlier this year. Pam’s really the only one who uses it. I’m never home, he’s always away on some kind of business, and Mom tends to sleep when she’s not at the hospital. Let’s see what’s coming on and see if we can agree on something.”
He grabbed the remote and pulled up the pay per view movies. I pointed out the latest “Fast and the Furious” movie and he shook his head. “That Diesel guy looks like my coach. He creeps me out.” I snickered as he scrolled through some more movies. We eventually decided on the X-Men prequel because I had been forced by Jason to watch the previous three movies, so I had a basic idea of who the characters were.
Once the movie started, Eric dimmed the lights. We continued eating through a couple of trailers and the first few minutes of the movie. When we fished the pizza, he hit pause and took the empty plates into the kitchen. When he returned to his seat, he wrapped his arm around me and pulled me into his side. I tucked my legs under me and rested my head on his shoulder. Why did this feel so normal and just… right? I decided not to worry about it right then.
The movie actually held out attention so there was no mad make-out session on the couch or anything. A few kisses, some slightly wandering hands, but everything stayed perfectly innocent. When the movie ended, Eric looked down at me. “Do you want to watch something else?”
I checked my watch. I had plenty of time before I had to be home. “If we can find something we can agree on.”
“We have, like forty movie channels. I’m sure we can find something. I have my own setup in my room. We could stretch out back there, have a little more room…” he trailed off, shrugging.
I looked down the huge freaking couch, wondering for just a second why there wasn’t enough room there before I felt like slapping my forehead and saying “Duh.” Coming to that realization, and honestly wondering what his room looked like, I agreed.
He led me back to his room. It was the size of two of mine. He had a huge bed dominating the wall opposite the door. Against the wall past the foot of the bed was another entertainment center, with a normal sized TV, but so many extra boxes, I was amazed he could keep track of what controlled what. I recognized the game consoles from Jason’s collection of the same. I assumed the rest were fancy things that I would have no use for in my house.
“I should probably plug my clock back in and set it so I can get you home before your curfew,” he said, fiddling with a box on his nightstand. After several button presses and consulting my watch, he got it set to the right time and patted the bed next to him. “What are we looking for?”
I scooted next to him and put my head on his shoulder again. What? It was really comfortable! He turned the TV on and started scrolling through the movie channels. He paused on “Blue Crush”, but I wrinkled my nose. He moved on. He settled on some random adventure movie and turned on his side to look at me. I met his gaze. “What are we doing here, Sook? This is more than just some casual fling, and you know it.”
Shit. I wasn’t ready to get into this. I knew he was right, but I didn’t want to admit it yet, not even really to myself. Shit. Shit. Shit. I knew he was waiting for me to respond. “Eric, I really like what we have here. Do we have to define it? Why can’t we just let it be?”
“What about when school starts? Are we going be strangers during the day, maybe saying hi in the halls and then getting together when no one can see us? I want everyone to know that you’re mine. I don’t want random assholes like Bill and Alcide thinking you’re up for grabs.”
I raised my eyebrows. “Yours? Excuse me? I don’t belong to anyone. Like I told Jason, I can take care of myself. If anyone tries anything with me that I don’t want, I’ll take care of it on my own.” I sat up and looked down at him, wishing he had just stayed quiet and started kissing me.
“Sookie, we’ve been doing this… whatever for a month, and it’s been great. But I want more, and I know that you do too. I want to be able to introduce you as my girlfriend and take you out and walk you through the halls. All the privileges that a regular boyfriend has.”
I kept from sighing, but just barely. “That’s not what I want. I want to do my thing and you can do your thing. You know how much shit I’m going to be dealing with this year? Drama, newspaper, dance, and job, not to mention regular classes and the SATS and all that shit. I’m gonna be lucky to find time to sleep sometimes. Honestly, I can’t handle the pressure of a relationship on top of everything else. That’s why I wanted to keep this casual. We can see each other when our schedules work out, but there’s no pressure to be up each others asses all the time.” I thought it was a good, well thought out argument.
Eric sat up across from me, looking pissed. “Well sorry you seem to think I’m ‘up your ass’. How about we just cool this thing off and go back to how things used to be. You can ignore my existence and I’ll never turn my head in your direction if that will make things easier for you. I have a lot of shit to deal with this year too, but I wanted to share it with you, maybe help you handle some of the pressure. But that’s too much for you? I’m fine with that. I should probably get you home.”
He shot off the bed and opened his door, waiting for me to get off the bed. I stood slowly, trying to keep my breathing even. I hadn’t expected this when I came over. If this was so fucking casual to me, why did I want to cry over what felt like a break-up?
I couldn’t believe it. I was completely blindsided. And I was pissed. I silently led Sookie back to my car, listening her her breaths growing increasingly shakier. I got in the driver’s seat and waited for her to get in the car. As soon as her door closed, I backed out of the driveway and flew as fast as I could back to her house. We didn’t say a word during the entire trip. I couldn’t believe that I had let her in so deeply, actually wanted to commit to someone for the first time, and she just shit all over it. When I pulled into her driveway, I just stared down at the steering wheel, waiting for her to get out. I was so angry that I couldn’t see straight and it probably wasn’t safe to drive in the mood I was in. As soon as I heard her door close, I just backed out and took off. I didn’t want to go home, but I didn’t know where else to go. I wanted to cry, hit someone, just keep driving until I ran out of gas. I ended up driving to the beach, parking, and stewing until I ended up passing out asleep.