[DISCLAIMER: I do not own the plot, characters or title to True Blood or the Southern Vampire Mysteries. They belong to Charlaine Harris, Alan Ball & HBO.]

Chapter 1

I stepped out onto my front porch with my sweet tea in hand. There were some ominous clouds gathering in the summer sky and I loved to sit out here during thunderstorms. The sound of the rain pouring onto the tin roof had a calming effect. I sat and reflected on the last few days. I had just gotten a job at Merlotte's, a small family joint here in Bon Temps, Louisiana where you could go for a burger and a beer or sit down with the whole family and have dinner. My boss, Sam Merlotte was a real nice guy and so were the other waitresses. But I was nervous about new jobs, especially working around new people. And although they were nice to me now, they didn't know my secret yet. I guess you could say that I'm not your average waitress. As I was sitting in Gran's rocking chair, a violent clap of thunder broke me from my daydream. I decided to take that as a sign and get in the house and get ready for bed. I had to start work bright and early in the morning.

I woke up unusually energetic and ready for work. I threw on some eyeliner, mascara, a little blush and my pink lipstick, and quickly put my blond curls into a high ponytail. I put on my summer uniform which was black shorts, a white tee and white socks with black Nikes. I had to admit, it did look good against my golden, sun-kissed skin. I went to the kitchen to find my Gran at the table waiting for me with a cup of coffee, some scrambled eggs, bacon and toast.

"Good morning Sookie, come sit and eat with me before you run off for the day. Hows the first week been?"

"Hey Gran! It's been okay, just keepin' myself busy. Everyone's real nice for now."

"For now?" asked Gran.

I pointed to my head and Gran knew exactly what I meant. She laughed and said "Sookie, you are perfect and they will love you for you. If they are good people, they wont judge you based on your uhhh.. ability." She gave me a genuine smile, stood up, grabbed my plate, cup and utensils and started rinsing them and loading them into the dishwasher. I kissed Gran goodbye and got into my little yellow car, took a deep calming breath and left for work.

Work was slow this morning. A couple of the regulars came in for breakfast and coffee. Jane Bodehouse, the town lush, sat at a table with the town gossiper Maxine Fortenberry. They were just two peas in a pod. Maxine was Gran's good friend. They both grew up in small rural Louisiana together. I knew Gran could only take her in small doses though. Maxine was loud and opinionated. I walked over to check on them and see if they needed anything else.

"Well hey there, Sookie! How's my old friend Adele Stackhouse doin'? And how's Jason? I heard he's dating Dawn Green, is that true? There's a tree stump in Louisiana with an IQ higher than that boy. He just makes the stupidest decisions." said Maxine.

"Now listen here Maxine Fortenberry, I won't have you sit there and talk bad about my kin. You apologize right now or I will have you removed."

Maxine looked at me slightly shocked. "Sorry Sookie..."

I walked away to calm myself down. Who does that Maxine think she is anyway? Didn't her Mama ever tell her that if she had nothin' nice to say, you don't say nothin' at all.

"Hey Cher, everything ok?" Sam looked at me questioningly.

"Yeah, I'm fine Sam. Maxine Fortenberry was just bad mouthing Jason and I got a little mad. I told her to apologize or else I'd have her kicked out of here. Sorry but I just couldn't sit around and let her talk about him like that, especially to my face."

"Well if she does it again you let me know. This is a family restaurant and I won't stand people talking like that in here."

"Thank you Sam. I appreciate that."

Sheriff Bud Dearborn and his deputy Andy Bellefluer sat down at a table in my section. I went over and placed coffee cups in front of them and filled them up with fresh coffee. I took their orders, placed them on the kitchen counter and grabbed some milk and a couple of sugar packets and placed them on the table. They were talking about an open case they were investigating. Something about a girl being mauled by some kind of wild animal. I tried hard not to listen to them, plastering a ridiculously large smile on my face. I could tell by the looks on their faces that they thought I was completely and certifiably crazy. I had a reputation for being "Crazy Sookie". I just couldn't seem to open up to anyone. Folks around here were quick to judge and honestly, I was a little crazy.

After my tables had left, I walked over and picked up the plates and garbage. I walked them to the kitchen and put the dishes in the sink, and loaded them into the dishwasher to help out Lafayette, our cook, since it was pretty quiet this morning. Besides, I liked to keep myself busy, it made my day go that much faster. Lafayette thanked me and I walked back to my tables and cleaned them off. I grabbed my tip, quite surprised that Maxine and Jane even left me something after I threatened to have her kicked out of Merlotte's. But I was thankful none the less.

By lunchtime the crowd started to pick up. I was runnin' around like a chicken with its head cut off! I tried hard to keep my ability under control but as more people filed in, the harder it was. The noisier they became the bigger the stupid smile on my face became. Thankfully the other waitress, Arlene came in for her shift. She had been out with her boyfriend Renee, so she had to go into the bathroom and change into her uniform. She walked towards me while throwing her bright red curls up into a ponytail. "Hey Sookie! Which tables are you doing?".

"Hey Arlene, I'm doing tables 1-15. Would you mind doing tables 16-20?"

"Goddamn Sookie, why do you have so many tables?"

"Dawn never showed up for her shift tonight, Sam asked me to do a double." I said.

"I'll split the tables with you, I'll do tables 11-20."

"Thank you so much Arlene, that would really help. I'm starting to get a little stressed."

When i went into the back hallway near the kitchen where it was quiet, I stopped and took a deep breath. I put up my mental wall and put a real smile on my face but it didn't last too long. Sam Merlotte was coming towards me and he looked real tied up. He pushed his hands threw his hair and said, "Listen Sook, I know you've only been here for a week but Dawn Green never showed up for night shift. I was wondering if you could maybe pull a double today? I'm sorry to ask, but I'd really appreciate it Cher." I really didn't want to work a double. I wanted to go home, relax, read my book and go to bed. But I wanted to make a good impression, and I wanted my boss to be proud of me so without even hesitating I said "Absolutely Sam!".

"Thank you so much Sookie!

"Anytime Sam."

"Your dinner break will be from 7:45 to 8:45. Feel free to order something off the menu, my treat."

I thought I caught a quick glimpse of affection, but I quickly put my mental block back up before he could notice. "Thank you Sam, I gotta get back to work, the Rattray's are waiting for their burgers and pitcher of beer." I said with an eye roll.

The Rattray's were definitely not among my favorite people of Bon Temps. They were manipulative, mean and quite frankly white trash if you asked me. I waved to Sam and quickly ran to the kitchen to grab Mack and Denise's burgers. I placed them onto their table when Denise looked up at me with a digusted face and said "...I said no pickles, and where's my beer?" I tried to keep my composure, but I really wanted nothing more than to smack her into next week. "I'm so sorry, ill be right back with your pitcher.", I said in the sweetest southern voice I could manage. I hurried off to the bar and asked my best friend Tara Thornton if she could fix me up a pitcher of beer. She was one of the few people who knew my "ability" and that I trusted completely. Aside from Gran, my brother, Jason, and my favorite Merlotte's cook who also happened to be Tara's cousin, Lafayette. Tara and Lafayette got me the job at Merlotte's. Not many folks around here wanted to hire me due to my reputation. It was a small town, and word gets around quick here. But Sam didn't even waver, he agreed to let me waitress for a week beforehand, just to feel me out and make sure I knew the basics. After he realized I could do this job with my eyes closed, he hired me to work for him full time.

"Those Rattray's botherin' you Sook? You know I'll cancel both their birth certificates!" Tara said, pulling me out of my reverie. Tara has always stuck up for me since we were knee high to a grasshopper. I knew she would go over there and knock some sense into them if I asked, but I didn't want any trouble.

I chuckled. "Thanks Tara, but it's okay, they should be heading out of here pretty soon and I don't want you fired. This is the longest you've ever kept a job and I wanna keep it that way!"

"Yeah, yeah. Here's your pitcher, you want me to spit in it real quick?"

I rolled my eyes and grabbed the pitcher and brought it over to the Rattray's, wishing I had agreed to let Tara spit in it when they didn't even say thank you.

At 7:45, I took my dinner break. I ordered up some chicken fingers and French fries. Lafayette handed me my dinner and I went out the back door so I could sit at the picnic tables designated for staff. As soon as the fresh country air hit my face, I let down my mental wall. I was so happy to be away from human contact. I needed to sit quietly and gather myself before I had to go back into Merlotte's and finish off my shift. It was only 8:00 and I still had four more hours of loud, obnoxious voices to deal with. It felt good to think about absolutely nothing at all, silence really is golden. I finished up my dinner and went back inside to put my plate in the sink. I went to bathroom to freshen up a little. I re-applied my makeup and smoothed out my ponytail. Then I took a deep breath and put my mental wall back up. Only four more hours Stackhouse, you can do this.

When I came back from my break I noticed I had a new table, so I walked over to take their order. His back was to me, but there was just somethin' about him. I did something that I almost never do. I pulled down my mental wall to listen to him. Thousands of thoughts rushed into my head at a crippling speed.

I should really stop drinking.

Why is he staring at me?

I don't want to go to food shopping.

Why won't she just shut the fuck up already?

Ew, why is she wearing that?

Where's my check?

I stopped mid-step and pushed all of the other thoughts away. I focused my mind on this one particular stranger that sat just feet in front on me. I opened my mind and listened.

And you know what I heard?