A/N: This bit of Sookie fluff is my first fanfic ever!

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Here I am, traversing the corridors of Miami International Airport in search of the baggage claim area. I'm on the verge of tears. There are so many people around me. My shields are useless because I'm in such an emotional tizzy. Thoughts and feelings are bombarding me right and left. I just want to get out of here. I almost threw up on the flight from Shreveport - the plane was rocked by turbulence the entire way. My friend Marilinda (Mari) Lopez is supposed to be meeting me in the baggage claim area. Mari is a petite, bronze skinned, brown eyed beauty with insanely thick, luxurious brown hair. She is two years younger than I. She is an ex-New Yorker, now living in Miami. Mari lived in Bon Temps for four years while taking English classes from time to time at the local community college. She moved to Miami in order to be closer to family who had recently relocated there.

I met her as a result of a mishap I had in our local supermarket. You know those annoying displays where the cans are stacked in a mini pyramid in a perverse attempt at artistic expression? Well, I happened to reach for a can towards the top, and what I didn't see was that someone had removed cans from multiple rows below, like a Jenga game waiting for someone to make the inevitable bad move that would cause the rest of the sticks to come tumbling down. I was so embarrassed when the cans came crashing down. It was quite a dramatic and loud effect. Mari worked at the supermarket as a cashier and happened to be on her way to her station, back from her lunch break. Mari came to my rescue. Did I mention that Mari is Puerto Rican and is quite expressive in her communication style - in marked contrast to the Southern drawl common to BonTemps? She came to live in New York at the age of twelve. Her English is improving...slowly. I remember quite vividly when she said to me, "Aye nena! We get so menee f*ckin rednecks coming en here with nothin better than to make a mess at someone else's espense! Pendejos gringos! Aye chica!"

You wouldn't think we'd work together as friends, but we hit it off immediately. Mari was such a crack up! She could say almost anything, and I would laugh. Despite her size, no one dared to cross her. She was quite assertive, and she didn't let anyone try to take advantage of her. I admired that quality most about her. I was sad when she moved away, but I did promise that I would visit her. After countless phone calls and threats from Mari, I finally decided an extended weekend away from Bon Temps during an early springtime cold wave would be a good time to visit. Sam was happy to let me have the time off. I think he was just happy for me to get away from any possible vampire intervention that might involve finding myself in a life threatening situation. I seriously doubt a situation like that is in my near future, especially since the one vampire I would love to hear from most - Eric Northman, Sheriff of Area 5 - is currently involved in the transition caused by the recent takeover of Louisiana and Arkansas by the Nevada vampire hierarchy.

Mari was eager to hear about the vampires I had befriended and especially about the one I was bonded to - Eric. She was a bit creeped out when I explained the blood bond situation to her (Oooooeeee, dats so nastee! Yew could get a deeseees!) I could only imagine what she would say if I told her that my boss turned into a dog during the full moon (Oooooeeee, yew cou get rabeees from heem! Don't let him leek yew!) She was dying to know if the rumors about vampires being incredible lovers was true. As much as I love her, I was not eager to go there with her despite her pleas (Sukee, jus say jes or no, please! I wanna know! Cummon, at leese tell me if they go down on yew?)

Mari and I made plans to meet at the baggage claim area. Mari warned me to be careful when heeding the signs directing me to baggage claim over the phone. She read a recent write-up about the airport in her local newspaper to me: Miami does not have a visitor-friendly airport. At Miami International, a cramped and dingy labyrinth, the message is: Just Try to Find Our Baggage Claim Area! Except it sounded more like: "Meeyami dohs not hava viseetor-frenly airport. At Meeyami Internacional, a crampt and deengi labarinth, the message ees: Jus Try to Find Ou-were Baggage Claim Areea!" That Mari is such a crack up! Unfortunately for me, it turned out she was wrong. The experience of finding the baggage claim area was much worse. It was hell.

After almost an hour, here I now stand, on the verge of tears and still feeling sick to my stomach. I had my red cell phone out and was just about to call 911 to rescue me from this hell hole when I heard, "Sukee!" "Sukee!" I looked up, and I was never so glad to see anyone as I was to see Mari running towards me. We hugged (there's no way to avoid it when Mari gets you into an embrace. You've got to go with the flow.) "Mari! I'm so happy to see you. I've been so lost!"

"Gurl! I tole yew! I had a bad feelin. Most of the peeple on yewr flight have peeked up their bags. There's jus sum lone bags goin roun an' roun. I taugh I shou look for yew. Oh, gurl, yew look so upset!"

"Oh, Mari! I'm so glad you're here! I was sick on the plane! Then I got lost! Then I was walking in circles! I thought this day couldn't get worse!" After Mari hugged me again, she took at a long look at me, taking in my ensemble which consisted of a short, sleeveless sundress with spaghetti straps and low heeled sandals. Then she locked arms with me to walk to the baggage area. She said "Gurl, now we heeya together. Too bad yew wearin such a short dress!" With some confusion, I asked her, "What do you mean?" She said, "I neva wear a short dress anymore. Meeyami's got some big-ass flyin cockaroaches! Yew do not want to know what one of those flying unda yewr dress feels like!" I didn't think it could, but my day got worse!