Chapter 1

I was wiping the sweat off of my forehead with a gloved finger, polishing the table stands for the third time that day when I heard it. A mumbled 'hmph' came from behind my head. Surprised out of my intense focus, I smacked my head against the underside of the table. "Holy Mother!" I screeched as I scrambled out from under the table to ready myself for a fight. "Sam, don't do that! You know I don't like to be snuck up on."

It was past closing time and Sam was staring out from under his pretty strawberry blonde hair which, I just noticed as my heart slowed down, was growing out into longish waves. Hmmm… suits him, I thought, and then wondered why I hadn't noticed before just how long it was getting. He even looked stronger too, the muscles in his chest stretching the Merlotte's t-shirt he was wearing. Wow, I thought to myself as my heart started lilting back up in pace… I wouldn't mind- "Damn it!" I yelled for a whole other reason than having been startled. I tried to duck back under the table, but Sam's arm was faster than I was (Ugh! Supes!), and caught me before I could escape.

"Sook, you have got to cut this out!" Sam growled. "I have been standing here for the last five minutes. I think the table is clean. In fact, I think this bar is cleaner than it has been since it was built!" Which brings me back to the reason I was under the table in the first place; with Quinn out of my life for good, and Bill on some weird stalker-type win Sookie back kick, and Eric- well, who the hell knows what Eric is doing, I was going nuts.

In the past month and a half, I had been spending all of my free time (which was plentiful) becoming part of the scenery here at Merlotte's. I was picking up shifts left and right; even Arlene got to take that road trip to Texas with her new(est) Fellowship of the Sun boy-toy Jonas because of my benevolence. I worked days, nights, I played bartender, busgirl, and I even picked up some of Terry's morning cleaning shifts just so I wouldn't have to think about the mess my life had turned into. The bar was sparkling clean due to my sexual frustration and raw nerves.

Every day, I knew it would come; a call from the new King, Felipe de Castro that would rip my life apart and possibly some of my internal organs, too. A call that would what? Who knows? Bind me to some new, even more irresistible vampire, or zombie, or poltergeist (Do they exist? Why not? Everything else does!), irrevocably shortening my life. Because I have learned that when they call, you don't really have a choice whether or not to go. So every day I wait, and every single day, nothing. Pair that with not getting any loving for a loooong time, and I hope you can see why I am wound up.

"Sam, are you really complaining because your bar is clean? You know what they say about gift horses, right?"

"It's not that, Sookie. It's just that I miss you Sookie. I miss the Sookie who was out living life every day, not the Sookie who has made Merlotte's her life. What is wrong? Let's you and me have a night on the town, I'll take you to Shreveport and we can play paintball and hit Crawdaddy's Kitchen for some good Cajun afterward. You know, like a date… or as friends… whatever you want…"

Paintball? Huh? Do I look like a paintball girl? I mean, I can shoot, but the idea of being shot at again for any reason, well that is not my cup of tea. I must have given Sam a strange look, because his face clouded back up. "Damnit Sookie, just do something with yourself! You are driving all of us crazy!" Sam spun on his heel and stormed off towards the back door. "And lock up when you leave! Which better be soon, because I can't afford to keep paying you for 60 hour work-weeks!"

I sat there flabbergasted at what had just occurred for a few minutes, but then silently kicked myself out of my mental stupor. I guess I had been in my own world for the last few, well okay, for the last month or so. I was just so tired of the stress. Tired of the supernatural world as a whole. I mean, sure it embraced me when the rest of the universe seemed hell-bent on tearing me down, but it tore me down too, and it kicked me while I was down. Screw vamps, screw Weres, and screw shifters. But mostly, screw vamps. I pulled myself together, adjusted my ponytail, clocked out, and set off for home.