A/N 2/4/2013 Though this story has been up for several years, I started this without a Beta. Since then, I've got a wonderful team that have not only helped me with active chapters but have gone back and helped me with old ones. The chapters that have been re-beta-ed are on my wordpress account. On the site you will also find character pictures, chapter banners and some awesome videos created by my one and only Sephrenia1. Please visit us there at .com (take out the spaces and the dots). Hope to see you there and thank you for following us on this crazy ride!
Chapter 1 – How times they do change FAST!
I should have know when that Business complex starting going up 2 months ago, about 1/2 mile from the bar, things were going to change in our little area of Northern Louisiana. Never in my wildest dreams would I believe how much of a change there would be.
My name is Sookie Stackhouse and up until 5 minutes ago, I had been a waitress at Dawson's Bar and Grill. Dawson's was owned and operated by Mr. Tyler Dawson. Family man, one son and Owner of said establishment. The grill as it was commonly called, had been an institution in this area for 50 years. Located about 5 miles outside Bon Temp (my home town), it was known as a family place. A place to get a bite to eat, hang out for a drink and socialize. Just a regular old family pub. Tyler had put in a patio some years back that over looked the small lake outback. The lake had a small dock and a pavilion that people could rent from Tyler for functions. Families had parties, anniversaries and we have even had a wedding or two out on the patio and down on the dock. The Grill sits between Bon Temps, Ruston, Menlo and Shreveport. A lot of traffic coming through and it was always a little "homey" if you know what I mean. But with this new business complex going up, it wasn't exactly "business friendly". Considering the crowd was usually locals and workers moving back and forth from work to home, the suit and tie sect, really wouldn't fit in with the dark wood, deer heads on the wall and smell of beer and peanuts. No the crowd at The Grill was usually jeans and boots. Even for special occasions, the ladies may dress up but the guys were khakis and button downs. That would all be changing now.
I had worked here for the past 6 years. As soon as I turned 18, I asked Tyler for a job. First I started bussing tables and working in the kitchen. When I was 'of age' I started waiting tables and working the bar. Some of my friends had gone to college, but I had stayed home. I have a little "disability" that has made going to school a little difficult. I started taking a few online classes in computers and accounting, but that too stopped. It was just to much money.
Only the people closest to me know about my little "disability". It was not something I liked being public about. I have the ability to read minds of those around me. And believe you me, it is not always fun to hear what people have in their heads. Some people are sick, others are deranged. Even the nicest people just get the most obscene thoughts. I let it slip once in awhile. More when I was a kid. A lot of people think I am just crazy. Others think I "phase out" because of my past. No I 'phase out' when I am trying to either concentrate to hear or not to hear. I have gotten a lot better about it over the years, and have managed to acquire a stone face look to prevent people from seeing my reaction to their thoughts. Otherwise, I would go insane.
I have lived in Bon Temp my whole life. My parents died when I was 5 years old in a flash flood. My brother, Jason and I then moved in with my Gran at the family farmhouse. As soon as Jason was 18, he moved into our parents old place and I stayed with Gran up until her death about a year ago. She had been sick for awhile and went very peacefully. I miss her but know she is in a better place. I got Gran's house because Jason had our parents. He was a little sore that I got all the land and everything, but our parents owned quite a bit a as well. So In my mind, we were even. Jason, who was a sweet guy but was a total man-whore and really only thought of himself, didn't understand why Gran didn't leave him anything. It put a wedge between us for sometime now. I saw him at The Grill on Friday nights and he would come over for dinner once in awhile. But it was safe to say, I was pretty much on my own.
I live off of hummingbird lane. A secluded area of Bon Temps that used to be a thriving farm and plantation area. More toward Hotshots than Menlo, it was pretty quiet out there. Which was just fine for me. There was only one house near mine. The old Compton estate just on the other side of the cemetery from me. Mr. Compton passed away about a month ago and there was talk that they were looking for a relative to take the place over. I hadn't seen anyone there since the funeral.
I made a decent living to keep the roof over my head and food on the table, but not much else. Growing up with little, makes you humble and frugal. I took pride in both. Now listening to Tyler, I was not sure if I would be able to hang on to the old place. God I hope Sam keeps the place open.
"Thank you all for coming in today." Tyler said. "As you know, I have been ill of late and the doctor's say I need to take it easy." We all knew there was something wrong with Tyler, we just didn't know what. I had reached out to hear him, but as always, I had trouble 'hearing' the Dawson boys. I could feel tension and stress and got one phrase '2 months', but that was it.
Tyler continued. "I am planning on selling the bar to my Nephew, Sam Merlotte. He will be taking over within the month." He sighed looking at all of us. "Many of you may remember Sam. He used to come stay with us every Summer." Tyler sat down. Not much for speeches, that man.
Sam stood up to address us. I remembered Sam from when he would come to visit. He had sandy brown hair, medium build and boyish charm. He had lived somewhere in Texas, outside of Plano. Rumor had it, he disappeared off the radar for a few years and when he returned, He had a wad of cash and ideas for a new business venture. Sam had made a fortune and was the talk of Bon Temps. The old ladies just loved to gossip.
When we were young, he would come to visit for the summer and hang with us. Run around like crazy kids. When we were teenagers, we would all hang out at the docks out back, Eat, drink and swim. It was a pretty simple life, but we liked it.
Time marches on as it usually does. JB Monroe, Hoyt Foytenbury and Jason all got jobs with the state road crew and worked for Herveaux construction. Alcide, owned the company with his father and was a friend of Jason's. Tyler's son, Tray, owned a car repair shop in town and really had no interest in the family business. We had all been friends and had fun. Now Sam stood before us, same sandy hair, same boyish smile but wrapped in a suit that, I am sure, cost more than I made in a week.
"Good Afternoon." He begins. "As my uncle has said, I will be taking over in a month. I need to take care of some other affairs, before I venture back to Louisiana." He didn't look happy about that comment. He continues "At which time, I will be closing The Grill for three months for renovations."
We all looked at each other panicked. "Do not worry, you will all receive 3 months salary plus compensation for lost tips." He smiles and I couldn't help notice his eyes stop on mine. "We will be upgrading to accommodate the crowd we are looking to attract." He pauses again. "With the increase in business clientele in the area, plus the location, I think it will better serve the area to cater to this new crowd." He moves a few steps forward. "As soon as we are on the way in the renovations, I will start interviewing for openings for the new place." Another pause. "I will let you know, that we will be catering to both humans and vampires so you will need to be prepared."
Vampires came out of the coffin a year ago with the invention of a synthetic blood known as "true blood". Since then, Vampires have 'mainstreamed' into the world that we knew. Many owned business, and were professionals. None had come to Bon Temps but I did know that there were some in Shreveport. There was a vampire bar over their catering to tourists. I was hoping that was not Sam's intent for The Grill.
"Well isn't that a fine how do you do." Arlene scoffed next to me. She was not a fan of the undead and didn't care who new it. Arlene and I were friends, but I couldn't say we hung out much.
I raised my hand "Excuse me, but we are not going to be doing anything like that bar in Shreveport are we" I ask
Sam looks at me. I know he remembers me, 10 years of summers cannot be erased by a few years with no contact. He smiles "Oh no. This is going to be an upscale establishment. We are going to have food and service area as well as an outdoor area and a nightclub. All very Elegant and trendy. No tourist trap, I can assure you." He looks at us all again. "My intent is to make a place where both humans and vampires can come to do business, and socialize. I will have the idea boards up when I return if anyone is interested in the new concept. We did something similar outside of Plano and it worked very well."
I try to reach out to "hear" Sam but just as when we were kids, I got more feelings than thoughts. A few but nothing like others. I got the same from Tray and Tyler. I was thinking it was a family thing. What I did feel was anxious and energy. I guess he was excited about the new venture.
I had heard about these types of places springing up around the country. Just never thought it would hit little old Bon Temp.
The first few weeks I sat at home, felt like a vacation long over due. I cleaned every inch of the house every morning and sunbathed all afternoon. My only vice in life. Yes I know that it is bad for me, but I can't help it.
The next few weeks I decide to take down all the shutters and paint them, wash all the windows and tended to Gran's gardens. I was not the green thumb she was, but I tried. They looked very nice and the roses were just as pretty as when Gran tended to them. I was also getting anxious and fretful. I had conserved my 3 months pay so that I would be able to live on it as long as I could. There were no guarantees I will get a job at the new place. Then I will have to think of what else to do.
At night, I would hang out with my best friend Tara, go to the movies or just sit on the front porch and read. I wasn't much of a bar girl. I do like to dance, a lot, but with money being tight, I was not ready to throw it all out the window. Being in large crowds was not easy for me. It takes a lot of energy to block thoughts. I did need to be around people to practice my shields. But being home, alone was nice as well.
I had been going along like this for almost 2 months. I think I had run out of things to do. When I started to think how I could organize and label the Christmas decorations in the attic, I new I had to think of something. I sat down on the front porch swing, thinking of what jobs are available for someone with my limited skills until Sam called, if he ever did. Right in the middle of my mental list of places to call, the phone rings.
"Hi Sookie, Sam Merlotte" He says.
"Hey Sam. What can I do for you?"
"Just wanted you to know that we will be interviewing this coming Sunday. The building is finished enough for us to work inside."
I was sad at the decision to completely rebuild The Grill from the ground up, but lets face it, I am a waitress with a limiting disability and can not do much else. I needed the job "Okay Sam, what time can I come in."
He paused for a moment "How about Sunday 9pm?"
That seemed rather late but I agreed and thanked him.
I had not been to the worksite since they actually demolished The Grill. And I mean, they tore the whole place down. Right to the foundation. Then, they dug that up the foundation. I understood they needed a larger one for what they were planning. I did. I was just happy Tyler was not around to see it. I think it would have broken his heart.
A week after the final transfer of property, Tyler passed in his sleep. It was sad, but we all thought he waited until all his affairs were in order. We had spent 3 days with Tray and Sam just came to town for the funeral. He was friendly enough, but you could tell, that his time away had strained his relationship with his extended family. Not having too much family of my own, I was a little sad for him.
People were very upset with the turn of events. But Sam kept insuring everyone, they would like the end result. The only problem was, The Grill was some peoples home away from home. The "new" establishment was not going to cater to them any longer. They had already started going to the "Hole", a bar in town and others in hotshots and Menlo. I didn't really like the "Hole" It was dark and dank. Really not a happy place. I'd rather just stay home, if the truth be told.
I was sitting on my swing watching the sun fall in the sky when the phone rang again. I look at my caller id and smile. Should have known it was Tara. Friday night and she would want to go out.
"Hey, did you get a call from Sam?" She asks very enthusiastically.
Tara had always had a crush on Sam. She was my oldest and dearest friend and practically lived at Gran's when we were younger. Her family life was less than adequate and she really couldn't stomach staying with her alcoholic parents for any length of time. So, she would stay at our place. Gran loved having her and I felt like I had a sister. Now she had a small place of her own. She worked the bar for Tyler and did prep work with her cousin Lafayette in the kitchen. She was trying to save money to open a dress shop in town. It had been her dream since as long as I had known her. I knew if anyone could do it, it would be Tara.
"Yes I did." I smile at the phone. She was very transparent in her emotions.
"Well, I have got an idea." When Tara got an idea, you didn't know where it would take you.
"Tara, your last idea was to go to New Orleans for the weekend and you passed out for three days." I laugh.
"This is different" She dismisses me. "Since we are going to be working someplace that caters to Vampires, shouldn't we see some and be able to tell who they are before hand?"
"What do have in mind Tara?" I thought I might know but I was hoping I was wrong.
"Let's go to the Vampire bar in Shreveport?" I hear her excitement through the phone.
"WHAT! Why?" I ask
"Because, I want to know what to expect. I want to see a vampire."
I sigh "You want to see if you can hook up with a vampire"
I love Tara, but she was a little looser in the "love" department than I was. Considering I had never had a boyfriend or anything more than 1 date with any guy, it was safe to say, I had never had a physical relationship with the opposite sex. Okay, lets just admit it. I am a 24 year old virgin. Not that I had anything against sex, It is hard to think of anyone like that when you can hear there every thought. Kind of puts a damper on the whole mood. Especially if they are thinking of another girl when they are talking to you.
Tara on the other hand, liked finding new bed partners. I worried about her sometimes.
"Come on Sookie. It will be fun!" She encourages.
"Okay. " I look at my watch 5pm. "I will pick you up at 8 and we will go."
She giggles and says goodbye.
I picked myself out of the swing and went inside to get dressed. Why did I feel that this was going to be a huge mistake? Oh, because it was Tara's idea.
I jump in the shower and wash, scrub, and polish. Shave all that needs to be shaved and use my favorite vanilla scented body wash.
Wrapping a towel around my body and another around head, I went to the closet to decide what to wear. Well, I thought, I wasn't dressing like a 'fangbanger' that was for sure. I had seen them on TV and magazines. Scantily clad women or Goth wannabes. Barely there outfits all in black, leather or vinyl. No so not me.
I pulled out a white fitted sundress with spaghetti straps and big red flowers on it. I loved this dress. The bodice was fitted and sort of flared out a bit at the bottom, resting right above my knee. I bought it for 'date nights' which I never have. Believe you me, the few guys I had gone on dates, their minds were so far in the gutter, they had to look up to see down. No, it was better I just not try.
I had thought of trying to get Tray to ask me out. I couldn't always hear his thoughts. But what I could here, made me think it would be a waste of time. His thoughts were usually of cars or other non-interesting things. Never did I hear the hint of interest. When I say 'get him to ask me' I mean it. I am a southern lady, and it may be old fashioned, but Gran would roll in her grave if I asked a boy/man out. It just wasn't proper.
I dried my hair and curled it on the ends to give it some bounce. I did very light makeup and a put bit of a shine on my lips. Going into my lingerie draw, I pull out a lily white lacy bra and thong. When I dress up, I like to dress up from the skin out. I was graced with a bountiful bosom and aging gracefully. I still look pretty much the same as I did when I graduated high school. 24 years old and no signs of wrinkles yet. I was hoping for that to stay that way for a long time. Yes, I will admit. I am a bit vain.
I put on my dress and wrap around the ankle red pumps that Tara made me buy on our last trip to Shreveport "They are a gotta have" She instructed me. I thought they were a little risqué but oh well, they did look nice with the dress. Grabbing my little evening purse and ran out the door to my little yellow Malibu. I don't care what anyone said. It is paid for and it was mine. So there.
I drove out to pick up Tara. Her place was almost in Menlo and I had to pass the construction site on the way. When it came into view, I could not believe my eyes. I pulled over into the brand new paved parking lot out front. What stood before me was nothing short of a picture of a old plantation main house. The facade was cream stone with a big dark wood double doors. Huge windows faced the parking lot, but from this angle, I was not sure if they were true windows or just for show. Pilars on both sides of the door made it look larger than it was. You could see that it was at least 2 floors. The porch wrapped around the side with tables piled up and you could see the start of the patio down to the water. In black writing above the Door, it read "Valhalla", in very ornate lettering. It was beautiful. I could not wait to see the inside.
I had to admit. This was good business. After a 2 years of watching Tyler suffer through mounds of paperwork, invoices and time cards, I took it over for him. I automated most of it and setup electronic accounts and internet payments. My online courses had paid off. But by doing the books and payroll for Tyler, I got a first hand look on how hard it was to run The Grill. I laugh at myself remembering, He hated anything to do with a computer. But it gave me insight, Tyler was always just getting by. This place was going to bring in some money. I smile again. 'Good for Sam' I thought.
There were a few lights on inside and I could just make out some muffled voices on the patio. I didn't want to disturb anyone, I reached out with my mind to make sure it wasn't anyone who shouldn't be here. I would hate to have anything happen to the place, so close to completion. But I only felt one presence. That was odd I thought, but maybe they were on their cell phone. I deduce from the feeling that I was getting that it was calm. Also because I got feelings rather than thoughts, I deduce it was Sam and turn to leave. I was going to be late to meet Tara.
"Sookie?" I hear behind me.
I turned "Oh hey Sam." I smile at him "I am sorry, I didn't mean to disturb you. This is just the first time I have seen the place since demolition day." I look past him to the building. "It really is nice. I am sure this place is going to be a real money maker for you."
"You aren't disturbing me Sookie." Smiling as he came down the front stairs that were wide enough for 10 people to walk side by side. "And thank you. It does look nice. I would take you inside, but the scaffolding is still up and I wouldn't want you to get dirty." He came up to about 10 feet in front of me looking me up and down. "You look lovely tonight. Have a date?" He says with a sly smile.
"Oh my, Oh no. I don't date." Why did I just tell him that? "No, Tara and I are going into Shreveport." I trying to recover. What was wrong with me, I had known Sam since I was 6!
"Going dancing?" He asks walking closer to me.
"Ummm, well know." Why didn't I want to tell him. He lifts one eyebrow at me. "You see, Tara thought it may be beneficial to see a vampire before we, hopefully, started working her." I was looking at the ground.
"You're going to Fangtasia?" He asks with wide eyes.
"I guess so. I mean, I am not to sure I want to go, but I am not letting Tara go alone." I sigh "I am sure you remember how she can get." Looking at him his eyes grew wider. I am sure he remembers some of Tara's more harebrain ideas.
"Listen Sookie. Be careful okay. Vampires are not a game." He reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out a card. "I have no right to ask you not to go, but here take this." It is his business card. "My private cell is on the back. I own a house half way between here and Shreveport. If anything happens, call me okay?"
I was taken back. We had been friends, sure as kids. But he hadn't shown any interest, never mind intensions of re-establishing our friendship.
"Thanks Sam." I look up to the name on over the door again. "Valhalla, I like it." I say getting back into the car "I will see you on Sunday"
"Okay Sookie. Remember what I said. Be careful."
I drive away a bit confused. But, like my favorite character would say "I will think on that tomorrow."
I watch her drive away. A sinking feeling starts in the pit of my stomach.
"Who was that?" My partner asks.
"She is a local girl. I have known her since we were kids." I say
"There is something...different about her." He says.
I turn to look at him, and he has a very curious look on his face. I have seen many of his expressions over the last few months, but never had I seen this one. It was a little unnerving.
"She is a very special girl, yes." I say "She was the one I told you used to do the books for my Uncle."
"Ah yes. They were quite impressive. I am not sure my own accountant keeps such accurate books." He says looking out at the road as if he could still see her. "Most intriguing"
"Anyway, what do you think about the additions?" I ask
"I think they will serve us well." He says "You are having interviews on Sunday still?"
"Yes" I say "And I have scheduled them after dark as requested".
"Very well, I will be here and observe. We will then discuss who to hire." We walk to the back so that he can get into his red Corvette, parked in what will be the employees parking area. "I have to get back to Shreveport."
"Northman, She is heading to Fangtasia. " I say. "Her friend Tara is a bit of a wild child. But Sookie." I pause for a moment. "Sookie is different. I would hate to see anything happen to her."
"Yes shifter, I heard" He says with a smirk on his face. "Don't worry, no harm will come to that Sweet Southern Flower."
With that he drives off.
Why the HELL did I get mixed up with Vampires! I shake my head. Because it was good business. But something was telling me that Eric Northman was not going to be the "silent partner" I had hoped he would be.
I walk back into the club to lock up.
A/N So, tell me what you think? Interested in seeing where this takes us?