AN: Thank you so much for taking the time to read through this! This is my first shot at this whole fanfiction thing and I hope you enjoy it. I have no idea how the world of fanfiction works, so please tell me if there is anything you all do before publishing (Beta something or other?). Love you all!
Disclaimer: I, unfortunately, was not clever enough to come up with these characters myself. The credit and the brilliance belong to Charlaine Harris. Thank you for letting me take the characters for a spin!
I felt the familiar rush of hot, humid Louisiana air on my skin as I stepped off the tiny commuter plane and gave a small, satisfied sigh. It'd been six months since I'd been back to see my Gran and brother. Six months since I'd been in this heat and humidity. Of course, this time was going to be a bit more permanent than my past trips. This time I'd be moving into my Gran's house in tiny Bon Temps until I could set up my permanent residence in Shreveport.
I'd been living in Boulder, CO since I'd graduated from LSU four years ago. I had always planned on staying in Louisiana, near my Gran and Jason, but opportunity came knocking and I couldn't turn it away. I'd been offered a job working as a contributor to Palate magazine fresh out of college. Yes, I had partially been given the job because the magazine was owned by Carmichael Publishing and I had been roommates with one Amelia Carmichael, but beggars can't be choosers!
Amelia had wanted to return home to Colorado to be near her father, who had decided to set up permanent residence at his Aspen home. Well, semi-permanent at the very least. He seemed to be off gallivanting to some corner of the world all the time. Of course this left us with both the sprawling loft in downtown Boulder and their mansion in Aspen open for Amelia and I to use whenever we liked.
It's been a great job, and I've learned a ton both about publishing and about food and cooking. My column and blog were the most visited items on the Palate website. But then, about a month ago, two things happened which made me rethink my future in Boulder. Amelia had gone on vacation to her family's vacation home in Greece and had brought back a souvenir in the form of one Greek shipping heir of a husband. Yep, husband. They'd met once before when they were teenagers, and had run into each other (literally) at a party on the isle of Mykonos. One week later, Amelia Carmichael was Mrs. Stavros Kostopolous. Amelia is a bit rash and impulsive like that, but I hadn't imagined her actually getting married. She'd always been more bed and less wed, so it came as quite a surprise.
Amelia and Stavros had been really wonderful and inviting upon their return and both insisted that I continue living in the loft. I, however, felt out of place. Sure, I'd made friends along the way in Colorado. I'd even had a few serious boyfriends and had just broken up with Quinn within the last six months, but I didn't have any real ties to Colorado outside of Amelia.
Then, I'd received the call from Jason that Gran had taken a bad spill and had broken her hip. After our parents died when we were little, Gran was all we had. I'd grown up in her house – all of my firsts were tied there. First date, first kiss, first boyfriend, first… well, you know what comes next. Heck, even my first published article was about Gran's kitchen and her famous cheese grits. About five minutes after that phone call, I'd made the decision to move back. I talked to my editor, Portia, about my plans and by the end of the week, everything had been taken care of. Palate was a west-coast food and cooking magazine and they had wanted to expand their market share east of the Mississippi. So I, Sookie Stackhouse, would be their first east coast contributing editor. It really is a great honor. I'll be their youngest contributing editor in the history of Carmichael Publishing. With the title come some additional responsibilities I hadn't had in Colorado, one of which was that I would have to travel a bit more than I was used to. The trade off was that I could choose my own home base.
Jason and I had made the decision to move Gran into an assisted living facility in Shreveport. Bon Temps didn't have the medical sophistication or care that Gran would require. Jason had been living with Gran for the past few years and we had decided that I would move in with him until I could find something more permanent close to Gran. I packed up everything I owned and Carmichael Publishing had hauled everything, with the exception of what I could fit into two suitcases, to a storage facility in Shreveport. They'd even hired someone to drive my car east and drop it off at Gran's house. To think that it all had happened within a month was a bit crazy.
I don't know exactly how long my phone had been ringing since I heard it, but I quickly reached into my purse and pulled out my Blackberry. "Hello?" I asked, unfamiliar with the number that had flashed across the screen. "Sook!" the voice said on the other end. "Are ya here already, or what?" It was Jason, my older brother. "I've been waiting in my truck for you for the last thirty minutes!"
"Hey Jas," I said as I grabbed my last suitcase. "Yeah, I'm just getting my luggage now. Should be outside in a tic." I shifted my phone to my shoulder so I could get my bags on the cart. "Did you get a new phone number again?"
"Yeah," he said with a sign. "A gal I met a few weeks ago in Shreveport wouldn't leave me alone, so I thought I'd get a new one again." It had to be the fifth time he'd changed numbers in the past two years. It was always the same story; some lovesick girl calling Jason incessantly after he'd loved them and left them. Of course, his behavior was a major contributing factor. He had quite the reputation as the local Lothario. Hell, probably the Parish Lothario by now. I had never met anyone that was quite as good with the ladies as my brother. A wink and a flash of his famous smile had panties dropping faster than he could say Stackhouse. Unfortunately, along with the shedding of clothes came undying love and devotion – something that famous smile couldn't easily erase.
"Whatdya do this time Jas?"
"Aw hell Sook, I'll tell ya about it when you get out here." With that, we hung up the phone and I made my way out to his waiting pickup truck. After we'd put my luggage in the bed and settled in the cab, I persisted. "What did you do Jason?"
Jason glanced over at me with a grimace as he pulled out of the parking lot. "Thought maybe you'd forget about that, guess I shoulda known better." I kept my eyes on him waiting for an answer without saying a word. "Well, I met these two gals at a new bar in Shreveport – actually at Pam and her brother's new place. She tell you much about that?" Yes, I had heard all about it from Pam. "Anyway, real nice place. Way fancier than any place around here. So me and Hoyt decided to drive into town and see what all the fuss was about. All kinds of pretty girls were there and these two gals come up and start talking to the two of us. Turns out they're sisters. Well, one thing leads to another and I end up going home with one of 'em." He began to shift uncomfortably in his seat. "And as I was leavin' her house, her sister called me. So I went to pay a visit there too."
"Jason Stackhouse!" I exclaimed. "Two sisters in one night?! That's bad, even for you!" I shook my head, unable to stop myself from laughing. Jason had always managed to get into crazy predicaments. Ever since he'd hit puberty the girls had been throwing themselves in Jason's path. We'd been stocked with fresh baked goods every Friday from one cheerleader or other when he'd been on the football team. By the time he was 18, he'd been with nearly every woman in Bon Temps between the ages of 18 and 35 and some well beyond the age of 35.
I couldn't even remember how many times Gran or I had gone to answer the front door only to find some protective papa with a shotgun in his hands looking for Jason. Or even worse, when it wasn't a papa at all, but a husband who had caught Jason with his wife. I'd learned how to deal with a conflict from a very early age. "It's a shame you are as handsome as you are. It just leads you to no good."
"Amen to that. Though I guess I wouldn't trade my Stackhouse genetics for just about anything. Sure has helped me through a predicament or two." When I made a disapproving sound he looked over and continued. "Oh Sookie, don't even tell me that your long blonde hair and those baby blues haven't gotten you out of a tight spot or two. I know you too well for you to lie about that." I giggled. It was true. As much as I believed in feminism, there were times when a bat of an eyelash or a low cut blouse was much more effective than a well-reasoned argument.
"Hey," I asked, changing the subject. "Where are we going?"
Jason had driven us into downtown Shreveport. It was amazing the change the Streetscape project had on to the downtown area. The area that had been rundown when we were little was completely revitalized and busting with shops, cafes and bars. Back when our parents had been alive, everyone had commuted into the city and had lived in the suburbs. Now it was a Mecca for the young working class, ripe with lofts and trendy retail space.
"I just need to run a quick errand. Told Gran I'd pick up some toffee and bring it to her. Didn't figure you'd mind." He pulled onto Market Street and up in front of a brightly colored candy store that had a line outside the door.
"Of course not!" I said eyeing the line. "I am just a bit tired from travelling all day. Do you mind if I stay in the truck while you run inside?"
"Not at all," he said leaning across the truck and kissing my forehead. "It's nice having you back Sook." And with that he was out of the truck. I watched him saunter up to the line and was amused by all the leers he received from the ladies in line. He wasn't in line for two minutes before a cute little brunette had struck up a conversation with him. I rolled down my window, smiled and shut my eyes, leaning back against the headrest and taking in the smells of the South.
I must've fallen asleep, as I was jarred awake by the sound of shattering glass. I nearly hit my head on the roof, I jumped out of my seat so quickly. I think I would have if the seatbelt hadn't held me in place. "Ow," I said, rubbing my hip bone where the seatbelt had dug in. Once I'd determined that there was no permanent damage, I looked around for the offending sound.
The street was bustling with activity. Market was one of the busier streets in downtown, filled with restaurants and bars. It'd be a great place to review for Palate. I was sure I could find a few gems to write about. Thankfully I had an in… well, sort of. Pam had promised me that her brother Eric would introduce me to all the top chefs in the area. They'd just opened a bar somewhere in the neighborhood, and while Pam had been busy marketing to the yuppie crowd, Eric had been busy making in-roads with all of his neighbors. Granted, I wouldn't know Eric from Adam, so it was a bit of a stretch. I'd only met him once and that had been for about five minutes while he was visiting for Christmas. I'd been a blubbering mess over stupid Bill Compton and couldn't even tell you what Eric looked like. But Pam had promised to work her magic, and I would have to rely upon her.
I decided to get out of the truck and stretch my legs in hopes of getting a better view of the street and neighborhood. About halfway down the block, there was a big white delivery truck with a few guys standing outside yelling something or other. There was broken glass all over the ground. Aha, I thought. So that's what had startled me. I was just about to step back into the cab of the pickup when I noticed him.
He was standing near the delivery truck, obviously related to it somehow. Yet, he looked completely out of place on the busy street. The business people were all in suits and ties and the delivery men were in their uniforms. Yet this mystery man, this divine creature, was wearing jeans and a tight fitting t-shirt. Sure, there were tourists in jeans and t-shirts, but this guy looked like a rock star. His jeans were tight and showed off a rather impressive rear end to perfection.
You always read about how celebrities and public figures have an aura about them that just draws people in. Well, as far as I was concerned, Mr. Gorgeous was as if Brad Pitt and Bill Clinton had a baby for all this guy's magnetism. Try as I might, I just couldn't look away.
He was easily 6'4", head and shoulders above the delivery men he was talking to. And his blond hair was pretty close in color to mine – only you could tell his wasn't highlighted like mine was. Oh sure, I was a natural blonde, but a girl has to get help where she can these days. Now, I don't normally go for blonds… I'm guessing my brother has something to do with that. All of my boyfriends have had dark hair, but right now I was thinking I was more than happy to change that pattern. My base impulses and primal needs were thinking Mr. Perfect Deliciousness was practically made to order.
I knew I was staring. Honestly I did. I just couldn't stop it. Thankfully he was too wrapped up in his business to notice a girl who surely looked demented staring at him with her jaw on the floor. "Sook," I heard Jason call from behind me. I turned around quickly to face him, hoping my smile wasn't too demented. "You ready?" I took one look back at Mr. Deliciousness and sighed. He was unloading a box from the delivery truck. "Yeah, let's go."