A/N: Charlaine Harris owns everything, I own nothing, nada, zero, zip, zilch.
I have no Beta so all mistakes are my own. If anything is confusing please let me know so I can clarify.
Confession 1: This story was inspired by our illustrious fanfic diva FarDareisMai2 story "Bonds". Its a fun, fast paced romp with an ah climactic finale that I recommend highly. There are a couple minor similarities but the journey my characters go on is quite different from hers. I don't think I would have ever found the nerve to try writing my little stories without Bonds.
Confession 2: I've been fiddling with this story for months. I don't think its ready but if I don't post it now I'll chicken out and it'll never see the light of day. ..er ...night. Sometimes you just have to take the plunge. I'm not sure my writing skills are adequate to expressing the story the way I want, but I guess we're all going to find out! LOL!
Lastly : This is a Vampwich story so there will be no Bill/Eric hate in this story. So if you're a hater(and you know who you are) ,the door is to your left. This story is rated M for sexual content in later chapters, but first Sookie and the gang need to figure out their nonsense a little.
I hope you enjoy the journey. On with the show!
Hunched tightly behind Eric, I gasped as the burning sensation kept spiking everytime one of my limbs became exposed. Eric was doing his best to shield me, but he was naked and couldn't make a move toward our antagonist without exposing me to the bright light that seemed to be filling the woods next to my home. I could barely keep my eyes open enough to see how this was affecting Eric who was bravely protecting me, but I could hear his low groaning which sounded like he was in pain as well. The weird part is I wasn't as scared as you'd imagine. Mostly, I was angry. It was just so unfair that I couldn't have a little fun for once without getting attacked by someone who had it in for me. So here I was crouched behind Eric thinking that my luck had finally run out. I'd survived Weres, witches, the fellowship, vampires, and run of the mill low lifes just so I could die here in the cemetery next to my house where all the Stackhouses are buried….gosh….how convenient. As everything started to go black, it suddenly occurred to me, that the last thing I was going to see on God's green earth was Eric's perfect ass.
At least God has a sense of humor.
SOME DAYS EARLIER …………………….
I don't know why I had allowed Amelia, my witchy roommate ,to talk me into throwing a last minute Halloween party. Yet here we were methodically filling out invitations, going over a supply list and a list of who to invite. Octavia had been invited to New Orleans that weekend for some major witches function. I had a feeling that Amelia having this party was a way to keep busy and not be disappointed about not being invited. The partywasn't going to be on Halloween proper since Amelia ,had some ceremony that she was invited to with some local witches here in Renard Parish . I made it a habit to not ask her too many questions about this. Amelia is a pretty straightforward person, so when she doesn't volunteer information, it's a good bet that its private. The other reason to not have it on Halloween itself was that I was working at Merlottes that night and it was also a full moon. Since Amelia is currently dating Tray Dawson a local mechanic and Were,attending would have been an issue for him. He's a terrific guy and I definitely wanted him there. I had also planned on inviting a few Weres and my shifter boss as well, so the night before Halloween was what we figured would work best. Amelia insisted on making it a costume party, although I had my doubts about this since finding costumes at the last minute could be a hassle for people (not to mention me).
So here we were filling out our invitations that Amelia had made herself. They were shaped like a cat and opened up with the information. I had noticed that they bore more than a slight resemblance to Bob the cat, but since I wasn't sure this was deliberate and Bob could still be a sore subject ,I let it go. I was also trying to figure out the financial split on this.
"Do you want me to go get this stuff this weekend or just give you the money for it '?
"Oh, I'll do it Sookie, don't worry about it "she said. "Once I've gotten everything, we'll go over the receipts and you can pay me back, okay"?
We had decided to stick to simple stuff like snackfood, veggie dips, maybe some easy hot snacks like pigs in blanket, hot apple cider, soda ,and beer. And True Blood of course, since I had decided to go ahead and invite a few vampires. Actually, now that I thought about it this was probably the largest group of people I'd ever invited to my home, so I was a little nervous whether anyone would come.
I actually had the day off so I decided now was as good a time as any to go hunt for a costume, plus I had a few errands to run ,so off to Shreveport I went . I had one invitation to hand deliver first. I put on a light jacket since it had taken to getting a little crisp at night as Autumn tends to do even though it was still nice during the day. Amelia bent over her lists, waving at me vaguely as I ran out the door grabbing my purse.
I had decided to invite my neighbor and former lover Bill Compton to the party. While we would never be the same as we had been when we were together, I had realized over the past couple months that I just didn't have the energy to hate someone forever. And I knew that a tiny part of me..a very very tiny part…missed him a little. I realized that Bill wasn't going anywhere and neither was I. Not to mention, Bill stood a pretty good chance of outliving me by centuries if he avoided pointy wooden objects. So I might as well make the best of it. I was bumping along our little side road that our houses stood off of in the darkening twilight figuring he'd be up soon. I parked the car and while I waited decided to call a few of my invitees and give them a heads up that I was sending invitations out. Calling Pam's cell I got her voice mail, so I left her a message and apologized for the lateness of the invitation and the fact that it was a costume party. At this point I saw Bill's front door open and he walked on to the porch. I got out of the car.
"Sookie, it's good to see you, is everything okay?" His thin pale face had a slight eagerness to it . Best to squash any misunderstandings right now.
"Everything is fine Bill, may I talk to you for a minute"?
"Of course, would you like to come in"? He held the front door open.
"No, I can only stay a few minutes, out here is fine' He gestured toward the rocking chairs on the porch and we sat down.
"Amelia and I are having a Halloween party and are inviting a bunch of different people. I wondered if you'd be interested in coming?" I held out one of the cat invitations and Bill took it, reading the print inside carefully.
"It's a costume party"?
"Yeah, I know its kind of last minute for finding a costume, I'm sorry about that"
"No, it'll be fine, I'm sure I'll think of something" He looked at me with his dark eyes shadowed in the overhead light of the porch. He seemed to want to say something, but looked down at the invitation again. "Thank you for inviting me, I appreciate it"
"It's no big thing Bill" I waved my hand casually, trying to display how not big this was, but he ignored me.
"No, Sookie , its a big deal to me. I know you've said that we will never be together again because of all that has happened, but I would really like to remain friends with you, if that's possible." He paused, glancing up at my face. I tried to keep a neutral expression. " I miss our friendship a great deal. Just being able to talk with you ….is very important to me. And I'd like to be a friend to you, I'd really like to have that again, if you'll permit it" He stopped after this little speech, checking to see how I was taking all this .
Unfortunately, I understood what he meant. After all the horrible events we had gone thru together and his betrayals ,which were partially his own stupid fault and partially just crappy vampire bullshit circumstances depending on what angle you viewed the situation from , I did miss him to a degree. I missed being able to just talk to him about whatever was going on in my life and sometimes about nothing at all. I missed being able to just pick up the phone and call him to ask a question without it being a big deal. Bill had been a wonderful listener and terrific at helping me sort thru the various details of my life when we were together. Finding out Queen Sophie had sent him to me deliberately had been the most devastating thing that had happened to me after my parent's death, Gran's murder and things I had gone thru with my Uncle Barlett when I was a kid. When I was with him I was more secure than I'd ever been in my life. And all that had been destroyed.
Missing my lover was tough, but in the end I missed my friend the most. Bill sat quietly while I rolled these thoughts around my head, another wonderful Bill trait. I sighed heavily.
"Bill, I would like to be friends with you. You're my neighbor and I've known you a while now. I'd rather we get along. If you understand that's all it will be and you're comfortable with that, then we can try ,okay?"
He gave me a very rare Bill Compton smile, obviously pleased with my little statement. "I think I can handle that'
Relieved with this hurdle being passed, I stood up to go, "Okay, I'll see you at my house then? "
"I'll be there with bells on" he said, still smiling at me.
I had to giggle a little at that. "Is that part of your costume? No! " I held up my hand. " I don't want to know. I want to be surprised"
"Very well Sookie, I'll see you then "He stood up and brushed my cheek with his cool lips. I went back to my car. That had gone well enough. I was pleased I had some type of situation settled with Bill. Maybe we could make it work, maybe not. But I'd offered him a shot at rebuilding a friendship with me, hopefully he was up to it.
As I pulled away, I checked my messages on my cell. Sure enough, there was a return message from Pam. She was nothing if not efficient. Eric wouldn't have her working for him if she wasn't. " Sookie my friend , I would love to accept your invitation to your party. I'll talk to Eric about getting the evening off. As to your concern about the costume, don't worry, I'll think of something "
As I drove to Shreveport I debated whether to stop at Fangtasia to give Pam her invitation and find out if she knew Rasul's address or could just give him my invitation. I had met the vampire Rasul in New Orleans working for Queen Sophie and he was one of the few to survive the takeover when his own sheriff had perished. Rasul had been one of the few vampires I'd ever met who was friendly and had a sense of humor, but I'd never spent any time around him and decided that a party full of people would be the safest way to do that. Not to mention I didn't want to give him the wrong idea. After all the events of the past year with the takeover and everything I concluded that it never hurts to have friendly vampires on your side.
Shreveport has a lot more shopping options than Bon Temps, so I checked out some of the department stores and party shops next to them. They were already starting to look a little picked over and I just couldn't find anything that appealed to me. I didn't want to look silly or sleazy and I was hoping I'd see a costume and go "ah ha"! , but that didn't happen. By the time I came out of the last store it was full dark and the street lights were casting their yellowish light over the street.
Since I hadn't eaten for hours I was hungry and stopped at a snack stand for a soft buttery salted pretzel with a large lemonade. The kid behind the counter gave me two pretzels in my bag and I pointed it out to him, but he said since they were closing soon it was two for one. What's a little more butter and salt, right? So I walked down the sidewalk munching my pretzels and sipping my drink. There were still people out shopping and some couples strolling along looking in store windows. Passing couples who are in the initial lovey dovey stages can be irksome when you're not with anyone. I tried not to think about my current manless state and focus on the positive things in my life. I had a decent job with a great boss who was also one of my best friends, a house and a car that were paid for and roommates helping pay the bills.
As happens when I'm trying to not think about men, Eric came to mind. I hadn't heard from him in months since the Nevada takeover and didn't really know where we stood. We had managed to not have our "talk" since he'd gotten his memories back from when he'd had amnesia and stayed at my home. While I had been forced to realize I had a definite affection for him that was not tied to the blood bond we shared , my feelings were still mixed and I really had no idea what he thought. In some ways I was hoping the issue would just disappear and on the other hand I desired resolution, so I could move on with my life.
Thinking these aggravating thoughts, I rounded a corner and almost choked on my pretzel when I realized the subject of said thoughts was standing in a lit up shop right in front of me. It was a men's clothiers, the type of shop that does custom suits and tailoring. I crept up to the window and peeked in.
Eric is one of those people that when you havn't seen him in a while you forget how beautiful he is. You can't not notice him when he walks into a room and its not just because he's almost 6 ½ ft tall. He has a bold face that would rival a model, long blond hair that springs from his head like a lion's mane, striking big round blue eyes and the body of a god. The only bad part is he knows it.
He was standing in front of a 3 way mirror wearing an obviously unfinished suit. There were 2 men fluttering around him with measuring tapes, checking figures and pulling the fabric this way and that. Even with the unhemmed pants and the structure stitching on the jacket, Eric still made the suit look amazing. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten about our stupid blood bond and sure enough, Eric swiveled around and fixed his brilliant blue eyes directly on me. He gestured for me to come in, so I pushed my way in the door, jingling the shopkeeper's bells.
Acting like he had just seen me yesterday, he waved his hand at his image in the mirror and said "What do you think Sookie"? It was a muted sage green pattern that set off his pale skin and blond hair beautifully. When it was finished it would probably make him look like the cover of Vampire GQ, if there were such a magazine. But for some reason I was feeling a bit shy, like he would know I had been thinking about him a few minutes before.
"It looks great Eric, really great "trying to sound excited. The older tailor said a few words to Eric in what sounded like Russian and Eric answered back in the same language. They toyed with the jacket for a minute, then the tailor took it off of Eric and went into the back with the other man. Eric turned toward me and walked over, wrapping his long arms around me burying his face into my hair.
"I've missed you," he murmured "And you smell wonderful by the way" .
It was hard to remember that I was really annoyed with him for ignoring me for months when my face was buried in his firm chest and the stupid bond was making me feel all warm and happy. God, I hated it.
"I've missed you too" I admitted," especially since I havn't heard from you in so long" I tried to keep the irritation out of my voice, but probably failed.
"You know I've been dealing with the new King and the repercussions from the takeover. You understand that don't you? Are you unhappy because we havn't had our talk'"? He spoke evenly and matter of factly.
I told myself I understood, but a part of me also asked why he didn't have 5 minutes in his day to call me and see how I was doing. But what I said was " Well, yeah, it just seemd like..you know …you wanted this …thing …between us to be resolved in some way and …then ..nothing".
His right hand tilted my chin up to look at him directly. He looked at me seriously and said "Sookie, we will reach an understanding, it just seemed that before you weren't that anxious to do so. " Okay, he had me there, I was the one who had initially dragged my feet on talking about our feelings and what our situation was with the blood bond thing etc, but now I just wanted to get it over with and move on. At that point the tailor came back in and asked Eric some more questions, pointing at the unhemmed trousers Eric was wearing. Eric made a few comments and went into the dressing room with him. "I'll be back in a moment "
He came back out dressed in his more usual jeans and Fangtasia t-shirt ,slipping a black denim jacket on as he walked out .
"Come, Sookie, lets go" He surprised me by holding out his hand, but I took it and we left the shop. This was a new trend, he'd held my hand when he took me to meet my fairy great grandfather Niall for the first time too.
It was weird walking down the street hand in hand with Eric. We looked like any other couple that we passed, perusing the windows that now appeared very bright against the dark night and murky street lights. I noticed admiring glances from other women occasionally directed at the towering Viking vampire and some annoyed jealous ones from their significant others walking next to them. Eric wasn't saying anything, just looking around, while lightly holding my hand as we strolled. I didn't know where we were going and I didn't know what to think or say, so I tried to take another bite of my remaining pretzel but was having trouble juggling that ,my purse on my arm and the drink.
'Here, let me help you" Eric reached over with his other hand and took the purse off my arm, draped it over his and took my drink ,so I could easily handle my snack. I figured the odds of my purse being snatched had just gone down substantially, so I let him. He didn't seem uncomfortable wearing a woman's purse on his arm.
"Sookie, what brings you to Shreveport this evening? I don't get the impression you planned on seeing me"
"Ah, no, I didn't. Amelia and I are throwing a Halloween party the day before Hallow's Eve and I'm running errands. I also need a costume and Shreveport has a better selection of stores than where I live. Which reminds me, do you think you could give something to Pam?"
"Of course, what is it "?
"An invitation, and do you know an address or phone number that I can contact Rasul? I thought I'd invite him too. Pam actually already called me back and said she could come if you would allow it".
"Why are you inviting Rasul"? his eyes narrowed slightly as he asked, "What contact have you had with him"? Just what I needed, some possessive vampire crap from a vampire I hadn't seen in months.
"Eric, its not like that, I met Rasul when he was with Sophie-Anne in New Orleans and he's always been nice to me. I have no intention of getting involved with him, but I want to remain friendly and inviting him to a party with a lot of other people there seemed to be the best way to do this, okay"? I watched his face closely as he absorbed this information. It was irritating that he seemed to feel like I had to answer to him, but in the case of Rasul I could kind of understand since Rasul was his underling.
"Am I invited too"?
Actually,it hadn't occurred to me that Eric would be interested in coming to my party. I just figured he'd see it as beneath his interest in some way, especially since there would be Weres and Witches there.
"Sure you can come, I …ah…didn't think you'd be interested though. Who's going to watch Fangtasia"?
"Clancy and Felicia can do it for one night, Halloween night is a different story. We all need to be there then. "
"Um, Eric, just realize this is a costume party and there will probably be some Were's, shifters,and witches there. Are you okay with that? "
Eric stopped and looked down at me with astonishment written on his face . "Let me get this straight, are you worried I'm going to come to a party in your home and be rude to your other guests"??
Actually, that was exactly what I was worried about. "Eric, you've made your feelings about Weres pretty clear and after your previous dealings with Witches ..well.. let's just say I'm concerned "
His mouth quirked a bit around the edges and he shook his head at me. "Sookie, give me some credit, I know how to behave at a party. I run a nightclub that all kinds of people frequent remember?"
I sighed, "Okay, here let me give you an invitation and you can give one to Pam and Rasul too" . We sat down on a park bench and I reached for my purse. I handed him 3 of the cat invitations. He gave them an amused look then slipped them into his jacket pocket.
"Is there any type of theme to this costume party "? He asked.
"Um, no,whatever you like ,you know ,someone famous, something iconic , some type of character ,anything you want really . It's pretty casual, we'll have snacks and we'll have Trueblood there." I polished off the remaining pretzel and took another sip of my drink.
He slid his arm around me and leaned in close which definitely got my heart thumping a little faster." How about we get our situation resolved as well and have our talk that night"?
"Eric, I'm having a party to have fun with my friends, not agonize over the past with you, why can't we do it some other time"?
"No, Sookie, we need to come to some type of an understanding, how about after your guests leave, we have a talk, just talk, I promise. Then you can stop looking at me with dread everytime I see you. Won't that make everything easier?" He said all this in a very calm, practical sounding voice without the pushy commanding element that he'd used in the past that usually ended up with me losing my temper, yelling back at him, and then pointing my finger at him which he hated.
Since he was being so reasonable, I thought about it. He was right, I was tired of having too many unknowns hanging over me and even if we ended up coming to an unpleasant conclusion, at least it would be resolved one way or the other. I'd taken a big step to moving on with the Bill situation maybe now Eric and I could find some sort of "normal" whatever that would be. Stability is what I craved at this point. "Okay, we'll talk, just talk, you understand? After the party please, I want no mention of this during, okay?
"I understand" he replied, "thank you lover". He said it with that soft rumble, like a far off thunderstorm and my spine tingled just a bit. I had a feeling that "just talking" was going to be difficult for me.
" Sookie , now I have to get to work ,Pam's probably wondering what's keeping me and I bet that's her right now". He said as he looked down at his cell phone's little glowing face. He stood up, his tall form beautifully framed by the street lights. "Would you like me to walk you to your car?" It was nice of him to ask and not the sort of thing he usually would have done in the past.
" No ,Eric I'm parked in the garage across the street ,the one attached to the shopping center , I'll be fine, thanks " He bent and gave me one of those light butterfly kisses as only he could ,then as we both started to go our separate ways, I looked back " Eric are you going to be okay finding a costume? I know its kind of last minute. "
Eric looked back at me and smiled,"Oh, don't worry Sookie, I'll think of something".
Considering this was Eric, I should have known better.
The day before the party, I finally had some luck. While dropping off books at the library and getting ready to go to the grocery store for some last minute items I ran into an old friend of my Grandmother's. Her name is Betty Jackson and she and Gran went way back to a stone's age. They were both members of the Descendents of the Glorious Dead and she was setting up some type of display at the library when I ran into her. I stopped and helped her carry some large plastic totes and boxes into the library. Turns out they were going to display some historical Civil War era clothing in the library, but that wasn't the best part. They were going to have some meetings and parties there with reenactors wearing historically accurate costumes. So guess who got to borrow a complete outfit provided it came back in good condition and clean? I was pleased as punch .
I raced home to show Amelia. "Hey Amelia"! I called out when I came in the back door ,letting the screen slam behind me. She came in from the living room where she had been rearranging furniture and hanging decorations and lights all day. Martha Stewart has nothing on Amelia when she decides to throw a party, she's goes all out.
" Hey Sook! What's up? Did you get the stuff on my list"?
"Yes I did, but even better than that , I got a costume"! I was practically gleeful. You'd think I'd won the lottery or something.
"Well, don't just stand there, show me"!
I held the large box in front of me like it was fragile. I had been a little nervous since Betty had trusted me with this authentic costume and I didn't want it to get messed up. I had read from her mind how much money and trouble was involved in getting one of these made and I was grateful she thought well enough of me and was missing my Gran to the point that she would allow me to borrow it. She'd also made me promise to give her a photograph of me wearing it, which was kind of sweet actually.
"In my bedroom Amelia, I want to lay it out on the bed and look at it,in case I need to get any wrinkles out". We trooped to my room and I opened the box. The box and the tissue paper in it was acid free for storing fabric without turning it yellow.
Amelia peered over my shoulder as I carefully laid the authentic , according to Betty, Civil War era dress and undergarments. It was brown with small checks and had a white detachable collar and sleeves which were typical. Amelia pulled out the corset, petticoats and other underwear.
"Sookie, this is amazing, is it authentic"?
I explained my fabulous luck with the dress. " It's a reenactors outfit Amelia , so its historically accurate as far as the materials and how its put together with the button and the hooks , but obviously made for a modern day sized person"
"Well yeah, I've seen outfits in museums from that time period and the women are so tiny"!
" Fabric doesn't survive time very well anyway and I would never wear something historical to a party . I'd be scared something would happen to it. Betty actually showed me a couple gorgeous party dresses,like the ones you see in Gone With the Wind ? " Amelia nodded. " They were amazing I would have loved to have worn one, but they're made of real silk and all I could think of was someone spilling a beer on me , so I decided to go with a typical "daydress" like what women wore around the house"
Amelia laughed at that "You've got a point Sookie and this dress being brown won't show soil so much,so you're pretty safe. It would have been cool to see you in one of those fancy ballgowns though with the big hoops"!
"Hey, you never know , maybe someday"! I chortled back.
Amelia and I kept examining the various parts to the outfit ,rustling thru the paper, there were even instructions on how to wear and clean the outfit correctly. I was so pleased with it , and I was a little sad too as I thought that my Gran would have been so happy to have seen me in it " As if she was reading my mind Amelia spoke up " Your Gran was really into this time period right? She would have been stoked "!
Then she caught the expression on my face and for once tactfully changed the subject. "Are you going to need my help putting all this stuff on ? The corset has to be tied and secured from the back, so we can get it to fit you properly. And what's this"? She held up a long filmy cotton dress with no sleeves to speak of that would go down to my knees.
"It's a chemise, it's basically underwear , it goes on first against your skin, then your drawers go under that to cover your legs" I took that out.
"Sookie! It's crotchless'!? she exclaimed .
"Well, I guess it made it easier to go to the outhouse or bathroom outside, whatever, but I'll be wearing my panties underneath, so there" I spoke firmly to get the slightly risqué thoughts I was hearing out of Amelia's head. Sometimes her being such a clear broadcaster was such a bother. "Anyway, the corset goes on over that, then the crinoline which is a sort of relaxed hoop skirt. It's made with linen tape or something instead of bone hoops like on the fancier dresses. Then the first petticoat skirt goes over that and then a second petticoat goes over THAT and then finally the dress itself " I was amazed that I remembered so much of what Betty had told me , but also I was remembering stuff I'd overheard over the years from Gran having her fellow descendents over for iced tea and sandwiches.
"And then we have the stockings and boots "I pulled them out with a flourish.
"Sookie, I just realized this dress is made of wool isn't it? Will you be comfortable the whole party"?
"Well, we're having it at night , and its been pretty cool, plus with the doors opening and closing from smokers going in and out , I'm not too concerned"
"It's great Sookie, I'll help you get into it tomorrow before the party. Now I need your help finishing the lights and getting the rest of the snacks ready , so we don 't have to rush tomorrow. Were you able to find everything at the store "?
"Yes, I followed your list, to the letter" I let only a hint of sarcasm creep into my voice. I was in too good of a mood as we made our way out the backdoor and took some more bags from the car.
I realized I was actually looking forward to the party. We'd gotten a really good response to the invitations. When I was a kid, I'd gone to some parties and sleepovers etc, but not many. My reputation as "crazy Sookie" had kept me from being part of the popular crowd and I'd kept close to my few friends in high school. Now that I was older and hanging around supes a lot , who valued me for the exact same reason humans thought I was so strange, things were different. Plus supes were relaxing to me, for the most part, when they weren't getting me in the middle of skirmishes, minor wars, takeovers etc. It felt nice to realize I'd managed to develop friendships in my adulthood which when I was younger seemed like a far off dream . Not the fake kind you have in high school where you're trying to keep up a certain reputation, but the real kind. The kind that come and help you out when you're in trouble and accept you the way you are. The fact that most of these friends drank blood or turned into animals at the full moon was a minor detail in my book. No one is perfect. If we expect our friends to always be what we want them to be instead of who they are, we're doomed to disappointment. I'd learned that the hard way. Always count your blessings my Gran used to say.
Amelia and I zipped around the kitchen chopping vegetables for the dips and getting the crockpots out. I'd had the idea of keeping the Truebloods in a crockpot with water in it so they would stay warm, rather than having the microwave going constantly during the party. I'd borrowed a second one for the hot apple cider as well. Setting bowls out with their respective bags of chips waiting to be opened, making room in the fridge , and rearranging the furniture took the better part of the afternoon. I left for work at Merlottes leaving Amelia to finish up the pre-party cleaning. Having a clean freak for a roommate is great; but I was worried that when she eventually moved out I would let the house turn into a pigsty from getting lazy about cleaning it myself
Pulling into Merlotte's parking lot I realized I'd left my purse in the trunk of the car. When I opened it I noticed I'd forgotten one bag of groceries from a specialty store Amelia had sent me to, because there's always last minute things to buy when you're getting ready for a party. Giving her a quick call from my cell seemed prudent in case she needed any of these things before tomorrow.
She picked up on the second ring. "Hello"?
"Hey Amelia, it's me, I just realized I left that bag from Joseph's Natural Foods in the trunk. Do you need that now, or can I just bring it back later tonight'? I asked.
"Actually, Sookie I don't think I'll need any of those items like I thought. We really have enough food I think. And that bag of organic coffee I had you buy, well I've got some here and it should be enough. I was thinking I needed coffee for everyone, but of course I don't "! She laughed at this.
"Well, the vamps don't drink coffee, but the Weres do" I replied.
"Tray was telling me the night before a full moon they're all so excited and pumped up anyway, none of them will be drinking coffee, they don't need it"!
"Well, we could just take the coffee back" I said. The coffee had been pretty expensive, I thought.
"Oh, no that's fine Sookie, the coffee will get drunk eventually. It was on special you know" I hadn't even noticed that. All I'd noticed was it was much more expensive than the regular stuff I bought.
"Okay, I just wanted to make sure" I said. "I'll see you tomorrow morning, roomie"
I went into Merlottes to start my night. I was in a good mood , so I avoided speaking to Arlene or having to stand near her. Since she'd gotten involved with these Fellowship of the Sun guys, she was unbearably bigoted and nasty. I didn't need anything negative ruining my nice little vibe. Sam gave me his usual big smile and asked about the party preparations.
"Amelia is at home doing her imitation of a cleaning whirlwind as we speak' I said " and all the food , decorations and everything is pretty much set up".
"What time do you need me there"? he asked . Sam had offered to bring ice from Merlottes big commercial ice maker which was great and had given us a good deal on a small keg of beer instead of us buying the more expensive bottles and cans.
"Oh, about an hour ahead would be fine, so we can set everything up" I replied. " Do you know what you're coming as yet"?
Sam looked at me a little shyly which I had to admit was kind of cute "I'm going to be the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. I don't know why , but I've always liked that guy. "Its pretty easy to find all the stuff for it and I wanted to be comfortable".
"Oh Sam, that sounds great, I can't wait to see it'! It made perfect sense he would identify with scarecrow, especially since he was such a good guy, just like him. I beamed at my boss, trying to picture it, yep not that hard. I went back to my customers and Sam back to his office.
The evening sped along nicely for once and before you know it I was on my way home again, pondering the party the next night. I was as excited as a kid before Christmas. It was silly really, but I wanted everything to go well and everyone to have a good time, especially me. Hopefully, the Weres and Vampires would all decide to get along for one evening and I would like some of Amelia's fellow witches she had invited.
Walking into my house, I checked all the preparations and noted a big tub out for Bobbing for Apples. Corny I know, but Amelia had insisted. There were big pumpkin Jack o lanterns waiting to be lit with big crazy grins. I could still smell the fresh cut pumpkin. I was surprised that Amelia was into some of the "sillier" aspects of Halloween given her being a witch and all , but she had explained that she had no problem making a clear separation between her personal beliefs and the "secular' fun aspects of the holiday. Kind of like Jews and Christians all having Christmas trees even though Christmas trees are actually Pagan. I also noticed she had put up the Bela Lugosi poster which I was nervous about. He was in a fang posturing mode and she had cut out the fangs part and set it up like a Pin the Fangs on the Vampire kind of game. Amelia and I had argued about this since I didn't want the vampires to walk in and be offended plus I thought it was stupid. Amelia had said that once people had a few beers it would be a hoot. And she was going to cast a "minor" spell around it to confuse the blindfolded players. This made me very nervous given Amelia's previous history. Then Amelia had finally won the argument by calling Pam. Pam had said she wouldn't be offended as long as she could play the game, so that was that. I turned out all the lights and went to bed, anticipating tomorrow.
The next morning, I bounced out of bed slipping on my robe and slippers I went to the kitchen and found that a nun had invaded my house. Not a nun actually, Amelia dressed like a nun and not just a plain nun,no sirree bob , but with the whole flying nun headdress on her head. She had told me what she was going to be, but I had to giggle at the thought of my witch roommate of the flexible sexual persuasion dressed as a nun. I wondered what her Dad would think.
"Amelia, you look……amazing…..I think" I choked a little from laughing .
She gave a little twirl for me and said "Isn't it great? I can't wait for Tray to get here. He's taking me on the back of his motorcycle. We're going to ride around a little this afternoon and give the good townspeople some shaking up"! Did I mention that Tray was dressing as a biker? Not a big stretch since he runs a motorcycle repair shop, but why not use what you have I guess. I shook my head in amusement at the visual I was getting and settled down for my coffee and toast.
"Don't worry "she said , "I'll be back in plenty of time to help you get into your dress and the 50lbs of underwear you'll be wearing"
"Ha ha" I replied "We'll see after you've been running around in that habit all day and I think the skirts only weigh about 20lbs not 50"
Later that afternoon, she came back with Tray regaling me with funny stories of all the looks they had gotten while riding around town. Tray helped us finish the setting up and we had everything ready . Once Sam got here with the keg and the ice to dump into the tubs holding the soda, we'd be all set. But first, into my dress , which was an adventure in itself.
The drawers and chemise were easy , but Amelia had to help me with the corset. "This isn't Gone With the Wind "I warned. "Don't try and crush me okay'?
She kept tightening and pulling her way up the corset and I kept my arms up somewhat during the process. Then I stepped into the crinoline hoop skirt. She tied that for me in the back and then we pulled on the petticoat skirts. I was beginning to realize that her joke of 50lbs of underwear wasn't that far off.
"Maybe you were right Amelia, this is a lot to wear" I spoke slowly and carefully, like I would damage the corset if I spoke too loud or something. She helped put the dress over my head and I buttoned it up, straightened the lace collar and sleeves.
"Sookie , you look great"! she exclaimed.
I turned around and looked into the mirror . Even barefoot it did look amazing. Now I understood why all the undergarments. Without those the dress would never had hung off me the way it did. The snugness of the corset and the top combined with the fullness of the skirt which seemed to float away from me as I moved and made my waist seem really small. The stockings and boots finished the outfit. Since I can't do anything with my hair more complicated than a pony tail , Amelia helped me get it fixed properly. We had some old photos in a book to work off of. We parted my hair down the middle very flat then rolled the ends in the back to each side and actually used an old hairnet of Grans to secure it since I didn't want hairpins sticking me in the head all night. An old hairclip made from real bone and inherited from my Gran's Grandmother ,slid across the back holding the hairnet in place. I didn't own any jewelry that was appropriate and adding a lot of makeup didn't seem right, so I dabbed on a touch of blush and lip gloss and left it at that.
The nun and I looked at ourselves in the mirror. Amelia looked very approving. " Not bad Sookie, not bad at all. 'We look like we're ready for a church social." We both giggled at that ." How's all that weight feel"?
I walked around a little. I wouldn't have been surprised if the skirts alone DID weigh around 20lbs, there was so much there, but moving wasn't that hard. "It feels okay, and I think I'm ready for a party" I said, giving her a grin.
At that moment Sam's voice echoed from down the hall "Hey, y'all in here"? We scampered out to the backdoor to help Sam bring the ice and beer inside. He started laughing when he saw Amelia, but he stopped abruptly when he saw me. "Sookie! You look great! It's like you just stepped out of one of those old Civil War photos I swear" He smiled at me ,looking me up and down , then noticed me looking back. "What do you think "? He said, as he turned around. He looked just like the scarecrow with the hat and everything. There was even straw sticking out of his front.
I smiled at him. "It's perfect Sam" and gave him a hug. Amelia cleared her throat and said "hey, beer getting warm here"! We laughed and started lugging everything inside. Sam and Tray greeted each other and we hung out waiting for our other guests. I felt excited and happy. It was going to be a terrific night, I just knew it.
It's amazing how fast a house can fill up. The light was dimming outside with the sky all orange and pink glowing with the aftermath of a beautiful day when the first guests started arriving. Alcide and some of his fellow pack members arrived early. He had warned me they probably wouldn't stay that late since they'd all want to spend at least part of the night changed into their wolf form since the moon was almost full. They had all dressed as 1930's gangsters which seemed appropriate, but I didn't tell Alcide that. He looked very slick and smooth since his normally out of control hair was hidden by a gray fedora that matched his gray striped suit. His carefully knotted tie was green which matched his eyes. Not that I noticed.
"Sookie"! He exclaimed "You look just like one of those old photographs" ! I had a feeling I was going to get tired of hearing that this evening. We walked back to the keg to get a couple beers, me included, hey it's my party gosh darn it. Why not since I'm not going to drive right? We stood back there for a couple minutes chatting about our respective costumes while Amelia was letting in some of her witchy friends. You could tell when they opened the door and saw her because they all just started cracking up.
It suddenly occurred to me that everyone who was coming to this party was a supe or was involved in that world. I had invited my good friend Tara and her husband JB, but they were away this weekend and Hoyt had said he probably couldn't stop by either since he had forgotten what weekend this was and promised to drive his mother to see her elderly aunt who was ailing. The good part of all this I guess was that no one would have to hide what they were for the evening. Trying to see the silver lining, that's me.
I hadn't invited my brother since I still wasn't speaking to him and I didn't know when I ever would. Reminding myself that I had good friends didn't help the pain of being estranged from the only close family I had left. Once again, I reminded myself that I hadn't done anything wrong and to appreciate what God had given me. I was doing that a lot lately.
Amelia was trying to introduce the Weres and Witches to each other which was getting more and more absurd since she was a couple beers ahead of me and her Nun's headdress was sliding a bit. So, when I heard a knock at the door, I went to get it. Claudine was there and looking very …flowery…and when I mean flowery as in a giant flower. Her cheerful face was surrounded by large silky yellow petals and her body and arms were encased in some sort of green spandex material which I assume was the stem and leaves.
"Hello cousin!" she said. Claudine could be cheerful no matter what. It was either uplifting or creepy depending on your point of view. I was a bit concerned as I let her in. I had let her know about the party out of duty, but hadn't expected her to come since I was inviting vampires. Since the vampires would tend to see Claudine as part of the food selection it had seemed prudent that she not attend.
"Ah, Claudine, I'm sort of surprised to see you here" I didn't want to be inhospitable. My Gran would roll in her grave, but then she probably had never had to worry about her guests eating the other guests.
"Oh, don't worry Sookie, I won't be staying too long since I have to help Claude at the club tonight. But I can stay for a little while since Niall's scientists have come up with something really nifty"! I was relieved and curious as to what she was talking about. Seriously, Claudine could probably sell steak knives on tv if she wanted to. Then suddenly, her arm whipped out, I heard the sound of a spray can and was engulfed in a cloud of chemicals.
"Claudine! What are you trying to do, poison me? " As I coughed and gagged. A few of the other guests looked over to see if I was alright. This was even worse than the perfume Ninja women that the department stores hired.
"You know what? I didn't think about whether this was safe for humans". Watching a six foot tall flower get a perplexed expression would have been very funny if I hadn't been worried about getting brain cancer that very second. She started reading the instruction on the back, then said "You're okay Sookie! It's safe for humans in small doses". Oh yeah, like that's supposed to reassure me. I started catching my breath and sipped the last of my beer down to clear my throat. Then her cell started ringing. She put it to her petal/ear immediately "Hey Claude! I'm at Sookie's for a bit. Pause. Can't you wait a bit? Pause. Alright, I'll be there" She put it away with disappointment. "I'm sorry cousin, I have to go, Claude is having a meltdown about something".
"Wait a minute Claudine! What was it you just sprayed me with"? I demanded.
"Sorry! I forgot to tell you didn't I? It's a spray to cover scent so completely it'll even hide it from vampires and Weres. Pretty cool huh?" she waved her leafy arms at me while explaining and walking away. "It was good seeing you cousin, next time we'll get together just us girls. Have fun tonight"! And the giant flower jumped into her car and drove off.
It was time for another beer.
Glancing around my house which was actually filling up a bit, I was glad I had cleaned my room and bathroom up so we'd have two bathrooms for the guests to use. I saw a couple more Were's from Alcide's pack dressed as bikers . There was a witch dressed as a flapper getting her picture taken with Alcide since they had dressed the same time period. There was a butterfly, a princess, a hobo, a nerd, and a whore, although from what I glimpsed in her head this character wasn't a stretch for her. There was also this extremely perky blond woman dressed as a cheerleader, her name was Tiffany. I could have sworn she came in with the nerd, but she was busy chatting up one of the biker Were's. Hopefully, there wouldn't be any trouble.
There was another knock at the door, so I went to get it chewing on a pigs in blanket as I went. Now that it was full dark, I wasn't surprised to see the vampires arriving. I was surprised by their costumes which is stupid right? I did tell them it was a costume party.
Rasul was dressed as Zorro and I must say, with his coloring, made a very good one. He removed his hat, bowed to me with a sweep of his cape, handed me a red rose and said with a pretty decent Spanish accent "Good evening Miz Stackhouse. You are a vision this evening".
I had to laugh and it wasn't just the beer. The accent he was doing reminded me so much of the new King, and knowing the vampires, it was entirely intentional. I curtsied and accepted the rose. "Please come in" I said, since I knew Rasul had never been to my home, he had to be invited across the threshold.
Pam came in behind him and I was immediately glad Claudine had left. She would not have appreciated Pam's costume. Pam was dressed as a fairy. A sparkling, gorgeous fairy with whispery white fabric billowing around her legs and arms, she shone as she stepped into my living room. Her blond hair was up in what I would call a Grecian Goddess style with loose curls cascading back down around her face. She had a fitted bodice that seemed to have silky metallic embroidery of every color in the rainbow. It was dazzling and amazing. She even had gotten outfitted with pointed ears. I stood there and gawked.
"Pam, where on earth did you get that? Its' beautiful"! I exclaimed. A couple of other women came over to look and murmured their admiration. Pam preened and spun a little to catch the light.
"You like it Sookie? I had a seamstress do the basic outfit, but I did the embroidery myself" she said smugly. "You look nice too by the way".
I remembered coming home from the Were war to find Amelia and Pam in my kitchen and Pam had been stitching up a storm. I guess if you're a 19th century woman, being able to sew is not something you get to choose.
"It's fantastic Pam, truly" I hoped she heard that my admiration was sincere. It almost hurt your eyes to look at her chest, not that I was staring, but the colors! I felt like a little starling standing next to a peacock. Amelia ran over and exclaimed all over Pam again. Pam was definitely enjoying the attention. I pointed Rasul towards the kitchen so he could help himself to a Trueblood and checked around the room to make sure everyone had what they needed.
I wasn't having too much trouble holding up my shields since I was relaxed I guess. And it helps when the people around you are not stressed and everyone is happily buzzing along. It's easier to ignore. There was another knock at the door. I opened it to find Sherlock Holmes on my porch.
"Bill"! I probably sounded a little overexcited due to the beers I'd had. He had the coat with the deerstalker cap and appeared to be wearing a dark suit underneath. He looked perfect. I suddenly realized he was staring at me like a deer in headlights. "Bill"! I repeated while I waved my hand in front of his face.
He shook himself a little, took my waving hand in his and kissed it gently. "You look lovely Sookie". If anyone could appreciate what I was wearing it was Bill. I kept waiting for him to say that I looked like the old photographs like everyone else had, but he didn't. Stepping inside, a change came over his face and he leaned back towards me again. "Sookie"?
"Why can't I smell you"?
It was hard not to laugh at the way his nose was squelching trying to catch my scent and the way his eyes were getting wider by the second, especially combined with his usual serious expression. I giggled a little.
"My fairy cousin Claudine sprayed me with some experimental scent cover up, without asking my permission I might add. Are you serious though? You can't smell me at all"?
"No" he replied with a serious tone. He didn't' like that he couldn't smell me since I know that he had enjoyed that element of our relationship greatly. Vampires have extraordinary senses, but their sense of smell is paramount and second only to Weres in tracking ability.
"Well, I'm sure it'll wear off or it'll come off when I shower later". I said. I hoped it would come off. It wasn't like I'd had a chance to ask Miss Speedy Flower Gonzalez before she took off. I made a mental note to call her later and ask, otherwise I'd have to call Niall and I hated to bug him over something this silly.
Motioning Bill to follow me, we wound our way thru the warm bodies in my living room and into the kitchen. One of the Were's lifted his beer cup up and yelled "Hey Sherlock! Where's Watson"? then started laughing uproariously. I rolled my eyes at Bill who gave me a rueful smile in reply. Bill pulled a warm Trueblood out of the crockpot (good idea Sookie, he said) and I grabbed a few more pigs in blanket. Somehow, we made our way out the back door and ended up on the lawn next to the back porch.
"So, Sherlock Holmes huh"? I said, looking over my cup at him.
"I was always a big fan of the stories even when they first came out in various periodicals. They were popular even before they were put down in book form. They were so different for the time and Holmes ways of figuring out crimes was fascinating to me" Bill explained as he took a sip of his Trueblood.
I had to admit, this made perfect sense to me. Bill liked figuring stuff out which is why he'd been such a good investigator for Area 5. It was also why he'd been able to learn computers so quickly at the ripe old age of 175 years. He enjoyed analytical challenges and he remembered everything he saw. The parallel to Sherlock Holmes wasn't difficult to see.
We stood in silence for a moment in the cool night air. It was a relief since the house was getting a little warm with all the bodies and a lot of them being shifters and Weres who tended to run hot anyway.
"Could you do me a favor"? Bill asked. He had an expression on his face I hadn't seen in a long time.
"That depends on what it is Bill"
"Would you mind" he paused delicately "Would you mind lifting your skirt a little, so I can see your petticoat underneath"?
I snorted a little at that, was he serious? Of course he was serious, this was Bill we're talking about here. If I hadn't had a couple beers and been in a totally relaxed mood I probably would have marched back into the house. But instead, I figured what's it going to hurt?
I grasped the skirt and pulled it up slowly about six inches, revealing the white petticoats with their lace trim underneath, my boots and woolen stockings. Not very exciting stuff in this day and age right?
Bill's face was completely captivated as he gazed down at my ankle region and I was flabbergasted to see that his fangs were slowly inching down as his upper lip pulled back to reveal them. His dark brown eyes shifted back up to my face as he said " Sookie, is that costume authentic"?
I flushed a little since I knew what he was referring to. Of course he'd know about the drawers wouldn't he? It was absurd. He'd seen me in skimpier things than this, he'd seen me naked and pretty much accessed every inch of me with his fingers, fangs, and tongue. I couldn't believe he was getting so worked up over a few inches of lace and woolen stockings.
I started to come back with a smart aleck reply when I picked up sudden shock coming from the house and we heard some screams!
Bill's head whipped around, he dropped his Trueblood and rushed into the house at vampire speed with me chugging along behind him clutching my 20lbs of skirt. I couldn't believe it. What NOW?!
I ran into the living room and bumped into Bill's back thinking I'd find a vamp/Were war going on, witches turning everyone into toads, evil fairies, the nerd and the biker fighting over the cheerleader, something. But everyone was standing and staring in silence at the front door.
Eric had arrived.
Next Chapter: The party rolls along , a talk, and an attack
A/N : I'm curious as to the guesses for Eric's costume. It's one of the reasons I decided to start the story with the party . Hint: he's not a Viking.