Disclaimer: I have no rights to all things Southern Vampire Mysteries or to the TV series Justified. In the spirit of fanfiction, I bring to you this little bit of fun between our favorite telepath and a very sexy US Marshal. True Blue Cowboy is a creative writing exercise. No monetary gain is being earned by me in anyway through this fun exercise.
"You're not dead," Dr. Ludwig pointed out.
But I'd come pretty damn close; I'd sort of stepped over the line. There'd been an optimum rescue time. If I'd been liberated before that time, I would have laughed all the way to the secret supernatural clinic, or wherever I was.
But I'd looked at death too closely—close enough to see all the pores in Death's face—and I'd suffered too much. I wouldn't bounce back this time.
Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
~ * o * ~
Seven Years Later
The sweet scents and sounds of summer drew Sookie outside early. After mowing the lawn at the crack of dawn and sunbathing after breakfast, she now found herself elbow deep in her Gran's flower beds. There was a time long ago when she would have thought it a chore; now it made her happy. In an effort to find some inner peace, she had followed her Uncle Dermott's suggestion and started a garden, which eventually grew to an impressive size. Sookie Stackhouse, telepath extraordinaire, was now gardener and farmer. Neither her nor Jason would have ever thought it was possible. The truth was that now a days the size of her vegetable garden and Gran's flower beds were more due to the fact that it had been a long time since Sookie had had sex. Farming a small patch of her family land had proven to be an excellent outlet for all her pent up sexual energy. She was now a regular fixture at the Farmer's Market on Sundays selling her fruits and vegetables.
With the back of her hand, Sookie wiped her forehead. It was hot, but the flower bed needed weeding. The crunching of tires on her gravel driveway drew Sookie's attention and telepathy. Instantly she picked up a pair of brain signatures driving up. The car parked up front, which signaled it was someone she wasn't familiar with, or at least someone she wasn't real friendly with. Family and close friends always followed the driveway to the back of the house.
She stood up and stretched her back. Using her worn out denim cut offs, she dusted the dirt off her hands and rinsed them under the garden hose. The stream of water was at first warm, but gradually cooled. Sookie smiled, enjoying the refreshing sensation. As she dried her hands on the sides of her cut offs, she heard the pounding at the front door. She leaned around the corner of the house and spied the car. The county Sheriff's emblem was blazoned across the side door. She let out a deep sigh and felt her shoulder's tense.
"Great," she mumbled softly under her breath.
Before Amelia, her best friend and bon-a-fide witch had returned to New Orleans, she had worked a rather impressive "stay-away" spell on the FBI agents that had been harassing her. Though Niall had paid a lot of money to the FBI to leave her alone, Latestta had proven persistent. Sookie had been happy to know people with special talents. Latestta never bothered her again. For that matter, the Law in general hadn't bothered her since Amelia's "stay-away" spell.
Cautiously, Sookie walked around the house and toward the front as she reached out with her telepathy. One brain register was familiar, the other was not. Like Jason and Dermott's thoughts, the stranger's thoughts were muffled at best.
"Howdy, Andy." Sookie plastered an artificial smile on her face. The one she referred to as her pretty please go fly a kite with a cherry on top.
Andy jerked. "Sookie," he spat out quickly almost sounding like a squeal. He was clearly startled by her sudden appearance. "God, she can be so creepy," he thought unkindly. Visiting Sookie on official or unofficial Sheriff Business wasn't something he cared for, and Sookie reciprocated the feeling. She swallowed hard and pulled up her shields to block out Andy's thoughts.
"What can I do you for?" she asked. Her voice lost several layers of its Southern charm.
"Ugmm," he stuttered.
"How are ya, ma'am," said the man standing just behind Andy.
Sookie's breath drew back inside her throat. The creamy Southern voice filled her body with sensual sensations; like sparkling bubbles of excitement on steroids. "Oh god," she thought silently.
The tall stranger tipped the brim of his cowboy hat. She always had a weak spot for a man with good Southern manners. Discreetly, she scanned the cowboy standing on her porch. Whoever this stranger was, Sookie knew he wasn't exactly human. Having the 'spark', she was sensitive to all things supernatural. Whatever this man was, she was certain about one thing: he was mouthwatering and heart throbbingly good looking. It had been a long time since she'd had a man and seeing this handsome stranger made her ache. She knew she would definitely be spending some indecent amount of time with herself fantasizing about this tall dark and handsome man with his cowboy hat, boots, and tight fitting jeans that left little to Sookie's imagination.
"I'm fine, thank you." She smiled at him; a genuine one and not like the one she had plastered on for Andy.
A flash of bright light drew Sookie's attention. The sunlight bounced off the badge clipped to the stranger's hip. Sookie tensed, not in the pre-orgasmic kind she'd only moments before had been thinking about, but in the 'oh-shit' kind. It'd been almost six years since the explosion in Rhodes, so she knew it couldn't be that. So the next logical thought she had was, "What the hell did they do now?"
When Niall closed the portal to Faery, he'd left out the 'undesirables' on this side of the door. Fae of every possible variation had somehow become Claude's responsibility. He was one of the few purebloods who stayed, but he was the only pureblood with royal blood and by proxy because she and Dermott were from the same bloodline, the 'undesirables' were also her responsibility. Most of them were honest and shy and had adapted well to living on this side of the door. Others, those who either refused out of stubbornness or lack of smarts, were troublemakers who didn't understand the basic commandments like thou shalt not steal.
* o * o *
The changes in Sookie's body didn't go unnoticed by Raylan Givens. He had become instantly aware of Sookie's presence the moment she appeared from around the corner. Her cleavage, innocently seductive, called to him. He instantly noticed how they had perked when she saw him. He could swear they were calling to him; daring him, begging him. The way the sun glistened off her dewy bronzed skin where the soft tantalizing mounds dipped down was more than he could stand. Raylan had to focus to keep his eyes above her neck.
He'd also noticed the way her shoulders squared when her deep blue eyes caught the star he wore. Even her perky breast settled at seeing the emblem; all these details didn't escape his keen senses.
Raylan Givens was talented, as he privately referred to himself. He was a Reader; a third quarter breed. His keen senses made him an expert at reading and tracking people. It had been the reason why he'd survived the Wild West, Prohibition, the Counterculture Generation, the Fae War, and everything else in between and after.
"Hope we're not disturbin' ya." To Sookie his smooth Southern tone sounded like forbidden pleasure. She wondered if the way he confidently swaggered down the steps was deliberate or natural. It was hard for her to hide the pleasure she found in this cowboy. He was tall, lean, and muscled in all the right places.
"You're not disturbin' me from nothin' that can't wait," she said. Her expression was friendly.
"I'm Depty US Marshal Raylan Givens." He offered his hand to Sookie. She hesitated, her gaze traveling between his hand and his face. It was rude, she knew, but she didn't want her mind bombarded with unwanted thoughts. She really didn't want her cowboy fantasy blown out of the water.
Raylan sensed her hesitation and naturally took his hand back. There was something different about her. She was supernatural, but exactly what she was he couldn't pinpoint—yet. The breeze was blowing from behind him, so he couldn't pick up on her scent to see what she was. Her heartbeat had a human cadence, so he figured she wasn't a shifter. Maybe a fairy, he thought wistfully. Raylan's mouth watered. The way the two hard darts pointed at him from under her shirt, shot the pureblood fairy theory out the window, but definitely made him uneasy inside his jeans.
Sookie had an almost intoxicating otherworldly allure.
Her entire body tempted him without even trying; teasing him to touch her. What fascinated Raylan was how she was utterly unaware of her allure. His eyes glanced quickly over to Andy. He wasn't fazed one bit by the siren song that Sookie exuded. This was a telltale sign that Sookie, like he, was more than human.
"I'm with the Eastern Kentucky field office," he told Sookie.
"You're a long way from home Marshal." Sookie couldn't take the smile off her face even if she had tried.
"Yes ma'am." Raylan had to concentrate hard to ignore the enchanted call in her voice.
Sookie swallowed hard struggling to keep her breathing natural. She felt a sharp pain in her chest; her heart was thumping wildly. The Marshal's clear and honest gaze made her weak in secret ways. She felt like a captive under the tractor beam of his stare.
Raylan saw in Sookie's otherworldly eyes, the story of who she was. So many stories; where she'd been and how she got to be here standing in front of him. A deep empty ache grew inside his gut; he wanted to be the one she shared her stories with. Raylan smiled, hiding the words that wouldn't come out.
A strange realization came over him in that instance. He'd heard of it happening to others, but he'd never experienced it himself. At that moment, standing in front of Sookie, he admitted he had never really known himself, until then.
Andy Bellefleur awkwardly cleared his throat. Sookie and Raylan shot a quick glance at Andy.
"I'm here investigating the sighting of a fugitive I've been tracking," said Raylan bringing his attention back to the blonde beauty in front of him. His eyes never released Sookie. She shifted uncomfortably; the way a woman did when she was affected by a man. His soft sculptured lips pulled up on one corner.
"So what makes you think this fugitive is on my property?" Sookie asked. She hadn't picked up any new registers around her house. Suddenly, she wished Claude, her cousin and roommate, was home. He was off in Bangladesh on some photo shoot for two weeks and Dermott was working.
"I'm not exactly sure if he is on your property," Raylan admitted. "We were just at Hot Shot. Your property and the adjacent one are the only land between here and there."
Sookie suddenly felt worried all over again. For a few reasons. The first being that there were fae living deep in her woods. There were some 'undesirables' who couldn't camouflage their appearance. If humans saw them, they'd run off screaming. They couldn't assimilate like Claude or Dermott. So several years ago, after some coaxing from Dermott and Claude, she'd agreed to allow some of them to live in the deepest parts of her woods. They lived peacefully, never venturing near her house. However, if someone went out snooping around too close, Sookie was more concerned about the snooper than of the fae.
Now the other reason she had to fight back the feeling of panic was that Hot Shot was a community of were-panthers. The existence of were-panthers was a secret from people outside the supernatural community. Unlike other shifters, those like the panthers and a few others that humans viewed with a sense of taboo, even after six years they were still a secret. Her thoughts immediately went to Jason, her brother. He was a were-panther.
"Who's this fugitive you're look'n for?" Sookie asked. She hesitated, but she had to make sure it wasn't her brother. Though Jason was settled and married now for a few years, she was worried that something may have happened last night. It had been a full moon.
Slowly, Sookie lowered her shields to see what she could find out. What Sookie heard, startled her.
She heard absolutely nothing.
"He's wanted for a murder," Raylan answered her question. What he wasn't saying is that the dangerous fugitive he'd been tracking was actually a were-panther.
"I haven't heard of any killings," Sookie pointed out. She tried again to hear Raylan's thoughts. His register was smooth and thick. Her eyes closely studied him, and she wondered if he was part fae. His brain signature wasn't as smooth and thick as Claude's, but it was something close to it, like Dermott's.
"The shooting took place in southeast Texas," Raylan explained maintaining a calm and confident demeanor. He'd noticed Sookie's eyes change ever so slightly. The brown flecks that framed her pupils suddenly pooled. He wasn't sure what she was or what she was capable of, but he wasn't afraid. What he felt was opposite of fear. "He was being transported when he got away. Witnesses have recently sighted him east of Shreveport and several miles west of Bon Temps."
"I see." Sookie spoke softly. The fact that Raylan was looking in Hot Shot had Sookie wondering if the fugitive was a were-panther and then immediately she was worried all over again about her brother.
"I was hoping you wouldn't mind if I took a look around your property," Raylan explained. He wasn't necessarily looking for permission. His penetrating eyes scanned Sookie's beautiful face. He could see that she was somewhere else in her mind.
"I'm not sure what you'll find," she said flatly, blinking a few times. She wasn't sure what to do. She wondered what he would say and do if she said no. Narrowing her gaze she studied him more closely. He was supernatural and if her instincts were right, he was part fae. "You're welcome to look around," she said with a smile.
"Thank you ma'am." Raylan tipped his cowboy hat. He saw the solid brown ring that had pooled around Sookie's eyes break apart into flecks that feathered around her pupils again.
"How long do you think you'll be?" Andy asked. He personally thought Raylan's idea of walking through the woods was nuts. His nice temperature controlled office was sounding real good to Andy. "I can send a deputy by to pick you up."
"I can take you back when you're done," Sookie volunteered. She surprised herself. Years of having to keep a straight face had paid off. No one, not even Raylan's keen senses and observation, had noticed.
"That's a great idea," Andy eagerly agreed. He just wanted to get out of the heat. Trailing after Raylan Givens wasn't his idea of fun.
"All right then." Raylan's lips tilted into a half smile. Secretly he was glad for the opportunity to spend some time with Sookie.
"Would you like something cold to drink?" Sookie asked Raylan. Her Southern manners surfaced; almost. She ignored Andy.
"That'd be wonderful," Raylan admitted. "Perhaps when I get back from lookin' around?"
"Sure." Sookie gave him a bright smile. "Just knock."
Raylan walked past her; their locked gazes only separating at the last moment. Sookie's ragged breaths were catalogued in Raylan's memory. It was a sound he hoped to get acquainted more closely with. Now that he was down wind from Sookie, he patiently waited. A soft breeze came up behind her. Seconds later, the breeze made its way toward Raylan.
Inhaling deeply, he filled his lungs with her sweet aroma. A satisfied smile spread across his face.
Sookie watched as the cowboy Marshal made his way toward the trees. When he turned to look back, she about fainted.
"Oh, boy," she whispered under her breath. She knew she wouldn't be able to say no, when every cell in her body was screaming Yes!
AN: 8/13/11 ~ Originally, this story was going to be a one-shot of a few pages. However, almost immediately, I had more than a few chapters. I know it's been almost a year since this unfinished story was posted, but rest assured it has not been forgotten. I have been working on developing new chapters. Its a slow process, but I will finish this story come hell or high water.