A/N: This one-shot was my submission for the Sookie's Secret Santa fanfic swap initiative (link can be found on my profile). It was written for June Smith, who happens to be a wonderful author I warmly recommend. I thank everyone who has already reviewed the tale on the Secret Santa page. MERRY CHRISTMAS Y'ALL!

The story takes place after Living Dead in Dallas (book 2) and starts about two weeks before the beginning of Club Dead (book 3). All messages are between Sookie and Eric. I haven't bothered with realistic 'text speak', hip abbreviations and alphanumeric code because I can't stand that nonsense.


You Have A New Message

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004

I was wiping the kitchen table after eating my breakfast when I heard firm knocks coming from the front door. I threw the damp rag in the sink and went to answer the call.

A young man in a FedEx uniform was standing on my porch. He smiled and handed me a small package. "Good morning Miss," he greeted me, "I have a special delivery for you."

I creased my brows in confusion: I hadn't ordered anything recently and it was way too early for a Christmas present. "Good morning," I replied politely. "Do you know who it is from?"

The deliveryman glanced at his electronic tablet before handing it to me to sign. "A certain Eric Northman, Miss."

I barely concealed a groan of annoyance. Eric Northman, Vampire Sheriff and Fangtasia's star attraction, had been a particular thorn in my side for the past five months. Not that he was particularly evil or anything, but since he'd discovered my little telepathic kink, he'd made ample use of it, at great cost to me. I'd almost been killed and raped while working for him, not to mention the lost wages from taking time off my waitressing job. He'd also tricked me into drinking his blood and made no secret of it that he'd love to get into my pants; never mind that I'm already spoken for.

To be fair, he'd also volunteered to help me uncover my late friend Lafayette's murderers, and he'd also saved my life a couple of times. Still, our relationship was fraught with ambiguity and suspicion (mostly on my part). I had no doubt that whatever was in the parcel he sent me, it was in the service of one of his secret agendas.

Once I was alone, I sat on the living-room couch and unwrapped the box. I was startled to discover a bright red BlackBerry phone. I had seen advertisements for the device and knew it was a very fancy, and wildly expensive, new techno-toy. The gadget looked pretty complicated and the user manual alone was thick enough to have been written by Tolstoy. There was a note from Eric informing me that he'd call me tonight to explain and that in the meantime I was to plug the phone into its charger.

Whatever you say, Mr. Big and In Charge. I'd already decided I wouldn't keep the thing but I didn't mind telling him that in person.

I went on with my day, leaving in time for the lunch shift at Merlotte's. That evening, I receive a call on the unfamiliar appliance, as expected.

"Sookie," Eric said. As was often the case, his deep voice was tinged with amusement, as if he was in on some big practical joke played at my expense. "I see you have received my gift."

"Good evening to you too, Eric," I replied coolly. "I thank you for your present, but no thank you. I will return the phone to you next time I see you."

"This is your work phone. You will need it."

"Need it for what, Eric? I'm a waitress, not a C.E.O. Beside, I can't afford the subscription."

"What happened to the money you made off the Dallas assignment?" he asked, sounding surprised.

"I paid my property taxes with it," I replied tightly. Money was a vexing subject in the Stackhouse household. There was never enough of it.

"No matter," Eric proceeded smoothly, "You are on my plan, so you won't see any bills."

"I can't accept that!" I protested. Gran didn't raise any moocher.

"Yes you can. Since you work for me on a freelance basis, I need to be able to locate and contact you swiftly."

"I have a home phone, you know."

"Yes, but it is more efficient and safer this way."

"And it also means you don't have to go through Bill, right?"

"Yes, that too," he easily conceded. I could almost see his self-satisfied smirk.

"My terms haven't changed, you know. I won't do any work for you without Bill's presence."

"Understood."

I knew there was no point trying to reason with the pig-headed Vampire, so I decided to stop fighting him on this, and keep the phone. "OK, was there anything else?"

"Keep the phone on you at all times. I'll use it to check on you regularly."

"Why?"

"You're an asset to my Area and it is my responsibility to ensure your safety and keep tabs on you. I expect you to answer when I call. I will keep ringing until you do."

I rolled my eyes, already knowing that half those so-called check-up calls would probably be flimsy excuses to sweet-talk me into leaving Bill and falling into his blond lap. Fat chance. "I work three nights a week, Eric. I can't be answering your calls mid-shift."

"Fine. I will confine myself to text messages. That will be discreet enough. My numbers are already pre-programmed. You may use the phone for personal calls during the daytime. Good night, Sookie. Dream of me."

Eric hung up before I had the chance to retort.

*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

ERIC (08:03 PM): This is Eric.

SOOKIE (08:07 PM): Yes, Eric. The phone has number ID, you know.

ERIC (08:07 PM): I am verifying that the text function is working correctly.

SOOKIE (08:09 PM): Well, it is.

ERIC (08:09 PM): Are you well?

SOOKIE (08:13 PM): Yes, thank you. Not to be rude, but I have to get back to work.

ERIC (08:14 PM): Your talents are wasted at the Shifter's grease hole.

SOOKIE (08:16 PM): His name is Sam. And not your call. Bye Eric.

*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*

Thursday, November 18th, 2004

ERIC (10:08 PM): Sookie?

SOOKIE (10:10 PM): Yes?

ERIC (10:10 PM): Are you well tonight?

SOOKIE (10:13 PM): Right as rain. Are you going to check on me every night?

ERIC (10:14 PM): Do you want me to?

SOOKIE (10:15 PM): No.

ERIC (10:20 PM): What are you wearing?

SOOKIE (10:21 PM): Goodnight, Eric.

*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*

Sunday, November 21st, 2004

ERIC (06:15 PM): Enjoying a relaxing weekend?

SOOKIE (06:25 PM): I was until just now. Are you calling for business or just to waste my time?

ERIC (06:26 PM): I believe the expression is 'business or pleasure', Sookie. And when it comes to you, business is always a pleasure.

SOOKIE (06:30 PM): Just as I thought. That whole 'work phone' thing was a scam.

ERIC (06:30 PM): You are hurting my feelings.

SOOKIE (06:32 PM): I wasn't aware you had any.

ERIC (06:33 PM): There are many things about me you do not know.

SOOKIE (06:36 PM): The suspense isn't exactly killing me.

ERIC (06:36 PM): Any plans for tonight?

SOOKIE (06:40 PM): Nothing special. Why do you ask?

ERIC (06:41 PM): Bill isn't romancing you?

SOOKIE (06:44 PM): How do you keep answering my texts so fast?

ERIC (06:45 PM): Super Vamp speed. Don't change the subject.

SOOKIE (06:48 PM): My private life is none of your business.

ERIC (06:49 PM): Trouble in Paradise already?

SOOKIE (06:52 PM): We're fine!

SOOKIE (06:54 PM): Bill is a bit busy, that's all.

ERIC (06:55 PM): Busy doing what?

SOOKIE (06:59 PM): Working. Unlike some, he doesn't have unlimited amounts of free time.

ERIC (06:59 PM): I resent the implication. I work too.

SOOKIE (07:04 PM): Right. Being worshiped by fangbangers while holding court at your table must be exhausting.

ERIC (07:04 PM): It is, actually. But you forget I am also Sherriff. The position comes with many responsibilities.

SOOKIE (07:08 PM): Yeah, well, the point is you still have time to harass me on the phone.

ERIC (07:09 PM): I will always make time for you, Sookie.

SOOKIE (07:11 PM): Lucky me.

ERIC (07:11 PM): I agree.

SOOKIE (07:13 PM): I'm going to have my dinner now. Bye Mr. Big Head.

ERIC (07:14 PM): Which part of my anatomy does this nickname refer to?

SOOKIE (07:18 PM): You are disgusting.

*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

ERIC (09:30 PM): Sookie?

SOOKIE (09:36 PM): What?

ERIC (09:36 PM): Why don't you come to Fangtasia?

SOOKIE (09:38 PM): Why would I?

ERIC (09:39 PM): I find I am in need of your services.

SOOKIE (09:43 PM): Then go through Bill, like we agreed.

ERIC (09:44 PM): Bill is only to be involved when I need your telepathy.

SOOKIE (09:47 PM): Yes, and? What other services of mine could you need?

ERIC (09:47 PM): Use your imagination.

SOOKIE (09:48 PM): Go away!

*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*

Friday, November 26th, 2004

ERIC (09:42 PM): Sookie?

ERIC (09:45 PM): Hello, Sookie?

ERIC (09:50 PM): Miss Stackhouse?

ERIC (09:52 PM): Angelic Sookie, vision of love and beauty?

SOOKIE (09:55 PM): You're just bored, aren't you?

ERIC (09:55 PM): Yes.

SOOKIE (09:58 PM): Get a hobby.

ERIC (09:58 PM): You're it.

SOOKIE (10:01 PM): I don't have time for your games.

ERIC (10:02 PM): And yet you keep responding to my messages.

SOOKIE (10:05 PM): Only because I know you won't stop until I do.

ERIC (10:05 PM): You are correct. I always get what I want.

SOOKIE (10:08 PM): Well, you can't have me.

ERIC (10:08 PM): For now.

SOOKIE (10:10 PM): I am Bill's!

ERIC (10:11 PM): For now.

SOOKIE (10:15 PM): I'm too tired to play. I am off to take a shower. Blow up my phone as much as you like.

ERIC (10:15 PM): Is that an invitation?

ERIC (10:16 PM): To join you in the shower, I mean.

ERIC (10:18 PM): Sookie?

ERIC (10:21 PM): How cruel of you to leave me hanging with such a tempting mental image.

ERIC (10:22 PM): Very well! If we're playing dirty then, my turn.

SOOKIE'S PHONE: 'You have a new photo message'

The picture is a high angle self-portrait of a naked Eric in the shower cubicle of his office in Fangtasia.

SOOKIE (10:50 PM): ERIC! What the hell was that?

ERIC (10:51 PM): What the hell was what?

SOOKIE (10:53 PM): You know damn well what I'm talking about! You sent me a nude picture of yourself!

ERIC (10:54 PM): Oh, that. What part of my anatomy confuses you, lover?

SOOKIE (10:57 PM): I am not your lover. Which is precisely why I don't want to see you naked.

ERIC (10:57 PM): We both know that's a lie.

SOOKIE (10:59 PM): Arrogant pervert.

ERIC (11:00 PM): You should not have taunted me by mentioning that you were showering. I was only paying you back.

SOOKIE (11:02 PM): I wasn't taunting!

ERIC (11:02 PM): Do you like what you see?

SOOKIE (11:05 PM): I'm going to show your message to Bill. I'm pretty sure you can't do that. Vampire rules or something.

ERIC (11:06 PM): There is no Vampire rule against immodesty. But I wouldn't recommend showing my picture to Bill. It will only serve to make him feel inadequate.

SOOKIE (11:09 PM): Bill is perfectly adequate, thank you very much.

ERIC (11:10 PM): What a thunderous praise. Your enthusiasm speaks for itself.

SOOKIE (11:12 PM): Go to hell!

*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*

Saturday, November 27, 2004

ERIC (07:47 PM): Sookie. I will need you to screen three potential barbacks as soon as possible.

SOOKIE (07:50 PM): Wow! You're actually talking about work for once.

SOOKIE (07:54 PM): I'm at Bill's. Do you want to talk to him?

ERIC (07:55 PM): Not necessary. You can arrange transportation and escort details directly with him.

ERIC (07:56 PM): You are still Bill's I see.

SOOKIE (07:58 PM): A miracle too! You've been so damn charming.

ERIC (07:59 PM): It does perplex me that you are still with the fanged nerd. You could do much better, Sookie.

SOOKIE (08:02 PM): Oh, let me guess! You, for example?

ERIC (08:02 PM): Yes.

SOOKIE (08:05 PM): Not gonna happen. I'm free Monday evening to scan your candidates.

ERIC (08:05 PM): Good. Let's says 8 PM at Fangtasia.

SOOKIE (08:07 PM): Fine. Was there something else?

ERIC (08:08 PM): Yield to me, Sookie.

SOOKIE (08:11 PM): Are you seriously propositioning me by text? Have you got NO SHAME?

ERIC (08:11 PM): No.

SOOKIE (08:13 PM): GOODNIGHT ERIC!

*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*

Sunday, November 28th, 2004

ERIC (07:31 PM): Sookie?

SOOKIE (07:39 PM): At work. Can't talk.

ERIC (07:40 PM): It's Sunday. Take the night off. Come to Fangtasia. You need to have some fun.

SOOKIE (07:45 PM): Fangtasia is so not my idea of fun.

ERIC (07:45 PM): Then I will come to you.

SOOKIE (07:47 PM): No.

ERIC (07:48 PM): I just want to talk.

SOOKIE (07:55 PM): Let me guess: you want to discuss the color of my underwear.

ERIC (07:55 PM): So you do read Vampire minds after all.

ERIC (08:10 PM): Sookie?

SOOKIE (08:13 PM): Leave me alone. I need to work. I don't care if you're bored.

ERIC (08:14 PM): You work too much for too little.

SOOKIE (08:19 PM): I have no choice. I'm poor.

ERIC (08:20 PM): Doesn't Bill support you?

SOOKIE (08:25 PM): I'm his girlfriend, not his geisha.

ERIC (08:25 PM): It seems to me like he is neglecting you.

SOOKIE (08:35 PM): For the 100th time, we are FINE! Bill's been very busy lately, but we are still together. He loves me. It's just a phase. We're good.

ERIC (08:36 PM): You sound like you're trying to convince yourself more than me.

ERIC (08:40 PM): If you were mine, you would never want for money. Or attention.

SOOKIE (08:47 PM): I'm not about to become your kept mistress, Eric. Forget it.

ERIC (08:47 PM): Then come work for me at Fangtasia.

SOOKIE (08:59 PM): You'd love that, wouldn't you?

ERIC (09:00 PM): Yes.

SOOKIE (09:03 PM): No can do. I would end up sueing you for sexual harassment.

ERIC (09:04 PM): Just think of the settlement you would win from me.

SOOKIE (09:14 PM): If you are so eager to part with your money, Mr. Moneybags, why don't you just cut me a check?

ERIC (09:14 PM): Would you accept it?

SOOKIE (09:17 PM) Of course not! I wasn't serious.

ERIC (09:17 PM): My earlier offer was.

SOOKIE (09:20 PM): Sam is giving me the stink eye. I really can't talk. See you tomorrow. Bye.

*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*

Monday, November 29th, 2004

SOOKIE (09:45 PM): Bill just dropped me off at home. Safe and sound.

ERIC (09:47 PM): Did he calm down during the ride back?

SOOKIE (09:51 PM): Nope. He's obviously very irritated that he had to stay away from his precious little computer for nearly 2 hours.

SOOKIE (09:54 PM): You aren't going to say anything?

ERIC (09:54 PM): I do not want to appear opportunistic.

SOOKIE (09:57 PM): You? Since when?

ERIC (09:58 PM): Fair enough. Thank you for tonight. You did an excellent job.

SOOKIE (10:03 PM): Thanks. And thank you for the bonus.

ERIC (10:03 PM): I always reward talent.

SOOKIE (10:15 PM): It was nice seeing you.

ERIC (10:15 PM): Even thought I'm an arrogant pervert?

SOOKIE (10:17 PM): You come off better in person.

ERIC (10:18 PM): I hope not. I have a reputation to maintain.

SOOKIE (10:20 PM): Your secret is safe. Goodnight Eric.

ERIC (10:20 PM): Goodnight Sookie.

*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*

Wednesday, December 1st, 2004

ERIC (10:35 PM): Sookie, are you awake?

SOOKIE (10:44 PM): Not tonight, Eric. Please.

ERIC (10:44 PM): Are you unwell?

SOOKIE (10:47 PM): I just want to be left alone.

ERIC (10:50 PM): I am here if you want to talk to someone.

ERIC (10:51 PM): I mean it.

SOOKIE (11:06 PM): Do you ever miss your family?

ERIC (11:07 PM): My human family?

SOOKIE (11:08 PM): Yes.

SOOKIE (11:10 PM): Is it rude to ask?

SOOKIE (11:12 PM): Eric? I apologize. I didn't mean to pry.

ERIC (11:13 PM): Not anymore. Not really. I barely remember them.

SOOKIE (11:15 PM): Oh, OK. Thank you for answering.

ERIC (11:15 PM): You miss your grandmother.

SOOKIE (11:17 PM): Yes.

ERIC (11:18 PM): What do you miss about her?

SOOKIE (11:21 PM): Everything, really. Her company, her warmth… She was so wise. I miss her guidance. I feel so lost without her.

ERIC (11:22 PM): You should have more trust in yourself, Sookie. You have a lot of common sense. You are smart and you are strong. That much is obvious.

SOOKIE (11:25 PM): I don't feel so strong right now.

ERIC (11:26 PM): Is Bill with you?

SOOKIE (11:29 PM): No. We kind of had a fight. He's leaving for Seattle.

ERIC (11:29 PM): Seattle? Why?

SOOKIE (11:32 PM): I don't know. I'm pretty sure he's lying.

SOOKIE (11:35 PM): I think he's leaving me.

ERIC (11:37 PM): Then he is a fool.

SOOKIE (11:39 PM): Thank you for saying so.

SOOKIE (11:45 PM): It's not like I didn't see this coming. He's been so distant lately.

ERIC (11:45 PM): His computer work.

SOOKIE (11:49 PM): Yeah. He hasn't even noticed I have a new phone. I've even been chatting with you in his house a couple of times and he never so much as glanced my way to see why I was laughing.

SOOKIE (11:51 PM): I sound horribly needy, right?

ERIC (11:52 PM): You sound like you need some company. Do you want me to come over?

ERIC (11:56 PM): Sookie?

SOOKIE (11:59 PM): It's very late. I'm not very good company right now. I'm not in the mood to flirt or play games with you.

ERIC (00:02 AM): Sookie, my personal interest in you isn't purely sexual.

SOOKIE (00:04 AM): Really?

ERIC (00:04 AM): Really.

SOOKIE (00:06 AM): Then what?

ERIC (00:06 AM): I find you intriguing.

ERIC (00:07 AM): And I do not find humans intriguing.

SOOKIE (00:09 AM): What do you want from me?

ERIC (00:09 AM): I want what Bill has.

SOOKIE (00:10 AM): Meaning?

ERIC (00:11 AM): Your respect. Your trust. Your esteem.

SOOKIE (00:13 AM): I trust you Eric. You've been kind to me.

ERIC (00:13 AM): But not enough to believe I would be a fair boss to you.

SOOKIE (00:16 AM): That's a different issue. I just don't want to uproot my life on a whim.

ERIC (00:17 AM): So you would rather stay at a minimum wage job were drunken men constantly paw at you?

SOOKIE (00:19 AM): Like Fangtasia's clientele is so much classier!

ERIC (00:20 AM): The harassment of my waitresses is not tolerated here. No one would disrespect you if you worked for me. The pay is decent, and the tips consequential. You would be safe from harm and financially secure.

ERIC (00:22 AM): I would help you with moving expenses. You would have a service car and I would lease you an apartment I own for a nominal fee. You could work part time if you chose, as you should be making enough money as a freelance telepath to live comfortably.

SOOKIE (00:25 AM): You've thought this through, haven't you?

ERIC (00:26 AM): I have. And I only ask that you do the same.

SOOKIE (00:27 AM): OK, I'll think about it.

ERIC (00:27 AM): That's all I wanted to hear.

ERIC (00:28 AM): I'll let you sleep now.

SOOKIE (00:29 AM): Night.

*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*

Thursday, November 2nd, 2004

SOOKIE (06:26 PM): Evening Eric.

ERIC (06:28 PM): Evening Sookie.

SOOKIE (06:30 PM): I just wanted to say thank you for last night.

ERIC (06:30 PM): You're welcome.

SOOKIE (06:32 PM): I really needed a friend.

ERIC (06:33 PM): Friends? Is that what we are?

SOOKIE (06:36 PM): I guess?

ERIC (06:38 PM): Friends… is fine. For now.

SOOKIE (06:40 PM): One thing I love about you: you are always very honest.

ERIC (06:41 PM): How else would you be made aware of what I want?

ERIC (06:42 PM): Are you at work?

SOOKIE (06:44 PM): Yes, but it's very slow right now. You're alright?

ERIC (06:44 PM): I am Vampire.

SOOKIE (06:46 PM): Right! Silly question.

ERIC (06:47 PM): You sound better.

SOOKIE (06:50 PM): I am better. I've decided I'm not gonna cry over Bill. If he wants to keep me, he's gonna have to fight a lot harder for me.

ERIC (06:51 PM): It looks like you are starting to realize your worth.

SOOKIE (06:53 PM): Eh… What are doing?

ERIC (06:53 PM): Filling invoices. Heaven!

SOOKIE (07:04 PM): Sorry. I had a customer. Should I call later?

ERIC (07:05 PM): No. Later I will be at Fangtasia. Pam has banned me from bringing my phone there because, apparently, when I talk with you I smile and it's bad for business.

SOOKIE (07:08 PM): Hahaha! I guess you'll just have just say what's on your mind right now while you still can.

ERIC (07:09 PM): What do you think is on my mind?

SOOKIE (07:12 PM): Right now I'm guessing you're fighting very hard the urge to ask me what I'm wearing under my uniform.

ERIC (07:13 PM): I'm afraid of the answer.

SOOKIE (07:15 PM): You should be! Hahaha!

SOOKIE (07:17 PM): Do you often think about what I'm wearing?

ERIC (07:17 PM): Yes.

SOOKIE (07:19 PM): And what am I wearing in your dreams?

ERIC (07:20 PM): Sookie, are you flirting?

SOOKIE (07:22 PM): No, just making conversation.

ERIC (07:22 PM): Is that so?

SOOKIE (07:24 PM): Just answer the darn question.

ERIC (07:26 PM): Do you remember the dress you wore the first time you came at Fangtasia?

SOOKIE (07:27 PM): Yes.

ERIC (07:27 PM): I think of it often.

SOOKIE (07:29 PM): Really?

ERIC (07:30 PM): Yes. Quite often.

SOOKIE (07:31 PM): Oh.

ERIC (07:32 PM): What do I wear in your dreams?

SOOKIE (07:45 PM): Sorry again.

SOOKIE (07:46 PM): Who says I dream of you?

ERIC (07:46 PM): Your daydreams, then.

SOOKIE (07:48 PM): You are incorrigible.

ERIC (07:49 PM): Well?

SOOKIE (07:52 PM): I like your leather pants.

ERIC (07:52 PM): I will make sure to remember that.

ERIC (07:53 PM): I look my best naked, for the record.

SOOKIE (07:54 PM): Yeah, I know.

ERIC (07:55 PM): So you kept the picture?

SOOKIE (07:57 PM): No! But I couldn't avoid looking at it when I opened the message.

ERIC (07:57 PM): And?

SOOKIE (07:58 PM): And what?

ERIC (07:59 PM): Did you enjoy the view?

SOOKIE (08:02 PM): Oh, c'mon! You know you look good.

ERIC (08:03 PM): Especially in my leather pants, right?

SOOKIE (08:04 PM): Right.

ERIC (08:04 PM): Sookie, I believe you are flirting.

SOOKIE (08:07 PM): Sam is about to kill me. The place is getting busy. Talk to you soon.

ERIC (08:08 PM): Very convenient timing.

SOOKIE (08:10 PM): ;-)

Much later that night…

ERIC'S PHONE: 'You have a new picture message.'

The picture shows a self-portrait of Sookie in a tight white sundress with printed red flowers. The caption reads: "Sweet Dreams".

*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*

Friday, December 3rd, 2004

I was at home reading a mystery novel when the (landline) phone rang. I half expected it to be Eric. It had occurred to me that, for some bizarre reason, we had never actually made traditional use of our mobile phones, instead sticking to text communication. I guess the medium just suited us better, and indeed, I could only admit I'd grown much closer to Eric this past fortnight.

We would have to start interacting differently, though. Following in Pam's footsteps, Sam had banned me from using the addictive device at work ever again. 'CrackBerry' is right.

"Hello?" I enthusiastically breathed in the receptor.

"Good evening Sookie," replied a cool, smooth voice. Bill.

"Oh, hi Bill," I said, considerably deflated. "Everything's fine?"

"Yes, sweetheart. I'm calling to let you know I've arrived safely."

"And how's Seattle?" I asked, much more sardonically than I had intended. I'd known Bill was lying, but just one glance at the clock confirmed my intuition. It was currently daytime in Seattle.

"Fine," Bill answered stiffly. "Please remember the instructions I've given you—"

"Yeah, about that," I cut him, "I'm not going to be in Bon Temps for much longer, so you should make alternative emergency arrangements, just in case."

"What are you talking about, Sookie?" Bill exclaimed.

"Eric has offered me a job at Fangtasia and I'm going to accept. I'll still return to Bon Temps on week-ends, but I'll be in Shreveport on weekdays."

"Eric? What…? But… Sookie this is madness! You can't trust him!" Bill was apoplectic. Words rushed out of him all at once.

"This is really not your decision to make, Bill." Something in my tone must have convinced him of my resolve because he paused before resuming speaking in a much calmer voice.

"You need to think this through, sweetheart. We'll talk about this when I get back."

"I've already thought about it," I retorted firmly. In truth, I'd reached the decision while speaking to Bill, but now that'd I'd made up my mind, I was certain I'd chosen the best option. "Let's be honest. I'm stagnating here in Bon Temps. The house is too big for me alone and full of sad reminders. My job at Merlotte's is a dead-end. My friend Tara has kept her distance from me since I became involved with you. There's just not much left for me there."

"There's me," Bill said quietly.

I let out a deep breath. "Is there?" I finally asked.

His silence told me everything I needed to know. There was finality in that silence.

Bill and me were over, at least for now. That much was clear. I felt tears flooding my eyes and made no effort to contain them. Bill, my first love; my first lover; my first heartbreak.

I managed to steady my voice enough to declare: "I'll forward you my new address as soon as I know it. When you return, come find me if you want to talk." At the other end of the line, Bill was completely silent, so I just whispered: "Goodbye, Bill," before hanging up.

I floundered onto the floor, gathering my knees into my arms and violently weeping for what felt like hours.

Much later, a familiar sound brought me out my funk. I immediately recognized the distinctive tune announcing a new message on my BlackBerry. I lifted myself off the floor to reach for my bag and picked up the bright red phone.

As I opened the photo, I couldn't help the large grin spreading over my face as the picture loaded onto the screen. It was a side shot of Eric, from the waist down, clad in the tightest leather pants I'd ever seen. I surmised that he'd been getting ready for Fangtasia and had decided to share the pretty.

The caption read: "Sweeter Dreams."

The End.


A/N: I hope you've enjoyed this one-shot. I don't have any plan to continue it.

For those of you who are still waiting on a Watcher update (I know, I know), please accept my apologies for being so late on my stated schedule. While I'm no longer uninspired, I've been quite lazy on the writing front. I'm getting there though, so bear with me.

Sorry for being an even worse tease than Sookie (who I left barbecuing in Eric's home, so she's paying for her sins). I miss you all.