Charlaine Harris owns everything. I own nothing.

This one-shot is what I wish would have happened during those first few pages of Dead To The World, but then again, I'm an impatient girl and always want Sookie to get right to the good parts with Eric.

I need to thank SeriousCrush, my lovely and talented editor, who worked quickly and happily to get this back to me, spending her free weekend time doing me a favor. I will never be able to fully express how grateful I am for your love and friendship.

Thank you for being such wonderfully encouraging and supportive readers. I am so sorry it has been so long since I posted anything. I hope you all understand that it's not because I don't love you. Two things have dominated my life: December was insanely busy, and I spent every free moment writing my book, which is finally nearly done. Happy New Year!


A Better New Year

I hate December. Really.

It was the only thought running through my head as I wrapped and stored each ornament I took off my tree. Ever since Gran died, Christmas had lost its glitter. She was always the one that made it special for Jason and I, and this year, Jason was so wrapped up in dating some new girl that I didn't even see him except when he came into Merlotte's when I was working a few nights ago. My thoughts stopped dead in their tracks when I held the ornament Gran made me right after we moved in with her. She said we needed an extra special Christmas that year, and even though she didn't have the money to spoil us, she worked for hours on our presents. The ornament was a little blonde girl made of super soft material. The face was hand embroidered and she was dressed so she looked like me. I reached up into the tree and took Jason's off, holding them both in my hands. His was slightly larger than mine and had tousled blonde hair, just like Jason. I sat in front of the half naked tree and cried as I mourned the loss of Gran, yet again.

I stuffed 'Jason' into the special box that the sibling ornaments were stored in during most of the year. I bet he never spends a holiday alone. I bet he never eats by himself. I bet he has someone to rub his feet at the end of a twelve-hour shift. Sure…it might not be the same person every time, but that doesn't seem to bother him. I took a deep breath and said out loud, "Maybe I should be more like my brother!" The idea sent me into a fit of giggles that made me cry. It was that funny! I had always been the 'good' girl, and look where it had gotten me…alone in a house that reminded me of better days.

Work was long and hard, just like it always is on New Year's Eve. Sam kept running back to the storeroom for more booze, and smiled like a Cheshire cat with every trip. New Year's was always a huge haul for Merlotte's. Sam didn't seem to mind the long hours, and he never complained about his feet hurting either. Maybe it was the compression mat behind the bar. I thought about cutting part of it off and gluing it to the bottom of my shoes, but I'm pretty sure Sam would have noticed at some point.

Arlene was working tonight too, and she was wearing her brightest smile. At one point during the night, she grabbed my elbow and said, "I am getting killer tips tonight! Two hundred so far!" I gave her a smile and walked away. Arlene always got better tips than me, but tonight it was worse than normal.

In four hours, I had one hundred and twenty-five in my pocket. I took a breather against the wall and watched Arlene move around her section. She smiled, tossed her hair, touched people's arms and flirted shamelessly with every man that came in. No wonder she got better tips than me. Even though I never made mistakes on my orders, and was always very attentive, I didn't do any of those things.

I squared my shoulders, smoothed out my shirt and gave myself a good mental shake. I needed to change something in my life, and damn it, if I could get double the tips just by turning on a little charm, then that was exactly what I was going to do. Starting now. I fortified the wall in my brain between me and all the thoughts swirling around the room and then I walked back to the table where four guys from Jason's crew were just getting started with their celebration.

"How ya'll doin'?" I asked, laying on my Southern charm pretty thick. I leaned heavily against the table, and even though I knew they were all checking out my boobs, I didn't care. This was my attempt to work harder.

"Better now, Sookie," Ryan said touching my arm.

"Oh Ryan, you teaser," I said giving his hand a pat. Strong visuals came through him as I touched him. I'll just say that Ryan really wanted me to go outside with him for a few minutes. "More beer?" The other three nodded, but Ryan seemed to only want one thing. I gently wiggled away from him and made my way back to the bar with their pitcher.

Sam looked at me, and then looked over my shoulder at the table I just came from. "Those guys giving you trouble?"

I gave him a big smile, "Nope, just a big tip…hopefully." Sam chuckled wryly and slid the pitcher back towards me.

When I put the pitcher back on the table, I stood next to one of the other guys and preemptively put my hand on his arm. "Scott, you need anything else?" My friendliness took him by surprise and he just stared at me blankly. "How about you Mike? No? Ryan and Phil, you're good?" The guys just stared at me and smiled dumbly. "Great, give me a holler if you need anything." I turned and walked away, leaving them all confused, but happy.

I took a deep breath and felt more empowered than I had ever felt. I could never figure out how Arlene was so flirty, but never got harassed like I did. But now I knew…she made the first move, which put the power in her hands, not theirs.

Armed with this new knowledge, I made my rounds and was sure to be bold, brave and friendly. It worked every time, and by the time the clock was nearing midnight, I had another two hundred bucks in my pocket. Tips had never been this good.

By 2 o'clock in the morning, the bar was cleaned up and Arlene and I were headed out the back door. We passed by Sam's office where he had just sat down to take a quick inventory. He was smiling and only managed a quick, 'bye' when we retrieved our purses and left.

Arlene's latest boyfriend was leaning against her car. "Hello handsome," she called out. "Thanks for waiting for me to get off. Ready to go home?" He pulled her into a hug and then put her down next to the passenger door.

"I'll drive. You shouldn't have to think of anything after a shift like that!" he said as he opened her door and helped her sit down. Arlene was smiling from ear to ear and gave me a sad wave as they drove away.

It only made me lonelier, seeing her in such good hands. I sat in my car for a few minutes and thought about how I could find someone like him. Someone who would drive me home after a late shift, someone who could take care of me for once. I made a list of people I could date. Humans were out. Keeping up my mental guard all the time was exhausting. Weres weren't too bad, since they were hard to read, but then you get all the baggage that comes with packs and territory…and forget about having a normal life around the full moon.

That left me with vampires. But after Bill, I didn't have much faith in my ability to date vampires either. I thought of the vampires I knew, and immediately thought of Eric. That was one gorgeous hunk of a man, but he was complicated too. Being sheriff certainly kept him busy, and he was scary as hell sometimes. I just couldn't help but think if things were different I wouldn't hesitate to make a move. I turned my car on and shook my head. Would things ever be different with him?

A bright streak of white jolted me out of my thoughts. There was a man running on the road in front of me. I slowed down and swerved around him, rolling the window down so I could find out what was wrong. "Can I help you?" I called out. The man gave me a panicked glance and kept running. Oh my god, it was Eric.

I threw the car in park and got out, running after him. "Eric? Slow down!" He slowed but did not stop, continuing to give me nervous glances as he ran. "It's me! Eric!"

He stopped and turned to face me, hissing and pulling his hands into claws to defend himself. "Stay back woman!"

"Okay," I said putting my hands up to show him I meant no harm. "It's okay Eric." I concentrated really hard and listened to the woods around us. There were no other people in the area. "We're alone, you're safe. What are you doing out here?"

"Who are you?"

"You know who I am! Don't mess around with me, mister, I've been on my feet for the last 10 hours! Where's your 'vette?"

"You know me?" He asked in surprise.

I laughed. "Yeah, a little too well." He tilted his head in confusion and looked at me. I cleared my throat and willed myself to look away from his mouth. "Anyway…"

"Who am I?" he asked, stunning me into silence.

"Eric, I mean it, stop teasing me."

"I'm not," Eric said sadly. His shoulders slumped and his arms hung heavily by his side. "My name is Eric?"

I nodded numbly. "Northman. I don't know what's going on here, but I think it's better if I get you home. Come on…" I held my hand out to him and was surprised when he took it. We walked back to my car.

"You really don't know what you're doing out here?" I asked once we were at my car, narrowing my eyes.

He stared at me with open eyes. "Really." He looked cold and forlorn. I opened the back door and reached into the back seat grabbing a blanket. When I went to hand it to him, he looked worried that I was going to hurt him.

"You know you're a vampire, right?" I asked, laughing. He could end me in less time than it takes to blink.

"Yes," he answered seriously. "And you're not. You're…what are you? You smell so good," he said leaning towards me and closing his eyes while he inhaled deeply.

"I'm a human…and your friend. I will only help you if you promise not to hurt me."

"I won't hurt you," he said and for some reason, I believed him.

"Okay then, get in before I freeze to death. Oh my god Eric, you're barefoot!" I said looking down at his feet for the first time. "Sit down, okay?"

Eric hesitantly sat in the passenger seat, wrapping the blanket around his naked chest. I moved around to the driver's side and started my car again. Making the rest of the journey to my house in silence.

"This is where you live?" he asked staring up at my house.

"Sure is. Come inside, okay? Let me have a look at your feet." I directed him to a chair in the kitchen. He sat down obediently and I squatted in front of him. "Oh Eric, you're bleeding." There were bits of forest debris imbedded in his feet, so I got a pan out and filled it with warm water and began cleaning his feet.

"Thank you…"

"Sookie," I finished. "And you're welcome." I smiled up at him and saw something I had never seen on his face before. Gratitude. I wiped his feet one more time and they had healed completely. His feet jumped.

"Sorry, it tickles," Eric said sheepishly.

I laughed, and then touched the hem of his jeans. They were filthy and wet. "Take 'em off."

Eric stood to his full height and shimmied out of his jeans. I gulped loudly taking in the sight of his straining bright red bikini underwear. "Where should I put them?"

"Um, uh, there's a washer on the back porch…" I said numbly pointing to the back door. He came back in and picked up the blanket from my car and wrapped it around himself, standing in the kitchen waiting for instructions. "Sorry, why don't we go into my living room and we can talk." I had been planning on getting some sleep at some point tonight, but my night just got a boost of adrenalin and sleep was the last thing on my mind. I led the way, hunching over the fireplace to light a fire. "You get comfortable, I'll call Pam."

"Pam?"

"She's your second-in-command."

Eric made no move to join me in the kitchen, so I called Fangtasia and got Pam on the fifth ring. She didn't say anything directly, except that they were busy with something important and it would be best if no one knew about Eric being at my house. She thanked me for keeping him safe and said she would come to see me some time in the next couple of nights. I hung up stunned and returned to my guest. Turning the lights off as I went, leaving the bright fire as the only source of light in the room.

"Pam said you should stay here, and that she'll come by some time in the next couple of nights to check on you. Something was going on at the bar, and she couldn't really talk," I said as I sat on the couch across from him.

"I work at a bar?"

"Own. You own a bar," I corrected. Eric leaned forward, clearly interested in finding out more about himself. I spent the next half hour explaining as much about him as I knew.

"And how do I know you?"

"Well…you have helped me a couple of times, and I have helped you. The last time you helped me I was seriously wounded. I never got to thank you for that. So thank you."

"I made you feel better?" Eric asked innocently.

I blushed as I remembered our brief moment at the king's house, stretched out next to his nearly naked body, feeling his hands on me. My body responded to the memory and Eric's face showed a hint of lust as he inhaled the scent of my arousal.

I cleared my throat again, "Um, yeah."

"Sookie," Eric began. "Thank you for bringing me to your house."

"You're welcome. Just glad I could help." I couldn't look at him.

"What can I do to repay your kindness?" Eric asked moving until he was sitting next to me on the couch.

"Oh I'm sure Pam will think of something…" I said, turning my face up towards his.

"I don't know Pam, but I have a feeling she can't offer you the same things I can," he leaned closer to me and brushed a strand of hair out of my face. He was confident, but not cocky, which set me at ease.

I laughed quietly and stared at his mouth. "You're right. You have a lot to offer…"

"May I kiss you?" Eric breathed.

Words would not come out of my mouth so I nodded my head, my whole body tingling in anticipation. His lips brushed against mine gently, making me hungry for more. I opened my mouth to him and he took the opportunity to push his tongue against mine. He moaned and grasped the sides of my face, devouring my mouth. My whole body melted against him. I pulled away to breathe, admiring his swollen lips.

"You definitely didn't forget that…" I said in a dreamy voice.

"We have kissed before?" I nodded. "We are lovers?" I shook my head. "Why?"

"It just never worked out, I guess," I said, unable to keep the longing out of my voice.

Eric gave me a determined smile and leaned down to kiss me again, uncovering his body as he moved. Now it was my turn to moan. His hands moved impatiently up my sides, tugging my shirt up, walking up my ribs and stopping on my bra strap. He pulled away and craned his head around my body to look at whatever it was his fingers had just tripped over. He investigated the stretchy material and tugged at it. Confusion was evident on his face.

I laughed. "It's called a bra. It holds and covers my breasts."

Eric clicked his tongue in disappointment, slumping back on the couch. In a bold move, I whipped my shirt off and threw it into the hallway. "See?" Eric's eyes lit up like a Christmas tree.

"What a beautiful piece of clothing," Eric said as his fingers moved across the delicate creamy white lace around the cup. I shivered against him. "Do you need a blanket?"

"No," I answered simply. "I need you." I couldn't believe the words coming out of my mouth, but as I said them, they felt right.


Wait a minute...what happened to the last 1,200 words of this story? And the lemons? I figured that instead of facing expulsion from FF for inappropriate content, I would edit it myself so I can keep my account and my readers. :) Want to read the rest? Check out my blog at MySecretOFanFiction (dot) wordpress (dot) com

Please go read and review (here or there). I hope this works out for all of us!