“Good evening ladies,” Bill says in what he must consider a seductive purr. All it does is make me want to vomit. I’ve known Bill Compton all my life since his family owned the home across the cemetery from my Gran. However, I did not have the misfortune of getting to know Bill Compton until I was in college at LSU. Let’s just say he is a revolting blight on humanity that should never have been allowed to see the light of day. I know the expression they say is ‘a face only a mother could love’, but there is no way in hell that anybody could love that face. He always looks like he’s smelled something unpleasant and now his body has become bloated from years of alcohol abuse and lack of fitness. But the most unattractive quality about Bill is his delusional belief that he and I are meant to be together.
“Bill, what are you doing here?” Hadley is the one to greet Bill, but I have nothing to say to him. What the hell do you say to the person you previously had a restraining order against?
“Well I’m meeting some clients here for dinner and I couldn’t help but notice all my old friends over here in the bar,” he says insincerely with a smile he must practice to make himself seem likable. “I thought I would come over and say hello. And then I have the added pleasure of seeing you lovely ladies. Sookie, I must say you look ravishing this evening,” he says turning the full force of his gaze on me. His eyes look me up and down like I am a horse he’s about to buy and I can tell he wants to rub his hands against me to complete his inspection. It makes me want to vomit. Hadley is holding on to my arm tightly and I’m thankful for it. My stomach is starting to turn and I break out in a sweat. I want to blame that shot of tequila for the way I’m feeling, but I know it’s in reaction to seeing Bill. Damn, why did I let that restraining order lapse?
Hadley’s arm slips around my waist and she pulls me closer to her. “It’s gonna be alright. Breathe,” she whispers to me. “He can’t do anything to you here.”
I do exactly what she says and I draw a deep breath in through my nose. Unfortunately, it makes Bill’s eyes drift down to my chest. Fuck, I’m gonna be sick after all!
“Bill.” Alcide calls his name a second time which finally prompts Bill to turn around so that he is no longer looking at me. I sag against Hadley in relief. She keeps her arm around me and looks at me with worry. I smile weakly letting her know I’m alright. But the guys aren’t alright. Alcide and Tray look angry which is to be expected because they know all the shit that went down between me and Bill, but Eric’s expression is the one that surprises me. He looks positively murderous. I know Eric had issues with Bill when we briefly dated, but that was years ago. What the hell is his problem now? Then again, I’ve held a grudge against Eric for years so I’ve got no room to talk. But if I meant so little to Eric, then the shit Bill said to him back then shouldn’t matter.
“Bill I think it’s time for you to leave,” Alcide says in a clipped voice. He is trying to be polite and civil but I can see his muscles straining in his neck. It’s a sign that Alcide is pissed off and ready to explode. As for Tray, he’s not even attempting to be civil; he is cracking all of his knuckles and clenching his hands into fists, just itching for the slightest excuse to pound on Bill.
“It’s a public restaurant; you don’t have the authority to make me leave,” Bill says haughtily though his stance shifts just enough to show that he is slightly uneasy with this situation. Hadley and I are shifting away from the guys, knowing that at any moment Alcide and Tray are going to light it up like the Fourth of July. However, Claudine’s sudden reappearance provides a much needed break in all the tension.
“You’re right Bill, this is a public restaurant, and I see your clients waiting over there for you,” she says in a sickening sweet tone as she waves her fingers happily at the group of gentlemen standing at the opposite end of the bar. “They’re old friends of Daddy’s. So if you don’t want them finding out what kind of depraved person you are, I suggest you leave before I tell them all about what happened that night in Baton Rouge,” she finishes ominously. “Just think of what something like that could do for your precious reputation. And remember, your daddy isn’t around anymore to protect you,” she says stepping closer to him and blocking him from my view. This right here is why I adore Claudine; despite all the bullshit she’s put me through in the last few weeks, I know she truly cares about me and she’s willing to do anything to protect those she considers her friend.
“Are you threatening me?” Bill sneers at Claudine and takes a step towards her, but that’s all he gets to do before Alcide grabs him by the arm and spins him away from his fiancée and towards the entrance of the restaurant. Waiting behind Alcide are one of the bartenders and a member of management; I hadn’t noticed that they were watching the scene unfold, waiting to jump in to prevent things from escalating and getting out of hand. The bartender and the manager separate Bill from our group and ask him to leave, despite his loud protestations that he has done nothing wrong. The guys stay vigilant until they see Bill escorted through the entrance doors to the sidewalk.
Claudine turns around to look at me with concern. “Honey you are whiter than a virgin about to be sacrificed to an angry god. Let’s get you a glass of water,” Claudine says gesturing to a bartender. Hadley and Claudine guide me to the bar stool. Claudine passes me the water and I sip it slowly as Hadley rubs small circles on my back. The guys form a protective half circle around us, and for once, Eric keeps his thoughts to himself. There was a time he would have opened his arms and I would have run to them seeking comfort. Now I’m just waiting for the moment he starts being an asshole to me. I can’t handle it if he does; I’m hanging on by a thread here.
Two weeks . . . Two weeks until we graduate college. They say college is one of the greatest experiences of your life. In a way that’s true. I have met three women I know will be friends with me for the rest of my life. And there are others I know I’ll keep in touch with once we leave here. When I graduate, I will finally be a teacher, on paper at least. The only thing that would have made college better is if I had someone waiting to share the next stage of my life with. Sadly, that wasn’t meant to be. I’m not bitter . . . Well, maybe just a little. I envy Claudine and Alcide. They are graduating together, have jobs lined up in their fields, and found a nice place for their first home. I’m disheartened because I haven’t found a job yet and I’m going to be moving back in with my parents. Not how I pictured my post collegiate life starting out.
“What are you doing Sook?” Claudine strolls in my bedroom and plops down on my mattress making it bounce. There are boxes and storage containers scattered around my room. I’ve begun packing up the things I won’t need in the next two weeks. It’s amazing the amount of crap I’ve collected in four years of school. Sitting on the floor, I have piles of pictures scattered around me. I told myself I was going to get organized and put all these pictures in albums but I’ve been too caught up in my trip down memory lane.
I pass a picture to Claudine. It’s a picture of us with Hadley and Tara from the day the four of us first moved in together. We all look so happy and excited. “Remember that day?”
“Oh my God! Look at us,” Claudine coos as she looks at the picture. “Damn girl you were tan!” We both laugh because that was the summer I had worked as a lifeguard at the community pool. Tara had joked that I was darker than her the day we’d moved in together. For a while, people were asking me if I was Latina because of how dark I had been.
“Do you remember how pissed my daddy and brother were with the number of shoes you had brought with you? I think the two of them made ten trips carrying all those damn boxes in,” I say with a laugh as she hands the picture back to me.
“Your brother got over it,” Claudine says with a shrug and a smile. “I gave him a hand job in the bathroom as thanks,” she says wickedly.
“You bitch!” I throw a pillow at her and try to slap her with my hand but she wiggles away, still laughing. “Is that why he always asks me if you’re coming with me when I see him?”
“He does not,” she scoffs.
“Yes he does! You’re such a skank!”
Claudine chuckles but doesn’t argue with me. She leans over the side of the bed and sifts through the pictures. She smiles when she pulls out a picture from the pimps and hos party we went to last year. In a twist, she was dressed in a black and white pinstripe suit and Alcide wore nothing but a pair of leather pants. “Now this was a good time. Alcide looked pretty good dancing up on that pole.”
I snort with laughter. He’d taken his role as a ho a little too seriously. The more he drank, the more he danced. He ended up dancing around the pole and had stripped down to nothing more than a gold lame thong. He’d made a lot of money that night.
Claudine and I keep looking through the pictures. She wants to burn the pictures of Remy because he’s a sleazy asshole that deserves to have his dick cut off for abandoning his pregnant girlfriend, but I won’t let her. Who knows? Remy might have a change of heart and come back to do the right thing.
And I might have a fairy godmother that is going to grant me three wishes from Aladdin’s magic lamp.
My body freezes as I see a picture of me with Eric from the brief period we had dated. After our breakup, I had thought about going through and getting rid of all the stuff that reminded me of him, but I didn’t have to; one of my amazing roommates must have done it for me. I thought they had thrown everything out, but I guess whoever did it had only hidden the pictures. There aren’t many but the ones that are here show two young people very much in love. There’s a picture of me straddling Eric’s lap with the two of us smiling happily at each other. His arms are wrapped around my waist and my hands are resting on his chest. I remember it was taken when a bunch of us were playing truth or dare and they had dared me to give Eric a lap dance in front of a room full of people. I had started out teasing him with moves that wouldn’t entice him, but he’s the one that had pulled me close and told me to give it my best shot. Well, if the teaching thing doesn’t work out, I might have a promising career as a stripper.
The picture under that is of the two of is sleeping. Eric is on his back and I’m on my side curled up next to him, an arm and a leg draped over his body to keep him close to me. His arm is under my body with his fingers tangled in my hair.
“You guys looked good together,” Claudine says to fill the silence. “I’m sorry I ever stuck my nose where it didn’t belong,” she says contritely for the thousandth time.
“There is nothing to forgive Cher,” I say using her nickname so she knows I’m not mad. And I’m not mad, at least not at her. I’m mad at myself for never confronting Eric, and I’m definitely mad at him for being an asshole. What had I done wrong? Was it just a game for him? You know what, it doesn’t matter anymore. He’s got his own life in New Orleans; he won’t even be at graduation because he’ll be away on some photo assignment. At least that’s what Tray and Alcide had said. In fact, Eric hasn’t been around for most of this semester; he’d gotten an internship down in New Orleans. He only had classes Tuesdays and Thursdays, from what Alcide had said; Eric would stay in New Orleans Thursday night through Monday and drive back to Baton Rouge Monday nights for his classes on Tuesday. Part of me wanted to ask Alcide if he knew where Eric was staying in New Orleans, but I was afraid to hear the answer. I wondered what his parents thought of his internship since it was as a photographer and not in a field that his father approved of. I hoped for Eric’s sake that his relationship with his father wasn’t more strained than what it had already been. I don’t know why I can’t shake worrying about Eric Northman; he’s not mine to worry about anymore. But then again, was he ever really mine to begin with?
“Come on,” Claudine says scrambling off my bed. “It’s Friday night; let’s get out of here and live it up! You and me, we’ll go out and have a good time. How long has it been since it was just the two of us?”
“I don’t have time to go out,” I whine gesturing to all the stuff lying around that needs to be packed. I’m feeling melancholy now and the last thing I want to do is go drinking and dancing at one of the bars around campus.
“Sookie Stackhouse, you get your pretty little ass up off that floor and get in the shower right this minute! We are going out, and we’re gonna have a good time!” Claudine stands with her hands on her hips and giving me a mock glare, but I know she’s serious. She’s right, after graduation, who knows when the next time we’ll see each other is. Probably Hadley’s baby shower in July, but then, who knows?
With a sigh, I hold my hands out so she’ll help me up off the floor. Once I’m standing, Claudine gives me a big hug before rushing off to get ready. What the hell? One last hurrah before we graduate.
Instead of going to one of our usual haunts where everyone we know will be hanging out, we go to a new club that’s opened up downtown. Hadley, God bless her, offered to drive us so we didn’t have to worry about taking a cab. I feel bad that she can’t come with us, but she’s five months pregnant, and a noisy club isn’t the place for her. What’s even worse is that the baby’s father up and split the moment she said she was pregnant.
Fucking asshole! If I ever see him again, he’s getting the Lorena Bobbitt treatment.
Claudine and I have had a great time dancing and drinking. It reminds me of the old days before she was with Alcide. I have nothing against Alcide, and I’m happy for them, but sometimes it’s nice to have it just be us girls. We’ve been at the club for about an hour, dancing our asses off like it’s our own personal Step Up Revolution. A couple of guys have tried to hone in on us, but we’ve sent them packing. Tonight is about us.
Claudine and I move well together, and we use each other’s bodies to put on a show for those watching us. We aren’t indecent by any means, but our moves are definitely risqué as we bump and grind against each other. We’re laughing, smiling, and singing along to all our favorite songs. She’s right; I did need this! It’s been too long since I’ve let go like this.
We’ve been dancing nonstop and I need a drink. Claudine and I make our way to the bar. Guys have bought us drinks all night, hoping that it’s the in they need to join our little party, but Claudine had brushed them all off. We appreciate the drinks, but don’t think a $12 pomegranate martini entitles you to knowing if my boobs are real or fake and if the carpet matches the drapes!
As we wait for the bartender to bring our drinks, Claudine checks her cell phone and starts smiling. Her fingers fly over the keys as she types her response. No doubt she and Alcide are sexting each other right now. My good mood plummets slightly because I wish I had that; someone waiting at home for me, to cuddle up next to after fucking his brains out.
Damn, it’s been too long since I’ve had sex.
The bartender drops off our drinks. I try to give him money for them but he waves me off. “The guy at the end of the bar took care of it,” he shouts over the music for us to hear. Claudine and I turn to see who the bartender is pointing at and my heart drops to my stomach quicker than a hooker dropping to her knees to give a blow job. Bill Compton is standing at the end of the bar in all weasel-like glory, smirking at us. What the hell is he doing here? A dance club doesn’t seem to be his scene. Come to think of it, the only thing that seems to be his scene is a Civil War reenactment. He begins making his way through the crowd towards us, and I groan in frustration. I’m here to have a good time, not put up with his assholery. Ever since Eric and I split up, Bill has been actively pursuing me. I’ve told him repeatedly that I’m not interested, but he doesn’t give up. He’s like a dog with a bone. Thankfully, I’ve been busy with my student teaching assignments this semester, so I haven’t seen him in months. Go fucking figure that the first time I go out, he shows up where we are! Claudine doesn’t say anything, but her brow is puckered and her fingers are once again flying over her phone. My eyes scan the area around us quickly trying to find a way for us to escape, but Bill appears next to us.
“Hello ladies. What a pleasant surprise to see you both here,” he says trying to be cordial, but it just comes off as phony. “Sookie I must say you look ravishing tonight,” he states as he gives me a once over, his tongue slithering out to lick his lips like a snake sensing its environment.
Feeling his eyes on me makes me want to puke. Rather than engage him in conversation, I quickly down the rest of my drink and grab Claudine’s hand. “Sorry Bill, we were just gonna head to the ladies room. Thanks for the drinks though!” I grab Claudine’s hand and drag her with me to the bathroom, not that either one of us needed to go, but it was a good excuse to get us away from Bill. And as is usually the case, there is a line to get in the bathroom. Claudine and I must be waiting nearly twenty minutes before we come back out. Thankfully, there is no sign of Bill, but there are two other guys waiting for us that I am much happier to see.
“Hey babe,” Alcide says as she walks over to his side and he gives her a kiss on the temple. “I got your message. Tray came with me. Where is the asshole?” Alcide crams his neck around looking for Bill, but it looks like he’s nowhere to be found. Tray gives me a hug, which I happily return, but when he lets me go, I end up clinging to his arms.
Tray looks at me with concern. “You alright Sook?”
“I think that last drink is catching up with me,” I admit with a laugh. It has been a while since I drank, so downing that last drink so quickly wasn’t such a good idea.
“Let’s sit down. Then I’ll get you some water,” Tray offers as he slips his arm around my waist. He guides me towards a table that two guys quickly give up when they see I don’t look so good. I don’t understand what’s happening. I’m not a lightweight when it comes to liquor. The drink Bill had bought was only my third of the evening, so why do I feel all woozy inside?
“How much has she had to drink?” Alcide questions Claudine as they stand next to me while Tray hurries to get me water. It feels like I’m on a damn boat rocking back and forth and it’s making me nauseous. Tray hurries back with the glass of water and some napkins. He takes one of the napkins and splashes some water on it and applies it to my forehead. The coolness of the napkin feels good against my suddenly overheated skin.
“Only three. She shouldn’t feel this bad after that many drinks. I’ve seen her kill an entire fifth of rum and she could still recite all fifty state capitals,” Claudine says worriedly. I’ve closed my eyes to try to help stop the room from spinning, but it does no good.
“I think I’m gonna be sick,” I say as I stumble out of the chair and head towards the bathroom. Why is it that bathroom hallways are always dark and confined? Thankfully, there isn’t a line outside of the ladies room this time. I’m just about ready to go in, when an arm grabs me around my waist and a hand clamps over my mouth.
“Did you honestly think you could get away with blowing me off like that?” Bill’s voice snarls angrily in my ear as he pulls me against his body. I try to fight against his hold, but my limbs feel heavy; like I’m underwater and there is a very strong current holding me back. Bill drags me towards a door marked employees’ only. Why is my body not fighting back? Why can’t I scream for help?
“You’re mine Sookie Stackhouse. It’s high time you started realizing that you belong to me, and I can do anything I want with you,” Bill hisses as the arm around my waist moves so that his fingers are pressing against the juncture of my thighs, digging at the soft flesh.
Oh my God! He’s gonna rape me! I try with everything I’ve got to fight him off, but I can’t. My head is all foggy, but I’m trying to push through so I can fight him off. But I’m so tired, and my body feels so heavy. I hear voices screaming, but they sound so far away. The next thing I know, my eyes flutter closed and I slip into oblivion.
“Sook? You OK?”
Hadley and Claudine are standing on either side of me looking concerned. I know they too are thinking back to that night when Bill Compton tried to rape me. He would have succeeded too if it hadn’t been for Claudine following me. She saw Bill drag me through the door that would have taken us outside and called for Tray and Alcide. I don’t know what happened next; the next thing I was aware of was waking up in the emergency room. Two police officers took statements from the four of us, and the toxicology report indicated that I had GHB in my system. Unfortunately, no one could prove that Bill had been the one to put the date rape drug in my drink. I wanted to have him charged with attempted rape, but the slippery bastard filed charges against Alcide and Tray for aggravated assault. When they saw me unconscious in Bill’s arms, my two protectors went Floyd Mayweather and Muhammad Ali on him. They probably would have killed him if it hadn’t been for the police arriving when they did. If I didn’t press charges against Bill, then he wouldn’t press charges against Alcide and Tray. I couldn’t ruin my friends’ lives because they were helping me, so I did the only thing I could do. I dropped the charges against Bill, but I made sure that I had a protective order against him. Claudine’s father was very helpful in getting that taken care of swiftly. Unfortunately, my protective order had expired and I had not sought to renew it because I had not seen Bill Compton in the four years since I graduated LSU. When I had to go to trial for the protective order, Bill did not attend, sending his lawyer in his stead. I had worried when returning to Bon Temps that I would have issues with Bill, but the entire Compton family moved out of the area. They still own the home across the cemetery from my Gran, but they have not been there in years. Even when Bill’s father, Congressman Thomas Compton, had died, his wife had opted to bury him in Washington D.C. and not the family plot in Bon Temps. His widow spends her time between Washington D.C. and New Orleans. In all honesty, I had no idea where Bill had settled after leaving Baton Rouge. I’d hoped he’d left the state for good.
I guess I was wrong.
“I’ll be fine girls, I promise,” I say giving them a weak smile. Neither one of them look like they believe me, and I’m not sure I believe myself. However, tonight isn’t about me; it’s about Claudine and Alcide. “Come on ladies,” I say rising from the stool and putting on a brave face. “Let’s go talk bachelorette party!” Hadley looks dubious, but Claudine’s face lights up as she realizes the conversation is turning back to her. The three of us walk away from the guys, but I turn to look at them over my shoulder. Alcide and Tray are talking quietly in between sipping their beers, but Eric isn’t participating in their conversation. He’s drinking his beer and staring at me as if I’m a puzzle he can’t solve.
Funny, that’s how I feel about him.