What I wouldn’t give to have a moment’s peace.
It’s tough working in a bar when you’re a telepath. My shields are usually good enough that I can block people’s thoughts. But when you factor in alcohol, people tend to get louder and their thoughts tend to get more graphic. Normally I can handle it, because most people aren’t getting drunk at Merlotte’s, they just come in to socialize. Well, except Jane Bodehouse, the resident drunk. But her thoughts are muddled from years of alcohol abuse; I don’t really get anything from her. Tonight is different though; its New Year’s Eve, so everyone is drinking more than they normally would. And everyone’s thoughts are pressing in on me. The pressure is painful; it’s like I’m in a vice being squeezed on all sides. The noise in my head is like standing on the 50 yard line of the Superdome and having everyone in the stands yelling at me. I step up to the bar to give Sam the next order. I take a minute to close my eyes, and try to reinforce my shields. When I open my eyes, Sam is sliding the drinks on my tray. He gives me a small smile in sympathy. I give him a small smile back and turn to walk to my table.
I walk up to the table and give them their drinks, but I might as well have been invisible. They only had eyes for each other. I walk away and sigh. I used to know what that felt like, to be so enchanted with someone you only see them. Damn you, Bill. My heart still aches when I think about him. I know it’s hasn’t been that long since we broke up, but I feel like my heart won’t ever heal. He was my first everything. I move on autopilot as I take orders, clear tables, and deliver food and drinks to folks, trying to clear my head of thoughts of Bill.
Arlene asked me earlier what Bill has done for me. I told her nothing, but that’s not true. I’ve felt more alive in the last few months than I have the rest of my life. Of course, those feelings have come with a price. I lost Gran. Her loss has left a giant hole in me. She was the only parent I really remember. Mama and Daddy died when I was little, and I only have few memories of them. What I remember most is that they were scared of me because of my telepathy. I know they loved me, but their fear was a stronger emotion than their love. Gran loved me despite my disability. She never pitied me, and she helped me deal with everything the best that I can. I owed Gran everything; and I feel like I failed her. No matter how long I live, I will always miss and mourn her.
All of my tables are OK, so I tell Sam I’m gonna take a quick break to clear my head. He reaches across the bar and squeezes my hand. I pull my hand away and throw on my “Crazy Sookie” smile. Touching always increases my ability to hear someone. Sam was thinking he would like to be my kiss at midnight; that since I’m now free of Bill he might have a shot. I shove open the back door of Merlotte’s and roll my eyes at Sam’s thoughts. Sam is my friend…OK I have occasionally had the X-rated thought about him. But sue me, I’ve been a lonely woman for most of my life, and I needed to have some fantasies. I don’t think getting involved with Sam would be a good idea. He’s my boss first and foremost, and he’s been one of the few friends I’ve ever had. I don’t want to ruin that.
I look up at the sky and release a sigh. Although I can still “hear” everything inside, it’s muted, not hitting me at full blast like earlier. I lean against the building and can’t help but think about what I want this upcoming year. In the last few weeks, I’ve been staked, bitten, beaten up, nearly drained, and….I can’t think about that last one. Logically, I know what Bill did to me in the trunk of that car in Jackson. I know what he did is no better than what Bartlett did to me as a child. But emotionally…I can’t process it. I don’t know how to handle it. I can’t fathom how someone who claimed to love me could physically hurt me like that. He said he didn’t know what he was doing, that it was his vampire instincts taking over.
Vampire instincts…..if that were the case, Eric would have drained me several times over by now.
I kick at the ground in frustration. I did NOT want to think about Eric Northman. He is a high-handed bastard who tricked me into taking his blood in Dallas. That pain in the ass vampire pimped my telepathy out to any and all vampires that paid his asking price. Sometimes I wanted to stake his ass myself.
And yet…..he gave me a driveway. He helped clean my house after the Weres beat me up. He took care of me in Jackson when I got staked. He protected me when we went to the orgy. He shielded my body with his own from the Fellowship attack in Dallas. He helped heal me after I was attacked by the Maenad. Eric confuses me. Part of me wants to slap the smile off his face, and another part of me wants to grab on his ass and never let go.
Moaning and grunting brings me out of my thoughts. Great, my brother and his date are having sex in the parking lot. This is one of those times I really hate being a telepath. I don’t need to hear this shit…and my brain definitely didn’t need that visual!
I move inside and hustle to check on my tables. I get back into the routine of work, nothing like monotonous (a word from last week on my Word-of-the-Day calendar) activity to allow my mind to drift. And for some reason, my mind drifts to Eric again. OK, I admit that I was attracted to him the moment I saw him (I’d have to be truly dead not to be attracted). And other than the night when he staked Long Shadow, he really hasn’t given me a reason to be afraid of him. In fact, he has protected me and cared for me several times. He’s even given me things he knows I needed. The only thing Bill has ever given me was a line of credit at Tara’s Togs so he could destroy my clothing when the mood struck him. I know Eric wants to have sex with me…and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious. A shudder runs through my body as I remember that night in Jackson…the way he kissed me until I was breathless…the feel of his hands on and in my body…the size of him pressed against my back as I drank his blood. Arousal floods my panties while I think about it, and Sam’s head whips around to stare at me. Damn supernatural sense of smell!
Fortunately for me, the patrons start counting down. I move as far from Sam as possible. I don’t want him to think I’m feeling this way for him. As the clock strikes midnight, I smile and hug some of the customers. I find Arlene and give her a hug too. I avoid Sam. I’m still a little raw thinking about Eric.
The rest of the night is over before I know it. Thank God because I’m exhausted. Sam, Arlene, Kenya, and I talk about our resolutions for the upcoming year. I tell them I want to stay out of trouble, to not get hurt or beaten up. That was the safe answer. I couldn’t tell them what my real New Year’s resolution is. Since midnight, I’ve been thinking about Eric; the pros and the cons that come with being involved with that vampire. Would it be so awful to be his? Would it really be so bad to find out if he really is a Viking Vampire Sex God? My hootchie answers that one for me. I get into my car and begin to make the drive home. My New Year’s resolution is to stop living my life to other people’s expectations and be happy…..and if that means being with Eric Northman, then so be it.