Morning came far earlier than Sookie wanted it to but she got up and ready for work like a good little adult. Just because she’d partied until nearly dawn did not give her leave to call off and leave her boss shorthanded no matter how much she wanted to.
The day started out alright and got slowly better as the day wore on. Slow unfortunately being the operative word. She didn’t have her usual energy this morning and everyone was noticing. Some made bawdy jokes and asked what she’d been doing all night, Lafyette. Others looked on with disapproval coming to their own conclusions about her late night antics, Arlene.
The one that worried her most though was Sam. He spent the entire day yelling at her to pick up her speed. While she wasn’t working as fast as she normally would, all that really did was put her on par with everyone else. She’d always been the fastest and today because she was average like the rest she was getting yelled at, something just didn’t seem right about that but she was just too tired to care over much.
At the end of the day Sam called her into his office, hopefully to apologize about his behavior all day long.
“Sookie you and I need to talk.” His eyes were hard and his tone clipped, she wouldn’t be holding her breath for that apology.
“Alright Sam what’s on your mind?” Like she couldn’t guess.
“You’re lagging today, would you mind telling me why.”
She didn’t really see how the reasons behind it were any of his business, but he was not only her boss but her friend and he had asked nicely, at least in comparison to the way he’d been talking the whole day long.
“Well I was up late last night at a club with Eric.” No sooner had the words left her mouth than the genial air of the conversation was blown away by a chilly breeze.
“So you’re letting your time with this vampire interfere with your work then? Well, I’m sorry but I’m gonna have to ask you not to see him on the nights before you have to work the morning shift.”
To say she was stunned was beyond an understatement. He did not just say that.
“But Sam you got me on nothing but morning shifts five days a week.” She tried to reason with him, but really right now she was beyond angry how dare he! As far as she knew he had never taken a personal interest in any other staff members’ life. Heck, half of the time they came in still a little tipsy from the night before and he never said boo, but because she was with Eric he was getting all indignant about things. No! She would not just sit back and take that.
“I know and I’m sorry but that’s not gonna change anytime soon.” He sounded smug, like his plan was falling into place. Like hell.
“And if I refuse?” She’d never refused to work before, always taking whatever shift was easiest for everyone else, but things were different now. She had a life now, just like all the rest of them and it was about time they started considering her needs as much as she considered there’s.
“Then I’m afraid I’m gonna have to let you go.” He leaned back in his chair as he spoke, like he already knew the outcome to this whole conversation before it even started. Well, proving him wrong would be sweet indeed.
“On what grounds?” He couldn’t do that! Could he do that? Did she care if he did it?
“Poor work performance.” What!
“For one day?” He just stared at her with a look that spoke volumes about what he thought her answer was going to be, he thought he’d painted her into a corner and he was downright smug about it. It was going to be a pleasure to wipe that look off his face.
“Well, if those are my only options then I guess I’m just going to have to quit. Goodbye Sam.”
“What!? No you can’t, with no notice?” He sounded bewildered, like this had never crossed his mind.
“You said it yourself Sam, poor work performance, I guess I’m just a bad employee.” Without another word she grabbed her purse and walked out. Never to return at least not as a waitress.
Eric had gone to Merlottes to see Sookie and been told that she’d quit that afternoon. From the look on the shifters face he blamed him for her sudden defection. He was personally beyond ecstatic about her no longer working in that dive, but she loved that job and he couldn’t help but wonder what would make her leave it.
Knocking on the farmhouse door he wasn’t surprised when her Gran answered and just stepped aside to let him in telling him that she was in her room. When he climbed the stairs finally reaching the door to her room the scent of her tears assaulted his senses. Silently opening the door he found her lying on her bed in her favorite flannel pajamas hugging her pillow and sobbing. Moving to the side of the bed he laid down next to her and pulled her into his arms. As expected she turned into his embrace and cried into his chest. He crooned to her and tried to calm her, what the hell happened?
“Shhh, it’s alright Sookie. Can you tell me what has upset you so, maybe I can fix it?”
“You can’t fix it. Sam b…ba…basically told me that if I didn’t s…stop seeing you he would fire me. S… Sa….. So I quit and now I don’t know what to do. The only friend I have that will even still speak to me is Lafyette.”
Her sobs cut him to the bone. At the mention of the shifter and his high handed tactics, that thankfully had not succeeded in separating them, his fangs fell. He held her as she shed her tears for nearly two hours telling her over and over that everything would be okay, that these things have a way of working themselves out. When she finally began to quiet he softly asked her if she would like to come work at Fangtasia or another one of his many businesses. She’d smiled up at him through tear filled eyes.
“I don’t think working for my boyfriend would be the best idea in the world I’ll find something. I know I will.” Her optimism firmly back in place.
“I know you will as well my sweet.”
With that she finally fell into the deep sleep of the emotionally drained. Now what to do about the shifter? Even if he wasn’t a vampire as an otherworldly being without a pack or tribe he fell under Eric’s purview, even if he didn’t realise it. He would not tolerate such high-handed tactics being used against him by someone who owed him fealty.
Sookie just didn’t know what she was going to do if this interview did not go her way. A week ago when she’d quit her job and turned down Eric’s offer to come work for him she’d been forgetting one very important factor. Everyone in Bon Temp thought of her as Crazy Sookie and none would give her a job but Sam. That was how she ended up waiting tables at Merlotte’s in the first place.
Luckily when Calvin Norris from over in Hotshot heard about her departure from Merlotte’s he’d recommended her for a position as a secretary with one of his acquaintances. Herveaux construction was opening a new office in Shreveport and needed to staff it quickly. She was hoping that if she got the job she’d be able to prove herself before rumors of her instability reached her employers.
She’d been so deep in her own thoughts she hadn’t heard anyone approach. Glancing up, then up some more, she met the dark chocolate eyes of none-other than Alcide Herveaux, her prospective boss. She knew him on sight from the picture she’d gleaned from Mr. Norris’s mind, but up close and in person she had to admit he was something else entirely. Not that she was interested, not with Eric in her life, but damn.
“Yes, Mr. Herveaux?” It was never wise to let on that she knew things, best to play it safe.
“That’s me, would you mind following me back to my office, then we’ll get the interview underway.”
Standing she followed behind the giant hunk of man meat, oh no don’t think of him that way. She didn’t like it when people thought of her that way she would not think that way about anyone else. That they couldn’t hear her thoughts was not the point, she could.
“Now Ms. Stackhouse why do you think you would be right for the position here at Herveaux Construction?”
Eric woke in the evening to a feeling of agitation. It had been a week since he first offered Sookie a job at one of his company’s; he hoped she would reconsider by now. He didn’t want to be the one to bring it up again, but he also didn’t want to have to see his love struggle when she didn’t have to. After spending a few hours at Fangtasia dealing with petty problems he finally managed to free himself enough to head to Hummingbird Lane where he wanted to spend every waking moment with his darling Sookie.
He couldn’t wait until the day when he would no longer have to knock on the door and ask permission to enter. He knew that day would be a long way off, but still he dreamed of it often.
When his love answered the door with a smile and a spring in her step he guessed she’d gotten good news during the day. Obviously news she was just dying to share with him.
“Eric guess what!” Obviously so eager she wasn’t even waiting to ask him inside first.
“What makes you so joyous my dear?” He began to smile, her happiness as always was infectious.
“I got a job today!” While he was disappointed that she would not be working with him so they would be able to spend more time together he agreed that was wonderful news.
“And where is this job darling of mine?” He hoped she managed to get a job outside of Bon Temp, the way the denizens of this po-dunk town treated her was not healthy.
“It’s a secretary job over in Shreveport, so we’ll be working near each other, with that new company Herveaux Construction. My new boss Alcide said I could start as early as Monday. Isn’t that just great?”
She’d turned away from him to head toward the kitchen completely missing the thunderous look that descended upon his features. There was no way his lover would be working for her Werewolf ex-boyfriend. His mind was in such a state he didn’t even stop to think that in this world she’d only just met him, and there was no romantic history in their past. No, all he heard was that his lover would be working with someone who had coveted her in the past. This was not acceptable.
When Alcide had told her she got the job Sookie had been so excited she’d never really done anything but waitressing before and now she would get the chance to try her hand at something new. As she reached the refrigerator intending to get Eric a TrueBlood his next words drew her up short.
“I forbid it.”
She blinked several times and bit her bottom lip to keep her first response from leaping from her mouth. Turning slowly she found Eric standing in the doorway to her kitchen, standing straight, arms crossed, completely serious.
“Excuse me? I don’t believe I heard you right. At least I better not have heard you right. I haven’t been forbidden to do something since I was eight years old, and I know that you aren’t trying to do something so foolish as to forbid me from working now are you?”
She kept her tone light but her words were very much to the point. He scowled at her showing no remorse whatsoever.
“I am never foolish, and it’s not your working in general I forbid, just your working there. Find somewhere else!”
“Why you…you…you I don’t even have a word to describe you right now you are behaving so ridiculously. There is nowhere else for me to work, this is it!”
“My offer to come work for me still stands. You will take a position at one of my businesses and that will be the end of this.”
“Oh it will, will it? I don’t think so buddy. I will work where I wish to work and I want to work at Herveaux Construction! Now get out of my house and don’t come back until you’ve learned some manners.”
With his invitation rescinded he began to walk slowly backwards and out of her home. Once he reached the porch he stood there for a moment staring at her doorway as though he couldn’t believe she had done that.
“This is not over my dear I promise you that!”
With that parting comment he was just gone. Slamming the door shut she marched back into the kitchen. Seeing the TrueBlood she’d gotten out for him, still sitting cold and untouched on the counter she sat down hard at the kitchen table, put her head in her hands and cried her heart out.
An hour later when her Gran got back from her Descendants of the Glorious Dead meeting over at the library she was still at the table weeping pitifully.
“Sookie, darling what’s wrong dear?”
“Oh Gran Eric and I got into a fight! He….he…said such horrible things to me and I…I…I rescinded his invitation. I think it’s over between us. I can’t believe it, I thought we were so great together.” She was so busy with her self pity she almost missed the look of mirth on her Grans face. How could her Gran be so happy in the wake of her tragic ending of her relationship?
“What are you so happy about? I thought you liked Eric?” Didn’t her Gran care at all that her heart was breaking in two?
“Oh I do dear, I like him quite a bit, but I doubt one simple fight will break your relationship. The first big blow up of a relationship always seems far worse than it is. Then you always think because you’ve never fought before that because you did now, the relationship is at its end. But Sookie honey that just isn’t the case dearest, couples fight sometimes. Now there are serious fights that do break people apart, but more often than not that only happens when one of them no longer wants to be in the relationship anymore. I’ve seen the way he looks at you it will take a lot more than one simple argument to tear the two of you apart. Now what did you argue about?”
“I got a job at this construction company today as a secretary. When I told Eric about it he forbade me from working there. He actually said I forbid it like I’m not capable of making my own decisions. When I told him he couldn’t forbid me to do anything he told me that I was gonna come work at one of his places and that would be the end of it. Like he has complete veto power over my life or something. Then I rescinded his invitation and he looked so mad, then he said it wasn’t over and he left. He actually left Gran!” Even just thinking about it had tears falling down her face once more. How could he just leave?
“Well dear, what did you expect him to do? Just stand out on the porch and apologise and beg to be let back in the house? I’ve only met your man once but even I know better than to think a man like that will ever do something so pathetic. You kicked him out I’m sure he saw that as you ending the argument for the moment. Now he’s gone to regroup. I’m sure the two of you will work it out eventually.”
“Are you sure Gran?” Could her Gran be right? Could they work it all out, salvage what they had? She didn’t know, all she knew for sure was that she didn’t want this to be the end of them.
“Of course I’m sure dearest, I’m old and with age comes wisdom and the ability to be right more often than you’re wrong. Now why don’t you go on upstairs and take a nice hot bath that should help to get your spirits back up.”
Trudging upstairs to do as she was told she felt like a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders. Maybe Gran was right and this wasn’t the end after all.
Adele knew she probably shouldn’t be interfering in the business of young people but someone had to. The two of them had so many mixed signals and misunderstandings they might as well not be speaking the same language at all. As she approached Fangtasia she wondered not for the first time if coming to talk to him here was a good idea. Sure she knew he’d be here, this being his place and all, but really would they even let her in? She wasn’t exactly a spring chicken these days.
Well only one way to find out, bypassing the line she went straight to the striking blonde woman at the door, always best to be direct and to the point.
“Excuse me young lady, would it be possible for me to see Mr. Northman this evening?”
“That all depends, who are you and why do you want to see him?”
The woman sounded bored and hadn’t even bothered to look at her. Lifting her chin and gathering her courage she answered her with all the dignity she could get while standing among nearly naked twenty somethings who were all openly glaring at her.
“My name is Adele Stackhouse and Mr. Northman is seeing my granddaughter Sookie, I would like to speak to him about that.”
The woman’s eyes finally met hers before looking her up and down in an assessing way. The woman gave her an approving nod, or at least what she thought was approving, it could just as easily been dismissive for all the emotion on the woman’s face. When she turned away and started walking into the club she took that as her cue to follow behind her, if she was wrong they could just escort her back out again.
He’d felt his child’s approach and wondered at it in passing. Pam rarely left the door to others not trusting them not to get them shut down but letting a minor slip by with a fake ID. She entered without knocking as was her usual. Glancing up to ask her what was so important he was startled to see none other than Adele Stackhouse standing behind her looking around with wide eyes taking in everything. He could only imagine her reaction to the rest of the club and its patrons.
“Mrs. Stackhouse, what a surprise. What can I do for you?” Waving Pam away he gave the grandmother of his love his undivided attention.
“Mr. Northman I don’t mean to intrude, but I was wondering if I could have a moment of your time?”
Polite as always, now he knew why his Sookie always sounded like she was at a garden party. It was apparently hereditary.
“Of course Mrs. Stackhouse,” he heard her meekly tell him to call her Adele which he acknowledged with a nod. “What brings you here?”
“Well, Sookie and I spoke of your fight and I was wondering if I could hear your side of the tale?”
“It’s simple really, Sookie told me she had taken a position at a company owned by an acquaintance of mine and I…. objected.” He didn’t know if Sookie’s willingness to speak of their argument with her Gran was good or bad, but at least she had someone to speak to about it, he was completely in the dark.
“You did more than object. If I understand correctly you outright FORBID it. Now I understand that sometimes when dealing with younger people we older ones tend to show our age a bit. I do it myself from time to time and I dare say I am a bit younger than you. However, before you hold onto your anger I would suggest you keep two things in mind, if I may?”
He debated for all of two seconds. This woman raised Sookie; she would likely have some insight that would help him through these unfamiliar situations.
“Of course. I would be honored if you would advise me in this. I do believe I am a bit out of my depth. Ha ha ha.” When dealing with a southern lady one must always be able to laugh at yourself. If nothing else Sookie taught him that much at least.
“First while Sookie is very level headed you need to remember her age, and more so the era in which she was brought up. Yes I raised her with good old fashioned values but she’s still a twenty-first century girl. The second the word forbid left your mouth that conversation was over.”
She paused in her speech to give him a look saying that he should have known better. If he was being honest, he had known better he’d just been so angry that he hadn’t thought before opening his mouth. A mistake he would not be making again.
“Secondly, if you don’t mind my saying so you can’t just protect her from everything, she’ll never learn that way and I think deep down you know that. Even if you think what she’s doing is a colossal mistake if it doesn’t put her life in danger you’re going to have to let her make those mistakes. Now I understand the impulse to stop her when you see something she might not see straight away. I hear you’re a maker which is kind of like a parent?”
She paused again waiting for him to either confirm or deny her supposition. He nodded his head telling her to continue. This woman may be human but she was wise and he knew he would do well to heed her advice.
“Then you know that for some things the mistakes have to be made for the lesson to be learned. Just telling someone, especially a young person, something won’t make it stick in the mind, it’s the experience and more often than not the hurt that comes with it that’s needed for some things to be remembered.”
“What do you suggest?”
He had not lied when he’d told her he was out of his depth, he hadn’t the slightest idea how to deal with this. With the Sookie in his world she would never mention her former lovers to him to avoid such outbursts as this. He needed to remember that her formers weren’t her formers in this reality so she saw no reason to avoid mentioning them. To her they were just people she’d only just met.
“I suggest you apologize for now. Then when she comes to you and tells you that you were right and that she should have listened to you don’t gloat, and that the words forbid or I told you so never work their way into your future conversations.”
Good advice, words he would be taking to heart.