I sat up and leaned back against my hands as I took in the sights around me. There were people soaking up the rays on the beach, like me, while others surfed and played in the ocean. My life wasn’t so bad, but I couldn’t help feeling like there was more to be had.
I was born and raised in a small town in Louisiana and I couldn’t wait to leave as soon as I was old enough. My parents were killed in a car accident when I was a little girl so my brother and I were raised by our Gran. She was a sweet woman and I loved her very much, but I always had a wild streak in me that she just couldn’t seem to tame. Gran ended up passing away in her sleep not long after we graduated from high school and while I was devastated losing her, I no longer felt like I needed to stick around to help her out around the house so my best friend Amelia, my cohort in mischief, and I took off for New Orleans. That was where I met John Quinn.
My Gran had always said I was a magnet for trouble and I knew he would be trouble from the moment we met. I’m pretty sure that was what attracted me to him in the first place. He was a semi-professional surfer and we met at the Mardi gras parade. Our relationship started out at 100 mph and only got faster from there. I went with him to California, Hawaii, and then here to the Caribbean for him to compete in different surfing competitions.
The problem with relationships that start so fast is that they tend to burn out just as quickly. I caught him going at it with some random beach bunny and just like that we were through. On the pain scale it was barely a sting, but we’d been travelling on his dime so I was stuck here once we’d broken up.
Luckily I met Lafayette and Jesus that same night and we hit it off right away. They were kind enough to give me a job working at their shop and let me live rent free in a small apartment above their garage. They were like family to me now, like my two favorite aunts.
I could tell by where the sun was in the sky that I needed to get to the shop. I stood up and pulled my shorts and tank top over my bikini and walked through the door less than ten minutes later. I’d forgotten that I’d added a few pink streaks in my hair to go along with the blue and purple ones until Lafayette looked up at me and said, “Girl, if you add some orange and green to that head a yours I can wear YOU at the next Gay Pride Parade.”
Jesus walked in from the back room at just that moment and said, “I’ll be damned if you think you’re gonna wear her because you’re already pretty enough without adding to it. I’ll have to fight all the men off with a stick as it is.” I giggled while they made googly eyes at each other and hoped I would find someone that loved me as much as they loved each other.
They left hand in hand to go home for the day while I stayed to work at the shop and I pulled out a book I kept behind the counter to pass the time. After I broke up with Quinn I made a promise to myself that I wasn’t going to fall for ‘trouble’ anymore. Quinn wasn’t the first one, but I was bound and determined to make him the last. If I could find someone that was loving and normal, then maybe I could have a relationship like Lafayette and Jesus. It was certainly worth a shot.
I’d been saving as much money as I could while I’d been working there so I could one day have enough to go back to the States and live on for a while to try and figure out where it was I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. I really wanted to go to New York City. It seemed like the perfect place and was so big and busy I doubted I would ever get bored.
Once my brother Jason was old enough, he’d moved out of Gran’s house and back to our parents’ home and when Gran died she had left her farmhouse to me. It was currently being rented by my childhood friends Tara and JB duRone, but I knew they couldn’t afford much since she’d stopped working when they had their baby so we had a deal that they paid the property taxes and utility bills and JB fixed up whatever he could in the old house. I didn’t make any money off them living there so my only income came from my job. The last time I had talked to Tara she’d said that they’d been saving up to buy their own place, so once they found something they liked and could afford they’d be moving out and I would need to find new renters or else I’d have to sell it. That house had been in the Stackhouse family for 150 years and I really didn’t want to let it go, but I wouldn’t be able to afford to keep it with what I made here.
I settled in reading my trashy romance novel of the week when the sound of the bell on the door jingling made me look up to find the sexiest man to ever walk this planet coming through the door. He had to be close to six and a half feet tall with broad shoulders that tapered to a narrow waist and legs that went on for days. His t-shirt was tight and I could see the outline of his pecs and washboard abs making me have to swallow the drool in my mouth. His blue eyes twinkled with mischief and, dare I say, lust and my trouble magnet alarm was ringing loudly in my head. Yes, this man would be trouble, but I really thought it might be worth it to see how much trouble we could get into.
No Sookie! I chastised myself. You need nice and stable my inner angel voice said. My inner devil voiced her own opinion saying that would be boring and he would be anything but boring. I mentally shook myself and smiled saying, “Hi! Welcome to Lafayette’s. Can I help you?”
He eyed me like I was a big juicy steak and he was a hungry lion setting my off ‘trouble’ alarm even louder as he smiled and said, “I believe you could help me.” I knew he was coming onto me and it was all I could do to not hop over the counter and climb him like a giant monkey bar, but I did make myself a promise so I tried my best to look unaffected and said, “You aren’t the first guy to come in here using that line and you won’t be the last so unless you’re here to rent a boat there’s nothing I can help you with.”
I hoped like hell he would drop it because I felt my willpower leaving me faster than Lindsay Lohan getting her drink on once she was outta rehab. Thankfully he played along and backed off putting on a very sincere face while denying he had any idea of what I could be talking about. He tried to not smile but I saw the corners of his mouth twitch up and I giggled like the awestruck little girl he made me feel like.
I asked for his ID so I could fill out the rental application form and was envious when I saw he was from New York. He seemed unaffected by it, but I guess that was easy to do if you’d lived there for a while. When our skin touched as I gave him back his license I felt a zing where his hand touched mine. It was almost like a static charge, only inside my skin. I looked up at him and I was pretty sure he’d felt it too, but all he said was he thought it was only fair for him to know my name too.
This was where I should have just made up something or refused him outright because my intuition was telling me this man was trouble with a capital T. But it also was telling me that while he might be trouble he was also a good person on the inside. Quinn was too, but he was no Eric Northman. I could always tell the people that had black hearts or dead souls or whatever you wanted to call it…they were evil on the inside no matter how pleasant they seemed on the outside. My Gran said it was my gift. I didn’t know what to call it, but I never questioned it.
I gave in and told him the truth and when he repeated my name back in his sexy baritone voice I felt it in my girly bits. In an attempt to ignore the throbbing he was causing between my thighs I smiled again and said, “That’s me. Now do you know what kind of boat you want?”
I led him down the dock to where the boats were moored and watched him as he moved. While he’d been standing tall in the shop, outside he seemed to hunch forward a bit, but not in a bad posture sort of way. I didn’t know what it was, but even hunched forward you could see his inner confidence in the way his body moved. It made me wonder how well he’d move naked on top of me, underneath me, behind me.
I hadn’t been paying attention to what he’d been saying and thankfully he gestured toward the boat he wanted to rent so I didn’t have to ask him to repeat himself. He followed me back to the shop and I showed him where the drop box was for the key in case he came back before 8 the next morning. He’d have to come back after that to get his deposit back and I had to admit that I was looking forward to seeing him again. My heart just about stopped when, as he was leaving, he tipped his head towards me and said, “Until we meet again Sookie Stackhouse.” I know my heart didn’t stop but I’m pretty sure my bikini bottoms were soaked through.
I had some very naughty dreams that night about Mr. Eric Northman and I woke up extra early to make sure I had enough time to shower and do my hair before I went into work at 8. I rarely wore make-up, but I put on a touch of mascara and my favorite sundress before heading out the door. I guessed my attempt at dressing up for him was obvious to Jesus and Lafayette because as soon as I walked into the shop they both whistled and fanned themselves with Lafayette saying, “Look at you all gussied up. You gotta date later on? You know they’s gotta get our seal of approval before they go trottin’ you out the door.”
I blushed feeling like I’d been caught, but I knew that Lafayette was serious. Both he and Jesus treated me like I was their daughter and while they were both flamboyantly gay they were also big sturdy men that could handle themselves in a fight if they needed to and would put a serious beat down on any guy that hurt me. I loved them all the more because of it.
“No, I don’t have a date. I just woke up early and had more time to get ready, that’s all.” They eyed me clearly not believing my flimsy denial, but let me off with an “Mmhmm..” and went back to whatever it was they were doing. I’d already seen that the boat Eric had rented wasn’t back yet, but by the time it was ten o’clock in the morning I started getting worried. He didn’t seem like the type that would steal a boat, but you never really know someone and I didn’t know him at all.
Lafayette had had a few boats go missing over the years so he’d had a Lojack type tracking device installed in all of his boats that he could track with his computer. I pulled up the one for the boat Eric had rented and saw it was several miles out in the ocean still and it didn’t move for the hour I spent watching its location. We tried to reach him on the radio, but there was no answer and I started getting terrible feeling that something was wrong.
The boat was already reserved for another rental later on that afternoon so Jesus and I took a smaller boat out to where Eric’s boat was while Lafayette manned the shop. A half hour later we were at the boat, but it was empty of any people. I couldn’t remember if Eric had said he’d have other people on the boat with him because I was too busy fantasizing about having sex with him to pay attention and I wanted to kick myself now because of it.
We tied the two boats together and climbed into the larger one. I found his duffel bag down below, but what gave me pause was the giant rifle I found with it. I went back on the deck to tell Jesus what I’d found when he said, “Sookie! Look over there!” My eyes followed where he was pointing and it took a minute before I saw him. At least I assumed it was Eric, but whoever it was, they were floating face down in a wetsuit and not moving.
Tears sprung to my eyes and I felt faint as I held onto the side of the boat to steady myself. Jesus raised the anchor and started up the boat moving us closer to the floating body while towing the smaller boat behind us. He cut the engine once we were alongside him and dropped the anchor before leaning over and grabbing onto an arm. We could see the bullet wound on the right side of his back, but Jesus said, “I don’t think he’s dead because the wound is still pumping out blood.”
I helped him pull the body onto the boat and Jesus removed his mask and the small pack on his back. “I think it’s a rebreather,” he commented as he threw it to the side. That was when we both saw the gun holstered onto his lower back. We looked at each other with wide eyes, but Jesus’ medical training kicked in and he took the knife that was sheathed on Eric’s left thigh and used it to cut off his wetsuit.
We each took a small moment to admire his naked backside before I grabbed a towel from below and covered him up. Jesus rolled him slightly and said the bullet didn’t go all the way through so it was still lodged inside of him. “The temperature of the ocean water must have slowed his heart rate so he didn’t bleed out.” He looked over at me and said, “We need to notify the authorities.”
“NO!” My reaction was immediate and startled us both. I don’t know why, but something inside me was screaming that he couldn’t be turned in. “No Jesus. I mean I know this looks bad and all, but I have a really bad feeling he’ll be in danger if we turn him in. Can’t you help him? Please?” The tears started falling down my face as I pleaded with him.
As soon as I saw his shoulders sag I knew he was going to agree with me and I felt relief flood through my body. His gaze dropped back down to Eric’s back before meeting mine again as he said, “Okay Sookie, but just for now. If he doesn’t have one helluva good reason for all of this, ” he gestured around the boat with his hands, “then I can’t make any promises.”
I leapt over Eric’s body and flung my arms around his neck saying, “Thank you. I’m sure he can explain it all.”
Jesus wrapped his arms loosely around me and patted my back saying, “Don’t thank me yet. If we don’t get that bullet outta him soon it might not make any difference. And Lafayette is gonna be hell on wheels when he hears about this!”
I knew he was right, but I’d deal with Lafayette later. Jesus had me press a towel on top of Eric’s wound while he sped us back to the short, towing the smaller boat behind us. As soon as we got to the dock he ran and pulled his car closer to the dock and then came back with Lafayette trailing along behind him.
“What the hell you talkin’ about?” Lafayette asked Jesus as they got closer to the boat. Jesus stopped, aware there were other people nearby, and whispered in Lafayette’s ear. I watched his eyes go wide and his mouth open in surprise, but when it looked like he was about to disagree, Jesus’ face took on a harder edge and I could see him say ‘Sookie’ while he whispered. When he was through whisper talking they both looked at me simultaneously and if it hadn’t been a life or death situation I would’ve laughed at their identical expressions.
They both got on the boat and I found Eric’s shorts which they pulled up his lifeless body, but not before they each admired his naked ass. I wanted to snap at them feeling strangely protective of that ass, but they were helping me so I wasn’t going to do anything to make them change their mind. The three of us maneuvered a t-shirt over Eric’s head and arms and then Lafayette scooped him up and threw him over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry and I ran down and grabbed Eric’s duffel bag throwing his gun and knife inside, but I hid the rifle inside a storage bench, before heading for the car.
The looks on people’s faces had the three of us trying to laugh it off while saying, “Poor guy can’t hold his liquor and being out on the water didn’t help any.” Their looks of concern changed to amused understanding and no one paid us any more attention.
I got in the backseat and they pulled him in until his head was resting on my lap. His legs were so long they practically had to roll his legs into the fetal position before he would fit. They hopped into the car and we sped towards their house. It wasn’t large or grand, but it was nice and they had a garage that we pulled right into. Once the door was shut they pulled Eric out and brought him into the dining room.
Lafayette made several threats on what would happen if any blood got spilled onto his Persian rug while he ran to get some old sheets to cover everything. Jesus got out his medical bag and washed up before pulling a couple of latex gloves over his hands. He cut Eric’s shirt off his body and inspected the wound a little closer and stuck his finger inside the hole making me wince. Eric’s body didn’t even twitch and if I hadn’t seen the rise and fall of his chest I would’ve thought he was dead. His whole body was pale and I worried that he might not make it.
Jesus dug out some clear tubing and attached a needle on either end before looking up at me and asking, “What blood type are you?”
“O negative.” I immediately put my arm out knowing my blood type was universal and Jesus seemed pleased that I was on board with what he didn’t have to ask me to do. As he inserted the needle into my arm he glanced at the clock and then inserted the other end into Eric’s vein. “It shouldn’t take me too long to get it out because I could feel it with my finger. If you start feeling light headed, tell me and I’ll take the needle out, otherwise I think we should leave it in for maybe thirty minutes tops.”
“Okay.” I didn’t want him to die and I’d replenish the blood after a little while. I just wanted Eric to be okay.
Lafayette reappeared and they spread the sheets out to cover everything. Jesus cleaned Eric’s wound with alcohol, but when he started cutting into his back I turned my head away. I wasn’t particularly squeamish, but I really had no desire to watch.
Lafayette disappeared into the kitchen and came back with some cookies and orange juice for me to keep my blood sugar up and twenty-five minutes later I heard Jesus say, “Done!” I glanced over and saw the bullet lying on the sheet next to Eric’s body and the hole was now stitched up looking much better than it had. Eric’s color had even gotten better and I was relieved thinking he might just pull through.
Jesus removed the needles connecting Eric and I telling me to stay seated for now. They started cleaning up and I grabbed the bullet before they could throw it out and kept it in my hand. I don’t know why I did it, but for some reason I felt the need to hold onto it. Between the two of them, they lifted Eric and I followed behind while they carried him to their guest room on the second floor and laid him out on the bed. It was a queen sized mattress and it was kind of comical seeing his legs dangling over the end.
I gave them each a hug and thanked them before they left to go back to the shop. I went to my apartment and changed into shorts, tucking the washed off bullet into my pocket, and a t-shirt before going back to check on Eric. He was still unconscious, but Jesus said we’d just have to wait and see unless we took him to a hospital. That was out of the question, so I sat next to him on the bed and just stared at him for a while.
He really was the most handsome man I had ever seen and I traced along his jaw line from his ear to his chin while sending up a silent prayer that he would be okay.
I woke up feeling disoriented because one, I didn’t know I’d fallen asleep, and two, I was curled up against someone else. As soon as my brain fully turned on my eyes shot open and I was looking into those beautiful blue eyes I remembered from the day before. I abruptly sat up and practically screamed, “You’re awake!”
He seemed confused, which I guessed he would be seeing as how he woke up in a strange room with and a strange woman curled up next to him. He was concentrating on my face when he asked, “Do I know you?”
My heart kind of fell thinking I wasn’t special enough for him to have remembered me from the day before. I thought we had connected a little, but I guess I was the only that felt it. “I was the one you rented the boat from yesterday. Remember?” I smiled softly at him trying to inject a little levity into the atmosphere, but he brought a hand up and rubbed his eyes before opening them and saying, “No.”
“Oh,” I whispered, “well then you’ll just have to trust me when I say it was me that rented you the boat.” I was about to ask him what happened, but he raised a hand up stopping me from talking and said, “No, I don’t remember you. I don’t remember anything.”