Tidying up the living room for the countless time that day – night – whatever, I had to question my own sanity.
Maybe I really did have a death wish.
It was the only conclusion I cared to entertain because the thought I would be entertaining a vampire in the very near future – one who had already given me an idea of just how deadly he could be – instead was because of the sheer fact I was lonely was…
More so than I was willing to admit to being.
Eric had stayed with me, talking for a long while the night before, and seemed genuinely curious about my curse. And as much as it rankled me to talk about it at all, I found myself appeased, simply because I was just as curious about him.
Especially when he’d told me he was over a thousand years old.
Gran would have preferred talking to him over Mutton Chops any day.
And twice on Sunday.
He’d only left when dawn was nearly on my doorstep and I’d been surprised to find that I wasn’t ready for him to go – not that I wanted him to stay, all things considered.
But it had been so long since I’d enjoyed another’s company. I’d missed just being in the presence of someone else more than I’d known until he was on the verge of leaving me.
So I was more than happy to agree when he’d asked if he could visit me again the following night.
Which was tonight.
I hadn’t invited him inside the night before – instead, carrying on our conversation on the old porch swing – and I wasn’t sure I would even be inviting him in tonight either, but I wanted to be prepared.
Which meant I’d spent the day cleaning my house like a crazy person. While I’d always been tidy, that day I’d been cleaning like Jesus Christ himself would be coming in for an inspection.
Given my track record, it would likely be my only opportunity to meet him, if he had.
But it was also the reason why I’d ventured out, just after Eric had left, and ran to the 24-hour Wal-Mart over in Monroe to pick up some True Blood for him. I normally only went out shopping in the dead of night, when other normal people were more likely to be sleeping. But it had been early enough – late enough – that I didn’t see another soul in the store who wasn’t wearing a blue smock.
And it never occurred to me until then that I’d never run into a vampire on any of my previous late night shopping expeditions.
I could only guess they didn’t like to shop at Wal-Mart.
I’d have to ask Eric.
As if he could read minds, a familiar sharp rap on my front door pulled me from my thoughts in the next moment and pulled my feet towards the sound. The sun had set a couple of hours earlier, but we hadn’t discussed an agreed upon time for him to come calling.
It wasn’t like it mattered though.
I didn’t have anything else going on.
And even though I expected it would be Eric on the other side of the door, I found myself grinning and drawling out in a singsong voice, “Whoo iiissss iiiit?”
I’d seen hints of his sense of humor the night before – when he wasn’t threatening my life, that is – and I’d hoped my little dose of ridiculousness would help to set the tone for tonight.
Lord knows I wasn’t looking for a repeat of our initial face to face greeting.
Not missing a beat, he replied in a nasally tone, “Hello Miss. I’m a campaign volunteer and I was wondering if you would allow me to put a ‘Re-Elect Eric Northman for Sheriff’ sign on your front lawn.”
Pulling the door open, I laughed at his cheesy smile and asked, “Can squirrels vote? Because I’m pretty sure they’re the only ones who would see it.”
“Of course they can,” he grinned and then waggled his eyebrows at me when he asked, “Who wouldn’t love my nuts?”
Cheese and rice…
I’d forgotten how good looking he was.
Well, maybe not forgotten, but forced myself to not think about it was a mouthful.
It was still tempting me with more than just the innuendo that came out of it, so I forced myself to remember just how well that wouldn’t work out for us – or him, at the very least – and snickered, “So then I take it you’ve ordered yourself a Slap Chop off of one of those late night infomercials?”
Leaning against the doorframe, he looked like a life sized magazine cover for GQ, and smiled, “I’m more of a Billy Mays fan. Besides, I have more practical uses for OxiClean.”
I would also bet more than just squirrels loved his nuts, but – sadly – I would never get to experience them for myself.
A nut allergy, if you will.
So I slap chopped my dirty thoughts away and gave my brain a heaping dose of OxiClean to take care of the rest, by reminding myself I was only looking for a friendship with him. The risk was too great for anything more.
More so, for him.
But a friendship was better than nothing.
And if we were going to be friends, friends don’t let friends stand on the front porch all night long – even if one, or both, of us were immortal – so I decided I would be going all in.
By inviting him all the way into my house.
Taking a step back, I gestured to the foyer and said, “Won’t you please come in?”
His eyebrow quirked up, which was sexier than should be legal, but considering who he was I figured for someone like him, legality was in the eye of the beholder.
We had a lot in common on that front.
But he stepped inside and followed me into the living room where he sat down on the couch and looked around, before saying, “This isn’t anything like I imagined.”
Still standing, I looked around the room myself and wondered out loud, “What did you imagine? A bubbling cauldron full of my latest poisonous potions? Or maybe my sickles displayed like wall art?”
“If it was closer to Halloween,” his sexy eyebrow replied.
Maybe I could tape it down?
I was country enough that when in doubt – duct it.
Thankfully, he wasn’t telepathic and shrugged, “I just pictured more of a country décor. Flowered couches. Mismatched tables.” And the corners of his lips were in need of some duct tape too, when he ended with, “Doilies.”
“Not even if I lived to be as old as you,” I deadpanned.
Granted, what he’d described had been my childhood home to a tee. But once I’d started earning a good paycheck, I’d slowly redecorated the house more to suit my tastes.
The refinished hardwood floors gleamed now and my oversized dark blue microfiber couch was my favorite napping spot. The matching chair and ottoman in the corner by the fireplace was the perfect spot to chase away the winter chill with a good book. And since my TV was my only window into the rest of the world, I made sure I had a good view of it.
A sixty inch flat screen view of it.
And I didn’t see anything wrong with that since I was the only one who had to look at it.
But since I spent so much time at home – like most of the time – I didn’t want to constantly be surrounded by the memories of what was. I probably would have sold the farmhouse had it not been for the seclusion it offered.
I couldn’t imagine having to deal with a bunch of nosey neighbors.
Shaking visions of being chased down a cul-de-sac by a mob of angry soccer moms wielding barbecue forks, I tried to remember my manners and asked, “Would you care for some refreshments? I have a variety of True Blood. I wasn’t sure what, uh…flavor you would prefer.”
Again, he looked amused, but he only shook his head and said, “Thank you, but I’ve already been…refreshed.”
I tried – and failed – to remember the last time I had company that didn’t involve lights and sirens, so I was at a loss as to what to do now. Our conversation had flowed so easily the night before, but now I felt stuck.
Do I sit next to him on the couch?
Do I sit across the room from him in the chair?
That would involve turning it away from the fireplace and towards the couch. So when I nixed the idea of sitting on the floor and finally decided the ottoman was my best bet, Eric seemed to have other ideas and patted the cushion beside him saying, “Sit.”
And then his eyebrow said, “I won’t bite.”
It was enough to break whatever tension I was feeling because I laughed and sat on the other end of the couch saying, “Good. I like this couch and I’m all out of OxiClean.”
And it was a good thing my couch was so big because he managed to take up the majority of it. One arm was spread out along the back and the other rested on his right leg, crossed over the other, with his hand on his knee.
He looked like a seated giant number four.
Dressed as he was the night before in a simple t-shirt and jeans, I thought I’d get the conversational ball rolling by smiling at him as I asked, “So I’m guessing vampire sheriffs aren’t required to wear a uniform?”
“No,” he smiled. “But I’d be happy to wear one for you. We could even do a quid pro quo. I can dress up like a cop for you and you can dress up like a naughty school girl for me.”
“Already screaming my name?” he chuckled. “I’m glad you like the idea as much as I do.”
I supposed that was what I got for trying to have good intentions about wanting a friendship.
Taking a deep breath – and ignoring his chatty eyebrow – I looked him in the eye and said seriously, “You know nothing like that could ever happen.”
“Sure it could,” he grinned. “I can have both outfits ready by tomorrow night.”
But his grin slowly disappeared when I asked, “Are you trying to be mean?” And seeing his confused expression, I added, “Who are you trying to tease? You or me? Because while I’ve heard the expression that sex is to die for, in my case, I don’t think either one of us would want to experience that quite so literally.”
His eyes narrowed, while he mumbled something that suspiciously sounded like, “Speak for yourself,” but his words were clearer when he asked, “So I take it that you are…innocent?”
“That is all you got out of my explanation?” I asked – or maybe shrieked – as I stood up.
I hadn’t realized just how high my hopes had been that maybe we could be friends. But if all he was looking for was a fuck on the dangerous side, he was barking up the wrong tree.
I’d realized early on that I would never have any kind of intimate relationship with anything that didn’t require batteries.
The curse of my curse.
So to have him throw it in my face – knowingly or not – on a regular basis wasn’t something I was willing to endure.
So I angrily wiped away the tears I could feel falling down my face and said, “I guess we’re looking for two entirely different things here. I wanted a friend and you want a fuck. So, thanks for stopping by, but I think it would be best if you leave now.”
I refused to look at him. Refused to see whatever expression he was wearing.
Pity. Anger. Disappointment.
I was feeling enough of my own to not want to add his to the mix.
I was thisclose to rescinding his invitation outright when suddenly he was thisclose to me. Stumbling backwards on instinct, he reached out and caught me before I could fall. But when I looked up at him, I saw something else on his face that was entirely unexpected.
But it was close enough to pity that I wrenched my arm free and I was about to tell him where he could stick both his dick and his sorry expression, when he said, “Friends forgive friends for being an ass.”
I didn’t want to talk about asses either.
Not when his was so spectacular.
So I channeled my inner prepubescent teen and huffed, “I wouldn’t know.”
The last friend I had was Tara.
And the reason why we weren’t friends any longer should’ve told me why this was such a bad idea.
But we hadn’t gotten into any specifics the night before. The last thing I wanted to do was to list all of the people who had once been in my life and then explain why they weren’t anymore.
We weren’t friends enough for me to open up like that with him.
“Neither would I,” he replied. And since I was still glaring at him, I could see it when his eyes softened as he added, “But I would like to find out.”
It would seem my inner prepubescent teen was still holding on because I only harrumphed at him, with my arms crossed over my chest.
But undeterred, he just smiled and asked, “Not enough?”
And then falling to his knees in front of me, he held his clasped hands up in the air and dramatically said, “Angelic Sookie, vision of love and beauty, I am prostrate that my undeniable attraction to your smooth and voluptuous body has offended your sensibilities.”
He looked absolutely ridiculous and he was so ridiculously tall that even on his knees, we were still nearly at eye level.
But it was enough to make me have to fight against the smile trying to form on my face as I huffed out, “Better.”
And then I smacked him when his eyebrow added, “But if you change your mind, there are other ways we can enjoy one another’s bodies.”
I guess it was better than nothing.
A giant flirt for a friend, I mean.
Because I would be nuts to consider anything else.