Chapter 8 – I’m not done baking…
SB Electrical – Break Room
Bill was glad to be back at work. It had been a week since his dad’s funeral but sitting at home, alone, wasn’t doing anyone any good. At work he could lose himself for a little while before going back to the empty house. He was enjoying an egg salad sandwich when his Uncle and Grandmother entered the break room and requested his presence in the manager’s office.
Sighing, Bill put down his sandwich and followed them. He paused at the last second and picked up his cup of coffee to take into the meeting with him. He sat in the uncomfortable chair and listened as they took turns telling him about how important he was to the company, how he would always be a Bellefleur in terms of his core purpose at the store and how much they both respected him and admired him for coming back to work and functioning despite his trauma.
Bill saw right through it all. “How much and why?”
“What?” Andy and Caroline gasped at the same time.
“Before Daddy died and I became a millionaire, you two treated me like something you scraped off your shoe. How much do you want and why do you want it?”
Caroline gaped at her Great-Grandson and felt her heart palpitate in her chest. Not through shock at his words but through fear that she had been found out and confronted. Andy puffed out his chest, he had a healthy respect for men who saw through bullshit and cut to the chase.
“If we don’t have $200,000 in the joint account by Halloween, we’ll lose the store. SB Electrical will just be Stackhouse Electrical and we’ll have nothing. The family business will be gone.”
Bill nodded and excused himself, coming back a few minutes later with his checkbook.
“Two hundred thousand.” He tore the check out of the book and held it out to his Great-Grandmother, but pulled it back out of her grasp before she could snatch it.”But I get Andy’s position. When you leave this mortal coil, Mee-Maw, I want to be the one to run my investment.”
“Done!” Caroline leaned forward a little more and grabbed the check before Andy could protest.
Bill exited the Manager’s office, smiling internally that he’d had the presence of mind to make a deal, and was almost knocked over by Eric rushing toward the break room.
“What’s the rush, Eric? Scared someone will spike your corn tortilla with wonderbread?”
Eric stopped to scowl at Bill before turning back and carrying on. He heard the door to the shop floor squeak as it swung open and closed and sighed in relief that Bill wasn’t going to follow him. He entered the break room and glared at Sookie as she poured herself a coffee.
“You’re avoiding me.”
Sookie closed her eyes and sagged. “I’m not avoiding you, Eric; just ten minutes ago we were chatting at the desk.”
“With Pam and Sam. You’re avoiding being alone with me.” He clenched his fists and willed her to look at him. “You regret kissing me.”
She bristled that he’d made it a statement, as if he was so sure that he was right. “If I didn’t before, then I do now!”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means you’re being an ass.” Sookie slammed her cup on the table and yelped as the hot liquid splashed over her hand. “When Pam asked us to consider you for a job, I was sceptical due to your reputation. But I’ve realised that’s all it was – a reputation. You’ve proven yourself to be a nice guy and a good salesman over your time here. Don’t spoil it.”
“Don’t spoil it by doing what, being attracted to you? Sorry, sweet cheeks, you’re a little late with that warning.” Eric stalked to the fridge and took out his lunch before slamming it back closed, the noise and violence of the act made Sookie wince.
“Just because you want to have sex with me, doesn’t mean we should!” Her hands automatically parked on her hips as the confrontation escalated.
Eric unscrewed the lid of his drink and gulped a mouthful down before facing Sookie. “And just because you don’t want to admit that that kiss meant something, doesn’t mean it didn’t!”
Terry entered the break room to find Sookie and Eric both leaning at either side of the table. Their heads snapped around at the interruption and Terry held his hands up defensively.
“Sorry! I’ll just … uh … go to Vic’s for lunch.”
Before the door was even closed properly, Sookie was building up another head of steam. She walked around the table and poked her finger into Eric’s chest.
“Look! See what you’ve done with all your nonsense!”
“My nonsense? Maybe if you’d act like a grown-ass woman and talk to me, instead of running away like a teenager every time I asked to have a word in private – this wouldn’t have happened!”
“Maybe if you acted like a man instead of a whiny, needy geek who wanted reassurance – I would have talked to you!”
“Men need reassurance all the time, Sookie – you’re not being logical!”
“Oh well listen to you Mr. Logic! Tell me this, Spock, you can probably get any woman you want in the sack – why is it so important that I reassure you?”
“Because it’s not all about sex!”
“You don’t want to have sex with me? What, am I too intelligent?”
“No – I do want to have sex with you because you’re so intelligent.” Eric ran his fingers through his hair in frustration, pulling most of it out of the ponytail at the base of his skull. “I’ve been working next to you for weeks, I’ve seen how much you care, how much you know, how hard you try to help everyone – I like spending time with you, Sookie. I like you.”
“Yeah? Well I like … you too!” Although her sentence started with the same confrontational tone, it ended on a more subdued note as she realised that she just admitted her feelings without truly thinking about what she was saying.
He’s like a goddamn Polymorph, sucking the emotions out of me.
Eric chuckled and shook his head. “Well, I’m glad we got that cleared up. I like you; you like me. I’ll pick you up at eight.”
“Wait, what? What about eight?”
“Eight o’clock, tonight, for our date.”
Sookie blinked as Eric grinned at her and took his lunch outside to eat in the late autumn sunshine. She watched as he walked away, not without admiring the view, and slumped into one of the chairs with her coffee in hand.
See you at eight Mr. High Handed.
SB Electrical – Geek Clique help desk
Bill thought that, if there was anyone up there, they must have been smiling on him. Because he saw her before she saw him. He nudged Pam and pointed to the woman.
“That is Lorena. I’m sure Sookie told you all about her. Whatever she wants – don’t give it to her. Radio me when she’s gone.”
Pam blinked and nodded slightly before watching Bill scurry back to the stock holding area. When she turned back around Lorena was at the desk, drumming her fingernails against the polished surface and glaring at Pam.
“Can I help you?” Pam asked genially, a smile plastered on her face despite wanting to slap Lorena silly.
“I want to speak to Bill.” Lorena looked down her nose at Pam, which annoyed Pam greatly because it was literal as well as figurative. Pam hated when tall people used their height against her.
“He’s not here. Do you have a computer issue?”
“Uh … yes! Yes I do. My computer needs someone to come and look at it, there’s an error message.”
“What does the error message say?”
“I … I don’t remember. Something about … uh … my drive being corrupt.”
Pam raised an eyebrow. She knew plenty about this chick’s motives, she used people to get what she wanted and now Bill was a millionaire she suddenly shows up with a broken computer and no solid information about what’s wrong with it.
“Yeah, I’ve seen that before. You need a 1.21 gigawatt flux capacitor. We don’t sell them here; you’ll need to go to Buy Everything in Shreveport for that.”
“Oh … okay.” Lorena frowned and wandered away from the desk.
Pam smirked and folded her arms. If Lorena was in the store looking for Bill, then she didn’t get what she wanted. If she really did have a broken computer, she’d go to Buy Everything and make a fool of herself. Either way was win-win in Pam’s eyes.
Hummingbird Road, Bon Temps
As if Sookie’s evening hadn’t been stressful enough so far, the last thing she needed was for a crazy asshole in a beat-up Dodge to swerve across lanes into Bill’s driveway right in front of Eric’s Corvette. She braced her hands against the dash as he stomped on the breaks, leaving both of them shaking slightly and staring at the cloud of dust that the Dodge had left behind.
“That was close!” Eric panted a little and licked his lips. “It was a personalised number plate – LR3NA. Do you think it was a local?”
Sookie narrowed her eyes at the settling dust. “Oh she’s local alright, but I’d heard she moved up to the North-west. I just hope she’s in as much of a hurry to leave because Bill told her to leave him alone. There can’t be any doubt what it is Lorena’s after this time.”
“Oh! Pam told me she came into the store today looking for Bill.”
Sookie nodded before closing her eyes and shaking her head slightly. When she opened her eyes again she looked at Eric with a bright smile.
“So where are you taking me?”
“I happen to know a place you’ll love, but we need to get a move on or we’ll be late.”
The smile was soon replaced by gritted teeth as Sookie held on to both sides of her seat. Eric drove, oblivious to her terror as he weaved through traffic at break-neck speed.
The Compton Mansion – Bon Temps
Bill looked up from his paperwork as the doorbell rang. He smiled; briefly fantasising that Sookie must have heard about Lorena coming into the store and was visiting to stake her claim. Shaking himself out of the fantasy, he opened the door to find Lorena.
“What do you want?” He stepped in front of her as she tried to pass him to enter the house.
“Oh Billy-bear, I wanted to come and see you to check on how you’re holding up.” Her hand squeezed at his bicep. “Have you been working out? You never used to be this muscular!”
“It’s called maturing from a boy into a man Lorena. You could have checked on me any time in the last two weeks – why now?”
“I’ve been in Seattle the last six months, Bill. As soon as I found out what happened I tried to get back but my boss wouldn’t let me leave until I finished a project.”
“Oh. Well, you’ve travelled all this way – I guess you should come in.”
As the time passed, Bill started to regret inviting her inside. She was just as vapid and self-absorbed as she had been in high school but it was company. Listening to her drone on about how she worked up the ranks as a telemarketer was better than listening to the ticking clock.
“You must be so lonely here all by yourself, Billy-bear.”
Bill was about to protest, on the cusp of telling her that he had friends who had been dropping by regularly. But then her hand stroked his thigh.
“Yes, I’ve been quite lonely. It’s a big house to live in on your own.”
Lorena nodded, pouting slightly and looking up at Bill with hooded eyes. “Would you like some company tonight?”
“That would be nice, Lorena, really nice.”
Marvellous DC’s Restaurant, Alexandria
Sookie looked around in awe as Spiderman placed plates on the table next to theirs and Wonder-Woman took an order not far away. The walls of the restaurant were covered with framed covers of some of the rarest comic books and the menu was themed to match.
“Can I take your order?”
She jumped as the Green Goblin seemed to spring up from nowhere but soon recovered. “I’ll have the Superman salad to start, followed by the Jubilee steak.”
“Excellent choice, and for you sir?”
“I’ll have the same but with red Kryptonite olives in the salad rather than green.”
The Green Goblin nodded and swept away from the table. Sookie leaned in and smiled at Eric. “This place is a trip! Where did you find out about it?”
“I heard about it years ago when it first opened and always wanted to see what it was like. None of the women I’ve ever taken to dinner would really appreciate it, but I knew you would.”
“It’s awesome! But I’m wondering at your choice of Kryptonite … is it early comic book red Kryptonite that causes you to grow a third eye or Smallville red Kryptonite that makes you take off your clothes and dance like no-one’s watching?”
“Maybe it’ll give me a different power like … flight or super speed … or to become irresistible to pretty, blonde geniuses.”
Sookie chewed on her bottom lip and thought that if he knew her well enough to take her to a comic-book themed restaurant on their first date, he was already striding past ‘irresistible’ and heading straight for ‘panties go poof!’
The Stackhouse Homestead – Bon Temps
Adele was awoken by giggling. She sighed and rolled over to look at her clock. The fact that it was before midnight surprised her greatly. She hadn’t expected Sookie home from her date this early. In fact, she hadn’t expected Sookie home at all – she was anticipating her Granddaughter doing the walk of shame at breakfast time the next day.
Either Sookie somehow thinks its okay to be canoodling under my roof or maybe the date didn’t end like they wanted it to.
On the porch, Sookie’s eyes flicked to her Gran’s bedroom window. Eric was standing in front of her, his hands in his pockets and a wide smile on his face. Her skin was flushed pink from laughter and her eyes twinkled with joy – Eric thought she’d never looked as beautiful as she did in that moment. Sookie had enjoyed herself immensely; the bar on what she considered to be a good date had been raised considerably.
“I had a great time tonight, Eric. Thank you.”
“Me too, we should go out again. I haven’t had that much fun in … a long time.”
Sookie raised an eyebrow at that. “You’ve clearly been hanging out with the wrong women!”
Eric thought about that for a second before replying. “Yes. I have.”
Before Sookie could say anything more, Eric swooped in and kissed her. It was nothing like the rushed, awkward kiss that they shared before and both of them were taken by surprise at its intensity. When they pulled apart to breathe, Sookie noticed a curtain twitch out of the corner of her eye. Adele stepped away from the window and climbed back into bed.
That’s not the end of a date, that’s the beginning of a romance!
The old woman smiled and drifted back to sleep easily.