Chapter Twenty-Eight: Confessions
Coffee with Kristin went great. She listened with fascination while I told her about my trip to England over the summer. She begged and pleaded for me to come to softball practice with her on Saturday until I finally caved, and we drank way too much coffee. Kristin was practically vibrating in her seat while Eric drove her back to campus.
That’s why I’m standing in a pair of track pants, one of Jason’s old high school football shirts, and my beat-up tennies when I could be gettin’ busy with my Bonded back in Bon Temps.
Admittedly, I am havin’ a lot of fun. Kristin’s on a very good team, and I can feel my competitive nature rearin’ her ugly head. When they put me up to bat, I bounce on the balls of my feet, and give a few practice swings on my way to the plate. The tiny woman on second base relaxes her posture and places her hands on her hips like she’s sizin’ me up. After she’s done checkin’ me over, I see her buckle in and take me seriously. Good.
“Got this, Stackhouse?” David, the team’s catcher asks.
“Bring it,” I laugh, pullin’ into my swinging stance.
David chortles, pulls his mask down, and crouches in preparation for the pitch. It’s way outside, so I ignore it. Mark throws another pitch, and this time, it’s right in my zone. I swing, crush it, and don’t even watch to see where it sails until I hear ‘WHOA!’ from all around me. I stop, mid-run, to watch the softball rocket past the fence, barely miss a car, and then bounce to the end of the parking lot. Oh no! I forgot about vampire blood!
I might have also forgotten, despite Eric’s claims, that I am not fit enough to keep up with him. I realize that he is, indeed, a vampire and no regular human could keep up with him. I am, however, in much better shape than he gives me credit.
“Holy shit, Stackhouse!” Mark throws down his glove, then he and David are running to where I’ve frozen between home plate and first. “You sure you just want to be a sub?! Kristin said you haven’t played in forever, and your first hit went outta the park!”
“It must have caught the wind or something. There’s no way that was all me!” I protest nervously. “Even though I haven’t played baseball in awhile, my brother and I grew up on sports, and I was just real nervous, so maybe it had a little extra oomph than I usually have… But it had to have caught a breeze!” I’m babbling worriedly as more of the team continues to gawk at me.
This isn’t what I wanted… I just wanted to play and have fun! I think sadly.
“Why don’t we try another pitch?” Mark suggests after a moment.
I nod eagerly and head back to the plate. This time when I set up my swing, I relax my shoulders to take some muscle out of my hit. I don’t want to bunt, or they might think I’m intentionally trying to hold back. The bat makes contact and we all watch as the ball flies down centerfield and clips the fence, yet still makes it out.
Crap! Even with no muscle, I could still hit it outta the park, I think in dismay. Mixed with the fact that I get distracted by competition, and I can’t guarantee I’ll stay relaxed enough not to put any strength behind it. Long and short of it? I can’t play on a human team.
“Aw, man! You can’t just be a sub! You gotta be full-time,” David is crowin’ at me, and I feel my heart sink when Kristin’s thoughts drift into my head.
‘She already has a man and now David’s all over her!’ she thinks sadly, and my heart aches.
“Y’know, David, could you hold that thought? My phone’s ringin’,” I tell him, quickly whipping out my phone to speed dial Eric.
“Sookie, what is it?” Eric sounds surprised to be hearing from me.
“Darlin’, I know it’s not quite dusk yet, but could you come to the field and do some glamourin’?”
“We forgot I get a little more power ’cause of the blood swappin’. I’m hittin’ home runs all the way to the parkin’ lot,” I whisper.
Eric pauses a moment, “Sookie, you have not had my blood in over two weeks.”
“Heightened strength like that is only present for two or three days after ingestion,” he explains, soundin’ all amused and from our Bond, I can feel he is.
“Then…those home runs were all me?” I ask in disbelief.
“Yes, they were, my beautiful powerhouse,” He’s laughin’ now.
“Holy crap!” I’m completely shocked, “And you keep sayin’ I need to work out!”
“To keep up with a vampire, Dear One,” he reminds me teasingly. “So, I suppose you will not need me on the field?”
“I guess not!” I’m laughin’ now. Suddenly, I remember Kristin’s disappointed musings and a plan forms in my head. “Well, I better get back to practice!”
Hangin’ up the phone, I pull my engagement ring from under my shirt, letting it hang on top. I walk back to David and apologize, “Sorry about that.”
“No problem,” he shrugs, and I purposely play with my engagement ring. “Wow, that’s quite the rock, huh?” He sounds nervous, maybe a little disappointed.
I fake looking at my necklace and then laugh as if I’m embarrassed, “Oh… Yeah, I can’t wear my glove over it. I guess my finger misses it…”
He nods slowly, takin’ in what I said, and then his face splits into a big grin, “So? What do ya say? Full-time player?”
I shake my head, “I wouldn’t want to steal someone’s spot. Plus, I really don’t want to sacrifice all my weekends, being away from my fiancé. I think I’ll stick to subbing.”
His disappointment is evident this time, “Man, we could’ve used someone like you… Well, after practice, you wanna grab a beer?”
“I’m only eighteen,” I tell him.
“They won’t card you at our bar if you’re with the team,” David assures me.
“I have a party tonight,” I answer, trying again to dismiss his attempt.
“Raincheck then,” He’s grinnin’ all big, and I can tell from his mind that he’s not gonna back off. Crap.
Now I need to figure out how to salvage my relationship with Kristin!
Walking over to my friend, I still have no idea what to do. I can’t think of any way for her not to be angry with me over this and I’m more than a little upset myself. It’s not like I wanted David’s attention!
Before I can figure out what to do, Kristin gathers her stuff, and stomps off to the parking lot. I grab up my own bag and follow her gloomily. We stand in silence while we wait for Jason to pick us up and finally, I break the icy mood with a nervous, “Did I do something wrong? You seem mad at me.”
She sighs, “No… David was paying you a lot of attention.”
“I’m sorry,” I whisper.
Kristin sighs again and looks at her feet, “I really like him and I thought he wasn’t responding to me because he had a girlfriend, or maybe he was too shy. Then he was talking to you all through practice, and I noticed you flashed your engagement ring… He still invited you out to the bar, even though he knows you’re underage. He never invites me.”
“I’m sorry, Kristin,” I offer sincerely.
“Is there something wrong with me?” she asks almost desperately. “You have a freakin’ engagement ring that should scare the crap outta any guy who sees it, but they all still flock after you!”
I answer her with an amused smile, “That’s why they flock. It’s not because of me, it’s because I’m eighteen, and they all want to see if they can make me cheat. It’s a game, Kristin. I’m not all that special. I’m just a challenge to their egos because they can’t have me, and honestly? Any guy who openly tries to get with an engaged or married woman isn’t worth your time. A decent guy would see a wedding or engagement ring and turn right around.”
Kristin smiles and nods in agreement, “You’re right. David’s just hot! That doesn’t mean he’s good enough for me!”
Still grinning, I agree, “You’re absolutely right!”
So, my Sookie is hitting them out of the park? I laugh while I set down my phone. I would have loved to have seen her face when she made that home run. Hell, I would have loved to have seen the humans’ faces as well!
Glancing at the clock, I decide to start preparing for the party we are attending. Sookie told me to be on guard because Sin, as she calls the Kappa President, will more than likely make her move on me tonight.
I laugh at the very idea and I am almost tempted to publicly humiliate the girl. However, I know Sookie enjoys the company of a few of the Kappas, and I do not wish to have her ostracized by the entire sorority. Although, I have my fears that it still may happen, regardless of shaming the aspiring coquette. Once I deny her advances, ‘Sin’ might begin snubbing my Bonded out of spite, very unbecoming a Sorority President.
Going to our closet, I take out one of my suits and a tie. I shower, dry my hair, and dress. Looking myself over in the mirror, I remember that my hair was far shorter the last time the Kappas saw me. Fortunately, my hair had been tied back at the time, so maybe it will go unnoticed.
After I am finished preparing, I glance at my watch and see it is time to pick up Sookie from Kristin’s dorm. My Bonded left her clothes and make-up in her friend’s room, so Jason would not have to drive back and forth to drop off the girls.
Grabbing my car keys, I head out and enjoy the sensation of Sookie’s growing anticipation. It is always reaffirming to feel her need for me, to know I am not the only one who pines for my other half during the day.
I arrive at the dorm and see Sookie standing in the doorway, waiting for me with Kristin. They hug briefly and Sookie apologizes to her friend for being unable to attend. I am just grateful the sorority will not have a ceremony during the party and that the actual affair is for Kappa members only. The party is merely a celebration of the sisterhood, and only a select group of outsiders are invited to join the festivities.
“Hello, Dear One,” I say, climbing out of the car to open her door for her. I would have walked her from the door, but she was already walking toward the curb as I pulled up.
“Hey, Darlin’. How was your afternoon without me?” she pouts playfully.
“Lonely,” I tell her, smirking. “Our bed is cold without you in it.”
“I suppose it is,” she teases right back. “What did you do all afternoon?”
“Researched a potential investment,” I shrug. “I do not believe I will take a chance on it. The venue seems to be a dying market, but I will ask Pam her opinion.”
“What is it?” she asks curiously.
“Downloadable music,” I answer, delighted by her interest, “although, the laws are becoming very restrictive.”
She nods slowly, “I don’t know, Limewire is huge now that Napster’s gone.”
“Also, illegal,” I point out. “Some companies are attempting to buy rights to artists and songs and sell them legally, but I do not know how lucrative it will be. People may continue to successfully skirt the restrictions. The Internet is already a deep labyrinth to navigate. Who knows how long people may trade music for free without being discovered?”
“What companies are trying to start online sales?” she asks me, now intrigued.
“I know Apple is a frontrunner,” I confess. “With their market in iPods booming, I believe they will make a successful run. Still, I am uncertain if it will be a fad or a long-term success.”
She becomes thoughtful, but eventually shrugs, “I’m an English major. I don’t know what to tell you. Although, I can say if there was a legal way to get the one song off a CD I like, I’d jump right at it. If I just had to pay fifty cents or a buck for one song versus having to spend ten to fifteen dollars on a CD, I’d love that.”
“Dear One, I would buy you all the CDs you could handle, even if you only wanted one song from each. Nevertheless, not everyone can buy one hundred CDs on a whim. You make a fair point.”
“Why, thank you,” she laughs as I pull up in front of Kappa house. I step out of the car and open her door for her, offering my arm. “Always such a gentleman.”
“Only for you,” I tell her while we walk up to the party.
“Yay! Sookie, you made it!” Leslie grins at my Bonded, her blonde hair and perfectly straight teeth shine against her black dress. “Oh, and you have Eric with you… Wow, was your hair that long last month?” she asks in surprise.
“Yes,” I reply shortly. Damn.
“Huh, well, I guess when you’re watching a guy being held up by his throat, it’s easy to forget the little details,” she laughs.
“I was holding him by his shirt, actually,” I remind her.
“Throat? Shirt? What’s the difference when you’re telling a good story?” she teases.
“Assault charges,” I offer, and she laughs as though I am not entirely serious. I will be so happy when Sookie finishes college and I no longer will need to attend these things.
“Come on, Sookie! Piper’s waiting for you in the kitchen!” she says, grabbing Sookie by the arm and pulling her toward the back of the house. I sigh and follow less enthusiastically behind them.
I stand and lean against the kitchen cabinets while the women talk, and Piper looks at me with raised eyebrows.
“Um, we’re kinda having some girl talk,” Piper tells me apologetically. “I promise she won’t get backhanded in your absence!” The girl accurately assesses my primary concern.
Sookie looks at me with big, guileless eyes, silently telling me she is sorry for once again being out of my reach today. I offer her a reassuring smile, lean in, and give her a brief kiss before heading back to the living room. It is there I see the second reason I have for staying near Sookie.
Cynthia walks toward me and she has enhanced the features of her Asian heritage in her clothing and cosmetic choices, no doubt to try to entice men with promises of an exotic sample. Too bad for her; I have had more than a mere sample from the continent and she could never ignite my lust with her physiognomy.
Pam, on the other hand, has what she affectionately refers to as ‘Yellow Plague.’
“Hey there, Eric,” Cynthia greets me, and I note that her normally thin lips seem much fuller than they were last month. I find myself studying her mouth, trying to determine if this is an illusion from cosmetics, or if the girl actually injected botulism into her face. I see her eyes glimmer while I continue observing her mouth, and she puckers them slightly. Botulism it is, I realize.
“You know, Botox will make your lips sag when it loses effectiveness,” I tell her conversationally.
The woman blinks rapidly at me and I know that she is taken aback, not only by my very unmannerly remark, but because I know that her lips have been altered.
Cynthia recovers quickly and her lips tilt slightly in a smirk, “I can afford to keep them full.”
Persistent, I tell myself, a trait I find enticing in some, annoying in most. She falls into the latter category. When she reaches to touch my arm, I easily pull away.
“I would prefer it very much if you did not put your hands on me,” I tell her.
“Another woman can’t even touch your arm? Wow, Sookie’s got you on a short leash,” Cynthia taunts, “yet she can go around hugging on all the football players?”
“I do not desire your touch,” I tell her coldly, disliking the implications she is making about Sookie’s familial embraces of Jason’s teammates.
“Most men do,” she purrs, still not giving up.
“And I am sure you are very accommodating,” I snap. She blinks her rapid, Morse code again and I realize it is her way of not losing her temper.
“Maybe, but I could do things with your body that a little girl like Sookie would never dream of,” Cynthia sounds more combative than seductive now. I have finally broken from persistence to saving face. Thank the Gods!
“A woman is only handicapped in bed by a lack of openness or enthusiasm. Sookie has no handicap,” I tell Cynthia smugly and rather than wait for her next attempt to either seduce me or salvage her pride, I head back to the kitchen.
Sookie takes one look at my expression and groans.
“Do you want to go?” she asks me.
I shake my head and tell her, “No, we can stay. I think she has finally gotten the message.”
Leslie and Piper are biting their lips anxiously. Sookie flinches, but covers it by brushing her hair from her face.
“Eric, we should go,” Sookie whispers, taking my hand in hers.
“What is wrong?” I ask.
She looks at Leslie and Piper guiltily, “Excuse us,” she mumbles and pulls me out of the kitchen. When we have a private corner, she whispers hurriedly, “Cynthia’s pissed. I don’t want her to see me talkin’ to any of the Kappas and go off on them.”
“I could very easily fix all of this, Sookie,” I remind her.
Sookie shakes her head, “No. I don’t want you to use glamour. This is the crappy part of bein’ ‘normal’.”
“But we are not normal, and you like those two girls,” I insist.
“I do,” She nods slowly. “Only…”
“Only?” I frown as her face becomes enlightened. There is a dawning of realization in her eyes and she smiles up at me. “What?”
“I don’t want to leave!” she says suddenly, turns on her heel, and runs off, back to the crowded living room. All I can do is tilt my head and slowly follow her.
“Hey, Cynthia,” I greet merrily. She looks at me like I blew out the candles on her birthday. “This is a great party!”
“Thanks,” she replies politely, but she’s sulkin’.
“I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate bein’ invited. It’s really an honor,” I tell her. “You and the Kappas really changed my mind about sororities, and the types of girls who join them.”
Cynthia blinks slowly before asking, “What do you mean?”
Embarrassed, I look at my hands, “I guess sorority girls really intimidated me. They’ve got this cool sisterhood thing, and I always thought that meant they snubbed anyone who wasn’t in one. Then I came to one of your parties and everyone was so nice! They treated me like anyone else, and it’s been real fun gettin’ to know you guys. I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ for showin’ me what sororities are really about, and not all that back-stabbin’ diva stuff they put in movies and TV.”
I don’t miss Cynthia looking at her feet, almost ashamed, “Sookie, I’m really, really sorry.”
“For what?” I tilt my head in feigned curiosity.
“I was only nice to you because your fiancé is fucking hot. I’ve been hitting on him behind your back,” she confesses softly.
I stare at her a moment, genuinely surprised that she’s outright admitting this to me, “Eric is pretty darn hot,” I finally utter.
“Will you forgive me?” Cynthia asks.
“Are you gonna hit on him again?” I ask.
She shakes her head, “No, and not just because he made it perfectly clear there was no way in hell he’d cheat on you with me, but because… Oh, my God! I can’t believe I’ve been acting like this! This isn’t me at all,” she babbles, so I place a soothing hand on her shoulder.
“Hey,” I push her toward the stairs, “let’s go talk somewhere.”
Cynthia takes me to her bedroom and we sit on the duvet while she holds her head in her hands, “Can I tell you something terrible?”
“Sure,” I reply tentatively.
The Kappa president keeps her head down as she whispers, “I found out before coming back to school that my dad’s been cheating on my mom… I was the only kid among all my friends in high school whose parents weren’t divorced and I was always so proud of them for that. I was proud my parents were in love with each other. Then, I found out they weren’t; that dad was cheating. This is going to sound horrible, but I was so mad! …And even though your fiancé’s hot; deep down, I just wanted to prove to myself that love isn’t real. All men are pigs and it’s okay to just hate all of them!”
I put my hand on Cynthia’s knee, “Y’know, I’ve known you were tryin’ to get in Eric’s pants.” She looks at me mortified. “I thought I hated you for that, and I was just scared to really call you out on it because you might have kept me from hangin’ out with Leslie and Piper.”
“I thought about it,” Cynthia confesses. “After Eric told me there wasn’t a chance in hell, I thought about banning you from Kappa House.”
“Why didn’t you?” I ask, even though I know the answer.
“Because that’s not how a Sorority President should behave,” she says, and I feel warm inside. “I realized I haven’t been acting like the president the girls chose, and that I needed to get my shit together. The girls have been walking on eggshells with me and that’s not how it should be. I should be someone they can turn to and lean on, not who they whisper about and treat with kid gloves.”
“Maybe you should talk to your sisters about what’s happened with your parents?” I suggest.
“I don’t want to burden them,” she mumbles. “I feel bad enough about the crap I’ve put you and Eric through the past month.”
I smile and pat her back, “Well, you can burden me all you like. I’m a good listener and I’m really great at keeping secrets.” Cynthia looks at me in surprise. “What?” I laugh.
“I just told you I’ve been trying to steal your fiancé, and you’re offering to be my shoulder to cry on?” Cynthia asks. “I was just telling you all this so you could get me back, or give me my just desserts!”
I look at her and laugh, “You thought I was goin’ to spread all this gossip about you!? No way! Hey, we all get sucker punched in life. That’s no excuse to be kicked while we’re down… And, y’know… Tellin’ me the truth really does make me like you. I’ve been callin’ you ‘Sin’ for the past month to Eric and Jason and now I feel guilty for that. I’m sorry I didn’t realize you were hurtin’ so bad!”
Cynthia chuckles, “Really? ‘Sin’? I guess I could be Lust or Envy?”
“Ooh, Sinvy!” I tease, making her laugh. “You ready to get back to the party, Sinvy?”
She nods and we both hop downstairs. We party and dance, and I’m very happy to see the relief on all the Kappas’ faces when they recognize that their leader is back in her right spirit. Eric holds me and sways in a slower pace than the music and whispers in my ear, “Telepathy is cheating, too.”
I shrug, “Hey, it’s one thing to take advantage of a game’s glitch to win; it’s a whole other thing to rewrite the game’s code to win.”
Eric rolls his eyes. I’m not lookin’ at him, but I instinctively know when he does.