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CHAPTER 1: With a little Work
It was a warm Thursday morning in Bon Temps and already twenty-eight degrees Celsius. Sam had been up all night wondering what he'd done wrong to cause Tara to suddenly take off in the middle of the night leaving him alone in that cheap motel she moved into. Lack of sleep made him cranky and restless and he wanted some kind of distraction. So, he decided to do some repairs to his old trailer. The wobbly kitchen counter for starters needed tightening up.
"Shit!" Sam cursed out loudly. The screwdriver slipped out of the groove causing his hand to rotate and slam against the hard resin handle. Holding his throbbing hand, he blamed himself for not being more focused. Instead, he allowed his mind to drift and settle on Tara. He dived deep in thought as he sat under the counter.
He remembered not long after he'd opened Merlotte's, he started seeing an attractive young girl in micro-braids coming by. In some ways, she reminded him of himself. She seemed troubled and alone, angry and unapproachable. But, her beauty was undeniable. In the looks department, she was a rarity. Cute yet at the same time beautiful. Her exotic looks captivated him every time she walked into Merlotte's. Her small perfect lips and almond shaped brown eyes were set like jewels in her oval face. Her smooth flawless brown skin was magnetic, he felt drawn to her. He wanted to at least know her name. Later on he learned her name by happenstance. One night her cousin Lafayette, the short order cook, called out to her when he saw her waltzing in. All along Lafayette had been calling her 'hookah' or 'bitch', names only cousins this tight could get away with. That night 'hookah' was in a rancid mood. She'd just walk off yet another job.
"Please don't call me that 'cause the only hookah here is the one looking at me with them big ass frog eyes batting them cheap ugly ass fake eyelashes." "Well excuse me Miss Tara Mae."
Tara, pretty name, Sam remembered thinking. Sure, she would have a drink or two and when it came to beers, Miller was her preference. Apparently, she was notorious for pissing off her bosses and according to Lafayette, that hookah change jobs faster than Secretariat at the Kentucky Derby. Once Sookie, her best friend, started working for Sam as a waitress, Tara's visit became more frequent. He didn't mind her visits one bit, in fact looked forward to them.
When Sam's bartender, Ed moved to Texas, Tara begged him for the job. With some reservation he gave in and hired her. Aware of her past track record when it came to jobs, he didn't expect much. Turned out that in some fucked up way, she had prior experience. She admitted to mixing drinks for her mom from when she was in grade school. Apart from that, she learned the ropes quite quickly. Sam at first was concerned about her no nonsense attitude rubbing the customers the wrong way, but, soon found that her strong will and professionalism championed over any ruffian. Even for her petite stature and pretty looks, she could give just about anyone a look that made them think twice about messing with her. She knew when and how to limit any drunken and demanding customer.
Amongst her co-workers, Tara's sharp wit and directness was much to be desired but after a while her easygoing nature came through and in no time was appreciated by all, including Sam. Not even a week after hiring her that he started to feel comfortable around her.
One late night after closing, he remembered when he'd finally asked her over to his place for drinks. Sitting on chairs on his porch under a clear starry night, they chatted and laughed over shots of whiskey. Looking on, one would've thought that they'd been long-time friends. After a while, things progressed into the trailer and before they knew it, they had earth shattering sex first on his couch and then on his bed. Ever since, they'd been doing it in secrecy. The sex had always felt new, electrifying and intense, but, there was more to her Sam found himself wanting. In time, he found her to be not only smart, well read and witty, she was caring and sweet and made him laugh. The more he got to know her, the more he wanted to be near her.
A day did come when he realized he had deeper feelings for her, beyond than just the physical. Once she had a bad case of the flu and called in sick. The doctor instructed her to stay away from work for three days. Not seeing her at work the first day was unbearable and he couldn't stand another day let alone two. So, for the next two days, he brought chicken soup to her house. Since then, he has been wanting to tell her how he truly felt about her, but, lately she hasn't been making it easy for him.
For Sam, it hasn't been easy peeling away Tara's tough exterior. He knew that she grew up abused by an alcoholic mother and without a father, and, it tore him up whenever she acted tough and distant. Still, he wondered if deep down she had any feelings for him at all and if she did, maybe she didn't really know how to express them. Could it be that she got upset with him last night for not saying he had feelings her? Then again, she did say "no strings attached" that first night.Sometimes women can be so confusing, Sam thought.
Sam was fed up of thinking anymore and shifted his focus back to the wobbly counter. As he inspected the problematic screw, he couldn't help but think that his love life was like his trailer, shaky and ready to cave in. Just then, Tara let herself in, looking sexy and cute in a spaghetti strapped blouse and washed out mini jeans skirt. She walked straight up, leaned on the very same counter and looked down at him sitting underneath it. Never minding the state of the counter, she had a pleased-as-punch expression as if nothing happened the night before.
Speak of the devil he thought to himself and then let her have it. Instantly the air became tense as harsh words were exchanged. She's so stubborn! Sam finally had enough of this shit and raised himself up from under the counter, threatened to throw her out if she didn't give him reason not to. As Sam looked at her square in the face, he searched for an explanation. Then Tara finally spoke. "I'm sorry".
As she struggled to find the right words to say whilst trying not to sound stupid, she went on to say, "I don't know how to be with somebody, I never been with anybody". This he believed.
Sam calmed down some. "I'm just in a sour mood" Sam confessed while looking around disapprovingly at the old trailer.
"You mean at me?" Tara asked. Yes and some, Sam felt like saying.
"Nah, it's just the trailer falling down around me", he added while still feeling somewhat defeated, and then sat back down under the counter and turned his attention to the loose screw.
It was obvious to Tara that Sam was using the wrong screwdriver in the first place.
"You need a Robinson's screwdriver for that" she said bending down and looking in.
"How would you know something like that?" Sam asked amazed at her knowledge in such things.
"No daddy and a drunken mom, all the fixing fell to me", she said as she straightened back up and looked at the walls and then the ceiling.
"The place would look good with a little work" Tara perked up and give the tiny place a once over.
Sam eyes instantly lit up on hearing her say those words. As he stared back at her and wondered if she wanted the same things in life as he. Could it be that she'd thought that their relationship was worth 'fixing up' and all it needed was just a 'little work'?
"Hey, let's go to Home Depot and get this screwdriver", Sam said jumping to his feet.
"Oh, OK, sure", Tara replied knowing full well that he was capable of getting it on his own but didn't mind going along for the ride. Besides, anything was better than going home to a drunk mom.