“Hello, Mr. Northman. I’m Sookie Stackhouse.
Eric glared incredulously at the woman speaking. She was gorgeous, but that totally didn’t excuse the horrific penguin attack she’d subjected him to.
“Those things are a menace! I want them put down and-”
Sophie Anne rolled her eyes and turned to Sookie, speaking over her son. “How you doing, Sook? Everything going okay here?”
“Mom!” He couldn’t believe she was just ignoring that he was viciously attacked.
“It’s great Sophie. We had a rescue this morning. Some baby racoons. They’re mom had a run in with a gator,” Sookie said, bending down to pick up the rouge penguins.
“And how are you guys, huh? Did my big, mean son scare you?” Sophie Anne asked in a baby voice, rubbing their heads. Godric and Amelia nestled into her hand, eating up the attention.
“Mom! They attacked me!” Eric’s voice was shrill and indignant as he glared at the women.
“Well,” Sophie Anne turned to face her son. “You were infringing on their territory. Now, I have to go. Be good.”
She twiddled her fingers at Eric and squeezed Sookie into a hug before turning and retreating out the door.
“I’m not a fucking baby,” he grumbled as he kept an eye on the penguins that Sookie was placing back on the floor.
“Alright. So, first order of business is to introduce you around. Come on,” Sookie waved her hand, expecting Eric to follow as she began walking towards the back of the house. He remained in one spot, not willing to move for this fascist.
“Suit yourself, but I’m pretty sure Godric and Amelia would be happy to help you get a move on,” her taunting voice floated back to him and he paled considerably when he noticed the penguins eyeing him.
Eric high tailed it back to what looked to have been a bedroom before it had been stacked with cages. A nerdy guy was huddled over a table with a heat lamp perched on it.
“Eric, this is Stan Davis. Stan, this is Eric our new recruit. Ya know, Sophie Anne’s son?” Stan smirked at Sookie’s words before dusting off his hand and holding it out to Eric. He looked at the offered hand like it was diseased and Stan shrugged before continuing his work.
“Hey, Sook? Could you grab me some more formula while you’re in here?”
Eric watched as Sookie crossed to the closet and pulled it open, only to see it stacked to the ceiling with boxes and packages of what looked like medical equipment. Sookie grabbed a bottle of something and twisted the cap off before sliding it across the table to Stan, who caught it deftly.
“Thanks,” he grabbed a covered cage off one of the numerous shelving units and the room erupted into small squeaks and chirps.
Eric’s eyes were wide as he watched Stan peel back the towel and gently lift out a tiny baby bird. He looked on in horrified curiosity as the other man filled a weird syringe type thing with the viscous liquid Sookie has passed him, jammed it down the birds throat and pushed the plunger. The baby bird’s gullet distended and Eric gulped loudly.
“It doesn’t hurt them,” Sookie’s soft voice carried as she bumped her shoulder onto his arm.
“Huh?” Eric’s eyes were still wide in fascinated horror as he watched Stan repeat the process on two more birds.
“Come on,” Sookie turned and retreated from the room, waiting for Eric to catch up. “He’s feeding them. It doesn’t hurt them.”
“Are you sure? That looked brutal! And you’re feeding them baby formula? Isn’t that like-not right?”
She stared at his face. “Are you actually concerned about something other than yourself? Wow. And no, it’s not baby formula. We reuse the bottles that premade formula comes in. It’s a special blend that we make ourselves. Come on, you have a couple more people to meet.”
Eric followed Sookie in stunned silence as she led the way back outside and around the back to a barn that he’d somehow missed.
“Jase? You out here?”
“Yeah! Back here!”
They followed the shouts around to the back of the barn where Eric saw a caged in pond and two men leaning over the small dock built onto the edge.
“They’re not coming up Sook. I think the stress is getting to them,” a tanned blonde looked back at Sookie. Then Eric saw what was in the pond and leaped back, shrieking in fear.
“Holy fuck! Those are gators!”
“Smart cookie you got here Sook. Where’d you pick up Princess Peach over there?” the hugely built bear of a man asked with a chuckle.
Eric straightened himself indignantly, but still tried to cower away from the pond.
“Oh, be nice boys. This is Eric, Sophie Anne’s son,” the two men cast a knowing look at each other. “Eric, this is Jason and Alcide.”
Jason, the blonde, held his hand out to shake Eric’s. Eric looked on with disgust as he pulled his hand away covered in something slimy.
“Oh, sorry. We were feeding them,” the smirk Jason wore told Eric just how ‘unintentional’ it was, but he didn’t say anything. Even being 6 inches shorter, Jason looked like he could take him. And he didn’t even want to look in Alcide’s direction. That dude was all muscle and looked to hate Eric on principle alone.
“Nice to meet ya, man. You checking on the rascals now Sook?”
Sookie shook her head at Alcide. “Nah, I checked on them awhile ago. They should be fine with their new cagemates. I was gonna run Eric through some easy stuff for his first day.”
With a wave and hair toss, she began walking back towards the house. Eric followed, tripping over the exposed roots, his shoes sticking in the mud.
“Damn! My shoes are getting ruined!”
“Should have worn boots then,” Sookie threw unapologetically over her shoulder as she sauntered up the back porch steps and into what seemed like a normal working kitchen.
Until she opened the refrigerator. Eric reeled back in disgust at the contents. Platters of nearly raw meat, nearly rotten produce and…were those worms?!?
“Alright. We need to mix up a new batch of baby bird formula. Baby birds have a ridiculously fast metabolism and need to be fed nearly around the clock. So, grab that huge bowl over there and put some water in it,”she pointed to a stainless steel bowl that looked bigger than her torso.
“How exactly am I supposed to put water in it?” Eric’s nose wrinkled in confusion.
Sighing, Sookie grabbed the bowl and hefted it under the faucet. “You do it just like any other bowl. It’s just a little bigger is all. Now, you need to remember what I’m telling you cause this will be one of your jobs while you’re here.” She twisted off the tap and motioned for Eric to pick the bowl up.
“Where to?” He followed Sookie’s pointed finger, slopping water down the front of him as he went. “Fuck!”
“I’d watch your mouth if I were you. As much as I try to tell them differently, these guys think I’m a lady and don’t take kindly to bad manners. Now, grab that container over there please,” she pointed towards the walk in pantry.
“Uh, which one?” Eric looked in confusion at the multiple rolling bins with various dry stuff in them.
Sookie fisted her hands over her eyes and sighed. “The one marked Purina kitten.”
Eric bent and wheeled the container over to the table, staring at Sookie blankly when he was done.
“Okay, we need 6 cups of the kitten chow poured into the water. It should just be softened, not complete mush,” Eric stared at her and blinked. Did she expect him to do this?
Apparently she did because she let out a frustrated groan and shoved a measuring cup into his chest, motioning to the bin impatiently.
“We don’t have all day, contrary to what you probably believe,” Sookie spun around as they heard a thud. “Godric! Amelia! Shit, hang on. Just put the cat food in the bowl!”
She darted out of the kitchen, muttering incoherently and Eric stared at the bin. He sighed heavily as he bent and scooped out a cup of food and dumped it into the bowl of water, splashing himself again in the process. He wrinkled his nose as the cat food smell wafted up to his considerable height.
Rolling her eyes, Sookie rounded the corner again, penguins in tow. Ducking outside to the back porch, she returned with a bucket of fish, stinking even more than the cat food.
“Here, behave yourselves,” she placed the bucket in the corner and the penguins ran over and began eating quickly. “Worse than two year olds. Anyways, you got 6 cups in?”
“Yes. I’m not a retard, ya know?” Sookie narrowed her eyes at Eric.
“No, you’re just a cocky, inconsiderate asshole who has no fucking concern for anyone but himself. Can we move on?” Eric didn’t think he’d ever met such a gorgeous woman that he’d hated so completely.
“Sure. What next?”
“Now, the eggs,” she motioned to the huge industrial fridge. He pulled open the door, finding a huge plastic tub of hard boiled eggs.
“Bring them over here,” she pulled two plastic cutting boards out of the cabinet under the sink. “Yellow is poultry. That includes eggs.”
Eric rolled his eyes. “I know that.”
Sookie ignored the obvious tantrum Eric was about to throw and yanked a huge knife off the magnetic strip on the wall. Eric gulped loudly and paled considerably. “Oh suck it up Princess. Grab a knife.”
He gingerly grabbed a much smaller knife as Sookie rolled her eyes again. “Okay, peel them first, obviously. Put the shells in this bowl,” she placed a bowl between the cutting boards.
“How many do we need?”
“Uh,” she screwed up her face in concentration. He hated that he still thought she was the sexiest thing he’d ever seen. “Do five. Then we’ll see if we need more.”
They shelled eggs silently together, Sookie smirking as Eric struggled considerably. As he worked on his fourth, she finished her fifth and crossed the kitchen, bending to look in another cabinet. Eric watched surreptitiously as her ass bounced and wiggled while she searched through whatever appliances were under there.
“Ah ha!” her gleeful shout made him smile momentarily before he wiped his face once again and plastered on a slight scowl.
“Okay,” she set what looked like a coffee grinder on the counter next to him. “Now, we dice up the eggs. Since this is for the tiny babies, it’s going to all be pureed anyways. For birds that are a little bigger, we’ll dice it up small and they can try to eat it on their own. But, like I said, this is getting pureed so don’t worry about how big the pieces are.”
She demonstrated on an egg and threw the pieces into a handy measuring cup, bending down to eye the lines on the side.
“Alright, have at it. I’m gonna work on the cat food. It’s all pretty much the same process for this, so you’ll see how it goes with the eggs.”
Eric sighed as he continued chopping eggs. He watched sporadically as Sookie ladled large scoops into the weird looking blender and hit a button. She repeated the process, adding a scoop at a time, until she ran out of cat food. Grabbing a chair and climbing on it, she peeked in the top of the blender, pulsing it a few times before she was satisfied.
“Is this okay?” Eric’s voice wavered as he caught a whiff of her hair. She ducked her head down, almost to groin level, making him groan softly.
“It’s a little too much,” she tilted some of the eggs into another bowl before eyeing the lines again. “There. Two cups. Go dump it in.”
Eric crossed the kitchen, easily pouring the chopped eggs into the blender.
“You want to blend now or later?” Eric raised his eyebrow at Sookie’s question.
“Alright. C’mere and we’ll get the last part,” Sookie smiled evilly as she crossed to the refrigerator and pulled out a shallow plastic tub. Wheeling around and shoving the tub into his hands, she backed up quickly.
Eric’s face contorted in disgust and he barely managed to toss the tub back onto the table, spilling a few mealworms that Godric darted over to snap up.
“Fuck! That’s not-”
“Dude! Watch your mouth around my sister!” Jason’s angry voice sounded out sharply.
“I uh-but…she threw worms at me!”
“So? Come on pansy, finish up. We got a call, sis,” Jason headed back out the way he came and Sookie rolled her eyes.
“Alright, we’ll finish up quick. Count your lucky stars we’re making formula ‘’cause we don’t have to chop them,” she quickly measured out two cups of mealworms and dumped them in the blender. “Go ahead, blend away. I’ll stop you when you need to check.”
She pulled the chair up alongside the counter, peering into the appliance as Eric held the button down. “Aaaaaaaaand–stop.”
Releasing the button and peering in to see a thick, syrupy looking liquid, he nearly retched. Good lord it smelled horrendous.
“You’ll get used to the smell. Just wait til you meet the raccoons,” Sookie portioned the nasty concoction into bottles she’d pulled out of the pantry and dumped the blender container into the sink. “You’ll clean that when we get back. Come on. We’re going out.”