As it turned out, not only was Alyssa understanding when it came to moving their standard date so she could attend the event with Bill, she even offered to babysit Tristan so he wouldn’t be disappointed when she didn’t show, because she knew that he loved her visiting, even if his actual interest in her only lasted for several minutes before Spongebob Squarepants, or something equally loud and attention grabbing, stole his attention.

She knew she loved her friend for a reason.

“Don’t worry about us,” she said with a cheeky smile, “I’ve got some chocolate chip ice cream with a certain big boy’s name on it!”

“Me?!” Tristan asked with wide eyes. It was his current favorite.

“Maybe. If you’re good!”

“I’ll be the bestest! Promise!”

Sarah laughed. “But I’m warning you, if I have to scrape him off the ceiling when I get home you’re spending the night so you can wake him in the morning.”

Really, some things were just too cruel to ask Rosa to do. Waking up her groggy son was one of them.

Her friend’s laughter rang out as the doorbell rang.

As she approached the door, she could see out of the corner of her eye that Tristan was intrigued, if a bit nervous. She was pretty sure he was clinging to her friend’s leg.

She smoothed down her dress and opened it, a wide smile on her face as she answered.

“Good evening, Bill! Why don’t you come in?”

She and Alyssa had argued about whether to invite him in, but quite honestly, if he’d wanted to kill her he’d already have done so. Besides, she could always rescind the invitation after he left.

“Why thank you,” he said as he entered her home. “You look lovely tonight.”

Before she could thank him, she heard her son pipe up.

“Mr. Bill?” he asked. She would have sworn there was a note of hope in there, but she didn’t know why. He’d never met Bill before.

He looked down, warm smile intact. “Yes?” he asked.

Her son moved from her friend’s leg to hers. “You’re mommy’s friend, right?”

He nodded. “I am.”

“Good! You make mommy happy!”

“I do try,” he replied.

She was pretty sure she was bright red by this point. “All right sweetie,” she said as she kissed his head. “You be good for Miss Alyssa, okay?”

He nodded. “I will! I want ice cream!”

She laughed as she peeled him off and joined Bill as his side. “Night!” and was met with a “Night, night!” as they left.

To her surprise, he held the door open for her.

“Thank you, Master,” she said as she slid into the car. She would find it easy enough to call him Bill later, she always did when there were any guests at his house. She still preferred to call him Master. It felt more natural. “How was your drive?” He was making a miniature road-trip of this, planning on visiting the Sheriff of the area and a few meetings with some other important vampires.

“It was good. It’s nice to drive myself once in a while.” He normally had a chauffeur-slash-bodyguard with him.  They weren’t always that practical though. He was going to compensate for that by meeting in public areas. It wasn’t perfect, but it’d work. These were known allies, or those hoping to become allies.

She nodded as a comfortable silence settled in over them. They sometimes made small talk, especially if they’d both been at their respective desks – his in his office, her at the kitchen table – for a while and needed a break and she was actually capable of doing so. Sometimes it took all her attention just to focus on her work when he’d make her do her work while wearing this toy or that. He was way too fond of his remote-control bullet vibrator.

Finally though, he did break the silence. “When was the last time you attended one of these?” he asked.

“Not long after I got a divorce. My mom was always into this more than I was, much to her great disappointment. I prefer donating my time and sliding a discreet check to the organization instead. It feels more real to me than just attending a few fancy parties and then patting myself on the back.” She then realized what they might have sounded like, given that she knew he did a ton of philanthropy. “Not that good work isn’t being done,” she hastened to add.

“No offense taken,” he said. “It’s good to get out there. Humans these days don’t do it often enough. I’d do it myself more frequently if I could.”

Yeah, she supposed that the whole nocturnal vampire bit was kind of limiting when it came to volunteer hours. For some reason humans weren’t very good at picking up trash in the dark.

They settled back into silence as they approached the venue, and she pushed a curl back behind her ear as he pulled into the line for the valet.

“Just relax and have fun tonight and help keep the circling vultures away. That’s all I ask.”

She laughed. “I think I can manage that, Bill,” she said as the passenger door opened. She meant it too.

“Excellent. Have enough fun and I’ll reward you the next time we’re in Bon Temps.”

Her eyes went wide and she smiled even broader. She had enough incentive as it was, but that promise was enough to make her want to be nice to even the most annoying of her mother’s friends.

She offered him her arm, “I’ll hold you to that.”

He smiled at her, as he took it. “Then let’s begin.”