I didn’t know what I was doing, or if I did, I didn’t know what or how I should be feeling. I’d kissed him with wild abandon right there in Father Niall’s office! What the heck was I thinking? I wasn’t thinking; I was just feeling. I just wanted to feel. Being with him was just so easy—when we were alone it was like nothing else in the world mattered because he was there and he would keep me safe if I needed him too. I trusted him completely. He’d been the only person in my life up until I met Amelia that I’d allowed my guard to come down around. I tried and failed to get him off my mind, but it had been almost a full day since I’d seen him and it was gnawing at me knowing he was just in the little office across the way—just sitting in there working, alone, and not being kissed. It was a shame because my goodness that boy could kiss! Not that I’d had a lot of experience with kissing—he had been the only boy I’d ever kissed—or ever even thought about kissing…but still. I’d been laying out the bibles on the seats in the church for a few minutes when I heard the clicking of sharp and steady high heels on the tile of the church floor. I assumed it was someone coming to pray as usual so I paid it no mind, until that person cleared their throat to get my attention.
“I’m looking for Eric Northman. Could you maybe tell me where to find him?” said the voice behind me.
As I turned to look, I found the owner of the voice. She was a petite woman, with shockingly fake red hair—a colour I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen before, it was so vivid. I walked over to her and she put her hands on her hips expectantly.
“So, do you know where he is or am I wasting my time here?”
Wow, check the attitude at the door Miss Thing.
“I’m sorry who are you?”
With that she looked like I had tested her apparently very thin patience. “Uh, do you know where he is or…”
“Sure he’s… you know what, I’ll go get him for you. How’s that?” I plastered on my fakest of smile. It was all I could do aside from grinding my teeth, to stop myself from telling her how rude she was being.
She just shrugged, tapping her red high heel against the tile of the floor.
I made my way to the side exit and rounded the corner to the nook of the convent where Niall’s office lay. Tapping on his door I found myself nervous about seeing Eric, particularly after our last encounter. He smiled and I couldn’t help but smile back. When I told him there was a woman in the church to see him, he seemed unfazed so I assumed he had an appointment or something. He walked with me and pressed his hand to the small of my back leading me out of his office. Again, just that small amount of contact had the electricity flying through my body. I took a quiet deep breath to calm myself.
“She wouldn’t give me her name though.” I added and he just shrugged “She’s standing in the church, seemed kind of impatient.”
He just furrowed his brows obviously not expecting anyone of her description.
“Funny, Mrs. Andrews always seems like such a calm and patient woman.”
I didn’t know Mrs. Andrews, but this woman didn’t sound like her at all.
When we reached the church his face dropped and I could have sworn he turned three shades paler. Uttering her name he walked over to her, leaving me to return to my bible distribution.
So, her name was Sophie? Hmm… Part of me didn’t want to eavesdrop, but the other part of me was too curious about this woman not to listen in—if only for a second. I didn’t hear what they said to each other initially but it piqued my interest when she went to hug him. She held on a little too long for my liking, then she kissed him on the cheek and smiled. I noticed she still hadn’t separated herself from him, and he was still holding onto her arms. Jealousy or something very similar to it sparked through me when I saw them like that. She was smiling and laughing and well, he just looked confused, but they were still too close for my comfort. Who the hell was this woman? I couldn’t help it; I walked up to them, honestly just to see what was going on.
“I know. I just thought to myself now that I was home that I should look you up, maybe come say hi. I don’t really know what I’m doing here to be honest, but I’m glad I came.” I heard her saying as I approached them both. Clearly my nosiness got the better of me and I wanted to be involved in what seemed like a rather cosy reunion.
“Well it’s go- great to see you I mean you look…and I …I mean I’m just shocked. Sophie I really never expected to see you, here of all places!” Eric stammered.
Eric never stammered.
“Sookie!” Eric jumped as if he’d gotten a fright. He was on edge, his eyes were huge and his voice was raised. I knew this reaction; he was hiding something.
“That’s me.” I smiled calmly at them both. “Why are you so jumpy?” I directed towards him.
“Oh, Eric.” Red laughed “This is Sookie? Whoa, I am SO sorry with how I acted before. I just thought you were some nun looking to put her nose in our business. If I had known this was THE Sookie…Well.” She pressed her immaculately stained red lips together before offering me her hand. “I’m Sophie-Ann. I’m sure Eric’s told you all about me?”
Eric swallowed hard and started to blink faster than normal. Oh yeah, he was definitely hiding something.
“Actually…Eric never mentioned you at all. How do you know each other?” I looked from him to her back to him. He was blushing and blinking. I thought he was having a seizure.
“Maybe you got him confused. Of course he’s mentioned me …Maybe just as Sophie?” She was mad. Even her expensive looking makeup couldn’t hide the anger behind those eyes. I simply shrugged that I still had no idea who she was or why she was here. It seemed to enrage her even further.
“Well isn’t that nice. For months all I saw was his preoccupation with you and your precious letters and he didn’t even have the decency to mention ME?” she almost shrieked.
We both now looked expectantly to Eric.
“I…well…Sookie…Sophie was, she was a um. She…Well you see… we were sort of a thing.”
“A thing?” Red and I said in unison, echoed even further by the church acoustics. I was still shocked as to why she was never mentioned before. She seemed annoyed by his description of their relationship as “a thing.” Clearly that wasn’t what she had in mind.
“I think Sookie what Eric is trying to say, extremely inarticulately, is that he and I were an item. Dating—my boyfriend…Isn’t that right Eric? Clearly our break-up was just too traumatic for him to re-live and that’s obviously why he never mentioned me.”
Boyfriend? My heart skipped a beat as I froze at this realization.
Oh. I see.
“Right, obviously that’s what it was.” I glared at him. I could do nothing else. “You know what, I have chores so—”
“No, look Sookie, I can explain really. I just—” He attempted in vain to stop me from leaving them.
“There’s no need!” I plastered on my fake smile as I had done countless times before. “Sophie is it?”
“It was nice to meet you. Please excuse me.”
With that I left the liar with the redhead and went in search of something to clean.
I’d hidden myself away in the kitchen for the better part of the day. I cleaned out cupboards, I washed old pans, I organised the shelves, I did whatever was necessary to keep my mind and hands busy to keep from finding Eric and slapping him senseless. The mixed conflicted emotions I was feeling were making my head spin.
I returned to the church after the confessions had cleared out. I needed some alone time with my thoughts and with my prayers, hoping against hope that some guidance would shine through and point me in the direction I was meant to go.
Instead of quiet reflection, I got company. Company in the form of Red. Her red lips; her red hair; and her red heels. She came back into the church, stood at my bench and asked to speak with me. Her airs and graces told me she was faking nice, but that she ‘needed to speak with me’ for whatever reason – I sighed and granted her my time, and a seat. She was silent at first before she began in a whispered voice.
“You know, he talked about you a lot when we were together.”
“Mmmhmm, if I’m being honest I was green with envy of how close you seemed with him. I mean my Eric was just so, well, we didn’t talk much…Not that I’d expect you to understand but we had more of a physical relationship and it was amazing.” She giggled, scooting closer to me in the progress. “You know, Sookie, it’s what’s confused me so much about Eric’s choice to become a priest.”
“Well, a man with a sexual appetite such as his, to go and give it all up? Forever? Well, it was the last thing I ever expected him to do.” She smiled as if this was the funniest must absurd thing she’d ever heard.
The idea of him having sex with her once turned my stomach. Now to know that it was of course a lot more than once was like a knife twisting in my gut.
“How serious is he about this whole priest thing anyway? I…it’s just so funny to me. Honestly there were times when he just couldn’t go a day without wanting me, and to think here he is …like this…” she motioned her hand to the altar. “It’s so odd. I don’t know how you do it…”
“Of course, I mean I thought for sure Eric had some kind of feelings for you and that’s why he and I parted ways. Your letters were a great source of comfort to him and when I read them…Well you can understand why I assumed there were feelings, on both your parts. But now I see you here…this is where you belong, Sookie. You seem so suited for this life. Of course, what you’ve never had you can’t miss right?” She winked at me, she actually winked.
I didn’t agree or disagree; I didn’t scream or cry like I wanted to; and I didn’t slap her in her smug face either, like I really wanted to. I simply smiled and took my leave. I headed straight for my cell. Anyone who passed me on the way asked me if I was feeling okay. I wasn’t okay. I felt ill. I felt sickened. I felt like my heart had been broken—only it wasn’t just in my heart that I felt the pain, it was like my whole body was broken inside suddenly. Her words and the history behind them. He’d hidden this from me. He had never even mentioned this woman by name in the countless letters he had written to me in his time away. He’d taken this woman as his; he had taken her to his bed and made love to her; he’d made promises to her with his body—he’d let her read my letters? I think that’s what hurt and stung most of all. Those letters were a part of me, a part of me that I only intended to share with him, and to know that he’d let her touch and read them? It broke my already shattered heart even more. When I finally got to my room, I yanked off my veil and buried my face in my pillow, before finally allowing the tears that I’d been holding back so long, to spill. I tried to rationalize my way out of the feelings I was succumbing to. He wasn’t mine—not in the sense of a lover, he wasn’t my boyfriend or my fiancée—he was my friend. My friend who had made me no such promises, never confessed his feeling for me if he had any at all…I shouldn’t feel so betrayed. But I did. I felt so utterly betrayed it made me sick. And to think that I thought his kissing me or wanting me had to do with me, when in fact it was clear the only thing that Eric wanted was a suppression for that ‘sexual appetite’ of his.
Was he just like Bill? Was he just using me for his own desires? Only unlike Bill, was he playing me? Playing with my own feelings towards him? Was it all real or was it just a ploy to take my innocence and have a playmate on hand? I was questioning any and everything, and I hated it so completely. I hated that she showed up, I hated that he had sex with her, I hated her, and I hated him. I took several deep breaths. So many in fact, I felt as though I’d pass out if I didn’t stop. I was determined though, not to let Eric Northman get the better of me. So after more than a solid hour of sobbing silently to myself, I got up, splashed some water on my face and got dressed in my casual clothes. I chose a simple black shift dress and my red shawl and twisted my hair into a high bun before making my way to Sister Geraldine’s office. I lied to her for the first time in my life, but I didn’t care. I told her Amelia and I had some training to do for a couple of days and that I’d need to stay with her in order to do it. For some reason she thought having another teacher with info would be a ‘good look’ for the school if I were to know and learn like she was. I was shocked when she granted me the leave for the two nights. I hadn’t told Amelia that I was planning on staying with her, but I just needed someone to talk to, openly and honestly without fear of repercussions. I felt that if I held it in any longer I was going to explode. So I took the short bus ride to Amelia’s apartment in the centre of town, and the second she opened her door she knew something was wrong. She ushered me inside hugging me tightly once the door was closed. Her apartment spelled like lavender oil that she burned with her candles. She turned her radio on as she offered me some tea.
“So? Spill,” she said as she sat on her couch beside me, cup of coffee in hand.
“I’m sorry for just landing on you like this, I really hate that I just….well thank you for letting me stay.”
“Sookie you know that’s not even an issue. You consider this your home away from home. What I want to know is, what’s got you so upset. You’ve been crying, and don’t even tell me you haven’t because I know that look. Now what happened? Is it Eric? Is he still on the mend or …” I scoffed.
“Psh… no, he’s fine. More than fine. He’s so fine that he’s been going around sprouting sonnets about how he feels when all the while he’s been lying to me—lying to my face, lying in my letters. He’s just a liar!”
She raised her brows at my outburst. “Sookie, what exactly did he do?”
I shook my head, I couldn’t talk about it just then. I just couldn’t. I needed a distraction.
“Ames, remember how…Since you’ve met me both you and Lafayette have wanted me to let my hair down and have some fun? Well, how about we do that tonight? Please? I think I need some fun.” Her eyes lit up and whatever pained concern she was feeling for me vanished as she did her best retarded hyper seal impression again and jumped off the couch.
“Ohh my God! You’re serious? Really? Oh Sook! This is going to me SO much fun. Okay, first things first, we’re getting you out of that horrid dress. I mean what is this, the 1930s?” She scoffed.
“No it’s the fifth—”
“I was being sarcastic, kind of. God, it’s hideous. Is it a rule of thumb that you all have to dress so badly? Is it to repel the men…? Anyway, second of all, I NEED to call LaLa. He would never let me live it down that our little Virgin Mary wanted a makeover and he wasn’t officiating. Be right back!” She swished off into her kitchen and I heard her reassuring Lafayette that she wasn’t ‘shitting’ about me wanting a change. Even if it was just for one night. I just wanted to be someone different.
When I saw Sophie standing there, my heart stopped. She was the last person I’d expected to see. In my church, too of all places. What the hell?
I knew Sookie was curious and I can’t say I blame her, but oh dear God this was really the last thing I needed. I had intended to tell Sookie all about Sophie but it was just never the right time. Would there ever have been a time to step up and admit to her that I’d lied about a part of my life, about my actions? I never thought of myself as a coward but I felt like one right at that second. If only I’d told her sooner, then this wouldn’t or mightn’t have been half as bad as I assumed it was going to be.
Sophie embraced me with a hug, which I returned out of courtesy. She smiled from ear to ear singing my praises as if we’d just seen each other yesterday and not almost two years before. She smiled like she hadn’t just lost her mind the last time I’d seen her or invaded my privacy or destroyed my property. Honestly, what the hell was she doing here? Before I could get an answer out of her Sookie came to my side. Awkward doesn’t begin to describe how I was feeling. My heart was racing, I was sweating and I’m pretty sure my hands were shaking.
I was so busted. I was an asshole.
When Sophie began in her own special “rose tinted glasses” way to describe our quote unquote relationship, I felt like I could vomit. I was so ashamed of myself for so many things, all at once, that it was extremely overwhelming.
Sookie was livid. I knew by her eyes and her rigid stance that she would have clobbered me given half the chance. I’d lied to her and now she knew it. She also thought—by Sophie’s talk—that she and I had been in love, which was so far from the truth, it was unbelievable. When she made her excuses to leave, I noted the superior smug look on Sophie’s face. I wanted to go after her; I wanted to apologize; I wanted to explain. But I couldn’t, not with Sophie standing there demanding my attention. I cut the bullshit as best as I could and finally asked her, “What are you doing here?”
“I told you I wanted to see—”
“Why?” Blunt yes, but necessary.
“I missed you, Eric. Is that so wrong? I missed you and I got to thinking about you, and my mother mentioned something about Niall moving back here and well, then I found out you’d joined the priesthood. And in all honestly, I needed to see it with my own two eyes.”
“Well, you’ve seen. Now you can go.”
“Don’t be rude.”
“Rude? Sophie, are you forgetting how shit ended with us? God, do you remember how it even started? No, I can’t even be having this conversation with you right now.”
She just rolled her eyes, taking a seat in one of the benches at the aisle. “So that’s the famous Sookie Stackhouse.” It was more of a statement than a question.
I gritted my teeth to prevent me from telling her to shut up and leave. “Yes, that’s her.”
“You’re still in love with her.” Again, more of a statement than a question.
“Look, what does it matter? It doesn’t matter, as you can see we’ve made choices, and these
choices govern our lives now.”
“She loves you too. I can see it.”
“Look, I don’t mean to be rude or blunt or even mean, but you can’t be here. Not like this.”
“Sophie, what happened between us…It shouldn’t have happened, I feel like I took advantage—”
“We both know that’s not true babe. If anything I took advantage of you, remember? Look…Okay, the real reason I’m here? I wanted to right some wrongs if you must know, and I’ve started a long line of apologies and well, hey, you’re next on that list. So please, just let me take you out to dinner at least?”
“Come on, it’s not like I’m inviting you to an orgy, priests still eat food right?”
I was hesitant; it was a really bad idea. I didn’t want to be alone with her mainly because it dredged up too many shameful memories for me, but mostly because the more time I spent with her the more time it took away from me finding and explaining myself to Sookie.
On the other hand, if it was part of whatever road she was on to finding that peace that everyone deserved, then who was I to deny her that chance? Everyone deserved a chance at forgiveness, right?
“Fine. One dinner. We can talk and whatever you’d like, but then that’s it, Sophie.”
“I promise. After dinner and after I’ve said all I need to say, then I promise, you won’t hear from me again.”
I nodded. Ashamed again in her presence, this time because of my bad manners and inhospitable treatment, but it couldn’t be helped. I had to be on my guard around her because her moods, as I recalled, were prone to changing at the drop of a hat.
“No…No…Hells no!” Lafayette noted as he took every dress from Amelia’s wardrobe and deemed them unworthy for my night on the ’tiles’. They’ve demanded I bathe in all of her beauty products and use some kind of sticky green face mask that when peeled off would give me a face as smooth as a babies bottom—or so they said. I assumed that to be a good thing. What wasn’t a good thing was the hot wax that Amelia decided would be ‘fun’ to use on my legs and my bikini area. I wasn’t even sure where that was, but it hurt like heck when she yanked my underwear aside to do between my thighs. She patted me on the back and told me that my vagina was pretty, for a virgin.
I was mortified times a million. So when it came time for me to shed my robe and stand there in my bra panties and white cotton slip I thought nothing of it. Clearly Lafayette wasn’t the type of man I had to worry about seeing me in a state of undress, and Amelia and I had bonded somewhat over my pretty vagina being made even more pretty by her strange smelling wax. I was smooth everywhere. I felt all down my legs and beyond, so I guess that’s a plus.
I shed my robe and was met with a collective gasp from my two friends.
“Oh come on guys, no more virgin jokes okay? I’m tired of them.”
But I turned around and neither of them seemed to be in a joking mood any more. In fact, their faces looked downright horrified.
“Girl…” Lafayette began but for some reason couldn’t continue.
“Sookie what the FUCK?”
“What? And Ames, don’t curse at me! What is it?”
“Honey, your back….”
“What the ever living fuck is that Sookie?” Laf demanded as he turned me around again to look at my back, yanking my two thin straps down my arms. Amelia gasped again and began to cry.
“Oh Sookie, who did this to you?”
I didn’t answer them. So Laf just assumed.
“Those fuck-ing nuns? They do this to you? Sook?”
“Look, it looks worse than it is, okay? They don’t hardly hurt no more.” As I got defensive I suddenly sounded more southern.
“These whip marks?” Lafayette examined my back carefully, frowning as he did so.
I nodded and Amelia gasped again. Asking me how and why I got them. I answered them as honestly as I could. I told them when the beating began and I told them that even now, they were still a very realistic form of punishment. I was surprised at how detached I allowed myself to remain as I told them bits and pieces of my childhood that involved the other end of that whip or her cane. Lafayette wanted to hunt some, and I quote ‘penguin bitches down’ and Ames just started to cry full on sobs. She questioned me on how I could still stay there after that or how I could look those women in the eye. And the truth was, I didn’t know how I did it, I just did it.
Finally I let Lafayette lose on my hair. He trimmed the ends and swished it and brushed it and curled it in all different directions before piling some up and some down and framing my face. We used Amelia’s makeup and made me sparkle, or so Lafayette said. We settled on a shorter dress than I’d ever worn—it had spaghetti straps and a flared skirt, a fitted bodice to frame my ‘girls’ and it was pretty shades of white and red, mostly white with little red flowers decorating it nicely. We used a little short sleeved red cardigan to cover my back, my scars and to provide me with some warmth. Higher shoes than I’d ever worn were strapped to my feet as Ames practically doused me in her Chanel perfume. She primped and fluffed my dress and hair until she was satisfied with the result. Then she and Laf unveiled my new reflection in the mirror.
I looked like a different person. My skin was glowing my eyes were huge and bright and accented with a dark liner, my lips where full and red. My hair shiny and full of life. I almost started to cry, but I was warned that if I did all their hard work would be for nothing if I was just going to cry it all off.
So I didn’t cry, but I laughed like kid on Christmas morning. I looked like someone different—so if only for that night, I was going to be someone different.
Cinderella if you will.
Amelia decided that dinner in a fancy French restaurant was in order, all on her, because sadly this Cinderella’s fairy godmother didn’t provide the extras. I got smiles and compliments all evening—again so new and unfamiliar to me—but welcome and accepted nonetheless.
When we got the bar to meet up with Tray, he had a friend with him. I had no idea what was going on but it seemed that Amelia had ideas, ideas that involved me and said friend. She had to have known that nothing could happen between us, didn’t she? Either way his company was nice. He was a very tall very rugged man—beautiful eyes, dark shaggy hair and a beard to match. He was so sweet and down to earth; something that on first glance might have been lost due to his height and his size. We all sat around just joking and talking and it had to be said, drinking way too much whiskey. It wasn’t until Ames and Tray went to the bar for more drinks that he and I had any kind of non-superficial conversation.
“So how come I haven’t see you around here before?” he asked, sipping his beer.
“I…well, I don’t really…the bar scene isn’t really my thing.” Not a total lie, but also not ‘I sleep in a cell and own one pair of shoes’ either.
“Yeah, I hear you. Honestly I only come here because Tray and Amelia insist that I ‘get out more’. I’d be more than happy just hanging out at home, you know?”
I nodded and sipped my drink.
“Same, she’s been trying to get me out with them for a while now. So tonight I just decided that I maybe needed this kind of relaxation. Though the way she keeps fussing over me, it’s not exactly relaxing!” I laughed.
“Tray is the same. It’s like he’s afraid if I spend one more night in my place by myself that I somehow won’t come back out.”
“Honestly, the reason he’s so freaked with me lately is…Well, my fiancé and I broke up a few months back and I guess he’s been trying to look out for me.”
I took another large sip of my drink. “I’m sorry, Alcide. That can’t have been easy.”
He shrugged and I saw a slight blush under that scraggly beard of his—a by-product of the depression of a break-up, I assumed.
“No, it’s not really easy, but some nights are better than others. Tonight rates pretty high considering my company right now.”
Now it was my turn to blush.
“So Sookie, what …I mean do you work?”
Oh boy, here we go.
“I work with the church actually. It’s been something I’ve been doing most of my life really. Um, Amelia says you work in construction?”
“Yeah. You see, my dad, he owns the company and well… I’m expected to toe the line and be the son in Herveaux & Son. It’s an easy gig but I don’t know, sometimes I wish I’d chosen my own path, you know?”
I nodded. I knew what that was like. I also knew the fear behind even thinking about stepping out of your comfort zone.
Alcide and I continued to talk up a storm while Amelia suspiciously got ‘stuck’ at the bar. I knew she was standing there over-seeing it all and making sure I made a new friend. Though the way Alcide was looking at me, I don’t really think ‘friend’ was what he had in mind. And being totally honest, after all I’d been through the previous few days, I was maybe okay with him thinking whatever he wanted. At least for a little while.
It was exciting having the attentions of someone new, someone who had no idea of my screwed up life or how completely miserable I was. And when he leaned in to try and kiss me, I wasn’t about to stop him. I figured between my lying, my evil thoughts towards that redheaded thing of Eric’s…my anger at him, sneaking out and drinking? This would be just another sin to add to the ever lengthening list.
When he leaned in to kiss me, I’ll admit I leaned towards him too. I was curious.
That’s when I heard him. He coughed to get our attention, and when Alcide asked him what he wanted, I looked up to find him staring at me with daggers in his eyes.
“Can I talk to you outside for a minute?”
“Sookie? Who is this guy?”
“I’m a friend.”
“A friend, huh? Somehow I doubt that, what’s your business with the lady?” Alcide stood up meeting him face to face, which for someone Eric’s height wasn’t all that common.
“Like I said man, I’m a friend and it’s really important that I speak to her—alone.” He brushed Alcide off then, turning his attentions to me “Sookie?”
I slid out of the booth and apologized to Alcide, assuring him I was fine and that I would be back when we were done talking. He didn’t seem to buy it, but he agreed and joined Amelia and Tray at the bar while I stormed outside.
“How dare you!” I spat when we reached the alley. “How DARE YOU! You humiliated me in there! What the hell are you doing here anyway?”
“What the hell am I doing here? What the hell are YOU doing here? And dressed like that!”
“Oh, I’m sorry is this offending you and your delicate sensibilities? I forgot that horny teenage boy I used to know became a man with taste—a taste for redheaded whores.” I stormed off further down the alley, all the while silently cursing Amelia for giving me these damn heels.
“Why the hell do you care? So what if I did have a taste for her? What does that matter to you? You said yourself that you didn’t care! Then suddenly Sophie shows up and you’re acting—”
“How? How am I acting Eric?”
“Like a jealous girlfriend!” He blurted out coming closer to me, anger still written all over him. His shoulders were tensed, his arms crossed, his jaw fixed. His eyes would bore holes through me with the fire that blazed in them if they could.
“Jealous girlfri- you know what, you have some damn nerve Eric Northman! You’re the one who lied TO ME, you’re the one that knew he was doing something wrong with her otherwise you wouldn’t have had an issue with telling me about her! You’re the one—”
Stackhouse, do not cry. DO NOT!
“You’re the one that went off and fell into bed with the first floozy that came your way. Do you know how much that hurt?” My voice cracked before it gave away that I was trying my best to hold back my tears from him again. “You weren’t supposed to do that!” I blurted out again, this time my head feeling more and more light as the air mixed with my alcohol riddled self.
“What was I supposed to do then?” He asked, his voice softer than before, as he approached me standing directly in front of me.
I don’t know if it was the alcohol or the emotional mess or both, but I uttered my thoughts to him then, when I should have just kept my stupid mouth closed.
“You were supposed to be with me. The idea of her touching you, of…you touching her my GOD, Eric it makes me so mad I could spit. I was the one you were meant to be with like that not her! I was the one that you were meant to love and touch. Now all I keep seeing is her and her smug face and her fake red hair and God it just makes me hate you for it. And I know I have no right to say or think any of these things but I do and I can’t help it! So there, Mr. I Must Know Everything. There you have it. I’m jealous OK? I’m jealous of her and I hate myself for it!”
“Do not ‘Sookie’ me all tender and sweet right now Eric! I’m mad at you and that will not help you!” I sobbed again. God, what was wrong with me? I tried to wipe my tears, my stupid irrational tears, that just needed to dry up so I could just keep being mad at him.
“Sookie…” He repeated coming closer to me, gently putting a hand on my shoulder. “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry for what? Huh? For lying to me? For omitting a person that was obviously important to you for a time? Someone that had such an impact on you that you …you.” I took a deep breath “You where her, how did she put it? Oh right, boyfriend.”
He seemed to cringe then. Well, good for him he should cringe! Cringe with the shame of that ….thing.
“I just can’t believe…God! Why am I crying? This is so stupid!” I said more to myself than anyone as I paced away from him again before he grabbed my elbows gently turning me around to face him.
“Sookie please look at me?”
“I’m an idiot.” I laughed through my tears finally. “I shouldn’t be mad, or hurt, or …whatever this is. It’s your life. Who you choose to take to bed is none of my business. And it’s not my business if your type is some trashy pseudo little princess who is actually a fake redheaded Jezebel in too much makeup and whore heels.”
“I’m sorry.” He said again. Had it been anyone else I would have slapped them, but the conviction in his voice and in his eyes, told me he meant it. Our history together also told me that he was beating himself up about this just as much as I was beating him up verbally.
“I know you are, but it still hurts. You hurt me. Of all the people in my life, you were the one I trusted to be truthful with me Eric, always. And you lied.”
I saw the tears pool in his eyes, glistening from the glare of the street lamps above our heads. I didn’t want him to apologize to me again. I couldn’t bear to hear it again.
“I never meant to hurt you Sookie. I didn’t, and you have to know that. It’s just…I was gone; I was out there and my life was so different. I had this freedom to do what I wanted for the first time in my life and it was intoxicating. And Sophie, she was new and exciting and confusing and I was lost, Sook…I was lost and for a short while, I thought I’d found something with her.”
I couldn’t look at him, if he was about to tell me he loved her, I might have thrown up.
“But, it was lie. All of it. I lied to myself, I lied to her, and she lied to me. We wanted things from each other Sookie—”
“Sex. Yeah she told me all about you’re insatiable appetite for sex with her.”
I swear he growled.
“Sookie she’s …not …”
“Was she lying?” I demanded to know. ” Was she making it up when she said that you wanted her, needed her, was with her night and day for months?”
He ran his hand thought his hair before sighing and replying.
“Sookie it’s not something I’m proud of okay? In fact it was the biggest mistake of my life.”
“And what about now, huh? What am I? Am I just like Sophie? A convenient woman you find yourself attracted to, conveniently around for your pleasure and amusement?” I spat, my anger still in control despite the number of tears shed.
He looked angrily at me then. “You know that’s not it, you know that’s not even CLOSE to the truth!”
“Then what is the truth, huh? Because that’s all I know, Eric and how do I know what are lies and what aren’t any more?”
“You trust me!”
“I DID trust you and look where it got me.”
“So what are you saying? You don’t trust me anymore because of this? Despite everything we’ve been through? That’s it for me?”
“Why didn’t you tell me…?”
He was silent.
“I was scared ok? Is that what you want to hear? I was scared to tell you because I knew what you’d think, I knew you’d think less of me if you knew that I’d gotten together with a girl that I didn’t even love. Hell, I didn’t even like her most of the time. And that yes, for a time I did indulge in my whims and my needs and my wants, and I indulged in them with her. But how could I tell you that? I didn’t even know if I was coming back, Sookie. Then you tell me you’re staying here and it became a hundred times worse! It was a stupid mistake.”
“It was worse, you know why? You gave everything you had to a girl you didn’t even love. How stupid is that? What if she loved you? What if she had gotten pregnant or something, Eric? What then? You’re stupid mistake would have ruined so many lives.”
“Sookie, I’m not perfect okay? I don’t claim to be perfect and non-perfect people make mistakes. I don’t know how many other ways to say it.”
“You shouldn’t have to say it, if even for one second you thought it was the right thing to do—for you and her to be together. Then maybe it wasn’t wrong. Maybe I’m upset for nothing and this is the mistake.” I gestured between the two of us.
“Don’t say that you know that’s not—”
“What do I know, Eric? Like I said, every action has a consequence and this was yours. It was your life and you were and are free to live it. You don’t owe me anything.”
“No, really think about it? We’re entirely too co-dependent on each other and that’s not right. It’s your choice to love or not love, who you choose to be with or not be with. Just like it’s my choice to do the same. And I choose not to be having this conversation anymore.”
I wiped my tears and took a deep breath and started to walk back towards the bar.
“I came back because of you.” He said in the darkness. It stilled me in my tracks.
“What?” I said without turning around.
“I came back to Louisiana, because of you.”
No. I couldn’t handle this right now.
“Don’t okay, don’t you dare lay this one on me!” I yelled making my way back towards him again. “You can’t do that, Eric. I didn’t force you to—”
“No, you didn’t force me, Sookie, but I came anyways. I came back because I missed you! I came back because god damn it woman, I love you.”
“No, you don’t.”
“Yes…I do.” He said shakily, “I always have. I just didn’t know it, and that’s…the main reason why I didn’t tell you about her. Because having you look at me the way you looked at me when you found out—God Sookie, it was worse than getting stabbed in the gut and believe me I know what that feels like.” He smiled slightly at his own joke.
“You’re just saying this to win the argument.” I argued. Before he came close to my face again, tilting down to tuck some of my hair behind my ear.
“Maybe, but it doesn’t make it any less true, Stackhouse. I love you.”
I felt a little dizzy after my outburst. I’d yelled. I’d cried. I was drunk—that much I was sure of—but I still knew that it felt good to purge all those crazy thoughts out of my head. I didn’t dare look at Eric; I didn’t know how I’d ever look at him again after making such a confession. I turned on my heel to leave but he grabbed my hand, and with his other free hand he grabbed my arm and pushed me back against the wall. I didn’t have time to react or even think before his lips were on mine. Both his hands made their way up my arms, onto my neck and into my hair as his mouth pressed against mine over and over again. Feeling his breath as he parted my lips with his—gentle at first, then faster and with more force—and feeling his tongue explore my mouth was overwhelming to me. His hands continued to grip my hair, almost painfully but the pain wasn’t something that I minded, in fact, it felt amazing. He pushed me against the wall again gently using his legs to wedge a space in between mine, causing my dress to rise up slightly.
My heart was beating so fast I could hear it in my ears. I felt his breath on my neck and I heard him struggle to breathe just as much as it felt I was struggling. I felt one of his hands ghost up my thigh and I kept my eyes closed, for fear if I opened them that this wouldn’t’ be real, and I needed him to be real right then. We broke apart to catch our breath; Eric looking at me as if I had all the answers to the burning questions inside him at that moment. Looking at me as if I were the most amazing thing he’d ever seen. That look alone made me blush harder than anything he might have been doing with his hands.
He buried his face in my neck again, grinding himself into me and invading my body with his fingers all at the same time. The invasion was different—obviously being untouched, it felt odd and exciting and wonderful all at once. It was as if I could feel every drop of blood travelling through my body, each cell just craving for his touch. And touch he did. For a man that couldn’t multitask at the best of times, he was certainly making up for it now.
We were interrupted by a gasp coming from the other side of the alley. Breaking apart at record speed I was both relieved and mortified to find Amelia standing there, her eyes wide and her mouth agape.
“Sook, when I said let loose, I didn’t think you’d let it all loose! Making out with strange men in alleyways is a big no-no sweetie.”
I laughed awkwardly at her comment. I was drunk—definitely drunk, and Eric stood there looking embarrassed and panicked.
“Ames he’s not some stranger…” I took a deep breath and smoothed out my skirt “Amelia Broadway, this is Eric…Eric Northman.”
Her mouth shaped like an ‘O’ before she smirked. “Well hello tall blonde and beautiful…I’d offer to shake your hand Eric, but I don’t know where those hands have been tonight so let’s save that for another time shall we?” She winked. I swear I could almost feel Eric cringe next to me.
“Hi, um, well this is embarrassingly awkward to say the least. I’ve heard a lot about you Amelia. It’s finally nice to put a face to the name.”
“Likewise.” She continued to smirk.
“What you just saw…” Eric began with various amounts of unease escaping in his voice.
“Was none of my business, in fact my memory is slight fuzzy so you know, I might not have even seen anything. But had I saw something, I’d tell those people I saw doing that something that for people in their …line of work, it’s probably not the best idea to go about satisfying the craving you have for one another in public.” Amelia nodded to both of us.
Oh God, my heart stopped. Had it been anyone else walking in on us like that, everyone would have known.
Stupid! Stupid drunk impulses.
“Sook, I came out here looking for you. Alcide said you left with some guy, I was worried! Though…” She sized Eric up and down before making eye contact with me and raising her brows like the gossip she was. “I see I didn’t have anything to worry about. You are in very cute, very large capable hands…Literally.”
I blushed so hard that I could almost feel the heat radiate off my skin.
“Tray is leaving with Alcide to go back to their place and he wanted to give us a ride back to my place on the way…but if you’re not um, done? We can just…”
“No! I’m done, I mean, we’re done… I mean, we’re fine. It’s fine… I can go.” I rambled trying my best not to make eye contact with Eric.
“Sookie?” Eric began as Amelia took that as her cue to give us a moment alone. Holding both our coats, she walked off down the alley again.
“Eric, I’m really tired, and I think a little worse for wear on the whole drinking thing so can we just not have some huge discussion about what just happened right now? Please?”
He smiled. “No, no discussion—not now, but we do need to make up our minds here Sook, and I wasn’t kidding around before. I love you.” My heart skipped a beat again as he said it before leaning in to kiss my cheek. “And that’s not going to change. But the real question here is, how do you feel about me? That’s what I need to know.”