Putting Sookie to rights as we both stood there rather awkwardly not talking. So much had happened in a matter of minutes. I wanted to remain in control and just kiss her, but then she seemed to want more, and really, who was I to deny her…especially since it was what I wanted too. More than that, I needed her to know what it was to feel good; and to be the one to make her feel good? Well, that was just too amazing. As surprised as I was that she allowed it to happen, it quickly became overshadowed by the presence of Geraldine and Bill storming through the entrance of the church to get to the convent. Sookie visibly tensed up, even though there was zero chance of them spotting us from up this high, or since they were both in too much of an angry rush to notice anything but their own egos.
“That was odd, I wonder who they were talking about.” She said.
“Niall most likely, I mean, I haven’t been here long at all in a working capacity, so it would have to be Niall right? I just wonder what the hell is going on and why it all seemed so urgent.”
“Don’t say hell.” She chided.
“What?” She looked at me still full of innocence as if I hadn’t pushed her over the edge with just my fingers moments ago.
I leaned down to whisper to her, ” I just had my hands inside you a few minutes ago, causing you to writhe around and moan with want…and you’re telling me off for saying ‘hell?'”
Her face turned three shades of red, it was adorable.
“You what?” I teased.
“You’re a jerk!” She screeched flouncing off to grab her cleaning supplies. I thought she was mad at me and I stood there dumbfounded for a second, before I saw her come back around the corner again with a smile on her lips. “But you’re my jerk.” She kissed me once—more of a peck on the lips—before she told me it was roast pork for dinner and not to be late; otherwise she’d be forced to sit beside Selah again, and she definitely didn’t want that.
The nights were the hardest, and I don’t just mean that in the most obvious sense of the word. I was having trouble sleeping. I missed her. Even though she was across a few hallways and a courtyard, I still missed her. Seeing her every day and then not being able to be ourselves around each other was hell.
We managed to go another two weeks, and on the last day of September Niall summoned me into his office.
“I have news. Please, sit.” He was shuffling papers, his glasses perched on the edge of his nose as usual.
“You know the bishop friend of mine, Earl?””The one you were helping out before?””Yes, well it seems his pneumonia has returned and he needs my help again. Only this time, well I’m not sure how long I’ll be gone really, but I’ll be needing an extra hand for a few weeks at the very least. His parish is much larger than this and it really takes more that I can give. How he’s done it alone all these years, I’ll never know.”
“So, you’re saying I should go with you?” I can’t say I was all that happy about the prospect of leaving.
“No. I’m taking Bill. I was extremely pleased with how you handled things here last time Eric, and doing so with so little experience, well, my boy, it made me very proud.” He looked at me with a genuine love, or something very close to it, in his eyes. It knifed me in the heart to know I’d been lying to him about Sookie and myself.
“I see. You know he won’t take that well.””Oh, I know.” He smiled. ” But I’m his boss, so he can pout all he wants. Besides, it’ll give me a chance to suss him out. If what you told me a few weeks ago it true, then he is most definitely up to something, and I for one intend to find out what it is.”
He nodded. “I have been known to use my brain on occasion, yes.”
“So wait, this means I’m the only priest here for a few weeks? Are you sure? I mean, what if I screw up.”
“You won’t. I have faith in you, Eric.”I cringed inwardly so hard I think I sprained a muscle. All I heard in my head was my little voice going ‘you’re lying to him Eric lying liar who liiiies.’ Not good.
“Thank you, Niall, I… that means a lot.””Well, it should. I don’t trust just anyone.”
Hell… I’m not going to hell, I’m IN hell.
“Run along, I have things to do and you…Well, I’m sure Sookie is around here somewhere for you to go and annoy.”
He looked at me over the rim of his glasses. Oh yeah, that was definitely my cue to leave.
I walked along the grounds for a spell, deciding what was to come of all my actions.
Every time I talked with Pam she’d just tell me to get my head out of my ass and come to New York; that she was handing me a new life on a platter, and all I had to do was take it. I knew she had bartered a deal with her father—in part out of guilt. I hated that she felt guilty over something that happened so long ago, and in all honesty, something she had no control over. I told her as much every time she brought it up too. While I held my faith (the faith I’d always had), it wasn’t strong or particularly inspiring but it was what it was, and it was mine. I had it and it had me, but I knew it wasn’t strong enough to keep me here indefinitely. I’d always leave if that’s what she wanted, and really it was her decision. Our lives, while we shared similarities to a certain point—were totally different. I got out of here, I got to see part of the world, I got to live. She… she’s never been farther than New Orleans. I wanted her choice to leave to be just that, her choice. While I’d like nothing more than to go in guns blazing and convince her of what an amazing life I could try and offer her, I couldn’t do that. I wouldn’t want her looking back on us, on herself in years to come and think that I had somehow manipulated her.
No, if she wanted to leave she’d have to make the choice, and take the steps to do so, herself.
In the mean time I figured I could either embrace our changes like I wanted to or I could pull away completely.
I was already a shit priest, let’s be honest. Niall’s faith in me meant the world, but my heart wasn’t in it. This was pulled into focus, because the first thing that popped into my head when Niall told me that I was going to be handling things alone—it wasn’t how I was going to run things, or how I was going to cope. No, the first thing that came into my head was that the priests dorms would be completely empty for up to three weeks. Which meant a world of possibilities for Sookie and I.
I checked the kitchen for her but, no sign. I’d been in the garden and there was no sign of her there either. So, of course, the last place I check is where she is. I’d forgotten she’d be teaching that day, so I decided to pay her a surprise visit. Knocking on her classroom door, she answered with a happy, yet surprised look on her face. The kids of course, were paying close attention to me. They all looked so small sitting at the little desks; most of them pale and skinny with big sad eyes. This place sort of had that effect on you.
“Sister Stackhouse, I was uhh wondering if you’d mind if I visited for a little while?”
She smiled and showed me in. The kids, it seemed, were instinctively scared of me. Something to do with the height and the collar perhaps.
“Of course, come in, take a seat wherever you find one.” She walked to her desk, to finish whatever it was she was doing while I looked for a seat. The only one I could find was a child-sized one in the corner. I figured I’d give it a go, for comedic value if nothing else.
It paid off when I tried to squeeze myself into it; all the kids laughed though they tried not to. I hammed it up for their benefit bending my knees right up to my chin to try and sit. One of the youngest little girls began to giggle so hard she got the hiccups.
“Mindy. Settle down.” Sookie warned, but was laughing herself, so her warning held very little weight.
I decided to try and get up again, but as I did I heard the crack.
Before I knew it the class had erupted into giggles as the chair smashed under my weight.
“Oh…I…” I faked surprise and Sookie was laughing silently into her palm, trying no doubt to be the example to her class.
“Okay, Father, how about you just take a seat on the table? It’s old oak. I’m sure it can hold you.”
The kids laughed again.
“That’s a good idea, Sook–, Sister.”
“Hey kids, what do you say we get Father Eric to read to you for a while, while I finish up grading your essays?”
A resounding ‘yes’ was shouted in her direction before she told Anna to fetch me a book.
The little girl, who in height maybe reached my knee caps, was four years old and missing several of her teeth on the top of her mouth. She smiled at me, showing off all her gaps. She was too adorable with her little brown pigtails, which Sookie had no doubt done for her.
The book she’d chosen was an almost finished Charlotte’s Web. I looked to Sookie.
“It’s okay. I’ve already explained to them what happens to Charlotte.”
I nodded before opening and beginning where she’d stopped. The kids seemed to eat it up. They all sat completely enthralled as I told them the happenings of the story they’d already been so invested in. After I read at least two chapters, Sookie announced that that was about enough for today and to give Fr. Northman a break. They protested of course, but she told them they could have five extra minutes of recess or five extra minutes behind after the final bell if they kept complaining. Needless to say they bolted.
“That was kinda fun.” I mused.
“Story time usually is; it’s the only time they’re silent.”
“Can I kiss you?” I whispered into her ear, standing behind her desk.
I could sense her smile. “No, not right now. Too risky.””Oh, okay.””Was there a reason you came to see me?”
“Actually there was. Niall has to leave again. For a few weeks at least.”She spun around to face me then. “REALLY? Oh, that means his friend is sick again. I shouldn’t feel so happy about that.””Eh, sure you should. We don’t really know him, so who car—”
“Okay… fine. But look, it not only means that Niall will be gone for a few weeks but…He’s taking Bill with him!” I grinned. Happy news was happy news.
“Really?””Really. So…I mean it…gives us time to—”
“Fool around again?” She suggested with a cheeky grin.
“It’s not just fooling around, not for me.” I hated my voice right then for giving away just how slighted I felt.
“Eric, I didn’t mean it like that I just meant—””But it’s not. You know that right? I’m not doing this lightly, Sookie.””I know…” She got up and walked over to where I sat. “Hey, look at me, Eric. I know that’s not it, okay?””I feel just as bad as you do you know. Sookie, I know we’re not meant to be feeling what we feel, but I can’t help it. Believe me, I’ve tried.””I know sweetie.” She stepped between my legs as I perched on her desk. She petted back my hair in a gesture I found extremely comforting. “I know it’s not easy for you either, and I know you just act like it is because that’s what you do. You like to pretend things aren’t as bad as they are because you think that’s what everyone wants to hear.”
Yeah my girl knew me inside out.
“I do, do that don’t I?””Mmmhmm, always. Even when we were kids.”
“So what now?”
“We… act our age for a little while.” Sookie suggested.
“Who are you and what have you done with Sookie?” “She’s still here, she just maybe wants to enjoy herself for a little while…Maybe.””And how does she plan on enjoying herself?”
She gave me the most mischievous grin I’d ever seen from her, before she turned on her heel to walk out of the classroom.
SPOV:I watched from the window as Niall talked with Bill in the garden. Creepy Compton didn’t take it too well, whatever the topic was. If I had to guess, it was on his impending departure from dear ole St. Jude’s for a spell. He was hand gesturing to high heavens with a sour—well a more sour than usual look on his face. I couldn’t help but smile. Not that other people’s misery made me happy, just his misery.
So much had happened in such a short space of time, well for me at least. Having talked or, listened to Ame’s advise on all things sex, I decided that if Eric wanted to touch me like I touched him, then why the heck not? So…I let go for a second and oh my GOD. I can’t even understand how it happened it was just so intense. One minute we were kissing like fools, and the next I felt him rip my stockings aside, and I did nothing to stop it. My mind is mush when it comes to what happened next. As much as I tried to concentrate on kissing him, all I could feel was him, feeling me. His long fingers made short work of me, finding parts of me that seemed to have been calling out for him for a while. He was rough but not too rough; I knew he was holding back. I could almost feel from within him that he has so much more he was willing to give me—and I don’t just mean the sizable bulge in his pants.
Within minutes I was teetering over the edge of sanity and I felt that if he stopped what he was doing, so too would my heartbeat. Something was building inside of me that I’d never ever experienced before, and all I knew was he needed to never stop. But then it hit me—whatever ‘it’ was—and I suddenly became hypersensitive; his touch went from pleasurable to uncomfortable and back to amazing again. All I knew was when he set me down on my feet, my legs felt like they’d been replaced by jelly. That’s when the mood went from playful and sexual to weird and odd. Whatever Bill and Geraldine where up to, it couldn’t have been good…They seemed as in cahoots as Eric and I were, only for the sake of planet earth I hope the reasons weren’t the same. Geraldine was almost twice Bills age; I mean God she was old enough to be his mother for cryin’ out loud. Allowing Eric such intimate access to my body changed a number of things for me. First of all, I didn’t fear his touch as much as I had before. His touch gave me pleasure, and that was something I just wasn’t used to. Since for most of my life whenever someone would have touched me, it was meant to intimidate or cause me pain. Not in his case; in his case it was to push me into a heavenly state that I never wanted to recover from. I was knocked from my daydreaming when Niall entered the kitchen with a forlorn look on his face.
“Sookie my girl, tell me you have coffee in the pot. Though I may need something stronger after my run in with Fr. Compton.”
I smiled at him and without a word I poured him a cup of the black stuff. But before I gave to him, I snuck in a measure of whiskey. When he gave me a questioning look, I just shrugged.
“I made it Irish; it’ll do you no harm.”
He took an appreciative sip. “You’re an angel.”
“Yeah, a real angel liquoring up priests in my spare time. It’s a really angelic calling.” I mocked.
“Ah now, from all I’ve heard you are an angel. The way Eric talks about you, you may as well have fallen from heaven.”
Oh. I tried not to blush but he caught it.
“Ah dear girl, I know you two have a complicated history but that boy really does care for you, you know.”
“I know.” If only he knew just how much I knew Eric cared for me. He’d be appalled.
“Eric puts on a show, you know that better than anyone—all airs and graces to pretend he doesn’t feel things like other people do—but in reality he feels them, perhaps more deeply because he keeps that part of himself hidden away.”
“I know that.””Then you know that while he seems strong and capable for whatever life throws at him, in reality Sookie his…heart is quite fragile.””I hold no ill will towards his heart, Father.”He looked at me knowingly. Whatever it was he thought he knew, I didn’t know, but he knew something as he looked me in the eye. “That’s good to hear, Sookie. Very good to hear. You look out for him while I’m gone you hear? Make sure he doesn’t get into too much trouble, and please for the love of all that’s holy, please limit his coffee intake.”
I laughed out loud then, it was an unexpected request.
“Sookie, I’m serious you don’t know what it’s like to be trapped in that office with him when the caffeine hits! It’s like tornado Eric has touched down!”
“I’ll do my best to take care of him, Niall.”He patted my hands on the table before taking his very Irish coffee back to his room to pack as I contemplated my promises to him. I was planning on taking care of Eric, just perhaps not at all in the way that Niall had imagined.
I’d been in my room for an hour. I’d tried sleeping but that just wasn’t happening. I had far too much on my mind. I’d even taken to listening to the radio, the one luxury Niall insisted we were allowed. I didn’t think the nuns even got the option of a small radio in their rooms, but Niall received one as a gift in Rome, so he gave me his older smaller one. It did the job just fine, and it helped to filter out the sometimes deafening silence. Niall had been gone since that evening with Bill, pouting like a six-year old, in toe. Bill was not happy about the situation. Geraldine had even attempted to make excuses for him to stay, all of which Niall fended off nicely by saying what a good job I’d been doing before and that he had faith in me and it might not kill her to do the same. Her pout matched Bill’s almost comically by the time they were leaving for the train. I knew I should at the very least get ready for bed properly, but something stopped me. So there I sat in my dress pants and black tank top reading the remains of my dive into East of Eden. Having not seen Sookie since her little cryptic departure the previous evening, I’d given up thoughts of her to lose myself and hopefully some time, in my book. I had been pleasantly enjoying the misadventures of Adam and his family when I heard a knock on my door. It was slight and almost timid, but it was definitely a knock.I got up slowly, not sure if the person on the other side would come baring bad news. After all, Niall didn’t call when he would have arrived and he was always a stickler for punctuality where his travels and requests were concerned.
Instead, the person on the other side of the door wasn’t, I didn’t think, baring bad news or any news at all. She was just there, in her white cotton night gown down to her ankles and red socks adorning her tiny feet.