I was praising Jesus silently that I’d already had the shields up around my office that morning, because when Eric moved in for the kill, I was all but paralyzed to do much else other than respond in kind. Ten minutes, and because of my stupid rule it was ten minutes I couldn’t really protest to, since technically they didn’t exist… so I just enjoyed it for what it was. Good old fashion making out.
With my assistant.
I pushed that thought from my head, because assistant or not, he was a really good kisser. Sweet but sure, firm but not painful, and his hands just seemed magnetically attached to my body, it felt great. Part of why it felt so great, I reasoned, was because it was wrong, and not something I’d probably ever do – since Eric was right, all my other assistants had been women, and as much as Pam would have liked, I just didn’t swing that way. He had a thing for my boobs, most men were boob men, even the gays, but Eric was especially interested and for a guy that had been single for as long as he’d said – he wasn’t even rough with the girls. Most guys treated them like they were puzzles to be moved around and squished, it hurt like hell most of the time, but not Eric. Which made that, his great mouth, and the amounts of electricity between us, really hard to ignore and beyond difficult to stop.
But I had to. This wasn’t the time, and it certainly wasn’t the place. When I gently pushed his hands down, off my body, he took the hint and stepped back. And my God did he look fuckable, I’d messed his hair up, his shirt was even more untidy than normal, and his lips were red and swollen. Not to mention the look of sheer lust in his eyes, and I’m sure I wasn’t much different.
I cleared my throat, “so um… that was…”
“Ten minutes well spent?” he said, smiling.
“Eric I don’t -”
“Yes, I know, you have enough on your plate right now, this was just…what it was. I’m not expecting anything out of this. I mean other than maybe a easier afternoon because I feel a bit…odd.”
We weren’t totally high, it was impossible on half a brownie each, but between that and the sheer drug that was good kissing, we were both feeling a little light headed.
I smiled back, glad that there was no hurt feelings or no over complicated expectations.
“Good, great I mean, it’s great…and that was…nice.”
Was I feeling shy, around him, really? After ten minutes of his obvious arousal rubbing against my thigh, with nothing but my stockings and his pants to protect us both, maybe I didn’t have the right to be ‘shy’, but I sure felt it. Or maybe it was just awkward. I’d never made out with someone at work before, and it wasn’t a habit I intended to continue either. Too many complications.
For the rest of the afternoon, I’ll admit I couldn’t look him straight in the eye without blushing to some degree, and it seemed by the pink tinge in his cheeks, he was the same.
“You look…better.” Lafayette commented as I looked over his photos for the next issue of the magazine.
“Hmm.” I said, just ignoring what I was sure was a smug look on his face.
“Now Sooks, I hope you didn’t give him too hard of a time in there…”
“Eric… for the brownie. I was sure he’d rat me out, but I guess -”
“He didn’t rat you out, but he did tell me. I guess he has a conscience, unlike some of my employees…” I glared, not fully serious, and I hope he knew that by now.
“Baby girl, you both just needed to relax, and he did come out of that office looking… well… very relaxed.”
That twinkle in his eye let me know that he knew what was up, and yet he said nothing. He knew better.
“Is that right?”
“Mmmhm. You wouldn’t know nothing about that would you?”
I just raised by brow, not dignifying it with a verbal answer.
“You have a good night, Lafayette, I’m going home.”
“You do that Boss. See you at nine for Grans -”
“I’ll be here at eight…”
In truth I’d probably make it there after seven.
“Of course you will,” he rolled his eyes playfully at me, patting me on the shoulder as I passed him. The weather had finally started to pick up, it had rained for a week almost, I was hopeful that maybe the change in the weather boded well for the meeting. I was taking any sign I could get.
“Good night, Eric,” I said in passing as he was throwing his stuff in his backpack. Yes, his backpack.
“Good night… Hey, Sookie?”
“Don’t stress it, okay? She’s family, you can’t choose them, but there’s always hope it’ll never be as bad as you think it will be.”
He smiled, pushing his glasses up his nose – they were clearly too loose on him, and he needed an upgrade to stop his squinting when he read sometimes, but the gesture was appreciated.
“Thanks. Fingers crossed. See you in the morning…”
He nodded and I made my way home. I walked in to the empty apartment as usual, greeted only by Tina, my starving and grumpy cat.
“Hey girl, come on.” I said, lifting her up, “didn’t Maxine feed you today, huh? Come on.” I looked around and my cleaning lady had been, and Tina’s bowl was still full of milk, and a little food.
“You’re not hungry huh? What is it then?” I walked to the couch putting her on my lap, as I switched on the TV, just to drown out the silence. “You lonely, girl? Is that it?” She just cuddled into me.
I looked around the empty space again.
“Yeah honey, I know the feeling.”
I watched her walk into the elevator, and I watched the doors close, I wondered what she was going home to. I knew I was going home to cook dinner for a very fussy five year old, but what was she going home to? I knew her schedule, hell, I organized it for her most days, and there was never a guy pencilled in anywhere. No dates, no one on one meetings with men, so I knew she was single. So I knew making out with her wasn’t stepping on anyone else’s toes. Not that I assumed she was the kind of girl to fuck around with a bunch of people. If she did, she’d maybe be a little more relaxed than she was. I didn’t regret making out with her again, but I did regret not asking her how she felt about it. Logic told me by her reaction that she liked it, but what else that meant for doing it again, I had no idea. And I knew I didn’t want to push it because there was a lot riding on the meeting with this elusive Grandmother of hers, not just Sookie’s job, but all of our jobs. If she went, a lot of people went with her, and even though I hadn’t been there long, I’d probably have to question if I’d be one of those that would go out of loyalty – if they didn’t fire me before I got the choice, that is. I checked my watch, Ames had the girls at her mother’s til seven, I was sure they’d be well fed by Nanna Marie (as Emily called her) but I still wanted to be a some what responsible parent and get there before they’d come back. It was just after five, and I had something else I wanted to do first. For Sookie.
“Laf? You busy?”
“Does I look busy?” He did, a little, he was inspecting more samples, and it was past working hours.
“I was um, hoping you’d help me with something? I can understand if you can’t, but -”
“What is it, Newbie?”
“The meeting tomorrow morning -”
“What of it?”
“I sorta…I don’t want to let Sookie down.”
“So? Arrive early…maybe wear a clean shirt.”
“That’s what I was hoping you’d help me with. I um, want to look respectable.”
That got his attention, and he put down his sheets, spun around on his stool, and nodded at me.
“You know this stuff, you know what I should wear to make a good impression, right? I mean you know Sookie better than I do -”
“That’s debatable at this point, but carry on, yes, and I do know Gran better too.”
“Does she really make you call her Gran?”
“Yes, only if she likes you, if not it’s Mrs. Stackhouse. But they do like a well dress man, those Stackhouse women. And you…you could wear anything well -”
“Like what I have on?” I smiled, knowing he’d be annoyed.
“Eric, be better than the Gap, please? I’m talking Ford, Armani, Gucci, Prada, well made things for well made men. Be a well made man.”
I nodded. “How do we do that?”
“You really want me to do this? I mean, this isn’t a joke? ‘Cause baby I’ve been dying to get you out of those clothes since the minute I saw you -” he said, a naughty smile on his face. It sorta made me blush.
“Simmer down puppy, not like that…well, a little like that.”
He dragged me by the hand into the wardrobe department, and we passed rails and rails of women’s clothes, stacks of shoes, everything and anything you could ever need as a woman probably lived in that giant department.
“Not to insult you Eric but, you can’t choose your own clothes. I mean, they’re fine if you’re a student an all, but even then it’s pushing the boundaries of hipster fashion.”
“I’m not a hipster, I’m just not wealthy, or well versed in ‘style’.” I finger quoted. He just rolled his eyes.
“Boy, you’ve been here closing in on three months. Haven’t you learned anything by now?”
We were now in the men’s sections, again it was lots of shoes, lots of ties and cuffs, and a lot of shirts, pants and jackets all around the room in meticulous order.
“I know I like this… and this and this.” I said, grabbing grey dress pants, a light blue shirt and a skinny black tie.
He raised his brows.
“Ford, Gucci and a Dior tie, oh, Sweetie!” He smiled. “There might just be hope for you yet! Right, come with me.” He said again, in a flush of excitement, and I swear I almost saw him skip down the hall way.
“Elise, you still here?” he yelled.
“Yeah? What?” The girl that I didn’t really know but had seen a lot in passing, she was hard to miss with her bright pink hair styled like a punk rocker, and her very shiny lip ring. She was sweet though and was one of the few that actually said ‘hello’ to me when I passed. Unlike Sophie and her crew, those bitches.
“We have a project. A very special, tall and sexual project.”
I blushed as she shoved me into a makeup chair.
“I’m not wearing make up, Lafayette.” I protested.
“You, hush.” he pointed. “What do you think you could do with Eric?” He asked her, and I looked at her through the mirror.
“Oh, lots of things. Lots of lovely, lovely things,” she said as she came over and ruffled my hair, then started running her hands through it. It felt kinda nice.
“What are you d-doing?” I asked her.
“Sweetie, when was the last time you got your hair cut, properly?” she asked.
“Well, I went to Supercuts just -”
“Oh, my God stop. No,” she said, looking appalled, holding her hands up.
“Is he serious?” He asked Lafayette and he just shrugged, smiling kindly at me.
“How…why…how did Sookie hire him, you remember she sent the blonde chick home that one time because she walked in, in that hideous skirt, and just because it had like a tiny hole because it was vintage – she was sent home! And she didn’t even make it from the damn elevator.” She shook her head, and then looked at me again.
“Did you fuck her?”
“Are you going to fuck her?”
“Well, I just don’t get it. I had to work my ass off for this job and buy a ton of shit that I didn’t even want, and you walk in like a student on internship and you’re her right hand man. It’s so weird. I mean, you’re nice, but if you were a woman this shit, would not fly.”
And now I was scared of her. I pushed my glasses up again, and looked her in the eye.
“I’m sorry she made you go through that. I don’t get why she hired me either. But, I’m glad she did, and I don’t want to let her down in front of her Grandmother with my ‘student’ style, so if you’re gonna work some kind of magic on me, can we get on with it?”
She raised her brows.
“Puppy has a backbone.” She nodded to Lafayette, “ I like him.”
I exhaled a breath I didn’t know I was holding.
“Let’s get started.”
I got up at six, hopped on the treadmill for a half hour and worked out my anxious energy. Everything was in order at the office, everything was in place, all she had to do now was show up and be impressed. I loved my Gran, I really did, but she was even harder to please than I was. She always said that she gave a hundred percent of herself to everything she did, and she felt cheated when other people didn’t do the same. She was a perfectionist, and had an amazing head for business, but her trouble was, she always thought too small. I thought big. I took the company from a small national based business, to a world wide brand. That had to count for something, right?
She was due at twelve, and I had Eric out of the office all morning covering the meetings and showings that I couldn’t – or wouldn’t make. He hadn’t come into the office and I knew he’d be gone when she arrived. Half of me hoped he stayed gone, mostly because he was a nice guy. A nice guy who was good with his very large hands and a sweet kisser, and I didn’t want my Gran digging into his fashion sense, or lack there of.
Twelve came and it went and at ten past she sauntered through the doors, as if she owned the place.
Which, technically, I guess she still did.
“Sookie! Darling! The place looks amazing, when did you do it over?”
“About six months ago, now.” I said hugging her back as she squeezed me for dear life.
“Well, it’s incredibly chic, I love it, so modern but so bright, you can see everything with the office like this! I’d never have thought of that.”
“It does help to keep an eye on everyone, that’s for sure.” I added as she looked around the office, and outside it via the glass walls. Everyone was scooting past, looking busy, even if they weren’t.
“Fantastic, I love it. And how are you darling? You’re looking well, have you lost weight? Not that you need to, it’s not like you’re a model, it’s acceptable to embrace the Stackhouse rump, you know. I mean you get those breasts from my mother, that’s for sure. Your mother she barely had b-”
“I’m good, Gran, really good actually. Been working hard.”
She nodded. “Of course, as always my love you work yourself too hard.”
“Well, I love what I do. It’s not hard for me really. Since I love it so much.”
Hinty hint, hint.
“I know that,” she took a seat – my seat, and admired my new desk and the comfortable chair.
“It certainly has upgraded since I was on the floor here…that’s for sure,” she nodded, more to herself than to anyone else.
“I have the archives, all the records, everything is ready for you to look over if you’d just -”
“I think we should go out. You and I.”
“Excus…what? I mean, well of course, but now? There’s a lot to get through, Gran.”
“I’m sure there is, Love, but I haven’t seen you since…My goodness can it be since New Year‘s? That’s just unacceptable.”
It was, since it was early October now. She was right, I never made it home often, unlike the rest of the family.
“Yeah, but I’ve been busy, so I -”
“Couldn’t make it home, I know, I know, it’s the excuse always given, but we’re both here now and I’m sure the office will survive without you for one afternoon. I insist we go to lunch. My treat, we can catch up.”
“But we’ll come back and we’ll look over the -”
“Yes, yes, the business will be inspected, that’s what you want. Now indulge me darling and call a town car. I feel like something sweet today.”
I nodded and made it happen. Twenty minutes later we were in a town car on the way to one of her favourite little Italian cafes in mid-town, they did her favourite desserts.
“Isn’t this just lovely, this is lovely,” she said as we were seated in the mildly posh, but somewhat family friendly café. It wasn’t raining, but we still asked to be seated inside.
“Yes, it’s lovely.”
“Your brother is back from Hawaii with the kids, Crystal decided to stay on, but they’re visiting at the moment, I just love having those kids around, it brings me back to when you and Jason were young. Life in the house again, I’ve missed it.”
I nodded, as I looked over my menu.
I looked up at her. “Yes?”
“How are you, really?”
Weird, since she’d asked me that like a dozen times since she’d arrived, and yet, I answered again.
“I told you, I’m fine, really. Just busy that’s all.”
“Yes, Pamela tells me you’ve been too busy lately for much else other than work, that can’t be good.”
“Pamela… Pam? When were you talking to Pam?”
She shrugged, “I called her last week, we never see any of her these days either, it’s such a shame. Both of you working so much that the rest of your lives are being, well, neglected.”
“Neglected…did she say that?”
“No, of course not. Pam is your best friend, she’d never throw you to the wolves, Sookie, but I’m not a stupid woman, I can read between the lines. And those lines tell me that you’re almost thirty and painfully single. That’s just…well, it’s a little sad.”
“Sad?! Gran, I’m a busy woman, I’m running a damn Empire for crying out loud!” I whispered, harshly though. “One that you’d know about if you’d let me show you the figures like you we’re meant to.”
“Fine, if you must. Show them to me.”
“Well, I was going to, back at the office but you insisted me come here.”
“Well, can’t you just get your assistant to bring me the gist of it? I really don’t have the time, or the patience to look through hundreds of files and pieces of paper. Go on, ring her, and have her bring them to us before the end of lunch. Will that make you happy? Since you’re so intent on talking shop.”
She shook her head, as if it was the most ludicrous idea in the world, when in fact it was the whole damn reason for her ‘visit’.
I called Eric, and I told him what to bring and how fast to bring it. We were mid way through our lunch when he arrived.
Only he didn’t arrive like the Eric I knew and … well, just like the Eric I knew. No. instead I sat there, mouth agape as this …dapper, tailored, smooth lined man walked up to our table.
“The files you requested,” he said, a small smile on his face as he looked at me, I was sure I looked like I was catching flies.
“Sookie are you quite alright? Who is this?” Gran said, smiling, beaming almost, up at Eric.
He extended his hand, and holy shit someone gave him a pedicure, and introduced himself.
“I’m Eric Northman, I work for your granddaughter. You’re Mrs Stackhouse, I presume?”
She smiled again, “I am indeed, and who are you in my company, Eric? A buyer? A graphic designer?”
He smiled again, bashfully, “no Ma’am, I’m your granddaughter’s assistant.”
And with that Gran eyed me, and smiled.
“I see. Well this certainly does explain things…”
What ‘things’, I wondered.
I spoke up, finally taking my eyes of Eric and in impeccably fitted Armani suit in a shade of grey that made me notice his eyes like I’d never done before.
Jesus Christ when did this happen? His hair was cut, and styled too, he even had on new glasses – ones that fit, and didn’t swallow his face.
“Sookie, are you alright?” Gran asked.
I cleared my throat, “um yes, I’m…I’m fine.” I looked at Eric again and he still had a half grin. He was clearly loving this.
“The records?” I asked him. “They’re all here?”
“Yes, all of the ones you asked for. Is there anything else before I get back to the office?”
He asked, ever so politely. I knew he was watching himself in front of my Grandmother. It was sort of sweet.
“No, that’s all.” I said, and we went to stand up.
“No, no, no, you’ve come all the way down here, you may as well stay for lunch.” Gran said causing both Eric and I to look at her.
“What?” I said.
“Well, dear, it would be rude.”
Since when did she care about being rude to assistants? Had she had a lobotomy in the last year?
Eric looked to me, and I just shrugged.
“The spicy chicken is good here.” I said as the waiter came to take his order and I talked Gran though six months of the companies rise. I could tell he was intimidated by her, it was hard not to be. The woman had this presence that was hard to pinpoint, but it was there, and it was scary if you didn’t know her. Or even for me, trying to sell myself to her, it was scary.
I was better with strangers. With strangers I could be the Ice-Bitch, I could march in there and demand that they give me what I want, it was the act I played well, but I couldn’t do that with my Gran. I couldn’t just sit the woman down that had changed my diapers, and taught me how to sew, I couldn’t demand she give me the job I thought in my heart that I’d earned. No. I had to be tactful.
“As you can see from the last quarter, the sales are up by thirty-five percent based next to that time the previous year, I really feel like the marketing campaigns and the road that we’re taking, I really see that it’s working for us, and letting the brand run, it’s been amazing this year, it really has.” I said, and she nodded along, pleased and smiling at times, loving the stories, and the tales of woe, and then it came down to it. I had to broach the subject or I felt like my head was going to explode.
“Gran, let’s get down to brass tacks here,” as she used to say when we’d ‘beat about the bush’.
“And what’s that, Dear?”
“You know what that is. You’re passing on CEO to someone, and I want that someone…and more to the point YOU should want that someone, to be me. Jason as President? We both know it’s in name only, we both know I do both our jobs and he just sits his ass in Hawaii most of the year except for the office parties and a few board meetings. I’m the one that’s taken control, and I’m the one that’s done the work and I’m the one that thinks a job well done should be…well… rewarded as such.” I exhaled, realizing I’d said all that in almost one breath. I noted Eric was nervously fidgeting with his napkin on the other side of the table.
Gran looked at him, then looked at me.
“You want to have this conversation with Eric here?”
I rolled my eyes, as if I gave a shit.
“I trust him to be discreet.”
“Yes, I’m sure you do.” She mumbled.
“Well? What’s your decision.”
“Honestly Sookie, you always were so impatient. It’s not one of your best qualities, you know that.”
“Truth be told…I haven’t made a decision yet as to who I want to take MY company from ME.” She said, as pointed as anything, in fact it was so pointy I felt like she’d stabbed me in the heart with it.
Eric again started to look around, as if for an exit, or maybe a sick bag. That suit though, Jesus, it looked good on him.
No, not distractions.
“So in this ‘decision’ making ‘process’ of yours, who exactly is in the running for YOUR company. Me and Jason?”
“Well, yes, and the rest of the Grand children…”
My stomach sank. Claude didn’t give a fuck about fashion, he was too busy living off his trust fund and fucking every gay man on the Spanish coast, so that left Claudine. She was the only one with any real interest in fashion, or journalism. As it stood she had a kid and a husband and lived most of the time in Connecticut, cutting her time in the Hampton’s where she ran charities and events and all kinds of shit to do with horses and rich old people. The idea of her taking my job made me sick. Mainly because she was just as ambitious as me, and could actually do it. Where as Jason wasn’t nor shouldn’t have been competition.
“I see…” I said again, fidgeting myself with my glass.
“Now, Sookie, don’t pout on me. You’re a little too old for pouting.”
I was silent for a minute before Eric spoke up.
“Maybe I should be going…”
“No, you stay there.” I snapped, and then I looked at Gran. Apparently I’d reached my quota on bullshit for the day.
“I’m not pouting but I am upset, and can you really blame me?”
“Now, Sookie -”
“No, listen, I’ve worked my ASS off, literally at some points, for this job, for this company of yours. Because I love it, I love my job and I love what I do and I do it fucking WELL. You know it and I know it and Goddamn half of the world knows it. And for you to sit there and tell me you haven’t made a choice? There shouldn’t even BE a choice, Gran.”
Eric looked like he wanted to die, and honestly it was how I felt too.
“You’re getting emotional, Sweetheart.”
“Of course I am. Gran this job is my life and you’re threatening, ever so silently to take that away from me!” I said harshly but discreetly.
“That’s the problem, love. That right there is why I’m hesitant. Your job, shouldn’t BE your whole life. You live to work and it should be the other way around.”
“So you’re punishing me for working hard, is that it? Yeah, sure that’s logical.” I snapped.
“It’s not that and you know it.”
“Then what is it?”
She sighed and turned to me fully.
“Sookie you do such an amazing job for me -”
“So then why -”
“But that’s not all you are. You are my employee, yes, but that’s not who you are to me. You’re my granddaughter first and foremost. You’re my favourite grandchild – even though you’re not ‘meant’ to say that -” she said to Eric, “but you are, and you’re that first. You’re my Sookie. My Sookie who liked to sew dresses for her dolls, and then for her friends, and then even for me. My Sookie who used to be so full of life, and promise for happiness, who everyone loved and missed when she’d be gone. My Sookie who had her pick of all the boys in the Hamptons, Louisiana and beyond, who had a social life so full you’d be spinning. Instead, now she’s chained to a desk and I see her twice a year – IF I’m lucky. That’s not what I want for My Sookie.”
I hated that that made me want to cry, but it did. Team that with the stress and the possible rejection, and I was an internal mess.
“So then…” I cleared my throat, not looking at Eric, I didn’t need him seeing me like this, “what do you want, then?”
She looked skywards and then to me.
“I want you happy -”
“No, you’re alone, and lonely, and I could tell that five seconds after seeing you. I want you to … I don’t know, Sookie, have a fuller life. I want you to stop neglecting your personal life in favour of your job, I want you to fall in love, be happy, find a man – or a woman if that’s your preference- to make you happy.”
“I’m not a lesbian as much as Pam wishes I was.”
That got a chuckle out of Eric who stifled it with his hand.
“I just don’t have time to date, or fall in love, and it’s New York, Gran. It’s not like it was when you were young, okay? Guys are different, the laws of dating are much more complex, and I just don’t care enough to find ‘the one’.”
“Well, maybe you should care. Take the time, explore your options. I‘d like to see you married some day soon, and I‘d like grandbabies with your wit, is that so much to ask?”
“I don’t have the -”
“Well now you do.”
“Yes, Jason is back and he’ll be covering your hours on Friday’s and Monday’s, so you have a four day weekend to…do with what you please.”
I felt my blood boil again.
“So, Jason waltzes back into town after seven months gone, and I’m just meant to roll over and take it? This is bullshit.”
“Sookie, I know you’re upset, but don’t you take that tone with me. I am still your Grandmother and I am not above giving you a clip around the ear when it’s needed.”
I looked at her, shocked.
“I can’t believe you.”
Her loving soft gaze was gone and now in place was pissed off Gran. I knew her well too. I’d whined too much and she’d lost patience with me. Clearly I got my impatience from her, as much as she hated that quality in me.
“When will you decide?”
“I could say, when I feel like it, but I think if I did that your head would actually explode. I want you to live life a little darling, if you come to me before your birthday and tell me you’re with someone – someone who makes you happy, makes you smile, possibly makes you chocolate pancakes-” she smiled then, knowing they were still my favourite, “then maybe I’ve taught you some balance, it‘s all I want for you. Balance.”
“And if not?”
She just looked at me, her eyes unsure, and I knew. This was her version of an ultimatum.
“If you’ll excuse me.” I said standing up fast and grabbing my purse, I looked at Eric I just shook my head. I didn’t want him following me, not when I was this close to crying. And that’s all I wanted to do. Go home, and cry.
“Sookie…Sookie don’t leave like this I -” Gran said, but I ignored her and walked on, I walked about a block, before my heels started to pinch, forcing me to get a cab home. Fuck work, they could manage without me, in fact, they’d probably have to get use to it, I thought. So I got home, I bust into tears, and I pulled on my cashmere pyjamas, and curled up on the couch to feel sorry for myself. I had no idea what I was going to do.
Hope you guys are enjoying this story so far. The updates are fewer, but they are longer, so I hope that helps the wait a little. I’ve been getting a lot of mail lately requesting that I get back to Southern Belles. What can I tell you, I go where the ideas are. When the ideas for SB comes back I promise I’ll let you know! xox Subscribe / comment! Don’t be shy! 😀