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Chapter three! I meant to post this yesterday, but I was working on chapter 4 and forgot! Thanks again so very much for all the adds, and messages and reviews on here and on FF it’s just so encouraging, it’s wonderful at inspiring me to keep writing! We meet Miss Pamela this chapter, the minx! 😉

 

 

Sookie

****

 

Lord Niall didn’t return within the week as promised, but did return in the middle of the next week and with company too. The day of his arrival was unlike any day I’d seen since I arrived. Everyone was happy, joyous even, on news of his actual journey home, and that he’d arrive before the night was out. Everyone was in the mood for stories, none more so than my cleaning partner of the day, Amelia.

“Oh, it was ever so sad when Lady Brigant passed; he mourned her like no other man I’ve ever seen. To be honest with you, I don’t think it’s something he ever really got over himself…” she shook her head, helping me dust as we both stood on ladders, taking care of the giant chandeliers. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to ask, the subject no one talked about.

“What about his daughter?”

She grimaced, “Oh that … well…”

I wasn’t stupid, I’d worked out for myself that Niall’s daughter was someone very dear to Eric, but who she was to him I was not sure. All I knew was that Eric’s face was the one in mourning now, I just wanted to know what for.

“She and Mr. Northman were … together?”

“Aye, not for long mind you, but they were. Miss Sophie was … unusual. She was what Eric liked to call a ‘free spirit’ though it drove her father to his edge at times. She refused to adhere to his rules, and even less to those of a husband. She refused countless men’s offers of marriage too, leaving Niall rather ashamed. But she was sure she wasn’t going to marry just anyone,” she smiled. “And then Eric came along, and he seemed to be her match. It was actually rather beautiful to watch unfold … But…”

“But what?” I asked, ignoring the fact that Eric had used the same words to describe me. I wasn’t sure if that was good, or bad.

She sighed. “He got called to service, for the war, and he had to go before they even got married. She was distraught, but she soon began planning for their life together, and it seemed to satisfy her for a time, within the long periods of sadness she’d fall into in his absence.”

“Oh, that’s so awful. How horrible for both of them.”

“Indeed. He wrote when he could of course, and he did return … but it was two years before he did so and he was injured, and by then they’d both changed so much. He more so than her, he’d lost a little of his shine, unsurprisingly if you ask me. All he had to have seen and done out there fighting to keep us safe? I don’t think it was ever something Miss Sophie considered. She just wanted the man she knew back, but he’d grown up…”

“And she’d stayed the same.”

Oh the poor girl, I thought, as I dusted.

“Yes, that and losing her brother Victor years before to the Titanic of all things… well, it was all a little much for everyone here to deal with.”

“But they married?”

“Aye, they married anyway, still in love, just… a little at odds. She got pregnant right away, and that, for a time at least seemed to bring the ‘old’ Eric out of his shell. And for a long time things were wonderful between them, Niall was happy again, the house was happy again.”

I sensed doom in her tone. I could gather what happened, and I instantly ached for Eric, so sorry that he had to go through all he had.

“Then the baby started to be born, and it all went wrong. One day she was here, swollen and happy with a grin on her face, the next they were both gone. I’ve never seen two men take it as hard as I have in Lord Niall and in Eric.”

“That’s so awful, twice the loss … thrice counting Victor, how tragic.”

“Indeed … indeed. So you see, that’s why we just leave him be. After their deaths he became somewhat … violent.”

I was shocked, he seemed so mild mannered.

“How so?”

“Angry at himself mostly, but with drink he’d just take it out on whoever would cross his path. He would always apologise afterward, but his outbursts were mean, and rather frightening at the time. Now though, he seems more…” she shrugged. “Accepting of it all, I suppose.”

“Oh … right. Still, it’s all very sad.”

“It is, but you can’t tell him I told you, or anyone else for that matter. It’s something we just don’t discuss, not with him around, and definitely not with Niall-”

“I promise. Thank you, it has cleared up a lot of questions I had about everything.”

She nodded.

“Let’s get this done, shall we?”

I agreed. I hated heights, and I wasn’t great going up or coming down.

***

The night Lord Niall actually arrived, the flurry of activity was somewhat entertaining within the house. She was run like ship at full sail, busy, and with an air of excitement none could quite place. Everyone had something to do, or somewhere to be, and there was a classic feast prepared for the occasion. His guests, I was told, were close personal friends of the Lord, and would be staying for an undetermined amount of time. I wasn’t surprised. Most of these people were dripping in very old money and didn’t have to worry about silly little things like jobs. They could stay here forever it if suited everyone, and in some homes, some did!

“Oh Susi, good!” Mrs. Fortenberry said as I rounded the corner of the kitchen.

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“I’m just at the end of my tether. So much still needs to be made right for his Lordship and well… all the men are tending to the grounds and what not and Mr. Northman needs his dinner attire, you can go give it to him, won’t you?” she had the pile of clothes, clean and pressed in hand already.

“Of course.”

She stepped back. “Are your hands clean? Last thing we need right now is you soiling one of-”

I held up my hands, to show her proof that yes I was clean.

“Good girl. Off you go then.”

Making my way from the kitchen, up two staircases, three hallways and then the grand staircase itself, it was always a mission not to spill anything. But this time I had only clothing and I managed to get to his door in one piece, not having to knock since for once the door was wide open, and I was happy to see the window were too, letting in some much needed air to the usually dark and dank room. I made my way inside just as he came out of the adjoining door that led to his bathroom, he smelled clean even from where I stood, and it was a smell that suited him – unlike that of day old whisky or rum. I carried on in silence for a few minutes before we met face to face, and he grimaced.

“They told you then?” Eric said.

“I’m sorry?”

“They … the others, they told what happened between Sophie and I, then?”

I didn’t know what to say. What could I say? So, I did the smart thing, and I did not say anything.

“You look at me now, like they do.”

“How do I-”

“You looked at me just … differently before, now you have the same look in your eye when you look me that they all do when they look at me,” he said sadly, and there was a beat. “Pity, I think, or something…” he said, whipping off his waistcoat.

“Whatever it is, I don’t like it. And if you do pity me, I ask you to stop. I don’t want your pity; I don’t want anyone’s pity.”

I shifted, uncomfortable where I stood.

“Your clothes, for dinner,” I said, laying them out on the bed one by one changing the subject.

“Someone should be up shortly to-”

“I don’t need assistance, I am capable of dressing myself you know,” he said, clipped before his demeanour changed. “”I’m sorry…”

“It’s alright, Sir.”

“How come you allow me to address you by your first name, but you won’t extend me the same gesture?”

“Because, Sir, you’re a gentleman.”

“Says who?” he smirked.

“Says … well, everyone.”

“Ah, and so because everyone says something, surely it must be true then?”

I knew that not to be the case but this was an entirely different matter.

“Well, no…”

“So then who’s to say I really am a gentleman? Perhaps I’m merely… a scoundrel.”

“Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing?” I offered with a smile.

“Yes, exactly, if I were a mere scoundrel would you address me by my name then?”

“I suppose I would have to, wouldn’t I? But, society tells me you are worthy of respect by their standards, and by their standards we all must adhere … or else there would be … anarchy.”

“Are you … mocking me, Miss Stackhouse?”

“I would never do such a thing, Sir,” I said with a smile that said otherwise. “Now you really ought to change. Mrs. Fortenberry is all a flutter at the news of Lord Niall’s return.”

He sighed.

“If I must, I must, but I really don’t see the need for assistance for a simple dinner, I can do it myself. ”

“Well I would hope so.”

Oh, no, not again. My eyes went wide and I slapped my hand over my mouth.

“You would?” he asked, cocking a brow in my direction as he unbuttoned his shirt. It pained me to look the other way.

“I…”

“Say what you were going to say, Sookie.” His tone was even, and that scared me; it gave me no hint of his emotion.

“I just think that a man your size and age should very well be able to dress himself, if only for dinner, unless you have issues with bow ties, everything else is fairly simple.”

He smiled, and I think my heart stopped. His hands stopped what they were doing and they rubbed his chin, his scruff forming rather quickly into a dark blond beard.

“It is simple. Sometimes I admit I have issue with certain items that I am required to wear, but otherwise you’re right, I see no reason why I need a valet, other than society telling me so.”

I nodded, straightening out his room a little while he talked. I needed to keep my hands busy. They distracted my mouth and kept me silent.

“Society tells me a lot of things, Sookie. As you said, it tells you that I am gentleman, yet I have done nothing to prove that so to you. It tells me that you are a maid and as such don’t deserve the same level of respect as I, or people in my position monetarily deserve. It tells me I need to wear all this,” he motioned to his attire on the bed, “just to eat dinner with a group of people, most of whom I don’t even like! It tells me a lot of things, and most of the time I just wish it would shut up and let me be,” he said, exasperated as he sat on the bed with a bounce.

I still said nothing, simply holding the silk bowtie in my hands.

“Say something, will you? The silence is deafening.”

“You’re disgusting.”

He looked at me, stunned, and honestly I think I was just as stunned as him.

“Excuse m-”

“No, you asked to hear what I think, and that’s what I think. There are other people in the world that would kill to be in the position that you are in, people with no money, no home, no lavish dinners being prepared and served by other people every day. And you, you sit there as if it’s this huge burden! To be waited on hand and foot, to have your every whim realized without much effort on your part at all! It’s disgusting, and I think you need to grow up, that’s what I think.”

Oh, God. I was completely sacked this time. In fact, I was sure he’d just skip the sacking and chop my head right off. I always was too quick with my mouth, at least that’s what Bill would tell me before … well, before things got ugly.

The sweat started to break on my skin, and I thought for sure my heart was about to beat out of my chest!

He sat there, his shirt open, the dim light of the room not really giving me a clear view of his face. I didn’t know what his mood was, and that worried me.

“You know nothing of my life, Sookie. Nothing!” he said, getting louder with each word.

“And you nothing of mine, and yet here we are.” I held my ground, not really sure where my strength came from, but I wasn’t to be bullied. Not by any man, never again. He stood up, and as it always did, his height seemed to shrink the room, and my lungs as he stepped closer to me. Before either of us had a chance to speak again, there was a polite knock on the door, causing me to step back. Bobby had come to fulfil his duty as valet, a polite smile to go with his knock as he entered allow me to exit without so much as another glance in Eric’s direction.

 

****

 

 

We stood in line, as was their custom to greet his Lordship and his guests. My nerves kicked in something fierce, and I thought for sure I would see my dinner again if I were to speak. His Lordship entered first, two other servants by his side, and the women. We curtsied as he acknowledged us in passing. He stopped when he got to me, and I swore my heart did too.

“Oh it is so good to be back, something smells amazing. I do so hope it’s a roast, Mrs. Fortenberry, you know my favourites,” he smiled, and then he got to me. His smile faded for a split second as he took me in.

“You’re new.”

“Yes, Sir.”

He looked to Mrs. Fortenberry, then to me, and she took the liberty of speaking for me, which I didn’t like very much.

“She’s Sookie Stackhouse ma’ Lord, from the agency in London, they sent her to us as a replacement, she’s been working out well so far at least, neat and tidy too.” I thought that was the closest thing I would ever get to a compliment from Maxine, and I chose to take it as such.

“I see… where are you from girl?” he asked, his voice gruff with age, but friendly.

“America, your Lordship.”

“Oh, really? That’s interesting isn’t it? You might find one of my guests most agreeable then, she too is an American. How nice, how nice indeed,” he said, walking on mid sentence to the stairs where he and the two other servants ascended.

Then the other guests arrived and introduced themselves, which was unusual, usually the man of the house did introductions, but Niall seemed as though he had somewhere else to be instead. In came Lady Selah Pumphery the young wife of Lord Pumphery. According to Amelia they owned more land in England than God himself. She was followed by Miss Pamela Swynford De Beaufort, heiress to an oil fortune from Texas, I was told. She never married, though it wasn’t for the lack of suitors either. Following her we had a Mr. John Quinn, owner of a well to do events planning business that he ran out of London and New York – new money, so Mrs. Fortenberry said. Each guest had their own servant, which meant a lot more extra mouths to feed. Pamela was the only one sans a ladies maid, to which she asked if it could be accommodated. Mrs. Fortenberry looked to me immediately.

“Yes, Miss. I’m sure Susi here would be delighted. She’s served as a Ladies Maid before, and did a wonderful job of it, and she’s also an American.”

Pamela’s face lit up for a moment. “Really?” her twang let out. “Oh that is good news, yes, please… Susi?”

I just nodded, I didn’t’ want to correct her or Maxine in front of everyone.

“Excellent, will you come now? I must change for dinner…” she asked, and made her way up the large staircase too. I had guessed this wasn’t their first time staying at the estate; they all seemed rather comfortable there. I followed Miss Pamela up to the room, the room next to Eric’s on the east wing, she knew her way there too.

“Oh I do so love this room, the views of the land are just spectacular,” she said with a happy sigh, throwing herself down on the bed. The large dark wooded four poster bed looked as comfortable as a cloud.

Her bags were already in the room, and I asked, “Shall I unpack for you, Ma’am?”

“Yes, please Susi, thank you.”

“It’s actually Sookie, Miss,” I blushed. “Mrs. Fortenberry has this thing where she forgets my name, only ever my name…” I said quietly, making her laugh.

“She is a tough old bird that one, isn’t she? And you’re from home? Where?” she asked, sitting up to pay attention to me.

“Louisiana. New Orleans specifically.”

“Really? Another Southern girl, oh that is good news.” She sighed, “I’ve been living in England for a few years now, but my mother remarried and is still back home, they come and go when it pleases them however, usually when it doesn’t please me.” She scowled but the smiled and I found her most engaging right away.

I nodded as she indicated what needed brought out first as I unpacked her neatly packed cases, one by one, and she began to undress. The other lady that I had waited on had been full of modesty, hardly ever undressing until I had the new clothes ready and waiting to go on. Pamela seemed the opposite of that, strolling around the room in her underwear and stockings and nothing more. I blushed a little, not used to the sight of another half naked woman in my presence.

“You’re pretty, Sookie… you know that?” I looked at her then, and she was staring right at me. My blush came back, this time I felt it down my neck too.

“Adorable, you aren’t used to compliments then I take it? But you are, very cute. Those baby blue eyes, those big lips… porcelain skin, what’s not to like?”

“Thank you, Miss.” I said avoiding eye contact though simply swallowing hard and going back to my unpacking. She was right, I wasn’t used to such compliments and I was not really sure what she of all people meant in complementing me in such a way.

She smiled, “Am I embarrassing you?”

“No, not at all…” I said, though I was sure my voice gave me away, causing her to giggle again as she took down her hair.

“I’ll wear the sapphire satin one for dinner tonight, my jewellery is in the smaller case, and my shoes are in the medium sized case.” Pamela was beautiful. She was very tall, and had a regal air about her, her dark golden blonde hair that landed on her shoulders and curled beautifully when it fell. She had a fixed stare too, with her green-blue eyes, one that made me as uncomfortable as her flirtatious sounding words, but I tried to take it in my stride.

“I want to see Eric, is he ready?”

I buttoned up the back of her dress, fixing the clasp at the top of her neck. She took her seat by the dressing table to admire herself as I went to take on putting her hair up.

“I believe so…” I said, teasing her hair and putting it in place with her pins.

“You don’t say much, do you? I know you’re new, but really, you can relax. When you’re with me the usual ‘rules’ don’t really apply. Selah on the other hand…” she rolled her eyes, “she’s just dreadful.”

I’d keep that in mind.

“I haven’t seen Eric since last summer, and even then I didn’t see much of him. I do so hope he’s snapped out of his reclusive stage, it really was unbecoming of someone like him.”

“I wouldn’t expect that, Miss Swy-”

“Pamela, please, my last name is such a mouthful, and I’d rather we address each other by our first names. My friends, they call me Pam, so, either or will do nicely.”

She and Eric had a lot in common it seemed.

“Miss Pamela,” I settled for, instead of making it too casual.

“Why not?”

“I haven’t been here long, but in the time that I have he hasn’t been what you might call … social.”

“Hmph,” she said looking in the mirror. “Well, I’ll just have to put an end to that.”

I finished off her hair as she applied her rouge and lip stain, she slipped on her shoes and did a little twirl.

“How do I look?”

“Lovely, just lovely,” I admitted, because, well, she did.

“Good. Is he still rooming next door then? I think I’ll go and make a nuisance of myself, care to watch?” she asked cheerfully.

After my last exchange with Eric, I was hoping to avoid him altogether. I smiled and politely declined.

“No, Ma’am, I have work to be seeing to, but you go ahead. Dinner will be another ten minutes or so.”

She nodded as we both made our way out the door. “Thank you, Sookie. See you later?”

I nodded too, and made my way quickly down the hall that led to the grand staircase, passing Amelia and Bobby on my way by. I covered all manner of work within the estate as part of my job, but thankfully dinner was not on my rota. I don’t think I could stomach a nightly display of back-patting from rich obnoxious people being truthful. So, I happily helped in the kitchen, all the while pushing down that dreading feeling my last conversation with Eric left me. I was out of line, I knew that, and yet I also knew that he had asked for my honest thoughts. I was perhaps just a little too honest. I had to make amends, and I thought of just the way to do it. A way that might make the rest of the staff endear to me a little more too.

Who didn’t like sweet baked goods?

After I helped clean up the kitchen I began to breakout my old ingredients, right before the two accompanying servants sat at the table with some coffee.

“I’m Diantha,” the short girl that was accompanying Lady Selah offered, “and that’s Jake, he’s Mr. Quinn’s valet. You’re new, aren’t you?”

I turned to greet them, leaving my baking to one side for a moment to introduce myself and make small talk. I was happy to have it actually, since the others here had yet to include me in most of their conversations. Diantha was sweet, and she preferred to be called ‘Di. She was from Ireland and was as much a chatter box as I’d ever heard. Jake though, he was just a strange one. Silent as the grave, and had a stare that left me cold. I didn’t like him much at all, and made a note to stay as far from him as I could. I had my cake and my muffins baking nicely before I was summoned by her bell to help Miss Pamela undress, I checked the temperature once more before I hightailed it to the East wing. I wasn’t expecting to see what I saw when I entered the room.

Pamela and Eric were sitting on her bed, comfortably by the looks of things, both with drinks in their hand, and smiles on their faces.

“Oh, I’m sorry … you rang?” I said, addressing her, and she giggled, hopping off the bed, shoeless.

“Yes, Sookie I did, I need you to get me out of this dress,” she winked at me before turning her back and allowing me to access. Why Eric wasn’t doing this, I didn’t really know. I tried to push the thought out of my mind that I was undressing her to get into bed with him.

“Won’t you have a drink? They work you girls so hard here. I insist you have a drop of rum. Sookie?”

I looked at her, and she was being sincere as could be, but I still had to decline.

“No, thank you Miss.” I said, reaching the last of her buttons, and then the zips. I noticed from the corner of my eye that Eric was watching us both intently.

“Sookie, I do so hope Eric has been treating you well? If he hasn’t, you will tell me, won’t you?”

I just looked at her, and then to him, he smirked.

“He’s been fine.” I untwisted the knots on the side of her dress, remembering to breathe.

“Fine?” she asked, looking from him then back to me. He simply shrugged.

“If there is anything else, Ma’am?”

She smiled. “Don’t be too hard on him, darling, he is only a man after all. They need all the help they can get, sometimes when even they themselves do not realize it.”

“Pam…” Eric said, his tone deep and almost embarrassed.

“She’s so cute, Eric, how could you be anything other than a sweetheart to someone so sweet…” she asked him, and he just quirked his brows at her, downing his drink.

“I’ll see you in the morning, Sookie. Thank you for your help tonight,” she said when it was clear that Eric was getting just a touch uncomfortable at me being there. I thanked my lucky stars when she dismissed me.

Remembering my baking, I panicked and began to run back to the kitchen, praying that they’d be the first good thing I could do this week, without burning my fingers in the process!

***

The next morning I managed to drag myself out of bed before everyone else, and arranged a muffin on each side plate on the large table. Some were strawberry, and some were blueberry, and those who didn’t like one, I hoped would swap someone for one they did. I boiled the tea pot, and began my day. When the others came in they were surprised to see me standing there, to say the least.

“What’s this then?” Mr Dearborn asked as I stirred the pan of scrambled eggs.

“It’s breakfast, with a little extra treat that I threw together… help yourselves.”

They all and I mean all, looked at each other, and then back to me, still no one saying a word. Amelia was the first to sit, taking a big bite of her bun she smiled. “These are wonderful Sookie, do I taste some nutmeg?”

I nodded and smiled as the others took their seats. Malcolm, Diane and Liam all held matching scowls however.

“You shouldn’t be using the ingredients, what if we need them! There is a damn war going on you know, we are rationed you know!” Diane gave out, earning a scowl from Mrs. Fortenberry in return. I simply said nothing.

“Now Diane, you know that’s nonsense, for a cake and a few buns? You know as well as anyone we stock pile for baking! Thank you, Susi, this was very sweet of you.”

I smiled, ignoring their faces as everyone helped themselves to some breakfast. I had coffee, for the first time in years.

“Yes,” Di said. “Miss Selah is positively addicted to it, her father has connections, so it’s really top stuff from Brazil I believe, very expensive,” she said, sipping her cup. I was delighted as I wasn’t really a fan of the famous ‘English tea.’ It was too weak and dreary for my taste buds, but I made do. The war made it near impossible to find good coffee, and if you did, it was usually triple its normal price, and just not worth it when you had to scrimp and save. This however, reminded me of home, just a little.

“Who is the cake for?” Dawn spoke up as we began to get everyone’s breakfasts on the trays. Amelia had helped me with the upstairs fires that morning, thankfully, and we’d gotten everyone warmed up in no time at all. It also meant she did Eric’s bedroom, leaving me free of anxiousness. Pam though, she slept like the dead and was last to ring for breakfast that morning too.

“It’s for Mr. Northman. He requested I bake him something when he discovered it’s what I used to do, as a profession, before.”

The cooks rolled their eyes and Dawn simply sipped her tea, “Oh, that’s certainly interesting, what else did you and Mr. Northman talk about?” she asked, her tone far from friendly. I knew the whole table was listening, so I did my best not to blush. I did not even know why I was blushing, it’s not to say we were discussing anything inappropriate.

“Not much at all. It was during my search for Nelly. He … knew where she was, and helped me, that is all.”

“How cosy,” she remarked before getting up abruptly and putting her cup in the sink. “I have things to do,” she said, and all but stormed out into the hallway.

She was difficult to understand, that one.

 

***

I had Pam dressed in a wonderfully engaging mauve dress, and black fitted jacket. It was ever so modern, and it reminded me of the one thing I missed about London, admiring the fashions. In the stores, on the women themselves, it was all so beautiful.

“So Eric told me you put him in his place last night, is that true?” she said with a grin as she applied her makeup.

I looked at her, and she must have seen the panic in my face, “I … didn’t mean to.”

She laughed, turning to face me.

“Meaning to or not, I would have loved to have seen it. Very few people give him a piece of their minds, truthfully at least, nowadays. I’m sure his face was a picture.” She smiled.

“It was scary actually, a rather scary picture.”

“He’s harmless really, his bark is far, far worse than his bite. He just needs a little understanding.”

It was hard to understand someone when you knew so little about them though, I thought.

“He’s been through a lot, and I know you weren’t here for it, but it changed him. He was once; believe it or not, the life and utter soul of a party. He was the last one standing at every party, every dinner, charming everyone off their feet and into bed.”

I could see that, he was very charismatic underneath his armour. I can imagine what it would be like to be on the receiving end of such flirtations and charm.

She sighed. “And now, well now, he’s just a shell of himself. It makes me sad. I hope to salvage something of the old Eric one of these days though,” she said, fixing her lip stain in the mirror.

“But it hasn’t been easy, nor will it be, I see that now.” She sighed before she admired herself in the mirror once more.

 

****

 

Lunch was served in the dining room, and I volunteered this time to be the one to take care of Mr. Northman’s as he had, again, opted out of dining with the other guests. I wanted to bring him his cake, and I wanted to clear the air as best I could. While he had asked for it, my opinion was harsh and uncalled for, and it was really not my place. That, and I just wanted the anxious feeling to go away whenever I thought of him. I got to the door and heard voices behind it. He usually ate lunch alone, but with the guests in the house I did wonder why he wouldn’t join the rest of them in the dining room.

 

The door was slightly ajar, allowing me to hear a little of what was being said.

“You said you cared about me, and now what? Because there’s some new-”

“You need to calm down, Dawn,” he said, and I was slightly taken aback. What was Dawn so mad at him for? And then things started to make sense. “I never promised you anything, I never said or did anything that would make you think that what happened between us was anything more than a mistake,” he sighed.

“That’s not true, you said-”

“I said nothing, and you know that. Jesus, when we did what we did… I wasn’t myself. I wasn’t even fully capable of …” There was pacing. “I don’t know what has you so … flustered Dawn, but whatever it is, I want nothing to do with it. What I did with you was a huge mistake … I was lonely and you were … accommodating.”

“You bastard.”

“I may be a bastard, but at least I’m not lying to myself. Stop creating a fantasy in your head where there is none in reality. What we did was a mistake, nothing more, I told you that at the time. I need you to accept that.”

Dawn came storming out of the library, and at seeing me, her tear filled eyes turned mean.

“Ugh, You!” she said pushing the tray upward, leaving the top of the damn cake stuck to my chest. My apron now covered in chocolate, and my delicately decorated cake, squashed.

 

Great.

 

Eric came to the door, a tense look written all over his face.

“Did she hit you?”

“No. She ruined my apology cake though…” I commented, deflated, just like my cake.

“Come in, we’ll see what we can salvage,” he said, exhaling loudly as I walked into the darkened library.

I wondered if we could salvage the cake. I also wondered if he Pam was right, and that the Eric she knew, the well-adjusted, friendly, charming one was still in there. It seemed to me that he was, he just needed that little bit of understanding she talked about. So, for once I set aside my judgements about him and his dalliances with the help, and I tried to salvage something, something in him.

Ps. Bonus Skarsgard in a tux for a little visual …inspiration!

 

 

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