Hi guys! We finally have another new chapter for you to dig in to! Ending Southern Belles kind of depleted me for a bit, so it’s taken a little while to get back on the ball. But here we are, and with an Eric point of view to boot 😉
Sorry about yesterday… But it was a little hilarious…and a lot evil! O:)
“It simply won’t do, I’m telling you again it just won’t do!” She screeched from behind her bathroom door, before she came out a sour look to match her tone. Lady Annabel Forsyth had come to stay at the start of our second week in London; she was by all accounts the belle of every ball, and quite the socialite to boot. A Lady by birth but not in nature she was a spoiled one and she made it known to every member of staff just what she wanted and how she wanted it, with no air of manners about her person at all.
“Take this and have it altered tonight, will you, I think I might wear it in the afternoon tomorrow, or I might wear this,” she held up and pink silk dress, and in this summer heat, I wondered how smart an idea that was, but kept my opinions to myself. I took her clothes for mending, and left Amelia to take her requests for luncheon and what she would ‘prefer’ to have today since the day before she refused to eat until she discovered where all her food originated from, apparently she was against imported goods, for some strange reason or another, I wasn’t sure entirely. She was a daughter of a friend of Niall’s, and as such she was being shown off in the hopes of nabbing herself a suitable husband during the season, and she had her eyes on one man in particular. Eric Northman. Annabel was young, having just turned eighteen she was prime for London season, and the horse and pony show that it was. Apparently she had ‘many suitors’ and that they all came from ‘good money’, but Eric was different, he came from lots of money, and stood to inherit even more when Niall died. She was almost giddy at the prospect of it all. Sadly for her Eric had left a week before, to go stay with Pamela, and he hadn’t returned since. She had spent most of her week with us, choosing outfits and perfecting her hair and topics of conversation of which to impress him, it was all very calculated. Eric and I on the other hand, well, he was clearly having problems with my boundary insistence, and as such we barely spoke three words to each other before he left to ‘give me all the space I’d need’. It was fairly safe to say he was annoyed, but at whom I couldn’t say, if it was me or himself he was madder at. Either way he’d been gone just over a week and there hadn’t been a peep from him since. I would say it was a welcome reprieve from his constant presence, as intimidating as it sometimes was, but the truth is I missed him terribly, and I missed our talks more than that. I just hated that my past prevented me from moving forward, but in a way it was for the best. I had no desire to end up like Dawn, heart-broken and delusional, nor washed up with a bad reputation either. No, I knew my stance was correct, whatever my initial reasoning for it. I was still legally married to Bill; I wasn’t really a widow – as much as I wished I was. And to tell him that would be to tell him the whole truth about me, thus making the basis of our initial bonding, a lie. I couldn’t do that to him, and truthfully, I couldn’t do that to myself either. I never had a lot of friends, not since marrying Bill, and here I was starting to build something for myself. Sure, I was ‘just the maid’ but I was here doing it all with help from no one and I couldn’t risk that, not now.
So what did I do? I pushed my ever-increasing attraction to him down deep inside, in the hopes that it would stay buried and that no one would need to know, no one would find out and we could all just get on with our lives. But as I was soon to learn, nothing stays buried forever, not even the so-called dead ex-husbands.
Pam sat there with a smirk on her perfectly made up face. I didn’t find my anguish funny at all, but she found it hilarious.
“Can you blame me darling, really? You’re all a tizzy because you’ve finally found a woman unwilling to succumb to your charms; I never thought I’d see the day. Let me enjoy it.”
I paced by the window once more, I’d been staying with Pam for over a week at this point, and I was still no further for my plan of action, neither were Sookie was concerned nor where Niall’s plans for me sat in the great scheme of things either.
“It is not as if I assumed all women merely live to fall at my feet –“
“Eighteen year old you assumed that, and he was right, from what I can recall.”
I rolled my eyes, back then I was young and foolish and having newly inherited my fortune, it was safe to say I went a little wild with it. I look back in shame, but also with fond remembrance of some of the times Pam and I had in Europe, deflowering daughters together and apart for years. I shook my head, that wasn’t who I was, not anymore.
“Things change, I’ve changed, and whether or not you want to admit it Pam – you’ve changed too.”
She just rolled her eyes at me, going back to drinking her tea.
“It’s all a matter of perspective, times have changed and I’ve changed with them, it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy toying with European women anymore. Unlike you I haven’t accepted my fate as hermit quite yet. Honestly Eric, resorting to that Dawn girl, of all girls in that little village you could have drunkenly diddled.”
Now it was my turn to roll my eyes at her, she really would never get over this. She hated Dawn, she said she gave her a ‘bad feeling’, and thus the fact that I’d had a dalliance with her didn’t sit well with Pam at all. I found it odd, since we fucked around more than any two people should in our day, but I guess even Pam had her standards. Sookie on the other hand, Sookie met those standards.
“She’s just scared; a woman in her position has a lot to lose Eric. And indulging bored playboys? Probably not high on her list of things to do in life.”
“I don’t want her to merely entertain me, I like her Pamela.” I never used her full name, unless I was deadly serious or seriously ticked off. “I don’t know how to make her see that, she thinks badly of me that I only want to get close to her –“
“To fuck her until she screams or passes out –“
“Well, if you must be so crude, then, yes eventually.”
“Crude, listen to you,” she tutted at me, “you’ve been spending far too much time with the elderly, Eric. Remember when we used to have fun? Remember Versailles?”
I was twenty-one, we’d spent a summer in Paris, and there isn’t a whole lot of that season I remember thanks to a nifty little upscale Opium den we frequented.
“Barely.” I commented and she laughed.
“Well, I’m sure Sookie will come around,” she raised her brow, “pun intended.”
I just shook my head.
“Sometimes I wonder if you ever grew up, Pam.”
“Now, now, Darling, don’t go taking it out on me just because you’re sexually frustrated the busty maid, with the very nice arse, won’t give in to your untamed charms.”
She was teasing me, and I knew she wouldn’t stop.
“I’m telling you, that is not all I want. I really love spending my time with her, Pam. In fact it’s come to be the best parts of my days, seeing her outside of work…seeing her be free and funny, allowing her guards down and letting herself laugh.”
I sighed. I had left Niall’s the week before because I could not stand the air between Sookie and I. The shields were up and there was no bantering, no laughing and no accepting my invites to walk with her. It was as if she’d shut me out completely out of fear of what we had turning into something else. I can’t blame her though, for those were my hopes exactly, I wanted more. I wanted all of her. I wasn’t sure if it was because I knew she was unwilling and it was simply a case of wanting what I couldn’t have, or if I indeed just really wanted her.
I needed the time to figure that out, but in my time away, I missed her terribly and Pam pointed out that it couldn’t just be a physical attraction in that case, since what I missed most were our most innocent of talks.
Finally Pam grew serious, and it was a relief for a I was due back to the London base soon and I needed a plan of action.
“Look, being honest with you Eric, I feel Sookie has more than enough emotional baggage to keep you at bay indefinitely,” that didn’t fill me full of hope; I thought friends were there to help in a time of need! “But, if your feelings are genuine then tell her, make her see that you mean what you say. She’s been hurt, she has a past one I get the feeling she’s not so eager to share, and you just have to make her see that you’re worth all that risk.”
Was I worth it though, that was my question. I was to be married off, into ‘society’ at the first sign of an advantageous match, Niall needed reassurance that his estates would live on, even though me, the husband of his dead daughter and a replacement for his dead son.
“Eric, you know me and you know I’m never one to go by the rules…but I know you are, now at least.”
“And well,” she looked worried, “what you think you feel for Sookie, I ask that you think about it long and hard, there aren’t just her side of things to consider here my friend. There are yours too, what of your feelings? Where do they lead you? Do you intend on marrying her? And if you do, are you willing to put up with the gossip, the social ridicule and out casting that one might receive when they not only diddle in emotions with the help to public knowledge, but flaunt it so freely?”
“Yes, yes, I know, you don’t give a flying anything about society and her rules, but Eric if you have children, they will, and they’ll be raised with that stigmatism and the gossip surrounding it. You know as well as I do that I hate the blatant hypocrisy of the whole thing but raising children in this world is hard enough when you have a flawless reputation as so many deem to have, but a tarnished one puts so many blocks in the road.”
She was right; having the right name meant the world to most people. It meant you socialized in the ‘right’ circles, went to the best schools, universities, and eventually got into the best jobs or found the best husbands. The world was changing, but it didn’t seem to be changing fast enough for my liking.
“This is all moot, Pam, she won’t have me.”
“She’s a smart woman.” She winked with a sly smile on her face in passing, but she stopped. “In all seriousness, I’ll do whatever I can to ensure your happiness Eric, as I know you will for me. So, if there is anything…”
I nodded, Pam was a lot of things, to a lot of people, but to me she was fiercely loyal and I respected her more than any man I’d ever met.
On return to the London house, I was greeted by my valet and a large stack of messages left in my absence, all from Sweden, and all in desperate need of their boss to round things up. I made note to schedule a trip there as soon as possible.
“Sir, If I may, there is a young lady staying with us, and if all is to be believed, she’s your intended.” Bobby said as we got to my room, I noted fresh flowers by the window and couldn’t help but wonder if Sookie picked them out herself at the market this week.
“My what?” I asked, clearly distracted.
“A Lady Annabel Forsyth, her father –“I knew who her father was; he was a Lord from a line of Lord’s going back generations. Old, old, money and a lot of great social status to go with it, it didn’t help that he was a bit of a knob though. So, I couldn’t help but wonder what his offspring would be like.
“What’s she like?”
“Well,” Bobby mused, setting out my dinner jacket and shirt, “she’s tall as women go, slender of course and rather meticulous about most things, a perfectionist I’d say.”
“Ah, picky then?” I said and he laughed, nodding his head.
“Very much so, but, also very beautiful.”
“I’m sure she’s lovely, but really I wish Niall would seek my consent before going ahead with these ridiculous invites, I feel like a prize at a fair.”
“In a way you are, Sir. The biggest prize at that.”
Bobby’s words stuck with me, mainly because they were what I’d been thinking since before we even arrived in London. I wasn’t some prize husband to be won to the highest bidder, in this case the richest girl with the best reputation, that’s not what I wanted at all. When I’d met Sophie, it was by chance at first, and then Niall decided he wanted to invest in the publishing business. That’s when I first came to the London estate to stay. What Sophie and I had been young puppy love, but I do think we made the choices for ourselves, at least, I hoped we did but now I wasn’t so sure.
“Dinner won’t be for another hour, do you want to get dressed now or …” Bobby asked, but before he had finished I was already half way down the staircase. I looked in most of the rooms, and found Amelia and Sam deep in conversation in the piano room, but no sign on Sookie anywhere. I finally found her, out by the pond, her feet dangling over the edge, her toes popping in and out of the water. Her eyes were closed and her head tilted to the sky, she was enjoying the sunshine. I stood by the doors, just watching her, so still and at peace, I almost hated to interrupt, but my need to hear her voice won me over and I walked over quietly, I did not want to frighten her, so I spoke before I got too close.
Her eyes popped open and her head turned in my direction.
“Eric, I didn’t see you there… I’m on my break I was just –“
“No, it’s fine. I just wanted to say hello.”
She smiled and her blue eyes just lit up, “Hello.”
“Yes, hello,” I said awkwardly.
She slipped her feet out of the bright blue water, and sat on the edge of the surrounding, hugging her knees to her chest and giving me a space to sit.
“How is Pamela? I hope she is well.” Sookie said, still that happy look on her face, a stark contrast to the last time I saw her. Our last couple of weeks before I left had been a bit of a strain to say the least, and I admit it was because of me that it was so.
“She is well, she sends her regards. She’s planning some trips this summer to Europe I think, but with Pam things change at the drop of a hat, so who knows.”
Sookie smiled again, “what a wonderful way to live though, care-free and on no one’s schedule but your own, it must be quite wonderful.”
I suppose I never thought that Sookie and the others lived their lives according to ‘our’ schedules. I suddenly felt very guilty.
“She hopes to stop by, before we return by the end of the season, she I think is more looking forward to chats with you than the rest of us, just don’t tell Niall that. He’s convinced she’s in his fan club.”
“I’ll bet she is, she just won’t admit it. How was your time there? It’s not far from here I’ve been told?”
“No, less than fifty miles, but she likes the outskirts when the city is booming, but she has no problem exploring other cities in the middle of crowds, she’s an odd one.” I smiled back.
“She is, but I like her oddness, it adds character that so few have.”
I agreed with her there, Pam certainly had character, by the bucket load.
“You look well, and you caught a little sun, that’s good.” She said, taking in my features, as if she was reacquainting herself with my face. I felt goose bumps break out on my skin as her eyes focused in on mine, she was so close to me and it make the urge to reach out and touch all the more difficult to ignore.
“Yes, she likes to have meals outside when it’s like this, she says it makes her feel more European, but personally I think she’s just a Texas girl making the most of her time in the heat.”
Sookie beamed, “I understand that, I miss feeling the heat on my skin, my poor bones don’t know what’s happened since I moved out here.” She fixed her dress, and slipped her now sun-dried feet back into her shoes. She wasn’t wearing her usual stockings, I noted, and her skin was very pale indeed and she had the tiniest ankles I recalled ever noticing. She caught me looking and crossed her legs away from me, an amused look on her face.
“You have a guest, well, I say you, she’s here to see you specifically I’ve been told.”
I sighed, another one.
“I heard from Bobby, I really wish Niall would just inform me, or at the very least give me a little warning before he just springs these things on me.” I repeated to her what I’d told Bobby, it was true, I didn’t like surprises much.
“He’s a man on a mission I suppose. The doctor called twice this week I thought you should know.” She said, her tone suddenly serious.
“He took an attack of sorts at the Opera, they called the doctor to him there and he was ordered home for bed rest, but, getting that man to bed rest is like catchin’ a tornado in a bottle, it’s just not going to happen.” She said and her native accent slipped in a little stronger than usual, I found I liked it very much.
“Then the other night at dinner he started to get very breathless, so we called the Doctor again, of course she read us the riot act when in reality there is just no talking to the man.” She sighed, her pretty pink lips pursing into a pout. We talked a little more about Niall and just how she and the rest of the staff were doing their best to keep from getting too tired or worked up, but it wasn’t easy, and I really knew that to be true. He was set in his ways and no one or no thing was going to change that.
“I’ve missed this.” I blurted out, perhaps I shouldn’t have done, but I found I didn’t really care. My hand grazed against hers as he sat next to mine, her hands were cold even as we sat in the warm rays of the sun.
“Where is he now?” I asked, ignoring the heat I felt creeping into my cheeks.
She rolled her eyes, “being a stubborn mule,” then her eyes widened and it was her turn to blush, “please don’t tell him I called him that.”
“I might be calling him it myself if it’s true, where is he?”
“He’s out to call on one of his old war buddies, refusing doctor’s orders, but he did say he’d be back for dinner, he’s got Lady Forsyth with him.”
“So this Lady, what is she like?”
She shrugged, “I’m not sure.”
“Of course you are, you’re good at reading people Sookie at least I think so. What was your first impression of her?”
She shook her head, “that’s something for you to judge yourself, she’s here to see you so… she’ll be different around you.”
That was always the crux with these high society women; they had more faces than an octopus had legs. I never knew where I stood with them, not really. Trying to differentiate between what was real and what was on show to bag a husband was hard, and it was growing more frustrating by the day.
“Please?” I begged for some kind of impression so I knew what I was facing.
She mused my question over for a few seconds as she got up and began to pace, I paced with her and we ended up heading for the gates of the garden that led onto the long lane, I opened the gate for her and she thanked me.
“At first she was quite, it seemed like she didn’t really want to be here, but then Niall kept telling her stories about you, and that seemed to perk her interest a little.”
“But your first impressions?”
“She’s a little spoiled. But, no more so than any other young woman in her position, if I had a Daddy that gave into my every whim, I’d wager I’d be a little spoiled too.”
“How old is she exactly?”
“Just turned eighteen.”
That made me stop in my tracks, I was past thirty now, and they really wanted me to wed a mere girl? I was not sure how well that sat with me.
“Oh, Eric, don’t look so shocked, men do this all the time. In fact it’s expected to be more advantageous to marry a much younger woman.”
“But a spoiled…barely out of her childhood years herself, girl? Really?”
She giggled, “You aren’t being very optimistic, maybe you two will get on like a house on fire.”
“Most houses on fire means you should run, far, and fast.” I kicked a rock as we walked on, mulling over what was being laid before me.
“She’s young, which means she’s probably impressionable, and you’ll probably sweep her off her tiny feet and make a million babies in one of her father’s mansions in Surrey.” Her tone sounded remarkably hostile at that, and I stopped and looked at her.
“Does that bother you?”
Her eyes met mine and then they looked away, as if the grass by the edge of the lane was now the most fascinating thing she’d ever seen.
“No, of course not, of course it doesn’t bother me… of course not.” She said in a stammered panic and the flush in her cheeks began to rise.
It did bother her.
“You already said that, twice.” I smiled, but she still didn’t look at me, if anything she was like a spooked kitten, and she began to retreat.
“I had better be getting back, it’s past my break time and I’m needed to finish off dinner…”
“Sookie…” I tried to reach out for her hand, but she backed away further.
“I’m sorry, I had better be going. Goodbye.” She said as she turned and all but ran back to the house.
Well now, that was certainly an interesting development. Very interesting indeed.