Hey guys! Two in as many days, I hope you’re enjoying it so far! If you are don’t forget to hit the little buttons and sound off below, or how else will I know? 😉 x
Walking back to the house I realized one of two things. I was terrible at hiding my true emotions. There I was showing him I was just another jealous woman, and it put my head in a spin. While it was true I was very attracted to him, and it seemed to only grow as we spent time together. I was also no fool, I knew my place! It became my new mantra, I knew my place and I knew he had his, and his was with the willowy teenager who could give him babies. I avoided upstairs work for a couple of days, glad to be of help in the kitchen for once. Though not officially my job, there was a party planned for that coming Saturday night and it was a case of all hands on deck for preparations. A Prince of some sort from the Middle East was accompanying an old friend of Niall’s, though thankfully he wasn’t staying with us. We had one who thought herself a Princess and she was more than enough for any household. As expected she draped herself over Eric at every given opportunity, even her chaperone was less than impressed by her behaviour, or so I heard from Amelia who was working the after dinner clean up and over-heard quite a bit as the drawing room opened up to the dining room in this house. I tried my best to pay it no mind, but of course the more I told myself not to dwell on something, the more it just wouldn’t leave my mind. In truth I hated the idea of her being his wife, she was a child and I knew at least on a intellectual level that she could never satisfy him. Not that I was fooling myself into thinking that I could either, but I did a damn better job of it that her and her stupid giggling. No, men didn’t marry women to converse; they married them for status and money, and all other matter of issues. I knew that first hand, I was married off to a Gentleman with good prospects simply because he was a gentleman with good prospects. It didn’t matter that he was also unstable and abusive, and a complete and utter fraud. No, none of that matters, nor did it matter that I was just about Annabel’s age when I was handed over to Bill too. I was far too young, I knew that now, but then, then I thought I was all grown and knew my own mind. How foolish I was, now I was many years older and I was still no further for it.
“Sookie, there is a dance in town tomorrow night, will you go with me?” Amelia asked a distinct panic in her voice as we polished the silverware the next morning.
“Thanks darlin’ but you’re not my type.” I joked. “Why not ask Sam? Or why hasn’t he asked you? He’s clearly sweet on you.”
She shook her head and blushed, it was adorable.
“Amelia, you really need to take the bull by the horns here, you both clearly like each other and there’s nothing standing in your way.”
As I so wished was my situation.
“I can’t. I mean… I mean I could, but I’d die. I’d just DIE.” She sighed.
“And what? You want me to go in case he’s not there or in case he is?”
“A little of both?” She said biting her lip, “It is true, we like each other, but we only ever get to see each other in the summer season, with me living in Scotland and him living down here. It’s the darndest thing.”
I laughed, it wasn’t really, but her love life was a nice distraction from my own muddled thoughts.
“We can go after the dinner clear up, Lord Niall is going out with Lady Muck, so we won’t be needed until after midnight, gives us a good five hours to dance our feet off, and nab you a Gentleman.” I nudged her laughing, but she just grew more and more pink.
“What if he doesn’t ask me to dance, Sookie?”
“He’ll ask you, trust me. It might not be all he asks you either if you play your cards right.” I said taking the polished silver back into the dining room where the display cabinet was.
“You going dancing?” I heard from behind a newspaper and almost dropped the tray and out of my skin to boot.
“Eric! You scared the life out of me!”
“Sorry, I couldn’t help but over hear…because Amelia is very loud for such a small woman.”
“It’s fine.” I said, getting back to work putting everything back in its place.
“So, you’re going to the dance at the town hall?”
“Yes, I’m more going for her sake, but I hope it’ll be fun, I haven’t taken advantage of my days off as I should have, so an evening out will be nice, I hope.”
He smiled, “you dance?”
“Everyone dances, Eric, it’s just a matter of how well or how not so well they do it.”
“You’re calling me Eric…” he pointed out and I realized that I had let it slip, and often.
“Should I not?” I looked at him coyer than I’d intended. I didn’t mean to be a flirt with him, I should have been doing the opposite, but, I just couldn’t help it. I would internally kick myself, later.
“You know you should.” He grinned.
“Well, alright then, but only when no one is around.”
“Sounds naughty.” He said putting down his paper and watching me with interest, though what interest he found in me replacing the silver into its cabinet, I had no idea.
“Hoping to meet anyone…special?” he queried.
“At the dance? No, not particularly. Speaking of, how is…”
“Oh, God.” He sighed sitting back on his couch with a little dramatic flare to his actions. “Sookie, she’s so young, too young, and Niall thinks it’s wonderful but we have nothing in common.”
“That could change.”
“Unlikely to if you ask me, all she talks about are hats and shoes and dresses she’s having made and what Ball she’s going to next. Honestly, she’s like Pam only ten times more vapid.”
“Don’t let Pam hear you say that. She’ll have your guts for garters!” I laughed.
“I’m going to tell him to put a stop to this match making nonsense, tonight.”
“Yes, if I’m to find a wife, I’d rather it be on my own. Though he is a stubborn old bastard, so I doubt he’ll even adhere to my request.”
“Ah, so you’re going to request that he stop, not tell him. Asertive.”
He glared at me, playfully.
“Are you mocking me?”
I just smiled as I closed the cabent doors.
“Would I ever do such a thing?” And with that I made my way downstairs again. Smiling unbeknownst to myself the whole way there, I really did love our little talks, more than I should have, perhaps.
I’d just gotten the bedrooms aired out for the day when Lady Annabel, or Lady Muck as Amelia had dubbed her – and her chaperone got back from the city. Apparently it was tea with an ‘old’ friend, I silently chuckled at how a girl of merely eighteen could classify her friends as old when she was still so new. She’d bought three new hats and demanded to know what I thought of each of them. In one she looked like a deformed poodle, and another drowned her pretty face out of the picture because of the sheer enormity of the thing on her head. I told her they were all beautiful of course, I mostly just wanted out of the way.
“Oh, um Sally?” She asked as I was making my ever silent exit.
“Right, of course, forgive me, but … I’ve heard you and Mr Northman, well that you two converse often?”
I wasn’t sure what to say, so I said nothing.
“I was hoping you’d tell me a little about him, he is so silent during dinner, and I’m not really sure how to broach the subject.”
“What subject, Miss?”
She sighed and sat on her bed with a huff.
“Well, that’s just it, any subject at all would do, he just won’t talk. I mean, his Lordship told me he was the strong, silent type, but I wasn’t expecting a mute!”
I chucked at that, for Eric, once he let you in, was anything but a mute.
“Please? I know I’ve been somewhat of a pain since I’ve arrived here but it is only because I was told to make a good impression, and I get impatient when I’m nervous, he makes me nervous.”
I understood that, when it came to Eric particularly.
“I’m not really sure…”
“Anything at all would be helpful, Sookie.” She pleaded again and this time I found myself feeling sorry for her, but then my selfish side kicked up inside me. Did I really want to endear her to Eric? Was I really going to help?
I looked into her eyes, and my moral side won out. If she was his, and being honest with myself, she was to be, they may as well have something to talk about before the poor girl’s heart broke. I thought back to all our walks together, all our talks, and the one topic I knew he was overtly passionate about was his books. He loved to read, and loved even more to converse about the worlds he dove into; bound by the leather he printed them in.
“Books, they’re your best bet, really. He likes all manner of subjects, but currently he’s embracing the Gothic Romantic themes more than most. Oh… and the Sherlock Holmes stories are some of his favourites too.” I rattled off thinking back on our conversations around Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and both of our favourites – Bram Stoker’s Dracula as she simply beamed at me, her usual sour demeanour completely changed. That surprised me.
“Thank you, so much, so very much. I was simply at a loss…this will be most helpful.”
I shook my head at myself as I finally made my exit. I had dinner to help with, and the table to set before I could even think of washing my hair before leaving for the dance that evening.
By the time we got back upstairs for the clearing after dinner, I passed the parlour to find Eric and Annabel deep in conversation, a book in his hand. I suppose I had no right to feel the pangs of jealously that I felt witnessing the seemingly innocent scene before me, but the truth of the matter was it was my own fault. I had done this, so could I really hate her for getting close to him when I practically pushed her there with information about him? No, I couldn’t. So, I swallowed my bitter feelings, curled my hair, put on my best dress and tattered old coat and went to dance my woes away.
Would there be enough music in the world do achieve such things, I would surely have fun finding out.
Amelia had danced the night away with both myself, and then with Sam, but mostly with Sam and I was happy for them both in truth – they made a sweet couple. I on the other hand danced many a gentleman, but promised nothing to none, for I still had my pact, if I wasn’t going to give in to Eric Northman I certainly wasn’t going to give in to anyone else. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying myself, and holding back the eye roll when the Yorkshire farming men would attempt to mock my accent, as if they were ones to talk about a funny accent, I thought.
When it came time for home, we all made our way out, and we bumped into a few of the staff from the London house, in particular, Dillon Prince, the driver whom we rarely saw since he lived off the land, with his sister. Sam and Amelia took their time and were no where to be seen, so when he offered to walk me home, I didn’t want to be terrible and say ‘no’.
“Thank you again, Dillon. You really didn’t have to walk me back, but it was nice.”
“No problem at all, Miss Stackhouse.”
“Oh, Dillon, no one calls me that. It’s just plain old Sookie.” I smiled as we slipped through the back gates and began walking up the garden path, passing the stables after a few seconds of slow pace.
“Okay, Sookie.” He smiled and I felt a little awkward, it felt like this was a date of sorts and it really wasn’t nor should he be getting any ideas of the sort either.
“I had a good time tonight, and it was nice to see Amelia have fun too,” I mused and he agreed.
“Though, I just know I’ll be sore tomorrow and I’ll be cursing myself for dancing so much.” We rounded the corner, past the darkened stables, the lights from the kitchen were still on, that was a good sign. It meant someone was up, and I could make my excuses to Dillon and go to sleep.
“Well thank you again, Dillon. I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“Sookie, wait.” He grabbed my hand and I resisted the urge to pull away, I didn’t want to be rude so I didn’t.
“I really should be getting inside.” I protested.
“I was hoping we could talk a little… I’d like to …get to know you a bit better if that’s alright.”
No, it wasn’t.
“It’s late, Dillon, we’ll have plenty of time to talk tomorrow, I’m not going anywhere.”
“No, you’re not.” He held onto my hand, gripping my wrist with his other hand, pushing me up against the wall, it hurt.
“Dillon, this isn’t funny. I’m saying goodnight please respect that.” I protested again but I had the feeling it fell on deaf ears. Before he had the chance to respond I heard footsteps, and then a deep voice causing Dillon to back down.
“What are you doing out here at this time of night?” Eric asked him, ignoring me. His eyes were fixed and scarily angry, on the man in front of me. Eric was still in his dinner attire, sans his jacket and tie he was just standing there in his white dress shirt tucked neatly into his black trousers, showing off just what broad shoulders he had and a slim waist. I hated myself for letting things like that distract me when he was eyeballing the chauffeur.
“Just saying goodnight to Miss Stackhouse, Sir.”
“Wasn’t what it sounded like to me, Prince?” Eric all but growled.
“I assure you it was innocent.” He objected.
“Hmm, well whatever it was, it’s over now. Run along.” Eric dismissed the smaller man, and just like that he scampered off in the other direction in the dark of night, I wasn’t sure where the driver lived here in London, but if the setup was like at the larger estate, I assumed he didn’t have far to go.
“Thank you.” I said, standing up a little straighter. “But it was no problem he was just…saying goodnight.”
“Why are you lying for him? I heard you from the door.”
“Were you eavesdropping on me?”
“Really? Then what were you even doing out here at this time of night, skulking in the shadows.” I didn’t move, I merely crossed my arms, my tone wasn’t altogether civil either.
“If you must know, I was in the kitchen, I got hungry and decided not to wake anyone and just come down and make myself a sandwich.”
“What?” he asked.
“Nothing, I’m just surprised you even know how.”
He raised his brows at me, and a grin spread to his lips.
“Look at you, all brash.”
“I am not brash, I’m just annoyed.”
“Annoyed that I saved you?”
“Oh, please, I could have handled him.”
“I’m sure you could but my way was quicker. What were you going to do, flirt with him some more, maybe kiss him goodnight?”
It was my turn to be offended then, “How dare –“
“Well…?” he took a step closer to me, closing me against the wall. Only, with him I felt no fear, not like I’d felt with Dillon. “Where you?”
My breath got shallow, but I didn’t want him to know the effect his close proximity was having on me, or my body.
“That’s none of your business.”
“No, perhaps not, but I’d like to know anyway.”
“Why?” I questioned unsure of where he was going with this.
“Because I want to know why you’d kiss him, and not me. That’s why.”
His eyes travelled from my eyes, to my lips, and back again. Something about it made me shiver, and I was sure it wasn’t the chilly London breeze.
“Well?” he asked taking yet another step towards me, we were now completely encased in the shadow of the house, as I leaned against the cobble dash wall and he stood mere inches from my face.
I still hadn’t answered him; we just stood quarrelling with each other through some seriously intense eye contact. It was like we were at war, but there were no words for weapons, not this time.
“No.” I said simply.
“Because you’ve sworn off all men? Or because he wasn’t the one you wanted to taste.”
Why did he have to talk that way, all it did was float images to my brain of things I had no right to think about.
“Why do you care so badly anyhow?” I countered trying to get my mind out the gutter, but that was near impossible once the sent of his cologne hit me. Christ that man smelled good.
He smiled, “Isn’t that obvious?” with that his lips came closer, but they didn’t aim for my mouth, instead, he reached for my face and tilted my chin upward. His soft warm kiss landed on my jawbone, it was unexpected and so utterly erotic in that moment, I wanted to melt.
“I…” I tried to speak, to say anything in my defence, but the truth was I had none. I wanted this so badly and I was tired of denying myself.
Next his lips trailed to my neck as one of his hands snaked into my hair and dragged against my scalp gently, I swore my toes curled.
“Do I get the honour, Sookie? Hmmm?” he hummed against my skin and it felt like I was suddenly on fire.
“Wha-“again, no words were coming out.
“Do I get to kiss you, tonight?” With that he pulled back, his mouth agape, his lips crimson, and there was a hooded lust in his eyes that I’d never seen before.
I didn’t answer him, at least not verbally; instead I wrapped my arms around his neck and went in for the kill, so to speak. I think my boldness both shocked and aroused him further because when my lips hit his, and we finally kissed he let out a guttural moan that went straight through me. His hands went to my hips, holding me there, grazing his fingers along the material of my dress, my open coat allowing him such access. There was no sound at all, only us, only breaths. Breaths laboured and taken through millisecond escapes from long languorous kisses and forbidden touches.
My hands slipped from his neck, to his shoulders and then finally to his waist, the heat of his skin through his thin shirt made my head spin, or perhaps it was lack of air from our kissing? Either way I was feeling decidedly faint. His hands were still in my hair, trailing then down to my neck and finally to my hands where he grasped them both and we stood there, kissing still, holding each other up.
The sounds of Amelia and Sam coming back were the only thing that pulled us apart. We were too late to move from where we stood, so Eric turned us both around into the very darkest corner of the wall where he was sure we wouldn’t be seen. For the few minutes that it took Sam and Amelia to say goodnight, and to sweetly kiss each other goodnight – I was stood almost cradled in his arms. I’d never felt more safe in all my life. I hated to break it off, but needs must and what we were doing… in the cold light of day, I knew I would regret.
My friendship with him was already based on a lie; I couldn’t take anything any further on the same lie. It would be cruel to us both to do so, I knew that. So, I pulled myself out of his grasp, neither of us said a word as I slowly backed away, holding my breath until I reached the backdoor, he didn’t follow me, and for that I was thankful for if he had I really don’t want to think what we both might have done. Probably things that in the harsh light of day, we’d both regret, I’d worry about the things we had done in the morning, that night I’d just enjoy my high and sleep like a baby. I deserved that much at least.