I woke up feeling groggy as my stomach rumbled. The room was now dark and a soft breeze was blowing through the half open windows. The only light came from the glow of the fire on the opposite side of the room.
“You lit the fire?” I whispered to him as he laid next to me.
“I did, I figured you’d be cold when you woke up.”
I wasn’t though, I was snuggle warm and content, he shifted to his side to look at me.
“Good evening,” with that a soft kiss landed on my forehead.
“Mmm. Good evening. I’m not cold, but I am starving. You realize we just spent all day in bed, I’m sure somewhere that’s a sin.”
He chuckled, tucking my hair behind my ear.
“The things we’ve done in this bed would probably be considered the sins, Sookie.”
“Hmm, you’re right. There was a time when committing any kind of sins frightened me beyond explanation.”
“Now, I know better than to believe the stories of men put in place to keep me in mine, to keep me scared. Men sin far more in telling those lies than any woman could by using her body for pleasure.”
“So basically they can -”
“Fuck off.” I nodded. “Basically, yes.” I smiled as he tucked me under his arm and drew me closer.
“I like that idea a lot. I never did pay much attention to the Bible bangers that spent too much time believing in something they couldn’t see to make the changes and not enough time believing in themselves and the changes they could make for themselves.”
“And you believe in yourself?” I asked, curious.
“I didn’t, after Sophie, I questioned everything, every little thing, but now… now there’s hope.”
“Hope for what?”
“A future, maybe?” He ran his finger down my arm, until his hand clasped mine. “A future with you, if that’s what you want.”
I could not stop the smile that grew on my face at his words, it was a scary prospect that is for sure, but one that delighted me as much as it scared me.
“The idea of facing the world with you as mine? One of the most pleasant thoughts to ever cross my mind -”
“So you have given this thought?”
“Of course I have, even in a childish, fantasy of a way – of course I’ve given it thought. I just never really took those thoughts seriously. Since I met you, the idea of this being a reality… was ridiculous…”
“Now, things are different, you know of the skeletons in my closet – be they metaphorical rather than real as things stand, and I know enough about you for now, that it satisfies me that you’re the person I think you to be. You’ve accepted my past. My mistakes, and my reasons for the lies I told. You’re a good man, Eric Northman, so yes, the idea of this, with you, is a pleasant one indeed.” I beamed.
“If I were to ask you, what I think you know I want to ask of you…” his face tinted pink at his words, it spread to his neck even. He was nervous, suddenly as was I, at the meaning and weight of his words. “It would be something you would find… agreeable?”
“You know you can’t ask that of me, not yet. Bill is still alive, which means, legally at least, I’m still -”
His face dropped, as if that reality just occurred to him, the very big bump in our road to a happily ever after.
“But, if that weren’t an issue…”
“Then I’d be hinting that we go do it right now and to hell with anyone who thought we couldn’t.”
That brought the smile back to his face.
“So, all we need to do is get Bill to grant you a divorce and we’ll be free to do as we please.”
“You make it sound so simple, Eric. You do not know Bill, he’s not the kind of man that gives up his things so easily, why do you think it is that I ran from him? It wasn’t my first attempt, but because I assumed him to be dead, it was my only successful one. If we find him, or he finds me first, I can only hope time and perspective has changed him, otherwise we may never get what we want from him.”
“Come, we’ll discuss this further when we’ve had something to eat, your tummy rumblings are very distracting.” He smiled, though it was a sadder one that the others we shared that day, as we made our way, in our robes, to find something for our makeshift and very informal dinner back in bed by the fire.
We managed some toasted bread, lots of cheese, some pancakes I had made the night before, and a half a chocolate and cream cake that was left over from during the week, and of course some wine. There was one thing this house was never short of, and that was alcohol. We took the blankets and had a night time picnic of sorts by the fire, and it was one of the best, most peaceful nights of my life. Just being there with him, totally free to do and say as I pleased. To be in his arms, completely in the moment as we talked of all things we wanted for the future and just how we were going to go about achieving them.
“We have to go back, eventually.” I said, talking of Scotland and all things Lord Niall related. He simply groaned, sipping his wine at my feet as we lounged in front of the fire, together.
“Never. We can just stay here, just like this, where the rules don’t apply and no one’s watchful eye gets an eyeful.”
“I wish! But, I have a contract with the estate, and you… have … he’s your family now Eric.”
“I know, I just wish we could ease up on the rules, you know?”
“I bet you were an unruly child, weren’t you?” I teased, “one of those that never went to bed on time and never ate his vegetables!”
He rolled his eyes, “Maybe?”
“Mmhm. Your poor mother then.” I smiled offering him another slice of cake.
“I was a handful, I admit, but all young boys are… I don’t think I ever went a day without getting some kind of mud on my clothes, I always remember she was forever doing laundry, and then when money got a little better, we had a lady that came and did those things for her, she never liked it though, she preferred to be the real lady of her house and run it all herself. My father wanted to just spoil her when the money started coming in, but she was having none of it.”
“Sounds like a smart woman.” I nodded, finishing off my cheese with a healthy sip of wine. He seemed a little lost for a few minutes after that, as if he was simply contemplating his place, or perhaps lost in memory, whatever it was, it took me touching his hand to bring him back to the present.
“Where did you go?”
He simply kissed my temple, bringing me closer to his side.
“Nowhere more important than here and now, I promise.” With that he kissed me properly, something that was fast becoming my favourite past time.
“Well good, because I think we should go back to bed and stop worrying about the future for tonight, and just enjoy the present.”
“You know, that’s one of the best ideas I’ve heard in a very long time, love.”
And with that, we added more wood to the fire, left the remains of our picnic and hurried back into bed where everything made sense because it was just he and I, doing whatever we pleased. Sadly I think we both knew that wasn’t going to last very long.
For two days it was as if Sookie and stepped into our own little world, it was just us, in Pam’s townhouse, together. Enjoying each other in all the ways we had wanted to since we first met, in a somewhat magical environment of ‘no one else around’. There were no cooks, or maids, or expectation or judgement. We ate breakfast together, we bathed together, and we strolled around Paris together, just enjoying every experience they had to offer. Which was to say a lot of food, and as much as she protested, a new dress for her from me. I had seen her admiring it as we passed, and admitted to her and myself how stunning she would look in it for the party, she of course proceeded to protest for the next ten minutes before I all but dragged her into the little boutique and proved us both right -she did look stunning in it.
“You’re not to get into a habit of that,” she said as we made our way, with some food for dinner, back home.
“I can’t hear you, sorry what was that?”
She just shook her head and rolled her eyes as I held her arm as we took the steps to the house.
“Really, Eric. It’s not necessary.”
“It was a dress, one, if I’m not mistaken you need one for the party tonight.”
“Do I have to go? I really don’t… fit in. I went one time for Pam and while the majority of people were nice, and asked for my baking, I just felt so out of place.”
We got inside and found it to be as empty as we left it, Pamela still had not returned.
“Sookie, you know how much I loathe these overly pompous affairs too, but it is your place. You are a -”
“Don’t say Lady.”
“Is it not what you are?”
“No, what I am is a Ladies Maid, there is a subtle but definite difference.”
I frowned and she noticed.
“It’s not who you were born to be.”
“Says who? Sookie Stackhouse is a maid, Eric. I thought we came to grips with that little reality back in Scotland.”
“That was before I knew Susannah.”
“She doesn’t exist anymore.”
“That’s not true. You’re still holding on to her, to your family.”
“I am not -”
“No? Then why the need for the divorce? Sookie isn’t married, Susannah is. We could by-pass the need for Bill altogether if that’s how you really felt. But, it’s not, you still cling to your old life, as well you should.”
That silenced her and she took a seat, very slowly, in the living room where we had been having our spat.
“I never thought of it like that before.”
I stayed silent, there was nothing more for me to say.
“I’ll go and get this on some plates for us, and leave Pam some for when she comes back.”
With that I took my leave to the downstairs kitchen.
It took her a few minutes, but soon I heard her footsteps on the stairs, as I continued to put out our dinner. When I looked up she was leaning against the door frame watching me.
“You’ve got flair, if it all goes tits up you could have a career as a Butler.” She smiled a little sadly.
“Wouldn’t that be fun, at least that way no one would bat an eyelid at us being together.”
“No, they probably would even then, let’s be honest, people are judgmental assholes most of the time.”
I laughed, because mostly, it was very true.
“Eric, my name… my real name, it means a lot to me, still.”
“As it should.”
“It’s my family name, and really the only connection I have left of all of them. I earned my name, my family worked hard to earn a decent reputation, and I can’t let that die because of Bill Compton. Not now that I know there’s a way out of this for me.”
“I realized it was important to you, but I was not so sure you realized yourself.”
“I do now.”
“Good, great. It just makes things more complicated of course, but, I have faith in us, I have faith in my lawyers.”
She looked confused.
“If Bill… If we find him or he finds us, and he refuses… I’ll take care of it.”
“No, I won’t have him threatening you, he has nothing to hold over you and even if he does, we’ll make sure he does what we want.”
She raised her brows as she made her way into the room, to me.
“You can be mighty intimidating when you want to be, you know that?”
“It is the height, it scares short people.” I grinned.
With that she burst out laughing, before she circled her arms around my waist.
“It is more than that, you get this look in your eye… it is probably wrong to find it so… attractive.”
“Nah, it is just me you find attractive, any and all looks in eyes is just part of the package.”
“Yes, I am.” I said doing my best over exaggerated wriggle against her. She swatted me away, making her way to the plate when we heard the front door closing.
“Pam’s home!” She said, smiling setting the three plates on a tray and beginning to exit.
“I’ll be right there, I’ll get the wine.”
“Okay, don’t take too long.”
I wanted them to have a moment, and in reality I needed one myself. I knew thinking it over that her husband was the biggest bump in the road we could face in the near future, and I was not completely sure how I was going to handle him, but I knew I had good men with the law on their side that could make Sookie look like the unwitting victim that he turned her into. Either way, he wasn’t going to halt her life any longer, and if being with me is what she wanted, I would be sure to do whatever I could in my power to ensure that it happened. For her happiness, and selfishly, for my own.
“Pam!” I said greeting her as she left her coat and bags in the hall. She looked radiant, her hair down and curled to perfection.
“How was your trip?”
“Oh, you know, trippy.” She smiled, hugging me with one arm as I balanced the tray in another, I was that good.
“I see your friend’s Ladies Maid made good work of your hair…”
“Jealous?” She raised her brows as we made our way into the living room. I just smiled.
“You look happy, Sookie. Am I to assume that you and Eric finally…”
“You may assume.” I grinned and she squeezed my hands.
“Yes, yes. There is still such a ways to go, but it’s a wonderful start, I…am really happy Pam.”
“Have you tied him to a bed somewhere?” I blushed at her words.
“Where is he then?”
With that all six feet five inches of him came around the corner with a bottle of wine and three glasses.
“He is here, and he comes baring wine for the lady on her travels.” He put the glasses and the bottle on the table as I took a seat, and he hugged Pam.
“How are you?”
“I’m well. You both look…rested.” She smirked causing Eric to smile.
“Yes… um… well…” Eric stammered.
“Too gentlemanly to comment, Northman? Don’t be shy, we’ve both had her now.”
My eyes widened, I could not believe that she said that. I expected Eric to bristle, but instead he just grinned.
“Yes, indeed we have, but only one of us gets to keep her.”
“Is that right? You know I might just employ her forever and keep her here.”
“Oh, please as if -”
“You two, seriously?” I interrupted. “I am not some toy you two can fight over, you know?!”
With that they both looked considerably chastised.
“Sorry, I was joking, you know that.” Pam said pouring herself a glass of wine, then pouring one for both Eric and I as he took a seat next to me.
“Guests are arriving at nine, I want to take a bath and get changed before they do, Sookie.” Pam informed me, and just like that I was back to work, much to Eric’s chagrin.
“We were just going to have some dinner, Pam.” He informed her then, clipped as you like.
“It’s fine, Eric I don’t mind running her bath first, I’ll be right down, the water should be warmed by now anyway…”
Eric was giving Pam an eye that I did not like the look of. I had to intervene, so I touched his face to get his attention before I left the room in the hopes of snapping him out of it. I left my wine, and took the stairs to prepare Pam’s bath and dress for the party. This was to be a drinks only party, but of course I had goodies on stand-by for nibbles, thankfully baked before Eric arrived, otherwise I would have got nothing done. With the bath with added salts half filled, I began laying out her options for that night, when Eric came into the room, my plate and glass in hand.
“You should eat something, Sook.”
“Look at you, taking care of me.” I said acknowledging his sweetness with a quick kiss to his lips. He looked suddenly forlorn.
“Something wrong?” I inquired as he took a seat on the bed and I picked at my plate, and sat on his knee to do so.
“I just didn’t like her tone.”
“Oh, honey, I’m used to so much worse.”
He just glared looking a tad hurt.
“Not from you, silly. Just in general, it’s a low point of the job title, I suppose.”
“I hate that you’ve had it ‘worse’, I just hate that abuse of power.”
“It happens the world all over, men, women, children, most of us in our lives will have an employer who will, without a doubt abuse the power. Pam is not that employer, she just liked how I draw her baths.”
“You do draw good baths.” He mumbled into my neck.
“I know, let’s take this to your room and let Pam get ready, we can be late, very late for this party. In fact, we could not -”
“We have to make an appearance, even for an hour or so. Just to stop her from pouting.”
“I don’t pout,” Pam said, swanning into her room where we sat and kicking off her shoes. “I bitch, but I do not pout, I’m not a child, Eric. Come to the party, don’t come to the fucking party, I don’t care.”
Her tone had been off since she arrived, something was very wrong in the world of Pam and I needed to find out what it was.
“Could you give us a minute? I’ll be in in a second.” I tried to give him a look that might convey that I had wanted to talk to Pam privately. Once he exited the room, I turned to Pam before I started undoing her buttons on the back of her elaborately accessorized dress.
“What’s wrong, Pam?”
“Everything. Nothing at all. It depends on who you ask.”
“I am asking you.”
She sighed and shed her dress, taking the clips from her hair.
“I contacted my mother, and her news was not good news.”
“Her news? Was in relation to my cut of my father’s fortune. Long story short, I need to get married before the new year, or I don’t get my cut.”
That stunned me, particularly since Pam was so sure she was in the will with no strings attached.
“Married? To a MAN?”
She just looked at me as if I had two heads.
“No. Sookie, a woman. Of course to a man! Sadly marrying a woman would be both too easy and never allowed to happen, so yes, a man. The one thing in life I never fucking wanted to do and now I have to do it in order to keep on living the life I want. Fuck!”
“Oh, Pam… I’m so sorry.”
She sighed again, taking off her stockings and the rest of her attire, she grabbed the hot cloth from the water and rinsed it out before she climbed slowly into the hot water, placing the cloth over her face.
“We’ll discuss this later, please come to the party tonight, even just for a while. You don’t have to stay and play if you don’t want to.”
I knew what Pam and her party guests definition of ‘play’ was now, there was no way I was cut out for their kind of games, that’s for sure.
“Go be with your boy, come to me in a half hour to help me get ready?” She asked from behind the steaming cloth. I nodded even though she couldn’t see me, I patted her arm before I left and she shooed me away with a slight laugh. I knew she did not want my pity, but I could not help but feel bad for her, what a difficult position to be in, particularly for a woman with her preferences.
I found Eric on his bed with no shoes or shirt on, picking at my plate with one hand, and his nose in a book with another hand. He looked up as I entered his dimly lit room where we’d spent the majority of our two days.
“She’s in the shit.” Not the most eloquent of phrases, but the most accurate in the given situation, I felt.
“Hmm.” I said, as I crawled on to the bed beside him, attacking my plate of cold meats and bread, there was even some fruit. I told him her tale of woe, knowing that sooner or later she would tell him herself.
“Jesus…” He sounded as shocked as I had been.
“Isn’t it ironic, at least a little.”
“We want to get married and can’t, the last thing Pam wants in life is get married and she has to do it.” He chuckled as he stole a grape.
“I suppose it is, I just feel so bad for her, Eric.”
“I do too. But, Pam is like a cat, she lands on her feet, time after time.”
“You know, that myth isn’t actually true… When I was little one of the boys that lived on the farm next to ours decided to test it out, the cat landing on its feet theory.”
He smiled, feeding me a grape.
“And the result?”
“The poor thing had to be put to sleep, he cracked it’s back.” I grimaced at the memory of that cruel boy and that poor animal. “It was horrid.”
“I can imagine.” He kissed me on the cheek, bringing me out of my horrible memory. I liked that aspect of us here, the little touches, the hand holding, the bigger kisses, and yes, the sex too. I knew that once we left there, and we would have to, everything would be different until I got hold of Bill Compton and got him playing the game we wanted him to play, a thought I dreaded more than anything. Instead, I snuggled up to my new beau, shutting out all thoughts of uppity party guests, ex husbands and a friend in crisis.
“Let’s worry later, for now… I think I should draw you and I a bath. Pam’s looked appealing.”
“She did say we could be late. You do that and hop in, I’ll get her ready and be back in about ten minutes.”
“So, a half hour then?” He chuckled, clearing my plate from the bed as I got up kissing him from his nose to his cheeks and down to his lips playfully.
“Yes, so a half hour then. Add the salts in your cupboard, they’re life changing.” I wiggled my brows before I fixed my skirt and bodice, straightening myself up. I still had a job to do after all.
The party could wait, Pam couldn’t.
A/N: As always love to know what you think! 😀