Complete Story : SB

Title: Southern Belles
Category: Books » Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries
Author: ChanelAddict
Language: English, Rating: Rated: M
Genre: Romance/Hurt/Comfort
Published: 06-20-11, Updated: 03-23-12
Chapters: 31, Words: 143,478

Chapter 1: Chapter 1


Southerners can never resist a losing cause.

Margaret Mitchell (1900–1949)

I stood there, looking at myself in the mirror, the beautiful full length white mirror that stood in rectory of my church. I stood there in my white dress, just a white dress and not the first white dress I’d ever worn in my lifetime so far, but this one, this one meant so much more than the others. This one meant I was going to get married. I stood in the church as everyone primped and fixed and fussed over me, because I was the bride, and that’s what people did, they made a fuss. I was used to that though, the fuss being made over how I looked, for a long time it’s all people ever did, fix and pull, straighten and push. I had to look pretty, I had to be beautiful, I had to be perfect – for them. My mother started putting me in Bonnie Baby competitions when I was three months old, and it spun out of control from there. Town beauty pageants, state fairs, all state beauty shows, crowns, trophies, money, scholarships, it was all up for grabs, and even though my father worked and my mother came from a little bit of money – though she acted as if it was more than it was – being a pageant Queen was my job. And it was a job I learned to do extremely well. I knew what I was there for, I knew what I wanted. I wanted to win, and in order to win, I had to be the judge’s idea of perfection, perfect smile, perfect teeth, posture, walk, speech. Never falter, never fail. It was a job, and it was one I hated, but I did it because it made my mom smile, and not a whole lot made my mom smile. As I stood and admired my gorgeous wedding gown that fit me to perfection, I wondered to myself if I was doing this, standing there in my perfect gown, attempting my perfect life, for me, or for them? Truth was, I didn’t know who I was doing it for, or why, not really. But, it was expected of me… and I knew one thing for sure, I always met their expectations.

Two years earlier…

“Here’s to Tara, my lovely, sweet, not at all dramatic, Tara!” I almost slurred, our ladies lunch had turned into a liquid one, followed by a liquid dinner, and we were now all a little wonky on our feet as we sat in the bar.

“My Tara will soon be Mrs. J.B. DuRone, and he’s stealing her off to New Orleans leaving us with a very Tara shaped hole in our little circle,” I said, going in for the hug. I was huggy when I was drunk, that’s for sure.

My closest circle of friends consisted of the girls I’d met in pageants, each one of us a beauty Queen in our own right. Some of us met as rivals, some of us met as partners, and some of us just met as our mothers primped us to high heaven when we were eight years old. Tara and I had met as rivals, I beat her the first time, she beat me the second, we evened out after that, and then her mom allowed her to quit. Mine, well, mine didn’t allow me to quit. Tara now ran two successful clothing boutiques in the city, which we all loved and took shameful advantage of our friendly discounts, too.

Which lead me to Pamela, we met as partners in one disastrous show in Texas, our mothers got friendly and we’d known each other through the circuit ever since. I was ten when I met Pam, and she really knew her own mind even way back then. She was stunning, and my most fierce competitor for all things. Even as friends she knew to push my buttons and get me riled up, she had a passion in her that I rarely saw in anyone else I knew, I loved her for it. Pam was being primed for a marriage, that she didn’t want, to a guy she didn’t love; it was a very long story.

Then there was Hadley. Sweet Hadley was my baby cousin, who joined the quests for crowns simply because I was doing it, whatever I did, she had to do too. A trait that hadn’t lessened over the years – and since my mother and hers were sisters in law, it gave them someone to travel with at the time so it was perfect company for us both. She was a scatterbrain, our Hadley, but too lovable in her own right. Hadley, like Claudine and Sarah mostly lived off the family money, and shopped as a profession. Claudine and Sarah were half sisters, I met them during my Miss Louisiana days, they were the picture of perfection always, and they knew it -not really that hard I guess when it’s basically their full time job.

As for me? Well, I wasn’t one to talk really, my parents shunned the idea that I go across country to study the arts like I had wanted so desperately when I finished high school. Instead, I was to stay at home, and learn the family business and since it was expected, I of course did it. I couldn’t really complain too much, I suppose, we owned and ran three very successful businesses in Louisiana, a bar in Bon Temps where my mother was from, a small but sweet hotel in New Orleans, and a bed and breakfast in Shreveport. I spent my time between all three, since my brother wasn’t up to task, the responsibility fell to me to be groomed by my parents for the business world, much like it was their decision that my degree be business based and not in the arts like I had wanted. I did it, and I enjoyed my job, I loved my friends and I did love my family, from the outside looking in my life was perfect. I was, as we were, what my Gran called her Southern Belles, a ridiculous notion in this day and age perhaps, but it’s what we were meant to be, or at the very least, seem to be.

Perfect.

Then why did everything still feel so wrong?

I was standing at the bar, waiting to be served, I knew the place, but tonight was busy and honestly with what I had in my system slowly wearing off, the wait probably wasn’t a bad thing. That’s when I met them, my boys as Pam had called them. First I met Eric.

“Hi,” he said, coming out of nowhere to surprise me at my side, and for someone his size, that type of ninja behaviour can’t have been easy.

Hi…” I said back, never wanting to be rude.

“I’m Eric.”

“Hi, Eric,” I said, smiling before I looked back for some bar service.

“I’m not a creeper, I swear.”

I laughed.

“Usually creepers don’t know they’re being creepy, so good for you, having that self awareness and all.”

“Thanks,” he beamed, clearly proud of not being a creeper. It was kind of adorable.

I nodded.

“You’re not from here, are you?” I asked and he shook his head no, his accent was very …European.

“Sweden, originally, but I grew up all over, it’s why my accent is so fucked up I guess.”

“I guess,” I smiled, it wasn’t fucked up, it was actually kind of sexy, just like the rest of him.

“I’m not really good at this…”

I looked at him, yeah, that was a lie.

“Somehow I doubt that, Eric.”

“No, I mean, if I was here for me, I’d be fine, you’re a beautiful woman, that much is obvious, I’d have no problem telling you that.”

I blushed, I tried not to, but he was hot and he was complimenting me, how could I not?

“Thanks…”

“Well it’s true, I’d probably offer to buy you a drink or something else equally as lame, even though I know you can buy your own and probably had planned to before I stepped up here and started talking.”

“Maybe… Wait, if you were here for yourself?” I raised a brow in his direction. “If you’re not here for yourself, then who are you here for?”

He sighed.

“I’m being a good friend.”

“Is that right?” I thought he was kidding, maybe this was his ‘thing’, either way I wanted to know.

“Yeah, see ordinarily I would have had no problem taking to you, but, see… there are rules.”

I nodded.

“He saw you first,” he sighed again, clearly annoyed by this fact, that he – whoever he is, saw me first.

“Oh… and?”

“Well that’s the rules, so I can’t have you.”

That made me look at him sharply.

“Not to say that just by seeing you first would mean that I would get to have you …. Not at all, you don’t seem like that at all… I just it just…” he closed his eyes. “Normally I’m better than this.”

“I’d hope so… you have a good night, Eric.” I went to walk away, I didn’t really want to, but he was digging himself a hole that I didn’t want to jump into.

“No, wait. Let me start over. You see that guy, to my left, big kind of sourly looking right now, missing a razor this last few days?”

“You really know how to sell it, Eric,” I laughed and so did he.

“Well you see that guy?”

“Yes.”

“He’s my best friend, and normally he looks a lot more put together than he does right now. See, he’s had his heart broken.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Me too, she wasn’t even worthy of breaking his heart… anyway, that was a few months ago, and since then he won’t even look at anyone else, and I’ve tried… believe me.”

I was sure he had.

“And?”

“Oh, and well, he saw you… sadly he saw you first which just sucks for me.” He smiled, he was charming, and he was really attractive which was odd to me. I never had much of a thing for blonds before. He had the height thing working for him, nice arms, sweet smile, and a naughty glint in his eye that told me as a lady, I really shouldn’t be around him.

“Is that right? Well,” I glanced at his friend, who also had the height thing going on, but he was like his opposite, looks wise. He was dark haired and had a beginnings of a scratchy beard whereas Eric was as blonde as I was, and clean shaven. They both were extremely attractive men in their own rights though, and it seemed every woman at the bar noticed this fact.

“I was just hoping maybe you’d talk to him, he’s a really great guy and he thought you were cute…”

“And that made you come up here and what? Warm me up?” I smirked and he smiled.

“Yeah, something like that.”

“Do me a favour, Eric?”

“Sure…”

“Tell your friend I’m not a lesbian.”

He looked confused.

“I have no interest in pussies, so you tell him to man up and come talk me himself, and we’ll see how that goes. Okay?”

He smiled big and wide, like he wasn’t expecting that attitude to come out of me, truth be told I wasn’t expecting it to come from me either.

“Fuckin’ Alcide, man,” he mumbled to himself more than anything.

I watched as he went back to his best friend, and I watched said best friend turn a serious shade of red, I guess he wasn’t all that on board with Eric being his wing man after all, it was kind of adorable.

“Sookie, who was THAT?” Hadley said, coming up behind me, and I looked back at my girls, Tara was damn near passed out on Claudine’s shoulder, and Sarah was just ranting into her phone, probably at Steve.

“Eric… I guess. And that’s Alcide,” I nodded at the two arguing men.

“Can I have one?” She asked, damn near licking her lips. Hadley wasn’t very subtle, that’s for sure.

I just shrugged.

“I’m done with men,” she announced, all the while still looking at them as if they were dinner. “Besides, I kind of want to see how this turns out. It’s not like you to flirt with two guys, let alone have ’em fight over you.”

“Hadley, it’s just some fun, it’s nothing serious, just a little flirting.”

“Mmmhmm, cousin, just trust me if they ask you to be the meat in their sandwich, say no, believe me they don’t mean anything about food.”

I laughed out loud, and really didn’t want to know the story behind that little outburst. She skulked back to our table again, this time the tall, dark, and handsome one approached me, leaving tall, blonde, and beautiful in the background.

That’s when I met Alcide.

“I’m so, so sorry about him, really.”

“It’s fine…”

“No, it’s not, he’s just really stupidly impulsive, and he has this whole see, want, have, mentality going on, it’s really bad.” He blushed again, and I found him really endearing. He was just as physically impressive as his wing-man, but again total opposite in looks, and it seemed in personality as well. Where Eric seemed brash and frighteningly honest, Alcide was more reserved, and far more apologetic for his tastes than Eric.

“I’m Alcide Herveaux and I’m still very sorry about my friend.”

I laughed, he really was embarrassed, I thought for sure it was a game.

“Don’t worry about it, Alcide, no harm done. I’m Sookie by the way, Sookie Stackhouse.”

He extended his hand and I took it.

“Nice to meet you, Sookie.”

I looked behind him as subtle as I could to find his friend sneaking glances at us both, while it looked like he was being chatted up by some other blonde, he didn’t look so enthusiastic with her though, that’s for sure.

Alcide and I talked, and I found that he was what my Gran would call a good ‘ole southern boy.’ Manners, sweetness, but a strength that was obvious. That, and he was smarter than most guys who hit on me, that’s for sure. But he was still a little fragile, as his friend had said, it was obvious Alcide was nursing a broken heart and was rather unsure of what to do with it. I got to know him a little bit, before he asked me for my number, as nervous as anything, and despite my thoughts roaming to his best friend… even then, I took the chance and I gave it to him, and he smiled, and his smile was beautiful. I’d made him happy, and in that was my biggest flaw. I guess I had a thing for making other people happy, and Alcide was no exception.

By our third date I knew all there was to know about Alcide Herveaux, born and raised a good mannered Louisiana boy. He too was a victim of family obligations, going into his family business straight of out high school, unlike me though, he saw no issue with it. To him it was just what you did, you supported your family, and your own wishes and desires took to the back burner. It’s not to say he wasn’t successful, not at all, their construction business was booming, even in what was appearing to be a uneven economic climate. Of course, I didn’t say that, to argue my own point on someone else’s life, that wasn’t how I was raised. Judging wasn’t the done thing or at least if it was it was kept to yourself or your closest kin. I liked Alcide, there really wasn’t all that much to even slightly dislike, really. He was loyal and sweet, funny, kind, all the things a girl should want in a man, right? And yet even then it felt like there was something missing.

Or more to the point, it felt like someone was missing.

I hated myself for it, but it was a undeniable truth that I had to accept. Eric interested me, in those few minutes with him at that bar, I felt more spark than I did with the weeks I’d spent with Alcide. And I felt rotten for even thinking it, since everyone loved Alcide. My mother was practically swooning, my father even liked him, mostly I knew because he had a successful business behind him and wasn’t after my money as he had once suspected my ex – William Compton to be. Turns out my dad was right about Bill, so maybe he was right about Alcide too, I thought. Eric left for Europe the day after the night we’d met in the bar, according to Alcide, Eric was somewhat nomadic in his nature. He never stuck around too long, even though Alcide had asked him dozens of times to set up his businesses in Louisiana. Eric was a photographer, and a rather good one at that. I longed to converse with him about his work, a sample of which I’d seen online, it was just another thing that made him attractive to me. He was living my dream job and I envied him.

Alcide and I continued to date happily. As I travelled between locations for work, we’d make it work, we saw each other at first three or four times a week and most weekends, and with each date I found myself more and more attached to him and pushing his mysterious friend further from my mind. My girls, the Belles according to my Gran, where equally as impressed. Well, most of them where anyway, and when it came time for Tara’s wedding six months later, it was safe to say that he’d won just about everyone around.

Everyone that was, except Pam.

“I don’t like him,” she said to me as she redid her perfect lipstick in the bathroom mirror.

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me, I don’t like him, he’s too… smooth.”

Alcide wasn’t smooth at all, in any way, shape, or form. Well, except maybe his chest, and I had to admit it did bother me, but the rest of him just wasn’t!

“Pam, why?”

She shrugged…

“He doesn’t seem like your type, that’s all. I mean the Bill Compton disaster was one thing, but after him, didn’t you swear off Southern boys?” Her accent accenting and elongating the ‘ass’ in disaster.

“Bill was a disaster because of who he was, not where he was from, and Alcide is nothing like Bill, thank Christ.”

“Hmm, maybe, he still has that air about him,” she waved her hand to make her point.

“And what, pray tell, ‘air’ is that?” I glared at her though the mirror.

“The one that says you’re just his woman, there to have his babies and attend to his needs. It’s bullshit.”

I gaped at her, Bill certainly was like that, but Alcide wasn’t.

“You’re being ridiculous.”

“Am I? That’s bullshit.” She muttered. Pam never cursed in company, none of us did, it just wasn’t polite. But when we were alone, she swore like a drunken sailor.

“And besides, maybe it’s what I want, did you ever think of that?”

Then it was her turn to gasp.

“You can’t be serious… what the hell, Sookie? What happened to that girl I knew… who wanted to travel the world and photograph it, show it’s beauty to those of us not lucky enough to see it for ourselves.”

She was right I had once been that girl, but that girl had to grow up sometime, right?

“She grew up.”

“She grew old, ” Pam corrected me, “and now what? You’re content being the baby momma for a construction worker? Jesus…”

I was twenty five, excuse me, I was not old.

“Excuse you, what about you huh? You’ve been promising to marry Stan Davis for over a year now, and what? You just keep stringing him along like a dog on a leash, it’s either something you want or something you don’t, but at least I’m not so cowardly as to want to make a choice.”

“What choice? There is no choice here Sookie, there’s one option and one only, just like there always has been. Your parents rule your life, and you fucking let them.”

“I do no-”

“Yes, you do. And because they love Alcide, you’ve convinced yourself that you do too, it’s so fucking sad.”

“You can be a real bitch when you want to be, Pam.”

“Yeah, I may be a bitch but at least I’m an honest bitch.”

“Yes, with everyone but yourself,” I said yanking up my stupid bridesmaids purse and storming out of the damn bathroom.

“Hey…” He caught me as I rounded the corner of the hotel in a rage. I softened in his embrace.

“You look pissed, girl talk in the bathroom not go well?” he asked, pulling me into a big bear hug.

“No, just Pam being… well, being Pam.”

“Ah. I don’t think she likes me very much.”

He had no idea how right he was.

“Ignore her,” I said, “anyway what she thinks doesn’t matter, I liked you and that’s what counts, right?”

He smiled.

“That’s very true, but I more than like you, and I kind of think that maybe you more than like me too.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah… I mean I’m crazy about you Sooks, you know that, and I’ve been wanting to ask you something.”

My heart started to beat crazy fast, I knew he wasn’t asking me to marry him, it was far too soon for something like that, wasn’t it? What if he did ask me, what would I say? Would I say yes? I didn’t know. But this didn’t feel like a marriage proposal.

“Now, call me crazy if you want, but I like you a lot, and I really think that you and I can do this…I wanted to know if you wanted to move in with me…”

Oh good, not a marriage proposal. But this was equally as big a step.

“Oh I … really?”

“Well, yeah, I mean I spend most of my time in New Orleans now with you anyhow, and it seems that it’s there that you like to live, I can work out of there just as easy, or you can move back to Shreveport if you want. I mean, it’s up to you, I just think we need to have a base for both of us, instead of this runnin’ around like chickens with our heads cut off half the time.”

I smiled. Alcide was a pragmatic man, and it did make sense, even if his reasoning was a little less than the romantic ideal.

“Of course I will, I’d love to live with you,” I said, as excited as I could sound. I really did want to move in with him, and I really did want us to work. We did work, really well, I was happy, he was happy…or at the very least I thought I was happy. Instead the last thing in the world that I ever thought would happen happened. Everything I thought I was turned on its head when Eric Northman came to visit.

I wasn’t prepared to fall in love with two men at once, but that’s exactly what happened.


A/N : My newbie! I’ve been wanting to explore this theme for a little while. What would happen if you happened to love to very different people at the same time? Tension, cheating, angst, and hopefully a little comedy too. Are you with me guys? 😉


Chapter 2: Chapter 2


EPOV:

When he nudged me from our game of pool, his eyes fixated on the pretty blond with the banging ass, I thought – finally! At first, I was so happy he was actually looking at other women with something other than contempt in his eyes, and looking at the mystery blond there was definite lust and not a smidgen of contempt. As his friend, I was pleased, and even against his wishes I went over to talk to the hot blonde. I was not expecting much. In truth, I was expecting some easily flirtations and for her to melt with a few choices words and a subtle touching. However, when I met Sookie Stackhouse, that is not what happened at all. This girl was witty, she was funny and she was smarter than those I’d encountered before her, and for a girl that looked as good as she did, call me sexist but at the time I was shocked.

I had been in Louisiana three weeks; I had flown in for work, and stayed two weeks longer than I needed, for him. He was a mess after that bitch Debbie broke his heart into a million tiny pieces on her path to self-destruction. She was not worthy of my friend, I knew that much from the get go, but he loved her. God knows why he did, but he did. And was obviously trashed when she cheated on his big bleeding heart and left him with bare threads in their apartment.

Alcide and I had met when I was a kid, both of us sons of fathers who loved their military – almost more than they love their families. Both military brats born and bred, his folks settled in Shreveport and started a business there, whereas mine settled in London and did the same. My mother was bohemian at heart, never wanting to settle in one place too long, I knew I got my gypsy heart from her. I got itchy feet if I stayed in one place too long, never really having a reason to stay. My father was the discipline, the structure, as was his life, he brought it into mine. His manufacturing eight to six job provided him and my mother with the lifestyle he liked, and the financial freedom my mother yearned for in order to nurture her artistic side. Me? I didn’t care where I lived, ate or slept, if I had my camera I was home.

Alcide wasn’t like that though, his home was where his family were, and he liked it that way. The familiarity was nice I guess, but it wasn’t something I had experienced since I was a kid. I had friends, of course, I had friends in almost every country in the world and always a couch to crash on, but Alcide was the only one who really knew my whole story, you could say. And so, that’s why I couldn’t begrudge him Sookie. As much as I harboured an instant crush on the sassy sexy blonde, rules where rules and he had, sadly, seen her first.

Chatting her up though, I got far more than I bargained for. Beyond her ass, and her extremely impressive rack, she was beautiful – no doubt, but she was attractive to me on another level. Behind her hotness, she had a wicked sense of humour and stuck me as someone who knew how to take a joke. That wasn’t something I’d been experiencing at lot of up until that point.

So I left town, with my best friend smiling again, as I tucked whatever envy I had of them under my hat so to speak, and I headed for Japan. I had a six-month job there, working commercials, I hated shooting commercials most of the time, but they paid the good enough money that allowed me to take one more freelance work on passion projects. I made sure my work took me all over because of the simple fact that I couldn’t cure my itchy feet, but when I got lonely I always found my way back to Shreveport and to Alcide and his family, they always made me feel welcome, and for a while at least, I felt like I had a home. Then the cycle would start again and I would take off, I had been doing it for years, and thinking that as I got older, maybe it was something I needed to re-evaluate my nomadic lifestyle. I was tried of being lonely.

‘Cide and I kept in touch via emails, and random back and forth postings of funny youtube links while I was gone, and while I was gone he’d gone and got himself very busy it seemed. See the thing about Alcide was, whenever he did something, he did it one hundred percent. He complained that I had a spontaneous nature, well, he had one too, and his was just a little more idiotic than most. You see, the one thing Alcide was spontaneous with, was his heart. He just gave it away to anyone who looked pretty and seemed like a nice girl, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to listen to how ‘heart broken’ he was, and how he’d ‘never love anyone again,’ but sure enough he always found his feet. And it seemed that Sookie was just another of the ‘ones’ on his list of The One. He had gone and done the stupid thing of asking the girl to live with him, after only six months of dating.

That couldn’t be a good sign, right?

With Debbie, it had been three, and with the girl before her, he had even picked out an engagement ring. It was down right frightening how easy he gave his heart to women. Not that I kept my heart in a silver box under the bed or anything, not at all. I was just a hell of a lot more… selective to whom I gave my heart, and in turn my love. Hell, I was just as selective to who I gave any kind of attention to, so his attitude continued to baffle me. I told him as much in our emails. Of course I was told to go fuck myself more than once when I suggested that he maybe needed some kind of intervention when it came to just throwing his heart at random girls, but he assured me that Sookie wasn’t like the others, in fact she wasn’t like anyone he’d ever been with before. I was happy about that, because really? His taste in women ranged from brain-dead to just plain crazy, so if this Sookie girl was somewhere in the middle I guess she could not have been all-bad. The fact that she didn’t seem stupid and or mentally ill pissed me off though too. It meant that my tiny spark worthy crush on the girl I’d only flirted with for maybe ten full minutes was someone I’d actually like. That wasn’t good, she wasn’t free, she was with my best friend, and it seemed she was as serious about him as he was about her since she agreed to move in with him and all.

I got off the plane, tired, achy and accepting the possibility that I smelled rather questionable.

I texted Alcide, and got a rather swift reply.

“Stuck at the office till nine, make yourself at home, key under mat.”

I raised my brows, at least I’d get time to shower before they got home and the awkwardness began. I predicted awkwardness mostly because I wasn’t so good around new people, not that Sookie was that new. I’d heard so much about her in the previous six months that I felt as if I knew her already. Team that with the annoying pangs of jealously I felt when I realized this kick ass woman was with my best friend? It wasn’t fun, because I felt like an ass for feeling jealous. There were a lot of feelings, many unfamiliar feelings. I resigned myself to acceptance though, and as I pulled up to their end terrace brownstone covered house with a blue door, I pushed those feelings aside again, this was their home and as free as I was, a home wasn’t really something I had.

I walked into a dark and empty house, knowing that Alcide had told me the spare room was mine, I went in search of that first, noting little things about the barely lived in house as I did so. There were brown boxes just about everywhere, all little labels of ‘Sookie’s kitchen’ or ‘Alcide’s DVDs’ scattered the living room that had in it a very comfortable looking leather suite of furniture and a soft but cosy décor of dark crèmes, browns, and whites. I climbed their stairs and saw one master bedroom that was obviously theirs, I didn’t peak further though, and my morbid curiosity wasn’t so much that I wanted to know where my best friend fucked his hot girlfriend. I found the spare room next, it too had boxes littered but it had a nice big bed with a comfortable looking quilt and pillows. It was all I needed. I laid down on the bed, and I must have been more tired than I realized because the next thing I know my phone is beeping and it’s dark outside. Seven pm, I had been asleep for two hours. I got up, feeling still very much alone in their house I decided to take full use of their shower. After my long flight and impromptu nap, I was in dire need of refreshing. I’d just gotten lathered up right night side stepping some pink fluffy wash things and girlie smelling soaps as I got in and wrapped the shower curtain around the bath. How Alcide fit in here, I’d never understand. I was showering practically on my knees. when I heard the door slam down stairs. Then there were angry footsteps on the stairs.

“I can’t fucking believe her, I mean really, who does she think she is! I walked her though that job, practically held her fucking hand – excuse my French- while she trained, and I trained her up the best I could! It took her three fucking years to get everything right! And now she just up and leaves me!”

I did not say anything; I probably looked like a deer in the headlights behind that curtain though. What was I meant to say? “Hi hot girl I have a crush on, don’t mind me, I’m just showering naked three feet from where you’re sitting?”

And she was sitting, she had slammed down the toilet seat to do so, and she just kept on ranting.

“I mean, seriously, she’s a klutz, and she can’t count! And she’s rude to customers, and not even the douchetastic customers, no, even the nice little old ladies that fly in every year from Maine, she’s even rude to THEM! I mean Jesus that’s like kicking a kitten or something, those two are so cute, and they’re possibly old lady lesbians, but that’s neither here nor there.”

Did this girl ever breathe in between sentences?

“Alcide, are you even LISTENING to me?” Came the irritated tone, before the shower curtain was yanked back, and she let out what could only be described as a blood-curdling scream.

And she kept on screaming.

“Um-” I attempted, to no avail.

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH GET-OUT-OF-MY-HOUSE WHO THE FUCK – WHAT THE FUCK, OH MY GOD!” she yelled as she struggled to cover me with the shower curtain, getting a right good look at the goods in the process, but she continued to scream. I don’t think she had looked at my face.

“Sook-”

“Ahhhhh, JUST GET OUT! I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU’RE DOING OR STEALING OR WHATEVER… OH GOD PLEASE DON’T RAPE ME!” She continued to rant before I covered my lower half with the end of the curtain and yelled at her.

“SOOKIE!”

She stopped then, startled, and looked at my face.

Eric?”

“Hi,” I said, bashfully. Not exactly how I wanted to reintroduce myself to her, that’s for sure.

She blushed then, a innocent shade of pink coloring her cheeks, right down to her neck as she closed her eyes.

“Eric Northman?”

“Hi, again.”

“Um, no offense, but what the hell are you doing here?”

Alcide clearly didn’t tell her. Fuck.

“Oh… um, showering.”

“I can see that, ” her eyes widened momentarily as they then quickly scanned my body, “but what are you doing showering in my house, aren’t you in Japan?”

I laughed.

“I was. But, um, Alcide said that I could crash here… so I’m here to crash.”

Eloquent.

“Oh, did he now? Well, it would have been nice if someone had told ME!” Yeah, she was pissed off.

“I’m sorry,” I offered and she shook her head.

“Don’t be, it’s not your fault. Oh, god I just saw you naked….” she said, trailing off and almost saying it to herself, it was adorable.

“I… I… I’m so… so, sorry. Oh God,” her blush deepened.

“Sookie it’s fine, really.”

“No I … you’re naked and I saw you naked and I’m still standing here, talking to you, and you’re naked and that’s… I’m just going to … go,” she motioned to the door, clearly flustered. Did I mention she was adorable? She was in a pair of denim shorts and white t-shirt that was very breast friendly, and her hair in a simple ponytail. She motioned to the door and almost ran through it. It made me chuckle. It had been a while since I had made a girl blush like that, it was awesome.

I rinsed my hair quickly, and dried off, yanking on my jeans and the t-shirt I had discarded. I’d really freaked her out.

I found her in the kitchen, randomly wiping the countertops, that looked pretty clean as it was.

“I’m sorry about that; I really didn’t mean to scare you. I figured Alcide would have told you.”

“You’d think he would have, huh, guess he forgot. I’m sorry for … well, for all of it. You must think I’m nuts,” she laughed, putting her cloth aside.

“I don’t think you’re nuts at all, I mean you weren’t expecting me, it’s perfectly okay to …scream.”

She blushed again, running her hand through her tied up hair, awkwardly.

“Right… oh, um did you find the room okay? I mean it’s a mess, God, had I known we’d have company I would have -”

“Sookie, really, stop stressing. The room is great, I can sleep just about anywhere, really. Don’t worry about it.”

She nodded.

“Did you get something to eat, I can make you something!” she went to the fridge as if it held the answers to life itself, or at least an exit to this rather awkward conversation.

“I haven’t actually, and with the time zones it was yesterday or tomorrow the last time I ate,” I joked, and she visibly relaxed.

“I was just going to order some take out, but Alcide usually brings something -”

“He said he’s stuck in the office, my guess is with his dad, till nine.”

She sighed.

“You know more about my boyfriend than I do, Eric,” she pouted, her lips a little as if she was deep in thought, then reached for her phone and walked into the living room. My guess was to call Alcide.

The house was not overly large, so I could not really help but overhear some of her conversation.

“You could have told me!” she whispered, harshly. “I mean I have nothing ready, the house is a mess, and – I don’t care if he doesn’t care, Alcide, I care!”

Then there was silence.

“I know,” she said, “But it was embarrassing! I walked in on him in the shower, I thought he was you! Do you know how mortified I – it’s not funny Alcide, stop laughing…You don’t know if Eric wouldn’t be embarrassed! Ugh, look are you coming home for dinner or not, I need food and I’m pretty sure Eric is starving and probably thinks I’m a horrific hostess!” she whispered again. It was cute how much she cared. I mean, I was a practically a stranger, but I guess it was that world famous southern hospitality that I had heard so much about.

I walked further into the kitchen as I heard her approaching again. I didn’t want to get caught listening to her conversation, as funny as it was. It was clear that Sookie cared about how she was perceived, even by strangers.

“Do you like Italian? There’s this great little place, about ten minutes from here… I really don’t feel like cooking right now and I’m starving, and you’re starving and Alcide is MIA, do you want to just go get some? I know this isn’t the best of southern hospitality and my Grandmother would probably kill me, but what do you think?”

“Sure, sounds good, I’m just going to go change, this is my plane ride clothes and they’re sort of… questionable.”

And dirty, and sweaty.

She just looked me over once, but nodded.

Was it wrong that I liked the way she looked at me? Whether or not she knew it, it felt like she was checking me out.

Twenty minutes later I was standing in the kitchen and she came down from her room. She was in a blue dress this time, her hair was down and she had shoes with a small heel on them. Right then and there, I wanted to forget about the food and have her for dinner, but I quickly shook that thought process out of my head.

“The place is semi casual, but I had a shit day and well, this is new so…”

“It’s pretty,” I stated, because, well, it was.

“Thanks… Should we go?”

I noticed the small blush in her cheek but she soldiered on and we got to the restaurant in no time, where they seated us right away. It was not a big place, but you could tell it had its regulars and they were loyal.

” ‘Cide said he’d try and get away but if not, just to order on without him,” she said in an almost whisper as we both looked over our menus.

“Sookie?” I said after a few minutes silence.

“Hmm?”

“Why are people staring at us?” I had noticed when I walked in, but ignored it. Now, it was getting a little harder to ignore.

“Oh, ignore them, they probably think we’re on a date, and I’m a cheating whore. Once you have a boyfriend apparently any and all other male contact makes you a whore.” she giggled, rolling her pretty blue eyes.

“Damn, really?”

She nodded.

“Most are fine, but I’ll more than likely be talked about at church on Sunday.”

“Seriously?”

“Of course. And you’re the new guy so of course, everyone will want to know about you.”

“Will they now?”

“Mmmhm, I mean I think they need to be informed, it’s not often we get a Nordic tree of a man around these here parts.” She thickened her accent considerably, clearly she was kidding.

“Damn, will they want to plant me?”

“Well, they’ll want to do something but I don’t think planting has much to do with it.”

And she was a saucy southerner to boot. I tried not to find that incredibly attractive.

I failed.

She was beautiful, and not just in a sexy, I’d like to sex her kind of way either, which shocked me. She had long blonde hair, clearly natural, her eyebrows a shade or two darker, but that was probably with the help of her make up, since it too looked as natural as her hair. Her well-defined blue eyes, teamed with a sweet coral pout, and a glow to her cheeks that lit up her whole face when she smiled. I really thought I’d just had the hots for that random girl I’d flirted with for a little while at a bar one time. That she was a blonde, in a sea of blondes, in a sea of women, which I had flirted with.

But something was different here, and that was more than a little scary.

“It’ll practically be an interview, and if they don’t catch you at church, then one of the older ladies will find you and know your family history before the end of the day.”

My eyes widened, maybe she was a little serious.

“So, Eric, tell me about yourself?” she said, leaning her chin on her hands looking at me with a playful smile after we placed our orders.

I laughed, wasn’t that the worst interview question possibly ever?

“Well, what do you want to know?”

“Oh, not me. Them,” she motioned with her head the patrons, “they’ll be wanting back story, the whole nine, growth spurt timings, first girlfriend or boyfriend – though with some if it is a boyfriend… You might want to watch your back,” she rolled her eyes then, clearly not comfortable with some people’s attitude. “But those people are heartless, mindless idiots, so pay them no mind.”

“Well, it’s not boyfriends, but I still won’t pay them … any mind,” I attempted, but her way with words and her accent wasn’t mine, and it was amusing. I’d only lived in Louisiana for a short time when I was a kid, I’d never picked up the accent though, and I only ever understood a few people whose accent wasn’t so thick, or as Alcide would say ‘backwoods hillbilly.’ Thankfully, the hillbillies were few and far between on my visits back, and Sookie certainly wasn’t one of those.

“Um, well, let’s start at the beginning…”

“It’s a very good place to start.”

I gave her the short version, where I was born, what my parents did, army brat past – which she loved, and I made sure to fit in a few embarrassing stories about Alcide on the way, then I just skipped to now, what I was doing and where.

Her eyes lit up.

“I know, Alcide has shown me some of your work -”

He had? Why did that make me nervous? Millions of people saw my work, why did Sookie seeing it make the hairs stand on the back of my neck.

It must have been a draughty window.

“Oh?”

“Yeah, oh God, Eric, I really have been dying to talk to you about your work. I mean, I know this sounds… really geeky or whatever, but I just love it, all of it,” she sounded excited and passionate about this. It really struck a cord in me somewhere, maybe because Alcide didn’t really get what I was doing for a living, and had no real interest in it. So the main people I talked to, were the people who paid me, not the people with an objective view on my stuff. I tried not to be flattered that the pretty girl liked my work, but as I listened to her name her favourite pieces, or photo shoots, or just one frame or another as we ate, I swear I felt myself blush.

“All of it?”

She paused, her smiled fading and her sarcasm coming back.

“Well, not all of it, I mean, that Rolling Stone shoot with that chick from that one movie? Horrible, horrible,” she laughed.

“You caught me, that was a money gig. I was stuck, it paid well, I did it.”

“Your artistic integrity is cringing for you, sir.”

“Thanks, I’ll be sure to know to come to you when I need a good guilt trip.”

She quirked her eyebrows, “You do that, I give a mean guilt trip.”

I tried not to think what else she gave well, I really did.

“Will ‘Cide be on the end of one of those guilt trips tonight?” I commented, checking my watch. he hadn’t show up, and it was almost ten, which also meant Sookie and I had been talking and eating for almost two hours, and it hadn’t felt that long at all.

She sighed.

“Yes he will, if he knows what’s good for him he’ll take it too. I can’t believe he didn’t tell me you where coming to stay…”

“If it’s trouble I can crash in a hotel. Actually there’s this great little B&B not too far from here -”

She laughed, putting her hands up to stop me.

“No, not at all! You’re more than welcome, goodness. It’s just I would have liked your first impressions of me and my housekeeping skills to be a little less… hectic, and perhaps first impression of me not so …ranting in a bathroom while you shower naked – I’m still so sorry about that by the way.”

I smiled. “Don’t’ worry about it, accidents happen.”

“Yeah, but do they all have to be so mortifying?”

Did I mention her adorableness?

“Hey it’s not often a hot woman attacks me in a shower, it’s a good story to tell.”

“You will do no such thing.”

“I’m kidding.”

She rolled her eyes.

“I am so full I think I might explode.” She noted, looking down at her empty plate. For such a slim girl, she could eat. That was awesome.

“If I could marry their gnocchi I would.”

“Yeah, their sauce was really unusual. I loved it.”

“Yeah, Maria refuses to give me the recipe, it’s an Italian thing I guess.”

“That, or she knows she has you hooked, and you’ll come back for more.”

“That too.”

She motioned to pay the bill that was on the table, and I swiped it from her, only to have her swipe it back, get up from the table and walk to the counter.

“Excuse me -”

“Yes, excuse you, you’re my guest in my home and I couldn’t even cook you dinner on your first night here, least I can do is pay.”

“You didn’t even know I was going to be there.”

“So? That’s hardly the point.”

It was entirely the point, I never got this treatment when I used to crash on Alcide’s couch. In fact I think the nicest thing Debbie ever did for me was give me the fresh milk in my coffee once, and not the sour shit like she’d usually do – ‘accidentally.’

She was a total bitch.

Sookie though, Sookie was awesome, and Alcide was one lucky bastard. Though it was probably a mistake – trying to be her friend, trying to make myself feel nothing but friendly feelings for her, and happiness for them.

Not when I had a crush that would only end up deepening by the day, and not when she seemed to feel the same way. We were headed for disaster, and it started with just that innocent dinner.

If I’d known then what I know now, would I have done it any differently?

Probably not.

That’s how fucked we were.


A/N- Hey guys! Thank you all SO much for the reviews on the 1st chapter, and all the alerts and Pm mgs you guys sent too! It’s all epic and I love it! It’s really inspiring! What did you guys think of this chapter? Do we like Eric? 😉


Chapter 3: Chapter 3


SPOV:

I remember storming to my car, driving in a rage, and when I finally got home, I was still in a mood to rant, so I assumed Alcide was home. Why wouldn’t I? It was only he and I living in the house, why would I have had reason to assume someone else was in the shower.

Well, there was someone else in the shower. A very tall, very Swedish someone else, someone else who was not my boyfriend.

I blushed just thinking about it, again.

I had ranted about Mona, the employee that it had taken forever and a day to train and then for her to walk out of the job at the B&B to the larger, chain of hotels that had just opened it’s newest location not even three blocks away.

Rage didn’t even begin to describe what I felt towards her, but that was forgotten rather quickly when the sheer mortification set in.

I’d barged in on him, while he was stark naked, in my shower.

At first I assumed it was just some sick perverted burglar who got off on showering in other people’s showers or something, but then, he called my name and after I had gotten more than an eyeful of his goods. Did I mention mortified? Because yeah, when I finally got around to looking him in the eyes as he explained everything, I was not mortified so much as, I was mad. Not at him though, it was not his fault, it was Alcide’s. How could he have been so scatterbrained that he’d forget something as important as his best friend flying into the country, never mind that he was shacking up with us, and we’d just moved in three weeks before, the house was a mess, I was a mess, the whole thing was a god damn mess! When I called him I was greeted with his boisterous laughter and honestly, that just pissed me off even more, I was tired, hungry, and angry, that was not such a good mix.

But then, then something even more unexpected happened. Eric and I managed to have dinner, good conversation, and I got to learn about this mystery of a man that I only really knew through those few minutes we had spent flirting, but not really flirting at that bar, and what I got to know, I liked. Then I hated that I liked him, because he was attractive, that much was blatantly obvious with anyone with a set of good working eyes and a smidgen of taste. But, I couldn’t like him, not like that. I was not a single woman, I was taken – even if I hated referring to it that way, I was and that was the long and short of it. It did not matter that I had had a tiny crush on Eric when he was mystery photographer guy, and maybe that crush had only deepened when I realized that mystery photographer guy was now not so mysterious, he was sweet and kind and incredibly talented.

Damn him.

Why couldn’t he have been an asshole? It would have made the slight tingle worthy thoughts I’d had about him very easy to extinguish. But as it stood he seemed like a sweet guy if those few hours at dinner where any indication of his personality. When we’d gotten back

I hadn’t spoken to Alcide since I was still pissed at him for not only not informing me about Eric, but also for missing dinner, had Eric been an asshole he’d have willingly left me alone with him. Instead I left him with Eric leaving them to their boy talk as he looked between both Alcide and I as awkwardly as anyone ever has – and I stomped off to have a long hot shower.

Not at all thinking about what Eric looked like standing in the spot that I then occupied.

Not at all…

When I got into bed, ‘Cide was reading I ignored him with a huff.

“I’m sorry okay, I should have told you he was coming, but honestly it slipped my mind.” He said from the bed, putting down his book and focusing his attention intensely on me.

“Humph.” Was all I could say.

“Look, don’t be mad, Eric wasn’t embarrassed and he doesn’t give a shit what the house looks like, he’s not like that at all.”

“That is just so not the point and you know it. Alcide,” I whispered, knowing Eric was in the next room, “it would have been nice of you to, I don’t know… Ask me if I minded? I mean, this is my house too you know, I mean do you have any other surprise guests lined up for tomorrow or is Eric it.”

“He’s it. I swear, and I am so sorry. I guess I just assumed you’d be fine with it.”

“I am.” I grumbled, “but it would have still been nice to have had a heads up, so I didn’t walk in on the man showering.”

He giggled.

“It’s still not funny, Alcide.”

“I know, but it kind of is, I mean Eric thinks it’s hilarious.”

Ugh, men.

I just rolled my eyes, and he tried to kiss me, apologizing as he did so. He was getting handsy too, and that just was not happening. Despite the epic amounts of sex we had been having since we moved in, it was not happening that night.

I stalled his hands and he looked at me, confused.

“What’s wrong? Do you have your period or somethin?”

“No. We’re just not having sex.”

“Okay… why?”

“Um, hello? Eric is in the next room, he’ll hear us.”

“So?”

“So? That’s gross, and completely embarrassing.”

“Sookie, Eric lived next door to a Japanese brothel for a year, he’s heard people have sex before.”

“Well, he hasn’t heard us and I’d like it to stay that way, thank you.” I clipped and folded my arms. He just sighed at me, as if going without sex would kill him.

“Sweetheart, he won’t care -”

“Again, you don’t seem to get it, I care!”

“Okay, damn, I’m sorry. Forget it then.” He said, now pissed at me for being pissed at him. I switched off my light and attempted to sleep. I tossed and turned for well over an hour before I realized it just was not happening.

It was after 2am when I finally gave in trying to sleep and just went downstairs, if anything maybe some hot milk would help me get sleepy. Maybe, though I doubted it, I was so tired and yet my mind would not stop, so I could just drift off as Alcide was able to, he was snoring within minutes of hitting the pillow – something else that did not help my sudden insomnia either.

I jumped when I saw him sitting in the living room, watching TV. I did not expect him to still be awake. It seems that I startled him too, he was either in a trance or he was lost deep in thought somewhere.

“I didn’t think I’d have to fight anyone for the remote at this hour,” he said, smiling when I walked in.

“No fighting here, I just can’t sleep so was going to try something my Gran always swears by.”

“Hot milk?”

“Yeah, how’d you guess?”

He shrugged, “It’s like a grandparent go to for kids I think, at least it was for mine.”

“You want some?”

“Nah, I’m good. Thanks though.”

I noticed he was sitting in his pyjamas, he did not strike me as a PJ wearing kind of guy though, but then shouldn’t I have been thankful he wasn’t sitting on my new couch naked in the middle of the night? Yes, I was thankful, as hot as he was, that couch was damn expensive.

I made my milk, and maybe grabbed some cookies just to complete my regression to being a five year old and I padded out to the living room, to find Eric watching Gone with the wind, of all things. I laughed.

“Really?”

“What? I’ve never seen it, plus, it was the only thing that wasn’t an infomercial…” he reasoned, but I did not believe him. It had just about started though, but that thing was far too long for this time of the morning, thankfully, I could quote it, so I knew I would not be missing anything. I took my seat in the only available seat which was next to Eric, the seats where being covered and should have already been delivered, but because ‘Cide ‘knew a guy’ it was taking longer to get my old chairs fixed up, but costing much less. I just wanted my chairs.

I was careful not to touch him though; I had done enough that for one day when I just about attacked him in the shower. He seemed to notice, and straightened himself up a little. I did not want to make him uncomfortable, but I could not make myself too comfortable either, it was a fine line with this practical stranger, that my body liked being in the vicinity of.

“What’s it about anyway?” He asked nodding towards the large flat screen.

I raised a brow in his direction, “You’ve really never -”

“I get that it’s about the south and the civil war and stuff, but what has it to do with her-”

Pointing to Scarlett, it made me smile.

“That’s Scarlett, she’s this spoiled idealistic southern girl to begin with, who’s got her pick of any guy in the county, but only has eyes for one guy -”

“The guy with the girlie name,” he nodded and I agreed.

“Ashley, yes, she thinks she loves him and in her own way maybe she does love him, she’s kind of obsessed with the idea of marrying him, but the thing is, he doesn’t want her, he wants Melanie.”

“But she’s his cousin…” it was his turn to raise a brow and I laughed.

“Yeah she is.”

“Ew, that’s just -”

“Hey, it was the done thing in those days, and still now in the shadier parts of the deep, deep south,” I half joked, I wouldn’t put it past some hillbillies to be still all ‘yay’ on the inbreeding thing.

“Anyway, he loves Melly, and Scarlett just loves him and wants him and is jealous of Melly, not realizing that she has an admirer of her own, in Rhett.”

“He’s cool, I like him, and he’s honest… so far.”

“He is, and he adores Scarlett, but she resists him, mainly because he knows the real her -”

“And the Ashley guy doesn’t?”

“Nah, she presents this face to the world, the sweet innocent faultless southern belle, but in reality she’s so much more than what people give her credit for, she’s strong, she’s wilful, she’s kind of crazy. And Rhett sees all of this in her, but sees her good side too, and loves her strength, but she never fully gives herself to him because she’s pining for the other guy. With him she’s set this whole fantasy up in her head about him, and of course it fails to live up to reality, I mean all fantasy does… He rejects her and chooses his cousin but she pines for him for years, ultimately ruining her life.”

“Oh. That’s fucked up.”

“Isn’t it?” I said as I watched Scarlett ascend the grand staircase of twelve oaks. “I do think she loved Rhett in her own way, but just not in the way he needed her to love him, and I guess I get that.”He nodded.

“You guys have some similarities.”

That shocked me.

“Excuse me?”

He smiled, “Not in the spoiled obsessed way, but you both seem to have two… very distinct sides.”

“I don’t -”

“Well from what Alcide tells me, you’re perfect. You are polite, you love your family, you love your job and you love the community. But, no one is perfect Sookie.”

He rolled his eyes, and I do not know why but it made me mad.

“Hey -”

“Not that I’m saying you don’t do all those things, but I’ve only known you a few hours and I can see you’re so much more than that.”

“Meaning?”

“Perfect is boring. You are funny; you are smarter than you let people think you are, you observe a lot… There is more to Sookie Stackhouse other than… what was it Alcide called you? A true Southern Belle? What does that even mean? If I shake you with you make a ding noise?”

I scoffed at him, “No, that’s not what it means; it just means that I’m…” I even cringed saying it really, “considered a lady, by all standards.”

“Ah, and who’s standards are those, then?”

“Huh?” I was not feeling so smart at that moment.

“Who’s setting the bar on whether or not you get to be called a Belle? Or a Lady or whatever? I mean what makes it so?”

“I don’t know, it just is.”

“Sounds kind of ridiculous to me.”

“How so?”

“Well, from what Alcide has told me, your family are very old fashioned, I mean I knew his where all about family and old southern values and stuff, but … I don’t know it just doesn’t seem too realistic.”

“I don’t see too reali-”

“No, the idea of you isn’t too realistic. I mean, I was expecting some step ford bot or something to be honest and dreading it. But what I got was so much more real, and … appealing.”I didn’t zone in on how he licked his lips when he finished that sentence. I really didn’t.

“You’ve known me for like … not even ten hours, what makes you think you have the right to tell me what I am and what I am not?” I challenged, tired and cranky and in the mood for a fight apparently.

“Free speech.”

Sarcastic bastard.

I just sat back in my chair.

“I don’t mean to offend you, Sookie, really I don’t. I just think that whatever and whomever‘s standards you’re trying to live up to, well, it’s just not realistic for a real life, that’s all I mean.”

He shrugged as if it was nothing, and maybe it was nothing, maybe it was just a casual observation, but to me it was so much more than that. To me, it felt like a slap in the face, it wasn’t something I’d considered before, the standards I held myself to, I assumed it was always my doing, but in truth, I knew it wasn’t. It was my families, it was my circle of friends and their pressure to be perfect, what they thought of me, of my actions of my words, it all mattered more to me than what I thought of me.

Shit, maybe I was a Scarlett after all.

“I’m not like her.”

“Who?”

“Scarlett. She’s manipulative and crazy, I might be crazy, everyone is a little, but I’m not manipulative… or spoiled, much, and I don’t go chasing after men I can’t have.”

Hear that self? You. Do. Not. Go. Chasing. Men. You. Can’t. Have.

“I see… Well that’s good. I mean that you are not a bitch. Debbie was a bitch; you don’t seem a thing like her.” He smiled.

“Thanks?”

“It’s a compliment, don’t worry.”

He was so weird.

We fell into silence again and I felt myself getting tired, and I wondered if he was too.

“Are you here on business, Eric?”

“Yeah I am, there’s this film shooting over in Shreveport for the next week or so, I’m here as part of the cinematography crew.”

“Is this another money project?” I asked, sassily, knowing now that he wasn’t immune to them.

He just laughed.

“It’s a blockbuster about a board game, what do you think?”

“I think yes.”

“Smart thought.”

I smiled.

“And you hate it?”

“No, I don’t hate it, I respect the director, I respect the actors, I just think those things are made for mass audiences, and for some reason those studios treat their audiences like they’re idiots,” he shook his head, “we dumb things down, so people don’t have to think, and pretty soon there will be generations of non-thinkers, just drones in front a 3D screen, and that’s sick.”

I had thought back on his other works, his war photography for one, certainly was not made for the non-thinkers of today.

“So why do it?”

He shrugged again, “I guess I’m a bit of a hypocrite huh? I do it for the money so I can focus more freely on the shit I care about without worrying how I’m going to pay my bills.”

“I understand it though, I do.”

“Glad one of us does.” he grinned and I swear I saw him blush as his focus went back to Scarlett and her problems.

I found in enigmatic personality so fascinating. He was a walking contradiction, and I thought back on his work, and I guess that made a little bit more sense now.

“I’m going to attempt some sleep.” I said.

He sighed, “Yeah, my schedule is so screwed up I’m not what time my body is on to be honest. But I guess I should try too.”

We both got up at the same time, as he shut the TV off, leaving us both in the dark, leaving him to walk into me and almost know me into the table.

“Sorry.” he said, then the light of his cell phone lit up the room a little bit, “guess I should have switched on the light again before I shut off the TV.”

“Don’t worry about it.” I said echoing his words to me from my own personal space invasion.

We awkwardly walked up the stairs together, but not together. And when we both got to our respective rooms, he whispered to me.

“Thanks again, Sookie, I mean, for letting me stay here even if Alcide was a forgetful idiot. You could have kicked me out.”

I shook my head and whispered back, “No, I couldn’t, and I never would, you’re a friend now and I always help out a friend.”

“Is that the southern belle in you?” he mocked.

“Well, would you help me if I asked?”

He scratched the back of his head, was he being bashful? Knocked out of my thoughts by his proximity getting closer as he leaned into my ear, the feel of his hot breath on my neck making my hairs stand on end.

“I’d help you with anything you needed, all you’d have to do is ask, Scarlett.”

Sounded innocent, right? And to the naked eye, it was. That was until you actually looked at him as he said it; there was pure lust in his eyes, something that I had not seen from him or his blues since those first few minutes at the bar. My body wanted to shudder at the thought of what kind of ‘help’ he would be able to provide for me, but I fought the reaction and bid him goodnight.

I still didn’t sleep no matter how tired I was, but instead of thoughts of Alcide and our fight, my thoughts where planted firmly with the man in the next room.

Not a good sign, not a good sign at all.


A/N: Sooo what do we think? Slow buring, but It’ll hopefully all start heating up soon! Are we excited for Sunday? Nervous how Alan Ball will manage to fuck this one up? I’m there! Reviews are adored as always, and again as always thank you guys so much for the response on this so far! It’s always nerve wrecking starting a new story, so thanks! xox


Chapter 4: Chapter 4


EPOV:

I’d been there four days, and in all honesty it was the longest four days of my life – including that one time that I slept on the streets for my homeless piece for the New York Times, and that was hard. You see the thing about staying in the house that your crush also happened to live in, with her loved up boyfriend who was also your best friend was, well, she just so happened to be there all the time. Being there, looking like she did, smelling like she smelled, cooking for me – these amazing things for dinner or lunch, or hell, even breakfast. All of this, despite the fact that she had a full time job that by all accounts was seriously demanding on her time, she still managed to do it all.

Alcide seemed to think that this was normal, an expected behaviour. Apparently she liked to make sure her guests where taken care of. It made me feel awkward and lazy to be honest, but Alcide insisted I was insane.

He wasn’t her guest, and yet he acted like one. Not that I’d trust Alcide in the kitchen for a second longer than to make a pop tart, but damn, I felt bad and couldn’t just sit on my ass and let her do it all – despite her many protests.

“You’re putting me to shame, Eric,” he yelled from the living room, a game on and beer in hand. Sookie just rolled her eyes and laughed as I insisted on helping her with the dishes – at least.

“I’m probably in your way more than anything,” I said making the water nice and bubbly, “but where I come from the cook doesn’t clean.”

“You’re not in the way, I appreciate it, even though you are a guest and I really should put my foot down.”

“Why?”

“Well…” she stammered. “It’s just not right, is all.”

“Why though?”

“It’s just not, I mean I’m not saying I have to wait on you hand and foot -”

“Which you have been doing, might I add.”

“I have not.”

“You have too,” I smirked, and she just sighed and continued to dry the dishes. “I found a box in my room today.”

“Oh, yeah sorry about that I asked Alcide to move them but he’s been -”

“No, I mean I don’t care about the boxes, but this one I knocked over when I was getting dressed -”

“How’d you mange that?” she laughed.

“Putting on socks is hard okay, especially standing up.”

She burst out laughing then. “That’s a nice visual…anyway, continue.”

“I found these photographs, these really amazing photographs.”

Her smile faded, “Oh, those, yeah those are just… it’s just a hobby.”

“You’re pretty damn good for it just being a hobby, Sookie.”

She smiled, blushing a little, “I don’t know about that, I don’t do it much anymore, haven’t in a while.”

“Why?”

She shrugged.

“You should, I really liked them, the one of the old house by the trees? The composition was great – the depth, angle, all of it. Haunting.”

“Thanks…” she ran her hand through her hair, clearly this was an uncomfortable subject for her.

“I’m sorry, if you don’t want to talk about it, I get it. Sometimes it’s just expression and forgetting about it.”

She nodded.

“But sometimes you have to talk about it, you have a talent Sookie. You have a really good eye for detail that a lot of people don’t have.” She was blushing again, so I stopped talking. We were done with the dishes, and we both walked back into the living room. Catching the score of the game that Alcide was invested in, I couldn’t have cared less. I didn’t keep up with many sports teams, it was hard to when you weren’t in one place long enough.

She sat next to him, but not so close that it was awkward. I knew she was trying to make me feel comfortable around them and less of a third wheel, but honestly, there was no way I could feel anything but a third wheel. Alcide was oblivious of course as he took her hand and yanked her closer to him, asking her what she was doing on the other side of the couch. I just smiled. He loved her, why wouldn’t he want her as close as possible, never mind who was in the room.

“So, my mom wants us all over for dinner on Sunday. Janice is back in town, and since Eric is here she wants a basic mini family reunion.”

His mother’s cooking was out of this world, there was no way I was turning down that invite, no matter how hard it might be to watch everyone gush over the happy couple.

“I can’t,” Sookie spoke up, with an apologetic face.

“Why not?”

“Well I have to go see Pam, and the only day she’s around is a Sunday, and I really need to talk to her. We said some things that I just need to fix, so I can’t make dinner, but you have Eric and you know your mother probably loves Eric a hell of a lot more than me so -”

“Come on, Sooks, you know she loves you, and it would mean a lot to Jan too if you could come, you know she’s been dying to meet you… Eric man, back me up here.”

Deer in the headlights.

“Oh, um…”

“Don’t bring Eric into this, Alcide.”

He just smirked, “Eric?”

“Sookie, I’d… really appreciate it if you could go, I mean you could distract Janice, she’s a little handsy.”

“Right…. Hey,” he said.

She just laughed.

“How handsy we talkin’ here?”

“Well, last Christmas…”

“Do I need to hear this?” Alcide protested, but I continued.

“She found me in the guest bathroom, and cornered me, to make out.”

“Dude, that’s my sister!”

“Exactly,” I laughed and Sookie laughed, Alcide just looked annoyed.

“She has a crush on you, always has. For some reason…” he smirked.

“She thinks you’re hot, but I think she’s takin’ after Aunt Millie, going blind in her left eye, her vision has to be off somehow…and her judgement.”

“Harsh, really. But I’ll have you know, she does think I’m hot, so hot in fact that she said she wanted to have my babies, you know how babies are made, right Alcide?”

“You…”His face straightened then, clearly I knew how to goad him like a pro, and he fell for it every time. “You’re an asshole of a man, an asshole, talkin’ about fuckin’ my sister like that.”

I held up my hands, “Swear to God I never touched her, despite how often she asked AND directed me, might I add.”

At this point Sookie was cracking up, she was adorable when she laughed, and she also let out a snort which she seemed embarrassed about. Personally, it just endeared her to me more – damn it.

“So, Sookie, I’d really like it if you could come with us, and you know… save me from Alcide’s horny sister.”

She just rolled her eyes, “How could I refuse?”

“Oh I see how it is, you’ll give in to him, but not to me,” Alcide joked but in reality none of us knew just how right he was.

The dinner was amazing, well, the food was, as usual. The company was a little less than welcoming, to Sookie that is, not so much to me. Alcide joked that I was like the son they never had, the prodigal son returns he said, but I wasn’t so worried about what they thought of me, because it was so blatantly obvious that Sookie wasn’t herself. She was twitchy and nervous, she was really quiet too, and looked uncomfortable as hell in those high heels. But she cared, she noticed them talking, knowing they were talking about her, but being fake nice to her face. I saw it in her own face though she tried to hide it well enough, it hurt her to know that they were still judging her.

Instead of Janice finding me in the guest bathroom, this time I found Sookie.

“Can I come in?” I asked after I’d tapped on the door gently. It was open, and she was standing at the sink, her eyes were red.

“Are you o – ”

“I’m fine, Eric, really, you should get back to the game.”

“I hate watching Football. I noticed you weren’t exactly so comfortable down there.”

She sniffled a little but didn’t cry.

“Yeah, I’m just being an idiot, an over sensitive idiot, that’s all.”

“Says who?”

She laughed, “Alcide? He says they love me, but they don’t fucking love me,” her eyes widened. They didn’t approve of cussing in the house. Then she laughed. “Fuck.”

I smiled at her, she liked to break the rules even then, even just little ones.

“And you think they don’t love you, why?”

She raised a brow at me. “You’ve seen them, they all sit there wondering if I’m good enough for him, and I guess they just don’t think I am.”

“They met Debbie, Sookie. Personally, I think they should be kissing your feet.”

That made her smile, I liked that I could do that.

“Thank you, Eric. But I’ll be fine, really. I’m just going to freshen up and I’ll be right down, good as new.”

“You sure?”

She nodded, looking at me through the mirror.

“Okay…” I went to leave, but something brought me back to her. “Sookie?”

“Yeah?”

“Are you busy tomorrow?”

I had no idea what I was doing, why was I doing this?

She looked up, in thought. “No, I have to go drop the books off to my parents, but other than that I’m free, what’s up?”

“I was wondering if you’d want to come to set with me, to check out the movie, and what we’re doing…”

“Really? Oh…that would be cool.” Her eyes lit up for a second, but then she stopped herself, I hated that she reined herself in, it seemed she did it often. “I can’t.”

“Why?”

“I just… it wouldn’t be a good idea, that’s all.”

“Oh…” I tried not to sound disappointed, but I was. “Well, if you change your mind, I’ll be there from six am, so if you want to stop by…” I shrugged, leaving her in the bathroom to go and rejoin the game that I had really no interest in watching.

She came down after me, garnering looks from Janice, and Alcide’s mom.

“Hey Jan,” Alcide began, “you coming to O’Neil’s tomorrow night?”

“What’s tomorrow night?”

Sookie spoke up then. “It’s Hadley’s birthday, so we’re throwing her a party, it should be fun there’s food, a DJ, free shots.”

“Ohh free shots, I’m there,” she smiled, then looked at me. “Will you be there, Eric?”

Would I?

“Oh…”

“You’re not working late, are you man?” Alcide asked, taking Sookie’s hand.

I tried not to focus on that.

“I’m not really sure yet, but if I get back in time, of course…”

“Good, you owe me a dance big boy.” Janice said with a flirting smile in my direction.

Sookie burst out laughing, but realized she wasn’t joking and stopped putting her hand over her mouth to do so. Alcide just laughed at her while Janice and ‘Cide’s mother just glared at her. I wasn’t sure why they had issues with her, or even if it was just a case of them not knowing her well enough yet, but I’d only known her less than a week in person, and I found her to be as open and charming as anything. If they had an issue with her, it was on their part, not hers.

I listened in the car on the way back to their place as Alcide asked Sookie to ‘try a little harder’ with his family, and maybe it was easier – I was just an outsider looking in, but I saw that she was the one trying, they weren’t, but when she told him that, he disagreed. He loved his family, and was nothing if not fiercely loyal to them, so maybe he couldn’t see what I saw? I kept my mouth shut though, it wasn’t my place to interfere. If only I’d kept to that way of thinking, and not interfered but instead of listening to my head, I listened to … was it my heart? Even then, or was it my libido? All I knew was the next day I almost kissed his girlfriend, and worse still, she almost kissed me back.

I’d been on set a few hours when I got the text from Sookie, I was surprised to say the least, but happy that she’d decided to come along. I’d given her directions and given Mike the security guy her name so he could let her in, and when it was time for lunch I saw her, looking a little lost but making her way towards me, Irena the DP, and Sally-Ann one of the makeup girls both of whom I’d known from other shoots.

“Who’s the perky blond?” Irena asked, as always as deadpan as she could make it.

“Sookie! Hi!” I said getting up to greet her.

I saw the two women exchange looks. I ignored it.

“Hi!” she said, hugging me, that was new. “Hi y’all,” she said to the ladies. They just waved to her and exchanged another ‘look.’ I’d ask one of them about that later.

“Sorry, guys this is Sookie Stackhouse she’s a friend of mine from here. Sookie, this is Irena, she’s the director of photography and that girl with the Elmo hair is Sally-Ann.

Sally just glared, “I do not have Elmo hair. At least I am not some weird Swedish tree man.”

“She has Elmo hair and also she SUCKS at comebacks,” I rolled my eyes and Sookie just laughed.

“Well, it’s nice to meet you both, and personally I think your hair is gorgeous, I’d love to have the courage to do something so bold!”

“You should, it’s very liberating,” Sally said, looking Sookie up and down. Sookie smiled, polite as ever.

“I’m going to show Sookie around, catch you guys later.”

“Oh, really. Is that what you’re calling it now?” Irena commented, and her tone wasn’t missed by either Sookie or me.

“So, what made you change your mind?” I asked as we got to the end of the set tour, and I was going to show her the cameras we all got to work with. She just shrugged, then looked at me.

“I don’t know why I said no in the first place, I really wanted to see what you do, and it’s really interesting, and the people are just great. Everyone seems so welcoming.”

“Yeah, I’ve worked on projects like this before. It’s like a big circus really, but ultimately these people… they become like your family. Home away from home no matter where you are, you know?”

“Sounds like a nomadic dream.”

“It can be.”

I lost her then, as she seemed to go deep in thought I pulled her back though.

“You want to see the cameras? My camera is awesome, it’s my baby.”

“And you’re letting me touch it?” Her eyes widened as I handed her the very, very expensive piece of equipment.

“I’ve see your work, I’m confident you can point and shoot, even with something this expensive.”

And she was as confident as the confidence I had in her, she reached for it, adjusted her settings and shot the set, little things where her focus, the crate of hay for dressing the set, the rails of clothes, the random homeless cat that was just wandering around. Then she handed it back to me.

“See, my photos are lame, they’re what a fifteen year old with Myspace access would shoot,” she said, dejected as she took a seat on one of the crates, staring out into the set, seemingly a million miles away in seconds. I shot her in quick succession, as she sat there in her chequered sundress, looking every inch the effortless beauty Queen trying so hard to hide that sadness in her eyes. I’d see how the shots turned out later but for that moment I just wanted that sad look to leave her. I didn’t know what caused it, but I wanted to be the reason she smiled.

“Hey, you want to get out of here? I was going to have lunch here, but we could go into town if you’re hungry?”

“Are you hungry?” she asked me, again, making sure someone else was taken care of before herself.

“Yeah, you?”

“A little. Yeah, let’s go.”

We took her car, enjoying the sunny day that it had turned out to be, the windows down and the radio up. The familiar strings of one of my favourite songs started up and I started to hum along.

“You like this song?”

“Linger? Yeah it’s good, an oldie, but a goodie, right?”

What was I saying? Why where these cringe-worthy words coming out of my mouth? And yet she smiled, so I didn’t feel so awkward.

“I like it, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard it though. It’s a sad song.”

“It is… but most beautiful things tend to have a certain sadness to them,” I looked at her, making my point.

She looked back and just shook her head.

“I’m not sad.”

“You seem sad, sometimes.”

“Well, I’m not. Okay? And besides, you don’t even know me, so how the hell would you know what me being sad is and what isn’t?” She jumped in total defensive mode, and I just stayed silent.

That seemed to upset her even more. After we pulled up at the small café, she got out and slammed the door.

I walked in silently next to her, and we both ordered sandwiches and soda. Then she spoke up.

“To go, please.”

And I assumed she was ditching me, maybe this is how Sookie handled her anger, I thought. But then she surprised me again.

“You coming?” She asked, leading the way across the street to a small park that had picnic benches.

I still didn’t say anything. I wanted her to lead this conversation.

“I’m not sad, okay?”

“Okay,” was all I said. Apparently that wasn’t good enough.

“Why do you think it? Am I miserable or something?”

“No,” I said, chewing my food as discreetly as I could. “You just have….this look sometimes. Like you’re lost.”

She narrowed her eyebrows at me, still in defensive mode.

“Lost? This coming from the guy who doesn’t have a home! That’s rich.”

“Just because I don’t have a house, doesn’t mean I don’t have a home, Sookie.”

“Oh, like the the Japanese brothel house? I’m sure that was fun for someone like you.”

“Someone like me, what?”

“Just… someone like you.”

“And what am I like? I’d enjoy living beside a brothel because I’m, what, a whore?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“No, but you implied it.”

“I just don’t get you…”

“Who says you have to get me?”

“Stop it, okay.”

“Stop what?”

“Stop being so damn cryptic. I don’t mean you’re whore, I just… don’t know how you can live how you live.”

“I live free Sookie, can you say the same about yourself?”

“I’m an American,” she jutted out her chin at me. “Of course I live free.”

I just smirked, I could do nothing else.

“Okay sweetheart, you keep telling yourself that.”

“I’m not your sweetheart.”

I just raised a brow at her. I liked this Sookie, she had bite. A bite she was hiding behind that shy Southern persona of hers.

“And I’m not fucking sad, trapped, or sweet. Got it?”

I just laughed, I couldn’t help myself. I laughed long and loud. At first she was looking around to see who was looking at us, still concerned with her image as she was, then I guess she realized how ridiculous it all sounded and started to laugh, too.

“You’re an asshole.”

“Oh, ouch. Sweet Sookie how could you say such a thing.”

“I’m not sweet, that’s how,” I got hit by a piece of sweet corn for my comments, she just got hit by a pepper for hers.

Then a bit of chicken, then another pepper.

“Asshole.”

Sweetheart.”

She glared, I laughed, and we ended up heading back to her car in a much better mood than when we left it.

She walked me to the security section of the set, “I need to be getting back, but will I see you at Hadley’s party tonight?” she asked, and I started to feel like I was on a date, dangerous ground considering who she was and who I knew her to be with. And yet, did it stop me from hugging her goodbye? Did it stop me from letting it linger?

Did it stop her from allowing me to linger?

No, it didn’t, nor did it stop either of us from leaning in after said hug, and leaning, and leaning. I wanted to kiss her, her eyes on my mouth told me she wanted to kiss me too.

She pulled back though, and we both stood there awkwardly for what felt like forever, but I knew it to be mere seconds.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know what I was …”she stammered. “Shit I’m so sorry I -”

“I’m sorry too.”

“You are?” She seemed surprised by that. Shouldn’t she have been expecting that I’d be as apologetic as her?

“Of course. I mean I’d never… well I’d … we’d never -”

“No… of course not, I don’t know what that was.”

“Momentary… something.”

She nodded, folding her arms across her chest. “Exactly, it’s not like we’d ever mean to -”

“No, Alcide he’s my best friend and you’re his.”

“Right,” she nodded, it seemed more to herself than me. “We don’t need to tell him about this, do we?”

“Nothing happened, Sookie, what is there to tell?”

“Right, because I’m Alcide’s, and you’re his best friend, and we’d never, ever do that.”

I nodded, but really? We would do that, we do, do that. And no matter how hard we fought it, or tried to ignore it, the connection was there, and it was like two magnets, no matter how far I ran from her, from those feelings, they weren’t going away. They weren’t meant to.


*wriggles brows* I think the jealous monster might pop up at Hadley’s party, for Sookie that is. Thoughts, comments, concerns? All welcome!

On the TB subject – I loved it, Queen Bill? Isn’t it just more reason for Eric to poke fun at him? I think it is. I loved all the E/S banter, and ep two was better than ep1 imo! 🙂


Chapter 5: Chapter 5


SPOV:

The music was loud and obnoxious, as it always was, the bar was packed full, not only was it a Monday night, which meant things should have been fairly quiet, but no, Hadley’s party was definitely the place to be. Hadley knew a lot of people, who knew a lot more people who all felt the need to come by for her, for the free drinks or the free food or generally just to be there. So, there we were, struggling to get a space at the bar, my stilettos jamming my toes already, and my black dress riding up my ass – which wasn’t helped by Alcide’s hand roaming that area either. Not that I blame him, Eric had been here almost a week and in that time we hadn’t had sex. Mainly because I was so creeped out by the idea that Eric would hear me, hear us, fucking in the next room. I internally shuddered. No, sex was private and personal and not something, you did with a guest in the other room, the walls where thin, and I did not want him knowing what I sounded like having sex with his best friend. And the thing was, I was loud, not overly porn star loud, but if it was good, which it usually was, then I liked to be vocally appreciative. Slightly hypocritical though maybe? I didn’t want him knowing what I sounded like with Alcide but it doesn’t mean that I haven’t thought about what it might be like to do it with him, or what I would sound like with him, or even what he’d sound like with me.

Horrible and completely wrong I know, I was with Alcide, I was happy despite what Eric mused in my direction, I was falling in love with him – ‘Cide, not Eric.

At least I think it was ‘Cide and not Eric, though after the day we’d spent together, the day that in a few short hours Eric made me feel a million different things – from amazing and open, to ‘hey your life is a lie, and you’re doing a shit job at hiding it‘ to almost kissing him.

What was THAT about? Seriously, I could have kicked myself for even thinking about it, never mind almost doing it. But then, he almost did it too, so did that mean he was wanting to kiss me? And if he wanted to kiss me, why did he want it? He knew I belonged to his best friend and still he leaned, he totally leaned. But then, so did I and definitely knew I was taken.

Can you see my confusion here? Why my head was mixed up and muddled beyond anything that made sense to me? Yes I was aware it was all sort of self inflicted, but it didn’t make it any easier.

So, as I stood, kissing my boyfriend and trying to teach him how to cop a feel discreetly, and get a drink all at once I tried to sort my mind out.

And that mission was going well, we were drinking, we were dancing, Alcide and I were flirting and teasing each other, and everything was going swimmingly. That was until Pam walked in, and I realized she and I had not spoken in weeks, my mood instantly took a nosedive, and then right after her, Eric walked in, in his faded jeans and well worn black tee. My heart sped up, my mind again started to race with thoughts of lust, and guilt and lusty guilt. I had to ignore him though, I had to make things right with Pam, so I excused myself to go find her, looking back I then found Alcide go to Eric at the bar.

I tried not to think about how Eric looked around the room when he approached, he wasn’t looking for me, he just wasn’t’.

I found Pam in the bathroom, checking her makeup as she always did, it was as always perfect.

“Hi.”

“Oh, you remember me, then?” She said through the mirror, and I knew right then this wasn’t going to be an easy conversation.

“Can we just apologise and move on from this, Pam? Please? I hate not speaking to you, I miss my friend, and I’m sorry for the things I said to you.”

She looked me in the eye then.

“I still think he’s not good enough for you, and I can’t change that opinion.”

I understood that.

“I know, and I still think you’re leading Stan on, and need to fish or cut bait, but that’s just my thoughts and I’m willing to bet you have your reasons for putting off a wedding for so long… and I’m also willing to bet that you’d change your mind about Alcide of you just got to know him. Please? Come have a drink with us.”

She rolled her eyes, hugged me fast and told me that the first round was on me.

“So, Eric, what do you do?” Pam asked him, after introductions were made. I saw her standing there, taking him all in, her hand on her hip, being as intimidating as ever, Eric though, took it in his stride.

“I’m a photographer, what do you do, Pam?”

“A lot of things.”

He just smirked and nodded, she continued, “How long have you been staying with Sookie and….”

Alcide.” Alcide interjected, giving me a look of ‘she’s still doing this, really?’ I just shrugged.

“Yes, him.”

“Just a little while, I’m leaving in a couple of days actually.”

“You are?” I spoke up, not trying to sound surprised but my guess was, I failed since Pam, Eric and Alcide all looked at me quickly.

“Uh, yeah, the shoot doesn’t really need me anymore and I have a couple of magazine deals booked in LA so I have to go where the money is, you know.”

“So you do it for the money?” Pam asked, sounding bored.

“Well, everyone has to earn a living, Pam, right? I mean, those of us without a trust fund to fall back on I guess.”

Ouch.

Pam just raised her brow.

“But no, I don’t just do it for the money, if it was about the money I would have gone into Law like my dad wanted, maybe opened some pretentious practice and over-charged people and made a mint being a lazy fat cat in a tie. But I couldn’t do that.”

“Why?” I asked. I was sure why I asked, but his choices interested me.

“I didn’t love it. So I knew I’d be fucking miserable and if I’m going to be miserable I’d rather it be at my own choices rather than following the path others have set out for me.” He said, taking a sip of his drink, eyeballing me in the process. I felt naked, like he could see through me in a way that no one else could, or had even tried to before.

“Well, goodie for you.” Pam said, now disinterested, “why don’t you boys go away over there and talk… whatever it is you talk about while Sookie and I stay here and talk about you, hmm?”

The guys looked at each other, and shrugged. I chided Pam for being rude, but she just ignored me.

“So, that has been staying in your house for a week and you forgot to tell me?”

“I didn’t forget, I just didn’t think we were speaking to each other, that’s all, so what does it matter?”

“Let’s see, he’s tall, I guess he’s attractive, he’s sweet and he’s a photographer, it’s like God or whoever just made a man for you and set him on a plate in front of you, and you think it’s not a big deal? Interesting.”

“What?”

“He’s like your ideal guy, Sookie. Am I the only one who sees it?”

“He’s Alcide’s best friend, Pam, and he’s a friend of mine now, that’s all.”

“Oh, right, okay sure, he’s a friend. A friend that was blatantly eye fucking you, in front of HIS friend. Real nice.”

“He was not.”

“Yeah, he was. And honestly you where a little too interested in him, too.”

“It’s called making polite conversation, you know that thing you NEVER try and do.”

“Ha.” She said, deadpan, ordering us two more cosmopolitans.

I glanced over and he and Alcide where deep in conversation, but then Eric caught me looking so I faced the bar, and Pam again.

“Have you heard from Tara?”

“No,” she said, “last I heard she was enjoying an extended honeymoon, and probably mostly fucking her husband.”

She rolled her eyes, “She wants babies, why I have no idea, but now that she’s married they’ve finally got rid of the condoms and I guess she’s excited about that.”

It was a general rule among our families, no babies – absolutely no babies before that wedding ring went on. If you did, it was a disgrace to the family, and mostly you where shunned. It was an idiotic rule, but it was one that was enforced pretty strongly, especially in my family. Hadley had an ‘unfortunate accident’ when she as sixteen, it was promptly ‘taken care of’ though. I do not think it is ever something Hadley forgave my aunt for, and, as such it always made me want to protect her, and spoil her like the little sister I never had.

Speaking of the birthday girl, she was in full swing, and by swing I mean literally, she was latched on to her friend Rob, he was her fuck buddy, and just about everyone knew that. She didn’t love him, though he had a crush on her, and it was never ever going to end well. She spotted us and came charging over, a big goofy – and drunk smile – on her face.

“Cousin! Friend!” she said, hugging both Pam and I.

“Happy Birthday, Hadley.” Pam said, nodding to the table, “Your gift from me is on the table, it’s expensive so don’t fucking lose it.”

“I won’t! Thank you.”

“Mine…””Sookie, I love the necklace but can I have your friend instead?”

“What?”

“Eric, can I have him for my birthday?” she asked, obviously turning to look for him, and when she spotted him, she smiled, and waved seductively. I could never wave at anyone like that, I would end up looking like a lost girl scout or something, and Hadley managed to wave as if she knew the secrets to everything a guy wanted. Do not ask me how; I was not privy to that sort of talent.

“Oh.”

“Is he single, Sookie?” Pam asked, looking between Hadley and me.

“Um, well, I don’t know…”

“You don’t know? He has been staying with you for almost a week, and you don’t ‘know‘ if he is seeing someone? Please.” Pam chided.

“I…I think he might be, I guess I don’t know him that well.”

“Really?” Hadley said, sipping her drink, “Alcide said you guys have hung out a bit since he’s been here, I was hoping you could give me the scoop on him!” She smiled, excited, almost jumping on the spot. My guess someone bought her a drink with a Red bull mixer again, that never ended well.

“Oh, so you’ve been hanging out with the Swedish tree, huh, Sookie?” Pam asked, her question a veiled or not so veiled innuendo.

“Well, yes. I am hosting him as a guest in my house of course I was going to be polite.” I dismissed her look as best I could.

“Okay, come on, introduce me to him please. He needs to be kissed and I need to kiss him, or whatever else he wants.”

“Hadley…” I sighed, “he’s leaving in two days, please don’t go getting attached to him, it’s only going to end badly.”

“Who said anything about being attached? Well, for more than a couple of hours at least.” She wriggled her brows at me and I just downed my drink, I really didn’t want to have to deal with this right now.

As I introduced Eric to Hadley, I knew Pam was paying close attention to me and Alcide pulled me into his lap, team that with Eric’s confused look as to why my cousin was so blatantly flirting with him. Well, I was uncomfortable as all hell, and yet I sat there. I sat there I watched her flirt with him, like a flying brick in her not so subtle approach too, with the touching and the giggling and the gross eye fucking.

“Let’s dance.” I said to Alcide, pulling him off the chair and heading to the dance floor to try to distract myself from that horrible sinking feeling that was starting in the pit of my stomach.

“Are you okay, Sook?”

“Of course I am.”

He made me look at him, pulling me closer, “you don’t seem okay; you seem really freaked out or something.”

Oh, now he notices. Nice.

I closed my eyes, and took his hands bringing us closer still, and I kissed him, hard and deep. I didn’t want to talk, I just wanted to feel, and I didn’t want to feel like shit – which is what I felt knowing he was going to fuck my cousin.

“I want to go.”

“Go where? Aren’t you having fun?”

“No, I am…I just want us to go home and be together – alone.”

It took him a second, but then it registered, what I was offering him.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. I just want us to be together, I just want you.”

He nodded, “Okay, give me five minutes to make excuses and call a cab, I’ll meet you out front in ten?”

I nodded, kissing him, “I just have to run to the ladies room, but, do your thing.”

I peed, I washed, I pimped and I fluffed my hair, I slipped on some lip-gloss and made my way to the door of the ladies room, banging straight into Eric on his way to the men’s room.

“Sorry – oh, hey, there you are.”

“Here I am.” I said.

“Having fun?”

“Sure… We’re just leaving though.”

Oh.” He looked somewhat disappointed, but I ignored it, maybe he was just drunk.

“Yeah, Alcide and I just need some time alone I think, and well, it’s not like Hadley will miss us now that she has you to keep her occupied.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“What?”

I sighed, then answered my own question, “it’s nothing, never mind, just have a good night, and please just make it obvious to her that you’re leaving in a couple of days, okay? Don’t false promise her things, because I’ll be the one having to deal with the fall out.”

“What fall out, we’re just talking.”

“Right…” I laughed.

“What?”

“Just talking? Dude, her hand was practically in your lap, she’s not just talking to you, she’s flirting and wanting to have…” I took a deep breath, and stopped myself, it really wasn’t my business, no matter how icky it made me feel.

“Look, I don’t care; just have a good night or whatever.”

He grabbed my arm to stop me from leaving and I looked at him, and then looked out, the corner of the walls kept the rest of the bar out of sight, and as such kept us out of sight from the rest of the bar.

“Why does it bother you so much that she was flirting with me, Sookie?”

I scoffed, “It doesn’t.”

“Liar.”

“Shut up, I’m not lying. Just, fuck her; do whatever she wants I don’t even care. Because I have my own boyfriend who loves me, and who I love, and I don’t care about you. Or who you fuck for that matter.”

“Is that right.”

“Yep.” I nodded.

“Sookie, never play poker, you suck at lying.”

“You suck, in general.” I spat.

“Mature.”

“Shut up.” I grabbed his hand that was still resting on my arm; he wasn’t hurting me or forcing me to stay, so I just lifted his hand off me to move around him.

“If you don’t want to sleep with her, I won’t.”

He said when I was about to walk away.

“I won’t.” He said again, this time looking at me, as if he was trying to read the answer from my head.

“What I want or what I think shouldn’t matter to you. Why would -”

“I just would, okay? If it’s something you feel strongly about, then I won’t touch her.”

“Do you… want to touch her?”

He shrugged, “She’s hot, and she’s …there. No offence or anything, but yeah you are right she is offering it to me on a plate here, and I have not been laid in… a while. So, all logic tells me to take her up on her offer, but then something else tells me that it would be a bad idea if I did.”

“What’s that something else?”

“Conscience? Inner voice, upstairs brain – maybe?” He smiled, “or maybe it was the sheer pained expression on your face when you saw us together.”

“Again, why should you care what I think it doesn’t -”

“Because I do, alright, I do care… what you think.”

I blinked, not really sure to do with all the information, or what he was really saying behind his words, and what he was saying with the actual words he was using either, it was all rather confusing, that and I was kind of drunk.

“I don’t want you to sleep with her.”

I admitted, and it scared me to do that. I was starting to panic and maybe the buzz of the alcohol was starting to wear off.

“Why?”

“I don’t… you didn’t ask me to tell you why, you just asked if that’s what I wanted, or… didn’t want. And it’s what I don’t want.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know okay? I just don’t like it. And you can do what you want, but you asked me and that’s my answer. I don’t have anymore answers for you.”

I didn’t notice until right then, but I was still holding onto his hand. I pulled away fast, as if it burned me to touch him, and I apologised.

“There is a reason you don’t want to sleep with your cousin, but then there’s another reason why you didn’t kiss me today, like I know you wanted to.”

I looked behind us again, really what was he doing talking about this, and in public, where people where? I could have smacked him.

“Will you shush?”

“Why?”

“Jesus, Eric, hello? If someone heard you…”

“So, what if they did, nothing happened!”

“I know but something… almost happened!”

“Oh, right so someone can get screwed over for something that almost happened? Please.”

“You’re sounding like Pam right now.” I rolled my eyes.

“Yeah, well, she speaks the truth, you should listen to her.”

“Like she speaks the truth when she thinks that Alcide isn’t good enough for me, or we’ll never last, or he doesn’t love me like I need loving? Do you agree with that? Do you?”

He looked to the ground, and then looked to me.

“He’s my boy, and I’d do anything for him, and he does love you.”

It was his turned to look pained.

“I know that. Which is the answer to yet another question, why I didn’t kiss you? I love him. I want to be with HIM.”

He bit his lip, and looked through me almost.

“You sure about that?”

“Yes. I am sure. Whatever I was feeling, whatever that was that made me almost … do what I did. It was wrong and stupid, and reckless. And I am none of those things. I never have been and I never will be. I love him, and he loves me, and we’re going to be together and have a life together no matter what you, or Pam or his mother thinks.”

He nodded before he leaned in, slowly might I add, to plant one soft kiss on my cheek near my ear.

“Then I wish you luck, Sookie. Both of you… Goodnight.”

I was left bone cold when he walked away from me, I think I must have stood there for a few seconds just feeling… numb? I wasn’t sure what the feeling was all I knew was I didn’t like feeling it. So, I went in search of Alcide, and I found him chatting with the cab driver, waiting for me.

“Finally, I was starting to think you got lost!” he laughed taking my hand and leading me into the cab.

“No, not lost. I’m right here.”

Wasn’t I?

“Good, ready to go home?”I nodded, and allowed myself to sink into my boyfriends arms on the way home and for the rest of the night. I woke up the next morning to flowers on the kitchen table and a note from Eric to Alcide and me.

“Had to check out early, hung-over as hell, Pam knows how to party. Thanks for letting me stay and being so cool about everything. I’ll keep in touch, Eric.”

He would keep in touch, sporadically but it would be a year before I saw Eric Northman again. And in that year, everything and nothing at all would have changed.


A/N: Hi guys! Thank you so much for all the previous reviews and private mail, and alerts and all that good stuff, it’s epic! 😀 Happy 4th to all my American readers! Since I’m not American myself we don’t really do 4th of July, but to those that do, hope you’re planning fun times! Reviews are adored as always! I read and love them all! xox


Chapter 6: Chapter 6


EPOV:

I walked into that men’s room, and splashed a shit ton of water on my face. What the hell was I doing? Why couldn’t I just leave her alone? Why couldn’t I just go, fuck her hot cousin, and not want it to be Sookie instead?

Why?

I took a deep breath, and tried to pull myself together. I knew when I went out there she would be gone, gone back to her cute little perfect town house to fuck my best friend.

My best friend.

Why did I keep forgetting that? My loyalty should have been to him, he was there for me through a lot of things. My parents divorce, numerous disastrous break-ups,

life with my father, he was there for me. And there I was repaying his loyalty by lusting after his girl. I was a rat bastard and deserved to be kicked in the balls for

thinking about her like that.

But then, there she was and there he was and it was clear to anyone with a set of eyes that they just weren’t right for each other. A square peg trying to fit into round holes, and it just was not going to work. I mean sure, they could force it, and make it work against all the odds and if their love was true it could prevail and all that

good Shakespearean shit, but realistically, it just was not right.

“Viking Boy.”

I turned around from the bar, and found Sookie’s friend Pam standing there.

“Hi, Pam.”

“Hi yourself. You look far too sober right now, shot?” She held up some black looking shit in a shot glass and I promptly threw it back as fast as I could. It tasted like

tar.

“Jesus.”

“Mary, and Joseph, there is more where that came from, you look like you need it.” She said.

I didn’t really need it, or so I thought. But, three hours and too many drinks to could later I was in a large apartment not too far from the bar, it belonged to Pam. Pam,

Hadley, and about eight or nine other random people where there too, all of us off our trolley – so to speak.

“So, you don’t want to fuck.” Hadley slurred, bouncing down on the couch beside me.

“Sorry. You’re really hot and pretty and all, I just can’t.”

“You gay?”

“No…”

“I once fucked a gay guy, it still works for some of them, though then he told me afterwards he was really gay and maybe we shouldn’t drink together any more… it was

weird.” She looked confused at her own topic of conversation.

“I’m sorry, I just can’t.”

“Is there someone else?”

“Sort of.” I admitted, and she nodded.

“She’s a lucky girl, most guys, being away from their girlfriends would probably just fuck whoever offered. At least that’s how most guys I’ve met roll.”

“That’s not fair though, you’re an awesome girl.”

“But not awesome enough for you -”

“Hey now…” I stopped her, “you don’t really want us to get together tonight.”

“I don’t?”

“No… for one, we’re both sloshed, it would be gross and messy.”

She giggled.

“And two,” I said, “I haven’t been laid in… like… eight months, it wouldn’t be very memorable for you and I couldn’t do that.”

“Awe.” She petted my hair, she smelled like blue bubblegum. “You’re so cute, Eric.”

“So cute and wasted.” Pam interjected, sitting down on the other side of me, sliding off her insanely high heels.

“Pam! I love you.” Hadley said, hugging her friend who just pushed her off, letting her land on her ass.

“Ouch! Bitch.” Hadley said, rubbing her ass, that was now probably going to bruise.

“Deal with it.” Pam rolled her eyes as Hadley walked… or I guess staggered into the kitchen.

“So, you have a crush on Sookie then.”

“What?”

“Soo-key. Blonde, nice tits, you’ve been sleeping in her spare room all week, that one.”

“I know who she – I do not!”

“Sure you don’t, just like you weren’t eye-fucking her, and she wasn’t all eyelash a flutter over you.”

“She’s with Alcide.”

Yeeah.” She drawled, her southern accent becoming more and more pronounced through out the night I had noticed, “And don’t we all know it. Alcide this, that, and

the other. It is amazing the things she will do to convince herself of something. It’s amazing what we all do, to convince ourselves of things that aren’t true.”

“Oh, and what’s your thing?”

She shook her head saying no, “this isn’t about me, and it’s about you and your little crush.”

“It’s a crush, that’s all it is. It’s innocent.”

She smirked.

“It is, I’d … we … it just isn’t going to happen okay?”

“Why?”

“Because she loves him, he loves her, he’s my best friend and I wouldn’t -”

“Wouldn’t you?”

“Pam…”

“If she offered, right now, would you turn her down?”

I hesitated, and that seemed to be all the evidence she needed.

Jesus she as a tough one.

“She won’t offer though, not as long as she’s still hell bent on being his wife.”

“She wants that?”

“It’s what we’re all told to want, Eric. Trust me, if you met our families, you’d understand.” She sighed, “It doesn’t matter what you really want, they tell you what you

should want and some of us like to buy into the dream – their dream. Just as it was their dream for us to be known as ‘ladies’, just like it was their dream to push every

one of us into every Goddamn pageant in the state – and beyond. But it’s not what most of us want, we just pretend we do.”

“And what do you want, really, Pam?”

“I would just like to be honest. That’s all, be honest and now be shush’d or frowned upon, honest and loved for what I am and who I am, and hell, who we ALL are. I

just…” Her sadness worried me, for a woman that had such… well; she had balls, this sudden mini outburst of emotion seemed out of character for her, even though I

hardly knew her.

“Hey Eric?” she said, snapping me out of my trance, “Let’s go get a drink!”

And that was one of the last things I remember, besides then being dropped off on Sookie’s doorstep just as the sun was coming up. I walked into the silent house,

and even though I was still very drunk and somewhat starving, I knew I had to get out of dodge. Things were too complicated with her, and I figured that if I went

away, things would be… less so?

Even in that reasoning I was wrong though, when I left my pitiful note and packed – still somewhat drunk, and got a cab to the airport just as my hangover kicked in. I

realized I’d never really get away from her. I didn’t want to be away, but I knew that being that close to her and not being able to behave like every urge and thought

in my brain was telling me to behave that it would just be hell. So I avoided her, and him, and their little fucked up fairytale, for months. I went four months without

emailing Alcide back, until one day I got one from Sookie. When I saw her name pop up on my screen, I swear my heart started to beat faster, I was excited and

nervous and I was a little scared – and at that point it was just her email address.

She told me that she’d gotten my email address from Alcide, and that she was emailing me because HE was worried about me, worried that something was wrong, that I was laying dead in a ditch somewhere with a Canon with a new lens around my neck, and that they’d both appreciate if he could call or text or email just to let them know I was alive.

And to stop being an asshole.

The end.

No, hi how are you, no, how’s life? No, just email my boyfriend so he’ll stop worrying about you. Oh, and I was an asshole.

I mulled over it as I went to work, and I kept on mulling until it just pissed me off so much that I pulled out my Blackberry and messaged her back.

‘I’m fine, been really busy – excuses, excuses, I know. Let him know I’m sorry. Or I’ll let him know myself, whatever.’

And I clicked send. And then I wish I hadn’t because the next call I got was from her.

“Why are you being so rude, Eric?”

Again, no hello, no nothing. It had been almost five months since I’d seen her at that point, and I guess she was over the pleasantries.

“Hello to you too, you know you’re being rude too.”

“Oh, really? Like going five months without a word?”

“Well, yeah. He knows the phone works both ways, Sookie. As you prove so well right now.”

She sighed.

“He was worried, that’s all.”

“Was he the only one that was worried?”

Do not ask me where I got the balls to ask her that, I do not know.

She was silent for a second, and then she spoke.

“You’re my friend; of course I was worried about you. He told me you check in every couple of weeks, it really fucked him up, Eric.”

“I’m sorry. I am, I will call him. I promise.”

“Thank you.”

Awkward silence.

“Where are you anyway?” She asked.

“Right now, London, working late, getting ready to head home actually.”

“And… where is home these days?”

“A tiny little B&B in the east end. It’s dodgy as fuck, but they do great breakfasts.”

She laughed.

“Don’t worry; your breakfast is still in the top two.” I said.

“Really? That’s good to know. Who tops my breakfast?”

I blushed, she couldn’t even see me, and I blushed.

“My mom.”

I could almost hear her smile.

“Aw Eric that’s so sweet. I promise I won’t tell anyone.” She whispered.

“Good. And hey, listen I am sorry I haven’t been in touch -”

“You just left…” she said and I felt like an asshole.

“Yeah…”

Silence.

“Well anyway…” she forced herself to perk up, ” I’m glad you’re okay, and yeah, do call him. He misses you.”

I miss you, I thought, but didn’t say it.

“Of course. I promise.”

“Okay, take care, Eric.”

“You too.”

And when she hung up the phone, I’d felt like someone punched me in the gut.

I hung up the phone, and then I searched for Alcide’s number. I didn’t want to call him, the guilt I had been feeling for whatever the hell I was feeling for Sookie was

holding me back. Every time I’d see him when I was there I wanted to just tell him, just tell him that I liked his girl in a way I shouldn’t have been liking her, oh, and that

I was jealous of him and really hated that she loved him. Asshole, right?

Right.

Which is a massive part of the reason why I hadn’t been in touch as much as I had been in the past, but I had to man up, and I dialled the number.

“Oh, so you’re alive then?” He answered.

“Yeah I am, sorry man, life just got… busy.”

“Sad excuse asshole.”

“I know, I know. How are you?”

“I’m good, really good actually, I’m glad you’re alive, and remembered how to use your damn phone,” he sighed, “but listen man, I need some good unbiased advice

here.”

“And you’re asking me?”

He laughed, “Well yeah, I mean I know you’ll be honest with me.”

“Okay, shoot.”

“I want to ask Sookie to marry me.”

Another shot in the gut, I had to sit down.

“Oh…”

“Oh? Don’t you like her?”

Yes, I like her, I more than like her and I hate that you like her! I wanted to say, but did not.

“No, yeah, no I do.”

“Sound more awkward, Eric. I mean you guys spent a lot of time together when you where here, I know you, if you didn’t like her you would have made your excuses to

bail.”

You mean as I did when I left with a pathetic note on your kitchen table?

“No, I do like her, I really like her.”

“So you think it’s a good idea then?”

“No.” I face palmed, what the hell was I doing?

“No? Why?”

“Well, man, why are you rushing into this, you guys haven’t even been together a year yet. And you’re both still young… and I thought you said you didn’t want to get

married before you where thirty-five? Twenty-nine doesn’t equal thirty- five. You know? I mean you don’t want to rush into something. Look what happened with

Debbie.”

“Yeah,” he sighed, “I just think it’s what she wants, you know?”

“So, it’s not what you want?”

“Well, no, like you said my goal was mid thirties to settle down and have kids, but I don’t want to lose her either and I think it’s what she really wants.”

“So you’re willing to jump the gun so soon?”

He was silent and I continued to face palm, what the hell was I doing? Why was I being like this?

“Alcide, you’ll do what you want, you always do, but you just answered me and told me this isn’t really what you want, you did it with Debbie because it’s what she

wanted, or it’s what you thought she wanted. So maybe just talk to Sookie this time?”

“But I have, man, her family are piling on the pressure for her to get married now that her brother has gotten married, she’s next and they want grandbabies man.”

“And you can’t knock her up without a ring?” I joked.

“No, are you kidding? They’d freak.”

“She’s twenty six, not sixteen.”

“That’s still not how it works, not with them. No ring, no babies.”

“Jesus…” I knew they were old fashioned, but damn.

“Yeah.”

“Look man, just think it over this time, okay? Give it some time maybe, just to make sure. If she loves you, she’ll wait for you… isn’t that what they say? True love

waits?”

Or maybe it was that it didn’t wait, I didn’t know much about love, and I knew even less on the quotes on the subject.

“I guess you’re right. Thanks… and I won’t let it out that you like to speak in gay sonnets.”

“Asshole.”

“Awe, love you too.”

I rolled my eyes and we promised to get better at keeping in touch, I’d text, and I’d email, but it would be almost nine months before I’d actually talk to him again face

to face.

In those thirteen months away from them, and more specifically away from her, I was able to function. I was able to date. Nothing lasted more than a few months

though, the idea of being with someone for more than a few days at a time without a break terrified me. And, it seemed that most girls I tried to get close to just went

and got clingy real fast, which was not ideal when I changed cities, hell, countries, every few weeks. As much as I wanted a quieter more personally substantial life, I

just was not really sure how to achieve it, or if it was even something that was possible for me.

When I pulled up outside their house in my rental car, I debated with myself if I should go in or not. I had been back in Louisiana a day; I was staying at this little B&B

in New Orleans, not too far from where they lived, this time I wasn’t going to crash. For one, I was in town for a month, and two, I knew I couldn’t handle it. A week

was torture enough last time, a month might have killed me. I didn’t go in, I couldn’t. I called him though, and she answered.

“Eric?”

“Oh, hey… I um, is Alcide there?”

“No, he forgot his phone; he’s always forgetting his phone.” She laughed, “Are you okay?”

“Uh, yeah I am, I’m…Yeah. How are you?”

“Good. I’m tanning.” I heard her smile and I ignored the mental images of what Sookie might look like in a bikini, in my head it was red and very

well fitting.

Damn it.

“Oh. Good, well that is … nice. Um, I’m in town actually.” I coughed.

“You are? How long have you been here?” She sounded really surprised, which was expected since no one knew I was in town.

“A couple of days…”

“Oh.” She sounded disappointed, but then again that could have just been wishful thinking on my part.

“Yeah, I’m staying in this little B&B, Esplanade Avenue…”

“Wait, which one?” She asked, sounded surprised again.

“Um the Lanaux?”

Then she started laughing, “What? Sookie, what’s funny?”

“You know, you really should have called before you checked in there, the boss could have given you a really, really good discount.”

“You know the boss?”

“I AM the boss. That’s my family’s place. I run it for them now though.”

Well damn.

She was still laughing when she started talking again, “Did they give you a good room?”

“Erm, room six.”

“Ouch, yeah not so good. I’ll get you a better one, with a less lumpy mattress, how’s that?”

“That would be amazing.” I smiled.

“Why don’t you call over. Pam and I are here, we are going to make lunch, and you are more than welcome to join us. In fact she’s poking me in the shoulder insisting

you do, so please say yes before I bruise.”

I smiled, and then I agreed.

Yes, I was an easy, easy idiot.

I drove around the block a few times, you know, so it didn’t appear that I was being a creepy creeper being creepy. I bought some flowers for Sookie, and a bottle of

wine, which I could say was me embracing my manners, unlike last time, I didn’t want to just be there with nothing, and abuse her hospitality like I had done. No, that

was a solid enough reason not to impose on the happy couple, right?

At least that’s what I was telling myself.

When I got to the door though Sookie and Pam. Pam greeted me smiled and hugged me.

“Northman, good to see you again! Sadly I’ve been called away so I have to go.” She jerked her brows at me with a smile, I wasn’t too sure what that meant.

“Hey Pam, that’s too bad, I was looking forward to catching up with you… minus the tequila.”

She shuddered, “I haven’t touched it since might I add, I really can’t even remember what we did that night.”

Sookie smiled at us both, God; she was even more beautiful than I remembered.

“Hey, Sookie.”

“Hey yourself.”

I hugged her, and she smelled so good, like fabric softener and coco butter.

“Well call me if you’re in town for a while, Eric. We’ll do dinner, no drinking.” Pam said still a sour look on her face.

“Yes Ma’am.” I nodded and she sashayed down the steps of the house and Sookie invited me in.

“I called Alcide,” she said, “he’s working until five but um, he’s booking you for beers some night this week if you’re free. He’s gonna call you himself, but you know he’s busy on a job and -”

“its fine, we’ll catch up, we always do.” I said to stop her babbling, and she was babbling, tucking her curled hair behind her ears, nervously.

“Good, that’s good. He misses you.”

“I miss him, too.”

“Really?”

There was that surprised look on her face again, and I wondered if we were still talking about Alcide.

“Yeah of course, he’s a friend and a good one at that; those aren’t easy to come by.”

“Right. Of course. I… do you want something to drink, or eat, or um…”

“Sookie?”

“Yeah?”

“Why are you so nervous?”

“What? I’m not.”

Lying.

“You are… it’s just me, Sookie.”

She nodded, this time clasping her hands together and sitting down on the couch. It was obvious she had been out in the sun and just thrown a dress over her bikini

over it, the dress was white and the bikini wasn’t red but blue.

“I’m sorry I just… I am nervous, I don’t know why though I mean I know it’s just you, but I wasn’t really expecting to see you again, and right now even and it’s just a

little weird.”

“Why?”

She looked at me, pointedly then.

“After everything we said, and… almost did, last time, I mean I’m not really sure how act here.”

Oh, yeah, that, I thought. That was all I’d thought about for a long time, but she was here, which meant she was still in love with Alcide and I was still the asshole that

hated that fact.

“Sookie, don’t worry anything okay? That was a long time ago… okay it was… time ago.” I smiled, making her smile, “we’re friends right? And I’m sure whatever

awkwardness that happened before, well, I’d hope we’d be adult enough to have dealt with it over time, and move on.”

She nodded enthusiastically.

“Right, of course you’re right. Well, it’s still good to see you. I want to fix your room at the B&B, who was working when you checked in?”

“Um, screechy red headed woman, real thin, really, really pale.”

“Arlene.” she said, rolling her eyes, “she’s so damn lazy, she just doesn’t care, but we keep her around anyway.” she sighed.

“I’m going to call and have them reserve room two for you, for one thing it has a King, and your feet might actually not fall out of the bed when you lay down.” she

smiled, still as considerate for other people’s needs I observed.

“You really don’t need to…”

“You like that little twin bed?”

“Well, no…”

She just raised her brows and dialled her phone.

“Arlene, its Sookie. No… no… yes… no… Look I’m not working today so take this up with Claudine, what do you mean she never came back from lunch? Jesus… okay,

never mind, just bump them up to the deluxe package and apologize. Yeah, okay good. I’m calling about the customer in room six, yeah…” she smiled, and then blushed

whatever Arlene was saying she was reacting too. Interesting. I wondered if it was about me. It was probably about me since Sookie looked away when I caught her

gazing at me as her friend talked on, and on. When she finally got off the phone, she sighed.

“I really do wonder why I bother employing other people sometimes. Anyway, as soon as you go back, just talk to whoever is on desk and they’ll relocate you.”

“Thanks Sookie, it’s really nice of you.”

“Well, I’m really nice, don’t you know?” she winked as we walked out the back to the deck, it was such a hot day out, I’d forgotten what Louisiana summers became

and what I became as a result. We had sat talking for maybe ten minutes when the doorbell went again. I heard chattering inside, and then a wide-eyed Sookie and

another woman greeted me.

“Eric, meet my mother, Susan, mom this is Alcide’s friend, Eric.”

She was not an overly tall woman, about Sookie’s height; she had the same eyes, but lacked the warmth and kindness that lived in her daughter. Instead, she had an

air of expectation about her; she was a snob, which was painfully obvious from the second I laid eyes on her.

“How charming.” came her words in a much stronger accent than even Sookie had, it was old style Southern, charm and judgement in her conversation disguised as

polite conversation.

“Well, Eric I’ve just heard so much about you, I’d thought I’d never get the pleasure to meet you. Alcide speaks so highly of you, as does my daughter, it seems you’ve

made quite the impression…” her last word was with a look of utter distain, though I pretended not to notice. What I did notice however was how Sookie’s demeanour

changed, her confidence shrank and she sat there quietly, not speaking.

“I hope it was a good impression…”

“Oh yes, it would seem so. Since your last visit my daughter has taken up her little hobby again, distracting her from work, but still, it’s nice to have little distractions

now and then, isn’t it, dear?” she aimed at Sookie and she just nodded.

“You did?” I asked, “Sookie, that’s great, really. I think you have a lot to offer if you work at -”

“The reason I called, Sookie I need you to go check on your Grandmother, I have several meeting today and I just do not have the time, and she’s been harping on and

on about us going to see her -”

“You said she didn’t want visitors?” Sookie said, clearly confused.

Her mother just waved her hand, “well now, she does. So, I’d like you to go, you’re off work today aren’t you?” She looked around the deck, the glasses of wine and

fruit where still sitting from Pam’s visit, as was Pam’s jacket. “And I see Pamela was here… lovely. Eric can you drive her?”

“Sorry?”

“To Bon Temps, can you drive Sookie?”

“Oh -”

“Mom, no he’s busy, and I only had a glass of wine, I can go in a little bit. I’m fine.” She protested, but her mother dismissed it.

“Eric are you busy?” Susan asked, fixing her stare at me.

Shit, she was intense.

“Um, well actually…” Sookie was shaking her head ‘yes’ behind me, but I could lie to her mother, she was glaring at me and I had the feeling like she’d slap me if I

disagreed or something.

“No, I’m done with work for the day so I can take her if she wants.”

“Excellent, that’s that settled then. Darling.” She air kissed Sookie’s cheeks before doing the same to me, and swanning out the door again in her high heels and pencil

skirt dress.

“That’s your mom?” I asked, and she just rolled her eyes.

“Yes, that would be hurricane Susan. I’m so sorry about her, she can be a little pushy, and you really don’t have to drive me, I can drive myself later, it’s really -”

“Sookie I was working long hours yesterday, so I’m off today, I’ve nothing planned. I can take you it’s no problem. And you know, one drink does make you more at

risk, and we really don’t want that now do we?”

And I want to spend time with you, I thought I’d be able to stay away from you, but turns out, I like to lie to myself… I thought.

“And besides, I want to hear more about your ‘little hobby’,” I said with a smirk and air quotes, making her smile.

“If you’re sure then?”

“I am.”

“Okay, let me go get changed really quickly, we can pick things up for Gran on the way there, it’s about a half hour’s drive from here…”

“I’ve never been there before; will I need my Sat Nav?”

She just laughed.

“Oh, Eric, I don’t think even the world’s smartest Sat Nav would have Bon Temps on there. It’s fine though I’ll be your human Sat Nav.” She said, with a smile before she disappeared inside the house and I heard her feet running upstairs. It gave me a little time to look around the house, so much had been changed in it since they had moved in, and since the last time I had been there. It looked a lot more lived in now, no boxes, more photos. That’s what I noticed first, the photos. Alcide and Sookie doing the thing most couples did and hung their photos all over their house.

Then there were other photos, edited ones, family shots – a guy that looked like Sookie’s mom, then a man who I assumed was her father and a smaller elderly woman with a sweet smile and happy eyes, holding on to Sookie in front of a birthday cake. I assumed this was her Grandmother, and I for one was happy to meet her since she seemed – even just from her photos, a hell of a lot more friendly than Sookie’s mother did. I wondered if maybe that is where Sookie got her warmth? Well, I guess I was about to find out.


A/N: Hey guys, first off sorry about the wait, life and other things got in the way as usual and two, the layout of this is wonky and I’ve tried to edit it as best as I can but if it’s still wonky paste it into a word doc and space it for less ‘I’m going to make you blind’ content! Thank you all so much for sticking with this so far, we’re getting into E/S and the ever present problems with liking each other slowly but surely and I promise it’s coming 😉 As always thoughts / rants/ questions are welcomed. Enjoy AE tonight too! 😀 xox


Chapter 7: Chapter 7


SPOV:

Getting that call from Eric really shocked me, mostly because it wasn’t my phone ringing and because he told me, he was in town. Neither of which I was expecting. Of course Pam eavesdropping as usual, poked at me and insisted I invite him over, and I did, even though I wasn’t all that sure how things were going to be between us. We had left things on such an awkward inappropriate conversation that I was not sure how to act, what to say, or even how to be – around him. It made me nervous because for the better part of a year, I had been able to put him out of my head – for the most part anyway. I kept myself busy, I was working so hard and I had started photographing again, it was a hobby, but it was something that I missed and I guess him being around even for that short period of time it made me want to try again. Of course, Alcide thought it was ‘cute’ and my mother thought it was a ‘waste’ of my time, but I enjoyed it, and even if it was never something I would pursue, it was something that relaxed me. Why the hell shouldn’t I do it?

“I wonder why he’s staying at a B&B this time?” Pam commented as I tried my best to give the deck a quick tidy.

I just shrugged, “he’s probably busy, he seemed to be really tense here last time, I guess it can’t be easy just sharing with a couple.”

“You think that’s why he was tense?” She laughed.

“Yes… Why else would he be?”

She just shook her head at me, “Sookie he… no you know what it’s not my business.”

“Since when have you ever let that stop you?”

She nodded, “True, but hey, I like Eric, he’s a nice guy – genuinely, and he can hold his liquor, always fun.”

“Unlike you who barfs at the sight of tequila now.”

“It was heavy night that night, something you’d have partaken in had you stuck around, but instead you snuck off home like a little floozy to have sex!”

“With my boyfriend, how does that make me a floozy?” I poked her, playfully. Not mentioning that the sex that night left a lot to be desired, and to be honest all the sex there after, but that was not what that conversation was about.

“You’re right it doesn’t make you a floozy, it makes you boring. My mistake.”

“I am not boring.”

“Lil bit…”

“Pam, I’m not!”

“Yes, you are, and that’s fine, it’s who you are, you can’t change that.” She teased.

I just glared at her and she giggled, I hated that she could wind me up so easily.

“Well, I must dash.”

“Dash where? Why is there dashing? He’s coming here and you’re the one that invited him!”

“Noo.” She sounded out, “You are, and you can … I don’t know, entertain him or something.”

“How?”

Sorry I asked that. She just wriggled her brows at me suggestively.

“I’m sure you’ll think of something.”

With that, the doorbell went and there he was. And after a year away, he stood there as beautiful as ever, a little tanner, his hair a little shorter, but it was still him, in all his six-four built like a brick-shit-house glory. I wanted to sigh, but I didn’t, instead I found myself starting to panic.

Shit.

The conversation was awkward and stilted, and he and I both knew it. And we both knew why, even if either one of us wasn’t all that willing to admit it to each other, or hell, even ourselves. And then, oh then, my lovely mother and her attitude arrived and basically forced Eric to take me to see my Dad’s mother, my Grandmother Adele. Eric looked like a deer in the headlights, I wanted to say that this was my world, but I just kept my mouth shut, knowing my mother was assessing him for all he was worth and she had only just laid eyes on him. Of course she’d heard a little about him in the past year, he was one of the main reasons why I kick-started my ‘little hobby’ again, and of course being Alcide’s friend, he came up in stories or conversation now and then, I could tell though that my mother took an instant disliking to him. Of course she would not matter how sweet, polite and kind he acted towards her, my mother had a tendency to pre-judge people and fit them into her ideal of what they should be like in her head. It didn’t matter if that’s who you really where, to her, that’s who you became. Much like my Daddy, and Jason, and even me. It did not matter what we were really like, what we were in her eyes was all that was supposed to matter.

We took my car, and were on the road a few minutes when Eric started messing with my iPod that I’d hooked up to my radio.

“We really need to get you some better music, Sookie; so many angry or sensitive chicks can’t be good for the soul.”

“Hey, there’s nothing wrong with my taste in music!”

“Except that you don’t have any.” He smirked.

“Hush you.”

“So, what’s your Grandmother like? She like your mother?” He asked, widening his eyes making me laugh.

“No, she’s my Dad’s mom, and she’s the sweetest woman you’ll ever meet. My parents would work a lot when Jason and I were kids, so we spent a lot of time with her in Bon Temp, when my mother wasn’t travelling the pageant circuit with me that is, but she’s nothing like my mom. She’s a lot like my Dad actually.”

“In that she has a soul?”

He joked, but sometimes I wondered if she really didn’t have a soul, she sure as hell acted like it at times.

“No, just sweet.”

“So, you were a real life, pageant kid turned Beauty Queen, huh?” He asked and I just blushed.

“I sure was. That was long time ago though.”

“Not so long ago, and it’s obvious, you’re very…” he stopped himself, but the started again, “you’re very beautiful…I can’t believe I just said something that cheesy.” He shook his head at himself and looked out the window.

“I can’t believe you said something that cheesy either.” I smirked, “but thank you all the same.”

“I mean I know I’m just stunning too, it’s hard to look at me really…” he joked, and I laughed because he was making the dorkiest face I’d ever seen while praising himself.

I just rolled my eyes, and took control of my music again, shitty taste or not, driver picked the music.

“Did you like it?”

“The pageants?”

“Yeah.”

“Not really, I mean they were fun at first, but after a while, it was more fun for my mom than it was for me. I kind of just wanted to go play in dirt like a regular kid, you know? But never could, ladies, and beauty queens don’t play in the dirt.” I was being honest, more honest with him on that subject than I’d been with anyone in a while.

“Well that sucks.”

“I guess, I’m over it though.”

At least I thought I was turns out old perfectionist habits die really hard. We pulled up at my Grandmother’s farmhouse a short time later, mid-afternoon sun still beating down on us as we pulled into the drive way, and watching Eric unfold himself from my car was not something I’d forget in a hurry. He was far too big for that thing.

“Sookie is that you honey?”

Came the voice from the porch, and I smiled. I loved spending time with my Gran, but with work, and my mother’s apparent insistence that she didn’t want to be bothered, the time I spent with her was a lot less than I’d have liked ideally.

“Yeah Gran it’s me, and I brought a friend.” I called back and I knew she would be in the kitchen in no time.

“She’s sweet, but she’s a little…” I touched my head, “these days, so if she starts to retell you the same story over, just know it is something she does from time to time.” I said and Eric nodded, while I grabbed the bags of groceries from the car, it’s not like she didn’t have her nursing assistant who came three times a week to visit her, and the neighbours to fetch her shopping for her, but I never arrived anywhere empty handed, it just wasn’t polite.

“Oh honey you didn’t have to bring me anything! Maxine Fortenberry takes me into town every other day now. I was at the library, and the store, and even church, I’m fine!” she said wiping her wet hands on her ever-present apron to hug me.

“I know, Gran, but here it is anyway.” I said putting the bags on the counter.

“And who is this?” I saw her nod to Eric who just sort of stood in the doorway, awkward and tall, his hands shoved into the pockets of his jeans. How someone his size could manage to look like a little kid all of a sudden, I’d never know.

“Well son, you coming in or going out?” She said, ushering Eric inside.

“Gran this is Eric Northman. He’s a friend of mine… and Alcide’s.”

“Nice to meet you Mrs Stackhouse.” He said, as polite as I had ever seen him, he was nervous, it was somewhat adorable.

“Its Adele, honey, and it’s a pleasure to meet you, my you’re a tall one too ain’t you? Sookie, all these tall good looking men, where do you find them.”

I just looked at Eric and smiled, “Weirdly Gran I think they have a way of finding Me.”

That made him smile. He seemed to relax a lot more when my Gran insisted on making us cups of coffee, there were cakes and treats brought out too, and the ‘special china’ that she used for guests. My Gran was adorable, and did things old school, but she was not so behind the times, in fact at times I felt she was more modern than my mother was. It was my Gran who I knew to go to when I wanted to quit pageants, I told her once, and that is all it took – after years of complaining to my mother, it was my Gran that made it so. I loved her for that.

“Well now Eric you sure don’t sound like you’re really from around these here parts, where is that accent from?”

“Everywhere. Its fuc- it is messed up. I was born and raised in Sweden though, but I spent a lot of my adolescence here in the States, my Dad worked for the Swedish Military, and did some work for the US too on and off before he retired.”

“Oh, that’s nice, is that how you met Alcide, I know Sookie told me he’s an ex Military man, though I haven’t met his family myself.” She looked at me, raising her brow.

“Yeah, yes.” He corrected himself, it was sweet that he was trying to be as polite as possible to my Gran, not that she’d really tell him off otherwise, but it showed me that he was trying to make a good impression, not something I ever thought that Eric would have cared about. He seemed so carefree in that department. He was who he was and if someone did not like that, well then, fuck them. But here it was obvious he did care.

We talked about the neighbours, her church group, and the decedents of the Civil War meetings that she liked to attend, and of course her Oprah book club. It made me realize how much I missed spending quality time with my Gran, and I promised myself that no matter what my mamma said, I’d make it my business to see a hell of a lot more of her. In fact, in the time Eric and I spent talking to her, she never once forgot where she was or what she was talking about. It made me wonder if she was just putting it on as an act before, to make my mother leave. Gran never did like my mother much; she saw her coldness and could never fully accept that her son had fallen for a woman so self-involved. To her credit though, she did not meddle in their marriage. She had said he had made his bed, and invited her into it. It was his problem to solve. My Gran did not like to over complicate things where it was not necessary… if only I had inherited that skill. Sadly, I knew I never would, since it just seemed like every turn I took seemed to complicate my life over and over. Including the one I took with Eric in my Gran’s garage. He had asked her if there was anything she needed, and she took full advantage of having a ‘spry young man’ around the house and asked him to lug some boxes from the spare bedroom to the garage for sorting and donations. Of course, I helped, and kept Eric company as we worked, Gran just took her knitting to the porch swing with some sweet tea.

“Be careful down there now, Sookie, those floorboards ain’t as strong as they used to be!”

“We will Gran.” I said, not looking back as I took one of the last boxes down and in for sorting.

“Is Adele a pack rat?” He asked as he started to look through the boxes.

“Seems so! I swear most of this stuff should have been thrown out years ago. She’s sentimental though and I know even this amount was hard for her to rustle up.” I said opening one of the smaller boxes to root for things to put in the one big giant donation box. Old toys, old magazines, clothes, hats, Gran loved her Sunday church hats.

“This is cool though, it’s her life, and it’s her things. There are probably some good memories here.”

I nodded, ignoring the fact that we were standing so close that our elbows were touching from time to time, or that his arm would graze mine as we went about packing – or the fact that it would send a shiver through me.

“There are, but I think it’s important to hold onto to sometimes, otherwise you’re just living with a bunch of memories, and not making room for new ones.”

“I agree.”

“Do you have ‘things’?” I asked.

He smiled, “What kind of things?”

“Things like these, memories.”

“Well, I’m not big on church hats…” he clarified, “but yeah, I keep things that mean something to me, back home, or in storage. It’s not a lot of things, but what I do keep, it does mean something.”

“It’s good, I find it comforting.”

“I think photos serve the same purpose, they always have done. That moment, saved forever on film.” He shrugged, “sometimes they’re all you need to remember something good…”

“Yeah that’s true.” I said as we both continued to fold and pack.

“You aren’t going to tell me when you started again, then?”

“Oh…” I said, blushing, why I was blushing I had no idea, I hated how easily my body betrayed me around him, “It’s just a hobby, I’ve done some work for the local paper in New Orleans, not state wide, it’s just this little weekly, covers fairs and parties and stuff, but it’s practice.”

“That’s great, really Sookie. I’m sort of proud of you… is that weird?” He squinted, and then smiled, it was not weird. It was flattering.

“No, it’s not weird. Thank you.”

“Can I see some of your work?”I looked at him then, wide eyed, “Oh, I don’t … I don’t know if that’s… it’s nothing special I promise, there is nothing ground breaking there… just state fairs and old ladies with cakes.”

“Come on, please?” He whined, “I’ll show you mine… if you show me yours?” he said, completely deadpan, but the look in his eyes was far too playful for my liking. He lasted maybe five seconds before he burst out laughing.

“No.”

“Please?”

“No! They’re not even very good…” I dismissed, but he was still adamant.

“I can be the judge of that, okay you don’t even have to be with me, just … I don’t know, email me them or something.”

I thought about it, that would be the lesser of all the awkward scenarios, and I agreed.

“What’s this?” He held up something from one of the boxes, and I instantly recognised it. I tried to snap it off him, but he was too fast, and too tall for me to reach it before he held it in the air.

“Sookie, where you a … cheerleader?”

“No!”

“Oh, but this is a cheerleading costume and unless your Gran is into that sort of thing, I think this belongs to you.” He teased.

“Ugh, okay so yes, fine, I was a cheerleader but only for senior year, that’s all.” I said trying to grab the uniform off him, to no avail.

“Can I have it back now…?” I asked, getting a little aggravated with him and his sexy smirk.

“I can’t imagine you as a cheerleader… oh, wait, no… I definitely can.”

He closed his eyes, still smirking and it made me punch him in the arm.

“I’m just kidding, you should keep this though.”

“Oh for what? A kink revisited?”

“Well… now that you mention it…”

Another slap was earned and he laughed, “No, it’s the memories thing we were talking about, I’m sure this was a good time for you.”

I guess he was right, in a way it was, but in another way it wasn’t – it was still high school – no matter how peppy you tried to be. I thought I was being smart leaning over to the side to reach it out of his grasp but he just shifted again, sending me against the wonky floorboard causing me to lose my footing, sliding without any elegance what so ever, into his arms.

“You okay?” He looked alarmed.

“I’m good, but could be doing with you giving me back my uniform now, and no more teasing! Look what happens when you do!” Realizing I was still very much in his arms, I refused to allow myself the luxury of letting it feel okay.

“No more teasing.” He whispered, and suddenly his lips where on mine – soft, warm, eager to explore, but I couldn’t! And just as suddenly, I yanked myself from his gentle grasp.

“What the hell?” I said, backing away from him.

“I’m sorry… I… I’m sorry.” He said with wide eyes that held a guilty look, as I’m sure my own did.

I touched my lips, still in shock that he did it.

“No, you know what, I’m not sorry.”

He said made me look at him, the awkwardness just wasn’t happening. I thought he’d… we’d… gotten over whatever there was bubbling between us, either we had or I’d gotten really good at lying to myself, I wasn’t so sure anymore.

“What?”

“I’m not sorry.”

He walked towards me, backing me up against the old kitchen table that had a home in the garage for more years than I could remember.

“I wanted to kiss you, hell, I’ve wanted to kiss you since the second I met you, and I know I’m not kidding myself when I say that I know you wanted to kiss me too, so I’m not sorry I did it. I’m only sorry you stopped me.”

He admitted, certain anger in his eyes, but then there was softness there too.

“Eric…”

“No, okay. I get it believe me, and I wish I didn’t, but I do feel… things… for you… and I thought I was over whatever it was, or it was fleeting or lust filled and just nothing real. But then, seeing you again -”

I stopped him, not with my words, but with my mouth. It was as if my brain shut down, all sense flew out that small dusty window to my left and all I knew was that I needed to taste him again. And I did, and he did, and the next thing I knew I was backed up against the table again, this time his hands fisting in my hair as he softly moaned against my mouth each time we’d break for air, my hands gripping his t-shirt feeling the toned smooth skin underneath. Both of us battling for dominance in the kiss itself, but as he back to run his fingers on my scalp making me shiver and my body go slightly limp, he won out and I just stood there letting him kiss me like he clearly knew how. Warm, wet, wanting, it was all there, the pent up frustration, the tension, the desire – all in one little – or not so little in this case – kiss. Before I came to my senses, he did first. Backing away from me, he closed his eyes as if he were in pain, and just walked out of the garage. Leaving me standing there not knowing which way was up quite frankly, the guilt that seeped into me was almost over whelming.

What the fuck did I just do?

And more importantly, why did I do it?


*Peeks out from behind the curtain*

And so, it begins.

Thoughts, concerns, reviews, rants, all welcome bbs! And as always thank you all for your continued support of my weird imagination lol! xox


Chapter 8: Chapter 8


SPOV:

Two nights after The Kiss, as I’d been referring to it in my head, I had to endure a family dinner. Not just any family dinner, oh, no. My mother’s birthday dinner, so it involved a lot of planning, and a lot of uncomfortable clothing. It also involved my family, her friends, Alcide’s family, and at Alcide’s assistance, it also involved Eric. I was already seated when he came through the door, in a grey jacket and dark jeans, with a white shirt underneath and a rather scared as hell look on his face. His eyes shot directly to me, I simply looked at my lap as Alcide made introductions to everyone that didn’t know who he was. He took a seat next to my Gran, and it seemed that she for one, was thrilled, patting his arm and diving right into conversation. My mother didn’t acknowledge him at all, until he gave her the gift he’d brought with him.

“Oh, you really shouldn’t have.” She said, actually blushing when Alcide interrupted.

“Nonsense, Eric is nothing if not polite.” He said, clearly ribbing Eric as he simply smiled.

“It’s just a small gift, last minute…” he trailed off, looking at me again.

A small gift it was, but it was a beautiful Yes Saint Laurent cashmere scarf, the price I was sure wasn’t lost on my mother. It wasn’t lost on me either, why was he being so generous? And with HER of all people? I tried not to think about it, or him as we made our way through the first course, and my father talked Eric’s ear off about his ‘line of business’. He answered graciously, even when my mother dare to insinuate that it wasn’t a ‘real job’ by the end of his explanation I think she had been schooled at the fact that it was very much a REAL job. My Gran sang his praises, and my father seemed more than interested in his ‘nomadic way of life’ according to my mother at least. I just rolled my eyes and tucked into my food, letting them all play with their new toy. Senna, the maid came to refill my wine glass, and I asked her instead if I could have a Redbull. That idea was shut down right away.

“You will not, Sookie, it’s crude. Drink your wine.” I mother chided, loudly. Causing Eric’s eyes to land on me, not that he’d taken them off me much.

“I don’t want wine.” I said, and nodded to Senna who just looked at my mother in fear. Jesus Fucking Christ.

“You know what, doesn’t matter I’ll go get it myself.” I said, excusing myself as I heard my father sigh and I stomped off into the kitchen.

My mother followed me a few seconds later.

“You just had to make a scene didn’t you?” She said, clearly pissed off.

“It’s just a soda, Jesus.”

“Don’t bring Jesus into this young lady.” I just sighed and ignored her, adding ice to my Redbull.

“Come back to the table and leave that trash in the kitchen.”

“I’m not done yet.” I said, clearly defying her and pissing her off even more, screw her, I needed a breather from that dining room so badly that I’d have drank petrol to get out of it. I sipped my drink, painfully slow, until she huffed and turned on her heel exiting the kitchen. Then my dad came in.

“Not you too, it’s just a -”

“Sookie you know I don’t care what you drink, and I know you’re just doing this to piss your mother off.”

“She started it.”

“Yes, she usually does, but pumpkin, you’re usually woman enough to finish it. Please don’t be causing anymore scenes tonight. The Ryan’s are here, and you know how important they are to your mother -”

“Dad, why invite me or Jason for that matter, she doesn’t talk TO us anymore, she just talks AT us. It’s not fun.”

He hugged me and walked with me out through the other exit of the kitchen and into the hall, then into his study, “I know, honey, I know.”

I just sighed.

“Alcide’s friend Eric…” He said.

I froze.

“What about him?”

“He seems like a nice guy, and he stood up to your mother and impressed her all at once, that’s not easy.”

My mouth went dry and I was starting to sweat.

“Oh, well, yeah he’s… he’s nice. He’s you know, he’s nice.”

“You said that.” He smiled. “If he’s so nice how come you haven’t talked to him since he came in? I thought he was your friend too? Alcide tells me you and he got along like a house on fire.”

More like liar, liar, pants on fire.

“Oh, I… yeah we did…”

He looked at me then, again, “well good, you need more outsider friends.”

“Huh?”

“Come on, honey, here is always a little… stifling. And your group of friends is hardly … well, open minded. I do listen to you, you know.”

“I know you do, I don’t know what I’d do without you.” he just smiled. “Why don’t you rescue Eric from your mother.”

“What? Why?”

“Well when I left he was getting the third degree, and really there is only so much interrupting Alcide can manage before it starts to look odd. Dinner is over anyway, show him the property or something… you and Alcide of course.”

“Oh…”I breathed a sigh of relief, “yeah, okay, that I can do.”

“Are you okay? You’ve been jumpy all night. And that,” he pointed to my drink, “can’t be helping.” I just rolled my eyes playfully and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

“I’m fine.”

I walked to the dining room to find most of the guests had been taken into the drawing room, I found Alcide and Eric in the kitchen, sneaking beer like two teenagers.

“There you are.” ‘Cide said wrapped an arm around my neck and pulling me in underneath for a cuddle. I avoided eye contact with Eric – again. “Where’d you get to?” Alcide asked, still not letting me go, it felt uncomfortable, given our company. I tried to squirm away, but he wasn’t having it, he held me close. It felt as if he was trying to make a point.

Or then again maybe I was paranoid.

“I was talking to my dad. He wants us to show Eric the place.” I shrugged not really knowing why he wanted that.

“Oh yeah,” Eric spoke up after taking a long sip of his beer, “I’m scouting, unofficially for this movie, they need as many Antebellum properties as possible, and this one definitely fits the bill, from what I’ve seen…I was talking to your dad about it briefly.”

“Oh.”

“Well that’s great, Sookie knows this place like the back of her hand, she can show you around.”

What?” Eric and I said in unison.

He just looked at us like we’d two heads, when in reality it was just two-faced not two-headed is what we were.

“I have to take my mom home, she’s had some wine…”

“You’ve had beer.” I pointed out.

“One, and not even a full one, like three sips, I’m fine, and I’ll come back. Hell I’ll probably be back by the time you show him the whole place.”

“It does not take twenty minutes to walk…” He kissed me on the lips, quickly, with a small laugh.

“Take care of this one for me will you, Eric, she worries too much.” Before he walked back to the living room.

Well, fuck.

Eric shifted, I looked around for means of escape. The last time he and I where alone together, things took a turn for the worst, that wouldn’t be happening again.

“You don’t have to show me around, I have a pretty good sense of direction and it’s not that big…”

“What’s the project?” I interrupted.

“Pre-Civil war epic that the director of my current job is doing next, she told me to keep an eye out… and coming here tonight, seeing it all lit up… it’s beautiful.”

It really was beautiful. My dad had bought it for my mom as a wedding present and they’d renovated almost every inch staying so true to the original character of the place, you’d hardly know it was all ‘new’.

“Cool, well, let’s go before it gets too late.” I said as I headed for the back door, and he followed dutifully. Neither of us said anything as we passed the porch, and got further away from the house. Then he spoke.

“Alcide insisted I come here tonight, it’s the only reason I -”

“It’s fine, really… I don’t mind.”

I mind. It was so awkward in there, and your mother sure knows how to channel her inner bitch.”

I laughed, he was too blunt about things.

“She does.”

“It was mean of her to do that in front of all those snobby bitches.” He whispered.

I just shrugged, “it wasn’t the first time, I’m used to it.”

“That’s sad.”

“What is?”

“That you’re so used to her belittling you that you just accept it as normal. I don’t know how you don’t just snap. I know I would.” He said as we made our way past the stables, and the three big Oak trees that sat to the left. I hopped over the fencing and he followed, not having to hop so much as extend his stupidly long leg over and there he was.

“There’s a lake down here, it’s real pretty in the summer time, it’s fresh water too, it runs from an old well not too far from here. No one comes that far down though since it’s through this muck, but it’s worth it.” I said tiptoeing past the cow dung as I did. Eric on the other hand wasn’t so careful.

“Aw shit!” he said.

Literally.” I answered and he just scowled at me in return. “Walk it off, Northman, come on.”

I smiled and walked ahead of him, as he continued to curse and wipe his boots in the grass.

When I got to the lake, I let go of the breath I hadn’t been aware I was holding. I loved it there, the tree that stood to my left was my safe haven when I was a kid. I’d come and hide there when I felt like being away from everyone, no one could find me because no one could climb that high.

I sat down on the grass and Eric did the same.

“So what do you think?”

“I think we’re screwed that’s what I think.” He answered and I looked at him then, to find him looking at me in that really intense way that he had about him sometimes.

“I meant about the property…”

“Oh.” He looked out onto the lake, and smiled. “Yeah it’s beautiful. I’ll suggest it to Nora this week, she might want some shots though, so I can ask your dad if I can come by and take some real quick before the end of the week, maybe even tomorrow, depending on how work goes.” He nodded, to himself.

“And about… the kiss?”

Then he sighed.

“I regret it… and then I don’t. And I never usually regret anything to do with a beautiful woman.”

“Smooth.” I said, fighting my smile. I liked that he thought I was beautiful, another warning sign, I really shouldn’t have gave a crap one way or another.

“I want to kiss you, hell, I want to do more than kiss you.” He said, so lowly that I almost didn’t hear him as he looked out over the still waters. “But I know I can’t and I know that it’s wrong to even want it, but I can’t help that. I mean, as much as I’ve mentally beat myself up about this, I still can’t help it.”

I was just silent. Because really, what do you say to that?

“Sookie, I don’t want to pressure you into something, or make you second guess yourself, or hurt Alcide, Jesus, that’s the last thing I want. But, as much as I’ve tried to pretend this isn’t real, I’m failing because it feels like there’s something between us worth exploring. And I don’t know how you feel and that’s killing me.”

“Guilty.” I looked at him then, “that’s how I feel. Dirty, and deceiving and guilty. I wanted to kiss you too, from the night I met you I wanted you. I don’t know if it’s just a… physical thing, or no, you know what, I do. I do know that it’s more than a physical thing because when you left last time, I missed you. Not just looking at you, but talking to you, hearing you talk about…” I sighed, “everything. But then you didn’t come back, and Alcide was there for me, he was true and real and right there night after night, putting up with my moods and my fears, and I put up with his, and somewhere along that line we fell in love.”

He closed his eyes as if he was in pain.

“And I can’t just ignore that, or throw all that away for something when I don’t know if it’s real.”

“It is.”

“Is it?” I questioned, “Eric your life is not my life, I have a life here with my family and my friends and my jobs.”

“That you hate and desperately want to escape.”

“That’s…not true.” I answered hard, “Everyone wants to escape once in a while. But that doesn’t mean you should just up sticks and leave!”

“Doesn’t it? You can do whatever you want, and yet you don’t! You don’t because of what other people might think of you!”

“Oh yeah? Just like you then huh?”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning!” I said, standing up and walking away from him, I was so mad – at him – at myself- at the whole fucked up situation.

“You made a move on me, but then you ran away, and why? Because of Alcide, because of what HE’D think of you. Because you don’t have to answer to anyone, where as I have to answer to EVERYONE. You’re just like me in more ways than you want to admit, and you won’t admit it because you’re scared!” I yelled, marching away from him, I didn’t look back to see if he was following me, I didn’t care then and there. I just needed to get away from him before I said or did something else that I’d regret too. Going home that night I tried my best to just push him and the whole situation out of my mind, but I really couldn’t no matter what I tried. It resulted in no sleep. I couldn’t really eat after that either, and all I wanted to do was curl up and die. I laid there, in that big old bed next to a sound asleep Alcide, and just hated myself for what I’d done. I’d kissed another guy! Not only that, but he’d kissed me back and he was my boyfriend’s best friend, who again was playing tricks with my mind.

How fucked up was that?

Pretty fucked, that’s how.

I tossed again, I turned again. I looked at the clock, it was four twenty and it was starting to get light outside, I was working at six, I thought to myself – I may as well get up. I got up, I started the coffee, and I took a quick shower, still feeling like a dirty whore no matter how much I exfoliated. I wanted to kiss him again, even through my guilt and my self loathing, I wanted him, my body wanted him – hell – my mind did too. But, I’d made a choice, and I loved my boyfriend, my boyfriend who I’d been hinting – rather heavily might I add, that I wanted to marry for the last year. He wasn’t taking the bait though and my friends where starting to pile on the pressure that my mother was already a master at manipulating.

It was always “Oh, Sookie soon you’ll be the last apple on the tree.” Or “Poor Sookie,” or my favourite, “You’ll soon be too old for babies, if he doesn’t hurry up and marry you.” I had wanted to get married since I was a little girl, I had wanted kids, too. But you know the way if someone tells you not to do something, it’s like a red flag to a bull and really, really want to do it? Well, that’s the same for me, but in reverse, I had wanted it, but the more people tell me that I should want it – all of it- and right away? Well, the more I didn’t like the idea.

And still, I pursued it. I wanted that ring, I wanted the wedding and the honeymoon and the husband. How was I going to get that by thinking about another guy? Or worse, kissing him – and liking it? I’d ragged on Eric the night before for who he was and who he was pretending he wasn’t, it was a weak argument though, since I was just as guilty of that, if not more.

I drank my coffee and stared at the clock, and right then and there I made the decision to go back to bed. Alcide had the day off, and I was the boss, why the hell shouldn’t I take the day off, too?

And so I did. I woke him up the best way I knew how, earning me a very self satisfied grin as we started to fool around and I attempted to knock Eric Northman out of my head once and for all. I even ignored how his beard irritated my neck, scruff I could handle but this was just down right annoying.

“Baby, will you shave for me?” I asked as we laid there afterward, tired and comfortable.

“Don’t you like my beard?” He asked, rubbing it. It did suit him, mostly because it distracted from his wonky nose – not that I’d ever say that. I loved his wonky nose just like I’m sure he loved my slightly sticky out ears, but that wasn’t the point.

“No, I do, it’s just… the rash it’s hard to cover up, that’s all.” And it meant I hated him going down on me, and we just didn’t go there, not that he minded, I just couldn’t handle the itching.

The sex with Alcide, was good, I mean at the start it was great – but then after a while it seemed like we were both lacking that ‘it’ that made sex amazing. I tried to keep things interesting, and to his credit he always made sure I got off at least, of course what he didn’t know was I was rather good at faking an orgasm, having dated Bill it was something I became a pro at. Jackrabbit sex, was, not, fun. I never understood guys like Bill who thought a woman would enjoy that. Alcide wasn’t jackrabbit-y, but he was off in his own world sometimes when we’d fuck, and I drifted off into mine too from time to time if I’m being honest. That morning was no different. I was thinking about the shopping list, the meetings in work, the new girl we’d hired that needed to be trained up… there was no connection to Alcide, and I needed that. He hated eye contact during sex, and I guess some people where like that, but, I wasn’t, and it was just another thing that bugged me. And yet I still wanted to marry him? It wasn’t until he and I started arguing that night that I thought that maybe we should just break up.

“Sookie, I’ve told you I’m just not ready and believe me my family are piling on the pressure for Grandkids too, but we have so much to do before we get married.”

“Yeah, we keep making all these plans, Alcide, and we never follow through. This is something I want to follow through. I want to get married. And I want to get married to you!” I said as I paced into the kitchen behind him.

“If you love me, you’d want to marry me too.” Was I five? I really couldn’t believe those words left my mouth.

He looked at me, just as shocked.

“What is this, Sookie? Is this some sort of an ultimatum?”

“What if it was?”

He laughed, “I’d think you’d lost your damn mind, that’s what I’d think it was. What’s gotten into you lately?”

“Nothing! Is it so wrong to want to move on with our lives? Is it so wrong to want to marry my boyfriend?”

“No, it’s not wrong, it’s just… I know it’s what you want, and it’s what our parents want, and especially what your mother wants, but … now? So soon? What’s the rush exactly?”

“What’s the hold up, exactly?” I countered. “Unless of course you have no intentions of marrying me, and in that case why the hell are we even doing this?”

“You’re kidding right? Sookie, I know you’ve been off this last few days, Sweetheart, but really this version of you… I don’t like her very much.”

That, enraged me. I mean, it shouldn’t have, I was acting like a total crazy person and for reasons I didn’t even know myself, but I was still mad at him.

“Well if you don’t like me, and you don’t want to marry me then why the fuck are we together, Alcide?”

“I didn’t say that! Jesus, woman! I said that this bitchy version of you, it isn’t YOU, at least not the you I love. Look I’m just not in that space yet. Can’t you get that?”

“OH I get it!” I yelled, “but you know what space I’m not in? The spinster space! Which is what will happen because you’ll never want to marry me!”

“Baby…”

“Do not ‘baby’ me.” I said sharply, “I’m asking you outright if this, if a life with me is what you want? And you’re not ‘in that space?’ well I’m sorry but I can’t deal with your space right now.”

“Meaning what exactly?”

“Meaning that if you don’t want what I want, what I NEED… then I don’t think we should be doing this.” I waved my hand around our house. If it wasn’t what he wanted, what the hell was I doing there?

“Sookie…” His face dropped, “please don’t be like this… okay I just need… some time…”

“I’m sorry. I just… can’t. If you’re not willing to give me what I want then, I’ll find someone who does.”

“You don’t mean that.”

I was blackmailing him, I was emotionally blackmailing him and I fucking knew it. I hated myself in those moments, hell, I didn’t even recognise myself as I packed a bag and left the house and Alcide that Friday morning. Despite his protests, and despite my tears, I still left. Where the hell had that come from? Two weeks before and I was happy, at least, I think I was. I felt okay at least.

Then, the next week, Eric Northman shows up and again my world is turned upside down! First he saunters into my life, flirting with me, eye-fucking me, only to pass me off to his best friend. This really nice, sweet, seemingly confused guy. Who I found myself in love with over the months I’d spent with him, and yet when I was with him, I didn’t feel that thing that I felt when Eric so much as looked at me. Chemistry, spark, whatever it was, and it was that little spark that was fucking up my life!

That spark led to that kiss, and that kiss lead to the soul consuming guilt that it was obvious both he and I felt in waves. After he walked away from me, as we packed those boxes for my Gran, He went into the house and downed almost a pitcher of sweet tea that Gran had left out, after that I made excuses for both of us to leave. The entire car ride was in silence, not one word did either of us speak or attempt to speak. I mean really, what was there to say? We both knew we did something so wrong, and we both knew it couldn’t happen again. He looked hurt though, almost as if he was a puppy and someone kicked h him in the nads. He looked at me as we pulled up outside the house, where his car was parked.

“It won’t happen again.” Was all he said, before hightailing it out of the car, and walking slowly to his own. I didn’t know what to say even if he had given me the chance to speak, and had he I don’t think any words would have come out anyways, my throat was so dry and I had tears brimming in my eyes. I had just cheated on Alcide. I’d never cheated on anyone or anything in my life! Not even a math test! I watched him walk to his car, the same heartbreaking expression on his face as I’m sure mirrored in mine, and I watched him drive off before I let out the sob that I’d been holding in since he walked away from me in that garage. I didn’t know what I was doing, or why I’d done it, or even why he’d done it first. I knew a few things, one, I was attracted to him, and not just on the outside. There were plenty of hot men in New Orleans, but it was his personality that kept me interested, not an easy feat but he had it. He had my dream life, and maybe that was another aspect of the attraction. He held what I viewed as the unattainable life. The one I wanted but was far too chicken shit to go and try and achieve. I hated him for it, through no fault of his own, it was all in my head. I knew that, I just didn’t know much else where myself was concerned, but other people? Them I could manage and fool and pretend everything was fine. Well, everyone except Pam it seemed.

The day before I’d screwed up, Tara had announced that she was four months pregnant, and of course that piled on the pressure again, not just to me, but to all us girls. Time was ticking and my mother wasn’t shy about reminding me. At first she didn’t really approve of Alcide, he looked too rough and unrefined for her tastes, but once she realized his family came from a wealthy business background she was all over him like white on rice. It had taken his family a little longer to warm to me, not that I can blame them, they knew of my mother, and her reputation as a total pain in the ass in every aspect of ladder climbing in Louisiana social society, but once they clued in that I wasn’t in fact anything like my mother they warmed to me, and quickly. It seems none of them where very fond of his last girlfriend and I was the perfect replacement. I’d heard some stories, and if I was honest it seemed that Debbie has some mental problems, but that Alcide had loved her all the same. It really tore him up when they broke up. And here I was acting like a crazy bitch in my own right, dishonouring him and our relationship with his BEST friend? Yeah I was lower than low. I felt like scum, and from the look on Eric’s face, and the conversation at my mother’s dinner he had felt the same. That, and more confliction that I’d wager either of us felt our whole lives. I ran over all this in my mind as I drove from the house that evening, having packed some things and made my way to the B&B, hoping and praying that I’d not run into anyone – especially not Eric, on my way there. I did however run into Arlene, not too shocking since she was working the desk. Arlene was a little taller than me with flame red (and wholly unnatural) hair, a high pitched voice and big blue eyes. She had two kids, and a troubled relationship, she also had a nose for gossip that rivalled Pinocchio’s.

“Sookie?

“Hi, Arlene is room three available?” I knew it was last time I checked but with last minute bookings I wasn’t so sure.

She typed, “Yep, sure is. Is this for your tall foreign friend again?”

“No, we’re having some work done to the house,” I lied, I was getting quite good at that, I thought, “and I just need to check in here for some peace and quiet. You know how it is.”

“Oh, sure. With two small kiddies, I just about wanna stay here forever and not go home, you go on up.”

I took the key and walked up to the second floor. I was a floor away from Eric and I seriously hoped I could manage to avoid him, as much as was possible anyway.

I got into the cream coloured room, it had a King size four poster – as was standard to most our rooms, there was one room that sucked and of course Eric had booked that one first, not knowing how small that bed was. But the rest, we’d redone and it was standard, as was the flat screen and the tea and coffee facilities. I had tried to keep the place as modern as I could, while still staying true to it’s historic foundations. But you’d be hard pressed to find anyone these days willing to stay for a weekend that didn’t offer cable, or free wifi, explaining this – as well as all the other changes that I thought where necessary to my parents sometimes – most of the time – fell on deaf ears. But, as I said, I did try my best. I laid on the bed for a little while, just enjoying the silence, and over thinking, like always. Then my cell rang.

“Sookie? Where the fuck are you?”

“Hi, Pam, why?”

“Well, lover boy called me, and in a panic demanded to know if you were with me.”

“Alcide called you?”

“Of course Alcide, who else would it be! Where are you and why is he so freaked out?”

“I… left.”

“Left where?”

I sighed and sat down on the bed again, once word got out, this was it, it was real.

“I left Alcide. We broke up… well, I broke up with him.”

“You DID? Why? I mean, not that I’m complaining, but…”

“I just… Pam I don’t want to talk about this on the phone -”

“It’s my day off, where are you?”

“At the B&B I -”

Before I could finish my sentence she’d hung up on me, and fifteen minutes later she was outside the door, a bag in hand containing booze and ice-cream.

I loved Pam.

What I wouldn’t love would be my actions where Eric was concerned before the night ran out.

Oh, fuck my life.


A/N: Hi, remember me? Has it really been two weeks? Eek. Sorry about the unexpected exit here folks, I just had the worst case of writer’s block I think I’ve ever experienced! I really thought I was broken and there were no more words! Anyway there it is, and hopefully there will be more soon! I encourage the reviews as always, since it’s the only way I know if this is interesting to you guys or not! So, *encourages* review away my loves, and hope you all have a good weekend! xox


Chapter 9: Chapter 9


EPOV:

I sipped my beer, ignoring her glares.

“And you just, walked away?”

“What else was I meant to do, Lu’ seriously. She’s with Alcide.”

She just rolled her eyes at me.

“And then last night you guys talked, and then what?”

“It was awkward as all hell, seriously, I just… she loves him, and I can’t compete with that. Nor should I even want to try. I’ve never been like this with anyone, I see a girl and know she’s taken, it’s off limits and I leave it alone.”

“But not this one?”

She asked, as we finished off our third set of drinks that evening. Luna was a producer who’s projects I’d worked on before, she kept bringing me back, I always thought it was because of my work – at least I hoped it was, but the flirtationship was also a factor with us. We’d never actually gone down the friends with benefits route, but something told me she’d want to. I didn’t, that shit rarely worked out for anyone, and I didn’t want to hurt her like that, and I think she understood it. At least, I hoped she did. She was a good friend, and one of the few that I had that I could actually trust with shit like this.

“No, not with her. And it should be her, of all people, the disinterest should just be there. She’s his.”

“Does she really want to be his?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, dude, if she was kissing you back – which you tell me she was – maybe she’s not all that sure about who’s she is.”

I shook my head, no, she told me herself that she loved him, and that’s all there was too it. I wasn’t going to force her hand in this. I couldn’t.

” No.”

“No? Eric, trust me, if I’m with a guy, and even CONSIDERING kissing another guy? That relationship isn’t as solid as I’m letting on. If anything it’s a sign of problems. Big ones. You don’t just go around cheating if you’re happy, you know?”

She had her point. Just as she was about to make another, I spotted Pam.

And then I spotted Sookie.

Both of them looked a little wobbly on their feet, but they where at the bar in no time.

“Shit.” I said, and Luna followed my gaze.

“Ohhh.” she smiled, “which one of those two hot bitches is she?”

I didn’t answer her, I just sort of was hoping the seat would swallow me whole.

“Eric? Which one? The one in the red or the one in the blue? Either way, both are fucking hot.”I glared at her then, “What?” She said, “they are!”

“The one in the red.” I whispered, silently praying they wouldn’t see us.

Oh.” she said, “nice rack.”

I just rolled my eyes. Then she stood up.

“What…where what are you doing!”

She just winked at me and I wanted to run as I saw her approach them at the bar. Why was Sookie hugging her? Why was Pam wobbling on her heels? Why was I still sitting there like an idiot? RUN MAN, RUN!

Instead I looked over again and saw Pam sauntering towards me.

“I’m a little drunk, Eric.” She said planking herself on my knee. She was tall girl so it was no easy feat.

“Okay?”

“Hi.” She said, and I responded in kind, then she slid into the seat next to me.

“Sookie and I are a little drunk, there was ice-cream, and then there was booze, and now we’re here because we ran out of the booze, and the ice-cream. Sucks, doesn’t it?”

“I guess it does.”

“I have to tell you something.” she whispered, and I noted Sookie and Luna where still talking at the bar.

“What’s that Pam?”

“Sookie left Alcide. But shush, don’t tell her I told you, okay?” She whispered, and I froze in shock, mostly because what the fuck? Why hadn’t he called me? Why did she leave him? Was it because of me? Had she told him about the kiss? Is that why he hadn’t called me? Oh fuck! I thought, too many thoughts spinning in my head in that moment as I tried to make sense of it all without killing my poker face.

“Oh…kay?” Was all I managed to say, earning a smile from her.

“Good boy.” She said as she petted me on the arm, no, really, she petted me. Then it was Sookie’s turn to show up. Arms linked with Luna as they came to the booth.

“Hi Eric, I met your friend Sookie, you don’t mind if she joins us, riiiight?” Luna said, with far too much mischief in her voice for my liking.

“Sure, of course.” I said watching Sookie, as she suddenly became really interested in her shoes as she sat down.

“I’m going to get a drink!” I said, standing up just as she sat down.

“Can I get you guys -”

“I’ll have a dirty martini, two olives.” Pam spoke up, “And Sookie will have a daiquiri, strawberry. Luna?”

Luna just laughed, looking at Pam and then to me.”Well, girl, come on, a hot man asks you if you’d like a drink, you say yes.” Pam continued and winked at me in the process. Yes, I really needed another drink.

“Just a white wine, thanks.”

Luna finally decided and I was just about to walk away when I heard her say – “Yeah, thanks, Eric.” Sookie spoke up, I was beginning to think she wouldn’t talk to me.

I was at the bar, just getting served when I felt someone’s hand on my back. Then saw Sookie.

“Pam sent me to help you, she said I was being rude.”

She rolled her eyes, and took two of the drinks while I took the other two.

“Sookie, can we talk alone for a second?”

I asked before we took off for the table again, she simply nodded, looking back down at her feet.

“Please look at me.”

She did, slowly. And then I saw it, the pain in her eyes, that sad look that I never longed to see from her.

“I am sorry, okay? I know I said I wasn’t, but, I am. I never meant for any of this to happen. I just want you to know that I’d never push you for anything you didn’t, or couldn’t give me, and if what happened before was all that ever happens between us, then, so be it.”

“Really?” she looked hopeful then, but then it went back to that haunting sadness I saw in her, “you’d be okay with that?”

“Not okay, but I’d accept it. If he’s… if that’s what you want. It’s what you want.” I nodded.

“Okay, thank you.” She said with a soft sigh, looking relieved.

“This has just been a really confusing mess and I don’t really know how to deal with it, I want to do the right thing, but sometimes, when I’m around you… the right thing doesn’t seem so right.”

It was odd, but I understood exactly what she meant. Sometimes the ‘right thing’ was the hardest fucking thing to do, like say, walk away from her and this aching feeling once and for all.

I wanted to, I knew I should, for everyone involved including myself, but something held me back, and if I only knew what that little thing was, I would have grabbed it, and beat it until it died and I was able to find some peace again. But, as it stood, I just stayed and accepted the distance.

“Good, well, now that that’s cleared up, why are you drunk at nine thirty?”

I asked. And she looked embarrassed for a second before laughing.

“I had a … bad day, Pam decided to cheer me up, with vodka cocktails.”

“She tries to cheer a lot of people up with alcohol, it rarely works though.” I said as I recalled what little I remembered of my last night out with Pam.

“Why did you have a bad day?” I asked, but she just shook her head.

“Talk later, drinks now, she’s side-eyeing me, she wants her drink!” she said, with a soft smile as she took to the floor before me. I did not watch her ass as I walked behind her, I did NOT.

Six shots and four more drinks later, Pam and Luna where full on flirting and Sookie was laughing with a bunch of other people that had joined us in our search for the bottom of the glass.

Dancing, smiling, having fun, we all did it, except Sookie and I never attempted to dance with each other, or laugh with each other, because really all there was between us now, was tension.

Pam sensed it, of course she did, and she’d jar me when Sookie would go to the Ladies Room, I shrugged it off though. If she wanted to tell me her situation, she’d do it herself, I wasn’t going to push her.

So I sat, and I drank my drinks and attempted to have a good time, and, for the most part we all achieved that, but then I knew my limit and the fact that I just couldn’t handle my hangovers anymore.

“Eric you’re staying at the B&B right?” Pam asked, sliding into the seat beside me, with Sookie after her, looking a little less steady on her feet.

“Um, well, yeah.” I admitted.

“Good! Great actually, it’s way out of my way, but since you’re going there, and Sookie is going there… you two can share a cab.”

Wait, what? Sookie was staying in the B&B too?

“No, Pam it’s no problem, I am fine!” Sookie had been for the most part, ignoring me all night, it wasn’t really a surprise that she didn’t want to cab share with me.

I just shrugged, “Fine, it’s like four blocks, there’s no real need for a cab anyway, I was just going to walk it.”

Pam smiled.

“Even better,” as she shoved Sookie at me, luckily I caught her and Sookie glared at her in response.

“Jesus, Pam, what is your damage? I can walk home… to the B&B, by my damn self thank you VERY much.”

She said as she straightened herself out and in huff made for the door.

“How are you getting home?” I asked her, and she just smiled again.

“I have um, other plans.” Just then she looked at Luna and the wheels started to turn in my head.

Oh, my, God, Pam was gay!

My eyes just went wide and she noticed, she just patted me on the shoulder.

“You worry about your own love life, Viking, hum?” She said turning me towards the door.

“But, I … it’s not like that…she’s…”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re noble and pure and would NEVER take advantage of the hot drunk girl, not at all.”

“I wouldn’t.” I protested.

She simply sighed, “I fucking know, and it’s a damn shame. Good night, Eric.”

Then suddenly I was outside, and Sookie was nowhere to be seen. Her shoes however where on the sidewalk. I ran up to them, and looked out onto the street. There she was wobbling barefoot down the dimly lit street.

“Sook! Wait up!” I said, grabbing her shoes and jogging to where she was.

“I am fine! Thank you, I can see myself home. Goodnight, Eric.” She said, trying not to wobble, as she walked carefully along. I just laughed, she looked ridiculous trying to pretend she was sober.

“Oh, of course, Scarlett, shame on me.”

She glared, “what did you just call me?”

I looked innocent, “Me? Nothing…”

“Hmph.”

Was all she said, and we walked a block in silence.

I noticed many things, the glow of various streetlights, dogs barking, her huffing away to herself as she tried to stay silent even though it was more than obvious that she had a ton of things on her mind.

So, I decided to say it for her.

“So, you’re never going to tell me you left Alcide, are you?”

“Who – Pam!” She said, rolling her eyes, “of course, she can’t keep her mouth shut when it comes to other people’s business, but she’s sealed tighter than a drum when it comes to her own.”

“She did tell me, clearly you weren’t gonna.” I mused.

“Yeah, well, I just didn’t see how it was your business.”

I stopped, and so did she.

“Seriously? Seriously, Sookie?”

Yeah, that pissed me off.

“What? How is it -”

“Because of what happened, because of how… you know what, fuck you, Sookie. Fuck you.”

Yep, still pissed, and getting more pissed by the second. How in the HELL could she think that it had nothing to do with me…?

Then I marched on ahead of her, not even wanting to look at her.

I got around the corner and I heard her call out to me, but I ignored her, instead walked on even faster until I head the pad of her feet running behind me.

“HEY!” She said, grabbing my jacket and making me stop. “Please, stop, I don’t feel so good, and running just… made that worse.”

She panted, still holding on to my jacket.

“Well, what do you want?”

“I’m sorry, okay, I didn’t tell you, because, well, first of all I was kinda busy avoiding you. And then, we ran into you in the bar, and that was unexpected, and well, I just I wanted to, I did, but then -”

“Sookie, you’re rambling…”

“Right, sorry. God, Eric what was I meant to say, ‘Oh hey boyfriends – best- friend – who – I- like- to- make- out- with, guess what I did today?’ No, it wasn’t going to go down like that.””So, how was it going to go down?”

She shrugged, “I just didn’t know how to tell you.”

“You could just use your words, you’re really rather good at it, usually.” I said, lowering my voice, sure there was no one on the street, but still.

“Some things are harder to say than others, Eric.”

“And what do you want to say?”

Rain, actual pouring rain, just came out of nowhere. Sookie just started to laugh.

“It said it would rain today, not tonight. Stupid weather man!”

She said as she grabbed my hand, and her shoes and we ran the rest of the way to the B&B. By the time we go there though we were thoroughly soaking, and Sookie was a giggling mess.

“Usually, I remember my umbrella. But I guess I forgot when Pam forced me to drink those cocktails.”

“Forced?” I said, not believing her for a second.

“Yes, forced, I am a lady Eric, I know my limits.”

She said, with a shy smile, before she shoved her shoes back on.”How the hell did you run three blocks in your bare feet?”

She laughed again, “It’s so gross, isn’t it? But I’d fall over in my heels, and I can just wash my feet.”

“Didn’t they get all cut up?”

She looked down, then back up, adorably, “Nope, I’m good. I’m a pro!” She nodded and giggled again, clearly not quite sobered yet.

“Can I tell you a secret, Eric?”

“Sure…”

“I really want to have sex with you.” She giggled and I froze on the spot.

“No, really, like, I really want to do that with you, and I want to do it all over the place.” She waved her arm as if to indicate the town.

“How is that…a secret?”

“WELL.” she said, thinking about it for a second, “I’ve never told anyone that before, so it’s a secret. Duh.”

“Okay…”

“Yeah, so it’s a secret so you can’t tell anyone.”

“I won’t.” I smiled, who else was I going to tell, really?

“Good.” She nodded marching on ahead of me wobbling still, till we reached the doors of the B&B.

She shook herself off, and marched on inside, I simply followed, wondering what the hell was going to happen next. Processing the information that she really did, in fact, want me that way, sort of made my night all on it’s own. I mean I knew she was confused, but not so confused or annoyed by me that I repulsed her. Thankfully. I didn’t have to wait so long to find out what was going to happen next however, since instead of quietly slipping inside, she decided to pick a conversation with the screechy red-head on reception.

“ERIC. This is Arlene, she’s a nosy so and so with three… no… two kids, and she has her crooked nose in everyone’s business, including mine, and I bet she’ll have half the town told that Sookie Stackhouse came in drunk as a skunk tonight! And with a strange man too! Oooo.” She said waving her fingers at her receptionist. “He’s not ‘strange‘ by the way he’s my FRIEND. So spread those rumour girl, but just do it right! Okay? You know unlike your typin’! I can’t find my key, Eric…” She said as she speed-talked her way into her purse.

“What room is she in?” I asked a rather shocked looking Arlene, she just gave me the key and told me the floor. So she was just a floor underneath me.

“Hahha, I’m underneath you, Eric.” She smiled, then looked sharply at Arlene again, “that was a joke, Red, again, just for those rumours…” She rolled her eyes and took the small lift, I was thankful to get her away from the red-head who was no doubt going to call everyone she knew before we reached her floor.

“I miss keys, the kind that fit doors. Not cards.” She said as she slotted the card again and again trying to get it to open, when it finally did she smiled.

“Human, one, machine, nil!”

She walked in, threw her shoes somewhere that they landed with a thump, then landed on the bed with a happy sigh.

“I love this bed, this bed, loves me. I … don’t feel so good.”

I still stood by the door, not really sure what I was meant to do here. I mean, I had every intention of leaving her, going to my room and sleeping off what I was sure was going to be a hell of a hang over. And yet, it was as if my feet where glued to the ground.

“You waiting for a hand written invite?” She asked, “come in.”

So, I did, and I closed the door gently and took a seat on one of the chairs.

I heard her sigh.

“You’re going to make it difficult on a girl, ain’t you?”

I still didn’t speak, so instead she got up and walked towards me. Looking me dead in the eye the entire time, it was as if I was being held in the chair by her gaze alone.

Then she smiled, just a small smile, but it was enough to set whatever nerves I felt a little on ease.

Then there she was, straddling my lap, tracing her fingers on my neck, still holding on to that intensity in her eyes as they stayed locked with mine.

Still, I didn’t speak, I didn’t move, this wasn’t really about me, not anymore.

I felt her lips on my neck, I just closed my eyes and simply enjoyed it, as she moved to my ear, across my jaw and to my lips I fought the urge to grip her and pull her closer like I desperately wanted.

“Touch me.” she said, and Goddamn it almost broke my heart, and my dick, not to.

After a second, she noticed my apprehension and stopped to look at me.

“Something wrong?”

Everything.

“We’re not doing this, not like this.”

“Why not? I know it’s what you want, and I really know it’s what I want… so why can’t we?”

She asked, her lip sneaking between her teeth, and looking oh, so edible.

“You make it sound so simple.”

“Isn’t it?”

“No, and if you were sober you wouldn’t be doing this, at all. In fact I’m pretty sure, sober Sookie would be running the hell away from me right now.”

I sighed as I moved away from her, for a change.

“So… you don’t want this?” She looked hurt then, and in all this mess, I didn’t want that.

“I do, I just -“She cut me off with a kiss, and for a few seconds I gave in and kissed her back, but then, my conscience kicked in.

No.” I stood up, her straddling me still and I walked to the bed and let her drop. She laid there, with a pout and a shocked look.

“I’m sorry. I just… We just can’t do this, you’re drunk and I -”

“I’m not so drunk, it’s not like date rape, I’m telling you that I want you, and I won’t say no.”

“You know what I mean.”

“No, I really don’t. It’s simple you either want me, or you don’t. Which is it?”

“I wish it was that fucking simple, Sookie, you know as well as I do that it’s not. Nowhere near!”

“Fine. Get out.”

Now it was my turn to be shocked.

“What?”

“Get. Out. You deaf?”

“My, my Miss Scarlett, you talk to your mother with that rude mouth?”

“Fuck you.”

“I know, you want to, but sorry, no can do, Princess.”

“You’re an obnoxious asshole, and I fucking hate you.”

I laughed, she was far too easy to bait, even more so sloshed.

“Is that right?”

“YES. Now get out!” She said, hopping off the bed and to the door, which she opened and looked at me expectantly.

I did, I picked up my jacket, and I walked to the door, pausing only to kiss her on the cheek, she just rolled her eyes at me.

“Take some water before you go to sleep, or your headache will be worse in the morning.” I said, and she slammed the door behind me.

Just then I let go of the breath I’d been holding. Battling between my curdled upstairs brain, and my very active, rather anxious downstairs brain, was, well, for the lack of a better pun, fucking HARD.

I wanted her, but not just for one night, I wanted her all the nights. At least, I thought I did. But then, what if that was my shot, my shot at fucking her and that sexual frustration out of my system? And I didn’t take it? Was I the biggest idiot ever? This leggy, mouthy, amazing blonde is throwing herself at me, quite literally, and I do nothing? Ordinarily this is a problem I’d call Alcide about, but hey, guess what, couldn’t do that either. I guess I understood Sookie then, when she didn’t want to tell me, I mean how do you really word something like that? Could I call him up, tell him that I’m crushing on his girlfriend, albeit, ex, and have him not shove my face throw a wall?

No, I couldn’t, but I knew that already. So, resigned to my fate of being emotionally fucked up, I pulled out my key, went up to my room and tried to sleep until my brain stopped talking to me.

Hours later I finally managed just that, because soon the morning would come – and with it more questions than answers.


A/N: What a week! Sorry for the delay guys, real life and stuff. BUT this is part one, I’m working on part two right now, I know I said on twitter that it was long, and altogether it is, but I need to split it to keep myself right, so I hope you understand! And, I’ll be posting it as SOON as it’s done, I promise! So, thank you all, again and again (and again just for good measure) for supporting me, and this story idea so much so far! All the reviews are read and adored, as are the messages, and the alerts, so thank you! Keep up the good work and hopefully I can too! xox


Chapter 10: Chapter 10


SPOV

There was sand in my eyes, or at least it felt like it, and in my throat, did I swallow a beach last night? I thought, as I opened one eye to the brightness, then another, regretting that action instantly. Sunlight, why so bright? I groaned as I turned over, realizing I was still in my makeup, and my dress. My back hurt like hell, and my head felt like it was about to implode.

What was in those cocktails last night? I never trusted Pam to measure truthfully, but Jesus, this was uncalled for.

I glanced at the clock and it was almost noon, I groaned again as I dragged myself from my bed and to the shower. I knew that I couldn’t do much without a good hot shower to bring me back from the dead at least, then I’d deal with my day, hopefully with a clear head.

Mid-shower though, as I was rehashing the night’s festivities in my head, I got to the part where I came on to Eric like a bitch in heat, and then when he refused to fuck the sloppy drunk girl, I threw him out.

Oh, sweet Jesus.

I felt mortified, I felt shamed, I felt rage at myself for acting like such an idiot. But again, mostly shame.

I needed to fix things with him, I hated the idea of him being mad at me, I mean not that he really would hate me for acting like an idiot, but still, better to be safe than sorry.

Should I call his phone? No, my Gran always says an apology is best had in person, not impersonally on the phone. And I really needed to apologize. I rang the curling tongs through my hair real quick, added an Alice band to keep the shorter bits in place, stepped into one of my most comfortable denim sundresses, some flats and with a slick of lip-gloss I grabbed my phone and booked it.

I checked my phone, two missed calls from Pam, one voicemail from my mother demanding to know what was going on, and one from my dad telling me to ignore my hysterical mother. I just shut it off, and took the stairs to Eric’s room. I knocked, gently, not wanting to be rude – again.

And I waited.

And then I waited some more, before I down right banged on the door, only to be greeted with a grunt and a topless man, with his hair all askew. Why was he so damn adorable?

“Oh. Mornin’.” He said, his voice rough, and far to sexy.

Focus Sookie.

No, not on his pecs.

Eyes.

“Hi. I’m I just… I wanted to just say how sorry I was about last night I -”

“Don’t worry about it,” he said, cutting me off.

“No, I am worried, well not, ‘worried‘, but you know just worried. I needed to say it. So, if you accept that I was an idiot, and whatever I said, or whatever else I did -”

“You don’t remember?”

“Bits and pieces.” I looked down the hallway, and saw Rita the chambermaid doing up the other rooms, “can we talk inside?”

I nodded down the hall, and he caught my drift and opened the door a little wider letting me step inside. There was a squeak in the door, I made a mental note to get that fixed.

“Is this room okay for you? I mean, if there’s anything that you need you just have to ask.”

“You made that kind of clear last night,” he said, and cringed.

“I meant for the room.” I clarified.

“Oh,” he looked at me then, and I swore I saw a blush, “sorry.”

” I did come on strong didn’t I?” I said, trying to stop myself from running screaming away from him in shame. “I’m usually a lot more…reserved, when I drink. I just wanted to -”

“I know, say sorry. You’ve said that.”

“Why are you being so snippy?”

“Well, I just got woke up by a girl banging on my door to ramble and apologize for shit that’s not even worth apologizing for, I haven’t showered, I feel gross, and I’m starving.”

Ah. So just like any other normal hung-over human being then?

“Let me buy you break… lunch, brunch, whatever, let me buy you food.” I smiled, “as a bribe for forgiving and forgetting my rather… um, intoxicated self last night.”

“Why would I want to forget her, she was fun. And really liked my neck.” He jerked a brow, in the cockiest, sexiest way possible.

I hated him.

“Okay, shut up, go shower and meet me in a half hour in the lobby. I’ll go do…paper work or something.”

“Nah, I’ll meet you in ten minutes. I’ll be quick.” he said disappearing into the bathroom, leaving me stuck, did I leave? Did I stay?

I figured I’d say, I was too tired to deal with things today, and I knew if any of the staff spotted me now, it would be question after question. Ugh, no, I thought, and took a seat. I looked around his room then, there were bits and pieces of his personality scattered throughout the room. Yes, it was a hotel room, but his things made it his own. His laptop, his iPod, some books with pages dog-eared with love, his cell phone and a photo album.

That was odd, I mean when I travel I don’t bring my pictures, but then, I thought, I don’t travel half as much as Eric does, so maybe for him the tangible photos where a necessity? I knew it would be invasive to look, I mean, they where private. And yet, my curiosity about him won over. And I flipped the book open. There was photos of a little boy, flanked by two parents, clearly baby Eric in all his adorable diapered glory, wisps of blonde hair and big blue eyes and toothless smile, his mother was stunning, her long dirty blonde hair and the eyes she gave to her son looked back at me. His father was a more solemn looking man, still extremely attractive, but I knew there was something… less friendly about him. I continued to look and found some photos of Eric as a boy, growing up, with friends, then a rather awkward phase where he embraced a rather homeless starving look, always surrounded by smiling people, and always a happy look on his face though. Then there was the girl, just one, in a few of the photos. She was pretty, shorter than him (not that that was hard, I guessed) big green eyes and a mane of soft looking chestnut hair, she looked happy, he did too, he seemed lighter than the Eric I knew. I got lost in my thoughts because the next thing I knew, Eric tapped me on the shoulder. He saw what I was looking at, but he made no comment on it, and honestly I was glad. I was a bitch last night, and now I was a snoop? Not good, Sook, not good at all.

Breakfast at Brennan’s was always a treat, Eric and I people watched for the most part, and inhaled our food for the other. Small talk was made, and any and all real issues between was ignored in favor of ignorance is bliss dumb conversation.

“Who was the girl?” I asked, and he knew who I meant. He wiped his mouth and took a sip of his coffee.

” An old girlfriend.”

I just raised a brow, thank you Captain Obvious.

“Um, Aude.”

Odd?”

“No, Aude. It was her name, Audette.”

“Her name, was odd?”

He smiled, as did I, I didn’t want this to be a heavy thing, even if their tale ended unhappily anyone with a name that sounded like that had to have been used to the name punning.

“And?”

“And what?” He asked.

“Tell me about her.”

He just sighed, “we were young and in love, and it didn’t work out.”

“You old romantic, you.” I rolled my eyes.

He just smiled, “okay, I loved her, I trusted her, I thought… she was it, you know?”

“And then?”

“I got scared, like I was settling for something, that I should have been out there, carefree doing…whatever I wanted. I mean, I was working as I do now, so really I don’t know where that fear came from, but it was there, and it fucked with me. It fucked with me till I all but ran her off.”

I just listened.

“But she didn’t run, she wouldn’t, she loved me too.” He smiled, “but things weren’t meant to be though… It was a long time ago, Sookie, and I’ve had a long time to deal with it, you know? And I have, and I miss her of course, but I have one life to live and I’m living it, I just wish she had got to do the same.”

My heart dropped. She died?

He saw my look and elaborated, “Yeah, she died, she was flying to Spain to see her father, and her plane went down… It sucked because I knew how annoyed she’d have been, she hated her dad.” He smiled again, the smile of a person reliving a personal private memory, one I had no business intruding on.

“I’m so sorry, Eric.” I said, touching his hands in the middle of the table.

He simply shook his head, “don’t be, like I said, it was a long time ago.”

“Still, to lose someone like that… and that way, it can’t have been easy.”

“It wasn’t. But I dealt with it, in my own way, in my own time, I pray to her sometimes… I hope she’s at peace, she was a good person who just wanted to live her best life. And she couldn’t. Because it was taken away from her. She taught me that lesson.”

“What lesson?”

“You’ve got a life, but for how long? So, I live my life how I want to live it. I can’t… I don’t have time to live it for other people and their expectations of my life. It’s mine, and it’s the only one I got.”

That put me in my place, in more than one way. I knew what he meant, and I was proud of him for not letting something so tragic consume him like I’m sure it had done so many others.

“Everything changes, Sookie. Everyday, every hour. It’s unavoidable; it’s necessary even. Clinging to what used-to-be is just the farthest thing from being healthy. Moving on, adapting, that is the key to surviving things we have no control over. So, what do you want from your one life?”

I envied his wisdom in that moment, I also knew why he was driving this point home. I didn’t know what I wanted. Not really, I thought I did, but I didn’t, did he really? Did anyone? I couldn’t answer him because I knew if I did, I’d be lying in some way.

So, we sat, we ignored the elephant in the room and we finished our meal. Taking a cab back to the B&B the mood had changed between the two of us, I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there wasn’t just the regular tension between the two of us anymore, it was something else. It almost felt like trust, a closeness, almost like I’d been holding my breath and suddenly could breathe again. We didn’t say anything as we got back to my room, instead I opened the door and he waited for me to invite him in, if I was going to. The truth was, I wasn’t sure what I was doing, all I knew was that I wasn’t ready to be away from him just yet. Instead of inviting him in, I took his hand and sort of led him in. he looked at me, questioning what I was doing as much as I was questioning it myself, but for once I decided to act on instinct, and this – being with him was what I wanted. More than that, it’s what I needed.

So, this time, as I brought his hand to my lips, and kissed it, then his wrist, then as I ran my fingers up his arm to his bicep, he still never took his eyes off me. Frankly I wasn’t use to it, and it was a little unnerving, but also, so incredibly sexy. I let my hands wander, to his neck, to his hair, until I was looking him in the eyes again.

“You’re sure?” He asked, and all I did was nod, it was all I had time to do, because instantly his lips were on mine, hard, fast and filled with all the unsaid and said things of the last few days. His hands where in my hair, running along my scalp, making my body shiver and the hairs on my arm stand on edge, then with one swift move his arm was wrapped around me, lifting me to his full height, flush against his body pulling me out of my shoes in the process. I wrapped my legs around his waist with ease as he kissed me again and again, longer and deeper after each breath, it was overwhelming in all the best ways. I felt my head hit the bed, the rest of me followed with him still against my body, only this time his hands travelled down my neck, to my breasts, then to my thighs pushing my dress further and further up until it was around my waist all the while his lips never left mine for anything other than breath. His small moans, and pants only serviced to turn me on even more, an abuse of power maybe, but it made me feel really good that I was making him feel really good, too.

I let my hands explore, his shoulders, his back, until I came back around again and found the buttons of his shirt, slowly making them pop, one by one as he looked from me, to my hands.

He replaced my hands with his, making short work of his shirt, then my hands moved to his belt and he stopped moving.

“Are you sure?” I asked him, because really, who ever really asks the guy if he’s sure? They have doubts just as much as we do.

He nodded, but I needed more.

“Tell me.” I said, and… he did. With a kiss so passionate and meaningful that it honest to God made my toes curl.

Okay then, I thought, as we both made quick work of his jeans, boots, socks and my dress. Leaving only a few scraps of material between our bodies. I hadn’t been a girl who’d had a lot of sex, with a lot of men in her time, but I’d had some sex, with some men, and mostly when it came down to it, it was all about them. I wasn’t complaining, at least not at the time, because I knew nothing else. But, when it came to sex, with Eric? That was a whole other ball game, in a different stadium, with a hell of a lot of different rules.

For starters, Eric it seemed was a big fan of foreplay. That word that seemed so foreign to me, since the most foreplay I’d gotten with Bill was a peck on the neck, and with Alcide, he considered roughly palming my breasts before telling me how hot I was, to be foreplay. I assumed it would be the same with Eric, that he’d want to rush things, that my underwear was merely in the way… but no, he skirted around my bra, and my panties, plating kisses on just about every naked surface he could reach. It was heavenly. I decided that I’d leave my confusion until later and just enjoy myself, and I had a feeling Eric was determined that I do just that.

“I need more…” I whispered, but was met with a grin.

“You’re impatient, Scarlett.”

“I’m not impatient, nor am I Scar – OH!” I couldn’t finish because he’d conveniently chosen that moment to put his mouth over my panties and breathe out, his hot breath causing sensations through the fabric that I liked, I liked very much.

“You were saying?” He cocked an eyebrow at me, but instead of arguing back, I just grabbed his neck and pull him in for a kiss, getting him on top of me enough so I could roll us over. He complied, I mean, had he not, I’d never have been able to move us, but he seemed more than fine to go with the flow and for that I was glad.

I straddled his hips, grinding a little for good measure. He groaned, one of the sexiest sounds of all time, I thought. When I stopped grinding, he started, before he rand his hands up and down my thighs, ghosting along my panty line, then up to my bra, gently caressing my breasts through the lace of my white bra. I was desperate for more contact, more of him, but he was in no hurry it seemed. He explored and touched, he smiled when he found a spot to kiss or lick that would make me writhe or moan a little, in truth I was almost dizzy by the time I felt his fingers slip into my panties and between my legs. He flipped us over, gaining back the advantage, before he looked me in the eyes again as he slid his fingers inside me, flexing and moving in such a rhythm that it made my hips jerk off the bed.

“Easy…” He said, using his other hand to hold me still, what can I say? I was horny and sensitive, and he had the magic touch. A magic he used again and again as he wound me up like a spinning top before he hit the button – so to speak- then set me off. Just as I could feel my orgasm building he reached for my chin with hand, as the other continued it’s work.

“Look at me, Sookie,” he said, his voice dripping in sex, deep and demanding I could do nothing but obey, as much as it was fighting the natural reflex to just close my eyes and lose myself, I couldn’t as he held my gaze – I simply lost myself in him.

“Beautiful…” He murmured, to himself, or to me, I wasn’t sure, but his smile never faltered as he looked me over again, this time lowering the straps of my bra slowly to expose my breasts.

“Even more beautiful than…”

“Than what?”

“I imagined.” He said, without missing a beat, I kissed his harder then, I liked that he’d imagined me naked, because I sure as hell had imagined him in all his birthday suit glory and I was about done imagining.

“Take off your boxers.” I demanded, once I caught my breath. He stalled for a second, so I let my hands wander, and I grabbed his dick to make my point. He inhaled sharply, his eyes closing automatically, I figured he was due a taste of his own delicious medicine.

“Lay down.” I whispered, and he did just that, his tan body a stark contrast to my virgin white bedding.

I straddled him, again, only this time I let my lips do the talking, starting with his lips, his neck, those gloriously defined Pecs, to his soft blond happy trail, until I reached the waistband of his boxers. I slid them off him, painfully slow, moving myself then to the side so he could shuck them off his feet. I’d never been with an uncircumcised man before, so all of it, and I mean, all, was a little surprising, but a nice surprise, I thought, as I took him in hand, and began eliciting moans from him as I worked him up as he’d done for me. I liked this foreplay thing, I liked it a lot. What I liked more though was his facial expressions, from confused to aroused, I enjoyed that I was the one making those happen. His moan of ‘holy fucking fuck’ was also on that list when I took him in my mouth and started to suck. Moving my mouth and my hands in unison making him mutter to himself all manner of things, as his hands ran threw my hair, god that felt good. Alcide wasn’t much for touching, when I did this, he was all about eyes closed thinking of …whatever it was he was thinking about, with Eric though, I looked up once, and there he was, Mr Eye-contact himself, his eyes locked on me, rolling back in pleasure every now and then. Crap that was hot. He stopped me, Alcide never stopped, he always wanted to finish but Eric, had other plans. Drawing my body under his again, he slipped off my underwear, before his lips met my inner thighs, then the place where I just needed him, and his attentions most. He spread my legs out in front of him, as if I were a buffet for his enjoyment, and by the sounds of things, he was really enjoying it. Not that I wasn’t, because I was. It had been a long time since I’d been pleasured this way – and as wrong as it was to compare him to Alcide, how could I not? It was only natural. Alcide liked to rush it, and rough it, and make sure I got off fast, but with Eric, he was loving it, and his enjoyment only serviced to make mine a million times better. I moaned his name, God’s name, and Jesus, as I came once grabbing the sheets for leverage, but then he wouldn’t stop – even when I wanted to squirm away, he held me in place, sucking and licking me until I came again, and again. By the time he came back up so we were face to face, he had a smile on his face wide and proud, where as I was just wondering if I’d ever feel my legs again.

Jesus Christ, what kind of sex was having before?

This was amazing, I was spent, and he hadn’t even fucked me yet, I thought.

He let me control the sex to begin with, which again, was just another new thing on the list of new things. On top he told me it allowed me to go as I wanted, he didn’t want to hurt me. I about melted when he said that, because really at this point, I’d got mine, but he hadn’t got his, not once, and yet he didn’t rush or get rough. So it made me want to give him a mind blowing orgasm, and so I worked all my moves on him, riding him harder and faster than I might have done had I not just gone three rounds with all my endorphins, no, for him I wanted it to be worth it. Worth the guilt, the worry, and the pain, I knew we were both ignoring it, but it was still there, we’d just… worry about that tomorrow, I thought, channelling my inner Scarlett o’ Hara, as he seemed to think I did so much. He was close, incredibly close, but I didn’t let up, if anything I grinded harder, rode him harder, and when he did finally let go my pride for making that happen, making him moan so loudly the people in the next suite definitely heard us (I mean of course they did, the headboard was basically knocking their wall forever) but his vocal appreciation for my skills was a huge turn on, and it sent me over the edge again before we both just fell into bed, spent and sweaty, probably gross and stinking of sex, but never happier than we were as he took me in his arms and sighed.

“Fuck that awesome. I mean I don’t know about you, Sookie, but, fuck, that was awesome.” He whispered, making me smile, my head on his chest listening to his heartbeat level out, as my own did the same.

“You’ve got moves, Northman.”

“You too, Scarlett.” He winked at me,”so much better than my imagination…”

I smiled again, “I really must hear about all this time I’ve spent in your imagination, Eric, I think I’d find it interesting.”

He groaned, “Oh, you definitely would.”

“You’ll have to tell me, sometime.”

“I will.” He said, with a tired sigh.

“Sookie?”

“Hm?”

“What do you want?”

“From you?”

“From life?”

Ah, that was the unanswered question.

“To be happy I guess, doesn’t everyone want that?”

“True… and are you? Happy?” He asked gently, neither of us looking at each other now, instead my head was resting comfortable in his cuddling embrace, as his fingers traced my arms.

“Right now I’m pretty happy.” I smiled, even though he couldn’t see it, he could hear it.

“And after this is over? And we have to go outside and face the real world?”

That, I didn’t have an answer to.

“Can we just enjoy this? Can we just worry about what’s to come later, when it comes? I like this world, right here and right now, I’m not ready to leave it yet.”

With that I did look at him, and he looked pensive, worried even, but in an instant it was gone.

“Sure, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” he said, unknowingly using my Granddad’s favourite phrase.

“Yeah, sure, or jump off it.” I added before he kissed my temple taking me in his arms again, to have the best afternoon nap I think I’d ever had.

Tomorrow, is another day, I thought of his nickname for me and embraced her saying. For now, we had today, and I intended not to spoil the day. For little did I know my choices meant, it was the only one we’d have, for a long time.


A/N: And so, they’ve moved past emotional cheating, to physical. But, is it really cheating now? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Hope you enjoyed their sexytimes, 😉 I know the last line is a little depressing, but I promise goodies, I really do! Thanks to Seastarr and MissBennet for helping me plot this out the other night! I thought it was a lost cause, but no! I have a plan! So, to quote TvEric, “Trust me.” 😀 Reviews as always are adored and if you have your PM open I’ll get back to you! xox


Chapter 11: Chapter 11


EPOV:

It was just after four thirty when Sookie and I both gave into our hunger. This time not for each other, as there had been plenty of that, but our actual hunger. I suggested going out for dinner, she shot that idea down in favour of ordering something massive and completely bad for us both into the hotel room.

“I have to shower,” she said, rolling over next to me. “I feel so …”

“Thoroughly fucked?” I finished for her, making her smile.

“Something like that. We can’t smell good right now. The pizza takes at least thirty minutes, I could shower.”

“Or we could shower.” I offered and she looked at me, confused.

“But…”

“You don’t want to? That’s not a problem…” I said, petting down her hair that was sticking up in places. She looked beyond adorable in her state of awry, and I realized I’d shared things with her that day, things I’d not talked about before, with anyone. She owned that little piece of me now, whether I liked it or not.

“No, it’s not that I don’t want to I just… I usually just… shower alone.”

Alcide never wanted to do that with her? Any other guys she’d been with had never attempted it?

Idiots, I thought.

“It’s fun…” I wriggled my brows, making her smile.

“We could, I mean if we’d both fit.” She mused, “I’ll go start the water.” She kissed me quickly on the lips before reaching for my shirt.

“Sookie, what are you doing?”

“Getting dressed?”

Why?”

“Well I don’t… want you to see me walking around naked.” She said, bashfully and it just made me laugh, loud.

“What! Why are you laughing at me?”

“Sook, we’ve just spent… how many hours together? Very naked might I add, I’ve seen every inch of you, sweetheart. So you’ve got nothing to hide from me.”

She was still blushing, it was beyond hilarious to me. How could a woman who had let me do things to that delicious body of hers for hours on end, as well as reciprocated to my body, feel so self conscious suddenly.

“Oh. Well. I never thought of it like that.” She said, and I just grabbed the shirt from her grasp.

“Off you go…” I said, shooing my hand in the direction of the bathroom, waiting to see what her reaction would be. I could see her thinking it over in her head before she dropped the sheets, and tip-toed into the bathroom, not before making a show of it for my benefit.

I followed her quickly as my lips found her for a kiss, “that was a catwalk worthy walk, Scarlett.”

She slapped my chest, smiling, “Enough with the Scarlett. And it should be a good walk, my mom used to get so pissed if I slouched or didn’t walk like a Lady.” She rolled her eyes, stepping under the stream of water, instead of joining her right away I just enjoyed the view.

“See something you like?” she asked, with a cheeky shake of her bottom.

“I do…”

“Care to join in the party then? It’s a little roomy in here without you.”

Didn’t have to ask me twice, I simply walked in behind her, wrapping my hands around her body, up to her breasts, burying my lips in her neck. I felt her melt against me, and we both just stood there for a few seconds, unmoving.

Then she said it.

“What are we going to do? I’ve tried to ignore it, but Eric I …”

“You’re starting to panic.” I stated, and she just nodded, still not looking at me.

“We do what we have to. I don’t want to hurt him, but then I don’t want to leave here without you, either… so…” I said.

“Leave?” She turned to me then, a worried look on her face, “right, I guess, since you don’t really live here, you would be leaving.” She commented, more to herself than to me. She placed her hands on my neck, then tucking some stray hair behind my ears, she said, “I just never really thought about it, I guess.”

“Leaving here?”

She nodded, “I’ve wanted to, for so long, but it’s the fear of not knowing exactly what’s out there that… well, that, and my friends, my family…I just… it’s just all so sudden and so drastic.”

“What did you think would happen when you broke up with him, and turned to me?” I said, a little sharper than I intended. She looked hurt.

“Well to be honest, I didn’t think. It’s not like I planned this, Eric.” She said, looking at her toes, I knew she was telling the truth, but her naiveté was going to get her in trouble, I hated that fact.

“I know you didn’t… I didn’t mean to sound…”

“No, I get it,” she said, sadly, “I guess it’s time to fish or cut bait.”

I looked at her, what an odd turn of phrase for a young woman.

“My Granddad used to say that.” She shrugged, hugging me.

“This is so not what was meant to happen in this shower,” I commented pulling us under the warm water again, she just laughed.

“I figured as much, angst-talk or shower sex, I know which one would be more fun right now.”

“Do you now?” I asked, pushing her gently against the cold white tile, my eyebrow raised in question.

“Mmhmm.”

“Well, let’s see what I can do about that.”

I kissed her then, hard and fast, not that she seemed to mind in the slightest, digging her fingers into my upper arms, grinding herself against me, missing the friction we’d been creating for hours before. I didn’t wake up that morning thinking that this was how my day would be, there were no plans at all, other than sleeping off my hangover. But this, this was a much more pleasant way of spending the day. Her body was, in a word, magnificent. It was clear she really looked after herself. Her toes where shiny and painted, matching her elegant fingernails, she was waxed too, just about everywhere, leaving her smooth and tan. Touching her was truly a pleasure, but having her touch me was even more so. She seemed surprised by a few things, sexually speaking I mean. she seemed to think that I wanted to rush it, get straight to the penetration part of sex, but I learned early on that if you want to make something memorable and make it last, you took your time. Sookie wasn’t used to that, which made me hate Alcide just a tiny bit in those moments. He had in the palm of his hand this perfect woman, and he wasn’t treating her the way she needed to be treated. Maybe it was that, or maybe it was just good old fashioned jealousy. Either way I wanted to show her what sex would be like, if she chose me. I wasn’t kidding myself though, just because she’s broken things off with him, it didn’t really mean that she was ready to let it go. Even if he was, in my head, a shitty lover and a neglectful boyfriend. Love just doesn’t die, not over night, and not with women like Sookie. I wanted her to choose me, to go with me and leave this place and it’s small minded people in the dust, but I knew it wouldn’t be easy. We had that day together, and for that day I had my shot at showing her how things might be if we were to attempt something for real. I knew I made her smile, and I knew I made her come, but beyond that everything she was feeling was still tucked up in that head of hers. And sadly neither of us were mind readers because that would be one skill I could have used that day.

Instead I did what I knew I could do, and that was use the time wisely, feeling ever so slightly honoured to be Sookie’s first shower sex, if nothing else.

Her hips bucked against me, as I did the same to her, she clung to my body as mine held her up against the wall. Feeling her hot breath on my neck, calling my name over and over, interspersed with the name of her God and her baby Jesus, it made me smile to know she was in a world of her own because of the pleasure we were creating. I know for sure that I was feeling otherworldly as I came, the feeling of sheer and utter bliss that washes over you, unlike any other feeling I’d yet to discover. I struggled not to fall on my ass, my legs not feeling the sturdiest, just like hers so it seemed, since I let her down gently onto wobbly legs. She just laughed, still sort of lost in her thoughts.

Damn.” she said, sighing happily, “you need to do like, a master class.”

“On sex.”

“Hell yeah.” she said with a sleepy smile as she wash up, lathering both herself and me up in white bubbles that smelled like summer time.

“Taking a shower, and not getting clean, now that’s just a waste of water.” She chided playfully, soaping me up over and over, giving certain areas some extra attention.

Then someone knocked at the hotel room door.

“Shoot!” she said, “that must be the pizza… I guess we got carried away.” She smiled kissing me quickly.

“I’ll go.” I said, but she just shoot her head, hopping out of the shower and putting on a dressing gown.

“No you won’t, we can’t have you answering the door with a hard-on, scare the poor kid to death!” She laughed out loud, twirling her hair in a towel and heading for the door. I just towelled off real quick, taking the second dressing gown that her hotel offered, and made my way out just in time to see her bring the pizza’s in.

“Starviiiing.” She said, putting the food on the crumpled bed, and immediately tucking into a slice and offering me mine, which I gladly accepted.

“I wanted to pay for the food.”

She just narrowed her brows at me, before rolling her eyes.

“It’s sweet to be chivalrous, Eric, and I appreciate it, but it’s just pizza.” We got through two slices, when the door went again.

“Maybe he wants his tip?” I said chewing.

“He got his tip, and a peek at a half naked, fully wet, freshly fucked woman, he should be fine!” She said going for the door again. This time wasn’t so pleasant.

Mom!”

“Sookie, what on earth are you doing here?” I heard from the door, thankfully the wall obscured her view. Just to be on the safe side, I moved back, wanting to hear what she had to say.

“I …”

“I know why you’re here, Alcide has been worried sick about you, Sookie, just sick! He’s been calling all day today and last night asking if I’d seen you, and you didn’t answer your phone to either me or your father! It’s just unacceptable!”

“Mom -”

“No, now, I don’t know what you’re doing here, lounging around at this time of the evening but I need you to get dressed, get a hold of yourself and go apologise to Alcide for being such a silly girl! Honestly Sookie, walking out on your relationship like that… it’s just not -”

“Acceptable, yes, mother you’ve told me so before. But I’ve left. I don’t love him, not like I … I just don’t.”

“What does love have to do with anything?” She said, with an air of snobbery that just angered me.

“I…” Sookie began but was cut off again.

“Sookie, Alcide is a good, simple man, he can give you a nice life. Take it and stop complaining.”

Oh, this bitch.

“I don’t want it. I mean I thought I did that’s why I left. I asked him if he wanted to marry me mom and he said he didn’t… and I just -”

“Well he’s changed his mind, I can tell you that much.”

“What?”

“Can’t I come in, this is so… common airing all our dirty laundry in public.”

“No!”

“Why ever not?” came her mother’s clipped tone.

“I… it’s… the room is a mess and I -”

That’s when I stepped out from the shadows, so to speak, and stood behind Sookie at the door.

In full view of her mother too, Sookie turned to me, her face ashen white in shock.

“Mrs Stackhouse.” I said, regarding her mother with a nod. Her eyes simply widened, and her mouth agape.

“Well, well, well. I should have known.” She shook her head, glaring at Sookie.

“Really, Sookie? Really? You’ve left Alcide for this? His best friend? The hippy photographer with no home. That’s just so classy, of both of you, really.”

I guess that was meant to insult me, if it did, she failed.

“Mom it’s not what it looks like -” Sookie panicked.

“It’s exactly what it looks like.” I said, earning a glare from Sookie.

“What? I think you should be honest with her, lying has obviously got you nowhere.” I said to Sookie, as her mother looked on.

“Look, both of you, I don’t care what this…” she waved her hand at me, “is. What I do care about is fixing my daughter’s life, since she can’t seem to manage it on her own. Now, Eric, I’m sure you’re a nice man, and a terrific lay. But Sookie is not the woman for you, believe me.”

She stood there, talking about her daughter as if she wasn’t even there.

“Is that right? And what makes you the expert here?” I asked her, noting how Sookie’s shoulders sank and her happy demeanour from before now officially vanished.

“I know her, you don’t. This little thirst with your boyfriend’s best friend ends, now, Sookie, you hear me? I’ve told Alcide I’d fix this, and I’m going to fix it and so are you. Get dressed, and go see him.”

When Sookie didn’t speak, her mother spoke again, “If you don’t go and see him, he’s on his way here. I told him I’d talk to you first, but you know how he is. And I know finding you here with Eric is the last thing you want. He has a ring, and he’s going to ask you to marry him, tonight.” She looked at me then, “leave your idiotic choices in this room for heaven sakes, and go and say yes.”

With that she turned on her expensive heels, and left. I slammed the door, making Sookie jump. Normally I’d have been sorry for such an action but at least it let me know that she was still alive in there.

“Fucking bitch.” I said, walking back into the room, “I mean who the hell does she think she is, ordering you around that like, you’re a grown woman for fuck sake!”

Yeah I was angry, that’s an understatement.

“I mean, Jesus, it’s ridiculous.”

Still she said nothing, instead I saw her reaching for her clothes. A sinking feeling set in on my chest.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going to fix things.”

“What?” I walked to her then, in an attempt to shake her out of whatever state she was in.

“You’re going to him? Because of her?”

“Eric, if I don’t, she’ll tell him. She’ll tell him and it’ll ruin your friendship with him. I know you don’t really want that.” She said, sadly, tears in her pretty blue eyes. “I wish I had thought this through, instead of just acting on impulse… I’m just going to end up hurting too many people. Too many people that I care about. And I can’t do that. So yes, I have to go to him.”

“Sookie, you didn’t fucking force my hand here. I knew the consequences when I walked into this, and so did you. You know that.”

“Maybe I ignored them. I wanted it to be true. To think that maybe he’d forgive us, but he won’t, Eric. You’re his best friend. And I’m meant to be his faithful girl.” she shook her head, shedding her salty tears in the process. “I’m sorry.”

She was sorry? Sorry?

“So that’s it for us? Because YOU’RE SORRY. That’s IT?”

She sniffled, continuing to throw on her clothes, then gather her still wet hair into a bun. Still wet from the amazing shower we’d just had minutes before our little world was smashed into a million pieces.

“Yes. I was kidding myself.” she said, bitterly, “I have a life here, Eric. I belong here, you… don’t. It’s as simple as that. I…e never meant to hurt anyone.”

“Well you’ve hurt me.” I said, bluntly, yanking on my jeans, and my t-shirt too, feeling like I just got stabbed in the gut.

“I’m sor-”

“Don’t. Okay? Don’t even fucking say it, Sookie. I don’t want to hear it. You know why? Because it’s bullshit. It’s total bullshit. Just like your precious life here. These people don’t know you at all! Fuck do you even know who you are without them? I thought I saw something in you, a little light… and it’s slowly going to burn out the longer you stay here. Or hey… maybe that’s bullshit too. I don’t even know anymore.”

“Jesus, Eric, you think this is fucking easy for me? I don’t know what I’m meant to do okay! I just don’t want to hurt anyone anymore than I already have… I just don’t know what to do!”

Bitter, in my anger, maybe I didn’t care that she was hurting. Maybe, selfishly, my own hurt and pain took over, and I dismissed her desperate pleas for what I know now was her grasping for someone to make the big decisions for her. Because it was how it was her whole life. Everyone else made those big choices for her, always, so when it came to making them alone? She had no clue what to. Had I just recognised it then, it might have saved us both a lot of time and trouble. But, I didn’t. Instead, I let my own hurt overtake me.

“I’ll tell you what you can do, you can do as your mother says… go back to him, and live the lie you can’t seem to want to leave behind. But I want nothing to do with it. With it, or you.”

“Don’t say that.” She cried and it broke my fucking heart to see her like that. I wanted nothing more than to take her in my arms again and tell her it would be okay. But, I couldn’t, even if I had wanted to, because I didn’t know if things would be okay.

“Then what do you want me to say, huh? That I’m okay with you going off and marrying him? No, I’m not and you know that, because you know. You know how I feel about you, and I know you feel something for me too, but because you worry so much about what OTHER people think of you, you ignore what you think of yourself.”

“That’s not true, I’m just trying to make everything right, is that so bad? Does that make me such a bad person?”

“NO! But you’re not making it right for YOU and that makes you a fucking idiot.”

She blinked away her tears then, and I felt it across my face. A sharp slap, that I no doubt earned for my tone and my words to her.

“Fuck you.” She said before she grabbed her purse and marched out the door, slamming it behind her for effect.

I left New Orleans that night, skipping out on the last day of the job to do so, because I just knew that I couldn’t be around when it happened. And I couldn’t be around them at all. Not any more. So with a heavy heart and a mind full of Sookie Stackhouse, I set about trying to get her out of my system. And for a long time I didn’t think it would work. Then I met Chloe, in Australia. She was on a teaching exchange from London and everything I should have wanted, she and I clicked instantly. Her sense of humour and fun, as well as her beauty, helping me to put Sookie and that whole clusterfuck out of my head and to embrace my future and attempt to forget about my past. But, as they say, the past always catches up with you. And, on my six month anniversary with Chloe, that past came through my letter box in the shape of a wedding invite, with a letter from Alcide asking me to be his best man. I knew I shouldn’t do it, I knew I wasn’t so sure if I could do it, I knew I had feelings for my girlfriend, but in the end the one thing I knew for certain won out, and made me accept.

I knew I loved Sookie Stackhouse.

And so, I went.


A/N: Hey folks! In the middle of moving house, it’s a nightmare! But here we have their version of their nightmares! Poor Eric! Poor Sookie! What will it take to make her grow a spine? Will the wedding go off without a hitch, and will Alcide be perfect husband material for her? Hmm. Next chapter we’re going to explore their relationship a little deeper, we need to get a peek at what Sookie NEEDS to leave behind! Let me know what YOU think!

Ps. I’ve got one reader rooting for Chloe already, lol! :S


Chapter 12: Chapter 12


SPOV:

Fear. It’s responsible for a lot of things in this world. War, hate, tears, violence, spur of the moment reactions that you regret forever… it’s also responsible for holding a person in place tighter than cement shoes. There I was, in that hotel room with Eric, mere steps from embarking on a whole new life, becoming a whole new person, becoming who I’d always wished I could be. And I couldn’t do it. I ran, literally, in the other direction. The safe option, the easiest option, instead of taking my own road less travelled, I chose the daily route of my life. I chose to go, and do as she said. I went back to him.

I didn’t know why I chose to let the fear of the unknown consume me like it had. I wished so hard for the strength to stop myself, to make the right choice for me and not for them, and yet I still couldn’t do it. I got into my car and called Pam only to receive no answer. I knew I could have called the other girls, even Hadley, but I also knew they’d judge me in a way that Pam never would. I couldn’t tell them, and it seemed I couldn’t tell anyone. And I wouldn’t either. I went back to the house to find Alcide there with a smile, a sort of hopeful look on his face, begging for my forgiveness.

I stopped him in his tracks though. He really, in the scheme of things, had nothing to be forgiven for. He was simply a man who wanted things a certain way, and his certain way and my certain way were just not the same. Until now, apparently.

“Sookie, look please, I know you say I have nothing to apologise for, but I do. Sweetheart, when you left it really made me think about what I’d said, and the choices I was making. I don’t want to lose you, I don’t want to lose us, I love you, and I want… to do whatever I have to, to make you happy.”

“But it’s not what you want, I don’t want you doing this just because it’s what I want. I’m not that spoiled, Alcide.”

Even though I sure as hell acted like it to prove my point, I thought.

“But I do want it!” he said with a smile, and somehow I just didn’t believe him. Or maybe it was just because I didn’t want to believe him because I knew it wasn’t what I wanted.

“Sook, I don’t want to fight anymore, and I know your mother talked you into coming here, but you know what I want to ask you…”

With that, he pulled a rather stunning looking vintage ring from his pocket. “It was my great, great-grandmother’s ring.”

“Alcide, I…”

I wanted to tell him, I wanted to be honest, but I couldn’t. My own cowardice was filling up the room.

“I want to tell you something, I want us to be honest here… and I just -”

“Sookie whatever it is, it’s okay. Really.”

“No, it’s not. I want us to have a clean slate here.”

“And this is our chance. So, can we just put the past where it belongs? Starting tonight, it’s a new us. A new chance.”

He looked so earnest, so hopeful, and in reality, I wanted some of that hope too.

I simply nodded.

“I wasn’t supportive before, I know that, but I want to be. I need you, Sookie.”

“Alcide -”

“No, please let me finish. Sookie, I want you to be my wife. Will you marry me?” he asked, smiling. I tried to smile back, but it was as if my muscles were frozen.

I’d made my bed, as my Gran would say, now it was time to lie in it.

I simply nodded, unable to speak the words. Why couldn’t I just say yes, use my words like the grown woman I was? I didn’t know, I didn’t know a lot of things, but I knew something, and as he kissed me I wanted to curl up and cry.

“Cide, I want to take things… slowly,” I said, running my hands through my hair, could I really do this? Could I carry on like this as if my time with Eric never even happened? I had no idea. I felt so lost, like all of a sudden I’d misplaced my trusty life map.

“Sure! I mean we don’t have to get married tomorrow, Sook, I just think that this could be a really good step for us. The more I thought about it, the better I felt about it. You were right. You really were!”

“No, I mean, with us. I left because I was being selfish, really selfish and stupid, but it gave me time to think about stuff, and right now I just need to be…alone.”

“What do you mean?” he asked, his smile dissipating.

“I mean… I’m tired and gross right now,” I said, dropping his hand. “I want to take a shower, and I’m going to go sleep in the guest room.”

“Why?”

He looked hurt, and he had every right.

“I love you,” I said embracing him in a hug, the weight of the engagement ring new to my hand. “I just need some time to process this. All of it. Is that okay?”

“It’s fine, you know that, Sook, but I still don’t know why the sudden shift? I mean I thought this was what you wanted?”

“It is.”

It was.

“I just need you to give me some time and I promise everything will be alright tomorrow. I just need to be by myself.”

“Didn’t you get enough of that these last few days?” he questioned, and I just shrugged. What else was I meant to do? Admit that no, I didn’t get all that much time to myself at all, since I was busy with your best friend in bed. No, instead I just lifted my bag and went upstairs, leaving Alcide baffled, I’m sure. I just couldn’t look at him, not right then, not knowing that not an hour before I had his best friend inside me, in more ways than one. I climbed into the shower again and attempted to get my head straight. I’d made my choice, I had, it was this life I wanted. I wanted to want it, I needed to want it, and I needed to make a real go of it. And that started by pushing all foolish notions of Eric, and some fantasy life, out the window and embracing my reality that was here and now.

I heard the front door close when I got out of the shower. Alcide was gone and not one part of me cared if he came back. Selfish to my core in that moment, I just wanted to wallow in the grief of my bad decision making. I regretted it, all of it. Going to that bar with Pam that first night, seeing Eric first, wanting him first, but then allowing myself to get comfortable with Alcide. Allowing Alcide to get comfortable with me, even though to me it seemed like he was always just that little bit on edge. In over a year I don’t think I’d ever really seen him, one hundred percent relaxed. I often questioned why that was, hell, I’d questioned a lot of things when it came to him, but never his love for me.

I owed him, I owed us… a shot at something. He was a good man, and I believed his words before, he wanted to make me happy, and not a lot of women get that promise. Couldn’t I at least give it a try?

I would try, I decided. I would try and embrace him more, I wanted to make him as happy as he wanted to make me. We were both so full of good intentions, it would probably lead us both to hell.

Attempting to push Eric out of my head, and my heart, was going well until I got back to work.

“Sookie?” Arlene said as I approached reception to take a tally on my check ins for that month.

“Oh, hi Arlene.” I cringed inwardly, as I was sure I would for the foreseeable future.

“Not to bug you or nothin’ but your friend, the guy…Eric?”

I felt a cold sweat break out on my body, did she know? Had she heard us? Had someone else seen us?

Paranoia reined supreme.

“What about him?”

“He left some things in the room safe, I figured he either forgot them, or left them for you. Either way you’re my go-to girl for this, since he didn’t give an address when checking in.”

“Oh. What things?”

“Marne put them in the lost and found box. I think it was a sealed envelope.”

“Did you open it?”

She was a nosy, I had to ask.

“No, of course not, you already warned me it was company policy not to snoop,” she nodded. That had been a hard conversation, but snooping through guests rooms before they’d even checked out was a big no-no.

“Okay, good. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” she chirped. “He was a handsome one. You’re lucky Alcide is so cool with you hanging with other men, let alone men that look like that.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well I just mean -”

“He’s a friend, Arlene, in fact he’s Alcide’s friend not mine, I was just being -”

A great big cheating whore.

“Friendly. Okay?”

“Okay, dang, keep your panties on Sookie, I was just sayin’ is all.” She held her hands up before walking into the back office to answer her phone.

God, I really needed to chill out. That wasn’t going to happen, I thought, as I opened his envelope. It was most definitely left for me. Inside it was a A4 size folder with photos in it. My photos. The ones that I had taken on a whim that day on the set of his movie. They’d turned out… really beautiful actually. On a yellow post it note was simply ‘do something with these…’

That surprised me. Something else that surprised me was the other photos that accompanied mine. His photos, of me. And on that another post it, with ‘do you see what I see?’

And the truth was he was being cryptic, because all I saw was me, looking a little forlorn, a little lost. Did he see that? Or did he see something else? And why leave me these? Why keep them at all?

I decided that I would keep them though, per his request, hidden away in my bottom drawer at work. They’d sit until I figured out what he meant when he told me to do something with those photos.

I wanted to call him, I wanted to ask him, why so cryptic? I also wanted to know just how much he hated me, or if he cared at all? I had hope that if he did hate me it would hopefully dissipate in time. And if it wouldn’t, that he would be okay in the world if he chose to hold onto that hate. He didn’t seem the kind of man to hold a grudge though, and I hoped that he’d be happy. I mean, I’d chosen my path, no matter how bumpy or unsure, and I was sure that he was on his right path and hopefully there would be happiness in it for him, somewhere. Even if there wasn’t happiness for me, I knew it was by my own choosing, I realized that much.


A wedding had to be planned, and with that came my distractions. Alcide and I hadn’t been intimate since before our ‘break up’ and two weeks passed before I could even sleep in the same bed as him. Foolishly, at first I thought it was as if he knew, somehow suspected that Eric had touched me, had been with me, had been inside me. Logically, I knew of course that was both stupid and insane, but my paranoia and guilt was manifesting itself it seemed. I knew I wanted us to give things a shot, and that began with getting back in the saddle, so to speak, with Alcide. It wasn’t so easy though, going back to sex where he refused to really even look at me, after having what I had with Eric. It felt wrong to be thinking of another man when I was trying to get my fiancé in the ‘mood,’ but it was difficult not to.

Alcide was almost clinical in his love making. All the rights spots were hit for just the right amount of time to get me off, but it felt… wrong. It felt forced. I switched us up, getting on top of him so maybe he’d have to look me in the eye, still no dice though, since he just latched his lips onto my neck and started kissing me instead.

“Look at me, ‘Cide,” I said as I started to thrust a little harder, making his eyes roll back in his head, before I grabbed his chin and tilted it to make him look at me. He held my gaze for a second, maybe two before he flipped us over again, this time turning me over so I was facing our pillows, effectively putting a halt to ANY form of eye contact. It’s not that I minded doggy style, I just needed more reassurance that we were both on the same page, and I got that through eye contact, or talking. Alcide was the strong, silent, eyes shut type, apparently. I went with it, because what else was I meant to do? It felt fine, and I assisted, I wasn’t a lay there and do nothing kind a girl when it came to sex, no matter how passive I might have been in my day- to- day life. Instead if just letting it slide though, I made us move again, with me on top.

“Please, look at me… I need us to connect like this,” I said, as he panted and moaned, and I fought off my orgasm until he addressed this shit.

Instead though he just stopped. Coming to a halt, without the coming, if you will. And he pulled out of me and off the bed.

“Jesus Christ, Sookie do you have to be so Goddamn distracting when we’re in the middle of sex? I mean it’s hard enough for me to -”

“Hard enough for you to WHAT?” I yelled back, thoroughly pissed at the whole situation.

“To concentrate.”

“Concentrate? It’s sex, Alcide not a fuckin’ math quiz! All I want is a little connection!”

“My dick is INSIDE YOU. What more connection do you want?”

He yelled again, this time heading for the shower.

“You’re kidding me, right? Alcide, is it so much to ask -”

“Is it so much to ask for you to stop yammering on at me during sex? It’s meant to be relaxing and I feel like you’re judging me!”

“I’m not! I just want us to be closer… and not just physically!”

“Well, I don’t know Sookie, this is just how I do things. I can’t help it.”

I just stood there, naked as the day I was born, and just as confused.

“So you aren’t even willing to see my side?”

He just closed the shower curtain. So much for being more supportive, huh?

I was blind.

No.

I was blindfolded.

Someone was in the room with me, I knew they were. I felt their energy. Then I felt their breath, his breath on my skin. It felt amazing, my senses on overdrive due to my lack of sight.

Sookie,” he said, and I still couldn’t see him, but I felt his lips on my neck, up to my ear, then on my mouth. Then I felt his hands on my body. I knew who it was, even if I couldn’t see him. I could feel all of him, smell him too. His cologne ingrained in my senses.

“What do you want, Sookie…” he asked sensually, before nibbling on my earlobe.

“You know what I want.” I said, my voice sounding strange, even to me.

“Yes… I know what you want.” Assertive and sexual, his tone alone made my toes curl, and before I knew it I was blinded by light. He yanked the blindfold off and there he was with his baby blues staring right at me as if I had all the answers to all his questions.

“You want to see it all, you want the light.”

“I do want the light,” I said before I kissed him, but just as I did I felt like I was falling, and suddenly there I was, on my couch.

Dream.

Damn it, it was the third day in a row that I’d woken up with Eric on my mind and in my hormones it seemed. Every time, the dream would end just before we got to the good part. My own subconscious was cock-blocking me.

I thought about calling him, I always thought about calling him, or emailing, but I never did. Months had passed and I still hadn’t. I knew I didn’t have the balls to do it. It was that ugly fear again. Instead though, I went to the drawer, the drawer that held his photos, and mine, and I finally did something with them.

As I was dropping off the wedding announcement at the paper, I called in to see the editor. She’d done a travel piece on the B&B when she was still a freelance writer, and I got to know her though that. Marcie Gates, she was chirpy but had nerves of steel, and she could cut you down with just a look. I liked her though, she was honest. I showed her photos, asking for just an unbiased opinion, and she asked me for more work because she needed to see what else I’d done. And so it took me to the spare room where I’d boxed up my photos, and my portfolio, not looking at any of them in over a year since I’d moved in with Alcide. I pieced it together and dropped it off. I heard nothing for a week, but then she called.

“Sookie? It’s Marcie.”

“Oh, Hi I -”

“I got your package, and Sookie I have to say, I like what I see.”

My heart skipped, she did? It wasn’t just childish crap?

“I… Really?”

“Yes, really. I mean it is clear you’ve had no formal training, but you do have an eye, and I like these shots, I like their story. Now, I’m not sure I have anything for you here, at the paper, but I have a friend he runs a country living type magazine over in Shreveport, I want to give him a call, and show him your work, if that’s alright?”

Was it alright? It was more than alright!

“Wow, oh, of course, yes! I’d love that. I mean just to have another opinion on it…”

“Good, great. I’ll get him to call you.”

“That’s great, thank you so much.”

“You’re welcome.”

I beamed.

“Oh, and Sookie? Congratulations on the wedding,” she said, hurried and distracted before she hung up. I felt like doing a little dance I was so happy. My photos, they didn’t suck!

I told Pam, and she was thrilled for me, Tara didn’t get it, but she was happy for me. Alcide was, of course, busy at work and not answering his phone, my dad was proud and my mom was ambivalent, as always.

There was one other person that I wanted to call. I wanted to tell him.

So, I dialed his number, and I listened to it ring. All the while attempted not to swallow my nerve.

And then it happened. Someone answered, but it wasn’t Eric.

It was a woman.

A breathless and pleasant sounding women who had just ran to answer the phone.

“Hello?” She said, her accent not local that’s for sure. If I had to guess I’d say she was from England.

“Hello? Can you hear me?” she repeated.

Yes, definitely England. I didn’t speak though, it wasn’t that I thought Eric was a monk while off in the world, I just hadn’t directly thought of other women in his life. Other… perky sounding, breathless, British chippies.

I hung up, losing my nerve completely. I had no business annoying him like that, poking my nose back into his life when I walked out of it by choice that evening in the hotel.

No.

If this was a book, that chapter was closed. That mistake was made, and I had to move on. And I would move on. A week later I got a call from the editor friend of Marcie’s, telling me he’d like to meet with me, and when I did, he went ahead and offered me some freelance work, assisting him and his head photographer for some on the job training. They couldn’t pay me of course, but since it was just three mornings a week to start, I was more than happy to rearrange the working schedule so I could at the very least give it a shot.

And I did, and I loved it.

Murray Lee was my boss of sorts, three days a week, and he taught – or attempted to- teach me, all he knew. He’d been a photographer since he was sixteen years old, his next birthday left him seventy one, just like my Gran. Of course he knew her, and it kicked out a great ice-breaker between the both of us as I assisted him on shoots for the magazine. I got my photographer credit on my first issue two weeks after I began. It was a thing of beauty.


I sat there surrounded by my girlfriends, all of them aflutter helping to plan my big day. I should have been happy, I should have been excited and glowing and all those things I was so used to seeing in others when it came to the lead up to this day, but I wasn’t. I just simply there, but not really there. Sarah gushed about Steve and their romantic getaways to Hawaii, Tara and her family were just overjoyed with her new daughter. Hadley had a boyfriend who wasn’t bad for her – shocking us all. It actually calmed her down a lot, and she was going back to finish her GED and thinking about college. Pam was still seeing Stan, though less and less if I knew her like I did, but they both seemed okay with that. As well as all that, Claudine was finally back from Europe, yammering on and on about her new French beau, it was all a little much for me if I was being honest. I mean yes, they were focused on the wedding and in turn, me, but it was one of the reasons I hated the pageants. Having all that attention on me, all that pressure to look perfect and say all the right things? Well, it just wasn’t at all comfortable, and I felt like a bitch for wanting to bail, but it was how I felt every week when they’d insist we meet and talk about how things were going, because every week was the same. The same false conversations, the same airs and graces, all fake for faking sake. If I had to listen to one of them gush about how happy they were one more time, I swore I was going to explode.

It was invite time, and we’d narrowed it down to six hundred people, most of whom were friends of our parents, and only around a hundred did we actually know personally. My mother roped the magazine into doing a spread on us, since it was being held at the house, she saw it as a great way of showing off some Louisiana’s oldest and best reconstructed homes. And of course it got her name, the Stackhouse name out there, and it was something she could gush to her friends about at the weekly brunches. I just rolled my eyes, even if Alcide was excited about it being a ‘posh photo shoot.’ I’d chosen my dress, the flowers, and the bridesmaids dresses. I wanted simple, my mother wanted extravagant, and we actually met somewhere in the middle. She was already set on over decorating the house, the grounds and the gates to her liking, it seemed as if I was just there for the ride and she was in the driving seat. The worst thing? I didn’t even care. Like I said, I was there, but I wasn’t really there. Pam noticed but I shut her down when she’d try to dig, and of course that just spurned her into blaming Asshole Alcide for turning me into a complete bitch. I was being a bitch, but it wasn’t Alcide’s fault, I thought as I stood in the kitchen, zoned out.

“I still haven’t heard back from him, I think we should just send the invite,” Alcide said as we made dinner. The wedding was in a month, invites had gone out to everyone two weeks before, and I’d thought he’d gotten over wanting Eric there after he didn’t respond to his emails. Guess not.

“Where though?”

“He has a PO Box, then gets his shit forwarded. I think we should just send it. I want him to be my best man, but even if that doesn’t happen, I’d like him to be there. One of like fifty people I’ll actually know at this thing,” he smiled, yeah, there was a lot of names neither of us knew.

“It’s up to you, you know I don’t mind.”

I did mind, I didn’t want Eric invited because if he accepted that meant I’d have to… you know… see him, and stuff. I didn’t think my cowardly self was ready for that.

“I think I will.” He kissed me on the cheek ,and went to answer the phone. I just stirred the pasta for the millionth time, lost in thought. Since Alcide and I had stopped having sex I’d had a lot of time to think, not since that disastrous night had either one of us made the move to get some. I didn’t want sex with him where it felt like I was just a passive bystander in what was going on, and he seemingly didn’t care one way or the other since he never attempted to get me in the mood after it. We both blamed the stress of the wedding, or the loads of work we were both taking on to get time off for a honeymoon, but the truth was, I don’t think either of us had the energy to even try.

As sad as that was to admit to even myself.

We did a rehearsal before the rehearsal two nights before the wedding, it was really just an excuse for everyone to meet up, know their places, have some good food and a lot of alcohol. Everything was going fine, dinner was fantastic, and we all relocated to the bar of the hotel for drinks, the rooms that week all designated for guests of the wedding, at my mother’s request, of course. Never mind how much business I lost because of it, and her need to make a ‘good impression.’ Everything was going fine until Pam had to walk away because Alcide was ignoring her and her conversation. Not one to cause a scene where she knew it wouldn’t be welcomed, she was the bigger and better person and excused herself, for me.

“I just don’t get it Alcide, she’s my friend, and I’ve always made the effort with your friends,” I said, attempting to swallow my fear, if he found out just how much effort I’d been making with one friend in particular. It made my heart clench when I thought of Eric, but I quickly pushed him out, I needed to know what the issue was between Alcide and Pam.

“I have, haven’t I? Even the construction guys, most of whom are rude and just down right disgusting to me, but I ignored it because I knew they were your friends, so why can’t you try with Pam?”

“I have tried, okay? She just rubs me the wrong way, with her insinuations, and her judgements.”

“You’re judging her too, it’s the same thing!”

“Sookie, she’s not right. How she behaves, it’s not right. And to be honest there are rumours about her, always has been.”

“What kind of rumours?”

“That… well… that she’s a… carpet muncher.”

Excuse me?” I was offended by so much, most of all his choice of phrase.

“She’s gay. Or Bi, or whatever the fuck they’re calling it nowadays, either way, she’s stepping out on Stan Davis with other women, and Sookie, that’s a sin. It’s a sin against God!”

“Okay, one. You believe everything you hear? And two? There you go with the judging again. Look, if it’s a sin against God shouldn’t we let HIM be the one to decide the punishment?”

“Sookie it’s in the bible,” he whispered.

I fought to not roll my eyes just then, why was it that when people used that as the defence they conveniently forgot just what ELSE was in the bible that we act against every day without fear of being cast into the fiery pits of hell.

“So is that thing on your face, and the clothes on your back, and the meat in your belly. Alcide, it’s all in the bible as being some kind of sin! I hate that excuse.”

“So you’re defending her, and her twisted lifestyle.”

“Twisted? Jesus…”

“Yeah well, Jesus knows more about that than you do,” he sulked.

“I can’t believe you right now. I never knew you were such a homophobic asshole!”

“I’m not an asshole, I just think what I think, I was raised a certain way, and so were you, but of course you’ve been around those women too long.”

I actually gasped.

“Oh no you did not. Those women, are my friends, just like those guys that act like they were damn well raised by wolves are your friends. Sexist, chauvinistic, rednecks, every one of them. But I play nice, and I treat them just how I treat my friends because I know you need your friends. Doesn’t matter how uncomfortable they make me feel because I do it for you.”

Along with all the sex that I know I’m not really into, but I let that slide too, attempting to make him happy.

“So can you just please, be nice?”

“Nice?”

“I’m not asking you to be like best friends with her, but for my sake can you just…chill?”

“I can’t promise you anything, she just annoys me. Am I meant to love all your friends when really the only friend of mine you ever even liked to spend time with was Eric.”

I froze.

“I mean, I can see why, he’s just like Pam in a way, always rambling on about some queer way of life, inner peace, all that shit. He’s such a fucking hippy sometimes, but… he’s cool enough, Pam is just a bitch.”

“She’s not a bitch, she just doesn’t like to play fake with everyone she meets.”

“And I do?”

“Did I say that? God, Alcide why are you being so defensive about this? It’s just Pam.”

“Whatever,” he said, sipping his beer, effectively ending that spat. I wasn’t in the mood for any more of his sulking. Not that it helped in the slightest though, because when Pam and everyone else showed up, Alcide excused himself to go hang with some random guys at the bar for half the night. It was frustrating me to no end, I just wanted them to get along, was that too much to ask?

“Really, Alcide, thank you so much for trying, you really outdid yourself.”

Passive aggressive, sure, but I was tired of both of them bitching at me about the other, for what I could see was no other reason but childishness! I walked off in search of a drink, and my friend. I wanted her to know that his judgements weren’t my judgements and if she was happy, she could do whatever she wanted. I found her, retouching her lipstick in the ladies bathroom.

“I’m so sorry.”

“For what? You don’t control him, as much as I’d like to put a leash on some men, it’s just not legal. So don’t sweat it.”

“But Pam, he was rude.”

She just sighed, “Sookie you still care far too much about what people think. Just let it roll off. I’m a big girl, and Alcide is an ass, we’re all good.”

“Are we though?” I said, hopping up onto the counter, stealing her mascara to apply in the process.

“Are you?” she asked. “I mean what a dumb question, I know you’re not. I’ve known for months now you’re not okay. It’s written all over your beautiful, yet tense, face.”

“I’m that obvious?”

“Only to those of us who know what to look for.”

I sighed. I needed to tell her. I had to confide in someone. Six and a half months of keeping it to myself and I was just about fit to burst. First I checked the other stalls, to find them empty. And then I told her.

“It’s Eric.”

“What is?”

“My tenseness… It’s because of him, and what I did with him.” I said looking at her then, directly.

She got it instantly and her mouth fell open and her eyes went wide.

“Shut the fuck up! You and Eric slept together? Seriously?”

I nodded.

“The night I sent him home with you? I mean I know he said he wouldn’t take advantage -”

“He didn’t… I kinda did. The next day. We were totally sober and everything… which really just makes this whole fucking thing that much worse. I can’t even blame the booze on my bad decisions like a normal person.”

“Was he good?”

“Pam, that’s hardly the point here.”

“Psh, it’s entirely the point. He looks like he has moves. You know under that tall, awkward stance is a sexual God of epic proportions.”

I just raised my brow at her, as she said, “Okay, so maybe I’ve thought about it… so, was he?”

I tried to resist smiling, but really, I just couldn’t help it.

“Ahh, so he is that good. Well, good for you.”

“But, Pam, I cheated.”

“So?”

“Pam, it’s wrong!”

“Why is it wrong? You needed something, you needed something, and someone, so badly. Something and someone that Alcide isn’t and can’t give you it seems. Otherwise you wouldn’t have turned to the Swede, and his dick, and his lovin’.”

“I just… before I just liked him, but I’m scared of what liking him meant.”

“Meant, or means?”

“Meant. I’m marrying Alcide aren’t I?”

“Yeah, girl, don’t get me started on that clusterfuck,” she rolled her eyes.

“You think I shouldn’t?”

“I’m biased, you know that, so I’m not the best person to ask since I hate his guts and am firmly on Team Northman.”

I gasped.

“I mean I’m always on Team Stackhouse, of course, but for those two? Please, Alcide doesn’t even have a Team as far as I’m concerned.”

“But Pam, I do love Alcide.”

“Well then, if you love him, and you want the life he offers you, then take it. Take him, take it, and live your life with him. If it’s not, then don’t.”

“Why do you make it sound so simple?”

“Because, sweetness, it is.”

“And you and Stan?”

“Ah,” it was her turn to sigh then. “That isn’t so simple. But, I am working on it.”

I nodded. Both of us steady in our resolve to make our choices work, and we headed out to the bar, both of us stopped in our tracks.

“Oh, now this should be entertaining,” Pam said as I closed my mouth. There he stood at the bar, in all his glory packed into a well worn pair of jeans and a suit jacket, tailored to perfection as always. But that wasn’t the fully heartbreaking part, stood beside him was this stunning brunette, leggy and perfect, her arms wrapped with his, both of them comfortable and coupled to no end.

I felt my heart sink as I also felt Pam’s hand on my shoulder.

“Time to choose, Sookie.”

Oh, hell.


A/N: Hey guys! Still with me? I’m all moved now so there’s a little extra in that chapter than usual to make up (hopefully) for the wait. Big thank you for all the reviews and messages and such, I didn’t get time to reply to them all this time around, but I read and loved them all! You’re epic! xox


Chapter 13: Chapter 13


EPOV:

When I left Louisiana I was hurt, my pride was hurt, my ego was bruised significantly, and my heart wasn’t as intact as it was before. I didn’t hate her though, and I certainly didn’t pity her, I just felt sad for the whole situation. At the time I knew I felt something for her, something that I hadn’t felt for a woman in a long time, but I also knew I was scared to really address what that feeling was. Rightly so, she was not mine, she was his. And, she would always be his if she married him. It was what she wanted. Him, the simple day to day life, the security. The money.

I hated that I thought that it came down to money, but Alcide’s family, while a little rough around the edges were worth a lot of money and to someone like her mother, that stuff mattered when it came to marrying your only daughter off for life. I guess some things from the old days just didn’t change. It didn’t matter to her mother if she was truly happy, but rather that she was set for life money-wise.

I sighed, hoping that Sookie would one day wake up and realize that she was living her life FOR other people. But if I was to force that on her, I’d be no better than the rest of them. As sad as it was to admit, I knew it was something she had to come to on her own.

If she never did, then it was a waste of that light inside her, one I was sure in time would get snuffed out under the suffocating weight of her parents and friends and everyone else’s expectations of her.

But, she had indeed made her choice, as maddening and hurtful as it was.

I wanted to call her, which sucked because I was pretty sure she didn’t want to call me or hear from me, but I still wanted to. And for months, she and that day were all I could think about. When I woke up, when I went to bed – all very much alone might I add, my thoughts were with her. And then one day, those thoughts were replaced by another.

Chloe.

“Jesus Christ you’re a miserable one,” came the voice to my left.

“Excuse me?”

“You. Are. Miserable. Who died?”

“Excuse me?” I asked, again, still confused. She just rolled her eyes and sat down beside me with her coffee and her beanie hat in hand. She was tall and a little on the pale side (not that I could talk) and she had long elegant fingers wrapped around her giant coffee.

“Why do you look so sad? You’ve been working here for a month now, and you’re always alone, always scowling at the wind. Frankly love, it’s worrying.”

Love? I enjoyed British terminology, and she seemed to have it in abundance.

“How do you know I’m always sad. Have you been watching me?”

She just pursed her lips, “You’re like, nine feet tall, you’re kind of hard to miss. Besides, when you look like you do, even if I hadn’t seen you, the groups of swooning women in your wake, that kind of gives it away.”

“Swooning?”

Was she high?

“Yes, swooning. Really Eric, you have the whole mysterious hotness thing going for you. And you appear to be single, that gets the ladies attentions.”

I just raised my brows at her.

“It got your attention,” I smirked, and she blushed, ever so slightly.

“Yes. It did.”

And that’s what it took, a conversation. And then one after that, and another after that. She was a makeup artist working on my latest film, and we’d have lunch every day that we were both on set at the same time. Pretty soon we were both in between projects so we hauled up in LA, meeting for lunch and then dinner, until we had to admit to ourselves that we were dating. I broke out the cologne for her and she shaved for me, according to her, this was dating – even if it did take me a week just to kiss her.

“And you slept with her?” she asked, her head hitting the pillow again, slipping her feet inside the blankets, a curious look on her face.

“Would you hate me if I said yes?”

“No. She broke up with him, and at the time, you weren’t to know it was only a temporary thing,” she added. It had taken me six months and a wedding invite to man up and tell her this part of my life.

“And besides, from the sounds of things it was rough on you, it makes sense now.”

“What does?”

“Why you looked like someone shanked your Gran when I first saw you,” she smiled,”bloody miserable as sin, walking around like there was a cloud over that giant head of yours…really as if someone had -”

“I get it,” I interrupted, pulling her close to me. “You really like to drive the point home don’t you?”

“I do. In fact I like to get it drunk, flirt with it, and then drive it home,” she said, with a wicked grin, making me laugh.

“So, this Sookie? Can I ask? Do her parents hate her?”

“Why?”

“Who in the world names their kid SOOKIE? I mean, is it a mix of Sex … and Cookie?” she giggled. “I mean, you’d know more than most since you shagged her, but seriously. What a name.”

“I don’t know what it means, I think it might be a nickname though.”

She raised her brows, “I’d hope. Maybe she is a Sex Cookie. She’s your Sex Cookie.”

I grew silent and she knew then to drop it.

“You’re still hung up on her, aren’t you?”

“No! I’m not, I’m not leading you on here.”

“Oh, I know that,” she said, confidently. “If you were I’d smash your balls, don’t doubt that.”

I didn’t.

“I mean there was no closure for you. Or for Sex Cookie… Sorry, Sookie.”

A sheepish smile dissipated and she continued. “That can’t be easy, and she went back to BorCide. If it were me, it would sting and I’d obsess over it until I made sense of it all.”

“I did…for a long time. But then you came along and broke the mould, and got me out of the funk I was in.”

“I did, and now you’re out of Funky town and in Likedupville.”

I raised my brow at her.

“The wine,” she clarified. “It makes me silly. I’m sorry, carry on.”

“You were talking.”

Yeah, she was drunk.

“Oh, right, I was. Well, are you going to the wedding? It seems like Alcide wants you there. I mean, we know she doesn’t. She hasn’t told him, so chances are she’s shitting herself at the idea of you showing up.”

“Why are you smiling?”

“Well, this Sookie… Not for nothing, but she can suck it up. You need closure before you can…” She stopped then, and looked at the blankets quickly, then back to me. “Before you can move on really, with something new.”

“With you, you mean.”

“You’re holding back on me, Eric. I can feel it sometimes. And I don’t want to pressure you for something you aren’t willing to give me. But, I want it all, and if going there and making your peace with them and their weird little wedding helps, then… so be it.”

“So you’re really encouraging it? I don’t know, Chloe, I can’t stand up there as his best man after what I did.”

“So, don’t. Just go, talk to her, and see how you feel afterward.”

“Sounds simple.”

“Oh, I’m sure it won’t be, but you could try. It’s all anyone can do.”

I sighed.

“If you need moral support, I can come. I’d like a weekend of judging the woman that broke your heart in a day. She must be quite something,” she said, nodding confidently, the snide and true remarks about the situation didn’t go unheard.

I ironed my shirts, and packed my weekend bag, grabbed my plane ticket and grabbed a cab to the airport. Chloe, early as usual was already there waiting for me. I agreed to her coming, mostly because if I was being honest I could use the moral support. I didn’t want to sit there and watch Sookie marry my best friend, but really, what other choice did I have? While Chloe and I had been happily dating, mostly happily anyway, we’d never discussed ‘love’ or of it was something we felt for each other. At least, not yet. I knew she was getting over a bad break-up, and I was dealing with my own heartbreak of sorts. I liked her, a lot, and I knew she was amazing to be around and fun and brutally honest, and I felt like in that time and space we were what the other needed. And that was okay by both of us, for now.

I knew I loved Sookie, but what that love really meant however was another thing entirely. I loved her in the sense that I wanted her to be happy, no matter what, I wanted her to live her best life, to be the person she was meant to be. Even if that meant that that person didn’t choose me, and chose someone else. If this, marrying Alcide, was what was to make her the best she could be then I’d supportive and move on, eventually. But, it was the blatant fact that this wasn’t a good choice for her, that I knew she wanted more, wanted difference, wanted change, but was too scared to reach for it. I knew this in my heart, and in my head that THAT was why I couldn’t let go, not fully.

“Jesus, the humidity, how do they live here!” Chloe said, laughing as we got into the rental car. “I’m English, we’re not used to this bloody heat! I think I’m melting, I actually think I’m dying.”

I laughed too as she stripped off her t-shirt to just a tank, and switched her jeans for shorts while I drove us from the airport.

“Good news is, I might actually tan. Oh, who am I kidding, I won’t tan. I’m Casper for crying out loud,” she commented, fiddling with the radio.

“So, what should I expect when we get there? Is she going to be pissed off that I exist?”

“Why should she be? She’s happily engaged, right?”

“Sure, but Eric, honey, I’ve fucked you… It’s a… unique… experience. And one I’m not sure most men can emulate,” she giggled. “So if it was me, and I was some blonde who you were crushing on -”

“Was!”

“Yes, I said was… though…hmm. Anyway, if I was some blonde who was crushing on you, and then fucked you, and then made the hair brained decision to go back to a guy who sound so boring so chances are he’s shit in the sack too -”

“How’s that?”

“Oh, please. It’s like hand size and penis size, some things are just connected.”

I smiled.

“I’m just thinking she might not be too happy.”

“They insisted I come.”

“They, or him?”

“Okay, him.”

She nodded.

“I’m battening down the hatches…so to speak. I don’t expect a warm welcome, that’s all.”

When we got into town, lunch was necessary when we checked into the hotel, not Sookie’s B&B like was requested on the invite. I, for one, wasn’t so ready to be back in that space again. Instead I gave Chloe my tour, and we ate till we felt fit to burst before returning to get ready and head to the bar.

It was packed, and I recognized instantly all of Alcide’s work friends, and Sookie’s friends who I’d seen briefly the first time I’d stayed with them. No sign of Pam at first, or Sookie I thought, but as we got our first drinks of the night Alcide spotted me.

“Eric! Hey man!” he said as we man hugged it up, and introduced him to Chloe, he seemed thrilled to meet her, or maybe more thrilled that I had a date this time? I wasn’t sure. They chatted, and I listened in, scanning the room every few minutes, I wanted to get the first meeting over and done with, at least, that’s what I told myself..

“So you still resisting me on the best man thing, Eric?” he said and Chloe looked at me, then back to Alcide.

“Man, I just don’t think I can stand up there in front of all those people -”

Being your best man, when I fucked your wife-to-be.

“Eric come on, I mean I like Sookie’s brother and all, he’s cool, but you’re my friend, you’re the one that knows me best.”

Chloe just had a ‘well the poor sod has a point’ look on her face.

“I can’t.”

He sighed, dejectedly.

“I have time to convince you otherwise. We even have a tux in your measurements. So, I will win this one, Eric,” he smiled, handing me a shot. Just at that I saw her, and Pam having one of those silent arguments by the hallway that led to the ladies room. Pam was yanking her across the room. Oh, that wasn’t a good sign.

“There you are baby,” Alcide snapped me out of my gaze by walking to her and putting his arm around her, bring her into the group. She looked like the deer caught in the headlights, but Pam was simply smirking. She knew. Of course she knew.

“Eric. Good to see you again,” Sookie said, more timid than her usual self. Pam said the same but in a more boisterous manner, she also demanded to know who Chloe was as Sookie simply looked on.

“Oh, Pam, Sookie, this is Chloe… she’s … um, she’s my -”

“I’m his girlfriend,” she said for me, and I shouldn’t have stammered on her role in my life, I just didn’t want to look at Sookie when I said it, and yet, I looked at her anyway. Her eyes dropped to the floor and my heart dropped with her.

“It’s great to meet you, Chloe,” Sookie’s greeting was upbeat and cheerful, unlike the look in her eyes that everyone but me seemed to be ignoring. “Eric didn’t tell us you were coming, I hope you guys got checked in okay?”

“We did,” Chloe said. “But we decided to stay in a bigger hotel in town, last minute guests and all, we didn’t want to be any trouble.”

“It wouldn’t have been any trouble the rooms were reserved for the wedding anyways,” Alcide said. Pam all the while remained silent, taking it all in.

“Well what’s everyone having, because I, for one, need a drink!” Sookie announced, breaking the somewhat awkward staring match between her and Chloe, that again, only I seemed to notice.

Was I imagining things? Jesus I hoped it hadn’t come to that.

Half an hour later, Pam had finally come into her own and questioned Chloe up and down on just who she was and what she was to me. Chlo’ took it her stride though, laughing off Pam’s more inquisitive questions and when Sookie of all people required her, I was surprised.

“Ignore Pam. She means well, but sometimes, she’s a little intense,” Sookie said, handing Chloe and I our drinks. “And I’m pretty sure she did the same thing to Eric the night she met him, too,” she smiled.

God I loved Sookie’s smile.

“Really?” Chloe asked, looking at me. “She’s just nosy then?”

“Very,” Sookie answered for me, before Alcide came swooping in and almost sat on top of her he was so close.

“So, what are you three talking about?”

“Pam,” I answered, and Alcide visibly tensed, rolling his eyes.

That was weird.

Sookie then tensed and took a long drink, something was up.

“I love Pam,” Chloe said, she had had wine after all, she loved everyone on wine. “No really, look at her, she’s foxy as hell, tall and amazing, flawless and a total unapologetic bitch. I can get behind that. At least she’s up front about who she is.”

Alcide chuckled, and Sookie nudged him in the ribs.

“What?” I asked, laughing, but I had a feeling it wasn’t so funny.

“Nothing…” Sookie answered.

“Pam isn’t so up front about who SHE is, she’s just more up front in other people’s business about who THEY are.”

“Meaning what?” I knew what, I just wanted to know what he knew, and why he seemed to have such a problem with it.

“Nothing man, it’s none of my business, or so I’m told,” he said, glaring at Sookie.

Sookie simply got up, excused herself and walked towards the ladies. Chloe being her epic self excused herself a short time later leaving me alone to talk to Alcide.

“You have some kind of problem with Pam?” I asked, and he simply shrugged.

“She’s a bitch, and she can’t mind her own business, and she’s a secret dike.”

My eyes widened.

“Alcide…”

“No, don’t okay. I don’t want any of your liberal bullshit, Eric. It’s not right, you know it’s not right, and that’s that. It’s just not right. Laying with someone the same as you.” He got worked up real fast on the subject of gay and lesbian rights, I shouldn’t have been as shocked as I was that he was up in arms about it close to home either. Personally people were people and love was love, colour, sex or anything in between had no place telling who could love who legally or otherwise. Alcide, clearly felt different.

“I’m just sick of it, all of it. Accepting this bullshit. I wasn’t raised that way. Sookie wasn’t either, but she’s so fine with it.”

“Alcide, it’s not like… you’re gay. I don’t see how this is such a big deal for you. If Pam is gay, or bi, that’s her life.”

“But it affects mine when she’s off filling Sookie’s head with all that bullshit! It’s not right, and I don’t want my kids raised that way.”

My heart stopped at the thought.

“Is Sookie pregnant?” I asked.

“No. She’s not, but she will be, soon, if I have anything to do with it.”

I wanted to punch him, then and there, not just for being a homophobic asshole, but for …getting to knock up Sookie. And ‘soon’, trapping her to that life, and that place, forever.

It made me sick.

“Does she want kids? So… soon?”

He shrugged, “She wants this wedding thing, kids can’t be that far behind. It’s how it’s done around here, ideally.”

“Ideally for who?”

He raised his brows at me.

“What’s your issue? Just because you don’t believe in marriage.”

“It’s not that, I just don’t think that it’s … for everyone.

“Well it is for me. It’s all I want. A normal life. With a wife and kids, and a house, a job I’m really good at, that’s all I want.”

“Who’s to say what’s normal?”

“Traditional, then. It’s what I was raised to want.”

“So it means what? Because it’s how your parents tried to raise you, it’s how the cycle has to continue?”

“What cycle?” he asked, and I just rolled my eyes. If he didn’t get it, he didn’t get it.

“Yes, it’s traditional, but not everyone wants that. Just like not everyone is straight. Just like not everyone is white. Just because it’s what you are doesn’t mean it’s what everyone should be.”

“Why are you so mad at me, man?” he asked, clearly now on edge.

“I’m not, I’m just trying to… make you see something from someone else’s point of view.”

“Why?”

“Ugh, you know what man, forget it.”

He glared at me as I downed my beer, suddenly wanting to be anywhere but where I was.

“Eric, come on dude, I’m sorry, okay. You know how I am, I’m just set in my ways, that’s all.”

“It’s not that, it’s that you don’t even consider for a second someone else’s point of view on a subject. Gay is wrong because you say so, Sookie will have your babies ASAP … because YOU say so. It’s not how the world works.”

He nodded.

“I’m sorry.”

Then I nodded, in acceptance. I knew Alcide, I knew he was who he was and still I was his friend. I accepted him, stupid ass flaws and all, just like he accepted me. Why now was I so up in arms about his ignorance? It wasn’t my place to drag him from his cave, if he was comfortable there, I’d always just let him be. But now, the thought of Sookie… being mother to his kids. It burned. More than I’d ever admit.

“See it’s shit like this, it’s why we’re friends. You’re not afraid to call me on my bullshit, Eric. I need you up there man.”

“We’ve been over this.”

“Not really. Why won’t you do it, for me? It’s me here, and I’m asking you to stand up with me on the happiest day of my life.”

Somehow, as much as he tried, he didn’t sound too convinced either.

“Alcide, please drop this. I don’t feel right doing it, and that’s how it is.”

He pouted, but conceded, and the ladies came back from the rather extended bathroom break.

Sookie kissed Alcide on the cheek, smiling as she did so, breaking my heart again in the process. Her eyes never met mine, but they met Chloe’s though. Something was said, and I had to find out what. In the meantime, we were subjected to Tara and her husband rambling on about their new baby, gushing over photos on their phone, then Sarah and Steve – who I hadn’t met but who seemed awfully chummy with Alcide, for a short, kind of nerdy guy with ken doll like hair, and they sure had a lot to talk about over at the jukebox for almost twenty minutes at one point I noticed.

And then there was Sookie. Sookie, who looked stunning in a white cotton summer dress and tan wedges making her even taller than she usually was, Sookie, who smiled and took dorky photos with all her friends, Sookie, who took my girlfriend under her wing it seemed and included her in all the conversations. A great hostess to the last, I thought, but then, it was Sookie, who avoided me, eye contact and conversation all night. It was Sookie who, without perhaps even knowing it, was breaking the cracks open in my heart again as I watched and knew that she was slipping away from me, not that I ever had a solid grip on her in the first place. And that, more than anything, killed me.

I wanted to be the one she loved, I wanted to be the one to dance and laugh and love her freely. Why? Why couldn’t I just love Chloe like that. She was equally as beautiful in her own way, she was smart and funny and we clicked, but why didn’t I feel for her what I felt for Sookie? That’s one question I didn’t know the answer too. I once heard that expression, the heart wants, what it wants.

And my heart, wanted Sookie.

For better, or for worse.

Frightening as it was.


A/N: Dumm dum de dum. Or should that be DUN DUN DUNNNN. Next chapter we get SPOV and a wedding, and a lot of tears. Happiest day of her life?

Hardly.

*Pets my angst bunny*

Mucho thankies you guys, all the reviews for the last one were amazing and hilarious actually and really made me smile! I’m so sorry if I didn’t manage to get back to everyone, but I can always try better next time! xox


Chapter 14: Chapter 14


SPOV

When I saw him standing there, even more handsome than I remembered him in my head, but there, with her, my heart sank. It had no right sinking on me though, I was over it. And him, and the whole cluster-fuck of a situation.

Except, my heart knew better and she knew that I wasn’t over shit.

But it was my job as Alcide’s girlfriend, fiancé, wife- to – be, to treat them as I was treating all my guests; with respect. No matter how much I wanted to run away so I wouldn’t have to see him, and he certainly wouldn’t have to see me, I couldn’t. So, I did what I always did. I did what was expected of me.

I was the perfect hostess. I talked to all our friends, had some laughs, had more than a few drinks despite promising myself I’d be good, and I dealt with it, and them, in as smooth a stride as I could manage. Well, it wasn’t so smooth four drinks in with six inch heels on, but I digress.

Chloe.

The voice on the other end of the phone, the British Chippy, Eric’s new girlfriend, she had a name. And it was pretty, just like her.

The bitch.

Okay, so she wasn’t even a bitch, she wasn’t. I kind of wished she was, it would have made my irrational hatred of her make sense, but no. She was funny and sweet, and seemed to really like Eric.

Eric though, he was zoned out, and I saw it. It made my heart skip when I’d catch him looking at me like he did, but then the guilt would take over and I’d go right back to self loathing because of it.

When I excused myself, no longer able to listen to Alcide and his lines of utter bullshit, I never expected her to come after me. I was splashing water on my wrists, attempting to cool off and calm down when I heard her come in to the empty ladies room. I loved that this bar had three ladies bathrooms on three levels.

“Are you okay?” she asked, in her cool accent, as she stood there all tall and cool just like said accent.

Could accents be tall? Well, hers certainly seemed so.

“Yeah, I’m fine. You really didn’t need to come in here after me. I just needed to cool off, is all.”

She nodded.

“I know, Sookie.”

“About cooling off? Yeah, cold water helps to -”

“About you and Eric.”

I blinked. My heart stopped, and the sweat began to break on my skin again.

Just at that my Aunt Linda appeared, swanning into the ladies, her Hermes on her shoulder.

Chloe still looked at me, and me at her.

“Oh, Sookie, darling, there you are. I really am glad you convinced your uncle and I to come here tonight, it’s so modern, I love it,” she cooed.

“No problem Aunt Linda, just glad y’all are havin’ a good time,” I smiled, dreading the thought of Chloe decideing to blab. My aunt went and did her business came out and washed her hands, drying them daintily on some paper towels.

“I do wish he’d lay off the whiskey though!” she giggled, kissing me on the cheek and walking out.

Chloe began reapplying her lipstick in the mirror.

“Chloe what do you want from me here?”

“What? Nothing. Why?”

“Well then why mention…the thing with Eric?” I was nervous, really nervous.

“Sookie, I just thought I’d put it out there, that’s all. You seem really on edge and I don’t want it to be because of me, that’s all.”

I sighed.

“Or Eric for that matter,” she said applying some gloss. “He’s so over the whole thing, really, and he’s happy that you’re happy.”

Oh.

Well.

Of course he was, I didn’t want him to be miserable, I wanted him to be happy. I did. I guess just hearing that he was happy when I was miserable – no matter how much I tried to pretend I wasn’t, stung a little.

“That’s great, really.”

“What are you two gossiping about?” In walked Pam, a smug smile on her face, and a drink in her hand.

“Nothing,” I said.

“Eric,” Chloe said. I guess she was as blunt as Pam was. She was English Pam.

Ohhh. She knows?” Pam asked me and I just rolled my eyes.

“Jesus, can we please let this go!”

“I’d rather not! It’s fun! Are you two…comparing notes? Seriously Chloe, good luck, she won’t pass out ANY details to me, but since I guess you’ve been there too…there would be more to talk about…” she wriggled her brows, leaving Chloe blushing and me wishing the ground would swallow me up.

“No, we’re not comparing anything. Sookie is dying internally though. For some reason she thinks I’m going to make a fuss!” her dainty accented self said.

“Why would you make a fuss?” Pam asked. “He wasn’t your boyfriend when she fucked up, technically neither of them were attached…at the time.”

I just shrugged and checked my makeup again. “I just… can’t we drop this? Yes what happened, happened, but it was obviously a mistake, and clearly,” I clarified, “Clearly, Eric has moved on and is happy, and that’s all that matters.” I nodded to both of them in the mirror.

“And what about you, are you happy?” Chloe asked, and they both stared me out for it.

I plastered on my best, biggest, beauty queen smile.

“Happiest I’ve ever been. Now, can we go?”

“Mmhmm,” Pam said sarcastically, and Chloe just nodded.

When we got out there I noticed that Alcide was off talking to Steve again, and that Tara, Claudine, and Sarah had all holed up at the bar gossiping. People were starting to filter in and out. It felt like any other night, but I was getting married the next evening, shouldn’t I have been excited?

By the time we were ready to call it a night, I was ready to fall off my feet. Since I’d opted for no real ‘rehearsal’ as such, the dinner that night had been at a hotel, and we’d cut to the bar after I’d done the rounds with the families. That in itself was mentally and physically taxing. But then to spend the night watching Eric and Chloe interact and watch her – as subtle as she was – claiming her territory… well I was about gasping for air when I told everyone I’d go wait for our cabs outside.

I inhaled the late April air, a little chilly but just perfection after being inside that oven of a bar, and inside my head all night. I was just zoning out when I heard his footsteps.

“What is it with you and this bar, their drinks are good, but… you’re like, obsessed,” Eric said standing next to me, not looking at me, both of us looking across the street.

“I like their cocktails. They don’t scrimp on the alcohol servings,” I shrugged, smiling.

“I guess, I mean it takes a lot to get me drunk, but this place? Gives me the worst hangovers.”

“Funny, this place gives me the worst decision-making moments in my life. I don’t know why I come here…” I laughed, finally looking at him, but he wasn’t looking at me.

“So that’s what it was… just a mistake?” Then, he finally looked at me, and his eyes were actually glazed over. I refused to believe it was tears. No. it was the breeze. That’s what it was.

“Don’t you think it was? I mean, it’s caused us nothing but confusion and a world of hurt… it didn’t end well.”

“Doesn’t mean the beginning and the middle sucked… I mean the experience… being with you… I don’t regret THAT.”

My breath hitched. I didn’t either, truth be told. I wanted to, morally, but realistically, I didn’t.

“I wanted to though. Jesus, I wanted to hate your guts for choosing him. Choosing him over me.”

That’s when my eyes filled with tears, and no, it wasn’t the breeze. It was the sheer hurt in his voice.

“And you don’t?”

“No…” He looked at me again, really looked at me.

“I don’t. I mean, I don’t understand it, clearly I’m the better choice…” he smiled, an air of sarcasm in his voice, playful, but his eyes said different.

“But me forcing you to see that… to chose me. It wouldn’t be right, and it wouldn’t be something I’d do because it wouldn’t make me any better than the rest of them.”

“Them?”

“The people in your life that you’re so desperately wanting approval from.”

That, he said hard and embittered, and it forced me to let my tears fall.

“But that’s your choice. All of this…” he waved his hand, “is your choice.”

Then he inhaled, big and loud, as the two cabs we’d booked pulled up and Chloe came out with Alcide.

“There you two are,” Alcide said, putting his arm around me, and patting Eric on the chest. He was well into being drunk now, so sloppy Alcide came out.

“Eric you’re going to be my best man, right? You have to! I need you. Tell him, Sook. Tell him we need him to make our wedding work.”

I just looked to the ground.

“Alcide, he doesn’t want to do it, so just let him be, come on now,” I said, dragging him to our cab, as I saw Chloe slip her hand into Eric’s and walk towards the car.

“Sookie?” Eric asked, and all three people looked at me as he spoke. “Is it what you want?”

I didn’t know what he meant. Did he mean, did I want this life? Alcide? Or him to be our best man?

Confusion.

“I…that’s your choice.” I said, using his words against him. “All of it is your choice. Goodnight y’all,” I said, nodding to Chloe and walking to the cab as Alcide followed closely.

When we got home Alcide, being drunk and horny decided we needed to mark our last night as unmarried people by having sex. So, we did.

What he didn’t know was it wasn’t him I saw when I closed my eyes and thought real hard, but what I didn’t know at the time, was, I wasn’t who he was imagining either.

Not by a long shot.


The pamper morning that my mother had planned in town was just what I needed. She booked us both into a spa, but what she didn’t tell me was she booked my girls in too. So there we all sat, at one in the afternoon, sipping on champagne and eating fruit and getting rubbed up and down with oils and creams and things that just gave your senses orgasms over and over with their awesomeness. Everyone was in a jovial mood, hell, even Pam. I was mostly quiet, which everyone mistook for nerves, but in all honesty I just couldn’t wait for it all to be over. The fuss, the fake tanning, the makeup, the hair, the teeth bleaching, and of course the photographer, it all reminded me too much of my competition days. Of course, because of that, my mother was having an absolute ball! In her element, bossing me, and everyone else around.

The wedding was at sunset, on the property beside the lake at our house that held an old church that had once belonged to the land owners, and now it was a site for weddings and such only. I’d loved it since I was a kid and would play there, so it seemed perfect. The reception was in a large marquee that was also on the grounds. I was told by Jason when he called that everything there was a total mad house, but that he thought I was worth it. It was sweet, and it’s not unlike my brother to be a sweet hearted man, it’s just mostly he was just a little bit dim, so his sweetness just got overshadowed by that. He was having beers with Alcide and his friends, and his friends of course, included Eric. Chloe was… well who cares were she was, she was probably icing her puss after a night of fucking Eric around their hotel room… Not that I cared or anything.

Alcide, and his friends, and Jason and my dad had gone out fishing south of the lake to get away from all the noise and apparently a bug bit my dad on the butt.

Yes, he felt it was important that I know this.

That’s Jason.

“I think you need a girdle,” my mom said as I slid on my wedding dress. I so did not need a girdle.

“Mom, it’s fine.”

“You don’t want to look fat, I told you no carbs before a show.”

“Mom?”

At that, everyone looked at her, we were in one of the guest rooms of the B&B getting ready, because of course I couldn’t get ready at home, oh, no, that would have been far too simple.

“A show?” I said, raising my brow at her in the mirror, and Pam and Claudine were giving her the stink eye.

“I meant your wedding, of course,” she said, flippant, adjusting her hair for the millionth time, “Honestly Sookie, it’s almost like you’re trying to look like one of those dumpy brides on that show…The photographer will be there for the wedding and the one from the magazine.”

Of course, how could I forget?

“So I just want you to look your best, that’s all I want. Is that so much to ask?”

Maybe that I am at my best, rather than looking it, I thought, but stayed silent.

All my girls looked fantastic and I was proud of them, and genuinely happy when we all posed together and joked about the ‘old days’ before we got our transport to the church. I saw my dad, and he looked proud as punch, even with a little sun burn on his nose.

“Having a good day so far, honey?” he asked, and I nodded.

“You?”

“Yes, very much so. We stole beer and caught a salmon, well, Eric caught the fish, he’s strong, that boy. It was fantastic.”

“That’s nice,” I said, as we both walked into the waiting room of sorts and I checked my dress again while everyone got seated out in the church.

“Yes. And might I say, Sookie, I’ve seen you in a lot of pretty frocks, but my girl, that’s the prettiest. Your Gran will be beside herself with pride today.”

“She get here okay?”

“Oh, yes! She’s been talking up a storm with Eric’s girl. She’s a sweetheart too,” he nodded, and my heart sank.

“Yeah…” I said absently, “Dad, could I have a few minutes alone?”

“You okay, Pumpkin?” he asked, touching my chin, making me look at him.

“I am. I just… I’m a little nervous, so I just want to collect myself for a few minutes.”

“No problem. Call me when you’re ready, I’ll go find your Grandmother.”

I nodded as he left and sat in the chair, looking at myself in the floor to ceiling mirror that sat in the sparsely decorated room. I kept going over my vows, forsaking all others, death parting us, love and cherish, honour and trust.

Just at that, there was a knock on the door.

“I’ll be right there, Dad.”

“It’s me,” I heard, and it wasn’t my dad.

I swirled around to find Eric standing there in his tux. His mouth was slightly agape as he looked me up and down, making me feel all but naked in the process.

“Jesus, you’re beautiful,” he blurted out, finally finding my eyes.

I smiled.

“You too.”

Because, really, he was.

I became instantly nervous, and a little queasy.

“What are you doing here?”

“Your dad asked me to go check on you. He’s worried about you. He said you seem sad. Are you sad, Sookie?”

I turned away from him, unable to look him in the eye and lie.

“Of course not. I’m … I’m really happy.”

“You don’t sound it.”

“Tell my dad I’m fine. I’ll be right out,” I said, wiping the stupid tear that fell.

“Don’t marry him,” he said, forcing me to look at him.

“What?”

“Don’t do it. Don’t marry him. It’s not what you want, you know it, I know it, and hell, I think even he knows it. Please. Don’t do it.”

“Eric -”

“No, okay I said I wasn’t going to force you to make the choice but Sookie, I don’t … I don’t want to lose our shot. And if you marry him, we’ve lost that shot. You’ll be his wife, and he’ll be your husband, and I’ll be … nothing to you. And as much as I want to believe that I’ll get over whatever the hell it is I feel right now, I don’t feel like I will if you do this.”

Now I was full on crying.

“Eric…”

“Sookie, I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know what else to say. So I figure just say what I feel. And that’s how I feel.”

I blinked my tears away, pushing them off my face before they distroyed my makeup, finally finding my voice enough to speak to him.

“I can’t… let him down, Eric. I can’t let my … I can’t. I love him.”

“Why?” he blurted out, and I swear I heard his voice crack. “Sookie, he’s an asshole, okay? I love him too, but he’s an asshole, and he doesn’t deserve what you are, what you’re gonna become. He just doesn’t. You know he doesn’t get you like I do. So I’m laying it out. My heart…”

“Don’t!” I said, putting my fingers to his lips. I didn’t want him to do this to me, I didn’t want him to do this to himself. “Please stop talking. Please, Eric.”

“I need to say it. I didn’t last time, and I regretted it since. This time I’ll say my piece. I don’t really feel like holding it forever.”

He wiped my tears. “Choose me. Love me. Leave with me.”

He kissed me then, really kissed me. As real a kiss as I’d had in months. He was all in. There was passion, there was fear, there was sheer pleasure, and I wanted to just melt in his arms. But you know what won out?

My fear.

Again.

Leaving me silent. Deathly silent.

He nodded.

“That’s it then,” he said, more to himself than to me. “That’s it then… I’m done, Sookie. I… have to be.”

“Eric, things are more complicated than just walking out of here right now.”

“Because you make them that way. When will you fucking see that?”

“What about Alcide? What about Chloe? Remember her, your actual girlfriend.”

“She doesn’t love me, and you don’t love him. They’d get over it.”

“No. It’s wrong.”

“Jesus. Sookie… Just…” He ran his hands through his hair, “I don’t know what to do with you! I’m offering you everything I have, everything I am, and you still choose him?”

I didn’t answer, coward that I was. Truth was, I wanted all he had to offer me, but I was so scared that I had NOTHING to offer him, and how was that fair to him? He was this amazing guy, in so many ways, and HE deserved better. I couldn’t give him better. So I let him walk out that door. And I walked down that aisle. And I lied.

To God. To Alcide. To my family. To myself.

And I married Alcide, as Eric stood beside him, not looking at me once, not looking at Alcide once, focusing on the floor, the guests, the flowers, anything but us. I cried. I sobbed, in fact. Tears, that the guests assumed were tears of joy, as they ‘awed’ and ‘ah’d’ at us both, but in fact were nothing but tears of sheer confusion and pain.

Life 1, Sookie -10.


A/N: So, uh… *Runs for cover* 😉


Chapter 15: Chapter 15


EPOV:

I knew she’d gone outside for air, mostly under the guise of waiting for the cabs to arrive. I knew she was panicking, I could see it in her face. So, when I followed her out there I just wanted to talk to her. I wanted to be alone with her again, after such a long time of not seeing her face or hearing her voice. I didn’t think it was so wrong of me to just want to be near her again. As we talked I saw again the inner struggle she was battling, and I hated it, I hated that really there was nothing I could do until she addressed her fight for real instead of letting it rule her life.

It hurt when she referred to us as a mistake, but I guess she was right in a way. She was my best friend’s girl. Technically, it was a mistake what I felt for her, a mistake in falling for her. What she felt for me though, I still wasn’t so sure. Alcide was still adamant that I be one of his best men, and as much as I didn’t want to do it, Chloe did tell me that it looked so odd that I was so against it, if I had nothing to hide. And she was right, I knew I couldn’t stand up there, next to him, and lie. I knew I needed to come clean before I could, in good conscience, allow that to happen. I had never wanted to have to tell him, I knew it would do nothing other than ease my mind and leave behind a trail of pain. And still I did it. Why was it when it came to Sookie, the good choices, the sensible choices that I knew to make … I just didn’t? I went for the danger, I went for the cheating, I went for the pain.

I really didn’t understand it myself, at all.

All the next day, as we hung out together, I wanted to do it. I wanted to tell him. Selfishly, I think I was hoping he’d hate me, selfishly, I wanted him to call off the wedding because I knew as it stood, Sookie never would. Sookie cared too much about what other people thought about her, and Alcide cared too, but not as much.

Was it cold? Yes. Was it heartless? Probably. But what else was I meant to do here? There was a rock and a hard place, and I couldn’t stand up there and be his best man lying to his face. I just couldn’t. And if that, in turn, stopped Sookie from marrying him, then, so be it? I wanted to convince myself I was doing a good thing, and as I sunk beers with her father, and her brother, I saw the sides to her in them that I liked. Her fun side, her sense of humour, her dorkiness. I wish she felt free enough to embrace those sides of herself more. I also saw how much they cared for her, going to all the trouble they were just to give her the perfect day.

And there I was threatening to ruin it?

I sighed as I walked up their grand staircase to change into my tux, having showered in the guest house. The wedding was in a matter of hours, and I had to make my decision. I walked in as Jason was walking out, having had more beers than the rest of us. His father had ordered him to sleep it off, so having just woken up, he was in a state of disarray.

“Eric, man, you’re the man! Big fish!” Yeah, he was still drunk.

“It was a big fish, Jason, that’s true.”

“Funny guy!” he smiled goofily, before he thundered down the stairs again. I liked him, he wasn’t complicated like his sister. In fact he was so laid back he was almost horizontal.

I walked into the large bedroom that Sookie’s mother had allocated for the guys to change into our tuxes, and I found Alcide, deep in conversation again, with Steve.

I cleared my throat, not really wanting to be rude and interrupt their chat, but I had to get dressed if I was going to make it on time. Not that I really wanted to, but there was a schedule to be kept to.

“Eric, you’ve met Steve, right?” he asked, and Steve smiled and sort of half waved across the room.

“Not officially, but we’ve seen each other around. Hey man,” I said, shaking his hand, and his smile turned into a full on beam of a grin.

“Eric it’s so great to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you, you really mean a lot to this one,” Steve said, nodding to a blushing… blushing? Alcide?

That was odd.

“Yeah he’s the best,” Alcide said, and I just shook my head.

“He makes a lot of it up, trust me. How long have you guys known each other?” I asked.

“Sookie’s been friends with my wife for years and years, so since they started dating, we just sort of figured we had a lot of things in common.”

I nodded. I guess that was normal.

“Anyways, um, good luck Al…I’ll talk to you later I guess?” Steve said to Alcide on the way out.

“Of course man! We’ll just get changed and be right down. I guess the girls will be arriving soon, huh?”

Steve nodded. I noticed how intense he was on eye contact, which for someone who was a good five inches shorter than both Alcide and I, was a little difficult.

When he made his silent exit, it left only Alcide and I to get changed.

He stood there in his boxers, having issues with the pants, that for some reason he kept putting on backwards and giving me a right good laugh.

And then it hit me, what I was there planning to do, and I felt sick all over again.

Fuck.

“Alcide, can we talk?”

“What do you call what we’ve been doing all day, dude?”

I smiled.

“No, I mean it’s something… it’s something really important.”

Was I really going to do this? I really didn’t feel like myself in those moments.

“It’s just, I can’t really, in good faith, stand up there with you today man…”

“Aw come on, Eric! You agreed! I’m scared enough as it is I need the moral support,” he whined.

“No, I know. I just… this is a thing. I did something that might change your mind about wanting me to stand up there with you… that’s all I’m saying.”

He looked at me seriously then, buttoning up his shirt.

I decided not to prolong the bullshit, and just come out with it. I’d always been really good at being straightforward in the past, why change now?

“Alcide, I slept with Sookie.”

He dropped his bowtie. And he wasn’t blinking. That wasn’t a good sign. I expected him to lash out at me, flying fists, the whole nine. It would have been a standard Alcide reaction to something like this. It was when he found out Debbie was cheating on him.

Now though, he was just silent, still.

“Did you hear me man? I said -”

“I know what you said,” he said quietly. “When?”

I told him, and he nodded.

“So that’s why she was so weird that night… makes sense.”

That’s it?

I narrowed my eyes at him, I was really confused.

“Alcide I need you to say something… hit me… anything.”

“Why would I hit you?”

Was he serious?

“Because I fucked the woman you’re gonna marry today. That seems like a valid enough reason to me.”

He nodded again.

“It wouldn’t change it though, would it? You still had her. She still had you…”

Yeah, he wasn’t acting like himself at all.

“I love her,” I said.

That’s when his eyes grew hard.

“You don’t love her, you think you love her. Fuck Eric, you don’t even really know her.”

“I know enough. And I know that I’m in love with her.”

That got a bitter laugh out of him.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me here. When exactly did you have time to fall in love with my woman? Huh?”

“I just did. I wish I didn’t, believe me. I really wish I didn’t love her… because the last thing either of us wanted to do was -”

“Hurt me, right?”

“Yes.”

“Bullshit.”

“It’s not … I never would have -”

“But you DID,” he said, raising his voice a little, but not by much.

“Yes. I did.”

“Does she love you?” he asked, putting on his jacket.

“I… honestly, I don’t know man. I don’t know. I want her to but she’s so scared of stepping outside of what she knows I don’t think she even knows.”

I saw him biting his lip, thinking of what to say next, the direction of this conversation laid in his hands.

“I know she loves me. She shows me that every time we’re together. She wants to marry me. Not you. So, I’m going to need you to deal with that, Eric.”

“I have been dealing with that, believe me.”

“And this why you didn’t want to be my best man?”

“Well it’s not exactly honourable behaviour, now is it?”

“No, it’s not. At all. But… Eric… she’s made her choice,” he said, looking me in the eye, and I hated him in that moment, because I knew in my heart that he was fucking right.

“Somewhere right now she’s putting on a pretty white dress, and she’s gonna come here, and she’s gonna marry me. She’s gonna be my wife. Do you get that?”

I nodded.

“I can forgive it.” He said.

“What?” I was stunned.

He shrugged, “I can. At the time we were technically broken up. And you took your shot. You failed. Because…she came back to me. Understand?”

His calm threatening stance and tone didn’t go unnoticed.

“I understand.”

“I won’t forgive it if you try and touch her after I slip that ring on her finger. You know what I’m saying here, Eric?”

“I think so…” I sighed. I knew exactly what he was saying. He was saying if I touched her again, I was a dead man.

“Sookie’s a good girl, Eric. She’s just a little…easily led.”

I didn’t agree with that, not fully.

“And she loves everyone, she wants to see the good in everyone. I can see why she did it, though. You represent everything she dreams about in life. But she’ll never achieve it, because it is what it is, it’s a dream. I’m her reality. Here is her reality. And deep down, she knows that. And now, so do you.”

I said nothing.

“Good. Now, put your tux on. We’re going to be late.”

“That’s it?”

He nodded.

“I told you I can forgive it. I didn’t say I’d forget it,” he said, hard eyes and fixed mouth. He was reining himself in. I knew the look, he wanted to hit me, he just wasn’t going to… at least not today.


I saw Chloe in the church, taking her seat and begining to chat up a storm with Sookie’s Grandmother. I took it as my last shot to see Sookie. But I wasn’t really sure where she was. Thankfully, her dad came to my rescue.

“Eric, glad you decided to don the tux for this evening,” he smiled, patting me on the back.

“Me too,” I said, rushed.

“Eric, could you do me a favour? I know Sookie, and I know she’s a bundle of nerves, and the last thing she wants is any of us fussing over her, but I want to know she’s okay. Could you maybe just take a quick peek and see if she’s okay?”

“Sure thing, Mr Stackhouse, where is she?”

He pointed me in the right direction, and I found her, and I spilled the contents of my heart to the woman I loved. As she stood there, in a wedding dress, getting ready to marry my best friend. Yes, I was clearly touched in the head. I asked myself, numerous times, just what in the hell I was doing? I couldn’t figure out why I kept going back. My heart couldn’t take anymore. And as I stood there in front of the beautiful weeping bride, I let her reject me one last time. I was done. I had to be, and I told her as much. I did love her, but her choices only served to break me and my stupid fragile unused heart over and over, and for what? So I could stand there and watch her marry him? Not with tears of joy in her eyes, but tears of sadness as she looked at me when she said her vows, and looked back at him to force a smile.


The reception was over the top, and had her mother’s finger prints all over it. We posed for photos with the photographer from the magazine Sookie was working for now, I pushed the swell of pride I felt for her down. She didn’t love me, she didn’t love me, I said to myself, and instead tried to focus on Chloe. Through the meal and the first few drinks, hell, we even survived the first dance with the bride and groom to some awful slushy song that frankly, from my point of view, couldn’t have ended fast enough. It was when Linger came on from the DJ booth, when it was time for best men and the bridesmaids to dance that I got Sookie, the bride, not one the bridesmaids, and somewhere I knew Alcide was eyeballing us.

Why was fate fucking with me? I thought as she slipped into my arms, too easily.

“Eric…”

“You remember when this song came on in your car that day?” I asked.

“I do… I just wanted to say -”

“That day was … I think the start for me. I saw something else in you that day. Beyond his woman, or your mother’s daughter, or Pam’s friend. I saw a little bit of you.”

I saw her eyes go glassy, and I knew I couldn’t stick out the whole song, I knew I didn’t have the nerve to stand there with her in my arms knowing that she was now and forever someone else’s.

“I think I misjudged you, Sookie. Maybe I held you up too high on a pedestal or something…” I shook my head at my own nonsensical rambling, but I had to finish. “Maybe this is where you’re meant to be. Here. Forever. As Alcide’s wife, the mother of his kids, forever under the thumb of your control freak of a mother, and a pushover of a father, maybe this is what you want. It is what you keep saying. So maybe this is what you deserve…”

“Eric -”

“I don’t deserve to be rejected, repeatedly, by some girl who doesn’t know what the fuck she wants. I don’t. I know that much. So this is it, this is me, gone. I can’t stand around and watch you waste your life like I stood around today and watched it start. I just won’t… Goodbye, Sookie.” I said, letting her go, watching her arms fall down by her sides as the song was just getting going. I may have owed her a dance, but I didn’t owe her my heartbreak. Chloe saw my face, and she knew something was wrong. Why she was still sticking with me, I had no idea, but she was the one that was there for me. She was the one that was kind and sweet, and funny to and with me. Why couldn’t I love her? Why couldn’t it be that easy? She was perfect for me in so many ways, and still I couldn’t feel that spark… well, I decided the fucking spark could kiss my ass. There was more to love than that spark. I didn’t understand Sookie’s choices, and maybe I never would, but I had to put myself first, and to do that I had to attempt, once and for all, to forget Sookie Stackhouse ever existed.

I threw myself into my work for months. Chloe and I were still trying to navigate our relationship around our jobs, which I will admit wasn’t that easy at first. We were often on different sides of the world, but we were always just a phone call or a Tweet away when we were so far from each other. And for a time, it worked. We’d almost made it a year when I got home to find her bags in the hall. I knew she wasn’t travelling for work, so it had to be one other reason. She was leaving me.

She was standing looking out over the view that we’d paid a shit load of money for, in our LA home, having moved in together after just eight months of dating. At the time I was needing a little stability in my life, and that was the step I took to achieve it. We were happy, really happy, until I guess at least one of us wasn’t.

“You’re leaving.” Ever the Captain Obvious, wasn’t I?

“I am. And I should have done this months ago, but, I wanted to give us the best shot I could. And I did, and still it’s not enough.”

“What do you mean? Chlo, I though we were happy, you were happy.”

She nodded, “I was, and I think I made you happy too -”

“You do!”

“At least for little while I did. But come on Eric, it’s not enough.”

“What do you want, I’ll try… whatever you want.”

She just shrugged, coming and wrapping her arms around me, “I just wanted one thing, I just wanted you to love me…and you can’t.”

“That’s not true, I do love you. Jesus, do you think I’d have spent all this time with you if I didn’t?”

“Okay, maybe you love me, but you’re not in love with me, not like I am with you.”

Now, she had me there.

Stupid mother-fucking spark.

“See, you can’t even deny it.”

“I have tried,” I admitted.

“That’s the point. You’re not meant to try and fall in love, you fall. There’s no try or prevention, it either happens or it doesn’t. And it’s taken me a long time to come to terms with it, but I have, and I deserve better, I deserve that feeling. The one you feel for her.”

She didn’t need to tell me who she was referring to, I think it pretty obvious that we both knew who she was referring to. Neither of us admitted it though.

“I don’t regret this year and half, Eric, I really don’t. But, as much as I love being with you. I’m tired of feeling like second best.”

“I never EVER intended to make you feel like that, you’re not second best, I swear.”

“You’re not vindictive. I know that, but it’s still how I feel, and I hate that feeling, so I have to go.”

“I don’t want to lose you, Chlo. I really do love you, you know?”

She stood then, wiping her tears before kissing me on the cheek.

“You’re not getting rid of me that easily. I need some time, but when I sort my head out, I promise a call or two, then we’ll see where it goes.”

I nodded. I hated that I couldn’t love her, because really, she was amazing.

Since the wedding fiasco, I’d done my best to forget about Louisiana and everyone I knew in it. I knew Alcide and I, that friendship was over. It’s not that I didn’t think I could call him, and talk, it was more so that I didn’t want to. Nor could I really face the idea of him boasting to me about his new wife. Just no. Pam had been in touch, of course, but each time we’d talk or email we’d never bring Sookie or Alcide up, and I was glad she didn’t. I wanted to forget them both, and the pain we’d all caused each other, and I couldn’t very well do that successfully if I kept talking about them and thinking about them, now could I?

It turns out work would, once again, be my epic distraction from life. Three days after Chloe left, and I’d sufficiently eaten my body weight in ice-cream and watched more re-runs of Friends than I could count, I got an email. An offer. A very lucrative job offer from an old friend who had taken over a magazine in Monte Carlo. Lafayette and I had met at a dinner for one of the company presidents that we both worked for in the early days. He was as liberal and as flaming as a person could be. I lived with him for a short time too, the guy made a great drag Queen, and for extra money he’d perform as Lady LALA to the receptive New York, Soho crowds. I missed him. You couldn’t be on a downer around him that’s for sure. I lost track of him for a few years, but as the email told me, he’d landed on his feet big time as the editor of a style and lifestyle themed magazine in the land of the rich in Monte Carlo. He thought of me when a full time staff photographer opened it, and it was like an email from heaven itself. I’d get myself far away from the States, and all its bad karma. A fresh start, a new me, all of those things people tell themselves when they make a giant life choice. I was nervous, giving up my freelance life to a more settled life. But maybe, just maybe it would be just what I needed.

Who knew it would be just what Sookie needed too, which I’d find out one day, almost a year into the job, when she walked through the doors as my intern.

Well, fuck.


A/N: *Steps out from behind my pillowfort* Sooo, the last chapter got …an intense reaction let’s just say lol! I can’t say I wasn’t expecting it, I guess I just wasn’t expecting so many people to hate on a confused girl. But, hopefully the end of this chapter gives you an idea of where Sookie is going, if not emotionally at least professionally! All thoughts (even mad, angry, death threats) are welcome as always! xox


Chapter 16: Chapter 16


SPOV:

They say that a girls wedding day is meant to be the happiest day of her life. Isn’t that depressing? You get one happiest day, and then what? You’re a wife. That’s what. Then the presents and the primping and the dress shopping, it all ends and you’re left with your choices. I chose wrong. I knew that the minute I said those vows, hell, I think if I’m being honest I knew that the second I left Eric in that hotel room after we’d been together. The rest of the wedding was a blur, from when I watched him walk out that door with Chloe in toe, to when I woke up the next morning, alone and hung over in my bed – with my wedding dress still on.

I found Alcide packing our things. Right, there was a honeymoon, I thought. He wasn’t speaking but then again that was nothing knew. Neither of us were morning people, and we definitely weren’t morning people after a bar full of alcohol either.

“You alright?” He asked, taking in what I was sure was my zombie looking -self. I simply nodded and made my way to the shower. I carefully removed my now crumpled dress, and spend a good twenty minutes in the shower just trying to wash the shame away.

I didn’t remember much about the night before, and maybe that was a good thing. We packed, we ate and we made our way to the airport. The honeymoon was a gift from his family, two weeks in Hawaii all expenses paid. It was hard to turn down, even for Alcide who wanted to do a week, not two, away from work. Until I persuaded him that it would be rude to refuse, and that maybe we needed some time away for both our sakes, to recharge after all the madness. He eventually agreed. And when we got to the islands we both seemed more relaxed, almost instantly. We spent the first day just lightly exploring the island, the shops and parked ourselves on the beach. Talk of the wedding was put on hold, both of us just sick and down right tired of the whole circus. Instead Alcide focused on talk of the future, and how great it was going to be. How much he loved me and needed me, and just how glad he was that he married me. I didn’t know really where it was coming from because Alcide was never much of talker, especially when it came to his feelings, but I took it for what it was, a sweet gesture, and let it go. I assured him that I wanted to make it work too, that I knew it wasn’t all going to be easy but that I wanted to try.

Everything seemed normal, calm and fine until that night, in bed. He and I were just kissing with a little light petting, it hadn’t seemed to bother either of us that it had been weeks since we’d last been sexual with each other, but that night I was in my ‘determined to be a good wife mode’, and I wanted to give things a shot. Which is how it led to me doing things that I didn’t want to do, feeling more violated than I’d ever felt before in my life, and how it had ended with me sobbing down the phone to Pam.

Foreplay was never really high on Alcide’s sexual agenda, but it was on top of mine. I needed the time to gain the confidence, to get in the mood if you’d like. He just liked to get things done. I hated that and fought against it whenever possible, trying to teach an old dog new tricks in a way. I’d taken time to pick out beautiful lingerie, I’d been waxed to the point of insanity, and I blew my hair out. Not that he noticed any of that before he yanked off the underwear without so much as a appreciative glance, and with all the rolling around my hair was soon a state. I sighed, wondering why I bothered before I took control of the situation this time, and did my thing.

I was on top, doing my best to be in the moment and not let my thoughts drift to other things… or other people like I’d taken the habit of doing. No, this time I was all in. I’d made my choice, I’d made my bed, and now it was time to fuck in it. And we were both enjoying it, at least we made it sound and look as if we were, even if we weren’t. When he asked me, “Sookie, let’s try something knew?””Knew?” I said, still doing our thing, chasing my orgasm for all I was worth.

“I uh, I think we should try a new position.”

I thought, quickly, and it wasn’t like we’d ever cracked out the Karma Sutra, but, we’d been adventurous, at least in the beginning.

He stopped, causing me to stop, causing the right build up of sensations in me leading to my much needed release, to stop.

I whined.

“I think you’d like it, I mean, it’s meant to feel good. Real good,” he said and I narrowed my eyes at him as I felt his hand slip to my butt… squeeze my butt and then go that one step further.

“OH Hey! What ya doin’ there…buddy.” I said, hopping off him, awkwardly.

“Buddy?” He asked, laughing.

“Alcide… if you’re asking what I think you’re asking… we’ve been over this before… That’s exit only for me. I just… can’t.”

He nodded.

“I mean… it’s so small, and really not designed for things to go up it, and you… darlin’ are no small thing… and I just…” I shivered, “it kinda freaks me out to be honest.”

“I understand that, I do, but you never really can knock something til you try it.”

I was incredulous, and I asked, “why have you had a dick up your ass recently?”

He laughed.

“No!”

“Then how can you possibly know for sure! Alcide, seriously we can do anything else…”

He shrugged then, kissing me on the cheek, “Okay, it’s okay… I just wanted us to … I don’t know, try something knew. That’s all. I wanted tonight to be special, I guess I just wanted to have you in a way that I know in my heart no other man has ever had you.”

That made me stop picking at the imaginary fluff on the bed spread and look into his eyes, he was serious.

“I mean, we’re married, and usually the girl gives the guy her virginity on their wedding night, and I know I’d be insane to think that that would stand nowadays, but, I guess I wanted us to share something between us. That I know no other man ever got from you.”

I felt instantly insanely guilty.

“Oh…” I said.

“But,” he sighed, “If that’s not what you want then I’d never force you to do it. Never. We can just do it regular.”

I sat there thinking as he reached for the remote to the giant tv in our room. Apparently the sexing was over, even though none of us got what we wanted. I wanted to be a good wife, I’d been a shitty girlfriend – hell I’d fucked his best friend – didn’t I in some way owe him something? Or was that my guilt talking? Either way it consumed me to the point where I just wanted to make him happy, I wanted to make ‘us’ happy. And if giving him my ass virginity made him happy, made it special… then I guess I could do that.

“I … want to try.”

He looked at me then, surprised.

“Really? Oh, Sook, it’s meant to be really intimate…. I think it could bring us closer together.”

“You’ll be up my ass, literally, Alcide there isn’t much closer two people can get.” I smiled, and he laughed.

“Few rules?” I said and he nodded.

“Condom, and tell me we have like a pound of lube…”

He walked over to his suitcase and produced both, huh, well at least he wasn’t unprepared.

“If I say stop, we stop.”

“Sookie… I don’t want to force you into this if you don’t -”

“I do.” I didn’t but I did, that made no sense, but I was too conflicted to care about sense. It was a step I wanted to take, to prove to him and to myself that I wanted this to work.

“Let’s do this.” I said, kissing him, on a mission. There was lots of prep on his end, to his credit he was attentive and gentle, but then it came to the point of no return and I was just so nervous and tense, but, I kept going, in the moment I wanted it to feel good so I forced myself to relax. It was when he switched positions, and flipped me over, I started to panic. It was that lack of eye contact thing, again. I need reassurance, but Alcide it seemed didn’t want to look me in the eye. That hurt more than his dick up my ass, if I’m honest. And that? Hurt like a bitch, prep, lube or no. In the heat of the moment, there was passion on both sides but there was an almost hostile turn took somewhere along the line. His thrust grew harder, less gentle and more… aggravated? Either way the little pleasure I was feeling with his hands working with the rest of him, that soon passed when he gripped my hips tight and started thrusting hard and fast, and painfully – on my end.

“Cide…” I said gripping the sheets. Fuck this didn’t feel good, not this way at least.

“Slow down…”

I panted.

“Shh, baby…” Was all he said kissing my neck and trying to bring me to orgasm with his fingers too. He did slow down, but there was still something not right. It was too much pressure, maybe there wasn’t enough lube, maybe … I just didn’t want to be there? I felt trapped and I was starting to panic. The harder we went, the harder I gripped onto the bed. The sensations took me over, and I came, and thankfully, and finally, he did too. I winced as he pulled out of me, and I laid there, trying to catch my breath, and try desperately not to cry. For whatever reason, perhaps from being simply overwhelmed, I didn’t know why but I felt like crying and it had nothing to do with the pain in place where Alcide had just been.

Fuck.

Alcide rolled over, happy sighing his way to the pillows, when I finally turned around he was looking at me expectantly.

“Baby. That felt so good. Didn’t it feel good?”

“I…”

“I mean the first time at anything is always awkward but I think the more we practice at it the better we can get. It’s just like anything, practice makes perfect.” He said, smiling.

He had to be fucking kidding me?

“Uh, I guess. I don’t know if it’s really my thing though it felt…okay…”

“Just okay? Jeeze, thanks.”

Slightly defensive, and I guess I couldn’t blame him there. “I didn’t mean it was bad, not… really, but I don’t know it just felt…Odd.”

“New. That’s all. It’s just something you’d never done before, but we’ll get better at it as we go. I promise.”

I felt sick.

“Yeah… Maybe.” I placated. “I’m just going to go…” I pointed to the beautiful and massive en-suite bathroom and he just nodded.

I walked, carefully, grabbing my cell before I got inside and shut and locked the door.

I slid down the door. The pain my insides was screaming at me. And when I got up, washed my hands and slashed some water on my face, I realized why I was sore.

I was bleeding.

Fucking, fuck.

I turned on the shower and let it run while I grabbed my vanity case, thankfully it panties and a pad in there too, and I stepped under the hot shower. Leaning against the cold tile I just sank to the ground again, letting my stupid unnecessary tears finally fall. I hated this feeling, I hated how I felt when I was with him, and how I’d just done something again that I didn’t want all for the sake of keeping someone else happy. I was fucked, literally and figuratively. It had to end. It had to end or it would be the end of me.

“You okay, Sookie?” He said loudly through the door, I didn’t want him to come in so I just shouted back that I was fine. I wasn’t fine though, and after I got out of the shower, dried and changed into my pyjamas, I waited until he was snoring before I dialled Pam.

“Well, well, well, sun tanned yet?” She answered and I smiled, I walked out onto our balcony, shutting the soundproof doors as I did so. Looking out onto the water, the lapping waves and the moonlight. It was paradise, and yet, I felt like I was in hell.

“Pam can I ask you something?””Sure.””Have you ever done something, something that’s made you feel wrong inside, just so another person could be happy?””Sookie I wore taffeta dresses and pranced about on a stage for six years, yeah, and so did you. We all have,” she laughed.

I nodded, smiling.

“I made a mistake, Pam.”

“With what?” I sobbed.

“Aw Jesus, Sookie, tell me what’s wrong… Don’t make me worry about you here.”

She hated when I cried, she hated when anyone cried.

“I just wanted to be perfect. For all of them. I just wanted to do the right thing.”

“Marrying douche?” She asked, and I sobbed again, “Jesus, Sookie, I gave you an out, Eric gave you an out… There were other options here.”

“I know, but I didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t think I was strong enough to start with a blank page, Pam.”

“And you do now?”

I sniffled, “I want to be. I don’t… I don’t love him. Not like I’m meant to. I’m fond of him and I like him… not so much right now.” I cringed when I sat down, “but, I do. Pam I don’t know where to start.”

I heard her exhale over the phone, “Do you want to leave him?”

“I… want things to be different. I want to do what I want to do, for once.”

“And what’s that?”

“Go back to school, maybe, even for a little while. Train with more photographers…. Learn more. Do more. I want to sell the B&B.”

That was the biggest thing for me. It was a ‘gift’ from my mother, but in reality it was just another anchor to Louisiana.

“Okay, good. One thing at a time I guess. Now tell me why you’re crying?”

I took a deep breath and I told her. And when I’d finished she was fuming, that that asshole had infiltrated my asshole. She made me laugh, but at the same time it stung.

“Next time, if you don’t want him up there. Say no. Really Sookie, it’s not that hard to tell him to go fuck himself, you know?”

“I know. I know, I just … with everything I did… I just wanted to make it good between us. And if that’s what he -”

“Listen to yourself woman. You didn’t want it that way, that’s your Goddamn choice, it’s all your choice.”

There was those words again. Choice.

My choice. Why in the hell was I choosing to do this? Repeatedly.

I knew she was right, I knew it.

“I… want to take this thing one step at a time, Pam. I’m so unsure here, but I think… baby steps.”

She sighed.

“I can’t tell you what to do, Sook, because honestly even if I did I know you wouldn’t listen to me. You haven’t before, and I don’t expect you to do it now. But, as your friend I think these …steps… they’re necessary. And as your friend… I’ll be here for you.”

“I love you, Pam, you know that right?”

“Yeah, yeah…” She dismissed.

“No, seriously. I love you. Straight you, lesbian you, bisexual you, whatever you do that makes you happy, I’ll love.”

She was silent for a second, and then she spoke.

“Lesbian.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Stan and I… he knew, he tried to understand it, but … well he’s a great guy, he’s just…”

“A guy?”

She giggled but then repressed it.

“Yeah, sad huh, because he’s a great shopping partner when he gets into it.”

She sighed again, “no, it’s taken me a long time to come to terms with who I am, and what I like. And I understand that it’s taking you time too, and it’s not the same as realizing your sexuality, but it’s life all the same. So… I trust you’ll get where you’re meant to me. Just like I will, eventually.”

Eventually.

She was right there. It would be eventually. Eventually we finished up our honeymoon, I’d been unable to really look at him for the entire next day after that night. But he seemed unaware of it, or if he was aware he wasn’t letting it show. Instead he went walking and I read my book by the beach, we did tourist things and things that on the outside were romantic and full of love, but on the inside I just wanted it to be over. Neither of us broached the subject of sex again, not in thirteen whole days did either of us even attempt to get the other one in the mood. I told him of my bleeding and he seemed shocked and sorry if he had in any way hurt me. I assured him it would okay but for the time being it was off the cards and he seemed to get that. Or at least I thought he had.

On our last night there we’d had quite a bit to drink at dinner, hell, we’d been drunk every night, sleeping late every day and then breaking off to do our thing before we’d meet up for dinner or sightseeing – every day that we were there. So, the last night wasn’t so different. What was different though was he was getting handsy and I still didn’t want him to touch me.

“Can we just not… I’m just not in the mood, Alcide, I’m sorry.” I said, shunning him as I went into the bathroom. I was tipsy and so was he, he just sort of slid into the couch and switched on the TV until I came out again he was basically silent.

“So you don’t want to touch me, is that it?” he said an edge to his voice, one that I’d never heard before and one that I didn’t like the sound now, either.

“Just… not now okay. I’m tired, we’ve got a long flight tomorrow, I just want to relax.”

“And making love with your husband… that’s not relaxing?”

“Ugh, Alcide can we just not do this whole passive aggressive bullshit right now? I’m tired, I have to pack and I have to sleep. Do whatever you want out here.” I said giving up and stomping back into the bedroom. I really wasn’t in the mood for his bullshit.

He slept out on the couch that night, and every night since we’d been home he’d taken the spare bedroom too. Neither of us addressed, it just was what it was. We’d do dinner with the parents twice a week, and we’d meet with friends, we’d go to the movies, but that’s where it stopped. When we got home, there was no cuddling, no kissing and certainly no sex. I found myself working later each night just in the hopes that he’d be asleep by the time I got home. Some nights he didn’t come home at all, and neither did I. Weeks past, and with the B&B, the magazine, and enrolling in a photo journalism Grad course, I was as busy as ever and my marriage I’m sorry to admit, took the last priority. Alcide was building a new mall outside of Shreveport, so he was gone and busy just as I was, and the marriage became his last priority too, and neither of us seemed to really care.

I’d put feelers out for the B&B. I was still set on selling it but still unsure if I really wanted to attempt to give up my secure and rather lucrative steady income for a pipe dream. It was a tense time all around, and I knew there was but one person who could possibly shed at least a little bit of light on it for me.

My Gran.

I drove up to the farmhouse, and I discovered her weeding in her garden, covered in dirt with a big smile on her face. I made us some lemonade and we parked ourselves on the porch swing, just catching up at first.

“How is your…friend?”

“My friend? Which one, Gran?”

“Eric. The nice tall boy.”

Oh. Right, that one.

“Oh um, well, I don’t actually know, at least not recently…”

“Lost touch?”

“Something like that.”

“Mmm. His girl, the English one, she was very pretty, really chatty too. I liked her.”

“Yeah…” I agreed, half heartedly.

“You should call him, Sookie. It’s wrong to be rude and he’s a good man. Good friends are hard to come by.”

She was right but there was also so much water under the bridge.

“Gran… after all that’s happened I can’t just keep that friendship going. Not now.”

Oops.

“What’s that now?” she asked, staring at me, “did you two have a falling out?”

“Not exactly…” I said, trying to bypass the subject, “Gran the vegetable patch looks great for this time of year it seems to -”

“Don’t you try and pull the wool over my eyes, Sookie Stackhouse. Would your resistance to talk to Eric have anything to do with the fact that you two have kissed?”

I swear I damn near dropped my glass of lemonade.

“Excuse -”

“That you two, kissed up a storm in my garage.”

My eyes went wide.

“You saw that!”

“Yes I saw that. And I saw how hurt he looked when he walked out and just how silent y’all were when you left. That’s what I saw.”

“Gran! Why didn’t you say anything?”

“Well, because you went off and married Alcide. That’s why. And then he shows up with the nice girl, and I figured it was just a fling. But, he seemed too hurt for it to be a fling.”

I wonder what she knew of a ‘fling’, the woman was married to one man for like a thousand years. Fling indeed.

“I… Gran you know I don’t really think it’s something we should -”

“Sookie I have been on this earth eighty one years, you think I don’t know how things are? I know things are complicated. And I know you, my girl, and I know you’re lost right now.”

“I’m not you don’t have to worry about -“”But, I do. My Sookie.”

“I did him wrong, that’s what I did.”

“Not that I want details but… was it more than just a kiss?”

I nodded, and she sat back in her chair, “I see. And you were with Alcide at this time?”

I gulped. I wasn’t going to lie to my Gran.

“Not…technically. When it went… beyond the kiss, we were apart, but then… I got scared and I … broke it off with Eric, before it ever really got a chance to start, really and I … well, I married Alcide.”

“I see… Things make a little more sense now. His face during your vows, heaven help me I thought he was over come with the emotion of the day, but now it’s obvious the boy was just simply broken hearted.”

“Gran…” I whined, she really wasn’t helping.

“Did you… feel for him in any way? Or was it indeed just a fling on your end before you settled down. I mean he’s an attractive man, I can see why you’d want one last -”

“GRAN!”

“Well! What? She laughed, “Sookie, I’m not so old that I don’t remember what it was like to be young and in lust.”

Ew, gross, so many bad visuals right then.

“Please can we not?”

“Did you love him?”

“I did… do… I don’t know.”

“So you love Eric but you married Alcide.”

“I loved Alcide too though.”

“Oh… Loved?”

I’d missed that. Four months into my marriage and already I was classing the love as being past tense? I was so screwed.

I decided to sit back down and tell my Gran everything. From start to finish. Everything. And when I was done, I felt a thousand times lighter.

“Oh my Sookie, what a mess you’ve made.”

“Tell me about it.”

“I won’t you already know.” She smiled.

“Gran I need to make some changes, for me. And I just don’t know how I’m going to do it without upsetting everyone.”

“Well, that’s easy darlin’ you do it, and you upset them, and then, eventually, they’ll get over it and soon it’ll be just a memory.”

“You make it sound so easy.”

“It can be, if you want it to be.”

I nodded.

“I’m curious though, how did you know Eric and I kissed that day?”

She smiled.

“Two things. One, I was folding some towels in my room and well it overlooks the garage window, and you both were right there, as plain as day, it also helped that I had my glasses on… and two… when he came out, looking like a giant gangly kicked puppy… your lipstick was smeared all over his face.”

I laughed. And then I stopped myself. But then I laughed again.

“Gran, promise me you won’t tell anyone -”

“Scouts honour. Not that I was scout, but your daddy was, and I sewed all the damn badges, so I may as well have been one…” She laughed and we spent the rest of the day together, just watching old movies and catching up. I felt better than I had in years. And I’d made my decision.

I was leaving Alcide. I was putting the B&B on the market officially, and I was applying for a semester internship wherever I could get it.

Changes were going to be made and I was going to make them now. I’d wasted enough of my own time on my own self being my own brick wall.

I exhaled and inhaled and swallowed my fear. It wouldn’t take me over now this time.


A/N: Sooooooooo, still with me? This is part one of two when it comes to SPOV. I’m writing part two as we speak so hopefully it’ll be up soon! Lots of changes coming Sookie’s way! Reviews as always thrill me because I just love, love, love hearing what you guys think! Good and bad! 😀 xox


Chapter 17: Chapter 17


SPOV:

I picked my purse up and ran into the store. Six large boxes would do the job of holding all my crap until I decided what I was going to do long term. I had put in a request for a semester elsewhere, and I was waiting to here back on that, as well as an internship placement. I was full of hope on that matter since my professors loved my ‘vision’ enough to have faith that another magazine would too. Teaming that with my work for the Murray and Country Life, it helped immensely in showing that I could do what I said I could do. My portfolio was building slowly, but it was filled with photos that I loved and ones that had a story behind them, that’s what mattered. I’d just about finished filling the car with the flat boxes from Walmart when I spotted her, she was two cars over, and I saw that she spotted me too.

“Debbie?” I said, and she almost rushed to get into her car. That was… odd.

Debbie? Hi.” I said and she stopped in her tracks, looked at me awkwardly and smiled.

“Hi… Sookie. How’re you?” She said, sweetly, if not a little bit nervous.

“Oh, I’m just fine, how’re you?”

“Good… good.”

“Debbie is there a reason you were avoidin’ me just now? I mean, I’ve seen you around town an all, and I know you know who I am, just as I know who you are. I just don’t know why you were avoidin’ me. Did I do something to you – ”

“Oh! No! Not at all. It’s not that. I just know that you’re with Alcide and I know that he and his family… well they don’t have a real high opinion of me, and I figured you’d share their thoughts on what a tramp I am.”

My mouth just about fell open.

“Debbie please don’t ever think that. Oh, Lord I would never think that. I mean whatever happened between you two, is between you two…”

“But you’re his wife.”

She said, shocked.

“I know, but that doesn’t mean I think he’s perfect just as I’m sure he knows I’m not perfect.”

She nodded, “he didn’t like it so much that I wasn’t what I said I was.”

“And what was that?”

“In love with him, when I wasn’t. I mean, I was for a time but then things …changed,” she sighed, “look at me, rambling on, you don’t want to hear about any of this ancient history.”

She smiled poking fun at herself for being so talkative.

“Actually Debbie, if you wouldn’t mind, I kinda would… like to hear about it.”

“Why?”

“Well, he never talks about his past relationships, and if I’m honest, I’m curious. Do you wanna get a coffee or something?” I asked, hopeful to maybe get some kind of insight to what he was like before he and I met. Because I wasn’t lying when I said he never talked about his past girlfriends. He never did. Once when we first started dating and we both gave the history, but after that it’s like they never existed. Which I found odd, even if a relationship ends badly, it still shapes who you’ve become because of the time you spent in it, and with that person. It bugged me.

Debbie and went into this little café, and ordered some sandwiches and some tea, she said she was too jittery for coffee, and I had to agree with her there. What we were doing was odd.

“What do you want to know, Sookie?”

I thought for a second, and then I answered her, “what was he like with you?”

“At first, he was perfect. Kind, sweet, thoughtful, all the things you want in a guy, but then as the honeymoon period began to wear off, things sort of changed. He started working all hours, we never saw each other hardly, because when I was off work he wasn’t home and when I was at work he was home. So, we sort of muddled though, as best we could I suppose, til one day we just stopped communicating. So, I did my best to get us back to where we were. And it worked, for a little while at least. And then there was the sex…”

She whispered, but shook her head to dismiss it.

“What about the… you know what.” I said, mindful that I was in a packed café.

“You really want to hear about this?”

“I… kinda do. Did things change?”

She nodded, “big time.”

“In what way?”

“Well, we went from a …healthy appetite you know? To… nothing. And when I brought it up, he said he wanted to try something different. That he was just bored, and I … well … I agreed.”

My heart dropped. Oh. So it was his thing.

“Did he … insist on it being a certain way?” I worded carefully, both of us still aware of where we were.

“Yeah and I didn’t like it, not one bit. He was too… rough. I’m not built that way.”

She smiled, she was small like me, shorter though, so I can see what she meant.

“And I just couldn’t. Every time we got together like that he’d want it that way, and it wasn’t fun for me. So I started to make excuses. And when I did, it’s like he cut off completely. And that’s when I turned to Sam.”

I nodded.

“I’m not proud of it, you know? Of cheating on him, I really am not proud of it. But, he was emotionally cut off and then physically… I’m a woman and I have… needs,” she shrugged, “and I knew he didn’t love me. As much as he said he did, he didn’t. Not if he was willing to put me through that just because I didn’t like s. e. x a certain way, you know?”

I nodded again, I totally understood that.

“But, I guess he changed. I mean he found a girl as good as you, maybe he got his wake up call?”

I sipped my coffee, if only she knew he was still the same old Alcide. And it seemed I was blind to his emotional manipulation as she was. I was shocked that it was a game to him. The freeze out. Just to get his way. Was he five?

I thanked her for talking and we swapped numbers. I liked Debbie, and while I had my reservations based on what Alcide’s mother and sister had told me about ‘crazy’ Debbie Pelt, I knew then that they were wrong, or maybe they were just as misinformed as I had been, by Alcide. The light she shed on my relationship was second to none. I wasn’t crazy. I was just walkover.

No more.

With even more gusto, I got into my car and went home where I knew he wouldn’t be. I looked around our house, and there was nothing in me that was sad. It was just one sign, after another that I didn’t belong there. I popped the boxes and started just chucking my crap into them. I could organize when I got to Gran’s. With the few things I had downstairs that I wanted to keep taken care of, I started upstairs. I yanked all my clothes, including hangers and just laid them in the boxes, before I grabbed my makeup and threw that and my photo albums and frames into my biggest suitcase. I knew I’d packed some older photos in a box that I kept under the bed, I never really looked for them because I didn’t have space to hang them or frame them, but I’d still be wanting to take them with me. The big bed had a lot of space underneath it, and one of the smaller boxes got pushed up top so I had to down on my hands and knees to find it. In doing so I saw more dust that I cared to admit I’d let gather there, but, I also saw another box, a brown one, sealed.

That was new.

I yanked it out as well as my own and mine off, but noticed that the brown sealed box had no dust.

Also odd.

I slipped open the brown tape and opened the box. Nothing in the world could have prepared me for what I saw.

There were magazines, lots of them, and that wouldn’t be weird except the content of them is what was shocking to me. I didn’t just find my husbands porn collection, I found my husbands gay porn collection.

Under our bed.

My mouth went agape, I struggled to fully understand what I was seeing and why I was seeing it. And then it sunk it, then it made sense. Then I went through a range of emotions so quickly that I think I ended up with emotional whiplash. Anger, sadness, disappointment, anger again, mostly anger if I’m honest. There I was fretting and letting myself be weighted down by guilt for sleeping with Eric when all along he was lying to me about the fundamental truths of our relationship. Namely that he liked men. Really, really liked them if his porn collection was anything to go by.

Everything made sense to me right then. His distance, his sexual frustrations, his preference for anal, his hatred for Pam and her epic gaydar skills. And the fact that he had to ‘concentrate’ during sex with me. It had nothing to do with performance anxiety, it had to do with the fact that he was fucking a woman and wanted to be fucking a man.

I felt sick.

Had he been with men? In our bed? In our home? Had he been safe with them? God, Jesus and the donkey, I prayed that if he had, he had been safe. If not? What did that mean for me? We’d had unprotected sex a lot before we stopped altogether… So many thoughts raced through my head.

Could I fault him for cheating once? No. I had done the same, but then again I’d never lied about my preference in sexual partners like he had. This made it a whole other ball game. Why marry me if he likes men? Why be such a fucking homophobe if he’s secretly whacking off to men… why?

I swallowed my hurt and fixed up the box the way he’d left it. It was six thirty by the time I had most of my stuff loaded into the jeep. I heard his truck pull up just as I was taking my key off my key ring. The look of shock on his face could have mirrored mine when I made my little discovery earlier.

“What the fuck is going on, Sookie?”

“What does it look like? I’m leaving.”

“Why? Where are you going? What… why?”

I took a deep breath, and began.

“Because I don’t love you, Alcide, I don’t and I’m in love with you like I thought I was. And this… clusterfuck has to stop somewhere and I have to be the one to stop it. We’re not happy, I’m not happy and you’re certainly not happy. We made a mistake -”

“This is such bullshit, is this because of the sex? Jesus Sookie it was just sex!”

“Yeah, it was, but it meant something else, didn’t it?”

I wouldn’t say what I found, at least not here.

“What do you mean?”

“You needed… something else. And I can’t give that to you. I can’t. And you can’t give me what I need.”

He was pissed as he threw down his tool belt and shucked off his jacket and he looked at me hard.

“But I bet Eric right?”

“Excuse me?”

“I bet ERIC can give you what you need though, am I right?”

“Alcide what the fuck are you -”

“I’m talkin’ about you, and I’m talkin’ about him and I’m talkin‘ about you and him fucking each other the night before you agreed to marry me, that’s what the fuck am talkin’ about.”

I stood there, dumbfounded. How did he find out?

“How did -”

“It doesn’t matter how I just know.”

“HOW do you know.” I said slamming my keys down on the table.

“He told me, okay? You happy now? Prince Perfect told me on my fuckin’ wedding day that my WIFE fucked him and that he was in love with her. Isn’t that a kick in the pants?”

My heart stopped. No, he wouldn’t do that… he wouldn’t he swore to me that he wouldn’t say anything to hurt Alcide I … didn’t understand right then.

“You denying it?” He asked, his eyes still full of rage.

“No.” I said straight making him laugh, bitterly and nod to himself.

“Right. So, he wasn’t real clear but just how long were you fucking him behind my back?”

“I wasn’t. we weren’t. it was just that one time, and technically you and I were done, so there was no cheating. Not really.”

“And the fact that you accepted my ring the NEXT night… what of that huh? That was a fuckin’ ballsy move, even for you.”

“I did it because I thought it was what was right. What was expected of me. I made a mistake…”

“Yeah fucking Eric was huge mistake I can tell you that much -”

“No.” I stated, walking over to him, and leaving my three keys on the table beside him.

“Marrying you, was the mistake. I don’t regret what I did with Eric. Not one second.”

If his face could kill, I’d have been a dead woman, but he didn’t speak as I walked past him, and he didn’t move as I left the house. When I got into the car and my car radio decided that it too wanted to kick me when I was down by playing Linger, by the Cranberries, stupid fucking 90s hour… I let my sobs go. I’d held them in for long enough and I let myself cry the whole drive to my Gran’s house. For twenty full minutes I sobbed and I cried. When I pulled up to the drive way though I forced myself to stop.

No more tears. What was done was done and it was time to move on. And I would, eventually.


I’d been at Grans for a week when Hadley had called me and said she needed her girls for lunch and that it was an emergency. I’d been avoiding my circle of friends and their so-called perfect lives since Alcide and I had started having trouble, so it had been a long while since I’d been to one of our ‘girlie’ lunches. I guess I just wasn’t in the mood to lie about my life like knew all of them were. Living under the pretence that their lives were perfect, when in reality it was all just as shit as mine. But still, I dressed myself up and made my way into the city, and met the girls at one of our favourite cafés and we caught up and air kissed and bullshitted each other as if it was an every day thing. Pam of course rolled her eyes and made me laugh as they did so, but still, we did our bit. And Hadley made her announcement. She was pregnant, and shocked. After what a couple of us knew that her mom put her though when she was a kid, she, Pam and I assumed that kids weren’t to be for her from then on out. But, as it turns out we were all wrong and she was four weeks gone. Which meant only one thing. She was getting married, it was a quickie wedding that her parents were footing the bill for. Everything was last minute, because heaven forefend that anyone suspect that she’s knocked up. It was shameful to even consider it. So, we were told her mother was ignoring the baby news until after she was down that aisle, which was in a week.

Yes a week. After that everyone had their mission. They’d managed to throw enough money at the church to double book her wedding for the morning time, and the hotel and guest list was taken care of just as quick with my mother’s connections, as well as my own. It would be ‘intimate’, and nothing like my wedding. Thankfully it wasn’t going to be a circus. Not because my Aunt didn’t want it, but they just simply didn’t have the time. We went to a boutique in town and each picked different dresses in the same colour. Black. Hadley really was the rebel in the family, and not only was she doing a shot gun wedding, but she was getting her little grungy hearted way and dressing us in black. She was thrilled that her mother didn’t have enough time to fuck with her plans. And I was thrilled for her, at least one of us was marrying the right way.

The day of the wedding was as hectic as the week leading up to it. And of course it was at the reception that my mother decides I need a life talk.

“Why isn’t Alcide here, I mean really I knew he hated these things but Sookie you could have made him come, it looks wrong you being here without your husband.”

She picked the wrong day to mess with me as I’d had stress up to my eyeballs, and almost a full bottle of champane by the time she got around to her little whispered lecture.

“Oh mother, can you just for once, mind your own Goddamn business.”

She looked shocked and my dad whipped his head in my direction, in fact If I recall correctly, the entire table looked my way. Instead of caring though I just rolled my eyes. That’s when Hadley tinkled her glass asking me to give a speech, did I mention she was doing all in her power to embarrass her mother? And it seems mine? Well, she was. I stood up – a little shaky might I add, and I took the mic. I gave thanks for people showing up at such short notice and make a joke that we all knew WHY it was such short notice even if no one was saying anything… and that was just the start of the word vomit.

“And to the bride, my beautiful glowing cousin, may she be as happy a bride as I was…. Oh wait. I wasn’t. HA! So maybe scratch that last part, cousin.” I smiled, “And to our bridal party, Hadley bridesmaids. My girls. My girls who can’t seem to tell the truth about anything! That’s right y’all, all of us? We’re a bunch of hypocrites, that’s what we are. Raised to be the perfect ladies… never make a scene. Well here’s a scene for you! All of them looked their noses down at me this week because it became clear that my husband and I were separated.”

I heard my mother gasp at the end of the table and I knew without looking her daggers were on me, “Yep that’s right. That was a mistake and a clusterfuck just waiting to happen. But, at least I have the balls to admit it. Tara Thornton ladies and gents, she doesn’t have balls. Her husband hit her once so hard she lost a tooth, but no, no, no he’s just perfect. Just perfect. Claudine Crane! Oh Claudine, you never did tell you mom about why you dropped out of college the first time, did you honey? She was caught fucking two of her professors . AT the SAME time. That’s right… And Sarah, she thinks her husband is having an affair but little does she know that I suspect she’ll be in for an even bigger shock with THAT shit hit’s the fan… ”

By this stage just about everyone was either mortified or angry, and I didn’t give one fuck and kept going. “My marriage was a sham, I’m in love with another man! He’s not even here and I still love him, Pam … Pam?”

She nodded, and she winked at me, “My Pam she likes girls and look at that she just gave me the nod, so she wanted me to say that out loud. SHE LIKES GIRLS. A LOT. And she’ll make a fucking fierce lesbian too! And Hadley… my baby cousin.” who was grinning like an idiot in her seat, and I swear I heard her ‘woo who’ at one point. “I love her, and I care what happens to her so much, so new husband guy… who’s name I can’t remember right now? You better treat her right, her and that kid.”

That’s when I heard my Aunt gasp and Hadley burst out laughing, “or I will personally kick your ass. Thanks everyone for coming, free bar!” I said passing the mike to Pam who just tried so hard to wipe the smile off her face as I sat down for a second.

“The comedy… styling’s of Miss Sookie Stackhouse everybody. Except every word she said was true, and apparently she’s now allergic to bullshit.” She beamed as she spoke, and her speech was a lot more subdued than mine that’s for sure. After that I remember being cornered by my mother in the ladies room.

“Sookie you have embarrassed me, you have shamed our family and the family of all your friends how could you be so heartless.”

“Oh, mother, really? You really think that after that I give a fuck what you think?”

“Sookie! What HAS come over you?”

I cried then, but it didn’t stop me from giving her a large, large piece of my mind.

“I’ll tell you what has come ‘over’ me mother. I’ve had enough, I didn’t love Alcide and you pushed me into marrying him so it would make YOU look good. I hated the pageants as a kid, but you pushed me into that to make you look good, to make you look like a good attentive mother, when in reality you’re a bitch, you’re a bitch who forced your fourteen year old daughter to have a nose job, who at nine you made me bleach my damn teeth, you fake tanned my body when I was FOUR. All so you could be a ‘mom’, it’s bullshit, all of it. You gave me the business to run so I could be independent, also bullshit. I was never allowed to make changes, or choices or do anything I wanted even though it was me running the damn place, because it would have made YOU look bad. All of it, for you. And you know what? It was all a fucking huge mistake, and tonight ended those mistakes.”

“You’re a drunken fool…” She said with disgust.

“Damn right I am, and I feel fantastic. Just like I’m sure you do when you drink that bottle of gin every night before bed, and just like I’m sure you do when you cheated on my daddy with Mr Monroe.”

Her mouth fell open.

“Oh yeah I know about that. Jason told me he saw you, and guess what else? Dad knows too. But see here’s the kicker. I’m just like you, even though I tried so hard not to be. I cheated on my boyfriend – not my husband, my boyfriend who I tried to love. Just like you’ve been trying to love my daddy for years but you don’t. Not like he loves you. And I swore I wasn’t going to end up like you. Bitter and unhappy. So yes mamma, I am a drunken fool, but I’m a drunken fool who last night bartered a deal to sell the B&B for thirty five thousand more than it’s worth. I’m the drunken fool who left her husband because she isn’t gonna end up like you in the long run. I’m the drunken fool who is done with your bullshit. So you can sit there and shame face me all you want mamma, because I’m done.”

I said as bumped her out of my way and headed for the door.


I was in exile after that, my Gran hadn’t exactly approved of my outburst, but she was proud of me for standing up to my mother though, and for that I was allowed her chocolate chip pancakes. For weeks my only visitor was Pam, and when I managed to start the sale on the B&B we went out to celebrate. A double celebration when my student advisor told me of a internship I’d been accepted to. In New York fucking City. Pam was thrilled and I was terrified. But I knew I had to go, as my Gran said I’d burned almost all my bridges at that wedding, but that maybe it was what I needed. I tended to agree with her there. The day I was leaving, two weeks after the wedding fiasco, Alcide pulled up, marched into the house as Gran was leaving for church and I was packing the last of my things.

“We need to talk…” He said, and I knew he was right. I couldn’t leave with things so up in the air as they were. We did have to talk. It didn’t make doing it any easier though.

“Yes. We do.” I made us coffee and we sat at the kitchen table, silent at first before he began.

“I want you to come home. I miss you Sookie. I miss us. I want to make our marriage work.”

I sighed.

“No, you don’t. You think you do, but you don’t. It wasn’t working!”

“I wasn’t trying, I admit that. I’ll try harder…”

I shook my head, no.

“I don’t want you to. I don’t want to.”

“Why not?”

“I want more out of my life, Alcide, and if you were honest you’d realize you want it too.”

“Like what?”

I knew we were alone, so I figured it was a good time as any to bring it up. I took a deep breath.

“I found the magazines Alcide. When I was packing to leave, I found them. So how can you sit there and lie to me like that? I’m not what you want. I don’t have what you need.”

“Those weren’t mine.” He lied.

“Oh please, Alcide, I didn’t fall out of the sky yesterday. I get it. You’re gay.”

“I am not fuckin’ gay! I’m not!”

“No? So you just keep gay porn under our bed for what? To take up space? Alcide I’ve thought a lot of it since I found that box. And I just need to know one thing… if you’ve cheated on me with anyone else… where you safe about it?”

“I’m not GAY.”

“I don’t CARE about your denial right now. I want to know!”

He went silent, before he answered me quietly.

“I was safe. Where you? With Eric?”

I nodded.

“I guess we were both real good at lying to ourselves, huh?” I asked.

“I do love you, Sookie, I do want us to work.”

“How can it? Alcide, you’re gay. Or at the very least Bi leaning towards Dick.”

He just shook his head.

“It’s okay you know?”

“How can it be okay? Sookie it’s fucking wrong. What I feel… the thoughts that I have it’s all fucking wrong.”

“It’s not.”

“The bible says it is.”

“Have you read the bible recently? The bible says a lot of shit that no one pays attention too, but this? This they harp on about. Alcide, you can’t help who you want, you can’t help who you’re attracted to. And honey, fucking every woman up the ass for the rest of your life isn’t going to take away from the fact that it’s a man you want to be with….It’s just not. And over compensating for it isn’t going to make you happy either.”

He sat there, so clearly knee deep in denial that I had no idea what to even say to him.

“I want a divorce. Or an annulment, whatever works out easiest. I don’t want anything from you, I just want this done. As soon as possible too,” I said, a tad heartless maybe, but it was what it was. And we were in the spirit of being honest, I figured why not just go for it.

“What am I meant to tell my parents?”

That you like dick and they should deal with it? I knew, he never would though.

“You could always do it the way I did it. Get drunk, get a microphone… go nuts,” I laughed and he smiled.

“I’m not as brave as you.”

“I’m not brave at all, Alcide, I’m just tired and I need something new. Somewhere knew.” I nodded to by bags in the hallway.

“You’re leavin’?”

“Yep, tonight. I’m going to New York, to work. I mean the pay is shit, so I have the deposit of the B&B to back me up until the sale comes in, but I’ll make it work.”

“Do you love him?” He asked, and I knew who he meant instantly. I mean, who else would there be.

“Do you really want to talk about this?”

He nodded, “I knew that day when he told me, I knew to look at him that he was serious. And this is Eric, he doesn’t fall in love at the drop of a hat… but I was so angry. He’d touched you. He’d been with you… you’d both lied to me…”

“Even though you were lying to me too, about something much bigger…” I interjected.

“I was still angry. The idea of him taking you away from me. I couldn’t stand it. I never thought things would work out with Steve and me, it was just a stupid… fling.”

Steve. I fucking knew it!

“I see…”

“I don’t love him, hell, I hardly even like him. But I was confused Sookie, I wasn’t real sure what I wanted or what I was fellin’… I’m still not sure. I… hate this.”

He put his head in his hand, in frustration.

“Eric isn’t taking me away from you Alcide, I’m taking me away. I’m doing this for me. Not for him, not for you, not for my mom… no one else matters right now. And for once, I have to be selfish about MY life. Just like you should be about yours. We are living our lives for THEM, and sweetheart that’s no way to live at all.”

“So what are you saying? That I just come out with it and break their hearts? Get pushed out of my family and exiled and ignored? No. Sookie I couldn’t bare that.”

“Who’s to say that’s how they’d react?”

“My cousin John, he came out four years ago. Sookie, no one has spoken to him since. I know it’s how they’d be with me too. I can’t.”

I wasn’t angry at him for lying to me, mainly because he was a bit busy lying to himself first. I pitied him, I felt sorry for him because I knew he’d never upset his family just like I never wanted to upset mine. Which meant that he would live his life in misery. That sucked.

It soon came to the point where we had nothing left to say to each other, what was done was done and we were most definitely done. So I hugged him, I wished him well, and I watched him walk to his truck, shocked in just how little sadness I felt at the end of this rather clustered era.

I had dinner with my Gran, Pam, and her new ‘friend’ Selah. They promised to come and spend Christmas with me in New York, and take advantage of the shopping. Pam even insisted they drag Gran along too. She was more than happy with that idea. She said another year of my mother’s dry turkey and she’d be fit to cry.

I laughed, I laughed a lot that night, as I got myself ready for take off, as it were. This was it. I was leaving. And I was doing it for no one but me. It felt fantastic.

And so I went, I took a few things and a lot of clothes and shoes, and I went to the big city. Terrified and unsure at first, it took me a little while to find my bearings. But soon, there I was interning at one of the biggest magazine publishing houses in the world, associating with world famous photographers and artists. And I was assisting them, they were asking me for my opinions. It was a culture shock, it was a life shock, and I loved every damn minute of it. Being sent out every day to a different shoot it opened me up to so many new friends, so many new experiences. I mean sure, I was the lowly assistant, and I made more cups of tea and coffee than I could count. But when they turned to me and asked me for my in put and my thoughts and ideas, it made it all worth it. That, and the fact that I’d been asked back by two of my favourite photographers more than once was a huge ego boost. I guess my people pleasing skills matched up to my photography skills, or at the very least they were getting there.

I’d been in New York almost a year, I’d done internships for two different companies and found a part time job with a little known Soho based magazine. From there I flew back and forth to San Francisco for work for them, and odds and ends for photographers that would hire me to scope out a premises or a setting for them, and then report back. It was fun, and it was creative, and the pay kept me in rent and food for as long as I needed it. Sure it didn’t keep me in designer wear and diamonds, but I had to remember why I was doing it. And every time it go hard, or I was feeling down or sorry for myself I’d always remember how I felt back in Louisiana, stuck and afraid, and I knew I’d done the right thing.

My friend still weren’t talking to me, all but Pam and Hadley who would come up to visit whenever they could, I was thankful for that. That and my nightly phone call with my Gran who kept be abreast on the goings on back home. My father wasn’t allowed to talk to me, since my mother wasn’t talking to me, for bringing the ‘shame’ on the family like I had. But he snuck over to Gran’s every Sunday night and we talked for a long time. That and he finally embraced the world of emails, making it easier for us to keep in touch without pissing off my mother. Drama aside, heartbreak aside, I found that in a year and a bit I’d made so many massive changes to myself and my life. Ones that I had always yearned for but was always afraid of stepping out to try and accomplish. But, when push came to shove, I did it. And I’d made new friends, great friends, and I’d made contacts and a portfolio I was beginning to be proud of. I’d thought a lot about Eric on my travels, about calling him up and telling him how far I’d come. But I really couldn’t, for one thing his old number was out and for another, what would I say to him really?
Sorry I rejected you out of some false sense of what was right? I’m sorry I fell for you? I’m sorry I broke your heart, even just a little bit? No, what was the point, it wouldn’t have changed anything, it wouldn’t have changed how I treated him, how things ended with us. So I didn’t call, and I didn’t email. I sat there with the regret unsure of where it fit into my new life. I didn’t want that regret, and more than anything I wanted his forgiveness, but that didn’t mean I deserved it, even if I wanted to badly that it hurt.

Instead I ploughed forward, and I got offered a job, for a lifestyle magazine, of the rich, the famous and the down right ridiculous in Monte Carlo. They needed a new Junior photographer, and there was a six week interning period before one could be chosen. My boss was an ex of the editor of the magazine, Jack Powell, he was conservative and quiet in the office but after hours he moonlighted as a Drag Queen of all things, at a club not too far from where I was staying in Soho. He made me laugh, and he made me care, and he was as straight as a circle and I loved it. He and Pam hit it off when she’d come and visit, which was more frequent now that ever. She’d talked her family around, and at least they were still on speaking terms with her, but, she was due a vacation and when John told me about the job and how he’d put in a good word with his ex Lafayette, well I jumped at the chance. As did Pam, her ‘over-due life vacation’ heading in the French direction was all she needed to hear. I had a week to get there and meet with Lafayette.

Four days of that we spent in Paris when the sale from the B&B FINALLY came though. So much recession talk and red tape kept the sale in limbo for a year, it was a real pain in my ass, but finally she sold for the price we agreed, and I was a lot wealthier than I was when I went to New York, in more ways than one I was happy to say. Pam and I did all the ridiculous tourist things as expected of Americans abroad, and especially for me, who hadn’t really left the States before. We posed in front of the Eiffel Tower, we posed with street signs, we noised around Chanel and all but drooled on their merchandise before the snotty assistant almost kicked us out for posing with all the stock, too. Then we partied with the French, and I French kissed a French guy and knocked that off the bucket list. I also had to make excuses as to why we couldn’t have the sexy times as well. I was no where near ready for casual sex with a stranger. That wasn’t on the list, at least not for me. For Pam though… I think she checked that off her list more than once that trip.

When we got to Monte Carlo, we were in awe at it’s beauty of course, the luxury of almost every street, the design, the whole look was like something from a movie – and it probably was – several movies in fact. I looked for a short term apartment, and found a duplex a mere stroll from the beach that offered one hell of a view for it’s pricing. And it was pricey, but then again I’d taken a peek at what I’d be offered on salary if I got the job, I had just about everything crossed that I’d get the job. I met with Lafayette Reynolds, editor in charge of Monte-C magazine, and he wasn’t at all what I was expecting. For one, he had a turban on his head and more eyeliner than I’d seen on just about any man… or woman for that matter.

The interview was extremely informal, right down to him telling me I had the nicest boobs he’d seen in at least a month. He called me ‘farm girl’ even though his accent reminded me of home, he himself was a Lousiana boy born and bred, and with that connection he seemed to warm to me instantly. Though I thought Laffayette wouldn’t have much trouble warming to anyone, he just had that friendly open vibe that I loved.

“Now, why is you here? I mean I know you want this job, but why here?”

“Honestly I’ve always wanted to travel, and I have a tiny bit for work before but this … it opened up a new country and a new life for me, I’ve always wondered what this city would be like and after spending a few days here… well, I’m in love. I want to do my job, and I want to work for you. I’ve seen your content and I related to it, even though I am no princess, no million or no queen. You write material about the extraordinary but you make the ordinary people see themselves in it too. That and your photographers do this amazing thing, they tell the story first before you read it. And I’d just love to be a part of something like that.” I answered honestly and he nodded.

“Well, Farm girl, I think we need to give you a shot. Six weeks interning, learn the ropes, walk the line, all that good stuff,” he waved his hand back and forth, “then if we still like you, you still haven’t pissed me off, and you do what your portfolio says you can do, well then we talk real numbers. That sound good?”

“Sounds great!” I beamed and had to restrain myself from hugging him.

“Okay good. Let me introduce you to your new boss, of sorts at least. He’s our senior photographer and the best at what he does, at least to me, and he’s a good guy too so that helps. And he has a nice ass.”

I guess sexual harassment wasn’t an issue at this place of work, that’s for sure.

We rounded the corner and the guy was nowhere to be seen, then suddenly he appeared from a little door at the side of the room. I wondered what was in there for a split second before my mouth just fell right open.

“Eric?”

“Sookie?”

“Huh?” Lafayette said, looking between myself and a stunned Eric, “introductions not necessary then… I see you two know each other? Either that or I’m crazy…”

“I um… Yeah we… we know each other.” Eric said, his eyes still as wide as mine.

“I…. how is this happening?” I asked, to no one in particular.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Eric asked me, and still Lafayette looked on.

“I um… well, I’m…”

“She’s your new intern, Viking, so if you could maybe make her feel a little more welcome and a little less like you just saw the Ghost of Christmas past who slapped you in the tit, mmkay?”

Eric glared at Lafayette, and he just smirked back at him.

“I was going to do introductions but I see since that’s not necessary I’ll leave you both to it, and go for a long lunch, play nice with the new girl Eric, we don’t want you running this one off.”

He said before he sauntered out of the room. Leaving us both there, both speechless.

“You’re the intern? How in the hell… Sookie I’m slightly hung over so if this is some kind of twisted drunken nightmare, I’d like to wakeup now.”

“Not a nightmare. Reality.” I said, looking around the room. It had a table with light under the top for spreading photos to examine them in good light, it had some heat lamps, and about a dozen cameras. A desk, a laptop and a chair. I guess this was his office? Not that I would know since he wasn’t offering anything up in the way of information.

“Jesus Christ.” He said, rubbing his head, then he looked at me. “You look different…”

I shrugged. “I’m tanner, and I lost thirteen pounds. I guess… random number but that 3lbs extra means a lot to me.” I smiled, trying to make chit chat.

He nodded, “Is Alcide with you? I didn’t see him moving here, I mean he’s far too at home among plaid shirts and work boots. Here isn’t exactly Louisiana.”

“No he … he’s not here.”

Did I get into everything now? I wasn’t sure. I think I was just still so in shock seeing him there at all I was still catching my breath. He looks amazing, he’d clearly been hitting the gym, and the beach if his new tan was anything to go by, his hair was shorter, almost buzzed into his head, teamed with the bigger guns and the tan? It was a very nice look for him. He was wearing a khaki coloured short sleeved shirt, and a pair of well worn pants, either that or he didn’t realize how tight they were. Either way, he looked good. He still looked shocked though, no matter how hot he still was.

He cleared his throat quietly before moving across the table away from me.

“Okay, I guess I should show you the ropes. This is a really informal work environment, I mean if Laf hasn’t already made a sexualized comment towards you, I’d be shocked, but he’s harmless and really he doesn’t mean it… at least not with the women, but he’s a professional and he does an amazing job… he just likes to kid around, so don’t take offence to anything he says, unless he goes to far then you have my permission to slap him. He’ll get over it.”

He smiled, “Um, we have a issue going to print in a week, so for right now I just need you to go over all the photos for the issue and shop them. Fix the lighting, shop any blemishes, I’m sure you’ve done this before?” He asked, unsure.

I nodded.

“A lot.”

“Good, start there. There is another desk just through there, so you can take that space if you’d like, I can email you the photos now. You’ll be needing a work email so if you could go set that up it would be great and then you can get started.” He was in work mode, that and he was avoiding eye contact with me. He was flustered but hiding it really well. Was it wrong that I wanted to nothing more than just hug him for like an hour? I decided to be professional here, at least for now. He was my new ‘boss’ and I had to behave as if I hadn’t fucked him six ways from Sunday, and fallen for him while I was with another man, only to reject him to make the biggest mistake of my life thus far.

No. I had a job to do, and so did he. And since he seemed less than thrilled at my appearance. I would keep things polite, and I’d do my job. I could pretend he was nothing to me, couldn’t I?

Couldn’t I?


*Exhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaale* God you guys these last two chapters have drained me emotionally, I’m not even kidding. Which way is up right now? She’s yammered on for 29 pages! I can’t even…

So since I’ve churned this out so quickly, be a love and review so I know it doesn’t totally suck and I’m not killing my plotlines here lol!

Nap time!


Chapter 18: Chapter 18


EPOV:

I’d spent a good chunk of my year working, working and working some more. I all but shut myself off from the world when I wasn’t working because I just didn’t want to deal with the emotional trauma again. I hated that I fell so easily, and that it took so much work to pick myself back up. I’d convinced myself that she was nothing to me, that I’d made her awesomeness up in my head, I mean, I barely knew the chick! I didn’t love her, I couldn’t have. It was just a classic case of wanting what I knew I couldn’t have. Right?

Eh, well, not really.

When she showed up in my office, shocked wouldn’t even begin to describe how I felt. I felt as if someone had kicked me in the gut, the balls and the head all at once. Was this some sort of sick cosmic joke? I’d ran away as far from her as possible, only to have her show up? Not even slightly funny.

Caught off guard, my walls went right back up, almost too thick as I began to take my hurt out on her, as I turned into the most passive aggressive asshole on the planet.

Her first day I’d pretty much run her ragged, she was a intern I told myself, so I treated her as such. I’d sent her on collection jobs three or four times across town, down to the marina, dealing with the prickliest of our clients, too. I’d had her doing the majority of the grunt work, and then I’d just left her to work over lunch, and then two hours after while I took an extended break.

See, total asshole.

But the truth was, I just had no idea how to deal with her being there. I didn’t see Alcide, she didn’t mention him, and I didn’t see a wedding ring, in its place was a giant cocktail ring instead. It raised a lot of questions, questions I wasn’t man enough to ask. I’d managed to keep her out of the office most of the day, and when I was in there, I was with a few other people, it kept the ‘personal conversation’ to an almost non existent minimum. By the end of the day though, it was just she and I, packing up the day’s equipment.

She cleared her throat, and I saw her fidgeting with her rings out of the corner of my eye, clearly nervous. My chest tightened at that thought. I didn’t want her to hate me – she had no reason to hate me, but I had a lot of reasons to hate her – and I didn’t.

“Eric?” She said, calmly.

“What?”

“I…” whatever she was going to say, she didn’t say it.

I looked at her, and whatever resolve she’d had caved, and she just shook her head.

“I’ll um, see you on Monday,” she said almost sadly before she grabbed her bags and walked out the door clearly in a rush to get away from me. Not that I’d given her even one reason to stay.

Shitting shit.

I went home that night, and found my roommate Alexei, standing on his head in the middle of the living room. Alexei was Russia, extremely gay and in love with his boyfriend Andre, and he was also a yoga instructor.

“Hey Lex.” I said, throwing my keys on the counter and then proceeding to throw myself on the couch, dramatically even for me.

“I sense some bad chi, Eric, what’s wrong?”

Him and his chi, and is auras and his ‘feelings’.

“Nothing.”

“I sense lies.”

“Stop sensing me!”

With that he came to a up right position and looked at me.

“Mr Cranky Pants.”

“I told you to stop callin’ me that or I was finding a new housemate.”

He just rolled his eyes.

“Darling, you look tense. I’m telling you, a little Satyananda would do you a world of good.”

I just ignored him.

“You remember the girl I told you about?” Drunkenly, three days after he moved in and insisted on a house warming party. It was mostly drag queens, gay guys and girls who loved gay guys. I felt like the odd man out to be honest, but I’d gotten drunk and chatty with him at five in the morning.

“Yes, the Snookie girl, dramatic cheating but not cheating, best friend’s girl, all very Dawson’s Creek.”

“Sookie and yes… No! Not Dawson’s Creek, man!”

“Well, it certainly wasn’t 90210; you were in butt fuck Louisiana for goodness sakes.” His accent ever so present as his hands flailed about.

“How is that the point?” I asked.

“It’s not, what of the girl?”

“She’s… here.”

“NO!” His eyes went wide. “Oh did she come all this way, to tell you she loves you? Wants you back, made a horrible mistake, needs you more than air!”

Did I mention he was dramatic? Seriously?

“Dude, life is not a novella, and no. She’s here on a job.”

“Is she a hooker? You didn’t tell me that part of zee story.”

I glared, making him laugh.

“I’m kidding!” Though it sounded more like ‘Keeedeeen‘ to me.

“She’s here as my intern.”

“Oh, now that is just cruel. She’s working under you but not ‘under you’ like I’m sure you want. Sad.”

I just sighed.

“Is the redneck husband with her?”

“He’s not a redneck.”

“In my head he is, is he with her?”

“No… I don’t think so. She wasn’t wearing her wedding ring.”

He smiled, “so maybe she is here to sweep you off your feet! I mean, she’ll need the use of crane or something to do it, but it could be done. Have you talked to her about why she’s there?”

“I sort of avoided her all day.”

He tutted at me.

“Why?”

“Because it was a total shock her just showing up there like that, I mean what was I meant to say?”

“How about ‘girl with the strange name, I’ve spent over a year pining after you because I love you and your strange name, and possibly the breasts – straighties love the breasts – so please can we run off into the sunset together? Or… at least get a drunk and bang?”

I glared at him.

“Fine, fine, don’t take my advice, see where avoiding her gets you. I can’t sit here and mope with you tonight though darling I’m going out with Andre and his friends from Portugal that are visiting. You should come! It might cheer you up!”

“I don’t feel like it.”

“It’s Friday night, lovely, you need a drink. I insist.”

I thought that maybe he was right, so I dragged my ass to shower, and begrudenly got ready. We’d hit two clubs, before I’d realized I was on my way to very drunk when I ran into Pam at the bar. And where Pam was, I knew Sookie was soon to follow.

Not so good.

SPOV:

“That asshole!” Pam ranted, as I just sat there, numb to it all.

“I get it though, I do. After what I did to him…”

“So? You rejected him, you thought you were making the best choice for YOU, and I’m sorry but if he doesn’t get that he’s an idiot as well as an asshole. I can’t believe he just froze you out like that. I didn’t see him as that kind of passive aggressive jackass.”

“Me either, but I guess he has the right.”

“Why?”

“Pam, come on, I didn’t make the best choices, sure I thought at the time I was doing the right thing, I just…it hurt him, I know it did, and I regret that.

She sighed.

“I like Eric, I do, but the way you said he behaved, Sook, that’s not okay. He was never a jackass before.”

“People change.”

“I guess, but I think you should talk to him, tell him the whole story.”

“How? He kept freezing me out, and the way he looked at me… Pam, no. He hates me, and honestly I don’t blame him. I’m the stupid girl that fucked with his feelings, why should he give me a shot? I wouldn’t.”

She just glared at me.

“How you felt about him –”

“How did I feel about him? It was a long time ago, Pam. I’ve been through a lot since then, I’ve changed too, maybe he has the right idea, maybe we were just this thing and nothing more.”

“What do you mean?”

“I think we idealized each other, a lot. He was this amazing free spirited, fantastic guy, free to do and go where he wanted, I wasn’t. So I put him up on some pedestal, and that’s not fair. I think I loved him, if it wasn’t love it was something really damn close. But what did I love? Did I love him, or the idea of him?”

“You’ve thought about this a lot, huh?”

“You could say that. Look, I never thought I’d see him again, as much as I wanted to. I want to clear the air, but I understand if he doesn’t. I don’t want to fuck anything else up, and that means whatever I am to Eric, or was, I know I don’t need to fix it – it can’t be fixed, it’s done.”

“So you’re just giving up?”

“It can’t be fixed, but if he’d let me I’d like us to start again. Hell, start at ALL would be good. We never got that shot. I’m not saying he should give it to me, but I hope for it, even if we’re meant to be just friends, I’d learn to accept that. If it meant having him in my life in some … any aspect.”

“And you’d be okay with that? Just being friends with him? Sookie, be serious you couldn’t even be ‘friends’ with him when you were involved with another man.”

I glared.

“Low blow, Pam. Low fucking blow.”

“Look, I’m sorry, but it’s true. You two don’t have friendship chemistry, you have ‘I need you more than air’ chemistry. It’s intense, it’s hard to explain, but it’s there.”

“Pam I want us to just go out tonight, just go out, have a few drinks at that beach party thing, and just relax. It’s the weekend, and I don’t want to think about my horrific life decisions for one night.”

She smiled, “I already have the tequila on ice, Sweet pea, let’s do this!”

Four hours and oh, countless drinks later, we’d been dancing with a bunch of very hot, and thus very gay men on the beach, just letting loose and not worrying about what anyone thought of us – the freedom of knowing no one and no one knowing you? It was exhilarating, to say the least. Fun was had, cocktails were drank, many jokes were made by the guys about how I should have gay husband – only for me to inform that that I already did – didn’t work out so well last time. I was glad I was in a place were I could joke about it, even if it did still sting.

When it happened I wanted to bolt, but I knew I couldn’t because he’d spotted me. He’d been talking to one of the guys we’d been partying with as well as Pam; he had a drink in hand and a smile on his face. Then he saw me, and the smile faded.

Awesome, just, awesome.

Both Pam and Russian guy whose name I’d forgotten both looked at me, and I honestly wanted to just dig a hole in the sand, and die. I decided to stop being a pussy, and go talk to him, even though with every step I wondered if I could just take my chances with the ocean and deal.

“Hi.” I said, and he nodded.

“I’m drunk. Sorry.” He said then, as Pam and Russian guy made a silent but obvious exit, leaving us alone, Pam squeezed my ass as she walked by; I guess it was her way of encouraging me.

“That’s okay, I’m not too sober myself right now, kind of helping I have to admit.”

He nodded again, then he looked at me straight in the eye, and just like that I was back to that bar the first night I met him, the first night I met Alcide, and the first night of many nights of bad decision making. I didn’t want to make any more bad decisions.

“Do you want another drink?” He asked, and I declined, happily nursing my cocktail in a pint glass with a sassy pink straw. The silence was deafening, and me being me, I loved me some awkward silences, it just paved the way for a blabber mouth comment.

“You’re a shitty boss, just sayin’.”

“What? Why?”

“Well do you normally just freeze out the new girls? I mean that’s kind of mean… and really not a great team building experience, on either end.” I could do banter, the question was could he?

“Is that so? I mean I’m normally very nice to the newbies, you just…”

“Brought out your inner Mean Girl?”

“No…”

“Lafayette said you made the other girl quit, crying. That doesn’t sound nice.”

“She was an idiot.” He stated, trying to hold back a smile.

“Well, we’re not all flawless, some of us just have a lot more idiot in us than others, it has to come out sometimes.”

“Breaking twenty grand’s worth of equipment, that kind of thing has to come out sometime?”

Oh, okay, maybe not that.

“Or you know… breaking someone heart even though it was the last thing you wanted to do.” There I edged it in.

With that he stiffened his stance, and actually honest to God took a step away from me. My heart clenched.

“Eric…”

“Not now, okay? Can we not do this now? I’m close to drunk, or … I was, and honestly around you I don’t make the best choices, especially where alcohol is concerned, so I’m just going to go over there… and not make bad choices.”

with that he gave me a somewhat sympathetic look, and walked off. I felt like he’d punched me in the gut. It wasn’t long until Pam found me again, no doubt watching the whole thing from afar.

“Well? That didn’t look pleasant.”

“It wasn’t. It was silently brutal, look, I’m just going to go home.”

“Aw no, come on, we can’t let him spoil the whole night, thought we might need to find new gays.”

“Why?”

“Main gay? Eric’s housemate.”

I sighed, of course he’d be connected to him, of course.

“Awkward.”

“Very. He adores you though, and you and him were having fun before the melancholy master took you over. Come on, I’m going to get us another couple of cocktails and we’re going to the next party, it’s half a mile down the beach, and it has no exes with kicked puppy expressions. Shall we?”

Reluctantly, I went, and I managed to have somewhat of a good time only thinking about Eric every ten seconds as opposed to every second. It was progress, I thought. What wasn’t progress though was the serious and life threatening hangover the next day. I was getting to old for that shit.

EPOV:

Pam asked me to come to lunch, a very late lunch, but she still classed it as such. When she called – and I still don’t know how she called, she asked nicely – for Pam, and assuring me that it would just be the two of us, and that we should catch up. I should have known it was bullshit, and I should have known that Alexei was somehow involved, when he went out of his way to iron my favorite light blue shirt for the occasion.

“Pam doesn’t swing my way, this is pointless Lex.” I said, as he splashed his extremely over priced cologne on me.

“Well, you never know. And besides even after two showers and manic teeth brushing, with the brewery you drank last night, anything can do nothing but help. Now go, have fun!”

When I got there, there was no sign of Pam, and as a woman who was a stickler for time keeping that should have tipped me off. Who I did spot though, was Sookie, sitting outside the little café, sunglasses on, wearing what looked like a pink dress with a white short cardigan thing. Her hair was down, and full of big curls. God she looked good. I felt like turning around and walking away though, was I ready to have the conversations that we clearly needed to have? Pam was trolling us, that I was sure of from the look on Sookie’s face when I walked up to her table.

“You’re not Pam.” She said.

“You either…” I said, taking a seat, Sookie sighed and slammed down the menu.

“She just texted me telling me she was running late from shopping and that she’d be here…”

I held up my phone, and saw a waiting text, it said the same thing.

“That …woman.” She sighed, “I’m sorry Eric I didn’t know she was doing this –”

“I know. The look on your face… kind of says it all.”

Awkward.

She took her glasses off, and the effects of her hangover were still present, though she had done her best to cover them up. She looked stressed too.

“We don’t have to do this. I know that it’s a thing, and we’ve made it a thing and it’s just awkward as all fuck and we really don’t have –”

“Sookie, calm down, okay? I’m not gonna bite.”

She exhaled.

“I’m sorry, I just… I’m nervous.”

“Why?”

“Why not? It’s you, it’s us, it’s all my fucking mistakes just glaring me in the face… it’s not a relaxing time, yaknow?”

I nodded.

I glanced at her left hand, and she caught me, then she began to fidget with her finger.

“Yeah, no ring.” She held her hand up to show me for sure, I was just silent.

“We…” she sighed, “we got a divorce.”

Was I shocked, was I not shocked? I wasn’t sure, so I just nodded. This was her story to tell, not mine.

“I guess I should just say it, right? It was a nightmare, I realized really quickly that I’d made the biggest mistake of my life – thus far, I’d ran into something for all the wrong reasons, for all the wrong people. I put my faith in the wrong aspect of my life, Eric. I went the road always travelled for me, and it just led me into my own personal hell. I didn’t love him, not like you’re meant to love the man you marry… and he… definitely didn’t love me.”

I furrowed my brows, because that didn’t ring true at all, not the Alcide I spoke to that day.

“I couldn’t exactly give him what he needed, Eric, and truthfully he couldn’t give me what I needed either.”

“What did he need?”

“Someone who loved him? Someone who understood him? Someone with a penis?”

I spat out my water.

“Excuse me?”

She shrugged, “Alcide, he’s gay. Or Bi… but definitely leaning towards dick. He…yeah.”

I was sure my mouth was agape, I didn’t even care what I looked like, and I was just stunned.

“I had decided to leave him, before I found out though. It was all too much, I just couldn’t deal with the marriage… and then I found …things that informed me that my busty breasts and Pilate ass wasn’t exactly what he wanted from a partner.”

Things started to come to mind, conversations, observations, thoughts over the years on my friendship with Alcide. Things made more sense now – the intense homophobia, the macho bravado, the over compensating. Jesus Christ how could I not have guessed.

“Was… he seeing someone?”

She stiffened, I took that as yes.

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry, I mean it’s not like I didn’t deserve it. I mean not that I deserved it, but I deserved it, you know?”

Sense, it made none.

“You deserved a gay husband? Are you that much of a martyr?”

“No, I just think that karma is only a bitch, if you are. And let’s face it, I was a total bitch. I picked… I did something … it’s just fitting that I marry the guy after cheating on him and maybe not loving him like I should have, and then having him be totally wrong for me. Karma…” She shrugged as if it was nothing, I didn’t know what to say to her.

We got our order, and both of us were on the water, I guess we were both feeling a little rough from the night before.

“Eric I’m sorry okay? I’m really sorry. For what I said, what I did, and what I didn’t do –”

“Sookie come on…”

“No, look I’ve been carrying this guilt, this horrible feeling inside me since it happened, and I hate that it happened. I hate that I met you first, I hate that I liked you first, I hate that I made one shitty decision after another when I knew I liked you first. And then, when we did what we did… and how I reacted to that? Because of the sheer fear I held over disappointing other people? Other people who, might I add had no problem disappoint me! I mean, it’s insane. You’re a good man, you deserved better than that, and I needed to say that, even if you didn’t want to hear it.”

I sat back in my chair, and I looked at her, really looked at her. She meant it, she could lie with her eyes, and they were just dancing with emotion, these unshed tears that she was holding back with all her might, and I realized then, she felt as bad as I did. I’d often thought she dismissed me, and maybe she thought the same thing of me, but it really burned to think that she could just claim to feel for me and then at the drop of hat just feel nothing, but this told me differently.

“We both fucked up.”

“Yes, we did, but I want you to know that it was like ninety /ten on my side. I had a weird view on life, small boxed in view…”

“And now you’re out of your box?” I smiled, and eventually she bit her lip and it formed into a smile too.

“Yeah I’m out of my box, I hate boxes now. No more boxes.”

“I’m sorry too –”

“You’ve nothing to be –”

“Yes I do. Everything that happened and didn’t happen, and for the way I behaved the way I did on your first day at work. It was unprofessional number one, but number two, I just got freaked out and shut down… and it shouldn’t have happened.”

She shook her head as if to dismiss it, but I meant it too. We ate silently for a few minutes, and oddly the air was no longer awkward, it was a little tense, but not as much as it had been.

“What now?” She asked, sipping her water, “I mean we’ve both sort of said or initial piece…that’s as far as I got in my head.”

I smiled, glad I wasn’t the only one having conversations in my head.

“Well…” I sat back, “I think we just take it one day at a time…”

“Like alcoholics?” she asked, confused, her face scrunched up, so adorable.

“Maybe, we’re like bad-decision-aholics. Maybe… if we clean the slate… knowing what we know now? Maybe we see what happens?”

She nodded, smiling slowly.

“The way I hope for it? Not every story has a clear beginning, middle or an end, who’s to say where we are, we choose.”

“I agree.” I said, and I guess we did what we said what we’d do. One day at a time.


A/N: It is baaaaack. I’m not sure how frequent the updates will be, but here it is. If you enjoyed it, review! Lots of you asked if it was being updated so hopefully you’ll have an opinon on the update too and not just the lack of updates 😉 I post my chapters 1st on my blog now, so if you want to be first to read it, go there! I’m going to Paris for a little bit in a couple of days, so this might be the last update before then!


Chapter 19: Chapter 19


Clean slate in place, Eric and I embarked on something foreign for both of us; we embarked on the first few steps of a friendship. Sure, it was a friendship ripe with sexual tension, that we were both desperately trying to avoid at all costs of course, but it was still friendly and calm. Pam had left the week after, promising to email and call and that I wouldn’t leave any details out of my ‘fuck-ship’ as she was calling it, with Eric. I missed her of course, but I knew I had to stand on my own two feet, even if I had Eric as a friend to call on; I was enjoying my new found freedom once more. I’d taken weekend drives all around, just exploring the coastline and my new temporary home. I knew it was temporary, even if I knew nothing else. I liked Europe, the little of what I’d seen of it anyway, it was magical and steeped in history and had wonderful things to offer, but, it wasn’t home. I wasn’t sure where ‘home’ was yet, but I knew I had to keep looking for it. Louisiana was no longer my home, in truth I hadn’t felt at home there since I left high school, and yet I had overstayed for the fear of the unknown… I didn’t want to fall into that trap again that’s for sure.

Eric and I had continued to work together, six weeks went by and no one was shunned or ignored, and we’d fallen into a weird routine of sorts. We’d get all the editing done by the time the next shoot needed us, do what we were hired to do among the mass of spoilt clients and heiresses allergic to ‘bad lighting’, and then we’d be back in the office in time to catch Layette and the other leaving, usually roping us into group dinners and drinks after work. It was an unconventional bunch of people who worked for him, but they worked hard and they’d turned what I’d found out to be his small idea, into a giant, successful and lucrative reality, and I could see why. Lafayette was magnetic, he had this open personality that just made you love him right away, I could see why they were so loyal and willing to work so hard for him, I could see it in myself and my willingness to work as hard as I was working, for as little pay as I was getting, for him and his company – because I liked it there. Eric told me that it was one of the main reasons he’d spend as long as he had in that one place, and I agreed with him, it did have its…incentives.

As for Eric and I, well, we were muddling through. We’d put it all out there when I’d told him about my failed marriage and we’d both completed our respective apologies and guilt purging, and we’d done a good job of creating a base for a friendship, and an even better job at avoid the great big elephant in just about every room we entered together, the fact that underneath our high hopes for a platonic relationship lied an overwhelming desire to shun that ideal and grab each other with both hands and promise never to let go. A huge romantic notion, that much was true, but in my head it was what it was. I knew I wanted him still and I knew instinctively that he wanted me just as bad, but we also knew – only too well – that acting rashly and on instinct only left us with pain and suffering last time. So, we wanted as most do, to do things right this time. What right was though, I didn’t think either of us had much of a clue, but, this was the opposite of last time, I guess we figured we were both on a better track this time, this way. For now.

I’d been taking my Saturday reading very seriously since I moved ninety one steps from the nearest beach, and yes, I counted. I’d just gotten to a particularly juicy bit of my second read of the month when I felt the sun shadow over, the shadow being that of a six four, Swede. I took off my glasses and looked up, he was stood there with two cups of juice, and a smile on his face.

“You looked thirsty,” he said, handing me the juice.

“Thanks… how did you –”

“My place, it’s about a half a mile from here. I walk the beach every day; I’ve seen you here, a few Saturday’s in a row now, figured I’d butt in today. That’s orange and grapefruit on a lot of ice, by the way.”

“Thanks… you’ve seen me? Why didn’t you say hi, before?”

He shrugged, “you looked peaceful, and totally engrossed in those books, I figured I’d leave you alone.”

I looked at his feet then, and there was a dog, a very tiny dog…a Chihuahua to be exact. I then looked up and he had a rather sheepish look on his face, “oh, and I was walking Petal….she’s not mine!” he protested, his eyes wide, and his cheeks a little pink.

“She’s not yours?” I smirked.

“She belongs to Alexei and his boyfriend, but apparently she has to live with us because … well I’m not totally sure why, but they got her a few weeks ago. She’s annoying… pisses on everything, yaps a lot… I sat on her a few times… scared the shit out of me, thought she was a rat.”

At that I burst out laughing, and picked up the tiny dog to cuddle, she was exhausted.

“Eric, have you been walking the dog all the way from your place, and along the beach?”

“Yeah… why?”

“That’s a long walk.”

“Don’t dogs like to walk? I’m sure they do.”

“Well…” I inspected the thirsty dog, putting some of the water I had under my chair in the lid of the juice cup for her to drink, she lapped it up, “they do, but smaller dogs need smaller distances to walk…like puppies, they sleep a lot.”

He looked even more sheepish at that, if it was possible.

“Oh… she’s not dying is she? If she fucking dies I’ll never hear the end of it.”

I laughed and picked her up again, “Hi Petal…God he couldn’t have picked a gayer name, could he?” I laughed again, cuddling her, she was shivering.

“Does she have a coat?”

At that he raised his brows, “Okay look, I agreed to walk her at the weekends because I’m home and he’s not, but she’s a girls dog…she’s not even a real dog! And I’m doing it, because I’m not cruel, but I refuse…Sookie… it’s pink and bedazzled. I didn’t even know what bedazzling WAS until I moved in with Alexei!”

At this point I was laughing so hard I wasn’t making any noise.

“Aw, but she’s so cute. Are you worried she makes you look less manly?”

“A little… I mean people are starting to know me here, I don’t want them to know me as the guy with the toy dog, you know?” with that he smiled too.

“It’s very sweet of you to take care of her though, just maybe…shorter walks? And I can look for a more…manly coat for her. One with guns on it, if it helps you feel any better.”

He just faked a glare at me, and then at her.

“You hungry?” I asked, leading us both to what was fast becoming one of our favourite haunts. A little café around the corner from my place that did the best crepes and coffee for miles, all of which Eric and devoured outside since it was a nice day.

“So you want to tell me what’s up?” he asked, chomping on a strawberry.

“What’s wrong? Nothing’s wrong?”

“You’re restless, something’s wrong. You’ve been fidgety all week.”

“I guess I’m just having a little more trouble adjusting here, than I thought I would.”

“Is it the job? We’ve been really full on, I know but –”

“No, I love the job, I love learning…from you.” I said, somewhat bashfully, “I just… I like it here, I just don’t speak the language and it’s a bit intimidating, you know?”

He nodded, “It took me a while to pick up the basics, and thankfully people are kind enough not to call me an American asshole.”

“When in reality you can correct them, in Swedish.”

He laughed, “Little bit,” as he cocked his brows at me, his smile got bigger.

“I guess I just need to get used to it for a while.”

“And you need to get out more, since Pam left you’ve been kind of a recluse.”

“I have not, I’ve been exploring on the weekends, anti-reclusive, if you please!”

“Oh, I see…wandering woman, one with nature, that sort of thing?”

“If by nature you mean three star B&Bs up north, then…yes.”

He just rolled his eyes playfully at me.

“You should come out tomorrow night, it’s Layette’s birthday, there’s a thing…it’s an excuse to dress up, get drunk and have cake, what’s not to love?”

“I do love cake.”

“Who doesn’t love cake?” He asked, stealing a strawberry from my plate.

“Is it a posh thing, I didn’t really pack anything…posh, all my stuff from New York is in storage until I go back and I –”

“You’re going back?”

He didn’t look so thrilled at that possibility.

“I guess, at some point I will, I like here…for now. I just don’t want to get stuck, you know?”

He nodded, “I felt like that, for a long time, I know the feeling.”

“Felt… As in, you don’t feel that way anymore?”

“I haven’t for a long time now, I feel like I should be settling down, you know? I don’t really have a real reason to keep tramping around, I’ve got a full time gig here…”

“But you could get a full time gig just about anywhere, you just didn’t want to before.” I pointed out.

“I guess.”

“So, you see yourself here, forever?”

“I don’t know about forever, but it’s been good to me for the longest time so far… I see no reason to run away now.”

“And is that what you think I’d be doing if I were to go?” I didn’t like his change in tone; it went from casual, to almost accusatory in a very short space of time.

“No… well, maybe? I don’t know, I just think, you just got here… and you’re already thinking of leaving again, I know when I’d do that it was because there was no real reason for me to stick around and look for something more… permanent…”

“And?”

“And, I guess maybe I thought you’d have a reason or two to stick around here, now. I guess I was wrong.”

Clearly he meant him, he meant us, and now he was under the impression that I wasn’t willing to figure out whatever that meant.

“It’s not like that at all; I just…” I exhaled, trying to figure out the best way to express myself, “before I made all my decisions based on what other people wanted, now I try and make them based on what I need, on what I want. I mean this is what you were telling me I needed to do, back in Louisiana, remember? Well, I took your advice; I just took it a little late is all….”

“I get it I do, believe me!”

“You just don’t like it…” I answered, sipping my coffee.

“I guess I don’t, but what you decide to do with your life it’s never really been any of my business, has it? So if you decide to leave, I guess I should just be supportive of that.”

I looked at him then, and he seemed totally serious, that if I just left…he wouldn’t care? That made me feel like shit, and it ended our hanging out on a sour note.

He and I had done a lot of dancing around a lot of issues, for a lot of time, time that honestly I viewed as well wasted, but wasted none the less. I didn’t want to waste anymore time! So, I did what I thought was best for then and there, that Saturday night I put on my new dress, the dress I’d spent the Friday and Saturday looking for, I curled my hair, and took my time perfecting my makeup, perfecting myself. All to give me that extra confidence I needed to do what I was going to do. I was just so tired of wasting time. I’d wasted weeks since I’d come here, and I’d wasted years before that, I was going to do what I should have done over three years earlier. I was going to give him a reason to stay, and I was hoping he’d give me one back.

EPOV:

The president of some bank threw Lafayette his birthday party, the president was beyond happy with him because he’d made his shrill of a wife extremely happy with a spread in the magazine on her sixtieth birthday. Lots of backs were being patted and we got a night at an amazing casino, free booze and a lot of gambling. I sucked at gambling and lost five hundred dollars in a half hour, so I stuck to the bar, and a lot of observation. That’s when I met Celine, she was from Russia, but she was also half Swedish, telling me she had Swedish GPS and that’s how she found me. It was innocent, and considering that I was for all intents and purposes a very painfully single guy, why shouldn’t I flirt with the hot Nordic blonde with the nice rack? Why shouldn’t I enjoy the fact that she was touching my knee, and my hands and flirting with me? Well, that reason was one very pissed off looking Southern belle, who was across the room, looking nothing if not a beauty queen in a backless black slinky dress with her hair down around her, and red lips that were just so inviting – and that was from twenty feet away. She was the reason I brushed off the blonde, and she was the reason why I went to the gays.

“What is wrong with you, that woman was practically on her knees!” Lafayette said as I rejoined the craps table.

“Yeah…I can’t, I mean I could…but I can’t.” I said, my nerves and my voice, shaking.

“Why not?”

I looked to Sookie who was now deep in conversation with Bella, the admin girl who worked front desk and made us all sound good in the company’s press releases.

“Oh…” Lafayette said, patting me on the shoulder, “it’s like that huh?”

“Little bit like that, yeah.”

“You love her?”

“I don’t know.”

“You’re spun…you don’t get that way over just a fling, Eric.”

“No, I know, I just … is it love? Or is it just some messed up idea of what something was, when it wasn’t that at all?”

He looked at me, confused.

“I’m too drunk to know what that means, but baby boy, you needs to sort your shit out. I can’t take much more of the tension and the pining and the looks… Shit or get off the pot, as my Mamma used to say.”

“How fucking romantic, Laf.”

He just grinned.

At that I felt a hand on my shoulder, lightly tanned skin, perfect nails… there were those lips again, and that determined look in her eye.

“Can we talk?”

Lafayette excused me before I could excuse myself, and Sookie grabbed my hand and led me on to a balcony. She looked out on to the water ofr a few seconds before she faced me, I just awkwardly shoved my hands in my pocket, waiting for her to grasp the moment.

“I don’t really know how to say this, elequantly or otherwise, everything is just a mess in my head…so maybe I should just say what comes to mind?”

When did she do it any other way?

“Eric, I’m tried of wasting time. I’m tired of waiting and wondering, and being unsure and scared of what to do here… Bottom line, I want you, and I want to have you.”

She rolled her eyes at herself, fidgeting with her bracelets, “I mean, I want us to have each other, I want us to give this…whatever this thing is between us… I want to give it a shot and I’m hoping, even after everything that you do, too.”

Well that was…out of the blue. Still I didn’t speak, she seemed to be on a rambled roll.

“When I’m with you, even when things are sort of uncomfortable… I still feel better. I feel like I can do and say whatever I want, and I know you won’t be judging me, I feel like it’s okay to be myself with you…”

She ran her hand through her hair, and turned away from me again, “I get it you know, why you’re cautious? With me, after everything? Honestly I’m just surprised you didn’t run a mile when you saw me show up that day. Had things been reversed and you’d done to me what I did to you? I don’t think I’d have been as understanding as you.”

“Who’s to say I understood? I wanted to hate you for a really long time, Sook.”

“And did you?”

I shook my head, “no, I didn’t…couldn’t. And I am cautious, because everything has always been…for the lack of a better term – a clusterfuck, with us. From the very second I met you, everything went wrong.”

“Because I was a dumbass and –”

“Not just you, all of it. I should have just told Alcide that I liked you from the start, I should have just let him fend for himself, and I should –”

“You wouldn’t though, because that’s not who you are…” she came closer to me then, “Eric, I’ll understand if you don’t want to go down this road with me, or hell, any road with me after everything that’s happened. But I’m asking because… I never asked before. I was never really free to fully comprehend the possibility of being with you, properly…. But now I am, and no one can get hurt from this, no one is lying or cheating or feeling morally conflicted…at least I hope not.” She laughed, taking my hands in hers.

“We never got a fair shot because of the choices I made, and now there’s nothing in the way of us, but us, and I’d like to get out of my own way and I’d like to –”

I stopped her in her frantic tracks with a kiss, a kiss I’d been wanting since the minute I saw her, and if I’m being honest, every moment since. She didn’t stop me, if anything she encouraged me with every piece of her. Hands, fingers, lips, moans, the struggle to breathe, it was all we were for those few minutes as I pressed her up against the railing of the patio. The sounds of the party floated in and out, we were aware there were people inside, but the only care either of us had in those moments were for each other, and it was the best feeling in the world.

When we finally broke apart for air, I found we’d moved to the wall, and out of sight of anyone else, cloaked by the shadow of the doors, and the plants.

“I take it that means you’re agreeing with my suggestion?” She asked with a shy smile, catching her breath but not letting go of her grasp on my shirt, just like I didn’t let go of my hold on her hips. I simply nodded my response and went for her neck again, fuck… I forgot how good she smelled, how soft her skin was, how warm and inviting she was. There we stood as close as we could get with our clothes on, just enjoying the moment for what it was, and then I felt her hands on my belt.

Well, that was interesting.

I looked straight into her eyes, and the shy smile came back, “You don’t want to?”

I looked behind me, and sure enough, just as before we were very alone as the party went on in full swing inside.

“Of course I do, but… here?”

She just nodded slowly, as I struggled not to let my eyes roll back in my head when she started palming my pants. My breath blew against her skin, making her hair move when I exhaled, she just didn’t seem to mind as she kissed me again, slipping her hand down my pants. After being celibate for as long as I was, it was like water to a man in the desert, her hands on my body, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on hers. So much so that I began to bunch up her dress, her very long and very slinky dress that too far too long to get where I needed it to be so I could reciprocate. I was on sensory over load as her hands worked their magic, and I attempted to work some of my own. Dipping inside her, listening to her breath hitch higher and higher as I went deeper inside, feeling her cling onto my arm with one hand and work me through wit the other, her lips on my neck, the wind from where were standing and the sounds of the dozens of people mere feet away… well it was frightening and fantastic all at once. There was no guilt this time, no stalling; no wondering what might happen if we went ahead with what we were doing. No one to hurt, no one to find out, no hesitation. So, when she whispered to me that she wanted me, that she needed me inside her right then and there? Well, who was I to say no?

“This will not last long…” I said, just being honest. I hadn’t been laid in a long ass time, and I knew by conversations we’d had that she hadn’t either, neither of us were going the long haul this time. She just laughed, pulled us further into the dark corner, and kissed me as if her life depended on it.

“Just shut up… and fuck me, Eric.”

The steely determination in her eyes, combined with all the lust flying around us, well I just about came in my pants right then and there. Thankfully though, I didn’t and we managed to fuck, her hand over my mouth, my hand over hers, as we both just began thrust the stress and the tension, and the questions and the pain away from each other and out of our systems. And, I was right, it wasn’t going earn either of us any records, but I got her off slipping my fingers inside her again, a matter of seconds before I lost all control myself. We stood there, afterward, me still inside her, her with her legs still wrapped around me, both of us still struggling for breath.

“Jesus….” She said, sliding down onto wobbly legs, readjusting her underwear, and her long dress.

“Fuck…I think we really needed to do that.”

“I think so too.” She agreed, checking her dress, and then checking me as I tucked everything back in. She laughed, “I um, really hope they don’t have security cameras out here.”

“Shit, I didn’t even think about that.”

“Me either, at the time…I didn’t really think of much else.”

Her face was flushed, her lips were swollen and red, and she was missing an earring. She never looked more beautiful.

“I really can’t stay.”

“What? Why?”

“Dude, you just came inside me… I’m in a dress…we’re in public?” she laughed again, “I need to get me to a shower, pronto.”

“We never had the best timing, have we, Sookie?” I kissed her once on the lips and drew back, tucking her hair behind her ears.

“No, timing has never been our strong point, at all. Even now.” She smiled.

“How about we fix that then? And get you showered, get us both showered and freshened up.”

She cocked a brow in my direction, “and how do you plan on doing that, we live –”

“Well, what if for once we made our timing work for us. Made the situation work for us?” I said, grabbing her hand and leading her though the casino fast, ignoring the calls from Lafayette as we past. I got us to the front desk in record time, Sookie still looked flustered but she clearly got the plan.

“Hi, I’d like to check in, please.” I said, awkwardly since in my head Sookie and I both had ‘we just fucked and it was awesome’ written all over ourselves.

The girl behind the desk just nodded, typed and nodded some more.

“I’m sorry, Sir, but we only have one available room tonight, and it’s the Garnier suite.”

Sookie shook her head, no.

“It’s 6,000 Euros, a night, sir.”

I didn’t want to faint right then and there.

“Eric, seriously –”Sookie tried to interject, but I wasn’t having it.

“That’s fine, thank you.”

Sookie’s eyes went wide, “We can’t do this –”

“Why not? Because of the money?”

“Yes!” she whispered, “it’s far too much we can just –”

I handed over my credit card, as I sensed Sookie freaking out at my side, signed what I needed to sign, and the girl happily gave us our room keys and wished us good night.

It was going to be a good night, and this room, I thought had better include a trip to space, for that money.

I took Sookie’s hand again, and we got as far as the elevator.

“It’s too much, Eric, I need to pay for half of it at the very least, it’s just so –”

“Extravagant, out of the blue, unplanned?”

“Yes! All of that…We could have just gotten a cab home.”

“Sure we could but that would have taken too long….Right?”

The entire time she was freaking out, her hand never left mine, her body left no space between mine and hers, she was internally having panic attacks, but she held on to me throughout it all.

“It’s so much money though…Please let me pay for half.”

“No.” I said quickly, pecking her on the lips, “forget about the money for a second, would you?”

“But it’s…”

“I know, its so much, I know, but other than that…is this a good idea?”

“It’s a fantastic idea, and I really can’t wait to –”at that the elevator dinged and the doors opened.

“Well,” she said, “I guess I don’t have to wait to be alone with you…huh?”

“No…”I said, leading her out and to the suite’s door slowly, “you don’t, and that’s the whole point… we have the whole night, just us, here…to do whatever we want.”

With that a slow grin formed on her face, “well, when you put it like that…”

“Hmm?” I said, nuzzling her neck as we walked inside the most expensive room I’d ever planned on having sex in. She closed the door walking inside, and unzipped her floor length dress, dropping it just as suddenly leaving her in her underwear and heels.

“Let’s make sure it’s the best money you ever spent!”

And we would, we really, really would.


*Wriggles brows* Ahem.

Anyway, hi loves! Hope you enjoyed it enough to hit the little review button, you know how much I love hearing what you all think! It’s a big part of the fun of posting this for me! And if you’d like to read the updates first, feel free to check out my writing blog – the url is in the profile!

xox


Chapter 20: Chapter 20


SPOV:

I woke up very sore, very tired, but the also the happiest I’d remembered being in a really long time. I looked around the large opulent blue and white bedroom of the absurdly overpriced suite that we’d taken over for the night, and it looked like – much like the entire place was now – a mess.

It was mess because we decided we needed to get our money’s worth, and proceeded to christen every available surface (and a few not so easy access) until we just about passed out. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday night, I had to admit.

The room was dimly lit, and I knew it was still relatively early. My partner in room wrecking was still passed out by my side, his arms wrapped loosely around me, a soft hum issuing from him as he breathed deep in his sleep. I took a minute to just appreciate him laying there next to me, content and peaceful, a goofy, happy look on his face even in his sleep. I’d never gotten to do that before. Before, it was tense and wrong, and everything was rushed and full of guilt. Not this time though; this time everything was different, including he and I. We’d grown up more, we’d experienced more – at least I knew I had. And grown up me knew what she had this time, and she knew she wasn’t about to let it slip through her fingers.

I untangled myself from him, my bladder being the bitch that was taking me from my heat and comfort at just after seven am. Needs met, I allowed myself to slip back into the giant bed with him still sound to the world. I had spent a lot of my life unsure of a lot of things. I mean, who really walks around all day knowing everything they’re doing is right and knowing just exactly where they’re going, no, not even physics knew that shit – not really. I’d also spend a good deal of that time beating myself up about the not knowing, and over the past year, almost two, I’d become better at just accepting the flaws, accepting the unknown, and more than that, I was embracing it. One thing I wasn’t willing to embrace though, was the unknown where Eric and I were concerned. I was taking charge of that area of my life, and I was on a mission to make sure it worked, to give us the shot that I’d talked about. Realistically, I knew that not all love is forever, not all relationships are the ‘right’ ones, but I was sure I wanted to try and take what we had and build it up. It had the potential to be something beautiful, if we did it right this time, and I thought we could. I thought, if we applied it, brick by brick we could have a castle of a relationship, one sturdy enough to endure any storm.

I hoped.

“Do I have drool on my face?” he asked, his voice deep and croaky as he woke up, pulling me closer to him.

“No…”

“You’re … staring?” he smiled.

“I’m not … I was just looking, just thinking.”

He smiled again, his eyes closing slowly, “Mmm, lots to think about.”

“Happy thoughts, though.”

He chuckled, kissing me on top of my head and wrapping the quilt around us both. “Yes, lots of very happy thoughts … most of which are about last night.”

“Yeah, just FYI, you’re going to have to carry me out of here … my legs just gave up. They can’t take any more.”

“Wore you out, huh?”

“Something like that. I mean I’m not sayin’ I didn’t notice how drained you were after either, or how soundly you just passed out. I’ve got skills of my own, you know,” I said, an air of false sharpness to my tone, he just smiled and faced me.

“Yes Ma’am you do, no arguments here…”

“Don’t call me Ma’am, my Grandmother is ‘Ma’am.'”

“How is she anyway?”

“Gran?”

“Yeah…”

“She’s good. We call each other a couple of times a week, usually on a Sunday and a Wednesday just to catch up. Same old, same old back home from all accounts.”

“But health wise, she’s good?”

“I think so. You know Gran, she’s a proud woman, so I doubt I’d hear from her even if she was having problems. I know she keeps a lot from me, and I censor a lot from her too I guess. We’re not lying, we just like to keep the time we do talk to be … nice, pleasant, and that usually means we don’t bring up my mother, or Alcide, or anything that happened before I left,” I sighed, snuggling closer to him, laying my head on his chest. I realized that I’d missed that feeling, missed the solid, quiet thuds coming from his heart. It was a comforting sound, one I’d never realized I loved before.

“That’s good in a way, that you guys still talk. I’m glad she didn’t shun you, a lot of older people would have freaked out on their grandkids doing all that.”

“True, but hey, my Gran is more hip than my own mother, or father for that matter. She likes things just so, but she’s no fool to think the world works in ways other than her ideal. She was oddly okay with me leaving Alcide. I didn’t tell her why though, that was whole other can of worms.”

“And his worms at that.”

“Exactly, I love my Gran, but she’s the biggest gossip I know, including Maxine Fortenberry! And, had I told her, I knew the whole state would know, and it wasn’t my secret to tell. It was, and is, his.”

“I don’t think he’ll ever come out … how he was raised … I mean, I had thought that he might be … curious? Given how he behaved, but never in a million years did I ever thing that he-”

“Me either…” I sighed. “I don’t wanna talk about him, not right now … not here.”

“Too weird?” he asked, making a funny face at me.

“No, not weird, I mean, I’m over it. I just … he’s the past, and I don’t want that tainting what we’ve got right now. Let’s just enjoy the peace.”

“Why last night?” he asked, looking at me again.

“Why what last night? We did a lot of what’s last night,” I smiled.

“Why tell me what you told me, last night…”

“Well, I guess I could say that it just happened there and then, but it didn’t. I’d planned on confronting you, hashing it all out, saying my piece … all that jazz.”

“But?”

“But I lost my nerve, when I walked in and saw you chatting up that blonde-”

“I wasn’t chatting her up I was just-”

“I know, I mean, I didn’t know. From where I was standing it looked like some serious flirting and touching, and I … was sort of insanely jealous.” I looked as sheepish as I sounded as I rambled, but I didn’t care. “And, well, I faked small talk for a while, all the while internally beating myself up for feeling jealous when I had no real right to. I didn’t own you, we weren’t anything that I had the right to feel protective over, but I wanted it. I wanted something with you that gave me the right to feel threatened by if I saw you chat up some hot chick.”

“You logic is-”

“Crazy, yes, I know,” I sighed. “So, I found my balls somewhere between talking to Bella and my fourth shot.” I smiled. “And the rest you know because you were there.”

“So do you feel like you own me now?” he asked, an evil glint in his eye. “Have you claimed ownership? Am I yours?”

I smirked, “Hmm, I don’t know. I think somewhere between the chorus of ‘Oh my God’s’ and ‘it was never like this with anyone else, Sookie‘ I think maybe I have a good shot.”

He rolled his eyes. “You can’t take what I say mid orgasm for any sort of leverage!”

“Oh, please…”

“Well, if that’s the case then you think I’m God,” he smiled, smugly, and I just elbowed him in the ribs gently. We laid there, just silently enjoying the quiet for a while before he spoke again, “Sookie?”

“Hmm?”

“We still have some stuff to work out here.”

We did, I knew that.

“Like how you want to settle in one place and I’m not sure if I’m ready for that?”

“Yeah…”

I slid on top of him then, straddling his waist to look him fully in the eye, and maybe to enjoy my position, too.

“I like it here, and I like it here a lot more today than I did yesterday,” I said, letting him take my hands and hold them. “I want to see a few more places that are on my bucket list. I don’t know if I want to work there, or just be a tourist … I don’t know.”

“What do you know?” he asked quietly, sweetly kissing my knuckles.

“I know that I don’t want to give you up again, that’s what I know. I know that I want to be with you, but I don’t want to feel the pressure to plot out our relationship like I felt all the times before. I know I want to try and make this work more than anything, and maybe the bucket list countries don’t have to be explored tomorrow, or next week, and maybe I can just enjoy this for what it is?”

“I don’t want to hold you back. The idea that you might resent me in someway because of that … Sookie that’s the last thing I’d ever-”

“I know that. And see, that’s where things are different too, I know that. I know you would let me go if I decided to go, and I know that I’d regret that, because I realized that I do want to see the world, but I want to see it with you.”

“I would encourage you, whatever way you want to phrase it, because I would. I don’t want to hold you back, but I’d regret doing it too. I’d regret it because then you’d be there and I’d be here… and I did that before, I walked out of room with you in it before, we made those mistakes before. I don’t want to make those mistakes again.”

I smiled.

“There are always vacations, trains to other parts of Europe. Maybe we can convince Lafayette we need to do a piece in Italy…”

“But if you want to live-”

“Right now I’m really good right where I am. Maybe not in this super overly expensive suite, but you know.”

He laughed, “And, Lafayette has been talking about expansions in the magazine, so who knows, he might just go for it.”

“So what does this mean? Does this mean… we’re good?”

“I think it’s a start…” he said before he pulled my hands down, bringing me close enough to kiss him. And he was right, it was a start, it was start of something really amazing.

About time, right?

EPOV:

“Yes, Gran I know, and yes I am being good with that. There are no less than 4 vegetables on my plate at dinner, as always.” She rolled her eyes at me and smiled as I came through the door as she was mid conversation with her Gran. I pecked her on the cheek and proceeded to shrug off my jacket and kick off my shoes by the hall closet.

“Yeah Gran, that was Eric, he’s just home… oh, he’s good… you know…” she looked over to me and winked. I couldn’t contain my smile. I loved how she made the most innocent comments filthy with just a look in my direction.

“No, work’s been good, really good actually. We’re in Greece right now, remember I told you…” She walked into the bedroom, and I walked into the tiny kitchenette of our hotel room. She was cooking pasta and some sauce that smelled amazing. I noticed chicken browning away too, I was starving.

“No I know, well, I get a vacation week in about a month so I can come then. I know, I miss you too Gran… I know…” she looked at me then, sadness in her eyes. This is how the calls always went lately, they started off happy, full of news and just general gossiping and then her Gran turned melancholy, rubbing off on Sookie ten fold. I let them finish their conversation in private as I went and started a shower, only to hear the bathroom door a few minutes later.

“Your Gran okay?” I asked and I saw her drop down the toilet seat and sit. She sighed.

“No, it’s been getting worse and worse… she’s been really forgetful Eric, and I’m noticing it more and more in the calls every week. I just… she starts fine, but it seems the more we talk the more confused she gets. I don’t … I don’t like it,” she said, biting back her tears.

I wiped the suds off my face and opened the glass doors fully so we wouldn’t have to yell.

“Come ‘ere,” I said, putting my hand out for hers, she took it and stepped into the shower with me. Shedding her soaking tank top and sleep shorts into a sopping mess on the floor before she almost tackled me for a cuddle, and then her own tears started.

“Come on, come here…” I said as gently as I could, holding her as tight as I could, to hopefully give her some sense of reassurance.

“I just don’t know what to do. My Dad said in his email that she’s been fine, a little forgetful, but fine.”

“See, that’s good, right?”

“My dad lies to make me feel better, always has. He did it for years with him and Mom. Things were falling apart at the seams and he was still ‘fine,’ so I don’t believe him, and talking to her just confirms it,” she sobbed.

I held her for a minute or two; just keeping us both warm under the stream of hot water. The jet stream in Greece, we discovered, kind of sucked. We’d been travelling for about seven months. Both of us playing journalist too for Lafayette and his ever expanding magazines – magazines plural because he’d now gotten two. A travel magazine for, believe it or not, travel enthusiasts, and the regular lifestyle magazine still based in Monaco. He was in talks for a third in the states, too. Sookie and I had been doing our thing all over the place for almost eight months by the time we landed in Greece, and it had been the most insanely blissful time of my life – and I think for her too. At least, I hope for her too. Thinks started off a little awkwardly, neither of us knowing how to handle our new found status, but trying our hardest to make it as smooth as possible. Our first ‘official’ date, I’d cooked, and she brought dessert, we talked and then we sexed. Both of us, still so surprised by just how normal it all felt. There was no angst, no guilt and no worrying that anyone was going to find out, or get hurt. After that, we managed to relax a lot more, so much so – to the point where even Alexei was complaining how annoyingly cute we were. We’d become one of those couples; you know the kind of sickening in love couples that make all single people sick and envious all at once? I knew we were because I’d been one of those single people for long enough to recognise what we’d become, and you know what? I didn’t give a single fuck what anyone else thought. I’d waited a long time to feel this secure with someone, and I’d waited long enough for Sookie to come back into my life that once I had it, I wasn’t hiding it from anyone or anything.

I pulled away from her slightly to look her in the eye, “you going to be okay?”

She nodded, “I’m sorry, I just … it just hit me, you know? She’s old, and old people die, and that means she’s gonna die soon. I never thought about it like that before. How dumb does that sound?”

“It’s not. She’s your parent, she’s your grandmother. She’s always been there, and it’s only natural that you just think she always will be there. Nothing wrong with that, Sook.”

She nodded, wiping her tears away rather pointlessly since she was under the shower of warm water anyway. She kissed me then, and I could almost taste the salt from her tears, making me want to comfort her as much as I could. Before we got too hot and heavy though the damn smoke alarm went off causing us both to jump.

“Fuck, the fucking chicken!” she said, breaking away from me and grabbing a towel before she ran out of the bathroom, killing the moment in the process, but I guess that was miles better than killing us.

By the time I got out of the shower she was standing there, dripping all over the floor, burnt chicken on the stove, her blue towel wrapped around her tan, wet body.

“I ruined the chicken…” she pouted.

“Technically, the oven did, but… it’s fine.”

“I suck today. First I dropped the lens and smashed it, costing us a thousand damn dollars, and then my Gran, and then this… I just… I just… suck.”

I chuckled, dragging her gently to the couch. “You don’t suck, and when you do – not for nothing, but it’s awesome and feels really good and honestly you should suck more oft-” she hit me on the arm, but smiled.

“Asshole.”

“I’m not so sure about the sucking there… I don’t think it’s my thing…”

“No, you’re right, I’ve already had one guy that was obsessed with things in his asshole, I’m glad you’re not going down that alley…so to speak,” she smirked. It was good that she could make jokes.

“Come on, Sook, relax. The day is over, tomorrow … it’s a whole new day for a bunch of other shit to go wrong.”

“Have you ever thought about motivational speaking? Really, you have an untapped talent!”

I kissed her then, yanking away her towel.

“It’s not exactly needed…” I said, unhooking my own before we found ourselves in a familiar position on the couch.

“But dinner … Its …”

“I’d rather have you.”

She laughed a real hearty laugh, the one I loved to make happen.

“Look at you tryin’ to sound all suave!”

“Excuse you, trying?”

Still laughing, she shook her head, “You’re right, I’m sorry … you’re practically James Bond, please continue.”

“James Bond huh, I figured I was more like Rhett,” I laughed, knowing how she hated being compared to Scarlett, and knowing just how much I loved to do it to her.

She rolled her eyes as predicted. “Still on that, I see.”

“Why yes, Miss Scarlett, I am.”

She glared.

“Come on darlin’ it’s funny.”

“It was funny the first ten times, the nine thousand after? Not so much.”

“Whatever you say, Dear…” I kissed her again but she pulled away, a worried look on her face.

“I’m really not like her, not now. I know I made the wrong choices before, and for the wrong reasons, but I think I fixed that with-”

“Hey… hey…” I held her cheek so she’d look at me. “It’s a joke, that’s all. I promise no ill intent or underlying meaning, okay?”

“You sure?”

“Frankly my Dear I do give a damn, so yes, I know it’s just a joke.”

She rolled her eyes again but ran her fingers up and down my arm in the process. “Good, because Scarlett screwed a lot of shit up and never tried to fix it.”

I nodded. “I like to think she and Rhett patched things up eventually … maybe he came around.”

“Nah…” she sighed. “Personally I always hoped he realized that Belle loved him like he should have been loved all along and went back to her, begged forgiveness for not loving her right away, and they lived fantastically ever after.”

“And of Scarlett?”

She shrugged. “I hope she found peace somewhere. She always did seem highly strung,” she laughed, kissing me again, this time letting her hands wander, and I let her, with pleasure.

Talk of Scarlett died down when we decided to take advantage of being wet and naked, and I carried her to our bedroom to get down to business. I loved getting down to business with her. We’d established a rhythm early on. Of course like any couple there were the times when sexy wasn’t back and all we wanted to do was pass out and be grumpy, but we made a conscious effort where our sex life was concerned. We both enjoyed it too much to want to take it for granted, and eight months in I was happy to say no rut had been fallen into, and we were still enjoying discovering new things about each other; something I really hoped we wouldn’t lose.

“Not there, there…” she said, shifting herself slightly on top of me, holding the headboard over my head for leverage. “Ah … ah … yes … I…”

“There?” I smiled, knowing where I’d hit and just how I’d hit it. Her breathing got faster, and her rhythm got more frantic, and that’s when I intervened deliberately to slow her down.

“No … faster … I’m almost…”

“No …” I said, knowing that that turned her on even more. She got mad, then she got hot, then she’d come. She didn’t realize I knew this of course, but I could play her like a fiddle, and this was one of those times. Instead of letting her come, I flipped us up and over, landing her with a thud on our pillows, still riding her slowly, never once pulling out. I knew it had to be hell for her, being so, so, close and no cigar. I hid my smirk in her neck as I kissed her gently, my own breath as laboured as hers, still fucking her excruciatingly slowly.

“I hate you … you always do-”

Before she could finish I switched my pace, fucking her harder and faster than before, making her boobs do that amazing bounce thing they did that I found very pleasant indeed.

“Jesus Christ … Oh God! OH GOD!” she screamed, and I tried to keep myself together as her nails dug into my back, into my hair, onto the sheets, basically anything she could try and hold on to she did, as I fucked her through her orgasm and into my own. With no housemates to worry about we could be as loud and as proud as we wanted, and both of us were certainly that, and often.

Finding my breath, I pulled out of her as gentle as I could. We were both spent and happy. Her skin was flushed red, her eyes glazed and happy, and her hair … well her hair was certainly ‘sexed,’ or it went through a hurricane, either way, she looked happy.

“Mmmmm,” she said, probably mostly to herself. “I love that feeling.”

“What feeling?”

“Of you, inside me … there with me as we do that, as we come, it’s sort of beautiful.”

“Post-orgasm you, is a whimsical you, huh?”

She smiled, her eyes still closed. “I don’t care, I just like it.”

“I like it too,” I whispered, pulling her softly to my chest, both of us still in a jelly like state.

“I wanna like it forever, can we like it forever?” she sighed, half asleep, and I know she didn’t mean it literally … mainly because no one lives forever. But I took it as, as literal as I could. Could we really go like this for as long as we could? What would forever mean for us? We never talked about changing our relationship; mostly because we were both happier than we’d ever been with the way things had turned out. Neither of us was really willing to ‘jinx’ anything by changing anything. But, it got me thinking as I drifted off to sleep that night. What would the future hold for us? Would she want to get married again? Would I? I’d never been married. I never thought I’d find someone that I’d want to spend that much time with, but I think that I’d found her and now I just didn’t know what to do with it all. I didn’t want to jinx anything, but at the same time I didn’t want to invalidate my love for her by running away from the big stuff. Kids were another thing. I never thought about kids before, with any of the women I’d been with. The most I’d thought about that subject would be if I’d been with other women and I wished so hard right then and there that she wasn’t pregnant, but now, now things were polar opposites of how they were for me. Would I want kids? Would she? What if we disagreed? What if it was a huge deal and neither of us could get past it? And that right there is how I managed to cock-block my own post-orgasm bliss, by ‘what-iffing’ myself to death. Sometimes I really fucking hated my brain. I knew the questions would be answered, but the real question was could I handle the answers?


A/N: So do we like them as a couple? Need to see more of that? Let me know what you think, Loves! xox


Chapter 21: Chapter 21


Southern Belles Chapter 21! A surprise to us all, including me. I just whipped this out today, and it’s un-beta’d so, be kind. I haven’t posted these two in a while, all loved up as they are! I hope you enjoy and review, and I also hope you all had a great start to the new year, and if not, we’ve 365 days to fix that! xox

SPOV:

A month later, and I was doing the one thing I thought I’d never do. I was packing to go home, to Louisiana. I’d booked three weeks off, and I wanted to spend them with my Gran. I missed her; I wanted to see for myself that she was as ‘fine’ as she protested that she was. Eric and I had discussed me going back, numerous times, and every time I came to the conclusion that it was something I had to face, alone. He and I had been great, never before had being with a man felt so easy, so right. We had our moments, of course, we were still human and I was still argumentative as all hell, and he knew how to push those buttons like no one else. But, for the most part, we were great. Laying in bed, back in Eric’s apartment in Monte Carlo, we were going over what I’d do when I got back, again.

“Will you see him?” He asked, not looking at me this time.

“Alcide?”

“Mmm.”

“I assume I will, I mean, it’s a small place where we all lived, I’d be surprised if I didn’t see him.”

Oh…” Eric said, picking fluff from the blanket, sounding very much a wounded puppy.

“What’s with the face? I don’t care about Alcide, you know?”

“No, I know…” he didn’t sound so convinced, “I just don’t like the idea of him being there with you.”

“He’s not going to be ‘with me’ are we forgetting something? I don’t love him, oh, and he’s gay!” I smiled, rubbing his cheek, his blond scruff getting thicker by the day.

“I guess, I don’t know, I just don’t like the idea of you facing the lions alone.”

I shrugged, “I grew up with those lions, I know how to tame them if needs be. Besides, I’m going to stay with Gran, and just spend some time with her, I miss her…”

“Do you miss other things from home?”

“I …sometimes I do get a little homesick, but, Sweetie…” I threaded my hands in his, “I love what I do, and I love being where I am, and I love, more than anything else, who I’m doing all that with.”

He smiled, a sort of a shy smile, almost as if he didn’t believe it.

“Would you rather do all that from New Orleans?”

No.”

“No?”

“No, I grew out of that place a long time ago, If I were going to go back, I’d go back to New York, or maybe California somewhere, but not back to the South.”

He nodded, “I hope you have a nice time, with your Gran…”

“I hope I will too.”

“Will…” he didn’t finish what he was going to ask.

“Will, what? Come on, spit it out?” I joked, deciding I’d continue the conversation straddling him, at least then he’d have to look me in the eye.

“Spit. It. Out.” I said, punctuating each word with a quick kiss.

“It’s lame…”

“Look how many fucks I give?”

He laughed, “I just wondered, you know, if you’d…miss me, when you’re there.”

I raised a brow at him, and he actually blushed.

“Eric…”

“I know its dumb okay? But, this is the first time you and I have actually been apart for more than a few nights, since we got together, and I guess it feels weird.”

He was right, it was weird, I didn’t want to leave him, but I had to go, and he had to work. My internship assistant job was up, and as it stood I was under review for the job, I was shoe -in but there was still no real guarantee.

“Its a few weeks, and we have all kinds of ways of keeping in touch.”

“None of those ways let me actually touch, though.”

“That’s true, but, I’m here now… and,” I placed both his hands on my bra, “you can touch all you want.”

“I guess I should make the most of it, all of this,” he said, letting his hands roam up and down my body, from my neck down to my thighs as I sat on top of him allowing him to enjoy the view.

“Mmm, you should, because for the next three weeks it’s just gonna be you and your right hand, all sad, alone, and lonely without me…” I giggled, slipping off my bra and pushing his boxers down a little, fondling him to get the reaction I wanted.

“Unless of course you get so desperate, you take Alexei up on one of his many offers…” I joked, and that just earned me a glare.

“I’m kidding…Aww!” I said, kissing his cheek, pulling back to see him still pouting at me, I found it hilarious, “its okay, baby…its okay.” I never called him baby, we both hated it, but I knew it would just rile him up even more, “I’ve already had one gay boyfriend, I don’t really want to encourage another one…” with that he just flipped me over, making my head spin, “I’m going to ignore your obvious manhandling in order to stay in control of the situation, and thus stop me making fun of you, and just enjoy this…” I said, with a straight face to his perplexed one.

I just laughed, “Carry on…” I said, caressing his back, up and down, trying my hardest to stop poking fun at him, but at the same time not wanting to make my leaving that big of a deal for us. It wasn’t, it was a short break away to see my Grandmother, and my relationship was thankfully intact.

“Sweetheart, you’ve been acting weird for a few weeks now, I’ve ignored it because I read somewhere that men get PMS too –” his brows knitted together, and he looked even more confused, “but seriously, if it’s about me going away then you have nothing to worry about…you trust me right?”

“Of course I do…”

“Even given how we started?”

And there, I did it, I just killed the mood. Sometimes I’m convinced my brain is out to get me. He stiffened, and not where I needed, “What do you mean how we started…?”

I just raised my eyebrow, “how I cheated on him, with you.”

“Technically you didn’t –”

“In my heart, I cheated on him, and that’s worse to me than some technicality on timing and whether or not we were a couple when I did it. The point is, is that I did it.”

He nodded, “I don’t worry that you’re going to cheat on me, I’m secure enough to know that you love me for me, and that my love for you is enough, and we work at it, and we communicate…I’m not worried about that.”

“So then what?”

“I just worry that maybe this isn’t what you want, I don’t mean me…” he clarified quickly and continued, “I mean don’t you want to be married, have kids? A solid home in one place? I just don’t know because we’ve not really talked about that, and I know it’s been a little while, in the scheme of things, but… I feel that with all we’ve been through, we know we’re right for each other…and maybe we should be talking about grown-up things like that.”

Well that surprised me, that’s for sure. Not only that he was keeping all that in, but how fast he got it all out.

“Well, do you wanna talk about that, now?”

“No,” he said, scowling himself more than me with his tone, “I wanted to have hot sex with my hot girlfriend before she flies off for three weeks and I’m left here alone in a cold bed, but now my stupid brain won’t shut up, I hate my brain.”

I smiled climbing off him, to snuggle in under the covers, my hand on his chest.

“What do you want, Eric? Do you want a home, and a wife, and some babies? I’ve already done the marriage thing, and it kind of sucked the first time, so I haven’t been real excited about the idea of doing it again…”

He nodded.

“I just, I love you, and I love us how we are, and how where we are in our relationship feels right and natural and easy. Love, being with a guy, being ‘the girlfriend’ always felt like pressure to me, before. But, with you, it just feels right. I don’t need someone to tell me it’s not right without a ring, not this time, but I wouldn’t hate the idea if it’s something you thought you wanted.”

He shrugged, “I don’t want to jinx us, and honestly five years ago this was the last idea in my head, being a husband, or a dad…”

“And now?”

“Well, now there’s you.”

I blushed.

“And now, there’s us, and you’re right. That easy feeling? I feel it too, I never realized before that’s what it was, but I’d like progression to be …an option. Not today or tomorrow, but, that we’d be both open to it, if it felt right.”

He needed reassurance that we were both on the same page. That I could give him, hell, I could give him that in spades. With the other men and with Alcide in particular, it took me a long time to realise that I wasn’t on the same page as them, and with Alcide, I wasn’t even in the same book. With Eric though, I knew we were there together and that we both wanted each other enough to work at it. Reassured and content, my playful lover came back to his old self again, and was not so subtle about what he wanted.

“Eric, I want to be with you, the rest is just details.”

He smiled, “but not in Louisiana.”

“I need to go back alone, first. I need to prove to myself that I can do it alone. I walked out of there alone, I have to walk back the same, you know?”

“No, I really don’t, but I have faith that you can do it, you can do anything.”

“Flattery will get you everywhere…” I said, kissing him deeply, resuming our regularly scheduled programming and allowing my lust to take me away with him.

Falling easily into a pattern that was uniquely ours, I felt the tension ease from his shoulders and soon we were a mess of lips, and kisses, moans and breathlessness, all in the best possible way. I held on to the headboard, spreading my knees that little bit further apart, losing myself in sheer sensation as his lips kissed down my spine, his hands squeezed my butt, then a slap, then another squeeze, as his fingers worked me to panting chaos, preparing me for him as best he could for that angle. Whenever we’d switch things up, it always struck me that for such a big man – in every sense of the word, Eric could be incredibly gentle and submissive when I needed him to be, and then there were other times, times like this when I just literally went along for the ride. It was another section of our relationship that was so unlike any other I’d had, I trusted him with my life, and I trusted him to see me vulnerable, completely. Which is why I took us both by surprise that night, and took it from light ass touching, to a full on demand for anal. His face was priceless, and hilarious.

“I…I… really? I mean, I don’t…. didn’t think you’d…that we’d…and that was cool, I was fine with that I mean we do a LOT of other things… I hope you’re not just doing this cause you think I want to, I mean I love your ass, and we dance around it… but…”

I put my fingers to his lips, he was flustered, “I just…want to try it out, see how I like it, for the right reasons this time…” I rolled my eyes, “I trust you to be gentle with me…that and I just bought a shit ton of new lube the other week.” I smiled, “if I hate it though we stop, deal?” And I’d been waxed and bleached by a new technician, and it seemed like a good time to go there now that it was as pretty as something like that could ever get, let’s be real.

“You’ll tell me if it’s too much though, right?”

I nodded, he knew I would. We’d skirted around ass touching and tasting as it were once or twice, and while it wasn’t on the to-do list every time, it wasn’t something I was now so against. This seemed like the logical next step.

Thirty minutes later, we were lubed, prepped, played, and as relaxed as we were going to get. At first it hurt, there was a lot of pressure, a lot of ‘this isn’t supposed to be here what the fuck are you doing?’ from my body, and my instinct. But then, slowly, very, very slowly, it started to feel nice. Really nice actually, it helped that Eric wasn’t pounding me like a three dollar hooker, and it also helped majorly that he wasn’t harbouring some same sex pent up frustration to take out on me, and my ass, too. I was sure I’d hurt in the morning, ache but in a good way – even if I did have his finger prints on my hips, it was from a great experience this time, and for that I was thankful. I felt his torso against my back as he thrust a little harder, and I thrust back as best I could, I wasn’t a spectator, not this time, he was hot, sweaty and struggling for breath. It felt amazing. Deafened by our own moans we crumbled into a mass of jellied giddiness. I was thankful that Alexei and his boy were out dancing, not that they’d have cared – hell they’d have even cheered as they did some times, but I wasn’t that relaxed about sex that I didn’t care who heard us. Eric kissed me on the mouth once more before he hopped out of bed and into the bathroom, I wasn’t sure what he was doing in there until a few minutes later, he came in with a my beach towel in hand, “what are you –”

Before I could answer he’d swept me up into his arms, sheet an all, and was taking us to the bathroom, where a bubble bath sat waiting for me. He’d used Alexei’s bubble bath, that really expensive stuff he’d gotten in Paris – Eric was screwed when he found out. But, as it stood, I just enjoyed his sweet gesture, as I was a little sore, and this was welcomed. I climbed in and blew some bubbles at him.

“You gonna leave me here all alone?” I fake pouted, as I tied by hair up in a knot on top of my head. It didn’t take him long, his long legs, sliding either side of me, and taking up most of the sunken bathtub, not that I minded, in fact I didn’t mind at all. I slid over to his side, using him as a giant human bath pillow and letting him wash me. Wash me, feel me up, sometimes I was never sure what we were doing, either way, I liked it.

“So, in a few days you’ll be State side.” He said, running his hands to my neck and down again, soaping me up right nice.

“Mmmm…Missing all this… why do I want to go there again?”

He smiled, “It’s all a giant trick to keep you here, it is my master plan.”

“All you need is an evil laugh and you’re set.”

He evil laughed and it made me laugh.

“Christ, you’d make an awesome Dracula, you know that?”

With that I got some teeth to the neck.

“Okay, easy there Cowboy.”

“First I’m a vampire, and now I’m a Cowboy? Hmm.”

“Well, you do know how to ride…” I snorted.

“My, MY Sookie Stackhouse don’t be so crude, remember you’re going back to the Bible belt such talk will be frowned upon!” he said, in his best Southern accent – which was horrible. I just slapped his arm, and we grew quiet, just enjoying our bath in some really nice smelling expensive bubble bath.

“You’ll do fine, I know you will.”

I sighed, I kept telling myself that, but I was dreading it. Not seeing my Gran, or my Dad, but facing everyone else, all the awkward that awaited me. Well I guess, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and I loved my Gran enough to trowel through their bullshit to get to spend some time with her, it would be worth it, right?


A/N: Nothing says Happy New Year like some… anal sex o.0, at least for these two lol! Reviews are adored!


Chapter 22: Chapter 22


EPOV:

It was her last night there with me; all bags had been packed and re-packed before we headed out. I wanted to spend it alone, just us doing our thing, but my plans were trumped by Lafayette’s need to throw her a party, which she managed to talk down from a full on rave, to just dinner and some drinks. He wasn’t happy, but respected her wishes not to be drunk getting on a super long flight. So there we were, dressed up and dreading her not being there the next night, or the night after that. Call me a total sap, but I’d gotten really attached to my girlfriend and I didn’t want her to go. Logically I understood that she had to, and why she wanted to face it all alone. I loved her independent streak, and I loved that even though we loved each other, she wasn’t going to let me take that from her. She held my hand under the table though, even if she was in deep conversation with the women to her left, I was on her right, and she didn’t forget about me. I kept it light, talking away, and generally being my sociable self, even if inside I felt utterly miserable.

“You’re both disgustingly adorable, you know that?” Lafayette said, noticing us.

“Yes, I know thanks,” I grinned, over the top even for him.

He rolled his eyes, “I mean, it hasn’t even been a year yet, and already it seems like you’re in it for the long haul, even if your Lady Love is flying to the other side of the

world tonight.”

“Thanks for the reminder…”

“Aww, you’re so cute, you’ll be fine. She’ll leave and you’ll remember what it was like to have some balls and be a somewhat manly man again.”

“I know you think I’m manly La, so you can drop the fake insults.”

He smiled, “this …is true. But, either way, I do hope she comes back, I have a position at the magazine that needs filling…of course I have to fly to the States myself

next week, expansion plans.”

“How’s that going?”

“Really well, we were held up for a long time with concept ideas, but we seem to have a good vibe. Appealing to the hipster, Brooklyn dweller in the crowd, with high incomes and low expectations.”

“That sounds…”

“Just like me? Well, I aim to please, even if I only ever please me, Sugar.” He winked and I had to laugh, his philosophy had served him well so far, why break it. It was

dessert and goodbyes before we knew it, and then we called back to my apartment to collect her things. We never had ‘offically’ moved in together, she spent more

nights at mine because if felt ‘homeier’ to her than her place, even though I was the one with the housemate, and the annoying dog. She loved it, and so when her

lease ran out, we simply let it. There was no big talk, no big decision, just a natural, sensible progression. I liked it. But now, she was going, even for a bit, and Alexei was beside himself.

“Oh Sookie!” he said, throwing himself at her as we came in the door, highly dramatic as always, “I just simply do not know what I’m going to do when you go-”

What he was going to do?

“I mean this a one, he is just so broody and sour when you’re not around, I don’t know if I can go back to that, the misery Sookie, it was almost too much!” he rambled,

his accent in fine form, over exaggerating his pronunciation of every other word.

“I’m sure he’ll be fine, Sweetie, it’s only for a few weeks, then I’ll be back and it’ll be as if I was never gone!” She smiled at him, looked at me with wide eyes and a

smirk before she hugged him again. “Besides, he has Petal to keep him company, he won’t miss me.”

“Petal does love Eric that is true,” Alexei mused and it made Sookie giggle as she said goodbye to the annoying yappy dog.

“Okay, let her go Alexei, we have to get to the airport…”

“You know he’s just going to mope around here in his sweatpants once you’re gone don’t you? And watch awful films and just –”

“Okay, bye.” I said, pushing him back in the door again, as I picked up Sookie’s two suitcases, and she had her carry on.

“He’s sweet…” she said, sighing as we got to the car.

“Yeah, he’s sweet, but he’s also extremely annoying.”

“He cares about you, that’s not a bad trait to have, even if he is a little full on. I’ll be glad there’s someone here to take care of you,” she said, sweetly, patting my hand. We rode to the airport in comfortable silence, it was getting late, but then again she had a very late or very early fight, however you looked at it. When we got to

the airport and got everything checked in, I got super anxious, and didn’t really want to let her walk through the gates.

“Three weeks,” she whispered, kissing my cheek discreetly, but if she thought I was letting her away with just that, she was a fool. I held her in place, and planted the

deepest kiss I could on her, since we were in public an all. Lifting her off her feet for a second, before I finished cradling her face softly, when she finally opened her

eyes.

“Look at you, sending me off with unforgettable kisses… Best boyfriend ever,” she smiled and kissed me again. “I’ll call you as soon as I land, both times.”

Right, plane exchange was a bitch.

“Do… be safe okay? And tell your Gran, Hi from me…and tell Alcide he’s an asshole, from me.” I smiled and she just rolled her eyes.

“I…will, and… I won’t!” and with one more kiss she sauntered off where I wasn’t allowed to go. I missed her already, and not to become too much of a busted whipped

stereotype, but I did go home and I did get into my sweats, and I did watch bad movies on my laptop until I fell asleep after a pint of ice-cream, so sue me. Three

weeks seemed like a long time, it wasn’t until those three weeks were up that I would realize just how long it would actually be before I saw her again, and then three

weeks seemed like nothing.

SPOV:

Getting off my final plane ride felt like as if I was dying of thirst and was just thrown into the sea, in other words, it felt fucking amazing. I almost wanted to kiss the

ground when I got there, for I hated flying more than words could express. They really needed to get a move on with that whole teleporting nonsense. Rental car, and

my first American McDonalds in almost a year and a half, and I was well on my way to my Gran’s house. I’d told her I was coming to visit, but I hadn’t really given her a

definite date. I wanted to see for myself if things really were as ‘fine’ as she wanted me to believe. Having spoken to Jason he’d told me that Dad had moved to his own

place – at her insistence. Apparently he was too old to be living with his mother, on the road to divorce or not. That surprised me, and it also made me wonder if I’d be

as welcome as I once had been. I arrived in town just before noon on that Tuesday in September, and I was struck almost instantly with just how much things hadn’t

changed. It felt strange, I felt strange, as if I was a stranger coming into town, only this was the town I was born and raised in. Disconcerting to the max. I stuck my cell

on speakerphone, and waited for Eric to answer, he wanted me to call, no matter the time difference, so I did.

“Hello?” his gruff, clearly asleep self said.

“Hey, Love. All landed, all fed, all on the way to hell.”

He smirked, “That’s good, flight okay?”

“No, I’m so flipping for an upgrade on the way back, I keep fooling myself with business class, and let’s face it for that long on a flight, I’m going to need to be a VIP.

God awful seats.”

“Other than that?”

“Well, we landed, so I guess that’s a good sign. I rented a car, I figured it would be cheaper than getting cabs everywhere, I’m not far from home now though, I guess another ten minutes, I just hope she’s happy to see me.”

“She will, don’t worry about that. She loves you.”

“I know, it’s just…” Looking out the window, I spotted Tara and her three kids coming out of a store, my heart started to beat really fast, “I just hope it goes smoothly,

I didn’t exactly leave on the best of the best with people, and if anything these people know how to do, it’s hold a grudge.”

“You’ll be fine, I know you, you can face them, and if it gets too rough, call me and I’ll be on the next plane to kick their asses.” I could hear him smile, and it made me

smile too, “I hope it doesn’t come to that, Eric, but if it does, you’re first on the list.”

“Good…”

“I love you.”

“I love you too, call me later?”

“Will do, go back to sleep.”

“Mmmhmm.” He said before we both hung up and I pulled up outside my Grandmother’s house. It needed painted, and the grounds weren’t as neat as they once had

been, but it was still there. I was excited about seeing her, wondering how she’d react. But, as I called out, no one answered me, so I went in search of her throughout

the house, only to find no one home. Not that it was unusual to find the doors open in this part of town; I still expected to find some signs of life on a week day in this nice weather.

“Gran? It’s Sookie, you home?” I called again, and again no answer, so I went searching down by the old barn and the garage, and that’s when I found her. Sitting on

an old chair in the barn, in her nightie.

“Gran?”

She looked dazed, and shocked to see me, “Sookie? Sookie is that you?”

“Yeah, it’s me, what are you doin’ out here? Where are your shoes?”

Or clothes, or shawl.

No one came into the barn, they hadn’t in a long time, and we’d used it for storage and nothing else, she had no reason to be out there at all, least off all alone. I

walked over to her and felt her skin, she was freezing. God knows how long she’d been out there.

“Are you really home? Honey?”

“I’m home, come on, come inside with me, and I’ll make you some nice hot tea, how does that sound?”

“Oh, that does sound nice, darlin’ it’s so good to see you again…It’s been ever so long…”

“I know, Gran, I know…” I said, willing my tears to retract as I cuddled her, and helped her from the bottom of the property, back into the house.

A half an hour later, I had her washed up, changed and sitting in her chair with her second cup of hot tea, and a few large sandwiches. The house was a mess, not just

outside, but inside as well, the fridge barely had the essentials, I was going through the emotional ringer because it seemed to me that Gran had been on her own for

quiet some time, and that bothered me more than anything.

“Has Jason been by lately?” I asked, turning on the TV.

“Oh, Jason, yes, he and his wife call occasionally… I don’t like her.”

Most of us didn’t.

“When was someone last here? Maxine? Daddy?”

“Your father… I forced him to grow up, I made him move out. And Maxine is no longer welcome in my home.”

That shocked me, as nosy as she was, I thought Gran considered her a friend.

“Why’s that Gran?”

“They tried to ship me off, to the Looney bin, Sookie!” she said, full of indignation.

“They what?”

“Well, they called it a ‘luxury retirement home’ but I know what those places really are. Bunch of kids hired to drug up old people and beat us and starve us until we die.

No Sir, I was not going.”

“Oh, Gran…”

“So they can just kiss my old ass. I’m not movin’ from this house, unless it’s in my box do you hear me? They better not have sent you to try and make me go, Sookie

Stackhouse, I won’t have it!”

“They didn’t, no one sent me, it’s okay, I’m not sending you anywhere, okay?”

She nodded, calming back down, and I found TCM on the TV and it seemed to distract her while I did my best to tidy around the house as best as I could. I would need

to do a supply run, big time. I checked up stairs and everything was covered in a thin layer of dust, so I opened the windows and stripped the beds, and loaded a

massive pile of laundry. Jet lag be damned, I had things to do, my Gran would be affronted if she really saw her home like this. I could sleep when I was dead.

Four hours after I arrived I managed to get Gran to go into her downstairs bedroom, for a nap, while I escaped to the store. I’d loaded up a cart at Wal-Mart, with

everything we could possibly need, and more than a few things we probably wouldn’t. Thus was the nature of that damn store, it had things you didn’t even know you

needed! It was there that I ran into Hadley, and her little girl Stella. She screamed my name from an aisle apart, and she looked so beyond excited to see me, her kid

just looked confused and stunned. I knew the feeling.

“SOOKIE! Oh, my GOD look at you, you’ve gotten SO skinny! Girl, why didn’t you tell me you were back home!” She said grabbing me into a big hug.

“I guess I didn’t think I’d be all that welcome, considering how things went down at your weddin’.” Wow I guess my accent came back when I did, huh?

“Oh pish posh, that’s ancient history, but it sure was memorable! I’ll never forget the look on your momma’s face!”

I smiled, it was pretty priceless.

“We’ve moved, you know? Further on out, I hardly ever see those girls these days, I got a whole new set of friends from Stella’s Mommy and Me, much less bitchy… well

…still bitchy but just less.” She rolled her eyes, “You back staying with your Mom?”

“Hell no, I’m staying with Gran.”

“She let you in?” she looked stunned, “we tried a lot to see her, but she just flat out refused to let any of us in the damn house, and she’s a good shot with the gun,

we didn’t want her to pull the –”

“She threatened you with a gun?”

“A few months back, and before that too, we were just callin’ by to see if she needed a ride to church.” She shook her head, “I just hope that she listens to you, she’s a

stubborn old woman, who won’t admit to needin’ the help she needs.”

I shook my head, that didn’t sound like my Gran at all. I guess things do change.

“Please call, I’m here for a few weeks, but then I’m going back, I’d really love to catch up, and I’m sure once Gran knows y’all aren’t trying to ship her off somewhere

she’ll be her old self. I’d really like to spend some time with you and this little one!” I said, grabbing her tiny hand and shaking it, she looked at me curiously, the

spitting image of her mom. We said our goodbyes and she promised she’d call. It was a relief having seen her; at least she wasn’t mad at me, which was something.

I got back home and started peeling some potatoes to make us both some much needed dinner, some chicken fried steak was just what we both needed, or maybe it

was just what I really wanted. Some home cookin’ back home.

I fought my fatigue with much needed caffeine, and soldiered on, checking on Gran to find her sitting up in bed, looking at some old photographs.

“Your Grandfather was a handsome man, Sookie, wasn’t he?” I crawled in beside her and started flicking through the album too. Lots of photos of us as kids, my dad,

her and Granddaddy, it was a life in a little brown book.

“He sure was. You too, so beautiful, more beautiful than any of the girls nowadays.”

“We took care of ourselves better than, and our mother’s wouldn’t let us leave the house without a girdle, sometimes two!” she exclaimed.

“And it showed, look at that tiny waist!”

She petted my hair out of my face, looking at me for a long time.

“You’re not like the others, Honey that much was always clear, even when you were a little girl. But you always cared far too much about what they thought of you,

when you shouldn’t give a damn. You’re special, My Sookie, and it shows.”

“You’re special too, Gran. There’s no one on earth like you, never will be,” I said, this time letting my tears go, and hugging her tight and hard for a long time before she

broke our silence.

“Is that chicken fried steak I smell?” she said with a smile, making me smile. I guess for now she was back to her old self. I just had no idea how long it was going to

last, this time, or what would happen next time, or if I could handle it. I guess God never threw at you what you couldn’t handle, and we’d see just how much I could

handle.


A/N: Little thank you for all the reviews on the last chapter, and a quick hello to some of the new readers that have found my stuff! Hi! Welcome aboard, and I hope you continue to like my stuff *bats lashes* Hopefully this chapter a day business keeps up! Fingers crossed! xox


Chapter 23: Chapter 23


Hey guys! New chapter time! Don’t forget I’ve been kindly asked to join a chat for my writing with the FangreadersChat on Sat 14th of Jan 9pm GMT (4pmEST) so if you’d like, I’d love it if you stopped by! I’ll try and put the URL in my profile, I’ve also listed it on my blog (Myfictionalmusings) over on wordpress!

Enjoy the newness, reviews are adored, I love hearing what you think!

xox

SPOV:

Two and a half weeks just seemed to fly by; I spent my days with Gran, and my nights alone. It wasn’t exactly ideal, but the more time I spent with her, at the house, fixing it up the best I could with what I had, the more I noticed Gran returning to her old lucid self. I busied myself cleaning, fixing, cooking, and gardening trying to keep my mind occupied, and of course in an attempt to get the house back to rights. My father had called, still stuck working, now in Dallas for another week, and utterly annoyed that he wouldn’t get to see me before I left. I knew word had spread across town that people had seen me. I knew because Hadley had called a few times, telling me how Tara, Sarah, and Claudine had all called her asking if it were true. So, everyone well and truly knew, and my mother still made no attempt to call, nor I to call her. I didn’t really care, yes I missed my mother because she’s my mother, but I didn’t miss the eye of disgust and judgement and I was honestly just not in the mood for her bullshit. Talking to Eric every night just wasn’t the same as seeing him, as being next to him, in taking comfort in his arms. And to make matters worse couldn’t even Skype because apparently Internet didn’t live where my Gran did, but we did our best to keep each other up to date, even if I figured out early on that Eric just wasn’t a fan of talking on the phone. I understood it, he was always big on eye contact, or on contact in general, phones frustrated him.

And then it happened, I woke up on my second Sunday there, wanting to get ready for Church with her, since we’d both skipped the previous session, to find she wasn’t in her room. She wasn’t in the house. She was a half a mile away, by the lake, in her nightie. I did my best to bring her in, in the car, wrapping her up, drying her as best as I could with the blankets in the trunk, but it was too much. She didn’t know who she was this time, or where she was, but when I brought her back and put her into a hot shower all the while trying to hold off my own breakdown, and then when she recognised my face I just let the tears fall silently.

“Sookie? Sookie what are we doing?” She asked, as I showered her, while I stood there fully clothed getting soaked myself.

“We’re getting you warmed up Gran, you were freezing. How long had you been out there?”

“Out where? I can shower myself you know!” She seemed embarrassed and I didn’t blame her when she was at herself was a very proud woman. I simply stood out, and let her finish herself, where as before, I had to get into the cubicle with her because she wouldn’t even stand up for me. This was far too much for one person to deal with, I needed more help, and I needed it soon. I got her tucked up in bed again, with some hot tea, and some cake for her sugar levels, and some magazines. She seemed fine, utterly content, so why was she wandering?

I called Maxine, the neighbour and person she’d relied on most for day to day things, she was a friend, but then she wasn’t, and I needed to know what happened. Over a cup of coffee, and some chocolate cake that she brought, we sat at the kitchen table an hour later. Maxine was a large typically southern woman, nosy to a fault but with a heart of gold underneath. She thought she knew everyone’s business (and sometimes she really did) and couldn’t mind her own. But, she wanted to help; I could see that much was genuine.

“Sookie, I don’t know what to tell you, I came by with your mother, and all hell broke loose when I left them alone to go make some tea. I came back, and Adele had the shot gun out, and was kicking us out. I didn’t want to get shot, so, I left.”

“Did my mom?”

“No, she left a few minutes later, I don’t know what was said, but whatever it was, they were both shaken when I drove us away…” she said, implying with her usual subtle as a brick manner, as she sipped her coffee.

“I see.”

She nodded.

“Listen, Maxine I’d really like it if you’d stick around, I can get Gran up and ready, and maybe we can try and fix this?”

“I’d like that Sookie, but –”

“I’ve hidden the shot gun…” I said, smiling, and it made her smile too.

“Well, in that case… let’s try and fix this.”

EPOV:

I’d counted down; I’d thrown myself into work and even socializing with Alexei and his crew, getting hit on constantly when I would go for a drink with them, too. But I took it all in my stride, and in a weird way I guess it was flattering, girls hit on me from time to time and now I guess some of the gays liked what they saw too. Alexei was always very protective of me which in it’s own way was sort of hilarious considering I had a good six inches on him as well as actual muscle – but I appreciated it anyway. Sookie and I called each other every night, well, night my time since I was still on the job, and for her, every time she called she sounded more and more tired. That wasn’t what a vacation was supposed to do to you, I thought, and I told her as much each time. She explained the situation with Adele, and how the small changes had led to big changes, and she just wasn’t the woman she remembered most of the time, and most of the time Adele didn’t remember herself either. Her three weeks were almost up, and every time we discussed what we’d do when she got back, things got tense. I wasn’t stupid, I knew Sookie, and I knew what her sense of guilt did to her. It ate her up, and this wasn’t just guilt but it was family responsibility too, which was doubly worse in her mind. In my head I also knew that I should expect a delay, but it still didn’t stop me from getting excited to see her again, I had missed her, and us, being us, and I really just couldn’t wait to roll over in bed and feel her next to me again. So, when I got the call, when she was meant to be at the airport checking in, needless to say I was more than a little bummed.

“Hey…” she said, silence behind her, automatically I knew, but I’d let her tell me.

“Hey, you checked in? I can’t wait to see you tomorrow.” Guilt tripping, me? Never… well…maybe a little.

“Um, yeah, that’s why I’m calling,” I heard her struggle with the words that I knew were coming, “I just… there’s so much that I need to do here still, and I just –”

“You’re not getting on the plane, are you?” I asked, calmly. She sniffled, and was quiet for a few seconds.

“No, I’m not…”

“Any idea when you might decide to come home?” Again, calm as a pond.

“I really… don’t know. I just… Eric if you could see her, and see how she is when I leave, or when someone else tries to take care of her, I mean, it’s just heartbreaking, I can’t leave her alone, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.”

“But it’s okay to leave me, here, alone.”

“That’s not the same thing and you know it. I’m not ‘leaving you’ for anything, I’m just…staying a little longer than planned, that’s all! And you aren’t depending on me to stay alive right now. Look, I feel guilty enough as it is –”

“Do you really? Because how am I supposed to know that you haven’t just found something better back home and are staying to weigh up your options, huh?” Yeah, I regretted that word vomit as soon as it came out and even more when she went silent, deathly silent.

“You did not just say that to me.”

“Sookie –”

“No, you listen to me, Eric Northman, you’re being a total asshole right now, and I don’t think I really want to talk to you, like this. I have things to do here, things that no one else can deal with right now, so no, I’m not flying back just yet. I feel beyond shitty about it, but you know what I have to take care of really the only member of my family that I love and that loves me, so excuse me for being a shitty girlfriend, and excuse you for your insecurities popping out! But you know what, right now this is more important at the moment, and if you can’t see that, then you’re not the man I thought you were… So fuck you.” With that she slammed down the phone, and I was left with nothing but the dial tone.

Well, fuck.

“Tut, tut, tut.” Alexei said, leaning against my bedroom door.

“I don’t wanna hear it.”

“No baby, I can see that, but maybe you need to hear it. Her Grandmother is old, and from what I can tell, the only warm hearted person in Sookie’s family, of course she wants to help her…”

“This is none of your business, Alexei.”

“I know that, but then again most things aren’t my business until I make them my business. You’re my friend, I adore you, you be like…” he gestured with his hands, attempting to find the right phrase, “a brother to me, Eric. A very sarcastic, standoffish brother at first, but you warm up eventually.” He smiled, coming to sit next to me on the bed, Petal in hand.

“Your point… I mean, thank you, that’s very nice, but what’s your point.”

“My point is you silly Swed-merican, is that girl loves you, grumpy standoffish you, goofy you, control freak you.”

“I’m not a –”

“You are, little bit but then she is too, and I’ve seen you both balance each other out. You fight, you makeup.”

“We’ve never fought like this though, not with her thousands of miles away…me stuck here.”

“So … go to her. She clearly needs you if her situation is as you tell me it is.”

“I can’t just leave; I’m booked up with work for the next month at least… Lafayette would kill me.”

“Important jobs?”

“They’re all important.”

“More important than Sookie?” He raised his brow, I guess I wasn’t the only one guilt tripping.

“No, not more important than her, not much else is.” I mumbled, “but the truth is, it would take me at least two weeks to get cover for these jobs, they’re high paying clients, they won’t accept just anyone.”

“Well, then I suggest you put that pretty face, and cute butt to work right now, and work them both to the max to find a replacement, you know what you have to do.”

“You think I don’t want to go to her? I do, I don’t want to apologise over the damn phone.”

“So, don’t. Do it in person.”

I hated when he was right.

SPOV:

“Okay guys, that’s just great there, thank you so much…” I said to the construction crew that had taken over the house in a matter of hours, we were installing a en-suite to my Gran’s large downstairs bedroom, after she’d almost fallen going up and coming down the stairs in the middle of the night. They were working swiftly, but only because Alcide’s site manager was a mean old bastard, who was apparently, scared of my mother’s reputation, and thought I was cut from the same cloth. I’d yet to run into Alcide though, I was both dreading and looking forward to when I did. Looking forward to it, because mostly, once it was done, it was done and I could just get the awkwardness out of the way, dreading for that same reason – the awkward. I’d sent Gran, after a lot of talk, and a lot of tea, to stay with Maxine for a night or two while things got settled in her room. It also gave me a chance to have them repaint it for her, in the same colours of course, but I thought that maybe a fresh coat of paint might cheer her up. I had no idea what I was doing to be honest; I was just trying to make things easier where I could. Speaking of making things easier, I was serving the ice-tea to the guys doing the speediest job in the history of tiny toilets, when the black BMW pulled up, and out stepped my mother, looking as constipated as ever.

“Hello, Sookie.”

“Hi, Mom. Ice-tea?” Let’s ignore the fact that I haven’t see you in over two years, and when I did it ended badly.

“Oh, no I’m fine thank you.” She said, walking up the steps, ignoring the work men that bid her good day.

“Can we talk inside, in private?” she asked, slipping off her sunglasses even though it was over cast and drizzling outside.

“Sure, I don’t see why not…”

I could see many why not’s, but I figured now wasn’t the time to start world war three.

“You look…well,” she glanced at me, up and down as if she were inspecting me.

“Thanks, you too. How’ve you been?”

“Oh, you know…divorced.”

“Mmm, know the feeling.” I smiled, trying to make a joke of it, clearly she didn’t get it, or if she did, she didn’t find it funny.

“Your father has a new…” she gulped, “girlfriend, did you know?”

“No, I didn’t. That must be hard to deal with, but then again you were having affairs left right and centre, so I guess maybe its just karma that he’s moved on.”

She raised her brow in my direction.

“Really, you’re going to lecture ME on having affairs. That’s rich.”

” Isn’t it just!” I said, smiling wide, faking my happiness through sarcasm.

“How is your Grandmother?” she asked, looking around the house.

“She’s fine, she’s with Maxine, they made up.”

“Are you getting her into a home, I hope so, I mean it’s just too much her being her on her own, unable to take care of herself like she is.”

“Is that what you said to her, when she threatened you with the gun?”

She scoffed, “I knew it wasn’t loaded, but yes, the woman has to face facts, she’s not able to do things like she used to. She’s an old woman.”

“You are such a cold hearted bitch, you know that?”

Her eyes widened, “How dare you –”

“No, I do dare, you know why I dare? That woman, her son, took care of you for thirty years, took you into their family, made you one of their own, started you off with the bar when you and Daddy just got married, and this is how you thank her? By sticking her in some God forsaken ‘home’? You’re disgusting.”

“Well, what do you think? You think you’re just going to swan back in here and save her, is that it?”

“I can try! We can all try, it’s the least we can do!”

“Please, and what of your little boyfriend, I’m sure he’s not too thrilled with the idea of you choosing some old crippled woman over him! You’ll never keep him, you know? You and he started with you fucking around with him, he clearly likes easy little sluts, why would he stay faithful to you when you’re all the way here, and he’s’ all the way –”

I didn’t let her finish because I heard the crack, of my palm against her cheek. She attempted to slap me back, but I countered on her ass and twisted her arm.

“Don’t you dare even try it, Mommy Dearest.”

“You’re fucking insane! Just like your crazy ass old Grandmother!” She said, as I took her, by her arm, that was still twisted up her back, and pushed her out the kitchen, to the door, down the porch and onto the ground, where she stood red faced and pissed.

“Yeah, maybe I fuckin’ am crazy, but you know what, at least I feel something! At least I still give a shit! Unlike you, you spoiled, self involved bitter OLD bitch. You are no longer welcome on this land, near this house, or anywhere near Adele, nor me.”

“Sookie!”

“No, I don’t want to hear it. I’m so beyond sick of your shit! I just wanted a mom, a normal mom that cared and had access to her heart, but I see now you locked that shit up and threw away the key years ago. There’s no hope for you! You’re going to end up just as you are now, only worse. Old, bitter and alone, and you deserve it!”

The work men were speechless; I was simply just shaking with rage as I walked in the house and slammed the door, sliding down it, sobbing. Some time, I couldn’t tell you how much time later, but Quinn, the foreman came in through the back door, as timidly as someone his size could.

“Um, Miss Stackhouse?”

I wiped my eyes, “Yes, Quinn?”

“We’re done, I mean we’re about done, we just got to clear out of here… um, Alcide usually comes by to inspect the work, but um, he thought it might be … well that he might be unwelcome.”

I shook my head, “it’s fine, it’s his job, and I won’t bite his head off or nothin’.”

“You sure, the way you handled your Momma makes me think twice about letting him in here.”

I laughed, still wiping my face, as I picked myself up.

“No, it’s fine. Thank you, Quinn.”

“You’re welcome, and I know it’s not my place, but I just think that Alcide is just crazy, letting a girl like you get away.”

“Oh? You like a girl that can throw down, huh?” I joked, but the way he looked at me, made me realize he was serious.

“Oh, no Buddy, not happenin’. I’m involved, very much involved with someone I love very much. I mean we might not be on speaking terms right now, but he’s still there…I’m sorry…if you thought…”

“No… no not at all, I just… well Alcide is still crazy. You have a good evenin’ okay?”

“You too, Quinn, and thank you for your hard work, my Grandmother will love it, I’m sure.”

He nodded and bid me good day.

As I was cleaning up, there was a tap on the door and a clean shaven Alcide poked his head around the door.

“You’re not handing out slaps to everyone, right?”

“Hello to you, too,” I said just finishing up my dishes.

He walked in, looking surprisingly neat, the Alcide I knew was always rough and scruff, and made no apologies for it. He looked different now, tidy hair and clean shaven, in a crisp white shirt with a tan.

“I heard you gave your mother what for, not that I’m sorry about that.”

“Eh, she had it coming, she’s awful…”

He nodded.

“So, you look…lovely…” he said, smiling, “skinny though.”

“Well, you would be too if you lived somewhere where fried everything wasn’t the norm. I just started eating right, and then eating wrong when I need to.”

“I love fried everything, I’ll never give it up.”

“Mmhmm I know, take a seat.” I said, gesturing to the seat by the kitchen table. “Your guys did an amazing job, so fast too. You’ll send me the invoice, right?”

“No, I won’t.” He grinned.

“Huh? Yes, you will.”

“No, consider this one on me, for your Gran. She’s a nice lady.”

“Alcide you can’t be doing jobs for free –”

“I’m not, I’m doing a job for free. That’s all.”

I just glared at him, “Alcide they put the best of stuff in that bathroom, I can’t just let you –”

“Yes, you can. It’s the least I can do. Considering.”

I looked at him, and waited until he looked at me, “Considering nothing, we left things on good terms…”

“But I’m still sorry I put you though that…”

“It’s not like I was innocent, either.”

“No, it’s not, but still, I’ve had a lot of time to think about the choices I made, and why I made them, and I’m sorry you got caught up in it. You deserve better.”

“We both deserve better, we deserve to be happy.” I mused.

“Are you happy?” He asked.

“Right now?” I scoffed, “I’m exhausted right now, but in general, before this, yes, I was very happy –” it had to come out sometime, I didn’t know if he knew about Eric and I. Chances are he did, but was waiting for me to comment on it first. “Where I’m at in my life, right now, and how things are, yes, I’m really happy.”

“With Eric.” He said, no real emotion in his voice but looking straight at me.

“Yes, with Eric. Running into him again, it wasn’t something either of us sought out, but it happened… in the weirdest way it happened, and I just… we just felt like we owed it to ourselves to give it a go, a proper go of things without any resentment or hurting.”

He nodded, “I’m glad, really, I am. I wanted to be pissed, because in my head for the longest time you were still mine, you know?”

I didn’t know.

“But when I heard that you’d… you and he had started up a thing, I thought it wouldn’t last more than a week, bitterly I wanted it to fail because the idea of Eric getting to be with you, even when I couldn’t, just bugged the hell out of me.”

I just glared.

“I don’t mean…like that,” he blushed “just… in general. You’re an awesome woman, Sookie, and I just wish we’d become….friends under different circumstances,” he shrugged.

“I kind of wish that too, all that ‘what if’ questioning would get us nowhere though.”

“We could just try something…a different approach from here on out though?”

“Could we?” I thought it would be too weird, I thought even sitting here would be too weird between Alcide and I, but in truth it felt from my point of view that we were two different people now. We didn’t just look different, what we’d been through both together and apart changed us both, hopefully for the better.

“Yeah, I guess there’s a first time for anything.” I said, smiling, before I offered him a cup of coffee while he inspected his men’s work. First time for anything, indeed. We talked about all manner of things, his regrets, mine, how he was now – still in the closet, but ‘sort of testing the waters’ as well as his dancing around the subject of Eric and I. It was interesting that’s for sure, and not a thing I would have thought would have been possible when I first left.

Gran came back when the room was aired out, and was pleased with the job, as she was with the trip to the Country Fair, Maxine had insisted on doing before they came back a few days later. I still hadn’t called Eric, nor he hadn’t called me. I wasn’t sure what to do, to be honest. The guy, in situations like this, had always been the one to call, and we’d never been thousands of miles apart when a fight would happen, so it made is easier to make up. Now, it was a whole new ball game, and I just wasn’t sure how to play. The days got easier with Gran, it was the nights that were hard, and I had taken to locking all the doors at night, something we’d never done around these parts. It wasn’t a matter of distrust, it was a matter of keeping her inside the house, to stop her wandering and ending up God knows where in the cold or the wet. I just couldn’t take the chance. Jason kept calling, checking up, bringing food and staying until I cooked it for all of us, like old times, only I’d taken over as cook, both of us knew what was up with Gran, and both of us were just so unwilling to say it out loud. Alzheimer’s was such a horrible condition, one I’d gotten information leaflets on to read up a little at least, when I went to pick up her monthly prescriptions for her heart and blood pressure, too. I knew she had it, we all did, the question was how severe it was, and what it would mean for her long term. What would that mean for me, long term too? I wasn’t sure, I knew I loved Eric more than anything, but I also knew he had commitments in a place I couldn’t be, and I understood that he was nothing if not committed to everything he did, even if that meant being less present in my life, I still needed to do this, and he still needed to do that. We were torn apart both physically by distance, and emotionally by choices that in reality weren’t really our choices to make in the first place and that along with how mentally and physically tired looking after Gran made me, well, I was convinced I was losing my mind. I wanted everything to fall into place, but it just looked like it wasn’t going to. A week and a half more went by, still no word from Eric, so I decided to let him be the brat in this instance, and just suck it up. I missed him, even if he didn’t miss me. The clear day had given birth to a dark and stormy night, the rain falling hard and fast, making things automatically seem much bleaker than they probably were. So I settled myself down I called. And I called, and I called some more. The house phone, the office phone, and his cell weren’t answering. I was pissed off, I was emotionally drained and sobbing because my stupid boyfriend wouldn’t answer his phone, I was sobbing because my Grandmother didn’t recognize me, for the fourth time in a week, I was sobbing because it was all too much, and I couldn’t deal with it alone. I ended up sobbing myself to sleep that night, like an emotionally wrecked toddler that wanted comfort. I was awakened at five twenty by a banging noise, jumping up I automatically assumed it was Gran trying to get out, trying to wander, so I slipped on my robe and ran down stairs, only to find the house in darkness, and completely empty. Then the rattling started again, someone was at the front door.

At that hour?

I went from afraid, to annoyed, to elated in about three seconds when I opened the door to a soaked Eric, standing on my porch, with his bags in toe. Then I bust into tears again, I was sensing a theme to that night!


Chapter 24: Chapter 24


A/N: New update guys! Hope you enjoy, and I really hope to get more up soon on this. I want to wrap up at least one story before I even think about starting anything else. I do have ‘Canon’ fic idea that I’ve been toying with, but I think if I ever do end up posting it, it might just be posted here. Canon makes me nervous, that and when you have as many issues with the canon as I do…it just makes it harder. Anyway, enough of that! Update time! Reviews are adored and appreciated as always! xox.

EPOV:

“Come on, please? I know its short notice, but I’m handing you Swedish Royals on a plate here, imagine what it would do for your portfolio. I’m giving you my commission too, what’s not to love?” I tried to sell the idea over the phone to an ex co-worker of mine, Sophie-Anne. She worked exclusively in London, but, I was hoping she’d come and fill in for me for a few weeks at the magazine. The perks of freelance meant she could do this, if I only could manage to convince her. I explained the first shoot, where it was, how she’d get there, she’d love Monte Carlo, they loved it as a holiday destination, it was a big deal for them to do the magazine, and she still wasn’t biting.

“Sophie, please?”

She sighed, “what’s the big deal, shouldn’t you be jumping all over this? I know you, this is good, too good for a portfolio just for you to give it up.

“Something’s come up, something personal and I need a leave of absence, and I’m hoping since I’m giving you this, you’ll give me that.”

She was silent again for a second.

“Fine, whatever, I have a few things to tie up here, and I’ll be on the first flight out on Tuesday, how’s that?”

“That… is amazing!” I beamed, “you’ve just done me huge favour, Soph, thank you!”

“Yeah, yeah…Pick me up at the airport, and have coffee, Starbucks not any cheap shit.”

“Of course. Text me the details okay?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

I got off the phone with her, and over the course of two days I managed to get things in order, it had taken me less time that I thought, less than the two weeks I’d assumed, anyway, but still far too long to be away from where I needed to be.

Picking Sophie up at the airport was the least I could do that and let her take my room while I was gone; Alexei would have to deal with it, since he was the one that caused the epiphany in the first place. I saw her saunter out of the airport, her red hair flying in the wind, her eyes covered by her dark glasses, and she was wearing tight jeans, short boots and a black sweater, she looked comfortable but since it was still Sophie there was a serious amount of cleavage going on too, I chose to ignore than though, in favour of handing her, her Starbucks when she got into the car.

“So, tell me, why are you giving me these jobs? It’s not like you to get in touch, so I was a little taken aback.”

“I have to go back to the States for a bit, it’s a family thing.”

“I didn’t think you had –”

“My girlfriend, her Grandmother is ill, and well, she needs me there.”

She looked shocked, sliding her glasses off her face, I wasn’t sure what shocked her more, the fact that I was seeing someone seriously enough for her to be claimed ‘family’ or that a woman was ill, it was probably the former.

“So who’s the lucky girl then? Do I get to meet her?” she said, slyly putting her glasses back in place.

“No, she’s in the States, it’s why I needed you to rescue me here, I need to take this leave, and I can’t leave Lafayette in the lurch like this, you know?”

“Yeah, no, it’s understandable, I’m just a little surprised that’s all.”

“Why?”

“Oh, you know, you… even doing this is odd. You’ve always been such a lone wolf. I mean trying to hack that shell of yours it’s not the easiest thing in the world.”

She was right there, I didn’t take to strangers easily, though I had no problem making friends, it took me a long time to trust people, women in general. Sookie, I realized, was the exception in every way.

I had my bags packed by the door when I walked in with Sophie, she noticed but didn’t comment, I showed her my room – clean and appropriate having moved all my personal things to some boxes that I’d left in the back hall, out of the way. That’s when Alexei came in, and with one look to Sophie, he asked to talk to me in private before I even got the chance to introduce them.

“Eric, what are you doing? I thought we had ideas! We had plans! And now here you are with some skanky ass fake red head? Please tell me you’ve lost your pretty mind!” he ranted, fast and his accent was as thick as I ever remembered.

“What? You think I’m with Sophie? No!”

“Then why are you sitting in your bedroom with her?”

“She’s staying here for a few weeks, she’s taking over my job while I go to Louisiana!”

He looked suitably bashful then, “oh…”

“Yes, OH. And thanks so much for your faith in me, by the way.”

“No, I do have faith, I just thought you’d lost yours!”

“Well, I haven’t.” I said folding my arms. “I think you should go in there and introduce yourself to your new housemate, don’t you?”

My flight was at ridiculous o clock, so I had time for some proper dinner before I headed back to the airport, Sophie insisted on treating me.

“You know, Eric, I really am surprised, I just can’t get over how you’ve changed since the last time I saw you. This girl, she must be something really special?”

“She is.” I said, tucking into my burger.

“I don’t get to hear about her?”

She’d been niggling at me all day, trying to get information out of me about Sookie. It was starting to weird me out.

“What are you snooping for, Sophie?”

She just rolled her eyes, “I was just…curious, I mean when we had our little…thing… I had hoped to tame you. I’m just…wondering what she’s got, that’s all.”

At least she was honest.

“Sophie, what we had was a drunken fumble when both of us were too out of it to even finish.”

“That carried on for two weeks don’t forget.

“Two weeks and in those two weeks I recall neither of us sobered up for more than an hour.”

“True, but it was fun.”

“Of what little I remember of it, yeah.”

“Damn, you know how to flatter a girl…” she scoffed.

“I’m sorry, but we’ve been friends a long time, when have you known me to be anything other than blunt? It was what it was.”

“And Sookie? She’s got some special Princess vagina or what?”

I just raised by brow at her, not answering.

“Fine, don’t tell me… I hate her on principle, just sayin’.”

“Why?” I laughed; I guess I wasn’t just the only one being blunt.

She just shrugged, “I thought that when you called… well I thought maybe there was some other motive here, I see I got the wrong end of the stick though.”

“More like the wrong stick, this was a strictly work based offer, I need to know if you’re in it for that, or if you –”

“I’ll do the job, I’d be crazy not to.”

“Good, glad we agree on something at least.”

“I can’t say I’m not disappointed though, drunk or not, you’re… interesting.”

I just sighed, “Sorry about the miscommunication though, I never… intended…”

She held her hands up, a shy smile adding to her blush, “Don’t sweat it, seriously.”

We ate in awkward silence until the end of the meal, where I nervously checked my watch, I would have to head to the airport shortly after this.

“Well, have a good flight, and call me if there’s a change…in anything.”

I broke apart our hug, raising my eyebrow at her words.

“Well, can’t blame a girl for trying, can I? This Sookie, she’s a lucky woman, I hope she realizes that…”

“She does…”

I hope she did, I hope I made her feel lucky, like she made me feel lucky. I’d know soon enough anyway, I bid her goodbye, good luck, and set about getting my ass back to the love of my life. Whether she still felt that way about me, after almost two weeks of no communication, was another thing entirely. I tried to blame the burger, but the truth was I was almost sick with nerves. Now or never, I guess.

SPOV:

I stood there stunned, looking at him as he stood there soaked.

“Hey… you lock the doors now?” He asked, looking from me to the door and back again, adorable and confused.

Not the most romantic of openers, but still, he was here, and I was in tears. I rapidly ran towards him, wrapping my whole self around him, even if he was soaked through.

“Sookie, I’m drenched, you’re going to get –”

“Is it really you, you’re really here?”

He pulled back, making me look at him, flicking away my tears gently wearing a soft smile, one I’d been longing to see for weeks.

“I’m here,” he said, sweetly.

“Good, because I’ve had a lot of messed up dreams this week and I really need this to not be one of them.” I said, hugging him tighter, wrapping my legs tighter too.

He walked us in from the porch and into the hallway.

“I’m here, it’s real, I promise. Sookie, I’m so sorry. I was… a brat, and I should have come right away I just –”

“No…” I looked at him, “I couldn’t expect you to just leave your life because of me and my family, no way. That wasn’t far, I just… I don’t want to fight anymore, you’re here… I kissed him long and hard, raking my hands through his dripping hair, down his back and up again, “and that’s what counts.”

He pulled back again, looking me right in the eye, “but that’s the thing, you are my family now, and it does matter, you matter.”

I swear my heart swelled three sizes at his words, and the genuinely sincere look while he said them. I wiped my nose, as sexily as that could be done, and I slid down his body, he really was soaked right through. I held up a finger, for him to wait a second before I tiptoed to the end of the hall and checked in on Gran, she was thankfully still asleep, snoring slightly too. I smiled and made my way silently back to my boyfriend, taking his hand just as wordlessly and leading us both up stairs, and into my bathroom. I turned on the shower, letting the steam heat up the room, fog up the mirror, and drop the large hint to Eric as to what we were about to do.

He grinned as we worked without a sound together, me diligently taking off each of his wet layers, and he, waiting his turn so he could undress me, his eyes sparkling with want, his lip caught between his teeth. It was a sweet kind of hell, I assumed for both of us, having been apart for so long. There was hum of nervousness running undercurrent to the breathless lust it was clear we were both feeling. Clearly because Eric was visually inhaling my body with a feeling of new appreciation, and I … well my hands were shaking as I began to get him less and less clothed and more and more naked, until he was standing in front of me in just his boots and jeans.

He toed off his boots, slowly, while I aimed for his belt, yanking it open and discarding it with a smack on the tile floor. I’d almost forgotten how firm his body was, how hard he worked at it to keep himself strong, but I was reminded and then some when I let his jeans drop to his ankles, he looked at me with a cheeky smile as he stepped out of them, leaving him there in nothing but his tan lines.

He reached for me then, backing me up against the bathroom door gently, his hands everywhere at once. Tugging down my sleep shorts, pushing up my tank top, palming my breasts, tweaking my nipples, kissing my neck, it was all so over whelming.

I pushed him back and back until he was at the foot of the shower, “Get in.” I ordered and he just nodded, quirking his brows at me.

“You’re a little over dressed, Love.”

In a second I’d whipped off my remaining clothing, putting my hands on his chest, pushing him to the back of the shower, under the warm spray of water. He closed his eyes and groaned out loud, by far his sexiest growl next to the one he makes when it’s me making it happen.

“Travelling over five thousand miles, this… oh this…” he said, his eyes still closed as he wrapped his arms around me, pulling me to his chest, “was just what I needed to come home to.”

“Home?” I asked, wondering if it was just a turn of phrase, or something else entirely. I wasn’t fully prepared for what he said next.

With a kiss to the temple, he just shrugged, “Home it’s wherever you are.”

I bit my lip, promising myself that I’d cried enough for one night, but I couldn’t help it, and he saw. Chuckling to himself, “Hey…now come on, it’s a good thing right? I mean sure it’s a little cheesy, but it’s the truth and I –” I stopped his words with a kiss of my own, this time standing on my tiptoes to wrap my arms around him and kiss him with all the love, passion, and swooning I had in me at that second.

“I love you.” I said, making sure he knew I meant it then if he’d ever questioned it before.

He smiled, “I know, it’s why I came, because I love you too, so fucking much, Sook. And it would have been so dumb to let a fight ruin everything we’ve worked to keep. All those months without you before? All I did was wish you’d walk through the door, call me to walk through your door, any sign that you wanted me in your life and I swore to myself I’d be there. And there I was sitting there, acting like that wasn’t true just because I’d had you again… it didn’t mean I got to keep you if I didn’t work at it.”

“I would have done the same for you…”

“I know you would which is why I was glad Alexei made me see just how big a tool I was being. You’re going through something I can’t imagine right now, with little to no help, and here I was making it about me and my insecurities –”

“I would never –”

“I know that, I do. Like I said, I was just being dumb. I’ll be dumb again, we both will, but hopefully not about this – ” he motioned between us, “You’re my family, and that makes Adele family, so that makes it my problem to help solve too.”

“God, you’re so getting laid right now.” I said with a laugh, “Honestly, you need to put this stuff in a book for other boyfriends, sell it, and make a mint! Other boys don’t say this…”

“They do… the sensible ones, the ones that know what they’ve got, they say it.”

“I never met one of them before.” I smiled.

“I know…” He smiled, cocky as ever, in more ways than one, I noticed as he rubbed against me.

“Your shower is small…” he whispered, there was no way we’d be able to actually fuck in there, at least not without breaking something.

“I know, silly people installing it just for getting clean –”

“Instead of getting very, very dirty?” he winked, caressing my cheek, down my neck, to my breasts, as he kissed me, making me tingle all the way to my toes and back. I reached behind me for the soap, pumped it a few times and lathered my hands, working it then into his body slowly, starting with his arms, his chest, shoulders, neck, back down to his abs, then to his thighs. Avoiding the one place he was clearly aching to be touched. Though he made no complaints, just standing there, eyeing me lusciously, closely watching every move I made. He was humming, moaning gently to himself when I’d hit a certain knot in his muscles, as I just got hypnotized by his skin, and zoned out with my repetitive motions. When his large hand creped on to my neck and started to massage, I knew what he was feeling, it felt so good to be taken care of like that, and he was more than willing. He kneaded my skin, turning me around so my back was flush against his chest, as his fingers and thumbs pushed gently into my tense muscles. Slowly, I felt them ease, I felt the tension leave my body and soon I was a pile of mush, barely able to stand up. I hadn’t realized how tired I had been, or exactly how stressed I’d been, but having him here to take care of me, the relief that washed over me, was one I’d never felt before. I needed him, and I suddenly had no qualms in admitting that, to him, or anyone else. Slowly we worked each other over again, this time nipping, kissing, teasing each other chasing that much needed release, and it happened embarrassingly fast – for both of us. Spent and

He took my hand and led me out, wrapping one huge towel around my body and rubbing up and down to dry me off a little before he found one for himself. We towelled off our hair, picked up our things and headed to my bedroom.

“So this is your room?”

He looked around the modest bedroom, there was pink floral wallpaper that had been there since I was about ten, creaky floorboards, and white furniture.

“Yes, Sir. Since I was born practically… I always had a room here, much more reserved than my one with my parents, but it felt more like home here, I could play here, mess things up here, I couldn’t really do that at home without worrying about something getting broken.”

“It’s nice…sweet. Sort of like how I imagine you were as a little kid.”

I scoffed, “Sure, just maybe don’t ask any of my pageant competition days, and we’ll keep thinking that.”

His eyes went wide, turning in to face me, “Really? Were you a little terror?”

I shrugged, “I got into it, for a while, started to believe all the hype. Started to think maybe I really was an entitled little Princess.” I rolled my eyes at myself, and the ridiculous memories.

“What changed?”

“When Mom made me have my nose job, it snapped me out of it, being that young, and being told you weren’t pretty enough…”

“Was that even legal at that age?”

I shook my head, thinking back it probably wasn’t, and it was probably why my doctor came from Mexico to do it, too. Ugh, thoughts of my mother filled me with hate again, I didn’t want to feel hate, I felt loved, that’s what mattered.

“She’s crazy, what can I say… But let’s not talk now, let’s just sleep.”

“Yes… please. I mean, don’t get me wrong I really, really, want to carry on what we were doing in there…” he sighed, and I got it. Exhaustion won out, at least tonight.

“No, you’ve been travelling for ever, I’ve been up since seven… no let’s just sleep okay? We’ve plenty of time to… catch up once we’re back to ourselves.” I grinned.

“I totally agree… God, I love you.”

“Mmm…” I kissed him quick, settling into my nook under his arm, head on his chest, my favourite place to be.

“How’s Adele?”

I stiffened, and he felt it.

“That bad?”

“I’m doing the best I can, but let’s talk about that tomorrow, okay?”

I felt him nod, then minutes later I felt his breathing even out. I was so glad to have him there, so very glad.

EPOV:

I woke up achy, still tired, but in a good place. In Sookie’s bed, so how could I not have been in a good place? I smiled to myself, and put my arm over to snuggle with her, but only to find her side of the bed empty. I pushed my disappointment down, and climbed out of bed and pulled on my clothes, checking my watch it was just after tweleve, I’d been knocked out for a good six hours, getting rid of most of my jetlag. I stumbled downstairs in search of her, but finding no one around, I just went to inhale some coffee. I’d just gotten the cup to my mouth when a shot went off in the kitchen! I dropped the mug and ducked out of the way, before she yelled.

“Who are you? Why are you in my house? Get out of my house!”

“Adele! It’s me… It’s –”She cocked the gun again and I was looking for the nearest exit.

“You’ve no right to be in my house! I won’t let you rob me! Do you hear! You get out of this house before I shoot you and bury you in the lake!”

“Holy fucking shit!” I said, pushing a chair in front of me, hoping to gain eye contact with her.

“Adele, Its Eric! Do you remember me?”

“I don’t know any Eric!” She raised the gun again, and I got really scared she was going to pull the trigger again.

“Please, I’m here… I’m with Sookie, I’m her Eric? Do you remember her mentioning me?”

She just glared at me, just then I was saved by an angel when Sookie walked through the door, dropping the two big bags of groceries and running into the kitchen, taking the gun from Adele without a word.

“Gran! What the hell are you doing! This is Eric, he’s our friend! He’s my boyfriend, you know Eric, you like him!”

“I do?” she asked, confused.

“Yes, you do. He’s not here to hurt you or take you away!”

“Or rob me?”

“NO!” Sookie and I both said, as Sookie handed me the gun, sitting her Grandmother at the kitchen table.

“I promise, Gran. He’s good people, I love him, you’ll love him too.”

“You do?” she looked at me again, squinting, and it took her a second, but then she seemed to calm down. She held her head for a second as Sookie watched her closely.

“Yes, I do. Now, we can’t be pointing guns at people, it’s just not welcoming…” she said to me, her eyes filled with tears, but trying to push them away.

I hunkered down next to her on her seat.

“Adele, we met a while ago, remember we helped you with some boxes for Church? And then we met again, at Sookie’s wedding?”

“To Alcide…” she nodded, “That was never gonna last if you ask me, she clearly didn’t love him, and there’s always been something real queer about that boy.”

Sookie, wiping her tears suddenly burst out laughing. I couldn’t help but laugh myself.

“You’re right there is something… yeah… But you remember me now?”

“You’re the one she loves? The one I saw kiss her…”

“Oh of course she would remember that…” Sookie said, shaking her head, and walking to the door to pick up her hastily discarded bags.

“That would be me.”

“Well, why didn’t you say so! Sookie, did we make lunch, I don’t remember.”

“No, I popped out to get something’s for us…” she shook her head, kissing me on the cheek, as she put the torn bags on the counter, and I helped her empty them. Adele seemed to slowly come back to herself. I sighed, if this was what Sookie was going through all this time, no wonder she was stressed. I knew why she couldn’t, nor wouldn’t leave now; I saw it with my own eyes. And I realized I felt as guilty as Sookie did, and I wanted to help Adele and Sookie as much as I could. I had no idea what I could do for either of them, but I vowed to myself that I’d try, and we’d see how things went. One thing was for sure though, there was no way Sookie could keep this up alone, no way in hell was I letting her put that amount of pressure on herself. It just wasn’t fair. I’d help where I could, where she’d let me that’s for sure, but I’d make sure to talk to her about getting a professional diagnosis, and some much needed professional help, before someone was a little less lucky, the next time Adele got trigger happy!

FYI:

I’ve been asked to take part in the FangreadersChat on Sat 14th of Jan9pm GMT (4pm EST) Stop by! bit . ly/A0tDMC


Chapter 25: Chapter 25


SPOV:

It was after nine by the time I got Gran settled and into bed with one of her many books, she had spent the day in the Garden with me, and the other half of it apologising to Eric, saying that she had no idea what she’d done, but she was ever so sorry she’d done it. We were all a little stressed, to say the least. So when I found Eric sitting out on the porch swing, looking deep in thought, it wasn’t a surprise.

“Hey, you,” I said, handing him a cup of tea as I took my seat with mine, beside him.

“Hey… you alright?” He said quietly, leaning back in the seat to look at me.

“Yeah, I’m fine, how about you? I’m not the one that had the near death experience today.” I tried to laugh, but really the more I thought about it, the more anxious it made me, it wasn’t funny at all.

“I’m good, no holes that aren’t meant to be there,” he smiled, rubbing my leg in reassurance.

“But?”

He sighed, “But, Sookie what happened today can’t happen again. If you hadn’t walked in when you did? I mean…”

“I know, trust me I know.”

“Do you know? How did she get her hands on the gun, I thought you said you’d hidden it.”

“I did, I didn’t know she had a second gun! I’ve searched the house though, there isn’t a third that I’m aware of, if there is she’s better at hide and seek than anyone I know.”

“Sookie –”

“Eric I know, okay, it was bad, really bad. But what do you want me to do here?”

“What you know you have to do…”

I shook my head, setting down my tea, “I can’t do that to her, I can’t just leave her to rot with strangers, Eric. I can’t I owe her more respect than that.”

“I’m not saying go to that extreme. I’m saying, get her some help…get YOU some help. Get her a proper diagnosis for one, some medication to help. A caregiver to give you a break as well. You can’t keep this up for the rest of her life, Sweetheart. It’ll end up killing you, eventually.”

I swallowed my anger, because in reality it wasn’t anything I hadn’t thought about a thousand times in the past month. I knew it was what I had to do for her, but it didn’t mean that either of us would like it. I didn’t want her to hate me for it, and I didn’t want her to shun me, like she had the rest of the family.

“And what about work? I mean, as much as I wish it weren’t so, we have jobs to go back to… what … I mean I know I wanted to bring this up eventually, but screw it, we’re on the topic, I may as well bring it up now. Are you planning to go back to Europe at all? I mean, what happens to living there? I have a job there; I have to go back eventually… I want to do that with you.”

I groaned. I really hated that we had to have this conversation.

“I don’t know! I don’t know, okay?”

He looked like I’d just slapped him, I hated that look.

“I see…” He folded his arms, sitting back on the swing, rocking us a bit with his feet.

“Look, Eric, I get it okay, believe me. I’m so glad you came here, I am, and I know it can’t be forever. Your life is-”

“Your life is there too! Or at least I thought it was…”

“It was. But you think I can just up sticks and leave now? I can’t… I won’t. Things changed when I saw the state she was in, the state my family was in, one that you just said you were a part of! My priorities shifted. And I don’t have a job holding me there anymore; the internship is over… they’ll probably hire someone else…”

“So that’s it? I get no say in this?”

“Of course you do –”

“But your mind is already made up! You’re not coming home, I have to go back in a few weeks, and you’re not coming… that’s what it comes down to. How are we meant to stay together when we’re thousands of miles apart?”

I raked my hands through my hair, tying it up in the band I had on my arm.

“I don’t know. Okay? My bottom line, Eric, is that I want us to work more than anything….but this happened and I can’t undo it. I thought you understood that?”

“I do, it doesn’t mean I like it,” he sighed.

“Yeah, well, you think I like having the only woman that’s ever cared for me, lose herself daily to a disease that is probably, slowly killing her? You think I like that? Or that I like finding her outside at six am, in her nightgown soaking wet and afraid like a little kid? Or that I like having to bath her and sometimes feed her? No, I don’t like that either. But life doesn’t go to plan; it’s sort of the deal. We get one shot and it fucks us up until we die, that’s the deal. And this is fucked up and we deal with it the best we can. I’m sorry if this isn’t the ideal situation for you, but guess what? That’s how love works, you do things and go through things for the people you love because they need you, and if you can’t go through this with me, then I think you need to rethink what loving me means, Eric. Because I won’t choose, I can’t. And if you make me to… you might not like the outcome.” I said, holding in my stressed out tears as I walked inside the house, closing the door and making my way upstairs after checking in on Gran again.I hated the whole situation, I hated how it was happening and how powerless I felt about the whole thing, I hated Eric’s insecurities, ones I knew he had a right to have given our history… but I just wished he had more confidence in himself, and in us, to know that we’d work it out somehow if we both just tried hard enough. If anything the past had taught me, it was being true to myself no matter what, and I couldn’t take that back – take back all I’d been through and just throw away those hard earned lessons now. I had to do what was right, which usually meant it was hard, and sucked out loud. I didn’t cry that night, as much as I wanted to, I felt cried out. Instead using the last of my new phone’s free internet to look up elderly care in the area. I really needed to get broadband too, life without technology kinda sucked in the sticks. I wanted Eric to come up, and I waited and waited as long as I could until I must have fallen asleep because when I woke up in the morning, his side of the bed was untouched.

Fuck.

EPOV:

I watched her walk off the porch, and into the house, and I could almost see the steam coming from her ears she was so mad at me. Mad at me, mad at everything, the same as myself really. I knew going into the conversation that she’d blow, she hated this decision and I kept forcing it on her, I guess I still needed the reassurance that she was still with me. It was stupid and annoying of me, I knew that too. I knew she loved me, I knew I loved her; we knew we wanted it to work…but it was HOW to make it work that was holding us both back. I meant what I said to her when I arrived, she was my home now, but the sad fact was I needed a job to live, and so did she. I knew she had her nest egg, Sookie wasn’t an extravagant, materialistic person, and neither was I. We were both happy living relatively simple lives, with a few luxury items here and there, I knew she had the majority of her B&B money to keep her afloat, and her savings plan that I’d taught her. I had a back up, a pretty decent one at that, but I needed to work, for my own sanity more than anything, but I also knew that the situation here was going to take a lot more than a few weeks to sort out. Which is why when Sookie left that night, in her rage and hurt, I did something that I knew would be hard, but I did it anyway. I reached for my phone and called my boss.

Lafayette answered on the third ring, still in New York I had no need to worry about too much of a time difference.

“Hey, hey Eric, how goes it?” he answered, upbeat and joyful as always.

“Uh, hey…yeah, you know, not bad… You?”

“Good, so good. God I MISSED New York, I missed it’s smell as disgusting as it is, it’s life, it’s personality… and it missed me, baby, it missed me so much!”

I laughed, “Glad you two are getting along so well, I take it the magazine set up is going well?”

“Well, it’s suits, boring suits with their boring problems, I just want to make things pretty!” he said, he’d clearly had a few too many before I’d called.

“Of course you do!” I teased.

“Are you callin’ me just to make fun of me? I thought you was with your girl, I’m sure there’s some nice…supply closet you two should be fucking in somewhere…”

I was glad he couldn’t see me, for I blushed at the memory. When Sookie and I first became official, working together in such close quarters was…hard. Literally. So, we’d take the few opportunities we had to… make it easier on ourselves, so to speak, and Lafayette walked in on one of the more memorable quickies we’d decided on in the supply closet at work. Sookie had never gotten over it, and still had trouble looking him straight in the eyes afterward.

“No, no supply closets…”

“Alls not well in Wonderland I suspect?”

“Something like that…”

“Yeah, I guessed as much when you stuck me with Queen Sophie-Ann and her heirs and graces. I hate her you know? She tried for your job a few years back, such a fucking snob, thinks that because she’s some far, far out relation of some English Duke, that she had the right to work for me and my clientele.” He mocked.

“She’s good at her job though, I mean she worked exclusively for Burberry for three years.”

“Yes, yes, I know her CV darling, but you know me. The talent is one thing, but the personality is almost as important, and yours I love, hers I loathe.”

“It’s sort of why I’m calling…”

“Oh? All ears…”

“I need to…”I sighed, “I need to extend my leave.”

He was quiet on his end for a few seconds, “It’s that bad?”

“Pretty bad, Sookie’s an emotional wreck and to be honest so am I. I don’t want to fuck it up, I don’t want to lose her, but right now I have to be there for her no matter how hard it is. So I’m gonna need six months, if you can give it to me, if you can’t… and you need to fire me, I understand it… I do.”

He sighed on his end, and I could almost hear him pacing.

“Eric, I just don’t have the leverage with the money guys right now to keep your salary going, not with how tight they’re pulling my strings, the suits are saying I pay out too much as it stands…”

I ran my hand through my hair, “I understand, Man, I do.”

“I hate to tell you that, you know I do…” He got serious; serious for him was a rare emotion.

“Nah, I didn’t expect it really, but it was worth a shot.”

“You know the package I can give you, the one we talked about when I hired you, I can do that, month’s wage a severance…Highest recommendation that the thesaurus can give me…” he chuckled.

I nodded; it was in reality what I expected.

“Thanks, Laf.”

“I wish it was more…”

“Me too, but its fine, it is.”

“How’s Sookie?” He asked.

“Hating me right about now, I’m doing the right thing, right? I’ve never needed anyone before, certainly not a woman, not like I need her. It’ll be worth it, right?”

“She loves you?”

“Yeah…”

“She shows you she loves you? She don’t just say it sweetly and bat her lashes?”

“Yeah, she does.” I smiled, “I think at first we were both just scared of screwing things up, and tiptoeing around what was real. But, she’s as honest with me as anyone ever can be, and I’m as honest with her. We both have our tempers; she gets madder than any woman I’ve ever seen, quicker than anyone of them too. But she’s got this heart, this unrelenting love in her, Lafayette, it just makes me feel right, you know? Like if she’s there, with me, then it’s really okay. I want her in my life; I wanted us to start building one together…”

“But?”

“I don’t know how to help her, I just don’t. I’m new to all this and I keep saying the wrong things…”

“You is a man, Sweetie, you’re always gonna say the wrong things if it’s what she doesn’t want to hear.”

I laughed, that much was very true of us.

“Look Eric, all I know is, if you wanna build something you have to start with the foundations. If they’re shaky, nothing’s ever gonna stay built. If you trust her, if you love her, if she loves and trusts you, if you both want what’s best for each other and strive to achieve it most of the time… then you’ve got a good enough foundation. If not, then you need to re-think things, but, if you do? Building a house starts with one brick. Go find the brick.”

I thought a lot about my conversation with both Sookie and Lafayette that night, and I realized that I’d lived a nomadic existence for so long, never really having one solid place to lay my bricks to even consider building, that I just didn’t know how. I’d always moved on from place to place, never really having a need to plant roots anywhere. She changed that though, her and her laugh, and her kisses and her love. I knew my understanding, rational, loving Sookie was underneath the stressed out, fucked up, and angry Sookie that was fuming in her bed right now, I just needed to remember that, and do what I had to do to get her back, to get me back, to get us, back.

I slept on the couch that night, not wanting to wake her, and not really wanting to have another argument, I got woke up early by the sounds of feet pattering through the kitchen. I got up to find Adele standing there in her robe. I prayed that the morning before was fluke, and she didn’t wake up forgetful every day. I wandered in, doing my best not to scare her.

“Hello, Eric,” she said, and I sighed with relief.

“Morning, Adele, sleep well?”

“Just fine, thank you, I’m gatherin’ you didn’t on that couch though. You and Sookie have a spat?”

“Um, yeah, something like that.”

She nodded to herself, before she dragged out some odd looking mixture from the fridge and pulled out her frying pan.

“Well, why don’t you sit your cute little butt down, and tell me about it. Maybe this old woman can help?”

I sat down, and watched her start to cook.

“I don’t know if you can…It’s sorta complicated.”

“Lemme guess, it involves me…and my….” She sighed, rolling her eyes to heaven, “forgetfulness?”

“I…well…” was there any point in lying to her?

“Well?”

“Yes, in all honesty, it is. You know you’re…”

“Sick? I do… when you wake up, being showered clean by your Grandbaby, you know things just ain’t right, Eric.”

I nodded.

“I know what it is, at least what I think it is, and I don’t want to spend my days… however many of them I have left, in some old folks home, surrounded by strangers who smell bad, you know? But I also don’t want Sookie suffering out of some misguided sense of loyalty to me. I’m a grown woman, have been for a lot longer than her, and I know what’s best for me.”

“So then why…”

“It doesn’t mean I’m not a stubborn a double s about it, where do you think SHE gets it from?” She said, a comedic air to her voice, making me laugh. She flipped her pancakes and went for the bacon; things were starting to smell amazing. I began to make the coffee, I needed to feel useful.

“I want you to go to the doctors, Adele, get a proper opinion an all, there may be some medication you can take to keep the forgetfulness to a minimum… I’ve heard they have all kinds of advancements in those areas all the time, you never know.”

She nodded, I could see her thinking it over.

“I just think that maybe Sookie needs more help than she’s letting on, she’s on this one woman mission to fix everything –”

“Making you feel… inadequate?” she cocked a brow at me.

“A little, if I’m honest.”

“Well, at least you can admit it. Most men, they’d be too afraid of lookin’ weak by sayin’ so. You’re not weak though, are you darlin’?”

“She’s my weakness…” I admitted, suddenly feeling very exposed.

“And by my guessing, you’re hers too…”

“I wonder sometimes…I mean I know there’s a lot of love there…but with everything the way it started –”

“Oh pish-posh, Eric. It don’t matter how the story starts, it matters how it ends. How do you want your story to end?”

I just smiled as she flipped the food onto a large plate, and poured us both some coffee.

“Well, from that look I can only imagine it ends happily.”

“I’d like it to, a long ass time from now though…”

She smiled, “Don’t say ass… but yes. I agree. We get some level of control over how our story ends, so can you see why, why I don’t want mine to end the way my family thinks it should?”

I nodded, she was an amazing woman, and it was such a shame what was happening to her, because when she was fully lucid she was fantastically smart and witty, reminding me a lot of Sookie the more we spoke.

“The house and land are hers, no matter what that mother of hers says, all the contents, there’s a will…”

“Adele…”

“No, I’m being straight with you, it is. She’ll know it too, soon, I keep meaning to tell her…” she touched her forehead, “but I don’t want her sticking around here just for me, not if it means losing you, or losing herself in the process. She’s worked hard this past few years to change her life to what she wanted, and I’m not gonna be a hand in undoing all that for her, and neither are you.”

“No, Ma’am. That’s the last thing I want.”

“Good, then we agree. I’ll go, get the help I need, but y’all won’t sign me away to some –”

“Never…No.”

“And we’ll encourage her to work somewhere, taking her pictures, like she loves. You know she’d send them to me? Every few months I’d get a package of these photo albums she’d done from the work she’d been doing… oh they’re so pretty… I must show you them sometime.”

“I’d like that…”

“Good… now eat up.”

I’d just gotten the fork to my mouth when I heard bare feet on the tile.

“I see you two left alone for more than five minutes and you’re both plotting to take over the world, huh?” she said picking bacon off my plate, kissing me on the cheek before she went over and did the same to Adele.

“No, baby, we were just…discussing something’s that needed to be discussed, is all.”

“Is that right?” she said, slyly looking at me, she knew fine rightly what we were talking about because she’d probably heard the whole damn thing. Sneaky.

“Listen, Eric, about last night…” she said coming over to sit next to me, I noticed Adele pretending that she wasn’t listening. These two were peas in a pod, I could see that much.

“I’m sorry for what I said, I never meant that I’d not pick y-”

“Sook, it’s fine.”

“It’s not, it was bitchy and emotional…”

“And I don’t get bitchy and emotional?” I admitted, “We’re both stubborn as hell, we both think we know what’s right, there’s always gonna be something…”

“So…you’re gonna leave?” she asked, and I didn’t miss the sadness in her tone when she said it.

“No, I’m not. I mean, eventually I’m going to need to get another job, but… I’m not going anywhere…”

She looked confused.

“But you love your job, I love that you love your job… Eric I can’t let you just quit –”

“Too late…” I smiled, and Adele looked at us both, shocked at first, then sad.

“No, Eric, seriously, this isn’t funny you can’t quit your job it’s not fair to you… what I said, I was just over reacting, we can make things work for a little while longer just long distance, if we just try and I’m getting Internet so we can communicate better when we’re apart and –”

“Sookie, it’s too late, I called Lafayette last night, and I quit.”

She put her hand to her mouth.

“No… no, honey no that’s not fair to you…I feel so-”

“Don’t feel so anything, it was my choice.”

“I didn’t leave you with much of one, let’s be honest.”

“I don’t want to communicate with you from thousands of miles away; I’d like to learn to communicate with you, right here. We’re still learning how to be a part of each other’s lives, Sook, it’s not easy for people like us.”

“No, it’s not…but-”

“But, there’s more than enough reason to hold on, and I’m going to. Are you?”

Her eyes welled up, and I took that as a sign I pushed my chair back and got up to her, she wrapped her arms around me and held on tight.

“I’m sorry –”

“I know, me too…”

“How did you persuade her –” she whispered after kissing me chastely, she was in the room with her Grandmother after all.

“He didn’t need to persuade nothing, he just asked. Politely.” Adele added, proving to us both she’d been listening like a hawk the whole time.

“Asked?” Sookie looked from her to me, baffled, “Well, damn, why didn’t we think of that before?” she said, rolling her eyes, before she smiled at me, squeezing me tighter.

“Is there more pancakes?” She asked smiling for what seemed like the first time in forever. That meant the world to me, and as I could see, it meant the world to Adele too. Maybe there was hope, after all.

P.S: I’ve been invited to the Author’s Spotlight thingy over at FangreadersChat Room tomorrow, Sat 14th of Jan 9pm GMT (4pm EST)

Stop by, if you can! Happy Friday! x


Chapter 26: Chapter 26


A/N: Chapter 26. Where Eric and Sookie have a ~date night. Enjoy! Love to hear your thoughts as always!

SPOV:

It had been a week since Gran had agreed to go in for tests, in that time she’d changed her mind more than once, but when it came time for the appointment she was back around to agreeing with us. Eric drove us both in, and I could tell she was nervous; I was too to be honest. It turns out she had every reason to be nervous, they’d decided they were going to keep her over night for tests, none of us were pleased at that news, and I really didn’t feel right leaving her alone. We’d been there for hours, when she told us both to make ourselves scarce, informing us that Maxine had agreed to call by and fill her in on all she’d been missing out on from the Decedents of the Glorious Dead meetings, and the church fairs from the weeks before. I still felt bad, but decided to take her advice and take my ‘lovely man out on a date for heaven sakes’. Eric was more than on board with that particular idea and they were both right, Eric had done so much for me, and in the two weeks he’d been there, we’d have very little time alone, and when we were alone I was usually far too stressed out and tired to want to do much of anything other than sleep. I felt bad for him; he’d been doing so many things for not just me, but Gran too. He’d been super helpful around the house, and even taken over some of the cooking – much to her amusement, but he meant well, and it was extremely endearing if nothing else.

“So, I made us reservations in town, smart casual.” I said, kissing him on the cheek before I slipped off my shoes when we got home. He was fiddling with his phone and looked up as I walked up stairs.

“Oh, okay, cool…Where are you going?”

“Shower…”

Oh?” His brows went up and I knew by his tone where this was going.

“No.”

“What I didn’t even –”

“No. we’re going on a proper date, with proper conversation and a nice meal.”

His chest deflated as did his cocky smile.

“Oh…”

“Then, we come back here and fuck each other senseless until we pass out or die, whichever comes first,” I winked, running up the rest of the steps, hearing him laugh loud and happy before I shut the bathroom door. When I got out of the shower, I checked my phone. Pam and I had been texting each other back and forth since I’d arrived, and I now had three missed calls.

I hit her back, “Something wrong, Pam?”

“No,” she sighed, “just bored…”

“Bored? You’re living in California, working for a celebrity PR firm, you’re covered in gossip…and custom shoes might I add, and you’re bored?” I smirked. She’d really stepped it up a gear in her career in the past few years, ever since she let go of the strings at home she’d blossomed.

“Eh…”

“I’m in buttfuck Louisiana, dealing with bullshit. I win.” I smiled.

“I met someone,” Pam said, still sounding forlorn.

“Isn’t that usually a good thing?” I said, rooting through my wardrobe for the sultriest looking dress I had.

“It is, she’s great…but I just… think maybe we’re going too fast?”

“How so?”

“We’re sort of living together?”

“Damn, you don’t waste any time do you?” I smiled, “how long have you been dating?”

“A few months, I really like her…”

“So, what’s the problem? Eric and I were only seeing each other for a few weeks when we started sleeping over, and sleeping over permanently…” I mused.

“Yeah but you and he had this whole twisted love sick history, full of sonnets and suicidal thoughts….”

“Um, no… but carry on…”

“I just don’t know if –”

“Do you like her?”

“Yes.”

“Do you trust her?”

“Of course….”

“She get you horny?” I joked.

Pam bust out laughing, as did I.

“Yeah, actually, she does that part really well.”

“Well then,” I shrugged, “go for it. You’ll only regret the shit you didn’t do. Believe me, I know.”

“Hm.. I guess so… Thanks, Sook.”

“You’re welcome, now I’m trying to pick something to wear to seduce Eric tonight.”

“I’m confused, don’t you guys do that …. Every night? Why do you need something special to wear to do it tonight?”

“Well, I don’t. But it’s been a while since we had some time to ourselves, and I don’t know, I want to make it nice.”

Nice?”

“Hot.”

“Ah, do you still have that tight black YSL with the lace back I gave you? That’s hot, makes your breasts look amazing too…It’s mostly because you can’t wear a bra with it…”

“Uh…”

“I like breasts now, I can say that.”

I chuckled, “okay sure…with red or black heels?”

“Red, match the lipstick and the clutch… You told me Eric has a thing for red. He might have an even bigger thing for it when he’s wiping lipstick marks off his dick tomorrow.”

Subtle.”

“As a brick… I take it Adele took the over night stay well, then?”

“Not at first, but she seemed to calm afterwards, plus Maxine said she’d stop by, and I’ll be there first thing tomorrow too…so…”

“Any word from your Dad? Jason?”

“Jason has been working, Dad has been working in Texas, he’s back in a couple of days though, and I’ve not seen my mom or anyone else for that matter…well. Besides Alcide.” I shrugged.

“Yeah, how did that go? Awkward?”

“A little, I mean, I was expecting it to be a lot more awkward than it was to be honest.”

“Still gay?”

“Pam!”

“Well?”

“Yes… And I heard Sarah played extra dirty when she divorced Steve.”

“Shit…”

“Yeah, she out-ed him and everything, Maxine was telling me, that his whole family refuse to speak to him now, he’s had to move to Boston to get a job, it’s so sad.”

“Sarah was always a little… heartless.”

“I guess so, I mean… I don’t know, it’s cruel on both sides, but she ruined his life. It seems really harsh.”

“Hmm, it does. Just think, had your bitch gene been stronger from your mother, you could have ended up, just like her.”

I shuddered at the thought, “Gee, thanks…”

“Don’t mention it. Listen I have to go, I’ve a early meeting in the morning, but um, have fun on the fake date tonight.”

“It’s not a fake date it’s romantic…”

“Please, it’s public foreplay…and honestly after all you told me tall’n’blond did for you? It damn well better be the best sex he’s had in his life thus far. He’s earned it.”

I smiled.

“I hate to think I’m paying him in –”

“Pussy? Please, he loves your pussy, you think he’s going to mind?”

“I just don’t want to him to think that I don’t appreciate it on other levels…”

“Blah, blah you’re deep and in love and blah, blah. Just go fuck him till his legs buckle, okay, Sweetpea?” She mocked.

“Fine, only because you’re making me…” I teased back.

“Yes, I’m sure it’ll be so HARD for you to do…uh huh… bye, bitch.”

She hung up and I wiped the smile off my face. I really did need to brush up on my foreplay skills.

EPOV:

Sookie had decided to call us a cab to take us to dinner, allowing us both to fully relax and have a few drinks. All in all, her date night idea was very welcomed, we needed some time to just decompress and be alone together with no interruptions. She’d had a couple of glasses of wine while I was showering and getting changed, and wine and Sookie equals a very handsy, Sookie. I won’t lie; I kind of loved it, even if the cab driver was getting some pre-show. Her hands were everywhere, discreetly underneath our coats as we sat in the backseat together, closer than was really necessary, but again, I was never going to complain about it. She smelled awesome, and felt even better. And of course where her hand and dainty fingers was resting on my thigh, dangerously teasing me with the anticipation of whether or not she was going to go there or not was really, really hot. By the time we got seated and served I was both starving for the food and for her simultaneously, I wondered if we’d get kicked out if I had her on the table instead of the meal? She wasn’t wearing a bra I could tell by the back of her dress that and the nip in the air didn’t exactly help her nips either, it was all very distracting.

“Eric?”

“What?”

“What side order do you want? The waitress doesn’t have all day, Honey.” She smiled sweetly to the waitress before sliding her barefoot up my leg. Okay, what the fuck?

“I…I… um…just mash potatoes, please.” I all but squeaked out when her foot gently slid to my crotch. The table was small, and we were seated by the window of the small restaurant over looking Jackson Square – that was all but packed, a packed restaurant with a hard-on was confusing me. I grabbed her foot, holding it still before I leaned over the table to whisper to my very smug looking girlfriend.

“What’s gotten into you, tonight?”

She just shrugged, “hopefully you, later.”

I looked around to see if anyone heard her, and if they had, they hadn’t made any notice of it.

“Sookie!” I whispered.

“What? Don’t tell me you’re gun shy on me now, Northman. It would be such a shame…”

“Why would it be a shame?”

“I’m not wearing any panties…” she shrugged taking a sip of her water, raising her brows at me, torturing me that is what she was doing because the visual of her just sitting there all lady like, commando, well, it was so hot. To say the motherfucking least.

“Oh…”

“Mmm, and it’s actually kinda nice…a little …cold, but very freeing. I can see why guys do this.”

As if we were talking about the weather… I was baffled.

She just grinned and reached for my hand, and kissed it.

“I wanted date-night to be a fun night, since it’s been a while since we had any…quality time together. And, by quality time, I mean sexy time, of which, just so you know… there will be lots of later.”

“Why…why…later? Why not just now?”

She grinned, “Well, if we don’t eat how will we keep our energy up for when we get home?”

“Sook…you just told me you’re underwear less in a posh restaurant, and you expect me to care about food?” I leaned over to ask and she just shrugged.

“You should, I know I’m starving, so God only knows how you feel… no, let’s have our nice meal – pray they don’t over do it on the garlic, and see where it goes.”

Calm, collected, sweet even. Not at all like she was just making me hard a few minutes ago, with her foot of all things. She was really surprising me tonight, not that she never typically surprised me, but never usually being so daring and open sexually, never like this.

“Can I ask? What brought this…?” I waved between us, “on?”

“Can’t I just tease my boyfriend? Don’t you like it?”

“No… no don’t get me wrong, it’s all…” I leaned in, “it’s all very nice.”

“So what’s the problem then?”

“No there isn’t one…but…”

“Good, heads up. Our dinner is here…” She smiled, dropping her foot and I heard her slid it back into her shoe before the server set our plates down. Oh, boy.

By the time dinner was over and we were waiting patiently for the cheque, I was about to lose my damn mind. I’d never seen a woman eat as deliberately as she had that night, finding just about everything amazing enough to give a discreet but little moan. A moan that went straight to my pants, as she well knew by the look on her face. I paid the cheque and left a hefty tip, thinking that we’d catch a cab back and get down to business. Sookie had other ideas.

“Wanna take a walk?”

I wasn’t sure I could walk, not without a kick to the nuts to get my mind off of everything else going on down there.

“Um, sure?”

She smiled, and linked arms with me, and we strolled in silence for a little while. Just taking in our surroundings, listening to the live music on the streets, as we mingled with the mix of people doing the same thing. We’d been walking for maybe ten minutes when Sookie squeezed my hand and made a hard left, down what looked like a very suspicious looking alley, with dim lighting and what just screamed ‘come here to get mugged’. I tensed instantly.

“Relax, I’m not going to kill you…” she whispered in my ear, pushing us into the shadows a little more, opening the first few buttons on my shirt, and kissing her way down.

Goosebumps.

I gripped her arms, in a misguided attempt to stop things before we got caught, but that was going nowhere when she took my hands, slid them down her dress, and then up her inner thighs.

No, definitely not wearing any underwear. I was hard again, feeling all my blood rushing through me, as she touched me softly at first then her grip tightened.

“Do you want to do this here? Outside, where someone might see us? Arrest us?” she whispered, pumping me slowly at first, then faster, then slower, it was hell, it was heaven.

“Do you want me to put you in my mouth, right out here? Where anyone could see?” I moaned when she sucked my earlobe into her mouth, hot and wet – teamed with her words and I was sure I was going into some kind of pleasure coma. I growled a response, and it made her giggle. I’d had about enough of her games, and I told her as much as I turned the tables on us and slide her against the cold brick wall. Her breath hitched and she looked stunned, but still totally turned on, and I hadn’t even touched her yet.

“I’m through messing around, Sookie…” I said as seriously and as menacingly as I could.

“Having a hard time, baby?” She purred, still messing with me, “feeling a little…stiff?” she grinned, clearly loving my frustrations.

I just huffed out a breath and without warning, yanked up her dress and plunged two fingers inside her. Making her moan out loud, so loud that I had to look around to see if we’d been spotted, thankfully the street music drowned us out. I didn’t give her time to adjust, and I didn’t really need too, she was already so wet. She latched on to my neck with her arms, as I held her up against the wall, her legs giving out on her as I coaxed her to an orgasm, one I needed in return rather badly. She panted out wordlessly as she held on, and just when I felt her begin to contract, I stopped, slid her dress back into place and took a step back. To say she looked pissed off was the understatement of the year.

“Two can play at this game, Darling.”

She whimpered slightly closing her eyes, and biting her lip, “I …hate you right now…”

“I know…” I grinned.

“I almost hate you so much I wasn’t going to tell you, I booked us into a hotel a block away… I almost wasn’t going to tell you because now I don’t even know if you deserve –”

I didn’t give her a chance to finish; I just grabbed her hand and hurried us out of the dimly lit alley way of doom.

“Which direction?” I asked hastily, dragging her along, her heels clicking on the street beneath her. She laughed as she pointed me in the right direction, and I swear I’d never walked a block so fast in my life. By the time we got to the very civilized looking B&B, Sookie was back to maybe not hating me, which I was thankful for.

“It was my turn, after all,” she winked as she walked ahead of me, talking to the girl at the desk and retrieving our keys. They were still actual metal keys and not cards, just showed me out ‘authentic’ this place was willing to stay. I didn’t care either way, I just wanted us both naked, and by the way Sookie walked ahead of me up the narrow staircase, she wanted it too.

By round three, I was pretty sure she’d broken me. She was hiding skills from me that I never knew she had before. And she was loud, really, really loud, and it was all kinds of hot watching her just be so free with her body, and her vocal chords, no caring who or what might hear her. Oh, and we’d broken the ‘antique’ dresser on our escapades, but it seemed like a very small price to pay when I could watch my girlfriend blow me from two angles, front and back. It was glorious to stay the least. Breathless and probably paralyzed we settled back into the squeaky bed, sweaty, gross and feeling just about as good as a couple got. I felt like I was floating.

“I can’t feel my legs…how did you do that thing…with the thing?”

She just smirked, “Pam and I, we took a sex class in New York. It was very…educational.”

“You had sex for a class?” I was foggy, that’s what it sounded like.

“No, but we did watch people have sex to ‘learn things'” she finger quoted, sighing to herself, “it was one of Pam’s crazy ideas at the time, along with ice-skating, speed dating and sky diving when she came to visit. I didn’t’ sky dive, I’m not that nuts.”

“I think my heart’s gonna burst…” I commented, because it really did feel that way. She just chuckled.

“Best hundred bucks ever…Thank you Mrs Lee.” She patted my chest before she got up, and walked gingerly across the room to the en-suite. Glad to know I wasn’t the only one feeling a little …delicate.

Eric?” She called after a few minutes.

“Yeah?”

“Come help me a second?”

I groaned, I so didn’t want to get up, I was still questioning if I even could.

“I…are you stuck?”

“No!” she laughed, “just come here, you’ll like it, I promise.”

That sounded good.

I dragged my ass out of the bed, and carefully made my way to the bathroom, happy as a clam when I saw what was waiting for me.

Sookie sitting in a super sized tub, covered in bubbles. Her long blonde hair tied up in a dainty knot on top of her head, her full breasts dripping with bubbles, the steam from the water enveloping the whole room.

“Happy three year anniversary.” She said with a smile, and I was, for a moment confused. And that’s when I realized that it had been that long, that long since we’d first been…together.

She rolled her eyes and grinned, “yes, it’s super cheesy but I think it should count… even if I fucked it all up right after, it still meant a lot to me… because I loved you then, as I love you now…But I love you more now, if that’s possible.” she said, holding out her hand to me, and I stepped in, some of the water spilling over the side as she slid towards me, both of us sitting Indian style in front of each other.

“It counts,” I clarified.

“It does.” She smiled, “and in four months and nine days…”

“We have our ‘official’, proper, non-fucked-up- iversary.”

She kissed me then, turning herself so her back was to me and she sat between my legs.

“And that definitely counts for everything.”

“That it does…” I said, stroking the wet pieces of her hair away from her neck, kissing it as I did so.

“I love you, Sookie, you and your magical sex skills.”

She giggled, “I love you too, and you’ve got some magical sex skills of your own you know…”

“Oh, I know.” I agreed, and she snorted, “Hey Sookie?”

“Hmm?”

“Wanna fuck in a two hundred year old bathtub?” I said, with a grin the size of Texas when I saw the little historic plague that said we were to be very, very careful if using it.

Interesting.

“Challenge accepted.” She said, matching my grin as she continued to make that night one of the best and most orgasm filled night either of us could remember. I guess there always is a slight calm before I big storm, especially in Louisiana, we should have known.


Chapter 27: Chapter 27


SPOV:

The next morning as Eric and I strolled happily along the streets peppered with cafés and coffee shops, after a hearty and much needed breakfast, I realized that this was what happiness felt like. I was grinning like an idiot, and he noticed.

“Someone’s happy…”

“Why not, I’m healthy, I’m loved, I love… we’re just ignoring the fact that neither of us have a job or secure source of income right for this second,” I grinned, “but I’m happy, here with you… that’s enough.” We’d been walking together, arms wrapped around each other and he squeezed me a little tighter, “well, darling, I’m glad you’re happy. It’s nice to hear.”

“Are you happy?”

“You need to ask?” he smiled as we took our seats outside; it was a crisp and clear day, the chill in the air welcome but not imposing.

“I know, but you did a huge thing, giving up your job to Sophie like that, even though we both know that’s not all she’d have liked you to have given up” she winked, playfully and then sobered, “I just worry that maybe it hasn’t set in yet what you’ve given up…”

He shook his head, “don’t worry about that, it has set in, and its fine. I mean I know I can’t stay like this forever, and neither can you. Not just financially, but mentally, we’d go nuts…” he smiled, “we need to work, it keeps things interesting… but for now, as you said… it’s enough. And when I think about it mathematically, it’s easy.”

“How so?”

“I keep my job, I lose you, I lose my job I keep you, us, this… no contest.”

I was still a worry wart, and had to ask.

“And when it stops being enough?”

“Then we take it as it comes, we’re still the main priority though, and we’ve enough saved to live off for a long while in a rent free house, so stop worrying! And please don’t start internalizing this.”

“I don’t internalize!”

“No, of course… you’d never do that,” he mocked. I just poked him in the arm.

“You’re not funny, Northman.”

“No, you’re right, I feel more hilarious than just funny…”

I rolled my eyes and ordered a massive breakfast, I had a lot to do that day and I’d need a good supply of energy to do it. We got a cab back to Grans, before I packed her a bag of clothes to wear to come home, that and some of her make up and perfume, in the hopes that I’d find her in a good mood and she’d want to doll herself up a little, she always did like that.

“Okay, you going to go collect her?”

“The doctor said they’d be letting her out at one, so I’ll be there for twelve to get her ready, you want to come with?” I said, folding her dress and cardigan into the bag.

“Nah, I think I’m gonna go to the store, and stock up on a few things.”

“Really?”

“I hate hospitals…” He admitted bashfully.

I nodded, I got that, they were creepy and they smelled awful, that clinical bleach smell that just got everywhere.

“Okay, well, have fun?”

He nodded grabbing the keys to his rental car, kissed me on the cheek and was out the door. A few minutes later there was a knock on the door.

“You forget your keys? Why are you knocking…?” I yelled as I made my way to the door, only to find Alcide on the other end of it.

“Oh, hi… You’re not who I was… hi.” I said, awkwardly, waving him inside.

“Hi, sorry to just drop by like this, Sookie, I just wasn’t sure where else to go.”

“Oh…um… no… its fine, what’s up?” I said, sitting at the table, beside him. He looked stressed and tired, like he hadn’t slept in a while, or eaten.

“I … someone sent my mother a letter, a letter detailing my previous …relationships.”

“Relation… oh… you mean with other men?”

He nodded, before putting his head in his hands.

“She left a message on my voicemail last night, and I … Jesus, Sookie I don’t know what to do. She sounded like she didn’t really fully believe it, but Sookie whoever wrote that, had it in for me, how they even knew about some of those guys… I don’t know. I never told anyway, I don’t think…” he sighed, “I don’t think so, I mean, I don’t know… I could have when I was drunk – and after you left I spent a LOT of time drunk, drinking or passed out.” He sighed again, standing up this time, pacing.

“What am I going to do, Sookie? I can’t tell them, I can’t admit to it, they’ll hate me!”

I petted his arm, and turned him to face me, “hey look here, so what if they find out? So what?”

“Sookie!”

“No! Think about it, Alcide, maybe this is what you needed… I mean granted it’s a terrible and awfully gross way for it to actually happen, but… you’d be free.”

“They’d hate me –”

“Then they’re hateful people, and they don’t deserve you –”

“I’d lose my job, I’d lose my family, my friends…”

“If they’re really your friends, they’ll understand…” I tried to comfort him as best I could but truth be told he was breaking down in front of my eyes.

“Aw honey, come ‘ere.” I said hugging him tightly, “Sweetie, come on, you know this could be the best thing that ever happened to you…”

“You were the best thing that ever happened to me…” he whispered, and I just sighed. When I opened my eyes a hurt looking Eric was standing watching us. I broke away from Alcide quickly, confusing him, and Eric both.

“Hi, Eric… you’re back?”

“Uh… yeah I forgot my phone and I figured you’d be calling me when you collected Adele…” he said looking from me, to Alcide.

“Alcide just called by to talk…”

“I see that.” He said looking from me, to Alcide.

Oh, boy.

“Sook, I should go,” Alcide said looking more and more awkward by the minute. Neither her, nor Eric acknowledged each other.

“Don’t let me interrupt…” Eric said grabbing his phone, and it made Alcide smirk bitterly.

“Isn’t that what you do best? Interrupt Sookie and I?”

They both just glared at each other, Eric was simmering silently, and I had no idea where Alcide’s gall came from when it came to all three of us.

“Alcide!”

He just shrugged, “I shouldn’t have come here, and I’m just going to go… Sorry…” he said to me before strolling out of the house, closing the door silently behind him. Eric and I didn’t speak until we heard his truck take off.

“He just stopped by to talk, he’s going through some shit right now –”

“And his first thought is to turn to you? Has he no other friends to do that with?”

Yep, still pissed.

“I… don’t know? I guess it’s just a difficult thing and I’m the only one that –”

“That gets him? The best thing that ever happened to him?” He rolled his eyes. “Which of course is why deserves a hug…”

“Wow, you’re seriously doing this?”

“Doing what?”

“Being a petulant fool, you’re jealous!”

He didn’t confirm or deny, but it was written all over his face.

“I can’t believe you right now, seriously, over Alcide hugging me?”

He shrugged, “I don’t see why he needs hugged. He’s a lying jackass.”

“And I wasn’t the same to him?”

“You didn’t hide you liked to fuck men, he did.”

“No, you’re right I just hid that I had fucked another man when I was with him, totally makes me better than him, right?” I answered back, bitterly.

He didn’t answer, and I grabbed the bag from the floor.

“I don’t have time to deal with your tempter tantrum right now, I have to see Gran. I’ll see you when I get back, when hopefully the Eric I know and love with come back and this green eyed monster will take a run and jump!” I said, before I grabbed my keys and stormed out. Hating all men as I did so.

EPOV:

Walking through the door where I’d left my happy girlfriend, in a happy mood, to find her wrapped in the arms of her ex husband, well, it felt like a punch to the gut. It’s not like I wanted it to feel like that, I had thought I was over it all, after all – she loved me now.

Now.

But then, then she chose him, she chose him over me, she loved him, over me, and she married him, over me. And that was the fact that hit me in the heart, seeing them together again just reminded me of that last day I saw him – with her.

I was pissed, at him and more so at my damn self. Sookie was right, I knew I was over-reacting, but I couldn’t help it. It dragged up all those old memories, all those unresolved feelings, and I hated it. I drove like a lunatic into town, and decided to take my time, I picked up food for dinner, breakfast and lunch for the next week – and then I zoned out and just ended up buying a load shit we’d probably never even need, I was that distracted. I knew Alcide was of no threat to the relationship that Sookie and I had now, I knew that, and yet it still poked at me. I knew I needed to talk to him, I had been wanting to, I knew he was going through shit in his life, I mean who wouldn’t realizing you are gay when you marry this beautiful woman. It can’t have been easy, and I did sympathize with him, that was until he cracked the shitty and extremely unfunny joke about me interrupting him and Sookie. That jackass was fucking guys up the ass at the time, and he had the nerve to pick on what Sookie and I did? I was so mad that I got back into the car, and drove, ending up outside Alcide’s place.

Shit, I had ice-cream in the trunk.

I thought it over for a second before I went to the trunk, and reached in for the two tubs of chocolate ice-cream and walked to his door.

He opened it, in his underwear. I guess he still got naked and curled up on his couch when he was upset.

“What do you want?”

“To talk to you, and also it’s kinda hot and I bought ice-cream and I kinda don’t want it to melt…but I have to do this before I got back…and it would be a waste….chocolate nut and caramel chocolate bomb, choose. You like chocolate nuts?” I smirked. He just glared.

“You’re not funny.”

“I know.” I said shoving him his chocolate nut ice-cream and walking inside. The house was so different since Sookie had lived there, in place of her lovingly placed female touches, was now a full blown bachelor pad, and a really kick ass massive TV.

“Oh, just walk on in…” he said, still glaring as I sat down.

“We need to talk, I’m gonna be in town a while and I don’t want to have to worry about this,” I motioned between both of us, “anymore, and I don’t want it effecting Sookie.”

He rolled his eyes, “right, I forgot you’re all about Sookie now.”

“I always was all about Sookie, I just never admitted it.” I said steely.

He nodded, sitting down on the chair to my left.

“So, you’re gay…” I said, not smirking, not teasing, I needed to address it.

“I guess so…”

“You guess? You like fucking dudes up the ass? You like them fucking you up the ass? Then you don’t guess you’re gay, Alcide, you’re gay. Believe me I lived with the gayest man on earth, I know these things.” I smiled as I got up to the kitchen for spoons.

“What, we spooning now?” He said when I handed him the spoon, making me laugh out loud.

“Well, at least we’re not forking. I think Sookie would take real issue with that…”

He smiled, “yeah, she would. Shit man…she’s been great you know? She really coulda fucked me over, but she didn’t…Sarah divorced Steve and dragged him through the mud, and back again, I just keep thinking that Sookie could have done that to me –”

“She’s not like that…”

“No, she’s not, I mean she wasn’t Miss Honesty…” he raised a brow at me, “but in the scheme of things…”

“You were doing dudes behind her back so you’re over it?”

He smirked, and then nodded.

“I want her to be happy, when I got over my selfish stage, I realized that it mattered that she be happy, because I wanted to be happy, and I wasn’t with her, not like I should have been, and we both know she wasn’t happy with me, at least not like she should have been…” he mused. “Do you make her happy?” he asked taking a bit bite of his ice-cream. I thought back to the days before, the months before and I smiled.

“I think I do, yeah. I hope I do.”

“She seemed… I don’t know… lighter than the last time I saw her when she first came back, she told me that neither of you have tried to find each other… that it just happened… I guess it was meant to be, huh?”

“She just showed up one day, and I knew I owed it to whatever we were going to be, to give it a solid try, and luckily she thought the same thing… I still got jealous though, seeing you with her.”

“Dude…”

“I know, you like dick, so does she… clash of desires an all that… But it just stung, brought back a lot of unresolved shit for me.”

“Which is why you’re here?”

“Yeah, I don’t want to feel insecure about something I have no need feeling insecure about….you know?”

“So, you’re here to warn me then? No more touching your woman?” He smiled.

“I don’t own her, she’s her own woman, and she’ll tell you that very clearly…” I smiled, “I just want to know what’s going on…”

“Why not ask her?”

“I’m asking you.” I said, taking another bite.

He looked stressed again, “someone is tryin’ to out me. They sent a fuckin’ letter to my Mom. She doesn’t really believe it so far, but it’s only a matter of time until she puts two and two together and comes up with Ostracise-Alcide.” He sighed.

“And my guess is Sookie said it would be good for you?”

He smirked, and it looked painful, he looked that forlorn, “yeah, she’s full of sunshine that one, always looking on the bright side.”

“Maybe she’s right?”

“And if she’s wrong? I lose my family, I lose my job, I lose my friends.”

I didn’t know what to do for him, I didn’t know there was anything to do, but I offered my support where I could.

“Look man, I want things …not to go back to how they were with us, but I’d like to re-build something here, if it’s possible. You really were my best friend, and for a long time we could rely on each other for support no matter what, and I’d like, if now you need someone, if this comes out and shit hits the fan? If I … can help, then I’ll help.”

He looked stunned at me, “really?”

“Yeah, I mean, shit with us went down dirty and I’ll be forever sorry about how it happened, but I’m not sorry it happened. I wouldn’t give her up for anything.”

There I was honest, the chips would fall were they were meant to now.

He looked at me for a long time before answering, and then when he did, he smiled.

“I’d like that…I think.”

I stood up, leaving down my half finished ice-cream.

“Cool… and maybe you know… less hugging?”

He smiled again.

“Yeah, okay, asshole.”

“Hey,” I reasoned, “you like assholes now, so I’ll take that as a compliment.” I laughed, as did he. It felt almost like old times.

“This should be weirder, right?” he commented as I walked to the door and I nodded.

“It should actually, I expected it to be….a hell of a lot worse, but let’s just take one for the team and deal with the lack of weirdness, okay?”

“What will we tell Sookie?” He asked.

“I find that with Sookie, the truth wins out, so let’s just live and learn and maybe be honest?”

“Who knew?” He asked with pseudo incredulity.

“I’ll see ya, alright?”

“Yeah, sure, thanks….Eric. It means… well… it means a lot.”

I nodded, not really sure where we went from there, but I felt more like a grown up because of it, and I took that as a really good thing.

SPOV:

“But I don’t know who she is, why do you wanna be takin’ me away? That girl, I don’t know that girl, is she here to rob me? I hidden a safe you know, she’ll never steal my money, she’ll not rob me dry!” Gran had been fine when I’d arrived, smiling, waving, telling me of how the staff had been so nice to her, and she’d even met Maxine’s niece who was a nurse now, and then she just flipped a switch and lost her shit. I got a tray in the mouth for my troubles, and split lip as a result. The nurses had to restrain her, and honestly it was one of the worse sights I remembered seeing in my whole life.

“Miss Stackhouse?”

“Yes?” I said as an older woman, a doctor approached me.

“I’m Doctor Ludwig, we spoke on the phone? I’m the –”

“You’ve been looking after her?”

“Yes, Miss Stackhouse –”

“Sookie, please.” I insisted.

“Well, Sookie, we got the test results back, and it is as we feared, Alzheimer’s disease, and it’s somewhat advanced I’m sorry to say.”

I inhaled but I couldn’t tell you if I exhaled.

“I see…so…I mean what does that mean for her, for us, what do we do from here?”

“I would suggest full time care, as you can see,” she nodded to my hand as I held the ice-pack to my lips, “her behaviour is quite erratic, and it’s hard to say what she’ll be experiencing from one mood to the next, full time care allows us to monitor her and take care of her in a safe environment.”

“You mean a home.”

“No, a medically equipped residential living space.”

“Different words, same place, Doc.”

She nodded, “Sookie, I really do feel it would be for the best, for all concerned. If you have any other family, perhaps they can aid in your decision making process. I know it’s not an easy choice to make –”

“No, it’s not; it’s not a choice at all. I promised her that she wouldn’t be stuck in some home, with strangers taking care of her, she’d be in her own home taken care of by her family.”

“I see…”

“What are my options?”

“Full time carer, we can recommend you some names, it’s expensive, but …”

“its fine, thank you. Is there anything else?”

“Anything….else?” the doctor looked a tad confused.

“Well, I still want to take her home with me today, is there anything else I need to know or have in order to do that…”

“Miss Stack-”

“Sookie! For goodness sakes, I’m being straight with you, be straight with me!” I lashed at her verbally causing her to purse her lips.

“There is a list of medications she’ll have to be administrated, specific times, doses, in order. That teamed with her heart medication, it can get complicated.”

“I’m a quick study, give me a how-to guide and I’ll be fine, anything else?”

“The carer, it should be organized as soon as possible, a live-in one if possible.”

“Why is that?”

“Mrs Stackhouse had to be restrained three times in the last twenty four hours –”my heart sank, the thought of her here in restraints while I was off enjoying myself. I felt so guilty I thought it was going to consume me.

“She’s a bit of a wanderer, at night specifically it can be dangerous without the proper supervision, which is why my first choice for her is residential –”

“It’s not my first choice, but thank you.”

I looked from the doctor down the hall to the room where I heard my Gran still shouting.

“Sookie, we can keep her here tonight, to give you some time to … get things in order at home. If you still wish to go ahead with Plan B, that is.”

I sniffled back my tears; I didn’t want to cry, not again.

“Um, yes, thank you that would be…helpful.”

I had no idea where to start.

I walked back to her room again after signing all the necessary paperwork, receiving the package of information I’d need from here on out, and I crossed the door to see Gran, strapped by blue straps to her bed.

“Gran?”

She looked at me, but she didn’t speak, “Gran it’s Sookie, remember me?”

She looked blank, I guess Gran wasn’t home at the moment; it was gut wrenching to realize.

“Gran, I need to go now, but I’ll be back tomorrow and I’ll be taking you home, okay? Everything will be okay tomorrow, I promise. I promise, okay?”

Still nothing but a blank stare, and then I didn’t hold back my tears.

“God I wish this wasn’t happening to you….”

I walked over to the bed and I loosened the restraints a little, how dare they, I thought, do this to her. I understood why, rationally, but emotionally, I hated them all for it.

“You just try and get some rest okay, just rest and I’ll be back with everything organized for you before you know it!” I tried to sound upbeat, failing miserably of course as I did so. I walked out of that hospital in a daze, only to get to my car, to find Eric standing there. Leaning against my car, his long sleeved grey t-shirt and dark jeans hugging him just right, the sunshine making his dirty blond hair seem even lighter, he smiled when he saw me, and then his expression changed.

“Where is she?”

“You… hate hospitals…you’re here?”

“I… well yeah, about before … I was an ass but I have good news about that in a minute –”

“You’re no longer an ass?” I asked, confused.

“No, never mind that for a second, Sook. Where’s Adele?”

“She’s still inside, Eric there’s so much that needs to be done and I don’t know how to do it all. I don’t know if I can do it all!” I sobbed, accepting his open and always present cuddle in an instant.

“It’s everything we didn’t want it to be…” I said simply.

“Oh, Sweetheart…”

“I have a list as long as my arm and we need a carer, and we need medications, and locks and restraints and …” I inhaled, “I don’t know if I can do this… I can’t do this it’s too much, I’m too scared.”

“Okay, okay, Shh, its okay…”

“It’s really not…” I hiccupped, “this isn’t how are lives are meant to be right now, this isn’t how HER life is meant to be right now, its all so fucking un fucking fair.”

“I know, it is, but Sook, we’ll weather this, like we do everything else.”

“I don’t remember signing up for a damn hurricane hunt!”

“No, we didn’t but we’ll deal with it just like we dealt with the shitty timing of everything else where we’re concerned, I promise, we’ll just do it one step at a time.”

“I don’t –”

“Your dad is at the house, Jason is on his way over, they’re cooking dinner so we might want to get take out before hand,” he smiled, kissing me on the forehead, “you’re going to come home with me, eat, bathe, and sleep.”

“But no I have to start calling –”

“No, that is what her son, and her Grandson are for right now, they’ll do their share, because if they object, I’ll make them do it if they like it or not… I think Jason is kinda scared of me now.”

“Why’s he scared?”

“Oh, I don’t know, I might have read him the riot act about leaving you to do this alone….maybe. Your Dad was fine though, he’s willing to step up. He’s a good man, just a very…busy man.”

I nodded, wiping my eyes.

“Thank you, Love. Really, I don’t know where I’d be if you –”

“You’d be just fine, we both know you’re as hard as nails, but yes, this is what we have to do now, we can hold each other up when we need it, right?”

“Right…Yeah, I guess so.”

“And they’ll be plenty of people to help out, I promise. You, me, your Dad, Jason, his wife who I don’t know but damn well going to bet, I’ll be making her help too,” I smiled at his words, “and you know, her friends who know and love her, and our friends.”

“Our friends? Honey, I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not but I lost most of my friends through a drunker tirade of honesty a while back, and you… lost your best friend because of me, and us, and our actions I don’t really think-”

“That was the semi good news…”

“Oh?” I had no idea what he was on about, I was so emotionally drained I wasn’t really sure about anything we were talking about.

“I talked to Alcide….” He admitted bashfully.

“Talked to? Now, my talk to do you mean with your mouth or your fists because if its –”

“We just talked, and maybe ate your ice-cream while we did it. But, we just aired some laundry as they say around here, and we cleaned a few things up.”

I looked at him for a second, stunned.

“Really?”

“Don’t look so suspicious, it went well, a lot better than I think either of us was expecting.”

“Oh….”

“Yeah, so we’ve got one more in the allies’ box, at least a little bit.”

I was sceptical and I knew he could see it in my face, but I didn’t care. I’d worry about that tomorrow, tomorrow was another day and right now I had enough on my plate just for this day. A day I wished harder than anything would just be over.

But then I’d just do it all over the next day too. We didn’t sign up for Hurricane hunting, but we’d damn well just found ourselves in the middle of a enormous one!


A/N: Much love and thanks for the reviews and private messages and tweets and comments on the blog! It’s all adored and it really does keep the motivation going! xox


Chapter 28: Chapter 28


Hey guys, remember this story? Rather long chapter for you right now with a little warning. It was mostly written under the influence of pain, pain meds, lack of sleep, and a lot of water. It is also not beta’d, so there is also that. *Bites nails* I want to say thanks for all the comments on the last post on the blog last night as well as all the well wishing, it was very sweet and most welcomed after my insane gif filled rant lol! So, thank you, again. xox

When we left Eric and Sookie in Southern Belles we had them facing the storm that is a sick relative and all the choices and the sacrifices that comes with that as regards each other and their careers.

SPOV:

I ran my hands through my hair, debating once again on the decisions we’d made. In the weeks that had passed slowly since Gran had got out of hospital we were faced with a lot of decisions, ones that were necessary and had to be made quickly. We all hoped we were doing what was best for her, and for everyone involved, I hoped we were too but it was hard to know what was right. Soon we were into yet another new month of madness and things just kept on ticking. We’d done everything the hospital had advised, we’d hired a carer to watch out for her at night, help us with her in the evenings and such, but just to be there as a support system. As it turns out we’d have needed it. Daddy, Jason and Eric made an unexpectedly amazing team together when it came to Gran, and honestly when it came to me too. hey really pulled us both together when I felt in the moments where we became complete strangers to her, and it torn me apart. But they managed to make it that little bit less worse than it might have been. She rapidly deteriorated after she came home, despite the meds – or at times I thought because of them – she became violent more often, and had her forgetful spells a hell of a lot more often too. I was stressed to the max running around after her all day, so much so that I was slipping out of my jeans without a belt, and I knew Eric was worrying about me but said little as he knew I was set on things being how they were. Eric had been in essence a complete tower of strength to me, to everyone involved. For a guy that ran from the idea of family, that loved to be a lone wolf, a total loner, he was pretty amazing at holding it all together. I made sure to try my hardest to make sure he and by extension, us, that we didn’t get lost in the shuffle as much as I could. I loved him, and I didn’t want to neglect our love just because I loved my Grandmother too.

I was sitting on the porch with some coffee and my dog eared novel, just enjoying the early morning peace, when I heard the feet come pattering out and the creak in the door sound loud that someone was coming out. A sleepy eyed Eric with a cup in hand.

“Morning, Love.” He said, kissing me quickly on the cheek and settling in beside me, “interesting book?”

“Morning, and no, I’ve read this like six times since I was a kid, I still love it though.” I said and he lifted it to see the cover.

“Little Women?”

I nodded, “its comforting reading something you know like the back of your hand is that weird?”

“Not at all, it’s very sweet. You’re very sweet.” He said, kissing my temple, “did you sleep at all last night? I know you were up a couple of times.”

“I slept a little, I mean I know Selah is out there keeping an eye, I just… like to be sure when she’s up and about if I can do anything for her to get her back to bed. I know it’s not what I’m meant to do…”

“But you do it anyway…its just your way, but Sook…I want you to start taking care of yourself a little more, okay?”

“I do!”

“You don’t. You worry for Adele, you look after me, Jason, your Dad… you come last and that’s not what I want for you.”

I just sighed, putting my book down.

“You’re taking the morning off, I had Selah book this for you.” He said producing a brochure from his robe pocket.

“A spa?” I looked from him, to it.

“It’s just a half day; I knew there was no way you’d do a full day. It’s what the doctor recommended to me for my shoulder –”that he’d messed up helping Jason clear out the spare room, those old iron beds where a bitch to shift!

“So you’re coming too?”

“Well it does say ‘couples massage’ I figured it could be kinda cool.”

“You sure about that? I mean every time I do it for you, it always ends in you getting a little too relaxed and happy, if you know what I mean…” I giggled.

“Ah but the key there is that you’re the one doing it, that’s what gives me the happy…mostly because I spend the time enjoying it and imaging where else I could be feeling those hands of yours, Hot stuff.”

Yeah I felt really hot, in my pink robe and lack of makeup or a hairbrush – or not.

“Well if you’re sure. Can –”

“Selah agreed to be here in an hour, so it gives us plenty of time to get ready and head over for a couple of hours. You need to chill, and I’m hoping this will do it, at least for a little while.”

I pouted trying not to cry, I didn’t know why I felt the urge, but his sweet gesture just over took me and I put down my coffee and crawled into his lap, wrapping my arms around his neck, kissing it a few times before I got to his mouth.

“I love you so fucking much you know? Like it should scare me how much I love you in my life like you are. I can’t imagine my world without you in it now, Eric.”

He smiled, “well at the risk of sounding super cheesy, that’s good because I feel the same about you, about us. You know?”

I nodded hugging him again before I heard Gran call my name from inside.

“I’ll be back, enjoy your coffee.” I said with a quick kiss to his lips I made my way inside.

Leaving Gran safe and sound was a huge relief to us, and she was very lucid when we left too which made it that much more great for everyone. She was happy Eric was taking care of me like he was, which sweetly made him blush, and we got to the spa in record time after a really pleasant car ride where we both cheesed out singing silly songs at the top our lungs from the old CDs I’d found in the clear out. My high school years were accompanied by a pop music soundtrack, what can I say?

Mid-massage the ladies left us alone for a while, to relax alone, and I was almost snoring when I felt his hand reach across for mine.

“I did good?” he asked, groggy too.

“Mmmm…So good. So very good…” I hummed.

“Good. And Sookie?”

“Hm?”

“No boner.” He giggled, making me giggle, and suddenly we were both in stitches laughing when the ladies came back in.

“Glad y’all are having fun, sounds like it anyway.” One of them commented and I just nodded.

“I caught a good one, a real good one.”

“That’s true, I don’t know many guys around here would do this in the middle of the week, you’re lucky…” the blonde one said and I could hear the smile on her face, even if I couldn’t see it from my position. Twenty more minutes of rubbing hot oil heaven and we were done, we’d need a shower, but all in all I knew I felt like a new woman, and I figured Eric felt that much lighter too. We left hand in hand, stupid and giddy together.

“So, I have news…” he said as we got to the car.

“Oh?”

“Hm. Lafayette texted me last night, asked if I’d be interested in a job he’s got coming up, and if it goes well, it could lead to a full time gig.”

“Oh? Honey that’s great! You going to do it?”

He looked at me, slightly drawn for a second, and the carefree Eric slipped.

“I don’t know; see… it’s for a Vogue magazine shoot in New York to start.”

“Oh…” Realisation hit me, and it wasn’t fun.

“Yeah, it’s a quick shoot but, with prep and editing… I would be gone for like ten days, and he mentioned an offer for his new magazine too. I figure he needs a senior photographer on staff there, and if the job offer came, I’d have to think about it…You know?”

Of course I knew, and I also knew this day would come. Eric was talented and coveted, his eye was something special and he got results that got noticed, it was one of the many, many things I loved about him. He was talented and he was passionate about it, and it was contagious.

“You have to do it.”

“I don’t have to, and honestly I don’t want to if it means what we think it means, Sook. I don’t wanna leave you at all, never mind for weeks at a time… it’s not what I want.”

“But you love your job, you’re good at it, and people respect you. Love, it would be dumb to pass this up, you know that.”

He looked more conflicted than I remember seeing him, and he drove in silence for a little while, before we came to the exit to go down to the old lake.

“Hey, make a left here? Right down this lane to the left, we can stop for a little bit.”

“What’s down here?” He asked when we had almost arrived.

“This is where all the kids use to go Parking.”

He smiled, “is that right?”

I nodded as he pulled up facing out to the vast lake in front of us, I remembered fishing here with my dad too when I was about six. I also remember getting to third base with Tommy Wilkins too ten years later.

“Did you ever go Parking, Sookie?” He asked a glint in his eye and a smirk ever present.

“Maybe…”

“You wanna go Parking now?”

“I do… but I wanna talk first.”

“Women…” he sighed, mockingly.

“Eric you have to do it. I’d do it. You’d want me to do it; in fact you’d make me do it. So, I’m making you do it.”

“But I don’t want to leave yo-”

“I know that, but babe, seriously… I can survive a few days out of the month, begrudgingly.” I smiled, “We can do it, right?”

He shrugged, “I know we could but it doesn’t mean we should have to.”

“No it doesn’t, but it also doesn’t mean you get to give up a huge part of who you are just to stay here either.”

“What about you, this is a part of your life too, or it was…”

It was, I guess other priorities took over.

“I know, and I still want to work my way up. I need to improve my form, I need to work too I know that, but for right now…”

He nodded, understanding the situation better than anyone, and for the second time that day I crawled into his lap, only this time with more saucy intentions.

“So, it’s settled then. You’re going to New York.” Statement, not a question, he just had to go for it.

He kissed me vigorously and I responded just as such.

“I want you back in the game with me though, soon.” He said in between kisses.

I smiled, “I still got my game, and don’t you worry about that.” I said going for his shirt buttons and I just enjoyed the feeling of him watching me watch him as I did it. I ran my hand down his chest before I pushed his shirt off his shoulders, while his hands began to creep up the back of mine. His lips went to my neck, softly making their way up behind my ear and back again.

“Mmmm.” He said, “You taste like coconuts.”

It was the oil they’d used; I’d wager he would too.

He yanked my top off, throwing it on the passenger seat as he went for the button on my shorts. I lifted my butt and shimmied them down my legs as best I could without breaking contact. I slipped my hand under his seat, sliding us back a little. The last thing I needed was to hit the horn with my ass mid-fuck.

Grinding, ass tapping, sloppy kissing and light biting was the flavour of the afternoon delight, and we were both getting off on the thought of being caught a lot more than we should have. I realized he and I did have a little bit of an outdoor kink in our sexipades history. I gripped onto the car door and the seat behind his head for more leverage once I had him inside me, panting and shallow breathing like he was and I wasn’t much different. This had to be fast, I was adventurous but I wasn’t stupid, people frequented this place in the day, and it was still early!

“Ohh…I…yes! Yes!” I moaned as I sunk deeper and he bit my lip for my troubles. It was hot, and he knew I liked that.

“Don’t break skin…” I said, smiling as I picked up the pace before I dug my teeth into his bare shoulder, he cried out in response, yanking me back to face him.

“You…either…last time…” he smiled pushing me down harder, and yes, last time I had broken skin, sinking into him a little too hard as I came.

We both panted and I buried my face in his neck again in an attempt to silence my cries, tasting sweat there now where there had just been nothing before.

“Jesus holy fucking Christ…Fuck.” He moaned and I knew that meant only one thing, so I picked up the pace again and he instinctively knew I was close, just not as close as him, the next thing I knew his fingers were inside me too, and I felt the slow build get faster and faster before it spread through me, leaving me warm and deviously tingling top to toe and everywhere in between as we came together. It almost never happened like that, but when it did, it was pretty fuckin’ awesome. It took us both a few minutes to come down, just getting our breathing under control, as I found my way back into my clothes.

“That’s how us country girls do it.” I said with a smirk before I clasped my bra and dragged my shirt back up over my head.

“I fuckin’ love country girls.”

“Oh is that right?” I said giving him the side eye.

“Well, okay maybe just this one country girl, we’re kind of a thing now.”

“Goin’ steady huh? I’m crushed.”

“She is a lucky girl, all the other girls at lunch think so…” he said whimsically and it earned him a poke on the arm.

“Okay, let’s go Cowboy, funs over.”

He groaned, but tucked himself in and started the car again.

“We so need to shower.”

“Yes, we do, heavy foot it home, Jeeves.” I teased.

“Yes, Ma’am.” He gave in his best and yet somehow still awful Southern accent.

Over the next couple of days, Eric and I became somewhat inseparable, more so even than we were before, and all because we knew he’d be leaving soon. It was only for a few days, a week max, but it still wasn’t something either of us was looking forward to particularly. Leaving him at the airport sucked, I was excited for him, but at the same time, I was being left behind, on my terms. I hated myself right then for being the stupid supportive girlfriend, and the stupid supportive Granddaughter. So, I did what I do best, I wish him well, almost kissed his face off, gave him a semi boner, waved him off and cried in the car on the way home. Celine Dion may or may not have been playing while I did so. For a week I moped, but I also did my bit and took care of Gran, we went on walks when she was lucid, and we stayed indoors when she wasn’t. I was also becoming a dab hand at this whole gardening thing; it was very soothing, that or I was just literally turning into my mother. I shuddered at the thought.

Speaking of my mother, things had been strained before, but after Dad and Jason because blatant Team Sookie, things only managed to get that much more worse. I hated it and I wanted to put it to bed, as Gran would say. I wanted to have a good relationship with my mother, but I figured those days were long past, but they were on my bucket list of things to do, I’d get around to it, eventually. I hoped. For the time being I’d focus on the only ‘mother’ that ever really looked out for me, and I’d do it with pleasure because I knew she’d have done the same for me.

Having taken Gran on the weekly doctor checkup, as well as to the store so we could shop around and decide what we needed for the time being, I’d filled up another three days of errands, and care-taking, seeing Jason and my Dad regularly helped a lot, and Selah was working out well as a night nurse for Gran too. I missed Eric more than I thought I would and judging by his hourly texts, he was feeling the pinch too. But, we soldiered on, having been told he was needed for an extra five days, he had to stay in New York, neither of us was thrilled about it, but we made do. Lafayette on the other hand was threatening to come visit and ‘keep his woman warm’ for him, over Skype, he was never not hilarious, even if Eric side eyed him like crazy, it made me smile.

At the grocery store I overheard Milly Anderson, who was basically the school bike back in the day, but somehow managed to marry the guy who was meant to be running for Senator? Well, I overheard her in one of the aisle’s talking on her phone, about Alcide and his spat with his mother and sister and that apparently there was a ‘scandal’ waiting to come out.

I knew it would only be one thing, and I knew it had to have come from Janice, that woman gossiped more than a tabloid. I decided to drop my things off at the house and take a drive over to see him, if things were about to blow up in his face, my guess was he wasn’t in a good place emotionally, and it was the least I could do to go check on him.

I walked into the house with so many emotions swirling around in my head. It was weird to be back there, number one. Number two, he really hated the deco I had picked out. Now everything was darker grey, blacks, and greens. Very bachelor paddish.

“Oh this is just sad. This is just…all kinds of sad.” I said as I found him on the couch covered in that old blanket we bought in Pottery Barn like a zillion years ago, covered in Cheeto dust, and stinking of booze.

“Alcide, really?”

“Go away.” He said from under his blanket.

“No.”

“How’d you get in anyhow?”

“I used my key.” I said, panting myself next to him on the sofa of sadness.

“Okay, go away…” he said again still not looking at me.

“So your mom finally gets it, huh? I take it shit went down?”

He sniffled a little before sitting up straight, still inside his blanket of sorrow.

“You could say that, she threw me out of the house, Janice won’t even look at me, my life is over, Sookie.”

I sighed, ” ‘Cide your life is far from over, tell me what happened?”

“The letters kept coming, and then the photos…”

“There were photos? Oh… of what exactly?” I asked, cautiously.

“Me, kissing a guy, pretty damn hard to defend that to her, you know?”

“Oh…” I nodded.

“Yeah…Bottom line, I just have to move, maybe China, China could be good. It’s far. Far is good.”

“Okay this is ridiculous, you need to get off your ass, go shower, and shave that…thing on your face, and just come eat food with me.”

He looked at me, stunned.

“Why are you doing this?”

“What?”

“This, being super nice to me?”

“Because I’m damn delightful, that’s why….”I joked.

“Sookie, after all the shit that went down with us, you being nice is just weirding me out.”

“Okay, yes, it might be weird but it’s only weird if we make it weird. Now, you were able to forgive Eric right? The bro code is in place again and all that jazz, you and I we’ve both had a long time to get to grips with who we really are. And who we are, is not a couple who were destined to be a couple –”

“Destined?”

“Yeah I’ve been home a lot, watching a lot of the Own network.” I sighed, “anyway, my point is, you’re gay, Sweetie, you like dick, almost if not more than I do, that was always going to be the straw that broke the camels back, you know? And I’m bored. Eric is in New York and I have no friends here anymore, and I’d like us to be friends, at least. And, from the sounds of things your friendship metre is in the shitter too, so hey, let’s not be losers who eat alone and go get some Creole for dinner and some tequila?”

He looked at me, pondering for a few moments before he broke what looked like a smile.

“Okay.”

I nodded, “okay, go do that and I’m going to open some windows and judge the colour of your walls.”

He rolled his eyes, “After you left I kind of went on an Anti-Sookieing spree, a lot of dark…I was in a dark place…”

“I see that, literally and figuratively. You are like the worst gay, ever. Seriously.” I laughed as he passed me, padding his way up the stairs.

I heard him pottering about upstairs as I gave the place a quick clean up, memory lane working over time, on what might have been had things been different. I realized I’d have been his housewife, still, had I not stood up for myself. That we’d both have still been living a lie, a lie that it was clear everyone around him just wanted to believe, including me for a time. I would have been so completely unhappy, so completely unfulfilled, so completely without Eric. I thought of him, and I smiled. He’d been gone two weeks, and was due back by the end of the week, but it was still too long. Skype just was not as good as the real thing. I pulled out my phone and dialled his number, walking out to the back porch as it rang.

“Hello?” He said, winded, he was outside.

“Hey you.”

“Hey! I was just thinking about you –”I could hear the smile in his voice, I loved that, “I’m on the first flight out of here on Friday, I can’t wait.”

“That’s great, really great. I’m dying to see you.”

“Mmm…” he hummed, and I could only imagine what he was thinking.

“What are you up to right now?” I asked, noting the dust on the porch table and rolling my eyes.

“Just got out of a shoot, it was a disaster, the model could barely hold her head up she was so stoned.” He sighed. “It took twice as long and I’m going to have to ‘shop the shit out of these to make them presentable, but, the day is over and I’m going back to the apartment to crash. You?”

“Well,” I shifted, not sure if this would be awkward or not, “I’m going out to dinner, with Alcide.”

There was silence, for a second.

“Oh…” he said and that worried me.

“Oh, good for you Sookie for moving on and starting fresh or Oh, what the fuck are you doing with your gay ex-husband?”

“No…I … I mean that’s good… it’s good that you’re willing to let by gones be gone and all that… I guess.” He sounded unsure.

“I don’t love him you know?”

“I know, I know. I’m just… bad memories, you know?”

“I do, and I can’t change those, but I can reassure you –”

“I don’t need you to do that, I know you love me, I know that you don’t love him, and you never loved him like what we have. I know.” He sounded then sincere and that filled me with so much joy in that second.

“Damn straight, no pun intended,” I laughed, “he’s going through some stuff…I need food, he needs food. We’re embracing not being losers who eat alone.”

“That makes sense.”

“It does…Two days.”

“Yup, two days and you’re all mine baby, all mine and trust me when I say the things I’ve got planned will – ” at that I looked back inside and Alcide was in the kitchen slugging water, too awkward, so I stopped.

“Well?” Eric chuckled on the other end of the phone.

“Just think, that time in France teamed with that one time when Alexi went to Spain for the weekend, with oils.”

He burst out laughing, “Damn. Woman…”

“Hey, it’s been a long ass two weeks, Buddy; I’ve had a lot of time to think!”

He continued to laugh, “Anyway,” I said “I got to go, I’m starving and have to be back before nine for Gran.”

“Right, yeah of course… How is she?”

“Eh, the same I guess? I mean the new meds have been working great so far, less violent outbursts, but you know…”

“I do, I’m sorry.”

“No, don’t be, it’s fine. It is what it is.”

“But just that I’m here –”

“We discussed this, there is no guilt. I mean unless you come back without presents, then there’s guilt.” I smiled.

“I love you.”

“Love you too, text me later?” I said.

“I will, tell ‘Cide I said…well, just tell him I say hey.”

“I will. Bye, Love.”

A few awkward silences later and Alcide and I managed to make our way to a table, and at least on my part refrain from ordering everything on it, I was that hungry.

“So, you going to give me details or do I have to make you do shots first?” I asked after the waitress took our order.

He sighed, looking a lot older than his years in that moment.

“Someone kept sending the letters, and that same person sent the photos of me and my…friend. Same hand writing, and because they sent copies to me too.”

“Holy vindictive…”

“I know, I mean I don’t know who else I’ve pissed off more…other than you, and I know it wasn’t you. I really just wish I’d handled every …everything differently.” He said looking regretful, and I knew he meant us too.

“Me too, but hey, we learned our lessons right?”

He chortled, “Did I though? Had I learned I would have just manned up and told my family who I really am, but I didn’t? I hid it, and I lied and now it’s all hit the fan and I don’t know what to do from here on out.”

“I think you need to talk, with your mom and your sister? Just, sit down somewhere …public where there are witnesses should Janice get slap happy…” I smiled, “and just talk to them.”

“That’s just it, my Mom she couldn’t even look at me, Sookie, like I crushed her heart.”

“Your mother is melodramatic, Alcide, we both know that. This is a woman that burst into tears because I wouldn’t allow her choice of flowers at the wedding, remember? She’s also the woman that wanted your third cousin Dixie to sing, and I said ain’t nobody named Dixie going into my wedding, and then she cried, again. So really you just got to do it, and then it’ll be over. Like ripping off a band aid, or leg waxing.” I mused.

“I wish I was as brave as you.”

“I’m not brave, not really, I’m just…more secure in myself now that I don’t give a flying fuck what people say or think of me. Sometimes it hurts, sure, but most of the time… being away from here…that small town mentality leaves you eventually. And eventually you stop caring what random people think and just know that it only matters what you think, what you do and that the people that love you are with you…”

He ‘hummed’ at me and sipped his water, just before our dishes arrived and I just about died from saliva over production.

We got half way through the meal, chit chatting about our old friends, about old times, and about old mistakes when he suddenly turns three shades of white – which for him and his perma-tan, wasn’t easy.

“Oh shit, shit. Don’t say anything okay…just…”

I looked to where he was looking and it was Sarah, Sarah Newlin, and she’d spied us and she looked positively livid. I didn’t ignore her, in fact I smiled and I waved making Alcide groan.

“Sookie Stackhouse…What in the world?” she said as she approached the table, her best pageant smile in place. She was so waspy, it was hilarious. Pearls in place, pastel for days, good Lord I could have ended up like that.

“High, Sarah how are you?” I asked my own fake smile in place.

“Oh I’m just so good right now; I’m in such a good place. I guess you heard Steven and I divorced?”

Oh, it was Steven now?

“I did, I’m sorry.”

“I’m not.” She said, glaring at Alcide.

Awkward.

“Well, I mean it’s probably for the best –”

“Is it? Is it? Like it was for the best for you to divorce your Queer and run off with the guy you were fucking on the side.”

“Meow,” I said, laughing at her outburst, Alcide looked like he just wanted to die.

“I just wanted to say Hello, Sarah. Not start world war fucking three, okay? You’re husband was gay, you need to accept that.”

“I had accepted it!” she whispered harshly, her face going a scary shade of red, “and it was working, everything was fine until …he… they can you believe it? They ‘loved’ each other? Can…I can’t. And he…” she glared at Alcide, “ruined my life, Sookie. My reputation, my marriage…”

“The fact that your husband was fucking men, sorta already did that, Sweetie.” I said.

She pursed her lips and I genuinely thought she was going to explode.

“You both just couldn’t leave enough alone, could you? You had to go and leave and –”

“And what? Live a genuinely happy life? Damn, how fucking selfish of me, I should have just stayed with him, making us BOTH miserable; yeah that’s a much better idea. You’re cracked you know that. No one gives shit about your reputation, only you, Sarah. Times have changed, thank JESUS, and we’re not debutants anymore, nothing matters because we’re grown ass women!”

“You …he still ruined my life so I don’t feel bad for ruin…” she stopped herself but I caught it, she backed away from the table, “I need to go… I just need to go…” she said backing away before she started to speed up as she got to the door.

“I’ll be right back.” I said to Alcide, ignoring his attempts to stop me.

I found her standing on the side of the path, waiting for a cab.

“It was you, wasn’t it?” I asked, not caring that the other side of the street was packed.

“I don’t know what you’re –”

“You had him followed, you sent his mother those letters, it was you wasn’t it?”

She wouldn’t look at me, but I didn’t need her too, I knew it to be true.

“Jesus Christ, Sarah. Why?”

“He ruined EVERYTHING. My family, my future, my re-”

“Oh my God enough with the reputation already. Woman you own your own business, you’re successful, you’re beautiful. What could being married possible do to make it better-”

“Because now I’m the sister that got passed over for a MAN, Sookie. Not even another woman, a fucking man!”

“I know how that feels.”

“No, you don’t because you left here, and you didn’t see the looks and the stares and the gossiping. You didn’t have to witness any of it because you were off fucking your fancy man and the rest of us were left to pick up the damn pieces.”

I snapped at that, just because I wasn’t around didn’t mean that I wasn’t left with a mess to clean up.

“Do you know what it was like, Sarah? To strive for that acceptance, of all of you? To be this perfect woman? With the perfect life? When we all know it was all lies, every last one of us. My boyfriend liked your husband; I liked my boyfriend’s best friend. Tara’s husband beat the shit out of her on a weekly basis and she did nothing, Hadley was pregnant when she got married, and Pam was a lesbian! And yet we all tried to lie to each other, and our damn-selves to fit this stupid cookie cutter image of what our fucked up families told us to be true. It’s not, none of it is. None of it matters. All that matters is that you make yourself happy, however you do it is up to you!”

“It’s not that easy –”

“No, it’s not easy, it’s so fucking hard…but that’s the point! Life is hard and for you to go and deliberately make Alcide’s life harder just to spite him? That’s fucked up.”

“Maybe, but I don’t regret it. He ruined my life, so now I ruin his. Just like I did to Steve, they have to pay for what they did to us, Sookie. They lied!”

I just sighed, she was still so angry, and it was turning her bitter.

I never wanted to turn out like that.

“No, Hun, you’re lying to yourself and you probably have been for a long time. Just leave him alone, please?”

“Why are you defending him?”

“I’m not defending him, but I’m not condemning him either, that’s not my place. I’ve moved on, you haven’t yet, but you will and you’ll look back and be so ashamed of doing this. I knew you once, and you’re not that girl, Sarah.”

“How do you know that? You don’t know shit about me anymore!”

“I know because you’re not your mother, and if you are then I’ve lost all hope for what we all swore we’d never become, but most of us were well on our way, and that’s the fucked up thing in all this. We became what they wanted us to be, when we swore we wouldn’t…” I said holding up my hands, and just letting it sit with her, and then I went back inside to finish my meal. Where I met a courious and terrified looking Alcide, I’d had enough of everyone’s bullshit.

“Eat up, because we’re going somewhere after dinner.”

“What? Where are we going?”

“We’re going to your mother’s and we’re going to hash this out once and for all, Alcide. You can’t keep wasting your life on other people’s opinions, it’s yours, it’s the only one you got, and I’m going to need you to do this.”

“I can’t, they hate me.”

“So? If they do then it’s their loss. You’re a good man, just not so loyal or straight to your girlfriends…but hey I’m not one to talk.” I smiled, “but you and whoever was in those photos…if it’s a thing and I think it is… then you both deserve to be happy. You can’t be happy with this up in the air, so we’re going and we’re gonna talk it out with them. If they can’t accept you, then…excuse my French, but Fuck them. You go and you make a life for yourself then. You can do it. I have faith in you, just like you knew I me breaking free was the best thing I could do for myself… I’m returning the favour, I guess.”

He nodded, and I guess my pep-talk helped because he agreed and we even skipped desert to do it. He never skipped desert.

So much for a quite night away, there’s not such thing in this town!


😀 Hit that little button, go on you know you want to! 😉


Chapter 29: Chapter 29


EPOV:

I hung up the phone and turned to Lafayette as we both reached the café and took our seats inside, the cold November chill hitting New York relentlessly. Everything felt different there than it did in Louisiana, the weather being no exception.

“Did I hear you right? She’s with Alcide?” he asked. And I just nodded, aiming for the menu.

Yep.”

“And you don’t think that’s…weird?”

“No, I mean… I guess it is and it isn’t. We’re good, you know? And I trust her completely, and he’s still very gay.”

“But?”

I sighed, not really wanting to get into it again but knowing he wouldn’t let it drop until I did, either.

“It’s just… I hear them together all that shit that we went through, all those months and months of self inflicted misery come back to me, and I hate that feeling. I hate being insecure, because I know logically at least I have no real reason to, she loves me.”

“But you still feel it? Maybe because you two haven’t really settled down yet. Everything with you guys seemed very casual.”

I raised my brows at him, unsure of what he meant.

“Huh?”

“I don’t mean the emotions, no, it’s obvious you guys are nuts for each other,” he smiled, “I just mean where things are going. I’ve had conversations with Sookie where it seemed like she never wanted to get married again, she’d been there, done that, and I’ve had conversations with you where it’s pretty obvious you want to be there and you want to do that – with her.”

I stayed silent and let him continue, “and there’s an obvious question that needs asking and it’s not been asked or even addressed as far as I can tell.”

“I never thought I’d want it, you know? With anyone, it always scared me, the idea of being tied legally and emotionally to something? Kids…It was always my worst fear.”

“And then she came along?”

“Yeah, something like that. I think I realized it for real when I watched her walk up that aisle to him, and I wished harder than anything that she’d been walking towards me, and she wasn’t.”

He sipped his water and took in what I’d said before he rolled his eyes “Y’all are so fucking dramatic, honestly, how is there not a movie based on your love?”

“Shut up…”

“Honestly, Eric, it’s not hard. You love each other, clearly, and yeah shit gets in the way, but you both found this chance and if it’s what you want, I say go for it.”

“I can’t, she’s been there, and she’s done that. And, I don’t blame her for not wanting to go there with us; we’re fine as we are, really. We haven’t even been together officially for a year yet, and a lot has happened in this eleven months dude, I’d be happy with a busy life with her just as we are too. I’m not saying I need a big white wedding, I’m not a girl…”

“Ah yes, but unofficially you’ve been in love with this girl for years now, and she with you by all accounts, and that love survived other relationships, distance, and a lot of time, that has to stand for something more than most, Eric. And no, if any of us is having that big white wedding it’ll be me,” he cocked his brows, “but I think you need a little something from her, to prove maybe that you’re in there now” me motioned to his heart, “and that you belong…”

I smiled, he was right, he was so right.

“I’m just saying, talk it out. You want that girl as your wife or even just a fabalush fiancé? You look at her and she takes that fear away? There’s just one question you need to ask her…”

I shook my head at his subtle as a brick pushing. “It won’t be happening, at least not while you’re keeping me chained to that camera here, when she’s there.” I dug into my steak, hoping he’d lay off, and for a time he did as we discussed work and him and his relationship for a change. I was thankful for the distraction because after that it was just me, alone in an apartment paid for by the magazine, alone, did I mention alone? Because I was, and it sucked, and so I did what I told Sookie I was going to do – I crashed, only to be woken up by my alarm on my phone at five the next morning.

Awesome, more pissed off, hungry, angry and high models to deal with before breakfast.

It was my last night shoot for at least two weeks; I was on the first flight out of JFK the next morning and I’d soon be wrapping myself in the arms of my Sookie, it sounded like utter heaven. For the time being I was in a warehouse, surrounded by managers, agents, stylists, and lights lots and lots of very hot lights. The theme of the second shoot was hunger, and it took forever because of the props, I had such a love hate relationship with props throughout my career, always in the way, but sometimes they just made the shot a thousand times better. By the time six pm rolled around I was just happy to be cutting loose, I just wanted to order takeout and stream some mind numbing movie before I went to sleep, that sounded good. Boring, but good. I liked boring, sometimes when you were really tired, and wanted to be somewhere else, boring was the best choice.

I wasn’t allowed to indulge in my evening of walking around naked and eating my body weight in New York City pizza, no, instead I had to be social and drop by Lafayette’s place for dinner and some drinks, and I knew it would also include a lot of work discussion.

By seven thirty I was starving, and we’d been served an array of tiny finger food before the actual dinner, apparently Jesus was a dab hand in the kitchen lately and we were his experimenters. It wasn’t half bad, but then again it wasn’t pizza. At the dinner it was Laf, Jesus, myself and one of the model’s from the shoot the day before, Nela, and her agent, and one of the investors for Lafayette’s magazine. So, I was right the conversation rarely went beyond business. Their business, their work, my work, the magazine, it was tiring but I pepped up when I went to the bathroom and managed to sneak a call to Sookie.

“You’re good at this though, you can schmooze with the best of them.” She said chewing on the other end of the phone.

“I know, I just don’t feel up to it tonight, it’s been a really long couple of weeks and I just –”

“Want to come home to me, my wonderfulness and the sex?”

I smirked. “Something like that, not just the sex though.”

“Yeah but almost three weeks without it, you want the sex, I know, I gets it, I know.” She laughed adopting a rather hilarious ghetto intonation.

“Well, as long as you know, there are models out there flirting with me too, it’s hot.”

“Bitches.”

I laughed out loud, “Nah, they’re cute…but crazy.”

“But I’m cute but crazy; oh my God they’re just your type!” she gasped, “Personally you should just go tap them, it might make you feel-”

“Don’t even joke about that, you know I would never.” I said making my way out of the bathroom and onto the patio, the other guests were being regaled in the living area and I went unnoticed.

“I know you wouldn’t, and just for the record, I would never either… six foot woman with no boobs? Not really my type, I mean if you’re going to go gay, at least get some motorboat action goin’ on.”

She giggled, and I loved that we were in that place. The place where everything between us was just that, between us.

“At least that’s what Pam tells me, she also tells me she’s coming back for Christmas; we should have her over –”

“I agree, I’ve missed her too.” I said looking out over the classic and never boring New York City skyline, I loved the city, I loved my job, but I loved my girl more and if she were here, all my loves would be in one place and I’d feel a lot less anxious and split in two. But I knew and accepted for now that just wasn’t to be. I wanted Adele well and happy, and having Sookie around was the main way to ensure that stayed the way it was. I couldn’t be selfish with her, I wouldn’t be.

“I have so much to tell you when you get home, mostly about how I made another show of myself to Alcide’s mom.”

“Shit, really?”

She sighed, “Yeah, it’s a long story, there was alcohol involved and outings, and I think I called her Gay-sist.”

I burst out laughing at that, “really?”

“Yeah…” she sounded like she was cringing, and cooking. I liked her cooking.

“Well, I look forward to it. I’ll be in by three at the latest I think?”

“Cool, you want me to pick you up?”

“Nah we’re good, I need a rental anyway.”

“Okay, well, I’m making Gran something to eat here, so I’ll let you go, but, tomorrow night…” I heard her grin.

“Of course.”

“Okay I’m going, being horny and indulging in improper phone etiquette with my Grandmother sitting like … mere feet away, it’s wrong. I love you, byeee.”

“I love you too.” I said before hanging up, and I still had a stupid grin on my face, when Nela came out, wine glass in hand. She was almost as tall as me wearing her scary looking heels, and a barely there dress that looked great on her darker skin tone, her hair was long and sleek just like the rest of her. It was November and I was in three layers and still freezing standing where we were, she was committed to that dress, that’s for sure.

“Are you hiding out here? We’re not that bad, are we?”

“No, of course not. I was just calling my girlfriend.”

“Oh.” Her face fell for a second, “I thought for sure since Lafayette invited us both here tonight he was going to try and set us up, I didn’t know you had a girlfriend.”

Awkward.

“Oh, well, that’s not what this is.” I shook my head and moved to make my way back inside, but she touched my arm, stopping me.

“It still could be, if you wanted it to be.”

I looked at her strangely, surely she wasn’t for real?

“Nela…”

“I liked working with you, Eric. You’re very capable, and I liked that I felt safe on that set with you. Like no matter what silly situation we were in, I was safe with you at the helm.” She flirted; it had been a while since I’d been so blatantly hit on. I wasn’t sure how to handle it.

“I…I’m really flattered…”

She bit her lip, and yes, she was a stunning woman, but I wasn’t that guy, not anymore.

“Nela, under any other circumstance, I’d probably be halfway back to my place with you right now.”

She smiled and I just felt like squirming.

“But, I’m with someone that I love, and it’s not something I’m willing to fuck up for anything, we’ve worked too hard at it for something like this to get in the way.”

She rolled her eyes, “She doesn’t have to know. She’s not even here.”

Classy.

“That’s not the point, look, you’re a beautiful woman, and it’s your job to be so of course you are. But I can’t…and more to the point… I won’t. Excuse me.”

“Where are you going?” she asked the flirtatious tone gone from her voice, now she just sounded annoyed.

“I want to be half way back to my place by now, alone.” I said as I made my exit, apologising to Lafayette and Jesus for bailing early, blaming my early flight.

It was still hot for November, well hotter than New York anyhow, which couldn’t have been difficult given it was below zero when I hopped on the plane. Touching down, I welcomed the heat and tried to get to the rental car place as quick as I could. Sookie had text, telling me she was making a huge lunch and that I’d better be all kinds of hungry, given the excessive amount of smiley faces and exclamation points, I’d gathered she was either excited or highly caffeinated. Or both, probably both.

I pulled up by the house and let myself in; the sound of music was coming from the kitchen, loudly, so very loudly. And there she was standing by the stove, shaking her ass and singing almost as loud as the iPod, she said she had ‘Moves like Jagger’ but it looked more like ‘Moves like an Epileptic‘. I put my hand over my mouth to stop her from hearing me giggle, but it was hard not to laugh out loud at the sight before me. Shimming from side to side with her red jeans on, framing her ass magnificently with her white tee just fitting her figure perfectly, as well, giving me an excellent, if slightly hilarious view. Just as her little song and dance ended I spoke up, giving her the fright of her life.

“Sookie?”

JESUS!” she yelled, clutching her heart, turning around at rapid speed. “Oh my God you’re here…” she smiled and ran towards me and into a hug, and God I loved how good she smelled.

“You about scared me half to death!” she said breaking away, but I didn’t let her go and she didn’t let me go either, she smiled before she stood on her tiptoes to kiss me, it had been a kiss I’d waited weeks for. We broke apart and into a cuddle for a second; just taking each other in, enjoying the comfort we’d both clearly missed.

“Where’s Adele?” I asked, curious.

“She’s actually gone out, with Maxine. There’s a church fair to raise funds for new Christmas lights and to repair the big crib, she was feel great so she decided to go. Maxine said she’d bring her back here should there be any…changes.”

I nodded, “That’s great, that’s she’s feeling herself again.”

“I know, God Eric it was almost like old times this past week. Hardly any lost time, she was her old sweet self again, and it was such a relief.”

“Maybe the meds are working.”

“I hope so…” she said putting her head to my chest again as I breathed her in. Her, and the kitchen smelled amazing.

“What’ya cookin’?” I asked.

“Oh, it won’t be ready for another hour or so, big late lunch today, it’s more like a super early dinner, but you’re home so I felt the need to cook something big. Fried chicken, collared greens, mash potato, and Gran even made two of her famous pecan pies, and I even tried my hand at homemade cornbread.” She smiled, and damn my stomach just about rumbled at the sound of it all.

“Christ, you know how to welcome people home, huh?”

She grinned wider, and kissed me deeper.

“We do, with food…and other things…”

“I like Adele, I do, I just don’t think I’m really all that –”

She just slapped my chest before she turned to check on the oven and turned it off.

It’s two twenty; Gran won’t be back until four.” She said jumping quite literally into my arms.

“I assume you know the way to the shower.”

“Why the shower?” I asked heading for the stairs, she just giggled but then faked her serious face.

“Because airplane germs…we have to get them off you before I can get on you…” then she looked at our current positions and rolled her eyes, “metaphorically.”

“Oh, I see.” I sounded out taking the narrow staircase slowly with my precious cargo, “well literal or metaphorical I want it all, so, shower time it is.”

Images of my naked, hot, soaking wet girlfriend were soon to be more than fantasy, and I couldn’t wait!

A few minutes later we’d got the bathroom nice and steamed, the water wasn’t the only thing that was pumping. We had to tear ourselves away from the door to get inside the shower, neither of us all that willing to let the other go long enough to move. The hot water hit and between that and her nimble hands at work, I was in heaven. The stress of work, travelling in the too-small airplane seats, worrying about Adele, Sookie, all of it seemed to just melt away.

Bliss.

We soaped each other up enjoying the heat and sweet soapy smell, there was an intimacy to that act that I loved, even though I knew we were about to get as close physically as two people could get, getting to touch every inch of her body in such a way made everything before and after feel somewhat special. And the look on her face as she stood allowing me to wash her, her eyes closed, her mouth slightly open, and just a look of peace on her face was wonderful. She smiled, her eyes still closed before she spoke.

“I can fee you concentrating…its adorable.”

“Shh, hygiene is very important, Sookie.”

“Oh of course…” she giggled opening her eyes, then proceeding to draw circles on my chest.

“I’m glad you’re here you know? And not just all hard and naked in my tiny shower, just…here in my life, making it that much better.”

That made me smile, and leaned down to kiss her then, and before we knew it, I had her backed gently against the cold tile, she’d hiss in protest of the cold hitting her skin, but as I slipped my fingers inside her, I was glad to find she soon forgot about the cold and began chasing the orgasm right along with me. Soon she was the one deep in concentration, and that was adorable too. She clung to my shoulders when her legs started to give out, and I pushed us both under the shower spray again to heat us up just as her world began to spin as she came hard against my hand, whimpering and panting against my neck as she did so. If I was hard before, I was certainly in pain by the time she came down from her high, and I needed to do something about that. I made sure we were soap free before I stepped out of the shower, taking her hand silently to help her out too. I wrapped a towel around my waist and handed her a bigger one to do the same. We wordlessly made our way to the bedroom where she ran a smaller towel through her hair for a few seconds, and dropped her makeshift toga, allowing me to drink in her body before me. Slender legs, with hourglass hips, a waist she worked hard on and of course her breasts, those full handfuls of heaven that I had missed almost as much as the woman attached to them, almost. Her naughty smile was almost enough to set me over the edge, but thankfully she knew how much I needed her, as she pushed me back on the bed and swiftly mounted me with ease.

I held her hands together in front of me as I kissed my way up the side of her neck, onto her jaw line and finally got rewarded with her warm mouth on mine before I made my way back down to her breasts. I revelled in their softness against my lips, and in the slightly damp, shower fresh way they tasted. Kisses, licks, nibbles and kisses as she began ever so slowly to fuck me, carefully at first as she got her body used to me inside her, but soon she found her confidence again and things got more intense. Her hands went to my shoulders, pushing me down onto the bed flat, allowing me one of the best views in the world of my Sookie at work. Her chest was heaving with every breath, her still damn hair was starting to curl slightly as it dried, and her eyes closed as we both got ourselves lost in each other. I flipped us over, the change of pace and position welcomed as the intensity slowed a little for me, but not for her, she was on a mission once more, and I wasn’t about to stop her on her hunt for pleasure, in fact I would always actively encourage any pleasure that I could give her, and provide it freely when she wanted it. Her pleasure was ultimately mine, because my girl gave as good as she got, that’s for sure. Flipping us back over, ignoring her giggle as the old iron bed frame began to creak, I pushed her knees up, wrapping her legs around my ass, allowing her to have some control on how hard I thrust, not that she didn’t trust me to know the limits, but I just liked that feeling. Her hands were on me, urging me to go faster; her whimpers begged me to go harder and I did. Ignoring the beads of sweat forming on my body, ignoring the slight cramp in my foot, ignoring the fact that I really, really wanted to come but wanted her to come first – I wasn’t a douche, and if I could help it, which sometimes I just couldn’t, then she’d get hers before I got mine, and I always got mine so it seemed kind of unfair if she didn’t get hers. It’s like going out for ice-cream and eating a salad, it’s just cruel and unusual, and I wasn’t cruel…I was unusual though, but so was she so it balanced out nicely I thought.

By the time we’d cleaned ourselves up, again, and gotten redressed it wasn’t long before we heard a car pull up outside the house, Adele was home, and thankfully she was home with a smile on her face. Sookie had finished off the cooking, while I helped with serving. I might not know my recipes but I knew my manners, and I knew that Maxine was still sitting in judgement of me, I was the ‘other man’ after all, the one that ‘ruined’ Sookie’s marriage, although with the whole Alcide thing, it would be clear I wasn’t the only ‘other man’ in the picture and it had nothing to do with Sookie.

Over the next few days things managed to get back to a certain kind of normality for us, but with the revelations about Alcide spreading across town – I guessed no thanks to Sarah and her planet sized grudge, Sookie’s name was also dug up in the gossip. And so every time she and I stepped out the front door there was an issue.

“I still can’t believe you called his mom a Gaysist. That’s not even a word.” I said, laughing as we picked some things up from the market, I pushed the cart as she went through her little pink list of things that we needed.

“I know, don’t remind me. I like to make up words when I’m drunk apparently. I also called his sister a horrific-hair-ophile, I mean the woman practically has a mullet, them things should be illegal, but I kept referring to her as the HHP with invalid opinions…” she sighed, and the more I heard about her confrontation with Alcide’s family the funnier I found it. How Sookie and Alcide had all but attacked the house, came in drunk and there was something about a rainbow slinky – one that Sookie used to show his mother how all colours were different, and how all people were like colours – they were all different but all beautiful. It was confusing, because she remembered only bits of it, but apparently there was a gay metaphor in there too – the colours of the flag of her sons people and what not. I struggled not to laugh at her misguided good intention.

I mean, I felt bad for the guy, and I felt bad for his family, they weren’t bad people, they were just a little conservative in their way of thinking, and having a gayer than gay son, doesn’t really fit into that whole frame in which they live their lives – sadly.

“Did he ever call you back?” I asked grabbing a few boxes of cereal, the boring kind and the sugar filled kind, variety was the spice of …whatever.

“Nah, he said he was going to pack up a few of his things and just go visit a friend for a while.”

“And by friend…?”

“I’m guessing boyfriend, but hey, it’s better than staying here. Facing the wrath of small town American isn’t what he needs right now. He’s not the only gay in the village and he shouldn’t be made and treated as such.” She nodded with conviction as she grabbed the eggs.

“Speaking of Gays in the Village, Lafayette called. We’re invited to a wedding, it’s disgustingly cliché, it’s on Valentines.”

“Ohh, they’re doing it? They’re actually doing it?” she came back to the cart, excited and bouncy, almost dropping the milk.

“They are, so we’ve been told to keep the date, as if we could forget it. They’re putting the plans in motion right now.”

“I mean it’s almost December can they plan a wedding that fast?”

I shrugged, I had no idea.

“I guess we’ll see.”

“Hm. I guess we will. I like them as a couple though they compliment each other really well.”

“They do.” I nudged her playfully, insinuating without words what I thought of us too. She smiled and made her way to the fruit aisle. I liked days like this, it was boring from the outside, and ten years ago had I been asked if I’d enjoy food shopping with my girl of the moment I’d probably have thought you were high. But, like all things, I grew and thankfully I grew up and not down. I realized girls of the moment were fine, but she was the girl that made the moments, and that scared the shit out of me too.

I’d been home – with her – for two weeks when I had to hit the road again, and I had that sinking feeling in my gut when I started packing up my things. Sookie had left the house that morning to go pick up ‘bits from home’ for Lafayette for me to pack and I was left with Adele. I like her, as a woman she was fun when she was with us, and she was sharp as a tack too. Never missed a beat but it all balanced on a very tight rope, that rope being her mental state, and the balance consisting of a cocktail of serious medications. She called me into her room, where she’d been resting for about a half hour that day, I gladly went when she called she seemed to be herself and as herself she was a joy to be around.

“Eric, Sweetheart can we talk, now that I’m here.” Adele said, sadness etched in her voice that bothered me, I hated to see the Stackhouse women sad, any of them.

“Of course, what do you want to talk about?” I said, taking my seat beside her bed again.

“Sookie. More to the point, you and Sookie.”

“Okay?”

“I wanted to give you something; it’s over in that drawer over there.” She pointed to her oak dresser at the other side of the room, I went to it, and she directed me to the third drawer. There were three small boxes velvet there, I brought them to her.

“This was my engagement ring, and my mother’s and her mother’s before her. It’s very old.”

It was also very beautiful; it was as she told me was a fourteen karat white gold band, with one large centre diamond flanked by two smaller ones. It was very dainty, and very feminine.

“It’s not the original band, sadly it broke on my mothers hand – a lot of hard work caused it if you ask me,” she smiled, “so my husband, Sookie’s grandfather, he took it before we got engaged and had the diamonds reset in a white gold band – modern for the day back then, and a very sweet gesture on his part. This ring meant a lot to me, Eric. And I’d like to pass it down to Sookie, and I figure you’ll be the one, if there’s anyone, that should be givin’ it to her.”

I really didn’t know what to say, it was a lot of information to take in, mostly that she thought Sookie and I would marry one day.

“Why didn’t you give it to your son?” I questioned after a few moments of regarding her and the ring with equal interest.

She simply tutted to herself and rolled her eyes. “That girl never deserved it. I knew from the moment I laid my eyes on her that she was trouble. But, my son being my son, he was set on marrying her anyway, even if we all knew it was a mistake. Much like Sookie and the other one.” She nodded, and I found it funny that she wouldn’t name him in my presence. It was adorable on her part.

“But you I like, and her I love, and well maybe I love you too.” She smiled, “you’re a good one, and you’ve really stepped up with this whole situation, one I loathe to put my Granddaughter in –”

“She does it because she loves you, Adele, and I do it because I love her…and you. You’re her family so that makes you like mine as well.”

She nodded, “just proves me right, you’re good. And I know you’ll take good care of her, you already do.”

“She takes good care of me too,” I added, taking the ring from the box and admiring it. The other two boxes held a necklace and a bracelet, one I was told was for Hadley and the other for Jason’s wife. It was very sweet.

“Just keep it, and use it whenever the time is right, okay?”

“I… yes, I will.”

She nodded. “Excellent, now, if you’ll hand me my walking stick I’d like to go to the living room, my stories are on and if I’m correct in thinking I’ve missed a few episodes when I was gone.”

‘Gone’ that’s how they referred to it now, when Adele wasn’t so much the Gran we knew and loved. She was just gone and in her place someone unfamiliar who wasn’t just as unfamiliar to herself as she was to us. But now, she was back and for the time being it was like a breath of fresh air in the house again. I looked at the ring again, and thought about my life, ten years ago – now – ten years from now. I’d found a job I loved a long time ago, I was good at it – or at least good enough to fool people into thinking I was good at it. I’d grown up a lot, even if most of the time I had the emotional instinct of a six year old on a sugar high, but I knew that and the key to anything is acceptance. I’d acceptance who I was, and what I wanted, and then Sookie came along and changed it all. I didn’t just want a wandering, lonely existence any longer. I wanted her smiles and her ideas and her crappy jokes and even her weird ass moods, so I took the beautiful ring and I hid it in my carry on luggage. There was no way that thing was leaving my sight, I had a lot of questions about what the future would bring me, but I knew all of them had to include her, that was non negotiable. I just hoped she felt the same.

First week in December, a mere three weeks until my first anniversary with Sookie – officially at least, the one we could tell people about, and the snow had hit and the city slowed down, which was an utter bitch of a situation when all you did was spend your days rushing from one studio to another. I’d been in the City a mere four days when I got the call from Sookie, one of the worst calls I’d ever received.

Adele was gone, and this time she just wasn’t coming back to us.


A/N: To see inspiration for the ring, hit up the blog link in the profile! xox


Chapter 30: Chapter 30


Well this is it folks! The last full chapter of Southern Belles! Ah! It’s a long one, so snuggle up and get comfortable! I want to thank everyone who tweeted me, came to the blog, commented, reviewed, and messaged me in some way about this story! It was an amazing amount of encouragement and as I writer you’re my only audience so your feedback means the world to me! I’m glad you gave this story a shot, and I hope you all enjoy where it has ended up!

Much love!

LC/Chaneladdict!

xox

SPOV:

When it happened, and I still can’t believe it did, but when it did I was stunned by how I reacted. I always expected that you’d react out of despair, or fear, or …who knows what, and lose your mind in a dramatic style – discovering the only real mother in your life was no longer there. But, I didn’t react like that at all; in fact everything was just as it had been for days.

Calm and silent.

I’d given the house a good clean that morning, with Gran pointing out the cobwebs I’d missed, and what special polish that she liked to use on the handmade furniture, versus the newer woods. We’d had a nice lunch, and added some ice-cream to one of her left over pies. Then we’d boxed up some of my old clothes and a few things I knew Eric wasn’t so fond of anymore that he’d left with us, for the church fundraiser, they had a ‘vintage’ section, and I guessed a dress from 2003 could probably meet that criteria. The funny thing was, I expected that if she was going to leave us, she’d leave us when she was ‘gone’ already, but it didn’t happen like that at all, such a normal, mundane day and she was, thankfully, totally lucid for the first time that week almost. I’d told her I was scooting quickly to Maxine’s with the boxes, and she nodded, smiling from her rocking chair by the TV, some hoarding show was on that she just loved, she told me to be careful with the heavy boxes and that she’d like a cup of tea when I got back. I nodded, grabbed the boxes and loaded up the car. The trip to Maxine’s was literally a minute away, I left the boxes by the door where I’d told her I would, and I got back into the car and went home. I walked in, and didn’t even notice, not really. I just figured she was still enthralled in her show, so I filled the teapot and looked for something to give her with her tea, when I went back into the living room to ask her, that’s when I noticed her head was slumped forward a little, and she didn’t answer me when I called. I wanted to know if she wanted lemon or honey in her tea, that’s when the sinking feeling started in my stomach and it didn’t end until Daddy and Jason showed up, along with the ambulance, twenty five minutes later.

Before they arrived I just…sat there, with her. Holding her still warm hand and slowly come to the terms that she was growing colder, that she wasn’t just sleeping, and that she wouldn’t wake up and ask me to turn the channel with the ‘clicker’ anymore. Slowly realizing that she’d never hug me again, or kiss me, or tell me she was happy, or proud, or sad. That she’d never breathe in the first day of summer in her garden, or enjoy the last day of her roses in full bloom. I sat and I watched the one person I knew that I could turn to, in my whole life, fade to nothing as the last of her colour drained from her sweet face. By the time everyone arrived, and she was officially pronounced dead, I think it’s safe to say I was wreck. The tea had long since boiled over, the TV turned off, everything else we’d planned now forgotten as I watched them zip her up in that cold black bag and take her away, alone. I remembered calling Eric, telling him what had happened as calm as I could, which wasn’t very calm at all truth being told. And then I just remember sobbing into my father’s chest, for what seemed like hours, and then there was nothing until I woke up in my bed hours later, alone. There was chatter downstairs and for a second it sounded almost like it was Gran chatting away, but then realization hit me yet again, it couldn’t be her, I knew that. I checked my phone and I had a voicemail and six text messages. I ignored them all in order to call Eric. I needed him there more than ever.

“Sook…I text and I left a voicemail earlier, I figured…I hoped you were asleep, you okay?”

“I’m…yeah. Did you book a flight?”

He sighed, “I’m at the airport, I’ve been here for a few hours, but apparently nothing is flying out because of the fucking snow!” he sounded angry and frustrated, all those things that you felt when you were stuck somewhere and wanted to be somewhere else.

“Oh…”

“I’m trying to get some info out of them, but you know how it is.”

I sighed to myself; if nothing was flying out that meant he couldn’t be here as soon as was possible, it just wouldn’t be soon at all.

“I am trying though, and I was thinking if nothing moves I might get a car and just drive, I could do –”

“No, don’t do that.” If the snow was so bad for the planes to be taking off, what could the roads be like? “I just want you safe okay, so just…don’t do that.”

“I want to be there for you. For Adele.”

“I want you here too, and you will be…it will open up, have faith.”

“I’ll try. How are you holding up?”

“Okay, I guess. I mean I think I cried myself to sleep earlier, and I just woke up and needed to hear your voice.”

“I’m so sorry, Honey.” He said his voice deep with both tiredness, and regret.

“I know, I guess I just need to get things organized, the wake and everything… she had a plan for what she wanted…somewhere.” My brain took a second to catch up with me, it seemed. I still felt very, numb to it all.

“Yeah, keeping busy might help, I know how you like to have a plan too, I guess you both had that in common, huh?”

I smiled, “we did…and lots more too.”

“I love you…I’m going to go harass some airline people now, and I’ll let you know what they say.”

“Be nice, it’s not their fault it snowed…” I chided.

“Okay, talk to you soon, Love.”

We said our goodbyes and hung up, and I took a minute to freshen myself up before making my way downstairs. I was shocked to see the house was full of people, and not just that it was full of people but who those people were exactly.

Tara, Sarah, Hadley, and Claudine… I looked to the kitchen and saw Pam. I felt overly emotional at the sight, I felt both thankful, and for a second very scared.

Before I could really speak, Pam rushed over and hugged me. Her perfumed smell and her soft hug was most welcome in that second, then she whispered.

“They come in peace, don’t fret.” Before pulling back.

First up was Tara, and then the rest followed towards me, all with sombre looks on their faces.

“Sookie, we came as soon as we heard, I can’t believe she’s gone.” Tara said and the others nodded.

“No, me either, I mean I knew it had to happen, but you just never think it’s ever actually going to happen,” I said taking a cup of tea from Hadley who hugged me, her face stained with tears.

“We just wanted to come by, and see if you needed any help with…well with anything.” Claudine asked, in her usual no nonsense style. I looked at the four women, my four former friends, and wondered how we’d let it go so long without talking, why we’d all kidded ourselves into believing our own hype so much that it consumed us and destroyed what we had. And then I knew, it was because what we had was like everything else we had – it was all based on the lie. That lie of perfection that we’d all strived so hard to reach ever since we were just little girls wanting to be pretty.

I sighed, I hadn’t the strength to fight them anymore, nor did I want to, and thankfully they seemed to actually come in peace, like Pam said.

“Thank you. That means a lot, and I’m sure it would have meant a lot to Gran as well, she loved you all so much.”

Hadley nodded, taking a tissue from her wrist, “she’d call us her little Southern Belles, remember? When we all did the pageants? She was so sweet…and so kind…” and Hadley was off, blubbering so loudly that my Dad looked up from his seat shocked, kind of like a Meer-kat from its bed.

I felt like telling Sarah that she could just leave, right then and there, but I found I just didn’t have the energy to argue, but I would tell her when I felt more like myself. Instead I went to the kitchen, to hide out with Pam and Jason for a little while, they fed me – almost force fed me, might I add and told me that Gran’s wake would be held the next day for two days, and then she’d be buried next to Granddaddy. I assumed as much, but it was nice to see that someone else knew what was going on for a change. Selah were there, tears in her eyes, and a sombre look on her face. When she told me how she enjoyed working for us, and that Adele was a true lady and how much she’d be missed it hit me again, this was really happening.

I didn’t sleep much that night; instead I cleaned the house with Jason and Pam, and dug out my most respectable black dress and some appropriate shoes. The weather had finally taken a wintery turn, and it was frosty but not yet snowing. I’d heard back from Eric that he’d managed to get a flight out, but they’d had to land in North Carolina, where he was still stuck. I missed him terribly and felt so sorry for him, he loathed airports more than anyone else I knew, and yet he spent half his life in them. During the wake, I’d shaken hands with more people in two days than I had in my whole life, I was sure of that. My Grandmother knew a lot of people and those people had a lot of stories about her, all of them either hilarious or heartfelt and for a time it made me feel that little bit better. But, I was still numb to what was going on around me, I knew I was good as long as I was busy, but it was when things slowed down that my mind started to overwork itself and drive me slightly crazy.

I got back to the house, on the last night of the wake, and thankfully found it emptying, the girls were still there though and they asked to speak with me. I invited them up to my room where they took various seats while I shed my black shift dress and into my sleep shorts and a t-shirt.

“Sookie, we wanted to …clear the air, officially,” Claudine began, and Tara followed up, “with everything that went down between all of us, life is just too short for harbouring grudges, and I need you to know that we don’t hate you. I don’t hate you, and I’m not mad at you any more over what you said and did…and we hope that you can forgive us?”

I stood stunned as I looked at my former friends, and my Pam who seemed to be in on it too, at least she wasn’t offering up any sarcastic quips this time.

“I never hated any of you, I just hated the lies we were kidding ourselves with. Tara with JB… how he behaved with you, I always knew you deserved better, that we all deserved better than what we were settling for –” I glared at Sarah, ” there was never any hate on my side of things, but I know, with some of you the hate lived, and it still lives.”

Most of them looked confused; Sarah just started to turn red.

“The last thing I want is to cause anyone else any trouble, but Sarah…” They all looked to her, “being so hell-bent to destroy Alcide? Just because he destroyed your lie by accepting his own? How is that fair?”

They all questioned her, and Tara stood up, looking angry, “You’re the reason his mom is in and out of the docs huh? With heart problems?”

“No!” she stood up too, “He’s the damn reason, being queer is just –”

“So help me God if you finish that sentence –”Pam stepped in, her hands on her hips and a scowl on her face.

“He ruined my marriage! How is that okay?”

“It’s not.” I added calmly hoping they’d all follow suit, “but you knew what Steve was like when you married him and you married him anyway, sooner than disappoint your parents, we’ve all made that mistake once or twice – maybe not literally doing something so huge just to please them, but most of us either have done, or considered doing something we really didn’t want to, just to keep everyone ELSE happy. I know I did.” I laughed at myself, “I was so fucking stupid, you guys, I knew I loved Eric and I knew I wanted to be with him more than anything, and I still went against my gut because of EVERYONE else but my damn self. I don’t do that shit anymore, you know why? For the reason this conversation is even happening, because life is just too fucking short to run around wasting it on trying to please people who will never be happy!”

They all looked at me stunned, and Pam grinned.

“You’ve changed so much, Sookie.” Claudine added, and I wasn’t sure by her tone if it was a good or bad thing, and before I second-guessed myself I decided that it was a good thing. I hated my life before, and I didn’t now, that was a positive change, no matter what her Ladyship thought.

“You know what, I have. I’ve seen a bit of the world outside of here, outside of old-fashioned ideas on how ‘young ladies’ are meant to be, and I’ve seen how I can stand on my own two feet and speak for what I want out of this one life I’ve got to live. I know there was gossip about me, when I left and why I left, and I was probably called a whore, and a slut, and a home wrecker… and you know what? Maybe I was all of those things, but maybe I wasn’t, but the people gossiping about me will never really know. Just like the people gossiping about Alcide will never really know what went down, just like we’ll never know what it was like to be gay and have to hide it and be ashamed of who we are…”

“I left JB, we’re getting a divorce, he keeps sayin’ he won’t give it to me, but I won’t stop until he does, I want him out of mine and my babies lives, and I only wish I’d listened…before.” Tara said, solemnly but determined.

“I’m proud of you, I am.” I said, patting her hand, “I’m proud of all of us, for becoming who we’re meant to be…even if it’s taking some of us longer than others to realize that being a Mean girl is no way to go through life.” I said, glaring at Sarah. I wanted to hate her for what she did, but I just didn’t want to go there either, it was my past. She’d have to deal with her own karma eventually, I thought.

We all sat and talked for at least another hour, discovering ourselves for who we were now, the women we’d become, not the girls we were. And, in a way, it was really nice to reconnect as grownups, as people with regrets to face and truths to bear, but it also made me realize that I never wanted to go back to the person I was when I was with them, never again.

The next morning, the morning of her funeral I got dressed in black, complete with thick tights to keep the cold from my legs, and I checked my phone again. Still no word from Eric, I’d gotten one text the night before saying that he was on his way, but beyond that, there had been nothing, and when I went to call, his phone was either off – or dead. I had hoped he’d managed to get a flight, but my hopes weren’t that high, considering I’d checked the weather and it was just getting worse instead of better. By the time we all got to the church not far from Gran’s house, I was feeling a little worse for wear, the constant need to throw up with nerves was just getting worse and worse as people either hugged me or shook my hand. I wanted to cry, but I also knew I needed to keep my composure; I couldn’t let Gran down during her big send off. Jason said a few words, as did my Dad, and then it was my turn. The nerve in my stomach got bigger and bigger as I took to the podium, and I said my piece.

I talked about how she was with us when we were little, and how at home we felt with her no matter where we were that if she was there, everything was that much better for it. I talked of her devotion to God and her belief in forgiveness, and how she’d raised a good son, and helped to raise good Grandchildren too, and then I talked about her and I and the last few months of her life…how hard they were on everyone, but most of all on her. How she was proud woman and that I hated to see her reduced to the lost one we sometimes dealt with, but that somehow, someway she’d always find her way back to us and that I was proud of her for putting up a fight for her life-like the strong woman I knew she was, right up until the end.

My emotions got the better of me though when just as I was finishing my speech the doors to the church opened, and in walked Eric. My heart soared, he was there, he’d made it…he looked more than a little dishevelled, but, he’d made it. Then my heart dropped because following him, in walked my mother.

What in the hell?

I ignored her in favour of walking into Eric’s arms as we took our seat a second later, he whispered that he’d explain later, and we both sat down while the priest gave his closing words about my Gran, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house – as they say – by the time they were done and the music from the choir began. We walked her out and over the short walk to the graveyard, the one that separated her house from the old plantation across the way. Most people thought it creepy, when I was a kid, growing up so close to the dead, but I never found it odd, only peaceful. It was never the dead you had to fear, only the living, my Gran used to say. On the walk over, I linked arms with my tousled looking other half and raised my brow in question.

“Yeah, I couldn’t get a flight; so I got a car from South Carolina and drove…”

“You drove? That’s like …”

“Almost fifteen hours straight…” he yawned and I wanted to stop and hug him, so that’s exactly what I did, allowing the others walking with us to pass us by.

“You did that…for me?” I smiled.

“Of course I did, I didn’t want you going through something this hard, alone. I’m just sorry it couldn’t have been sooner.”

I didn’t give him a shot to say more, before I kissed him like my life depended on it, and in a funny way, in a small way, it did. I loved him more than I thought it was possible to love another person, it still surprised me.

“So does this mean you aren’t mad at me for convincing your mother to go inside?”

“What?”

“She was standing outside the church when I drove up, she looked very contemplative, and sad, and if I’m honest, she looked really lonely. So, we talked…a little and I asked her to come inside and say goodbye.”

I sighed, I guess I really couldn’t fault him for that, had the tables been turned, I’d have done the same.

“No, it’s fine. I’ll deal with her, later. Now let’s go say goodbye to Gran, make sure they do it like she wanted.” I said, leading the way into the graveyard with a heavy heart and a full mind, and still a stomach that just wouldn’t settle.

EPOV:

I was in hell, driver hell, snowy cold driver’s hell. I’d gotten so tired of sleeping at the airport, nothing was opening up, and I was not a patient man having spent the good part of two days in the damn same situation. So, I used my head and ignored my fear of driving on icy roads and rented a car, filled up at McDonald’s on both disgustingly good-bad food, and caffeine, as well as a few Red Bulls for the road. My battery had died somewhere in the ninth hour of driving, and my charger wouldn’t work in the car, so I made do without in the hopes that I’d make it in once piece without wrapping myself around a hedge or a pole, or god forbid another vehicle. By the time I actually reached New Orleans, I was beyond tired, so tired that at six am I managed to pull over on the side of the road and power napped for an hour and a half, leaving me, I had hoped enough time to make it to Adele’s. I still couldn’t believe that after all she’d been through it was a heart attack that ended her, I was having trouble accepting that she wouldn’t be there, at the house, not anymore. When I got there it was already late morning, and since I had no idea what time the funeral was for, I hazarded a guess and winged it to the nearest church, that’s where I saw all the cars, the hearse, and Sookie’s mother, standing outside.

She was smoking and looking rather dejected, and when she saw me coming up the path to the entrance she grimaced.

“I was wondering where you were, her knight in shining …plaid.”

“Can’t you just hold a civil conversation with anyone, just once?” I answered my tired state in no mood for pleasantries.

“I could but where would the fun be in that.” She said stubbing out her cigarette.

“Why aren’t you inside?” I asked.

“I’m not exactly welcome, am I? I figured it was safer out her than to risk my daughter’s wrath again.”

“Her bark is pretty fierce, her bite, not so much.” I said leaning against the wall with her. “She’d see the good in you turning up, I’m sure she would.”

“No, I always just make things worse with her; she and I have butted heads for as long as I can remember.”

I could see that.

“I think Sookie just wanted a mother, Michelle, and instead she got a talent manager who never knew how to quit. She just wanted a mom.”

She sighed, “And she got one, it just wasn’t in me that she got it from, it was Adele. Adele was the natural mother, the one that baked the cookies and knit the booties, and got excited about glitter and glue and shit. I was never that woman, Eric, and I know how much that hurts her, and Jason.”

I nodded; my father was like that, never very ‘dad like’ in his nature, so my mother always used to make up for it by spoiling me.

“I get that, I do. It doesn’t mean you can’t try and be a mother to her now.”

“But she’s a grown woman, she doesn’t need me…she’s got you, she’s got her Daddy, and Jason…I’m just …expendable.”

“You’re her mother, you might not have been the best one, or the one she wanted, but you’re the only mother she’s got. If I could have mine back? Even if we didn’t agree, or things were shitty, I’d still want her around. All I’m saying is maybe just try to see her side of things? She blames you for a lot of shady shit, but if you maybe say to her your side of things, she’s a rational person she’ll listen if you’re patient with her.”

She was silent for a few seconds before I opened the door, “it starts with going inside and facing the music, so to speak.” I said, as she hastily walked in behind me. Seeing Sookie stand up there, tall (well, for her) and proud to speak of her Grandmother, it made me proud, she was facing the whole town of people, ones that I was sure were still gossiping behind her back, and not a fuck did she give, because this wasn’t about her, it was about Adele. And I knew Sookie would do everything to the letter to make sure she was sent off the way she had planned. I was apprehensive when I told her that I’d talked to her mother, but I was also sleep deprived and in that state I imagined that she’d be find with it, eventually. Or at least I hoped. And I was right to be, after the funeral and when everyone decided to descend on the house with food, Sookie was the apprehensive one.

“I just don’t want her causing no scene, not today of all days and I just know that if she does, so help me Jesus I will kill her.” She whispered as she set out tea for Mrs Fortenberry and her church friends.

“I just think you should give her a shot, one last shot.”

“Does it come in a semi automatic?” she sassed and I smiled.

“No, not that kind of shot.”

Humph, I guess. I think you need to go eat and sleep, you look like hell, Sweetie.” She kissed me on the cheek, “I’mma go fix you a plate and go on up to my room, I’ll bring it up.”

“You sure? You don’t need a hand down here?” I asked, and to be honest I had been feeling a touch uncomfortable, all the old ladies were starting me out and looking me up and down and whispering, I was starting to get a little scared.

“I’m sure, you need to eat and then, you need to sleep…” she said looking past me, to see her mother taking with Jason. She sighed.

“I’ll take it from here… It’s good. It’ll be…fine.” She didn’t sound sure, but she nodded like she was resigned to do it anyway, and that was just her way. I climbed the creaky stairs and made my way into Sookie’s room, her bed was like the holy grail, and I just flopped right onto it, and I shamelessly admit that it was the last thing I remember doing before I got woken up by someone stroking my hair and snuggling next to me. I prayed it was Sookie and not one of Adele’s bridge playing friends.

I opened my eyes, and it was dark outside, the lamp was on next to me, and something smelled amazing, and thankfully the person stroking my hair was indeed my Sookie.

“Hey,” she smiled when I opened my eyes, “you just slept for like five hours.”

“Oh…shit…” I went to move, but she just snuggled into me closer, “No, stay… I’m just glad you’re here, thank you.” She said into my chest.

“Welcome.” I said, kissing her forehead and lacing my hands with hers, “something smells good…”

“I would say thank you, but I brought you up a tray of food, there’s steak and fries, and some apple pie, juice, and some chicken wings too. Lots of food downstairs, so much I don’t even know where to put most of it.”

I was starving but didn’t want to move from our position, sadly my belly won the fight when it started making inhuman noises, and I got up to dig in.

“I talked to my mother, for like an hour. I think it’s the longest conversation we’ve had since I was a teenager.” She sighed, sitting up on the bed, her black dress riding up so she’d smooth it down before letting her hair down.

“She told me what you said to her, it was sweet of you to do it, since I sure as hell wasn’t going to be the one to do it…”

I had a mouthful of welcomed food, and I nodded, “so you didn’t kill each other then?”

“No,” she chuckled, “I mean we both talked and I got it all out you know? How she wasn’t the mom that I needed her to be growing up, and that because Gran was, she shouldn’t have harboured resentment towards how close we were with her, but that she could have changed that if she had wanted to…but she didn’t. And then her side of things, I guess now I’m a little older, it makes more sense, you know? Some people are just not designed for parenthood, they’re too selfish, and it’s not like its wrong of that person to be selfish with their own life, but it just sucks for the kids dragged into it. Eventually we agreed that neither of us was exactly perfect or willing to change before, and that maybe we could…I don’t know, start small? We said we’d call, every now and then to catch up with each other. I’m grown now, I don’t have Gran, and I don’t really need a ‘mother’. But, I guess we can at least try to be civil to each other. I’m just tired of the war, you know?”

“I get that, and I knew it was something that ate away at you, it might not be tied off with a pretty bow, but then nothing ever really is.”

She nodded, and then smiled, “you enjoying that huh?”

“You kidding me, I’ve had nothing but airport food, or roadside fast food for three days, this, guhh, this is awesome.”

“It was from Sheila, she was one of Gran’s friends that used to play bridge with her, I think she took a shine to you,” she winked, slipping off her shoes and laying down right this time.

“Oh, really well, tell Sheila I’ll have to thank her, properly for this, do you think her body could take it?”

I got a cushion threw at me for my wit.

“I’m really thankful you made it, you know? I mean I was holding up, but just seeing you come in it made me feel so much more at ease, so thank you for not taking my advice and just hauling ass to get here, it was very sweet and I appreciate it.” She said with a shy smile, and it almost made me blush, I had no idea where that came from, but it was nice to know we still had those new unfamiliar emotions when it came to each other.

“I know you do, which is why even though I was in the lower circles of hell, I’d do it anytime for you, you know that.”

With that she pushed out her bottom lip for a second, a sappy look on her face as she came over and hugged me. I took her hug, and her perfume smell, and I just enjoyed it for what it was, comfort and thanks.

For the next week and a half she and I decided to secure most of Adele’s things, Sookie had decided that since Adele was the main reason she’d come back and stayed as long as she had, that now she was gone there was very little reason for her to be there. I unsurprisingly agreed, selfishly wanting us to be together again without all this hopping on and off planes. So, we took the house apart, separating the good, the bad, and the ready for donation. The reading of her will would be weeks away, but we knew, because Adele had told us time and time again that the house was Sookie and the land too, to do with what she pleased, she also said there was a nice ‘nest egg’ for her grandchildren, but she never elaborated on what that was. For the time being though, Sookie was content to start closing up her life in New Orleans, with the thought of perhaps updating a few things and renting it out to a family that could get some use out of it.

Unsurprisingly work beckoned and I had to fly back to New York again, sad to leave for many reasons, mostly because I knew it would be another fortnight before I got the opportunity to get back, but when I did, it was for our anniversary days before Christmas, and then, Christmas itself. Before the plans had been big family dinners, now I imagined a much lower key gathering, tinged with the sadness of Adele’s absence.

Exasperated, that’s what I’d call my mood during my trip uptown, as I dragged my equipment and walked slower than I had in my life. I just didn’t’ want to be there, I wanted to go home and call Sookie and wallow in my loneliness and miss my first anniversary with her, all because of work. I hated work right now, and this was just another job that was keeping me from a very nice night of sex and food, and sex and cuddling, and more food. Ugh, and by the sounds of the client she was going to be one of ‘those’ rubbing her eternal happiness in my face by making me shoot her for her lucky ass boyfriend.

I sighed as I got to the hotel, got to the floor, found the room and knocked the door. It was open.

I walked in, and the stage was set, and she was good, I’d give her – whoever she was – that. The lights were dimmed, there were candles on just about everything that stood still, and there was music playing softly in the background somewhere. If I hadn’t known better, I’d have said I was the one getting lucky.

Little did I know, but I was!

SPOV:

I knew he wasn’t going to make it out for our anniversary, I’d known it in my gut days before, because I knew of the meeting and I knew how highly strung Lafayette was about the investor meeting and how he needed Eric and the rest of his team as his Ace in the hole to make that good solid impression, so, I knew. That’s why I’d planned in advance, and maybe been a little sneaky about things along the way. I had a week in the house with Pam and Hadley popping by now and again, and week was more than enough. The house, without Gran in it, just wasn’t the same, it wasn’t home anymore, she was what made it home and without her it was just a house.

Sure, it held some of my best memories, both as a kid, and as a grown up, but I knew it was time to move on. I had a life waiting for me in the most vibrant city in the world, and I wasn’t going to keep it on hold any longer. So, I’d packed up my things, and handed Jason the keys, he said he’d find me a family to rent it and we’d sort out the logistics later, it made me happy that he was willing to help me, and I thanked him and Crystal for everything, kissed my nephew’s goodbye, and hopped my excited ass on a plane to New York.

I felt incredibly naughty, as I texted Eric, woeful text messages as I reached the airport, saying how sad I was that he couldn’t make it, but that we’d more than make up for it when he got back for Christmas. I smiled to myself as I shut my phone off for my flight, the anticipation building in me higher and higher as I waited to get to my destination. I distracted myself with an on flight moisturizing session, so I’d be fresh and rested when I got in at JFK. Hauling ass into the city, three days before Christmas was not ideal, but luckily I had plenty of time, since I’d rang Lafayette the day before, with my sneaky little plan – one he cackled at, but was more than willing to help me set up, so I relaxed a little more when I got the hotel. I’d turned on my phone to another annoyed voicemail, telling me he had to haul ass uptown after the job and the meeting to shoot some uppity woman for her boyfriend, he sounded so sad that it made me feel bad for a hot second for lying to him, but I wanted to see his face when he realized that I was to be the uppity woman and he was the boyfriend getting lucky. I smiled as I took a shower, setting my hair in curlers to add some sex bomb oomph, and used my body lotion that I knew he liked. I’d ordered a ton of food from room service as well as champagne; he wasn’t the only one that could do all out romantic gestures, I thought, as I set the room to rights just as there was a knock on the door. I’d left it open, and I hightailed it to the bathroom of the suite, just as he stomped into the room, announcing his presence to ‘Amanda Lay’ – I tried to stifle my laughter considering that Lafayette had thought that one up, and I indeed had a man ‘da lay.

I checked myself in the mirror again, having curled my hair in big soft waves and just added a little makeup to feel secure in my skin; I was dressed in a simple white spaghetti strap tank, and my white underwear. Eric wasn’t much for showy lingerie; he was more interested in the present than he was the wrapping.

“Ma’am? We can set up wherever you’d feel comfortable, my boss didn’t specify what kind of shots you were aiming for –”he called from the other room as I heard him rustling around with his cameras and tripods.

“Oh, I don’t know, how about the bed, I’ve a feeling we’ll get a lot of good done in there.” I said as I casually leaned up against the wall adjoining the two rooms. He turned as fast as light, a look of shock on his ridiculously attractive face.

“What the –”

Surprise!” I said, smiling.

“Holy shit, Sookie!” He didn’t need to take more than two strides before he had me up against the wall, his hands buried in my hair and his lips on mine, with the desperate urgency of a man in serious need. We must have just stood there, pressed up against each other, it seemed like forever, it seemed like it had been forever since we’d seen each other, and that if we separated the world would just end right below our feet. Before I knew it my head was hitting the pillows on the king size bed, his weight falling on me with a welcomed familiarity.

“I can’t believe you’re actually here, very sneaky!” he said nibbling at my earlobe before going back to my neck, I wasn’t the only one that was sneaky.

“I wanted to surprise you, I take it I did that.”

“So…very…much.” He punctuated each word with a kiss, then a small smile spread.

“Mission accomplished then, Lafayette helped too.”

He laughed at that and shook his head as he sat up; I missed his weight and body heat instantly.

“Where are you going?” I asked, almost pouting as he got up from the bed, and walked out to one of his bags.

“Eric, hello? Overdue sexy times being offered on a freshly showered, waxed…plate here dude.” I said not at all on board with his disappearing act. He came back into the bedroom a minute or so later, with a smug smile on his face.

“Did you just leave the room to fart again, you know that’s weird right? I mean I’m not overly fond of your farts but –”

“No…I went to get something out of my bag.”

“I have condoms somewhere if that’s the issue…” though I knew it wouldn’t be, we hadn’t used them in a while.

“No, it’s not…I promised myself I’d have something for you the next time I saw you, and that I’d waste no time in doing what I’m going to do now.”

“Oh…kay?” I said, sitting up on the bed, just very confused if I was being honest. Then he did it, he pulled out the little red velvet box, the box Jason and I had searched Gran’s house high and low looking for!

“Eric…”

“I know, okay, this is…crazy and maybe it’s too soon by some standards, but… I can’t not do it… I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, Sook, even before, when we weren’t even a couple. I was thinking about this…with you. And okay, that might be weird and a little creepy, let’s be honest, but it was a big regret of mine so I fixated on it. I don’t want to regret the ‘what if anymore’.” He was speed talking and blushing, so I knew he was nervous, it was so sweet.

“Oh, my God…” I said as the reality of what was happening began to sink it. It’s not that I never assumed that he and I would commit to each other. I just imagined it was a given that I adored him and that this was it for me, I never thought he wanted the traditional commitment thing.

He took a deep breath as he kneels on the bed beside me, his cheeks beginning to tinge pink again, it was adorable.

“Sook, I never thought I’d ever really entertain the idea of this question, ever. It just wasn’t on the cards for me, at least I thought so. I was just going to drift until I died, and I was more than okay with that. But then, I met you, and for some reason the universe, or God or whoever is pulling our strings whispered that you were different. I didn’t know how or why at first, but I knew it that I was attracted to you, and not just for your looks…or those boobs.” He smiled, “But, there was that little spark there, and that little spark just stayed with me, even though I knew you were promising a life with someone else. I should have not cared then, I should have realistically accepted that I’d lost you…and I thought I had, when I watched you walk down that stupidly long aisle to him…” he sighed. “And for a while I did lose hope, but then, as if my some kind of cosmic magic there you were, you walked into my studio, and into my life again, and it was like we got a second first chance. I love you, you know that, and I hope that I show that to you always…”

I nodded; I was too weepy to do much else.

“Sookie, I want in, I want it all, with you. I want the good days, the shitty days, the days where were so mad we could spit,” I smiled as he took Gran’s expression, ” I want the kids, little tiny bits of us in little people that we pray to whoever is listening that we won’t fuck them up too badly as we muddle along….I want it all. And I know that you’ve said that you’ve been there, and you’ve done that, but you’ve not been there and done that with me. I’d like to give it a shot, if you would too?”

I was silent, mostly because I think I was so happy and so full of tears that I feared if I spoke I’d just burst out crying and scare the be-Jesus out of him. I think he took it the wrong way, and panicked a little.

“In case my long winded…long windedness wasn’t so clear, I’m asking you to marry me, Sookie.”

I nodded and laughed, hugging him, almost knocking the ring out of his hand, “I love you so much, Eric. So much.”

“Is that a yes?” his eyes twinkled with hope, or maybe it was the desire to vomit, I wasn’t sure.

“Of course it’s a yes!” I said kissing him deeply to seal the deal.

“You scared the crap outta me just now.” He said with a relieved look on his face, as he laughed with me.

“I didn’t mean to, I just…honestly thought I’d be the one surprising you tonight, not the other way around.” I said as he slipped the missing ring on my finger and I admired it, I’d forgotten just how beautiful it was.

“Well consider us both surprised.” He said kissing me quickly again before he took my hand, and looked the ring before kissing it too.

“We’re engaged…” I said, beaming.

“We are,” he beamed back just as happy on the outside that I was sure he was on the inside.

I made an excited noise, something I was sure only dogs could hear before I pounced on him, straddling him as he lay looking up at me, “this is good…this is right, I know it is.”

“How do you know?” he asked, holding onto my sides to keep me upright.

“Because this is how I imagined you’re meant to feel when the man you loves asks that question, and I’ve never felt like this before.” I needed him to know that, and it was true, when Alcide asked the same question all I felt was duty, or expectation, when Eric asked, it was like a whole new world of possibilities together and I just couldn’t wait to see what they brought this time!

The End.

Epilogue anyone? 😉


Chapter 31: Chapter 31


Epilogue.

3 Years Later:

I shuffled the paperwork into a nice neat pile on my desk and sighed. It was another quarter taken care of, and the charity was finally finding its feet. I looked around my showroom with a smile, we’d made it. After Eric and I got engaged, we started looking for a place together after Christmas, a Christmas that had consisted of a pregnancy scare and a new pet – Bubba the stray cat that just decided we were cool enough to hang with, so we kept him. That Christmas, the first one without my Grandmother was a tough one in so many ways, but in others a great one as it was still filled with people who I loved, and who loved me back just as much as well as a serious amount of food and drink consumed to deal with all of those things! The pregnancy scare brought up a lot of conversations for Eric and me but the bottom line consisted of us not being ready, at least not right then, but it made us aware that it was something we wanted, some day, just when we were a little more settled in our lives together. A house hunt that took us almost six weeks, we saw more duds than we could count and were just beginning to lose hope when we found the one, eventually in Soho. A loft conversion with two bedrooms, lots of exposed red brick, lots of storage and a great living space, with a sweet view in an area populated by enough hipsters to sink the titanic. It was rough to start and it had a few things that needed done and fixed, but we got an amazing letting deal from a friend of a friend of Eric’s who had packed up his things and moved to Thailand to teach English to kids and had no desire to return to the city. He needed a quick sale and as such it drained our finances considerably to do so, but we knew it would be worth it in the end like most great things, and it was.

Then there was Lafayette’s wedding, with Eric as one of the best men, was one of the best nights either of us remembered having in the city, and one of the best Valentine’s to boot! He’d gone all out, as was his style, and Elton John would have envied his floral display. Watching he and Jesus tie the knot, only reinforced how good it felt to be engaged to Eric, to have that to look forward to in our future, and how completely different it was from the last time.

By mid-April I was having itchy feet at the idea of being a ‘kept woman’, even though I’d decorated the place to perfection and created a pretty amazing little home for us I needed something more. And although he and I joked about it, I knew Eric was dying for me to find my feet in the city again too. He once said that the house was beautiful but if I kept up going how I was, it was only going to turn into a very beautiful cage – and he didn’t want that for me. But, it like everything else took some serious adjusting, I couldn’t go the internship route, and I wasn’t confident in my work at the time for me to even glance at the bigger publications. So I found something small, it was a government-funded children’s charity based out of Tribeca with all donated art being sold to go towards the causes. This was to be the first nudge towards my biggest pipe dream to date, I wanted to start-up a charity to honour my Gran, and when I’d got a friend to draw up a business plan, I realized that charity really did begin at home. The costs were high, as were anything else in the city, I knew that, but I also knew that it was what I needed to do. Of course, Eric often questioned if I myself was high when we’d discuss it, but he was supportive and it helped in buckets to urge me on. Weirdly the day I got rejected from my fourth bank for a business loan, was the day my Gran’s lawyer called. The will had been read and I was asked to come in, to talk. I was a wreck, and it had brought up all my grief again, but Eric and I went, out of curiosity more than anything.

And that’s when it happened.

The boom, the bomb, the shock.

It turns out Adele Stackhouse, proud owner of that creaky little farm-house in the middle of Nowhere, Louisiana, had died a very wealthy woman. So much so that she left me almost a million dollars, as well as the house and property.

“I don’t understand…” I said, as I looked at Eric and then to Alan, the lawyer. “She never mentioned any investments.”

“No, these are old investments she’s had since the fifties, when she first got married, she cashed out at the right time, Ms Stackhouse, just before the recession hit by the looks of things too. That’s when the Will was made. There’s a letter here for you too, if you’d like.”

If I’d like, of course I’d like!

It was when I opened it that everything sort of pieced together. Her letter was so touching, and written, as I noted by the date when I was still married to Alcide. She spoke of how she knew that one day I’d find my way, and that if this money helped me do that, then it was all she wanted. She said she knew my heart was huge and that I’d find a way to put it to good use, and all she asked was that I remember her and our times together when I did it. And that right then is when it happened, my A-ha moment, as Oprah would say. I knew what I wanted to do, with my modest talent, and my not so modest cheque. I knew I had the basic resources to start the ball rolling and I would use my contacts in the art world and Eric’s if I had to, to do it!

And that was just two years ago, thinking back it seemed like forever ago in some respects, and a heartbeat ago in others. Time really does fly when you’re having fun, and also stressed out to the max.

I looked at the photos on my desk not only of Eric and I, but of us and our little group of misfit friends, I looked around the studio and it filled me with pride. One of us on vacation in Mexico, and of course one of our wedding. I smiled at the memory as I often did, there was nothing conventional about that wedding a year before, at all. We got our license, and were trying to settle on a date, and guest list, and a location, and we were both just bored to tears at the idea of a white wedding, so we gathered six of our closest friends one foggy Saturday in March, and we decided that by the power vested in Pam by the-people- of- the- internet- would be enough to allow her to proceed over our vows, we’d make it legal the old fashioned way – with all the signatures later, we were all giddy as we all went down to the New York City Library for a makeshift un-booked wedding. Well, it wouldn’t have been ‘us’ if we weren’t doing something that would get us caught, now would it? I wore a blush pink sundress, my hair in big wavy curls with a tiny matching ‘veil’, and Eric wore his best black suit, sans a tie. It was us, and it was comfortable and fun, with a side of danger, so it fitted us perfectly even if we got odd looks and by the time he kissed his bride we were a few seconds from getting kicked out, but it was all worth the adrenaline rush – and we partied for three days just to seal the deal. Lafayette still talks about the effects of that hangover. I shook my head and finished off some of my paper work and there was always paperwork, with a charity like this.

The Adele Stackhouse Art Organization had found a little following in the previous eighteen months. I was using it as a two-part charity, one it gave new artists a place to exhibit their work – once a month there’d be an ‘opening’ of sorts and a party to go with it, where we’d feature everything from photography, to music in the hopes of getting the artist’s name out there, and getting some much-needed donations for the second and most important part of the charity, the workshops for Alzheimer sufferers. We’d host days for various care homes to bring patients over to work on whatever they wanted. Be it pottery, or painting, and most loved the camera too. We ended up with exhibitions of their works too, alongside established artists that we put on show in the studio, so many happy Polaroid photos hung in the east section of those workshops, and then the finished art sat, some of it for sale, some of it for show, and some of it used just to jog a memory or two every now and then. My wage was, for New York, what you’d call modest. But, I was my father’s daughter, I had good business sense from my days of running both the B&B and overseeing the bar, I guess I got it from my Gran too. I’d made a few investments of my own, including one in Lafayette’s nationwide smash magazine, I thought to myself smugly. That and the rent on the farmhouse and land came in like clockwork every month, so it let me live comfortably enough on my own, even without Eric’s considerable income.

So, things were looking up at work and at play for both Eric and I by then.

I checked my phone as I locked up the shop for the night, hoping to get home before the snow turned the city into a total ice-rink. I picked up some dinner, in no mood to cook, and a few other bits and bobs at the late market on our corner in passing and I waddled on home. Walking as much as I could these days and not just for the good of my health either, for the sake of my vanity. Yes, waddling along at five months and sixteen days pregnant meant that my normal shape was now very much out the window. I mourned the loss of my waistline, and was doing as much yoga as was allowed and realistically facing the outcome and lathering myself in anything that lessened the stretch mark nightmare that I was facing. And I was, facing it, I was carrying a Northman baby boy or so they told me at the time, and Eric who weighed in at ten pounds, eleven ounces at birth casually informed me of this AFTER the little stick came up with a positive sign. It wasnt funny; I was having recurring nightmares that my baby’s birth would resemble that scene from Alien…to which Eric would almost split his sides laughing at me, jerk.

I got home to find Bubba on his bed, judging me from the hallway, his flea collar still in place, thankfully.

“Hey boy…hey…” I said petting him in passing, where I found Eric in the kitchen.

“Great minds!” I said holding up my version of dinner which was Chinese, and his which was pizza.

He smiled as we kissed hello and he grabbed my bags.

“You told me you’d call and I’d come pick you up!”

“I know, I know, but I needed the exercise…not that it matters since we’re about to have a mixed dinner of a zillion calories.” I rolled my eyes but secretly was thrilled; food and I had a good time these days, unlike the first month where I was seeing everything in reverse.

Eric patted the bump in passing as he got me glass for my juice, “and how are we today?”

“We’re good…kicking around but it’ll settle when I do.”

We were having a boy, a thing that thrilled Eric to no end, and if I was honest, I was more than thrilled myself. I had to deal with a lot of women in my life, so having a little guy for a change would be good, permitting he didn’t actually go all alien on my ass I’d end up on the walls, or so I thought…

“Pam called today, she said she’ll be in the city for work in a couple of weeks, she wants to stay here…I told her it was fine of course.” I said poking around the kitchen.

“Sure, it’ll be good to see her again, how is she?”

“She’s good, she’s seeing someone new, so she’s in honeymoon mode right now, it’s cute.”

“That’s cool, she deserves to be happy,” Eric said.

“She does, speaking of deserving to be happy, I got an email today…” I knew we were over this but I still hesitated when I brought him up, which was almost never, but still. I knew I squirmed when he mentioned running into an ex or two himself.

Oh?”

“Mmm, from Alcide.”

“Oh…? He’s okay?”

I smiled, “Yeah, he really is. He’s working in California still, and get this, he’s adopting with his boyfriend, or at least in the process of it. He wanted to tell me the good news, and you too of course.”

Eric looked sort of shocked at that news, but then it sunk in for him. “Well, that’s awesome, I’m glad he got out of his family’s weird grasp, Sook.”

I nodded, I was too. After everything came out, and he subsequently came out too, they all but disowned him. It was awful, but not unexpected and so he came back – packed his bags, and moved in with his friend in San Francisco for a while until he found his feet, which he did working for a big construction company that took him on in a heartbeat, thankfully. He said he’d never looked back, and it had been a couple of years since I’d heard from him besides this new update.

“Yeah I’m happy he’s got some peace, and that he changed his mind on the kids thing.” He thought since he’d come out that it wouldn’t be possible, I wondered if his other half had anything to do with that? Either way, good for him. I was glad that we were all past the past so to speak, enough that we could all just be happy for each other. It was a really nice feeling.

Conversation moved on as it often does, and we ended up back at work as we set out our food.

“We got the commission.” Eric beamed and I almost fell out of my chair.

“You did? Oh my GOD!”

“I know, it’s pretty amazing for Lafayette, I mean it’s the First Lady, you know? He’s thrilled because he has such a crush on ‘Michelle‘, and he wants me to shoot it.”

“I assumed! Aw honey!” I said hopping off my chair for my hug, “that’s so many kinds of awesome.” I smiled at him, so proud.

“I was wondering one thing though, if you’d want to be the second with me on the shoot?”

My eyes widened. “For real?”

“Of course for real, I need to hire someone and I can’t think of anyone better than my former intern.” He grinned, and I joined him.

“Well I don’t know… I mean what’s the hourly rate…” I sassed as I got us our plates.

“Ha. Very funny. You in?”

“Will she mind having Donald Duck waddling around her set?”

“Not at all, it’s her and the girls, it’s a modern woman piece, and I was hoping you could …contribute. Coming from such a time warped town an all, you and your Belles experience, Laf’ suggested it today, he’s going to email, it’s only about a thousand or two thousand words, and it would be on spec, but, if you’re interested in telling?”

I pondered the idea, it could be good, and to be part of such an issue at all was an honour, “I’ll let him email what he wants, but I can’t see why not. A short article on the changes of this Southern Belle? Hell why not, people read worse over breakfast.” I said as we made our way to the couch for movie time that night.

Of course nothing in my life went to plan, my tiny little contribution to one issue turned out to be a bit of a cult hit with the readers, and it turned into a monthly column on all things Sookie in New York, so I juggled it with work and with impending motherhood. I had to laugh at myself sometimes, nothing went to plan, and I mean nothing. Not my life in New Orleans, not my marriage to Alcide, not my career choice in college, and not my ‘silly’ little one night stand all those years before. Not even my baby could go to ‘plan’, as four months and six days later we walked back into our place – including one very blue accented nursery, with a healthy, happy, and vocal baby girl.

The look on Eric’s face when she was born was one I don’t think I’d ever forget. He was thrilled, but shocked, as shocked as we all were expecting our boy and then out came little Karenina. He kept asking if something fell off and if they were sure, I’d been in labour almost two days, neither of us were thinking straight at all. But when she did arrive it felt as right as anything could have felt when she was passed to us and nothing could have prepared us for what we felt for that one little person so suddenly.

No, nothing goes to plan, but sometimes the plan just needs to be thrown out the window and you have to let life take you where it’s meant to. What you’re born into doesn’t always have to define who you become and how you live your life. It’s never easy, but then again most things worth having never truly come around in a simple manner, do they? I scrapped my plan set out for me and never looked back, you just never know where you might end up, or with whom!

The End.

(For real this time 😉 )


A/N: You’ve all been awesome in your support of this story, you know who you are and I adore you all! xox

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