Complete Story : TDWD

Title: The Devil Wears Discount?
Category: Books » Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries
Author: ChanelAddict
Language: English, Rating: Rated: M
Genre: Romance/Family
Published: 09-17-11, Updated: 09-04-12
Chapters: 33, Words: 157,232

Chapter 1: Chapter 1


SPOV:

Tense, that would describe my mood today, well it would describe my mood just about all the time, actually. You see being the youngest VP in what used to be my Grandmother’s cosmetics company, everything fell into my hands, since you see my brother – the company president was an incompetent, disorganized idiot who played crazy golf in his office all day rather than deal with the day to day running of our business. It was a struggle, and I admit the fact that I was passed over for President in favour of Jason, despite the hours and the workload I put in, still ate at me. As it stood she still held position as CEO, but it was in name only, leaving the running of the show to Jason and I. Or should I say, just me. I dealt with it, and I tried not to let my underlying resentment of that fact affect my relationship with my bother. Yes, he was a fool, but he was still my brother.

I strutted into my office, as usual twenty minutes earlier than they expect me, leaving the rest of the office workers in a complete tizzy. They feared me, that’s for sure. The men were scared I’d cut their balls off, and the women were just plain scared. It’s not that I set out to garner the reputation of a ice bitch, but somehow, somewhere along the line, it just happened. And I just didn’t care enough to rectify it.

Sure I was standoffish, sure I was quick tempered and lacked patience for people and their problems. But that didn’t make me a bad person, and in fact, it made me a fucking amazing Vice President. Even in a recession I’d gotten our revenue up forty percent on the pervious year, so if I had to be an Ice Bitch in the eyes of my underlings, so be it.

“Paula, where is my coffee? And the fall schedule, is there a reason it’s not on my desk?

Still nothing.

“PAULA!”

“Yes, Miss Stackhouse, sorry my skirt got stuck in the photocopier… again.”

“What were you doing? Sitting on it?” I glared at her and she just hurried to my desk with the papers and my coffee, which, I bet was cold.

Incompetence it ran in them all, apparently.

And I was right, as it landed all over my shirt. My crisp white shirt. Thankfully it was cold.

Count to ten, Sookie, count to ten.

“Oh, my GOD, I’m so sorry!” She gasped, grabbing some tissues off my desk, and patting me down with them. I grabbed them back off her.

“I got it!” I snapped and dried myself off, thankfully I kept two change of clothes in my office closet for occasions like these. Since I was surrounded by fools in every department and all.

“Thank you,” I said, “can you please go and … get changed, walking around with your ass hanging out isn’t how I do business.” I said, motioning to her now torn skirt. Honestly, how did that even happen?

“I don’t have…”I glared.

“Yes, Miss Stackhouse.” She said hurried, before scooting out of my office and to her desk and I went to change my blouse, and begin my day.

Someone was getting fired.

EPOV:

I looked at the address on the card that human resources gave me, and it seemed like I had the right building at least. It was large, overly so, sky scraper so. A large SCC adored the building, and on the revolving glass doors, as well as on the gold notice by the doors. Stackhouse Cosmetics & Couture. I knew about the company, my ex girlfriend used a lot of their products, I knew it was big business. What I didn’t know was why human resources was sending me to a clothes and cosmetics company to be an assistant. Not to be sexist or nothing, but I knew numbers, I didn’t know blusher from eye shadow, so I didn’t exactly think I’d be best for the job. But, the agency assured me I’d be fine, and that they were desperate… as was I. So, there I was. Signing in for my meeting with the VP of the company. An S. Stackhouse. Was she the S in the SCC? Hardly, I pondered, since she was only the VP and not the P…P.

I grinned to myself, because yes, PP made me think of pee pee, and I was twelve inside apparently.

I rode the elevator up to fourteenth floor, silently attempting to get my breathing under control, and soon the doors opened and that’s ladies who looked like they hadn’t had a square meal since they hit puberty stepped out, I was greeted by a mirrored floor, and glass and mirrored walls, and the clicking of high heels.

I was in hell.

All the women looked like supermodels, they all were dressed to perfection, and the men look like they too stepped out of some kind of Stepford machine of perfection. Not a hair nor a tie crooked. I felt suddenly self-conscious. I wasn’t in jeans, but I was wearing my trusted black converse, and my shirt was unbuttoned with a t-shirt underneath and I wasn’t wearing a tie. In fact, I didn’t even own one.

I so wasn’t getting this job.

You see my background was in numbers, math, science, I was a book nerd all things considered. But after Grad school I was feeling burnt out on the numbers game. I didn’t love it like I used to, and I wanted to find something else. There was more to life than books and numbers, at least that’s what my ex told me as she was dumping me for the lead singer in a band called ‘Social Suicide’. Seriously.

And so, with that I got the balls to try something new. Of course finding something new in a city like New York wasn’t hard if you looked carefully enough, but the fact was I had to make rent – now on my own, and I had to make it fast. So I signed up for temp agency, and being one of the only guys in the registering process amongst a lot of women, I questioned if I’d done the right thing?

I also questioned it as the receptionist looked me up and down with distain as I approached her pristine desk. I might as well give it a shot, I did pay for a cab here and everything so I wouldn’t be late.

“Hi, Eric Northman here, for S…Stackhouse.”

She looked up, her eyes widened.

“You’re kidding.”

“Um, no?” I said.

“Are you here for the modelling gig? I mean only a male model would get away with coming to see her dressed like that, and when I mean get away with it, I mean just barely.”

“I’m here for the PA job.”

She burst out laughing. Really not a good sign.

“Okay then, this, I have to see. I’ll show you to her office, ” she said as she slipped out from behind her space, slipped on her heels and sauntered in front of me until we were in front of yet another glass wall, only this one I couldn’t see though.

“Miss Stackhouse, there is an Eric Northman here to see you.”

Secretary said, a smug air in words.

“Who?”

“He said he’s here for the PA position.”

Silence from inside the room, before I heard a sigh.

“Send him in. And get me the May report from the Paris S/S season sales will you, I need to check something.”

“Of course, anything else?”

“No. That’s all,” said the voice, clipped and frightening.

I gulped.

“You can go in now…” The redhead said, smirking again and she clipped against the floor with her oddly shaped shoes.

“Mr Northman?” The S Stackhouse said, and she wasn’t at all what I was expecting.

She wasn’t a dragon breathing fire for one thing. I almost dropped the folders I was holding in my hand.

Damn it, butter fingers.

“Hi… Miss…Mrs…”

“Miss.”

“Miss… Stackhouse.”

“Mr Northman, not to be… picky, but on the sample resume they sent, they said it was Erica. So you can understand my confusion here.”

Oh, shit.

“Oh…I see.””

Typically I hire female assistants, for obvious reasons… I want someone who is familiar with the company, our products, the branding, and of course has the ability to meet my needs.”

I wonder if all her needs were being met. She was hot, that was my first thought, after scary as hell, she was hot. Slim, not shocking there, but she wasn’t as skinny as the girls out front. She had tone and muscle. And boobs. Great boobs from my point of view. She was polished and shiny with wavy blonde hair twisted into an elegant ponytail, a sensual looking royal blue wrap dress encased her curves, stopping just above her knee that led to long looking legs. She wasn’t as tall as the girls out front either, but she had a presence that they didn’t have. She had an attractive face, striking blue eyes, icy, just like the rest of her, and perfectly glossed tinted soft pink lips. She was stiff though, in her stance and in her conversation, this woman took no shit. Or she just didn’t take A shit.

Either way she didn’t seemed too familiar with the word relaxed.

“I may not know much about makeup or whatever, but I do know business, I’m good with figures… I have a my résumé here if you’d like to…”She snapped it out of my hands.

“Graduated top of your class at North-western, that’s… impressive.” She raised a perfect brow.

“Thank you. That’s nice of you to say, I get the impression now much impresses you.”

Shit, me and my big mouth.

She simply raised a brow again, and continued reading.

“So you’re good with numbers then, Masters, PHD…all in a field that has nothing to do with cosmetics or business.”

“No, but it’s problem solving, and number crunching, something most businesses deal with on a daily basis, unless this one is both number and problem free?”

Again, with the mouth. Shut up!

This time she stopped reading, putting my resume on the desk.

“You’ve got opinions then, that’s new. Most people who walk through that door are so scared of me they almost pee a little. Not you.”

I stood a little taller then, if it was possible. I took her comment as a compliment, whether she meant it as one or not, and I pushed my glasses to stop them sliding down my face as she looked me up, and looked me down.

I felt naked under her gaze.

“Okay, Erica…Eric?”

“Eric.” I clarified. “My parents weren’t that cruel.”

“Lucky you.” she said, dryly before she moved her fine ass in that fine skirt behind her massive desk.

I looked him dead in the eye again, after letting him stand there for a few seconds, unsure of what to do next.

“Mr Northman what do you know about SCC?”

Deer in the headlights.

“I … um… you guys have a fashion line… and you do makeup and all the women here are super skinny and judgemental, and… you guys really like mirrors.”

Her eyes widened slightly, but she said nothing until a full minute later when she spoke again. Yes, I counted.

“Okay, Eric. Here’s the deal. You start now because I’m already behind and just don’t have time to interview anymore people today, this is a trial basis lasting six weeks. If you manage to survive that trial period, you’ll be hired signing a year to year contract. If that’s something you think you can do?”

“I thin- I know I can.”

She nodded.

“Good. Go out front, there is a girl named Paula sitting at a glass desk to the left of my office, tell her to come in and see me, you, take her place and her desk and there will be someone with you shortly to show you the ropes. Got it?””I got it. I mean, yes. Thank you.”

She looked down at her work, as if I wasn’t there.

“Do I… Now?”

“Yes. Now, Mr Northman,” she said again without looking up. I guess I’d been dismissed.

Ten minutes later, the woman named Paula came out of Stackhouse’s office, in floods of tears. Coming towards me with a sad and hurt look on her face. I was sitting at her desk, oh… I was her replacement.

She sniffled as she was handed a box.

“You know she’s the devil, don’t you? She’s pure EVIL. She’s a bitch and she…” Paula said as she threw some of her things into the box. I just didn’t know what to say. I didn’t deal well with crying women, never had.

“I’m sorry.”

“Oh, you will be. You won’t last a week with Satan in there. Trust me, she’s the Devil! Get out while you still have your dignity.” She said throwing the last of her things haphazardly and turning on her too-high-heels and marching towards the elevator.

Well, this job just got ten times more interesting than my time at Parrot Palace, that’s for sure.

SPOV:

He was completely incompetent. Or so I thought, as I watched him from my glass office. The whole way around, the three walls allowed me a full view of the floor, but they couldn’t see inside at all, unless I flipped a little switch and made it so. I loved modern technology.

I had to bite my lip to stop myself from laughing though when he gave me his answer about what he knew about the company. No one had ever been that …uninformed before. And because really – was he serious? And as well as that, had anyone else given me that answer I would have dismissed them, but there was something playful in his tone that told me he wasn’t just ‘stupid’ he was fucking with me. No one was usually brave enough to fuck with me, ever, and least of all on the first meeting.

I sighed. I really didn’t have time for this new… confliction. And yet I still watched.

I watched as he stumbled twice from his desk to the front desk, then I watched him try to figure out the phone system, and then I watched as he met Pam.

Pamela was my right hand woman in a sense. She ran the magazine department, I had final say on all issues of course, but she was copy-editor in name and in career, since I was more product, design and consumer aware. Pam was the one who knew how to organize my thoughts and my wants and needs into our monthly issues. I watched her size him up, and down, and up again, and I saw his blush all the way from where he stood. Bright red, so whatever she had said to him, he wasn’t used to it.

Or, maybe he was and it was just his game.

I knew in this business everyone had a game plan, everyone. From the editors to the janitors and it was always important to keep in mind, because as the boss they all wanted something from you. It wasn’t ideal, in fact sometimes it was a pain in the ass, and it made me extremely cautious of people in general. When someone always expects something off you in someway, it’s hard to let new people in, there is only so much meat on the bone after all.

Pam sauntered into my office and sat on my desk, she was the only person who treated me like she did, because she could, because she was my friend.

“New meat?”

“Trial basis,” I said reading the reports I was behind on, ignoring her.

“He’s hot. If I where on that team I’d play with him. You should play with him.”

“Pam, we have a meeting in ten minutes, can we not do this now?”

“When can we do this then? Sookie since Quinn… you’ve been sat in your tower like a prisoner, no men, no fun, no nothing. That’s just fucking sad. You work hard, you should play hard too.”

“Yes, because you are all about balancing, right Pam?”

She grinned, “right now I’m balancing three women and a guy I’m trying to figure out if I want to fuck him or just be him,” she mused.

Pam had sworn off men in her early teens, but every once in a while she found one that held her attention, and libido enough to fool around with. She classed herself as Trisexual, if she had to, though she hated labels – ones that weren’t designer and hanging in her closet. They were the only thing that sat in her closet though, she was a serious advocator for equal rights, something I took on board and bled through to our products for various charities and functions we hosted every year for the cause.

“I don’t have time to play. Hell, I barely have time to eat.”

“You have been plummeting weight, Lafayette told me he had to alter your clothes again. Miss Two.”

So I was stressed, running an empire was stressful. Especially when I did all the work and my brother reaped all the praise, but really I wasn’t bitter.

I wasn’t.

“Pam it’s fine.”

“Are you eating?”

“Of course I am.”

“Yes, of course you are. All alone in your big empty penthouse -”

“I have Tina.”

“She’s a cat, Sookie, and I’m going to pretend you didn’t just say that.”

I rolled my eyes.

“Do you have a copy of the new product reports?” I tried to change the subject as she held them in front of me, and when I went to reach for them, she snapped them back. Irritating me to no end.

“Woman do not test me, I’ve had a hard enough day as it is.”

“Yes, I see that. Firing that idiot and hiring the yummy hella awkward model.”

“He’s not a model,” I stated, and she leaned over my desk to look out at him, I looked again too, this time he was squinting at the laptop with the headgear for the phone finally in place.

“And please don’t say ‘hella‘.”

“He should be. I mean, we could beat the awkward right out of him. A three piece would look sexual on him, spiff up the hair, lose the glasses… ”

“I like the glasses…” I mumbled.

Shit.

“Ohh, so you are still alive in there then. Interesting,” she teased.

“Pam, he’s my employee and has been for all of a half hour. Can we just drop it. Anyway, you know I don’t like people.”

“Yeah, that explains Quinn.”

I rolled my eyes again, she wouldn’t let that go would she?

“It was a relationship… it ended, move on.”

“No, it was fuck buddies and you got bored, or he got bored, you still never told me what went down there.”

“It’s not important,” I dismissed.

“Ah, but that’s where you’re wrong my friend. Relationships are important, with actual people, not products or consumer reports or launching PR days… being outside with the three dimensional people, touching, feeling, fucking. It’s important.”

“Well, if it’s so important can you please go fuck off somewhere else and leave me in peace until I read these?”

She raised her brows, normally I reined in my potty mouth, but sometimes and mostly it was around Pam, I let loose.

“My little Sookims is still in there,” she singsonged on her way out of my office.

“Pam?”

“Yes?”

“Call me that again and you’re fired.” I smiled and she winked before she rolled her eyes at me.

“We’re doing dinner tonight, no arguments. I’ll send a town car for you at six.”

Before I had a chance to argue, she walked out. I loved her, I did, her interfering I loved a little less though. She might have been right though, I had worked myself into a cocoon of sorts. Work became my everything. It became all I had time for, all I made time for. My last quote unquote relationship had been with John Quinn, he was everything that had nothing to do with my world and I loved it. He knew nothing about fashion, or cosmetics, brands or magazines. It was perfect for me. We’d meet, we’d eat, and we’d fuck, not always in that order, but it was what it was. To me, it was a relationship because it was all I thought I wanted, and it was all he wanted too. So for a short period of time my nights were less lonely, I was less lonely, I was less… alone. Now, there I was at thirty with a thriving business life, and a non-existent personal life. I didn’t want to be so guarded, but it was a by-product of my job, I became the ice-bitch so they feared me, and in a way they respected the consistency, and that I got stuff done better than anyone else. The bad part of that was people rarely wanted to be friends with an ice-bitch, or date them for that matter. I never let anyone get close enough to see my weaknesses, for some reason it was something that scared me, so in closing myself off to do a better job at work, my life – what little I had outside of it didn’t really exist anymore. I wasn’t so sure when exactly I allowed that to happen…

For a moment I wallowed in my own self pity, that maybe this wasn’t who I needed to be, that I didn’t need people to fear me instead of like me and get to know me. But then the phone rang, and it was business as usual, they didn’t care that I cried at romantic comedies, or that I loved to watched reality tv in my pyjamas, or that I was scared that my cat judged me. No, they cared that I knew my stats, and had the balls to launch an expensive high end product in the middle of recession and have it sell out in a matter of hours. They cared that I got them profit, that I got my business profit, that I sat with the most respected in the cosmetic and fashion world at events all around the world and that I held my own with them, for a country girl from Louisiana, that was none too shabby.

But I cared about my life, I wanted more for it than just being married to my work, but for now I was who I was and I had to do what I had to do, as cliché as that sounds. And what I had to do was run a business.

As I glanced at my hapless assistant I knew it was time for the ice crown to go back on, and for the self pity to be tucked away for another day.

“Northman!” I said and he came tripping around the doorway, folders in hand.

“Yes?” He said, again this one had no fear, I liked that. No one else looked at me like that, like they weren’t totally terrified of me.

“We have a meeting, I need you to take notes, can you do that?”

He nodded before handing me some papers.

“Two advertising firms left messages for you to call them back about the magazine shoots for next Wednesday and asked if the models were to your liking… um and then some Gabba guy’s office called about um…well he had an accent and he was speed talking so… it was something about France and in December and if you’d call them back at your convenience…”

I exhaled loudly letting him know my annoyance with him as I snapped the rest of the messages from his hands. God, he wrote like a third grader running out of paper. Why such tiny writing for such a big guy? I wondered.

“Meeting, it’s in the board room. You can follow me since Lafayette hasn’t arrived to give you the full tour yet.”

He nodded.

“Take the dictaphone with you, make the notes from that later… and Mr Northman?”

“Yes?”

“We aren’t having a paper shortage, it’s okay to expand your lettering so that I won’t need a magnifying glass to read them, okay?”

“Oh…” He blushed, “I’m so used to numbers and dealing with my research I guess my writing skills have suffered.”

I nodded then. I agreed with that.

“I’ll have an iPad on your desk in an hour. I trust technology isn’t something you struggle to grasp?”

“No, that should be easy enough, thank you.”

“Good, you can do all your note taking and appointment making from there. There is also a work phone being organized for you. Lafayette with run thought all of this with you, including your preferces. We’ll discuss salary and hours after the tour, understood?

He nodded again.

“Good, and Mr Northman, I have one rule about the phones. When I call, you always answer, or you’re fired. Clear?”

He nodded again, silently taking it all in. Again, no fear. It was odd and not something I was used to at all if I was honest. It was why he interested me. He didn’t seem fully ass backwards, and his résumé told me that he had brains. Even if he didn’t know how to work his body, tripping all over himself like he was. There was potential there, rough and unpolished … and in his case un-ironed as it was. But, it was there and I’d give it a shot. Hope springs eternal, right? And I always had hope that I’d find someone to work under me that could handle all I could offer. For now, maybe this Eric Northman was it.

“Good, let’s get started then, shall we?”


A/N: New story peeps! All reviews and feedback is more than welcome! 😀 Let me know what you think! 😀 xox


Chapter 2: Chapter 2


EPOV:

The ‘staff’ meeting was like a photo shoot for some magazine, that was my first thought, as all the pretty people took their seats in their perfectly fit clothing and click-clack sounding shoes. There was an empty seat next to Sookie and she nodded that I take it, I opened by I pad to start taking notes. Not that I knew the first thing about what she wanted recorded or not, but I figured I’d wing it and by the end of it Sookie seemed fine and I wasn’t fired, so winging it worked. She introduced me as her new assistant and there was mumbled from a few at the back before she promptly told them that Paula wasn’t cutting her slack and had to go, that they’d accept me or they too would be fired.

It seems that the ‘fear of God‘ was her approach to running her business. It seemed to work, they were all meeting targets and all problem free besides one or two issues with a certain product it seemed like this was a well sailed ship and it was running fine. I just hope I could keep up the pace. There was a lot of rushing around and a lot of learning as I went. I knew within five minutes of meeting Sookie that she wasn’t the most patient person in the world, and it seems her staff were just like that too. Everything was a big deal, every little thing effected a huge thing which effected the company. It was daunting as hell and that just in my first hour. Finally though Lafayette came to my desk, I saw him sauntering (and I really mean, sauntering,) down the hallway with some clipboards in hand. He was clearly in the art department, because he himself looked like an art project. I’d never before seen so much colour, and so much… false lashes on one man before.

“You Eric?”

“Yes, I take it you’re Lafayette?”

“Oh, baby, does my reputation precede me?”

“Um, no… Miss Stackhouse told me you were to show me around, plus you’re like the only person who’s talked to me today so…”

He frowned.

“Aw newbie,” he patted me on the shoulder, “yes I’m Lafayette and yes I do need to show you around so you don’t get that nice, tall self of yours lost and give Sookie a reason to chop your head off.”

He smiled.

“Not that she would, it’s far too pretty a head underneath all that fluffy unkempt hair and whatever those glasses are…”

He shook his head and rolled his eyes, “so come on, I don’t have all day.”

We walked and talked down the gleaming hallway, well I say walked, it was more like sprinted.

“That to the left is the copy room you’ll be in there a lot. Avoid Sophie-Anne she’s a whore and you’re new. So it’s fresh meat.”

“Who is -”

“Receptionist, red hair? Skirt practically around her waist,” he said as we walked clearly letting his distaste for her show.

“Oh, I don’t think that’ll be an issue, she showed me to Sook… Miss Stackhouse’s office and couldn’t contain her laughter.”

“Why was she laughing?”

I looked down at what I was wearing… “I don’t exactly fit in here right now. You all look like you stepped out of GQ.”

He smiled.

“You’ll learn, in time. Okay, in here is the meeting or conference rooms everything that isn’t handled down here,” he pointed to another large white room leading to more white rooms. I was starting to feel dizzy.

“This is the art department, we keep the wardrobe department, shoes, accessories, clothes, bags, everything that is delivered has to come down here to be unpacked, inspected, and hung for her inspection… This is anything from any designer for any given time. Since she works the magazine out of here as well on another floor.”

I nodded trying to write down what the rooms were for on my note pad. I left my I pad behind me.

“What are you doin’ boy?”

“I… taking notes?”

He raised his brow and shook his head as if he couldn’t really understand it.

“All…right. As I was saying pulls are taken here for photo shoots and interviews, reviews etc. They’re branding a lot of shit right now, and since the fashion end of things has suffered lately they’re looking to re-brand the company as Stackhouse Inc. It’s taking time since there are some personal issues standing, but all the shit falls under SCC right now, Sook is tryin’ to change that. She’s taking the ‘Couture’ started by her Grandmother -”

“Who started the business by hand making and stitching the clothes from vintage materials as far back as World War II,” I said, rather proud that I knew that.

“So you’ve read the welcome pack then, goodie for you. And yes. Her Grandmother did that and she insists on keeping it in the business name even though the business only produces five percent from the actual ‘Couture’ line a year… it’s a fucking mess. Sookie wants to make it more accessible, as she damn well should in these economic times, her old Gran won’t hear of changing the company name even if it makes things easier for Sook…” he shook his head, clearly frustrated as this seemed to an on going, and massive issue within the company.

“Okay…”

“As her assistant, you’re basically her slave okay? I mean I could word it differently but she owns your ass. The good news is…” he wrote on a piece of paper and showed me a number. A very large, very impressive number, “that my tall one, is your starting salary. Christmas bonus is a percentage of what the company makes, so if we make good we MAKE good, you understand?”

I nodded, I knew numbers and this impressed me.

“Seriously? That’s… I’m an assistant.”

“No baby, you basically just signed your personal life over to Sookie Stackhouse, but you get paid well for it and that’s what matters. If you want to make it, you break it. And by it, I mean your ass. She expects a lot, she does, but that’s because she gives a lot too. She won’t expect you to work any harder, than she does. And trust, the girl she works in her sleep.”

I gulped, making him laugh.

“Don’t worry sweetheart, you showed up looking like… that. And she still hired you. You is lucky.”

“I am?”

“I guess so! And listen Sookie has a few chinks in her armour.”

“She does? She doesn’t look… chinky.”

He laughed.

“Are you going to tell me what they are?”

“Nope.”

“Why not?”

“You haven’t earned them yet, Newbie. Now I need you to take this… and these… and these. To Sookie.”

“Will I get to call her Sookie?”

“Most assistants don’t last long enough to get to that stage, baby, but who knows the streak of luck you’re having might stick and she might decide to keep you around. Like the office puppy. All massive and un-ironed….but cute and sort of helpful.”

“Did you just call me a -”

“Last girl that was in your position? I compared her to a field mouse. Be thankful.”

I didn’t understand that, but then again I assumed I wouldn’t really understand a lot of what he said. I took my files and my giant book of what looked like fabric samples and carried them to Sookie’s office. She was on the phone ranting at someone in French, so I just walked as quietly as I could and laid the stuff down on her desk. She nodded and I left. Done. Simple. I thought, and for THAT salary I could do shit like this all day every day.

Only my first day was literally just dipping my feet in the water, I really had no idea what was coming.

SPOV:

It was the end of a seriously stressful day on my part. The office was winding to a close, and I saw Eric shutting down his desk. So far, he’d done okay. He’d done all that was asked of him, and a lot that wasn’t – that was the key to why I decided to let him keep his job. The others before him just barely did as I asked with no initiative at all, he though? He reorganized the filing on his side, his desk and area were tidy and presentable. Unlike him. I would have to, at some point have a word with him on his choice of clothes, but since it was his first day and he did seem like the deer very much caught in the headlights, he had his chance to see what attire was expected, hopefully he realized that he’d be expected to fit in around us, not the other way around. He was after all just an assistant.

Lost in thought for a second I remembered what it was like when I was my Grandmother’s assistant. She wasn’t nearly as hard on me as I had become, but then again she gave nothing for nothing either and I earned where I was. Every minute I’d spent working for her since I was fifth teen meant I’d earned where I sat and I’d earned the right to run this business, even if she didn’t think so.

I sighed and signed off my laptop, before I knew it Eric was standing before me again, a somewhat sheepish look on his face.

“Is there anything else I can do for you, Miss Stackhouse?” He asked, politely.

“Yes. You can sign your contract, that is if it’s what you think you can do? Being here… being my assistant?”

I’d assumed Lafayette had given him his run through, I’d seen him preening over Eric earlier, and Lafayette was nothing if not a blabbermouth, he was an artistic genius, but still, a blabbermouth.

“I… Yes. Mr Reynolds went over it with me like you said he would, it … the money is fantastic I was really expecting … I mean it’s not to say that I think -”

“Mr Northman, can you just sign it so I can go home? I’m sure you’re anxious for your first day to be over with too.” I sighed and he nodded quickly scanning the contract, and signing his name.

“Good. I’ll call you in the morning with the list of tasks for the day, I’ll be out of the office till noon but I’ll need you here by eight to take care of the calls and messages, as well as a few deliveries we have at nine, then Sophie can man your phones, I assume you know how to filter -”

“Yes.”

“Good, she can do that until you come back with me in the afternoon, I expect you to be at this address by eleven, I have a showing and I’ll be needing you there. Okay?”He nodded as I handed him the small piece of paper with the address on it.

“Good. Welcome to SCC, Mr Northman.” I said, reaching out to shake his hand. I might have been an ice-bitch, but I wasn’t unnecessarily rude.

He smiled, and I was almost taken aback. He had perfect teeth, and one of the most genuine smiles I’d seen in a while. It lit his whole face up. It was sort of beautiful.

Oh.

“Thank you, Miss Stackhouse I mean you have no idea what this mean to me and my -”

“That’s all.” I said, okay, a little rude but really I was dead on my feet and even though I loved my Louboutins as much as the next girl, but I was almost tempted to take them off before I got to my town car. I couldn’t though, that would have made me look too human.

I didn’t know why I was so afraid to let them see me, but I was. Maybe I figured if they saw how fragile I felt or how lost I was, then they’d pity me and I realized early on I’d rather someone fear me, than pity me. So it’s just how it was.

I left my office and got into my town car that took me home where I had one message on my personal line.

One.

From Pam, reminding me if I got home at five thirty I had a half hour to change and get ready for dinner at her place. I smiled, I could use some company, I thought as I looked around my very spacious and therefore very empty Park Avenue penthouse apartment. Tina greeted me with her usual hungry purrs and I obliged and fed her, and we cuddled for a few minutes while I finally got out of my shoes and into my oversized navy and white stripe sweater dress, some black pantyhose and much welcomed black patent flat pumps.

Comfort at it’s finest.

I looked around my empty home, filled to the brim with the best of the best in designer furniture, art work, designed to the last tea cup to fit my style. Floor to ceiling glass windows surrounded the front of the house, allowing me stunning views of New York in both brightness, but particularly in the darkness. It was inspiring in so many ways, it was no doubt a privilege to live there, I knew that I was very lucky. We’d always grown up comfortable, but it was nothing to what we’d become when the business went global, then the money became slightly obscene. The money isn’t the main reason I stuck around though. Ever since I was a little girl I loved playing in my mother’s beauty box, or her wardrobe, and playing dress up, to then dressing up other little girls and not so little girls. I believed all girls should feel beautiful, and that in creating the magazine to co-exist with other fashion labels and designers as well as our own brand range of that and cosmetics… well I loved it. And whenever I’d pass a woman in the street in one of our things, in a pair of our shoes, or clutching one of our bags. It gave me that feeling that I got as a kid dressing up. Excitement. And that’s why I stuck around, it’s why I loved it. What I didn’t love was the empty personal life having that small feeling meant, but like most things, I just dealt with it and moved on as best as I could. I patted Tina on the head, and grabbed my bag to make my way to Pam’s place. Wine would be had, laughs would be laughed and I’d have one killer of a hangover in the morning.

Totally worth it.

EPOV:

I gotten home to Brooklyn finally, having stopped to pick up Chinese food for dinner I was totally wiped by the time I got in the door. Having made six trips to the art department, as well as the magazine department itself where the writers were, then to the cosmetics section to pick up samples have them marked and leave the back, then three runs to Starbucks and a run for lunch in busy mid-day traffic.

Wiped is the only word to describe it.

I got home to my one bedroom apartment, I was greeted by a smile and a great big bear hug from

Emily. Emily, and her baby sitter – who was less bear hug person, more a polite smile person told me she was as good as gold – as usual, she added before telling us she’d see us the next day. Amelia was great, she lived two doors down with her daughter and her husband, and she kindly watched Emily for me after school most days so I could work. It worked out great since Emily and Taylor – Amelia and Trey’s daughter got on like a house on fire since they were in the same pre-school.

“So how was work?” she asked, looking up from her colouring enough for me to move it and set a plate in front of her.

“Good, I got a new job today.”

“Aw what? No more parrot visits?”

I laughed, thank Christ, no more Parrot visits, since my last temp was at a giant pet store.

“No. I’m working for SCC in the city. It’s Stackhouse Cosmetic and C-”

“Oh my god, I saw those ads on TV. Wow that’s a big place to work! What do you do? Do you do their math for them?” she asked, more confused this time.

“No,” I laughed, “not the math, but I’m working with boss of the whole thing. She’s tough but the money is so much better than before so that’s the huge plus here.”

She nodded. She was only five, but she was an old soul and always had been, wise way beyond her mere five years. I guess she had to have been, we both did. You see Emily wasn’t my kid, she was my kid sister who I was tasked with taking over her guardianship when our parents were killed when she was three. It was tough, beyond tough. I was in my twenties and then suddenly I had a kid to raise when I was just getting the hang of raising and caring for myself. Our parents died in a car accident when they were on vacation in Spain. My dad had taken mom on a cruise and mini tour of Europe for a month as an anniversary present, they made it back to where they were both from in Sweden for a week before heading to Spain, they never came home though. So that left me dropping out of my research programme that paid buttons, to take whatever jobs I could get so that Emily and I could survive. It was partly because it didn’t hold my interest as it once had, true, but mostly because all my interest and all my worry was focused solely on her now. It had to be. I was all she had. Sad thing was, she was more of a grown up than I was most days.

“I can’t live on Chinese food, Eric. I’ve a kid, it’s bad for me,” she shrugged biting into her chicken.

“Shush, and eat.”

“Amelia made me a snack when I came from school, SHE knows how to work her oven…”

I didn’t, so sue me.

“I told you, I’m learning.”

She just glared.

“Pop tarts and scrabbled eggs… I’m a growing girl I need more stuff than that.”

“And that’s why we have Chinese food, now eat, Squirt.”

She sighed but ate anyway and we both stuck in a DVD that she insisted we watch even though she fell asleep before we were a half hour in, as always.

We lived in a one bed roomed apartment, and she got the bedroom. Mostly because she was a little girl and I was not, and mostly because I wasn’t an asshole. We’d done it up in pink and white, with Princess wall transfers and glitter pink canopy, she loved her Princess bed, it made her happy, so that’s what counted. And that’s what I reminded myself when I got back ache from sleeping on the lumpy sofa every night.

I carried her into her room and did my best to remove her shoes and her little jeans, she could sleep in her pants and t-shirt, she did often when she fell asleep at movies, I hadn’t the heart to wake her to change anyway. I put her to bed and tucked her in, switching on her nightlight before I walked out of the room.

“Eric…” she said, sleepy still.

“Yeah?”

“G’night, I love you.”

I smiled.

“Love you too, now go back to sleep.”

“Mmmhm,” was all she got out before she turned and squished her face against her pillow, out like a light.

I switched on Law & Order, popped a beer and finished the remainder of my Chinese food before I got to sleep that night. I knew it would be a hell of an early morning rush, but I just kept thinking of the money. It would be a massive improvement on what we’d been living on, we could fix some stuff up… I wondered as I looked around the apartment, it wasn’t in bad condition or even in a bad area, we’d lucked out with a decent landlord and it was remodelled only a few years before so it was modern, but it was still in need of few fresh coats of paint, some new carpets, and it definitely needed a sofa bed, a large one, I’d been dying to stretch out on a king size bed for a VERY long time. It hadn’t happened yet. It would though, one day.

It was six thirty, I was up dressed and had breakfast …what wasn’t burnt…much, already ready. Emily was sitting on the couch, her hair all sticking up, half asleep on the couch watching Barney.

I hated that fucking dinosaur, always so damn perky.

“Okay kid, come on, washed, brushed and dressed before six forty five.”

“But whhhhhy?” she whined, “I don’t have to go to pre-school till nine! The clock doesn’t say nine!”

“I know, but I have to be in work by eight and if I’m not my boss lady, who did I mention was really tough? She’s going to be pissed at me and might fire me, so we have to hustle.”

“Where are you taking me…”

I hadn’t figured that one out yet. I text Amelia at seven just to politely see if she was awake, she didn’t answer instead I heard a knock at the door. A perky looking Ames was standing there in her fluffy bathrobe.

“Problem, Eric?”

“Uh, hi, um well there is kind of. I got a new job yesterday…”

She smiled, “that’s so great! Oh honey I am glad. That other place was horrible… all those birds, you’re much smarter than that.”

“Thanks.” I smiled back, “but it’s for this huge business in the city, um, Stackhouse Cos-”

“Oh my God! I love all their stuff! I practically live in that woman’s shoes, they’re amazing… and the makeup is just to die for I mean -”

“Ames?”

“Oh… Right… carry on.” She said, helping herself to some coffee.

“Well I’m working for Sookie Stackhouse -”

“Ohhh she’s meant to be a bitch,” she said and Emily over-heard.

“Ames you said bitch!”

“No I didn’t I said…itch.” She looked over to the couch where Emily was simply rolling here eyes.

“That doesn’t even make SENSE, how can a person be an ITCH,” Emily said.

“She should have seen some of my exes,” Ames whispered to me and I laughed.

“Problem is she’s a bit of a workaholic and as her assistant that means I have odder hours… so…”

“You were wondering if I’d take Em?”

“Little bit…”

She smiled, “Eric I told you, it’s not a problem, look I work from home and Trey is gone all day, after pre-school it’s nice that the kids have each other.”

“I sort of have to leave now.”

“Oh…”

“She’s had breakfast…”

“I’ve had burnt eggs and a Pop-tart,” Emily interjected, and it was my turn to roll my eyes.

“It’s fine, I wake up at six anyway, Taylor is still asleep but we can work something out.”

“Ames, I want to pay you.”

She shook her head, “No, I told you before it’s not necessary. Really. She’s no trouble, Eric.”

“No, I know you say that and before it was amazing and so sweet because… well I couldn’t have afforded a babysitter on my money, but now, the money is better…”

“That usually means the job is hell…” She said.

“I’ve heard… but please?”

“No. I swear if you do I’m just going to give to Emily…”

“Can I buy an iPhone?” She asked from her spot on the couch.”No, you can’t, you’re five you don’t need an iPhone!”

Besides she had a cell phone one that could call my number and that’s it. We had a deal and to her word she’d stuck to it, and not even lost the phone, even thought it was old as hell, it kept us in contact during the day at least.I sighed, resigned in that I knew Amelia wouldn’t take the money, I’d figure out a way of paying her back though. I’d just have to think about it.

“Okay you’re a life saver, seriously, you sure Trey doesn’t mind?”

“Please, he’s off to work at eight anyway, he won’t even notice,” she smiled again and went and got her things together in her backpack.

“Okay, cool. Thanks again so much. Come on, Emily!”

I said as she dragged her little butt off the couch. “Coat, shoes, dress, socks – please wear them this time, and be good for Ames, okay?”

“Okay…” she whined.

“Hey… hey… look at me…” I said and she still looked at the floor. I scoop her up and stood her on the kitchen table so we were eye to eye, it’s the trick to doing her shoe laces too.

“I’ll give you guys a minute, Eric, drop her over when you’re ready,” Amelia said before she left.

“What’s wrong, Em?”

“Nothing…”

“So why won’t you look at me? Are you just tired?”

She shook her head.

“Then what?”

“I miss Mom. I miss Dad too, but I want a Mom hug.”

My heart sank, yeah, kid… I wanted a Mom hug too, sometimes.

“I know, Sweetheart, but you know we talked about this…”

“I know, they’re in heaven and God needs them… But Eric, WE need them more.”

I hugged her and she wrapped her legs around me just hugging me as tight as she could. Most days she’d be fine, but then, days like these would happen and she’d go into her little shell until I pried her out.

“I promise things are going to be better, see with this new job? It means a LOT more money. So that means we can go shopping for new things, we can buy us both some new clothes and maybe some new toys.”

Her eyes lit up when I mentioned that.

“Really?”

“Yep! And maybe we can go see the Lion King again, soon.”

On Broadway, and she was a Disney nut. And in fairness, I was a little too by association.

She smiled. Praise the Gods, a smile.

“Okay that’s cool.”

“It is cool. I love you, you know?”

She nodded, “you’re a really good big brother… even if your cooking sucks,” she smiled and I poked her stomach before putting her on my shoulders to deliver her to Amelia. Just as I did my phone started beeping.

Shit, it was already after seven. I had to high tail it to work.

Day two should be interesting if it’s anything like Day one.


A/N: Hey guys! Thank you, thank yooou so much for all the sweet reviews and messages! I adore them, really! I haven’t had time to reply to all of them sadly this week got on top of me, but I have read and loved them all! I’m so glad you like this so far! Hope you’re still with it! I’ll try to not be so review/reply fail this time!

xox


Chapter 3: Chapter 3


EPOV:

“Tall iced coffee in a Grande cup with extra ice, 3 pumps hazelnut, 2 pumps classic, an inch of non-fat milk, with a dome lid and a Venti straw…. A um, triple Venti Sugar free, Non fat, No foam, extra caramel, with whip, caramel macchiato, and a Venti, fat free, sugar free, lactose free, double cafe mocha w/o whip, one shot of sugar free vanilla.” I spat out and the girl behind the counter just rolled her eyes at me when finally getting to the counter after waiting in line for ten minutes in the packed Starbucks.

It was my fourth run of the day for Starbucks, and I was in the middle of Soho now, waiting on Sookie to get out of yet another meeting. We’d gone from one to another – on the other side of town, back here for another hour as they discussed backless dresses of all things, and then it was to a showing at some gallery at four, just for Sookie and a few other ‘selected’ people. I truthfully had no idea what was going on, so the break away from the lofts full of clothes and starving models was a nice one, what wasn’t so nice was the incessant calls from Sookie every three seconds demanding that I hurry up. I ran a lot that day, and was really thankful that I’d decided to just wear a black shirt some black pants that still fit and… well okay I was still in my topsiders but these ones were black, and comfortable…and since I was running, it helped. She didn’t complain about what I was wearing but I did see her give me her now famous ‘side eye’ as I joined her that morning from the office to her first meeting. She was course was sitting impeccable, her hair was in soft curls this time, and not tightly tied to her head, she was in a nude dress of some kind, my guess was it cost more than my entire ‘wardrobe’ combined, and her shoes were massive, and matching, with odd red soles. Her lips matched the souls of her shoes.

She was beautiful, no doubt about that, but then she was also a great big bitch behind the beauty.

“Jesus Christ,” she sighed as we got back into the luxurious town car that seemed to be on hand at all times for her needs, it was swag, that’s for sure.

“I hated that collection I mean really just who did he think this shoot was for? Hmm? This is not GAP we’re dealing with here, I mean is it so hard to get decent designs when I ask for them? No, I don’t think I’m asking for the world, I mean millions of women and let’s face it, millions of gay men read our magazine… this is prime advertising.” She sighed again, inhaling her coffee, though it had so many non-fat things in it, she may as well drank water. But I just nodded, and then looked out the window when things got silent again. I could feel her watching me, but I tried not to let it phase me, soon she started talking with the other two girls in the car with us, I couldn’t remember their names but I knew they had something to do with the branding issue.

When we got back to the office I was sent out for lunch, even thought it was after three pm and I hadn’t eaten since ten am either, but I did it. Lunch for three of them that included a LOT of salad, steak and chicken. I’d laid it all out on places and trays and set it down on the large glass table on the other side of Sookie’s giant office, as I did so my stomach rumbled. Loudly.

Oops.

Sookie just looked at me as if I had two heads.

“That’s all…” She said, still looking at me like I was alien. I walked out to my desk and before I sat down there was a text, from Sookie.

You are allowed to eat you know, just because the girls here don’t doesn’t mean we starve people. There is a work based café for this you know, look it up, and for God sakes eat something so you don’t embarrass me like that again!”

How was it possible that she was doing something nice and STILL being a bitch? I wasn’t sure I’d ever understand it. Instead I didn’t care to over analyse anything, I routed my calls to Sophie’s phone, and hightailed it to the cafeteria just about salivating over the braised steak and potatoes. It wasn’t anything on the five star shit I’d had to fetch for their lunch, but this was mine, all mine. And I devoured it, finding a second wind and bout of energy after I’d finished. I walked back up to our floor and ran into a woman I’d seen in Sookie’s office before and she’d judged me right nice the day before too. She was tall, and blonde – not natural like Sookie’s though, she was skinny as all hell but she had an edge about her that the other women there didn’t, she was intimidating. Not like Sookie, no one was as intimidating as her so far, but she was right up there.

“So you’re still here, that’s a surprise,” she said as we rode the elevator together, but she didn’t look at me.

“I guess so.”

“Hmm,” she turned to me, “and I see you still haven’t found an iron. I mean is it some kind of religious thing? Are you against irons in some way?”

“I don’t own one.”

“Sweet…Jesus. Okay, well, I … I don’t even know how to respond to that. There is a clothes steamer in the wardrobe department, in fact I’m sure there are several. Perhaps you go and get acquainted with one?”

“Why?”

Her head snapped towards my direction then.

“Eric, look around you… people here care what they look like, presentation is everything… and you look like a student who played a game of getting dressed in the dark. It’s unacceptable, and I’m shocked Sookie hasn’t demanded you change.”

Ugh. This chick.

“Well, she hasn’t, not yet at least, and until SHE does, that’s when I’ll consider it.”

“Consider it? Oh, that’s rich. Are you forgetting you’re just her assistant, Eric?”

So she knew my name, that was something, if she was going to continue to berate me like I was a six year old, I at least took comfort in her knowing who she was berating.

“I know that, and so far she seems okay with how I’ve been doing. It’s my second day, Miss Ravenscroft, and respectfully, I’m sure she has more to worry about right now than how her assistant is dressing and maybe you should place your worries else where too.” I said, before I walked out of the open elevator. Sure I probably just got myself fired by giving lip to my bosses friend and very well respected co-worker. But I hated being treated like a child, particularly when I had one to worry about at home.

Four trips to wardrobe for Hermes belts, one particular pink clutch (in a fucking SEA of pink clutch looking bags might I add) and four pairs of shoes later, that all looked the same to me – but apparently had these invisible vast differences that I wasn’t creative enough to see… and I was done for day two.

I thanked Jesus and Buddha and whoever was listening, I was dead on my feet yet again. It had to get easier though, right?

SPOV:

“He has balls, I’ll give him that.””Who?” I asked Pam over Sushi that night at our favourite restaurant downtown.

“Assistant boy, he squared up to me today, in the elevator. Most of those little bitches were terrified of me, but he answered back. Maybe he’s not a total puppy after all.”

“You’ve been spending too much time with Lafayette,” I pointed out, “and what were you two talking about?”

“How dishevelled he looked. I mean his first day, okay that’s a pass for someone who hasn’t the first clue about what we do, but by day two? Please. There is no excuse.”

“At least his black…matched?”

“I thought for sure you’d have read him the tidy riot act by now…”I shrugged, “fashion is about expression… and maybe these are his …unkempt expressions?” I laughed, “God, I don’t know, I have so many other things on my mind this week alone Pam, how Eric is dressing isn’t really one of them. Maybe when I have time to breathe during the day, then I’ll address it. So far he hasn’t shown up in shorts and sandals so I’ll let it slide… Too busy to care.”

I smiled at her and bit into my tuna roll.

“Hmph.”

“What?”

“That’s what he said,” She glared at me, “maybe he knows you better than he’s letting on.”

“Oh, please, Pam he hadn’t the first clue who I was when he walked that door…”

“Maybe he’s a plant. A spy from the rival magazines… maybe…”

“Pam, be serious.”

“I am! This shit happened at Vogue, Sookie, VOGUE, for one of their biggest issues and they were scooped! It could happen anywhere. Rival companies, sending in a newbie to spy, get the ideas, get the new products, get the new marketing attacks before they’re released… bring them back then fuck other companies over before they get the chance, leaving them with nothing.”

I dropped my chop sticks. I was paranoid lately since we had so much going on, but she couldn’t be on to something could she? I mean what guy agrees to this job, correction, what straight guy agrees. And, I was pretty sure Eric was straight, I’d seen him eyeing my breasts on more than one occasion and it had nothing to do with his height or what was in his eye line when he looked down.

“He’s clueless.” I dismissed.

“He’s either clueless and real, or he’s a very good actor and he’s a spy. I think you need to dig a little deeper in to him, for your own sake.”

I thought about it, and by next morning I’d worked myself into a frenzy of paranoia. I hated Pam for planting it in my head.

“ERIC?” I yelled from my office and he was behind me in a second.

“Yes?”

“I need you to go over to Gucci and pick up the order we placed yesterday,” I said, looking at him finally.

“They said they’d deliver at eleven…”

“Well, I need them here now…”

“Okay…” He scribbled in his notebook…

“And where is your Ipad?”

“Oh…” He looked out the door, “um, I dropped it…sort of.”

“And?””It…sort of broke.”I rolled my eyes, “send it out to be fixed then, you’ll need it, we have four meetings tomorrow. I also need you to get me Marshall on the phone, then call back the rep from Sears about the new collection and finish off those emails to NetaPorter…then I need you to go over to that place … and tell Tara we need those dresses by four. Got it?”

By the time he stopped scribbling his face was pure white and his eyes wide.

“I… I think so.”

“Good. Go.”

I dismissed him and then for the rest of the week, really for the rest of the month I continued to go hard on him. He screwed up of course. He was meant to in many ways, this was his testing period, and I had toyed with the idea of going easy on him – he was man after all – he was hapless and uncoordinated, but then the idea that he was out to fuck me over got planted in my head, and that was that. The ice-bitch cometh, and she cometh hard. I worked him hard, just as hard as I had the others, but the only difference was, he followed though. Sure, he picked the wrong skirts, and spilled a lot of coffee, got lunch orders wrong and tripped over the phone wires more than once, but he was still there when the others would have long thrown in the towel. He either really wanted to keep this job, that or he had another reason for working so damn hard. By the end of his first month, on pay day too, I called him into my office at the end of yet another hectic day.

He sat opposite me, looking twitchy and nervous.

“Why are you so nervous?” I commented, and he blushed.

I refused to acknowledge how …adorable it was.

“I um, well, it’s the coffee, I’ve been drinking a lot of it lately at work and then I’m not really sleeping because of it, and then the shakes happen when I don’t take it now…It’s not nerves. I’m used to your temper by now.”

That earned him a look, he just smiled.

“I do not have a temper…” I mumbled, “I’m merely… particular.”

“If that’s what you want to call it, Miss Stackhouse.”

I hated that term, I liked my first name as my first name. Had he earned the right to call me Sookie yet though? When had the other girls earned it? I didn’t usually get close to my employees, for obvious reasons, and it was easy enough because of the fear, but this one was different on every level. It puzzled me.

“The reason I called you in here, Eric, was more or less to get a review of your first month…”A month and he was still dressing…like that.

“Okay, sure… do I have to fill something out?”

“No.” I said, sitting down, “I just wanted to let you know that… it’s been interesting, and you haven’t been a …total disappointment. Just that I stand by my decision to hire you, that’s all.”

He nodded, trying to suppress a smile, that’s when I noticed the spilled soup down his sweater. Jesus maybe there wasn’t hope…

But then he let the smile go wide, and there it was again, that feeling of liking it. I liked when he smiled. He got the occasion so rarely during the day, I realized. And before I knew it was doing something so VERY off the reservation for me. I was gifting him something.

“Look I never do this, but since my brother is on his… extended vacation -” his whole fucking life was a vacation, I thought, “we got sent these tickets, it’s for any show you want on Broadway, VIP. I don’t have time to go this weekend, and … they’re there. You could take them, take your girlfriend or something.”

Was I fishing for information? Like a ninth grader? What was I DOING?

I was cringing inwardly as I realized how I was acting. I was… being nice to him.

“Wow, that’s really nice of you, Miss Stackhouse.”

I rolled my eyes, “Sookie…”I said and his eyes widened.

“Really?”

“Yes… why do you sound so shocked?”

“Nothing it’s just something someone said…”

“What did they say?”He bit his lip, pushed his black thick rimmed glasses up his nose and smiled with a slight blush, “just that most of the others didn’t make it long enough to get on a first name basis with the boss…I guess I am doing something right.”

I didn’t smile, I wanted to though. I didn’t say anything else, he just nodded in thanks as he took the tickets, and walked out of the office.

I sighed as I looked at the clock, it was almost six. Tina would be dying to be fed, I thought, as I realized I had a free weekend with no desire to do anything.

Again.

Glamorous or what?

EPOV:

I got to the rapidly emptying lobby before I whipped out my phone to call Emily, it was sweet news and I knew she’d be excited. God knows she needed some major cheering up since I’d been almost neglecting her for the past month.

“Hey Em, guess who’s going to Lion King this weekend?”All I heard was squealing on the other end.

“VIP too,” I added, hoping she’d hear me.

“You’re kidding me! How did you get those! Your new job doesn’t pay THAT good.”

“My boss gave them to me, since I’m so awesome. Look, baby, I’ll be home soon okay, you have a good day?”

“It was good we went to the park and had hotdogs and fruit.”

She was the only kid I knew that liked fruit, well, aside from Taylor, she was the only kid I knew full stop.

“Cool, well what do you want for dinner? I can pick us up something on the way home…”

I looked out at the darkening skies, the rain was pouring now. There was no way I was getting to the subway dry. Great.

“Can we get Italian?”

I agreed and she sounded off her order, and I realized just how badly we were both eating. Next on my list, cooking lessons.

“Okay Sweetheart, I’ll be there as soon as I can okay? I’ll call in the order when I’m close enough.”

“Okay, love you.”

“Love you too.” I said hanging up and turning around to see Sookie standing there.

Oh.

“Hi.” I said, unsure of what else to say.

“Hi…I’m waiting on Hoyt,” she nodded towards the was the town car driver, and in this rain he was obviously late, which meant he was obviously making her pissed.

“The weather is hell, which means of course -”

“The traffic is hell, I’m not that unreasonable, Eric.”

I was shocked, it was twice now she’d …defended herself to me. She’d never thought to do that before.

I saw the black car pull up outside the steps, and she nodded.

“Well, you and your girlfriend, have a good weekend. Remember we have that meeting with -”

“Bloomingdales, at nine on Monday, I’ll be there with the coffee,” I nodded in return.

She stopped and looked back, almost as if she wanted to say something, but then she didn’t. She just left.

What the hell was that about?

By the time I got home, got both myself and Emily fed I was once again, wiped.

“And we can get snacks, right? And merchandise?”

What did she know from merchandise? I wondered.

I just nodded as we watched The Lion King, movie on DVD because Emily was too excited to watch, or talk about anything else apparently.

“And we can maybe go to the park after? And maybe we can go for ice-cream at that place we went to one time? And -”

“Kid… slow down.” I said making her giggle and climb into my lap.

“I’m excited okay?”

“I know, me too, but can we just slow the roll for a second? I’m tired.”

“You’re always tired now days, Eric…” She pouted crawling back to her spot on our couch.

“I know Ems, but it’s just how it is. I work really hard all day, and my boss…”

“She can’t be all bad…” Emily observed, “I mean she gave you free Lion King tickets VIP and VIP means Very important person! She thinks you’re a very important person, so maybe she’s not a meanie!”

“I never said she was mean…”

“You said she was a tough bit-”

“Language!”

“Well! YOU SAID IT, to Uncle Sammy, I heard you.”

Of course she heard me, you heard everything in this apartment, it was one of the main reasons why my love life… didn’t exist. On the few occasion I did go out on the town, it was really hard to explain to a potential lover, that oh, we’re going to have a VERY silent quickie on my couch, and you can’t stay over, and I can’t cook you breakfast because my kid sister will be awake and she’s traumatised enough. Thanks.

No, women didn’t really go for that.

“She’s a good lady, she’s just a hard working boss, so she’s stressed a lot. So, that makes her not so nice all the time, that’s all.”

“Like teacher when we don’t listen at pre-school?” She mused.

“Exactly like teacher.”She nodded.

“Okay. But still you should say thank you. You should get her flowers, all girls like flowers.”

“How do you know all girls like flowers?”

“Because… I am a girl, duh?”

Duh? You’re five!”

She just shrugged.

I was so screwed.


A/N: *Pokes you* So, what do you think so far? This chapter came out fast last night, hope you enjoyed. Baby steps progress! Sookie might meet Emily next chapter, we’ll see what happens 🙂 xox


Chapter 4: Chapter 4


SPOV:

I looked out the window, momentarily ignoring my friend. I loved people watching, creepy as it sounds, when out and about I just loved to take a few minutes and wonder what all those people – so in a rush to get somewhere else, were thinking, what they were feeling, and just where oh where were they going? Maybe it was because I was standing still, or maybe it was because I was spinning so fast I didn’t even notice the moment anymore.

“I told you I’m ignoring it, Pam.”

“Sookie it’s your thirtieth birthday, you have to mark it somehow!”

“Well, In my head I am thirty, so why bother?”

Hell, some days I felt fifty.

“Yeah I know you’ve been saying you’re thirty since you turned twenty nine for heaven sakes, don’t get me started on how ridiculous that is!”

“It’s not ridiculous it just is what it is. I’m old, let’s move on,” I smiled stuffing my face with my salad. We’d met for brunch on Sunday, as we always did at Pam’s favourite upper west eatery.

“Number one, no you’re not, and number two, why would you deprive me a reason to throw a party? We could have it at your place even! Think of the view, think of the envy of your friends, think of the drinks sponsorships we could get for it if we invite the ma-”

“No.”

Please?”

“Pam, it’s six months away, come on now, be serious.”

“I am serious, you know I never joke about parties. I just think it’s something to consider, it’s coinciding with the launch of a new issue too, you could be the cover girl on your own magazine.”

“I’m not Oprah.”

“No, you’re hotter, and girls envy you, that shit sells, believe me. Please just promise me you’ll think about it?”

I sighed, I knew she wasn’t going to let it go, so I gave in.

“I’ll think about it. Think, not do anything about it. Okay?”

I hated my birthdays, they were always a disappointment, and frankly after twenty-one who wants to be reminded in massive detail that they’re getting older, and are, of course, still alone.

No, thanks.

“So, sussed Northman out yet?” She asked.

“He seems fine, I mean I did a quick background check on him, and nothing out of the ordinary came up, he went to University for what he told me he did, all numbers and math-gasms. Really, there isn’t a hint that he could possibly be from another firm, and besides… Lafayette likes him, so I trust his judgement. All I ask of him now is that he does the job I’m paying him to do, and so far… there haven’t been that many fuck ups,” I shrugged.

“Are you getting soft in your old age?”

I glared.

“No, like I said before I just have more to worry about right now that my assistant and his random life. I’m sure he lives in some untidy, hipster apartment with his hemp eating girlfriend, who is allergic to an iron and possibly a washing machine, and good for him.”

I looked up and Pam was looking me, open mouthed.

“What?” I asked.

“I can’t believe I’m even going to think this never mind say it, but, Sookie, do you… have a crush on your assistant?”

“What? No! Jesus, Pam, just because I’m not ranting about how much he sucks at his job, doesn’t mean I want to jump him. He’s just not my type at all.”

“Really?”

Yes, really, now can we stop being ridiculous? Please? I barely know him, and he definitely doesn’t know me, and that’s how its going to stay, he’s an employee, not a crush.”

She held her hands up in defence, but I hated the smug look on her face joining it.

Ugh.

“You know the meeting with your Grandmother is coming in next month…”

As if I needed reminding, I’d been freaking out about it for weeks.

“Yes, I know, I’m dreading it.”

“Gran loves you, you have nothing to worry about.”

“I have no doubt she loves me, it’s just…”

“You don’t get why she picked Jason as President over you? And you worry she’ll make him CEO when she steps down?”

I sighed.

“Something like that.”

“No one else understands it either, I mean you do all the work, you do all the worrying and all the sleepless nights and flights to Europe, pressing the flesh, and what does he do? Fucks off to God knows where with his hillbilly wife, and leaves you to it, and he still gets all the fucking credit.”

“I love you…” I smiled.

“Hey, you need me. I say what you can’t say, and that’s saying something because honey you ain’t no wallflower,” she smiled.

“I know, I just… she wants to see everything from the last year, all my work Pam, all the changes, and all the future plans. I really just feel like throwing in the towel. Because I know she’s just going to judge it all to shit.”

She nodded, “you can’t though, you’re made for this, and this is made for you. She’d be insane to pass you over for this promotion Sookie, she really would, you’re an amazing hard ass, and that’s what her business needs. Jesus you took her name, and her bank account GLOBAL, if I were her I’d be kissing your freshly manicured feet.”

I wasn’t so sure though. Yes I busted my ass for the business, and yes my personal life suffered because of it, but, I still didn’t fully understand why she’d passed me over. I was the OBVIOUS choice, and yet she choose Jason, with me playing second fiddle. Yes it bothered me, and yes I tried to feel like it didn’t but in reality, I was somewhat heartbroken that for whatever her reason, I wasn’t good enough in my Grandmother’s eyes to run her business – at least in official name. Was I just her assistant, like Eric was mine? Was I just tiding it over for her to hand to Jason and Crystal completely? The board of members, as small as they were, they existed and they respected me, they answered to me, not to Jason. I feared what might happen if this meeting went badly and Jason was named CEO.

“Where are the January files? Jesus, Eric can’t you just go get them instead of looking at me like I just slapped you. Am I dealing with a man, or a freakin’ toddler.”

“I’m sorry but the other files weren’t where you said they’d be, there was February to August so I brought those…”

I sighed. Great. It was in storage.

“You seem…extra stressed,” he commented, and I just glared.

“Really, Eric? Really? What gave it away?”

He just smiled, “oh you know, the hasher than normal tone, the frizzled pacing, the fact that your hem of your slip is showing…”

I looked down and sure enough the silk underskirt for under my skirt was showing. I straightened myself out and went behind my desk again.

“Stop looking at me, and go get those files. Don’t come back here until you find them,” I said, harshly.

He just nodded.

“Yes, Miss Stackhouse,” in a tone that was nothing if not mocking.

Why didn’t I fire him again?

EPOV:

It was obvious to anyone with a good set of working eyes, and ears that Sookie was stressed to the point of insanity. For one, her normally impeccable office was in a mess, there were files, folders, and random books laying around where normally there was just pristine white surfaces and shining sophistication. Then there was Sookie herself, gone was the ice-bitch and in her place was a frazzled, pacing, and wrinkled (of all things!) woman on the brink. It was fascinating, since all I knew was her Grandmother was coming at some point to ‘check in’, and apparently this checking in made Sookie sick with worry, not that she’d ever actually admit it, but she didn’t have to, since it was written all over her face.

I was in the storage area slash library for about twenty minutes when my cell rang.

Emily.

I checked the time and it was just after three, so she should have been fine with Amelia.

“What’s up, hon?” I asked.

“I hurted my arm,” was all she said, with a slight sniffle.

“How hurt? What happened are you okay?”

With that Amelia came on the line, “Eric?”

“Yeah it’s me.”

“Hi, listen don’t worry about it, she had a fall off the swings, she was more shocked than she was hurt, but she’s fine now. Nothing a ‘Hello Kitty’ bandage couldn’t fix.”

I breathed a sigh of realief.

“Thank God. I’m sorry Ames.”

“Seriously, don’t worry about it, Eric I swear she’s fine she just wanted to call and tell you, so I’ll pass the phone back to her now, okay?”

“Okay, thanks again.”

“Welcome,” she said and I heard Emily again.

“It hurt though, Eric.”

“I know it did, but were you a brave girl?”

“I only cried a little bit.”

“Well! See! That’s my brave girl. Such a good sister,” I said and I heard her giggle. I looked through the doors and no one else was down here, at least that was one good thing about storage in the basement, hardly anyone ever went down there.

“What are you laughing at?”

“You,” I heard her smile and it made me smile too.

“How about when I get home we just veg out and watch some cartoons? We can go to the movies tomorrow, too if you’d like.”

“I’d like. Can Taylor come too?”

“Sure. Why not. I got to go now sweetie, but I’ll see you tonight though…Okay?”

“Sure! I’ll be good for Amelia okay so don’t say it.”

I laughed, she knew me well.

“Okay, cool. I love you.”

“Love you, too.”

Just at that I turned around and saw Sookie standing there, in the doorway, looking pissed off… well… more pissed than usual.

“Northman, believe it or not, I don’t pay you to stand down here making personal calls, you’re here to work for me, I’d appreciate it, if you did that.”

Fuming, that’s what she was.

“I’m sorry, it was an emergency I -”

“I really don’t care to hear about how needy people needed your reassurance during working hours, I’m sure your…whatever she was, is just fine without you until five. Can I have the files?” She snapped.

I handed her over the files. And she snapped them too, out of my hands, before she turned on her red soled high heels and walked to the elevators.

Well, fuck.

After that I was beginning to note that when Sookie was pissed she was best left alone, otherwise it was hell to pay. So, I made excuses and decided to hang out with Lafayette in the wardrobe department for a while, under the assumption that I was copying files and organizing vintage fabric samples. What I was doing was drinking coffee and bitching, while we half heartedly did those things.

“And little sister is okay?”

“Yeah she’s fine, thank God, but I guess Sookie got the ass end of the conversation and realized it wasn’t business related and got pissed off at me, again,” I rolled my eyes, it really was far too easy to wind her up. And, after six weeks I’d thought I’d got a handle on her moods, and what not to do as opposed to what TO do. But, every time I thought I had it down, she switched up the game on me again.

“I mean I know she’s under stress but you know what she needs to …”

“Get under someone, that’s what,” Lafayette interjected with a grin.

“She’s not dating?”

“Boy please, you’ve seen her schedule, does it sound like she has time to fuck? No, girl hasn’t been laid right in a looong time. It’s sad too because she’s hot. I mean, she’s really not my type,” he jerked his brows, “but you know I still appreciate beauty and those breasts and those lips and all up in between and down below… well, it’s all good. And there have been men, but none that last, none that can keep up with her – so I’m told, now take that how you like…” he smiled, but it quickly dissipated, “But, she loves her work more than the laying, so we get up tight Sookie… like I said, it’s sad.”

I nodded, I mean I might have been celibate against my wishes – circumstances were sort of an issue, but I guess hers were too. Not that she’d have to silently fuck on her sofa, but, still. She was hot, if I didn’t imagine her yelling at me, she’d make the most excellent cameos in sex dreams. But, as it stood there were mostly nightmares’ about getting her coffee wrong.

“I’ve tried man, I really have. I do shit on time, before it’s due even, all calls are returned, all messages are passed on, samples are received, press releases are sent, appointments are made. I’m doing my job, and I’m doing it well, and yet…”

“Still can’t crack her, huh?”

“No, I mean I don’t want to crack her, I’d just like the ice to melt… a little, and sometimes I think it has, but then like today it’s like she flips a goddamn switch and it’s right back to day one.”

I sighed, finishing off my coffee and dragging my feet off the table. In the weeks I’d been there, Lafayette was really the only friendly member of staff, everyone else seemed to avoid me. I didn’t know why, and I wasn’t sure my ego could really take it. But, I asked him anyway.

“Dude, at the risk of sounding like my little sister… um, why doesn’t anyone else here talk to me?”

With that he burst out laughing loud and clear.

“Oh, sweetheart, you still don’t have a clue, do you?”

“What?”

“Well look at you, baby, and look at say… Paul from down the hall, or Marie, or Sophie, or me…for example.”

“You’re all people, same as me.” I defended and he nodded.

“Yes we is. But, we’re also much better dressed than you, and in case you hadn’t noticed sweetheart, appearance is everything in this business. It matters, it’s not what’s in the inside that counts, forget everything your Mamma taught you. To be accepted in this place, is to conform, but conform while pretending it’s new and fresh and creative. You see? Take the magazine for example. Every damn Spring it’s all about florals, and banishing the winter blues, and springing into summer, losing that winter weight, makeover, the new you, better smaller, stronger, hotter. It’s always about improvement.”

“And I don’t improve?”

“No, Eric… you don’t care.”

“I…”

“You don’t give a shit. You’re here to do a job so you can live your life, the others are here because their job is their life. Like Sookie.”

“That’s not right, that’s not how I want to be just so they’ll talk to me.”

He nodded.

“Hey I get it, believe me. I love my job, but I love my boyfriend more, and I love my dogs, and my Mexican food, I feel art in everything and to be artistic – truly like these idiots all believe they are – we have to embrace life. But how can they do that eating a salad and living on nothing but water and caffeine? No, I like to be outside in the sunshine, with one that I love, preferably with a donut in hand,” he laughed.

“And they don’t?”

“Oh they do, they just choose to prioritize work as number one, for me work is one point one. It’s there but it won’t own me.”

“So what does that mean for getting Sookie to …” not so much like me, but respect me. That’s what I craved more than her approval.

“For you work is on a ten when for her to give a fuck about you? You have to give a fuck about her life’s work, you hear me?”

“So… I try?”

“You try, maybe buy an iron… and a grown up pair of shoes…for starters.”

He waved dramatically, before he left the room, swatches in hand.

I stood in front of the full length mirror and took in my appearance. I was me, I dressed how I’d always dressed. I saw nothing wrong with it. My black matched! That in itself was a miracle. And who didn’t love Vans? They were comfortable! I guess I did need a hair cut… it had gotten a little scruffy and long, and I could shave a little closer I guess.

I shrugged. I’d worry about that later, I had work to do. I grabbed my samples and got back to my desk.

SPOV:

I needed to calm down, I knew that. I was losing it. We had an issue going to press, we had meetings booked all week, and I had to get the company organized into little piles of information for my Gran to dissect. Ugh. I just wanted to sleep, for a hundred years, that’s how worn down it was making me. I needed a boost of some kind, I needed a distraction.

Maybe Pam was right, maybe I needed to just get laid?

I knew a lot guys, a lot of models, none of them with very firm morals, but extra firm six packs. It could have been something that I could have organized really easily, and yet for a long time I hadn’t. I resisted the urge to … quell the urge. And why? Stupid romantic notions of love, that’s why. I’d done the fuck buddy thing with Quinn, and it had worked out just fine. Before him there were only a small handful of meaningless sexual encounters, and two other serious relationships. Both ending in disaster when they realized I wasn’t going to change, when I wasn’t going to give up my work so I could massage their fragile egos, unable to stand a woman earning more, being more, and not apologizing for it either. Weak, that’s what they were. And I hated weak. I hated it in others and more importantly I loathed it in myself. And I sort of viewed love as weak. The emotional overload of depending on another person for emotional validation… it scared the shit out of me, to be honest. So I pushed people away, easily, my job was an amazing weapon for that, and I just think that part of my worry about not impressing Gran, not getting what I worked so hard for… was that, at the end of the day, I’d be left with nothing.

Because really, without my job, I had nothing.

No one.

And that was what I was worried about losing, my place. I had my place I knew it, I loved it and I worked it, but without it? What became of me?

I shuddered to myself and side eyed Eric.

Poor Eric.

He was in my line of fire and sadly for him that meant he got the brunt of my bitching. It wasn’t his or anyone else’s fault, really, I just needed an outlet for my pent up… well, pent up everything.

He was tall, that much was obvious, and I guess in the right lighting he could have pulled off the geek chic, complicated vibe from the models of the nineties, but as it stood he was just annoying me. So I ignored his tallness and got the steps to reach up three feet to grab a book on one of my higher shelves.

A little unsteady on my feet, my new Loubies were six and a half inches after all. The steps creaked and I ignored the wobble, and I reached, and I reached again. Silently cursing being short, and in giant heels as I did so, because before I knew it, the damn steps crumbled underneath me, leaving me clinging on to the large bookshelves.

“Ahh!” I screamed and the next thing I felt were hands… hands… on my ass.

“Hang on! Jesus!” He said.

“Get your hands off my ass!” I demanded and he complied right away, leaving me hanging again.

“OKAYFINEHANDSONASSHANDSONASS!” I was panicking, it was good eight foot drop if he let go, it was a sprained ankle at least.

Fuck.

“Grab the steps over again!” I said and he grunted.

“I can’t if I let you go you fall, look just let go, let me catch you. You’re not a heavy woman I promise, so I won’t drop you.”

Still I clung, chipping my new manicure in the process.

Double fuck.

“Sookie, please, let go.”

I didn’t want to look at him, not wanting to admit that I was giving in.

“I’ll fall.”

“You won’t, I’ve got you, I promise.”

I exhaled, I really couldn’t hold my grip much longer, so I gave in, let go and landed in his arms.

“You’re stronger than you look,” I said as he walked us past my desk to the middle of the floor, me still very much bridal style, in his arms.

“You can put me down now…” I said, softer than before, I didn’t know why, it just wasn’t a moment for shouting.

He let me down extremely gently, almost as if he was scared to break me.

“You’re a lot lighter than you look,” he smirked.

“You calling me fat?”

“Never!”

He grinned. Sometimes I didn’t get him, he was a bumbling, unsteady, wrinkled fool one minute, and the next it was as if a switch flipped and he became this confident, cocky, flirt. It was all in his eyes. It freaked me out a little. I didn’t want to notice it, and I certainly didn’t want to like it.

“Just because I’m not a zero doesn’t mean I’m fat,” I countered.

“I know, I was kidding Sookie, bad joke to break the ice… or diffuse the awkward…” he said looking at his feet and stuffing his hands in his pockets uneasily, “considering I had my hands on your butt a few seconds ago…”

With that of course Pam walked in, stopping dead in her tracks and raising a brow at me.

So!” She said with far too much glee in her voice for my liking, “what’s going on in here today?”

“Nothing,” Eric and I said in unison, causing us to look at each other strangely.

“Run along, Eric, Sookie and I have to talk,” she said, earning her a dirty look from Eric, and if I was honest, from me too.

When he’d left, I closed the door and put the shields up over the office.

“Pam, just for the record I’m the boss, and I’m the one that gets to verbally abuse the staff, not you.”

She looked somewhat taken aback, but sat down anyway.

“Jesus, it was a joke, he’s a big boy I’m sure he can handle it.”

I just sighed, I really wasn’t in the mood for her today.

“What did you want?”

Her eyes went wide, “well, someone got out of the wrong end of the bitch bed today… I wanted to discuss the interview we have coming up for the cover. Kerr’s people called it’s a go for next week, I’ll need help on it though since Zola and Andrea are out ‘sick’,” she air quoted.

“Fine take Bella and Celine… they should be free on Wednesday, the styling for the new campaign wraps then.”

Pam nodded jotting it down.

“Pull the looks from Lanvin for Kerr, and some Gucci too,” I said, since it was a set up for our accessories line, I didn’t want to over crowd it.

“Done.”

“Anything else?” I asked.

“Why was Eric’s hands on your ass?”

I fought my blush, but I answered anyway, the last thing I needed was any unnecessary rumours.

“I thought I could reach the files,” I nodded to the top shelves, almost hitting the damn roof, “but, I over estimated and I almost fell… Eric caught me, that’s all. Nothing so exciting like I know is going on in your head right now.”

“Hey, I never said anything.”

“You didn’t have to, the look said it all.”

“Uh huh.”

Mountains of paper work later, I finally took a break to eat. Slipping off my shoes and putting my feet up, I turned to my floor to ceiling windows to enjoy my view of New York. Looking out at it’s vastness, the busy hustle below, it make me exhale loudly and just attempt to calm myself down. Food helped. Food always helped. I understood why the girls in the office, and in the industry were so afraid of it. With great power, came great responsibility an all that, and food had great power – if you let it take you over. And those girls did, their fear of being ‘fat’ drove them to a salad and water for a day, living on cigarettes and gum, caffeine and fresh air. It freaked me out to watch them disintegrate before my eyes like they did sometimes, but there was nothing I could say, I couldn’t order them to eat, but I did encourage healthy living. Eating proper meals, having treat days, and working out. Though I ran around so much for work, running wasn’t something I had to do, but I did anyway, working out cleared my head, it gave me focus when things would get fucked up, I didn’t freakin’ starve myself in the hopes that that would solve all my problems.

Speaking of starving, Sophie walked into my office, with her usual swagger on her too-high-heels.

“Miss Stackhouse these came for you while Eric was at lunch,” she said, rolling her eyes at his name.

“Good. Can you get me Alan on the phone please?”

“Eric is back now…”

“I asked you,” I glared and she stepped back.

“Of course, Miss Stackhouse.”

Yeah Sophie really wasn’t in the first name club, she wasn’t in any club, she only got the job because Jason had fucked her and decided she was cool to have around. Of course that was before he met the ‘love’ of his ‘life’ in Crystal, and yet I was still stuck with her ass because she’d never given me a reason to actually fire her. I watched her exit as Eric entered and she just looked at him with pure distain.

“What’s her problem?” I asked him, and he just sighed before he sat down.

“All the women here seem so angry…”

I just raised a brow.

“Well you’re okay, your anger…I’m used to and I know why you are, you’re stressed, but those women? I don’t get it? Sophie sits and gives herself a damn manicure all day, the Lisa girl just plays on her iPad and it’s so not work because she’s laughing and once I saw her watching TV on it… and the rest of them, I don’t know what it is but it’s like I’m something they stepped in, and I’ve been nothing but nice. Maybe I should feed them?”

He mused, and I laughed, because really that’s probably all it was. They were so hungry they were angry. They were h-angry.

“Maybe. But you know, not everyone is going to be nice, even if you’re nice to them, some people…”

“Are just bitches?”

“Sometimes, but you know what they say…”

“No, what do they say…?”

“Bitches get stuff done,” I smiled.

“Wait, isn’t bitch…the new black?” He said and I smiled again, he got it.

“Tina Fey fan?”

“Eh I do love her and Amy together…” He said.

“What do you know, we do have something in common after all.”


Chapter 5: Chapter 5


EPOV:

“No more ice-cream, ever,” I said flopping down on the couch beside her.

Ice-cream and Wii, a bad combination of gross feelings.

“Ugh,” she said cuddling in beside me, “no more.”

It was just after six, we still needed to food shop. Thankfully the store opened late on a Thursday.

“We can’t just lay here, Em.”

“Sure we can. See? Laying down is good,” she wrapped my arms around her hugging her as we laid on the couch watching the middle of a non-Disney experience for once.

“We need to go get food…”

“We have food,” she whined.”I thought you wanted fruit smoothies for breakfast now? Well, we need fresh fruit for that…come on.”

She groaned when I got off the couch, yanking her with me.

“Shoes,” I ordered as she stomped into her room. I found my own shoes, and fixed my hair in the mirror as best I could, not that it really mattered since I was just yanking a beanie over it anyway, but still, I gave myself points for effort.

Emily walked out in her pink shoes, and her pink Hello Kitty bag she’d just insisted on getting for her birthday the year before, to her credit she still loved it.

“Ready!”

She was too big now to go in the seat cart, she was too tall for one thing – in that way she was definitely taking after me and our day, our mom was a little on the short side, but she always said it balanced out the possible gigantism her kids might inherit, we always laughed about it. Emily was happy to help with the shopping though, extreme amounts of fruit were bought, the salary I was on now meant that we could actually fresh food shop a lot better than before, my fruit and health nut of sibling was more than happy with that improvement. The thing about having a kid, even if she wasn’t my ‘kid’ she was my sister, most people didn’t know that at first glance. I inherited her, if you will, when I was twenty eight, a guy in his mid, to late twenties, I had no idea what was happening to me, but she was there, and I knew I had to take care of her no matter what. She wasn’t going to end up in any other home but mine. So I did what I had to, to make sure she knew she was safe and loved, even if it was just the two of us. It included abandoning my career path, I wanted to study math more, I wanted to create, I wanted to teach ultimately. But more study equalled more money, and my programmes were full time as it was, that wasn’t’ good for taking care of a then three year old kid, so I quit and took whatever jobs I could find. Including being Sookie Stackhouses’ bitchboy. Only this bitch got paid well, and it meant better things for her, and even for me, if I was being honest.

“Prunes? Do I live with a ninety two year old? Emily, we don’t need prunes.”

She sighed and went to put them back as I stocked up on much needed cereal, half the cart was fruit of some description, the other half was meat. Meat that I was planning on actually cooking, with actual vegetables too, and stock cube things… which I was exactly sure what they were for, but I could Google that later.

“Orange juice…” I pointed and she got it, “what else, Em?”

She stood on her tiptoes to look into the cart.

“Candy?”

“I thought you were all about the healthy?”

“Sugar is… like… necessary.”

“Is that right?”

“Yep,” she nodded confidently, as if she knew all. It was so adorable, she looked like Mom when she did things like that.

“Okay, we’ll get a few things, but we can’t eat them tonight.”

She nodded again.

After another selection of juice for her, and some beers for me, we made our way home. I had three messages from Sookie on my home phone.

“Shit I forgot the cell!” I said running into the bathroom where I’d left it by the sink. Yep, four messages. Meetings moved up, why wasn’t I answering my phone, was I dead? All along those lines. A designer had moved up their meeting the next morning, coming into the offices at nine instead of twelve, and because he was a huge name, she accommodated. Which meant I had to accommodate.

“Bed early tonight, Em.”

She groaned from the kitchen, “I don’t even have school tomorrow!”

“Yes but I have work…” as I scrolled through the messages, it seems I had a lot of work. Awesome.

I knew Ames and Trey agreed watch her for me, which I was eternally grateful, and paid her in big ass sample bottles of new designer perfume, and some kind of fancy handbags that Lafayette told me to take to my ‘lady friend’, and since I lacked the feminine sexy times friends, Ames was the only one I could think of. She was obsessed with free shit, and free designer shit pretty much equalled astronomical excitement. It was cute.

I knocked on their door, just as I was about to leave for work, with Emily ready and waiting with me. Only Trey answered the door.

“Hey, Eric, Hey Ems, slight problem guys.”

“Why what’s up?”

“Taylor was up all night, vomiting, and had a real high temperature, so Ames took her to the ER about ten minutes ago, I have to leave for work, we’re both excused and with Taylor being sick, I guess here really isn’t the right place for Emily right now… I’m really sorry man, Ames is freaking out but insisted on going to the doctor and they sent them to the hospital then…”

I nodded, I felt bad for the kid, but I was so completely fucked.

“I get it man, no worries, it’ll be fine, I’ll work something out. Give Ames and Tay my best, yeah?”

“Sure of course, sorry again Eric.”

I just shook my head there was nothing anyone could do about it. These things happened.

I rang everyone I knew, knowing full well that it would be pointless. Everyone was either working – where I should have been, or out. I was so beyond fucked.

“Okay Emily, here’s the deal, you get to come to work with me today.”

” I DO?”

“Yes, but we cannot let my boss see you, or my ass will be so fired, okay?”

“How are we going to do that?” I was rushing for the subway, she was struggling to keep up, her little legs not able, so, I yanked her up on my shoulders and we ploughed through.

“I don’t know yet, but we’ll do it, you just have to promise me that you’ll stay where I put you, and everything will be fine.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, she’ll see me!”

“She won’t, we just… have to be stealth.”

“What does stealth mean?”

“It uh, it means like unseen and under the radar, we just have to keep you, under Sookie’s radar.”

She sighed.

“Such a bad idea.”

“No, it’s not, it’s genius, it’s either this or I leave you home alone all day and neither of us wants that! So, we’ll just deal with it.”

And deal with it we did, I managed to get into the building, and up the elevator with her without running into anyone, even Sophie wasn’t at her desk, so that was another plus. I checked and Sookie had her back to the door, looking out her window while she talked on the phone. The universe loved me. I got her to the photo room, I knew we’d not be needed in there today so that was the main thing, it was perfect until lunch.

“Okay you can hang out in here while I got set up, and run some errands around the place, you have the snacks and the juice boxes?”

She nodded.

“And the DS?”

“Yep.”

“Cool, stay here and please don’t move… I’ll come check on you in a few minutes, okay?”

“Okay.”

I kissed her on the head and made my way to start my day.

I was exhausted already and I hadn’t even started.

By the time eleven o clock rolled around, I’d been all around the building running the errands that Sookie requested, and I’d been lucky enough to not have to travel out of the office that day, usually there was no set limit on where I’d be sent, thankfully everything seemed homeward bound that day.

“Eric?” She called.

“Yeah?” I walked into her office to see her debating with herself on two sketches.

“I need a mans opinion here, and Lafayette doesn’t really could since I need a straight man’s opinion.”

“Oh why a straight man?”

“If you were dating a woman, and really wanted to fuck her, which one of these two nighties would you like to be taking off?”

I raised my brows at her.

“What? Oh for heaven sakes, it’s for a lingerie shoot, and I want it to stand out.”

I looked at the two sketches.

“And is the model gonna look like this?”

“If we can get the one they have in mind, then, yes.”

“Hmm, I don’t know I mean it looks a little… flat. Lace on pecs just isn’t all that hot.”

“You’re saying her boobs aren’t big enough?”

I couldn’t help it, my eye line slipped to hers.

And she caught me.

Fuck.

“I… it… no I mean I’m sure she’ll be stunning and stuff, I just think that as a personal preference…”

“You like boobs, I get it.”

“Most straight guys do, we like it all, really, but this would, in my humble opinion look more… appealing at least to me, on a woman with more than a minus A cup.”

“They don’t make minus A.”

“They should, she looks like she’s minus. In fact she kind of looks like… me.”

She narrowed her brows at me.

“You’re visualizing me in that lingerie now aren’t you?” I said laughing and she just glared at me.

“I hate you, and you don’t look good… in my head right now, just so you know.”

“Aw really, damn that sucks because I love nothing more than trying on woman’s lingerie in my spare time.”

She looked appalled and it was hilarious.

“One of those is enough…”

“Lafayette?”

She burst out laughing, “he didn’t tell you? Or in fact show you? His collection of woman’s thongs he likes to wear on occasion? He says they’re freeing and very comfortable.”

It was then my turn to look mortified, “really?”

“No! Not really, God you’re so gullible, Eric!”

She smiled, she actually smiled a real smile. I liked her real smile, it was so much prettier than her ‘forced fake work’ smile. I surprised myself that I could tell the difference now.

I grabbed the samples for archiving off her desk and hightailed it to where Emily was. She was bored, beyond bored so I managed to sneak her up to my desk, thankfully hidden as it was against the wall. She decided to pretend she was camping, and the desk was her tent. That and her DS occupied for a hour, I was shocked.

“Okay, Em. I have to go down stairs and wait for the magazine mock up, so I might be a little while, but I’ll be back okay so I just need you to sit tight a little while longer and then hopefully we can escape for lunch, okay?”

“Sure. I’m on level ten, so I want to get to fourteen soon….”

I had no idea what game she was playing, but she seemed really into it, so I left with confidence she’d stay put. How wrong was I ?

SPOV

I looked up from my desk, and there she was, this little girl. She wasn’t a baby, but she wasn’t any more than six, she had short dirty blonde hair, lighter by her face than it was elsewhere, bright blue eyes and a very curious look on her face. One I assumed I matched because I had no idea who she was or what she was doing in my office.

“Hello?”

“Are you the Boss Lady?” She asked, still hanging onto the door frame, using it as a shield almost.

“I… yes. Who are you?”

“I’m Emily.”

“Hi, Emily… Um, sweetheart, what are you doing in here? Did you get lost?”

Had someone brought their kid to a meeting or something? I had no idea what was going on.

“No, not lost, I guess I just got bored and then I had to pee…”

“You want to come in?” I asked, standing up and trying my best to not scare this kid, since that’s what she was expecting.

She walked, carefully and slowly further into the room.

“You want to tell me how you got here, Emily?”

“The subway.”

Okay, that didn’t help at all.

“And who brought you?”

She looked towards the door, and then back me, guiltily.

“I… don’t want him to get in trouble. He said he’d get in trouble.”

“He won’t… I promise.”Was I promising? I couldn’t really lie to a kid, could I?

Just at that, Eric’s scared looking face came around the door.

“Emily, Jesus, you scared the crap out of me… I told you not to leave… Oh… God…” He looked from me to the kid.

“I’m really sorry about this Sookie, if she was annoying you I’m -”

“Can I talk to you, alone for a second?”

His eyes widened, but then he hunkered down to the kid…to Emily, and told her something, she left the room right away.

I looked at him, folding my arms, silently demanding an explanation.

“Sookie, it was an emergency, really, her babysitter … well her kid took real sick with some bug and they’re at the hospital and no one else was available at such short notice. Believe me, this was the last resort.”

“Eric, I’m not really interested in your excuses. This is a busy office building, it’s no place for a kid to be running around, really, last minute or not, you should have just told your girlfriend to take off work or something -”

“What?”

“Well, I assume she has a mother floating around somewhere, why not arrange it -”

“She doesn’t have a mother,” he said, hard, cutting me right off.

Oh.

“Oh, well I…”

“She doesn’t have a mother, or a father. Not any more.”

Wait, what?I just looked at him, he knew to continue, I hated vague.

“She’s not my kid, Sookie, she’s my kid sister.”

I was silently mortified.

“Oh.”

“Yeah. And I’m her guardian, we’re all the family that either of us has, so I make do. I’m really sorry about bringing her here, and if you want to fire me because of that, that’s fine.”

He was standing his ground, no where could I see the timid, dorky, Eric, now he was in full blown protective lion mode.

“But I don’t regret it. I don’t leave her with random strangers, I never have and I never will I -”

“Alright… Alright fine. I get it.”

He just nodded.

“Where has she been all morning?” I glanced at the clock, it was almost one thirty, almost lunch time.

“Uh…well…”

“Well?”

“Mostly she’s been playing her DS under my desk, and when she wasn’t there, we were in the photography office with Lafayette.”

He looked suitable ashamed.

“You kept a child, under your desk?”

“She was fine, she …”

“Okay, you know what that’s just wrong. Look, bring her in here. There’s a large enough table, we’re not using it today, she can stay in here and colour or something…”

He looked shocked, like really shocked.

“Um… oh… Really?”

I just unfolded my arms and went behind my desk.

“Needs must and I refuse to be brought up on child abuse charges by letting a little girl sit under a dusty desk for hours on end, this not the third world, Eric.”

“I really didn’t see this going like this… I have to tell you.”

“Yeah well, I didn’t expect a little girl to come peaking into my office today, but shit happens. Now go get her before she wanders off again.”

He nodded enthusiastically before he smiled, “thank you so much for this, really, it’s very cool of you, Sookie.”

I just rolled my eyes.

“Hurry up before I change my mind and fire your neglecting ass.”

He just smiled and came back a few minutes later with the kid, some paper and a lot of coloured pens.

“She’ll be good, and so quite you won’t even know she’s here…Right?” He said, looking down at her, my guess was he’d given her a warning or two before letting her come back in.

“I promise or we don’t have any candy for a whole week,” she nodded, and I fought my smile, he’d also threatened her.

“Okay, sit over here and if you need me come out and get me, and try not to bother Miss Stackhouse, okay?” he said to her, and she nodded, hopping up on the chair and pulling out her DS, her headphones and leaving the paper and pens for a second.

Eric thanked me again and I went about my business, I had four phone calls to make, two to designers we were working with on the small Couture for next season, and two for the accessories line I was developing. I noticed her noticing me, when I spoke Italian she got even more interested, but she’d look away when I’d look at her, it was a game of sorts for a little while, until I got off the phone.

“Miss Sookie?”

“Yes?”

“What was that you were saying before, I didn’t understand it.”

“It was in Italian, that’s why… It took me a long time to learn it too so don’t worry about not understand it, I sure didn’t when I was your age.”

“Oh… that’s from Italy, right? Where they have the pizza… the tower of pizza! And it leans!”

“Pisa, and yes, that’s where it’s from.”

“Wait, it’s not a tower of pizza?”

“Sadly, no.”

“Oh…” She seemed saddened, “Eric said it was a tower of pizza, I really wanted to see that one day.”

I laughed, I wonder what else he told her that wasn’t true.

“You’re really pretty…” she said putting down her colouring pens and giving me her full attention.

I smiled, “well thank you, you’re really pretty too you know?”

“No I’m not…” she looked down.

“Of course you are, all girl are pretty, even if they don’t think they are. And you, are gorgeous.”

I walked over to her, and took the seat next to her.

“You are. Your pretty blonde hair and big brown eyes, and you’ll be tall too, I can tell, we’ve got lots of girls here who model for us who are really, really tall. Almost as tall as Eric,” I whispered.

“That’s tall!”

I smiled, “sure is.”

“I wish my hair was long like yours…”

“You don’t want to grow it?

“”No, I do, I just… Eric doesn’t really know what to do with girls hair, not like Amelia does.

“”Who is -”

“My baby sitter, she’s also my best friends mom, she does Taylor’s hair all curly and sometimes up really high, and other times to the side. My hair is too short for that.”

She seemed sad by that realization, poor thing. Her hair was really short and obviously practical, cut just under her jaw in a little girl bob. It was so cute on her though, and very chic -whether she knew it or not.

“Well, maybe you could ask one of Eric’s friends to do it for you, maybe Amelia or maybe …his girlfriend.”

She looked at me with her nose scrunched and then she giggled, “Eric doesn’t have girl friend.” She sounded out girl, with a really long R, laughing as if what I suggested was ridiculous.

“No?”

“No… he did once but… she went away, I don’t know where she went and he won’t talk about her…” She shrugged.

“Do you have a husband?”

“Nope, no husband.”

“Boyfriend?”

“No, not one of those either.”

“Why? You’re pretty, pretty girls have boys … at least that’s what Taylor says.”

“I work a lot.” It really was my only answer….for everything.

“Eric says that’s why he doesn’t have anyone other than me, too. But he seems okay, sometimes and sometimes not so much.”

“You notice a lot, don’t you?”

“I’m a kid, I notice everything.” She smiled.

She made me smile, she really was cute kid, and smart to boot.

Eric’s head came around the door and he looked at her.

“I’m okay I promise, I’m not bothering her!” She defended and I just got up from my seat.

“Eric, it’s past lunch, I need you to go over to Andre’s and pick up my usual, Emily, are you hungry?”

She nodded.

“How about some soup and some sandwiches, do you like that?”

“Can it be tomato soup?”

“Emily…” Eric interjected but I ignored him.

“Sure… what else? You like chicken? Some cheese …do kids eat salads?”

I directed at Eric and he just laughed.

“This one does, don’t ask me where we found her.”

“Okay, good. Well just get something of everything and if you haven’t eaten, get something too, I’m waiting for a call from Stan this afternoon so I want to be here for it, besides it’s too wet to go out, these shoes are new…” I trailed off and heard Emily giggle. Eric raised his brows at her and she stopped, I guess they had some kind of brother sister code. I remember when Jason and I were close enough to have a ‘code’ now all we had was each other’s area codes.

“Em, you wanna go with me?”

“It’s too wet for her outside…” I said, and they both looked at me, surprised, “and besides I was going to bring her down to wardrobe and show her some of the clothes, if she wanted… and I have to go down and check on things anyway…” I shrugged, playing off that maybe I was having fun hanging out with someone who wasn’t scared of me.

“Can I?” She asked Eric, clearly excited.

“You sure?” He asked me.

“I wouldn’t have offered otherwise, you know that by now. We’re hungry so…”

“Yeah, Eric… We’re hungry!” Emily mocked and he just glared at her before poking her in the arm playfully, “be good while I’m gone…”

“I always am!”

We walked down to the wardrobe section of the floor, and she was in awe. It was actually really cute.

“Oh my GOD!” She exclaimed running to the dresses we had on loan.

“They’re all so pretty! And Princess-y!”

“We have Oscar dresses here too, want to see?”

“YEAH!”

A few interns saw me, but quickly looked away and rightfully scampered out of the way.

I introduced her to Dior, de la Renta, more Couture than you could shake a stick at, and of course the hair and makeup section, she didn’t understand it of course, but, I swear she squee’d. Her excitement, it made me excited again. It reminded me of my first trips here as a little kid, how I loved this place so much, and thought it was just beyond magical. I could see that she thought the same thing.

I propped her up on one of the under lit tables, and I did her nails in a sweet pale pink.

“You sure Eric won’t mind me doing this?” I asked her.

“Nope, it’s pretty, he can’t argue that it’s not! Besides Taylor and me, we do this all the time but not with fancy stuff…this is so fancy.”

It was Chanel, so it was a little fancy.

“Can I wear makeup?”

That, I figured was a bigger line to cross.

“Maybe not makeup, Sweetie, but we can do some clear mascara and maybe a tiny bit of lip gloss, okay?”

“Okay!”

After that, I showed her, her makeover in the mirror, she was beaming.

“Cool! They’re pretty colours…”

“They are.” I agreed putting away the mirror.

“I don’t get it…” She said, admiring her little nails.

“Get what?”

“Everyone here is sooo scared of you, but… you’re really nice!”

“Well, thank you.” I said, tucking her hair behind her ear.

“You’re welcome.”

I put a lot of nail varnishes into a little bag for her, with some gloss and the clear mascara, she could play dress up with them.

I thought of something else she could use too. I’d been sent a sample of children’s clothes from a designer friend that was branching out, I of course had no use for them, so they sat in the wardrobe unused. Three dresses, that Emily deemed ‘extreme princess’ and some jeans and sweaters later and we’d almost passed an hour down there. We walked back to the office to find our sandwiches sitting unwrapped as well as the rest of the food, the soup would need warmed up that’s for sure. We noticed that Eric wasn’t at his desk though as we passed, so we sat to eat.

“Eric can’t cook,” she said, “he said he’s going to learn, but I don’t think he will, he’s started to Youtube cooking shows, but best he can make is some omelettes and ham.”

“He might learn?”

“Eh…” She shrugged.

We finished eating and she ‘went to visit’ Eric while I made some calls. The rest of the afternoon went quickly, after she passed out on the large recliner in the corner of my office.

EPOV:

“And she didn’t fire you?”

“Nope, oddly she’s been like…hanging out with my kid sister all day.”

Lafayette looked horrified, as I told him what had happened that morning.

“For real? I mean her head didn’t explode or she didn’t turn to salt? She hates kids.”

“She didn’t seem to last time I saw her?”

“That’s crazy… I mean okay she doesn’t ‘hate’ kids, she just doesn’t usually know what to do around them, sticky fingers and Dior don’t mix, you know?”

I nodded, I had no idea but I’d seen the price points of some of the shit she got sent, it was insane, so I could see why she took care of it. I’d kill myself if I ruined a ten thousand dollar suit or something, too.

“I know, it’s weird… I mean I know Emily is cute, let’s face it she is my sister…”

That made him smirk, but he listened to my semi-rant anyway.

“But like she’s been super nice, it’s really freaking me out.”

“You know it’s because of the kid, right? I mean Sookie loves her inner bitch, but she also knows she freaks people out when she’s got her bitch-mode- on all the time, and with little kids, I guess maybe she just sees it as something not to do to kids? I don’t really know…”

I didn’t know either, but with another batch of samples collectioned, I realized we’d made it to five, and I was all ready to bolt, crawl up and die, when I walked in Emily and Sookie were sitting by the large conference table, colouring. They were drawing dresses. Sookie’s was more detailed and elaborate of course, but Emily’s wasn’t half bad either.

“Look Eric! I designed my first dress!”

“You did?” I asked, looking between Emily, and amused looking Sookie.

“Yeah, and Sookie said she’d think about trying to make it, isn’t that cool! I can just draw it and she knows people who can make my drawing REAL!”

“That’s awesome, Em, really but you know Sookie has a lot of designs she needs to look at -”

“But I’ll look at hers too, just in case the other ones suck.”

Emily giggled.

“Em’, it’s home time.”

“Aw, really?”

“Yes, really.”

She immediately looked dejected, the pout came out.

“We got to go kid, in this rain, we’re going to have make it quick too. Get your coat, and say thank you to Sookie.”

Still she pouted but she held her manners.

“Thank you, Sookie!”

“You’re welcome, don’t forget this,” she said before Sookie handed her a giant bag, filled to the brim.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“Oh nothing just a few bits and bobs we were looking at today, she liked them so -”

“Sookie you …can’t do that.”

“Yes I can, I own them…”

“No, I mean it’s too much, really I didn’t expect you to be so cool about this today, but you’ve really gone far beyond -”

“Please don’t kiss my ass, Eric, I have enough people doing that as it is. So, can you just take the bag and make sure she gets use out of some of it at least?”

I just nodded, and thanked her again. I’d gotten myself and Emily as far as the elevator when my phone rang.

It was Sookie.

I looked back at the office and she was standing by the door.

“You guys … need a ride home?” She asked.

Oh, this would be interesting.


A/N: Not much to say guys, just to say thank you muchly for the support! Keep it up! 😉 What did we think of this chapter? DYING to hear!


Chapter 6: Chapter 6


SPOV:

What was I doing? Clearly, I was insane. I mean, that much was pretty crystal clear, right? Not only had I acted completely out of the ordinary all day, by letting Eric bring his sister work, but I hung out with her, I liked her, I liked it.

Clearly, wrong.

I didn’t do that kind of thing. Hell, I fired a guy once for over feeding his virtual pet during work hours, and yet I was letting something this huge slide? Not only slide, but I was encouraging it by offering them a ride home. I didn’t even know where they called home!

“Oh you don’t have to, really it’s -”

“Come on Eric, I hate the subway!” Emily said, yanking on the ends of his untucked shirt. I ignored the urge to cringe at that, or the urge to tuck it in, and straighten him out.

“Emily, seriously, shush,” he warned. “Really Sookie, you’ve done more than enough today, thank you.”

I nodded, just as the thunder rumbled outside, forcing Eric to look at his pouting little sister.

“Um, yeah I guess…that would be okay… I … if you want.”

He finally gave in.

I nodded. “Hoyt is waiting downstairs, you can go ahead, I’ll be right there.”

“Can I wait with Sookie?” Emily asked, and he shook his head to say no, but I interrupted.

“Sure, if you want, I just have to grab my bag.”

She smiled, running over to where I stood, Eric just shrugged and pressed the down button on the elevator wall.

“I really do hate the subway, Eric can drive, but he says having a car in the city is kinda pointless since we’d just be stuck in traffic for nine thousand years,” she sighed.

“He’s sort of right, we do spend a lot of time in traffic, epically at this hour.”

“Rush hour,” she nodded, proud she knew what it was.

I grabbed my things and we went, all of us in the large town car, heading to Brooklyn, apparently.

None of us talked at first, Emily was busy looking at all the gadgets in the car, and all but bouncing out of her seat. Eric was just starting at his feet, then his phone, then out the window.

Okay, so it was extremely awkward, and I reiterate, what the hell was I doing?

I never did this, ever. I wasn’t ‘nice’ to my employees. Could I have been broken by a five year old?

No, not even possible.

“So, you remember we have that meeting tomorrow afternoon with Bergdorf’s…”

“I do, I have the numbers on my desk ready to show them, and the projection reports too.”

Oh… so he was doing his job today then.

“Good,” I nodded. “And you know about how hectic next week will be with the shows we have to -”

“Sookie, we’ve been over this a million times, I’m ready.”

Whether he was or not was still debatable, but I let it go for now. More awkwardness followed, and of course we got stuck in traffic, repeatedly.

“This is boring now…” Emily noted, rather bluntly, as only a five year old – and my Grandmother – could be. “Can we have the radio?”

“Emily, shush.”

“Sure…” I said, reaching up and switching it on, there was some preppy, poppy, up beat song on and it got a smile from Emily.

“I sing this in the bath you know?” she said. “I’m not very good, but I am loud.”

“Yes, very loud, too loud…” Eric added, and she just rolled her eyes.

“Eric sings in the shower too -”

“Emily, seriously, mouth, close it.”

She smiled, evilly.

“He sings out loud and he sings songs, he sings old ones that I don’t know too, and he sung Taylor Swift yesterday morning…”

I stifled my giggle, it was certainly a funny visual.

“Is that right?” I asked him, and I swear I could see a blush.

“No. Kids lie, it’s what they do,” he mumbled.

“I’m not a liar, Eric!” Emily said, an annoyed look on her face as she closed herself off to him, moving over in her seat.

“What do you sing in the shower, Sookie?”

It was my turn to look mortified.

“I don’t sing.”

“Oh, sure you do, EVERYONE sings! I like Disney songs!”

I liked Disney songs too, but they didn’t need to know that.

“No, I just don’t sing. I don’t have time,” I admitted, because it was sort of true.

“That’s just sad,” Emily admitted with a shrug, and if I was being honest, I really agreed. This kid, in a day, had managed to point out most of the things wrong with my life. If I didn’t know better, I would have sworn my Gran sent HER as the spy, and not Eric, like Pam assumed.

I didn’t do small talk, not with my employees, or their sisters, but again I’d broken another unwritten rule.

“…and I go to pre-school with Taylor, and then her mom, who I told you about, she collects us from school and takes us for walks to the swings if the weather is nice, and then we go back to their house and have dinner sometimes, or a snack.”

Emily had decided to take any and all awkward silences into her own hands, by not shutting up once the whole ride to Brooklyn.

“You’ll be so glad when we get out of this car,” Eric sighed, rubbing his temples.

“Is she always so… I mean, I don’t remember being this chatty as a kid, or this energetic,” I whispered.

“It was the nap, those things are like rocket fuel for kids. It’s hell,” he commented, rolling his eyes.

Just at that the car stopped.

“That’s you, Eric,” Hoyt commented from the front, looking through his mirror.

“Thanks man, appreciate it.”

“No worries,” Hoyt replied. Hoyt hardly ever talked to me, but then again he was one of the ones still afraid of me.

“Can Sookie come up and visit?” Emily asked as Eric was busy putting on her coat.

“No.”

“But why?”

He looked at me.

“Because, Sookie is busy and has a lot of … busy things to do.”

“Please? Sookie, just for a little minute, I want to show you my princess room! I think you’d like it…”

I was sure I would, but what I didn’t like was the nervous look on Eric’s face.

“Emily, I said no, now move your butt.”

“You’re so mean, Eric! And Sookie can answer herself!”

I just looked at him, noting how uneasy he looked and decided it was best I pass on her offer. I’d really crossed enough boundaries for one day, seeing his place, wasn’t one I’d ever thought I’d cross.

“Eric’s right, Emily, I do have to be getting home, but maybe some other time, okay?”

She nodded, but didn’t look too happy.

“Okay… It was nice meeting you,” she smiled, and then looked up to Eric, as if to check that she was being mannerly enough, he nodded, and they both exited the car into the rain.

“Thanks again, Sookie… really.”

“Don’t mention it,” I said, before he sort of nodded and half smiled at me in acknowledgement. I watched him pick her up, and speed for their doorway, setting down his stuff to fumble with the keys to the their main door. I didn’t know how he did it, caring for her like that all the time. When our parents died, even if Jason had been old enough, I really didn’t think he would have stepped up like Eric had done for Emily.

He might have been a bit nerdy, and sure he was allergic to an iron, and he didn’t really know how to co-ordinate his clothes, but he was a good man, and that realisation shocked me a little. Mostly because of all the best dressed men I knew, dated, or fucked, I wasn’t sure I could have said the same about any of them. I didn’t realize until I looked and saw Hoyt looking at me in the rear view mirror, that pissed me off, as if he could read my thoughts or something.

Go!” I all but shouted, and he averted his eyes. I simply put up the screen between us. The last thing I wanted was my driver judging me. I mean, he probably was anyway, but I just didn’t need to know about it. I had more important things on my mind, like Fashion Week.

EPOV:

“Emily, stop spinning, you’re soaking the bathroom!” I yelled from the kitchen, I could hear the sloshing around as she sung ‘I wanna be like you’ from the Jungle Book. It was our rule, if she wanted to bathe herself, she had to sing until she was ready to come out, since it kept me aware if she was okay or not. I knew if the singing stopped, something was up.

Okay!” she yelled back.

I was cooking, finally having made it to another weekend, and slowly improving my cooking skills thanks to various Youtube tutorials, tonight was chicken parmesan, and since it wasn’t burnt or under cooked, I’d say we’d hit a stride. After the week night disasters of simple Mac and cheese, and chicken wings made spicy, with baked potatoes… I’d had to replace the fire alarm, after beating the crap out of it on one of the occasions. Once I had Emily in her pyjamas, fed, and content I finally got to relax. The previous week had just about killed me. I’d thought since working for Sookie, I’d gotten used to the pace, but almost two months in and thrust into my first Fashion Week, I proved to be very, very, wrong about that fact.

I’d had no idea what to expect, I had no idea why everyone thought what they were doing was, like, THE most important thing in the universe at any given time, I had just no idea. I cracked open a beer as we started our movie, me on the couch, Emily snuggled up on the arm chair that made her look even smaller than usual, both of us fully relaxed. The previous week had started like any other, only it wasn’t like any other. For one, we were hardly in the office, and the one time we were, I walked in to find Sookie standing there, in her underwear.

“Oh… I… there are files…” I said, trying to ignore the fact that there she stood, on a white box, in her barely there underwear, oh and there were two guys measuring her, but who cared about them. There was Sookie, practically naked, standing in front of me like some breast Goddess… It was an unexpected start to a Monday morning, that’s for sure.

She just stood there, not a hint of embarrassment in her confident stance, her arms forward from her body, joined in a circle out in front, while the two men fussed and measured and commented.

“Um, what’s going on?”

She sighed.

“I’m being measured, what does it look like…?”

It looked like there was a hot ass woman standing in front of me half naked, and I hadn’t been near one of those in… a while. That’s what it looked like. And I was having a hard time keeping my eyes in respectable places, hard being the operative word. Instead though, I looked out and her shields were up in the office, so no one else could see her, but if they decided to walk in, they were definitely…. Was that a tattoo? I mused as I pretended not to look at her. It looked like one, but her underwear was obscuring that view, well that, and other views, and not by much. The black silk contrasted with her lightly tanned skin, beautifully.

“I…”

“Sit down, open the calendar and take notes, since I’m otherwise occupied,” she gestured to the men, who had still not acknowledged me, not that that was anything new.

“Fashion Week is a massive week for me, for us, for the whole company, I need everyone here at the top of their game so you and I can go and play elsewhere, so we start with the shows.”

I nodded, and she began.

“BCBG at 10, Friday is the busy one though, I’m doing five shows, six on the Saturday including the Lhuillier show, at Lincoln Centre, then on Sunday we have five more – I’m curious to see what Beckham comes up with, honestly,” she sighed. “Then Monday – we’re doing two. Zoe and Marc’s shows, then, Tuesday, Rodarte and Marchesa are a must. I don’t care what else happens but we can’t miss those, then, let’s see, De la Renta is also another must, so don’t book anything else on those time frames… Wednesday, three shows including the Philip Lim, and finally on Thursday, four shows, and Marc’s show is changed now from eight to eight thirty.”

My head was spinning and my hand was cramping, but I’d gotten all her information down, the woman talked fast, so I had to learn to even faster.

I figured out the times and realized if I bolted straight after I could be home by ten for Em’, that’s when the other shoe dropped.

“And now onto the after parties…”

Well, that was that idea fucked out the window. I’d have to organize something with Amelia, and sneak Trey a lot more money at the end of the month.

“Um, what are you being measured for?” I asked after she’d rattled off the schedule for the after-parties, and believe me, there were a lot.

“My clothes for the week, they have to be altered to fit me, tailoring is a person’s best friend…” She raised a brow at me. “Not that you’d know that, or care either…” she trailed off.

The thing with Sookie was, after she dropped us off in front of our apartment, it was like the next day, and the days after, she was almost attempting to make up for her good deeds by channelling her Super Bitch, and she did it really, really well.

I sighed, taking the insult, like I’d taken all the others, and I got to work, willing my half boner to just disappear. I refused to be turned on by her, or her body, because inside that hot body there was a soulless demon!

At least that’s how I rationalized it, and I would absolutely not be revisiting those images when alone, and in need of some serious release.

Nope, not happening.

From the Thursday, to the following Thursday, my life was just non existent. I existed solely to follow Sookie, watch her air kiss people I’d only ever read about, or vaguely heard about in the news. I saw actors I loved, musicians I admired, and more half naked models in one week than most people see in a life time. I was introduced as Sookie’s new assistant, and with raised brows, my hand was shook by the most prestigious designers in Sookie’s world. To me though, it just seemed all a little over the top and extremely pretentious. But I also noted that Sookie never looked happier, more confident, or more in her element than that whirlwind week of shows and parties, freebies and photographs. She’d gush in my direction when certain people moved on from our circle, and she’d roll her eyes at others. It amazed me how she was able to handle all these people with such grace, as if they were old friends and she’d seen them every day of her life, when in fact she’d probably only met them a handful of times. The designers though, those she had huge time for, their ‘art’ is what brought us there, or so she said. I’d also noted how professional she was, and beyond anything else, that never slipped. I was impressed by her. Not to say that I wasn’t before, but that was on a smaller scale, and one I didn’t fully understand where it reached. Walking into those rooms and having press and photographers care about her, her work and what she represented, that surprised me, and it amused me. She was able to answer countless questions, greet countless people, but a visit from her Grandmother sent her grey in the face. It was weird. The final party of the final show was by far the most elaborate I’d seen, and the most packed with people all air kissing each other all over the place. I kept my eyes open and my mouth shut, and I saw a lot of questionable shit in those bathrooms that week. I’d also been hit on a lot that week too, though mostly by men which was a little disheartening. And then there was Minka.

She was a model, with the most ridiculous blue eyes I’d ever seen, she was almost as tall as me, which was no easy feat that’s for sure, and yet she wore her height with pride – and heels. And she was hitting on me, at least it sort of felt like she was hitting on me.

“And you’re really not a model? That’s so weird, you certainly have the bone structure for it, not to mention the height, and besides it’s usually the models who turn up to these parties dressed like out of work musicians,” she noted, glancing at my attire. I’d decided to play it safe that week, white dress shirt and black jeans. Sookie hadn’t objected, so I figured it was okay.

“Not that it’s a bad thing, most people show up to fashion week trying to look ‘fashionable‘ and we all know how often that fails… it’s really so sad,” she sighed.

“It’s my first, so I wouldn’t really know.”

“Aw!” She smiled. “Really? That’s so adorable, here have another drink…”

“No, I really shouldn’t…”

“Because of Sookie? Please she’s having champagne with Marc, she’ll be a while.”

She hadn’t drank all week, nor had she really had time to eat either. I guess with it being the last night, she was allowing herself to relax, finally.

I shrugged and accepted the glass, and the one after that, and soon I found myself on a couch with Minka and her friend, the three of us in deep conversation about the state of economy.

Yes, I was the one guy in the room surrounded by two hot models, and we were Talking. About. The. Economy.

I hated myself sometimes. And I prejudged them all, these girls weren’t in the least bit stupid, just starving, and a little drunk.

“Bambi, did you know Eric is a Fashion Week virgin?” Minka said to the other girl, and I struggled not to laugh, mainly because someone called their child Bambi, and they weren’t my little sister. I dreaded to think what names Emily might come up with in the future.

Both of them told me that this was as good a place as any to lose my fashion virginity, and then the unexpected, unexpectedly, happened.

“We’d like to take it.”

“Take… what?”

“Your fashion virginity, of sorts,” The Disney character said.

“Excuse me?”

She smiled.

“We want to fuck, you,” she whispered pointedly.

Oh.

OH.

“That’s …really nice you…both… but I um…”

“Are you gay? You don’t seem gay.”

“No – no, I’m not gay I just um, I’ve … it’s …”

“We’ll be gentle. We promise,” Minka said, and I was beginning to feel light headed. Was this really happening?

“Shall we then?” She offered me her hand as they both stood up, and I stood too, still really unsure of what was the right thing to do in a situation like this, and then hating myself for even caring about what was right when two hot women wanted to fuck me.

“I’m still working, I don’t think -”

“For Sookie? Hm, that is a problem, I mean she’s being fully entertained I’m sure, so she might not even miss you.”

Just at that my phone started to ring. I felt it vibrate in my pocket.

At least I hoped it was my phone.

“Where are you?” she said

“I’m …left of the bar, red seats… why?”

“We’re out of here, job done. I need something to eat before I fucking faint,” she whispered into the phone, and I nodded, I was starving too, and then I looked at the women in front of me. The tall, whimsically dressed, perfect women, and realized that this was one fantasy that just wasn’t coming true. At least not then, and if I was being honest, probably never. I wasn’t that guy, never was, never would be.

“Sorry ladies, I have to bolt.”

They both looked a little disappointed, not that I really blamed them. I’d just turned down a model threesome, my fifteen year old self hated me right now, hell my thirty year old self hated me too.

“I’m sorry, duty calls.”

“I hope to hell you’re fucking her, at least. Someone needs to,” Disney girl said, and then they both kissed me, one after another, and they didn’t go for my cheeks either. In fact, I may have felt tongue. As they broke apart, I saw Sookie standing behind them, her brows raised.

I was wrong though, those girls weren’t perfect, they were perfect models, not perfect women. If I’d learned anything in that week, I learned that the rules were very different for normal women, and men, and those who called themselves models. It was enlightening, in more than one sense.

“Having fun?” she asked, coy and smug.

“Sookie! It’s so good to see you again, darling,” one of them said as they both air kissed her, then they turned to look at me, and I just sort of shuffled into place, stuffing my hands in the pockets of my jeans.

“Sookie, your Eric is something, I hope you’re making good use of him… because if you aren’t that would be a shame.”

Sookie looked at the women, then looked at me, smirking.

“It’s been nice to see you both, but we’re late for another appointment, so if you’ll excuse us…” she said, walking towards the exit, and I dutifully followed. She elegantly bypassed the shouting photographers and into the town car, again, I followed.

“Wow,” I said. She on the other hand was taking off her shoes, her very tall shoes.

“Ohhh God that feels good,” she groaned, and I really doubt she meant it to sound as sexual as it did. Between the models touching, Sookie’s breasts in that dress, and the fact that I hornier than hell, my body really began to test me. Boners just were not socially acceptable.

“Good week, Miss Stackhouse?” Hoyt asked.

“Great, Hoyt, just great. You know where to go though.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Where are we going?”

“Eric, I have lived on salad, caffeine and water for the last ten days, longer even if you count my two week cleanse. I want something disgusting, something you can TASTE the calories in, gross and full of cheese. We’re going to McDonalds. Fashion Week is always the longest food free week of my life. I’m glad I’m only doing New York this year.”

“You…do them all?”

“Yes, all of them, every season, every year. But this year, my Gran is visiting around that time, and I need everything perfect for next week.”

I nodded.

“Oh, and take tomorrow off,” she said, leaning her head back on the leather of the car seat.

“Really?”

“Yes, I only have to come in for an hour or so, I doubt I’ll be needing you, and it’s Friday, so… long weekend. You deserve it. You survived your first fashion week,” she smiled, reaching for the opened champagne waiting in ice in front of us.

“Drink?”

“Um, sure.”

“To the math nerd, wowing at Fashion Week,” she smiled again, and I was convinced she was on her way to drunk.

“I haven’t eaten since that soup at lunch, combine that with …many drinks… I’m being nice because I’m nice really, but they do help,” she said, and I heard Hoyt snort in the front seat.

“Well, whatever the reason, thank you. I was terrified.”

“I know, it was hilarious. You looked like a deer in the headlights most of the time. But you did good, really good, considering. You were unaffected by the famous people, and that’s what they want. And, you did seem to be settling in just find with those two… and they with you,” she cocked a brow and half smiled.

“They wanted to have a threesome,” I admitted, causing Sookie to almost spit out her drink, and Hoyt gave me a grin in the mirror, nodding.

“And…what did you say?”

“I … can we not talk about this?”

Her eyes were wide, but she nodded, still looking shocked.

We pulled in, ordered and ate. I’d never seen a woman so happy about food before, but I had to admit, I was starving so God knows how she felt. She’d ran around a lot more than I did, and the stress on her was a thousand times more than anything I had to deal with.

“So good. So, so, so bad for me, but so fucking good,” she smirked. “Kind of like most of the men in my life…”

Champagne and McDonalds, that was new.

I was eating, Hoyt was eating and Sookie was all but in love with her meal and her milkshake.

“I can almost feel the weight gain, but I don’t care right now, this is just too necessary.” She munched, and soon we were on the road again, both of us going over all that was achieved during that week, contacts made, contacts re-secured, and asses kissed. And soon we were outside my place.

“This is me.”

“This is you…” she said, and I don’t know how it happened, and I’m not really sure she did either, but, something happened in that second, and I ended up inviting her up. She looked at Hoyt, who was pretending he heard nothing, and she slipped on her heels and followed me inside.

Neither of us said anything on the short elevator ride up, nor did we speak when I opened the door to let us both inside. I saw her take it all in though, looking around the tiny, somewhat untidy apartment.

“I know it’s probably not what you’re used to, but, it’s home. For now.” I had plans to look for a new place, I just hadn’t gotten around to it.

“It’s nice,” she said looking at the book shelves behind the couch, and then looking down the short hallway. I could see she was trying to figure out why there was only one room and a bathroom down there, and I lived with a kid. It was like watching the wheels turn in her head.

She just nodded to herself and sat down.

“I don’t really know why I came in, I guess I was too tired to question it,” she said, and truth be told, I didn’t really know why either, I was just sort of glad she did.

“Is Emily -”

“No, she’s across the hall, having a sleep over with Taylor tonight.”

She nodded.

“I loved those as a kid, my Gran wouldn’t let me go to a lot of people’s houses, but when she did, it was awesome. Normal families having dinner and arguing,” she looked at me, and I sat on the arm of the couch. “Growing up, it was just Gran, Jason and I a lot of the time. She was building the business, so it was mostly just Jason and I after a certain age.” She seemed saddened by that memory.

“When did they die?” I asked.

“I was eight. Jason was ten. I don’t really remember them anymore, I think that’s the scariest part. It’s like they never existed…”

I nodded, admitting, “Same. I mean, not for me. But for Em’. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t remember them at all, she had only turned three. But there are tapes and things she watches from time to time, but mostly she’s stopped that too. It seems to just make her sad. And she asks a lot of questions, ones I’m not really ready to answer for her, you know?”

She nodded. I wasn’t sure why either of us were having this conversation, but we were having it nonetheless.

“I don’t really know how you’re doing it. I mean, I’m not sure I could… even now, never mind when I was fresh out of college.”

“It’s not easy, I mean I think it would be easier if… maybe if she was my daughter and it was planned, but, she’s my sister, so the dynamic is different, even if I’m acting like her dad, I’m never going to be, because we had a dad, and a mother, really great ones… and I’m not sure I can live up to that. She deserves better, she deserves them… and she’s stuck with me.”

I didn’t know where the heart to heart came from, but it came, and I decided to stop questioning every little thing she did, or didn’t do, and just go with it. We sat and finished off the bottle of wine I’d had in the fridge forever, both of us talked out, and more than a little exhausted. We covered a lot of Emily – Sookie seemed really interested in her – and I asked more about her family – she was less than thrilled with them – but we talked some of it out, and then it came up.

“Since I figured this is a one bedroom place, am I sitting in your bedroom right now?” She asked.

It was embarrassing, I can admit that, and I may have blushed.

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of, Eric. Really.”

“I know I just -”

“Am?”

“I guess, it’s just hard, you know?”

“Do.. Do you date?” She asked, I guess it was a logical question.

“I used to. Before, I was seeing someone for a really long time, and I thought I was set with her, but…then everything changed…and she couldn’t deal with it. I get though, as much as I hated to admit it, neither of us signed up to be surprise parents, and yet it happened to me, not to her. So, we split.”

She nodded, but thankfully she didn’t try to relate. I wasn’t sure most people could even if they tried.

“And since that, it’s just been difficult, you know? Emily comes first, I just don’t come at all,” I smiled, trying to lighten the mood, since I guess we both got chatty and sad when we got a little drunk.

” I mean it’s dumb right? But this isn’t where I thought I’d be at thirty. I say that as if I had any idea where I’d actually be… I just didn’t think it would be here.”

“I don’t think anyone is where they thought they’d be, if they’re honest with themselves. And if they are, they’re a select few who are very lucky,” she reasoned.

“Are you one of those lucky ones?”

“I …don’t know. I don’t,” she shrugged to prove her point. “All I know is that I love my job, and I’m too scared to find out where, or who I’d be, without it. Pussy thing to say maybe, but it’s -”

“Actually, I think it’s really brave.”

She looked at me like I was nuts, and hey, I probably was.

“To admit that, to be what you are … to be so sure it’s what you love? Most people are never sure if it’s right,” I said.

“There are things I’d change though…”

“Of course. Or you’d ask me to change them for you,” I teased.

“On that note, assistant. I should go. I’m so tired. I wonder if I can get Hoyt to come back -”

“Or you could just go sleep in Emily’s room?” I offered.

She stood, pondering for a few seconds before she spoke.

“She did want me to see her Princess room.”

“She did. It’s there, it’s a single bed, and I’d never fit in it, or I’d offer you the couch.”

“It’s comfy though,” she commented with a half smile, patting the couch.

“Nah, just well worn. I’ll get you something to throw on, unless you plan on sleeping in Marc Jacobs.”

She looked horrified. “Never, but hey, look at you, you know who I’m wearing. That’s progress.”

“Please, I’m a pro now.” I rolled my eyes, making her laugh as I led her into my sisters room.

“I wasn’t imagining light green walls, but it’s very pretty.”

“She wanted all pink, but I argued that it would look like someone threw up Barbie in her room, and she agreed on the green, the rest was all her though, I just put it together.”

“She’s got a good eye…” she said, sitting daintily on her bed, looking around. It was awkward, all of it was really awkward because she was in my house. We were talking just like two normal people would talk. Nice Sookie had come out to play again, and I really, really liked nice Sookie. No matter how much Boss Sookie might give me boners and sexy dreams of domination that I didn’t really think I was into before, nice Sookie was easier to talk to, what with the lesser presence of fear and all.

“I’ll… be right back.”

I walked to the living room, and to the closet that most people might have used to store books or something, where I stored my somewhat limited, but ever increasing since I took the job, wardrobe, and I pulled her out the first clean shirt I could find. I knew it wasn’t what she was probably used to, any of it, but it was what she was choosing to stick around for, so I guess she was okay with it. I handed it to her, and she thanked me. She almost never thanked me. The contrast between the two Sookie’s was really confusing, did I mention that? She turned her back to me, and began to unbutton, and I knew that was my cue.

“Well, I… good night.”

She turned then, there was a split second of hesitation in her movements, but then she smiled, “Yes, goodnight.” And I shuffled awkwardly out of her room, closing the door. I wasn’tthat drunk, not by a long shot, but I felt drunk, or I felt dizzy, and I wasn’t sure what was causing it; her, or the champagne and wine.

My bet was on the enigma in the other room.

SPOV:

I didn’t know what I was doing, getting out of that car at midnight, going up to his tiny apartment. I didn’t know why I’d agreed or what we were going to do once up there, and yet I trusted him enough to go anyway. Most unlike me. Most things, I was coming to realize, were most unlike me, he got to me in a way that few other people had even tried, and the worst – or best – part about it was he hadn’t even really tried at all. I sat looking at my wine glass, still full from twenty minutes before I’d sat down in my living room. The TV was on, all phones were off the hook, the laptop was closed. I was relaxing as best I could. Only I couldn’t, because memories of that night still continued to hammer at my thoughts, unwilling to let go.

I was tipsy, with a good buzz, I was fed and happy, a stressful week was over, and I felt for the first time in ages, chilled out. He had helped in that manner. In the years previous, all my assistants were such ass kissers that it pained me to take them to the fashion shows. They sat gawking, in awe, and basically being unprofessional fools. But, not Eric, not at all. He seemed so un-phased, and that got him noticed, and accepted a lot quicker than the fan girls the years before. By the time I was sitting on his couch, having this extremely unexpected heart to heart, of sorts, I found that there was this continuing surprise when it came to him, there were layers. Maybe not in his clothing, because let’s face it, he hadn’t mastered that yet. He hadn’t even mastered decent tailoring, but within himself, there was a lot more to him than I’d ever given thought to before. And when I laid in his little sister’s Princess bed, in one of only three white button down shirts that he owned, I was contemplating just what the hell had landed me there in the first place.

I liked him. I liked his messy look, I liked how he smelled – like soap and fabric softener, not some over-priced cologne, or some pretentious triple-priced loafers. No, he was the one of the most normal thing in my weird little wreck of a life, and I realized that that, and him were very attractive to me.

And that scared the living shit out of me.

I didn’t ‘do’ normal, I didn’t ‘do’ guys with kids, or kid sisters and complicated situations. I was a love ’em and leave ’em type. Or more truthfully, a fuck ’em and leave ’em type. I had been for a long time. I simply didn’t have time for any more complications in my life. He would be a mass of complications, and still I wanted him. I wanted to go out there, crawl onto that beat up blue sofa and take him, or have him take me, whichever worked out. But could I? Could I just do that?

We had to work together, and chances are if we did, he’d be fired because I knew myself… I knew I’d fuck it up and the idea of looking him in his sweet blue eyes again after that, well, it wasn’t appealing.

And so there it was, as usual, I’d talked myself out of something before I’d even attempted to do it. I’d jumped to the worst conclusion possible that included Eric losing his job and me losing my Eric, and I hadn’t even kissed the guy.

I sighed and tried again to sleep, only the drink was catching up with me in the form of serious dry mouth, and I really needed water to fix that gross problem. So, I got up, and I tip-toed as quietly as possible to the kitchen, only, I wasn’t alone.

He was up too, and thirsty by the looks of him chugging down on a gallon of milk. He really was hiding such a good body underneath those clothes, I thought. Slim, neat, but strong, defined abs and an interesting tan line that started at his boxers. His boxers that were way too long, way too big, and they had holes. I resisted the urge to just fix them right, but then I wasn’t sure what was right in my mind. Fix them up his hips, or down his legs?

I shook my head.

“Hi.”

He jumped a little, but we both ignored it.

“Hey… something wrong?”

“No, just… can I have some water?”

“Oh, sure… here.” He handed me a bottle from the fridge and I cracked it open and took a long swill.

“It’s not French, but it’s bottled…” he smirked.

“So I like a certain water, sue me.”

“It’s all water!” he whispered, and I wasn’t sure why he, or I were actually whispering if we were alone, but we were.

“There are scientific differences, ” I argued, even though there probably weren’t.

“Yeah, rich people.”

I just rolled my eyes, and he looked at me, putting his milk back. And we just stood there, probably looking like idiots, just looking at each other. But, there was a shift in the air. Subtle as it was, it was there. And the next thing I know, I’m backed up against his fridge, him still looking at me, both of us not breathing.

His eyes were so fucking intense it made me tingle. He looked from my eyes, like he was genuinely searching for something, to my lips, where he wore the same look; like the answers to the universe were somewhere on my face. The tension was electric between us, and we’d not even really touched each other yet. My breaths were shallow, like I was afraid to move, in case he missed what he was looking for or something. When suddenly I felt his fingers trace up my bare thigh, as his eyes met mine again, and I held my breath as his fingers ghosted along the waist of my underwear, and I let it go, when it was clear he wasn’t going where I thought he’d go. Instead he slowly moved north, over the button-up, pressing me into his fridge again, the cold door hitting my ass. His hand went from my body, to my neck and into my hair when his mouth met mine with an urgent kind of hunger I hadn’t felt from anyone in quite a while. His hands were on my face, pulling me closer to him, then they were on my ass, exploring that and squeezing me even closer, as we sort of stumbled to the wall – less cold than the fridge so I was thankful – but our mouths didn’t part, not while I groaned into his kisses or he moaned into mine, breaking only for short breaths. I was dying. I was alive. I was so turned on I wanted to just fuck him on his tiny kitchen floor. I wanted to not think about the holes in his boxers, or how they didn’t fit. And I just wanted his mouth and his hands and his everything else, all over my everything else. He sucked my bottom lip briefly before going in for another kiss. Feeling his tongue gently just brush mine, but feeling his hands almost knead my ass was so conflicting, so I did the same to him, making him really moan. Such a nice sound it was, too. I could feel his hardness, his need for friction as well as I could feel my own, and I willed away my stupid logical brain that was screaming at me that this was bad idea, that it was fucking where I ate or worked or whatever, but then there was him and his sexy noises and his sweet kisses and the fact that I really, really wanted to do him.

Which of course meant, I didn’t.

I broke us apart, taking a few steps back as we both took in the mess of the other, both panting and breathless. He was standing there, mussed hair, red scratches from my fingernails, swollen red lips, and an impressive bugle in those old boxers. I bet I didn’t look much better, minus the boner that is, though if there was a lady boner, I’d have had it.

We both looked scared, at least, he did and I felt it. Finally catching out breaths, we could speak, and we did, at the same time.

“No, you -” he said

“I just… I don’t know what that was, I don’t… there’s -”

“There’s so much at stake here, at least for me,” he admitted, “my guess is that this,” he gestured between us, “shouldn’t…”

“No, it shouldn’t… you’re right.” And, he was. I may have wanted it, he may have wanted it, but that didn’t make it okay.

“I don’t make it a habit of making out with my assistants, Eric.” I clarified, and he smirked.

“What?” I asked.

“I’d hope not, since the rest of them were women, and I’d hate to think that’s the reason why you don’t want to -”

I smiled, some of the tension had dissipated, at least for a second.

“That’s not the reason, we just… we can’t.”

It was a bad idea, I’d seen interoffice break ups before, and they weren’t pretty. He was still new, and a guy, and I was still trying to secure my future at the job. Getting involved in any capacity, even just in a casual groping, it would have been a terrible idea.

“I get it, I do.”

“I know that you do… I’m still sorry…” I waved my hand between us, “It…”

“It’s forgotten,” he said, biting his lip, and I wanted nothing more than to bite it for him.

Damn it, self. Control!

“Right… I should go home or -”

“No, Sookie it’s like three am, it’s fine, just go to sleep, like I said, it’s forgotten, just a … serious lapse in judgement, it’s fine.”

It didn’t feel fine.

“Good, great, right…” I pointed to my room, awkwardly, “I’mma go.”

He nodded, and I just turned on my heel, and all but ran back to the room, I really should have stayed in bed, I thought as I tossed and turned until six, when I made sure to get the hell out of dodge. Working together after this would be… interesting, to say the least.


*Evil Grin* Hey guys! So, what did we think? This was a long one, but I hope it was worth the wait?

ps. I’ve got a blog for the fic set up now, it’s Myfictionalmusings (on wordpress) so feel free to look me up and we can chat there if you so please. I might be posting the fic there properly too, but since it’s new, not much is going on right now. But, take a peek anyway if you’d like! Feedback is of course encouraged! 😉


Chapter 7: Chapter 7


EPOV:

Fourteen scarves from Hermes, three dresses from Chanel, four pairs of shoes from Dior, four trips to Starbucks, six trips to storage. My phone hadn’t stopped beeping all morning, and Sophie and I were run into the ground, which was new since she usually never moved from her desk. The Monday really was making up for my Friday off, that was for sure. I woke up early that Friday morning to the sound of Sookie closing the front door as quietly as possible, and I watched from the living room window as she hopped into a cab, out of the rain at seven a.m.. My gut sank, or maybe it was my heart, but something inside clenched. I knew that much, if I knew nothing else. What we’d done the night before was still very fresh on my mind. What we had done, and what we hadn’t, and why we’d made the choices we’d made. I knew there was attraction there, at least on my part, how could there not be? She was a stunning looking woman, who clearly took care of herself, and cared what she looked like. I … didn’t. I mean I ate crap eighty percent of the time, and other than hitting the gym with Trey and Sam twice a week in the evenings, that was all I did. I needed the weights because I was a tall lanky fucker if I didn’t fill myself out. I liked being strong, but I hated those guys that looked ‘roided out. I’d never make it there even if I wanted to, my father’s tall genes saw to that. Sookie took care of herself in her own way, and it paid off, I just never in a million years assumed that she’d find me attractive enough to want to intensely make out with me. She spent most of her time with me bitching about my clothes, bitching about my hair, bitching about bitching. So, I was a little surprised that she was able to see underneath the clothes for someone that was so obsessed with them usually. Not that any of that mattered because when I got to work that Monday morning, she’d avoided me big time, including taking a two hour lunch with Pam, and then having a conference all afternoon, at which I wasn’t required. Both of us managed the day without bringing anything personal up, mainly because she always had at least one person surrounding her, almost like a buffer. Pam, Sophie, or Lafayette, the latter of which suspected something was up from the looks he was giving me. I was fried by the time five rolled around, and just thankful that I got to go home.

By Tuesday afternoon it was clear that Sookie wasn’t just stressed out, she was freaking out. Pam hadn’t left her side all morning, second day in a row, and she and I hadn’t really had a real conversation from the Thursday night session where we both clumsily felt each other up. I knew I needed to address it, and I knew neither of us wanted to, but it had to be done. I took the opportunity while we were trawling through the couture wardrobe, looking for a specific dress.

“You just left…” I opened, figuring it was as good as any.

She didn’t look at me, she continued going through the racks. “Can we not, please?”

“It’s not like I’d have tried to stop you, or jumped you if you simply told me you were leaving, instead of just sneaking around like it was this huge deal.” I shrugged, trying my best to play it cool.

So maybe it was huge deal. She was my boss, I was her new employee, I really liked her boobs and that thing she did with her lip when she was nervous, but I knew as well as anyone that it was just a horrible idea. Office trysts rarely worked out well, at least that’s what prime time TV taught me.

She sighed. “I just didn’t want to talk about it, I still don’t want to talk about it, now please, can you hunt for Chanel?”

Then she finally looked me in the eye, and I could tell it bothered her, but she had a mountain of other things on her mind, this was one thing that could wait. So I agreed, and let it go.

For now.

SPOV:

I paced my office, second day in a row, with the knowledge my grandmother was arriving in less than twenty-four hours. Pam was on hand with the advice, and the bullshit metre trying her best to keep me calm.

“Sookie, I’ve looked at the books, everything is UP in the last year, everything, sweetheart, you know I’m not one to coddle, so I’m going to need you to sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up.”

I looked at her, shocked.

“Said with love, of course,” she patted my arm. “But seriously, it’s fine. You’re getting this promotion, and everything will be fine. I mean come on, even she knows Jason was a mistake, you need someone better, someone clued in, someone you see more than twice a year – as your right hand man … or woman, he’s there in name only and we all, including Gran, know that.”

I always had this plan, if I was made CEO, owner, boss in all things, Pam would be my number two. I trusted her, and I relied on her and better than any of it, she knew the business and loved it as much as I did. It would be a perfect match.

I nodded. “I know it’s fine, I’m just freaking.”

“Which is so unlike you, it’s just a day, and when it’s over you’ll be wondering what all the stressing was about.”

I nodded again, appreciating her calm, my third venti wasn’t helping my jitters though, so I just sat at my desk.

“Where is Viking Puppy today anyway?” She looked towards Eric’s desk. “I heard he didn’t embarrass you at Fashion Week, does this mean he’s adopted? Do I have to start being nice to him?” She didn’t look too pleased at that prospect.

“Viking P…where did that come from?”

“Lafayette, he adores him by the way, I have no idea why, he’s like a big wet Nordic noodle, but he does. And he was telling me that newbie did well, true?”

I shrugged. “I guess. I mean he did his job, if that what you mean. Has it gotten so bad that we’re celebrating when the people we hire to do jobs, actually fucking do them without complaint or mistake?”

Her eyes widened. “What bit you in the ass? I was just asking, I don’t even really care about his scruffy ass, but you seemed to…”

“I don’t care about Eric. What are you talking about? Has someone said something? Was it Hoyt?”

I did mention the three venti sized coffees, right?

“Wait, what? What does Hoyt have to do with anything?”

“I … nothing. Nothing,” I said, trying to focus for my life on the computer in front of me. Pam was silent for a few seconds before she came and sat on my desk.

“Sooookie…” she sounded out, smugly. “Are you hiding something from me? Something that has to do with assistant boy?”

I glared at her. One, he was so not a boy, and two, so what if I was hiding something? She didn’t need to know everything.

“No.” I looked back at my screen, as if it held the answers to the world’s problems.

“Okay fine, I’ll just go ask him then -” she said, sauntering towards my door.

“No! Okay, shut up and sit down, Jesus you’re such a nosy whore.”

She smiled, practically skipping back to my desk.

Spill.”

“It’s nothing, I mean it’s really not even worth talking about but since you’re so damn … intrusive …”

“Spill, Sookie, and I’ll decide if it’s gossip worthy or not.”

“We sort of kissed … just a little bit,” I added, my voice fading as I did.

“You what? Oh my God you’re a walking cliché!”

“Shut up, you are too, bitch.”

I had no idea what I was saying.

“Well, was … he at least good? Details!”

“You can’t tell anyone, I mean it.”

“Please Sookie I still haven’t told anyone about that time you let that guy -”

“Oh my God, okay … Yes, I sort of went to his place …”

“God, why?” She looked horrified.

“I don’t know, I was just starving for so long, and we’d ate and drank and I was feeling nice and steady, and the idea of going home to a giant empty apartment just wasn’t that appealing … so I went up.”

“Jesus you were high on food and you decided to make out with … I can’t even … carry on.”

I rolled my eyes. “Anyway, he was a gentleman, really …”

She looked towards his desk, and looked back at me with a raised brow that, even if she physically said nothing, said everything.

“I was sort of the one that went out there … for water … and also maybe with the intention of something else.”

“You like him? Really? Of all the men … I mean I know they’ve been thin on the ground lately – because you have decided to live like some sort of Manhattan millionaire nun. For reasons I’ll never understand, by the way. But, really? Him?”

“It was a one time mistake, and it won’t be happening again. It was probably just the delirium from being starving and rushed for a week, that’s all.”

“Good kisser?”

I thought about not answering her, but the truth was I needed to tell someone.

“Yes … also really good with his hands, and he’s rockin’ some serious shit in … well … everywhere, but … no …” I was rambling, so I just shook my head, in attempt to shake myself out of it. “I have far too many other things, this is one distraction I do not need. Not to mention it would be seriously unprofessional of us both, no.” I shook my head again, as if to prove my point. “One off thing, never to be repeated.”

“Right, because he’s your assistant, and that would be weird.”

“No, not because of that … why would it be weird?”

“Well, because you’re his boss, and he’s a guy, and he works – no pun intended – beneath you … It would be a little emasculating, even for a guy who doesn’t own an iron.”

“Wow, you are such a snob …”

She held her hands up. “Coming from a woman that threw a fit because her last assistant didn’t get her the thread count on hotel sheets that she wanted, you’re really going to call me a snob? I’m just saying, it would be weird, even if he is hitting all your scruffy unemployed musician kinks right now. It just means you need to call Stan, or someone to fuck, that’s all it means.”

“He’s not a musician…”

“No, but he dresses like one, at least he bathes regularly, that’s one small favour. I knew there was a reason you kept him around, I just didn’t know it was trying to get into his ill-fitting pants,” she shrugged.

“I’m not! It was a one time thing, that’s all. Now, can we please move on?”

“Hey, I’m not judging you, if you want to climb assistant boy, you go right ahead. There will be no judgement from me, it’s about time you had some fun, and hey what better way to blow off some steam than to have sex, right on hand whenever you want it, from a guy that’s hitting the kinks AND who has to do what you say …”

“That’s rape …”

“Psh, no it’s not, raping him would be somehow, little old you managing to overpower him against his will, and honestly, look at you, you’d never have to do that against his will, he’d be lucky to fuck you. And he knows that.”

Just at that Eric walked in with Lafayette, the latter holding the missing Chanel.

“Thank you Jesus, where was it?”

“Filed wrong, I can blame one of the interns if it means you won’t yell at me,” Lafayette sassed, knowing I’d never yell at him. He was my creative genius.

“Fine, forget it, can we please get it steamed and packed and sent? Before they have my head?”

“Done and done, anything else?” Laf asked, and I noticed Eric standing by the door, looking rather forlorn. But I couldn’t think about that. Not now.

“No, that’s good, everything ship shape in the wardrobe department?”

“Yes Ma’am, your Gran could have her dinner off that floor for starters. Eric was a really great help for me today, thanks for letting me borrow him for the afternoon.”

I nodded.

“Good, great, good …”

“Sookie you need to chill …”

I glared at Lafayette. “I am chilled, I’m just … can you go?”

He smiled, and then bowed, “As you wish …” taking Eric with him.

I wonder if he’d told Lafayette about the kiss, really more foreplay than a kiss. Whatever it was, it was hot.

Jesus, maybe Pam was right. Maybe all I needed was to just get laid so I could move on.

EPOV:

I hated that she didn’t want to talk about it, I wanted to talk about it, and I kinda wanted to do it again.

Okay, so I really wanted to do it again. I knew it was because it had legitimately been two something years since I’d done anything sexual with another person, and in those two years I’d fooled myself into thinking that it was okay. Drunken fumbles in bars not withstanding of course, because of Emily and our living situation, it prohibited much more than that. The logical part of my brain knew it was fucked up, considering who she was and what I was to her, but then the horny part of my brain really didn’t give a fuck about logic and just wanted the hot woman to feel him up again.

I was so screwed, and not in the fun way, either, sadly.

“Girlfriend is stressing to the hilt, it’s ridiculous,” Lafayette said as we left the office, and went towards his hideout, the wardrobe. I’d made many jokes about him ‘coming out of the closet,’ he took them in good humour though, since he was so out he was almost ready to go back in again.

“She has been since before Fashion Week, I don’t know how she’s doing it…” I commented as we sat.

“Speaking of which, I hear you did good, Newbie. Well, I heard you didn’t fuck up, which is kinda the same thing, and you still have your job. The four others before you can’t say the same thing.”

Jesus how many people had she fired?

“A little, I mean it’s crazy, and I still don’t really understand it all, but I guess I did okay.”

“More than okay, according to Hoyt.”

I knew my eyes went wide before I could stop myself.

“What did he -”

“Look, whatever is goin’ on between you, Sookie, and your sheets, it’s not on mine, you know what am sayin?”

“Nothing is going on …”

“Sure … of course.”

“Dude, nothing is going on, I swear.”

He held his hands up. “So what happened then? You tellin’ me you got her fine ass drunk AND into your place, and you didn’t game up?”

“It’s not like that, nothing happened, okay? She left anyway, and it’s not like it’s like that with us, at all. She can barely stand me.”

He didn’t believe me, mainly because I was one shitty liar, but I didn’t care, I just didn’t want to talk about it with anyone. Well, anyone other than her that is, and since she didn’t want to talk, I’d just have to shut up altogether.

“But she’s fried, I don’t know how to make her calm down. You mentioned once that you know the chinks in her armour … now would be the time to share, Lafayette, to save us all our sanity until her Gran goes back wherever she’s coming from.”

He folded his arms and swayed a little.

“I guess you have earned a break …”

I had no idea what he meant, but I watched as he went to the little fridge in the tiniest kitchenette I’d ever seen, the fridge usually only held water an fruit. He came out today though with something wrapped in foil.

Two brownies.

“She likes chocolate?”

“All women do, but that’s not what’s so magical about this baby…” he grinned.

It took me a second, but I got it, and I pulled him to one side.

“Tell me there isn’t mar-”

“Shh, and yes. Just a tiny bit, but … that and some hot chocolate from Starbucks? Totally levels her out.”

“Yes, of course it does, because she’s high!” I whispered.

“Yes, and the rest of the damn day goes so smoothly for the rest of us because she’s spacing in her office, leaving us all to do the jobs she hired us for.”

“It’s wrong. She doesn’t know, and it’s wrong.”

He just rolled his eyes. “You are such a goodie-goodie, seriously. First you get the shot at fucking her and don’t take it and now you get the shot at giving us all a mini vacation from Psycho Sookie on the war path, and are questioning it! Man, grow a pair, and go get that damn hot chocolate so we can all relax.”

I just glared at him.

“Please?” he asked, batting his false lashes at me.

“I hate you. If this gets me fired I swear I’m going to…”

“You’re gonna what?” he challenged.

“Ruin all your… custom Dior.”

He gasped and threw a bandanna scarf thing in my direction as I went for the elevator. I looked into the office on my way past and Sookie was still pacing, this time on the phone.

Yep it was time for that brownie.

It was heated in the microwave by the time I got back, and I hoped my peace offering of that and the hot drink might go over well. When she saw it on the plate, she looked up at me, questionably.

“What’s this? I didn’t ask for this?”

“I know, I was talking to Lafayette, and we figured you needed some kind of cheering up …”

Or calming the fuck down.

“And well, he told me you liked these … and this,” I held up the hot drink with cream. “So … um … here?”

I left them on her desk, and stood back before I had to push my glasses back up my nose, I really had to get those tightened.

She looked at me, and then at the brownie again, and then back to me. “That was … very sweet … of both of you. I know I’ve been a total nightmare, I just need everything to go right tomorrow, you know, all of it. It has to be perfect for her.”

“Seems like she’s had an even more impossible standard than you do, just saying.” I shrugged, and it made her half smile.

“You have … no idea.”

“Either way, she’s still your grandmother, worst comes to worst just cry. I know I can’t stand it when Emily cries, and would do just about anything to make her stop … and I’m not even a real parent, never mind a grandparent.”

She really smiled then, and took a sip of her drink.

“Everyone keeps telling me that it’s going to be fine, I just hope they’re right, because if it’s not, everyone’s job … not just mine, is at risk.”

Fuck I hadn’t thought of it that way. If she hired someone else, chances are they’d want a new team too. Fuck.

“Oh.”

“Yeah, so you can see what I’m so worked up about …”

With that she went to take a bite of the brownie, and I couldn’t in good conscience let her do it.

“Wait! Don’t eat that …”

Her eyes widened and she set it down on the place.

“Is there poison in there?” she asked.

“No, not exactly … it’s … well it’s Lafayette’s and -”

“Oh, so just pot then?”

It was my turn to look surprised.

“You … you know?”

She just stood up and rolled her eyes. “Please, did he make you think I didn’t know? That ass …”

I exhaled, I didn’t even know I’d been holding it in.

Jesus …” I sighed, making her laugh as she sat on her desk in front of me. I ignored how good she smelled, I ignored it completely.

“It’s his little test of sorts. Laffy is incredibly loyal to me, and to here … he likes people who think well of me, even if I am a total bitch. You think well enough to tell me the truth, that’ll stand well with him.”

“But it could have gotten him fired, I mean I was trying to-”

“Drug your boss? Yeah I’m going to ignore that part because you came clean, and besides he only uses a tiny amount now, before, the first time he did it? I was so high I went out to the deli down the street and ordered sandwiches for everyone in the building …”

“Fuck …”

“You’re telling me, that was like five hundred chicken salad on rye!”

I busted out laughing at her expression, and her story. It was funny, and it was nice to see her smile again, the real one, like back in my apartment.

She sipped her drink and broke the big brownie in half.

“Eric, would you like some?” she asked, cheekily, a never before seen glint came into her eyes, and she was struggling to get the smile off her face.

“But there are files to -”

“Fine, more for me. I mean we’re not going to get baked on this, trust me, he knows better now, but it will chill us both out …”

“Is it why he’s always so -”

“Always …” she nodded, knowingly. “It helps his creative process … I guess.”

I nodded, suddenly a lot of shit made a lot more sense.

I walked over to the plate, and stole her fork, taking a tiny bit, and then taking the rest of my half.

“What are we doing?”

“I have no fucking idea, and for the next ten minutes, let’s just not care?”

I was with her on that.

“So you’re saying the next ten minutes or so don’t exist?”

She nodded, taking a bite, and then a sip, and somewhere in those few seconds, I found a hell of a lot of courage, because what I did next could have very well gotten me fired.

I walked up to her desk, I reached for the fork from her hands, and I placed it on the plate gently, before I cupped her face, moving as close to her as I could.

“What are you doing, Er-”

“Nothing that exists for the next ten minutes… right?”

She looked conflicted, and I was so close to losing my faux cool exterior, and then suddenly it happened again. Her lips were on mine, followed by her legs around my waist.

Best day at work, ever.


A/N: Hey guys! Still with me? I posted this last night on my blog, I’ll be leaving the url in the profile since alone with posting on time FF also hates links! Hope you enjoyed it, looking forward to hearing from you! xox


Chapter 8: Chapter 8


SPOV:

I was praising Jesus silently that I’d already had the shields up around my office that morning, because when Eric moved in for the kill, I was all but paralyzed to do much else other than respond in kind. Ten minutes, and because of my stupid rule it was ten minutes I couldn’t really protest to, since technically they didn’t exist … so I

just enjoyed it for what it was. Good old fashioned making out.

With my assistant.

I pushed that thought from my head, because assistant or not, he was a really good kisser. Sweet but sure, firm but not painful, and his hands just seemed

magnetically attached to my body, it felt great. Part of why it felt so great, I reasoned, was because it was wrong, and not something I’d probably ever do. Eric was

right, all my other assistants had been women, and as much as Pam would have liked, I just didn’t swing that way. He had a thing for my boobs. Most men were boob

men, even the gays, but Eric was especially interested and for a guy that had been single for as long as he’d said – he wasn’t even rough with the girls. Most guys

treated them like they were puzzles to be moved around and squished, and it hurt like hell most of the time, but not Eric. Which made that, his great mouth, and

theamounts of electricity between us, really hard to ignore, and beyond difficult to stop. But, I had to. This wasn’t the time, and it certainly wasn’t the place. When I gently pushed his hands down, off my body, he took the hint and stepped back. And my God did he look fuckable. I’d messed his hair up, his shirt was even more untidy than normal, and his lips were red and swollen. Not to mention the look of sheer lust in his eyes, and I’m sure I wasn’t much different.

I cleared my throat, “So um … that was …”

“Ten minutes well spent?” he said, smiling.

“Eric I don’t-”

“I know.”

“You know?”

“Yes, I know, you have enough on your plate right now, this was just … what it was. I’m not expecting anything out of this. I mean other than maybe an easier

afternoon because I feel a bit … odd.”

We weren’t totally high, it was impossible on half a brownie each, but between that and the sheer drug that was good kissing, we were both feeling a little light headed.

I smiled back, glad that there was no hurt feelings or no over complicated expectations.

“Good, great I mean, it’s great … and that was … nice.”

Was I feeling shy around him, really? After ten minutes of his obvious arousal rubbing against my thigh, with nothing but my stockings and his pants to protect us both,

maybe I didn’t have the right to be ‘shy’, but I sure felt it. Or maybe it was just awkward. I’d never made out with someone at work before, and it wasn’t a habit I

intended to continue either. Too many complications.

For the rest of the afternoon I’ll admit I couldn’t look him straight in the eye without blushing to some degree, and it seemed by the pink tinge in his cheeks, he was the

same.

“You look … better,” Lafayette commented as I looked over his photos for the next issue of the magazine.

“Hmm,” I said, ignoring what I was sure was a smug look on his face.

“Now Sooks, I hope you didn’t give him too hard of a time in there.”

“Excuse me?”

“Eric … for the brownie. I was sure he’d rat me out, but I guess -”

“He didn’t rat you out, but he did tell me. I guess he has a conscience, unlike some of my employees …” I glared, not fully serious, and I hoped he knew that by now.

“Baby girl, you both just needed to relax, and he did come out of that office looking … well … very relaxed.”

That twinkle in his eye let me know that he knew what was up, and yet he said nothing. He knew better.

“Is that right?”

“Mmmhm. You wouldn’t know nothing about that would you?”

I just raised by brow, not dignifying it with a verbal answer.

“You have a good night, Lafayette. I’m going home.”

“You do that Boss. See you at nine for Grans-”

“I’ll be here at eight.”

In truth I’d probably make it there after seven.

“Of course you will,” he rolled his eyes playfully at me, patting me on the shoulder as I passed him.

The weather had finally started to pick up, it had rained for a week almost. I was hopeful that maybe the change in the weather boded well for the meeting. I was

taking any sign I could get.

“Good night, Eric,” I said in passing as he was throwing his stuff in his backpack. Yes, his backpack.

“Good night. Hey, Sookie?”

“Yeah?”

“Don’t stress it, okay? She’s family, you can’t choose them, but there’s always hope it’ll never be as bad as you think it will be.”

He smiled, pushing his glasses up his nose – they were clearly too loose on him, and he needed an upgrade to stop his squinting when he read sometimes, but the

gesture was appreciated.

“Thanks. Fingers crossed. See you in the morning.”

He nodded, and I made my way home. I walked in to the empty apartment as usual, greeted only by Tina, my starving and grumpy cat.

“Hey girl, come on,” I said, lifting her up. “Didn’t Maxine feed you today, huh? Come on.” I looked around and noticed my cleaning lady had been, and Tina’s bowl was

still full of milk, and a little food.

“You’re not hungry huh? What is it then?” I walked to the couch putting her on my lap, as I switched on the TV, just to drown out the silence. “You lonely, girl? Is that

it?” She just cuddled into me.

I looked around the empty space again.

“Yeah honey, I know the feeling.”

EPOV:

I watched her walk into the elevator, and I watched the doors close. I wondered what she was going home to. I knew I was going home to cook dinner for a very fussy

five year old, but what was she going home to? I knew her schedule, hell, I organized it for her most days, and there was never a guy pencilled in anywhere. No dates,

no one on one meetings with men, so I knew she was single. So I knew making out with her wasn’t stepping on anyone else’s toes. Not that I assumed she was the

kind of girl to fuck around with a bunch of people. If she did, she’d maybe be a little more relaxed than she was. I didn’t regret making out with her again, but I did

regret not asking her how she felt about it. Logic told me by her reaction that she liked it, but what else that meant for doing it again, I had no idea. And I knew I didn’t

want to push it because there was a lot riding on the meeting with this elusive Grandmother of hers, not just Sookie’s job, but all of our jobs. If she went, a lot of

people went with her, and even though I hadn’t been there long, I’d probably have to question if I’d be one of those that would go out of loyalty – if they didn’t fire me

before I got the choice, that is. I checked my watch, Ames had the girls at her mother’s ’til seven. I was sure they’d be well fed by Nanna Marie (as Emily called her) but

I still wanted to be a some what responsible parent and get there before they’d come back. It was just after five, and I had something else I wanted to do first. For

Sookie.

“Laf? You busy?”

“Does I look busy?” He did, a little. He was inspecting more samples, and it was past working hours.

“I was um, hoping you’d help me with something? I can understand if you can’t, but-”

“What is it, Newbie?”

“The meeting tomorrow morning.”

“What of it?”

“I sorta … I don’t want to let Sookie down.”

“So? Arrive early … maybe wear a clean shirt.”

“That’s what I was hoping you’d help me with. I um, want to look respectable.”

That got his attention, and he put down his sheets, spun around on his stool, and nodded at me.

“Go on…”

“You know this stuff, you know what I should wear to make a good impression, right? I mean you know Sookie better than I do-”

“That’s debatable at this point, but carry on, yes, and I do know Gran better, too.”

“Does she really make you call her Gran?”

“Yes, only if she likes you, if not it’s Mrs. Stackhouse. But they do like a well dressed man, those Stackhouse women. And you … you could wear anything well.”

“Like what I have on?” I smiled, knowing he’d be annoyed.

“Eric, be better than the Gap, please? I’m talking Ford, Armani, Gucci, Prada, well-made things for well-made men. Be a well-made man.”

I nodded. “How do we do that?”

He smiled.

“You really want me to do this? I mean, this isn’t a joke? ‘Cause baby I’ve been dying to get you out of those clothes since the minute I saw you,” he said, a naughty

smile on his face. It sorta made me blush.

“Simmer down puppy, not like that. Well, a little like that.”

He dragged me by the hand into the wardrobe department, and we passed rails and rails of women’s clothes, stacks of shoes, everything and anything you could ever

need as a woman probably lived in that giant department.

“Not to insult you Eric, but you can’t choose your own clothes. I mean, they’re fine if you’re a student and all, but even then it’s pushing the boundaries of hipster

fashion.”

“I’m not a hipster. I’m just not wealthy, or well versed in ‘style’.” I finger quoted. He just rolled his eyes.

“Boy, you’ve been here closing in on three months. Haven’t you learned anything by now?”

We were now in the men’s sections, again it was lots of shoes, lots of ties and cuffs, and a lot of shirts, pants and jackets all around the room in meticulous order.

“I know I like this … and this and this.” I said, grabbing grey dress pants, a light blue shirt and a skinny black tie.

He raised his brows.

“Ford, Gucci and a Dior tie, oh, Sweetie!” he smiled. “There might just be hope for you yet! Right, come with me,” he said again, in a flush of excitement, and I swear I

almost saw him skip down the hallway.

“Elise, you still here?” he yelled.

“Yeah? What?” I didn’t really know the girl, but had seen her a lot in passing. She was hard to miss with her bright pink hair styled like a punk rocker, and her very

shiny lip ring. She was sweet though, and was one of the few that actually said ‘hello’ to me when I passed. Unlike Sophie and her crew, those bitches.

“We have a project. A very special, tall, and sexual project.”

I blushed as she shoved me into a makeup chair.

“I’m not wearing make up, Lafayette.” I protested.

“You, hush,” he pointed. “What do you think you could do with Eric?” he asked her, and I looked at her through the mirror.

She smiled.

“Oh, lots of things. Lots of lovely, lovely things,” she said as she came over and ruffled my hair, then started running her hands through it. It felt kinda nice.

“What are you d-doing?” I asked her.

“Sweetie, when was the last time you got your hair cut, properly?” she asked.

“Well, I went to Supercuts just-”

“Oh my God stop. No,” she said, looking appalled, holding her hands up.

“Is he serious?” she asked Lafayette and he just shrugged, grinning at me.

“How … why … how did Sookie hire him? You remember she sent the blonde chick home that one time because she walked in, in that hideous skirt, and just because it

had like a tiny hole because it was vintage – she was sent home! And she didn’t even make it from the damn elevator.” She shook her head, and then looked at me

again.

“Did you fuck her?”

“W-what? No!”

“Are you going to fuck her?”

“I … what?”

“Well, I just don’t get it. I had to work my ass off for this job and buy a ton of shit that I didn’t even want, and you walk in like a student on internship and you’re her

right hand man. It’s so weird. I mean, you’re nice, but if you were a woman, this shit would not fly.”

And now I was scared of her. I pushed my glasses up again, and looked her in the eye.

“I’m sorry she made you go through that. I don’t get why she hired me either. But I’m glad she did, and I don’t want to let her down in front of her Grandmother with

my ‘student’ style, so if you’re gonna work some kind of magic on me, can we get on with it?”

She raised her brows.

“Puppy has a backbone,” she nodded to Lafayette. ” I like him.”

I exhaled a breath I didn’t know I was holding.

“Let’s get started.”

SPOV:

I got up at six, hopped on the treadmill for a half hour and worked out my anxious energy. Everything was in order at the office, everything was in place, all she had to

do now was show up and be impressed. I loved my Gran, I really did, but she was even harder to please than I was. She always said that she gave a hundred percent

of herself to everything she did, and she felt cheated when other people didn’t do the same. She was a perfectionist, and had an amazing head for business, but her

trouble was that she always thought too small. I thought big. I took the company from a small national based business, to a world wide brand. That had to count for

something, right?

She was due at twelve, and I had Eric out of the office all morning covering the meetings and showings that I couldn’t – or wouldn’t make. He hadn’t come into the office

and I knew he’d be gone when she arrived. Half of me hoped he stayed gone, mostly because he was a nice guy. A nice guy who was good with his very large hands

and a sweet kisser, and I didn’t want my Gran digging into his fashion sense, or lack thereof.

Twelve came, and it went, and at ten past she sauntered through the doors, as if she owned the place.

Which, technically, I guess she still did.

“Sookie! Darling! The place looks amazing, when did you do it over?”

“About six months ago now,” I said, hugging her back as she squeezed me for dear life.

“Well, it’s incredibly chic, I love it. So modern, but so bright. You can see everything with the office like this! I’d never have thought of that.”

“It does help to keep an eye on everyone, that’s for sure,” I added as she looked around the office, and outside it via the glass walls. Everyone was scooting past,

looking busy, even if they weren’t.

“Fantastic, I love it. And how are you, darling? You’re looking well, have you lost weight? Not that you need to, it’s not like you’re a model, it’s acceptable to embrace

the Stackhouse rump, you know. I mean you get those breasts from my mother, that’s for sure. Your mother she barely had b-”

“I’m good, Gran, really good actually. Been working hard.”

She nodded. “Of course, as always, my love, you work yourself too hard.”

“Well, I love what I do. It’s not hard for me really, since I love it so much.”

Hinty hint, hint.

“I know that.” She took a seat – my seat, and admired my new desk and the comfortable chair.

“It certainly has upgraded since I was on the floor here, that’s for sure,” she nodded, more to herself than to anyone else.

“I have the archives, all the records, everything is ready for you to look over if you’d just-”

“I think we should go out. You and I.”

“Excus … what? I mean, well of course, but now? There’s a lot to get through, Gran.”

“I’m sure there is, Love, but I haven’t seen you since … My goodness can it be since New Year’s? That’s just unacceptable.”

It was, since it was early October now. She was right, I never made it home often, unlike the rest of the family.

“Yeah, but I’ve been busy, so I-”

“Couldn’t make it home, I know, I know. It’s the excuse always given, but we’re both here now and I’m sure the office will survive without you for one afternoon. I insist

we go to lunch. My treat, we can catch up.”

“But we’ll come back and we’ll look over the-”

“Yes, yes, the business will be inspected, that’s what you want. Now indulge me darling, and call a town car. I feel like something sweet today.”

I nodded and made it happen. Twenty minutes later we were in a town car on the way to one of her favourite little Italian cafes in mid-town. They did her favourite

desserts.

“Isn’t this just lovely? This is lovely,” she said as we were seated in the mildly posh, but somewhat family friendly café. It wasn’t raining, but we still asked to be seated

inside.

“Yes, it’s lovely.”

“Your brother is back from Hawaii with the kids. Crystal decided to stay on, but they’re visiting at the moment. I just love having those kids around, it brings me back to

when you and Jason were young. Life in the house again, I’ve missed it.”

I nodded, as I looked over my menu.

“That’s nice.”

“Sookie…”

I looked up at her. “Yes?”

“How are you, really?”

Weird, since she’d asked me that like a dozen times since she’d arrived, and yet, I answered again.

“I told you, I’m fine, really. Just busy that’s all.”

“Yes, Pamela tells me you’ve been too busy lately for much else other than work, that can’t be good.”

“Pamela … Pam? When were you talking to Pam?”

She shrugged, “I called her last week. We never see any of her these days either, it’s such a shame. Both of you working so much that the rest of your lives are being,

well, neglected.”

“Neglected … did she say that?”

“No, of course not. Pam is your best friend, she’d never throw you to the wolves, Sookie, but I’m not a stupid woman, I can read between the lines. And those lines tell

me that you’re almost thirty and painfully single. That’s just … well, it’s a little sad.”

“Sad? Gran, I’m a busy woman, I’m running a damn Empire for crying out loud!” I whispered, harshly though. “One that you’d know about if you’d let me show you the

figures like you were meant to.”

She sighed.

“Fine, if you must. Show them to me.”

“Well, I was going to, back at the office but you insisted we come here.”

“Well, can’t you just get your assistant to bring me the gist of it? I really don’t have the time, or the patience to look through hundreds of files and pieces of paper. Go

on, ring her, and have her bring them to us before the end of lunch. Will that make you happy? Since you’re so intent on talking shop.”

She shook her head, as if it was the most ludicrous idea in the world when in fact it was the whole damn reason for her ‘visit.’

Ugh.

I called Eric, and I told him what to bring and how fast to bring it. We were mid way through our lunch when he arrived.

Only he didn’t arrive like the Eric I knew and … well, just like the Eric I knew. No. instead I sat there, mouth agape as this … dapper, tailored, smooth lined man walked

up to our table.

“The files you requested,” he said, a small smile on his face as he looked at me. I was sure I looked like I was catching flies.

“W-what … how … who …”

“Sookie are you quite alright? Who is this?” Gran said, smiling, beaming almost, up at Eric.

He extended his hand, and holy shit someone gave him a manicure, and introduced himself.

“I’m Eric Northman, I work for your granddaughter. You’re Mrs. Stackhouse, I presume?”

She smiled again. “I am indeed, and who are you in my company, Eric? A buyer? A graphic designer?”

He smiled again, bashfully. “No Ma’am, I’m your granddaughter’s assistant.”

And with that Gran eyed me, and smiled.

“I see. Well this certainly does explain things …

What ‘things’, I wondered.

I spoke up, finally taking my eyes off Eric in an impeccably fitted Armani suit in a shade of grey that made me notice his eyes like I’d never done before.

Jesus Christ when did this happen? His hair was cut, and styled too, he even had on new glasses – ones that fit, and didn’t swallow his face.

“I…”

“Sookie, are you alright?” Gran asked.

I cleared my throat. “Um yes, I’m … I’m fine.” I looked at Eric again ,and he still had a half grin. He was clearly loving this.

“The records?” I asked him. “They’re all here?”

“Yes, all of the ones you asked for. Is there anything else before I get back to the office?”

He asked, ever so politely. I knew he was watching himself in front of my Grandmother. It was sort of sweet.

“No, that’s all,” I said, and we went to stand up.

“No, no, no, you’ve come all the way down here, you may as well stay for lunch,” Gran said, causing both Eric and I to look at her.

“What?” I said.

“Well, dear, it would be rude.”

Since when did she care about being rude to assistants? Had she had a lobotomy in the last year?

Eric looked to me, and I just shrugged.

“The spicy chicken is good here,” I said as the waiter came to take his order, and I talked Gran though six months of the companies rise. I could tell he was intimidated

by her, it was hard not to be. The woman had this presence that was hard to pinpoint, but it was there, and it was scary if you didn’t know her. Or even for me, trying

to sell myself to her, it was scary.

I was better with strangers. With strangers I could be the Ice-Bitch, I could march in there and demand that they give me what I want, it was the act I played well, but

I couldn’t do that with my Gran. I couldn’t just sit the woman down that had changed my diapers, and taught me how to sew, I couldn’t demand she give me the job I

thought in my heart that I’d earned. No. I had to be tactful.

“As you can see from the last quarter, the sales are up by thirty-five percent based next to that time the previous year. I really feel like the marketing campaigns and

the road that we’re taking, I really see that it’s working for us, and letting the brand run. It’s been amazing this year, it really has,” I said, and she nodded along,

pleased and smiling at times, loving the stories, and the tales of woe, and then it came down to it. I had to broach the subject or I felt like my head was going to

explode.

“Gran, let’s get down to brass tacks here.” As she used to say when we’d ‘beat about the bush.’

“And what’s that, Dear?”

“You know what that is. You’re passing on CEO to someone, and I want that someone … and more to the point YOU should want that someone, to be me. Jason as

President? We both know it’s in name only, we both know I do both our jobs, and he just sits his ass in Hawaii most of the year except for the office parties and a few

board meetings. I’m the one that’s taken control, and I’m the one that’s done the work, and I’m the one that thinks a job well done should be … well … rewarded as

such,” I exhaled, realizing I’d said all that in almost one breath. I noted Eric was nervously fidgeting with his napkin on the other side of the table.

Gran looked at him, then looked at me.

“You want to have this conversation with Eric here?”

I rolled my eyes, as if I gave a shit.

“I trust him to be discreet.”

“Yes, I’m sure you do,” she mumbled.

“Well? What’s your decision.”

She sighed.

“Honestly Sookie, you always were so impatient. It’s not one of your best qualities, you know that.”

“Gran.”

“Truth be told … I haven’t made a decision yet as to who I want to take MY company from ME.” She said, as pointed as anything. In fact it was so pointy I felt like she’d

stabbed me in the heart with it.

“I see.”

Eric again started to look around, as if for an exit, or maybe a sick bag. That suit though, Jesus, it looked good on him.

No, no distractions.

“So in this ‘decision’ making ‘process’ of yours, who exactly is in the running for YOUR company. Me and Jason?”

“Well, yes, and the rest of the grandchildren…”

My stomach sank. Claude didn’t give a fuck about fashion, he was too busy living off his trust fund and fucking every gay man on the Spanish coast, so that left Claudine.

She was the only one with any real interest in fashion, or journalism. As it stood she had a kid and a husband and lived most of the time in Connecticut, cutting her time

in the Hamptons, where she ran charities and events and all kinds of shit to do with horses and rich old people. The idea of her taking my job made me sick. Mainly

because she was just as ambitious as me, and could actually do it. Whereas Jason wasn’t, and shouldn’t have been competition.

“I see…” I said again, fidgeting myself with my glass.

“Now, Sookie, don’t pout on me. You’re a little too old for pouting.”

I was silent for a minute before Eric spoke up.

“Maybe I should be going…”

“No, you stay there,” I snapped, and then I looked at Gran. Apparently I’d reached my quota on bullshit for the day.

“I’m not pouting but I am upset, and can you really blame me?”

“Now, Sookie -”

“No, listen. I’ve worked my ASS off, literally at some points, for this job, for this company of yours, because I love it. I love my job, and I love what I do, and I do it

fucking WELL. You know it, and I know it, and half of the goddamn world knows it. And for you to sit there and tell me you haven’t made a choice? There shouldn’t even

BE a choice, Gran.”

Eric looked like he wanted to die, and honestly it was how I felt too.

“You’re getting emotional, Sweetheart.”

“Of course I am. Gran this job is my life and you’re threatening, ever so silently, to take that away from me!” I said harshly but discreetly.

“That’s the problem, love. That right there is why I’m hesitant. Your job, shouldn’t BE your whole life. You live to work and it should be the other way around.”

“So you’re punishing me for working hard, is that it? Yeah, sure, that’s logical,” I snapped.

“It’s not that, and you know it.”

“Then what is it?”

She sighed and turned to me fully.

“Sookie you do such an amazing job for me -”

“So then why -”

“But that’s not all you are. You are my employee, yes, but that’s not who you are to me. You’re my granddaughter first and foremost. You’re my favourite grandchild –

even though you’re not ‘meant’ to say that -” she said to Eric, “But you are, and you’re that first. You’re my Sookie. My Sookie, who liked to sew dresses for her dolls,

and then for her friends, and then even for me. My Sookie, who used to be so full of life, and promise for happiness, who everyone loved and missed when she’d be

gone. My Sookie, who had her pick of all the boys in the Hamptons, Louisiana and beyond, who had a social life so full you’d be spinning. Instead, now she’s chained to

a desk and I see her twice a year – IF I’m lucky. That’s not what I want for My Sookie.”

I hated that that made me want to cry, but it did. Team that with the stress and the possible rejection, and I was an internal mess.

“So then …” I cleared my throat, not looking at Eric. I didn’t need him seeing me like this. “What do you want, then?”

She looked skywards and then to me.

“I want you happy -”

“I am!”

“No, you’re alone, and lonely, and I could tell that five seconds after seeing you. I want you to … I don’t know, Sookie, have a fuller life. I want you to stop neglecting

your personal life in favour of your job. I want you to fall in love, be happy, find a man – or a woman if that’s your preference- to make you happy.”

“I’m not a lesbian, as much as Pam wishes I was.”

That got a chuckle out of Eric, who stifled it with his hand.

“I just don’t have time to date, or fall in love, and it’s New York, Gran. It’s not like it was when you were young, okay? Guys are different, the laws of dating are much

more complex, and I just don’t care enough to find ‘the one’.”

“Well, maybe you should care. Take the time, explore your options. I’d like to see you married some day soon, and I’d like grandbabies with your wit. Is that so much to

ask?”

“I don’t have the -”

“Well now you do.”

“Excuse me?”

“Yes, Jason is back and he’ll be covering your hours on Fridays and Mondays, so you have a four day weekend to … do with what you please.”

I felt my blood boil again.

“So, Jason waltzes back into town after seven months gone, and I’m just meant to roll over and take it? This is bullshit.”

“Sookie, I know you’re upset, but don’t you take that tone with me. I am still your grandmother, and I am not above giving you a clip around the ear when it’s needed.”

I looked at her, shocked.

“I can’t believe you.”

“Well, start.”

Her loving soft gaze was gone and now in place was pissed off Gran. I knew her well, too. I’d whined too much and she’d lost patience with me. Clearly I got my

impatience from her, as much as she hated that quality in me.

“When will you decide?”

She shrugged.

“I could say, when I feel like it, but I think if I did that your head would actually explode. I want you to live life a little, darling. If you come to me before your birthday

and tell me you’re with someone – someone who makes you happy, makes you smile, possibly makes you chocolate pancakes-” she smiled then, knowing they were still

my favourite, “then maybe I’ve taught you some balance. It’s all I want for you. Balance.”

“And if not?”

She just looked at me, her eyes unsure, and I knew. This was her version of an ultimatum.

“If you’ll excuse me,” I said, standing up fast and grabbing my purse. I looked at Eric and shook my head. I didn’t want him following me, not when I was this close to

crying. And that’s all I wanted to do. Go home, and cry.

“Sookie … Sookie don’t leave like this, I -” Gran said, but I ignored her and walked on.

I walked about a block before my heels started to pinch, forcing me to get a cab

home. Fuck work, they could manage without me. In fact, they’d probably have to get used to it, I thought. So I got home, I burst into tears, and then I pulled on my

cashmere pyjamas, and curled up on the couch to feel sorry for myself. I had no idea what I was going to do.


A/N: Okay guys, longer chapter but there was a longer wait in between too, it’ll balance out eventually I hope. FF is failing me constantly messing up my layouts and my look of a document, so I hope you’ll all check out my fiction blog! The link is in my profile, and it’s just a place to set up things the way I want them. Photos etc will be added belonging to the stories too. I like to set a scene 😀 So please check it out and say hello! Hope you enjoyed the chapter too! xox


Chapter 9: Chapter 9


EPOV:

The look on her face when I walked into that restaurant, it was priceless, it was awesome. It made all the poking and prodding by Lafayette and his evil helper worth it.

They’d all but strapped me to the chair when I was given an overhaul. They made me do a facial, and a manicure – which I swore them to secrecy about. They decided I

needed a close shave, but not too much, so a little scruff was left, thankfully, or I’d really have felt naked. Then came the tailoring, at which Lafayette was a master. He

knew my measurements without even having measured me, and thrust a dozen or so outfits in my direction. I had to admit, the clothes? They felt nice. You could tell

they were well made, and of course they fit better than my old clothes, and honestly, when I looked in the mirror I instantly felt better. I felt like a grownup.

I’d never admit to that either though. But they weren’t done with me. They demanded my prescription on my glasses as they rifled through boxes of glasses, settling

finally on black thick rimmed ones. I was told they were Gucci, and I really couldn’t have cared less. I was just happy I could see again, and when I did see I had to be

honest with them – even if they cut my hair – I really liked what I saw. Not only did I feel like a grownup, but I looked like one too.

Interesting.

What wasn’t so worth my make over – and making me an hour late for picking Emily up – was the summons from Sookie to the meeting that had now been moved to

some random place in mid-town. I arrived nervous, and spotted them and their tense body language a mile away. Her Grandmother did not look her age, that’s for

sure. I took her for early sixties, when I knew in reality she had a good ten years on that. Sookie though, she looked grey, and pissed. And then they wouldn’t let me

leave, which made things about a hundred times more awkward. I had to witness the woman that I’d come to know for her balls of steel, her high heels and her bitch

ass attitude, fall apart. I knew she hated this, it was written all over her face. Try as she might she couldn’t lie with her eyes, no matter how much she tried to hold

back. What her Grandmother was saying, what she was gently demanding, but demanding nontheless, ripped her apart. I wanted to speak up. I wanted to defend

Sookie and her mental work ethic. I wanted to tell the woman that her business and her bank account wouldn’t be what it was without her.

But I couldn’t because even thought it had only been a few months, I’d come to know that the last thing Sookie wanted was pity, or anything that could be seen as

pity. If I came to her ‘rescue’ of sorts, it would have only made matters worse.

So I sat there, and I witnessed it all, as well as her very dramatic, but classy exit. Leaving me with this strange woman that I knew next to nothing about.

She sighed and sat back in her seat when it was clear Sookie wasn’t coming back.

“That girl, I swear she’ll be the death of me. I was just trying to help her. I don’t know why she can’t see that.”

I was silent.

“Well, what are you thinking? I need someone else’s opinion here, was I too harsh?”

“Honestly, Ma’am … I know nothing about you and your relationship with Sookie, but in the three months that I’ve been working for her, I feel like I’ve gotten to know

her, at least a tiny amount. And yes, I think what you said, even though I could see you meant well, it just came across as …”

“As what?”

“Cruel. If I’m just being honest. Ma’am, she works herself so hard because she loves what she does. She loves it. I’ve never seen anyone take so much joy out of their

job before. She’s excited about every aspect of it. It’s tiring, sure, but she keeps going because she wants to make you proud, and more to the point she wants to

make herself proud. So she doesn’t have relationships, a lot of people choose their career over their love life, they turn out just fine.”

I don’t know where I got the nerve to speak up like I was doing, but I figured she was just some little old lady, and I could take her on.

“You don’t think I know that? That girl has made me a very rich woman with her decisions. I just don’t want her to wake up at forty or fifty and regret wasting her

prime years in an office trying to prove something when she has nothing to prove. I know she’s amazing, I know I love her regardless of if she was just a shop girl like I

was when I started. But, I want her to realize she can’t spend her life in an office for me, or for herself. She needs people. People need people.”

“With all due respect, Ma’am-”

“Oh child, enough with the ‘Ma’am’ already. You’re talking to me like a man, address me as such.”

“Adele.”

She smiled.

“With all due respect, Adele, you don’t think that Sookie doesn’t have her ‘people?’ You haven’t seen her since January if I heard correctly, and her brother … what does

he do? He’s meant to be superior to Sookie, and yet I’ve yet to meet him. She does all the work, and she does it well, and it seems to me that you’re punishing her for

doing that.”

She sat back in her chair, clearly with a head full of thoughts.
“She’ll hate me, Eric, but I have to stand my ground on this. I want her to remember what the rest of her life was like. She’s a young woman, she should be enjoying

these years. That’s why I’m stepping in. Jason will be back full time if I can help it, and I know Sookie hates having him ‘under her feet,’ but I stand by my decisions.”

“And I respect that, I just don’t think she’ll agree.”

“She’s stubborn.”

“I know.”

She smiled, “She gets that from me.”

I nodded.

“Are you sleeping with my Granddaughter, Eric?”

I almost spit out my water, seriously, why did everyone think that?

“No. Why do you ask?”

She looked me up and down. “You’re just her type. I mean, you were, last time I knew anything about her that was…” she said, pointedly. “Nice suit, good hair, tall. It

ticks some boxes if I recall, and I also recall her never having hired a male assistant before. So, I have to wonder if work is all you’re assisting her with.”

Lady had balls, that’s for sure.

I smiled. “I can say that I’m not, I can’t say that I don’t realize that she’s a beautiful woman though, Adele. She is. But, as she explained, she loves her work, and she

wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize that, including embracing the age old, but tired cliché of screwing around with the assistant.”

She laughed, a full on, hearty laugh.

“Professional, even to her own detriment,” she shook her head, and poked at her salad. “I want you to talk to her. If you’re not embracing the cliché with each other,

then maybe you know someone else that would be willing-”

“Adele, every man would be willing, she’s a beautiful woman, she’s smart, and she herself ticks a lot of boxes.”

“But?”

“But, it’s not what SHE wants. If she wanted it so badly, she’d change some things around, she’d try, she’d date – even bad dates. Believe me, I know the feeling.”

“What feeling?”

“Of knowing that if you don’t do something about it, you’ll end up alone. You’ll end up old and alone, and bitter, and twisted, but the unwillingness to change the bad

habits so that you can set yourself up to sift through the shitty dates, to maybe, just maybe, find that one that’ll stick. It’s too hard. Rejection, and or crazy girls from

Brooklyn.” She smiled. “It’s hard to want to deal with.”

She nodded again.

“Eric, I want you to go check on her.”

“I don’t know where she-”

“She’s gone home, to lick her wounds. Are you on good terms, you and her?”

“We are … I think. Most of the time,” I said. She got up, threw a lot of cash on the table, and we made our way outside. A car wasn’t necessary, we got a cab. I guess

Gran didn’t have the standards that Sookie had when it came to transport.

“Where are you going, Mrs…”

“Adele…”

“Adele,” I corrected.

“I’m going back to the office. It’s been a long time, and I feel like looking through all her hard work, since I’m sure she terrorized you all into making it perfect for my

arrival.”

“You have no idea,” I laughed.

“Oh, believe me, I do. You’re on good terms with her, I suggest pizza, something with cheese and ham. Oh and some kind of ice-cream. She’s not fussy on that, as long

as it’s not coffee. For a woman with such an addiction she hates coffee ice-cream,” she smiled.

“Oh … okay. But work, I have-”

“No, you have to go check on Sookie, that’s your job for today. I’m your bosses, bosses boss, Eric.”

I nodded.

“I could call you car instead of-”

“No, I like to live dangerously,” she winked. “Make sure she’s okay for me.”

And that I did. I showed up to her place a half hour later, a hot pizza in one hand, and some beers and ice-cream in the other. The beers were my idea, since I figured

we’d both need them after a day like that.

It was just after three when I got there. I buzzed the button on her very fancy building, and I was let in, but only to the lobby.

“Who is it?” she asked.

“Um, it’s Eric. Your door guy, he doesn’t know me.”

“Put him on the phone.”

I passed the phone to ‘Carl,’ a very round and snotty looking English doorman, who was insistent that ‘Miss Stackhouse didn’t announce’ me. So I was stuck with him

eyeballing me.

Whatever she said, it worked, and I was given my elevator key. Damn, talk about security. Even the elevator was nice. Clean, shiny, and didn’t smell like piss. It was a

nice change from my building, that’s for sure.

I got to her door, the Penthouse, naturally, and she answered it, looking like I’d never seen her before. Her eyes were red, and her nose too, and her mascara was

wiped around her eyes while her hair sat in a messy bun on top of her head.

“Ugh, what do you want, you should have just taken her back to the office.”

“She insisted that I come see you.”

“Oh, with food. So she thinks she can be a dick, and then send you to fix it. No thanks.”

“Can I at least come in? The pizza is burning my hands, and I’m pretty sure this fancy suit might get grease-”

With that, she let me in; I knew she liked the suit. She silently returned to where she had been sitting, on her big comfy looking bright white couch, while I silently went

about sticking the ice-cream in the freezer, and fixing us pizza and beer. Her apartment was massive, truly huge. There were stairs too, and I assumed there was more

than one story since we were the ‘penthouse,’ but there was still a lot of building space up there, I’d noticed. And there was a grey cat. She was perched on one of the

floor to ceiling windowsills, judging me from afar. She had a purple collar, and a bored expression. Not that cats had a whole lot of expressions though.

“Nice place,” I mentioned, casually, as I set the pizza down in front of her, and she looked at it, then at me.

“Cheese, ham, and bacon? Did she tell you that?”

“I guessed the bacon, but yes. Are you okay?”

“You didn’t have to come find me, you know,” she said, taking a bite of the slice.

“I know, but I kind of did. I didn’t want to spend the day with her, no offense,” I joked, and she just half smiled.

“Sookie, what she said back there…”

“I can’t even deal with her right now,” she said, her tone getting angry whereas before it was just sad. “I mean what the fuck was that? I mean, for real! Did someone

build a time machine; are we back in the motherfucking fifties? It’s ridiculous! I do a fucking good job for her company, better than her, and certainly better than Jason …

and what? She wants to just ignore how hard I’ve worked – and I have worked hard, Eric, I have worked my ASS off for her, and this is the thanks I get? A fucking

ultimatum? Get married; find a MAN to COMPLETE ME. I mean, what is this? Jerry Maguire? I swear she’s touched in the head, I don’t need anyone to fucking complete

me. It’s just … I can’t!”

“It was weird,” I admitted.

“Of course it was weird, I mean who does she think she is? My life is just fine how it is. I love my life. People love me! People want to BE me for crying out loud, but no,

that’s not enough for her, so I need a guy. I need ‘love.’ What does that even mean, anyway? Do you know what that means? I certainly don’t! It’s bullshit, that’s what

it is. Total, elderly, old ass, bullshit.”

She exhaled loudly. On her rant I guess she forgot to breathe.

“I don’t really think she expects you to get married tomorrow. I mean, she just wants you to have a fuller -”

“You don’t think my life is full? Have you SEEN my schedule? Of course you have, you type it out every week, you know what I do and how long I do it for, when in the

utter hell would I have time to fall in love?”
I nodded, agreeing with her, I got both sides of their intentions, however misguided both were. We ate silently for a few minutes, both of us pretending to be

engrossed in whatever reality show she had going on, shockingly it was about fashion. Then I spoke again, breaking the silence.

“I know I just think that if she thought you were happy, in your personal life … n- not happy then, just not so … single or… alone… that maybe she’d ease up? I really

don’t know why she made that her stipulation, but maybe if you just started dating someone that it would be better. If she saw it, and you, making the effort in that

area of your life, like you do for work.”

“I don’t have the time, or the energy to deal with dating bullshit. All the rules, all the waiting around, no. I can’t do that, not right now, I have too much to do.”

“If you don’t, this Claudine chick, walks into your job.”

“I am aware,” she snapped.

I wanted to help her. I hated her sad face, it didn’t suit her. She suited her usual air of confidence. It was sexy.

“Well I guess you better start dating or something then. I mean even if it’s not really great, in reality she doesn’t have to know that, she just has to know that you’re

expanding your life, as long as she sees the-”

“Wait, what did you just say?”

“I mean, if she thinks you’re happy, isn’t that the same thing? It’s what she wants, and it’s only until your birthday-”

“Oh, my, GOD. Eric, you’re a genius. You’re a GENIUS!” she said, hopping off the couch, and standing in front of her giant TV.

“Wait, why again?”

“Well, that’s just it, that’s IT. It doesn’t have to be REAL, she just has to THINK it’s real! Oh, my, GOD why didn’t I think of that?” she said, still pacing. I had no clue

what was happening.

“Think of what? I’m a little lost…”

“I don’t have to fall in love, I don’t have to bat my lashes and wait for a phone call, I can just… fake it.”

“Fake … a relationship?”

“Exactly! That’s it exactly. I just have to find someone, someone believable, willing, and able, and I just have to fake it for a few months until she gives in, signs

everything over to me and oops, suddenly we’re not in love and I’m free to run the business as I please! GENIUS!”

“Um, Sookie, I don’t know that that’s what I-” I did not say what she thought I said. I just didn’t.

“Please, it works all the time in Hollywood. Seriously, Tom Cruise for crying out loud, those bitches are on ten year contracts! I just need a few months!” She was riled

up. She was a woman on a mission, no longer feeling sorry for herself.

“I…”

“Okay, I need you to go to my files; the laptop is in my bedroom. And I need you to access the little black book. It’s a black file and everything, very easy to find. And on

that I need you to find me guys. There are a few that I know would be okay with this. One is an actor, so that won’t be hard for him; it’ll be the role of a lifetime! The

other two are in the business, and that’s how I know them, but they’d be willing, for the right price I guess, one would for the promotion I could give his business

alone. Go…”

“Where is your-” I asked, walking up her large staircase.

“Second on the right,” she yelled, frantically scrolling through her phone for whatever reason.

Her room was immaculate, not that I expected anything else really. It was also spacious, and designed within an inch of its life. Everything was neat and tidy, but it

smelled like her, and it felt like her, and there was a desk full of photos I was tempted to nosy at, but I decided against it. In the few I glanced at though, she looked

happy. Different from how she was now, I noticed.

I gave her what she asked for, and suddenly we were through the pizza, and a couple of beers, and we had a list of six guys we had to ‘screen’ in the next week, as

dates, for her.

I was baffled, truly baffled by her project, and her stubborn refusal to trying things the old fashioned way.

“I can’t, Eric, I just don’t have the time. I never have the time, and honestly I’ve been fucked over a few times, and I have no desire to go through that again.”

“We’re not all bad,” I said, defending my gender, or at the very least, defending myself.

She stopped her frantic typing then, and looked at me. We were seated next to each other, but a comfortable distance apart.

“I know that,” she said, gently. “And I don’t mean to … dismiss you, or the kisses …”

“Then what?”

“There were … very nice,” she blushed a little, and I liked that. It wasn’t something I saw from her often. “But that’s not what this is about. This is business. I can’t get

emotionally attached about this. This is for her, not for me.”

“And going to a bar, doing it the old fashioned way-”

“Time,” she answered.

“We could go right now; my friend Sam owns this great place in Brooklyn,” I half joked.

“It’s easier this way. There will be a contract, there will be obligations, and when the contract is up, no one’s feelings get hurt,” she shrugged, as if it made perfect

sense, and I guess in her shoes, it did.

“If you say so.”

“I do. I just need her to sign the damn contracts, Eric. She knows it’s for the best, she’s just digging her heels in whatever way she can, for whatever reason. I do this,

I secure my job, my future, and yours too, if you want to keep your job. If we all do…” she sighed.

She was right, no one knew what happened if or when Sookie was passed over. I didn’t know her brother or how he operated, and chances were he didn’t want a

dude as his assistant. It would be weird, I guessed. Or if that Claudine girl took over, I didn’t even know any of those people. Hell, I barely knew Sookie, but it felt like I

did. And for that reason I decided again that I didn’t want to let her down, and I went about setting up fake dates for men to become her fake boyfriend, all the while

questioning why I couldn’t just find the courage to ask her out myself.

They would be a disaster from start to finish of course, which led me once again to stepping up for Sookie, only this time it caused a hell of a lot more trouble than a

simple makeover.


A/N: 😉 And so… it really begins!

Just a tiny rant though, I’m beyond frustrated with FF lately guys, it never uploads my chapters as I intend them to look, and everytime I attempt to fix the layouts, ugh, it just makes them worse. To see how pretty this story looks (and how much more sense it makes) formatted the way I want please vist/follow/come say hi! at my blog. The link is in the profile. Or it’s ! See you there (chapters get posted there first! Don’t be afraid to speak up! xox


Chapter 10: Chapter 10


SPOV:

It was a week later, and things had calmed down considerably at work. An issue of the magazine had gone out, the next one was broken in and things were looking

smooth – so far at least. There were no major meeting, no major showings, so things were quiet, in one aspect at least. In that week I’d done a considerable amount

of freaking out, crying, and all around bad decision making. I was, after all, on the hunt for a fake boyfriend, and I’d never had a fake boyfriend before, so needless to

say the path was one less travelled. I’d tasked Eric with finding me the names and numbers of those that I deemed a suitable match, as a fake boyfriend, of course.

We’d come up with four initial men, and I’d taken the liberty of calling each of them and arranging a ‘meeting’ slash ‘date’ with them. So my Tuesday through Friday

nights were covered for that week until I found ‘the one’. It was strictly business of course.

But, the initial meetings were to gage if these guys would be up for bearding for me, or lipsticking, whatever the female version of a fake significant other was, I needed to know if it was something they’d be up for. It also meant that Eric

was on overtime, time that I was paying him generously for might I add, to assist me on these days. What can I say, it was his genius idea, and I needed a second

opinion, a guy’s opinion, and he was that guy. I also needed his note-taking skills. I would talk them up, and he would write it down, and then I’d decide. I knew I had

to be extremely careful about this. Confidentiality agreements, contracts … it all had to be above board, of that I would be sure. But for the first stage, I had to just find

a guy I wasn’t repulsed by who I’d be able to pass off, and thus create the illusion of normality for my family, and secure my job – as well as the job of countless others.

I was stressed out, not only had I to do this, but I had to keep it a secret from my friends … one friend in particular, Pam.

“And she said that? I can’t believe she said that. I mean, Jesus, what does she want from you more than to do your job!”

“I know, it’s why I was so thrown; it had nothing to actually DO with the business, at all! It had to do with my personal life, or … you know, lack thereof. But, we’ll bitch

about it later.”

“Why later?” she asked, looking up from her take out sushi. I’d called to her place in mid-town before the first ‘date,’ since we were all meeting there anyway.

“Oh, I have a date,” I said, hugging her and putting my coat back on.

She raised her brows, but didn’t get off her couch. “Is that so? I thought you’d broken out the Dolce dress for a reason, and let’s face it, I’m just not that special. Who is

he?”

“You don’t know him, hell, I barely know him, but there will be a phone call later with more details,” I promised as I bent over to kiss her on the cheek goodbye.

“Tell Talia I’ll be over on Sunday, if she’s making her famous roast.”

“Will do, be safe okay?”

Pam was rarely sincere in front of company, but one on one, she was my bestie, and always had my back. It made lying to her so much harder than to anyone else. But,

I had a lie to sell, and to sell it to everyone, no one could know.

At least that’s what I told myself.

Eric called me to tell me he was waiting for me outside the restaurant. I’d picked a really nice place, a French/Italian on 36th. When I got out of the car, there he was

standing in the rain with a new coat, an add to the collection I’d noticed over the past week. This was Burberry, and it looked like it was made just for him, and for

snuggling, but, mostly for him. He looked good, I can admit that. I can also admit to being somewhat softened by why he did what he did, for me. Lafayette had told me

the earnest tale of why he had his little makeover, and I couldn’t help but find it incredibly sweet. Of course I chastised myself right away, he was my assistant, he just

liked his job, he just wanted to keep his job… it had nothing to do with the fact that we made out pretty heavily, twice.

No, nothing. Absolutely not.

“Who is this one again?”

“Um,” he looked at his iPad as we sat there with our respective drinks, waiting on the ‘date’ to arrive.

“John Quinn?”

“Right, Quinn, he owns this amazing little party planning, events business, it’s really up and coming. We featured them in the magazine a few months ago after I found

them for Pam’s birthday party.”

Eric just nodded.

Quinn arrived, fifteen minutes later – not a great start on his report card might I add – I was a stickler for time keeping. He also raised a brow or two at Eric on our

‘date’, until I explained to him exactly what the situation was. More than once. He wasn’t so smart, Quinn.

“So like you want me to do you and him?” he asked, his Bronx accent as thick as his head.

“No, there will be no doing of anyone, it’s just…pretend,” I sighed. Third time lucky, maybe?
Eric looked pissed, but he refused to get involved, instead sitting, taking his notes, silently. His judgemental stares though, those I could have done without.

“Babe, come on now, we know there’s some chemistry here… I think that if we were to stop pretending all this ‘contractual’ stuff, we could really have something,

what’aya say?”

I just glared.

“Thanks Quinn, it’s been real. We’ll be in touch,” I said, ending things as swiftly after that as I possibly could, then paying the bill and getting into the town car.

“Disaster,” Eric said. “I don’t know what I’m doing here, Sookie, if this is what this week is going to be like – watching guys ogle your goodies, then I’m not sure I have

place here.”

“You ogle my … you do your own fair share of that, don’t pretend.” I refused to use the term ‘goodies’.

He just smirked and scrolled on his pad.

“Not Quinn, I don’t even need to see the notes, he was not … the one.”

“Damn straight. Your Grandmother wouldn’t buy him anyway, he’s not really your type.”

“And you think you know my type?” I asked looking him straight in the face.

“No, women are … fickle.”

“And men aren’t?”

“I didn’t say that, it’s just your Gran mentioned you liked … well … tall guys, who maybe could wear the hell out of a suit or two,” he smiled, smug.

“Did she now? What else did she say?”

“Not much … just that. So, I knew him and his ‘Babe’ would be a bust, sorry.”

Ugh.

“I hated that. Who addresses people like that, I mean am I a talking pig? Do you see the gruff farmer anywhere? No, so don’t do that,” I said, to no one in particular,

making Eric laugh.

“It was pretty cringe. I mean come on, do better dude, you’re bald, and that’s mostly fat, not muscle … it doesn’t help his cause.”

I smiled.

“Who’s next?” I sighed, sitting back.

“A Mr William Compton, fashion guy?” he said, reading the list.

“Yeah, Bill. I met him at the Met ball a few years ago, he’s fine I guess, eternally single, sort of weird, but he’d be doing this for the promo it would get his business if

the rags found out about us, which I’d assume he’d make sure they would.”

“And you’d be okay with that? Everyone thinking you were dating this guy?”

I shrugged, “I normally don’t’ give a shit what people think. This is a means to an end, nothing more.”

He shook his head.

“What? Don’t get all judgemental on me now, this WAS your idea.”

“This so, SO, wasn’t my idea.”

“It was a little bit at least. And besides, it’s only for a few months, then my birthday is after Christmas, and bam, breakup and boom, full time safe employment with a

business that will be fully mine to do with as I please. Win, win.”

Okay so that was me over simplifying every aspect of it, but the way I saw it, it was a good idea, and if I executed it right things could go back to normal in no time.

Something that I couldn’t do if I actually started to ‘date’ someone for real, a concept lost on my assistant.

“I don’t know why you just can’t go out to a bar and-”

“You know why, we’ve had this conversation like a thousand times this week, Eric. This is the best way, end of story.”

“I just don’t get it you’re a hot, successful woman. It won’t be that hard-”

“Well, why don’t you do the same then? Go out to some random bar, and meet some random girl who you know nothing about, who you think is hot, but could be

totally insane on the inside. Do that and tell me how it works for you. How’s it been working for you?” I countered, tired of his judgemental tone.

That shut him up, and he sat back and decided to glare out the window at the passing city. We dropped him off, and without a word he exited the car, still pouting.

Sometimes I thought I worked with a bunch of toddlers!

EPOV:

It had disaster written all over it, anyone could see that. But she was so in the zone of this little mission that there was just no getting through to her. I didn’t know

what exactly she had against attempting something real with someone, but she was firmly against it; nothing I said changed her mind. We’d avoided the subject of us.

The obvious attractions were there, but I guess neither of us knew if it went beyond drunk or semi – high kisses. We didn’t know because neither of us were really all

that willing to find out. I could blame her. I could say she was being an idiot and too cautious, but in truth I was being the same way. The ultimate rejection wasn’t

something I was prepared for, and I knew she would reject it because it would be too close to sane, and normal an idea for her, I realised.

Bill Compton was date number two, and disaster number two. He was self involved to the point where I questioned if we were on some punk reality show being filmed.

He constantly referred to himself in the third person or if he wasn’t doing that he was referring to himself as ‘one.’ Oh, and if he made one more disparaging comment in

my direction, I was pretty sure I was going to smash his face through the wall … and we were only on the second course.

“Sookie, one can see why one is making such a commitment, contractual or otherwise, it makes perfect sense. One cannot be too safe these days, especially when

one’s wealth and career is at stake,” he said, swirling his wine. I just glared at Sookie.

“Yes, Bill, thank you, at least someone understands…” she said to him, but clearly it was meant for me.

“Bill cannot believe that your Grandmother would be so unreasonable. Really. it’s unheard of, in this day and age.”

“So is referring to yourself in the third person,” I mumbled, and Sookie kicked me under the table.

“Yes. Very unreasonable,” she said.

“Well. I think that if you need a man to fulfil this rather exciting role, Sookie, I could very well be that man. You and I get along… I’d always thought so, which is why I’m

a tad confused as to why there is the need for the assistant.”

Yep that was me, ‘the assistant’ not, ‘Eric,’ or ‘that guy,’ no, I was simply defined by my job title. Nice, right?

Yeah, real nice.

Sookie didn’t correct him either, all of the six times he did it, and that just pissed me off further.

“Well this will be solely a business transaction, Bill, it won’t be personal at all,” she clarified.

“And what would I be getting in return for such a service,” he said, leering at her. She missed it though, as she pulled out her own iPad.

“Yes, of course. Well, there is the initial fee of twenty-five thousand dollars.” I almost choked on my drink. That was new, last I heard it was ten!

“Then of course there will be accommodation supplied if it’s needed-”

“I live in the city. Upper East. That won’t be necessary,” he commented, sipping his wine like the big girl he was.

“Great. There’s also the promotional value, for you in particular.” That got his attention.

“How so?”

“We can run your brand advertising for free for the next six issues.”

“Is that so? How many-”

“Three pages, full.”

He raised his brows, clearly impressed. “And there would be no other contractual obligations … physically.”

Can he just ask if he’s being paid to fuck her, like a normal person?

“No, Bill, it wouldn’t be like that at all, strictly business, strictly for show.”

“Hmm. That is a pity,” he smirked. I hated his smirk, it was creepy.

We were all silent as the waitress cleared out table, and I thanked her. She smiled at me, she was cute. At least someone was being nice to me, I thought.

“When do I sign?” he asked, sitting back in his chair.

“Oh, well, you don’t, not yet. Not until I’ve made the final decision, and seen all the candidates,” Sookie clarified, and I hoped she was back peddling and that she hated

him, because really, if I had to look at this guy for the next few months, I might have had to quit.

“I see. Well, Sookie, when you decide it’s me, I’ll expect the call.”

As always, Sookie took care of the bill – the actual dinner bill, not the douche bag Bill. Which, as a guy, I felt uncomfortable with, so I didn’t really understand how they

could just shrug it off like it was nothing. Sure, I didn’t take my dates to restaurants where dinner costs more than rent, but I always made sure it was somewhere nice,

and I always picked up the tab, no matter how broke I was. It was just how I was raised.

Silently, we left, and as soon as we got into the car she turned to me.

“You hated him, didn’t you?”

“Honestly? He’s twat. So … yes.”

That made Hoyt laugh, which pissed Sookie off enough to put up the screen.

“He’s so nosy,” she commented on Hoyt. “Bill wasn’t so bad though, I mean he was better than John Quinn…”

“Which isn’t saying much, is it? I mean, come on. The constant ‘one must’ bullshit, and the fake British accent sliced in with that southern accent? I mean, what’s he

aiming for here? And all that shit about ‘the help’, I mean I just didn’t think you’d-”

“That I’d what?”

“Want to date, or even fake date such an out and out snob,” I shrugged. “I thought you were above all that, but clearly if Bill is someone you can see yourself with,

even fake dating, then maybe I was wrong. Maybe he’s perfect for you.”

Passive aggressive, sure, but at the time I was mostly just confused and angry, which made me even more confused because I didn’t know why I was angry.

She turned and looked out the window, “I’m not a snob.”

I just laughed.

“I’m not. You see, you’re doing it again, confusing class with snobbery.”

“Really? Am I? And why is that? Because I’m just some assistant? And an assistant couldn’t possibly know shit about being classy, could he?”

“Not when he uses shit as a pronoun, no.”

“You’re really doing that thing…”

“What thing?”

“The thing when you can’t win an argument, so you just start correcting someone’s grammar instead, nice.”

She just turned to the window again, “I don’t think we need you for tomorrow night,”

“Good.”

“Good!” she said, not looking at me, but clearly fuming. We spent the rest of the car ride to my place in silence, just like the night before.

Sometimes I really hated my job.

I got home to the smell of baking, to find Ames, Taylor and Emily in the kitchen, the latter two covered in flour.

“We’re baking!” Emily said as I gave her a kiss on the cheek.

“I can see that, hey Tay.”

“Hi Eric,” Taylor said, still smushing something in a bowl.

“Was there any trouble with her?” I asked Amelia.

“Nope, we’ve been baking for about an hour or so. They’ve both been surprisingly calm tonight.”

“Good, great. Thanks.”

She just nodded her head.

“Sam and Trey will be here in a bit. You look stressed,” she said, washing her hands, and then joining me with a beer on the couch as the girls continued to smash fruit.

“I am. I hate my job.”

“Ah, one of those nights, huh? What does she have you doing at the office so late this week?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Oh, I have something for you,” I said, going to the closet. “They sent this into the office a month ago for the magazine to review it

or something, I don’t know, but Sookie doesn’t want it, and I’d rather you have it than Sophie.” Who was being weirdly nice to me lately, it was worrying.

“What is-” her mouth went agape.

“You like?”

And then there was squeezing and squealing. I guess a Mulberry does that to a girl. Personally, I just saw a normal shaped messenger bag, why did it have to cost

four thousand dollars? Ridiculous!

“I have to say, Eric, you might hate your job tonight, but I fucking love it!” she whispered, hugging me again. “Seriously, you know if I sold this how much I could get?”

“About four grand?”

“Shut up! Seriously? No!”

I nodded.

“I would never, it’s too pretty, oh it’s so pretty… but really, four grand?”

“So the tag said. Go nuts, I mean sell it if you want, I won’t be offended ,I promise.”

“I… couldn’t… but wait, why don’t you sell it, I mean…” she looked around the apartment. “You could use the extra cash.”

I smiled, “Sweet, but you know I’m holding out for a new place anyway.”

“I heard Mrs Anderson from 8G is moving to Florida to be with her son…”

“So did I. That apartment is great, and it has a big balcony too, an actual view. I don’t want to move too far, so it would be perfect.”

She shrugged.

“What?”

“Nothing, I just thought with your new fancy wardrobe, you’d maybe want to ‘move on up’, you’re wearing Gucci, Eric.”

“I am aware, and you’ll also be needing to know that it’s not mine. It belongs to the job. As do the other suits I have. They’re ‘on loan’ sort of. It’s hard to explain.”

“If you didn’t give them back would you get in trouble?”

“No… not really.”

“Then they’re yours.”

Two hours later the girls were asleep, and there we were just sitting having some beers and some chat. Sam knew Trey from years of working in the bar, and

construction together, then Sam bought a bar around the corner, and I’d met him through Trey. They were good people.

“And she’s just fake dating them?” Ames asked.

“Trying to, but she’s really fussy so I don’t know why she’s doing it to be honest. But she’s against real dating right now, it’s too messy, or whatever.” Three beers later

and I was still pissed at her.

“I guess it makes business sense. She really wants her job, and relationships are messy, too many emotions. I see her point,” Ames shrugged, switching the channels.

“But… what’s wrong with real dating?” Sam asked.

“My point!” I said. “But I guess her ‘messy’ is costly, not just to her but to everyone else that works for her. I don’t like it, but it is what it is. They’re all assholes though,

so far.”

“Who’s next?”

“Oh, I’m not ‘required’ tomorrow night. I guess being honest with her gets you shut out.”

“Butthurt much, man?” Trey said, and I rolled my eyes.

“She seems like a complex woman…” Sam added, “that you’re totally hot for.”

This caused Amelia to smile,.”I think so too, I mean look, you even got all sophisticated for her.”

“I didn’t get sophisticated for her, technically I got it for her Grandmother, I was scared she’d fire me if I showed up in what I usually wear, okay?”

“So you’re hot for her Grandmother?” Trey added with a smirk, and I threw a peanut at him.

“Shut the fuck up, I am not. Besides, you said you liked the clothes, Ames. If I recall, you said you wished Trey would make such an effort sometimes, too.”

Trey glared at Amelia, who then glared at me. At least it got off the topic of Sookie.

“Eric Northman, I swear to god had you not just given me a Mulberry bag you’d be in the shit.”

“You love me, Ames, its okay to admit that. Trey just has to learn to-”

I got slapped with a pillow.

Walking Emily to pre-school the next morning was good for me, it blew off the cobwebs, and it informed me that I had a bit of a hangover; my tolerance for alcohol was

zero these days.

“Can we get waffles? We’re early…”

“You refuse cereal or eggs, and now you want waffles?”

Waffles did sound good.

“Please? Pretty please?”

I checked my watch, and you know what? I could be late. Until she called shrieking at me that is.

Twenty minutes later, we walked the last block to Emily’s school with her on my shoulders, her informing me she was doing art today, and that she liked art, and that

she wanted to draw dresses, so that maybe she could show Sookie them, sometime. Needless to say, Emily was all kinds of enamoured with Sookie, and I got it, I did.

To a little kid she’s this amazing fancy grown up who looks at pretty dresses all day, what’s not to love? In reality, I knew the truth.

The whole day at work was silently awkward to say the least, even Lafayette noticed, and I got odd looks from the girls from personnel, too, and of course Sookie was

in a foul mood. Her bad mood meant hell for the rest of the office, and we’d managed to get through the whole day without her saying one word to me that wasn’t an

order of some kind, and I managed to get through the day without killing her.

“Alcide Herveaux.”

“Excuse me?” she asked, looking past her laptop to me.

“That’s the guy, you’re meeting him at eight in-”

“I do know this you know, I was there when we came up with the names, and I have made the necessary phone calls.”

Bitch.

“Fine.”

“Fine, you can go now,” she said, as Lafayette walked in.

“God damn, it’s only the start of October, but damn, is it snowing already ’cause there is one hell of an ice freeze in this office,” he smiled, and I simply glared.

“What do you want?” she asked, and he just looked at me.

“What’s wrong with you two? Are you fighting? Why the faces?”

“What do you want, Lafayette?” she demanded, and he gave in.

“Signatures, if you please and I guess less yelling.”

She just sighed, and snapped the papers out of his hands. I held my hands up to him, and left. It was after five, I was done, and she could deal with her fake!date all on her own. She was a big enough girl, she was a bitchy enough girl, and I found it hard to believe she couldn’t handle herself. I refused to feel guilty about it, she was a grown ass woman, why should I? I thought, as I dragged my ass home.

No, Sookie Stackhouse could handle herself and her own problems – problems SHE was creating, all by so I thought, until she showed up at my door at three am, wasted, and reading me the riot act.

Did I mention that I hated my job?


A/N: Again, just to gripe on but FF really NEEDS to stop fucking with my layout, and it won’t change no matter what I do. So tired of it! It looks ugly, and is so much less appealing to read! To read it right, and how I want it to look please check out my blog – Myfictionalmusing . wordpress . com. Thank you guys so much for the reviews and your thoughts on it, it means a lot! xox


Chapter 11: Chapter 11


SPOV:

The dinner with Alcide went horribly, if I was being honest. Initially there was nothing wrong with him, his manners, his speech pattern, nothing. He wasn’t annoying or pompous, and he wasn’t a pervert either, only interested in my breasts – though he did look a time or two. He was good, he was normal.

The problem was, he was also incredibly boring, and he silently detested what I did, even if he didn’t know it yet.

“I mean they’re just dresses, and skirts, you can get them anywhere, you know? I just don’t see the point in being so over the top about everything and everyone that calls them a designer. This isn’t art, you know.”

I violently disagreed, and the ‘gentle’ argument meant I consumed a lot more wine than I normally would – two bottles each by the time the cheque arrived, if I recall. We disagreed on everything, passionately, and when we weren’t disagreeing, I was completely bored. Why did he work for a fashion house if he hated fashion? I just didn’t get it. He was a good looking guy, fresh out of a bad relationship, more than willing to put up a front for twenty five grand plus the perks. But I wasn’t. Not after all the wine, not after the three shots either, and not after he tried to kiss me in the car and I all but threw him out, on the bridge. It was a disaster, and I hated that Eric was right about this. It may have been his accidental idea, but my execution of it was far from perfect. I was drunk, extremely drunk, a lot more drunk than I’d been since college. The stress of work, and attempting a pre-arranged personal life, teamed with a lot of booze finally hit me, as I hit Brooklyn. I didn’t know anyone else that lived there, only Eric, and it was him I’d gone to see. Or more to the point, to yell at.

Don’t ask me why, it had made perfect sense to me at the time. It was all his stupid idea, and now it was backfiring on me, and I was mad. That’s as far as I got, when I got to his front door at just before three am.

“You!” I said, pointing at him, as I took off my shoes. “This is all your fault!” I said, yelling.

He looked shocked, and half naked, but mostly shocked, his newly shortened hair was sticking up all over the place too.

“What the hell are you doing-”

“Here? I’m here to tell you that you suck. This was all your idea and now? Now it sucks!”

He folded his arms at me, a pissed look on his face, as I stood there in the hallway barefoot.

“Is that right? So you can’t verbally abuse me enough during working hours, now you’ve decided to come to my home and do it too.”

“Yes. That’s it exactly. Just a horrible idea. HORRIBLE.”

“Yeah, so you said, and if you’d recall, it wasn’t REALLY my idea. It was a throw away comment that you took and ran with.”

“Psh, no I didn’t…”

“Yes. You did.”

“Well, it’s still your fault. Seriously what even! I can’t fake date someone because they’re all losers or creepers, I mean, seriously or really, really BORING. Eric, this is all your fault!”

He lifted my shoes and put them inside his door, and stood aside and invited me in.

“If you’re going to yell at me, I’d rather the rest of the neighbours not know about it.”

I wobbled through the door, his walls were my friends to keep me upright. I looked around his softly lit apartment, and sure enough he did sleep on the couch because there were pillows and some blankets. Even in my drunken state I felt kind of bad for him.

“Alcide was a dud more than a stud, I take it?” he whispered.

“YES. Idiotic, and he was just so judgemental!”

He smirked, “Sounds right up your alley if Mr Compton and his ‘one must’ is anything to go by.”

I just rolled my eyes.

“Eric this is just not funny. If I don’t sell this to my Gran, I’m done!”

He took my hand and dragged me into the kitchen.

“What he hell?”

“I’m going to need you to keep your damn voice down.”

“Why?”

“There is a kid asleep in there, and I swear to you if you wake her up, I’ll throw you out. My boss or not.”

That shocked me, but I shut up.

“Jesus, fine. Touchy…”

We didn’t talk for a minute or so, I just sort of leaned against his wall, as he waited for the water in the kettle to boil.

“You want a coffee? Seems like you could use one, or three,” he commented, looking over at me.

“Please.”

He nodded, and soon I had a cup of hot loveliness in hand.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do. I can’t lose my job, I just can’t. I don’t know who I am without it … and without it, I’ll have far too much time on my hands to worry about the fact that I’m thirty, unemployed and fucking single to boot!”

“Voice. Down,” he warned again. I was drunk and drunk equalled loud. Louder than usual.

“Fine! Jesus, what’s the big deal!”

He rolled his eyes then, “The world doesn’t revolve around you that’s what.”

“Excuse me?”

“Look, it took me ages to get her to sleep tonight, alright? So I don’t want her waking up again.”

Oh.

“What’s wrong with her?”

He shook his head, sipping his own coffee.

“What?” I asked again. Apparently drunk me was a lot more impatient than usual me, which is saying something.

“It’s nothing, okay? Look, you can just sleep on the couch or whatever, or I can call you a car if they come out this late … or early …”

“Eric, what’s wrong with her?”

“She was just a little … weepy, that’s all. It’s our parent’s anniversary and I guess it hit her hard again. I don’t know, she wouldn’t really talk about it, but she just … misses them, and there’s not a whole lot I can really do about that, you know?”

I nodded.

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t.”

“Don’t what? I mean it.”

” I know you do, that makes it worse. I don’t really want to talk about this, I’m tired, so if you’re staying, stay, and if you’re going, go.”

So he wasn’t in the mood for pleasantries, I understood that.

“I don’t want to go home,” I admitted.

He just shrugged, “Fine, come on then.”

The next thing I knew I was laying on his couch and he was in the arm chair. It felt really unfair.

“You could sleep here too, I’m not that huge. You’d fit in here somewhere…”

“It’s fine,” he grumbled, pulling a blanket around him and closing his eyes. The room, dimly lit in the soft orange glow of the street lamps shining through the window, allowed me to see his face.

“But…” I said.

“Sookie just go to sleep.”

“I feel bad. I stole your couch bed. Please come and sleep here. I’ll take the chair even.”

“Can’t do that. Just sleep.”

“Eric… Eric…Eriiiic….Errrrrriiic…” I whispered.

“Ugh, Jesus, shut up!”

“Come sleep here then! You’re too big for that chair.”

He mumbled something that I couldn’t hear, and the next thing I knew he was standing by the couch.

“Fine, scoot over then.”

“Are you going to be the big spoon?” I laughed.

“Shut up and move.”

“Someone’s grouchy…” I giggled.

“Yes, because my crazy ass drunk boss woke me up at ridiculous a.m., and I’m tired.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Shush, okay, just go to sleep.”

He somehow managed to get himself behind my back, and get the blankets over both of us. But he clearly didn’t know what to do with his hands, so I moved them around my waist.

“In case I fall out,” I said and he just grumbled.

“Eric…?”

No answer for a second or two.

“What?” he snapped.

“I’m sorry about your parents. It sucks, I know, but … I’m just sorry, okay?”

He was silent again for a little bit, until he pulled me closer, as close as we were gonna get without it being awkward, and held on tight.

“Yeah, me too,” he said quietly.

The next thing I remember is being woken up by the sounds of clattering pots, traffic outside, and the strong evil rays of the sun.

And a hangover from hell.

I stumbled into their small kitchen to find Eric at the stove, and Emily at the table.

“Hey Sookie! You’re here! Eric said I had to be quiet ’cause you weren’t feeling well. Are you sick? You look sick!”

“Thanks … Yeah I feel … a little sick,” I said, looking to Eric, who just smiled, smug.

Every bone in my body felt like it was broken. How the fuck did he sleep on that couch?

“I don’t have school today. I get to go to Amelia’s house and watch cartoons with Taylor for a while, and then we’re meant to be going shopping for Halloween costumes but we don’t know yet … and then-”

“Emily, eat. Give Sookie a second to wake up, okay?”

She looked chastised, but she stayed quiet.

“Coffee?” he asked, and I nodded enthusiastically. “Food?” he added, showing me some scrambled eggs.

“Oh, um, thank you, but not right now.”

He just smiled again. He was clearly enjoying my hang-over pain.

“Getting too old for that kind of thing now, aren’t you?”

I just glared. He knew I couldn’t retaliate with the kid here.

“I really should go … get a shower, change …” Die, I thought, after I’d finished the glory that was the mug of coffee.

“Really? Aw please stay, we could play today!” Emily said with such hope in little her eyes. I had no idea why that kid liked me, but she did.

“Not today, Emily. Sookie’s busy.”

“Sookie was busy last time,” she reasoned.

“Emily, I said no.” Parent Eric was firm, and if I was honest, a little scary. He made a good dad.

“I’m … actually not today, and neither are you,” I said to Eric.

“Huh?”

“Well, you do have to go in, but it’s Jason’s day today, and Sophie is his assistant.”

He looked confused. “Really? Is that why she hates me?”

“Little bit … but also mostly because she’s a bi-” I caught myself, “she’s just not a nice person…”

“So you’re taking the day off?”

“It’s not like I had much of a say in it,” I shrugged.

He nodded, eating his eggs as I texted Hoyt.

“Anyway, I have zero plans for today, so if you want I could take her shopping?”

She started jumping in her seat, still silently, but jumping none the less.

“I don’t know … Really? You’d wanna do that?”

“Want to shop? Did you just ask that question?”

“No, I mean deal with a five year old all day. It’s not easy.”

“I mean, I need to go home to shower and stuff, and I have a few emails to write, but I could come pick her up around one? We could go for some food, and go shopping, or go shopping and then get some food? I don’t mind, like I said, I have no plans for today – and I want to thank you.”

“Sookie you don’t have to do-”

“And you didn’t have to let me stay last night, it was decent of you, even if I was a pain. So, let me do this?”

He looked at me, then to Emily.

“I don’t know, Sookie…”

“Oh, please? Please? Please Eric? You don’t pick girlie things. I need girlie things.”

“I do so!”

“Nah-ah. Please?”

“I guess, I mean if you want-”

“She wants, she said so, please?” Emily butted in, and I had to admire her enthusiasm.

“Fine, but just for a few hours, and I’m giving Sookie the money.”

I nodded, I would take it, I just wouldn’t spend it, and he might just find it in his account again by the end of the day, no biggie, I thought.

“Cool. Emily I can pick you up at one?”

“Yes please! I have to go get dressed now!”

It was eight thirty.

I just smiled at Eric. “Okay then.”

My text came through that the car was waiting for me. We said our very awkward goodbyes, and I left. Wanting nothing more than a hot shower to bring my muscles back to life, after a night on the couch – as unplanned as it was with him there with me. I didn’t know why I’d insisted on him sleeping next to me, but I knew that it had been a long time since I’d felt that safe, wrapped in the arms of someone else. Drunk, sure, but safe. It scared me how much I liked it, even on the world’s most uncomfortable couch. And more to the point, had I just offered to babysit a five year old? What was scarier than that?

What the hell was happening to me?

EPOV:

I had no idea what to expect from her brother, I had never met the guy after all. But when I did meet him, I realized that my worries were unwarranted. Jason Stackhouse was Sookie’s opposite in every way. And I mean, every way. Nothing got done, no calls got made, and no meetings started on time. The staff was loving it, of course. But, as a number cruncher, I was giving myself an anxiety attack realizing how much money he was losing the company every second he spent talking up the staff instead of actually working, and I knew if Sookie knew, she’d lose her shit. But, I said nothing since I was relegated to second assistant for the day, and Sophie lorded that little detail over me, repeatedly.

“Hey man, so I never really got the chance to talk to you this mornin’. Sophie was just so darn glad to have me back I guess…”

Yeah, I’ll bet she was.

“No, that’s fine, Sir. Anything you need?”

“Nah man, that’s the thing … we’ve got everything covered here for today, you can take off if you want. I mean, you work for my sister, so chances are you’re probably exhausted, right? So seriously, just take the rest of the day off, and we won’t tell Sook.”

That didn’t sound too … wise.

“Really? I thought there were samples from-”

“Nah, don’t worry about those, Sophie can handle it from here, really.”

He was the boss, right? It wasn’t like I could be fired for doing what I was told, right?

“If you’re sure.”

“Positive. Enjoy the weekend, too.”

Okay, so I saw why everyone loved him, I also saw that before he took his ‘extended leave’ that the business was down by forty five percent to where Sookie had it now. That wasn’t a good thing, at all.

There was madness to Sookie, but there was method to it, and that method was successful. Jason’s best bud approach? Not so much.

Looking at the clock, it was just after one, which meant that Sookie was picking up Emily from Amelia’s. She’d called at twelve to ask where she was going, and then I had to call Ames and tell her. Needless to say Amelia decided to sing ‘Sookie and Eric sitting in a tree’ at me over the damn phone, but I did my best to ignore her, I hated that she was enjoying this though. It wasn’t about her, I had to remember, it was about Emily. She needed more women in her life, hell, she needed more people in her life full stop. She was the only kid I knew without parents, or Grandparents. She didn’t get super spoiled on her birthdays and on Christmas like the other kids did, so I did my best to make up for it. But on days, like Christmas, and birthdays and anniversaries, well, it was harder than others. I wanted to cheer her up. The night before, she’d woken up sobbing and she just wanted her mom, unfortunately no matter what I did, I could never give her that. I’d done my best to calm her down, and get her back to sleep – it had taken three hours – and then drunken Sookie arrived at my door. I had no idea why she had, but I had to admit, I was strangely glad. It had taken me out of my funk I’d been slowly sinking into all that day, and all that night. I missed my folks too, and much like Emily, I wanted to sort of sit down and cry about it, and have someone hug me and put it right, but as a grown up that wasn’t really an option. Then, in walked Sookie, and for a time I’d put it to the back of my mind. When she asked me to sleep next to her I was convinced she was out of her mind, but when it came to her and her brand of insanity, I found I enjoyed, even her drunk insanity. Curling up next to her, it felt good, it felt almost too good. She was soft and smelled so good, and honestly it had been an extremely long time since I’d spooned with anyone, so I welcomed her heat, and her sweet smelling shampoo, and I drifted off to the best five hours sleep I’d remembered having. What wasn’t so pleasant of course was waking up to some serious morning wood, and attempting to squeeze my six foot four self off a couch like a ninja so that I didn’t poke her with it, or didn’t wake her up at all. It wasn’t easy, and I’m pretty sure I pulled a muscle, but I somehow got up without her so much as moving. That woman slept like the dead.

Jerking off to images of Sookie wasn’t really a new thing. She’d never know, no one would, so what did it matter? She provided ample material though, and I refused to feel bad about it, and just enjoy the orgasm, even if I was imagining her hands instead of my own. The truth was, I was attracted to her, and I knew, at least at one point, she was attracted to me too. I wanted to broach the subject, and then I didn’t. It was too awkward, and honestly, she brought out my insecurities too much for me to give it a fair play. It’s such a cliché, right? Less successful man feels threatened by the more successful woman. But, in reality, it was a hard truth to face. I was raised to look after a girl, take care of her, how could I do that if she took care of herself just fine? It was another one of those things, the mixed signals between the both of us. Last time she was here there was kissing, and touching, and all kinds of nice things about to happen – then suddenly nothing. And then in her office, we blamed other substances, but truthfully she wanted to make out with me just as much as I wanted to make out with her … and yet she comes here again, and I sleep with her for crying out loud, and not so much as a peck on the cheek.

Can you see the confusion here? I had somewhat devised a plan though, it was probably one of the worst ideas that I’d ever had, but it was an idea if nothing else.

I had a date to get ready for.

SPOV:

I kind of went a little bit nuts, with the shopping that is. I mean here this kid was, in dire need of a shopping spree, and there I happened to be with my cards, all ready for some serious retail therapy. And this meant it could be ninety-nine percent guilt free, too, since yes I was shopping, but the majority of the time, I was shopping for someone else. It was fantastic. She was ecstatic at all the things we’d picked out for her, and I was too. I’d made someone else’s day, and that felt amazing. I’d collected her from the Amelia woman’s house, a woman who was clearly a stay at home mother, in need of not only a break, but a serious deep conditioning treatment, but, I couldn’t say that – I had just met the woman. And as much as I wanted to offer for her and her daughter to come, I didn’t know her, and really the way she was looking me up and down – the judgement face – out in full force? I wasn’t so sure I wanted to. She released Emily to me though, so I guess I passed whatever little test she was having in her head about me. We then stopped off at Eric’s place to get her coat, and her Dora purse. Apparently it was important to have Dora along for the ride. I’d gone nuts for her things in Barney’s and FAO’s, and I’d treated myself a little on Fifth Ave, before we made it back to my place with some much needed take out. We’d talked a lot, she and I, well, at the start it was mostly her – the girl had a lot to say. But soon it settled down, and we had some real conversations, which I know might sound odd considering she was all of five years old, but the kid knew what was up. She told me about her parents, and how she knows Eric misses them too, and she told me that she sometimes wished his ex girlfriend hadn’t left them, but she knew that that was her fault no matter what Eric told her. I tried to convince her otherwise, the whole ‘grown up stuff is complicated,’ but she was pretty set on guilting herself into that one – so I bought her two new dolls. What can I say, when I feel bad, I shop, and I felt bad for her, so I shopped … for her. We moved on though, to other things like her school and her friends, and then my work and my friends, as well as all the different things in the shops that we liked. What she wanted from Santa, and why she wanted to be fairy for Halloween. Try as we might, it was a touch too early for the good costumes to be on sale, but I promised I’d take her when they came in, again not really knowing what the hell I was doing. But if the afternoon proved anything to me, it was a few things. One, kids are nothing like cats, and two, I was more than capable of keeping one alive and happy for a day at least. It was an achievement. So we sat upstairs where the big, big screen was – in all honesty it was a ‘cinema’ screen, but I just called it a big TV. I didn’t want to show off to a five year old. I didn’t need to though, she was pretty in awe of my place.

“It’s just so big! I mean it’s so big!” she said, her eyes as big as circles themselves. She’d latched on to Tina, who wasn’t one bit amused.

“Who else lives here?”

“Um, just me,” I said, biting into my hot dog, and dipping some fries into the ketchup.

“Really? It’s an awfully big place for just one person.”

“I guess so…” I shrugged.

“And you’re still not married?”

I laughed, “No sweetie, I’m not.”

“Do you wanna get married?”

“I … don’t know. Do you?”

“Sure! It’ll be fun! Eric says that I have to graduate college first.”

“Eric’s right.”

She sighed.

“He’s not married, and he finished college a looong time.”

“Well, yeah, I mean it’s not something everyone does, a lot of people don’t ever at all … but if you find the right person, one you can see yourself growing all old-”

“Like Carl and Ellie?”

“Who?”

“You know, in UP they were married ’til they were old and she died.”

“Oh… um…” morbid? “Sure?”

“I think I’d be sad if my husband died first-”

“Okay, Em’, you know I don’t think Eric would want us talking about this … let’s talk about something else.” I panicked. The last thing I wanted was her telling him we were chewing the fat about death. Not giving what she was trying to forget.

“We’re moving soon, well, I think we’re moving soon anyway, that’s what Eric says.”

“Oh yeah? Not too far I hope?”

“Nope, same building but it’s a bigger apartment, not as big as this or as pretty…” she sighed, “but it’s still much bigger than our house now.”

“Well that’s good isn’t it?”

“I guess. At least Eric will have his own room again.”

For such a young little girl she did seem to have some weight on her tiny shoulders, whether he or she knew it was another story. But I knew the look, in her eyes; it was of a grieving little girl who’d had to grow up too fast. I knew the look because it reminded me of me, when it happened to me. The death of a parent, or in our case two, especially at that young age. It really changed your whole life, before you’d even had a shot at it.

It sucked.

Maybe that’s why we liked each other? Maybe we saw that in each other? Or, maybe, she just liked pretty things and I could give them to her, who knew? All I knew was she was fed, spoiled and happy, and I felt like I’d done a good enough job. As a thank you to Eric, and to give him and his baby sitting woman a break. I made a note to maybe gift basket her, lots of hair products, and maybe a voucher. That frizz, in this day and age, just wasn’t acceptable, stay at home mom or not.

“Okay, Miss Emily I think we need to be getting back, Eric’s going to be worried about you.”

“Nah, he won’t, he likes you, so he knows you’re not some like kidrapper or nothin'”

“Kidnapper,” I corrected, fixing her hair and wiping her face. For such a small kid, she sure could eat.

“Right… Do we get to ride in the fancy car again?”

“Sure. Come on grab Dora, let’s go.” Whether or not I wanted to admit it to myself, I really was sad to take her home. The company, no matter how juvenile, was a welcomed break from the silence.

By the time we got to their place, I was sure Eric should have been home, and he was. It felt a little weird though, letting myself in with the spare key, but we did. I got Emily settled on the couch, turning the TV on too, when he walked out of the bathroom, a towel drying his hair, wearing nothing but some dark wash jeans.

Oh…

I had felt what was under that shirt, but seeing it was a whole new level. For such a lean looking guy, he sure was built in places.

“Eric! Look what I got! All this is mine, isn’t that COOL? And Dora doll got new outfits too, and I got this…” she held up a pink pea coat, “and Sookie got me these!” she held up some shoes, and then a few more toys. There were a lot of bags, a lot more than I remembered. I had the sense to look guilty as he walked up to me.

“What’s all this? I told you the budget was-”

Two hundred dollars, and it might have just found its way back into this account by pay day.

“Uh, yeah, about that…” I began.

“Sookie … This is far too much stuff, and far too … is that Barney’s? Christ … expensive!”

“Well, yes, a little, but come on I never see my niece and nephew, so I guess I had some built up kid spoiling energy left or something, I don’t know. Look, she likes them and she’s happy … isn’t that what matters?”

He looked from me to his smiling sister, and he picked her up. I may have melted a little.

“Were you good for Sookie?”

“So good!”

“Really?”

“Yes! Wasn’t I Sookie?”

“She was very good for me, and she charmed just about every shop assistant we met, that’s not an easy task, believe me.”

“Is that so? Did you eat?”

She nodded, “We had hotdogs and fries, and juice, and before that we had cupcakes and juice.”

Guilty again.

“So you’re full of sugar. Awesome,” he looked at me then. “Em, why don’t you take your things into your room, I’ll come see then in a minute.”

“Okay!” She kissed him on the cheek, then he let her down, and she yanked on my hand pulling me down to her level, until she kissed me on the cheek. It was very sweet.

“Thanks Sookie!” she said, running off.

He looked kinda mad.

“Look, I know I went a little nuts, but-”

“Sookie it’s my job to take care of her, and no offense but I’ve been doing a pretty okay job of it so far.”

“I didn’t say you hadn’t.”

“No, but this? All of that? It’s not right.”

“Why not?”

“Because now, everything she gets will be compared to the things you were able to buy her. I might not shop exclusively in Barney’s or whatever for her, but she’s well taken care of.”

“I never said you weren’t!”

He folded his arms, something was clearly pissing him off and I don’t think it had anything to do with dresses.

“What’s really up here…”

“This isn’t her life, and I just don’t want to disappoint her next time when things don’t add up like they did today.”

“Eric, she’s five. She’s a kid, and she just got pretty things, things that she didn’t even know the price of. She was also more excited about the five dollar hotdogs than the idea of going somewhere fancy for lunch. So, seriously, don’t stress it. I haven’t turned her into a snob in a few hours; I was just trying to be nice.”

I shrugged, and I grabbed my bag and made my way to the door, leaving him with a sheepish look on his face.

“Sookie, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’m just going to go.”

“Sookie…”

I left feeling extremely deflated, I was just trying to do something nice, not just for him, but for Emily too. And somehow, even that made me a snob. I resisted the urge to cry, instead picking myself up, and dusting myself off, and getting ready for the last date of the week. This was a guy that Eric set up, an accountant from Europe was all he’d tell me. That, and he was ‘kinda tall, kinda funny’, either way it had to beat the last three.

I got there, early as usual, and I waited, and I waited, and I waited some more. Then almost thirty minutes later as I was getting up the courage to walk out, Eric walked through the door.

What the hell?

EPOV:

I was really going to do this, I thought, as I walked through the door of the restaurant. Why was I doing it? That was the other question, one I’d been asking myself for hours. I liked my job, I wanted to keep my job – of course. I wanted to earn money so I could move Emily and me into a new place. I wanted to put more money by for her for college, and this job allowed me to do that, and spend time with her – I guess. I’d thought of going back, applying for a few accountancy jobs that I knew I could do a good job, in fact I could do an epic job. But, I still wasn’t feeling the numbers game anymore. Maybe I would one day, but for now I liked the change of scenery, I liked the constant challenge, and I liked my boss. Perhaps I liked my boss more than was considered normal, even for her, since she was a total bitch to me eighty percent of the time. But, I saw through that easily, very easily, and the weirdest thing of all was that she let me see though it. Maybe it was because I was lonely, maybe it was because it had been a really long time since I’d formed a kind of friendship with another woman, maybe, maybe, maybe. There were a lot of points to consider, but the main one was that I hated all her other ‘candidates’, and I knew I’d be having to spend time with them until the jig was up. I also knew I wanted to help her. I wanted to be the one to do it for her.

“What are you doing here? I was just leaving…” she said, looking annoyed.

“Yeah about that-”

“The guy stood me up, can you believe that? So screw it I’m starving and just want to eat, you want to sit?”

I nodded.

“He didn’t stand you up.”

She raised her brow, and sipped her wine, “So you see him anywhere because I don’t? You did tell him that I’d made reservations here, right?”

“He knew. He also came.”

“Did he leave?”

“Sookie … I’m the guy.”

Her eyes went wide.

“Have you done lost your mind? Is this some kind of joke? Eric? I got my hair blown out for this, if you’re just kidding around I’m not in the mood.”

“I’m not kidding around, I um,” I cleared my throat. “I’m putting myself forward, as a fake boyfriend candidate. I’m here to ask you on a fake date,” I smiled; it was far too ridiculous to take seriously saying stuff like this.

“You … what? Why?”

“Well, I know I like you, and I know that despite the prickly exterior you’re a nice woman, and I want to help you. I like you as my boss, and I like my job.”

“Eric…”

“Look, think about it. I know you much better than those other three guys, I’ve spent just about every day with you for almost four months now. I know how you like your coffee, I know you try to not eat meat four out of five days a week, but still fail because you just don’t care enough not to enjoy your food. I know that you have a happy dance that you do at your desk when your favourite designers call-”

“You saw that?”

I nodded, and she blushed.

“I also know you’re not as badass as you want people to believe you are. I know a lot about you, and I know I could do this, for all of us.”

She sat there silently looking at me for a second or two. It felt like the longest time in the world, and then she spoke. “You realise if you do this, it has nothing to do with us,” she motioned, “personally, or anything that might have happened or not happened between us, personally.”

I nodded. She was still a stickler for professionalism, as always.

“And there would be a contract. And a fee, for you for doing this. I’d expect you to take it.”

Truth be told, I could use twenty five grand, who couldn’t? But thankfully I realized the money wasn’t a real factor in my decision.

“I guess.”

“No, I mean it. All above board.” She was serious. “I don’t want this to appear shady or unsavoury. I’m not using you I’m employing you. I need you to know that.”

Personally, I think she was trying to convince herself more than she was trying to convince me, but I still agreed.

“This is nuts, Eric.”

“I agree. Hey, at least we agree on something.”

“It is, but it’s only for a little while and then everything can just go back to normal, right?”

“Right.”

Oh, how wrong we were.

“So, that’s it then? We’re doing this?”

“Yes, Ma’am. I’m your fake!Boyfriend. This should be fun!”

Yeah, wrong again, so very wrong!


A/N: Hi loves! New chapter goodness for you, a little late if you aren’t following my blog to get the chapters first! 😉 Dying to hear what you think! Reviews are welcomed! 😀 xox


Chapter 12: Chapter 12


SPOV:

Had I just agreed to that? Had I really just agreed to let him be the one, the one I played this insane game with? Was I crazy? Was he? I was confused, a little scared, and more than a little anxious by the time I got home that night. I had thought things through, overly so, to the point of insanity. I had a copy of the contract on my laptop, and I’d gone over it and over it and over it – again, to the point of insanity. We could do this, it was only for a few months at the most, and professionalism had to prevail. That was the idea anyway. Whether or not it stayed that way was another question entirely, one I wasn’t in the mood to deal with at that point.

Needless to say I slept very little that night, and since it was the weekend I guess that was a good thing. I got up much like a zombie would the next morning, feeding Tina, feeding myself, and crawling back into bed until noon. I realized I hadn’t done that in a long time, just stayed at home on a Saturday morning, chilling out, sleeping in. Before, I’d have been mapping out my week and edging in more meetings. But no, I was assured that ‘Jason was taking care of it,’ from my Gran who had called the night before too, just to rub salt in the wounds – or to see if I was okay. Either way, it was all the same to me. She might have meant well, but it fucking sucked.

I’d agreed to meet some girlfriends in town for a late lunch and some shopping, and I was glad I did. Catching up with my friends was, again, not something I’d had a lot of time for – they too were just a little shocked when I told them what was going on at work. They all took my side of course, but how could they not? They were my friends after all, not my Grandmother’s.

“So, I don’t know what she really wants from me, besides my personal life on a platter for her to inspect,” I shrugged, sipping on my daiquiri.

Sarah chimed in again with a sigh, “Really Sookie, it’s none of her business. You know you could just sue her for wrongful termination if she fires you.”

I shook my head “I couldn’t do that, she’s-”

“Family?” Pam asked, rolling her eyes. “If she’s family then she should be kissing your ass, not making you jump through hoops.”

“I know, I just don’t know how else to do this other than to give her what she wants,” I said, and Maria just agreed with me.

“What? I know Sookie, and I know her job is her life, and yes it sucks that this is happening… but I guess her Gran is still her boss, like it or not, and she’s asking her to slow down, not speed up. It’s not a bad idea really.”

I glared.

“No, really Sookie, come on. Dating! Sexing! It’s all good fun, and its fun you haven’t allowed yourself to have in a while – fuck buddies not withstanding.”

“Well… just so you all know, I have been trying. I have been giving the whole septic tank of New York dating, a try.”

And?” Pam asked.

I shrugged. “There were a few potential good ones… but there is one guy…”

Maria ‘oooh’d’ and Sarah moved closer to me.

“So? What’s he like?” Maria asked, romantic at heart, where as Pam was a little more practical.

“What does he do? He does have a job, right? I mean he’s not another ‘artist‘ living out of a dive in Queens, right?”

“That was one guy, and it was college, and he was really good at sex, like seriously, he approached sex like a woman… I overlooked his loserdom for that.”

“But this guy?” Pam continued.

“He’s cute, and very tall, and sweet. And we’re… taking it slow.”

“How slow?” Sarah asked.

“Slow. I like him, and we’re just seeing where it goes, and if it goes anywhere… I’ll be introducing him to Granmommy dearest, and hoping for her approval so I get to keep my ass in my job,” I lied, well, half-lied. I did like Eric, and I was, for all intents and purposes, seeing where it went. They didn’t need to know that it was by contract only, and he was making a good deal of money off of it, and it wasn’t real.

“What does he do?” Pam asked, again. And again, I ignored her, because thankfully my cell phone rang.

Saved by the bell.

EPOV:

“And you’re just going to do this? Just like that? You’re going to lie for her? To everyone? Eric, I don’t like the sound of this,” Amelia said, as she sipped her beer. We’d gone out to Sam’s bar; it was Saturday night, and we all needed to unwind. Thankfully Amelia’s mom was a god send, and the kids liked staying with her, and she with them. It worked out well in times like these. We had somewhat of a social life.

“It’s a work thing, that’s all.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“REALLY? That’s all it is? The hot blonde with the nice rack wants you to fake date her, and it’s ‘work’?”

“Yes. There will be contracts and everything, it’s very above board, I promise. And, you said it made good business sense, before, and that’s all it is.”

“And what do you get out of it? If she gets her freaky lie, and you have to play house or whatever, what do you get out of it?” Sam asked.

“I get the satisfaction of doing a good deed for someone.”

“Or doing THE deed,” Trey interjected.

“Not at all. It’s not like that.”

“But you’d want it to be like that?” Amelia asked.

“No.”

Lying,” she smiled.

“Dude, come on, you haven’t gotten any in a lonnnng time…” Sam said. I just glared. “Ames says she’s hot, and coming from Ames, you know it’s a good deal… so nothing at all?”

“All right, so she’s hot and there was a little something there… but this is totally separate. And there might be money involved.”

“Ew, oh my God, ew!” Amelia all but shrieked.

“What?” I asked.

“Eric, you’re basically her hooker, ew… that’s so gr-”

“I am not her hooker! There will be no sex! It’s not like that at all!”

“That’s even worse, you’re a hooker who isn’t even getting laid.”

“How am I a hooker? It’s a job, I’m getting paid for it. Sam you do a job, you get paid, as do you Trey? How are they any different? Or does that make us all hookers?”

“Well, for one, I don’t have to fake love someone I’m working with, thankfully,” Sam said, smugly.

“It’s not a big deal, and I just wish you guys could be a little bit more supportive of this, that’s all,” I shrugged, maybe a little pressed that they were ganging up on me like that.

“I’m sorry, Eric,” Ames patted my hand across the table. “We’re just concerned, that’s all. We’ve seen how hard shit has been for you these last few years, and we don’t want to see you get hurt…or taken advantage of. That’s all.”

“I’m the one that suggested it, alright? She thought we were nuts and maybe we are, but I’d like to help her, and it is all above board.”

“And you’re being paid?” Sam asked.

“Yeah, twenty five grand, for my troubles.”

That stopped them in their tracks.

“So, can we please stop worrying about me? I’m getting the easy part of this deal; she’s the one that has to deal with her family.”

“Well, if you’re sure?” Ames asked, still looking like a concerned mamma bird.

“I am, for sure.”

I wasn’t, but I also didn’t really love the idea of getting in to it with them. I liked Sookie, so much so that I’d go as far as to say I had a crush on Sookie, but I also liked my job. I liked getting paid, and having a secure day to day, pay to pay income, that and I really did want to help her. I just held on to my own reasoning and hoped for the best. And it seemed that Sookie was doing the same.

I was summoned into her office on the Tuesday morning to find two other men inside already waiting as I got there with the coffee.

“Sorry, I didn’t know there was a meeting or I would have brought more…”

“No, Eric, this is my lawyer, and yours.”

He was?

“Mr. Andrews will be acting on my behalf, and Mr. Burnham will be acting on your behalf, for the contracts. Please, sit.” She was nervous, and twitchy. She looked like she hadn’t really slept, and yet still for any other woman that would mean she’d look like a truck ran over her, but not Sookie, she still looked hot. It wasn’t fair.

“Okay … sure.”

“The reason they’re here, I mean, you know why they’re here, I wanted everything to be as above board as possible. I’m not using you. I’m employing you, simple as that. And this means we get everything done and dusted, and out of the way so that we can just get on with things.”

I nodded as the other of the two men, Mr Andrews, went over the content of the contracts with both of us. How it worked, what was expected, and when and how much I’d get paid. I felt as uncomfortable as Sookie looked, both of us pale and sweaty by the time it came to sign.

“Gentlemen, can I have a moment with Mr. Northman? You can wait in the hallway. Ask Sophie, the redhead at the front desk, to get you a coffee if you’d like.”

They left, leaving us to only each other.

“Eric, I wanted to give you a shot to back out here. You don’t have to do this for me, really. I mean, I can just go and find another option or figure something else out… I want you to just be sure, okay? If you’re not I want you to… I don’t know, speak now, or for three months hold your piece,” she half smiled, awkwardly. It was kinda adorable.

“I want to do this. I told you, it’s fine.”

“Is it though? Isn’t it just a little pathetic of me, having to literally pay someone to pretend to love me? I mean, how is that not sad and extremely depressing?” She rolled her eyes, mostly at herself I imagined, or the situation. I’d be eye rolling too if I didn’t know how desperate she was to keep her job. I also wanted to tell her that she wouldn’t have to pay me, and even if she wanted, we wouldn’t even have to fake it… but I couldn’t.

“As you’ve said countless times, its just business. We’re making a deal. You make deals every day. That’s all this is, another deal.”

That seemed to steel her resolve again, and she nodded.

“You’re right. I mean, of course this is what this is. I just… I don’t know why I’m freaking out here.”

“It’s also personal though, for you. I get it.”

“You don’t think I’m pathetic?”

“Do you really care what I think?”

She didn’t usually, and I was just pointing that out.

She didn’t blink for a second, but then she dropped whatever panic she was experiencing and the bitchface came back, as well as the Ice Bitch ‘tude. I really hadn’t missed that.

“Fine, in that case can we just sign the papers and get it over with? I have a lot of things to be doing today.”

We both signed on the dotted line, and in a matter of months I’d have a healthier bank balance, a better working title, and the ability to relax a little more – at least in theory. Sookie and I didn’t really talk for the rest of the day, other than about work things. She spent most of the day on the phone anyway, and I was tasked with sorting out the filing system for 2001 for whatever random reason. It was probably just a way for her to get me out of the way. I had a feeling that she was feeling rather sorry for herself, if she was asking me if I thought it was pathetic – what we were doing – what she was doing – then it meant that’s where her thoughts were going. She thought it was sad, pathetic, and probably below her. And maybe she was right, but as it stood since she wouldn’t give the old fashioned way a try, then this was her only option, as crazy as it was.

By the end of the day, I made sure to stay back. I knew she’d stay late – she was Sookie after all – and with her brother running things on a Friday and a Monday, it was with no doubt that I knew she would be cleaning up his messes for most of her working days, staying late was probably what she had to do to get it back to rights.

I tapped on her door at six, she looked shocked to see me since she was sitting way back in her seat, her shoeless feet on her desk.

“What are you still doing here? I’m not paying you overtime you know.”

Still with the bitchass tone, awesome.

“I just wanted to talk to you.”

“About?”

“The thing…” I closed her office door, I was pretty sure we were alone, but you never could be too careful. Those offices had ears, that’s for sure.

“You regretting it already?”

“I… no… I just wanted to make sure you were okay, that’s all,” I shrugged.

“I’m fine.”

I pushed my glasses up on my nose a little as I sat down. “Are you? Earlier, I mean that panic attack of sorts, it didn’t sound so fine.”

“It was what it was, just a moment of doubt, but I’m doing this for my job just as you’re doing this for yours. No big deal,” she shrugged.

“Right… I guess.”

“Unless you doubt it, in which case, Eric, I’d rather you tell me now.”

Her voice took on that slightly panicked tone again.

“Sookie, chill. It’s fine, I promise.”

“Okay, good. Thanks again … for agreeing to it. It saved me a lot of hassle trying to fit one of those assholes into my life, and as insane as this is, I hope it’s just until my birthday, and that’s not too far away. And chances are we won’t even have to fake anything. I never see my family, Gran is always in the Hamptons or in Louisiana, so we’re fine. It’ll be my birthday, and that’s it. No biggie.”

She was so wrong. Because you see, as luck would have it, once her Grandmother got wind that Sookie was dating someone, she was on our ass like white on rice. With hilariously awkward results, might I add.

SPOV:

Two weeks passed quickly, as time tends to do when you have a lot of shit to do, and a lot on your mind, but by the end of the second week since we’d signed the contracts neither Eric nor I had found reason to bring it up. It was business as usual. Meetings, showings, photo shoots to book, models to choose, clothes to pull, and all of it on me. Jason doing his ‘share’ really was only more trouble than it was worth, because it did leave me with twice as much work to do, and three times the amount of ass to kiss to fix his fuck ups. I was stressed, I was frustrated, and I really just wanted to fix everything, to get everything back to the way it was. And then, she called. She’d been informed that I was ‘seeing someone,’ and from her tone, it was more than obvious it was Jason that told her. I’d told him knowing he’d tell her, it was the whole point of it. Jason couldn’t not gossip, he was worse than a woman in that respect. So, when she called I wasn’t overly shocked, but what I was shocked by was her request.

“Oh, Sookie, I am ever so pleased you decided to take my advice. I mean really, it’s good for you darling, being out there. You’re too beautiful to be single and lonely.”

“Uh, thanks…Gran.”

“I think it’s great. Who is he? Jason was a little lax on details.”

That was because I gave him none.

“Well, it’s kind of … odd. I wasn’t really expecting anything to happen… but it did, and I’m glad it did. He’s a good guy, and he’s very sweet and really attentive-” In that he was an epic assistant, and attended to me that way, oh, and maybe we’d made out a couple of times, something like that.

I could hear her smiling on the other end of the phone. “Oh Dear, that’s just wonderful, who is it? Do I know him? Is it that handsome Remy Savoy? Jason told me you’d been seen with him a time or two, but then I heard he got married… Oh Sookie, he’s not married, is he?”

“Gran, it’s not him, and he and I were never really together, so I wish Jason would just mind his own business, and believe me, he has enough business to mind!”

“Well then who, Sweetie?”

“It’s Eric.”

“Eric what?”

“My… boyfriend…” I glanced out my window at said ‘boyfriend.’ He was on the headset redirecting calls, as well as typing up a storm.

“Eric … your assistant?”

I swallowed. I cringed. I embraced and became a stereotype.

“Yes. He’s … we’ve become close.”

She was silent.

“I see…” she said, eventually.

“He’s wonderful, actually. And he’s a parent.”

“He has a child? Oh, Sookie … this is just-” her tone took a sharper turn, clearly that wasn’t so welcome either.

“No, she’s not his child, she’s his little sister, but both his parents are dead. So, he’s her guardian, and he’s amazing with her, he’s got a good spirit, and I like him. And besides, isn’t this what you wanted? Me, dating? Well, I’m dating.”

Silence again.

“I’m sorry about his parents. As you and I know, that’s not an easy thing to go though.”

“No, it’s not,” I agreed. “She’s a wonderful little girl, and he’s doing an incredible job with her, all things considered.”

“Hmm,” she said.

I didn’t know what that meant, so I kept on talking.

“Her name is Emily, and she’s five, and she’s just, oh, Gran she’s just this adorable little blonde thing, so full of life, she’s amazing…”

I heard her smile again. “I’m glad … and I look forward to meeting her.”

“Yes she is she’s – wait, what?”

“I’ll be in town on Monday. I’ll be there until Wednesday, and I’d like to stay with you, if that’s okay. I’m not fond of my apartment in the city anymore, and hotels are just so lonely. I’d like us to spend some time together, since my last visit was so short.”

“Oh…um, Gran … that’s not really … I mean I’d love to but-”

Panic, panic, panic.

“But what? Jason is in town, is he not? He can cover on the days we decide to take an early lunch or what not, and I’m just dying to meet this Emily. She makes you smile; I can hear it in your voice, as does Eric. I mean I’m not surprised, when I met him I just assumed you two were fooling around.”

Gran!”

“Well, what? Clearly you saw him, and talked to him. He is quite charming, for an assistant. Usually they’re incompetent.”

And there was the rub. She didn’t approve of his profession. Gran always was a bit of a snob when it came to that. I blamed her spending so much time in the damn Hamptons. I guess Eric was right, and in some ways I was a giant snob too. Gee, I wonder where I’d got that from? I decided I’d work on that.

“Gran, really, wouldn’t you be more comfortable in a hotel, you know it’s-”

“Do you not want me to come and stay? It’s only for a few days…”

“It’s not that it’s just-”

He’s my fake boyfriend and I was hoping to keep his innocent little sister out of this. No such luck.

“Fine then, I arrive at noon on Monday, I’ve got my own transport from the airport. I look forward to seeing lots of this Eric. I assume he’s been … how do you put it these days … sleeping over?”

My eyes went wide. She wasn’t serious.

“Oh, well, you know it’s early days so really-”

“Now Sookie, I might be an old woman, but I’m not so old that I don’t remember what it was like when one first falls into a relationship – especially with someone as handsome as Eric.”

Shiiiiiiiiiiit.

“Oh … Well, I guess, I mean-”

“And you have more than enough room, unless you’ve moved and not told me.”

“No, I haven’t moved.”

“Great then, maybe we can all do dinner on the Monday night, Jason and Crystal too perhaps.”

I was sure my blood pressure was sky high, this wasn’t healthy. My place had three bedrooms, which clearly meant if Eric was sleeping over he was sleeping over with me.

Oh, awkward.

I got off the phone and went out to his desk, trying my best to calm my shit down. When we got back to my office, I shut the door, and shut the shields.

“What’s wrong? Why are you all red?” he asked, sitting on the edge of my desk.

“I … well, change of plans. You know how I thought we’d not see nor hear from my family until basically Thanksgiving?”

He nodded.

“Yeah your birthday is that week, right?”

“Right, but well, Gran has thrown a spanner in the works.”

“How?”

“She’s decided she’s coming to stay for a few days, and basically is assuming since we’re dating … right, I told her, we’re dating, it’s dating, we’re all kinds of dating. Anyway, she’s assuming because of that, like a normal person, that I sleep with my boyfriend and that you sleep over.”

“Oh…” His eyes went wide as he realized. “OH.”

“Yeah … and I told her about Emily, you know, so she’d know more about you, figuring she’d leave it at that, but really, she didn’t and now she’s coming and wants to get to know you guys. Eric I really had hoped to keep Emily out of this, she has nothing to do with this!”

Yes, I was in panic mode.

He came close to me, and rubbed his hands down my bare arms, in a comforting gesture, as he tried to calm me down.

“Hey, hey come on, don’t worry about it, okay? We’ll work something out…”

“I don’t wanna lie to your baby sister, that’s wrong… I mean my Gran is one thing – one terrible thing, but it’s for a reason and really she asked for this, but Emily… I don’t-”

“Me either, but maybe we don’t lie. Maybe we just tell her … selective truths.”

“Like?”

“Like, we’re friends and we’re friends who have to have a sleep over because … that’s what friends do. And maybe we tell her that we’re special friends. I’m sure your Grandmother isn’t going to be giving a five year old the third degree about my … our … sex life. There are ways around the guilt, trust me; I’m still dealing with the whole Santa dilemma.”

I noticed his hands were still on my arms, caressing them in a way, it was comforting but it was also kinda hot.

“Good luck with that.”

“Thanks. So what do we do about her?”

“Which her?”

“I’ll worry about Em’, you worry about Adele.”

“Right, I guess … I mean, would you … would it be weird … I mean, of course it’s weird, but the whole ‘sleep over’ scenario, I mean would it be … okay?”

He shrugged. “It’s on a weeknight, or nights … I have to get Em’ to pre-school in the mornings … in Brooklyn, so it would mean being late for work,” he nudged.

“I think I can clear it with your boss that you’d be let off the hook on those days.”

He smiled, I really liked his smile, and how his new glasses still impressed me when he did – I could see his eyes now that they fit right.

“Then sure, I know Emily will love it. She couldn’t stop talking about your place and how pretty it was, and how shiny and white. But with her around it might not stay that way.”

“It’s only for a while, a few days at most. I’m sorry, I really didn’t think she’d bother doing this.”

“Eh, I guess it gives us practice, right? For your birthday thing…”

How was he so calm? Why couldn’t I be calm? I did yoga for fuck sake, I should channel my inner whatever and CALM, but I couldn’t. I never was a very good liar.

“There will be a party, there always is whether I want one or not, it’s their tradition. It’s annoying, and over the top, and completely unnecessary, but it is what it is. And I guess you’re right, this is kind of like practice.”

“It’ll be fine,” he said.

“I wish I had your optimism.”

“Or stupidity, it really depends on how you look at it. Look, we’ll do this, and she’ll be none the wiser and go home thinking we’re all awesome… we hope.”

“Eric… I…” we both looked at each other then, and for a split second it was like everything was okay, like it would be fine because he said so. I felt … safe.

“I don’t know how to thank you for this. I mean, really it’s above and-”

“Hey, come on now, don’t go getting all soppy on me. I won’t be able to handle the whiplash in moods if you do,” he joked, or maybe he was serious, my moods were pretty erratic.

“I know, I just…”

“Sookie, it’s fine, we’ll play house, and she’ll buy the house we’re playing and go home happy and have lots of time to consider her choices.”

With a playful jerk of his eyebrows he left the office and me, a lot calmer than I was before. I really appreciated that he wasn’t looking for me to lead the show. He knew what he wanted, and didn’t want to do. That helped me hugely because I really had no clue where any of this was going.

To add to my ever increasing pile of fuck my life, just when things were starting to calm down, just when I was starting to think I had everything under control, and on the up, Remy Savoy walked into my building, and back into my life.

Well, fuck.


Chapter 13: Chapter 13


SPOV:

“Remy?” I said, stunned to see him.

“Sookie Stackhouse, a sight for sore eyes, as always…” He came over to my desk, and air kissed my cheeks, rubbing my shoulders once before he stepped back.

“How have you been, Sookie? You look amazing…” he said, taking a good long look just to make sure.

Remy Savoy was a forty-two year old, Ivy League educated, hotel owner. A son in the famous Savoy line, a shark in business, and a freak in the sheets. He had that whole George Clooney thing working for him, in that he could chase skirt into his sixties and make it look classy. He was about six foot something, completely obsessed with health and fitness, rocking his well defined abs and chocolate brown eyes to match his hair. His hair that now in the year since I’d last seen him had developed a little peppering at the sideburns.

“What are you doing here Rem?” I got to the point; he and I never were famous for our patience.

“I’ve come to see you, since you seem to forget where I live, darling,” he said with a smug smile as he took his seat.

“I forgot where you lived, because you put a ring on some teenager’s finger. I don’t cheat, even if you do.”

While I knew when we were a ‘thing’ that he was most certainly fucking around more than I was, it still stung to open up page six and find he’d married an equestrian heiress barely out of her teens.

“Now, now, Sookie… you know I’d always have time for you. For us…”

I squinted at him, “You’re gross, you know that?”

“Aw, come on, so I got married, big deal. What we had was never serious, I knew that. How many times did you kick me out of your place? I wasn’t even allowed to stay the night, and you’re telling me you nursed a broken heart over me? I don’t believe it. So stop pretending to be mad at me.”

I stood up and walked over to his side of the desk, he remained seated.

“So, what are you doing here then? Drop the wife off at high school? Fancied a quickie before she got back?”

He laughed, the typical Remy laugh, big, loud, and proud.

“Not at all, I filed for divorce a week ago, it’s not working out.”

“I’d say I’m sorry, but even Stevie Wonder saw that one coming.”

He laughed again, this time sitting up and resting his hand on my knees.

“I’ve missed your wit, kid.”

“Don’t call me kid, it’s creepy.”

He held his hands up. “So, other than touchy, how’ve you been? Business doing well?”

“Very.”

“And … personally … Seeing anyone I can replace?” He always was a cocky bastard.

“Oh no, I am not going there again. No. If that’s what this is? And clearly that is what this is … no. Closed.” I shook my head and my hands.

“You miss me. I can tell.”

“You can’t tell time, never mind if I miss you. The booty call centre is closed, Rem.”

“You seem tense. I can help with that, as you well know…”

I rolled my eyes. “Aw, come on Sookie. There was a time when I was your favourite stress reliever,” he wriggled his brows at me.

“Things change.”

“So you are seeing someone new then? Who is he?”

“I’m … it’s complicated.”

He nodded.

“Okay, I get it, it’s none of my business… but in truth, darling, I miss you. I’ve missed you this past year, and I don’t know what I was doing, marrying Kimmy.”

Ewe, Kimmy, what was she, a Barbie doll?

He stood up as I sat on my desk, and walked as close to me as I’d let him, before he put his hands on my knees again.

“Come on Stackhouse, you know we’re good together. Remember that night in St. Bart’s?” he said, brushing my cheek, edging closer to me.

“Things change,” I said again.

“Some things stay the same though,” he said before he made his move; holding my face with his hands, and pulling me in for a kiss. I couldn’t help but kiss him back. He was a man with a certain kind of sexual energy, and it was extremely appealing to me. It was the main reason I’d played around with him for so long before. He was magnetic. Just as we were getting into it, and I was losing my mind in the process, the office door opened and I yanked away from him.

Coming face to face with Eric in that moment was probably one of the worst I could recall in my life. The look on his face alone felt like a knife through my gut.

Oh…” he said, his face falling, and I could see the wall go up.

“Who are you?” Remy asked him, abruptly.

“Eric Northman, who are you?” he answered, steely eyed, and straightening himself out.

“Remy Savoy,” he reached out his hand to Eric’s to shake it, and I swear there was some internal pissing match going on with the looks they were giving each other. I felt very awkward.

“Eric is … he’s my assistant.”

Remy squinted at Eric, taking him in. “Is that so? Well it’s good to meet you, Eric. I’d like a coffee – black two sugars, and I’m sure you know Miss Stackhouse’s order by now – Sook? You want coffee? Or should we just go out for coffee…”

“Remy… I …” I looked from him, to Eric, whose ears were now turning pink, as his lips formed a tight straight line.

Shit.

“Well? Give the guy a job to do, he can’t just stand here, we were in the middle of something before he just barged in.”

“I wasn’t aware anyone else was in here. Usually people make an appointment, Mr Savoy,” Eric said, sharply, but still mannerly.

That made Remy grin like the Cheshire cat. “Yeah well, Eric, I’m not one of those people. Sookie and I … we go way back.”

Eric looked at me, and I could sense his anger, even if I didn’t see it in his eyes – which I did.

“I can see that. If there’s nothing else I’ll be getting out of your way, Miss Stackhouse.”

I cringed as he turned and left, and I knew he was going to get those coffees, that’s for sure.

“Look, Remy, what did you think would happen here today? That’d you’d show up into my life like a whirlwind and I’d, what? Just fall back into bed with you? Is that what you wanted?”

“It’s what you want too-”

“No, it’s what I wanted a year ago, it’s what I wanted two years ago, it’s not what I want now.”

“And what do you want now? Huh? Are you like the rest of them? Babies on the brain? A house in the suburbs, and the white picket fence? You think you’re one of those chicks? You’re not. You’re better than that bullshit, Sookie.”

“And what makes me better? The fact that my balls are as big as yours? Or the fact that it’s what you’ve pigeonholed me as?”

“You’re feisty, you’ve got a good head for business, and if you go Mommy and Me, you know you’ll lose that edge.”

“What makes you think I want kids? I never said I wanted kids, not to you.”

He shrugged. “They all do. At one point or another, that clock, it starts ticking, and you’re almost thirty, that’s when it hits.”

“Right,” I sighed. “Which is why you always move on to the younger model, right? Less hassle that way, they’re just looking for some fun, no strings.”

“It works.”

“Your divorce tells me otherwise.”

“I didn’t love her.”

“And you love me? Please, Rem, let’s not fool ourselves anymore than we already have. This is so pointless…”

And I needed to talk to Eric.

“Is there something going on between you and the assistant?”

I turned around to face him, and whatever he read off my face told him yes.

“Really, Sookie, dipping into the company ink, that’s so … something Jason would do.”

I rolled my eyes, Jason’s exploits were well known, that I couldn’t help, but I’d be damned if mine were going to join him.

“Whatever is or isn’t going on with me and Eric isn’t any of anyone’s business, least of all yours. You can’t just swan back into my life like this. I don’t want you here, you left and married a stranger because … I don’t even know why-”

“Never go to Vegas depressed, shit happens…”

“Exactly, shit happens. We’re no longer the shit that will be happening, I want you to leave.”

“Baby-”

“No. Get out before I call security, Remy, and you know I will toss your ass.”

He stood up with a sigh, holding his hands up.

“Fine, fine. Can’t blame a guy for trying… I just hope the assistant knows what he’s in for. You’re not an easy woman to put up with, you know that? It’s why you bounce from one fucked up relationship to another-”

“Look, if you’re going to stand there and insult me so you can make your rejected ego feel better, don’t. For one, I don’t have time and for two, I don’t fucking care.”

With that I shut the office door, and took a much needed deep breath.

EPOV:

I understood finally why she was single, she dated assholes. Stuck up, polka dot tie wearing assholes, with smug grins and snake eyes. I knew that realistically I had no right to feel pissed off when I walked in on her and Mr. Fortune Five Hundred, but I did. I also realized being introduced as her ‘assistant’ to her men really bothered me, as did his smug ‘I’m better than you’ look that he got when he realized I wasn’t on equal footing with them career wise. The ego wasn’t taking it well, that’s for sure. I wasn’t just someones gofer, I had a goddamn PHD for crying out loud, and yet no, I still wanted to stay in a job were people looked down on me with smug satisfaction, like I was a complete idiot unable to raise myself up. Okay, so maybe they weren’t really even thinking that, and I knew I certainly didn’t think that of any other assistants that I met in my life, but still, it was the ego again. It played all kinds of mind tricks on me. I went through most of the day avoiding her, no easy feat really when you consider I work directly for her, but I managed it. And I cut out at five fifteen; I’d promised Emily we’d cook dinner together, instead of just going out for it, or picking up takeout. She was on a mashed potatoes kick, and would eat them with just about anything. I got as far as the lobby when I heard the heels, and then my name.

“Eric!” she said; she didn’t yell, Sookie rarely yelled in public. I slowly turned, not really giving a fuck – I was off the clock after all.

“What? You need something else?” I said, maybe a little more bitter than I’d intended.

“No? I just … I well … I … do you need a ride home?”

“I can catch the subway, thanks anyway,” I said, going to walk away, but her hand on my arm stopped me.

“I’d rather you didn’t. I mean look outside, you think you’re going to get a seat with the rain how it is?”

“I can stand, two feet and everything.”

“Eric, please? Just let me take you home,” she said, sincerely, and I wanted to know why she was so insistent on it, curiosity killed the cat and all that.

“Fine, whatever you want,” I shrugged and walked with her to the awaiting town car, and I wasn’t an asshole, so I opened the door for her, saving Hoyt the trip.

“Hey man,” Hoyt said, and I said hey back, he simply nodded at Sookie and put up the screen. I guess he wasn’t in the mood to be bitched out by her today.

We got a few blocks, painfully slow as always, before she spoke.

“About earlier…” she turned to look at me, her bare legs brushing against mine. “I wanted to … I don’t know, apologise for before, with Remy.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Again, with the bitter.

“No, it wasn’t right. I mean he’s an asshole, and I just … I don’t know, I’m just sorry.”

“Sorry that he’s an asshole? How is that your fault?”

“I’m sorry I let him be an asshole to you-”

“Well, I’m a big boy, he’s not the first and he probably won’t be the last – especially in this job.”

She sighed and looked out the window, then back to me, she was pissed now.

“Look I’m just sorry, okay? He had no right.”

“No, he didn’t, but you know what he was, and so were you. In fact, you’re rude to just about everyone that’s beneath you on the employment scale – just so you know.”

When did I turn into such a bitch?

“Excuse me?”

“You’re surprised? The only reason you’re nice to me … hell, I don’t know why you’re nice to me, but from what I’ve heard you’re a damn dragon to just about everyone else. I don’t know if it’s bipolarism or what the fuck, but you really fired a woman for wearing an ugly skirt?”

Her mouth opened, and then it closed.

“The staff are loyal to you, not because they like you, but because they’re scared of you. And yeah, it works, but Jesus, don’t sit there and act sorry for me when you do it to everyone else every damn day.”

How was I not fired? What was I doing?

“Well, fuck, tell me how you really feel!”

She was pissed, I was pissed, and the air in the car was suffocating.

“So what happens now? Is the contract void? Do we just go back to normal?” I asked.

“What?” she looked confused, and still pissed, her arms crossed, and a scowl on her face.

“I’m guessing the Asshole is an ex of some kind? And from the looks of what I walked in on-”

“What you walked in on was a mistake, and one I won’t be making again…”

Oh.

“And for your information, yes he was an ex, and he was an ex for a reason. He’s not what I want … so if that’s what has your panties in a bunch, then kindly get a grip. God…”

“I just figured-”

“You just figured that I’m the kind of woman to make a deal, a huge deal might I add, one that I’m sure will end up giving me a damn ulcer, and then … what? Just dismiss it because some dick in a suit wants to bang me?”

I had no answer for that.

“I might be a bitch, Eric, but if this was a man, doing ANY of this, you know as well as I do it would just be ‘business,’ or ‘normal,'” she finger quoted, “but because I’m a woman, I’m a ‘bitch‘… and that’s fine. I don’t have time to fight that feminist battle, I’m too busy building a damn empire. So excuse me if I hurt your feelings today, or if you felt used, but it was what it was and … you were wrong … I was wrong.” She exhaled loudly after her breathless rant, and I just sort of sat there. I felt like an ass.

We were both silent for a few minutes, before I spoke.

“I’m sorry I overreacted,” I said, meaning it.

She nodded. “You did a little, I don’t know why you did, but you did. And yes, I know I’m a horror at work, Eric, but you’ve met Jason. Nothing gets done if I’m nice to them. They’d walk all over me. I know you’re different, do you think I’d enter into our plan with you if I didn’t think I could trust you? That’s why I’m nice to you – as you put it – I’m myself around you. I like that I can relax around you, it’s not a normal occurrence for me at work … so I should have made Remy pay you more respect … you’re owed it.”

“Assholes like him don’t get it though, they think they’re better than everyone.”

“I thought I was just the same?” she cocked her brow.

“Well … maybe not … exactly the same,” I said, unable to contain my smile. She was staring me down, comically.

“Gee, thanks.”

Was she flirting, was I flirting?

“You’re welcome,” I laughed, and she just elbowed me before folding her arms again.

“Are we okay? I mean is this … fight or whatever it is … is it over? Are we okay again?”

“You really threw him out?”

She just glared before I answered, “Yeah we’re okay, and I don’t know why I reacted like I did. I guess I just … care.” I did know, I was jealous; I just wasn’t ready to admit it.

She smiled before she reined it in. She liked that I cared, I knew it, and I didn’t contain my smile at the thought.

“You want to come up for dinner? I mean, I can’t promise you anything spectacular, it’s just lamb chops and mashed potatoes, but I can promise an epic dessert,” I offered, because clearly I am just a glutton for punishment … or I liked her.

Okay so I liked her, a lot, sue me.

“Oh, no, I wouldn’t want to butt in not after everything today-”

“Sookie,” I leaned in a little, okay, maybe a little too close, and I noticed when she held her breath. “I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t mean it. If you want, you’re more than welcome, if not, not a big deal, and I’ll see you tomorrow. Your call.”

She looked down, and then she looked at me again, considering her options more than likely.

“Sure, why not.”

SPOV:

Ten seconds after walking into Eric’s apartment Emily was all over me, literally up in my arms with her mouth going a mile a minute. I have to admit, the happiness in her eyes at seeing me, wasn’t a bad thing. In fact, I loved it.

“And then we played shop and I got to be the counter person and then Taylor and I made a million dollars and bought our dolls new houses!” she exclaimed as Eric rolled his eyes behind her back – washing his hands at the sink before grabbing the meat out of the fridge.

“What did you do at work today, Sookie? See anymore cool dresses?”

“A few, mostly it was just boring phone calls and meetings though.”

“That doesn’t sound fun.”

“Not so much. Need a hand, Eric?”

“Nah, I’m good. You want a glass of wine? Or beer, or … water … and of course the array of apple juice boxes in the fridge.”

I opted for apple juice, as did Emily. Eric had a beer. I watched him as he slipped totally and completely into parent mode. There was ‘homework’ at the table while he cooked, she did a few spellings and showed him her art work from pre-school that day, and then she decided that we were boring and parked herself in front of the TV while I offered to help Eric cook.

“You can cook?” he looked surprised.

“Why so shocked? I am a good southern girl after all.”

“No, I’m not, I just figured you were one of those city girls now, you know the ‘I make reservations, not dinner’ clique,” he laughed, putting on a screechy voice to imitate said women.

“I know those women, and on occasion I can do that, but I like to cook…”

“But?”

“Well, it’s not so fun cooking big meals for just one person you know? So it’s easier to make reservations or in my case, a take out phone call.”

He nodded, “I get that. I’ve been trying to teach myself some things for her. Ames was basically her go to nutritionist for the last two years; it’s not fair to her. So, I’ve been trying.”

“How’s it going so far?” I peek into his boiling veg, and his browning pork chops, nothing was burned so far.

“I only set the kitchen on fire once, and that was for just a second, so … good.”

I loved his smile. I hated that it was rarely seen at work … which was my fault. I was a total bitch to people at times, but he knew my reasons. That, and sometimes people were just fuckin’ idiots.

By the time dinner was served Emily had lost a lot of her energy. Gone was the hyper talk and movement, replaced with silent nods and sleepy eyes. Poor thing.

“About next week…” Eric brought up. “What happens there?”

I shrugged. “I think it shouldn’t be too thought out, maybe? I mean how do we bring it up?” I nodded to Emily, who was digging into her chops.

“Well, we’re friends, and friends have sleepovers … you know? Innocent enough.”

“And that would be okay?” I wanted to be very careful were Emily was concerned. Eric and I understood the deal, she didn’t, and I didn’t want her to be part of it, but sadly we both knew that wasn’t going to happen.

“I think it’s necessary, to save any confusion when things … change.”

“Right, of course.” When we went back to ‘normal,’ I guess things would change, even if I didn’t like that idea very much.

“So, I figure maybe Sunday night? Come over, and we can just get her used to the place, and … you too I guess… I mean, I don’t know, I just don’t want anyone unnecessarily uncomfortable when Gran comes, you know?”

He nodded as he ate, “Sure, yeah that makes sense. Emily?”

“Hmm?” she looked up.

“How would you feel if we had a sleep over at Sookie’s house next week?”

Her eyes grew wide, “Really?”

“Yeah, since Sookie and I are friends now, that’s what friends do, right?”

“I do it with Taylor all the time. Can we really, Sookie?”

“Sure!” I said, trying to keep this a good thing for her.

“Cool! Can I play with Tina?”

“If it’s okay with Eric…”

“Who’s Tina?”

“The cat…”

“Oh … um, sure, I guess if Tina is okay with it…” he added.

“Awesome, can I go tell Taylor, Eric?”

And suddenly her energetic excited self was back.

“Finish your potatoes and vegetables first, and then you can go.”

I’ve never seen a kid eat carrots so fast before she hopped off her chair and demanded that Eric take her down the hall to tell her friend. He came back five minutes later, Emily-less.

“Ames said they could play dolls for a half hour,” he exhaled loudly. “God, she’s so hyper now.”

“Sorry about that.”

“Nah, I just don’t know where she gets the energy; I wish I had a supply of it.”

We both took our drinks and sat on the couch in front of some random comedy show with a laugh track in the background, neither of us really eager to break the silence, until I had to.

“Eric, about before…”

“Don’t, I’m over it, I shouldn’t have gotten under it to be honest, seriously-”

“It’s about everything really. I just … I want us to … if we can, start over? Clean slate? I think we’re friends now, it feels like we’re friends. Hell, you know more about me than most of my friends at this point, and I trust you. That’s not an easy thing for me to do, or to admit to, I just … can we?”

“What does this clean slate clean, exactly? Because there are a few things on the old slate that I kinda like…” he grinned, and I knew he was thinking about that night in his kitchen. If I’m honest I didn’t want to wipe that either.

Was I blushing?”

He brushed my cheek and made a hissing sound, “You’re so RED right now, it’s so … unexpected.”

“Oh, shut up!” I looked away from him.

“No, no, no. You’re blushing, what were you thinking about just now? I mean clearly I meant all those lovely afternoons that I spent in Starbucks for you, those are memories I never want to lose.”

I just rolled my eyes at his sarcasm, pretending to watch the TV.

“Other than the Starbucks lovin’, those couple of times we sort of attacked each other half naked … those were good times too … I guess,” he shrugged, watching TV with me too, and I had to look at him, and then he broke out into a grin again.

“You are such a troll it’s not even funny!”

With that, he burst out laughing. “I think the clean slate is a good idea, Sookie, but with those few exceptions…”

“I get it, I do. I just want things to be … easier. You know? Less … tension, less everything.”

He nodded. “We both know the reason for that, but that … just isn’t part of the deal.”

I was blushing again. We knew, we also knew why it was off the table in the deal. It wasn’t meant to be emotional, it was meant to be business. As I sat there, watching him watch me, feeling him so physically close to me, edging ever closer emotionally, I knew it then.

We were both screwed.


*Rubs hands together* How we feelin’ about this one guys? xox


Chapter 14: Chapter 14


SPOV:

“I think there are maybe too many pillows…” I said, moving a few to the closet by the door, and reassessing the couch, or maybe a better word would be obsessing.

Having told Maxine – my nosy yet completely amazing housekeeper that I’d be having guests over she and I then spent the Saturday making sure the apartment was perfect for them and for my Grandmother too. I’d gone grocery shopping with her, a first for us just to make sure I’d have everything in stock that a five year old and a grown ass man could possibly need. I wasn’t used to having guests over, not in my apartment and not for more than a few hours; I had parties, and dinners, but never over night guests. Remy had reminded me of that, I had a nervous tick about him spending the night with me. I had no problem with him invading my body, but invading my space before I’d had my hot shower and my hotter coffee, well that was just not acceptable. And now here I was not only voluntarily inviting a guy to stay, but a little girl there too.

“She likes fruit…” I said piling bananas, oranges, apples and strawberries into the cart and wheeling it onward. “And Eric said she liked something else too… my mind has gone blank.”

“Well Dear, she’s five, most five year olds just like to live on junk food if they could get away with it.”

“She’s different, it’s weird, she actually likes fruit and stuff, and actually told Eric off a time or two about how she ‘needs’ healthier food. It was sort of adorable.” I said, nodding and going to the dairy aisle and picking up some cheeses and some yogurts, and eggs too.

“You seem smitten, if I may say so that is.” The jolly round woman that I’d known for four years commented. She’d been my housekeeper since I moved in, she sort of ‘came with’ the apartment as it were, and she did a good job and we didn’t clash on a lot of things. I just looked back at her confused, she’d never commented on my personal life before; it wasn’t our thing to over-share with one and other.

“I’m not; she’s just a nice kid…”

“And this Eric? He seems just as nice as she does, I wonder if they weren’t sent into your life for a reason, Sookie?”

Yeah, the reason of my needing an assistant that knew his ass from his elbow.

“I don’t believe in all that, Maxine.”

“In all what?”

“You know, ‘fate’ and ‘destiny’ and all that jazz. I mean I find it hard to believe that someone somewhere is like the great big librarian in the sky who is keeping track of our every move so that some ‘destiny’ can take place…”

She sighed, “Well, I think it’s a romantic notion, and a comforting one at that.”

I didn’t disbelieve in a God, or Gods. I knew what she meant with the comfort, we wanted someone up there, watching out for us. Who wouldn’t take comfort in that?

“I guess.”

We rounded by the butcher section, meat, right… would I be cooking? I hadn’t figured that out, but I guessed it would be a good idea to have things in just in case anyone wanted a meat filled sandwich or whatever. Two hours and fourteen bags of food later, we returned.

“All the towels are laundered and in the closet in the bathroom, the room is made up for the little girl, and I just have to finish off your Grandmother’s bedding now.” Maxine said, hurrying around as if her life depended on it, Tina following her around like she did with most people when they came in, nosy little thing she was. I resigned myself to finish off the last of the week’s paper work, then tidied up my office a little, and then decided that Tina and I could chill out with a movie. I needed something to Zen me out, I needed something where I could just sit down and forget about my troubles, forget about my lies and how I was going to tell them.

EPOV:

Emily sat on the side of sink in front of me, slapping on my shaving cream with the tiny brush, meticulously making sure my beard was covered.

“All done?” I asked, and she just nodded happily, dipping the bush into the water then grabbing the can of foam and squirting some in her hands to slap it on her own face.

“Ho, ho, ho…” she said, smiling through her now white beard. I just let her play and grabbed my razor to shave.

“And can I bring my Dora doll?”

Part of the conversation we’d momentarily stopped, all about our sleepover plans at Sookie’s.

“Sure, but not too many toys okay? You can bring four toys.”

“Just four?” she wined.

“Yes.”

“But…why?”

“Why four?”

“Yes!”

“Because five is too many, and I know you can pick four of your very favourite things to bring.”

“But why just four? What about five favourite things?”

“Four.”

“Five.”

“Emily…” I sighed, and gave her the look, she just sighed then too.

“Four is okay…” she had her ‘poor me’ face on, but I wasn’t falling for it at first, instead I finished saving, and grabbed the warm cloth to wipe off the rest of the shaving foam from my face. Looking at her through the mirror as she messed with her white beard, and one of her Barbie bubble baths, I felt bad for her. I always did when she gave in to things easily, I was pretty sure I was a walk over where she was concerned.

“Come ‘ere,” I said taking the cloth and wiping her beard off, “Five toys, and two books…how about that?”

She smiled wrapping her arms around my neck and clinging onto me kissing me on the cheek loudly.

“Okay, okay, but you have to do what I say when we get there, and be a good girl and not run around making a mess, okay? Sookie is my friend now, but she’s still my boss, and we don’t want to make a bad impression now do we?” I said, carrying her to her room before I swung her up in the air and landed her on the bed with a swish and a loud laugh from her.

“No, I promise I’ll be good. Good like how I am when I stay with Taylor’s Granma. She likes me you know; she said I’m a nice young lady. A lady, like they had in them olden day movies!” I laughed at her then, sad that my little sister thought that a nice young lady was only a fictional thing in a movie.

“Okay, I need you to pack your things, you can take your backpack for the books, put the toys in my over night bag, I have your clothes packed.”

“What clothes?”

“I don’t know…some jeans and underwear, some sweaters…why?”

“Are they my pretty clothes that Sookie boughted me?”

“I…think a couple of them are, why?”

She shrugged, “I like ’em that’s all.”

I studied her for a second, “do you want to look pretty… for Sookie?”

She smiled, “she’s really pretty, and she told me before that I was pretty.”

That made me pout, “I tell you you’re pretty all the time, Squirt.”

She sighed, as if I was the world’s biggest idiot.

“Well, yeah, but you’re a BOY.”

“So?”

“Boys don’t know pretty.”

“Says who?”

“I don’t know… me,” I stood stunned that this little girl thought so much of her appearance already, and suddenly she’s sixteen and dating and wearing makeup and kissing boys…oh Jesus Christ.

I pull her up on the bed so she was standing, still shorter than me, but it made for better eye contact.

“Listen, I’m your big brother, okay? I’m not just some dumb boy. And I’m telling you, you’re a beautiful little girl, okay? In the new clothes, or the boring old clothes you’ve had for months and months, do you know why?”

She shook her head, so I continued, “Because you are beautiful, it doesn’t matter what you wear or how much it cost…” in that moment I was anxious about what Sookie’s involvement in her life might be doing to her. Sookie wasn’t a shallow person, but her profession was. It was all about cashing in on people’s insecurities; look better, richer, and more expensive than the other women. It was all a competition.

“And besides you’re too young to be worrying about things like this anyway.”

It was moments like these that I dreaded, wishing harder than anything that Mom was here to fix things, to give her the cuddle and the pep talk that only she could give to her daughter. She was right, on some level I was just a boy, and I was just her big brother doing my best to be her substitute father and mother, and brother all in one. It was hard, and most days I did feel like I was failing. Failing her, failing myself and most of all failing my parents. She was my responsibility, and I was trying really hard not to break her. It made me second guess everything in that moment, what I was doing working where I was, and most of all second guessing my deal with Sookie. I knew she didn’t want Emily affected by what we were doing, and we’d been careful about the planning of things because of that, but I still felt uneasy now. I felt uneasy because I knew there was something there. A Feeling, chemistry, something that I couldn’t shake off. And it was unexplored and new and scary all at once, but now I wondered if it was worth it? Was doing this only going to expose Emily to more doubts about herself and her looks? At such a young age? Did other kids go through this so young? Was it just her? Was I the only one that didn’t know how the fuck to deal with this? I questioned myself to death by the time Hoyt arrived to pick us up; he came up and came in to the apartment waiting for us to gather our stuff for the few days at Sookie’s place. He looked around, stuffing his hands in his pocket, an unreadable expression on his face.

“You okay, man?” I asked, counting if I had everything set out in front of me that Emily could possibly need for a few days.

“Yeah sure… fine…”

“But?” I sounded out, “you look like you wanna say something.”

“I just… I mean it’s not by business. I just didn’t know you and Sookie were like ‘that’…is all.” He shrugged.

“Oh… well I mean its –”

“Nah man, it’s cool you know, she’s hot. I mean, she’s mental, but I see the appeal there definitely, I don’t blame you for tapping that,” he whispered, as Emily came stomping out of her room, Dora under her arm, backpack on her back.

“READY!”

“It’s not like that though, Hoyt it’s –”

“Complicated. Yeah, kinda like Jason and Sophie…”

That felt like a punch in the gut, we were nothing like those two in any aspect of our relationship.

“No, dude, seriously it’s nothing like that at all.”

“I’m not judging, Eric, I’d lose my job if I did. I’m just here to drive y’all around on time, and if we chat much more we’ll be late and she’ll be mad, so…” he looked at the few bags on the floor.

“This your lot?”

“Yeah I can manage though –”

“Not at all, you’re her guest and I’m tasked with getting you there, you and all your things…so let me.”

I grabbed two of the bags quickly, leaving him with a tiny one; he huffed but made his way out and down the hall. I hated that his attitude towards me had changed so quickly, but I thought that if he ‘knew’ about Sookie and I, the rest of the guys at work must have too, which just meant that I’d have more weirdness to contend with. Awesome.

SPOV:

I was tense, nervous, and obsessing over the state of my place. What if she got bored, what if Eric and I ran out of things to talk about? Shit, I’d not thought of that before, what if it was awkward as all hell when he got here? When I’d left his place at the end of the week, things had been tense, but a different kind of tense. We’d been flirting, a thing I found that he and I were doing more and more of when we were left to our own devices, and both of us doing very little to put a stop to it. Flirting was nice, I’d missed flirting, I was rusty as all hell at it, and it was innocent – for the most part, and really fun and he was cute… so it was dangerous for me to be doing it. Or even thinking about it! Given the circumstances at work, and with my Gran and the little show we had to put on for her, well, it was a fine line we were walking that’s for sure.

But, Eric was a nice guy, a nice guy who was helping me out, and who also had the tall, blond, and hotness working for him quietly underneath his unassuming demeanour. He was nothing like any of the other men I’d dated, or in this case ‘fake’ dated. He wasn’t flashy, or a show off, and he didn’t need to rub his successes in my face every five minutes, or continuously remind me what a stud he was. I was sure Eric was successful in his area of study, his recommendations spoke so highly of him, and I often wondered why he was working for me when he was basically one of those Beautiful Mind guys when it came to numbers, apparently. But, I respected his choice to change careers, even if I didn’t fully understand why.

They arrived just before noon, I left word with the doorman to make sure he didn’t stall them this time, and I went back to make sure the rooms were clean enough. I left my door open and heard them comment to each other as they arrived.

“Wow this place is so clean!” Emily whispered, loudly.

“Shh.”

“Well, it is! Our house is never this white.”

“That’s because you’re a kid, and nothing stays this white for long.”

She ‘tutted’ at him, “can we tell her we’re here?”

“Sure?” He said, leaving something heavy on the floor with a thud.

“Soooooookie? We’re heeeeeeeere!” she said, and it made me laugh as I came down the staircase.

“Hey guys, come on in…Welcome….all that.” I said, smiling at Emily who was grinning so wide I thought it would hurt her cheeks. Eric on the other hand just looked nervous as hell. I can’t say I blame him, this was a game changer, there were lines being crossed that I didn’t even know existed, and I was pretty sure there was no going back after this.

“Hi! Where’s Tina?” Emily asked.

“She’s…I think she’s in my bedroom, you wanna go play with her for a while? She has a few toys in there somewhere too.”

“Sure!” she said, dropping her doll and trudging towards the staircase, her patent shoes clapping on the wooden floor and then on the stairs as she took them as fast as she could.

“Hey…”I said, once he and I were alone. Still he stood there, his jacket on, tense and awkward. He just nodded, “Do…you want to leave the stuff in her room? It’s the second door on the right, next to the bathroom…Or we can leave the stuff until later, or we could get food? Do you want to go out, or order in… I can think of a few –”

“You’re nervous?” he said, breaking my ramble.

“I… I mean…” I ran my hand through my hair, “aren’t you?”

“Completely.” He said, with a smile, and a nervous laugh. It made me smile, glad that I wasn’t the only one internally freaking out.

“Oh…” I exhaled in relief, “good…I mean not ‘good’, but it’s good that you…that I… you know?”

He nodded, finally easing out of his black jacket.

“She arrives tomorrow?” Obviously referring to Gran.

“Yeah, and she’s here until Wednesday, but you guys can go home anytime you want, please don’t let her make you or Emily feel uncomfortable, okay? I don’t want that, not for you, and definitely not for her.” I was firm on that, if anyone of my family that was sure to pop up once they heard Gran was in town were in anyway disrespectful to them, the gloves were off. I knew Eric could handle it, but Emily was an innocent in all this.

“I’m sure it’ll be fine, they’re your family, how bad could it get if they showed up?”

“With Jason and Crystal? Not bad at all, Claudine and Ralph? She’s a bitch, so anything is possible, her husband is a Goddamn asshole too, so if they show up I’m going to need wine, or crack to get through it.” I laughed, and we took to the couch, the TV a welcome distraction in the background. I hated that we were both so stilted in the moment, yes it was awkward as all fuck, but we got on well at work, conversations weren’t this awkward.

“What do you want to do for lunch? Or did you guys already eat? I bought a ton of food…or we could go out.”

He shrugged, “she’s probably hungry, I’m okay right now, but if we’re going to eat I won’t say no.”

“Is that another way of saying ‘yes Sookie I’ll do lunch?'”

“Yes.”

I sighed and nodded, making my way to the kitchen, “men, always making things overly complicated.” I muttered loudly, laughing to myself as I went, knowing he’d hear me.

“Oh, that’s rich coming from Miss OCD over there… uh huh…” he said, following me into the kitchen, leaning against the doorframe when he got there. Staring me down in a way that only he could. The kind of stare that looked like a casual interest, and still somehow made a shiver run down my spine.

“I’m not OC-”

“How many times did you clean the apartment? Or fluff those perfectly fluffed pillows over there?” he motioned to the couch.

“Okay, so I just wanted things to be perfect for you guys, I had a lot of nervous energy. I’ve never done any of this before…”

“Made sandwiches?”

“Ha…ha very funny, asshole.” I said, moving around the kitchen, I had snacks and I was making amazing sandwiches, no matter what he thought, “this is a huge lie, all of it, and I don’t know, call me crazy, but I’m a little nervous about pulling it off.”

He nodded then, all signs of sarcasm gone.

“I know, it must suck having to resort to this for them, I need to understand that… I don’t have a family to disappoint anymore, at least not one that will understand how disappointing I am until she’s a lot older,” he smiled, “and I know that’s what you think, that you’re disappointing her, but Sookie this was her doing, one way or another, and you love your job enough to go to these extremes to keep it… if she doesn’t give you points for creativity and loyalty, then she needs her head examined.”

I sighed, still very unsure of what we were doing.

“I hope you’re right, I really do.”

“I am, and she’ll buy this, we’ll make sure of it…she’ll go home and in a few weeks everything will be secure and you can relax.”

I smiled at him, as he came into the kitchen behind me, his presence making the small area seem even smaller as he looked over my shoulder. The waft of his aftershave waving through my senses, it was a very masculine smell, and yet it wasn’t so strong and overwhelming to be repulsive… I liked it, whatever it was. I stalled cutting the cheddar as his hand grazed my knuckle in passing, stealing a piece that I’d already cut. With a cheeky grin he stepped back, knowing full well what he was doing by the looks of things.

“I’m going to go check on Emily, she’s far too quite, that only means she’s doing something she shouldn’t be.”

“Oh, okay…” I was left standing there, befuddled. This was all a lie, wasn’t it?

Right then, I wasn’t so sure who would be fooling who!


Next chapter – first night at her place! What should happen?


Chapter 15: Chapter 15


A little Christmas treat for you guys, a new chapter of DWD! Thanks so much for all the encouragement this year, it’s been amazing! See you in 2012!

EPOV:

I found Emily on the floor of Sookie’s extremely clean, and white on white bedroom, shockingly she was behaving herself. The cat looked pissed off though.

“Eric, this is Tina, Tina, this is Eric. He’s my big brother and kind of like a dad, but he’s mostly my big brother. Tina is a cat,” she pointed out, with a sweet smile.

“You want to come down and get something to eat? Sookie is making snacks.”

“Say hi to Tina, Eric, don’t be rude!” she said, lifting the skinny cat up in her tiny hands, and it looked even more bored with these shenanigans than it was before.

“Okay, hi Tina.” I said, shaking its paw, to keep Emily happy, “can we go eat now?”

“Sure!”

She put the cat back in its place, and took my hand to go downstairs, I made sure she washed her hands before we ate though, and thankfully lunch went by without incident, or without much awkward pausing. Then the girls decided that a trip to the park was in order, and really it was just what the doctor ordered. We managed to get some exercise, tire Emily out a lot, and clear the air a little.

“She is a really great parent, I mean, doing all she did for us and running a business like she did? It can’t have been easy, especially when Granddaddy died,” certain words she’s say and her southern accent came right back, it was cute, “Jason and I tried to help her out as much as we could growing up, I guess we had to grow up faster than most kids because of that….”

She looked at Emily, kicking a tiny pile of leaves, “but it was fun, for the most part…then far too serious in other parts.” She shrugged changing the subject, “want to get some coffee?”

I nodded, “Should I run to Starbucks and –”

“Don’t even!” She slapped me on the arm, as we called Emily back to us; all three of us bundled up for the chilly October Sunday we’d been enjoying.

“Hey, It’s hard you know, slipping in and out of work mode!”

“I guess, but hey, in a few days Gran will be here and gone, and we won’t have to pretend anything anymore, and work will just be…work.”

I exhaled, the situation was sticky whether we wanted to admit it or not.

We stopped for coffee for us and some hot chocolate contraption for Emily. Sookie got various phone calls throughout the day, ignoring most of them, and then one came in that changed her relaxed demeanour.

“What do you mean they got delivered to the office today, its SUNDAY…currier? On a Sunday? Jesus Christ, Andrew, those are four dresses that are worth more than my life, you can’t just let them sit out in front of the damn offices like that….oh, my God…” she ran her hand through her hair, she’d worn it down and slightly curled and it fluffed out of her cream coatdress. “Okay look I’ll… I’ll come down, I’ll be there, and can you just not leave them outside. Yes I know you’re security, and this is a screw up, but I’m asking you do just keep them safe,” she rolled her eyes, pressing the red button on her blackberry.

“What’s up?”

“Four vintage Dior gowns were delivered to the offices today, for a shoot on Tuesday that we’re doing across town. They were meant to be delivered on Tuesday…across town, but now I have to haul as-“she took note of Emily looking at her and reconsidered her choice of words, “I just have to get over there really quick which is the last thing that I needed right now, with everything going on, I’ve just been beyond stressed out and I –”

“I’ll go, I mean, it’s my job right? My main job?” I stood up, and left some cash on the table – before she could this time, and put Emily’s coat on.

“Yeah…but I mean its Sunday, I’m used to dealing with this shi…stuff,” she said, as Emily took her hand, and then mine quietly looking from me to Sookie and back again.

“It’s fine, if you don’t mind taking Emily back to your place?”

She shook her head, “No, of course not, we’d be okay together, right?”

Emily shook her head vigorously, and I just wrapped her Hello Kitty scarf a little tighter.

“Cool, I’ll drop by, sweet talk Andrew with some coffee and some sugar filled something’s and leave the packages in your office, I’ll be an hour tops.”

And with that we said our goodbye’s and I hightailed it across town, just as the rain started to pour – again. By the time I got back, two hours later, to find Sookie and Emily inside Sookie’s closet – a closet that could house a family of four might I add, I guess I was stressed and pushed to the edge with everything piling on top of me, including the ever growing, ever changing little sister that I wasn’t sure how to deal with at all… I snapped. It was innocent, completely and utterly, but when I saw her there with Sookie, dressed up in Sookie’s clothes, wearing make up and a freakin’ tiara, I lost my shit.

“Why is she wearing all that?”

Sookie smiled getting off the floor, “Oh, we’re playing dress up!” she said, as playful as I’m sure they’d been since I left, “isn’t she pre-”

“Take it off…”

Emily’s smiley face soon took on the expression of confused and then pouty.

“What? Why?” Sookie asked, flicking some glitter off her hands.

“Just…take it off. She can’t…she’s too young to be doing this shit-”

“Eric you said shit!”

“Quiet Emily, take that off right now!”

Both of them looked at me, Sookie was stunned and Emily just plain wasn’t having it, bursting into tears at my side.

I hated myself, I really did, plus I just completely didn’t understand where that had come from. Had I taken extra asshole pills with my coffee this morning?

Emily ran off into ‘her’ room, leaving me face to face with a fucked off Sookie. She folded her arms, her stern face a drastic contrast to her sequin dress and funny makeup that Emily had undoubtedly painted on.

“I don’t know what the fuck your problem is, but that? Was just fucking uncalled for.”

Sookie ordered pizza for all of us and popped in a DVD on her giant screen for Emily, without asking so much as what I wanted to eat; I guess she’d had enough of my bullshit from before. Being frozen out by one tiny woman was usually painful enough, but now I had two, very annoyed very hurt looking females glaring in my direction.

Needless to say, Emily’s bath time also went by in virtual silence, and after that it just got painful.

“Em’ I’m sorry okay?” I said, as I was tucking her in, she’d refused to let me help her with her nightgown either, and when I spoke she turned her head to the other side to ignore me.

“Emily, please look at me…?”

She did.

“I’m sorry, okay? I over reacted, and I just freaked out, I worry about you that’s all?”

“But why?”

“I just do. I don’t want…you growing up too fast. Grownups worry about kids, it’s what we do.”

“But I’m six in a few months, and I’m older than four girls in my class…and I can make pancakes now. You told me I had to be a big girl.”

I did tell her that, contradictive parenting 101.

“I know, but I didn’t mean like this.”

“It was only dress up.”

“I know, which is why I’m saying sorry for reacting the way I did, okay Sweetheart? I was…an ass.” She smiled.

“A donkey’s ass.” She said, breaking another smile.

“Yes, a great, big, smelly, ugly, donkey’s ass!” I punctuated by tickling her, “do you forgive me?”

She stopped laughing when I asked that, and pretended to think about it for a second, “Ummmmmmmmmm…”

“Hey come on, when you say sorry and mean it, what do I do?”

She rolled her eyes, “you forgive me and give me a cuddle…”

“So? Do I get a cuddle?”

“Do you promise not to be a donkey’s ass again?”

“I promise I’ll try, how’s that?”

“I guess its okay.”

I kissed her on the cheek and she squeezed me in a cuddle.

“You want a story?”

Getting Emily to sleep wasn’t that hard, she’d had an eventful day, and dropped off by the second story I’d made up for her. Going back to just Sookie and I was beyond awkward since she was still giving me the cold shoulder. Not just the cold shoulder, the cold looks, and the cold silence. She’d turned on a movie by the time I got back down there, she had a glass of wine, and there was popcorn on the table. She was looking through paperwork, work that I knew she’d been stressing about all of the previous week, having Jason take some days away from her at work was meant to de-stress her, but instead it seemed to make her more anxious. We sat and watched the movie for a while, the air filled with awkward silence. I knew I had to break it.

With my mini melt down, I’d swung things back right where we started. We were both standoffish and cautious. She sat on one end of her massive, sunken, comfortable couch, and I on the opposite end. The movie was fine, but the wheels spinning in my head meant I couldn’t concentrate on it like she was. She had her giant glass of wine, and I had my beer, the cat was sitting in the chair sleeping – though everyone once in a while she’d wake up, give us a judging look and curl back to sleep again. Twenty more minutes of watching Thor battle his ‘brother’ and I had to address it, I had to break the silence.

“I’m sorry, about before…”I said, softly. It earned me a look from Sookie, and she just shrugged.

“I told you, its fine. You’re her parent, I’m not… I over stepped my bounds and I’m sorry about that. It’s done… let’s just watch the movie.” She looked back to the TV again. I didn’t want to let it go though, not until I felt less like an asshole.

“I shouldn’t have over reacted…”

“But ya did…” she answered, aloof, still glued to the TV and not looking in my direction. One thing Sookie was great at, especially at work too, the bitch freeze. In this instance I was frozen out.

“Yeah, I did, and I hate that I did. It was douche bag thing to do, and I ended up upsetting everyone, and that’s really not what I wanted. Sookie, honestly, I’m just having a lot of issues with being a parent, especially lately…and I guess I handled it all wrong. I don’t want you or Em’ mad at me, okay? I just…”

“You just what?” she looked at me then, the ice not as frosty as it had been most of the night, “see you don’t explain this shit to me, Eric. I don’t know what it’s like to be a parent, or a make-shift parent to my kid sister, all I know is there’s a little girl who needs more women in her life… and I just wanted her to feel girly and pretty, and like the other little girls in there with their moms and sisters’ I wanted to make her feel special. And you, you shit all over that my insinuating that I was trying to force her into becoming some shallow little Goddamn Barbie doll.”

“I know, like I said, I’m a bastard for that.”

“Yes, you are. I mean, Jesus, what do you have against me here? I wasn’t doing anything that any other woman doesn’t do with her kids, or her nieces or her cousins… it was a fun harmless activity…and boom…”

“I’m sorry…”

“Why though? I want to know why you went off like that. Is it me, do you not want me around Emily because –”

“Christ no, it’s not that at all! She loves you…”

“Then…what?”

“I don’t know what I’m doing, okay? I don’t know how to be her brother, and a dad to her and a mom to her all at once, okay? I just don’t know how to do it right. I want so badly to raise her like my folks would have wanted, but they’re not here…and God…” I sighed, “I fucking wish so hard that they were, just to tell me what to do… but they aren’t, and I’m winging it, like I’ve been winging it for over two years now. And she’s changing so fast, I can’t keep up. I don’t want her to grow up too fast –”

“And that’s why you freaked out…the make up – which was just clear lip gloss and some glitter shadow by the way…the manicure…it set you off?” She was looking at me now, not full of disdain, but full of concern. I noticed too, we’d gotten closer to each other physically during our conversation. I felt like an idiot, that’s for sure. I just closed my eyes and shook my head, “I’m sorry, again.”

She laughed then, putting down her glass and scooting closer to me.

“Eric, here’s a little secret… no one knows what the fuck their doing when it comes to kids. Look at my brother and his wife, they made twins… neither of them knew shit… about any of it and they still manage to not kill their kids. Granted they named them and for that alone they should be brought up on abuse charges… but still. And my girlfriends who have babies? Winging it from day one. They have nannies, and family, friends that help out. The old saying ‘it takes a village?’ not just talking about the YMCA dance, Eric.”

That made me laugh, and it seemed the air around us relaxed a hell of a lot more than it had been before.

“Look, I’m not one to blow smoke up anyone’s ass, but she’s a great kid. Most of which, I’m guessing it down to you, some of it is genes, I’m sure… but she’s great. She’s sweet, and polite, she’s kind…trust me if you have visions of her turning into a nightmare…don’t. At least… not until she hits puberty, then all bets are off,” she smiled, petting my hand once before she grabbed my empty beer bottle and her empty glass and headed for the kitchen.

I walked in behind her a few seconds later, seeing her pouring another glass of wine.

“My village is pretty great.” I said, leaning against her counter top.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, I mean Ames and Trey; they’ve been a God send really. She helped me out of a lot of sticky situations, but literally and figuratively,” I smiled, pushing my glasses up, “Ame’s mom is like an angel in the form of a sixty-four year old…and Sam too… you’re right it does take a lot of people to raise a kid. I have people.”

“Glad you realize that…” she said, handing me another beer, and the look we shared told me that she had something else to say.

“I do…” I all but whispered back.

“And you have me, too. If… you want me,” she said, just as softly, breaking eye contact to look at her bare feet.

“Do I?”

Then she looked at me again, and it was like she saw through all my insecurities, all my bullshit and she really believed in what she’d said.

“Yeah, you do.”

Never had three words turned me on more in my life.

SPOV:

It came time for bed, and honestly I was more nervous about simply sleeping next to him than I had been for any sexual encounter in my entire life. Eric checked on Emily more than once, I knew he was as apprehensive as I was, and that in it self was really comforting. I washed up and put on my more modest pyjamas, covering me up in blue silk. I walked into my room and found Eric sitting on one side of my bed, wearing a long pair of black lounge pants and that alone. I put my bracelets on my dresser, and went to the left side of the bed. Neither of us said anything, and then suddenly, a few seconds after we’d both gotten under the covers, Eric started laughing. And laughing, and laughing.

“What the hell are you laughing at?” I asked, finally.

“This whole situation, both of us on pins and needles and all we’re doing is sleeping next to each other, you’d think we were teenagers, behaving like this…” he chuckled, making me smile too, it was really ridiculous, wasn’t it?

Seriously…” he smiled, turning to me, laying on his side, “we have to get comfortable with each other, Sookie, or she’ll know something isn’t right. We’re meant to be head over heels and all that stuff.”

“I know, it’s silly,” I admitted, given what we’d been through during the day still playing on my mind though.

“It is. So I say we fix that…”

That made me freeze, and he noticed.

“Calm down, I’m not suggesting anything like…that.” His eyes twinkled, and his smile got wider. The jackass knew exactly what he was doing.

“Then what, exactly.”

“Tell me stuff…?” he asked, cutely.

“What kind of stuff?” I shifted so I was on my elbow too, looking at him.

“The kind of stuff a boyfriend would be…expected to know.”

Oh, suddenly I felt self-conscious again.

“Well, you already know where I buy my underwear, and how I like my coffee…what else is there to know?” I smiled.

“Smartass… Real stuff, what if she asks?”

“She won’t.”

“But if she does….”

It was my turn to roll my eyes; I guess we were having this conversation then.

“Okay fine, fire away…”

He thought for a second, looking magically mischievous while doing so, and then he asked…

“How many guys have you had sex with?”

I slapped him on the arm, “she will NOT be asking for that.”

“Yeah but if she does…?”

I glared at him and he just laughed.

“Are you too shy to admit it?” he teased.

“How many have you had sex with?” I asked to avoid the question even more.

“Men?” he snorted, “happy to say none, man sex virgin.”

I punched him again.

“Okay, women.” I clarified.

“Not including fooling around to oral. Full on sex… twelve.”

“Oh…”

“Were you expecting more or less?” He smiled.

“I don’t really know what I was expecting….”

“Well, I answered…”

Rolling my eyes I answered “I’ve had sex with…ahem…fifteen guys.”

His eyes widened.

“What? Why the wide eyes?” was he judging me, did I care that he was? Should I have cared that he was? I didn’t know how to react.

“No, no wide eyes that’s just…you know.. Higher than mine…”

“Well, I went through a phase in college, a really slutty, band groupie phase…” I blushed.

“It’s not a lot… okay it’s a lot, but I’ve known people who are a lot higher in numbers than we are…”

I smiled, “backtracking…”

“No! I mean, I can’t really talk, I had my own ‘phase’.”

“Groupie?”

“No, not so much the groupie, as the group.”

I squinted, ” huh?”

“Well, I was part of a semester abroad. A group of us math nerds went to Oxford…we had accents and access to getting girls higher math grades. So, you know they’d kind of offered to … if we tutored them.”

I gaped, “Oh, my god!”

“Well, I was nineteen and a skinny geek! I wasn’t going to say no when hot British girls who thought I had a really cute accent and a nice ‘bum’ offered to fuck me!”

“No, I’m not shocked at that, shit I’d be worried if you DID refuse…no… basically you have a life time pattern of getting into shady ass deals with …attractive women! Doesn’t that worry you?”

“That I’m a sucker for a pretty face?” he smirked, laying down on his back and looking up at the ceiling, “No, maybe it should but I don’t regret anything I’ve said yes to…”

“Not yet at least…”

“So, a groupie huh… that I didn’t expect.”

I rolled my eyes, “Yeah, I had a thing for musicians and then for Artists, and I once found me an artistically gifted painter who was also a guitar player… I was in heaven.” I smiled, “of course he was a total bum and we hardly had anything in common to make a conversation, but he was hot and I guess I didn’t care for much else then.”

He nodded.

“My Gran will not be asking those questions.”

“What will she ask me then?”

“About you, mostly, where you went to school, what you studied. You might have to leave out the whole – you tutored for pussy thing though.”

He laughed again and I realised that we’d totally relaxed with each other in that moment. I guess embarrassing confessions did that.

“I guess she’ll want to know why I’m ‘just’ an assistant?”

I shrugged, “it’s not like it’s something I haven’t wondered myself…”

“Why though?”

“You’re really smart, Eric. Like, your references were from world class professors…I googled!”

He smiled, blushing a little. I like that he was one of the few guys who were smart but didn’t feel the need to rub it in anyone’s face.

“I guess…”

“So then why’d you really drop out of that research job, was it just because of Emily?”

He shrugged, “Partly her, partly me. I wanted to in New York, I wanted to be around more, and I was looking for something new. There were a few iffy jobs, I won’t lie. My retail experience for example…” he smiled, “I spent my university life, my teen years – with numbers, not people.”

“Was it hell?”

“Total hell, I worked in a pet store for a year, Emily is never allowed a pet,” he laughed again, shaking his head, “maybe a dog, a small dumb one. No birds.”

“I’m scared of birds.” I admitted.

“I don’t blame you, flying rats, flying evil rats. Once one attacked me, and like dug its claws into my head! …then it shit in places that I don’t wanna talk about… just …no.”

The image of him with a bird on his head, shitting on him made me laugh and the more I tried to stop the laugh, the harder it got.

“Oh my God I can’t breathe…” I rolled over, and back, giggling.

“You look good when you laugh, you should laugh more,” I rolled towards him again, finally calming down, the funny image of him in my head replaced with the look on his face as he watched me. Neither of us said anything for a few seconds, and then he spoke, flooring me.

“What’s the policy on touching?”

“…touching? Like…how?”

“Like, we’re a couple; we’ve…been intimate, right?”

I didn’t answer, “So, we’re comfortable with each other, with the touching.”

“What kinda touching we talkin’ about here?” I jerked my eyebrows, “I mean are we talking third base at the dinner table or –”

“No, I mean when I’m with a woman,” that didn’t make my heart beat faster or anything, not at all, “I’m tactile, and …attentive,” he said, his eyes flashing to my lips.

Mind in the gutter; mind all down in the gutter.

“Is that right?”

“Yeah, how are you with guys?”

“Honestly, I’m sort of afraid of PDA…A little…a lot.” I shrugged.

“Why?”

“I don’t know, I just don’t like the idea of people judging me like that, and kissing and groping, they’re intimate personal things that I don’t think the world needs to see…”

He nodded, “I respect that, but Sookie, she needs to see it, this isn’t real…right?”

“Right?”

“So, I can’t think of a better way of securing in her mind that we’re together and you’re balancing your life better by giving a guy a shot, than by giving this guy a shot and going for it.”

“What you’re saying is shit or get off the pot.”

He laughed, “Yes, eloquent as always, Boss.”

“You can take the girl out of Louisiana, an all that.”

“I’d like to see Louisiana Sookie come out to play more…”

“Anything else you’d like?”

He bit his lip, and God help me I wanted to replace his teeth with mine. So many lines were crossed; in fact I was pretty sure the line was now so crossed I was expecting Jesus to show up on it.

“There are a few things I’d like, but I’m not so sure it’s so right wanting them…”

“Oh?”

I waited for him to tell me, instead he just shook his head and looked to the ceiling again.

“Come on, tell me!” I poked him in the arm.

“I want to make out with you. There, I said it.”

I just rolled my eyes.

“I mean I’m not talking about blowing me in a bathroom or something, and I know, I know it’s not meant to be on the table, but ever since the first time we did …that… it’s been on my mind.”

“Blowing you in a bathroom? What is going on in that head of yours?” I laughed, he shrugged smiling, “hey I can’t help it, full time case of foot in mouth, what can I say.”

“Or dick in mouth, as you’d clearly like it to be,” I giggled.

He got quiet, and honestly I don’t know if it was just to break the tension, or just to see how he’d react, but I softly reached over, turned his face to me, and kissed him sweetly once on the lips, and I didn’t move back until he opened his eyes.

“You sure?” he choked out, and I just shrugged moving back in for another kiss.

It was going to be an interesting night, that’s for sure.


Merry Christmas again! Reviews are adored! xox


Chapter 16: Chapter 16


Hey guys! This one was slow in coming because for a little while there I was pretty sure the mojo had died on all my fanfic ideas, but, I opened this tonight and started to see how things would go… and boom! Chapter 16 was born! Really excited to share it, and of course to hear what you think, as always!

Previously on Devil Wears Discount :

“What’s the policy on touching?”

“…touching? Like…how?”

“Like, we’re a couple; we’ve…been intimate, right?”

I didn’t answer, “So, we’re comfortable with each other, with the touching.”

“What kinda touching we talkin’ about here?” I jerked my eyebrows, “I mean are we talking third base at the dinner table or –”

“No, I mean when I’m with a woman,” that didn’t make my heart beat faster or anything, not at all, “I’m tactile, and …attentive,” he said, his eyes flashing to my lips.

Mind in the gutter; mind all down in the gutter.

“Is that right?”

“Yeah, how are you with guys?”

“Honestly, I’m sort of afraid of PDA…A little…a lot.” I shrugged.

“Why?”

“I don’t know, I just don’t like the idea of people judging me like that, and kissing and groping, they’re intimate personal things that I don’t think the world needs to see…”

He nodded, “I respect that, but Sookie, she needs to see it, this isn’t real…right?”

“Right?”

“So, I can’t think of a better way of securing in her mind that we’re together and you’re balancing your life better by giving a guy a shot, than by giving this guy a shot and going for it.”

“What you’re saying is shit or get off the pot.”

He laughed, “Yes, eloquent as always, Boss.”

“You can take the girl out of Louisiana, an all that.”

“I’d like to see Louisiana Sookie come out to play more…”

“Anything else you’d like?”

He bit his lip, and God help me I wanted to replace his teeth with mine. So many lines were crossed; in fact I was pretty sure the line was now so crossed I was expecting Jesus to show up on it.

“There are a few things I’d like, but I’m not so sure it’s so right wanting them…”

“Oh?”

I waited for him to tell me, instead he just shook his head and looked to the ceiling again.

“Come on, tell me!” I poked him in the arm.

“I want to make out with you. There, I said it.”

I just rolled my eyes.

“I mean I’m not talking about blowing me in a bathroom or something, and I know, I know it’s not meant to be on the table, but ever since the first time we did …that… it’s been on my mind.”

“Blowing you in a bathroom? What is going on in that head of yours?” I laughed, he shrugged smiling, “hey I can’t help it, full time case of foot in mouth, what can I say.”

“Or dick in mouth, as you’d clearly like it to be,” I giggled.

He got quiet, and honestly I don’t know if it was just to break the tension, or just to see how he’d react, but I softly reached over, turned his face to me, and kissed him sweetly once on the lips, and I didn’t move back until he opened his eyes.

“You sure?” he choked out, and I just shrugged moving back in for another kiss.

It was going to be an interesting night, that’s for sure.

EPOV:

I was joking; well, half joking, about making out with her. I wanted it, sure, but I also wanted to mess with her just to see how far she’d go. I never expected her to make the first move, not this time. Not after all her protests, but, she did.

Light, playful, flirtatious kisses at first, before I worked up the nerve to take charge of the situation. Cradling her face, bringing her closer and deepening the kisses, next thing I knew, she had slid gently on top of me, running her fingers down my bare arm lightly making my skin break out in goose bumps. My heart was pounding in my chest, but it was a great feeling, one I missed terribly. Her soft pyjamas were no match for her skin though, sweet, smooth, and smelling like… coconut; I enjoyed tasting her lips, her neck, listening to her moan softly and melt in my arms. Doing my best not to push things too far, I tempted my fate and pushed her back, rolling us over so I lay over her body, parting her legs open so we fit together comfortably. She groaned as my weight fell on top of her, closing her eyes momentarily and biting her lip. God I loved her lips, her mouth, her jaw line…all of it. I found myself frantically needing to taste it all. We made eye contact for a second before she took my hands and put them on the buttons of her top, encouraging me to pop them open like a kid opening a Christmas present, I may have growled. Popping open the buttons exposed her breasts to me, perfect and pert, weighing heavy but soft in my hands as I palmed them gently as we kissed and grinded together a little deeper than before. I realised a few things making out with Sookie like I was, one, she really doesn’t mind being dominated – in bed, at least as far as we were going she seemed fine with me in control, and for once, it was a nice change in our dynamic. Two, I was pretty much in love with her breasts, and her mouth, and her moans. And three; I really, really wanted to have sex with her. It seemed like we were going that way too, her hands were edging slowly down my pants, and I was aching for her to touch me, just like it seemed she was just as eager for me to touch her. Dry humping can only go so far, and friction was necessary. With her hands on my dick and mine inching inside her, it was perfect, it was heaven. Her breath was hitching and ragged, her tight heat amazing against my fingertips, watching her body react to my touch, fantastic. We’d both worked each other up, into a panting, hot, mess, and wrecked her perfectly made bed in the process.
“Harder, just a little bit harder…” She panted near my ear, and I pushed harder, working her with my hand, earning an arch and a moan for my efforts, “I’m not gonna break you know…” she said again, spurring me on even more, with a sly smile from her. I was close, so damn close and all we were doing was jerking each other off, I wanted it to last longer, I wanted to have sex! But no, it just wasn’t to be.

“Eric I’m thirsty…” came the voice on the other side of the door, both Sookie and I froze in place. Then the handle on the door jiggled.

“It jams…” Sookie said pushing me off her, and buttoning up her top at warp speed, it seemed like. The door continued to jiggle, “ERIC, can I has some water PLEASE?”

“Jesus…” I said, trying to will my erection away, not having much luck. Sookie smirked at me, and pushed me back into bed, putting the comforter around me.

“What?”
“I’ll handle her; you can’t very well go out there with …that…” She nodded at my groin, and I guess she had a point. She opened the door to her bedroom with a very cheerful, and very fake, smile.

“Hey you, what are you doin’ out of bed?”
“I’m thirsty; can Eric get me some water?” Emily said, looking up at Sookie and then to me, her eyes sleepy and her hair a mess.

“How about,” Sookie suggested, “I put you back in bed, and go get you some water, how about that? Eric’s tired okay, so let me do it?”

She poked her head around the door, and I asked her if it was okay, she agreed, and put her arms up for Sookie to carry her back to bed. Sookie looked in too, “you might want to um…take care of that…” she wriggled her eyebrows with a laugh before she disappeared around the corner, and I was left to take matters into my own hands – again, of course. Begrudgingly I trampled my way to her en-suite bathroom and bitterly began to jerk myself off. It just wasn’t fair, the first sign of other humanly action I’d gotten in a good long while and she was being a tiny cock blocking sister! I shut off all other thought, other than Sookie, and her mouth and what it might have been capable off, had we continued. Oh and how I wish we had continued…

After I was done, I peeked back into her bedroom and Sookie still wasn’t back. I had wondered for a second if she’d gone to the store for Evian or something, knowing Sookie like I did, it wouldn’t have been that much of a shock. Instead, I took a shower while I waited for her to return, I felt the need to wash off the shame I felt for begrudging my sister water just because I wanted an orgasm. I washed up quickly and dried off even quicker, eager to see if we could perhaps pick up where we left off, as I went in search of Sookie. I found her, lying next to Emily in the big bed covered in lemon and white bedding, sound asleep. A glass of water half empty on the bedside locker, ignored. I know how it felt!

Well, fuck.

Emily was curled up in a little ball, like she always did when she slept, only this time her hand was in Sookie’s, holding on even in her sleep. That broke my heart and made me happy all at once, maybe Sookie was right, maybe all she needed was more female figures in her life, and maybe I needed to loosen up a bit. I’d never admit that of course, because it had just been she and I for a long time, and letting anyone new in was difficult for me. Or at least it usually was, with Sookie though it had been easy, far too easy considering the shaky ground we were on with the little act were about to partake in. I sighed, fixing the blankets around both of them, not wanting them to get cold in the night. I didn’t know what was ahead for us, I only knew that I wanted it to turn out well, make everyone happy, and realistically I knew that was impossible, but I could at least try.

SPOV:

I woke up with a crick in my neck, and cold toes, it took me a second to realize that I was in one of the guest rooms, and not in my own bedroom. The bed beside me was empty and I checked my watch to find I’d over slept, it was almost eight am.

I got up, wandered down the short hallway, peeked into my room to find the room empty, and the bed made and the windows open. How long had they been up?

By the time I reached the staircase, and the waft of bacon hit me, yum.

I got to the kitchen to find Emily fully dressed, her backpack on the countertop, munching on her French toast and bacon.

“Hey?” I said, and they both turned to me, Eric with the spatula in hand.

“Hey, sleep okay?” He asked with a smile, and Emily just patted the seat beside her for me to sit on.

“Yeah, I guess I just passed out…” I petted her head, “Good morning Missy.”
” ‘orning,” she said, a mouthful of food and half a smile.

“Yeah you kinda abandoned me last night, got a better offer, huh?” Eric said, slipping some hot food on my place, it wasn’t often food was cooked in my place, least of all breakfast, and least of all by a guy.

“Yeah, I did, Emily is much easier to share a bed with than a stinky boy!” I said in her direction, making her smile. “How did you… deal without me?”
“Oh, you know… it was hard. Really hard actually, but somehow I managed all by myself.”
“You have had a lot of practice; I’m sure…Sleeping alone.” I clarified for our little audience.

“Yeah, but then you know I showered and realized I had California King all to myself, and well, suddenly that became the best thing ever. Amazing bed by the way…I don’t think I’ve slept that good in years.”
“Well, it does beat an IKEA sofa, that’s for sure.”
He nodded, “That it does. Juice?”
“Um, yes…thank you?”
He just laughed, “I have to get Emily to school, we do this every morning, well, almost every morning….see I have this really demanding boss… Her family put her on time out though, so Monday’s are less hectic now.”
“Ha-Ha, you’re such a comedian in the morning.” I wasn’t a morning person, he was chatty and upbeat, it was so annoying at work too.
“I don’t wanna go to school, not today.”

“Life’s tough kid, its how things go,” Eric said, handing me my juice and then wiping her mouth, “You’ve five minutes and we have to get going, okay?”
She ‘tutted’ to herself before she slid off the stool and ran back upstairs, hunting for her shoes.

“Anything you need before your Grandmother arrives? She comes in at noon, right?”
“Yeah, she’s got her own transport from the airport too, she tells me. I guess just wait and see, though I do need you to over-see the –”
“Delivery of that Lanvin back to the studio?”
“Yes, please.”
He nodded, “I can swing by the office after I drop Emily off at school,

“Okay that sounds good, I have a lot of emails waiting for me, and some contracts I need my lawyer to look over, and get back to me this afternoon. I think for sure we’ll be having dinner out somewhere tonight, knowing Gran it’ll be somewhere ridiculously overpriced and pretentious…” I sighed, “But the food will be amazing.”

“Cool, Lafayette gave me a ‘sport coat’ that I could wear, though to be honest I don’t see how it’s made for playing sport, far too formal looking for sport.”

I smiled at his ramble, and ate my breakfast happily. Emily came bouncing down the stairs with her shoes in her hand, shoving them at Eric to put them on her.

He just sighed and lifted her up onto the counter and slipped her shoes on her feet.

“Ready?”
“Can’t I just stay here with Sookie?” She asked.

“Nope, Sookie has a lot of work to do, and what about Taylor? You gonna leave her at school all on her own? That’s not very nice, is it?”
“She would miss you,” I chimed in.

“Okay, I guess… but I get to come back here, right?” she asked in my direction this time and I looked at Eric. He nodded.

“Sure! I’ll see you after school, okay?”
With that she beamed and Eric shook his head as she leaned over to give me a hug I wasn’t expecting, and by the look on Eric’s face he wasn’t expecting her to do it either. He managed to get her coat on and get her out the door all before eight fifteen; I was amazed, as I could barely get myself out the door most mornings.

I looked down at the cat circling my feet and noticed that her bowl was also half full; he’d even managed to feed my cat? Did he inhale caffeine? I dragged myself back upstairs to shower, and brace myself for the day, and days ahead. I only hoped Gran was in a good mood, nothing was worse than being stuck with family in a fucked up mood with no escape!

By one thirty my day was circling hell, Gran had arrived with her seven suitcases and her dog, Lexi. Lexi her Teacup Yorkie had a raging hate on for Tina, and immediately caused drama, sending Tina into hiding for her own safety and for damn piece and quite. I only wished I could have done the same thing.

“Oh Sookie I love what you’ve done with the place, really, my room is just lovely. Just lovely! And it’ll be much better to stay here than in the apartment all on my lonesome, or in some God awful hotel in a bed that a thousand people have slept in, and done God knows what else… in… too…” she rolled her eyes and sipped her tea looking around the living room again, petting Lexi before setting her gaze on me.

“Where’s Eric?”

“He’s running some errands, and a few other things he has going on today, he’ll be back later though.”
“I see they’ve been staying here.”
“Yep… that’s what happens when you start dating someone, they usually stay over,” I nodded enthusiastically, or retardedly.

“I see… and how’s it going with him?”

“Good, it’s going good. I mean it’s still early days you know? We’re just taking it slow.”
“And yet he’s staying over, with his sister?”
“Well, what’s he going to do with her? Leave her in the alley?”
“Oh, Sookie, there is no need to be so rude…”
“I’m not being rude, I’m just saying, she’s his family, she’s part of the package deal.”
She smiled and I should have known she was up to no good.

“You know perhaps the assistant has been good for you, he’s certainly changed your attitude about family, that’s for sure.”
“Meaning?”
“Meaning, your idea of keeping in touch is an email every other month, and you don’t visit for holidays anymore, and you’ve just been flat out avoiding us all, maybe this guy and this child will… help you realize that family is the most important thing in life and that your career, while wonderful, won’t keep you warm at night.”
“No, but my luxury thread count sheets will, and I get to buy them because I work hard for my money.” I smiled, sarcastically making her roll her eyes and continue.

“No, I mean you need to reassess your situation, it was the main reason why I issued that silly little ultimatum.”
“Well there’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one, it wasn’t so ‘silly’ to me, Gran.”
She pursed her lips, “Now Sookie…”
“No, I mean we need to talk about this, I hate this!” I said as calmly as I could, which being honest, wasn’t so calm.

“Not now Sookie. Since you’re so gung-ho about Eric and his family perhaps you won’t mind spending time with your own, tonight.”
“What?”
“Yes, Jason and Crystal are in town, and I just got a message from Claudine and Ralph, they’re in town too… and we’re all having dinner tonight, to catch up. And of course Eric and the little one are invited.”
“I… no.”
“No?”
“No… we’ve got…other plans.”
“Plans more important than having dinner with your family, really?”

I was panicking; I really didn’t want this to happen. She was meant to come here, see us, buy it and leave. That’s it! No other family involved! Oh, God I felt sick to my stomach at the thought of Claudine and her claws anywhere near Eric or Emily. With that I heard the front door buzz from downstairs, knowing it was Eric I breathed a sigh of relief. He came in, all cosy looking in his coat and hat, but still windblown with his rosy red cheeks and smell of the cold.

“She here?” He asked from the door, and we walked into the kitchen where we were sure she wouldn’t hear us.

“Yeah, and what I assumed would happen is happening…”
He scrunched up his face, “dinner with la fam?”
“Yep and not just Jason and Crystal, Claudine and her husband too… Fuck.”

He had bags that he started to unpack, and I was wondering what he was doing.

Food?

“I brought food, I figured if we feed her she might be nice to us… or if we lace it with vodka?” He smiled and it made me smile, and I looked to my left and saw Gran watching us.

Oops.

“Hello again, Eric,” she said, calmly leaving her coffee cup on the counter.

“Hello Mrs… Adele,” he smiled wide, and offered out his hand again and she shook it.

Awkward.

“How are you Adele, you’re looking very well.”
“Well thank you, dear. I’m just fine, and I trust you and all the new developments in your life are going well?”

She looked between me and Eric and back to me again.

“Uh, yeah you know, unexpected developments –”
“I’d say so, because you know the last time I talked to you, you said you had no intention of dating my Granddaughter, or entering into any kind of relationship with her, and yet I come to find what now… for a while I’m told … you’ve been doing just that.”
Oh fuck.

“Oh well you know –”
“No, I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking. When we last talked and I asked you, why on earth did you feel the need to lie to me, Eric?”
“I … I well you see –”His face was going red, right down to his neck. I had to step in, so I grabbed his arm and spoke up, “because I made him.”
“You made him?” She asked
“You made me?” He asked, looking perplexed.

“Yes… remember… I was sure that the staff would talk so… I made him lie to anyone that asked about our personal….status.”
“Really?” she said, raising a brow, clearly not buying what we were selling. I felt like a highschooler caught with my boyfriend all over again.

“Yep, and well, I … we were unsure where it was going then and didn’t want to… jinx it.” I lied and shocked myself by just how well I lied.

Gran nodded and then peeked at the food on the counter.

“Oh! Sprinkles? Are those for us, Eric?” She smiled happily, and fell off the shaky subject of Eric and I. Thank you Jesus, and Buddha and whoever else was listening.

“Yeah, of course. I was dropping off that invoice with Bloomingdales, and figured I’d pick some of these up for you guys, and for Emily for later. There’s banana, dark chocolate, orange, peanut-butter chip, vanilla, and red velvet… and a bunch of others in there too… Why don’t you take a seat and I’ll bring them out?” He said to me and to Gran and we did as we were asked. I had to give it to him, he didn’t know she loved cupcakes but I’d thank whatever Gods that gave him that bright idea.

Twenty minutes later, Eric was delighting my Grandmother, regaling her with stories of his childhood, his parents, Emily and his work previous to working for me. I had to admit, it was refreshing and incredibly sweet of him to step up and volunteer all the information to keep her happy, and it allowed me to get to know this whole other side to him. When he was in the middle of a story, a memory, he looked so relaxed, so charming, and so fucking cute. I could hardly help myself when sitting next to him that I allowed my hand to find his, and he allowed me to hold it. It had been a game, there had been a game plan and everything, but I realized in that moment, all bets were off where he and I were concerned and now I wasn’t sure what was real, and wasn’t. And I didn’t know what terrified me more, the idea that it could be fake, or even worse, that what I was feeling, could be real!


Chapter 17: Chapter 17


Hi ho, hi ho! Another chapter is done, and this one is a long one, over 5000 words last time I checked, so I hope you enjoy it! Thanks so very much for all the reviews and comments on the last chapter, both here on FF! It’s so encouraging you have no idea how much! Enjoy 17! The dinner from HELL.

EPOV:

The more I talked to Sookie’s Grandmother, the more I found her to be as charming as Sookie. Much like Sookie, she too comes across as cold and detached at first glance, but soon if you care enough to start chipping away at the cold exterior – you’ll find a wealth of warmth inside. She still had bite though and I was definitely afraid of her bark, so both being considered I was glad when the time came for me to trek across the city to collect Emily from school, while Sookie took her Grandmother shopping.

“And is she a mean old woman?”

“Who?”

“Sookie’s Granma?”

“No, she’s not mean, she’s very nice, she’s just… posh.”

“Ohhh…” Emily said tottering along beside me, almost jogging to keep up with my pace.

“Eric?”

“Yeah?” I slowed and looked down at her.

“What does ‘posh’ mean?” she said with a shy smile and I just laughed. Scooping her up onto my shoulders while I explained to her what ‘posh’ meant and how there were different levels of posh, but that didn’t mean that those people were any better than us, or that we were any less than them. She assured me she got it, and I was happy with that. On the way back I stopped for a cup of coffee and to get Emily something to eat, she was happy enough with some soup and grilled cheese while I read my emails and inhaled my drink. It was part of our routine, when I wasn’t in work, we’d meet up, eat, and she’d tell me all about her day at school – sometimes in way, way too much detail!

“And I got a gold star on my picture today, and Miss…Miss Smith said that my reading was super good!”

I was questioning the legitimacy of a teacher using the sentence ‘super good’ but I let her ramble on as we hopped into the subway and actually managed to get a seat.

“That’s great, Em.”

“AND she said I’m best at math in the whole class, but… I said it’s ’cause you help!” She smiled and I smiled back, missing my parents once again since it should be them she was telling all this too.

“I think we have to go out to dinner tonight, with Sookie’s family, would you like that?”

She shrugged.

“Can we go to Mc Donald’s?” her face lit up at the thought.

“Erm, no. I don’t think Sookie’s Gran would like that very much, and she’s a guest, just like we are at Sookie’s, so we have to be on our best behaviour when she’s around, okay?”

“Okay… that means inside voice, right?”

We’d had a lot of talks on a lot of days, on when it was okay to use her outside voice, and when she had to use her inside voice, slowly, she was getting it.

“Exactly, but I know you’ll be the best girl…”I said rubbing her hair and it annoyed her.

“Donnn’t!” she whined and I just laughed as she started fixing her tiny ponytail. Touchy women, they were all around me!

When I got back to Sookie’s apartment there was a Chinese woman there, with two children around Emily’s age, she told me she was Mr Stackhouse’s nanny, and that she was here to watch all the children while we went out for the evening. I really didn’t like the idea of this stranger watching my baby sister for the night, and immediately sent Sookie a text to that effect. Emily fell in with the kids really easily, the girl and her got on like a house on fire in no time, the boy took a few minutes to warm up to the new girl. Soon they were playing shop with toys that I assumed belonged to the twins. Twenty minutes later, Sookie walked through the door with two armfuls of shopping bags, minus one Grandmother.

“No, Andrew I do not give a fuck if they’ve changed their minds in Milan, I’m not changing the meeting for her, if she can’t fucking get her ass in gear when we’re paying for her to come here first class all the way, then she needs to recess her priorities. We made her our priority the least she could have done was return the favour. There are a thousand more models were she came from and if she can’t get her coke bloat under control then she’s out.” Her face was tense, as was the rest of her, but the minute she finished the conversation, she changed completely.

“Oh God Eric I think my feet are dying…” she said, setting down the bags in her foyer, “I can’t … I … ouch…” she said slipping off the giant heels with the red soles.

“You know shoes that cost that much money? You’d expect them to feel like walking on clouds.” I smirked.

“But they’re pretty…” she sounded out smiling as she walked barefoot into her kitchen, “you’ve met Li and the twins then? We figured we’d introduce them to Emily, give everyone someone knew to play with, and she’ll make sure they get fed and everything tonight so you don’t have to worry about anything.”

“Yeah, did you get my text?”

“I did, but I had to drop Gran off at Jason and Crystal’s hotel for a bit and I couldn’t reply. She’s really nice though Eric, she used to work for my Gran’s friend Sheila for a few years, she’s great with kids, and Emily would be fine.”

“I just never leave her with strangers… I don’t know I don’t feel right.”

She sighed.

“I get it, but it’s only for a couple of hours, and Jason is super picky who the twins get to stay with, they wouldn’t trust her with their kids if she wasn’t great.”

“I’d feel better about that; I would, if this wasn’t coming from parents that named their kids weren’t called Elizabeth and Darcy. I mean, they know they’re literary lovers, right? Not… siblings.” I sighed, and Sookie just smirked pouring herself some juice.

“Yeah don’t even get me started, first Crystal wanted to call them Rhett and Scarlett.”

My mouth gaped, “Yep, then it was Ben and Jennifer…which was fine until we realized she loved JLO…and also lovers… and then it was Cathy, and Heath…”

“As in…?”

“Yep. Lizzie and Darcy, we can almost get away from it, almost. They’re cute kids though, just gonna be rife with possible physiological problems when they’re older, just like the rest of us.” She sighed.

“But the nanny, she’s great, trust me. I wouldn’t want Emily sitting with anyone shady either, but it is only for a few hours, tops. Please consider it? Don’t feed me to the wolves alone.”

I rolled my eyes and accepted the cookie she pulled out of one of her many bags, “I guess…”

“You can even fake an emergency and bring me back early if you want, in fact, I openly encourage that.” She said making a funny face at me, “I’m going to check on the kids, the darker black of those bags over there? That’s for you.” She smiled popping half her cookie in her mouth before she sprinted for the stairs where the kids were playing in Emily’s ‘bedroom’.

I peaked at her pile of bags and didn’t allow myself to think that what was in those bags was probably my month’s wages. I grabbed the bag ear marked for me, and I noticed it was Prada on the bag. Inside sat a brand spanking new dress shirt, in a light blue colour. I guess it was meant for dinner. I took the stairs to at a time to tell Sookie that she didn’t need to buy me clothes, and that I was a proud man and could do it myself, but when I saw her, I just didn’t have the heart to piss on her parade. She was inside her giant closet, which really should just be called a giant room for all her clothes and shoes; it wasn’t like any closet I’d ever seen, except for the one at work. She was playing with the twins, and Emily, all four of them rolling around on the floor, Lizzie in stitches laughing stretched out on Sookie’s knees up in the air pretending she was flying as Sookie made plane noises. Her light coloured jeans and white t-shirt showing off her tanned back when the shirt rode up as she moved around, laughing. This Sookie and Work-Sookie were becoming more and more like two entirely different people. It should have scared me, but it didn’t, if anything it warmed me to know that she was just a big kid inside, like the rest of us. It took a few seconds for Emily to spot me, and once she did, I was done for.

“Eric can you make me fly!” she said, running towards me and I scooped her up.

“Aeroplane or helicopter?” I asked making her giggle as she clinged onto me for dear life as I ‘swished’ her around the room easily.

Off we went.

The table was tense, to say the least when we arrived. Everyone greeted each other with air kisses and hugs of course, but there was still an undeniable tense air to the whole thing that I just couldn’t shake off. Jason greeted me like an old friend, and his wife Crystal seemed lovely, the opposite of Sophie though, she was small and blonde with a huge rack and even bigger heels. Her southern twang was undeniable, and she did seem very sweet, if a little on the dumb side, truth be told. I hated that I knew he was cheating on her, I felt guilty, and it had nothing to do with me. Claudine, Sookie’s cousin sat beside Adele, she was the opposite of Sookie in just about every way I could see. She seemed model tall, straight up and down in that disciplined way that told me there wasn’t much room for error in her body maintenance routine, and she had shoulder length dark brown hair cut into a sharp shape with blunt….bangs I think the girls called them. She was pale, but it suited her. The man to the other side of her, who I assumed he was her husband, was similar in colouring. He seemed about six one when he stood to shake my hand, and he had a warm smile and bright green eyes. He was a lot friendlier than she was, that’s for sure.

Chit chat was had, as I was introduced to everyone as Sookie’s ‘new beau’ by Adele, who was sporting a bright smile and very expensive Chanel tweed. I mentally kicked myself for actually knowing what the hell she was wearing, and for ten minutes while everyone talked I did actually question if knowing all the things I guess I unconsciously knew about fashion now, made me gay? Then I looked at Sookie, in her mid-length blush pink Chloe dress, and more importantly her breasts in said dress, and decided that ‘no’, I wasn’t gay. I was just a math geek with a stupid photographic memory, and I just remembered a lot of useless (or useful, at work at least) information. Not gay. And with the way Sookie kept playfully drawing circles on my hand as it rested next to hers on the table, I didn’t just need my upstairs brain to tell me I was hot for women.

Party in my pants, and it was all for her. Thank God I wore good underwear.

SPOV:

Eric had continued to surprise the hell out of me. Not that I should be surprised that I was surprised, but I was. He was so much more than I first gave him credit for, he wasn’t just bumbling and awkward, all tall and lean and lanky, in fact he was kind of secretly… badass. For example, the man made amazing French toast, his long capable fingers were able to wind me up like a violin string when we fooled around, his kisses were almost that perfect combination of nervous and capable, that, and he made me laugh.

And then the weirdest thing happened. He defended me, to my crazy ass family, and that was kinda the world’s biggest turn on in that moment.

Dinner had started out nice, pseudo-normal as things with my family always began, then the descent into crazy began. And it started with who it always started with. Princess Claudine.

“And well I just said to my trainer, you know she trains Gwynnie, too, right? And like I just said to her I need to up my game, I need to get flat by Christmas, those family cards…the pressure to look good on them before you send them out to everyone you know… it’s such a pain.” She sighed, primping her hair, “but it’s worth it in the end, but I guess that’s not really something you have to worry about, Sookie.”

“Why’s that?” I said, cutting up my steak.

“Well, you don’t have anyone to take the holiday family photo with, silly, being constantly single…and at thirty too, aren’t you feeling the pressure?” she giggled, her stupid obviously fake giggle.

“Well, I wasn’t. Not from anyone else but you guys…” I said throwing shade on Gran and her stupid ultimatum again.

“It’s important to find balance though, right Gran?” She said, still smiling.

That whore.

“Sure it is,” I interrupted,” but when you’re the one running the multibillion dollar businesses, and trying to balance not fucking it up with a personal life, you get back to me on balance.” I shot, taking a large bite of my food.

“Sook, I know for sure how hard it is, boy oh boy, do I!” Jason chimed in, friendly and innocently, as always not getting the underlying tension between Claudine and me.

“Actually Claudine, Sookie is managing to find balance in her life, she just needed a little…encouragement, rather than criticism. She’s fantastic with Emily, and still manages to kick everyone’s ass into gear at work.”

“None more so than yours, right Eric?” she said, snidely.

He just smirked and sipped his beer, “pretty much,” then he looked at me and made a cute fake scared face that made my Gran bust out laughing, “But I know how to handle her, just like she knows how to handle me. So it’s all good.”

I smirked at the double meaning of his words and just sipped at my wine while Claudine continued to pout.

“I’m sure it is…” She said rolled her eyes and continued to pick at her chicken salad.

“What is it that you do, Claudine? And you, Ralph?”

“Well, Ralph is an investment banker; he works for a lot of world class companies actually…”

“Is that right? Hmm,” Eric continued, “And you Claudine?”

“I’m a Mom.”

With that I almost spit out my wine that was a fucking joke.

“But, isn’t your daughter in a year round boarding school? Sookie mentioned that.”

With that Ralph smirked but it faded when she looked at him, I remembered when Ralph used to have balls and artistic skill, now what was he? A shell of himself trapped in a loveless marriage.

Sick.

“Um, well, yes…”

“So you don’t really have a kid to take care of all day, then?” Eric asked as innocent as anything, but the dig was there.

“Not all the –”

“No, well then you really can’t talk to Sookie about balancing her life when your life seems pretty uneven even by your own standards. I’m guardian of a five, almost six year old sister, and I don’t ship her off somewhere nine months of the year and I still manage to work. You don’t need to work it seems, and you don’t seem to need to parent either, where is the balance there?”

He asked an eyebrow in the air, a determined look on his face. It was so fucking hot.

Crystal smirked behind her wine glass and Jason remained oblivious as always.

“Crystal, darling, how are the twins?” Claudine asked her, now ignoring Eric. He and I exchanged knowing glances before we couldn’t contain our mutual smirks.

“Oh you know, they’re fine, they just love little Emily, Eric,” she said to Claudine, and then aimed at Eric.

“Aw, that’s good. I’m glad,” he said with a smile.

“Yeah, it’s always so boring in the city when we come here. Their little friends and playgroups in California are their favourite, mine too. I do love the sun. Once a southern girl, always one I guess, when it comes to heat anyway, but really –”

I zoned out Crystal, focusing instead on Eric, as I casually dropped one hand to his thigh under the table. His body tensed, but he somehow was able to carry on the conversation while I messed with him, why I was doing this? I really had no solid idea, other than ‘I wanted to’. By the time I was almost finished dinner, I’d made my mind up I really needed to see him alone. Not only was I feeling ridiculously horny all of a sudden, but I needed the distraction from the fucked up direction this dinner conversation was taking and this seemed perfect.

“Eric, did you know that Ralph and Sookie used to date?” Claudine spoke up then, seemingly out of nowhere, but that could have been just because I was distracted drawing circles on Eric’s upper thigh under the table, and getting a much more muted response from him than I imagined. I instantly glared at my cousin, as did her husband.

“Um, no… I didn’t know that. Small world, I guess.” Eric responded awkwardly, because really it was awkward, what the fuck was she trying to pull?

“It was a long time ago, right around the time you guys hooked up, right?” I said with a forced smile and my Gran simply sighed.

“Yeah, well we’re happily married now, so obviously the right choice was made.” Claudine said attempting to be snug, but I was shutting this bitch down.

“Choice? Psh, didn’t really seem like there was much of a choice made, right Ralph? I mean when I walk into my bedroom on my twenty-first birthday to find my college sweetheart fucking my cousin… there isn’t much of a choice, and there’s even less of one when she ends up pregnant and you guys had to get married to same the ‘family name’ right?” I laughed, because I was sure if I didn’t laugh, I’d cry.

“Excuse me…” I said before I stood up and made my way to the bathrooms, a stunned Eric watching as I went.

I got as far as the disabled bathroom door before Eric caught my arm.

“Hey…You alright?” He said, looming over me, a concerned look on his face.

I just laughed, “bet you didn’t think my family got any more crazy than me, right?”

“You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine, she does this all the time, it’s her thing.”

“Being a bitchy boyfriend stealing whore?” He smirked.

“I like you, Northman.” I giggled at his choice of words.

“I call a spade a spade.”

“OR a bitch a bitch.”

He nodded and opened the door to the larger bathroom and closed the door behind us, silence, it was so welcomed.

“No,” I said, fixing my hair, “she has this thing, ever since we were kids. Whatever I had, she wanted. It didn’t matter what it was. Barbie’s, dolls, cheerleading, boyfriends…” I sighed remembering it all.

“I see…”

“You see what?”

“Why you went so nuts over this ultimatum thing with Adele. She mentioned Claudine coming in and taking over your job, that’s got to suck, all things considered.”

Oh, yeah, that.

“Little bit. I mean, I’m over the whole stupid Ralph thing, but she just seems to need to find anyway to piss me off, and it’s gotten real old, real fast, you know?”

He nodded leaning up against the sink.

“Maybe you should tell Adele this, she might –”

“She won’t. You’d think she would, but for some reason she still thinks the sun shines out of Claudine’s boney ass.” I rolled my eyes, “I can’t even be bothered dealing with them.”

We were silent for a few seconds before he smiled, “so before the drama…your hands… we need to talk about them.”

“Manicured to perfection, aren’t they pretty?” I said, avoiding.

“No…” he looked, “well, yes, but no, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about all the …under the table touching. It…does things to a dude, Sookie. Especially a dude who hasn’t had any in a long ass time,” he said rather comically, his eyes widening.

I smiled and took a step closer to him, and he tensed.

“Well, what if I said I wanted to do something about all that…something’s I started out there? Hm?”

“What do you have… in mind?” he asked, gulping loudly and then looking mad at himself for doing it. It was adorable.

“I don’t know; let’s just see where it goes…” I said leaning in to kiss him softly and not saying anything else, both of us seemingly happy just going with the flow.

His mouth tasted like spearmint and hint of beer, but still clean and tingly to taste. As I thrust my tongue in deeper, tightening my grip on his body as I backed him further against the wall. My fingers scrambled around his waistband, yanking the dress shirt out of the pants so I could touch his hot skin. I fumbled for his belt, and slid it open, letting it fall against the wall behind us with a loud ‘clanking’ sound. Eric looked down at me, the height different painfully apparent even if I was in six inch heels.

“What –”his face was flushed, and his lips were starting to go red from kissing, his eyes simply looked confused.

“What do you think?” I asked, though it wasn’t really a question that needed an answer as I slid my hands down his sides, slipping his cute chequered blue boxers down his surprisingly slim hips.

“You said something about this…”I whispered against his neck as I kissed him there, “something about blowjobs in a bathroom?” with that his eyebrows went straight to his hairline, and the look on his face was priceless.

“Yeah but that was…fantasy…”

I pouted, “So, you don’t want –”

“No! No I never said I don’t, I do… I very do. I just never thought it’d be…you know…you. My boss, this takes the fantasy into like… Playboy territory.”

I smirked just ghosting my hands down his warm stomach and pushing his boxers down even further, “So…Good,” I nodded as I slid to my knees, and he inhaled so sharply I was worried people walking back and forth outside might hear.

I looked up and he was staring me down, a look of disbelief still on his flustered face.

“You have to be quiet, okay? Also, if you’re going to come? Be polite and give me some warning?” I said with a wink, a wink? Why was I winking, why was I doing any of this? I wasn’t used to impulse, and I certainly never acted on it.

“Holy fucking shit, you’re really doin’ this?”

“I’m really doing this…” I whispered.

“Oh… God…”

He laughed nervously as I continued to slip my hand up and down his shaft, feeling him get harder under my touch, it was exhilarating. That and the fact that there were dozens of people just outside that we could be caught at any moment all just added to the intensity of it all. As I wrapped my mouth around him and began what I’d been thinking about doing for a while now, he panted out an array of curse words that would make a hooker blush.

“Jesus, fuck, Sookie… please don’t stop… please…” he said, twitching in my hand as I worked him over and back, up and down, harder and faster each time enjoying his laboured breaths and tiny restrained moans.

“Sookie… I need … I need… oh God… so good…” he mumbled.

I looked and realized I was leaving pink lipstick marks all along his dick, leaving my mark – literally.

And then it started, his mumbling of math!

“cos x equals Re {e } equals – “

I stopped and I looked up at him with a furrowed brow.

“Sorry, it’s just been a real long time since a girl… A woman was where you are, doing what you’re doing so I was trying to not…you know… ruin it.”

“By quoting math equations at me?”

“It works…” he shrugged and leaned down to kiss me, before I pulled back and put my mouth around his tip again, eliciting not an equation but a moan, that was more like it. After a few tenderly placed sucks, licks and kisses I was pretty sure I had him under control, when I heard my name in the sexiest tone I’d ever heard from Eric.

“Sookie!” he moaned and I pulled away, feeling him tense, and I pumped a little harder.

“Shh, people will hear you!” I whispered before sucking him off once more before he completely lost it, and came just as I pulled away – thankfully. I took his outstretched hands to help me to my feet, right before he grabbed my face and pulled me in for a kiss, one that made my already shaky knees shake all over again. I pulled back and smirked at his pink cheeks and bewildered look, so cute.

“Fuck, you have the sexiest mouth,” he panted before kissing me again as I gently tucked him into his boxers.

“You might want to … clean up.” I quirked my brows at him before I went to wash my hands, fix my hair and reapply my lipstick, all the while he stood there, almost stupefied.

Orgasms were a funny thing.

I looked back at him and smiled, “Eric, you need to hurry up, we’re going to miss dessert.” I checked my reflection once more in the mirror before I turned on my heel, unlocked the door and left.

I went back to the table and thankfully everyone was in a conversation with someone else and didn’t really notice before I sat down. Then my Gran spoke up.

“Sookie, you really mustn’t let Claudine get to –”

I smiled, “I’m fine. I had a few calls to make…that’s all. Cutting back to a three day week sounds fun in theory, but it’s just doubled my work load if I’m being honest.”

She sighed. Jason and Crystal looked sceptical, and Claudine as always just looked like there was stick rammed up her ass.

“And Eric?”

“He wasn’t… feeling well, but he’s fine now.”

With that, a soap smelling Eric took his seat down next to me.

“Sorry about that, I…” he looked at me.

“You feeling better now, honey?” I said patting his hand on his knee.

“Oh…I…” He looked between Gran and I, “I’m fine now, feel great actually I guess I just needed some air.”

“Yes.” Gran said, glaring in Claudine’s direction, “things did get a little smothering here, I don’t blame you for stepping out, and it’s awful to have to do it during a civilized dinner…Claudine.”

Claudine looked suitably chastised.

Eric and I looked at each other and bust out laughing, in uncontrolled fits. The more both of us tried to stop, the harder we laughed.

“No… No!” I held my hand up to Gran, “No, I’m sorry… I …” and I couldn’t stop. The thought of what he and I just did, or more to the point what I just did, and how we were trying so hard to act nonchalant about it, well, it became too much.

“What you drinkin’ Sook?” Jason spoke up, a smile on his face, “Girl I ain’t seen you laugh so much in a really long time…I’m not gonna complain as to why,” he said sipping his whiskey sour as Eric and I somehow managed to tame the laughter. Laughter that was quite clearly pissing Claudine off to no end.

“She was probably off doing coke in the bathroom or something…” she whispered loudly to Ralph, while he just side eyed her and continued eating.

“As I was saying Gran, I’m meeting Gwyneth for lunch tomorrow; the kids have a play date coming up when Mila comes home for Thanksgiving…” she continued.

“Oh, that’s nice, dear. How is she? Still on the macrobiotic kick?”

“No, not always, she’s relaxed a lot since you last saw her, really embraced family too, she’s been encouraging me to do the same, and it’s really helping. Family is the most important thing, after all.” She said, smugly.

“Really Claudine? That why you’ve stuffed your kid in a boarding school thousands of miles away?”

She just quirked an eyebrow at me, “or is it why she never wants to come home for the holidays anymore, she can’t deal with mommy’s bull for too long. I guess she takes after Ralph in that area, huh? Just avoid the problem until it solves itself, or run away from it.”

“Sookie…” Gran spoke up, but I didn’t care.

“I’ll have you know Sookie, my daughter is in the school she’s in because she’s incredibly gifted, and I want to give her the best start in life, and unlike you I know how to be a mother…”

“Yeah, pimping out your kids for celebrity play days, real maternal C’.” I rolled my eyes and I swear some steam came out of her ears.

I looked to Eric and he knew what I wanted, and he nodded.

“Gran, Eric and I won’t be staying for desert.”

“Oh, Sookie, please don’t let this get –”

“It’s not that, please I’ve dealt with bigger brats than Claudine, we both know that,” I smiled at Gran, not looking in Claudine’s direction but I knew she was probably seething.

“It’s just Eric doesn’t like leaving Emily with strangers, and well, we have a lot of work to do in the morning, so we’d like an early night. But you stay; call me when you’re on your way over so I can let you in, okay?” I said as she stood up and I hugged her, then she kissed my cheek.

“Alright dear, that sounds reasonable. Thank you for coming, you too, Eric,” she said before she let Eric kiss her on the cheek. We said our goodbyes to the table and I promised Crystal we’d do lunch before they left, and Eric and I got our coats and finally got outside.

We’d made it maybe six steps from the restaurant before both of us burst out laughing.

“Well, that was certainly the most interesting dinner I’ve had this year!” he commented as he linked my arm with his and we walked a little more, it was freezing, we needed a cab before we either laughed ourselves to death, or froze to death, whichever came first.


😉


Chapter 18: Chapter 18


Hey guys! I’m really sick so I’m just going to keep this A/N short – unlike the chapter. Someone asked last chapter if 5,000 could get longer, well, I outdid myself. There’s over 6,800 here, so hopefully that’s more than enough for a chapter? This one is Sookie heavy, girl has a lot of things to figure out. Hope you like it, and hit the review buttons and make my day! *curls back into bed*

EPOV:

The cab ride back to Sookie’s apartment was a quite one, there was a lot of awkward glances exchanged, and she was blushing on and off, though that could have just been the cold New York chill in the air too, for mid-October, I was surprised there wasn’t more snow.

Neither of us brought up what had happened at dinner though, and since lot of personal information was thrown my way at that dinner, as well as the oddly timed but rather epic blow job. I was now even more unsure of what my status was where she was concerned. It worried me. I knew I should address it, but really, how did I do that without sounding like a total idiot? We’d both surpassed the rigorous boundaries that the ‘agreement’ had set out, and we’d done so rather quickly, despite all protests to the contrary. The fact remained that I liked Sookie –real Sookie – and she had just given me a blowjob, women don’t blow men they don’t like, not unless they’re a hooker, and Sookie certainly wasn’t one of those.

So did that mean she liked me back? Or she just did it because… well I don’t know why because, but just because? Or was she just pissed at her family and wanted to be naughty knowing she might get caught? Was she just using me like the contract stipulated? I was slowly driving myself crazy with those questions, and by the time we got back to the apartment to see Emily sprawled out on her bed fast asleep, and the nanny shifting the twins to get them back to the hotel, I was even more annoyed. I tucked Emily in, and then went in search of the TV remote in Sookie’s bedroom. She was busy in the shower and while I had contemplated just barging on in there and taking care of both our business, I knew I’d probably get drop kicked if I tried it. So, I stripped down to my boxers, and laid back on her amazingly comfortable, humongous bed, and waited for her to come back. When she emerged from the shower she was in a big fluffy white robe, kind of like the ones you get in super fancy hotels, but I guessed she hadn’t stolen hers. She also smelled like coconut and some other kind of sweet smell, it was real nice. She smiled at me before she checked her phone, and then letting her hair out of the massive knot it was in on top of her head.

“Gran is almost at the lobby, I’m just going to let her in and get her settled, Emily still asleep?”

Suddenly her tone was a little awkward, and it made me feel awkward too.

“Uh, yeah…Guess they were all pretty worn out.”

She nodded. “Judging by the massive pillow fort in my closet, I’d say yes. Thank God I moved all the really expensive stuff higher up. Be right back…”

I stewed some more, this was so not how I imagined this night going. In my head it involved a whole lot less clothing and lot more sexing. That wasn’t happening, at all.

I heard her talking with her Gran downstairs, in that hushed tone people adopted at night in a house with a sleeping kid, I like that at the very least they weren’t yelling. I assumed there would be yelling after all that was said and unsaid at dinner, but no. It was all very civilized. By the time she got back in bed I was half asleep, half watching the Late Show.

“Well, she’s back and pissed at Claudine, and a little at me too, but I’m hoping she’ll get over it. I talked to Li, she said the kids got on like a house on fire, and that Emily passed out just before nine, that’s her usual time, right?”

“Yeah, around that time, she wasn’t any trouble?”

“No, well, no more than the other two six year olds with her, I guess. But Li is like the zen nanny, I swear all kids just adore her. I pity her working for Jason though, he’s like Mr Mom, and not in a fun way,” she giggled. “God, we’ve so much to do, and undo at work tomorrow. Jason is screwing up more than he realizes, no one is working!” She rolled over the flipped off her light. Really? She wasn’t going to talk about what happened at dinner, at all?

“That’s it?” I said in the darkness.

“Um…” she turned to me, “what isn’t it, then?” she looked genuinely confused.

“Well, how about the fact that tonight happened, and you know…talk about it.”

She sighed turning in my direction now with her whole body, “Why? It happened, it’s over…? It’s not that big of a deal.” Lies were written all over her face. I wondered when I learned to read her like that.

“Really? You normally go blowing your employee’s in restaurant bathrooms then?”

She blushed; at least I think it looked like a blush in the dark, “No…”

“So then it should be a big deal, it was a big deal to me.” I admitted quietly.

“I did it because I…wanted to. That’s all I got. It was an impulse, I don’t usually give in to impulses, so yeah I guess it was a big deal…” she mused.

“Okay…?”

“And, okay I get that it was a really, really weirdly intimate thing for me to do, considering.”

“And?”

I swear it was like getting blood from a stone.

“And? I don’t know, Eric. I’m not an impulsive person, and I’m not even really a blowjob person either to tell you the truth, but I guess I wanted to tonight, and I did, and that’s it.”

I’ll admit, it stung that it was just some silly fleeting impulse, I’d maybe wanted a little more than that at this stage, I guess.

“So, you were just…using me to curb your impulses, that’s…cool… I guess?” my tone told her otherwise, I’m sure.

She cocked a brow at me, “Dude, I gave YOU the BJ here. I mean all things considered I don’t really think that I used you at all. If anything, I was being nice…and you know slutty.”

“And that’s all it was?”

She shrugged, “I like you, Eric I do. I wouldn’t be here with you now if we didn’t mesh well, but we can’t get too involved… I mean I know that sounds dumb, two hours ago I had your dick in my mouth, but, you know what I mean? Right? Like, we can’t forget why we’re here doing what we’re doing. And any … attraction or fleeting impulses… they aren’t part of the deal.”

She couldn’t be actually serious, could she?

“Don’t you think we’re way past the point of invoking the contract, really?”

She rolled her eyes, “well if we were we just have to take a step back, I don’t want anyone to get hurt here, I’ve always said that, and if there are feelings involved, someone always gets hurt. That’s the last thing I want.” She said before turning away from me, and fixing her pillow to sleep.

I laid there in silence for a few minutes, knowing she was still awake, I said, “Not all guys you like will end up married to your cousin, Sookie.”

With that I turned and attempted to sleep, knowing that sleep would evade me that night.

SPOV:

Yeah I screwed up. I screwed up big time, see; I sort of fell for my assistant slash fake boyfriend when I really should have been worrying how to save my ass, and my job. Instead I was more into the idea of handmaking his little sister’s Halloween costume from my book of sketches; I was more interested in hearing about her day, and his, than I was to plan my own. I was more willing to blow him in a bathroom before we’d even had a real date than I was to blow a boyfriend who’d flown me to Venice first class to woo me, what the fuck happened to me? I backtracked with Eric that night, and I paid for it in silence the next day. Thankfully though I was in meetings most of the day, some of which Gran sat in on, and Eric spent most of his day cataloguing with Lafayette or booking more meetings for the next month. We saw very little of each other when he got to work having dropped Emily off at school allowing Gran and I to ride to work together. There was a meeting with DVF people, and Gran had somehow convinced me that she and ‘Diane’ went back a long time and that she’d rather have a phone meeting with her instead, I let her go ahead, and after all, who was I to tell her no? It freed up my late afternoon, allowing me time to answer more emails than I thought humanly possible. I was going a little cross eyed by the time Eric came to the rescue. He seemed to do that a lot, I noted.

“Coffee, extra shot, chicken salad on rye, light mayo…Oh and these came for you from publishing,” he said emotionlessly handing over my late lunch and papers.

“Thank you…” I said, trying to get some eye contact out of him at least, but no luck. “Eric, wait.” I said before he got out the door, “Can you come in and close the door, please?”

He just glared at me, but did it anyway, “What? Did I forget something? Sophie has gone to –”

“It’s not about work, it’s about you and that face. The face you’ve had on since last night. Look I thought I made things really clear –”

“Yeah things were really clear, and they were fine, and then you went and sucked my dick and now I guess things are a little murky.”

Thank god for a sound proof office, I thought before I moved over to where he stood.

“Yeah, and that was my fault, and I’m sorry for fucking things up here, but I have a goal Eric and I can’t let this become a obstacle when it was meant to be the catalyst.”

“Right, eyes on the prize, nothing else matters.” He said, bitterly, and fuck I hated that tone from him.

“Look –”

“No, it’s fine, I guess I ‘misread‘ the ‘situation‘,” he finger quoted at me, “it’s fine, Emily and I will be gone in the morning, things can… finally get back to the way they were once Adele leaves, it’s fine.”

I wanted to stop him, to tell him that ‘no I didn’t want things to go back to the way they were, the way there were was not fun’, and yet I couldn’t because I looked across the hall to the conference room, and saw the woman that held my job in her hands, and I just couldn’t allow myself to get distracted again. The truth was I was scared of admitting what I thought I was feeling for Eric, and he was right; I held every relationship up to the one that hurt me most. The one that was flaunted in my face at every single family holiday, and I didn’t want to go through that again. But then I realized I was hurting him and myself by not just speaking up and admitting what I wanted. Ugh, I hated my brain right then. A huge part of me wanted to just tear up the damn contract and say ‘fuck it, let’s see where this goes’, but the other more realistic part of me knew that I had a job on the line, and not any job – my whole career, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to give that up for a ‘could be’ with my assistant.

My heart and my head were at war, and it was getting bloody.

EPOV:

Things were not fine, I was being a passive aggressive dick, and I didn’t even care to try and stop it. No, I’d been dealing with the weird looks, and the whispers and the rumours at work, while the Queen Bee sat in her office oblivious to it all, and still she gave me shit. She gave me bull-shit. I stormed back into the wardrobe where Lafayette was rearranging a pull for the next shoot in the morning, and he eyed me suspiciously.

“Baby, it’s only gays who hide in a closet.”

“I’m not in the mood, not now Lafayette,” I said pretending to be looking for something. Perhaps my balls.

“Oh, Puppy’s got bite. Tell Lala what’s up?”

“Go away…” I said searching through a rack of ties, maybe for one to use as a noose.

“Uh, I work here, so, no can do honey, what’s wrong? Trouble in paradise?”

I glared.

“Oh it’s all over the office, baby. You and Miss Boss Thang spending the night at each other’s place, her getting friendly with the kid, the Grandmother’s approval… it is like the Days of our Stacklives.” He smiled, “but I’m guessing reality is not what rumour would have us believe, yes?”

“Not exactly, I just… I don’t know what to do. I knew what I was getting into –” I said, careful to leave certain details out, “but she’s just so…”

“Closed off?”

“Yeah, exactly, and I’m not sure if can find the pliers to open that seal up, you know?”

He nodded, “You like her?”

“Most of the time, yeah, but she’s different here, too different, and she still cares too damn much about what people think about her. I just feel kind of used, right now.” I almost pouted then I snapped myself out of it.

“Bitches be crazy, it’s why I like dick,” he grinned. “Well, that and I just really like my men manly. Look Eric, if you’s have a thing and it’s complicated, ride the wave and see where it goes. If you hit a wall, hop off, if you hit another wave, ride it harder.”

“You give really odd advice, you know that?”

“Yes, I do, now it’s five thirty. Don’t you have somewhere to be?”

I just nodded and grabbed my coat from the chair where I’d spent the day helping him.

“See you tomorrow?”

“As always, I’ll be here, fixing their messes… not getting their thanks…” he rolled his eyes.

“Thank you.” I said, meaning it. I couldn’t tell him everything but what I could tell him meant a lot.

I was still confused over the whole thing though, so when I went to collect Emily from Amelia’s, I took my sweet time. She wanted anything from me off the clock; she’d have to wait for it.

See, passive aggressive, dick.

“You want something to eat, Eric? We’ve got plenty here?” She said, dishing out spaghetti with a sauce that smelled amazing.

“Sure, we could stay.”

“Good, I made far too much, and I hate wasting it.”

“Taylor, Emily, dinner!” she called, and the girls came running from Taylor’s room.

“You not going back to Sookie’s place tonight then?” Trey asked, tucking into his food.

“I am, but I don’t really want to.”

“Hell?”

He asked and I kept my eye on Emily, she was in a whispered conversation with her friend, so I just nodded.

“In ways I never expected. Her Grandmother is a breeze, lying? Not so hard, it’s dealing with her hot and cold moods that I’m having a real issue with. It’s exhausting.”

“How so?” Ames asked, putting down a plate and a glass of ice cold milk in front of me.

“I just… there was a deal that we both agreed upon but we never really kept to it. Not really, not like I’m sure I would have with someone else, or if she’d done this with any of those other guys, I don’t think… I hope she’d not be like this with them.”

They both looked at me confused, and I didn’t blame them.

“I just think she likes me, genuinely… then the next it’s like I don’t exist and anything we’ve …done…” I raised my eyebrows, taking in code because of the kids, “never happened. And something pretty big happened last night, and then she just…ignored it, and I don’t know…”

“You getting whiplash from her changes?” Ames asked taking a polite bite of her own food.

“Yeah, I mean I never thought it would be simple, and I really did think we could both keep things in check for the sake of her job, but right now I’m really regretting agreeing to this, suggesting it, jumping in with both feet and all my hormones in tact.” I said and Trey just laughed.

“Dude, seriously, just because she’s hot doesn’t mean you have to be her Knight. She’s a big girl, I’m sure she’d be fine on her own.”

“Well, I can’t say I disagree. Eric, we’ve all wanted you to find someone, you know that, but we were hoping for someone a little less…high maintenance.”

“But that’s the thing, outside of the office, she’s actually human…”

“A human woman who’s messing you around like you’re her play thing, and that’s not cool either.”

“But I agreed –”

“And I’m guessing she made some changes to what you both agreed on, by the sounds of things she wasn’t doing anything against her will with you…was she?” Ames asked, clearly in code because of the two girls with very sharp ears sitting between us, eating happily.

“No, of course not.”

“And now that’s changed for her, and not for you?”

“Yeah, I think so. I mean it was stupid and maybe I was reading too much into it, but shit – stuff like that doesn’t happen to me, not lately, and not with women like her. I just, maybe I just jumped to quickly because it’s something that I want? Because …she’s good with the most important thing in my life,” I said in semi code, “and maybe I just wanted it to be real? When maybe I was just kidding myself in thinking someone like her-”

“You stop right there, Mr.” Ames said, slapping my hand like I was one of the kids with my hand in the cookie jar, “She is no better than you, and you are no less than her, just because she has money? That means nothing, not really. On the surface of things, sure, she has better threads and probably a better hairstylist, but being real she’s probably just as nuts as the rest of us. No better, no worse. So you stop that talk.” When Ames went into ‘mom’ mode she really didn’t break out of it. It was sort of adorable. Trey looked at his wife with awe.

“You’re both great, you know that?” I said acknowledging my friends and how I knew I’d be totally lost without them.

“We know,” she smiled, “but you’re pretty great yourself and in Queen Bit- Bee can’t see that, then that’s her loss, not yours.”

I sighed; my brain was really done over thinking this mess.

“It doesn’t really matter, her ‘problem’ leaves tomorrow so all showmances can cease, and things will just go back to the way they were. I think.”

“Except you’re all in love with –”

“Who are you in love with?” Emily asked, cutting off Amelia’s words.

“No one, eat up,” I said sharply.

“But Amelia said that –”

“I was joking, Em’.” Ames said with a smile, “Just joking around like I do, you know?”

“Oh. I guess?” she said, shrugging and Taylor went into whisper something to Emily and Trey chided her, “no whispering at the dinner table, girls.”

“Sorry, Daddy. I just…” both girls looked at each other and laughed, “Never mind.”

“Never mind, eh? When did these girls get secrets? Can someone tell me that?” Trey asked no one in particular. If there was one thing I learned from any of it, was that girls and then women, always had their secrets, and sometimes it fucked everyone’s shit up.

SPOV:

As I sat at my dining table with my Grandmother, as she regaled myself, Jason and Crystal with tales of her day ‘back at work’ I found myself zoning in and out. Eric wasn’t answering my texts, so we’d just started dinner without them, and forcing me to make lame excuses as to why they weren’t there. I was frustrated as hell with the whole damn situation, both professionally, and especially personally.

“Sookie?”

“Hmm?” I said, looking at her, “Sorry, just a lot on my mind… you were saying?”

“I was asking how you were, you’ve been really quiet today, and we never did get a lot of to ‘hang’ today,” she said with a smile, “I do like Lafayette, he’s a nice boy.” Clearly he’d taught her that today, too.

I smiled, “yeah he is…I um, yeah I’m fine just a little distracted and tired, I’m sorry.”

“Nothing to be sorry for, I’m just glad this dinner has gone by without incident.”

“Yeah, dinners minus Claudine and the stick up her ass will do that.” I said and Crystal snorted.

“I am sorry for the way she talked to you, but you have to admit –”

“I know, I baited her too, I know, I can’t help it though she just brings out the uber bitch in me. She was way out of line though.”

“She was, and I’ve talked to her and she was really apologetic.”

“Yes, to you. She likes to kiss your ass, surely you see that.”

“Sookie –”

“Oh, Gran, I’m brash, you know this, stop pretending to be shocked by it.”

She pursed her lips, “Sookie I’m just saying you could be a little more…civilized.”

“In my own house? I’m pretty sure I can be whatever I want, thanks.” I said, lifting my plate to take it too the kitchen. I’m sure I had the makings of some pretty strong margaritas in there.

She came in after me, like I assumed she would.

“Sookie, I never really remember you being this…angry at the world. What happened to my lovely Sookie, the one who saw the good in everyone, the one that just wanted to make the world beautiful with her designs, and her knowledge, and her sparkle? Hmm?” she asked softly taking my face in her hands, looking into my eyes as if the answers were in there somewhere.

“She grew up, she got real.”

She shook her head, “No, she got hard. Weary of the world, I hate that the world did that to you. I hate that perhaps I did that to you. Putting you in your position so young, maybe I should have retired later, given you more time to adjust…” she said, as if these things were on a guilt list in her head, and maybe they were, I knew I had one.

“I adjusted just fine.”

“No, you didn’t, Love. You’ve become cold, and distant and detached. I mean you’re still you, inside, I see it when you’re with that little girl. It’s like with her, you’re all the things she thinks you are, and it is almost as if the light inside you comes back out…I miss that light in my Granddaughter, I’d like her to find it again.”

“Which is why you issued me with the ultimatum, right? I don’t get you. You say you want me to find balance, you want my light back, and you want me to do this, that and the other, and Gran, honestly? Its bullshit.”

“Sookie!”

“Well, it is. What does dating have to do with my ability to do a job? Unless I’m a hooker, it means nothing to the job, and I can do the job – you know that. I’ve made us millions, I’ve built the brand up, I’ve –”

“Darling you don’t need to list your accomplishments to me, I’m well aware of all of them and I couldn’t BE any prouder of you.”

“So then why…?”

“I don’t want you to wake up forty and alone. You deserve better.”

“Claudine isn’t alone, that doesn’t mean she’s happy, Jason isn’t alone that doesn’t mean his marriage is rock solid either. You’re alone, and you did just fine.”

She rolled her eyes, she knew I was right.

“I just want you to love, you have so much of it in you and you deserve to be loved just as much, is that a better way of saying it? Sookie, you do the job better than anyone I could possibly hire, but I just don’t think…”

“Think what?”

“It’s not what you love, be honest.”

I was flabbergasted, “Are you kidding? Are you actually kidding me?”

“I found six books upstairs…”

“It’s a library, that’s usually what you find there.”

“Don’t sass me! Your books, Smarty pants. Books filled to the brim with sketches, material, designs, and ideas! Ideas gone unseen because of your ‘day job’. I got to thinking, and I remembered this was never what you really wanted. When you were a kid, you were going to be the next big thing, you wanted to design the dresses the princesses wore, and you wanted to be the hands and the name behind the dresses. Not the name behind a magazine that showed someone else’s dresses, or a cosmetics line. Be honest.”

” Gran, I was sixteen I also thought I was going to be a ballet dancer before that, and a pilot before that. I had a lot of pipe dreams.”

“Well, unless you’re flying planes in your spare time, I’d wager to say that this ‘pipe dream’ is still very alive, if the dates on those sketches are anything to go by.”

It was my turn to roll my eyes.

“I just wonder what you’d be if you had the freedom to … be yourself.”

I raised my brows at her, “I’ve seen you in the office, and I’ve heard the rumours, the nicknames. The Ice-Bitch and others that I really don’t care to repeat? My Sookie is no ice-bitch.”

I just shrugged.

“If I don’t meet your grand expectations, what are you going to do? Give my job, my career, to Claudine?” I asked, and I honestly felt all of five years old.

“It’s not about expect-”

“That’s exactly what it’s about! I’ve been jumping through hoops for you, and you don’t even know what you want, do you? Just because you aren’t happy with the way my life is going you feel the need to interfere.”

“That’s how you see it?” she asked a hurt tone to her voice.

“Honestly, yes. I was happy enough before all this mess happened, just getting on with things and now… everything is fucked up.” I thought of Eric, and then Emily, and I really was fucking everything up.

She nodded.

“If that’s what you think, I won’t be interfering anymore. And I’ll have made my decision by Thanksgiving. You know, that big dinner I have every year for my family, the one for the past six years, you’ve avoided?”

“It’s just a bigger version of what happened last night. Can you really blame me?”

“I’d like it if you came this year, and I’d like Eric and little Emily to come too – providing they don’t have other plans?”

“Gran, I really want to leave them out of this mess as much as possible okay?”

“He’s your beau is he not? I’d think he’d want to come?”

Internally I cringed.

“I’m not making any promises.” Because being honest with myself I’d be surprised if Eric ever spoke to me again.

“The little dress upstairs? I take that belongs to the girl?”

It was in my closet, and I had it hastily tacked to a sewing mannequin, she’d asked me the other day to make her, her Halloween costume. She wanted to go as a Fairy, with wings. I may have had a pattern for something whimsical in my portfolios; I did a little adjusting and some material sourcing at work. It was our secret, and I wanted to keep it that way until it was done. Eric was already prickly about her ‘dressing up’ in my clothes; he’d probably have a period if he knew I was making her a dress out of vintage silk.

“I’m just making her something for her school Halloween party, that’s all.”

She nodded. “You’re attached to them, aren’t you?”

“As you said, he’s my boyfriend, they’re a package deal, shouldn’t I be attached?”

“I guess you’re right, dear. I’m going to go say goodnight to Jason and Crystal, if you’re making cocktails, I’ll have one.” She smiled, and yet again I realized we’d talked ourselves in circles and nothing got resolved.

Great.

Just as Jason and Crystal left, Eric and Emily arrived.

“Hey Sookie, Hey Sookie’s Granma.” Emily said arriving like a little hurricane letting go of Eric’s hand and dropping her backpack on the couch. Eric stood awkwardly shoving his hands in the pockets of his jeans.

“Hey, we had dinner at Amelia’s,” was all he said, and Gran looked at me, then back to Eric.

“She’s Emily’s babysitter,” I said.

“Well, she’s more of a friend who also happens to have a daughter Emily’s age, they’re best friends so they like to hang out a lot, so Ames agrees to look after Emily after school when I work.”

“So, Emily’s babysitter.” I said again, in a harsher tone. I didn’t know why I was mad at him, why was I mad at him? Because he didn’t come to dinner? That’s just sad, I thought, I was mad and I didn’t know why, but I was pretty sure my anger was aiming at the wrong person when I aimed it at Eric.

Grans eyes widened and her eyebrows rose, sensing the tension, she spoke up in a cheerful voice, “Emily, how about we go upstairs and you show me your new dress, huh?”

“Shh!” Emily said but took Grans hand anyway, looking back guiltily to Eric as they took the stairs.

“New dress?” he said, pissed, more pissed that he was already which I thought would have been hard to top.

“It’s nothing…”

“Really? So why is Emily shushing Adele then?”

“Oh for fuck sake, Eric. It’s a Halloween costume, it’s hardly Parisian couture!” I said stomping back into the kitchen, I really needed that cocktail.

“Again, that’s not the fucking point, Sookie. The point was you lied about it, you encouraged my sister to –”

“I did no such thing! She asked me the other day when the kids were playing when she saw my sketches and dresses in the closet, and I agreed. It’s a tiny project and I thought it would be something nice for the kid, so fucking sue me!” F-bombs all over the place, thank God she was out of earshot.

“You didn’t think you should… I don’t know, ask me first?”

“Actually no, because it’s just a dress, a pretty white dress, it’s not like I’m putting her in fishnets and hooker heels.”

He just laughed,”You still don’t get it do you? You don’t get to make these decisions, I do. You’re nothing to her.”

Low blow, asshole, low fucking blow.

I just glared at him, “Nice. Real nice. Actually, it was meant to be a surprise for you, douche. She told you she was going as a tiger, but she was going as a fairy instead and wanted to surprise you at her class Halloween party. Because she’s a sweet kid, God fucking knows how she’s genetically connected to YOU.” I said storming off into the living room, still cocktail-less.

Damn it.

I went a little nuts with the cushion plumping, but hey, at least they were something I could fix.

Unlike my damn life choices.

We played nice for Emily that night, and in part for Gran, though she knew something was up and said nothing, once we got Emily to bed at nine, all I wanted was to fall into my own and sleep for a week, but when I did, he wasn’t there. Instead he was on his way out of the room with a pillow.

“I’m sleeping on the couch,” he said, grabbing the throw blanket at the foot of my bed.

“It’s not really necessary for you to sleep out there, you know? It’s a big bed.”

He shook his head. “Not big enough.”

Another kick the gut, he was getting really good at those, “fine, be a child, see if I care,” I spat out making him turn to me and get dangerously close to my ear, so close I could smell the soap from his shower.

“Hey, think about it, at least this way the lie is cemented, real couples fight all the time, so you’ve sold your lie, and she’s bought it. Mission accomplished, right?”

I couldn’t look at him right then, not because he was wrong but because he was so right. I had done what I’d set out to do, and in the process I’d ended up fucking up my life more than I’d imagined possible. I’d hurt him, I’d probably hurt Emily now too, and I was hurting… and all for what? A job? And Gran was right, it had always been what I thought I NEEDED, and then said I wanted. But was I confusing the two, still?

I didn’t sleep much that night, tossing and turning, my brain not willing to shut up even for a second. Nagging thoughts, revisiting old choices, old conversations… How I’d reacted to Eric who had just taken from my actions what any man would and then I shut him down? How could he not be bitter? I was throwing out more mixed signals than a Lindsey Lohan drug test. No, things had to change, and I had to be the one to change them. I had to take back control and figure out what I wanted from my life, and who I wanted in it, and it started with the guy on my couch.

I looked at the clock, and it was four seventeen. I knew sleep wasn’t gonna come unless I stopped going around in circles in my head, and actually tried to resolve my inner turmoil. So, I got out of bed, and padded silently down the hall, avoiding a sleeping Tina at the top of the stairs, and made my way down to the living room. Eric was sprawled out on the couch, one leg inside the blanket, and one leg outside, his arm stretched over his eyes, all bare torso and shallow breathing. I didn’t want to wake him, but I had to.

I poked his arm, and he grunted.

“Go back to bed, Em…it’s not morning yet.”

“Eric?”

“Em… please sleepy time, its dark.”

“Eric, its Sookie.” I said louder, and it made him wake up, removing his hand he squinted at me.

“Ugh, what time is it?”

“Um, just after four.”

He squinted again, and looked at me as if I was nuts. Hell, maybe I was.

“What… is something wrong?”

“No, I just … I needed to talk to you.”

“And it couldn’t wait four more hours?”

“No…”

He sighed, and opened his eyes fully.

“I’m sorry,” I said quietly.

“Don’t be.”

“No, I need you to hear this; I need to say this to you,” I said standing from my seat on the coffee table, to pace. I paced when I was nervous. “I really don’t know when my priorities got so fucked up, maybe when I started working at the company, maybe even before that. But for a long time all I cared about was making money, making a good reputation and succeeding in business.” I sighed, shifting back to my spot on the table, “and I really don’t know how to get back to me, to what I need for me. I know I need to apologise for everything, you’ve been so…accommodating to me and my crazy ass ideas, and you’ve let me into your life even when you didn’t need to, and I had no right to be there. And you’re right, really, in reality

I’m nothing to her… or you, and in a few weeks she’ll forget all about me and move on. And its how things should be,” I sighed, “I can’t be doing this. Stepping on your toes like this, it’s not right. She’s your kid, your call. After tomorrow… you won’t have to worry about me interfering, again. I bitched at Gran tonight for doing the same in my life, and I should know better… We made a deal and you stuck to it, I didn’t.”

He sat up and pushed the blanket off his legs, our knees now touching.

“You stuck to it, and you did this amazing job of half convincing my Gran that I was normal.” I laughed, nervously. “And I’m the one that fucked up. I pushed us across lines we weren’t ready for. And for that I’m sorry.”

He held his fingers up to my mouth, and I looked him in the eye before he spoke in a gruff still half asleep voice.

“Stop. You haul all the blame, and I’m just as much at fault here, let’s face it Sookie, we’re both stubborn as fuck, we bash heads more than bulls in a field.”

I smiled, it was true.

“But things are messed up here, and I’m not sure how to get them cleaned up. I didn’t mean what I said before, I was just pissed off, and I knew it would hurt you…” he sighed, coming closer and sitting on the couch beside me, “I’m hurt, and I wanted to hurt you. Okay? I took your reaction after what happened at dinner as this huge personal rejection, and my head just got all fucked up and I wanted to get even? It was stupid… You know she adores you, and I need to …accept that too. For a long ass time it was just us two, and now you’ve kinda taken a spot over…”

I shook my head, “I’m just her new play thing, and you’re the security blanket, ya know? The thing she couldn’t ever do without? That’s you…so please don’t worry about me taking your place, as if that were even possible.” I rolled my eyes.

“I know … I know, it’s completely illogical.”

I nodded, before he laid his warm hands on my now cold knees.

“I think we both just need to…step back. Things have gotten so fucking screwed up for both of us, and you have a lot of things you need to figure out for yourself after tomorrow…” he said running his hand through his hair, “we maybe just need some distance to try and figure some stuff out.”

I nodded.

“Eric, I’m sorry if I hurt you. You know I never –”

“I know, we both have nothing but good intentions here, Sookie, I just think we both need to avoid paving our way to hell with them.”

I smiled, “well if you figure that one out, please let me know.” I ran my own hand through my hair, over and back. “Eric, I really don’t know what I’m doing here. All of this…”I looked around my excessively lavish apartment. It was more than I needed; it was more than most people needed, in truth. “These last few days, a lot of things have been thrown at me, and I’ve done and said a lot of questionable shit were everyone else is concerned, and selfishly I thought that it was okay, but none of this is okay… any of it. And I need to make some changes, before I end up hurting you, or Emily, or anyone else I care about again. I can’t go on like this.”

“No, you can’t and neither can I. I like you, Sookie; I think that much is obvious. When you’re relaxed and real, you’re amazing. You’re fun and funny too which I wasn’t expecting. And…” he took my hands, “you have this huge heart in there that I know is full of amazing things. You just need to figure out what you want.”

“Do you know what you want?” I asked, carrying on our whispered conversation.

“I think I do, I just don’t know if it exists,” he said rather ominously but I nodded anyway, sure I’d figure out a way to make things right. I started by taking his hand and leading him back upstairs, and we spend the rest of the night taking comfort in the security of sleep in the arms of each other, in the hopes of find a solution, one that hopefully involved each other.


Chapter 19: Chapter 19


Hey peeps! Chapter 19 is done and dusted for you. A little warning, I wrote this on a load of antibiotics and painkillers, so just… be gentle? lol! I’m feeling somewhat human again, so that’s promising! Thanks so much for all the well wishes on here and on FF, it was very sweet! Enjoy x

EPOV:

The next morning I woke up with my arms wrapped around Sookie, the warmth of the bed, and the warmth of her was all too inviting, but the curious eyes of the sister from the door way was the encouragement for me to move.

“Hey…” I said to her and she tiptoed into the room and got on the bed gently, it was ten past seven, we should have been up. I guess I’d slept a little too well that night.

“Come on, let’s let Sookie sleep in a little while, okay?”

She nodded and hopped off the bed as I went to the bathroom. A lot had happened in the few days that we’d stayed here. Everybody had been through the emotional ringer, a lot was said and left unsaid, and now things were just meant to go back to how they were before? I wasn’t even sure that was possible, I didn’t want to go back. I wanted to go forward, I just wasn’t sure entirely how to do that.

I knew I had to take some time off work, I needed that space, and I was sure Sookie needed it too, after everything it was clear to me that her mind was a busy and kind of fucked up place – space would do her good. I showered quickly and pulled on my clothes getting downstairs to find Adele in the kitchen cooking and Emily sitting on the counter buttering some toast, but mostly making a mess.

“Morning Adele,” I said as I made my way into the kitchen.

“Oh, good morning, Eric. Emily was just helping me with breakfast. I miss having the opportunity to cook for more than one or two people these days.” Whatever she was cooking smelled amazing.

“Smells good, what is it?”

“Good old Southern cooking. Too many women in cities these days, they make reservations not meals.” She smiled shaking her head, “I love cooking. I find it almost therapeutic.”

“Really? I don’t. I mean, I’m still learning –”

“And burning things…” Emily spoke up popping a piece of toast in front of me. I just shook my head at her lifting her down to a seat.

“You’ll get the hang of it eventually; we all have to start somewhere.”

I hoped that was true, or else Emily was going to become seriously malnourished on only fast food and boxed dinners.

“Sookie still asleep?” she asked and I nodded pouring Emily some juice and myself some coffee, setting out Sookie’s cup for her too.

“Yeah, she doesn’t have to be in the office until ten, so I figured I’d let her sleep a while longer.”

“You’re a thoughtful man, Eric. I’ve always thought that about you, since we first met. I admit I wasn’t entirely sure you and Sookie would fit, as a couple I mean. Personally or professionally, it seemed like too many differences. But now I see that you’re more alike than I first thought.”

I had no idea how she meant that, but I decided not to interrupt.

“She needs someone like you in her life, someone who cares for her. Someone for her to care for… And, I admit my decisions of late have been…perhaps questionable? But I’ve only ever wanted what’s best for her.”

“And you think her assistant, is that thing?” I said poking fun at that pile of bullshit that I knew people in the office were still talking about.

She sighed, “I don’t know, you could be her assistant, you could be her mailman, you could be her doctor. At this point I’ve seen that with Sookie the expected never happens, it’s both frustrating and sort of wonderful when things can be so predicable in life. She’s never one of those things. I expected her to go into design, to marry an artist, to have… what Jason calls ‘lots of hipster babies’, and she surprises me by going cooperate and turning my somewhat small nationwide business into a world wide billion dollar brand.”

“So what you’re saying, Adele, is that you don’t understand your Granddaughter?”

She smiled, “No, wonderful isn’t it?”

“I don’t follow?”

“Well, I know Jason inside out; I know what makes him tick, what makes him happy, and what he wants out of life. I know what gets to Claudine, her brother, and even her husband. I know my family outside in, inside out, but Sookie she’s the mystery. And, ironically, she’s the one I was closest too when the kids were growing up.”

“So, if you don’t understand her, why push what you don’t understand? Pushing her into something she might not want?”

She looked at me then, carefully, “I just found her to be floundering, I’ve told her time and time again I wanted her to make changes so she wasn’t so…isolated. She deserved better than coming home to this massive and very, very, empty place every night. Don’t you agree?”

“I do, but I also agree that Sookie’s a grown woman capable of understanding her own mind, and I have to say, I hated how you went about this whole thing, Adele.”

Her eyes widened, and she put down her coffee cup.

“What do you mean?”

I looked to Emily who was happily munching on her breakfast that Adele told her was made up of Southern style biscuit, some cheese grits, and some egg and bacon. Smelled wonderful, but being honest, it was probably a heart attack on a plate.

“Em’, can you go upstairs and grab your backpack for me? I need to check it before we go.”

“I’m ‘ating –”she said wit ha mouthful full of food, I just raised my brow at her and it made her slide off the stool.

“I hated it because it spun her, and I never expected a Grandmother to put a granddaughter through that. Her job is at stake if she can’t sort out her love life? If someone did that to me, I’d be so fired. Because I suck at dating, I suck at social interaction ninety percent of the time, and I just in general buck the trend when someone tries to force me into something. I’m surprised she even asked me out, but I’m glad she did. And I’m glad I did, and I don’t regret this, but I do regret why it happened when it did.”

“Because of me…”

“Yes. It happened, but not how I’d have liked to, naturally.” It wasn’t a full lie, what we had wasn’t natural, but there was definitely the potential there. And there had been long before Adele had stuck her nose in.

“And that’s why she’s so angry with me.”

“That and she assumes if she fucks up, you’re giving her job to Queen Claudine, and her boyfriend stealing, knocked up with bastard children ways.” I did not just say that.

I heard laughing from the doorway, and I found Sookie standing there, her hair in a neat ponytail, dressed in a navy shift dress and round toe flats.

“Sookie –”

“Yes, the topic of the hour has risen.” She said walking into the kitchen, pouring herself a cup of coffee, eyeing both her Gran and I.

“So, please carry on. You both seem to be deep in conversation about me, don’t let the fact that I’m here stop you.”

“Sookie we were just discussing –”

“My life, yep I know. You know, I never thought I was so damn fascinating, but everyone has an opinion it seems. And they just can’t help but talk it out.”

“Sookie maybe Eric is right, perhaps I was harsh.”

“Ya think?” She says looking at her Grandmother and then back to me, “but no, you know what its fine how it is because it has opened my eyes to so many things. So no, you go on and keep to the schedule of Thanksgiving, and I… Well, I have work to do, I have three meetings for the next issue today and Pam is back from her buying mission in Italy, so I have to figure out the samples for the new season, so I don’t really have time to care about your realizations Gran. Sorry.” With that she put the cup down, and walked calmly out of the kitchen and up the stairs. She appeared Zen, but I knew she was smarting inside.

Adele closed her eyes and sighed, “I don’t know what to do… I just … don’t.”

“Don’t do anything. I think at this point Sookie has a lot of thinking to do…” I said looking in the direction she left in, “I think we all do.” And we did, for once I was going to think things through before I acted again. I wanted a shot with her, I had done from day one, but I wasn’t going to be stupid about it again, not now, not when she had a million other things distracting her. I’d waited a long time to find someone that made me nervous, that gave me butterflies, that made me laugh and frustrated me more than anyone else. I realized I’d found it in her, and I wanted to explore that more than anything, but I needed her to want that too – for real this time. I didn’t want to be rejected, I didn’t want to put myself out there again and get shot down. I couldn’t do that not to me or to Emily, so I was overly cautious? Possibly, but again, I knew she had bigger issues on her mind than a guy right now, even if that guy was me.

I could wait.

I would wait.

Until she realized that one of the things she needed in her life, was me.

SPOV:

I listened to them talk, and was struck by how concerned he sounded. Not just for me, but for me and my Gran’s relationship because of everything that happened. It was very sweet of him, unnecessary, but sweet. And Gran her uncertainty, it was something she hardly showed me these days, attempting to be so steadfast in her choices, she hid her doubts. I was glad to know she’d had a lot over what she’d demanded of me. I hated to interrupt them, but when Eric commented to honestly on the Claudine situation, my laugh gave me away, ruining the eavesdropping. Before I went back upstairs to finish getting ready, I resisted the urge to kiss Eric, for a number of reasons but mostly because I was just glad that we’d sorted out our tensions, and were hopefully on a more even keel now. I didn’t know if we were sorted completely, but I sensed an ease from him that I hadn’t in the days before. I hoped this fresh start meant good things, and I’d go out of my way to make sure at least on my end, good things happened. I bumped into Emily coming down the stairs, trailing her bag and one shoe.

“Hey!” I said, lifting her up to the couch to put her shoe back on.

“Hi… we have to go home today don’t we?” She asked, not at all amused by it either.

“Yeah I think that’s the deal… but you know you can come over again, right?”

“I can?” That seemed to brighten her up.

“Sure, I mean I’m really busy –”

“With work, Eric says you work real hard…”

“I do, and yeah busy with work for a while now, so we might not see each other for a little while, but I promise we’ll still see each other.”

“And my costume…”

“Of course, I have it all set up and I measured you, remember? So I just have to put it together for you, and you’ll be the prettiest fairy, ever!”

“Do I get wings?”

I knew we had some at work from a shoot about six months ago, they could be altered.

“Of course, every fairy needs her wings, right?”

“RIGHT!” she said, excited as she took off in the direction of the kitchen only to turn back a second later and came back to where I was sitting, to hug me.

It was the sweetest damn thing ever, and I may have melted.

She didn’t say anything before she went and ran in the direction of the kitchen again. Such a cute kid.

Eric and I had an awkward exchange of looks before he left to take Emily to school, leaving me with Gran as I grabbed a few things from my home office.

“The car is picking me up in a few minutes, Sookie.”

“Oh, that’s good then, you won’t have long to wait at the airport, flight leaves soon, right?”

“Yes, I’m going to Dallas to visit a few friends for a week or so, and then home. I was thinking of having Thanksgiving at the Colorado house this year, it’s bigger, and if Eric and Emily are coming with you, we’ll need the extra room. And it is nice this time of year…the kids enjoy it.”

“I haven’t asked him yet, and I haven’t really decided if I want to go or not yet myself.”

She looked sad, I hated that I also hated her uppity attitude, but there were just certain things I couldn’t help. I did wonder though, when exactly it was that she and I stopped being so close and turned into two people who didn’t know each other at all.

“Well, I’d like it very much, if you could come. I would say this has been fun, but we both know that would be a lie…and I’d really like the opportunity to make things up to you.”

And she had her magical decision to make too, what she didn’t know was that I had a lot of my own to make too.

I looked at her and I just didn’t want to fight anymore, not with her, not with Eric, and certainly not with myself.

“Sure, Gran. Sure.”

“You mean it?” she smiled, taking my hands.

“I’ll go, I can’t promise that Eric won’t already have his plans made for this year –”

“He’s so very fond of you, I can’t imagine he’d want to be anywhere else but with you.”

I wondered if that was actually true. For a second I’d pretend it was.

“We’ll see. No promises.”

“No, no promises, but even just having you come will be special enough. I am sorry for how things are you know I don’t want them to be this way between us.”

“Neither do I… it’s the last thing I want, but things are the way they are until someone steps in and changes something. We both have a lot to think about before then.”

She nodded and we talked a little more, a little about Jason, the kids, and her friends before the town car came to pick her up and we said our awkward goodbyes. I always missed her, but right then I was ever so glad to have my place to myself. And by the looks of my snoring cat, she was too.

I got a text from Eric shortly after Gran left, asking for some time off work and if it was okay by me, he’d sort it with HR. He more than deserved the break, and I assured him as much. In truth I needed the space, from him for our whole weird vibe of whatever-the-fuck-we-were-or-weren’t. I needed time to assess some things that I’d been putting off for a long ass time. The first thing I did was call Pam, knowing she was back and knowing I needed my friend in the worst way. We decided to do lunch, a very long and late lunch was needed and possibly in liquid form.

“And then I got amazing access to some of their couture, Sookie I swear I may have peed a little… and I just can’t tell you how nice they were, I mean the showcase for Paris is going to be amazing, and I managed to make some pretty good contacts for maybe an interview or even a full on article for one of the upcoming issues of the magazine –”

“That’s so great, Pam, see I told you the solo trip would be fine. You can more than hold your own.”

“I was nervous though, I mean I’m usually just involved in the design, and at home running the magazine, this is a whole other thing.”

“Well you said you wanted to be more involved over all, the brand covers a lot of ground. The clothing line, the cosmetics of course, and the magazine. I like that you’re expanding, I do.”

She nodded and smiled.

“That’s not why I asked to have lunch though, I was sure you’d a great job, and your emails on the job were painfully detailed…”I laughed.

“Oh, so why then?”

“I’ve been…lying to you.”

“Oh honey I know you’re no size 0 that ship sailed a long- ”

“No… about Eric. We have been seeing each other, but not in the way you thought. It’s been under contract.”

She blinked.

And blinked.

And then finally closed her mouth.

“Contract from whom?”

“Me…”

“For?”

And so I explained the situation, my panic, and my stupid, stupid idea. And how Eric had been weary but I’d convinced him, and in the making off this holy show how I just might have fallen a tiny bit in love with him, too. I’ve never seen Pam down a daiquiri as fast in my life.

“Are you ill? Have you lost your mind? Sookie, the fuck?”

“I know…”

“Do you know? You bribed him? The assistant? Girl, please, you know you could have just made him do it, for free…and judging by how he watches that ass when you walk in front of him, he’d have done it! Twenty five grand?”

“He says he never wanted the money, and I believe him, but I mean I couldn’t not pay him, this was a huge deal and I would have written the same contract up for any of the other guys…”

“And now you’re all attached and in love with him because why? Because he’s cute and tall and has a kid and your stupid hetero clock is ticking and playing tricks on you… that you’re in love with your very nerdy assistant…oh my God.” She ranted and I really don’t think she stopped for a breath.

“Pam –”

“No, Sookie this is just too much stupid to take in right now. I can’t believe you lied to me first of all, I mean seriously, you know why you lied too which makes it worse…”

Because I knew she’d try and talk me out of it, that’s why.

“I was desperate, okay? And in panic mode, and I don’t know I just was willing to do anything to make sure that she was convinced… and I did it.”

“Did you ‘do him’ is the more important question?”

I looked shifty, I just couldn’t help it.

“Oh, gross,” she said sipping her drink.

“No I didn’t ‘do’ him, but we got close to ‘it’ a couple of times and let’s just say the lines are crossed and I can’t go back. But I just don’t know how to go forward.”

“But he’s the guy that works for you… I just…it’s kind of… skanky, and totally something Jason would do.”

“Is doing…” I corrected, “With Sophie, ugh, see this is why I didn’t want to do this with a guy I knew. Now I know him, and I really like what I know, Pam. He’s a good man.”

She rolled her eyes, “Well, Honey, if you like him, give it a shot. I mean, I’m grossed out by this and the whole ‘dipping your nip in the company ink’ thing is also questionable let’s be real…but if you like him and he likes you, then I guess I can’t say that it’s such a… bad idea.”

“Isn’t it ‘nib?'”

“Well, you don’t have a nib, but you have a nip, two of them in fact. Can we move on?”

I laughed, trust me to focus on the unimportant part of the sentence.

“Why not? I was sure you’d talk me out of this, maybe I was hoping you would.”

She shook her head, “You like almost no one, that and it’s been so hard for me to get you to open up to the idea of any new guys for ages, right? Well, if you’ve managed to find one on your own, then, go with it. See where it goes, and if it goes no where, at least you gave it a shot.”

I narrowed my brows at her.

“Sookie, don’t do that you’re against Botox and if you keep doing that you’re going to need it sooner than you think.”

“Pam… I’m just shocked is all. I was expecting you to… I don’t know, talk me way out of this, tell me it was stupid, something!”

“Well, maybe I still think those things, but I also think that the guys you’ve fallen in with in the past have been total assholes, and Eric… he’s a lot of things. Shitty dresser, uncoordinated at just about everything, but, he’s not an asshole and he respects you. You could, and have, done worse.” She shrugged.

“Oh… okay?”

“Right, so, anything else?”

With that we fell into normal conversation covering just about every other aspect of our lives, I missed my bestie.

EPOV:

Having shifted the last of the boxes out of the elevator and into the new place, I breathed a sigh of relief.

“That it?” Sam yelled from inside the apartment, currently up a ladder, paint brush in hand. Trey was unpacking the kitchen, and Ames was cleaning out and helping Emily with her new room. It had taken me well over a week to get everything packed, get the new place half painted, and get things moving. I couldn’t have taken time off at a better time. The bigger, better apartment came up for rent a few weeks before and since I’d put in a good word, I was first on the offer list. I snapped it up right away. I liked our building, it was full of good people – for the most part, and most of them had kids and jobs, and generally just wanted to live their lives and mind their own business. That, and Emily had Taylor close by, and I didn’t like the idea of pulling her away from her best friend, not when she’d lost so much in life already.

So, the new place was perfect in

“Yep, that’s the last of the boxes. Guy’s thanks so much for doing this. I know it’s not the most fun way to spend a Friday afternoon.”

“Hey, its fine Eric, Holly is looking after the bar. And I needed the break, she keeps on me about this expansion, becoming a chain, and I just can’t dodge her anymore.”

“And I have nothing better to do since the construction we were working for went bust last week, so hey, really you’re doing us a favour…and you said there would be pizza and beers.” Trey spoke up from where he was; now back to painting the mouldings.

“There will be, I just have to go into town and collect the new couch…Sam?”

“Reason I brought the van, will we go now?” Sam said putting down the brush.

“Yeah, just let me go check on Em’, and I’ll be right down.”

“Cool.”

I walked into Emily’s new room and she was standing on her freshly made bed. Her room was the first I did, mostly because she was annoying when she started to get antsy and she was antsy when her ‘things’ weren’t the ‘right way’. I made a note to get her tested for possible OCD.

“Isn’t it pretty?” she asked as she and Ames hung the last of her framed pictures. The room was painted a shade of baby pink, with lots of white accents, and this time a lime green check armchair sat in the corner. Her Princess bed was in place, so I guess all was right in her world.

“It looks great, did you thank Ames?”

“Yep!”

Ames smiled and straightened out the bed when Emily hopped off.

“I’m going with Sam to get pizza, what’s everyone having?”

“Cheeeeese, ham, and peproni.”

“Pepperoni,” I corrected, “Ames?”

“Oh anything’s fine, but if you’re getting, get one with no anchovies.”

“Chovies are gross…” Emily nodded in agreement, and I couldn’t disagree, they were gross.

“Okay, anything else?”

“Can I have the brownies? And fizzy juice?”

“We’ll see.” I said rolling my eyes, I didn’t know why I asked; she always had a list ready and waiting.

Deciding against IKEA this time as much as I loved it for most things this time I had to skip it. I needed a more comfortable couch even though thankfully I’d no longer be actually sleeping on it. It filled me with giddy joy the day before to go bed shopping, and while I had savings put by for everything Em’ and I would need in a new place for a new start, I’d put a little extra in for a bed. I really wanted to just drive over to Sookie’s place and steal hers, but in lieu of that I simple bought myself its clone. I couldn’t wait to just dive in and sleep late, it was the simple things, I tell you.

“So Eric you’re good with numbers right? With money?”

“Sometimes, why?” I asked Sam as we rode back in his van having almost killed ourselves moving the furniture in, and then waiting in line at the pizza place, we were starving and in serious need of a beer.

“I mean it’s your thing, right?”

“Yeah, I’m a math nerd to the highest degree… or PHD if you’d rather.” I smiled.

“I noticed, man normal guys keep porn under the bed or in boxes … you have tons of math equations, that’s just weird…” he said full of sarcasm and a grin.

“Why?” I said, ignoring him.

“The expansion thing that Holly keeps asking about, she went to this guy in the city, a numbers guy, and he did her up this business plan… and from what I’m seeing, financially we could actually do it. But, I don’t know, I guess I’m scared to take the risk and invest in another place, you know? I’m no good with numbers, and honestly the only time Holly is good with money is when she’s spending it on shoes.”

I smirked; yeah Holly wasn’t the safest person to give money too.

“You want me to take a look at your books? The business plan? See if it’s legit?”

“Would you? I’d feel safer if it was someone I knew, you know?”

“Yeah, man, no problem at all.” I nodded, more than happy to help. I’d met Sam at his bar about six years before; I was student and in need of a rather epic sorrow drowning after a particularly misguided short lived relationship with a girl that was way out of my league. I’d told him my sob story, and as the new owner of the bar, he was in the mood to listen and offer advice. We’d been friends ever since.

“I have the rest of the week off, I can swing by and take a look on Monday if you want?”

“That would be amazing. Thanks Eric.”

“No worries. What kind of expansion is she thinking about?”

“Taking it near the college campuses, maybe expanding to a juice bar during the day with themed specials? She’s full of ideas, just not a lot of sense.”

I smiled.

“I’ll take a look; we’ll figure you something out.”

He nodded again in thanks as we pulled up outside the building.

On the way in I swore I saw Sookie’s town car drive away, but then again there were a lot of cars similar running around, and I dismissed it. Getting back inside to eat, and finally relax in my new home.

Three hours, seven pizzas and countless beers among us we had a new apartment and an impromptu housewarming party to go with it. Walls were fresh, floors were clean, and the new sofa had its first spill. It felt good, I felt good – relaxed for the first time in a long time. Emily and Taylor were tucked up in her new room having fallen asleep after hours of play and a viewing of Happy Feet – twice.

“Here’s to Eric, his new place, and finally having a room of his own. Maybe this means he’ll actually get some, and stop being a whiney little bitch.” Trey said in his toast, to which Ames hit him in the arm and I just smirked.

“Bitch? Little? Dude I’ve got four inches on you, in more ways than one if what Amelia tells us is true…” I said to the shock of everyone in the room who simply ‘ooooh’d’ us both as we smirked at each other.

“Fuck you, man.”

“Aw, love you too.” I said messing his hair before making my way to the kitchen to get more ice for the bucket that’s when I heard the door.

I opened it to find Sookie.

“Hey?” I said, surprised.

“Hey, hi… uh… hi…”

“Hi…?”

“I came by to give you Emily’s costume for tomorrow night, I wasn’t sure … I asked the woman next door to you…she said you moved up here now?”

“Yeah, this week, bigger place, better…”

“Oh, that’s great…” she smiled and everything was just that little bit extra awkward.

“Yeah, you wanna come in?” I said opening the door a little, noting that Ames and Holly were now getting closer to see what was going on. She looked amazing, not that that was anything new, but it had been over a week since I’d seen her, and it wasn’t wrong that I noticed she cut her hair a little, was it?

“Oh, no… I can’t stay, I just wanted to drop it off in case I didn’t get time tomorrow, um, so… here…” she said handing me a large black garment bag, “her wings are in there too, and I customed some white Mary-Jane’s from the wardrobe at work, I hope they’re her size…”

“Thanks, really I mean you didn’t have to do this. But I know she’ll be thrilled, you know she thinks the sun shines out of you anyway, but this just tops it off…” I smiled and I think she blushed, I could have sworn she blushed. At that Ames and Holly poked around the door.

“Hey Eric, who’s this?” Holly asked and Amelia just smiled and said ‘hey’.

“Holly, this is Sookie… Sookie is my … boss. Friend… boss and friend?” Now Sookie wasn’t the only one full of awkward.

“Oh how nice! Won’t you come in? There’s a little impromptu party going on you’d be more than welcome, I’m sure.” Holly said looking between Sookie and me. In that moment I saw something in Sookie panic, as she stepped back from the door.

“No, that’s very nice of you…all. But I really have to go. Eric, let me know if she likes it okay?”

“Uh, sure, you sure you can’t stay for one drink?”

But she was already moving down the hallway, “No, but thanks anyway!”

“She’s weird.” Holly said to Amelia who just smiled at me.

“She’s not weird; she has a crush on Eric, that’s all.”

I didn’t even really register the two of them taking as I watched her get to the end of the hallway and into the elevator.

“Eric?” Amelia said waving a hand over my face.

“What?”

“Let’s see the dress, then?”

Oh, right.

I unzipped the bag to find an envelop taped onto the hanger, with my name on it.

I opened it to find a cheque also with my name on it, and twenty five grand addressed to me.

Both girls’ eyes went wide, and I didn’t have time to think, I just handed Holly the bag and sprinted down the hallway, ignoring the elevator in favour of the stairs. Her car was still parked out front when I got there. I wasted no time, and jumped in.

“Eric? What the hell!” she said, startled.

“I…um…”I tried to catch my breath, “I thought we talked about this. I don’t want the money. I never really did this for the money, Sookie.”

She just rolled her eyes and uncrossed her legs, “I know, but a deal is a deal, Eric. I want you to take it. Just, take it.”

“No. I told you –”

“Dude, seriously, stop. I need you to just agree with me on this and get out of the car so I can go!”

“No, not until you take it back.”

We both sat looking at each other, well, glaring would be a better word really.

“Neither of us are gonna give in, are we?” she asked and I nodded ‘no’. She sighed looking out her window, and then looking back at me.

“You’ve got to make things difficult for me, huh?”

“They wouldn’t be if you’d just look at this as a friend doing you a favour and leave it at that.”

“But there was a contract!”

“Fuck the contract,” I said and she looked at me, unable to contain her smirk.

“Can’t do that, imagine the paper cuts…” I just smiled, enjoying the fact that I could smell her perfume from where I sat. I never know what it was, but I always knew I loved it.

“You should come inside, meet my friends, give Em’ the dress yourself. You worked really hard on it and I know she’d love to see you?”

Ok so she was asleep, but hey, if it got her inside…

“I shouldn’t I mean I’d be just dropping in like that, It would be rude.”

“I’m inviting you, I mean technically I didn’t invite anyone upstairs tonight, they all kinda just showed up to help and now won’t leave.”

“I don’t really know, Eric, it’ll be awkward.”

I just furrowed my brows at her, “I remember you walking into parties at fashion week and ruling the room, this is just a fraction of that.”

“Yeah but I was in work mode, work me is a bitch in case you failed to notice. Bitches get stuff done.”

“Okay, so, take Tina Fey’s advice again and maybe get stuff done, but be less bitchy about it. Amelia is dying to hang out with ‘the’ Sookie Stackhouse, and Sam’s girl is really sweet, they won’t bite if you don’t, I promise.”

“Oh she’s Sam’s girlfriend? Oh… I thought…” she shook her head, “never mind…”

She looked thoughtful about what I asked and a little embarrassed by what I assumed she was assuming about who Holly was, but in the end I could see she decided against it. She wasn’t ready.

“Maybe another time?” She suggested gently.

“If you insist, I’m pretty sure Terry is two more beers away from breaking into song, it’s always a hilarious treat. You’re missing out.”

I smiled.

“Definitely another time, then?”

“Sure. In fact, I’m taking Em’ trick or treating tomorrow night at six after her little school party, you should come.”

“Oh… um… really?”

“Yeah, I mean there’s free candy, what else do you need?”

She smiled big and real, I loved that smile.

“Do I get to dress up?”

“Well, it’s kind of a requirement for this sort of thing.”

“Really, so… what do you dress up as?”

“You’ll just have to show up, and find out for yourself won’t you?”

She pursed her lips holding back a smirk, “are you flirting with me?”

“I don’t know is it working?”

She just rolled her eyes, “I’ll see you at six, Eric.”

I guess it did.

“Good, cool, see you at six…” I said before I made my way out of the car.

Well this Halloween was certainly shaping up to be a whole lot less scary that last year, that’s for sure. I watched her car pull out of its parking spot and drive away, and it wasn’t until I got into the elevator that I realized I had one hell of a grin on my face. Not only had I my brand new room, with my brand new giant bed to look forward too, I had Sookie – in a costume to look forward to, too. So far, already the best Halloween ever!


Chapter 20: Chapter 20


A/N: Hi guys, remember this one? I know, I know, this has been a looong time coming, but I apologise because I just can’t force myself to write something that doesn’t seem to want to be written. It comes when it comes, but I am sorry for the wait, because as a reader myself there is literally nothing worse than when a writer flip-flops and pisses off on a story half written! So, if you’re still here, I thank you a thousand times, and I’d love it if you’d let me know how you like it or don’t like it! *Kisses*

When we last left TDWD –

I unzipped the bag to find an envelope taped onto the hanger, with my name on it.

I opened it to find a cheque also with my name on it, and twenty-five grand addressed to me.

Both girls’ eyes went wide, and I didn’t have time to think, I just handed Holly the bag and sprinted down the hallway, ignoring the elevator in favour of the stairs. Her car was still parked out front when I got there. I wasted no time, and jumped in.

“Eric? What the hell!” she said, startled.

“I…um…”I tried to catch my breath, “I thought we talked about this. I don’t want the money. I never really did this for the money, Sookie.”

She just rolled her eyes and uncrossed her legs, “I know, but a deal is a deal, Eric. I want you to take it. Just, take it.”

“No. I told you –”

“Dude, seriously, stop. I need you to just agree with me on this and get out of the car so I can go!”

“No, not until you take it back.”

We both sat looking at each other, well, glaring would be a better word really.

“Neither of us are gonna give in, are we?” she asked and I nodded ‘no’. She sighed looking out her window, and then looking back at me.

“You’ve got to make things difficult for me, huh?”

“They wouldn’t be if you’d just look at this as a friend doing you a favour and leave it at that.”

“But there was a contract!”

“Fuck the contract,” I said and she looked at me, unable to contain her smirk.

“Can’t do that, imagine the paper cuts…” I just smiled, enjoying the fact that I could smell her perfume from where I sat. I never know what it was, but I always knew I loved it.

“You should come inside, meet my friends, give Em’ the dress yourself. You worked really hard on it and I know she’d love to see you?”

Ok so she was asleep, but hey, if it got her inside…

“I shouldn’t I mean I’d be just dropping in like that, It would be rude.”

“I’m inviting you, I mean technically I didn’t invite anyone upstairs tonight, they all kinda just showed up to help and now won’t leave.”

“I don’t really know, Eric, it’ll be awkward.”

I just furrowed my brows at her, “I remember you walking into parties at fashion week and ruling the room, this is just a fraction of that.”

“Yeah but I was in work mode, work me is a bitch in case you failed to notice. Bitches get stuff done.”

“Okay, so, take Tina Fey’s advice again and maybe get stuff done, but be less bitchy about it. Amelia is dying to hang out with ‘the’ Sookie Stackhouse, and Sam’s girl is really sweet, they won’t bite if you don’t, I promise.”

“Oh she’s Sam’s girlfriend? Oh… I thought…” she shook her head, “never mind…”

She looked thoughtful about what I asked and a little embarrassed by what I assumed she was assuming about who Holly was, but in the end I could see she decided against it. She wasn’t ready.

“Maybe another time?” She suggested gently.

“If you insist, I’m pretty sure Terry is two more beers away from breaking into song, it’s always a hilarious treat. You’re missing out.”

I smiled.

“Definitely another time, then?”

“Sure. In fact, I’m taking Em’ trick or treating tomorrow night at six after her little school party, you should come.”

“Oh… um… really?”

“Yeah, I mean there’s free candy, what else do you need?”

She smiled big and real, I loved that smile.

“Do I get to dress up?”

“Well, it’s kind of a requirement for this sort of thing.”

“Really, so… what do you dress up as?”

“You’ll just have to show up, and find out for yourself won’t you?”

She pursed her lips holding back a smirk, “are you flirting with me?”

“I don’t know is it working?”

She just rolled her eyes, “I’ll see you at six, Eric.”

I guess it did.

“Good, cool, see you at six…” I said before I made my way out of the car.

Well this Halloween was certainly shaping up to be a whole lot less scary than last year, that’s for sure. I watched her car pull out of its parking spot and drive away, and it wasn’t until I got into the elevator that I realized I had one hell of a grin on my face. Not only had I my brand new room, with my brand new giant bed to look forward too, I had Sookie – in a costume to look forward to, too. So far, already the best Halloween ever!

SPOV:

I moved the phone from my ear, to speakerphone, placing it on my dresser as I buttoned up.

“No, move it up, we need to have that meeting before the shoots …are you kidding me? No. Just make it happen, if she’s pregnant now…we either use the shoot as her announcement or we can it. I’m not sticking her in couture for this shoot to have to alter it, so we move it up or we replace her.” I sighed, putting the finishing touches to my costume as I took my last calls of the day; I was stressed but trying not to let it bring me into a full-blown bitch-fit. I wanted it to be a nice evening, to see Eric and Emily have a little fun and perhaps ditch my calorie counting ways and indulge in massive amounts of sugar.

I looked in the mirror again, making sure I got my wig straight, got my cape on right, and touched up my lipstick. I was Wonder Woman, complete with a real wig that would make Beyonce proud, some badass boots and everything in-between. I had the costume in my closet from the year before, when work dictated everything and I missed Pam’s big Halloween party, this year she and her girlfriend were skipping the festivities in favour of a night a home, with candy. I can’t say I blamed her, planning parties was never fun, they were fun for the guests just not the hostess, at least in my experience. I slipped on my trench coat, to provide at least a little dignity until it got a little darker and I felt a little more in the spirit of things. I was sure I would once I got to Eric’s, and saw Emily in her costume and Eric in his, I’d feel more comfortable as part of a little group, as opposed to a grown ass woman running around upper Manhattan in skin-tight materials and a weave. I noticed Hoyt giving me the side eye a few times as he tried to figure out who I ‘was’ for Halloween, it was comical in a way, he tried to be oblivious about it, only making himself more obvious.

“Want a peek?”

That startled him, and I took evil pleasure in the look on his face.

“I… no?”

“No?”

“I mean… No it’s not…I wasn’t wondering or anything.”

“Really? If I saw a woman get into my car with just a coat covering her, a wig and some snazzy boots, I’d sure be wondering.”

He smiled, and so did I.

“I’m Wonder Woman. Get it? Wondering? See, Hoyt? I can make the funny.” I said laughing before I sat back, seeing his eyes only through the rearview mirror.

“If you don’t mind me saying so, Miss Stackhouse, but you’ve changed a lot these last few months – and it’s not a bad change either.”

Now that shocked me.

“I don’t meant to butt my nose in, but in this job you hear a lot and you see a lot – most things go in one ear and out the other if I’m being honest… But your change it’s nice, it’s hard to forget.”

Oh…” I said, not sure if there was anything else to say.

“Eric has been good for you…If you don’t mind me saying.”

“He’s just my –”

“I’m not asking what he is or isn’t, Miss. I’m just sayin’ whatever he is or isn’t has been good for you, that’s all.”

He nodded as I sat back again in my seat, now with a little more to muse over before we got to Eric’s neighbourhood in Brooklyn. If even Hoyt was noticing a change, did that make it so?

Interesting.

I thanked Hoyt, for the first time in a long time, I thanked him for doing his job and dropping me off, I can’t say which one of us was more shocked by it either. I got the Eric’s door and when I knocked I heard the patter of tiny feet on the tile floor inside, something get dragged across the floor and then a shout.

“ERIC, SOOKIE IS HERE!”

I heard something get dragged away from the door, and the next thing I see a Fairy open the door, standing on chair to do so. I laughed; she was certainly a resourceful little kid, that’s for sure.

“I’m too short to open it without the chair, but Eric said I shouldn’t open it at all …but it’s you and you’re not a stranger so he can’t get mad!” She said as she hopped off the chair, dragging it back to open the door fully and let me inside where I put my bags down freeing my arms.

“You like?” She asked doing a little twirl, and I had to admit, the little fairy looked beautiful. I told her as much too, and she ran off in the direction of what I assumed were the bedrooms with a smile on her face. A second later, Eric came out of one of the other rooms, what I assumed to be his bedroom now, dressed in a very peculiar costume.

“Hey!” He smiled, “you like?” I noticed both he and Emily asked the question the same, I found it hilarious how alike they were in the smallest of ways. It was very endearing.

“I’m confused… what are you?” I took in his costume which appeared to be a pumpkin of some kind. He was head to toe in black including a long-sleeved t-shirt and what appeared to be workout lycra leggings, then his costume was around his lower torso and went right to the tops of his knees.

“I’m Pie. Get it?”

He turned and yes, there it was, the mathematical sign for pie, as in the 3.14 version, he was covered in numbers, as well as tiny pictures of actual pies. It was very clever and very funny once it sunk in.

“You…are such a math geek, aren’t you?” I asked with a smile.

“Pretty much the biggest you’ll ever meet, but hey, at least mine is original. What are you? A flasher?”

I scowled at him. “Uh, no, Pie Boy. I’m…” I whipped off my coat in once quick swift movement, revealing my Wonder Woman get up, and, by the look on his face, it was something Eric was enjoying very much.

I grinned when I realized he couldn’t stop staring.

“I… like Wonder Woman. Always have…she was hot…” he said taking me in, again.

“I’ll take those as compliments then…hey…up here?” I said motioning for him to stop staring at my breasts, as comical as his face was, we had to get a move on.

“Em! Strap on them wings Sis, we gotta get going!”

Six blocks, a meet up with Amelia and Taylor, and three times at catching Eric staring at my wondrous chest later, and we were almost done. I was hyped up on sugar, and well into the spirit of the whole thing, having the girls there to meet up with all their little friends made it easier too.

“I haven’t had sugar in weeks, this is really a bad idea, I’m pretty sure my ears are ringing from this…” I said to Eric as I finished off some more skittles and he just laughed as we approached our last house. That’s when the Bitch came back out.

I looked at Amelia, and she looked at me, we both rolled our eyes at the woman at her door handing the kids toothbrushes and dental floss. Eric just made the kids say thank you, but I wasn’t having it.

“You know, Lady, I get that you think you’re being a special little snowflake here by Grinching these kids out of fun things at Halloween, but you’re really not, you’re just being mean.” And it pissed me off, all the other houses fawned over the kids cuteness and their costumes and it made the girls really happy, this bitch was just …well… a bitch.

“Miss, I don’t think it’s any of your concern what I choose to hand out, or what message I choose to send out to irresponsible parents who let their kids get hyped up on candy and get out of control.”

“Message…? It’s Halloween! The only ‘message’ about this is that it’s meant to be a fun, family filled time.”

“But it’s necessary to keep control!” She countered.

“Sookie maybe we should just go…” Eric said and I sighed.

“Lady, next time just don’t open the door, it’ll hurt the kids less if you do that.”

“But if I do that, they’ll egg my house.”

I just rose a brow at her and stepped away from the door, “Who’s to say they won’t do that anyway?”

She looked shocked and I looked to my left to see Amelia doubled over trying to keep her laughter inside, it wasn’t working. I think we were all a little hyped up.

Emily tugged at my belt and I hunkered down to her level

“Are we really going to egg her ugly house?” She whispered to me and I looked to Eric and then back to her. I really wanted to, the bitch deserved her trick after all, but then again there were kids present, and that wouldn’t really set the best example.

“No, of course not. That would be wrong.”

“She was wrong!” Emily argued, stomping her little feet as we walked.

“Well, no she wasn’t wrong. Flossing is important, but, I guess I just thought she was spoiling the fun and I got a little upset, but we can’t egg her house, even if it would be… an improvement.”

Eric shook his head.

“What? It would be. But, we can’t…So let’s just go home and be thankful for the candy we got and the fun we had? Huh?”

She nodded her head and held her hand up for me to take it, my heart melted a little every time she’d do that. I just needed to remember that she was a little kid and I had to show an example for her when she was around, it wasn’t something I was so used to, yet.

EPOV:

“I like her, Eric. I mean I’m annoyed by how amazing she looks like swanning around in that costume, but, she’s not as scary as she was before. It’s kind of cool.” Amelia said nodding her head.

“Cool?” I asked as I got the beers for the guys, and she got the girlie looking drinks in my new kitchen.

“Yeah, I mean whatever you say is or isn’t going on between both of you…that’s fine. But for someone like her to show up just for trick or treating? It’s pretty significant.”

“What do you mean?”

“Duh, nothing might be happening for real, but she sure wants it to.”

“She’s just here for Emily.” I reasoned, even if I hoped otherwise. My answer earned me a glare, I ignored it.

“Sure… Sure.”

She didn’t believe me, not that I blamed her, I was a shitty liar.

When we finally got the girls to bed, it left the adults to dig into the hidden candy stash and the hidden alcohol stash too. None of us were getting smashed, but after a day of little kids plus what probably ended up being a ton of sugar, it equalled the right for a beer or two to mellow us all out. Sookie was at ease, oddly, as she sipped her drink and slipped a lollypop into it for ‘flavor’ making conversation with Sam who had stopped by with candy for Emily.

“You know, Sookie, you aren’t at all like I thought you’d be like.” Sam said aloud and I started to sweat.

“Oh, really?” she said, looking to me then looking back to Sam. “Why is that, Sam?”

Sam looked to me, and he was clearly trolling, the bastard.

“Is it because I’m not breathing fire? It’s early, give it time.” She laughed, setting down her drink.

“He never said a bad word, I swear.”

She laughed at that, even Sookie saw through Sam’s sweet but in the end total bullshit filled lines.

“I’m sure he didn’t, Eric would never do such a thing as bitch about his Bitch of a boss, right Eric?”

I shrugged.

“You have your moments.”

“Hmm, you’re lucky I’m both sugar filled and vodka soaked right now, or you’d be fired.”

Everyone laughed, because she was clearly in full sarcasm mode, but it was interesting to see her so, well, at home, with my friends and in my new place.

“Yeah Eric, I mean she’s nowhere near as evil as you make out, all the time.” Amelia interjected, with an equally evil grin. Why was I friends with these people again?

“I hate you, all of you.” I said sipping my beer in protest to their laughs.

“He’s right though,” Sookie offered up, nibbling on a chip she’d taken from the bowl that sat on the coffee table in front of her. “I am awful sometimes, really awful, I have earned so many unflattering nicknames at work, it’s beyond.”

“Aw, I’m sure it’s not that bad.” Ames tried to sooth, eternal Mom that she was.

“Oh, it is, trust me.” She answered with a nod as I took my seat next to her. “Ice-Bitch, The Devil, Satan in Satin heels, Certifiable Sookie… they think I don’t hear it, but I do. I mean, it’s fine, but I mean really I’d just rather they’d be a little bit more creative.” She waved her hand about in protest and I couldn’t help but laugh. It wasn’t the nicknames or the hate that annoyed her, it was that if they were going to talk about her behind her back, she wanted them to at the very least, put some effort into it.

“They have no idea how hard it is…doing what I do and not committing mass murder.” She shrugged. I had to agree with her, on the outset it looked like she had this charming life, everything on silver, or…platinum platter, rather. It couldn’t have been further from the truth, she worked her ass off, at times literally, to get the business where it needed to be. Six months before I would have mocked her for such a statement, but now I understood it more, I understood her more.

“It’s like you, Amelia.” She added.

“It is?” Ames asked, clearly confused as she looked from me, to Sam, to Trey and back to Sookie.

“Yes, I mean you’re a full-time Mom, and most people who don’t have kids almost always look down on full-time mothers, either accidentally or not and that’s fucked because it’s just so hard and you get almost no acknowledgement for it.” She took another sip of her drink and had Ames nodding along with her.

“Here, here.”

Sookie looked to me then.

“Nor do the Dad’s or the brotherly dads that do the same while having to battle the Wicked Witch of the Upper West at work, either.”

“She’s not so bad.” I admitted, and Sam now well on his way to drunk, chimed in.

“No, she’s not so bad at all, she’s Wonderful…Hehe.” He giggled, legitimately giggled at his little pun while patting Sookie’s knee, I didn’t know if she was going to hit him or hug him with the look she gave him, but either way, I was glad that even though she was clearly deep in semi-drunk though, her spirits were still high, and that my friends liked her, it was promising that’s for sure.

SPOV:

By the time Eric’s friends left, I was drunk, and I knew I was drunk because everything anyone said was simply hilarious. I said my goodbyes, reaffirmed my promise to take Ames on a tour of the building and then to lunch that week, and then I wobbled to Eric’s kitchen to pour myself a much-needed pint glass of cold water. I couldn’t stay there drunk; I would say too much, I would think too little. I had to at least attempt to sober myself up.

I looked around Eric’s new, and considerably bigger kitchen, it was all white, and probably the well fitted production of IKEA, everything was functional and cute, and very Swedish looking. I felt he’d feel right at home, in my drunken musings.

“There you are.” Eric said coming into the kitchen, dumping some stray toys into a giant toy bin that sat by the door.

“Here I am. Stealing some water, I drank too much tonight, bad move.”

“Maybe, but you had fun out there, I saw that much. And, my friends really like you, also a major plus.”

“They’re good people. Not that I’m surprised, I mean, but I really enjoyed tonight you’re right, I did have fun.”

“You let loose, and I mean besides threatening to egg that woman’s house, and then Emily being too hyper to want to sleep, I think the night was chilled over all.” He nodded, flipping the switch on the coffee pot.

She had a mini sleep over with Taylor; Amelia lifted her and took her with them when they left though, as they had a date with her Grandmother the next day, apparently. She was a good kid too, and like all kids when she and her best friend got to together, madness ensued. I was roped into one game of Barbie’s and some ‘tea before I was allowed out to play with the adults. I smiled at the memory; I remembered those days, when things where simple and I longed for something more and now I just wanted that simplicity back.

Ten minutes, and a cup of coffee later, it seemed like things were pretty simple from where I was sitting, allowing work, and family, and expectation to fall away and to just enjoy the company of a guy I liked, who made me laugh, on his new, incredible comfortable couch. Life, I thought, could have been worse.

“Big improvement, by the way,” I said nodding at the apartment in general. Everything was clean and new, bright and shiny, there was a lot more space, square footage wise, than the other place, and it seemed more like a grown ups home now rather than a make shift frat house.

“Thanks. I’ve had my eye on this place for a while, ever since I helped the pervious owner paint her door a few years ago.”

“God, did you kill her?” I joked.

He smiled, “Nah didn’t have to. She moved to be with her son in Florida, we’re her sub letters, but the contract is pretty long, so it’s fine.”

He looked at me, and in the soft light of the living room it was hard to tell, but it seemed like he wanted to say something more, but something, somewhere was holding him back.

“Spit it out.” I said after a few awkward moments of silence between us.

“I was just thinking about my mom, I think she’d be proud, that I’m finally getting my shit together, where Em’ is concerned at least. Hopefully giving her a proper home is the first step in that…” he mused, sipping his beer with a shrug. I still couldn’t begin to imagine how hard things had been for him, going from a kid barely into his early twenties, and to suddenly be the only family that little girl had. To be the parent she needed and to be the grownup one. All before he hit twenty-five, it had to suck.

“What was she like, your mom?”

He smiled with a sad sort of far away look on his face.

“She was awesome and really funny too. I think Emily has her sense of humour at times, it shows through. She was petite and had bright blue eyes and dark hair, and lots of freckles… she smiled a lot, she was never really one to sweat the small stuff, that was my Dad’s job.” He laughed shaking his head.

“He was the worry wart, she used to say. I think she would have liked you, she was no-nonsense underneath her motherly exterior, and she appreciated blunt honesty, and a good pair of shoes. I guess I get my style from my dad…”

“How long were they married?” I asked, wanting to know more.

“Thirty years, when they went on that vacation… it’s hard to believe being married as long as I’ve been alive. I mean, they made it look so easy, you know? They made everything look easy.”

“I guess as kids, it’s hard to see the reality… the realness outside of the kid tinted glasses.” I mused and he agreed.

“I just hope they’d be proud, you know? That I’m hopefully doing what they’d do for Emily, give her a good home, the foundation to make her a good person.”

I smiled and tapped my coffee against his beer.

“They are, because you are. You’re doing the best you can, no one could ask more than that.”

“And what about you? You’ve been doing more than your best, as far as I can tell and your family still aren’t satisfied.”

“Yeah, well, my family are crazy, what can I say.” I rolled my eyes. “I wonder sometimes though, what it would have been like for Jason and me if Mom and Dad hadn’t died when they did. I guess I’ll never know, but like you, I guess I can’t help but wonder. I mean, growing up with Gran… she gave us everything, she taught us how to be hard-working, focused, and she loved us, I know that too. Even if her way of showing it sometimes is harsher than others.” I laughed, mainly because it was true, they were crazy but they were family and as someone once said, you can’t pick your family. We talked a little more about his family, and things he remembered that he hoped he could tell Emily about one day, funny stories, unfortunate incidents when he was a nerdy kid of two ‘foreign’ parents growing up on the Easy Coast. We got more comfortable with each other as time past, and apparently I got bolder too, I’d like to have blamed the alcohol but that was wearing of nicely by that point, and any and all come-ons came from little old me.

“I do wonder though, what it would be like if I’d just met you in a bar somewhere, and you’d hit on me…” I giggled at the thought of things being so…normal.

“In my shabby tees and ripped jeans? I can imagine the reaction, and it’s not pretty.” He smirked, rising his brows so they disappeared into his hairline in faux shock.

“I don’t know, a few cocktails in, I could have been ignoring the jeans and focusing on the tall cute guy with the nice eyes.”

“Is that right?”

I shrugged, sipping my coffee.

“I wonder about a lot of things though, that’s just one of them.”

“Such as?”

I decided to just say what was in my head, no filter it was necessary, not now. Not with how we’d been looking at each other all night. All week, really.

“What it would be like with you inside me, what we’d be like in bed. I wonder would there be the usual struggle that we have everyday with the way our personalities clashes or, would it be…explosive in the best possible way.”

I smirked, and he looked a little nervous, “I have my own guesses, but it’s still ponder some.”

“I won’t lie and say I haven’t thought about that myself. But in my head, there’s never any struggle, and I’m awesome…” he smiled shyly.

“Oh?”

“And you worship me, but that’s a small detail…” he shrugged, sarcasm dripping from his every word.

I laughed out loud and he sipped his beer, “Sarcasm, just one of the many services I offer.” He added and I just rolled my eyes.

“About those services, I don’t jip anyone out of a pay cheque, Eric. Even Sophie and all she does is file her damn nails all day. I need you to take that money.”

He shook his head, “We’ve been over this, no.”

“But you agreed.”

“We agreed to do and not do a lot of things under that contract that we didn’t hold up, so I don’t want the money I told you.”

“Well, if not for you then, for Emily? Nest egg? College fund? Who couldn’t use –”

“It’s not the point.”

Male pride, it would be the damn death of me.

“So this is some male pride thing? Really?”

“Maybe it is.”

“Ugh. That’s such bullshit dude, if it were me and I agreed to do this for you, you think I’d have any issue taking my payment? No Sir. Why? Because I’d be dumb not to. Just like turning down this money that has your name on it, is dumb. Just take the damn cheque.”

“Nope.”

I just sighed, “I could just force you to take it, you know. Just buy you things with it or leave it in your account…or…” with that I didn’t have a chance to finish my senseless rant because his lips were on mine, and after a second of surprise, I gave in. sinking back into his new couch softly, I grabbed his face and pulled him closer, deepening the kiss as much as I could, and before I knew it we were making out with vigour. After a few minutes of misguided fondling, I pulled back and he leaned back from his position above me.

“You’re still taking the cheque though…!”

“Seriously you stopped the kissing for more arguing? Woman…”

“Don’t woman me, MAN… Take it.”

“No…”

Take it…”

“No.” He said leaning in again and I turned my head. Suddenly I had leverage.

“I won’t kiss you again, ever, if you refuse it.”

He just raised a brow and rolled his eyes, looking to the side as if to try to come up with a counter offer.

“Well, who says I want to kiss you again anyway?” He huffed, and it just made me smile, his game was weak and he knew it.

“The party in your pants, now just take it so we can move on.”

“Damn it, Sookie…” he said, pulling away from me, seemingly lost in though, all action came to a screeching halt.

The tension between Eric and I had always been there, in one way or another it had raised its ugly head right from the start. Now though it was different, we’d been through some things, we’d made some deals, and we’d gotten to know each other on a level I never expected, and had you asked me months before, I would have told it I didn’t want it, either. But there we were, no longer bound by self-imposed rules, or worries as to what everyone else might think, we were just us, sitting on his couch, drowning in said tension. It was time to do something about it, consequences be damned. I was scared, admittedly the alcohol was helping me feel brave, but I knew without it I would have chickened out. I was such a disaster with men, and with this one it was no different, in my head, but I knew that he was different, at least on the surface of things, and I knew I wanted to see if there really was a spark there, beyond the tension. So, I leaned over and kissed him again as he was mid-sentence about the deal not really working so why should he take the money. I didn’t want to talk about the money issue anymore, not right then. So I kissed him again, gently, and I pulled back, just enough to see the surprise in his eyes, and it felt like my heart was going to beat right out of my chest. But, it seemed to be enough of a green light for him because he just turned fully to face me, slide his hand up my bare arm and pulled me gently towards him again. Kissing me with vigour, and yet handling me with care, I took his encouragement and ran with it, pulling him down so that we were making out on his new couch on top of each other. It was awkward for a second or two, neither of us sure how things were meant to progress since there was so much hanging in the air between us, but, of all the time he and I had begun making out, this time I knew I wanted the destination to be somewhere other than awkward. So, I took charge for a time, just doing what I wanted with him, kissing him how I wanted – hard and fast and deep and with as much fervour and feeling as I could project, and he gave what he got back, and then some. The one thing I knew about Eric, yes he was self-conscious as there was so much to his gangling self, but he knew how to work with what he had, even if it took him a second to realize it. There was little sound filling up his apartment, the soft sounds coming from the iPod in the corner, the faint sound of the traffic outside, but the most prominent was that of us, together, as we pulled apart for breath, soft panting, a little grunting, before we dived back in for more. We both wanted more, that much had been obvious for a while, and I for one was sick of denying myself. As his hands ghosted up my shirt, pushing my bra down, and exploring my breasts, he moaned a little as we kissed, it was almost more of grunt, immediately having a physical effect on my nipples and causing me to whimper back in appreciation. He moved to sit up, taking me with him, and with a small movement, he had my ass in his hands, and he lifted me, as if I was as light as air, and I all but clambered into his lap. Grinding myself on him for good measure, and just to get more of those delicious sounds out of him, I focused in on his neck, lightly, tenderly, but full of confidence now, things were starting to flow better. Eric thought so too, if the bulge in his pants and the reddening of his neck and face were anything to go by, he was concentrating very hard to keep things in check.

“I… we’re… right.” He said, as if to himself, and the next thing I knew I was in the air, as he stood, allowing me to wrap my legs around his waist.

“Bedroom?” I pulled back to ask and he half smiled.

“I actually have one now, it has a lock on the door and everything.”

We bumped into a lamp and a table before we got there, but when we did, it was worth it. Landing on the soft, freshly made bed felt like heaven on its own, but more so when he jerked his brows before he turned and almost ran to the door and flipped the little lock.

“She’s nosy, and silent like a ninja, I don’t want to …you know…”

“Scar her for life?” I added as he came back, yanking off his black t-shirt in the process. His body was something alright.

“Exactly.” He smiled, leaning down to kiss me, as I sat on the edge, I kicked off my shoes, and let him between my legs, as I leaned up and he leaned down, we just kissed, innocently at first, but then neither of us could really wait any longer and I moved things along. I reached for the belt on his pants, noting it was Gucci and feeling a little bit proud of my former garment challenged friend. I yanked it off, and discarded it somewhere to my left, starting on his buttons, as he slid his hands to my sides, lifting my blouse, I let go of his pants momentarily to let him pull the sheer top over my head, leaving me in my tank and jeans – I was so glad I had the forethought to pack regular clothes and free myself of my Wonder Woman get up. Clothes were stripped and pretty soon we were on top of each other again, just making out on his big soft, brand spanking new bed. It may have turned me on more to know how hygienic this sex would be, and that I would be the first woman fucking him up in here. Mad logic, but my logic none the less.

When we’d both reached our limit, when we just couldn’t stand it anymore, and I had to have him and he had to have me, I needed more than his fingers inside of me, I needed it all, and I needed it now. I pulled back.

“You have …what we need…right?”

It took him a second, but then it was light a light bulb went off.

“I actually do, I mean I hadn’t been planning any…Sextra curricular activities to be honest, but they were part of Sam’s ‘house warming’ gift to me.” And with that he reached into his bedside locker and produced a giant box of condoms.

“Someone was optimistic.” I commented with a smile as he ripped one open and we both pretended what he was doing didn’t look awkward.

“Sam is the most optimistic person I know, it’s weird, and not something I want to be talking about with a hard-on, so I’m going to shut up.” He said, with a charmingly embarrassed look. I grabbed his face and started kissing him again, whatever happened next I wasn’t going to allow either of us to feel self-conscious about.

It was slow, and thoughtful, and incredibly intimate. Weird since sex is the closest two people can get physically, but sometimes emotionally the most distance can happen during sex, I had that experience before. But, not now not with Eric. Not as we kissed and fucked, not as we did our best to keep quiet, even though every touch seemed to be electrified and purposeful, not even when I let him lead, I almost never led men lead in bed. I was a boss in the office and in bed, it was my thing, but with him I guess even there regular rules didn’t apply. No rules applied, not that night, as every nerve I had in my body seemed to be on edge feels those lips brushing against me. As his hand comes up to the side of my neck and I lean into him, he doesn’t rush, neither of us do, we have no need to. And for Eric it was as if he was savouring every kiss, every touch, and I had to admit, if he was, then I was too. We’d danced around this, for too long a time.

“Better…” he moaned, and then looked into my eyes to clarify as my confused face must have alerted him.

“It’s better than I imagined, you’re so…” he thrusted. “So…”

“Better?” I finished ignoring our fucked up grammar and wrapping my legs tighter around his waist, and he grunts in agreement. Some guys liked to talk during sex, some girls too from what Pam had told me, but I wasn’t much for conversation, there was goal during sex, and it wasn’t small talk. With Eric, I didn’t feel that pressure, the pressure to reassure him, or call him pet names. I didn’t feel the need because for some reason just seeing his eyes, seeing how connected we already were, wordlessly, comforted me immensely. All thoughts are scattered from my brain as we move position again, the squeak free bed, being a Godsend.

My eyes roll back in my head a little as he sucks my lower lip into his mouth and runs his tongue over it as he enters me, my breath hitching with every thrust, going deep and pulling back, over and over. Gasping as his lips laid on mine, his stubble against my face as he moves from my mouth to my cheek, to my neck where he buries his head to stop his moans for getting louder. I had no such hiding place, so I put my hand over my mouth as our rhythm picked up, over and over, small censored moans escaping me, escaping him, calls to God, and Jesus, all necessary to voice what we were both feeling.

I move to flip us over, wanting that control back, as I straddle him, noting the hooded lust in his usually bright blue eyes, he grabbed my hair roughly pulling me back towards him the space between us still too much, and when his tongue pushes into me I moan unrestricted, and we both froze. We sat, him inside me, mid-fuck, and we both hope against hope we haven’t woken the nosy five-year old in the next room. We proceed with caution, but not much because by that point we’re both on teetering on the edge, chasing that release. Everything got tense, he bit his lip, he grabbed my hair, I clasped onto his back with my hands, as I sat atop him and he sat up to pull me even closer. I felt the build up and I forced us both to slow down – wanting to savour the moment, and when it and I came, I was seeing stars. Glorious stars. And just as I coming down from my high, he tensed, he swore, he buried his face in my neck again, and I heard him moan as he lost all control inside of me. My whole body felt limp, tired and sore, but all in the best possible way. It took a minute or two, both of us breathing erratically, grinning like idiots in the process, laying next to each other not really sure of what to say next. What else could we say, ‘damn, should have done that sooner?’

I didn’t want to ruin the moment, and it seemed neither did he. His flushed red face, neck and chest still delectable, even if we were both sweating messes.

I sighed happily as kissed me on the shoulder, before slipping out of bed wordlessly and as I saw, he tip toed into the bathroom, returning moments later, condom less, and cleaned up, a great big grin on his silly handsome face.

He hoped back into bed next to me, manoeuvring me under his left arm, pulling be close and covering us with his new comforter.

“Mmmm.” He said, seemingly to himself.

“Mmm?” I looked up to him, “feeling good right about now, huh, Eric?”

He smirked.

“So. Very. Good.” He said, punctuating each word with a soft kiss to my mouth.

“Me too, weirdly.”

Oops.

He raised a brow in question.

“Not that I thought it would be …bad or anything…”

He looked offended, but mockingly so.

“Do I need to reaffirm that possible piece of doubt in your mind, Miss Stackhouse?”

Was it wrong that, that turned me on? It was probably wrong, somewhere, but did I care?

Not at all.

I smirked.

“Do I?” He repeated, pulling me closer, almost tickling me. If he started that, I wouldn’t be responsible for what happened to him, or who woke up. I might have been able to control my orgasm noise, but if someone tickled me, all bets were off.

“Maybe you do… I wouldn’t complain…”

With that he went in for one of those kisses, the kind that makes you dizzy even though you’re already laying down. He was good; he was the kind of good that was actually great, because he had no idea how good he actually was.

“Eric?”

“Yes, Boss?” He grinned, planting a kiss to my neck, moving in for the kill and I shivered.

Oh, I needed to not make that a kink, I couldn’t…could I?

“Happy Halloween,” I giggled as his hands went to my ass and gripped.

Happy Halloween indeed.


A/N: Thoughts? Hit the little button and let me know! 😀


Chapter 21: Chapter 21


Hi guys! New chapter in record time huh? Big, big thank you to everyone who commented on the here, and twitter, and of course on my blog too – link is in the profile! So glad so many of you are still with the story! It means a lot so thaaaaaaank you! 😀 Enjoy, you know the drill! 😀

SPOV:

Buzzing. Buzzing. And yet more buzzing. I half opened my eyes to the semi dark room, some light was peeking through the small cracks in the space between the large navy curtains and the window, I knew I wasn’t in my own bed, and I knew where the buzzing was coming from. My purse! But where was my purse? The stupid thing had woken me up fully, and I looked around a little more. Eric was to my left, on his stomach, his arms hidden under his pillows, a soft snore coming from his throat. The clock told me it was just after eight am, and for a minute I panicked, but then remembered this was Jason’s day to take over the office and my workload, and then physically relaxed again. I knew I still had a lot to do; I was scheduled to attend a party hosted by the magazine for Givenchy’s new creative director the next night, which meant smoozing, and lots of it. I knew I had to stop at their studio the next morning to be fitted into my dress, and I needed shoes. I was sure to be well taken care of, for any event where I was sure to be photographed, the designers tended to flock to me instead of the other way around – and thus resulted in a happy me willing to provide lots of glorified press quotes for their brand. It was a nice domino effect in a way, everyone went home happy.

“I can almost feel you tensing up over there.” Came the gruff voice from beside me, I turned and he was lying in the same position, but with a sleepy smile on his face, that and several pillow marks and fluffed up hair – it was adorable.

“Good morning to you too.”

“Why are we tensing?”

I sighed.

“Work.”

“Evil word, it’s your…our day off.” He nodded, turning fully to face me, wrapping his arms around me and bringing me closer.

“It’s always on my mind, which sucks to be honest. Where is my purse?”

“On the couch, I think. But it doesn’t need your attention right now… ” he gripped me tighter, and I desperately didn’t want to move, but I knew I’d be nothing but distracted wondering who was calling and why if I didn’t check it.

I leaned over and gave him a peck on the lips before I got up, pulled on his discarded t-shirt and made a break for the living room, and a pit stop in the bathroom that was desperately needed.

Four missed calls from Pam, one from Jason and two from front desk.

What the actual fuck?

I got back and crawled under the covers with him, phone in hand.

“So?”

“Office, Pam, and the front desk in my building. Not really in that order, but all within ten minutes of each other, I should call Pam back, see what’s up.” I kissed him again, but this time he grabbed the phone from my hand and put it on his nightstand, out of my reach.

I pouted.

But!” I reached but I was too short to get where he was going.

“But… day off. Let them handle it. Remember, they forced this on you, so… enjoy it.”

I was still half pouting, and a little annoyed when I realized he was right, it was my day off, screw them.

“Enjoy them, or enjoy you?”

He smirked.

“You enjoyed me a lot last night, if memory serves.”

I agreed, allowing myself to be enveloped into an Eric cuddle, it was my new happy place, I decided.

“I did, and you enjoyed yourself a lot too, I know that much.”

“I’d never deny that, in fact I’d like to write songs about how much I enjoyed myself last night… if I could write a song that is.” He pondered jovially.

With that my phone started ringing again.

“Ugh.”

He handed it to me, and I saw it was Pam.

“Hello?”

“Thank fuck. Where are you? I’m outside your apartment and you aren’t answering, I thought you were dead.”

“I… um…” I looked to Eric and felt myself blush, “I’m not home.”

“No shit Sherlock, look you need to come into the office, soon, like now soon.”

“Why? It’s Jason’s day –”

“That’s just it, there’s no sign of Jason, and the people from Givenchy are coming at nine, and then the advertising guys are due at ten, and then it’s breaking the next issue of the magazine at two. Sookie, he’s not answering his fucking phone and neither were you, I’m panicking right now, I don’t like panicking it makes me sweat and we both know how I feel about sweat.”

She hated to sweat, it was very weird, but it was one of her ‘things’.

“Okay, calm down, just calm down, go get a coffee –”

“Get a coffee? Are you high! I need you at the office now, please? I can’t do this on my own!”

She could do this on her own, much better than Jason could that’s for sure, she just needed the push.

I checked the clock; it was just gone eight forty-five. Shit.

Eric knew by the look on my face that I was already halfway out the door; he shrugged, kissed my shoulder and got up. I fought the urge to slam the phone on my friend and pull him back into bed, but I knew I couldn’t.

“Where are you anyway?”

“Um… Brooklyn.” I admitted sheepishly, knowing exactly what I was telling her.

“Ughhhh.” She groaned and there was a sound what I assumed was a cab door closing before she yelled directions at the driver, “Sookie, I’m… sure I’ll hear all about this later, but could it be sooner, as in… could you –”

“Keep them charmed for me, I need to haul ass. I need a change of clothes –”

“I can pick something up from Bergdorf’s on my way back for you, it’ll be hanging in your office closet when you get here, or I can meet you, whatever, just …get here.”

I nodded, she was right to panic really, the advertising meetings were our thing, and it took a lot to get the numbers right. The design meeting with Givenchy on the other hand, she was a newbie to that.

I jumped out of bed, and tiptoed to find Eric, not wanting to wake up Emily yet in the process.

“I have to go, like now, I mean I really need to shower so I can do that, but like a split second shower…” I said, as he stood at the coffee machine, I grabbed his hand and led him into the bathroom where I switched on the shower, stripped the t-shirt off and knotted my hair on top of my head before I got under the stream of hot water, all within ten seconds, all the while explaining to Eric what was going down, and how I was going down with it if I didn’t show up, it was really unprofessional of Jason to pull a stunt like this, and on a day like this, but I shouldn’t have been surprised. I wasn’t surprised, I was fucking pissed off. I found the soap and lathered up and rinsed off, hopping back out of the shower again, still talking to a confused looking Eric as he sat on the toilet seat, staring, the cute and bewildering, and half awake look earned him another kiss.

“Do you want me to come with you?”

“Nah it’s still your day off, and really I’m only doing this for Pam and her mental health, she’d be fine handling this on her own if she had known, but since he left her in the lurch she’s freaking out. Fuck Jason.”

He nodded.

We both sped back to his bedroom where I searched for my clothes, as Eric texted for Hoyt to pick me up.

When I was fully dressed, I glanced in the mirror… Eek. Well at least I could do my makeup in the car, which was one small saving grace.

“You look beautiful.” He said, and it made me pause, because without sounding conceited, I heard that a lot, usually with the words ‘Sweetie‘ or ‘Darling‘ before or after it, and it was usually never really meant, not in the authentic sense at least. But his voice, the way he was looking at me, all dishevelled in my old jeans, a simple t-shirt, my hair in a messy bun, sans all makeup and embellishments. I paused because I realized he meant it, and it wasn’t because of my clothes or shoes, it was me.

I smiled, walking into his space, allowing him to wrap his arms around me and pull me closer until we both fell back onto the bed with a giggle.

“You’re not so bad yourself, you know.” I said, kissing his chin sweetly, he just shook his head.

“It’s true. A lot of the photography guys, for like a month, when you started all assumed you modelled and got lost in the wrong department.” That made him laugh.

“It’s true!” I argued.

“Thank you…” he said in a way of accepting the compliment, even if there was a pink shade to his cheeks. We laid there just enjoying the alone time, and just as I was getting too comfortable, the real world smacked me in the face again.

My phone beeped again as we were mid kiss. He groaned and I concurred.

“Okay, I have to run, literally.” I said bouncing back up and we both made our way to his door, things felt a little awkward now that I was leaving, but I guessed it was meant to be that way, at first, after what we just did.

“I’ll see you later?” he asked rather than stated, and I knew we were both probably feeling a little unsure, so I wanted to – at least on my end – put it out there, that yes, I wanted to see him later.

“Yeah, you and Em’ want to…go out for dinner? Or come over and we can do something?”

He smiled. I really loved that smile.

“Sure, sounds good. Good luck with the …madness.” He said nodding to the door. Right the door, leaving, rushing, and things I had to be doing.

“Right…Okay…Bye.” I said, awkwardly, and heading for the door without so much as a second look.

He wasn’t having it, and when I got into the hallway, he grabbed my hand and pulled me back, planting the mother of all kisses on me before letting me go.

“Call when you get a chance okay?” he asked rubbing his hand down my bare arm making me tingle. Oh I’d be calling, one way or another, that’s for sure.

I nodded and smiled, and then channelled my inner model faced with a plate full of fries. I ran like hell.

EPOV:

I watched her sprint down the hall, round the corner and disappear from view; I was struck with two thoughts as I closed the door that morning.

One, I had just had sex with Sookie Stackhouse, and the second, more worrying of the two, I didn’t want there to be anyone else after her, it was a split second though, a throw away notion at best, but it terrified me. What if there were no more women after her, what if what I was feeling – that goodness, the happiness, the excitement, what if it was real and we let it be real?

It felt real whatever it was. But was it really?

And in that the internal battle was born, a battle inside my head that lasted through my shower, through making Emily breakfast, and through two of the books Sam had left behind for me to look at for him. Were we real? Or was this still part of the game, part of the con we were trying to pull on her Grandmother? Or was it all bets off now? Did the sex change things?

I shook my head, trying to stop the mess, but it was impossible. It was a problem that I didn’t know the answer to, and I hated any kind of problem that lacked a solution. It was why I was good at Math; almost every problem conceivable had a logical solution. This it seemed did not.

By the time Emily and I were heading over to Sam’s bar with the books, I was pretty sure my distraction was evident.

“Eric, why is Emily wearing cat ears?”

They’d been part of Taylor’s little costume the night before, I remembered.

“She’s a cat today.” I said absentmindedly as she ran around the empty bar, talking to herself, I sat at the bar with Sam on the other side, shining up some glasses.

“The books look good man, I won’t lie, you’d need a lot of work to expand, and that means a lot of money, but with the right loan repayments, maybe some investors, it could be done, easy. This is a great spot, there are a lot of young families moving here now, there are some hipster stores around the corner, and I mean opening a bistro during the day, opening up the bar a little … it could be doing with some light.” I said and Sam looked confused.

“You’ve been working with women too much, dude.”

I looked up from the books.

“Hey you asked.”

He shrugged, laughing.

“I just wasn’t so sure I’d get such a detailed response.”

“Your accountant sucks at detail though, I mean I know this stuff because I know the business and you, but really, he needs to take better care.” I added, sipping my free coffee, as I looked over the first draft of Sam’s business plan.

“Speaking of, I was wondering if you’d like another job, like a side job.”

I looked at him, “As your…accountant?”

“Yeah, I mean the guy I’m paying at the minute; he doesn’t give a shit –”

“Uncle SAM!” came the voice behind the bar suddenly.

“Emily get out from behind there, you aren’t allowed.”

“I’m a barmaid! See!” she said, making me roll my eyes but Sam seemed fine with her in there, he even let her help mix her own smoothie.

I said I’d look over his books twice a month to begin with, fixing the other guys mistakes more like it, but at the time it was the best I could offer, working for Sookie really was a full time job, in every sense of the title.

“Awesome man, I can’t wait to get the business plan together, start the ball rolling!”

I knew expanding was something he and Holly had always talked about, and they were a really solid couple too having been together for six years. She was his business partner before she was his fiancé, so the business is their baby – for now. I knew Sam wanted kids, I wasn’t so sure how Holly felt about it all though, she liked Emily, but I got the feeling she was freaked out about it. Not that I’d blame the woman, before Emily landed in my care, kids weren’t on the list for me at all, but sometimes life chooses for you and you just have to make the best of it. I looked at my almost six year old sister painstakingly making the perfect smoothie with three cocktail umbrellas and so much ice there was almost no room for fruit, and I smiled, maybe, just maybe I wasn’t screwing her up so bad after all.

I wondered though, how would things affect her – with Sookie and I, either way that hammer swung would affect her in some way. I just hoped against hope that whatever happened between us, we could minimise the damage to the little messer behind the bar, she didn’t deserve any more pain.

“Yo, Eric?”

“Huh?”

“Where were you?”

“Oh, sorry man I was just thinking…”I said snapping myself out of it.

“So did…Wonder woman uh… sleepover?” He asked, and I noted that little ears was very much listening, even if she wasn’t watching.

“Uh, yeah she slept over, we had a sleepover.” I said wide eyed to give him the hint to code talk.

“Oh…” he clued in, giving Emily a job, putting the paper coasters on the tables she nodded enthusiastically before she trotted off saying how good a barmaid she was, to herself. It made me chuckle.

“So?” Sam said, annoying smile on his face.

I shrugged.

“Did you two fuc –”

“Sam,” I warned.

“Excuse me, did you two ‘make love’.” he finger quoted, rolling his eyes like an asshole, telling me that I was working in fashion too long and had lost my man card.

“We did, if you must know, and it was like several kinds of awesome.” I said, as smug as you like, Sam looked jealous and it made me happy. I smiled and he rolled his eyes.

“Where you still on the clock when you did it.”

Ouch.

“Dude…”

“Well? I’m asking because we should know if she’s being genuine, or, you know, getting her money’s worth.”

Was he trying to ruin my post-sex high? I think he was. I glared.

“No, don’t look at me like that, Eric, I’m being concerned here.”

“There is no clock, I mean, I don’t think, the deal has been kind of messed up from the start and for weeks things haven’t been ‘on contract’… I like her, and hey, I thought you liked her too, you were all over her last night!”

He held his hands up in defence, “Hey man, she’s a cool chick okay? I just think the shit you agreed to was shady of her, and you, and you tend to jump into things heart first, and I don’t want to see you get your tiny little geek heartbroken, that’s all.”

“Your concern, it’s so touching.” I sarked.

“Fine, assuming everything is above board, we can talk.”

It was my turn to roll my eyes.

“You know I want details dude, you haven’t gotten laid in YEARS. Like, actual years, did you get even get inside before you…” he glanced back making sure Em’ wasn’t anywhere within in earshot, she wasn’t.

Arrived?”

I shook my head, I wasn’t answering that.

“Well? Oh, wait, did you start doing complicated algebra equations in you head again to stop you from coming?” He laughed, “I loved that story.”

“I hate you.”

“You love me.”

“Shut the fuck up! I’ll have you know it was pretty great actually, things weren’t half as awkward as I thought they would be, I was better at it than I remembered, I didn’t forget anything, she seemed very, very pleased… all in all, good times were had.”

“Are there more good times ahead then?”

I shrugged, that was the question wasn’t it?

“We didn’t really get a chance to talk –”

“She bailed?”

“No… I mean… no, not really. Work an all.”

“Why aren’t you at work then?”

“She told me it was fine to take my day off before she left.”

He pursed his lips, I didn’t’ like that.

“What?”

“No, nothing… I mean it just… sounds to me like she made her excuses to leave –”

“It wasn’t like that.” It really wasn’t because had it been, my panic would have been ten times worse than what it was. No there was hardly any awkwardness, and I didn’t get the ‘oh shit what have I done,’ vibe from her at all. At least I didn’t think so, of course now I was second guessing myself.

“Have you guys talked since?”

It was well after lunch time there now, she’d be in a meeting most likely, I knew how busy that place got – better than most I knew – so I wasn’t sweating it so much. At least I wasn’t until Sam kept on talking me into paranoid-ville.

“Not yet, but we will, later.”

He just raised his brows, finishing off shining his last glass.

“I need to go get her fed, want to go get a bite?”

“I would man, but I’m opening at five and a delivery came through, another time though?”

“Sure,” I said, sliding off the bar stool, “Em, let’s go, food time.”

A faint ‘yay’ came from around the corner, she came running with just two coasters in hand.

“All done!” she said to Sam and he thanked her, and gave her five dollars as a ‘tip’, she was thrilled. I just shook my head.

“Okay, we’re out. Let me know about the plans okay?”

“Sure thing man thanks again.”

With that we took off in search of some decent food, and by the time we got to Thistle Hill, and got seated, my phone was ringing.

Sookie.

I took a second to breathe a stupid sigh of relief, but then I remembered that good or bad, she was still my boss, and that was maybe why she was calling.

“Hello?”

“Hey…” she said, she sounded tired, and very un-boss like. I smiled.

“Long day?”

“Ugh, the longest, especially when it shouldn’t have been happening in the first place. What’s up?”

“Nothing, just having some food with Emily, forgetting to feed the five year old has horrible results.”

She laughed on the other end.

“Tell her I say hi.”

“Sookie says hi, Em’.”

Emily looked up from her burger, face covered in ketchup, “HI SOOKIE.”

I rolled my eyes.

“I heard.” Sookie said and I could almost see the smile with the words, her genuine smile was my favourite.

“Listen, the

Givenchy party tomorrow night, I’m scheduled to –”

“Go over to the PR offices at eleven, I know.”

“Right, of course you’d know that…”

“Of course.”

“You need to get fitted too, for your suit. It’s semi formal but because it’s me throwing the damn thing I’ll be needing all my people in tip top shape, okay?”

“So I guess having this burger was a bad idea?” I laughed.

“They make spanx for men now, if all else fails and you gain twenty pounds in the next twenty four hours, we’ll have a back up plan.” She giggled and I heard her typing up a storm on the other end, she was always a multi-tasker, I shouldn’t have been surprised.

I laughed, yeah there was no chance of that happening, I had to work hard to build myself up, and even harder to stay there.

There was some clicking and some shuffling on the other end of the line, then she sighed.

“Gimme a second… a second Pam. Jesus.” She sighed again, coming back on the line. “She’s been fluttering about all day, dying for gossip. I really wanted to meet up later –”

My stomach dipped.

“But you can’t?”

“No, I can’t. There is so much stuff happening right now, I really don’t know how we’re going to get it all done on time, my office … is so cramped right now with samples and layouts, and the advertising guys tried to take us for fools for the next quarter, I swear I almost had a stroke…” she did sound really tired. “I think the best thing is just, can tonight, sleep and I’ll see you first thing?”

It did make most sense, even if I was beyond looking forward to seeing her again, outside of Boss mode.

“Uh, sure, yeah I mean it makes sense, you’ve had a long day, the last thing you need is me all up in your –”

“It’s not like that, you know, I’m just… not the best company when I’m zonked.”

Logically I got it, I was just being needy. I hated needy, it had to be reined in.

“Okay, no it’s cool.”

“Good, I’m glad you get it, it’s not that I don’t want to see you guys though, I was actually looking forward to it, but, as always –”

“Work comes first.”

She groaned, “Yeah it does, and you know what I really am sick of it making me its bitch.”

That sounded… ominous.

“As someone firmly in the bitch camp of that job,” I laughed, “I fully understand.”

“I’m glad, so… ”

“See you tomorrow morning, bright and early.”

She chortled, “So bright, so early. Bye Eric.”

“Bye…” I sounded off before I hit the button.

“Well kiddo, looks like it’s just you and me for movie night tonight.”

“Sookie can’t come?”

“No, she can’t, she has to work.”

“Oh…” she said, frowning before she sipped her juice. “That’s okay, you have me and I have you, just like always.”

Profound for a five … almost six year old, I realized. For that she’d get to pick tonight, not that she didn’t’ always, but tonight I wouldn’t moan if it was Disney.

SPOV:

I ran down the hall, into the elevator, all the while checking my hair, by the time I got outside Hoyt was standing with my door open.

“Morning Miss Stackhouse.”

“Morning Hoyt –” I said hauling ass into the car and closing the door, I was pleased to find a grande coffee sitting in the cup holder, awesome driver was awesome.

“Okay I’m going to need you to use whatever driver tricks you have to get us to the office in less than twenty minutes –”

“In this traffic!”

“I know, step on it, and if we run someone over, we’ll just pray for them!” I was texting Pam like a madwoman, she was keeping me abreast of the clients arrival, and how Sophie had fucked up the coffee order, and how she thought she was going to have a heart attack if she flirted with the guy named Geo one more time, I told her to dismiss Sophie from the boardroom, that we could do it ourselves, once I got there. Almost a half hour later, we pulled up outside the building and I was met in the lobby by a very flustered looking Pam, who held a garment bag and a pair of black Loubies.

“Oh my GOD.”

“I know, I know.”

“You need to kick your brothers ass for this, Sook. I’m serious, this isn’t right, what we’ve had to do because his unprofessional ass decided to reschedule meetings with the advertisers and then not fucking show up.”

“I know, I know,” I said stripping off my jacket and approaching security.

“Hey, Andy?”

“Miss Stackhouse, Miss …Pam.”

Pam just rolled her eyes.

“Listen Andy, I’m going to need a favour, I’m going to need you to dismantle the camera in lift one for about five minutes.”

“Uh, why?”

“Emergency, I need to change my clothes before we hit the floor, and I need your help to be not caught on CCTV doing so. Okay?”

“Oh, I’m not sure I can….”

I slipped him a hundred dollar bill, ever so discreetly.

“I’m really in a bind, Andy; you’d be doing me a huge favour.”

He smiled.

“Sure thing Miss Stackhouse, five minutes.”

I nodded and ran, with Pam on my tail into the elevator and began stripping off as the doors closed.

“You think he’s watching?” Pam asked looking for the cameras.

“He better fucking not be or his ass WILL be fired.” I hope he heard that if he was listening too. I yanked off my t-shirt, slipped out of my jeans, and into the cap sleeve red Mouret dress, and slipped on the black heels. I looked in the mirrors on both sides, fixed my hair up into an ‘intentionally’ messy bun, and applied the lipstick and eyeliner I had in my purse, Pam had mascara, and I had some highlighter. Boom, two trips up and down twenty floors later, and I was ready to face the day. I was also sweating, and possibly having a heart attack, but I looked good doing it, and to my worker bees, that’s what mattered most.

“I’m not going to comment on the fact that you stink like sex –”

I didn’t I knew that, If I stinked of anything it was Dove soap and rapid sprays of deodorant.

“Nor the fact that you clearly got some last night –”

“How do you … why would you think that?”

“Well, for one, we’re at crisis central right now, and you? Are SMILING. And you don’t even know it. Smiling, Sookie.”

“Oh shush,” I said as we passed Sophie, who looked less vapid and more curious than usual.

“They were offered drinks, right?”

“Drinks, food, hookers if we had to, to keep them there.” She handed me the brief, fixed a stray hair, nodded and we were in business.

Six hours later, I finally got a break, enough time to inhale a sandwich, and call Eric.

The day hadn’t exactly turned out how I had expected, that’s for sure. I had plans of leisure, and maybe some more Northman Nookie, none of which happened, and it didn’t seem like my night was going to go to plan either, after I straightened things out with Eric, it was literally one things after another, the cover story was a bust, the new line fabrics were missing from the warehouse in Italy, Jason was still MIA, and I had Pam on my case all day long wanting details on ‘assistant sex’. I wasn’t even sure what to tell her, other than the only truth I knew and that was that I really, really liked him for real, and all deals and contracts aside, that I could see myself maybe going there. She thought I was crazy, of course, but then again there were a lot of things I wasn’t telling Pam too, which I suppose was unfair of me. I wasn’t telling her, for example how since I had to go out of my way, to make the damn deal in the first place that it had made me step back and really take a look at my life. My job was my life, and for the longest time I figured I was happy with that, that is what I wanted, I knew what I was doing and I did it well. But then Gran issued her little ‘request’, and that changed everything, not just between Eric and I, but in myself first and foremost. The more I fought to keep my position at the company, the more, secretly, I thought that maybe the fight wasn’t worth it.

Why should I fight tooth and nail for something I had earned outright, why wasn’t that good enough, why wasn’t that on its own good enough? And, mores to the point, did I think it was good enough for me now?

The scary thing was, I thought I didn’t know the answer, but truthfully, if I were being honest with myself, I knew the answer and the answer was, no, it wasn’t good enough for me, not anymore.

Changes, they had to happen, and they had to happen soon.

And they would, I vowed to myself as I looked out over the busy Manhattan rain soaked streets, changes were coming.


Chapter 22: Chapter 22


Hi lovely people! Here we have another chapter for consumption! Just a little note about the future of this story, and any others as far as is concerned.

There has been a lot of … for the lack of a better term, Fu*kery, going on with the site for the last while, and it’s taken its toll on a lot of writers, and generally just screwing people – and their writing around too much. So, that said I’ve been slowly bringing all my stories over to the blog when I find time, and I’m hoping that soon I will be posting exclusively there, and not on FF at all. A lot of authors bring in a lot of traffic for that site, and they get very little in return, so in the hopes of bringing all the readers that love my stories enough to follow me please do so to the blog for the goodies! Link is in my profile 😉

SPOV:

Eighteen answered emails, six long conference calls, a late breakfast, three cups of coffee later, and I was on the phone with Gran, shit just got real and it was about to get even more authentic, I had just about had it with Jason’s bullshit.

“Gran, no I’m not even sorry, he bailed on a lot of really important shit –”

I sighed.

“Gran I’m almost thirty, I can say shit if I want to. The point is, he bailed, leaving me and Pam and everyone else I might add in a tizzy. This needs to end and it needs to end now.”

I had had it, my nice streak where they were concerned was over, and I was tired carrying the workload alone and getting shit on for it.

Eric hadn’t been in that morning. Emily had taken ill, they blamed some restaurant they had eaten at the day before, and she’d been up half the night with a fever, but he’d been fielding some calls and emails from his phone which helped a lot since I was on a deadline for the party that night. I was starting to panic too, I really needed him for the party, there were just too many things that needed done before, during and after, and I needed my assistant there. Never mind my ‘whatever else’ he was, I wanted him there in that capacity too, but now I wondered if he could make it at all. A sick kid, from what I heard was no easy thing to deal with and I hated the thought of little Emily ill at all, she was such a sweet kid, the idea of anything bad happened to her didn’t sit well with me at all, yet another shocking self discovery. I closed my eyes for a second, attempting to keep my calm in place.

By the end of my conversation with Gran she was at least a little angry with Jason, which shocked me since I was convinced according to her he had rainbows coming out of his ass. Apparently his reason for being absent was his wife ‘needed’ him and they were in the ‘middle of discussions’, I didn’t ask what about, nor did I care very much, because I had other things – many other things to deal with in the mean time.

Pam came in at lunch with a list of things she’d managed to accomplish in record time. I loved her, she was awesome, and thus Sophie was sent for celebratory coffees and snacks. She left with a pout and a swish of her hips and again I questioned why she still worked here.

“I can’t believe I get to wear Couture tonight, I mean, really I’m still not used to the perks of this job and it’s been five years.” Pam said as we settled into our much needed break. The privacy blinds were shut, my iPod firmly docked and on easy listening, my feet planted leisurely on my desk.

“Excuse you; there is Stackhouse Couture pieces in this very building.” I laughed, I mean we did a small division of it, but it was truthfully just for nostalgia sake that we kept that aspect of the company alive. It didn’t sell well, and when it did, it was to repeat and very loyal customers from Adele’s time in the chair. We made most of the money on the magazine and cosmetic line truth be told. The reputation of the fashion line held true, and while we put out our couture designs every couple of years, I had wished to focus more on that aspect of the business when I finally took over, but as it stood I was still very much Captain of someone else’s ship, hell, I wasn’t even really Captain, at least not in name. In duty, sure, but not officially, and it seemed like that official passing of the reins, would never actually come.

It still stung.

“I’m kidding, this is completely another league, and I know that.” I said tucking into my sandwich, wondering if I ate the full thing would I be busting out of said painstakingly hand made, hand stitched, and amazing couture tonight. I decided not to tempt fate; I ate half my sandwich and left the rest on the side.

“So where’s Puppy?” Pam asked as if just realizing Eric wasn’t there.

“I think he’s at home.”

“Humph. Bang the boss, get special days off, had I known that I would have tried it on with you years a-”

“Very funny, bitch.”

She grinned.

“His sister is sick, he said he’s trying to organize some stuff, but I guess if he’s not at the fitting at one, then he won’t be there tonight either.”

“And you’re just, okay with that?”

“No, it sucks, but she’s sick.”

“Uh-huh, and what like a week or more ago if someone else pulled this shit, they’d be fired.”

I opened my mouth to speak but she stopped me.

“And don’t even try to deny it, Sook. You’ve…honestly gone soft.”

“I have not!”

“You have, everyone is talking about it, how fucking NICE you’ve been today, it’s freaking everyone out, and I mean everyone, even Dallas from accounting commented on it.”

I just glared; it really wasn’t that big of a deal. So I’d smiled at a few people, bid them good morning was that so strange?

Okay so it was strange and even stranger for me. Usually I was so focused on the job, the people; they all started to look the same after a while.

“I mean if all it took was getting some from the Puppy, well –”

“Can we please drop it?”

“Sorry, you know I tease out of love, Sook. Even if I don’t fully understand the attraction to the lanky blond with the puppy dog eyes of fear.” She giggled before shaking her head. “No, but seriously, whatever it is, it’s good for you.”

“I don’t even know what it is yet.”

“Are you still on contract with him then? Or is that null and void now?”

It was my turn to shrug; I really didn’t know where things stood there either if I was being honest. We had signed a deal, there was a contract to honour, and there was a lot of money for him, just sitting waiting for him to take. I understood why he didn’t want to now; it was a pride thing, and it was a little strange if he accepted it when we were doing what we weren’t meant to be doing ‘contract wise’ at least. I still wished he’d take it though, I’d never broken a contract in my life, and it made me anxious.

“Okay Lady, we have to haul ass, get Sophie to take over the phones.” I said dumping the rest of my lunch in the bin, and slipping my phone from the charger. It was time for my last fitting, and the end of my day at work before the start of my night at work.

I sighed.

Wasn’t it just so glamorous?

EPOV:

I made my way from the apartment into the city, and to where I was meant to be all on time, I was shocked. I had left a considerably perkier looking little sister in the good hands of her ‘favourite person beginning with A’ – her words, while Taylor was still in school. Her fever was broken, and thankfully we’d napped most of the day, leaving her brighter and more herself when I made us noodle soup and toast. I hated to leave her, but I’d slacked on my work that day and I knew how important this party was to Sookie, and the business, and I never half assed a job if I could help it, and certainly not this one, where I had worked my ass off to fit in, and now that I did I wasn’t about to screw it up by being tardy.

I checked in uptown in the very fancy building that held the Givenchy people, and their clothes. I had learned quickly on this job that the more the clothes cost in the store, the fancier the buildings where they kept them where. Or at least where the section of clothes designed to be worn for PR purposes was kept. I had been afraid to touch anything in the Chanel place, and that was just for a pick up. Here it was different, here I was assigned my own intern who was to ‘dress me’ – making me feel like a Ken doll, and a child all at once. I told her I was used to dressing myself and I was met with a sigh and a ‘not in custom Givenchy you aren’t.’ Needless to say, I kept my mouth shut at let the pretty, yet extremely pressed intern do her thing, as I thanked God I had put on brand new underwear for the occasion. I was standing on a raised platform, two girls with nimble fingers fixing up my very dapper three piece charcoal suit, when I looked in the mirrors in front of me to see a smiling Sookie, and a curious Pam standing behind me. Pam just looked to Sookie, raised her perfectly shaped blonde brow, and said something I didn’t know the context of.

“I get now, I totally, totally get it, and he’s not even my type.” She said with a smirk nodding her head as she left Sookie’s side, and followed the lady from the front desk to another section of the building.

“You’re here.” Sookie said, her usual confident business voice now replaced by her regular, and much less terrifying real voice.

“I am. I knew how important this was for the business tonight and that you have a lot on your plate, so of course I had to be here to lend a hand in anyway I could.”

She smiled again, the genuine surprise in seeing me had worn off now, but there was still a slight flush to her cheeks as she came closer.

She noticed Mindy, the intern who was no longer fixing my measurements, more listening intently and gazing at Sookie as if she were some kind of giant cookie. By the looks of Mindy, she didn’t indulge in many cookies, that’s for sure.

“Would you fetch Gratian please?” Sookie asked her, icy as you’d like. I assumed she was here to see said Gratian, that and Sookie wanted her out of the way.

“Look good on you.” She approved and it made my heart happy.

“I’m so glad I wore new underwear for this, she made me … get all kinds of half naked, why I couldn’t have just dressed myself is beyond me.”

She laughed.

“Welcome to my world. Wait till you see what they have in store for me, honestly.”

I looked at her, as suggestively as I could, stepping down from the platform and coming that much closer to her. She smelled so damn good, I just leaned in and kissed her without so much as a second thought. It was bold move, we hadn’t discussed the boundaries this time, and after the last sexual encounter she and I had, there probably should have been some kind of discussion. But, the blow job was one thing, we were in a much weirder place then, since then, things had mellowed between us a touch, and then when we finally had sex, it felt so right – at least from my perspective, and there was no morning after weirdness, so all signs pointed to positive right?

I pulled back apprehensively all the same, wondering if this is what she wanted.

Her eyes were still closed, and it was so fuck hot, in that moment, just knowing my kiss had that kind of effect on her.

“How’s Em?” She asked a slight blush in her cheek as we both heard the clacking of heels behind us; she nervously tucked her hair behind her ears.

“She’s better, cartoons and noodle soup, all cosy on the cough.”

“I’m glad. Nothing worse than being sick, especially as kid.”

“She’s with Ames, she’s good. She said she’d call if anything changed but she was looking a lot perkier when I left compared to the night before, we’re never eating at that place again, that’s for sure.” I explained and she nodded, if I didn’t know any better I would have assumed she was nervous, and maybe she was. If she was, I was glad, I wasn’t the only one if that was the case.

“About tonight, you’ve memorized the list, right?” She’d given me the list of guests a couple of weeks before, when she’d requested my measurements for the tux I’d have to wear, the one currently fitting like a glove on my body.

“I have, and I have to say, a lot of people involved here? They sure do like to cheat on their wives.”

She laughed, before shushing me.

“We aren’t supposed to comment…publicly.”

I rolled my eyes as the clicking heels came closer. Lots of air kisses were exchanged as I exchanged looks with another intern that looked about as impressed with it as I did and it made me smile that there was at least one other person here that realized how ridiculous it all was. When Sookie and the head honcho lady ascended the stairs to go ‘get the ball rolling’, the intern spoke.

“I hate that shit.”

I just looked at her, shedding my jacket for her to steam.

“The fake greetings? Yeah, it’s weird, I mean, you get used to it I guess, but it is pretty weird.”

“It is. I’ve worked here for three weeks, and there’s lots of things that I’m getting used to.”

“Newbie huh?”

“Very new, my dad got me the job, he’s a buyer for one of the sister companies.”

“Nice, a little nepotism can go a long way in making things more comfortable though?”

I’d learned it could also go to extreme lengths in making your life miserable as sin, if Sookie and her family were any indication.

“Do you not like it?” I said going behind the curtained changing room for modesty, hers or mine I wasn’t sure. I came out in my jeans and t-shirt, feeling a lot more myself.

“I guess its okay, the girls are really….”

Hungry?”

With that she laughed, and blushed nodding.

I found out her name was Milly and she was from New York, she really didn’t like fashion and wanted to work as a lawyer, where as her fashion family were very much of the opinion that working for a fashion house was a better career for her. I felt bad for the girl, hating what she did but having to be there with a smile on her face dealing with snooty rich people and crazy celebrities daily. We talked for a while, I had to wait on Sookie after all, and we were in conversation about how screwed up the judicial system was, when Sookie came down the stairs, Pam in tow. She didn’t look too happy, and I knew it had nothing to do with the dresses.

Well, fuck.

SPOV:

The car pulled up in front of the office building, at this time of night the street was nowhere near as busy, and we were mostly alone.

He helped me out of the car, I still had his jacket wrapped firmly around my shoulders, the gold metallic dress, while stunning provided very little warmth or comfort. There was reason Couture was known as walking art instead of wearable or affordable, it was meant to be looked at and admired, that’s about it.

The party had, shockingly gone without a hitch; everyone that was meant to show up wearing the designs did, and posed their little hearts out. We got some amazing shots, and even better coverage for the current issue, everyone smoozed, laughed, faked it, and went home happy. When I walked back into the show room at the fitting to see that girl flirting with Eric, I admit it threw me. It wasn’t that I didn’t see what she saw, it wasn’t that I assumed he was mine now – far from it. But, there was a serious pang of jealousy there, and it hung in the air the entire night, pissing us both off in the process because it wasn’t that I wouldn’t talk about how I was feeling, it was that that I couldn’t. Not with Pam, and Sophie, some of the board members, not to mention the hoards of journalists and photographers trolling the party, just itching for some sort of personal life scandal. No, and so it festered all through the party, Eric none too pleased with me, and I had to admit I was none to pleased with me either. What he was doing was harmless, so why did I have to read so much into it. I wanted to discuss it while we waited for the car, but the words couldn’t come out, not when he offered me his jacket like a gentleman, not when he opened the car door for me, and not in the ten minute drive it took us to get back to the office.

We walked in the empty building, no one around except Terry; he smiled when he saw us coming.

“Miss Stackhouse, Eric…” he nodded and Eric nodded back, asking how Arlene and the kids were, I was here when Terry started and I still wasn’t sure of his last name, and here Eric was here a handful of months and knew of his family.

I sucked.

“We’re just here to drop off this dress and then we’ll be out of your hair.” I said as we made or way to the elevators, the tension between Eric and I dissipated for the time being, other people being around seemed to have had that effect.

“No problem, Miss Stackhouse, you take your time, no one around anyway.”

I nodded as the doors closed, my hands hanging by my sides, mere inches from his, he brushed up against me once, and my fingers tingled at the feeling. I closed my eyes, trying to compose myself, compose myself and not jump him in view of the security cameras. There was so much unsaid that needed to be spoken, but it seemed that neither of us was willing to go there, at least not right then.

We walked out side by side, wordlessly, walked through the eerily empty floor, to my office; he shuffled a little as we stepped inside, his hands in his pocket as I walked to the closet where I’d stored my change of clothes.

“Could you?” I asked, at first entirely innocently, I did need help to get out of this dress after all, but the second I said it, was the second I realized what it really said. I was asking him to undress me, and when he crossed the room slowly, with a quiet purpose, I knew when he did; I wouldn’t need the change of clothes for a little while at least. He took the hidden zips and snaps, buttons and string and popped and pulled them all until I felt the stunning piece of art on my body loosen. I shrugged it off, stepping out of it as gently as I could, leaving me standing with my back to him in just my shape wear, and my very high, very uncomfortable heels. I turned to face him, not really sure where the sudden flash of modesty came from, but, it didn’t last long as he just threaded his hand into my hair, down my neck and pulled me to him for a kiss. A kiss I’d been waiting for all night. He let a moan escape when I trailed my hand from his face to his chest, to his belt.

I pulled back and just arched a brow in question, words really weren’t necessary, it was clear as day where this was going. The office doors were open, there wasn’t a soul in the place though, but there was still that element of the unexpected that also hung in the air as he gripped my ass and pulled me flush against him, our lips never leaving each other. We backed up subconsciously, my ass hitting the side of my desk.

Really? We were going there tonight?

I guess I wasn’t the only one that the whole Boss / Assistant thing turned on, and I definitely didn’t need to ‘guess’ it as he pushed me up against the wood – on both sides of that desk. There was no sound but us breathing, and the buzz of the electric lights above us, no people, no phones, nothing at all. Just Eric and I ripping each other’s clothes off at my desk of all places.

I smirked and he caught it.

“What?” He said, pulling back slightly just as I had his pants unbuttoned. His shirt was half way off, his jacket long forgotten on the chair, his hands busy – one in hair, another on my thigh.

“Nothing it’s just… this is a kink for you, isn’t it?” I smiled leaning in for a kiss, and when he didn’t answer, I carried on because the look in his eye told me all I needed to know. “Having your Boss, over her desk, like this…” I slid my ass onto the desk finally, allowing him access between my legs as I hooked them behind his own.

“Maybe…”

“Just maybe?” I pouted, slipping down his pants with my toes, they pooled at his feet as his belt hit the floor with a clanking sound.

“More than maybe.” He said pushing me back fully, I heard paper falling, the phone fell too as well as the photo frames that sat, all neatly before, now scattered as I was laid down gently against the cold glass desk. He gripped my thighs, parting them slowly he hooked his fingers into my underwear and slid them off. Hovering over me now, I yanked the shirt of his shoulders the rest of the way, pushing his thin t-shirt up and off him too, before his lips hit mine again for another toe curling kiss. He wasn’t done though, not by a long shot, his lips slid from my mouth to my breasts where he lavished his attentions for a time, I gripped the side of my desk as he sucked my nipples into his warm mouth, imagining if it felt so good there, where else I might appreciate it. As if reading my mind, I felt him kiss my tummy, my thighs, and then finally where I needed him most, inside me. Eric either was the perfect student in all areas of life, or he’d just picked up some tricks during his time of sex-capades in University, because he had eating a woman out, down to a perfect algorithm. It was if there was a guide in his head that he was following step my step in order to make me lose my mind. Whatever it was, it was working, because in minutes, I was a quivering mess, moaning louder than I’d ever allowed myself the freedom to before, and just generally chasing the wave of my orgasm. When it hit, he had to hold my body down it hit so hard.

“Fuck…Fuck…” I said letting it wash over me for a second, and a second was all I had because he slid me forward by my legs, pulling me upright, stepping in between my legs again, freeing himself from his boxer his briefs. There was no condom, and while it gave me a second of anxiety, I knew he wasn’t fucking around with other people, and I knew I wasn’t either, so I with good faith I figured we’d be fine with the birth control on my end, and went for it. He was big on eye contact during sex, which frankly freaked me out a little at first, but then, as I grew used to it, it seemed to make things that much more intense. Eric wasn’t a small man, in any sense of the word, and while things started off a little awkward as we tried to get comfortable, tried not to smash the sixteen thousand dollar desk, and tried to match each other’s rhythm, we both broke down with a case of the giggles as we did so. It wasn’t working, as much as the fantasy was there for both of us, it seemed, it wasn’t to be, at least not in the position we were in with me underneath him, facing him. Solution was found though, when he stopped, pulled out of me, flipped me over with an ease that made me tingle, and filled me from behind.

Bingo.

I could see Eric’s face in the mirror in front of me, he whimpered, honest to God whimpered, with his lower lip between his teeth, his breathing was as erratic as mine as we both struggled to keep it together. He held me with ease, fucked me with vigour, and I cursed myself for waiting so long to do this with him, but realized we were doing it now, and that’s what I should focus on. Both of us cursing under our breath, trying to breathe. Trying to feel as much as we could in those moments of slow, deep, amazing physical and emotional connection before I lost it, that familiar, wonderful, elevated feeling washing over me again. Before we both sped things up for Eric’s big finish – so to speak.

By the time we slid to the floor, a crumpled tired mess, we both had big stupid smiles on our faces.

“We were just talking.” He said, and we were right back to where I last left my bitch-face.

“I know, I don’t know why it bothered me…But I know.” He looked at me then, taking me in, before he nodded and seemed to move on.

“God I’m so glad your office doesn’t have a security camera.” He whispered, pulling me into a naked cuddle on my office floor. I happily complied.

“Know what else I’m glad my office does have though?”

“Hmm?” He kissed my temple before I sat upright, confusing him it seemed.

“A shower, no condom equals a messy time, we should –”

He grinned.

“What?” I asked.

“I always wondered if you ever actually used the shower, I mean I know the private bathroom is awesome – and I’m never allowed to use it – but I questioned if one day I’d walk in on you just shower fresh, towel on your head.”

I just rolled my eyes, willing myself to get up and get said shower fresh.

“Oh yeah? Well if you get your naked ass off my floor, you won’t have to wonder anymore.” I winked back at him as I walked towards the private bathroom that sat adjacent to my large office, I knew he was watching me walk away because I heard him smirk as I reached the door, I hadn’t stepped far in when I heard the pad of his feet come behind me.

“Need any assistance?” He said for good measure grabbing my ass.

“That is your job, I guess…” I said, letting him turn it on, I leaned against the sink, and I laughed realizing we were both butt naked just strolling around my office like it was no big deal. I never would have done this with anyone else, in truth there were a lot of things I’d never usually do that I’d done with Eric so far, and we’d only just begun really. That should have scared me, but weirdly, even that didn’t phase me now. Maybe it was all part of growing up, turning thirty, re-evaluating my life, my work, what I really wanted out of this time on earth.

Maybe, just maybe.

I knew I’d over think everything to death at some point, but for a change I decided to just be there, in the moment with him. To trust him, to enjoy him, to let him enjoy me, and for once, maybe just enjoy myself for a little while at the very least.

Wonders would never cease!


A/N: Thank you all so much for the reviews on the last chapter, lot of fun comments there to read and reply to, if you had a question I hope I got to it! PS The link to Sookie’s dress is on the blog version of this chapter! 😀


Chapter 23: Chapter 23


EPOV:

“Hello, SCC, Sookie Stack-”

I was always interrupted before I ever finished that sentence it seemed. This one was the press, again, looking for a statement from Sookie as to the rumours about trouble in the company. They’d been calling on and off for weeks, Sookie was convinced there was leak, but it didn’t take a genius to work out who would be tattling to the press – Claudine had nothing to lose and everything to gain and everyone was sure it was her, but no proof meant no confrontation, so it was left with a simple ‘no comment’.

“Hey, Eric?”

“Yeah Sophie?”

“How was the party the other night, word was you stuck to Sookie like glue, not that that’s unusual for you.” She smirked, as I filled my coffee mug in the staff kitchen on my break.

“It’s my job, Sophie, assisting; you know that thing you pretend to do?”

Lafayette smirked over on the other side of the room, dipping his Kitkat into his tea.

“It just seems to me, you and Sookie have gotten a lot closer than she’s ever got with any of the women she hired before, wouldn’t know the reason for that would you?”

I stopped in my tracks, having had enough practice in avoiding Sophie, avoiding her pokes for gossip, and I spoke.

“Maybe since I’m not a woman she doesn’t have to worry about our PMS hitting in at the same time, or maybe since I’m not a total gossipmonger like some people around here, maybe that has something to do with it… OR!” I smiled, “maybe it’s because I do my job, you ever think of that?”

“Rumour has it, that’s not all you’ve been doing lately. A lot of people are saying you’re the reason there’s a smile on her otherwise frozen face…” She said as she took her mint tea, stuck her nose in the air and walked out of the kitchen.

“Fucking hell she’s a –”

“I know, I know.” Lafayette agreed shaking his head. “I have to tell you though, Eric. People are talking my friend, just so you’re aware, this office has a lot of eyes and a LOT of open ears. Be … careful.”

I got back to Sookie’s office to find her pacing, in the middle of a call to Paris about some design something or other; she smiled when I walked in. Okay, so maybe there were things to be suspicious about and maybe we weren’t being as stealthy as we thought we were, either. Since the party, we’d spent a good two weeks just spending all our time together, inside and outside of work. Sure, it was a dangerous thing considering how things started between us, but since the party, there had been no more talk of contracts, or cheques, the setup for her Grandmother, nothing. We just existed together, had dinner, went to the movies, took Emily out to the park and shopping. And sex. There was a lot of that going on too, something I would never complain about, particularly with Sookie as the partner in said sexing. Having been alone for so long, and being quite accepting of being alone. I’d gotten used to certain things, as much as they sucked, but I accepted them because I had a kid sister to raise with no other family around, and most women my age weren’t doing cartwheels about hooking up with a guy who had a kid. No matter how many of them liked to flirt at the park, it rarely turned into anything because I’m a over-analyzing, speed talking, cautious nerd. I didn’t feel one of those things though when I was with her, in my new big, warm and full bed with her next to me. We weren’t making big plans, no more than day to day, or evening to evening.I liked it, and I could tell that though she was struggling without a planned out month ahead of her. Sookie was getting used to letting the small stuff go and focus on something else. There were a few nights when we just hung out, all three of us, me finishing up work emails, her doing the same and then opening her sketch pad to doodle while I saw to Emily. I couldn’t say what went on in those books, but I’d caught a glimpse or two and her ‘doodling’ was what other people called art, in some form at least. If she was using it as a pastime or a possible career move, I had no idea. All I knew, to this untrained eye was it looked good, and it levelled her out of the mad world we inhabited during the day, and that was enough for now.

I closed the office door behind me, and handed her the files she’d asked for, she smiled again. I turned to leave, but she signalled that she’d be just a minute, so I waited.

“Ugh that was hell. I really hate this job sometimes. Babying people that have no business needing babied.” She rolled her eyes, but then walked to me, and kissed me.

It was little things like that, the unexpected, that I was getting so used to.

“Hi.” She said, “why the face?”

“I was born with it, not really much I can do there.”

“The grumpus, I mean.”

“Oh, that, well, it’s nothing. The files you asked for are in there, as well as last quarter’s overall rating and earnings, I wasn’t sure if you’d need it, but I figured –”

“Thank you.”

Another unexpected thing, her attitude towards me? Completely the opposite to what it was a few months prior. I knew of course it had been changing slowly as we got to know each other, but this Sookie was like a different person to the woman I first met in that office. Of course, since, we had had sex in that office, and now I couldn’t take a meeting in there with a straight face, and she knew it too, when she’d casually sit on her desk where I’d had her, she knew what it did to me. We had fun though, keeping things professional, or trying to at least. The privacy setting was forever on her office surround these days though.

“It’s just Sophie, saying that people were gossiping… about us.”

She rolled her eyes with a sigh.

“If Sophie would spend more time actually working than talking about other people who actually DO some work here, she might get something done one of these days, I really have to fire her.”

I didn’t disagree with that, I really never understood how she lasted so long, the girl did nothing and bitched about how busy she was all the time.

“I would just ignore it, Eric. I mean if I gave into everything I heard about myself around here, I’d be a drug addict, a whore, a plant from the CIA…”

I looked at her strangely then; she had to elaborate on that one.

“Gus in IT, he’s really fucking paranoid.”

Oh, yeah, I’d met Gus; he was a conspiracy theorist that’s for sure.

“I guess, it’s just… weird. I mean a few weeks ago most of those people wouldn’t look at me, didn’t know my name, and now, well, there’s a lot of staring.”

“Your six four Nordic genes are strolling around in tailored Armani, ever think that might be it?”

“No.”

She shrugged, clearly disagreeing.

“You like my six four self strolling around in this though?”

It was a dark navy, three piece that she’d eyed a few times now.

She looked up from her laptop with a smirk on her face, she didn’t get to speak before Lafayette came in, in a panic.

“Sooks, the fabric samples for the third design you gave me this morning? Missing.”

“Is it in the archive?”

“No, you think I wouldn’t have looked there … nice suit Eric.” He nodded in my direction, before continuing his freak out. I smiled; trust Lafayette to notice the important things.

“I looked there honey cone, it’s not there, my skin is breaking out I can feel it with all this stress. This isn’t even my department you know, but no, Stefan wanted that material in that design for that shoot and couldn’t she have done with something else? No! And now, STRESS.”

“What stress, it’s a sample –”

He gasped, he actually gasped.

“Just a sample? Girl…have you hit your little head on something? That sample is part of a line that is a hundred years old, if the line is missing that damn cape thing your Grandmother is set on keeping in the fall line will not get made for the shoot for that crazy bitch in Belize!”

I assumed it was one of the custom couture pieces Adele still commissioned, but they were put together by the Team Stackhouse now- a-days as opposed to how I assumed she did it solo back in the day.

Sookie spent twenty minutes talking Lafayette down from the metaphorical edge, and worked through lunch with Pam, I took the man for a much needed coffee.

I didn’t see Sookie for the rest of the afternoon, work was beyond busy, there were people in and out of the office most of the afternoon, the floor was busier than usual too, all systems were a-go a week before print of any issue, but that day seemed more hectic for some reason. Maybe it was because I was dying to talk to her alone, or just see how she was. Instead I settled for texting Trey back about drinks the next night and finishing off my emails. The few times I caught a glimpse of her, she was in conversation, or on the phone, or looking over the mock-up for the millionth time. By the time I had to clock out, she was still in the office with Pam, and four of five others whose names and jobs escaped me. I accepted that she was just too busy, and packed my stuff and hit the road. It was a week until Thanksgiving, and I knew we had to discuss, and finalize if Emily and I were going to make the trip to Colerado with her or not, if at least on her Grandmother’s end, the game was still in play. There was a lot of things Sookie and I had to discuss, things that neither of us seemed to want to bring up. It was nice, uncomplicated when we didn’t bring our issues into every day life like we’d been avoiding for a little while, at least. We could just exsist like we had been doing, live in and out of our little bubble for a while longer.

But the realist in me knew there was no such thing as a bubble, and that the real world came knocking and if we didn’t answer, that bitch was just going to knock down the damn door anyway, so we might as well face things on our terms.

When I got home, Emily was waiting for me, she didn’t look like the happy go lucky kid I was raising, she looked sad. Amelia and Taylor made swift exits, though not before Ames warned me that Emily wasn’t ‘really herself today’, and that there was something wrong that she just wasn’t willing to give up to her. So, with caution, I proceeded.

“Hey, Sis?” I said, sitting down on the couch beside her, she had her colouring books and ink pens out, but they were cast aside as she was seemingly engrossed in her TV show.

“What you doing?” I asked in my friendliest brotherly voice, she still wasn’t looking up.

“TV…”

“I see that, you want to look at me when we’re talking?”

With that her big blue eyes met mine, she was sad, in fact she was even tearing up.

“Hey… hey… come on, what’s wrong?” I said, pulling her into my lap.

“I don’ wanna go back to school.”

Fuck.

She wasn’t even six and already issues with school? It was a pretty decent pre-school but there was a grade school attached, I wondered if it was older kids, surely five and six year olds weren’t bullies, were they?

Then I remembered my time at school.

Oh.

“Tell me what happened?”

“They keep callin’ me Orphan Annie. From Annie? Because she’s an orphan.”

Well at least her logic was there, I remembered the film about the annoyingly chipper singing orphan girl.

“Aw, honey…” She hugged me tight and I hugged her back just as much.

“Miss Andrews said… she said… she said…” she sobbed, “that they wouldn’t do it again, and she made them stop but they did it again! Tommy Ryan… and his brother, they’re MEAN.”

I knew those kids, they were twins whose parents came from old Irish money, and the parents were solid, so why did they have such shitty fucking kids?

I held her as she cried, telling me again that all she wanted was our mom and dad to come and make it better for both of us. I hated watching her cry, I always knew, and sometimes I thought that she knew, instinctively that Mom would have done such a better job handling the crying that I did. She’d know all the right things to say and do, and the right songs to sing – in tune might I add, and she’d just be a Mom. I could never be that for her, no matter how much I tried to be her everything, it was just impossible.

So, I held her tight and we both calmed down enough to feel hungry, and I decided that pizza and ice-cream was in order to cheer her up. I couldn’t be mom or dad, but I could be her brother, and the best one ever at that. I vowed to go in the next day and talk to the teacher, nip that shit in the bud before it got out of hand, and I ordered while she took her nightly bath, then we got her into her snuglist pyjamas, before we pigged out on the sofa in front of Mulan.

“Is Sookie sleeping over again?” she asked, mid chew.

“I… I’m not sure tonight, she was still busy when I left.”

“Oh.”

“Do…Do you mind that she stays over sometimes?”

She shrugged.

“She’s nice, and funny, and she does the voices when she tells me a bedtime story, you know, like you do?”

I smiled, I had overheard a very amusing take on the Evil Queen from Snow White coming from her room the other night, and Sookie had a knack for accents it seemed, much to Emily’s pleasure.

“Well, good, I’m glad.”

“Is she your girlfriend now?” She said taking a big bite this time into her fries. For such a small kid, she sure could eat.

“What do you know about girlfriends?”

She giggled.

“I have a boyfriend.”

“You DO?”

She nodded, and told me ‘this one’s’ name was Riley, and he was her art buddy and apparently they were getting married.

Oh, God. It was starting.

“Well, I don’t know if she is my girlfriend, but she’s my good friend, how’s that?”

“But she’s a girl… so she’s your girlfriend.”

Ah, if only it were as simple as five year old logic. I missed that special kind of reasoning.

We changed the subject after that, finishing up our unnecessarily large dinner, and then watching the rest of the movie, she gave into sleep with her head my chest before the credits rolled.

Like me, whenever she ate, she just wanted to sleep anyway, never mind it being well after her bed time. It was almost midnight by the time I got the last of my files for Sam sorted out and filed properly for him, checked the door, the windows, shut off all the lights and crawled into bed. I hated that my bed, my room and my apartment seemed that much emptier without Sookie around now, and she’d only been crashing for less than three weeks. How was that fair? That in such a short space of time she could just, take a place, and it would be hollow when she wasn’t there to fill it?

It was after one, when my phone started to buzz on my nightstand.

“Hello?”

“Hey,” she whispered, “open your door, kay?”

Sookie?

Groggy, I stumbled out of bed as silently as I could to the front door, to see a tired, makeup free Sookie standing at my door, overnight bag in hand. She hugged me, wordlessly and I reciprocated with as much energy as I could muster. We didn’t say anything; as it seemed, there was nothing to be said. I simply took her bag, left it by the coat rack, and led her into my room, the only light coming from the bathroom that I left on in case needed to go during the night. Silently I crawled into my bed, and I watched as she stripped down to a vest top and her underwear and did the same. I became the big spoon as we cuddled that night, into one of the best night’s sleep I’d had in a long while. I was glad she came, I didn’t know why she did, and I found I didn’t really care, as long as she was there, I was good.

That thought scared me more than anything.

SPOV:

I was beyond tired by the time I left the office that night, it was the day before we went to print and more issues rose that I thought we could deal with. I had told Hoyt to bring me home, but when I got there, and fed Tina, looking around at it’s emptiness yet again, I just couldn’t stay, so I did what I had been doing for a couple of weeks now, on and off. I packed an over night bag, and headed to Eric’s. It was our day off the next day, and I was more than looking forward to a break from the office and the staff, and the pressure. I was worried about just showing up like I was planning to, but then I figured it wasn’t the first time I’d knocked on his door at an insane hour, and at least this time I was sober, and we were in a better, less messy place personally. I was happy when he answered the door, half asleep, hair all chaotic like it was, and all we would be doing was sleeping. It was all I had the energy for at the time anyway. I took comfort in his scent, in his touch and mostly in his cuddling skills, and I slept like a rock until the smell of coffee woke me up at almost eleven thirty the next morning.

I grabbed the grey terrycloth robe hanging on the back of his door and wrapped myself in it completely, immersing myself in his scent once again. It was something between soap, fabric softener, and that Calvin Klein fragrance I knew Lafayette gave him a few months back. Whatever it all was, it was comforting to me.

“Hey.” I said spotting him rinsing some dishes in the sink.

“Hey yourself, sleep okay?”

“Yeah, like a rock actually, thanks for not thinking I was crazy for just showing up last night.”

He smiled.

“It wouldn’t be the first time though, would it?”

“No, ashamedly it wouldn’t.” I said, helping myself to the coffee pot and a seat by the nook.

“I like it, you being here, so show up whenever you like…”

For some reason his open offer made me blush, I still had no idea why.

“Emily at school? You guys operate really quiet in the morning, usually the drop of a pin wakes me.”

“We’re not good morning people,” he chuckled helping himself to some coffee too, “so we hardly speak unless she’s being slow on purpose.”

“She likes it though, school?”

“She did, until these kids started picking on her, I had to go down there this morning and talk to the teacher about keeping an eye on things, it wasn’t fun.”

“Bullies?”

“Yeah, six year old bullies, can you believe it?”

“Little shits.”

“Exactly. They kept teasing her, about being an orphan.”

With that my mouth almost fell wide open, memories of the same types of teasing came flooding back, it wasn’t fun then and I imagined kids were a lot crueller now.

“Jesus… Poor Em’, I know that feeling, kids back home would do the same thing, when I transferred schools when Jason and I went to live with Gran? They would say the more horrible things, things I knew weren’t true, but they still hurt just the same… I hope she’s okay?”

He shrugged, “I hope she will be, we’re talking about it, and she says she’ll tell me if it happens again, beyond that, I don’t really know what to do for her.”

There wasn’t really much you could do, beyond let the teachers know and keep everyone aware that it’s happening in the hopes of stopping it, but in reality there was little to stop the real world for leaking in, even at that age.

“You talk in your sleep by the way.” He said with a smug smile, as we tucked into some croissants he’d picked up on his way back to the apartment from school that morning.

“No… I don’t.”

“How do you know, you’re asleep, and you do.”

“How… okay? What do I say?”

“I don’t know it’s weird, like ‘Eric is my King…”

That earned him a slap. He just laughed asshole.

“Seriously…?”

“Weird shit like ‘no don’t put that there’ or ‘we need different pineapples’ and my personal favourite, ‘move the Monkey!’ it was very odd, but hilarious.”

Was I officially insane? It sounded like I was.

“Hmph. Well at least I don’t fart in my sleep like some people.”

He let out a loud hearty laugh at that.

“Oh really? You really think you don’t?”

“Of course I don’t, I have control over my body.”

“Really?”

“Oh, shut up.”

He continued to laugh.

“Sook, I hate to break it to you, but you fart just like everyone else, in between the sleep talking there is sleep farting, FACT.”

“Lies.”

“Truth.”

He was so annoying when he was smug, so I just glared.

“It’s okay, you’re human and it’s okay to know that. I won’t tell anyone.”

He’d better not had.

“I don’t fart in my sleep.” I mumbled but he just kissed me on my cheek.

“It’s not a deal breaker or anything so don’t worry about it. Sam said he once dated a girl who would thrash in her sleep, like he ended up with a black eye one time and a broken nose another time, so a little mumbling and gas, not that big of a deal.”

“But it’s gross…” I mumbled finishing off my coffee.

He just laughed again.

“Speaking of deals…” I began, and instantly wished I hadn’t. His face dropped and I knew right then I’d just burst our little bubble.

“Yeah?”

“I uh, about Thanksgiving, she wants to know from everyone this week…I really don’t even want to go there, I just don’t. But if I don’t then I’ll never hear the end of it. You don’t have to go, if you don’t want to, I mean I can just wing it –”

“No, I said I’d go, I mean, we do have to get her to sign over the contract to you, right? And what better way to do that, than to be there, and show her, you know the … thing, the… us, thing.”

Yeah it was really that awkward now.

“Eric I know we need to talk shit out, where we’re standing an –”

“Yeah, we should but it’s a conversation I sense neither of us wants to have.”

I nodded.

“I hate defining things. Well, I love defining things, but not people, not relationships. It’s like… a curse. Once you have ‘the talk’ everything that we’ve been experiencing suddenly becomes mandatory.” I said and it was his turn to nod as I continued.

“We’ve been having fun, right? I mean, just being and doing whatever we wanted for now? Why does that have to change? Why does there have to be a big-ass label slapped on it just yet?”

“There doesn’t.” He said and I believe him because I saw it in his eyes, we wanted to stay in the bubble and hopefully re-inflate it.

“Well, good, what um, what are you doing today?”

He sighed, “I have to run by Sam’s place and talk some numbers, they’re thinking of expanding or opening at a second business at another premises, his accountant sucks, I’ve been fixing some things for him, making it a little bit clearer. I’m hoping it won’t take long, I have to pick Emily up at two today.”

“You ever think of doing that full time?” I asked innocent and he shrugged.

“I won’t think about it unless you fire me…”

I smiled; there was no chance of that happening. Sophie on the other hand, she had a week to pull her shit together or she was out, fucking around with Jason or not, I wasn’t dealing with her ass any longer than I had to.

“I … I could pick her up, if you wanted. I mean, I just have to go back to my place for a little while, I could come back for her?”

He furrowed his brows at me, as if he wanted to ask something, probably why I was volunteering to babysit a kid when I didn’t have to.

“I … are you sure? You really don’t have to though, I mean don’t think that because we’re … that you’re having to go out of your –”

“Dude, when have you ever known me to offer to do something that I didn’t want to do?”

He nodded.

“Okay, sure. That’s great then it gives me time to explain a lot of shit to Sam that should have been explained to him a long time ago. He has assets in that business I don’t think even he knows he has.”

“That’s great, that you’re helping him then, right?”

“I hope so, he’s a good business man, he’s fair and decent, and that’s rare these days.”

Didn’t I know it? I didn’t want things to get too heavy, not right then, so I suggested something I knew would lighten the mood significantly.

“Do you mind if I take a shower?” I said sliding down from the stool, my bare feet hitting the cold floor.

“Yeah sure… there are fresh towels in the –”

“Do you mind joining me?”

His brows hit his hairline, his face in total surprise as he slowly lowered his coffee mug.

“Uh… yes?”

“Yes you mind? Oh … okay then…” I said faking a strop, as I rounded the corner; he was on my heels though.

“No, I mind…I mean I don’t mind! I mean… I…”

I put my finger to his lips, flustered Eric was indeed flustered, and it was adorable.

“Eric?”

“Yeah?”

“Go turn the water on.”

I smiled as he just about tripped over himself on the way to the most relaxingly sexy shower I’d had possibly ever. Good Morning indeed.


A/N: Hi guys I’d love to know what you think as always! Remember I’ll be bringing all the stories over to my blog from now on, I’m not entirely sure when I’ll stop posting here, maybe finish out the work I have going and go from there, we’ll see, but stop by the blog anyway just so you don’t miss anything, there is fun to be had! 😀 xox


Chapter 24: Chapter 24


SPOV:

The shower with Eric was one of the most relaxing and most hilariously awkward things I’d ever taken part in, and that’s including loss of virginity. You see Eric was a tall man, a very tall, large man, and I wasn’t a very tall woman, the logistics of what ideally seemed like hot shower sex, were in reality very uncomfortable and difficult to maintain in what was a slippery bathtub with a shower head. There was a lot of kissing, and touching, and what essentially came down to mutual hand jobs, but there was no sex, at least not in the shower. By the time we got back to his room though, all bets were off, so off in fact that it led to him being a half hour late for Sam. I stuck around until two so I could get Emily and she would take a trip into the city with me and we’d get food; this was decided after round two of our little afternoon delight… and believe me when I say I had to stop him from humming that song, and then quoting lines from Anchorman. I shook my head laughing at him as he stumbled around his room looking for things to wear, he was going to settle on some workout clothes, but then looked at me and sighed.

“You’d disapprove wouldn’t you?”

It made me laugh, because ordinarily I would have.

“Work me would, work me would fire you for showing up in sweat pants dude.”

“But you, you?”

“Me -me just had three orgasms in forty five minutes, me-me doesn’t care if you walk out there in a tutu… well okay, maybe I still would care. But it’s your friend… and you’re late.”

His eyes widened and he panicked again, “Right, late. You’re still okay to –”

“YES. GO.”

With that he yanked on a grey sweatshirt, stuffed his feet into his running shoes kissed me on the forehead and literally ran for the door, I heard it slam, and then two seconds later I heard it reopen. He’d forgotten the files, of course.

I just sighed, looking around his now messed up room, there were wet towels and rumpled sheets, I was currently wrapped in one on his bed. I knew I had to get up but it was so hard to do. I’d enjoyed my day off so far that was for sure. It had been a long time since I’d just let go, and enjoyed myself and another person in such an intimate and fulfilling way. I was also glad we’d made no grand gestures though; I was still working things out long term in my head, like I always did before I committed even slightly to something. It was a thing that being in the business had taught me, never sign onto anything before you read the fine print. And with Eric and me, I just wasn’t sure what the fine print even was just yet.

When I went to Emily’s school a few blocks from the apartment, I had to explain to the teacher who I was, and what I was doing there, and sign a document to take her with me, showing ID and everything. I was happy such a small school still had such great ways of attempting to protect the kids, but thankfully for me, Amelia was also there, and vouched for me too, making it easier. Emily was thrilled to see me, and even happier when I said we got to spend the afternoon in the city if she’d come with me. There might have been promises of a treat after her dinner if she was a good girl, and with a smile she tugged for my hand, and off we went. We took a cab to my apartment, I wasn’t brave enough for the subway these days, and not in the heels I was wearing either. When we pulled up at my place, Emily who had been happily telling me of the stories they’d been covering in class that day, jumped out before me and smiled when I let her give the driver the money and tip, she thanked him, and called him ‘Sir’. She was kind of an awesome kid. I had no illusions that she was this perfect angel though; odds were she knew how to throw a tantrum or two in her time, but with me, thus far, she’d been a really mellowed little girl. She was Eric’s sister after all. I opened all the windows in the apartment, noting that Maxine had been and gone judging by the fresh smell we were greeted with, and Tina’s fresh bowl of milk and food. Tina greeted us with an un-amused ‘meow’, and I instantly felt bad that I’d been neglecting her pretty much for a month now. I made a mental note to be around more for my pampered pet. I had texted Pam from Brooklyn asking if she’d meet me for an early dinner, or a very late lunch, and by three thirty I got my reply. We agreed to meet at one of my favourite restaurants Jean-Georges on Central Park West. We’d be too late for lunch and too early for dinner, but it really was amazing what my name did for those little… inconveniences.

I grabbed what I’d come across town to get, and after Emily finished her snack of juice and some fruit, we were out the door again.

The look of shock on Pam’s face when she saw not only me, but little Emily stroll into that building, well, it was priceless.

“Sookie…” we air kissed and she looked confused at the kid. “What… is that?”

I rolled my eyes.

“Pam, this is Emily, Emily this is my friend Pam, and we work together.” I nudged Emily and she put out her hand to shake Pam’s hand. It took all my strength not to giggle.

“Pleased to meet you.”

Manners were a big deal with Eric; I saw that in Emily a lot.

Pam looked to me, then to Emily, and then to me before she put out her hand, cautiously to shake the little girl’s hand, as if she were ready to bite or something.

“She’s not going to snap, Pam.”

With that Emily took her seat with a giggle.

“I know that. They’re just usually so… sticky.”

With that we settled down and waited for our orders. I was determined to get Emily a properly balanced dinner, I didn’t want to the kid going back to Eric’s saying I’d starved her simply because Pam was attempting another fad diet that she really didn’t need, being almost six foot tall and a size two, but there was no talking to her in her search for ‘glowing skin’ and yadda yah. I treated myself to their strip loin and all the trimmings, the look on Pam’s face there was also priceless.

“The reason I wanted to meet with you outside of work, I wanted to show you these.”

I said as we wrapped up dinner, having conversed on every subject besides myself and Eric, Pam and I were only fully aware that little ears were listening in. By the end of it though, Pam had warmed to Emily at least a little. I was glad, and I wasn’t really surprised, Emily was a really engaging kid, and advanced for her age, and according to this ‘almost six’ year old, she was great at math, just like Eric.

Pam took a look at the two large portfolios that I put in front of her and she smiled.

“So this is what you hide in these folders, I always wondered. Sook, they’re stunning. I particularly love the luxury capsule wardrobe here, it’s just… all the pieces compliment so well, and if these are the fabric swatches… ugh you could die thinking how that would flow, cut properly.” She continued to gush. I loved Pam’s eye, and she was blunt and to the point, I needed that with what I was going to say next.

“I’m thinking of approaching some houses, with an idea to maybe collaborate… on my own.”

Her eyes widened, “I love that idea. Oh, my God do I love that idea.”

“It would mean more work, but it’s something I’ve always thought about, and a few designers asked me, in passing more than once if I would and I always said no. But this could be a great way of… I don’t know, starting my own line.”

Pam got excited, and she rarely got so animated, but she definitely got animated too. She was so supportive, and I loved that, I needed that since I was scared shitless of doing what I was thinking of doing.

“Pam, you’ve worked with me for how long now? Almost six years?”

“Yeah, in March, why?”

“No reason, I just… was thinking. I remember when I first started; I was beyond scared and green.” I smiled, “and then you came along and became like my right hand, and we failed a lot, we did a lot of crappy covers and pieces and failed products… but we learned together you and I, didn’t we?”

“Sookie are you dying? Is that what this is?”

Emily looked concerned.

“She’s joking Em’.”

“Oh, okay…” she said tucking back into her two-scoop ice-cream with strawberries, she was practically inhaling it.

“No, Pam. I’m just thinking out loud is all.”

“You’ve gotten so sentimental lately, I have to admit it’s a little scary.”

“I’ve always been sentimental; I just hide it better sometimes than others.” I laughed.

“Either way, tone it down.” She said looking freaked, before she smiled. “Not that I’m complaining but why are you kissing my a…being so nice?” She looked to Emily rolled her eyes and looked to me.

I shrugged, I wasn’t sure of the reason exactly, but something in me needed her to know how much I appreciated her.

“There’s no reason, I just figured it would be nice for you to know. I couldn’t have done a lot of what we’ve done if it wasn’t for you pushing the bar and me along at times.”

She blushed, it was sweet. Pam never blushed.

“Well… thanks. You know I love what we do, what I do, getting to be one of the few that does this? I mean, come on. It’s a fantastic life.”

It was in a lot of ways a fantastic life, but, Pam had everything else figured out. She had the love of her life by her side, she had the job she adored, and she only spoke to her family when she absolutely had to, but it didn’t bother her like it bothered me. She’d left home by choice when she was seventeen, her motto was she was too good for the backwoods, and was meant for more. She became more all on her own. She was pretty bad ass. The once fantastic life, had somewhere along the road, become tiresome for me. A feeling I never thought I’d experience.

By the time Emily and I got back to Eric’s place, he still wasn’t home and I had to get the spare key from Trey who was on the phone so we didn’t stop to chat. Instead Emily and I settled down in front of the TV to waste some time. It seemed like as good a time as any to talk to her about her school issues.

She told me about the boys, and the name calling, and that Eric had gone to talk to her teacher, which just made the boys mad.

“You know, when my parents died?” she looked up at me, paying full attention, “I had to move to a whole new place, me and my older brother Jason. We moved to live with my Gran, and that meant we had to change schools, and I hated it – at first.”

“Did boys pick on you too?”

“No, not the boys, but some girls did. They didn’t like that I was the new girl and kind of strange, and I was ten, so I thought I was a big girl.” We both smiled as she sipped her juice.

“But they picked on me and I didn’t tell anyone for a long time, and it hurt, knowing what I knew and not telling anyone, so you were really brave to tell Eric.”

“But then they got meaner! And called me a tattle tail!”

I hated that phrase, that phrase was what kept the bully cycle alive most of the time. Kids were afraid to speak up.

“You’re never a tattle tail if someone is trying to hurt you, with their words or their hands, okay? You did a good thing.”

“Did you tell anyone?”

I shook my head, no.

“But then one day, my brother saw what was happening at school, when he came to pick me up. He’d just started the older kid’s school so we weren’t together much. But he came and he saw, and he stood up for me, just like Eric stood up for you, Em. And he told them that we might not have had a Mom or a Dad anymore, but that I had a big brother to come look out for me… to take care of me.” For some reason my eyes were welling up and I was willing myself not to cry, I hadn’t thought about how close Jason and I used to be, in a long time.

“He’s a good brother?”

“He was. And they didn’t pick on me again.”

Not until high-school at least, but she didn’t need to know that.

“And your big brother, he might not be able to do what your parents wanted to do for you, but he’s doing his best, and that’s all anyone can ask of anyone else, is they be their best. But just know that you can tell him anything, anytime and he’ll help you, like he always does, okay?”

I was probably confusing the poor kid, I was confusing myself. I was flooded with memory after memory of Jason and I, thick as thieves, when all we had to worry about was being clean for dinner and not messing up our Sunday best.

She nodded, and then the unexpected happened, she hugged me.

“Are you gonna be Eric’s girlfriend now?”

Panic! “What did I say when I didn’t know the answer myself? What had he said? Had he told her I was? Oh, God. What?

“Um, well, what did Eric say?”

“He said…” she pondered and it was killing me, “he said that you were his good friend…”

“Oh, okay.”

That was okay, that was safe, and hopefully true.

“Um, well, isn’t being a good friend better than just being a silly old girlfriend?” I laughed.

“Can’t you be both?”

I smiled as I heard Eric’s key rattle in the door.

“We’ll talk about this some other time okay?”

With Emily happily distracted with her movie and a teeny tiny bag of candy Eric had brought back with him, he and I made a break for the kitchen.

“Sam’s books were a mess, a total mess, he’s going to fire his guy tonight, there was money missing, investments that went missing, I don’t even know how that happens.” As he made himself a cup of coffee, I had politely declined; I listened to his friend’s tale of woe. I felt sorry for the guy, trying to build his business when people were swiping from underneath him.

“I have to go home tonight.” I said in a break in conversation, his face fell for a second before he hid it behind a nod.

“Oh… okay that’s cool. Was it Em? Was she too much? I knew I was gone too long I –”

“It’s not that, she was great actually, and we had a late lunch with Pam, she was fine don’t worry.”

“Oh, that’s good, great. I’m glad she wasn’t a nightmare, sometimes she’s cranky after school, and it doesn’t always go well.”

I smiled. I had assumed that with her being so young an all, hell, I was almost thirty and I threw my share of tantrums.

“I just have some calls to make, and pay Tina some attention.” I said, slipping off my stool and over to where he stood. He didn’t waste time, or ask permission before he kissed me, and I allowed myself to just fall into it, just lose myself for a few seconds to his touch. His touch that I hated the thought of being without, that night if I went home.

Damn, when did I become that girl?

We broke apart from a deep kiss, but considering who was singing along in the next room, a decidedly PG rated kiss, his eyes still closed. I loved that little detail about him; it was like he was savouring every second, it made it more special somehow.

“Not to sound lame, but I’ll miss you tonight. Human heating system that you are.” He grinned.

“Ah, so it all comes out, just using me for my body heat huh?”

“Yeah, I mean, what else would I be using your body for?” His eyebrows did their little dance and it made me laugh.

“Well, you think of a few things and maybe we can discuss them, tomorrow.”

“Discussing them, where’s the fun in that.” He said as I pulled away. I just rolled my eyes, and grabbed my bags. Said goodbye to a pouting Emily, and smiled as her brother’s reaction was scarily similar, and I made my way home, alone.

When I got back to my place, greeted by the early November chill making it’s way around my apartment due to the long forgotten open windows, and of course Tina. I decided to do what I’d been debating about doing since my talk with Emily.

I called Jason.

“Hey Jase, its Sookie.”

He sounded surprised, as he should, this almost never happened outside of work hours.

“Hey Sook, what’s up? Is everything – Is Gran okay?”

I took a seat on my giant white couch, and sighed. Of course that’s what he would think, why would I be calling just to call? I never did that.

“No, no, everything fine. I was just calling to … see how you are?” Even those words seemed foreign coming from me.

“Oh… well … I’m fine, home and just had dinner, the kids are just being put to bed, and Crystal and I are gonna watch a movie, work was good. I made all the meetin’s today, nothing got put back.”

“Oh, good. That’s good.”

Did we really have nothing better to talk about, other than work? It was always just about work.

“Are you coming for Thanksgiving? I think I’m being demoted.” He chuckled. I hadn’t really thought of Jason’s position in all this.

“If that happens, how… I mean how would that make you feel?”

He sighed and I heard a beer can snap open; he took a sip and sighed again.

“Honestly, I’m not sure. I mean you deserve it, you’ve always been way more into the business than I have… it’s your thing you know? I do it because it’s what Gran wanted after college you know? Like take over the family business, but then you came along and did it so much better. I mean, Crystal would kill me for sayin’ this Sook, but I’d much rather spend time with the kids, you know? Give ’em what we never had, I don’t need that much money, I mean, it’s cool an all, but with the trust funds we were set for life anyway. You taking the company international, adding the magazine like you did? Hell, I’d happily sign over the job to you and take my cut right now, but it’s not up to me.”

I was shocked. I guess I just thought Jason loved the job, the lifestyle as much as I did, even if he kind of sucked at it. While I went radio silent, Jason clearly picked up on it.

“Is that why you’re callin’ Sook?”

“No… No, I was just remembering some things, like when we were kids… and I wanted to talk to you I guess.”

“Hey remember that time Frank Kale, the kid from down the lake shot me in the ass with his dad’s bb gun? I couldn’t sit down for days.” He chuckled; I did remember that, I couldn’t have been more than ten at the time. Gran had given him what for too.

“I was remembering school mostly, and those kids.”

“Asshole kids, I hope my kids don’t turn into little assholes.”

I hoped that too, the world had enough.

“I’m sure you and Crystal will do a good job, I know you will. You’ll do all the things you wanted Dad to be there to do with you.”

“You miss ’em?”

“Every day,” I answered without a beat.

“Me too, I feel like I shouldn’t though, like I should be over it, but I guess some things never leave you.”

No, I’d thought the same over the years, which maybe I should feel less of a loss over time, but the truth was, the older I got, the more I missed them.

“So are you coming for Thanksgiving?” He asked again, and this time I was sure.

“Yes, Jason, I’ll be there, with bells on this year.”

“Actual bells?” He chortled, and I laughed.

“We’ll see how it goes. I’ll see you in a week?”

“See you in a week, little sister.”


A/N: Hi guys, you know the drill! Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog Myfictionalmusings at WordPress! Thanks so much lovelies! 😀


Chapter 25: Chapter 25


Winning choice this time around was Devil, and here it be! Thank you all so much for the reviews last chapter, both on here on FF and on my blog (link in the profile if you’d like to help choose the next chapter!), and some of you even review on both which is very sweet and appreciated, and you know I love hearing your theories and thoughts so keep them coming! xox

SPOV:

“If you don’t want to come or you’ve made other plans I completely understand. I mean if they weren’t my family and I had stuff to resolve I wouldn’t be making the trip either, trust me.” I said biting into my food.

“Sookie, it’s fine, I told you before when we started this that I’d go with you. I really don’t mind.”

“What do you usually do?”

“We usually congregate at Amelia’s mother’s place, she lives a little outside the

city, she got a new place up state since she retired this year though, it’s pretty

swank.”

“And they won’t mind?”

He scoffed.

“Please, they’ll probably just be relieved to have two less mouths to feed. Though now I have a bigger place, well, bigger than the shoe box, I have offered for next year, but Martha is pretty set in her ways.”

I knew that was probably an exaggerated point, but it was nice that he was making me feel better about this. I knew we had agreed to this, but now that it was looming closer, the more I wanted to run in the other direction. I did not want to subject them to my family for a full weekend. Ugh. It was bad enough I had to do it. I had been thinking long and hard that week about where I was going with all of this, and the one thing that I kept coming back to was my designs. I wanted to make something of them, but because of my responsibilities as an overworked VP of a now, international company, I never really found the time for them or for much else if I was being honest. I had emailed a few houses that I had worked with in the past, allowed me a close personal relationship with one or two of the designers. It was mostly to feel out my work, to get a professional assessment. I got back a bundle of friendly emails and a few unexpected phone calls praising my work. I mean, when head of the biggest fashion houses in the world decided to call you back personally, it’s still a big deal, I don’t care who you are. I didn’t dare tell anyone though, not until something was in motion, I didn’t want to jinx anything before it started.

We were in the middle of my office, and it was lunch, we ate in since I had a million and one emails to answer and it was to be a working lunch as I all but salivated over my tuna melt and salad. Eric was eating his spicy chicken taco with a knife and fork – he was weird, I knew that already.

“I just…”

“You’re nervous, it’s perfectly normal. I mean even under normal circumstances it would be expected for you to be nervous but this is huge. The future of your career hangs in the balance of whether or not we can sell shit to your crazy ass demanding family.” He smiled, I wasn’t sure if it was at the circumstances, or at his food.

“Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I just want to run for the hills.”

“I bet California is nice this time of year.”

I smirked.

“We’ll find out first week in December, you know I have three meetings there second week of that month, right? That means you have to come too.”
He nodded.

“Cool. And I know your birthday is around then too, right? Will we have time to see the ocean?”

I nodded.

It was a long weekend, the Friday to the Monday; the magazine was getting a revamp. I wanted to make it smaller, more portable, but thicker, with better content, and I wanted to focus on our app. Improvements too. Of course I kept making plans, upgrades to the business, all the while in the back of my mind I wanted nothing more than to give this power to someone else and start fresh. The thoughts were swirling around in my head; it was becoming an obsession more than anything.

“We might. Will it be okay to leave Emily for that long? It’s not really a kid friendly trip.”

He shook his head.

“Nah, I’ll figure something out, it’ll be fine.”

“If you’re sure.”

“I am, besides, if it gives us a little time away…” he said as suggestively as anyone could while eating a taco.

“It’s a work trip…” I reiterated.

“Mmhm and we know what they say about too much work and no play.”
“It makes people employed?”
He smirked.

“Well, it does, but it also makes them miserable.”
That was so, very, true. And in that came my best idea for the rainy Wednesday we were in the middle of.

“Eric…”
“Hmm?” He responded, finishing off his fruit-punch Snapple.

“I think I need you in the archives.”

“Hm, okay what am I going down for?”

I stifled a giggle.

“For me.”

“Huh?”

With that he finally gave me his attention, and it was clear from the look on my face where I was going with this.

“I need you to go down there, and wait for me.”

“Really?” He sounded out, getting up off his chair, and leaving the pile of paper work he’d been looking over, and he came around to my side of the desk, he uncrossed my legs slowly before he dipped in for a kiss.

Needless to say these days the privacy blinds were up more often than not around the glass office in which I sat.

“We’re doing this…?”

I smiled at his eagerness, and excitement at the prospect of sexing it up right nice in the archive basement.

“We are, we need this today has been a shit day, let’s end it on a… high.”

He grinned wide, kissing me again quickly on the lips before standing up straight, and exiting my office, I walked over to the table to leave off the files I was finished with, and watched him walk to the elevator.

He’d never make a very good actor, that’s for sure. He spoke to everyone he passed, even Sophie, who just looked at him with distain as usual, he was overly cheerful, overly Eric. I laughed out loud at his ‘I’m not up to anything’ walk too. He may as well have held a sign over his head that said ‘I’m off to have sex’. It was hilarious.

I redirected the calls from my phone to Sophie, and actually left my phone in my desk. I was giddy, beyond giddy actually. It was something Eric had been hinting at since we first had sex in my office that he wanted to do again. Of course he wanted to do it again, it was awesome and naughty and fun, and all the things we never did in that office every day. And honestly I wanted him there and then and why not take advantage of the situation of having my boyfriend at work, if I couldn’t have my boyfriend at work.

I smirked to myself as I took the elevator to the archive floor, it was always empty, so I was sure we’d be fine, I also knew where the security cameras were too, so that helped. When I got to the floor though, the archives weren’t empty, Shawn one of our resident staff photographers was down there, having quite the chinwag with Eric.

Fuck. Fucking fuck.

“Hey Boss, what brings you down here? Eric not fast enough for you?” He grinned at me as the elevator doors opened and I smiled. His speed wasn’t really our biggest problem, most of the time I thought, but I pushed all naughty thoughts out of my mind for the time being.

“Hi, Shawn, no, I just, well, you know me.”

“Perfectionist.” He answered.

“That’s me, so I just wanted a few more things and figured I would stretch my legs, I’ve been at my desk most of the day, how’s the shoot for next issue going? I hear from Pam we’ve got some amazing locations lined up for the cover.” Of course I knew where we were going and what we were shooting; I had to sign off on it before anyone spent a penny. We all talked shop for a few more minutes before Shawn’s phone started to buzz and he excused himself, informing he he’d have test shots for the staff meeting the next day. When he was safely on his way up the elevator, Eric and I both breathed a sigh of relief simultaneously.

“I thought he was never going to leave, he scared the shit out of me, just lurking behind the cabinets.” Eric said, checked behind the rows and rows of file boxes that filled the room. “I thought for sure we were caught.”

I started to unbutton my blouse, before he got back to my end of the room.

“Take off your pants.”

He stalled. Looked at me kind of funny and smirked, well what the hell was that about, I wondered.

“Problem?”

“No, no problem, this is just very … procedural.” He grimaced as he reached into his pocket for a surprise condom I didn’t know he had on him, someone was optimistic. Or, you know, right.

“Eric I have maybe fifteen minutes before the phones start to blow up, that’s if Sophie is doing her job right now so can –” I was cut off with his kiss, and as I was hoisted up into the air by his hands on my waist, setting me on one of the reading tables.

“Fine, romance be damned, take of your pants. Why are you even wearing pants?”
“Because it’s November and it’s colder than Anna Wintour’s underwear drawer in this city.” I mused, before I moved in for my make out session. One thing I could say about Eric, he knew how to kiss. He was attentive and he liked to explore without things getting too sloppy and weird. And the sex was great, really great actually, and he argued that it was because he was a ‘Geek’ that he tried as hard as he did to be a good lover. But, personally it seemed pretty effortless on his part, for a Geek he was damn good. I knew a few men that thought themselves amazing lovers who gave no fucks about what I was feeling when we’d be together like that, Eric was different. He gave fucks, and they were glorious.

“You’re distracted.” I sing-songed as he yanked my underwear down my ass and landed back on the table with a thud, he kept looking towards the doors, he was distracted and thus I was distracted – making our ‘quickie’ go rather slowly.

“I can’t help it, what if someone else comes in?”
“They won’t.”
“But –”
“Well if they do I’ll fire them. Now, fuck me.”

He just raised a brow at me.

“It must be nice being the boss of everyone…”

“Please?” I batted my lashes as I reached into his unbuttoned pants, pushing them down his thighs.

He was wearing comic book underwear; it may or may not have been Marvel. I had to hold in my laughter, but he could tell.

“It’s laundry day.” He justified.

“N’aw they’re cute. As are your superhero t-shirt and hoody collection, and the boxes of comics you think are hidden under your bed. You know most men hide porn? Those comics were still in their plastic… And what’s with all the books of math?”

“Distracting…” he said pushing my legs apart and stepping up to the plate, well, so to speak anyway. He was most certainly ready to go, but that was another thing with Eric – he chalked it up to his three years of celibacy, but whatever it was, his stamina was certainly up to snuff. We quickly established a glorious rhythm, one aided nicely with his fingers inside me too, working away, winding me up like a toy that was just dying to go off. I knew his kinks now; I knew his turn-on’s, some of them at least. So I sucked his earlobe into my mouth and bit gently, and like magic it made him go harder, faster, gripping onto my ass like I was about to float away. I was sure to have finger mark shaped bruises there later. I trailed my finger along his jaw bone, down his neck, to his now open shirt collar, and held on as we fucked and fingered and fucked some more. He was concentrating hard, I knew that, his eyes were closed, his teeth on his bottom lip, all in attempts to stop his usual sex noises. Some couldn’t be helped though and soon I was pretty sure would travel up the elevator shaft and into the offices if we weren’t careful, but I was never one to deny gratification if it was right in front of me. And so when I got close, I tried not to moan, but soon lost the will to care, and just chased that orgasm I had been thinking about having with him all day. By the time we both reached our peak, we were a complete fucked mess, literally.

“I can freshen up in the lobby bathrooms; I suggest you do the same before we get back on our floor like this.” I said not stifling my giggle in the slightest as Eric tried to figure out where to dispose of the condom. “I think there’s a bin for that,” I nodded, “up there too.” I helped re-button his shirt.
“Yeah,” He cringed, “I just have to get it there… like this. You’re going to have to press the buttons for me, no way am I leaving traces of …me all around.”

“This was fun though, right?” As if I needed to ask his pink tinted rosy cheeked self that question.

He looked at me, with those thoughts exactly written all over his face, like I needed to ask.

We both smirked as we entered the elevator again, far too pleased with ourselves, his hand on my ass the entire three floor journey. We exchanged knowing looks as he went left to the Men’s room, and I went right to the Ladies. I was never as glad to know there was a private bathroom in my office, with shower, at that moment. I first had to look like I hadn’t just fucked my hot ass assistant on the seven hundred-dollar tables in the archive department. I got a text five minutes into my ‘fixing up’ from Eric, and I burst out laughing, freaking out the woman washing her hands.

‘Fantastic breasts by the way, oh and there is a few messages for you from the art department, something about a problem with the cover. But seriously, those breasts, well done on those.

I left with a smile on my face, disheartened not to see him at his desk when I got to our floor, but carried on with my five-minute shower down and change of clothes before I spent the rest of my afternoon and most of my evening in the art department, buried under indecisive directors and assistance. By the time I got out and was heading for home, his desk was empty again. No surprise really, it was gone seven pm, normal people left their jobs at five. I realized I never really had a ‘normal’ job. I interned at the business in high school, and in College, and came straight from there to work full-time. I realized then, I never really had a chance to see if I was good at anything else. I just, accepted that because this was the ‘family business’ that it had to be my business. Six years and a lot of stress later, I was glad to be re-thinking a thing or two where my time was concerned. I got home for a proper relaxing shower and a nap for an hour, which I instantly regretted when I woke up.

I went up stairs to my office, and decided to drag the box of designs I’d been collecting and sketching for the past, God knows how many years, and give them some air as I quietly contemplated my future. I had everything in those portfolios, fabric swathes, measurements, the sketches of course, and even some marketing demographic information too. There was a time when this was what I wanted, my double major in college focused on both worlds, fashion design and business. I just happened to go the business route instead of the design path first; did that mean I couldn’t switch it up now? It was fun to think about designs and how they might look on a runway and how they might look on a real person on the street and just how to translate that properly so it appeals to the people you are aiming to appeal to. I want it on my own terms, I knew I had the capital, I had the reputation, and I had the contacts. What was stopping me other than the fear of failure? I had been promoting other brands, other designers and models for years with the magazine; I had taken my Grandmother’s designs and made them into a world-wide success. Why couldn’t I do this on my own?

“Fuck it.” I said, tired of staring at the masses of paper and fabric on my table, instead I made a very important phone call, one of many that night. By nine thirty-five, I had the beginning of what I hoped would be the feet of my new business, and six missed calls from friends I hadn’t had time to see in what felt like years. I made a note to get back to them the next day. I also had a massive headache and a sense of serious hunger. I stuck around my empty apartment for a while, before I just couldn’t take it any longer. I hated Eric for doing this to me, for giving me the sense of what it was like to come back to a home where there were people there that you cared about, the only thing that cared about me on the Upper East Side was my cat, and even these days she wasn’t so impressed. So I freshened up her bowls of food and milk, grabbed a bag, and my phone, and made a break for it.

EPOV:

“Emily, I’m not kidding this time, bed.”

“But I’m not tired yet; can’t I just stay up five more minutes?” She whined from the centre of her bed, arms and legs crossed, refusing to get under the covers. This had been in the works since we got home that evening, she’d been cranky all damn day.

“No, it’s already ten thirty, no.”

“Just until the big hand goes to eleven?”

“Nope.”

“Why?”

“Because I said so, that’s why.” I hated that argument as a kid and I hated it even more using it on her, it was so obvious I didn’t have a real argument, other than she was a kid and she needed her sleep. But, logic to a kid that age was lost.

“I want a glass of water. I’m thirsty.”

“You have water by your bed.” I called into as I hovered around her doorway.

“But it has been sitting there for HOURS. I want fresh water, or juice.”

I sighed, done with her requests that had started as soon as she went in, at nine fifteen.

“No.”

She ‘tutted’ to herself and I just walked back to the couch, fully intending to ignore her, when there was a small tapping at the front door. I wasn’t expecting anyone, and I had just spoken to Sam and he wasn’t coming over, not that I knew anyway.

“Sookie?”

“Hey, I just… bought Chinese food?” she said clearly embarrassed, standing at my door, her small and assumed expensive over-night bag in hand.

“Well, otherwise you clearly wouldn’t be welcome.” I said as I opened the door wider for her, grinning.

She breathed a sigh of relief, and I knew why, we were still in that in-between-y phase of whatever this was. We still had yet to go on an official date, anywhere in public that didn’t involve work. But then, that just brought it back around to ‘is this still part of the ‘deal” and so the conversation remained unsaid because I knew neither of us wanted to be the one to start that particular mess. Not when things felt this good.

“Hey, hey, what’s this?” She asked as we found Emily on the couch with her blanket.

“I don’t wanna go to sleep and Eric won’t let me stay up.”

“He won’t?” She sounded surprised, looking in my direction and then to Em’. “Well,

why not?”

“Because it’s late and stuff.”

“Ah.” She said, animated sitting next to her with a slight bounce, “well, he is right, it’s really late and for little girls it’s even later because tomorrow you’ll be really

tired and wished you’d gone to bed sooner.”

“No I won’t.”

“I know I will, I’m really tired too, and my guess is, so is Eric.”

I nodded. I was done for.

I took the bags from her hands, and took them into the kitchen, all the while

listening to the two of them talk.

“I don’t feel sleepy is all. Why do I have to sleep when I don’t feel like it?”

“I used to think that too, but now, now I love my sleep and want as much of it as

possible.”

“Is it because you’re old?”

Sookie burst out laughing at that, “Yes, I guess it is because I’m old. But I’ll make you a deal, I’ll take you into bed now, and we’ll read a story –”

“With the voices?” Em’ asked, and I knew she liked for me to do the voices to her

stories for the different characters, and I guess Sookie was now on that list too. I

smiled before I could help myself.

“Sure, we’ll do that, and you try to sleep, and if you’re really good I’ll ask Eric

really nicely if I can pick you up from school early tomorrow so we can go shopping

for Ski stuff, deal?”
“YEAH! ERIC CAN SOOKIE PICK ME UP FROM –”

I was out of the kitchen before she could finish her yelling.

“If you get into bed right now, she can.”

With that she hopped off the couch, dragging her blanket behind her and hightailed

it into her room.

“I’ll be right in.” Sookie called after her.

I smiled.

“I’m glad you came over.”

“Free food and a compliant kid, I am kind of awesome.” She said, kissing me on the

cheek in passing, I didn’t let her go though, catching her by the hand and pulling

her back for a proper kiss. When we broke apart she smiled.

“I’m glad I came over too, it’s the calm before the storm. Pick out a movie or

something and I’ll be back. Oh, and get the food, I’m starving!” She jerked her

eyebrows and then rolled her eyes as she pointed towards Emily’s room.

She kissed me once again, quickly and I watched her disappear into the room, and

take the seat by Emily’s bed.

The calm before the storm, I thought it was just an exaggerated expression on her

part, but oh how wrong I was.


Chapter 26: Chapter 26


Unbeta’d so be gentle with me! I’m away again tomorrow for a concert and some girlie time so wouldn’t get a chance to get this up for a couple of days! Hope you like it and if you do tell me! Hell, even if you don’t! 😀

SPOV:

Rooting through the rails at the large sports section of the department store, I was pulling options for a five year old like she was going on the cover in a day. It was a bad habit, what can I say?

“This?”

She shook her head, “I don’t like that.”

“Okay, this?”

“I like that, it’s pink!”

“So, pink is key?”

“And I like the black with it.” She pointed to the kiddie version of a ski suit, the pink and black one was cute, I had to admit.

“Okay, cool. We don’t need ski’s, plenty of those at the house.” I said, more to myself than to her. I looked at what I had in my arms. Some cute hats, snow boots, and several ‘under her ski gear’ clothes. We lost Eric somewhere around Men’s wear, and that had been over an hour before. I was exhausted, and I really wanted a pedicure, and some food. I was due to meet Pam at seven for yoga, I didn’t want to show up cranky and with chipped polish.

“Hey Emily?” I asked as we left the till, my credit card getting quite the workout too.

“Hmm?” She responded, looking up at me with a big smile on her face as I handed her the smallest little brown bag.

“Want to get your nails done?”

Her eyes expanded.

“Something light, nothing crazy.” I clarified and hoped that Eric wouldn’t mind.

“YES! Eric never lets me pain my nails, he says he doesn’t get it and it makes a mess. He doesn’t get it.”

I smiled, she was easily excited that kid, and sassy, extremely sassy.

We found Eric about ten minutes later, and when I brought up my need for hand and feet treatments he looked at me funny.

“You can get one too, if you’d like.” I said, as I dialed the number of the Jin Soon place not far from where we where. I had three of us booked in before we got out of the large store. I would never tire of my name opening up magically already booked appointments, or tables, or unavailable clothes.

“I’m not getting a pedicure, Sookie.” he protested as he grabbed our bags and Emily’s other hand as she walked between us.

“And just why not? It’s relaxing.”

“It’s a pedicure, its’ for women!”

“Because women are the only people with feet?”

Emily giggled glancing from me, to Eric as we walked in the snow covered streets of New York City.

“Well, no…”

“So, how is it just for women? I’m not suggesting she paint your toes bright red…” I looked to Emily and winked. “I mean I think with your skin tone a nice fuchsia pink would be very flattering.”

Emily irrupted into giggles again, she was just too cute, Eric just rolled his eyes.

“You don’t have to get polish on, trust me, it’s so relaxing, and we may need to be relaxed for this coming Thanksgiving.” I sighed. By the time we got to the high end, very Zen spa like business, my feet were aching.

” I don’t know why you insist on wearing six inch boots when shopping, it’s insane.” Eric commented as we each took our seats next to each other, Emily in the middle again.

“Yes, yes, I’ve heard it all before.”

“So then why?” He looked puzzled.

“Well, look how cute they are? And besides I like pretending to be tall, it gives me better posture…and they were expensive so I need to justify paying over a thous-”

His eyes widened, so I stopped.

“You know, paying a certain amount of money, for them.” I laughed ignoring his judgement. Men, they just would never understand.

We decided that Emily would get her toes and fingers done in a pale pink, very light and not too extravagant, she also wanted some glitter, which Eric agreed on. Eric was ankle deep in his foot spa, his eyes closed, head back on the head rest. I felt smug as anything.

“Told you it’s amazing.” I quipped. He just hummed. And I laughed, I kind of loved being right.

I didn’t get a break, of course not. My phone was, as always, red hot. Emails, texts, and yet more missed calls. I would be glad that once I got on the plane my phone would be off from Thursday morning until Sunday, hopefully. Pam was coming with us, and for that I was thankful, she would and could be counted on to take the heat off any situation with a remark or a classy change of subject, or, you know, just down right offend everyone and have the heat on her, she seemed to thrive in heated situations. I told Eric and he was fine with it, which I was glad about since he and Pam hadn’t really spent any time together outside of work and when they did, apparently, it wasn’t always pleasant. By the time we were done we were long over-due to be fed and Eric insisted on it being his turn. I couldn’t really argue with him as we took our seats at Dos Caminos and we began to go over our plans for the weekend, that is if the world didn’t end mid-trip.

We planned to ski, a lot, Eric knew how and he’d wanted to teach Emily. She wanted a snow board because ‘snow boards were cool’, where as the thing I was most looking forward to was the steam room on the third floor of the house my Gran owned out there. I hadn’t been there in years, Thanksgiving hadn’t been a real priority for me in a very long time. I looked at Eric and Emily, and how easily they fell into place with each other, and I realized that family – my family hadn’t been a priority much lately either.

“Are you instagraming your food?” I asked as he hovered his phone over his untouched plate as our food arrived. He just smirked.

“You are such a hipster.” I commented as I sipped my delicious blood orange margarita.

“Hey, you buy thousand dollar shoes, I have an addiction to photographing my food and making it look like an 80s photo, we all have our things.” He smiled, a deliberately dorky smile before he tucked into his Mexican plate. He then aimed his phone at Emily, who’s face was covered in the sauce from her enchilada, and it was right up to her nose. One thing about the Northman’s, they liked their grub that’s for sure. I blinked before I knew it his phone was aimed at me.

Gotcha.” He grinned.

“Lemme see it.” I demanded.

“Nope.” With that he tucked the phone away, leaving me clueless as to how dopey I looked on his Hipster-gram.

The server came after we’d finished up, dropped the bill that I didn’t have time to grab, but not before she made a comment.

“Was everything okay for you guys tonight?”

“It was great thank you.” Eric said, and I nodded in agreement, it really was great, I was stuffed.

“You guys are such a cute family. Thanks.” She said as she took Eric’s card, leaving us both a little red-faced.

He just laughed, awkwardly.

“So, nine am tomorrow morning?” I said changing the subject and hopefully saving us any embarrassment.

“Yep, nine. Do we come to you or -”

“Nah, I’ll come for you guys, one of me, two of you, makes the most sense. Pack warm.” I smiled as we got outside, the street lamps bathing the sidewalks in a warm orange hue, despite the bitter November cold.

“Sookie are you coming home with us?” Emily asked tugging at my hand, and I wanted to say yes, I wanted to go there and cuddle up with Eric like I had done the night before. But, I was approaching clinger territory, and I didn’t want that, I didn’t want to be that girl. We got two cabs, which in itself was a bit of a miracle, and Emily ran to hug me, squeezing me tight before she hopped into the waiting cab, leaving Eric and I to say our somewhat awkward goodnight.

“We’re weird, let’s just admit that so I can kiss you good night.” He said, blushing as he slid his fingers to my cheek and pulled me to him, planting a very sweet, chaste kiss on my mouth. It made me smile.

“So very weird.”

“Highly. 9am?”

“9am.” I muttered, pulling him back for a kiss of my own before we departed for the night.

Colorado, here we come.

EPOV:

“At least three pairs, Emily.”

“But, I don’t neeed underwear.”

“You do, what if you fall on your little butt and get soaked, you’re going to need spares, so actually pack four.”

She tutted to herself as I walked past her room.

“And four pairs of socks, and the new ones Sookie bought you too. Why she felt the need to buy you socks I do not know, you have like a million pair.”

“I hate socks. I hate packing.”

“Yeah, life is tough, such a hard life you have.” I said throwing some socks into her tiny suitcase while she tutted at me again. Yeah, we really weren’t morning people, Em’ and I, and being up at almost before dawn just wasn’t the ideal.

I was told any sports gear I needed would be provided, since her Grandmother usually had a lot of guests, and there was more than enough to fit everyone if we went to the resort, what I was told was a stone throw from her home. Nice for some, I thought.

I packed a smart casual suit, and I rolled my eyes at myself for even knowing now the difference in the suits I had in my closet. I knew I’d need something smart for dinner, given who I was dining with, it wouldn’t be like any other year where Emily and I rolled up with our store bought pies, in jeans and t-shirts. I wasn’t so much looking forward to being in the vicinity of Claudine and her claws, but I did hope that it put an end to whatever turmoil that was swirling between Sookie and her Grandmother. I hoped that it got resolved, one way or another, and that it would leave time for she and I to really address the status of our confusing relationship.

True to her word, Sookie – or I should say Hoyt, pulled up outside our building at eight fifty-five, with a text three minutes later, from Sookie saying she was here. Getting a now hyper excited Emily to the car with all our stuff was a struggle, but seeing Sookie clutching her coffee for dear life while her eyes were covered in what I assumed to be highly expensive sunglasses.

“Late night?”

“I may have thought I needed a little Dutch courage, and with Pam’s encouragement, we may have drunk enough for Denmark itself.”

I laughed, nice to see her letting loose, even if she was paying for it now.

“Pam is meeting us at the plane…”

Thirty minutes later, we drove up to the airstrip, and apparently we were flying in Stackhouse Style, private Jet style.

“Pretty swanky, Sook,” I commented as we all boarded and were greeted with champagne and orange juice, and the smell of what promised to be an amazing breakfast. Pam was already seated, her head back, sunglasses on.

“Northman, please tell me you aren’t one of those happy, shiny, morning people.”

“I’m not.” I answered her, with a smirk I was sure she couldn’t see.

“Hi PAM!” Emily said, hopping into the seat next to her, waiting patiently to be acknowledged.

Pam sighed, and sat up, tilting her glasses down just enough to look at Emily. Annoyed wasn’t even the word.

“Hello, Emily. Are YOU a shiny, happy, morning person?”

“I don’t know what that means, I’m not made of silver so I guess I’m not shiny.”

I smirked.

“You’re a smart-ass kid you know that.”

She just giggled before taking a sip of her orange juice in a very lady like manner.

“Sookie?”

“Yes?” She answered taking her seat next to me, having had a chat with the Captain and the staff before hand, they were shutting up the doors and what not.

“Where are all the other people?”

With that Sookie laughed, putting down her coffee, and her juice.

“There are no other people, not on this plane ride. It’s my …business that owns the plane, so we get to fly alone!”

“Really? That’s cooool!” She was practically bouncing. “Eric can I have the window seat? I wanna look!” I rolled my eyes, but of course I indulged her, the last time she’d flown she was a baby, and first time on a private Jet was a big deal. Sookie scooted out, let Em’ in and I took Em’ seat next to Pam, facing Sookie.

“We just have to sit tight for take off, then you can walk around until they say otherwise. There’s a bedroom back there, bath, shower, and the staff serve breakfast about ten minutes after take off.

Emily conked out about a half hour into the flight, and Pam had retreated to the bedroom to sleep, apparently she and Sookie really had hit the sauce after yoga then night before, I couldn’t help but find it funny how they were off relaxing and purifying their bodies, only to screw that all to hell and get sloshed. Sookie and I had gone over what we were going to do, say, not say, it was at that point Pam muttered something about ‘kidding yourselves’ and went into the next room to lay down. Emily was secured on the large cream leather couch, across from which was where I was texting the office and fielding calls, as Sookie and I picked at the array of food in front of us.

“Gran puts on a massive feast, last time I went I gained six pounds in as many days” she smiled.

“Nice!”

“It is, I mean, knife in the back sessions aside, we used to be a really normal family. It’s only since college that things got… tense, I guess? Ever since I started at the business full time anyway.” She exhaled and looked out the window.

“And you think you taking over, will only make that worse?”

She looked at me, and for the first time I noticed how sad her eyes looked, this pained her.

“Yes,” she sighed, “I don’t want it to, and with Jason, of all people I hope that it doesn’t, with Gran, I just don’t know if she can ever truly let go. And as far as Claudine is concerned, well, fuck her and her concerns.”

“It’ll be okay, Sook. You know? I’ve got your back, so does Pam, and more terrifyingly, so does Emily. You’re not alone in this, so whatever it is that’s swirling around in that head of yours, getting you drunk, and freaking you out. It’ll be okay.”

She looked at me then, surprise in her eyes, as if she hadn’t realized that I had seen how distracted she was, that I hadn’t noticed how freaked out she was when in reality she should have been walking on a cloud. Going to her Grandmother’s, boyfriend in toe, completing the inane task set by said Grandmother for the job of her life. Something had changed in the weeks since we had signed those contracts, and I knew it wasn’t just our intimacy levels, our relationship, it was her. Something in her changed and I was beyond curious to find out exactly what that was, and why, and just what exactly this change meant. I guess I was about to find out, one way or another.


Chapter 27: Chapter 27


Winner of the vote! New Devil for everyone! Tell me what you think, Loves!


SPOV:

When we landed we were taken by SUV from the airstrip the forty-five minute drive to my Grandmother’s estate in Colorado. We were another ten minute drive from an amazing resort, one that I hadn’t let myself loose on for snow sports in a long time. I had to admit, I was getting as excited as Emily at the prospect.

We arrived to a front of house full of large SUV and Jeep vehicles, which meant everyone, or almost everyone had arrive. I took a very large calming breath as we hauled our luggage out of the trunk, and headed for the front door, that was of course unlocked.

“Hello, anyone home?” I called out as I peeked my head around the door, as the other followed me. Before I had stepped four steps into the large entrance hall, Gran came around the corner, big smile on her face and her favorite apron in place.

“Sookie, Darling! I’m so glad you’re here! Pamela! Eric, and Emily, hello, hello, please come in!” She said, grabbing me for a hug and squeezing ever so tight. I just smiled and took it for what it was, a rarity these days between she and I. After me she went for Eric, he got a hug, as did Pam and finally Emily, who was suddenly very shy. She clung to Eric as we left our things in the hallway and made our way into the kitchen. The smell of food meeting us every step of the way.

“You all must be hungry!”

“We got food, on the flight, but dinner smells amazing!”

“We should be ready to sit down around four, four thirty at the latest. We’re still waiting on Claudine and her crew.” Gran said as she checked on the turkey, and I took a look around. She had redecorated since I’d been here last, everything was a lot more ‘country kitchen’ than it had been before. It almost felt like our old place in Louisiana for a second.

“Jason and the kids are in the process of unpacking, Crystal is laying down, your Grandfather’s cousins will be here around three.”

“Is Great-Aunt Shelia coming?” I asked, suddenly excited. I hadn’t seen her in forever and a day, and I always enjoyed Shelia.

“Yes, she’s on her way, her husband couldn’t come.”

“His name is Tom, Gran you can say his name.”

Shelia was my Grandfather’s sister, and her husband was Tom Warrington, someone who in my whole life I never heard Gran ever say a good word about. I never really knew why.

“Yes, well, thankfully he’s away on business, but we all know that’s bull.”

Adele Stackhouse was hitting seventy, and still had the sharp wit of a eighteen year old, and the temper too.

“Well, I’ll be glad to see her,” I said as I looked to Emily who had taken her seat next to me at the table as Gran made conversation with Pam and Eric about the flight and New York and that she hoped they weren’t allergic to anything, or one of those ‘funny vegan people’. I just shook my head. “I think I’ll go and unpack, you guys want me to show you around?” I said to Eric and Em’, mostly because Pam and I had been here before and she knew her way around, she was also helping herself to one of Gran’s special adult ‘punch’ drinks from the fridge, and I figured we could change and give them a chance to catch up.

“This place is … massive, Sook.” Eric commented as we took the second staircase up to where I assumed their rooms would be, next to mine.

“It is, overly so. They bought it in the early nineties though, when it was going for a song really. Granddad loved this place, and they made a lot of additions on and on too and soon it was this size and a bit obnoxious to boot.”

Eric nodded.

“It’s homely though, for somewhere so huge.”

“It can be, let’s hope the atmosphere stays that way too.”

Lizzie and Darcy came thundering out of one of the rooms to the left, excited to see their new playmate. Within seconds it was decided that Emily was rooming with them in the kids room. I peaked inside and Jason was unpacking their little things into the drawers, the room had two sets of bunk beds, and more toys than I could count. Play heaven.

“Hey Sis!” he said, looking up and then coming towards me for a hug. Second hug in less than a half hour, wonders would never cease.

“Hey you. I guess Emily is staying in here then?”

“That’s cool, I’m glad they get along, I want the kids to be socialized.” He nodded, very serious on the matter. I smiled. I liked that he was a good dad, or at the very least tried to be. It was sweet and something I knew he always wanted from our parents died.

“That’s a good goal.” I added awkwardly.

“Hey, listen Sook, I know you and Gran had stuff to discuss this weekend, but I just want you to know, I support whatever changes are coming.”

“You do?” I was shocked.

“Sure. I’m not really at home there, you know that, and besides if I’m demoted, it’ll give me more time to do the things I want to do too. So really, we all get what we want, right?”

But, it wasn’t what I wanted, not anymore.

“Sure! Great.”

He beamed at me, as the kids decided they were building a fort.

“I’m going to get settled in, talk to you soon though?”

“I’ll be around.” He smiled again, and I walked out of the room and across the hall into mine and Eric’s room. There was no debate, we were sharing because well, we were a couple pretending to be a couple who were, actually, pretty much a couple.

Oy I was giving myself a headache.

Eric was diligently putting the clothes in the drawers too, hanging his suits in the closet, placing his shoes at the bottom of the closet too. I stood in the doorway and just watched how careful he was with everything, finding its place.

He sensed me after a few seconds or so, as I stood there, he tuned, a curious look on his face.

“You okay?”

I snapped out of whatever daze I had been in.

“Yeah, just tired I guess. Not much sleep was had last night.” I sighed, walking over and throwing myself with a bounce on the extremely large made up bed. The room was large and south facing, allowing us a view of the mountains from every window. A few seconds later, the weight on the bed shifted and Eric was next to me with a content sigh also.

“Em’ will love the snow, once we get time. I used to love snow as a kid. When we’d go to Sweden on vacation, I loved it. Dad and I would build snow men and go up to the mountains and board or just mess around. Mom hated it, of course. She preferred the Swedish summers to the dark, miserable Winters.” He smiled, looking at the ceiling. “My Grandparents had a place, it got great snowfall, and a frozen lake for skating, dangerous as hell of course, but we never seemed to mind.”

I smiled, recalling my own memories of my parents, as few and far between as they were now. We’d always go skating as soon as the lake got hard enough, always get messy and cold, and probably caught a flu or two in the process, but it would be me, mom, dad, and Jason just messing around too, making snow angels and the like.

“Memories are good things to have.” I mused as I scooted closer to his body, aiming for an Eric snuggle.

He gave good snuggle.

“They are, they’re even better to create than to look back on though. I want lots of good memories for Emily. Is it weird that I think about that?”

“Hmm. No. I don’t think it is, it means you’re being a good bro-ad.”

He squinted at me.

“And just what is a bro-ad?”

I smiled remembering the funny conversation.

“What Emily decided you were. Kind of a dad-brother mash-up, bro-ad. I thought it was adorable.”

“Women are strange, even little tiny ones with word hyphenating abilities.” He giggled, wrapping his arms around me and pulling me to his chest.

Cuddle winning for Sookie!

“Can I tell you something?” I began, unsure of where to really begin with my thought process.

“Of course.”

“The reason we’re here? If she decides in my favour?”

“Yeah?” He asked, his playful face gone, in place now was his serious listening face.

“I -”

“Sookie? Eric? I made snacks until – Oh…Sorry.” Gran said as she came through the door, witnessing us both on the bed.

I got up, and I noticed Eric was blushing.

“Nothing to be sorry about, we were just talking. Snacks you say?”

“Just some pecan pie and some Ambrosia for the kids while we wait for the turkey and everything. Oh, and Claudine is here.”

“Yay,” I said sarcastically, “Can’t wait.”

“Now, Sookie I know you and she have your… differences, but please for this weekend…”

“Gran, I’m not here to start anything. I’m here because you asked us here, end of story. I just don’t want to deal with her, so the less I see her the better it is for all of us. It’s a big enough house I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

“I just want all my family under one roof for one weekend is that so much to ask, Sookie Stackhouse? Is it so much to ask you be civil like your Momma and Daddy, and I taught you?”

I felt bad then, seeing her side of things, she did just want some time with us all like the old days.

“No, Ma’am.”

“No, well then, please. Try.” She asked before she leaned in and kissed me on the forehead. I just shrugged.

“When are we going to settle our … little issue.” I asked, just getting it out there. She sighed.

“Soon my love, let’s just enjoy our Thanksgiving first, huh?”

I nodded, I knew she’d drag it out, and for once I didn’t blame her. One way or another with the way my thought process was going, it was going to cause a lot of friction.

“Eric honey are you hungry, what would you like? There’s plenty in the fridge and I just want you and Emily to treat this place as if it were your own okay? Just help yourself.”

“Oh… thank you Adele, that’s very kind of you.”

“Kind nothing, you and Sookie…” she smiled, almost proud looking, it was a little embarrassing, “well you’re both so cute…”

“Gran…”

“Fine, fine, but I thought it so I said it and there it is. Anyway, come on down will you?”

“We will, we’re just going to change.”

“Of course. See you in a bit, I’m going to get the kids.”

With that she exited, closing the bedroom door behind her leaving me to look at a rather bashful looking Eric.

“She seems… relaxed.” he said, unbuttoning his pants beginning to change clothes.

“Drunk.” I said, slipping off my shoes and rooting through my case for what I was going to wear.

“Really?” He burst out laughing, shaking his head as he moved on to his sweater.

“Yup. Cooking Sherry, she takes sips and sips, and she’s got zero tolerance what so ever, so that with her ‘ little glass of wine’ means she’ll be sloshed by dinner. It’s fun.”

“Fun times to be had then, what if we get you drunk too? Would hilarity ensue? You’re fun drunk.”

“As in, I’m not fun sober, thanks.”

“You’re fun drunk or sober, as long as there are no back to back meetings.” He chuckled.

“I’m awesome you shush.” I joked, peeling off my last layer, leaving me standing there in my underwear, as I reached for my dress, I caught his eye. He was staring.

“What?” I giggled, trying to ignore the look on his face.

“Nothing… just you know, enjoying the view.” With that he looked me up and down again, painfully slowly. I tried to ignore the chills the simple action gave me.

“We so don’t have time for this…” I said, probably more to myself than him, as all I really wanted to do was jump him there and then. He just smirked, and continued changing. It was going to be a long night, maybe the distraction of wanting him naked would make it go that much faster, well, hope springs eternal and all that, I guess.

EPOV:

Sookie’s face lit up when her Great Aunt rounded the corner of the large plush living room, hugs were had and laughs were exchanged, Shelia was a character that’s for sure. Right off the bat calling Adele a stick in the mud, and Claudine her husband and Sookie’s Ex Ralph and their kid, Mila came through. Mila was a tall girl, a lot other than Jason’s kids and Emily, so she wasn’t really fitting in by the looks of things as they ignored her and she favoured to sit by her mother with her nose in a book. Everyone spoke and exchanged pleas raises, but then conversation seemed to break off and I noticed Mila curl up even more. She looked like her father, at least hair and eyes, she had Claudine’s mouth, but seemingly her father’s quiet personality too. I noticed Sookie noticing her, pretending she wasn’t, pretending that the look on her face wasn’t one of pain. It had to suck for her, the kid was the reason she and Ralph broke up, it had to sting to say the least to be reminded of that so often.

By the time we all sat down for dinner, everyone was starving and really ready for the insanely large feast of food Adele had put on. There was everything sprawled a cross the dinning room table, and two other tables besides. I counted six different kinds of pie, about a dozen bottles of wine, the biggest turkey I’ve ever seen in my life – perfectly roasted might I add. Hams, potatoes – in various different incarnations, more pie, three large gravy boats, mixed veg, roasted veg, boiled veg.

It was a little overwhelming.

Sookie was seated next to me, and Emily was on my other side, next to Lizzie. She leaned in as we started filling our plates.

“Is it difficult?” she asked.

“Huh?”

“Resisting the urge to Instagam all of this for posterity?”

I just rolled my eyes, ignoring just how right she was.

Adele welcomed everyone, and started her ‘thankful’ prayer, stating how thankful she was to be alive and well, and have her family well and around her in one piece. She was thankful for her grand-kids and great grand-kids, and for a granddaughter and grandson that worked as hard as they did for her name and her company. She looked to Sookie as she raised her glass, and I swore I saw Sookie blush a little at the attention. Pam raised her glass and said she was thankful for her loved ones, few and far between as they were they were all – each and everyone important. She was thankful for a job she loved, and a boss she loved liked a sister. I thought it was very sweet, and out of the character Pam liked to project. Everyone said their piece, and then it came to me, and the focus of everyone in the room being on me made me breakout in a cold sweat.

Jesus.

I rolled off how I was thankful for my family, and my friends and all the new friends I’d made in the year past. It seemed to do the trick and soon it was Sookie’s turn.

“Well, I’m thankful for my classes in public speaking at college,” she laughed, “I’m thankful for my lovely friends who I would be lost without, my new friends too that I’ve come to rely on and to realize that it’s okay to do that and not look weak.” Her hand went to my knee at that, I found it comforting, “for the family I was born into, we might not always see eye-to-eye but you’re family and more and more I’m realizing how important that is.” She gave my knee a squeeze and I was very happy in the knowledge that I was influencing her in such a positive way, I felt weirdly proud.

After dinner, everyone was suitable stuffed and the kids were wrecked, a nap was definitely needed, and it wasn’t something I was going to say no to myself, either. We all agreed we’d rest up and hit the indoor pool around six. Indoor pool, heated, jetted, the whole nine. I think Emily’s eyes just about fell out of her head when she heard that.

Jason’s kids, Claudine’s daughter and Em’ were all tucked up in the cinema room, complete with blankets, after desert. Sookie and I decided to join them in the back on one of the double bed-like seats for a showing of The Wizard of Oz. We’d been tucked up together maybe twenty minutes when she leaned on my shoulder.

“I don’t want it.”

“Want what?” I whispered back, even though we were far enough from the kids to not be heard, I didn’t want to be heard either way.

“The job. If she offers it to me, I just… don’t want it. Not anymore.”

That stunned me to say the very least.

“W-what? Why? When did this happen?”

She shrugged.

” I don’t know, not exactly. But something in me changed recently, and I don’t know what I’m going to do if she offers it to me now. After everything I’ve gone though, and now my head is like ‘so what?’. I’m so confused.”

I nodded. Not really sure what to say to her, I knew there was something brewing inside her, this was a huge surprise. She loved her job, she was fantastic at it, she was known as a Head Bitch In Charge by so many in her field, and at twenty-nine, that was no easy feat.

“There’s something else you have in mind isn’t there?” People like Sookie didn’t just up sticks and leave something without a backup plan, she was smart.

“My designs, I was thinking about actually doing something with them. I contacted some design houses, and the response has been positive, but I haven’t taken any major steps other than a few phone calls.”

“I… it’s a huge thing, Sook. Huge.” I whispered.

“I know, hence the mind-numbing fear,” she sighed snuggling up to me some more. I liked when she did that, I liked being close to her, even just like this. “But it all depends on what her answer is, this weekend. If she realizes how wrong she’s been with this whole mess, I may reconsider, and if not…”

“If not?”

“Then … I guess I walk. If she refuses to promote me to where I rightfully belong, then I can’t stay, it would be too humiliating for one thing, but for another, it would be freeing.”

“And you say that even if she does it’s not what you want, so maybe you walk anyway?”

“Maybe. It’s still something I’m trying to figure out, but I don’t think I’ll truly know where my heart lies until I’m on the brink of the decision, you know?”

“So, you’ll know when you know?” I smirked, complicated women were indeed complicated.

“Something like that. I guess we just wait and see which way my instinct goes.”

What I didn’t know was that Sookie’s instinct would lead her in the right direction, but where the hell did that leave me?


A/N: As always, love to know what you guys are thinking! 🙂


Chapter 28: Chapter 28


SPOV:

With all the kids asleep it was time for the adults to mingle, and while the thought of mingling anywhere near Claudine made me eye roll, I guess it had to be done. I stuck by Eric and Pam and Aunt Sheila to be on the safe side of my rants.

“Now Sookie I’m not saying anything, but that man… of yours…” She said giving Eric the once over, as he fixed himself and Pam a drink at the pull out bar in the middle of the living room. “He’s gorgeous, and polite. And not that faux polite either, that New York City big I am, sleaze polite.” She whispered, her focus back on me now. “He has nice eyes, and he’s good with kids, what else do we need to know?”

I laughed as I sipped my second margarita of the night, I always enjoyed Sheila’s banter, she was so liberal it was almost comical.

“He’s a good one, I know, but we’re very new, so there’s to be no pressure or talk that’ll freak him out from you. Having Gran on our ass is bad enough.”

She grinned.

“He does have a nice ass now that you mention it.”

“Aunt Sheila!”

“Oh pish posh darling, you get on that and enjoy the ride is what I say, as if you’re not. If I was fifty years younger you know I would.”

With that I had to laugh, she was right though in every sense of her words even if she was kidding. The double doors to the patio were open, despite the snow, Gran always was one for outdoor seating, and of course here had heaters, and the Jacuzzi that no one was brave enough to use yet, lots of string lights and a fire pit. It really was stunning. She took a lot of pride in her homes, something I think I got from her, and it certainly deserved its praise.

“Clearly little Emily adores you, I never really saw you as the mothering kind, if you don’t mind me saying so.”

“I don’t mind, I didn’t see myself there either truth be told. But, she’s a cool kid, low maintenance, and we like some of the same things, so it’s good. I mean I am scared, but not… if that makes any sense.” I shook my head, I had no idea what I was talking about.

“When I had my kids, I was terrified constantly from the moment I found out until Eliza turned… I think six months old. By then, I figured, ‘hey she’s not dead maybe I’m not half as bad as I think’. ” She smiled. “And from then on out I let my instinct guide me. If you’ve been doing that thus far, and I know you and you trust your instinct Sookie, then you’ll do fine.”

I saw Eric and Pam go out to the seating outside, deep in conversation which I was kind of glad about. I was hoping one day Pam would stop treating Eric like the ‘puppy’ of the office and see him for what he was, a great guy. I was hoping this trip would help them bond a little so I let them be.

“Your Grandmother told me about her little ultimatum. I can’t say I agree with it, personally I thought it was extreme.” She jerked her brows, sipping her whiskey, “But, Adele always had her way of doing things that just plain confused me. If it was me, you would have taken over that company years ago, I would have stepped down the minute I saw what you were capable of.”

I smiled.

“That means a lot, thank you.”

“You did good, Sook. Real good. And don’t let them or anyone else tell you different because you want to go about doing your good, your way. Fuck ’em.”

I broke away from the conversation to go to the bathroom, that was the thing about cocktails, they seemed to shrink a girls bladder. The window was open, looking out onto the deck, and as I was washing my hands I noticed Eric sitting by the pit, alone, only not for long. Claudine approached him, taking her seat next to him. He went from relaxed to uncomfortable in a split second, I guess the Wicked Witch of the Upper West Side had that effect. I made a note to not drink anymore, I wanted to chuckle at the joke in my own head, time to stop drinking; I thought.

What it wasn’t though was time to stop watching Claudine and Eric, that I was most interested in.

“You know I am really surprised you’re here.” She said to him, crossing her legs, leaning in his direction.

“Why’s that?”

“Just that Sookie isn’t exactly known for being in it for the long haul, she’s more a … get it and go, kinda girl.”

“Is that so…” he looked bored, and reached into his pocket for his phone.

“Yeah, she is. Just a little… friendly advice, Eric. I really wouldn’t invest too much time or emotions into whatever this little thing she has going with you. She’ll get bored eventually, and you and poor little Emily will be the ones to suffer, she’ll use you and forget you, just like that.”

He looked at her then, sharply, just as my phone started to buzz in the pocket of my jeans. It was a text, from him.

Help needed, behind enemy lines!”

I laughed at his words, and that his first thought had been to silently scream for help from her.

“Claudine, I don’t really think it’s any of your business what I or Emily do. Certainly none of your business what Sookie does. But then again you have a way of sticking your nose, and your vagina in her business a lot from what I’ve heard.”

My eyes went wide, polite Eric was clearly on a break, she was furious.

“I’m just giving you fair warning, that’s all. There is no need to be rude!”

“I’m sure there is no need, but I just wanted to be. I don’t like you and I don’t like your ‘friendly advice’ either. It’s as necessary as me being rude to you.”

“She’s still in love with him, you know.” She said, loudly, as she stood to leave. It halted him where he stood, and I only hoped he wasn’t giving her words any weight.

“What?” He asked, clearly tense. I could see it in his shoulders from above.

“Ralph. She’s still in love with him, and him with her, it’s actually pathetic, but whatever it was they had… it never went away. I was never her, and you’ll never be him. Don’t make the same mistake that I did.” With that she stood up and walked into the house, leaving a visibly annoyed Eric standing on his lonesome.

That bitch.

I all but stormed down the hall, and down the stairs and by the time I got to the bottom I was still unsure of what I wanted to do first. Wig the shit out of Claudine, or make sure Eric was okay. I was wondering if I could do both at once?

Hmm.

That’s when Ralph came out of the library.

“Sookie! Hey. I was hoping I would catch you.”

“Oh, hey. Um I’m a little busy right now…”

Wanting to slap your stupid wife silly.

“I know, you’re always a busy bee… I was hoping we could talk for a second though, please?”

“I…” I pointed to the entrance to the other rooms.

“I know, but, five minutes?”

I conceded, I felt bad for the poor bastard, and decided to give him his five minutes and walked into the library where there was thankfully a roaring fire and a TV too.

I took a seat, he took the one next to me. I still had this anxious feeling in my stomach, I wanted to go to Eric. I wanted to pull Claudine’s hair, but I could do neither because Ralph was sitting next to me looking a lot older than his thirty one years.

“I miss talking to you, you know? I always think I’d like to know what you think of certain things sometimes. What would Sookie do?” He smiled, pouring himself a whiskey from the canter, adding some ice. “Drink?”

“Uh, sure…lots of ice.”

“I know, you were never really a whiskey girl.”

“Nope.”

“Not after that night anyway.”

“You have to remind me?”

He laughed.

“Of you yakking your guts all over the sidewalk of Central Park?”

“I haven’t mixed my drinks since, so lessons were learned.” I said accepting his drink.

“I wish I learned mine as easily.”

I bristled.

“Ralph, I’m not here for this.”

“No, I know, you’re over it, and rightly so. I just… I never apologized, you know? We said so many things but I never did say how sorry I was.”

“You married her, you … have a kid. A very sweet, cute kid. It was a long ass time ago, Ralph, and I’ve not been sitting for ten years holding my breath for a sorry that meant very little to both of us.”

He nodded, looking well and truly chastised. It wasn’t really my intention, but then again it wasn’t really my intention to be nice, either.

“Would it make you feel better if I said I regretted it every day for the past ten years?”

I tensed up. Would it? Maybe a little. But then where did that leave Mila? With a dad that regretted having her? That was shitty. Before getting to know Eric and Emily I probably wouldn’t have given that kid a second thought, now though, my heart broke for her.

“That’s your problem, not mine.”

“I am sorry, Sookie. I’m sorry I did what I did with her, to you, to us.”

Again, his deal, not mine.

“It hurt, a lot for a long time. I hated you. I hated her, and I hated the stupid kid. But then, just like most things, it passed. It passed and I grew up and I got over it.”

“You still hate Claudine.” He stated as fact.

“Yes, but that’s because Claudine is a cunt, and that is neither here nor there.” I stood to leave.

“I’m leaving her.” He said, a edge of desperation in his voice. It matched his appearance perfectly.

“Good for you.”

“Sookie please! -” He grabbed my arm, but I wanted out of there.

With that Eric pushed open the library door, an unreadable look on his face.

“There you are,” he said, still stoic.

“Hi. I was just coming to get you. I’m really tired and I think we should go to bed. Good idea?”

Eric looked from me, to Ralph, his eyes hard, and back to me again.

“Sure. Let’s go.”

I nodded, more than enthusiastic to get the fuck up out of there.

“Night, Ralph.” I called over my shoulder and grabbing Eric’s hand and all but running out the door. We ascended the stairs silently and went into our room, and finally shut the madness out.

I exhaled.

“Peace at last.” I commented, slipping off my shoes and noticed he was undressing facing away from me.

“Are you okay?”

Silence.

“Eric?”

He stripped off his shirt, pants and t-shirt, leaving him grabbing his shower gel in just his Batman boxers and glasses.

“I’m fine.” He all but snapped before he stomped his way to the en-suite bathroom.

Fine my ass.

EPOV:

It was stupid, I knew it was stupid as I was feeling it. And yet, I couldn’t not feel it. I was jealous of him… Even if Claudine’s words were meant to rattle me, they’d worked. Seeing her with that guy, seeing her deer in the headlights look… It was all just bad timing. So there I was showering angrily, I was shocked my hair didn’t come out of my head I was shampooing so hard.

The shower door yanked open by a pissed looking Sookie moments later, she stood there, in her underwear, one hand on her hip, her serious business face in place.

“You are not fine. What the fuck?”

“Go away.”

“You go away.” She bit back.

“I’m in the shower.”

“Eric, what the fuck? Is this because of what Claudine said to you?”

“You heard that?” I turned to face her.

“Yes, I was on my way down to rescue you from her clutches when sad-sad Ralph convinced me to talk to him. That’s it.”

See, now I felt even more stupid than I had before.

“Oh…”

“Yeah. Oh.” With that, she slinked off her bra and underwear, never a sight I thought I’d ever tire of and she stepped under the double shower head with me. Her hands on my wet chest, she was looking at me intently.

“I don’t love him. She’s full of shit.” Straight and to the point, I don’t know why I expected anything less from her.

“He still loves you though, you could see that in his face.”

“Could you? Mostly I just saw a stupid jackass that lost the best thing to ever happen to him, who married a girl he didn’t love out of guilt and responsibility and is about to leave a kid without a Dad because he can’t stand the mother. That’s what I saw.”

Damn she was good.

“Even if he still loves me, he doesn’t really love ME. The me that I am now is not the me I was at Twenty one. For one thing my ass is nowhere near where it used to be.”

My face broke into a smile and she looked smug.

“Good, I thought your face might be stuck like that.” With that she stood on her tip toes, and kissed me on the nose.

“Sookie what are we doing?”

“Well, we’re in a shower, naked, wet and slippery, there are only so many ways this ends.” She smirked, her finger tracing down my chest and stomach until she stopped as she grabbed my dick.

“I … don’t just mean right now.”

“I know.” She kissed me, and I more than willingly kissed her back, allowing myself to get lost in the touch of her hands working to get me hard, the feel of her kisses on my mouth, the smell of her hair all overwhelming my senses.

“Because we haven’t ever…”

“I know…”

“But now the timing sucks because you have my dick in your hands and all I can think about is how good that feels and fuck…” she smiled against my cheek and picked her moment to tighten her grip, and speed up her moves. The soapy water causing a slipper action that felt just, oh, so nice. I couldn’t think of anything else but the feelings I was experiencing, how amazing her breasts looked all wet and soapy, and just how much I wanted to be inside of her. Logical thoughts could wait, sexy times, I knew, could not. So we didn’t wait, in fact I wasn’t even sure I fully washed the shampoo out of my hair before I had her up against the cool shower wall. Shower sexing was difficult, it was a balancing act more than anything else. But thankfully this massive shower also came with a built in ‘step’ of sorts. One assumes it was in place for easier leg shavings or if you just got so tired you needed to sit down, but the sexual among us knew it was there, for easier shower sexing, and I thanked the shower making Gods in that moment when I took the seat, and Sookie took hers right on top of me and we lost our proper shower sexing virginity as a …whatever we were ‘couple’. I couldn’t feel my legs for about ten minutes afterward. Shower sexing Sookie had some moves that’s for sure!

We went to bed happy, if a little damp and I woke up the next morning to an empty bed. By the time I got to the kitchen, I saw Sookie and all the kids there, she was cooking with Adele, Jason was tying his boy’s boots, and Emily was munching on her French toast.

“Morning Eric.” Adele said, making Sookie turn from the pan to face me. She was blushing, but she smiled.

“Yes, morning to you too.”

I didn’t care either way that people were watching, I walked over and pecked her on the cheek.

“Good morning, something smells good.”

“New batch of eggs is almost ready.”

I leaned in, “I didn’t mean that.”

She laughed, nervously before shaking her head and telling me to take a seat. I watched her as Adele watched us even more closely.

“Are we hitting the ski today guys?” I asked and the kids got excited.

“Sookie said after we eat and settle we can go!” Emily said as stood up on the stool she was sitting on. I grabbed her and sat her back down.

“Sitting is good. Sit. Finish. Good morning.” I said, as she then kissed me on the cheek.

“And we’re gonna ski and we’re gonna play on the lifts and Darcy said there’s this cool place where there is hot chocolate and marshmallows! Can we do that too?”

Excited kid was excited.

Breakfast eaten and kids booted up, we finally got them all together and ready; we made a break for it. Adele, Sheila, Claudine, Ralph and Mila in one car. Sookie, me, Emily and the trouble twins with Jason and Crystal in another. We left Pam skyping with her girlfriend as she wanted a lazy day and had opted out of any ‘strenuous activities’ and was happy to chill alone. By the time we got to the resort, four of the ladies opted to sit it all out and go to the lounge for ‘hot toddies’ – which is when Great Aunt Sheila decided to make a joke in my direction that I was the hot toddy she wanted if Sookie wouldn’t mind. Jason found this hilarious and proceeded to tease me the entire way up the mountain. Claudine and her miserable husband sat it out, sending Mila with Jason and the twins, as well as Sookie and me. By the time we all got to the middle, kitted out and ready to go, Emily had fallen on her ass four times already. But, because there were other kids, she wasn’t getting grumpy, she was getting hyper. The other kids knew what they were doing, and Sookie took them with Jason up and down a couple of times, while I taught Emily the basics. She caught on quickly with the poles for balance. She fell on her ass some more, and I fake fell just to make her feel better. Of course my ass landed on a rock, thus making me feel worse. But we were having a good time, and sure maybe my Instagram caught that time on record not that Sookie needed to know that.

The third time Sookie came back up, she was flushed, her cheeks were red and she was laughing with Darcy and Jason over something that Lizzie had said.

“We miss you guys, you think you’re ready yet, Emily?” she asked coming by us. Emily suddenly got shy again.

“I don’t know if I want to go down so fast.”

“Aw honey, no. You don’t have to go so fast. How about we let Eric and the boys go and we ladies take things at a more leisurely pace? What do you say Lizzie?”

Lizzie agreed, and she waved me off to go with Jason and Darcy, it seemed the girls wanted to hang out on the snow just to hang out. I made sure Emily was okay with it, which was stupid because of course she was, her idol Sookie was there, she was fine. Jason, Darcy and I did a few rounds, not as fast as we would have alone, because as good as this kid was, he was still just that, a kid. But, he was fly, and cocky, and hilarious. Kinda like his dad.

“You know Eric, I know me and you never really get a shot at hanging out, we work apart an all, and my sister is usually top secret on who she’s dating… but you’re cool you know? You know more about IronMan than my kid, and he loves that shit. And my sister seems happy, like real happy for the first time in a long time.” He said patting me on the back as we retired for the day, to the bar lounge for some fries and some beers. The girls were still nowhere to be found.

“Thanks, I um…appreciate that?”

“You should, Sookie don’t let a lot of people in you know, and the ones she used to… well…” he rolled his eyes, “I can’t say much before of…little ears.” Darcy was munching happily on his fries, inhaling his Pepsi. “But, I’m just glad she’s making good choices, personally. Professionally she blows us all away.”

“So then why not give her the job?”

“Hey, I would man, if it were up to me, but Gran hired me and in the contact she gets to choose the replacements. Otherwise, hell, I’d have given this to Sookie years ago if it was what she wanted. She does it so well, I don’t know really what Gran was thinking hiring me. I know she wanted to give my life some structure an all, but now I’m married and have kids, I’m not the man-whore I used to be.”

“Not even with Sophie?” Sure we were cool, but he was lying.

His face dropped when I mentioned her.

“Sophie and I haven’t been…friends…in a long time. That stuff… was a mistake.”

“She doesn’t seem to think it’s been a long time.”

“I want it to be a long time ago. I keep trying to distance myself.”

“So distance… Crystal seems nice, and she cares and she’s the mother of your kids. I just… I don’t think Sophie would be worth risking all that for.”

He nodded, sipping his beer. I hoped he knew what I was saying, because Sophie had it in her head that she was the next Mrs Jason Stackhouse. With that I got a text from Sookie.

Food! Second floor, table three by the window!’

“I guess the girls went to get food, they’re upstairs.” I said and we got up to go, before Jason stopped his son.

“Hey, Darcy think you could eat again? And maybe not tell your mom I got you fries?”

He just rolled his eyes, as if this happened all the time.

“Sure thing Dad.”

All the ladies were chowing down by the time we got there, and thankfully Sookie ordered for us, I was so glad to see food, not realizing just how hungry I was.

“So, Emily, how’d it go?” I asked nudging her.

“Good. Really good, I fell a couple of times and hurt my butt, but its okay because then we went and… I’m not suppose to tell you…”

I looked to Sookie who just pretended she didn’t see me, looking out the window suddenly enthralled by what was outside.

“Emily…”

With that Lizzie started to giggle, as did Mila. Soon Crystal was giggling too.

“Spill.” Jason asked Lizzie. She shook her head. Adele was laughing, as was Sheila. Claudine was sighing into her salad. Her SALAD. Everyone else was starving and tucking into dinner food, she had tomatoes and leaves, only, and water. God, how boring.

I tickled Emily and she squirmed.

“Okay. Okay, Okay. Sookie and Crystal…” she giggled still, “took us to the hot tub and we got juices and fruit and stuff.”

Ah, and suddenly Sookie’s relaxed face made sense.

“And what did Sookie and Crystal get done?”

I looked at Sookie’s freshly polished hands and laughed. Ever the opportunist.

“Okay so we took the girls to get their nails done…and some warm water jet action. Emily hurt her butt, I was just being nice.”

I glared, fake of course, which made them laugh even more.

“Woman you have an addiction to nail salons.”

She just stuck her tongue out at me. It set the tone for the rest of the night, that was for sure.

The kids were swimming, there was just about every floating plastic animal imaginable in the poor with them, and they, even Mila, were having a blast. I was wrecked, as was Sookie, and from the looks of it, just about everyone but the kids wanted to go to bed. But, Jason’s kid’s nanny was watching them, so we all hung out again, this time out by the fire pit. I wanted a fire pit, fire pits were awesome. As were the roasted marshmallows Sookie was currently devouring.

“You might want to watch how many of those you eat, Sookie, you don’t want to get any fatter.” Claudine called from her seat, earning her the side-eye from everyone else. Sookie just chuckled handing me my smore..

“Like you, you mean? You’re right we wouldn’t want that.”

Sookie 1, Cuntdine 0.

“Sookie, Jason, could I talk to you both in private?” Adele came out, her cup of tea in hand. With that Sookie looked at me, eyes full of apprehension.

I guess Adele had made her decision.

“Sure, Gran, be right in.” Sookie called as Adele walked inside, she squeezed my hand as she passed me in a silent gesture of solidarity, I squeezed back. Whatever Sookie decided in that room, whatever Adele decided too, would alter what we had going for Sookie and I. One way or another truthfully I wasn’t sure what either direction meant, because we didn’t have ‘the talk’ when the talk should have been had. Limbo wasn’t a nice place to be that much I knew for sure.


A/N: So, what did we think? As always thank you muchly for the love and support thus far! It’s really inspiring and gets the chapters out quicker than when I’m inspiration-less! If you’d like to follow my fiction blog, hit me up at Myfictionalmusings . wordpress . com ! 😀


Chapter 29: Chapter 29


Hey guys! A big, huge thank you for the reviews last chapter. Both on my blog (link in my profile) and on . They were so overwhelmingly positive and lovely I wasn’t too sure what to do with them! But, thank you again it made me smile and type like I don’t know what! So, this chapter is shorter, but it gets to the point I feel we needed to get at. And for now I’m taking a week or so off writing. My poor brain is fried right now! But I hope you love it and hit the little button either way 😀 xox


SPOV:

We sat down in Gran’s office, a place I would spend hours in when I was younger and we’d visit here near Christmas. The stained glass window as well as her hundreds of books on fashion and style always kept me occupied. Instead that night I wasn’t as occupied by the books on fashion as I was my job in fashion hanging in the balance. She smiled. My heart stopped.

“Jason knows why he’s here, I wanted you both to have this moment alone, Sookie I drew up the contact for the change of ownership six months ago. Now all it needs is your signature.”

Wait, what?

“What? Six months ago? But the ultimatum… that…”

“That was my hopes for you, yes, but I was not blind nor ignorant to your amazing contributions to the business. The job should have been yours from the get go, but Jason, being older and out of College first, I wanted him to have some discipline, some structure, somewhere to focus his flailing attention.”

“Gran…”

“But then you came along and took over without ever really being asked, and I saw you lose a bit of yourself in the process.” She shrugged, “I hated that you were sacrificing massive aspects of your life for the job, as much as I loved what you’ve done, I longed for you to have more balance. That’s why I asked what I asked in the way I asked it. But now I see, my nudging, however blunt and annoying… it paid off. Eric is a wonderful man, a sweetheart, and he looks at you the way…” she sighed, happily. “I like him, and it’s clear so do you.”

“And me.” Jason stated, before sitting back in his seat again.

“I don’t know what to say, everything seemed so…”

“Unfair? Yes, I do regret how I went about this whole thing, I have felt like a bitch, and as Sheila pointed out, I was one. I’m sorry.” She pushed the thick document in my direction, and sure enough there it was in black and white. My promotion, my significant pay rise, my contract for the next five years. I felt my stomach sink. What did I do here? Did I sign it? Did I go with what I knew, what was safe and something I knew like the back of my hand, or did I go with the unknown…the pipe-dream. I inhaled deeply hoping the right decision would just hit me like a cartoon lightning bolt from the sky. Maybe Wile E Coyote would wander by while we were at it…

Before I had the chance to decide one way or another the office door opened. Claudine stormed in, and I looked out the door, Eric and Pam stood, shocked looks on their faces.

“Gran, don’t let her sign that thing!” She demanded going to Gran’s side of the desk.

“Claudine, I understand you’re not happy about this but I am in the middle of a business meeting.”

“A business you’re being tricked into signing over to that grasping little pretender!” She exclaimed.

“Are you drunk, Child?” Gran asked, and with that Claudine produced a very familiar document.

Well, fuck.

“It’s all a ruse, Gran. All of it to get you to sign over your LIFE’S work to this …faker and her fake boyfriend.” She aimed at me, the whore.

“Is she drunk?” Gran asked Jason, putting her glasses on and taking the contract that Claudine handed her. I just stood up, still not saying anything as she read over it.

“Surely this has to be some kind of mistake… I don’t understand… Sookie?” Gran looked to me, hurt pooling in her eyes. I looked out of the office to Pam and Eric.

I just sighed, Pam looked scared for me, Eric looked anxious.

“It’s true.” I said, sitting back down, making Jason furrow his brows at me as Gran passed him the last page of the contract, stating what it stated he would no doubt be shocked.

“It can’t be true, you and he are… real. That shit is real. Sook is this some kind of joke that we don’t get?”

“It’s no joke, Jason. Sookie lied to get her grubby little paws on Gran’s business and her money.”

“Okay you know what, Claudine, shut the fuck up. That is not why I did it. Why would I need to do it for the money? I have plenty of my own, and unlike you I don’t go around stealing things that don’t belong to me.”

“Okay you will just never let that go will you, you are so jealous!”

“I’M THE JEALOUS ONE? Give me a fucking break!” I was going to wig her around this room if she kept that shit up!

“Enough, both of you. Sookie… explain this to me. Now.”

“It’s true. The contract is real. What Eric and I … it’s fake… all for you benefit, all for the benefit of the stupid ultimatum you landed on me.”

Wait, no it wasn’t. Not anymore.

“Well… I mean…” I looked out of the office to see only Pam standing there now.

Fucking, fuck.

“It started that way. Now though… now it’s -”

“Don’t lie anymore Sookie, just tell the woman the truth.” Claudine added, smug as you like.

“I’m not lying, bitch. I didn’t do this for the money. I did this because its what you asked of me. I didn’t think I could really…” I looked from Gran to Claudine and to Jason.

“Can we talk about this alone? She may have stolen this out of my locked cabinet in my office and came in here shouting the odds, but I would like to do this, without her.” I asked my Grandmother. She agreed and ushered Jason and Claudine out.

The room was silent, deadly so, when she closed the door leaving just the two of us.

“You and Eric drew up a legally binding contract to…trick me… into believing…”

“Into believing that I was a normal functioning human being. Yes. That I could multitask and meet your insane expectations while trying to keep the business booming in this fucking economy, yes. To prove to you that I could do my job and live at the same time, when in reality I was dating on and off and never giving a guy more than a week to prove himself to me and failing at every turn in my personal life. So yes, in my sheer and utter insane desperation to hold onto my job, I lied. I dreamt up this crazy idea that Eric went along with because I asked him…and somewhere along the way… everything changed. Everything.”

She sat at the edge of the desk, arms crossed, looking at me with less confusion and more sadness than I’d seen from her in a while.

“What do you mean, everything?”

“Me. I changed. In pretending to do what you asked me to do, and actually doing what you asked me to do but not admitting to ourselves. Eric and I… got close.” I closed my eyes. “We pretend not to notice, but as much as we kept referring to this as a fake relationship, it became very real, very fast, and it’s scary as hell, Gran. A kind of scary that has nothing to do with the job, or the career, scary as in how much I rely on him and how quickly I’ve gotten used to him being around. And just how much it sucks, when he’s not.”

With that she sat in the seat beside me, and she took my hand.

“I’m glad, then. If he’s opened your heart again, madness and bad decision making aside, I am glad that happened.” She motioned to the contract with her signatures on it. “I still need you to sign this, Sookie.”

I looked at the documents in front of me, and made the biggest decision of my life.

I climbed the stairs, weary and tired, and just sad. As much as I tried to shake myself out of it, I couldn’t. I wanted a drink, a real one, and maybe a bubble bath. I checked in on the kids, all three of them tucked up tight in bed, and I went to my room to find Eric. Sure, I found him, I found him packing.

Right, the last thing he heard me say was something pretty shitty where he was concerned.

“You’re leaving?”

There was silence for a second before he answered me, his face in full on pout mode.

“In the morning. I don’t want to be here any longer than necessary, I assumed the contracts are signed so our little deal is no longer in affect.”

I sighed, I really didn’t know if I the energy for what was sure to be a hell of a fight.

“Eric… come on you know that’s not how this is. The ‘deal’ hasn’t been the deal for a long time, probably since the beginning.”

He continued to pack.

“Look what do you want me to say here? I made a mistake? Sure, I admit that, I’ve been making a lot of those lately. I just didn’t think us, was one of them.”

That made him stall, but after a second, he continued again. It was like chipping at a brick wall.

“Yeah, well, things change.” He added, bitter as you like. It took me a few minutes of silence before I had the courage to continue talking to him, I sat there, watching him pack, watching him not watch me while doing so either.

“You’re right, things do change. I changed. I’ve changed so much these last few months it’s actually frightening as fuck, if I’m being honest. I changed how I saw my life, what I wanted from it, all of it… and I’m scared. I didn’t sign the contract, Eric. I couldn’t. Because it’s not what I want anymore.”

He stopped what he was doing and fixed his gaze on me, it was intense, it was as if I could feel his rage. I didn’t like that feeling, so I figured why not go balls to the wall and see what happened.

“You know the reason for all these changes?”

He shrugged and it was infuriating.

“Eric I need you to stop acting like Emily right now, I need you to be a man and listen to me.”

“I am a man, I’m the man you stood downstairs and announced to everyone that this man meant nothing to you because everything was fake!”

“Because of you!” I continued, ignoring his rant and getting back to mind in the hopes of explaining myself. “You and your tall, dishevelled self, with no sense of proper measurements or what an iron was. You with your calm and your smiles and your you. You did this to me, and I’m not really sure what to do with it all. But you, and Emily – sweet, amazing, hilarious Emily, you both took me and shaped me into someone I never knew how to be, someone I never knew I wanted to be until I was there. Feelings changed, my ideals changed. And all I know is they changed when you came along.” I ran my fingers through my hair, panicking.

“I know what I said in there with them, but you have to know why I said it.”

“Because it was just a deal right?” He added, bitterly.

“Did you not hear a word I just said. Jesus Eric that’s not it at ALL. I just… Claudine was going for the jugular, and I wasn’t going to give her the fucking satisfaction of -”

“Winning! Because that’s what this has always been about hasn’t it Sookie, you and her, and you beating her in life because almost ten fucking years ago she participated in breaking your heart!” He yelled.

“No! It’s because I fucking love you and I wanted you to know it before she did, okay!” I yelled back and realized I had said it, said what I’d been thinking, and not in the most romantic of ways.

It stunned him into silence.

“I didn’t want to be the first one to say it, I didn’t want to say it this soon because right now I remind myself of one of those stage five clinging messes that I’ve heard so much about and I really don’t want to be THAT girl, but there it is. It’s how I feel and it’s why -”

With that he put his hand over my mouth, stopping my rant in its tracks.

“You… love me?”

I thought about backtracking, but really what was the point? I had thrown away the water wings and dived right into the deep end, why not try and swim?

I nodded, his hand still covering my mouth.

“And… is this a recent development?” He raised a brow, gauging the situation from within I realized.

I nodded again, shrugging and nodding twice. It was, extremely recent.

“And you didn’t sign the contracts for Adele? What the hell?”

I took his hand off my mouth and we just stood there, inches from each other.

“It’s not what I want anymore. I think I shocked the hell out of her when I refused to sign it, but there it is.”

He still looked stunned.

“What is she going to do now? Jason doesn’t want it either by all he’s said. Claudine?”

I shook my head, “No she’s not qualified, she’d run it into the ground in a month. Even Gran knows that. I gave her my three month notice, and I nominated Pam as my successor. It gives me time to tie up loose ends, gives everyone notice to what’s happening and more importantly gives Pam enough time to freak out and come around again.”

He looked like he was taking everything in, as overwhelming as it was for him, it felt tenfold for me.

“You don’t have to say it back.” Back to my bigger reveal in the conversation, I was still cringing. “No, really, in fact don’t say it. Don’t say anything. Can we keep this for way later on, long ways down the line, when we know each other better and we’re more secure and I’m not an overly emotional wreck and I didn’t just blurt out my feelings in an argument and totally ruin what was meant to be a special moment?”

He just smiled.

“Maybe I want to say it back.” His fingers ghosted against my arms, before his arms snaked around my back and he pulled me to his body.

“Don’t.” I pleaded.

“Why?” He chuckled.

“Because if you say it now, everything changes again and I’m just finding my feet after the last emotional upheaval…”

“My Dad always said if you loved someone you should tell them right away, don’t hold it in because you might never get another shot at saying it again if you wait… and I feel it, Sookie, whatever this is between us, it feels like love here.”

“But it’s so stage fiv-”

“You’re not a stage five clinger, I promise. You’re overworked and under insane pressure and stress, and you have a family the majority of which are bat-shit crazy. You’re dating but not really dating but really dating your assistant who has a kid under six that he’s solely responsible for… it’s not easy shit going on here. And you love me, Boss. That’s a huge thing.”

“It is pretty huge… and you know what’s even weirder?”

“What’s that?” He kissed my temple, bringing me even closer for the cuddle.

“We’ve never actually been on an official date. Ever. We have a lot of lunches, and meals with Emily, and at work, but we’ve never done the cliché date-date.”

“Oh, right. Where we both get dressed up in clothes we’d never usually wear, and pretend to be the best version of ourselves for a few hours while we order wine we don’t understand and you pick at your food in case you think I give a shit about how much you eat, and you judge my shoes.”

With that I burst out laughing, I felt the stress almost fall from my shoulders.

“Well, when you put it like that… Eww.”

“I’d like to date you… Dress up in clothes that I know you like, and shoes I know you’d approve of, order food I know you’d love, with some beers and a frozen margarita, get you drunk and get us lucky.”

Pervert.”

He just smirked.

“Sookie, I love you.”

I inhaled sharply before I poked him with my forefinger

“I told you not to -”

“I don’t care if we look like stage ten clingers here. It’s out there in the universe and the chips will fall where they may.”

“I think you mixed up metap-”

“You know what I mean…” he swayed me from side to side, still in mid-cuddle.

“I take it this means you’re not leaving in over-dramatic fashion then?” I teased and he just bit his lip, blushing.

“I was trying to make a point.”

“That I can’t dismiss you like you’re my assistant even though you’re my assistant because of the whole loving you thing? That point?” I teased again, making us both smile.

“Yeah, something like that.”

“Eric?”

“Hmm?” He asked cutely tucking some hair behind my ears.

“Take me to bed?”

He smiled.

“Yes, Boss.”

And with that I was unceremoniously picked up, giggling like I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to. He then me carried to our bed where we took advantage of the three little words that we were so scared of, but that meant so much in my level of trust in him, and he in me. The question of ‘What now’ hung in the air between us, and in my life in general, but I felt like for the first time since I was twenty years old, I had a real choice. I had time. And I had people in my life willing to stick around while I figured it out.

That was one the best feelings ever.

It felt like possibility.


Chapter 30: Chapter 30


New DWD! It won the vote and it’s taken me a little while longer to write because I started watching Fringe and it’s sucked me in big time! Not sure if I’ll do another poll or not, I may just fire ahead with this until we finish up now! Tell me what you think!

EPOV:

I looked around the extravagantly decorated party room, and suddenly got a surge of anxiety.

“This is too much, Sookie, usually we just… have cake and balloons at home. I mean sure we all go to McDonalds after and stuff, but for the most part the parties are pretty under the radar.” I explained hoping to appeal to her more, low key sensibilities.

“But it’s her birthday, and she’s six, and I wanted to do something nice for her.”

“You already do nice things for her, you don’t need… this.” I said as I gestured around the private room of giant well known candy store in the middle of Manhattan. It was excessive, that’s for sure. I was also sure Emily would have a ball, but what I wasn’t so sure about was letting this happen. I really didn’t want her getting used to this kind of… lifestyle.

“Eric, it’s a kid fantasy, they’ll have so much fun, and I know you’ve been sampling, so you can’t say you wouldn’t enjoy it either.”

I paced, and I had some twizzlers as I did so.

“But,” she sighed, “if it’s not appropriate, then, we can just forget about it and go with whatever you were planning. No harm.”

I looked at her, sampling some gummy bears, and I knew that was lie. There would be harm, harm to me in form of her mood change at the rejection of her idea. It had been a week and a half since the Thanksgiving mess, and since we came back to New York, we’d fallen somewhat accidentally into a routine of sorts, she’d come back from work with me, we’d all have dinner and then, sadly, she’d leave and go back to her place to work some more. It wasn’t ideal since it was fairly obvious she was stressed to the max and freaking out internally, but, she insisted on having it that way until things were as she called them ‘settled’. Emily’s birthday was a week away, and while I had just planned a handful of her school friends coming over for cake, games and tons of ice-cream, I guess the other half did things differently, as in renting out a floor of a store for hours on a Saturday so the kids could go nuts and fill up on sugar. It was literally Emily and the Chocolate factory if I let this go ahead and while I was wary of letting Sookie loose with her amex, it was obvious she was only doing it to do something sweet for Emily, I was torn.

We walked out of the establishment, promising to let them know by the next morning, since they had a magical cancellation once they heard Sookie’s name, and saw her credit card.

“I don’t know, Sook, this seems too much.”

“It’s not that expens-”

“I meant, in general. You have a shit load on your plate right now and now you want to plan a kids birthday party? Those things are a test at the best of times, maybe it’s best we just do something … low key?”

“Is that your new phrase for today?” She asked as we got back into her town car and out of the snow. It had been snowing up a storm all week, and we were lucky to be going anywhere in that traffic. With that our conversation stopped and she was back on her phone again, it would be a half hour before we got back to the offices in the growing blizzard.

“No, I’m sorry, but no what is this? It’s…hideous. Redo it.” She said, handing back the photo prints to one of the newbies as I sat at the immaculate glass table at the back of her office, going over the remainder of my emails for the day.

“Oh… I uh… I…” the newbie was visibly flustered, and Sookie just looked on, her steely gaze unwavering. I almost wanted to smirk, now that I knew what a kitten she was underneath that lion’s roar.

She sighed.

“Get me Lafayette, now.” She said in my direction, and I just shook my head, folding myself out of the chair. Leaving the newbie in the hands of her new boss.

“Has she torn that girl a new va-gine yet?” he remarked dryly without looking up from his prints.

“No, but she’s not happy.”

“She’s not been happy since she got back from the ice-castle of Thanksgivings. And Pam has even been more testy than usual, and then there’s you. All of y’all just walking around like someone died or something.”

We hadn’t told anyone of the plans yet, we couldn’t really until the contracts were processed and it was all official and stuff, but I was dying to tell someone, just so I could justify my even more cagey-than-usual-behaviour.

“Yeah, I don’t know what to tell you.” I dodged, not really ready to speak out of place, even to Lafayette.

He just glared, he wasn’t a stupid man, he knew something was up, most everyone in the office suspected something.

“Fine, fine. Puppy, you go on ahead and dance around me but you won’t be able to forever, you know that right?”

I nodded.

“She needs you in the office, save that poor woman’s va-gine.” I adopted his word and he made a disgusted face.

“I’d rather not, but I’ll goes anyway. Take this to accounting.” He handed me a file, one I had left down hours before and forgot about, realizing now I’d left it with him.

We were all a little stressed, to say the least.

SPOV:

I stood in the middle of my office, ragging on the new girl, bitching at Lafayette and emailing the art department all the while simultaneously raising my blood pressure and my temper, I decided I needed a night off. There was a crisis with the shoot, and it had turned out horrific, and in the photographer’s delusions of grandeur whilst shooting, having the poor model contort herself, causing her to fall – on her face – thus leaving a lot of fucking blood and a broken nose. Oh, and possibly a lawsuit. They had tried to cover it up with artistic shots of lots of her hair in her face and shopping her beyond recognition, and they also thought they’d get away with not telling me.

I wanted to fire her, the new girl who’s name I didn’t know yet, but I found myself unable to. I stood there, soon to be their ex boss, and I would soon be the newbie in the business again, I would soon be the one at the mercy of older, more experienced and superior beings who held my new career in the palm of their hand.

Fuck.

“Okay, fine. Do that. Do your jobs people, so I can do mine, please.” I barked, getting to the right side of my desk. The clock on my laptop flashed four thirty. Another hour and I was out of there for the weekend. A weekend where I had more to do than I had time to do it in.

Maybe I’d just take a nap instead, a nap sounded good.

Instead I dwelled on the previous week, and how everything went down after I cleared the air with my Grandmother.

One Week Earlier.

Breakfast had been, tense, to say the least. As we all sat around the dining table and helped ourselves to the mountain of food put before us. I sat next to Eric, and a sleepy Emily sat next to me. Pam sat next to Emily, and even cut her sausage for her – a gesture most unlike Pam in her usual state, but this Pam was flustered to say the least.

“Sleep well?” Claudine asked me, still unknowing of what exactly went down the night before.

“Like a dream, you?” I grinned an over exaggerated grin.

“Mm, it was very comfortable.”

“I’m sure.”

We were snappy, but constrained. Gran looked on as she tucked into her pancakes.

“Well, I just have to say I’m sure that Gran made all the right choices last night after she had all the information that she wasn’t privy to before, do you agree, Sookie?”

I smiled.

“Oh, I definitely agree.” I looked to Gran who looked to Pam. She hadn’t given me her answer on whether or not she agreed with my suggestion of having Pam take over from me. But I had hoped she would soon, I was on tenterhooks, as was Pam.

Everyone ate on for a few minutes before Gran stood up with her glass of fruit juice in hand.

“I’d like to say something, If I may.”

“Of course, Gran this is your -”

“Claudine, shut up would you?” Gran snapped and I bit back a smirk.

“I want to say that what happened last night was… dramatic to say the least. It was …stressful and eye opening.”

“Well of course it was, what with Sookie lying and -”

“Claudine, can you please?” Gran snapped, before she sighed looking to the heavens. “I just wish your Grandfather was here, he’d know what to say in a situation like this.”

She looked to everyone at the table and then spoke.

“Last night I offered Sookie the position, my position.”

Claudine’s mouth went agape.

“And…” Gran sighed. “She turned me down. She has… her own plans and I can appreciate and support those with my whole heart, because, she has shown me what a hard working, dedicated, wonderful woman she is and what she can do when she puts her mind to it.”

“But Gran!”

“Claudine, shut the fuck up!” Adele Stackhouse, Ladies and Gentlemen. The kids started to giggle.

“Sorry, children, I didn’t mean to say… that word.”

Emily was still giggling with Lizzie.

“She turned me down and I accepted and in her place Pamela will be taking over when Sookie has decided it is time to go.” She rushed out in one go, to stop Claudine from interrupting again.

“I don’t understand, this is a family business, Adele, and Pamela – no offence – isn’t family.” Ralph spoke up, probably in defence of his wife.

“Yes, I thought so too, I did. And I wanted it to stay that way, but, in doing that I’ve seen it almost tear my family and my relationships with my grandchildren apart. I’m an old woman who isn’t getting any younger, and I want my family in once piece before I go anywhere. I want them happy and fulfilled. Claudine, you’ll be coming in as an assistant. I love you, child but you are not qualified for anything as you stand, not within my business. So, if you want this, you’ll earn it, like the rest of us.”

She pouted. I knew that wouldn’t go down well with little miss ‘I want what I want and I want it now’. Bitch didn’t want to work for anything, a living, a husband, or a child, it seemed.

“Pamela will work as President once Sookie deems fit to leave for pastures new. Congratulations Pamela, and welcome to the family my dear, I know you’ll do well.”

“I… Thank you, Adele.”

Gran shook her head with a slight smile.

“Never worry, I’ve learned to trust Sookie’s instincts. If she sees this potential in you, then I do too, and I will support you as much as I can.”

She was keeping her CEO status, she was welcoming, but until Pam proved herself, she wasn’t going to act like an idiot. We talked the night before of selling the company altogether and I knew in my heart that she was thinking about that.

“I have something else to say.” She began. She already had everyone’s attention.

“I’ve been considering selling the company, I have had numerous offers over the years, but I had been… reluctant to sell because I wanted to pass this down to … my family, but not at the cost OF my family. I just want you all to know that it’s something I am considering once again. Don’t worry Pamela if I do, it will be with the stipulation that all staff on at the point of sale stays put.”

I saw Pam take a deep breath at that revelation.

“But, Sookie has pastures new to explore and as a family we should be as supportive and helpful to her as possible. I’d just like to … wish her luck on her new endeavours and hope to see her more often now that she has personally unchained herself from her desk!”

“Sook?”

“Hmm?” I looked up from my screen to find Eric standing with a hot cup of coffee in hand, snapping me out of my daydreaming in the process.

“Life saver that you are!” I said taking the coffee from him, he smiled holding out his hand, he had something hidden in there. Showing me his palm, I saw there was a chocolate bear wrapped in silver foil.

“Sugar. Teddy Bear shaped sugar.” He grinned taking a seat in front of my desk, kicking his feet on my desk. I side eyed him for that.

“Right, expensive desk… Have you much more work to do? Think we could cut out early tonight?”

“I… well if you’re done, you can go. I have a few more things I need to finish up for the weekend.”

“You…spending the night tonight?” He wriggled his brows at me, making me laugh.

“Not tonight.” The last thing I wanted was to go back to my place, but I had a ton and a half of things that needed doing, and I couldn’t do them at Eric’s.

His face fell.

“Oh, no… that’s cool. I was going to cook for all of us… but, another night.”

He tried to shrug it off, like it was nothing, but the truth was, while he and I were spending personal time together – since Thanksgiving I had been more than distracted to say the least.

“Eric I’m sorry, I’m just really tired and I have so much to do tomorrow from my office at home, I just…”

“Can’t get distracted. I get it.”

“You’re not a distraction.” I said, getting out from behind my desk and going to where he sat, I pulled over the chair so I was closer.

“I have this…waiting thing going on. I have pitched my brand to three of the biggest businesses in the world hoping that they’ll want a piece of the potential pie. I’m scared shitless. I’m basing everything on my reputation, my sketches and a few pieces I’ve sent out. I don’t have a collection yet, but, I need backing in order to have it all the way I want it. So, I’m hoping to have impressed these people.”

He blinked, as if he was choosing his words carefully.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I didn’t tell anyone.” I reasoned. “I didn’t want to jinx it, but if they agree and we take a meeting to negotiate everything, it’ll mean big things. With their backing there isn’t anything I couldn’t do. I’ve done them a lot of favours over the years, a lot of exposure on their brands, and a lot of ‘support’ in other ways. I just hope it fucking paid off.”

He nodded.

“You like to keep a lot to yourself, huh? This, the plan to leave, all of which weighs on you like a ton of bricks, might I add. You like to keep things inside, and I get that, but I thought we’d reached the kind of place where we could say this stuff, honestly.”

I thought we had too, after the confessions that weekend, but I guess old habits were extremely hard to break. I was so used to doing things on my own without the need to inform or confide in anyone else, it was going to take some getting used to.

“This isn’t… easy for me. Eric. I just… I’m used to dealing with things, most everything, alone. This…” I gestured between us both. “It’s going to take some getting used to. I’m sorry if that’s not what you -” I was getting agitated with his tone, it was accusatory for no damn reason.

“It’s not anything, it was just an observation, Sookie.” He noticed the tone and wasn’t having any of it, not that I blamed him.

“Fine. Observe elsewhere then, I don’t have time for this!”

He looked taken aback and I regretted my tone immediately, he just scoffed angrily and walked out, slamming the door for effect.

Well, shit.

I didn’t hear from him that weekend, not that expected to. I had acted like a bitch and wasn’t really surprised that he was keeping his distance. I managed to spend my Friday night with Pam and her sister Lily, as I waited on the phone calls I needed to receive. We ate, we drank, we talked Pam off the ledge of life as she had yet another doubt-attack over her soon to be new source of employment.

“What if I can’t!”

“You can. You know you can. I know you can, you can-can. Get it?” I joked, causing her to smirk.

“Enough about me, what about you? If this call doesn’t come?”

“You ship me off to the nearest mental institution, that’s what.”

“And Eric? Where do you guys stand in all this?” Lily spoke up, sipping her cocktail. I eyed Pam.

“Oh yeah,” Lily continued, “She told me all about you and your assistant, it’s very kinky, Sookie.”

“It’s not.”

“Oh, really?” Pam cut in, clearly not believing me.

“We’re not speaking.”

“Seriously? You two were so…lovey dovey at Thanksgiving, it was a tad gross.” Pam continued. “Trouble in paradise now?”

Yeah there was trouble, my inability to accept someone’s help in a time of freak-out worthy crisis.

“I was a total bitch to him today, I’m just so stressed out and so on edge and he’s just Mr Chilled out and ‘everything works itself out’, and I’m not sure how to mesh with that when I feel like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff and just waiting for the gust of wind to either knock me off, or knock me back on my ass, neither is that appealing.”

“You should give the guy a break, Sook; last week was a lot for everyone to take in, you know? I mean, fuck. I’m still recovering and I know where my future lies, he doesn’t. From all I’ve heard, and I honestly don’t know which is a scarier prospect. Just remember you’re not the only one going through this massive change. If you guys are the real deal, he has to be included too.”

I was stunned, not because of what she said. I knew all of that already even if I ignored it. But what stunned me mostly was because I never saw Pam care about Eric before, not even enough to get his name right half the time.

“I know that, Pam.” I snapped, taking an extra large sip of my drink to wash the guilt down.

“Do you? He left the building today looking like someone killed his puppy. A man that size looking that down? It was a sad sight to see is all I’m saying.”

Of course all of that just continued to add to my guilt and so we spent the rest of the evening getting ourselves very drunk. I then took a cab back to my empty apartment, Tina had a judgmental look on her face as I stumbled in the door with takeout in hand, but she soon realized the potential for free chicken when I shared with her. I woke up the next morning to spilled milk and leftover Chinese food in the microwave, also a splitting headache and a overwhelming sense of regret. It was nothing a shower, and some healthy breakfast foods wouldn’t fix. Well, that and a pot and a half of coffee.

I got the calls at four o’clock that Saturday. Of the three businesses that I had contacted, one emailed, and two called. Each with an offer of acceptance for my new setup, a partnership, a percentage of the profits and holdings, for their support, name and money. I accepted the one with the best offer.

Sookie was now not just my name, but my brand, and it scared the hell out of me. I didn’t have my family business reputation, only my own now to fall back on and I wasn’t sure I could do it at all. But, after many lengthy phone conversations with their people that day, we decided to meet in two weeks for a outline meeting, I needed to wow them with my amazing-ness, I needed samples! I needed a name for my line and most of all I needed a solid demographic to pitch to.

Needless to say, I broke out the good whiskey that night, as I looked at the stack of designs I had left over, the samples I had made, the sketches, all neatly piled on my table. Stacked like a little house of designs. I chuckled to myself, because that was really who I was in the moment, I was a Stackhouse, only with literal stacks in the form of little houses of would-be fashion.

I woke up on the Sunday morning with a name for the affordable brand, and another for the higher end one that I had forming in my mind.

Stackhouse indeed, Empiler, Stack – in French, was born, and with that I took what felt like my first deep breath in weeks. I had backing, I had a name, and if all went well, by the end of the year, I would have a line. My Empiler. What I didn’t have was a boyfriend that was talking to me. I had solved most of my problems, it remained to be seen if I could solve this one.


Chapter 31: Chapter 31


Sookie:

Three texts and two voice mails and still no reply. Not that I blamed him of course. Once my mind filled panic cleared and I realized what an asshole I had been, I didn’t blame him at all if he never spoke to me again.

“He’s not picking up, clearly, he hates me. Why am I so fucking bad at this, Pam?”

“It’s your thing, some people can’t do laundry, or cook, or run multimillion dollar corporations, and some people fail at relationships.”

“I make a good friend, most of the time, why is the girlfriend thing so hard? Why can’t I just let him in? I want to!”

“So, then, tell him that. Stop telling me, I already know this, tell the guy that it’ll mean the most to.”

“I’m not really sure I can… since he won’t talk to me an all.”

“Do you live on Mars? Go the fuck over there.”

“It’s after eleven, I can’t just -”

“You’ve shown up at his place before, why would this be any different?” She reasoned.

“Well, what if he’s not in?”

“You leave a damn note. I don’t know, Sookie. You want to make things right with him?”

“Of course I do!”

“Then do whatever it takes. If he means so much to you, and I think he does, no matter how you try and act cool about it – Eric is the first guy you’ve even begun to trust in I don’t know how long. So, lay it all out there and make him forgive you.”

“What if he can’t? It was a pretty shitty thing, that I did. Shutting him out like that? Just, ignoring him like that because I was so preoccupied and scared… God I can’t believe how shitty I behaved. My mother would be so ashamed of me…” I admitted.

“So then make her proud and insert some girl power into this situation, and not some whiny bitch power.”

“Hey!”

“Come on now, you are acting like a whiny bitch and you always told me to tell you -”

“If I was doing that…” I sighed, she was right. I looked out to the vast city before me and realized that all of this meant nothing if I didn’t have someone special to me to share it with. Eric was that someone, or at least, I wanted him to be. I just needed to learn how to share, how to be part of a couple again, I needed to trust him. When I hung up the phone from Pam, I changed Tina’s milk, and my clothes. Opting for yoga pants and my navy zip up hoodie. I pulled my hair back into a ponytail, and I got front desk to order me a cab.

Forty-five minutes later, I was outside his apartment building more anxious than I remembered being since before those damn phone calls. I text him again from the cab on the way over, asking if he was home. If he was home he was sulking because he hadn’t picked up the phone when I left the voice mails, but I tried not to take it to heart. I deserved the silent treatment, I just hoped he wasn’t going to ignore me and leave me standing in his hallway, or worse still, the street.

I hit his buzzer, and waited for a response.

A few seconds later, I got one.

“Yeah?”

“It’s Sookie, can you… can you let me in?”

He sighed, but hit the button to open the door anyway.

When I got to the apartment door, it was ajar, fun, he wasn’t even going to let me in himself. The place was quiet, as I suspected it would be at that time of night, he had his iPod on the dock with the music playing low in the background. He was sitting on the couch, feet up, reading a book when I got there. Otherwise known as ignoring me.

Awesome.

“Hi?” I ventured.

“Mmm.” He mumbled, not really looking up at all as I took my seat on the armchair across from him.

I wanted to clear the air with him, but I wasn’t about to humiliate myself to do so, I was never that girl. I was sorry, however, and he needed to know that.

“Eric, I… Where’s Em’?”

“At Amelia’s, they’re having a sleepover.”

“Oh… well, good. That’s good. We can talk then.”

“Oh can we now?” He snapped, still not looking up from his damn book.

“I fucked up, okay? I seriously fucked up.”

He nodded silently, still reading, or faking to read just to piss me off.

“This whole… thing. It’s not easy for me, Eric. I don’t…do this well. I never have. Why do you think my Grandmother had to resort to blackmail in the first place in order for me to access this part of my life, I suck at this. I really suck at relationships. I always have, it’s like there’s this glass wall…” I stood up and began to pace, anything to stop myself from tearing up. “There’s this wall, and it’s like I can see the other side, I can see where I want to go. I see you, and Em’ and me, and we’re making this thing work and we’re happy and we’re chugging along, I can see it. But, it’s like I can’t reach it. I can’t do the things that normal people do so easily to get to that place and stay there.”

With that he finally looked at me. He was expressionless however.

“I know I fucked up by shutting you out, and the worse thing is, I didn’t even realize I was doing it until it was done. And, even then I was like ‘well, what do I do now? How do I fix this?’. It’s like I’m relationship-stupid. It’s like a part of my logical brain, just shuts down, and everything personal that matters to me falls away.”

“It was really shitty, Sookie. You mentioned that glass wall? That’s the wall you put up to keep people out, you did it to me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I know this is difficult for you, fuck, you think it’s been easy for me?”

I blinked, sitting back down.

“It hasn’t been easy for me either you know, letting you in? Letting anyone into Emily’s life, or mine, that might just up sticks and fuck right off at any point. I didn’t want her getting attached, fuck it… I didn’t want ME getting attached. And somehow you got in there, and I let you, even with that ridiculous contract and that whole farce… I still went along with it because I saw something in you that I really liked. Then you go and you -”

“Go and shut you out. I know. I’m so sorry I did that. I don’t WANT to do that… and if you stop looking at me like I kicked a basket of puppies, it might be easier to tell you that.” It really was disconcerting how he looked so sad and childlike in that moment, he looked like Emily, it was in the sad eyes. His eyes were one of his best features, but sometimes they looked like the saddest eyes in the world, little blue pools of sorrow.

“It hurt.” He stated, plain and simple, leaving his book aside and sitting up straight.

“I know…” I approached, softly. “And, for doing that I am sorry and I want you to forgive me for it. Please.”

Pride swallowed, and I wanted on tenterhooks for him to respond. I looked at him internally debating on whether or not I deserved his forgiveness, it was torture.

“Sookie, I don’t know…”

My heart dropped.

“Oh…”

“I just… things are fucked up. The way we started this whole mess is fucked up, and everything happened so fast and under the guise of something else… that to be honest I’m not really sure what’s real anymore. I think, if we’d been real, then you would have thought or cared to tell me what was going on with you, and you didn’t. And, that’s… not how relationships are meant to go.”

He was breaking up with me, wasn’t he?

“Oh, I see…” That made me stand from my seat next to him on the couch, it made me back away to my chair again, something that didn’t go unnoticed.

“I get it, it’s fine…”

“SEE! THIS is what I’m talking about! Jesus!” With that he got out and stormed into the kitchen.

“What? What are you talking about!” I followed him, just as irate now too.

“THIS. Sookie, fucking fight for us if it’s what you want. You fight for everything else in your life, your job, your friends, your dreams but I say that I’m doubting us too and your first reaction is to just give up? What does that say about you in this thing right now? It tells me you couldn’t give less of a fuck!”

“That’s not true! I give fucks! I give lots of fucks about us okay?! God! I just don’t DO this well, or half well, or anywhere near well at all! I don’t know how to let you in without getting hurt again okay?!”

“I’m not Ralph! I’m not going to cheat on you and break your heart!”

“How do you know that?! I never thought he would either and look what the fuck happened there! He fucked my cousin and every family holiday I have to be reminded of the fact that I was the stupid girl that didn’t see what was right in front of me! You can’t know where the future is going to go, Eric.”

“No, you can’t. No one can, not even those shady bitches that read fortune. But you can know who you are as a person, Sookie, and I’m not a cheating kind of guy. I’m just not. Not on tests, not with women, not even in line for something that’s taking forever. I just don’t see the point. I’m rational, and logical and if I don’t want to do something or be with someone I SAY so.”

“And you don’t want to be with me, is that what you’re getting at?!” I sniffled, hating myself for the dam beginning to break.

“I didn’t say that.”

“You may as well have said that. And that’s fine, I’m not that girl, Eric. I’m not that girl that’s going to guilt you into staying with me. You say that if you don’t want to be with someone you tell them, well, if someone doesn’t want to be with me, I’m sure as hell not going to beg them to stay.” I wanted to storm out of the kitchen, but he wouldn’t let me, grabbing my arm gently to tug me back.

“I didn’t say that, Sookie.” He said, quietly, a stark contrast to our previous yelling. “I just wonder if there is a place for me in your life, if there is room for me, and Emily without having to fight for that right to be those people for you. Because as it stands, Sook, it doesn’t feel like it is. And, I can’t be doing that, not just for me, but for her.”

I nodded.

“Look,” he continued, “I meant what I said when I said that I loved you. As crazy as this is, and as fast as everything has happened, that remains true. You’re nuts, but I do love you, and I want you in my life too, because you see, there’s this Sookie shaped hole and only you can fill it.”

The dam broke and I started to let the tears that filled my eyes fall. That was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever been told.

“Eric…”

“If you can’t fill it, tell me now, and let’s save ourselves some more heartache, okay? But if you can…”

I kissed him. I didn’t know how else to say all I wanted to say. One of the first times in my life when words failed me, but I wanted to tell him that I wanted to be the Sookie to fill the Sookie shape, and that there was a giant Eric shape that only he could fill too, but I forgot my words, and I didn’t trust them anyway, and so, I just kissed him. And I continued to kiss him until he hoisted me up onto the cold kitchen counter, slid between my legs and we continued to do that until we had to stop for breath.

“Is that a yes?” He asked, pulling back, breathless with pink tinted cheeks, cheeks that were covered in what looked like a three day old beard. I pushed his black rimmed glasses up his nose a little, they’d slipped amidst all the kissing, and I kissed him again.

“I want to, I just need you to understand that I’m not good at this…” I whispered for fear of breaking the moment.

He nodded, sliding his hands up my legs and to my waist, holding me there.

“Patience from me, practice from you… but you have to tell me things. Don’t shut me out when shit gets rough, okay? Try at least?”

I nodded, it was a deal I could make, I knew I had to change my ways. Relying on him, not completely but, for the little things, and allowing him to do the same with me, it couldn’t be a bad thing like I was making it out to be. It didn’t make me weak, if anything it made me part of a pretty kick ass team, which could only, I surmised, would make me stronger.

That night with him, totally alone in his apartment, where we didn’t have to censor ourselves, or our sex was freeing. Where we could just be together how we wanted to be without fear of Emily hearing us, or seeing us, it was freeing and something Eric made a note of afterward.

“You’re loud when you want to be, it’s really hot.” He said, sighing happily as we embraced to get comfortable enough to sleep. I was pretty sure my ass would be bruised by morning, since we started off in the kitchen and all but fucked our way to the bedroom, and then fucked some more. Not that I was complaining in the slightest.

“You’re pretty loud yourself there for a while! Such, romantic ways with words.” I chuckled, those words were commands, and the furthest thing from romantic and sloppy as we got, I loved it.

“You want me to be romantic?” He asked.

“Hmm. You are, thankfully not in those gross obvious ways, but you are.”

“How so?” He looked confused.

“Little things that make me smile. Like the pink cupcake when everyone else gets plain, or the extra shot of sweet cream in my coffee… or how you look at me. I like the little things.” I made a note to reciprocate a little more too. I needed to be more aware when it came to other people, it was a huge flaw, one I ignored for years while I was obsessed with my job.

He grinned.

“Well good, I’m glad.”

“Eric?”

“Hmm?”

“I know this isn’t the ideal place to talk shop, but in the spirit of telling you things…”

“What is it?” He asked, tucking my hair behind my ear, moving down in the bed to get under the covers.

“I got the deal, I mean, they offered me backing for the company, for the brand.”

His eyes widened.

“That’s amazing!”

I smiled.

“It is. But…um, I have a question.”

“Yeah?”

“You know any guys good with numbers?” I smirked, hoping that he would get the context without explanation. It was one of the things on my mind from the get go, Eric working with me. But as we established, I kind of sucked at telling people what was going on upstairs, I made it a personal mission to stop that.

“Oh, yeah there’s… oh wait.”

“Yeah, oh, wait.” I nodded.

“I need a money guy, and really who better than my resident number nerd. Lovable and smart, what more could a girl ask for, right?”

He grinned.

“Well, you’re going to have to ask me, very, very, nicely. Boss.”

I knew just how to do that.

“Is that so?” Hm… How could I convince you to come…with me.” I drew out, shifting from where I laid, knowing just fine how I would convince him.

“There would have to be a very, generous… proposal. Miss Stackhouse. You’re a lot of work, you know?” He grinned.

“Oh, I know, but I think you can handle it.”

And with that I went to ‘work’ on him, again, it was needless to say with or without my special convincing, he was willing, apparently he liked me or something.

Who knew!


A/N: As always thank you guys so much for the reviews on pervious chapters! Keep it up! It’s amazingly encouraging!


Chapter 32: Chapter 32


SPOV:

“Eric, this is a disaster! The snow! Why! Now of all days, and those little disappointed girls…” I said to Eric as I paced, on hold using my cell to rant at some unsuspecting council worker.

“Yes, hello. I’ve been on hold for… Yes I know its freak weather; I can look out my window. What I can not do is leave my damn house! I have twelve six year olds here, all waiting to … Yes.” I just had to rolled my eyes.

“I know that it’s dangerous. I know that, don’t you Ma’am me! I am calm!”

With that Eric took the cell from my hand, and apologized into it, at the person on the other end.

“Sookie… you need to calm -”

“Do not tell me to calm down, that patronizing little bitch on the other end said the same and her tone was anything but genuine and caring about my state of calm!”

New York had in the last two hours been hit with one of the biggest freak snow storms in the last hundred years. With little to no warning, either. People were freaking, we were told to stay indoors, we just happened to be indoors with a lot of kids.

We were all at my apartment, Eric, Emily, I, and twelve of Emily’s school friends, all lovingly dropped off by their parents so we could take them to her planned birthday party. Of course now, nothing was going to plan as the traffic in the city ground to a halt, and we had no other way of hauling thirteen kids out in the damn snow.

“What are we going to do?” I paced my kitchen, my phone in hand. The kids were all happily watching a DVD, ready and waiting for the last half hour in their little coats and hats. There was a lot of giggling coming from the other room. From the looks on the TV the weather wasn’t about to give up anytime soon. We weren’t getting out of there, at least not in time for the party.

“We don’t really have a plan B, Sook.” Eric said, checking on the girls, and one lone little dude named Barry. According to Emily, Barry liked to play games with the girls more than the boys; Barry’s parents also put him in a bow tie. I felt sorry for Barry.

“There’s always a Plan B, Northman.”

With that I raided my fridge, we had cake for Emily we’d been saving as her family time cake, but would now come in super handy. There was a ton of candy in one of my cabinets, and I raided the freezer next. Then I remembered the ‘samples’ the store sent me over. Three boxes of candy that was just sitting in my office too. Skinny pizzas would do too, right?

Eric got where I was going and helped me raid my own kitchen, the food contents of which now laid on my nook.

“We could work with this.” Eric stated. “It’s not Dylan’s, but, they didn’t know where we were going…so will it really be that disappointing?”

“I hope not. Oh!” With that I hightailed it upstairs to my closet, not bothering to tell Eric where I was going. By the time I got back, he was already putting the plates together and had the pizzas in the oven, as well as some frozen fries and a bag of onion rings he found.

Huh, I’d forgot about those.

“What is that?” He asked me as I came through the door with twelve gift bags.

“Party Favors!” I answered as if it were the most normal thing in the world to be gifting samples from Burberry kids that were in my storage from last season’s feature.

“Sookie…” He looked at me as if I had two heads.

“Do you have a better idea? I don’t. And I’m running out of kid-friendly things in my closet. Unless you think Sarah’s mom wouldn’t mind her daughter coming home with last season’s Gucci that she can’t wear for another ten years…”

With that he took my hands and led me away from the mess, pulling me into a hug.

“You’re awesome you know that? Going to all this trouble for the kid. She might not realize it, but I do, and I want to say thank you.”

“But the weather screwed it up.” I said, muffled into his chest.

“Forget the weather; this is really, really, above and beyond. The other moms are going to be so jealous when they hear about this.” He chuckled kissing my forehead.

Was I an ‘other mom’ too now? That was a scary prospect.

“I’m not really a mom; I’m just the brother-guardian’s girlfriend that tries too hard at everything.”

“Your trying it is appreciated, don’t forget that.”

“I know, I just want to do right by her, you know? I mean, it’s crazy, last year if you’d told me where I would be today, physically and emotionally I would have had you arrested,” I laughed. “But now, it feels good.”

And it did feel good. Pam was transitioning well at work so far, the co-workers were suspect of everything, and rightfully so. But she was going to be amazing of that I had no doubts. I was in the middle of taking meetings and finding space, and materials, and people that I liked for the setup. And for the time being, the entire third floor of my apartment was my studio, and it was chaotic; but in the best way possible. I was making, and doing, and seeing results. I had twelve pieces ready for showing so far, and I had a sneaky sketchbook full of what I hoped would one day be part of my spin off kid’s line. I was full of hope and love.

The love part came courtesy of the guy entertaining a bunch of six year olds as we set up her makeshift party. It was a tough room, and Emily was clearly disappointed, but we hoped to make it work. We lived on hope, it seemed.

EPOV:

By the end of the evening, we had some very tired kids, all camped out in front of Sookie’s massive big screen watching movies, and still eating candy. All of them huddled up under about a dozen blankets and all of them more than ready for bed.

We’d spent the day entertaining them, and fending off texts from some very freaked out parents, all worried they wouldn’t get back to collect them in time. We tried our best to reassure them all, of course, and by 10pm, we finally got rid of the last kid that wasn’t ours.

Emily was zombified.

“Eric?”

“Yes?” I answered her as I tucked her into bed; Sookie was standing by the door.

“Today was super fun, wasn’t it? Everyone loved Sookie’s house and how big it is and how her stuff is cool, and how fuzzy Tina is.”

Poor Tina, she’d spent the day in hiding for the most part.

“That’s great, Em.” Sookie commented, putting on her nightlight, a nightlight that wasn’t there last time we slept over. I noted a few additions to Sookie’s apartment since we’d been doing our thing. The nightlight, the steps to the ‘potty’, the pink child lock on the fridge. And that her wine rack was now moved from the floor to the high counter, out of reach. The cartoon bowls for breakfast were another thing, and the little Emily sized mirror in ‘her’ room, too. It amazed me how much she was willing to change in her life to try and fit us in.

“Eric, can we give Sookie her present now? It’s not her birthday, but it’s still mine and I think we need to give her it.”

I scowled at my crafty and grinning little sister.

“Really?”

“Please? I got lots and lots of gifts and she didn’t get any!”

“Aw, Em’ that’s okay, I can wait.” Sookie interjected with a smile, and a knowing look in my direction.

“Please, Eric?” She broke out the puppy dog eyes as she spoke. Causing me to give in and go to my bag in our bedroom. It was a gift Emily and I picked out for her, I assumed I’d get her something else, but for now, this was it.

When I got it from my bag and went back into the room, Sookie was up beside Emily in her bed, storybook open and ready. They both looked up as I entered, and I realized that Sookie wasn’t the only one shocked as to where she was today compared to a year ago, hell, six months ago. I was struck by the possible poignancy of the moment, and how we’d all evolved together.

Em’ held out her hands, clearly she wanted to be the one to give it to Sookie; I was too tired to argue the point either, so I handed it over.

“Happy-before-your-Birthday, Sookie!” She said, suddenly finding a burst of energy, handing Sookie the little gift bag. “It’s on discount!” Emily exclaimed with a smile as I wanted to just curl up into a ball and die.

“Emily!” I warned.

“What? We love things on sale!” We did, but we didn’t tell people their gifts were on sale!

I sighed feeling embarrassed, as Sookie just giggled, opening the wrapping.

“Nothing wrong with things on sale.” She reassured us as she tore into it.

“It wasn’t the reason why we got it. We picked it out without even knowing what the price was!” I justified and Sookie just grinned at me before she got the little box open. The Cartier Love bracelet was going to be my cheesy ass way of telling her for the first time how I really felt about her, at the perfect time, with flowers and drinks and maybe a sunset. But with us, as with everything, it didn’t go to plan. Instead we confessed our feelings in the middle of an argument, at a time of high tense and stress. Not unlike our everyday lives, I mused.

“Dude…” Sookie said as she looked at the box, and the gift. “Sale or no sale, its Cartier, so you can stop blushing Eric. She made it sound like it was Wal-Mart.” She giggled, “And you know what, had it been Wal-Mart? I think I’d have loved it just as much, because you both took time to pick this for me.”

“It says Love. See?” Emily, ever Miss Obvious, pointed out.

“I see that, and I love it,” Sookie exaggerated going in all goofy to give Em’ a kiss on the cheek.

“We picked it because we love you.” Emily stated, causing Sookie to press her lips together, a stunned look on her face. She was going to cry.

“You… do?” She looked at me, with a sad smile but then back to Emily. I wasn’t shocked that Emily loved Sookie, it was clear to me from day one she idolized her, but this was real for that kid. She was there now, and I was somewhat relieved. It was something I struggled with, letting people into Emily’s life, if they weren’t going to be real with her. I could handle rejection as well as any man, which, I guess wasn’t all that great. But, I was an adult and I could deal with the issues. She was a kid, still a baby in my eyes, even if she was all of six years old and a ‘big girl’ now.

“We do, don’t we Eric?”

Sookie’s eyes were on mine, searching for something I wasn’t sure of, but whatever it was, she got it, because the tears she’d been holding in fell down silently.

“You guys, this is the most adorable…thing… ever.” She said, sniffling a little, and pulling Emily in for a cuddle, and a second later, I was being pulled into their little group hug too. Our hug broke when I got upgraded to a kiss, something Emily found gross if her calls of ‘ew’ were anything to go by.

“This is a beautiful gift, you two. I love it.”

“Even if it was dis-”

“Goodnight, Emily.” I said throwing her blanket up over her face. She just laughed at me, pulling it down.

“Sookie I don’t want a story tonight. Okay?”

“You too tired?” Sookie asked and Emily nodded, snuggling down into her massive bed. It made her look even more munchkin-esq than usual. I held in my laughter.

We left her to drift off on her own, a first since we’d been staying over that week. And Sookie and I retreated to the living room, both of us spent.

“Twelve kids. How does that Duggar woman DO it?” Sookie asked throwing herself into the couch, where we had our wine and beer waiting for us, and a TiVo’s show too.

“I really don’t know. We need to never do that again.”

Sookie giggled. “It wasn’t so bad though. I got a present out of it.” She said admiring her shiny new addition, before she kissed me on the cheek. “Thank you, for this. I love it.”

“Even if it was on discount?”

“Of course. Just because I write about expensive shit and have some expensive stuff- ”

“Woman, you forget, you’ve trained me. I now know how much your closet costs.”

She grinned.

“You have an advantage most men don’t, you have inside knowledge!” Her eyes widened comically as she snuggled to my side with her glass in hand.

“It meant a lot to me, what she said.”

“I know.” I nodded.

“I love her too, you know? I know we said it officially and we’ve been tiptoeing around it since. But it’s real, very real. Even if it felt too soon to say it then.”

“The birthday was meant to be the time. There were plans of sunsets and music… not arguments.”

“But that wouldn’t have been us, would it? Stress free? I don’t even understand that concept anymore.”

“True that.”

“We can do this, right? I mean, we can figure things out as we go along, right?” She asked, fingering her bracelet.

“I hope so?”

“I hope so too. I just, I know it’s cliché to say it… but I have never felt like this before. The way I feel when I’m with you, and her, I am free to just be me. That you’re strong enough to take what I throw at you and have you fire back just as much, I never thought I’d find a man strong enough for that before. Strong enough to catch me, mid free-fall.”

“Or someone crazy enough to jump with you, maybe?” I offered, and she grinned.

“I enjoy our cheese sometimes, you know? It’s nice. I work with so many people that think what we are doing is saving the planet, when in reality, we are just making it prettier.”

“I used to think that, but what you do…what you did, and what you will do with this business? It affects a lot of people. I’ve read the stats, Sookie.”

“Numbers nerd, I hate stats.”

I chuckled. “I’ve read where your stuff, your magazine, everything. Where it goes. Who reads it, who wears it? Who buys it? It touches a lot of people. You should know that.”

She nodded.

“Can you be my pep-talk guy, as well as my numbers guy?”

“I think that could be arranged.”

“Excellent. I have a meeting with the investors on Monday, getting the ball officially rolling an all that jazz.”

“Did you look at the space Sam suggested?”

“I did, it has a great feel, but it’s too small. Pam thinks she has the place. That’s also on the agenda this week.” She sighed, sipping her wine. “We just need to remember why we are in this. We need to remember this, right here. Because things are about to get even more hectic, and I just need to know that you’re there. That you get it.”

I thought I got it. I wanted to get it, and I would try to keep on ‘getting it’ as things would ultimately go crazy, and changes would be made.

“And same with you, too. Just because my shit is busy, doesn’t mean I’m not there for you either, you know? We need to balance things, and call the other out if we’re throwing it off.” She sounded firm in her words, she’d clearly given it a lot of thought.

“I don’t want to lose this for that.” She said, nodding towards the huge pile of samples that sat on one of her desks.

“I don’t want to lose you either.” I murmured into her temple, pulling her closer.

“So this is our deal then, we just…” She motioned with her hand out in the air. “We’ll just call each other out on our shit before it builds to the point of explosion. Even IF we think we can’t, or don’t want to hear it. We’d do it, with a certain amount of tact of course… for the greater good.”

“Someone has been watching my Marvel movies.”

“It’s not my fault you’re a full blown fan-boy!”

She pouted her lips at me, pushing my glasses up the bridge of my nose to make her point.

“Deal?” She asked the most simple of questions, as far as I was concerned.

“Deal,” I agreed, taking her glass from her and all but pinning her to the oversized couch we were currently lounging on.

“You and I make a lot of deals, don’t we, Ms Stackhouse?”

She smiled that naughty twinkle in her eye present and accounted for.

“I guess we do, Mr. Northman.”

“How about we make another one then?”

She giggled, knowing exactly where this was going.

“Oh, and what would that be then? You want more days off? A bigger office?” She wriggled her brows.

“My office…” I emphasized letting her know this wasn’t about the ‘office’ at all. “Is big enough, thank you.”

“Is that right? You sure about that?”

“Are you questioning my knowledge of … proportions? It is big enough.”

“Yes, of course it is.”

With that I got up, and yanked her with me.

“Right that’s It.”

“No Eric! No!” She screamed through giggles, as I yanked her up over my shoulder.

“No, that’s it. I think we need to show you real size, it’s only right that you learn such things.” I said laughing as she clinged for dear life onto me, laughing.

“No! Put me down, oh I’m going to be sick! Eric!”

“Nope! I don’t buy that! You need to be shown, Sookie Stackhouse.” I said as I took the stairs, carefully, two at a time. She was laughing hard, maybe she was going to gag. I chuckled as we got to the top and to her bedroom. I unceremoniously discarded her on the bed, the landed with a thump and her hair askew.

“That wasn’t funny, Er-”

I didn’t give her time to finish, I just pinned her to the bed again. Hiking her dress up a little further to make my point, and kissing her senseless just to drive it home.

“You’re sure Emily is asleep?” She asked, still cautious.

“After the day she just had, we may have trouble getting her up in the morning. We’re good… Trust. Me.” I murmured punctuating my request with a kiss with each word.

“I do trust you. Not completely…”

I pulled back.

She grinned. The bitch.

“Well, you really can’t cook. I don’t trust you with chicken.”

“I’m learning.” I chuckled; as she just rolled her eyes at me.

“Uh. Huh.” She grinned leaning up to kiss me again. “But with the important things? You got it, Northman.”

I wonder if we could do this thing, she and I? If we were cut out at all, for the madness that was our lives, together? It wasn’t so much a doubt that I had, but more a curiosity. I wanted to see where the road took us, and how we’d handle it together if we went down that road together. As I looked into her eyes that night, it was like something in my brain clicked. Yeah, we could do this. We wanted it, we wanted each other enough to work for it.

“Good. You got it too, you know?”

“I know.” She stroked my face softly, tilting my chin down so she could kiss me again. “I love you.”

“I love you, too. Boss.”


A/N: And that’s all folks! I really loved writing this story, and getting to dive into this mad fashion world a little bit more and hopefully make it fun! Thank you all so much for reading here, and on my blog, and for every single comment and review. It’s been a blast!

Epilogue to follow!

xo


Chapter 33: Chapter 33


Epilogue:

Fifteen months later:

Hair extensions, lashes, makeup, tan, at least three coats of body makeup to boot! Backstage at my first show was a complete zoo of people, products and clothes. We had eighteen models in all, and thirty looks. Being granted a show at New York Fashion week was a fantastic coup to say the least, and for a first collection out of the gate, it was fantastic. I was slotted in for my Resort collection showing in Paris in the coming months, but for now, my ready-to-wear Fall/Winter collection was my baby. And I wanted nothing more than to show my baby off to the world around her.

The Lincoln Center was packed backstage and beyond, there was so much activity from all ends of the spectrum. But it was exciting and nerve wrecking and crazy and I loved every second of it.

Fashion editors, buyers, celebrities, friends, and of course a select few journalists.

All present and waiting, making that sick feeling in my stomach intensify more and more.

I checked my phone for what felt like the millionth time that day, and I had a text from Pam. She was here! I left the models and the mayhem, and made my way to find her; she said she was at the bar down the street and asked me to join her. I was due a break, and couldn’t refuse it. I passed the halls, and the people on my way out, noticing my name and the name of the collection had taken over the space. It was on pillars filled with glass pebbles, it was on cardboard cutouts in 3D. It was everywhere. It was amazing.

“Pam!” I said as I entered, all but running up to hug her. “This is crazy, I’m crazy. Am I really doing this?”

“You are doing this and it’s amazing. I mean, I’m biased, but it really is. They’re going to love it.”

I took a deep breath. “This is what it comes down to, Pam. Thousands of sketches, hours, tears… this and these opinions. Fuck.” I panicked as I took the Cosmo out of her hand and took a healthy sip. “How did I do this for so many years, so carelessly? Is this my karma?”

“You’ll be fine. The preview of the preview went amazingly well, you got a smile from Wintour, and you don’t think that means something?”

That was a rather epic moment, I had to admit. Nothing impressed that woman, and I should have known, I’d been trying for years but gave up and fell in love with her second in command instead. Grace Coddington was my Queen, much to Pam’s amusement. Amusement she’d point out when she’d tell me that I was kidding myself in my prior – and her current job, since I latched on to the creative’s every time over the business heads.

“I guess. But, I just want it to be over.”

“So you can start prepping for next season?”

“Start? You know I’ve already got half the collection prepped.” I laughed, taking a seat at the bar next to her, and ordering myself a cocktail. I deserved it.

“I know that, I don’t know why I’m even a little bit surprised.” She smiled.

“How’s work?”

“Work is good. I think I’ve found ‘the one’.”

Pam had about as much trouble with assistants that I had, it was a tricky process, finding someone you clicked with, but who was also not a complete idiot.

“That’s great, Pam. Really.” I nodded, sipping my drink.

“It doesn’t help that you pinched the best half of the staff when you left, Sookie.” She scowled. It had been a sticking point for us, since I announced I was leaving to start my own venture the year before. The staff, the smart ones at least, were loyal to me and wanted to follow. Who was I to say no? I knew better than anyone that good people were hard to find. So, I took Lafayette and a handful of people from the art department, as well as our head seamstress Marcella.

And Eric of course.

“I can’t believe how much has changed, Pam. I feel like I’ve lost my mind half the time.”

“But, it’s the other half that keeps you going, right?” She winked.

“That’s true, you’re right. I’m just… extremely sleep deprived and starving.”

She smirked.

“So where is your right-hand man, today? I expected him to be acting like your bodyguard during all this.”

I smiled. Eric was insanely protective, ever since the hate mail had started a year before. Crazy stuff, and for a long time we were convinced I had a stalker, but there was no DNA, and we couldn’t really prove it, other than a gut feeling. The cops didn’t move on ‘gut feelings’, mores the pity. He and I had been pretty solid since we agreed on our ground rules, though. We fought like cats and dogs sometimes, but we always made up when we swallowed our pride into admitting one of us, or most of the time, both of us were wrong about something. It wasn’t easy, at all, but it was worth it. We still weren’t living together, at least not in the ‘official’ sense of the word. With working, and planning, I was often at my place four nights a week, if not there, I was at the studio, and I hated that disruption for Emily. So, we agreed that work was work and we’d be together properly when we both found the time. The time was at least three days a week, no matter what. I missed him, I missed them, in the nights I had to go to bed alone, wake up alone and start my day over again, without them. But, it made the days we were allowed to spend together that much more worth it. With the collections finally finding feet, I knew things would slow down considerably once Fashion Week was over and I got my three week vacation, leaving my staff to handle the madness.

I couldn’t wait.

“He’s picking Emily up from her playdate. She’s coming to the show, she’s so excited.”

Pam nodded. Whether she wanted to admit it or not, she liked Emily. She was hard not to like, or at least I thought so.

Emily had spent most of the week with Taylor, Eric and I were running around New York like chickens with our heads cut off, attending the parties we needed to be seen at, schmoozing up a storm. The same, but oh so different from the last Fashion Week he and I took on together. I smiled to myself, not only at how much I had changed, and opened up since then, but how much he had as well. He was no longer the gangly, awkward assistant, now he knew the world and how to navigate inside it, and whether or not he was willing to admit it, he loved it. He loved the buzz as much as I did.

He was my ‘money guy’ as I affectionately referred to him, and he was finally able to put his geektastic number crunching skills to use, and he did a fantastic, honest job of it too. Which of course speedily earned him a decent reputation, and pretty soon my partners took an interest, as did our models. He was making bank, not that he’d ever admit that, either.

I downed the last of my cocktail, hopping off the stool.

“Shall we go? Face the jaws of the lion?” I asked Pam, nervous as anything.

She just nudged me gently.

“You’ll do amazing! Let’s go!”

An hour later, and it was showtime.

I stood backstage and I watched all the models get lined up. I heard the music start. My heart was in my mouth. I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to see Eric, with Emily in his arms. Both of them smiling.

“You guys made it!”

“Yeah, sorry we’re late, traffic was murder.” He said, leaning in to kiss me on the cheek, Emily did the same and I took her from Eric. She was getting too big for this, but tonight I didn’t care.

“How are you Bubs?” I asked her.

“I’m good! Missed you.”

“Missed you too. But, after this week, I’m all yours for a whole month. You ready for our vacation?”

“So ready! Eric said we might visit Disney World.”

“We might. If you’re good! You wanna come to the side and watch with me?”

She nodded enthusiastically, and so we made it for a bird’s eye view just as the lights went up.

“You did it Boss.” Eric whispered to me as the last two models took the walk for their final walk. He squeezed my hand in encouragement, as I walked to the start of the catwalk to give my little wave, that was thankfully greeted with a rowdy applause. And flowers. They were unexpected, from Pam too.

Eric was right. I’d done it. I could do this, and I had just proved it to myself, and to the world.

The after party and press was insane, in the best possible way. Eric and I took it in our stride, but afterward I was happy to slip back to our hotel, have dinner and relax. We met with Lafayette and his newest squeeze, and my front of house guy Claude, Pam and Thalia and Sam and Holly and of course Ames and Trey. It had taken a little while for Eric’s group to fully allow me ‘in’, at least a few months when we first came out as couple. They were protective of him and Emily, and while at the time I felt slighted, now I am thankful that he had such good people looking out for them, and now, by extension, me.

Eric and I discussed how bad we felt leaving the girls with a sitter, but it also gave Amelia a much needed night off too, and they wanted to celebrate with us, so we tried hard to push our guilt down and just enjoy ourselves. I had received flowers from Jason and Crystal, and a call to boot. He was working for the company still, in a smaller role, but it involved travel, so they were in Paris. I received a call from Gran, well, actually I received ten calls from her throughout that day. All of which were filled with her regret, sort of difficult to make it out of bed when you’ve just had your hip replaced. Years of abusing her legs with heels finally caught up with her. I promised to visit before the end of our vacation, and she promised me her housekeeper’s son was setting up the show on a stream for her. I was please she wanted to see it. I was pleased she and I had reached the point in our relationship where I felt like her Granddaughter again, more-so than just her employee.

“I wanna get them alone, maybe, I don’t want to make a big scene.” I said quietly to Eric as he poured me more wine. We’d gotten them a vacation for the three of them, as a thank you for stepping in and taking care of Emily when we both needed to be away. They really were amazingly generous with their time, and they loved her and we knew that too. Dinner was had, toasts were made, and I finally felt myself relax as Eric and I took a cab back to our hotel, I wanted to sleep for a week. Ames and Trey left smiling with their ten days all inclusive trip to Spain. Somewhere I’d always heard Amelia saying she’d like to see. I couldn’t wait to pack my bags and head for the sun myself soon.

“I mean it went really well, the New York Times review was fantastic, and I know the others will follow.” Eric explained as he started to strip off for bed.

“I hope you’re right, or we’re done with everything this past year and a half has been about.”

“Of course I’m right, I’m always right… right?” He smirked. I came out of the bathroom, freshly brushed teeth and makeup free. Walking straight into his embrace, I took the comfort it gave me, and hoped I gave him some comfort right back.

“I have a present for you.” He whispered. Causing me to smirk.

“Honey, we’ve been over this as much as I love it. Your dick is not a gift, its-”

“Ha. Ha. Ha.” He deadpanned, holding my shoulders, before he turned to dig something out of his bag. If it was what I thought it was, I felt my nerves build. It would be just like Eric to do something so huge on an already huge night. He was the king of the romantic, but ill-timed gesture.

“Uh, Eric…”

He held the small box, a grin on his freshly shaven face, before he handed it to me.

Huh. That wasn’t how these things were meant to go.

“Um, thanks?” I said, confused. But, opening the box quickly.

It was a key.

I exhaled. If he was going to ask me any other questions that require a box with something shiny in it, I kind of expected a little bit more of an occasion made for it. Call me petty, but I just did.

“It’s a key?”

“Yes it is.”

“Okay? It’s a very … shiny key?”

He giggled a little, pulling me to the bed to sit next to him.

“It’s a key to our place.”

“Oh… Eric I already have a key to your place.” I was still catching up. A week without sleep or a decent meal would kind of do that to you.

“No, a key to our place, Sookie. I think we need to moved in together. I’ve been wanting it for the longest time, and I know it’s something you want too. I’m tired of putting it off and putting it off every time something else comes up. I love you, and I want us to start that part of our lives together.”

“It has been insane, hasn’t it?”

“And a little dumb. Renting two places, and business space and going back and forth. I know we’ve talked about it, but this last few months have really shifted things into a different perspective for me. We work to live, not the other way around, and I think we’ve started to lose sight of that a little. I don’t want to lose sight of us.”

“Me either.” I said, taking his hand. “I love that I can rely on you, to see the biggest part of the big picture when we’re concerned, it’s a gift, really.”

“Are you rubbing my ego before you say no?” He queried with a smile.

“No, I think this is one of those oh, so, rare moments when you’re right.”

He scoffed at my choice of words pulling me down so we were both laying down, facing each other, our legs dangling off the bed.

“Let’s do it. Let’s find somewhere and do it. The whole nine yards. Picking curtains, colour schemes… the lot.”

“I’m glad you said that. Tomorrow. I want to show you something I’d been thinking about. Will you come with?”

I agreed of course, my curiosity peaked to an all time high. Before I kissed him as if my life depended on it. Sex with Eric now was different. The sense of urgency we felt when we started out was rare, but it was replaced with something else. Something better, in my opinion. I would say it was familiar, but still surprising, safe but not boring, I trusted him completely and that translated to our sexlife in the best way I ever imagined. I felt free to experiment with him in ways I never dared before. He trusted me too, and it was huge deal for both of us, having been burned so many times before. It never seemed to be enough, though. For us, when we were intimate, no matter how exhausted, there was always a part of me, at least that just wanted to keep going. I took it as a good sign, one that meant we made a good team in the sack, as well as out of it. His orgasm face still made me giggle, as did his mutterings of math under his breath sometimes when things got that little bit too intense. I tried to pretend I didn’t notice, but he caught me more times than I could count.

“You know, your ‘O’ face is funny too, you always look so surprised and confused all at once, but do you see me giggling at you, nooo.” He said, kissing me once before we rolled over, messy and sweating, but completely at ease.

“I don’t mean to laugh … but it is funny. I’m not making fun. I laugh with love.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, Stackhouse. Whatever you say.”

I giggled again, allowing him to scoop me into the nook under his arm. My happy place, I thought, as I rested my head on his chest.

“Eric?”

“Hmm.”

“I’m a fashion designer.” I giggled.

He just chuckled and kissed me on the forehead, “I know, Boss. I know.”

With that I drifted off into the best sleep I could remember having in at least six months. I finally felt like I was good enough to do what I’d always dreamed of, I had been doing it.

I would do it.

“Are you taking me out here for a drug deal, Eric?” I questioned as I looked at my surrounding, as remote as they were. I had no idea what this ‘surprise’ was, and liked it even less since he would give me no hints.

He knew I hated surprises.

“Just hold on, we’re almost there.” He said as we pulled into this abandoned lot. I was just very confused. I clinged onto my morning coffee, willing it to give me life or at the very least, wake me the fuck up.

“We could be in bed right now, all snuggled and post-orgasmic, but no. You’re dragging my ass out to… what appears to be the middle of nowhere, on the river.” I complained, getting out of the car with him.

He smiled, pulling keys out of his pocket as we approached the big looming warehouse.

“Okay, seriously, what’s going on?”

“Sookie, Sookie, always so impatient. What is going on is this. My idea.” He nodded to the warehouse.

I looked up at it.

“But, I already have one of these. Darn it. Let’s get back into the car.” I said jokingly as I motioned to the car. He just rolled his eyes.

“The key. Last night. The suggestion of us living together?”

“I do recall. Yes.” He reached for my hand to lead me to the door.

“Well. This was the idea I had. Us, moving in together in a place that’s ours together.”

Slowly the pieces of his crazy-ass idea were coming together.

“Eric, honey, are you high? Did someone slip you something last night? Have you and Sam been hanging out? Because don’t think I don’t know what goes on at those ‘meetings’ you guys have at his place at six in the evening, Buddy.”

Maybe he fell and hit his head at some point?

He didn’t answer me, instead unlocked the door and led us inside the seemingly derelict building.

“I think this could be the option for us.”

It was empty. And dusty, and old, and did I mention a tad creepy?

Well, it was.

“I don’t…get it.” I got it. I was just afraid of what I got. “Eric, I know I’ve been working a lot of late nights lately, but we can slow down now, and we’ll have more time together. I know you need a project if you’re bored but –”

“Hear me out, okay? And if you hate the idea, we can go back to the drawing board.” He asked, all hopeful and excited. I hadn’t the heart to crush that. So, I listened. I listened as he explained in elaborate and intricate detail; the potential of the creepy building.

He had a file inside the building with photos, and floor plans, and all kinds of things. He really was bored, I realised. But I also realised how much he cared about an ‘us’ together all the time. He continued to surprise me, I really liked that. I then realised the more he unfolded his idea? The more I fell in love with it, too.

“And the best part? Sam said, his guy said, that this place is going for a steal right now because of the market. Like, only a few years ago it was going for twenty-million. Now?” He showed me the paper with the number on it, and for a building this size; it was surprising how little they wanted for it.

“I mean, we’d have to convert the whole place… but I think it could end up being really amazing. A project that we both get something out of in the end. A badass, unique-enough-to-impress-your-fashiony-friends, and somewhere we can really grow.” He laughed at his own words as he continued to explain, like a kid at Christmas just dying to show off his new toy. By giving us room to grow, I knew what he was getting at. The way we were living now was necessary, but not ideal. But we tried to spend as much of it as possible outside of our working hours together. Where we were now was a literal in-between point of both our lives at this point. Between our offices, my studio, and life in the city as we knew it, as well as being close enough to Emily’s school for it not to be a problem.

I took both his hands in mine, and moved in for the cuddle, ignoring the fact that my new shoes were stepping in something icky.

“You’ve really done your homework, haven’t you?”

“I was always the one kid that liked homework.” He grinned, his black-rimmed glasses sliding down his nose a little in the process. I popped them back in place, as was my usual manoeuvre.

“Do you hate the idea?”

“No, I really don’t. I mean, I won’t lie, when we got here I was extremely sceptical. But, you’ve made it seem legit, and kind of amazing.”

He smiled, big and wide, kissing me immediately and sweeping me off my feet in the process.

“It will take time, and work, and both our money –”

“I can –”

“Both our money, if it’s going to be our place.”

I nodded. He was making bank now, I knew that much. Between working with me, and his side gigs’ for Sam’s businesses, and accounting for a few models I knew. He wasn’t just my struggling assistant anymore, that’s for sure. Not that I minded either way, but at least now we were on more of an even footing financially.

I looked over his floor plans again. The closets were actually huge. There was even a room called ‘ Sookie’s clothes’. My Eric knew me so well. There was also a room labelled ‘nursery’, that one earned him a look. He just smirked, knowing well what the look was for too.

“You trying to tell me something, Northman?”

“No Ma’am. Just… in case, that’s all.”

“Just in case, huh?”

“Like I said, this place will give us the … freedom to grow. Should we want to? At some point. In the future.” He looked at me then, a sly look in his eye, sneaky. I couldn’t help but laugh.

“I see.” I hummed, taking a short walk further into the building. Four floors, industrial sized space. It would be a big job, but, we knew people that knew people. It could be done in less than a year if we went full steam ahead. A year from then, would I want to fill that nursery? It wasn’t something that scared me as much as it had in the past, which in itself was promising.

We agreed on the warehouse, and I called my building guy to go the next day and get the ball rolling, and to hire his architect and get us some more details on the original blueprints that Eric had drawn up. We were really going to do it, we were not just buying a house, we were making one out of the remains of a place that was once a hub of activity and life. We were breathing life into something that everyone had given up on. I refused to believe that I was over-romanticising the idea, I simply loved the thought of bringing new life to something long forgotten or tossed aside. We did it in fashion all the time, with trends and materials and patterns. Why should real-estate be any different?

Six hours later we’d signed off on getting the ball rolling on our warehouse-home. Eric was like a kid waiting for Santa as he made the necessary phone calls to various builders and contractors and all kinds of handymen I’d never even heard of before. I was the one in charge of finding an architect and an interior designer though, again, he knew me so well.

I was packing my vacation luggage, and my overnight bag for Eric’s place all at once, Eric had taken Emily to the dentist and I was put in charge of making a list of what they’d need to bring with them. We were doing two weeks in the Bahamas, and a week in Florida. Of course in order to get out of the city, I’d been fielding calls left right and centre from my new team. We had orders, we had a business to run after all. The show had been a success, and with that under my belt I felt a little bit more comfortable letting things go, letting the team do their job now, loosen the reins a touch. As I’d been so extensively requested to do, numerous times.

Then I got a call from a number I didn’t recognise, which normally I wouldn’t answer and let run to voicemail, but for some reason, I answered.

It was Claudine.

“Why are you calling me? Is Gran okay?”

“Gran’s fine. I’m… in your neighbourhood, I was wondering if I could stop by.”

Huh. A request I never thought I’d hear come out of her mouth, that’s for sure.

“Um, I’m a little busy…”

“Oh.”

“But, I guess that’s okay. I’m just packing. Come over whenever, I’ll leave your name with the doorman.”

“Thank, Sookie.”

Officially the strangest thing that happened that week. And that was saying something.

I had to call Eric to tell him.

“And she just called you up out of the blue?”

“Yes. This is weird. Maybe she’s dying.”

“Sookie…”

“Well? I can’t think of another reason she’d be reaching out to me. Fuck, Eric we haven’t talked since that Thanksgiving. What the hell could she want?”

“I guess you won’t know until you find out.”

“Thank you, Einstein.”

With that we said our ‘see you laters’ and a few seconds later there was a buzzing at my door. My curiosity got the better of me.

“Tina, let’s see what she wants, huh?” I said, passing my cat to open the door. There stood Claudine with a bunch of flowers and a bottle of champagne.

Ok, what the hell?

“These are for you. A congratulations, of sorts. On the show. I heard it was a hit. All the blogs are talking about your seamless transition to designing.”

I accepted, cautiously.

“Thank you. Come in, please.”

We walked awkwardly to my living room where we silently took our seats.

“Coffee?!” I offered, more than anything to break the tension.

“No, thanks. I have a meeting in a half hour but I just wanted to stop by, with those, but mostly… to talk to you.”

“Oh… okay? Can I ask, why? You’re not dying are you?” Blunt, sure but you never know!

“No. Not dying. Just going through a divorce, which feels about the same sometimes.”

I was expecting it, it wasn’t surprising. What was surprising was her admitting it to me in any shape or form. She was always one for putting on the big pretense.

“I’m …sorry to hear that.” I said.

“Are you?”

“What?”

“Are you sorry? If I were you, I wouldn’t be sorry. I’d be gleefully pointing and chanting ‘I told you so’.”

“Yeah, well, you’re not me.”

“No. I’ not.” She sighed. “No matter how hard I tried to be…”

“What?”

“Having Ralph serve me with divorce papers was hard enough, but now he’s threatening to take my Mila from me too.”

I almost felt bad for her, but I wasn’t totally convinced the kid wouldn’t have a more saner upbringing with her father, rather than her mother.

“But…” She composed herself, “that’s not why I came here. I don’t intent to cry on your shoulder.”

“Good, because I wasn’t offering it.” I snapped. I could be sympathetic, but who were we kidding here?

She pursed her lips.

“I came to say, that ultimately, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for how things went to shit with us, and for so long I tried not to be sorry for it. I tried to see you as the bad guy in all things, when really, I was the one that was scheming and jealous.”

I blinked. I thought for a second I was hearing things.

“I’m… What?”

“I’ve been seeing a really good therapist this past year. She’s made me…realise a few things. One of which being my internal competition with you. Ever since we were kids.”

“So you went after -”

“Ralph because he was yours? Completely.”

My heart sank. Not because it was something I didn’t already know, but I suddenly felt very sad for her and her life.

“I don’t get it.”

“Neither did I. I guess I was jealous of everything you had -”

“I was twenty one, Claudine. All I had was the last remains of the Freshmen fifteen and overdue rent!”

“I know, but you had this guy that seemed to love you, and he was artistic and amazing and you were happy. I wasn’t. That’s all it was.”

“And you’re surprised he’s divorcing you?”

“I grew to love him, in time, and with Mila. We did become a family. But he always loved you more, and that fucking killed me. He was with me out of obligation to his daughter. I always knew that.”

“This is just insane… You know that right?”

“Hence the shrink.” She sighed. “Sookie, this isn’t easy for me, in any sense of the word.”

“Yeah, no shit. You’ve spent the last part of ten years… more if it’s since we were kids… just resenting me for things I had no control over. What the fuck, Claudine, seriously? I never did ANYTHING to you to deserve all of that.”

“I KNOW. You think I don’t know that. If anything your innocence and obliviousness to my hate just made it worse. But I never realised it before now. One of my … steps… I guess they’re called. Is to face this shit. Which is why I’m here, making a fool of myself.”

We talked, mostly she talked for another twenty minutes, and we cleared the air. The air that at one point resembled the aftermath of an atomic bomb, now felt like a foggy winter in the city. Not perfectly clear, but somehow it was a lot easier to breathe around her. Self realisation wasn’t something I expected from her, but I was glad she was getting there, we all needed a little nudge in the right direction sometimes. I only hoped her divorce would let her see that it was only meant to be a chapter in her story, not the whole book. It left me wondering if we would appear in any future chapters of each other’s books. It was something to think about, that’s for sure.

The next morning at the airstrip, two sleepy eyed Northman’s and my over-caffeinated self took off on the Stackhouse company jet for our beyond overdue vacation. I was still allowed to borrow it, every now and then, I had a bit on an ‘in’ with the CEO an all. Emily was planning everything she wanted to do in Florida. We fully expected to spend that week in various theme parks, and I wasn’t sure who was more excited. Emily or Eric.

It made me smile, they were so alike sometimes it was a little scary. They certainly shared a sense of humour too. And a sense of ninja sneakiness. Because what I didn’t know at the time, was that both of them had been on a mission to pick me out another gift. This one in a smaller box, with diamonds. A gift that came with a very important question at the end of it.

Little did they know, my answer was already Yes. It would always be Yes.

Always.


A/N: And that’s really all she wrote. The end, Fin. All that good stuff. I really had ball writing this story, and I have loved hearing all your theories and ideas, and comments throughout. Thanks again for the support, and be sure to let me know what you think even if you catch this after I’ve hit the little ‘complete’ button. Thinky thoughts are always welcome! xo

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1 thought on “Complete Story : TDWD”

  1. saintsfan022010 said:

    I really enjoyed this story. Good job.

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