Chapter 8: Sleepwalk
That shift between Eric and me is noticeable to everyone at work pretty much immediately, not that I’m trying to hide it. As long as Stan doesn’t care that I’m seeing Eric outside of work, I don’t care what anyone else thinks. On Wednesday Jessica and I are working the same shift and she picks me up for it. The second I get in the car she verbally pounces on me.
“Okay, spill it. What’s this I heard from Holly that you were kissing Eric in that back room last night?” Jess demands.
I smile and say, “I was kissing Eric in the back room last night. So what?”
I went to visit him the night before since I had nothing better to do. Tuesday nights are usually pretty slow and it was after the dinner rush so he didn’t have anything to do anyway but wait for dishes to finish in the washer. I sat on the stainless steel counter back there and we talked until I couldn’t take it anymore, and we ended up making out for a good twenty minutes before he had to pull away.
There isn’t going to be any sex in the workplace, no matter how much I want him.
And I want him bad.
“So what?! Sookie, the man is rumored to not have a tongue!”
“Oh he has a tongue,” I grin.
Jessica looks positively stunned and it makes me laugh.
“It’s not a big deal, Jess,” I insist.
“The hell it isn’t. Sook, how did this even happen, and why am I finding out about it from Holly?”
She starts driving toward the diner and I start talking. Holly wasn’t supposed to see us, not that I care. Who I’m making out with is none of her business, but I get why this is shocking to my coworkers.
“Okay, if I tell you this you have to promise not to freak out on me,” I start.
“That’s never a good way to start a story, but I’ll do my best.”
I blow out a deep breath.
“Alright, remember how I was sick a couple weeks ago?”
“I wasn’t sick. That Friday night, the last time I worked before I was sick, those two guys that asked for me ended up tracking me down when I was walking home. They trapped me in an alley and tried to rape me,” I tell her with a shaky voice. I fast forward through the details of the attack so I don’t get emotional, but Jessica stops the car on a side street.
“Oh my god, Sookie, why didn’t you… Are you okay?” Jess is all concern.
“Yes, I’m okay. They didn’t… I mean one got close, but then Eric showed up and stopped them. He got me home and stayed on my porch until I woke up.”
Jessica’s eyes fill with tears. She takes her seat belt off and leans over the console between us to hug me tightly.
“Jess, I’m really okay,” I assure her.
“Did you go to the police?”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Sookie! You have a witness to the attack. There’s no way they’d get away with what they did to you.”
I hadn’t even thought about the witness thing.
“I just want to forget about it,” I tell her. “And I don’t want Eric to get in trouble for defending me. Tony Dogs saw them at the hospital and Eric fucked them up pretty good. They haven’t come by the diner and I don’t want the cops blaming me for the assault. I probably should have just taken a cab that night…”
“Don’t. Do. That. This is not your fault, Sookie. You didn’t ask for this,” Jessica insists and wipes her tears off her cheeks. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yes, I’m sure. Eric’s been following me home at night to make sure I’m safe ever since my car broke down. I didn’t know that until the attack. He apologized to me for being late, Jess.”
She clutches her chest with moony eyes and says, “Marry him.”
I laugh at her sudden change of heart.
“We’re not quite there yet, but I do like him, Jess. Heroic measures aside, he’s really sweet and we have really great talks. Plus he’s an amazing kisser.”
“This sounds like a completely different Eric,” she says.
“It kind of is, but he has his reasons for being so quiet. He had a very rough childhood, and not like the usual divorce thing. Like he dealt with the kind of stuff that never leaves you,” I tell her. “I know that sounds like a great big tease but I can’t tell you about his past without his permission.”
“Are you happy?”
“I am… I don’t even know the word. Happy doesn’t cut it.”
I want Jess to be okay with this, but I don’t need her blessing. She knows this but she also knows her opinion matters a great deal to me.
“As long as he keeps making you smile like that, he’s got my vote,” she says.
I feel a little weight ease off my shoulders. Jessica puts the car back in drive and gets back on the road.
“Jessica knows about us,” I tell Eric when we get a few quiet minutes during a lull later that night. “She knows about the attack, too, and that you were there for me. You won her over, but she might still grill you.”
I feel like I owe him a warning. Eric is good with talking to me, but I don’t know how he’ll react to Jessica confronting him and it’s only a matter of time until she does.
“You said us,” he smiles. “We’re an us now?”
I feel a moment of panic. Maybe I’ve been reading the signals all wrong. Lord knows it wouldn’t be the first time.
“Yes, we are,” he confirms and the rest of the weight I’ve been carrying around lifts off my shoulders.
To my surprise, Eric pulls away from me and goes to the jukebox. He puts a quarter in it and makes his selection. As he’s walking toward me, ‘Sleep Walk’ starts to play. He extends a hand to me and I take it. Our hands stay connected and his other hand pulls me closer by my hip.
I get into his personal space and rest my head against his chest. Slowly we start to turn in circles and the hand on my hip moves to the small of my back. A tidal wave of emotion hits me all at once as we move together. No one has ever treated me the way he does and as crazy as it sounds I suddenly know that Eric is The One.
When I look up at him there’s this look on his face like he knows it, too.
I reach up to touch his cheek with my free hand as we keep turning in slow circles. Our eyes meet and I tell him, “I’m going to fall in love with you.”
He doesn’t hesitate to dip his head and kiss me, and I kiss him back. We stop dancing and it’s like the rest if the world completely falls away. All I need is him and I never saw it coming.
We start to dance again and I can’t help but get that clichéd feeling of being home. There’s something so familiar about Eric even though I hardly know him. I know enough, though. I’m impulsive, sure, but I’m not stupid. I can learn the details of his life just like he can learn mine.
I’m not following my head on this one; I’m following my heart, and what my heart wants is Eric.
“Sookie!” Jessica calls and then I hear footsteps approaching us. “Never mind,” she giggles when she sees Eric and me kissing.
I smile against Eric’s lips as the song comes to an end.
“I want to come over after we get off tonight,” I tell him.
“Okay,” he nods.
“I should get back to work.” I start to back away.
Just the idea of being in the front of the restaurant while he’s in the back room feels like he’s too far away from me. I have never felt like this before. It’s both scary and good at the same time.
I look over my shoulder before rounding the corner, and as always, Eric is watching me. I blow him a kiss and then disappear to go find Jessica.