Chapter 10: Fortune & Fantasy


I cracked open my fortune cookie and pulled the little slip of paper from the inside. I often found myself wondering if anyone bothered look up the meaning of the word ‘fortune’ before labeling what was on those little slips of paper as such. Although, if what was on mine was correct, I was going to be a very happy man very soon.

“So, what’s it say?” Sookie urged from across the table with a devilish glint in her eyes.

“Do not mistake temptation for opportunity… in bed.” I added those two extra words at the end, playing the game that was always good for a laugh. This time was no exception and Sookie blushed a bright shade of pink as she threw her head back to laugh. “What’s yours say?”

The amusement vanished from her eyes and was replaced by lust and a little bit of longing. I gulped, wondering just what her cookie was telling her. She cleared her throat almost ceremoniously and then read the little piece of paper in her fingers.

“Flattery will go far tonight… in bed.” Damn right it would.

“Why, Miss Stackhouse, does that mean you would consider spending another night with me?” I reached for her hand.

She gave me a look that I couldn’t quite decipher. The fates intervened at that moment as the waitress placed our check on the table between us. Sookie made a grab for it but I wouldn’t let her take it. We argued over who would pay until I told her she could next time. She nodded her agreement reluctantly and I put a credit card inside the little folder that had been left on the table.

“What’s on your mind, Sookie?” I asked her after she stayed silent for a few minutes. I could tell she was thinking hard about something.

She took a drink of her water and smiled up at the waitress who came back for the bill. “Let’s talk about it when we get out of here.”

Shit. That didn’t sound good. Normally the prospect of having Sookie all to myself for a little while made me do an internal happy dance. At the moment, I was feeling anything but happy. I don’t know how she did it, but she had the ability to turn me into a cowering insecure mess. It really was like being sixteen all over again and having my first girlfriend. I figured out the reasons why relatively quickly. Sookie was the first girl I ever cared about what she thought of me. The others were fun and I had enjoyed their company, to an extent, but it wasn’t just Sookie’s company I wanted.

While emailing back and forth during study hall that afternoon she’d confessed that it had been her ex at the door the morning we overslept. He’d called her later on in the day to tell her he wanted to talk. She’d hesitated over it, not sure if it was a good idea to talk to him. She was more the clean break type, which scared the shit out of me. I knew what that meant since I was the same way. Once a relationship was over, it was over. There was no talking about reconciliations, there was no let’s-just-be-friends. It was just done. Over. Forever. The thought that I might some day be on the receiving end of one of those talks made me a little sick to my stomach.

If I was about to get that talk from her, I didn’t know what I was going to do. We weren’t even officially a couple but that didn’t matter to me. I had every intention of moving us onto that next level. I would do just about anything to see that happen. But I also knew she’d loved her ex deeply. Maybe he’d come to his senses and realized what a brilliant catch she was and decided he could offer her all the things she’d wanted. I really hoped that wasn’t the case.

We stayed silent while I signed the receipts and added the tip for the waitress. With a look we silently agreed that it was time to go. I felt only a slight bit of comfort when Sookie reached for my hand as we walked out of the restaurant. The place was packed and we had to slither to get out of there.

Finally, we were spilling out onto the busy street in front of us. There were people everywhere, all of them in search of dinner. Sookie started to tug me to the left. “The car’s that way.” I pointed in the other direction.

“Ever had gelato before?” Sookie looked up at me. My confused expression was all the answer she needed. “It’s delicious. Come on.” She pulled me toward our next destination. There was a fairly long line to get inside the little restaurant called Massa’s, but once we purchased our gelato, I found out why.

“This is delicious.” I said as I tasted the hazelnut ice cream I was holding.

“I know.” She winked at me and we started to walk.

“So what’s going on in your head, Sookie?” I wanted to clear the air. I didn’t like the tension that had built between us over the last few minutes. If she was going to break off whatever this was between us, I’d rather she just got it over with. She hesitated and I stopped walking. “Sookie, if you’re going to break up with me…” I couldn’t even finish my sentence. Just saying the words hurt.

“What?” She whipped around to face me. “Eric, why in the world would I do that?”

“You’ve just been really quiet and when I mentioned us spending more time together you looked disappointed.”

Sookie closed her eyes and took a deep breath. That didn’t ease my nerves one bit. “Eric, I don’t want to break up with you.”

Ah, relief, there you are. “So then what’s the problem?” I tried to be as gentle about it as I could.

“The problem is that I want to spend more time with you.” Sookie smiled faintly. I failed to see the problem.

“And that’s bad?”

“It’s bad because it’s not summer anymore and we don’t have all the free time we usually do. I think about you all day long. Knowing that you’re somewhere in the same building drives me crazy. All I want to do is walk out on my classes and go be with you but I can’t do that. And then I see you in the halls sometimes,” She never mentioned that to me before. When had she seen me? “And I just want to drag you into an empty classroom and do all the things we said we wouldn’t on school property.”

“Don’t let me stop you.” I teased and she swatted at my arm.

“Not. Helping.” She glared up at me even though she was smiling.

“I’m sorry, Sookie, but I will never discourage you from wanting to sexually harrass me.”

Sookie groaned and turned away in frustration. “Eric…”

“Sookie, it’s normal to want the things you want when you meet someone you’re attracted to. Believe me, I think about you all day long myself.” I reached up to touch her face and she leaned into me just a little. “Do you know what the best part of my day has been this whole week?”

“Making out on either of our couches until we can’t breathe?” Sookie snickered.

I smiled at her and said, “That has certainly been good. It will absolutely make the highlight reel in my life, but no, that hasn’t been the best part.”

“I’m intrigued.” Sookie popped her hip and took a bite of her gelato.

“The best part, without fail, as been the way you smile at me when you see me first thing in the morning. It’s like you’re afraid it’s all been a dream and you’re happy to realize that it’s not.” I explained to her and I saw her lower lip quiver just a little. Shit. If I made her cry I’d never hear the end of it.

But suddenly there was her Morning Smile and she tugged me closer by my belt loops. I lowered my mouth to hers and kissed her. The kiss deepened and she backed up against the building behind her. We stood there kissing until a car full of teenagers passed by us, whooping and hollering at us to get a room. We pulled apart reluctantly, both of us laughing quietly.

“What do you say, Sookie? Wanna get a room?” I whispered to her, tucking some her hair behind her ear.

“Yes, I do.” She grinned at me but before I could make a suggestion, she continued. “But not tonight.”

Huh? Was she serious?

“It’s not that I don’t want to spend tonight with you, because I do, but I don’t want us to rush and we will because it’s a school night.” Sookie smiled up a me, her fingers slowly walking up my chest.

“Did I ever tell you I like the way you think?”

“No, but you heard what the fortune cookie said.” She winked at me and then started walking again.

Open house went smoothly, though there wasn’t quite as much for me to talk about as there was for other teachers. PE class was pretty much a no brainer. I taught a class that cycled through weight training, basketball and volleyball. We were starting the year with volleyball, which meant meeting in the field house five days a week. Then when we went into the weight training portion of the semester we’d be down in the weight room next to the dance studio and across the hall from the lab pre-school run by Claudine Crane, child development teacher and cheerleading coach. Our final rotation would be finished up in the north gym above the girls’ locker room on the south end of the school.

By the time the night wrapped up, I was wiped out. My late nights with Sookie were starting to catch up with me. We had agreed to spend the night in our own beds. The idea of going back to my house and sleeping alone wasn’t as appealing as it once was but I understood where Sookie was coming from. Sleeping in the same bed and just sleeping was becoming increasingly difficult to do. The realization that I wanted sex with her to be more than just an act fell on my head like a ton of bricks. It had never mattered to me in the past the way it did now.

So we agreed we would say our goodnights in the parking lot and then go our separate ways for the night. I’d see her in a matter of hours but I would miss waking up next to her. We also agreed that we’d go out the following night. I already had an idea of what I wanted to do but I needed to get home and do a little research on the internet to make sure my plans wouldn’t be foiled.

As soon as the last parent cleared out of the gym I made my way toward the south end of the school. I’d parked my car next to Sookie’s when we’d gotten back from dinner. I had been leaning up against my car for about fifteen minutes when Sookie appeared from the same set of doors she entered each morning. She was balancing her purse, laptop bag, a travel mug, a stack of poster boards and her keys. In just a few long strides I was standing in front of her and taking some of her burdens from her.

“Thanks.” She smiled up at me once I’d secured the posters and her travel mug.

“No problem. What are the posters for?” I held up the sheets.

“For try outs next week. One is for sign ups on Monday. One will be for tracking scores and results and the last two will be for announcing the squads.” Sookie explained to me as we walked to her car.

“Sounds very organized.”

“You must go through something similar with basketball.”

I shrugged and put the posters into her back seat once her doors were unlocked. “I make notes and things but that’s about it. I go by my gut. I would rather take a player with a lot of heart and desire to improve than some cocky little shit who thinks he’s got it in the bag because he can dunk.”

“So you’re not in it for the win? Does the school board know this?” Sookie teased me.

“The school board knows that I was part of a NCAA championship team.” I gave her a smug smile. I was surprised when she kissed me instead of rolling her eyes or admonishing me.

“You really do think you’re a big deal, don’t you?” She shook her head with amusement.

“Does it bother you?”

Sookie bit her bottom lip nervously before admitting, “Not as much as it should.”

I wanted to kiss her again but decided it was probably a bad idea since there were still parents and faculty members around. “Are you sure I can’t talk you into coming by the house for just a little while?”

Her brows furrowed together and I could tell she was considering it. “Not tonight. If I stop by, I’m going to get comfortable and then there’s going to be problems. Tomorrow, though, I promise I’m all yours starting at four o’clock.”

An old John Steinbeck quote came rambling through my head about discontent and the Bastard Time and I found myself chuckling. Sookie got a laugh out of it herself when I explained it to her. I walked her over to the driver’s side of her car with my hand on the small of her back. She opened the door and lowered herself down behind the wheel. I closed the door for her once she was inside and she started the car. Her window came down and she looked up at me.

“Any hints about where you’re taking me tomorrow?” She batted her eyelashes at me in an almost cartoonish way.

“Nope. All I can tell you is to dress casually and bring a sweater.” I leaned down, bracing my arms on the ledge of roof of the car.

“That’s all I get?” She pouted.

“You get this, too.” I leaned in and kissed her. Her foot hit the accelerator, revving in the engine and making us both laugh.

“One more for the road?” Again with the pouting. How could I say no?

I kissed her one more time and then backed up so she could pull out of her parking space. She wiggled her fingers at me and then headed down King Street. I watched until her tail lights got all the way down to Scott Street four blocks away, where she made a left. I sighed and got into my own car. It sucked to know that she wouldn’t be waiting for me at my house when I got there.

Jeter, on the other hand, was more than excited to see me when I walked in. Instead of going in the front door, I went through the gate and opened the kitchen door. I called for the dog and he came tearing through the kitchen at top speed. He jumped on me and pawed at my chest before losing interest and running out to the yard to do his business. I grabbed a set of keys off the hook near the door and followed Jeter out into the yard. I opened the garage door and stepped inside.

I reached to the left and flipped on the light. Jeter came in behind me, attempting to squeeze in between me and the door frame. He managed to wiggle his way through and then began to sniff around the car that was covered over with a white drop cloth. I pulled the cloth off the car and looked closely at it. I hadn’t taken it out since earlier in the summer. Mostly, it lived in my garage. It was Johan’s car. He’d left it with me when he’d moved to Sweden.

It was a 1963 Mercury Comet convertible that had once belonged to Dad. It was turquoise with a white top and interior. It had been perfect for Johan and I when we were still living at home and going surfing almost every day. There were a lot of stories that were spawned from the back seat of that particular car, and not all of them belonged to my brother and me. Annika had driven it before Johan and I got our hands on it once we were old enough. It was a beautiful car but I only drove it for special occasions and to make sure it stayed in perfect condition.

I inspected the car to make sure it was clean and ready to go out the following night. When I was convinced it was good to go, I went back into the house and down to the basement to work on my laptop for a while. I did some surfing on the web and got the information I needed for my date with Sookie the following night. I was just shutting down the laptop when my phone started to buzz in my pocket. Before I even pulled the phone out I knew it was either Sookie or Pam calling. I hoped it was Sookie, so of course, it was Pam.

“Hello, Pam.” I greeted her with as little bitterness as I could.

“So you’re alive. I was starting to wonder.” The background noise suggested she hadn’t even left the main area of the bar before calling me.

“I’ve been busy.”

“With Sookie, no doubt.”

“Yes, with Sookie.”

Pam snorted and said, “I didn’t think she’d make it past breakfast. She looked like she was ready to bolt before I left.”

“Things change.”

“Shame I never had sex with you when I had the chance.”

I groaned at that. There had been one drunken night in college that had just been a disaster from the start. Pam and I had each broken up with a girl. It wasn’t the loss to me that it was to Pam. She’d legitimately cared about the person she was with. For me, it just meant sleeping alone and starting over. I wasn’t heartbroken like Pam was. We’d spent the better part of the night drinking cheap wine and bitching about women. It was times like those when hanging out with Pam was like hanging out with one of the guys. Only Pam was wearing Jimmy Choos while she did it.

“Pam, I have no interest in wooing you over to my side.”

“Good, because I have no interest in being wooed. All it would have done is fuck up our friendship and it’s fucked up enough already.” I admired Pam’s ability to say exactly what she was thinking. “So, what’s the deal with you and the preschool teacher?”

I sighed and said, “She teaches history, Pam.”

“Whatever.” I could practically hear the eye roll going on about a mile and a half away. “Quit stalling.”

I told her about the last few days and the fact that Sookie and I had been having sleepovers, but no sex. Pam snorted again and I’m sure more eye rolls. I told her that Sookie and I had plans for the following night and what I had up my sleeve for our second date.

“Sounds to me like you’re falling for her.” Pam observed.

“I think I am.” I knew I was and Pam knew it, too. She’d known me too long.

“Bullshit, Northman.” That’s my Pam. “For what it’s worth, I like her, even if she did have that deer-in-the-headlights look about her.”

“Trust me, she’s not as skittish as you might think.” I didn’t want to tell Pam about the reasons for Sookie’s odd behavior Saturday morning. Frankly, it was none of her business and I didn’t think Sookie would appreciate it if I brought it up. If she wanted Pam to know, Sookie could tell her herself.

“She can’t be if she’s spending as much time with you as you say. You always hated the wallflower types.” That was true. “You want me to pop in and let Jeter out for you?”

For a second I thought I was dreaming. Pam wasn’t known for unsolicited acts of kindness. “Depends on what it’s going to cost me.”

“Nothing.” Pam had the nerve to sound offended that I would assume she had ulterior motives than just being a good friend. “Look, Eric, you should be happy. It’s about fucking time. You’ve been dragging your ass around existing for long enough. You should live. I mean really live.”

She was right. I’d never thought of what I was doing as just existing, but she was absolutely right. Since Johan left, the only person I ever really talked to on a regular basis was Pam. While I loved her, in my own way, that wasn’t exactly the ideal relationship for either of us. But until Pam said something I hadn’t even realized I was looking for something more.

“So if this girl makes you happy, then I will make an effort to be nice. If that means taking care of your mutt, then that’s what I’ll do. Besides, you’re much more pleasant to be around when you’re getting laid regularly.”

Call waiting beeped in my ear and I grinned to see Sookie’s name flashing on my phone. “Pam, my other line’s ringing. I’ll call you tomorrow.” I promised her.

“Must be Sookie. You wouldn’t hang up on me for anyone else. Don’t bother calling me back. I have a key. I do need you to stop in on Saturday to sign off on a few things, though.” She warned.

“No problem. See you then.” I said and clicked over. “Hello.”

“Hi.” Sookie sounded tired and sad.

“Is something wrong?”

“You’re not here.” She answered without hesitation.

“I could change that. I could be there in fifteen minutes, ten if I break a few speed laws or run a red light or two.” I was completely serious.

“No, don’t do that. Just talk to me for a few minutes until I get sleepy enough to drop off.” She instructed.

“Am I that boring already?” I teased and she giggle quietly.

“That’s not what I meant. I just like the sound of your voice.”

“What are you wearing?” I asked her and she laughed again.

“Eric, stop! I didn’t call you for that either.” Too bad. “But for the record I’m wearing an old Bon Temps football t-shirt and a pair of boy shorts.”

“Is that it? I just want a proper visual.” I leaned back in my chair.

“That and a smile.”

Fuck. Me.

“You know you’re not making it easy for me to stay put.”

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to make it hard.” Minx.

“Sookie…” I said in a tone full of warning. “You remember what my fortune said earlier about mistaking temptation for opportunity.”

“Yes, I remember.” She sighed and I heard the rustling of her blanket. “So what are you up to?”

“Just sitting in my basement. I was doing some research on line for tomorrow night. I talked to Pam for the first time since Saturday. She’s impressed you haven’t run screaming the other way.”

“I’m no scaredy cat.” Sookie said smugly.

“That’s what I told her. I think she was hoping she’d have a chance in talking you into playing for her team for a little while.” I explained to her.

“I’ve never had even the slightest bit of curiosity about that. Pam’s beautiful, but I’m not attracted to her.” Sookie spoke with confidence.

“That’s good to know. Pam will be heartbroken, of course.” She’d also bounce back in a matter of moments. Pam had a rebound rate that would make Hugh Hefner jealous.

“She’ll get over it.” Sookie said with a mock sympathy.

We talked for a few more minutes, most of which were spent with Sookie trying to get me to cough up the details on our plans for the next night. I refused to tell her anything even when she told me she hated surprises.

“Don’t worry, Sookie, it’s not like I’m taking you to witness a blood ritual or a satanic sacrifice.”

“Well that’s good to know.” I could hear her pout.

“That’s more like a fifth date activity.”

“I hate you.” She muttered but I knew she was smiling.

“No you don’t, but thanks for trying.” I teased and got out of my chair to head upstairs.

I locked the kitchen door and turned off the lights before checking the front door and turning off the lights there as well. Jeter followed me down the hall to my bedroom and made himself comfortable on the floor close to the bed. I set my alarm for the following morning and stretched out on my bed.

“You know, if you had just slept here tonight we’d already be sleeping.” I pointed out to her.

“No, we wouldn’t.” She said with certainty. “So what are you wearing?”

“I thought you didn’t want to play?”

“It’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. Besides, I want to make sure I have the right visual.”

“I actually haven’t change clothes yet, so I’m wearing the same thing I was the last time you saw me.”

She moaned quietly into the phone, making my pants suddenly feel like they were a size too small. Because of the open house, I’d dressed up a little bit in black dress pants, a white button down shirt and a blue tie. I hated ties. I’d taken that off the second open house was over.

“Do you have any idea how bad I wanted to grab you by your tie earlier and drag you into that office we were in yesterday?” Sookie purred.

Yep, my pants were officially too small. “Sookie, you have to stop.” I groaned at the memory of what she’d done the day before. The fact that she didn’t seem to know how sexy she was only made her sexier.

But of course, Sookie didn’t stop there and before I knew it we were engaged in phone sex. Not what I had expected when I’d seen her name flashing on my caller ID, but I knew after I got off, I’d sleep like the dead. Listening to Sookie pant and moan in my ear as she got herself off was a much bigger turn on than I’d thought it would be. I was once again stunned how she could be so modest and proper one minute and a mewling sex kitten the next. She also had a dirty mouth when she wanted it and had no problems telling me all the things she wanted me to do to her. I remembered every single one of those things and planned to do them as soon as she’d allow it.

“I’m so wet, Eric.” She breathed into the phone. Knowing she was close enough that I could put an end to our suffering but she wouldn’t let me was frustrating, to say the least. “I’m so close.” She whimpered and then gasped for air.

She wasn’t the only one who was close. “Come with me, Sookie.” I grunted into the phone. The memory of what it felt like to be inside her when she came overwhelmed me and that was my undoing. She cried out at the same time I finished, leaving us both breathing heavy.

“Thank you, Eric.” She mumbled into the phone.

“The pleasure was all mine, Sookie.”

“No, it wasn’t.” She assured me. “Goodnight.”

“See you in the morning.” I promised her and then went to go get cleaned up once we’d hung up.

Ten minutes later, I was sound asleep.


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