“So Pam,” Johan slithered up beside her at the bar. She was already rolling her eyes. “Do you sleep on your stomach?”
Pam turned to Johan with a look of pure confusion, clearly not expecting that to be his first question. “No.”
“Can I?” There went the eyebrows.
Eric and I both groaned while he leaned over and said, “That’s nothing. He’s got a million of ’em.”
“Great.” I was already feeling for Pam if this was how it was going to be all night.
Eric wasn’t at all kidding about the pickup lines. Johan was throwing them out right and left and every time Pam came back at him with something scathing. Yet, I couldn’t help but notice a little twinkle in her eye when Johan’s attention would be diverted to something else just for a minute. Even if she didn’t play for his team, it was obvious to me that in some sort of twisted way Pam enjoyed the attention she was getting from Eric’s twin.
Johan kicked off what he had christened our ‘liver disaster weekend’ with the four of us taking a shot of Patron and a toast that only Johan would give. “Here’s to honor, to getting honor, keeping honor and if you can’t come in her, come on her!” My jaw dropped at his toast but I drank to it anyway.
Pam leaned over to Johan and said, “Just for the record, you won’t be doing either.”
Johan wiggled his finger at Pam, motioning for her to come closer to him. She rolled her eyes but he kept it up. Finally, about three minutes later Pam gave up and moved closer to Johan who had a look of pure triumph on his face.
“I knew if I fingered you long enough, you’d come.” He leered at her.
“Oh gross!” I groaned and hid my face in Eric’s shirt.
“Bror, don’t be surprised if Pam rubber bands you.” Eric shook his head in warning. Pam burst out laughing. I knew I was missing something.
“What’s that all about?” I asked Eric as he led me to a table far, far away from Pam and Johan who were about to go another round on the world’s worst pickup lines.
“A couple of years ago Pam and I went up to New York to go visit Johan. Pam had finally found a woman she thought was worthy of her attentions. So Pam’s pretty much got this woman right where she wants her when Johan goes stumbling up to her and says something about how he thinks he knows her, but doesn’t recognize her with her clothes on.” Eric told me with a sigh of exasperation. It was things like that that made it really hard to believe Eric and Johan were related, let alone twins. “So of course, the woman Pam was chatting up walks away. We get back to Johan’s apartment and he’s so drunk that he falls face down on the living room. Total face plant. Pam proceeded to coil up rubber bands and throw them at the back of Johan’s head so they got stuck in his hair.”
“Oooh, ouch.” I knew how much that had to hurt.
“He ended up having to get his hair cut pretty short as a result.” Eric nodded.
“Wow.” That seemed a bit extreme for anyone else, but it seemed oddly justifiable since it was Pam. I made a note to myself never to bug her when she was with a prospect.
“Well, well, lillebror, look what I have here.” Johan suddenly appeared at Eric’s side and slapped down a quarter.
“Ooooh. I have one, too.” I teased Johan, clearly not getting the joke. In my defense I’d already had three gin and tonics. I was a bit cloudy by then.
“No, lover, it’s for a game. You’ve heard of Quarters, right?” Eric looked to me. I shook my head and Johan slapped the tabletop.
“Game on! Pam, get the whiskey!” Johan hollered.
“You want to play Quarters with whiskey?” Eric’s head whipped around like it was on fire.
“We’re big boys now, bror, I think we can handle it.” Johan said with confidence.
“How, exactly, do we play this game?” I asked Eric.
He explained the rules of the game to me, which sounded simple enough, but told me it was very easy to get very drunk very fast. “Normally it’s played with beer.”
“So you’re upping the stakes by playing with hard liquor.” I observed and Eric nodded. “You realize that if you get really, really drunk you’re probably going to end up sleeping on the lawn, right? There’s no way I can carry you in the house.”
“I’ll be fine, Sookie.” He leaned over and kissed me.
“Famous last words, Mr. Northman.” I felt a bit anxious about the whole thing but decided to throw caution to the wind. I knew I’d be perfectly safe with Eric and Johan. I also knew my limits and would bow out gracefully when I knew I’d had enough. I didn’t want to spend the night with my head in the toilet.
Pam procured a bunch of glasses from behind the bar as well as a few bottles for us to play with. Since I wasn’t much of a beer drinker I was allowed to play with my mixed drinks instead, easy on the alcohol at Eric’s insistence. Apparently he didn’t want his girlfriend to spend the night with her head in the toilet either.
“So are you any good at this game?” I leaned against Eric.
“I do okay.” He winked at me.
“You’ll see.” Another wink. Shit. I knew what that meant.
“You’re a fucking ninja at this, aren’t you?” I whispered in his ear and then bit his lobe. He shivered before turning to face me.
“You’ll see.” His lips caught mine and it wasn’t until Pam finally followed through on her threat and thew ice at us that we broke it up.
“Sorry, Pammy.” I giggled at her. The look on her face was priceless.
“Do not under any circumstances on this earth ever call me that horrific name ever again.” Pam’s eyes were narrowed and hostile.
“Sorry Pam.” I had to stifle a giggle.
Since I’d never played before I paid close attention to what the others were doing. It seemed as if had unofficially taken teams. Eric and I were on one team with Pam and Johan on the other. Thankfully Eric was as ninja as I’d thought he’d be or we would have been in deep shit. I tried to mimic the movements he made with his wrist to get the quarter to bounce effortlessly into the glass but it just wasn’t happening for me. Having Pam taunting me didn’t help one bit, nor did Johan’s occasional use of a really bad pickup line.
At one point Johan leaned over the table to Pam and said, “I love every bone in your body… especially mine.”
Eric nearly choked on his drink and I about fell out of my chair, both of us were laughing so hard. “I’m glad you two are enjoying this.” Pam glared at us.
“Oh, lighten up, Pammy, it’s all in good fun.” I leaned over and hugged her.
“Is this pick on Pam night?” Pam pried me off of her and threw me back at Eric.
Eric got his revenge on Pam and Johan with his next turn by bouncing three quarters successfully into the glass. In addition to getting Pam and Johan a little bit closer to obliteration he made a rule that everyone at the table had to be referred to by a nickname for the rest of the night, no street names allowed. I cringed on the inside, having a feeling things could get really ugly. I was the new kid on the block and didn’t have the sort of dirt on the three of them that they had on each other.
Somehow I ended up with the nickname ‘Jiggles’ and it wasn’t hard to figure out how I got that when I caught all three of them staring at my cleavage. “Ha. Ha.” I rolled my eyes at the three of them.
Eric gave me a reassuring squeeze and kissed the side of my head. Pam instituted the next rule where we all had to tell one embarrassing story about the person to our right. Finding an embarrassing story to tell about Eric wasn’t really possible for me since I couldn’t recall him doing anything embarrassing in my presence. Since it was Pam’s rule, she was the one to go first.
“The only remotely embarrassing story I have about Jiggles,” Pam winked at me, proud of herself for remembering to refer to me by my new nickname. “Is the night she met Eric and it’s not even really my story.”
I winced at having to use Pam’s nickname, but I wasn’t about to get myself into trouble by not saying it. “Vodkaknockers,” I could barely get it out without laughing. It was the most ridiculous name I’d ever heard and I was hoping that Johan would be telling the story of how Pam had come to acquire it. “Don’t you dare tell that story!”
“Sorry, Jiggles, it’s the rules.” Pam shrugged her shoulders all innocent like. “So Wallmark,” Eric’s nickname that made him turn bright red when it was mentioned. I definitely wanted to hear the story on that one, too. “Was working behind the bar because Felicia needed the night off for some bullshit reason or another. In walks Jiggles with one of her girlfriends and it’s her first time here. After a violent shove from her friend, Jiggles makes her way to the bar. Being the good barkeep that he is, Wallmark walks up to her and the first words out of her mouth are to ask for a Screaming Orgasm.”
I felt the heat of a furious blush climb up from my toes. Johan’s jaw dropped and he turned to Eric and said something in Swedish I didn’t understand, but got him a dirty look and a punch on the shoulder. Pam winked at me and it was my turn to come up with a story about Eric.
“Okay, this is going to sound lame but we haven’t known each other long enough for me to have an embarrassing story to tell.” I admitted. I was mocked with cooing sounds from Pam and Johan. “It’s true!”
“I call bullshit, Jiggles.” Pam shook her head. “I’ve known Wallmark for more than a decade. He’s not nearly as perfect as you make him out to be.”
“I never said he was perfect. I just said I don’t have an embarrassing story to tell.” I said in my own defense.
“Fine. Then you owe me a shot of Patron.” Pam poured the shot and slid it over to me. Did I mention she poured it into a double size shot glass?
I took a deep breath and stared down the shot. By that point I was beyond buzzed and making myself comfortable in Drunkville. If I took that shot, that’d be the end of it for me. I was so busy staring down that shot of tequila that I didn’t notice Eric had licked my wrist and put salt on it.
“Come on, Jiggles, we’re all waiting for you!” Johan encouraged from the other side of the table. Eric gave me a wink and I sighed before picking up the shot.
“You got a lime?” I groaned, causing Johan to cheer for me and pound on the table. If he weren’t normally so rowdy I’d think he was my next door neighbor in Drunkville.
Pam picked up a lime wedge and put it between her teeth. I looked over at Eric who looked less than amused. Johan, on the other hand, was practically drooling. I didn’t need a devil Sookie and an angel Sookie on my shoulders. I had the Northman Twins instead. Besides, I think the two of them were kidnapped by Jose Cuervo at some point during the evening.
“It’s up to you, lover.” Eric’s expression was one I couldn’t quite make out.
He seemed about as torn as I did over taking the lime wedge from Pam. It seemed as if he couldn’t decide whether seeing me almost kiss Pam would be really hot or a really good reason to go all caveman on my ass. There was a part of me that wanted to be a little bit bolder than usual and prove I could hang with the rest of them and not feel weird about it. On the other hand, I didn’t want to piss off my boyfriend.
“Do it! Do it! Do it!” Johan was banging on the tabletop.
I looked over my shoulder while I licked the salt off my wrist. I sucked back the tequila and before I could talk myself out of it, I dove over and took the lime from Pam without using my hands. Eric’s grip on my thigh tightened just a little bit. When I pulled back from Pam her eyes were all starry. Johan was silent and looked like he was going to have a stroke. I went to wipe the lime juice from my chin but was stopped by Eric.
“We’re going home. Now.” The look in his eyes told me he’d had a very specific reaction to my little stunt and he sure wasn’t angry.
Eric and I were making out like teenagers up against the wall outside the bar while we waited for our cab to pick us up. He was pressed against me and it was quite obvious that he’d gotten quite excited over my methods of procuring the lime. The only thing that allowed us to pry ourselves apart when the cab showed up was the knowledge that we were just five minutes away from his house- from his bed. We were just about to get in the car when the DJ announced he had a special request.
“This one is for Vodkaknockers from Thundercock with love and hopes for many happy returns.” Then ‘Love Me Dead’ by Ludo started to play and Eric and I collapsed into the cab in a fit of laughter.
I woke up the next morning with the worst hangover I’d ever had in my life. I groaned and rolled away from the window to bury my face in Eric’s shoulder, only there was no Eric. Without opening my eyes, I stretched out my arm. The bed was still warm so he couldn’t have been gone for too long. I heard the awful creaking of the bathroom door opening and I whimpered at how loud it was. I’m sure it wasn’t really as loud as it felt but it was like nails on a chalkboard to my aching head.
The mattress sagged when Eric sat down next to me. “Here, drink this.”
I opened one eye and looked up at him. “Please don’t shout.” I pouted and he smiled at me.
“You’ll feel better.” He spoke softly and held out a glass of water for me.
I groaned again before forcing myself up onto my elbows. He handed me a couple of aspirin and the glass of water. I swallowed the pills and drank the entire glass of water in just a few gulps. I handed the glass back and asked for more. He bent and kissed my head gently before disappearing into the bathroom. He came back a few seconds later with another full glass of water and I had to force myself up again. My muscles were screaming at me.
“I feel like I was hit by a freight train.” I grumbled after handing the glass to Eric again.
“We’ll take it easy today. Johan’s not back yet, thank God. We can just stay in and watch movies if you want.”
“I want breakfast and more sleep.” I snuggled under the covers to find I was naked. That pretty much answered the question of whether or not we had sex when we got home the night before. If I woke up naked, we had sex.
“What time is it?”
“Almost noon.” He stretched out next to me and I groaned with the realization that half the day was gone already. “What do you want for breakfast?”
“Not eggs.” There was a horrible taste in my mouth that would require some serious mouthwash in the near future.
“How about blueberry pancakes?” Eric suggested.
“Yes, please.” I offered him the weakest smile.
“I’ll keep Jeet out. Go back to sleep. I’ll bring you breakfast when it’s ready.” Eric kissed my head once more and as much as I would love to say that I hauled my ass out of bed to help him, I went right back to sleep.
The smell of blueberries and bacon pulled me from a dream I was having about being chased by a giant bottle of tequila, but it was the gentle sensation of Eric stroking my hair that got me to open my eyes. I turned my face toward his and smiled up at him. “How are you feeling?” He asked quietly.
“Better, thank you.” I started to sit up and then remembered I was still naked. “Could you pass me my bag?”
“No one’s here, lover.” Eric reminded me.
“I know but if Johan comes back I don’t want him bounding in here and catching me topless. You know if he did he’d never let that go.”
“It should be illegal to cover breasts that beautiful.” Eric handed me my bag.
“Watch it, Mr. Northman, you’re starting to sound like your brother.” I teased as I dug into my bag for my nightgown.”Where do you suppose he went after we left last night?”
“Your guess is as good as mine.” Eric shrugged and grabbed the tray he’d brought in from the kitchen.
Eric had gone all out for breakfast. He made his pancakes from scratch- I’d found that out the hard way when I woke up one morning to make them myself- and they were heavenly. I felt better once I had something in my stomach. I tried to get up to help Eric clean the kitchen but he wouldn’t let me. He insisted I stay in bed and be lazy for a while. I felt bad for sticking him with the clean up but I knew arguing would do me no good. I got out of bed long enough to use the bathroom. I washed my makeup off and tamed down my crazy bedhead as much as I could. I brushed my teeth and contemplated taking a shower, but decided to wait for Eric on that one. Maybe I’d be able to talk him into the big tub downstairs.
I’d just gotten back into bed when he came back to the bedroom and closed the door behind him. He made sure to lock it in case Johan came home. He slipped into bed beside me and we just laid there for a while, both of us silent. I tried to get comfortable enough to go back to sleep- the only logical thing to do with a hangover and a very full tummy- but it was just too bright in Eric’s room.
“Where are you going?” He grabbed for my hand when I got out of bed.
“Closing the shades.” I stumbled to the window to close the shades and then the curtains. All of a sudden it felt like I as in the Batcave. Perfection.
I tumbled back into bed only to be pulled across the mattress and secured in Eric’s arms. More and more it was becoming my favorite place to be. When I wasn’t there, I wanted to be. I missed him like crazy not more than five minutes after I’d walk away from him. It was the most insane thing. I started thinking about what Johan said to me before Eric woke up the morning before. I’d felt him standing there in the door for a few minutes before he made his presence known. I don’t know who he thought he was fooling. He’s got such a heavy stare that it’s almost impossible for me not to feel it.
“What’s going on in that head of yours, Miss Stackhouse?” Eric squeezed me closer to him, his fingers trailing up and down my arm.
“I’m thinking about something Johan said to me yesterday.” I admitted with a deep breath. Eric’s fingers stopping moving for just a split second and it was enough to make me wonder if maybe he was doing the same thing. “He asked me why we’re not living together.”
“And what’d you tell him?” Eric seemed almost hesitant to ask.
“That it’s too soon.” I tilted my face up toward his. “I know you heard what he said yesterday about where I fall on that silly scale you two have- which, by the way, is slightly offensive- and a part of me thinks it was just your brother spouting off to give the new girl a hard time, while the other part thinks he was entirely serious. I guess I just want to know if that was coming from him or from you?”
Eric tensed up a little bit and I started kicking myself for saying anything about it. What the hell was I thinking, bringing up the marriage talk so soon? There were a whole bunch of other steps that came before that and we hadn’t been together for that long. Mom had always said that when I met the right person, I’d know it. She used to tell me the minute she laid eyes on Dad she knew he was it for her. For the last month I’d been asking myself the same thing about Eric. Was he really ‘the one,’ or did I just want him to be? Waiting for him to say something was torturous and I started to get uncomfortable. My body started a revolt against whatever rejection I was suddenly sure I was going to be on the receiving end of, and I couldn’t be in Eric’s arms when he told me that he had no intention of us ever getting that far. Maybe this was a fling after all.
My eyes filled with tears while I silently cursed myself for not keeping my big mouth shut. It felt like hours had passed even though it really couldn’t have been more than a minute. Still, it was too much. The silence that stretched between us was unbearable.
“Sookie, wait,” Eric almost begged when I got out of bed. I kept my back to him so he wouldn’t see me crying.
“It’s okay, Eric. I’m gonna go shower and then I think we should go pick up your car.” I wiped at my face and grabbed my overnight bag off the floor.
Of course Eric didn’t listen and jumped out of bed before I could get to the bathroom. “Forget the car. Why are you crying, lover?” He brushed away my tears with the pads of his thumbs before cupping my face in his hands.
I struggled against him, not wanting to say anymore than I already had. How could he seriously not know why I was upset? “I shouldn’t have said anything.”
“Sookie, no, don’t do that.” Eric held my face up so I had to look at him when I wanted to look away. “Don’t run from me.”
“Then answer me, Eric. Was that Johan talking or was that you?”
Eric took a deep breath and closed his eyes. I got this sinking feeling in my chest that told me I should have listened to that little voice in the back of my mind that said Eric wasn’t taking this as seriously as I wanted to believe he was. The same voice had told me that if something was too good to be true, then it probably was. I’d silenced that voice because I wanted to believe that it was wrong, that Eric and I could really make things work. Then his hands fell away from my face and my tears started all over again. Whatever it was he was going to say he was having a hell of a time getting the words out.
“Say something!” I finally yelled at him. He flinched and went to sit on the edge of the bed. “Are you breaking up with me?”
Eric’s head snapped up. “No, God, Sookie, no, not at all.”
“So then what’s the problem, Eric?” I looked at him expectantly, hoping he would pull it together enough to say whatever it was that was on his mind. When he didn’t, I turned the other way.
“I love you.” He whispered it so quietly that at first, I wasn’t sure I heard it. It took a moment for my brain to process what he’d said.
I turned around slowly to find he was waiting for my eyes to find his. “What did you say?”
“I didn’t want to tell you like this.” He stood up and crossed the room in two long strides. His hands nearly swallowed my face the way he was holding it. “I wanted to tell you when you opened your eyes this morning, even before that. I should have. I love you, Sookie.”
My mouth hung open, not sure of what to say. Did I love Eric? I hadn’t given it a whole lot of thought. It felt like I should say it back but I didn’t want to say it just to say it. I wanted to be sure that I meant it when I said it. I stammered for a few seconds, trying to find words that would mean something- anything- but I just made sounds.
“You don’t have to say it back.” He didn’t look hurt or disappointed. “I didn’t say it so you would say it back. It’s how I feel and I wanted you to know it. I just didn’t want to say too much too fast.”
“Eric, I…” I trailed off, wanting badly to tell him I felt the same, but the words just wouldn’t come. “It’s not that-”
He cut me off with a kiss which was probably the best thing he could have done. “Say it when you’re ready, Sookie. I’m not going anywhere. I promise.”
His eyes told me he was telling me the truth and I immediately felt like an idiot for freaking out like I did. “I’m sorry I panicked like that.”
“No, it’s okay. I should have just told you instead of being dramatic about it. In trying not to freak you out I ended up doing it anyway.”
I got an idea at that moment that might take the sting off of me not being able to tell him I loved him just yet but I wanted him to know I wasn’t going anywhere either. “Listen, I have an idea and you can totally say no if you’re not into it.”
“I’ll be into it. You haven’t had a bad idea yet.” Eric smiled at me.
“Well, it’s just that it’s sort of a big deal and we haven’t talked about this kind of stuff, so there’s no pressure for you to say yes.” I was stalling.
“Sookie, just spit it out.” Eric prompted and brushed some stray hair away from my face.
“See, the thing is, I planned on going home for Thanksgiving. I bought the tickets months ago before we met. I don’t know what your plans are, but I’d really like it if you came to Louisiana with me.” I suggested nervously.
Eric’s face lit up like a Christmas tree. “Of course I’ll go with you. I was actually thinking of asking you to come to California with me to see my parents if you didn’t have any other plans.”
We both laughed and then I felt guilty for taking him away from his family. “Eric, if you want to go see your parents-”
“No, Sookie, it’s fine. I want to meet your family.” Eric assured me and I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding. It was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. “Now how about that shower?” His eyebrows wiggled.
“You read my mind.” I wiggled my eyebrows right back and off to the shower we went.
Eric rolled us over so he was on top of me and my legs immediately wrapped around him, urging him deeper inside of me. His mouth hungrily sought out mine and my fingers tangled in his hair to keep him close. My hips met his, keeping up with the quickening pace he was setting. I was getting close and the growl that escaped his mouth told me he was, too. I tugged on his hair gently, moving his head so his ear was close to my lips.
“Faster, baby, I’m so close.” I moaned and licked his ear.
I got another growl and he moved faster. I was right there and then he backed off. He pulled back and looked me in my eyes. He punctuated each of his words with a sift thrust of his hips. “I love you, Sookie.”
I’d never cried during sex before, but there was such intensity in his eyes that I couldn’t help it. He looked a little afraid, like he thought maybe he hurt me or that he’d been too rough so I pulled his mouth to mine again. I hated myself a little bit for not being able to say that I loved him. I poured everything I was feeling into that kiss so that he would know that I was more than okay. I wasn’t crying because I was in pain, but because I was happy and maybe a little overwhelmed. No one had ever looked at me the way he did.
My hands slipped out of his hair to find his. Our fingers laced together and we were still kissing when my orgasm washed over me. It seemed to go on forever and I wondered if that was the product of really being in love with someone. I’d never experienced anything like that with Quinn. I never felt like the world stopped around us and we were the only ones in it. Eric’s release came right after mine and he collapsed on top of me. I didn’t mind the weight on me. It felt good. It felt safe. It felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
He kissed me lazily as we rode out the aftershocks of our orgasms, our skin sticky and slick with sweat. He moved to roll off me, but I held him in place. “No, stay.” My eyes were a bit frantic. I wanted to stay that close to him.
He smiled at me and smoothed some of the damp hair off my forehead where it had matted itself. He kissed my face lightly, avoiding my mouth for the longest time. When he finally got to my lips there was more passion in that kiss than I’d ever felt from him before. My toes curled and my chest swelled. It hit me like a mac truck that I loved him and I was just about to say it when I heard the front door slam. Johan was home and I was never more glad Eric remembered to lock the bedroom door than I was about fifteen seconds later when Johan tried to walk into the room.
“We’re busy!” Eric shouted. He was ready to go again and I was in no position- literally- to turn him away.
“Well take a break. I have something I have to tell you!” Johan shouted in return.
Eric growled and I trailed my fingers up and down his back, making him shiver. “Go talk to your brother. I’ll wait for you.”
Rather than getting out of bed, Eric crashed his lips against mine. Apparently Johan was going to have to wait his turn. I felt weird about having sex with Eric, knowing that Johan was probably standing on the other side of the door, trying to figure out how to pick the lock to get into the room.
“Eric, I can’t with Johan standing outside the door.” I reluctantly turned my face away from his. He growled again and muttered something in Swedish, which took me completely by surprise. I didn’t know he could speak another language.
“I’ll kill him.” Eric forced himself off of me.
“Eric, can you speak Swedish?” I reached for his arm.
He looked over his shoulder at me and gave me one of those predatory looks that always made my lady business take the wheel. “Är det lägga dig på, älskare?” I felt shivers go through me and my skin broke out in goosebumps. Hearing him speak that way did things to me I never would have imagined. “Jag antar att det gör.”
“What did you just say?” My voice was all breathy. I hated Johan just then.
“He asked if it turns you on, Sookie!” Johan shouted from the other side of the door.
My face turned bright red and I rolled to bury my face in the pillows. I completely forgot Johan was standing on the other side of the door. I groaned with embarrassment.
“Excuse me, lover, I have to go kill my brother.” He leaned down and whispered in my ear so Johan couldn’t hear. “Bli inte klädd. Jag är inte färdig med dig än.”
The look in his eyes told me he’d said something serious and that I should stay right where I was. I was a little bit too much of a puddle to move, so I just nodded my agreement. He kissed me and then got out of bed to go kill his brother.