I stomped out of the bedroom prepared to punch my brother right in the balls for interrupting us like he did, but the look on his face when I walked out of the room told me he’d had one hell of a night. His left eye was bruised and his lip was swollen. Whatever he’d done clearly didn’t agree with someone and I wondered if Pam had finally lost whatever patience she had and clocked him.
“What the hell happened to you last night?” I led him toward the kitchen so he’d have more privacy- not that he cared much about that- but also because I didn’t want Sookie to hear it.
“After you left last night things got a little crazy.” He told me in Swedish. “Pam and I kept drinking. We were goofing around like we always do and I guess she had just enough drinks to forget that she was into women.”
I cringed at the idea of my brother and Pam having sex. “Did you sleep with her?”
“Bror, Pam and I are never going to happen, we both know that. And honestly, if she suddenly changed her mind it would be too weird. I’d always have it in my head that she was thinking she wasn’t really with me.”
“Bror, don’t-” I held up my hand. I was so past the point where the idea of having sex with Pam sounding remotely appealing to me. She was beautiful and I loved her, but I had absolutely no desire to sleep with her.
“We were dancing and it got a little heated. We ended up kissing for a few minutes, but that’s it.” Johan admitted and I shook my head.
“I know, it was stupid.” Johan collapsed on one of the stools at the island. “So there we were on the dance floor and all of a sudden some guy comes up to me and pulls me off of Pam and decks me. I knew it wasn’t her boyfriend since, well, Pam doesn’t have a boyfriend. He started shouting about how he knew I was a cheating asshole and I would do nothing but hurt her.”
I groaned and my head sank. “What’d he look like?”
I was expecting Johan to tell me the guy was about my height, bald and had purple eyes. Instead he described a guy that was about six inches shorter with dark hair and eyes. He had a southern accent and he was wearing a wedding ring. Bill fucking Compton.
“For a little guy he hit pretty hard. It took Clancy, Chow and Rasul to get him away from me. They threw him out of the bar and told him not to come back. Pam was pissed and wanted to go out there to finish what he started but Indira and Felicia held her back. Once all the excitement calmed down people got bored and started to leave the bar. Pam went back to the office with that waitress Ginger and I didn’t see her again for the rest of the night. I was outside waiting for a cab to bring me back here when this woman pulls up. She stopped and offered me a ride home. She thought I was you. She said she was your neighbor and I figured it would be easier to just catch a ride home than it would be to wait for a cab.”
I flinched, knowing exactly which of my neighbors had picked him up. I looked over toward Red Menace’s house and had the overwhelming urge to go over there and slug her. Up until I met her, I thought Pam was the most infuriating woman I would ever meet.
“Please tell me you didn’t spend the night with her.” I said in a stressed tone with my eyes closed.
Johan’s silence was all the confirmation I needed. “Bror, I didn’t think it would be a problem. I was fucked up and worked up from the fight and dancing with Pam and-”
“Stop!” I didn’t want to hear anymore.
“Don’t, Johan, just don’t.” I turned to walk out of the room.
“Bror, we can work this out.”
I snickered and shook my head. “Not right now, Johan. I’m gonna go stay at Sookie’s tonight. I’ll see you when I get back from work tomorrow.”
“For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.” He apologized, which was something rare for him to do so I knew he meant it.
“We’ll talk about it tomorrow. You should eat something and get some sleep.” I didn’t look back at him before heading back to the bedroom.
Sookie was right where I left her but she’d obviously heard us. “Is everything okay?”
I closed the door behind me and leaned against it for a minute. “Can we stay at your place tonight?”
“Eric, what happened?” She looked at me with concern.
She looked beautiful laying there with the sheets pulled up over her body. I wasn’t quite ready to talk about about it yet. I heard the water start downstairs for the shower and decided to make the most of the few minutes I knew we’d have without Johan bothering us. I locked the door and then got back into bed with her.
“Eric, Johan’s here.” She pushed at my shoulders when I climbed on top of her.
“He’s in the shower.” My lips brushed hers.
“Okay, but he won’t be for long and-” I cut her off with a much deeper kiss and didn’t waste anytime reaching between her legs to touch her. “Eric,” She whimpered while I touched her.
Her hips bucked up against my hand when I found the right spot and my lips crashed against hers again. “Gud, du är så sexig.” I whispered to her as she writhed underneath me. She moaned and small hands started to push my boxers down. Her eyes met mine and I said, “Jag älskar sättet du ser på mig när du vill att jag ska knulla dig.”
Her legs hitched up around my waist, both of us breathing like we’d been running a marathon. My boxers were down just enough for her to free me from their confines. She stroked me gently a few times before guiding me inside her. She was so warm and wet. Nothing in the world felt better than being inside her. The sex was frenzied, almost as if we were afraid it was the last time we’d ever be together. We both came hard and fast, clinging to one another as it happened.
She smoothed my hair back from my face and kissed me gently. All of the tension and frustration I’d been feeling over what my idiot brother had done was gone. All that mattered to me just then was her. Her body was still shaking under mine when she looked up into my eyes.
“If you keep speaking Swedish, we’re never going to get out of bed.” She alerted me and I couldn’t help but laugh.
“I’ll have to remember that.” I lowered myself to kiss her.
The water turned off downstairs. Funtime was over, at least for the time being. “Do you really want to go back to my house, or do you want to stay here and work things out with your brother? I could go and let you two have some time to yourselves.”
“No, you should stay. There’s something I have to tell you.” I sighed and rolled to the side.
“Well, let’s get out of bed and get started on dinner. If it’s bad news, I don’t want to get it while we’re in bed.” Sookie kissed my cheek and then rolled out of bed.
I watched the sway of her hips as she went to the bathroom. She closed the door quietly behind her leaving me to fight the urge to follow her. The room smelled of Sookie and sex- an intoxicating combination. I closed my eyes and smiled. I told her I loved her. The look on her face when she’d realized what I’d said was something I would always remember, if only because it had taken her completely by surprise.
I hadn’t planned to say it like I did but I couldn’t keep it in anymore. While Johan had planted the seed in my head, the realization that it was very much the truth had hit me when I’d woken up earlier that morning. Sookie had been asleep next to me. She was laying on her stomach and her hair was fanned out on the pillow beneath her. There was the faintest trace of a smile on her face that would probably be imperceptible to anyone else. Her arm was stretched out over my chest and when I tried to move, her grip on me tightened just a little. Even in her sleep she didn’t want to be too far away from me. I knew that feeling all too well.
Then, all of a sudden, the thought that I loved her was running through my head. It sort of took me by surprise but after thinking about it for a minute, I realized I was more happy and excited by it than I was scared or freaked out. It seemed like the natural thing to be feeling for her. I almost started wondering what had taken me so long to figure it out. I watched Sookie closely and when her eyes fluttered just a little I prayed it was because she was dreaming and not because she was waking up. I knew if she opened those pretty eyes of hers she’d know something wasn’t quite right with me.
It’s not that I didn’t want to tell her how I felt, so much as I wasn’t sure how she’d take it. I knew we were happy being together and miserable when we weren’t. It all just seemed to be happening so quick and I didn’t want to overwhelm her or scare her off. It sort of scared me a little that I wasn’t freaked out about getting closer to her. What scared me more was the idea of losing her.
Sookie came out of the bathroom in a pair of gray yoga pants and a pale pink t-shirt. She brushed her hair out and left it hanging down her back in waves. Her eyes were bright and sparkling, all traces of her hangover were gone. She was beautiful.
“What?” Sookie asked when I failed to stop staring at her.
“You’re beautiful.” I smiled at her. She blushed and rolled her eyes. “You are.”
“Thank you.” She mumbled quietly, though I know she wanted to argue with me. Her modesty, while amusing, was almost one of her most endearing qualities. How she could fail to see how beautiful she was was completely beyond me.
I wanted to pull her back into bed and get rid of the clothes she’d covered herself with. I really didn’t see a reason for her to ever get dressed. I also knew that we had to go deal with the Johan situation and she wasn’t going to let me push it off for too much longer. So, I begrudgingly got out of bed before she could nag me into it. When I came out of the bathroom a few minutes later she was in the process of making the bed.
“I don’t know why you bother. We’re just going to mess it up again in a few hours.” I grinned at her.
“Oh, you think so, huh?” She teased as she fluffed one of the pillows.
“I know so.” I said with confidence.
“Does that mean we’re staying here so you can deal with whatever your brother did to get you all hot under the proverbial collar?”
I would have been worried she was complaining about my reaction to Johan, if I didn’t know for a fact she’d had one hell of an orgasm as a result of it. I leered at her while thinking of the way it felt to be inside her when she felt that good and I had to work really hard to will away yet another hard-on that was threatening to undo all of her work on my bed.
“Yes, we’ll stay. Just don’t be surprised if I punch him at some point.”
“Are you going to tell me what happened?”
“No, I think I’ll let him tell you himself.”
Sookie looked at me nervously. “Is it that bad?”
I shook my head with disapproval and said, “Lover, you’re going to have to judge for yourself.”
“Shit.” Sookie sighed.
My sentiments exactly, I thought to myself and then led her out of the bedroom.
Eric and Sookie left so abruptly last night that Pam and I weren’t sure what to make of it. We had a pretty good idea of why they left, of course, but dragging a woman out of a bar like he did wasn’t usually Eric’s style. It was obvious to me that there was something special about Sookie from the second I saw her and that was only confirmed for me when I saw the way Eric looked at her. I’d seen him with other girls before. It was sort of a running joke about how closed off Eric was. He kept to himself, only allowing a select few into his life in a real way. He had experience with women- and plenty of it- but he never allowed himself to get too close. But the way Sookie was leaning on Eric when I got off the plane, I knew she was different. He was in love with her.
Fucker didn’t seem to know it, though. After what I went through with Thalia I didn’t want to see my brother suffer the same way. I knew how much it would suck if he lost Sookie, even if he didn’t realize just how much he cared about her. I wasted too much time, thinking we were too young, or not mature enough to make a real commitment to one another. Thalia got tired of waiting for me to figure it out and she moved on to someone else. I guess that’s really a sign that she wasn’t the one for me after all, but I refuse to believe that things wouldn’t be different if I had just pulled my head out of my ass before it was too late.
“So, how long do you think it’ll be before your brother puts a ring on her finger?” Pam asked once we were alone.
“He hasn’t even figured out he loves her yet.” I told Pam, who just rolled her eyes.
“You know I love your brother, but he’s a fucktard.” Pam poured us each a shot of tequila.
“You’ll get no arguments out of me, Vodkaknockers.” I winked at her, chuckling to myself at how she’d come to earn that nickname.
“Fuck you!” Pam passed me one of the shots.
“Name the time and place.” I tossed back the shot and slammed the glass down on the table. “Meet me on the dance floor, Pammy.”
“I hate you!” She shouted as I walked away.
I had no doubt she’d be there like I told her to. Pam does a really good job of pretending to hate me for the lines I throw at her but it’s just how we relate to one another, always has been. Deep down she knows I love her and I know she feels the same way about me. It’s lucky for her partners that she’s into chicks because otherwise I would have had to kick more than a few asses on her behalf. Not that Pam needs that sort of help. She’s pretty vindictive and vengeful all on her own, but it’s the thought that counts.
Eric doesn’t know this, but Pam was the first person I called when Thalia left me. She got on a plane and spent the next three days listening to me bitch and cry before she finally told me to man up and either try to get Thalia back or let her go. I wanted Thalia to be happy and since she’d made it clear that I no longer had the ability to do so, I let her go. That’s what real love was about, right? There’s that old saying about how if you love something you should set it free and if it comes back to you it was always yours. But if it doesn’t, then it was never yours to begin with. Well, I found out the hard way that Thalia was never mine to begin with.
It only took three years, a lot of yelling from Pam and more than one bottle of tequila for me to figure that out. On her last night in New York we got stinking drunk on Irish Car Bombs (it just happened to be St. Paddy’s) at a bar in Chelsea and then ended up back at my place. I don’t really remember everything that happened, but Pam and I definitely had sex. More than once, and it was good. Really, really good. I also knew that it was a one time thing. There would be no hook ups or booty calls when we had an itch we couldn’t scratch. That was my one shot with Pam and I enjoyed the hell out of it. I just wish I could remember it better.
But then, maybe it’s better that I don’t. If I did I’d probably start getting all serious about her and that wouldn’t do. I knew when we had sex that it wasn’t going to lead to a relationship. I also knew that I could never tell Eric about it, which hasn’t been easy for me. Eric and I don’t keep secrets from one another. We never have. But this is different. If he and Pam weren’t such good friends it wouldn’t matter to me so much if he knew, but I the idea of Pam and I getting together bothered him. I suppose I understood why. Yeah, he wanted us both to be happy, but the chances of it working out were almost nonexistent. Being that he’s my brother and her business partner, there was a lot of potential for things to get really shitty for him.
Besides, I can’t say that I ever really thought of Pam in the context of someone I wanted to be serious with. She was an awesome person to hang out with and I trusted her judgment enough to ask for her advice but she wasn’t the woman I saw myself waking up to every day for the rest of my life, or helping me raise my children. She was just Pam.
I walked up to the DJ and made a request for a song that I knew Pam not only liked, but that we had danced to at the bar that night in New York. I waited until the DJ announced the song before making my way closer to Pam. The second the song started she was lost in eye rolls and laughter but she danced with me all the same. We spent a good hour out on the dance floor. I didn’t think Eric and Sookie were coming back but that didn’t stop me from looking at the door every once in a while to see if they’d gotten it out of their systems.
But then, I figured, there was no way in hell that was happening. My brother’s girlfriend or not, Sookie Stackhouse was a fucking knockout. I couldn’t fathom a situation in which I would be able to talk myself out of having sex with her if the option were made available to me. My brother was lucky motherfucker and I made it my goal to make sure he knew it before I moved onto Cali to see our parents. Mom was going to have a million questions about the two of them.
Pam and I were dancing to an old Green Day song when all of a sudden I was spun around by a guy almost a foot shorter than me and punched in the face. Before I knew what the fuck was happening, he took another swing at me and got me in the mouth. He started shouting about how he knew I would only hurt her and I was a cheating bastard and a bunch of other things that didn’t make one bit of sense to me. Three of the bouncers came up and pulled him away from me and Felicia came out from behind the bar to pull Pam away from the guy who attacked me for no reason.
I had no idea who that little guy was, but he was lucky I was not only drunk but had the protection of the bouncers or I would have wasted his ass. The guy got dragged outside and Felicia took me behind the bar to get me some ice for my face. Pam disappeared toward the offices with a waitress named Ginger and I lost track of her after that. Patrons started to leave the bar, none of them sure what the hell was going to happen next. Felicia got me some coffee and I started to sober up just a little bit.
When the bar closed I still had no idea where Pam was and I wasn’t about to go back to her office and get her. I called a cab instead and went outside to wait for it. I was out there for maybe two minutes when a car pulled up with a red head behind the wheel. She looked at me like she knew me and when she laughingly reminded me that we were neighbors, I assumed she knew Eric. She seemed nice so I got in the car with her. I wasn’t worried about her overpowering me. She was a small woman, even smaller than Sookie, and I had no doubt I could handle myself if she got out of line.
When she pulled into a parking space in front of the house next door to Eric’s place, I didn’t think I had any reason to worry. But then as I was getting up to the sidewalk she asked me if I wanted some company. I looked over at the house and saw all the lights were out. I figured Eric and Sookie were either sleeping or having sex. I wasn’t quite ready to call it night just yet but I didn’t want to listen to my brother nail his girlfriend either. So, I figured what the hell? I went next door to the red head’s house.
She told me her name was Sophie-Anne and that she and Eric were friends. They weren’t too close, but just friends in a neighborly sort of way. She seemed okay. She was also hot and coming onto me. My drunk self decided it would be okay if I hit that, and so when she made a move, I didn’t push her away. The rest of the night is a bit of a blur for me, but I know we put her kitchen table to good use at least twice. By the time I passed out, it was almost sunrise. Just before I drifted off, I heard Sophie-Anne call me by my brother’s name. That pretty much killed the night for me.
When I woke up hours later she was still sound asleep next to me. I got out of bed quietly and went home. I didn’t even bother to tell Sophie I was leaving. I figured I couldn’t avoid seeing her again since she lived next door and I didn’t want to wake her. Nor did I want her thinking she woke up next to my brother. That would probably really fuck things up for him and Sookie.
When I walked into the house I saw that Eric’s bedroom door was closed. Since Sookie’s car was out front and Eric’s wasn’t, I was pretty sure they were still in his room. Good thing he remembered to lock the door our I would have just walked in on them. I probably could have just gone and taken a shower and gotten something to eat, but I wanted to tell Eric what happened before anyone else besides maybe Pam had a chance to do it for me.
I heard Sookie mumble something about Eric speaking Swedish and I had to restrain myself from laughing over the fact that she didn’t know he could. He used to use that all the time to pick up women. For me, that was just another sign that he was head over heels for this one. So when he answered her in Swedish and she sounded all confused and turned on at the same time, I couldn’t help but answer for him when he spoke the other language to her. Then Eric threatened to kill me, which was nothing he hasn’t done before.
By the time he finally got the door open I could tell he was genuinely pissed off. I hadn’t had the chance to look at myself in a mirror yet, but I could tell by the look on his face that I didn’t look good. I told him what happened the night before and he was clearly unhappy about the situation. He said something about some guy named Bill Compton, but I had no idea what that meant. He stormed off and locked himself in his bedroom while I went downstairs to take a shower. I knew my brother well enough to know he needed some time to cool down when he got all wound up like that. Continuing the argument would only guarantee me a second black eye, and who needs that?
Apparently he was even more worked up than I thought, because I could hear him and Sookie going at it pretty loudly over my head. I wondered if maybe he did that on purpose just to piss me off. Thankfully they were finished by the time I got out of the shower a few minutes later. I got changed and waited for him in the kitchen, hoping he wasn’t going to storm out of the house with Sookie in tow. I really wanted to talk things out and see if I could make sense of the reason why I was attacked the night before. Eric seemed to know why but I would have to wait for him to tell me.
My cell buzzed in my pocket and I was relieved to see it was Pam calling. “What the fuck happened to you last night?” She demanded when I answered.
“Long story, Pammy.” I was the only person allowed to call her that, so long as no one knew it.
“You fuckface if Eric hears you…”
“Don’t worry, he’s still in bed with Sookie.”
“Lucky fucker.” Pam muttered. “He’s lucky he saw her first.”
“No shit.” I agreed with her.
“How’s your face? Felicia said you looked like shit when you left.”
“I suspect it’ll be a few days before I’m 100%, but I’ll be fine.”
“Make sure you put some ice on it. I don’t want your ugly mug to be permanently disfigured.”
I laughed, knowing Pam was joking with me despite the seriousness of her tone. “So am I going to see you again before I have to head home?”
“Only if you promise me not to spend the night trying to get in my pants.”
“I think I can make that promise.”
“Well when you know for sure, give me a call.” Pam snapped at me and then hung up. That Pam.
Just then Eric’s bedroom door opened and I heard Sookie giggling about something. Her face was the first I saw when they came into the kitchen. Her eyes began to water and she rushed toward me to give me a hug.
“Oh my God! Johan, what happened to you?” She stroked my face gently and I looked over at Eric who was glaring at me.
“I got clocked by a midget suffering from a case of mistaken identity.”
“What?” Sookie pulled back and looked between Eric and I.
“It seems Bill was at the bar last night and thought Johan was me.” Eric explained.
“So why would that…” She trailed off, looking at me with confusion before her eyes widened. “You and Pam didn’t…you know?”
“No!” Eric and I said at the same time.
“No, we were just dancing. I might have kissed her because of the song that was playing, but it wasn’t like we were making out on the dance floor. The next thing I know I’ve got some little guy taking swings at me.”
“Oh, Johan, I’m so sorry. Let me get you some ice. Are you hungry? How about something to drink? Oh, Eric, go get him some aspirin.” Sookie was moving around the kitchen gathering up the things she needed to make me an ice pack.
Eric glared at me one more time and then went to do as Sookie asked. She filled a ziploc bag with ice and then wrapped it in a towel before giving it to me. She was such a sweet girl. If I didn’t love my brother so much I’d say she was almost too good for him. Lucky fucker.
“Sookie, what’s the deal with Eric and the lady that lives next door?” I nodded toward Sophie’s house.
“You mean Red Menace?” Sookie chuckled.
“Red Menace? I thought her name was Sophie.” I smirked as I held the ice to my eye.
“I don’t know what her name is. All I know is that Eric calls her Red Menace and she’s been trying to get in his pants since he bought this place.” Sookie told me as she poured me a glass of water. “Why?”
I looked away with guilt on my face and she must have figured out where I’d been. The smile on her face disappeared as she handed me the water. She sighed heavily and had a hard time looking at Eric when he came into the room with the aspirin.
“Here.” He dropped three pills in my hand.
“Thanks, bror.” I took the pills and swallowed them down along with half of the water Sookie had brought me.
We were silent for a few minutes after that until Sookie remembered she had been about to start cooking. “Eric, will you get a pot of water boiling for me? I thought I’d make homemade mac ‘n cheese since it seems we could all use a little comfort food.”
Eric was dangerously quiet and doing everything Sookie asked him to do. “So, does anyone want to tell me why this Bill guy was so sure Sookie was going to get her heart broken by Eric?”
“Jeet, let’s go outside!” Eric hollered and opened the side door. My dog- well, really Eric’s dog now- appeared from the basement and ran out the door.
Sookie pleaded with Eric to stay but he just shook his head and went outside. “He’ll get over it, Sookie.”
“Look, what happened last night wasn’t your fault. Bill sort of has this crush on me. He knows that I’m with Eric, but I think he was hoping it would just be a fling. Guys that look like you and Eric aren’t usually the sort to settle down with just one girl, at least that’s the stereotype. I think Bill was hoping that Eric would fall into that category. Bill is also married and has a child and up until recently, I assumed that he was still with his wife. Apparently, Bill has left her in the hopes that I would dump Eric and go to him. Where he got the idea that was going to happen, I have no idea. He told his wife that we were already an item and that he was in love with me. Eric knows about all of this and he’s none too pleased with Bill. I’m sorry that you got dragged into this.” Sookie looked genuinely upset about what had happened.
“Okay, first of all it’s not your fault that the bunny-boiler can’t accept that you’re with someone else. Second of all, if Eric won’t beat this guy’s ass, I will. He’s got it coming for several reasons now. Third, I didn’t know that the Eric and Sophie had problems. She said they were friends and since Eric had never mentioned anything about any trouble he was having with her, I didn’t think it would be a big deal.”
“Johan, I don’t think Eric’s mad at you.” Sookie leaned against the counter next to me and I arched an eyebrow at her. “He’s mad at Bill and Sophie-Anne and he’s just taking it out on you because you’re here. You didn’t know about any of the shit we’ve been dealing with. It’s not your fault. I’m sure he’ll cool off and realize that he’s being a dick about the whole thing. He’ll get over it.”
“You know him pretty well.” I smiled at her.
“I’m starting to.” Sookie went over to add some salt to the water that was heating on the stove. “Why don’t you go out there and talk to him? I’ll call you when dinner’s ready.”
I wasn’t so sure it was a good idea but the look on Sookie’s face told me her suggestion wasn’t really up for debate. I paused to kiss the top of her head before walking out the side door with the ice still pressed to my face.