It was almost three in the morning. I should have been asleep, but the notion was a foreign concept to me at the moment. As I lay there in silence, on my side of the bed, I watched the rise and fall of Alcide’s, my boyfriend, broad and deeply tanned bare chest. I reached up to lightly trace my finger on his dark curls that had spent the day hidden from his face by a bandana. My finger delicately followed the indentation from the bandana’s material still visible just above his slightly sunburned ears. A dark stubble dusted the lower half of his handsome face, and when his thick brows furrowed, I retracted my hand.
Though I was lying and gazing on my boyfriend, my thoughts wondered to what another man was doing, and who he was doing it with. Even worse? That man was my ex. God, I was pathetic and desperately close to having my life used in some power pop ballad or a sad country song. But there I was, laying naked next to one man and wishing he was another. There was nothing wrong with Alcide. He was a good man and a wonderful boyfriend. He was kind, polite, smart, loyal, hardworking, and family oriented… in short, he was everything I ever wanted in a man. There was only one thing about Alcide that I couldn’t look past – just one thing – he wasn’t Eric Northman. I sighed deeply and fought to not answer the question rolling in my mind. Why was I lying in this bed with Alcide if I felt so strongly for Eric? I didn’t want to answer that question because….well, Eric didn’t want me – at least not anymore. See? I’m pathetic.
I looked at Alcide’s face and thought of the way his emerald green eyes lit up every time he saw me. I felt my heart break a little, and I turned over when my eyes welled up. I was being so unfair to Alcide. He didn’t know anything about my relationship with Eric. Neither of us talked about our exes much. I only knew about Alcide’s former fiancé because she ended up marrying a friend of Alcide’s, effectively destroying a lifelong friendship.
The only ex I ever mentioned to Alcide by name was Bill Compton, and I was over him before we even broke up. I kept the memory of Eric to myself because the mere thought of him destroyed me inside. I tried not to think about him, but that was easier said than done. At three in the morning Eric would probably be in his office going over the night’s receipts. He was the owner of a popular club called Area 5. It was his pride and joy, the apple of his beautiful blue eyes…
One Year Ago…
We’d met innocently enough when I’d gone to make arrangements for my best friend Amelia’s birthday party. I’d thought I was meeting the club manager, Pam, but some sort of appointment had her running late. So, when I knocked on the front door of Area 5 shortly after 4:00 on a Saturday afternoon, I wasn’t expecting the gorgeous man who greeted me.
Eric was nearly a foot taller than me and impeccably dressed in tailored black pants and a tank top so tight, it showed off every single cut of the muscles under it. The bumps of his abs had to have pieces of steel in them, I was convinced of that. His pecs were chiseled. His shoulders were broad and every bit as well-muscled as his torso, but he wasn’t like creepy body builder big. It was just enough to melt my brain to a puddle, right along with my unsuspecting panties.
A hint of wheat colored stubble dusted his chin right under his lips, which were the color of pink rose petals. I wondered if they were just as soft as they looked. His shoulder length hair was pulled back at the nape of his neck, leaving a few strands to hang in his face while his face was comprised of masculine lines. The only thing remotely feminine about him was the way his thick, dark lashes framed the deepest blue eyes I’d ever seen.
If I had to guess his age, I’d say he was in his early thirties – at most – but his eyes conveyed a wisdom that went beyond his thirty-something years. His voice retained the slightest hint of an accent I couldn’t quite place. One thing was for sure, he wasn’t the average corn-fed country boy. My heart thumped at the sound of his deep voice and I had to keep from squealing like a ‘tween at a Jonas Brothers concert when he said my name.
“Sookie Stackhouse, I presume?” His eyes locked on mine and I fought to keep my knees from going out on me.
“Uh huh.” Smooth, I know. “I’m uh…I’m here to meet Pam?”
Eric scowled and said, “She’s not here.”
“Oh.” I wasn’t sure of what to do. I was about to turn and go when his large hand reached out and caught my arm.
He chuckled nervously and hesitantly pulled his arm away. “Well, if you don’t mind, I can go over the party packages with you.”
My arm felt like it was on fire. “That’d be great. Thank you.” I smiled up at him as I stepped into the club.
The exterior of the building didn’t do justice to what was inside of it. Cushy booths lined one wall of the club with a small checkerboard of tables running alongside the row. I spotted three serving stations on the ground floor and a spiral staircase that led up to the DJ’s nest. A grand staircase brought us up to the VIP area where there was another bar. With the lights dimmed, it was easy to tell that the wall of “mirrors” was actually a one way glass which obscured the view, into what I assumed were offices, but Eric didn’t mention that.
We sat on one of the couches in the VIP section, where there were brochures and print outs all prepared for me to take when the meeting was over. I’d done some research on the web and was pretty sure of what I wanted. I asked the stupidest questions I could just to stay in his presence a little longer, and I quickly realized Eric was using any excuse to touch me. Every time he did, I shivered. He answered everything I asked without complaint, or looking at me like I was fresh off the short bus.
But eventually, I ran out of questions and it was either go home, or turn our meeting into a really bad porno. So, I got up to go, tucking all of the papers he’d given me into my purse, but we walked at an impossibly slow speed to the front door of the club. The bright blue skies of two hours before were no more. Rain fell in fat drops and I was overwhelmed with the fantasy of Eric running after me in the rain, catching me on the street and kissing me until I couldn’t see straight.
“Here, why don’t you take my cell number – in case you have any other questions,” Eric offered.
I handed him my cell and he quickly punched in his contact information. “You give out your number to everyone?” I asked in a flirty voice that was so unlike me, but the question had gotten loose before my brain filter could veto it.
“No.” The expression on his face was dead serious.
Amazingly, my blush got deeper. “Oh.”
“Just try not to call before noon.” Eric winked at me when he handed back my phone.
“Not a problem. I work nights, too, so I’m not an early riser.” I slipped my phone back into my purse.
“You know, why don’t I give you my number just in case things fall through on your end?”
His face lit up like a Christmas tree for just a split second, but it was enough for me to do a little victory dance in my head. With our numbers successfully exchanged, I made a run for it. About an hour later, I was sipping tea and working on e-vites to Amelia’s party when my phone rang. Good Charlotte’s “Dance Floor Anthem” filled my living room, cutting through the silence in my house. After meeting Eric, I was thinking Mandy Moore’s “Crush” might be a better choice of ring tones.
Instead of a name, Eric had entered the question, “Will u go out w/me Monday?” when he saved his number in my phone. My mouth dropped open and I almost missed the call I was so surprised. That was certainly the most creative way I’d been asked on a date in a while. I got myself together and answered the call before it went to voice mail. We made a date for Monday, since Area 5 was closed that night. It was the best first date of my life. By the time Eric brought me back to my house, I was so ready to abandon my ‘no kissing on a first date’ policy. But Eric had only kissed my hand that night. If it weren’t for the way his eyes locked on mine when he did it, I might have thought he wasn’t as into me as I was him.
The fact he didn’t want to rush things, only made me like him more. So when he brought me home from our second date the following Monday, I was beyond ready to get the show on the road. He’d greeted me with a kiss on the cheek when he’d picked me up. All through dinner, I kept staring at his mouth. The only thing that kept me from being ashamed of myself was the look of disappointment on his face when I used a napkin to wipe away a smear of chocolate from my chin. I repressed the urge to smile wickedly and wondered if he’d wanted to lick it off me instead.
I invited him inside when we got to my house and I gave him the tour. The house had been in my family for almost 200 years. It was a rickety old farmhouse and I loved it for its history and character. I loved that I could hear the ping of rain on the tin roof and the chirp of crickets out back in the summertime.
We were standing in my kitchen, leaning over the old white porcelain sink when his body got closer to mine. I got nervous, tongue-tied, and a little shaky. He whispered in my ear, something about the stars, when I completely lost it. I turned and launched myself at him. He returned my kiss immediately, and damn, he was a good kisser. Years of relationships that rarely went beyond the third or fourth date had made me a bit of a kissing slut. I used every skill I had and I was still nowhere near up to par with Eric.
It was one of the those cliché movie moments where you see fireworks, shooting stars, and the hair on your arms stands up at the perfection of it all. My Gran would say he kissed like a house on fire and she wouldn’t be far off the mark. He left me smoldering and wanting more. Saying goodnight took almost an hour and every ounce of willpower I had.
I was officially smitten, and when he showed up at the bar I worked at- Merlott’s Bar and Grille- the next night to surprise me, I knew he was, too. We were damn near inseparable when we weren’t working. Since both of us worked nights, I got in the habit of waiting up for him to call and say goodnight when he got home at about four in the morning. Sometimes our conversations were innocent and just chatter about our day. Other times, things got a little more heated and I was left with the urge to invite him over.
Then one Saturday night, I was already tucked into bed, waiting for Eric’s call. My feet were killing me and my lower muscles were tense. All I wanted was to hear Eric’s voice and go to sleep. So when he called at a little after three, I was elated to hear from him. I was even more so when he told me he was on my front porch. I hadn’t even heard his car drive up. Surprise, surprise, all of the pain I’d been feeling in my legs and feet magically disappeared.
I raced down the stairs to let him in, and it was like the rest of the world just fell away. He bent down to kiss me, and the second my lips touched his, I knew there was no way I was going to let him go home. My arms wrapped around his neck and when he picked me up, my legs circled his waist. He kicked the door closed and we headed straight for the stairs. His lips never left mine as he carried me upstairs.
He gently set me down on my bed before standing up to take off his coat. He moved slowly, way too slowly for my taste, but I didn’t rush him. It had been a long time since I’d had sex, but I wasn’t about to let my hormones ruin what should be a great moment. Eric’s coat dropped to the floor and his shirt soon followed. I bit my bottom lip at the sight of those delicious abs of his and I may have drooled at the v-cut of his hips. The hard lines of his body were a nice contrast to the softness of my curves. I scooted back on the bed, drowning in the predatory stare I was getting from Eric. He pounced on me and it didn’t take long for all of our clothes to disappear. My eyes bulged a bit when I finally got the courage to look down at his very obvious arousal.
I felt like a virgin all over again, unsure of how he was going to fit inside me. He read my nervousness and went to work to make sure I was relaxed. His kisses were gentle but passionate, each one searing against my skin. He nibbled, licked, nuzzled, and sucked at my flesh, taking his time as he moved from one spot to the next. His hands seemed to be having their own love affair with my breasts, as they hardly went untouched at any point. If it weren’t for a few makeout sessions on my couch where I’d put his hands ‘there’ to let him know it was okay to touch me, I might have been more surprised. But then Eric seemed to have the same affinity for my breasts as I had for his ass. Those two muscular rounds were a work of art. I wasn’t at all above groping him and he didn’t seem to mind it one bit.
His mouth moved farther down my torso, placing wet kisses as he went. He blew a cool breath over the trail that left me shivering and my lady business pulsing with want. It was almost illogical to me how strongly I felt for Eric. We hadn’t even gotten to the good stuff yet and I could already feel my orgasm building. Despite how much we wanted one another, though, Eric took his time with me.
He savored the taste of my skin and murmured something in what I’d learned later was Swedish. He would speak the language on the phone when he called me at night. I was sure it was all dirty talk, but it could have been the U.S. Constitution for all I knew. Whatever it was, it sounded sexy as all get out, and it never failed to get me hot and bothered. I’d picked up a few words from him in the last few weeks and I’d been spending a little time with my new best friend, Rosetta Stone. I hadn’t told him anything about that, though. My plan was to be able to tell him I loved him in his native language, once I was sure it was the real thing, and not just my hormones going crazy.
I found out quickly that kissing wasn’t all he was good at. Granted, my sexual experience was limited, but it was still obvious to me that Eric was in a class all by himself. He flicked his tongue against my clit and my hips rocketed off the bed. He ended up having to hold me down while he continued attending me with his tongue, and I writhed against him. He kept his eyes trained on mine, watching my face change as I got closer and closer to my orgasm. Two of his fingers slipped into me and my walls immediately clamped down on them.
He stroked slowly in time with his tongue, taking me closer and closer to the edge and then backing off. He did that a couple of times, but before I thought I was going to lose my mind completely, he latched onto my clit and curled his fingers inside me. He found a spot I didn’t know existed, and I screamed his name when my orgasm ravaged me. Bill had been good in bed, or so I thought, but he was no Eric – no one was. My body felt like a live wire. It took a few minutes before I could breathe properly, or focus my vision without little dots of color making me question what I was seeing. I couldn’t get myself to stop shaking and I moaned at each aftershock that jolted through me. I gasped for breath, realizing at that moment that we hadn’t even gotten to the main event yet, and I steadied myself for what was to come.
Eric kissed his way up my body before planting the mother of all kisses on my mouth. I twisted under him. I couldn’t wait anymore. I needed him in me. Now. I pulled my mouth from his, only for his lips to sink into my neck. He went right to the spot which made my toes curl and my lady business do a happy dance.
“God, Eric, please tell me you have a condom.” I somehow managed to get the words out between gasps and his kisses.
He flashed me one of his devilish smiles and got off the bed to retrieve is coat. My hips were moving of their own accord towards him, and my thighs rubbed together in an attempt to create a little friction. I wanted him so much it was starting to hurt, and for once, I had an inkling of what blue balls might feel like for a man. Eric didn’t produce just one condom, he produced a box of them.
“Cocky.” I purred.
He looked down at himself and said, “Very.”
“Get over here.” I curled a finger at him.
He opened the box, removed a condom from it and tossed the rest onto the night stand. I bit my lips and watched him roll the condom on. I wasn’t nervous anymore, nor did I question whether I was making a mistake. I smiled as Eric climbed up on the bed and settled between my legs. He lowered himself to kiss me again and his erection nudged the inside of my thigh. I reached between us and had a mini freak-out when my hand didn’t wrap all the way around him. He pulled back and brushed some of my hair away from my face and neck, while I guided him to my entrance. He dipped again to kiss me gently, almost like it was a promise of some kind. My eyes met his and I nodded.
Slowly, he entered me. It was just a little at first because despite how much I wanted him, and how relaxed I was, he was still quite large, not to mention it had been more than two years since I broke up with Bill. Eric advanced inch by inch until he was fully sheathed inside me. My body adjusted quickly and when I rolled my hips underneath him, he pulled out almost entirely before sliding in slowly. He whispered endearments and compliments, some in English but mostly in Swedish.
His thrusts got faster and my hips raised to meet him. In and out. In and out. Over and over again until my walls started to pulse around him. He rubbed circles around my clit with his thumb, sending me hurdling into the same bright light as before, but he wasn’t done yet. I hadn’t even fully recovered when he flipped us over so I was straddling him. His hands cupped my breasts while he thrust up into me. From the angle he was at, he was hitting the right spot inside of me and I released again in record time. I felt him swell within me and then roar his way through his own orgasm.
I collapsed on his chest and inhaled his smell. It was a wonderful blend of shampoo, cologne, and sweat. The knowledge that my sheets were going to smell of him made me tremble. I never wanted him to leave my bed. I couldn’t say I was in love with him yet, but I was falling hard. He stroked me from the back of my head to my lower back, his fingers barely touching me as he did so. Neither of us spoke for a while, but we didn’t need to. Just being that close was enough to tell me what I needed to know.
Any worries I might’ve had that Eric was a one hit wonder in the sack were dispersed almost instantly. I lost track of how many orgasms I had that first night until we both passed out from exhaustion shortly after dawn. When I woke, he was already making himself at home between my thighs. It was the best wakeup call of my life. I found it an easy thing to make up for lost time with Eric.
Keeping our hands off each other was next to impossible. We were constantly sneaking off when we couldn’t be in an actual bed together. He was perfect for me. He made me laugh and he understood my sense of humor perfectly. We just fit. It was only a couple of weeks after we first made love when I knew I was absolutely in love with him. I had even learned enough Swedish to surprise him in his native language.
Things progressed nicely. We spent tons of time together and even started talking about Eric moving into my house. He already had a drawer in my dresser and a section in my closet. I started thinking about redecorating, since my house was very much on the girlie side, and Eric wasn’t one for floral prints and lace curtains. I was so caught up in my bubble of happy that it took me completely by surprise when Eric announced- I swear it was totally out of the blue- he thought we should take a break. I stood there stunned, and then burst out laughing. He was joking. He had to be. Only he wasn’t joking, and he wasn’t really giving me much of a reason. From what I could gather, he’d spent a lot of time convincing himself we weren’t right for one another. Then he had the gall to say that because of my limited experience with relationships, he didn’t want me to up and change my mind about him in the future. You know, resent not sowing any wild oats I might have.
I was stuck somewhere between stunned and furious. I kept waiting for him to say he was only kidding but when he kissed me on the cheek like I was his sister, I knew he was being serious. What. The. Fuck. Devastated doesn’t even come closer to how I felt when I came home from work one night to find his clothes gone and his key in my mailbox.
My chest caved in.
My throat closed.
My knees gave out.
My stomach turned.
It was over.
I somehow managed to call Amelia. “It’s over, Ame.” I sobbed uncontrollably into the phone while she tried to soothe me. “How can it be over? We were happy. I love him. He loves me, I know he does.” I cried so hard I thought might throw up. “I can’t cry hard enough.” I dropped the phone and dissolved into sobs until there was nothing left but the pieces of my broken heart, and Amelia’s promise that she’d be there for me in less than ten minutes.
I wiped the tears from my eyes. A year had passed and I was still privately mourning the break up. In the year since then, I’d been to Area 5 only once and it backfired on me. I had taken Alcide there in attempts to make Eric jealous. I saw the pained expression on Eric’s face when he spotted Alcide and I slow dancing, but he didn’t do anything about it. His lack of action was salt on a festering wound, and after that, I couldn’t so much as drive by the club without tearing up. The more I tried to tell myself that Eric wasn’t the one, the less I believed it. And poor Alcide deserves so much better than me. I love him, but I’m not in love with him. He’s done everything right. I should be head over heels, rainbows and unicorns in love with him. I should be picking out china patterns and practicing my signature with his last night, but I just couldn’t do it.
Every time Alcide kissed me, all I could think of was the fact he wasn’t Eric. I was convinced I was going to end up in hell for fantasizing about Eric when I had sex with Alcide. All of the passion and emotion I let out was for the man I couldn’t have, not the one I was with. The first time Alcide and I had sex (I couldn’t let myself think of it as making love, since I wasn’t in love with him), I ended up locking myself in the bathroom and sobbing after he fell asleep. I cried quietly, disgusted with myself for what I’d done. To the best of my knowledge, Alcide never knew about that. It was completely unfair to Alcide, but it was better than being alone. I was such a mess, and there was no sign of it getting any better.
I took a deep breath and froze for a second when Alcide snuggled up behind me. Yeah, remember him?, the voice in my head practically shouted at me. I bit my lip to keep from sobbing. I was the worst girlfriend ever. I closed my eyes and told myself if I couldn’t be with the one I loved, then I would love the one I was with. Alcide deserved as much, if not way more than that.
Things got a little better after that. I hadn’t let go of Eric completely, but I was making an honest offer to be a better girlfriend to Alcide. He started hinting around that we should move in together, right around our one year anniversary. The suggestion set back all of the progress I’d made. I couldn’t do it to Alcide. I couldn’t let him move into my house and let him think I felt the same way about him as he did me.
When Alcide left for work the morning after he suggested we move in together, all of the ghosts of what felt like another life started to come back to haunt me full force. I saw Eric in every room of the house, the two of us making love up against walls, on the couch, on the porch swing, on the kitchen table, in the shower, on the living room floor in front of the fireplace and even on the steps that led up to my old room. After the break up, I moved down to Gran’s old room. I said it was to be more Eco friendly in the winter months, but it was a lie.
I had to get out of the house and think. I pulled on a pair of yoga pants and a hooded sweatshirt which Eric had left behind since I washed it once, and it shrunk while it was in the dryer. It was too small for him, but it was perfect for me on a chilly day. I slid a pair of flip-flops on my feet and got in the car. I drove and drove, trying to figure out what to do. Part of me knew it was crazy to let Alcide go. I should be letting go of Eric. More than a year and half had passed since we broke up. I hadn’t seen him in 304 days – not that I was counting. He’d made no effort to make contact with me. It was over on paper, but my heart hadn’t gotten the memo. What if it never did?
Yes, I could let Alcide move in. I could even marry him and have babies with him – we’d make a beautiful family. Only every time I looked at our son, I’d be disappointed not to see the cleft of Eric’s chin. When I looked at our daughter, I wouldn’t see Eric’s eyes staring back at me, and I’d feel some sort of emptiness inside. I couldn’t do that to my children.
Then somehow I ended up in the parking lot next to Area 5. Eric’s Corvette was parked at the back. The club got liquor deliveries on Thursday to prepare for the weekend. It was only two in the afternoon. Eric didn’t usually come in until five or six. Maybe it was a sign. I had to know once and for all, for my own peace of mind, why he’d walked away. Before I could chicken out, I got out of my car and walked up to the front door. I took a deep breath (or maybe ten) and pounded on the door. It flew open a minute later and there he was. Just like the first time I saw him, my heart stopped. He looked at me like he was seeing a ghost. He’d cut his hair so that it had this sexy bedhead appeal to it, and even though it was wrong, I was immediately imagining tugging on those shorter locks while he face was buried between my legs. God help me.
“Hi.” I spoke first.
“Come in,” he offered, much to my surprise.
“Sure.” I stepped into the club. There was an echo when the heavy door boomed shut.
“It’s been a long time.”
304 days, but who’s counting, right?
“What brings you here?” he asked me.
“I was just out driving and somehow I ended up here.” I tried to sound casual.
“In my shirt.” His voice had dropped just a little bit. He was dangerously close to sex voice and if we weren’t careful, I would maul him right there.
“Yeah.” Silence. Where are those damn crickets when you need them?
We stood there for a few minutes, trying not to look at each other. Eric made himself busy behind one of the bars, stocking shelves. I remembered how I’d come in to help him sort out an order once and I ended up giving him what he called ‘the blow job of his life’ behind that bar. I chased the memory away since it would do me no good to think about it.
“So, how’s business?” One of us had to break the ice, even if it was good to know he felt as awkward as I did.
“Pretty good. We’ve been lucky that the attraction hasn’t passed.” Eric’s gaze met mine. Such a loaded choice of words he spoke.
“That’s great, Eric.”
“What about you? How’s life? You still seeing that guy you came in here with?” Eric didn’t bother to keep the bitterness out of his voice when he mentioned Alcide.
I was torn between being pissed at him and being ashamed of myself for being so immature. “Life’s… it’s life, right?” I shrugged. Eric was obviously more interested in his question about Alcide. “Yes, I’m still seeing him. He um, he wants us to live together.”
“Oh.” Eric looked about as bummed as I’d ever seen him, but quickly corrected himself. “I mean, that’s great for you.”
“Not really.” My voice broke and my lip trembled. I knew I shouldn’t have said it, but my brain wasn’t moving fast enough to keep up with my mouth. Eric’s eyebrows shot up into his hairline. Shit. Why did it have to be so complicated? “See, the thing is, he’s a good guy. He loves me and he’s everything I ever wanted. I…I think maybe I’m crazy for not jumping on this living together thing, but there’s a problem.”
“Forgets to put the seat down?” Eric joked, attempting to lighten the mood and maybe stop me from crying. He hated it when I cried.
Under other circumstances I would have laughed. “Nope, he does that.”
“So then what’s his fatal flaw?” Eric leaned against the bar, probably thinking I was going to say Alcide had a wife and three kids stashed away somewhere he didn’t think I knew about.
“Han är inte du.” I made sure I looked Eric in the eyes when I said it, as hard as it was to do. The fact that I spoke to him in Swedish was a surprise to him but it seemed fitting.
The room went silent again and stayed that way. The two of us had a conversation with our eyes. We were good at that. I missed that. I couldn’t do it with Alcide, but with Eric, it was hard not to. The silence broke when Pam let herself into the club. The clicking of her heels was like the countdown of a time bomb set to go off.
“Sookie?” Pam arched an eyebrow when she saw me standing there.
“Hey, Pam.” I gave her a weak smile.
Eric disappeared from behind the bar and went up to his office. I wasn’t sure if I felt relieved or disappointed. Pam was chattering away about one thing after the other, but it wasn’t until she mentioned Eric that my attention snapped back into focus.
“Eric misses you.”
“No, he doesn’t.” I shook my head. I could accept that even if his eyes had suggested otherwise just a few minutes before.
“Don’t be stupid, Sookie, of course he does. He’s been a miserable bitch since you two broke up.”
“He broke up with me, Pam, and I still don’t know why. We were happy.”
“He’s a stupid man.” She shrugged like it was obvious. She looked down at her fingernails, closely inspecting her manicure. “I might have told him it was probably a mistake to settle down with someone who hadn’t had a lot of experience with relationships, and-”
“So this is your fault?” I hated Pam in that moment. “It’s your fault he broke my heart and his own in the process? How could you, Pam? Why? Why would you do something like that?”
“I didn’t think he’d take me seriously.”
Oh, well, then you’re forgiven. Not!
“Usually he just rolls his eyes and does what he wants. I was shocked he didn’t go out and put a ring on your finger just to prove me wrong.”
“Oh, Pam…” I groaned and covered my face with my hands.
“For what it’s worth, I am sorry. I had no right to say anything, and if I would have known how miserable it would make him, I wouldn’t have.”
“Pam, this is about more than just Eric and me now.” I shook my head in anger, poor Alcide taking the beating for this clusterfuck.
“Ah, yes, that wolf man of yours.” I was going to kill Amelia for talking to Pam about me.
“Hey! You don’t get to judge me!”
“You’re right, I’m sorry.”
“We wouldn’t even be together if you had just kept your big fucking mouth shut.”
Pam cackled and said, “Oh, grow up, Sookie. I’m not holding a gun to your head. I’m sorry I messed things up for you and Eric, but it’s not my fault you don’t have the guts to walk away from a man who makes you so unhappy.”
She was right about that and I hated her a little for saying it. “Whatever, Pam.”
“If you want me to talk to Er-”
“No! You’ve done enough, thank you very much.”
“Sookie, I really am sorry.”
“Yeah, well, sorry doesn’t make it better,” I said bitterly and stormed out of the bar feeling worse than when I went in.
I sat in my car and cried. Had Eric really broken up with me at Pam’s suggestion? I knew enough about the way they interacted with one another that Pam’s version of events was completely believable. Eric had a tendency to roll his eyes at Pam’s more outrageous ideas. So why was this the one he chose to take seriously?
“Pam, you do not want to follow me right now!” Eric thundered furiously as he came storming around the corner of the building.
He stopped short in the parking lot when he saw what a mess I was. I was sure Eric was going to get in his car and drive away. He was the sort who did his best thinking while flying down the highway with Led Zeppelin cranked up as loud as it would go. I wondered how many times he’d listened to “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” in the last year.
He tapped on my window and I let it down. “Follow me.” It wasn’t a request.
I nodded, shocked he wanted me to go anywhere with him. I started my car and followed him out of the parking lot toward a subdivision on the other side of town. He pulled into the driveway of a cookie cutter house. All of the homes looked nearly identical and I suspected the structures were the same with varying layouts. Eric got out of his car and headed to the front door. Imagine my surprise when he had a key! Did he live here? Last I knew he was rocking a loft downtown. What had changed?
I scrambled to get out of the car and followed him to the front door. The inside wasn’t exactly furnished. It looked like he was squatting there. He closed the door behind me and started down the hall to what barely passed as a living room. The outside of the house was perfectly manicured. The inside was a mess of asylum white walls and shiny hardwood floors just begging to be scuffed a little. His suede couch and dark-stained coffee table were the only furniture in the enormous room. A flat screen TV hung on the wall. That was it – well, unless you count back issues of Sports Illustrated as decoration. The house was equipped with an aura of mourning. I dawned on me then that like me, Eric was existing, but not really living. The two of us were ghosts of the people we once were.
“I couldn’t stay at the loft after you. I saw you everywhere.” He spoke quietly, almost like he was ashamed of it.
“Believe me, I know how it feels.”
“I don’t think you do.” Eric turned his back, unable to look at me. He stared out a large picture window that overlooked his impressive backyard. “I knew it was a mistake.”
Oh hi, ton of bricks, thanks for landing on my head.
“You knew what was a mistake?” If he said our entire relationship, I was going to kill him.
“Leaving you.” His response brought me relief and anger.
“Then why did you?”
“Because I got scared. You’re the only person I ever gave a damn about in a real way. From the moment I saw you, I knew you were the one. Everything was perfect – too goddamned perfect. Being with you was like… it was better than being with my best friend. I would have done anything for you. I would have given up everything and all you had to do was ask.”
“But I wouldn’t have.”
“That’s not the point.” He shook his head. “It just felt like I was losing myself in you. Then we started talking about living together and I wanted to – I did. I started thinking about marriage and what our kids would look like. I saw us going on camping trips and posing for stupid family Christmas card pictures in front of the fireplace. I saw us having a life together. And then I saw you regretting not taking more time to be sure of what you wanted. I saw you walking out on me and cursing the day we met…” He trailed off.
“So we broke up because you somehow managed to be high handed and a coward at the same time?”
“Don’t forget a fucking idiot.”
“This isn’t funny, Eric.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
“Are you really? Because I have missed you every second of every day for the last year and a half. If you knew it was a mistake then why didn’t you ever try to fix it?”
“I wanted to, but I overheard Amelia telling Pam that you’d met someone and you were happy. I didn’t think I had any right to interfere.”
I was definitely going to kill Amelia. The ‘shut the fuck up filter’ in her brain needed replacing, like, yesterday.
“Besides, it’s not like you put up that big of a fight when I told you we should take a break.”
Was he serious? I blinked, thinking maybe I’d had a stroke and imagined it. “Because I was too busy bawling my eyes out, you jackass!” I shouted at him.
He snickered at me and asked, “Just how long did you wait before you got together with your boyfriend, anyway?” He stare bored into me.
I crossed the room to where he was standing and slapped him. This was the first fight we’d ever had and it was clear he was going to make it count.
“Fuck you, Eric! You broke up with me! You have no right to-” I had a whole tirade planned. Months and months of frustration and a lot of time to think of all the things I wanted to say had come together in a perfect storm, but I was cut off.
Eric shut me up with a kiss. At first I shoved at him. I wanted him, no doubt about it. My body was screaming at me but I didn’t want to give in without any sort of fight. Apparently, Eric wasn’t giving up either and once he had a hold of my hands, I knew I was in trouble. He backed me up against the wall and held my arms over my head.
“So all this time you’ve wanted me? Tell me the truth, Sookie. Who do you want? Is it me?” His eyes desperately searched mine, the heat from his body slowly coming over mine.
I could have kept on fighting, but what was the point? I gave up and kissed him back. It was like Eric exploded when I did, and all of the things we’d been holding back for the last year and a half came pouring out of us. It wasn’t sweet and tender. Oh, no, it was rough and primal, and fueled by pure passion. I don’t remember how we got our clothes off, but it happened. The next thing I knew, my legs were wrapped around his waist and he was pounding into me as hard as he could. I thought he might crack the wall behind me, but at the moment I didn’t give a shit about that. I clawed at his back while we nipped at each other like a couple of caged animals. I was going to be sore and bruised later, but I didn’t care.
I screamed when I came, mostly from pleasure, but partially because it felt like I was letting go of the last year and half. Eric growled and grunted until he shouted with his own powerful release. My body went limp and my legs fell to the floor. I stood there trembling against the wall. It was exactly what I needed, but what did it mean? As if he was reading my mind, Eric tilted my chin and looked deep in my eyes.
“This is the beginning.” He said with conviction. He lifted me up again to kiss me, his hands tangling in my hair.
It was several hours- and orgasms- before either of us remembered there was a whole world outside of Eric’s house. We ended up on the couch, both of us exhausted, but blissfully so. Eric’s shirt was loosely wrapped around me. Apparently in the rush to remove our clothes one of us had just ripped his shirt open, sending buttons flying everywhere.
“So what do we do now?” I tilted my head back in the crook of his arm to look up at Eric’s face.
His eyes were closed but he looked happy. “I’m thinking of ordering pizza,” he said with a smirk.
I punched him in the ribs. “I was talking about us.”
He held me tighter and said, “I can go with you to talk to your boyfriend if you want.”
Oh, yeah, Alcide.
“That’s sweet of you but I think I need to do that alone. I mean, would you want to be face to face with the guy your girlfriend cheated on you with?”
“I’m not worried about me, lover.” He kissed my head.
“What would you like me to call you? Honey? Baby? Doll? Sweetheart? Sugar lips? Pumpkin?” We laughed at his suggestions. “Snookums?”
“Okay, stop!” I was crying I was laughing so hard.
Eric sobered up from his laughter and said, “I missed you, too, you know.”
“You know this is it, right? It’s you and me from now on.”
“And you know if you get spooked you can talk to me, right?”
“I want you to promise me something.” I sat up and turned to face him. I waited until his eyes were open and focused on me before saying, “No matter what happens, promise me you will never again take relationship advice from Pam.”
Eric laughed again and said, “You can count on it.”
“Good.” I bent down and kissed him. “I want pepperoni.”
He kissed me back and then slowly got up off the couch to go order pizza while I put on my yoga pants and went out to my car to get my cell phone. I had a couple of messages from Alcide, both text and voice, wondering where the hell I was. He’d been to Merlotte’s to look for me when he didn’t find me at home, but of course I wasn’t there. The fact that it was almost 11:00 p.m. And I wasn’t answering my phone had him worried sick about me.
I wasn’t proud of myself for the damage I was doing to Alcide. He’d been through so much. It wasn’t his fault any of this was happening. There was nothing he could have done differently that would have made me fall for him.
I went back inside to find Eric on the couch watching Caddyshack on TV. It was one of the few movies we agreed on. Eric liked gory, bloody slasher flicks while I preferred the classics and chick flicks. Comedy was the one place where we shared common ground. I curled up on the couch next to him and recited the same lines he did.
“I love that you love this movie.” Eric reached for my hand.
“Why wouldn’t I? It’s hilarious.” I rested my head on his shoulder. “Alcide called a couple of time.”
“Did you call him back?”
“No. I don’t want to break up with him over the phone and that’s what would happen if I called him.” Just then my phone rang. It was Amelia. I got up off the couch and walked to one of the many empty rooms in Eric’s house. “Hello?”
“Sookie Stackhouse I should skin you alive!” Amelia shouted at me almost instantly.
Funny, I was thinking something similar about Amelia earlier that afternoon. “Why? I’m fine.”
“You better call Alcide. He’s going crazy looking for you.”
“I know, I know.”
“Where are you?”
“I would tell you but you’ve got a big mouth.”
“Yes, Ame, you do.” I laughed. “If things don’t work out with Bob, I think you and Pam would make a great couple.”
“Pam?” She sounded confused but she knew exactly who I was talking about.
“I’ll call you tomorrow, Ame.” I laughed again and hung up.
Rodney Dangerfield was just dropping anchor on the Flying Wasp when the pizza arrived. I went on a hunt for plates in Eric’s giant kitchen. Most of the cabinets were empty, which was a shame. I found the plates and then had to go searching for napkins or paper plates. Eric found me in the kitchen with a large box in his hands.
“Do you have napkins?”
“I don’t think so.”
I shook my head at him. “You, Mr. Northman, are a mess.”
“I spend most of my time at the club. I mostly come here to sleep.”
While we ate, he filled me in on the last year and a half of his life. It was a bleak existence. He admitted to going on a few dates but they never amounted to anything. He experienced the same problem with those girls that I’d experienced with Alcide- they weren’t me. When I asked why he didn’t try to work things out with me he gave the same answer as before.
“I thought you were happy. I ruined your life once. I wasn’t going to do it again.”
I leaned over and kissed him. “You know, it’s a good thing we found each other. I’m not sure anyone else in the world could put up with us.”
It was a good thing we were pretty much done eating because the need for food was replace with the need for other things. We were definitely making up for lost time. We christened every flat surface in Eric’s house as well as a number of vertical ones. We fell asleep in his bed shortly before dawn. For the first time in what felt like forever, I didn’t flinch when a warm body snuggled up behind me. I snuck out of bed a few hours later and went downstairs to call Alcide.
“Sookie? Oh, thank God! I was worried outta my head. Are you okay?” The relief in his voice when he answered my call made me feel like the biggest bitch on the planet and it was only going to get worse.
“I’m fine, Alcide. I’m sorry I didn’t call you last night. I just needed some time-”
“No, it’s okay. I’m just glad you’re all right.”
“Look, Alcide, we need to talk. Can you come by my place later?”
“Sure. I’ll stop by after work.”
“Good… So I’ll see you later then.”
“I love you, baby.”
Worst. Girlfriend. Ever.
“Bye.” I hung up before I made things any worse.
I tried not to freeze up when Alcide swept me up in a hug. He looked me over like I’d been abducted and was in need of inspection for damages. When he was satisfied I was fine, he kissed my forehead and walked with me to the living room. He dropped down on the couch and waited for me to curl up beside him but I stayed on my feet.
“So, what’s going on, baby?”
I took a few deep breaths while I paced back and forth in front of the coffee table. I hated myself for the hurt I was about to cause. “I can’t move in with you.” I blurted out.
“There’s more.” I sat on the coffee table in front of him. “Listen, Alcide, you’re a really great guy-”
“Oh, Sook, no.” He shook his head, the look on his face telling me he knew where I was going.
“Please let me finish.” I pleaded and reached for his reluctant hands. “If you hate me for this, I’ll understand.”
“I could never hate you, Sook. I love you.”
“Alcide, you have to stop.” Again with the loaded statements. “I shook my head as tears started to fall. “I’m not in love with you. I never told you about my ex. We didn’t part on good terms and the truth is, I’m not over him. Up until yesterday-”
“Yesterday?” He was immediately suspicious. I couldn’t blame him.
“Let me finish. Up until yesterday I hadn’t seen him in months. But then we saw each other and things just sort of clicked back into place. We talked about a lot of stuff and we decided we want to give it another shot.”
Alcide glared at me with anger and disbelief. “Did you sleep with him?”
Not as much as we had mind blowing sex. “Yes, I did.”
Alcide got up off the couch. He looked like he was going to punch a wall or maybe rip my sofa in half. “So when were you going to tell me I was just a warm body to cuddle up with when you got lonely?”
“Alcide, I’m sorry. I thought if I gave it enough time-”
“I was never going to be him, Sookie.” Alcide’s face was red with anger. “Who is he?”
“That doesn’t matter.”
“The fuck it doesn’t!”
“What are you going to do? You gonna show up on his doorstep and punch him in the face? It won’t change this.”
“The coward didn’t even have the courage to be here to back you up.”
“Yes, he did, but I wouldn’t let him. Not to mention I didn’t think I’d need him to. Are you going to hit me? Will that make you feel better?”
The muscles in Alcide’s arms twitched and while I didn’t think he’d hit me, I backed up just to be on the safe side. He noticed my reaction and relaxed a little.
“I’m not gonna hit you, Sookie.” He continued to stomp around. “But I gotta tell ya, I wouldn’t mind takin’ a swing at your ex.”
“Alcide, I’m sorry I wasn’t honest with you from the beginning. I should have been. This isn’t your fault.”
“Doesn’t really make it hurt less, sweetheart.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
“I should go.” He stared at me like it would be the last time he’d ever see me and I hoped that wasn’t the case.
“I know now is probably the wrong time, but I hope eventually we can be friends.”
“Not the time, Sookie.” He shook his head as he walked past me. He stopped at the front door with his hand on the knob. “Does he love you?”
My heart cracked at the sadness in his voice. “Yes, he does. Very much.”
“He was a fool to let you go.”
“He knows that.”
“If he hurts you again, you come find me.”
“Be happy, Sookie.” With that the best man I ever knew walked out of my life.
Six Months Later
I stood at the sink in my kitchen washing dishes when a Katy Perry song came up on my iPod. For the longest time I couldn’t listen to it because it made me think of Eric. It was like Katy Perry had read my life story. The only comfort I took from the song was the knowledge that Eric and I got the happy ending her lovers didn’t.
A pain shot up my lower back and a kick to my rib cage made me drop the glass I was washing. My yelp, in combination with the sound of shattering glass, brought Eric running into the room with a look of sheer panic on his face.
“I’m okay.” I held up a soapy hand to stop him. “Shrimpo kicked me.”
Eric breathed a sigh of relief. He came toward me and put his large hand on my growing belly. “I’ll feel much better once Shrimpo is on the loose.”
“That makes two of us.” I looked down at his hand, the shiny platinum of his wedding band catching my eye.
“This song is really depressing.” Eric kissed the top of my head.
I wrapped my arms around him, pressing my face to his chest and inhaling his scent. “I kinda like it.”
There we stayed, swaying back and forth with our little Shrimpo kicking away between us.