Chapter 4: Professional Courtesy

As expected, Pam gave me shit for deciding to offer Sookie the job. She accused me of letting my dick do the hiring, and she wasn’t too far off the mark. Obviously, Sookie was stuck in my head. I’d had to take a break during the interview to relieve myself, for fuck’s sake. There was a voice in my head screaming at me to forget her, that hiring her would be a huge mistake. I also knew if I didn’t get to see her again, I was going to regret it.

I thought maybe another late night of body shots with Nicole would take the edge off. It did, for a while, but the next morning I was right back where I started. While it was true Sookie was lacking some of the qualifications, I had no doubt she would pick it up quickly. I also knew we looked good together, and that was an important part of the business. She was going to be representing me. I made it a point to always look good. And Pam, while there had never been any sexual chemistry between us, had always looked good with me as well.

I didn’t regret sending Sookie the job offer. What I couldn’t understand was what was making me so nervous. I’d caught that look of disapproval she shot me before leaving the office after her interview. Whatever she had been thinking about Nicole was probably dead on and I wondered if the flirtation could potentially ruin whatever chance I had of getting her to work for me. Why did I want her to work for me?

Sookie may have been qualified for many things but being my assistant wasn’t really one of them, since I couldn’t legally put it in her job description that she satisfy my sexual needs as well as my needs for a filer and interference runner. Having her around the office was going to be a challenge but I was willing to give it a chance. I pushed aside the extreme attraction I felt to her and focused on the other pull I felt to her. Regardless of her qualifications, my instincts were screaming at me to give her a chance. The voices in my head were at war, but it was my instincts I trusted.

My instincts were excellent and perhaps the most valuable of all my assets. My instincts had never steered me wrong in the past. I learned early in life it was best that I listen to them and act accordingly. When I heard a rumor that Lorena was going to make another play for Pam. I knew there was nothing in the world Lorena could offer Pam that would be enough to get her to change her mind. Pam was tired of Los Angeles and was looking forward to the energy and bustle of New York.

“Have you heard back from Tits McGee?” Pam asked as she plopped herself down in the chair opposite mine in my office.

Glaring at Pam would have been a waste of a good scowl. “Not yet, but I’ve heard Lorena is interested in wooing you again.”

“There aren’t enough shoes in the world to get me to go back to working for her. She ran that company into the ground all by herself.” Pam was merciless and I appreciated that.

“I’ve heard similar things,” I leaned back in my chair.

“She hired some east coast blue blood socialite with an extensive Rolodex to take my place. The girl dresses like a Scandinavian hippy and wears enamel jewelry, for fuck’s sake. Enamel, Eric.” Pam looked horrified.

“If I really wanted to fuck with Lorena, I’d lure the replacement away,” I knew I could do it if I wanted to, but that meant I’d have to do something with the assistant and I wasn’t interested. My own Rolodex was quite full without any help from the girl with terrible taste in jewelry.

“You’ll hardly have time for that once Jugs McKnockers is on your staff,” Pam deadpanned even though we both knew damn well she’d chosen those words on purpose.

“I’m also not interested in Lorena’s sloppy seconds,” I stared at Pam, who smirked at me. “Present company excluded, of course.”

“I’m no one’s sloppy seconds. You made me a better offer and I took it. That’s common sense.” Pam said with a shrug of her slender shoulders. If she were just three inches taller, I could sell her ass instead of paying her to kick mine.

My cell phone buzzed in my pocket. It was Nicole calling. She was starting to get attached and that meant it was time to cut her loose. She had impeccable skills but I wasn’t interested in being her rebound guy when her marriage went to shit and I certainly wasn’t a hand holder. I ignored the call, letting it go to voicemail.

Pam reminded me I had a benefit the following week I had to attend. I wasn’t looking forward to it. It was an event for Greenpeace, which was… well, Los Angeles isn’t really known for being environmentally friendly, even with the sudden surge to make everything “green,” or to give up the SUVs in favor of hybrid vehicles. The simple fact was, we’d been polluting the air and water for far too long. It would take centuries of the planet being wiped clean of all signs of human life before the earth could be restored. Not that my Corvette was anywhere near environmentally friendly…

If Sookie took the job, it would be the first event she would accompany me to. The event was going to be held at the Griffith Observatory. They were hosting an A List only ‘Star Party,’ which was made possible with assistance from the Los Angeles Astronomical Society. We would be able to look at stars, planets and other heavenly bodies that hadn’t been nipped, tucked, stitched, Botoxed, augmented or reconstructed. Imagine that.

My email pinged at me and I quickly switched tabs to see I had an email from Sookie waiting for me.


TO: Eric Northman

FROM: Sookie Stackhouse

SUBJECT: Job Offer

Dear Mr. Northman,

While I am greatly humbled by the more than generous offer you have made me, I would like to request some time to consider it before making a decision. I want to be sure that working under you is the right thing for me. I hope you’ll understand.

Thank you for the opportunity you have presented me.

Sincerely,

Sookie Stackhouse


My brain focused on the same three words: working under you. Once I was able to chase away the image of her naked body writhing under mine, I wasn’t sure what to think. I wasn’t used to people being indecisive around me and I was even less used to being rejected. What else did I need to do to tip the scales in my favor? Fuck. Why did I even want her to work for me, aside from the raging erections that sprang to life every time I so much as thought of her. That could be hazardous.

I read the email to Pam, who responded with, “She’s got brass ones.”

I sat back in my seat, wondering if she was trying to play hardball with me. I was in a mood for the rest of the day. Pam’s needling and teasing didn’t help.

“Why don’t you just go to her house, fuck her and get it out of your system?”

I glared at Pam and asked, “Do you really think that’s going to work?”

I already knew that once wouldn’t be good enough. I was going to want her again and again. It was better to just let myself get used to the idea of not having her. Fantasies were one thing, but acting on them was another.

“I told you it was a bad idea to offer her the job, Eric. She’s never going to give it up and you’re going to spend the next however many months or years with blue balls until she quits. You’re highly unpleasant to be around when you aren’t getting laid.” Pam pulled out a nail file and began to work on her nails while she sat across from my desk.

“Is this what I pay you for?” I gestured at her.

“Yes, as a matter of fact, it is. Isn’t image part of the job?”

I wanted to growl at her, but she was right. I changed the subject and asked after her apartment in New York. Relocating her was costing me an arm and a leg, but there was no one else I trusted to run Genesis East. Little did I know when I hired her to be my assistant that I would be grooming her to oversee a second office. It sometimes boggled my mind how successful my business had become.

“Speaking of image, I think I’m going to need a long weekend in Santa Barbara before I head east.” Pam drawled.

“You do, do you?”

“It’s going to be stressful. I need to relax.” Have I mentioned that for as hard as Pam works, she’s also one of the laziest people I’ve ever met?

I spent the next three days trying not to think about her or what factors she might be weighing in order to make her decision. The longer I was forced to wait the more annoyed I became. Was she always this cautious? What about her gut? I realize not everyone is as likely to trust their instincts the way I do, but the job I had offered her was going to require split second decisions. She was going to have to be able to think on her feet and act accordingly. Most of the decisions she was going to have to make were going to be more complicated than the one that was currently in front of her.

Still, even if common sense dictated it was probably wisest to go with someone else, it was Sookie I wanted. So I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands. I got Sookie’s address from her resume and programmed it into my GPS. Traffic sucked but that was nothing new. It did very little to calm my nerves and by the time I arrived at Sookie’s apartment. I questioned how good her building’s security was when I slipped some extra cash in the doorman’s pocket to be allowed in the building without Sookie being paged first.

A short elevator ride later I was searching for the properly numbered door and rang the bell when I found it. I heard the crude buzzing inside and then the scramble of whomever was on the other side of the door. It dawned on me then that Sookie might not live alone. She could have a roommate or a boyfriend she lived with. Why it hadn’t occurred to me until that moment she might not be single was beyond me. In fact, once the thought entered my brain, I started to think it would be insane if she was single.

The door flew open and Sookie stood there dressed only in a tank top and a pair of tiny shorts that immediately had me shifting uncomfortably. Years of controlling my facial expressions had never been so useful to me since it took every ounce of strength I had to keep my eyes from falling out of their sockets, my tongue in my mouth and my hands from reaching out and grabbing her hips. It was one of those moments where I couldn’t tell if I was being rewarded or tortured for everything I’d done in my life up to that point.

I know she said, “Eric? What are you doing here?” but I didn’t wait for an invitation into her apartment. Instead, I just walked inside as if I were a regular visitor. I wanted to search the place to see if we were alone but stopped myself from doing so, figuring it would be rude, if not completely intrusive. Already there were too many lines that had been crossed and she wasn’t even an employee of mine yet.

My conscience suddenly decided to make an appearance and told me to run while I still could. I, of course, ignored that little voice of reason and instead engaged in a short battle of wits with her that showcased just how much of a spitfire she could be. When she asked me why I wanted to hire her, I had to make an instant decision and actually answer that question for myself, since it had been bouncing around in my head for the last few days.

I got my shit together internally and said, “Perhaps I haven’t made this clear to you, Miss Stackhouse, but I go after the things I want. I see it, I make a plan and I execute that plan. I am relentless. Pam says I am insufferable. I’m stubborn and determined, and I don’t let things get in the way of having the things I want.”

“And you want me?” she sounded incredulous, even though her voice had dropped an octave.

I stepped a little closer and stared hard at her, taking in every line and curve of her petite body. It was nice to see curves that weren’t manufactured or gifted sculpted by a surgeon. Everything she was working with was homegrown and she was spectacular. I’d spent enough time scrutinizing human bodies to be able to spot good ones and hers was fantastic.

“I want everything you have to offer,” I stared right into her eyes.

She gulped in an adorable way and asked, “Everything?”

“Everything.”

I was nervous, which was new for me. I knew we had reached the fork in the road. Either she was going to accept my offer or she was going to tell me to fuck off and never contact her again. Sure there was a chance I might bump into her at some point in the future but in spite of the warnings in my head, I didn’t want her to disappear. There was still something about her I was fascinated by. She stood up to me, even if she didn’t mean to do it. She had fire in her, I knew that as well, but she also had enough charm that she would be able to soothe a chaotic situation.

“Then I accept your offer,” Sookie held my gaze.

I didn’t know if I wanted to celebrate or throw up. There was an internal fist pump quickly followed by a turning in my stomach. Jesus, what have I done?, I asked myself. I decided I deserved a little reward for all of my internal battling and blatantly stared at her chest while telling her she started on Monday. I didn’t wait for her to say anything else before walking out of her apartment.

It was going to be a long weekend.

o.O.o.O.o

Monday morning arrived in its usual sneak up and pounce manner, only I didn’t bitch like I usually did when when Pam called to make sure I was awake. In fact, I’d actually remembered to set my alarm clock and was already getting on my treadmill when the phone rang. I definitely needed to clear my head a little and going for a run always seemed to accomplish that for me.

“You’re awake already? Please tell me you slept last night. You can’t show up at the Greenpeace function tomorrow with circles under your eyes and you don’t have time for a facial.” Pam lectured me like an angry mother.

“Don’t worry, Pam, I’ll be there at ten.”

“You better. Hooters McFunbags starts today-” Pam cut herself off. “You better keep it in your pants, Northman.”

“I don’t think she’s your type, Pam. Besides, if you’re going to lecture me on propriety, you might want to learn her name.”

“I know her name,” Pam’s eye roll was practically audible. “I just figure with a name like Sookie Stackhouse, calling her Tatas McSweaterpuppies-”

“Goodbye, Pam,” I hung up on her and started running.

I ran for an hour with my ear buds blasting away in my ears. There was something about Aerosmith and a morning run that was just a winning combination for me. I felt very alert and energized by the time I got into the shower. Thinking of Sookie while in the shower had become part of my regular morning routine but I was determined to break myself of the habit. I was her boss and that meant I had to keep my hands off of her (and myself for my own sanity) until she gave me a reason not to, and it had to be something more substantial than my dick calling the shots.

Shock of all shocks I actually made it to the office before ten. It was like the traffic Gods were aware of what was waiting for me and were actually on my side for once. The receptionist was sitting at her usual spot when I walked in and she smile at me between taking incoming calls. I made my way back toward my office and was stopped a handful of times with requests for signatures or opinions.

This is why I hate walking around without Pam, I wanted to kick my own ass for a while there. I found myself trapped into listening to someone in marketing pitch a hair brain idea that was never going to work. Thankfully I was tapped on the shoulder and I was extra relieved to see Sookie standing there, bright eyed and holding a steaming mug of coffee that appeared to be perfectly doctored.

“If you got this right, I will be extremely impressed,” I took the cup from her.

“I’m not just a pretty face,” Sookie stared at me expectantly, arms folded under her breasts and enhancing her cleavage. Dammit.

I kept my eyes on hers while raising the mug to my lips. Easy on the cream with a dash of cinnamon. I froze with the mug still at my mouth. All the voices in my head that had been at war over whether to keep chasing her or run screaming the other way suddenly went silent until one voice made a very clear demand.

“Marry me,” I said before I could stop the words from escaping.

Sookie laughed nervously and said, “Pam told me the secret. I take it I got it right?”

“It’s perfection,” I looked over my shoulder at the marketing rep who had been wasting my time. “Run that by your supervisor for approval.”

“Pam also asked me to remind you that your presence is required at the Griffith Observatory on Thursday and she told me to ask you if we need to find you an escort for the evening.” Sookie recited with a plucky enthusiasm I was pretty sure was going to disappear when I informed her she was going to be my escort.

“That won’t be necessary, Miss Stackhouse. You will be my escort,” I smirked at her and started walking toward my office.

“Me?” Sookie was still standing in the doorway of the nameless marking rep I would have fired if I could remember her name.

“Yes, you. I believe you were aware I would need you to attend functions like these. I made that clear, yes?”

“Yes, but-”

“But what? Do you already have plans Thursday?”

“Well not really. I mean, I usually just go to the gym and watch Grey’s Anatomy but-”

“That sounds like nothing a lunchtime workout and a DVR can’t fix. It’s not a formal affair,” I said as I kept walking. “In fact, they prefer to keep things pretty low key at Greenpeace, but that doesn’t stop Bono from showing up looking like a douche in leather pants. The PETA people have a field day with him.”

“That sounds very entertaining but-”

“I met Pink last time I went. She punched Corey Feldman in the gut when he made a comment about her husband’s tattoos, I think it was. Now that was entertaining.” I smiled at Sookie as we bypassed Pam’s desk.

“That’s great, Eric,” Sookie followed me into my office.

“It’s part of the job, and comparatively speaking, this is nothing. There’s minimal red carpet and all we have to do is show up, present a check, take a few pictures and look at some stars. Think you can handle that?” I asked her as I removed my jacket and sat down at me desk.

“Yes, I can handle that,” she was insulted I presumed she couldn’t. “I’m just not used to being someone’s arm candy.”

“That is tragic,” I stared her up and down, taking in the sundress and heels she was wearing. If she was going to show up dressed like that every day, I was going to have to start taking my shower vow much more seriously.

A slight blush crept up from her neck to her cheeks and settled evenly, giving her a rosy glow. Sookie leaned forward, bracing her hands on the edge of my desk. There was that cleavage again. The modest glow disappeared and there was something almost sinister in her eyes.

“Let’s get something straight, Mr. Northman,” hearing her say my name like that made my cock twitch and based on the way her eyes sparkled it seemed she knew it. Although how she knew was a mystery to me. “I’m going to do what you hired me to do but fucking you isn’t part of the deal. I’m not a whore and I have no intention of fucking my way to the top. Whatever is between us is purely professional and nothing else. Is that clear?”

Our eyes met and locked. She held her own, I’ll give her that. The heaving of her chest in my peripheral vision, however, alerted me to the fact that she was more nervous than she was willing to let on.

“Crystal,” I leaned back in my chair. She’d said, in effect, the things I had been thinking but figured would qualify as sexual harassment if I mentioned it. “Now run along and let Pam teach you how to be the perfect girl Friday.”

Sookie narrowed her eyes at me before turning and heading for the door. She stopped suddenly and looked over her tan shoulder at me. “Just so you know, I take my coffee black.” Then she strutted out of my office, leaving me smiling into the empty space she had occupied moments before.

 

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