A/N: So, I'm pretty darn excited about this new fic. And, when I say excited, I mean it. I'm practically doing jazz hands over here! I figured why not venture into something I know a little bit about and also enjoy doing. I hope y'all enjoy it as much as I do.
I have to say that I am one lucky yogi and have two absolutely phenomenal ladies beta-ing for me. Gallathea and s. Meadows make my words shine. Thanks ladies! xoxo They both have their own f*ckawesome fics going on, so make sure to go check those out too!
It goes without saying that I do not own these characters, I only take them out of Charlaine Harris's sandbox to play with and bend and fold into funny yoga positions.
Duhkha: suffering, a fundamental fact of life, caused by ignorance of our true nature
"Yoga?" I must not have heard her correctly, because I was pretty certain that she did not just suggest I take some new age, bullshit yoga class.
"Yes, Mr. Northman, yoga. I think it will have a two-fold benefit. Your blood pressure is quite high, and you're young enough that I think we can get it under control with a change in lifestyle. You are clearly over-stressed, and I think yoga would be of great benefit to help with that. Secondly, with the injury sustained to your back, any sort of heavy weight lifting would be out of the question for exercise. In fact, you are going to need to take it easy for a couple of weeks in general. Yoga would be an excellent way to help maintain your muscle strength while you continue to recuperate."
Did she also think that I somehow lost my balls when I pulled my back? I shifted my hand down a bit lower and discreetly copped a feel. Nope, still there. There was no way I was going to take a yoga class, for fuck's sake. I'd be fine; I would just delegate the heavy lifting and lay low for a bit, and I'd be fine. And my blood pressure? Hell, Maybe I could cut back a few hours at work, and I could probably stand to drink just a little bit less. I'm sure both of those things would work.
"Dr. Ludwig, I appreciate the suggestion, but I'm not so sure about that at the moment. Let's just see how things pan out, ok?"
Dr. Ludwig muttered something to herself and I managed to catch the words "macho bullshit" and I almost snickered, because I really couldn't imagine this woman, who eerily reminded me of my nana, saying such a thing.
She stood at the table next to me for a moment, writing something down. She ripped off a couple sheets of paper and thrust them at me.
"Here, this is a prescription for some muscle relaxers and this one is for a high strength pain reliever. There is only enough to last you a week. I suggest you spend this week mostly in bed, trying to rest. After that, your back will most likely still be sore, but nothing an Advil won't help. And this," she said, tossing one more paper in my direction, "is the name and address of a wonderful yoga studio in town that specializes in helping people with injuries. I have sent other patients their way with excellent results. I suggest that when you get over yourself and realize you need a little something extra to help you get through this that you'll check them out."
I just nodded, not wanting to start an argument with her, and hobbled out of her office, my back in searing pain despite the shot she had just given me. I gradually made my way back to the front desk to fork over my co-pay and sign some papers.
"So, what's the verdict? Are you gonna make it?"
I slowly turned around to see Pam's smirking face. She stood in the doorway to the doctor's office, looking me up and down.
"Very funny, Pam. Sorry to burst your bubble, but apparently a strained back is not life threatening. It does, however, hurt like a bitch, so we need to swing by the pharmacy on the way home for my meds."
"Yes, master," she said, her tone mockingly sarcastic.
I rolled my eyes, knowing that it was just Pam's way of showing she cared, and it didn't escape my notice when she went around to the passenger side first and opened the door for me. We swung by the pharmacy and she ran in to fill my prescriptions, knowing that it would take more effort for me to get in and out of the car an extra time. I handed her some cash, expecting change, but when she came back, she just tossed the pills at me.
"Where's my change?"
She started the car, and without even bothering to give me a glance, she pulled out of the parking lot like a bat out of hell.
"Oh, yeah, your change. Well, after I bought some peanut M&Ms and an US Weekly, there wasn't really any change left. My bad."
She really didn't look all that sorry, but I didn't push it, since she was already doing me the favor of carting my ass around while I was laid up. With Pam's swift driving, we made it back to my condo in record time.
I popped a few of the pain pills and downed a glass of water before heading towards my bedroom.
"Thanks Pam," I shouted over my shoulder as I eased myself down on to the bed, praying I wouldn't have to move for the next few days.
"No problem Eric. Just so you know, I'm leaving some food on the counter for you in case you get hungry, and I'll come over tomorrow at some point to make sure you haven't pissed yourself or anything."
Wow, she was really so considerate.
"You cooked?" I asked, my voice partially muffled by my pillow.
"Eh, I left you some packets of ramen noodles, just as good."
Did I mention she was really considerate?
All thoughts of Pam were abandoned as my mind started to get fuzzy around the edges as my pain pills kicked in. Sleep overtook me soon after, and that's how I stayed for over ten more hours.
I woke up the next day and attempted to roll over.
My back was still in insane pain. I was almost sure this was worse than what childbirth must feel like. I reached my hand out and blindly felt for my pill bottles. I took a pain reliever and a muscle relaxer; after a few minutes, they both kicked in, and I was able to roll over without feeling like a million hot pokers were piercing me in the back.
I looked at the bedside table and saw a bowl of fruit and a glazed donut. Damn, that bitch actually cares. I couldn't help but smile to myself at Pam's thoughtfulness. She and I had been through a lot together, and despite our prickly personalities, we really did care for each other. We were essentially family and could rely on each other in a pinch. It was why she was out here, helping me with my bar.
"Pam?" I called out, wondering if she was still here.
After a few seconds, her harpy voice rang out from down the hall. "Made it through the night, I see. There go my hopes for taking over the bar and turning it into a karaoke lounge."
"Ha ha. Really, you should be a stand up comic. Alright, enough funny business, come on in, I need to talk business with you."
Moments later, Pam appeared in my door, a mug of coffee in her hand. She placed it next to me and I thanked her, welcoming the warm liquid as I held the cup up to my lips.
After a few sips, I patted the bed next to me, letting her know it was okay to sit down. Despite her thin frame, the slight movement she made on the bed when she sat down jostled my body enough that I felt a sharp pain. The grimace on my face must have given it away, because Pam actually looked slightly concerned.
"Eric, in all seriousness, are you going to be okay?"
I hadn't really told Pam the extent of my injury, but then again, I didn't want to believe I was as bad off as I really was.
"Fuck," I cursed, because really what else was there to say? "I will be fine Pam, I'm just not really fine at the moment. Remind me to fire that jackass Clancy. If he had just done his job in the first place, I wouldn't have been the one to haul up those cases of beer. Those damn imports are heavy."
I had pulled my back lifting a case of lager of all things. I had lifted many cases of beer in my life, but I must have lifted wrong or bent my knees at the incorrect angle, because all I could remember was blinding pain in my back as soon as I straightened up. The case of beer immediately slipped out of my numb feeling hands and I was soon lying in a puddle of broken glass and sweet smelling Belgian beer. I tried to call for help, but seeing as how I was in the cellar, nobody heard me for at least an hour. By then I was close to passing out, and just made it Dr. Ludwig's. She had said that I sprained my back moderately, and that the muscles had swelled up enough to cause me intense pain and limit my movement.
Needless to say, I wasn't going to be heading back to the office any time soon, which just pissed me off. I had worked hard to open my bar, my baby, and now I had to trust that Pam could hold down the fort while I was laid up with a bad back. Of course, I had my laptop with me and could still handle some business stuff, but the day to day operations would not be possible. I trusted Pam, but…
"Oh yeah, I already informed him he might want to start looking for a new job," Pam quipped, snapping me out of my thoughts.
"And Eric, I can see your mind running itself weary in that pretty little head of yours. You need to relax. I can handle this, trust me. You'll be all healed up and back to your bitchy self in no time flat. In the meantime, I've got things under control. And don't worry, that karaoke machine I wanted is on back order, so your bar is safe…for now."
Pam patted my leg and gingerly scooted off the bed, letting me know she'd be back later on to check in on me. I flipped my laptop on, and sorted through some email before the pain killers wore me down and I went back to sleep.
The rest of the week passed by in a pill-induced haze. Pam stopped by daily, making sure that I was eating, and helped me shower a couple of times. She even brought me a special ice pack made for back injuries that really did make it feel better, for a short amount of time, at least. Finally the day came when I had used up all of my medication and I attempted to see what life would be like without the aid of pharmaceuticals.
I didn't like it.
While my back wasn't radiating fire, it was still incredibly sore. The couple Advils I popped in the morning did jack squat, and the ice only helped for small periods. Thankfully, it was a Sunday, so I had one more day to lounge around at home, resting up.
Monday rolled around and I was still sore, but ready to get back to work. I had read every one of Pam's trashy magazines and was painfully up to date on all the latest Hollywood gossip. There was also only so much Jerry Springer I could take, and I relished getting back to my baby to make sure Pam hadn't run it into the ground.
I got to work by ten in the morning and left around noon, unable to stay seated in my office chair for more than twenty minutes at a time. I knew the doctor said it would take a few weeks to fully heal up, but this was ridiculous. I was really starting to get antsy. I couldn't stay at work because I was too uncomfortable to stay in my office; I felt useless elsewhere in the bar, since I couldn't lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk.
Spending time at home sucked because there wasn't much to do other than answer emails and remind myself I was a useless ass. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty shitty.
After checking my email for the fifth time that day, my eye caught one of the scraps of paper that Dr. Ludwig had given me.
Namaste Yoga Studio, 241 Main Street
Was I really that desperate? I realized that the studio was only a few blocks away, and actually located right next door to my favorite café. Maybe I could take a slow stroll to the café and just see what this yoga place had to offer. It couldn't hurt any more than how I was feeling right now.
I made the five block trip in twenty minutes, as I walked at a snail's pace, hoping my back wouldn't seize up at any moment. I stopped at the café first and got a large coffee before walking over to the yoga studio. I stood outside, appraising the large sign in front, debating whether or not I wanted to go inside.
While I was standing there, sipping my coffee, a trio of women walked out of the studio dressed in tight pants and skimpy tank tops.
Hmm…I hadn't thought about that benefit to taking yoga.
With the hope of seeing more scantily clad women inside, I pushed the door open and walked in. The place wasn't as bad as I thought. It didn't stink like patchouli, and there wasn't any incense burning at the counter or wind chimes clanking around. In fact, it was sparsely decorated, with lovely wood floors, a few large plants scattered around, and a couple of photographs portraying people twisted up like pretzels in various outdoor locations.
I saw a few pamphlets on a table by a water cooler and hobbled over there to grab one, hoping it would have some more information. If I could get away without talking to anybody, that would be ideal.
"Hello? Can I help you?"
Of course, nothing ever wants to go my way.
The grating voice pierced through the air again.
I turned around to see who was bothering me and had to fight the laugh that threatened to erupt out of me. This guy was probably around my age, but other than that, and each having a Y chromosome, I was pretty sure there was nothing else we had in common. His shaggy brown hair barely covered a small diamond earring in one of his ears. He was barefoot, wearing a tighter than necessary lime green tank top that showed off ample dark chest hair and a pair of black pants that had no business being that comfortable with his crotch.
I figured I'd better answer this guy before he thought I was eye fucking him.
"No thanks, I'm all set."
"Really, man? Your aura looks pretty cloudy. Seems like you could use some help."
This guy did not just insult my aura, of all things. Not like I actually ever bothered to think about my aura, but if I took a second to do so, I'm pretty sure it would not be considered "cloudy."
"I said I'm all set, thanks," probably stressing my words a bit too much. I thought I was supposed to feel serene and calm in this place. This guy was definitely not helping.
"Hey Bill, give the guy a break."
I turned my head and saw a cute brunette going over and placing a hand on the guy's arm. She looked over at me and smiled.
"Just take your time, sir, and let us know if we can help at all."
"Thanks," I replied gruffly, still put off by the jackass now known as Bill.
I flipped through the pamphlet I had picked up and saw that it had a schedule on the back. There were a lot of strange words that I had never heard of before, and I felt like I'd need a yoga-to-English dictionary just to understand what half of them were.
Kirtan, Advanced Pranayama, Hatha, Danskinetics…
Hell, I wasn't even one hundred percent sure how to pronounce the name of the damn studio. I hated being unsure of things, and this was no exception. While I'm sure Dr. Ludwig meant well, just looking at this damn pamphlet was making me anxious, which seemed to be exactly the opposite of the therapeutic effect I was looking for.
I was about to book it the hell out of there when I felt a warm hand on my arm.
"The schedule can look a little bit overwhelming at first glance. I can help recommend a class for you if you'd like."
It was the brunette from before. I took a second to look her over. She seemed to be a walking contradiction. Her brown hair was cut in a no-nonsense soccer mom style, which didn't jive with her loose fitting tank top, flowing skirt, nose ring, and what looked like one hundred different silver bangle bracelets on her arms.
She had a warm smile on her face, and her calming tone helped relax me a bit, so I tried not to be rude, despite wanting to bolt from the place.
"Oh, uh, yeah. Thanks…"
"Amelia." She stuck out her hand and I took it in my own, giving it a firm shake. I was surprised by the firm grasp she gave in return.
"So, tell me, what brings you to our studio today…?"
"Eric. I hurt my back at work and my doctor suggested I come check you guys out."
No sense in beating around the bush.
"Hm, okay Eric. Is this your first foray into yoga?"
I nodded and Amelia took a few seconds to glance over the schedule before speaking again.
"I think the best class for you would be our restorative gentle yoga class with Sookie Stackhouse. She is one of our best instructors. This is a great class both for beginners and for those who are looking to reduce stress and relax. We really focus on linking breath with movement and trusting your body's awareness and intuition."
I nodded along, thinking it sounded like an okay class to me, although the instructor had a hippy dippy sounding name.
"The next time the class meets is tomorrow at six in the evening. Do you think you can make it?"
Before I got a chance to answer, Bill piped in with his two cents.
"Amelia, I think that class of Sookie's is full, so Eric's all out of luck, sorry man."
The guy looked more smug than sorry, and I wondered why that was.
Amelia frowned and turned back to the schedule, presumably to try and find another class that would be a good fit for me.
"Did I just hear my name?" A crystal clear voice, lightly coated in a southern accent spoke up.
I hobbled around to look in the direction the voice came from and had to do a double take. Standing next to Bill was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen. Her golden blonde waves were held up high in a ponytail, showing off her perfect face. A pair of sparkling blue eyes stood out, and a bright smile played upon her luscious, pink lips.
Her body was stunning, but not overly exposed in a black tank top and a pair of purple yoga pants. She was also barefoot and her toenails were painted in a vibrant turquoise. She was either an instructor or a devoted yoga student, because her arms were well toned and glistening with a slight sheen of sweat.
Bill looked from me to the woman next to him and almost growled. "It's nothing."
Amelia looked up and took in the scene in front of her. She crossed her arms as if preparing for a showdown. "Actually, Eric here was hoping to take your six o'clock class tomorrow evening, but Bill said that you're at capacity."
She gave Bill a pointed look before turning back to the blonde goddess. "Are you?"
The beautiful woman turned towards Bill, a look of confusion clearly plastered across her face.
"I'm not. In fact, Bill and I were just brainstorming more ways to get a few more bodies in that class. Most people assume it's for beginners and forget that it's a great restorative class for yogis of any experience."
Bill mumbled something under his breath and made up some excuse about needing to check on inventory. I couldn't help but smirk at his obvious fuck up.
"Hi, I'm Sookie and I'd love to have you in class tomorrow."
Hi, I'm Eric and I'd love to have you as well… was what I wanted to say. Instead, I tamed my inner beast and went with the more polite route.
"Hi Sookie, I'm Eric, and I guess I'll be seeing you tomorrow evening."
The sincere smile on her face was infectious, and I found myself smiling right back. As the muscles in my face worked to turn my lips into a smile, I realized this was the first time in over a week that I had genuinely smiled. I turned towards Amelia and nodded, and then back again towards Sookie.
"Good bye ladies," I said as I waved, hobbling towards the door.
"Oh! Eric!" Sookie exclaimed, just as my hand was on the door. "Try and come a few minutes early so I can get some history on you…you know, for the class and stuff." I could see her cheeks pink up a bit as she said that. I nodded at her once more, leaving the studio, and I swore I heard a high-pitched giggle as the door slammed shut behind me.
I slowly turned back around but couldn't see anything happening inside the studio, so I limped back home, spending the entire walk back trying to figure out how I was going to land one Ms. Sookie Stackhouse, yoga instructor and all-around hottie.
A/N: Now...press that little button down below and let me know what you think. Do we want to see Eric bend and twist and sweat? *grins*
Oh! and for those following my other story, Table For One - have no fear, that will be updated today or tomorrow!