Chapter 1

"Chicken Cesar please"she said, smiling at the woman on the other side of the counter.

"Hey Sook" came a warm masculine voice from behind her.

Whirling Sookie turned around. "Hey Sam" she said smiling, "I missed you at the guard station when I came in this morning"

"I'm working the swing shift today. How's your day goin?" Sam said, watching as she took the bowl off the counter and said her thanks to the woman across the counter.

"Its crazy, rumor is we are merging, I've been talking to the admin on the other side, its only gonna get crazier" Sookie said, sighing, "So much for a life"

"What's gonna happen to the staff, mergers are never safe you know, there are always layoffs" Sam said.

"They haven't said yet, you know they won't til damn near the last minute" Sookie said, shaking her head. Sookie took her salad bowl and walked to the soda station.

"I'll see you later Sam" she called grabbing an ice tea and cashing out.

Sookie made her way over to the elevators and managed to get back to her desk before the phone started ringing.

"Victor Madden's office, Sookie Stackhouse speaking, how can I help you?" she said automatically, not realizing she was answering her direct line.

"It's crazy for me to, I always answer my line like its Eric's too" answered the voice on the end, with a laugh.

"I am up to my arm pits in email and calendar issues, Amelia I am gonna scream before this merger is over, all the questions blah" Sookie said as she flopped into her chair. Kicking off her shoes under her desk, she took a knife and fork out of her desk. "How's it goin for you? I just grabbed a salad in the cafeteria."

"The same, all the emails and meetings, I am making arrangements for Eric to fly out your way next week. Can you be his point of contact while he is out your way?" Amelia asked, "It will make it easier if he has someone to assist him, and it will ensure that you are on 'the list' face time with boss is always good"

"Sure, what ever I can do to help. Do you need a hotel recommendation? I know the manager of the hotel next door, they are good, and he will be able to walk to and from the building, no need to bother with a car until he wants to leave"

"Would you be able to make the reservation for me? I'll give you his corporate card number"

After exchanging the necessary information and all the details, Sookie hung up the phone and called the hotel. Booking a suite for the next 5 weeks was easy, once she got the email confirmation, she forwarded it on to Amelia and printed a copy for herself.

The day seemed to fly by and it was 5 before Sookie had a chance to check in with Victor. Reaching his voice mail, she left a message on his cell phone, telling him to check his email and to call her when he got the message. Sookie was planning on staying at the office until after 7 she had a few more things to get done.

Victor Madden had hired her 5 years ago, and they made a formidable team. He was a Director when she first started with him, and now, he was an Executive Vice President. They had been promoted several times, with his business savvy and her attention to detail, they were a force to be reckoned with, both within the company and externally, Victor had been getting more attention with reporters and different organizations wanting him on their board of directors. Victor Madden was a hot commodity; it was no surprise when their technology company, The Patriot, was sold to Unity. Unity had been interested in The Patriot for years and as Victor was promoted their income started doubling the company became very successful. The problem was that as they became more successful, their CEO was aging, and made the decision that he wanted to retire. With that came the announcement that the privately held company was going to be sold the Unity, also a privately held company, with a bright, shining and extremely successful, golden boy as CEO. Eric Northman had taken over as CEO and President, almost 6 years ago. He had grown their portfolio several times over, making them the number one technology company in the United States. Unity was interested in The Patriot because of the government contracts they held. It would allow Unity to take over those contracts and essentially dominate the market.

Victor had been meeting with Eric to address the merger and its affects on the government as well as the employees. As a result, Amelia who was Eric's assistant and Sookie, Victors assistant were becoming good buddies. They had spoken on the phone almost daily since the merger had been announced.

What had not been announced publicly was that Unity would be moving its headquarters from San Francisco to Virginia in the coming months. It made sense for Unity to move its headquarters to be near its biggest client, the Federal Government.

Eric was flying out next week to start looking at office space with Victor and also to find himself a home, or at least a Corporate Apartment while he found a home. Sookie and Amelia had been coordinating his time between client visits with Victor and the real estate agent that would be taking him around the area.

Sookie's phone rang at 6:30. "The Patriot this is Sookie" she said as she answered the phone.

"Hey Sook, sorry its so late, I've been thru my email, and I got your voicemail, what's up?" Victor asked, a smile on his face. 'What would I do without her?' he thought to himself.

"Are you still good for flights tomorrow? I need to know if I am going to change them?" she asked.

"Nope I'm good, we are wrapping up here soon and I won't need to come back tomorrow so I'll be able to go straight to the airport from the hotel"

"OK, we need to go over the press release for the council meeting that is coming up, and I finished your Congressional speech, do you want me to leave a copy on your desk?" she asked placing a check next to the items on her list.

They were on the phone another 30 minutes as Sookie went thru her list for Victor. Victor added a few things to her list for tomorrow and they finished the call.

Sookie coordinated things in her daytimer, it was her work bible, Victor often teased her about hiding it from her to see how long she could function without it. Sookie kept everything in it from Victor's allergy to peanuts, to the favorite flowers of their customers wife. In truth, Sookie could lose her laptop and still function as long as she had her daytimer, it was the way she controlled her life as well as Victors.

Finishing up the last of her tasks, Sookie walked out the door to her car at 7:45. Making it home by 8:30 she managed to flip thru a drive thru and grab some chicken nugget, before pulling into her garage.

Making her way out of the garage and to her bottom floor apartment, she dropped her bags in the door. Walking into her bedroom she saw her best friend laying in the middle of her bed.

"Hi Bella" she called as she walked into her closet to hang her clothes and put on her nightgown and robe. Stopping briefly to scratch behind the ears of her cat, she walked into the kitchen with her take out bag and Bella trotting behind her.

Opening a can of cat food and setting it down, she was greeted with a lick on the back of her hand as Bella made her way over to her dinner. Sookie giggled and with a soft stroke to her back, left and went to the kitchen to eat her nuggets.

Turning on the TV she settled on the news for a bit, at least the noise would distract her while she ate. Finishing up in the kitchen, she made her way to her living room, and sat flipping channels until she got up and went to bed.

Arriving at the office the next day, Sookie was downing her coffee as the badged in. "Thank God its Friday" she said as she past the guard station. The three guards on duty gave her weak nods of agreement.

As she arrived on the 6th floor, she noticed she was the first one that morning. All the floors in the building had doors near the elevators that employees had to badge into but the 6th floor was the executive floor and they closed those doors after hours, but whoever arrived first propped the doors open, so that all employees could come and go at will.

Breezing down the corridor she made her way to her desk, which was right outside Victor's office. It had taken her no time to get ready, Fridays were denim for the employees at The Patriot, and while Sookie didn't usually indulge, she did this particular Friday. With Victor out of the office, she knew she would not have to face any clients. She also thought that this might be the last time she would get to take advantage of it, with Mr. Northman arriving next week and being in their office for at least the next 5 weeks, Sookie was figuring she could kiss the tradition goodbye.

Docking her laptop and turning it on, she made her way to the kitchen to start the first pot of coffee. By the time she returned, she was able to log in and open email and get her day started.

Scanning thru her email, she noticed several from Amelia and Victor. Going thru Victor's first she was able to file them and mark the necessary items for follow up. Moving to Amelia's emails she noticed that Amelia had copied Eric her 'thank you' for scheduling the hotel and helping with the calendar and transition in the coming weeks. Smiling, she replied to all and added responded with a gracious response.

The other emails from Amelia were real estate listings for Sookie to print out for Eric to review the following week. Making her way thru those, she was able to finish and get to the kitchen to refill her coffee mug.

"Its gonna be a long day" she said to herself.

Proofing Victor's congressional speech for the third time, Sookie laid it on his desk with her notes. Victor would be addressing congress the week after next on cyber security. It was a hot topic right now.

Victor's phone started ringing at 10 and seemed to not stop until after 2. For some reason, people were under the impression he was in the office today. Finally reaching the end of her rope, Sookie silenced both phones, which would send them immediately to voice mail and went to grab her lunch.

Cell phone in hand with her wallet, Sookie managed to eat half of her sandwich in the cafeteria with an analyst, Lafayette, before Amelia called her.

"Did you know your desk is rolling to voicemail?"

"Yeah, it started at 10 today and I had to get to lunch, so I switched both Victor and I over. I'll go thru the voice mails when I get back. What's up?" Sookie answered.

"Well, they both flew back today. They should be landing anytime now. Eric managed to get on Victor's flight and they were talking about going to the office"

"Shit, I'm in jeans, I gotta go, I gotta change, I'm so glad I keep a suit in the office for emergencies" Sookie replied.

"Well, hurry, they landed like an hour ago" Amelia laughed as Sookie hung up.

Running up the stairs and into Victor's office, she grabbed her spare suit. Racing to the bathroom, Sookie was able to change and get back to her desk and hide her clothes in a desk drawer. Her long blonde hair hanging loose as she was bent over, closing her drawer, she looked up and turned around at the sound of someone clearing their throat.

Her blue eyes widened a bit at the site of Adonis himself standing in front of her. He was quite a bit taller than her, with short blonde hair, his broad shoulders made his trim waist seem more appealing. His blue eyes seemed to pop against the blue of his shirt. His suit jacket only emphasized his shoulders.

Her mouth was suddenly dry as she tried to form words instead of panting and drooling under the gaze of laughing blue eyes taking in her form.

She saw them start at her ankles, move up her toned legs and take in her small waist, generous bust and settle back on her eyes as one of his eyebrows shot up, a smirk taking over his features as he leaned on the edge of her desk.

"Can I help you?" she finally choked out.

"Yes, but I think a better question is, can I help you" he countered purring at the end of his sentence, licking his lips in a not so subtle hint.

Sookie felt insulted at his unspoken innuendo, "Perhaps if you tell me who you are looking for I can tell you what floor they are on?" she replied, her voice tightening.

"I've been looking for you my whole life." He replied his smirk growing "Why don't you tell me where happy hour is and we can talk about the first thing that pops up"

"I can call security if that would help you" she countered, now angry, her face red and tight with emotion.

"Only if they look like you" he paused for a moment waiting for her reaction, getting none he asked "Where is the kitchen?"

Not trusting herself to speak, Sookie pointed towards the hallway. With a nod, the man walked away. Before Sookie could scream in frustration, her cell phone rang again.

It was Victor "Hey Sook" he greeted "I am in the lobby, I forgot my badge, can you come claim me?"

"I'll be right down" She answered moving towards the elevator quickly. Not seeing

Nodding to the guards on the main level, Victor and Sookie were in the elevator quickly.

"I left the speech on your desk, I made notes, take a look and we can do a rehearsal next week." Sookie said, it was time for business.

"OK, send an email out to all employees, we need to have a meeting in the auditorium" Victor said, exiting the elevators. He walked slowly so Sookie could keep up with him. "We're going to announce the HQ relocation plans. Eric flew back with me, he'll be doing the announcement at 3P"

"K, I am looking forward to meeting him, I promised Amelia, his admin I would help him while he is here" Sookie said

"I like him, he is a very 'what you see is what you get' kinda guy. We will do well under him." Victor acknowledged.

"I'm glad you like him; since you will be working with him so much" Sookie said a smile on her face.

"Yes it will make things easier, liking him I mean" reaching their corner of the floor, Victor stepped into his office. Looking over his shoulder he laughed "I love the socks and tennis shoes with the suit Sookie, it's a good look"

Sookie was so infallible, Victor always loved it when he managed to catch her off guard, it had become a game for him.

Pulling together a quick email and reserving the auditorium, Sookie sent it off to Victor for final approval. She was always careful and make him read anything before she sent it out, just in case he didn't like it. Victor ok'd the verbage in 5 minutes. Once it was ready, Sookie sent it out to all employees and made sure to cc Amelia and Eric as well.

The phone rang, the minute she got the 'ok- email sent' confirmation. "The Patriot, Victor Madden's office this is Sookie Stackhouse" she answered.

"Ms Stackhouse, I've not talked to you in some time, how are you today? Are you enjoying our beautiful spring weather?"

It was Bill Compton. He was the CEO of Synergistic. Synergistic's was a company that was teaming with The Patriot on a particular Defense contract. He was also a skirt chaser. In spite of his 15 year marriage to Lorena, and 3 happy, healthy children, Bill was interested in Sookie, very interested.

"Its been lovely hasn't it Bill? Hold one moment and I'll grab Victor for you" she said, giving him no chance to protest. Getting up she hit the wall separating her desk from Victor.

Victor nodded, knowing who it was from Sookie's reaction and picked up the line. Victor's second line rang then.

Sookie rolled her eyes silently discovering it was John Quinn. He was a fellow board member with one of Victor's outside pursuits. He always called her "babe" and it just drove her nuts. He was requesting the last meeting minutes and some information about an upcoming meeting that Victor was hosting when Victor walked out of his office. Not noticing the time, Sookie managed to get finally get off the phone at 3:10. Stepping off the elevator, she arrived at the auditorium just in time to see the blonde man who had harassed her earlier standing in the hall talking to another blonde, this one a female. They were talking in a foreign language and stopped when they saw Sookie approach.

He stepped in front of Sookie with a raised eyebrow and his grin "I could accuse you of chasing me" he said "Isn't that harassment? I won't tell though, as long as you promise to harass me frequently"

"You know, we should be in the auditorium, there is an important announcement happening." She retorted, not bothering a reply to is comment.

"OH?" he asked innocently

"Yes, our new CEO is making a statement, and you should be listening, he will be running our company, we need to support him the best way we can" Sookie lectured.

"You are happy about this take over?" he asked

"I have no opinion on the matter, it is my job to make sure my executive is supported to the best of my capabilities and that our CEO makes this transition smoothly so our customers are not impacted. You would think that you, being an employee here would feel the same way"

"Your executive?" he answered, stressing the word your.

"If my executive looks bad then I look bad, so yes, I consider him mine" Sookie replied coldly.

The blonde woman just stood watching the interaction. She made no comment until Sookie claimed her executive.

"That almost sounds like loyalty"

"It is" Sookie said, her gaze meeting the cold, pale blue eyes of the woman.

Victor walked out into the hall then, "Come on, I saved you a chair, we haven't begun yet" he said his arm reaching out for Sookie.

With a nod Sookie turned, forgetting the two strangers and walked into the auditorium. Victor had gotten them 2 seats in the first row. The new CEO would be walking in and the podium was right in front of Sookie, she would get to see the man before he knew who she was.

'I wonder what he looks like?'Sookie wondered, she had been trying to Google him all week, hoping to find a picture of him so she wouldn't be caught off guard when he did finally arrive.

Sookie heard the door to the stage click and then latch shut. She had been looking around the auditorium to see how full it was. Hearing the door shut, she turned in her seat, her professional 'welcome aboard' smile plastered on her face, she looked up at the podium and saw her blonde Adonis grinning down at her.

"Good Afternoon everyone, I am Eric Northman…."