I'm bringin' sexy back
You motherfuckers watch how I attack
If that's your girl better watch your back
'Cause she'll burn it up for me and that's a fact
Justin Timberlake "Sexy Back"
I felt something the first time I saw Eric Northman. We were in a meeting, in the large conference room. I can't remember what the meeting was about, but I can remember the way I felt when he walked in the door. It was like everything inside of me woke up suddenly from a deep sleep. Like my whole life, I had been waiting for that moment, and there it was.
Everyone in the office had been talking about his return. The girls were especially excited, and regaled me with stories of his beauty and commanding presence. I had scoffed, internally, of course. No man could be that attractive – that appealing. When he walked in the door to that meeting, I knew immediately that they were all wrong. He was much more than they had described.
Amelia had told about his great height, his broad shoulders, and his muscular body; a "swimmer's build" she had called it. But she made no mention of his golden skin, of the gracefulness of his stride, of the way everyone had to look up to him, not just because of his height, but because something in his presence demanded it. I had heard he was blonde, but had no idea that his hair was long and thick, that he wore it tamed back into a ponytail, and that it was the same natural honeyed shade as my own. Arlene talked about his deep voice, but she couldn't begin to describe the tenor, the vibration, the pure sensual experience it was to hear him speak and let his words wash over you. And his eyes – absolutely no one had mentioned those glacial blue eyes, their every look a caress that delved deep into your soul and seemed to know your every want and desire. No, they hadn't prepared me for meeting Eric Northman, despite all their gossiping in the few months since I had started working at Sophie Ann's.
The focus of my world seemed to shift when he walked through the door.
I was a fairly new employee, only there for about three months or so, and the lead buyer for the lingerie department. It was a coveted position, evidently, and some other employees were not happy that someone outside the company had been hired. I had lots of experience, though, through my previous work at a competing company. And they ushered me in with friendly, if not totally welcoming, arms.
Since my arrival, I had heard rumors about the great Eric Northman. Some people called him "The Viking." The men called him that because he had been very successful at attacking and acquiring new businesses and techniques. I think the women used the name because they had daydreams of being pillaged.
"The Viking" had been overseas for the past year, helping to open a secondary corporate office in Europe. According to rumor, he was offered the chance to run that entire operation, but declined because he wanted to stay close to the home office. Speculation had him in a torrid love affair with Sophie Ann herself, who was quite a bit older that he. I didn't hold much for speculation. I had seen firsthand the sparks flying between Sophie Ann and her assistant, Andre, and I had serious doubts that anything was going to come between those two. Eric's return after a year's absence was most certainly the talk of the office.
I had tried to brush off the talk. Could the guy really be that much of a stud? And besides, he was in mergers and acquisitions, and I was in lingerie. When were our paths going to cross? As long as he wasn't my boss, I wasn't going to worry about him.
And I had enough to worry about with my boss. Russell Edgington was gay, so I didn't have to worry about him hitting on me, but he was an artist and played the whole "artistic temperament" to the hilt. He was a prima donna who seemed to believe I was his personal assistant, available at his beck and call.
Lingerie was a fairly new department, and something that the executives at Sophie Ann's had great interest in seeing blossom. The Viking had acquired a popular French lingerie business while in Europe (in his spare time, surely), which gave Sophie Ann's the necessary momentum to launch their line under the French name.
And who wouldn't buy French lingerie? I mean, really.
But with all the corporate pressure and scrutiny, Russell's methods were being examined, and his stress was definitely trickling down to me. I was tired, I was strung out from working seventy hours per week, and I was stuck in a time-wasting meeting when I had my first encounter with the Viking.
I was trying to stay awake in the dim room during a PowerPoint presentation when I heard the door snick open. Portia continued droning on about profit margins while everyone else in the room started whispering. But it was one word that broke through my drowsy fog.
Intrigued, I looked toward the door just in time to see him sit at the end of the conference table. The low light wasn't enough to dim his magnetism, and I was caught immediately in his spell.
The rest of the meeting passed in a daze, with my only focus being the man at the other end of the table. It was difficult to maintain a façade of interest when I had to turn away from the presentation to catch glimpses of Eric. I must have flipped my hair twenty times, and I am not a hair-flipper. Thank God I had worn it down around my shoulders that day. I was grateful for the excuse.
When the meeting concluded, I took my time gathering my notebook and pen, lingering to watch him, to study the way he stood and greeted his colleagues, shaking hands and smiling. They orbited around him as if he were the sun. I couldn't blame them, as I was feeling his gravitational pull myself.
"Sookie!" Russell's voice made me snap to attention, and I quickly stood to face him.
"Evidently, we have some organizational changes in the works, of which someone neglected to inform me." He glared at me as if I held the key to the information. I was lower on the organizational chart than Russell – why on earth would I have heard about something if he hadn't? I managed to shrug my shoulders and look confused, and that appeased him somewhat.
"There are going to be some management changes, and they have something to do with Eric Northman over there." Russell nodded at the Viking, giving me an opportunity to look at him again. "I don't know what's going to happen to our department, but I'm not happy about it. Especially if the Viking is involved."
All I could do was nod. I wasn't sure what would happen to our department either, but I was confident in my own skills, and I wasn't that high on the totem pole, so I wasn't too worried. And if something happened to Russell…well, it might not be nice to think, but I wouldn't be so upset. The man was a pain in my ass.
"I'd better take you to meet him," Russell muttered under his breath, and then set out across the room. "Come on."
My heart jumped into my chest. Meet him? I'd like to jump him! But, since this was likely as close as I would ever get, I figured I'd better make the most of it. My heart pounded harder the closer we got. Russell and I waited as the throng around Eric started to thin, allowing me to stare a little longer. And then suddenly, his eyes caught mine. I think my heart stopped. I know I quit breathing. I felt like he saw my soul, his gaze was so intense.
"Russell," he called out, still looking at me. Russell rushed forward, pulling me with him.
"Eric," he said, in his tinny-sounding voice. Eric broke eye contact with me to look at Russell. "So good to see you."
I almost winced. Russell sounded so insincere; I wondered if Eric could hear it. When I saw the sudden coldness in his eyes, I could tell he had.
They talked for a moment, and the low sound of his voice sent shivers through me.
Finally, Eric made a motion toward me, and Russell took the hint.
"Oh, this is my assistant, Sookie Stackhouse."
"Actually, I'm a buyer," I managed to assert, even though I knew I would suffer retribution from Russell later. A smart person did not contradict him in public – especially to someone so powerful. But I couldn't allow Eric to know anything about me that would be false or incorrect. I had a feeling I would suffer worse at his hands than Russell's if I allowed even the tiniest falsehood.
Eric held out a large hand, and I felt my hand move automatically into his. A jolt shot through me, straight to the heat between my legs. I think I would have melted to the floor if it weren't for the intensity in his eyes, pinning me in place.
"A pleasure, Mrs. Stackhouse," he said smoothly, but my attention focused on the way his mouth shaped the word "pleasure."
"Miss," I said automatically. "It's Miss Stackhouse. But please, call me Sookie."
"Sookie," he smiled. We were still holding hands. I didn't want to let go. I don't know if Eric knew my reluctance, but he kept my hand in his and shifted to my right side. "Walk with me." He placed his left hand on the small of my back and guided me out the conference room door, Russell trailing behind us.
Out in the hallway, he let go of my hand, but kept his at the small of my back, leading me where he wanted me to go. "How long have you been a buyer for Sophie Ann's, Sookie?"
"Um…" I struggled to concentrate on walking in a straight path. My whole body yearned to lean into his. "Three months or so. I was previously a buyer for Macy's."
"Hmm, yes," he murmured. "I had heard that about you. Sounds like you have a wealth of experience to offer us."
I looked up at him - way up – I think my head was about level with his shoulder. To me, his comment sounded rife with innuendo, but as sex-charged as I was at the moment, I just couldn't trust my own perception. Shockingly, I managed to respond. "I'm ready, and willing, to do whatever is required."
Holy shit, did I just say that?
Eric's eyes seemed to burn brighter before he stopped walking and slowly slid his hand away from my back. "I look forward to working with you, Sookie." He flashed a mouth-watering smile and walked away.
Did I just flirt with the Viking? Did he just flirt back? I had never heard of him doing that – not in all the gossip floating around.
Russell broke me from my shocked reverie. "What the hell, Sookie. Are you fucking him?"
"What?" How inappropriate and, unfortunately, untrue.
Russell got in my face. "Listen, you little bitch. I'm not going to let you screw your way into my job."
"I don't want your job," I told him. It was true. "And I don't want Eric Northman." Totally false. Huge lie.
Russell scoffed. "Just stay out of my way, or I'll have you scraping shit off my Italian loafers."
"I thought I already did that," I muttered as he turned and stalked away. I was so over Russell and his tantrums. If the company had plans to replace him, I wasn't going to cry over it.
I trudged off to my cubical, fantasies of Eric Northman on my mind.
A/N - Thank you for reading! And if you've come here after reading my other story, Hot Blooded, then I thank you for another opportunity to entertain. I hope you enjoy!