A/N: This is my very first try at writing fan fiction so any feedback would be appreciated. No beta. All mistakes are my own. Story entirely from Eric's POV.
The characters belong to Charlaine Harris. I'm just borrowing them for a little while.
Chapter One - What is a Sookie?
"She's watchin' us again," Jason pointed out a little more loudly than appropriate, dutifully lifting his bottle of beer in the air, waving it back and forth in salutation to the nosy woman a yard over. She had emptied the contents of a watering can on one bush, drowning it, as she stared blatantly in our direction. "Hey there, Mrs. Fortenberry," he called out, louder still. "We ain't botherin' you none, are we?"
We all knew what her reaction would be, but that didn't stop any of us from turning our heads to observe in the Saturday afternoon ritual. The paunchy woman draped in an obnoxiously loud floral printed muumuu huffed, her cheeks reddened not from the sun but for being caught in her favorite past time of ogling. Before another word could be offered in her direction, she ducked back into her house, probably waddling as fast as her short legs could carry her to the phone to start bragging to her friends about all the flirting she was doing with men half her age. We were laughing before the screen door slammed shut behind her.
"You're gonna give her a heart attack one of these days, Jase," Tray chuckled from his spot at the grill, turning back to watch the meat now that our interruption was gone. "And in preparation of that day, I'd like to vote now that you be the one to give her CPR."
"Second that," Alcide called before bringing his arm back and throwing the spiral I had been anticipating since before Mrs. Fortenberry's spying.
Jason's pleading eyes immediately went to me as the football connected with my waiting hands. "Eric," he began, the desperation in his voice obvious already. "We can overthrow them, you know we can. "Think about it, man. You can pick your victim. You'll get my vote and the other asshole will jump ship just so it's not them. We can do this."
I smirked, rotating the football between my fingers before throwing it back to Alcide. "Third."
"Fuck you, too!" Jason roared, his arms crossing in front of his chest like a petulant child as his body sunk back into the old lawn chair he was lounging on. We barely heard it over our laughing.
"No getting out of it now," Tray pointed out as he flipped the burgers yet again. "It's binding."
An audible huff of air came from Jason, but no word of protest escaped. He knew better than that. A vote between brothers was binding, and that's what we were to one another.
It hadn't always been that way. Not even close. When I had moved to Louisiana five years ago, I had been alone and miserable. Did anyone move to northern Louisiana willingly? On purpose? I didn't think they did. I certainly hadn't.
My father had been mostly absent for the majority of my life. I can vaguely recall his presence in my early childhood, though if it weren't for a few discolored photographs that proved he had been there, I would have thought those memories were only dreams. I was still a toddler when he ran off with his secretary, leaving my mother and I in Minneapolis without so much as a forwarding address.
When it came time for their divorce, I wasn't an area of contention between them. Property, money, stock, assets, possessions… those had been analyzed with a fine tooth comb and argued over until everything was final, but I was an afterthought. My newly single father didn't need a young, impressionable child cramping his style even a few weeks out of the year. His form of parenting was delivered in monthly checks.
And that didn't bother me.
It bothered my mother though. I spent a good portion of my early years being shuffled from child psychologist to child psychologist, each trying to pull out the issues I was holding back from the one I had visited before them. I had been in my early teens when I considered inventing some kind of issue, if only to reassure my mother I wasn't repressing something damning.
The truth was, I just didn't care. It wasn't like I needed him anymore than he needed me. My mother had remarried and my step-father had been father figure enough for me. I never was wanting for affection, guidance, or a good lecture when needed. I had friends, a healthy home, and even a half-sister when Pam came into the world. What could a man who willingly became a stranger really have to offer me?
Pragmatic was how my final psychologist, Dr. Ludwig, had described me when I let her in on my thoughts. With her reassurance, I was able to quit the unnecessary therapy and focus on the things that were important to me, like sports and girls.
It was sports that got me into college. By the time I was a sophomore in high school, I was taller than most of my teachers and dwarfing all my peers. I hadn't met a sport I didn't like. Homework and I may not have gotten along well, but when you can bring your school a trophy to put in their pretty display cases, teachers tend to look the other way. It was no surprise to anyone when I was recruited by a fair share of universities, but it sure wasn't for my academics.
Girls are what got me through college… and what girls they were. Blondes, brunettes, redheads, I enjoyed them all, sometimes at the same time. I wrinkled more bed sheets than should have been allowed without a second thought. Eventually, the inane chatter I was forced to endure from the ladies I escorted into my room for one night at a time started to sink into my head. All girls seemed to want the same thing: money.
Sure, they didn't say it quite like that. Well, not all of them said it quite like that, but it certainly seemed to be a running theme. Each inquired what my major was, what I planned on doing after college, questions most would consider normal given the setting. I was never honest. The truth was, I didn't have a plan. I wanted to play sports and get laid. Did I really need more than that?
So I lied and said whatever popped into my head at the moment. Words like "doctor" and "lawyer" seemed to make a hot girl's eyes sparkle and panties drop in a way "waiter" and "bartender" never quite managed.
I got the hint.
In between rolls in the hay, I focused on my future. I knew the likelihood of playing football or basketball professionally was nearly nonexistent and I wasn't going to accept a lull in willing bedmates for it. For the first time in years, I thought about the man who contributed half of my DNA, and just like that, I decided to follow in his footsteps.
Business. If a dead beat like him could do it, why couldn't I?
My course schedule switched from classes with no rhyme or reason to courses that focused on my new goal, and I almost resented the fact that it seemed to come so naturally to me. Why fight a good thing though? Girls seemed to really eat up the idea of a guy in a suit.
Well, as much as they could fit in their mouth, at least.
I hadn't been graduated for a month when the unexpected call had come. With all the applications I had out there, I didn't think anything of the unfamiliar number showing up on my caller ID. I had hoped the call would change my life. I just hadn't expected it to be him.
He was "proud" of me. I didn't think he was entitled to use that word when he didn't even know me and told him as much. He had laughed before offering me a job at his company… one I didn't deserve at a salary I hadn't earned. The longer I stayed silent on the line, the more perks he threw in until we both knew I'd be a moron to turn it down.
I'm no moron.
My mother hadn't approved, but it wasn't up to her, nor was it about her. It wasn't about him either. It was about me. A small part of me was curious about the man who had fathered me, sure, but this was my life and my future. I didn't want to leave the rush of The Twin Cities for the rednecks of the Deep South, but the opportunity I was being handed for whatever reason was mine for the taking.
So I took it.
I regretted it immediately. I knew no one, not even the man who had strolled me through the halls of Northman & Davis like a prized poodle he had failed to mention until after the ribbon had already been pinned to my collar.
The first year was pretty awful, admittedly mostly by my own doing. I slept my way through a few of the summer interns and temps the company employed, but I didn't make any attempts at socializing or learning the area beyond the restaurants we hosted business dinners at or the country club. I couldn't imagine visiting a bar when I was sure my pickup line would end up having to be "there's no one with a shotgun looking for you tonight, right?"
Fate intervened in the manner of a nail to my front tire. In my own driveway.
I hadn't paid any attention to the crew working on the renovations to the house my father had practically given me at the price I paid him for it until the blow out, and then it was only to blow up at them. My Corvette was my baby and I was unashamed to admit it. No one fucks with my baby.
Alcide had stood there calmly while I had unleashed enough profanity to make a sailor stand up and take notice.
"You 'bout done there?" he had asked when I had turned away from him for a moment. Turning away was the only thing that kept me from doing something really mature in the moment, like kicking him in the shin. I nodded mutely, lips pursed to keep me from starting round two. "Good. You home for the night?"
Once more, I nodded, lips pursed. He didn't seem to grasp just how close I was to punching him in his scruffy face.
"Good. Then here's what we're gonna do. I'm going to call in my friend, Tray. He's the best mechanic in northern Louisiana. He's gonna replace that tire and then he's goin' to make sure the car didn't get damaged in any way when the tire blew. There's no one better with a car, and he's going to drool over checkin' that one out, let me tell you. He's goin' to think I'm doin' him the favor and you and me are goin' to laugh at that while havin' us a beer."
I nodded again, hesitant to open my mouth when I didn't know what would come spilling out. An hour later, Tray's truck was pulling into my drive, Jason riding in the passenger seat. Jason, Alcide, and I sat on the front steps drinking more than our fair share as Tray cooed over my car like it was a Playboy centerfold actually giving him the time of day.
Conversation was easy and light and exactly what I had been missing since leaving a frat house. Alcide and Jason gave me shit over my baby putting out for Tray, I gave Jason and Tray shit for being from a town I hadn't heard of after living a year in Louisiana, Tray gave Jason shit for the beer goggles he must have been sporting a few nights earlier when he left a bar with a grotesque girl, and everyone gave Alcide shit over the God honest starry eyes he got over a girl he had just started seeing named Maria-Star. We talked about sports, brands of beer, music, and anything "pressing" that popped into Jason's head at random.
I was actually disappointed when Tray was through putting his filthy paws all over my car. The night with three blue collar guys had officially been better than any "sure thing" first date with a perfect 10 girl I had ever been on.
Jason invited me to the no-name town he was from that Saturday to join them for a ritual cookout the next day and I had made the journey to Bon Temps every Saturday since… and then some.
The guys became the one thing that made my relocation to Louisiana feel less like a burden. Once I had escaped the seclusion of my house and office and exchanged the stifling expensive suits and neckties for t-shirts and jeans, I relaxed and even found I enjoyed myself. Alcide, Tray, and Jason became my dysfunctional family. We had been there when Tray's wife walked out on him with all their savings out of the blue to "find herself." We had been there when Alcide walked down the aisle with Maria-Star. We had been there to pick Jason up from a night in the drunk tank and to run interference for him when many a pissed off boyfriend came looking for him. And they had been there, at my side, when I went home for my mother's funeral after she lost a brief, but unbeatable battle with cancer.
The guys were the reason I hadn't gone with my father when he decided to move our company's headquarters to Dallas. Alcide, Jason, and Tray had become more my family than he had ever been. No number of perks could make me give up family again. I was prepared to work for Alcide's construction company, or in Tray's garage, or even on the road crew with Jason. Money wasn't everything. The inheritance I had received after my mom's passing sure as hell didn't make up for the loss. I wouldn't be bought again.
In the end, he decided to leave the Shreveport office open and in my hands. Apparently, the only thing better than parading me around seemed to be bragging about how much I was doing at such a young age "on my own."
I was just grateful I wasn't really on my own at all.
"Sometimes ya'll make me regret that this is the closest to a committed relationship I've ever been in," Jason huffed from the lawn chair, cooling his forehead with his sweaty beer bottle. "If I wanted to take shit I don't deserve during my free time, I'd actually date the chicks I bring home."
"Liar. That'd require remembering their names instead of just their bra sizes."
"Like you're one to talk, Northman!" he shot back quickly, only to be met with a shrug of my shoulders.
"Damn straight," I confirmed with a smirk. What can I say? I'm a man who appreciates the twins. Blowing an imaginary kiss to the wounded Jason, he caught the invisible affection out of the air, planted it on his cheek, then shot me the bird.
"Tease," I scolded as Alcide laughed. Jason winked before gripping the collar of his thin t-shirt and pulled it down to show off a sampling of his goods.
"Anyone want refills better get 'em now," Tray called from the grill, thankfully interrupting us before Jason had the opportunity to lure Mrs. Fortenberry back out of her house for flashing his man cleavage. "Food's ready."
Dropping the football to the ground, Alcide claimed his seat on the deck while I passed the tables and headed into Jason's house to a chorus of "grab me one while you're at it" coming from my counterparts. "Lazy bastards. One of you make my burger and no spitting in it," I called back before throwing open the familiar fridge and momentarily basking in the chill that greeted me.
I was reluctant to pull the bottles from the fridge. Summers in Louisiana were serious business. According to Tray, I still had enough Yankee in my blood to leave me still acclimating to the heat that lasted most of the year. As soon as my fingers wrapped around the necks of the bottles, my mental whining was interrupted by a knock from the front door.
"Get that!" Jason's voice called through the open back door. I could hear he had already started on his lunch. He could be really lazy when he wanted to be. Abandoning the bottles on the counter, I grumbled on my way to the door. No one ever knocked, not in this town, not at Jason's house anyway. I had met half the town when they had walked in like roommates I just hadn't met yet. Jason had lived all his life in the same house, in the same small town. There didn't seem to be any boundaries.
Throwing open the front door, I hadn't even gotten a look at the visitor before their arms were around me and I was locked in the tight embrace of a very small woman. I had no idea who she was, but that didn't stop me from letting out an audible groan when she pressed against me in a way that could only be described as delicious. My skin burned where her bare arms had brushed against it.
She seemed to realize her mistake and jumped back with an "Oh!" as a deep blush rose to her cheeks. It made my dick twitch.
"You're not Jason." Her voice was sweet and I was drunk on it.
I wondered what tipped her off. Maybe it was the fact that I was half a foot taller and made of more muscle. Jason didn't have a whole lot of rocket scientists stopping by, however, so her keen sense of observation didn't come as much of a shock. "Not even close," I agreed, taking a moment to look the girl over with an appraising eye. She was heaven. Her light blonde hair was pulled back into a messy ponytail that looked effortless without looking lazy. I wanted to pull it out and run my fingers through her hair. Her blue eyes, widened by her mistake, seemed to sparkle in the early afternoon sun. Her face was fresh and clean and beautiful and I immediately wanted to study it at length with my lips and tongue.
My eyes continued their thorough examination, slipping from her face down to her slender neck that was just begging to be bitten, a thought that made my jeans feel even tighter than they had. The white sundress she wore showed off her impressive tan and dipped low enough to tease me with just a taste of the ample treasures that laid just beneath the taut fabric. I wanted to bury my face in her chest. I wouldn't come up for air for hours.
The skirt of her dress flared away from her slender frame at her full hips. My mind was immediately assaulted by images of me bending her over and gripping her by those hips before pounding into her until collapsing on top of her, spent and sated. From the glimpse of bare, shapely legs my eyes caught before she cleared her throat to draw my attention back to her face made me confident I wouldn't be disappointed when her clothes were doing nothing more than cluttering my bedroom floor.
I knew I had been caught staring, but when my eyes met hers, there wasn't a hint of embarrassment on my face. Instead, I smirked at her and she rolled her eyes at me with a huff.
"Can I help you?" I asked, confident already I could. Was this one of Jason's hump and dumps? That bastard didn't deserve to be so goddamn lucky.
"I'm looking for Jason Stackhouse," she sighed, annoyance obvious as she crossed her arms over her chest, no doubt attempting to further hide her breasts from my hungry eyes. Someone looking for Jason playing coy? Cute. Ironic. "Did he move?" She looked disturbed by the idea he might have.
"Maybe," I answered ambiguously, leaning against the open door frame. The last thing Jason needed was another stalker ready to pounce him every time he answered the door. I'd be willing to be a good friend to him and take this one off his hands. "If you want to leave me with your name and number, I'll pass it along if I happen to see him around, Miss…?" Offering her a smile I had been told more than once made panties dampen, a blush returned to her cheeks as she extended a hand to me. I didn't have a chance to take it- or her- before we were interrupted.
"Is this him?"
It wasn't until that moment I realized we were no longer alone on Jason's front step. The blonde bombshell in front of me had captured my attention so completely, I was blind to all else around me. Had that ever happened to me before?
The intruder came in the form of a skinny, pale man with dark hair who looked both uncomfortable and annoyed at the same time. Everything about him screamed uptight, from the pleats in his pants to the loafers that looked as if they had never been outside before to the painstakingly pressed collar of his polo shirt. He looked at me with appraising, disapproving eyes.
When he wrapped an arm around the waist of my mystery woman, the feeling became mutual.
"No, Bill," the girl answered, a newfound trembling in her voice that left me arching my eyebrow in confusion. "I know we've been out of touch until recently, but it's not like Jason to forget to tell me he moved…"
"From what I have heard of your brother, such irresponsible behavior isn't truly a surprise," the man interrupted.
Whoa. Shit. Hold the phone.
"Brother?" I echoed back, deciding to process that first, even though I was annoyed the asshole next to the beauty was judging Jason without knowing him at all. "Sookie?"
The girl looked back at me, eyes widening slightly as she nodded, clearly having no idea who I was. Jason had talked about his little sister on and off for as long as I had known him, but conversation recently had increased tenfold when he had learned she was moving back to Louisiana after finishing school in Washington. I had never met her, I had never seen a picture of her that wasn't from over a decade ago, and he had failed to mention she had grown into a fucking hottie.
He had, however, mentioned she had a fiancé he had never met. That must be the Bill prick. I had to try not to growl at him.
"Jason! Your sister is here!"
Jason wasn't a big guy, not compared to Alcide, Tray, and myself anyway, but he could've been confused for a herd of elephants the way he thundered through his house from the back yard. I jumped out of the way just in time for him to sweep Sookie into his arms for a hug. That was my cue to make myself scarce.
Returning to Jason's kitchen, I didn't listen in on the reunion only a few yards away and focused instead intently on willing my hardon away with the chill the icebox offered.
What the hell was wrong with me? I didn't have this kind of reaction to a woman under normal circumstances. It wasn't like my motor revved for every pretty face I came across. I wasn't some creep leering down anything with a set of tits until they felt awkward under my stare. I didn't sport wood before introductions were made and words like "fiancé" and "Stackhouse" tended to be instant erection killers for me.
Maybe I just really needed to get laid. The attraction I had felt to Sookie at first sight had to be my little head's way of informing my big one it had been a long few weeks and nothing more. I had probably envisioned those fantastic curves, that enticing blush, and the sparks I had felt surge through my whole body when she had much-too-briefly pressed against me in greeting. That had to be it.
"Drinks?" I called toward the front door while plucking the four bottles from the counter and exchanging them for four slightly colder ones to explain my presence in front of it.
It was just my luck Sookie came bouncing into the kitchen looking just as good in the dim light as she had when practically glowing in the sunshine. Dammit. So it wasn't my imagination. "I'll have whatever you're having. Thank you, uh…" she trailed off, a blush once more creeping onto her cheeks. "I don't know your name."
"Eric," I answered, grabbing another beer from the fridge and offering it to her with a smirk. "I didn't have you pegged as a long neck kind of girl. You seemed more like someone who'd sympathize with a stubby." I couldn't help it if my eyes moved from her own over to where Jason was interrogating Bill on his intentions with his sister. Her own eyes rolled, but she couldn't stop a small flirtatious smile from crossing her pink lips. They looked so soft…
Shit. Keep it together, Northman.
"Anything else you want to know about me, Sookie?" The way her name sounded on my lips felt good. I bet she'd taste good on my lips as well.
"Jason's mentioned you before," she thought aloud as she twisted the top off of it and took a drink. A girl who could appreciate a good beer… my dick twitched again. "You aren't what I was expecting. Do you live here with him?"
I needed to grill Jason on what he had said about me. But subtly. This was his sister. His engaged sister. And who was I kidding? I could probably beat the information out of Jason with a baseball bat and he wouldn't figure out why I was curious. His dimwittedness could come in very handy for more than just a good laugh for once. It wouldn't do anything to remedy that little "engaged" problem though. "Nah, I just feel like I do sometimes. I live in…"
"I wish you wouldn't drink alcohol like that, darling. It's unbecoming of a lady," the one called Bill interrupted, his voice scolding. What was with this guy and interrupting? And did he think she was a child? A part of me wanted to kick his ass. The other part of me wanted to laugh at how easy it would be to kick his ass. He looked me over dismissively yet again as I handed two of the beers over to Jason. "I will have a water with lemon."
"I bet you will. Let me know how it turns out for you," I answered back, walking past him with the two beers and out to the back porch, plopping unceremoniously into the waiting lawn chair between my friends and handing the spare beer over to Alcide.
"Hey, I made your damn burger," Tray grumbled while Alcide mocked him. Before he could take a drink of it though, I swiped it from his hands and handed it over to Tray, leaving Alcide pouting now. Sometimes I felt like a kindergarten teacher.
"So Sookie's here?" Tray asked just before the door opened and Jason led Sookie and Bill out onto the deck. The men flanking me jumped up, Tray to offer a hug to the untouchable girl who would soon be starring in a few of my private fantasies while Alcide ran to grab his beer from Jason before he lost yet another one.
"Long time, no see, chere," Tray chirped while hugging a clearly happy Sookie, her feet leaving the ground while he spun her around. Bill scowled at them both over her shoulder and I concealed my amusement by focusing on my burger. "Seattle treat you good?"
The blonde angel blushed beautifully when returned to her own two feet and I covered up a groan by pretending to really, really be enjoying my burger. Did anyone blush anymore? This woman was going to kill me. If she could kill me while naked, I wouldn't even mind meeting death.
"It's where I found Bill," she answered, indicating the grumpy man who stood behind her, as if he was some kind of gift. I may have snorted. Alcide shot me a knowing look. "Tray, I'd like you to meet my fiancé, Bill Compton. Bill, this is Tray Dawson. He was like another brother when I was growing up."
The man seemed to relax slightly at that news before extending his hand stiffly to Tray. Jason took that as his cue to continue his introductions. "You met Eric at the door and that's Alcide beside him." Alcide extended a hand first to Sookie and then to Bill while I settled on nodding. "Why don't ya'll sit down and join us? We can't put all this food away." He was lying, of course. The four of us could put away a grocery store.
Bill frowned, looking uncomfortable. "I don't think…"
"We'd love to. Thank you," Sookie interrupted, smiling brightly. Unlike her fiancé talking over others, I found her interruption perfect.
"I didn't think you were supposed to be in until tomorrow," Tray stated as he sunk back into the chair beside me. "Told Jase I'd help unload boxes from the truck if you needed it."
Spending a Sunday unloading boxes from a truck had never sounded more appealing. "No, that's quite alright," Bill answered. "Our movers are taking care of that."
Ignoring him, Sookie smiled while putting together a burger, piling chips and potato salad around it. It was nice to see a girl with an appetite. I could think of a few things to feed her if the audience was a little smaller… "I was able to get a job interview on Monday morning." There was a pride that radiated from her at the words. "I want to get a full night sleep before going in and that never would happen if we didn't get in until tomorrow. Bill doesn't start work until Wednesday. He's in computers," she added politely, probably trying to give us something to talk to him about.
But who from Seattle wasn't? His pale skin and discomfort in the sun sure made sense now. We weren't exactly a crowd that got off on gigabytes though. Bill didn't seem impressed or pleased with Sookie's polite description and efforts. "I'm a software developer and security expert. I'll be working in management for LeClerq."
It was a good thing I had developed one killer poker face after hours spent in a board room or I probably would have choked on the beer I was swallowing down at that moment. Sophie-Anne LeClerq was in the process of streamlining her firm before she sold it off for the best price she could get. It had been a rough couple years and the company she had built was starting to be the noose around her neck. She had been in denial about it, putting more borrowed money into a floundering business until the profits dropped to devastating levels. She wasn't a good "bad guy" though, and bankruptcy would leave a small army unemployed. She had been steadily hiring people who's job would end up being firing others. They'd soon be left doing the job of a dozen people each while she sold the business behind closed doors. They'd get their walking papers shortly after that.
How did I know she was doing this? Easy. Northman & Davis was buying it. Maybe I wouldn't sell it off piece by piece immediately after the purchase was finalized as planned. I could enjoy being this prick's boss for a while.
At that thought, I may have smiled a little smugly behind my bottle of beer.
Small talk continued, but I didn't hear any of it. I found myself watching Sookie so intently, I wondered if she had hypnotized me. She made tiny noises when she ate. It was like foreplay. It regularly had me rearranging the way I sat while thanking God for the paper plate I held to help hide a rapidly uncomfortable situation.
Occasionally, our eyes would meet and she'd offer a polite smile, as if she hadn't just caught me staring. In those moments, there was one thought echoing through my mind over and over again: I was so fucked.
Before I could dwell on it anymore than I had, my thoughts and the small talk surrounding them were stalled when Alcide got a phone call from Maria-Star, effectively ending our weekly play date. I stood to take my leave with him as he said his goodbyes to Sookie and Bill.
"Are you leaving too?" Sookie asked, her eyes on mine, effectively shocking me for a moment. I hadn't said a word (aloud) to her since the kitchen. Mentally, I had said a whole lot that wouldn't have left her so polite now.
"Alcide's my ride. We both live in Shreveport. It doesn't make sense for us to drive separately."
A small frown fell on her lips, though it was replaced quickly with a smile. Was that disappointment? Because I was leaving? Did it even matter if it was? Did I imagine the frown? Fuck, I wasn't this over analyzing guy. It was desperate and that's something I'm not. This girl wasn't even on the market. I needed to get my head on straight. "Well, it was nice to meet you, Eric."
Ugh. My name on her lips. It was like a drug, shooting straight from my ears through every vein in my body, pulsating through me, reverberating within me until I was high. I craved to hear it again. I craved to hear it moaned. I was undone. I couldn't stop myself now. "The pleasure was mine. We'll see one another again, Sookie."
It wasn't a question, though it should have been.
I'd have to do everything within my power to make sure "again" never happened.
We had been on the road for twenty long, silent minutes with only the crappy country music Alcide listened to hanging in the air when he broke the silence. "You want to tell me what that was about?"
I continued staring out the window, studying the unending trees that ran along the side of the road as if I was trying to commit each to memory to recall upon at a later date. I knew he wouldn't talk again until I answered, no matter how badly he may have wanted to. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"I'm talkin' about the way you were eyefucking Jason's sister. Do you need a cigarette after action that intense? I sure as hell need one and I was just watchin' second hand."
Damn him. I didn't want to have this conversation, but he got me to smile. "She was hot," I finally answered with a shrug, slumping back into the seat and chancing a glance at him. "From the way he talked about her… I wasn't expecting someone like that to be his 'awkward baby sister.' Fuck," I mumbled, running my fingers through my hair in frustration. I needed a trim soon. "Do you think Jason noticed?"
He snorted. "First off, it's Jason, but he couldn't care even if he did notice. Do I gotta remind you about him and Janice?" I had to admit, he had a point there. Alcide's younger sister was one of Jason's favorite "friends." Alcide hadn't been happy about it, but in the end, Jason had won him over by insisting he'd rather have his own sister with someone he knew and trusted than with a stranger that might take advantage. Alcide had to agree. "But that girl has a ring on her finger."
"I know, I know." And trust me, I did. I had looked at the thing repeatedly while studying Sookie over lunch. It was a pretty serious rock, but it didn't look right on her finger. I wondered what she thought of it or if it was something she chose for herself. "That guy is a tool."
"Bill," he corrected.
"Bill is a tool."
"He may be a tool, but he's goin' to marry her." I tried not to roll my eyes, but failed, and he caught me. "She said yes all on her own. You have to respect that, man." Alcide was so in love, it was disgusting. Once he had gotten married, he developed all these strong feelings about the sanctity of marriage and respecting relationships and other shit that had never seemed to matter to him before. It got even worse when the two of them had decided to work on starting a family. He couldn't stand the idea of any guy stealing the love of his life away. With three good-looking, single guys as best friends, he did a lot of preaching on it to his own private congregation of repeat sinners.
"I'm not interested in her, Alcide," I concluded, convincing myself it was the truth as I turned to stare sightlessly out the window again. "I don't plan on seeing her again. It was a sausage fest that suddenly got a dose of estrogen. Forgive me for staring at the only thing around with a rack."
"We could always invite Maxine over next week…"
"I said rack, not the whole bookshelf," I shuddered, and thankfully, he dropped it with that.
As soon as I got home and had made a quick change of my clothes, I went to the one room in my house that would help me work through this newfound frustration: my home gym. Earbuds in and iPod on, I had to figure this shit out.
I couldn't remember ever being so immediately struck by a girl. Fantasizing about a virtual stranger with a nice body naked and writhing beneath me was nothing out of the ordinary for me. Find me a guy who hasn't had the same thoughts and I'll show you a liar. None of that was worth a second thought.
No, it was the little things about the encounter and about Sookie herself that left me thoughtful. It was the way I believed her demure blush was genuine and not some tactic to tempt. It was her polite, sweet nature, which seemed to be a rarity among the young and attractive. It was the way she had gotten under my skin and affected me instantaneously. She didn't have to tease, flirt, and flatter. It had been effortless, and because she belonged to that stiff in a polo shirt, probably unintentional.
How in the hell was she related to Jason Stackhouse of all people?
I wondered if Jason had intentionally kept her away from Louisiana after I moved here, but I knew that was ridiculous. He often mentioned his sister had ran without looking back after their grandmother had died, choosing to use her portion of their meager inheritance to go to school as far away from home as possible. He had been surprised when she had called telling him she was not only moving back. He had been more surprised when she had admitted it would be with the man she was going to marry. According to Jason, Sookie had never been one to attract male attention.
There was no way he could have known my skin would still burn hours after she touched it…
I felt a little robbed.
Selective amnesia was what I needed, because I wanted that girl out of my head immediately. It wasn't fair that I would be stricken by this girl and she could go on about with her happy little life. If Sookie and the prick set to marry her would have shown up a day later like planned, I'd be blissfully ignorant of her, possibly forever. Jason wasn't the kind of guy who would want a little sister checking in on him often and his lifestyle didn't really allow for it anyway.
I decided then and there I wouldn't think of Sookie Stackhouse ever again.
Unfortunately, my dreams didn't get the message.
My dreams were vivid, graphic, and painful to wake up from. Saturday night's were bad, but paled in comparison to Sunday night's. When I was awoken Monday morning by my cellphone, I was hard enough to cut diamonds. Big diamonds.
Half awake, half asleep, and trying to ignore the tenting of my bed sheets as I groped my nightstand for my phone, I yawned upon answering it. "Sookie?"
There was a beat of silence on the other end of the line before laughter erupted, waking me the rest of the way up and causing me to groan. "What did you call me?"
Ugh. Of all the people… "Never mind, Pam. What do you want? You woke me up and it's too early for your bullshit."
"Good morning to you too, big brother," she chirped, much too energetic for the hour. I wasn't fooled. She must not have slept yet, because she was even less of a morning person than I was. "Shouldn't you be up and about already? I thought you were finding a new assistant today. You know, you hire one person and console all those under 30 in your own special way?"
I groaned again. Ever since Pam had spent a year in Europe following high school in order to "see and experience the world for inspiration," she had been much too comfortable discussing our sex lives. No matter her attempts, she'd never be one of the guys.
Even if this time she was dead on with my plan.
"Not discussing it with you," I mumbled while getting out of bed and crossing the room to my closet to dress for the day. "Why are you calling?"
"What is a Sookie?"
"I'm hanging up now."
She cackled. I growled. "I'm coming to visit," she continued once she composed herself enough to get the words out. "I'm going to stay with you."
"How generous of you to offer my home to yourself at your convenience."
"Would you want me staying elsewhere?" She didn't wait more than a second before continuing for me. "I didn't think so. You can show me around and we can spend some time together. I haven't seen you since…"
Her voice trailed off. Neither one of us liked mentioning the funeral. Neither of us wanted to be reminded our mother was gone. "I know. When will you get here?"
"In a few days, probably. I wanted to clear it with you before booking my flight." Pam wasn't big on well thought out plans, the exact opposite of me. "Is something bothering you, Eric?"
"Nothing," I lied with ease. That wouldn't stop her from seeing right through it even if it would have convinced anyone else though. "I need to brush my teeth and get on the road, Pam. Call and let me know when you've booked your flight. I'll pick you up from the airport."
"If you're sure, Eric." The skepticism in her voice let me know she wasn't convinced, but she wasn't going to press it, not when she could do it in person later. "Love you."
"You too, Pam," I offered before ending the call. Why was it suddenly raining little sisters?
I had successfully pushed it to the back of my mind as I headed into the office building and gave my standard, silent nod of greeting to the security at the door who greeted me with the same feigned enthusiasm they did daily. I was not looking forward to the day ahead of me. Replacing Octavia was going to be a hassle, especially when I didn't want to do it in the first place. When I had envisioned the ideal assistant, my mind hadn't imagined anything close to the gray-haired and wrinkled aging lady I had been given, but she had been just perfect. She was efficient, productive, loyal, and never a distraction to me or any of my colleagues. I had been disappointed when she decided to retire, even with her promise to stay on until I had replaced her hanging in the air.
I had intentionally dragged my feet in finding someone new, always finding or inventing fault with the steady stream of applicants, until I actually felt guilty about taking advantage of Octavia's generosity. I let her leave two weeks ago and had been sharing Sam Merlotte's assistant, Amelia, since then. There was nothing really wrong with her despite her tendency to be flighty, but she was no Octavia… and I didn't share well with others.
Stepping off the elevator after it reached my floor, I walked past the line of antsy and nervous waiting people without a glance in their direction, as if it wasn't uncommon for the waiting room to be so full on a Monday morning. "Good morning, Mr. Northman," Amelia bubbled enthusiastically from the front desk, her words earning some hushed whispers from the waiting applicants behind me.
"Good morning, Amelia," I echoed without pause as she jumped up from her seat to follow me into my office with my messages and coffee as I took the seat behind my desk. "Think I'll get lucky today?" I asked with a tilt of my head toward the reception area, trusting she had kept her ears open to the crowd.
"You're a Northman. You make your own luck," she answered with a grin that I returned. I liked her. I just had to remind myself of that while choking down a drink of what was definitely not my coffee. Sam must have gotten mine… again.
Trying not to grimace, I nodded to her. "Send the first one in," I instructed, quickly swiveling in my chair so neither she nor the applicant would see me scraping my tongue down with a tissue before popping a pair of Altoids. That stuff tasted like shit.
The door to my office was closed and a throat cleared nervously behind me. I tensed. "Mr. Northman? Thank you for seeing me this morning. I'm…"
By then, I had swiveled around once more. It was finally my turn to interrupt. "Sookie Stackhouse."
I was so fucked.
A/N: Chapter two and half of three are written but if I have enough courage to post them are up to you. Please review.