Southerners can never resist a losing cause.

Margaret Mitchell (1900–1949)

I stood there, looking at myself in the mirror, the beautiful full length white mirror that stood in rectory of my church. I stood there in my white dress, just a white dress and not the first white dress I'd ever worn in my lifetime so far, but this one, this one meant so much more than the others. This one meant I was going to get married. I stood in the church as everyone primped and fixed and fussed over me, because I was the bride, and that's what people did, they made a fuss. I was used to that though, the fuss being made over how I looked, for a long time it's all people ever did, fix and pull, straighten and push. I had to look pretty, I had to be beautiful, I had to be perfect - for them. My mother started putting me in Bonnie Baby competitions when I was three months old, and it spun out of control from there. Town beauty pageants, state fairs, all state beauty shows, crowns, trophies, money, scholarships, it was all up for grabs, and even though my father worked and my mother came from a little bit of money - though she acted as if it was more than it was - being a pageant Queen was my job. And it was a job I learned to do extremely well. I knew what I was there for, I knew what I wanted. I wanted to win, and in order to win, I had to be the judge's idea of perfection, perfect smile, perfect teeth, posture, walk, speech. Never falter, never fail. It was a job, and it was one I hated, but I did it because it made my mom smile, and not a whole lot made my mom smile. As I stood and admired my gorgeous wedding gown that fit me to perfection, I wondered to myself if I was doing this, standing there in my perfect gown, attempting my perfect life, for me, or for them? Truth was, I didn't know who I was doing it for, or why, not really. But, it was expected of me… and I knew one thing for sure, I always met their expectations.

Two years earlier...

"Here's to Tara, my lovely, sweet, not at all dramatic, Tara!" I almost slurred, our ladies lunch had turned into a liquid one, followed by a liquid dinner, and we were now all a little wonky on our feet as we sat in the bar.

"My Tara will soon be Mrs. J.B. DuRone, and he's stealing her off to New Orleans leaving us with a very Tara shaped hole in our little circle," I said, going in for the hug. I was huggy when I was drunk, that's for sure.

My closest circle of friends consisted of the girls I'd met in pageants, each one of us a beauty Queen in our own right. Some of us met as rivals, some of us met as partners, and some of us just met as our mothers primped us to high heaven when we were eight years old. Tara and I had met as rivals, I beat her the first time, she beat me the second, we evened out after that, and then her mom allowed her to quit. Mine, well, mine didn't allow me to quit. Tara now ran two successful clothing boutiques in the city, which we all loved and took shameful advantage of our friendly discounts, too.

Which lead me to Pamela, we met as partners in one disastrous show in Texas, our mothers got friendly and we'd known each other through the circuit ever since. I was ten when I met Pam, and she really knew her own mind even way back then. She was stunning, and my most fierce competitor for all things. Even as friends she knew to push my buttons and get me riled up, she had a passion in her that I rarely saw in anyone else I knew, I loved her for it. Pam was being primed for a marriage, that she didn't want, to a guy she didn't love; it was a very long story.

Then there was Hadley. Sweet Hadley was my baby cousin, who joined the quests for crowns simply because I was doing it, whatever I did, she had to do too. A trait that hadn't lessened over the years - and since my mother and hers were sisters in law, it gave them someone to travel with at the time so it was perfect company for us both. She was a scatterbrain, our Hadley, but too lovable in her own right. Hadley, like Claudine and Sarah mostly lived off the family money, and shopped as a profession. Claudine and Sarah were half sisters, I met them during my Miss Louisiana days, they were the picture of perfection always, and they knew it -not really that hard I guess when it's basically their full time job.

As for me? Well, I wasn't one to talk really, my parents shunned the idea that I go across country to study the arts like I had wanted so desperately when I finished high school. Instead, I was to stay at home, and learn the family business and since it was expected, I of course did it. I couldn't really complain too much, I suppose, we owned and ran three very successful businesses in Louisiana, a bar in Bon Temps where my mother was from, a small but sweet hotel in New Orleans, and a bed and breakfast in Shreveport. I spent my time between all three, since my brother wasn't up to task, the responsibility fell to me to be groomed by my parents for the business world, much like it was their decision that my degree be business based and not in the arts like I had wanted. I did it, and I enjoyed my job, I loved my friends and I did love my family, from the outside looking in my life was perfect. I was, as we were, what my Gran called her Southern Belles, a ridiculous notion in this day and age perhaps, but it's what we were meant to be, or at the very least, seem to be.

Perfect.

Then why did everything still feel so wrong?

I was standing at the bar, waiting to be served, I knew the place, but tonight was busy and honestly with what I had in my system slowly wearing off, the wait probably wasn't a bad thing. That's when I met them, my boys as Pam had called them. First I met Eric.

"Hi," he said, coming out of nowhere to surprise me at my side, and for someone his size, that type of ninja behaviour can't have been easy.

"Hi…" I said back, never wanting to be rude.

"I'm Eric."

"Hi, Eric," I said, smiling before I looked back for some bar service.

"I'm not a creeper, I swear."

I laughed.

"Usually creepers don't know they're being creepy, so good for you, having that self awareness and all."

"Thanks," he beamed, clearly proud of not being a creeper. It was kind of adorable.

I nodded.

"You're not from here, are you?" I asked and he shook his head no, his accent was very …European.

"Sweden, originally, but I grew up all over, it's why my accent is so fucked up I guess."

"I guess," I smiled, it wasn't fucked up, it was actually kind of sexy, just like the rest of him.

"I'm not really good at this…"

I looked at him, yeah, that was a lie.

"Somehow I doubt that, Eric."

"No, I mean, if I was here for me, I'd be fine, you're a beautiful woman, that much is obvious, I'd have no problem telling you that."

I blushed, I tried not to, but he was hot and he was complimenting me, how could I not?

"Thanks…"

"Well it's true, I'd probably offer to buy you a drink or something else equally as lame, even though I know you can buy your own and probably had planned to before I stepped up here and started talking."

"Maybe… Wait, if you were here for yourself?" I raised a brow in his direction. "If you're not here for yourself, then who are you here for?"

He sighed.

"I'm being a good friend."

"Is that right?" I thought he was kidding, maybe this was his 'thing', either way I wanted to know.

"Yeah, see ordinarily I would have had no problem taking to you, but, see… there are rules."

I nodded.

"He saw you first," he sighed again, clearly annoyed by this fact, that he - whoever he is, saw me first.

"Oh… and?"

"Well that's the rules, so I can't have you."

That made me look at him sharply.

"Not to say that just by seeing you first would mean that I would get to have you …. Not at all, you don't seem like that at all… I just it just…" he closed his eyes. "Normally I'm better than this."

"I'd hope so… you have a good night, Eric." I went to walk away, I didn't really want to, but he was digging himself a hole that I didn't want to jump into.

"No, wait. Let me start over. You see that guy, to my left, big kind of sourly looking right now, missing a razor this last few days?"

"You really know how to sell it, Eric," I laughed and so did he.

"Well you see that guy?"

"Yes."

"He's my best friend, and normally he looks a lot more put together than he does right now. See, he's had his heart broken."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

"Me too, she wasn't even worthy of breaking his heart… anyway, that was a few months ago, and since then he won't even look at anyone else, and I've tried… believe me."

I was sure he had.

"And?"

"Oh, and well, he saw you… sadly he saw you first which just sucks for me." He smiled, he was charming, and he was really attractive which was odd to me. I never had much of a thing for blonds before. He had the height thing working for him, nice arms, sweet smile, and a naughty glint in his eye that told me as a lady, I really shouldn't be around him.

"Is that right? Well," I glanced at his friend, who also had the height thing going on, but he was like his opposite, looks wise. He was dark haired and had a beginnings of a scratchy beard whereas Eric was as blonde as I was, and clean shaven. They both were extremely attractive men in their own rights though, and it seemed every woman at the bar noticed this fact.

"I was just hoping maybe you'd talk to him, he's a really great guy and he thought you were cute…"

"And that made you come up here and what? Warm me up?" I smirked and he smiled.

"Yeah, something like that."

"Do me a favour, Eric?"

"Sure…"

"Tell your friend I'm not a lesbian."

He looked confused.

"I have no interest in pussies, so you tell him to man up and come talk me himself, and we'll see how that goes. Okay?"

He smiled big and wide, like he wasn't expecting that attitude to come out of me, truth be told I wasn't expecting it to come from me either.

"Fuckin' Alcide, man," he mumbled to himself more than anything.

I watched as he went back to his best friend, and I watched said best friend turn a serious shade of red, I guess he wasn't all that on board with Eric being his wing man after all, it was kind of adorable.

"Sookie, who was THAT?" Hadley said, coming up behind me, and I looked back at my girls, Tara was damn near passed out on Claudine's shoulder, and Sarah was just ranting into her phone, probably at Steve.

"Eric… I guess. And that's Alcide," I nodded at the two arguing men.

"Can I have one?" She asked, damn near licking her lips. Hadley wasn't very subtle, that's for sure.

I just shrugged.

"I'm done with men," she announced, all the while still looking at them as if they were dinner. "Besides, I kind of want to see how this turns out. It's not like you to flirt with two guys, let alone have 'em fight over you."

"Hadley, it's just some fun, it's nothing serious, just a little flirting."

"Mmmhmm, cousin, just trust me if they ask you to be the meat in their sandwich, say no, believe me they don't mean anything about food."

I laughed out loud, and really didn't want to know the story behind that little outburst. She skulked back to our table again, this time the tall, dark, and handsome one approached me, leaving tall, blonde, and beautiful in the background.

That's when I met Alcide.

"I'm so, so sorry about him, really."

"It's fine…"

"No, it's not, he's just really stupidly impulsive, and he has this whole see, want, have, mentality going on, it's really bad." He blushed again, and I found him really endearing. He was just as physically impressive as his wing-man, but again total opposite in looks, and it seemed in personality as well. Where Eric seemed brash and frighteningly honest, Alcide was more reserved, and far more apologetic for his tastes than Eric.

"I'm Alcide Herveaux and I'm still very sorry about my friend."

I laughed, he really was embarrassed, I thought for sure it was a game.

"Don't worry about it, Alcide, no harm done. I'm Sookie by the way, Sookie Stackhouse."

He extended his hand and I took it.

"Nice to meet you, Sookie."

I looked behind him as subtle as I could to find his friend sneaking glances at us both, while it looked like he was being chatted up by some other blonde, he didn't look so enthusiastic with her though, that's for sure.

Alcide and I talked, and I found that he was what my Gran would call a good 'ole southern boy.' Manners, sweetness, but a strength that was obvious. That, and he was smarter than most guys who hit on me, that's for sure. But he was still a little fragile, as his friend had said, it was obvious Alcide was nursing a broken heart and was rather unsure of what to do with it. I got to know him a little bit, before he asked me for my number, as nervous as anything, and despite my thoughts roaming to his best friend… even then, I took the chance and I gave it to him, and he smiled, and his smile was beautiful. I'd made him happy, and in that was my biggest flaw. I guess I had a thing for making other people happy, and Alcide was no exception.

By our third date I knew all there was to know about Alcide Herveaux, born and raised a good mannered Louisiana boy. He too was a victim of family obligations, going into his family business straight of out high school, unlike me though, he saw no issue with it. To him it was just what you did, you supported your family, and your own wishes and desires took to the back burner. It's not to say he wasn't successful, not at all, their construction business was booming, even in what was appearing to be a uneven economic climate. Of course, I didn't say that, to argue my own point on someone else's life, that wasn't how I was raised. Judging wasn't the done thing or at least if it was it was kept to yourself or your closest kin. I liked Alcide, there really wasn't all that much to even slightly dislike, really. He was loyal and sweet, funny, kind, all the things a girl should want in a man, right? And yet even then it felt like there was something missing.

Or more to the point, it felt like someone was missing.

I hated myself for it, but it was a undeniable truth that I had to accept. Eric interested me, in those few minutes with him at that bar, I felt more spark than I did with the weeks I'd spent with Alcide. And I felt rotten for even thinking it, since everyone loved Alcide. My mother was practically swooning, my father even liked him, mostly I knew because he had a successful business behind him and wasn't after my money as he had once suspected my ex - William Compton to be. Turns out my dad was right about Bill, so maybe he was right about Alcide too, I thought. Eric left for Europe the day after the night we'd met in the bar, according to Alcide, Eric was somewhat nomadic in his nature. He never stuck around too long, even though Alcide had asked him dozens of times to set up his businesses in Louisiana. Eric was a photographer, and a rather good one at that. I longed to converse with him about his work, a sample of which I'd seen online, it was just another thing that made him attractive to me. He was living my dream job and I envied him.

Alcide and I continued to date happily. As I travelled between locations for work, we'd make it work, we saw each other at first three or four times a week and most weekends, and with each date I found myself more and more attached to him and pushing his mysterious friend further from my mind. My girls, the Belles according to my Gran, where equally as impressed. Well, most of them where anyway, and when it came time for Tara's wedding six months later, it was safe to say that he'd won just about everyone around.

Everyone that was, except Pam.

"I don't like him," she said to me as she redid her perfect lipstick in the bathroom mirror.

"Excuse me?"

"You heard me, I don't like him, he's too... smooth."

Alcide wasn't smooth at all, in any way, shape, or form. Well, except maybe his chest, and I had to admit it did bother me, but the rest of him just wasn't!

"Pam, why?"

She shrugged...

"He doesn't seem like your type, that's all. I mean the Bill Compton disaster was one thing, but after him, didn't you swear off Southern boys?" Her accent accenting and elongating the 'ass' in disaster.

"Bill was a disaster because of who he was, not where he was from, and Alcide is nothing like Bill, thank Christ."

"Hmm, maybe, he still has that air about him," she waved her hand to make her point.

"And what, pray tell, 'air' is that?" I glared at her though the mirror.

"The one that says you're just his woman, there to have his babies and attend to his needs. It's bullshit."

I gaped at her, Bill certainly was like that, but Alcide wasn't.

"You're being ridiculous."

"Am I? That's bullshit." She muttered. Pam never cursed in company, none of us did, it just wasn't polite. But when we were alone, she swore like a drunken sailor.

"And besides, maybe it's what I want, did you ever think of that?"

Then it was her turn to gasp.

"You can't be serious… what the hell, Sookie? What happened to that girl I knew… who wanted to travel the world and photograph it, show it's beauty to those of us not lucky enough to see it for ourselves."

She was right I had once been that girl, but that girl had to grow up sometime, right?

"She grew up."

"She grew old, " Pam corrected me, "and now what? You're content being the baby momma for a construction worker? Jesus…"

I was twenty five, excuse me, I was not old.

"Excuse you, what about you huh? You've been promising to marry Stan Davis for over a year now, and what? You just keep stringing him along like a dog on a leash, it's either something you want or something you don't, but at least I'm not so cowardly as to want to make a choice."

"What choice? There is no choice here Sookie, there's one option and one only, just like there always has been. Your parents rule your life, and you fucking let them."

"I do no-"

"Yes, you do. And because they love Alcide, you've convinced yourself that you do too, it's so fucking sad."

"You can be a real bitch when you want to be, Pam."

"Yeah, I may be a bitch but at least I'm an honest bitch."

"Yes, with everyone but yourself," I said yanking up my stupid bridesmaids purse and storming out of the damn bathroom.

"Hey…" He caught me as I rounded the corner of the hotel in a rage. I softened in his embrace.

"You look pissed, girl talk in the bathroom not go well?" he asked, pulling me into a big bear hug.

"No, just Pam being… well, being Pam."

"Ah. I don't think she likes me very much."

He had no idea how right he was.

"Ignore her," I said, "anyway what she thinks doesn't matter, I liked you and that's what counts, right?"

He smiled.

"That's very true, but I more than like you, and I kind of think that maybe you more than like me too."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah… I mean I'm crazy about you Sooks, you know that, and I've been wanting to ask you something."

My heart started to beat crazy fast, I knew he wasn't asking me to marry him, it was far too soon for something like that, wasn't it? What if he did ask me, what would I say? Would I say yes? I didn't know. But this didn't feel like a marriage proposal.

"Now, call me crazy if you want, but I like you a lot, and I really think that you and I can do this...I wanted to know if you wanted to move in with me…"

Oh good, not a marriage proposal. But this was equally as big a step.

"Oh I … really?"

"Well, yeah, I mean I spend most of my time in New Orleans now with you anyhow, and it seems that it's there that you like to live, I can work out of there just as easy, or you can move back to Shreveport if you want. I mean, it's up to you, I just think we need to have a base for both of us, instead of this runnin' around like chickens with our heads cut off half the time."

I smiled. Alcide was a pragmatic man, and it did make sense, even if his reasoning was a little less than the romantic ideal.

"Of course I will, I'd love to live with you," I said, as excited as I could sound. I really did want to move in with him, and I really did want us to work. We did work, really well, I was happy, he was happy…or at the very least I thought I was happy. Instead the last thing in the world that I ever thought would happen happened. Everything I thought I was turned on its head when Eric Northman came to visit.

I wasn't prepared to fall in love with two men at once, but that's exactly what happened.


A/N : My newbie! I've been wanting to explore this theme for a little while. What would happen if you happened to love to very different people at the same time? Tension, cheating, angst, and hopefully a little comedy too. Are you with me guys? ;)