Chapter 1: Feel That Fire

"Love at first sight is possible, but it's always a good idea to take a second look." –Unknown

EPOV

We met innocently enough at the wedding of mutual friends. Alcide and I had been in the same fraternity back in college. We'd roomed together for two years before I graduated a year ahead of him. He was a good guy and probably one of the more morally tuned-in guys in the house. Unlike the rest of us, he studied a little harder and spent a little less time chasing tail. That's not to say he didn't have a wild streak.

If it weren't for that, no way would he ever have hooked up with Debbie Pelt. The woman was a fucking disaster and everyone hated her but him. Back then, good 'ole Alcide was in the saving business. He refused to believe it when his friends (myself included) told him that Debbie was crazy and all kinds of wrong for him. But then the dude was in love and trying to talk a guy out of being with a girl he loves is about as big of a waste of time as trying to convert the Pope to Judaism. Alcide just wouldn't hear it, no matter what.

Thank fuck he finally realized Debbie was cancerous and dumped her for good. It took breaking up with her a couple of other times and her cheating on him twice before he realized just how toxic she was, but like I said, he was in love with her. I get wanting to believe in the best in a person but Jesus Christ, she was so not worth all the trouble he went through for her.

Three years later he met a much nicer (read saner) girl by the name of Maria Starr who was absolutely perfect for him. While it was true they had sort of rushed into the whole marriage thing, I figured it wasn't really my place to judge. I hadn't been in a serious relationship since high school so I had no room to talk about other people's choices. I'd had girlfriends but the relationships pretty much played themselves out in short order.

Alcide asked me to be one of the groomsmen in his wedding and I could hardly say no. Even if I wasn't ready for marriage just yet, I was happy for the guy. He deserved to be happy as well. Not to mention, I liked Maria Starr. I thought she was good for him. Then again, Debbie Pelt was awful enough that I would have thought Paris Hilton would be a step up. That's bad news.

The wedding was set to take place where they met, which was at Maria's parents' house about a hundred miles east of Shreveport, where I'd been living since finishing college down at LSU. Alcide had gotten a degree in business with the intention of someday taking over his father's construction/contracting company. He was good at what he did and it was while doing some restoration work to the antebellum home the Coopers owned that Alcide met Maria. To hear him tell it, it was love at first sight. Good for him.

I'd always wondered if that whole love at first sight thing was real. Of course attraction was possible. I passed a 100 girls a day I thought were pretty, beautiful or hot but that didn't mean I was in love with him. I figured it was probably a once in a lifetime sort of deal. I didn't ever talk about this with Alcide or any of my other guy friends. Guys don't talk about shit like that unless they're extremely wasted or in the process of breaking up with someone and even then, it's best to pretend the conversation never happened.

It was while I was at this wedding that I met a girl who gave me pause on the whole love at first sight concept. The second I laid eyes on her my heart leapt up into my throat and I felt this pull toward her. I'd never experienced anything like it. She looked like the girl next door with her long blonde hair, bright blue doe eyes and curves that would have made Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield jealous. In short, she was a knockout.

When I asked Alcide about her I was shocked to learn she was also single. She was a friend of Maria's and sister of one of the other groomsmen. I knew Jason Stackhouse from school. He'd only gone for a year and a half on a football scholarship before his knee blew out. Since Jason wasn't exactly the scholarly type, his scholarship dried up pretty quickly after it was determined his playing days were over. He'd come down to LSU once in a while to check out the talent when he got bored with the girls from his hometown but otherwise I hadn't seen him since I graduated almost five years before.

Generally speaking, there are rules about going after your buddy's little sister; not that we would ever really talk about those rules. It's like talking about your buddy's mother. No matter how hot she is, you keep that shit to yourself and you sure as hell don't try to fuck her. It was the same thing for sisters.

So I stood at the bar trying not to stare at the bombshell that was standing on the other side of the dance floor, laughing at something her brother was saying and gesturing wildly as he talked. I also found myself wondering just how close Jason and I really were. The downside was that he knew my reputation with the ladies. He knew I wasn't generally the committing type, at least not for very long, and I was pretty sure he'd take issue with a guy like me going after his sister.

I could only hope that the girl, whoever she was, would have the sass to tell her brother to sit down and let her make her own decisions. The problem was that I couldn't seem to get my feet to move. Confidence was never a problem for me in the past. I had it in me to be a suave motherfucker when I wanted to and yet, just looking at this girl froze me in place.

I never got flustered around girls. Even when I was too tall for my own good back when I was thirteen and hadn't quite mastered how to work my lanky limbs, I wasn't afraid to talk to girls. It was a skill that had come naturally to me. So why was this one any different? I didn't have anything to lose by going over and introducing myself. If she didn't seem interested I could easily play it off like I was just mingling with other wedding guests; no big deal.

Still, there was no movement south of my kneecaps. No amount of pep talking seemed to get the fuckers to move either and it was starting to piss me off. But then there was one of those best worst moment situations and some big, beefy Mr. Clean looking bastard whispered in her ear. She nodded and then followed him out to the dance floor. Oh hell no. No, this wasn't happening. They looked all kinds of wrong together. I was willing to bet he was the kind of tough talking douche with his nipples pierced and demon biker chick tattoos on his steroid enhanced arms.

On the bright side of that particularly nauseating dark cloud, it got my feet to finally fucking move. I made my way around the outskirts of the room and slithered through the crowd until I got to where Jason was standing. He was still swapping stories with a few guys from the frat house that had been around back in his day and the second he saw me, he stopped the story he was telling.

"Eric Northman, you sneaky bastard, get over here!" Jason held his arms out for a hug.

Now, considering his size it would be easy to think Jason wasn't much of a threat. He was probably about 5'10" and weighed less than two bucks. I wouldn't call him scrawny, but he just wasn't very intimidating the size department. However, I'd seen that asshole do pushups from a handstand position so I knew he was a strong little bastard. He reminded me just how strong when I let him crush me into a bro hug, complete with unnecessarily hard back slapping. Fuck, that was probably going to leave a mark.

"Jason Stackhouse, how the fuck are you?" I greeted him in my customary way and he grinned from ear to ear.

"I am fan-fucking-tastic," he reached into his pocket and produced a wallet full of pictures. "This here's my baby girl, Evangeline, but we call her Evie."

I looked down at the toothless grin of a baby girl with blonde hair and the same brown eyes as her father. She was a cute kid. "She's beautiful, Jase, congratulations."

"Thanks man! Best thing ever happened to me, I'll ya. Never thought I'd be excited about being a father but I love that little girl more than words can say." Jason actually kissed one of the pictures before folding them all back up and stuffing his wallet into his pocket again. "How about you? Got kids yet?"

I shook my head and said, "Nah, not yet. I'd need to be with a girl I could stand for more than five seconds before that happened."

Jason laughed and said, "I hear ya. Love hits ya at the weirdest moments though. Wasn't expecting to fall for Crystal but it happened. Evie wasn't exactly planned, if you know what I mean, but I don't regret it for a second. That little girl owns my heart."

I didn't really know what to say other than, "That's great, Jason. Happy to hear it."

He nodded and said, "Hey! You should meet my sister!" He punched my arm with excitement.

I'll take things I didn't see coming for $1000, Alex.

"Your sister?" I had to play dumb, even though Alcide was chuckling into his beer about three feet away. Fucker was lucky I didn't give him the same shoulder punch I got from Jason.

"Yeah, she's dancing with that fucknut Quinn," Jason shook his head with disapproval. Thank fuck I wasn't the only one who felt like his sister could do better. "Yo, Sook!" Jason shouted, waving her over like he was at a country fair instead of a wedding reception. Only Jason, I thought and shook my head.

And Sook? What the fuck kind of name was Sook? I kept quiet all the same and watched as his sister glared in his direction and mouthed, fuck off, in his direction. Sassy. I liked it.

She waited until the song ended before excusing herself from the guy I assumed had to be Quinn and he trailed after her like a lost puppy. Not that I could blame him or anything, but I didn't really need another member in the peanut gallery while I talked to this Sook woman.

"You realize this is a wedding and not a hog call, right?" Sook pinched Jason's arm like any good sister would.

"Yeah, yeah do you see Alcide bitchin'? Calm down. I wanted you to meet somebody." Jason gestured in my direction. "This is Eric, an old friend of mine from my frat days down at LSU. Eric, this is my baby sister, Sookie."

"Nice to meet you," we said simultaneously, hands reaching out to shake.

Sookie laughed at our simultaneous politeness and I was instantly charmed by the sound of it. I hadn't been able to hear it before but I immediately knew I wanted to hear the sound again. Her hand was small and warm in mine. Her skin was soft and I was relieved to see she wasn't wearing those stupid acrylic nails that seemed to be all the rage lately. She was dressed in a pretty off-white dress with deep pink roses on it that made her tan skin seem a little darker than it probably was. Her bright blue eyes twinkled when she laughed.

I was in dangerous territory. I was damn close to waxing poetic about her smile and that shit was just unacceptable unless I had naked privileges with her. All the same, I didn't want to let go of her hand. For some reason I couldn't explain, it felt like her hand belonged in mine. Weird.

"Can I get you a drink?" I offered, remembering the manners my mother had tried so hard to instill in me but rarely ever seemed to get used.

"Sure, that'd be nice." Sookie smiled at me.

"I got it, babe," Quinn spoke up from behind her and hightailed it over the bar before I could nail him in the head with the bottle I was holding. Fucker. Would it be immature if I slashed all his tires later? Probably.

The only thing that made Quinn walking away okay was that Sookie cringed when he called her 'babe;' not that I could blame her. I wasn't really one for pet names. My last girlfriend called me 'honey' more often than she did my first name and it had annoyed me to no end. It was particularly annoying when we were out in public and there were twenty other women calling their boyfriends the same exact thing. I have a name. Use it.

One by one the guys I'd been standing with found other places to be until Sookie and I were left standing alone together. She gestured to the table she'd been assigned to and asked, "Wanna sit down?"

I nodded and took the seat next to hers. "So is that guy your boyfriend?"

Sookie looked positively horrified and said, "Hell no! Quinn is…hell I don't even know where to start." There was more of that infectious laughter of hers and it had me smiling along with her. "Besides, won't your girlfriend have a problem with you sitting with another woman?"

"She probably would if I had a girlfriend," I smiled over the top of my beer bottle and damn near grinned when she blushed just a little. Priceless.

She tossed her long hair over her shoulder in a maneuver I was convinced girls got lessons in while us guys were learning how to use a jock strap or a cup. Her earrings caught my attention, if only because I'd never seen green pearls before and my mother collected pearls the way I used to collect comic books when I was a kid.

"Here you go, babe," Quinn set a drink down in front of Sookie, who forced a smile.

"Thank you, Quinn." She reached to stir her drink.

"I gotta piss," he said crudely and then took off.

I shook my head while Sookie sat there looking completely mortified. "I swear he was born in a barn," she muttered under her breath and I couldn't help but laugh.

"So what are you doing with him then?" I asked out of sheer curiosity.

"I'm not with him. I've known him for years since he used to play football with my brother back in high school, but Quinn has never been my type, nor has he ever had a chance with me. He's really not such a bad guy, contrary to what his behavior here would suggest. He's just protective of me." Sookie explained to me.

"Like the big brother you never wanted?" I offered and she nodded before sipping her drink.

"Something like that, yes." She made a face at her drink. "This is club soda with a lime."

"What was it supposed to be?" I asked her and drained what was left of my beer.

"A gin and tonic," she croaked out. "I guess that just goes to show that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself."

"Well, I could use a refill. Care for an escort?" I held a hand out to her and she nodded, leaving her less than satisfactory drink on the table.

Once again I was overcome with how right it felt to be holding her hand, if only for a few moments. We walked together to the bar and it wasn't too surprising when the bartender practically tripped all over himself to serve her. A gorgeous girl in a tight, strapless dress and amazing curves? Yeah, not too many guys are going to be able to keep their tongue in their head, let alone their dick in their pants. I forced myself to stop looking at her ass after five seconds.

"See something you like?" Sookie asked. Apparently I hadn't stopped looking fast enough.

"If I said yes would you think I was a pervert?" I smiled at her.

"Only if you're referring to my dress and not what's under it," she said, catching me completely off guard.

I think I fell in love with her a little right there.


So what do we all think? I'm aiming for fluff here but we'll see what happens. Reviews are love!