I didn’t expect to hear from Eric ever again. I can only assume he caught Amelia right after she got stoned out of her mind since I made it abundantly clear that I didn’t want anyone to know where I was going. I didn’t even tell Gran I was coming back before I got on the plane. Of course she was thrilled, yet concerned, to see me when I arrived. The flight into Dallas meant there was a three hour drive and that gave me a long time to think.
I put myself in Eric’s shoes, and honestly, I’d hate me for doing what I did. I’m still not sorry about contacting his mom. There aren’t any excuses for her not protecting her child like she should have once she was made aware of what was going on behind her back, but there comes a point when healing has to start. I’m going to guess that Eric’s mostly tried to push it all away and not look at it too intensely.
On the long drive back to Gran’s I also came to the conclusion that even though I tried not to, I began to develop feelings for Eric. Like him, I tried to ignore it and stuff all that into a little box in the back of my mind. I heard what he said to Sonja after he sent me in the bedroom and that’s what made me cry. I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself. I don’t deserve anyone’s pity.
I knew what I was doing and I knew there would be repercussions when or if I got caught. I thought I was prepared to deal with the outcome any way it went. I was wrong.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the attachment that started to form where Eric is concerned. I could blame it on the sex and say that’s really what it is, that it’s just good sex and nothing more. That would be another lie. I’ve told enough lies lately.
I need to claw my way out of this hole I dug for myself and the best way to do that is to start getting honest. Truthfully, I did enjoy being his assistant. The sex was a great bonus but I enjoyed the work. It was interesting and it gave me the chance to see a different side of Hollywood. I knew I could handle the job of being Eric’s assistant but I didn’t know I would enjoy it as much as I did.
Eric actually appreciated what I was doing for him and I genuinely liked being around him. I never let myself get confused about our relationship. Despite all the sex that went along with it, I know I’m not his girlfriend. I’m not naive enough to think great sex changes the fact that he was still just my boss.
What I am doing is taking a good, long look at my morals. While I wasn’t paid specifically for the sexy, there’s a part of me that still feels dirty for having done it. Once could be considered a slip, an inability to resist temptation like I should have. Even that would be a cop out because the bare bones truth of the matter is I did it because I wanted to. My job wasn’t threatened, my judgment wasn’t impaired and I could have listened to my conscience at any point; I didn’t do that. I wanted him and I liked the powerful feeling that came along with knowing he wanted me too.
God, I’m pathetic.
No, I’d be pathetic if I fucked him because he was famous.
Fucking him to make myself feel better… that’s just sad.
What happens if I go back? I can’t let things go back to the way they were. That suggestion I made about Eric hiring a burly furball was a good one. Now that I know my feelings go beyond the simple employer/employee relationship, I can’t watch him go to someone else for what I can’t give him and I won’t be the girl that hopes enough sex will change his mind.
No, I think the best thing for both of us is if I move on with my life. I’ll keep his secret because it’s not mine to tell. I’ll sublet the apartment to Amelia and go back to Los Angeles to pack up my things. I don’t have much, so it shouldn’t take long to get it done. I’ll find an apartment here and see about the job at the paper. It won’t be as exciting as Los Angeles, but maybe that’s okay.
Maybe I wasn’t supposed to leave the safety of Bon Temps in the first place. I think I was just kidding myself with the idea of being the next great thing to happen to journalism. I couldn’t even get my story published in a rag of a paper. Yeah, my writing career is going nowhere.
I think this qualifies as an official quarter-life crisis.
“Sookie, honey, come down for supper!” Gran calls from downstairs.
“Be down in a minute!” I call back and pause my music.
I’ve been writing all day long. The article that is never going to see the light of day woke my out of a dead sleep at three o’clock this morning. I suppose you could say this is my version of a love letter to Eric, but I want him to see himself through my eyes.
This assignment started out as a hail Mary to save my job. I approached it all very arrogantly and with more selfishness than I knew I was capable of. Eric Northman was my target and he unknowingly invited a predator into his home. I walked in with an open mind, unsure of whether or not that shy, quiet sweetness was genuine or just an act put on by a talented newcomer.
Within a few minutes I had my answer.
When I landed on Eric’s doorstep, it was with the intention of throwing myself at his mercy. I was prepared to grovel at his feet for a chance to put him on the record and get the interview no one else could. I remember praying in my car before walking up to his front door. I prayed for a miracle, for Eric to be the kind of man that would be merciful and grant me an interview out of pity.
Instead, the Fates smiled on me. In a twist generally only found in romantic comedies, Eric mistook me for a candidate his manager sent over to be his personal assistant. It felt like the good Lord was smiling down on me. Surely, I thought, it was a sign that I was in the right place at the right time. So I did what any young reporter with questionable morals would do; I played along.
I let him believe I was there to be his assistant. It seemed like a fantastic opportunity. He got an assistant out of the deal and I would be able to observe and question him. I could bide my time, question him little by little so he didn’t get spooked or suspicious.
“Sookie, dinner!” Gran calls again. “It’s not gettin’ any hotter!”
I stop rereading my article and get off the creaky, old bed I’ve been sleeping on. There’s a more to be said before I’m finished, but it’s a good start and it feels good to get it all out. I go down the stairs and back to the kitchen. Gran is sitting at the table, dressed in black slacks and a leopard print top. She might be in her eighties, but she doesn’t dress like it.
“Sorry,” I apologize as I take my seat.
“Glad you could finally join me,” she smiles.
“I’ve just got a ton of words all in a hurry to get out,” I explain as I pick up my fork. She’s made shrimp and grits.
“Sookie, you can tell me if it’s none of my business, but why did Eric Northman call here for you?” Gran asks. “I know something’s been plaguing you, and now I’m wondering if it has something to do with him.”
“It has everything to do with him.” I set my fork down again and tell her the whole story from start to finish, minus the part about being molested because that’s not crucial to the story.
“Oh… Well, that is a pickle,” she says and leans back in her chair. “So… he asked you to come work with him again? Even after learning what you were up to? I’m very disappointed in that, by the way.”
“I’m a terrible person, Gran. Deep down I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I ignored it. The worst part of it is that he’s a really good person. He doesn’t deserve what I did. I can’t fathom why he would want me to come back or how he could ever trust me again,” I tell her.
Gran chuckles and says, “Sweetie, that’s simple. He’s clearly in love with you.”
“What? No,” I laugh. “Gran, he’s not in love with me.”
“He is. He may not know it yet, but he is. He found you here, didn’t he? He called and basically offered you your job back. Honey, he wants you in his life. He probably figured offering you a job is the best way to get you home. From what you said he’s a kind soul, maybe a little emotionally stunted, but mark my words. Eric Northman is head over heels in love with you.”
I shake my head. There’s no way he’s in love with me.
“Gran, he wasn’t even sure if he wanted me to come back,” I remind her. “Besides, I don’t think I’m cut out for Los Angeles. I’m not cutthroat enough for that world.”
“Did you enjoy being Eric’s assistant?”
“Were you good at the job?” she asks without letting me finish.
“Do you want to be stuck in some podunk town writing about Mrs. Beck adding an erotica section to the local library? Or do you want to go out and live and meet people? Do a job that you love and you’re great at?”
“I could be great here,” I mumble.
“Sweetheart, nobody is great here,” she smiles and rests her hand on mine. “You’re so much better than this little no horse town.”
“Why did you settle down here, Gran?” I ask her. She could have gone anywhere and she picked this town.
“This is where my family is from. When I had kids I wanted to raise them somewhere safe. I was done with LA,” she shrugs.
“What if I am too?” I pick up my fork and dig into my supper.
“Have I ever steered you wrong?”
“Eat your dinner and go call Eric back.”
The stern look on her face leaves no room for arguing.
“Yes ma’am,” I reply.
Conversation drops off and when I’m done eating I offer to help clean up as a stalling tactic. Gran sees right through that and tells me to call Eric or pick my switch. Neither option appeals to me but I decide to call Eric.
Cell phone reception here is balls, so I get in my rental car and go for a drive. I end up in Monroe and after buying a chocolate mint chip milkshake, I call Eric.
“Hello?” he answers on the third ring. He sounds tired.
“It’s me,” I say quietly. “I can call you back if you were sleeping.”
“No, it’s okay. What’s going on?”
“Gran made me call you. I don’t really know why I’m calling,” I tell him.
“I talked to Sonja,” he tells me.
“Oh… that’s… I hope it’s good. She was hoping it was you when I called her.” Sonja seems like a very nice woman who has spent a very long time punishing herself for something she can’t change. I feel for her. She made a mistake, but she was a victim in all this, too.
“We’re going to start over,” he says quietly. “I know you thought you were doing what was right, and you were. Thank you.”
“That’s wonderful, Eric. I’m happy for you. I hope it works out,” I say sincerely.
“Now I just have one more relationship to fix,” he tells me.
“Having problems with Jessica too?”
“I miss you,” he admits.
I feel the same way, but I can’t get myself to say the words. Maybe this is how I punish myself.
“Eric, I’m sure you won’t have any trouble finding an even better assistant than I was,” I tell him.
“I don’t want a different assistant. I want you. Listen, good people do bad things sometimes. We live and learn, right? I want you to come home… Please.”
“Eric, I can’t go back to the way things were. Things have changed and I… I just can’t,” I say softly.
“What do you want, Sookie? What will get you back here?”
“It’s not about what you can give me.” That’s a big lie. Ugh. I’m trying to be honest and what do I do? I lie. “That’s not true. The truth is,” I pause to take a deep breath, “The truth is I have feelings for you and right now I’m pretty disgusted with myself, but I’m stuck with me. There’s no running away and I don’t ever want to feel like this again.”
There’s a brief pause before Eric whispers, “Come home, baby.”
“Eric, I’m not your baby,” I reply, as much as it hurts to admit it.
“Tell me what it’ll take to get you back, Sookie,” he practically pleads.
“I don’t know,” I answer. I really don’t. “You’re probably better off without me.”
“I’m capable of knowing what’s good for me,” he growls. “Two minutes ago you said you have feelings for me and I’m fucking begging you to come home to me, yet you keep telling me no. Stop fucking beating yourself up over something I’m not even mad at you for. If you’re worried about Jess, fuck it, she’s gone. If you’re worried about a personal relationship getting in the way of a professional one, well, we’ve already proved we can do it… Just come home. I fucking miss you. I don’t miss anyone.”
I can hear Gran in my head, telling me that he loves me. Maybe she’s right.
“I miss you too,” I whisper.
He let’s out a deep breath and he says, “This is the last time I’m going to say it, Sookie. Come. Home.”
I inhale deeply and close my eyes. If I don’t go back I’ll regret this even more than the lies I told.
“I’ll email you my flight information,” I tell him.
“Thank you,” he replies and I can hear the relief in his voice.
I nod, not that he can see me. I don’t know what’s going to happen with us, but I want to know. I need to know, and I’m certain Eric does, too.