I realized after hearing Sookie’s side of the story that I’m not angry with her, or at least not as angry as I should be. For starters, she didn’t know me. I wouldn’t judge her for making the same move on someone else. I also feel confident that as soon as she started to get to know she changed her mind. She’s essentially a good person that was a little misguided. She figured it out before she took things too far.
Thing two I figured out… I miss the fuck out of her. I realized after we talked and after I spoke with Sonja that I have feelings I didn’t think I’d ever have about anyone. That’s weird, but I want to see what we can do.
As for Sonja. It’s going to take a long time to build our relationship back. She told me she left Ocella five years ago when he drunkenly admitted to molesting his nephew when he was younger. She asked him about me and she said the look on his face said it all. She fucked up in a major way. She knows that and I know she’s been beating herself up over it. Part of me feels bad for the guilt she feels, the other part still feels like she deserves it.
Right now, I’m being followed by three guys with industrial paparazzi cameras on my way into the airport to pick up Sookie. It’s annoying but the nature of the beast.
I’m standing by the baggage claim when I see her walking in my direction. I know she sees me. I’m taller than everyone in the damn place.
I start toward her and when we meet I lean down to kiss her cheek. That’s going to be in the papers within the next hour.
“Hey,” I smile and take her carry on from her.
“Hi. I have a bag that matches this one.” It’s hot pink with pale pink hearts on it. It’ll be easy to spot.
We figure out which baggage claim we need to go to and I lean against a pole while we wait for the conveyor to start.
“How was your flight?”
“It was alright,” she shrugs. “I slept most of the way.”
“Lucky,” I chuckle. “I don’t sleep well on planes.”
“I don’t normally either but I haven’t slept much in the last week.”
“I haven’t slept too much either,” I admit. The conveyor starts but it’ll still be a moment before the luggage starts to come out. “So… are you coming back to work for me or…”
“I haven’t decided yet,” she tells me. “I meant what I said about not being able to go back, Eric.”
“I know. I think a lot has come to light for both of us. I think we can figure something out though. I uh… cut things off with Jessica.” That was pretty hard on her, but she understood.
“Oh,” Sookie says. She looks a little surprised.
“Yeah…” I nod.
The bags start coming out and Sookie steps forward to collect hers from the carousel. I walk forward with her and as soon as hers comes out I reach out to grab it and pull the handle out. We start walking toward the exit through a slew of paparazzi.
“Fuck, that’s annoying,” I grumble once we’re to my car.
“I could have taken a cab back to my place,” she says.
“No, this is fine.” I open her door for her after I place her bags in the trunk.
“Thanks.” Sookie gets into the car and starts to pull her seatbelt on.
I go around to the driver side and get in. We stay pretty quiet for the first few miles until I finally ask, “My house or your house?”
“Mine,” she answers.
“Are we going to talk about this?” I ask her, glancing at her. She looks tired.
“About this thing between us. You and I both know there’s something more than what we thought.”
“I’m not sure what there is to say. I have feelings for you and you want an assistant.”
“Right… You do realize I want more from you, don’t you?” I’ll get a different assistant of I have to. I don’t want to though.
“How would I know that? You said you miss me and you want me to come back to work for you,” Sookie points out.
“Yeah, and I said I’d get rid of Jess, and I did.” Duh.
“And that’s supposed to mean you want more?”
“It insinuates I do… Yeah, I guess that doesn’t translate very well. I would like to see you on a personal level, Sookie.”
She takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. I can’t tell by her expression what she’s thinking.
“I want you to read something I wrote first and then I want you to bring this up again,” she says.
“I can do that,” I agree. “What is it?”
“My article. You’re the only one that’s ever going to read it.”
“Okay,” I nod.
“It’s in my carry-on in the trunk.”
“Okay. Are you sure you want to go to your house?” I ask, looking at her again. I want to get this all out before I take her home.
“If you really want to go back to your place, that’s fine,” she relents.
We go quiet and I make the trip to my house. When I park in the driveway I go to the trunk and grab her carry on. Sookie follows me into the house. We stop in the kitchen for something to drink before we go to the backyard. It’s the most comfortable place to be. She sits on the chair like normal and I lean back on the couch.
“Alright, let me see this article,” I say.
She hands over a large, white envelope with my name scrawled in her girly handwriting.
I look at her face as I open it and pull the pages out.
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.
With all of the quiet coming from him and his camp, I assumed there had to be some juicy secret he was attempting to keep buried. Most newcomers to this business can’t seem to shut up about themselves and if they do possess some modicum of modesty, it’s usually false. I quickly learned that isn’t the case with Eric Northman. He’s a private person who isn’t interested in making a name for himself by becoming tabloid fodder.
It’s pretty respectable at a time when people will leak their sex tapes to get a reality show or book deal. I can tell you that Eric has a television in his house but the only time I ever saw it on was because I turned it on. He reads a lot. Not just to look smart like some people do, but because he genuinely enjoys it. He has a habit of sucking his bottom lip when he does it. He works out most mornings and I don’t mean at eleven. He’s an early riser, at least by most people’s standards around here.
He likes vanilla creamer in his coffee, which I thought I was cute the first time he told me that, mostly because it was completely unexpected. I figured him to be more of a straight laced, hardcore coffee addict that took it black or not at all. His house is a nod to his Swedish roots. He lived there until he was eight-years-old. I haven’t heard him speak the language yet but I plan to get him to do it one of these days. If hearing him read the phone book in English is sexy, I can only imagine what it would sound like in another language.
I’ve learned that Eric is a very kind person. This process has been a learning curve for us both and I’ve been debating myself the whole way about whether or not I’m doing the right thing. I’ve waffled back and forth, trying to find the right side of the line to stand on. I got into journalism because I like to tell stories and because I thought maybe, someday, I could make a difference in someone’s life. I thought maybe I could find words that would reach people, maybe make them feel like they’re less alone in the world.
What I didn’t get into it for is to exploit other people’s secrets and dirty laundry. The more I have gotten to know Eric, the less I have wanted to expose whatever it is in his life that he wants to shield us from knowing. His privacy is important to him. Who am I to go and destroy that?
In the end, after all of my soul searching, I realized that I just don’t have it in me to give away everything I’ve learned about him. There are pieces that I will keep for myself because no matter what he might think of me now that he knows the truth, he is important to me. He’s special. For a brief moment, he was my friend.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes and I’ve had to take a long, hard look at the person I almost became in order to make this article possible. I sunk to lows I didn’t know existed, at least on a personal level, and at this point in time I don’t see someone I recognize looking back at me when I see my reflection.
To say I’m sorry for hurting someone who put their trust in me would be an understatement. It’s not good enough but I can’t think of any other way to put it.
Would I do it all again?
That’s the tricky part.
There are things that happened in the course of my time with Eric that only he and I know. Those things… those I will never regret. There are a lot of things I’ll miss about seeing you every day, and not just because you like walking around the house naked. Although I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t miss that. I’ll miss your humor, your pervy innuendos, that child-like excitement you get on your face when you see a fresh pint of ice cream in the freezer, the way you laugh whenever someone tosses out a “that’s what she said”… Then there are more private things, but I won’t add them here.
I don’t regret having met Eric Northman, but if I had it to do over, I would be honest this time. I would rather have the door slammed in my face than cause him a moment of the anguish or disappointment that I’ve caused him because of my selfishness and deception.
Finally, just to Eric I would like to say this: thank you. Thank you for being a great boss. Thank you for welcoming me into your home. Thank you for letting me learn things about you. Thank you for letting me burn that terrible yellow blouse. Thank you for unknowingly forcing me to reexamine myself and the choices I was making.
If you want to know who Eric Northman is, it’s all right there. The things that matter are the things he puts on display every time he steps in front of a camera or walks into a room. The rest… the rest is just fodder and a desperate attempt to make money on someone else’s story and that story; it’s not mine to tell.
When I set the article down I look up at Sookie again. She has that same bottom lip she spoke of between her teeth and she’s watching my face for any indication of what I might think.
“Thank you, Sookie,” I whisper. It’s the only thing I can think to say.
“There’s something else I want to tell you and I didn’t want to put it there just in case my luggage got lost or my computer gets stolen.” She gets up off her chair and kneels down in front of me. She takes my hands and holds onto them tightly. “I heard the things you said to Sonja before she left. I know I acted oddly the last few days I was with you. I want you to know the reason for that is because I was struggling with myself and not because I think of you as being damaged or anything remotely close to that because of what that sick fuck did to you.”
I tug my hand from her and reach up to brush her hair back. I cup the back of her head and lean down as I pull her up to kiss her lips softly.
“You’re the only person that knows about that,” I whisper against her lips.
“I figured as much. I haven’t told a soul and I never will,” she whispers back.
“Can we have that conversation again?” I ask and pull her up on the couch with me.
“We probably should,” she nods.
“Well, once everything was out in the open I realized I still wanted you here in any way I could get you. I figured the only way I could would be to have you back as my assistant. Now you know I want more than that,” I tell her.
“I liked being your assistant,” she admits. “What I was struggling with, I think, was the sexual relationship we were carrying on. I know you weren’t paying me to have sex with you, but there was something about that just didn’t sit right with me. More times than I can count I told myself I shouldn’t have been doing what I was doing. I’m not blaming you; I made the choice. I could have walked away at any time and I didn’t do that.” Sookie pauses to take a deep breath and then adds, “But I want to try again. No bullshit this time. I’ll put all my cards on the table. All of them.”
I nod and ask, “How will this work then? I want to date you and work with you. The checks come from my management company if that helps…” I don’t know if it will.
The corner of her mouth lifts and she laughs quietly.
“Well shit, you should have told me that in the first place,” she jokes.
“So it helps?” I grin. The payments still come from my account, but everyone that works for me gets a check through my management company.
“It might. Are you sure you want to trade in the freedom of a fuck buddy for just me?”
“I spend all of my time with you anyway,” I tease. “Also, I didn’t see Jessica as much as you thought I did.”
“It was easy to tell when you saw her. She’s a scratcher.”
“That she is,” I laugh.
“So, Mr. Northman, when do I start?”
“Are you free to start tomorrow?” I ask, leaning a little closer.
“Tomorrow is good,” she replies.
“What should we do tonight?” I ask, twirling the ends of her hair.
“My big plan was laundry, so I’m sure you can come up with something better than that,” she chuckles.
“How lame would it be if I said sleep?” I ask seriously. I’m fuckin’ exhausted.
She gasps. “Why Mr. Northman, are you asking me to sleep with you?” Sookie throws in a sweet southern drawl.
“I do believe I am, Miss Stackhouse,” I purr.
“Do you mean actual sleep or oops my dick seems to be cuddling with your pussy?”
“I mean actual sleep tonight. The dick cuddling can wait till the morning.”
Sookie laughs and says, “Sleep it is. I’m glad I washed the guest room sheets before I left.”
“Hmm, Rasul’s been sleeping on them. I think you’d be safer in my bed,” I tell her.
“I’m not so sure about that,” she snorts.
“He could come back at any time and he did tell me he wanted to hook up with you. Believe me; you’re much safer with me.”
“Either way I’d be getting pounced in the morning.”
“Exactly.” I get up from the couch and hold out my hand to help her up too. As soon as she’s on her feet I startle her when I pick her up and throw her over my shoulder in a fireman’s carry. On my way to my room I smack her on the ass.
“Eric!” she yelps. “I need my pajamas.”
“No you don’t.” I smack her other cheek as I go through the sliding glass door.
“I’m not sleeping in my jeans.”
“No, you’re sleeping naked with me.” Duh.
“Oh no. The sleeping will go right out the window,” she says knowingly.
“Baby, I know you’re tired. I can respect that.” I walk into my room and close the door, locking it behind us just in case Ras does come back tonight. I toss her on the bed and pull my shirt off. “Get naked.”
Sookie pulls off her boots one at a time. “Last time you said that I ended up bent over the couch.”
“Do you see a cou…” I do have a couch in my room. “I’m not bending you over anything,” I promise.
She stands up and pulls off her pale purple shirt before unbuttoning her jeans. I pull my jeans and boxers off before throwing them in the hamper. I don’t even worry about brushing my teeth. I ignore what she’s doing, so I don’t pounce, and climb under my covers.
“See, I’m being a good boy,” I say as I finally watch her pants slide down her legs.
“I’ll get you a gold star tomorrow,” she winks over her shoulder and takes off her panties.
“I’ll be fine with wake up head,” I grin.
“I think I’d rather get you the star,” she teases as her bra comes off.
“Maybe I’ll give you wake up head.” As many times as we fucked, this will be the first time we’ll be sleeping in the same bed.
“Reason number three I wanted pajamas.” Sookie reaches up to take the braid out of her hair.
“What was one and two?”
“One so you couldn’t accidentally fuck me in your sleep and two so Rasul wouldn’t think he had a chance if he caught me walking around the house.”
“I’ll get your suitcase in the morning and the door is locked,” I tell her and pull the blanket back for her to lie down.
Sookie lies down next to me and settles on her stomach. I move to lie next to her and rest my hand on her back, rubbing small circles. It’s soothing to me. I love the feel of a woman’s skin. As it turns out, it’s soothing to Sookie too. She ends up falling asleep within three minutes. I fall off right behind her.