Eleven years at this company and I finally get the promotion I’ve been working for. I’m the new head of accounting. I was given the news Wednesday and I start doing the job I’m going to be paid for Monday.
It’s Saturday night and I’m out with Tara and a few of my colleagues to celebrate the new position. We’re getting ready to leave a high end restaurant with high end prices and astronomically priced drinks. That’s okay. Starting Monday I can afford them. It’s my promotion, so I put the whole four hundred dollar bill on my credit card.
“I’ll meet you all out front,” I tell my friends after I sign the receipt. I need to use the restroom.
I head toward the hallway the bathrooms are down. I’m passing the men’s’ bathroom when the door opens and I stop dead in my tracks.
I haven’t seen him since the night he picked me up from the bar… four years ago.
“Eric?” I say quietly.
“Sookie.” He looks positively stunned.
“W-what… hi…” I stutter out.
“Hi. How… it’s been a while,” he sputters too.
“Yeah, it has. Um… how are you?” I question. I don’t know what to say to him.
“Good. I’m good,” he smiles at me. “You? You look… you’re still gorgeous.”
I blush a little and nod. “Thanks, so are you.” Eric has always been a beautiful man. Almost too pretty. “I’m good, though, finally got that promotion I’ve been after.”
“That’s great. Congratulations,” he says sincerely.
“Thank you…” I trail off and we stand there staring at each other. “Um, I’m going to go to the restroom,” I finally say, pointing at the woman’s bathroom.
“Right. It was good seeing you,” he says.
“You too.” I smile at him one more time before I slip into the bathroom.
I take my time using the toilet and washing my hands. When I look in the mirror I notice I’m still a little pink in the chest and cheeks from seeing Eric. I try to shake it off and straighten my dress. I pull up the top since I’ve always had trouble with the girls getting in the way when I go strapless. I take one last look, grab my clutch and head out.
When I get to my car I freeze again. Eric is leaning against my driver side door. How in the hell did he know it was my car? I’ve only had this one a year.
“Hello again,” I greet him as I approach.
“Hi. Listen, I uh… I was wondering if we could go somewhere to talk. It’s my night out and I don’t really want to go home quite yet,” he says.
“You have a night out?” I ask with confusion. “Are you on house arrest?”
“Something like that,” he chuckles. “I have a two-year-old daughter at home.”
My heart doesn’t know whether or not it wants to sink or beat out of my chest. I thought at one point Eric and I would be having a family. Now he has a child with someone else. As over him as I am, this still stings a little.
“Sure,” I nod out of pure curiosity. “I was heading home if you want to meet me there?”
“Sure,” he nods.
He moves away from my door and I get into the car. I watch as he walks away and on my way home a million questions run through my mind. Who does he have a child with? Is she at home with his daughter? Is he running the same game he ran on me? Should I have agreed to have him at my home? Is this just a conversation or am I going to fall right back in love with him like I always seemed to do? I don’t think so. It took me a while, but he’s no longer my first and last thoughts every day.
I actually started dating a sweet man named Calvin. He was a little older, kind, caring, knew what he wanted and didn’t play games. Pretty much the exact opposite of Eric Northman. We didn’t break up in a nasty, bitter fight. We were simply in different places and wanted different things out of the relationship. We were both ready to settle down, but I wanted a family. Calvin didn’t have any children and he made it clear he would never want them. That’s a big deal when you’re talking about spending forever with someone.
I pull into my garage and leave it open while I wait for Eric. I’m leaning against the trunk of my car when he pulls into the driveway. I watch as he steps out of his SUV and locks his car as he struts over to me. Eric still has just as much swag as ever.
“Come on in,” I smile and turn to lead him into the house. My garage door leads into the kitchen so I ask, “Can I get you something to drink?”
“Water is good. Hangovers and toddlers don’t mix,” he says.
“I know,” I smile. “Jason has a toddler and a wife now. The day after the wedding he woke me up screaming for milk. I passed out at their house in the guest room.” I grab two glasses and go to the fridge to get our water.
“It takes some getting used to,” he agrees. “But Amelia is the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”
“Finally found a girl to settle you down, huh?” I say with a small smile.
“I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. One look at that little face and I was a goner,” he tells me. “Her mom’s not in the picture, so it’s just me and my sunshine these days.”
That answers one question.
“Do you mind me asking what happened to her mother?”
“Amy was a mess. I went on a little bender not too long after the last time I saw you. She was fun for a while and a good distraction. When we found out she was pregnant we both stopped drinking and straightened up. Hearing Amelia’s heartbeat was enough for me to stay on that path, but it wasn’t for Amy. Two weeks after Amelia was born she started drinking again. I came home from work one day when Amelia was three months old to find her screaming in her crib and Amy passed out on the couch with a needle still in her arm. I kicked her out and filed for sole custody after calling the cops,” Eric tells me. “All of Amy’s visits are court supervised when she actually shows up, but she hasn’t in the last fifteen months.”
“I’m so sorry,” I say sympathetically. “So, it’s just you and Amelia now?”
“Yep,” he nods. “My neighbor is watching her right now. I take one night off every two weeks.”
“Who would’ve guessed Eric Northman would make a good father,” I smile. “You know, when I imagined our kids together I would be the sole caregiver and you would be just the guy to read bedtime stories and discipline them,” I admit.
“Amelia changed everything. She made me get my shit together. There’s no more room to be selfish anymore,” he says.
I stay quiet, smiling at him. Eric looks good. He looks happier than I’ve ever seen him, and he’s being completely sincere for the first time… maybe ever.
“I like this look on you,” I whisper.
“The tired single father thing turns you on?” he smirks.
“Happy Eric Northman turns me on,” I tell him as I reach down to take my heels off.
He pulls his phone from his pocket and taps the screen a few times before sliding it over to me.
“That’s my girl,” he says.
She’s got dark, curly hair, big blue eyes, a toothy smile and adorable little dimples on her round, angelic face. She’s tall and skinny for a two-year-old.
“Oh wow, she’s beautiful, Eric. She look like she’d be a good snuggler like Daddy,” I giggle. “May I?” I ask and motion to swipe the screen to see if there are any other pictures of her.
“Sure. It’s all pictures of her, the dog and her with the dog,” he chuckles.
“It’s a far cry from other women’s tits,” I comment. He had a whole boob folder on his phone before.
“There might be one of Amelia in the tub. She made herself a bubble beard last week.”
When I find the picture I chuckle and say, “She looks like she’s trying to match Daddy,” and reach up to rub the stubble on his chin. It’s so weird to be around someone you once knew so well and that comfort is still there.
“She’s a goofball,” he tells me. “I caught her eating a stick of butter this morning.”
“A girl after my own heart,” I laugh. I’ve been compared to Paula Deen more than once with my butter consumption.
“You should see her around bacon,” he laughs.
“Sounds like you have a winner with her,” I smile and Eric follows me into the living room. “Do you mind waiting here while I change?”
“No, go ahead.” He takes a seat on the couch.
I slip into my bedroom, closing the door behind me. I find a pair of comfy sweats and an old T-shirt. I peel off my bra and put my hair up into a high bun before I wash my face. When I get back to the living room Eric’s head is leaning against the back of the couch. He looks exhausted.
“Sorry,” I say as I sit next to him with my feet curled under my body.
“No problem. I’m used to being in bed by ten. Amelia is up by six most days.”
“You don’t have to stick around if you want to get home and in bed. We can catch up some other time,” I offer.
“I’m good,” he says with a tired smile. “So what’s going on with you?”
“Not a whole lot these days. I’ve been working my ass off for this promotion. Calvin, my ex, moved out about three months ago,” I admit. “Honestly, that’s about it.”
“So you’ve been busy.”
“A bit,” I nod. “It keeps me from going stir crazy now that Cal is gone.”
“Sorry that didn’t work out. What happened?”
“We wanted different things. He was a little bit older and set in his ways. I was ready for a family,” I shrug. “I knew what I was getting into when we started seeing each other. I guess I hoped he would change his mind about kids.”
“Yeah, half assing it with kids doesn’t work,” he chuckles. “I’m glad you didn’t settle. You’ll be a great mom when you find the right guy.”
“Hopefully. I held out for a long time hoping you would come around,” I shrug. I’ll always love Eric.
“I thought about coming back, but I thought about what you said and you were right; I was no good for you,” he admits. Eric reaches for my hand and adds, “I know it’s five years too late, but I’m sorry for everything I did to you. You deserve so much better than that… better than me.”
I nod and say, “Thank you, that means a lot to me… I know I haven’t been around in you in a long time, but you don’t sound like you’re the same Eric that hurt me so bad.”
“I’m not that guy anymore. I learned from my mistakes and if some little shithead hurts my sunshine like that, I’ll rip his balls off and let her wear them as earrings.”
Our hands are still joined so I shift my fingers to thread through his. “I like this Eric,” I whisper.
“So do I,” he replies and squeezes my hand.
The last thing I imagined when I ran into him was sitting here holding his hand and thinking we could possibly rekindle something that has been pushed to the side for the last four years. That’s exactly where my mind is heading though.
“Eric, do you still think I don’t deserve you?” I ask quietly.
“I have a kid now, Sookie. I’m sure you’d rather start from scratch,” he says.
“That wasn’t my question…” Eric having a child doesn’t stop these feelings. Starting from scratch isn’t a thought. If he’s willing to let me into her life as well as his, that’s definitely not a bad thing. Of course I want my own kids one day, but I don’t mind starting off slow and getting to know this new Eric and Amelia.
“I never thought you didn’t deserve me, Sookie,” he says.
“What if I told you I like what I’ve seen and I want to know you again?”
“I’d warn you that Amelia takes up a lot of my time and she’s my first priority these days. I don’t see that changing anytime soon,” he tells me.
“Good. That’s exactly how it should be. Maybe in time you’ll let me meet her…” I trail off and close my eyes. I feel like I sound desperate, but that’s not the case. I’d be fine without him, but I don’t want to be.
“You remember that little yellow shirt you used to sleep in? Amelia found it and sleeps in it now. Every morning when I wake up I see that shirt and I think of you,” he tells me. “I stayed away because I finally got to the point where someone else’s happiness meant more to me than my own.”
“Do you know there hasn’t been a day in the last four years that I didn’t see something that made me think of you? I’ve been in love with you for almost a decade and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon.”
Eric tugs on my hand to pull me closer. His free hand strokes my cheek and he softly presses his lips to mine. I rest my hand on his neck, but I don’t push for anything more than the lingering peck. When we break I rest my forehead on his with my eyes closed. Eric feels like home to me.
“You should come over for dinner some night,” he whispers.
“I would love to,” I agree without opening my eyes.
Eric and I end up sitting on the couch catching up and stealing kisses for the next three hours. By the time he has to go home we have a plan for me to come to dinner the following Tuesday. I’m nervous to meet Amelia, but Eric explained that she loves just about everyone and in his opinion I’m going to be her new favorite person.
I figured out tonight that everything happens when it needs to. Eric and I weren’t ready for this four years ago. We both had to do some growing, Eric more than me, but I feel good about this. I like him now more than I did before. I just hope I’m right about this.