“Shots all around!”
My eyebrow raises at Alcide’s slurred words. Ever since he got here, he’s been pounding drinks like tomorrow starts Prohibition and he won’t be allowed to touch alcohol again. He showed up at the bar tonight without Debbie. According to Alcide, her reasons for staying home were that she didn’t want the second-hand smoke from the bar patrons to hurt the baby, and she didn’t want to subject the baby to such a rowdy environment.
What in the ever-loving fuck was she talking about? First off, it is illegal to smoke inside anymore. Second, and most importantly, what the fuck? The baby is the size of an acorn inside her. It probably doesn’t have lungs yet, and it sure as hell will not be impacted by the shenanigans of drunken idiots. For fuck’s sake! If this is the shit we must deal with while she’s pregnant, I am going to avoid her like she has Ebola and West Nile Virus combined. I can’t begin to imagine the fucked-up shit she is going to force on that kid as it grows up. She will probably give the poor kid some pretentious, douchy name like Bartholomew or Arthur thinking it will make the kid smarter, when it will just make the kid an easier target to pick on. All the neighborhood kids will avoid their house because she will be the overbearing, Stage Five Clinger, helicopter mom. You know, the type of mom that hovers too close over their kids, not letting them experience anything for themselves and yet always suspects the kid of being up to no good.
I pour another round of shots for Alcide and our friends. All our friends showed up tonight, including Tara and JB. I’m not sure who is watching their kids, by the way the two of them are drinking and groping each other, I have a feeling that another kid will be pushing its way into the world about nine months from now for those two. Jason’s been flirting with whatever girl happens to be closest to him, and I know that he’ll end up going home with some random skank. He’s lucky he doesn’t have any rugrats running around with how frequently he plants his seed in any available garden. Meanwhile, Hoyt stares longingly at Jessica, one of my waitresses. They dated for over a year until she broke things off. He wanted to settle down; marriage, children, house with a white picket fence, and a dog. She wanted to be free and have fun since she’s barely legal and still in college.
Everyone raises their shots, congratulating Alcide for finally knocking Debbie up. Before I down my shot, I offer a silent toast to all the kids of my friends, those present and in the future, hoping against hope that the kids turn out normal despite how weird their parents are. My own kids included.
I drop my shot glass on the bar, looking around at my friends. Everyone’s laughing and having a great time. All except one.
Where the hell is Sookie?
It’s nearly ten, and she said she’d be here by nine. If she’s late it’s usually by no more than ten minutes. My phone hasn’t vibrated or lit up to tell me I have a text or voice mail. I’m really starting to worry about her. None of our friends are worried; hell, her own brother isn’t worried.
I’m bent down behind the bar, so my friends don’t see me checking my phone for what has to be the hundredth time in the last thirty minutes. My back is to the bar, which means I’m showing my ass to whoever is standing there.
“Hey Bartender,” a sultry voice says. “How about you pop my cherry between the sheets, giving me a quick fuck and a screaming orgasm?”
I stand up slowly, desperately trying not to put images to the words spoken to me. It’s no good though, because the images have been in my head ever since I woke up. Thankfully, the height of the bar hides the effect the words have on me. I lean down so that my elbows are resting on the bar, and face my tormentor with my trademark smirk, playing the role of flirtatious bartender to perfection.
“Only if I can play with your pink silk panties before giving you a leg spreader while you suck on my dirty banana. And you should never settle for a quick fuck; only the royal fuck will do for you,” I end with a leer.
Sookie’s cheeks turn a delicious shade of pink as her peals of laughter ring through the air. Ever since I opened the bar, she’s teased me by ordering the drinks with the dirtiest names possible. Not to be outdone, I usually respond with another combination of dirty drink names. It’s always been done in good fun, but my mind is in the gutter right now, picturing Sookie and I engaged in one sexual act after another. Fuck! Why is this happening?
“Your late, Stackhouse,” I state with a glare once she regains control of herself.
Sookie shrugs one of her shoulders and I can’t help but notice that she’s caged Blanche and Rose (she named her boobs after The Golden Girls, not me!) between her elbows, giving me a perfect view of her tanned cleavage. I can even see the top of her pink lace bra as it peeks out of her white tank top. I fight not to groan out loud. Seriously, what did I do to piss off the universe today? Is karma trying to get back at me for something I did?
“I would have been here on time,” Sookie begins which draws my attention (barely) away from the girls, “but Gran had a visitor at the house. I didn’t want to be rude by flying out the door, but I should have, because then I wouldn’t have been browbeaten into bring the most boring man in the world with me,” she says with a huff and roll of her eyes.
My eyebrow arches, demanding an explanation. Instead, Sookie tilts her head toward our friends. Standing uncomfortably at one of the tables is a dark-haired man I’ve never seen before trying to talk to Hoyt and JB. The newcomer looks as if he hasn’t seen sunlight in years. I smirk as I take in his outfit; he looks like an insurance salesman. And let’s not ignore the fact he has man bangs. They are so hideous that bears repeating.
“What’s his name? Jake from State Farm,” I snort with humor. The dude is wearing khakis and a red polo shirt.
Sookie grins evilly. “I wanted to stop at Target and see how many people thought he was a Target Team Member, but the store was already closed by the time we got to Shreveport.”
I can’t help laughing. This is why she’s one of my best friends, she gets my humor when most people don’t. While we are talking, I fix her drink. She’s never been a beer drinker, usually sticking to some type of rum. I slide a large glass of Malibu and Coke towards her. “Drink up, you look like you need it. What’s he having?”
“White wine spritzer,” she deadpans before wrapping her pouty pink lips around the tiny black straw in her drink.
I chuckle but begin making the drink. “So why did Gran want you to bring him here? Who is he?”
Sookie shrugs. “Apparently he’s the new neighbor. He inherited the Compton house now that Old Jesse Compton passed away. His name’s Bill Compton. He’s a software programmer from Seattle. He isn’t sure if he’s going to keep the house or sell it.”
I set the white wine spritzer on the bar with confusion. “Ok, but why’s he here?”
“When I came downstairs, Gran introduced us. He asked Gran, not me mind you, if I would be willing to show him around town,” Sookie says in a huff. Her ‘I am woman, hear me roar,’ clearly affronted by this guy’s behavior. “Gran suggested I bring him here tonight, so he can meet new people. How was I supposed to refuse?”
“So, you brought a date?” I swallow hard after uttering the words. My mouth is suddenly dry. It’s not the first time Sookie’s brought a date to my bar, but it’s the first time she’s brought a date to my bar after I’ve been thinking about her as being mine. I’ve never been a jealous man before, but something inside me is changing when it comes to Sookie. I don’t know where this is coming from, but I don’t like it.
Sookie rolls her eyes while sucking the last sips of alcohol out of her glass. She pushes the empty glass towards me for a refill. I oblige her while she speaks. “It isn’t a date. I mean, he thinks it’s a date, but there’s no way I’d date Jake from State Farm,” Sookie says with a snort.
I lean down on the bar again, moving closer to Sookie, and gesture for her to come closer. Sookie’s lips twitch in amusement as she pushes up on her barstool to lean closer to me. My lips curve as I push a strand of Sookie’s hair behind her ear. I let my finger drift down her neck, slide under her chin, and then move my hand to cup the opposite cheek. Sookie’s breath hitches as I pull her closer so that are lips are nearly touching. I ghost my lips along her cheek up to her ear. I know this isn’t a good idea, but I can’t help myself. I’ve thought of Sookie all day. Somewhere along the way I decided I want Sookie to be mine.
“Let’s make sure he knows you aren’t available,
Oh, my dear lord!
I know Eric is just doing this so that the opposite of the Dos Equis man doesn’t think I’m available, but I really wish he wouldn’t. The minute he started brushing his finger down my neck and across my cheek I felt a flood rush out of me to soak my underwear. I made my peace long ago with the fact that I am attracted to him, but nothing will come of it. It’s not just that he’s an attractive man; hell, Eric Northman is probably the most attractive man I will ever meet in my life. He’s always been good looking, even when we were kids, and his looks have only gotten better as he’s gotten older. His body filled out in all the right places thanks to the fact he works out. And like most good-looking guys, he seems to get better every year the older he gets. George Clooney. Brad Pitt. Sean Connery. You can add Eric fucking Northman to that list.
When we were kids, of course I had a crush on him like all the other girls in the school, but he never saw me that way. I was Jason’s younger sister, but Eric never treated me like I was an annoyance to be around. I used to be so awkward and shy in his presence, but somewhere along the way we became true friends. In some ways, Eric is my best friend.
The only problem is I want to jump my best friend and do as R. Kelly said.
But at least I’m thinking about a grown man, not underage children.
“Sookie,” Eric’s voice whispering my name brings me out of my reverie. I smile brightly and then bite my lip and try not to moan as his lips ghost over mine again. Despite my best efforts, a whimper escapes my lips. His trademark smirk is on his lips as he pulls back. I watch him with wide eyes as he moves around the bar to stand by my side.
“Grab your drink,” he instructs me as he grabs the white wine spritzer for Jake, I mean Bill. I grab my full glass and hop off the bar stool. I bite my lip nervously as Eric stares at me like a lion hungering for a gazelle. He’s always stared at my boobs, most guys do, but his eyes are doing a slow sweep up and down my body, and the most delicious growl sounds low in his throat. It makes me shiver, and I bite my lower lip as I stare at him with wide eyes. He slides his free hand down my arm, around my back, settling on my hip to pull me closer to his side. Eric’s lips press a kiss to the top of my head as he guides me to the cluster of tables where are friends are waiting.
“Here’s the drink Sookie said you wanted,” Eric says graciously as he slides the glass across the tables towards Bill. Eric then moves to stand directly behind me, molding his body to my back as his hands ghost up and down my sides. Bill stares at the two of us with a sour expression on his face. He isn’t the only one to stare at me and Eric. Tara gives me a “what the fuck” look, and I shake my head subtly.
How can I tell her what the fuck is going on when I don’t understand it myself?
“Thank you,” Bill says though it sounds as if it pains him to say the words. “I’m not sure if it is appropriate for the staff to be manhandling the patrons,” he says disapprovingly.
“What the hell you talkin’ ‘bout, man?” JB questions Bill, probably because he doesn’t understand the words that have more than five letters in them. God Bless JB, but I have no idea how Tara fell in love with him and had children with him. JB still doesn’t understand why Eric and I sometimes call him Forrest. Tara used to find it funny, but now she gives us the evil eye any time we do it. I hope it turns out like the movie though and that his kids end up smarter than him.
Before Mr. Pissy Pants can respond, Hoyt chimes in. “That’s Eric; he owns the bar. We’ve all been friends for years.”
“’Cept some of us been more than friends too,” Alcide interrupts loudly. He stares at Eric and me with the stupidest grin on his face. “These two,” he gestures wildly at Eric and me, “been in love with each other for years. They’re each other’s lobsters,” he ends with a stupid grin.
Eric laughs as his hands settle on my hips and pull me closer to him. My eyes widen as I feel something pressing against my back. I don’t think that’s a flashlight in his pocket. My fingernails dig into the palms of my hands as I fight against the urge to investigate the gigantic one-eyed monster inside Eric’s pants.
I can hear the smirk in Eric’s voice as he taunts Alcide. “Dude, what the hell is with all the ‘Friends’ references today? Did you turn in your man card when Debbie became pregnant? Is the increase in hormones spilling over to you?”
Everyone at the table laughs except Alcide and Bill. Jason continues teasing Alcide. “I bet he ends up with weird food cravings and his tits will get super sensitive as the months pass. Hell, he might even get the sympathy contractions when Debbie goes into labor.”
“Fuck all of you,” Alcide growls. “I ain’t gotta take this shit! He stumbles away from the tables towards the bar to get another drink. Felicia happens to be the unfortunate bartender that Alcide demands a drink from. Before she serves him, her eyes search for Eric, silently asking if she should serve him. I feel Eric nod behind me. He runs a tight ship here and won’t serve anyone if he thinks they’ve had too much to drink. I don’t know how long Alcide’s been here, but he seems to be hitting the bottle hard and heavy. He’d better enjoy it while he can. Once that kid comes, he probably won’t get another night like tonight until the kid is out of diapers. Knowing Debbie, Alcide will probably be on lock down until the kid leaves for college.
“I did not realize that Sookie was involved. According to Mrs. Stackhouse she is not seeing anyone,” Bill says stiffly.
My mouth opens to respond, but Eric beats me to it. “We’ve been keeping it quiet. This has been going on for a long time. Isn’t that right, Lover?” Eric nuzzles the side of my neck, his breath causing goosebumps to spread over my flesh. His thumbs have worked their way under my shirt, rubbing circles against my flesh. Eric and I have pretended to be each other’s significant other before to avoid unwelcome advances, but it’s never been to this level of interaction. If Eric is faking it, then he deserves an Academy Award for best actor because his performance is one hundred percent convincing.
I feel like a bitch in heat. All I want to do is turn around and throw myself at Eric, knowing that he will be able to satisfy me. I’ve been horny before, but never felt like this. There’s an urgency to the desire inside me, a craving that is clawing at me, shredding every bit of reason and sanity. There are a million reasons why we shouldn’t do this, why we shouldn’t throw away a friendship that’s lasted over ten years.
For a second, I feel as if everything goes silent. All our friends and Bill are looking at me expectantly. Do I refute Eric’s claims and make him out to be a liar and give Bill hope that I’m available? I mentally shudder because even if Eric weren’t here, I would never be available to Bill. Do I confirm Eric’s claims?
I spin in Eric’s arms, reaching for his neck to pull his lips closer to mine. Eric easily moves at my direction and our lips meet for the first time, yet we move against each other as if we have been doing this for eons. His lips are soft and smooth, yet they move confidently against mine. I sigh into the kiss, my body melting against his as he takes advantage of my open lips to suck on my lower lip, raking his teeth against my flesh. I moan wantonly and grip him tighter to me. Eric’s hands shift to grab behind my thighs, and I jump slightly, wrapping my legs around his waist. I vaguely register the cat calls and whistles from our friends. Eric pulls back slightly, staring at me with lust-filled eyes yet he also looks relieved.
“Finally,” he utters so that only I can hear before kissing me again.
I couldn’t agree more.