The next day, Sookie rises from her bed having barely slept. She’d lain awake in her marital bed flipping between emotional extremes. Anger and hurt were the two main emotions, but others had managed to creep their way in. Guilt was one that surprised her. Why should she be guilty if Bill was the one that cheated? But she felt guilty for letting things get this bad with Bill. Could she have done things differently? Were there signs she’d missed along the way? If she’d been more attentive, would Bill have strayed?
Failure isn’t an emotion but it is something she felt strongly that night. Not only did she feel like a failure because her marriage was ending, but she felt as if she had somehow failed herself.
Shame was another strong emotion inside her. Sookie felt embarrassed for a multitude of reasons. What would their family and friends say? She knew the catty ones would rejoice in the dissolution of her marriage. There were those who’d said her marriage to Bill would never last, and Sookie hated the idea that she would have to face them with a triumphant gleam in their eyes.
But the one thing she didn’t want was pity; she couldn’t handle that.
With the rising of the sun, she’d forced herself out of bed and into the shower. She wanted nothing more than to burrow under the covers and hide from the world, but it wouldn’t do any good. Her problems would still be waiting for her. Plus she wasn’t one to hide from adversity; she faced things head on, plowing her way through until she was on the other side. It’s what her Gran had taught her. She is strong; she is a fighter. Sookie will find a way to get through this.
As Sookie washed her hair and body, she reflected on who and where she was in her life. One of the things Bill had said the previous evening had rattled around in her brain more than anything else.
She wasn’t the same girl she used to be.
Well no offense, but he sure as hell wasn’t the same boy she’d fallen in love with years ago. That didn’t mean she was going to fall on the first available dick she found! People change; it is natural for people to do so.
Hello, ever hear of evolution?
Once Sookie had gotten over her anger at Bill’s veiled accusation, she really thought about what he had said. Was she still the fresh-faced girl of sixteen he’d asked to the Homecoming dance? No, and it is absurd to think she would be. Life has molded her into the woman she is today. However, Sookie realized she didn’t much care for the woman she is today.
Somewhere along the way she has lost herself.
She doesn’t know who she is anymore.
It’s damn time she found herself again.
Like most people, Sookie had let the mundane things of life wear her down. She felt that all she did was go to work, deal with the responsibilities of home ownership, and care for Gran who had fallen ill nearly a year ago due to a massive heart attack. It had been touch and go for a while, but Gran had ultimately recovered. But with any major illness, it had left Adele physically different. She tired easily and couldn’t handle all the chores around her home like she used to. Sookie and her brother Jason helped as much as they could, though it seemed most of the burden fell on Sookie. Jason was a selfish creature and often reneged on his promises. Something always came up.
Usually it involved a pair of tits, she thought derisively.
“I need to get back to being me,” Sookie declares while standing in front of the mirror in her bathroom after her shower. She is staring at the woman in the mirror as if she is a stranger. In a way she is. The only problem Sookie had with her realization is that she doesn’t know who she is anymore. She feels pathetic as she comprehends how narrow her view of the world has gotten. She used to have lots of interests and hobbies; now she can barely remember what they are.
Something else she’s discovered is how out of touch with her friends she is. It used to be that she and her friends would get together at least once a week for a little girl time. Sookie can’t remember the last time she’d gotten together with Tara, Dawn, or Lafayette. Hell she barely knows what is going on in their lives. The little she does know is thanks to her news feed on Facebook.
Fucking pathetic and disgraceful! Tara has been her best friend since childhood; she deserves to be treated better than that. Lafayette has also been there for Sookie since they were younger.
How has she lost track of two people who mean so much to her?
By the time Sookie gets to work, she’s a jumbled mess. She’s full of castigations and remorse. Hopefully work will help distract her from her problems. She needs to focus on something other than the critical examination of her life. Fortunately her job is extremely demanding and her boss is an absolute slave driver!
It’s not even seven in the morning and her boss is already here. “Doesn’t he ever sleep? I was hoping to have a little time to myself before I had to face anyone,” Sookie grumbles as she sees her boss’s car parked in his reserved parking spot. Everyone at their company knows the boss’ car; it’s hard to miss the cherry red Corvette. It screams pompous asshole, which fits Eric Northman to a tee in Sookie’s opinion.
Climbing out of her vehicle with her purse, laptop case, and much-needed venti-skinny-vanilla latte with extra espresso from Starbucks, Sookie stares angrily at her boss’ car. Fucking asshole demanded a reserved parking spot that he could see from his office window and insisted that no one be able to park near him to damage his precious baby. Parking at her job was difficult because it seemed there were never enough spaces due to the construction and renovations the owners were doing to several of the buildings in their office complex. So when Eric Northman had his melt down over a tiny ding that no one could see in his passenger door but him, the maintenance department had made him a reserved parking spot in between two handicap spaces that were separated by those wide handicap access panels. Selfish prick had been Sookie’s thoughts when she’d seen the change in the parking lot happen overnight.
Using her security badge, Sookie walks through the vestibule, past the night guard, an affable man named Bubba who had an inordinate fondness for cats. He’s the crazy cat lady that people always make jokes about. It’s creepy, especially when you consider that he looks like Elvis Presley circa 1975.
“Mornin’ Miss Sookie,” Bubba says with an affable grin and wave of his hand.
“Morning Bubba,” she replies faintly. Sookie barely makes eye contact and keeps her head down as she walks towards the door that will lead to her office. Some mornings she will be polite and listen to Bubba tell her stories about his cats; she gets the sense that he is extremely lonely and tries to be nice to him when others won’t be. Today is not the day for her to be nice and she doesn’t want to encourage conversation by making eye contact.
“You be careful today Miss Sookie. Mr. Northman was a real bear when he rolled through earlier,” Bubba warns her in a whisper as he glances at the door leading to the executive offices.
Unfortunately for her, Sookie’s office is only a few doors down from her boss. She doesn’t know what she’d ever done to him, but Eric Northman has never had a kind word to say to her. He has always found something to criticize, which is especially frustrating for Sookie because she works efficiently and is extremely competent when it comes to her job. How else would she have risen from intern to management in such a short period? Of course there had been those that had grumbled about her rapid success, but no one could complain that she hadn’t earned the job on her own merits. Sookie knows she is good at her job and doesn’t need constant reassurance, but it would be nice to know that her boss appreciates all her hard work. Technically he isn’t her boss; he is the vice president of the department she is in and she reports to Pam Ravenscroft and Pam reports directly to him.
Bill had often asked her why she didn’t leave the company; find a job that appreciated her efforts. Sookie had always pointed out that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. She’s been with this company since her internship in college after her year abroad. Before she had graduated, the company had offered her a full-time position. She’d readily accepted since the company was one of the best in the business. It had been the reason Bill and Sookie had settled in Shreveport when they had both graduated college. Bill had wanted to move somewhere outside of the South, but since Sookie was the first one to get a job offer, he’d had no choice but to settle here especially since her salary and benefits were outstanding. Sookie had worked for nearly six months before Bill had been able to find a job after college. Competition in the field of information technology is fierce, and Bill had refused to lower himself by working for the Geek Squad or anything similar. He was a Compton, and Compton’s didn’t work retail or customer service.
His train of thought had irritated Sookie at the time since they were living together in a one bedroom apartment and she was footing the bill for all their expenses. But she’d been young and drunk on the idea of finally living with the man she loved, making a home as they started their lives together. Her dedication to her job paid off in terms of bonuses, promotions, and salary increases. Sookie never told Bill how much she made because he was old-fashioned and believed that he should be the main breadwinner in the family. It was part of the reason Sookie insisted on separate checking accounts for the two of them, with a joint account to pay for joint expenses. Bill hadn’t been too keen on the idea, but quickly acquiesced when he realized that as long as their joint bills were paid, he could do whatever he wanted with his money. He usually did since he had a fondness for the latest gadgets and video games. They’d gone through three XBox gaming systems in six years because of the red ring of death due to Bill’s constant gaming.
“Thanks for the warning Bubba,” Sookie replies softly with a faint smile as she pushes through the door leading to her office. She doesn’t have far to walk; her office is immediately on the right hand side. The office is actually shared with two other women: Halleigh Bellefleur and Charlsie Tooten. The three office mates are close, so they will know something is wrong. Sookie sets her stuff on her desk with a sigh as she mentally prepares herself to deal with the women. Her eyes land on the two framed pictures on her desk: they are of her and Bill on their wedding day. Sinking down in her chair, Sookie immediately places her head down on the wooden surface. Taking deep breaths, she tries to control the urge inside her that wants to sob like a baby. This can’t be happening, not to her and Bill! Everyone always said they were perfect together. She was the girl next door and head cheerleader; he was the class president and captain of the debate team. Everyone said they were perfect; that they would last forever.
There’s no such thing as forever!
“Stackhouse! I’m not paying you to sleep on the job,” the gruff voice of her boss breaks through her pity party. Lifting her head, she gazes brokenly at the perfect form of her boss. Eric Northman is a man one hundred percent comfortable in his skin. He can wear the most expensive designer suits or a pair of faded jeans and t-shirt with equal ease. Sookie has yet to see the man uncomfortable in any situation. He commanded the boardroom as well as the bedroom if his reputation was to be believed. Eric Northman was a notorious ladies man, rarely seen with the same woman twice. The only exception to that rule was her boss Pam, but everyone knew that Pam didn’t swing Eric’s way.
Sookie is woman enough to admit that Eric is extremely attractive. Who wouldn’t? He’s tall and lanky yet he isn’t a bean pole; the man definitely has muscles. His hair is artlessly styled and that natural shade of blond that people spend thousands of dollars trying to get. He has the brightest blue eyes Sookie has ever seen on a man. It’s like they pierce right to the heart of you and they always seem to be laughing at you. It’s like he is judging you and finding you unworthy of his attention.
But his looks (and his bank account if you are that shallow) are the only thing going for him in Sookie’s opinion. Northman is brilliant, but cold and callous. He rules his department with an iron fist, but the people who report directly to him are fiercely loyal to him, something she’s never understood. He always has to be right, and he rarely praises the work of his supporting team, claiming the credit for himself so that his star rises and those around him does not. If she had to admit it, Sookie would say she despises him. The only reasons she stays at the company are the salary, benefits, and her loyalty to her coworkers.
“I wasn’t sleeping; I needed a minute to gather my thoughts,” Sookie snaps as she begins shoving her belongings inside her cabinet. With a bang, she slams the door closed, but then reopens it to put the two pictures from her wedding inside. She snaps the door closed again, though she is somewhat less forceful so she doesn’t shatter the glass in the frames.
“What’s the matter Stackhouse? Did you and the husband have a fight?” Eric’s tone of voice is goading and it makes Sookie grind her teeth. For some reason, Eric has never called her by her married name and he’s always spoken of her marriage with derision. Sookie had always bristled at his attitude, especially since he didn’t ridicule the other married women in her office. Hell, Halleigh’s name changed from Robinson to Bellefleur a year after Sookie married and Eric always called Halleigh by her married name. For whatever reason, Eric Northman was intent on pissing Sookie off.
Guess it doesn’t matter now. There’s no way I’ll keep my name as Compton when the divorce is final.
“If you must know, we’re getting a divorce. The decision was made last night,” Sookie says hollowly, glaring at Eric while fighting to keep the tears from spilling. Not that I really had a choice in the matter. She doesn’t want Eric to see her cry; he is the last person Sookie wants to see her in a moment of weakness. He will always use it against her.
“Oh.” For once, Eric looks uncomfortable. It is an interesting look on him. It makes him seem almost human; his features soften and there is a genuine look of concern on his face. He takes a step towards Sookie but then stops.
“I’m sorry,” he finally says haltingly and then vanishes from her office door.
What the hell was that about?