Monday morning rolls around and Sookie is floating on Cloud Nine. Not only did she have a wonderful date with Alcide Saturday night, they’d had their second date Sunday afternoon. Sookie had gone to bed Saturday night, actually early Sunday morning, riding the high of her date. She’d been dreading the entire ordeal, thinking it would be disastrous; instead, it had turned out to be the best first date of her life.
Ok, technically it was the only first date she’d been on. She and Bill had never had a first date; they moved seamlessly from friends to first love. There had never been the awkward getting to know you phase, though the physical intimacy between the two of them had definitely been awkward until they had learned what they were doing.
Though given the kiss Sookie had shared with Alcide, it seemed as if Bill still had a lot to learn in that department. Fortunately for her, Sookie wouldn’t have to experience Bill’s lack of experience in that department any further. She’s moved on to bigger and better things.
Dear Lord did that thing feel huge!!!!!!
When she had woken up Sunday morning, she’d had a smile on her face as she remembered how great her night before had been. That smile only grew bigger as she looked at her phone and saw a text message from Alcide. The message had been from late this morning. In the text, he let her know that he’d made it home OK, that he’d had a great time that night, and how he couldn’t wait to do it again. The thing that had made Sookie laugh out loud, startling the dogs from their slumber on the bed with her, was that he complained about how long the drive home had been and that he’d needed to piss like a race horse.
Seriously, who discusses that stuff with someone they just met?!?!?!
When she’d responded to his message, she’d thanked him again for the wonderful evening and expressed her interest in doing it again soon. She’d even taken him to task for discussing his bathroom habits, though she’d done it in a teasing way. Given that his message came through around 4:00 am, Sookie didn’t expect to hear from Alcide anytime soon. Honestly, she knew guys had some weird three-day rule about communication.
Or if they were like her brother, they never called back at all. And if they were like her father, they tended to become a wife within the span of ten days.
Is it any wonder that man has more divorces than people have fingers on one hand?
Sookie had risen and gone about her day with a huge smile on her face. Not even Bill’s dour presence when he came home early could disturb her. She took care of her dogs, packed more of her belongings, and was arranging to sell those items she hadn’t sold at the flea market she’d done the morning before. So far, Sookie was quite pleased with the amount of money she’d raised by selling her unwanted items through Facebook, selling her unwanted jewelry, and the two flea markets she’d done. She was going to deposit almost $800 in the separate savings account she’d opened for herself. Part of her was saddened to realize she was selling off her life one piece at a time; a lot of things she’d sold had been gifts or had sentimental value related to her life with Bill. However, the other part of her, the new, stronger Sookie shook off the melancholy. She didn’t need all of this stuff moving forward with her life. Granted, she still didn’t know where she was going to end up, but she instinctively knew it wouldn’t be as large as where she currently resides. In fact, she didn’t want a place this big again. The more Sookie looked around the house, the more she hates it because it reminds her of how she’d let herself become something she wasn’t, something she’d swore she’d never be.
Her house with Bill wasn’t a home; she can now honestly say it had never been a home when looking back at it. A home is a place where you make happy memories, a place where you build a life with those you love. That isn’t what she had with Bill. Their house was a status symbol, filled with materialistic items to show off how well they were doing. Sookie never realized it because she’d painstakingly decorated each room, trying to create a beautiful home that was a reflection of who she and Bill were. But how could that be since Bill never actively participated in the decorating of the house? The only room he cared about was his precious man cave in the basement. The house was a reflection of what Sookie’s tastes were, or at least, what other people had thought her tastes were. Now that she was purging the unwanted items from her life, the house was extremely empty. The rooms are bare of any decoration as she systematically removes herself from each room; outlines of where pictures once hung on the walls are prominently displayed. When you walk through the house now, it seems hollow.
The physical appearance finally matches the emotional state of the home.
As the morning stretched to the afternoon, Sookie’s cell phone pinged with a text message. She’d thought it was Tara trying to fish out more details about her date from the night before. Imagine Sookie’s surprise and utter delight when the message was from Alcide. The perma grin that had been plastered to Sookie’s face all day grew to the point that it nearly threatened to split her face in two. And she nearly shouted with joy when Alcide said he wanted to see her that day that he wanted to spend more time with her.
“What’s got you smiling, Miss Stackhouse? I trust you had a good weekend,” Eric Northman states as he leans against the doorway of Sookie’s office. The smirk that used to make Sookie’s palm itch is present on his handsome face. Now she notices how handsome he looks, and wonders how a person’s eyes could ever be that blue.
It’s still strange to Sookie how she’d gone so quickly from hating this man to regarding him as an ally, and more importantly as a friend. Every morning before her coworkers arrive, Eric makes it a point to check on her. Their conversations, though brief, are the support that Sookie needs. It’s comforting to her to have someone in her corner that knows what she’s going through. Yes, Alcide can relate to what she’s going through, and they’ve spent a lot of time commiserating with each other about their respective disastrous situations, but Eric was there first. He had been the one to give her a fighting chance to survive through this.
There is no way she can ever repay Eric for all his help. She feels like a total ass for misjudging him all these years, and had even admitted as much to him. Eric had taken her revelation in stride, smirking and shrugging his shoulders to indicate it didn’t bother him.
But Sookie could tell it did? There was something in his eyes. It had been fleeting but there had been a flash of something, a spark of some emotion that Sookie couldn’t quite catch. She could hear Gran’s voice in her head chastising her for judging a book by its cover and for having uncharitable thoughts.
And now thoughts of Gran have Sookie frowning. She hasn’t talked to the matriarch of her family since that disastrous family dinner, though Gran had tried to contact her every day. It isn’t like Sookie to go more than a day or two without talking to Gran. She knows at some point she’s going to have to clear the air with her grandmother, but it still hurts Sookie deeply that the woman who raised her, the woman she thought would support her no matter what, said she should stay with Bill even though he cheated and doesn’t love her anymore.
“Sookie, are you alright?” Sookie shakes herself from her thoughts and finds Eric staring at her with concern.
“I’m so sorry,” Sookie begins in a rush. “You must think I’m going crazy; smiling one moment, frowning the next. I swear with the way my emotions are constantly changin’, you’d think I was pregnant or bipolar!”
Eric smiles faintly. “You don’t have to apologize. My emotions were all over the place while I was going through my divorce with Yvetta. I remember I was angry most of the time. Pam told me I needed to deal with my anger or else she was going to quit.”
Sookie cocks her head to the side. She knows that Pam and Eric have been friends for years, though they haven’t always seen eye to eye. As much as Pam complains about Eric, she has always stood by his side, so to hear that she was willing to leave him is shocking. “What did you do?”
Eric shrugs his shoulders as he shoves his hands in his pockets. “I wish I could tell you that I handled it well, but I didn’t. I spent a lot of time burying myself in a bottle or whatever woman was available,” he admits with shame. “But one day something happened to wake me up and get me to stop my destructive behavior. I then channeled my anger and started working out more. That’s when I got involved in boxing and mixed martial arts.”
“What happened to make you change your behavior?” When Sookie thinks about it, a lot of her attitude toward her boss formed during the early days of her working for the company. She remembers the days when Eric would smell like stale alcohol and perfume even though he had showered. No matter how much you bathe, it doesn’t completely erase the scent of alcohol; if you drink enough, it begins to seep out of your pores, whether it’s the finest of scotches or cheap rotgut.
For one moment, Eric’s face is completely unguarded. His features soften, and his lips curve in the gentlest of smiles. His eyes alight with a burning passion, the light making them a clear blue color so brilliant that it almost looks pure white. That is the look of a man in love.
Sookie is envious because no one has ever looked at her with that kind of intensity, with that much love. It radiates from deep within, all the way down to Eric’s soul. Bill never looked at her that way. Her relationship with Alcide is fairly new, but deep down Sookie knows that Alcide will never look at her that way either. Alcide’s one true love is his ex; Sookie can tell by the way he talks about Debbie. Sookie hopes she one day finds the person that will look at her as if she is the most precious gift in all the universe; as if she is the missing piece that makes her partner whole.
As Eric opens his mouth to answer, Sookie’s cell phone buzzes. She looks down at her phone and a huge grin spreads across her face; Alcide sent her a message. Instantly, her fantastic mood from the weekend returns. Her fingers itch to pick up the electronic device so she can read what he sent and respond, but she doesn’t want to be rude and answer in front of Eric. First, he is her boss and that would be unprofessional given they are in the middle of a conversation, even if it isn’t about work; second, it’s rude to ignore the person in front of you in favor of your cell phone. That’s a large part of the problem with society today; everyone has their nose buried in their phone or tablet and cannot be bothered to interact with the people around them.
“Do you need to answer that?” Gone is the look of a moment ago and in its place is the mask of indifference that Eric Northman usually wears around the office. His words are clipped, and Sookie can hear the trace of his Scandinavian accent. She knows from experience that his accent only surfaces when he is angry.
“Oh no, it can wait,” Sookie replies as her skin flushes with embarrassment. “It’s just a message from a friend,” she finishes lamely.
Up goes Eric’s eyebrow. “Given your reaction, I’d say it’s from a guy. Family or your girlfriends wouldn’t elicit such a response,” he retorts knowingly.
Sookie lifts her chin defiantly. “So what if it is a guy?”
Eric shakes his head. “Don’t make the same mistakes I did, Sookie. You need to focus on you now; not finding a man.”
“I am focusing on me,” she insists. “I’m focusing on making myself happy for the first time in years. And right now, Alcide makes me happy.”
“What’s got your dick in a knot? I haven’t seen you in this foul a mood in ages.” Pam stands in the doorway of Eric’s office. As usual, she didn’t bother to knock on the closed door, she just barged in.
“Get out,” Eric snaps without bothering to look up from his computer. All day his door has been shut, a sign to all the employees that the boss is in a bad mood and doesn’t want to deal with anyone. People walk quickly but quietly through the hallway, trying to avoid the corridor where his office is. Once he’d yelled at a woman, comparing the sound of her high heels against the linoleum to a herd of elephants stampeding through the African Savannah. If people are having conversations in the hallway, they stop speaking when they are near his office so as not to earn his ire for being too loud. When Eric Northman is in a bad mood, everyone steers clear of him.
Except Pam. She doesn’t give a shit what his mood is like. Whatever he dishes out, she can take it and give it right back.
“Stop being a moody bitch. Is it your time of the month? Do you need some Midol or Pamprin?” Pam walks inside his office, closing the door behind her with a bang. She crosses the carpet to stand directly in front of his desk with her hands on her hips. “What the fuck is your problem?”
Eric slams his fists against the desk in frustration. “My problem? Do you want to know what my fucking problem is?” Eric bolts up out of his chair, his long legs easily closing the distance between them. “YOU are my fucking problem!”
Pam staggers back a step, her look of bitchiness faltering to one of confusion because of the pure venom in Eric’s tone. They have fought with each other many times throughout their history together, but it’s always been like close family members fighting. At the end of the day, they may drive you bat shit crazy but you still love them and will be there for them no matter what. The venom and disgust dripping from Eric’s every word is shocking, and it wounds Pam deeply. She may always seem emotionless and flippant about everything, but Eric Northman is the only person in this world that she truly loves. It isn’t a romantic love, how could it be since he has a penis? However, it is the only relationship that Pam values above all others. She loves Eric deeply and to hear him speaking to hear as if she is his enemy is heartbreaking.
Pam opens her mouth to respond but Eric rushes on, the dam unleashed on the emotions he’s held in check all day. He paces the length of his office as he rambles on. “I know she never would have thought of this on her own without your prodding. She isn’t the type to rush from one man to the next. She isn’t a bed-hopping whore like you. So instead of me finally getting a chance, a shot to let Sookie know the real me, I instead end up once again on the sidelines watching as she ends up with the wrong fucking guy again!”
Pam stares at Eric incredulously, trying to process his emotional rant. After a few moments, her eyes narrow to slits and she stalks over to Eric’s side. “You twat-faced emo bitch! Here I’m worried thinking I’ve done something truly wrong, and you’re in a snit because Sookie went on a fucking date with another man! I hope your dick falls off,” Pam retorts coldly.
Before Eric can volley back, Pam speeds on, poking him in the chest with a perfectly manicured nail to emphasize each point of her speech. “Yes, I told Sookie to get out there and date. The poor girl’s never been with anyone other than that stuffy limp dick asshole she will soon be calling her ex-husband. She needs to live a little; experience new things. Sookie needs to regain the confidence that Bill stripped away from her. Right now, she’s looking for someone to make her feel good, to make her feel desired.”
“What the fuck am I? Chop liver?” Eric mutters his questions as he turns towards the bar on top of the sideboard to fix himself a stiff drink.
Pam lifts her eyebrow again, knowing his mulish tone means the worst of his anger is gone. “Do you really want to be her rebound guy? You know damn well that’s all this guy is going to be. I thought you wanted something more with Sookie than just a quick fling, or did that change?”
Eric swallows his drink, staring at Pam over the rim of the glass. He savors the burn as the alcohol makes its way down his throat to his stomach. “I hate having feelings,” he grumbles as he turns to pour another drink.
Pam’s tough facade slips in a moment of compassion. She places her hand comfortingly against Eric’s shoulder. “I know you want to be her knight in shining armor that will carry her off into the sunset. However, she needs to live, something fuckface never let her do before. In the meantime, continue to be her friend; let her get to know you. As much as you wish it otherwise, you can’t force love to happen. You can’t beat her over the head with a club, carry her back to your village, and have your way with her. This is America, not the Middle Ages. You need to have faith that everything will work out the way it’s supposed it.”
“And if it doesn’t?”
Pam shrugs. “Then you’ll have to let her go, but I don’t think that will happen. In the meantime, grin and bear it. A true friend will be there for her to listen to her excitement and offer advice when needed. Can you be a true friend to Sookie right now and not be a self-centered cunt?”
Eric finishes another drink, setting his glass down with a clink. “Well when you put it like that, what choice do I have?”
“None,” Pam answers with a shrug of her shoulders. She walks back towards the door, knowing that there is nothing she can do while he’s like this. The wind’s been taken out of his sails, so to speak, and all Eric will now do is sulk. Pam has better things to do than watch a grown man throw a pity party.
Before she leaves, Pam turns back to face Eric who’s staring out the window with his hands in his pockets. She opens and closes her mouth a few times, indecisive about whether she should say what’s on her mind. Finally, Pam speaks in a soft, thoughtful tone. “You know, Sookie may never look at you the way you want her to. For years she has viewed you as being a jerk. Though her attitude towards you is changing, you are still technically her boss. Are you prepared to accept that it may not happen between the two of you?”
Eric doesn’t answer Pam and eventually she leaves for the evening. Eric continues to stare out the window long after the sunsets and the moon rises. Pam’s words haunt him. What will he do if Sookie does reject him?