After Bill’s stunt with the cell phone, Sookie had been in a state of shock. She’d returned to Desmond’s office where the receptionist had taken one look at her and immediately ushered her back to the lawyer’s office. Not only had Bill turned off her cell phone but he had removed her from the car insurance policy too; she’d be without coverage at the end of the month. With the aid of Desmond and his nieces, Sookie not only had her own cell phone plan with AT&T, but she also found car insurance through eSurance. Desmond also prepared a cease and desist order. All further separation of joint accounts, property, etc. must be discussed in the presence of legal counsel. Sookie had been warned by her lawyer that things were going to get worse before they got better.
That had provided no comfort whatsoever to Sookie.
Every night, Sookie tossed and turned in her bed. Millions of thoughts raced through her mind as she fought against sleep. Why was Bill doing this? Did he hate her so much now that he enjoyed causing her misery? What was his endgame in all of this? The Bill she’d seen in the last week wasn’t the man she knew and loved. It hurt her deeply, not only because he was her spouse and inflicting this much pain on her, but because he was supposed to be her best friend. No matter how much people said they understood what she was going through or that they were there for her, no one really understood how she felt. How could they when they weren’t going through it with her? She felt lost and alone, even with Desmond Cataliades and his staff now firmly in her corner protecting her, Sookie still felt isolated. Her emotional well-being took another hit Wednesday when Desmond called to tell her that Bill was demanding they sell the house and that he wanted at least one, if not both, of the dogs, preferably the yellow lab.
It broke Sookie’s heart to think of separating her boys. They may be pets, but to Sookie, they are her children. In her eyes, separating Thor and Loki would be no different from splitting up children, sending one child to live with one parent and the other child to live with the other. It may work in some instances, in fact that may be what the children prefer, but Thor has never been without Loki. The black lab was the elder of the two dogs and had been with Bill and Sookie for a year before they brought Thor into the house. Thor followed Loki everywhere, having gone from the chaos of his siblings when he was a puppy to living in a house with another dog. Being separated from his brother will destroy Thor.
But Bill isn’t thinking of what’s best for the dogs; he’s thinking of what he wants. More importantly, he’s thinking of what will hurt Sookie the most. He knows she loves those dogs more than anything, so this is another way for him to hurt her. Part of Sookie wants to fight him for the dogs, demanding that she keep both, but she knows that is going to be a fruitless endeavor. When Bill sets his mind to something, he refuses to budge, digging in his heels like a stubborn mule.
Fitting since he’s being a total jackass in all of this!
Part of Sookie thinks she is selfish in keeping Loki; she wants the dog for her own comfort and companionship. She also believes that she will be the better caretaker for the boys, but would it be better for the dogs to stay together? They won’t go through any separation anxiety that way, and even if Bill does neglect them, at least they will have each other to play with. The only one hurt in that scenario would be Sookie.
Which is what it seems is Bill’s ultimate goal in everything.
As much as Sookie wants to do what’s best for the dogs, she can’t give up both of them. She loves them far too much to be without both. Part of her holds out hope that one day Bill will call her saying that he’s had enough of Thor and wants her to take him. Sookie instructed Desmond that she wanted it in writing as part of the divorce settlement that if either she or Bill can no longer take care of the dogs, then the other person will get the first opportunity to assume ownership.
These thoughts have rattled around Sookie’s brain for over a week. She’s been looking at Apartments.com and Craigslist trying to find a new place to live since Bill insists on selling the house. It breaks her heart because they built the house together, spent hours agonizing over different cabinet colors, tile, countertops, and carpet. She lost track of how many hours she spent in the paint aisle of Lowe’s, debating the merits of the different shades of green and blue, to the point that Bill refused to discuss paint with her at all. Sookie remembers the day Bill called to yell at her because the color she’d selected for the main floor of their home, sunset nude, looked like dayglow orange instead of the light peach she’d expected. She’d been so embarrassed because the others in the office had been able to hear him clearly through the receiver. There had been little Sookie could do while at work, and she’d gone home that afternoon with a heavy heart, thinking her dream home was going to look like something out of a bad acid trip. When she walked through the front door, she’d been greeted by Tony, the man she’d hired to paint the main level of the house. Tony didn’t speak the best English, but from what Sookie could gather Bill had also taken his ire out on the painter. Sookie apologized profusely but Tony waved her apologies off. Instead, he pulled her into the kitchen and dining area. The paint in that area was nearly dry and it wasn’t the shiny orange Sookie had been dreading but the light peach she had painstakingly picked out. Tony explained in his broken English that they did three coats of paint in all the rooms to make sure it stuck to all the surfaces. As Sookie followed Tony into the living room, she did see the ghastly orange color Bill complained about. Tony hastened to explain that while the paint was wet, it looked brighter, but would dry to be the muted pastel shade Sookie loved. Tony and his partner left shortly after, stating they would be back tomorrow to do touch up work and remove the painter’s tape. Sookie thanked them profusely as they left. Once the door had shut, she’d gone in search of Bill, knowing he’d be in his office. Instead of greeting her, admitting his earlier blunder, or even apologizing for his boorish behavior, Bill ignored her, giving her sullen responses to her questions, if he bothered to respond at all. During dinner, which was his favorite meal in an attempt to appease him, Bill had only shrugged when Sookie asked him if he liked the way the paint looked now that it was dry. Never did he acknowledge his disrespectful behavior nor did he apologize.
It should have been a red flag to Sookie, but she brushed it off, justifying his behavior by saying he was stressed from the move and having to work in the house while it was being painted. How much of his boorish behavior has she brushed off over the years? How often had she defended Bill’s attitude to others? More importantly, how often had she let him dictate their life? Thinking back on it, he had alienated her from almost everyone she loved, friends and family alike. The only people Bill ever wanted to do anything with were his friends, his family.
Be honest with yourself, Sookie. Bill hasn’t been the man you loved in a long time. He’s not affectionate; hell, when’s the last time he initiated any kind of intimacy? Bill wouldn’t even hold your hand when walking in public! He’s treated you like a burden for a long time. He would act annoyed when you spoke to him. If you called him, he’s rush you off the phone, IF he even bothered to answer at all. Half the time he ignored your emails and text messages. Do you even remember the last time he said ‘I love you’ without responding to you saying it first? Here’s a better question:
When’s the last time you said ‘I love you’ to Bill and meant it?
It was Sunday evening when that epiphany had hit Sookie and it made her sit up in her bed. Of course she loved Bill; he was her first everything! They had years and years of history together; a house, dogs, and they had even planned to start a family.
You need to have sex to start a family, her subconscious reminded her. When was the last time Bill could be talked into having sex? Sookie had to stretch her memory to remember the last time her husband reciprocated her amorous advances. Even as teenagers, Bill had never been one of those guys that wanted sex all the time; Sookie had a more active sex drive then he did. And Bill had always made her feel like something was wrong with her for wanting sex as often as she did. He often commented that it wasn’t ladylike, implying there was something wrong with her for wanting sex as often as she did. Bill was not adventurous at all when it came to sex; his idea of adventurous was having sex somewhere other than the bedroom.
Because the living room is oh so more adventurous than the bedroom.
Sookie had to snort at how snarky her subconscious is, but if you can’t be honest with yourself, who can you be honest with? Thinking back to the question, Sookie knew the second to last time she’d had sex with Bill had been sometime the previous summer because she’d been wearing her favorite sundress. The sex had been OK; nothing earth-shattering, but she’d had an orgasm before Bill had finished. Sex with Bill was predictable because she knew all of his moves. She knew that once Bill came, he’d collapse on top of her with his face buried in her cleavage. Before he’d climb off of her, he’d suck on her right nipple and then hop out of bed to clean up because he didn’t like the mess of bodily fluids associated with sex.
Clearly Bill was not a fan of oral sex, but that hadn’t bothered Sookie. If he wasn’t willing to perform oral on her, then that wasn’t something she was going to do for him.
Tit for tat in her opinion.
And speaking of tits . . . she’d often wondered why Bill’s finishing move during sex was sucking on her right nipple. What the fuck was the difference? Was her left nipple not good enough for him? Sookie was pretty sure they were the same; it’s not like her left nipple was misshapen or a weird color. But things like foreplay had gone out the window somewhere along the way, and Bill rarely touched her breasts before or during sex. The only time someone played with her nipples was when Sookie took matters into her own hands.
Like the last time they’d had sex.
Sookie recalls their last time together vividly. It still angers her to this day. They had been in the basement watching television. Sookie had tried to get Bill to go upstairs to the bedroom, but he pushed her back down on the couch. He hadn’t bothered with undressing either of them, only pushing their pants out of the way. Bill hadn’t kissed her once. He was rough with her and it had been extremely short, even for Bill. Sookie had felt like a mare with a stallion rutting on top of her. And he finished before her, which wasn’t unusual, but instead of helping to get her off, he’d gotten up quickly, saying his knees and back hurt. Sookie had lain there dazed for a moment, not believing what had happened. When she heard Bill going up the steps to the kitchen, she’d hopped up furious. He’d treated her no better than a whore; a hole for him to use, nothing more. When she confronted him about it, he’d shrugged her off, acting like nothing was wrong.
The floodgates opened and one revelation after another crashed over Sookie. It was nearly three in the morning when she fell asleep, but for once, she slept peacefully until the alarm went off. She wasn’t rested by any stretch of the word, but she felt better than she had in days. She hurried through her morning routine, wanting to get to work quickly because there was something she needed to take care of. When she pulled into the parking lot, she let out a sigh of relief at seeing the shiny red Corvette belonging to Eric Northman. A mere week ago, she would have rolled her eyes and thought uncharitable thoughts towards him. But today she is grateful to the man; she is indebted to him for looking out for her when she’d been too shell-shocked to do anything but mope. If it hadn’t been for Eric Northman’s seemingly high-handed antics, how much worse off would she be? Sookie shudders at the thought. Once she sets her stuff in her office, Sookie shores up her courage before walking the nearly two dozen steps it requires for her to reach the vice-president’s door.
The door to the office is open. Eric Northman is standing with his back to the door, looking out the windows at the rising sun. Sookie cannot help but think that the light creates a golden glow around him, making him look like an angel. She’s never denied that he is a good-looking man, but somehow his looks suddenly make her uncomfortable. Sookie is looking at him with the eyes of a single woman, a single woman who hasn’t experienced the touch of a man in a very long time.
Suddenly feeling uncomfortable, Sookie clears her throat loudly and knocks against the door to announce her presence. Eric turns to look over his shoulder, his hands shoved in the pockets of his pants. He turns around slowly, quirking his eyebrow in silent inquiry.
Clearing her throat again, Sookie takes a step into the office. Time to pull up my big girl panties, Sookie thinks sardonically. “I wanted to thank you for what you did,” Sookie begins.
Eric interrupts her before she can continue. He leans against the chair behind his desk, folding his arms along the top of the plush leather chair. “And what did I do?”
“Mr. Cataliades,” Sookie answers confidently. “When I spoke to Desmond, he said he had been waiting for my call. He said that you called him, asked him to represent me in my divorce case.” Eric opens his mouth to respond, but Sookie isn’t finished talking. “He said that Bill had called him asking for a consultation, but his office turned him away because of a conflict of interest.”
Eric had been about to deny his involvement, but hearing Sookie mention her estranged husband makes him growl angrily. “I never did like that bastard,” he says viciously.
Sookie laughs quietly. “I’m beginning to share your sentiment.”
Eric smiles faintly after hearing Sookie’s words. He straightens up and walks around the desk to stand in front of her. He again puts his hands in his pockets as he bends his head to be closer to her. “Are you alright?”
“I will be, thanks to you,” Sookie admits quietly. She lifts her head and looks at Eric and her eyes shimmer with unshed tears. “I can’t ever begin to thank you enough for what you did. Why did you do it?”
Eric swallows and looks uncomfortable after hearing the slight tremor in Sookie’s voice. “I know what it feels like to have someone you loved try to take advantage of you when you are at your lowest. It’s hell on Earth. I didn’t want you to have to go through what I did.”
It’s Sookie’s turn to smile faintly. On impulse, she crosses the few steps that separate them and leans up to kiss Eric on the cheek. “Thank you,” she whispers when she is back on her feet. Being close to Eric, she could smell his cologne. It’s not a fragrance she is familiar with, but it reminds her of the ocean on a cool day. She could also feel the heat of his skin and the hardness of the muscles hidden by his clothes. In that moment, Sookie doesn’t see Eric Northman as her boss. She doesn’t see him as the infuriating man that she’s despised for years. She sees him as a man, an attractive one at that. She turns and flees before she does something she’ll end up regretting.