Chapter 7 – Just a Kiss
Sookie could tell he was getting mad and she struggled to have him calm down. She was talking into his ear about just trying to walk away since the reporters were at City Hall for some other reason. Instead, her mention of City Hall reminded him of the contract negotiator in the Mayor’s office, Desmond Cataliades. He had his number in his mobile phone and was relieved when he answered.
“Desmond, this is Eric Northman. We met in November while working on film contracts.”
“Yes, I remember you Mr. Northman. Is there a problem with our contracts?”
“Not with the contracts, no. I do have another problem and I was hoping you could help me out. I have been walking around town today, and came to City Hall. Unfortunately, there are reporters here, I have no car at City Hall, and now I’m a bit trapped since they recognize me. Is there any way you can help me out of this situation?”
“Hang on Eric, I’m sending some of the City Hall guards out now. Do you have a car in town?”
“Yes, parked at Arch and 12th.”
“They will get you into City Hall, I will meet you.”
Good to his word, two City Hall guards came out and helped Sookie and Eric into City Hall. Mr. Cataliades met them and drove them out using the underground garage. Eric and Sookie thanked him for his help and got into their car.
Sookie was shaking; Eric was seething, so they just sat in the car for a few minutes before starting out.
Once on the road, Sookie asked the questions that Eric feared. “Is it like that for you all the time? How do you shop, or take a walk around town?”
“Sookie, I’ll be honest. I’m followed when I’m out in LA some of the time; most of the time they just take pictures. When I’m out with someone, they get a bit more aggressive which is what happened today. Even though they weren’t paparazzi, they were interested in me because they have heard about the film in Philadelphia; the real draw was you. Since, as you have noted before, I don’t date long term. That makes the person I’m with extra interesting. I’m sorry that happened. I never thought we would find ourselves trapped without a car or other exit plan.”
“Eric, it’s not your fault. It was a bit scary though. Maybe we can talk about something else?”
“Ok, good idea.
“What made you want to be an actor?”
“My father started me in the business early; commercials and later some modeling. I did a few guest spots on TV, and was lucky to get noticed and received more offers. Once my fame started to grow, I was able to offer Pam a position on my personal staff as my Stylist. This enabled us to stay close.”
“Eric, that’s how it happened, but not why you wanted it to happen, is that something you can talk about.”
Eric was silent for a few moments. He knew what she meant the first time, and that standard answer usually worked and folks did not get into anything further. He wasn’t upset now, it all turned out fine, but he hated his father at first. Could he share that? With Sookie, he decided he could.
“My father was behind the start. Even from LA, he had his manager working to get me in commercials, ads and eventually TV shows. At this point, I can’t see myself doing anything else, so I’m not unhappy at the result. Honestly, though, I did hate my dad for controlling my life when he wasn’t even around to be part of it. Working as an actor when I was young was just another part of ‘regular childhood’ that I missed.”
Sookie took his hand from across the seat and held it. “Thank you for sharing that with me. I should say I’m sorry I pushed, but I’m not. It means something to me that you would share part of your life with me like you did in the kitchen the last time you visited.”
The rest of the ride home was comfortably quiet. Sookie continued to hold Eric’s hand running her thumbs across his skin. They stopped at Russell’s to pick up the kids and were invited to stay for dinner. They told the gang about their visit to the Reading Terminal Market and then the run-in with the reporters. Hearing that, Russell jumped up to turn on the news. Normally TV was a no-no when they were eating, but he wanted to see if they were on any of the local stations. He even set the DVR to capture as many other local TV shows as he could. Sure enough, about half way through the news, a reporter came on talking about the events at City Hall. The reporters were there about a local budget and union issue, waiting for the outcome of the meetings when they spotted Eric and Sookie. Sookie was mortified to see herself cowering into Eric as the reporters threw questions at them. Russell realized his mistake at turning the show on after seeing Sookie’s face. He turned it off and they quietly finished dinner. Bart and Russell assured them that helping to clear the table or do the dishes was unnecessary, and they departed to get the girls home early for basketball the next day.
After the girls were in bed, Sookie found Eric in the family room. He had been reading when she joined him on the couch. Waggling his eyebrows, Eric said, “You know, I didn’t get my first date kiss earlier.”
“You said no hanky panky.”
“Sookie, a kiss is hardly hanky panky. Now come here.”
Oh she was nervous. She hadn’t kissed anyone since Sam, well except quick smooches for the girls and pecks for others, but that wasn’t what he had in mind, and she knew it.”
She scooted over towards Eric and he closed the distance and put his arms around her. He bent down to her face and she looked up and their lips met. His tongue was asking for entry and when she opened her mouth, he devoured her. He gently grabbed the back of her head to hold it to his. Her hands started moving down the front of his chest and she could feel the muscles beneath the shirt.
Eric was restraining himself and being good, very good. She tasted wonderful. She was warm and soft and he was having trouble remembering this was only supposed to be kiss. He would keep the promise to Sookie – and to himself for that matter to take this slow. Her touch was starting to excite him too much and he pulled back, ending with a few sweet pecks on her mouth and her nose. Sookie just sighed in contentment.
Sookie admitted, “That was my first kiss since Sam died” Eric turned to her with a guilty look and tried to apologize but she cut him off. “I didn’t finish my sentence, Eric. It was wonderful, thank you.”
“Well, there is more where that came from.”
“I know, that’s why I’m going to leave you now, I don’t even trust myself.”
Eric chuckled and got off the couch to help her up. “I think I’m supposed to walk you to your door.”
“Am I supposed to invite you in to see my etchings?”
Eric’s reply was cut off by his ringing phone. He looked at the caller ID and it was Pam: ever the killjoy.
“It’s Pam, I better answer, since I haven’t spoken to her since Tuesday. Goodnight Sweet Sookie.”
“Hello Pam, how are you?”
“Victor and I want to know who the girl is.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“In Philadelphia, you managed to get on film with someone. You were warned to keep your playboy ways out of Philadelphia until the filming is over. Was that Sookie?”
“Who the hell are you to call me and expect answers? Did you see anything inappropriate? How did you learn about this so fast anyway?”
“Well, in addition to the reporters, or maybe it was one of the reporters, someone filmed the two of you and posted it onto YouTube. I have an alert set-up for such postings and was notified. But no worries Eric, the news was also picked via syndication and is also playing in LA, so your reputation as a manwhore is safe out on this coast as well. WHO. IS. SHE?”
“It is Sookie Merlotte as you suspected.”
“Will there be a problem?”
“NO PAM. We have become friends; you know this. We simply spent the day visiting Center City. Would you like to move on and discuss something else? Do you and Victor have the publicity meetings scheduled?”
“You’re changing the subject on me? Fine, let’s talk about the publicity plans and meeting.”
Eric finished with Pam on the phone and headed off to his room for bed. He couldn’t sleep. He was touching his lips remembering the kiss. He was thinking about how much he enjoyed holding hands as they walked the city streets. While he hated that she was scared by the reporters, he loved how Sookie leaned into him like he was shielding her. Mostly, he worried that the incident with the reporter would scare her off before they even had a chance.
Sookie was also waiting for sleep to take her, but it would not. She was also thinking about that kiss and how it awakened feelings she hadn’t had in years. Her lady bits were burning and she wanted more, but was still afraid. She had to be strong until Thursday when he left, and then he would be out of her mind and no longer a temptation. Of course, when he returned in March, he would be staying at the B&B, and would be very close again. She was going to have a full house since Alcide, the director Godric, and two co-stars, Lafayette Reynolds and Freyda would also be staying at the B&B as part of her contract. She had to cut back on some of her usual weekend reservations to accommodate those members of the cast and crew, but she still had rooms booked almost every weekend in the spring. Yes, she would be busy when he returned and would he, so maybe she and her lady bits would be safe.
The weekend was a typical weekend. Since January business is typically slow, Sookie took no reservations. “I hate losing my whole weekend to have only one or maybe two couples staying at the B&B, so we can do whatever we want this weekend.” She informed Eric while they were in the kitchen preparing breakfast side by side.
He raised an eyebrow, “Anything?”
“ERIC! No hanky panky or hanky panky talk when the girls are around. Behave!”
“I don’t like to behave.”
They spent the day together, Eric, Sookie and the girls; pee-wee basketball, lunch out and a bit of shopping. When they returned home Bill’s car was in the driveway.
“Dag burn it!” Sookie exclaimed. “Girls, go to your room for some playtime, OK?”
Eric turned to Sookie, “I’m going to be with you when you meet with him.”
“Yes, I want that.”
They exited the car as did Bill. “Bill, what can I do for you?”
“Sookie, I came by to meet with you yesterday and discuss some of our new customers. Jessica informed me that you were gone for the afternoon. How can you be so irresponsible to just pick up and leave during the work week?”
“Bill, let’s go to the office and discuss this.”
“Fine, you can leave lover boy out of it.”
“No Bill, I’ll certainly be joining you and Sookie as you talk.”
“This is InnKeeper business; there is no need for you.”
“I either join you, or you leave, now.”
They settled into the office; Sookie behind her desk with Eric (he had moved a chair) and Bill in front of the desk.
“Now Bill, you were saying something about my being irresponsible? I’m not quite sure I agree. I completed all the new customer kick-offs I had scheduled last week. I completed a new section of code for the room security enhancement we discussed, and Jessica is currently testing it. What do you think I missed while I was gone for about 5 whole hours yesterday?”
“You were gone for longer than that. You left at 12:30 and did not return until just after 7PM. What are you hiding?”
Eric was concerned that he knew those details. “How the fuck do you know the times we were gone?”
Bill realized he slipped and was quiet for a moment and said, “Jessica told me when you left and I happened to drive by when you were returning home.”
“Bill, this sounds like stalking behavior. I’m calling John to report you.”
While Eric started dialing Sookie spoke to Bill. “To clarify I meant I was gone for 5 hours during business hours. You mentioned I left during the work week that was how I framed my answer. Now, before John arrives, can you tell me what new InnKeeper customers you signed on? The note from Jessica said ‘Bill stopped by to discuss something about InnKeeper’. Without details, I cannot really help you further here.”
“Does a business partner really need a reason to come to the place of his business? I’m not stalking you Sookie, John’s trip will be wasted.”
“Bill, you never work out of this office and you know it. Now, tell me about the customers so I can schedule the kick-offs next week.”
Bill proceeded to provide the details to Sookie and shortly into the conversation; Eric left and returned with Police Chief John.
“Sookie, Bill, how are you today?” John asked.
Sookie responded, “I have had better Saturdays off. Did Eric explain why we called you?”
“Yes, there is no evidence that can allow me to arrest Bill, but I’ll report the concerns.” He turned to Bill, “Don’t look so smug over there. If I hear more information like this it will establish a pattern and I will work to help Sookie. In the meantime, if you are done with your InnKeeper business, I think you should leave Bill.”
“I have a right to be here, the business I half-own is operated out of this address.”
“OK Bill, then sit down and work. That would be the only reason you have to stay. I think I’ll just sit here and watch you work.” John said and he sat in the chair next to Bill, and raised his eyebrows expectantly.
A very angry Bill got up and left the office and the house. Sookie let out a breath and thanked John and Eric for their assistance.
“Sookie,” John started, “I think you should talk to Russell about all this. I’m certainly going to help you as much as I can, but he hasn’t broken any laws, and the damn address of InnKeeper being your home address is a huge hurdle. We have to find a way around that. I’ll see my way out.”
Eric pulled Sookie into a hug once they were alone. “I just don’t know what to do about this Eric.”
“We’ll call Russell. Maybe he can make time on Monday to investigate our options. Now, let’s get dinner started. I’m getting hungry.”
Eric enjoyed cooking very much. Pam wasn’t much of an eater, so he found little reason to cook, he more ‘assembled and heated’ or ordered out. ‘Maybe I like it so much because of the company.’ Sookie also welcomed the companionship in the kitchen and they had dinner ready quickly.
“Is tonight movie or game night?” Eric asked while they were clearing the table.
“Both?” Eleanor tried.
“It’s Saturday night, no school tomorrow” added Maura.
“Tell you what,” Sookie started. “You guys pick and movie and set-up a short game while I clean the kitchen. Get into your PJ’s so you’re all ready for bed when the movie is over.”
They all started their tasks and met in the family room. Go-fish (princess edition) was set up on the table and Cars was in the DVD Player. Two hours later, Sookie and Eric were carrying the girls to bed, they didn’t make it through the entire movie. Girls tucked in, they returned to the family room, put in a different movie and snuggled together on the couch. The movie ended, but neither of them budged.
“I could get used to all this snuggling. You’re very comfortable.”
“I like serving as your cushion.”
“I should go to bed. How about a lazy day tomorrow? I’ll even skip church; we can just hang out around the house?”
“Sounds good. Do I get a goodnight kiss?”
“Are you going to behave?”
“Never.” He leaned in to start the kiss and Sookie was happy to join in. He laid her back on the couch and broke from the kiss on her mouth to place soft kisses on her chin, he neck and he chest. Sookie’s breathing hitched at the attentions.
‘His kisses are wonderful. I wonder what else would be wonderful with him. Did I just think that? Crap, he is wearing on me.’
‘I have to stop now or I won’t stop. Stop, Northman.’ He repeated to himself several times until he finally did stop and moved to get up. Sookie whimpered and he chuckled. “We need to go to bed Sookie.”
She raised her eyebrows.
“I mean, we need to separately go to our rooms to sleep. Have a goodnight.”
Ever the nosey friend, on Monday, Russell cornered Sookie in the kitchen and started in on Sookie right away. “What’s going on with you and Eric?”
Sookie could not contain her smile. “We might not just be friends anymore.”
“SOOKIE! Do tell! Are you sleeping together?”
“NO! Just kissing. Don’t we need to talk about the Bill situation?”
“You are no fun. Let’s go to your office. Will Eric join us?”
“He is in the office already doing some work.”
They reviewed the most recent situation with Bill. Russell was concerned about their options, but committed to investigate and get back to Sookie and Eric as soon as he could.
Both Sookie and Eric had work to do, so they dove in and only took a break for lunch and then stopped for the day when Sookie left to go to the Girl Scout meeting. She took her car this time knowing Amelia would kill her if Eric came into the meeting again. Instead of going out, Eric cooked dinner for them. Sookie had never felt so spoiled. He even did the dishes while she helped Maura with her math homework. Snuggling with Eric in the evening was now a regular occurrence, and they both enjoyed ending the day together. Eric had never moved so slowly with a woman before. ‘Anyone else and we would be fucking already. Hell, anyone else and I would have fucked and moved on. For some reason, snuggling, kissing and cold showers are keeping me content. I don’t want to leave on Thursday.’
Sookie had another busy Tuesday due to open mic night prep. Even though she wasn’t running, Sookie was still up and working by 6AM. Jessica always started late on Tuesdays so she could stay and help close up the Barn after open mic was over. That left Sookie with extra InnKeeper work before she could start cooking. Eric found her in the office about an hour later. He explained that the one RV they ordered early was being delivered today so the contractors could check final specs for electric and septic hookups. “Do you care which site we use for this RV?”
“I haven’t thought about it. How about we take a walk out there after the girls are on the bus, will that be early enough? Oh my, I forgot the time; I need to get them woken up!”
With that she was gone to the girl’s rooms and Eric continued down his to-do list. He had three full days and was confident he could complete everything and still enjoy open mic night. Sookie called for breakfast about 30 minutes later and Eric joined them. He enjoyed breakfasts in the kitchen, rather than the guest dining room. He wasn’t sure how to handle his desire to eat with Sookie and the girls in the kitchen when the other cast/crew came to stay in March. Technically, guests did not ‘hang’ in the kitchen or the family room for that matter. When Sookie and the girls entered the kitchen he asked. “Sookie, when the rest of the crew is here and we have several staying at the B&B, will you need Alcide and me to act as regular guests? Should we stay out of the kitchen and family room? I don’t want you to think you need to invite all the special guests into your private area, but I would miss Finding Nemo and Princess Monopoly with you guys.”
“Well, from my perspective, you’re welcome anywhere I my home. The other cast staying here; would they have a problem with the situation? I’m sure they are all very nice, but the kitchen and family room are not large enough to accommodate everyone all the time. Do we address it formally, or will you and Alcide just sneak in and not say anything.”
“I don’t sneak! I’ll just discuss it with the others when we all check-in in March. As far as everyone being nice, you may want to rethink that comment after you have met Freyda. Godric is eccentric, but Freyda is a bitch.”
Sookie glared at him for his language in front of the girls and he whispered an apology.
Eric took the girls to the bus stop so Sookie could clean up from breakfast (and to make up for cursing in front of the girls) and they met up to decide on the site for the new RV. They were only into the woods for a moment when Eric spun Sookie around and dove in for a searing kiss. She gasped and he took the opportunity to invite his tongue into her mouth. With one arm around her waist and the other in her hair, he leaned her back and pulled her tightly to him at the same time.
‘God’, she feels so good he thought. ‘I could barely control myself at the kitchen table’.
Sookie felt the same way. She had wanted to reach out to him as soon as he walked into her office this morning but she refrained, even staying behind her desk to keep herself away.
Once they needed air, he stopped and looked down, “Now I have said a proper good morning. I can’t believe I was able to wait almost an hour and a half for that.”
Giggling, Sookie said, “Should I make you an award? Longest time waitin’ to keep your tongue out of my mouth perhaps. Come on, let’s get this site decided, I have tons to do before I can start cooking for tonight.”
They made their site selection and each went back to work separately, but not without some additional smooching.
Sookie finished her work in the office and headed to the Barn to start cooking for open mic night. She was greeted by Jessica and another woman. Jessica explained that Eric had hired this woman, Holly, to help Sookie prepare, serve and clean-up for open mic night. Sookie graciously welcomed Holly to her kitchen and started both ladies on the day’s menu while she prepared to go have a talk with a certain high-handed guest. Before she could leave the Barn to find Eric, he had joined them. “Outside, now!” Is all Sookie said as she pointed to the door.
Once outside she started ranting and raving about the extra help. Eric just let her go on until she ran out of steam then he spoke. “Sookie, this is my last open mic until I return in March. I wanted to enjoy the evening with you, not watch you run back and forth between the kitchen and the dance floor.” Knowing that Sookie enjoyed his touch, he used it to his advantage by moving closer and rubbing his hands over her back. He could see her start to melt at the action.
Sookie’s anger abated after a moment and she finally spoke. “Eric, that’s sweet and I appreciate the sentiment. I even like surprises, but please remember that this is about my B&B business, so can we discuss stuff like this if the opportunity comes again – instead of shocking me with a new person in my kitchen?”
Eric nodded in reply then offered, “Sookie, is this our first fight, should we kiss and make-up?”
‘Oh Lord, there go the eyebrows – waggling at me again. How am I supposed to keep up with this man’s advances?’ “I don’t think so Eric, we are teetering closer to hanky panky at the rate we are going. How ’bout we just save up for another goodnight kiss for later? Meanwhile, I have to get ready; go on and let me cook.”
Once open mic night started, Sookie was happy to have Holly’s help so she could sit at the table and enjoy herself for once. Again, Russell, Bart, Tray and Amelia were there. This week, Sylvia and her husband, Neil also joined the gang and Sookie introduced Sylvia as her friend and the architect who had drawn all the designs for the B&B improvements. They enjoyed the food and shortly after finishing dinner, open mic started. Sookie left the group to sing and play with the makeshift band. They started with some Pink (So What), and kept the beat high finally ending with a haunting Angel by Sarah McLachlan. When she joined Eric back at the table, Eric was speechless. ‘How could she be real; a beautiful, smart businesswoman and mother with musical talent?’ He was rock hard just thinking about it and he was thankful the tablecloths covered his bulging erection. He needed to think about Bill for a few minutes to help will it away.
The iPod loaded with dance music started and he grabbed Sookie and headed for the floor. They moved well together, and he intended to enjoy many dances since it would be a few weeks before he returned. They were finishing their third dance when Eric saw her enter the Barn and he stilled. Sookie turned to see what had caught his attention. Selah. “Shit” they both said at the same time.
Selah sashayed over to Eric and Sookie and asked to cut in. Eric, not hiding is disdain, said “actually, we have been dancing for a while and were about to sit down.” They practically ran to their table leaving Selah on the dance floor.
To make matters worse, Bill now approached the table. “What the hell?” Sookie asked nobody in particular. ‘He never comes to open mic nights.’
“Sookeh, how are you this evening? I see you have a quite a crowd here. I’m surprised you’re out here and not working in the kitchen.”
Sookie smugly replied, “Eric wanted me to enjoy myself this evening so he hired a student from the Philadelphia Culinary Institute to work in the kitchen. Wasn’t that sweet Bill?” Sookie knew she was playing with fire, but she could not resist teasing Bill who was increasingly becoming a thorn in her side.
Bill clenched his fists and his face contorted getting ready for his response when they were interrupted by a disturbance behind them. “Sookie, what the hell is so special about you?” Selah questioned with a drunken slur. “First you’re married and have Bill drooling all over you. Now even though you’re single you won’t go out with him – yet still, he pines away for you. No matter how often I tried with Bill, he could never want me over you. Now you have a movie star following you around. How have you, a simple, fat, country bumpkin from nowhere Louisiana, captured the attention of all these men? You couldn’t even keep your husband satisfied, he came to me for that, but he wouldn’t leave you. Tell me your secret!”
Sookie quietly but firmly responded to Selah, “I think you should leave. We have families here; children who do not need to hear your stories.” She looked to Amelia and silently nodded towards the kid’s table. Amelia took the hint and brought them to the B&B to wait.
Since Selah had gotten louder as she spoke, she now had the attention of her father, also in the room and sitting with the Police Chief. Roger Pomfrey bellowed, “Selah, we are leaving now.” He came to collect her and go.
Eric leaned and whispered into Russell’s ear as Selah and her father left. Bill was still there but Eric calmly grabbed Sookie’s hand and led her out of the Barn to the B&B. Instead of the family room, he took her to his room. She was surprised but Eric explained, “Russell said that he and Bart would put the girls to bed. I thought you might need some quiet time. I can go as well if you want.”
“No, please stay. Can we sit on the couch?” Once seated, Sookie sat quietly for a few minutes. Finally she shared her thoughts on Selah’s comments. “She must have been pretty drunk to finally unload like that. I have always wondered why she seemed to hate me. I remember that she and Bill dated for a while, back when Sam was still alive. I never really asked what happened, but she moved to New York City about 4 years ago and I just figured they had different goals for their lives. As far as having an affair with Sam; she came onto him and I guess I put blinders on and didn’t care even though I was seeing some signs of an affair. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Sam, I did. I miss his friendship and the girls miss their father. But, the truth is I miss the man he was when we first married; the marriage wasn’t the best when he passed away. I never really did stop feeling guilty about that. I don’t know what you must think of me. You have been here a week and have seen more drama than some of the movies you star in.”
“Sookie, I would hope my movies have more drama than this.” Eric said, trying to lighten the mood. He at least got a small smile for his efforts. “Do you think a bit of drama would change things between us; make me not want my goodnight kiss? I was promised after all.”
“Do you think everything is about you?” Sookie chided, and Eric started to panic and backpedal, until he saw her smirk. Knowing she was starting to feel better, he pulled Sookie onto his lap for a kiss. It started out soft, but grew as he grabbed her waist to move her closer to him with one hand, the other holding the back of her head to bend her to his will. She didn’t fight it. She opened herself up for the kiss and moaned. One of Eric’s hands remained behind her head while the other started softly touching from her leg, up her side and landing on one breast; stroking and teasing through her shirt. Her breathing changed to pants. She knew this was more than she should permit, but his touch felt so good. She could feel his arousal growing, and from what she felt, he was big. She had to stop this, but she wanted more.
Eric wanted more too. He returned his hand to her waist, not to stop the tease to her breasts, but to start anew; pulling her shirt from her jeans allowing his hand up her bare tummy. Growling as he roughly pulled aside the bra cup and assaulted her hard pebbled nipple, pinching and pulling. Sookie continued to moan in pleasure and started to grab his shirt when he came to his senses and stopped her (and himself as well). “Sookie, we have to stop. I want to continue, but this has been an emotional end to this day and I don’t want you to have any regrets.”
Knowing he was right, she fixed her bra and stood from his lap. He stood also, intending to walk her to her room, but she stopped him and said her goodnights from his door. “Will I see you in the morning for a run?”
And with one final peck, she was gone, leaving Eric to start a cold shower.
Sookie was in no better condition when she got to her bedroom. She had even used the guest exit on the B&B side to walk outside the house to her private quarter’s entrance. Sure, she could have walked indoors, but she wanted, no needed the cool January air for help. Once in her room she realized the walk did not help. This lust was something she had not felt in years. It was increasing for Eric by the day. She thought to herself, ‘If he hadn’t stopped, I’m not sure I would have. The question is would I have regretted it? Just a few days ago I would have been angry, but now, now I’m not as sure.’