His lips were burning. Fervent and aggressive. He was consuming her in a way no one else could.
Her mind swirled when she heard him growl as he nipped her lower lip. Her tongue clashed with his and he let out another low rumble when she arched forward, pressing against the hardness in his pants.
She gasped at the contact and she pushed him gently. Their lips parted in a way that made him grunt in annoyance. She sighed and the arm that was clamped on his shoulder went limp and fell to her side.
“We can’t do this,” she whispered, framing his face with both her hands. She felt the tightening of his jaw against her palms and he seemed like he wanted to punch the brick wall behind her.
Her heart broke a little more at the sight. It had been broken for a very long time.
She wished she could be the same girl in the red dress again. She wished she could be the selfish, wide-eyed girl who ran away with him on the night of Lilith’s 70th birthday.
He swept her hair over her shoulder and tipped his head to the side as he ran the tip of his nose along her bare shoulder. She could feel his breath was warm against the skin on her nape.
Biting her lip she silenced her gasp when his arms slithered around her waist before he whisked her around to face him.
“I need to know that this is what you want,” he murmured, resting his forehead against hers.
She couldn’t breathe. His eyes flicked to her lips briefly, making her pulse race. Lying was part of her nature now. She had been a liar for more than five years that the fine line between the truth and what she had convinced herself to be true no longer existed.
“If you tell me to stop, I’ll stop,” he husked, moving his hands up to cup her cheeks.
Stop, such a simple word, she thought. She could say stop and everything would get back to normal or at least the normalcy she had been accustomed to for half a decade. She could be his sister. The sister he never wanted.
Her head barely shook as she whispered, “Don’t stop.”
“This is it,” he said in a gravelly voice. There was finality in his tone that was daring her to say otherwise. She didn’t negate him. She was done lying.
His mouth crashed into hers and a muffled moan escaped her lips. She helped him off his blazer before she wrestled with the buttons of his white dress shirt. Eric drew back, peeling his shirt off, before he reached behind her and tugged the red silk tie at the back of her neck that was keeping her halter dress in place. The soft cloth slid down without resistance and pooled on the floor. She stepped off the garment as she started backing away toward the bed.
Eric kicked his shoes off as he watched her lie on her back in her black lingerie. His eyes bore promises of unspoken devotion and pent-up desire.
For five long years she yearned for him. Dreamed of the day he could love her again. She should have known that he never really stopped.
The room began to spin when he climbed on top of her and all her concerns faded into white noise. She couldn’t hear anything else. It was like rediscovering a part of her body that she had no use of for a long time – a certain organ that could only beat for him.
“Leave him.” Eric wasn’t imploring. He wasn’t one to beg. He would never beg for anything. “I’m not sharing you with him, Sookie.”
She pressed her lips together into a taut line to stop her chin from quivering. “I can’t.” She could barely let the words out.
“Why the hell not?” If a look could kill, she would be dead by now.
She wished she could tell him the reason why she married Bill. Why she agreed to a loveless marriage? A deal she struck with Bill so she could come home.
“Because I promised him I’d try.” That at least was true.
She had stopped eating croissants for three years.
The mere sight of its flaky crust could make her stomach churn and the smell of the melted cheese on top of it could ruin her appetite.
She used to love it before, though. She loved it so much it was the first thing she asked Eric when he opened his eyes to find her lying beside him, brushing stray hair from his forehead.
“So it wasn’t a dream,” he rasped before snaked his arm around her middle and pulled her closer for a quick peck on her lips.
“I’m hungry,” she said with sultry pout. She knew Eric wouldn’t be able to resist her pout.
He grinned, bending one arm under his pillow to prop his head up. “Want to go downstairs to eat? Do they serve all-day breakfast in a B and B?”
“I don’t wanna go down in my cocktail dress. It’s like the ultimate walk of shame.”
He chuckled, running the tips of his fingers on the dip of her waist. “What do you want?”
“Croissants. Cheese croissants.” She laid her head on his torso, her finger tracing invisible tails with his soft chest hair.
“Maybe they have croissants downstairs, I’ll go check.” He buried his nose in her hair, while his fingers weaved through the tips of her golden locks.
“Already did. I snuck downstairs and asked the innkeeper while you were sleeping. They didn’t have one.”
He scrunched his nose. “What kind of bed and breakfast doesn’t have croissants?”
“This kind,” she whined.
He chuckled. “Alright, princess. I’ll go and get you one.”
She smiled giddily and rolled off of him but he seized her with his long arm and tackled her before she could slide off the bed. “First things first,” he quipped.
“You’re too much!” she squealed, squirming under him.
“Hmm… all this wriggling is making me harder.”
She stopped at once and Eric took it as his cue to grab her leg and drape it around his middle. His deft fingers found the flesh between her thighs and his eyes rolled at the back of his head when he discovered the slickness pooling between her folds.
Reaching for the foil packet on top of the bedside table he geared up for battle. It didn’t take long for them to get into the rhythm and soon his pounding was in sync with her strangled moans. She licked his bobbing Adam’s apple before she started placing wet kisses across his chest. His hips swayed slowly, relishing the feel of her lips on his skin. Then he began picking up speed and every forward thrust was making the old-fashioned bed rock and creak. The headboard started pounding against the wall but she was too far gone to care what the other guests would think.
She was shameless and so was he. They could go to a five-star hotel in the city but they didn’t want to run into anyone who might recognize them so they picked the most secluded B&B in South Pasadena.
They were perverse. A couple of miscreants.
Eric dragged his tongue over her lower lip, teasing her to open her mouth. She dug her nails on his back when he kissed her and she could feel him smiling against her lips. After all these time he could still be so cocky.
When she felt the pressure building up, she clamped her other leg around his waist before she moaned his name as she came. Eric grunted at the tightness around him but he wasn’t done. He rolled his hips gently to prolong her peak and when he couldn’t hold it off any longer, he crushed his mouth to hers and buried himself to the hilt then let himself go.
He fell on top of her, gasping for air. She held on to him. She would hold on to him for as long as he wanted her to. She held on to him for a few more heartbeats, a million breaths more if he would let her.
It took him a good ten minutes before he begrudgingly swung off the bed to get her a fresh batch of croissants. “I’ll be back,” he promised then kissed her clammy forehead.
She was still lying contentedly in the kitchy four-poster bed when she heard an insistent tapping at the door. She wondered if Eric had forgotten his keys and quickly hopped off the bed and draped a fluffy white robe, which came with the room, over her nakedness.
She didn’t bother to fix her messy hair when she opened the door. She knew exactly who would be at the other side. She immediately regretted her decision not to screen her visitor when she found herself face-to-face with a different kind of Northman.
Looking back at that exact moment she wondered if there was something she could have done to alter her fate. Three years later and she still came up empty.
“Your promises mean nothing,” he snarled, his hand on her arm keeping her in place. “Remember all the bullshit promises you gave me?”
She closed her eyes. She couldn’t take his scathing glare anymore.
“You said you’re done running.” His fingers curled around her arm tightly. “Yet here you are again threatening to run.”
“You don’t understand, Eric. I didn’t run away from you,” she choked. “I just ran.”
“Lilith,” she gasped, her hands clutching the front of her robe.
The 70-year-old matriarch with silver hair and piercing blue eyes shoved her inside the room with her wrinkled, jewellery-adorned hand. She gave Roman, his balding chauffeur, a curt nod and he pulled the door close behind the elder Northman.
Sookie could feel herself blanching as she retreated until the back of her knees hit the frame of the bed. Lilith kept eyeing her contemptuously, darting glances around the room, taking in Eric’s black silk bow tie and tailored blazer on the small sofa by the window, and the foil packets of condoms on the bedside.
It was a bloody crime scene.
Sookie kept her eyes low as Lilith advanced toward her.
She didn’t get to finish her sentence when a pale, bony hand flew and smacked her across the face with such brute force that sent her slumping on top of the bed. She cradled her cheek and felt moisture seeping out of the shallow gash from Lilith’s diamond ring.
“I knew there’s something wrong with you. Just like your homosexual sister,” the tall, old woman hissed, tugging the lapel of her robe to pull her up. “Isn’t it enough that my son took you in? Gave you our name? You have to drag my grandson into this blasphemous relationship, too?”
Sookie gripped her robe to keep from exposing her naked form.
“Please, Lilith,” she begged the old woman. “I love him.”
“Love!?” Lilith snarled. “This isn’t love. This is you being greedy. You’re not satisfied with what you can mooch off my son that you want what Eric stands to inherit as well!”
“No!” Sookie yelled which earned her another backhand from Lilith. For someone so old, Lilith still had the strength that could send Sookie reeling. She cupped the side of her face. “I don’t want your stupid money! You can take it to your grave!”
The elder Northman yanked Sookie by her hair and tried to drag her off the bed. Sookie fought her off with one hand while keeping her other hand clutching the front of her robe.
“He loves me!” Sookie wailed as though that would make Lilith stop.
“Is that what you tell yourself when you part your legs for him?” Lilith hissed to her ear.
That hit a nerve. Bracing herself, she hoisted her lower body off the bed and with a sharp jerk of her elbow she pushed Lilith off her. The old woman careened backward before she lost her footing and hit her head against one of the carved wooden columns of the bed before she fell on the hardwood floor with a loud thud.
The old woman’s body went limp as her eyes fluttered. Sookie, shell-shocked, dove to her side as she yelled for Roman.
The hulking chauffeur took one look at Lilith before he barked at Sookie to call 911.
The plump, middle-aged woman in a blue sundress, who owned the B&B, rushed inside the room to snoop and assess the damage made to her room. The commotion attracted attention that the guests couldn’t help but duck their heads inside too. Sookie could only bow her head in shame as she asked the innkeeper for some privacy before she slammed the door shut.
Eric returned with a bag of freshly-baked croissants just before the paramedics arrived to take the unconscious Lilith to the nearest hospital.
Sookie was still shaking when he swooped in to her side and wrapped his arms around her. He didn’t ask what happened. Sookie’s bruised face told him everything he needed to know: It was an ambush.
Lilith had managed to track them down and she had waited for Eric to leave the little inn to confront Sookie.
She managed to keep herself together when they met their family in the hospital. Her mother couldn’t help but weep when she saw the cut on her cheek. Michelle whispered apologies over and over again and Sookie could only bob her head in assent. It wasn’t her mother’s fault. Pam had the opposite reaction as she kept hissing profanities about the unconscious matriarch. Sookie silenced her younger sibling with a look when Godric emerged out of the ICU to give them update on Lilith’s condition. The old woman had a concussion and a broken hip. She was in a drug-induced coma to relieve her from the severe pain. She would be kept under tight watch because her head injury might trigger a stroke.
No one dared speak about what happened. Even when the police arrived to ask a few questions, after the B&B manager reported the disturbance, Godric casually dismissed it as a slight misunderstanding among family members.
Godric decided to stay overnight and Michelle never left her husband’s side.
Eric offered to drive Sookie and Pam back to the manor in Bel Air but Sookie refused. No one argued with her. She knew they were only being polite. Somehow the thought of spending another day in Lilith’s house was hard to digest not only for Sookie. She asked them if she could go back to Seattle with Pam, and Eric was the first to say no.
“Let them, Eric. You’re just making this situation harder than it already is,” she heard Godric tell his son when he pulled him in the corner.
“I’ll go with her,” was Eric’s firm rebuttal.
She heard Godric huff in annoyance and that was when she heard her mother jump in.
“You should stay with her,” Michelle told Eric. “She would want to see you when she wakes up.”
Sookie turned away with heavy steps. Bill was right. When the tornado hit them, it would be Sookie who would be left standing outside.
Bill, who came in later that day in the hospital, volunteered to drive the sisters to the airport.
She didn’t even get to hug Eric goodbye because she was too ashamed to touch him. She trudged across the lobby like she was walking underwater. They didn’t need to say it, the guilt was written all over her face: She almost killed an old woman because she was in love with her stepbrother.