Bill Compton knew sometimes a great story wasn’t the noisiest one – the one everyone was talking about.
Most times it started with a whisper.
He didn’t think so before because he had no patience to lurk and wait for that hushed rumbling. It was a grave misuse of his time.
Patience was one virtue he truly lacked. He didn’t like it when his editor took longer going over his article. He was a senior reporter for christ’s sake, his copy should be sent straight to proofreading and layout, ready for printing.
He hated it when players and coaches were taking so long get out of their dugouts for the post-game interviews. Sons of gods, they thought of themselves when in fact they were nothing but spawns of bitches making Bill’s life a little more miserable every minute they kept him waiting.
He didn’t like being put in the wringer for anything. Until he met her.
As a reporter, he had a knack for spotting beefy news. He knew where to find a good lead and a different angle. He had a way to get all the necessary details to weave a story into a seamless latticework of words.
That was how she caught his eye.
The newest addition to the Northman clan, who was gliding down the grand staircase of the hotel ballroom like a true aristocrat.
She was in the most elegant yellow gown of tulle and lace that made her sparkle with every blinding step she took. Her golden hair in a loose chignon, wispy strands trying to break free. He was certain those come-hither strands framing her heart-shaped face were part of her guise, just like the timid smile she granted everyone looking up at her as she made her entrance. Her eyes swept the room, darting from one face to the next, sparing the guests a fleeting glance. She bobbed her head ever so gently, almost imperceptibly, when she was introduced as though she was entitled to a greeting or even a curtsy.
She was every bit a Northman.
Only that she wasn’t. Not really.
And for that alone Bill disliked her at once.
William “Bill” Compton wasn’t born into money like most of his friends who lived in Bel Air. Those were old money. The Compton’s dollars were greener, newer. Nouveau riche was the term their supercilious neighbors used when they gossip about the Comptons behind their backs.
But he didn’t mind. It could be worse. He could be poor.
For as long as he could remember, he only had one genuine friend in the west. Someone who wasn’t as stuck up as most of the boys in his age group. It was Eric Northman, the only grandson of the elite socialite Lilith Catarina Northman, the heiress of the packaging empire from Sweden.
Eric, who was two years his junior, was the blue-eyed boy with the golden hair and the megawatt smile who could make every girl swoon. Even the sophisticated women, who prided themselves for their prudence and refinement surrounding his grandmother, were smitten with Mr. Boy Wonder.
Eric was his grandmother’s source of pride. Every year, Lilith would throw lavish parties for his grandson’s visits. The parties were constant hit with Eric’s peers, including Bill. It seemed money was a potent social lubricant no matter how young or old you were. The juvenile gatherings morphed into decadent galas and the gifts were modified from limited edition race car toys to actual luxury vehicles that Eric very rarely used.
Bill never missed an event thrown in the honor of the golden boy even after the Comptons moved out of Bel Air to live in a less prestigious neighborhood in Pasadena.
William Compton Sr., who made a fortune in managing hedge funds, was forced into retirement after he succumbed to early dementia. Bill’s mother, Cecilia, decided to settle into a retirement house with her husband in Dallas for people with early-stage dementia and Alzheimer’s, leaving Bill alone in California.
Bill, unlike his father, had no patience for numbers. He took Journalism in UCLA and worked in the Los Angeles Daily Times as correspondent for a year before he got promoted to regular contributor.
Once word got out that the Comptons were no longer part of the glitterati, Bill’s friends started to avoid him like a leper with syphilis.
Except for Eric.
Eric might be immature and egocentric at times but he knew how to keep himself grounded. He valued loyalty and friendship. It was probably because his father, Godric, never raised him with such hubris.
The festivities in the Northman’s palatial manor halted abruptly for two years when Eric hit a rebellious phase and went on a two-year expedition across the Atlantic. For reasons unbeknownst to Bill, Eric cut everyone off including Lilith after his father remarried.
So when Bill received the all too familiar ivory stationery with an embossed N, he knew that his bastard of a friend had returned and the drought was over.
It came as a surprise to him when he found out that the celebration wasn’t for Eric. It was for Lilith’s adopted granddaughter Susanna, Godric’s stepdaughter, who would be turning 18.
Now, as Bill watched Susanna command the crowd, he couldn’t help but feel a tinge of envy toward her. It wasn’t her fault, just like it wasn’t Eric’s fault that Bill found them lacking.
He wouldn’t admit it to anyone but it was hard to be this close to a Northman without wishing ill for them. Envy, it seemed, was Bill’s favorite sin.
Susanna was every bit the princess she was deemed to be as she made small talk with the people she had never met before. She was a revelation with her quick wit and stately gestures. However, Bill was harder to impress. There was something terribly wrong with the picture she was trying to paint.
It was too perfect.
He knew somewhere behind her ethereal persona there was a secret she was trying to obscure.
Whatever it was, he would soon find out. He waltzed to her side and asked her for a dance. Like the dutiful hostess, she accepted the invitation with charm that Bill had seen on Lilith many times in the past. That must be it, Bill thought, she was nothing but Lilith’s marionette.
Susanna was beautiful from a distance but as he held her close – close enough to smell her delicate scent and see the amber specks around her pupils – Bill realized she was otherworldly.
They were in the middle of their dance when he suddenly felt her grow rigid in his arms. He expertly twirled her around so he could look over her shoulder to find the source of her unease.
He should have known.
“He sure knows how to make an entrance,” Bill murmured sardonically as he zeroed in on the six-foot-four blonde in black pants, moss green v-neck and motorcycle leather jacket. “He must not have gotten the memo that it’s a black-tie event,” he jested, while watching his arrogant friend swagger from the double white carved wooden doors toward the presidential table where his family was seated.
There it was again, that sharp pinch of jealousy.
“He got it. He’s just making a point,” Susanna answered crisply, without sparing Eric and his pretty redhead arm candy a glance.
Bill recognized Eric’s escort as Sophie Anne Leclerq, the petite print ad model who was also donning the same outfit as the golden boy.
Eric, hands in his pockets with his patented lopsided smirk, paused beside Lilith and gave the silver-haired matriarch a chaste kiss on the cheek while blatantly ignoring his father and his new stepmother.
With a hand at the small of Sophie Anne’s back, he nudged his date forward to stand in front of his grandmother for scrutinizing purposes. Lilith, with flawless poise, gave Sophie Anne a half-smile while her eyes picked the redhead apart.
Bill almost snorted. The Northmans certainly knew how to turn awkward situations into a ridiculous charade. Eric lifted his head and twisted slightly to scan the phalanx of appropriately dressed guests. His eyes found Bill and Susanna on the dance floor and if Bill weren’t watching Eric closely he would have missed the coiling of muscles around his jaw.
“Your brother’s giving us the look,” Bill whispered as he pressed his palm firmly on the debutante’s back to dictate their slow tempo.
“He’s not my brother,” she hissed uncharacteristically as she seemed to have forgotten the role she was playing. She sighed audibly before she drew away from Bill. “This is lovely, Bill. But do you mind if I excuse myself? I’m not used to wearing heels and my feet are killing me.” Her polished smile was back on.
“Of course,” he said with a courteous nod before he ushered her back to her seat.
The debutante never danced again. She stayed beside Lilith, thanking the guests who paused and greeted her. After a while, she moved to a corner table, one that would hide her from Lilith’s prying gaze. Bill decided he wanted to get to know Susanna more as he pulled up a chair next to her and offered to join her in her misery.
“I’m not miserable,” she tried to deny. “I just want to get drunk and I don’t want my mom to watch me while I do it.”
“Fine. Then I’ll be providing libation for the birthday girl.” Bill turned on the charm. And he was rewarded with a feeble smile.
By the time they finished their Dom Perignon she became less brooding and more pleasant toward Bill. A few male guests tried to flirt with her but she wasn’t inebriated enough to indulge them. Their glasses clinked as they talked about Bill’s childhood in LA and she would fall silent every time he would mention Eric.
Bill could sense a story brewing. He just needed to follow the lead.
They ordered another bottle of the expensive bubbly and downed it like water. Two bottles seemed to have done the trick as she started to loosen up. She would charmingly throw her head back and laugh at Bill, who would do impressions of Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino.
There seemed to be a divine drunkenness in her one could only read on Fitzgerald’s books. And Bill found himself intoxicated in her rather than the spirits he was imbibing.
Bill was taken aback when Eric paused at their table and introduced Sophie Anne midway through their third Perignon. Bill, ever the gentleman, planted a kiss on the redhead’s alabaster hand, while Susanna only bobbed her head in recognition.
The story Bill detected earlier was writing by itself. He could smell jealousy from miles away. He was familiar with the scent since he wore it all the time.
Eric murmured something to Sophie Anne and the beautiful redhead nodded and walked away. With his palm flat against the table, Eric lowered his head to Susanna as he wedged himself between Bill and the debutante.
“I think you’ve had enough,” Bill heard Eric whisper-hiss.
“Not quite. I can still understand your mumbling,” was her verbal bullet.
“You’re embarrassing yourself,” Eric snarled and Bill swore he saw goosebumps prickle her outstretched arm when Eric’s lips grazed her earlobe.
“Oh don’t worry, big bro. I think you’ve provided enough entertainment for our guests for tonight with your dramatic entrance,” she quipped while tapping the lid of her empty flute with her manicured finger. Bill quickly obliged as he reached for the bottle inside the ice bucket and circled the table to pick up her empty glass.
“What did you call me?” Eric growled, inching closer to her.
From his place behind Susanna, Bill spied a single vein throb on Eric’s forehead and even in Bill’s intoxicated state he could still feel his blood chilling at the sight.
“Now, now, let’s not get carried away here,” Bill interjected, turning his head in the direction of Sophie Anne, who was back by the bar with her dirty martini. With a sharp nod he called her back to help him diffuse the growing tension between the Northmans. Sophie Anne sauntered back to Eric’s side, hooked an arm around his and pulled him away while Bill topped up Susanna’s flute.
With a final glare at Susanna, Eric pivoted and let Sophie Anne whisk him away back to the liquor counter.
Bill heaved a deep sigh. That almost escalated to a full-on screamfest. He wanted an exclusive story, not a breaking news that everyone could hear about. He waited for her to calm down. She didn’t take another sip of her drink after that so Bill thought, in a way, Eric still won.
Their conversation resumed and he was amazed at how easily she regained her composure. Every now and again Bill would throw a glimpse in Eric’s direction and he would see his friend glowering at them. In another time that kind of stabbing look would have made him cower and shrivel, but not tonight. Tonight he would have what Eric would never have in this lifetime.
An hour later, Susanna stood up and excused herself from Bill as she made her way out of the ballroom. He knew where she was going, the question was would Eric follow her?
With a discreet sideway glance, Eric trailed her with his eyes. Not a minute later, Bill saw Eric stealthily walk out of the reception hall and into the cedar gazebo where Bill was certain Susanna would be.
The rustic pavilion was the centerpiece of the garden behind the hotel’s dance hall. It was also the perfect rendezvous point for someone with a secret as big the Northman stepsiblings.
Bill crept behind one of the animal topiaries near the dimly-lit pavilion where he could have a front-row seat in the showdown between the lovers who could never be a couple.
“I didn’t know you’re back from your trip,” Bill heard her greet Eric. “So nice of you to join us.” Sarcasm, what a delicious tone, Bill mused.
“I’m here to support the family,” was Eric’s equally icy response. “Isn’t that what you want?”
There was brief pause and Bill could see her hands grip the wooden railing tightly with her back to Eric.
“Sophie Anne? Really, Eric? Can you go any lower?”
“What’s wrong with Sophie? She’s hot. She’s nice. She laughs at my jokes. And she’s not pretending to be my sister.” Eric leaned against one of the wooden columns of the gazebo, hooking his leg up at the railing. Smug bastard, Bill thought.
She huffed. “Y’know, if you don’t want to be called brother then stop acting like one,” she bit out.
Eric’s cool façade crumbled almost immediately as he turned to her. “Call me brother again, Sookie, or so help me god I will -”
“What?” she challenged, twisting to the side to face him. “You’d treat me like I don’t exist? You’d go and date all my friends?”
“Is this what this is? Is this why you’re flirting with Bill?” Ouch, that hurt, Bill mused dryly.
“Oh, nonono! You cannot go high and mighty on me, Eric.” She raised her finger and waved it back and forth. “Not after you’ve paraded all those women in front of me. Sophie Anne, Maudette, Jessica. Even Tara! Tara, god, that was a low blow. You know she’s my best friend but that didn’t stop you from going after her.”
Eric was lost for words. Susanna turned away and grasped the railing for support again. Her shoulders were heaving and Bill wasn’t sure if she were crying or just shaking from rage.
“Will you ever stop hating me, Eric?” she asked softly after a while.
With her back to Eric, she didn’t see how Eric’s hand vacillated behind her, as though he wanted to touch her but knew for a fact that he couldn’t.
After a while, Eric seemed to have decided to end his misery as he made his slow retreat and stepped off the landing and onto the stone steps. Without looking back at her, Bill heard Eric mutter, “I’ll stop hating you when you stop being a hypocrite.” He paused, his shoulder sagging. “Enjoy your party. It’s one of the perks of being a Northman.”
Bill pressed himself closer to the manicured bush when Eric passed him by. The sound of Eric’s boots grinding against the gravel on top of the stepping stones faded followed by the barely discernible thunk of the glass door swinging in and out.
Bill peeked at Susanna. She was still visibly shaken and he gave her a few minutes to collect herself before he stepped out of his hiding place. His foot got caught between a loose vine crawling around one of the decorative trellis causing him to half-stumble toward the pavilion.
“Bill!” she exclaimed, stepping backward.
“Susanna.” He bowed like a gentleman should in times of utter mortification.
He saw her wipe the corner of her eye with the pad of her middle finger.
He swayed to her, steadying his wobbly footing. “I heard everything,” he started solemnly and quickly doubted his move when her eyes narrowed into angry slits in an instant. He raised his palms up to her in surrender. “Your secret’s safe with me.”
Her lips thinned. She was no longer the ‘hostess with the mostest’. “Do you think I’d give a damn if you tell anyone?” She slid forward, the hem of her yellow gown gliding across the teak floor. “It’s our family’s worst-kept secret, Bill.”
“Everyone knows?” Bill inquired with an arched brow. “Even Lilith?”
She sucked in a sharp breath. It was as easy as setting a mouse trap, Bill thought, thoroughly pleased with himself. Sooner or later the mouse would fall for the cheese.
“You’re in love with him,” he stated confidently. And when she didn’t deny it he went straight for the jugular. “You can’t love him, Susanna. He’s your brother, whether you like it or not.”
“You don’t think I know that?” she gritted, clutching the intricately embroidered side of her dress.
“Just don’t let yourself forget. Because when you do and it blows up, guess which Northman will be tossed away covered in shit? I’ll give you a clue. It rhymes with Susanna.” That was Bill’s parthian shot before he left her alone that night.
What Bill didn’t tell her was in all the years he had known Eric that was the first time he had seen him care so much about anyone it was almost a shame. It was the first time Eric wasn’t stupidly, contemptibly happy.
And Bill liked it.
Her visits to California had turned into a tradition. One that Bill always looked forward to.
Susanna, or Sookie as Bill later called her, along with her sibling, Pam, would go to Los Angeles every summer to spend the holiday with Lilith. Eric never made an appearance, though. He had surrendered his grandchild duties to Sookie and Pam as he jetted off to Morocco or Tuscany or Santorini or sometimes when he wanted to keep it local, Las Vegas, to spend his vacation.
As far as Bill knew, the distance between Eric and Sookie only grew wider. While Eric was earning his MBA in Wharton, Sookie stayed close to home when she went to Washington State University for her BA in History. Lilith had been very vocal with her dislike regarding Sookie’s course. It was very limiting, she stressed, but Godric was always willing to back Sookie up.
How could Godric not support his stepdaughter? It was Sookie’s consolation prize for giving up Eric.
Bill had taken it upon himself to be Sookie’s tour guide whenever she was in California. It didn’t take long before he started to discern what Eric had seen in her. Her physical attributes were a given. It was her personality that struck him the most.
She was fiercely opinionated. One time there was a mentally-challenged caddie, who kept handing the wrong club to Stan Davis – Bill’s editor from the Daily News – when they were out golfing in the country club. On the seventh hole, Stan had had it with the incompetent staff and started lashing out at the poor caddie. All of them including Bill could only watch in uncomfortable silence as Stan belittled the boy. It was Sookie, Bill’s company for the social event, who stepped in and defended the caddie. It almost cost Bill his job but when Stan found out that she was a Northman, the seasoned editor eventually backed off.
Sookie and Bill got into a terrible fight because of that. She didn’t want to use her name for anything. And Bill swore never to make the same mistake again. He knew all too well why she despised being a Northman.
She was loyal. To Pam. To her mother. Even to Godric and Lilith. But most especially to Eric. Bill had hinted on many occasions how much he liked her but Sookie would dismiss his feelings as sheer infatuation. Bill would think next year would be different. However, three years went by and she still kept him at arm’s length. Bill was starting to doubt if he ever stood a chance of replacing Eric. He wanted to slap some sense into her. Make her realize that while she was pining for Eric, the bastard had already moved on.
Of course, Bill kept track of Eric’s social life or, more accurately, sex life. He knew the slew of women Eric had when he was off to wherever hell he was while Sookie kept eluding the dating scene.
But it wasn’t as though Bill had taken a vow of celibacy for her. Hell, no. If Eric could have his share of whores, why would Bill be any different? Actually, he was different from Eric because Bill would not do his whoring in plain sight. Eric might have no chance with Sookie anymore, but Bill still had strong shot.
It was the spring of 2010 when Bill saw his opening. Lilith was going to throw the party of the decade for her 70th birthday. And all the members of her family would be present. Including the elusive golden boy.
That was the Hail Mary shot Bill was gearing up for. His gameplan was pretty straightforward.
Eric would predictably bring another trophy girlfriend to give Sookie the middle finger and hopefully she would finally see what a lowlife Eric had become. Bill would gallantly swoop in to console her and the rest would be history.
Simple yet so brilliant.
The appointed evening came. Bill was dashing in his tuxedo, suited up for the battle ahead. However, as the hours flew by with no sign of Eric nor Sookie, he started to get nervous. What if they were meeting up somewhere?
The cold finger on his spine warmed up when Eric showed up, late as usual, but dreadfully alone. Damn it, he was also wearing a tux. Probably one that cost a whole lot more than his.
Bill sprinted to catch up with Eric at his usual spot by the bar. He almost shuddered from Eric’s murderous glare when he asked him if he had seen Sookie.
“Do I look like her sitter, Bill? Aren’t you her boyfriend?”
Bill’s eyes widened. That was why Eric was so cold. He thought they were together. Fantastic.
“Forget I asked,” Bill said offhandedly, waving his hand in the air. He had a feeling Sookie was somewhere within the vicinity.
He marched out of the ballroom with purposeful strides on the way to the garden behind the hall.
Jackpot. There she was, right there at gazebo, where he found her three years ago, sitting at one of the black rattan patio chairs overlooking the vast lawn.
“I knew I’d find you here,” Bill said as he sauntered casually in her direction.
“I need some air,” was her succinct response, while keeping her gaze fixed on the trellis that surrounded the gazebo.
“Eric’s here,” Bill mumbled, taking the seat next to her.
She nodded. “I saw him come in.”
“You can’t keep avoiding each other.”
“I’m not avoiding him. I’m just not sure I’m ready to face him yet.”
Bill studied her closely. There were half moons under her eyes from the shadows of her thick lashes as she kept her eyes low.
“Did you know I have a garden in Seattle?” she cut him off. “Every spring I’d sit on our porch and watch my roses all day. I have the most beautiful roses.” She took a deep breath as she retained her thousand-yard stare. “Pam would tell me to pick them up so I can bring them to my boarding house in Pullham. But I never did. I didn’t want to. I just want to watch them grow because I know once I pick them they’d wilt and wither in a vase. And I don’t want that. I want them to reach their peak. I want to miss them when I’m not home.”
Her hand flew to wipe her glistening cheeks. “Sometimes I’d miss my roses so much I just pull over at the side of the road and turn the car around. Then I’d take a deep breath and remind myself ‘They’re still there, Sookie. They’ll be waiting for you when you come back.'”
A strangled sob escaped her lips that Bill wondered if she were still talking about her silly flowers.
“But that’s not true. Winter will come and the cold air will suck the life out of them. And they’d be gone. Replaced. Forgotten.”
She shifted in her seat and her mobile phone slid off her lap. Bill bent to pick it up and saw what was on the screen. It was Eric’s facebook page. She was scrolling through the images of Eric’s last trip to Greece. The bastard was all smiles at the beach, in his white gauzy polo and khaki pants.
“I’m sick of missing him while he was so busy trying to forget me. I’m sick of watching his life through pictures and I’m sick of loving him while he was out there loving someone else.” She buried her face in her palms. Bill peeled himself off his chair and moved behind her. His hands ran up and down her back, careful not to wrinkle her red halter top dress.
The sound of gravel grinding together jolted Bill and he wasn’t entirely surprised when he found Eric standing a few steps from the cedar gazebo. Sookie slowly lifted her face from her hands to look at the newcomer and Bill felt her breath hitch at the sight.
“Can you leave us alone, Bill?” Eric said in a low voice.
Bill straightened his stance and jutted his chin defiantly. “I don’t think that’s a good idea, Eric.”
Eric locked his gaze on Bill as he stepped on the teak landing. “I’m not asking for your opinion,” he gritted, marching forward until he was only a foot away from Bill. “Leave us.”
Bill dropped his gaze on Sookie, refusing to balk. Sookie patted his hand on her shoulder gently. “It’s okay, Bill,” she hushed.
Bill glowered at Eric one more time before he released his grip on her and walked out of the gazebo. He might have left the gazebo but he would be damned if he would leave her alone in the garden. When he was certain Eric wasn’t watching him anymore, Bill ducked behind one of the thickly draped trellis. It was time for another lurking.
“Is it true? What you told Bill about me,” Eric started glaring down at her as she swiped her cheeks carefully so as not to ruin her make-up.
“Does it matter?” she mumbled, refusing to meet Eric’s scathing look.
Bill saw Eric go around the chair and clamp his hands on her arms to pull her up from the chair. “Will you stop deflecting!”
She didn’t try to wriggle out of Eric’s grip as she craned her neck to engage him in a staring match. “Did I make it easy on you, Eric? To forget me? To get over me?” she asked in a hushed tone that was almost inaudible to Bill.
Eric’s hands fell limply. “Get over you?” Bill heard him ask incredulously. “Do you honestly think I’ll ever get over you? You bailed out on me when you let my dad adopt you. You could have fought for us but you’re so concerned on being the obedient child.”
“What would you have me do? Throw a fit like you? Get mad at her for loving a Northman when that was exactly what I was doing?”
“So you chose to break me instead.”
Bill almost felt sorry for Eric but tried as he might he couldn’t. Eric had everything laid out in front of him since birth. Bill learned early in life that not because he wanted something, he could have it. Eric should not be an exception.
Bill’s self-indulgent musings screeched to a halt when she spoke again.
“What can I do so you can forgive me? You’re so mad at me for so long that I don’t know how to make it okay between us anymore,” she whispered. Her shoulders quaked and Eric pulled her flush against him. She clutched the front of his white dress shirt and buried her face to his chest to silence her sobs.
Eric stroked her hair as he hugged her. If Bill had any decency, he would have left them right there and then.
But Bill had no rationale left. Not when he was this invested in Sookie.
Crouching behind thorny vines, Bill could feel the needles pricking the sole of his right foot. He shifted his weight to his left as he kept his eyes trained on the couple who weren’t. The sight was needlessly melodramatic, Bill thought. He wondered how long he had to wait before Eric would pull away and leave her alone, just like the last time.
Bill’s magnum opus was unfolding right before his eyes. The characters were so closely tied together they were almost drowning in their pitiful hopelessness. The plot so predictable Bill thought it was a waste of time. But the finale… yes, the final scene made the atrocious plot almost redeemable. Because Bill was certain he would be there when the velvet curtain dropped, wrapping the female protagonist in his arms.
He darted his eyes to his shoes to make sure he wouldn’t get stuck in another stringy climber and stumble like the last time when he emerged like a Knight after Eric disappeared. No loose vine, check.
He raised his gaze back to the pavilion and stilled.
His brain froze in a scream as he watched Eric glide his treacherous hands across her bare back to her nape. She tilted her head to him and it took every ounce of Bill’s self-control not to leap out of the bush and pull Sookie away from Eric. He didn’t know who made the first move but the next thing Bill saw was Sookie flinging her arms around the bastard’s neck as Eric fisted his hand in her hair.
Eric’s free hand moved down her waist to pull her closer against him.
No. Bill shook his head, his fingers tightening around the squarish space of the trellis. This wasn’t supposed to happen.
He saw Eric drew his head back and rested his forehead against hers. “Don’t fight me anymore, Sookie,” Bill heard him murmur in a fucking raspy voice of his.
Say no, goddamit, Bill pleaded. Tell him you can’t stand him, Bill yelled mutely.
He held his breath when Sookie cradled Eric’s face in her dainty hands and whispered, “I love you.”
Stupid, lying whore, he chanted to himself, willing himself to believe his own words. But he knew better. She wasn’t lying. He was. He had been deluding himself that he could eclipse the golden boy with the damning smirk.
He forced himself to look away when Eric swept his lips over hers.
Bill slumped on the gravelly ground and he didn’t give a damn if they heard the muffled noise he made. He doubted those fools would even hear a meteor crashing beside them.
The clacking of Sookie’s heels and the thumping of Eric’s leather shoes jarred him out of his stupor and he crawled backward when he saw the detestable pair scamper out of the gazebo. They didn’t go through the entrance of the ballroom, though. Eric reached for the door at the other corner of the garden that would lead them to the parking lot.
Bill scrambled upward and fished for his own set of keys. He followed them as they make their way into Eric’s flashy red corvette and zoomed far away from the hotel. He trailed closely behind them as they checked into a cheap Bed & Breakfast in South Pasadena.
Degenerates, Bill muttered under his breath before he twisted the wheel to drive back to Bel Air.
They would pay for their sins, Bill would make sure of that.
The party was almost done when he reached the reception hall. He fixed his eyes on the silver-haired old woman perched on top of her farcical throne.
That wasn’t the conclusion Bill was aiming for. He would get his perfect ending even if he had to rewrite their tale. They were sorely mistaken if they thought this was a love story.
He reached the head table where Lilith was located, grand as always with her condescending gaze. She spared Bill a glance before her eyes roamed the massive room, probably searching for Eric and Sookie.
Bill thrust his chin up. He realized he hadn’t given Lilith her present yet. What could be a more fitting gift than his opera magna? The one story that would bring Eric and Sookie on their knees.
That was how Bill started spinning his tale. It all started with a whisper.