Eric lost his virginity when he was fifteen.
The day Sookie Stackhouse kissed Dawn Green was the same day he popped his cherry.
He could still feel Sookie’s breath on his cheek when she pulled his face down only to tell him he could do some much better. Yes, he almost bobbed his head. I deserve you, he almost whispered. But before he could utter a single word she was already halfway across the yard.
He was motioning to follow Sookie when Dawn, the girl he had been seeing for a few tedious weeks, stomped in front of him with a scowl.
“What the fuck was that?” she spat, hands on her hips.
“What?” he asked innocently although he knew exactly what it was: He almost kissed Sookie Stackhouse, and the disappointment on his face was unmistakeable.
Dawn snapped her lips shut. That single action drew his eyes to her mouth. Her full lips were smeared with her blood-red lip gloss. He gulped hard, recalling how Sookie crushed her lips to Dawn’s. He wondered if he would be able to taste Sookie in the brunette’s mouth. He decided he wasn’t going to waste another second wondering as he seized her elbow and clashed his lips with hers. He could hear hoots and snickers behind him but he couldn’t bring himself to care.
It wasn’t the first time he had made out with Dawn but it was the first time he truly enjoyed doing it. It might be because it didn’t feel like he was kissing the hot brunette with the flaming red lips. If he closed his eyes he could imagine she was the feisty blonde with the brain of an encyclopedia.
Dawn was so impressed with Eric’s aggressiveness that it earned him an invitation to her room that night. Since Dawn was living with her aunt, who owned a popular watering hole in the Metro, he knew what Dawn’s invite actually meant: He was about to get laid.
He was interested with Sookie, sure. But he wasn’t about to turn Dawn down. He was a teenager with a raging libido and Dawn was more than willing to cater to his needs.
He had watched enough porn to know the basics but because he didn’t want to let anyone know that he was as green as fresh weed, he upped his game by holding off his orgasm until the foxy brunette was a boneless mess on her creaky bed.
He went home before midnight to avoid running into Dawn’s aunt. He was exhausted but extremely sated at the same time that he must have been whistling like a goof when he strode back to his house.
He was still riding the high of his first time when two metal tins banged together like a clap of thunder, startling him. Swiveling to where the sound came from he caught a silhouette of a girl in an oversized black Bart Simpson t-shirt and white string pajamas. He didn’t need to squint to know who that was. He could almost hear her voice again. You could do so much better.
She looked away first and he cursed his stupid pubescent hormones for missing one very crucial detail: Sookie Stackhouse lived right across Dawn Green.
She tried to cover most of her breasts with one arm while she stretched the other in front of him to put some distance between them. He didn’t budge as he kept eyeing her in the way that was making her uncomfortable. He took a step forward. She took a step backward. He never stopped until her back was flat against the cold tiles of her bathroom.
“Eric,” she warned.
How many times had she used those two syllables to unhinge him? Too many times to count.
He knew that even with one functioning arm he could take her right there in the bathroom floor. And from the lack of conviction in her voice, he knew she would let him.
The back of his hand grazed her cheek and her muscles in her throat tightened as her eyes fluttered as if on reflex. He didn’t need to be a genius to detect her inner struggle. But he didn’t need a PhD either to discern that right now he was winning.
He hooked a finger under her chin and tilted his head to the side to sweep his lips over hers.
Then they both froze as his phone began vibrating in his pocket. She shoved him hard at the chest, reacting from the sudden tremor pressing against her stomach.
He could see it on her face. Reality was kicking in and she was sobering up.
He took a small tentative step forward as he decided to ignore the caller. He wanted to salvage what little chance he had left but she was already halfway across the bathroom as she bolted out of the tiny space.
Cursing under his breath he yanked his phone out and checked who the intrusive caller was. He should have known it could only be one person.
“How did you get in?” she asked as she marched downstairs, wearing one of Pam’s casual A-line white dresses, to find Eric surveying the empty living room.
The house was furnished with second-hand fixtures the previous owners had left, which included a stovetop oven, a two-door fridge, a small round dining table with two matching high-back chairs, an old, springy sofa and a king size mattress.
Eric turned to her in his usual black jeans, dark gray plain t-shirts and black boots. “I like what you’ve done with the place. But don’t you think you’re taking this minimalist fad a little too far?”
She gave him a weak smile. “The movers are taking longer than I would have hoped,” she replied as she raked her damp hair with her fingers. “You didn’t answer my question.”
He plopped himself on the couch before he patted the space beside him, coaxing her to sit next to him. She turned down the offer as she leaned on the wall that separated the living room to the kitchen.
“Pam gave me the spare key,” he answered with a shrug. “She couldn’t make it tonight. The adoption agency’s going to pay them a visit tomorrow to check if they’re the kind of lesbians they were looking for. As usual, Miriam is having a panic attack.”
She couldn’t help but chortle. Pam and Miriam had been waiting for over a year for a child. She could only imagine how excited the couple were.
“Thank you,” she muttered softly. “For bringing the stuff over.”
He tilted his head to the side. “That’s it? Thank you?” He raised his injured arm slightly. “Do you know how hard it is to haul that much luggage with one arm?”
She cocked her head sideway. “What do you want?”
“Coffee,” he replied immediately. “I saw a Starbucks not far from here. We can walk.”
She turned pensive as she deliberated her options. When their discussion in the hospital was cut short by Nora’s return, she knew their inevitable talk was far from over. She bobbed her head in agreement. It was bound to happen anyway.
And when it came to dealing with Eric she had learned it was best to be surrounded with as many people as possible. God knows what could happen behind closed doors or concealed alleys.
The first time he kissed Sookie Stackhouse was courtesy of JFK.
He had been successful in dodging Sookie’s judgemental eyes while he kept dating Dawn, which only lasted for a few more weeks before he decided to break up with the bosomy brunette for good. Luckily for him, spring break was only a month away. He was sent to Los Angeles during the holiday to spend some quality time with Lilith, his paternal grandmother. He used the days off school to gather his thoughts and summon enough strength to formally ask Sookie out.
However, when he returned to Seattle, she was already spoken for. It appeared that while he was praying to the dating deities, so was Alcide. Guess whose prayer was answered.
With his plan foiled, he decided that the best course of action was to at least rebuild their friendship that had been tarnished when he started listening to his dick and fucked the girl who called Pam a freak.
Slowly but surely they started hanging out again. His effort was rewarded when he caught a sneak peek of what she had to offer when he accidentally walked in on her while she was taking a bath. Oh, what a marvelous day that was. The sky was bluer, the birds chirped louder… oh, and he had seen Sookie naked.
It was common knowledge that he was a Class-A jerk. But what most people didn’t know was that he also had a soft spot. And that soft spot was named Sookie Stackhouse.
It was the fall of 2000 when he finally caught a break. Alcide Herveaux had been living in DC for more than four months. He was privy to the fact that before Alcide moved out of Seattle, he and Sookie had decided to call it quits. How could he not know, he was the one who told Alcide that long-distance relationship never ever worked.
“One of you will get lonely and by one, I mean you. Then you’ll get horny and you’ll eventually cheat on her. D’you really think she’ll be able to forgive you after that?” he told Alcide matter-of-factly. He must have been the fucking Nostradamus because that was exactly what happened when Sookie moved to Manhattan.
Four months, Eric mused, he had paid the toll for Sookie’s joke of a relationship for four long months. He would no longer be tagged as a rebound if he went after her now. For weeks he had been mapping out strategies on how to ask her out.
It had to be monumental.
He even stopped dating Isabel, the exchange student from Spain, who had the most sensual accent especially when she was saying his name with her rolling Rs. And her wicked belly-button ring she loved flaunting every chance she had was part of her allure. She was the distraction he needed.
But the days of vacuous diversion had to come to an end. He only had to lure Sookie out of her shell. The opportunity presented itself when his father went to California, the weekend before his 17th birthday to visit his mother. What would a teenager do with an empty house and a hidden agenda? It wasn’t physics.
He threw a keg party.
The only flaw in his plan was Sookie herself. She never liked a crowd. While he was busy being the life of the party, she was occupied making herself invisible. Disaster struck when Rene Lenier started decorating his father’s den with his dinner.
Dragging him by his shirt collar, he kicked the inebriated Rene out of the house and into the street with a growled out threat. He was on his way back into the party when he heard someone clicking her tongue mockingly.
His steps halted and cocked his head to the narrow alley beside the garage that separated his house from the Merlottes. She stepped out of the dark corner like an apparition, a lit cigarette between her fingers.
“You know what they say, it’s never a party until someone throws up,” Sookie quipped before she dropped the cigarette on the ground beside the trash bins and extinguished it with the heel of her gray sneakers.
“I didn’t know you smoke,” he asked with an arched eyebrow.
She shrugged. “It’s my first stick. Part of a social experiment.” She thrust her hand in the pocket of her purple hoodie, retrieving a piece of fruit. At first he thought it was an apple until she took a big bite out of it. “Peach?” she mumbled, holding the fruit like an offering.
He swaggered toward her before he reached for the peach. He twisted it around until he found the side where she had taken a bite then raised it to his lips. He repressed the urge to smirk when he saw her swallow gently as she watched him devour her peach.
“Thought you left,” he said offhandedly before he chomped another mouthful.
“Pam’s still inside. I can’t go home without her.” She kept eyeing him before she seized the peach out of his hand. “Who said you can have all of it?”
He chuckled as he took a half-step closer. “Have you spoken to Alcide lately?” he asked, trying to look impassive.
She pressed her lips together then scrunched her nose. “Last week. He’s doing well in DC but he’s getting homesick. He said he’ll try to visit after graduation.”
Well, that was horrible. Alcide should stay where he was.
“How ’bout you?” She nudged the side of his arm with her elbow. “I haven’t seen Isabel in a while.”
“It didn’t work. Half the time I can’t understand a word she’s saying.”
She giggled. It was a breathy sound that was surprisingly pleasant unlike the common shrilly tittering of girls her age. “Don’t look so upset. I’m sure you’ll find another ass to tap.”
His eyes grew wide, feigning indignation. “I’ll have you know I didn’t date Isabel for her nice ass.”
“Yet you find time to compliment her backside.”
He huffed, shaking his head.
“Oh, c’mon! I’m sure you like women with substance,” she kept teasing, moving in front of him, slapping his chest with the back of her hand.
He remained silent.
“Will you stop brooding? It doesn’t look good on you. Besides, you’re Eric Northman. No girl can resist your smolder and smirk.”
Her words stirred something wicked in him as his eyes lit up and a sly, lazy smile broke across his face. With languid steps, he sauntered toward her, invading the space between them.
“What’re you doing?” she asked, knotting her brows, bafflement coloring her features. The redbrick wall halted her retreat and she tried to shove him back.
“I’m testing your theory.” His gaze darted from her eyes to her lips.
“Stop fucking around, Eric.”
The blunt word sent him reeling for a moment. He had never heard her use the F-word as an expression before and he decided it sounded fiercer coming from her.
“Is it working, Sookie?” he drawled, leaning closer, pressing both palms against the wall to keep her in place. “Do you find me irresistible now?” He waggled his brows and it elicited a favourable response when she bit her lower lip.
“Eric!” She shoved at his chest again. But like the previous time, it was lacking force.
He was wrong about Isabel. Her rolling Rs were nothing compared to Sookie’s crisp Cs.
When he refused to shift, she twisted her hips to get away from him only to freeze when she felt his hardness brush against her hips making her cheeks flare.
That reaction spurred him on as he dipped lower. “Kiss me,” he rasped.
“One kiss and I’ll stop.”
“Fuck off, Northman. I’m immune to your charms.”
Her denial was his confirmation. It always started with denial.
“Then there shouldn’t be a problem,” he cooed, lowering his head. “Think of it as one of your social experiments.”
“You’re a jerk.”
She tightened her stare, her throat constricting as she swallowed repeatedly. Seconds later, she jutted her chin out and challenged him to, “Quote a president.”
His brows furrowed and his smirk disappeared. “Huh?”
“You want to dazzle me. Give me a quote from one US president. Don’t even try to make up one, you know I know my presidents,” she dared him. Eric was aware of her strange POTUS obsession. She, on the other hand, had no clue about his strange Sookie fixation.
His wily grin returned before he cleared his throat exaggeratedly, “I am never through with a woman unless I’ve had her three ways.'”
She gaped at him. Check. And. Mate.
“Sonofabitch. John F. Kennedy,” she hushed in disbelief. Shaking her head, a smile spread across her face, revealing a shallow dimple on her cheek. “Leave it to you to quote a notorious womanizer.”
He slanted his head to plant a chaste kiss on her chin. “What can I say? I’m a democrat,” he quipped before he sealed her lips with his.
“Thought you hated gold?”
She didn’t need to look up to see that he was studying the thick amber-colored wedding band around her finger. She set the disposable coffee cup back down and slid her hands under the table.
“Bill picked the rings.”
He grabbed his own cup and took a sip to disguise the tightening of his jaw. “For someone who plans weddings for a living, you sure suck at planning yours.”
They had managed to evade the hard issues by addressing the lighter ones during their short trip to the coffee shop just outside Maple Leaf. They talked about Pam and Miriam, his bar and Sookie’s job applications.
But as they sat across each other in one of the round metal tables at the sidewalk they both knew it was time to grab the white elephant by its tusks.
“I didn’t really plan it,” she replied, twisting the gold band in her finger with her thumb.
His face instantly darkened. “Did he force you?”
“No!” she spat. “It wasn’t like that. He didn’t force me. It was – ” she struggled for words. “Can we not talk about it?”
He took an audible breath as charged silence choked him. For a long time none of them spoke. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Talking to her shouldn’t be this hard. He trained his eyes on her, urging her to look up. If she were going to torture him the least she could do was look him square in the eyes.
Finally she lifted her chin and met his glare. “Where’s Nora?” she asked, her tone hitching as she forced it to sound relaxed. “I thought she’ll be taking care of you.”
He almost sneered at the thinly-veiled bitterness in her tone.
“She’s at work,” was his curt reply as he studied her like only he could.
“Oh. What does she do?”
He had no doubt she already knew the answer.
“She’s a chef.”
Sookie nodded to herself, cradling her cup in both hands. “You always had a thing for women who can cook.”
“You can’t,” he countered quickly, drilling her with his eyes. “You can’t even fry an egg.” The underlying hostility in his tone was becoming more prominent.
She managed to hold his gaze for a second before she turned away and squirmed in her seat. He wanted her to squirm. Hell, he wanted her to be as uncomfortable as possible. He wanted her to break and fall. He wanted her to hurt.
But truth be told, he only wanted her.
After a few heartbeats, she looked up again. He shouldn’t be surprised. She was always the resilient one.
“There you go, mystery’s solved,” she chirped in a throaty voice as though she was strangling a sob. “Nowwe know why we didn’t work out.”
He straightened up and leaned back on his chair. “You’re still full of bullshit, Stackhouse,” he drawled. “Or should I call you, Mrs. Compton?” The muscles around his jaw leaped and coiled at the tension. Gathering his composure, he forced himself to leer. “Tell me, Sookie does he fuck better than he write? Because I’ve read some of his work and I couldn’t move past the first sentence.”
Sookie had learned a long time ago that Eric had no filter when he was furious. More so when he was hurt. For a wounded Eric had no soul.
“Don’t do this, Eric,” she pleaded.
He responded with a cold sneer. “That’s a no, then?”
“Will you please stop!?” she gritted. The hardness in her tone darkened his features. He loathed the way she was protecting Bill.
“Do you love him?” His voice dropped to a dangerous low. He had to hold on to the cold edge of the table to keep his hand from shaking.
“He’s my husband.” She kept her gaze steady.
“Do you love him?” His lips barely moved as he repeated the question.
“He loves me.” She looked down at her own hands as she started thumbing the gold band on her finger. To remind herself of the man she had given her word to.
The couple from the next table was starting to sneak glances at them. They could go fly a kite, he thought grimly.
“Answer the fucking question, Sookie,” he spat.
It would have been so easy to lie. She didn’t even need to say the words. She only needed to move her head up and down he would have his answer. But this was Eric. He would know. He would be able to spot the telltale of a lie.
She swallowed hard as she raised her eyes to him. “He’s not you.”
His eyes shifted subtly, searching her face for the anatomy of the bullshit. He couldn’t find any. He must have been losing his mind because for a fleeting second he wished she was. Because it would be so much easier to despise her if she was. His grip loosened around the metal frame of the table before he stood up from his iron-wrought chair as calmly as his erratic nerves would allow. Without warning he seized her arm and tugged at it gently.
He wondered if his grip was too tight because she didn’t offer any resistance.
Like reading an old forgotten book they relived that one Autumn night in 2000 when he pushed her up against the wall of a shadowed corner of the coffee shop and claimed her lips. He didn’t ask for permission this time. He didn’t need one. She was his. She had always been his.
He slid his palm across the length of her arm until he found her ring and slipped it off her finger effortlessly. It wasn’t even her size.
Fucking, useless Bill.
He chucked it in his pocket without her noticing. She didn’t like gold. She found it tacky and tasteless. Bill should have known that.
But then again, Bill was not Eric.