Sookie Stackhouse was fascinated with trivial facts.
It was her quirk. She had a treasure chest brimming with icebreakers. One time there was a blackout in their village and Pam, who was only eight then while Sookie was nine, started to have asthma attack. Sookie tried to calm her down with, “Hey, Pammie, did you know that Thomas Edison, the man who invented light bulbs, was also afraid of the dark?”
That didn’t help because Pam was not interested in history. “How ’bout this?” she tried one more time, running her hands up and down her sister’s back. “Did you know that Seattle lies in the Pacific Ring of Fire? Which means we’re most likely to die from an earthquake than from a visit by the boogeyman? Besides the boogeyman lives in Scotland, thousands of miles away from First Hill.”
“Shut it, Sook. It’s not working. You’re only making it worse,” Pam blurted, giving her the snarky glare.
But it did work. Pam was no longer afraid. Her fear was replaced by her annoyance of her sibling’s stupid did-you-knows.
However, not everyone was sick of listening to her ramblings about anything and nothing at all. She had a devoted fan in Eric. He would sit quietly as she tried to amaze him with all her fun facts and whatnots.
It started one summer day when she saw him in the back of Jackson’s garage, which was owned by Alcide’s family, hunching over the hood of a convertible.
She had a way of sneaking up on people with her innate stealth. She could see Alcide, Tray, Calvin and the newest member of the wolf pack, Eric, who was the undeclared alpha of the group, flipping pages of glossy magazines, mumbling a string of curses under their breath.
‘Ah, the horny boys and their secret stash.’
“Whatcha got there?” she chimed in as she leaned forward enough to smell the scent of Eric’s sandalwood soap through his shirt.
“Fuck!” Eric exclaimed, jumping back, hiding the magazine behind him.
They all had their glossy periodicals hidden as they gawped at Sookie who couldn’t help but smirk triumphantly.
“Ooh Playboy…” she cooed. “Did you know that Hugh Hefner, the publisher of Playboy, was born in Chicago?”
Eric’s eyebrows shot up to his forehead. “Of course! I’m from Chicago, toots.”
It was her turn to cock her brow. “Toots? How old are you, 50?”
A collective snicker rang from the group, which earned each one of them a glare from their leader.
“They’re not mine, Sook. They’re Eric’s,” Alcide butted in, who was apparently more terrified of her than of Eric.
Mr. Chicago shot him a look. “Way to be cool, dumbass.”
Sookie laughed as she flipped the end of her one-sided braid over her shoulder. “Go back to your porn, toots. I’ll get outta your hair.”
Spinning on her heel she started walking away from the brat pack. But as she strolled out of the garage she heard Eric spat another, “fuck!” to himself.
“You shouldn’t swear so much,” she called out to him, twisting her body to face the ruddy-cheek boy with the short blonde hair. “Do you even know where that word came from?”
Tray, the boy with the buzz cut and small eyes, went instantly giddy as he had what they called ‘Tray’s flashes of brilliance’. “Ooh, ooh, I know that one!” he said excitedly. “It’s short for Fornicating Under Consent of the King.” He flashed everyone a toothy grin for knowing something they probably didn’t.
“Nope,” Sookie replied quickly, popping her lips together. “It’s from the poem Flen Flyss, which was written in the 15th century. It was actually derived from the word fuccant which literally means ‘they fuck.'”
Eric studied her with curious eyes. She tried to hold his gaze but she couldn’t. His blue eyes were like the black hole, sucking her in. After a few seconds she turned around again and started jogging out of the garage.
“Alcide!” she called out before she turned to the corner that led to the main road. “Your dad’s looking for you. Should I tell him you’re back here jerking off with your toots?”
Tray, Calvin and Eric broke into laughter. But it was Eric who laughed the loudest.
Sookie Stackhouse’s first kiss wasn’t Eric or Bill or even her first boyfriend, Alcide.
It was Dawn Green.
She was on her way to return her books in the library when she saw Dawn the Queen Bee, surrounded by her flock of bottle-blonde bimbos in their favorite spot – the small gazebo right in the middle of the yard. From the corner of her eye she spied Eric and his minions – Alcide, Tray and Calvin – hanging out at one of the wooden picnic tables a few feet from Dawn.
Sookie suppressed the urge to roll her eyes. Eric, the bad boy from Chicago, was dating the meanest and sluttiest girl in school. How emblematic.
She sighed. Why couldn’t he look past the perky breasts and the nice rack? Why couldn’t he look at her?
Deciding not to torture herself further, she picked up her speed to get out of their way. Her steps halted when she heard a familiar voice yelling profanities in the middle of Dawn’s circle of whores.
Sookie dashed to Dawn’s side and saw a livid Pam in defensive stance, blocking the soft-spoken Miriam behind her.
“What’s going on here?” Sookie asked loudly as she neared the gazebo, drawing Dawn’s attention.
Dawn sniggered mischievously when she spotted Sookie. She fiddled with the strap of her sling bag and glowered at the newcomer. “Oh look, Sookie the genius is here,” she crooned in her saccharine voice. “Hey, I have a trivia for you. Did you know that your sister is gay?”
It appeared that Dawn and her groupie caught Pam and Miriam making out in the locker room earlier after gym class.
“What’s the matter, Dawn? Are you upset that I snubbed you? I’m sorry if my being choosy offended you,” Pam snarked while Miriam kept sobbing quietly.
Dawn cackled. “Oh, please. I don’t go for freaks.”
Oh, hell no. No one called a Stackhouse a freak. Pam stabbed her hand in the air aiming directly at Dawn’s poreless face when she felt a strong shove from her side.
It was Sookie. She pushed Pam out of the way before she fisted her hand in Dawn’s thick black hair and pulled her in for a kiss.
It was an open-mouthed liplock that lasted for at least four seconds before Sookie let go of Dawn’s hair and pushed her back with a jerk of her elbow.
Sookie wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, ignoring the synchronized gasps that followed her bold move.
“Then I guess you’re a freak, too?” Sookie spat at the gaping Dawn. “Because I definitely felt some tongue action there.”
Without another word, she twisted around and darted to where Eric and his pack were. From the sight of their jaws on the ground it was safe to say they had seen the short girl-on-girl action she had initiated.
She went straight to Eric, who slid off the picnic table to meet her halfway. She grabbed him by the front of his shirt and pulled him down until the tips of their noses were grazing. His tongue darted out, moistening his dry lips in anticipation for the inevitable. Then just as their mouths clasp together, her lips started moving.
“I feel sorry for you. Your girlfriend’s a lousy kisser. You could do so much better.” With that she released his shirt and ran to school gate followed closely by Pam, Miriam and Tara.
She swore she saw disappointment on his face as he slouch and mutter his favorite cuss word.
Sookie Stackhouse wasn’t a crier.
She barely wept when her father died when she was three. Corbett was a small-time architect in Lousiana. He was in the middle of his daily rounds to make sure the foundation in each level of the condominium they were building in Shreveport were following all the safety regulations when one of the cables of the industrial lift he was in snapped, sending him plummeting to the ground from 18 floors up. Michelle said that when Corbett was pulled out of the wreckage his first words were, “The lift needs to be replaced.”
The only time she shed tears for her father was when she saw her mother weeping in the corner of her parent’s bedroom when she was putting her father’s clothes in a box. Tears were contagious, Sookie deduced.
She kept her stoic façade when her grandmother Adele kicked the bucket when she was 15. She was under strict orders from her paternal grandmother never to weep for her or she would haunt Sookie in her sleep. She didn’t believe in ghosts but she loved her Gran so much she didn’t want to disappoint her. She cried a little with Pam the night they buried their Gran beside her husband Earl’s tomb in Bon Temps. Silently, of course, she didn’t want anyone to think she was weak. Pam, on the other hand, was afraid their grandmother would make good on her threat to pay her a nocturnal visit.
Sookie Stackhouse wasn’t a crier. However, lately, that was all she had been doing. She did it when she traded the space needle for the statue of liberty. She did it again when she saw Eric waiting for her at the front steps of her apartment building. And again the morning after she slept with Bill two years after she left home.
When she was younger, Eric was the only one who could make her stop crying. He would tease her how she looked like Dolly Parton in drag every time she wept. If that failed he would start belting out ‘Jolene’ mimicking the southern singer’s shaky lilting tone. And because he had such a hideous voice she had no choice but to stop sobbing to make him stop singing.
She wondered if he could still work his magic on her. She doubted, though, considering he was the one who turned her into a sobbing mess.
Sookie Stackhouse was a notorious prude.
The first time Eric had seen her naked was by accident. She had been dating Alcide for almost two months when Eric walked in on her just as she hoisted herself up inside the tub.
She was wrapping a towel around her head when the door to the bathroom flew open. She didn’t get to utter a word of protest when none other than her smug friend dashed in fumbling for his fly.
“Dammit! Eric! Don’t you knock!?” she exclaimed before she lowered herself back into the tub.
But it was too late. He had already seen every curve of her nakedness, accentuated with dripping water.
He remained locked in place, his zipper halfway down.
“What’re you doing here!?” Sookie asked in a shrilly voice when he refused to balk.
He took his hands off his jeans before he grabbed the pink fluffy robe hanging by the side of the foggy wall mirror. “Your sister let me in. I needed to pee and she didn’t tell me you were here.”
She groaned. Pam had forgotten to point him to the guest bathroom at the other end of the hallway since it was a rule in their house never to lock the bathroom door when taking showers or baths. It was after their mother had taken a nasty fall when she slipped on the wet tiles on her way out of the tub. Sookie, who was barely six years old, had to run to their next-door neighbor for help to get inside the bathroom and rescue her mother.
“You’re still here,” she stated sharply, darting her eyes to the ceiling to avoid his gaze.
Based on recent study, a normal person would take seventeen seconds to react to an awkward situation. It had been more than seventeen seconds and Eric was still in a small enclosed space with her.
His lips slowly tugged at the corner. “You didn’t ask me to leave and I still need to pee.”
“We may be friends, Eric. But we’re not that close if you think I’d let you take a leak in front of me.”
“Then don’t look,” he countered, taking a step toward the porcelain bowl with his hand back on his fly. “Or you can step off the tub and leave. Be my guest.”
“Have you no shame?” she snapped, sinking lower to hide under the diminishing suds. “This is my house. And I’m your friend’s girlfriend!”
“Meh…” he hummed. “Alcide and I weren’t that close.”
She let out an exasperated grunt. “Get out!”
His smirk broke into a wide grin before he pivoted to face the door and extended his hand to her, giving her the robe that he draped over his arm.
She stretched out a little to yank the robe from him. She heard him chuckle as he swaggered out of the door and closed it behind him.
After that unnerving incident they did what most people do in situations like those: They pretended it never happened. Or at least she did. Since then, every time she was in close proximity with Eric she would catch him looking at her wearing his lecherous smirk.
But as the days passed by his arrogant sneer morphed into something more. Something unsettling. Yearning perhaps?
Sometimes even Alcide would notice and he would give Eric a sharp glare to remind him it was rude to ogle his girlfriend.
The day Sookie and Alcide broke up when his family moved to Washington, he told her that as much as he was bothered by Eric’s lingering eyes. What troubled him the most was the way she looked at Eric.
“I get it, you two were this tight.” He hooked his middle finger with his index finger. “But sometimes when I’m with both of you, I feel like I’m the third wheel.”
It had been a week since she was back in Seattle and Bill was still a no-show. He was having difficulty getting their deposit back for their apartment in lower Manhattan from their landlord. And the movers were set to arrive tomorrow.
With her resources dwindling to an incredibly fast rate, Sookie decided to move out of the hotel and move in the bungalow-style house she bought with Bill before they went to Vermont to get hitched.
Her pocket money had been substantially depleted after she paid the constructors half of their fee to expedite the renovation so they could move in earlier than planned. They weren’t supposed to be in Seattle for at least another month. But Eric wasn’t supposed to crash his motorcycle against a tree either.
As much as she hated to stay in a house that was still under repair, she couldn’t afford to spring for another night in a hotel. She met Pam that morning when she checked out of the Sheraton and asked her to lend her some clothes since they were almost the same size. (Pam was five inches taller) And some bedsheets and pillows. Her sister insisted she stayed with her and Miriam in their old house but Sookie was still adamant to keep at least a five-mile distance from her mother and Godric.
So she was stuck in her barely inhabitable house with no hot water and questionable electrical wiring.
The round light bulb on the ceiling flickered for the last time before it finally burned out.
Fortunately, she was already done with her shower. Fumbling for the steel rod at the wall, she slowly stepped out of the bathtub.
Thankfully, the bathroom door was ajar and the light from the hallway was seeping through the narrow crack. She cursed loudly when she realized she had forgotten to bring a towel with her. It was still on top of the bed in the next room across the hallway, which meant she would be leaving a trail of water on her newly-installed teak wooden floor.
Irritated and flushed she decided to make a quick dash to the bedroom. Tearing the door wide open she didn’t realize she was no longer alone as she found herself face to face with a six-foot-four blonde with a short-arm cast.
“Eric,” she breathed out.
Like the first time he had seen her in all her naked glory, he just stood quietly like a statue, unblinking.
“I heard you yell. I thought you slipped or something…” his voice trailed off as his eyes started moving up and down her body. Then a soft involuntary rumble erupted from his chest before he licked his lips. “I guess some things never change.”
She could feel her cheeks burn. “Can you not look?” she gritted, tightening her grip on the spine of the door.
His lips curled and formed a lopsided smirk. “I’ve seen you naked so many times I can draw a map of all your tickle spots with my eyes closed.”
She released the door and tried to push past him but he was so big and her door was so narrow. Oh, lord, she couldn’t even begin to imagine the things he would come up with if he had heard her thoughts.
He inched closer, blocking her path.
‘This is bad,’ she thought when he dipped his head and locked his eyes on her lips. ‘This is so bad.’