The Devil Made Me Do It
It was nearly dark out as I opened the hallow aluminum door to the modular trailer office, I heard the receptionist answer the phone.
“Stackhouse Landscaping.” Fabulous. I’m glad I found the right place. I was starting to think that the in-breeders out here in the boonies didn’t read, since there wasn’t a sign anywhere in sight. I was almost sure, judging by the accent, that the receptionist wouldn’t disappoint my nearly perfect ‘Podunk experience’. I had to call a tow truck to pull my car out of a rut on an unpaved road. The driver wore overalls without a shirt, but didn’t forget his jean jacket. Hick. Since cell reception was a joke, I had to walk nearly a mile to get a signal, ruining a new pair of boots. Fucking red clay. And the one place there was to eat out here was about as appetizing as the floor of a truck stop restroom, and now I was starving. So I was sure that the ‘receptionist’ would complete the tour into the outer limits for me. Pushing 300 pounds. Greasy hair matted to an unappetizing face with more of a beard than I could muster in a week. She would probably be wearing something spandex and sleeveless to accentuate her batwings and strap flab. I’d bet a million dollars that her teeth alone could scare a maggot from a cow pie.
A Halloween wreath with bells on it announced me and I barely saw the top of a head over the cubicle-like desk and artificial fall flower arrangement in the small waiting area. I approached slowly, giving myself the strength to face this possible ogre on the other side of the partition.
I was shocked speechless by the sight before me. The source of the friendly country greeting I’d heard didn’t at all belong to the she-beast I had expected. Rather an angel. Not literally of course, but close. Her blonde hair looked as soft as a cloud and framed her radiant face. Her sky blue eyes arrested mine and her soft pink lips formed a smile that was completely, unbelievably home and sex at the same time as she waved like we were old friends and then held up a finger, whispering ‘just a sec’.
I’d wait a year, as long as the view didn’t change.
As she explained to some bumpkin that October isn’t the time to plant roses in Bon Temps (‘good times’ my ass), I surveyed the rest of her. Her lackluster uniform of khaki slacks and a dark green 3 button polo with a company logo aside, her form was still painfully obvious. From her full breasts showing just a taste of cleavage in her casually unbuttoned shirt… to her small waist giving way to full hips… on down to the way her legs crossed so that her dangling foot nimbly twisted behind her leg an extra time with no effort. She was overwhelming me. All of her. I found myself thankful for the high back of her desk as I realized how much she affected me.
I decided to distract myself with the pumpkin shaped trick or treat bucket full of candy sitting between the little stand full of business cards and a burning candle that smelled like cookies, aggravating the pangs from my empty stomach. I fingered through the container, finding everything but what I was looking for. She smiled up at me again, this time apologetically and mimed a blah-blah-blah gesture by the receiver.
I leaned over the counter slightly and whispered. “Did you eat all of the cherry ones yourself?”
Her eyebrow perked up as did the corner of her mouth as she bit her bottom lip. Dear God, Thank you for this desk.
She beckoned me to join her behind the desk with a silent finger. I hesitated, wishing I hadn’t left my coat in the car but walked around to the side of the desk as she slid open the top drawer to reveal her private stash of pens, white out and cherry tootsie pops.
When I leaned over to relieve her of one, hoping it would stave off my hunger, she leaned over and whispered directly into my ear. “They’re my favorite too. I have to hide them from my brother.”
Her breath in my ear gave me a chill and a rise where I thought I was already in enough trouble. All I could do was smile until I saw her hand follow mine into the drawer to get one for herself. I watched her unwrap the sucker and put it in her mouth as though it was all happening in slow motion and silently justified the torture by doing a mental inventory of my mountain of sins. God was punishing me, but I still thanked him for this damned desk.
I pretended to look around the office with my back to her while she finished convincing ‘Maxine’ of planting zones. The diversion seemed to be working, but the call ended before I could calm down completely.
“I am SO sorry about that. I’ve had this talk with her every year since I started here in high school. She’s one of ‘those’ little old ladies. What can I do for you? Do you need some work done?”
I could think of a few things I’d like her to do, but the thought wouldn’t help my… affliction. “I’m here to see Corbett Stackhouse.”
She pouted her lip at me sympathetically. Mmm. “Aww. He’s out sick. Flu season. Jason too. I can give him a message.”
“Well, who are you?”
“I’m Sookie Stackhouse. How about you?” She held her hand out for mine and I took it. God help me, her hand was so soft and warm…
“Hello Sookie, I’m Eric Northman. How are you related?”
“Corbett is my father and Jason is my brother. Your hand is freezing. Would you like some coffee to warm you up?”
I shook my head to the offer. “When do you expect him back to work? It’s pretty important.”
“He only called off today because of the rain earlier. He promised he’d be back in tomorrow. Are you sure I can’t help you out?”
In dozens of ways and that’s just what I could think of that included this desk. I owed it the favor. “Well, I drove up from New Orleans so can you tell me where I can find a decent meal and a hotel? I would remember the favor.”
She giggled and it sounded like a choir of angels. “Give me a minute to close up. I think I know of a place.”
When she disappeared into what I assumed was an office, I darted for the door like the building was on fire and quickly grabbed my P-coat to hide my embarrassing bulge from plain view. When she came out, she bounced down the grated steps with a ‘welcome home honey’ smile that I caught myself lost in.
“Just get behind me and stay close. I’ll take care of you.”
Was she doing it on purpose? What the cool air and lack of view did (undid rather) for my hard on, her loosely worded instructions put my dick back to attention and had me grateful for the security of my hip length coat instead of that desk.
The drive wasn’t but about 10 minutes, but as we pulled to a stop I realized that we weren’t at a restaurant or motor lodge. She’d led me down a pitted driveway, past a cemetery, to an old farmhouse. I sat in the car grappling with my confusion deeply enough that she startled me by tapping on the window next to me.
She smiled as I climbed out. I found myself standing next to her for the first time and I could smell the cherry lingering on her breath and see directly down into her shirt. Oh God.
“It’s not the Ritz, but I can give you something to eat and somewhere comfy to sleep. Bon Temps doesn’t have much to offer. I might even be able to come up with something fun to do.” Oh, I had no doubts of that whatsoever.
“This is your house? Don’t you have any sense? You don’t know anything about me.”
She turned and started walking towards the porch. “I know enough.”
I quickly grabbed my bag from the back seat and caught up with her as she unlocked the door. “What do you know about me?”
“I know that my Daddy doesn’t do business with people he doesn’t trust and I know that I sleep with a gun… Welcome to my humble abode.” As she swung the door open I was happy for her to be at least breaking even in her estimations.
She took my hand and escorted me towards the back of the house and into a dark bedroom. She let go of my hand and disappeared into the dark for a moment until she turned on a lamp on the dresser across the room. “Here ya go. Simple but comfy.”
I forced a smile to spite my tension and thanked her. She took my hand again and pulled me back out into the hallway and to another door. She reached inside and flicked on the wall switch. “You have it all to yourself. My bathroom is in my room.” She’d pointed into a dark abyss just past the door frame next to us. “Why don’t you get cleaned up while I start dinner.” She beamed at me again and patted my chest like she was trying to make me feel safe. As the sweet little welcome wagon faded down the hallway, she told me to bring my boots to her when I was done so she could ‘school’ me on how to get the clay out.
I went to ‘my’ room and sat on the edge of the bed and thought about things, namely my unresolved business and my throbbing dick. I would have to wait for the morning to do my business, but the other problem could be tended to. It needed to be. She has been the picture of friendliness and etiquette. As much as I can be a lowlife, I still wouldn’t want to offend her. I was starting to think that there wasn’t anyone left in this world that could be kind for the sake of being kind.
I hung my coat on the corner post of the bed and quickly gathered a change of clothes and went to the bathroom.
Once I was in the shower, it was all over. I’d been doing my best, since I laid eyes on her, to keep my thoughts from her and on my task, but as soon as I closed my eyes under the water, all I could think about was how lucky that sucker was. I grabbed my cock and stroked. Her candy, her bottom lip, her whisper, her breath in my ear, her giggle, her bounce, her accidental suggestions… oh fuck! ‘Get behind her and stay close’? The thoughts of being inside her and just the idea how she’d feel… Mmmm, that lucky fucking sucker! I bet her lips still taste like cherry. Her soft, warm hands… But that sucker. That blessed fucking piece of candy. The way her lips parted eagerly, like it was all she’d been thinking about all day… My knees buckled so I leaned back against the wall, sliding my hand back and forth. My hand wasn’t good enough. Her hand was soft and hot. Her tongue shyly peaking out, welcoming the hard, sweet candy… Even after I turned my back to her, I could hear the hard cherry treat click around against her teeth when she worked it around in her mouth. Oh fuck… the quiet sucking and smacking… the sounds of her subtle swallows echoed in my memory as I let go of the last hour’s worth of will power and watched it swirl down the drain.
I had only just managed to stand upright, not having caught my breath yet when there was a gentle knock on the door. “Housekeeping.”
I panicked. I froze. Finally, I cleared my throat. “Yeah?”
“Close the curtain. I have towels for you.”
I could feel my heart racing and it wasn’t from jerking off. “It’s closed.”
I heard the door squeak as she opened it. “What do you keep in your pants?”
I couldn’t stifle my chuckle. “Excuse me?”
She giggled again. Oh god. “Your pockets. I’m starting a load of laundry.”
I was happy to have the curtain now. That way I wouldn’t have to lock down my face when she says something harmlessly dirty. “Oh, um… my wallet and cell.”
Before I had the chance to say anything else, her petite hand appeared at the back of the shower, holding up my jeans by a belt loop, barely having moved the curtain. I dried my hands on the pants legs and fished my things out of the pockets and set them on the high window ledge behind me.
“Sookie… Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Eric.” Then I heard the door squeak and thump closed. I realized that my problem had returned. FUCK! I couldn’t help but wonder how many showers I could get away with tonight. If hearing her laugh and the way she says my name did this to me, I might find myself waterlogged.
When I finally tore myself from the bathroom and made my way down the hall, I was greeted with another friendly smile. “Good timing. I was about to come and grab you. Dinner is ready.”
Come and grab me, huh? Both? That would be nice. I smiled at her. “Really? What did you make?”
“Lasagna and a salad. If you don’t like Italian, I can make something else.”
I told her it was fine as I followed her into the kitchen. She already had the table set and spread with food as she started serving after pointing to the chair intended for me.
I sat down and watched her, enjoying every second of the show.
Her beautiful, heart shaped ass had barely touched her seat next to mine when the door bell rang. I got to see something new on her face. Wrath. Mmmm. Even that was beautiful on her.
What was she apologizing to me for? “Why?”
“Dollars to doughnuts, that’s my ex-husband.”
I’d wondered what was wrong with her that she was single. Beautiful and friendly but single usually means that there was a cross to bear somewhere in the equation. I guess he was it. “How long?”
“The divorce was final nearly 2 years ago.” If he showed up often enough for her to know it was him, then he was, indeed, the cross. The door bell rang again.
“Are you going to answer the door?”
Another new thing: a scary wicked smile. “Eventually. He hates to be kept waiting.” Oh god, another one of those smiles and I would need more ‘me time’.
I smiled back at her though. “Dinner is great. Thank you.”
There was another ring and then pounding. “Sookie, I know you’re home and I don’t care that you have company!” I took another bite of the first home cooked meal I’d had in ages.
“You’re welcome… Shit. I left my gun in my car.”
I couldn’t help but raise my eyebrow at her. “There is a stranger in your kitchen and a stalker on your porch and you’re unarmed.” I reached behind me and took mine from the small of my back and laid it on the table in front of her. “Do you know how to…?”
She winked at me and in one smooth motion, took the safety off, racked it and stood up to tend to her visitor. The wink alone would have gotten a rise out of me, but seeing her handle a gun when most women would have balked gave me a throb I could feel in my eye teeth. I got up and went to stand behind the door as she opened it.
“What is the meaning of this?” He threw a doll at her. From the looks of it, it was a baby doll covered in something red. I’m going hope it was dye.
“Bill! You disgusting asshole! Get that out of here!”
“Don’t play games with me.” I seriously didn’t like his tone. I’d used it myself, just before someone had their secrets wrenched from them.
“You are the one that plays games. Get out of here. Take ‘Junior’ with you!”
“You BITCH! This isn’t funny.”
“No kidding, Bill. Maybe this’ll teach you not to fuck with women anymore. You’ve clearly pushed your girlfriend off the deep end. Go home.”
“Why would Lorena do this? Besides I AM home! Where is your new boyfriend? I’d like to meet him so I can tell him how crazy you are.”
She was about to help it escalate, but I couldn’t help myself. I walked out from behind the door, arms folded across my chest. It was a posture I picked up when trying to get information out of people, if you could call them that.
I was happy to see how much bigger I was than him. That always gave me extra intimidation points. “What can I do for you?”
He held his hand out and I barely looked at it. “Who are you?”
“None of your concern, sir. The lady asked you to leave. I think you should.”
“This is my house, asshole.”
I just stared him down. His eyes met mine, but he didn’t last long. Mr. Wingtips just didn’t have the practice I did.
Sookie reached for the door to close it. “Bill, it’s Halloween, isn’t there a parade of children for you to scowl at in town?” When she tried to close the door, he put his arm out and prevented it.
I cleared my throat. “According to Louisiana state law: Stalking is the intentional and repeated following or harassing of another person that would cause a reasonable person to feel alarmed or to suffer emotional distress. Stalking shall include but not be limited to the intentional and repeated uninvited presence of the perpetrator at another person’s home, workplace, school, or any place which would cause a reasonable person to be alarmed, or to suffer emotional distress as a result of verbal or behaviorally implied threats of death, bodily injury, sexual assault, kidnapping, or any other statutory criminal act to himself or any member of his family or any person with whom he is acquainted.” I had watched his mouth fall open. I enjoyed it. “Your ex-wife has grounds for a restraining order.”
“What are you, a cop?”
“Even the devil can quote scripture. Now let Sookie close her door.”
Sookie’s jaw fell open when he closed the door on his own and left. She turned to me, still agape and handed my gun back to me. “Nice return on the favor. Thank you, Eric.” She gave me a grateful hug, but the contact was too much. Her touch was so warm that my eyes rolled back and searched for a reason to break it.
“Come on, let’s finish dinner.” She nodded and we quietly went back to the kitchen.
The two of us sat for a few minutes in peace. I was completely enjoying my meal but I could tell she was still calming down. “Wanna talk about it?”
She looked up at me, locking our eyes together while she considered it, but she finally decided to vent. “Girl meets boy in high school, they get engaged after graduation, boy goes to college in Seattle for Computer science, boy meets another girl at school, boy knocks up co-ed and talks her into an abortion because of bad timing then has a vasectomy, boy comes home and marries high school sweetheart, girl spends 4 years trying to get pregnant with her husband and doesn’t find out until one of his college roommates comes for a visit and has too much to drink blabs about Lorena and the vasectomy, girl packs her suitcase and files for divorce before he wakes up the next morning and moves into the house her grandmother left her. The end.”
There wasn’t really anything to say to her. She’d been through one hell of a ringer. “But he still lives in town?”
Her lips curled up like she was tasting something horrible. “Even better. When the judge gave me this house, free and clear in the divorce because the will predated our engagement, he decided the best way to punish me would be to buy the property next door. So now when Lorena stalks him, she gets a two-fer. “
“Lovely. That explains why a sweet thing like you would sleep with a gun under her pillow though.” Shit. I just said that out loud. Glossoverglossoverglossover…
She smiled and looked up at me with doe eyes. Ugh. Fuck. “My family was really upset that I wouldn’t stay with them after I left Bill so as a house warming, they bought me a hand gun.”
I had a better appreciation for her family now, but a subject change would probably be called for. “So, you said that you might be able to think of something fun to do…”
“My friend Tara is having a party in a little bit. She has it every year. It’s a big deal. Beer… music … games.”
“I don’t have a costume.” The only reason I was considering going to this party because I didn’t think I’d be able to behave all night long, sitting here with HER.
“I bet we could get you into something.” Ugh… she’s doing it again. “What did you bring with you?”
I thought about what I had packed and tried to not think about what I’d like to get into. “The jeans and t-shirt I’m wearing, the jeans and t-shirt you’re washing and… another pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Oh, I have a pair of sweatpants to sleep in.”
She laughed. It wasn’t a giggle this time. Her mouth was open and her head tilted back slightly. I felt drunk watching her. “You brought 3 black t-shirts and 3 pairs of jeans and a pair of sweats…” She bit her bottom lip again while her wheels were turning. Deep breaths. “What color are they?”
By the end of the night ‘they’ will be blue if you keep biting your lip like that. Thanks for asking. Deep breaths. She meant the sweatpants, right? “Black.”
She giggled again. Fuck. We definitely needed to get out of the house. I needed fresh air. She bolted out of her chair and went to the back of the house and came back with a Saints jersey. “See if that fits.”
I took it from her and held it up. I took a deep breath and took my shirt off to try on the jersey. I couldn’t believe it fit. “Ex-boyfriend?”
She shook her head. “Senior trip we went to New Orleans and saw a game. My friends called me ‘Cherry’ back then so when Tara found out that the Saints had a Safety named Cherry, she bought the jersey for me as a joke. They only had extra larges so I only wear it as a bathing suit cover up.”
Ignoreitignoreitignoreit. “Why did they call you ‘Cherry’?” Fuck. My filter is busted.
This time when she bit her lip she blushed and I felt the blood stop pumping to my brain so I leaned forward. “Why else would a girl be called ‘Cherry’? I was still a virgin.” Mmmmmm. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
Oh. Thank. God. My cell started ringing.
“Eric, why haven’t I heard from you tonight? I was expecting you to return.”
“I had car trouble so I need to take care of things in the morning.”
“Everything is fine now?”
“Yes, everything is fine. I just had to wait for what seemed like forever for a tow truck to pull my car out of the mud.”
“Do you foresee problems with the contact?”
“No. Not at all.”
“Where are you staying while you are there?”
“Don’t worry about where I am. I have my cell.”
“Fine then. Call me as soon as you know something.”
“Yes ma’am. I’ll finish up as soon as I can.”
When I hung up the phone and slid it back into my pocket, I noticed a strange smile on the face of my hostess.
“No girlfriend. Pam keeps me too busy. She’s my boss.”
“What is she like?”
I started to laugh, buying myself enough time to try to sound complimentary. “She’s no nonsense, strict and has an evil sense of humor.”
She smiled and got up to start doing dishes, so I tried to help. But God help me, I kept getting in her way since I didn’t know where anything went. So I thought small talk might help. “So, I’m going to this party dressed in a football jersey and jeans. You think your friends will mind that more thought didn’t go into the costume.”
She giggled again. “No. You could show up in a bow tie and jockeys as a Chippendale dancer for all they care. Last year my cousin Claude did and he IS a stripper and my friend Sophie wears the same Queen of Hearts costume every year.”
“Ok, that makes me feel better. What are you going dressed as?”
“I don’t know yet.” She looked frustrated. “Since third grade, Tara and I have ‘surprised’ each other with our costumes. At 8 o’clock her husband Sam will deliver mine and at the same time, our friend Andy will deliver hers.”
I couldn’t think of anyone that I trusted enough to do that with, but for some reason it seemed fun if not novel. “So what will she be this year?”
She smiled at me and it was almost childlike. “Well as kids, we would go back and forth between Disney characters and other girlie things, but when we got to high school, we started kind of a war. Bill hated it, but Sam is a great sport. We had to come up with rules. Last year, Sam had bought Tara a Corvette for her birthday so I sent her a pit crew overall that was way too small like the scene from Charlie’s Angels. I was stuck dressed as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. The scene where she was on the stroll with the thigh high boots and the mini dress, complete with a wig. So this year, Tara will be dressed like Daisy Duke so that she has to wear a blonde wig and I shopped for her in the juniors department.”
Breath. Relax. Breath. Shit. Not working. “So what you’re telling me is that you could end up being anything from Mrs. Doubtfire to Gina Gershon in Showgirls.”
“Pretty much.” She shrugged and my imagination was killing me. Or at least causing pain. I checked my watch and noticed that the suspense would be over in about 10 minutes.
“So what are the rules?” Anything that might keep me from imagining Sookie as Laura Croft… Sarah Connor…
“It has to be a female movie character and not a porno. She tried that a couple years ago and I almost killed her. We have to include a copy of the movie with the costume. We can’t add anything but jewelry to the costume and we’re only allowed to cover up with a coat until the party starts, then the coat has to come off.”
I was already regretting the decision to go out. If we stayed put, I could claim that driving had worn me out and I could go to bed early.
She grabbed my boots from the floor and waved me to stand next to her at the sink, handing me a tooth brush before she bent over to dig saddle soap out from under the sink. Ungh.
“So, Eric, now that you know why I sleep with a gun, do you mind telling me why you do?”
“It seems that even when I’m not looking for trouble, it still finds me from time to time.”
She smiled up at me. “Thank you for that illuminating answer. Did you take a class on how to evade questions?”
“As a matter of fact…” I tried to laugh and she elbowed me as a joke, but before I had the chance to play back, our attention was drawn out the window to the car coming up the driveway.
She left me to finish cleaning my boots and went to the door.
I eavesdropped as best I could from where I was standing and heard her give him a very friendly greeting and more than likely a hug too. From what I could make out, he got a kick out of Sookie’s plans for Tara, but made her promise to let him get back to his car before she opened her costume.
I watched through the window as the guy all but sprinted back to his car with a look of fear plastered onto his face.
This was not going to be fun for me.
I took my now good-as-new boots over to put them on and she came to the doorway of the kitchen.
“Would you consider covering up a crime with me?”
I know my eyes were as big as saucers. “Why? Do I want to know?”
“Tara has sunk to a new low.” She tossed a DVD onto the table in front of me and held up a shoe box, giving it an unpleased shake. “Before you ask, the whole outfit is in here with the boots I’m supposed to wear… I’m going to go get ready. Make yourself at home.”
She was gone before I had a real chance to think about what she’d shown me. I picked up the DVD and looked over the case. Bedazzled? I know I’d heard of it, but didn’t think I’d seen it. When I turned over the case, I realized what Sookie had meant by ‘new low’. The only ‘outfit’ that could possibly fit into the box is a glorified red underwear set modeled by Elizabeth Hurley on the back cover.
What could I do at that point? I’m a grown fucking man and somehow this little thing was holding my dick hostage. I’ve never in my life, had a woman affect me like Sookie has today. What about her made me so terrified of this outfit? I sat there at the table trying, again, to put my finger on why I couldn’t concentrate on anything that didn’t center on her until I heard high heels making their way down the hall.
My breathing hitched.
“Eric, if you laugh at me, I’ll do my best to beat your ass.”
I laughed to mask that the idea excited me again. “It can’t be that bad.” For her anyway.
She snorted. “The only thing that saved Tara’s butt is that I tanned this week.”
When she came around the corner and stood in the doorway, my eyes started at her feet and worked their way up. My other senses instantly became jealous of vision. Tasting, touching and smelling, even my hearing wanted to be close enough to take her in. My tongue would have made a deal with the devil himself (or herself, as it were) to have been to half the places on her body that my eyes had journeyed to.
Sookie was wearing a pair of very high heeled, red leather boots and her friend hadn’t given her any stockings and I savored the sight of every inch of her smooth tanned legs to her short, red sequined skirt that had me wondering. In a skirt that short, what cut of panties wouldn’t be showing. I had to shake off the thought, hoping/dreading that I would surely find out if she chose to dance tonight.
Rising from the low waist of her skirt, I took in her smooth stomach and tried to not linger at the little cartoon devil temp tattoo on her hip on the way up to her red sequined halter top. I had never wanted to be a piece of fabric before, but I decided that when I die, if I can’t come back as a sucker in her drawer, red sequins would be on the short list of second choices.
The entire outfit looked like it had been bought from a sex shop and would have just as easily been completed by a garter stuffed with bills as it was with the prosthetic horns that she had placed on either side of her crown. Her lips were painted blood red and her eye makeup was dark and sexy. She smelled like cinnamon and every slight move she made, advertised the shimmer of red and gold body glitter…
“Marry me.” Fuck. Of all the things that could have come out of my mouth, that was it? And with a straight face, no less.
She giggled again and smiled, parting her full lips. “You’re sweet.”
No I’m not. Really. I cleared my throat and tried to recover. “The actual costume was almost a bikini. I guess you could consider yourself lucky since you already outsourced your cover up… Have you thought of a punishment for her for next year?”
When she shook her head, a small amount of glitter rained out of her soft hair and it looked like she was throwing sparks. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Like she wasn’t hot enough before, now she looked like she was literally on fire.
“It doesn’t seem like your friend embarrasses easily. Maybe your retaliation could go in the other direction. Laura Palmer?”
“OOOOHHHH!!! You’re good! I think I will marry you! That would piss her off to no end to open the costume kit next year to see a plastic tarp and twine!”
“Don’t forget the glycerin and dirt so that she looks like she just washed up.” If I thought she was serious, I’d start ring shopping in the morning.
When we left, I offered to let her drive. Her car had a much less tempting back seat than mine, so I used her knowing her way around as the excuse.
The half hour drive to the other end of Hickville killed me. The smell of cinnamon was filling the car and getting stronger thanks to the heat coming from the vents. Every breath I took was making things worse. All I could think about was if she would taste like it too.
The neighborhood streets were lined with cars and it took Sookie a while to find a place to park.
“I hope your boots were made for walking, because mine weren’t.”
I felt sorry for her. Things like this are why I couldn’t think of anyone I would trust to share this tradition with. “If it makes you feel any better, my best friend would do his best to put me in the same damn costume.”
She threw her head back and laughed. “I’d pay to see you in this, but something tells me that these boots don’t come in your size. Seeing you in the skirt though, would be worth the price of admission.”
I don’t know if I could wear the skirt, but it didn’t keep me from thinking about getting into it.
A few blocks into our journey to the party from our parking spot, her ankle turned when her heel landed in a sidewalk crack. If she hadn’t been holding my hand again she probably would have fallen. She caught herself by grabbing my arm and without thinking, I put my arm around her back. I found her face about an inch from mine and I was lost in her eyes for a moment before I ever realized that my body was right where it wanted to be. Pressed firmly against hers.
I cleared my throat and tried to make a joke. “It’s a good thing we’re getting married. Otherwise, this would be inappropriate.”
She started to smile before she lifted her mouth to mine gently and when she pulled back she was still wearing her grin. “Oops.” She put her hand to my mouth and started to rub away the lipstick she’d left behind. I might have enjoyed the touch of her fingers on my lips as much as the kiss itself. “How are my lips?”
“Soft and warm.” I didn’t realize what I’d said until she started to blush.
She slapped my shoulder and giggled, “Eric, I was talking about my makeup.”
It was my turn to blush, “It still looks great… Is your ankle ok?” I started to loosen my hold on her to let her try to step away. Her knee brushed the outside of my leg when she lifted her foot to roll her ankle around before putting weight on it.
I was happy that she wasn’t injured, but part of me was disappointed that she didn’t need me to help her along.
Sookie let us into the house, the party already in full swing and waved and smiled at her friends, holding my hand all the while. She didn’t let go until we reached the kitchen and she hugged the fearful man who had delivered her costume, now dressed as a boy scout and slapped the arm of the pretty ‘blonde’ next to him.
“Tara Merlotte, you can be the queen of my trailer park any day!”
Tara laughed. “Sookie, you should dress like this all the time! You’re hot enough to melt ice cream.”
“You’re a bitch and I’m going to get you back next year.” They both laughed as Sookie turned around and held her hand out for mine and pulled me the couple of steps toward them. “Sam, Tara, I’d like you to meet my fiancé, Eric Northman.”
I couldn’t help but smile at the introduction and shake their hands. The Merlottes looked as though Sookie had slapped them as they gave me a once over.
“That’s news to me. When did y’all meet?”
Sookie flashed a wide grin. “We’ve been playing house for a while.” An hour, maybe two at the most.
I leaned over and whispered into her ear with a chuckle. “Now who’s taken classes?” She gave my hand a squeeze and as I stood up, I noticed the goose bumps on her shoulder.
Her friends both looked at her like they were angry for being left out of the loop, which was understandable if it were all anything but a joke. Sam started passing out drinks.
Tara tried to hide it. “Well, every relationship needs balance, right.” She held up her beer. “To the Sinner and the Saint.”
Sookie and I both looked back and forth at our ‘costumes’ and laughed at missing the accidental irony.
Eventually, her friends moved on to visit with their other guests, leaving Sookie and I to our own devices.
Sookie hopped up onto the counter, seeming to feel completely at home. Much to my chagrin, she crossed her legs, but she urged me over with the curl of her finger.
She stretched up to speak into my ear and rested her cheek against mine. “I like you.”
I felt my heart start hammering in my chest, whether it was the closeness or the declaration, I don’t know. “I like you too.”
“So you understand why I really want to know what you want with my father, right?”
“Yes ma’am.” I didn’t know if I could tell her enough to satisfy it, but her curiosity was completely justified.
“I’m sure you’ve been vague for a reason so I won’t beg for details, I just want to know what you are and that no one is in danger.”
I pulled back enough to make eye contact and try to read her face. Even someone like me can misread things from time to time. I rested my hands on the counter next to her knees, pretty sure that as soon as she found out who I was, she’d feel betrayed.
I took a deep breath and resigned. “I’m with the FBI and I’m working on a case. People are in danger, but we aren’t after your father.” I gave her a minute. Judging by the look on her face, she was trying to figure out how her father could be mixed up with an FBI case, but when she didn’t seem angry, I relaxed. Well, until she slapped my arm.
“Damn it! I wish I hadn’t asked now.”
I looked at the floor and stood up straight. “Why?”
“Because all your answer did was confirm my feeling that I could trust you and make me MORE curious.”
I couldn’t keep the smile from my face.
She leaned to my ear again. “Do you have a partner?”
“He’s at home with his family. We got some new information this morning and wanted to follow the lead but I came without him so that he could take his kids trick or treating.”
She called me sweet again and put her hand on my face and moved her lips from my ear to my mouth first as a peck, then lingering. I wanted more but I was terrified of making a presumption. My invitation came when she tilted her head slightly to nibble at my bottom lip. My lips never left hers and I started to feel the oppression from my jeans when our tongues met.
Her mouth was soft and welcoming. Her kiss, the way she felt against me was confident and comforting. This woman, the stranger that offered me her company and time, felt perfect. That’s why I’d had such a strong reaction to her. I’d always laughed at people who put any stock in the idea of love at first sight, there wasn’t any rational explanation. All joking aside, I had barely touched this woman and I would marry her. She felt too right. She felt like home…