She hated to admit it but he had become her security blanket to the world, whisking her away from the ill intent of others and bringing her to this safe haven. It wasn’t a fear of being left alone that had her missing the foundations her feet now rested on, it was doubt.
“What aren’t you telling me?” she asked suspiciously finding his flighty eyes with her own determined ones. Eric was usually straight with her, not bothering to placate her insecurities.
“I will be seeking the help of Sophie Anne,” he admitted softly trying to hold on her fleeing body that had been nestled into his. The hurt look on her face gave no room for argument. He was guilty and they both knew it. He tried appeasing her with arguments but Sookie could hardly stand to listen. “She is the goddaughter of the lawyer that set up my grandmother’s secret trust and is executor to my uncle’s estate. She has already agreed to help me.”
She felt betrayed once more and it hurt all the more that it was Eric. That he would seek the help of one of the co-conspirators that had no qualms in aiding Bill and Lorena.
“I’ll see you when you get back then,” she said coolly as she retreated to their once shared bedroom and closed the door on it. The very same door she had left open in invitation every night previous.
Eric had departed in the early morning hours and all Sookie found of him was a file that contained translated obituaries of his parents and a request that she try and seek out Halina again. He didn’t bother with an apology, well aware with her policy by now. She assumed the obituaries were to provide some background information in case Halina mistook her for Astrid again. Sookie visited her every day that Eric was gone but Halina was never lucid or talkative enough when Sookie came by. She told the staff she was writing a short story on the elderly woman for a class and they seemed to indulge Sookie’s presence and her inquisitive questions without qualms. Unfortunately she didn’t discover anything new that hadn’t become apparent from her file.
It was on the fifth day that she received a call from Amelia to come out with some of her friends that night. Having only had Halina as company for days she agreed without hesitation. At the realisation she didn’t have anything appropriate to wear in her limited wardrobe Amelia promptly invited her to her apartment in Vasastan, not far from the library where they had initially met, so she could borrow her something for the evening.
Sookie happily gave Amelia wide berth to play dress up with her, trying on several of Amelia’s clothes. They were hardly the same size or body type, Amelia was waifish where Sookie was more of a classic hourglass, but Amelia had a wardrobe that would cater to a whole host of different women. Whenever she would have arguments with her father, which was often, she would retaliate by assaulting his credit card not mindful at all to what she was buying.
They finally agreed on a dark navy body con dress that Amelia would never be able to fill out but fitted Sookie like a glove. Sookie did insist on wearing very warm tights and her leather boots with a modest heel underneath. She would not be venturing out into the cold, bare legged like Amelia was intending to.
As the evening progressed Amelia’s friends joined them who had all been very pleasant with Sookie. They each seemed to be originating from a uniquely different part of the world and spoke with interesting accents, which Sookie sometimes found difficult to understand forcing them to repeat a word to her over and over again. The drinks that were being downed in the process were hardly helping everyone’s coherence and was only adding to the greater hilarity of it all.
It was already getting quite late in the evening and Sookie wondered if they were ever going to leave the apartment when Amelia’s boyfriend arrived with a waiting taxi downstairs. They piled into the van and headed off to a club where Amelia gleefully announced, “Drinks are on Daddy!” while flashing about her selection of black credit cards.
After an intense round of carefree dancing Sookie left the extensive gyrating and grinding to Amelia and her friends as she breathlessly collapsed in the sumptuously decorated booth with Alcide. He had briefly introduced himself earlier, he seemed sweet to Sookie. He was attractive standing just as tall as Eric but with wavy brown hair and mischievous green eyes. He was a diplomat’s son from Paris. His mother, Elisabetta, a contessa from Italy and his father, Jacques Herveaux, descendant from a long line of public servants serving the French government since Napoleon’s regime.
She was completely engrossed in the nonchalance at which Alcide spoke of his life, lineage and experiences while he seemed suitably unimpressed by his own tales. It caught her completely unaware as she was laughing at one of his stories when he pulled her body upon his and kissed her hard on the lips pushing his punishing tongue between the seams of her lips. In her intoxicated state she opened up and permitted his tongue to seek out hers, thinking she should allow herself a moment of validation in the hands of a handsome man.
It was the very next morning that Eric emerged by the door of the bedroom bags in hand.
“Miss me?” he asked with a triumphant smile.
“Whatever makes you say that?” she groaned her head pounding away at her skull.
He simply held up his phone displaying the text released by her drunken thumbs. She pulled it towards her hardly making out the message with squinted eyes.
“Shit,” she groaned the actions of her drunken behaviour only now resurfacing again. She let her body crash back down upon the bed as she let out a frustrated low grunt. It was too early to think or fain enthusiasm at Eric’s return.
“I am never drinking or having sex ever again.” Her words were laced with venom as she projected them at the non-threatening white expanse of the ceiling.
When she moved her head back to the door Eric had disappeared and she heard the coffee machine churning in the background. He re-entered the room set down a mug of coffee on the bedside table and departed mumbling he’d be back later that night and not to wait up for him.
Sookie just closed her eyes and only barely remembered his presence when she saw the coffee that had gone cold beside her when she woke again in the early afternoon. Still in pain she sought out aspirin in the bathroom, unable to muster the courage to look at the train wreck she would surely find looking back at her in the mirror.
“Who the hell doesn’t have aspirin,” she moaned miserably. “Of course the man who doesn’t believe in curtains either.” Sookie sighed painfully at her reflection during a failed effort to soothe her headache by massaging the temples of her forehead.
She set about to ingest copious amount of greasy foods and gallons of coffee and spent the rest of the day lounging on the couch watching mindless reality TV, trying fervently to forget the events of the previous night. Apparently the Swedes were obsessed with the reality genre, as it seemed to be playing on all the different channels.
She looked at her phone intermittently, noting no new messages from Eric, much to her disappointment nor was he answering her calls. There was a text from Amelia but she deleted it without reading it. She made a note to buy a new burner phone in the morning. If it wasn’t her only connection to an absent Eric she would have tossed this one out by now.
Somewhere in the late afternoon she had fallen asleep again with the television still on. She woke to a rumbling stomach and some sort of cook off show playing in the background which she promptly switched off. Encouraged by her empty stomach she went in search of something to eat in the fridge. It wasn’t until she placed some leftovers in the microwave that she noticed that it was well past midnight.
Sookie startled at the sound of jiggling keys by the front door and was relieved to find Eric at the other side of it. In her excitement at seeing him again, now fully sober, she flew her arms around him.
“Good to see you back,” she greeted him genuinely happy to see him despite her feelings about Sophie Anne. The time apart had given Sookie pause to think and she came to the conclusion that she would have done the same in his position. She had hoped to tell him this before he got back but she had lacked the courage to call him. However, he held his body firm not reciprocating her embrace as he coolly disentangled her arms from him.
“Yes,” he simply responded monotonously as he moved past her and towards his little cave. Sookie was confused with the apparent aloofness and she quickly followed his movements through the apartment. She leaned into the doorpost of the room where he had seated himself behind the desk as he continued to ignore her presence.
“I didn’t like you seeking out Sophie Anne’s help,” Sookie said regretfully. “But I understand the necessity. I forgave you before you even left the country. I’m sorry I didn’t say anything sooner.”
He nodded his understanding but he didn’t speak any more fumbling unnecessarily through the papers upon his desk. Confused at why her apology hadn’t cleared the air she wracked her brain what else she had to apologise for. The text was relatively harmless maybe she had said something unkind earlier?
“I’m sorry if I said or did anything this morning? I was a bit hung over.”
“I am not upset with what you did this morning,” he spoke pointedly emphasizing the last two words.
“Spit it out Eric,” she said irately her growling stomach not helping matters. “I’ve never taken passive aggressive well.”
Sookie barely made out his clenching fists in the dimly lit room, as he seemed to be shoring up his response.
“Fine,” Eric gritted out. “Next time you seek out meaningless sexual encounters I prefer you not to invite strangers into my home.”
“What! This is what has you upset? No one came in here Eric. This is your home I wouldn’t jeopardise your safety or your privacy,” she spoke erratically desperate to disprove his erroneous thoughts. “I had the night from hell. Whatever made you think I was entertaining men in your bed?”
“You said you were never drinking and having sex again and the room stank of both,” he sneered at her masking the hurt of her betrayal. There were no spoken agreements between them but her promise of ‘someday’ had kept him firmly bound to her.
She sighed heavily, “Well the drinking was on account of the hangover, I don’t think I’ve ever drank so much. Those cocktails sure go fast.”
Eric gave her annoyed glare to get on with it.
“Right, self-explanatory. The sex: where to begin…. Amelia invited me out to a club with her,” she trailed off into her story.
The previous evening
“Stop,” Sookie managed with some semblance of sobriety to pull her body from Alcide’s wandering hands and lips. For the mere second of enjoyment that she allowed guilt and regret crashed into her threefold.
“You are not enjoying yourself?” Alcide whispered in his thick accent, still holding her firmly by her arms.
“Yes. I mean no. You’re a very good kisser…” her words were spilling out at high speed before she took a much needed breath, “Amelia.” Eric.
“Amelia told me you needed cheering up, non?” Alcide returned with a cheery grin while loosening the grasp on her at which Sookie immediately distanced herself from him.
“What? I’m not gonna do this it’s really inappropriate,” Sookie mumbled as she quickly exited from the booth in search for Amelia to bid her goodbye. She hoped not all French men were this inconsiderate towards their partners. From what Sookie had gathered from Amelia and seen from their interactions they were a really happy couple together.
“Suzy what happened to you?” Amelia asked as she took in her frazzled appearance. She pulled a tissue from her designer purse and started cleaning up the smeared lipstick around her lips.
“Minor altercation, I’m sorry Amelia but I think I’m gonna head home,” she yelled over the loud thumping music.
“No. Please stay we’re having so much fun,” Amelia pleaded pulling her by the hands to dance with her again. Sookie stood her ground and shook her head no, standing still in the over joyous crowd writhing in synchronised movements. “Well if you insist Alcide will bring you home.”
“No I’ll manage on my own. Don’t worry about me.”
“Don’t you like Alcide, hasn’t he been friendly to you?” Sookie really didn’t know how to respond, had you asked her five years ago she would have immediately told Amelia about Alcide’s advances. Today she wasn’t ready to be that friend. She had been that friend to Tara and that hadn’t ended well.
“Alcide’s fine. I just really don’t want to be around any men right now,” she lied. What she really meant was I really don’t want to be around your man right now.
“Suze I’m so sorry,” Amelia said gave with a small pout. “Tell you what I’ll send Alcide away he seems to be moping in the corner anyway. Then we’ll head over to Riche, the security there is way better. Just us girls.”
Sookie considered it. Up until Alcide’s unwelcome attentions she was having a really good time with Amelia and her friends. “Ok, just us girls,” she agreed.
The rest of the evening had continued in much the same spirit as before and Sookie had really enjoyed herself as the three remaining girls stumbled out of the club. They were drunk arguing about how to get home, Sookie just wanted to get back to Södermalm to the comfort of her own bed. However she seemed unable to pronounce her street name in her drunken slur, much to Amelia and Katrina’s hilarity. Eventually it was decided Sookie would stay in Amelia’s guest room until someone could understand where she lived. At this point Sookie really didn’t care where she was going to sleep as long as it had a pillow. Amelia was texting away rapidly on her phone while intermittently making out with Katrina on the cab ride back.
Sookie was glad she hadn’t told Amelia about her concerns with Alcide earlier. Apparently they were both liberal with their lips. When they got to Amelia’s apartment Katrina was dragged into the main bedroom while Sookie was pointed towards the guest bedroom. She heard the two women start to make out again but she was too tired to care. Sookie entered the bedroom not bothering to switch on the light kicked off her boots and slid under the covers of the bed where she collided with a hard, warm and very naked body.
“Fuck me,” she groaned in annoyance with perhaps not her best choice of words. Amelia didn’t tell her she’d be sharing a bed with some random person. Before she could even identify the stranger his voice made himself known.
“Happy to oblige, ma chérie,” he spoke excitedly as Alcide moved his body over hers clawing at her dress. Sookie froze at his assault on her as well as the words he had spoken to her. They were some of the first words Eric had spoken to her with amusement, when they stopped being assassin and mark and became Eric and Sookie. She filled with rage that someone else would sully those words for her.
“Get the fuck off me!” Sookie screamed into the dark.
“Suzy do not worry it is me, Alcide,” he returned holding her firm in his grasp as he continued his forced seduction on her, kissing down her still dressed body as he tried to lift the hem of her dress.
“I know who you are,” she hissed as she desperately tried to keep her clothing on her body but it hardly seemed to stop his onslaught.
“AMELIA!” she screamed trying to release herself from Alcide’s grasp.
The door flung open to an Amelia sporting a pair of lacy boy shorts and nothing else as light flooded in behind her. Instead of the domestic dispute Sookie had expected while she scrambled out of the bed Amelia seemed decidedly unimpressed by her boyfriend in bed with another woman.
“What’s wrong Suzy? I thought you and Alcide hit it off.”
Sookie’s jaw was hanging down, her mouth gaping, wondering how the hell she had ended up here, in this situation.
“Seriously? What’s wrong with me?” she yelled finding some semblance of rationality in her drunken state. “Who the hell pimps out their boyfriend to their friends? What made you think staying over at your house meant me sleeping with your boyfriend?”
She simply shrugged completely unbothered by the situation at hand and her own naked state. “We have an open relationship when one of us sees something they like we help each other out. We were hoping you’d join us both in our bed eventually. You have a great body you know.”
Sookie had heard enough and gathered her things and ran for the front door while unfortunately overhearing the trail end of Amelia and Alcide’s conversation over her departure.
“Come on Alcide join me and Katrina.”
“Pfff. She screeches so much. I really wanted to fuck that Snoozie tonight.”
Sookie slammed the door behind her disgusted at their behaviour. She walked the streets of Stockholm vainly in search of a taxi. Her feet were killing her and she wished she could just call Eric and he would rescue her like he always would.
In an unbridled drunken moment she sent him a text after the days of radio silence between them.
I miss you. Please come back to me.
“So in the end I ended up walking the whole way back home and you found me exhausted a few hours later,” she said as finished relaying the entire story to Eric.
Eric pulled her miserably sagging body into his in the kindest of embraces. “I’m sorry I overreacted,” he murmured into the shell of her ear. Eric held himself together for her but underneath rage was boiling at what had happened to her in his absence. “You seemed so out of character I should have known better. I’m sorry to have assumed the worst.”
Sookie sighed contentedly in his chest. “For once your apologies are actually warranted. Thank you for being here for me.” She buried her head in a little further, basking in the comfort he offered. “Seriously Eric, do I you just scream ‘sexual plaything for you to use and abuse’?” Sookie asked looking up at him finally releasing the tears she had been holding in all day.
He looked down at her earnestly, brushing aside the hair that had stuck to her dampened face. “Don’t you ever think that. You are trusting, loving, loyal and kind,” Eric said confessing her most admired qualities as he kissed the top of her head. It hit him then that the smell that lingered in hair now resonated as home to him. Ever since arriving back in Sweden he hadn’t felt settled until this moment. Breathing in the scent of the first woman who was trusting, loving, loyal and kind to him. “Perhaps these are qualities you shouldn’t bestow so easily on strangers. Listen to your gut a little more. Did you even think to use your ability on Alcide or Amelia?”
She shook her head no, Sookie wondered aloud what it was that made her utilise her ability so easily with people who had the best intentions but shut it out with those with the worst.
“People with good intentions aren’t defensive, they’re open to you, they have nothing to hide as long as they are unaware of your ability,” he concluded after some thought.
“That’s what it was like for you?” she asked with furrowed brows. “You came to kill me, your intentions were hardly good.”
“I was highly reluctant to kill you to begin with,” he corrected as his ran through her tangled hair. “After the dud I had no interest in harming you. Before that it was only because I had to and even then I was struggling with it.”
“Ok,” she spoke softly to his chest.
“Come, let’s get your food.”
He sat her down at the table as he checked on her impromptu meal and he reheated it slightly and served it to her with a tall glass of water.
“It’s true,” she smiled at him. “You really do have the best intentions.”
He couldn’t help but smile back at her, his anger at the situation dissipating, as he sat across from her nursing his own glass of water.
“You don’t drink,” Sookie remarked only now realising she had never seen him partake in alcohol.
“Only on rare occasions.”
“Are you an alcoholic?”
“No,” Eric answered holding her free hand in his. The events had shocked him and he feared the worst that could have happened to her. Somehow holding her assured him she was safe and sound. His thumb traced the lines of her fingers in a rhythmic soothing. “I was in Russell’s care at the age when you are supposed to be interested in parties and chasing girls. I was home schooled and I saw little appeal in it.”
“You’re not Bill’s next recruit are you?” she sniggered for the first time being able to find some lightness in events transpired. Sookie could hardly imagine a man of Eric’s looks still holding on to his V card.
He smirked at her, an expression that had annoyed her greatly before but which she was now glad to see return. “Far from it and Bill’s hardly my type,” he leered in jest. “Speaking of which you have yet to explain the sex smell in the bedroom.”
She gulped down her bite of spaghetti audibly, the hand he held onto tried to escape his grasp but just like the answer she owed him it wasn’t going anywhere.
“Shit,” she offered sheepishly. “I hoped my story was distracting enough that you had forgotten about that.” Eric merely responded with a demanding quirk of his eyebrow.
“Fine,” she huffed out. “I may or may not have been entertaining a very excitable dream in my drunken state. Don’t worry I’ll change the sheets and sleep on the sofa from now on if you want me to.”
Eric chuckled at her admission, if only she knew what he had been entertaining about her in his subconscious, never mind when he was conscious. It was all very excitable indeed.
“You’re welcome to continue to make use of the bed,” he said with a leisurely perusal of her body. “Are you still comfortable to have me in it?”
She nodded shyly, her face still flushed, only confirming to him that said dream had involved his presence and not that of the arrogant diplomat’s son that had stolen her lips from him. The thought of that made him happier than he had been in months, perhaps even years.
A/N: A little announcement:
I have a few days off before the weekend so I’m going to be doing some maintenance to the site as I have found that it works perfectly fine when you realise the black square in the top right hand corner is a drop down menu but it is an extreme pain to navigate if you don’t realise that. So I’ll most likely be changing some appearances so apologies if you have, or had, issues with accessing the site. And…
I’ll be off on holiday for the next couple of weeks to a place where Wi-Fi will be shoddy at best. I’ll see what I can do but it may happen that a week passes without an update or that it happens on a different day. It’s Already Gone is the only story that will continue as scheduled seeing that it coincides with the show. For those impatient ones among you I suggest to read/catch up with another one of my stories while I’m gone or make sacrifices to the Wi-Fi gods and pray for good reception. I’ll be back at work September 1st so unless I catch Hep-V regular scheduling will commence from that point onwards.