Charlaine Harris owns everything. I own the rest.
A big thanks to SeriousCrush and Laurie for helping me polish this story. I love you both and I’m lucky to have two wonderful friends who help me! 🙂
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t like unresolved conflict, and CH’s books are chock-o-block full of it. Here is one more attempt to make things right in the Eric/Sookie universe.
Let’s assume for a minute that at the end of Dead as a Doornail, Eric doesn’t disappear from Sookie’s life. Let’s also assume that Quinn never comes to see her (they don’t go out or get involved … nothing). I’m hijacking the storyline somewhere between Dead as a Doornail and Definitely Dead. Spoilers from Dead to Worse.
Mr. January: Part 1
It had been three weeks since Charles Twining had died. It had also been three weeks since she’d seen Eric.
Her house was back to normal, more or less, after the renovations. The kitchen still took some getting used to, but other than the newness, it felt like home. She had the day and night off, and for the first time in months, Sookie spent hours working in the yard. Gran’s flowerbeds had been sadly neglected through the winter, but as spring approached, Sookie took advantage of every minute of sunshine to return it to its former glory. Although it was still February, she had been in her bikini all day. The sun had set an hour ago, but the floodlights from the back of the house illuminated the area around her well enough to finish the work she’d started.
On her hands and knees, she grunted with effort as she made a hole in the dirt for the last yellow pansies still contained by a flimsy plastic pot. A few minutes later, she patted a little hill around the cheery flowers.
“Are you thirsty?” she said to the tiny plant. Rocking on her heels, she pushed back, grabbing the watering can as she stood. That’s when she noticed him.
Eric was leaning against her back porch, an envelope tucked under his arm.
“Jesus Christ!” Sookie screeched, clutching at her nearly exposed chest. She swallowed hard, forcing her heart back down her throat.
“Don’t stop on account of me. I was enjoying the show.” He waggled his eyebrows.
Sookie rolled her eyes. “What are you doing here? Trying to scare me?” He had stopped by Merlotte’s weeks ago and she hadn’t heard a peep from him, and now he was standing outside her house.
He tilted his head as she pushed past him to get water from the sink inside. He waited silently while she filled the container, returned to the freshly turned soil, watered the plants, and tucked the watering can inside the shed behind her house.
“Well?” She dusted her hands together, attempting to remove some of the dirt still clinging to her skin. Her knees were in much worse shape.
Eric shook his head. “I’m at a loss for words. I wasn’t even sure you’d be home.” His eyes raked up her body slowly. “I need to visit you more often while you’re gardening.”
Sookie’s cheeks burned, but all she could do was shrug. He’d seen her in a hell of a lot less. Deciding that directness was her best chance of finding out why he was there, she walked up to him and put her hands on her hips, the residue of dirt rough against her soft skin. That close, she could easily see the growing bulge in his pants. She was all too familiar with that part of his anatomy. It really was a shame he didn’t remember. “Eric. Why are you here?”
He smiled, revealing his long white fangs. “Oh yes. I have something to show you. Can we go inside?” He held up the envelope, and she noticed the corners were a little bent.
Sookie frowned. “I didn’t hear you drive up. Did you fly?”
Well, that explained the state of the paper and his disheveled hair. She had to resist the temptation to push it out of his face. She took a deep breath. “Sure. Come on in.”
It had been weeks since she’d been embroiled in vampire drama. Surely she was due. She braced herself as Eric sat at her table, assuming he would start discussing some new business venture or another. But he sat quietly, apparently waiting for her to sit with him.
Good, he can wait. Sookie smiled at him and turned to the fridge, rummaging through the shelves for something to eat.
Sookie peeked at him under her arm when he cleared his throat. “I like your new … fridge.” He was staring at her ass.
Sookie stifled a laugh and put her face back into the fridge, cooling her heated skin. She grinned. It had been difficult, to say the least, trying to forget about her time with him. It was oddly satisfying to know he still wanted her. The bikini was definitely helping. “Thanks. Can I get you a blood?” She touched a bottle, waiting for him to answer.
“I’ve been outside for hours. I’m starving.”
Eric didn’t answer, and when she glanced at him again, his glazed eyes were still glued to her ass.
With a sandwich in one hand, and a bottle of blood in the other, she finally joined him at the table.
He blinked several times and had to clear his throat again before he could thank her.
They sat quietly while Sookie ate. She kept her eyes down and only the sound of him emptying the bottle in long swallows interrupted the silence. Sookie smiled nervously. That time, when she looked at him, his eyes were on her breasts. His fangs were still fully descended, visible as bumps under his lips. I bet he’s got a big ol’ bump somewhere else. Sookie squeezed her eyes shut for a moment. Get your mind out of the gutter!
His eyes shifted up to meet hers and she swallowed hard, forcing the last bite of sandwich down. Her face contorted with pain when it got stuck, and only after drinking all of her water was she comfortable. Relatively speaking. The tension between them was thick enough to taste.
“So, what’s in the envelope?” she asked, cutting to the chase.
Eric smiled again, dazzling white and terrifying. “Proofs.”
She frowned. “Proofs?”
“Fangtasia’s Vampire Hunks.” His fingers played with the clasp, but he didn’t open it.
“Right, I remember you mentioned something about that.” Her heart raced. He said he was Mr. January. “So you flew out here to…”
“Ask you which one you like the most. We had a very long shoot.”
Sookie’s heart threatened to jump out of her chest.
“Pam cast her vote.”
“And you want my opinion?” She gulped when his thumb and finger squeezed the piece of metal holding the paper closed.
He nodded and then pulled out several sheets of glossy paper. Five, to be exact. Five, eight by ten pictures of Eric. Nude.
“Oh,” Sookie said, hoping he wouldn’t hear her, but of course, he did. She pushed her plate and cup out of the way. Heat spread through her entire body as he arranged the pictures in front of her.
As blandly as if he were talking about going grocery shopping, he began explaining the photo shoot. “First, the photographer had me on the bed,” he said as he pointed to the top row of pictures: in one, he was on his stomach, his lower back arched and his ass raised off the bed, creating a shadow under him, another he was turned to his side, a hint of a white fur robe peeked out from under his body, and the third, he was propped on one elbow with his fingers digging into the white fur.
“Uh huh,” Sookie said, nodding numbly.
“But I thought this was better.” He tapped on the picture where he was standing in front of the bed. Giant glittering snowflakes hung behind him, sparkling in the picture. A light trail of dark blond hair pointed south of his navel. The last picture was a slight variation of the standing one, but he was facing the camera more directly, hiding his ass.
Sookie licked her lips. Her glass was empty. I need a drink. She pushed away from the table, filled her glass, and drank it as slowly as possible, hoping it would give her heart enough time to calm down. It didn’t work.
When she returned to the table, Eric looked up expectantly. “Well?”
She smiled. “This one. You look,” she paused, thinking about what to say next. Delicious. Fabulous. Stunning. Amazing. Like a god. Like you need to bend me over this table and remind me how talented you are. She chuckled and finally said, “good.”
“You and I have similar taste.” He stared at the picture objectively and then put it back on top of the pile. “Pam voted for this one,” he pulled out the one on his stomach.
“I like that one too.” Because you can see your world-class ass. “But I like this one better.”
“It’s decided.” Another dazzling smile. “These are all for you to keep.” His eyes bored into hers, making her mouth go dry.
She needed a shower, and not because her knees were crusted with dirt. She needed a cold shower. A nervous smile spread across her face. “Do you mind if I shower? I’m getting dirt all over the floor,” she added after noticing the dirty footprints she’d left when she’d filled the watering can.
Not waiting for him to answer, she left the kitchen and got into the shower, rinsing the dirt off her bikini and skin. After a few minutes, she wondered if he’d bothered to stick around after her abrupt departure. She closed her eyes and opened her mind, finding his blank spot moments later, still inside her house. She sighed. She couldn’t stay in the shower forever, no matter how desperately she wanted to avoid seeing more pictures of Eric naked. At least not with him around.
Leaving her bikini dripping from the showerhead, she wrapped her body in a robe and opened the door. Eric was sitting on her bed, his face buried in his hands.
“Sitting here on your bed, smelling your scent,” he inhaled. “Sookie … I remember everything.”
“Oh.” She knew it would happen sooner or later, and seeing as how she already told him everything anyway, it didn’t seem to matter much.
“I can’t believe I…” His eyes sparkled. “I was so happy. It had been centuries since I’d been that content.”
That was news. He had seemed happy, but it was strange that he would remember that before everything else. “You were so sweet,” Sookie said and couldn’t help a smile that turned up the corners of her mouth.
“I wanted to stay with you forever. I wanted to marry you.” His mouth hung open.
“Yeah, you mentioned that.” Sookie sat on the bed next to him, finding it easier than trying to look at him.
“I was so scared.” His voice took on a hard edge. She was sure it was the hardest memory to stomach. “Before the battle with the witches, and then after when I thought you’d left me.”
Sookie’s eyes met his finally. “I didn’t want to leave you, but I knew everything would be different. I was going to lose you.”
“I held you that night. Our last night together.”
Tears wetted her eyelashes. “I didn’t want to let you go. I was an idiot. I should’ve been more selfish and turned my car around and hidden you forever.” She took his hand in hers. “Believe me, Eric, I wanted nothing more than a sweet little domestic life with you, but…”
“What?” His forehead furrowed and his eyes locked on hers.
“It was a lie. It wasn’t you. It wasn’t you who loved me. It wasn’t you who held me. It wasn’t you who kissed every inch of my body and made me feel things I didn’t think were possible.” She shook her head. “Sure, we got along, and I enjoyed your company, and you listened to me when I talked, and wanted to make my life easier, but it wasn’t you.”
Eric nodded. “Yes it was. That is who I am at my core, stripped of all the sarcasm, bitterness, and years of anger. My raw emotions, ones I never acknowledge, somehow came to the surface, pushing the others down.”
Sookie sniffed and dabbed at her eyes. It was too good to be true.
“And the sex…” He took a deep unnecessary breath. “It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced.”
“You and me both,” Sookie added in a whisper, which of course he heard.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about you, and now…” His fingers slid onto her knee, caressing the exposed flesh. “Now I know how good it was, I will never stop.”
“Never stop what?” She was almost afraid to ask.
“I will never stop until you’re mine.” His other hand came up to her cheek, cradling her face.
Want more? On to Mr. January: Part 2