He’s kissing me. Holy shit, he’s actually kissing me. I’m too shocked to do more than just stand here. I can’t wrap my arms around him (like I want to). I don’t close my eyes and lean toward him (like I’d love to). I can’t respond in any way to his surprisingly soft lips brushing gently against mine. He’s not aggressive, but I’m still paralyzed with the unspoken intentions that the kiss promises.
Regaining my senses and control of my limbs, I step away from him and press my back against my vehicle. “Eric, I can’t do this.”
Somehow he manages to look ashamed and smug at the same time. “I’m sorry… but I’m not. I don’t want to do anything you don’t want me to, but you can’t be so blind as to not see how attracted I am to you. But it was a spur of the moment impulse. It won’t happen again… unless you initiate it. I promise.”
Fuck. Puppy dog eyes. It would normally be hilarious to see a six-foot-five Swede giving anyone puppy eyes, but I’m nowhere near laughing as he looks down at me. Biting the inside of my lip, I nod silently. I compose my thoughts in that quiet moment. “Eric, I really like spending time with you, but I really can’t do this if the intense flirting continues. I refuse to do that to Sam. I won’t. Otherwise, I’ll have to hand your property off to one of the other girls or Mr. Norris to handle.”
I don’t want to do that, but being… tempted and teased like this is a one-way trip to doing something (probably multiple somethings) that I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself for. He is a very nice and likeable guy, not at all like you would expect a guy of his sex-symbol status to act around regular Joe and Jane Schmoes. But Sam is the guy I let go of my relationship bitterness for and I refuse to treat him the way Momma did Daddy.
The smugness leaves his expression and I can see regret. “Then I really am sorry, Sookie. I don’t want to make you so uncomfortable as to hand me off to someone else. I promise that I won’t make any unwanted advances again.”
I nod in agreement again. Shit, now everything’s all awkward. Trying desperately to keep my cheeks from the blazing pink they seem to be stained with in his presence, I hold my hand out nonchalantly. “Than Mr. Northman, I hope you have a good evening. I really do need to get home and sleep so I can be more than a zombie at work tomorrow.”
He shakes my hand with a hint of his famous smirk. “Good night, Sookie. Thank you for dinner tonight.”
I give him a genuine smile as I climb into my Explorer. In my rearview, I see him watching me leave until I turn the curve and disappear from his sight. Sighing, I relax the stiffness in my back and think, making the turns and navigating the dark backroads with ease.
I wasn’t playing coy when I told Eric earlier that I was boring. I’m the stereotypical small town girl. The height of adventure in my life (until very recently) was the four years I spent at college in Virginia Beach. I became friends with people I would have never had the chance to meet in my hometown – stoner frat-boys, hyper intellectual athletes, eccentric artists and writers looking in various places for their muses. When I graduated and came back home, it was with a well-rounded appreciation for all types of people, regardless of their quirks.
I could never have imagined myself in this situation though. The object of my steamiest fantasies for the past few years is not only in my town and my client, but is actively pursuing me. I don’t know what to do with that.
I had one boyfriend in high school, Andre. We dated from our freshman year Homecoming dance until he left for college in Seattle after graduation. He had been my first… everything, but we knew it wasn’t going to last with us going to college on different coasts and parted on friendly terms. In college, I was overwhelmed. Felipe, the Spanish soccer player was the older guy that I hadn’t been prepared for. Dillon was a temperamental actor who expressed himself perfectly on paper, but rarely spoke when not in character. When I tired of being handed notes like a thirteen year old, we broke up. Then there was Godric.
Godric was the literal son of a preacher man that I first met at a frat party my freshman year. After Dillon and I broke up, I realized he was more than the Kappa Alpha brother with a never ending supply of pot and a happy-go-lucky demeanor. I could never really explain it, but his dark, curly hair and big gray-green eyes captivated me and it wasn’t long until we were inseparable. He was a year ahead of me and at the end of my junior year, I was crushed when he left to go home to Connecticut after he graduated. It wasn’t until I met Sam that I realized I was truly over Godric.
Eric’s introduction into my life just messes up my orderly ways. I like routine. I like knowing what to expect. I don’t like surprises and every time I’ve been with Eric, despite knowing him for just over twenty-four hours, I get surprised, that kiss being only the most recent. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t flattered by the attention.
I decide to get some attention that won’t make me feel guilty and wait for a straight stretch of road to pull out my phone. Hitting the long-memorized number sequence on my phone, I wait for the answer. “Merlotte’s. This Kennedy. How can I help ya?”
I smile at my friend’s greeting. “Hey Ken. We missed you tonight. Watching Jase flirt with Danielle was hilarious.”
Her laugh is contagious. “I bet it was. You lookin’ for your honey?”
“Yeah, thanks hon.” I listen to generic hold music for about a minute before Sam picks up the line in his office. “Hey babe, how was dinner?”
“Eh,” I say. “Jason’s flirting was grotesque and Danielle wasn’t all that impressed. I guess it’s back to your place next week.” I leave out any and all mentions of who else was at dinner. “You closing up soon?”
He sighs. “Yeah, looks that way. Mondays are always slow when it’s not football season. What’s up?”
I turn into my driveway and open the garage. “I was thinking maybe you could spend the night tonight. I miss you.”
“How long has it been,” he asks and I can hear the grin in his voice.
“I haven’t seen you since Saturday afternoon. Please, sugar,” I plead softly.
I hear the rustle of him shutting up his office. “Kennedy, go ahead and call last call for the… four whole people in here and close up at ten-thirty,” he says in the background and I hear him tossing his keys. “Alright babe, I’ll be there in about twenty minutes. Love you.”
“You too, Sam. See you soon,” I say quietly and end the call before changing into a set of silver lingerie that Sam hasn’t seen yet. I know it’ll turn him on that I dressed up for him, but the twinge of guilt turns my stomach as I know another man’s face will be in my mind tonight.