Chapter 8

EPOV

Reeeeally… this is promising.  Sookie’s brother’s… er… candor has suddenly made this evening entirely more interesting… and entertaining.  It’s no secret that this group outing was not my first choice of diversions.  However, since Sookie is dedicated to her boyfriend, I’m going to take what I can get when it comes to spending time with her.

I’m fully aware of how women see me and what they think.  Although unusual, I thought it was possible that Sookie doesn’t find me attractive.  Disappointing, but possible.  Now though… her buffoon of a brother’s tactless opening comment has her face rivaling the color of the Corvette parked outside.  I feel bad for her when her voice wavers.  “Excuse me, please,” she mumbles before grabbing Jason’s arm and towing him out of the bar.

Uncomfortable silence.  Not what I was hoping for.  I look around at the five faces staring at me and clear my throat awkwardly.  Opening a menu, I feign nonchalance.  “So… what’s good here?”

The leggy redhead – Amelia, my mind recalls – leaps aboard my attempt to alleviate the silence and starts making recommendations.  Her suggestions prompt small talk while drinks are ordered.  Sheepishly and quietly, Sookie returns to the table followed by her thoroughly chastised brother.  Holly hands her the margarita that was delivered in her absence while Danielle shoots Jason a dirty look, making him look even more like a kicked puppy.  I almost feel bad for him.  Almost.

I tap Amelia on the shoulder and give her a quick summary of what I’m thinking.  She flashes me a diabolical grin before getting to her feet and approaching the taller of the two man-mountains that arrived with Jason.  She tugs on his arm with a steamy look hot enough to melt ice; he enthusiastically follows her.  I turn my eyes to Danielle and Holly, flicking my gaze to Jason and the other giant.  Holly smiles and stands; Danielle rolls her eyes but follows the game plan.  In short order, there are three couples dancing to the piped-in music, leaving me alone at the table with a mortified blond.

I change seats so I’m sitting next to a still-blushing Sookie.  “Do you want to dance?” I ask her quietly.  She covers her face and mutely shakes her head.  “Can we talk?” I continue and she slowly nods.  Patting her hand, I say, “Talking will be easier if you’re not covering your mouth.”

She lowers her hands and looks up at me.  “I don’t think I’ve ever been more embarrassed in my life.  I’m sorry if my fool of a brother made this awkward.”

Amazing.  She’s apologizing for someone else’s actions that obviously upset her.  I shake my head and give her a soft smile.  “As tactless as it was, is it wrong that I feel a little relieved to find out that you are attracted to me?  Because I was finding it rather frustrating not to have my attraction returned.”

Sookie gives me a slightly bitter chuckle before shooting a worried-looking Jason a filthy glare.  “Not a common occurrence for you, huh?”

I shrug.  “It’s not often I meet someone that I take the effort to pursue.  You’re gorgeous, Sookie, and I hope I’m making it obvious how much I’d like to spend more time with you while I’m here.  Not as a group; just you alone.”

She opens her mouth to say something, pauses, and promptly closes it.  She bites down on her lower lip and I instantly want to take over that duty.  Interrupting my increasingly steamy thoughts of other things she could do with those lips, she finally says, “I have a boyfriend, Eric.  As attracted as I am to you, it wouldn’t be right or fair to him.  I don’t have any objection to getting to know each other better but… well… Sam’s kind of… er… jealous of you.”

Hmm… interesting information.  I’m not going to push anything.  I’m here for five months – until August.  It’s only the beginning of April now.  I will have to leave for publicity purposes at the beginning of June and filming for the movie starts at the end of the same month.  I still have two whole months to myself to pursue what I want.  And I want Sookie.  Since she seems more at ease now, I extend my hand again.  “Can I have that dance now?  I promise I’ll be totally proper.  No funny business.”

The shy smile I find cute as hell graces her face again and she nods.  I help her from her chair and escort her to the floor where the other couples are still dancing.  Amelia throws me a wink when I wrap my arm around Sookie’s waist.  I’m careful to keep a decent amount of space between our bodies, despite how much I want to pull her to me.  I look down at her as we sway slowly to the soft music.  “Since we’re getting to know each other, tell me a little about yourself.”

She chuckles again.  “I’m boring, Eric.  I’ve lived here my whole life, except for the four years I was in college.  I started working for Norris Realty almost as soon as I graduated and I’ve been dating Sam Merlotte for about a year.  Really, my life is nothing extraordinary.”

I can’t help but smile at her.  She thinks she’s not special, but she’s like no one I’ve met in a long time.  She’s not a pampered starlet, fawning fan, or someone hoping to catch me unaware.  I’ve had to learn to be careful of who I associate with; people can be devious when it comes to getting what they want.  Sookie seems to be one of the most genuine women I’ve met.  “What about your family?  While I have a hard time believing you have the same parents, I know the guy over there is your brother.  Is one of you adopted?”

Her laughter is like bells.  “Don’t think I haven’t asked the same thing.  No, we’re true, genetic siblings.  Umm, let’s see… Momma and Daddy divorced about five years ago and she moved to Michigan.  Daddy still lives here, taking care of his mom, my Gran.”

“What about your friends?” I ask, gesturing to the people around us.

“Well,” she starts, “Amelia and I met in preschool.  We’d fight over Barbies and a lifelong friendship started.  I went to high school with Danielle, but we didn’t become friends until we started working together.  I met Holly after college when Calvin hired her.  I have another good friend, Kennedy, but she’s working tonight and couldn’t join us.”  She nods her head at the gigantic men dancing also.  “Tray and Alcide work with Jason and I don’t honestly know them that well.  They show up at summer barbeques and stuff, but I don’t know much about them beyond their names.”  She flushed pink again.   “I really hate talking about myself.  Tell me about you… things I wouldn’t know from TMZ.”

I move a little closer to her and lean down.  “What sorts of things would you like to know, Sookie?” I ask, knowing by her shiver that my accent comes through and carries the innuendo I intend it to.

“Oh… basic stuff,” she says, a little breathlessly.  “Favorite color, favorite foods… books, movies, music… things like that.  I thought you promised no funny business, buddy.”

I can’t help but grin down at her.  Her walls are starting to weaken.  I’m starting to get to her; I had hoped she wouldn’t hold onto the proper, professional persona for long.  If I plan carefully, I can get to know her in all the ways I want to before the summer ends.

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