Sookie looked at Eric expectantly. “Eric.”
“I was thinking about Tulane if I get in.” He said hesitantly, knowing that was her first choice.
“It’s a great school.” She agreed, settling back into the seat, gazing out the window at the stars in the sky as they drove through the country to JB’s house. She blinked her eyes to keep the tears back.
“This doesn’t mean you can’t go to college, Sook.” He said gently, reaching across to where her hands were clenched in her lap.
She nodded, afraid to speak.
Eric wove his hand in between hers and slowed down the car, pulling off the road. He parked the car and cut the engine, turning to face her. “Why didn’t you tell me, Sookie?” His voice was barely above a whisper.
“About me and Alcide?” She asked tearfully, wiping at her eyes. She couldn’t bear to look into his, afraid of what she might see.
She shook her head and sighed. “I was worried you would be mad at me. I knew you didn’t like him and I was worried you would think I was being stupid.”
Eric stretched across the bench seat and pulled her back against him, nestling her in his arms. “I would never think you are stupid.”
“But you’re mad.”
“A little. It’s hard.” He responded, tenderly rubbing her back as she tucked her head under his chin.
Her tears made his shirt damp. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay, Sook. You didn’t mean for things to turn out this way. I just always kinda thought…well, you know.” His voice trailed off and she didn’t have to look up at him to know he was flushed.
She pressed a kiss over his heart. “I know. I always thought so, too.”
“We were one another’s first kiss.” His voice cracked and he cleared his throat, trying to cover it with a cough.
“Yeah, we were.” She nodded, listening to his heart thump under her ear. “My first time making out was with you.”
“If you liked me so much why didn’t you ever ask me to be your girlfriend?” She looked up into his eyes, which were dark blue in the moonlight.
He shook his head. “I don’t know. I wish I had.” His eyes took on sheen and she wondered if he was going to cry.
She touched the side of his face, feeling his soft stubble, then swept her hand gently over his eyes as he closed them. “Don’t be sad, Eric.”
He didn’t say anything, just held her closer, burying his face into her hair, hiding his tears.
“You are the best friend I have ever had, Eric.”
“I know I’ve always been in the friend zone.” He responded with a laugh.
She sat up and looked at him. “Eric Northman! Are you kidding me?”
“What?” He leaned his head back against the seat, looking at her curiously.
“You put yourself in the friend zone. I didn’t do that.” She put her hands on her hips.
“I wanted to ask you to the junior prom,” Eric said wistfully, “but Alcide asked you to be his girlfriend before I could.”
Sookie snorted and fell back against him. “Well, Eric, if you don’t mind his cast-off you can ask me now. I am sure he isn’t going to want to go with me.”
“Don’t talk about yourself like that.” He scolded, his voice tense. “You were always too good for him.”
She smiled into his chest. “You have to say that. It’s in our friendship contract.”
He laughed, a deep laugh that shook her and it sounded wonderful. She joined in, his laughter was contagious. “Tell me, Sook, what is in this so-called friendship contract?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” She stuck her tongue out at him and poked his side where he was ticklish.
He grabbed her hands to stop her and pulled her close to him, her hands stretched above his head. “Yes, I actually would.” His voice deepened.
Sookie felt the familiar attraction she always carried for Eric begin to tingle in her stomach. She’d been in love with him ever since she could remember, but she was too shy to ever do anything about it. When Alcide asked her out, she was flattered and excited that someone as old and as popular as him would pay attention to her. She got swept up with all the attention and when he told her that he loved her, she reckoned she loved him too.
She bit her lip and looked up into Eric’s face. He was studying her intently, his body warm against hers. “Sookie?” He whispered hoarsely.
“Mmm?” She sighed, pulling her hands loose from his, resting them on his shoulders. She stroked the soft, silky hair at the base of his neck.
“Do you ever think about that night?” His breath was warm against her neck as he leaned down to speak in her ear.
“The one after homecoming?” She asked, shivering from the memory.
“Yes.” He stroked the end of her ponytail, twirling the ends around his long fingers.
She pulled back so she could see his face. “Do you?”
“All the time.” His lips were so close to hers, all she had to do was move a fraction of an inch and they would be kissing. Eric slowly leaned forward and she closed her eyes, waiting to feel his soft kiss. Instead, his head dipped to her neck and he placed several kisses along the column of her throat. For a moment she felt his tongue, wet against her skin and then he pulled back. “I’m sorry.”
Startled Sookie returned to her seat as he started the car and pulled on his seatbelt. She watched him through her tear-filled eyes as she fastened her own belt and he got them back on the road.
Soon Eric parked in the field by JB’s house and Sookie quickly flipped down the visor to check her eye makeup. She blotted her smeared eyeliner with a Kleenex from her purse and touched up her lip-gloss. Eric opened the door for her and helped her out before they silently made their way towards the crowd of kids gathered around the bon-fire in JB’s backfield.
She could see Alcide standing with Dawn, one of the girls that hung out with his group of friends and they looked awfully cozy. Despite whatever almost occurred between her and Eric a few moments ago, it really kicked her in the gut to see him touching another girl like that. She stopped a moment in her tracks, trying to prepare herself for what might come.
Eric realized she was not behind him and turned back to her. His legs were so long he took much larger steps than she did. “What is it, Sookie?” He asked, blocking her from the partying crowd behind them.
“He’s already moved on!” She cried, craning her head to see Eric’s face.
“He doesn’t deserve you.” He repeated what he said earlier, rubbing her arm.
“You don’t know the half of it, Eric.” She responded, tightening her ponytail and smoothing her clothes.
“What haven’t you told me, Sook?” He hunched down a bit to see her eyes. He had a bad habit of slouching when he was with shorter people.
She shook her head. “Nothing I can tell you right now, Eric. I don’t want to get either of us upset. I just can’t believe it took him less than 24 hours to start messing around with Dawn. He moved fast.”
Eric’s jaw was set and she wished she could read what was going through his mind. He took her hand firmly in his and pulled her along with him. “Fuck him. He’s not the only one who has moved on.”
A/N: Thank you so much for all of your great feedback on this story! Remember each comments inspires me to write more and helps my muse feel appreciated. 😉 The moment we hit ten reviews on this chapter, I will post a teaser for 6. Hopefully it happens before it’s time to post 6! Lots of love to my awesome partner in crime, jaxgny, for her supreme beta skills.
Thank you also for all of you kind, supportive words about my Grandma. How she managed to survive this is beyond me, but I am so glad she did! I was able to bring her home from the hospital yesterday. Again…thank you.