AN: I had a lot of fun writing this chapter. Thanks again for all the reviews! BTW, I borrowed the idea of Eric as a “beautiful monster” based on a guest reviewer’s comment. I know a lot of you are wanting Sam to disappear, but sorry, he is a very stubborn man in this story and just isn’t going away for a while.
By the time Sookie got to Hummingbird Lane, her tears had dried up but the hurt and humiliation had intensified. Sam’s accidental admission that he had peeked in on her while she was pleasuring herself had been mortifying, but now that she thought about it more, she refused to allow herself to feel bad. Men did it all the time, unapologetically. She was a single woman who had needs that sure as hell weren’t being met and if she felt like it, then she would by God do it. It was none of Sam’s or anyone’s damned business!
She thought back to her failed attempts at dating and the few times she had come close to doing the deed. Invariably, the men’s unflattering thoughts during their intimacy were like the mental equivalent of a freezing cold shower. JB had been the only man she had dated who she could remotely tolerate because of his kind and simple nature and relatively benign thoughts, but…he just wasn’t the one for her. That ship sailed long ago and he was with Tara now, anyway.
Suddenly, after a long romantic dry spell, she had two suitors, one of whom she had known for years and considered a close friend, and the other a virtual stranger. It appeared they were not on friendly terms with one another based on Sam’s thoughts (to put it mildly), but they had something in common: both were not exactly “normal” guys, and both had humiliated her.
Maybe it was a tad melodramatic, but she felt disgusted by men in general (hell, what girl hadn’t felt that way at one time or another?). From being molested by her uncle as a child, to her current bizarre experiences with Sam and Eric, she was fed up. Despite Gran’s fear about her being alone, she was going to be that way, by choice. At least for a while. Maybe one day she’d meet a decent fella who would do right by her. But until then…
As her old car bounced up and down on the uneven gravel driveway, she saw a van idling in her yard. On the side in flowing script was written “Summerlin Florist and Gifts…Shreveport Florist Since 1947.” There was also two luxury vehicles parked on the right side of the van, annoyingly blocking her access to the back of the house where she usually parked.
She pulled in beside the van as a middle aged woman with a brown bob jumped out of the driver’s side. Her thoughts indicated she had been waiting for a while. A twenty-something male exited the passenger side and stood, apparently waiting for instructions from the older woman.
Sookie glanced to the right, over at a man with glasses who stood by a silver car. He looked impatient and annoyed. As she peeked into his thoughts, her hand flew to her mouth in shock.
The woman attempted to talk to her while the man approached. Before she could begin speaking, he rudely interrupted her. “Ms. Stackhouse. Let me introduce myself. My name is Bobby Burnham and I am the assistant of…”
“Eric Northman,” Sookie said slowly, as if in a daze.
He appraised her warily. “That is correct. And if I may…”
The woman glared at him and spoke up, overriding his voice. “Hello dear, I am sorry to interrupt, but we need to get the flowers out of the van because I am due back at the shop. We can either leave them on the porch or can begin taking them into your house if you’d like.” She wasn’t sure, but she suspected that the irritating man was the one who had ordered on behalf of a Mr. Northman. The caller had paid her triple usual delivery fee in order to rush them out to arrive this morning. He had insisted and was quite rude about it. However, since the order was huge (he had cleaned out her entire stock of red roses causing her to scramble to obtain more from her supplier), she acquiesced, her curiosity even leading her to deliver them herself.
Sookie turned to her, a frown on her face.
“I’m not sure you’ve got the right person’s house. I uh, wasn’t expecting any flowers or anything.”
The woman smiled at her. “You are Sookie Stackhouse, correct?”
“Well then, we’ve got the right person! Now, where do you want us to put the flowers?”
“Well, I guess if you don’t mind, you can bring them in and set them down wherever you find space in the kitchen and dining room.” She went to unlock her front door.
She walked back down the steps towards Bobby. She could tell by the hostile tone of his thoughts that he thought her to be backwoods trash, and was incredulous that “Mr. Northman” would waste his money and energy on her.
She eyed him speculatively as he huffed and began again. “Yes, as I was saying before we were interrupted.” He shot the florist a dirty look and said, “I work for Mr. Eric Northman, who you may know has purchased the property adjacent to the cemetery.” He paused and proceeded as if citing a memorized script, although it seemed to pain him.
“He wishes to apologize in advance for any noise that you may hear coming from his property, as he is having contractors begin remodeling of the house and land starting today. As an act of good faith and apology for the disturbance, he wanted to bestow several gifts….”
Sookie interrupted him as she stared wide-eyed at the sleek, silver Mercedes. “I…I can’t accept that! I mean, a car…a Mercedes? No…no, I’m sorry, but please tell Mr. Northman that while I appreciate his generosity and…”
“I apologize, ma’am, but the vehicle’s title is in your name, as is the insurance for the car, which has been paid in full for the next year.” He handed her an envelope and a set of keys, which were attached to a jewel encrusted letter “S” keychain. She froze in shock, her mind racing and riffling through several emotions at once: shock, anger, embarrassment, and…to be honest, did she feel a smidgeon flattered? She gave herself a mental slap and started to rebut his offer, but the man had turned back towards his car and had popped open the trunk. He retrieved several small boxes, which he thrust at her, causing her to reach out and grasp them instinctively.
“He also requested that you accept these…small tokens of his affection. He asked that you read the card on top before you open the gifts.” He gave her a small, begrudging nod as he hastily made his way back to his car. He was pissed. He had been required to go above and beyond the call of duty, as far as he was concerned given that he had to contact the owners of the stores (at their private numbers) to express ship the jewelry via private couriers. As soon as he checked in with the contractors due to arrive at Mr. Northman’s property, his distasteful tasks for the day would be completed. After his run-in with that hick bar owner, he was in a particularly foul mood and wanted nothing more than to return to his Shreveport condo and get some sleep.
Sookie stood and watched him, while listening to his mental grumbling, which basically boiled down to “all that money wasted for an illiterate cow.” He revved his engine and turned sharply in his BMW, which bumped haphazardly down her driveway. She could hear him cursing the damage to the undercarriage of his car from the rocks as he drove away.
The florist came up to her with a huge grin on her face.
“You sure do have quite a romantic boyfriend, Ms. Stackhouse, you lucky lady! Now, I have put the bouquets in the kitchen and dining room, as you requested, but I’m afraid I also had to put a couple in the foyer, because I ran out of room. We’d be more than happy to go back in and arrange them to where…”
Sookie cleared her throat, as her mouth had suddenly dried up. “No, no need, that’s fine…I appreciate it.”
The woman nodded her head and said, “I put the delivery receipt on the dining room table.” She looked worriedly at Sookie, who seemed bewildered.
“Well, I sure hope you enjoy them. I’ll bet your whole house already smells wonderful!” When Sookie didn’t answer her, she shrugged and signaled for her employee to get into the van. “You take care now, you hear?” Sookie continued to stare off into space while the van drove away.
She was left standing with the car keys, envelope, and stack of boxes in her arms. A large crow landed on a tree and cawed loudly at her, jolting her out of her haze.
She slowly climbed the porch steps and gasped when she opened the door. Her house looked like a florist shop! Her dining room table, kitchen counter, and even the floor were crowded with numerous red rose bouquets. They were all arranged in expensive looking, heavy crystal vases. The florist was right: her house did smell amazingly fragrant…but talk about overkill! She entered her living room and placed the boxes and car keys on her coffee table and went back to the foyer, moving two of the arrangements temporarily to the bottom stair step to clear a path from the front door.
She plopped onto the couch and stared at the pile of gifts for several moments before summoning the courage to lift the silver envelope that sat on top of the boxes. The envelope was blank, as was the front of the card, which was on heavy white stock paper. She held it in her trembling hand and began to read:
I wish to extend my sincerest apologies. It was not my intention to cause you any distress or embarrassment. Please accept these small tokens of atonement.
I will see you soon.
P.S. The Van Cleef & Arpels pieces reminded me of your…unusual heritage. The Tiffany jewelry was selected to echo the beautiful blue of your eyes.
She reread the note several times. She shook her head in amazement. It was more than obvious that his idea of a “small token” was vastly different than hers. And she snorted at the real reason he had sent the gifts, not the bogus story about “noise” he had fed to his assistant. She considered returning the boxes to him, unopened, but curiosity finally got the better of her.
She reached for the top two white boxes, which had the unfamiliar name “Van Cleef & Arpels” in simple lettering, with a “V, C” and “A” logo on the corner. The smaller of the boxes revealed a beautiful platinum and diamond brooch, in the shape of a winged fairy. She marveled at its beauty and set it to the side. The second box held a platinum and diamond banded watch, with the image of the same fairy set in the middle of the watch face; her wand pointing to the hour and a wingtip indicating the minutes. She was at a loss…she could only guess at how much something like this would cost, as it was completely beyond her frame of reference. She placed the beautiful jewelry back in the boxes and set them aside.
She recognized the teal colored Tiffany’s boxes that were wrapped in ivory ribbon (Tara had ordered a charm for herself several months ago and Sookie had seen the box it had arrived in). The boxes contained a matching platinum necklace, drop earrings, and ring, each with pear-shaped sapphires surrounded by diamonds. She let out a breath she didn’t realize she had been holding. She placed all of the jewelry back in their boxes and sat back heavily into the couch.
She was stunned by the amount of money this man…this obviously wealthy man had lavished upon her without any hesitation. The implication of such gifts and the platinum and jeweled encrusted strings that would be attached to them made her cringe.
She stared at the wall for several minutes until she heard a vehicle driving towards her house. She shot up and peeked out the window. Damn! It was Sam. He actually had the gall to show up at her house after this morning? Well, she sure wasn’t in the mood for him. Or any man, for that matter.
She yanked open the door and stood out on the porch, with her arms folded.
Sam parked his truck and sat for a few seconds. It looked like he was staring at the new silver car sitting in her yard. He got out and slowly approached the house, a worried expression on his face.
“Sam Merlotte, you can just get back in your truck and turn the hell around. You have some nerve to show up after what you did!” She glared at him.
“Sookie…look. I am so damned sorry! I didn’t mean for-”
She interrupted him. “Mean for what? For me to see that you had peeped at me? Saw me doing something intimate that you had no business watching?”
He looked down, ashamed.
She continued. “How would you feel if I watched you jerking off? Bet you wouldn’t like that! Or hell, maybe you would? I don’t even know you anymore, Sam.”
He looked up, a pained expression on his face. He blurted out, “Yeah, I admit I wrong, Sookie! I hadn’t meant to see you….I mean, I wasn’t trying to peep in at you, I swear. I was watching the damned vampire that had snuck into your house! I was trying to make sure you were safe, I promise I wasn’t doing it to be a pervert!”
Sookie looked at him, the expression on her face hard. “Yeah, I caught a glimpse of that in your thoughts…you were trying to…what? Let me know how sick the both of you are?” She huffed. “I already knew he had sneaked into my house…apparently I “invited” him in while I was sleepwalking the other night. Otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to get in. ”
His eyes darted back to the Mercedes and back to her.
“So…now he’s giving you cars?” He looked into her open door and saw roses on the stair steps. “And giving you flowers? What, to make it okay to take advantage of you? Drink your blood while you’re sleeping? Pay you off to make it okay to jerk off in your closet?”
Sookie gasped. She hadn’t known about that part. She bit out, “Oh, this keeps getting better and better!” She walked down the steps until she got right up in Sam’s face. She poked him in the chest.
“Listen, Sam, you need to give me some space. I really can’t talk to you right now. I feel beyond violated and betrayed by you.”
“And not the vampire? What he did was worse, for Christ’s sake! And now he’s trying to buy you off!”
“Sam. I am not having this conversation. In fact, I think I need to take a couple of days off to figure things out. I’m sorry if that leaves you short-handed and all, but I really can’t stand being around you right now. Please leave me the hell alone.” She turned to walk up the stairs and spoke to him without looking back. “I’ll be back to work in a couple of days. We’ll talk then…maybe.”
Sam watched her close the door. He was so pissed and disappointed, for so many reasons. He glared at the Mercedes and grumbled, “Fucking filthy rich vamp thinks he can buy everybody off. Well, we’ll see about that.” He got back in his truck and drove off, vowing to figure out a way to get back into Sookie’s good graces, no matter what he had to do and however long it took. Getting rid of Northman was going to be a much more difficult task, he knew…
Sookie went to her kitchen and heated up some vegetable soup in the microwave. She ate while sitting on the kitchen stool, bewildered as she stared at the mountain of roses. She wasn’t really hungry, and so ended up dumping most of it out. She was already exhausted due to emotional overload and it was barely past noon. But then again, she hadn’t really gotten much sleep and only had a few sips of coffee. She decided to go up to her bedroom to rest for a while.
She removed the ponytail holder and shook her hair out while toeing her sneakers off. As she lay on her bed, her thoughts raced. Good lord…what the hell was she going to do?
There had been a domino effect in her life since Gran had died. While she had initially been sucked into a morass of grief (which had skewed her perception of time and caused events to be seen as if through a haze) she suddenly felt as if someone had turned up the intensity dial on her life to “11.” It seemed as if things were speeding along, fast forward like a runaway train.
Gran had told her that she was fated (for all intents and purposes), to be with the vampire. A vampire, of all the men in the world! Now that she realized her dating pool extended to non-human men, it made the whole situation that much more bizarre.
There was no doubt in the world that Eric Northman was a beautiful man…a beautiful monster, really. Regardless of his good looks, wealth, seeming generosity, and well-spoken, gracious mannerisms, he was still a monster. Wasn’t he? He was a freaking vampire…the stuff of legends, horror movies, and nightmares. Well, unless it was Twilight’s Edward Cullen. But Eric didn’t sparkle or seem to be interested in protecting her “virtue,” that was for sure! The thought of the dark and delicious things he could do to her made her shiver.
She shook her head indignantly. The guy sneaks his way into her house, has a mutual masturbation session in her closet (unbeknownst to her!), and decides to tap her vein while she slept. And then, to top things off, he goes and buys her a car. A Mercedes, no less, as well as a small fortune worth of jewelry and the contents of a florist shop. A gesture of atonement, she scoffed to herself.
She decided she would return the car, along with the jewelry. She would leave them over at his property next door. She planned to take some of the flowers to Gran’s grave (which had a double-meaning in her mind, since Gran was the one who wished him into her life!), and then donate the rest to the local nursing home.
She felt a little better after making up her mind and finally began to relax for the first time in several hours. She closed her eyes and dozed, just for a minute…
The next thing she knew, she heard a knocking on her front door. She glanced at her alarm clock. Ugh! She had slept for several hours. She glanced out her window and saw that the sun had set, though there was still pre-dusk lightness to the sky.
She groggily got up and smoothed her hair back. She walked downstairs in a half-awake daze. She opened the front door without giving it any thought.
She was faced with a smiling blonde Adonis who was holding a bouquet of purple hyacinths and a box of Godiva chocolates. He was wearing dark jeans and a black, tight fitting v-neck shirt and his hair was pulled back in a sleek ponytail. As soon as she laid eyes on him, her heart sped up and a rush of sensation flooded her lady parts.
He tilted his head slightly as a crooked smile appeared on his face. “Hello, Sookie.”
AN: Purple hyacinths=apology. Yeah, I know Eric’s gifts were over the top, but this is an extremely wealthy guy who doesn’t know how to date and is getting advice from Pam. In case you’re curious, you can check out the fairy brooch and watch on the Van Cleef & Arpels website. I had to Google the price of the watch since it wasn’t listed (it’s always a bad sign when stores or restaurants don’t list prices, as it basically means it’s going to cost a fuckload. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it, I guess). There are different versions of the watch, but the one Eric got for her had a diamond band…which goes for just under 100K, I’m pretty sure…The Tiffany jewelry is also on their respective website but in tanzanite. I just changed it to sapphire.
Thanks again to all that favorite and follow this story. And for those of you who leave reviews: you deserve for Eric to arrive on your doorstep with ridiculously expensive gifts and flowers. Wearing nothing but a smile (and oiled up for you, The Vikings Succubus!). ; )