“You’re late,” I admonished without looking away from the screens I’d been staring at for the last three hours, and no further ahead in my work than I had been when I started.
She put the cup of coffee down in front of me and then cuffed the back of my head, doing a little admonishing of her own as she ignored my bark with no bite and said, “You’re giving me a raise.”
“It would be your third one this month.”
And yet she was still worth way more than her six figure salary. At least I’d been smart enough to low-ball her at the start, knowing she’d one day figure that out.
They didn’t call me a genius for nothing.
“That’s your fault. Nobody told you to play with twins, so I deserved the double bump for having to deal with the double disappointment to their parents. I’m from the redneck capital of the country and even we frown on diddling our siblings,” Sookie replied without missing a beat. “If you insist on giving me more work than I’ve planned for, I insist you stick to the Monday/Thursday schedule already in place.”
“Monday/Thursday?” I asked, finally looking up so her blue eyes could playfully glare back into my own.
“Yep,” she smiled. “Those are the appointed trash days. If you want me to take yours out to the curb, you’ll need to conform.”
I grinned at her over the rim of the Starbucks cup she put in front of me and took a sip. If I didn’t know any better, I would think Sookie was jealous.
But I did know better.
And she did too.
Sookie was the one person who knew me best and the fact she didn’t fault me for my faults, told me I had indeed chosen the best person for the job as my executive assistant.
Her shit hot rack was just a bonus.
But she was the whole package. Brains. Beauty. Hips that were meant to be my handholds.
But we weren’t going there. Or so she kept telling me. So in the meantime, I amused myself with others.
“What?” I coyly asked. “Did…”
What was her name? Ginger? Dawn?
I decided a pronoun would have to do and smirked, finishing with, “She not meet your highly prestigious standards?”
Sookie snorted and said, “I doubt she would meet the height of the curb if she stood up on her tippy toes, but I wouldn’t doubt for a second she was high at some point last night. You must be running low if you’re resorting to the bottom of the barrel. Honestly Eric…”
Instead of finishing whatever it was she was going to say, she rolled her eyes and then changed directions by asking, “When was the last time you ate?”
I opened my mouth, but she cutoff my reply by adding, “And don’t tell me it was four hours ago, when you had your head in between her legs.”
Damn. I forgot her magical powers of telepathy when it came to my snark.
“It was five hours ago,” I huffed, giving her the very answer she’d just said she didn’t want. So I added, “mom,” just to poke the already angry bear. But it made no difference because she could smell my bullshit a mile away by now and knew I could never truly get angry at her. The truth was, if it wasn’t for Sookie, I probably would’ve wasted away by now.
“And poor Pam?” she asked. And because she knew me well enough to know exactly what I’d been answering, she added, “I hope you haven’t forgotten to feed her lately, unless she’s really a lesbian and got her own eating in five hours ago when you shared your takeout with her.”
“Of course not,” I replied, because that would be gross. I tapped her tank behind me, having no real way to know if she was a lesbian or if that was even possible. But I suspected it might be true when my actions only got me a look from her that all but deadpanned, “Fuck off, human.”
Pam was my aquatic salamander and she was the key to my near breakthrough. I’d been studying her because of the salamanders’ unique capability of regenerating entire limbs and parts of major organs. If we humans could figure out a way reverse-engineer the process in our own species, it would life changing.
We could repair spinal cord injuries, thereby allowing those affected by them to walk again. Brain injuries could be cured and bring the living dead back to just plain old living. A new hand could be regrown that could hold onto their partner’s. A new foot or leg for the guy or gal to use to chase after their kids. The wounded warriors our country was now inundated with made the practical applications all the more valuable. Heart disease. Liver disease. The possibilities were endless.
I just needed to figure out what it was that made it possible.
It all boiled down to the salamander’s immune system. More so, the macrophage cells and their response to the injury. More than just salamanders had some form of regenerative capabilities and it was widely believed many more once had them, but it had been ‘turned off’ at some point on the climb up the evolutionary ladder.
I wanted to turn it back on and I knew I was close. So very fucking close, but not quite there yet. There was something missing. Something that had been just on the tip of my brain’s tongue – just out of reach of my mental fingertips – for months now and it was slowly driving me crazy.
I’d hoped to cum to a conclusion last night, but it still eluded me.
“Are you going to tell me what she’s for yet?” Sookie asked and then grinned. “Or am I just going with my working theory that you’re a lot kinkier than I suspected?”
The sound of bells ringing and a crowd applauding filled the air, making Sookie laugh out, “I knew it!”
When she high-fived thin air, I deadpanned, “That will be all, Godric.”
“As you wish, sir. But before I go, if I may?” he asked.
I gestured for him to get on with it, knowing his sensors could pick up every square inch of the house, only to get a response of, “Bazinga.”
His smirk was tangible – corporeal – despite his binary form. I was both proud of the strides he’d made and frustrated I couldn’t physically punch him when he took sides.
And he always took Sookie’s side.
“Asshole,” I admonished. For both the ‘bazinga’ and for always choosing Sookie’s side.
“Nope,” Sookie laughed. “He and I already covered that this morning. He doesn’t have one and even if he did, I’ve been informed whatever came out of it wouldn’t stink.”
“Thick as thieves, you two,” I shook my head at her in mock disappointment, but unable to not return her smile. “And that’s why he’ll never be turned into a real boy.”
“What?” she asked, looking around the room with a confused expression, like I had a Godric puppet lying around just waiting to get up without needing any strings.
I glared at her – because I was a jealous asshole about to speak the God’s honest truth – when I replied, “As soon as I uploaded him into a body, you and Pinocchio would run away together.” And so she wouldn’t see the God’s honest truth behind that statement, I added, “Then who would bring me coffee and kick my dates out in the morning?”
“Yeah,” she rolled her eyes at me. “That’s what I do all day every day.”
Maybe not all day, but I made it a point to keep Sookie busy every day. I couldn’t have her wasting time on a loser boyfriend. Not when she had a loser boss who’d been waiting around for the last three years for her to give me a shot.
And as if her telepathy was in rare form and she now heard everything going on in my head – snark or otherwise – she changed the subject by saying, “You have a meeting with the board of directors this afternoon at two, so you need to be showered, dressed, and out the door by one thirty. I have a meeting with the curator at the Weisman Foundation at one to look at the artwork you’re interested in and then I’m meeting with the event planner for the charity ball tonight, so I won’t be here to light a fire under you. Do you think you can remember to wash your ass and cover it in some clothes without me here?”
“Probably not,” I grinned. “Maybe you should cancel your meetings so you can be here to wash my ass. And I won’t mind at all if you choose to cover what’s in front of it with a body part of yours when you’re done.”
Another God’s honest truth.
“Pfft…” She waved me off and stared down at the iPad she was now scrolling through in her hand, adding dismissively, “Even you don’t have the kind of money it would take for me to do that.”
And it was that God’s honest truth that made her stand above the rest.
I knew Sookie found me attractive. She had eyes and so did I. I’d caught her staring at my ass on more than one occasion, but her physical attraction to me wasn’t enough for her. Nor was my wealth or power enough to sway her.
But she would absolutely fuck my brain like the world was about to end if there was a way for her to do it.
She admired me – mostly. And she respected me – some of the time. But it was me – the real me – who held her attention. I could see it on her face whenever she studied my scribbled calculations when she thought I wasn’t paying attention. It was the care she showed when she made me come back to the human realm from the mathematical one I’d set up camp in. She made sure I ate. She made sure I slept. She made sure I didn’t lose myself in my work.
She was what kept me human.
And she was the only one in my life who had ever cared enough to do it. My father. My professors. My business associates. They would all happily let me wither away in my lab as long as I produced the next greatest thing for them to hawk that would make our stocks soar and thereby make them rich.
But not Sookie.
Like I said, she stood above the rest.
But I also knew she had an asinine morality code that kept her from pushing the envelope. Sure she would flirt back here and there. And she hadn’t filed any sexual harassment lawsuits against me – yet, but I was her boss and in her mind it wouldn’t be proper for her to be anything more than my employee.
She had no idea of how often and how close she’d been to being fired because of it.
But I’d already done the calculations. She’d already worked for me for three years and by my estimations, it would take two more for her to finally see what was in front of her all along. So I would bide my time and wait. And keep her busy enough that she didn’t have the time to have her own personal life so I wouldn’t have to compete for her affection. Sookie’s loyalty to me was absolute, for now. But I knew if she let some other bastard into her life in a romantic sense, she’d be loyal to him too.
It was an unacceptable risk.
The numbers told me so.
“I mean it Eric,” she said, back to using her mom voice. She was the only one to use it on me since my own had died when I was ten from a rare heart disorder.
It was what was driving me to figure out the Pam puzzle now.
“Victor’s gonna be all up my ass tomorrow if you don’t show up at the meeting this afternoon,” she nearly whined.
But I didn’t call her out on it because – according to Sookie – she didn’t whine.
Sookie was also a sometimes liar.
Victor had been my father’s business partner and he’d run the company in the years following his unexpected death in a car accident when I was in my teens. My father and I had grown apart after my mother died. It was easy to do when he’d shipped me off to boarding school barely a month after the funeral and it was during a drunken Christmas morning confession, two months before his own death, that I found out the reason he’d done it was because I looked just like her.
Apparently, it hurt to even look at me.
That hurt more than I’d ever let on.
I’d inherited everything from my father, but Victor ran the company up until I took my rightful spot as the CEO when I turned twenty-one. The business had been stagnant until that time, but when I took over.
I took over.
Now we were leading the pack in the technological industry. We were the forward thinkers everyone else was trying and failing to keep up with. And if I succeeded in figuring out human regeneration, by the time I was through, the name Northman would live on for all of eternity.
“Remind Victor your ass belongs to me and the job market at his age is everything it’s cracked up to be,” I replied and then surprised her by reaching out and pulling her closer. “In fact, I think you should let me inspect it for bite marks so I know he hasn’t been chewing yours.”
Sookie snorted before pulling herself free and said, “You need to eat.” She immediately threw her hand up just as my lips opened and she quickly added, “And I don’t mean me! But you’re clearly delirious.”
“I assure you, my mind is sound.”
And suddenly my other head was horny now that he’d heard something that sounded like eating Sookie.
“Puhleez,” she scoffed. “I know what type of girls you go for. I drag them out of here every other day, lying my ass-you-don’t-own off, promising you’ll call them. Waif-like skeletons, pumped full of silicone, and covered in a spray tan does not a Sookie make.” Then she surprised me by putting herself right in my face as she purred, “I am a real woman. And trust me when I say, Mr. Northman – I. Would. Break. You.”
If she meant my dick, it was more than enough incentive for me to figure out that whole regeneration thing because I’d want to grow it back only so she could break it all over again.
Huh. Maybe I was a little kinkier than I thought.
She licked her lips – and I was pretty sure I felt her tongue swipe across the head of my dick watching her do it – before she winked and turned to walk out the door, with an extra sway to her hips. I was still mesmerized by the sight well after I could no longer see it. But even then she called out behind her retreating behind and said, “You can stare at it all you want, Eric. But you don’t own it. Now wash yours and get it to the board meeting by two!”
‘Make me!’ my inner tween griped and stuck out his tongue.
But my inner perv had other things he wanted to do with it where Sookie was concerned.
But that wasn’t going to happen now that Sookie was on her way out of the house (as if that was my only stumbling block), just like I wasn’t going to the meeting. Why would I when I was sure the term ‘board meeting’ was really a misnomer.
‘Bored meeting’ was more like it.
Victor could handle it.
After all, he was a boring kind of guy and the job market just wasn’t what it once was.
Besides, I got a perverse sense of pleasure whenever Sookie yelled at me. It may have been because I would imagine her in head to toe leather and holding a riding crop while she did it.
So I adjusted the now uncomfortable tightness in the crotch of my pants and turned back to my work, trying to force my thoughts away from my Sookie-based fantasies and back into the mathematical conundrum in front of me.
It was hours later – or so she told me – when Sookie strolled into the room. Dressed to the nines and carrying a plate of food, she shoved my notes to the side and placed it onto the desk in front of me, asking, “Twelve hours, Eric? I’ve been gone for twelve hours and you haven’t moved an inch. What am I going to do with you?”
Scrubbing the calculations from my brain by rubbing my eyes, I smirked at her and said, “Dressed like that, you can do anything you want to do to me.”
I assumed she’d gone to the charity event she’d spoken of earlier. I probably should have gone too, considering it was being thrown by the Northman Foundation, but that was right up there with attending one of those bored meetings.
Her eyes playfully rolled back at me, while she unrolled the silverware she’d carried down with her, and she tucked the linen napkin into the neckline of my t-shirt. Cutting into the steak dinner, she brought a piece to my lips on the fork and smirked, saying, “Aaahhhh…”
Unable to resist, I grabbed her wrist in my hand and leaned towards her, licking my lips and saying, “You’re doing it all wrong, Miss Stackhouse. Let me do what I want to do with you and at a minimum you’ll be moaning, ‘Oohhh…’”
She swallowed hard, while I chewed the piece of steak she’d offered me and her eyes darkened, but she didn’t look away. No, Sookie was never one to back down.
If I was lucky, she’d let me back her all the way across the room and onto her back on the couch I kept in the corner.
But I already knew I wasn’t that lucky, so I wasn’t really disappointed when she finally grinned with, “Uh huh. I bet a lot of your girls make that noise when they get their blood work back. After all, you put the STD in stud.”
“Ouch,” I grinned back.
“Yep,” she finally laughed. “That too. I bet those coochie cankers are a bitch.”
And for the rest of the night, everything else ceased to exist while I watched her eyes dance, as she continued to tease me, telling me about her day and all the while feeding me.
Taking care of me.
Because she cared about me.
More than just as her boss.
And by my calculations there were only seven hundred and twenty-some odd days left until she would finally figure that out.