After checking on Eric one last time and assuring myself he was still asleep, I set the timer on the coffee pot to go off in another hour before leaving the house for the office. Occasionally I stayed over in one of the guest bedrooms whenever I didn’t feel like making the drive back to my condo and by the time I’d gotten Eric fed, cleaned up, and tucked into bed, I was barely awake myself. But I always kept a fully stocked bag of necessities in my car, so at least I didn’t look like I was just another one of Eric’s boozy floozy morning castoffs.
However I had an out-briefing scheduled with the event planner and walking into the office this morning still wearing the gown I’d worn to the charity event last night would’ve been the equivalent of having Eric’s name tattooed on my forehead.
A tramp stamp, if you will.
But even if we had slept together, I knew I still wouldn’t be categorized with the others he entertained himself with.
Not that I was sleeping with him.
And while I couldn’t fault him for taking whatever was offered, it bothered me when other people tried to use him, whether it was the women he had sex with (who all had dollar signs in their eyes) or the other people in his life. At times it seemed like everyone wanted to bleed him dry, be it for his money or his brain power. Eric was conditioned for it. Used to it. He expected it.
It just pissed me off even more for him.
Why couldn’t they see that the money in his bank account or even the data in his brain wasn’t what made him special?
Maybe – I mused – it was because he didn’t show that side of himself to anyone but me.
I ignored the implications of that, telling myself I should feel sad that I was Eric’s only real friend instead of feeling a bit special myself, and headed to the offices of Northman Inc. Wednesday mornings were my office mornings, so I wouldn’t see Eric again until later on that evening when I went back to check in with him. I hadn’t gotten around to telling him about the fiasco at the gallery the day before, having been sidetracked by teasing him over his – hopefully – nonexistent case of crotch crickets. But the asking price for the Pollock I’d gone over to inquire about was well over the top and it pissed me off, knowing they were trying to take advantage of my employer, Mr. Money Bags.
So I gave them an hour’s long come-to-Jesus, just barely keeping myself from letting my inner drunken trucker/used up stripper love child to come out to play.
Needless to say, Beverly Hills didn’t know how to take the bayou bitch in me.
Victor had left me numerous voicemails while I’d been giving the curator a lesson in redneck hostility, but I didn’t need to listen to them to know Eric had blown off the board meeting. I should’ve known better and just rescheduled my own meetings, but every now and then I gave Eric the benefit of the doubt that he would act like a grown up.
I’d spent the better part of the night avoiding Victor at all costs at the charity benefit, but now it seemed like it was time to pay the piper because it was also my bad fortune when Victor strolled into my office like he owned the joint – something I suspected he really did believe. Hiding his thinly veiled disdain for me behind his used car salesman smile, he opened with, “Ms. Stackhouse.”
I knew his opinion of me was on par with the rest of Eric’s employees, assuming I sucked Eric’s cock on a regular basis to keep me in Jimmy Choo’s and Dolce. It was abundantly clear to everyone he showed me preferential treatment, so the general consensus was I must suck really good dick. But I only put up with Victor’s snide self because I knew he had Eric’s best interests at heart. He’d known Eric since he was a little boy and looked out for him even now. So I tried to keep that in mind when I plastered a smile onto my face and greeted him with, “Mr. Madden. How are you this morning?”
“Concerned,” he replied with a challenging glare aimed my way. “Eric missed our board meeting yesterday. Again.”
I mentally checked my purse and pockets for my shocked face, but I must have left it in my other pants, so I tried to appear contrite when I replied, “He was working in his lab when I left him yesterday morning. You know how he gets. If we left him alone they’d probably find his fossilized body hunched over his smartboard a thousand years from now.”
Sadly, that wasn’t even an exaggeration on my part.
But I did leave out the part where I’d gone back to his house later on that night and found him exactly where I expected him to be. I didn’t leave the Four Seasons until after eleven when the charity event was winding down, so I knew what Victor would assume.
And his assumption would only make me look like an ass.
A loose piece of ass.
His face lit up like I’d told him Santa was on his way when he asked, “Is he working on something new?”
“Isn’t he always?” I smiled.
Equations. Women. Eric was always working on something or someone new.
He even twitched in his sleep. It was a tad adorable.
“Do you know what he’s working on?” he asked, digging for information where there was none to be found.
Even if I’d known what Eric and Pam were up to, I wouldn’t tell him, so I put my naturally blond hair to good use and tossed it over my shoulder, like I was trying to weasel my way out of a speeding ticket, and smiled, “No. Eric doesn’t like to show and tell prematurely.”
If only he picked dates with those same attributes. I’d seen more silicone enhanced tits than Larry Flint.
His eyes narrowed ever so slightly back at me, all but accusing my derriere of being on fire, but all he said was, “Very well. The next board meeting is scheduled two weeks from now. Please make sure Eric attends. We’re being courted by the Pentagon again. They’re especially interested in his biological research.”
Eric was a lover, not a fighter. He’d been getting his pecker stroked by Generals and Admirals for years now, with all of them wanting a piece of his research for defense purposes.
Or rather offense purposes, so Victor’s admission all but reeked of biological warfare.
Eric was as patriotic as the next guy, both willing and able to amp up their weapons tracking systems so they could detect impending strikes and defend themselves against them. So they could detect chemical compositions where weapons were hidden away from prying red, white, and blue eyes and the resources to safely dismantle them. He’d even gone so far as to come up with new – better – designs for personal protective equipment to keep our soldiers safer from those very same things.
But the one thing he was capable – but unwilling – to do was give any side an unfair advantage. Any government would pay him billions for the kinds of things his mind could conjure up, but as Eric had once told me, he didn’t want his legacy to be one of destruction.
It made me want to hug him.
In a strictly professional kind of way, of course.
“You weren’t in bed when I woke up this morning.”
Two sets of eyes – one knowing (Victor’s) and the other horrified (mine) – turned to see Eric now standing in the open doorway.
Knowing exactly what kind of picture he’d just painted – using a medium of cum, sweat, and my tears – he winked at me with a grin, automatically making my eyes roll in return.
I swear, in the three years I’d worked for him, my eyes had made more rolls than Pillsbury.
Turning to Victor and acting like he hadn’t just made it sound like we were sexin’ each other up all night, he asked, “What kind of biological research are they interested in?”
“Eric, my boy,” he grinned – seeing dollar signs, no doubt. But then his expression turned into one of a reproving father as he admonished, “Had you been at the board meeting yesterday, you would know what the Pentagon is interested in.”
Like a duck caught in a hurricane, Victor’s veiled reprimand slid like water right off of Eric’s back and he took a seat in the chair across from my desk – his desk – and kicked his feet up saying, “You know that’s not my area of expertise, Victor. I’m still surprised they haven’t tried to stage a hostile takeover after the last time I attended one of those things.”
“It probably helped that when you attended the first one, after turning twenty-one and taking over as CEO, your first order of business was to gift each member with a copy of the classifieds and a subscription for AARP,” he replied without missing a beat.
At least Eric was an equal opportunity ass.
“Everyone deserves to know their options,” he smiled. “But I’m sure the main reason no one has kicked my door down yet is because of the gobs of money I’ve made them since that time, so missing out on a few meetings here and there shouldn’t get their panties twisted.”
Looking more desperate, his voice took on an imploring edge to it I hadn’t heard before when he said, “But Eric, it’s the Pentagon. Do you have any idea of what it would mean to have a government contract like that? What they’d be willing to pay? How long they would agree to pay it? You’re sitting on a gold mine. All you have to do is sign your name on the dotted line.”
Eric’s voice took on an edge of its own I hadn’t heard coming from him before when he hissed, “At what cost to me? Do you think so little of me that I could be okay with living it up in the lap of luxury, paid for by the deaths of others, all because I gave them a way to become a better killer?”
“Grow up, Eric!” he yelled. “This country is at war! And when this one ends, another one will crop up somewhere else! Maybe things were different in the private boarding schools you attended, but in the real world it’s the guy with the biggest stick who rules the playground! Your ‘make love not war’ attitude is fine for the hussies you amuse yourself with,” with his eyes glancing not so subtly at me, “but this is business. War is business and you’d do yourself a favor by wrapping your genius head around that.”
“Is that so, Victor?” he snarled and stood up. I was all for Eric beating his ass by that point, so I did nothing to try and interfere and only watched as he took another step closer to him and asked, “So this is nothing more than you wanting to stroke your dick to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy? What if the North Koreans were willing to pay us more? Or the Iranians? What if it was Vladimir Putin or Omar al-Bashir who was offering to fill your silk pockets with gold? Then what? Who’s to say that whatever I pass onto the Pentagon doesn’t end up in the wrong hands? That whoever has their finger on the trigger doesn’t one day have a bad day and decide to spread the joy by pulling it unnecessarily? Can you guarantee me that won’t ever happen?”
Yeah. What he said!
All of Victor’s blustering came to an abrupt halt at Eric’s questions and when his reddened face was reduced to a light pinkish hue, he finally said, “All I’m asking is for you to at least hear them out Eric. Can you at least do me that favor, son?”
God…I hated when he played the ‘son’ card on Eric. Victor had somewhat filled the role of his father well before his real father’s death, so it was low. It was manipulative.
And it worked every time.
“Fine,” he sighed and sank back down into the chair. “I’ll listen to what they have to say, but wrap your head around this. I’m not going down in the history books as the real life Lex Luthor.” Turning to smile at me, with his eyes more than his lips, he added, “I would much rather fancy myself as a modern day Superman.”
One of the first tasks I’d been assigned by him was to track down the very first issue of that particular comic to add to his already extensive collection.
And I wasn’t exactly opposed to seeing him in head to toe Lycra.
“That’s my boy,” he grinned and clapped his hand on Eric’s shoulder. Releasing it with a squeeze, he added, “Since you’re already here, I’ll give them a call and see if Colonel Flood is willing to come by this morning. That way you won’t have to make a special trip.”
Eric nodded and waved him off, looking more drained than tired, when Victor stopped in the doorway and turned back, saying, “Ms. Stackhouse tells me you’re working on something new. Care to share?”
Eric’s eyebrow rose questioningly my way, so I silently answered him with my own incredulous expression. He knew I didn’t know what he was working on and knew better than to think I would share it with Victor if I had. For all he knew my earlier ambiguous response to Victor could’ve meant Eric was working out a way for Godric’s shit to stink.
Just like my whole shitty morning thus far.
He smiled and kept his eyes trained on me, answering Victor with, “I’m working on keeping Ms. Stackhouse’s mouth too full to go telling tales and no, I don’t care to share her talents.”
Victor must’ve walked out while my eyes were doing their mandatory perimeter check of the back of my skull, but as soon as they righted themselves, I leaned across my – his – desk and hissed, “You know they all think I suck your cock like I’m trying to see how many licks it’ll take to get your Tootsie Roll to pop! Must you feed their cocksucking assumptions?”
“Can I feed you my cock instead?” he smirked. “It’s only fair since you fed me last night.”
“Keep it up and next time I’ll be feeding you your own cock,” I huffed, pretending to be upset when in reality, I was just glad he seemed calmed down from his argument with Victor. Eric was generally very laid back and I preferred him that way. He had enough stress he heaped on himself and the last thing he needed was anyone adding more to the pile.
“I know you work wonders, but if you can manage that feat, you’ll get more than one kind of raise out of it,” he smirked. “And trust me, Ms. Stackhouse, I can keep it up.” He broke through my faked angry facade when he grinned like a little boy and added, “But if I could do that with it, I would never leave the house.”
“You don’t need to be a genius to know that,” I laughed, happy he was back to his usual crude self. “I guess they’d call you Superman for a whole other reason, huh?”
His chuckle was interrupted with the sound of, “Babe? Am I early?”
The smiles were wiped from both of our faces as we each turned to the newest voice at my – his – office door. John Quinn had been riding my invisible dick for weeks, trying to get me to go out with him, while I tried to get the charity event to go off without a hitch using his event planning company. Unfortunately his was one of the best in the business, so I’d politely refused him at every turn, but trying to get him to call me anything but ‘Babe’ was like trying to teach a tiger to bark.
But seeing the predatory stare coming from my employer reminded me I was more of a lion tamer anyway because Eric was clearly the king in this jungle, so I wasn’t surprised when he stood up to face our newest guest. Power radiated from him despite the Ramones t-shirt, faded jeans, and battered Chucks that adorned his body.
It was as good a look on him as the Tom Ford suits hanging in his closet.
Eric said nothing, only adding to the tension in the room, but being fresh out of fucks to give now that the event was over, I didn’t hide my irritation behind a fake smile when I greeted him with a firm, “It’s Miss Stackhouse. John Quinn, I’d like to introduce the man behind your paycheck, Eric Northman. Mr. Northman, this is John Quinn. His company was responsible for the success of the Northman Foundation’s charity event last night.”
He strode into the room and thrust his oversized hand out towards Eric, gushing, “Mr. Northman, it’s nice to finally meet you. I was hoping to see you at the event last night, but Sookie said you’re a busy man.
Quinn finally let his hand drop when all Eric did was thrust both of his into his pockets, but his eyes never left him as he said, “First babe and now Sookie? I believe she said it’s Miss Stackhouse.”
What is this?
Alright, now I was amused. I know he liked to tease me and I had no doubt he would absolutely agree to fuck me six ways to Sunday if I was game, but this took the cake. I’d long ago lost count of the number of women I’d swept out of his house the morning after his nights of debauchery, but they’d never bothered me.
Because they didn’t matter. To either one of us.
But seeing Eric getting all riled up, over what?
Some other man seeming more familiar with me than Eric thought he had a right to?
That shit right there was funny and I nearly pressed the Godric app on my phone so he could enjoy it too.
Instead I remained a silent amused spectator, watching Quinn flounder, as he said, “Oh, well I uh…I guess I assumed you wouldn’t be so formal. I apologize. It’s just that Miss Stackhouse and I developed a close friendship over the last few weeks, while we worked putting your charity event together.”
Ha! That was like saying I was BFF’s with my mailman because he knew my name and where I lived.
Eric’s glare turned my way, so I pulled on my Godrica mask and hoped he couldn’t see the delight in my eyes when he turned his now green ones to me, asking, “Is that so?”
It sounded like a hypothetical question to me, so I treated him to my ambiguousness by responding, “There’s nothing in the rule books that says friendships in the workplace are a no-no.”
I knew I was giving Quinn the wrong impression – one I would quickly clear up when Eric wasn’t within earshot – but I couldn’t resist and nearly laughed out loud seeing Eric look like he’d managed the impossible and was now choking on his own dick.
I think I finally made his Tootsie Roll pop without ever touching him.
But I didn’t think he’d be giving me another raise for managing this feat.