MAY 1860 (SIX MONTHS LATER)
My dearest Sookie,
Today, I became a graduate of Harvard—as did William. We celebrated together, even though neither one of us felt much like celebration. Attending school together has kept us close; however, I fear our closeness will soon be at an end, especially if Lincoln wins the election this coming November.
Instead of spending a month with me at my parents’ home, William will be returning to Louisiana early next week. I cannot blame him; life in the North has been uncomfortable for him these last two years—to say the least. I have tried to keep the other students from acting upon their prejudice, but the strife between our two parts of the country continues to grow. I fear for what will come, my beloved.
I have convinced my father to allow me to accompany William home in order to visit with my aunt and uncle—and you. However, the whole family will—as I believe you know—not be able to make the trip at this time. My father is too recognizable as one of Lincoln’s chief aids and supporters, and—though the election is not until November—he is already much over-worked. Plus, the Harper’s Ferry incident has made my father quite reticent about traveling with the women.
In truth, it seems clear that my father would not currently be welcome in Jessie Compton’s home, though, thankfully, I still am. I have been able to keep my own political leanings close to the vest, even with William, though—as you know—I often feel myself to be a liar with my cousin. I have written before of how I love William as a brother, which makes our own situation just that much more difficult, but I find that I abhor his politics.
It is not even as if he is like Uncle Jessie; indeed, William and I share many of the same beliefs. He is against the Fugitive Slave Law, and he agrees with the notion that no new states to the Union should allow slavery. He also thinks that slave-owners who abuse their people should be fined, though he disagrees that they should also be imprisoned. Moreover, he continues to believe that it is the right of the Southern states to keep the practice of slavery alive. Otherwise, he thinks that the Northern states will become too powerful comparatively. He already feels that the North is the bully in most of our current conflicts, and the names that he has for Mr. Lincoln are unflattering to say the least.
Of course, William has always been a proponent of States’ Rights, but I fear the rhetoric involved with such beliefs will soon tear this country apart.
I must say that I am relieved school is over. Protecting William was becoming more and more difficult. And I will be glad to see him safe. I know, however, that these tumultuous times will put on hold William and my plans to open a law practice that strives to link the agriculture of the South with the industry of the North. Such an enterprise begun in these times would be doomed. I am sure of it.
One thing that I do not think will be doomed is you and me, my beloved. I remain yours—in every way. On a heartening note, William has proclaimed his affections for a local girl named Lorena. She is from a good family, and—once we arrive in Louisiana—he will be asking his father for permission to propose to her. I pray that Uncle Jessie agrees. Lorena’s family has Southern roots; in fact, she still has aunts and uncles in Atlanta! If Jessie accepts William’s preference, then one of the impediments in our way will be removed. Then, hopefully, your mother would been more amenable to my own attentions in regards to you. I know that there are other obstacles, but I have faith that we can make our way through them.
I must have faith.
I would like nothing more than to declare you mine to the world, my beloved—just as I would declare myself as belonging to you and you alone.
Until that day, my love,
LATE JULY, 1860
“What if?” Eric asked, panting from the many kisses they had been sharing—as well as from the feeling of Sookie’s hands and mouth upon his body.
“It is not my time,” Sookie returned, panting just as loudly, even as she continued placing warm, open-mouthed kisses onto his broad chest.
Eric was to leave the next day, and the two had no idea when they would next see each other. The tensions between their two parts of the country had ratcheted upwards, and Sookie’s mother had seemingly taken another turn for the worse. Plus, Jessie had denied William his request to ask Lorena for her hand in marriage.
Indeed, most people in the county, would have sworn that William Compton was currently courting Sookie Stackhouse. And he was in a way. Michelle would seem to recover slightly whenever Sookie mentioned William’s visits. And William and she had gone on several walks at the bidding of her mother and his father. As of yet, William had made no romantic overtures, seeming to see their “courtship” as a hardship as he tried to figure out how to better “sell” Lorena.
Still, even the mere thought of Sookie and William somehow ending up together rattled Eric greatly, though he was good at hiding his emotions from all others except for Sookie.
Of course, Corbett and Gran knew the truth about Eric and Sookie, but they continued to advise the couple to bide their time. Given Michelle’s seemingly fading health, it was speculated that she might not last out the year, and Corbett was loathe to break his wife’s heart by telling her that he could not approve of a match between Sookie and William since Sookie’s heart belonged to another.
Meanwhile, Corbett, Gran, and Godric continued to hope that the unrest between the states might be squelched by Lincoln, rather than intensified. Of course, it was a gamble—one that Eric did not see paying off. Southern states like South Carolina were already threatening secession if Lincoln was elected. But, if secession did not happen, the stalwart Illinois native might be just what was needed to bring the country back together.
If the Southern states would simply compromise.
But Eric and Sookie both feared that there would be no compromise. For this reason, Sookie had contemplated running away with Eric went he left; she knew that she would have her father and Gran’s blessing—even if they had to keep that blessing a secret. But her mother’s condition prevented Sookie from acting. Plus—if she did run away with him—Eric’s relationships with his best friend and his uncle would be compromised, perhaps irreparably. And—of course—there was her father’s position to consider as well. Corbett’s progressive ways were now being more openly denounced by many of their neighbors, and keeping the Comptons’ support was vital to the Stackhouses’ continued well-being.
Thus, Eric and Sookie’s interactions that summer had been furtive, especially since Jason had arrived and seemed to be keeping hawk eyes on Eric—as if having a “Yankee” in the area might compromise them all. Jason, like William, had acutely felt prejudice during his time at a Northern school, though Jason had literally beaten up anyone who had tried to give him hell for his Southern heritage. Sadly, during the past several years, Jason had become less and less of a fan of Northerners—even the Northmans, whose name alone seemed to set him off—although they had always been his friends before.
It had been Gran who had been Eric and Sookie’s best ally when they had sought time alone during the summer. And this night—their last time together for the foreseeable future—Gran had told Sookie about a secret cabin in the woods at the edge of the Stackhouse property, a place that had once belonged to her own family, the Hales.
Adele had also told Eric about the location of the cabin, and it was there that the couple had met.
It was there that they had truly explored each other’s bodies for the first time. But they had only been enflamed even more by that exploration.
“I want this,” Sookie moaned, dragging her fingernails across his sculpted chest. His shirt and coat had long since been discarded—as had her dress.
“But what if?” he panted again. “I will not leave you fending for yourself with a child on the way,” he added forcefully.
“I am not near my time,” she reassured again. “I had my monthly only last week. We should be safe.”
He looked pensive. “If you were to be with child . . . ,” he started.
“Then my father would support me. And Gran would too,” she said insistently, even as she moved her lips to his nipple where she bit a little. She had already discovered that he enjoyed that.
“Sookie,” he groaned. “We should wait until we are wed.” His words did not match his actions, however, as his large hands drifted over the thin fabric that still hid her breasts from him.
She looked up at him with sad, wide eyes and then placed his hand more firmly upon her breast. “That might be a long time from now, and we both know it.” I tear rolled down her cheek. “In truth, it might be never. There is a war coming, and you and I will be on different sides of it.”
“That is not true. You, your father, and Gran are all on the same side as I am,” Eric said passionately.
Sookie looked down for a moment. “I will always be on your side, Eric. I hate slavery. But I cannot go with you now. As for my father—he will be forced to adapt to whatever times befall us. And Gran is practical enough to fall in line, too—at least publically. They love this land and will protect it,” she whispered. “And you know that William will fall in line with his father. And your aunt will not speak against her husband.”
Eric sighed, but nodded in agreement.
“Why must so many things drive us apart?” he asked, his tone agonized.
“I do not know,” she said in a quiet tone. “But—for tonight—especially since it might be the only time for us—please be together with me.”
Eric shook his head. “If I take your virginity and you must marry another, he would know.”
Sookie shook her head. “No. He would not. Tara knows a way to make it appear as if I am still untouched.”
“And she would help you?” Eric asked.
Sookie nodded. “Yes.”
Eric looked down and to the side, a movement that Sookie knew signaled that he was trying to make a difficult decision.
Finally his eyes met hers again. They were inflamed and lust-filled.
He pulled her closer.
“I love you, Sookie Stackhouse. No matter what occurs. No matter how far apart we are—you will believe that!” he said forcefully, right before kissing her with just as much passion.
“As I love you,” she assured when she was finally let up for a breath.
Sookie stood up and slipped out of her petticoat. Eric licked his swollen lips as she next lifted her chemise over her head, exposing her beautiful breasts to his hungry eyes.
He stood and lowered his trousers.
And then it was her turn to lick her lips as he slipped his undergarments from his body, exposing himself to her entirely.
She bit her lower lip a little as she took in his manhood. From Tara, Sookie had learned the basics of how sex worked, but she had never seen a man’s sexual organs before. Curious, she reached out her hand and tentatively touched the dripping tip of his manhood before moving her fingers in a timid exploration of the shaft.
“Dear God!” Eric moaned.
“It is hard, but the skin is soft,” Sookie said with something akin to amazement, as she surrounded his member with her hand and applied more pressure. Instinctively, she began moving her hand up and down.
“Sookie,” came another guttural moan as he moved his hands to the ties that held up her pantaloons. As her hand continued to move slowly over him, he pushed the thin layer of cotton over her rounded hips and followed its progress with his eyes. After she stepped out of the undergarment, he moved his hand to her center—to begin a gentle exploration of his own.
Soon enough, their bashful investigations had become much less so, and Eric laid Sookie onto the pallet he had made for them.
They kissed and enjoyed the feeling of their flesh touching and rubbing together. His hands explored her breasts before drifting to her sex again.
“Am I supposed to feel so,” she panted, “wet down there?”
“Yes,” he returned. “It will make things easier.” He looked a little concerned.
“What is it?”
“It will hurt—at first—when I go inside of you.”
“I know. Tara told me,” Sookie responded.
“You’re sure?” he asked.
“Yes,” she assured.
Eric nodded and moved a finger slowly into her core.
William had lost his virginity when Jessie had taken him to a house of ill repute in New Orleans when William was fifteen. And best friends talked about such things—especially when they were teenagers. Apparently, the prostitute had not only taken William’s virginity, but also had taught him how to “ready” a woman for his body so that things would be more pleasurable for her. At fifteen, Eric had hung onto every single word that William had spoken about sex. Hell! The adolescent had even considered asking his own father for a similar “gift.”
But now as he stretched his beloved so that she would be better prepared for him, Eric was glad that their first times would be with each other. However, he was also thankful for the knowledge he had picked up throughout the years—not just from William, but from many of the other young men with whom he had attended university.
“Oh!” she gasped as his long finger was joined by another.
“Does it hurt?” Eric asked as he moved his fingers gently apart in order to stretch her tightness so that he would better fit into her.
“It feels strange,” she admitted. “But nice too.”
Eric smiled a little as his thumb stroked her clit by accident.
“Oh!” Sookie exclaimed.
“What?” Eric asked, quickly pulling his fingers from her, fearing that he had hurt her.
“No. Don’t stop!” Sookie cried out fervently, but then blushed. “Uh—when you—uh—touched me just now,” she stammered, “it felt so nice.”
“Where?” he asked.
Shyly, she guided his fingers back to her clit, though she did not have a name for it.
“Here,” she instructed.
He circled the little nub with his fingers, causing her to gasp and become even wetter than before.
Eric smiled and used his fingers to enter her again, though he made sure to continue caressing the part of her body that made her moan wantonly. God, he loved that sound!
Soon, he could not hold himself back and he moved so that he was hovering over her. He dragged his member over her lower lips and up to her nub several times, causing them both to gasp in pleasure.
“Feels good,” she panted.
He nodded in agreement. Though his purpose had been to lubricate himself with her wetness, the result had been a feeling that was more amazing than he could have imagined during the nights when he had touched his own body.
“Ready?” he asked, his voice low and laced with desire.
“Yes. Please, Eric,” she said, raising her hands so that she could grip his shoulders.
Slowly, he began to push in.
When she grunted in discomfort, he paused.
“Keep going,” she said.
So he did, inch by inch. When he reached her hymen, he pushed more forcefully, though he almost stopped when he saw her tears.
“Keep going!” she insisted again.
So he did. He could feel her body adjusting to his size, a sensation that increased the amazing pleasure that his own body had been experiencing from the start of their joining.
“Not fair,” he grunted, trying to remain patient—working hard not to move too quickly.
“What’s not?” she asked.
“That this feels so good to me, but hurts you.”
“It will not hurt in a minute,” she assured.
He nodded and continued to move forward until the tip of him touched something deep inside of her. She gasped loudly.
“Good?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said throatily.
He smiled and leaned down to gently kiss her lips. He had seen enough bodies of other young men to know that his manhood was long, and though he had not quite entered her fully, it was clear that her young body could take no more of his inches, so he slowly began to pull out.
And then he moved back into her.
Soon, Sookie began to move her hips with his, and it became clear that her discomfort was changing into pleasure.
She wrapped her legs around his.
“Faster,” she gasped.
So he went faster.
Predictably, the twenty-three-year-old first-timer did not last long before he exploded into his lover’s body. Also, predictably, she had not yet reached her peak when he did. But soon he had used his fingers and then his mouth to make amends.
Not surprisingly, stimulating her and watching her come apart had reinvigorated his manhood, and their second time was even more pleasurable for them.
By their third time, they had truly begun understanding each other’s bodies.
And they learned to make love together.