Ninety minutes later, Eric found Sookie in the sitting room just off of his—their—bedroom. She was reading Faulkner and listening to a television channel that played classical music. She looked beautiful, even more so because she seemed so comfortable among his things. He stayed in the doorway for a few moments, memorizing the sight of her, before approaching.
“There are television channels that play music,” she said with a grin as she saw him, saved her place, and put her book down. “And I didn’t break your television!”
He chuckled. “Did you try?”
She giggled. “Nope, but that,” she pointed to the remote control, “is of the devil.”
He half-laughed and half-snorted at her words, the sound surprising them both.
She sat up straight. “Sex or talking?” she asked brazenly.
He chuckled. “Sex—definitely.”
“Good,” she jumped up and launched herself into his arms. “Because I’ve been thinking about you.”
He caught her and enjoyed the way she wrapped herself around him: her arms around his neck, her legs around his waist. More than that, however, he enjoyed the confidence that she was displaying with him.
Immediately, their lips found each other’s, and they kissed until they were both panting.
“What were you thinking about—specifically?” he gasped.
“Sookie?” he asked gently, tickling her side and causing her to squirm in his arms. Her movement was delicious against his cock, so he tickled her again.
“Your boxing bag,” she admitted so that he’d stop. Her continued wiggling was not good motivation for him to do so, but he did relent—though mainly so that he could keep her secured in his arms.
“What about my boxing bag?” he asked, his eyebrow shooting up in curiosity.
“I was thinking about you hitting it. Without a shirt on,” she confessed, her cheeks flaring red.
He smirked as he began massaging her ass where he was gripping her. “You can watch me work out tomorrow, min älskare. On Tuesday mornings, I usually go down to the pool for some laps, and then I come back up and punch the bag. You could swim with me and then watch.” His eyebrows were waggling naughtily as he continued to caress her bottom.
“I can’t swim,” she said through a moan.
“Would you like to learn?” he asked, stopping his ministrations for a moment.
“Then I’ll teach you—starting this morning.”
“I don’t have a bathing suit here.”
He chuckled. “We’ll have Henry lock the doors to be sure, but there’s never anyone at the pool when I go in early. Tomorrow, you can wear a bra and panties—or a pair of my shorts and T-shirt if you want.”
She nodded. “Okay. Thank you.”
“It’s no big deal,” Eric assured.
“No,” she said sincerely, “everything with you is a big deal.”
He leaned in and kissed her gently, even as he began to carry her toward the bedroom. After he laid her down, he quickly took off his own clothing while she took off her T-shirt and flannel sleep pants.
“I want to try something,” she half-whispered and half-whimpered as he started kissing up her body.
“Anything,” he said.
“Can I—uh—be on top?” she asked with a little blush.
“Yes,” he growled as he took one of her nipples into his mouth.
“Eric,” she moaned as he caressed her other breast with one set of long fingers even as he was circling her clit with the other set.
He could feel how wet she already was. “How long did you think about me, min älskare?” he asked, his voice feral.
“How long were you on the phone?” she returned, biting her lips coyly.
“Eighty-nine then,” she answered.
He plunged two fingers into her welcoming heat. “Not the entire ninety?” he asked gruffly as he began to pump.
“Oh God,” she moaned as he sucked on her breast harder.
“I thought of you for every second that I was away from you,” he growled as he moved to her other nipple.
“Me too,” she said with a pant as he stopped the movement of his fingers. “Eric, don’t stop,” she said.
He looked up at her, his eyes seeming more like an animal’s than a man’s in that moment. “Move on my fingers, Sookie. Ride them like you’re going to ride me?” he half-asked and half-demanded.
“Eric,” she moaned as she began to move her hips so that she was moving herself on his fingers. She’d never done anything like that before, but she didn’t feel embarrassed—not with him. In fact, she grabbed his hand with one of hers so that she could make it do what she wanted more easily.
“Fuck, Sookie. You’re so beautiful,” he gasped as he moved up and kissed her hard on the lips. He curled his fingers as she rocked herself against his hand.
When he brought his thumb to her clit, she immediately saw stars and exploded around his fingers, her mouth open but no sounds coming out as she rode her climax to its completion. Eric watched her beautiful face and felt her fingers curl around his hand as he continued to pump her slowly—until her inner walls had stopped pulsing.
“Wow,” she gasped after a few minutes.
“Are you ready?” he asked as he rolled a condom onto his engorged cock.
“You’re going to have to be the one to do all the work to start with,” she half-giggled and half-panted, still trying to catch her breath.
“My pleasure,” he growled as he moved to hover above her and then slowly pushed inside of her. Though he’d made love to her several times during the previous twenty-four hours, she was still incredibly tight around him.
“Eric,” she moaned as he set a slow pace, teasing them both. He pushed into her fully before pulling back unhurriedly, angling himself so that his tip hit her g-spot each time he withdrew. “Faster,” she demanded after a few minutes.
“Make me,” he growled playfully as he kissed her breasts, her collar bone, her neck, her cheeks—anything his lips could reach.
When she began to thrust her hips upward to meet him, he took it as a signal that she was ready to take charge of the situation, which he was more than happy to let her do. Without leaving her body, he rolled them over so that she was on top of him. He rested his hands on her hips and took in the beautiful woman straddling him. Her eyes closed in her ecstasy, she was smiling a little at the sensations cascading through her body as well as the feeling of being in complete control of him. Still sheathed fully inside of her, he moaned as she began grinding her hips into his.
Experimentally, Sookie tightened her inner muscles around him.
“Oh God! Do that again,” Eric half-pleaded and half-ordered.
She squeezed again, even as her eyes popped open to gauge his reaction. His hands moved up to her breasts as he groaned at the sensations she was causing for him.
She smiled. “You like that?” she asked, her voice low.
“Yes,” he breathed.
She began moving up and down slowly. “Tell me what it feels like?” she asked him as she settled her hands onto his chest so that she could better control the rising and falling of her body onto his.
“The physical feelings or the emotions?” he asked with a pant.
“Everything,” she said as she set a slow rhythm.
“It’s like every molecule in my body is tingling and alive,” he described amidst moans of pleasure. “And I feel like I want to explode from it. And my heart—my heart,” his voice trailed off.
“It’s so full that it feels like it’ll push its way out of your chest with every beat,” she finished for him.
“Yes,” he agreed. “Like that. What about you?” he managed to ask as he put his hands onto her hips so that he could help in her movements.
“I feel like I’m on a swing,” she rasped out as she increased her pace.
“Yeah.” She closed her eyes and her head lolled back a little. “Like when you twist around and around in a swing until the ropes are so tangled and taut that you know the uncoiling of them is going to leave you dizzy for hours.”
“But you still try to twist around one last time,” he said, his voice straining as his own “uncoiling” approached.
She opened her eyes. “Yes,” she whispered. “Eric, touch me.”
He knew just where she needed that touch and brought one of his hands to her clit.
“So close to spinning,” Sookie murmured.
“Yes,” Eric agreed with a moan. “So. Fucking. Close.”
She squeezed her inner muscles once more, and he could no longer hold onto his release. He pulsed into her several times before she quaked above him and fell against his chest.
He held her tightly as she shivered through her aftershocks.
“Has sex always been like that—for you?” she asked after a few minutes of recovery.
“No, Sookie. It’s never been like that—until you.”
She nodded against his chest. “Eric?” she said his name like a question.
“We fit, don’t we? I mean—not just sex, but other things—everything? That’s not just me—right?”
“It’s not just you,” he assured, kissing her forehead. “And you’re right. We do fit.”
She sighed. “It’s so easy to be with you. It’s so easy to talk to you and to trust you.” She looked up at him, her chin resting on his chest. “Are we soul mates?” she whispered.
He smiled a little. “I never believed in the concept of soul mates before, but—yes—I think we are.” He paused. “I know we are.” His eyes became forlorn.
“You think I was given to you just so that I could be taken away?” she asked sadly.
He blinked away a tear that immediately threatened to fall. “Yes,” he admitted. “But I don’t care. I want you anyway. I want to feel this. I want to feel something that will make all the suffering bearable.” He caressed her cheek. “I just wish that you didn’t have to suffer with me. I wish I could have been strong enough—unselfish enough—to walk away from you.”
“I feel selfish too,” she said, turning her head so that her cheek was over his heart.
They lay there for several minutes, just holding each other.
“You tired?” he asked when he felt her shifting a little in his arms.
“No—not really,” she responded. “You?”
“No—still dizzy from the swing.”
“Should we take a quick shower?” Eric suggested.
“I’ve never been so alternatively clean and then sweaty in my whole life. I have a feeling we’re going to be taking a lot of baths and showers over the next few years.”
He chuckled. “Well—we have already established that we are selfish for each other, so I think your hypothesis is probably correct, min kära. And I do have a lot of tubs we can utilize.”
“Better get started then,” Sookie said with a grin.
Half an hour later, Eric and Sookie were still wet, but it wasn’t from their shower. After quickly—though thoroughly—washing each other to eliminate the evidence of their exertion, they had decided to go ahead and have their swimming lesson since it was already 5:00 a.m., and neither of them felt sleepy. They figured that after the lesson, they could eat a light breakfast and then talk about Eric’s contract with Appius.
Then they planned to go to bed until 4:00 p.m. when Eric would need to get prepared for that night’s phone meetings and Sookie would need to get ready for her appointment with Claudine. They figured that they could establish a more “normal” sleep schedule when they were both working regular hours again. And putting in an all-nighter wasn’t that unusual for either of them, though most of the time it was due to insomnia. Both of them were used to much less sleep than they’d gotten lately, and the week’s unusual schedule and their emotional conversation earlier didn’t lend well to sleeping anyway.
“So,” Eric said as they stood in the shallow end of the pool where the water came up only to the middle of Sookie’s chest, “these are the best tools you have for swimming.”
She looked to where he was looking. “My boobs?” she asked incredulously.
He laughed heartily. “Well—maybe those too, but I was thinking about your lungs.”
She giggled. “Well—I have read that breasts float.”
Laughing until he snorted again—which again surprised them both—he leaned in and kissed her nose playfully.
“You’re a snorter when you laugh,” she grinned.
“I guess I am,” he smiled. “I never knew before.” He leaned forward and kissed her lips—lightly at first, but then with some urgency.
“So—my lungs?” she asked, trying to get him back on topic as she took a step backwards in the pool. However, he reached his long arms out for her, his wet fingers brushing the sides of her breasts through the T-shirt she was wearing over her bra.
“You know—it’s probably more difficult for me to concentrate with you in that T-shirt than if you were just wearing your bra,” Eric said, his eyes locked on her breasts.
She gave a little snort of her own. “I am not going to have sex with you in this pool, Eric Northman.”
He looked a little hurt. “Why not?”
She giggled. “Because there are three cameras around this room.”
“I’m sure the guards would be happy for the show,” he said jokingly, waggling his eyebrows in an exaggerated fashion.
She laughed a little harder and hit his bare chest playfully.
“You know,” he said with a devilish grin, “right now you look like the star of the hottest wet T-shirt contest ever. Trust me when I say that if any of the guards are watching, they will be turned on more by that than they will by the bra underneath.”
“But what if it’s Henry watching?” she challenged.
“Well—he won’t be turned on at all,” Eric chuckled.
“Oh, I think he would be,” she said, looking down at his Speedo, which—due to his height—was submerged just below the surface of the water. “Do you always swim in one of those?” she asked a little haltingly as she checked out the obvious bulge in his swimsuit. Even unaroused, Eric’s size was impressive, especially when confined in a package that left nothing to the imagination.
He grinned. “I prefer to swim nude.”
She popped his chest again. “You are so bad.”
He shrugged. “I swim laps here, and a Speedo is better for that. However, I wear regular swim trunks when I’m swimming for pleasure—like when I visit my mormor in Sweden. She lives next to a lake.” His mischievous grin was back. “But I do swim in the buff when I’m there too. In the mornings, I swim laps in the cove next to the little lake house I stay at. Since there’s no one around, a swim suit seems superfluous—don’t you agree?”
Sookie blushed a little at the thought of Eric swimming nude. Oh course, she’d been prone to blushing ever since she saw him in the Speedo.
“So?” he asked.
“So?” she repeated, drawing her eyes up from his midriff to his face.
“Do you always get what you want?” she asked playfully.
His face clouded, and she reached out and flattened her palm against his heart.
“Sorry,” she said, knowing that his thoughts had just moved to his father.
“No,” he sighed, shaking his head. “I’m sorry. Sometimes, I just can’t help thinking about things.” He took a breath.
She bit her lip and moved a little closer to him in the water. “It’s nice to get what you really want for a change,” she remarked.
“It is,” he agreed.
She smiled at him and took off her T-shirt before throwing it to the side of the pool.
If the stretch in his Speedo was any indication, he clearly appreciated the image of her cleavage poking out of the water.
“I thought you said that would help,” she said coyly.
“I lied,” he chuckled.
“I must say that your recovery time is truly impressive, Mr. Northman,” she said, sneaking another peak downward.
“Your floatation devices are impressive too,” he leered, closing the distance between them and taking her into his arms before kissing her deeply.
“No sex in the pool,” she panted when he finally pulled back.
“Just trying to teach you how to hold your breath,” he grinned.
She shook her head with mock disapproval, but inwardly she was happy to bask in his playfulness. “Focus!” she said, snapping her fingers sloppily just out of the water. “How do I swim?”
“Well,” he responded, his demeanor immediately changing to become more serious, “first, you learn how to stay afloat, so that if you ever get tired while swimming or if you get scared, you know that all you have to do is to stop and float until you are ready to swim again.” He smiled. “Floating is easy once you do it.”
“Will you show me?”
He nodded. “Okay, I want you to lie down in the water—face up, of course,” he winked. “I’ll put one of my hands under your head and one under your waist. Then I want you to just take deep breaths and feel how your body wants to float naturally—how it wants to be at the top of the water.”
Sookie looked a little nervous at the prospect of lying back into the warmed water.
“See?” he asked in a gentle tone, as he bent down a little, laid one of his long arms on the surface of the water, and spread his fingers. He relaxed his arm, and Sookie could see that it was floating. She copied his movements.
“Cool,” she said when she felt the water pushing up on her body from below.
“It is,” he agreed with a smile. “Think about all the parts of your body doing this,” he said in the direction of his arm. “And then practice taking in deep breaths. Every time your lungs fill with air, you’ll feel yourself rising up in the water a little. You don’t even have to move to float. All you have to do is relax and let your body do what it wants to do.”
“Ready?” he asked.
“You’ll keep my head above the water?” she questioned nervously.
“Yes I will,” he promised. “Until you’re ready to do it yourself.”
She nodded and lay back a little awkwardly into the water. But she relaxed as soon as she felt one of his strong hands cradling her head.
“Let your legs just rise up,” he said calmly. “Remember—they want to.”
Sookie nodded again and felt herself relax as her body rose through the water. She could feel Eric’s other arm supporting her back and then her bottom as she went from vertical to horizontal in the water.
“Good,” he smiled. “Now just breathe and become aware of what your body is doing.”
“Okay,” she said.
“Close your eyes, Sookie,” he said softly.
She did and began to feel her body floating. With every deep inhalation, she became more and more aware of her buoyancy. And she was less and less nervous. Eric was right. Her body wanted to float; it just never had before.
“You can use your arms for balance and to move a little,” he said above her. “Keep your movements slow and smooth.”
She nodded, and, without opening her eyes, she moved her arms just a little. Eric’s touch was lessening as her body began to do most of the work of staying above the water, but she could still feel them below her—waiting in case she sank. But she didn’t.
“Trust me,” he requested with no hint of questioning in his voice.
“You won’t sink,” he said before he slowly moved his hands away.
A/N: I hope you liked this chapter! I have a lot of favorites in this piece, but this one ranks in my top ten. It’s a chapter I added during the second draft—something to break up the heaviness of Eric and Sookie’s previous conversation and the stress of the one that will follow concerning the contract. As this long night in the story drew to an end and became a new morning, I wanted Eric and Sookie to have a few hours of love. The idea of his teaching her to swim seemed to fit in so naturally and became a metaphor for the way that Eric sees Sookie. He thinks that she can do or be anything. He has such a strong belief in her. When he tells her that she’s only not floated because she’s never tried it before, he means this about other things too. This quiet scene makes me love this Eric.
I’ve had a couple of guest reviews (from fanfiction . net) that I’d like to respond to. One is this: “Eric better not be betrothed to another woman. Even is so fucking what. He’s a grown ass man that can say “hell no!”. Grows some balls already!” I’m not sure I see where you are coming from here. As I’ve tried to demonstrate—but which will be demonstrated even more once the contract is explored more deeply—escaping from Appius is not easy. Also, I’d like to think that this Eric already has “balls.” He’s a good man—a very good one despite the awful childhood he had. The fact that he’s kind-hearted and willing to sacrifice himself is testament to this. I think this shows that he’s a “grown ass man” better than anything else would. Eric cannot just say “hell no”; if he does, others will suffer. I’m not saying that Eric won’t try to escape Appius—and make plans in that direction—but he won’t do it cavalierly. And he definitely won’t do it without considering the fall-out for the 104 people who will be hurt if he does. After all, the Eric in this story wouldn’t be inclined to let others suffer.
The other guest review is this: “Appius’ dirty laundry should be aired for all the media and press to see and read about.” As much as I would love to air that laundry (and I might eventually), Appius is very good at covering his tracks. And he has a team of lawyers ready to spin things. He’d say, “Of course I was distant from Eric. I thought he was another man’s son. But—even despite that—I gave him an excellent education and even hired him. And—once I learned he was my child—I established a contract with him that would make him CEO of NP!” Trust me—Appius and his team would spin the situation to make him smell like roses. However, I will say this: There is at least one person who is looking for dirt on Appius—the kind that even he couldn’t scrub off. And that person will have no compunction about using it to make Appius stop hurting Eric. The only question is: Will the dirt be found in time?
Okay—that’s it for now. I want to thank all reviewers! I love reading your comments. I would prefer that you sign in on fanfiction . net. However, I get that some of you review by phone and it’s less convenient to do that. However, I do like to respond to critique or questions, and “guest reviews” make that impossible.
It might be a couple of days before I post the next chapter. My carpal tunnel is flaring up, and I plan to rest my hands for a couple of days (and use lots of Icy Hot). But I hope to be back with a new chapter either Wednesday or Friday.