Chapter 52: What Makes a Brother
“Brothers don’t necessarily have to say anything to each other; they can sit in a room and be together and just be completely comfortable with each other.”—Leonardo DiCaprio
Again, Pam couldn’t help but to notice the sense of closeness and—for lack of a better term—”domesticity” between Eric and his apparent roommate. She still couldn’t quite understand how Eric was suddenly living with Susanna Stackhouse—of all people! What had happened to Isabel? Pam had thought that they were contemplating marriage!
“What’s he doing?” she asked Bobby in a low voice.
“For the first time in his life, he’s trying to be happy,” Bobby returned, even as he glanced toward the kitchen to make sure neither Eric nor Sookie was in earshot.
“Eric’s always been happy,” Pam insisted, even though—for the first time—she took a moment to wonder if that were true.
Bobby raised an eyebrow as he looked at Pam disbelievingly. He could only guess what Eric intended to tell her after dinner. However, in his opinion, it was high time that Pam knew more about her father’s dark side. Bobby loved Eric like a brother, and he knew just how difficult it was for him to open up about anything, but he’d thought that Pam needed a shot of the truth for a while now. In fact, Bobby had almost told her what he knew a couple of times, but—in the end—it wasn’t his story to tell.
Moreover, the last thing Bobby wanted to do was to break Eric’s trust—not when it had been so fucking hard to earn in the first place.
Bobby was just thankful that Sookie’s presence seemed to have been the catalyst Eric needed to pull himself out of his hollow existence.
He took a deep breath and then sat down next to Pam before taking her hand again. “Eric has always been good at hiding the fact that he’s not happy.”
“What are you talking about?” she asked, almost as if affronted. “I know that he and Daddy don’t get along. But Eric’s perfectly happy.”
Bobby sighed. “Just remember to be nice to Sookie. And let Eric be the one to tell you what he needs to say, Pam,” he said in a hushed tone.
Pam looked at him with frustration. “What in the fuck are you talking about, Bobby? You’re scaring me.”
Bobby gave her a little smile and leaned in to kiss her softly. His heart lurched a little—as it always did when he was around her. He couldn’t help but to wish that things could be different between them, but he also recognized that their friendship would likely come to a bitter end if they ever attempted a monogamous relationship. Pam might have been bisexual on paper, but Bobby knew she preferred women. That was just the way things were. And Bobby was not one of those delusional men who thought that his “super cock” could “convert” her. Hell—as a lover of women himself—Bobby couldn’t even blame Pam for her preference!
However, as liberal as he might be, when Bobby was with someone, he was with only that someone. And he demanded the same kind of faithfulness in return. Pam, he knew, couldn’t give him—or any man—that kind of commitment.
“Don’t be scared, Pammy,” he said as he tucked a strand of her silky hair behind her ear. “It’s going to be okay. I promise. And I’ll be right next to you all night—however you need me.”
“Bobby, stop being so fucking nice! Or you really are going to freak me out!”
“I’m sorry, Pammy,” he said sincerely.
Her back stiffened a little as she made a clear effort to conceal her rising apprehension. “I’ve told you not to call me ‘Pammy’—Robert!” she said, changing the subject.
Bobby fake-pouted. “But you hit me when I call you ‘sweetheart.’ Or ‘baby.’ Or ‘darling.’ Or ‘muffin.’ Or ‘sugar.'”
She scoffed and shoved his shoulder. “That’s because I don’t do pet names.”
Bobby grinned devilishly. “Oh—that’s a good idea! I can call you ‘pet.'”
This time she smacked his shoulder—hard. “Don’t you fucking dare!”
“Everyone behaving?” Eric asked with a chuckle as he came into the room carrying a bottle of wine and his and Sookie’s glasses. Sookie was following right behind with the steamed vegetables.
“It smells great!” Bobby said enthusiastically, as he gave Pam a look that implored her to keep her waspishness to herself—at least until after the meal.
Though she was glaring at him, Pam nodded almost imperceptibly.
“Yes,” Pam said, “everything looks delicious.”
“Thanks,” Sookie said shyly as Eric pulled out her chair for her.
Soon everyone was passing the food and filling their plates.
“So,” Pam said after a few minutes of silent eating, “how long have you two been together?”
“Pam,” Bobby said warningly as he gently squeezed her knee under the table.
“What?” Pam asked with exasperation. “I can’t ask anything?”
Eric swallowed noticeably. “It’s fine. We’ve been together for two weeks, give or take six months,” he answered as he shared a look with Sookie, who smiled softly at him, her cheeks pinking up a bit.
Obviously both confused and surprised by Eric’s answer, Pam looked ready to follow up, but sensing that a snide remark was on the tip of her tongue, Bobby kicked her shin.
“Ouch!” Pam said, glaring at him.
Bobby gave her a winning smile. “Sorry about that.”
“What happened?” Eric asked.
“I accidentally kicked Pam under the table,” Bobby said with fake contrition. “You know how my knee sometimes twitches.” He looked at Sookie and winked. “It’s an old baseball injury.”
“I bet you never even played baseball,” Pam muttered under her breath.
“So, Eric—speaking of baseball—did you catch the Mets game last night?” Bobby asked, obviously changing the subject.
The meal had progressed somewhat awkwardly, with smatterings of conversations about sports, the play Pam had seen the weekend before, Eric’s deal with the Chinese publishing house, and Sookie’s Gran. Bobby’d had to give Pam a few more warning squeezes and one more kick, but she had, thus far, kept her most caustic remarks to herself—which was, indeed, “nice.”
Bobby couldn’t help but to once again notice the general contentment on his friend’s face, despite the uncomfortable situation. Bobby had known Eric for over 20 years, but the first time he’d ever seen his friend’s eyes displaying contentment had been four days before. Eric had asked Bobby over for a drink so that they could strategize about how to keep Appius Northman from learning about Eric and Sookie’s relationship.
Bobby stifled his sneer when he thought of Eric and Pam’s father. He didn’t know everything about Eric and Appius’s dysfunctional relationship, but he did know that Appius had done a lot of damage to his friend. And, of course, Bobby had his own reasons for hating Appius.
Though Bobby kept one ear on the conversation to make sure that Pam continued to behave herself, he let his mind drift a little when she started talking about Paris fashion week.
Bobby had met Eric when they were ten and six years old, respectively. Bobby had been visiting his father, Godric, for the Thanksgiving break. His dad, whose house was on the property of the school where he was the headmaster, had asked him to hang out with a kid who hadn’t gone home for the holidays. At first, Bobby hadn’t wanted to spend time with the much younger Eric.
In truth, Bobby wasn’t his dad’s biggest fan at the time. Bobby’s mother had remarried only the month before that, and the ten year old blamed Godric for not trying to get his mom back. To make matters worse, that was also the year that Godric had told Bobby that he was gay and introduced him to his long-time boyfriend. Bobby had had a difficult time accepting that knowledge at first, mostly because he was jealous of his father spending time with someone else—especially when Bobby hardly ever got to see him. And he was also jealous of Eric, who got to see Godric year-round.
To get away from his father, however, Bobby relented, and, each day of his vacation, he would go to the dorm where Eric stayed and knock on the six-year-old boy’s door. Bobby’s first impression of Eric was that he was a gangly, shy kid with skin so pale that he almost looked sickly. Without saying anything, Eric would follow Bobby to the dorm’s common room where there were video game consoles set up. Bobby would play for two or three hours to placate his dad; meanwhile, Eric would read a book in the corner of the room.
A few days into his week-long holiday, Bobby got tired of playing by himself and told Eric he had to play. And, then, because Eric had never played video games before, Bobby taught him what to do. Surprisingly, Eric had quickly become good at the game and gave Bobby a challenge.
However, the two hadn’t talked much, and—content to brood—Bobby was glad about that. The same pattern followed when Bobby came for Spring Break and then the next Thanksgiving.
By the second Spring Break that Bobby knew Eric, his anger toward his father had faded, and he finally coaxed the shy boy into more conversation. Bobby still did most of the talking, but it was less boring than just being quiet all the time.
It was a couple of years after that when Bobby thought to ask Eric why he didn’t go home for the holidays, and the then ten-year-old Eric had looked him in the eye and matter-of-factly told him that he didn’t have a home. Bobby had thought that meant Eric was an orphan, and he gave the kid his sympathies. But Eric told him that he still had a father, but that he wasn’t a good son, so his father didn’t want him.
Eric’s words and stoicism had struck the then fourteen-year-old Bobby. Sure—Bobby had had problems with his own dad, but he’d recognized by then that Godric had always tried to be a good father to him, even going so far as to stay in Montana—where Bobby lived with his mother, stepfather, and new stepsibling—for most of the summer just to spend more time with him.
Over the years, Bobby learned a little more about Eric as his friendship with the younger boy grew slowly. Though Eric would talk about sports or academics, he didn’t mention any friends. In fact, when Godric told Bobby that he was probably the closest friend Eric had ever had, Bobby had been shocked since they spent only two weeks out of the year hanging out, and—even then—Eric stayed in his dorm room quite a bit.
After that, Bobby had become even more curious about Eric. He eventually learned that Eric spent his winter breaks at his father’s home in Manhattan, which was where Bobby moved for college when he was eighteen.
Eric was fourteen by then and had moved to Exeter Academy. However, Godric and Bobby drove to Exeter to collect Eric for the whole Thanksgiving break that year. Spending the week in the same house, the two teens had gotten closer. However, when Bobby said that they should hang out when Eric came to Manhattan for winter break, Eric had gotten a fearful look in his eyes. When Bobby asked what was wrong, Eric had simply shaken his head and become more withdrawn again.
This time, Bobby had followed up on Eric’s strange behavior by talking to his father. It was then that Godric confided in Bobby about how he had falsified the “reports” he was required to give to Appius Northman. And he’d told Bobby why he’d done it too: to keep Appius from taking away the few things in life that Eric enjoyed doing.
After Eric turned eighteen, Bobby was aware that his friend was never invited to stay at his family’s home during the winter holidays again. So—after Eric’s freshman year when he’d tried to stay on his own in Boston and had gotten robbed and beaten up for his trouble—Eric had spent his winter breaks from Harvard at Bobby’s place in New York. The only exception was the year when Bobby’s newly-purchased apartment was being gutted and renovated. That year, they’d spent most of the break in the Hamptons at Niall’s estate, which was where Godric generally spent Christmas too.
Except for Christmas day, Eric never went to Appius’s house. And Bobby could tell that his friend dreaded the little time he did spend with his father; however, the short visit was clearly not optional. And it was also not something that Eric would talk about.
Other than that one day a year, Bobby was pretty sure that—while Eric was in college and business school—he didn’t have any contact with his father at all. Hell—while Bobby and Godric had attended Eric’s high school, college, and graduate school graduations, Appius had not been to a single one! Pam had attended the last one, which was how Bobby had met her, but he still didn’t personally know anyone else in Eric’s family—except for Appius, whom he’d rather not have ever met.
That’s why Bobby had been surprised when Appius gave Eric a big-time position at Northman Publishing immediately after his graduation from Harvard Business School. Bobby had figured that—if Appius actually gave Eric a job—it would be in the mailroom. The only explanation that Bobby could come up with for Appius’s “generosity” was that Appius must have had the skewed notion that—by being tough on Eric all his life—he’d somehow prepared him to jump headfirst into the business world. For Eric’s sake, Bobby had hoped that Appius would become more “decent” after Eric joined the company. And, for a while, that had seemed to be the case.
For his part, Bobby had gotten a law degree from NYU and had easily passed the bar; however, he’d opted not to practice law in a traditional sense. He was lucky in that he didn’t have to. He had a generous trust fund from Niall, a fund that he’d barely touched, so he was free to do what he wanted, instead of working in some office building for seventy hours a week like some lawyers he knew. He preferred to be more active and to set his own schedule, so he only took work he wanted.
On his income tax forms, Bobby labeled himself as a “Legal Consultant,” which was true in some ways. He did “consult” for several law firms in the city; it was just that the kind of consulting he did sometimes skirted the lines of legality. He also “consulted” for the NYPD and a few government agencies, and he’d become extremely good about acquiring the kind of information that could earn him a lot of money and favors. He was even known to “consult” for a few of the less violent mob factions in the Boroughs. In fact, his contacts at that NYPD knew that he “associated” with them, and Bobby was often utilized as an intermediary of sorts. However, despite all this, Bobby had become extremely adept at keeping his name and his ass out of any potentially dangerous situations.
In truth, the only client that Bobby really “practiced” law for was Eric, although—when it came to business law—Eric was much savvier than Bobby would ever be. However, Bobby had helped his friend draft his contract with Appius, so he knew all about the marriage clause, and he knew that Sookie didn’t fit the requirements of it—not by a longshot.
Bobby would never forget the day he’d found Eric in the rather seedy hotel he’d gone to after he’d been pretty much kicked out of the apartment he’d been using at Northman Tower. Bobby had been pissed off at Eric for not telling him where he was staying and for basically being off the grid for the better part of a week.
By then, Godric’s cancer had become advanced, and he was living in Niall’s Manhattan residence since the best oncologist in the area was at Niall’s hospital in the city. Eric had been going with Godric and Bobby to Godric’s chemotherapy treatments. And having Eric—whom Godric thought of as a second son—there had always make Godric rest easier. When Eric hadn’t shown up or offered an explanation for his absence, Bobby had been very angry—at least initially.
However, after trying to call Eric for two days, Bobby had become just as worried as he was furious. He’d gone to Northman Tower, where he’d learned that Eric was “on vacation.” Bobby’s next step had been to bribe the head of security at Northman Tower—a greedy asshole named John Quinn—so that he could find out when Eric had last left the building. Luckily, Eric had taken a taxi. Even luckier, Quinn let Bobby look at the surveillance footage so that Bobby could get the cab number—after Bobby gave the asshole a couple hundred more bucks, that is.
From there, Bobby had tracked the cabby down, and after another small bribe, he’d learned where Eric had been dropped off. One more bribe later, and Bobby was being let into Eric’s room, where he found his friend passed out on the floor and reeking of cheap liquor. Bobby had found the letter from Appius when he was struggling to carry Eric to the shower—since shaking and slapping him had failed to wake him up.
The letter had made Bobby furious. Not only was Appius a cruel, sadistic bastard with Eric, but he’d also threatened Bobby’s father—who was, even then, struggling to stay alive! Bobby had wanted to kill Appius—or at least expose the fact that he was trying to blackmail his own son! But Eric’s haunted look when he finally sobered up gave Bobby pause.
That day, Eric had opened up to Bobby—at least a little. He’d told him about the fucked-up paternity test. He’d told him about how he’d lost Larsson Publishing. He’d told him about the hours when he hoped that Peder Larsson was his father. And he’d asked for Bobby’s help.
Despite his many reservations, Bobby had relented. He and Eric had written the first response to Appius’s letter—the first draft of the contract—over a bottle of tequila that had miraculously survived Eric’s binge. Thankfully, they’d not sent that particular document to Appius, or they’d probably both be in jail right now. Bobby didn’t remember a lot about it, but he did recall that it had contained a lot of interesting uses of the word “fuck.” And he also recalled that he’d wanted to deliver it to Appius with his fists using a special kind of Morse Code he and Eric had developed about three-fourths of their way through the large bottle.
Once they’d sobered up, they drafted a second response, which they personally delivered to Appius’s office at Northman Publishing on the day of Eric’s “deadline.” Hell—Bobby had even worn a suit—though he’d not given his name to Appius when asked. Neither Eric nor Bobby wanted Appius to know that he was a Burnham. The dumbass goons, Sigebert and Wybert, had tried to follow Bobby to learn more about him after that first meeting, but they’d been easy enough to ditch.
After that, there had been several other meetings between Appius, Eric, Bobby, and Neave and Lochlan Faeman. And—finally—they’d reached a bargain that Eric felt he could live with. Bobby hated the fact that Eric didn’t tell his father to go to hell about the whole thing, but after meeting Appius Northman, Bobby began to understand, and he didn’t doubt for a moment that Appius would do all he could to destroy his eldest son and anything he cared about. And, in the end, Eric had seen the contract as almost a blessing since it protected him to a certain extent.
Bobby had anticipated the danger of the marriage clause, but Eric had been so certain that it didn’t matter that Bobby eventually stopped trying to talk Eric into challenging it and simply worked to make the document more palatable in other ways. Eric was more worried about the clause concerning his future children anyway, and—after a lot of haggling—they’d managed to limit the influence Appius might have on them.
Seeing Eric and Sookie together now, Bobby felt incredibly guilty for the mistake he’d let Eric make. There was no way that the Stackhouses were in the fucking Social Register.
Bobby took a gulp of his wine. In truth, it had been giving up half of the stock that his paternal grandfather had left him that had upset Eric the most about the contract at first. Eric felt that he was betraying John Northman, who’d tried to do so much for him. And it didn’t help that Eric felt that he’d already let down his maternal grandfather by losing Larsson Publishing.
Thus, when NP had gone public, Bobby had snatched up 4.9% of the company—just under the amount that would require him to disclose his stock ownership. And he’d bought the stock with the money his father had left him too. He liked knowing that he had the ability to give Eric back some of what he’d lost. And he knew that Godric would like that too.
After telling Eric about his purchase, Bobby had made it clear to his friend that the NP stock was his any time he wanted or needed it. Bobby knew that Eric would insist upon paying for it if that time ever came, but he didn’t really care about the money. He just wanted to give a big, fat “fuck you” to Appius Northman.
Eric had recovered the rest of his lost 7% when he purchased another 2.1% of NP stock using some of the money he had inherited from his paternal grandfather. Actually, the stock was purchased by Elsa Larsson, but it was with money Eric had given her. And—again—she didn’t own enough stock to have to disclose. Somehow having that 7% back made Bobby feel good—very good. He just hoped that Eric felt the same and no longer harbored guilt over letting down both of his grandfathers.
Bobby hoped to one day be there when Appius realized that his plans to take away all of Eric’s legacy were shown not to have worked. He wanted to see Appius’s face. Hell—Bobby would have kept buying up NP stock, but Eric had asked him not to. He didn’t want Bobby in Appius’s line of fire any more than he’d already been.
Bobby sighed when he once again thought about all the damage Appius had caused to Eric over the years; he couldn’t fathom the kind of pain Eric had been through. Bobby used to feel sorry for himself—that he was so far away from his father when he was growing up. He used to resent both of his parents for not staying married. And he begrudged them when they began other relationships. But he had never doubted their love for him; as a kid, he’d simply been greedy for a traditional family.
However, Eric had been manipulated and abused by his father. And the worst part was that it was still going on! The contract—they had thought—would at least ensure that Eric was no longer toyed with too much.
However, Appius’s interference in Eric’s life was still pretty bad in Bobby’s book. Despite being in control of his own division at NP, Eric still jumped whenever his father asked for reports, and Eric bent over backwards to accommodate anything Appius “suggested.” Still—at least, Eric had learned how to stand up to his father a little. Bobby was proud of his friend—very proud—for he knew that the effects of abuse couldn’t be overcome with the snap of one’s fingers or the signing of a contract.
Bobby sighed. Appius was a master at manipulating Eric because—at the end of the day—Eric still wanted his father’s love. Nothing had demonstrated Eric’s desire to please Appius more than when he’d tried to date Nora at Appius’s request. Bobby had to squelch the rise of bile in his throat just thinking about it.
From what Bobby could tell of Nora, she was a spoiled, self-indulgent brat. And she’d gotten it into her beautiful head that she wanted to snare the most eligible bachelor in New York; that was Eric. Eric had resisted the notion. They were stepsiblings, after all! But, in the end, he’d relented and tried to make a go of the relationship. Bobby knew that Eric had taken Appius’s request—or command—that he date Nora as a glimmer of hope that his father might not fully hate him. Eric had reasoned that, since Nora was Appius’s favorite, he wouldn’t want her to marry someone he despised.
Bobby had thought differently. He’d figured that Appius loved Nora so much that he’d swallowed his own disdain for Eric to make sure that the spoiled woman got exactly what she wanted.
Bobby still cringed a little when he thought about the night Eric had shown up on his doorstep with a bottle of bourbon following the one time he’d actually tried to have sex with Nora. Though Bobby hadn’t been happy about hearing the details of “the attempt” from an already drunk Eric, he’d been relieved that the words “erectile” and “dysfunction” and “couldn’t do it” and “Nora’s laughter” were a part of Eric’s slurred description. After Eric had passed out on his bathroom floor with his head resting on the toilet seat, Bobby had toasted Eric’s limp dick and finished the bottle.
Bobby took another drink of his wine and chuckled about the fact that—other than those two times—he’d never seen his friend drink to excess. Eric certainly was never a party animal in high school or college. Bobby couldn’t totally blame Eric for the two times he’d seen him binge drink. Hell—Bobby figured that he’d be a raging alcoholic if he’d had a father like Appius!
If knowing a little about Appius’s treatment of Eric had been enough to make Bobby hate the elder Northman, seeing it firsthand had made Bobby want to kill him. Appius’s interactions with Eric had been laced with clear spite. However, Bobby would have hated Appius anyway because of the threat he’d made against his father.
But there was also a part of Bobby that feared what Appius might be able to accomplish with whatever false “evidence” he had against Godric. And Bobby didn’t want to see his deceased father’s reputation tarnished in any way. Bobby didn’t doubt for a second that Appius would “do his worst”—as Eric feared.
And then there had been Appius’s “visit” with Bobby. After the penultimate meeting he and Eric had with Appius and the Faeman freaks—the day before the contract was to be signed—the “Bert” goons had once again followed Bobby. That night, Bobby had decided to lose them by slipping into a bar, which was owned by an associate who would help him sneak out the back. Bobby opted to have a couple of drinks first—mainly to take the edge off since he’d had to exert major control not to strangle Appius during the meeting.
As Bobby had started his second drink, Appius Northman himself arrived at the bar. With a kind of gall that Bobby couldn’t fathom, Appius had offered Bobby a deal of his own. Somehow, Appius had learned that Bobby was Godric’s son, and he said that he would give Bobby five million dollars and all the so-called evidence he’d collected against Godric if Bobby snuck a clause into the contract, whereby Eric would forfeit the other 7% of NP stock that he’d received from John Northman. And Appius offered yet another ten million if Bobby agreed to turn his back on Eric once the contract was signed—to put an end to their friendship.
Bobby had feigned interest in the offer, and—in doing so—he’d been able to practice his own skills of manipulation. He’d asked Appius why he didn’t want Eric to retain any NP stock. Appius had given him a one-word response: “legacy.” He clearly didn’t see Eric as part of his legacy; moreover, he didn’t want Eric’s children to have any connection to NP—unless Appius himself gave it to them.
Bobby hadn’t needed to ask Appius why he wanted him to turn his back on Eric. Unless he was blind, Appius had observed that Eric trusted Bobby. Godric had once told Bobby that, every time Eric managed to make a true friend during his younger years at school, there was always an abrupt and mysterious ending to the friendship. Clearly, Appius had wanted for Bobby to be another notch on his tally belt—another friend he’d taken away from Eric.
Bobby had, of course, turned Appius down, despite the elder Northman’s threats that he would “ruin Bobby’s practice” if he didn’t agree. Not having a practice to “ruin,” Bobby had not hesitated to tell Appius that he could go fuck himself—hard—even as he journeyed straight to hell. Needless to say, Appius had left the bar angrily.
Although Bobby knew his way around a gun range and had learned judo and karate for defense, he was not necessarily a violent person. However, he wanted to “end” Appius! God knows—Bobby had the “right” kind of connections to “take care” of the Appius problem without Bobby’s or Eric’s names getting mentioned. However, Bobby had refrained from his murderous inclinations. Eric feared that if Appius died—even if it looked like an accident—things would get exponentially worse. After all, Appius would have made sure that any pain he could cause would be caused—especially if his end was an “unexpected” one.
Moreover, Bobby didn’t want to turn Appius into a ghost for Eric. While his friend might harbor some hope that Appius could eventually accept and love him, Bobby had a totally different hope: that Eric would one day find the strength to spit in Appius’s face without giving a fuck what the reaction would be.
He couldn’t help but to wonder if Sookie could be the key to that happening.
Bobby finished his glass of wine and poured another for himself and Pam, who was—remarkably—still being pretty well-behaved, even engaging Sookie in a conversation about work.
Bobby looked at his closest friend. He had kept two secrets from Eric. The first was his one-on-one conversation with Appius. Bobby had kept that from Eric because he didn’t want to see his friend more hurt. And he didn’t want Eric to know that Appius was aware that Bobby was Godric’s son. He knew that would only worry Eric. Personally, Bobby didn’t give a flying fuck if Appius came after him. Hell—if Appius ever did threaten him directly, he could tap into his own family line and sic Niall on the elder Northman. Niall Brigant might have been getting up there in years, but he was still a shark when he needed to be.
The second secret that Bobby had been keeping from Eric was that he’d been slowly compiling bits of information that could be used against Appius if—when—it was needed.
Despite Appius’s Herculean efforts to be discreet, Bobby had managed to get photographic evidence of the elder Northman being rather affectionate with two different men. The first had been an intern at Northman Publishing, and though Appius’s young companion was over eighteen—barely—it would still be quite the scandal, given the fact that Appius had been in a supervisory position over the young man at the time. The photographs showed the two kissing, though the posture of the men indicated more intimacy was likely on the way. The second man had been Andre, with whom Appius was generally quite guarded. Unfortunately, embraces and hands on each other’s arms and shoulders could be explained away by their familial connection as in-laws. However, Bobby had one photo that left nothing to the imagination. Caught in an alley behind a restaurant, Appius and Andre were clearly playing tonsil hockey in the photo. And the fact that Andre’s hand was in Appius’s pants made the picture even more potentially scandalous.
However, there was nothing illegal about two men kissing. Bobby knew that a scandal revealing Appius’s hidden sexual exploits would hurt the elder Northman—especially given the fact that he had been hiding his sexual orientation for so long. But such a scandal wouldn’t destroy him; hell, a quick turn of the “spin machine,” and Appius would likely come out as the one being pitied.
Moreover, a scandal wouldn’t be enough to satisfy Bobby or to get Eric out of Appius’s clutches.
No. Bobby didn’t plan on stopping his investigation until he caught Appius doing something for which he could be put into prison. Unfortunately, he’d not found that evidence yet.
And Bobby’s options were limited. He knew that—despite everything—Eric wouldn’t go along with a plan that would destroy Appius if that plan also risked Northman Publishing. However, he also figured that there may come a day when his friend might need leverage against his father: blackmail against the blackmailer. And Bobby intended to be there on that day—with champagne and the evidence Eric needed. Looking at Sookie and Eric sharing a glance, Bobby decided to redouble his efforts.
Hopefully, he thought, that day would be coming sooner rather than later.
A/N: Hello all! Thanks for all the continued comments and support!
Well—I really hope that you liked Bobby! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: In the books, I am no Bobby fan, but this Bobby evolved into someone completely different from the judgmental prat in the books. I really wanted to give his POV here b/c he’s a great gauge for Eric. He’s been the closest person to Eric for 25 years. And I wanted to give you a sense of how their friendship has evolved. Bobby really does see himself at Eric’s older brother. But he also knows Eric enough to recognize that he shouldn’t push for more than Eric can give. Bobby sees that Sookie has done wonders for opening Eric up and increasing what he’s capable of giving. I also hope you like the little side-“romance” between Pam and Bobby. Now—those two are fun to write!
I can’t wait to post the next two chapters! They are some of my favorites in the piece. But I’m not giving any hints about their content. 😉