Sookie has moved to New York and become a chef, leaving her life in Bon Temps as well as Eric behind. But is he really only in her past? AU Written for the Kiss a Cook Contest. Rated: T – Drama/Romance – Chapters: 1 – Words: 4,353 – Published: 10-18-10
Thank you to Thyra10 for her tireless beta work.
I don’t own the Southern Vampire Mysteries. Nor do I own the movie, No Reservations, which inspired this story.
I’m exhausted. Of course, I’m always exhausted after a shift at the restaurant. That’s exactly why I work at the restaurant.
When I left Bon Temps and moved to New York, all I wanted was to get away from my ridiculously complicated life and lose myself somewhere new. What better place to start over than New York City?
I took the money Claudine left me, said goodbye to my friends and family (and Eric), and never looked back. Jason promised to look after the house. Sam promised to stay in touch. And Eric promised to let me go.
I never stopped loving Eric, but living in his world was eating me up. I saw a future of fear if I stayed with Eric. I feared being targeted by bad fairies or bad vampires, feared being used by the new regime, Alcide’s pack—anyone who knew what I was and thought I could do something for them. And I was tired of it all.
I found myself a tiny single apartment on the Upper West Side and began my new life. I started applying for waitress positions, but wasn’t having any luck until I walked into Creole. It’s a very swanky and trendy (and expensive) restaurant on Columbus Avenue that boasts authentic Louisiana fare. The owner, Shannon, loved my accent and hired me immediately.
Within a couple of months, the head chef left after a loud fight with Shannon. Shannon didn’t even bat an eye, but instead, ordered me into the kitchen to help while she took my tables herself. I have always been a good cook, and knew how to make every Louisiana dish imaginable, so I fit into my new role with ease. Two days later, Shannon had hired a new waitress to take my place, and just like that, I was the head chef at Creole.
I absolutely loved my job from the very start. It was fun and challenging, and it was hectic. I came home every night too tired to think, which suited me just fine.
Tonight, I came home just like every other night and got ready for bed. I let my shields down as soon as I locked myself into my apartment, soaked in the tub for awhile, and fell into bed. Now, I’m listening to the constant sound of the busy street below me, happy to be alone, but surrounded by the city. I feel safer here that I ever felt at home because of all the people. As I drift off to sleep, I have a flash of thought: I wonder how Eric is. I wonder what he’s doing tonight. But then, my exhaustion takes over, and I lose the familiar train of thought as I fall into a deep bone-tired sleep.
I had been working at Creole for nearly a year the day I got a call from Sid Matt Lancaster. Remy Savoy had been killed in a car accident, and he had left instructions in his will that made me Hunter’s guardian.
I called Shannon at the restaurant and apologized for the late notice, but she told me to take as much time as I needed and not to worry about my job.
I flew home to Bon Temps and got Hunter from Jason, who had been taking care of him the few days since Remy’s death. We all attended Remy’s funeral together and then I packed Hunter up to go back to New York with me. Jason said he would oversee selling Remy’s house. The money would go into a trust for Hunter, but I’d also get an allowance to help with expenses. This was all spelled out in the will. I was grateful for the additional income because I’d obviously need to find a bigger apartment now that I was an instant parent.
I’d been keeping vampire hours at work, so it was a real challenge getting up early every day to get Hunter to school. Shannon had hired a temporary chef, so I took an additional couple of weeks to adjust to my new schedule. I could pick Hunter up and bring him home from school every afternoon, but then I had to hire someone to come over and watch Hunter while I was at work. I found a young woman named Mitzi who was a student at NYU and lived in my building.
As soon as Mitzi started working for us, I went back to work. I walked into Creole and Shannon sat me down and asked how I was doing. I assured her that I was adjusting just fine, and more than ready to get back to work. I had a feeling of contentment wash over me and I assumed it was just because I was relieved to be back at work.
“I think I’m keeping the guy I hired to replace you,” Shannon said. “But don’t worry, it’s still your kitchen. He works for you now. Just use him for whatever you need.”
I wasn’t terribly thrilled to share my kitchen with another chef, but it was Shannon’s restaurant, after all, and her decision. I thanked her and headed into the kitchen.
I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw the new chef. It was Eric. He was chopping carrots and instructing the sous-chef who was behind him, tending to a saucepan.
I just said, “Eric.”
His face lit up when he saw me, but then his smile faltered when I didn’t return his enthusiasm.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
“Trying to help.”
I ordered him into the walk-in freezer and left the sous-chef in charge of the kitchen.
Once we were alone, I started with, “This is my kitchen, Eric. What on earth made you think you could just come in here and take over?”
“I heard about your nephew and wanted to be of some assistance without interfering in your life.”
“Some assistance? Are you kidding me? Your idea of ‘assisting’ me is to take over my kitchen?”
“I knew you would not allow me to give you money. I wanted to help, but also wanted to avoid being ‘high handed.’ This was the best I could come up with.”
He had an innocent smile plastered across his face and I felt my temper flare.
“You’re supposed to stay out of my life, Eric! I’m trying to move on. Your being here is … complicating it!”
Eric’s smile faded and his brow creased.
“I don’t want you here!” I shouted.
Eric took a step closer, still looking concerned.
I went on, “Can’t you see? I don’t want you! I have a new life. You have to stay away.”
Eric cupped his hand to my cheek and his eyes were filled with sadness.
“Such anger, Sookie. Such unhappiness. Please let me help you.”
Suddenly, the weight of the past year felt enormous. I realized that I’d been trying to find my new life by burying my old feelings. I was so tired of feeling alone and so overwhelmed with my new responsibilities taking care of Hunter. I saw the pity in Eric’s eyes and felt his empathy through the bond. He still loved me and suddenly, I could no longer ignore the fact that I still loved him.
I grabbed his face and kissed him hard on the mouth. He returned the kiss and drew me into his arms. I melted into his body, forgetting the world. At that moment, there was nothing but me and Eric alone in a freezer. I kissed him and held him and my mind reeled with thoughts of running away with him. I could leave my job, leave my life, leave Hunter, and just run away to a world with no responsibilities—just me and Eric.
My fantasy was interrupted by the sound of the freezer door opening. Shannon’s voice behind Eric snapped me back to reality.
“What the hell is going on in here?” she asked.
Eric broke the kiss and looked at me as he said, “Sookie needed a break,” with a twinkle in his eye.
“Well, we’re opening in twenty minutes and I need you both in the kitchen,” she said sternly.
My eyes were locked with Eric’s and I could feel both love and pity through the bond. I knew in that moment that I couldn’t work with him tonight or any other night. I couldn’t be around Eric if I was going to move on with my life. I had to be a responsible parent now. I couldn’t give into my weakness.
“It’s Eric’s kitchen now,” I said to Shannon, but I was still looking at Eric.
His face fell and I pulled away from him.
I looked past his shoulder at Shannon’s expectant face and said, “I quit,” before walking past her and out the door.
It took me over a week to find another job, but this time I settled for another waitress position. I needed something immediately, and was grateful for the job. It was in a small Italian place only a few blocks from my apartment. Soon, I was settled into my routine of taking care of Hunter during the day and working at night.
I tried not to think about Eric, but that didn’t really work. I avoided walking past Creole. I felt him occasionally, but ignored it. I assumed he was still in the city, still working at Creole. I wondered why he was still in New York, and a little part of me hoped it had something to do with me. But I ignored that little part and soldiered on with my life.
Remy’s house sold, and I began receiving my monthly allowance from the trust. I started to look for a bigger apartment. I was walking down Columbus Avenue one evening to look at a place before work when I passed Creole. I slowed down and probed the bond, but felt nothing.
My curiosity got the best of me and I went back and stepped inside. Shannon was very happy to see me and greeted me with a smile.
“Sookie! How nice to see you. How are you?” she asked.
I told her about my new job and that Hunter and I were looking for a new place.
“Well, we miss you here,” she said.
I realized that I missed cooking and running my own kitchen, but knew, of course, that I couldn’t work with Eric.
“Thank you, Shannon. I miss you too.” I hesitated, but then added, “How’s Eric working out?”
She looked surprised and said, “Eric? He’s long gone. He left shortly after you did. He opened that hot new place on Amsterdam called Human Food. Haven’t you heard about it?”
“No, I haven’t.”
“Yeah, well, it’s doing really well. Mostly plain Southern food. But of course, having a vampire owner doesn’t hurt. People go just to look at him. The food’s a bonus.”
“Yeah, it was like that in Shreveport as well—at his bar, Fangtasia.”
“He bought an apartment on Central Park West. It looks like he’s staying in New York.”
After visiting with Shannon, I realized I no longer had time to see the apartment I’d intended to see. I went on to work and went home, exhausted from my shift, as always.
I was getting ready for work the following night when someone buzzed from downstairs. I pressed the intercom and said, “Who is it?”
My heart stopped. I took a deep breath and pressed the button, saying, “Come on up.”
I opened my door and the sight of Eric in my door frame took my breath away. He was wearing a pale blue sweater and dark jeans. I resisted the urge to run my fingers through his hair and cover his lips with mine and instead politely invited him in.
I introduced him to Hunter who was watching TV on the sofa which would become his bed later that night.
“I’m sorry, but I have nothing to offer you,” I said to Eric. “I don’t keep True Blood in the house.”
“I’m fine, thanks though,” he responded, and I felt a twinge of jealousy as I wondered from whom he had fed.
Eric sat on the sofa and watched TV with Hunter while I finished getting ready in the bathroom. When I came out, they were laughing and talking and I watched them together for a moment.
I was shaken from my reverie when Mitzi knocked on the door.
“The sitter’s here,” I announced.
Eric stood and greeted Mitzi when she came in.
“Well, I have to get to work,” I said as Mitzi sat beside Hunter on the sofa.
I reached for my purse on the hook by the door and Eric said, “I’ll walk out with you.”
When we got down to the sidewalk in front of my building, he said, “I hope you don’t mind that I stopped by. I just wanted to see how you were.”
“No, it’s fine.” I was surprised that I meant it. “It was nice to see you.”
Eric reached for my hand and gave it a squeeze and then released it. “Have a good night at work, Sookie.”
I turned and walked away, but glanced back before I got to the end of the block. Eric was still standing by the steps. He smiled and waved as I turned the corner, looking as handsome as ever.
For the next few weeks, Eric stopped by two or three times a week. He came at the same time in the early evening and never stayed long. Hunter loved having him there and they played games together. They usually played cards, but then Eric brought a chess set over one night and began to teach Hunter to play chess.
Eric would always walk out with me and say goodbye on the street. He never tried to kiss me, but would always give my hand a squeeze when we parted. I found that I wished for a kiss, but never said anything.
I was curious about Eric’s restaurant and one night asked Mitzi if she could watch Hunter on my night off. Usually, Hunter and I spent my night off doing something together, and I felt a little guilty about leaving him, but he understood.
Don’t feel bad, Aunt Sookie, he thought at me as I was getting ready. I know you love Eric. It’s okay to want to see him alone. I’ll see him soon when he comes over.
Thanks, sweetie, I thought back.
I had been trying to hide the fact that I still loved Eric from myself, but it was obvious to Hunter, from whom, of course, I could hide nothing.
I put on my green dress that had always been a favorite of Eric’s and walked to Amsterdam.
Human Food was packed. It was small and decorated beautifully, with exposed brick walls and hand-blown glass light sconces over each table. The walls were covered with paintings for sale from local artists and it smelled like Gran’s kitchen in Bon Temps. I loved it immediately.
As I stood waiting to see the hostess, I felt a wave of pleasure and saw Eric stepping out of the kitchen to greet me.
“Sookie. How nice to see you here,” he said. He took my hand and spoke quietly into the hostess’s ear as he passed her to lead me to an empty corner table.
The guests at surrounding tables watched as the tall handsome vampire in the white chef’s coat sat down across from me.
A pretty brunette waitress brought me a menu and gave Eric a polite smile before walking away.
“I hope you enjoy your meal,” Eric said to me. “Please let me know if there’s anything you need.” He reached across the table and took my hand for a quick moment. “I’ll be in the kitchen.”
He stood and left and I watched all eyes follow him as he strode across the room and disappeared into the kitchen.
I had a shrimp and cheese grits appetizer and fried chicken as my entrée. It was the best and most authentic Southern food I’d ever had in a restaurant. The fried chicken rivaled Gran’s.
As I was finishing my banana pudding for dessert, Eric appeared again and sat across from me.
“So, how was your meal?” he asked with an expectant smile.
“Amazing, Eric. I had no idea you could cook like this.”
“I’m so pleased that you liked it. I am honored that you chose to dine here. Would you like to see the kitchen?”
“Yes, I would.”
Eric took me back into the busy kitchen and explained some of his recipes as I watched the busy staff preparing the plates. It made me miss running the kitchen at Creole. Cooking gave me more pleasure than waitressing ever had and I missed it.
Eric insisted that I was his guest and wouldn’t let me pay, but he added, “Unless you feel that I am being too high handed.”
I let him comp my meal but tipped the waitress myself. Eric seemed satisfied with that arrangement.
“May I walk you home?” he asked as he helped me into my jacket.
“Don’t you need to stay here?”
“Not at all. My staff is quite competent.”
I waited while he changed from his chef’s coat to a brown suede jacket and I tamped down the spark of lust that I hoped he hadn’t noticed.
As we walked to my street, Eric took my hand and we talked about Human Food. He was so proud of it and I told him I was very impressed with the food and décor.
As we approached my building, he asked, “Would you like to see my apartment?”
I hesitated, and he added, “It’s just a little further.”
“Okay,” I said. “But I can’t stay long. I need to let the sitter get home.”
Eric’s building faced Central Park, and the doorman held the door for us as we entered. I could only imagine what a place in a building like that cost.
We rode the elevator to the 9th floor and Eric opened his door with his key and gestured for me to enter before he did.
The walls of the living room were a deep cranberry and the furnishings were in rich shades of brown and gold with cream accents. Central Park sprawled out before us through the wide window.
I sat on the dark brown sofa and Eric stepped into the kitchen to get me a gin and tonic. I didn’t really feel like having a drink, but he seemed so pleased with himself that he had the ingredients (even the wedge of lime). I didn’t have the heart to tell him I didn’t want it, and so I sipped it politely.
We sat side by side and I could feel my body responding to his nearness. I knew he could as well, but he ignored it and kept up the pleasant small talk. We talked about Hunter and about my search for a new apartment. I hadn’t had much luck yet, but was hopeful that I’d find something soon.
As the hour grew late and I felt my resolve to behave myself faltering, I decided it was time to go. I asked to use the bathroom and Eric stood and directed me down the hall.
After I used the very beautiful bathroom, I began to walk back down the hall towards the living room. I could hear Eric in the kitchen, presumably washing out my glass and I decided to take the opportunity to be a little nosy.
I opened the first door I came to and peeked inside. It was obviously Eric’s bedroom, having no windows. There was a huge canopy bed against the far wall and a rich oriental rug on the floor. I felt a stab of jealousy as I wondered briefly with whom he had shared that bed.
I quickly closed the door and moved to the next one. I carefully and quietly opened it as well and it took a moment for me to register what I was seeing. The walls seemed to be a dark blue and the bed was covered with a lighter blue quilt. Framed prints of old cars and airplanes lined the walls and a model plane hung over the bed. There was a desk with a computer on it and another small table with two chairs. A chess set sat on the table. This room was decorated for a young boy.
I backed up and pulled the door closed and turned towards the living room only to see Eric standing at the end of the hall facing me.
We both stood there for a moment looking at each other. I finally spoke.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have been snooping around your house.”
He shook his head. “It’s fine. You’re welcome to venture anywhere you’d like.”
“That room’s for Hunter, isn’t it?” I asked.
Eric walked towards me and took my hand in his. “Yes,” he said soberly.
I felt the panic rise up in me.
“Don’t do that,” Eric said. “Don’t run away, Sookie. I wasn’t trying to force you to do anything. I was merely … hopeful.”
I felt a wave of calm from Eric and tried to control my feelings.
“Surely you know that I still love you,” Eric continued. “I know you can feel it.”
I started to laugh and said, “I thought those were my feelings.”
He smiled. “They’re both.”
“You decorated a room in your house, hoping that Hunter and I would move in here?”
“I moved to New York, opened a restaurant, bought an apartment, and decorated a bedroom for Hunter, hoping that you would move in here.”
Eric brushed my hair from my face and kissed me lightly on the lips, still holding my hand.
“I love you, Sookie. I don’t want to pressure you. Take all the time you need. But know that I want you. I want both of you here with me. When you’re ready.”
I searched his eyes and felt the love in his heart and knew what I wanted to do.
“I need to talk to Hunter about it,” I said.
We both smiled and for the first time in a very long time, I felt content—like all the pieces of my life finally fit together.
I was making a pizza for dinner when Hunter came into the kitchen.
A couple of guys are coming over. Can you make another pizza? he thought to me.
Sure, but you know the rules, I thought back.
Yeah, yeah, I know. Nobody in the house until Eric rises. I know the rules, Aunt Sookie! Jeeze!
I tried not to respond. Since Hunter had entered the dreaded teen years, he had become a little more difficult to handle. He popped a slice of pepperoni into his mouth and I caught a glimpse of a pretty blonde girl from his head.
I gave him a look.
What? He thought, exasperated.
No girls in the house unless one of us is home. We’re both going to the restaurant tonight.
I KNOW! he shouted in his head before storming out of the kitchen.
I finished putting the pizzas together and was sliding them into the oven when I felt Eric’s lust and turned around. He was grinning at me from the doorway, fangs fully down.
“Good evening, beautiful wife,” he leered.
“Hello, handsome husband,” I replied.
He was on me with vampire speed, kissing my lips and then down my neck.
“We need to get to Human Food, honey. We don’t have time,” I whispered, knowing he could hear me just fine.
“I know,” he mumbled into my neck.
“Hunter’s having some friends over.”
Eric gave my earlobe a nibble before looking me in the eye. “Okay.”
“He wants to invite that blonde girl he’s been thinking about.”
Eric cocked his head and smiled. “Then we should come home early.”
“Are you sure? It’s going to be a busy night.”
“I’m sure. We don’t want to deprive Hunter of an evening with friends, now do we? And we have a perfectly capable staff at the restaurant.”
“I guess you’re right. He really likes this girl.”
“I think we can find some way to entertain ourselves while the kids are watching a movie, don’t you?”
Eric’s smile broadened and I touched a fang with my finger, sending a slight shiver through his body.
“Yeah, I’m sure we can,” I answered.
I gave him a kiss before heading back to Hunter’s room to tell him he could invite some girls over later.
Then I went to our room to get dressed for work, looking forward to yet another perfect evening in my perfect life-the happy life Eric, Hunter and I had made together.
A/N: Please enjoy Eric’s version of this story next, called No Reservations. Several of you commented that Eric was so sweet in this one, and from Sookie’s perspective, he certainly was. But, don’t forget, there are two sides to every story.