AN: Thank you for all the reviews and alerts. As always, big thanks to keiman and kei for beta-reading for me.

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters.


Chapter 11

Two Can Keep a Secret

"People are so horribly negligent! You would not believe the half-ass excuses I've heard… One guy said that he'd had a dream in which there was an asteroid crushing his new place. And that's why he's not moving out!"

"I'm really sorry…" I told Sookie, wiping the sweat from my forehead. I was sweating like a pig, but truth be told, I was a pig. Sookie was currently confessing how horrible the people were that she was supposed to rent apartments from…. Somehow, each and every one of them, had screwed her over. Shocking.

Or not so shocking, considering that all of this was Alcide's doing. Okay – it was my doing by Al's hands – and the guilt was eating me alive. I was no villain, no liar and certainly no manipulator. I wiped my forehead once more.

"And you know… I can't believe what I'm looking at! The prices of apartments and their conditions… I would have never rented something like those!" Sookie's tone changed from annoyed to sad and my heart almost broke. "I can't believe that I'm stuck with Tara. She's getting really tired of me."

This was my clue. I knew it was, so I took a deep breath and tried to make myself sound nonchalant when I offered. "You know – you can always just crash at my place." I do my happy dance when I sound like that – nonchalant and cool – not like someone who's feeling like a Judas. Fine, I admit it, I almost blew it- the strange high pitch in my voice might have revealed that something was amiss.

"Oh Eric, that's sweet of you, but your mother and…"

"No! No, no, no! It's not a problem. I am actually looking for a new place for myself. A Nora free, Nora-unsullied place and definitely a Nora-proof place. You encouraged me, actually," I hurriedly assured her.

"I did?"

"Yes. I was thinking about our conversation, about baby Northman and… you know, I want everything to be perfect for this little creature. I understand that we haven't discussed the custody terms just yet, but when we do have a baby, I want him or her to feel like… like I have a home to offer him or her." I ended lamely and frowned when I heard a strange snort at the other end. "It led me to thinking about all of the wonders and complexities of pregnancy. Honestly, I don't wanna be just a sperm donor. I want to be next to you when the baby starts to kick or when you have cravings. I want to be close to you and this new life we have created and… Sookie?" I stopped in midsentence when there was this snort again, but this time it sounded almost like… "Oh my God, are you crying?!"

"Yeah…" she sobbed and I panicked. I looked around, but Nora and Nana were nowhere to be seen. Perfect. When I want them out they are basically attached to me like a pair of Siamese twins, but when I need help with a weeping woman, they are gone. Go figure.

"Sookie, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to upset you. If you find my offer so disturbing, please forget that I even mentioned it!" I hurriedly said, feeling even more like a pig and a Judas. And now, also like a big douche-bag.

"You stupid dummy!" she chuckled and I checked the caller ID. Yup, I was still speaking with Sookie, I hadn't dialed someone else. "It's just all so sweet and… I think you can blame my hormones."

"Are you sure?" I asked, reviewing quickly through the information that I had collected about pregnancy. "Isn't it too soon for your hormones to kick in? Maybe you're just a cry-baby?"

There was a long silence and finally Sookie huffed. "You're just something else."

It didn't sound like a compliment. "Does that mean yes, maybe or never?"

"That means that I'll think about your offer. But Eric?"

"Yes?"

"I will not accept any charity from you. If, and let me make this perfectly clear, IF I agree to live with you, I will be renting a room from you. Okay?"

I saw my opportunity and I couldn't let it pass. "Would you cook for me?" I asked hopefully. Sookie's scrambled eggs were good and I could only imagine how her other dishes would taste.

"Maybe…" she answered slowly.

"Do the laundry?"

"I guess…"

"Taking care of plants and…"

"Don't push it," she interrupted and I sighed. I always wanted plants, but unfortunately, I had not been granted a green thumb. I looked at my cactus, the almost living testimony of my failure - I guess that it was about to wither. I had tried a dry-tolerant plant…

"Just think about it," I pleaded once more. "Just not too much, you know? You women have been known to over-analyze things and I bet that you will come up with something irrational to…"

"I'm hanging up," she interrupted and I looked at my cell, frowning. There was a long dialing sound coming from the receiver signaling that Sookie had ended the call.

What now?

"Is everything all right Mister Northman?" I heard and I turned to the real estate agent who was watching me expectantly and slightly impatiently. And maybe, there was just a bit of annoyance in his tone.

He would walk more comfortably without a stick up his ass.

"Yup, you can lead on… Show me the goods!" I smiled and he raised an eyebrow. "That was not a sexual innuendo," I hurriedly assured him. "Your goods are not my type. With all due respect, of course…"

"Very well, maybe we'll just go inside," he said and quickly moved forward.

God, I have to keep Sookie with me at all costs; either way I will surely die alone because of my 'I'm an awkward idiot' curse. I vaguely wondered if my mother had pissed off some evil witch in the past and gotten herself cursed… Sleeping Beauty had a damn spindle and I had my own mouth to get me into trouble.

I walked obediently after Mister Eternal Constipation and looked around the house. It was cold, spacious and luxurious… I hated it.

The second one was very similar and by the third, I was beginning to suspect that my agent had not been informed of what I was looking for.

"Excuse me…" I said when we had parked in front of one more modern looking beast. "What did my, hm… had my assistant said to you about my preferences?"

The man seemed to be taken aback by my question. "She informed me that you're looking for something in a specific price range and that you are a technology tycoon."

Technology tycoon…. How I hate my mother.

"So, I assume that you're just driving me from one overpriced house packed with unnecessary electronics to the other?" I snapped back, forgetting for a moment to be polite. "And these windows…" I murmured. "Why would people want all these windows?"

"I apologize, Mister Northman. I was left with the impression that's what you might be interested in. What are your preferences then?" he asked emotionlessly and I could not brush off the feeling that this guy is an ass. His tone was almost patronizing, even though he plastered a broad fake smile on his pale face. I highly doubted that he is, as my treacherous mother had assured me, 'the most desired RE agent in the city'.

His question was relatively simple to answer, though. "Totally opposite to that!" I pointed at the white unwelcoming house and at it's stupid giant windows. "I want something cozy, warm and older. Something that in shape reminds me of a house, not this futuristic box. I want wooden stairs and a fireplace, something spacious but not empty. I want to make myself a home, you know," I explained, full of passion. "I'm gonna be a father," I added as an afterthought, feeling my chest swelling with pride.

The man nodded and informed me coldly that he had something that I will like. When we moved to the neighborhood of older townhouses, I almost wiggled in my seat. I was giddy and damn, I was excited.

We had barely walked inside when I felt myself smiling at the sight in front of me. It was exactly what I was looking for…

"I thought that this is the first of the townhouses that we should look at, Mister Northman. Unless you want more privacy and seclusion..."

"No, it's fine," I assured him. Neighbors never bothered me.

"You informed me that you're expecting a baby and this particular neighborhood has many families with babies and children of different ages... You and your wife should be pleased with it."

"I am not married…" I pointed at my ringless finger.

"Oh, I hadn't noticed the lack of a ring…" The man waved his hand at me and I smiled politely, seeing the golden band on his finger. For some reason, this gesture irritated me. There was something about this man… Something that was bothering me, but I couldn't put my finger on it.

"And do you have children?" I asked, trying to sustain a conversation.

"Oh not yet, but me and my beloved wife are… trying." He smiled genuinely at me and for a moment, I felt a manly understanding towards him.

"Yup, I'm sure the trying is not too tiring," I offered with a wink and he laughed for the first time.

"It is, but I don't complain."

I almost exhaled out loud. I had done what had needed to be done and now I started to ignore the guy. What was his name? I'm sure that he had introduced himself, but just then, Sookie had called me and I had ignored his outstretched hand. Was it Walter?

When I had inspected the house from top to bottom, I had fallen in love with it. It was perfect for me and perfect for Sookie… And it will be perfect for baby Northman. I was particularly pleased to see a big kitchen and big bedrooms. Something was telling me that those will be the places where me and Sookie would be spending most of our time. The interior was painted mostly in neutral colors with a lot of wooden elements, but I decided that it was a good thing. This décor would be a good base for any future changes. I was already planning on engaging Sookie in helping me to make the place more 'homey'. It was a good way to create a bond between her and this place, right? Then she'll fall in love with our townhouse she will be more reluctant to leave it one day. And to leave me…

God, I was turning into a real freaking master manipulator.

"Mister Northman?"

"Hm?" I turned to Mister Ass-Stick, irritated that he had interrupted my journey down the fantasy lane.

"Are you ready to drive to another place?"

"No, I want this one," I told him, turning back to the stairs. Wide, solidly built, but slightly slippery. We will have to think about that when baby Northman starts to walk…

"If I may suggest something…"

I turned and glare at him, using my eyes to channel my irritation. It was torturous to drive around and waste my time when I could have spent it with Sookie trying to cheer up her mood. Not mention this guy was really getting on my nerves.

"Let's just establish that I'm ready to take the risk and buy it without looking for something else."

His eyes shone for a moment with excitement.

"Of course, sir! Although, I'm afraid that you've slightly overspent…"

"How much?"

"Seven hundred fifty thousand, sir."

"Give me a moment?" I asked and I walked outside to call my mother. She answered immediately and after our short conversation, during which I was trying to learn how big my budget was according to her, I was relieved that I was hiding my full income from my mother. I could easily afford this place. I quickly called my accountant, Bruce and asked him to prepare everything. I also sent a quick text to Sookie to inform her that I had found a house.

I walked back with a light heart and a big smile on my face.

"I'm ready to take it. Would you mind preparing the paperwork, Mister…" I paused, taking unhealthy pleasure with showing him that, no, I hadn't even bothered with remembering his name. He chuckled like I had just told him a joke and then he smiled his sly smile, completely unfazed by my obviously rude behavior. Damned Master of Vaseline.

"Compton. William Compton," he told me and I nodded my understanding.

"Well, Mister Compton, I'm a very busy man. Technology tycoon and things…My accountant and lawyer will inform you of the details."

"I can only say that I'm thrilled. It was a pleasure to strike a deal with you, sir."

He was so slick that I was surprised that he could stand up straight. Wasn't he bothered with all of that Vaseline pouring out of his orifices?

"Sure thing…"

It was at this awkward moment that we should have parted, but I was not sure how to proceed. Thankfully, Compton and his ass-kissing abilities saved the day for me.

"My firm is holding this little party for our best clients…" Best? Is it a euphemism for the richest? "Me and my partners would be thrilled if you'd honor us with your…"

"No," I interrupted before he'd finished. "I hate parties."

Every party is just a constant pain for me. Sophie always…

And this thought gave me a pause. Sophie was no longer. There would no longer be an uppity bitch hanging onto my arm and admonishing me with every step. She will not be silencing me and apologizing for everything that I say.

I could have even take Sookie with me. With Sookie there's actually a chance for fun.

"Or you know what…" I mumbled. "I'll come. But not alone!"

The agent opened and closed his mouth a few times. "Well, that's wonderful then! My assistant will contact yours. Of course, the proper invitations will…"

My phone started to ring and I raised a finger to stop him from talking. It was Sookie calling, so whatever Compton wanted to say, it was going to have to wait.

"Sorry, it's important. But, you do…. You know… whatever you have to. I'll have to be on my way. Bye!"

I turned my back to him and walked outside, waving to the man who waved back with his fake smile still plastered on.

"Hello, lover…" I purred, walking outside and deciding to go for a walk around my new neighborhood. "You have no idea what wonderful news I have!"


AN: Really... Bill the Estate Agent? What are the odds?! :)

Let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!