AN: Thank you for a wonderful feedback.

Rosie asked in the review if I'm planning to post others' POVs. In fact, I am (very rarely though). The next chapter will show a sneak peak of Sophie Anne's and Bill's thoughts.

Big thanks for keiman and kei for fixing my mistakes.

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters.


Chapter 3

Stages

During the ten minutes that Sophie Anne had spent in my office, she went through all five stages of grief.

The first one was obviously denial.

"You can't just throw our relationship away! We've been together for over two years, it means something! This is not the end... It can't be..."

It quickly turned to anger though.

"You won't even speak to me? Fine! That's your fault too, you ass! Do you think it just happened? Fuck you!"

She swiftly composed herself and started the bargain.

"Okay, I overreacted... Maybe we can discuss it? I heard that couple therapy is efficient. I will make amends... Just please, give me one more chance."

This stage of depression was shown as the heartbreaking sobs and cries.

Finally, Sophie seemed to accept the fact that there was no point in showing off in front of me. Honestly, I expected myself to be angry or hurt but I was indifferent. I guess there was never any real love between us.

"Fine..." Sophie raised her hands in the sign of surrender realizing that I am not going to speak with her. "I can see you're heartbroken and maybe in shock." No, I was not. "I will leave you alone for some time, but please, don't let this little slip destroy the beautiful relationship we have."

During the whole one sided conversation, Pam was standing in the doorway with hands on her hips and glaring at my ex-fiancé. When Sophie finally left, Pam only raised her eyebrows at me in silent question.

"I felt nothing." I admitted, a little surprised by this fact.

"Then I'm relieved. If you had been hurt, I would have had to hire an assassin to take the bitch down," she murmured and left. Pam could be very scary sometimes and I profoundly thanked my lucky star that she's in my corner…

The next day Pam was standing at the exact same spot with a dumbfounded expression, watching my struggle.

"How can I be so stupid as to wear a Mickey Mouse t-shirt when I'm planning to go out for lunch?" I scolded myself while checking my watch and trying to figure out how to make myself presentable in a matter of ten minutes. Maybe there is a shop on the way to Rico's?

"You have some explaining to do," she told me seriously and then she disappeared for a minute, coming back with a white shirt in hand. "Take this," she handed me a hanger. "I keep it in my closet in case you would have the need to look like a real businessman," she explained in a bored tone and I wanted to kiss her. I was about to do just that but she raised her finger, stopping me. "Roll up the sleeves and it can work with your jeans and if your mysterious girl is partially blind, it can work with those damn sneakers too," she continued with her fashion lecture. I thanked her sincerely and started to pull the shirt on when Pam cleared her throat.

"What?"

"You are not wearing that damned tee under an Armani. Take it off!"

Pouting just a little bit, I took off my lucky t-shirt and put on the white 'Armani'. I stopped in front of her, even giving her a turn around to present myself from every angle but Pam only rolled her eyes.

"We have to go with what we got…" she told me cryptically and I shuffled under her gaze. I hoped to look good today but I guess my mission wasn't accomplished. Why do I even care? It's only Sookie I'm meeting…

Okay, who am I kidding? I care because she is a stunning woman and I don't want to look like some hobo standing next to her. Our conversation is going to be uncomfortable enough without my embarrassing her.

"Eric?"

"Hm?" I asked, avoiding Pam's eyes and collecting my wallet and smartphone.

"Your behavior worries me," admitted Pam and it was my turn to roll my eyes. "You met the girl, you probably knocked her up, I get that you're nervous. But please, don't go into your puppy mode over her, okay?"

She sounded almost patronizing this time and her behavior was getting annoying. "Drop it," I said a little too sharply. "I am just trying to look good, something you have been trying to force me to do for years. I am single now, because somehow, I couldn't keep one woman who wanted me… " I stopped when there was a stapler flying in my direction and I avoided being hit only by chance.

"Stop with your fucking pity-party!" yelled Pam and my previous bravado was instantly gone. " Sophie Anne was a bitch and be happy she made you a cockhold before the wedding. And now…" She was currently holding my tablet and her gesticulation was getting more violent. "… go impress the chick you possibly knocked up."

"Her name is Sookie and if you saw her you would know that she's a lady and…" I started but she raised my device over her head so I stopped. I love my flat electronic friend.

"You have been thinking of her since the moment you two separated, haven't you?" I stayed quiet, not wanting to admit that she's correct. "Maybe the circumstances under which you made her acquaintance weren't perfect but she clearly has something in her, something that makes this strange pull real..."

Pam squinted, challenging me and I lost my cool under her serious gaze. I snapped.

"Oh my God, you're so right!" I exclaimed, raising my hands. "She's fantastic and I was fighting with myself not to call her, like I don't know… hundreds of times yesterday?!" Pam only sighed at my enthusiasm. " But this is so strange… I had been engaged until two days ago and she is married… And Pam, what if she's pregnant?"

"Then you have already made the first step in your relationship?" she murmured sarcastically but I ignored her.

"This is gonna be so awkward." I was bubbling. "I am already bad with relationships and this? This is like a fucking telenovella scenario!" I was far from finishing my little dramatic performance, feeling like I had to share all my doubts with someone. "Dating her seems tempting but in a situation like that, it's just like a recipe for disaster. What if she's pregnant? What if she's not? If there's a baby in the oven, we'll have to meet from time to time, of course, but what if there isn't and she would just cut all her ties with me?" I paused to take a breath. "I mean, the sex was fantastic - at least the parts I remember…" And then the horrible thought struck. "Oh God, what if it was bad? I was so wasted after all. Oh no…" I sat down heavily at my desk. "I probably sucked…"

"Eric!" I turned to Pam who was standing there and pinching her nose like I was giving her a headache. I mean, I was spilling out my heart and she was so cold-blooded. Why are we friends, again? "Do me a favor and stop acting like a teenage drama queen with her period. You lost your chance…"

"Let's not be pessimistic, okay?" I interrupted a little defensively. "One bad sexual performance can't make me completely hopeless!"

"Eric…" she said through her teeth. "You lost your chance for making a good impression because you're already late for lunch!"

It took me a precious second to get what she had just said. I slowly turned to the clock and yup, there it was – I should have been with Sookie five minutes ago.

"Shit!" I jumped up from the desk and as much as jogged to the door but Pam took a step, blocking my way. "What?" I groaned.

"Just be yourself," she told me with a little smile and I inhaled deeply. That wasn't the best advice.

"And make her run?"

"If you're going to act the way she would want you to – just like you did with Sophie – instead of being yourself, then there is no point in meeting with her." I was wasting valuable seconds listening to her but something in her gaze caught my attention. Pam was worried.

"Pam…"

"You're a great guy…" she whispered and I swear, Pam looked almost moved. "But if this chick is crypto- lesbian, she's mine!" she added sharply and my sassy mean Pam was magically back.

"Forget it…" I mumbled, walking to the corridor.

"Oh really? Because if your performance was so poor she may change teams!" she sassed back and I was tempted to flip her off.

Thankfully, I wasn't too late, only fifteen minutes – something I could easily blame on the traffic. When I saw Sookie though, sitting there and looking literally breathtaking, my brain shut down and I couldn't force myself to tell a harmless white lie.

"Hello, sorry I'm late but I was looking for a better shirt. My Mickey Mouse tee was inappropriate for lunch..." I said loud enough for her to hear me. Unfortunately.

The same second that the words left my mouth, I was dreaming of crawling under the nearest table to die in an embryological position. I was so, so very lame…

"I have one with Ducky Duck, it's my favorite," she said smoothly though and there was only a polite smile on her face. "There're holes in it in a few places…" Sookie mumbled, blushing a little and I took it as my cue to sit down in the chair opposite her.

"We should organize the 'Day of Cartoon Tees' then," I offered, smiling and seeing her laughing instantly relaxed me.

"This shirt is good, by the way…" Sookie pointed at me, shrugging.

"It's just… white…" I murmured and her smile deflated. Oh smooth, Northman… couldn't you just thank her? Say something polite! "At least it's clean, right?"

When Sookie agreed with me, nodding, I just stuck my eyes on the menu. I will die alone… Maybe I should forgive Sophie?

"That was very awkward…" Sookie told me and I risked a look at her. She was blushing and looking at the menu with almost as big an interest as me.

"I apologize, I am not good with social conversation," I admitted. "I usually say or do things that seem… well…"

"Rude? Out of place?" she offered and I moved uncomfortably. Was she mad at me? "I do the same things sometimes," she whispered very quietly.

With this statement, she had my full attention. She, awkward? She looked like a goddess and she was so… kind and polite.

"It's hard to believe," I said slowly.

"Oh, really?" she challenged me, putting her menu aside and crossing her hands on the table. "Last month I was with my… with Bill, at the exhibition at the gallery where his friend's wife was displaying her modern arts works…"

I already knew it was gonna be good.

"There was a table with food, a little messy I admit, but the food was good…" Sookie lowered her gaze and whispered so quietly that I barely heard her. "I ate her installation."

I was trying my best not to laugh but I failed. "That's okay," I assured her when I stopped chuckling. "I did something inappropriate at an exhibition as well."

"Seriously?" she asked and I just simply nodded. I got back to studying menu. "Oh come on, spill!" Sookie taunted with a broad grin. And there was this flash of genius (I have them occasionally).

"Maybe at the next lunch?" I asked, raising an eyebrow, the gesture which, according to Pam, looks good on me. Sookie huffed her disappointment but nodded.

"Fine! But you owe me two embarrassing stories for a cliffhanger."

"Done."

We got our orders, laughing when we found out that we both prefer grapefruit juice over orange and that we are both allergic to strawberries. Those weren't the only things we had in common. Sookie had no preferences in music - she liked whatever felt right – just like me. We liked Finder's books and hated sad movies. We didn't get artists and vegetarians…

Maybe I have found my soul mate? The next hour passed very fast and I was saddened when Sookie had to take her leave. She was working as a social worker at the shelter located almost forty minutes away from the restaurant we were in. I was very ashamed that I made her travel so far, and by train no less. It was so dangerous in NY.

"So," she straightened her light green dress. "I will have the results about any diseases tomorrow."

"Yes, me too…"

"So, I'll text you or you'll text me with the results. Depending on who will have them first," she added.

"Yes and in four days we will have another result." I pointed at her stomach and Sookie nodded nervously.

Five days, she had explained to me earlier. This is the minimal period of time from potential insemination to take a pregnancy test.

"I want to do this in this cheesy way before I'll contact my gynecologist," she explained. "Either way, I am not going to get an abortion and if we hit the target, I want to find out this way. It's the ritual."

I agreed with her, knowing that the next four days will be a torture.

The following day, I got a call from my family doctor with the happy news that I was clean. I instantly texted Sookie and she confirmed that she had gotten the same results.

So, it looked like my family jewels and scepter would not fall in the near future. Thank God for small miracles.

It was Friday and I knew that today was the day. I couldn't sleep because I had nightmares where I was chased by three-legged toddlers. It was so bizarre… Three-legged and chubby babies were so damned fast.

The whole morning I was holding my cell firmly in my hand, even on my way to the kitchen and bathroom. And that was my mistake because being so deep in thought about the potential baby, I had accidentally thrown my cell- along with a banana- into the mixer. The whole floor was startled by the crack of my phone being turned to ashes and by my running to Pam and yelling at her to get me a new phone with the old number.

What if Sookie calls?!

An hour after the 'banana phone' incident I was still cell-less and angry.

I think that even Pam was a little afraid of me.

The phone of my desk rang and I answered it with sharp "What?" startling poor Bubba. I instantly felt like shit. Bubba was our doorman/janitor and up until last month, when I saw him watching our receptionist with an unhealthy interest, he was also my personal announcer.

Okay, I believe you deserve an explanation at this point.

At first, when I saw him watching Mandy, I got worried. What if he's some kind of a stalker? But no, the truth was a little more complicated. Bubba loves phones and being a receptionist is, according to him, the most important and responsible job in the world. Having a few little mental problems closed out his chances for working in such position though. He was very polite, almost unbelievably so, and insisted on calling me 'sir' – something that none of my employees do.

Being the sap I was, I offered to make him my personal announcer when I heard his story. His job during morning hours was to sit next to Mandy and call me if someone is there to meet with me. He was doing his job very well and even if Pam was calling me a pussy, the look of sheer happiness on the man's face was worth it.

"I am sorry if I interrupted, Eric, sir," he said fearfully and my heart clenched.

"It's okay Bubba," I assured him. "I was just mad at Pam; that's why I sounded so harsh; you did nothing wrong."

"There is a beautiful woman downstairs, sir but she has no appointment. She keeps smiling friendly at me though so can I send her upstairs?"

That was so very Bubba. "Did she introduce herself?" I asked.

"Yes, her name is Sookie Stackhouse, sir. That's a very unusual name, sir but it fits her. I think it's the lady that makes you smile, sir."

Oh, this… Two days ago I was stuck on my smartphone texting Sookie and smiling like a fool. Bubba, while slow in some departments, was very good at identifying emotions. When he asked me who makes me smile, I told him it's my friend, Sookie.

I almost fell off my chair at the realization that he was saying things like that with Sookie standing next to him.

"Just send her in…" I whispered, hanging my head in shame.

The Goddess was here and not only I had been embarrassed even before we met, I was also wearing my damn Snoopy tee as well.

"Pam!" I hollered. "There's an emergency!"


AN: That's all for now, I hope you enjoyed it. Please, leave a review!