A/N: Hey guys! Posting here first again! Remember to follow for updates! I really love posting my stories here, mainly because I have a lot more control over the content than I do at FF, and it looks how I want it to look too! Feel free to say hey if you’re having a read! I don’t bite… much.
It was a week later, and things had calmed down considerably at work. An issue of the magazine had gone out, the next one was broken in and things were looking smooth – so far at least. There were no major meeting, no major showings, so things were quiet, in one aspect at least. In that week I’d done a considerable amount of freaking out, crying, and all around bad decision making. I was, after all, on the hunt for a fake boyfriend, and I’d never had a fake boyfriend before, so needless to say the path was one less travelled. I’d tasked Eric with finding me the names and numbers of those that I deemed a suitable match, as a fake boyfriend, of course. We’d come up with four initial men, and I’d taken the liberty of calling each of them and arranging a ‘meeting’ slash ‘date’ with them. So my Tuesday through Friday nights were covered for that week until I found ‘the one’. It was strictly business of course. But, the initial meetings were to gage if these guys would be up for bearding for me, or lipsticking, whatever the female version of a fake significant other was, I needed to know if it was something they’d be up for. It also meant that Eric was on overtime, time that I was paying him generously for might I add, to assist me on these days. What can I say, it was his genius idea, and I needed a second opinion, a guy’s opinion, and he was that guy. I also needed his note-taking skills. I would talk them up, and he would write it down, and then I’d decide. I knew I had to be extremely careful about this. Confidentiality agreements, contracts … it all had to be above board, of that I would be sure. But for the first stage, I had to just find a guy I wasn’t repulsed by who I’d be able to pass off, and thus create the illusion of normality for my family, and secure my job – as well as the job of countless others.
I was stressed out, not only had I to do this, but I had to keep it a secret from my friends … one friend in particular, Pam.
“And she said that? I can’t believe she said that. I mean, Jesus, what does she want from you more than to do your job!”
“I know, it’s why I was so thrown; it had nothing to actually DO with the business, at all! It had to do with my personal life, or … you know, lack thereof. But, we’ll bitch about it later.”
“Why later?” she asked, looking up from her take out sushi. I’d called to her place in mid-town before the first ‘date,’ since we were all meeting there anyway.
“Oh, I have a date,” I said, hugging her and putting my coat back on.
She raised her brows, but didn’t get off her couch. “Is that so? I thought you’d broken out the Dolce dress for a reason, and let’s face it, I’m just not that special. Who is he?”
“You don’t know him, hell, I barely know him, but there will be a phone call later with more details,” I promised as I bent over to kiss her on the cheek goodbye.
“Tell Talia I’ll be over on Sunday, if she’s making her famous roast.”
“Will do, be safe okay?”
Pam was rarely sincere in front of company, but one on one, she was my bestie, and always had my back. It made lying to her so much harder than to anyone else. But, I had a lie to sell, and to sell it to everyone, no one could know.
At least that’s what I told myself.
Eric called me to tell me he was waiting for me outside the restaurant. I’d picked a really nice place, a French/Italian on 36th. When I got out of the car, there he was standing in the rain with a new coat, an add to the collection I’d noticed over the past week. This was Burberry, and it looked like it was made just for him, and for snuggling, but, mostly for him. He looked good, I can admit that. I can also admit to being somewhat softened by why he did what he did, for me. Lafayette had told me the earnest tale of why he had his little makeover, and I couldn’t help but find it incredibly sweet. Of course I chastised myself right away, he was my assistant, he just liked his job, he just wanted to keep his job… it had nothing to do with the fact that we made out pretty heavily, twice.
No, nothing. Absolutely not.
“Who is this one again?”
“Um,” he looked at his iPad as we sat there with our respective drinks, waiting on the ‘date’ to arrive.
“Right, Quinn, he owns this amazing little party planning, events business, it’s really up and coming. We featured them in the magazine a few months ago after I found them for Pam’s birthday party.”
Eric just nodded.
Quinn arrived, fifteen minutes later – not a great start on his report card might I add – I was a stickler for time keeping. He also raised a brow or two at Eric on our ‘date’, until I explained to him exactly what the situation was. More than once. He wasn’t so smart, Quinn.
“So like you want me to do you and him?” he asked, his Bronx accent as thick as his head.
“No, there will be no doing of anyone, it’s just…pretend,” I sighed. Third time lucky, maybe?
Eric looked pissed, but he refused to get involved, instead sitting, taking his notes, silently. His judgemental stares though, those I could have done without.
“Babe, come on now, we know there’s some chemistry here… I think that if we were to stop pretending all this ‘contractual’ stuff, we could really have something, what’aya say?”
I just glared.
“Thanks Quinn, it’s been real. We’ll be in touch,” I said, ending things as swiftly after that as I possibly could, then paying the bill and getting into the town car.
“Disaster,” Eric said. “I don’t know what I’m doing here, Sookie, if this is what this week is going to be like – watching guys ogle your goodies, then I’m not sure I have place here.”
“You ogle my … you do your own fair share of that, don’t pretend.” I refused to use the term ‘goodies’.
He just smirked and scrolled on his pad.
“Not Quinn, I don’t even need to see the notes, he was not … the one.”
“Damn straight. Your Grandmother wouldn’t buy him anyway, he’s not really your type.”
“And you think you know my type?” I asked looking him straight in the face.
“No, women are … fickle.”
“And men aren’t?”
“I didn’t say that, it’s just your Gran mentioned you liked … well … tall guys, who maybe could wear the hell out of a suit or two,” he smiled, smug.
“Did she now? What else did she say?”
“Not much … just that. So, I knew him and his ‘Babe’ would be a bust, sorry.”
“I hated that. Who addresses people like that, I mean am I a talking pig? Do you see the gruff farmer anywhere? No, so don’t do that,” I said, to no one in particular, making Eric laugh.
“It was pretty cringe. I mean come on, do better dude, you’re bald, and that’s mostly fat, not muscle … it doesn’t help his cause.”
“Who’s next?” I sighed, sitting back.
“A Mr William Compton, fashion guy?” he said, reading the list.
“Yeah, Bill. I met him at the Met ball a few years ago, he’s fine I guess, eternally single, sort of weird, but he’d be doing this for the promo it would get his business if the rags found out about us, which I’d assume he’d make sure they would.”
“And you’d be okay with that? Everyone thinking you were dating this guy?”
I shrugged, “I normally don’t’ give a shit what people think. This is a means to an end, nothing more.”
He shook his head.
“What? Don’t get all judgemental on me now, this WAS your idea.”
“This so, SO, wasn’t my idea.”
“It was a little bit at least. And besides, it’s only for a few months, then my birthday is after Christmas, and bam, breakup and boom, full time safe employment with a business that will be fully mine to do with as I please. Win, win.”
Okay so that was me over simplifying every aspect of it, but the way I saw it, it was a good idea, and if I executed it right things could go back to normal in no time. Something that I couldn’t do if I actually started to ‘date’ someone for real, a concept lost on my assistant.
“I don’t know why you just can’t go out to a bar and-”
“You know why, we’ve had this conversation like a thousand times this week, Eric. This is the best way, end of story.”
“I just don’t get it you’re a hot, successful woman. It won’t be that hard-”
“Well, why don’t you do the same then? Go out to some random bar, and meet some random girl who you know nothing about, who you think is hot, but could be totally insane on the inside. Do that and tell me how it works for you. How’s it been working for you?” I countered, tired of his judgemental tone.
That shut him up, and he sat back and decided to glare out the window at the passing city. We dropped him off, and without a word he exited the car, still pouting. Sometimes I thought I worked with a bunch of toddlers!
It had disaster written all over it, anyone could see that. But she was so in the zone of this little mission that there was just no getting through to her. I didn’t know what exactly she had against attempting something real with someone, but she was firmly against it; nothing I said changed her mind. We’d avoided the subject of us. The obvious attractions were there, but I guess neither of us knew if it went beyond drunk or semi – high kisses. We didn’t know because neither of us were really all that willing to find out. I could blame her. I could say she was being an idiot and too cautious, but in truth I was being the same way. The ultimate rejection wasn’t something I was prepared for, and I knew she would reject it because it would be too close to sane, and normal an idea for her, I realised.
Bill Compton was date number two, and disaster number two. He was self involved to the point where I questioned if we were on some punk reality show being filmed. He constantly referred to himself in the third person or if he wasn’t doing that he was referring to himself as ‘one.’ Oh, and if he made one more disparaging comment in my direction, I was pretty sure I was going to smash his face through the wall … and we were only on the second course.
“Sookie, one can see why one is making such a commitment, contractual or otherwise, it makes perfect sense. One cannot be too safe these days, especially when one’s wealth and career is at stake,” he said, swirling his wine. I just glared at Sookie.
“Yes, Bill, thank you, at least someone understands…” she said to him, but clearly it was meant for me.
“Bill cannot believe that your Grandmother would be so unreasonable. Really. it’s unheard of, in this day and age.”
“So is referring to yourself in the third person,” I mumbled, and Sookie kicked me under the table.
“Yes. Very unreasonable,” she said.
“Well. I think that if you need a man to fulfil this rather exciting role, Sookie, I could very well be that man. You and I get along… I’d always thought so, which is why I’m a tad confused as to why there is the need for the assistant.”
Yep that was me, ‘the assistant’ not, ‘Eric,’ or ‘that guy,’ no, I was simply defined by my job title. Nice, right?
Yeah, real nice.
Sookie didn’t correct him either, all of the six times he did it, and that just pissed me off further.
“Well this will be solely a business transaction, Bill, it won’t be personal at all,” she clarified.
“And what would I be getting in return for such a service,” he said, leering at her. She missed it though, as she pulled out her own iPad.
“Yes, of course. Well, there is the initial fee of twenty-five thousand dollars.” I almost choked on my drink. That was new, last I heard it was ten!
“Then of course there will be accommodation supplied if it’s needed-”
“I live in the city. Upper East. That won’t be necessary,” he commented, sipping his wine like the big girl he was.
“Great. There’s also the promotional value, for you in particular.” That got his attention.
“We can run your brand advertising for free for the next six issues.”
“Is that so? How many-”
“Three pages, full.”
He raised his brows, clearly impressed. “And there would be no other contractual obligations … physically.”
Can he just ask if he’s being paid to fuck her, like a normal person?
“No, Bill, it wouldn’t be like that at all, strictly business, strictly for show.”
“Hmm. That is a pity,” he smirked. I hated his smirk, it was creepy.
We were all silent as the waitress cleared out table, and I thanked her. She smiled at me, she was cute. At least someone was being nice to me, I thought.
“When do I sign?” he asked, sitting back in his chair.
“Oh, well, you don’t, not yet. Not until I’ve made the final decision, and seen all the candidates,” Sookie clarified, and I hoped she was back peddling and that she hated him, because really, if I had to look at this guy for the next few months, I might have had to quit.
“I see. Well, Sookie, when you decide it’s me, I’ll expect the call.”
As always, Sookie took care of the bill – the actual dinner bill, not the douche bag Bill. Which, as a guy, I felt uncomfortable with, so I didn’t really understand how they could just shrug it off like it was nothing. Sure, I didn’t take my dates to restaurants where dinner costs more than rent, but I always made sure it was somewhere nice, and I always picked up the tab, no matter how broke I was. It was just how I was raised.
Silently, we left, and as soon as we got into the car she turned to me.
“You hated him, didn’t you?”
“Honestly? He’s twat. So … yes.”
That made Hoyt laugh, which pissed Sookie off enough to put up the screen.
“He’s so nosy,” she commented on Hoyt. “Bill wasn’t so bad though, I mean he was better than John Quinn…”
“Which isn’t saying much, is it? I mean, come on. The constant ‘one must’ bullshit, and the fake British accent sliced in with that southern accent? I mean, what’s he aiming for here? And all that shit about ‘the help’, I mean I just didn’t think you’d-”
“That I’d what?”
“Want to date, or even fake date such an out and out snob,” I shrugged. “I thought you were above all that, but clearly if Bill is someone you can see yourself with, even fake dating, then maybe I was wrong. Maybe he’s perfect for you.”
Passive aggressive, sure, but at the time I was mostly just confused and angry, which made me even more confused because I didn’t know why I was angry.
She turned and looked out the window, “I’m not a snob.”
I just laughed.
“I’m not. You see, you’re doing it again, confusing class with snobbery.”
“Really? Am I? And why is that? Because I’m just some assistant? And an assistant couldn’t possibly know shit about being classy, could he?”
“Not when he uses shit as a pronoun, no.”
“You’re really doing that thing…”
“The thing when you can’t win an argument, so you just start correcting someone’s grammar instead, nice.”
She just turned to the window again, “I don’t think we need you for tomorrow night,”
“Good!” she said, not looking at me, but clearly fuming. We spent the rest of the car ride to my place in silence, just like the night before.
Sometimes I really hated my job.
I got home to the smell of baking, to find Ames, Taylor and Emily in the kitchen, the latter two covered in flour.
“We’re baking!” Emily said as I gave her a kiss on the cheek.
“I can see that, hey Tay.”
“Hi Eric,” Taylor said, still smushing something in a bowl.
“Was there any trouble with her?” I asked Amelia.
“Nope, we’ve been baking for about an hour or so. They’ve both been surprisingly calm tonight.”
“Good, great. Thanks.”
She just nodded her head.
“Sam and Trey will be here in a bit. You look stressed,” she said, washing her hands, and then joining me with a beer on the couch as the girls continued to smash fruit.
“I am. I hate my job.”
“Ah, one of those nights, huh? What does she have you doing at the office so late this week?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Oh, I have something for you,” I said, going to the closet. “They sent this into the office a month ago for the magazine to review it or something, I don’t know, but Sookie doesn’t want it, and I’d rather you have it than Sophie.” Who was being weirdly nice to me lately, it was worrying.
“What is-” her mouth went agape.
And then there was squeezing and squealing. I guess a Mulberry does that to a girl. Personally, I just saw a normal shaped messenger bag, why did it have to cost four thousand dollars? Ridiculous!
“I have to say, Eric, you might hate your job tonight, but I fucking love it!” she whispered, hugging me again. “Seriously, you know if I sold this how much I could get?”
“About four grand?”
“Shut up! Seriously?! No!?”
“I would never, it’s too pretty, oh it’s so pretty… but really, four grand?”
“So the tag said. Go nuts, I mean sell it if you want, I won’t be offended ,I promise.”
“I… couldn’t… but wait, why don’t you sell it, I mean…” she looked around the apartment. “You could use the extra cash.”
I smiled, “Sweet, but you know I’m holding out for a new place anyway.”
“I heard Mrs Anderson from 8G is moving to Florida to be with her son…”
“So did I. That apartment is great, and it has a big balcony too, an actual view. I don’t want to move too far, so it would be perfect.”
“Nothing, I just thought with your new fancy wardrobe, you’d maybe want to ‘move on up’, you’re wearing Gucci, Eric.”
“I am aware, and you’ll also be needing to know that it’s not mine. It belongs to the job. As do the other suits I have. They’re ‘on loan’ sort of. It’s hard to explain.”
“If you didn’t give them back would you get in trouble?”
“No… not really.”
“Then they’re yours.”
Two hours later the girls were asleep, and there we were just sitting having some beers and some chat. Sam knew Trey from years of working in the bar, and construction together, then Sam bought a bar around the corner, and I’d met him through Trey. They were good people.
“And she’s just fake dating them?” Ames asked.
“Trying to, but she’s really fussy so I don’t know why she’s doing it to be honest. But she’s against real dating right now, it’s too messy, or whatever.” Three beers later and I was still pissed at her.
“I guess it makes business sense. She really wants her job, and relationships are messy, too many emotions. I see her point,” Ames shrugged, switching the channels.
“But… what’s wrong with real dating?” Sam asked.
“My point!” I said. “But I guess her ‘messy’ is costly, not just to her but to everyone else that works for her. I don’t like it, but it is what it is. They’re all assholes though, so far.”
“Oh, I’m not ‘required’ tomorrow night. I guess being honest with her gets you shut out.”
“Butthurt much, man?” Trey said, and I rolled my eyes.
“She seems like a complex woman…” Sam added, “that you’re totally hot for.”
This caused Amelia to smile,.“I think so too, I mean look, you even got all sophisticated for her.”
“I didn’t get sophisticated for her, technically I got it for her Grandmother, I was scared she’d fire me if I showed up in what I usually wear, okay?”
“So you’re hot for her Grandmother?” Trey added with a smirk, and I threw a peanut at him.
“Shut the fuck up, I am not. Besides, you said you liked the clothes, Ames. If I recall, you said you wished Trey would make such an effort sometimes, too.”
Trey glared at Amelia, who then glared at me. At least it got off the topic of Sookie.
“Eric Northman, I swear to god had you not just given me a Mulberry bag you’d be in the shit.”
“You love me, Ames, its okay to admit that. Trey just has to learn to-”
I got slapped with a pillow.
Walking Emily to pre-school the next morning was good for me, it blew off the cobwebs, and it informed me that I had a bit of a hangover; my tolerance for alcohol was zero these days.
“Can we get waffles? We’re early…”
“You refuse cereal or eggs, and now you want waffles?”
Waffles did sound good.
“Please? Pretty please?”
I checked my watch, and you know what? I could be late. Until she called shrieking at me that is.
Twenty minutes later, we walked the last block to Emily’s school with her on my shoulders, her informing me she was doing art today, and that she liked art, and that she wanted to draw dresses, so that maybe she could show Sookie them, sometime. Needless to say, Emily was all kinds of enamoured with Sookie, and I got it, I did. To a little kid she’s this amazing fancy grown up who looks at pretty dresses all day, what’s not to love? In reality, I knew the truth.
The whole day at work was silently awkward to say the least, even Lafayette noticed, and I got odd looks from the girls from personnel, too, and of course Sookie was in a foul mood. Her bad mood meant hell for the rest of the office, and we’d managed to get through the whole day without her saying one word to me that wasn’t an order of some kind, and I managed to get through the day without killing her.
“Excuse me?” she asked, looking past her laptop to me.
“That’s the guy, you’re meeting him at eight in-”
“I do know this you know, I was there when we came up with the names, and I have made the necessary phone calls.”
“Fine, you can go now,” she said, as Lafayette walked in.
“God damn, it’s only the start of October, but damn, is it snowing already ‘cause there is one hell of an ice freeze in this office,” he smiled, and I simply glared.
“What do you want?” she asked, and he just looked at me.
“What’s wrong with you two? Are you fighting? Why the faces?”
“What do you want, Lafayette?” she demanded, and he gave in.
“Signatures, if you please, and I guess less yelling.”
She just sighed, and snapped the papers out of his hands. I held my hands up to him, and left. It was after five, I was done, and she could deal with her fake!date all on her own. She was a big enough girl, she was a bitchy enough girl, and I found it hard to believe she couldn’t handle herself. I refused to feel guilty about it, she was a grown ass woman, why should I? I thought, as I dragged my ass home. No, Sookie Stackhouse could handle herself and her own problems – problems SHE was creating, all by herself.
Or so I thought, until she showed up at my door at three am, wasted, and reading me the riot act.
Did I mention that I hated my job?