New update time! Love to hear from you guys, as always 😀 Are we excited or dreading
TruBill… I mean TrueBlood?
“Hello, SCC, Sookie Stack-“
I was always interrupted before I ever finished that sentence it seemed. This one was the press, again, looking for a statement from Sookie as to the rumours about trouble in the company. They’d been calling on and off for weeks, Sookie was convinced there was leak, but it didn’t take a genius to work out who would be tattling to the press – Claudine had nothing to lose and everything to gain and everyone was sure it was her, but no proof meant no confrontation, so it was left with a simple ‘no comment’.
“How was the party the other night, word was you stuck to Sookie like glue, not that that’s unusual for you.” She smirked, as I filled my coffee mug in the staff kitchen on my break.
“It’s my job, Sophie, assisting; you know that thing you pretend to do?”
Lafayette smirked over on the other side of the room, dipping his Kitkat into his tea.
“It just seems to me, you and Sookie have gotten a lot closer than she’s ever got with any of the women she hired before, wouldn’t know the reason for that would you?”
I stopped in my tracks, having had enough practice in avoiding Sophie, avoiding her pokes for gossip, and I spoke.
“Maybe since I’m not a woman she doesn’t have to worry about our PMS hitting in at the same time, or maybe since I’m not a total gossipmonger like some people around here, maybe that has something to do with it… OR!” I smiled, “maybe it’s because I do my job, you ever think of that?”
“Rumour has it, that’s not all you’ve been doing lately. A lot of people are saying you’re the reason there’s a smile on her otherwise frozen face…” She said as she took her mint tea, stuck her nose in the air and walked out of the kitchen.
“Fucking hell she’s a –“
“I know, I know.” Lafayette agreed shaking his head. “I have to tell you though, Eric. People are talking my friend, just so you’re aware, this office has a lot of eyes and a LOT of open ears. Be … careful.”
I got back to Sookie’s office to find her pacing, in the middle of a call to Paris about some design something or other; she smiled when I walked in. Okay, so maybe there were things to be suspicious about and maybe we weren’t being as stealthy as we thought we were, either. Since the party, we’d spent a good two weeks just spending all our time together, inside and outside of work. Sure, it was a dangerous thing considering how things started between us, but since the party, there had been no more talk of contracts, or cheques, the setup for her Grandmother, nothing. We just existed together, had dinner, went to the movies, took Emily out to the park and shopping. And sex. There was a lot of that going on too, something I would never complain about, particularly with Sookie as the partner in said sexing. Having been alone for so long, and being quite accepting of being alone. I’d gotten used to certain things, as much as they sucked, but I accepted them because I had a kid sister to raise with no other family around, and most women my age weren’t doing cartwheels about hooking up with a guy who had a kid. No matter how many of them liked to flirt at the park, it rarely turned into anything because I’m a over-analyzing, speed talking, cautious nerd. I didn’t feel one of those things though when I was with her, in my new big, warm and full bed with her next to me. We weren’t making big plans, no more than day to day, or evening to evening.I liked it, and I could tell that though she was struggling without a planned out month ahead of her. Sookie was getting used to letting the small stuff go and focus on something else. There were a few nights when we just hung out, all three of us, me finishing up work emails, her doing the same and then opening her sketch pad to doodle while I saw to Emily. I couldn’t say what went on in those books, but I’d caught a glimpse or two and her ‘doodling’ was what other people called art, in some form at least. If she was using it as a pastime or a possible career move, I had no idea. All I knew, to this untrained eye was it looked good, and it levelled her out of the mad world we inhabited during the day, and that was enough for now.
I closed the office door behind me, and handed her the files she’d asked for, she smiled again. I turned to leave, but she signalled that she’d be just a minute, so I waited.
“Ugh that was hell. I really hate this job sometimes. Babying people that have no business needing babied.” She rolled her eyes, but then walked to me, and kissed me.
It was little things like that, the unexpected, that I was getting so used to.
“Hi.” She said, “why the face?”
“I was born with it, not really much I can do there.”
“The grumpus, I mean.”
“Oh, that, well, it’s nothing. The files you asked for are in there, as well as last quarter’s overall rating and earnings, I wasn’t sure if you’d need it, but I figured –“
Another unexpected thing, her attitude towards me? Completely the opposite to what it was a few months prior. I knew of course it had been changing slowly as we got to know each other, but this Sookie was like a different person to the woman I first met in that office. Of course, since, we had had sex in that office, and now I couldn’t take a meeting in there with a straight face, and she knew it too, when she’d casually sit on her desk where I’d had her, she knew what it did to me. We had fun though, keeping things professional, or trying to at least. The privacy setting was forever on her office surround these days though.
“It’s just Sophie, saying that people were gossiping… about us.”
She rolled her eyes with a sigh.
“If Sophie would spend more time actually working than talking about other people who actually DO some work here, she might get something done one of these days, I really have to fire her.”
I didn’t disagree with that, I really never understood how she lasted so long, the girl did nothing and bitched about how busy she was all the time.
“I would just ignore it, Eric. I mean if I gave into everything I heard about myself around here, I’d be a drug addict, a whore, a plant from the CIA…”
I looked at her strangely then; she had to elaborate on that one.
“Gus in IT, he’s really fucking paranoid.”
Oh, yeah, I’d met Gus; he was a conspiracy theorist that’s for sure.
“I guess, it’s just… weird. I mean a few weeks ago most of those people wouldn’t look at me, didn’t know my name, and now, well, there’s a lot of staring.”
“Your six four Nordic genes are strolling around in tailored Armani, ever think that might be it?”
She shrugged, clearly disagreeing.
“You like my six four self strolling around in this though?”
It was a dark navy, three piece that she’d eyed a few times now.
She looked up from her laptop with a smirk on her face, she didn’t get to speak before Lafayette came in, in a panic.
“Sooks, the fabric samples for the third design you gave me this morning? Missing.”
“Is it in the archive?”
“No, you think I wouldn’t have looked there … nice suit Eric.” He nodded in my direction, before continuing his freak out. I smiled; trust Lafayette to notice the important things.
“I looked there honey cone, it’s not there, my skin is breaking out I can feel it with all this stress. This isn’t even my department you know, but no, Stefan wanted that material in that design for that shoot and couldn’t she have done with something else? No! And now, STRESS.”
“What stress, it’s a sample –“
He gasped, he actually gasped.
“Just a sample? Girl…have you hit your little head on something? That sample is part of a line that is a hundred years old, if the line is missing that damn cape thing your Grandmother is set on keeping in the fall line will not get made for the shoot for that crazy bitch in Belize!”
I assumed it was one of the custom couture pieces Adele still commissioned, but they were put together by the Team Stackhouse now- a-days as opposed to how I assumed she did it solo back in the day.
Sookie spent twenty minutes talking Lafayette down from the metaphorical edge, and worked through lunch with Pam, I took the man for a much needed coffee.
I didn’t see Sookie for the rest of the afternoon, work was beyond busy, there were people in and out of the office most of the afternoon, the floor was busier than usual too, all systems were a-go a week before print of any issue, but that day seemed more hectic for some reason. Maybe it was because I was dying to talk to her alone, or just see how she was. Instead I settled for texting Trey back about drinks the next night and finishing off my emails. The few times I caught a glimpse of her, she was in conversation, or on the phone, or looking over the mock-up for the millionth time. By the time I had to clock out, she was still in the office with Pam, and four of five others whose names and jobs escaped me. I accepted that she was just too busy, and packed my stuff and hit the road. It was a week until Thanksgiving, and I knew we had to discuss, and finalize if Emily and I were going to make the trip to Colerado with her or not, if at least on her Grandmother’s end, the game was still in play. There was a lot of things Sookie and I had to discuss, things that neither of us seemed to want to bring up. It was nice, uncomplicated when we didn’t bring our issues into every day life like we’d been avoiding for a little while, at least. We could just exsist like we had been doing, live in and out of our little bubble for a while longer.
But the realist in me knew there was no such thing as a bubble, and that the real world came knocking and if we didn’t answer, that bitch was just going to knock down the damn door anyway, so we might as well face things on our terms.
When I got home, Emily was waiting for me, she didn’t look like the happy go lucky kid I was raising, she looked sad. Amelia and Taylor made swift exits, though not before Ames warned me that Emily wasn’t ‘really herself today’, and that there was something wrong that she just wasn’t willing to give up to her. So, with caution, I proceeded.
“Hey, Sis?” I said, sitting down on the couch beside her, she had her colouring books and ink pens out, but they were cast aside as she was seemingly engrossed in her TV show.
“What you doing?” I asked in my friendliest brotherly voice, she still wasn’t looking up.
“I see that, you want to look at me when we’re talking?”
With that her big blue eyes met mine, she was sad, in fact she was even tearing up.
“Hey… hey… come on, what’s wrong?” I said, pulling her into my lap.
“I don’ wanna go back to school.”
She wasn’t even six and already issues with school? It was a pretty decent pre-school but there was a grade school attached, I wondered if it was older kids, surely five and six year olds weren’t bullies, were they?
Then I remembered my time at school.
“Tell me what happened?”
“They keep callin’ me Orphan Annie. From Annie? Because she’s an orphan.”
Well at least her logic was there, I remembered the film about the annoyingly chipper singing orphan girl.
“Aw, honey…” She hugged me tight and I hugged her back just as much.
“Miss Andrews said… she said… she said…” she sobbed, “that they wouldn’t do it again, and she made them stop but they did it again! Tommy Ryan… and his brother, they’re MEAN.”
I knew those kids, they were twins whose parents came from old Irish money, and the parents were solid, so why did they have such shitty fucking kids?
I held her as she cried, telling me again that all she wanted was our mom and dad to come and make it better for both of us. I hated watching her cry, I always knew, and sometimes I thought that she knew, instinctively that Mom would have done such a better job handling the crying that I did. She’d know all the right things to say and do, and the right songs to sing – in tune might I add, and she’d just be a Mom. I could never be that for her, no matter how much I tried to be her everything, it was just impossible.
So, I held her tight and we both calmed down enough to feel hungry, and I decided that pizza and ice-cream was in order to cheer her up. I couldn’t be mom or dad, but I could be her brother, and the best one ever at that. I vowed to go in the next day and talk to the teacher, nip that shit in the bud before it got out of hand, and I ordered while she took her nightly bath, then we got her into her snuglist pyjamas, before we pigged out on the sofa in front of Mulan.
“Is Sookie sleeping over again?” she asked, mid chew.
“I… I’m not sure tonight, she was still busy when I left.”
“Do…Do you mind that she stays over sometimes?”
“She’s nice, and funny, and she does the voices when she tells me a bedtime story, you know, like you do?”
I smiled, I had overheard a very amusing take on the Evil Queen from Snow White coming from her room the other night, and Sookie had a knack for accents it seemed, much to Emily’s pleasure.
“Well, good, I’m glad.”
“Is she your girlfriend now?” She said taking a big bite this time into her fries. For such a small kid, she sure could eat.
“What do you know about girlfriends?”
“I have a boyfriend.”
She nodded, and told me ‘this one’s’ name was Riley, and he was her art buddy and apparently they were getting married.
Oh, God. It was starting.
“Well, I don’t know if she is my girlfriend, but she’s my good friend, how’s that?”
“But she’s a girl… so she’s your girlfriend.”
Ah, if only it were as simple as five year old logic. I missed that special kind of reasoning.
We changed the subject after that, finishing up our unnecessarily large dinner, and then watching the rest of the movie, she gave into sleep with her head my chest before the credits rolled.
Like me, whenever she ate, she just wanted to sleep anyway, never mind it being well after her bed time. It was almost midnight by the time I got the last of my files for Sam sorted out and filed properly for him, checked the door, the windows, shut off all the lights and crawled into bed. I hated that my bed, my room and my apartment seemed that much emptier without Sookie around now, and she’d only been crashing for less than three weeks. How was that fair? That in such a short space of time she could just, take a place, and it would be hollow when she wasn’t there to fill it?
It was after one, when my phone started to buzz on my nightstand.
“Hey,” she whispered, “open your door, kay?”
Groggy, I stumbled out of bed as silently as I could to the front door, to see a tired, makeup free Sookie standing at my door, overnight bag in hand. She hugged me, wordlessly and I reciprocated with as much energy as I could muster. We didn’t say anything; as it seemed, there was nothing to be said. I simply took her bag, left it by the coat rack, and led her into my room, the only light coming from the bathroom that I left on in case needed to go during the night. Silently I crawled into my bed, and I watched as she stripped down to a vest top and her underwear and did the same. I became the big spoon as we cuddled that night, into one of the best night’s sleep I’d had in a long while. I was glad she came, I didn’t know why she did, and I found I didn’t really care, as long as she was there, I was good.
That thought scared me more than anything.
I was beyond tired by the time I left the office that night, it was the day before we went to print and more issues rose that I thought we could deal with. I had told Hoyt to bring me home, but when I got there, and fed Tina, looking around at it’s emptiness yet again, I just couldn’t stay, so I did what I had been doing for a couple of weeks now, on and off. I packed an over night bag, and headed to Eric’s. It was our day off the next day, and I was more than looking forward to a break from the office and the staff, and the pressure. I was worried about just showing up like I was planning to, but then I figured it wasn’t the first time I’d knocked on his door at an insane hour, and at least this time I was sober, and we were in a better, less messy place personally. I was happy when he answered the door, half asleep, hair all chaotic like it was, and all we would be doing was sleeping. It was all I had the energy for at the time anyway. I took comfort in his scent, in his touch and mostly in his cuddling skills, and I slept like a rock until the smell of coffee woke me up at almost eleven thirty the next morning.
I grabbed the grey terrycloth robe hanging on the back of his door and wrapped myself in it completely, immersing myself in his scent once again. It was something between soap, fabric softener, and that Calvin Klein fragrance I knew Lafayette gave him a few months back. Whatever it all was, it was comforting to me.
“Hey.” I said spotting him rinsing some dishes in the sink.
“Hey yourself, sleep okay?”
“Yeah, like a rock actually, thanks for not thinking I was crazy for just showing up last night.”
“It wouldn’t be the first time though, would it?”
“No, ashamedly it wouldn’t.” I said, helping myself to the coffee pot and a seat by the nook.
“I like it, you being here, so show up whenever you like…”
For some reason his open offer made me blush, I still had no idea why.
“Emily at school? You guys operate really quiet in the morning, usually the drop of a pin wakes me.”
“We’re not good morning people,” he chuckled helping himself to some coffee too, “so we hardly speak unless she’s being slow on purpose.”
“She likes it though, school?”
“She did, until these kids started picking on her, I had to go down there this morning and talk to the teacher about keeping an eye on things, it wasn’t fun.”
“Yeah, six year old bullies, can you believe it?”
“Exactly. They kept teasing her, about being an orphan.”
With that my mouth almost fell wide open, memories of the same types of teasing came flooding back, it wasn’t fun then and I imagined kids were a lot crueller now.
“Jesus… Poor Em’, I know that feeling, kids back home would do the same thing, when I transferred schools when Jason and I went to live with Gran? They would say the more horrible things, things I knew weren’t true, but they still hurt just the same… I hope she’s okay?”
He shrugged, “I hope she will be, we’re talking about it, and she says she’ll tell me if it happens again, beyond that, I don’t really know what to do for her.”
There wasn’t really much you could do, beyond let the teachers know and keep everyone aware that it’s happening in the hopes of stopping it, but in reality there was little to stop the real world for leaking in, even at that age.
“You talk in your sleep by the way.” He said with a smug smile, as we tucked into some croissants he’d picked up on his way back to the apartment from school that morning.
“No… I don’t.”
“How do you know, you’re asleep, and you do.”
“How… okay? What do I say?”
“I don’t know it’s weird, like ‘Eric is my King…”
That earned him a slap. He just laughed asshole.
“Weird shit like ‘no don’t put that there’ or ‘we need different pineapples’ and my personal favourite, ‘move the Monkey!’ it was very odd, but hilarious.”
Was I officially insane? It sounded like I was.
“Hmph. Well at least I don’t fart in my sleep like some people.”
He let out a loud hearty laugh at that.
“Oh really? You really think you don’t?”
“Of course I don’t, I have control over my body.”
“Oh, shut up.”
He continued to laugh.
“Sook, I hate to break it to you, but you fart just like everyone else, in between the sleep talking there is sleep farting, FACT.”
He was so annoying when he was smug, so I just glared.
“It’s okay, you’re human and it’s okay to know that. I won’t tell anyone.”
He’d better not had.
“I don’t fart in my sleep.” I mumbled but he just kissed me on my cheek.
“It’s not a deal breaker or anything so don’t worry about it. Sam said he once dated a girl who would thrash in her sleep, like he ended up with a black eye one time and a broken nose another time, so a little mumbling and gas, not that big of a deal.”
“But it’s gross…” I mumbled finishing off my coffee.
He just laughed again.
“Speaking of deals…” I began, and instantly wished I hadn’t. His face dropped and I knew right then I’d just burst our little bubble.
“I uh, about Thanksgiving, she wants to know from everyone this week…I really don’t even want to go there, I just don’t. But if I don’t then I’ll never hear the end of it. You don’t have to go, if you don’t want to, I mean I can just wing it –“
“No, I said I’d go, I mean, we do have to get her to sign over the contract to you, right? And what better way to do that, than to be there, and show her, you know the … thing, the… us, thing.”
Yeah it was really that awkward now.
“Eric I know we need to talk shit out, where we’re standing an –“
“Yeah, we should but it’s a conversation I sense neither of us wants to have.”
“I hate defining things. Well, I love defining things, but not people, not relationships. It’s like… a curse. Once you have ‘the talk’ everything that we’ve been experiencing suddenly becomes mandatory.” I said and it was his turn to nod as I continued.
“We’ve been having fun, right? I mean, just being and doing whatever we wanted for now? Why does that have to change? Why does there have to be a big-ass label slapped on it just yet?”
“There doesn’t.” He said and I believe him because I saw it in his eyes, we wanted to stay in the bubble and hopefully re-inflate it.
“Well, good, what um, what are you doing today?”
He sighed, “I have to run by Sam’s place and talk some numbers, they’re thinking of expanding or opening at a second business at another premises, his accountant sucks, I’ve been fixing some things for him, making it a little bit clearer. I’m hoping it won’t take long, I have to pick Emily up at two today.”
“You ever think of doing that full time?” I asked innocent and he shrugged.
“I won’t think about it unless you fire me…”
I smiled; there was no chance of that happening. Sophie on the other hand, she had a week to pull her shit together or she was out, fucking around with Jason or not, I wasn’t dealing with her ass any longer than I had to.
“I … I could pick her up, if you wanted. I mean, I just have to go back to my place for a little while, I could come back for her?”
He furrowed his brows at me, as if he wanted to ask something, probably why I was volunteering to babysit a kid when I didn’t have to.
“I … are you sure? You really don’t have to though, I mean don’t think that because we’re … that you’re having to go out of your –“
“Dude, when have you ever known me to offer to do something that I didn’t want to do?”
“Okay, sure. That’s great then it gives me time to explain a lot of shit to Sam that should have been explained to him a long time ago. He has assets in that business I don’t think even he knows he has.”
“That’s great, that you’re helping him then, right?”
“I hope so, he’s a good business man, he’s fair and decent, and that’s rare these days.”
Didn’t I know it? I didn’t want things to get too heavy, not right then, so I suggested something I knew would lighten the mood significantly.
“Do you mind if I take a shower?” I said sliding down from the stool, my bare feet hitting the cold floor.
“Yeah sure… there are fresh towels in the –“
“Do you mind joining me?”
His brows hit his hairline, his face in total surprise as he slowly lowered his coffee mug.
“Yes you mind? Oh … okay then…” I said faking a strop, as I rounded the corner; he was on my heels though.
“No, I mind…I mean I don’t mind! I mean… I…”
I put my finger to his lips, flustered Eric was indeed flustered, and it was adorable.
“Go turn the water on.”
I smiled as he just about tripped over himself on the way to the most relaxingly sexy shower I’d had possibly ever. Good Morning indeed.