Unbeta’d so be gentle with me! I’m off to Dublin again tomorrow for a concert and some girlie time so wouldn’t get a chance to get this up for a couple of days! Hope you like it and if you dooo tell me! Hell, even if you don’t! 😀
Rooting through the rails at the large sports section of the department store, I was pulling options for a five year old like she was going on the cover in a day. It was a bad habit, what can I say?
She shook her head, “I don’t like that.”
“I like that, it’s pink!”
“So, pink is key?”
“And I like the black with it.” She pointed to the kiddie version of a ski suit, the pink and black one was cute, I had to admit.
“Okay, cool. We don’t need ski’s, plenty of those at the house.” I said, more to myself than to her. I looked at what I had in my arms. Some cute hats, snow boots, and several ‘under her ski gear’ clothes. We lost Eric somewhere around Men’s wear, and that had been over an hour before. I was exhausted, and I really wanted a pedicure, and some food. I was due to meet Pam at seven for yoga, I didn’t want to show up cranky and with chipped polish.
“Hey Emily?” I asked as we left the till, my credit card getting quite the workout too.
“Hmm?” She responded, looking up at me with a big smile on her face as I handed her the smallest little brown bag.
“Want to get your nails done?”
Her eyes expanded.
“Something light, nothing crazy.” I clarified and hoped that Eric wouldn’t mind.
“YES! Eric never lets me pain my nails, he says he doesn’t get it and it makes a mess. He doesn‘t get it.”
I smiled, she was easily excited that kid, and sassy, extremely sassy.
We found Eric about ten minutes later, and when I brought up my need for hand and feet treatments he looked at me funny.
“You can get one too, if you’d like.” I said, as I dialed the number of the Jin Soon place not far from where we where. I had three of us booked in before we got out of the large store. I would never tire of my name opening up magically already booked appointments, or tables, or unavailable clothes.
“I’m not getting a pedicure, Sookie.” he protested as he grabbed our bags and Emily’s other hand as she walked between us.
“And just why not? It’s relaxing.”
“It’s a pedicure, its’ for women!”
“Because women are the only people with feet?”
Emily giggled glancing from me, to Eric as we walked in the snow covered streets of New York City.
“So, how is it just for women? I’m not suggesting she paint your toes bright red…” I looked to Emily and winked. “I mean I think with your skin tone a nice fuchsia pink would be very flattering.”
Emily irrupted into giggles again, she was just too cute, Eric just rolled his eyes.
“You don’t have to get polish on, trust me, it’s so relaxing, and we may need to be relaxed for this coming Thanksgiving.” I sighed. By the time we got to the high end, very Zen spa like business, my feet were aching.
“ I don’t know why you insist on wearing six inch boots when shopping, it’s insane.” Eric commented as we each took our seats next to each other, Emily in the middle again.
“Yes, yes, I’ve heard it all before.”
“So then why?” He looked puzzled.
“Well, look how cute they are? And besides I like pretending to be tall, it gives me better posture…and they were expensive so I need to justify paying a thous-”
His eyes widened, so I stopped.
“You know, paying a certain amount of money, for them.” I laughed ignoring his judgement. Men, they just would never understand.
We decided that Emily would get her toes and fingers done in a pale pink, very light and not too extravagant, she also wanted some glitter, which Eric agreed on. Eric was ankle deep in his foot spa, his eyes closed, head back on the head rest. I felt smug as anything.
“Told you it’s amazing.” I quipped. He just hummed. And I laughed, I kind of loved being right.
I didn’t get a break, of course not. My phone was, as always, red hot. Emails, texts, and yet more missed calls. I would be glad that once I got on the plane my phone would be off from Thursday morning until Sunday, hopefully. Pam was coming with us, and for that I was thankful, she would and could be counted on to take the heat off any situation with a remark or a classy change of subject, or, you know, just down right offend everyone and have the heat on her, she seemed to thrive in heated situations. I told Eric and he was fine with it, which I was glad about since he and Pam hadn’t really spent any time together outside of work and when they did, apparently, it wasn’t always pleasant. By the time we were done we were long over-due to be fed and Eric insisted on it being his turn. I couldn’t really argue with him as we took our seats at Dos Caminos and we began to go over our plans for the weekend, that is if the world didn’t end mid-trip.
We planned to ski, a lot, Eric knew how and he’d wanted to teach Emily. She wanted a snow board because ‘snow boards were cool’, where as the thing I was most looking forward to was the steam room on the third floor of the house my Gran owned out there. I hadn’t been there in years, Thanksgiving hadn’t been a real priority for me in a very long time. I looked at Eric and Emily, and how easily they fell into place with each other, and I realized that family – my family hadn’t been a priority much lately either.
“Are you instagraming your food?” I asked as he hovered his phone over his untouched plate as our food arrived. He just smirked.
“You are such a hipster.” I commented as I sipped my delicious blood orange margarita.
“Hey, you buy thousand dollar shoes, I have an addiction to photographing my food and making it look like an 80s photo, we all have our things.” He smiled, a deliberately dorky smile before he tucked into his Mexican plate. He then aimed his phone at Emily, who’s face was covered in the sauce from her enchilada, and it was right up to her nose. One thing about the Northman‘s, they liked their grub that’s for sure. I blinked before I knew it his phone was aimed at me.
“Gotcha.” He grinned.
“Lemme see it.” I demanded.
“Nope.” With that he tucked the phone away, leaving me clueless as to how dopey I looked on his Hipster-gram.
The server came after we’d finished up, dropped the bill that I didn’t have time to grab, but not before she made a comment.
“Was everything okay for you guys tonight?”
“It was great thank you.” Eric said, and I nodded in agreement, it really was great, I was stuffed.
“You guys are such a cute family. Thanks.” She said as she took Eric’s card, leaving us both a little red-faced.
He just laughed, awkwardly.
“So, nine am tomorrow morning?” I said changing the subject and hopefully saving us any embarrassment.
“Yep, nine. Do we come to you or -”
“Nah, I’ll come for you guys, one of me, two of you, makes the most sense. Pack warm.” I smiled as we got outside, the street lamps bathing the sidewalks in a warm orange hue, despite the bitter November cold.
“Sookie are you coming home with us?” Emily asked tugging at my hand, and I wanted to say yes, I wanted to go there and cuddle up with Eric like I had done the night before. But, I was approaching clinger territory, and I didn’t want that, I didn’t want to be that girl. We got two cabs, which in itself was a bit of a miracle, and Emily ran to hug me, squeezing me tight before she hopped into the waiting cab, leaving Eric and I to say our somewhat awkward goodnight.
“We’re weird, let’s just admit that so I can kiss you good night.” He said, blushing as he slid his fingers to my cheek and pulled me to him, planting a very sweet, chaste kiss on my mouth. It made me smile.
“So very weird.”
“9am.” I muttered, pulling him back for a kiss of my own before we departed for the night.
Colorado, here we come.
“At least three pairs, Emily.”
“But, I don’t neeed underwear.”
“You do, what if you fall on your little butt and get soaked, you’re going to need spares, so actually pack four.”
She tutted to herself as I walked past her room.
“And four pairs of socks, and the new ones Sookie bought you too. Why she felt the need to buy you socks I do not know, you have like a million pair.”
“I hate socks. I hate packing.”
“Yeah, life is tough, such a hard life you have.” I said throwing some socks into her tiny suitcase while she tutted at me again. Yeah, we really weren’t morning people, Em’ and I, and being up at almost before dawn just wasn’t the ideal.
I was told any sports gear I needed would be provided, since her Grandmother usually had a lot of guests, and there was more than enough to fit everyone if we went to the resort, what I was told was a stone throw from her home. Nice for some, I thought.
I packed a smart casual suit, and I rolled my eyes at myself for even knowing now the difference in the suits I had in my closet. I knew I’d need something smart for dinner, given who I was dining with, it wouldn’t be like any other year where Emily and I rolled up with our store bought pies, in jeans and t-shirts. I wasn’t so much looking forward to being in the vicinity of Claudine and her claws, but I did hope that it put an end to whatever turmoil that was swirling between Sookie and her Grandmother. I hoped that it got resolved, one way or another, and that it would leave time for she and I to really address the status of our confusing relationship.
True to her word, Sookie – or I should say Hoyt, pulled up outside our building at eight fifty-five, with a text three minutes later, from Sookie saying she was here. Getting a now hyper excited Emily to the car with all our stuff was a struggle, but seeing Sookie clutching her coffee for dear life while her eyes were covered in what I assumed to be highly expensive sunglasses.
“I may have thought I needed a little Dutch courage, and with Pam’s encouragement, we may have drunk enough for Denmark itself.”
I laughed, nice to see her letting loose, even if she was paying for it now.
“Pam is meeting us at the plane…”
Thirty minutes later, we drove up to the airstrip, and apparently we were flying in Stackhouse Style, private Jet style.
“Pretty swanky, Sook,” I commented as we all boarded and were greeted with champagne and orange juice, and the smell of what promised to be an amazing breakfast. Pam was already seated, her head back, sunglasses on.
“Northman, please tell me you aren’t one of those happy, shiny, morning people.”
“I’m not.” I answered her, with a smirk I was sure she couldn’t see.
“Hi PAM!” Emily said, hopping into the seat next to her, waiting patiently to be acknowledged.
Pam sighed, and sat up, tilting her glasses down just enough to look at Emily. Annoyed wasn’t even the word.
“Hello, Emily. Are YOU a shiny, happy, morning person?”
“I don’t know what that means, I’m not made of silver so I guess I’m not shiny.”
“You’re a smart-ass kid you know that.”
She just giggled before taking a sip of her orange juice in a very lady like manner.
“Yes?” She answered taking her seat next to me, having had a chat with the Captain and the staff before hand, they were shutting up the doors and what not.
“Where are all the other people?”
With that Sookie laughed, putting down her coffee, and her juice.
“There are no other people, not on this plane ride. It’s my …business that owns the plane, so we get to fly alone!”
“Really?! That’s cooool!” She was practically bouncing. “Eric can I have the window seat? I wanna look!” I rolled my eyes, but of course I indulged her, the last time she’d flown she was a baby, and first time on a private Jet was a big deal. Sookie scooted out, let Em’ in and I took Em’ seat next to Pam, facing Sookie.
“We just have to sit tight for take off, then you can walk around until they say otherwise. There’s a bedroom back there, bath, shower, and the staff serve breakfast about ten minutes after take off.
Emily conked out about a half hour into the flight, and Pam had retreated to the bedroom to sleep, apparently she and Sookie really had hit the sauce after yoga then night before, I couldn’t help but find it funny how they were off relaxing and purifying their bodies, only to screw that all to hell and get sloshed. Sookie and I had gone over what we were going to do, say, not say, it was at that point Pam muttered something about ‘kidding yourselves’ and went into the next room to lay down. Emily was secured on the large cream leather couch, across from which was where I was texting the office and fielding calls, as Sookie and I picked at the array of food in front of us.
“Gran puts on a massive feast, last time I went I gained six pounds in as many days” she smiled.
“It is, I mean, knife in the back sessions aside, we used to be a really normal family. It’s only since college that things got… tense, I guess? Ever since I started at the business full time anyway.” She exhaled and looked out the window.
“And you think you taking over, will only make that worse?”
She looked at me, and for the first time I noticed how sad her eyes looked, this pained her.
“Yes,” she sighed, “I don’t want it to, and with Jason, of all people I hope that it doesn’t, with Gran, I just don’t know if she can ever truly let go. And as far as Claudine is concerned, well, fuck her and her concerns.”
“It’ll be okay, Sook. You know? I’ve got your back, so does Pam, and more terrifyingly, so does Emily. You’re not alone in this, so whatever it is that’s swirling around in that head of yours, getting you drunk, and freaking you out. It’ll be okay.”
She looked at me then, surprise in her eyes, as if she hadn’t realized that I had seen how distracted she was, that I hadn’t noticed how freaked out she was when in reality she should have been walking on a cloud. Going to her Grandmother’s, boyfriend in toe, completing the inane task set by said Grandmother for the job of her life. Something had changed in the weeks since we had signed those contracts, and I knew it wasn’t just our intimacy levels, our relationship, it was her. Something in her changed and I was beyond curious to find out exactly what that was, and why, and just what exactly this change meant. I guess I was about to find out, one way or another.