“Eric, this is a disaster! The snow! Why! Now of all days, and those little disappointed girls…” I said to Eric as I paced, on hold using my cell to rant at some unsuspecting council worker.
“Yes, hello. I’ve been on hold for… Yes I know its freak weather; I can look out my window. What I can not do is leave my damn house! I have twelve six year olds here, all waiting to … Yes.” I just had to rolled my eyes.
“I know that it’s dangerous. I know that, don’t you Ma’am me! I am calm!”
With that Eric took the cell from my hand, and apologized into it, at the person on the other end.
“Sookie… you need to calm -”
“Do not tell me to calm down, that patronizing little bitch on the other end said the same and her tone was anything but genuine and caring about my state of calm!”
New York had in the last two hours been hit with one of the biggest freak snow storms in the last hundred years. With little to no warning, either. People were freaking, we were told to stay indoors, we just happened to be indoors with a lot of kids.
We were all at my apartment, Eric, Emily, I, and twelve of Emily’s school friends, all lovingly dropped off by their parents so we could take them to her planned birthday party. Of course now, nothing was going to plan as the traffic in the city ground to a halt, and we had no other way of hauling thirteen kids out in the damn snow.
“What are we going to do?” I paced my kitchen, my phone in hand. The kids were all happily watching a DVD, ready and waiting for the last half hour in their little coats and hats. There was a lot of giggling coming from the other room. From the looks on the TV the weather wasn’t about to give up anytime soon. We weren’t getting out of there, at least not in time for the party.
“We don’t really have a plan B, Sook.” Eric said, checking on the girls, and one lone little dude named Barry. According to Emily, Barry liked to play games with the girls more than the boys; Barry’s parents also put him in a bow tie. I felt sorry for Barry.
“There’s always a Plan B, Northman.”
With that I raided my fridge, we had cake for Emily we’d been saving as her family time cake, but would now come in super handy. There was a ton of candy in one of my cabinets, and I raided the freezer next. Then I remembered the ‘samples’ the store sent me over. Three boxes of candy that was just sitting in my office too. Skinny pizzas would do too, right?
Eric got where I was going and helped me raid my own kitchen, the food contents of which now laid on my nook.
“We could work with this.” Eric stated. “It’s not Dylan’s, but, they didn’t know where we were going…so will it really be that disappointing?”
“I hope not. Oh!” With that I hightailed it upstairs to my closet, not bothering to tell Eric where I was going. By the time I got back, he was already putting the plates together and had the pizzas in the oven, as well as some frozen fries and a bag of onion rings he found.
Huh, I’d forgot about those.
“What is that?” He asked me as I came through the door with twelve gift bags.
“Party Favors!” I answered as if it were the most normal thing in the world to be gifting samples from Burberry kids that were in my storage from last season’s feature.
“Sookie…” He looked at me as if I had two heads.
“Do you have a better idea? I don’t. And I’m running out of kid-friendly things in my closet. Unless you think Sarah’s mom wouldn’t mind her daughter coming home with last season’s Gucci that she can’t wear for another ten years…”
With that he took my hands and led me away from the mess, pulling me into a hug.
“You’re awesome you know that? Going to all this trouble for the kid. She might not realize it, but I do, and I want to say thank you.”
“But the weather screwed it up.” I said, muffled into his chest.
“Forget the weather; this is really, really, above and beyond. The other moms are going to be so jealous when they hear about this.” He chuckled kissing my forehead.
Was I an ‘other mom’ too now? That was a scary prospect.
“I’m not really a mom; I’m just the brother-guardian’s girlfriend that tries too hard at everything.”
“Your trying it is appreciated, don’t forget that.”
“I know, I just want to do right by her, you know? I mean, it’s crazy, last year if you’d told me where I would be today, physically and emotionally I would have had you arrested,” I laughed. “But now, it feels good.”
And it did feel good. Pam was transitioning well at work so far, the co-workers were suspect of everything, and rightfully so. But she was going to be amazing of that I had no doubts. I was in the middle of taking meetings and finding space, and materials, and people that I liked for the setup. And for the time being, the entire third floor of my apartment was my studio, and it was chaotic; but in the best way possible. I was making, and doing, and seeing results. I had twelve pieces ready for showing so far, and I had a sneaky sketchbook full of what I hoped would one day be part of my spin off kid’s line. I was full of hope and love.
The love part came courtesy of the guy entertaining a bunch of six year olds as we set up her makeshift party. It was a tough room, and Emily was clearly disappointed, but we hoped to make it work. We lived on hope, it seemed.
By the end of the evening, we had some very tired kids, all camped out in front of Sookie’s massive big screen watching movies, and still eating candy. All of them huddled up under about a dozen blankets and all of them more than ready for bed.
We’d spent the day entertaining them, and fending off texts from some very freaked out parents, all worried they wouldn’t get back to collect them in time. We tried our best to reassure them all, of course, and by 10pm, we finally got rid of the last kid that wasn’t ours.
Emily was zombified.
“Yes?” I answered her as I tucked her into bed; Sookie was standing by the door.
“Today was super fun, wasn’t it? Everyone loved Sookie’s house and how big it is and how her stuff is cool, and how fuzzy Tina is.”
Poor Tina, she’d spent the day in hiding for the most part.
“That’s great, Em.” Sookie commented, putting on her nightlight, a nightlight that wasn’t there last time we slept over. I noted a few additions to Sookie’s apartment since we’d been doing our thing. The nightlight, the steps to the ‘potty’, the pink child lock on the fridge. And that her wine rack was now moved from the floor to the high counter, out of reach. The cartoon bowls for breakfast were another thing, and the little Emily sized mirror in ‘her’ room, too. It amazed me how much she was willing to change in her life to try and fit us in.
“Eric, can we give Sookie her present now? It’s not her birthday, but it’s still mine and I think we need to give her it.”
I scowled at my crafty and grinning little sister.
“Please? I got lots and lots of gifts and she didn’t get any!”
“Aw, Em’ that’s okay, I can wait.” Sookie interjected with a smile, and a knowing look in my direction.
“Please, Eric?” She broke out the puppy dog eyes as she spoke. Causing me to give in and go to my bag in our bedroom. It was a gift Emily and I picked out for her, I assumed I’d get her something else, but for now, this was it.
When I got it from my bag and went back into the room, Sookie was up beside Emily in her bed, storybook open and ready. They both looked up as I entered, and I realized that Sookie wasn’t the only one shocked as to where she was today compared to a year ago, hell, six months ago. I was struck by the possible poignancy of the moment, and how we’d all evolved together.
Em’ held out her hands, clearly she wanted to be the one to give it to Sookie; I was too tired to argue the point either, so I handed it over.
“Happy-before-your-Birthday, Sookie!!” She said, suddenly finding a burst of energy, handing Sookie the little gift bag. “It’s on discount!!” Emily exclaimed with a smile as I wanted to just curl up into a ball and die.
“Emily!” I warned.
“What? We love things on sale!” We did, but we didn’t tell people their gifts were on sale!
I sighed feeling embarrassed, as Sookie just giggled, opening the wrapping.
“Nothing wrong with things on sale.” She reassured us as she tore into it.
“It wasn’t the reason why we got it. We picked it out without even knowing what the price was!” I justified and Sookie just grinned at me before she got the little box open. The Cartier Love bracelet was going to be my cheesy ass way of telling her for the first time how I really felt about her, at the perfect time, with flowers and drinks and maybe a sunset. But with us, as with everything, it didn’t go to plan. Instead we confessed our feelings in the middle of an argument, at a time of high tense and stress. Not unlike our everyday lives, I mused.
“Dude…” Sookie said as she looked at the box, and the gift. “Sale or no sale, its Cartier, so you can stop blushing Eric. She made it sound like it was Wal-Mart.” She giggled, “And you know what, had it been Wal-Mart? I think I’d have loved it just as much, because you both took time to pick this for me.”
“It says Love. See?” Emily, ever Miss Obvious, pointed out.
“I see that, and I love it,” Sookie exaggerated going in all goofy to give Em’ a kiss on the cheek.
“We picked it because we love you.” Emily stated, causing Sookie to press her lips together, a stunned look on her face. She was going to cry.
“You… do?” She looked at me, with a sad smile but then back to Emily. I wasn’t shocked that Emily loved Sookie, it was clear to me from day one she idolized her, but this was real for that kid. She was there now, and I was somewhat relieved. It was something I struggled with, letting people into Emily’s life, if they weren’t going to be real with her. I could handle rejection as well as any man, which, I guess wasn’t all that great. But, I was an adult and I could deal with the issues. She was a kid, still a baby in my eyes, even if she was all of six years old and a ‘big girl’ now.
“We do, don’t we Eric?”
Sookie’s eyes were on mine, searching for something I wasn’t sure of, but whatever it was, she got it, because the tears she’d been holding in fell down silently.
“You guys, this is the most adorable…thing… ever.” She said, sniffling a little, and pulling Emily in for a cuddle, and a second later, I was being pulled into their little group hug too. Our hug broke when I got upgraded to a kiss, something Emily found gross if her calls of ‘ew’ were anything to go by.
“This is a beautiful gift, you two. I love it.”
“Even if it was dis-“
“Goodnight, Emily.” I said throwing her blanket up over her face. She just laughed at me, pulling it down.
“Sookie I don’t want a story tonight. Okay?”
“You too tired?” Sookie asked and Emily nodded, snuggling down into her massive bed. It made her look even more munchkin-esq than usual. I held in my laughter.
We left her to drift off on her own, a first since we’d been staying over that week. And Sookie and I retreated to the living room, both of us spent.
“Twelve kids. How does that Duggar woman DO it?” Sookie asked throwing herself into the couch, where we had our wine and beer waiting for us, and a TiVo’s show too.
“I really don’t know. We need to never do that again.”
Sookie giggled. “It wasn’t so bad though. I got a present out of it.” She said admiring her shiny new addition, before she kissed me on the cheek. “Thank you, for this. I love it.”
“Even if it was on discount?”
“Of course. Just because I write about expensive shit and have some expensive stuff- “
“Woman, you forget, you’ve trained me. I now know how much your closet costs.”
“You have an advantage most men don’t, you have inside knowledge!” Her eyes widened comically as she snuggled to my side with her glass in hand.
“It meant a lot to me, what she said.”
“I know.” I nodded.
“I love her too, you know? I know we said it officially and we’ve been tiptoeing around it since. But it’s real, very real. Even if it felt too soon to say it then.”
“The birthday was meant to be the time. There were plans of sunsets and music… not arguments.”
“But that wouldn’t have been us, would it? Stress free? I don’t even understand that concept anymore.”
“We can do this, right? I mean, we can figure things out as we go along, right?” She asked, fingering her bracelet.
“I hope so?”
“I hope so too. I just, I know it’s cliché to say it… but I have never felt like this before. The way I feel when I’m with you, and her, I am free to just be me. That you’re strong enough to take what I throw at you and have you fire back just as much, I never thought I’d find a man strong enough for that before. Strong enough to catch me, mid free-fall.”
“Or someone crazy enough to jump with you, maybe?” I offered, and she grinned.
“I enjoy our cheese sometimes, you know? It’s nice. I work with so many people that think what we are doing is saving the planet, when in reality, we are just making it prettier.”
“I used to think that, but what you do…what you did, and what you will do with this business? It affects a lot of people. I’ve read the stats, Sookie.”
“Numbers nerd, I hate stats.”
I chuckled. “I’ve read where your stuff, your magazine, everything. Where it goes. Who reads it, who wears it? Who buys it? It touches a lot of people. You should know that.”
“Can you be my pep-talk guy, as well as my numbers guy?”
“I think that could be arranged.”
“Excellent. I have a meeting with the investors on Monday, getting the ball officially rolling an all that jazz.”
“Did you look at the space Sam suggested?”
“I did, it has a great feel, but it’s too small. Pam thinks she has the place. That’s also on the agenda this week.” She sighed, sipping her wine. “We just need to remember why we are in this. We need to remember this, right here. Because things are about to get even more hectic, and I just need to know that you’re there. That you get it.”
I thought I got it. I wanted to get it, and I would try to keep on ‘getting it’ as things would ultimately go crazy, and changes would be made.
“And same with you, too. Just because my shit is busy, doesn’t mean I’m not there for you either, you know? We need to balance things, and call the other out if we’re throwing it off.” She sounded firm in her words, she’d clearly given it a lot of thought.
“I don’t want to lose this for that.” She said, nodding towards the huge pile of samples that sat on one of her desks.
“I don’t want to lose you either.” I murmured into her temple, pulling her closer.
“So this is our deal then, we just…” She motioned with her hand out in the air. “We’ll just call each other out on our shit before it builds to the point of explosion. Even IF we think we can’t, or don’t want to hear it. We’d do it, with a certain amount of tact of course… for the greater good.”
“Someone has been watching my Marvel movies.”
“It’s not my fault you’re a full blown fan-boy!”
She pouted her lips at me, pushing my glasses up the bridge of my nose to make her point.
“Deal?” She asked the most simple of questions, as far as I was concerned.
“Deal,” I agreed, taking her glass from her and all but pinning her to the oversized couch we were currently lounging on.
“You and I make a lot of deals, don’t we, Ms Stackhouse?”
She smiled that naughty twinkle in her eye present and accounted for.
“I guess we do, Mr. Northman.”
“How about we make another one then?”
She giggled, knowing exactly where this was going.
“Oh, and what would that be then? You want more days off? A bigger office?” She wriggled her brows.
“My office…” I emphasized letting her know this wasn’t about the ‘office’ at all. “Is big enough, thank you.”
“Is that right? You sure about that?”
“Are you questioning my knowledge of … proportions? It is big enough.”
“Yes, of course it is.”
With that I got up, and yanked her with me.
“Right that’s It.”
“No Eric! No!” She screamed through giggles, as I yanked her up over my shoulder.
“No, that’s it. I think we need to show you real size, it’s only right that you learn such things.” I said laughing as she clinged for dear life onto me, laughing.
“No!! Put me down, oh I’m going to be sick! Eric!”
“Nope! I don’t buy that! You need to be shown, Sookie Stackhouse.” I said as I took the stairs, carefully, two at a time. She was laughing hard, maybe she was going to gag. I chuckled as we got to the top and to her bedroom. I unceremoniously discarded her on the bed, the landed with a thump and her hair askew.
“That wasn’t funny, Er-“
I didn’t give her time to finish, I just pinned her to the bed again. Hiking her dress up a little further to make my point, and kissing her senseless just to drive it home.
“You’re sure Emily is asleep?” She asked, still cautious.
“After the day she just had, we may have trouble getting her up in the morning. We’re good… Trust. Me.” I murmured punctuating my request with a kiss with each word.
“I do trust you. Not completely…”
I pulled back.
She grinned. The bitch.
“Well, you really can’t cook. I don’t trust you with chicken.”
“I’m learning.” I chuckled; as she just rolled her eyes at me.
“Uh. Huh.” She grinned leaning up to kiss me again. “But with the important things? You got it, Northman.”
I wonder if we could do this thing, she and I? If we were cut out at all, for the madness that was our lives, together? It wasn’t so much a doubt that I had, but more a curiosity. I wanted to see where the road took us, and how we’d handle it together if we went down that road together. As I looked into her eyes that night, it was like something in my brain clicked. Yeah, we could do this. We wanted it, we wanted each other enough to work for it.
“Good. You got it too, you know?”
“I know.” She stroked my face softly, tilting my chin down so she could kiss me again. “I love you.”
“I love you, too. Boss.”
A/N: And that’s all folks! I really loved writing this story, and getting to dive into this mad fashion world a little bit more and hopefully make it fun! Thank you all so much for reading here, and on my blog, and for every single comment and review. It’s been a blast!
Epilogue to follow!