Chapter 36: Chapter 36
The shoot was utter hell. In the Mexican dessert for three and a half weeks, then back to LA for another four. The heat, the sand, the spiders. Not to mention the sometimes seventeen-hour days… but I loved it. Flat out, completely loved it. It had taken me seven months to secure the role. They’d been unsure that I could do it, since it required me to change my body from ‘soft and achievable’ to … well, I was bordering on Lara Croft material in the middle of the shoot. Training six days a week for two hours, drastically changed diet, and suddenly I could feel muscles in places I wasn’t sure women were meant to have them. Either way, the shoot was a life changer, that’s for sure. In more ways than one. There were days I’d spent in tears for hours, others where I was fighting with my co-stars – in character of course, and others I had long monologues to memorize. That shoot is also where I met Paul. Paul Stead was my director, and for the second time in my life I fell into a Hollywood cliché – only this time I was the actor and someone else was the director. It couldn’t have been helped though, he was charming and sweet, and seemingly he understood my character better than I did, this was his baby… and if anyone understood the need to do a project just right, it was me. We didn’t hook up right away, but we did hook up. And for a long time, it was good, really good. Until he felt the need to change the game, showing me that as much as he claimed to know me, he didn’t really know me at all. Had he known me, there is no way he would have bought an engagement ring, nor would he have asked me that question. I didn’t want to be someone’s wife, I didn’t want or need a husband, or that little piece of paper, or an expensive wedding to tell me that I loved someone and that we were in it for the long haul. Paul and I lasted just a little over a year, and when he asked and I didn’t give him the answer he wanted, well he had every right to break it off. I understood it, I had loved him, but not enough to change my personality for him and his needs.
I just needed someone who understood me, what I wanted, and hopefully wanted the same things.
Why the hell was that so hard to find?
Speaking of finding someone, my dad finally married Maria. It was a small, intimate ceremony, two weeks after we came back from Sweden. William’s death, as well as his own illness had prompted my father to take charge of his life. Grabbing it by the balls, I believe was his expression. So there we were, on a beach in the south of France; Ames and I, my father’s manager and long time friend John, and Maria’s sister Sally. Watching them take their vows and finally show the world that they loved each other. Amelia leaked a photo to People magazine, and the look of both mortification and surprise on Maria’s face when she saw herself in the magazine was just too darn cute. Ames and I made sure to send them off on an extended and long over due honeymoon. Maria wanted to see the world, so, we made sure of it.
The day that I walked away from Eric by the dock forced me to really look at myself. At the time, I was just around the corner from hitting thirty, my silly and experimental twenties were slipping away from me by the day, I had to make a choice. I choose to leave him there, on the verge of rebuilding his life for the second time, while I realized that I was on the same verge, rebuilding my life for the millionth time. And I knew I couldn’t do that, not completely, until I vanquished my demons, or at the very least shut those fuckers up.
So, straight from Stockholm, instead of heading home to Paris, I flew to New York. I’d gotten a short and sweet email from my mother, informing me that she’d returned from her travels and was now living in a little place in So-ho.
She and I had business to attend to.
I pulled up in the cab just outside her apartment building. I inhaled and exhaled several big breaths before I got to her penthouse level door. I felt like I was about to pass out, but I had to do this.
“SOOKIE! Oh, sweetheart! You look wonderful… why on earth did you cut off your hair?” she said mid-hug, right away, a disapproving look on her face.
“Because I’m almost thirty, and I needed a change.”
“Ew, don’t say that honey, it makes me feel old. Come in, come in. I have presents!”
My mother was a tall woman, long blonde hair almost to her waist – a hippy through and through. Eric once told me that she reminded him of an older Phoebe Buffay from Friends. I can’t say I disagreed.
“I was so sorry to hear about you and Eric… and of course your father being ill. How is he?”
Not my father.
“Actually mom, dad is the reason I’m here.”
“He’s not ill again, is he?”
“No, no, he’s not. Thank God.”
She nodded, handing me some kind of weird lemon tea.
“Did you know…”
“That he was ill? Of – ”
“No. That he’s not my biological father?”
Her hand shook, shaking her tea cup slightly.
“You heard me, mom. Did you know, that dad isn’t my … isn’t my dad?”
“How did you -”
“I took a test, in case it turned out he needed bone marrow, which, thankfully he didn’t, but the tests came back that I wasn’t related to his DNA at all, meaning I’m not his daughter. And you knew… you knew all these years.”
She put down her teacup, and paced to her window, “Sookie it was a very long time ago -”
“Does he know?”
She shook her head. “No, he doesn’t know. I take it this means you haven’t told him?”
“No. I wasn’t sure if he knew or not, and if he didn’t, which he doesn’t, then, I don’t want to upset him like that.”
“Sookie, Earl was… is a good man. And I loved him, I did. I loved him for a very long time.”
“Obviously not enough if you were off screwing another guy.”
“What? Tell me mom, tell me what happened!”
“I had met someone, he wasn’t in the business and he and I… well… I don’t need to explain what happened, I’m sure.”
“Was it an affair?”
She shook her head.
“No, it was a fling, just a silly weekend … eight weeks later the little test told me that I was expecting you. I didn’t know if you were his, or if you were Earls.”
“That’s … so…”
“Sookie, I am sorry, I always just assumed you were Earls, you took to him more than you ever did to me, even as a baby.”
“What was his name?”
She sighed, “Does it matter?”
“Yes! YES it matters, mom, Jesus. How the hell do you think it feels, my whole life, everything about it has been a lie! And that’s because of you!”
Angry, childish, irrational. Perhaps I was all of these things, but in the moment of anger not a fuck did I give.
“Earl is your father, Sookie, no matter what the stupid test says! He’s raised you since the minute you were born, that other man, he was a mistake!”
I knew that, I really did. But I still needed to know.
“Fintan, Fintan Brigant. He was a construction worker, from Louisiana.”
How different my life could have been…
“And… did you see him, after you found out you were pregnant?”
“No. As far as I was concerned it was a mistake and I wanted to work on my marriage… which I did, for long time after that. But as I’m sure you know, it doesn’t matter how much you love someone, sometimes life gets in the way and shoves you apart. Earl and I… I loved him, but I guess I didn’t love him enough to keep living that lie.”
“Do you know where he is now?”
“You want to see him? Sookie, that is a can of worms all on it’s own…”
“I know that, but I’m just asking…. Do you know anything about him now?”
“No, I don’t. I knew that back then he was single and in the city for work, he’d lost his mother at a young age, and never felt that marriage was something that he needed.” Oh, so that’s who I got it from. Christ. “Other than that… he liked a beer, and he had blonde hair. It was a fling Sook, it’s not like I learned his family history.”
“Well maybe you should have,” I said, bitterly.
“Sweetheart, I’m sure you haven’t had meaningful conversations with every man you’ve been with. Sometimes it just doesn’t work that way.”
No, sometimes I guess it didn’t work that way.
“Are you going to tell your dad?” she asked, sipping her tea again. Her long flowing maxi dress swishing as she took her seat again.
“I’ve thought about it, a lot. And I just don’t know…”
I ran my fingers through my hair in frustration, it had been the subject of eternal debate inside my head. Did I tell him, or did I not. Never mind ‘to be or not to be’ – THIS was the question.
“Before, I didn’t know if he knew or not… now that I know that he’s been as clueless as me all these years… well it makes it even harder.”
“I am sorry, Sookie. And more than anything, I wish Earl was your father. I really do.”
“Yeah… me too,” I said, regretfully.
I stood and I looked into her eyes, I wanted in that moment nothing more than to show her how much I loved her, and to see it in her eyes, to see that she loved and trusted me as much as I loved and trusted her. Our love, it was the timeless kind of love, the love that no man or woman or God could tear apart. I was telling her this, all of this, with my eyes.
She on the other hand, was just swooning, and it was really distracting.
“Cut,” I said for the fourth time that morning. “Harriet, I need you to… emote more okay? Remember the class we had a few weeks ago, and Gerry was on stage with Lisa? The look on her face while he was talking to her?”
She nodded, but still seemed clueless.
“Well, I need you to do that. Is it me? Is working with me not working for you?” I’d always tried to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible.
She nodded, blushing. “No, I like working with you.” Right, Harriet was the one with the crush, Lisa was the lesbian. I was having trouble keeping everyone’s names straight.
I had started independent acting classes shortly after my father died. It didn’t take long for word to get out, and soon enough a rep from the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts had offered me a place on their payroll if I’d teach classes four times a week, as well as the odd film class here and there. Apparently it was… inspiring. I was more than happy to take part. It wasn’t like I needed the money, but I did need something to keep me busy. I didn’t do ‘nothing.’ Doing ‘nothing’ gave me far too much time to think. So when I wasn’t working, I was working on the house, and on the stables.
Myself and Dad’s long term manager of the horse farm – Gus, had torn down three of the smaller stables that had been there for years, and built four larger ones in their place. It had taken us all of that previous summer, but it was an amazing thing for me to be able to do and see every morning. It was an achievement. It had also helped to give a body that the gym had never given me.
All in all I was in a good place. I normally finished worked right as Lena was getting out of school, so Sara was able to work and I’d do my thing for her and pick the kid up from school and make sure she got good food (with the occasional McDonalds because I was an awesome big brother) and made sure she was taken care of.
Things with Ava fizzled out pretty quickly, after she saw what a wreck I was post-Sookie, I think she knew it was safer for her emotionally if we just cut and ran. I still saw her around town from time to time, and it was good that I had a good friend that I could call if I needed to. She introduced me to her friends and some of them had stuck and some hadn’t, either way I guess it was all part of rebuilding a life. And for the first time since I was a teenager, I was single, really single and while it was lonely at times, I think it needed.
Piece by piece I was getting there.
That first year was a busy one, but soon things settled a little bit, I got into a routine for the first time in my life, and soon the seasons were changing again and before I knew it, two years had passed. I still kept in contact with Claudine, Amelia, and Earl… not so much with Sookie. It was too hard, and really there was so much that needed to be said, and not the kind of thing you can over look to send some funny emails, or act as casual as you want but really you’re dying inside. I couldn’t do that, and if she, in any way, felt similar I knew she wouldn’t do that either. I still kept up with her though, through Earl mostly. We’d email every couple of weeks, catching up on everything that was going on. I knew he still grieved for my father, just as we all did, but it did get a tiny bit better as time went on. I guess they know what they’re talking about with the various stages of grief. For some it may take longer than others, but I guess we all hit the stages eventually. Grieving for the death of a relationship was something similar, and my acceptance came when I read that Sookie was seeing a director, this indie guy that was making his crossover into bigger studio films, they’d been seeing each other on the down low for a few months apparently, before they were papped on a beach in California. He looked ridiculous. Or maybe he looked normal, I wasn’t sure, all I knew was that I disliked the look of him instantly. It might have had something to do with the fact that he was touching her, though. Yeah that might have been it. She looked good, she looked happy, and I guess that was the main thing for her then. When Earl had told me they had broken up, I hated that part of me was still pleased, I was pleased because I still felt – no matter how much I tried to push it down I still felt that she belonged with me, and I with her.
Probably, but the more I thought about her, and the more I actually allowed myself to think about her – unlike how’d I’d willed myself to almost forget her most of the time, I realized that we weren’t really done. We had things, lots of things left to say. At the very least I knew I had things to say, and that I wouldn’t feel that closure one way or another until I said them. If I got every little thing off my chest, maybe then I could move on from her, maybe that’s what was keeping me from not only wanting someone else, but someone else of quality wanting me.
Either way, when I found out that she had been nominated for an Oscar, my heart soared for her. I knew how hard she’d worked to earn those stripes and that it would have meant the world to her, not only to maybe win, but just to be included with the women that she was included with. Then to find out that Earl was the recipient of the lifetime achievement award on the same night his daughter is nominated, well, it was a doubly happy occasion and I decided that I’d accept one of the invites that I’d been given. Yes, they kept inviting me to the award shows, even though I’d ‘quit’. I guess I still mattered as an ex nominee?
All I did know was that I had two tickets. So I decided to give Sara a taste of Hollywood and congratulate Earl in person. And if I just happened to be congratulating Sookie at the same time? So be it.
I was a nervous wreck. I’d not eaten all day because I was so nervous. Pam, Jessica and Amelia were all standing in my bedroom looking at me as my tailor made some last minute adjustments to my gown.
“You’re not going to throw up again, are you? You can’t throw up in Elie Saab,” Jessica said, and Pam couldn’t have looked more proud.
“Our little country bumpkin has finally learned something about fashion? Well, wonders will never cease.”
Jessica stood with a smug look on her face, patting her very pregnant belly. She was due in three months and it was a flutter of excitement amongst us all. Even Pam, who pretended not to care but really was chomping at the bit to shop for baby Fortenberry.
“No, I’m good. DAD YOU READY?”
“God, tone it down Sookie,” Pam said with a flick of her blackberry as she primped my dress again.
The hotel was abuzz with excitement; hair people, makeup people, primping people, all fluttering about in a last minute panic. I checked my hair, checked my makeup, and we were good. I had one dress for the red carpet, and another for the ceremony. Apparently since I was presenting my dad his award, I had to have more than one outfit option. Personally, it seemed like a lot of fuss, but I was having fun with it. Both were Elie Saab, one a nude, slinky number for the red carpet, embellished with diamonds and pearls, it was simply stunning. But the other I loved even more, and it was a floor length red number that fit me like a second skin. I felt like a princess, and I smiled as I saw my father coming through the doors in his very flattering tux. Maria was soon to follow in her vintage Chanel dress. Not to toot our own horn, but we all looked damn good.
“You ready old man?” I asked, and we were off.
I hated red carpets, I felt awkward and odd just standing there, posing my heart out. This time was less horrible though since I had my dad as my date. Maria stood off to the side after a few shots and pulled out her own little Canon from her purse. She was too adorable as she started snapping away with the press. The ceremony was as they all are, long, dull, and boring, with a few reprieves here and there. But before I knew it, I had to take the stage and present my father with the Lifetime Achievement award for his contributions to the industry over the years in acting, writing and directing. I was immensely proud. As I took the stage, the lights and the teleprompter had my sole attention, until I swore I saw… Eric?
No, I thought, that was impossible. This guy did look like him though, an awful lot like him. Buffer, with more scruff, and shorter hair than I remembered him having last time.
No, it couldn’t have been Eric.
I gave my introduction to my father, my daddy, and my role model. I tried not to cry as I did so, knowing what I knew it just made it all that more poignant. It really didn’t matter what any old test said, a lifetime of love proved to me that he was my father. DNA was over rated anyway.
Self deprecating and bashful, he gave his thank yous and got his standing ovation. Walking off stage, he hugged me and hugged me some more.
“Thank you, Daughter,” he said with a smile and cuddle was given again.
“You’re welcome, Dad,” I said, and as I went to pull away he looked me in the eye again, his eyes swirling with emotion.
“You know, don’t you?” he said, and for some reason I knew then exactly what he mean.
I nodded. And he nodded as if he just had something confirmed in what he suspected.
“I know… and I know that no matter what, you’re my dad.”
He smiled then, relieved.
“And you, my love, are my daughter,” he said, kissing me on the forehead. “We’ll talk, later.”
We would. And I would find out that when I was twelve and took ill, blood tests that had came back had raised his suspicions. With my mothers and his blood type, my blood type was impossible. It was then he knew, but never questioned it. I was his kid, end of story. If it was possible, after hearing him say those things that day, I loved him even more.
My category came up, and I felt my stomach flip and flop. I wasn’t going to win, I wasn’t going to win… I wasn’t going to – oh, my, Jesus. I’d won.
I couldn’t tell you how in the hell I got on that stage, or what I said, or what the reaction was. All I knew was that I walked off that stage with a very heavy statue in my hands.
There was a crowd of people, all hugging me, all wanting to congratulate me, flashbulbs, hugs, more flashes. And suddenly he was there.
Eric. Definitely Eric.
His hands in his pocket, he stood off to the side, a knowing smile on his handsome face. And suddenly he was in front of me, he took my hand, leaned in and kissed both my cheeks before he whispered a low but audible “Congratulations, Stackhouse.”
“What -” I began, but was spun around by Amy, doing her PR job to the best of her ability and sending me in the direction of the flashbulbs again. I turned back a few minutes later, and he was gone. Just as quickly as he appeared. I was beginning to think I’d imagined it. There was little to no time to dwell on it though, the rest of that night was a total ride and a half. Tons of press all vying for my attentions, then the parties and suddenly my little Oscar man had to be taken to be engraved and I missed him; he was my security blanket of sorts. If anyone went too personal I could offer him, and the subject would change as they all admired the little naked gold man. Two parties with my director ex, his new girl, the rest of the cast, and what seemed like a million questions and photographs later, I stripped out of my dress and fell into bed. I’d just won a damn Oscar. How the hell did that happen? I asked myself, over and over, before I shut off my light at four am. I texted Pam – the oracle of all things gossip.
“I swore I saw Eric tonight, please tell me I’m not crazy…?”
Ten minutes later I got a reply, “You are crazy but not because of that, he’s in town. With a brunette and a kid, what’s up with that?”
My heart stopped, but then started again. Logic told me it was Sara.
“Where?” I replied, and it took her twenty minutes to work her ninja magic at almost five am, but I got my reply.
“Marmont, bungalow out back. Now, sleep, stalker x.”
Sleep? Sleep was for the weak. Though, apparently, I was weak, because despite my racing mind and thoughts of my ex, I passed out a short time later.
Showered and dressed in my finest stalking gear that consisted of my black skinniest jeans, my black cashmere sweater, and my black boots – was I a stalker, or a night burglar? Eh, who cares? I whipped my hair up into a bun and off I went, avoiding the confused looks from both Dad and Maria.
“But we were going to go out for a celebratory breakfast!” my dad called to me as I got into the car.
“We can do that at dinner, or lunch, or both. I have somewhere to be,” I stated, pulling out of the driveway and onto the road.
By the time I pulled into the Marmont parking valet I was a nervous wreck. What exactly was I doing here? I called into the desk using the alias that he always used while staying there, just to see if that’s how he still rolled.
He did, and the lady behind the desk telephoned him to confirm that he was expecting me. Whatever he said, she smiled and told me to go on out. The sense of déjà vu that I had from our very first meeting here was a little unreal. I walked out to the same bungalow as last time, and I met him, this time not laying by the pool, but sitting in one of the seats, with a cup of coffee and a newspaper. Even though it was winter it was still a little warm, a hell of a lot warmer than Sweden I was guessing.
“So, you just pop in, freak me out, and pop back out again, huh,” I said, in lieu of a hello. He smiled and looked up through the top of his sunglasses.
“Yeah I figured you’d be so disorientated that it would screw with you.”
I raised my brow, waiting for him to get serious.
“I’m kidding, no, I wanted to…” he coughed, standing as I got closer and offering me the other seat. I took it. “I wanted to be there, if you won, and you did, and I wanted to see that in person. And as well as that, for your dad. It was a pretty big night for you all…” he shrugged.
“And you just happened to fly across the Atlantic, just… for that.”
“Yep,” he smiled, big and bright, hiding something so completely. He forgot that I was his human bullshit detector.
“Is that right?”
“Mmhmm, well that, and Sara had never been to California since Lena was born, so… she wanted to come to shop and get a slight tan since it’s minus twenty with us right now.”
“Why did you just take off like that, I swear I thought I was hallucinating,” I said, allowing him to pour me some coffee. He just laughed, and it really felt in that second as if no time had passed at all, that we were as we always had been.
“Sorry, but you did seem to have your hands full. I didn’t want to be … in the way.”
“You wouldn’t have been in the way, not at all,” I admitted.
“Well, I’m glad to hear that, still, congratulations. He’s a cute little naked man,” he said, raising his brow. “Is he in your purse? Personally I think you should just carry him around, and bring him out when the conversation gets stale.”
I laughed, and then took a large gulp of my coffee.
“Eric, is that really… really the only reason why you came?”
He looked at me then, the tension in his shoulders evident as well as something that resembled fear in his eyes.
“No- Maybe… I don’t know.”
“Well what do you know?”
He looked at his coffee as if it held all the answers to his universe.
“I need to know something first, Sookie.”
“When you … when we broke up…” I steeled myself for what was coming, “I just… want to know why. Now, with a clear head and anger free, I need to know why.”
I sighed, that was something that I’d give a hell of a lot of thought into in the previous … shit, almost four years.
“Truth? Eric my world felt apart, and I didn’t know how to glue it back together.”
“With your dad being -”
“With my dad, not being my dad.”
His eyes widened.
“What? How? I… don’t…?”
“Right? That was my reaction, times a million. I had literally, and I mean literally just found out when you showed up that night and, God, I was so lost and angry. I was so angry that I thought I was going to implode!” I said, animated in my explanation, “I was over tired, I was emotional, but none of that gives me a free pass on the things I said to you, because they were lies. And it was the one thing I never did with you, and you knew that, you knew I never lied to you… so why wouldn’t you believe what I was saying?” I gestured, and he was listening, intently. “I pushed you away because I was ashamed of myself, and I didn’t like to look weak in front of anyone, Eric, least of all the man that loved me,” I explained.
“But I didn’t care. I didn’t see you as weak – ever.”
“I know, I know that now. But it took me a long time to come to terms with my life and how it had been, at least in a small part, a lie. Between that and his illness… Eric, I wasn’t thinking straight. And I wasn’t thinking straight for a hell of a long time, too.”
“You didn’t trust me,” he nodded, in acceptance.
“Not just you, I didn’t trust anyone enough to let them see me weak… it was a terrifying flaw and one that took me almost getting hooked on antidepressants, to finally face up and deal with.”
I inhaled slowly. Catching my breath, in more ways than one.
“And now? I’d like to think that I’ve grown up. That I’ve faced my fears in a way that only life can make you face ’em. I’d like to think that I’ve changed. Whether or not that’s true, I don’t know…but there’s hope.”
He nodded, and I could see him, thinking and pondering.
“Come inside, I ordered a ton of food for breakfast, but Sara and Lena went shopping too early for my liking. You still eat, right?”
I rolled my eyes. “Yes, I still eat, and I don’t even see it in reverse,” I sassed, and he laughed as we walked inside.
“Good, it’s good to know that you haven’t changed completely then,” he smiled at me then, and there was something in that smile.
It was hope, and it gave me hope.
Maybe we weren’t so done after all?
A/N: Y’all still mad at me? 😉
P.s Big thanks you to my twitter girls for helping me type like the wind tonight to get this out and for editing and cleaning up the mistakes of my very tired eyes. And thank you all for reviewing, even the ones who yelled at me… it was interesting lol!
Chapter 37: Chapter 37
When the phone rang from reception to tell me that Sookie was there to see me, I smiled. I should have known she’d find me. Or more to the point, that Pam would find me, since it was her that no doubt got Sookie the info. I hadn’t been expecting her, and honestly had just gotten out of bed, but I did my best to not freak out and forced myself to go sit outside and pretend to be a normal person – not to show the panic that was going on inside me.
So when she walked up, head to toe in black and full of sarcasm, I found myself relaxing a tiny bit. She was clearly confused, but it was nice to see that the same ole Sookie was still in there – at least personality wise. Finding out about Earl, it was a huge shock to say the least, and it was yet again another piece of the puzzle coming together. Those pieces that had remained missing for so long, why she’d done what she’d done, when she’d done it, how she’d done it. It took time, a hell of a long time, but with each new revelation, I understood that period in our lives a little better, and in turn, I understood her actions all the more too. It really was like curtains opening on a dark room, there was just light, spread on so many things. And that light was more than welcome.
She sat across from me at the kitchen table as we both picked at our breakfasts. There was still no sign of Sara or Lena. Women and shopping, I would really never understand it.
“My dad wants to see you while you’re all here, and Sara and Lena too of course.”
“Sure, we’re here for another week… So it should be fine with them.”
“I’m living by the beach, well, on the beach. I think Lena would like it.”
I laughed, “I think we all would, minus twenty winters remember?”
She smiled, and took a bite out of her bacon, “Good, it’s not really warm enough to go into the water, but it’s still nice out.”
There was a short silence then while we both ate. She looked at me, then looked at her food, then looked back at me. And if I wasn’t mistaken, she was blushing. I could still make her blush? Interesting.
“Are you still seeing that director douche?” I attempted, casually, of course.
She just rolled her eyes.
“One, he wasn’t a douche … much. And two, no, I’m not. We split a while ago.”
She looked at me fast then, only to look back at her plate just as quickly.
“We just… he just…” she sighed, then put down her fork, fully looking at me again, “He proposed.”
I bust out laughing, for he was, in fact, a tool, and an idiot. He was an idiotic tool.
“It’s not funny!”
I continued to laugh, “I’m sorry, you’re right.” I laughed still, annoying her so much that she threw her napkin at me.
“I’m sorry! But… is he special? Had you just met? Ha! What in the hell made him think that that’s what YOU of all people would want?”
She sighed again, “I have … no idea. I just… why is it that everyone expects it… they just EXPECT IT to be something that every woman wants. It’s so fucking dumb.”
Getting married just wasn’t ‘for’ everyone I knew that, and I knew that Sookie certainly wasn’t one of those who was waiting on a ring or a wedding dress. She was her own person, independent to a fault at times, but when she loved, she loved with her whole heart, and what mattered to her most was if you loved her back just as much.
“So he fucked up. Anyone … else?”
“Nope. What about you? Flavour of the month, or the one?” She raised her brows at me, smiling.
“Ne- you’re single? Colour me, surprised.”
“Not just single, more like… eh… celibate,” I admitted, for the first time to anyone.
She hid her surprise, behind her sarcasm, “Oh, Stockholm finally run out of women then?”
“You’re hilarious. And no, I just… had other priorities.”
She smiled, “I know what that’s like. And you know, the Eric I met in this kitchen all those years ago – skinny and pale, confused and hung-over… I don’t think he would have had ‘other priorities.’ It’s nice to see…”
I nodded. “Yeah, back then, it feels like another lifetime ago, really.”
“In some ways, it was. I was so cocky and self assured and you…” she laughed at herself.
“Was exactly the same in many ways, and a total fuck up in many others.”
We talked, for what seemed like hours. We covered loads of lost time, my new job, my students, and conquering my fear of standing up in front of a impressive crowd of people (mostly women) as myself and not as a character for once. It had taken a little while to come to grips with that, just being myself, whoever that was. I had to admit that now I loved it. She told me all about the movie, and how it had changed her, and how she was never doing anything that gruelling again. I knew she would though, she enjoyed a challenge. We teased each other back and forth and it felt good to be able to do that again, it felt good that that level of comfort just slotted back into place as if we’d just seen each other yesterday.
As we finished up breakfast she was ignoring calls and texts from Pam, and we clashed on who was going to pile the dishes up for collection.
“I’ve told her, I’m taking a break. A solid year I spent on that project, and promotion and whoring myself out. I want a break, I want to SLEEP,” she laughed, leaning against the sink in the kitchenette of the bungalow.
I put our coffee mugs in the sink and moved past her as she awkwardly shuffled with her bag and her phone.
“I really should go…” she said, jingling her keys in hand as she leaned against the wall and looked me over. “I … thank you, for coming last night. And even though I really did think I was going nuts, it was a sweet gesture and I appreciated it. As I’m sure my dad will when I tell him. Or when you tell him or -”
“Sook? Calm down,” I said, rubbing both her arms to attempt to give her that calm. She was rambling at a serious rate, and while it was cute, it also meant that she was scared.
I both hated and loved that I knew her so well, still.
“I’m sorry…” she said, sighing before she stuck her phone in her purse that was hanging on her arm, still I stood in front of her, and she didn’t seem to mind all that much.
“I just… I’m not sure how to act in a situation like this. Whenever I’ve broken up with someone I usually never see them again… It’s too awkward or there’s too much tension, and there is awkward and there IS tension, and we’ve just been ignoring it, and I just … I just don’t know what to do,” she said, her voice getting smaller as she finished another mini rant. I just smiled.
“Who says we have to do anything? We spent time together today didn’t we? And it didn’t kill us? And, more importantly we didn’t kill each other. Psh, if this had been two years ago? I don’t think that would have happened.”
“You hated me, didn’t you?” she asked, her eyes sad as she looked up into mine as I still stood too close. The tension was, in a word, palpable.
“I wanted to, for a long time, but then I realized something that made it pretty clear that no matter how hard I tried, I’d never be able to hate you.”
I heard her swallow in a gulp, “What did you realize?”
“Well…” I said, stepping even closer to her, “I realized that you will always have me, because you own my heart in a way that no other woman ever has, and because of that I’ll love you – one way or another, I’ll just love you. So if I love you, how can I hate you?”
Her eyes began to glisten, and she bit her lip, “So you see…” I said. “I can’t hate you. It’s not possible.” Before I knew what was happening, we were kissing passionately up against that pillar in the living room of my rented bungalow. And I couldn’t remember a time when things felt so good.
I hadn’t meant to kiss him, I mean, I’d wanted to, I’d always wanted to… it’s difficult when he looks like that (and getting better with age it seemed, damn him) and smells like he smells, and looks at me like he looks at me. And then when we got to talking, and it just felt so right. It felt… like old times. When things were good and fun, and easy. And then he told me what he told me. I mean, how else are you meant to react when the guy that you measure every other guy up to, tells you that you own his heart? Was I meant to shrug it off and go about my day?
No, I wrapped my arms around his neck and snogged the life out of him, that’s what I did.
“Hmmm,” we both said at one point or another during the kiss, the kiss that lasted a long time, as we both pretended not to be grinding against and feeling each other up, against that wall. He pulled back, gloriously breathless, and with swollen lips, and I couldn’t help but giggle.
“I didn’t mean to do that,” I said, and he raised a brow at me. “Ok so I meant to… but what else was I meant to do? You give me this big speech and it went right to my panties.” I admitted, since we were doing the honesty thing now, and all in all I felt it was okay to say it. He just smirked.
“Good to know…” he said, leaning in again to kiss me, when we heard the fake cough.
“Ahem,” came the sound from the doorway. “Am I interrupting something?” she asked. “Oh, please tell me I’m interrupting something.” It was Sara, armed with bags in one arm and Lena asleep in another. “Don’t move! I’m going to lay her down…” she said, scooting into the bedroom and laying her down. She came back out in a flash, though long enough to allow Eric and I time to put a respectable about of distance between us.
“So…” she said, “Hi Sookie!” She embraced me in a tight squeeze before looking to Eric and then to me. “Congratulations on last night, it was really amazing to watch you up there like that. And I met Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt and Kate Winslet! I mean it was just SO surreal!” she beamed. She was far too adorable. “And your dress, God it was stunning, and your speech was so heartfelt and funny and -”
“Sara, have you had coffee by any chance?” Eric laughed, allowing her to breathe.
“Sorry… I was just… well it was a lovely evening.” She composed herself a little more.
“It was,” I agreed, and we made casual chit chat on how their trip had been so far, and if she was liking LA. Much to my surprise, she said that she loved it.
“And the people, Jesus they’re all so freakishly nice. And tanned, and I got to wear my tank top shopping, I mean, back home right now it’s six layers or death! I love it here! And Lena is having a blast! We took her to Disney and she loved every second of it… and so did Eric.”
I looked to him, and he blushed. “What? I never went there before, it’s so magical,” he smiled, the big kid.
“And then the Oscars? Well, it was like a dream,” she sighed wistfully.
“You sound like California has won you over.”
“You know,” she winked. “It has it’s pros. I’ll find the cons later, for right now I’m just enjoying my holiday.”
“As you should. I wanted to invite you… I’ve told Eric this, but my dad, as you know, is in town, and well, he wants us all to meet up if that’s okay? I was thinking we could all do dinner out or drinks and then dinner? I haven’t figured it out yet, I was a little busy…”
“Winning an Oscar!” she said, again, why was she so adorable? Her broken accented English just made me love her more I think.
We made chit chat for a few more minutes before I really had to excuse myself.
“Of course… Eric, show her out,” she said, sounding more like his mother right then, than a woman his own age. It was hilarious, mainly because he obeyed.
We walked out and down the path I’d followed to get there, both of us saying nothing as we did.
“Stay here,” I said before I got outside again for the valet, “There are paps crawling today, since they know everyone is in town. Last thing we need is…”
“Right, right… it’s funny I’d almost forgotten about them.”
“Yeah? You mean, Sweden isn’t a paparazzi populated area?” I smiled.
“Thankfully, no.” He sighed, and grabbed my hand forcing me to turn to him. “Thank you, for coming. I’m really glad we got to… talk.” He grinned, and I knew he meant more than the talking.
“Yes, the talking… it was very… nice.” Again, not just the talking. “But really I should be thanking you… for coming, and you know… not hating me and all.”
“I thought I covered that?”
“You did, but I’m just sayin’ it wouldn’t have been unjustified for you to … that’s all. But I am glad you don’t, and I am glad that we … talked.”
“Me too, and say we wanted to… talk again, sometime, soon. Would that be something you’d like to do?”
“Yes, the talking.” He smiled, contagiously causing me to do the same.
“Yeah, I think that would be good, really good actually.”
“Good,” I echoed. “I should go…”
“You, kind of need to let go of my hand to do that though,” he pointed out, and I realized I’d forgotten that we were just standing there, in the lobby of the hotel, just… holding hands.
I did let go, and he kissed me on the cheek as we said our goodbyes. Only, this time it wasn’t goodbye, at least not in the sense that it used to be. For now, it was a, ‘see you later’ with the promise of what later would bring. I left the hotel with a big ass smile on my face. Hell, you’d think I’d won the lottery… Or an Oscar.
Everyone met up at Sookie’s rather impressive beach house a day later. And by everyone I mean, everyone. There was Sara, myself, and Lena of course. Pam, a very pregnant Jess, Hoyt, Earl, Maria, Pam’s co-worker and friend of Sookie’s – David, Tara and her husband Shawn – an actor from New York and their three year old daughter Raya, Lafayette and his boyfriend (Yeah apparently Lafayette was gay? Who knew!) Tomas, a friend of Shawn’s from New York.
The sudden stall in conversation between all of them wasn’t lost on me when I walked in. In fact, it was down right comical how they all just suddenly stopped talking to look our way. Sookie just rolled her eyes and ushered us inside and offered us all a drink. Turns out Lena did remember Sookie, and missed her ‘super long Barbie hair’ which she promised she was trying go grow back, it was just taking some time. With the kids playing in the sand directly outside the decking, Earl and Sara got to talking on the sun loungers, a few of them were back and forth to the beach and it left me with Hoyt, Jess and Sookie for a second.
“I can’t believe you’re pregnant. I mean, I know you guys are married and all, and it’s expected.” I looked at Sookie, who just smirked at me, I knew only too well her stance on that kind of ‘tradition.’ “But really, it’s amazing.”
Hoyt had started working for a production company when I’d quit, he was assistant to the producer at first, but he quickly worked his way up and was now an associate producer. I was happy that they were building a solid life together, complete with mini people and all.
“She’s kicking like crazy though, and I feel so tired all the time, and my mother is just goin’ crazy saying we should move back home and that LA is no place to raise a baby.” She rolled her eyes, her southern twang coming and going as she spoke, like always. We caught up on everything that was going on around us before they excused themselves, leaving Sook and I alone, at last.
“I think my dad is itching to get working on the barbecue. I have no idea why, I suggested we order in … which we’ll probably end up having to do anyway, when he charcoals the food. Are you hungry?”
“No… I’m good.”
She nodded, and I think we were back to awkward. I hated awkward. It was… well, awkward. She couldn’t keep still, she kept mixing her salad in the big ass bowl, she kept checking if there was ice in the ice-maker, and she fidgeted until I couldn’t take it anymore.
“How about you show me this house, I have never been here before remember?”
“Oh! Right, yeah sure. Well. This is the kitchen,” she held her hands up, doing her best impression of a sales woman, “and that’s the living room.” She pointed, and then pointed again, “Beach. Sand. Water. The usual… Bedroom one, which my dad and Maria have claimed,” she smiled, and we walked up stairs. I grabbed her hand as she walked in front of me, and thankfully she didn’t pull away, she just gently held mine back as she led us through her home. “Master bathroom-”
“Double shower. Pervy or genius?” I asked, nudging her, and she just laughed.
“It’s awesome, you should try it sometime.” Then she blushed. “I don’t mean … I mean… I …”
“Don’t lie, you just want to shower with me, again.”
She bit back a smile. “Well, yeah, it was always a nice way to start the day… who can blame a girl really… Moving on,” she said as we dashed from that room to another guest bedroom and then another, and then to her bedroom. “I will be redecorating when I get the chance, I’ve just been so busy with all the press lately that I have barely had time to think, let alone move in properly,” she said with a sigh, sitting down on the edge of her rather large bed.
“I redid the farmhouse.”
“Yeah, it was sort of like… a labour of love? It sounds silly to say it, but it was like having my dad around, when I was working on it. We’d started reinforcing the old wood and built a new deck together, just before he died.”
“That’s not silly, Eric. I think that’s lovely. And if it gave you comfort, then even better.”
It did in a way.
I found her looking at me, curiously, “What?”
“I keep thinking about that kiss.” She pinked slightly at her admission.
“Thinking what, about the kiss?”
“How I’d like to do it again?”
“Yeah, I’ve been thinking that a lot too…” I said, leaning into her, closer and closer until my lips touched hers, gently and soft, and she responded in kind, and before we knew it we were full on making out on her bed.
“Sookie! Food is almost done, can you get the drinks?” We heard her dad yell, breaking us apart with a laugh. “Seriously, people just can’t bugger off and leave us be?” she asked, with a heavy sigh as she got off the bed and stood, watching me as I still sat. “Come on, we may as well join the party or one or all of them will just keep coming looking for us. We’ll… talk later,” she winked at me.
Yes we most definitely would talk later.
The rest of the party went over smoothly with everyone more than happy to mingle and catch up, apart from Earl, who actually did end up burning most of the food. Thankfully Sookie had pre-ordered dinner for everyone from her favourite Chinese place and they delivered just as everyone was starving. I’d noticed Sara and David talking a lot, in fact they’d managed to stay within six feet of each other for most of the day. It was … interesting. I was forever telling her that she should get back out there and attempt to find someone else, she was still a really young woman, after all. She had always sworn it off, with one excuse or another, and after a while I realized that she would move on when she was ready. And by the looks of them flirting, she was ready.
Tara and her husband left after dinner, their kid slug over his shoulder passed the hell out, just like Lena was. The beach, running around, and all that food had finally worn them out. Sara made her excuses soon after saying that Lena should get to bed, of course David offered to drive her back to the hotel. I was more than happy to give her whatever time alone she’d want to make new ‘friends.’ Hoyt and Jessica left a little while later, and we promised to meet up for lunch again before I left for Sweden. It then left us with Laf and his boyfriend, who had egged everyone on in the evening when I had questioned if EVERYONE else knew that he was gay and I was the only one that didn’t. He’d told me my Gaydar was like my Crazychickdar, broken as all fuck.
They weren’t wrong.
Maria and Earl had planted themselves out on the deck, by the pitfire and the candles. It was a very peaceful view.
“Why don’t you two go for a nice walk on the beach, it’s a lovely evening.” he pushed, and Sookie just sassed him, “Trying to get rid of us dad?”
“Of course, my wife and I would like a few minutes to talk about you all behind your back, and really, we can’t very well do that with you both here, now can we?”
Sook just slid on her sandals, and grabbed a small sweater from the side of the couch.
“Shall we then? I’d hate to deprive the elderly of their gossiping time.”
“Less of the elderly young lady!” Maria called, and before she had a chance to argue back we were off down to the tide.
“I swear they’re just two big kids.” She shook her head as we continued to walk in stride with one another down the beach, far from the house, but with the light from the other houses spilling out onto the beach and giving us the light necessary to keep walking. We took a seat about half a mile down, both of us beat.
“I ate too much,” I said. “It was so good though, you don’t get good Chinese food in Sweden.”
“Yeah but you get epic Swedish meatballs,” she snorted.
“Yep,” she nodded. And looked out into the wide waters for a second, before looking back at me. “Eric, what are we doing here?
“Sitting on a beach…”
“You know what I mean? I… it’s so easy with you and I, and I find that I’m getting attached to you again, and that’s a bad thing.”
“Why is that bad?”
“Because? You live in Sweden, I live here, we aren’t together, we aren’t really… anything, right now… and being around you like this just reminds me of how good it used to be, and how much I … and how good things were. But it’s not the old days anymore, it’s the new days and the new days don’t include an us. They include a me here and a you there, going back there in less than a week… and therefore not being here.”
She wasn’t wrong. On any of her points. It was easy just to slip into the comfort of what we had and how we knew each other, but she was right, this wasn’t back then, this was now, and a lot of things had changed.
One thing still hadn’t though, and I knew from her actions that she felt the same way. Which suddenly made everything complicated as fuck.
I kissed her again, really and truly kissed the life out of her before I pulled back.
“We’ll figure it out, Sookie. We will.”
A/N: All that sugar hurt your teeth? ; )
Chapter 38: Chapter 38
“Harder -” I demanded, and he continued to groan softly into my neck. It wasn’t that he really could go any harder than he was going, not at least without one of us breaking, or the bed breaking, but I demanded it all the same. There we were, second round of ‘catching up’ after a lot of ‘talking.’ Sweat, strain, excitement, pleasure and a little bit of pain, and it was as if we’d never stopped fucking each other at all over the past four years. But of course, we had stopped, and it had, of course, been a long time. Our bodies had changed to an extent, for good and for bad in some places. But his body felt like a familiar path I’d walked often and knew well, even with my eyes closed, while he played mine like a comfortable guitar who knew just all the right strings to finger.
“Jesus, woman, I’m not twenty-six anymore. Are you trying to kill me?” He smiled, rolling us over again. We were a sticky, satisfied mess, and it was glorious.
“Come on, old man, you aren’t too old yet, are you?” I teased.
His lips were on my neck when I heard him growl, “I’ll have less of the old man talk, thanks.” He bit my neck, and just to show me who was in control in that moment, the bastard gave me a hickey.
“Oh, no you didn’t,” I said when I realized what he’d done. He just popped his head up with a cocky grin.
“You marked me! What are you, twelve?”
“Well, at least that doesn’t make me old,” he said, sliding beside me with a groan and leaving me with a sudden empty feeling at the loss of him inside me.
“Yeah, but a hickey, Eric? It’s the sexual equivalent of peeing all around me,” I laughed, but he just poked me in the side.
He turned to me then, throwing the sheet over both of us, the cross breeze from the outside hitting us both full force now that we’d stopped sweating all over each other. Leaning on his arm, he looked at me, a mischievous look in his eyes.
“You can mark me, if you want,” he said, low, and far too sexy. “Anywhere you want.”
That got my attention.
“Well, well, well, does Eric Northman have a secret biting fetish that I don’t know about?”
As long as you didn’t break skin, biting was… sometimes really so fucking hot. I’d never tried it with him though, weirdly, since I’d tried just about everything else with him.
“No, I trust you though… so…”
“Anywhere?” I asked, matching his naughty tone with my own.
He just nodded as I pushed him on his back yanking the sheet away from him, taking in his body in all it’s glory. This wasn’t just a gym body anymore, this was a solid, brawny, made out of manual labour body. It was also a little bit older, and a little bit more weathered, if it was possible I think I found it far more of a turn on in the present than I had before – again, not something I’d have thought possible. I scanned him once, then again, I knew he was watching me. It was so fucking hot.
His breaths were shallow and fast, I still felt his eyes on me as I straddled his body with my own, kissing his neck. “Hmm,” I whispered. “Here would be too obvious… and far too cliché.”
“And I know how you hate a cliché,” he whispered.
“That I do. I love that you know that about me. I love everything you remember about us.”
He hummed, as I moved my lips to his shoulder.
“What about here?” I nipped his skin between my teeth before letting go before I made a mark. It made him inhale quickly though.
I moved my mouth to his chest where I nipped again, this time causing him to hiss and roll his head back onto the pillow. By the time I’d gotten to his thigh, he was hard again, and breathing faster than before. Without warning, I kissed his inner thigh, nipped and bit, causing him to inhale and moan all at once. I have to admit, I was a little drunk on the knowledge that it was turning him on so much, so when I sucked my lips against his skin, making sure I was marking him up right and nice and one that looked almost painful, that by the time I was done? I was more than ready for round three. As was he from the sounds of things.
I lathered him up, and I lathered him down. Soapy Eric was a fun Eric, and it was rather necessary since we’d spent the majority of the afternoon in bed, and would probably collectively smell questionable.
Not now though, now we smelled like roses and lilies, a little girlie for his tastes, but hey, at least it wasn’t the smell of sex.
“So much for us taking it slow,” he said, rinsing his hair under his shower head, while I stood under mine and washed off my soap.
“Well you leave in five days, it would have been wrong to spend all this time together and not do… the things we just did. And besides, it’s a step in the right direction,” I shrugged while he came in behind me to wrap his arms around me, pulling me under his shower head.
“And why is that, Sookie?”
He shook me softly, urging me to continue.
“Because, I love you.” There, I said it, for the first time since he and I had been reconnecting. It’s not that I had a fear of saying it, I knew I loved him still and I knew he knew it too. But saying it made it more real, if that makes any sense. “I love you, and I love being with you, even if it was unplanned like this whole second chance was, or planned like a ninja operation like today was.”
He smiled. We had strategically gotten rid of our company at the same time, mainly so he could come here and we could sort things out alone. Important things, like what were we doing? Where was this going? Were we back together? And if so, how were we going to manage living on two different parts of the world. Of course none of those questions got answered since he kissed me when he walked in the door and we’d not let each other up for air enough to hold a conversation since. At least not one that didn’t include moans, screams, and a list of one word demands in a breathless fashion.
“You love me, huh?”
“You know I do.”
He smiled wide, cocky.
“Yeah I know, I was just waiting for you to say it, I like those words directed at me, from you… you know?” He finished washing the shampoo out of his hair and shut the shower off, kissing me as he walked past.
I found him five minutes later, watching the last of the sunset, wrapped in my new towel. For some reason, the image made my heart pang with sadness.
“It’s like some sort of bomb, counting down in my head,” I said and he looked at me, an eyebrow raised.
“Oh, right, that. The great big Swedish Elephant in the room,” he sighed, wrapping his arms around me as I stood in front to appreciate the fading day in front of us.
“I know we’ll work something out, I just kind of… want to know what? You know?”
“Well I think we have to ask ourselves a few questions first,” he said.
“Well, I love you, and you say you love me -”
“I do. I do love you. And just because I’m not one of those needy chicks that feels the need to have to say it sixteen times a day… doesn’t mean I don’t feel it. I’ve always felt it. Even when I thought I hated you, I loved you, because you were Eric and you had hope to be who you were meant to be, and I loved that about you, just like I fell in love with everything else about you, too.”
He kissed my neck once, quickly in thanks.
“And this, this thing between us? I never thought we’d get another shot at it, but we did… and we’re here, and I know you have to go because your life is somewhere else now and I have to accept that. It’ll be hard, but I want to accept that. I want you to be happy, it’s all I’ve ever really wanted for you,” I admitted, softly.
“Oh,” he said, rocking us back and forth.
“Oh? I become a sugary mess and all I get is, oh? Thanks.”
“No, I don’t mean it like that. I mean, oh, because that’s not the be all and end all you know?”
“Meaning?” I asked, not really following, maybe I had banged my head off the damn headboard too hard?
“We could compromise, we could live wherever we wanted…. For however long we wanted. I was thinking, if you wanted that is…”
“You said you’re taking a break right? At least a few months?”
I nodded, “I’m working on a script right now, it’s why David was at dinner, his company wants to produce it… but other than that, I want off, for at least an awards season, I can’t do it all again so soon – if at all. It was fucking brutal.”
I was tired, emotionally, physically, and artistically. A year plus on the circuits was something I’d never done before. I’d never pushed a movie so hard, and the only reason I pushed this is because I’d put my life into it at the time, and I wanted everyone to love it. I hadn’t dreamed it would earn me anything other than a few more movie goers, but an Oscar was still the most shocking of surprises. But still, I was done, at least for a little while. My batteries were dead.
“Come to Sweden? Stay there, with me? Take your break there?”
It had crossed my mind, yet I hadn’t wanted to push the matter in case we weren’t fully ‘there’ yet. I guess he was there. I just had to come too?
“You sure about that?”
He laughed, “I think wanting the woman that I’ve missed more than anyone I’ve been with, the woman I love unlike any other to come stay with me in my home? Is something I’m pretty sure about.”
“I… could… I mean, you have wifi right?” I joked, kind of. I still had my technology addiction and no one was taking that away from me.
“Yes, I have wifi.”
I pondered, I had wanted to jump at the chance, but I had business here, I had a life here. One that I had just recently finished putting back together. But here I didn’t have an Eric, or really anyone that even measured up to him – in more ways than one.
“I was hoping for a slightly more… enthused response, Sook?”
“No! I want to! I really do!”
“I know you have a whole life here, and if it’s not something you can do, I understand it. I do.”
I loved him, I loved Sweden, I could work out of there on the script just as easily as here – with decent enough wifi access… there was no reason not to, not even my own stupid loud ass self doubt screaming in my head, and that self doubt was a bitch that needed to be silenced. I wasn’t fucking this up again just for that. And not to go all Katy Perry on the situation but all I wanted was no regrets, just love, and god damnit that’s what I was going to aim for this time.
“What?” He asked.
“I’ll tell them, I want six months, freedom, no work, no calls, no expectations. I haven’t had a private life in a while now. I think we deserve a shot at some peace… and I’ll tell them, the script is mine and if they want it from me, they’ll wait six months. And if they don’t want it from me, they can go find something else.”
“Besides…” I said, snuggling up to him. “I’d always wanted to learn another language. Might be time, since I’ll be invading your country full time now. It would only be polite to try.”
He just laughed at me then as we laid ourselves on the bed, actually talking this time.
“Jag tror vi kan ordna så att.”
“Nooo idea what you just said.” Though it sounded awesome and tongue-swirly, I had no clue.
“You will love, I’ll teach you.”
The next five days went by far too fast for my liking. Sookie and I had come to an understanding of sorts, she would square things here and I would go back home. I’d meet her at the airport in Stockholm in a month, less if she got Pam to concede that she wasn’t doing a blockbuster just because they were offering her well over her asking price now, even with the Oscar hike. Sara and Lena were both like kicked puppies as we packed our bags to fly back home. Sara had spent the majority of the final days around or with David, who I’d found out from both Sara and Sookie that he wasn’t a douche – at least if he was he hid it really well. He was a divorced guy in his mid forties, though he looked a lot younger, producer – all the things I knew I liked, and those I didn’t I was intrigued by, and he was divorced three years, since it turns out his wife? Liked girls a little more than she let on before they got hitched, thus ending their marriage . Sookie had said that since then he’d been a little gun shy about women, but he and Sara hit it off right from the start, and I knew she was, as Jessica would say, ‘smitten’. I hated seeing her sad again, and as we loaded up the car go bring us to the airport, I asked her something that had occurred to me, but I’d never considered it a possibility.
“Would you consider moving here? If you two got serious?”
She looked at me like I had two heads.
“Eric, please don’t be so silly. I have a life in Sweden…”
“You could have one here too, I mean, if you wanted.”
I asked her if they were serious, and she scoffed.
“It’s been little more than a week, I don’t know what we are… or if we are anything. It’s been… so long since I’ve dated, and even then I was no good at it.”
“No one is good at dating, we all just muddle along. Shit, look at Sookie and I?”
“Yes, you two were a disaster,” she smiled. “I like him, and I know that he likes me, but beyond that I don’t know… he could have a hundred women on the go as well as me for all I know, and why would I risk that and my life in Sweden for something that could go tits up in the morning?”
She had a point.
“Well, how about you see where it goes? And if he’s worth it, keep seeing him – long distance as it will be, it’s a bitch, but it’s doable… and if he’s not worth it, I’ll kick his skinny ass for you, how’s that?”
She patted my shoulder.
“Deal. Now, help me find somewhere to fit all those damn Disney toys, will you?”
Maria and Earl had taken off for Paris the day before. We’d all done a small dinner in town before they left, with the promise that we all not be strangers anymore. Of course, they couldn’t resist the urge to troll Sookie and I since it was more than obvious to everyone that we were, in fact, back together. We didn’t mind it though. It was familiar, and made me smile as it brought back buried memories of my father and his sense of humour about life. Something that I felt myself embracing more as I got that little bit older.
I pulled up at the airport arrivals gate, all of us piling out of the car, luggage and carry-on’s, one accounted for kid and a tired mother later, and we were walking into the airport. And there she stood. It was four am, but there she was. Even thought we’d promised that we’d said our ‘see you later’s’ the day before – repeatedly, and at least once in her epic shower.
But no, there she stood in her jeans and soft sweater, a small smile on her face.
“I just wanted to see you… before,” she said, and we ignored the wistful sigh from Sara. They hugged and said their goodbyes as Sara checked in and went on through with Lena since she wanted to get some coffee before the flight. It gave us a minute alone. In the almost empty check in lanes we went and took a seat off to the side. She snuggled herself into my arm the whole time. I knew then that a month apart would be utter hell.
“I never thought of myself as a sappy girl before, but I think I’m turning into one…” she sniffled.
“It’s just a month, sweetheart. Just a month.”
“I know, I know, Jesus we’ve done four years. This should be nothing.”
“But it feels like something. It feels too long.”
I hugged her, “It won’t be, and soon you’ll be so sick of me you’ll be dying to get back here.”
“Only if you’re with me,” she smiled. And I had to admit, it was something that I was considering, seriously considering. Moving back there, if it’s what it took for us to work, I’d do it. No questions asked. She and I had our tempers, and we knew how to push each other’s buttons like pros, but I loved her more than I’d loved anyone, and she told me that she felt the same with me. We mattered more, we mattered most. Life threw us another chance, or maybe I sought it out? I couldn’t really tell. All I could tell was that I knew somewhere in my gut that she was what I wanted, in whatever capacity that we were meant to be. The goodbye was painful, but full of happiness inside its small moment of sadness. This wasn’t goodbye forever as it had once been, no, this was just the beginning. Of that, I was so sure.
A/N: Last full chapter loves, we just have the epi to come and that’s it for California Bound! Hope you’ve enjoyed the ride! ; )