CB 8-10

Chapter 8: Chapter 8


SPOV:

I remember standing in the elevator beside him, an older woman stood in front of us, though we barely noticed her. We were both practically humming with nervous anticipation, or maybe that was just my alcohol filled brain dying from the inside out? I had no idea at that point. All I knew was once the lady stepped out to her floor, Eric pinned me up against the elevator wall, his hands in my hair, his mouth on my mouth while I was merely on the receiving end of one very toe curling kiss.

“You have boundary issues, Northman.”

“You like my boundary issues, Stackhouse. Admit it,” he said kissing me again. Before I knew it, we were outside his hotel room door as he struggled to get the old-fashion gold key into the even older door.

We got inside without our bodies separating from the other. I was pressed up against the old black door in no time at all. It was so wrong how turned on I was just from kissing. I hadn’t gotten this much pleasure from simple kisses since I first learned how to kiss. He was that good, and this time there was no crew standing around watching us. I was free to be myself and kiss him as much as I wanted. And I wanted. My drunk self wanted this, she wanted it all. Not just stopping at the sweet yet somehow so completely sexually charged kisses; no, she wanted to embrace her inner harlot and sex him up and down around the entire hotel room. It wasn’t that difficult to do. In fact, Eric seemed pretty on board with just about anything, and since both his and my hands were frantically grabbing, pulling and pushing each others buttons already… It was safe to say he was right about that whole chemistry thing since it was shaping up to be even more explosive behind closed doors.

I was breathless as he slid on top of me—his weight somehow being held up by those arms of his hovering over my head—his lips never leaving mine as he began to unbutton my shirtdress having already shed my shoes when we slammed the door shut. As I caught my breath slowly somewhere between the door and the bed, I began to regain my senses.

Though those senses were being assaulted on overload by everything Eric in that moment.

“We…”

“French for yes?” he smirked as his lips explored my neck again.

“No. We have to… should stop.”

“Horrible idea, just horrible,” he smiled into my neck. I could feel his scruff against my skin.

That’s when I started to panic. This should not be that easy. I just walked away from a six year relationship, I was in the middle of a disastrous production, I was a rapidly sobering drunk, weepy and needy. This was not the time to have sex with him. Not now, not like this, and possibly not ever. He was my employee for fuck’s sake. What kind of reputation was I making for myself? A second rate director who fucks around on set? How cliché.

No.

Pushing him off me slightly so I could at least look him in the eye, he looked confused, horny and hurt, all at once. I just felt like a bitch.

” We—” I was just about to speak when there was a heavy knock on his door. He knew we were at a standstill, so he moved off of me readjusting his pants as he made his way to the door. I slid off the bed and crept into the bathroom.

I heard their voices; it was Jessica and Hoyt. Thank you, Gods.

After splashing a little water on my face and tying back my hair, I walked out of the bathroom to be attacked by Jessica in the form of a hug. She was always hugging people—always.

“Thank God you’re okay. Oh God, Sookie I was convinced you’d been kidnapped. I mean, I just didn’t know what to think when you didn’t answer your phone I can’t even—”

“Wow… Relax. I’m fine, see? All in one piece. Just a little worse for wear, I guess but I’m fine. I just needed some time to myself.”

“Which is why you ended up in Eric’s hotel room?” she asked me innocently enough, but it triggered my inner bitch to come out to play.

“Jessica, I’m sorry that you had to worry about me, but you’re my assistant not my mother. As you can see I’m fine so I’d appreciate it you and Hoyt would just…” I sighed. “Can you just go? Please? My head is spinning and your hurt puppy look isn’t helping me right now.”

Yeah, total bitch.

“I’m sorry,” she said. And I wanted to accept her ever ready hug and tell her not to be sorry; that I was just a drunken fool who was in the middle of a meltdown; to pay no attention to me and to just go chill out with her new boyfriend. Instead, I didn’t. I just stayed silent as they left. Leaving Eric and I and a lot of awkward tension.

“So, before Scooby and Scrappy interrupted us, I believe we were in the middle of something,” he said sauntering in my direction.

I slipped on my shoes as he looked on in confusion.

As he got closer, the room seemed to get smaller. His height could be intimidating when it wanted.

“It’s not happening. Thank God they interrupted when they did. This would have been a terrible idea.”

“You’re kidding me, right?”

“Wrong. I’m very serious. Besides, like I’ve said, I don’t do actors and especially not actors who are working for ME, in my employ. I mean, Jesus, what was I thinking? I wasn’t thinking…” I shook my head.

I was sobering up far too fast and my body was feeling the effects of a hangover and I hadn’t even been to sleep yet.

Fuck.

“So that’s it?” he asked, his voice full of unnecessary indignation.

“What exactly did you expect? That we’d fall into bed together and somehow all of our problems would go away? Doesn’t work like that. In fact, fucking you would have only caused a shit load more problems that I’m just not willing to deal with right now.”

“And I get no say in this at all, is that it?”

“Well, you could force me I guess. But we all know what that’s called, and you can be a dickhead but I don’t think you’re a rapist, right, Eric?”

“You know I’d never force anyone into anything, ever. Don’t even joke about that shit.”

“Fine. Then stop acting like I kicked you in the balls and get over it.”

He just rolled his eyes at me.

“You are so full of shit, Sookie. I’m shocked it’s not coming out of your ears.”

That might have been true, but my shit was still true, too.

I opened the door but his hand shut it. I turned to face him and his expression was almost unreadable.

Well, except for the confusion, that much was still perfectly clear.

“If I asked you to stay, to forget about all that other bullshit that’s going on, just be here and in the now… with me, would you?

I shook my head no. No matter how good he looked, or felt, or tasted. I couldn’t do it, I wouldn’t.

“You had a girlfriend. At least you did yesterday as far as I’m aware. And I had a fiancé. Trying to get over him by getting under you might have been a ton of fun, but in the harsh light of day I’d hate myself for it. And you would too, taking advantage of your drunk and emotionally fucked up director. Not great options, huh?” I said buttoning up the side of my dress that Eric had made a start on getting off me.

I moved his hand from the door and he let me. For a guy his size and strength his hands were incredibly soft.

“Let’s just file this under a lesson learned and move on, shall we?” I said.

“What if I don’t want to do that?”

“Then… I don’t know, Eric. I don’t know what to tell you. But you and I aren’t going to happen. Not now, not ever. I have too much at stake right now and this drama, this stupid cliqued drama … no, just no.”

“So let me get this straight, you want me, but you don’t want me? You know I want you, but you don’t want me to want you?”

“Exactly. The only thing I want from you is for you to do your job, not me. Are we clear?” I said, clipped and holding back the necessary reaction to want to gag.

Alcohol is evil.

He just chewed his lip and nodded, not saying anything else as I opened his door and swiftly took my leave. I’d stepped one foot out into the hall only to be greeted by Andrews, one of the other Marine actors.

“Oh. Wow. I uh… sorry boss. I’m interrupting something?” he asked, a cocky smile on his annoying as fuck face.

“No, far from it. I was just talking with Eric. We’d had a few drinks at the bar in town; you guys should have come down,” I lied.

“Oh, sure. I think I heard one of the guys mentioning it. Well, um, have a good rest of the night?” he said awkwardly as we both passed each other.

Great. I knew it would be around set in the morning like wildfire that Eric and I were fucking. Even if in reality, fucking was the last thing he and I were doing. Unless you counted fucking with each other’s heads. Though I don’t think you would. I didn’t.

Ugh. I just wanted to die. That’s how I felt. Horrible and death bound and maybe that’s what I deserved.

EPOV:

The last week of production was a shambles. I mean, we got all the shots we needed, and the backers were still very pleased with our work; the network was thrilled and our bosses’ boss was also saying good things. But that wasn’t the main problem. Sookie was my main problem. Everyone’s problem, really. The pressure of the production had gotten to her and she’d been in constant bitch mode most of the last week. Till the last day, when Lafayette had gotten over his sickness and they’d spent most of the day’s shooting catching up on his exterior shots, with and without me. She was smiling; she was relieved. She was still the bitch that rejected me though, and I reserved the right to still be angry about that.

It stung. It stung more than it should have, if I’m honest. If I had been used to women rejecting me, it might have been easier to deal with, but as cocky as it sounds, I wasn’t. And I certainly wasn’t used to feeling more for a woman initially than she felt for me. I was the one in charge, I was the one who held all the cards. Except she had the cards and she’d shuffled them. In fact, she’d done everything but throw the deck out completely. That night was a hard reality to face. She had her rules and drunk or not, she was sticking to them. And as much as I wanted to lure her back to that big comfy bed and persuade her to break that rule, I knew I couldn’t. Sookie wasn’t like the other women I’d found myself sexually attracted to. First off, she was smarter than me—and that was terrifying in itself—but she was also hotter than me. And if I was honest, far more talented. It wasn’t me blowing smoke up her ass because I’d never told her that I’d thought any of those things. But they were true. She had more to give than I did and that shocked me too.

Our final night in Africa consisted of a cast and crew dinner. Sookie treated all the local staff members and their spouses to gifts for spa days, and various vouchers for things that they all seemed to appreciate. For the cast she’d done the same, but for things back in LA. She thanked everyone, apologized profusely for her crazy ass behavior and just for good measure thanked them again. She and I hadn’t spoken outside of her giving me direction on set since the night of the epic rejection. Bruised ego and the inability to quit meant that I did what I could, which wasn’t to speak.

She was clearly frustrated by it, but I didn’t really care one way or another. Our production was at an end for three weeks, after which we’d shoot interiors in LA for two weeks, then, that was it. We were done. We’d never have to see each other again. I’d almost hoped that that was the truth.

Not a word was spoken between us until it was necessary. Hoyt wanted to sit with Jessica on the plane ride back. Of course he did. They’d barely left each other’s side for days, so of course they’d want to be disgustingly cute together on a plane. I rolled my eyes and agreed. Leaving me next to Sookie for the next twenty hours.

Oh, awesome.

I read, I wrote, I listened to my iPod a lot. I avoided eye contact with her a lot too, though I wasn’t above sneaking the odd glance here and there to see if she was doing the same. I never caught her if she was.

About three hours in, I gave up, popped one very large sleeping pill and pulled down my chair into the bed as it was designed.

We were California bound and I for one couldn’t wait to get away from all things Stackhouse, clear my head and just be with everything that was familiar again.

I’d worry that I was living in a hotel room, with no place to really call ‘home’ when I woke up.

SPOV:

The last few days shooting on location were, as expected, a total nightmare. Somehow we all survived to tell the tale, sanity a little less intact than before, but we were all in one piece. Some of us a little thinner, some of us a little in love, and some of us a little in hell. Jessica asked if it was cool with me if Eric and she switched seats, so that she and Hoyt could be together on the flight. I wasn’t going to deny her. Since production was wrapped, I’d booked them both a spa weekend in Napa just like everyone else. I had hated myself for being so sharp with her that night since it wasn’t her fault that I was a raging loon. So of course, I agreed, but the awkwardness between Eric and me was almost smothering. He was still refusing to talk to me. And other than excuse me, and thank you, I hadn’t said anything to him either. Apparently, we were both as stubborn as mules in a field, as Jessica would say.

For hours we both focused on everything else but each other, or that buzzing tension that I swear I could almost feel like a force field between us. He went to sleep a few hours in and to be honest, with the sheer physical and mental exhaustion that I’d experienced in the previous few weeks, I wasn’t that far behind him. Twice I’d slept with him, and twice neither of us got that release we’d both been desperately craving, and why? Well, apparently I just liked to make things difficult on myself, that’s why. Never could I just choose the easy option, no. I had to make things horrifically bad before I decided that hey, maybe enough was enough and maybe just gliding through life on my father’s fame, or his money, or hell, even my money would be enough. But no. Or maybe marrying Alcide like he wanted, but again, no. Too easy, too safe, too loving. I knew he’d love me all my life if I were to be his wife, the mother of his children, safe, warm, secure. But did I choose that option? No. because, well I’m beginning to think I’m an idiot, all things considered.

I woke up just as the flight attendant was serving dinner, which meant we were about four hours from landing. I’d slept a long time.

I shook myself awake noting that Eric was already eating. So, I attempted to talk.

“Is the food better than it was on the way here?”

“It’s airplane food. It’s never good, but it does what it’s meant to,” he said not looking up from his plate.

“I guess… can you pass me that napkin, please?” I asked since he had six on his side. He passed it to me without looking at me. And I’d had about enough.

“This is ridiculous. You know that, right?”

“What’s that, the chicken?”

“You know what I’m talking about…”

He scoffed but carried on eating.

“Eric, I’m sorry if I bruised your over inflated ego or whatever but I’m your boss for fuck’s sake. I mean, what kind of message would that send? You know as well as I do what a mistake—” I whispered harshly.

“Fine, Sookie. Fine. It would have been a mistake. Is that what you want to hear? Let’s move on!” he snapped.

“Yes, fine let’s move on. I’d like us to at least be civil to each other. Before that night you and I were … I don’t know, it felt like we were becoming friends.”

“No,” he said, chewing.

“No?”

“No, we weren’t friends. I don’t think we’ve been ‘friends’ since I was thirteen-years-old. You were my boss. I didn’t want to fuck up this opportunity so I was nice to you. That’s all.”

It stung I had to admit, but I guess this was just his way of protecting himself. I’d bruised his ego, he was trying to do the same. An eye for an eye and all that.

“I see.”

“Mmm… So now that you’re not my boss, for the next three weeks at least, I don’t have to give a shit what you think or what you do. It’s very freeing.”

Asshole.

“I’m sure it is,” I said stabbing the shit out of my chicken. “And you know since you won’t be working for almost a whole month, feel free to go be with your girlfriend. You know. the one you conveniently forgot about the other night.”

He just smirked looking at me finally.

“Yeah, you know I think I just might. I think that’s exactly what I’ll do, because at least she’s the one person that I know actually wants me, and won’t be a neurotic little tease like some people I know.”

“Oh, my fucking God! You are a child you know that? An actual overgrown child. Tease? Are you shitting me? So what, I rejected you. That’s life Eric. And, you have a girlfriend. How is that not an issue here? I mean, do you usually just go around fucking around on your girlfriends? Because if so, you have more issues than even I do. That’s shitty, even if she is a completely vapid life-size Barbie doll. No one deserves that.”

“It’s funny how you can insult and defend her all at once.”

“Well, I’m a woman, we multitask. What I can say?”

“Yeah, you managed to be a bitch and a messed up tease all at once, too. It’s quite an accomplishment.”

“Well, you know you can do it, too. I mean, you’ve been managing just fine all these years to be a fuck up and a self-pitying asshole all at once so there might be hope for your multitasking skills yet,” I bitched back. If he could hit below the belt, so could I.

The next three hours and twenty-nine minutes were the longest of my life. When we finally touched down, I sighed to myself packing away my books into my carry on case, before shoving past Eric in an attempt to get as far away from his condescending ass as possible. It wasn’t to be though, since we met again at baggage claim, Hoyt and Jessica in tow.

“Jess, you ready?”

We walked out and were met, rather shockingly by a wall of flashing cameras.

What the actual fuck?

“Miss Stackhouse?” I heard through all the yelling. “Andre. Pam sent me to pick you and your assistant up. This way please,” he said as six guys with cameras continued to follow all four of us to the parking area. The questions were insane.

“Are you and Eric sleeping together?” ” Are you back to acting now, is it because of Eric?” “Eric did you cheat on Sandy? We’ve seen her crying…”

“Sweet Jesus,” I said as I grabbed Jessica’s hand and yanked her along with me.

“Was the production in trouble, Sookie?”

“Are you two dating now? The Internet is buzzing. Everyone wants it guys!”

By the time we got into the blacked out SUV, Eric and Hoyt had gotten into the one in front.

“What the fuck was that?” I asked the driver, Andre.

“You haven’t seen the blogs, then?”

“No, I’ve been on a plane for the last day. What’s going on.”

“I work for Pam, Sookie. I’m one of her assistants. It’s nice to finally meet you,” he said, smiling as we took off out of the airport and onto the road.

“Sorry, nice to meet you, too. Now, please?”

“There were photos of you and Eric, leaked to the web last night. That’s what they’re talking about.”

“From set?” I knew about those. How was that a big deal?

“No, it looks like it was in a public street. It’s why we can’t get them taken down.”

“What kind of photos?” Jessica asked, finally regaining some of her color. Poor girl was stunned.

“Um, it… I believe you and Mr. Northman were in a rather compromising position…” he said.

I was baffled and Jessica just blushed.

“How compromising?” I asked.

“They were grainy, it was dark and the lighting was bad but it’s obvious it’s him, not so obvious it’s you. But what is obvious is the passionate kissing that was going on between Mr. Northman and his mystery girl, since his girlfriend was seen leaving the airport departing for LAX just hours before… It’s been all over the entertainment news channels, too. It’s quite the scandal, Ms Stackhouse.”

Well, fuck.

Not exactly the quite peaceful homecoming I’d hoped for then?

A/N: *Evil laugh I haz one* Muhahaha. Sorry for the angst… well that’s a lie I’m really not sorry, hehe. Anyways hit the little button if you want, let me know what you’re thinking! Back at work today so life resumes again and the updates might slow down, but then again, given enough caffeine…. Who knows! Xoxo


Chapter 9: Chapter 9


EPOV:

Getting through the airport was a circus, to say the least. I had no idea how they’d known we were on that flight or when we were arriving, but there they were shouting embarrassing questions left and right. It was mortifying. It was always mortifying when I was in public and it happened like that. I hated being a sceptical. On screen, sure I’d be willing to do and say anything, but not when I was just being me. It was too awkward. They seemed to think they had a right—just because the law was technically on their side—to walk up with a camera, ask you invading personal questions for other people’s so called ‘entertainment’ and sell you out for thousands of dollars at a time. I knew there were deals made; this town lived and breathed on shady deals. Bill had tried to set it up a number of times to catch me a certain place, or with certain people to get buzz surrounding my name again. I never agreed to it since I hated the idea of selling out like that. But, just because I didn’t agree to it doesn’t mean, and didn’t mean, the people closest to me shared my thoughts on the matter.

I exhaled when we finally reached the car—our driver being a friend of mine who I used to share a house with, before he decided that getting married and making babies was the way he wanted to go with his life. Godric and I had known each other since we were little kids. He was from Denmark originally, but moved to Sweden when he was eight. We’d met at school before I fell into the whole acting thing. He’d applied to university in Boston, and had been here ever since.

“What did you do?” he asked me, without even saying hello first.

“What?”

“Or should I say who did you do? Dude, it’s all over the media right now. You and some blonde chick—who isn’t your departing on a jet plane girlfriend, by the way—making out up against some wall somewhere in Africa.”

Oh, shit. Not good, not good at all.

I told Hoyt to find the pictures on his phone, and while he was doing that I made Godric tell me everything he knew. Apparently, someone had taken snaps of Sookie and I on a cell phone and shopped them to an American photo agency. Even though they were—as I could finally see—just yellow toned and grainy, you could tell it was me, but Sookie was mostly covered by me. But still, we knew it was me, that’s for sure. And if we did, they did; and if they did, Sandy did; and if Sandy did… it explains why the paps have seen her ‘crying.’ I’m guessing there was a shopping trip with the stylist before she shed those magical heartbroken tears.

“Jesus,” I said, frustrated more than anything else as I hit two on my speed dial. Bill answered on the third ring.

“What the fuck? Why didn’t you pull these?”

“Why would I pull them? This is the most press you’ve gotten in years! Do you know how many offers are coming in for you right now?”

“For what exactly?”

“Two offers of endorsement deals for aftershave and three movie ideas—two with scripts being sent to your P.O. Box as we speak.”

“What kind of movies exactly, Bill.”

“I don’t know. One might be a rom-com and the other… is a sci-fi thriller set in outer space.”

He had to be kidding.

“Well, just like the other nine hundred rom-coms that I’ve been offered in the last three years, it will also be a ‘no’ and are you kidding me with the second pitch? Really, Bill. This isn’t what I want. I have a lot of thinking to do but right now, damage control this please. Do not fan the fire.”

“You sure? It’s getting a lot of attention.”

“Yeah, and the fact that you think this is a good thing is one of the reasons I’m considering firing you. Don’t make this worse than it is.”

I hung up and let my head fall back against the headrest. I was jetlagged and fucked. I had a lot to do in the next three weeks. It was time to attempt to become that grownup I had been avoiding for a long time. I needed to get my shit together.

First on that list was moving out of the overpriced hotel and into a house of some sort. I needed something central, so my love of the beach was probably off the cards for now.

I’d left Hoyt with a list of specifications and some real-estate people that I knew. I’d want something to rent with an option to buy, just in case I changed my mind.

For two days I didn’t do much else other than sleep, eat and avoid any and all forms of the Internet. I didn’t even check my email. It was times like these that I enjoyed living in the hotel. I didn’t have to leave the villa for anything, not even food. I knew it was a nomadic existence—a rather expensive, ridiculous nomadic existence—but one all the same.

My father had been the source of much debate when it came to my life choices, especially of late. He had opted to move back to Sweden when he and my mother divorced. My mother on the other hand, had decided that the New York way of living suited her to a tee. Since she’d met and married one of the wall street terrorists, who as far as I was concerned practically bathed in money. She was happy in her high-rise penthouse, and my father was happy in his cottage on Stor Sjo Lake. Their lives could not be more different now, and honestly though I was sure of the two, my father was the most satisfied with his life—his new wife and baby daughter. My sister Lena would be about a year old now, and I still haven’t seen her in person. I felt horrible about that fact. She only knew her big brother via web chats and photos.

I’d have to fix that too, and soon. The realization that Sookie was right was like a swift kick in the balls. I had ignored how much of a shambles my life had become, I’d ignored it when it all cracked and now it was like a house falling down around me. I’d grown distant from my family, I’d grown distant from my real friends, and she was right, my life was a clusterfuck.

SPOV:

The first few days after I got back, I was more than a little intimidated I have to admit. I didn’t want to leave the house because I knew there were guys with cameras outside waiting to pounce on me like a hunter in the wild. It really shook me up if I was being honest. It was a type of invasion of privacy that I hadn’t been at all prepared for.

With my father’s fame, it had all been so different. He was of a different generation of actors, he was a quiet man, kept to himself when he wasn’t on set or promoting his work. Two things he hadn’t done since I had quit acting. He and my mother divorced not long after I quit. She was a theatre actress, and he was the big Hollywood movie star. She was the carefree bohemian, LSD lovin’, hemp skirt wearing hippy, and my father was the responsible one, the one that was my actual parent. So when I quit, I guess he did too in a sense. He wanted to give his only child a normal life, and he did, and he did it extremely well. He didn’t quit working completely, however. He’d written various screenplays over the years and sold them off—two of which became huge Oscar winners for those who had bought them. But he had turned down countless productions that were offered, too. I felt bad for him, but he had assured me that it had been time. He didn’t want to ‘outwear his welcome’ as he’d put it. One of the first things I did when I got back home to LA was to call him. We’d call each other every night when I wasn’t working or in school late. It was such a relieving comfort just to hear his voice.

“And it was horrible?” he asked as I laid down.

“I just think that maybe you were right, maybe I should have given the directorial rights to someone else. It was too much for my first project daddy. I was a wreck.”

“But the dailies you sent me looked amazing, Sookie. I told you that, and I know what I said at first, but I am glad you did it. You followed your dream and you achieved it, dear girl.”

“It’s not over yet.”

“Ah yes. Well, I see you and Mr. Northman have been getting … closer.”

“Daddy!”

“What? Sweetheart, I told you I’m hip and with it. We can even Skype now if you’d like.”

“You got a web cam? And please don’t say hip, unless it’s followed by the word replacement.”

“Yes! Maria set it up for me. I’ve been talking to friends of mine in Los Angeles and everything, and might I add, Max Anders looks old now. It was shocking.”

Max was head of one of the biggest production studios in the business. He and my father had know each other a long time.

“That’s because he is an old, old man.”

“Less of the old man, my yoga keeps me young.”

Oh dear God. It had been an unforgettable morning when I was sixteen, walking to my living room to find my father, his housekeeper Maria and her daughter Amelia all standing on their heads. It was the beginning of my fathers obsession with his health. Not that I was complaining that he ditched the three bottles of wine a night habit, but it was still funny to think about my dad ‘imagining himself as tree’ and stuff.

I giggled.

“How are you now?” he asked.

“Sleepy. I miss you,” I said mid yawn.

“How soon can you come home for a visit then? You know you always feel better after you’ve been here for a few weeks.”

“True. I guess I could fly out after we wrap completely. After that I’m pretty much done with it until we have to promote, assuming we get picked up of course.”

“Of course. Well, I think you need to come see your old man. And Maria misses you.”

Maria had been our housekeeper since we’d moved to France. Though, if you asked me, she loved my dad more than her job. I often wondered if they’d ever get their heads out of their asses long enough to realize it.

“I miss her, too. How is she?”

“She’s well. She’s missing Amelia, too. It seems America is destined to steal our daughters.”

Amelia was now a full-fledged lawyer working out of Boston, and the winner in our current poke war on Facebook.

“Sookie, how do you feel about the acting thing again now that you’ve dipped your toes in the waters after so long?”

Ah, the million dollar question.

“I missed it,” I admitted, “But I want this to be fun. It should have always been fun first and foremost. I mean, it’s disgustingly hard work at times, but I want fun and joy to be my motivation.”

“What, not money or reputation?” he faked a gasp.

“No. I mean, I don’t want a reputation as a shitty actress or anything, but realistically as long as I do my best and strive to be better, what they think of me… can’t matter, right?”

“Just realize that it’s a job. It’s an art form yes, but at the end of the day it’s a job and everyone does their job so that you can do yours. It would be the same if you were the key grip or the janitor. You’re replaceable, but once you have a job just work hard at it.”

I nodded.

“We’ll see if I get any audition offers, and if not, then it’s not the end of the world, I guess.”

“Good. Now tell me all about this Eric Northman and why you were kissing him when he has a girlfriend?”

“Oh… um… How’d you know it was me? Most people only suspect; they can’t really tell.”

“Please! I’d know you anywhere, even blurry and orange and with lips attached to a Swede.” He laughed. “It’s not like you to cheat or be an accomplice to cheating Sookie.”

“I wasn’t cheating. Alcide and I are over daddy.” Maybe I should have opened with that news? Hm. The fact that I didn’t just pointed out to me just what a non-priority my relationship was. I found myself saddened by that revelation.

“I see, and is Eric the reason why?”

“What? Oh, God no. Dad he and I were just … Okay, Alcide and I we were just growing apart for a long time and neither of us wanted to be the one to break it off… Well, okay that’s a lie. I knew he wanted to marry me but dad, you know me, I don’t know if marriage is something I’m built for.”

I heard him sigh before he began, “I should have provided you with better examples of relationships growing up. It’s my fault that you fear commitment.”

“Daddy, no, it’s not your fault. Not at all!”

“There are studies, daughter!”

“Yes, dad I’m sure there are many studies on how parents ultimately screw up their kids, and then their kids screw up their kids, and it’s the circle of blah, blah, blah. Point is, I’m fine just how I am and that’s because of you. Just because the idea of getting married and having kids isn’t my thing doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Hell, I’m only twenty-three. I have almost twenty years before I have to start freaking out about kids.”

“I’m not saying go get pregnant tomorrow sweetheart, but family is important.”

“I know that, but look at Maria, she’s family and she’s not even blood. Does that mean we love her any less? No. So family comes in all shapes and sizes, and it’s not something I’m worried about right now.”

“Okay, okay I’ll give up for now. You still haven’t explained the Eric thing.”

“Do you really want me to?”

“As long as you know what you’re doing, that’s all.”

I didn’t know what I was doing. Far from it, really.

“It’s fine, dad. There’s nothing going on between us and that’s just how it has to be.”

“Because of his girlfriend?”

“Partly, but even if she wasn’t part of the picture, Eric and I … we’re like oil and vinegar.”

“What? Stick you both in a pan and you have a great base for cooking meat?”

“Daddy…” I whined.

“Fine, fine. Look, all I remember of Eric Northman was that funny, playful, candy filled thirteen-year-old boy. I don’t know him as a man, but really we’re not all that different on the inside.”

“Are you saying every man is basically a thirteen-year-old boy?”

“Basically, yes,” he laughed. “Just relax darling. Whatever will happen, will happen.”

“You’re starting to sound like mom.”

He scoffed. “Oh, never ever. I’m not that far gone yet.”

That was the thing with my parents, they fought like cats and dogs when they were married, but now that they weren’t, they’d become the weirdest couple of friends that I’d ever seen. I enjoyed them more relaxed with one another, though. Before when the one was trying to squeeze the other into their lifestyle when it clearly wasn’t a fit, there was nothing but explosives left and right, and not the fun kind either.

I’d agreed to go to Paris to see my Dad in three weeks from our phone call. By then the project would be wrapped completely and my stress would be on hold until we got picked up. And if we didn’t? Well, there was a pint of ice cream waiting in my freezer along with a very large bottle of vodka in the fridge. I’d get fat and drunk and wallow quite happily in my failure if it should happen that way.

I decided, however, that three days of being a hostage in my new home wasn’t how I was going to let things roll. So Jessica and I were going shopping, and to get our hair done. To do that, we had to leave the house. According to Pam, the ‘scandal’ was still running on all the gossip sites and what have you. Eric hadn’t commented, and shockingly neither had Sandy. That didn’t stop them from waiting for me to say something and everyday Jess would come over, they’d be there. We’d decided that Jessica would move into the pool house. She was currently sharing a two bedroom apartment with three other girls, so having a whole house—albeit a pool house—all to herself was something she jumped at. That, and when I didn’t need her to work for me, it gave her privacy and apparently Hoyt, too. As soon as we got out of the car to go wander around the shops, the paparazzi were right next to us. I was anxious and it probably showed, but I decided that I couldn’t make them leave me alone, so like any bad situation, I attempted to make the best of it.

“Hi, what’s your name?” I asked the heavier one in the black t-shirt.

“You don’t want to know my name. Having a good day so far, Sookie?” he asked.

“I do. I mean, you’re both following me and I don’t know who you are, so gimme a name and I might give you an answer,” I said.

Jessica laughed while we tried not to trip over them was they walked backwards in front of us.

“Chris and that’s Dave.”

“Hi Chris and Dave. Now, I know those cameras have really long lenses, so do you really need to be this close to us?” I said, and shockingly he stood back a few feet. Not by much and he was still very much a nuisance, but it was an improvement from being up in our faces so close.

“Thank you for trying,” I rolled my eyes.

“So what’s the deal with you and Eric Northman?” he asked, and I fought the urge to roll my eyes underneath my sunglasses.

“No deal at all. Why do you ask?”

“Oh, there’s just these rumors…”

“And you believe everything you hear, sweetie?” I pulled out the sweetie card, and I couldn’t even believe my own ears. I was treating this grown man like he was a toddler. It dawned on me that perhaps that’s how Pam was handling me, too. I’d need to have a word with her about that.

“Well, no,” he answered.

“Smart. Keep not believing, because most of what you hear, especially in this town, is total B.S.”

We entered Sephora were we knew they couldn’t follow.

“God, Sookie that’s so crazy. Does it make you feel weird?”

“Two dudes we don’t know are following us with video cameras, what do you think?” I said offering her a lip-gloss tester.

“I know, but it wasn’t like this for you before, right?”

“No. I was a little kid then, and besides the whole paparazzi-celebrity obsession thing didn’t blow up till the early 2000s anyways. I missed the boom,” I smiled.

“Can you deal with it now?”

I shrugged.

“It’s not like I have much choice right now. I mean, they do what they do and I do what I do. I don’t have to be nice to them but I have a feeling that these guys are just guys—bored and out to make a buck. A little like a person working at McDonalds—if at McDonalds, you got up to thirty five grand for a day’s work. But either way, they’re just people and I won’t be rude to them unless they’re rude to me. No sense in having angry stalkers when you could have nice ones,” I rationalized, while blowing a hefty chunk of change on beauty products before treating Jessica to a few things she’s never tried before.

I got a call while we were seated at a café on Wilshire. It was Eric. At first, I was hesitant to even answer it, but I didn’t want to be rude completely considering I did have to see him again, and there was no use in continuing the plane ride from hell. And maybe he thought so too, since was calling.

“Hello?”

“Hi. It’s Eric.”

Duh?

“Hi. What can I do for you?”

“Well, ordering me two coffees and some red velvet cake would be good.”

“Excuse me?” But before he could answer I felt a tap on my shoulder. Squinting as I looked around caught by the sun, was a very tall Eric and an equally as tall, Hoyt. Hoyt went straight for Jessica after a quick ‘hey.’ Eric on the other hand pulled up a chair next to me.

“Um, we just ordered lunch so…”

Go away.

“Great, we were just about to do the same. I’ve never eaten here before. It was Hoyt’s idea,” he said looking over the menu.

Hoyt, who I’m sure was texting Jessica all morning and about ten seconds before they arrived. She and I would have to have a few words about telling me these things.

“Oh. Um, well, I mean it… You couldn’t say two civil words to me on that plane. Why would you want to have lunch with us?”

” Well, I want to have lunch. Lady and The Tramp over here can’t seem to stop talking to each other and his texting was starting to piss me off. So by doing this, I kill two birds with one stone. I eat and he stops the beeping noises and might actually pay attention when I talk to him,” he said, glancing at them, but they were deep in conversation. “Or, maybe not,” he sighed. “What’s good here?”

“I don’t know what you’re into, but I’m having the rack of lamb.”

“For lunch?” he asked his brows knitted together.

“Yes… Do you have an issue with that?”

“What? No! No, not at all! I just…”

“What?” I challenged him. If he called me fat or big boned, I didn’t care if there were paparazzi somewhere around—though I couldn’t see them from where we were—I would kick his ass.

“I’m just not used to girls you know…”

“Eating solid foods? Yeah, it must suck for you…” I rolled my eyes.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you. I think it’s great that you actually eat and stay so hot.”

I’d be ignoring the hot comment in favor of still hating him. Even if it did boost my stupid pride.

“Just pick something so we can order already. Jess?” I said and she and Hoyt finally sat a reasonable distance apart. Honestly, I was kind of hoping they’d just have sex so that I wouldn’t have to listen to her ramble on and on and on about how romantic and amazing he was. If she was preoccupied with sex then maybe we could move on. Though knowing my luck, I’d probably have to listen to every detail of their sex lives, too. That, I was not looking forward to.

Everyone ordered and the four of us made chit chat before we tucked into our food. Blackberries were ignored, and talking ceased. Food was the weapon of choice.

“I’m sorry about the airport. And I’m sorry about the pictures,” Eric said out of the blue.

I really just didn’t want to talk about that—not now and possibly not ever.

“Don’t worry about it. It’s not like you planned it…. You didn’t, right?”

“Of course not.”

“Did she?” I referred to Sandy.

“I don’t think so. She said she knew nothing about it, and was pretty pissed at me for making out with another girl.”

“Does she know it was me?”

There was no use pretending with our assistants. They knew everything about our lives practically at this point anyway.

“No, I just said it was some girl.”

“Thanks.”

“It’s not like that, I just—”

“I get it, it’s fine. The way I see it, it’s a blip on the radar, and we should move on.”

“You tend to move on from things pretty fast, Sookie,” Eric commented as he chewed his lamb. “I mean, with us, it was dismissed and forgotten about in a heartbeat, and apparently with Alcide, too.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said sipping my drink.

“I think I do. You compartmentalize—a lot, from the looks of things.”

“You’re kidding right? We’re actors, it’s what we do, everyday.”

“In a role, sure. But not in real life. It’s mentally exhausting.”

“Well, maybe for the mentally weak it is, but I’m fine, thank you very much.”

He just smirked and nodded. And apparently the subject was closed. I hated that he could wind my temper up so easily. Whatever it was about it, when I was around him I had this urge to do physical harm to things, mostly him and his stupid pretty face and his stupid attractive torso.

Hoyt and Jessica were busy making plans for their date that night. Apparently bowling was their choice.

“You guys can come if you’d like?” she offered to Eric and I, and we looked at each other before we both answered with a hearty, “No.”

“Oh hey guys, I mean, I know you two are all like mad at each other and radiating sexual tension an’ all,” Hoyt began, “But you really should try and get over your issues…”

“Why?” Eric asked him sharply.

“Well, I don’t know about you Eric but I really like to be civil and pleasant with my next door neighbors. I mean, you never know when you might need to knock on their door—”

“I’m sorry, what?” Eric said to him again.

“Oh right, I forgot to tell you, the house you just signed off on? It’s right next door… to Sookie’s.”

Oh, you have GOT to be kidding me!

A/N: Hi all! Few days break this time, work took over and wore me out, but here we have nine! Hope you enjoyed! Let me know! Reviews are love! xox


Chapter 10: Chapter 10


SPOV:

I was livid, to say the least, and by the look on Eric’s face, he wasn’t far behind me.

“Jessica, come with me to the ladies room please,” I said slamming down my napkin and walking to the back of the café.

Once we got inside, I stood there with my hands on my hips.

“I’m so, so, so sorry, Sookie. It wasn’t planned. Really, I promise!”

“Yeah right!”

“No. I mean it! What happened was Hoyt mentioned to me that Eric was looking for a place, and well, I mentioned that the big house next to yours was available. And I guess they were listing houses together to look at… and Eric really liked the one next door. Hoyt didn’t tell him you lived there because he just seemed to fall in love with the house, and really, there are big gates … you might never even have to see him!”

“Jessica that’s SO not the freakin’ point! They show up here with us, after those guys who … by the way might still be following us, and they are asking about him and I! Then, he moves into a house next door to me? That’s very suspect, don’t you think?”

“I thought you didn’t care what they thought about you? And you said nothing is going on so what should it matter?”

“I don’t… I don’t usually, but this is just… so weird, Jessica! We aren’t going to be friends, Eric and I. There’s too much harshness there.”

“I see it as sexual tension.” She smiled.

“You aren’t funny,” I dead panned. “Ugh.” I ran my hands through my hair pulling it into a ponytail.

I shook myself. Maybe I was just overreacting?

“I can be civil, but that’s it, Jessica. No more sneak attacks like this. If this is your idea of match making, it stops, now!”

She nodded a ‘yes’ before I went into fix my lipstick.

“I’m sorry if it’s freaked you out, Sookie,” she said washing her hands.

“It did, but I mean if you guys say he wasn’t manipulated into taking the house, then I believe you. And really you’re right, we might never even see each other, and after the wrap party we’re done working together…” I waved my hand in dismal.

“Until you have to promote it with him.”

“That’s even if we get the green light, which we still might not. In this economy …”

“Sookie, you know the work is good, we all know the work is good, and honestly whatever magical hate you and Eric have for each other? It’s explosive on screen. Everyone was floored by how amazing you two acted off the other. The whole set was talking about it, so you know the studios will be, too.”

“I guess… Can we just go?”

“Um, well, Hoyt wants to maybe just hangout for a little while. So, I was thinking if you’re not busy and don’t need me—”

Her big in love puppy dog eyes won me over. “It’s fine. Go ahead.”

“But if you need me for anything I can totally stay. I mean it. I don’t want to be slacking on the job.”

“Today was your day off anyway, remember?”

“Oh, right… huh. Well, okay then. Now I don’t feel so bad about ditching you,” she laughed.

“Don’t. I’m just going to go home and chill out, maybe cook later, maybe not. I have a thousand emails to catch up on and I haven’t been on Twitter in days.”

I’d been avoiding it for fear of hate mail in all honesty, but, it was time to face the music.

“Shouldn’t I be doing that for you? The email, I mean?”

“You’re not taking my Blackberry away from me!” I laughed as we made our way back outside. As we did, Hoyt and Eric were in deep discussion, and I was right, Eric looked about as happy as I had, as in, not very much at all.

“Um, we’re just… well, I’m just going to go. Hoyt, it was great seeing you again,” I said as he stood up to kiss my cheek like a sweetheart. “Take care of Jessica, please. Feed her; she never eats.” I laughed since she’d had all of two bites of her sandwich because she was so enthralled with her new boy.

“Eric.” I nodded. Thankfully he just stood up, making no motion to copy Hoyt’s goodbye, which I thought to be a good thing.

“Yeah, I think I’ll head off too. I mean, if the two love birds,” He looked at the couple, “Are just going to be heart-eyed at each other all day long, I can find better things to do with my time.” Hoyt just shrugged as Eric gave him the car keys. He attempted to argue with me over the bill—they all did—but I told the love birds to scram and Eric and I quietly argued it out.

“Eric, really give it up and let me pay.”

“Oops, sorry… can’t.”

“And why not? Some wounded male pride thing?”

He cocked an eyebrow at me. “No, smartass. I gave the waitress my card while you were … I’m assuming, bitching out your assistant.”

Sneaky.

“Fine. I’ll just leave her, her biggest tip of the day,” I said plonking down the cash that covered the cost of the four lunches. I’d never been a waitress—I’d never had to be—but I could imagine how much it sucked, especially in this town where “asshole” was as common as “blonde.”

“I bet she’ll love you next time you come in.”

I smiled, smugly.

“Hmmm, well, most people do. I’ll be seeing you, Eric,” I said slinging my purse strap across my body.

We both left the side of the restaurant at the same time—he went left and I went right—and wouldn’t you know it, there were the paparazzi guys again. Lurking and popping up out of nowhere like ninjas, obese ninjas, but still just as deadly, since I almost had a heart attack.

“Jesus, you people just appear!” I said.

“Sorry if we scared you, Sookie. How was lunch with Eric?”

Ah, so they did see us.

“Accidental, that’s how it was.”

“Aw come on, just admit you two are dating.”

“But that would be a lie,” I smiled making my way to my car. “A really big lie as I’m not dating anyone.”

“What? Why? You’re hot.”

I just laughed as I reached my shiny red rental car.

“Have a good day, guys. Pick someone else to follow now, okay?” I asked, hopeful if nothing else.

I rounded the corner, losing them finally. I exhaled a breath I didn’t even realize I’d been holding. I was just about to turn up my radio for a good ole sing along, when I spotted Eric walking.

I pulled up along side him and slowed down on the empty side road. “Why are you walking?”

“I gave Hoyt my car, remember? It’s fine. The hotel isn’t that far from here.”

“Need a ride?”

“Not to the hotel, but do you want to see my new house?” he asked, a hopeful smile on his ridiculously pretty face. Even under sunglasses and day old scruff, he was still a disgustingly adorable looking man. It’s just a pity he didn’t have an attitude to match it when it came to me. Or, that I didn’t have an Eric button he seemed to push by doing the least little thing resulting in my anger and blood pressure accelerating. I thought about his question for a second as he bounced on his heels outside my car. And if I could be nice to random stalkers with a camera, I could try and be nice to Eric, too.

“Sure, why not.” It wasn’t to say my day was so jam packed that I couldn’t congratulate him on becoming an adult and moving into a proper home.

I still needed my GPS to get me around. What can I say, I had a really shitty sense of direction—both in life and on the road it seemed. Eric slid into the car easily before strapping on his seatbelt.

“I’d ask if you knew the way, but … yeah,” he grinned.

“I suck at directions, okay? GPS is my best friend.”

“And your Blackberry, and your iPod, and your laptop…” he teased.

“So, I have an addiction to technology, so what? Some people drink, some people do drugs, I shop for things to hook me to the Internet.”

“You’d like my friend, Godric. He’s the same. He has like every tech toy under the sun. It’s worrisome,” he laughed.

We’d reached the neighborhood in record time. This time, for a change, the GPS lady didn’t try to kill me. It was an improvement.

I pulled my car into my own driveway before Eric and I made our way over to his new place. He punched the code into the gate and we walked up the path to his front door. On first impressions it was… well… impressive. Beautifully structured, lots of space, clean lines. It was a beautiful home.

“I really love it. It’s a lot more than I’m used to but I think it’ll help having Hoyt here and maybe Godric too, I guess. I mean, it’s not like I don’t like living alone. I do. I did. It’s just… well, it’s a little lonely sometimes, that’s all.” I was rather shocked he said it as he showed me around room to room. “The backyard is pretty private but we are close to each other, and the wall isn’t that tall. Will that be a problem for you?”

“Me? No, why would it be?”

“I like to hangout outside a lot. I guess I just don’t want to piss off my new neighbor,” he said with a wink.

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that. You piss me off all the time anyway. Being in your yard shouldn’t really make that much of a difference.” I smiled at him smugly as we walked down the long hallway. “It’s a beautiful place, Eric. I hope you’re happy here.”

He nodded. “I hope so, too. I need to move all my stuff out of storage in the next few days, so I should be all moved in before we get back to filming.”

“Well, ‘we’ only have two more scenes together, but if I’m honest, I’ll be glad when it’s in the can.”

“I saw how stressed out you were… I didn’t want to say anything because—”

“Because the guys are sexist assholes who just assumed I didn’t know what I was talking about or what I was doing.”

“You proved them wrong, though.”

I laughed. “Did I? I don’t know.”

“Based on dailies alone, I’d definitely say you did. It looks amazing.”

“We’ll see, I guess,” I said lingering by his kitchen door, the awkwardness filling the room like water from a flood. “Anyway, I really should be going. My stuff was delivered from New York while we were gone, and I haven’t even started unpacking my stuff from the boxes yet. I have a lot to do,” I smiled.

“Yeah, same here. I mean, not unpacking just yet, but all my things are in storage across town. It’s a nightmare just thinking about it.”

I agreed. It seemed that it was less awkward being around Eric when we were yelling at each other, but talking to each other? Not so easy. At least on my part. And by the way he bounced back and forth on his heels with his hands in his pockets, it wasn’t so easy for him either. I wished him luck again, and made my way next door. I guess first steps were never easy. maybe he and I could take a few towards being civil to each other.

Stranger things had happened.

EPOV:

Godric and I pulled up at the old storage facility at one, and by the time we’d got the car packed it was after four. Apparently, I had a lot of stuff that I’d forgotten about. We sorted through a few boxes here and there just to see what I was dealing with. Photos I’d forgotten about, old clothes that would be donated, old scripts, letters, that sort of thing. I realized that while I had a lot of clothes and what would have been considered “swag” packed away in boxes, the little things like photos, well… those boxes were smaller—fewer and far between. I ignored the pang of guilt that washed across me at that realization. I was told early on in my career to choose between family or work. Both ultimately fail. And they were right, my relationship with my parents and sibling was reaching non-existent. They stopped trying when I stopped caring about them, about myself, and about my reputation that had somehow been tarnished before it even got a chance to shine.

“So, have you seen Sandy lately?” he asked me on the way to the new house. I’d been there three days and while it was fully furnished, it felt empty. It was why in recent years I favored hotels. They were always busy if you wanted to people watch, company if it was desired, and that almost anonymous loneliness if it was needed.

“She’s called a few times. We’ve talked, but that’s about it. She’s on some dress buying mission with her stylist in New York. I have no idea what for…”

“Because she needs more dresses?” he smirked as we pulled up into the Hills.

“Right?”

“Are you two…?”

“I don’t know man. It’s just … I don’t know what I want.”

“Yes you do. You want to be taken seriously again. You want people to look at you and get excited about your work again, not about what sunglasses you’re wearing or event you’re going to show up at.”

“True, but it’s making that happen. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Look at Sandy, for example. She’s not a bad person, but she has a shitty reputation, therefore every one and their momma thinks she’s a shitty person.”

“Including your momma,” he laughed.

“True. But I don’t know.”

“Well, you might want to think fast,” he said, and it confused me for a second before I looked up the driveway to see her car, and her standing next to it.

Oh, not good.

I got out of the car as she walked over. “I thought you were in New York.”

“I was. I flew in last night. My publicist told me you got this place. It’s nice. A little… small. But it’s nice. They suggested we um, meet up.”

“Why?”

“Because, we haven’t been seen together in weeks, and after the Internet basically exploded with those photos of you and her,” she rolled her eyes at me, “WE need to fix this.”

“Is there anything here to fix?”

“Aw, come on. Don’t be that way. We have fun, don’t we?”

We did sometimes, I guess.

I shrugged.

“Come on, look, let me help you guys unpack or whatever and we’ll go to dinner you and I and discuss where we go from here.”

“Will you eat?”

She just looked at me.

“I feel weird being the only one eating,” I pointed out. Well, I did.

“Fine, I’ll have something. I mean, I do eat. I eat whatever I want.”

“I know.” She just doesn’t ‘want’ most things. Ever.

Thing were good, normal, while we unpacked and sank a few beers. It was when dinner happened that shit went down real fast.

It was bad enough that there had been a car of photographers sitting outside the house when we left, but they followed us to the restaurant to get us in the parking lot and heading inside.

When one of them yelled if we were on a double date with Sookie, I thought I heard him wrong.

Sandy just grabbed my hand and yanked me past them, and I’ll admit, I let her do it. We got inside and were seated almost immediately, which at the Ivy, wasn’t an easy thing to accomplish at eight p.m. on a Friday.

And that’s when his comment made sense. There seated one table over from us, was Sookie. Sookie and another woman—by the looks of things taller than Sookie—possibly a little older, and obviously with a lot authority. It was evident by their “in deep conversation” stance, and the woman gesturing with her hands.

“Is that your little director slut?”

“Sandy…. Seriously? Put the claws away.”

“Had I known she was here I’d have picked somewhere else. I mean honestly, they’ll just let anyone in here these days. It’s ridiculous.” She pouted aiming for the wine menu.

I just sighed and opened the dinner menu. I was starving.

“So I’m thinking we should go on vacation, maybe soon, after you wrap this project up. Maybe somewhere hot. I got these amazing new bikinis in New York. One of them is actually from the kids department at Barneys! Can you believe it! I can finally fix back into those babies!”

“You realize that at almost thirty, that’s probably not safe? I’m worried about you, Sandy.”

“Why? I’m perfectly healthy!”

“Right, except that you’re not. And you get like this when you’re stressing out. Is it the new movie? Or just us?”

“Both? I don’t know. I just, I’m fine, really. I like how I am, I like what size I am, and so do the casting directors.”

For rom-coms that tank, and indie movies that have been done over and over. Yeah it seemed like we were two of a kind in the failing career department. But she was determined, I’d give her that.

“Just please be careful, that’s all.”

“I am careful, and despite what you think I am controlling my calorific intake a lot …better now. It’s healthy. I promise.” She took my hand and gave it a mild squeeze. I just hoped she was being honest.

We ordered. I ate while she picked at her food.

It was then I kept catching glimpses of Sookie looking at me, then looking away.

“I should probably go say hello.” I took a gulp of my beer. “I mean, it would just be rude not to.”

She just rolled her eyes. “Fine, well, I’m going to the bathroom.”

I took the last gulp of my beer and made my way over to her, as she sat at her table—finally alone.

SPOV:

When I left Eric’s and let out that breath that I hadn’t realized that I was holding, I decided to rip off the bandage and just unpack all my shit that Alcide had sent.

There was everything that we’d accumulated in six years together. Photos, concert stubs, birthday cards from him, anniversary cards, teddy bears. You name any cheesy couple thing and we probably did it.

I started to sob—uncontrollable sobs—as I unpacked my boxes and with them the fear that maybe I’d messed up the best thing to ever happen to me. I loved Alcide, I did. I just didn’t feel for him like I thought I should feel for the man I was about to marry. But it was still a kind of love. Maybe a “kind of love” was the only love we got? Had I been a fool to not accept him and his needs when I had the chance? I was so confused, so conflicted.

I picked up the phone—maybe when I shouldn’t have—after a few glasses of wine that I shouldn’t have had either.

“Hi.”

“Hey, you,” was his reply.

“So, I’m in LA. I’m home, I guess. Home. God that still sounds weird to me.”

“It does. Did you get—”

“Yeah, my stuff came. Thank you for boxing the rest of it up.”

“No worries. It might not be in the best condition. I was drunk when I did it. Or as I referred to it, an entire Denmark full of Dutch courage.” I heard him smile. I missed that smile.

“I miss you,” I held back a sob.

“Miss you too, kid.”

“I don’t know how to be without you,” I admitted. “It scares me.”

“It scares me too, but you weren’t happy with where we were going, Sook… I can’t change that, since I was probably the reason.”

“That’s not true. You made me happy, really happy for a long time.”

“Just not long enough, huh?” he asked, quietly.

“I am sorry. I’m sorry that I feel this way, I wish I didn’t. I wish I wanted the same things you want. It would be so easy if I did.”

He sniffed.

“But you don’t.”

“No. I don’t.”

“Then that’s what it comes down to, that’s why we’re apart. Because you know I’d marry you tomorrow.”

I sniffed too, nodding even though he couldn’t see me.

“I think maybe we shouldn’t talk, for a little while at least,” he said, and it was like he was actually stepping on my heart.

“I know, I just need to know that you don’t hate me.”

“I don’t. I don’t hate you for wanting something different than I dom Sookie. Even if that something is someone that’s no good for you.”

Wait, what?

“What?”

I heard him sigh. “Eric Northman. I mean, it’s fine if that’s how it is, but you could have told me to my face.”

“This again?”

“No, this after I see pictures of the two of you kissing the faces off each other HOURS after we split, then lunching in LA all smiles and happy… then to find out he’s bought a house next door? I mean, what the hell am I meant to think?”

“That maybe you’re a smart guy who knows how the fucking industry works? That captions don’t always equal truth? Or maybe to have a smidgen of respect for me?”

“Did you have respect for me, huh? For US? When you were kissing him like that?”

“It was a mistake, okay? I knew that it was as soon as it was over, I just…”

“And the rest of it?”

“He’s a friend, that’s all. Hell, he’s hardly even that.”

“Wow, I never thought you’d use such a Hollywood cliché, Sookie.”

“It’s not when it’s actually the truth,” I justified. “Look, I need to go, but I don’t want the possible last conversation we have to be an angry one.”

“Yeah? Well, I wanted to be with you for the rest of my life. Sometimes we don’t always get what we want Sookie.”

“You’re being childish.”

“Then I’m childish. It hurt me, Sookie.”

“I know, and I’m sorry for that. I’m sorry for hurting you at all. It really wasn’t what I had planned, believe me.”

“I do…” he sighed after a longer pause than necessary, even for him.

“Then why the anger? If you knew that I didn’t—”

“Because, either way he gets to be with you. And that kills me.”

I closed my eyes, realizing so fully in that moment that I hadn’t the slightest clue what I was doing. We hung up with an option to call or email, but each of us knowing that we wouldn’t. We couldn’t. At least not until the wounds healed a little, or… in his case I guess, until they healed a lot.

I spent the remainder of the week redecorating my new house. Nothing major was needed but a few touches here and there. I put my photos up of family friends, my old dog Ruff who lived in Paris with my dad. All the couple photos, framed or otherwise went into a box—a very pretty purple box, but still a box. Just like I’d hoped to put all those memories inside a pretty purple box, inside my head.

It irritated me to no end to realize that Eric had actually been right about my compartmentalizing. I wanted to call him up or go over and see him JUST so I could yell at him and prove him wrong.

I hated that he did that to me, and so easily. Stupid Swedish button pushing idiot.

I hated wicker furniture, so I found some amazing antique chairs for a steal in West Hollywood, where again I was greeted by the paparazzi. This time a different set from the ones before. These guys were less polite, and more invasive. By the time I got home, I was pissed off at them, at myself and at the whole damn situation. I popped out some wine and decided to vent my feelings in some writing. I was two of the three sheets to the wind when Pam came over, unannounced as always, and without knocking either.

“Six o’clock on a Friday and you’re already sloshed, Stackhouse. Are you sure you’re still on your little ‘anti-Hollywood’ attitude? Because I know some epic parties…”

“Go away.”

“No, my darling I can’t do that. See, we have business to discuss, and I haven’t eaten since six a.m. so please indulge me and go upstairs, slap some makeup on and that slinky black DVF number I saw peeking out of that unorganized closet of yours. And with heels; no flats.”

“I’m sorry, are you Pam or Rachel Zoe?”

“You want Rachel? I can get you Rachel. God knows you need her.”

I gasped.

I gasped.

“You bitch.”

“Thank you. Now, scoot.” Pam slapped my ass with the script that she had taken to fidgeting with as I was sent upstairs to attempt to get the ‘I’m drunk’ look off my face and fix myself up pretty for her.

An hour later, I was slightly hungover and more to the point, I was starving. The Ivy. I hated it. It was so pretentious, but it was infamous for celebrity watching. Well, it was before the paparazzi realized that I was me, and that I being me was someone else they needed to throw ridiculous questions at before we got past them. They made me feel dirty.

We got inside, seated far enough out of the way for a little bit of privacy—thank God. Pam started us off with margaritas.

“Are you kidding?”

“What? It’s Friday. I’ve had a stressful day, and if you stop drinking now you’ll be hungover by ten, and that’s just sad. Besides, I much prefer drunk you. She’s less whiney and more awesome.”

“You know, that attitude is why so many people in this town fuck themselves over.”

“Like your boyfriend?”

“What?”

“Eric.”

Ugh, what was it with everyone in my life assuming he and I were fucking, for fuck sake?

“For the last time…”

“I know, blah blah blah, fine whatever. Moving on. Is everything set up for the shoot in two weeks?”

“From what I know, yes. Some of the actors have gone to see family, others are still milling around LA. Either way everyone is ready to go, and I for one am just dying to finish it.”

“Too much?”

“Far too much. But I am glad I did it though. It was a dream, and even if it doesn’t get picked up…”

She nodded. Just as she did, out of the corner of my eye I spotted them and I groaned internally.

“My my, he doesn’t waste time does he? That asshole,” Pam murmured.

“We’re not together, so what if he’s back with her? That’s his deal.”

“And a shitty deal it is too. Honestly, you’d think if he was going to hook up with someone for attention it would be someone who could, in fact hold one’s attention for more than five seconds.” She groaned and I had no idea what she was talking about.

We ate our meal, and had a few more drinks since we were going to take a cab home anyway. I didn’t think it would matter. Pam’s bladder being as tiny as her waist got the better of her, and as soon as it did I saw him make his way over to me.

Being civil. We were just being civil. We were co-workers, that’s all it was. Pleasantries at their best.

“Hey,” he said, slipping into Pam’s seat.

“Hey yourself. Having a nice dinner? I’d ask the same of Sandy, but I think we both know she’s about to see it in reverse, don’t you?”

“Ouch. Someone took their bitch ass pill this morning.”

“Several in fact,” I smiled.

“How are you, bitchassness aside?” he asked, and it startled me that he would even ask.

“Why?”

“I don’t know. It’s what people ask people when they’re being nice, right?”

“I don’t know, is it?” I smiled. “I’m fine,” I answered him, finally. “Settling in okay?”

“Yeah I am, actually. That’s the thing. I was thinking of throwing the wrap party at my place. I mean, if that’s okay with you? It would serve as a housewarming too, kill two birds and all that.”

I just nodded. I couldn’t see a reason why not.

“Sure. I guess. I mean, if it’s what you want, I think it sounds good. I won’t get stuck with the clean up, will I?”

“Director, boss of all? I value my balls too much, thanks.” He smiled. “It’ll be fun, and the rest of the production will be too, you’ll see.”

I hoped he was right. Just at that, Pam make her presence known.

“Northman, nice to see you’ve sobered up,” was all she said, as I hid my face in my hands.

“I’m sorry?”

“You don’t remember do you? You hit on me, at the HBO after party at the Globes last year. Calling me ‘darlin’ every five minutes. it wasn’t as charming as you suspected it to be, sad to say.”

“Pam Ravenscroft, right?”

“The one and only. Move, you’re in my seat.”

He just laughed but stood up and pulled the chair out for her.

“Forgive me, Lady Pam, please.” He gestured and she just rolled her eyes.

“What are you two eye-fucking each other over now? I mean really, we’re in public.” She scowled and I attempted to hide my blush as Eric let his sit right on his pretty, pretty face.

“We were just talking about the end of production and how well it’s going to go and how amazing we’ll all be,” he smirked, clearly joking.

“Oh, well, in that case. I’m always up for a good round of ass kissing.”

“That’s not what you told me at the Globes,” he quipped as she just glared at him. I hid my giggle behind my cocktail glass.

“Yes, here’s to the last days of ever having to work with Eric Northman,” Pam said, snidely in my direction.

Jinxing me in her own way, because our first production together wouldn’t be our last. No matter what awkward stumbles we’d take in our personal lives together, no matter how hard we’d both attempt to get out of it, we were stuck it seems. Stuck together professionally. The powers that be had a much larger sandbox for Eric and I to play in, as we were about to become part of something much bigger than my little movie, and we’d have to do it all together.

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