Chapter 4: Chapter 4
I woke up feeling disorientated and thirsty, the lovely dulcet tones of Florence and the Machine playing in my ears. I yanked my sleep mask off and pulled the headphones from my ears only to find Jessica gone and Eric in her place. He smiled when I looked at him.
“Sleeping beauty, awakes,” he said softly before he closed his well worn script and turned to me.
“What time is it?”
“Just after four a.m.” We’d been flying a long time, and we had even longer to go. Oh, joy.
“Where’s Jessica?” I whispered, noting most of first class was asleep.
“Oh, well, I convinced Jessica to switch seats with me for awhile. I wanted to talk to you.”
“Well, first, I wanted to say I’m sorry.”
“For what, exactly?”
“The way Sandy behaved. It was uncalled for and rude and well, just wrong.”
“So you’re apologizing for your girlfriend being an asshole? Interesting. What else?” I wasn’t in the mood, in all honesty, for his heart-to-heart if that’s what this was.
“Thank you. For this. For this shot, and for wanting me to be the guy that played Ryan. I don’t know if I’ve told you or not but I really love this script. Like, really love it. I just needed you to know I’ve worked hard, trying to be what the script needs me to be and I want this shoot to go well.”
Oh, that I wasn’t expecting.
“I see. Well, great. I’m glad that when you cut your hair you lost some of your attitude along with it. Neither the hair nor the ‘tude was very attractive.”
“Am I attractive now?” he asked with a cocky smile. I just ignored him and took a long sip of my bottled water. “Oh, you’re engaged? I hadn’t noticed before,” he said, nodding to my ring.
Right, the ring. I didn’t know if I was meant to take the ring off or not.
“Uh, yeah. I am.”
He smiled sadly.
“Missed my shot, huh? He should know I did see you first.” He laughed and I did too.
“That is true, robbing the cradle when I was eleven. I’ll be sure to let him know.”
He sighed, sitting back slightly.
“So much has changed since then.”
“We let it change, we grow up, we be who we’re meant to be. It’s how life goes I guess.”
“How the hell are you so Zen?”
“Want to know my secret? I take half a Xanax before I fly. Knocks me right out. I don’t think it’s worn off fully yet.”
He just laughed.
“Just don’t let me down, Eric. That’s all I ask.”
He simply nodded. I hoped he meant all his sweet talk. I prayed he did. I didn’t need him bullshitting me like he bullshitted the rest of the world. I had too much at stake here.
Far too much.
“No. No, this is just not right! How many times, Eric? Really you need to listen to me. That’s not what this scene is about—”
“He’s feeling lost, he doesn’t know which way is up! That’s what I’m doing!”
“No, it’s not. You’re half-assing it! You look like you got lost on the way to set. This isn’t the look we’re going for.”
Sookie was really in a mood today—the mood to rip just about everyone a new asshole.
We’d been on location for five days, and already so many things had managed to go wrong.
The hotel was overbooked so half of the crew and the actors were shuttled to another hotel ten miles away from where we’d managed to get rooms. My assistant-who had been on leave because his mother died—he still hadn’t arrived. He’d been fucked over with his flights and ended up on the other side of the country, meaning he was still a day away. The trailers hadn’t been set up on location, so you had a crew of forty people and twelve actors and a very pissed off director baking in the sun, with nothing but tents for coverage. When they’d finally managed to arrive—two days late—Sookie looked like she was going to explode.
“Fine, let’s go again and I’ll try and fix it.”
“Don’t try and fix it, fucking fix it.”
First day on set was a nerve-wrecking one; everyone was nervous. It was a new gig for some, it was the first time on location for others, and for Sookie, it was her shot at her directorial debut.
“Okay everyone, let’s try and get this next take, okay? I know we’re all tired and hungry and in need of a few shots, right?” she asked with a smile, and everyone agreed. “Switching locations tomorrow, so feel free to get as drunk as you like tonight but I want everyone on set by six a.m. on Thursday, you hear me?”
Again everyone cheered.
“Good, now let’s hope Northman can get his head out of his ass long enough to let us cut out early, huh?”
And then there was that. Northman. That’s who I was on set when she addressed me. Everyone went by their last names. Even her.
She raised her brow at me. “You about ready to un-fuck yourself?”
I nodded and we began rolling.
I nailed it, the two pages of dialogue that was tripping me up, I finally managed to nail it.
Fucking English accent was kicking my ass.
Jessica was a sweet girl. She was naive but down to earth in the way that you couldn’t help but like her. She was kind and pleasant to everyone, and if I was honest, I thought she had a tiny crush on me. Not that I encouraged it or anything, but I was a natural born flirt. Flirting was fun. It was easy and it was nice to feel wanted. Who doesn’t want to feel wanted? Especially by attractive women trying their best not to blush or swoon around you.
“Hi, Jessica,” I said, unzipping the top of my mop suit finally. She looked from my face to my bare chest. Her eyes widened before she focused on my face again, the blush settling in nicely on her cheeks.
“H-Hi, hi… Eric. Um Sookie… she s-she um, she wants to talk to you in her trailer.”
I figured as much.
“Sure thing.” I may have winked at her. Like I said, flirting was fun and in this case, totally innocent. She wasn’t my type I’m sorry to say—she was beautiful but a little too innocent for my tastes. Speaking of tastes, I managed to walk into Sookie’s trailer just in time to see her in her underwear.
She just stood there, unfazed while I tried my best not to gawk at her body like a twelve-year-old, because honestly? Sookie was hot, and Stackhouse really was an apt name because that girl was in fact, stacked.
“You know there’s this amazing new thing called knocking. You might want to try it.”
“Uh, sorry, Jessica said you wanted to see me.”
“Yeah, like ten minutes ago. Did she get distracted again?”
“Erm no, we were just talking for a second and I stopped by my trailer to freshen up.” I made reference to the fact that the mop suit fucking sucked and I was free and clear now in some shorts and a t-shirt.
“But, uh, if you’ve already started without me, then, let’s get naked.” I smiled, she didn’t.
“Don’t flatter yourself cowboy, I don’t do actors. I know it’s been awhile since you’ve seen a woman with real breasts that don’t look pre-teen, but get a hold of yourself.”
“You don’t ‘do’ actors? Damn, what made you make that rule, huh?”
“None of your business. But just know, we’re not happening. Ever.”
“Because of my occupation. That’s a little… bitchy.”
“Then I’m a bitch, whatever.” She dismissed the conversation, turning to step into her sundress. “Yes, I wanted to see you. Dude, what’s up with that today? You were completely off your game. Do we need more dialect sessions?”
I was already having them everyday, how much could more possibly be?
“No, we’re good. I was just… I didn’t sleep so well last night, shit that shouldn’t be getting in the way, is, and I guess it messed with my head. I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine, it is. I just, everyone has their off days. I just want to make sure it doesn’t turn into an off week, you know? This production is already so screwed…” She ran her fingers through her hair twisting it into a high ponytail.
“It’s not that screwed. We’re chugging along nicely, despite all the problems at first.”
“I wish I held your optimism… but yeah, I guess. Look, I’m heading back to the hotel so, um, enjoy your night off.”
“Want some company?
Flirting with the boss? Probably a really bad idea, but I couldn’t help myself.
“No, Casanova, I don’t. Not from you anyway.”
“Ouch! You really know how to get a guy in the balls don’t you?”
She smiled, sinister and sweet, all at once.
“Just yours. Have a good night, but try not to pick up any hookers, okay?” she said, laughing as she passed me on her way out of her trailer door. I just resigned myself to the fact that I’d spend yet another night alone in my hotel room. The other guys had insisted that I go out with them—beyond insisted in fact. I’d just finished showering when there was a knock on my door.
It was Andrews. Andy Andrews, one of my co-stars who apparently had rather unimaginative parents.
“You have to come out man. Really, it’s going to be a rager. Everyone from the crew is going to be there, and that hot chick Jessica, too. You never know, you might get laid.”
“Thanks man, but you’re not my type.”
“Dude… Come on.”
Did I mention he was your classic stoner hippy who decided that ‘acting’ was his way to enlightenment? Yeah, that was him. He was whacked, but he was a hell of an actor.
“I don’t know, man.”
“Lafayette is going and he’s even gonna try and convince Queen Bitch to come out.”
“Dude, come on. She’s not a bitch, she’s just stressed out.”
“Stressed out, bitch. Why do you defend her? You know I found fucking ROCKS in my duffle bag yesterday dude? Fucking ROCKS. That shit is a prop. It’s meant to be empty.”
I laughed because whoever had done it, was a genius.
“Sucks for you. But stop bad mouthing her, okay? She’s doing an amazing job with the clusterfuck that is this place and the ‘team.’ Cut her some slack.”
“You sweet on her or somethin’?” he asked as I changed into my dark jeans and a simple plain white shirt.
“Don’t be stupid, I have a girlfriend.”
He nodded. “By the way, I saw the news on the web… you kept that quiet. Congrats, man!”
What the hell was he talking about?
“The… well, the engagement?”
“Uh, yours?” He pulled out his iPhone and began scrolling till he got to the blog in question. There was Sandy, just ‘casually’ posturing by her car, left hand a flutter in clear view of the lenses.
Jesus fucking Christ.
“Uh, no, dude. I can tell you right now I didn’t give her that ring. I’m not sure what’s happening here but I’m not engaged.”
“Weird. She’s been telling people you are. The video is there, too,” he said, handing me the phone so I could see for myself. I rolled my eyes and noted the time difference. I’d call her in the morning and straighten this shit out. Right then, I needed a drink. A large one.
“Let’s go get shitfaced.”
“I’m just so tired of being single, Sookie. It’s been three years for cryin’ out loud. I want a boy, no I want a MAN, but all LA has to offer is self-obsessed douchebags more into their looks than they are into their women. That, or they’re married douchebags, or they’re gay guys who just want to curl my hair! It’s not fair!” Jessica ranted, sitting on my large bed like a genie with her legs crossed. We’d been on the wine since dinner, and once Laf joined us to make up for going out, we’d hit the harder stuff with him.
“You’re doing a wonderful job by the way, Lafayette,” she said, innocently as she sipped her vodka cocktail.
“Well, you know baby there are plenty of men out there who would kill to get their hands on you, either of you. You just gotta keep the faith.”
“Psh, right,” Jessica snorted. “I’m such a dork and everyone in LA is so … experienced. It’s terrifying.”
“Wait wait, are you sayin’… that you’re a virgin?” Lafayette asked and I almost spat my drink all over myself. No way was she a virgin. She was hot, she was tall, and she was awesome – sure she was a bit scatterbrained, but guys didn’t give a shit about that when you looked like her.
She just blushed.
“Honey, are you?” I asked her, using honey, because well, she was as sweet as honey.
“Horrible, right? I mean, who the hell is a virgin at my age? It’s SO embarrassing. But in high school, I had super strict rules to live by—my parents are seriously religious—and in college, well, I was just too damn busy with schoolwork to date … and the longer I leave it, the harder it gets and I think I’m a freak. God!” She buried her head in her hands and I moved her drink away from her elbow on the table next to her.
“Jessica, you are not a freak, okay? I mean sure, finding a hot virgin in LA is like spotting a unicorn or something but that just means you have something special.”
“Inexperience isn’t special, Sookie. It’s a hindrance.”
“No, it’s not. It’s special and you’ll find someone just as special. And when you, do you’ll know.”
“Or… you could just get really drunk and fuck a fake marine,” Lafayette said making us both laugh.
“She’s not fucking any of those guys. They’re all assholes.”
“Eric is nice,” Jessica said sweetly.
Lafayette laughed. “Girl you got good taste. He’s fine, isn’t he? Fine as fuck. Sadly… for me, he likes the ladies. But he’s a playful flirt; I like that about him.”
“Oh, you mean how he’ll flirt with anything that moves, male or female?” I asked.
“Ohh, honey, you jealous? I’ve seen you two go at it with the sexually charged sparring. Personally, I think you should fuck him, Sookie. Might relax you a little bit.”
I glared at him. He knew good well what my issues were right now and still he made shitty jokes like that. Plus, Lafayette could make anything ‘dirty’ if he put his mind to it—even arguing.
“Why would Sookie be fucking him? She’s engaged.”
Lafayette just looked at me. “Something I should know?”
Jessica looked on expectantly, too.
“Alcide and I… we’re on a break.” Laf knew, Jess didn’t.
“What does that mean?” Jess asked.
“It means, he doesn’t know what fucking side is up and she doesn’t either. Girl for real, break is just one word short of a break up. Personally, I think you both know what’s up but won’t take the steps to do it.”
“It’s not that easy, Lafayette. We’ve been together a long time, there’s a lot of history there. I can’t just throw that all away for nothing.”
“So, you’re scared of being alone? Is that it? We’re all scared of being alone, sugar tits. But some of us just embrace it better than others. Do you love Alcide?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“Are you in love with him? Enough to finally set a date for this wedding, be his wife and baby mamma?”
That was the harder question to answer. We’d been together so long, and from such a young age. I mean, before Alcide I’d maybe had one boyfriend, and that was just a casual thing. He was my first serious relationship right through college and beyond. I knew nothing else but him. I’d never been in love before I got with him, and I assumed that my love for him meant I was in love with him. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that maybe I was wrong.
I nodded my head no and they both sighed.
“Then I think you know what you have to do, Sooks. You have to let him know. The sooner the better.”
“I can’t, not now. I cant just end a six-year relationship over the damn phone.”
But I would, as soon as I saw him face-to-face. I would do it. It was only fair to him, and if I was honest, fair to me, too.
“Right ladies,” I began, “let’s go to the bar and dance, shall we?”
I was drunk, there were cameras, camera phones and flashes every-fucking-where. I knew Facebook would be experiencing new uploads in the morning, but I didn’t give a shit. The crew, the cast, we were all having a blast, and my tongue was blue from all the colored shots we’d been doing. Sookie, her producer person who’s name escaped me, Lafayette and Jessica were dancing up a storm to something vaguely pop-tastic that the DJ insisted on playing. I realized I really liked drunk Sookie. In fact, mostly everyone did. She was hilarious, honest in a funny way—instead of her usual ball busting way—and she was handsy. Not that I was complaining at all but in a way I maybe should have been. Having a hot drunk blonde with those breasts dancing with you, her gay best friend, her assistant, and rubbing said breasts all up on you—by accident or not—was making me horny as hell. Not that that was shocking; alcohol made everyone horny and everyone seemed hot no matter what they looked like. That was a lesson I’d learned the hard way over the years, having woken up the next morning with some very questionable choices in a fuck partner. It was one of the first reasons Sandy and I had hooked up. Possibly not the best start to a relationship I’d imagine.
“You can’t dance for shit, Northman. You’re too tall. Too much leg.”
“Oh, I’m sorry midget. Did you say something? You’re so far away I can’t hear you.”
She poked me.
“Shut up! It’s not my fault I’m … vertically challenged,” she giggled. “Or that you’re a freakin’ giant.”
I just smiled and she smiled back, See? Totally loving drunk Sookie.
The party had served it’s purpose. It had united the cast and crew in a way that broke whatever ice might have remained between us all, and it got Sookie seen in a new light. She wasn’t just Queen Bitch now, she was Queen Bitch who was a hilarious drunk and really not that scary. Everything was going well. We’d all been enjoying ourselves a little too much when it happened.
One of the local guys was hitting on Sookie, and at first she was looking like she was able to handle herself just fine. She was still ball-busting Sookie underneath the fun drunk girl.
But she started to look pissed, and closed off, clearly giving the guy the brush off as all of us expected and walked away from him. That’s when he grabbed her and pushed her against the wall. The group of guys I was standing with were on him instantly, and Sookie just looked stunned.
“Jesus Christ,” she said holding her arm where he’d grabbed her. “What the fuck!” she said screaming at the guy, and it happened before I could stop myself.
I’d hit him, square in the nose, a lot harder than I had intended to. There was a scuffle. Our guys, his guys, Sookie caught in the middle. Punches were thrown, blood was spilled. She’d tried her best to break it up but got an elbow in the ribs for her troubles. I was singled out buy his buddies and they laid into me pretty hard before I got out of the corner they’d managed to get me into. That’s when I felt her grab my hand.
And heard the police sirens. The local guys stopped instantly as did our guys. Sookie looked freaked.
“GUYS, GET OUT OF HERE NOW! Just go,” she said pointing to the back entrance of the shabby little bar. “Laf, take Jessica back to the hotel, okay?” she said as everyone scattered to the wind. She grabbed my hand again and we went to the front of the bar.
“What the fuck are you doing?”
“Well, I’m going to explain to them what happened and you can be my witness. It’ll be fine.” She was clearly not thinking straight. I didn’t argue, I just grabbed her hand and yanked her back.
“What are YOU doing?”
“Sookie, don’t be fucking stupid! We do this, I get arrested, you get arrested. The rules are different here.”
She ran her hand through her hair before I yanked her out the back door. Before we got far, there was shouting. It was the cops.
I began to run, and I made her run, too. The cop was old and slow and gave up pretty soon after we started running—something we didn’t realize until later—so Sookie and I kept on running, before she yanked me to stop. Her shoes, her heels. She couldn’t run any further. I stopped and pulled her shoes off, throwing them to the side of the road.
“Eric! Those were vintage Chanel for fuck sake!”
“I’ll buy you a new pair,” I said, taking off again.
“What part of vintage don’t you understand?”
What was there to understand? It was just a fancy word for ‘old as fuck’ for rich out their ass people. But no, if I wore a shirt I had for four years I was being a cheap bastard. I didn’t get it.
Eventually we stopped, realizing we didn’t have the first clue where we were.
“Well, there’s the beach, the hotel is near the beach,” she said, unsure. “Ugh… no. Too tired. I don’t even care,” she said, wandering onto the barely lit beach. The lights in place for parking and such cast very little light onto the actual sand. “Oh this is nice,” she said, walking on the cold sand in her bare feet before sitting down.
“I’m glad we ran. I mean, my dad always taught me to take responsibility for my actions or non-actions. But for right now? The last thing I needed was getting arrested, or getting my male lead arrested. So.. Yeah, good call,” she said while yanking my hand to make me sit next to her.
“Yeah, freedom good. African prison, bad,” I agreed.
“You didn’t need to hit him though. That was fucking stupid.”
“He shoved you; he was going to hit you.”
She shrugged. “I could have handled it.”
“What? I could! I’ve taken self-defense classes, you know?”
“Oh, sure that went well.”
“I don’t need you to defend me, Eric,” she said this time with a scowl, folding her arms as she shivered. “I don’t need anyone to defend me. I can take care of myself.”
Clearly, but why did that mean she should have to? I kept quiet and gave her my jacket, which she thanked me for before laying down on the sand. I joined her not long after.
“Sand is hard.” She pouted.
“That it is,” I agreed before I felt her shift beside me.
“Be my pillow?” she asked quietly and I wrapped my arm around her.
“Don’t try anything, Northman. I mean it. I’ll make you Erica if you do,” she smirked.
“Don’t flatter yourself, darling. You’re not my type.”
“Of course not. I eat, and don’t see my meals in reverse.”
I poked her.
“What? Please, just for the record… I think she’s an idiot.”
“Duly noted,” she started, but stopped before she said anything else on the subject. Instead she used my jacket as a mini blanket for both of us. And before I knew it, we’d fallen asleep.
This wasn’t what I meant when I’d imagined sleeping with Sookie Stackhouse. But for now, I guess it would do.
A/N: Little bit of action this chapter, and it seems right now the only person Eric is angry at – is himself. What did we think? Reviews are more than encouraged and loved! Or hit me up on twitter if you have any other Qs or comments lol. The joys of a diet coke addiction, it’s why the chapters keep appearing so fast! Hope you enjoyed! xox
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
I woke up to the sound of waves and light snoring. I squinted as I opened my eyes, the sun was just starting to rise through the clouds. My head felt as if it was going to fall off.
Tequila. The drink of the devil.
The lull of Eric’s breathing was relaxing, but then it hit me. I shouldn’t be where I was to know that listening to his heart or his breathing was calming.
I sat up quickly, causing him to wake up somewhat.
“Five more minutes,” he said groggily. I just stood up. My neck was really going to hurt for the next few hours at least, as well as the rest of me.
I looked around and realized we were about half a mile from the hotel. Damn it. Had I not been so drunkenly disorientated last night I might have saved us both some discomfort.
“Where’s the fire?” he asked, noting my swift rise.
“Nowhere. I just want to get back to the hotel, get a hot shower and a coffee I.V.”
“Want to be environmentally friendly?” he asked still stretched out on the sand, his shirt riding up on his tummy.
“I’ll join you for that shower. Think of all the water we’d save.” He grinned.
He really couldn’t help himself, could he?
“You really need to give it up, Northman. I told you—”
“Right, you don’t ‘do’ actors, I know. But you know Sookie, there’s an exception to every rule ever made. Including yours.”
I simply rolled my eyes at him.
“You have a vintage pair of shoes to find. I suggest you get looking.” I said, looking at him expectantly.
“I told you, I’ll get you a new pair. They’re just shoes.”
“Just shoes? Oh, you are such a guy. Just shoes? First of all, they’re Chanel. Second of all, they’re vintage.” Yeah, I really needed other shopping partners besides Pam—she was wearing off on me a little too much, I realized.
“So they’re old, pretentious shoes. Awesome.”
He got up and started walking.
“You are such a … you know, I bet you’re one of those people with like six outfits total in their wardrobe lasting them years, aren’t you?” I said, tiptoeing out of the sand and onto the sidewalk. Now that I wasn’t drunk, walking barefoot caused me a little more anxiety than it did before. I was skipping and tiptoeing my way behind him before he just stopped.
“I’ll give you a piggyback ride. You look ridiculous walking like that. Just get on.”
It was really painful, and well, it was still a good bit back to the hotel.
“Sookie, just do it for Christ sakes.”
I felt his hands go straight up my legs as he hoisted me onto his back. I felt as ridiculous as it probably looked. Then he stood up and wow, tall guy was tall.
It was when I felt his hands slip to my ass, that I had to protest.
“I’m up here just fine. You squeezing my ass isn’t going to help me stay up this high.”
He laughed, “Maybe not, but why take the chance. I could drop my director and then where would we be? Want me to run?”
“No!” I was nervous enough as it was. “Don’t do that. I’m too far off the ground!”
“But you won’t fall.” He began to speed up.
“Eric!” I gripped onto his neck even tighter than before. I didn’t even care if I left fingerprints at this point; I didn’t want to fall!
He was laughing and jogging slightly when we reached the driveway of the hotel.
When he let me down, I felt nothing but awkward, and maybe a little motion sick.
“Um… thanks,” I said, smoothing out my dress.
“Anytime,” he said, with an almost shy smile breaking across his face before he did something I wasn’t expecting. He reached over and tucked a piece of flyaway hair behind my ear. It was a simple gesture, but for some reason it sent shivers through me. Of course, I convinced myself it was the morning chill, the hangover, or the fact that we slept on a beach for five hours. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t any of those things. He looked at me then, before quickly looking away as we both got hit with a serious dose of awkward.
“So, I uh, we uh, better—” He pointed to the hotel and I nodded before we both walked inside.
I had nothing planned but to shower and get into a very large and empty bed and sleep the majority of the day away.
“Goodnight, Sookie,” Eric said as I made a left to go towards my room, and he made a right to go to his.
“Good morning, Eric,” I said, rolling my eyes with a smile before he disappeared from sight.
I got in to find my cell beside the bed. I had six missed calls and three texts.
Jessica – “Drink was evil and head was going to explode.”
Lafayette – “Tell me you didn’t end up in prison, call me when you get this.”
And one from Alcide. Short, simple, and heart-wrenching all at once. “I miss you.”
“Ughhhhh,” I said, slamming my head against my pillows. Why couldn’t life just be simple? Why did everything have to be so fucking hard?
Turns out, I didn’t know shit about hard that morning. The next two weeks of shooting were an absolute disaster and would show me exactly what hard was. Six of my ‘marines’ came down with a mysterious illness. Eric wasn’t sick, but I could tell whatever they had, he’d get eventually. He kept on shooting and we shot around the others where we could. And then, oh then… Sandy showed up, with her two photo agencies. They followed her around the hotel, to our set—and as a result, stalked the damn set and me for photos, too. Lots of questions were thrown my way. “Are you acting again? It’s good to see you…” “What’s the movie about?” “Are you and Eric sleeping together? Is that why Sandy is here? Come on Sookie, talk to us!”
I was baffled, truly. So, I did what I always did when I was nervous or freaked out—I plastered on my fakest smile and told them thank you for their interest, but that it wasn’t an interview. We managed to put up blackout gates the next day. To top things off, Eric’s assistant, Hoyt, finally arrived—the day after the bar brawl—after being delayed for days due to flight mix ups. He was tall and southern. Two things it seemed that Jessica was just on the lookout for. They struck up a conversation almost immediately, leaving Eric and I to assist ourselves most of the time. I didn’t begrudge the girl some flirting. In fact, it was too sweet to witness most of the time. They were both very innocent in that sense. Hoyt had been a friend of a friend of Eric’s in need of a job to stay in LA, so Eric hired him. He was as un-LA as a person could get. And it was like Jessica’s dream come true. She didn’t say it, but I knew she was instantly smitten. But for fear of being fired, she kept it under wraps. There was no mistaking that smile, or the look in her eyes when she saw him. It was something that I realized was missing with Alcide and myself. It had been missing for a very long time.
Though I wanted to, I couldn’t just immerse myself in my failed relationship woes. I had a production to save.
I managed to get a call into Pam late one afternoon as I freaked out about the state of my production.
“Sweetie, you have to relax, okay? Everything will be fine. Productions experience hiccups like this all the time. Just breathe.”
“Pam, it’s not that easy, okay? Everyone is sick! The crew are starting to drop like flies with their sick days, and now, Pam, now my lead actress is this close!” I indicated with my fingers even though I was alone pacing my hotel room, “This close to quitting, because she’s been throwing up for three days and looks like a corpse. Pam, she can barely speak and I just… do not have the time, nor the budget, to stop production and re-cast.” She wasn’t the only one. In the last number of weeks, I’d wager I’d lost well over fifteen pounds with the stress and lack of sleep or desire to eat large meals.
“It’s just two scenes, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, but it’s his hallucination here, so it needs to be on location. Remember? He gets shot and he’s dying and he sees his dead wife. It’s all very Lifetime movie. What can I say, I was PMSing when I wrote that part. But the network loved the angst of it all, so it has to be filmed here.”
“And then when he’s back in the States… he still sees her, right?”
“Right. Only occasionally. It’s part of his Post Traumatic Stress… Shitting shit, Pam. What do I do here?”
“Jesus, sweetie, I don’t know what to tell you. I mean, realistically your only option … is for you to do it.”
“You do it. You play Dena.”
I gawped at my phone. She couldn’t be serious.
“That is so … disgustingly Hollywood, Pam.”
“It is if it’s planned, and yes it’s narcissistic and what have you—but again, only if it’s planned. This is a last minute necessity, and really Sookie you know these characters inside out. You could nail this.”
“Pam, it’s been—”
“Thirteen years, blah, blah… yes, I know. But come on, you’ve been acting this shit out in your head since you wrote it. You can do this. And in fact, you will do this. Because if you don’t, I quit as your manager.”
“What? I will! So go to wardrobe, get yourself fitted and go make out with Eric Northman. Mmmkay? Call me when it’s done, sweetie.”
She rubbed in the sweetie. She always did now that she knew it annoyed the shit out of me.
I was so screwed it wasn’t even funny.
“What are you doing here?” I asked when she showed up at my hotel room door, late that Friday night.
“Wow! You know, you could look a little happier to see me. I did fly halfway across the damn planet,” she said dumping her many, many, many bags in my doorway.
“I’m sorry, it’s just a shock that’s all. You didn’t tell me you were coming.”
“Well, I’m here, so… surprise!” she said, flinging her arms around my neck and kissing me—hard.
“Sand… Seriously, why didn’t you tell me?”
“Well, honey, it’s just that when we had that awful fight over the phone, I just felt so wretched and well, I wanted to make things better.”
“Were you in London?” I asked.
“Yeah, how did you know?”
“Your accent … it um… well it sometimes changes when you go to different places. Just something I noticed, that’s all.”
She hugged me again and I let her as I hugged her back. It was nice having spent the previous month all alone at night with nothing to do but run lines with the bare walls and listen to the never ending splash of the ocean. The distraction was a welcome one, since the production was extremely close to being shut down completely. No one knew what was going to happen in the coming days. I felt sorry for Sookie. Knowing how much this all meant to her, and how hard she and everyone else had been working to get it right. For something as stupid as actors not getting their proper shots in time for filming in a foreign location, therefore coming down with the flu—vomiting and swift exiting from every other exit on the body… it was beyond preventable. All I knew was I had scenes with Ginger tomorrow. She was playing my wife, and she was currently head first in a toilet somewhere. Making out would not be fun, that’s for sure.
“I am sorry you know, about the whole ring mix-up thing. Really, it was just that it didn’t fit any other finger, and when they asked about it, I just laughed it off. Which I guess they took for an admission.”
“You could have said no.”
“I know, but sweetie, Bill is right, in a way. We have to keep people interested in us when the work dries up, otherwise they just forget about you. And once that happens, it’s career death!”
“I’m sick of listening to Bill and his ‘advice.’ Did he tell you to flaunt the ring?”
She looked to the floor. That meant yes.
“What? Look, I’m sorry, okay? It won’t happen again. But really, people are starting to ask questions….”
“Why we’re not engaged.” She fingered the buttons on my shirt as she spoke.
“It’s been eight months. A rather rocky eight months, in case you have forgotten.”
“I know but everyone is expecting it.”
“Are you expecting it?”
“I don’t care, as long as we get to tell people.”
“Sandy… We’re not getting engaged. It’s not … the right time. And to be honest, getting engaged would be a huge mistake for us.”
“Why?” she pouted again.
“I don’t know if I want to get married.”
“What? Why is this shocking? Before you, I’d been single for almost two years. Marriage isn’t something that I’m even thinking about right now.”
“Who said anything about getting married? We get engaged, I get a ring, we get some positive press for a change, instead of them thinking you hate me. It’s a win, win. It’ll help promote this project as well.”
“No, I don’t think Sookie would be too happy if we did that. She’s not into gimmicks.”
She just rolled her eyes. “She’s so annoying by the way, all do-gooder and hardworking. I looked her up online, and you know what? Her daddy is super rich and famous and respected for fuck’s sake, and what does she do? Oh, spends her Thanksgivings at a homeless shelter—without telling the press, might I add—instead of accepting a dinner invite from Steven Spielberg! She’s fucking nuts!”
“Wait, what? You’ve been cyber-stalking my boss?”
Boss, flirting companion, friend. Whatever she was to me.
“No. I was just curious and I don’t look at it as stalking. It’s more like … getting to know her.”
“Riiight… Still weird though, just so you know. And also for the record, we’re not engaged, so please move the ring to the right hand.”
“Eric!” she whined.
“What? No! I’m not proposing to you just so we can get press, Sandy. Jesus! End of discussion.”
“Fine, end of discussion.” She stopped touching me to sit on the other end of the bed. Clearly, now, we weren’t having sex tonight.
I just got up and decided that a very long luke warm shower was needed.
On set call was for six a.m. I arrived at five to go over my lines in the makeup trailer. I’d been ‘shot’ yesterday. Those scenes were hard, I won’t lie—the idea of being at death’s door was the last thing ‘Ryan’ wanted. He was a fighter, and he believed in his cause. But he was fucked up from the inside out. His wife had died, which led to him enlisting, which led to his issues on the field. And once he was shot, he wasn’t just thinking about her anymore. He was seeing her, too. In dreams at first, but they were so real that his reality was shifting, which led to him being sent home from war… which leads us to the second half of shooting, and ‘Ryan’ attempting to deal with his life as it is now instead of running from it, and his past like he had tried to do before. Sookie had done an amazing job piecing together all his little quirks. Like when we start, it seems like he’s just this normal grieving guy, but by the end you get to see just how fucked up he really is underneath.
When I got to set, I was prepped for last minute changes and laid down on the ‘hospital’ bed that was inside the army medic tent, where I was to ‘see’ my ‘wife’ so realistically that it causes my reality to change.
Sookie came in for what I assumed was our pre-shoot talk. Instead, she lined up the camera guys and brought the shooting closer before she took off her robe… that she was in a robe at all confused me, but then I saw the dress.
It was Dena’s dress. Or at least it was from what I remembered of the rehearsal a few weeks before.
“Sookie, what’s going on?”
She sighed. “My worst nightmare, that’s what’s going on. Ginger quit. She’s too ill to keep going and she’s been admitted to the hospital for dehydration. I don’t have the time, the budget or the remaining sanity to shut down and re-cast. So, here I am. I’m your Dena. Tell me you don’t have an issue with that, please,” she pleaded. She looked terrified in all honesty.
“N-no… I guess it’s fine. I think… I mean, no… yes, it’s—”
“Great. So this scene, it starts off with she … me and you just talking like it’s a dream sequence but then you realize you can touch me, which is different from the times you’d seen ‘her’ before— Before you knew you couldn’t touch ‘her’… Got it? You know your motivation?”
I nodded. We’d been over this scene dozens of times. She didn’t want cheesy, she wanted real. And with her in place of Ginger, I had a feeling it would be more real than either of us was ready for.
Kissing Sookie, it was so… oddly wonderful. It’s the only way I can describe it. Leading up to it, our dialogue was so heated and so full of hurt and pain and sadness, and she emoted it all without effort. She was amazing. The passion in her eyes came alive and she completely embodied Dena. It gave me chills. Chills, and a rapidly increasing boner. As much as I tried to will it away, it was … hard, and there was nothing I could do about it. Sookie was seated in my lap as we confessed our love and desperate need for each other. My hands clawed at her dress, and hers nestled in my short hair as we kissed as passionately as two people could. We kissed, and we kept on kissing… I was waiting for the cue to stop, but it never came. Only when things were getting extremely uncomfortable for me down below had I to nudge her slightly—then she pulled back.
“Right… cut,” she shouted out, with a blush creeping into her cheeks. Her fingers automatically went to her lips—they were swollen and red, and so fucking sexy, and oddly wonderful. I’d thought about this; about what it would be like to kiss her just like this. How could I not? She was beautiful, sexual, and she didn’t take my shit. But I’d resigned myself to the fact that it was never going to happen outside of my imagination. She was engaged, she didn’t ‘do’ actors and I was in a relationship—a fucked up one, but a relationship nonetheless.
But the minute her lips touched mine, it was like nothing else I remember feeling. There was electric currents running through my body, going right to my dick. I didn’t want to be unprofessional and make her uncomfortable, but for a ‘fake’ kiss, nothing had felt as real in a long time.
It terrified me to think about what that meant.
We shot it again, and again, and again for the three angles needed. All the while, I knew Sandy was on set somewhere. I just hoped she was using the desert sun to top up her tan like she’d said she was going to.
When Sookie called cut for the final time that morning and detangled herself from me with a shy smile to talk with her producer and AD, I spotted Sandy. And she was clearly pissed off.
Awesome. Just, fucking awesome.
A/N: *Glares at them* *Sigh* Who else thinks Sandy sees some chemistry she wished she didn’t and gets Eric into some shit because of it? Hmm? Hope you guys enjoyed this chapter, I wasn’t totally feeling it before I finished it last night, but fingers crossed it didn’t suck too much! Thank you all again so much for the alerts and the Pms and the reviews, it’s just so *grabby hands* Love it! 😀
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Disaster. It’s all I could think. I’d been close to tears four times and it was only noon. The day had gone from bad to worse, quite literally.
Pam was right. By the time I flew in an alternate actress for the role of Dena, got her fitted and ready to roll, we’d be over budget and time restricted completely. So I did it. I stepped into the role. My first in almost a small lifetime. I was shaking as the wardrobe assistant pinned me into the dress at six a.m. Jessica sat in the chair across from me, smiling like an idiot.
“You look so beautiful, Sookie.”
“It’s the glow. That’s what stress gives you…” I mumbled.
“No, really, I think you’ll make an amazing Dena. You’re her. She’s there to guide him back, right? It’s all so romantic,” she sighed.
“Speaking of romance… How’s Hoyt?”
She sighed again, this time practically radiating heart eyes.
“Oh, Sookie… He’s so wonderful, thoughtful, amazing, funny! He is so funny.”
Her cheeks tinted pink before she spoke.
“And, he kissed me last night.”
“About time! It’s been what? Two weeks of solid flirting? About time he made a move.”
“He’s so wonderful. And really, since we’ve been hanging out I’ve gotten to know Eric a little bit, too.”
“Oh, how nice,” I answered.
“He’s a nice guy! Underneath all the bravado, he’s very thoughtful.”
“That’s great Jessica, really. But just be careful, okay?”
“No, of Hoyt. I don’t want you hurt by rushing into anything too fast.”
She nodded before she handed me back my Blackberry. Pam kept texting me, informing me I’d be needing an agent and a PR person now that I was back in the acting world. It just served to make me ten times more nauseated.
“I met Eric’s girlfriend. She’s very um…”
“Sort of. She’s very Hollywood. I mean, I offered her a tic-tac and she refused.”
“Maybe she just doesn’t like tic-tacs?”
“No, she told me it had too many calories!”
I burst out laughing. Because really, how else do you react to something so ridiculous?
“She doesn’t seem like his type at all! Even Hoyt says so. He doesn’t get what’s going on between them, but apparently, Eric is miserable most of the time.”
“Well, he’s a big boy. He can handle his own love life, I’m sure. If he didn’t want to be with her, he’d break it off. So there must be something he likes… buried deep within her shallow as a teaspoon self somewhere.” I shrugged.
“I don’t like her. She’s too clinging and whiny. Hoyt almost quit because of her, you know?”
“She keeps treating him like he’s their maid or something. He hates it. Eric keeps apologizing to him because he knows he’s a great guy but SHE on the other hand… ugh.”
“Aw you’re so cute, standing up for your man,” I mocked a little, thinking about their problems took my mind off my own for a few minutes before I was ready to go to set.
When I saw Eric on set in costume, my nerves just crept right back up again. I mean come on, the last time I acted was with him was… a very long time ago. We were kids for crying out loud! And now? Now, I had everything on the line and if I sucked at this, all my hard work and a lot of other people’s hard work would be shot to hell because of my failure! Nervous wasn’t even a big enough word for what I was feeling.
Then it dawned on me, I hadn’t kissed another guy since Alcide and I got together. That was six years of kissing the same guy. What if I didn’t know how to kiss someone else? Never mind that that someone else was Eric Northman, for crying out loud, who was sitting looking confused and curious when I shed my robe.
Thankfully, he was chilled about the whole switching leading ladies thing. I had no idea what I’d have done if he’d thrown a hissy fit.
The hissy fit, however, would be saved until much later, and for his girlfriend. She was clearly a secure, confident, woman who had no fear whatsoever that her relationship wasn’t anything other than solid….
I took on Dena’s accent, not much different from my own, but with a softer mid-western flair. I figured she should have something to differentiate her from me right of the bat to help me focus on what was happening and who I was in that moment.
In that moment I was his wife. I was the love of his life, and he, the love of my apparent afterlife. Of course, it wasn’t an afterlife at all. It was his scrambled psyche playing cruel tricks on him as he lay dying.
As I touched his face and brought us closer, each line of dialogue flying perfectly from his mouth, I focused in on it and his lips because as his wife—his long gone, never to return to him, dead too young wife—being with him in that moment was all I wanted. And we played it out, all the pain, all the suffering, all the angst and most importantly for that scene, all the passion that they had for each other, as we kissed. As it turns out, I hadn’t forgotten how to kiss someone for the very first time. The kiss with Eric came easily; it felt … as natural as breathing. That was a problem. I’d managed to go into character a little too deeply, a little too fast, and I didn’t want to break the scene because I felt their pain of having to let the other one go.
I felt Eric nudge me with his thumb, and I knew we’d gone too far. Yelling cut and pulling away from him was a lot harder than I’d anticipated. For a moment, I didn’t know if the desire I was feeling was coming from myself, or if I was creating it for Dena. I’d forgotten what it felt like, to embrace that side of yourself, that hidden compartment where all your characters laid in quiet slumber waiting for you to bring them out to play.
It was then, right then, when I realized just how much I’d missed that feeling. And once I had it, I wanted to feel it again and again. I was elated.
Eric and I sat stunned, both of us realizing what the other was feeling after our third take and angle change.
“You miss this,” he whispered to be as my AD measured the last angle right.
“I never said I didn’t.”
“Then why not do it again? You’re clearly good at it.”
Acting or kissing, I wanted to ask, but was interrupted by the makeup girls coming to retouch us.
“The fear, I guess.”
“Of what? You’re a natural, and it’s clearly in your blood.” He smiled but I was still freaking out inside.
“I’ll think about it.”
“Nothing to think about. You’re here, you’re Dena—much better than that Ginger girl any day.” He grinned like a fool before pushing my hair behind my ears again. Apparently, much like flirting, this was just another quirk were he couldn’t help himself.
“I can’t believe we just did that. I mean, it felt like it went okay, didn’t it?”
“More than just okay, it felt like it fit. The chemistry fit. You can’t fake that… believe me.”
I laughed, that was true. Hollywood was the land of make believe and fake it if you can’t make it, but chemistry was always the one thing two actors either had, or they didn’t. And apparently we had it, and then some.
The next morning, the one morning I had off and was planning on sleeping the day away, was so rudely interrupted by the shrill ring of my phone.
“What?” I said in lieu of manners or care.
“What the hell is going on, Sookie?”
“Yes, it’s Pam. What is going on?”
“Well, I was sleeping. What are you talking about?”
“All over the Internet, grainy photos of you—mystery girl slash former child star and Hollywood’s bad boy, smooching the face off of each other in a tent.”
I rubbed my eyes and managed to sit up in bed before I yawned.
“Well, that would be this little thing some people call acting. It’s a new thing but I think it’ll be popular.”
“Not funny, bitch! You are a home-wrecker on the Internet. And now you have about three thousand new followers on that dreaded Twitter of yours, too.”
“Hmmm. Apparently some … well, most people aren’t too fond of Barbie and Ken together, and according to some blogs, you’re a more than suitable replacement.”
“That’s just nuts…”
“They saw the pictures Miss ‘I don’t know if I can do it,’ and so did I. They were fucking hot. Far away and grainy, but hot.”
“It was just a kiss.”
“A hot, chemistry-filled, sordid looking mess of amazing kisses,” she corrected me.
“You’ve been reading too many romance novels in your spare time.”
She scoffed. “Spare time? I don’t know the meaning of those two words, Sookie. Anyway, I just thought I’d give you a heads up. That, and Eric is engaged.”
“He’s engaged to Barbie. She’s been flashing her shit all over town for days before … and I assume she’s still there—she flew to Africa to be with her beloved.”
Well that was news to me. He certainly didn’t act like someone who was engaged. But then again, did I? Was I? I assumed I wasn’t and I’d been putting off talking to Alcide ever since I’d decided I didn’t want to end a six-year relationship over the phone—thousands of miles apart. He deserved more than that, and honestly, we deserved more than that.
My phone beeped. Call waiting.
Oh, just great.
“Pam, I’ve got to go. I’ll call you later.” As soon as I hung up, my phone rang again.
“Sookie?” I heard before I’d managed a ‘hello.’
“Hi. How are you?”
He sighed. “Why are there pictures of you making out with Northman being emailed to me right now?”
“I mean, is this why things changed with us? Is it because of him? If you wanted to fuck someone else you should have just—”
“Hey! If you’d shut up and let me explain it might save you some embarrassment when you realize what a dick you sound like right now. The production is in trouble, as you know, and my actress quit. She’s too ill to act, so it left me between a rock and a hard place—”
“His hard place,” he quipped.
“Alcide! Are you even hearing what I’m saying? I took the role. So those pictures that you’re seeing—that Pam has just this second told me about—are from that. On set, in front of dozens of people and in character.”
He was silent.
“You thought I’d cheat on you?”
“I saw proof of it, or what I thought was proof. What other conclusion do you expect me to jump to?”
“I expect you not to just jump to that conclusion, Alcide! Not after all these years. Jesus! I’ve never cheated on you. Hell, I’ve never even thought about it!”
Again he was silent.
“Have you cheated on me?”
“NO! Jesus, never…”
“Have you ever wanted to, though?” I asked, not really sure where the question was coming from.
“Sookie, let’s not do this over the phone, okay? You’ll be home in less than a week, I’ll be in LA and we can just sort this all out and everything will be fine.”
Except it wasn’t. That wasn’t an answer.
“Cide, answer me. Have you ever thought about cheating on me?”
I heard him sigh again, which wasn’t good.
“I… once. Just once, it was right after our fight in LA before you left. That next night I just…”
“And did you?”
“No, but I did think about it. She was just this model I knew and it would have been easy and you probably wouldn’t have ever found out, but I couldn’t do that to you. Or to us. And the thought that maybe you did, it killed me.”
“But you wanted to. Isn’t that the same thing? I mean, not physically, but in your head you’d moved on. In your heart—”
“In my heart I knew I couldn’t do it. So I didn’t. Not when I thought there was still a chance for us. But the more time we left it, the more I’ve realized we’re just putting off the inevitable.”
I sighed, sitting back down on my bed. “I didn’t want to do it like this.”
“Me either,” he agreed.
“But we’re doing it like this, aren’t we? I mean, is this what a break-up talk sounds like…? I wouldn’t really know.”
“I guess it is. I didn’t want it to end, you have to know that.”
“I didn’t either, but, Cide we don’t want the same things anymore. And that’s just not fair to either of us. You deserve someone who’s willing to give you what you need, and let you be the guy that she needs above everything else in her life. Because you’re amazing and I do love you.”
“And I love you. I think I’ve loved you since I knocked you over in that hallway in Brooklyn.” He laughed through what I knew to be his silent man tears. “But you’re right, we both need different things from our lives right now… I don’t really know how to live life without knowing you’ll be there for me, Sookie,” he admitted.
“I’m still here. We’re not dying, or moving to the moon, I’m always here. Email, text, Twitter, Facebook, you’ll find me everywhere. And you know how addicted I am to my Blackberry…” I joked… well, half joked. I was a technology addict that’s for sure.
“Good, that’s good. And same here, you know? For you. If you ever need me for anything…”
“I know. I love you.”
“I love you too, kid,” he said with that sad tinge to his voice I knew so well. This was the end of us, our coupledom was no more. We weren’t a ‘we’ anymore. We were just an ‘I’- alone. The thought was terrifying.
I hung up and took a shower. I’d been in there maybe all of five minutes when it happened. The floodgates opened and I burst into tears. The tears I’d been holding in all day, all week, all month.
Everything was falling apart. My life was in shards in every direction and it felt like there was nothing I could do about it.
I was all out of ideas, so what happened when I ran out of ideas? I got drunk, very drunk.
Drunk sounded good right about now.
“So you’re denying it then?” she demanded as we walked back into the hotel room.
“Jesus… For the last time, it was a scene. There was dialogue and everything.”
“It didn’t look like acting to me. In fact, you seemed very much alive for a dying man. And she? Oh, do not get me started on that whore.”
“Sandy, that’s enough!”
“So you’re defending your little fancy woman now, are you?”
“Oh, my actual GOD! Listen to yourself. Yes, it was an intimate scene. Yes, we have a certain chemistry, and yes, it probably looked more … realistic than it should to some people, but isn’t that the point? We’re trying to sell these characters and to do that we have to make it believable. I won’t apologize for doing a good job.”
She was still pissed and pouting by the time I was showered for dinner. We were off the day after next, and I wanted to do nothing more than just sleep it all off.
“Fine, if you say so. But tomorrow you’re mine, and we do what I want. I’m tired of just waiting around for you to stop working. It’s dull and there aren’t even any designer shops here. What the hell is up with that?”
She insisted we take a walk on the beach since she’d felt ‘bloated’ after dinner. I agreed because it was a beautiful night. Being on the beach, however, only served to bring me back to Sookie—as did everything, it seemed. I couldn’t lie and say I wasn’t worried about her. She was too nervous and under too much pressure with everything that was going wrong. I didn’t know how she was handling it; I wasn’t sure I could’ve had I been in her shoes.
The next day, I’d managed to get some sun on the beach as I killed some time, going over my script between walks up and down the shoreline. Only this time, it was clear Sandy and I weren’t alone.
“What the fuck? Sandy, how’d they know where we were? I didn’t even tell Hoyt where I was going this morning!” I let go of her hand almost instantly. Like hell if I was going to line a pap’s pocket even more than I probably already was, as he clicked away.
“I don’t know! They followed me here.”
“Is that right? And to set, and shopping and around the city? Come on, I’m not stupid.”
“Well, it’s just after those shots of you kissing another woman showed up online, we needed to fix it, baby. We can’t have people thinking you cheated on me with a fat, washed up child star, now can we?”
“Excuse me?” I said turning to her.
“Oh, Eric don’t get mad just because I don’t like your new boss. You’re almost done with her anyway and we can just go home and get things back to the way they were. Us, hanging out and being cute together.”
“She’s… you… Jesus. You know, I knew you were self-obsessed—all us actors are to a point—but this is just downright spiteful. She’s not any of those things, Sandy. She’s amazing and so talented. You can’t even see that because all you think about is yourself and your image. It’s … I’m so … disappointed in you.”
“When we met, you were so different. You were sweet and funny and real. Then we got together and you morphed into this… I don’t even know what.”
“Stop arguing with me in front of them. They’ll print it and we’re screwed.”
I just held my hands up to her.
“Fine, I won’t argue with you. I won’t argue with you at all. I’m just leaving. It’ll be easier on all of us. You and your pap friends have a nice time on the beach.”
She tried to protest through a smile but I just walked off, not really giving a shit what the guy with the telephoto lens thought of me at the moment. I’d gone to the hotel bar to calm myself down. Wrong decision after wrong decision seemed to haunt me lately. I wanted to know when I’d start making the right decisions, creating some good karma like Calvin would ramble on and on about. Calvin Norris, my manager of six years, all-around LA self-help junkie and plastic surgery addict. It was his idea to hire Compton Copy, the PR firm known mostly for being viscous and unstoppable in their attempts at getting their clients publicity. They’d go to any means necessary to do the job. It was over the past eight months that I’d seen just how far they’d go to save face. It was really a little ridiculous. What was wrong with being real? What was wrong with being approachable and attainable? Being normal?
For so long, throughout my childhood and into my adolescence, I’d fought ‘normal’ like it was the monster under my bed. The last thing I wanted to be was some boring ,normal kid from Sweden. I wanted to be loved by everyone, to entertain everyone, and as I got older, I wanted to be seen as more than just ‘the cute one’ in a ensemble cast. I wanted to break the mold I’d spent years allowing other people to put me in. But the harder I tried to be someone else, the harder it became to find a role or a studio that would take me seriously. It happened once and I’d fucked it up. I hoped I wouldn’t fuck it up twice.
I’d gotten through three glasses of Jack before I headed back up to my room, to find Sandy packing.
“Where are you going?”
“Home. I have things I have to do, and you clearly don’t want me here, so I’m going. I got a flight out tonight, and I have to leave soon.” She sounded hurt, and for the first time in months, she sounded real.
“Sandy, come on. I’m sorry, okay? I just don’t like all the bullshit. I just want to work.”
“We all do, but it’s not that easy for some of us. That town, Eric… it’s so cutthroat and if you don’t stay relevant you may as well just pack up and move back to Sweden. If you don’t stay alive in their eyes you may as well be dead. Sad, but true. I’ve learned that lesson. So yeah, I fight for my attention because I deserve it. And because there are a dozen more girls coming behind me to take my roles… so I fight and I fight to win. Does that fight always remain clean? No, but that’s life. It’s my life and it’s your life. And the sooner you drop that idealistic notion that you can be a respected actor and still remain anonymous, the better.”
“I get the need to sell yourself, I do. But all the time? To everyone? What’s left for you, then?”
“Not much, but you work with what you have. And I thought you understood that. When Bill suggested we hook up—”
“What? Bill suggested it?”
Bill just so happened to be her PR guru, too, as it goes. I should have fucking known.
“You’re kidding me, right?”
“I liked you, and he told me you liked me too… what’s wrong with that?”
“What else did he tell you?”
She bit her lip.
“That we both could use a little boost and what better way to do it than be the next IT couple?”
I closed my eyes. That bastard was so beyond fired.
“So, you’re with me for the attention?”
“No. I like you a lot, I really do, and we do have things in common. You’re a great guy when you’re not mad at me, or the world, and I’m attracted to you—you know that much. So, had Bill not said something, I probably would have flirted with you but stayed with my ex. But he did say something and I did make a move and you responded… so I kept on making moves and you kept on responding.”
“And that’s what you call a relationship?”
She sighed, zipping up her large suitcase.
“Well, it sure beats being alone, doesn’t it?” She kissed me then, before standing on her tiptoes to hug me.
“I’ll see you back in LA once you’ve gotten over whatever this place and Sookie Stackhouse has filled your head with. Get it out of your system, Eric, then we’ll talk about starting over.”
“I’m going to LA and I’m having lunch with some friends. One of them is my ex. What happens from there, I don’t know. But as far as we’re concerned? The bitterness stops here. I want to be with you, and I’m giving you the time to decide if you want to be with me.” She petted down my shirt, making sure it was straight.
“Call me, okay?”
And with that she was out the door, all her luggage in tow. I on the other hand, wasn’t drunk enough for this bullshit.
And as it turns out I wasn’t the only one feeling the need to get drunk. I discovered, in a dive of a bar in the middle of Namibia, surrounded by old local guys with missing teeth, Sookie Stackhouse on a bar. Legitimately standing on a bar singing her heart out, drunk as a skunk, providing me with one of the most interesting nights of my life.
A/N: Questions, comments, concerns? What do you like, what do you hate? I’m dying to hear from you! 😀
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
I walked into a small bar. It was a dive but it had a sign outside for good old fashioned shots of vodka and tequila—the best memory loss tool I’d found in my time of drinking. It was run down and shoddy. There was a barmaid about my age with long dark hair braided into a large bun on the side of her head. She looked Spanish with a mix of something else. Either way she was beautiful—too beautiful for a place like this.
The bar was lined with four guys in their late sixties and two even older guys playing pool and arguing in a language that I couldn’t make out.
Shot one—the surroundings were still awkward. No one really spoke to each other or to me, but by shot six, that was starting to change.
“Maria, you’re awesome! Isn’t Maria awesome?” I said to old guy number one on my left. Later, I’d learn his name was Grandos. Maria was the barmaid’s name. By drink … eight, nine or ten, it was well after dark and I was on my way to passing out. It didn’t happen however, since I was busy hearing both Grandos and Maria’s life stories simultaneously. That’s when the karaoke started up. Where the machine had come from I’d never know, but it had appeared as well as tiny stage in the corner of the bar. One of the old guys was clearly an Elvis fan, since he was singing Hound Dog in broken English—swiveling hips and all.
My cell buzzed for the eighth time that night—Jessica, worried that I’d just disappeared. Personally, at that moment I wanted to disappear. I wanted to be back in my tiny New York apartment with nothing to worry about other than setting up for a play rehearsal the next day, or shooting photos in the park. Instead, I was in the arse end of Nowhere, Africa with the Internet stalking me, broken up and alone after spending six years with who I assumed was the love of my life—the man I’d marry one day and be happily ever after with. But we were both wrong and now we were both single. Starting over all alone, the terrifying prospect of that made me nauseous. Or perhaps that was all the Patrón.
The sad thing was, it was the least of my problems. My production, my baby, my hard work and ass-kissing for the last almost four years was falling down around my ears.
My actors were sick but they kept going as much as they could. I shot around them where I could, but becoming Dena was not something I’d scheduled for. I was an actress again? That definitely wasn’t on the agenda. To make matters worse I’d gotten two more emails from Pam. In my drunken state I only partly understood them, but apparently footage of Eric and I and that now infamous scene had leaked onto the Internet. There was a frenzy amongst his fans, and apparently a resurgence in interest in him as a leading man. The worst part? There was a valid interest in me as a leading lady, too. Pam had said in the three hours since the grainy footage went viral, I’d had three script offers and one studio interested in making a deal with me regarding directing. I was baffled, but too drunk to even attempt to write back to her, unless she was good at decoding drunk-speak.
Somehow I got roped into singing. Now, I wasn’t a bad singer—I had a good tone and I did love to sing—but I was drunk, so the usual freak-out reaction didn’t happen. Instead, Maria and I hopped up onto the bar top, old shoddy microphones in hand, and belted out the Robert Palmer classic, Addicted to Love. Though, with Maria’s accent and my slurred words, it was hard to tell what we were addicted to.
That’s when I spotted him—looking extremely bemused and far too sexy for someone in real life—standing there all ridiculous and tall, and ridiculously tall. Besides thinking he rocked a white shirt like no other man I could ever recall rocking it so hard, I could only think one other thing.
How the hell did Eric find me?
Sandy left, and with her exit, entered my state of utter confusion.
It was like part of me knew that cutting her loose and being on my own was a good thing, just like part of me knew that being a paparazzi pet wasn’t going to help my career the way I wanted it to. I was a private person, for the most part. If someone asked me something and I wanted to share it with them then I’d tell them of course, but did that mean that I wanted my entire life on film? No. If I wanted that, I’d have done the reality show Bill had suggested. But I didn’t want that. Sure it worked, it got people talking and made everyone millions of dollars and allowed that person to become what they wanted at the cost of forfeiting their name and their existence and sticking it on TV, sticking it on perfume, sticking it on chewing gum for crying out loud. But the other part of me knew, had witnessed firsthand that part of what Sandy was talking about was true. It was a sad truth, but it was still a truth. Sometimes people got lucky. They got noticed and respect and everything, right off the bat. No hassle, no fuss. Then there were some who had to fight for that respect, for that attention. Believing in yourself wasn’t easy all the time, and I realized that somewhere between exiting my teen years and entering my twenties, I’d lost that faith in myself. More to the point, I stopped believing that I had a valid talent worth sharing, worth working on or attempting to improve. So I took the shitty movies, the two dimensional characters and teen heartthrob roles. The cash was good, staved off the boredom for a little longer and kept my brain semi-occupied. But that was the choice I had to make. Did I want the easy road of shit roles and product endorsement, did I want to be a celebrity, or did I want to be an actor?
I always thought I knew which road was the right one, and which one I wanted to be on, but the two had gotten so blurred in recent years that I wasn’t sure which was which anymore.
I was deep in thought as I attempted to find my happy place, when the knock came to my hotel room door.
Hoyt and Jessica were on the other end of it.
“Have you seen Sookie?” Jessica asked with a weary sigh, as they both just walked right on into my room.
“Erm, no? Should I have?”
“Well, she’s not here, and she’s not answering her phone. We came back from dinner and she wasn’t in her room either. Eric, she never turns that Blackberry off and it’s stuck to her hand or hip twenty-four seven. I’m worried.”
“Okay, there aren’t that many places she could have gone, right?”
“What if she’s been kidnapped?” Jessica asked, sounding more freaked out now than before.
“Okay, just calm down, okay? She’s probably fine and just off by herself or gone for a walk or something.”
“Oh, Jesus! What if she’s been kidnapped and sold into a sex slave ring? It happens you know! And for a young white woman in her twenties alone in a foreign country? It’s—”
“Jess… you need to calm down,” Hoyt interjected, thankfully. “Eric’s right. She’s probably just off chilling by herself for a little while, that’s all.”
“I’m worried, though. She’s been through so much lately. Between the production going all but tits up and things with her fiancé ending like it did… she’s in bits but she won’t say it.”
“What happened with her fiancé?” I asked, trying not to make it obvious that I might have been doing an internal happy dance at the prospect of a single Sookie.
“They broke up. It’s just so sad, after six years together, too.”
“Did he break up with her or did she break up with him?”
“Um, she broke up with him. He wanted a family and the whole nine yards and well, I guess she doesn’t… so they ended things. It has to be so hard on her, on both of them. Six years is nothing to be sneezed at.”
Jessica was so adorable with her sayings sometimes: ‘sneezed at,’ ‘even a blind hog finds an acorn now and then’ was another, as well as ‘going the whole hog’. She was peculiar to say the least, but she matched Hoyt strand for strand in his peculiarity.
“Okay, look, I’ll go up towards the bars and the shops and see if I see her. You two try the beach and ask the other guys—if you seem them—have they seen her. Call me if you find her.”
“Do the same,” Jessica said taking off with Hoyt by the hand. I threw on a fresh t-shirt, grabbed my room key and cell, and went in search of our MIA director.
The strangled sounds of Addicted to Love were being belted out, by one Miss Sookie Stackhouse and her pretty female friend, and duet partner. They stopped and bowed and ignored the small crowds pleas for more. She spotted me and simply rolled her eyes as I walked over and offered her my hand in attempts to get her down on solid ground again.
“How’d you find me?”
“Six bars in the whole town, you choose the shittiest one… and this was the last on my stop… so …”
“Well, you can go, I’m fine. Why are you even looking for me?”
“Jess was worried so she and Hoyt came to me looking for you.”
“Why would I be with you, of all people? Aren’t you busy entertaining your fiancée?”
“Well, I’m sure I would be, if I had one. But since I don’t, I guess I’m not.”
“Oh sure… Well…The Internet said you’re engaged.”
“Well, the Internet also said I was gay last month. The Internet is full of shit.”
“So you’re not engaged?” she asked, swaying slightly.
“Nope, and neither are you.” I grabbed her left hand and raised it so I could see her ring.
“It’s nice. Too bad it’s bullshit.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” she said, clearly lying, backing away from me to sit on her stool again.
“He givin’ you trouble So-key?” asked an old guy with white hair to her left. His dark skin betrayed his age, and his large brown eyes fixated on me. He was far older than me but something told me if he wanted to, he could kick my ass.
“No, no Grandos. He’s not. He’s Eric.”
“Ah, Swedish boy who is in the acting with the guns.” His English was broken but he got the gist.
“Uh, right. Sookie, can I talk to you outside for a second?”
“No! I think we’ll have another song, that’s what I think. I like to sing. Eric want a drink?”
“No, I want to talk to you.”
“Well, I don’t want to talk right now, I want to sing! So either get up here and sing with me, or leave.” She cocked her hip and raised her brow the customers in the bar all giving her their full attention. We both stood out like two big blonde sore thumbs in that bar. It was almost funny what a contrast we provided.
“Sing, sing, sing…” Came the chant from the patrons as well as the barmaid.
Sweet Jesus, what was I doing?
Sookie slid up onto the bar again before standing and receiving her microphone from the barmaid, then handing me mine as the familiar piano intro began.
“You’ve got to be kidding me…” I mumbled as Sookie downed another shot and handed me my first. I’d need it to kick in real fast as she started to sing.
“Hey kids, shake it loose together. The spotlight’s hitting something…” She hit me on the arm laughing as I finally stood up too, my head almost hitting the roof in the process. The tiny crowd clapped and cheered and I began backing up Sookie’s out of tune singing.
“That’s been known to change the weather, we’ll kill the fatted calf tonight so stick around.”
“You’re gonna hear electric music, solid walls of sound,” I took solo before we launched, Bennie and the Jets and according to Sookie—there was electric boobs underneath her shoes. She said it every time. And every time it caused me to crack the hell up. We were joined on our tiny ‘stage’ by the barmaid who’s name I’d learned was Maria. She had pipes, that girl.
We took our bow, mine more awkward and much more sober than Sookie’s and she let me lift her off the bar. We danced to more bad karaoke, we drank more than she should have since she was already on her way to a shit-tastic hangover as it was, but we did. We danced and we drank and I enjoyed what seemed like a carefree Sookie again. She was laughing and bonding and handsy—the girl liked to touch. Not that I was complaining in the slightest, flirting insistently under the guise of just innocent dancing. It was far from innocent, at least from where I was standing. The look in her eyes when she’d push herself up against me, or snake her hands to my sides ‘accidentally’ grazing my skin as I ‘accidentally’ grazed hers. Two more shots of tequila later and she was done.
“Guys it’s been really amazing, but I have to go!”
The bar didn’t like that idea.
“No, So-key, stay it’s fun!” Maria said, a hint of a Spanish accent coming out.
Her name was So-key, now?
We were offered two more shots for the road. Sookie offered them to me since it was clear she was almost on her last legs.
We got outside the bar and the air seemed to hit her fast.
“I drank too much. Ha!” she said as she leaned against the wall. “I hate shoes. I mean, I love shoes, but I hate them, too. Stupid heels.”
“Why’d you disappear tonight?”
“I felt like it. I needed a little break from my reality, okay? Surely you of all people can understand that.”
“Just… you. Your life. It’s all one big escape. Your career was falling down but what did you do? Nothing. Instead of trying to fix it, you just ignored it and it got worse and worse and then that sucky choice system of yours bled into your personal life, and look how good that’s been going lately.”
“My personal life is none—”
“Of my business? Please! Sure, it’s not my business but it’s the business of the rest of the world? Weird. Huh?”
“You sound bitter about that.”
“I am bitter about that because I know you’re better than that shit.”
“How do you know that?”
It was the question I’d been asking myself since she showed up at the hotel in LA. Where did that faith come from? Where did the belief in me come from when I didn’t even have any in myself.
“How do you know that, Sookie? Maybe I’m not… maybe what I had is gone. Maybe this was a huge mistake… So tell me, how do you know?”
“Because I just do, okay? I know you. I knew you—the kid with all that talent just busting at the seams, waiting to be tapped into and explored. But you didn’t. You half-assed it. And that’s the pity about this whole thing. You bought into it. You bought into those people really loving you and wanting you and respecting you, when in reality all they were doing was using you. For their own amusement, or for profit, or for some kind of gain to help them. And you bought into the lie. You never buy the lie, you sell the lie… Sweetie,” she added. The bitterness more evident now.
“And are you selling the lie or buying it? This relationship of yours, it’s done. It’s been done since you got here but you played it up like it was the best thing that ever happened to you.”
“Maybe it was.”
“That’s bullshit. If it was you’d still be with him.”
“What the hell would you know about a real honest to God relationship, Eric? What you have with Barbie doesn’t count. It doesn’t count if it’s your agent’s or your publicist’s idea.”
Did everyone but me know about that?
“I’m going home,” she pouted, standing up shakily this time. I tried to help her but she was having none of that. “I can find my own way, thank you very much. You aren’t stealing my shoes again!”
We walked slowly up the cobbled street. It was empty save only a few people milling in and out of the various bars at that hour.
“Why are you so tense?” I asked her, still in an argumentative mood.
“Because you’re around. It’s a by-product of your existence,” she sassed.
“Yeah, I’m a real comedian.”
She stopped again, leaning against another wall this time to take off her shoe.
That’s when I heard it. It was a quiet sob, but I heard it.
The orange street lamp across the way—the only light on the entire street—cast a warm cozy glow along the old run down buildings.
I stood her up before I took her foot and leaned it on my knee, putting her heel back in place.
She nodded, but I needed a real answer.
I tipped her chin up so she could face me and she tried to blink away her tears. But it was too late, I’d seen them.
“Hey… Let it out, just tell me.”
She sobbed once, “Because if I do you’ll think I’m a stupid failure and it’s pathetic… and I don’t want you to think that about me.”
How she could have thought I’d think that, was beyond me.
“That’s the last thing I’d ever think of you, Sookie.”
“I think that about me, so why wouldn’t you? I’m just a stupid girl with ideas above her talent. I had all these big plans, Eric. And they all fell flat… the production is a wash, everything is wrong, I hate being in charge—God, I hate it so fucking much. I want help. I want someone else to worry about the shot listings and the actors and the script and if we have enough money on budget for what we’re doing, or if people will even like it. Will it even see the light of day, will all this be for nothing? I just want to forget it all, just forget it ever existed. Can you make me forget it all, Eric?”
I couldn’t answer those questions because I didn’t know what to say. I just wanted to make her stop crying. I wanted to make her smile, but I couldn’t think of a single word to say to make that happen. So I didn’t say anything, instead I used action instead of words for once.
And I kissed her.
I kissed her finally as Eric and she kissed me back as herself, as Sookie. Not Ryan and Dena. There was no pain, no tragic back story, no death. The only pain that was felt came when I began pulling away from her to breathe. There was no dialogue to remember, no crew standing around watching, no sound mics, no cameras.
There was only lust, and that need to feel something real. For the first time in a long time, I did. That need radiated from both of us as I backed her up against the old brick building, falling down at it seams, lit only by that one little orange light. It provided all the heat we needed as we explored each other with our hands and with our kisses. She didn’t stop it, and neither did I. There was that underlying hunger to her kissing that spurned me on even more than before. We broke apart, briefly, awkwardly, in an attempt to get out of the street and into the hotel before either one of us talked ourselves out of what we wanted to happen.
A/N: Hi there again, this daily updating thing starting to bore you yet? I have a problem, I know! It’s like an addiction … or can we blame the epics amounts of caffeine I consume? Eh, who knows! Thank you all again and again for the review love and adds! It’s amazing and so encouraging you have no idea! And for those of you asking, there IS a Life, Accidental sequel on the way, I just wanted to get this baby off the ground before we go back to the other two, they can be just as demanding! 😀 Reviews are loved xoox .