Three Years Later
“And the academy award goes to . . . ERIC NORTHMAN!”
Thunderous applause erupts throughout the Dolby Theatre. I exhale loudly and bound up the steps to grab the woman who announced I won the award seen as the pinnacle of an actor’s career. I think it might be the first time in history that a wife is presenting the award to her husband, but it makes this moment even more perfect. My beautiful wife, my Sookie, is standing on the stage with her arms outstretched. A year ago, it was Sookie accepting the award for best actress in a motion picture thanks to her reprisal of the role that made her a Broadway star. The movie adaptation of Bayou Blues had been well received, earning nine Oscar nominations. The film won five awards, including Sookie’s win as Best Actress. The success of that film allowed Sookie and I to do the film that gave me the chance to be on this stage accepting the award for Best Actor.
We had wanted to remake A Star is Born, with Sookie in the role that Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand had made famous. I was taking on the role played by James Mason and Kris Kristofferson. The studio was concerned about the film. What would make people go see a movie that had already been made brilliantly by two legends? We took the movie and gave it a facelift. Instead of a fading star and one on the rise, we made it about two lovers that skyrocketed at the same time. It’s the story of how they handled fame together, or rather how it ultimately tore them apart. They were both successful in terms of their careers, but were unfulfilled emotionally. A chance meeting put them in each other’s path and they managed to reconnect. In a way, it is the story of us. It is raw and gritty, and I think that came through. It was definitely the best piece of acting I’ve ever done. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences must have thought so too since I am now standing on this stage, winner of the Best Actor award.
“Congratulations baby! I’m so proud of you! I love you,” Sookie whispers in my ear as I spin her around in my arms. When I set her back on her feet, she is smiling happily with tears in her eyes. My smile is so big I’m sure the astronauts in space can see it without a satellite. Before I accept the award from the girl holding the award, I dip my wife down low and plant the mother of all kisses on her. Sookie’s hand rests against the back of my head as our lips move together and the applause from the crowd soon turn to catcalls and whistles.
“I’ll finish that later,” I tell her with a wink as I pull back from her lips. When I set her upright, Sookie is flushed. She’s fanning her face trying to cool down and my grin just widens. I thank the woman who hands me my award. Sookie tries to step back so I can have my moment in the spotlight alone, but I’ll have none of it. I grab her hand and pull her next to me while I give my thank you speech.
“First of all, thank you to the Academy. It means everything to me to know that my peers think this highly of my work,” I say as I shake the golden statue in my hand. “It is a tremendous honor.”
Thirty seconds are all I have before the orchestra will begin playing the music, so I need to make the most of it. Sookie got on me to write a speech and practice it, but I wouldn’t listen to her. I didn’t want to jinx myself. Now I wish I had listened to her.
“I want to thank all the cast and crew. This film was the best experience I’ve ever had making a film. I wouldn’t be standing up here if it wasn’t for all of you. There are so many people I want to thank and I apologize but I am blanking on names.” The audience chuckles, many of them knowing exactly what it feels like to go blank under the pressure of the lights.
“Thank you to my family, especially my mother for encouraging me to follow my dreams, even if it did mean I had to travel halfway around the world to do it. I love you Mor. Thanks also to my grandmother. I always told her I would thank her if I won this award. She’s no longer with us, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten my promise. Knowing her, she’s watching from a bar in Heaven and she’ll wait years until it’s my turn to join her up there. The first thing she’d do is smack me on the back of my head and yell at me for forgetting her. So thanks Mormor; I love you and miss you. Wish you were still here.”
I turn to look at the woman standing next to me; the woman who gives my life meaning. Our eyes meet and I see all the love she has for me in them. Keeping my eyes on her, I begin the last part of my speech. “Last but not least, thank you to my beautiful costar, my leading lady in life. Sookie, I love you more as every day passes. You are the best thing that ever happened to me. I know it was a rocky road for us to get here, but I would do it all over again if I had to. Thank you for loving me, for being my wife, and the mother of the most amazing daughter in the world. And soon you’ll be the mother of the most precious little boy too,” I finish with a wink and smile. I had told Sookie that if I won the award I was going to tell the world that we’re expecting an addition to the family. She’s nearly five months along and we had learned the sex of the baby this past week at the doctor’s appointment. Other than an increase in her bra size and a few extra pounds around her waist, Sookie isn’t showing so the paparazzi have had no clue about the baby. I’m sure they will be hounding our every move now that I’ve let the cat out of the bad. But Sookie had shrugged her shoulders when she heard my plan, saying it was going to happen sooner or later. She’d rather it be on our terms than anyone else’s.
It’s always been on our terms.
After everything came out about Pam, Ocella, Alexi, and everyone else that had hurt us and Freyda, the paparazzi had been relentless. Alexi had committed suicide shortly after everything had come out. Other actresses and actors had come out to support Freyda, accusing Ocella of similar transgressions. There had been talk of filing charges against him, but he fled the country. As for Pam, she and Glassport were tried and convicted of fraud and embezzlement. They were sentenced to pay restitution as well as jail time. Glassport was disbarred. And Pam, well she’ll never work in the entertainment industry again.
Justice had been served.
But it came with a price.
Sookie and I were hounded by the paparazzi. It ultimately led to us leaving both Los Angeles and New York for good. Wanting to have something of a normal life, we’d settled in Louisiana, Bon Temps to be exact. I had bought the old Compton house before filming had wrapped on the last movie in The Vampire Mysteries. Sookie had been upset at what she called my “high-handedness”, but she had been thrilled at the same time. As much as she loved New York, she loved being home in Louisiana. The area had grown on me, especially once I saw how we could live a normal life. No one bothered us at the grocery store; people didn’t snap our picture while we were out eating. Having a home of our own meant we didn’t have to stay with Sookie’s parents when we wanted to visit. It also means Corbett couldn’t cock block me from making love to my wife.
Though that didn’t stop him from trying.
We’d spent months restoring the house; it had fallen into disrepair over the years. Sookie had painstakingly gone through thousands of interior decorating magazines and books, trying to find just the right things for our home. As long as it wasn’t pink, I didn’t care. All I wanted was a home with my wife and daughter.
“I have been truly blessed to have a career I love, one that has exceeded my wildest dreams. Thank you again for this.” I nod my head at the crowd and camera before steering Sookie towards the side of the stage. The music from the orchestra swells inside the auditorium and the crowd once again applauds.
“Well baby, how does it feel to be the winner of an academy award?” Sookie smiles at me as we walk backstage, following behind the assistant that is guiding me towards the room where the press is waiting to speak with me.
“It feels good,” I answer with a smile. I never thought I’d get here. The path I was on years ago would have never led me to this moment. I know it’s only because of Sookie that I stand here today.
“But I would be nothing without you. I am nothing without you,” I say as I pull her to a stop in the hallway. Sookie smiles at me and leans forward, meeting my lips with her own. The fire between us burns as brightly now as it did all those years ago when we met. It’s only because of the assistant clearing his throat that we separate.
“Sorry,” I tell him with a wolfish smile though I am anything but. We hurry along to the press room where the waiting paparazzi become a pack of rabid animals. Cameras flash incessantly and the reporters scream questions at us as we walk across the stage. Half the crowd wants to know how I feel about winning the award; the other half wants to know about our baby.
“Life in the fast lane, surely make you lose your mind,” I mutter before pasting a smile on my face.
“You know you love it,” Sookie whispers in my ear. She tries to pull away again but I keep ahold of her.
“Only as long as you are by my side,” I tell her fervently.
She smiles at me again. “Always.”
~ The End