Eleven months later
“Mr. Northman when you finish in hair and makeup, I’ll escort you to the set.” A harried assistant says from behind me while the makeup artist continues to brush powder over my face. I can’t nod or move my head so I give the young man a thumbs up to let him know I heard him. Today marks the beginning of the press tour for the fourth movie in The Vampire Mysteries series. It’s surreal that we are here when you consider the hellish experience making this movie was. Once we resumed shooting in January, Freyda was true to her word and was a complete professional. Her dedication and hard work actually allowed us to finish shooting within a month. We managed to film more in that month than we did in the months before her stint in rehab. During the time off, the writers actually reworked some of the script so I think the final product is better than what we had to begin with.
The studio wanted the movie to come out in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, so post-production started before the movie finished filming. The director showed us a rough cut of the movie before we began the press junket. I know there are still a few minor tweaks that need to be made, but overall it looked good. It’s not Oscar-worthy, but I think the fans will appreciate it. A lot of fans were unhappy with the author when she took the series in a completely different direction, one that didn’t give anyone the ending they wanted. And the way the film ends allows Freyda and me to exit the series like we both want.
David O. Selznick, the man behind Gone With the Wind, was haunted for the rest of his life because of the success of this movie. It was his greatest triumph, and his greatest enemy. Selznick admitted that he spent the rest of his career trying to top the success of one of cinema’s all-time greatest films. While I don’t think The Vampire Mysteries is anywhere in the same league as Gone With the Wind, I know that I will be forever haunted by these films. The public will always recognize me as Alexander, the thousand-year old vampire; not as Eric Northman. As Rita Hayworth once said with bitterness, “”Men go to bed with Gilda, but wake up with me.” I understand the sentiment behind that thought. My success as an actor is something I both celebrate and abhor. I may seem ungrateful to others because I resent my celebrity status, but it had cost me time with Sookie and Allie; time that I’ll never be able to get back.
It’s been over a year since that fateful morning in New Orleans when my precocious daughter walked up to a complete stranger and captured my heart. A year since Sookie and I reconciled. It’s been difficult trying to keep our relationships a secret, but we have. There hasn’t been a whiff of gossip about the two of us, nor has anyone gotten wind of the fact that I have a seven-year old daughter going on twenty-one. I came home the other day to find her wearing makeup and talking about a boy she liked in her gymnastics class.
Sookie had to talk me down off the ledge; I’d been ready to call Corbett and Jason to take me out to buy a gun and teach me how to shoot.
The makeup artist runs her brush one last time over my face before removing the cape protecting my clothing from the powder. “All finished Mr. Northman,” she says with a polite smile directed at me in the mirror.
“Thank you,” I say with a slight smile as I push myself out of the director’s chair I’d been seated in. Today’s interview is with Amelia Broadway, the reigning queen of daytime television. She thinks of herself as the next Oprah. She doesn’t have nearly Oprah’s talent, but she certainly has Oprah’s ambition . . . thanks to Amelia’s father’s money. Freyda, Sookie, and I had agreed to do our in-depth interview with Amelia because she has the largest television audience. Granted when news gets out about the content of our interview, I’m sure every major news affiliate around the world will pick it up. It’s certainly going to catapult Amelia to the next level, and it’s going to make the three of us the most sought after people in the eyes of the paparazzi.
We aren’t doing this for the fame though.
It’s about justice.
“Follow me Mr. Northman.” The assistant walks briskly down the hallway leading towards the studio. Thankfully my long legs make it easy to keep up with him. “Now Ms. Broadway is going to ask you a series of questions about the movie, and then she’s going to segue way into the events of nearly a year ago that happened on set between you and Ms. de Castro. Are you sure you will be comfortable discussing that?” The assistant turns to look back at me, his finger hovering over the button on his headset that will enable him to talk. He has a panicked look in his eyes, as if he expects me to back out of the interview.
I chuckle as I reassure him that everything is fine. Freyda, Sookie, and I had already sat down with Amelia Broadway before to outline how we wanted to the interview to progress. She’d also wanted to involve her legal team to make certain that she wasn’t opening herself up to a lawsuit with the information we were going to tell the world in our interview. Sookie and I had already spoken with great length to Mr. Cataliades about what we were planning to do, so I knew that while Pam may try to file a lawsuit against us for defamation of character, I knew that we would immediately file a counter lawsuit. Given all the information we had, and the added proof that we had about Pam and Glassport embezzling funds, no judge in the world would side with her.
The assistant leads me to Amelia’s set. Normally her talk show is broadcast in front of a live audience, but Freyda, Sookie, and I stipulated that our interviews be done on a closed set with minimal crew. The fewer that know what is discussed, the better for us until we are ready for the interview to be broadcast.
The assistant grabs a microphone from a table and steps behind me to clip it on the waist of my pants. He runs the wire underneath my shirt and then clips the microphone in between the buttons of my white shirt. Sookie had insisted on the outfit I wear today; dark jeans and a white button down shirt. My hair is freshly cut, styled in the way she likes. My skin is nicely tan thanks to our recent vacation which makes my eyes seem bluer than what they are. I like my outfit; it’s relaxed and I feel comfortable, but something is missing.
My eyes flick down to where the tan line of my wedding ring sticks out on my left hand. The ring hasn’t left my finger since Sookie put it there two months ago. After I’d finished filming, I’d disappeared with my family for a long overdue vacation. The three of us needed time to be a family. Our time in Louisiana had been a necessary adjustment period for us, but we needed to have time where it was simply the three of us. It hasn’t been easy; Sookie and Allie were used to being on their own. Sookie and I don’t always see eye to eye when it comes to parenting so there have been plenty of spats as we try to find common ground. And Allie, my beautiful daughter, is finding out that having a father isn’t the fairy tale she thought it would be. There have been plenty of times where she has tried to test the boundaries, seeing if she can get away with things she shouldn’t. The first time I had to punish her, I thought my heart was going to break. She’d cried huge crocodile tears and thrown a temper tantrum, but I’d held firm. It was the worst feeling in the world when my daughter had turned from me, seeking comfort from Sookie. I’d been frantic all night, thinking I’d destroyed my budding relationship with my daughter. Sookie had tried to calm me down, saying that Allie would forget about it in the morning, but I didn’t want to hear it. I’d slept fitfully, and it wasn’t until morning when Allie climbed into our bed to snuggle with me did I feel better.
My wedding ring is burning a hole in my pocket. Sookie had told me to take it off for the first part of my interview, saying Amelia and the viewers will be distracted by the simple platinum band on my finger. I am distracted by how wrong I feel not to have it on my finger. The ring itself is not very heavy, but the significance behind the ring is everything. Sookie and I married in a small ceremony while we were visiting Mor and Mormor in Sweden. Michelle and Corbett had delayed their European vacation until the latter half of the summer, so they had been in Sweden when Sookie and I chose to marry in September. The only one missing was Adele, but we flew her over so she wouldn’t miss anything. Jason and Holly had wanted to come too, but they didn’t want to put their son, named Earl after Adele’s husband, on an airplane for that long. The ceremony had been simple but breathtaking given the Northern Lights had been our backdrop.
“Eric!” Amelia Broadway, an attractive woman comes hurrying across the stage towards me with her hand outstretched in greeting. Very little about Amelia is natural anymore. Her ginger hair is swept back from her face, leaving her bangs to frame the blue eyes that can only be achieved through contact lenses. Her skin is covered by layers of makeup to give her the complexion of a porcelain doll. I think her makeup is heavier than the stuff they used to make me look like a vampire. Her hourglass figure, which she has publicly admitted is thanks to the best plastic surgeons in the country, is encased in a navy blue form-fitting dress with gold jewelry as her only accent. She wasn’t my first choice to host this expose; I thought it would have been better suited to someone like Anderson Cooper, but the women overruled me. I thought she didn’t have the sensitivity to handle this conversation. Amelia had always struck me as opportunistic, willing to step on anyone to get to the top. Even now she looks like a shark scenting blood in the water. But Sookie, and to a lesser extent Freyda, insisted Amelia be the one to do the interview.
“Hello Ms. Broadway. It’s a pleasure to see you again.” Mor would be proud of me for using my manners even though I want to recoil from the woman’s touch. Her skin feels slimy to me; or maybe it’s because I think she’s a snake in the grass.
“Are you all set for our interview?” Hooking her arm through mine, she leads me to the set which is decorated to resemble a living room. A dark brown leather couch sits in the middle of the set, tables on either end. To the left of the couch is a matching chair, which I’m sure is where Amelia will be sitting. Since Sookie will be joining me halfway through my interview, the couch is where we will be sitting. Amelia gestures for me to have a seat as she settles herself in the chair. She crosses her legs and leans against the arm so that she is closer to me. Given the tightness of her dress, her actions could be viewed as seductive. However, I know that Amelia’s tastes lie more with the blonde I married than with me, though something tells me that if we were a package deal she would be interested.
See why I think she is a snake?
“I have nothing to hide,” I reply confidently. I want the world to hear my story; it needs to know everything that’s happened to all of us.
“So Eric, tell me what happened that night on the set? The night when Freyda attacked you,” Amelia clarifies as if I don’t know what night she is referring to.
We’ve been on set for about two hours. Amelia has asked me the basic questions about how I got started in acting, my role on FDNY (which I let slip that I’ll be reprising my role as Jameson for an upcoming arc when the show picks up again in the winter), and of course that led to The Vampire Mysteries. We’ve talked about the upcoming movie, how it’s different from the book but it will be something the fans will definitely enjoy, and now all that’s left to discuss is the onset issue between Freyda and me.
“Well, it had started like any other night when filming. Alcide and I were rehearsing since we were shooting a fight scene. Freyda was late to the set,” I relate and Amelia interrupts me.
“Was Freyda often late to the set?” Amelia has propped her chin on her hand, trying to look as if she is engrossed in my story. To me, it looks fake, but what do I know?
“Yes. The entire filming was … difficult up to that point.” I pause to see if Amelia will interrupt me again. When she remains silent, I continue my story. “When it became clear that Freyda wasn’t going to show up, the director decided to film the scene without Freyda. She could be added in during editing. During a break in filming, Alcide and I were relaxing with Sookie.” This is the opening to set up the rest of what is to come in the interview.
“And who is Sookie?”
“My wife,” I say proudly as a genuine smile spreads across my face. Amelia looks shocked at my proclamation, and she should be. We didn’t tell her this part of the story, thinking no one would be able to keep it quiet once word got out.
“You’re…you’re married?!?!?! How long have you been married?” Amelia opens and closes her mouth like a guppy. Her expression turns more comical as Sookie walks on the set, coming to sit beside me. She looks like an angel wearing a white dress with a little black sweater.
“About two months. We married in a small ceremony with just immediate family present. But we’ll get to all this later.” I can’t help the smile that spreads across my face, especially since I’ve put my wedding ring back on my finger where it belongs. Sookie snuggles against my side and clasps my hand. I love the feel of her metal rings against my skin and I press a quick kiss against her head as a sign of love and appreciation that she is here with me for this.
Amelia blinks rapidly and shakes her head, trying to clear the haze that had set in with our announcement. “Of course. What happened while you were relaxing with Alcide and Sookie?”
The smile falls from my face as I think about what happened that night. I’m no longer angry at Freyda, but that night is still extremely painful to talk about. All of us knew this wouldn’t be easy, but it has to be done.
“It was cold. Sookie had sat in my chair wrapped in a blanket. When we took a break, I picked her and sat her in my lap; she spread the blanket over both of us. It was then that Freyda came on the set. She was…less than pleased to see me with Sookie.”
“I think that is an understatement,” Amelia says wryly. “Freyda attacked you. Why?” She leans forward again, her hands clasped tightly in her lap. She disgusts me; she is a glorified version of the paparazzi. I know she is the means to an end, but I hate that I have to bear my dirty laundry to her. I’d rather we had written the story up ourselves and sold it to a magazine. We’re still doing that; People is printing the full story in a special edition that is coming out the day after the interview with Amelia airs. In it, there will be articles written by all three of us as well as pictures of my family. Like Sookie had said, if we don’t give them something about Allie, then we will be hounded relentlessly. It’s still going to be bad for the next few weeks, months even, but it will eventually die down.
At least that’s what I keep telling myself.
“Eight years ago, when we were filming the first movie in The Vampire Mysteries series, I was involved with Sookie. It was before she was a Broadway star, and I was just beginning to make waves in the industry thanks to FDNY. Our relationship was a bit rocky because she was still a student at NYU and I was constantly filming. Rumors were swirling that Freyda and I were having an affair.” At these words Sookie flinches and hangs her head. I squeeze her hand in reassurance.
“Didn’t you? There are plenty of pictures from the filming of that first movie showing you and Freyda very friendly with each other. There are even pictures showing you leaving her hotel room in the morning.” Amelia’s voice is challenging, daring me to contradict the photographs that were splashed all over every tabloid magazine and website for the world to see.
“The pictures are real, but it was all staged,” I declare firmly. “My manager Pamela Ravenscroft convinced Freyda and the producers of the film that if we were a couple it would generate publicity for the movie.” Disgust is clear in my tone.
“The Twilight effect,” Amelia smirks. “But if your manager came up with this plan, didn’t you know anything about it?”
“No,” I respond while shaking my head. “I would never have agreed to it. I was in love with Sookie; I planned to ask her to marry me when she came down to visit me on the set of the film.”
“So what happened?”
“I thought I had the flu,” Sookie says for the first time on camera. “I stayed in New York because I was too sick to get on the airplane. Pam had Freyda take advantage of that.”
“You keep mentioning Pam, Eric’s manager-”
“Former manager,” I hurry to clarify.
“Yes, former manager,” Amelia mentions with a small smile. “How do you know that Pam was behind the plot to break the two of you up? It could have been Freyda all on her own?”
“I know it was Pam,” Sookie says firmly. “The day all the pictures of Eric and Freyda were published, someone sent me a package through a courier service. The package contained all the pictures the photographer had taken of Eric and Freyda the night before. At the bottom of the package was a note that Eric had moved on to greener pastures.” Sookie takes a deep breath, releasing it with a shudder. She discreetly wipes at the tears that have rolled down her cheeks. I squeeze her tightly to my side, sorry to have ever hurt her, sorry that this continues to hurt her.
“Anyway, Eric and I broke up as soon as I saw the pictures. I was hurt and betrayed as I’m sure you can imagine,” Sookie says with a look to Amelia. They share a look that only women can understand. “A few weeks after we broke up, I wanted to see Eric. I missed him; I still loved him. I wanted to try to work things out; there was more than just the two of us to think about. The problem was, I had no way of contacting him. Pam had changed his cell phone number because he was being hounded by the press. I went to Pam, hoping she would help me. Instead she told me that Eric had moved on to greener pastures and didn’t want me in his life. I knew then she was the one that sent me the package of photos because she said the same thing that was included on the message.”
Even though Amelia knew all of this ahead of time, she looks properly outraged. “So Pam kept you two apart? For what reason? And how did you ever find your way back to each other?”
I smile widely thinking of that fateful morning. “Our daughter. She saw me having breakfast with Alcide in New Orleans and decided to introduce herself. Everything snowballed from there”
Absolute silence descends on the set. We may have neglected telling Amelia about Allison too. “Your daughter?” Her eyes swing to Sookie as she puts everything together. “You didn’t have the flu when you missed going to Louisiana. You were pregnant.”
Sookie nods her head. “As soon as I found out, I tried contacting Eric. I even told Pam I was pregnant and that’s why I needed to see him. She told me I was holding him back, that the last thing his career needed was a hack lounge singer and a baby dragging him down.”
There is more to the interview but I pause the recording and turn to look at Pam triumphantly. She stares at me without any expression on her face. That’s not true; she looks hard as if there isn’t an ounce of emotion in her. Pam is perfectly coiffed as usual. The only sign I’ve struck a nerve is the muscle tick in her cheek.
“So you finally found out? I wondered how long it would take before that bitch spilled the beans,” Pam says as she taps her nails against her desk.
“That bitch?” The anger swells inside me and I jump to my feet. I’ve never hit a woman before but I’ll make an exception in Pam’s case. She isn’t human anyway. “You’re referring to my wife and the mother of my child. I’d be very careful what you say,” I growl out.
“Oh please. The two of them will be the death of your career. Sex symbols don’t have a family! Your mystique is wrapped up in that you are an attractive man who is alone. Every woman fantasized about being the one to be with you, and men want to be you because you get all the girls. Way to fuck up your career!” Pam rolls her eyes at what she considers my obvious cluelessness.
Her explanation has no merit. Plenty of married actors in Hollywood are still thought of as sex symbols. To some, being seen as a family man makes the person seem more attractive.
“I did you a favor the day Sookie broke up with you,” Pam declares vehemently as she rises from her desk. “You never would have achieved any of this,” she gestures around her office which holds paraphernalia from the movies I’ve done over the years. “You would still be slinging drinks in that bar if it wasn’t for me. Did you ever think of that?”
I also rise from my seat, knowing that nothing I say will get through Pam’s delusions. “Maybe, maybe not. But I would have been happy.” I turn and walk towards the office door, opening it where Mr. Cataliades is waiting for me. He walks in with a nod as he hands an envelope to Pam. “What’s this?” She looks down at the thick envelope of papers in her hand.
“Notice that my client, Mr. Northman, is suing you for fraud and embezzlement,” Mr. Cataliades says breezily. “It seems that his signature on several legal documents was forged. The only people who benefitted from the forgery were you and a Mr. Glassport.” At this, Pam blanches and her eyes widen in fear. “Oh don’t worry about Mr. Glassport my dear; he’s receiving his own set of those papers as we speak.”
With a nod to me, Mr. Cataliades leaves the office. “Eric you can’t do this. Everything I’ve done has been for you,” Pam cries out in panic as the enormity of the situation finally sinks in.
“No. Everything you’ve done has been for yourself, and now the world knows it. Even if you don’t end up in jail, you are finished in this business. No one will ever work with you again,” I state confidently. I turn to the door, ready to walk out but stop and swing back to face Pam. “Oh and Pam, you’re fired!”
“How did it go?” My lovely wife has waited for me in a limousine outside of Pam’s office in Los Angeles. The movie premier is tomorrow night but the interview with Amelia will air this evening. Tomorrow is going to be a nightmare, but as long as Sookie is by my side, I know we will weather the storm.
“I gave her my best Donald Trump impersonation.” I grin at Sookie who rolls her eyes. My wife can’t understand my fascination with The Apprentice. I don’t even watch the show except for the last ten minutes. I just like hearing Trump tell the people they are fired. If I thought I could have pulled it off, I would have gone all Vince McMahon from the WWE on Pam. Jason turned me on to it while in Louisiana. It’s quite comical to see McMahon get all red in the face as he screams, “You’re fired,” at someone. And the way he does it, fired becomes a word that has more than just two syllables.
“So it’s over?” Sookie snuggles against my side as the car pulls away from the curb. I kiss the top of her head and settle my arms around her.
“Yes Lover. That chapter of our life is finally over.”