Alcide and I rehearsed for about ninety minutes, starting out in slow motion so it would be easy to make sure we had all the correct moves in the routine that had been choreographed for us by the stunt crew. Alcide and I had worked with trainers throughout filming to make sure our fight scenes would look as legitimate as possible. Special effects will be added in post-production to speed up our movements so it looks as if two Supernaturals are fighting. We will also film part of this scene on a sound stage because it will need the use of harnesses and springboards to get all the high-flying effects needed. It’s too risky to do these types of stunts outdoors; the wind could catch hold of us while we are in the air and it could cause serious injury. And as much as Al and I would love to do all of our own stunts, we have stunt doubles to handle the more physically demanding aspects of our fight scene.
“Take it easy Killer,” Alcide says after we finish rehearsing. The crew is restaging the scene and setting up the lighting based on the changes we made due to rehearsing. The make-up artists have also touched up our make-up; it may be chilly outside but Al and I have definitely worked up a sweat because of our physical activity.
“What are you talking about?” My eyes wonder across the set to where Sookie is sitting in my director’s chair. Someone on the crew had brought her a coffee and a blanket to wrap around her body. Sookie is watching everything with avid interest, trying to commit every little detail to memory. I wonder if she is interested in working in movies. She certainly has more talent than most of the actresses in the industry today. The unprofessional leading lady of this film is a prime example of that statement. Sookie finally notices that Alcide and I are staring at her. She smiles broadly and waves her hand. We both wave at her but Alcide also blows her a kiss. Sookie laughingly catches his kiss and places it in her pocket.
“Easy there Sparky,” Alcide says as he hears me growl in warning. She is the mother of my daughter, the woman who had owned my heart for almost eight years. The only person that should be blowing her kisses on this set is me!
I stare stonily at Alcide who rolls his eyes at me. “I know there have been a lot of changes for you in the last day. I cannot begin to understand the emotional roller coaster that you’ve been on for who knows how many years. But do not lose focus of the fact that we have a job to do here tonight and that if you aren’t fully focused on what you need to be doing one or both of us could end up hurt. And I’m not your fucking punching bag!” Alcide punches me in the shoulder before going over to the refreshment table to get him something to drink.
Having been abandoned by Alcide and not wanting to stand around alone like an idiot, I walk to where Sookie is sitting all bundled up. She looks cozy wrapped up in the soft plaid blanket with only her head peeking out. Her nose and cheeks are red from the chilly air. “If you’re cold, you can head back to my trailer,” I offer lamely. I feel really uncomfortable with Sookie suddenly, like I’m back to walking on eggshells.
“Would it make you more comfortable if I went back to your trailer? Your friends can’t flirt with me if I’m hiding in there,” Sookie says with a sly grin. She offers me the Styrofoam cup holding her beverage and I take a huge swig, burning my tongue from the heat of the coffee and giving myself cavities because of how sweet the beverage is.
“Ick,” I say with disgust. “I forgot that you always put a pound of sugar in your coffee along with your flavored creamer.” I hand the coffee cup back to her and shove my hands inside the pockets of my jacket. Now that I’m starting to cool down, it’s a bit uncomfortable out here without a heavy jacket.
“You have no taste when it comes to coffee,” she tells me haughtily. “You think that shit they serve at gas stations and 7-11 are good.”
“I like my coffee to taste like coffee, not the inside of a confectionery shop,” I say belligerently though it is hard to keep up my indignant stance when my body shivers as a strong breeze blows through.
“Good lord, you’re freezing! Why don’t you go back to your trailer?”
“By the time I get there they may be ready to start filming. I don’t want to hold everyone up more because I can’t stand a little cold.”
Sookie rolls her eyes but rises from my chair unwrapping the blanket from her body. “Here. You need this more than I do,” she says as she offers me the blanket.
“But then you’ll be cold.” I stubbornly refuse to take the blanket from her outstretched hand. I’m sure it will only be a few more minutes before the director says we are ready to shoot the scene.
Sookie rolls her eyes at me and shakes the blanket in her hand as if that will force me to take it. “I’ll be alright. Just because you come from Sweden doesn’t mean you’re a freaking polar bear and can handle the cold. Take the damn blanket.”
“I have a better idea. What if we share it?” Sookie looks at me dubiously, accurately thinking the blanket is not big enough for the both of us. And she would be right, if we were sitting beside each other. However it is plenty big enough to cover both of us when she is sitting on my lap. Before she can protest, I pull her in my arms and sit us down in my chair, with her legs draped over the side.
“Now if you spread the blanket out, we’ll both be covered,” I say with a big grin on my face. I think Sookie would call the expression “shit-eating” though for the life of me I don’t know why.
“You think you’re so clever don’t you bucko?” Her tone of voice is sour but she does spread the blanket over us. We aren’t entirely covered but I can guaran-damn-tee that I don’t feel the cold anymore. I inhale deeply and my eyes roll back in my head as I become intoxicated on Sookie’s perfume. She smells sweet and clean at the same time; it’s a smell that instantly soothes me. I can feel my body relaxing for the first time in hours as I hold her loosely in my arms.
“Shhhh,” I tell her as I nuzzle my face in the crook of her neck. “Don’t ruin it,” I whisper near the hair covering her ear and she shivers slightly. I know it’s not from the cold, but because of my presence so close to her. I finally have her in my arms again and I never want to let go. All the shit we need to deal with fades away as we sit in the chair with our heads tilted together, our eyes are closed. We are enjoying the peace and serenity of this perfect moment.
“Who the fuck are you? And why the fuck are you sitting on my man?” I stiffen beneath Sookie and all the tension returns to my body. My moment of happiness is destroyed by Freyda’s shrill voice; Karma must fucking hate me. Underneath the blanket, Sookie’s hands squeeze mine reassuringly. She makes no move to get off my lap; if anything, she cuddles closer.
“My name is Sookie. I’m an old friend of Eric’s,” Sookie says nicely though she adds extra emphasis to the expression ‘old friend’. “We spent the day together getting reacquainted and then he invited me to watch him work tonight.” Everything she says is the complete truth, and it is ambiguous enough that Freyda can jump to whatever conclusions she wants to.
“You’re lying! Eric would never betray me with trash like you. He is mine!” Freyda is coming unhinged; screaming hysterically for everyone on the set to hear. Her voice is shrill and loud; her eyes have a wild look to them and are extremely bloodshot. Freyda is high on something which makes her extremely dangerous. I do not know what she is capable of like this, but I’m not willing to risk Sookie getting hurt. I lift Sookie in my arms and set her down behind me so that my body is between her and Freyda. Alcide looks concerned and edges closer to us, but he does not interfere. He may not know the full story of what’s happening, but he knows enough to know I am most definitely not with Freyda.
“Freyda, I most definitely am not yours,” I say emphatically. “You were a mistake that I never would have made if I had been sober. Sookie is who I love, who I have always loved. I have nothing but contempt for you. I would never be with you because you are the reason I lost Sookie,” I finish venomously.
“Eric you don’t mean that baby,” Freyda whines as she comes closer to me. She tries to touch my chest, but I grab her wrists and shove her backwards gently to put distance between us. She ends up stumbling and falling down to the ground. She cries pitifully, hoping to garner sympathy. I would have been more concerned for her well-being if she wasn’t looking around to see if anyone is buying her act. Like I said, she’s not that good an actress. When no one comes to her side, her crocodile tears stop and she glares at Sookie and me furiously.
“You think that fucking trash behind you would have made you famous? I’m the reason you’re a star. You were a fucking nobody until your name was linked with mine in the gossip columns! Yeah you had a little fame because of that ridiculous TV show, but I made you a fucking star!” Freyda’s make-up is smeared all over her face, making her look like a crying drag queen. Her hands are curled in fists and spittle flies from her mouth as her vitriol continues.
“If it wasn’t for me taking you back to my hotel room, you would be just another pretty face lost in the crowd. It was too easy to come on to you. Pam made sure there were paparazzi around all the time. She knew you needed me to become a superstar. You were so fucking pathetic that night; all you did was whine for your precious Sookie. Thank Christ you passed out in my bed before we could fuck! You probably would have been the worst fucking lay in history!”
“What the fuck did you say?!?!?!” I advance on Freyda and stand over her menacingly. She shrinks back in fear, which is a wise move on her part. I am out of control; I am not a violent person but I think I understand for the first time how someone could murder another human being.
When I begin speaking again, my voice is eerily calm yet there is a definite edge to my voice. My control is tenuous at best and for the first time in my life I am afraid I will strike a woman. “Do you have any idea what you cost me? Do even care about the damage you caused? You sold yourself for cheap publicity; you’re no different from a whore on the street selling her body! I fucking despise you and I will make sure that you are finished in this industry. No one will ever fucking hire you again!” With a last look of contempt, I turn my back on her and walk towards Sookie who is staring at the two of us with wide, incredulous eyes.
I doubt there is any legal recourse I can take against Freyda or Pam, but really, how do you put a price on happiness? That is ultimately what Freyda and Pam cost me: my family. If it hadn’t been for their interference in my life, Sookie and I would be happily married now, perhaps with a sibling or two for Allie. As I reach Sookie, I release a deep breath and it feels as if I purged the nightmare from my body. I am finally free; there is no more guilt, no more self-loathing. There is lightness inside of me where there was once darkness. I don’t expect Sookie and me to pick up exactly where we left off, but I know that we will be together again. She is the other half of me; there is no one else for me. And there is so much more now that we have Allie. Thinking of my love and my daughter brings a genuine smile of happiness to my face, a smile I haven’t smiled since I lost Sookie.
Reaching Sookie, I stand in front of her, cupping her beautiful face in my hands. “I didn’t cheat on you,” I say softly. My thumbs brush the skin underneath her eyes, the indigo orbs shining with an emotion I haven’t seen directed at me in a long time: love.
“No you didn’t,” she whispers her hands coming up to rest against my heart which pounds wildly for her. “What do we do now?”
“I’d like to kiss you,” I whisper roughly. There are dozens of pairs of eyes staring at us, but I don’t care. I’ve been starved of her love for too long; never again will I be denied the sweetness of her kiss, the warmth of her hug, or the brilliance of her smile.
“NO!!!!!!” Wrapped up in my new found happiness, I had ignored the potential threat that Freyda still posed. The next thing I know, Freyda has climbed on my back and is beating on my body with her fists. I raise my arms to try to protect my face and she uses her nails to gouge my flesh. Freyda is screaming like a banshee, her words not anything human. She has come completely undone. The drugs in her body have given her inhuman strength; she clings to my body with her legs only and I’m finding it hard to breathe as she squeezes my ribs between her thighs. I fall to my knees as I fight with the she-demon and several of the crew, including Alcide, pull her off my battered body. I am gasping for breath, trying to assess my injuries as the others deal with the demented bitch. Thankfully I’m still wearing the leather jacket required for my character, but that did not spare my neck, face, and hands from her dagger-like nails.
“Eric!” Alcide shouts a warning, letting me know that Freyda is loose and trying to attack again. I can’t catch my breath though; it feels as if I’m being stabbed in the ribs every time I try to inhale. With no hope of fighting her off, I curl up in a ball, trying to protect the vital areas until the others can pull her off me. I’m braced for her attack, thinking she will jump on me again. But it never comes. One minute she is screaming shrilly; the next is blessedly silent except for the sound of a body hitting the ground. Did the drugs finally kill her?
I open my eyes and sit up slowly. Sookie stands over Freyda’s prone body, flexing her right hand. Freyda has been knocked out cold; her jaw is already starting to swell. Not taking any chances, Sookie pushes Freyda’s body with her foot so that she is on her stomach. In amazement, I watch as Sookie pulls Freyda’s hands behind her back. She calls Alcide over to hold Freyda in place with a knee in the center of her back while keeping her hands restrained. Sookie pulls a Swiss Army knife from her jacket pocket and begins cutting up the blanket that we had cuddled under. She cuts two long strips of cloth and takes them over to Freyda’s still unconscious form. She secures one end of the material around Freyda’s wrist, tying the material tightly and then pulls it taut to secure it around the opposite ankle. Sookie repeats the action with the other strip of cloth and Freyda’s unbound limbs. When she is finished, she pushes Freyda’s body so she is lying on her side with her limbs secured behind her. Sookie stands up and brushes the dust off her hands.
“Welcome to Louisiana bitch,” Sookie says smugly. Her smug expression fades away when she sees me in pain and hurries to my side. “Someone call an ambulance!” She helps me ease my leather jacket off and I groan in pain.
“I dialed 911 the moment Freyda showed up on set,” the director says. “I knew she was going to cause trouble. I was hoping to use this situation to force her to go to rehab. I’m so sorry Eric,” he says regretfully. I’m not happy, but I understand it. His job is to do what is best for the film. But as far as I’m concerned, fuck the film. There is no way in hell I can continue to work with this crazy bitch. You can be damn sure I’m pressing charges against her.
“I thought I was supposed to be the one to get in the catfight,” Sookie jokes lamely as she tries to clean the cuts on my neck and face with the items in the first aid kit someone handed her. I hiss in pain as the alcohol and antiseptic sting the open wounds. She winces when she hears my utterance of pain. She tries to distract me as she continues to tend my injuries. “You know the paparazzi are going to say that you got beat up by a girl.”
“I was trying to be the knight in shining armor and protect you from the evil queen,” I say sullenly. My pride is more than a little bruised that a girl that I outweigh by over a hundred pounds was able to inflict so much damage. I know intellectually she is on drugs and they helped her, but that doesn’t soothe my damaged male ego.
“You should have used your stuntman,” Alcide tries to joke as Sookie continues to care for me. She sends him a glare and he mumbles an apology.
The sound of sirens is getting closer to us. Freyda is beginning to stir; Alcide and our stuntmen are standing around her to prevent her from getting the chance to escape her bindings. Sookie smiles softly, as she brushes a kiss against my forehead. “My hero,” she says in her best Southern belle voice. Her lips move to my ear, so only I can hear what she has to say. “The least I can do is nurse you back to a full recovery.” Images of Sookie in a slutty nurse’s costume fill my mind and I groan for an entirely different reason. She smiles and kisses my forehead again, her cleavage right in my face, before she pulls away so the EMTs that have arrived can have access to my body.
Freyda has regained consciousness and is screaming to be freed, that she will sue all of us for mistreating her. The police have also arrived by this time, several squad cars in fact. Freyda smiles gratefully now that the police are here, thinking they will help her. However, her relief is short-lived; one of the police officers slaps a pair of handcuffs around her wrists. Freyda thrashes around, trying to free herself as the officer restrains her. Instead of releasing her from the cotton restraints, two officers lift her wriggling body between them and carry her to the back of an open police vehicle. Freyda’s screams continue to pollute the air until the officers have her body secured inside the police car. Even inside the vehicle she is screaming, her blotched face visible in the back mirror. Two of the officers drive away with Freyda in the vehicle. I pity them; I hope they have ear plugs. The remaining police officers are taking statements from the cast and crew while the EMTs continue to work on me; they are going to take me to the hospital. Based on the pain in my torso, they want to take X-rays to see the extent of my injury. As they secure me to the gurney, Sookie holds my hand the entire time and walks beside me as they wheel me to the waiting ambulance.
“Come with me,” I plead as they lower the legs of the gurney to slide me in the back of the vehicle.
“Of course,” Sookie says as she climbs up in the vehicle to sit next to me. She grabs hold of my hand again, placing a kiss on my knuckles. “You won’t be able to get rid of me now Mr. Northman.”