Pam is the reason Sookie and I have been apart all these years? That cold, heartless bitch is the reason I don’t know my daughter! I am like a bull seeing red; my vision has gone hazy and I’m panting, trying to control the rage inside me. This pent-up aggression needs to come out somehow or I feel like my heart is going to explode. How the fuck could she have done this to me? I thought she was my friend; I thought she cared about me. All she fucking cared about was what I could do for her. She’d used me and I’d unknowingly let her. Pam never saw me as anything more than a paycheck she could sink her greedy talons in. I’m such a fool.
“Eric?” Sookie looks at me with worry all over her lovely face. “Please say something. You’re starting to scare me!”
“I don’t know what you want me to say,” I say feeling overwhelmed by all of my emotions. “The woman I loved tells me she tried to tell me about our child, but she was stopped by the woman I thought was my friend. Six years of hell are what I’ve been going through! Pam knew how I felt, how I still feel about you,” I say as I brush my hand across Sookie’s face. I can’t help it, I had to touch her. My hand felt like it was aching the entire time I fought to keep my hands in control of themselves. The moment my hand grazed the perfection of her skin it was like the sweetest relief was released in my body and a gasp of pleasure left my lips. Sookie too seems comforted by my touch, if her lashes fluttering closed and the pink blush of her cheeks are any indication. Her cheek pushes against my hand, nuzzling against it and I sigh in relief again.
My relief it short-lived though. Sookie seems to remember our strained circumstances and pulls away from my touch. I snatch my hand back as the sting of rejection pierces my heart. “I’m sorry; I shouldn’t have done that,” I offer hoarsely. It’s a wonder I can speak at all given the feeling of broken glass in my throat and mouth.
“Eric please don’t apologize. This conversation is hard for both of us. I don’t begrudge you for how you’re feeling.” She reaches across the cushion that separates us and grabs my hand. Her fingers link with mine in a firm grip. “We can’t go back,” she says softly, “but we can go forward. We have Allie to think about. We need to do what’s best for her first.”
“She doesn’t know I’m her father,” I state with a pained voice. My daughter, that beautiful, blonde angelic girl, thought me a stranger. That thought kills me! I want her to know I never intentionally abandoned her; I would have been there for her from the beginning if I had known. And poor Sookie! She went through the pregnancy and delivery alone. How brave my beautiful Sookie is! I admire her so much for everything she has gone through. How she is not bitter or hardened towards me is amazing.
“Allie knows her father is someone I loved very much. She also knows that her father never knew I was pregnant; we had broken up before she was born. I didn’t really think this was the type of conversation to have with a small child,” Sookie says with a grimace.
“I want to tell her I’m her father,” I state emphatically. “Where is she?”
“I sent Allie to my parents’ house. My plan was to go there after we’d finished our conversation.”
“So let’s go get her,” I declare as I stand up.
“Eric, my parents live at the northern end of the state. It’s over five hours in the car to get there,” Sookie explains. She can see me getting ready to explode so she hurries on. “Eric, I promise you I’m not intentionally keeping Allie from you. However, I knew that you and I had a lot of shit to work out and I didn’t want her around for this.”
“She’s my daughter too Sookie. I’ve already lost the last six years; I don’t want to miss another moment,” I declare passionately.
“I can understand that Eric, but we have some major issues to discuss. Where will we live? How will we split custody? It’s not as simple as ‘Hey, I’m your dad. Let’s go play.’ Even if you want it to be that easy,” Sookie says ruefully.
I know Sookie is only telling me the truth, but it pisses me off. She always was the more pragmatic of the two of us. I don’t know what Sookie’s plans are now that she’s left her show on Broadway. If she’s signed on to do another one then that will tie her to New York. I live in Los Angeles, but really it’s been a storage facility, not a true home. I don’t want us to be on opposite coasts; that’s no way to raise a child.
“You know I hate when you’re right,” I grumble as I sit back on the couch. I know it’s childish but I cross my arms over my chest and pout.
Sookie laughs and moves closer to me on the couch, prying my arms apart. “If it makes you feel better, Allie often tells me the same thing and reacts just like you,” she says with a sparkle in her eye and a smile on her lips. She has joined our hands together again and it gives me a sense of peace and hope for the future.
“Will you tell me about her?”
“Well let’s see,” Sookie says as she thinks about where to begin. “Allie’s full name is Allison Elizabeth Stackhouse. She was bornOctober 28 after thirty-two hours in labor. She celebrated her sixth birthday before we left New York; this year’s birthday party theme was Frozen and she went as Anna for Halloween. Her favorite color this week is blue; last week it was purple. Allie hates peas but loves carrots and Brussels sprouts. Her Christmas wish is that Santa will bring her a kitten. Allie loves to read, hates playing with dolls, and doesn’t understand why boys have cooties. She is perfect!”
She sounds absolutely enchanting. I look at Sookie nervously. “Do you think she will like me?”
Sookie smiles reassuringly at me. “Allie’s usually really friendly with people if you couldn’t tell in the restaurant. I don’t think she’ll ever have any problems accepting you. But what kind of father do you want to be?”
“I have six years to make up for, you do realize I’m going to spoil the hell out of her.” It will be nothing compared to what Mor will do though. I can already hear her squeals of excitement from across the ocean. Then again, I’m surprised my phone hasn’t been ringing constantly. Mormor had to have told Mor what is going on; there is no way she could have kept this to herself.
“I meant are you going to be an absentee dad, you know, one that only comes around when convenient. If that’s the case, I’m not sure I want to introduce you to Allie as her father,” Sookie says with a frown.
“You do not get to make that decision for me Sookie,” I say icily. “I’ve already been denied time with Allie; I’m not going to let you keep me from her. If I thought you’d agree to it, I’d have us all living in the same house so neither one of us missed out on another moment of Allie’s life. She needs both her parents. I want to be a good dad; I don’t know how though. My father was a domineering asshole that belittled my career choice. Said I should get a real job and stop fucking around with my life. I don’t want her to resent me like I resent him,” I say with a painful swallow.
Sookie had tensed with my initial words but slowly relaxed beside me. She knew years ago that my relationship with Far was tenuous. We never did repair our relationship. Even when I became famous, he sneered at my profession, telling me if I was a real man I’d get a real job. My father and I have avoided each other at all costs. I know it’s been difficult for Mor, and I hate putting her in that position.
“I don’t know if living together is a good idea,” Sookie says slowly. “I don’t want Allie to get confused. Plus, I don’t want her to see random women in and out of the house. How would I explain all your girlfriends to her?”
I sigh and drop my head back against the couch in defeat, pulling my hand free from hers so I can clench my fists at my sides. “You still think I’m that guy,” I say tiredly. “Did I ever bring random women to the house when I lived with you before? No, I did not. If my daughter were in the house, I wouldn’t bring someone over unless I thought they deserved to meet Allie. I’ve told you twice this afternoon Sookie that I am still in love with you. What more do you want from me?” I open my eyes to stare at her. I need to know that I am completely serious, that I will do any and everything to make this work.
Sookie stares at me with wide eyes. So many emotions pass across her lovely irises that I cannot make heads or tails of her thoughts.
“I want to believe everything you say Eric, but I can’t pick up like nothing happened. You still cheated on me,” she says softly with tears threatening to spill over. I hate that she’s crying again. “And to make matters worse, you’re filming a movie with the woman you cheated on me with! That’s not inspiring a lot of confidence for me to trust you.”
“I hate Freyda,” I say bitterly. “If I wasn’t obligated to do these films, I wouldn’t. This is the last one I’m contracted to do and I plan to walk away after this. I never want to work with her again. There is nothing between me and her except a lot of bad blood. If it will make you more comfortable, you can come on set when she and I have scenes to film,” I vow.
“I don’t think putting me and her in the same room is a good idea. I might snatch her head by her fake extensions and bitch slap her into the next century,” Sookie says heatedly.
I laugh loudly at her honestly. “Do it!” I’ve often wanted to slap her, but I would never hit a woman. If anyone deserves to give Freyda the ass whooping she has needed for years, it’s Sookie.
“You aren’t supposed to encourage me,” Sookie says with a laugh. “I can see the headlines now. ‘Catfight over Eric Northman’ and it would show two terrible pictures of the two of us and then a picture of two women rolling around on the ground with a lot of hair pulling and screeching. Gran would tan my hid if I did something like that,” Sookie says with a horrified look.
“But it would be worth it,” I say as I cover her hand with my own and squeeze.
It was an emotionally exhausting afternoon but exhilarating too. Sookie is back in my life for good. We haven’t resolved many of the issues that linger over our heads, but I feel like we are on the right track. Sookie and I continued our discussion over an early dinner at a tiny Cajun café a few blocks from her hotel.
As soon as we sat down, Sookie started telling me the story of how she ended up on Broadway. Pregnancy was especially hard for Sookie; morning sickness lasted nearly all day for her. She had ended up dropping out of NYU, something else I have to add to my list of regrets though Sookie says she loves being on Broadway. Sookie continued singing at Merlotte’s, and as I suspected, Sam tried to comfort her and offered to marry her to take care of the baby. She appreciated his offers, but she had all the help she needed from Jesus and Lafayette. One evening while in her third trimester, two well-known Broadway producers heard her sing. Russell Edgington and Bartlett Crowe stayed after the bar closed to speak with Sookie. Her vocal range and musical selections, everything from Ella Fitzgerald to Ozzy Osbourne, had captured their attention. They had a show they were interested in putting her in; she declined though because of Allie. They left their business cards with Sookie, telling her to call them if she wanted a change of scenery. The only reason she called them after Allie was born is because Sam’s advances became more insistent, and she feared for her safety. Even though this happened years ago, I want to find that shifty bastard and kick his ass. Russell and Bartlett have become good friends of Sookie’s; they were the backers for Bayou Blues. What I didn’t know about the show was that Sookie and Lafayette were also listed as co-creators of the show. It was an idea that had sprung from a night of late night laments and a little too much wine. Funny how something that started out as a joke had turned into a Tony and Grammy award-winning production. There are even rumors swirling around Hollywood that the same creative team beyond the most recent adaptation of Les Miserables wants to buy the rights to Bayou Blues and make a movie adaption with Sookie as the star.
“I’m so proud of you Sook,” I say to her and she flushes in embarrassment. I continue singing her praises even though it obviously embarrasses her. “You’ve done so well. I can’t believe how you’ve turned something you considered a hobby into a career. I know this isn’t something you wanted, but you are fucking amazing! I’m in awe of you,” I finish quietly. I don’t know how she’s managed to come out on top despite everything she has overcome. I think I’m more proud of everything she has accomplished than anything I’ve achieved in my life.
“You haven’t done so bad yourself, Mr. Sexiest Man Alive,” she says with an impish grin and I groan. She knows I hate that shit! “In all seriousness though,” she continues with a smile though her voice is serious, “you’ve done well Eric. You’re a movie star.”
“But it cost me you and Allie,” I say bitterly. If I could turn back time I would, and I would give it all up if it meant the three of us were a family. We go silent, both lost in our thoughts of the past. Our server clears away our dishes and takes our order for dessert and coffee. I still have to go to work tonight; I’m going to be running on fumes before the night is over.
“You really don’t remember that night?” Sookie is the one to break our silence when our coffee is delivered. There is something so good about coffee in New Orleans. I know I can get chicory coffee elsewhere but it doesn’t taste the same. Just like beignets don’t taste the same anywhere else.
“No, I don’t. Not that I want to remember it, but I need to know what the hell I was thinking. What possessed me to do it? It’s never something I’ve done before.” And I certainly haven’t done it since. There hasn’t been anyone serious since Sookie.
Sookie pours sugar and cream in her coffee as she ponders my words. “I find it really strange . . . it’s almost like you were roofied, like in The Hangover.”
My eyes widen as I stare at Sookie with my fork hanging in mid-air. Did Freyda drug me? I wouldn’t have thought it possible before, but then again I never considered Pam would sabotage my personal life for the sake of my career. Where those two bitches in cahoots?
“Do you think . . .” I start hoarsely but stop. I can’t even get the words out. It’s too much to hope.
“There’s only one way to find out,” Sookie says grimly but squeezes my hand to let me know we are in this together.
After throwing money down on the table, Sookie and I go back to her hotel. She hurries to get ready so she can come with me to the set tonight. I thought she’d looked perfect before, but she said she needed to get her battle gear on. I fidget in the living room of her suite as she changes. Thinking of her just a few feet away in lingerie or even naked has the one-eyed monster in my pants going from Bruce Banner to the Incredible Hulk; I was painfully hard and throbbing with need. And the Hulk is definitely threatening to smash his way out of my jeans when Sookie comes out of her bedroom dressed in a pair of skinny jeans with a few holes down the leg, bronze bustier with lace overlay, olive-green leather jacket, and bronze high heels. Her hair is that artfully tousled look that reminds me of spending Sunday mornings lying in bed. There is a minimal amount of make-up on her face, but the little that is there only enhances her natural beauty. She slings a brown leather Michael Kohr’s purse over her shoulder and stops when she sees me staring at her.
“What? I told you I was putting on my battle gear. You didn’t honestly think I was going to go to the set looking like a slob did you? You should know women well enough by now that clothes and make-up are our weapons,” she tells me giving herself one last look in the hall mirror. “If I had time to get a manicure, I would so I could have something sharp to stab out her eyes.” Sookie walks down the hallway and opens the door. She looks at me expectantly and I walk somewhat gingerly to the door. Did I mention that sassy, fiery Sookie is one of my very favorite sides to Sookie’s personality and it turns me on? Of course, I haven’t found anything about Sookie yet that turns me off. However knowing we are on our way to the film’s set has my amorous mood cooling but my blood still boils for a completely different reason.
When we arrive at tonight’s filming location, I’m ready to steamroll my way to Freyda’s trailer and demand answers from her. As usual, Sookie is the voice of reason. She said if we attack Freyda then we lose all hope of finding out any information. Did Freyda and Pam work together or did Pam take advantage of an unfortunate situation? I know Sookie’s right but I’m not in the mood for diplomacy; I want to know the fucking truth!
I lead Sookie to my trailer so I can get ready for tonight. Fortunately, the wardrobe crew has left my costume in my trailer. I hurry through a shower and then dress in the jeans and boots they have left me. I slip the shirt on but leave it unbuttoned because I know make-up needs to add some marks to my neck and chest. I exit the bedroom/bathroom area of my trailer and am rewarded with Sookie’s eyes widening and her cheeks turning a rosy shade of pink with her blush. My body has changed a lot in the last few years, more muscle and more definition. Sookie’s eyes take in every inch of my exposed skin and she shifts nervously in her seat. I won’t lie; I flex my muscles for her benefit. She bites her lower lip, which was always a sign she was getting turned on and my body reacts unwittingly.
“We should go,” I say hoarsely. If we stay here any longer, I’m going to ravish her against every flat surface in the trailer. “I need to get to make-up.” Hurry is all my mind can think of.
Sookie nods silently and rises from her seat though she does not move otherwise. I walk towards her without thinking, drawn to her as if we are two magnets. The pull between us is too strong; the desire to touch her cannot be broken. Lifting my hand, it unerringly finds its way to her cheek. My long fingers slide along her scalp into her silky soft hair. Her eyelids flutter closed and a small sigh of relief escapes her wet, parted lips. My head automatically lowers, the magnetic force between us drawing me to her lips.
A loud banging against my trailer door followed by the door swinging open breaks the spell between us. Alcide climbs the steps and stops when he sees me with Sookie. He looks between us rapidly and his face turns a dull shade of red; he knows he interrupted something important. I may have to kill him in his sleep. Cock blocking is a reason for justifiable homicide right? Insanity due to a major case of blue balls is a viable defense in my opinion. I think a jury would side with me if they heard all the facts of the case.
“Uh, I just wanted to check on you man, make sure everything was alright. But I can see I’m intruding,” Alcide says with a sheepish expression.
“It’s alright Alcide,” Sookie says as she disentangles herself from my grasp. No, it is not alright! “Eric invited me to watch you guys work tonight. I hope you don’t mind. We were on our way to make-up. Do you wanna join us?” Sookie’s sense of Southern hospitality kicks in and she tries to make everyone feel comfortable. Tell that to my aching cock. Hulk isn’t the right name for him; maybe I should rename him Blue.
The three of us exit my trailer. I exited before Sookie so I can offer her my hand to help her down the steep steps. Of course, I’m sneaky and hold on to her hand even as we walk to where they’ve set up the make-up trailer. The three of us joke and laugh with an ease you would think was based on years of friendship and not a few minutes. But that’s Sookie; she makes everyone feel as if they are an old family friend. I make sure to introduce her to everyone we meet. The crew that has been with us since the first film stares at Sookie and I with wide eyes; they’ve obviously put it together who she is. I see some of them gossiping among themselves, no doubt wondering what our current relationship is and wondering how Freyda will react.
I have to admit, I’m dying to know the answers to both of those questions myself!
Al and I walk Sookie to the actual set. Tonight we are shooting in an old graveyard. It’s a confrontation between my character and Al’s character since he comes across me comforting Freyda’s character as she grieves for her lost family. My skin crawls at the thought of having to touch Freyda or say words of love and comfort to her. Sookie skimmed through tonight’s script while I showered so she would know what to expect. I don’t know if she’s read the books or seen the movies, but I’m guessing the answer is a resounding no.
The crews are set up, ready to go, but Freyda is nowhere to be seen. Not surprising, but it’s fucking annoying. “What’s her excuse this time?”
The director looks disgusted as he answers. “Her assistant,” he gestures towards the unfortunate woman that’s been assigned the role of trying to help keep Freyda on the straight and narrow, “says she has food poisoning.”
“Alcohol poisoning’s more like it,” Alcide grumbles and I nod my head in agreement.
“It doesn’t matter,” the director says briskly. “We’ll film the confrontation between Alexander and Joe. We can’t afford to waste any more time. Let’s get the two of you on your marks and we’ll rehearse a few times before shooting. The director looks at Sookie who has stood slightly behind me, holding on to my arm. “Who’s this?” Usually we shoot with a closed set due to the inconsistent behavior exhibited by Freyda, but I don’t give a fuck. Let him try to throw Sookie off set; I’ll be right behind her.
“This is my friend Sookie Stackhouse. I invited her to watch us film tonight.”
The director looks back and forth between Sookie and I with a raised eyebrow; he too has been with us since the first film. “Well, this should make things interesting. I’ve seen you on Broadway; you’ve got a hell of a set of pipes. But don’t think you can cause a problem on my set. I’ll bounce your ass outta here so fast you leave skid marks.”
“My parents raised me better than that,” Sookie assure the director as she straightens up, looking indignant at the implication she is going to brawl like backwoods white trash. “But I won’t be anyone’s punching bag either. I only give as good as I get,” she states in a way that lets everyone present know she can handle her business.