“Well that went better than I expected,” Pam says sarcastically as she returns to the box with two drinks in her hands. She keeps the glass of champagne for herself and offers me the tumbler full of clear liquid. I need something to dull this burning pain inside me. Taking the offered drink, I swallow the contents quickly, hoping to numb the pain. But I know better; nothing I’ve done over the years makes this ache and emptiness go away. Women, booze, drugs . . . nothing has worked. I may get a brief respite, but when the pain returns it’s more intense, more crippling.
“How did you know he was here?” My voice is hollow; I’ve completely shut down so I can make it through the next few hours. I will break down in the privacy of my hotel room; it won’t be the first time I’ve destroyed a hotel room in a fit of rage and grief.
“I saw him in the lobby,” Pam says in a hushed voice. Her usual snark is absent as she stares at me worriedly. Nothing in this world affects me anymore, except for Sookie. I’ve become a shell of a man, nothing more than what the world expects me to be. After my indiscretion with Freyda hit the internet and entertainment news outlets, my fate was sealed. The paparazzi hounded me relentlessly trying to find who would be my next conquest. The pictures of Freyda and I were tame compared to many I’ve seen of others, but they painted a very clear picture of what happened. The images show us drinking in the bar; Freyda leaning in to kiss me, then the two of us stumbling to the elevator together. The next set of pictures show me leaving her hotel room the next morning looking disheveled. I’ve stared at those images a thousands of time trying to force the memories of that night to the surface 0f my brain but they never do. The last thing I remember from that night is telling Freyda I wasn’t interested when she tried to kiss me. There is nothing after that until I woke up the next morning beside her.
After Lafayette threw me out of the house, I returned to Louisiana. Pam had been one of the many messages on my phone that I’d ignored. I had finally called her back as I sat in the airport waiting for my flight. She berated me for being a damn fool, but proved herself a true friend when she offered to get my things from the house. As much as I wanted to go back there and see Sookie, talk to her and apologize for my stupidity, I couldn’t. Hurting her even more was not something I wanted to do. Maybe it was cowardly and maybe it was selfish, but I stayed away. I thought and prayed that she would seek me out when she was ready. That day never came.
The lights in the theater flicker, indicating it is time for everyone to return to their seats. Pam stands indecisively by the door. “Do you want to go?”
I shake my head no. Running my hand over my face, I sigh in resignation. “We’ll stay and see the rest of the show. And when it’s over, I will finally close the chapter of my life that is Sookie Stackhouse. I have to let her go,” I say brokenly.
True to my word, we stayed to see the rest of the show. I felt like my heart shattered when the last curtain dropped and the lights came back on. Pam hustled me out of the theater and into a taxi that took us back to The Plaza. She was very concerned for me, but I told her I would be fine. Pam is the only friend I can truly count on. She has seen me at my absolute worst and has always been there to help pick me back up. I can never express my appreciation for her, though I try by giving her designer clothes, shoes, and handbags.
During the final act of Bayou Blues, I memorized every detail of Sookie I could. I love her; I will always love her, but I cannot cling to her memory anymore. I have to move on with my life. To do that, I need to get away; I need to clear my head. So once back in my hotel room, I pack my few possessions and check out. Before leaving the hotel, I leave a message at the front desk for Pam so she won’t worry. There are a few weeks until I am due to start filming the fourth installment of The Vampire Mysteries Saga, and I intend to use the time to straighten out my personal life. I need to get in the right frame of mind so I’m not completely miserable while filming the upcoming movie.
In truth, I loathe filming these movies now; they are my biggest success as an actor, but to me, they represent everything I’ve lost in my personal life. This film will be especially trying because it’s the film where Alexander and Anna finally admit their love for each other. The thought of having to pretend to love Freyda sickens me; I want to cringe every time I am forced to touch her. And the fact that our characters share several intimate scenes in this movie nauseates me. Freyda has tried to rekindle our “romance” as she calls it several times over the years, but I have no interest. She thinks we should give everyone what they want and be a couple in real life as well as onscreen. Have I mentioned that she’s a psychotic bitch?
Grabbing a taxi, I head for Newark Liberty International Airport; during the trip from the theater to the hotel, I’d booked a red-eye flight to London. I need to get out of the country for a bit. From London, I’m going home to Sweden. It’s been years since I’ve been back; I used work as my excuse to my friends and family. The reality of the situation is I’ve been avoiding my Mor and Mormor; both of these women know me inside and out. They will take one look at me and demand to know what’s wrong. I haven’t wanted to bare my heart and soul to them, but it’s time I finally did. I need to make my peace with the fact I have lost Sookie and will never get her back in my life.
“Cut! That’s great guys; we’ll wrap for the day. Thanks everyone for all your hard work today!” The director’s words are a relief to everyone on the set after what’s been a grueling sixteen-hour shoot. I’d gotten to the set last night around dinner time. While I was getting hair, make-up, and wardrobe done, news had trickled to us that the weather was going to be ideal the next few days to film the scenes where my character Alexander will be swimming in the sunlight, protected from burning thanks to the fairy blood he consumed. These scenes were continually being scraped due to poor weather which I was personally thankful for. I am Swedish and used to cold weather, but there is no way in hell I was looking forward to being submerged while naked in freezing water. It’s bad enough that being around Freyda makes my cock and balls want to shrivel up and die.
Shooting this time around has been a miserable experience for everyone involved. The weather has been an issue and has put us behind schedule and over budget. Freyda especially has been difficult to deal with during the delays. Her well-documented issues with alcohol, and I now suspect drugs, have caused her to be late, mess up her lines, or not show up at all, putting the entire production behind the eight-ball. Every day I am thankful I went to Sweden when I did; I wouldn’t have been able to make it through this film otherwise.
Confession really is good for the soul. As I’d suspected Mor and Mormor tag-teamed me to get me to spill the beans about what was wrong. It was cathartic to finally explain everything that had happened with Sookie, to at last have someone hear my side of the story without judging me. As only a mother could, Mor had wrapped her arms around me in comfort as I cried. And my Mormor was absolutely amazing too! She had wanted to come back to the States with me so she could kick Freyda’s ass. Mormor said Freyda was to blame for everything that happened, that there is no way I would have willingly cheated on Sookie if I loved her as much as I claimed to. I wish I could have my Mormor’s unshakeable faith in me, but I know I am ultimately responsible for what happened.
“Hey bro! You wanna go grab some breakfast?” My costar, Alcide Herveaux, calls to me from across the set. He joined the cast for the third film as Joe, a werewolf my character brought in to protect Anna from my enemies. Of course, the move backfired on my character as he became Anna’s love interest. The scenes between Alexander and Joe in the third movie were intense and charged, and I was really happy with how they turned out. Personally, I am happy to have met Alcide; he is a happy-go-lucky guy that is great to have on set. He keeps things light and fun. Also, he’s been instrumental in me changing my diet and workout routine. The only two things I’ve ever seen Al be serious about are taking care of his body and his sports teams. I learned the hard way that Al is a die-hard Pittsburgh sports fan. We came to the gentlemen’s agreement that we will not watch hockey together; he’s a Penguins fan and I tend to favor the L.A. Kings.
“Sounds good to me; I haven’t had anything real to eat since dinner last night.” I’d managed to pick things here and there from craft services, but it was hard to find time to eat a full meal since I was required in every scene we’d shot. “Give me time to shower the lake water off me. I’ll meet you at your car in thirty minutes. You’re driving,” I shout to him as I take off running for my trailer.
Thirty minutes later, Alcide is driving his pick-up truck along the highway taking us back to New Orleans. For this shoot, Al and I decided to share a house. I don’t stay in hotels anymore when shooting films unless necessary. He’s taking us to The Old Coffeepot Restaurant, which boasts the best breakfast in the French Quarter. Al found the place because of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives; that and Man vs. Food are his two favorite TV shows. We’ve been there at least twice a week since we began shooting the movie. Al and I have gotten to know each other a lot better while living together. Sometimes I think I’ve gotten to know him a little too well . . . like the time I came home from filming to find him practicing stripping in the living room. After Al wraps filming his part of the movie, he’s taking off to shoot a movie about male strippers. I’ve got no problems with nudity and I’m very open when it comes to sexuality. But I never again want to see Al shaking his G-string covered hairy ass and thrusting his cock while dancing to Justin Timberlake’s Sexyback. I’m still having nightmares about that one.
Al parks the truck and we walk a few blocks to the restaurant. Even though it’s a weekday, the restaurant is still pretty busy. A waitress greets us and escorts us to a table along the wall. We’ve been here enough that our appearance doesn’t cause a reaction among those that recognize us. Al and I peruse the menu in silence while we wait for our waitress to bring our drinks. The night’s filming required a lot of physical activity from me so I feel like I can eat two of everything on the menu. I’m going to get Sis’ Soul Food, an omelet with pretty much everything in it, and Lost Bread, the Creole version of French toast.
Al and I place our orders – he orders two entrées as well – and then we talk shop to fill the time. So far, I haven’t had too many scenes with Freyda so I’ve enjoyed working on this film with the exception of the schedule delays. Thankfully, I don’t have another film lined up immediately after this one, though I do have a stack of scripts to read through that Pam sent me last week. She said she needs answers by the end of this week. I haven’t even glanced at them; I’ve been too tired due to the grueling schedule the last few days. Maybe Al will help me out. I don’t mind big-budget films, but I’m feeling a bit antsy lately, like I want to switch gears and do something on a smaller-scale. I’m feeling the itch to do something smaller, something more artistic and dramatic. Maybe an independent film, hell maybe I’ll even go back to TV.
I managed to stay on FDNY for four seasons before the demands of my film career were interfering with the show’s schedule. I felt really guilty for abandoning the show; I was the most popular character on there, so I was worried my leaving would cause the show to die out. I didn’t want my fellow cast members or crew to be out of a job because I was moving on to other projects. Thankfully that didn’t happen; the show is still doing well entering their seventh season. The show’s creators had written my character off in such a way that I can go back if I want to. My character, Jameson, left the firehouse to enter rehab. He’d been under the influence when responding to a call and his delayed reactions had resulted in injuries to himself and several others in the firehouse. My last episode had been a tear-jerker, and I thought it was one of the finest performances of my career. Others must have thought so too because I was nominated for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe. It would have been nice to win, but I didn’t and I was OK with that.
Our food arrives; we dig in with gusto and all talking ceases. While we are eating, an adorable little girl comes over to our table. She has wispy blonde hair that refuses to stay inside the clips holding her hair back from her face. Her face is absolutely beautiful; chubby cheeks with a hint of pink, smooth ivory skin, and the brightest blue eyes I’ve ever seen. She’s tall for her age and everything is covered by a cutesy dress and tights. Her smile is infectiously happy; Al and I are both smiling broadly at her.
“Hi,” she says in a surprisingly confident voice.
“Well hello to you too Princess,” I say after swallowing my food. “What are you doing here?”
She shrugs her shoulders, rolls her eyes, and sighs in exasperation. Al and I laugh seeing such actions from one so young; this girl is going to be a handful when she gets older. I pity her parents because she is going to have all the boys chasing after her. “I’m waitin’ for my uncle. He’s in the bathroom. That can take a while,” she says with a disgusted wrinkle of her nose. We laugh again.
Our waitress comes back to the table to refill our coffee and check if we need anything else. “Allie what are you doin’ over here sweetie?” If the waitress knows the girl, she must be a regular.
The girl known as Allie rolls her eyes again. “Uncle Jay’s in the bathroom. It feels like he’s been gone FOREVER! I got tired of waitin’.”
The waitress shakes her head at the girl. “So you decided to talk to strangers? Your momma is gonna whip your behind for that!” Our waitress does make a valid point. Al and I are harmless but you never know what types of sick fucks are out in the world.
Allie shrugs again. “I’ve seen them in here before. And they’re famous; not like they’re gonna hurt me. DUH!”
Alcide laughs heartily. “How do you know we’re famous?”
“I’ve seen your pictures on magazines.”
I smile at the precocious child and gesture towards a vacant chair. “Well Allie do you want to join us while you wait for your uncle? We can get you something to drink. Maybe some fruit?” The waitress says she knows what the girl likes and will bring it right out. Allie climbs up in the chair beside Al so she can keep an eye on the door.
“Why are you keeping an eye on the door?” Alcide offers her half of a biscuit slathered in butter and honey, which she eagerly takes.
“Mama’s coming to join us for breakfast. She had a meetin’ this mornin’ but said she’d meet us here. It’s my favorite place for breakfast in New Orleans! We come here every time we’re in town,” she says around mouthfuls of food. Our waitress comes back with a large glass of chocolate milk and a plate of strawberries, banana slices, and grapes for Allie. She’s too cute as she eats; she wiggles around like she’s dancing and hums while she eats. Alcide and I are completely enchanted by Allie. I haven’t had the occasion to be around children much, but I like her; it makes me think about having children of my own someday.
Allie grins widely, revealing a gap where a tooth is missing and waves her arm animatedly. “Mama’s here!”
Alcide is facing the door so he can see exactly who Allie is talking about. She must be attractive because Al’s mouth drops open and his fork clatters against the plate; he looks dumbfounded. The click-click of high heels against the tile floor has me turning slightly in my chair so I can greet the mother of the delightful child that has graced us with her presence. Once I shift in my chair, the steps falter. Maybe the woman is nervous to see her daughter with two strangers; maybe she’s star-struck because she realizes who her daughter is with. I make sure my smile is friendly as I go to introduce myself to Allie’s mother.
But an introduction is not needed. My smile fades and I too am left with a dumbfounded look on my face. I feel as if I’ve been dropped in an ice bath. The air is completely sucked out of my chest so that I feel like I am suffocating and it feels as if thousands of sharp tiny knives are jabbing repeatedly at every inch of my body. I am frozen; I don’t know how to react. What do I say? Never would I have expected that the first time we came face-to-face after all these years would be like this.
“Hello Eric,” the voice that haunts my dreams says quietly.