An Ocean Apart

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The awards season continued through the Oscars in the end of February, and then our social calendars began to clear, if only for a few weeks. Then I had to go to Europe to do some promotional work for Bloodlust. Sookie wanted to come with, but it was a brutal schedule of less than twenty-four hours in most countries, and she decided to take the opportunity to go to Michigan.

It all sounded like a great plan, but it was the first week that we were going to really spend time apart since she’d moved to California. I was feeling a little weird about it, and I knew she was too, but I was also feeling like a whiny bastard. I kept saying things like, “Don’t have too much fun without me,” or “I can’t believe you’re taking a vacation without me.” I knew what I was doing but generally only after I said something horrible and Sookie gave me the evil eye. Finally, after I made a snide comment when heard her making plans with Amelia to eat at Phil’s in Saugatuck, she snapped.

“Listen, I don’t know what the problem is, but if you want me to come home from this vacation, you need to get your head out of your ass.”

I scrubbed my hands over my face and exhaled. “I know. I’m sorry. I can’t help myself. I’m just going to miss you so fucking much.”

She shook her head, looking at me like I was a child, and I felt like one, too. “Do you not understand that the only reason I’m going is because I can’t just sit here in this house and miss you while you’re gone?”

“Really?” That had never occurred to me.

“Ugh!” she groaned in frustration. “You told me this trip to Europe was crazy, that you’d be really busy, and we’d go another time. So instead of staying here and missing you for ten days, I decided to go visit my friends. Do something to occupy myself. But you’re being a baby about it.”

I put my head down on the counter; it was my turn to groan. “Ugh. I know.”

“Then stop already!”

I turned my head, and she was standing next to me at the bar. “Please, don’t cry.” She hadn’t started, but she looked on the verge. It made my chest hurt to think that I’d done that to her.

“I’m not crying.” I thought she might stamp her foot, but she didn’t. She just stood there with tears threatening to fall.

All I had to do was turn towards her, and she stepped between my legs and into my arms. I tucked my head into the crook of her neck and sighed. “I love you so much. I’m so sorry I’m such an asshole.”

She sniffed. “You’re not usually an asshole. I knew there was something going on in that little man brain of yours.”

“Did you just say I have a little man brain? I’m sorry, Lover, but there’s nothing little about me.”

“Well, it might be the only small thing about you. I’ll give you that.”

“Are we done fighting? I don’t think I like it.”

She snorted. “I wouldn’t call that a fight, but I think it’s done.”

I lifted my head and looked into her eyes. “Do we get to have make-up sex?”

“It wasn’t a fight.”

“We can pretend.” I raised an eyebrow.

“All you think about is sex.”

“That is not true. I think about how much I love you, how much I’m going to miss you, how much I love trying to make babies with you…”

She sighed. “You don’t play fair.”

“Are you turning me down?”

“Are you packed?” I nodded, and her hands moved to my waist, hooking her fingers through my belt loops. “Only because you said making babies.”

“Really?” I said against her neck as I traced my nose along her skin. “I was thinking maybe you want me as much as I want you.”

“There’s that too.”

I laughed and let her lead me down the hall to the bedroom. We made quick work of our clothes, tossing them over our shoulders onto the floor. Then, instead of the sort of anxious make-up sex I was anticipating, there was a shift in emotions, and our lovemaking was more reverent, memorizing the details of each other that we’d miss while we were apart. Sookie faced me, our eyes hazy, but straining to watch each other, as she straddled my waist and set a slow pace, raising and lowering herself, driving me to the edge of reason. She was arching her back and chanting my name as her muscles began tightening around me. I sat up, putting my hands on her waist and took charge as she tensed and came apart around me. I ground my teeth, feeling my release closing in as I pushed into her and pulled her firmly down to reach as far as I could inside her. She recovered enough to lean forward and begin kissing my chest, but it was the scrape of her teeth on my nipple that was my catalyst. I brought our hips together in one last hard meeting and felt my orgasm roll through my body and into hers. Sookie ran her hands over my arms absently, kissing my neck and collar bone as I caught my breath.

“Shit.” I laughed. “We should fight or plan to be away from each other more often.”

She smacked my chest. “Not funny.”

She moved and stretched, snuggling along-side me and putting her hand over my heart. After a few minutes, she sat up and looked back over her shoulder at me. “I’m going to clean up. Make sure you set the alarm.”

I nodded and watched her until her gorgeous body disappeared into the bathroom. She didn’t close the door, and it made me smile. She’d told me that Bill had been adamant about shutting the door when either of them ‘did business.’ I had laughed hysterically as she made air-quotes and imitated her ex. I thought about how easily she and I had fallen into an entirely different level of comfort almost as soon as we’d been intimate. She didn’t hesitate to change in front of me or use the restroom while I was brushing my teeth. Hell, we’d had to throw on clothes in front of each other that first morning when she had amnesia and Alcide showed up at the beach house. I mean, I hadn’t watched her, but we’d been in the same room, and we were still like that, at ease in each other’s presence.

I knew that there were times when she was still surprised that I didn’t think or act like Dr. Douche. I tried not to take it personally and mostly I didn’t. She was the only thing Bill and I had in common. I was certain of that. And that damn note he’d sent about our wedding. Sookie had tried to assure me that it was Bill’s way of shifting blame for the ultimate failure of their marriage to her, even though they had been officially divorced for six months. I was certain that there was something more sinister behind it, and I went so far as to have Pam hire an investigator in Chicago to see what that slimy bastard was up to. She didn’t have any concrete news for me yet, but it sounded like Bill was looking into dental licensing for the state of California.

Sookie joined me in bed again, molding her body around me, and I forgot all about her ex. When the alarm went off I had to peel her off my chest to make my way to the shower. I was cursing Alcide for booking me such an early flight as the hot water pounded on my back. Sookie’s flight wasn’t until mid-day, so I didn’t want to wake her up until I was ready to go. When I came out of the bathroom with the last of my things to pack she wasn’t in the bed. I put my things in my suitcase and closed it, then headed towards the smell of coffee and Sookie. She was in my office, sitting at my desk checking her email wearing that Mrs. Northman tanktop.

I leaned on the door frame. “What are you doing up?”

She smiled. “I need to get a few things done before I head out. I can sleep on the plane.” She stood and came over to me, wrapping her arms around my waist. “Are you ready to go?”

“I just need to pack my laptop. The car should be here in about twenty minutes.”

“I can still drive you.”

“Don’t worry about it.” I squeezed her, wanting to hold on to the moment and not let go of her. “I’ll be back in ten days. Meet you in the bedroom?”

“That sounds like a plan, Mr. Northman.”

I stepped out of her arms and grabbed my laptop along with all of the extraneous stuff that went with it and put it in the bag. When I turned, Sookie had taken my place in the doorway, watching me and sipping her coffee. “Call me when your flight gets in, please.”

“You’ll still be flying.”

I sighed. “I know, but then you’ll be the first thing I hear when I check my phone, and I’ll know you’re okay.”

She smiled. “Sure. You remember the deal?”

“Yes.” I laughed. “No crepes with anything chocolaty in them while I’m in Paris.”

“Right. If I don’t get to come with you, you don’t get to eat my favorite thing there. Well, I like a lot of food in France, but you know.”

“We’ll have to squeeze in a long weekend to Paris when Bloodlust wraps.”

“I’ll hold you to that.”

I gave her another hug and my phone rang in my pocket indicating that the car was out front. “I have to go. I’ll call you when I land.”

“Doesn’t matter what time it is.”

“I know. I love you.”

“Love you, too. Be safe.”

Sure enough, her phone went straight to voice-mail when I tried to call her. “Lover, I’m in France. I’m going to check into the hotel and get some crepes while I take a short walk. No chocolate though. I remember my promise.” I sighed. “I miss you already. Love you.”

The following morning I woke to find a voice-mail from her as well and cursed myself for having the ringer turned off on my phone and missing her call.

“Bonjour, mon coeur!” She giggled at herself for speaking French and calling me sweetheart from the other side of the Atlantic. “I’m here safe, and I’m heading down to meet Amelia and get my luggage. I miss you, and I love you. I’ll talk to you soon.”

She’d also texted me a self-portrait of herself and Amelia waving at the camera. I took a picture of myself sitting up in bed and sent it back. One day down, thanks to my travel time, nine to go. I got up and showered, getting ready for the first round of interviews and a photo-shoot. It was going to be a long trip.

Five days in Europe flew by. France, Poland, England, and Italy were a blur. Day six seemed to drag by while I was in Germany. I had been on my own promoting Bloodlust until then and was waiting for two cast mates to join me for a big premiere in Munich, and then we’d all go to Madrid for the last event. There had been talk of a stop in London which Pam had quickly squashed, offering up a couple of spots on Polish morning TV. I gladly sat on sets that looked slightly too garish to be Good Morning America or even Regis and Kelly, listening to hosts attempt to speak English and answering audience questions that had to be translated. I had no intention of being in the same country as Sophie Anne LeClerq unless it was absolutely unavoidable. I was rather hoping the bitch decided to become an expat and stay in London.

I’d been dragging my suitcases across the continent and eating mostly room service for days. The glamorous life wasn’t always so fabulous. The only workout I’d gotten was sit-ups in my hotel room, because I got tired of being asked to sign autographs while I was trying to run on the treadmill in the hotel. That wasn’t entirely true, I’d run from a pack of paparazzi one day when I tried to go out for lunch on my own. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to sign autographs or be nice to fans, but I really just wanted to jog, or eat, in relative peace.

I was glad that many people spoke English, but I was still trying to use small phrases of the home language no matter where I was. I didn’t want to be the dumb American that didn’t even try to learn the language. I had learned the important things, like: yes, no, please, thank you, and the ever useful phrases, I’m not really a vampire, I just play one on TV and I’m sorry, but, no, I will not bite you.

My co-stars that were continuing the tour with me arrived just before dinner. Mike Spencer and Preston Pardloe played a vampire sheriff and his daytime assistant. They had a contemptuous on-screen relationship that often had viewers wondering why Mike’s character hadn’t just killed his underling. In real life however, they were very good friends who never met a beer, or a woman, they didn’t like.

Sookie had been pleased that I was doing my publicity tour with all male cast members, until she’d heard who they were. Then I’d gotten that look, not just an evil eye, but an evil wife eye, that meant she knew exactly what they were capable of, and I had better not take any part in it. I hadn’t really had a bachelor party, and I got the impression that she would have had the exact same reaction, though she may have trusted Sam a little more to watch over me. I was honestly glad that they were only with me on the second half of the trip. I might have done some serious liver damage hanging out with them for the entire ten days.

The first night they joined me, we went to a network party at Königlicher Hirschgarten, a Munich beirgärten. Throughout that evening, I managed to drunk text Sookie six times, each one less coherent than the last, filled with attempts to type I love you and I miss you. She’d responded only once with a simple message: Take an aspirin. Go to bed. ALONE. Love you, too. She’d sent that between messages three and four. Her payback was to call me at six in the morning Munich time to ask how I felt, even though she knew I didn’t have an interview until 9 a.m.

Thirty minutes later my phone rang, and Pam called with some innocuous question that could have waited. Just when I was about to fall asleep the phone rang again. It was my mother. My wife was mean. She wasn’t mad, but she was certainly enjoying my pain, and I could almost hear her laughter in my head as my mother carried on about a museum she said I needed to visit when I got to Madrid. Finally I interrupted her, “Mom, what are you doing up at one in the morning calling me?”

“Oh. Um. I couldn’t sleep.”

“Really? Or did Sookie tell you to set your alarm?”

“What?” She laughed, and it was completely fake. “No. With the time change I figured this was a good time to call.”

“Right. Goodnight, Mom. Have dad text Sookie and tell her that I’m up now.”

“Goodnight, honey. Love you.”

“Yeah. Love you, too.”

I showered and changed and thought about calling my wife and waking her up because I knew she’d gone to bed after my dad texted her. I decided to hold off and call her after lunch when I knew she’d be getting up at home. She giggled when she answered the phone, and I wouldn’t have been able to stay mad at her even if I was upset.

Hanging out with Mike and Preston was like looking through a window into my past. It was eye opening to see how far I had come from my early partying days in Hollywood. I’d never been that wild, but I’d certainly made the round of the night clubs and partied a fair amount. In a matter of only a season I’d burnt out on it though. The hangovers and lack of sleep cut into my ability to remember my lines, and I was still trying to get a big break. Then when I’d gotten a good role, I hadn’t wanted to lose it, so I’d buckled down and made friends with the quieter side of Hollywood, which was much more my style anyway.

I somehow knew though, that Amelia was plying Sookie with just as much alcohol as we were consuming in Europe. I’d heard mention of a party at Felicia and Ginger’s that would involve upside down margarita’s, shot-skis, and some kind of Jell-O shots in a caulk gun. LA may have cornered the market on the glittery nightlife, but those Midwesterners partied down and dirty. They had booked a room even before they had tickets for the Jimmy Buffett concert that they made an annual pilgrimage to. You would have thought they just saw him in Chicago, but while we were in Hawaii, Tray had gotten very animated explaining to me that a soccer pavilion was no place to go to a concert and that they drove to either Indianapolis or somewhere in Wisconsin to go to a ‘real amphitheater.’

I hid from Mike and Preston the night before we flew out of Madrid. It was a total puss move, but I had another puss in mind, and I just wanted to get home to her. I packed my things and tried to get a good night’s sleep before my flight home. I knew I’d sleep on the plane, but it certainly wouldn’t be restful. Sookie had gotten home two days earlier, and I was jealous of her being back in California. I enjoyed traveling, but I liked to stay in one place longer than a day or two at a time. After ten days of running, I was exhausted.

I’d gone through customs in New York, so when I landed in LA all I needed to do was grab my bags. They were the first onto the carousel, and I grabbed them quickly, ready to be home. It had been close to sixteen hours since I left Madrid, and I wasn’t thinking that clearly, but when I turned to look for my driver, I swore I saw Sookie wearing a sexy litthe chauffeur hat and holding a little sign that said Northman. I ran a hand over my face thinking I was so tired I was hallucinating, and then I heard her giggle.

“Sookie?” I was sure I sounded as confused as I felt. I felt like a cartoon character who needed to shake my head and rub my eyeballs.

“Aww.” She stepped forward putting her arms around me. “You look so lost. It’s really me, baby.”

The cameras whirred around us. The paparazzi that had been waiting for me at the door had closed in when I stopped to see if she was a mirage.

I breathed in the smell of her as we hugged. I smelled sunshine and the ocean and knew she’d been for a walk at the beach. I loved being able to intuit little things like that about her and her day. When we kissed she tasted of coffee, but not plain coffee from home, it was sweeter, with a hint of caramel; she’d been to her Starbucks. The chauffeur hat said she was in a playful mood, which made me smile. She carried a small purse that I knew contained nothing more than her phone, her wallet and her keys. I also knew that because of that small purse, she was taking me straight home, no stops. If we’d been going anywhere else she would be carrying a bag large enough for me to get lost in. It was a tell she had, although I’m not sure she even realized it.

She was wearing a fuzzy sweater over a knee length dress. I ran my hands over the soft sweater, trying to remember how the dress fastened. We started walking towards the car, and I put my hand on her back, feeling the zipper right in the middle of it. I smiled to myself, and slid my hand down over her hip, feeling the fabric smooth over her skin, nothing between her and the dress. In my mind I worked out exactly how to get her undressed, knowing full well it would only be happening after I raised her skirt and fucked her in the garage. We weren’t making it into the house.

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A/N:

I love this Eric. He is such a guy, but so in love with Sookie. *sigh*

Thanks so much for reading! Stop and leave some review love! You know you want to!

**DON’T FORGET – NO UPDATE NEXT WEEK – H.E. RETURNS JAN 4, 2011. **

Do people outside of the Midwest know what shot-ski’s are? Literally, a ski with shot glasses glued to it for group shots. Here’s a picture.

The beirgärten in Munich

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