I snuck out of bed early, leaving Sookie sleeping, to go talk to Chris. I knew there was another reason he had spent the weekend with my parents and the only time we would get to talk alone was on a run. I tiptoed down the hall carrying my tennis shoes.
Chris looked up from the couch where he was tying his owns shoes and grinned.
“Hey. You coming with me?”
“Of course.” I sat down on the recliner and quickly put on my shoes, and then we walked outside together to stretch.
We were quiet, our movements routine and unhurried. It had been a while, but we’d run together for years; it was our thing. We used to lift weights with Sven, but running was something that only Chris and I shared. We were ready at the same time and walked to the end of the driveway before we started jogging slowly. After a short warm up, we began running in earnest. We took our normal route, running side by side, and Chris still hadn’t said anything when we made the turn for home.
“You know what. You were guzzling margaritas yesterday like nobodies business. What’s going on?”
He glanced at me. “I saw her again.”
“Zaneta. I ran into her at the bar we met in before. She’s single again.”
“And so you bolted?”
“I had to come here for a meeting anyway.”
“Why didn’t you ask her to do something on the Fourth?”
“I don’t know.” He stopped running and looked at me. “What if I fuck it up? I mean, what if I’m not ready for a relationship?”
“You’ll never know if you don’t try. What happened with her and the ex?”
“Well, now he’s an ex again. Apparently he didn’t really stop screwing someone from work, he just stopped screwing one girl in particular.”
“Yeah. She did mention that she’ll be at a charity thing I’m going to next weekend for the Humane Society.”
“Then you should call and ask if she’d like to go with you, or figure out how to take her out for a drink afterwards. Don’t let her slip away.”
“Again.” He sighed.
“I didn’t say it, you did. You weren’t ready before, maybe you are now.”
He grinned. “She’s pretty great.”
“Then don’t let her go.” I paused and we both said, “Again.” Then we both laughed as we started running the rest of the way home.
When we walked into the kitchen, Sookie was showered and dressed, drinking coffee and reading the paper with my parents. My mother had smoothed things over with her apology and explanation, and they’d spent some time looking at ridiculous pictures of me.
My mom didn’t hold back, she pulled out everything from my baby book to high school yearbooks, and Sookie loved it. She sat with mom listening to every goofy story and exaggerated tale that she could come up with. Chris, Dad, and I interjected here and there, correcting mom when she got me mixed up with a brother, or remembering another detail. It was honestly fun, although the new pitcher of margaritas may have helped calm our nerves after the blow up at dinner.
I grabbed a piece of cold bacon off the table and smiled at Sookie. Mom told us in Swedish that we needed to hurry if we wanted to eat breakfast before we left for the airport.
“Yah. Yah,” Chris responded, sounding like our grandfather. He stole a sip of dad’s coffee before we headed down the hall.
I stepped into the bathroom that I’d shared with my brothers growing up and heard Chris groan behind me.
“That’s Mister Asshole. Asshole,” I said, closing the door.
He was pissed because he would have to shower in the guest bathroom down the hall. There was nothing wrong with it, except it was decorated in every shade of pink my mother could find, and the men in our family had always hated it. The room made you feel like some of the pink would rub off on you, and you would come out with a little less testosterone than you had when you went in there.
Showered and shaved, I repacked my things into my overnight bag and looked around my room to make sure Sookie hadn’t left anything behind. I didn’t see anything that shouldn’t have been there, so I headed to the kitchen to have pancakes and bacon before we needed to leave.
The ride to the airport was much louder than our ride to the house had been. Chris talked to Sookie about where he would take us if we visited him in Seattle, and Mom asked her what kind of things she liked to eat at Thanksgiving. It was a ways off, but I was glad that she was asking my girlfriend normal questions.
My parents dropped us off at the departures area at the airport and we said our goodbyes. We were able to meet back up with Chris near security. He and Sookie grabbed more coffee while I got a water, and we sat together for a little while before heading to our gates. Sookie and I walked hand in hand, getting a few looks, but mostly the airport was full of commuters who were too busy to care about what we were doing.
LAX was another story. We made it to the public concourse before the flashbulbs started going off en masse. I heard Sookie gasp and mutter, “Jeez that’s bright.” She was blinking, trying to adjust her eyes, but she continued walking, and she kept her chin up.
“Excuse us,” I said repeatedly. I had one hand out in front of us keeping the crowd at bay, and the other arm was around her waist as I steered her towards the sliding door so we could go straight to the car. Thankfully we didn’t have any checked bags.
“Have you talked to Sophie Anne?”
“Eric, look over here.”
“Do you have to report to the set tomorrow for Bloodlust?”
“Did you take Sookie to meet your parents?”
We had discussed with Pam how we would announce Sookie’s ‘change of address’, as Pam called it. The only person that Sookie felt she needed to tell personally was her brother, and she had taken care of that on the Fourth of July.
We were getting close to the exit doors when a photographer yelled the question I’d been waiting for.
“Sookie, how long will you be in California?”
She squeezed my hand, and I looked in the direction the question had come from. “She’s here to stay.”
It was like I’d kicked a hornets’ nest, they were scrambling and shouting, cameras whirring and clicking, and more questions were shouted, while Sookie and I just kept moving towards the car.
“Is she living with you?”
“Sookie, what does Bill think?”
“Are you getting married?”
Within minutes we were alone in the car. I looked over at Sookie, and she was grinning from ear to ear. When our eyes met, she started to laugh.
“Did you see them? That was not the answer they were expecting.”
“I know!” My laughter joined hers. “Ready to head home?”
I winked at her, and we pulled out of the parking structure. I was glad that she hadn’t let the questions about Bill or engagement bother her, or maybe she hadn’t heard them in the fuss, it was pretty loud after I made my comment.
We rode home, and I enjoyed the quiet. It never felt forced with Sookie, it was calming, like we knew we were where we were supposed to be, so we didn’t need to talk about it.
When we were almost to the house, she thanked me again for taking her to meet my parents. “It was fun. Your family was-”
“Crazy,” I interrupted with a laugh.
“A little, yeah, but they were nice.” She sighed, and relaxed against the seat. “It’s been a whirlwind since I got out here. I’m looking forward to doing nothing tomorrow.”
“I’m looking forward to coming home to you after a long day on the set tomorrow.”
“I like that home is with you, it’s not just a place anymore.”
I smiled, no, I grinned. “Me too.”
My first day back on set went smoothly. We had a read-through for the new episode, which Sophie Anne didn’t appear in, so I had at least a week before I had to worry about filming with her.
The director, Bobby Burnham, mentioned to me that Pam had called to make sure he was aware of what was going on, and I had to laugh; how could he possibly not know? At any rate, he told me that Pam mentioned being hesitant about having Sophie Anne on set with me, and although he appreciated the buzz she was creating for the show, he could understand my unease. He promised that he would be having a long talk with her management team about her recklessness and his reservations about signing with her for the next season.
He shrugged at me, “Vampire queens can be staked or usurped. I need a monarch, but it sure as hell doesn’t have to be her. ”
I called Sookie on a break, and she told me that she had spent a relaxing morning sleeping in and then talking to someone from the Los Angeles Times about doing some restaurant reviews for them both online and in the print edition. Apparently, she had also talked to Daphne, who knew someone at the paper, and gave Sookie their number. The weekend editor was thrilled with the idea of Sookie’s new perspective as a transplant to the area, and after looking over her blog, invited her in for a sit-down meeting later in the week.
She was thrilled because, as I had discovered, Sookie liked to be busy. In addition to her blog, this would keep her in touch with other journalists, and hopefully be a way for her to make friends in the area on her own, not that she would have a problem with that.
I spent the afternoon walking through some action scenes and running lines, eventually managing to get in a few takes before we wrapped for the day. I called Sookie to let her know I was on the way home. It was later than I had planned on, and I hoped that Sookie wasn’t upset. She seemed fine on the phone, and we’d talked about how I didn’t really know what time I would be home most nights, especially if we had to do any night scenes.
When I talked with Bobby, I told him that Sookie had moved in with me and that although I knew that I was pretty much at his beck and call, I would appreciate getting home for dinner occasionally. He had laughed, and slapped me on the back, saying he figured as much from talking to Pam. He wouldn’t make any promises, but said he’d keep it in mind, and that was really all I could ask for.
When I walked into the house, I was overwhelmed by the smell of slow cooked food. A stew? No. A roast. My stomach growled and I felt even worse about being late. Sookie was in the family room, sitting on the couch, reading a book.
“Hey. Are you hungry?”
“I’m starving. I’m sorry I’m so late. I hope it’s not cold or something. And you didn’t have to wait for me.”
She stood and stretched before walking over to me. “That’s the nice thing about a slow cooker. I just turned it down to warm and it’s fine.” She shrugged. “I had a snack earlier. I think you’re converting me to your Greek yogurt. That stuff is really good.”
I put my keys in the basket and pulled her into my arms for a quick kiss. I watched her moving around the kitchen with ease as she got out dishes and silverware. She handed me a bottle of red wine to open, and then filled two plates with roast beef, carrots and potatoes. We took our seats at the table and joked with each other over dinner.
“So, I’m pretty sure all of this food wasn’t here this morning. Did you have any problems finding the store?”
“Nope. Sheila gave me directions.”
“The GPS on my phone. I call her Sheila.”
“Why didn’t I meet Shelia when we were in Michigan?” I teased.
“I was trying to impress you! I couldn’t introduce you to my imaginary GPS friend yet.”
“Oh, and now that you’ve moved in you can let it all hang out?”
“Yup. You better watch out, now that I’ve snagged you. I’m going to let myself go. You know; let my hair get all gross and put on a bunch of weight.”
“That’s too bad. I was going to pamper you.”
“Ooh. Well, I would let you pamper me, if you really wanted to.”
“I do. And besides, lover, Lafayette won’t let you neglect your hair.”
“This is very true.”
We finished eating and cleaned up the kitchen, then watched television together. After an hour or so, I sighed, and told Sookie I was going to the office to read over my script for tomorrow. I changed into shorts and a t-shirt and was getting ready to sit down at the desk when she poked her head in the doorway.
“Come here.” She had changed into pajamas as well, and motioned for me to follow her, which I did without question, because, well, I would have followed her just about anywhere. It was pretty disgusting how wrapped around her finger I was.
She led me to the bedroom, where she had the lamps on both sides of the bed turned on and her book opened up on top of the comforter.
“You read yours, and I’ll read mine. Then, when I fall asleep reading you can turn my light off.”
“You’re pretty clever, you know that?”
“I do my best.”
She stepped away from me, grinning, and climbed into bed to lean against the headboard. She knew I was considering scrapping the idea of looking at my script and doing other, much more exciting things in bed.
I laughed, and sat down on my side of the bed to go over my lines. After a while, I’m not sure how much later, her book slipped forward, falling on her chest, and I saw that she was asleep. I set it on the nightstand, the way I had seen her leave books around the house so it was open to the page she was reading, turned off her light, and then she woke up long enough to lie down and snuggle against the pillow. I worked for a bit longer, and then got under the covers and rolled onto my side, putting an arm over her body, and fell asleep in minutes.
I made it four days without running into Sophie Anne at work. She wasn’t even filming any scenes yet, but she showed up for costume fittings, and apparently to skulk around trying to see me. I heard through the grapevine that she was on set, but was surprised to see her sitting outside my trailer.
I tried to turn around before she saw me, but her face lit up, and I knew I was busted.
“Eric! I’ve been looking for you. How was your vacation?”
What the hell? Was she crazy? Wait, she probably was. I sighed and glanced around. One of Bobby’s assistants was watching, and a couple actors with smaller parts were sitting outside of the trailer next to mine. Witnesses. Thank god.
“My vacation was great. My girlfriend and I had a wonderful time and she just moved in with me. How was your hiatus? Is there any alcohol left on the planet? Or did you drink it all?”
“What are you talking about? You don’t have a girlfriend. Let’s go inside. It’s warm out here.”
I was standing at the door to the trailer, and I realized that if I opened it, she was going to force herself in. Fuck. Pam was right. Maybe I didn’t want to be on set at the same time as this crazy bitch.
“No, I’m going to get something to eat.”
I turned and headed towards the Craft services tent. She followed behind me asking about my plans for later. I pulled out my phone and hit speed dial for Pam.
“Get this bitch away from me.”
“Oh, Christ. She’s there? I’m on my way.”
By the time I disconnected the call, Sophie Anne had turned and was walking away. She was crazy, but she was totally aware of what she was doing. I shook my head and turned back towards my trailer. Alcide showed up about five minutes later.
“Is she gone?” he laughed. “Were you afraid of a little girl?”
“Fuck you. Yes. She’s gone. She was all kinds of crazy hanging out here in front of my trailer telling me we needed to come in here to cool off.”
“Ha ha. The old, is it hot out here, or is it just me, line, eh?”
I exhaled. “Alcide, not now. Where’s Pam?”
“On her way. She’s riding her broom to beat traffic.”
I ran my hand through my hair. What was freaking me out was how weird Sophie Anne acted, like she truly didn’t know about, or believe I was with, Sookie.
Grabbing my phone again, I dialed Sookie’s number.
“Hey,” I said when she answered. “What’s going on?”
She ran down a list of things that she’d done, which all involved cleaning some portion of the house.
“Um. Sookie, did I forget to tell you that we have someone that cleans the house on Mondays? She was off for the holiday this week.”
“Well, that explains why this place was way cleaner than I expected for a single man to have been living here. I guess you forgot to tell me about the pool boy too. He’s cute.”
“We don’t have a pool boy.”
“What?” I could hear the panic in her voice.
“Just kidding.” I laughed, and it felt good. Talking to her made everything better.
“Oh, that was mean!” I heard a chair scrape on the patio and knew she’d gone to sit outside. “Did you just call to harass me?”
I sighed. “No. I called because Sophie Anne was here acting all crazy and I just needed to hear your voice.”
“She’s there? What was she doing?”
“It’s nothing really,” I said, trying to downplay it, there was no need to freak Sookie out. “She said she wanted to talk but she left when she heard me calling Pam on my cell.”
“Is Pam on her way?”
“Yeah. We’ll have to sit down with Bobby. Alcide is here now, giving me shit.”
“That’s good. He’ll distract you.”
The door flew open, and Pam walked in. She pulled her sun glasses down her nose and looked at me over the top of them. “What in God’s name is going on here?”
Sookie heard Pam’s grand entrance and told me to call her on the way home. I said goodbye and disconnected.
“Where is she?”
“She was bothering you?”
“She wasn’t bothering me. She was being weird and hanging around outside my trailer like a stalker.”
She pursed her lips. “Did anyone see this,” she waved her hand in distaste. “Stalking?”
“Yes.” I glared at her. “Liam and Diane saw it, as well as Bobby’s assistant, what’s her name, Yvetta?”
“Stupid bitch. I called Bobby, and he said he would come by to talk. Are you done shooting for the day?”
“No, they told us to take a break so they could adjust some lights and fix one of the sound booms.”
“Alright, do, whatever it is you do. I’m going to take a walk. I’ll be back.”
“Pam. There isn’t anywhere to bury a body here.”
She snorted. “Oh. Death would be too nice for her.”
The door slammed behind her, and I realized Alcide was still sitting on my couch, texting on his phone.
“Cide. Don’t you have something else to do?”
“What? Like run your errands? I thought that’s what Sookie came to Cali for.”
I closed my eyes. Seeing Sophie Anne waiting outside the trailer had triggered all sorts of alarm bells. It was freaky, like, boiling bunnies scary, and in the pit of my stomach I knew she was capable of just about anything.
“Could you please give me a minute?”
“Sure thing, diva. I have some things to go over with you later though.”
“Fine. I’ll be sure to talk to you before I leave.”
I think I had all of three minutes to myself before the door banged open again, and Pam came in, bitching out Bobby, who was right on her heels.
“Eric is a much bigger name than she is, you had better be doing your best to make the set safe for him.”
“Now who’s being dramatic, Pam?” I raised a brow at her. “Listen, both of you. I can take care of myself, but I do not want to be stalked at work.”
“Understandable, Eric. Let’s sit down, and I’ll give you a little insight to the season. I don’t want to give away too much, though.”
Ugh. Bobby and his secrets. We never knew what was going to happen in the next episode until we got the new script. It was cool that we didn’t know how the season was going to play out, then we weren’t responsible for accidentally giving away spoilers because we didn’t know them, but it was a pain in the ass to read through a script and think, ‘Oh shit, that’s what that was about two episodes ago? I should have totally played that differently.’
He sat down and explained that by the end of the season there would be a regime change and that a certain Queen would not be in the final four episodes. Pam asked about the following season, and he tried to be coy, but said he had been rethinking some of his plans and didn’t really see a female monarch in the future of Bloodlust.
“Now, that said, which I will deny ever discussing with you, there is a four week window that Eric and Sophie Anne will both be involved in filming. I’ll do what I can to adjust your schedules so you’re here together as little as possible.”
“And shared scenes?”
“They’ll have to shoot them, Pam. I’m not magic.”
“Bobby,” I interrupted. “I appreciate all you’re doing. Things will be fine.”
“If this escalates, I will not be happy,” Pam huffed.
“If this escalates, I’m going to fucking go off on her,” I growled.
“Hey now. If it escalates, I’m done with her. We’ll figure it out,” Bobby added. “I’ll talk with her manager, he doesn’t want her to lose this part.” He stood, and it was clear that the conversation was done as far as he was concerned. “Alright, I’ve still got a few more hours of work today. Northman, I’m sure you’re due back out there. Pam, it was a pleasure, as always.”
Pam snorted, and he let himself out. I looked at her, and she did not look happy.
“What? Did you want me to ask for a security guard? Don’t be ridiculous. I’m not afraid of her.”
She sighed. “I expected this to be over by now. She’s mental. If there’s another outburst, I will fuck her up in the press.”
“I know you will, Pam. I’m counting on it.”
We both stood and headed for the door. I was tired and just wanted to get finished for the day so I could go home to Sookie and relax. As I stepped off the stairs and into the back lot, she patted my ass like we were breaking a football huddle.
I gave her a scathing look over my shoulder.
“Later, loser!” she called as she walked away, swinging her hips like a runway model.