I woke up like I had the day before, with a warm body, in nothing but boxer briefs, spooning around me. My memories still weren’t back, and I wanted to lay there as long as I could. I must have sighed because Eric squeezed me saying, “Good morning.”
“Morning.” I didn’t make a move to leave his embrace. I don’t know a woman that would have. After lying there for a few minutes, he pulled lightly on my arm and I rolled to face him.
“Did you sleep alright?”
“I did. Thank you for staying. I hope you weren’t too uncomfortable.”
We were so close together it should not have been comfortable. Especially not for two people who barely knew each other. It was the way a couple lay together when they were more completely intimate with each other. I was a little shocked to realize that he was at ease as well.
The clock said 8:30, and I desperately wanted coffee, but it would have meant getting out of bed with him. I wasn’t budging until he did, so I came up with small talk. “What are we going to do today?”
“I didn’t have anything particular in mind. You?”
“Why don’t we pack you a bag and hang out at the beach in front of my house? Based on your tan, I’m guessing you like the sun. Then we can meet up with Tray and Amelia later.”
He was right. I knew he was, and not just because I was tan. I knew that I liked going to the beach. I grinned, “That sounds great.”
I smiled and nodded. I was giddy about remembering another little detail, and then he kissed me on the forehead. My breath caught and I blinked several times in surprise.
“Oh shit. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. It just. I’ll get up.” He started to move away and I grabbed his arm, stilling him.
Hey lay back down, and I twined our fingers together.
“I’m sorry Sookie. I feel like I’ve known you forever.”
I snorted. That was ironic. He smirked, understanding. “It’s okay. I kind of feel the same way about you, just not about me.” I didn’t want him to feel strange. I wanted to move on with our day. “Let’s make some coffee and I’ll get ready.”
Heading into the kitchen, I opened the freezer, pulling out coffee beans, grabbed a coffee filter out of the cabinet and set them on the counter near the been grinder and Mr. Coffee. I turned to Eric, intending to ask him to make the coffee while I showered and found him shaking his head.
“What? Oh shit! How the hell did I do that?”
“I have no idea Sookie, but it’s good. We’ll just keep doing things, and it will all come back to you.”
Frustrated, I sighed. “I’m going to grab a shower, will you make coffee?”
“Yep.” He squeezed my shoulder on the way to the counter. Picking up the bag of beans, I heard the familiar dinging sound of them being poured into the top of the bean grinder as I went into the bathroom.
I showered and went into my room to find a bathing suit and some things to take to the beach. I soon realized that the question was not, did I have a bathing suit, but which one to wear? Apparently I was a big fan of bikini’s. There must have been ten of them in a drawer. I just kept pulling them out, trying to find the one with the most coverage. I finally decided on a nice black suit with pink polka dots because it had a matching sarong.
Dressing in some shorts and a Northwestern t-shirt, I packed a change of clothes along with a towel, sunscreen and a little travel kit I had found already packed with my shampoo/conditioner and cosmetics. I dug around in my purse, finding my wallet, iPod, keys and a half read book that I figured I’d need to start over and threw them all in the bag as well. I grabbed my phone and sunglasses off the dresser on my way past.
I dropped my bag in the living room and joined Eric at the kitchen table. He was sipping coffee and eating a bagel. “Oh, good. You found something to eat.”
“I hope you don’t mind that I rummaged around a bit. I toasted you a bagel as well. There’s butter and peanut butter.”
“No, that’s fine. I don’t mind.” I poured some coffee and put butter on my bagel and sat down across from him. “Let me drink a cup of coffee, and I’ll be ready. The shower was good, but this is what I need to wake up. I’ve been drinking coffee since high school.” He smirked and I lightly banged my head on the table. This was so frustrating. “This is ridiculous. I can’t remember anything when I try, but things just roll out of my mouth when I’m not thinking about it.”
He took my hand across the table. “It’s good that you’re remembering things, even the little things. It will all come back, you just have to give it time.”
I squeezed his hand. “Thank you. You have a knack for knowing what to say to me. It’s a little freaky.”
“If it makes you feel better, it’s a little weird for me too.”
“It does.” I sighed and looked around the kitchen. “Let me clean up breakfast and we can go.”
I pulled my hand away and was mid stride on my way to the counter when he said, “There’s something we need to talk about.”
Oh shit. He changed his mind. He’s leaving, going back to California. I kept walking and grabbed the peanut butter, screwing the lid on and looked back at him.
“I looked outside while you were in the shower.” He looked hesitant, and maybe a little embarrassed. “There are a couple of photographers at the end of your driveway.”
“Oh. I guess, I… Wow.” I sat back down at the table with him. “And you put up with this all the time?”
“Pretty much.” He nodded. “That’s why I kind of lay low. I don’t go out to the clubs or big parties very often. It’s not worth the hassle. I’d rather spend time with people I know who aren’t going to sell a picture of me because then can.”
“Umm. Okay, so clearly they’re going to see us leave together. Unless. Do you want me to drive separately and meet you later?”
“I don’t think it matters at this point. They think I spent the night with you.”
“Yeah. I’m sorry.”
“I guess it’s no longer a one night stand.”
I stood up and found a hair tie in one of the drawers. Of course, I knew exactly what drawer it would be in. It was really annoying. My back was to him as I pulled my hair back into a ponytail. I let out a deep breath and put my shoulders back. I could do this.
I went into the living room and put my bag over my shoulder. “Well, at least they think I’m good in bed.” Glancing over my shoulder I saw Eric’s shocked face. I giggled, what more could I do really? “Are you coming?”
He laughed, shaking his head again, and met me in the living room. Grabbing the handles of my bag, he took it from me and gave me a one armed hug. His hand dropped and he took mine, lacing our fingers again. Our eyes met and he nodded. “Don’t look at them. Don’t answer them. And try not to be shocked by the ridiculous things they’re going to yell. You might want your sunglasses on. Ready?”
I slid my glasses on and nodded.
As he opened the door I heard him mutter, “Here goes nothing.”
Leading me by the hand across the yard to Amelia’s driveway, he did his best to block me from the photographers. I heard the clicking noise of cameras as we walked and they were tossing questions like confetti.
“Eric, is that Sookie?”
“What did you two do last night?”
“Did you spend the night together?”
“Is Sookie your girlfriend?”
Unlocking the passenger door, he let me in before putting my bag in the back seat and then went around to his side without so much as a wave at the group standing at the end of my driveway. He put on his own sunglasses, hooked his seat belt and backed out of the drive. For lack of any other term, they swarmed the car as Eric eased into the street. He shifted from reverse to drive and we were off.
We turned the corner and I looked over, he was expressionless.
“What? No. I’m not upset with you Sookie. I’m just frustrated with those photographers. You don’t have anything to be sorry about.”
He still seemed tense, one hand on the wheel and the other tapping on the console between us. I moved my hand and covered his. He met my eyes and tried to smile.
“Come on, we’re going to the beach. It’s going to be a good day.” I needed to think positive, this wasn’t nearly as weird or as crazy as it seemed. We were just two people who were going to spend the day together. That’s how I was going to see it. Forget that I had amnesia and he was being stalked by paparazzi. Oh hell, that wasn’t working.
I turned the radio on with my free hand, the Jeep had XM satellite radio; I turned it to The Pulse on channel twenty-six without thinking and sat back. My back had barely touched the seat when I realized that I had done it again. “Son of a bitch. That is just weird.”
He laughed. “I wasn’t going to say anything that time.”
I gave him a dirty look. My memory, and the random return of it in pieces, was pissing me off. We listened to the music, riding comfortably without talking for a few minutes.
Eric withdrew his hand from mine to turn onto the road leading to his place. As we rounded the corner, my phone started ringing and I looked to see who was calling. I sighed, Bill’s name appeared on the screen. It was his first time calling since I remembered him, and I knew I actually had to talk to him this time. Eric looked over and I rolled my eyes, hesitating only a second before before answering.
“You had better have a damn good explanation.”
“Sookie. I’m glad you’re alright. I was beginning to worry about you.”
I didn’t exactly remember if Bill and I were civil with each other these days, but I wasn’t happy with him. “You weren’t worried about me when you were getting Lorena pregnant.”
I heard Eric snort a little, but he kept his eyes on the road, like that made things more private.
“That’s in poor taste. You weren’t answering your phone yesterday, and after those pictures of you with that celebrity, I had no idea what could have happened to you.”
“Those pictures of me with a celebrity? You mean the ones that you not only identified me in for the entire world but also supplied the tabloids a picture of me on our wedding day? Those pictures Bill?”
“Is he embarrassed of you? Why don’t you want people to know you were together? I was never embarrassed by you.”
“Oh my god. You’re delusional. No, you weren’t embarrassed by me; you just got someone else pregnant behind my back while you used two different kinds of birth control to have sex with me! You know what? This is ridiculous. I don’t want to talk to you. Do not give the press any more information about me or you’ll hear from my lawyer. And for the record, Eric is not embarrassed by me and he’s a far better man than you’ll ever be!”
My hands fumbled a little to end the call and I heard Eric mutter, “Holy shit.” I wasn’t sure if it was because of my tirade about birth control or because I had praised him to Bill.
“I’m sorry,” I said, wiping the tears that had pooled in my eyes before I could stop them. “I’m sorry you had to hear that. I’m sorry I mentioned you. Shit. I just gave him more ammunition for the tabloids.”
“It’s okay, Sookie. They already know about last night. You didn’t do anything wrong. I’m just sorry that he is such a jerk.”
We pulled into his driveway and parked. Coming over to my side of the car, he opened my door, giving me a hand as I climbed out. He grabbed my bag and we walked across the bridge. He didn’t take my hand again and I was a little sad. And then I wondered what the hell I was thinking since we hardly knew each other.
He unlocked the door to the house, letting me go in first, and then came in behind me setting my bag on the couch. He watched me for a second, while I stood at the bar. Then he walked over and stopped in front of me, taking my sunglasses out of my hands and setting them on the granite counter-top. I looked at the glasses, then at him. I cocked my head, because I had no idea what he was thinking, or why he was looking at me the way he was.
“Sookie,” he started. “Don’t be mad. Okay? I just, please don’t be upset.”
He took another step towards me and brought his hand up to my cheek. It happened quickly, but I experienced it in slow motion. The touch of his hand and then his lips against mine. His arm around my back and my hands on his chest. Returning the kiss because I was compelled. I couldn’t not kiss him back, it would have been impossible. When we separated, I looked into his eyes in a daze.
He gently pulled me into him, resting my head on his chest. “That was probably a really bad idea.”
I gave a little laugh, but didn’t say anything. It probably was a bad idea, but I wasn’t going to admit it. We stood embracing for several long minutes, caught up in our own thoughts.
“I need to take a shower. You’re not going to disappear when I go upstairs are you?”
“No, I’m not going anywhere.”
Apparently we were not addressing what just happened. Which was really okay with me. We had just one-upped the spooning and forehead kiss and I wasn’t sure what to think, besides the fact that Eric Northman was a good kisser, and that I would have sold anything I owned for him to do it again.
Coming downstairs after my shower, I looked for Sookie only to find her on the balcony with her head tipped back catching the sun. She was breathtaking. The view of her out there did nothing to help my already active hormones. I had tried to keep my mind off her while I showered, but it was almost impossible. There was something between us, and it didn’t matter that we hardly knew each other. It was disconcerting.
I didn’t know how she really felt, and I didn’t want to upset her, but in the kitchen after listening to her talk to Bill, I had to kiss her. I wanted her to know I was sorry; for Bill’s idiocy, for my dragging her through the media, for everything. My brain, or my body, or whatever, decided that the best way to communicate that was by kissing her. Once it was in my mind, I couldn’t stop it. Shit. I was lucky once I started kissing her that I could stop.
Running my hands over my face, trying to gain a little composure, I headed outside to join her. She turned towards me at the sound of the sliding door and smiled.
“Feeling refreshed?” She was so positive. I didn’t know how she did it. How kept a smile on her face when the details of her own life were slowly trickling into her memory.
“I am. Do you want to head down to the beach?”
“That sounds great. Let me grab my bag.”
Going back inside I grabbed a couple of scripts, a Diet Coke for her and water for me, and a bag of pretzels. She was waiting for me by the time I gathered everything together and I led her downstairs to the basement level that walked out onto the beach. I turned the radio on so that we would hear some music and we went outside.
We pulled the lounge chairs into the sun and began to get settled. When she took off her t-shirt and shorts revealing her body and her bikini I knew I was screwed. I don’t know what I was thinking, that she was going to keep her clothes on to get sun? But it completely threw me off and she caught me staring.
“Um, yeah?” I pulled my eyes away from her chest.
“Can you put sunscreen on my back in a minute?”
Oh hell, that was asking for all kinds of trouble. She proceeded to smooth lotion all over her body in the sexiest way possible. I’m sure she had no idea how much she was torturing me. I grabbed the lotion and began to put some on my own body, so that I had something else to focus on. I was probably going to end up with fucked up sunburn because I missed spots while I was unsuccessfully trying not to watch her.
Eventually I had to suck it up and take the sunscreen she was holding out. I sat behind her on the chair and rubbed some together in my hands to warm it up before applying lotion to her shoulders. I massaged her skin as I applied the sunscreen, hearing her purr quietly as my hands moved down her back. I was dying and considering killing myself because she felt so good and I wanted to do more than just touch her skin. Running my hands down her sides, I made sure everything was rubbed in. I patted her on the shoulders and quickly got up to return to my own chair. I couldn’t be responsible for what happened if I stayed sitting that close to her.
I pulled my shirt off and laid down on my stomach, trying to hide my obvious arousal from both of us. Closing my eyes, I tried to will away images of my hands on her skin. I jumped when I felt her straddle my back and sit down. Holy hell. I heard the lotion as she shook it up and then after a few seconds, she rubbed the cool sunscreen on my lower back. Something must have escaped my mouth, even though I thought I was only muttering to myself, because she laughed as her hands ran over my skin.
“Relax, it’s sunscreen Eric.”
“I know what it is.” I mumbled. I suddenly realized that there was most likely a photographer snapping pictures of us somewhere and my mood was suddenly cooled. I should have been thinking about the paparazzi all along, but I had been so distracted by Sookie, that I let down my guard. I decided I should warn her, and she just laughed.
“Eric, they already think we’re sleeping together. It’s fine. Just let me finish.”
She. Was. Killing. Me. And then she reached forward to put lotion on my shoulders, her breasts grazed my back and I actually whimpered.
She whispered in my ear, “Are you okay?”
I cleared my throat. “I don’t think you want to know how I feel right now.”
“What? Oh.” Recognition seemed to set in and she sat up quickly. “I’m sorry, shit. I. I”ll go back to my chair.”
I grabbed her hand and turned my head so I could see her face. “Sookie, it’s fine.” It was more than fine. I exhaled. “Let’s get some sun and relax. We’ve now learned that you are a master at applying sunscreen.”
She slapped my back and laughed. “Well, you started it. That was one hell of a massage.”
She moved off of me and I held her hand for as long as my arm would reach as she went back to her chair.
A little while later I woke up to the sound of children giggling. Rolling over and sitting up in my chair, I noticed Sookie’s empty chair just before I saw her out of the corner of my eye building sand castles with two little girls near the shore. I stretched, rolling my neck and shrugging my shoulders, waking up and watching her.
She was covered in sand, letting the girls do most of the construction, helping pack the sand in buckets and place them as directed. One tower was getting quite high and it toppled over, eliciting peels of laughter from all three. I noticed the girls’ mother sitting over in front of the house next door and she gave me a little wave. The girls scampered back towards their mother and Sookie stepped into the waves to wash the sand off.
I decided that if the paparazzi were around, they had already seen the show when we lotioned each other up, and they had gotten our pictures in the morning anyway, so the damage was done. I ran up behind Sookie, trying to scare her into thinking I was going to push her in the water, instead I grabbed her around the waist and spun her around. She laughed and threw her arms around me. I set her down and she stayed in my arms for a second laughing before she broke away and ran towards our chairs.
We sat down, smiling at each other and she asked about the pile of manuscripts I had carried out. I told her how I was trying to weed out the ones I was interested in, and she offered to help. I pulled my chair closer to hers and we spent the next hour or so laughing and talking about my potential roles, as well as telling stories about our lives as they related to the plots. Several times she told me full stories about things she had done with friends as if she remembered them like they happened yesterday. Each time, I bit my tongue and waited for her realize she was remembering things because she always got so frustrated when I pointed it out.
Eventually, we headed inside to make sandwiches. Throwing my shirt on, I led her upstairs to the kitchen. In the last two days I had learned to just let her “do” and not ask her questions, her mind would freeze up if the tried to remember things. I pulled ingredients out of the refrigerator but let her assemble her own sandwich. She did so without pause and then glared at me across the bar as I made my own.
“Don’t be mad at me. It worked.”
“I know.” She was pouting, and it was adorable. “I just wish that it would all come back. Not this bit by bit stuff.”
My phone rang. I glanced at the caller ID and saw that it was my friend Sam. He was a fellow actor, originally from Louisiana and starring in a sit com that filmed on the set next to the Bloodlust stage.
“Do you mind? It’s Sam Merlotte, we’re friends,” I asked Sookie. She looked excited, Sam was pretty famous, and waved her hand, telling me to go ahead.
“Hey Sam. What’s up?”
“Eric, I’m a day behind in things, but what the hell is going on?” He must have seen the pictures. Sam was always encouraging me to date. I’m sure he was trying to figure out where I had met Sookie. Sam had married a sweet girl named Daphne from home and was settling down, thinking about kids. “Eric, how do you know her? That’s just crazy.”
“I’ve been telling you about her for almost a year.”
I glanced at Sookie eating her sandwich and felt my stomach tighten.
“What are you talking about Sam?”
“The girl, Sookie, or whatever. She’s the sad bridesmaid. I’d know her face anywhere.”
Holy shit. The hair and make up guy on Sam’s show did drag shows on the weekend as Martini Divine, and he, I mean she, was really good. Most people called him Martini on set even when he was out of costume. He had a series of pictures hanging on his mirror that showed him in various poses with a cute blond. Every time Sam heard a new story about her from Martini, he told me all about it.
One of the first stories was based on a picture of Martini and the girl together at a wedding. Sam described Martini in a pink tux hugging his friend, who had a sad smile on her face. Sam said she was wearing a black bridesmaid dress, corsage and all, so he called her “the sad bridesmaid.” Martini had explained that she had recently filed for divorce, but she promised to stand up in their friends commitment ceremony; so it had been a bittersweet day for her. I remembered feeling bad for the woman when Sam told me the story, even though I didn’t know her. The stories continued from there almost weekly and Sam swore she was my ideal girl.
I could not for the life of me think of a connection between Sookie and the drag queen.
“Sam, what’s Martini’s real name?” I was trying to make some kind of link between the two, and I knew that asking Sookie would probably be pointless. She wasn’t paying any attention to me and was loading my dishwasher of all things.
“Lafayette Reynolds, why? How do you know her?”
That name. Sookie said Lafayette had called her yesterday from L.A. How many Lafayettes could there be?
“I met her through her blog. Sam, can I call you later?”
“Oh, yeah. No problem. Small world, huh? I’ll talk to you later.”
Ending the call, I turned around to Sookie who was now putting the sandwich supplies back in the refrigerator.
“Sookie, last night you mentioned that your friend Lafayette called. You said that we needed to talk about it.”
She looked back at me, ass in the air, as she moved things around on a shelf. Focus Eric.
“Oh, yeah.” She stood up, closing the fridge, and came back over to her stool at the bar. “Laf and I are good friends. He used to be my hairdresser, but he moved to L.A. and now he works on some sitcom. He called yesterday and was being all dramatic about seeing us together. The thing is, well, Laf is kind of a fame whore and, well, he kind of wouldn’t hesitate to talk to tabloids for money.”
“Oh. Well, what would he tell them? I mean, does he know any dirty little secrets about you?” I was smirking at her. At this point, I felt like I knew Sookie well enough as a person, without her memories, that he couldn’t know too much damaging information. It just didn’t exist.
“No. Well, not dirty secrets, but he has some stories to tell that’s for sure. Amelia called him back yesterday and told him that you and I met through the blog. She really made it sound like I didn’t want the publicity so he would keep his mouth shut, because he probably doesn’t care about your privacy. That’s just how he is.”
“I’m not really worried Sookie. But thanks for having Amelia talk to him.” I debated whether or not I should tell her about Sam, but it didn’t feel right keeping it from her. “So, when I talked to Sam, it turns out Laf does his hair and make up for the show, but everyone calls him Martini.”
“Oh yeah, from the drag show! Have you seen it? She’s so good!” She laughed and shook her head at me. “What a small world! How crazy. I guess I knew that he worked on Sam’s show, but I didn’t think about it.”
“Yeah, so here’s the really weird part.” In for a penny in for a pound. I might as well tell her everything. “Laf talks about you all the time, and for the last six months or so, Sam has been trying to convince me to fly to Chicago and go on a blind date with you.”
“Wow.” She said blinking. Then she threw her head back and laughed. She was laughing so hard she could hardly breathe.
I really didn’t see what was so funny.