Sookie almost stumbled when she stepped out of the restaurant into the storm of camera flashes and shouts from the photographers. With my hands on her shoulders, I put my head down to reduce the chance of a giving them a good picture and weaved us out of the crowd, repeating, “No comment.”
The sad thing, was that this was nothing in comparison to what I normally experienced at home. There were only about ten people in the pack following us. I had been followed to the grocery store by more people than that.
I kept my hand on Sookie, trying to keep her calm and make sure nothing happened to her as we walked down the street.
“That is unreal.”
“I tried to tell you, Sookie, and that was still pretty tame. We can go whenever you want to. If you don’t want to deal with that again we can just go back to the house.”
“Oh hell no Eric.” She said with a grin. “They are not ruining this night for me.”
We followed Tray and Amelia down the street, with the small flock of paparazzi behind us. It was less than a five minute walk to Tray’s brothers’ bar. We were fairly early, but there was already a short line forming as people paid cover to get in. When we reached the front of the line we were greeted by a very large man in a Coral Gables t-shirt. He was the kind of guy that would have a nickname, like Tiny or Little Bear, because he was so fucking huge. He stood and picked Sookie up in a giant hug.
“Ruben! Put her down!” Amelia laughed.
“Hey Ruben!” Sookie giggled, then she mouthed, “Thank you,” at Amelia because she had no idea who was hugging her.
“I haven’t seen my girl in months. Lemme give her some sugar!” He squeezed Sookie hard before setting her down, then kissed Amelia on the cheek and bumped knuckles with Tray. “Remy saved you a table on the patio.”
“Mr. Northman,” he nodded at me. “Pleasure to have you here.”
“Thanks Ruben. I’m glad to be here.” We shook hands and he slapped me on the back as we went into the bar.
I was finally beginning to understand what the leasing agent meant about ‘West Michigan nice’ when she showed Alcide and I around my rental house. The people here were so nice that it was kind of strange. Yes, some people were star struck and asked me for my autograph or stared, but most folks here were just nice in general and acted like I was another tourist or a new neighbor. It was really cool, and really fucking weird.
The interior of the bar was noisy as we headed to the patio. Amelia had dropped back, and as we stepped through the door to the patio she leaned over to me, “Don’t let her drink too much. She throws up and she’s a whiny bitch about it.”
Great. “How much is too much?”
She snorted and gave ma a look. “Oh, you’ll know.”
What the hell did that mean?
We found the table with a “reserved” sign on it and took our seats. Tray asked what we wanted to drink and went to buy a round. I was driving, so I would only allow myself one beer. Amelia clearly wasn’t planning on driving anywhere and ordered a Long Island Iced Tea. Sookie’s eyes lit up and she told Tray that’s what she wanted too. I gave Amelia a dirty look and she shrugged. What the hell? Why tell me Sookie was a puker and then get her to order the strongest drink in the place?
The four of us were able to talk for a while, but as the night wore on and the alcohol flowed, the music got louder and we split into two couples around the table. Sookie had moved her chair closer to mine. We made small talk and people watched, as she sipped her drink. She started to get a little more touchy feely as her drink got lower. Her foot rubbed against leg and she was starting to give me bedroom eyes. Fuck.
Eventually, Sookie and Amelia went to dance while Tray and I stayed at the table. I didn’t mind dancing, but I was enjoying watching Sookie move on the dance floor. Tray grabbed another round of beers and switched seats so we were next to each other. I shrugged, I still had some time before I had to drive, and took the beer.
“Oberon.” He raised his glass and I guessed that was the name of the beer. “They make it over in Kalamazoo, you can only get it in the summer.” I took a sip, it was pretty good and I told him so. “Oh yeah,” he continued. “When this stuff comes out on March 1st every year it flies out of the store. It means spring is here.”
I was getting the impression these Michigan folks were a little crazy about their beer. The leasing agent had left me a sampler six-pack in the fridge, that included beers from six different breweries in the area. We sipped our beers in silence, well we were silent, but the music was anything but.
Eventually Tray leaned closer, so I could hear him. “We need to go dance with them. Or at least I do. Amelia starts to get handsy when she’s been drinking. I’d rather have her flirt with me than some random guy.”
We gave up the table, snaking through the bodies on the dance floor to where Sookie and Amelia were jumping and dancing. I realized they had both gotten another drink and the liquid was sloshing out of their cups as they moved. I really didn’t want to clean up puke, and I remembered Amelia saying before that Sookie didn’t get drunk very often, so I hoped that she had switched to Diet Coke, or at least a drink that only had one shot of alcohol in it.
The music changed, a singer let out a bluesy cry, and then a saxophone wailed. Sookie and Amelia struck a pose, smiling at each other. Speaking along with the song, they said, “Do your thang honey,” then started dancing when the beat kicked in. They looked like the twins that lived next door to my parents when I was a child, performing for all of the neighborhood kids in their basement. My friends and I used to love to watch them dance.
The show Sookie was putting on was way better than that though. She swayed her hips and moved her arms around, looking radiant. The song was ‘Ain’t No Other Man‘ by Christina Aguilera, or someone, all of the female pop stars kind of sounded the same to me. Sookie and Amelia were shouting the words and pointing fingers at me and Tray as they moved around. I think Tray was equally amused by their little show. He was dancing, sort of, and staring at his wife with a grin on his face.
The chorus came on and Sookie grabbed me by my lapel, pulling me towards her, dancing with her breasts pressed against my chest. My cock sprang to attention, and I was glad the music was loud, so no one could hear the growl that I couldn’t hold back. She looked into my eyes and bobbed her head, being sassy, as she sang the last lines of the chorus, “You got soul, you got class, you got style with that bad ass. Ain’t no other man, it’s true. Ain’t no other man but you.”
Fuck. I was done. I was about to go caveman and carry her out of the club, but she wasn’t finished. She spun around, backing herself up against me, shaking her ass and singing to Amelia, who had put a similar spell on Tray. The song finished and Sookie turned back around, throwing her arms around me. I leaned down to hold her and she giggled, running her hands across my back and down my hips. She looked up at me and bit her lip. It was hot as fuck and she seemed totally oblivious.
The four of us danced to a couple more songs before Amelia indicated she was ready for a break. Taking my hand, Sookie led me to the edge of the patio and climbed up to sit on the railing. She set her drink down and ran her hands up my chest, around my neck, pulling me into a kiss. I was impressed as hell that she was taking the initiative, and had my hands in her hair, kissing her back. It felt like it lasted forever, tasting her, and feeling her hands on my back, but I’m sure it was really only seconds.
We separated, smiling at each other and Amelia tugged at my shirtsleeve. I looked over and she was making a cutting motion across her neck and pointing at Sookie. She didn’t really need to tell me, I had already figured out that Sookie was pushing drunk. I turned back to see Sookie taking a swig of her drink. Fuck. I hoped again that it was non-alcoholic, but I knew it probably wasn’t.
A little while, and several kisses later, Sookie squealed in delight at the song the DJ started playing. Jumping down, she grabbed Amelia’s hand and ran back onto the dance floor. She had forgotten what was left of her drink, so I dumped it over the rail and turned around to watch Sookie and her amazing breasts bouncing around to I Will Survive. Tray and I leaned back to observe. About halfway through the song, he leaned over towards me.
“I think we’re going to head out soon; before my wife gets too drunk and too tired. If you know what I mean.”
I nodded, I knew exactly what he meant. I would like nothing more than to take Sookie home and spend some “not too drunk and not too tired” time in my bed. However, she probably was too drunk, and I wasn’t that kind of guy. Not to mention, I was sure that she was the kind of girl that would regret it if we did. So I stood, waiting for the song to end, contemplating how I was going to survive spending another night in bed with Sookie.
The girls eventually made their way back over to us. They were out of breath and grinning from ear to ear. Sookie laughed and I noticed Tray and Amelia practically making out. They separated, and with a wink, Amelia told us they were heading home. Sookie piped up right away saying we would walk out with them. I kept an eye on her, trying to judge her balance, to see how drunk she was. She seemed okay, but I was still worried about the puking.
We headed out of the bar and Ruben got in step beside us. “You want me to walk with you? There’s a group of photographers across the street.”
Seriously, these people were way too nice. “If you don’t mind. I don’t want them harassing Sookie.”
I don’t know what I was talking about, they were going to harass us whether he walked with us or not; but I felt like I needed to look out for her. This wasn’t her clusterfuck of a reality and I wanted to make it easier on her. We said goodbye to Tray and Amelia at the door, and Ruben stepped in front of Sookie while I took up the rear. I told Ruben where the car was and we stepped out into the night.
The camera flashes and shouts started immediately, and I wondered what pictures were going to show up in the tabloids tomorrow. Shit, they were probably already on the internet. They had pictures of us leaving Sookie’s house in the morning and there were pictures from tonight as well. I was pretty sure there were shots of us on the beach too. Honestly, there would probably be shots of everything online and in the rags, and I didn’t want to have to tell Sookie about it.
Ruben opened the passenger door to let Sookie in. He gave me a wave and I thanked him as I climbed in the car. I pulled onto the road and glanced over at Sookie. She had done fine walking to the car, so maybe she wasn’t that drunk. However, the minute that thought crossed my mind, she reached down to adjust the seat, and I realized I was probably wrong. She must have been leaning back, because as soon I heard the lever click, the seat and Sookie, flopped back with a giggle.
“Shit. Sookie are you okay? Don’t puke, alright?”
“Pshhh. I’m fine.” She was struggling to sit up and bring the seat back up to where she wanted it. “Wait? Puke? Do I puke? How do you know that? What did Amelia say about me?”
“All she said was that you might throw up if you drank too much.” I wasn’t telling her that Amelia said she was a whiny bitch, I wasn’t stupid.
She sighed dramatically. “I only had three drinks.”
Umm. I was good at alcohol math and three long islands was equal to more like nine drinks, not to mention two gin and tonics with dinner, but I wasn’t about to argue with her.
“Alright. I was just checking.”
She had the seat reclined about midway, and was turned on her side looking at me. “Did you have fun? You didn’t dance too much.”
“I had a good time.” Watching your body bounce and sway on the dance floor, oh, and especially when you rubbed your breasts and luscious ass against me. “Did you have fun?”
“I did. I haven’t been dancing in forever. Bill wouldn’t go with me, it was too noisy, he doesn’t really like current music. We should do that more often. What are we going to do next week? I want you to see Sleeping Bear Dunes and there are a bunch of great wineries up by Traverse. We can just pack the Jeep and go.”
She was totally rambling and it was adorable. Especially the way she seemed to think of us as a couple. She had remembered some things as well, but I wasn’t about to point it out right now. We pulled into the driveway and Sookie made no moves to get out of the car. I glanced over and she was staring off into space.
“What?” She turned to me and I saw her eyes clear. “Oh yeah. Just thinking. I don’t think I’m going to want you to go back to California.” Oh Sookie, you have no idea.
Unhooking my seat belt, I leaned over, taking her face in my hands and kissed her. I intended it to be soft and sweet, but she overwhelmed me with her taste, soft skin, and the smell of her hair. She was lucky we were in bucket seats, or I would have her laid out like a buffet. She gave as good as she got, drawing me towards her, moaning into my mouth. Eventually, I pulled back, trying catch my breath. This was not the time for these feelings. She looked as dazed as I felt, and then suddenly, her eyes got bright and she grinned.
“I’m kind of hungry. Let’s go make a snack or something. Do you have any chips?”
Amelia had been right that first day, drunk Sookie was a trip. We climbed out of the car and started towards the house. Stopping on the bridge to take her shoes off, she had to rush catch up to me. She reached over and took my hand, like it was the most natural thing in the world.
As we entered the house, Sookie went directly to the kitchen cupboards, rummaging for food. I grabbed a beer from the fridge and stood at the breakfast bar watching her. She was like a whirlwind.
“You only have corn chips. I think I’m going to make nachos.” She proceeded to pile a plate full of chips, cover them with cheese, toss on some jalapenos, and microwaved the whole concoction.
Grabbing napkins and a Diet Coke, she put her feast on the coffee table. Sitting cross legged on the floor, she leaned back on the couch and smiled. “Come on Eric, I made enough for both of us.”
I joined her, and we sat side by side, munching on her nachos. Drunk Sookie seemed to have a lot of her memories, so we started comparing stories about other times when we had gone out with friends. Much later, the nachos were long gone and I was telling her about my cousins’ bachelor party in Las Vegas. I took the empty plate to the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of water, but when I came back to the living room, she had fallen asleep. Really asleep, like head flopped back, mouth open asleep. So much for worrying about what was going to happen later.
I carried her upstairs and slid her under the sheets. I got ready for bed, and climbed in next to Sookie with a sigh. It had been a good night, and I supposed this was the best scenario we could have ended up in. I would never take advantage of her and I had a feeling if she had stayed awake, drunk Sookie would have tried to put the moves on me, or vice versa. Fuck, why did I have to be such a gentleman?
Sookie was sleeping on her stomach holding a pillow. I reached out and put my hand on her back, feeling ridiculously like I had to be touching her to fall asleep. I closed my eyes, and let her even breathing lull me to sleep.
Sometime later, I thought I heard Sookie saying my name, but it was late and I was tired, so I figured I was dreaming. She was sprawled out, using my chest as pillow and I didn’t want to wake up. Then I heard it again.
I felt her small hand nudging me and then she giggled.
Covering her hand, I responded without opening my eyes. “What?”
“Did you carry me to bed?”
“I’m still in my clothes.”
“I don’t sleep in my clothes.”
I opened one eye. “Then get undressed,” I mumbled.
“And I have to pee.”
I opened the other eye. “Do you want me to come with you or something?”
“No.” She pouted, then muttered, “I was just telling you.”
She crawled off me and went to the bathroom. After a few minutes I heard the water running, and then she came back to bed.
“Hi. Sorry I woke you.” Her breath smelled minty. I briefly wondered if she used my toothbrush.
“It’s alright. Are you feeling okay?”
“I’m okay. I just took an aspirin and drank a big glass of water. I woke up and had to pee, and I couldn’t figure out how I got here. You carried me up here? How did I sleep through that?”
“You were out cold.”
“I’m sorry. I probably shouldn’t have had that last drink.”
“You were fine. Amelia told me you were a puker, so I got worried, but you were fine.”
“Yeah, you told me. That’s the kind of thing that bothers me. I mean, I can look at pictures and talk to people about things I’ve done to get my memory back, but stuff like that? Besides Amelia, who’s going tell me the truth like that?” I had a feeling Lafayette would, but otherwise I had no idea.
“Sookie, it’s not a big deal. It didn’t even happen.” I pulled her against my chest. “Let’s go back to sleep. You wanted to enjoy tonight and not worry about this stuff.”
“I know.” She rolled over so I was spooning her, and pulled my arm around her to snuggle. She exhaled. “I just want to remember.”
“I know you do, and you will.” I squeezed her and gave her a kiss on the shoulder. She fell asleep in my arms, and I wondered if I was ever going to sleep this good again when I went home.
I know, I know, some of you wanted them to get busy. They’ll get there. Patience my little grasshoppers. Patience. It will be soon.
Seriously – if you’re curious – we make a lot of beer in Michigan…Bells, New Holland and Old Peninsula are my local favorites.
Oh – Bell’s makes Oberon – it really does fly off the shelves March 1st. People put it up on their signs – “Oberon is here.”