What the Hell? This woman, this force of nature, that seemed to drop into my life last night, was actually someone that I’ve known of for several years, but I never knew whoshe was.
“You’re The Queen of All that is Delicious.”
Alcide barked with laughter and Amelia’s eyes got wide. Sookie just looked at me blankly, but I knew it was her.
“Your blog. It’s called The Queen of All that is Delicious.”
“You know me?”
“Yeah, I mean, no,” I fumbled. “I was in Chicago a couple of years ago for my cousins’ wedding and I wanted to take my mom out for good Italian food. When I searched on the internet I found your blog about Rose Angelis. The way you described the food, I could almost taste it, and what you said about the tiramisu made it sound amazing. My mom is addicted to the stuff now. You only write about Chicago restaurants, but I read your blog at home in California sometimes because the writing is so good.”
Amelia and Alcide were grinning like school kids, but I had a feeling it was for different reasons.
“Perfect!” Alcide practically shouted. “That’s our story. You met online because of the blog and then you found out you’d both be here at the same time so you decided to meet in person.”
It seemed harmless, if I didn’t know that it was bound to spiral out of control like Hollywood bullshit always did.
“Right, okay. We have to find some things for you guys to do over the next three weeks so you can get some more publicity,” Alcide said.
“What?” Sookie and I asked at the same time.
“I told you, no one night stands. They know she didn’t leave last night. You’re having a summer fling buddy. Good thing you two seem to get along,” Alcide said as he flipped his phone open and went out on the balcony.
“What just happened?” Amelia asked with a laugh.
“That is Alcide trying to spin things,” I sighed and looked at Sookie. “I told you he had no boundaries where I was concerned.”
“I guess you weren’t kidding.”
“Shit. I’ll take care of this.” Sliding the door back open, I followed Alcide to the balcony. Grabbing the phone out of his hand, I closed it, ending his call.
“I was talking to Pam. We’ve got to get this shit figured out.”
“Sookie is not shit. She is a wonderful woman who has gotten caught in the middle of all of this crazy ass Hollywood drama. We are going to figure out a way to handle this without making her do anything ridiculous. Let’s call a doctor out here and have him look her over and we can explain what happened. I mean, we were in a cluster of photographers, I’m sure someone has a picture of her getting knocked down.”
“That would have worked, if you called the doctor last night, jackass. Now it will look like we’re making it the fuck up. Amnesia? I wouldn’t believe it if I wasn’t here with her.”
“Okay, but there has to be another way. Let’s just try to figure this out before we rush into some story half cocked.”
“Fine. I need to call the Festival guys and figure out if they want you to make an appearance to make up for last night. Really, I need to call the producer, because he’s probably pissed off. It’s a good thing that none of this was in your contract; that you just chose to show up out here for vacation. Fuck. You’re a piece of work right now Northman.”
He walked down to the end of the balcony and started making more phone calls.
Leaning on the railing, I took a deep breath and watched the waves for a few seconds. Unbelievable. This bullshit was exactly what I hated about Los Angeles, what I avoided at all costs, and it had followed me here. I couldn’t believe that her ex had told the press who she was. What kind of douche was he? Shit. I stretched and headed back into the house to talk with Sookie and Amelia.
Sliding the door closed behind me, I gave Sookie what I hoped was a kind smile. “I’m sorry. You don’t deserve to be in the middle of this train wreck.”
“It’s okay Eric. I’ll do it.”
“We’ll figure out what to tell people so that you don’t…What?”
“I’ll do it,” she said again.
I looked at Amelia and she nodded too.
“What? Why would you do this for me? You don’t owe me anything for last night, Sookie.”
“No, I mean, I’m thankful that you took care of me, but that’s not it. We talked,” she said, glancing at Amelia. “And really, since I don’t remember anything, this is kind of a good time for me to hang out with you. I mean, why not get to know myself at the same time as you do?”
She shrugged and smirked at me. “That is, if you’re okay with people thinking we had a little summer fling. I’m not all that glamorous.”
If I was okay with it? Holy fuck. “Sookie, are you sure?”
“Since my divorce is final it doesn’t matter what I do,” she grinned.
I hadn’t done anything but touch her shoulder since Alcide and Amelia had arrived, but I remembered the way my heart slammed in my chest when I saw her get knocked to the sidewalk, how comfortable we were last night, and the feel of her in my arms when I woke up. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my vacation.
“I would love to have a summer fling with you,” I said laughing.
“This is so cool!” Amelia squealed. “It’s like a Lifetime movie! Okay, why don’t you come to dinner at my place tonight? I can take Sook home and see if she remembers anything, our houses are next door to each other. You can meet us later. ”
“You’re my neighbor?”
“Oh, jeez!” Amelia laughed. “I’m going to start making stuff up to fuck with you. Sorry, this is kind of weird. Yes, I’m your neighbor.”
At first I was a little pissed at Amelia’s joke and I almost said something, but Sookie giggled. It was a sound I would have paid money to hear.
“Dinner sounds good. Do me a favor though and lay low today. Let me figure out what we should do about all of this and we’ll talk tonight.”
“Sure. Who am I going to tell? I don’t remember anyone else.”
“You will,” I said, putting my hand on hers. I stood, pulling her up beside me, our sides brushing, and we gazed at each other. I had no idea what was going on between us, but I was certainly looking forward to finding out.
Amelia snorted, startling us. “I think this plan is going to work quite well,” she laughed. “Sook, let’s head out. I think Hoyt is almost finished at your place, so we can get your bags from the hotel. It’s probably better that you stay at the house instead of the hotel since it’s more familiar.”
Amelia dug a pen and paper out of her purse, jotting down her address and Sookie’s cell phone number, since clearly Sookie didn’t remember it.
“What time tonight?”
“Come by around six and we’ll throw the steaks on. We’ll go raid Sook’s freezer now and get out the tiramisu.” She laughed again, she was really enjoying this, grabbed her purse and headed to the door.
Sookie looked like she was about to have a panic attack, so I took her hand.
“Are you okay?”
She shook her head yes, but it wasn’t convincing.
“It’s alright. I’ll be over in a few hours to join you. This is good. Going home might help you remember things.”
Her eyes darted to Amelia by the door and then back to me. She started to say something and then stopped.
She bit her lip and looked up at me with those amazing eyes. “I know this sounds crazy, but can I have your phone number? You know what to say when I start to freak out, and I’m afraid I’m going to need you, I mean, it.”
Smirking, I took the phone out of her nervous hands and saved my number in the address book.
“Come here,” I said, pulling her into my arms. “Call me if you need me. I may have to go up to the Festival for a while or go for a run, but I’ll be around.”
She gave me a squeeze and stepped back. “Thanks. I’ll see you later.”
Amelia and I walked across the bridge to Eric’s driveway. I was so mixed up. I had no idea who the fuck I was. I mean, apparently, I’m Sookie Stackhouse, but that doesn’t mean anything to me. I’m divorced from a cheating dentist and I just spent the night with Eric Northman, which is being spread through the tabloids as we speak.
Climbing into the car, I exhaled loudly and put my head back on the seat.
“Let’s start with what the hell kind of name is Sookie?”
When she finished laughing hysterically, Amelia told me that it was a family name.
“Bill wanted you to change it to Susannah legally though, that’s what he wanted to call you.”
“He wanted me to change my name? I didn’t agree to that did I?” She shook her head no while she laughed. “Where did I meet him anyway?”
“You lived in the same building during your senior year at Northwestern.” We pulled onto the main road, Eric’s house disappearing behind us.
“He sounds like a complete ass.”
“He pretty much is. I just put up with him for you.”
I was getting frustrated as we drove into town. Why did I recognize local restaurants and stores when I couldn’t remember anything about myself? We stopped by a hotel and Amelia ran in, coming out with a large dufflebag and a leather hobo style purse. That must have been what she meant when she said I had a purse the size of a suitcase. It was huge. What the hell did I carry around in there? She threw the bags in the trunk and got back in the car.
“Ready?” she asked.
Nodding, I read the street signs as she drove through the tourist crowded streets. We came around a corner a few minutes later and Amelia pulled into the driveway of a little bungalow.
“This is it. It’s been in your family for three generations. Does it look familiar?”
“Umm…maybe?” It did look familiar, but I would have never guessed that it was mine.
“You’ve been having Hoyt Fortenberry work on winterizing it. You know, new windows, adding insulation and giving the fireplace an overhaul since it hadn’t been used in years.”
“Fireplaces are cool.” We were still sitting in the car looking at the house. It was light blue with white trim and had some cute flower pots on either side of the stairs.
Amelia looked over at me, “Are we going in?”
“I guess we should. The keys are probably in my purse.”
“Probably, but it would take an act of God to find them in there. I know where the hide-a-key is.”
“I have a hide-a-key? Is that safe?”
“Oh man, you are too much. Yes. It’s safe,” she said shaking her head. “I need to talk to Tray before you see him. He’s going to have a field day with you.”
“I’m glad I’m entertaining.”
We walked over to the side of the house and Amelia picked up a statue of a fairy next to a blooming Dahlia plant. She slid open a secret compartment, withdrew a key, and led me around the front of the house. Unlocking the door, she held it open so I could go in first. I think she was afraid that I’d run away if she went in before me.
Coming through the door, I looked around at a cozy living room. There was a comfy couch and side chair with a couple of blankets, and pictures, lots of pictures on every surface. I walked to the fireplace, taking a frame off the mantle.
“Who is this?” I said, holding the frame towards Amelia.
“Oh,” she laughed. “That’s your Gran. She lived here every summer of her life.”
“She did? She looks familiar, but like someone else’s grandmother.”
“She was yours. And you are a lot like her.” She pointed out some of the photos to me. “That’s you and your brother Jason. You already put away the pictures of Bill. Oh! Here’s us with Felicia and Ginger. They own the hotel you were staying at.”
We looked really happy, and maybe a little drunk judging by the martini glasses in our hands. We were sitting outside at a bar or restaurant and grinning from ear to ear. I really wanted to remember them. I had the same feeling as when I looked at the picture of Gran, that I should know everyone, but they weren’t my people.
Amelia gave me a little space and wandered towards the kitchen. I heard her rifling around in the freezer, probably getting out the tiramisu.
Eventually, I wandered into the hallway, noting two bedrooms and a large bathroom. Pushing open a door I saw some suitcases on the floor and a dufflebag on the bed. This must be my room. I opened the dufflebag and looked at some of my clothes. I seemed to have good taste. I flipped through the closet; it was filled with more clothes that looked like they would fit me. Sighing, I walked to the dresser and opened a jewelry box containing a couple of necklaces and rings that I didn’t recognize.
“That was your Gran’s,” Amelia said from the doorway.
“Did she leave it to me, or did no one want it?”
“When she died, she left the house to you and your brother, but he let you buy him out as long as you’d let him come up a couple of times a year. He didn’t want your Gran’s jewelry, and really Sook, besides Bill, Jay is the only family you have.”
“But you’ve got me, Ginger and Felicia from the hotel, and a couple of other close friends. Now it seems you have Eric Northman, which we still need to talk about.”
“I don’t know what to tell you,” I said sitting on the bed. “He was so nice to me and I feel really comfortable when I’m with him. Like right now, with you, I’m okay, but I’m looking around and I feel like I’m lost. I should recognize this stuff. I should know what’s in my refrigerator, but I can’t remember any of it. When I was with him last night I could turn off all of the questions. We talked for hours. It was easy to relax.”
“And then you made out like rabbits?” Amelia asked with a grin.
“No. Then we went to bed, separately.”
Laughing, I told her the rest of it, well, most of it. “And I couldn’t relax so I asked him to let me sleep with him. He said okay, but all we did was sleep.” And hold hands and spoon.
“Great green houses of the Holy guacamole! You slept with him?”
“I am so glad you’re my best friend!”
I giggled. Suddenly, I knew she was my best friend too. I waited for something more, like memories in addition to the knowledge of our friendship to come back, but there was nothing. My eyes got teary, but I tried to smile at her anyway, it was bittersweet.
She smiled back and glanced at her watch. “Alright, I need to give Tray a list of things to grab at the store, so we should head to my place, unless you want to stay here for a bit.”
“I think I’d like to come with you. Is there anything I should bring?”
“Just the dessert, but we’ll grab that on the way out.”
Following her to the kitchen, the cell phone in my pocket startled me and began playing Defying Gravity from Wicked. Should I answer it? Shit. I pulled the phone out, glancing at the caller I.D. and looked at Amelia, “Who’s Lafayette?”
“Oh shit. Don’t answer that. Let him leave a voice mail. Lafayette is a good friend. He used to be your hair dresser but he moved to California and is doing hair and make-up for some sit com. He probably saw the pictures of you with Eric.”
My phone made a different chirping sound, and a light blinked, alerting me to a voice mail. “I don’t know the code,” I muttered.
“It’s the first four digits of Jean Valjeans’s prisoner number.”
“What? I use someone’s prisoner number for my pin? Who do I know in prison?”
“Jean Valjean, from ‘Les Miserables,’ you know…” She groaned. Then she sang the numbers, “Two, four, six, oh, one.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” I mumbled, and entered the numbers into my phone, and damn if it didn’t work. It occurred to me that I must like musicals, my pin and ring tone were both show-tunes and then the automated voice distracted me, saying that I had “One new message.” I pressed the speaker button and the #1 key to listen.
“Sooks. You need to call my ass back. Why are there pictures of you getting into a motherfucking little red Corvette with Eric Northman? And how in God’s name do these animals have your name already? But most importantly bitch, you need a fucking haircut. Call me.”
There were a couple of “kiss kiss” sounds and then the system asked me to save or delete. I decided to save. Like Amelia, Lafayette seemed comfortable saying just about anything to me. We must be really good friends.
“We really need to go online and check out those pictures. He could be trouble,” Amelia sighed.
“What?” Who could be trouble? Eric? Lafayette? I wished I knew what the hell was going on.
“Let’s just hope that we experience a miracle and Lafayette keeps his damn mouth shut. He’ll be talking to reporters to make a buck in about ten minutes.”
“Should I call Eric?”
“No,” she sighed. “Give me the phone; I’ll call Cali-boy.”
She hit redial and started talking with Lafayette, explaining that I had forgotten my phone at her place yesterday. She stuck to the bare bones story that we had come up with earlier, saying that Eric and I met through my blog. She worked pretty hard convincing him, saying that I hadn’t even told her about it until yesterday because Eric didn’t want anyone to gossip, he’s so private you know. She asked him for privacy, for my sake, never really mentioning Eric’s wishes and somehow, she never confirmed if it was anything more than a friendship. I swear, the woman should go into politics. Ending the call, she told him that she would have me call him when I picked up my phone.
“That was amazing.”
“Well, you better get used to it and practice saying it yourself or you and lover boy are going to spend the next couple of weeks locked in his fabulous beach house. Wait, on second thought, don’t even try to say this shit, lock yourself in with him and give me details next month,” she said with a grin.
“It’s not like that Amelia.”
“Oh, hell. It might not have been like that last night, but it’s going to be like that soon. I’m betting by the end of the week.”
“You’re betting on us?”
She winked at me. “I only bet on sure things.”