“How you feeling?” I ask Sookie at the end of day one.
I don’t know exactly what she expected for day one of the press junket, but it’s eleven p.m. and we’re just now on the way back to my house. We left at four in the morning.
“Exhausted,” she says with a tired smile. “I’m adding a Keurig to your shopping list.”
“Do you finally feel like you’re going to be earning your paycheck?”
“Oh yeah,” she laughs.
“Good,” I smile and lean over in the back of the Towncar to kiss her lips sweetly. “You did a great job.”
“Thank you,” she replies and quickly turns her head.
“Hey, what’s going on, Sookie?” I ask. She doesn’t turn down kisses. Ever.
“Nothing,” she replies. “I’m just tired.”
“And last night when you cried in the tub for an hour? That was just tired too?” I call her out.
“I didn’t think you heard me,” she whispers.
“I did and I don’t like hearing my friends cry like that. I let it go last night, but… Talk to me, Sookie. Please.”
“It’s personal, Eric,” she says, turning her head to look at me. “I’d rather keep it to myself.”
I nod my head and say, “That’s all you had to say. Don’t lie and say it’s a Katy Perry song. I understand privacy, you should know that.”
She nods too and then turns her head toward the window again. I know she thinks it’s boyfriendy, but I don’t give a fuck. I slyly slip my hand over hers and give it a squeeze. I don’t know what the hell is going on, but I know stress and secrets.
The rest drive back to my house is made in silence. Sookie doesn’t take her hand away, but she doesn’t look at me either. I guess she’ll come around in her own time. She’s my assistant, not my girlfriend.
“Are you awake enough to drive?” I ask as we walk into the house. She looks exhausted.
“I don’t think so,” she says. “I brought extra clothes just in case since I wasn’t sure what to expect.”
“Alright. Are you hungry or anything?” I’m starving. We haven’t eaten in hours.
“No, I just want to go to sleep,” she tells me.
“Okay. Goodnight,” I smile. “Thank you. Today was good.”
“You’re welcome.” Sookie smiles back at me and shuffles off to the guest room.
I take a detour to the kitchen and start to go through the fridge. Sookie has done a good job keeping it stocked with snacks and shit so I don’t starve and I don’t eat out every meal. I find a gallon sized ziplock of chopped up veggies and pull that out. I end up eating the whole gallon before I go to my room. I strip my clothes off and land in the middle of my bed. I knew what to expect, but I’m still so fuckin’ tired I’m pretty sure I’m asleep before I hit the bed.
It’s my first day off since the press shit started. Sookie should be here any second to go through the plans for tomorrow. I’m standing in front of my new Keurig, looking for the dark roast in the pile of coffee, when I hear the front door open. She doesn’t have a key yet, but I unlock the door as soon as I wake up.
“Sook, what did you do with all the dark roast?” I call without turning around.
“It’s in the cupboard by the fridge,” she tells me, and then I hear a throat clear.
I freeze and drop the K-cup in my hand. What the actual fuck is she doing here? And how the fuck did Sookie fucking find out who she is and where to find her. Sonja knows not to call me, and I definitely don’t want to see her. In my house.
I slowly turn around and look at my mother for the first time in eight years. Sookie looks nervous and Sonja looks sad. She can be fucking sad all she wants.
“What the fuck is She doing here?” I direct at Sookie.
“I invited her,” she says. “You said you needed–”
“You had no right!” I yell, making her jump. “Room. Now,” I growl, pointing her down the hall.
Sookie glances at my mother before turning and heading down the hall.
“Please, what, Sonja?” I say in a steely voice. “What did you tell me when I pleaded for you to listen to me? Right; I don’t believe you and I don’t want to hear your fucking lies.”
“She thought she was doing a good thing,” she says, meeting my eyes.
“Don’t fucking defend her. Although, I’m not fucking surprised. You’re great at defending people when they hurt me.”
She hangs her head and says, “I can leave if that’s what you want. Sookie got me a hotel room in case this happened.”
Of course she fucking did.
“I have nothing to say to you, Sonja,” I tell her.
“Don’t take this out on Sookie. She didn’t know until I told her–”
“You told her?” I ask in horror. Now I know what her fucking problem has been. She barely looks at me now. “What version did you tell her? Yours or mine?”
“The version where I was a terrible mother for not taking your side. I left him, Eric. I left him years ago,” she confesses. “I wrote you to tell you all about it.”
“You should’ve left him and had him arrested when I was ten,” I say, shaking my head.
“I know. If I could go back and do it all differently, I would,” she says as tears spring to her eyes. “I am so sorry, baby. I let you down and I can never make that up to you, but–”
“There is no “but” you fucked up. You ruined me. I blame you just as much as I blame him. It went on for three years, Sonja. It went on until I was big enough to fight him off. I had my first fucking orgasm in a man’s mouth. He was three fucking times my fucking age,” I growl. I hate Sonja just as much as I hate Ocella for this.
“I wish I could take it away, Eric. I would if I could. There aren’t enough words to describe how sorry I am for what he did to you,” she says and I can tell she’s sincere.
“Why? When I needed you most, you abandoned me for my abuser. Why in the hell would you choose him over me?”
“I’m human, Eric. I made a terrible mistake in believing him when he told me that you were making it up just to get him away from me. At the time, it made sense. You were still so upset over losing your father and you never liked him. I didn’t see the things that you saw in him. I saw a man willing to accept me and my son and that is so much harder to find than you think. It never dawned on me that he chose me because of you,” she says as tears slide down her cheeks. “I was blind to it all because… because maybe deep down I didn’t want to believe that I was foolish enough not to see it for myself. I have regretted that choice every day from the moment you told me.”
I want to cry, but I’m too angry to. I want to scream and throw things. They’re all bullshit excuses.
“Bottom line, you should always choose your child over a man you barely know,” I whisper. “I was upset over dad, but I ended up losing my mother too…”
“I’m sorry, Eric,” she says again and attempts to hug me.
“No.” I take a step back. “You don’t get to touch me.”
She nods and says, “I’ll go. Please tell Sookie I said thank you.”
I shake my head and walk down the hallway. I have a fucking assistant to fire.
“What the fuck were you thinking?” I ask when I throw my bedroom door open.
Sookie’s sitting on the end of my bed, also crying, and she looks up at me to say, “I thought I was doing a good thing. You were so upset when she sent that card and you said you needed her. I thought it would be a nice surprise to see her since it’s been so long.”
“And she told you?”
“About your stepfather, yes,” she nods and wipes her cheeks. “She didn’t go into details but I figured it out.”
“Yet, you still invited her here…” I close my eyes and stretch my neck. “That’s fucking bullshit, Sookie.”
“I thought I was doing a good thing,” she sniffles and stands up. She opens her purse and pulls out her wallet to retrieve my credit cards. “Here. I assume you want these back,” she says as she hands them to me.
I take the cards and slide them into my back pocket.
“I needed the mother that I had before I told her Ocella was molesting me. I will never need that woman,” I tell her.
Sookie nods and says, “I’m not sorry I invited her here. What she did… it’s terrible and I would never try to defend it. You deserved so much better than what you got, Eric. But you still need her, at least on some level. I thought maybe it was time to try to move forward instead of looking back. I’m sorry I hurt you. Thank you for this opportunity and good luck in future endeavors.” To her credit, Sookie walks out of my bedroom with her head held high.
I wait until I hear the front door close and go out to lock it behind them. I’m hurt and angry and I feel so fucking betrayed it’s disgusting. I don’t know whether to scream or find a bottle of jack to drown my sorrows.
I do the next best thing. I call Jessica and tell her to be ready for me.
Two days have passed since the whole Sonja blow up. I’m still pissed off, but I’ve calmed down enough to think with a clear head. I know Sookie thought she was doing something right. It might have been, I don’t know. However, just because Sonja left Ocella it doesn’t mean we can have what we did before. Not even close.
My first order of business is to call Sookie. I feel like I owe her an apology, but she gave me her reasoning and based on that I can give her one more chance. If she fucks up like that again she’s done.
My call goes straight to her voicemail.
I don’t know where Sonja is staying, nor do I have her number with me so I do the next best thing. I call Sookie’s home number hoping someone answers that phone.
“Whatever you’re selling, we’re not interested,” A woman who isn’t Sookie answers the phone. “And I don’t believe in Jesus.”
“Hello, this is Eric Northman, is Sookie available?”
“Nope, sorry,” she answers. “She hasn’t been home in two days.”
What the fuck?
“And you’re not worried?” Knowing her mood when she left it actually scares me a little to know she hasn’t been home.
“Nah, I took her to LAX myself,” she says. “Right after she quit the paper.”
“Quit. The. Paper?” I repeat slowly. What the fuck?
“Shit. I probably wasn’t supposed to say that.”
“Well, now you did. Tell me everything,” I grumble. This just went from bad to way fucking worse.
“It’s not really my place to do that,” she replies.
“Where did she fly to?”
“To go see Adele?”
“I can’t tell you any more than that. She’ll strangle me for telling you she left at all.”
“Thanks. You told me all I need to know.” I hang up and go to my office.
I need to find Sonja and then find Sookie. The last thing I need is an emotional reporter… She’s a fucking reporter that fucking played me. Fuck.
I call Talbot first thing and tell him to take Sookie off of payroll immediately. I also tell him Sookie was already working for a paper which means she was most likely a reporter. He’s going to call my publicist to make sure she’s updated with everything and then I go online to find out where Adele Stackhouse lives. Being such a small town, addresses and house phone numbers are in the white pages.
I sit back on my couch and dial the number for Adele Stackhouse. Before I lose my shit I want the full story.
“Good afternoon, Stackhouse residence,” A sweet, southern voice greets me.
“Hello,” I smile into the phone. “May I please speak with Sookie?”
“May I ask who’s calling?”
“This is Eric Northman,” I answer.
“Get outta town!” she says cheerfully. “Well I never thought I’d see the day a famous actor called my house–” The phone changes hands.
“How did you get this number?” Sookie asks nervously.
“Google. I’m not calling to yell at you, so please don’t hang up.”
“What do you want?”
“Tell me the full story,” I request. “I called to offer you your job back and your roommate said you quit the paper… I just want the truth.”
Sookie sighs heavily and grumbles, “Fuckin’ Amelia,” under her breath. “The day I met you I almost got fired from The Daily Snoop. Another story I had been working on was scooped by another paper. That morning you were nominated for your Oscar and as a last ditch effort to save my job, I said I would get an interview with you since you’ve been so quiet in the media. I showed up on your doorstep with the intention of asking you for that interview and then you started talking about needing an assistant so I went along with it. I know I betrayed your trust and I understand if you never want to speak to me again but you should know that I quit the paper and I’m not going to publish anything about your personal life. It’s not my place to tell your secrets and my integrity means more to me than making a name on your secrets.”
I stay quiet for a minute as I take in her story. The real question is, do I trust her? She’s done a good job pretending to be someone she isn’t that last month which begs the question.
“What’s been lies and what has the truth been?”
“I lied about my pretenses for being there but everything I’ve told you about myself is the truth,” she answers.
“Okay,” I nod even though she can’t see it. I have a lot of thinking to do. “When are you coming home?”
“I don’t know,” she says. “I’m contemplating moving back here. There’s an opening at the parish paper. I don’t really want to go back to working at tabloids.”
“I obviously have a lot to think about still, but if I wanted you to would you come back to be my assistant?”
There’s a pause before she asks, “Why would you even want to be near me after this, Eric? Because I’m a good fuck?”
“It has nothing to do with your skills in the bedroom, Sookie. You’re a great assistant and even though you almost fucked me over, your integrity won out. That’s a rare thing in Los Angeles. If you and I didn’t sleep together ever again, and we kept a solely professional relationship that would be fine. Contrary to what you might think, I believe in second chances and I considered you a friend.”
“That was my second chance,” she reminds me. “I lied to you about how I showed up at your house the first time.”
“I count this all as one big fuck up.”
“I need some time to think it over,” she says. “I’m not sure if I belong in Los Angeles anymore. Fuck, I don’t know if I ever belonged there at all.”
“Think it over. I like to think I wasn’t a terrible person to work for,” I say.
“No, you weren’t. If you were, I might have gone through with writing the article,” she admits.
“Thank you for not doing it… Is Sonja still in town?”
“She’s in town until Friday afternoon. She’s staying in the Sunset Marquis,” Sookie tells me.
“Thanks… Well, you have my number. Please call me either way,” I tell her.
“Sure. Take care of yourself, Eric,” she says and then she’s gone.
I drop my head back. I didn’t know what I was going to do when I called, but it turns out, even though she lied, she was good at what she did and I actually like her. I would be sad to not get her back. In the grand scheme of things what Sookie did pales in comparison to the shit I’ve been through.
As for Sonja. I need to suck it up and talk to her. I may not be able to forgive her any time soon, but I need to start somewhere.