I wondered if I was in shock as I stood there, silently watching the two of them walk back into the bedroom with Pam’s words still echoing around inside of my still throbbing head.
Just for one year.
Not fucking likely…
I was so overwhelmed having never felt such a wide range of emotions all at the same time. Between wanting to kick that bitch’s ass for insinuating I was a whore (somewhat understandable with the scarlet red hooker dress and sex hair, but still); fighting the urge to give Eric the junk punch he deserved; feeling anxious over the status of my future employment; and agonizing over having to explain it all to Gran, all while having the hangover to end all hangovers, I was surprised I hadn’t lost my mind. I was sure it was going to happen soon though.
When Alcide brought up my occupation (Not a whore!), I could feel the anger drain away, quickly being replaced by the fear of losing everything I’d worked for. I didn’t want to watch it all slip away now; not when I was so close to finally reaching my goal. I worked hard for everything I’d ever gotten in life and it made me appreciate it all the more, so the idea of losing everything because of one stupid mistake was heartbreaking.
I hadn’t really given much thought to the reasons why Pam asked the questions she did at first, just answering them on autopilot while my brain tried to sort through everything. I had my whole life planned out from the time I was a teenager and while I had to make some adjustments here and there (Quinn being the major one), I had pretty much stayed on track to get to where I wanted to be. Now I felt like I was drowning in water that was only ankle deep; if only I could somehow get my footing, I’d be able to save myself. I was smart, so why couldn’t I figure a way out of this?
With so many emotions bubbling near the surface, I came close to losing my shit when Pam asked why I had sighed before saying I hadn’t been married before. It was none of their fucking business why I’d sighed and just remembering the turmoil Quinn’s numerous betrayals had put me through a year earlier had my long forgotten rage building back up to epic levels. I was certainly over him, but since I was already feeling utterly disgraced over the TMZ video, it was easy to fall back into the feelings of humiliation I’d experienced thanks to Quinn’s infidelities.
“Earth to Sookie,” I heard to my right which brought me back into the present. I barely had a chance to look up before Amelia was dragging me into the far corner while glaring at Alcide’s curious expression. She started whisper talking again before I had a chance to say anything. “I think you should do it.”
“Do what?” Turn back time? Because that seemed to be my only out at this point. I’m sure the DeLorean Michael J. Fox used in Back to the Future was in L.A. somewhere. If not, there was always Bill and Ted’s phone booth, although I couldn’t remember the last time I’d actually seen a phone booth.
“Stay married to fucktard for a year,” Amelia replied to the question I’d asked, momentarily forgotten by my 80’s movies flashbacks.
“Are you insane? Why on earth would I want to do that? Isn’t my life ruined enough already?” I yelled back, also forgetting that this was supposed to be a whispered conversation even though I didn’t know why.
“Because asshole was right. They can’t fire you for getting married so if you two play nice until your probationary period ends, then there’s no reason for them to question your morals. If you admit to drunk marrying your teenage masturbation material then you’re screwed without the benefit of getting the big ‘O’.” She leaned closer asking, “You did get the big ‘O’ didn’t you? I mean, you’ve been lusting after him since puberty so just seeing him naked should’ve thrown you over the edge, right?”
“Ugh…” I sighed, “I don’t even remember meeting him last night much less having sex with him, but the evidence is there that we did.” How could I not remember any of it? Realizing I had bigger problems than remembering whether or not he was any good in the sack, I asked, “How am I supposed to stay married to him for a year? I don’t love him. Hell, I don’t even like him now that I’ve met him.”
Amelia looked at me like I was an idiot, which I couldn’t really refute after seeing myself on the video from the night before. I was an idiot…a big one. “You don’t have to like him or love him, just act like you do. From the sounds of it, he needs this showmance just as much as you do so if you both make the effort then you both get what you want.”
“But he’s a manwhore! I’m not gonna sit around pretending to be happily married when he’s out screwing any wet hole he comes across. I got enough of that from Quinn, but this time the whole world would know instead of just those bitches he works with. I’m not going through that again Ames; I won’t.”
Quinn had really done a number on me. I first saw him at the gym I’d joined when I was a sophomore in college. I had always been curvier than most other girls, but I’d put on more than the freshman fifteen and wanted to lose it. Quinn was a personal trainer there and I was instantly smitten, but I should have known he was a shallow self-centered jerk when he didn’t so much as look my way until I’d lost the weight I’d gained. I was so blindsided getting any attention from him, having thought he was out of my league, that I overlooked his constant flirting with other women. I’d watched him do it from afar for over six months and just figured it was a part of his personality, so when I was confronted by another woman at the gym telling me my now fiancé had been cheating on me the whole time we’d been together, my world fell apart. Everyone there knew what he’d been doing behind my back, but no one save her ever said a word to me. I had become a running joke amongst them, people I saw on a near daily basis, with them taking bets on when I would finally figure it out. When I confronted him, he even had the nerve to insinuate it was my fault for not paying enough attention to him. I guess working on getting my Master’s Degree and then trying to find a job was selfish of me.
I knew next to nothing about Eric Northman in real life, but I was certain he would never be faithful, real or pretend. There was no way I would go through that kind of humiliation with the world watching.
“Listen to me Sook. This whole pretend year long marriage is their idea, not yours. You hold the power here, so if you want keep him blue-balled for a year with nothing more than his right hand for relief, then make it a condition of getting you to go along with it.”
“I don’t know Ames, I doubt he would agree to that.” We both turned when we heard Pam’s heels clicking down the hall back to where we’d waited. I turned back to face Amelia silently questioning if she really thought this would work and she leaned in whispering, “It’s worth a shot.”
We both returned to the couch and sat down as I looked over at them asking, “For one year?” I kept trying to tell myself that it would go by quick, but I knew it would probably be more like dog years and feel like seven.
“Yes,” Pam replied.
Eric’s glare in my direction made me rethink the whole damn thing, but I really wanted to keep my job. If this was the only way for me to do that, then I would have to suck it up and deal.
Her eyebrows rose up in disbelief asking, “That’s it?”
Could I really demand Eric Northman’s fidelity, knowing I sure as hell wasn’t going to sleep with him? Again, that is.
There was only one way to find out, so I squared my shoulders answering, “No, I have conditions or else there’s no deal.”
Eric huffed, throwing himself on the couch and crossed his arms across his chest like a spoiled child being told he couldn’t have a cookie. I giggled inside waiting to see what his expression would be when he learned he’d have to give up more than cookies.
“We have conditions as well,” she countered.
I sat back, crossing my legs as demurely as I could given the sluttiness of the dress, and said, “Let’s hear them.”
Pam shot Eric a look that clearly said ‘Keep your mouth shut’ before looking back my way and saying, “You will move into Eric’s home immediately.” I opened my mouth to protest before closing it again, realizing I couldn’t pretend this was a real marriage if we didn’t live together. She waited until it was apparent I had nothing to say before continuing. “He has several bedrooms so you don’t have to worry about that, but you will be seen out together holding hands and making googly eyes at each other no less than once during the week and twice on the weekends. I don’t care what you do or where you go, the paparazzi will follow you everywhere so you need to look like this isn’t the giant clusterfuck it really is. No one other than the five people in this room will know that this marriage is a sham. No one. After a year has passed you two can claim irreconcilable differences and get divorced. We just need a number from you to make this deal official and I’ll have the contracts drawn up.”
After seeing the throng of paparazzi that followed us the night before, I had no doubt we wouldn’t be able to sneeze without them knowing about it. It made the idea of Eric remaining faithful all the more unlikely because if he did end up having sex with someone, it would be found out. I also wondered if I’d be able to keep the secret from Gran knowing I’d be talking to her soon enough. She could always tell whenever I tried to lie to her, but that had always been face to face, so maybe I could get away with it from afar. I knew her phone lines were probably already burning up with calls from all of her gossip mongering friends and there’d be no way she would be willing to outright lie to the everyone she knew. And my brother Jason would never be able to keep a secret with him being an even bigger gossip hound than Gran’s friends.
The list of conditions from Pam ran through my mind and as much as I couldn’t stand him, I could at least pretend to like Eric whenever we were out in public. Three times a week didn’t seem too bad and there was no question that I would be staying in my own room if I had to live in his house. I kept my deal breaker to myself for a little while longer and asked, “Number? What, like my phone number?”
Pam rolled her eyes asking, “Are you for real?” I silently cocked my head at her in reply so she elaborated, “Money. How much money is it going to take for you to agree to this and how much will you want in the divorce?”
“I can’t be bought!” I yelled, completely outraged. I thought we’d already established I wasn’t a whore.
“Then what do you want?”
I looked at Eric, seeing him glaring right back at me, wanting to memorize his expression when he heard me say the words. I cleared my throat and used a tone of voice that left no question as to whether or not I was serious and said, “I want his fidelity.”
It was comical really. His eyebrows furrowed like he didn’t understand the word, which I kind of wondered might be the case, before his eyes got as big as saucers and his jaw hung open catching flies. I could see he had a million things dying to come out of his mouth, but in their rush to leave they’d created a traffic jam in his throat causing him to merely choke on them all.
Before he could say anything, Pam beat him to it agreeing, “Done.”
That one word seemed to clear his airways because he stood up, towering over us all, yelling “No fucking way!”
“YES fucking way,” she responded. “Do you really think you can get away with sticking your dick in anything you please without getting caught? Even if you could do it away from prying eyes and camera lenses, how long do you think it would be before the cum receptacle sold her story to one of the gossip magazines?”
Still in a fury, he lashed out at me asking, “Why? Do you crave my dick so bad that you want it all to yourself?”
“Hardly,” I snorted, already immune to his asshattery. “Appearances are everything and I need to appear to be in a loving, stable relationship in order to have a chance at keeping my job. And, I won’t be made a fool of in front of the whole world with you running around fucking anything in your path. Trust me; the only thing I want from your dick is for it to stay in your pants.”
Eric continued to stare back to me with each of us eye blaming the other for our current ails. Everyone else seemed to fade away from the intensity of it all until it was just the two of us, each staring the other down with neither one of us willing to blink in concession.