I thought leaving Sookie in bed that morning took all of my willpower, but that was nothing compared to having to walk away from her at the airport while knowing how upset she was. While I completely understood her need to be with her grandmother, it wasn’t exactly the way I’d expected our night to turn out and I felt like a complete shit for not going with her, even though it was what she’d said she wanted at the time. Another thing I wasn’t expecting was what almost came out of my mouth when we were saying our goodbyes.
I’d almost told her I loved her.
I couldn’t even be certain if I did; I’d never been in love before, but I knew I didn’t want to let her go. Ever.
I also knew that if and when I told her I loved her for the first time, I didn’t want to do it when she was about to fly 1600 miles away from me. So I sat in my car in the LAX parking garage and as her midnight departure neared I sent her one final thought, one I was ready to admit and knew for certain, hoping she’d get my text before turning her phone off for the flight. My silent prayer was answered a moment later.
She missed me too.
I didn’t start the car until the alert hit my phone that her plane had taken off and I noticed the change as soon as I walked into the house. It felt emptier than it ever had before. All it was missing was Sookie and a few days worth of her clothes, but I may as well have been standing in the middle of the Grand Canyon. I knew it was all psychological, so I went upstairs to take a shower before going to sleep, ignoring the bag of condoms I’d left on the nightstand next to the bed, and just kept telling myself she’d be back. It became my mantra with me silently chanting it over and over and over, all through my shower and with every tick of the clock I watched go by, but it was no use. Time practically stood still when minutes felt like hours; hours felt like days until I couldn’t lie there any longer and went and checked on her flight online. I saw her plane had been delayed in Houston so I tried calling her cell phone, but it went straight to voicemail and I figured she probably would have assumed I would be asleep.
I ended up going for a run just for something to do before heading into the gym to meet up with Tray. Since I’d arrived earlier than normal, I finished up there early too. I checked Sookie’s flight again on my phone and saw she wouldn’t be landing in Shreveport until 11:30 her time, but seeing I also had another text message from Yvetta asking me if I was ready to ‘cum back to her’, I headed to the nearest cell phone store to get a new number.
I tried calling Sookie from my new cell phone before I’d even left the store, but knowing her plane had just barely landed I wasn’t surprised when it went right to voicemail again. After leaving her a message telling her I hoped she was doing okay and that I missed her, I told her to give me a call whenever she got a chance and left her my new phone number. I texted it to her just to be on the safe side and then left for the studio where I ended up running into Holly in the hallway. I could tell she was nervous, but excited, and she thanked me again for getting her the job and told me Jessica hadn’t stopped talking about me since they’d left the day before, so I took a few minutes to go see her in the daycare. It was one of the few places in the building I hadn’t ever had a reason to see, so I was surprised to see so many other kids there.
Did EVERYBODY have a kid these days?
It took me all of two seconds to spot Jessica’s red head sitting by herself in the corner with a book in her lap, but she must have seen me out of the corner of her eye because she looked up and the grin she’d been missing was back in full force. Her hands flew as fast as Sookie’s and I had to sign to her to slow down so I could catch it all, still being a little rusty.
The daycare workers gave me a strange look when I’d walked in, but recognizing me they didn’t say anything at first. Once I’d started signing back and forth with Jessica their wary looks changed to grateful expressions and one of them approached me saying they weren’t able to get an interpreter on short notice until lunchtime, so I ended up staying.
Jessica wanted me to tell her another story and when I pointed out she already had a book in her lap she’d said she was only looking at the pictures because she couldn’t read yet. She also informed me that none of the other kids would play with her, I assumed because she was deaf, so I ended up sitting down next to her and asking her what she wanted to play.
Being an actor came in handy as I was delegated to be the pupil opposite her teacher role and I found it hard to believe I was ever small enough to sit at one of those tiny fucking desks. She couldn’t stop giggling at me as I tried to maneuver my way into it until I finally gave up and sat on the floor next to it. Before long all of the other kids started inching our way (it was hard to miss me; a giant in a crowd of midgets) and while the daycare worker had already told me the rest of the kids would be taught sign language by the interpreter, I ended up teaching them a few basic signs myself. By the time I left you wouldn’t have known she was different from any of the other kids by the way they were all laughing and playing together.
I didn’t regret spending that time helping Jessica’s first day in a new place go easier for her, but I knew I was late for rehearsals and figured no one would think to look for me in the daycare rooms. I was surprised when I reached the set to see it empty of almost everyone, so I tracked down one of the producers and found out the show we were scheduled to tape that week had been postponed. Apparently Bill was still sick and I’d noticed he hadn’t shown up to the after party on Friday; I’d been looking for him. Also, unknown to me, Dawn Green’s walk on role had been expanded, but since she’d been Sookie’d she couldn’t work and her part was being recast.
I had the week off.
I could’ve gone with Sookie to Louisiana.
I could STILL go to Louisiana!
I found Alcide in my dressing room, looking bored as hell, and after I told him he had the rest of the week off I sped home to pack a bag. I breezed in and out of the house in under ten minutes and honestly couldn’t remember what in the hell I threw into my bag, but I knew one thing for certain; I was traveling with 72 condoms; in my carry-on. We would NOT be stopping for THAT reason ever again if I had my way. I had to turn and run back into the house, remembering to snatch the ‘just in case’ piece of paper Sookie had left with her Gran’s address and phone number, and then fought my way through traffic heading to the airport.
The paparazzi were scattered here and there, probably waiting for any celebrity to cross in front of their lens, but I ignored them and went straight to the counter looking to get on the first flight to Shreveport. It was nearing three o’clock by the time I made my way to the front of the line and every flight connecting to Shreveport was full unless I wanted to wait for the redeye at midnight. I didn’t. I didn’t want to waste any more time than absolutely necessary so I ended up booking a flight to New Orleans and decided I would just rent a car and drive to Sookie.
How big could Louisiana be?
I sat at the boarding gate staring at my phone, waiting for the five o’clock departure, and wondering why I hadn’t heard from Sookie yet. I didn’t want to bother her if she was taking care of her Gran, but I’d hoped she would at least send me a text saying everything was okay. When I still hadn’t heard from her by the time I took my seat in the airplane, I sent her another text telling her I had the week off and was on my way there and would call her when I changed planes in Houston.
That was the plan anyway.
What should have been a flight lasting just over three hours took just over four with the plane circling the Houston airport for over an hour thanks to fucking bird activity. The ground crew had to scare away a large flock of Canadian geese before we could land and by the time we got on the ground, and were able to disembark the plane, I had to run to catch my connecting flight. It too ended up being delayed due to those same fucking birds since there was now a line of planes waiting to takeoff, so by the time I landed in New Orleans it was close to 2am. I immediately turned on my cell phone and was a little worried when I saw there were no messages waiting for me, so I tried calling Sookie again only for it to go straight to voicemail.
Maybe she lost her phone?
It hadn’t even occurred to me to check the messages at the house and since I’d gotten a new phone number Sookie wouldn’t be able to reach me. I struggled over the idea of calling her Gran’s phone number, not wanting to wake her up, and eventually decided against it knowing there would be nothing I could do to comfort Sookie over the phone if something was wrong. My unease was made worse once I got into my rental car and pulled up the directions to Bon Temps on my cell phone.
Close to six fucking hours?
Just to make myself feel worse I checked and saw if I’d flown into Dallas, I could have taken a direct flight from LAX and the drive would’ve only been two hours.
I’d be willing to bet THEY didn’t have any fucking bird activity.
There was nothing to be done for it now, so I plugged in my iPod and got onto the interstate. I stopped for coffee not long after and again for gas as I neared Shreveport, so by the time I turned onto the piss poor driveway leading to Sookie’s childhood home it was 8 o’clock in the morning. I sat there staring at it for a moment wondering what it had been like for Sookie to have grown up there. The farmhouse had seen better days, but it still looked like a home filled with nothing but good memories. All it needed was some minor repair work, a new coat of paint, and perhaps a new porch swing, but I liked it.
I got out of the car and stretched my legs before slinging my duffle bag over my shoulder and making my way up the porch steps. My hand was in the air poised to knock when my phone rang and I looked down seeing Sookie’s name flash on the caller ID.
Smiling I answered, “Hello?”
“Eric, I’m so sorry. My phone died and I fell asleep before I could charge it and when I plugged it in a minute ago I saw you’re text with your new phone number. Why did you get a new number? Did you get my message yesterday at the house?”
I felt a hundred times better hearing her rambling voice, my heart warming at the sound, and chuckled asking, “Already have your coffee did you?”
“Oh! Good Lord, it’s only six o’clock your time. Did I wake you?”
“No, I’ve been up for a while.” A long while.
I couldn’t wait any longer to actually see her face and rang the doorbell right as she asked, “Why?” She quickly followed up with, “Can you hold on a sec? Somebody’s ringing the damn doorbell.”
I heard her footsteps going down the stairs, both on the phone and through the door, and when she pulled it open and saw me standing there, her mouth hung open in surprise while I answered her question. “Because it felt like I spent a week away from you last night.”
It actually felt longer than that and seeing her again burned away the lingering chill in my body her absence had induced, but when her gaping mouth transformed into a smile as she launched herself at me, I finally felt whole again in her arms. “I missed you,” she whispered into my chest. “I’m glad you came.”
Before either of us could say anything else the sound of feet shuffling down the hallway could be heard seconds before, “Sookie? Who’s here sweetheart?”
Sookie pulled away with a half-grimace half-smile before she turned around saying, “Gran! You should be resting in bed.”
“Horse puck! You kids act like I’m already in the marble pasture next door. I may have reservations there, but I’m not ready to check in just yet. I’m fit as a fiddle!”
Sookie pulled me into the house behind her, shaking her head saying, “We do not!” She caught herself before she could actually stomp her foot, making me chuckle out loud, which drew her attention back to me. I looked over and saw Sookie’s Gran standing there with a small bandage over her left eye, in a flower patterned house coat that would give Pam a case of the vapors, but seemed to suit her perfectly. She smiled broadly at me as Sookie said, “Gran, I’d like you to meet my husband, Eric Northman.” She didn’t pause before saying ‘my husband’ which made me grin even wider because I no longer paused thinking of her as my wife. She was; I was; we were.
“Eric,” she turned to me, “this is my Gran, Adele Stackhouse.”
I stepped around Sookie and held my hand out in front of me, but she quickly batted it away (I could see where Sookie got her speedy hands from) and pulled me into a hug saying, “We’re family and families give hugs, not handshakes.”
Was THAT the cause for the strange warm sensation building in my chest?
I didn’t have time to think about it because she let me go and said, “It’s nice to finally meet you in person. Sookie said you had to work, so we weren’t expecting you.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, suddenly wondering if I was intruding. “They ended up having to delay production this week so I just hopped on a plane here. I hope that’s okay?”
“Of course you’re welcome here,” she smiled. “You’re family.” Before I could contemplate that word again she turned to Sookie and said, “Now why don’t you show Eric up to your room so he can get freshened up and I’ll get started on breakfast.”
“Gran,” Sookie whined, “would you please let me take care of you? I’ll start on breakfast as soon as I show Eric where he can leave his things.”
Gran huffed, mumbling under her breath, and finally said, “Fine! I’ll just go change and beat back the Grim Reaper so you can get your jollies by taking care of me to death.”
I laughed seeing their simultaneous eye rolls, but stopped short seeing their simultaneous glares directed at me. I still had my duffle bag slung over my shoulder so I followed Sookie halfway up the stairs with her whispering, “Just wait and see how pissed she gets when I make heart healthy oatmeal for breakfast instead of the biscuits and sausage gravy she would’ve made,” when she suddenly stopped short. “Uhh…wait here for just a minute while I straighten up my room.”
She took off before I could say anything and I stood there for a minute after hearing a door slam shut before realizing it was a silly request. I didn’t care if her room was messy, so I walked up the rest of the stairs and saw there were only two rooms. One had the door opened and was clearly Jason’s childhood room with the sports motif, so I opened the other door saying, “Sookie, I don’t care…”
She looked like a deer caught in headlights standing there with a handful of papers she’d obviously been pulling down from the wall. Seeing my own face staring back at me from all sides brought back the interview her brother had given the morning after our wedding. “…she’s always liked him. Hell, her room back at Gran’s is still covered in his posters.”
I’d completely forgotten all about it and a shit eating grin lit up on my face as I stared back at a red-faced Sookie. I couldn’t resist asking, “Sookie? Is there something you want to tell me?”
She chewed on her bottom lip as her eyes darted everywhere but back at my own before asking, “Why did they have to delay production on your show?”
I dropped my duffle bag onto the bedroom floor and took another step closer to her, still smiling like an idiot, asking, “Sookie? Were you in my fan club?” Instead of being creeped out over the thought, I actually liked the idea that Sookie had had a crush on me for so long. It evened us out since I was addicted to her.
Her blush deepened, which I took as a ‘Yes’, but she ignored my question asking another one of her own. “Why did you get a new phone number?”
Ignoring her question, I continued to stalk forward and snatched her up from where she stood with one arm, making her giggle, and with my other hand I snatched a piece of yellowed notebook paper that had been tacked to a corkboard above her desk. Holding it in front of her still smiling face I asked, “Practice?”
Every square inch of it was covered in her oversized teenage script with the same words repeated over and over.
Mrs. Eric Northman.
At least now I knew where the idea of a heart dotting the ‘i’ came from.
“You’re such an ass,” she laughed. “Couldn’t you have pretended not to see it and not embarrass me?”
I dropped the paper and gripped her ass with both hands, hiking her body up my own with her legs automatically wrapping around my waist, and leaned forward saying, “But you like my ass.” Not wanting her to lie, I stole the impending denial from her lips with a kiss. What had started off as a playful gesture on my part quickly became heated as I fed my addiction with her taste. Her hips ground against my own and Eric Junior stood at attention like Pavlov’s dogs hearing a bell ring as her hands pulled my shirt up my back. I lifted her higher with my mouth trailing lower down her chest wanting to say ‘Hi’ to my long lost BFF’s when Sookie sighed out, “Fuck.”
It all sounded good to me, but as I turned and headed towards the bed she said, “Eric, Gran’s waiting for us downstairs.”
Reluctantly, we peeled apart from each other and took a moment to calm ourselves before Sookie grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the door. It wasn’t quite the skin on skin contact I’d been hoping for, but it would do for now. Sookie’s hopes must have mirrored my own because as we hit the top landing of the stairs she looked back at me saying, “You brought the condoms.”
I nodded as a smile spread across my face; it all sounded good to me.