I couldn’t believe how fucked up the universe was as I hugged Sookie goodbye and whispered into her ear, “Don’t worry, I’ll kick his ass after you leave and since his head is so firmly ensconced in it, it might jar his memories loose.”
I knew her well enough by then to know she was moments away from losing it and she barely whispered, “Thanks Pam,” before walking dejectedly out the door.
The sound of the TMZ video being replayed from the laptop in front of Eric drew my eyes back to him. He still looked pitiful, with tufts of his hair sticking out from underneath the bandage it was still wrapped in, and his lips were stained red from the cherry popsicle Sookie had insisted on swiping across his lips earlier that day before Alcide had to practically drag her from the room, with both of us insisting she get something to eat from the cafeteria. She hadn’t left the hospital once since she was first brought in by ambulance and because this was a fucking breeding ground for germs, she’d picked up some sort of stomach bug, but the only thing she could seem to keep down were those cherry popsicles. Alcide had stocked the freezer in the nurses’ lounge with them and they seemed to be the only thing that kept her going. She barely slept, hardly ate, and rarely left Eric’s side.
And this was the fucking thanks she got for it.
I’d had a good feeling about her from that very first day we’d met, but after seeing her devotion to Eric on a daily basis for the last two weeks, I had no doubts whatsoever that she truly loved him and God knows I’d heard enough fucking dribble from Eric before the accident to know that he loved her.
“Tell me everything Pam,” Eric snapped.
“You’re an asshole. Oh, but wait, you already knew that.”
“What is your fucking problem? Why the fuck are mad at me when I’m the one that has no fucking clue what in the hell is going on?”
He was right, I knew I shouldn’t be mad at him, but seeing him treat Sookie like shit, after everything she’d been through, pissed me off. Normally I’d be the first one to not give two shits about anyone, but I’d grown fond of her, almost as fond as I was of Eric. I had other clients, but he and I clicked from day one and was more than a client to me; I considered him my friend and now, by extension, Sookie was as well. He was like the annoying brother I’d never wanted, but loved just the same, and if I didn’t know any better, I’d think we had the same blood running through our veins. However, thoughts of being related to his asswipe father and the resulting vomit that would spew from my mouth, potentially on my new Louboutins, pushed those thoughts away as I said, “I know you don’t remember, but you love her and you’re treating her like shit.”
“Bullshit!” he laughed angrily. “It’s me Pam. I’m like you; I fuck’em and leave’em. I don’t love them and while I wouldn’t mind fucking her, I certainly don’t love her.”
I shook my head and took a seat next to his bed, Sookie’s seat since she’d practically lived in it for two solid weeks, and said, “You do, so much that you were a bitch to be around the week of the accident because you had to film two episodes and barely saw her. ‘Sookie this’ and ‘Sookie that’. If I didn’t know any better I’d think you only existed by living from her teat. You were a walking chick flick for Christ’s sake!”
I could tell he didn’t believe me before the words were even out of his mouth. “I don’t believe you. What did I supposedly say?”
“What didn’t you say? You told me you’d fallen in love with her and you were a moody little bitch because you wanted her to quit her job so she could be up your ass 24/7, but she wouldn’t do it.”
He interrupted me asking, “Why?”
“Why what?” I asked.
“Why wouldn’t she quit her job? Why would I want her to? Why would I want her ‘up my ass’? Nothing makes sense,” he sighed.
His anger was gone, having been replaced with confusion which unruffled my feathers as well, and I answered calmly, “Initially she wouldn’t quit because she wanted to work, but even more so, she didn’t want to depend on you financially.”
He scoffed at that saying, “Yeah right,” and just like that my feathers were all ruffled up again.
I stood up so I could glare down at him and said, “Yeah. Right. Do you want to know how you ended up here? We were in a meeting with Victor Madden and Sophie-Anne Leclerq when Alcide busted through the door telling us Sookie had been in a car accident. She was unconscious and they’d taken her by ambulance here, her new home away from home. You took off like a bat out of hell and if you could have, you would’ve flown through the skies like a bullet to get to her. Instead you flew in that fucking car of yours and ended up swerving into a telephone pole to avoid hitting another car on your way here. Until now,” I glared at him since he was the reason she’d left, “she hasn’t left the hospital once since she got here two weeks ago. She hasn’t slept, she’s caught some fucking bug from being here all the fucking time and can’t keep anything down except for the cherry popsicles she shared with your dumb ass. The only reason she wasn’t in the room when you came to is because we forced her to go to the cafeteria to get something to eat when she swayed as she stood up from the chair she’s lived in for the last two fucking weeks, about to pass the fuck out. She was like a woman possessed. She wouldn’t leave your side and now that you’re finally awake, how do you repay her? You treat her like a piece of shit.”
Eric was an asshole to most, but he and I worked out those kinks years earlier and I could tell when something upset him. He may be good at bluffing his poker buddies, but I could see straight through the façade to the real him. It was how I knew he’d told me the truth when he said he’d fallen in love with Sookie and it was how I knew at that very moment he was upset over his treatment of her after hearing everything she’d done for him. It made me hope for some small miracle and ask, “Does she not seem familiar to you at all?”
I was glad when he didn’t answer right away. It meant he was really thinking it over and after a while he said, “Maybe, but not really. I didn’t like seeing her cry, which confused me, and when I watched her walk out the door I felt…something.” At my raised eyebrow he elaborated, “It was almost like I didn’t want her to leave, or I didn’t like seeing her go, only it was more than that, but it didn’t make sense to me. It still doesn’t.”
I couldn’t help smiling as I said, “Of course it makes sense. You remember her here,” I said, as I lightly punched his chest over his heart before continuing, “even if you don’t remember her here,” and smacked him in the forehead.
“Oww,” he complained, rubbing his forehead.
“Pussy,” I mocked.
“Bitch,” he smirked. I watched his eyes land on his tattoo again before he held it up to me asking, “And why haven’t I gotten this fucking thing removed yet?”
I smirked back at him saying, “Because you lurrrve her.” My factual statement was met with his cocked eyebrow so I explained, “You were wearing a wedding band to cover it up, but when you two came back from your mini-vacation you’d stopped wearing it. When I asked why, you told me it was because the ring was like a prop for a part you were acting in, which you were in the beginning, but since you two had fallen in love this,” I tapped the God-awful hearts, “meant more to you. Make believe became reality.”
“I suppose she had me run out and buy her a big diamond ring?” he huffed. “OWW!” he added when I hit him a lot harder on his forehead hoping to jog those memories.
“No dickface. She refused from the very beginning, even after I brought over your weight in diamond rings to let her choose one. She’s been wearing her dead mother’s plain gold wedding band.”
“Why did you hit me?” he asked, still rubbing his hand over where the red mark was starting to form on his forehead.
“I’m trying to force your brain to remember her. She doesn’t deserve the venom you’re spewing right now and if you do it to her face, and force her to leave for her own sanity, if and when your memories return you’ll be devastated that she’s gone and you’ll never forgive yourself. I’m just trying to save myself the headache and cut out the angsty middle part of your happily ever after.” I had a baseball bat I kept in my car, just in case, and I’d be willing to use it on him if he didn’t straighten the fuck up.
He shot me an incredulous look at my ‘happily ever after’ claim, but flinched when I raised my hand to deliver another blow to his forehead. It made me smile as he glared back at me and asked, “What do you mean leave? As in leave me or my house? Do we live together?”
Was he always this dense?
“Yes dipshit. You’re married, so leaving you and/or your house would be one and the same. Why wouldn’t you live together?” I swear it was reasons like this that I preferred carpet to hardwood.
When he closed his eyes and sighed I knew he was reaching the point of overload, so I sat back down and waited for the next asinine thing to come out of his mouth. I was surprised at the topic he chose, but happy nonetheless because the curiosity had been eating away at me for the last two weeks.
“What’s with all of the flowers? Why are they all lilies?”
I smirked, saying, “I was hoping you could tell me. Sookie had all of the flowers and whatnot other people sent you delivered to some place she used to volunteer at where old people go to die and instead insisted your room be filled with lilies. She even insisted on playing that,” I motioned to the iPod and continued, “all day every day.”
He reached over and hit the play button so the sounds of a dying cow, or whatever the fuck Sookie said it was, filled the air like a morbid concerto, but Eric’s eyes grew big and his face paled making me ask, “What’s wrong? Do you find it as horrid as the rest of us do?”
He ignored my question asking one of his own. “Did she say why she chose lilies and to play whales’ songs?”
Whales’ songs, dinosaurs fucking, I was sure they sounded the same and it didn’t interest me at all, but I answered, “No. She wouldn’t tell me, but she said you would know and it would bring you back to her.” When he didn’t say anything, I asked, “So what does it mean?”
His lips pursed and he looked like he’d just seen a ghost, but after a moment he said, “I’m not sure, but I heard them…when I was unconscious. I thought it was a dream…”
I got the feeling he wasn’t telling me everything, but I didn’t want to press the issue. I needed to save the big guns for the important things, like playing nice with Sookie until he could remember her. That line of thought had me saying, “You need to apologize to her the next time you see her and you need to be nice so she doesn’t kick your ass to the curb until your memory comes back.”
His eyes closed as he sighed again and asked, “But what if it doesn’t come back? What if I never remember her?”
He looked so lost, I ended up putting my hand on top of his and said, “Then you’re just going to have to fall in love with her all over again.”
He scoffed and flinched a second later, expecting another smack which was good. It meant he was learning quickly and once he spent any amount of time with Sookie, if he didn’t act like an ass, he’d learn pretty quickly that she did love him and he’d fall right back in love with her. After all, it didn’t take very long to happen the first time. I decided it was time for the big guns and dug into my Birken bag for the package I’d been carrying around for over a week. Sookie didn’t want anything to do with them while Eric was in a coma, saying it would be too difficult for her to see any reminders of that time they’d spent together. She said they were the happiest times of her life and didn’t want to see the pictures for the first time during the worst time in her life. She didn’t want to ruin her memory of it and wanted to wait to see them when Eric woke up and could see them with her. I’d gone through them already and figured she wouldn’t mind me showing them to him now, since I thought they’d give Eric some insight on what he couldn’t remember.
I placed the package on the tray in front of Eric and stood alongside his bed as I said, “Here, take a look at those and tell me what you see.”
I watched him open up the envelope and set the DVD aside to go through the GQ photo shoot pictures first. They’d come out very well done, especially the ones of Eric and Sookie together. I knew they’d finally confessed they were in love with one another while they were there and it was so clear to the naked eye in the photos, they might as well have been wearing signs stuck to their foreheads declaring it to the world. My eyes went back and forth from the pictures to watch Eric’s face as he stared at each one with his expression never changing. ‘Shocked’ would be the appropriate description for what I was seeing which made sense. It must’ve been weird for him to see recent pictures of himself, pictures of him clearly in love, and have no memory of them being taken.
“Well?” I asked when he finally put the last one down.
“Well what?” he asked. “She’s pretty, but so are a lot of the other women I’ve fucked in the past and those pictures are posed, so they’re meant to look that way.” I couldn’t even find the will to smile a second later when he yelled, “Oww! Quit hitting me!”
“Quit being a douchebag!” I said, jerking the laptop towards me as I loaded the DVD into it. If he kept this shit up he’d be the new Tootsie Roll lollipop, only instead of how many licks to get to the chewy center, it’d be how many hits to the forehead before his memory came back. Apparently it was going to take more than three licks and this shit was already getting old; fast.
I clicked on the touchpad to start the video as he asked, “What’re we watching?”
“You’ll see,” I snapped.
It was the raw uncut footage they’d filmed when the photo shoot was taking place. It began with Eric adjusting his suit until the sound of heels coming down the stairs had Eric looking up and behind the camera. The awe on his face was very real and when the camera turned, Sookie came into view as she reached the bottom of the stairs. Her face lit up as Eric came into view and stood in front of her, but whatever he’d said to her was too low to hear. She really was a knockout and I still found it a shame she didn’t bat for my team, but c’est la vie. If it were anyone other than Eric, that little fact wouldn’t have stopped me from pursuing her.
The music came on in the background, as the photographer told them to just start dancing, and after a while you could see Sookie loosen up. They danced as though they were the only two people in the room. They only had eyes for each other and it was glaringly obvious they were in love. The video played for well over an hour and I watched it with him having just skimmed through it when I first received it. I knew it would be edited, with music added into the background later on, and released by the magazine, but this was everything they’d filmed and the end of it surprised me just as much as Eric. He was standing next to a tent, with a glare on his face as he looked off to the side, and as soon as the photographer said he was done, Eric stomped off through the sand. The video camera stayed on him as he kicked his way over to where Sookie was lying on the beach and as soon as he scared the little punk that had been next to her away, he crawled on top of her like a blanket. It was almost cute the way he was trying to cover her from prying eyes, but cute soon morphed into obscene as they got lost in kissing each other as though they were all alone.
If I was lucky, he’d peel off her bikini top and I’d get to see the goods.
Sadly, the video stopped there. I supposed whoever was filming thought it was going to get a little too graphic for what GQ was looking for.
“Are you still in Egypt?” I asked Eric, as he shut the laptop.
“You know, floating down the river of denial?” His eyes narrowed back at me, but like I said, this shit was already getting old. “I’ve known you for years and I admit you’re a good actor. Great even, but this,” I pointed at the DVD, “wasn’t acting. You. Fell. In. Love. With. Her. And you’re lucky enough that she fell in love with you because in case you didn’t get the memo, you can be an asshole. It comes from your paternal DNA.”
I thought I might be getting through to him when he didn’t contradict anything I said and he started flipping through the photos again, slowly, with his eyes flickering back and forth from the photo in his hand to the tattoo on his finger. Finally he asked, “Where is my father? I’m sure he’s busy getting his cock seasoned, but did anyone call him to at least let him know I was awake?”
“Uhh..yeah, about that,” I paused. It took for-fucking-ever for him to get rid of that leech and I hoped he wouldn’t go calling him now. If it looked like he might, I’d go get my bat and knock that idea right back out of his head. “You fired him three weeks ago. I’m officially your manager now even though I was doing the job all along.”
His eyes narrowed at me apprehensively as he asked, “Are you shitting me? Because I wouldn’t put it passed you to make shit up, since I have no way of refuting it and you were always after me to get rid of him.”
“No!” I exclaimed, completely offended before adding, “You gave me a raise too, for the added work.” I was sure he was going to; he just hadn’t gotten around to it yet.
“Why did I fire him?” he asked.
“I wasn’t there, but according to you he was disrespectful to Sookie and you were fed up. It’s a shame you don’t remember their initial meeting. She called the cocksucker ‘Paprika’. It was brilliant!” It really was. I got a hint of her personality in the limo on the way back to LA, but when she didn’t back down in the face of The Sperminator and his sidekick, She Who Shall Not Be Named, I knew then she was made for Eric. He needed a strong woman at his side instead of the starry eyed gold-digging cock catchers he tended to hook up with before Sookie. God knows I wasn’t going to be that woman.
“Really?” he asked.
“Really.” Maybe he needed another smack since the redness on his forehead was barely visible now.
He leaned back and closed his eyes as he said, “How could my life have changed so much in the span of three weeks?”
“From what I was told, Jose Cuervo and Dom Perignon got the ball rolling and you two took it from there.”
Lightweights couldn’t hold their liquor.
His eyes opened, again filled with suspicion, as he asked, “And Sookie…” he paused, as if trying out her name on his tongue. I was sure that tongue had tried out a lot more of her than her name, but he eventually continued, “doesn’t remember anything from that night either?”
“Perhaps you couldn’t understand her earlier, through the sobbing you caused her to do, but when your lovely wedding video was playing she told you just that. Neither one of you remembered jack shit the next morning. You just woke up in bed together and naked, you lucky bastard.” I was still allowed to be a little bitter.
“And you believed her?” he asked.
“Why wouldn’t I? You couldn’t remember anything either and she was just as horrified learning the truth.”
“You’d said it was a showmance at first, before…” he paused, while I mentally filled in ‘before you fell in lurrve’, “so why did she agree to it? If it wasn’t for my money, what did she get out of it? Oww!”
Well the redness was back, but four wasn’t the lucky number either. “She’d just been hired as a kindergarten teacher for some overpriced private school and had a one year probationary period. She was afraid of being fired after the video of your wedding hit the news.”
Eric didn’t say anything at first until he eventually asked, “Had?”
“What?” I asked, confused.
“You said she had a one year probationary period, past tense.”
I cocked my hand in the air, in preparation to deliver blow number five, as I said, “She quit when you got into the accident and before you start in on her gold digging ways, I’ll have you know you pestered me for a week straight after you two got back from the GQ photo shoot, trying to come up with a way for her to do just that. You wanted her to quit, but she was too stubborn and too proud to live off of your money. She worked hard her whole life so she could get a scholarship to go to college, but she gave up her dream of being a teacher in order to be here with you when you needed her the most. She hadn’t worked there long enough for them to give her the time off from work, so she had to choose between her life’s ambition and you. She chose you and gave you exactly what you wanted, whether you can remember it or not.”
If he’d planned on saying something nasty about her, he kept it to himself and eventually stared at me asking, “What’s with you? You’ve never had such a hard-on for someone before. Why do you care so much about her?”
Her tits are spectacular?
I hadn’t really thought about it. Sookie just fit; with Eric and with me. It wasn’t an easy spot to fill, between the two of us, but she did it effortlessly; seamlessly. Instead of answering his question, I merely said, “When you spend some time with her, not being a dick, you’ll see for yourself.” I dug back into my Birken and pulled out his cell phone, handing it to him and saying, “In case you want to call her later, but don’t be a dick!”
He looked at it before trying to hand it back to me saying, “This isn’t mine.”
I’d already scrolled through his texts and pictures, so I knew what he’d find there, when he did it too, once I left. “Trust me, it’s yours. I’m going to head out, but I’ll check on you later.”
I walked out of his room so I could call and check on Sookie, with the echo of his “OWW!” following me out the door.
I smiled, striding down the corridor, even though five wasn’t the magic number either.