“Red, black, or blue?”
Zoe cocked her head to the side as I tried to shuffle the hangers in front of my robe-covered body. There were butterflies in my stomach ricocheting like they’d drunk a fifth of vodka…I actually felt queasy. Maybe I was the one who felt like they drank a fifth of vodka…whatever. But tonight, Eric and I were going out. On a date. For the first time. Shit!
“Mommy, don’t be nervous.” I smiled weakly at my daughter as she swung her gangly legs off the side of the bed. “And red. Definitely red. Eric’s favorite color is red. So red.”
I smirked at her and glared playfully. “So you’re saying I should wear the blue one, right?”
She smacked the bed in frustration as I cracked up. Thank God she knew how to break the tension or I may have lost my damn mind before he actually got to the door.
“You’re so mean sometimes Mommy! Jeez!” Her tiny arms crossed in front of her chest and she huffed moodily. “Can I go call Daddy and Daddy Lala now?”
Rolling my eyes, I tossed the rejected dresses beside her on the bed as I leaned down to kiss her head. “Sure munchkin. Just be careful with the laptop please.”
Her face broke out in a brilliant smile and she leaped off the bed. My heart skipped a beat and I fought the natural urge to tell her to be careful. I shook my head ruefully as she grabbed my laptop and tossed it on the plush bed.
Leave it to Godric to book the plushest hotel the budget could afford. At least for Zoe and I, Eric, and himself. I smirked when I remembered the bitch fit Amelia pitched when she found out.
“Where are you?” Eric’s chin rested on my shoulder as he spoke, his eyes trained on the paper in my hands. “Oh good. I told Godric to put you and Zoe with us.”
I shuddered at the shrill whine from the woman behind us. I wasn’t impressed with her at all. We’d met a week ago at the small studio offices Godric owned with Eric and she made it very clear that she disliked children and looked down on me for my “humble origins”.
“Yes Amelia?” The huge hand on my hip tightened slightly and Zoe slipped herself in between Eric and me, hiding behind my leg. She wasn’t Amelia’s biggest fan either and avoided her if at all possible.
“Which room is yours? I hope we’re close-I know all those late nights will make it more convenient that way.” Seriously, her voice sounded like nails on a chalkboard. And my six year old was picking up the innuendo, as evidence by the mock gag she let out.
“Ugh.” The brunette in front of us sneered in disgust as she glared at Zoe. “Can’t you control that child or should I hire a handler for it?”
Eric spun rapidly, placing himself between us and her. I could feel the tension radiating off his body, and honestly, I would probably be frightened if I was her. The glare she was ignoring could probably make paint peel off the walls.
“That child is the star of the movie we are going to be shooting and you’d do well to remember that. We searched high and low for her, and I, for one, am absolutely enamored with her-and her mother. So, if I were you, I’d refrain from making any more derogatory references to either of them in the future. Understand?”
I cringed as I heard Amelia snort in derision and I turned slowly to see skelewhore herself as she popped a hip like she dislocated it, clearly missing the sexy vibe she was shooting for. Eric stepped behind me and buried his face in my hair for a moment as he took a deep breath, probably steeling himself for the inevitable hissy fit he knew was imminent.
“Oh calm down, Eric. It was only a joke!” The glare she shot me seemed to counteract that statement. But then again, I don’t care what anorexic whores think of me so…
“Sure, okay. And I’m actually in the Garden Suite next to Sookie and Zoe. Godric is on the other side of me.”
Her brow furrowed slightly-probably the only movement her facial muscles could make with the extreme amount of botox I’m sure was injected in her face.
“I’ve never heard of the Garden Suite. My room assignment just says 432.”
“That’s because you’re staying in SpringHill Suites and we’re at L’Auberge.” I had never been more thankful for Godric in my life, though I was fairly certain I’d become intimately familiar with the feeling by the time shooting was over.
“WHAT?!? Do you have any idea who I am?!? My father will be hearing about this-”
As she ranted, I felt Zoe quiver in what was probably laughter. But I took the chance to butt in, mentioning something about her being frightened of the yelling and made my timely escape with Eric stifling the laughter I knew was about to bust out of him.
I hauled Zoe up in my arms, her face going right against my neck as she tried to hide her smile, and turned to retreat as fast as my legs could carry us-only to run into something somewhat soft and squishy. I pulled away and tried to contain the grimace my face wanted to make when I saw the muddy brown eyes of Bill Compton.
I stepped back quickly, an oomph leaving my mouth as I ran into Eric’s rock hard chest. “Hello Bill. We were just-yeah.” I tried to duck around him, only to recoil as I saw his hand reach out, presumably to touch my shoulder.
I swear I heard Eric growl behind me.
“What is the problem Sookeh? Why is Amelia pitchin’ such a fit?”
Zoe’s head raised and she fixed her sky blue eyes on the man before us. “Why don’t you say Mommy’s name right? It’s Sookie-like cookie. Duuuuhhhh.”
Eric snorted behind me and buried his face in my hair. I felt his body shake with restrained laughter as I bit my lip. “I think she’s unhappy with the hotel arrangements. Maybe you should go check with her.”
Bill glanced over my shoulder and past Eric, his face paling slightly. “No, I don’t think that would be a wise decision. Perhaps I could escort you to the hotel?” He held out his arm as if we were in the Civil War era and raised his eyes expectantly.
I stared at him, dumbfounded. Did he really expect me to take his arm? When both my arms were toting 45 pounds of little girl AND Eric was behind me, making it completely obvious that we were…something.
“I’ve got it Bill. Besides, you’re in the SpringHill Suites and we’re not. Wouldn’t want to make you go out of your way.” I could hear the sneer in Eric’s voice, though I’m fairly certain Bill missed it, what with his creepy appraisal of my body.
I grabbed Eric’s hand tightly as I hiked Zoe up further on my hip and shuffled past Bill, nearly running out the door. I squealed as Zoe was pulled out of my arms, laughing as Eric swung her in the air before tossing her over his shoulder.
“You sure showed him munchkin! Seriously, how can he not say your name right?!”
I giggled as we walked toward the parking lot, not even questioning the fluttery feeling in my stomach when Eric’s hand reached for mine.
I shook myself out of my musings as I heard Lafayette’s screech echo out of the poor quality speakers. I spun quickly, not bothering to cover my now underwear clad body.
Huh, maybe I should pay attention more. I didn’t even realize I’d put the black lacy barely there undergarments on.
Jesus raised an eyebrow. “You’re looking particularly scrumptious, Cupcake. Any reason for the fancy underoos?”
I giggled and gave him the finger over Zoe’s shoulder, sticking my tongue out as I turned to pull the red dress over my head.
“Ugh, don’t you remember Daddy?!? She has her date with Eric tonight! Duh.” Lafayette ducked off screen as Zoe rolled her eyes dramatically and Jesus’ hand shot up to cover his mouth.
“Oh, Princess I forgot. Thank you so much for reminding me!” He winked quickly when Zoe turned to huff in my direction. “So where’s he taking you Sook? Somewhere fancy?”
“I don’t know actually. He said to wear something moderately fancy.” I checked myself over in the mirror before I spun to face the laptop. My hands smoothed the material down my hips nervously as I waited for their reaction. “What do you think guys?”
My teeth worried at my lip as Lafayette leaned back in the frame, and both their eyes scanned me from head to about my knees. “Shoes, hookah?”
I ducked down, plucking up the black lace pumps I’d stashed near the bed. His head nodded sagely and he puckered his lips dramatically. “You jus give yo’self a smoky eye and some nude gloss and yous be perfect!”
I nodded as I retreated to the bathroom, leaving Zoe to talk to her fathers in peace. I heard her giggle and what sounded like an elephant trumpet as I leaned over the bathroom counter to do what little makeup I knew how.
Twenty minutes later, I emerged and Zoe was still on Skype with the guys. “Aw, Sook. You look wonderful.”
Leave it to Jesus to make me tear up and therefore ruin the makeup I finally managed to make look alright. My eyes widened and I fanned them dramatically, hating myself a tiny bit for the girly display. But I definitely didn’t want this eye makeup to get fucked up.
“So whut is the Little Miss doin’ while yous is out wit Tall, Blond, and Sexy?” Lafayette wiggled his eyebrows.
“Godric is coming to stay with me!” Zoe chirped, clearly ecstatic about the babysitting arrangements Eric had made. Though honestly, I think Godric might have been the one to initiate things. He loved Zoe like a little sister.
Jesus and Lafayette laughed as Zoe wiggled around the bed in a sweet little happy dance.
A knock on the door interrupted our laughter and my heart shot up to my throat. I gasped in a shaky breath as Jesus and Lafayette “Awwww’ed” over the computer and Zoe giggled.
I flipped them all the bird as I strode toward the door, and gasped in another breath as I gripped the doorknob tightly. I swung it open quickly-and let out the breath I’d apparently been holding.
He grinned at me, raising an eyebrow at the relief I’m sure was plastered on my face. “Hey Sook. You look lovely.” He leaned in and pressed a light kiss to my cheek as he scooted past me. He smiled and waved when he saw the guys on the laptop screen.
“Thanks. I just-” The door I tried to shut stopped abruptly. My head swung back around, and my blonde curls smacked me in the face lightly.
And there he was. The breath I was taking hitched in my throat and I nearly choked as my eyes bugged out of my head. Damn, he looked sexy!
I started at his feet, which were encased in not quite combat boots, and my eyes traveled up his extremely long legs wrapped in what looked like black slacks. Those abs, which I knew from my numerous explorations with my hands were absolutely amazing, were hidden by a sleek grey button up with the top two buttons undone. The gap in the fabric highlighted his ridiculously gorgeous neck-I mean, seriously? When have you ever heard of a NECK being described as gorgeous??? And then my eyes finally came to rest on his face. His blue eyes burned into my own as his tongue darted out to wet his lips.
I noticed his breathing was slightly fast as well. Good to know, good to know.
“Sookie- you look…” He gulped audibly as his eyes swept down my body again. “You look absolutely beautiful.”
He stepped forward, and leaned in to press a soft lingering kiss to my lips. He grinned as he pulled back slightly, his forehead resting against my own as he shifted from foot to foot awkwardly.
“What’s wrong?” I pulled back quickly, my brow furrowed in worry. Was he sick? I mean, we didn’t have to go out-
“I just…uh…my pants aren’t as comfortable as they were a minute ago.” His cheeks flushed a dull red as he shuffled past me and I felt a particular part of his anatomy graze my hip.
Oh. Well now…hello.
I heard the guys greet my boyfriend-MY BOYFRIEND-as I shut the door, taking a moment to gather myself. Then, I turned to walk back in the bedroom and stopped short when I took in the scene before me.
Zoe hung from Eric’s neck like a monkey as Godric wrapped himself around his legs. And Jesus and Lafayette weren’t even on the screen anymore, though I could still see our dining room and hear their uproarious laughter through the speakers.
“What the hell did I walk in on?!?”
Eric shot me a mock glare as he kicked Godric away lightly and pried Zoe gently off his body, tossing her on the bed where she bounced with a giggle.
“I have no idea. They just pounced when I walked in.” He shook his head and stepped over to me, his hand wrapped around my waist as he leaned his hip against mine.
“Aww, youz sure make a purdy couple!” Lafayette cooed as he popped back in the frame. Jesus appeared a moment later, apparently settling themselves back in their chairs.
I leaned my head on Eric’s…arm-I couldn’t reach his shoulder even if I had my heels on-and grinned. “Thanks Lala. Well, we should probably go, right?”
Eric nodded silently as he pressed another soft kiss to my hair. I broke away from him with a small sigh, ignoring the chorus of “awwwws” from the peanut gallery and stepped to the bed to retrieve my shoes. I slipped them on, balancing on Zoe’s shoulder before I leaned over to press a kiss to her cheek.
“Now, you be good for Godric, okay? No being a butt.”
“Aww Sook, she’s never a butt!” Godric defended as he flopped on the bed next to her with a grin, reaching his hand out to tickle her side.
I nodded, though I was still apprehensive. She had her moods and Godric hadn’t seen one yet. Lafayette scoffed. “Like she’d show her behind to the man who let her work with her two movie idols!”
Jesus laughed as he agreed and I rolled my eyes. I turned to look at my daughter as she tugged lightly on my hand. “I’ll be good Mommy. Daddy and Daddy Lala are gonna read me a story before they go and then me n’ Godric are gonna hang out.”
Eric snorted behind me and I grinned widely. “You’re gonna hang out, huh?” She nodded enthusiastically and I chuckled again. “Alright, well just be good. And you-” I turned to Godric, my lip finding it’s way between my teeth once again. “-have my number if you need me, right? And Eric’s. And I don’t know where we’re going but-”
Godric shushed me with a hand over my mouth as he popped off the bed. He swiftly pushed me toward Eric and steered us both out the door. “We’ll be fine. Now go. Have fun. I won’t expect you back!”
My cheeks blazed red as the door slammed in our faces and I looked at Eric with wide eyes. His face was stretched into a beaming smile as he shook with silent laughter. “Did he just give me permission to stay out all night?!?”
Eric nodded silently, still shaking with laughter as he grabbed my hand and pulled me down the hall. I was thankful that we were on the bottom floor as the trip to the car took only a minute and soon we were safely ensconced in Eric’s Acura SUV.
“So-” I asked as I buckled my seat belt. “Where are we going?”
He inserted the car key, ignoring me for a moment as he fiddled with the controls until they were where he wanted. Then he cast a glance my way, his mouth pulled up in a mischievous smirk.
“Oh, you’ll see.”
I grinned at his boyish glee and settled back in the leather seat, content to let him take me wherever he wanted to go.
I glanced at Sookie as the streetlights shone through the windows. Her luscious mouth was pulled up in a smirk as she watched the streets of Lake Charles pass us by.
I’d never been to this particular town, but since Godric had managed to procure a house and other filming permits that would suit our needs…this is where we ended up. And it wasn’t actually bad. I’d grilled the girl at the hotel desk, turning on the charm (maybe a little too much because at one point I thought she might faint) to get a rundown of the must go places. I wanted to give Sookie a good night out-one she’d never forget.
Heist was the best night club around according to everyone I’d asked-well except that older woman who apparently hated all things created after 1965. Whatever. She smelled like patchouli and BO so I’m not entirely sure why I even asked.
I pulled up to the valet stand and quickly put it in park. I hopped out and rounded the car, glaring at the teenager who tried to open Sookie’s door before me. And thank God I did because the second her long, toned leg in those sky-high heels appeared from inside the car, I’m pretty sure he popped a boner. But then again, I couldn’t quite tell-maybe he just wasn’t that big.
And why was I looking again?!?! I shook my head slightly and returned my attention to the goddess exiting my SUV carefully, making sure to keep her modesty intact. She looked…God! There were no words to describe how astoundingly beautiful she looked tonight. I mean-she was always gorgeous, but something about tonight…ugnf.
I bit my lip as I offered my hand, which she took gratefully as she grabbed her tiny little purse. She straightened up and pressed a soft kiss to my cheek, ignoring the teenage valet who couldn’t decide if he was more enamored with the gorgeous woman or starstruck by me.
I took pity on the poor kid and slipped him a twenty as I handed him the keys. He stuttered without making any sounds resembling words as he stared wide-eyed at me.
“Thank you so much-” Sookie glanced at his nametag. “-Thomas.” She beamed a grin at him and elbowed me in the ribs as I chuckled.
“No need for the glaring and growling.” She admonished playfully as we walked inside. Huh, was I growling? “Jeez you’d think I was actually interested in either Thomas, the way you’re carrying on.” I just grinned as I put a hand gently on the small of her back as we ambled over to the bar.
The bartender glanced our way, then did a double take as his eyes scanned over Sookie appreciatively. I nearly growled at the lascivious leer he wore as he shot over to take our order.
“What can I get you, lovely lady?” He leaned on the bar, clearly trying to show off his less than impressive biceps. His slightly curly dirty blond hair fell over one eye as he smirked, showing off a way too perfect set of teeth.
“Uh-” Sookie shuffled uncomfortably back against me, pulling my arms around her waist.
“I’ll have a Heineken and my girlfriend will have a Jack & Coke. Thanks.”
The guy grumbled as he grabbed the green bottle from the cooler and slammed it on the bar. Sookie cringed backward at the force and I tightened my arms around her.
“Yours will take just a moment, doll.” The smarmy lech winked at my girl as he turned to mix her drink.
“Uh-I think I’ll just take a bottle of water. Thanks.”
I glanced down at her with a furrowed brow as bar-boy shrugged and reached in the cooler again.
She leaned up and her lips brushed the shell of my ear as she spoke low. “I don’t trust anything that guy would give me.”
I nodded, conceding her point as I slammed a twenty on the bar and spun us both away, grabbing my beer as I turned. The bass pounded through the building, nearly loud enough to shake the floor and we swayed to the beat. Sookie’s ass ground enticingly against my lap and I groaned low in my throat as I threw back half my beer.
We danced for a few songs, grinding and rubbing against each other as the music pounded around us. The lights flashed spastically and bounced off her hair as she spun and twirled.
The breath caught in my throat as I caught sight of the radiant smile on her face. I’d never seen her so…free. She was such a wonderful mother, friend and businesswoman but I’d never seen her just be. It made my heart skip a beat because-well shit. Leave it to my dumb ass to realize that I love her now.
My hands fell to her hips again as she ground against my lap and I held back a groan. The scent of her hair wafted around my face as I leaned down-way down since she was so tiny-and she shivered as my lips brushed her ear. “Hey, let’s take a break.”
She nodded as she glanced over her shoulder, grabbing my hand and pulling me out of the crowd. She stopped by the bar and I took my place behind her and let my chin rest on her shoulder as we waited for a bartender. Thankfully this chick wasn’t a creep and had our drinks to us in no time. Sookie smiled again as she sipped her Jack and Coke, her hips still moving slightly as we stood.
“Hey, you wanna get some air?”
She nodded gratefully and my eyes traced a bead of sweat that ran from her neck, over her collarbone and into her cleavage…yeah-air. Right.
I smiled back at her as she followed me willingly, tugging her tiny body through the crowd and out the side doors onto the patio.
Sookie reared back, dislodging her hand from mine as we were bombarded with flashes. I glanced around-paparazzi? Here? What the fuck?!?
One of the psychos jumped the railing around the patio, knocking into Sookie as he elbowed his way toward me. His flash went off in my face and I watched her-my girl-fall flat on her spectacular ass while her glass shattered on the concrete. And I saw red.
The rage bubbled through my veins and I shot forward to help her, pulling her up and wrapping my arms tightly around her.
“Eric, is this your new girlfriend?!”
“Who is she?!”
“I heard from a source she’s the mother of the girl he’s shooting with!”
The fuckers were all around us, shouting and scrambling for any morsel of information they could get. I tried to move us back inside, but the way was blocked and I could feel the tremors racing through Sookie’s small body. She was terrified and probably rightfully so. These assholes were vultures who had no trouble running over absolutely anyone if it got them a nugget of anything resembling the truth.
“Back off, man!” I’m pretty sure I bared my teeth at the little weasel who tried shoving his camera in our faces.
I had to get her out of here. How the fuck did they find out where we’d be?! This wasn’t exactly a Hollywood hotspot. My head turned from side to side as I searched for an exit. I could see a couple bouncers fighting their way through the crowd, but they were making a startlingly small amount of progress.
“Please, back up. You’re upsetting my girlfriend.” The fuckers only seemed to surge forward even more, pressing in around us as the air turned stale with sweat and excitement.
Sookie trembled, her head buried in my chest as her hair curtained her face. Every time a flash went off she winced and every time someone bumped her she let out an almost silent squeak. But I heard it. I heard it all and every single whimper she uttered broke my heart a little more.
I leaned down, my lips brushing the shell of her ear. “Don’t worry, love. We’ll be fine. I promise.”
She peeked out from behind her hair, ignoring the chaos around us. Her brilliant blue eyes searched mine and after a moment, she nodded slightly.
“Alright, alright, back up now! Clear out, ya hear me?!” A small, wiry man yelled, suddenly appearing beside me as the two bouncers flanked our sides.
With grumbling acquiescence, the nutjobs with the cameras began retreating. They were slow, still snapping picture after picture as they went, but at least they were leaving.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Northman.” The small man gripped my elbow gently and steered me toward an unobtrusive door near the gate to the patio. “Come on in. Let’s get y’all inside so she can relax. Poor thing looks like she’s gon’ pass right out.”
Despite the heaviness of the situation, I smirked at the man’s quirky speech. “Thank you.”
With Sookie still wrapped in my arms, we shuffled slowly inside what looked like a back hallway.
“This way. This here’s my office. Y’all will be safe and sound in here.” He pulled out a key and unlocked the door.
Sookie nearly collapsed once we reached the sofa, her head going to her knees as her breaths stuttered out in wild pants.
“Shhh, shhh. Come on Sook, just breath, alright honey?” I knelt on the floor in front of her, my face centimeters from the top of her head as my hands rubbed light circles on her calves.
She nodded slightly, her small body still wracked with tremors. “I’m-I’m sorry. I just…so…”
My head shook before she’d even finished speaking and I moved to tilt her head up toward mine. She complied with no resistance, a small reassurance since I had been halfway sure she’d be running the other way now.
“You have nothing-nothing-to be sorry for! That was in no way your fault. Hell, you reacted better than I did at my first pap mobbing. I may or may not have slugged someone…on accident mind you. Those LA sidewalks are so treacherous!”
She giggled and my heart soared. Maybe this wasn’t the deal breaker I was afraid of. I knew there’d be one someday, but I hadn’t had my fill yet. I doubted I’d ever have my fill of Sookie.
“I’m so sorry, love. This is just the kind of thing that happens to me. I’m sorry you got caught up in it. I completely understand if this isn’t something you can deal with. I mean, I wouldn’t-”
My rambling was thankfully silenced by her small finger gently brushing over my lips.
“Eric, Zoe’s in this movie too. If she continues down this path, this is probably something we’ll both have to get used to. Yeah, I was scared-” My eyebrow raised on it’s own at her words. “-okay, I may have been terrified. But only because that first guy knocked me down.”
She rubbed her hip absentmindedly and I knew if I were to look there would be a huge bruise blooming on her perfect skin. I moved to sit beside her and take her hand, but she winced again. My eyes turned down to her palms, sighing as she tried to hide them from my gaze.
Red bloomed across her skin. I had no idea how I didn’t see it before, but I’d been preoccupied with the potential demise of our relationship before it had a proper chance to begin.
A throat cleared near the door and my head whipped up, ready to defend my woman to the death. Apparently it was just the man whose office we were in though I’d forgotten he was there at all.
“I got a first aid kit in the bathroom right over there. Feel free to use anything in here for your needs. If you want to give me the number of someone to call, they can send a car for y’all and then we’ll get you all snuck out the back door. Sound alright?”
Sookie smiled gratefully and I stood, reaching my hand out to shake his. He’d been so helpful already and I couldn’t thank him enough for everything he’d already done.
“Thank you. For everything. I don’t know what we would’ve done if not for you.” I grabbed a slip of paper off his desk and scribbled Godric’s number down.
“Eh, don’t mention it. Just doin’ my job. By the way, my name is Sam Merlotte, General Manager of Heist. If you want a nice night out, please don’t hesitate to give me a call beforehand. We’ll get you set up right nice-privacy and everything. I’ll go give this gentleman a call for ya.”
“Thank you so much, Mr. Merlotte. We definitely will.” I smiled as I stepped toward the bathroom, seeing the first aid kit on the small shelf above the sink.
I heard him mutter a goodbye to Sookie, who returned his gesture with a soft smile of her own. Then the door closed and we were alone.