Chapter 6 – One More Day
‘One more day’ Sookie thought as she cleaned up the guest room Eric would be using in the B&B. ‘I cannot believe it has been almost 8 weeks since he has been here. Since we talk every day, I feel like he has been part of my life this whole time. God, I cannot wait to see him. Course, he will be dead tired when he arrives from a red eye, I’ll need to give him space.’
“In here Eleanor.”
“Why can’t we go to the airport with you?”
“Honey, we have been through this before. It’s a long trip and Eric will probably be very tired when he lands. I promise I’ll get you from Amelia’s as soon as he’s rested.”
“I need to get the stuff started for dinner tomorrow. Do you want to help me?”
“After dinner tonight, I’ll drop you and Maura at Grace’s house for the night.”
“So you can wake up early and get Eric.”
‘Ok, bags packed and at the door, PC is in its case, have my wallet, yep, ready to go. Jeez, why am I so nervous about this trip? Get a grip Northman.’
“Pam, are you ready to leave?”
“Just get in the car.”
“Seriously Eric, do you need something to relax. You need to sleep on this flight.”
“I’m fine Pam. Just drive.”
“So, you will be back a week from Thursday; then we return together to PA in March? Is that the plan?”
“What are you going to do without your little crumbcake in February?
“Pamela, change the subject.”
‘Uh oh, now I am Pamela. I guess I am testing his patience so I’ll talk about work’. They discussed some scripts that Eric was reviewing for another film later in the year. Pam wanted Eric to take the part. Now that he was an Oscar winning actor, he did not even need to audition or read for parts – most of the time. This new role was offered to him. If he wanted, he only needed to say yes. “Eric, have you considered the part for Dragon Sun yet?”
“I have considered it; I’m just not sure I’m looking to do that part. I have the second installment of Multiverse, Meanwhile being filmed in the beginning of 2013, so that would give me no breaks in between films.”
“Since when did you need breaks?”
“Since I feel like it. You can just drop me at the curb.”
“Ok, see you later next week Eric. Don’t get in trouble.”
Eric checked in and got through security with no issues and only a few paparazzi. Once he was at his gate, he sat down to call Sookie.
“Hi there, I’m all checked in.”
“Good, the girls are at Amelia’s and I’m ready for bed. Maybe you should tell me a bedtime story.”
“I have just enough time before I have to board. I’ll tell you a story of a Swedish Princess.”
“Ok, I’m game.”
Sookie listened while Eric told her the story of the Princess Who Lay on Seven Peas. When he was done, he explained that many believe that Hans Christian Andersen had heard this story and wrote the more commonly known version called the Princess and the Pea.
“Well, you need to tell the girls that story when you see them. I might assign it to you as bedtime duty.”
“I would love to do that, my Swedish pride requires that I set these records straight.”
“So, Sweden is to blame for that pride?”
“Of course. They just called my plane; I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcometo Philadelphia Airport. Local time is 7AM and the temperature is 25 degrees with sunny skies.”
This time Eric was smiling as he landed in Philadelphia. ‘Now, let’s get off this plane.’
‘I guess I’ll be able to make him out, he is so tall. Yep, there he is.’
Sookie’s smile was wide as she saw Eric approach, and his matched. ‘Don’t jump him don’t jump him don’t jump him….’
FINALLY, he passed the security gate and Sookie approached him. He embraced her in a big hug and gave her a chaste kiss on the lips. Walking with his hand on her back he led her to the baggage claim and with his bag, out of the airport.
When they got to the car, Eric asked, “Do you want me to drive?”
“No, I think I got more sleep then you, but I need a nap when we get back to the B&B.”
“Ooh, can we put in a movie and not watch it?”
“I think that’s our first to-do on the list for the day.”
They arrived at the B&B about an hour later and Sookie escorted Eric to his room. “Do you want some breakfast? I didn’t eat yet.”
“I’m sure you’re tired Sookie. We can find something light in the kitchen together.”
She nodded and said she would meet him in the kitchen. She had already prepared a breakfast to put out knowing she would be tired. She grabbed the bowl of fruit, cheese and the croissants and put on the coffee and some tea. Eric joined her and raised an eyebrow in question. “I got it all ready last night when I was more awake.”
“What time do we need to get the girls?
“Not until about noon.”
“Let’s eat then and get a movie started.”
They woke up almost three hours later; Sookie was sitting up with her head angled into the corner of the couch and Eric’s head was in her lap. Sookie’s hand was in Eric’s hair; his nose was nestled into her tummy. She had been running her fingers through it when he fell asleep. Sookie was up first and tried to wake Eric. “No, I’m comfortable” he grumbled.
“Eric, I have to pick up the girls, come on; let me up. You can stay.”
“No, I’ll go with you, just give me a minute.” It took him 20 but they eventually freshened up and headed out to get the girls.
They pulled into Amelia’s and Sookie warned, “They might squeal when they see you, I didn’t know if you wanted to go get them, so they will be surprised.”
“Thanks for the warning. They are running out now, I’ll cover my ears.”
“ERIC!” They screamed. He got out of the car and squatted down to greet them. He was tackled in a hug. He faked being knocked over and they all giggled.
Sookie chatted with Amelia for a few moments. She reminded Amelia about dinner. She was making turkey with all the fixin’s as she promised Eric. Eric’s eyes lit up when he heard the turkey mentioned. Amelia knew a good thing when she heard it and promised to come hungry. After finalizing the time, they departed for the B&B. “What do we want to do before dinner today?”
“Games” “Barbies” Came the suggestions from the back seat.
“Eric turned and told the girls, I packed for winter, we can dress warmly and take a hike then hot chocolate?”
“So, you packed your ‘stylish’ winter gear this time?”
“Yes, did I ever apologize for insulting your lovely Carhartts?
“No, no you never did.”
“Well, let’s see how you dress for the hike; then we can talk.”
With a gasp, Sookie tried to convey she was upset by whacking Eric’s shoulder, but her smile gave her away. ‘I’m wearing those Carhartts on the walk just because now….’
“I’ll check the turkey before we go, but need to be back within an hour and a half to check it again.”
“When did you start the turkey? I had it stuffed before I left this morning, and popped it into the oven after our nap.
At dinner, the girls told everyone about the pond they were getting on the property. Sookie had not told the girls and waited for Eric to return and confirm the details were in the contract as they discussed. He took the girls on a hike to show them the location of the pond and about how big it would be. The girls regaled the room with details of the pond; the fish being added, the fishing deck that would be built, and the fence being built after the movie was finished. They were promising to share the pond with everyone. Later, Eric made good on his commitment to tell the story of the Princess who Lay on the Seven Peas to the girls. After story time, Eric and Sookie watched some TV and retired to their rooms for the night.
At breakfast, Sookie asked Eric about the business plans for the day.
“What time does the lawyer arrive from the studio?”
“Should I plan a late dinner for him.”
“Kennedy Keyes is a she, and we can eat late with her, maybe feed the kids at regular time?”
“Early for kids, late for us – that works. A she, huh?”
“Yes, you will like her; Kennedy and I have traveled in the same social circles for years. She and her husband, a director, have three children. She will work very efficiently to complete the contract quickly so she can return home.”
“Should I have Russell join us tonight to get started with Kennedy right away?”
“That’s not a bad idea. Will Russell and family be joining us at the skating rink after school?”
“You bet. Let’s just talk to him then.”
Eric was certainly a cold weather lover. He skated wonderfully and was clearly happy to be on something frozen. Sookie was a so-so skater and Eric wound up pulling her to her feet several times. He never hesitated to brush off her behind. Sookie was SURE, no ice had struck to her, or at least not every time and warranting that much brushing. She was just about to tell him that, as he picked her up again. This time he wrapped her in his arms while she faked annoyance, brushed off her butt and then kissed her nose. “Did you have something you wanted to say Mrs. Merlotte?”
“Umm, I forgot. Let’s get the kids off the ice; I need to get them home for dinner anyway. Russell, we will see you later?”
“Yes, for the meeting and dinner. Bart is staying home with the Mena.”
On the drive home, Eric told the girls that skating for him meant a frozen pond and that maybe next winter they would have their own frozen pond instead of driving to a rink. “Does it get that cold here?” He asked Sookie.
“It can, I just don’t know how to determine if it is safe, that the ice won’t break through.”
“I’ll show you.”
She left that comment unanswered. ‘Would he be around NEXT winter when the pond could freeze? That would be nice. I truly enjoy spending time with him. My lady bits are screaming though, I have to decide to take cold showers every day, or give in to him charms. I just don’t know what I want now.’
Russell joined them at 7PM for a late dinner and quick review of the plans for the next few days. They only met long enough to ensure everything was prepared to start at 10AM the next morning. Turns out, all the phone decisions that had been made while Eric was in the studio and Sookie was still at the B&B paid off. All the prep work had been done, and neither Lawyer saw any potential issues with completing the contracts by Thursday at the latest. Sookie and Eric were sitting next to each other as the lawyers reviewed their paperwork. He absentmindedly had his hand on the back of Sookie’s chair and was stroking her neck. She had placed her hand on his knee and was rubbing circles.
‘They cannot keep their hands off each other. Moving on from friends will not take long. Anyone can see he makes her happy’ Russell thought and smiled to himself.
As they headed off to go to bed, Sookie informed Eric that she would not be running in the morning “I don’t have Jessica early to listen for the girls. She comes later to help with open mic night.”
“I’ll see you at about 7 then in the kitchen?”
Eric and Kennedy attended the open mic night. The contract meetings were going well, and the lawyers had some work to do on their own so Eric had again helped Sookie in the kitchen to prep dinner. This time, he was bolder with his intentions and took every opportunity to peck her nose or touch her. She knew what he was doing and frankly, it was working. She wanted more.
Sookie and Jessica were somewhat busy in the kitchen while the guests were at open mic so she only had time for a few dances and songs. Kennedy was impressed with Sookie’s musical talent and after seeing Sookie do it, she ran onstage. She and Sookie wound up doing a few duets together. When she returned to the table, she was surprised at herself. “I haven’t been on a stage since I was in pageants, but for some reason, I felt comfortable enough to get up there.”
Amelia praised “you sounded great. Too bad you aren’t from town to entertain us weekly. What pageants?”
Kennedy rolled her eyes and explained that her mother put her in beauty pageants though her tween and teen years. “I hated it, but it did give me confidence in public speaking, poise, and some money for college. You know all the stuff they say about pageants to justify them.” Amelia looked to interject, but Kennedy raised a hand. “I’m not condoning pageants; there are many other ways to learn confidence and poise. I just try to put the pageant life I lived into that perspective to keep me from killing my mother.”
“That makes sense. Sookie and I lead a Girl Scout Troop; maybe we can have that positive influence on the girls without the pressure of competition or the requirement to parade in a swimsuit.”
“That type of organization is a perfect way to help girls grow. I noticed they were all at a table selling Girl Scout Cookies at the door.”
“Tis the season.”
“Well, I will be certain to support them before I head out.”
Alcide chimed in. “The Troop is certainly benefitting from the film. We have already bought dozens of cases for the cast and crew.”
Eric quipped, “You mean you are actually going to save some for March when the crew starts to arrive?”
“I’m not that bad.”
Eric just raised an eyebrow in reply.
“Does Sookie get more break time at these functions?” Kennedy inquired.
Russell shook his head and said not much. “AND, when Eric is here, she hardly ever dances with me.”
“Sorry Russell, you have had her for several years as dance partner. I have to take advantage when I’m in town.”
Kennedy leaned over to Eric, “You have changed. I have been going to the same functions as you for a few years with my husband, but you aren’t behaving like yourself.”
Eric smiled, “You mean, chasing skirts?”
“That’s one way to put it.”
“I know Sookie cured me of that.” He looked up to see Sookie, “were your ears burning?” He pulled his seat back from the table to make room for Sookie on his lap.
While sitting she asked, “Do I want to know what was being said?”
He whispered into her ear, “only that you saved me from my wretched days as a womanizer, and Kennedy noticed.”
“I did? How have I done that?”
“You know what you have done; maybe we can talk more later since we are being rude to the whole table.”
“I already cleaned the kitchen so I only need to see the guests out and grab the tablecloths.”
“Can I kick everyone out?”
“ERIC!” She scolded, but his only response was a chuckle.
Finally, everyone left, the kids were in bed and they were alone in the family room, Eric turned to Sookie and asked, “One date, can we just try going out on one date before I leave again? Sookie, I know you’re scared, but I can’t turn off my feelings. I don’t look at you as a one-night stand. I don’t want to hurt you, so we will just simple enjoy talking and getting to know each other for one date. No funny business, no hanky panky, I promise.”
“No hanky panky. You promise?”
“Yes, I promise. When can we sneak away?”
“Friday would be the earliest; I can see if Russell or Amelia can take the girls after school? We will need to finish up our work in the morning so we can leave.”
With a huge grin on his face, Eric replied, “Great, let me start planning something.”
They teased and flirted with each other through the remaining meetings, and by Friday, they were both anxious for time alone. They rose early, skipped their run and went to work so they could leave as soon as possible. Jessica, Sookie’s assistant was going to arrive by 11AM to cover the B&B phones and handle anything else that came up as needed so Sookie could truly just enjoy the afternoon. Something she rarely did.
By 12:30, they were done with work and quickly got ready to go. Eric had told her to dress for comfort and lots of walking. While he mentioned to bring a coat, he also forbid her from wearing Carhartts promising that he would keep the outside walking to a minimum. Sookie selected skinny jeans, vans, and a t-shirt over a long sleeve shirt. She grabbed her coat and gloves and met Eric in the foyer. Eric was dressed in his trademark jeans, black boots, black tight t-shirt and a leather coat. His only concession to the cold weather was the leather gloves he had.
Once in the car, Sookie asked where they were going and Eric said, “It’s a surprise. I already plugged the location into the GPS so you can’t even see me typing in the address. So just sit back and let me drive.”
An hour later, Eric was looking for a parking lot in Center City Philadelphia. Once parked, he took her hand to help her out of the car and they headed to the Reading Terminal Market. Eric turned to Sookie and could not read the expression on her face. “You mentioned during my last visit that it had been years since you were here, so I thought you might like to check it out. We can go to a fancy restaurant if you want; I just thought ….”
She cut Eric off “No, Eric, this is great. I haven’t been here for years. I used to work in the city before I had my girls and I miss all the vibrancy, the people, the shopping and THE FOOD – let’s find a stand and eat!”
Still holding hands, they wondered a bit before deciding on cheese steaks for lunch. Sookie explained that this was ‘traditional’ Philly food, and they settled in to enjoy their sandwiches. Eric had eaten sandwiches called cheese steaks before, but none were like this. Sookie explained, “Some folks think it’s the rolls and the water (she pronounced as WOODER in Philly fashion) used to make them. Some folks think it’s the thin cut rib-eye that makes it a ‘Philly’ cheese steak. I don’t care, just as long as I get to eat them.”
Having had their fill of lunch, they proceeded to walk around the market. Sookie found some items to buy and Eric surprised her by saying he had packed a cooler with ice in the trunk so she could get whatever she wanted. Once their arms were full of cheeses, homemade sausages, thinly sliced rib-eye (to make cheese steaks at home) rolls, and some sweets for the girls, they returned to the car to deposit their purchases in the trunk.
Sookie asked if they could just walk around town so she could show him where she had worked and just plain stroll down memory lane. Eric was happy to agree, knowing she was sharing a part of her life. They strolled hand in hand through the streets and Sookie pointed out the historic buildings, her favorite restaurants and shops, and her old work address.
“And what did you do at that company?” Eric asked.
“I was a project manager in the IT department. I really enjoyed the work, but when Maura arrived, the commute and the long hours would never have been possible. By that time, Sam had developed InnKeeper and was starting to sell it. I dug in, learned the product and started providing support and working on the code to create enhancements. Those are the InnKeeper tasks I still do. Bill does the marketing and selling.”
They continued walking until they were in the center of town near City Hall. There was a group of reporters in the street, and they wondered what the hot news was. Without thinking, they approached the area and were soon spotted by the reporters. Eric was recognized by one who started yelling and running towards them, blasting questions:
“Eric Northman, has filming started? Can you answer some questions about the film?”
“Miss, who are you? Are you dating Eric? Are you from the area?”
They were trapped by more reporters now. Luckily they were just local stations and no ‘professional paparazzi’ but the situation overwhelmed Sookie and she tucked into Eric’s side.
Unfortunately, Eric had a short fuse when it came to overbearing paparazzi. While these folks were not technically the same scum who chase him around in LA, his temper flared when he realized his wonderful afternoon was about to sour. They had no car nearby, no place to go hide. He was ready to lash out.