Hair and Makeup: Chapter 24
I flew to New York on Friday and checked into the penthouse suite at the Royalton. I relaxed and enjoyed the city for most of Saturday until it was time to get dressed for the premiere. I walked down the hall to collect Selah when our limo arrived. She was in the second of apparently three penthouse suites. She looked stunning in a long beaded gown in different shades of blue. I looked like every other guy ever looked in a tux. We waved for the crowds and the cameras on the red carpet and sat through the film together once inside. I wished I’d had Sookie’s hand to hold.
We were whisked to an after-party downtown, but didn’t even stay for a drink. We posed for some more photos until Selah whispered that her feet were killing her and I figured we’d done enough. The car dropped us back at the hotel and she invited me into her suite for a drink
Selah’s suite was a little smaller than mine, but just as nice in spite of the silly three-legged chairs and other impractical but beautifully designed art deco furnishings. She had the same giant gift basket that I did—from Regis and Kelly I think. I took the bottle of red wine out and started digging around for a corkscrew. As I was pouring the glasses, Selah backed up to me and asked if I’d unzip her. I complied and as the fabric of her dress fell around her waist, she turned back to me, making sure I got a good view of her breasts as she walked out of the room. “I’ll be right back.”
Selah had spectacular breasts. They were the perfect size and shape to fit into a champagne glass with soft brown nipples. My dick certainly liked them. I swallowed the merlot in a few big gulps and refilled my glass. This could work out just fine. Selah was obviously interested. (She had been involved with another actor when we filmed together.) Being seen canoodling in public here could only be good for the film. I was certainly single and sleeping with Selah would bump Sookie from that spot of being the last woman I’d slept with, which couldn’t hurt. I needed to move on. I needed to stop thinking about Sookie.
I set the glass back down on the counter and turned and left the suite. As I was getting ready for bed, I had a text: “Where’d you go?”
I typed back, “Early interview. Good night.” I had no interviews on Sunday, but was looking forward to just enjoying the city on my own. I climbed into bed and thought about Sookie even though I knew I shouldn’t.
Monday was The Today Show. Tuesday, The Early Show and Letterman. Wednesday, Good Morning America and Regis and Kelly. Thursday, The View. I never saw Selah again. We had different schedules so we could divide and conquer. If I was on a show Monday and she was on Tuesday, that put the film on two days instead of one. I also did a ton of radio, but none of it was live because I was tied up in the mornings.
I flew back to L.A. on Friday. I had an interview at E! on Saturday, Ellen on Monday, Jay Leno on Tuesday, Conan O’Brien on Wednesday, and then I needed to decide what to do about Hawaii. I could certainly use a vacation, but remembered how depressed I was at Two Bunch Palms staring into the fire, missing Sookie.
I was sitting on the plane on my way back to L.A. when I realized that I had gone from being mad at Sookie to just missing her desperately. I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt like I missed someone. I always got the someone I wanted, but I had obviously handled this someone very badly or she wouldn’t have wanted to get away from me. I tried to think of what I’d do differently in my next relationship so I could avoid this kind of pain and regret. And then I indulged myself in a little fantasy of what I’d do differently if Sookie would give me another chance. Maybe I should have told her that I wanted a life with her, or at least that I was thinking ahead about it. Maybe I should have told her that I’m a possessive and controlling caveman but that I loved her. Maybe I should have told her that if she ever left me, she would break me in a way I’d never imagined.
Saturday morning, I opted to drive myself to my interview at E! on Wilshire. It was right across from the SAG building. E! taped the interview and set it up so I could get questions from people online and interact with them while I talked about the film. When we finished, I stayed for the lunch brought in for the crew before taking off.
I knew what I was doing and knew it was wrong, but I did it anyway. I parked in front of Sookie’s building and looked up to her window. If she had worked all week, chances are she was up there asleep right at that very moment. I got out of my car, not really sure what was next. As I started towards the door, I was distracted by two people emerging from a downstairs apartment. Geek-boy and a skinny-ass brunette appeared. I got a little flustered, getting caught stalking his former fiancé, so I turned and started to walk away from the building. He and I exchanged a nod in acknowledgement, but without a smile. Enjoy your gonorrhea, you two.
I walked to Newsroom and ordered two smoothies before heading back with at least the beginning of a plan. When she opened the door, I smiled and asked if she wanted the Raspberry Rush or the Fireball and held both cups out for her. She looked completely beautiful in a tank top and yoga pants with a little leather string around her neck that pointed down between the most perfect breasts on the planet. Her hair was a mess and she looked like she’d been asleep. “Raspberry Rush.” I handed her the cup and she shook it and gave me a warning look. It was obviously already half gone, being my favorite as well.
We sat on the sofa, but not too close and I started out by casually asking how the film was going. “Actually, I got fired yesterday.” I immediately started thinking of who I should call to chew out and get her her job back, but kept it to myself.
“Well, I guess technically, even though I did get fired, it really had nothing to do with me. They fired Quinn for artistic differences.” She made little air quotes. “I was just the fallout.”
“I’m sorry. Are you okay?”
She nodded, then reached out to the coffee table and switched the cups, so I’d get back the smoothie she knew I wanted.
I touched my finger to the leather string around Sookie’s neck. She pulled it off, revealing the little opal ring that had been secretly nestled safely in her cleavage. She set it on the coffee table and went to her bedroom. When she returned, she set the little box on the table and opened it. Of course, I recognized the box and saw that it now held her opal necklace and earrings. She began to work on the leather knot until I stopped her.
She turned her face to me as I set the leather string and ring back on the table and asked her, “What are you doing?”
“Giving these back to you.” She reached for the leather string again.
“Wait. Just wait.” She stopped but didn’t look me in the eye. “Why are you wearing the ring around your neck?”
I watched her bottom lip quiver very slightly and a tear spilled over her lower lashes. She wiped it away quickly as she whispered, “I missed you.”
“Okay.” Maybe we were getting somewhere here. “So, you’ve been sad?”
She nodded, wiping away more tears. When she composed herself a little, she went on. “I knew it would be hard, but it’s been…well…harder than I thought.”
“You knew what would be hard?”
“Moving on after the movie—after you broke up with me. It was just so…”
I interrupted her. “Sookie, you broke up with me.”
She finally looked into my eyes, a little surprised. “Well, yeah. But I knew what was coming.”
“You did? You knew what was coming? Well, I guess you did know we’d be going to Two Bunch Palms, but I hadn’t even told you yet about getting your tickets to New York and Hawaii. You just assumed we would break up after the movie? Fuck, Sookie.”
“But you went to Two Bunch Palms with Sophie-Anne.”
“No, honey. I went by myself. She just happened to be there. So were the D.P. and his wife. A lot of people go there after filming.”
“Yeah, I shot there once, but I’ve never been as a guest.” She thought for a beat before continuing. “You never said anything about going there.”
“Of course I did. I planned for us to go right after we wrapped. That’s why I was so pissed that you started another film.”
“Eric, I have to work.”
“So, work with me.”
“That’s not often enough to live on.”
“What are you talking about? Charge whatever you need. Sweetie, you’re in my contract. Just say what you want to earn and it’s yours. People don’t say no to me.” Then I laughed a little. “Well, except you.” She seemed to be studying my face for a minute. “I didn’t tell you about Two Bunch Palms?” She shook her head. “God, I’m sorry. I could have sworn I did.”
“Well, it doesn’t matter. I took the film—I needed the work, so I couldn’t have gone to Two Bunch Palms or to New York anyway. Or Hawaii, for that matter.” She looked down at her lap, her face still so sad. “When did you go to Hawaii?”
“Our tickets are for Thursday.”
Sookie chewed on her bottom lip a little while I waited for what seemed an eternity. Finally, she spoke, her voice tiny. “Which island?”
Her eyes met mine with a tentative look. I couldn’t suppress the beginning of my smile. “Kauai.”
She looked back down. “I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii.”
“It’s really beautiful. Very romantic.” I reached for the leather string and began to work on untying the knot. As I got it open, I pulled the ring off. “You were right about one thing.”
“Rings do have meaning.” I took her hand and slipped the ring onto her finger. “You’re not just some set romance for me, Sookie. I love you. I might have fucked that all up somehow, making you think it would be over. I should have told you about New York and Hawaii, and about Two Bunch Palms, even though I thought I had. I didn’t want to scare you away. I’m a controlling, spoiled idiot. And I’m sure this isn’t the last time I’ll fuck up. But, next time, please don’t run away from me when I do.”