Hair and Makeup: Chapter 7
I couldn’t believe I slept past 11. We both had. I glanced over at Eric and he was still fast asleep. I carefully climbed out of bed and went to use the bathroom and brush my teeth. Would he kiss me when he wakes up? Would he want to do more? I found that I was both excited and nervous at the prospect. When I returned to the room, he had turned over and was halfway on my side of the bed, and apparently awake. I perched myself at the foot of the bed and suddenly felt extremely self-conscious about my appearance. Was my hair sticking out all over the place? Did I look slutty without a bra? I debated about returning to the bathroom for my robe when Eric suggested we go out to eat and I felt relieved that we had a plan.
Every woman in the restaurant was staring, naturally. I looked beyond Eric’s shoulder and scanned the magazines on the rack by the door and noticed that he was on two of the covers. People at work naturally found him of interest but that was because he was the central character in the film and all our jobs revolved around him. Here in public, people were fascinated with him for different reasons. It was interesting to watch and also interesting that he seemed unaware of it. Or maybe he was just used to it.
When we got back to my building, Eric pulled me into his arms for a hug. It was the first time he had just held me while we were both standing and felt so good. Nothing like the quick friendly hugs we’d exchanged a few times at work. I squeezed him tightly and my reward was his asking me out for the following Saturday. My heart fluttered and I couldn’t seem to wipe the smile from my face. I think Eric Northman likes me. I got a soft and sweet kiss with just the slightest hint of tongue before he drove away with my heart.
As I turned to head back upstairs, my good mood was instantly snapped in two with a Bill sighting. He was standing at the end of the block in his running clothes, just watching me with no expression. I wasn’t about to let him ruin my day so I just gave him a wave and went inside. He didn’t wave back or even smile. Fine. Whatever. Eric Northman likes me.
Grocery shopping, a quick apartment cleaning and a load of laundry later, I got a very sweet text from Eric. Normally, I change the sheets on Sunday night, but I wanted to smell him in my bed and I made an exception. I turned out the lights at about 9:30 after reading my text message one last time and replayed my heavenly weekend over and over in my head until sleep took me.
Monday morning, Eric came to work clean-shaven for I think the first time ever. He said he felt weird having me shave him now, but I put a stop to that right away. It was my job (and one that I enjoyed), and in spite of our obvious shift in status, I saw no reason to change any of our habits at work. I suggested that some day he might find an opportunity to try shaving my legs, putting us on a more equal footing, and he seemed to like that idea. Tuesday, we were back to our regular routine, except he did steal a kiss here or there when no one was in the trailer.
It was another tough and long work week, but it flew by because I had the weekend to look forward to. I didn’t ask what Eric had planned for us. I kind of liked the idea of being surprised. I did know he was picking me up at 7 and we had dinner reservations. I was almost ready when the doorbell rang and I hit the buzzer to let him in, but when I opened the door, my high spirits fell into the pit of my stomach. Bill.
I told him that I was just on my way out, but he insisted on coming in—said he had something important to say. I watched the clock and hoped Eric would be late as Bill declared that he still loved me and hoped I would give him another chance. I was polite but firm: not interested. He got a really weird look on his face that I’d never seen before. I kept asking him what was wrong and he finally told me. The blood drained from my face and I thought I might faint for a brief instant. I stepped back to grip the floor lamp, being the closest piece of furniture, and then decided that I really needed to sit down. But I didn’t want to sit and fall apart in front of Bill so I just turned and ran into my bedroom and closed the door.
The tears came, of course, and I just buried my face into a pillow on the bed that I had set just so, trying to make the room look nice for Eric. When I thought of Eric, I really lost it and just started sobbing. I kept trying to get it together, knowing that Eric would be there any minute. I thought of texting him and cancelling, but my phone was out in the living room with Bill, whom I absolutely couldn’t face. Suddenly, I heard Eric and Bill having a conversation in the living room and wished I could fly out the window and never return. Finally, the front door closed and it was silent. I rolled back over and continued my cryfest, grateful to be alone.
For some illogical reason, I just assumed that both men had left, but of course, I was wrong. A light knock on my door brought me out of my wallowing and I made an attempt at sitting up and wiping the tears away, certain that my mascara was all over my face. My voice sounded shaky. “Come in.”
Eric looked so concerned when he came into the room that my heart broke even more and the tears started right back up. “What is it, Sookie? What happened?” He sat on the bed and pulled me into an embrace. I clung to his shirt and sobbed like a baby. He kept rocking me and shushing me, occasionally kissing my face and wiping the tears. It seemed to take me forever to finally get myself under control enough to even answer him. But then I’d look into his eyes and know that I was about to ruin everything with my next words and I’d start crying all over again. Finally, I decided to just say it through the tears and forget about trying to keep it together. I pushed him away and looked into his sweet face and told him.
“That was Bill, my ex.”
“Yeah, I just met him. He obviously upset you. Can you tell me what happened?”
“This is so hard.” I think he sensed that I had some bad news and he sat back a little, bracing himself.
“Just say it.”
“Apparently Bill had been cheating on me for awhile before we broke up. He came to tell me that he may have given me gonorrhea.” I put my face in my hands in complete horror and shame. The sobs erupted all over again.
Eric pulled me into his arms and kissed my hair. How could he still be so sweet to me after this? “It’s okay, sweetie. It’ll be okay.” Oh my god, did he just call me sweetie?
I mumbled into his shirt, “I’m so sorry.”
“No, no, no. You haven’t done anything wrong. There’s nothing to be sorry for. We’ll sort this out. I promise it’s not the end of the world. Please don’t cry.”
Once I’d calmed down, Eric left me to go into the living room. I heard him on the phone cancelling our dinner reservations and placing an order to be delivered. I washed my face and kicked my heels off before joining him in the living room. “You’re not leaving?”
“Leaving? Of course not. We’re having dinner. We’ll just stay in instead of going out, that’s all.”
We sat on the couch and had a very grown-up conversation about making doctors’ appointments. There was a huge bouquet of stargazer lilies on the coffee table with a big peach colored ribbon around it. I was overwhelmed by the romantic gesture and then fought the tears again as I found a vase in the kitchen, wondering how romantic he was feeling now.
I went over the timeline in my head and realized that Bill must have been seeing other people for a long time because it had been over three months since we’d had sex. The end of our relationship had been very lonely for me, but apparently not for Bill. I hadn’t noticed any symptoms or anything, but I had no idea what they might be or if there even were any. I’d been on the pill for years, but Bill and I always used a condom in addition just to be safe. But there had been two incidents of condoms breaking and one was right at the end there—one of the last times we’d had sex.
I realized, of course, that I had exposed Eric, even though we had used a condom in our one and only encounter, but they aren’t failsafe, obviously. Then, I realized that I’d have to say one more very hard to say little tidbit. I sat back down beside him, but not too close. “You know…um…anyone you’ve been with since you were with me will have to be told as well.” I held my breath.
“Since I was with you? Sookie, there hasn’t been anyone since that day. Are you kidding? I haven’t been with anyone in months—many months. Do you really think I’d be with someone else after that day?” I shook my head. No, I didn’t really think he was the type, but obviously, I wasn’t exactly the best judge of character when it came to men and their sexual habits. “There’s no one else to tell, okay?”
I set the table and we ate probably the most expensive food ever delivered to my apartment, and it was delicious. The mood was still fairly somber although I was trying to talk about other things and behave normally. Finally, Eric broke the tension by saying, “You know someday we’ll look back on this and laugh. We’ll say, honey, remember back in the beginning, that time I pounded it into you over your makeup table and you gave me gonorrhea? Wasn’t that something? Then we’ll, I don’t know, crack up because our grandkids would never suspect it.”
My mouth fell open and I stared at him, wide-eyed for a minute and then we both completely broke up laughing.
“Come here.” He took my hand and pulled me into his lap, hugging me tightly. “This isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen, you know. It’s a solvable problem. And not your fault. And it doesn’t change anything between us. I mean, I am sorry that you were hurt to learn about your fiancé cheating on you, but that’s in the past now. He won’t hurt you anymore.”
We sat on the sofa and watched How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days. I’d seen it, obviously—I owned it. But Eric never had. He’d turned down the lead role due to scheduling conflicts and after seeing it, was relieved he wasn’t in it. When the movie ended, we did some smooching on the sofa, but this time Eric stood to leave when we started to get sleepy. I walked him to the door and he hugged me, rocking me back and forth, then pulled back to look at me. “What are you doing tomorrow?”
“Would you have time to come to the beach for lunch? You can see my house. We’ll go somewhere fun. What do you say?”
“What time should I be there?” That got me a last perfect kiss before he left.
I set the alarm for 9 so I could get my laundry done in the morning. By noon I was on my way to sunny Malibu. I wore my low-cut black t-shirt with a black and white print skirt and I seemed to have made a good choice by the look on Eric’s face when he saw me.
Eric’s house was very contemporary with lots of huge windows facing the ocean. It wasn’t terribly big—only two bedrooms, but really perfect for one person—one very rich and successful person. I secretly pictured myself living there with him, but it was hard. The house seemed so completely masculine.
We drove to the Inn of the Seventh Ray in Topanga Canyon for lunch. It was incredibly beautiful and romantic. Sitting at a table outside in the filtered sunlight, we were surrounded by old trees and beautiful people. The food was all organic and delicious, attracting a mix of hippie-types and movie stars. It wasn’t the usual crowd I was used to seeing in Beverly Hills, but a lovely change of pace.
After lunch, we drove back to Eric’s and took a walk on the beach. He held my hand and stopped to kiss me several times. He said, amazingly, he rarely went out on the beach even though it was essentially his back yard. I told him I’d be out there every day if I lived there, but he said that’s what he thought when he first moved there too. Like anything else, he said, you just kind of get used to it. I kept it to myself, but thought I sure could see myself getting used to it, but in a good way.
When we got back to the house, we were standing in the kitchen getting some water when I noticed him glance at his watch. “I should probably be going. You have stuff you need to do?”
“Yeah. I need to work on my lines for tomorrow and Tuesday. There’s a lot on Tuesday. Big monologue.” I nodded and he took a step closer. “You know, this is my favorite t-shirt.” He reached out and touched the edge of the fabric on my chest, trailing a finger gently down and over my nipple. Then he looked back to my face for a reaction. I said nothing and he seemed to accept that as permission to continue. He took another step and bent down, kissing the swell of skin above the neckline. “So beautiful.”
I reached behind me and gripped the counter. My other hand went to his hair as I watched his mouth dip lower. He softly bit my nipple through the fabric, sending waves of tingly sensations between my legs. I wanted…something…I didn’t even know what, so I just whispered, “Eric.”
His mouth was on mine and a hand roughly cupped the breast he had just so gently teased. My mouth opened and I sucked on his tongue, getting a groan in response. I let go of the counter and pulled him to me, holding on tightly, needing his tongue and his hands and his body against mine. We stood and kissed passionately for a long moment before I realized that I needed to go before we went any further. As much as I wanted to make love to Eric, I knew that we couldn’t. He had lines to learn and I may have a venereal disease. That thought was like throwing ice water on my libido, and so I broke the kiss and told him I’d better go.
I got ready for bed around 9, reeling from the mixed emotions of the weekend. I was more in love with Eric, but also full of dread and embarrassment about the whole v.d. thing. Damn Bill and Lorena and any other slutty women he’d been with. I hated to go to sleep on such a negative thought and so I switched gears and remembered the way Eric looked at me after touching my breast. I was on my way to dreamland with a picture of a lustful Eric in my head when it suddenly dawned on me that he hadn’t said anything about next weekend. Last weekend, he asked for my Saturday before he left on Sunday. And obviously, the week before, we’d had that silly mix-up because he hadn’t specifically asked for my Saturday night. I had a sudden wave of dread. Did he not make plans because of the whole gonorrhea thing? Was he waiting to see how that turns out before moving forward? What if, god forbid, I have it, and even worse, what if I’ve given it to him? Will it be the end of us?
As if on cue, my phone dinged from my purse. I stumbled out of bed and read it in the dark: “I forgot to ask for your Saturday night. Want to be the first in line you know. Are you free next Saturday? Care to make a love-starved movie star’s day and say yes?” I giggled alone in the dark as I typed my reply: “Yes.” I thought we were all done, but heard the ding again as I was climbing back into bed. “Night, my sweet.” Oh my god. I could hardly breathe as I typed back: “Night.” And then I was off to bed and off to dreamland with visions of a love-starved movie star in my head.