Runway: Chapter 3
I went straight into Sam’s office first thing Monday morning, wondering if he’d heard from Sophie-Anne yet. He wasn’t there, but just as I was turning to leave, he appeared behind me.
“Hey, Sook. I’m gonna make some coffee. Did you need something?”
He turned and headed towards the little kitchen off of the main booking room. He didn’t seem mad at all.
I followed him and as he started to empty the coffee filter, I stepped up to him.
“I’ll do that.”
“That’s okay. Have a seat. What’s on your mind?”
I sat in a little chrome chair by the table and watched as he made the coffee.
“Have you spoken to Sophie-Anne Le Clerq?” I began.
“No. Should I have?”
I took a deep breath. “You’ll probably get a call about Saturday night.”
“Did something go wrong with the show?”
Sam sat in the chair across from me.
“What is it then?”
“This is so hard to say.”
“Sookie, you’re freaking me out. Just say it.”
“Sophie-Anne had to ask me to leave the theater after the show. She was probably very angry.”
“Why would she be angry?”
“Because I was…um…with one of the models in the theater after the show.” There. I’d said it.
Sam smiled, looking much more amused than he should. “With one of the models? I’m assuming you weren’t discussing the show.”
I felt my cheeks flush. “No. We weren’t discussing anything actually.” I looked down at my lap, waiting for Sam’s disappointment.
“Well, alrighty then. How about that?”
I looked at Sam’s face. He was grinning from ear to ear.
“You’re not mad?” I asked.
“Why would I be mad? Because one of my bookers—one who is very single and very beautiful—had herself a little fun with someone? I’m assuming that the model was also single and above the age of consent.”
“Yes.” I was dumbfounded.
“So, where’s the harm? Did you break any laws? Destroy property? Defile the runway?” His smile was positively devilish.
“Oh my god, no. It wasn’t like that. We just…”
Sam cut me off. “Nope, no details, please. I really prefer the image I have in my head right now.” He stood and took two mugs from the cabinet, setting them on the counter. “Do you want me to talk to Sophie-Anne?”
“No. I mean yes, if she calls you. Should I call her? Offer an apology?”
“I wouldn’t. I’d be willing to bet it’s a non-issue. Seriously, Sookie, I wouldn’t worry about it.” He poured coffee into the two cups. “Crème or sugar?”
“Just crème, thanks.”
After Sam stirred the crème into my coffee, he set the cup in front of me and sat back in the chair holding his own cup.
“I think you need a vacation, Sookie.”
“Yeah, you know—take a few days off, go somewhere fun. Relax. I don’t think you’ve ever taken any time off, have you?”
“No, but neither have you.”
“Well, I’m the owner. It’s different.”
“I’m saving my money for…something.” I had never discussed my hopes to someday buy into the agency with Sam.
“So, take a cheap vacation. We get that low rate at The Waldorf in New York for the models. Go see the city for a few days.”
“New York?” I’d never been to New York, but I’d always really wanted to see it.
“Yeah. Why not? I think flights are fairly inexpensive right now. Ask Terry. He just booked a few tickets for some of the models. I can handle any bookings that come in for you.” He sat back and smiled. “And I can handle Sophie-Anne.”
I couldn’t help but smile back. He was so good to me. Not only was he not angry at my indiscretion, but he wanted me to take a vacation. I’d worried for nothing. “Maybe I could just check on a flight.”
“Great.” He stood and picked up his coffee mug. “Just let me know when you’ve made your plans.”
“Thanks, Sam,” I said as he passed me and went towards his office.
Then I went out to the booking table to ask Terry about getting a flight to New York.
Two days later, I had checked into my room at The Waldorf Astoria, eaten a fabulous dinner in the restaurant downstairs and was walking along the sidewalk in New York City. It was a crisp fall evening, and the sidewalks were crowded with people. I loved the feel of the city—the pace of the cars and pedestrians. There were so many different kinds of shops and restaurants. I just meandered from one little store to the next until I found a Starbucks and sat in the window with a hot chocolate watching the people.
I wasn’t certain what I wanted to do during my three days in New York. I had planned everything in such a hurry, I hadn’t really thought about what I wanted to see.
As I headed back towards the hotel, I decided I’d try to go to bed even though my internal clock was still on west coast time. I wanted to get an early start on my first day as a tourist.
I took a shower and pulled my little nightie on. I hung my peacoat in the closet, but decided I’d unpack my suitcase in the morning. I climbed into bed and watched the beginning of Zoolander on TV.
I’d seen it before, but not for a long time—not since I’d started working in the modeling industry myself. I’d forgotten how funny it was, and now it was even funnier to me since I was familiar with the real modeling world.
One of Zoolander’s goofy model roommates reminded me a little of Eric Northman even though the roommate was much younger and not nearly as handsome. I tried to picture Eric as a younger guy, new to the business and as geeky as the guy on the screen. Soon, I found myself wondering if I’d ever see Eric again.
Yes, I was embarrassed about my ridiculous behavior at The Mart, but I still had a mad crush on the man. Making out with him and grinding my hips into his hard-on hadn’t exactly helped in that department.
Had the knowledge that he lived here influenced my decision to come to the city? I told myself that it hadn’t, but I wasn’t very convincing. No, I didn’t have his phone number with me or his address, but I knew I could get both with a quick call to the agency or to Pam.
I turned the TV off and started to fall asleep even though I was excited about my new adventures exploring the city. I was seriously considering getting in touch with Eric Northman. My last thoughts before drifting off to sleep were of our kiss in the dark. Little did I know I wouldn’t be getting much sleep.
An incredibly loud and obnoxious alarm woke me from a sound sleep. I jumped out of bed and pulled on my boots that were sitting on the floor. I looked around the dark room for a second before I remembered I’d left the big fluffy bathrobe hanging in the bathroom.
The instant I started for the bathroom, I was hit with a spray of freezing water. My brain finally woke up and I realized that I needed to get out of the hotel immediately. It was raining in my room and that alarm was screaming in my ears. I flung the door open before thinking that I should have checked it first to see if it was hot. Fortunately, it was just as cold and wet in the hallway, which was filling up with people. I joined the group of people emerging from the rooms as we headed quickly down the hall together and into a stairwell. I was struck at how quietly the people moved. Very few of them spoke as we hurried down the steps. I wanted to get outside, away from that awful alarm and away from the freezing water.
As soon as I got out on the sidewalk, a fireman was directing us up the block and away from the building. I was relieved to be out of the interior rain, but the night air hit my wet body with a shock. My little cotton gown was thankfully long enough to cover my bare bottom, but not by much. I wrapped my arms around myself in a sad attempt to warm myself and also to cover my breasts as the wet cotton clung to them.
The people in front of me finally stopped and so I did as well. A police officer asked us to step closer to the buildings so the sidewalk wasn’t blocked. I backed up to a wall of cold brick and watched as the street filled with men and women in uniforms, all hustling and doing their jobs. There were four fire engines and countless police cars as far as I could see, but the traffic was still moving in the street, although very slowly. People were lining the sidewalk across the street watching the drama unfold in front of them.
I looked down the sidewalk beside me and saw a long line of wet people in various states of undress. Many of us weren’t even wearing shoes and I was grateful to at least have my boots.
Within minutes, I was shivering from the cold and cursing myself for leaving the robe behind. Even wet, it would have been better than nothing. Then I thought of my coat hanging in the closet. But I’d been in such a deep sleep, my brain wasn’t working well when I was awakened by the alarm.
While we waited, some people crouched down to the ground in an attempt to stay warmer, but I knew that my gown was too short for that, so I remained standing. I watched a man in a black suit coming up the line with a pen and notebook. He was taking down names and room numbers and telling people that blankets were on the way.
I was trying to control my shaking and watching the man intently, waiting for my turn, but when he was about ten or twelve people away from me, I heard my name from the opposite direction.
I turned my head and wondered for a brief instant if I was hallucinating. Eric Northman was jogging in my direction, taking his trench coat off as he approached me. Before I could say a word, the coat was wrapped around my shoulders and I was in the warm strong arms of Eric. I felt his hands rubbing up and down my back over the coat and he asked into my ear, “Are you okay?”
I just nodded into his sweater, still shaking hard from the cold. He pulled back a little and a warm hand touched my cheek.
“God, you’re freezing. Come on. I’m taking you home with me.”
“No, wait!” I could hardly talk, my teeth were chattering so hard.
“You need to get warm.”
“I know. I just meant wait a minute. I need to tell this guy who I am.” I turned my head to see the man in the black suit as he inched my way, one freezing guest at a time.
“Okay.” Eric went back to rubbing my back and I went back to nuzzling his sweater until it was my turn to give my name.
“This is Sookie Stackhouse,” Eric said to the man as he wrote into his notebook.
“Four twenty,” I added as I turned to face him, keeping an ear pressed into Eric’s warm sweater.
“She’s going home with me. She’s a friend of mine. Do you need my information?”
“Ma’am, is this man a friend of yours?”
“Yes. His name’s Eric Northman.”
“Do you need my number? Address?” Eric asked.
“No, that’s fine. You can call the hotel later tonight or in the morning and we should have information on our status. I apologize for the inconvenience.”
“That’s okay, thanks,” I said.
“Goodnight,” Eric added before steering me away from the building and up the block.
I pulled the coat tighter around me, missing the warmth of Eric’s body as we hurried up the sidewalk and around the corner. Eric hailed a cab and I climbed in, grateful to be able to sit in a nice warm car.
“Eighty-first and Columbus. And could you please turn up the heat?” Eric asked the cab driver.